Words on Wednesday – True Liberty

I know I’ve been quoting Yuval Levin a lot recently. This week isn’t going to be the exception.

true liberty

I think this may be where so many political philosophies tend to fail. Because liberty isn’t just getting to do whatever you want.

Liberty is being able to restrain your own behavior. It’s personal responsibility so that the state doesn’t have to interfere.

Levin also says:

…we must draw people’s eyes and hearts to the alternative: to the vast and beautiful “yes” for the sake of which an occasional narrow but insistent “no” is required.

This has so many applications doesn’t it? We have to tell people no sometimes so that we can yes to what is important or valuable. We have to tell ourselves no (“No, you cannot stay up until 2 AM to finish this book”) so that we can tell ourselves yes (“Yes, you can have the energy to not just survive but also enjoy the morning with your children” Just to share an example from my own life…).

This is the last quote from Levin’s The Fractured Republic that I plan to share with you:

Conservatives tend to see the human person as an incorrigible mass of contradictions: a fallen and imperfect being created in a divine image, a creature possessed of fundamental dignity and inalienable rights, but always prone to excess and to sin, and ever in need of self-restraint and moral formation.

That’s the business we parents are in, isn’t it? The moral formation of incorrigible masses of contradictions (including ourselves!).

Recently Finished

The Secret War is historian Max Hasting’s latest book. I respect Hastings’ previous work so I was anxious to read this one. Hastings never pulls punches and some of his assessments are quite critical (I noticed this particularly his treatment of the Abwehr’s Wilhelm Canaris). This book is occasionally difficult to follow, not because of the author, but because of the nature of spies and secrets.

Hastings is one of those authors that doesn’t talk down to his readers. He expects you to keep up with the information and that can be difficult in a book of this depth. Definitely recommended if you enjoy History in general, WW2 in particular, or books about spies or codebreaking.
Daughter of Empire by Lady Pamela Hicks (nee Mountbatten) is a fascinating autobigraphy by a woman who had a front seat to many historic events in the 20th century. Her family life certainly cannot be called convention, but she doesn’t spend a lot of time on what could be sordid or unpleasant.

I was amazed how calmly she recounted behavior that most of us would consider unforgivable (things like: her mother left her in the mountains once with a few servants and then forgot where she had left her the child and the servants).

Of special note to anyone who considers themselves a Charlotte Mason fan: The Mountbatten girls attended a PNEU school for several years. Lady Pamela praises the “broad” curriculum, but overall the experience does not seem to have been a pleasant one. (She writes of disliking narration, athletics, and overall, the headmistress.) Anyway, if you’re interested in history this book is a compelling read.

Recently Added

I fell down a Vietnam related internet rabbit hole recently and that caused me to add these two books to my stack:
The Dust of Life: America’s Children Abandoned in Vietnam and
The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of the War in Vietnam. I haven’t read much at all about Vietnam, the country or the war, so I’m intrigued by these titles.

Current Read Aloud

We’re reading Augustine Came to Kent in the mornings. I am reading this one cautiously, because I haven’t read it before. I suspect we will be having some theological discussions due to reading it, but that’s certainly not a bad thing.
Our bedtime read aloud is still Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit but we honestly haven’t read any of it in the last few days. (The Olympics are in full swing. Every two years we allow our children to indulge in more hours of TV watching than they ever do the rest of the time. Because our days are busy, the evenings have been dedicated to all Olympics, all the time.) So, just in case you had an image of us sitting around reading all the time, let me sadly admit that it isn’t true.

Current Book to Review

Uninvited, the latest by Lysa TerKeurst, should be on its way to me, but it hasn’t come yet.

Current Kindle Deals

The Entitlement Cure by Dr. John Townsend is $1.99 for Kindle right now. You can see my review here. Definitely recommended.

This Kindle edition of P.L Travers’ Mary Poppins caught my eye. It’s $2.99 right now. We have hardback versions of several of the Mary Poppins books. If you only know the Disney movie I have to warn you that the literary Mary Poppins is not quite the Julie Andrews version. Still, the series is well written and we recommend it if you like British children’s fiction.

What are you reading now?

Linking up with:
WWW ladydusk

Dover Books

Posts may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy if you have questions about this. If no images appear on this post, you may need to disable an ad blocker on your browser. If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on your favorite social media sites.


  1. That quote reminds me very much of Anthony Esolen’s Life Under Compulsion, which was my favorite read last year.