Full House Friday, 11/15/13 (Nativity Fast begins)

    1. Extend, suspend, amend
    2. TV Krustians on PTSD
    3. Abstinence ≠ Chastity
    4. USCCB continues the fight it didn’t start
    5. God builds His Tabernacle
    6. Nativity what!?
    7. Paying with Chickens
    8. What society isn’t


I’m glad to know I’m not the only one to wonder “where does the President get the power to unilaterally amend, extend or suspend his signature legislation?”

President Obama in his speech on “fixing” the Affordable Care Act today did not specify what statutory authority, if any, he thinks authorizes him to make such dictats …
It is true that the Chief Executive has some room to decide how strongly to enforce a law, and the timing of enforcement. But here, Obama is apparently suspending the enforcement of a law for a year – simply to head off actual legislation not to his liking ….

(Eugene Kontorovich) (Update:) Megan McArdle says Obamacare Is Whatever Obama Says It Is:

Around noon, he took the podium in the White House press room, looking drawn and exhausted. He was, he said, “offering an idea” to keep people from losing their plans: The administration would delay enforcement against noncompliant plans for a year. Insurers could continue to offer them, though they would not be forced to.
This may be a near-perfect specimen of that Washington perennial: the nonsolution solution. Insurers are already warning that they can’t simply allow people to stay on their old plans, firstly because all plans have to be approved by state insurers who haven’t signed onto this, and secondly because getting their computer systems to reissue the canceled policies is a hefty programming task that may not be possible to complete by the end of the year. But that’s not the administration’s problem, is it? They can say, “Hey, we changed the rule — if your insurer went ahead and canceled your policy anyway, that’s not our fault!”

(Back to original item:) My favorite is this courtly writer:

The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessings of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow.

Oh, shoot! They had me going there for a minute! That’s James Madison in Federalist #62! It has nothing to do with Obamacare –  does it?


You can’t make this stuff up.

Humbug “Historian” David Barton and his partner in slime, Kenneth Copeland (who, after years of arduous training in hypocrisy, has lost about half of his former permanent snarl and sneer) say soldiers should just claim God’s word and never suffer a lick more of remorse.

My friend Silouan (who I didn’t know follows Rod Dreher), comments:

I’ve worked with literally thousands of veterans with PTSD. Plenty of them are men and women of deep faith. Try watching your best friend get blown up and taste their flesh that has blown on your face while you engage in a brutal firefight, and see what that does to you, Christian or not. That is raw, but that is truth ….

You know what you call a soldier who comes home from Iraq or Afghanistan untroubled by such raw truth? Leave it t a couple of Krustian TV sociopaths to christen “sociopathy” as “Sainthood.”

This is yet another version of the “Name it and claim it!” scam. If you’re suffering, it’s your own damned fault for not having enough faith. Cancer? Have faith! Gay? Pray it away!

You can’t outgive God! (Send your checks and money orders to him care of Beavis & Butthead, at ….)

(H/T Rod Dreher)


Even in Christian circles, people look at me oddly when I distinguish sexual abstinence from chastity.

No, it’s not just marketing spin: abstinence has negative connotations while chastity is a virtue. It is perfectly possible to be a virgin and very unchaste. It’s also possible to be unchaste with one’s spouse.

I don’t write of such things often because I resist the maxim “write what you know” when “what I know” is that there are skeletons in my attic.

But the New York Times has a series “Private Lives: Personal essays on the news of the world and the news of our lives,” which sometimes could as well be titled “TMI: Exhibitionists slime our readers because Craigslist charges whereas we pay.”

In the November 13 episode of this New York Times version of the Confessional, Amanda McCracken, a “virgin,” reveals convincingly that in no sense is she chaste. (Rated R)

I’m obliged to her for letting me make the point without rummaging around in my own attic (and for reminding me of the name “Lysistrata” since I remembered the story vaguely but couldn’t recall the name).


[W]ith its coercive HHS mandate, the government is refusing to uphold its obligation to respect the rights of religious believers. Beginning in March 2012, in United for Religious Freedom, we identified three basic problems with the HHS mandate: it establishes a false architecture of religious liberty that excludes our ministries and so reduces freedom of religion to freedom of worship; it compels our ministries to participate in providing employees with abortifacient drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception, which violates our deeply-held beliefs; and it compels our faithful people in business to act against our teachings, failing to provide them any exemption at all. […]
The current impasse is all the more frustrating because the Catholic Church has long been a leading provider of, and advocate for, accessible, life-affirming health care. We would have preferred to spend these recent past years working toward this shared goal instead of resisting this intrusion into our religious liberty. We have been forced to devote time and resources to a conflict we did not start nor seek.

(USCCB Statement of November 13, emphasis added)


I knew that some intellectual evangelicals were quite fond of N.T. Wright, who they refer to as “Tom” when they’re really bold. Having seen several YouTube videos of him now, I can see why. He seems a bit like C.S. Lewis for a new generation, right down to the English accent.

Watch him take down a Baptist and a Calvinist denier of evolution. It’s tempting to categorize it as “science,” but it really isn’t; it’s theology in a key to which great swaths of Christians are utterly tone-deaf:

It’s a sign of at least faint hope and of renewal struggling to be born when Evangelicalism’s future leaders are being encourage to engage Wright, not to mention when sectarians start musing about catholicity.


About what the blog title says: yeah, we fast, starting today and extending to December 25, when (ahem!) the Christmas Season finally starts.

Might this be why I’m sort of immune to the angst about “the politically correct Scrooges who are trying to ignore the reason for the season”? I’ve got more trouble dealing with Moralistic Therapeutic Deists who want to party through Advent (so long as each party starts with an invocation “in Jesus name”) and then start to Super Bowl Party! for another 40 days or so.

Anyway, to those observing the fast, may it be a time of more than mere abstinence. I’ll try to keep down anything that would disrupt it, though I have a real soft spot for the prophet Jeremiah. (Would it be possible to have a second “Patron Saint”?)


In every tale of hubris, the transgressor is eventually slapped across the face with the semi-frozen flounder of reality …
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it took about five minutes for liberals to cast the chaos and confusion of the disaster as a searing indictment of not just the Bush administration but of conservatism itself. Whatever the merits of that argument (and there are not many), Katrina was at least a surprise. The October 1 deadline for Obamacare was set by Obama’s own administration years ago — and it caught them completely off guard. The president may now claim that he knew nothing, but he must have wondered why Henry Chao, Healthcare.gov’s chief project manager, set the bar of success at sea level last March: “Let’s just make sure it’s not a Third World experience.” At this point, it could only be more of a Third World experience if Healthcare.gov required enrollees to pay with chickens.

(Jonah Goldberg, Obamacare Schadenfreudarama)


[Christoher Lasch’s] deepest intuition was profound: society is not a mechanism to deliver private goods such as wealth or self-esteem or lifestyle freedom. (This is what liberalism always assumes, seeking to reform the mechanism to more efficiently and equitably deliver private goods.) Instead, society is an end in itself. Solidarity is a human need that can’t be parceled out to individuals as private goods.

Thus our current political culture, which is dominated by upper-middle-class concerns even as various political figures protest otherwise. On the Left we have a wide range of views about economic issues, but primary candidates can’t deviate from the dictates of Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, and the Human Rights Campaign, all of which represent upper-middle-class preoccupations. On the Right we have a wide range of views about social issues, but candidates can’t deviate from tax-cutting dogma, another upper-middle-class issue.

(R.R. Reno; if the two paragraphs seem a nonsequitur, that’s probably because there was a lot between them, which you should now go read for yourself. My gawd! Must I do everything for you people?! 😉 )

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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)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.