New Years Day Full House 2014

    1. The other white minority dictatorship
    2. The smugness of ascendant liberalism
    3. Culture War Reality Check
    4. Power Plays
    5. Get that employer an “audit”
    6. Privie Award winner, hands down
    7. I Am Herod
    8. Bad Dog


[T]he Cuban military dictatorship, run by a white junta, held and tortured the black political prisoner Eusebio Peñalver for 28 years—one year more than Mandela endured.
The world barely noticed when Peñalver died in exile in 2005. If he had enjoyed the kind of international support Mandela had, things might have turned out differently for him and for Cuba’s predominantly black population.

(Mandela’s Message Didn’t Make It to Cuba)


There are people in deep denial about the dark clouds gathering on the horizon of religious freedom. The subtle signs include demotion of “religious freedom” to “freedom of worship.” You’ll catch that often in pronouncements of our current President and his former Secretary of State (who on March 18 “begins her 12-state “Set the Record Straight” tour, aimed at convincing voters that she has not decided whether she will seek the presidency in 2016″).

Other signs aren’t subtle at all.

For human rights to flourish, religious rights have to come second to them. We are all human. We are not all of the same religion, or religious at all. One cannot protect religious rights if they are used as a reason to abuse human rights, human equalities, as so often they are. Britain may not be able to export its new-found anti-discriminatory zeal to the rest of the world with much ease. But Britain is in a good position to start working out a framework whereby people with diverse beliefs can live together without conflict, safe in the knowledge that the religious beliefs of all who respect human rights will be respected in turn. People need to answer on Earth to our fellow humans. We can square things with our God, if we have one, when and if that day arrives. Compliments of the season, whatever that means to you.

(Deborah Orr in The Guardian, H/T Rod Dreher)

The trick, of course, is that religious rights are among human rights, and that any conception of “human rights” is functionally religious: there simply is no religiously neutral ground from which to spy out real human rights and unmask imposters. Not that that has slowed the juggernaut, mind you:

So dominant is liberalism that it becomes invisible. Judges feel free to read it into the law without historical or textual warrant because it seems so obviously right. To oppose it in any basic way is to act incomprehensibly, in a way explicable, it is thought, only by reference to irrationality, ignorance, or evil. The whole of the nonliberal past is comprehensively blackened. Traditional ways are treated as the simple negation of unquestionable goods liberalism favors. Obvious declines in civility, morality, and cultural achievement are ignored, denied, or redefined as advances. Violence is said to be the fault of the persistence of sex roles, war of religion, theft of social inequality, suicide of stereotyping. Destruction of sex and historical community as ordering principles–and thus of settled family arrangements and cultural forms–is presented as a supremely desirable goal. The clear connection among the decline of traditional habits, standards, and social ties; the disintegration of institutions like the family; and other forms of personal and social disorder is ignored or treated as beside the point.

(James Kalb, The Tyranny Of Liberalism, quoted in Dreher, supra)


Ascendant “secular” liberalism may be stupid and scary, but Just Thomism throws down a gauntlet to Christians: do you even want to win the Culture Wars? (Emphasis added)

Objection: Someone has to control the levers of power, and so if we see something as true, don’t we want it to rule the culture? Response: The closest idea of “culture” in Christ is “the world”, which persuades not by reason and freedom but taboo, intimidation, usurping parental education, control over the principles of discourse, etc. Seen from this angle, the bright side of the persecution that a Christian can expect in this life is that his doctrine, though it will always continue to exist, nevertheless will never be enforced by the levers of worldly power. This might even be the greatest testimony to its divine origin – how can Christ always be present in the world without being parasitic on it? (and note that even revolutionary doctrines are parasitic on the states they rebel against)

Read the whole thing. It’s short. And Rod Dreher’s comments on it are very worthwhile, too.


Pat Buchanan goes atavistic on us with a column of pooh-pooh (Is Inequality a Problem—or a Power Play?), waving some statistics to prove (1) the inequality isn’t a big deal, (2) that The American Conservative, though priceless, is not homogenous and comes up with some real clunkers.

I’m sorry to see Buchanan involved in a sort of diversionary tactic.

I don’t doubt that freedom inevitably will produce inequality. The problem with recent increases in inequality is that it’s not all natural results of freedom, but much of it results from the system being gamed. Which suggests that maintaining the status quo, by pooh-poohing reform, is its own kind of power play.


A federal district court entered a consent decree settling charges that Dynamic Medical Services, a Florida medical and chiropractic services provider, required a number of its employees to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved  Scientology religious practices, instructed employees to attend courses at the Church of  Scientology, and told one employee to undergo a Scientology “audit.” Two employees were terminated when they refused to participate.  The company agreed to pay $170,000 in damages to 8 employees or former employees, and in the future to accommodate employees who object on religious grounds to participating in religious courses or other religious work-related activities. (Dec. 23 EEOC press release.)

(Religion Clause) I’ll admit that this wasn’t the only settlement the EEOC announced, but it was orders of magnitude more clueless of the employer than the others (not letting a Muslim in food service grow a beard, not letting a Pentecostal woman wear a skirt instead of pants).


While we’re on contests, the Volokh Conspiracy is having votes on its annual “Privies” “for Dubious Achievement in Privacy Law.”

One candidate is “a little-known Brussels bureaucrat, European Commissioner (and Vice President) Viviane Reding, who is notorious for trying to regulate US intelligence activities while admitting that she has no authority to regulate European intelligence agencies.”

But I think she’s clearly a foil, surpassed by orders of magniture by our own, home-grown, normal-as-wheat-in-Kansas Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, for

launching without any of the security features her Department has penalized private health companies for failing to implement.

Way to go, Kathleen! You done America proud!


Notes from Father’s Sermon yesterday.
1. We like to compare ourselves to shepherds and magi
2. We know where the messiah is to be born, we have a wealth of patristic commentary, we are surrounded by support for our faith yet we most often decide to act in a most unfaithful way.
3. We are more like Herod.
4. It is our simple daily choices that make it so.
5. We have a standard of living in America higher than Herod could imagine… But we fail in charity.
6. Being mindful on a moment to moment basis of our actions and choices in light of our faith is what is needed.

(Huw Richardson, I Am Herod, at Doxos V8)


At least two episodes of my youthful indiscretions followed my elders’ accusations of behavior that I hadn’t – yet – committed.  I think this was the tacit logic:


I was a Christian lad with raging hormones, which is a volatile mix. My elders knew that much. They apparently didn’t know that false accusations could light the fuse.

Almost 50 years later, I really regret one of those post-accusation episodes, and remember the accusers who lit my fuse (a smutty-minded school nurse and a credulous Principal Headmaster) as clumsy mediocrities – a recollection that has been upgraded several times from my original assessment as I’ve found out, bit by bit, that being an adult charged with guiding children ain’t for sissies. Nor is being a young person.

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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.