Thursday, 1/16/14

    1. Half-fast response to TBTF
    2. Silver lining
    3. Icons, A.D. 235
    4. Incense, A.D. 155 and 2014
    5. Exodus Mandate?
    6. Etc.?


Well, they tried. A group of apparently serious people met to deal with the transparently serious problem of banks that are Too Big To Fail. As the saying goes, what they came up with “wasn’t slow, it wasn’t fast, it was kind of half-fast” (say that fast with the emphasis on that last hyphenated word). Instead of a 10% “minimum capital reserve requirement for global systemically important banks, those Too Big to Fail,” the mountain after labor brought forth 3%.

Jonathan Coppage:

The last point I want to make here is one that Yglesias also harps on, because it is one of the most common and misleading arguments the banks and their media sympathizers use to try and fend off fairly common-sense regulations. Banks will argue that they should not be subject to increased capital requirements, because holding more capital means they will have less to lend, slowing economic growth in a particularly weak economy. This is nothing more than slight of hand. Increased capital requirements merely demand that they finance their liabilities with cash or equity, rather than money they themselves borrowed that exposes them to further risk. For a more extensive and thorough explanation, I cannot recommend Admati and Hellwig’s book The Banker’s New Clothes highly enough. It manages to explain the situation without any more math than looking at a mortgage.

I love Coppage’s illustration, too.


NPR’s religion podcast had a feature – not in-depth, but more than a mere mention – of the new atheist “churches,” which it described with some less sensationalist term than Atheist Church (but I can’t remember it, which may be why “Atheist Church” seems to be the term that’s sticking). Oops! Found it! “Sunday Assembly.”

As an Orthodox Christian, I nevertheless found something cheering about the phenomenon. It suggests that we’re waking up to our human need for connection, perhaps reaching a point of disenthrallment with atomistic individualism. The Atlantic notes that the “spiritual but not religious” have trouble “finding ways of engaging civically that jibe with their spiritual approaches.” I can almost guarantee that “engaging civically” as an atomistic individual won’t get you very far.

I might have felt otherwise if the groups NPR featured gathered weekly to rail against God, or against Christianity – just as there’s something toxic about a Church that constantly rails against gays or atheists.

Caveat: As I’ve said before, I have no use for religion as a purely instrumental good ordered to accomplishing this or that in the world, and so I here reiterate my scorn for The New Chickenhawks who act as if only proles need religion and big families, because it’s good for the country if their kind is religious and highly fertile.


It has been several years since I commented on this, but a new article, in greater depth, reminds me of powerful evidence of early Christian use of icons.

Concededly, one is hard put to find early Christian Churches with icons:

Up until the late-19th century, it was a common polemic of Protestant apologists (against both Rome and the Orthodox Church) that the veneration given to saints was a late innovation and even degradation of the faith (perhaps as late as the fifth or sixth century).

This isn’t surprising since there were periods of iconoclasm when icons were methodically destroyed. But to explain the absence of evidence of icons is not to prove their presence.

However, it appears that some small, very early (A.D. 235) house Churches – not just reliable historic mentions – escaped the iconoclasts. We have photographs.


I just realized how bland and meandering all the foregoing was. Let me boil it down: You people who think icons came late, to a degenerate Church are simply wrong. There’s a lot about the early Church virtually every American Protestant is wrong about. The early Church looks suspiciously like today’s Orthodox Church.


Speaking of the early Church, Polycarp in A.D. 155 refused to offer even a pinch of incense to Caesar. It reminds me a recurring argument about the Little Sisters of the Poor, that goes something like this:

They objected to filling out a one-page form. What could be easier than nuns claiming they don’t believe in contraception?

Meanshile, some religious charities founded by Catholic philanthropist and Domino Pizza founder Tom Monaghan got a preliminary injunction against the abortifacient mandate.

The court concluded that plaintiffs have a strong likelihood of succeeding on their claim that the self-certification rule imposes a substantial burden under RFRA on the organizations’ religious exercise, saying in part:

the government’s argument amounts to disbelief that the self-certification has much religious significance. And adopting this argument would therefore require an examination of the … rationality of Plaintiffs’ convictions — a task beyond the Court’s ability or competence…. [H]aving conceded that the accommodation requires Plaintiffs to change their behavior in some way — here, by executing a certification — the government cannot then label that newly required action as trivial. It is not the government’s business to decide what behavior has religious significance.

Religion Clause (Emphasis added)

See this, too.


Sex-Ed for 13-year-olds, not on one of our left coasts but in the heart of flyover country:


Oral sex
Anal sex
Touching each other’s genitals
Vaginal intercourse

(; H/T Rod Dreher) I frankly am amazed sometimes at the forebearance of Americans, who don’t “go postal” at a much higher rate than they do. Maybe they’re honoring the Exodus Mandate (headed by a former Purdue campus minister) instead?


Heavy, heavy blog traffic Wednesday. This may need a supplement, but for now, work beckons.

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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.