Wednesday, 5/21/14

    1. WaPo blows Rubio’s teachable moment
    2. Who’s your daddy?
    3. Forget the gorgeous new day; I see a cloud!
    4. One blessing of individualism
    5. Trigger warnings


You can’t have a teachable moment with someone who’s invincibly ignorant:

Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio took some heat for saying that he was skeptical of global warming activism. He was asked about the reaction to some of his comments and he noted some hypocrisy he’s witnessed on scientific consensus:

All these people always wag their finger at me about ‘science’ and ‘settled science.’ Let me give you a bit of settled science that they’ll never admit to. The science is settled, it’s not even a consensus, it is a unanimity, that human life begins at conception. So I hope the next time that someone wags their finger about science, they’ll ask one of these leaders on the left: ‘Do you agree with the consensus of scientists that say that human life begins at conception?’ I’d like to see someone ask that question.

Stunned by the audacity of Rubio’s challenge, the Washington Post tried to prove that Rubio was ignorant – by changing the subject, apparently ignorant that they were doing so:

We reached out [A reporter “reaching out” does not bode well for clear thought and expression — Tipsy] to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an association comprised of a large majority of the nation’s ob-gyns. The organization’s executive vice president and CEO, Hal C Lawrence, III, MD, offered his response to Rubio.“Government agencies and American medical organizations agree that the scientific definition of pregnancy and the legal definition of pregnancy are the same: pregnancy begins upon the implantation of a fertilized egg into the lining of a woman’s uterus. This typically takes place, if at all, between 5 and 9 days after fertilization of the egg – which itself can take place over the course of several days following sexual intercourse.”

In other words: Consensus exists (if not unanimously), and the consensus is that uterine implantation is the moment at which pregnancy begins.

We presented that description to the senator’s office, asking if he wanted to clarify or moderate his statement. Brooke Sammon, the senator’s Deputy Press Secretary, told us that “Senator Rubio absolutely stands by the comment.”

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. It is somewhat mortifying that the idiocy of this is not immediately apparent to everyone. Did you catch it? Are you smarter than a Washington Post reporter? Do you know that “when human life begins” and “when an embryo implants in the uterine wall” are actually not synonymous statements? I bet you did. Or I bet you could figure that out pretty easily.

See, you will not learn this — or much of anything else about the reality of abortion or unborn human life — from the media, but in fact there is consensus about when human lives begin. It’s almost a tautology to say what Rubio said. It’s like saying “human life begins when human life begins.”

(Mollie Hemingway at the Federalist) Of course, the Washington Post’s confusion couldn’t have anything to do with the inconvenience of the truth Rubio uttered.

CAVEAT: One bon mot doesn’t make a plausible Presidential candidate.


Responding to recent talks between Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew, Gabe Martini sounds a sober cautionary note about the differences between the two traditions, Roman Catholic and Orthodox, that run deeper than historic incidents, and perhaps even deepr than the filioque innovation in the West:

When we look at certain ‘Doctors’ of the Roman faith, such as Catherine of Siena (fourteenth century) and Teresa of Avila (sixteenth century), we see—per professor Osipov—spiritual prelest, an open door to demonic deception, and an assurance of glory that rivals Christ himself.

In a drawn contrast, Osipov numbers great ascetics of the Orthodox tradition who spend their entire lives asking for yet one more day to repent. At the end of his life, Francis of Assisi remarks, “I do not know any transgression of mine that I have not atoned by confession and repentance,” while St. Sisoes of Egypt laments: “Verily, I do not know, if I have at least started the cause of my repentance.”

(Reveal Your Saints and You Reveal Your Church, hyperlink added) Won’t one who “feels with the Church” feel quite a bit differently in Orthodoxy than in Rome?


Suzanna Danuta Walters (An Incomplete Rainbow – Queer freedom and the tolerance trap), growing up lesbian, couldn’t imagine today’s world. But along with kindred professional grievance-mongers, she is not going to be tricked into missing the cloud around that silver lining:

  • Tolerance: “It doesn’t make sense to say that we tolerate something unless we think that it’s wrong in some way.” (Gaia forbid that anyone should think anything’s wrong about any part of the gay “rights” movement.)
  • Religious freedom: “the sharp knives of homophobia are seen in recent efforts in several states to pass draconian measures in the name of religious freedom. Indeed, just when it seemed that Uganda and Russia were duking it out as top contenders in (as The Daily Show put it) the Homophobic Olympics, our own fundamentalists stepped into the winner’s circle.” … This is all done, no surprise, in the name of “religious freedom.” (Sounds pretty intolerable to me. Pretty unhinged, too.)
  • Biological-determinist ideas of sexuality: “‘Born this way’ is a tenacious infestation that has spread from person to person, pundit to pundit, like a medieval plague.” (Sounds like we’re do for another dizzying polar inversion, as “choice” once again ascends over genes.)

Gosh, there’s just so much work left to do to create utopia! Give that woman a book royalty and some government grants!

Walters is is a professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University, and she has a brand-new book: The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes, and Good Intentions Are Sabotaging Gay Equality, just published by New York University Press. Her hysteria comes from the Deep Thinkers at the Chronicle of Higher Education, via its Arts & Letters Daily.

Not that I’ve ever lapsed into counter-hegemonic rants, mind you.


Thomas Storck and Metropolitan Jonah in their personal lives are good examples of the opportunity that American individualism affords the Gospel. Both men are critics of individualism in light of a shared Christian tradition that emphasizes the foundationally communal nature of the human person. The irony, however, should not be lost on us that both men advocate for a tradition that they chose and which they were able to choose precisely because of the very individualism they criticize.

I think the point the author, Fr. Gregory Jensen, is making here is that Mr. Storck and Met. Jonah are converts to their respective not-quite-confortable-with-individualism traditions, not bound to the traditions of their births. I know Met. Jonah was a convert. He was not culturally bound to remain Lutheran (or whatever tradition he came from). Me, too.

That is a genuine blessing, which we take for granted but which some in the world deny.


I recall as an adult having to put down Native Son for a couple of weeks because what I’d just read (at the end of Book One) was so unsettling.

So I sort of have a horse in the race as the conservative blogosphere treats the request of college students for “trigger warnings” as an occasion of derision. Had I been reading Native Son in a college literature class, I’m not sure I’d have passed if I’d had to pick it back up and soldier on right then.

On the other hand, how would you describe that trigger?

* * * * *

“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.