For months my wife has been telling me that I should start a blog. This request is no doubt borne out of equal parts her respect for my writing capabilities and the inordinate amount of time I spend devoted to the topics at hand that this blog will cover (more on that in a moment) as well as a concern and respect for my Facebook friends, many of whom have by now blocked me from their news feed out of despair of my use of the platform for politics, economics, and faith that most people expect to be cute pictures of kids (I do plenty of that as well). Thus, the result is an endeavor on my part to have my own contribution, however small, to intellectual debate around the aforementioned topics with occasional excursions into arts and entertainment, although I will admit up front my tastes in these latter two tend to gravitate towards the obscure. Whether this blog somehow miraculously and graciously amasses some form of a faithful following or whether I post in relative silence, either way, I will enjoy the project and the benefits of writing for its own sake.
The primary focus of this blog will be the political, economics and faith discussions that matter to the modern world, at least from my own vantage point. My own intellectual biases tend towards the classical liberal tradition. Before I raise the ire of many a conservative fellow, allow me to explain that the classical liberal term is more closely associated with what one might label “libertarian” in the modern era, with perhaps the important distinction that I will admit that I possess a few libertarian heresies such as being pro-life and believing that there is some role for government in a society and in some cases a social safety net can be acceptable so long as it is backed by general rules rather than special favors given to a certain class of individuals. Hence, my use of the more historical epithet of classical liberal to describe where I more closely align from an ideological perspective.
A short description of classical liberal is someone who espouses political and economic freedom buttressed by the importance of a well-functioning but limited and non-corrupt government that supports the rule of law and limits to the highest degree possible the interference and coercion of man. Think of the writings of John Locke, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman as lions of classical liberalism.
I chose the name “The Gymnasium” for purposeful overlapping reasons, both intellectual alignment and for humor. Gymnasium in America has long been associated with physical strength. Less known is its more historic origin as a name for a place of learning. Ancient philosophers such as Plato opened Gymnasiums as a place for intellectual pursuits with which they amassed students and followers. More humorously, the etymology of Gymnasium quite literally means to “exercise naked.” The metaphor for this blog is that this is a place to exercise our ability to mentally exercise “naked” and free of fear of vitriol and personal attacks. Thus, the only initial ground rules that I will lay out here is that I expect this to grow into a place of intellectual thought, discussion, and perhaps rigorous and heated debate at times. However, when comments tend towards ad hominem attacks, that is where I will draw the line.
For my eventual followers. I heartily welcome you to my blog and hope to have great thoughts and debates with you all in the future. I introduce this blog with one of my favorite quotes that I believe is appropriate for my vision for The Gymnasium:
“We must not attempt to fly, when we can scarcely pretend to creep. In considering any complex matter, we ought to examine every distinct ingredient in the composition, one by one; and reduce everything to the utmost simplicity; since the condition of our nature binds us to a strict law and very narrow limits. We ought afterwards to re-examine the principles by the effect of the composition, as well as the composition by that of the principles. We ought to compare our subject with things of a similar nature, and even with things of a contrary nature; for discoveries may be, and often are, made by the contrast, which would escape us on the single view. The greater number of the comparisons we make, the more general and the more certain our knowledge is likely to prove, as built upon a more extensive and perfect induction.
If an inquiry thus carefully conducted should fail at last of discovering the truth, it may answer an end perhaps as useful, in discovering to us the weakness of our own understanding. If it does not make us knowing, it may make us modest. If it does not preserve us from error, it may at least from the spirit of error; and may make us cautious of pronouncing with positiveness or with haste, when so much labour may end in so much uncertainty.