Tuesday, 3/18/14

    1. Guess who didn’t keep their powder dry
    2. This Calvinist non-Lent brought to you by the letter “T”
    3. Suicide for a serious candidate, but …
    4. Soft and Tough Pander Bears
    5. Nomads of Science
    6. Thea Kronborg on what matters


Reading the sorts of things gay internet sites are saying about Fred Phelps being on his deathbed (f’rinstance), I’m wondering if they don’t sometimes regret using up all their worst epithets on Ross Douthat and Brandon Ambrosino?


I am a bastard. A complete shit. And so too are you. Calvinists call it the doctrine of total depravity. And it is the existential driver of Lent.

(Giles Fraser, Secular Lent is a pale imitation of the real thing. I’ll have nothing to do with it: What’s more self-deluded than the idea humans can achieve a state of moral superiority? Give me Puritans over prigs any day)

Fraser reminds me of the late Will “Brother to a Dragonfly” Campbell. A friend repeatedly taunted him that if the Gospel was so goll-durn (or something) simple, why couldn’t he boil it down to ten words or less? Finally, Campbell shot back “We’re all bastards, but God loves us anyway.”

Well, at least Fraser’s not sugar-coating it, but I’m not convinced that the T of TULIP is the existential driver of Lent for those who, unlike modern Calvinists, actually observe it, and began doing so more than a millennium before John Calvin was a gleam in his father’s eye.


Mike Huckabee is such a waste. He has the raw political talent to reach out to the median conservative voter and to working-class swing voters. In the 1980s, it was observed that Jesse Jackson seemed to be running not for the real job of president of the United States, but for the mythical job of president of black America. As Jonathan Coppage pointed out on twitter, Huckabee’s CPAC speech was not of someone running for the real job of president of the United States. It was half monologue from some right-wing version of the Tonight Show, and half job application for the mythical job of president of white evangelical America. And he is still for the FairTax. That is suicidal for a serious presidential candidate. Shouldn’t be a problem for Huckabee.

(Pete Spiliakos, Quick CPAC Thoughts; emphasis – Ouch! – added)


Yesterday, I expressed hope at the prevalence of prophetic voices. Here’s a contrasting voice of accommodation:

Bishop Rimbo will conduct his first same-sex union in June, although his “conversion” on the issue occurred long ago in the 1980s. The ELCA voted in 2009 to permit same-sex rites, and although the article doesn’t mention it, ELCA membership losses thereafter accelerated. “The younger demographic wants a religion that won’t divide,” he explains, apparently believing that same-sex unions have been broadly unifying.

“The younger demographic wants” is the give-away. When you’re market-testing your message, you’re probably one of those latter day teachers hired to scratch itching ears.

Unfortunately, Mark Tooley, the teller of the anecdote, proceeds to answer Bishop Rimbo with his own set of market data:

Tim Keller of the conservative Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is famous for his Redeemer Church in Manhattan, which with its various church plants has attracted thousands of members. He remains conservative on theology and sex while admitting that many of his urban church attenders are socially liberal.

I have noticed this phenomenon in the vibrant churches of Washington, DC that attract young people. The churches, most of them founded over the last decade or so, are conservative, typically Anglican, PCA, Assemblies of God, or Reformed. Many of their young congregants, mostly new to the city and living in hip, newly gentrified neighborhoods, are socially liberal. Yet these young social liberals are not attending the dozens of theologically liberal old line Protestant churches in DC whose beautiful sanctuaries are typically half or more empty with disproportionately old congregants on Sunday morning. These churches tout their openness to same-sex marriage as the supposed siren call for youngsters, largely without effect.

Why? I conjecture that even young social liberals desiring to worship prefer churches with spiritual vitality that profess a transcendent message challenging their own worldly preferences. In other words, these young people aren’t that much different from other spiritual seekers almost everywhere who, consciously or not, cleave to a faith that demands rather than accommodates.

Superficially bracing, this, too, is an incitement to message-tailoring.

I say this not to condemn Tooley, Barna and their kin, but to call attention to some limitations of their approach – limitations I haven’t really worked my way through.


[P]eople today are lost because they do not know who they are, where they are going, or where they have been. Percy saw them as nomads of science. These rootless beings have given up their personalities and souls to “experts” who daily broadcast new information from pseudo-scientific studies that purport to inform them who they are and what they should be.

People from real places who cultivate traditions and strong families know who they are. The South had always been a bastion in this regard.Identification with a place is important for the development of the family and person. This is why there is a strong political movement afoot to destroy fundamentals like marriage and family and even to reconstruct language so as to recreate reality.

(Patrick Walsh, “Returning to the Sacramental World”: A Review of Marion Montgomery’s Eudora Welty and Walker Percy)

How do I get me one of them real places and a tradition to cultivate? Do they carry them at Costco?


Much of [Willa Cather’s] New York fiction is about opera singers (“Coming, Aphrodite,” “The Gold Slipper,” “The Diamond Mine,” “Scandal,” the latter two touched by anti-Semitism, the first mildly, the second more seriously). In these stories she examines how the life of culture, refinement, and idealistic aspiration fares amidst the bustling commercialism and all-encompassing publicity of the age (magnified a thousand times in our day), as well as against the false, the meretricious, and the sensational that constantly impinge upon the world of the artist. Speaking of another, inferior singer who has attained great popularity and praise, Thea Kronborg lashes out fiercely, saying,

“If they like her, then they ought to hiss me off the stage. We stand for things that are irreconcilable, absolutely. You can’t try to do things right and not despise the people who do them wrong. How can I be indifferent? If that doesn’t matter, then nothing matters.”

It is hard even to imagine such fierce artistic integrity today, in a world leveled by false “tolerance,” full of misconceived ideas of democracy, disdainful of “elitism,” yet worshipful of empty celebrity.

(Carol Iannone, Willa Cather’s New York)

* * * * *

“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.

About readerjohn

I am a retired lawyer and an Orthodox Christian, living in a collapsing civilization, the modern West. There are things I'll miss when it's gone. There are others I won't. That it is collapsing is partly due to calculated subversion, summarized by the moniker "deathworks." This blog is now dedicated to exposing and warring against those deathwork - without ceasing to spread a little light.
This entry was posted in Arts and Music, Calvinism, Christianity generally, Culture, Faith & Ideology, Family, Fasting, Literature, Moralistic therapeutic deism, Secularism, Sundry flakes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Tuesday, 3/18/14

  1. Wanted to leave a post on the Scott Hahn blog post but there was nowhere to leave a reply.I am a Catholic.I do not know if you know that in the Catholic Church there also 22 Eastern Rites including the Byzantine rite who uses the same exact liturgy that Eastern Orthodox use.Also most of the Eastern rites recite the creed just like the Orthodox without the filoloque.Even though Scott Hahn did not mention it we do not know all of the reasons since he did not concentrate in a through explanation in the research that he did. Maybe another reason that Scott Hahn also join the Catholic Church since we are really an universal church who has east and west was because the Catholic Church has 23 rites.Just wondering.All of our walks have been different.Also you said that you have never really investigated the Catholic Church so again an outsider is looking at the Catholic Church just like Scott Hahn did with Orthodoxy.Please comment whenever you can.


    • readerjohn says:

      Well, Mary you’re a little off today’s topics, but to be First Runner Up to Scott Hahn is kind of an honor.
      I’m aware of the Eastern Rite, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say I never investigated the Roman Church or that I ever said I hadn’t.

      First, I looked at it as a Protestant through very distorted secondary (strong Calvinist) sources. Then for 15 years or so I worked closely with Roman Catholics in pro-life work and came to respect Catholicism. Then 17 years or so ago, as I was becoming Orthodox, it became apparent to me that Orthodoxy agreed with Rome, and against Protestant traditions, on most of the points where I had simplistically rejected Rome. So I consulted, somewhat briefly, with a Catholic Priest I’d worked with in pro-life work.

      I don’t engage in polemics against Rome. History is too vexed to declare a decisive winner in the battling historic narratives, even if I were a historian. Suffice for a sound bite version that I find it more plausible that one of five Pentarchs got “uppity” than that the other four erred.

  2. http://www.salvationhistory.com/search/results/b031308727b42d86fb06cac28169514d/


    Also in Scott Hahn’s website he mentions the Eastern Orthodox and the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church.I also wanted to mention a former Greek now a Catholic convert James Likoudis.So here we have it we have also several Eastern Orthodox who have converted to Catholicism.Wanted to say how much I love my Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters who also have Apostolic succession.How much I love the respect and reverence in their liturgy.


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