5 items & why I like ’em – Friday, 1/31/14

    1. On Moralism
    2. Paying for a little companionship
    3. Victim impact statement run amok!
    4. The Immortal Soul doesn’t exist
    5. Olde Fashionede bloggeurs
    6. Weirdest little rag you never read


Santorum’s inflexible moralism … is a major part of who he is, and when applied to foreign policy it is particularly destructive. Santorum approaches foreign policy issues as a moralist, and this makes him completely allergic to diplomacy and the compromise that diplomacy requires. It also leads him to endorse hard-line positions because he views international disputes and conflicts in such absolutist terms that taking anything less than a hard line is equivalent to moral laxity and corruption.

There are at least three ways that this sort of moralism warps our foreign policy for the worse. First, it causes Americans to imagine that they have a stake in conflicts where we have no proper role, which prompts us to want to get involved so that the “right” side prevails. Second, it gives us an excuse for our own wrongdoing when it is committed as part of our “good” interventions in the world, which in turn enables and promotes abuses of power. Finally, it makes it much harder to reach agreements with hostile or rival governments for fear of being “tainted” by negotiations, and keeps us fighting wars far longer than is necessary for fear that we are “surrendering” to evil. The result of all this is that the U.S. fights wars that could have been avoided and often avoids diplomatic engagement unless absolutely necessary. It is not an accident that the moralizing rhetoric of people like Santorum easily coexists alongside support for waging preventive war and abusing detainees, because perversely a major component of this moralism involves dismissing the rights and grievances of other people and nations as secondary or unimportant.

(Daniel Larison) Maybe I ought more regularly to say why I like something and what the limits are. I like this because it helps to explain how Santorum, who I used to admire much more, can be so right on abortion and the remaining constellation of “life issues” while being so bellicose on foreign policy that I’ve not been able to support his candidacy for President.

And I’ve got a bit of the moralist more than a bit of the moralist a heckuva lot of the moralist in me.

Someone is wrong on the internet

I could barely resist writing long rebuttals this evening to the twaddle of today’s Journal & Courier editorial page, too. At least they can’t hide behind (legitimate) cavils about HJR 3’s second sentence at the moment. They have to simply run the rainbow flag up the pole and command by cliché that all decent folks will salute.


A man walks into a business establishment and pays a small sum of money for the use of their premises. He’s slightly furtive about it, and the proprietor would probably deny the nature of the service provided, but the gentleman is seeking companionship, and doesn’t have anywhere else to go.

(Leah Libresco) What I like about this lede is that it drew me into a small but edifying reflection. I knew it was going to be edifying by the title, Starving for Communal Spaces, and the site, The American Conservative.


Prosecutors love blood-curdling Victim Impact Statements. Nothing is so galvanizing to a jury as the parents of a murdered young man saying that – Whoa! What’s this!? How dare they go off script?!

The crime affected the Autobees not just because of their beloved son’s loss, but also because of who they became after this loss. After Eric’s death, their warm feelings of love that Eric always nurtured quickly turned into cold feelings of vengeance and violence. Originally, the Autobees fervently supported the prosecution’s efforts to seek absolute retribution. Over time, however, and with reflection, they realized that Eric would not have wanted this for himself or for them; Eric would not have wanted someone killed in his name, nor would he have wanted his family to live in the darkness of hatred. The Autobees know this because they know how Eric lived: by loving life, saving lives, and extending mercy to the merciless.

The effect of the crime on the Autobees cannot be separated from this ongoing death penalty prosecution. Bob and his family have found healing in the forgiveness that they have extended to their son’s killer. However, the prosecution strives to forever undo this healing by seeking to avenge one killing with another, over the family’s pleas for mercy. For the Autobee family, a death sentence and the accompanying years of litigation, all supposedly done in their son’s name, would rob them of peace. For, in the eyes of society, their son’s name forever would be associated with cruelty and violence, rather than the human dignity and mercy he embodied in life.

“That they want to speak in favor of sparing their son’s killer confuses many people, including the prosecuting attorney, who is trying to bar them from testifying during sentencing. The legal wrangling is fascinating and has potential implications for the future of victim’s rights. See more in this article in the Atlantic. There are also plenty of questions about the role and intent of the state.”

(Chris at Running Heads) What I like about this is the man-bites-dog angle. Seeing someone act Christianly contrary to the script is delightful, too.

Got that: the prosecuting attorney … is trying to bar them from testifying during sentencing. You can damn well bet he’d be featuring them if they were bloodthirsty. If their opinion is relevant to State v. Killer, it’s as relevant if merciful as if vengeful.

Excuse me while I try to muster for the Prosecutor the forgiveness the Autobees have extended their son’s killer.


The greatest instance of this insistence is Immortality or Resurrection. Originally a 1956 journal article, it has been long available as a book of sixty brief pages. Reading Cullmann, for me, is like reading Richard Neuhaus; they both have the ability to say exactly what my inchoate thought is struggling to form. But they use actual words; I grunt and point.

Cullmann argues that there is no biblical link between resurrection of the body and the soul’s immortality. The ordinary Christian confuses the two, mistaking one as a synonym for the other. The later church affected a connection between two opposite beliefs, going through a period of gentile Hellenization. But the linkage created “between the expectation of the ‘resurrection of the dead’ and the belief in ‘the immortality of the soul’ is not in fact a link at all but a renunciation of one in the favor of the other.”

(Resurrection vs. Immortality, Russell E. Saltzman) What I like about this is that it reminds me of, and confirms me in the rectitude, of my decades-old pet peeve.


Entrepreneurs of the spirit.” That’s how us olde-fashionede unpaid bloggeurs are styled by D.G. Myers, in contrast to modern paid bloggers.

I kinda like it. It’s an ego-stroker.

I’ll admit that many of my favorite bloggers pretty clearly are paid, and some of the others may or may not be. But remember the etymology of amateur: someone who does it just for the love of the thing.


Afterthought: The weirdest magazine I’ve ever subscribed to, hands down, has got to be The Baffler, “The Journal that blunts the cutting edge.” Just got No. 24 (I’m not a charter subscriber). They publish when they feel like it, on topics all over the place and come up with some really interesting stuff.

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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.