Saturday, 10/25/14

  1. More absolute than the Puritans
  2. Catastrophic victory
  3. TGI Yuval Levin
  4. What’s next for non-gnostic Churches?
  5. At home in exile
  6. Lipstick can’t obscure the misogyny

1

[T]he two most significant creators and enforcers of (im)moral opinion—institutions of higher education and the entertainment industry—are so completely committed not only to the total dismantling of any kind of morality even remotely reflective of traditional Christian norms but also (and more significantly) to the silencing or enforced cultural exile of those who dare to dissent. It is doubtful that even the oft-maligned New England Puritans were able to enforce a more effective and absolute code of sexual morality on the people.

(Carl R. Trueman at First Things)

2

The election trend must be moving toward the GOP because the media are predicting a disastrous result for Republicans on Nov. 4—if they win. The latest media trope is that Republicans are in such dreadful political shape that even victory would really mean catastrophic defeat.

(Lead to a Wall Street Journal Review and Outlook) I read that and thought “Sounds like my opinion. Tell me where I’m wrong.”

They told me, in effect, that I was wrong not notice the word “catastrophic.” GOP misgovernance won’t be that bad, they seem to think, and if The Stupid Party can actually field good leadership, we might be moved, nationally, in what WSJ considers a better direction.

Sometimes I may underestimate the value of stupidity triumphing over evil, but not very often, methinks.

3

It’s not thanksgiving yet, but I’m thankful just the same for the distinctive, often-surprising voice of Yuval Levin. I often say of writers “That’s just what I’ve been grasping at!” Levin tends to leave me saying “How could I have missed that?”

Times of uneasy transition are often characterized by a politics of nostalgia for the peak of the passing order, and ours most definitely is.

[After summarizing Right nostalgia, Left nostaligia, and Nice nostalgia:] But true or false, the sum of these related nostalgias of the left and right is almost the full sum of our politics today, and that is a serious problem. It causes us to think of the future in terms of what we stand to lose rather than where we are headed, and has left Americans unusually pessimistic and uneasy.

The biggest problem with our politics of nostalgia is its disconnection from the present and therefore its blindness to the future. While we mourn the passing postwar order, we are missing some key things about the order now rising to replace it.

Perhaps the foremost trend our nostalgia keeps us from seeing is the vast decentralization of American life, which has characterized the early years of this century and looks only to grow. The postwar order was dominated by large institutions: big government, big business, big labor, big media, big universities, mass culture. But in every area of our national life—or at least every area except government—we are witnessing the replacement of large, centralized institutions by smaller, decentralized networks.

(Blinded by Nostalgia) Decentralization is something I can be hopeful about, although there’s an insistence on some stifling conformity in some areas of life from hypocrites who can’t stop prattling about diversity while imposing stifling uniformity through government, education and media.

4

Less reliable than Levin, Russell Saltzman occasionally hits a solid triple. Of Archbishop Chaput’s Monday Erasmus Lecture:

I do hate to crow, but I already said this a year ago:

The non-Gnostic churches should stage a strategic retreat from a disenchanted public square and voluntarily return many of secular society’s gifts to Christendom. Stop being registrars for state marriages, surrender property tax exemptions, give up the double-dip tax privilege that grants clergy a non-taxable housing allowance while letting them also claim a mortgage deduction, drop military ranks for chaplains in the armed forces.

I suppose I should unpack that term, “Non-Gnostic.” These are churches that refuse to lurch around the secular landscape seeking the next big thing progressive Christianity might pluck from the culture or invent on its own. The Gnostic churches have been the first to consent to the social redefinition of marriage and family. They have consented to more than that (like clergy medical plans treating abortion as a reimbursable expense), but marriage and family is pretty much an end game. Among the new Gnostics, the confession of faith might go “We like Jesus and he lets us do anything we like.” (The codicil might read, “And you are a bigot if you disagree.”)

I’m not much in favor of American Christendom. I’ve always found the mix of civic patriotism and civic religion confusing. But at least the secular favors granted to the Protestant establishment came to fall more and more equally to the Catholics and everyone else, as well. If it weren’t for the Protestant establishment, Catholics wouldn’t have gotten anything, I’m convinced. Yet Gnostic Protestants increasingly accede to and even advocate for secular demands for marriage equality. In that context, the archbishop’s assertion of “principled resistance” makes sense.

(Retreating from the Square)

5

I had dinner last night with Alan Wolfe, whose new book At Home In Exile: Why Diaspora Is Good For The Jews, comes out next week. When Alan told me what the book was about, it struck me that moving into the future, orthodox Christians probably have a lot to learn from the Jewish experience of living and thriving (or failing to thrive as a religiously observant community) as a minority in an alien, even hostile, culture.

(Rod Dreher)

6

Girls often seem to seek affirmation or security through sending sexts. They may be single and seeking a boyfriend; they may have a boyfriend, or prospective boyfriend, beg them for a photo. Whatever the case, there is a lot of peer pressure involved here—and a strong double standard. Rosin reports that boys who get nude photos from girls are likely to call the girls “sluts,” yet if a girl refuses to send them a picture, they decide she’s “stuck up” or a “prude.” Boys collect these photos like baseball or Pokemon cards, says Rosin, their way of “showing off.”

Yet what is Rosin’s response to this phenomenon? She acknowledges that parents may be “creeped out” or “upset” to find out how common sexting is amongst their kids and their friends. Yet she seems to credit this attitude more with out-dated prudery than with well-founded concern ….

But there seems to be a problem with this framing, with “consent” being the only constraint worth considering. What if you are too young and vulnerable to properly consent? What if your original consent eventually leads—as it did to so many Louisa County high schoolers—to an abject neglect of consent and privacy?

The rising prevalence of sexting seems to have alarming implications for where young women rest their value, and how they approach romantic relationships. Sexting does nothing to show women that they are more than mere bodies—that their worth transcends the sexual, and that they deserve respect and care. Sexting does nothing to show a girl her worth on an emotional, intellectual, or spiritual level.

Sexting does nothing to teach girls about an intimacy that is more than merely sexual, that treasures a person’s entire character, that can be profoundly meaningful—and profoundly respectful—without the trading of sexually compromising and potentially exploitative pictures.

Sexting does none of these things. Parents who talk to their daughters about sexting shouldn’t merely try to ascertain the “sexual dynamics” involved. They should try to make sure their daughters understand the long-term consequences involved. And they should make sure, first and foremost, that their daughters know they are valuable, prized, and beautiful—no matter how many times they have to tell a boy “no.”

(Gracy Olmstead) I have many thoughts, some of them probably too simplistic, about this.

This pig is misogyny, and it’s still a pig no matter how much “sexual liberation” lipstick you put on it. It is the bitter fruit of the abolition of all sexual standards save for consent – so the deaf, dumb and blind call it sweet.

I suppose, though, that some bright young woman will assure me that it’s empowering because, well, Lysistrata.

Ancient Sexting - This can be yours if ...
“Ancient Sexting – This can be yours if …”

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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.