Potpourri 2/12/14

    1. Hyped debate twixt dumb and dumber
    2. Ideology taints everything
    3. Good conscience, bad conscience
    4. Guess who’s (awkardly, falteringly) injecting religion?
    5. Can I recant my recanting?
    6. A guy who just never finishes a job
    7. A feature, not a bug
    8. Woohoo! Food fight!


I have no idea why the hyped debate between Nye and Ham was worth anyone’s serious attention. They’re both boring and obviously wrong.

Creation science isn’t science, and it isn’t theology. None of the great religious thinkers of the Christian tradition could take it seriously.

But the idea that we know evolutionary natural science as it is now understood by various “new atheists” can explain it all is equally ridiculous.

Peter Augustine Lawler goes on from there to explain himself. I might not agree with every word, but had I known that the Nye/Ham debate was being held, it would have changed my life about as much as that butterfly that just flapped its wings in Brazil (an airy dismissal falsified by the very fact that I’ve now read, and made, several comments on it).


Did the CIA fund creative writing in America? The idea seems like the invention of a creative writer. Yet once upon a time (1967, to be exact), Paul Engle, director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, received money from the Farfield Foundation to support international writing at the University of Iowa. The Farfield Foundation was not really a foundation; it was a CIA front that supported cultural operations, mostly in Europe, through an organization called the Congress for Cultural Freedom.


At the Iowa Writers’ Workshop between 1998 and 2000, I had the option of writing fiction in one of four ways.

First, I could carve, polish, compress, and simplify; banish myself from my writing as T.S. Eliot advised and strive to enter the gray, crystalline tradition of modernist fiction as it runs from Flaubert through early Joyce and Hemingway to Raymond Carver (alumnus) and Alice Munro …

Second, and also much approved, I could work in a warmer vein—the genuinely and winningly loquacious …

Third, you could write what’s often called “magical realism.” …

These first three categories were the acceptable ones. But Category 4 involved writing things that in the eyes of the workshop appeared weird and unsuccessful—that fell outside the community of norms, that tried too hard. The prevailing term for ambitious pieces that didn’t fit was “postmodernism.” The term was a kind of smackdown. Submitting a “postmodern” story was like belching in class.

(How Iowa Flattened Literature, Chronicle Review)


Interesting juxtaposition:

  • Government is very, very happy that CVS had the integrity and conscience to cease selling a product (cigarettes) that sometimes kills people.
  • Government is very, very unhappy that Hobby Lobby had the integrity and conscience to refuse buying employee “health” insurance to cover a product (certain contraceptives and morning after pills) that sometimes kill little hidden people.

H/T Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. In a related vein, James Taranto does a thought experiment: What if drugstores had to sell cigarettes?


It’s amazing what you can see if you look. Guess who’s injecting religion into politics (very artificially and deliberately, by the way; it’s not their native tongue) and trying to impose its morality on others?

“See! We’re ‘spiritual,’ (not religious) too! We’re even spiritualler than those other guys! And we’re tired of everybody getting the impression, just because we never saw a church/state fight that we thought the church should win, that we’re in any sense irreligious.”


Can I recant my recanting and return to “I dunno”?


Bill Graham’s grandson must be really incompetent, because Evangelical and Fundamentalist entities that hire his organization (GRACE) to investigate reports of sexual abuse keep breaking into a cold institutional sweat and firing him/them just before they finish and issue a report.

Next stop: Oak Brook.


[I]f all that Eternity and Truth stuff is really true, why should we even think about altering it? It can’t get voted on democratically, and it can’t get imposed monarchically. So change doesn’t much happen. That’s not a bug. It’s a feature. Orthodoxy is not going to change out from under you.

(12 Reasons Why I Became and/or Remain an Orthodox Christian)


Peter Augustine Lawler (with a smile on his face, I fancy) acknowledges that Patrick Deneen hit him below the belt but swears it didn’t hurt. He then goes on to say that he did not have perfect ideological parity with that woman, Miss Lewinsky  those men, Michael Novak, Robert Royal, George Weigel, Robert George, and Hadley Arkes. Finally, he critiques the position of Deneen’s sometimes compadres at “The Anti-American Conservative.”

It’s pretty good stuff, especially since I think it’s done among friends who’ll be friends still at the end. In fact, I think it advances the conversation – or at least my understanding of it.

* * * * *

“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.