Christmas Eve 2013

    1. Handling heterofriskiness with kid gloves
    2. My body, my self
    3. Unbracketing moral reasoning
    4. Persecution of “Christians”?
    5. Who’s Church history?
    6. Best Wishes for Christmas


It’s a pretty sorry state of affairs that allows the Slacktivist plausibly to taunt supporters of traditional marriage that the case against them is open-and-shut, citing as proof the inability of any State thus far to articulate a defense of it against equal protection claims.

I’ve watched some of the arguments and read some of the briefs. So far, I have not seen Attorneys General doing a very heartwarming job of defending traditional marriage. And, of course, there’s that distressing run of recent court losses.

There really is a sound defense, though it’s bigger than a breadbox sound bite and not as eye-cathing as a yellow equal sign on a dark blue background. Slacktivist is characteristically reckless and bigoted when he says otherwise:

The constitutional question is not ambiguous or tricky in any way. The prohibition against marriage by same-sex couples is simply a violation of equal protection.

Duh! To put it in a nutshell, there can only be an equal protection right to marry a member of the same sex if marriage is just government’s recognition of super special friendships and has nothing to do with procreation. That’s my nutshell, anyway.

And of course there was no “prohibition against marriage by same-sex couples” until the novelty of same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses emerged. “Cet animal est tres mechant; quand on l’attaque, il se defend.

But maybe the elected AGs, even more assiduously than Mr. Dooley’s Supreme Court, read the election returns and that’s why they won’t make their most robust arguments. Those arguments reflect rather badly on today’s heterofriskiness and dumbing down of marriage apart from SSM.

Making those arguments in public is not a way to win votes. So the best they do is an argument they think has at least a snowball’s chance in hell.

So far, hell’s kinda running the table.


[O]f all the objects in the universe, the one thing we cannot own is ourselves. We can stake a claim to the moon, gain title to the Sun, wrench vast wealth from the Earth and claim it as our own. But ourselves, we cannot own.
We cannot own ourselves for the simple reason that we cannot create ourselves; we cannot seize control of our origins or be present at our beginnings. Rather, all of us are called into being through an act of love into the ready-made community of the family.

(John Médaille, Possessive Individualism: Can We Really Own Ourselves?)


Something that actually strikes me as a new observation on the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle:

A lot of the defenses of Robertson’s comments omit any discussion of the merit of Robertson’s views on human sexuality. Most applaud Robertson from the virtue of viewpoint diversity, pluralism, and free speech. In essence, commenters seem to either intentionally or unintentionally bracket the moral reasoning or merit of Robertson’s comments, implicitly cowing to today’s sexual relativism.
Morality matters. America may be reacting against the declaration of moral obligation as much as it may be against the particular action that Robertson condemned. Robertson’s attempt at offering a comprehensive view of sexuality based on a certain understanding of human sexuality contradicts the reigning dictatorship of relativism.
Lacking the lexical ability to call a wrong a wrong (and, even worse, calling a “wrong” a “right”), we fall prey to what the prophet Isaiah warned of when he said: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
I interpret hostility to Robertson’s Christianity as part of a larger cultural chafing against a sexual metanarrative, a metanarrative that Christianity assumes is normative for all of humanity. If we focus on claims to free speech to the exclusion of the moral aspect of his argument, that Robertson actually believes certain goods about human sexuality, we’re guilty of bowing to a Naked Public Square that conservatives detest.

So for the record, after having skimmed the GQ Interview (even before picking up this gauntlet), and more extended comments Robertson made at his Church over the weekend, I find myself in substantial agreement with Phil Robertson’s assessment of sexual morality.

I italicize “substantial” both because I agree with the die gestalt, if not the mode of expressing it, and because I don’t readily see any particular, apart from the manner of expression, where I disagree.

That also means I substantially agree with Andrew Walker, the author of the blockquote, who only adds one paragraph to what I quoted. And I’m very comfortable with how he expresses it.

For anyone who has frittered away time following my blog, that’s probably no surprise.


Prince Charles has called attention to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

But I’m confused at the photo illustration. What the heck kind of “Christians” are they, anyway, and why should I care about them? They’re dark-skinned (without the charming deep-darkness of sub-Saharan Africa), and they dress suspiciously, and there’s not a pompadour, Rolex or Scofield Reference Bible in sight! Don’t we send missionaries to evangelize their kind? …


… Well, actually, they’re my kind. Or maybe I should say I’m trying to be their kind. Because they are faithful to The Original. I’ve said before that I’m not sure “my kind” of Christian would fare well in an explicitly Christian 21st Century America, with Christianity as novelty-laden as it is.

For instance, what kind of treatment would we get when the public schools taught Christian history?

One area in which no multicultural education was allowed was religious education, in which the syllabus prescribed Calvinist Protestantism. This was no “ownaffair”. There was to be no diversity. In Asian “ownaffairs” schools Hindu and Muslim children learned side-by-side, but for their teachers, courses in Calvinist “Biblical Instruction” were compulsory, and they were taught that the law required them to teach that in their schools.
In white schools, even English-speaking ones, the same applied. One of our children, when in Grade 7 at Rietondale Primary School, objected to the superficial treatment of the split between Eastern and Western Christianity in their history textbook. She phoned our parish priest, who was a lecturer in church history at the University of South Africa, to ask if he would be willing to speak at the school about it. He was willing, but the school authorities were not. He was Orthodox, and that was definitely far too multicultural to fit into the Christian National Education pattern.

(Khanya blog on Apartheid and Multicultural Education in South Africa)

This struck home especially Monday when I tried to buy a popular but nonsectarian Church history for someone who’s largely innocent of any such thing earlier than John Nelson Darby, the unacknowledged Emperor or Evangelicalism today.

My local Barnes & Noble had only one church history that I could find, and it was from a Roman Catholic perspective that I thought I wouldn’t approve for an Evangelical novice. There’s one that an Orthodox Seminary bookstore sells, but it might be aimed pretty high as it’s from Oxford University Press.

Aimed higher, that is, than anything they’d use in a public high school in Christian America.

If I’m not careful, with all the hours I spend reading and writing blogs, and ignoring a towering stack of unread books, I’ll not know nothin’ but novelty, neither. I reckon I’ll put a cork in it for a day or two for the Holidays now. If you’re lucky, I won’t be back.


What are we really wishing our fellow men when we send them ‘best wishes for Christmas’? Health, enjoyment of each other’s company, thriving children, success—all these things, too, of course. We may even—why not?—be wishing them a good appetite for the holiday meal. But the real thing we are wishing is the ‘success’ of the festive celebration itself, not just its outer forms and enrichments, not the trimmings, but the gift that is meant to be the true fruit of the festival: renewal, transformation, rebirth. Nowadays, to be sure, all this can barely be sensed behind the trite formula: “Happy Holidays.”

(Joseph Pieper, H/T John Cuddeback)

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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.