π Day, 3/14/15, 9:26

  1. A religio-political thought experiment
  2. On opening a box of old icons
  3. ECT
  4. Hating the “haters”
  5. History, Evangelicals and Protestantism
  6. Political Criticism ≠ Recognition of Threat
  7. Unreliable
  8. The new Investiture Controversy


Let’s imagine a handful of significant figures in the religious right stating publicly that their support was up for grabs based on a single issue: religious freedom. Come up with legislation providing adequate protection, and any candidate signing on would earn their support – or their firm neutrality if both candidates signed on. This would be true regardless of those candidates other views – including on social issues. Meanwhile, absolutely no further support would be provided to either party generally.

Does Dreher really think that the Democratic Party wouldn’t take a serious look at somebody credible who said that? Or that such a statement wouldn’t at least prompt a real debate in Democratic ranks about how to respond?

(Noah Millman)


The author, a prodigal, has come home.

Look at the icon.
Take a deep breath.
Pray: You are God.
Take a deep breath.
Pray: I am not.
Take a deep breath.
Pray: Help.
Take a deep breath.

I find the last clean spot on the cloth, dab it with rose,
wipe my Bridegroom clean,
look around the room,
surrounded by friends,
and return to the rule.

(The Ochlophobist) It brings me to tears to read that.


Here is an ecumenism of the trenches born out of a common moral struggle to proclaim and embody the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a culture of disarray. This is not merely a case of politics making strange bedfellows. It is more like Abraham bargaining with God for the minimal number of righteous witnesses required to spare the sinful city of Sodom. For too long, ecumenism has been left to Left-leaning Catholics and mainline Protestants. For that reason alone, evangelicals should applaud this effort and rejoice in the progress it represents.

(Timothy George, writing twenty years ago of the effort Evangelicals and Catholics Together) Related topic below.


Don’t you just hate those crummy hateful haters?

The online petition an alumnus started denounces what Jannuzzi wrote as “hate speech.” When the word “hate” is deployed, all thinking stops, and it’s all about emoting. From the comments under the petition:


As a Immaculata alumni, class of ’04, I’m deeply disturbed by Mrs. Jannuzzi’s hateful, homophobic remarks. I was extremely involved in the school’s campus ministry programs and close with Mrs. Jannuzzi, looking to her as a mentor and for advice often. I am so thankful that I never confieded in her about my sexuality, I can’t even begin to imagine the hurtful and hateful things she would have said to me. I am a successful and proud gay woman and am thankful for all of the life lessons that I learned in my four years at Immaculata. I worry about the students that are there now and how she is filling their minds with hate. She is preaching to students to not love themselves for who they are because to be gay is wrong and that it is something that they can “chose”. This is a crucial time for adolescents and Mrs. Jannuzzi’s messages of hate can and will end up scaring snd hurting many students in ways that she will never know. Please stop Mrs. Jannuzzi’s public hate speech and all students deserve to be treated with respect and hear messages of love and acceptance, not hate.

The word “hate” (or a variation) is used six times in one paragraph. It’s a tic. Notice that Quinn looked up to Jannuzzi as a mentor, and “often” sought her advice. She must have trusted Jannuzzi. But now that Jannuzzi is outed as believing what the Catholic Church teaches on homosexuality, she is a witch trying to possess the minds of The Precious Children. Such moral panic.

Another comment from someone who signed the petition. This is not a joke:

Mike Hubbard CHICAGO, IL

Clearly someone who doesn’t understand the Catholic Church should not be allowed to teach in a Catholic School. Furthermore, children should not be subjected to an “educator” spewing hate.


I cannot believe the principal and the pastor of the parish are succumbing to the mob. I wonder how much longer Jannuzzi can keep her job.

UPDATE.2: Here is the tweet from the Immaculata alumnus that started it all. Interesting to contemplate that this guy called his former teacher a “nightmare dumpster human” to protest against — try to say it without laughing — hate. Friends, the Millennials have found their very own Corky St. Clair:

(Rod Dreher, writing about a Catholic high school teacher forced to remove her Facebook page after a petition surfaced online calling attention to her posts. Emphasis added.)

Further update: the teacher has been administratively suspended, with a mealy-mouthed letter going out that tacitly proves whose “negative light” the school fears. It is expedient that one should die but the school be saved from the coming “tolerance.”


I’ve been groping for a few days for the right words to express my inchoate reaction to History, Evangelicals and Protestantism.

First, surely, is that some of these Evangelicals are leaving for Constantinople, not Rome or Canterbury. That one’s easy.

Second, I think, is that there’s good reason for the Protestant, and especially Evangelical, neglect of Church history. To be deep in history is to cease being Protestant, it has been said. Perhaps that’s not ironclad, but Orthodox converts from Evangelicalism exulted and winked knowingly when Wheaton College mounted a serious emphasis on patristics. To be deep in history makes it deucedly hard to remain Evangelical, as it becomes really hard not to recognize that you’re on the wrong side of a deep historic discontinuity (if not at the Reformation, at least at the Second Great Awakening). The members of my family deepest in history are Lutheran and yours Orthodoxly truly, but that’s not how we were raised or how the others have remained.

Imagine trying to teach biology from a Young Earth Creationist perspective. You’ve got to be either (a) a surpassing genius, the final Destroyer of the Darwinian Beast with your profound and irrefutable insights; (b) a hack purveyor of isolated factoids (or boring genus, phylum, species stuff) rather than a teacher of the fruitful prevailing unifying theory in today’s biology; or (c) an underminer of the faith your students’ parents are paying you to buttress.

Teaching Church history from an Evangelical perspective, it seems to me, is a lot like that. It may actually be a moral credit that there are few willing to undertake it.


[A] common mistake that partisans and ideologues often make[ is to] assume that a figure is criticized and/or mocked in direct proportion to how threatening that person supposedly is to the other side of the debate. According to this sort of thinking, Sarah Palin must leave people quaking with fear rather than laughter. It has escaped Kristol, but it is frequently the case that a politician becomes the focus of anger because he is fighting for a bad cause and he becomes the focus of mockery because he keeps screwing up at every turn.

(Daniel Larison)

Speaking of politicians who deserve to be mocked, Sen. Tom Cotton got a surprisingly neutral profile on NPR last night. Best line:

“I like and admire Tom Cotton. I’m sorry people are sayin’ mean things about him by comparing him to me.” – Sen. Ted Cruz

Call it “liberal” if you it makes you feel good, but NPR and PBS national and international news coverage makes all other U.S. broadcast coverage look/sound brain dead.


Rod Dreher has been looking forward to Damon Linker’s reaction to Randy Boyagoda’s biography of Richard John Neuhaus because of of Linker’s famous falling out with Neuhaus.

If the preceding paragraph elicits a “WTF!!!,” don’t bother clicking those links. You’re hopeless.

Reliability may well be a political virtue. It’s also a pretty serious intellectual vice.

(Damon Linker, of Neuhaus) But if your decades-long passion is “to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the United States” or to cobble together “the minimal number of righteous witnesses required to spare … Sodom,” a bit of intellectual vice and reliable propagandizing may be the price you pay, I guess.

“If ….”

I do think the United States needs a religiously informed public philosophy, but I’ve pretty well concluded that we’ll not get it until the Eschaton, whereupon we won’t care.


Roman polytheism had not produced a principled case for religious tolerance: the devotions paid by Roman citizens to their chosen gods rarely caused sectarian strife, but as Smith shows, polytheistic toleration was merely pragmatic, and it could be and was dispensed with whenever religious practice posed a threat to state power.

One doesn’t arrive at such a principle unless some truth is believed to be higher than the state and above its determination. Unlike the Romans, Christians could affirm that they were citizens but, even more, creatures of a living God. It followed that their existence as loving and relational beings, their practices as worshippers of a giving, personal God, could not be defined exclusively by the state …

In the lead now is a consensus in the legal academy that religious freedom should not receive constitutional protection, the text of the First Amendment be damned. To the extent that religious freedom receives a constitutional shield, it should be under the umbrella of free speech, for example. So it should come as no surprise, Smith notes, that the Obama administration argued in the 2012 Hosanna-Tabor case against the doctrine of “ministerial exception” that permits churches freedom in the selection of clergy. Churches would thus have to fit clergy hiring decisions within the strictures of federal civil rights law—call it the 21st-century return of the Investiture Controversy.

(Richard M. Reinsch, hyperlink added) I hope I haven’t misrepresented Reinsch with my ellisions, but I think it’s fair to infer that we have come to our new Investiture Controversy, then, because in the legal academy and the Federal courts, no “truth is believed to be higher than the state and above its determination.” Yet when I say that some policy or utterance is “statist,” I invariably get looks of blank incomprehension.

It just came to me! I understand the incomprehension now! Our polytheism (“diversity”), like Rome’s, finds only one religion principally threatening to state power, and few there be that practice it.

Have a nice π Day anyway.

* * * * *

“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.