- Something’s got to give.
- The goal of reading, and of the Christian.
- Family, friendship, and solitude.
- Exodus: Liberation or Liturgy?
- Comparative religion.
- Libertarian deceit and delusion.
- Make Money and Mind Your Own Business.
My renewed intent to emphasize cultural and enduring matters is bumping up against the reality that the internet is a place of ephemera. That makes it hard to find and link anything enduring, and takes away from time to find enduring things elsewhere (which then would require typing or scanning).
Something’s got to give. I only have 24 hours in my day, too, with a day job, aging mother, some grandchildren a short drive (or long walk) away and a lifelong obesity problem that responds well to prolonged moderate exercise.
That’s just a heads up.
Quite thoroughly related to #1, I’m excited at the the arrival this week of Volume 1, Number 1, of Synaxis, from the impractical imagination of bibliophile Erin Doom of Eighth Day Books in Witchita and the affiliated Eighth Day Institute.
I am not myself very concerned with questions of influence, or with the publicists who have impressed their names upon the public by catching the morning tide and rowing very fast in the direction in which the current was flowing, but rather that there should always be a few writers preoccupied in penetrating to the core of the matter, in trying to arrive at the truth and to set it forth, without too much hope, without ambition to alter the immediate course of affairs and without being downcast or defeated when nothing appears to ensue.
The goal of reading is the application, in our lives, of what we read. Not to learn it by heart, but to take it to heart. Not to practice using our tongues, but to be able to receive the tongues of fire and to live the mysteries of God. If one studies a great deal in order to acquire knowledge and to teach others, without living the things he teaches, he does no more than fill his head with hot air. At most he will manage to ascend to the moon using machines. The goal of the Christan is to rise to God without machines.
Elder Paisios the Athonite
From the frontspiece of Synaxis.
The secular community, since it exists for our natural good and not for our supernatural, has no higher end than to facilitate and safeguard the family, friendship, and solitude. To be happy at home, said Johnson, is the end of all human endeavor.
C.S. Lewis, Membership, quoted in The Human Vision of Wendell Berry.
The justification for the Exodus is not liberation but rather liturgy: “Let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God”(Exod. 3:18).
Although it appears in a book about him, this is something Wendell Berry doesn’t seem to get, good Baptist that he is.
For that matter, neither did I. The Exodus has been pretty effectively co-opted into a story of mere political liberation.
A Christian seminarian draws a line between a Christian wife’s submission to her husband and the Islamic “Obedient Wives Club” in Malaysia in “Obedient Wives, Helpless Husbands.” Ephemera, no doubt, but ephemera that addresses a common contemporary misperception.
Meanwhile, Abbot Tryphon, on the occasion of the Wisconsin Sikh Temple shooting, rather than drawing sharp lines, sketches some parallels between Sikhs and Christian Orthodoxy.
I was reminded yesterday, as I listened to a newish podcast (so far, 2 of 3 episodes were real duds; the third was stellar), of the tendency in America of religious people to say “pass any stupid, statist law you want to placate some group or other, but please exempt us if it’s contrary to our religion.” Of course, that’s not a direct quote. But it’s a spot-on paraphrase, if I do say so myself.
I’m trying to say, in many cases, that if a law cries out for a religious exemption, it’s probably a bad law to start with.
Speaking of which, the Libertarian Presidential/Vice-Presidential ticket today weighed in to support an Ohio measure, partly because it (supposedly) protects religious freedom:
Unlike Mitt Romney or President Obama, Governor Johnson and I believe the right to marry who we choose is a constitutionally protected right. People of different faiths and different beliefs are free to follow those beliefs when it comes to embracing or opposing same-sex marriage within those faiths and beliefs. However, it should not be the purview of government to impose one set of beliefs over another. And government absolutely should not sanction discrimination against gay Americans who choose to marry.
Ohio’s Freedom to Marry amendment is an important step toward marriage equality in a key state. Governor Johnson and I are proud to lend our support, and urge the good people of Ohio to put their state on the side of equality and against government being in the business of deciding who can marry whom.
With these words (italics added) did the Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate, on behalf of himself and Gary Johnson, the Presidential Candidate, dishonestly conceal the blatant bigotry of the Ohio Freedom to Marry Amendment. More on that in a minute.
I was more or less expecting to find that Gov. Johnson, who I was considering voting for, supported something like getting the state out of the marriage licensure business. He is a Libertarian, after all. But this announcement does not get the state out of that business. Insofar as “marriage” is coveted by gays and lesbians because of the proverbial thousand benefits, it increases the size of government. It’s demagogic tone reads like something from a lefty Democrat.
The petition language, you see, would redefine marriage in Ohio as “a union of two consenting adults, regardless of gender.” Thus does it blatantly discriminate against polygamy, polyandry, and group marriage.
The state of Ohio thus decidedly will remain ”in the business of deciding who can marry whom,” denying licenses to threesomes, foursomes, etc.; it will continue to “to impose one set of beliefs [that marriage is binary] over another;” it will continue to “sanction discrimination.”
To pretend that this amendment gets the state out of that business is either dishonest or stupid, either of which forfeits my vote.
Scott Galupo, commenting on the limits of liberal neutrality, sets it up a bit differently:
On one side are traditionalist conservatives who believe, not without justification, that opposing same-sex marriage does not violate the neutralist credo. In this view, gays are free to make money and to live free from persecution. That they may not marry is merely a function of the immutable nature of an institution designed for a man and a woman. Traditionalists are saying, “You are free to live as you please — but on the question of marriage, our hands are tied.”
If marriage can be redefined by positive law – if it has no immutable nature – then it is as discriminatory and arbitrary to limit it to twosomes as to limit it to men and women. It it’s not bigoted to say marriage is binary, why is it bigoted to say it’s limited to complementary sexes?
Neither scornful dismissal for “absurdity” or “hateful comparisons” (the usual cop-out of SSM fans) nor political posturing about “imposing beliefs” answers my question.
My quest for a third party resumes.
[T]he credo of our civic religion of neutrality, the thing that underpins liberalism as it’s practiced in America … is this: Make Money and Mind Your Own Business.
This is the statement of belief about which nearly everyone in our pluralistic society can agree. It’s not the “thickest” or morally expressive of credos, but it has proved durable. Free-market conservatives are as invested in it as progressive liberals are. The assimilation of blacks in the last century into mainstream American economic life was perhaps its greatest challenge as well as triumph. We told ourselves this: Our constitutional order was only partially flawed — and it was flawed in a convenient way. The problem was not its fundamental morality but rather that it excluded black citizens from their right to Make Money and Mind Their Own Business. The economic liberty of whites to do as they pleased with their private property was circumscribed. But federal coercion was the price we had to pay to uphold the legitimizing promise of the credo.
Scott Galupo, commenting on the limits of liberal neutrality (the set-up for the quote in the previous item).
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