In the short term, America must get on with the generals.
For it is they who bottle up Hamas in Gaza, battle al-Qaida in Sinai, protect the Christian Copts, grant our Air Force overflight rights and our Navy first-in-line transit rights through the Suez Canal. And it is the generals who continue to honor the terms of the Camp David accords.
Understandably, Israeli diplomats are imploring us, the slaughter aside, not to cut our ties to the Egyptian military. Yet it is hard to believe the long-term future belongs to the generals.
While Islam is booming in the East and being welcomed in the West, Christianity is dying in the West and being expelled from the East.
It is not unreasonable for Muslim visionaries to see the next 500 years as an era of Islamic ascendancy, as the last 500 saw a Western ascendancy.
Millions of Muslims are willing to fight to drive us out of their part of the world. How many Americans are willing to send our sons to die for secular democracy and American values in their part of the world?
Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.
[I]t is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way … to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It’s not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish. (Many suspect it might markedly improve.) Yet apart from a handful of well-touted exceptions (doctors), the rule holds surprisingly well.
(David Graeber, On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs, Strike! Magazine) After reading this opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, it seems to me that a lot of medical insurance paper-pushers are in bullshit jobs.
It’s also a sad fact that the vast majority of Western Christians have only become aware of non-Western Christianities only as they are being destroyed.
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison squared off against Patrick Henry and his bill for “Establishing A Provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion” for Virginia in the mid-1780s. Jefferson and Madison won the day, and the Virginia legislature did not enact Henry’s bill.
This was no simple anti-religious victory. In an ironic twist, Henry’s argument in support of religious establishment breathes more of secular modernity than Jefferson and Madison’s arguments. Jefferson and Madison made extensive appeal to theological principles—principles largely consistent with Anabaptist claims—while Henry limited his argument in the bill’s preamble to the temporal benefits the policy would generate for civil society.
What is striking in the articulated purposes of Henry’s proposal is that it does not aim to support ministers in order to advance divine or religious purposes; it does not seek to save men’s souls for their spiritual well-being. Rather, Henry posits plausible, if contestable, empirical claims about the effect of Christian teaching on civil society.
Researchers working from Harvard, Duke, University College London, and many other institutions have repeatedly found that “religious identification and church attendance are associated with less social isolation, lower risk of substance abuse, lower rates of suicide, greater happiness and life satisfaction.” …
Schulman says, however, that “believers should be wary of celebrating these findings too much.” Even though “the faithful may be winning at the game of life…they’re playing by rules that social scientists have written in essentially post-religious terms.” Schulman notes that “think tanks like the Family Research Council and the Marriage and Religion Research Institute have tried to boost religion’s public and political standing by trumpeting those positive scientific findings,” and he notes that Ross Douthat carefully documented how “prominent spiritual figures from televangelist Joel Osteen to holistic guru Deepak Chopra have advanced a version of faith that promises to deliver wealth, health and inner peace.”
Schulman quotes famed Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, “Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop.” When faith is turned into a sociological means to “health and wealth, well-being and satisfaction,” it becomes an interchangeable institution, co-opted by the measurable priorities of the present day’s social science. Such attitudes rob religion of the radicalness that drove the money-changers from the temple, or smashed the idols in Mecca, or interrupted the working life of master and slave alike for a holy Sabbath.
Do note the irony that Christianesque entities like the Family Research Council are implicated in the utilitarian view of religion, which cares more about usefulness than about truth:
Family Research Council believes that religious liberty is more than the right to attend a private worship service. Religious observance has a distinctly positive effect on community and national life. The fostering of religious liberty is a hallmark of our culture as intended by our Founding Fathers and practiced by tens of millions of Americans.
It’s hard not to sympathize with those who prefer their moral uplift straight, no chaser.
It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton (born the same year as me) is our party’s best chance. She has more sooty baggage than a 90-car freight train. And what exactly has she ever accomplished—beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband? She’s certainly busy, busy and ever on the move—with the tunnel-vision workaholism of someone trying to blot out uncomfortable private thoughts.
(Camile Paglia in Salon via Wall Street Journal)
Piers Morgan: Is homosexuality a sin?
Governor Christie: Well my religion says it’s a sin. I mean I think, but for me, I’ve always believed that people are born with the predisposition to be homosexual. And so I think if someone is born that way it’s very difficult to say then that’s a sin. But I understand that my Church says that, but for me personally I don’t look at someone who is homosexual as a sinner.
I hope that if Chris Christie advances in public life he’ll learn to shut up about things of which he’s ignorant. But he knows his audience; this is the only sort of answer Piers Morgan will tolerate.
Mudblood Catholic is definitely not ignorant of the teaching of Governor Christie’s “religion” on homosexuality. For him, it “urgently pertains.”
He recently had a long (his post’s are usually long) and thoughtful piece on “coming out,” and what caught my attention were his personal reasons 6 and 4 for coming out, whimsical and deadly serious, respectively:
6. Humor. Awful, awful humor. I’m a fan of South Park, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and so forth. I really like making terribly tasteless and offensive jokes. And if people don’t know I’m gay, I can’t safely make gay jokes.
4. Witness. The Church says, rightly, that she needs practicing Christians who show in their own lives why her teaching is good, true, and beautiful, not only in spite of but even because of its highly challenging nature. Is anybody in a better position to be a witness to that than a gay Christian, in our time and place? Isn’t telling gay Christians that they should stay in the closet, or re-closet themselves somehow, a little counterintuitive? Or, conversely, viewed from the perspective of those outside the Church, doesn’t it call into question the Church’s professions of love and acceptance, when she doesn’t even want the matter discussed by those to whom it most urgently pertains?
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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)