Saturday, 11/1/14

  1. Dwelling in Babylon
  2. MacIntyrian versus Murrayite Conservatives
  3. Where business competence doesn’t resonate
  4. One of the Top 10 Liberal Myths

1

In a hopeful sign, younger Southern Baptists appear to have become uncomfortable with the position and trajectory of the United States. They’re even referring to it as “Babylon.”

“Babylon” here refers to the Babylonian captivity, where the Israelites lived as strangers in a strange land. This is the reality of where orthodox Christians find themselves today. Those Christians who understand this and figure out how to live and to thrive in Babylon will make it. Those Christians who persist on thinking that we are living in the Promised Land will not, in large part because they will not have prepared themselves.

(Rod Dreher) I’m hopeful because for the time being, Southern Baptists have us Orthodoxen outnumbered, and it’s encouraging to see them entering the reality-based community. Maybe they’ll even get the little epiphany that Babylon’s defects are partly made in Evangelical and Baptist Churches.

In a related vein:

[Blessed] Theophylact reminds us that “while the activity of the demons operates, even though we appear to be speaking, we are not” (Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke, p. 127).

The messages which assault us through the channels, airwaves, and electronic media of contemporary life appear to be human speech, but in reality they are demonic chatter and lies. When we consider the distortion of truth that passes as communication in the modern world, we understand that we are experiencing a constant assault on our hearts and souls.

In the last few decades, the plain meaning of words has often been turned inside out. Barbarous lies are set forth as truth …

Such a barrage of lies is, in fact, what Saint Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain calls “spiritual warfare.”

(Dynamis Orthodox devotional for Thursday, 10/30/14)

2

Samuel Gregg at Public Discourse might label the young Southern Baptists “MacIntyrians”:

Recent months have witnessed an emerging debate among some American conservatives, especially religiously-informed conservatives and, even more specifically, Catholic conservatives. This debate concerns how they can (and, in some cases, whether they should even attempt to) engage in a public square that seems ever more rooted in modern liberal presuppositions and preoccupations.

At the risk of oversimplification, in one corner are those perhaps best described as “MacIntyrians,” after the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre and his seminal book After Virtue (1981). They suggest that modern liberalism’s advance in the academy and the wider culture (especially the media) is now so pronounced that it’s rendering any alternative shaping of the public square extremely difficult. Some even hold that aspects of the American experiment, by which they appear to mean a type of Lockean materialism, were bound to eventually marginalize alternative arguments.

In the other camp are those who might be called “Murrayites.” Named after the Jesuit philosopher John Courtney Murray and his equally important text We Hold These Truths (1960), this group readily acknowledges that American intellectual and popular culture is in very bad shape. They aren’t, however, convinced that the American experiment is either down-and-out or irredeemably flawed. Instead, they maintain that much of the American Founding continues to provide a sound general context for religious conservatives to make and advance their political, social, economic, and national security positions.

Gregg thinks the MacIntyrian “Benedict Option,” much flirted-with by Rod Dreher (and me) “isn’t open to those American conservatives—Jewish, Christian, or secular—who take natural law seriously,” as I like to think I do.

I lately have been neglecting the Murrayite challenges to my MacIntyrian instincts, a neglect I intend to cure by returning the Public Discourse RSS feed to my reader. Do not neglect to read Gregg’s piece if you’re in my position.

3

For those who think it might be possible to get at ease in Babylon, here are some suggestions for what to look for in a political candidate beyond a GOP identity and a stellar business history:

Right-leaning businessmen-turned-technocrats have a problem. The public recognizes that they are hard working, intelligent, and successful. It is less obvious that the political success of these men will benefit Americans who are at the earnings median rather than those who are more like . . . [David] Perdue [R, Georgia] and [Mitt] Romney. Changes in the global economy have left millions of Americans feeling like they tread water during periods of growth and risk going under during recessions—and all the while, the Romneys and Perdues seem to do just fine.

This is where there is something of a split between the conservative base and many persuadable voters. Conservatives tend to have more of a positive opinion of (non-rent seeking) business owners and executives. But, as Henry Olsen has pointed out, persuadable voters have a much more ambivalent view of the boss. Many of the same executives who “created” or “saved” jobs in the U.S. probably also had a hand in outsourcing some jobs to other countries. The productivity experts who made their companies globally competitive likely also found ways to make their employees work harder for less security.

That does not mean that persuadables inevitably see business executives as worse than other kinds of candidates. People who have spent all of their adult lives chasing elective office, or people who are primarily distinguished by a famous last name have weaknesses of their own. But right-leaning business executives do face distinct challenges in winning over skeptical swing voters.

To address public concerns about their suitability, right-leaning businessmen-turned-candidates must direct their detail-oriented administrative competence to specific public purposes. And, perhaps more than any other kind of candidate, business executives need a middle-class agenda and an intuitive understanding of the priorities of persuadable middle-class voters.

(Pete Spiliakos)

4

Women are paid 77 cents on the dollar compared with men. The mother of all liberal superstitions, this figure comes from shoddy math that divides the average earnings of all women working full-time by the average earnings of all full-time men, without considering career field, education or personal choices. When those factors are included, the wage gap disappears. A 2009 report commissioned by the Labor Department that analyzed more than 50 papers on the topic found that the so-called pay gap “may be almost entirely” the result of choices both men and women make.

Yet here’s Colorado’s Sen. Udall: “It is simply unacceptable for businesses to pay women less than men doing the same work,” citing his support for the Paycheck Fairness Act, which might be better titled the Trial Lawyer Paycheck Act. One irony: The Washington Free Beacon did a little number crunching and discovered that women in Sen. Udall’s office earn 86 cents on the dollar compared with men. Whoops.

(Kate Bachelder, Top 10 Liberal Myths, Wall Street Journal)

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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.