Sunday, 1/25/15

  1. Religiously neutral and scientific?
  2. You can’t fight something with nothing
  3. GOP to Pro-Lifers: take this bone and go away
  4. Rethinking marriage at retail
  5. Made for Paradise as deer for the forest

1

To begin with, the popular media often refer to adherents of traditional revealed religions as “people of faith,” a term that initially seems respectful but, on closer look, can be seen to carry condescending overtones. People of faith are those benighted souls who persist in ordering their lives around the arbitrary precepts of an unverifiable divine being. Such people can be lived with, the commentators imply, as long as they keep their beliefs safely within the confines of their own communities and leave the public square to those of a more modern and scientific bent. Or, following Rousseau’s proposal, they should tone down their claims that God has revealed himself in specific ways and admit that everyone is feeling their way towards a generic divinity that makes as few demands as possible. Under such a worldview, the religious liberty guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is downgraded to a more manageable freedom of worship, with the secularizing elites implicitly claiming to preside impartially over the rival communities of the faithful.

Yet, as philosopher Roy Clouser has correctly observed, everyone has a belief in a divinity of some sort. We worship either the one true God or we worship something within the creation that we have put in place of God. The God-substitute may be reason, the scientific method, success in career, wealth, academic prestige or popular esteem. In short, everyone is a person of faith, including those who deny God’s reality or claim that, if there is a God, we cannot know him or his will. There is, in short, no religious neutrality.

(David T. Koyzis, What Would Kuyper Do?) I share some things just because they’re thought-provoking. Koyzis concluding sentiment, in contrast, is something I firmly believe. And it’s one of my great frustrations that our high castes think they’re neutral and scientific.

It recently came to my attention that the blindness and insouciance of our high castes probably reflects Kantian empiricism, via the dominant political philosophy of technocracy. Our high castes are insouciant and believe themselves neutral because, they imagine, they rely only on empirical evidence and have attained sublime technical competence at statecraft.

I share that because it’s thought-provoking.

2

Following the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that France “is at war with terrorism, jihadism and radical Islamism.” This tells us what France is fighting against.

But what is France fighting for in this war on terror? …

We abhor their terror tactics and deplore their aims, but they know what they are fighting for. What are we fighting for?

What is our vision that will inspire Muslim masses to rise up, battle alongside us, and die fighting Islamists? What future do we envision for the Middle East? And are we willing to pay the price to achieve it?

T.S. Eliot said, to defeat a religion, you need a religion.

We have no religion; we have an ideology—secular democracy. But the Muslim world rejects secularism and will use democracy to free itself of us and establish regimes that please Allah.

In the struggle between democracy and Allah, we are children of a lesser God. “The term ‘democracy,’” wrote Eliot, “does not contain enough positive content to stand alone against the forces that you dislike — it can easily be transformed by them. If you will not have God … you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.”

Germany used democracy to bring Hitler to power. Given free elections from Morocco to Mindanao, what kind of regimes would rise to power? Would not the Quran become the basis of law?

If Charlie Hebdo were a man, not a magazine, he would be torn to pieces in any Middle East nation into which he ventured. And what does a mindless West offer as the apotheosis of democracy?

Four million French marching under the banner “Je Suis Charlie.”

Whom the gods would destroy …

(Patrick J. Buchanan)

3

In the aftermath of Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat, the GOP establishment decided to double down on the policy preferences and priorities of the business lobbies. This meant supporting “comprehensive immigration reform” and deemphasizing social issues, even though it seemed unlikely that Romney’s problems was that he had talked too much abortion. But the Republican establishment assured us that those moves were necessary to win over younger voters and nonwhites.

The real value of this strategy was that it allowed the Republican establishment to dismiss the priorities of intraparty rivals without having to argue the merits of its platform: Listen Mrs. Pro-Life Tea Partier, even if you are correct about the issues [eye roll], the kids and the nonwhites won’t go for it. It’s out of my hands. We have to change with the times in order to stay relevant. I’m just the messenger.

If the GOP establishment were serious about winning over young voters and nonwhites, they would highlight the abortion radicalism of the national Democratic party. The twenty-week abortion ban unites the GOP base, attracts persuadable voters, and splits the Democratic voting coalition (if not the Democratic party’s Washington-based elites). Instead, the GOP establishment prefers to focus on new low-skill guest worker programs. Because that is what the lobbyists—pardon me—the youngsters really want.

(Pete Spiliakos, making the point that the GOP didn’t behave cowardly on Thursday – it just really doesn’t care about pro-lifers now.) More:

Even if they are, in some sense, pro-life, it is a very low priority issue and embarrassing to argue about (the Democratic establishment has no such inhibitions—strange that). Think about the feedback loops. From Republican experiences with the mainstream media, anything that is not pro-choice radicalism inevitably gets portrayed as pro-life radicalism. From the establishment’s perspective, even talking about abortion makes Republicans seem ever so intolerant, and it distracts from more important issues like getting the America’s job creators the guest workers they need to replace those lazy and incompetent Americans who can’t cut it.

That doesn’t make the Republican establishment pro-choice radicals. If they prioritized legal abortion, they would be Democrats ….

Spiliakos offers some strategies going forward, starting with punishing people like Indiana’s Jackie Walorski (he doesn’t name her) but not ending there.

4

One can, and many will, quibble over this Bill, but there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ve reached and passed and critical point where “marriage” must be re-thought, and that radical-sounding measures may be needed. Kudos to Todd Russ for putting something on the table in Okahoma. Full Text of Bill here.

5

I tend to tweet and post to Facebook links to the loveliest, or most arresting, or otherwise resonant Writers Almanac poems, but Friday’s, Music, deserves something a bit more enduring. Read it, put on something like the Bach B minor Mass, and weep.

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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.