Friday, 2/6/15

  1. Run, Mitt, Run!
  2. Dismissed as daft (if heard at all)
  3. Self-Affirmed Heroes
  4. Chief of the anti-WEIRD tribe

1

Why Pete Spiliakos will miss Romney:

Mitt Romney was an unprincipled politician. He was an opportunist and a pragmatist. Still, it’s a pity that Romney won’t be running for president in 2016. A Mitt Romney­­–Jeb Bush fight might have split the Republican “establishment” and allowed an anti-establishment candidate to win. But Romney could have done more than split one faction of the Republican party. He could have nudged the platform of the Republican party’s establishment faction closer to the beliefs of grassroots conservative voters—and closer to the views of the general public.

Romney as spoiler. Great idea.

2

On September 11, 2001, there were only a few professional historians of the Crusades in America. I was the one who was not retired. As a result, my phone began ringing and didn’t stop for years. In the hundreds of interviews I have given since that terrible day, the most common question has been, “How did the Crusades lead to the terrorist attacks against the West today?” I always answered: “They did not. The Crusades were a medieval phenomenon with no connection to modern Islamist terrorism.”

That answer has never gone over well. It seems counterintuitive …

It is generally thought that Christians attacked Muslims without provocation to seize their lands and forcibly convert them. The Crusaders were Europe’s lacklands and ne’er-do-wells, who marched against the infidels out of blind zealotry and a desire for booty and land. As such, the Crusades betrayed Christianity itself. They transformed “turn the other cheek” into “kill them all; God will know his own.”

Every word of this is wrong. Historians of the Crusades have long known that it is wrong, but they find it extraordinarily difficult to be heard across a chasm of entrenched preconceptions. For on the other side is, as Riley-Smith puts it “nearly everyone else, from leading churchmen and scholars in other fields to the general public.” There is the great Sir Steven Runciman, whose three-volume History of the Crusades is still a brisk seller for Cambridge University Press a half century after its release. It was Runciman who called the Crusades “a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is a sin against the Holy Ghost.” The pity of it is that Runciman and the other popular writers simply write better stories than the professional historians.

So we continue to write our scholarly books and articles, learning more and more about the Crusades but scarcely able to be heard. And when we are heard, we are dismissed as daft.

(Thomas F. Madden)

UPDATE:

3

The affirming pastor traveled through fire and wind to get where he’s landed. Long did he wrestle with Stubborn Paul, with Unbending Church History, with Steely-Eyed Jesus. Heroically did he (or she) weep over the Unmoved Apostles, pleading with Peter to soften his tone—to lower his pitch, and use an inside voice—against false teachers and their compromised sexual practices, their correspondingly corrupted sexual ethics. Again and again the affirming pastor threw himself against the wall of Christian witness, imploring it to fall, to fall, and to fall, but it would not.

(Owen Strachan) And then he (or she) affirmed his (or her) heroicism and lived happily ever after.

4

ROC agitprop, which has Kremlin endorsement, depicts a West that is declining down to its death at the hands of decadence and sin, mired in confused unbelief, bored and failing to even reproduce itself. Patriarch Kirill, head of the church, recently explained that the “main threat” to Russia is “the loss of faith” in the Western style …

Well, it hardly requires one to endorse Russia and Putin to say that the ROC agitprop is onto something …

Schindler, who clearly does not endorse Ilyinism, says it would be ironic if the last defender of traditional European Christianity was a Russian Orthodox ex-KGB colonel. I think Schindler’s take on Putin as leader of the Anti-WEIRD coalition is perceptive. Excerpt:

I’ll elaborate what Putinism actually is, but before I do, it’s important to understand why President Obama and countless other Westerners cannot see what is right before them. Putin and the Kremlin actively parrot their propaganda, they are doing anything but hide it, yet we still cannot make it out.

This is simply because we are WEIRD. That’s social science shorthand for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic – and nobody is WEIRDer than Americans. In the last several decades many Americans, and essentially all our elites, have internalized a worldview based on affluence, individualism, and secularism that makes us unique, globally speaking. So much so that we seem unable to comprehend that there actually are opposing viewpoints out there.

(John Schindler and Rod Dreher)

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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.