l’lIH>l k.llfll1l t I.’nLetter from Washington: Politics & Culturenby Edward J. LynchnMeridian House International, thenWashington mansion selected by Thenhigersoll Foundation and The RockfordnInstitute to unveil the T. S. Eliot Awardnfor Creative Writing and the Richard M.nWeaver Award for Scholarly Letters, embodiesnmany of the paradoxes central tonthe current decade. Located in a city ofnstraight lines and ponderous style,nMeridian House is a decorous, even graceful,nedifice in a neighborhood a bit removednfi-om the routine business of government.nIn a city where the dominantnlanguage is a gray bureaucratese directednmostly toward the nation’s ills, the Latinninscription over Meridian House’s doorsnannounces, “Where happiness dwells,nevil will not enter.” Just as MeridiannHouse is apart from governmentalnWashington, The Ingersoll Prizes reflectnachievements of culture that inevitablynremain apart from the government undernwhich they take place.nIngersoll Foundation President JohnnHoward, announcing the awards, notednthat many citizens, even those who havenattended prominent colleges and universities,nhave not been introduced tonthe philosophical and religious thinkingnthat constitutes the moral foundation ofna free society. In the absence of this intellectualnlink to the moral foundation ofnhuman liberty, there are increasing claimsnto “rights” and a persistent erosion of anserious notion of human responsibility.nDr. Howard sees these awards as a reflectionnof the commitment of The IngersollnFoundation and The Rockford Institutento “help people understand that thenfunctioning of a free society dependsnupon the voluntary cooperation ofnmembers,” that is, on citizens who voluntarilynassent to the standards that constitutenthe foundations of freedom.nRockford Institute Vice-PresidentnLeopold Tyrmand described the intel-nDr. Lynch is a free-lance ivriter.n40inChronicles of Culturenlectual gap that these awards fill. RichardnWeaver’s first book was Ideas Have Consequences,nin which he effectively denouncednthe notion that individuals aren”really” governed by impersonal historicalnand/or material forces which are beyondncommon understanding, let alonencontrol. Mr. Tyrmand surveyed thenNational Book Award winners of the pastn15 years, recounting the mediocritiesnand intellectual flyweights who were rewardednfor peddling the bizarre and thenperverse. Conversely, to cite only onenexample, no National Book Award evernwent to Leo Strauss, despite the fact thatnhis intellectual accomplishments willnendure far beyond the ephemera thatnappeared during the years that Straussnpublished.nThe Eliot and Weaver awards werenannounced as Washington commencednyet another round of public discussionsnof the woes of modem education. ThenNational Commission on Excellence innEducation had recently issued its recommendationsnfor educational progress.nIn keeping with the demands of politicalncompromise, the Commission gave onlynthe most general indication of its notionsnof excellence, effectively abdicating re­nIn the Mailnsponsibility to define the goals beingnpursued even as it demanded greater resourcesnto pursue them. In contrast tonthis aimless expression of political compromise,nThe Ingersoll Prizes providenprecise examples of excellence—^bothnin the choice of exemplars for whomnthey are named and, one presumes, innthe selection of awardees—^for thosencommitted to serious defense of the intellectualntradition of human liberty.nAmid the hors d’oeuvres and canapes,npeople experienced in the political reflectionsnof cultural trends welcomednthe new awards. Reception hosts Rep.nLynn Martin (R-IL), Rep. James Leachn(R-IA), Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN),nEdwin Feulner, president of the HeritagenFoundation, and Robert Nisbet, professornemeritus from Columbia University,nwere joined by nearly a hundred guests.nThe education community, includingnUtah Supreme Court Justice and formernBrigham Young University PresidentnDallin Oaks, American Council on EducationnPresident Jack Peltason, CatholicnUniversity of America President FathernWilliam Byron, and Department of Educationnofiicials Wendy Borcherdt andnCharles Heatherly each praised thesenAmerican Political Writing During The Founding Era, 1760-1805, Volumes I and II,nedited by Charles S. Hyneman and Donald S. Lutz; Liberty Press; Indianapolis, IN. “Industrynand Frugality are Virtues which have been buried out of Sight; ’tis Time, high time to reviventhem.” So wrote Philo Publicus to the Boston Gazette in 1764. This outstanding collection, somen1300 pages in length, shows how little has been learned during the history of the country.nAJokeBookforJob:TheStoryofI. &M. Ottenheitner,PublishershyM&daa£Soosaoa;nTop Hat Press; Mtimore, MD. A book about a publisher of joke books, even written in the firstpersonnform by a fen, isn’t necessarily fimny, even when the contents aren’t necessarily fectual. Ancase in point.nThe Darkness of God: Theology after Hiroshima by Jim Garrison; Wm. B. Eerdmans;nGrand Rapids, MI. The author states, “I shall be arguing that our inherited theistic notion of Godnis inadequate in a secular world ‘come of age,’ and that the doctrines of theSummumBonum andnthe privatio boni, by which the church has dealt with the problem of evil, are utiable to helpnChristianity cope realistically with the overwhelming power of evil confronting them.” Presumably,nnotions like the New Testament go out the window in the nuclear age.nnn