Sunday, 2/1/15

  1. Sport’s not a religion, but …
  2. Religion and Science
  3. Can the deracinated by reracinated?
  4. An Agribiz telltale
  5. Dreher grabs a third rail

1

If Pascal’s analysis of the human condition is correct, sport is a distraction from the unbearable truths of our own existence: our mortality, our finitude, our accountability. It does not deal with humanity’s deepest existential problems. It simply helps us pretend they are not there. That is why there is so much money involved: We think it is worth the investment to pay a sports hero more than, say, the President, because the former does a more important job. To quote Pascal himself: “Being unable to cure death, wretchedness and ignorance, men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things. Despite these afflictions, man wants to be happy, only wants to be happy, and cannot help wanting to be happy.But how shall he go about it? The best thing would be to make himself immortal, but as he cannot do that, he has decided to stop himself thinking about it.” That is where trivial distractions become significant.

When people prioritize sport and entertainment above all things, they do not replace one religion with another. They are merely finding creative ways of ignoring the realities which Christianity, and indeed our own awareness of our coming death, press upon us.

(Carl R. Trueman) Sorry for the downer. Oh, okay: I’m really not.

2

Duly noted: According to Cathy Grossman, “there’s a sizable chunk of Americans out there who are both religious and scientifically minded but who break with both packs when faith and science collide.” That sizable chunk is a third way between “Traditionals” and “Moderns.”

Looking at this third-way “Post-secular” cadre, I don’t find its existence to be all that remarkable, its labeling very illuminating, or its span as long as the gap between poles.

In other words, I can’t really identify with any of the three descriptions, and I don’t think I’m alone.

3

The roller skating rink in my fair city is closing again.

If I recall the drill correctly, this is an apocalyptic sign, and I need to go buy a gun and learn how to use it to protect myself and my home from the marauding hoards who now have nowhere to go.

Or perhaps they could go to Church. Peter Leithart, who famously if incoherently views himself as too catholic to be Catholic (or Orthodox) describes how Evangelicals are, in a spasm of “retrieval, renewal, and ressourcement,” rediscovering the Church in a non-individualistic way. Since Evangelicalism still seems to be the public face of North American Christianity, it’s the most obvious Christian alternative for bewildered ex-roller skaters.

Leithart, a thoughtful Calvinist, has some well-aimed critiques of the effort including the one I find decisive:

Put aside substantive questions about the law/Gospel hermeneutic. Doesn’t the decision to erect specifically Protestant principles as “ancient landmarks” militate against the catholic aim of retrieving an early Christian consensus? Can Scripture unify if each church reads as seems right in its own eyes?

Still, this is The Next Big Thing in Evangelicalism, I guess. Whether it will take root in the truly early Christian consensus, or pass away like countless other Evangelical fads is an open question, but I’m betting on “quickly pass away” while hoping for “take root.”

4

Gracy Olmstead of the American Conservative responds to the charge that healthy eating is elitist. Meanwhile, I can’t help but notice that a close acquaintance of mine, steeped the the North American Agribiz culture and making quite a lot of money from it, won’t eat the Standard American Diet it dishes up.

5

I’m afraid Rod Dreher has grabbed a third rail by writing about Bruce Jenner:

Notice the verbiage. “He is finally happy.” Er, right. Does this look like a happy man to you? He looks like he’s marching to the gallows.

If Bruce Jenner says he’s happy, everybody must agree or at least keep silent. He’s now a member of a protected, nay, specially favored class. “Who are you going to believe? Bruce or your lyin’ eyes?” (Be it noted that I express no opinion on the happiness of Bruce Jenner. I may have one, but I’m keeping it close to the vest.)

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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.