Monday, 7/21/14

  1. God can’t be bracketed
  2. Large and startling figures
  3. “Contraceptives”: What do manufacturers and FDA say?
  4. Positive Rights
  5. The Church ain’t no club, idiot
  6. Slaves of a violent god

1

[A] Creator God is necessarily an infinite God, and an infinite God, by definition, must in some sense effectively bear on all things without exception, all the time … A fervent believer may be a practical atheist. God’s existence is more than a fact; it is an all-embracing truth the significance of which the mind will never be able to catch up to.

(D.C. Schindler via Ken Myers) The full passage from which this is a clip is excellent and not all that long.

2

People have to be ready to be persuaded. In his excellent biography of longtime National Review publisher William Rusher, David Frisk explains Rusher’s useful understanding of the process of persuasion. People don’t change their minds until they are ready to change their mind and “a powerful argument’s first effect was to shake him [the person who heard it].” Those arguments “rattle around at the base of their brains, unforgettable and unassimilable, long after the pablum that preceded and followed it has been eliminated from their memories.” Rusher described the process as “outrage, silence, assent, enthusiasm. In that order.”

(Pete Spiliakos, largely on the conservative failure to persuade people who really are persuadable)

The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may well be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock — to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.”

(Flannery O’Connor)

3

Kevin DeYoung, an articulate Reformed pastor, keeps coming up with interesting stuff. This time, he’s tracked down manufacturers’ and FDA information on the “contraceptives” at issue in Hobby Lobby, which give the lie to facile assurances that Hobby Lobby was just plain dumb and wrong about those uterine defoliants not causing abortion.

4

Megan McArdle has an excellent column on who’s being bullied in l’affaire Hobby Lobby, why, beneath the surface slogans, we’ve come to the point where supposedly sentient adults can complain that their employer not buying them something equivalent to “imposing” on them – and how the leadership of a major American political party could declare war on religious liberty. (The War resolution failed, but putative Mormon Harry Reid made sure he could bring it up again later this session.) The McArdle column is excellent in pulling together several thread, including the emergence of “positive rights” – rights to be provided stuff by others, not just to be left alone.

5

(Religion) can’t tell anybody it’s OK to kill people, and it can’t abuse children systematically for God knows how many years. … If I was in a club, and I found out that there had been generations of people abusing children, and then that club was covering that up, I would quit the club. And I wouldn’t give them any more money.

(Tom Petty, telling ‘Billboard’ his new song, ‘Playing Dumb,’ is about the Catholic Church sexabuse scandal; USA Today)

Not to minimize the gravity of the Roman Catholic “sexabuse scandal” or the effect on its members’ faith, but the Church is not a “club.” Nor is it a hobby or anything else that one can just “quit.” If something like the sex abuse scandal causes one to lose faith that a Church is what it claims to be, to conclude that it is not the one holy catholic and apostolic Church of the Creed, that’s another matter.

But be aware, too: the media, including now the freelancers of the internet, will be reporting every salacious detail they can find about sexual abuse in the Church, and downplaying sexual abuse in other institutions.

Sexual abuse happens. The World hates Christ and His Church. That’s just the way it is. And considering the condition and trajectory of the world, the world’s hatred is rather a badge of honor.

6

ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas … and five Catholic justices on the US Supreme Court. There you have it. All slaves of the “violent” God.

If this sort of thing appeared in a college newspaper, well, you could understand. That’s how undergraduates are, dealing in broad simplicities. If this kind of thing only existed to flatter the prejudices of the Upper West Side, you could roll your eyes at the parochial ignorance and sanctimony. But this appears in the most influential newspaper in the world.

(Rod Dreher, commenting on a Timothy Egan Op-Ed at the New York Times) It’s just as offensive as Dreher says, but he may have overlooked its credulity about “the ancient struggle of My God versus Your God [being] at the root of dozens of atrocities.”

Marc O. DeGirolami also comments.

* * * * *

“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.