Saturday, February 1, 2014

    1. SOTU: Meanwhile, back in America
    2. What would we do without polls?
    3. Selling out the Middle Class
    4. Scorning atavistic religion
    5. Strange bedfellows

1

This year’s innovation was the Parade of Hacks. It used to be the networks only showed the president walking down the aisle after his presence was dramatically announced. Now every cabinet-level officeholder marches in, shaking hands and high-fiving with breathless congressmen. And why not? No matter how bland and banal they may look, they do have the power to destroy your life—to declare the house you just built as in violation of EPA wetland regulations, to pull your kid’s school placement, to define your medical coverage out of existence …
Supposedly people feel great rage about this, and I imagine many do. But the other night I wondered if what they’re feeling isn’t something else.

Meanwhile, back in America, the Little Sisters of the Poor were preparing their legal briefs …The Justice Department brief … suggests the nuns are being ignorant and balky, all they have to do is sign a little, meaningless form and the problem will go away. The sisters don’t see the form as meaningless; they know it’s not. And so they fight, in a suit along with almost 500 Catholic nonprofit groups.
Everyone who says that would never have happened in the past is correct. It never, ever would have under normal American political leadership, Republican or Democratic. No one would’ve defied religious liberty like this.
The president has taken to saying he isn’t ideological but this mandate—his mandate—is purely ideological.
It also is a violation of traditional civic courtesy, sympathy and spaciousness. The state doesn’t tell serious religious groups to do it their way or they’ll be ruined. You don’t make the Little Sisters bow down to you.
This is the great political failure of progressivism: They always go too far. They always try to rub your face in it.

Washington sees the disaffection. They read the polls, they know.
They call it rage. But it feels more like grief. Like the loss of something you never thought you’d lose, your sense of your country and your place in it, your rights in it.

(Peggy Noonan, emphasis added)

2

A new poll shows that 15% of Americans never pray except for their team in sporting events or for a “fun date.”

Okay, I just made that up, free associating from a Wall Street Journal item.

3

At the Cold War’s end, the GOP reached a fork in the road. The determination of Middle Americans to preserve the country they grew up in, suddenly collided with the profit motive of Corporate America. The Fortune 500 wanted to close factories in the USA and ship production abroad—where unions did not exist, regulations were light, taxes were low, and wages were a fraction of what they were here in America. Corporate America was going global and wanted to be rid of its American work force, the best paid on earth, and replace it with cheap foreign labor. While manufacturing sought to move production abroad, hotels, motels, bars, restaurants, farms, and construction companies that could not move abroad also wanted to replace their expensive American workers.

Thanks to the Republican Party, Corporate America got it all.

(Pat Buchanan)

Of course, it wasn’t just the Republicans. One reason Conservatism is toast in this country until we overthrow our corporate overlords is that corporate interests coincide, in immigration and family policy and consumerism, with the pseudo-progressive views of today’s Democrats. Those views were aptly distilled by the late Joseph Sobran, expelled from polite society for speaking truly politically incorrect truths, who called the Democrats the party of “vote your vice.” Its slogan could be “your jobs may have been exported and your wages may be shitty (if you’re employed at all), but we’ll defend your sacred right to orgasm.”

4

Speaking of which, catch the whispered premise of growing European opposition to circumcision:

“circumcision is an ethically problematic ritual that is intrinsically harmful to children: every child has the right to protection of his or her bodily integrity and the right to explore and enjoy his or her undiminished sexual capacity later in life.”

(Center for Law and Religion Forum)  Mark Movesian replies, cross-posted to several blogs:

To put it bluntly, the secular human rights community finds it increasingly difficult to take seriously the arguments traditional religion puts forward, especially when sex is somehow involved.

Now, I don’t know whether exploring one’s undiminshed sexual capacity really qualifies as an international human right nowadays; I don’t follow the literature too closely. And this is the first I’ve heard that male circumcision leads to to a decrease in sexual pleasure later in life (I’m not speaking of female circumcision). But let’s assume what Frisch says is correct. The fact that he so impatiently dismisses any hardship a ban would cause traditional religious communities is striking. There is, it seems, simply nothing to be said for traditional practices that violate contemporary norms in this context; the sooner we get rid of them, the better. Frisch’s essay, like the proposed ban itself, is another indication that the clash between religious tradition and secularism is heating up, and that secularism is in little mood to compromise.

(Center for Law and Religion Forum) Is “secular” a synonym for “progressive,” the folks who “always try to rub your face in it“?

5

[B]y the time I converted for real, I knew that the greatest test I would face early in my walk as a Christian was to be faithful to Christ in all things, not just the things that came easy for me. I found very little help in the official Church, and, understandably, no help from my non-Christian or liberal Christian friends, who loved me, but thought I was a weirdo. I especially cherished the companionship of two gay Catholic friends, men who were close to me, who were walking the same walk, though theirs was made more difficult by the fact that they could never hope to be married, unless something absolutely extraordinary happened. Their walk was also harder because while fellow straights looked at me as an eccentric, the gay community looked upon them as traitors.

Yet they staggered on, rejoicing. It was an inspiration to me. It turned out that our common struggle to be chaste in an eroticized, de-Christianized culture like ours was something that deepened our friendship. It made me feel less alone in the Church and in the world. My friends were part of Courage, the Catholic fellowship for gay believers who wish to live lives in accord with Catholic teaching. Come to think of it, something like Courage might be a model for heterosexual single Christians who need companionship to bear the burdens of the walk of authentic Christian faith in a faithless world.

(Rod Dreher)

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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.