Hagia Podrig’s Day, 3/17/15

  1. Christian opinions elicits facepalms
  2. Why did we “Spring forward” again?
  3. Separation of the wrong kind of Church and State
  4. Boys in Bubbles
  5. No GOP sense of proportion
  6. It’s not all about you
  7. The Mystery Passage
  8. Iconic “Extremists”

1

In a longish essay titled Dorothy Sayers, Gnosticism and the Problem of the Body, Robin Phillips cites many signs of how deeply much of Christendom has drunk the cup of Gnostic heresy:

[A]t the close of last century, Time reported that two thirds of Americans who say they believe in a resurrection of the dead do not believe they will have bodies after the resurrection. (Time Magazine, March 31, 1997) In 2006, a Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll found that among those who consider themselves to be ‘born again’, only 59% answered yes to the question: “Do you believe that, after you die, your physical body will be resurrected someday?”

In his “compendium of everything you ever wanted to know about death”, Biochemical researcher Brian Innes observes that ‘current orthodox Christianity no longer holds to the belief in physical resurrection, preferring the concept of the eternal existence of the soul, although some creeds still cling to the old ideas.’

It is equally revealing that after N.T. Wright published his excellent book Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (2008) setting forth the historic Christian doctrine of physical resurrection, ABC news referred to Wright’s idea that “God will literally remake our physical bodies” as “a radical departure from traditional belief.”

I suppose that final paragraph could be seen as an example of abysmally ignorant religion reporting (you do know that “traditional belief” is precisely in bodily resurrection, don’t you? Please?), but the poll results in the first paragraph suggest it’s not entirely off the mark – and Phillips’ opening personal anecdote somewhat parallels my own first adult Christian epiphany.

2

On a daylighter note:

 

3

When Dan Cathay, CEO of Chik-fil-A declared that he believed marriage was properly understood between a man and a woman, opinion makers decried that he was unnecessarily mixing moral judgments and business. One business journal advised  that when dealing with a controversial topic like gay marriage, the preferred answer should have been “business and politics don’t mix.” However, in contrast to the circus-level attention that Cathy’s brief comments elicited—dealing with his private views—the political lobbying by Indiana corporations has hardly merited commentary … If a corporation speaks out against gay marriage, it is inappropriately mixing morality and business; if a corporation lobbies in favor of gay marriage, it is practicing good business. What we are seeing today in Indiana—as we’ve seen in many other States—is not an instance of “strange bedfellows,” but natural allies.

Patrick Deneen

See also Corporation are the Enemy and Communio, Economics, and the Anthropology of Liberalism. Maybe I’m conflating corporatism and capitalism, but neither is a friend of the traditional family.

On a related note, our current President thunders righteously for “separation of Church and state,” but attorney David French, writing in NRO, highlights what others have missed as they obsess over “is he really a Christian?”

Accepting love requires a form of justice that is inclusive of all people, particularly those who in some way have been marginalized by oppressive social practice. The mission of the Church is, therefore, to see that those who have been rejected are included, for justice as inclusion defines public policy. The result is a practical equivalence between the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and a particular form of social justice.

And this brings us — from a public-policy standpoint — to the most ironic aspect of President Obama’s declaration of faith, that he is “a big believer in the separation of church and state” and that he’s “very suspicious of religious certainty expressing itself in politics.”

President Obama’s church, at its core, is thoroughly and officially invested in politics. This is, of course, an accusation hurled at Evangelical conservatives all the time, mainly in an effort to silence them, to drive them from the public square. But when it comes to denominations such as the UCC, it is formal, doctrinal truth.

In 2007, Senator Obama spoke to the UCC’s Iowa conference, declaring, “My faith teaches me that I can sit in church and pray all I want, but I won’t be fulfilling God’s will unless I go out and do the Lord’s work.” And what is the “Lord’s work” to the UCC? Politics.

The UCC has a Web page called “Understanding the Issues” that provides church resources on dozens of contentious public-policy issues, from major national and international issues such as  “Immigration,” “Israel/Palestine,” “Pentagon Spending” (the church declares that the “federal budget is a moral document”), and “LGBT Justice” to more small-scale issues such as the “UCC Coffee Project.” In many cases, the policy positions are quite clear. The church calls on Israel to end the “occupation” of Palestinian territories, for example. In others, the church connects members to far-left social-justice resources.

Contrast this with the Web pages of major Evangelical denominations, such as the Southern Baptist Convention or the Presbyterian Church in America, which focus on man’s relationship to God while providing minimal to nonexistent commentary on public policy. Public policy for these denominations is largely a matter of individual conscience, applying the principles of faith, rather than an instrument for enacting formal church policy. To be sure, Baptist and Presbyterian denominational leaders advance pro-life policies (so does the Catholic Church), but the full breadth of public-policy positions embraced by the UCC makes it a virtual “ChurchPAC.” Yet it’s the religious Right, not the religious Left, that is consistently accused of improperly mixing faith and politics.

There is remarkable conformity, in fact, between President Obama’s words and policies and his church’s official positions on public policy — a level of conformity that would cause alarms to ring across the progressive spectrum if there were similar Evangelical church statements to which a conservative president adhered. With the exceptions of his apparent (temporary) lie regarding his opposition to same-sex marriage (which his church has supported since at least 2005) and the church’s  opposition to some of his military policies, the president has advanced UCC positions again and again.

(H/T, an anonymous conservative who dare not speak his persuasion openly.) Check out the UCC Issues page for yourself. Or the Unitarian Universalist equivalent.

This, by the way, answers my longstanding question:

Q: Why do folks like Unitarian Universalists and United Church of Christ members call themselves churches, having abandoned or never believed in much of anything most of us would recognize as religious belief?

A: Because politics is religion for them.

Now could you tell me again how the Religious Right imperils separation of Church and state?

4

We used to read about “the boy in the bubble” and feel sorry for him. He was trapped within a limited world free of exposure to even the “good” germs and bacteria that keep our immune systems adept, functional, and ready to withstand and beat back infection. Now we have become him. Though our bodies may wander freely, we keep our minds and spirits tethered to what is comfortable, unchallenging, and pristine, until our mental and spiritual immune systems become so weakened that a mere difference of opinion feels like an assault, and an encounter with an opportunistic bully can send us reeling to the canvas.

(Elizabeth Scalia, The Days of Bullying and Idols) I plead guilty. I don’t get out of the Unreliable Conservative ghetto as much as I used to.

5

Hillary’s handling of her e-mail accounts is not a small deal. But does it merit a Congressional investigation? Are the Congressional Republicans capable of a sense of proportion in anything? As with the Senate GOP’s letter to Iran, one has the sense that the Republicans have no interest in the art and craft of governing, and instead bully through everything for the sake of accruing more power. Neither Hillary nor President Obama are innocent victims of the Republicans. As a conservative voter, though, it is difficult to place any confidence in GOP leadership, because it seems that they’re more interested in tearing things up to advance their own power than caring for ailing institutions and the common good.

(Rod Dreher)

6

Sira Eirik flew into a rage, his eyes flashing with fury. “Do you think God cares so much about the way you sluts surrender and throw yourselves away that He would burn down a beautiful and honorable church for your sake? Rid yourself of your pride and do not cause your mother and Lavrans a sorrow from which they would scarcely recover. If you do not wear the crown with honor on your wedding day, it will be bad enough for you; but you and Erlend are in even greater need of this sacrament as you are joined together. Everyone has his sins to answer for; no doubt that is why this misfortune has been brought upon us all. Try to better your life, and help us to rebuild this church, both you and Erlend.”

(Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter, Kindle Edition at 5485.)

7

When the Supreme Court announced a “right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life”, some thought it was rejecting the very idea of natural law. Really it was asserting a degenerate theory of natural law, one widely held in the culture—or at least in those parts of it which our controllers choose to recognize, such as law schools, abortion facilities, and liberal seminaries. It was propounding a universal moral right not to recognize the universal moral laws on which all rights depend. Such liberty has infinite length but zero depth.

(J Budziszewski, in What We Can’t Not Know)

8

The only family is the traditional one. No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.

(Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana)

Let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a “move” of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.

(Pope Francis, as Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina in 2010, against a same-sex marriage Bill)

I just wanted to make it clear, by contrast, how moderate, and how temperately expressed, my views are.

* * * * *

“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.