Monday, 3/9/15

  1. “Protected classes” and protected “protected classes”
  2. Secularist cluelessness
  3. What Xir said about Xirself
  4. Our President, the fabulist
  5. Some people are like Slinkies®

1

I’m old enough to recall when Christians were called “hypocrites” if they only practiced their faith at Church on Sunday, and didn’t take it into the marketplace with them the rest of the week. Now we’re told to leave it at the Church door (unless our “Christianity” hews closely to progressives’ pet political projects).

It’s odd and a bit perverse that governmental agencies are punishing religious people who merely abstain from doing something while everyone else is free to be “true to themselves.” Religion was, after all, on the protected class list, for good historic reasons, long before sexual orientation joined, yet this persecution is done, with no sense of irony, in the name of defending an historically persecuted group from persecution.

2

Journalism is the art of translating abysmal ignorance into execrable prose. At least, that is its purest and most minimal essence.

(David Bentley Hart, as are all the following block quotes) Nowhere is the “abysmal ignorance” more manifest than in coverage of religion, whence the friendly and helpful critics at GetReligion.org and the parallel podcast.

Most journalism of ideas is little more than a form of empty garrulousness, incessant gossip about half-heard rumors and half-formed opinions, an intense specialization in diffuse generalizations. It is something we all do at social gatherings—creating ephemeral connections with strangers by chattering vacuously about things of which we know nothing—miraculously transformed into a vocation.

Terry Mattingly, who surely is the main muse at GetReligion.org, points out both the infuriating and the exonerating aspects of journalism’s abysmal religion ignorance (again) in some recent podcasts. The infuriating: religion isn’t given the dignity of other serious topics, with reporters trained for coverage (there are some journalism schools that swim upstream on that), but is treated as politics in drag. The exonerating: newspapers and commercial print journals are fighting for their economic lives, and can’t cover everything. That I think religion is so important as to be near the top of the list doesn’t matter if I can’t deliver readers.

Which brings me to Adam Gopnik, and specifically his New Yorker article of February 17, “Bigger Than Phil”—the immediate occasion of all the rude remarks that went coursing through my mind and spilling out onto the page overhead. Ostensibly a survey of recently published books on (vaguely speaking) theism and atheism, it is actually an almost perfect distillation of everything most depressingly vapid about the cogitatively indolent secularism of late modern society. This is no particular reflection on Gopnik’s intelligence—he is bright enough, surely—but only on that atmosphere of complacent ignorance that seems to be the native element of so many of today’s cultured unbelievers. The article is intellectually trivial, but perhaps culturally portentous.

Simply said, we have reached a moment in Western history when, despite all appearances, no meaningful public debate over belief and unbelief is possible. Not only do convinced secularists no longer understand what the issue is; they are incapable of even suspecting that they do not understand, or of caring whether they do.

But not to worry, because Gopnik is confident that his denomination (Atheist) has a lock on the truth – a claim of exclusivity that would leave people sputtering at the arrogance and fundamentalism of it were it uttered by a theist of his denomination or of his Christ.

Did Gopnik bother to read what he was writing there? I ask only because it is so colossally silly. If my dog were to utter such words, I should be deeply disappointed in my dog’s powers of reasoning. If my salad at lunch were suddenly to deliver itself of such an opinion, my only thought would be “What a very stupid salad.” Before all else, there is the preposterous temerity of the proprietary claim; it is like some fugitive from a local asylum appearing at the door to tell you that “all this realm” is his inalienable feudal appanage and that you must evacuate the premises forthwith. Precisely how does materialism (which is just a metaphysical postulate, of extremely dubious logical coherence) entail exclusive ownership of scientific knowledge?

No, he probably didn’t bother to read. The whole religion thing is just so tedious that it doesn’t even merit engaging the argument.

We know who the enemy is: theocrats. And we don’t need to be able to express – in words, interpretive dance, painting, sculpture, mime, movie, music, architecture or any other medium – just how we know. Isn’t is self-evident? Haven’t you been watching all the edgy flippant sitcoms?

(H/T Tipsy’s brother)

3

I thought this might be parody, but I’m not so sure now, since the Tweeter Xirself says this is how Xir filters life:

Xir profile

“Filters life through the lens of minority issues.” Well, do tell!

4

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Selma, be mindful that these were the very events that inspired the 53-year-old President’s parents four years earlier to make the beast with two backs and bring forth their firstborn son, laying him in a manger in Selma, because the Inns were segregated:

There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born. So don’t tell me I don’t have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don’t tell me I’m not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama.

(Barack Obama, March 4, 2007) It must be true, since our President-to-Be said it. (H/T Tipsy’s brother)

5

Spotted on Pinterest: “Some people are like Slinkies. They’re not much good for anything, but it can bring a smile to the face to watch them pushed down stairs.”

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.