Friday, 7/18/14

  1. Writing versus other callings
  2. Equality gone wild
  3. Siriusly Stultifying
  4. Proof of God

1

If you want to win elections, go into politics. If you want to lead altar calls, go into the ministry. To be a professional writer, of fiction or journalism, is another calling altogether. I’d say it’s far more important for a young conservative writer to cultivate a conservative sensibility, in the way that Kirsch defines, and keep conservative ideology at arm’s length. That’s not to say that conservative ideology can’t be right about some things, or many things. It’s just that ideology is a partial truth masquerading as the whole truth.

(Rod Dreher’s concluding paragraph to a longish blog about somewhat competing visions of what conservative literature should be.)

2

[E]quality, when divested of the legitimate recognition of difference, becomes a frenzied pursuit of leveling in every aspect of material human existence.

(Gregory Pine, O.P.)

3

Traveling beyond the reach of much radio, I decided to try the Patriot Channel on Sirius. It was Mark Levin, who I’ve heard about but never heard. He has a voice that’s perfect for silent movies.

Somehow, he seguéd (shamelessly and with nary an audio hint of a wink) from a (presumably paid) advertisement for Hillsdale College, assuring listeners that their kids want to learn about things that really matter, into advocating impeachment of Obama and calling Harry Reid a racist. (Monday July 14)

In defense of Hillsdale advertising with Levin, it’s common for parents to want their children not to be as stupid as they are.

For comparison, the next evening I clicked up the dial to Sirius’s Progressive political talk channel. The two hosts, discussing the Hobby Lobby case, sounded about like Al Sharpton at his worst paired with Leigh French doing Sip a Little Tea with Goldie on the Smothers Brothers.

I’ll not visit those channels again any time soon. I think talk radio hosts are really space aliens, who come in through the radio to suck our brains out.

4

In my experience, those who make the most theatrical display of demanding “proof” of God are also those least willing to undertake the specific kinds of mental and spiritual discipline that all the great religious traditions say are required to find God. If one is left unsatisfied by the logical arguments for belief in God, and instead insists upon some “experimental” or “empirical” demonstration, then one ought to be willing to attempt the sort of investigations necessary to achieve any sort of real certainty regarding a reality that is nothing less than the infinite coincidence of absolute being, consciousness, and bliss. In short, one must pray….

(David Bentley Hart, The Experience of God, Kindle edition at 4188) I admit that I took issue with Hart’s book on one point in particular: he proceeds as if the God debunked by the New Atheists – which he convincingly portrays as a deist demiurge – is a mere caricature with no serious proponents. Well, that depends on what one means by serious.

Essentially on my own (at least I didn’t get it from the Church Fathers), I came to ask questions like that of Origen:

To what person of intelligence, I ask, will the account seem logically consistent that says there was a “first day” and a “second” and “third,” in which also “evening” and “morning” are named, without a sun, without a moon, and without stars, and even in the case of the first day without a heaven (Gen. 1:5-13)? …. Surely, I think no one doubts that these statements are made by Scripture in the form of a type by which they point toward certain mysteries.

I posed this to a soon-to-be-PCA Pastor some 35+ years ago (PCA was emerging as a conservative Presbyterianism from more liberal denominations, but was opposed to much fundamentalist nonsense) and was assured that it meant 24 hour days with or without sun, moon or stars.

In case you’re in doubt, which would be understandable considering who have been the loudest self-proclaimed voices of authentic Christianity,

the rise of the Christian fundamentalist movement was not a recovery of the Christianity of earlier centuries or of the apostolic church. It was a thoroughly modern phenomenon, a strange and somewhat poignantly pathetic attempt on the part of culturally deracinated Christians, raised without the intellectual or imaginative resources of a living religious civilization, to imitate the evidentiary methods of modern empirical science by taking the Bible as some sort of objective and impeccably consistent digest of historical data.

(David Bentley Hart, The Experience of God) Those fundamentalist traits remain, and many fundamentalists remain to exhibit them.

* * * * *

“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.