Tuesday, 7/29/14

  1. Fight for your right to Soma
  2. Sic volo, sic jubeo
  3. A sign of hope – very long term
  4. Daily Signal-to-Noise ratio awfully low
  5. ISIS and the Tomb of Jonah
  6. NPR Blows one (on a topic they just can’t get)
  7. Death as a matter of Christian integrity
  8. We are precious in His sight

1

Peter Augustine Lawler in The American Interest wouldn’t have caught my attention with the title “America’s Middle-Class Myopia” had he not caught Rod Dreher’s attention first. He’s describing a “libertarian convergence” of the major parties that (a) bodes ill for traditionalists like me and (b) helps to explain why I no longer have any use for either party and can barely tell the difference between them except that the GOP hypocritically tries to sound socially conservative while the Democrats are heartily (and sincerely, since 1972) decadent.

Younger voters remain loyal Democrats, but their focus is much less on economic redistribution than “on issues of personal and sexual autonomy.” …

Older Democrats are more “communitarian” in their thinking about the national community that fuels progressive reform, while younger Democrats are more individualistic or libertarian. Their main interest is “protect[ing] personal liberties from conservative moral restraint.”

The Obama Administration has de-emphasized progressive economic reforms, the better to build a coalition against “conservative moral restraint.” And the old-fashioned or compassionate conservative Republican Peter Wehner agrees with this course; the President, he writes, is homing in on the Republicans; area of “increasing vulnerability.” Trends in public opinion, especially among the young, are solidly on the Democrats’ side when it comes to social or cultural issues such as contraception, gay marriage, and religious liberty.

What’s driving the libertarian convergence of our two parties, as described by Edsall and Wehner? In a nutshell, the morality of capitalism has won. All of American life is being transformed by the imperatives of the 21st century global marketplace. The Koch brothers, we read, are “moderating” the Republican party by purging it of its concern with social issues, which are really just reactionary prejudices. Silicon Valley is “moderating” the progressivism of the Democratic party, purging it of policies that stifle growth and innovation by stripping members of the meritocracy of their honestly earned property and money.

It’s probably more true than ever that we lack the cultivated leisure class that values “the best that has been thought and said” (and painted and sung) for its own sake. By now it would be downright audacious to suggest that one of our most important social projects would be to cultivate those with that kind of leisure, whether earned or given; to harness new technology to aid as many Americans as possible in rising far above merely middle-class life. As most experts understand it, however, our greatest social problem is how to get more and more Americans the skills, competencies, and habits required to flourish or at least make it in the 21st century competitive marketplace. The problem, if you’ll permit some hyperbole, is that too many don’t even have what’s required to be proletarian cogs in a machine, to be reliably, if marginally, productive. And so all the education experts say that we have to work harder to transform all of education around the requirements of the competitive marketplace.

(Emphasis added) It’s the right of every child to become a cog in the machine. Just give ’em their Soma and their Malthusian belts and they’re good to go.

Keep ’em consuming and by all means necessary keep them away from economically baneful religious observance.

2

I was hiking while listening Mars Hill Audio Journal recently, and one of the interview subjects quoted C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man, which I probably have read as often as any book in my library. What he quoted was the penultimate sentence:

All motives that claim any validity other than that of their felt emotional weight at a given moment have failed them. Everything except the sic volo, sic jubeo has been explained away. But what never claimed objectivity cannot be destroyed by subjectivism. The impulse to scratch when I itch or to pull to pieces when I am inquisitive is immune from the solvent which is fatal to my justice, or honour, or care for posterity. When all that says ‘it is good’ has been debunked, what says ‘I want’ remains. It cannot be exploded or ‘seen through’ because it never had any pretentions.

The Abolition of Man is about the systematic educational debunking of “all that says ‘it is good’,” the systematic aiding of students to “see through” all such claims.

So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised to see sic volo, sic jubeo on conspicuous display at one of our most select universities. “I’m half of a loving same-sex couple. I’d like to file my taxes jointly, as married. Sic volo, sic jubeo. I’ll think about ‘loving throuples and quartets’ tomorrow.”

3

Regular readers will be well aware that I’m not conventionally optimistic. My glass typically is half empty, not half full.

But the Mars Hill Audio host volunteered, as the lead to an interview, that one one the hopeful signs he sees is the re-emergence of classical and liberal education. I’d find that hopeful, too.

The interview was with two professors at Wheaton College, an Evangelical liberal arts institution, which is another hopeful sign: at its best, Evangelicalism still has a mind and cares about it. I tend to forget that with all the happy-clappy praise songs and Megachurch MTD.

But really, college is too late. Even if you can talk your kid into a Wheaton or a Wabash after 13 years of pragmatic, job-oriented, “Abolition of Man” type education for college, much of his or her character is shaped already.

What floats my boat is Classical Education all the way down to Kindergarten or younger. I don’t know enough to endorse or condemn a particular program or brick and mortar institution, but [backhanded endorsements and condemnations in which I have no confidence deleted]. (UPDATE: Mrs. Tipsy, a librarian in a non-classical Christian School, opines that Veritas Press seems like the real deal.)

Some of my friends are involved in homeschooling. They may be too busy to read blogs. Any recommendations?

Also Noted

4

I subscribed a few days ago to the RSS feed for The Daily Signal from the Heritage Foundation.

I’m already having second thoughts. It’s a pretty low signal-to-noise ratio. But since I didn’t know it existed a week ago, and since de gustibus non est disputandum, there you go. YMMV.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I am hard to please. Thank you for asking. And, no, I didn’t notice the play on words until after I had composed the substance and was looking for a headline.

5

Mark Movesian says ISIS’ destruction of the Tomb of Jonah was not, as some would have it, an anti-Christian strike at the tomb of a type of Christ, but a Salafi attack on other schools of Islam.

6

Same-sex marriage has won its 29th court case in a row, but this time there was a dissent. NPR reported that the dissenter thought there was no “fundamental right to marry,” which I thought would be a startling thing for a federal appeals judge to say.

Well, it turns out that NPR is just as incapable as other media of hearing what any SSM dissenter is really saying. Ryan Anderson explains what the dissenter really said.

7

I didn’t want my dying, if it came to that – and it will come to that – to be characterized fundamentally as a medical event, but rather as a matter of Christian integrity.  When we have this imagination that death is the enemy to be defeated by the greater powers of medicine, then the temptation is for the Church to abandon the patient to medicine. It’s a vocation of the Church to resist surrendering death and dying to medicine. It’s a vocation of the Church to continue to care for, to be present with, those of their community that are dying.

(Allen Verhey, Mars Hill Audio Volume 116)

8

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(H/T Joanne Allard on Facebook)

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“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.