Thursday, December 6, 2012

    1. Are Christians dying for our sins?
    2. Free Market, Free Pass.
    3. National Catholic Reporter now Protestant.
    4. Religious conscience and compelling interests.


William Doino, Jr. discusses the book Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack, about severe persecution of Christians around the world, and chats with the author:

This story is being downplayed, he said, because of subliminal reasons, both secular and religious. On the secular side, much of the media has disdain for Christianity, and considers it not only regressive, but dangerous—an attitude broadly shared by intellectuals, academics, and celebrities. Christianity is mistakenly seen as an exclusively “Western” religion, and part of the West’s assumed imperialism.

I listened during exercise this weekend to a Palestinian man and a Jewish woman, each with a family member killed in middle east violence, who have formed a friendship across ideological and religious borders. The woman made this striking remark:

I recognized right from the beginning that the sniper didn’t kill David, because he was David. I mean there was no way, if he’d known him, that he could have done such a thing. And I recognized that he killed him because he was symbolic of an occupying army.

Dare I suggest that Christians around the world are suffering as symbols of the American Empire, America being so self-consciously “exceptional” in its continued observance of a form of supposedly Christian religion?

I do not claim, by the way, that my pull quote is representative of the article. It’s just what jumped out at me.

From my pull quote, the article continues:

Given that perspective, who wants to be seen openly sympathizing with such an unfashionable lot as practicing Christians? Shortt calls this “the blind spots that can affect bien-pensant opinion-formers.” Add to this the latter’s reluctance to question any aspect of Islamic culture (even though many reform-minded Muslims do); and the idea that Islamophobia is more intense and widespread than Christianophobia (even as human rights organizations document just the reverse), and you begin to understand the depths of the problem.

And yet, paradoxically, it is Christian theology itself that also explains the current situation. Christianity’s teachings on love, humility, forbearance, and forgiveness create a non-confrontational ethos—which is a genuine strength of persecuted Christians—but also makes it more challenging to communicate their plight.

“Because young Christians don’t get radicalized,” said Shortt, “and because persecuted Christians on the ground very rarely respond with terrorist violence, their sufferings don’t really create news. Speaking as a journalist, I know—very sadly—that what tends to make people sit up and take notice is violence; and while Christians may not always turn the other cheek, they do tend to take it all lying down, and get on with it as best they can, and that doesn’t necessarily make for front-page headlines.”


It is certainly odd that Christian defenders of self-interest are quite comfortable with accepting behavior based on man’s sinful tendencies as the foundation for the economy, something they would denounce in any other area of social life. For example, if one were to argue that the abolition of marriage and the free mixing of the sexes was the best way to propagate the human race, since this is based on people’s natural and ineradicable inclinations, this would hardly be acceptable to them, but with scarcely a demur they allow, and often indeed praise, behavior founded on human greed as the best way to run an economy, and this despite the fact that Sacred Scripture and the entire tradition of the Church condemn the motive of greed at least as strongly as the motive of lust.

I might note that, at least by Christians, greed is considered as a deadly sin, and that to inculcate the doctrine that one need think only of one’s own needs and desires in his economic activity is to warp and pervert the souls of those who imbibe such ideas, deprive them of the opportunity to develop virtues, and possibly put them on the road to hell. I find it hard to think that any economy which points many of its participants on the way to eternal punishment is a healthy economy, regardless of how much stuff it boasts that it can produce.

The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker. This train of thinking occurred to me roughly 45 years ago and I’ve never been entirely able to shake it, and thus to become a cheerleader for “the free market.”

As it becomes more apparent that “the free market” isn’t free, and that it delivers bubbles and crashes by its nature (to sell your soul for a mess of pottage and not even get the pottage is really pathetic), I’m convinced both that this current system is not going to end well and that it must be replaced by something besides some other failed and discarded system.

Mark T. Mitchell, coincidentally, sees opportunity in the ruins. And by that he’s not giving a contrarian stock tip.


The truth is, snarktastic jibes aside, that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Roman Catholic Mass of the old, pre-Vatican II Tridentine style. I’m told, by some of my Orthodox co-religionists no less, that it was actually a recognizably Christian liturgy! (Oops! There’s the snark again!)

In contrast, the post-Vatican II Mass seems to be almost Protestant, and that’s a lament I hear from traditionalist Catholics. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. This actually might contribute to the growth of Orthodoxy, whose Liturgy nobody would mistake for Protestant.

“Even Catholics are Protestants now” came rushing back as I read the first paragraphs of Elizabeth Scalia’s Tuesday column at First Things this week:

The editorial board of the National Catholic Reporter this week endorsed the ordination of women. Basing its position on a conclusion reached in 1976 by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, on “countless conversations in parish halls, lecture halls and family gatherings,” and on the supposed support of myriad unnamed, anonymous bishops, the Reporter calls “for the Catholic church to correct this unjust teaching.”
It offers a brief history of “Rome’s response to the call of the faithful to ordain women” that reads rather sourly—all intimidation, bad-faith and litmus tests. The overbearing men of Rome, most particularly Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, are depicted as keeping the good people down and—in this case—suppressing the will of the Holy Spirit.
The Reporter does not explicitly make that last charge. In fact, the editorial does not mention the Holy Spirit, or “God’s will” at all, but if we accept that God is All-Justice, then in arguing that church teaching on this issue is “unjust” the paper is making an implicit suggestion that the church has been working against the will of God.
To suppress the will of the Holy Spirit—to suppress the will of God—is a wicked thing. To charge the church with doing so is to make a serious accusation of wickedness—one bound to have repercussions lasting beyond the heat of a moment. It is to label the church as antichrist.
So the Reporter does not do it. Instead, the editorial board rests the crux of its argument on the wisdom of Roy Bourgeois, the recently laicized Maryknoll priest:

Bourgeois brings this issue to the real heart of the matter. He has said that no one can say who God can and cannot call to the priesthood, and to say that anatomy is somehow a barrier to God’s ability to call one of God’s own children forward places absurd limits on God’s power. The majority of the faithful believe this.

Man! That reliance on “countless conversations in parish halls, lecture halls and family gatherings,” and the Bourgeois argument that “no one can say who God can and cannot call to the priesthood” bring back Protestant memories/nightmares!

Scalia then goes on mockingly to take down such nonsense, which is exactly what peurile pontifications from popular press deserve. (Ran out of alliteration. Sorry.)

The Dictatorship of Relativism loves to argue that there is no truth, except the truth it likes; that nothing means anything except as one’s own conscience assigns meaning, and that authority, therefore, is an illusion that must be questioned continually, until the proper answer is attained. The proper answer, of course, is the one asserted and promoted by the relativists and once it has been achieved—and a new authority is in place—then all questioning of authority must cease. Because that authority—their authority—will have become the truly all-just, the truly all-good and all-merciful. And woe to those who do not recognize it.


This story seems a little bit garbled to me, but I have not read the 28-page opinion it purports to summarize.

At issue is whether Hobby Lobby, a famously religion-haunted corporation, must provide its employees coverage for the morning-after pill and IUDs. Hobby Lobby’s management claims no religious objection to contraceptives simpliciter.

But in its brief to the court, the Obama administration argued that, “Hobby Lobby is a for-profit, secular employer, and a secular entity by definition does not exercise religion.” In the administration’s opinion, the religious beliefs of any company’s owners are irrelevant when weighed against a federal mandate to pay for birth control. The qualms of the religious, in this view, are “too attenuated to qualify as a substantial burden.”

The federal district court judge ruled that “Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not religious organizations.” Even a belief as closely held as opposition to abortion is not enough, the judge said, to supersede the government’s “compelling interest” in providing birth control coverage, including abortifacients.

Now if the court accepted the Obama administration’s argument, it need not have said anything about “compelling interest,” because the corporation would have no right to be countered with a contravening compelling interest.

Be that as it may, the Obama Administration has made, and thus far has lost in a different court, a similar claim about Tyndale, a Christian publisher of Bibles and religious literature.  And the narrowness of its religious exemption to the “employer contraceptive mandate” is the source of all the lawsuits. So the administration apparently thinks there’s a pretty compelling interest (in a social if not legal sense) in making employers pay for contraceptives (and IUDs and morning after pills though many, not implausibly, consider those abortifacient).

I don’t get it. When the pill was new and relatively expensive, it wasn’t all that expensive. I believe it’s cheaper now in terms of dollars, and cheaper still since each dollar is now worth much less.

The Obama Administration’s position on this issue strikes me purely as a play to one of the increasingly-important Democrat bases, young single women, at considerable cost to the consciences of others. Dollars and consciences are incommensurable in my mind. Conscience should trump.

Buy your own damn contraceptives, Ms. Fluke.

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Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.