Feast of Ss. Peter & Paul

  1. Unstoppable conservative/liberals fusion
  2. Hatfield and McCoy redux
  3. Brooks’ Democratic Faith
  4. “Get a Room, America!”
  5. No rational basis
  6. Defender of Christendom against Atheism

It is the Feast of Saints Peter & Paul. Here endeth a fast. But I think I’d have been cranky this week even without fasting.

1

Rod Dreher took some Pew quiz, which placed him as a “Faith and Family Leftist.” He scratches his head and demurs, while explaining the types of answers that he suspects led to Pew’s conclusion.

His own analysis?

For the record, I am a registered Independent, and consider myself a crunchy con, or a Red Tory. I suspect that deep down, I’m a 1950s Catholic Democrat — back before the Democratic Party became so hostile to religious and social conservatives — so maybe it’s not wrong to call me a Faith-And-Family Leftist. Truth is, my eclectic alt-conservative outlook is so marginal it doesn’t even rate on the Pew quiz. Let joy be unconfined, or something.

I took the bait and took the quiz. I was forced repeatedly to choose, between two extreme “talking head” type positions, the position “closest to mine.” I didn’t test the same as Dreher but did test “Left.” With Dreher, I think the quiz is flawed, but maybe these false positives tell us something about the state of political flux today.

2

One of the extreme positions I agreed with was that “Relying too much on military force to defeat terrorism creates hatred that leads to more terrorism.”

I was mildly saddened to see my childhood best friend (who I somehow haven’t seen in years though we live in the same town) pop his head up, as he does every few years, to opine a la Hatfield that we’ve got to take it to the McCoys or they’ll bring it to us again.

In a sense, he’s right: at some point, the feud becomes just about irresistibly self-perpetuating, the distrust justified through a thousand historic examples, and it really is dangerous to be the first to lay down arms.

3

[David] Brooks’ lament is wrongheaded in many ways. It is doubtful that most Americans ever fully adhered to the “faith” he describes, and to the extent that they ever did it’s not at all obvious that it was desirable. A nation doesn’t need to aspire to universal democracy to value and uphold its own traditions of representative government. History doesn’t inexorably progress towards a certain goal, but we don’t have to believe that it does to try to reform our system of government. Almost everything in his column rings false. In the absence of “faith in universal democracy,” there are many spiritual counterweights to “rampant materialism.” They are called religions, which contain wisdom even more important than the Biblical morality he mentions. We shouldn’t want political leaders with a “sacred purpose.” These are the leaders that lead nations into catastrophes by pursuing reckless ideological causes that attempt to make the state and its goals into a substitute for real faith. If one is looking for “sacred purpose” in modern politics, one has gone looking in the wrong place.

(Daniel Larison, hyperlink added) Brooks is often wrongheaded in interesting ways. This time he was wrong in a most disappointingly clichéd way, but since he’s behind the Greatest Megaphone in the World, he needs rebuttal.

4

For God’s sake, when you Americans are done with “normalizing” whatever you think should be normal, just keep it for yourselves, and do not try to export your exalted wisdom to other countries.

If tomorrow most Americans started to go all naked, or if they started to hop instead of walking normally, they will announce it to be the right, even the duty, of everybody in the world to do so. The neocons would ask the president to drone everyone who disagrees.

(Mohammad, an Iranian reader of Rod Dreher’s blog) Dreher responds:

I don’t believe that all values are equal. America’s values are, on balance, better than most of the world’s. But what business is it of ours to shove our values down the throats of foreigners? Vladimir Putin may be an SOB, but he’s not wrong about our arrogance.

I am deeply mortified by our cultural imperialism. There is no provincial quite so provincial as a WEIRD provincial.

5

Well before homosexual marriage became a public policy issue, heterosexual America had already redefined marriage. In the modern dispensation, the purpose of marriage was not lifetime mutual support whose love’s goal, if not necessarily actual fruit, was biological children; it instead had morphed into an alliance of two individuals maximizing their own interests in any way that suited them, dissoluble anytime either party desired. Transitioning from men and women to same-sex partners was a small step once marriage was so redefined.

(Donald Devine, Gay Marriage as Modern Marriage) This is the theme paragraph of a blog I began that threatened to become a summa or a book. I have time for writing neither, but must say something now that my state’s marriage law is one of the latest to fall.

So rapid has been the tsunami that I barely had time to anticipate that my state’s law – my very own state’s – was soon doomed.

Our attorney general has been increasingly vilified for honoring his oath of office by continuing to defend our law rather than throwing the game as have some of the cool AGs.

(Did you know that humans share 98% of the DNA of lemmings? I don’t know why that popped into my head.)

I’m very proud of him and of the quality of briefing by our Solicitor General under the AGs imprimatur. Some key points from one of the state’s briefs that convincingly show the continued legal defense to be meritorious:

  • “As the Supreme Court affirmed just last term, “[b]y history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage . . .[is] within the authority and realm of the separate States.” United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675, 2689-90 (2013).” It’s legitimate to defend the state’s right to continued control of marriage under federalism principles of the Constitution.
  • “The institution of marriage was a given—antecedent to the State in fact and theory. Until recently, “it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex.” Hernandez v. Robles, 855 N.E.2d 1, 8 (N.Y. 2006). Consequently, it is implausible to suggest, as the legal argument for same-sex marriage necessarily implies, that states long-ago invented marriage as a tool of invidious discrimination against homosexuals.”
  • Supreme court precedent itself is full of explicit and implicit recognition of “the procreative function of marriage and family, [and] implicitly contemplate the traditional definition of marriage.”

The Solicitor General summarizes. This is as close to a “sound bite” as you’ll get in a legal brief of this importance, so pay attention briefly:

The district court’s redefinition of marriage as nothing more than societal validation of personal bonds of affection leads not to the courageous elimination of irrational, invidious treatment, but instead to the tragic deconstruction of civil marriage and its subsequent reconstruction as a glorification of the adult self. And unlike the goal of encouraging responsible procreation that underlies traditional marriage, the mere objective of self-validation that inspires same-sex marriage lacks principled limits. If public affirmation of anyone and everyone’s personal love and commitment is the single purpose of civil marriage, a limitless number of rights claims could be set up that evacuate the term “marriage” of any meaning.

When a judge says there’s “no rational basis for denying marriage to same-sex couples,” he’s saying “I’m an amnesiac, historically ignorant, illiberally educated, and so blinded by recent fads that I can see no reason why marriage shouldn’t be willy-nilly redefined to include inherently infertile same-sex partners.” Or to put it more briefly, “Away with this fence! I have no idea why it’s here!

These are the same best and brightest types who got us into Vietnam and whose hubris continues getting us into ill repute around the world through imperialist ventures in the name of democracy or, now under Obama, novel “human rights.”

There is no provincial quite so provincial as a WEIRD provincial. But they’re in control, so we’re doomed.

6

The secular, hubristic progressive hot dogs in control of our policies today are one reason why, remarkably, the last 25 years have seen a plausible inversion whereby Russia now can plausibly present itself as the defender of Christendom against godless American atheists.

* * * * *

“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.