Not all about RFRA. Really.

  1. Platform Ecumenism
  2. Objective RFRA case profile
  3. The dispensability of Universities
  4. Losing the Christian “language”
  5. Snakes, snails, blue sky
  6. I’m with Roy Moore, to my surprise

1

This then raises the ecumenical practical question: Why do evangelicals see agreement on soteriology, and not on the doctrine of God, as the necessary precondition for ecumenism? Many evangelicals reject dialogue with Roman Catholics because of the issues of authority and soteriology …

We can illustrate this problem by reflecting on the recent alternative ecumenism offered by leading evangelicals. It may not officially carry the label, but ecumenism by stadium platform and celebrity speaker line-up is ecumenism nonetheless. This is the kind of influential ecumenical evangelicalism … lives on today … at the various big evangelical conferences.

This stadium platform ecumenism is personality heavy and doctrine light. It has placed some very theologically inept people in positions of significant public influence based solely on their ability to pull a crowd. Not all of its senior leaders ultimately seemed particularly clear even on the nature and importance of the doctrine of the Trinity. It has offered incoherent and even contradictory messages on sanctification. It has created a whole slew of doctrines upon which we apparently must agree to differ and thus consider practically indifferent: supernatural gifts, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, polity. And by putting swagger on stage, it has promoted very problematic models of leadership. In such a context, evangelical anger over ECT might appear to be rather selective in its outrage, given what some of its outspoken critics are prepared to tolerate or ignore elsewhere. After all, can one really claim to agree on the Gospel of God without first agreeing on the God of the Gospel?

(Carl R. Trueman, A Tale of Two Ecumenisms in First Things)

2

A nice shortcut occurred to me on how to show that RFRA is not all about “licensing discrimination,” as lazy people in thralldom to some anonymous P.R. firm have been parroting: Google Howard Friedman’s Religion Clause blog for occurrences of “RFRA.”

That’s just my first page of hits. The only reference to RFRA in a discrimination context was the Satanic Temple’s “discrimination transparency” publicity stunt (which I guess I just helped to make successful).

Can someone tell me why Indiana Democrats aren’t extremists for proposing repeal of Indiana’s RFRA!

3

Better lucky than good? Roger Scruton suggests, among many, many other things, that going to university for tech know-how while looking elsewhere to become an actual educated human being may be a very sound idea – maybe even the ideal arrangement:

In short, the universities have evolved from socially exclusive clubs, for the study of precious futilities, to socially inclusive training centers, for the propagation of needed skills. And the culture that they impart is that not of a privileged elite but of an “inclusive culture” that anyone can acquire and enjoy …

The impression therefore arises that, outside the hard sciences, there is no received body of knowledge, and nothing to learn, save doctrinal attitudes. In The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom lamented the languid relativism that had infected the humanities—the belief, shared by students and teachers alike, that there are no universal values, and that we study merely out of curiosity the works that have come down to us. If we remain indifferent to the moral challenge with which they confront us, it is largely because we no longer believe that there is such a thing as a real moral challenge …

For the modern university tries to cater to students regardless of religion, sex, race, or cultural background, even regardless of ability. It is to a great extent a creation of the state and is fully signed up to the statist idea of what a society should be—namely, a society without distinction. It is therefore as dependent on the belief in equality as Cardinal Newman’s university was dependent on the belief in God …

When institutions are incurably corrupted, as the universities were corrupted under communism, we must begin again, even if the cost is as high as it was in Soviet-occupied Europe. For us the cost is not so high. The most precious gift of our civilization, and the one that was most under threat during the twentieth century, is the freedom to associate. Because this freedom still exists, and nowhere more than in America, the fact that we can no longer entrust our high culture to the universities matters less. The fate of Harvard and Yale is inevitably of general concern; but there are also places like St. John’s College in Annapolis, or Hillsdale College in Michigan, where people who believe in the old curriculum are prepared to teach it. There are private reading groups, online courses, associations of scholars, think tanks, and public-lecture series. There are institutions like the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which offers a rescue service for students beaten down by political correctness. There are journals like this one, which serve as a focal point for discussions that, after all, do not need a university in order to take place. It seems to me that we have allowed ourselves to be intimidated into the belief that, because universities have libraries, laboratories, learned professors, and substantial endowments, they are also indispensable repositories of knowledge. In the sciences this is true. But it is no longer true in the humanities.

That sounds about right, which suggests to me that auto-didacticism like mine isn’t too bad (I had an abundance of liberal arts credits, but I’ve learned more since then than while earning those credits), but small liberal arts colleges like Hillsdale, Wabash and St. John’s College are a priceless treasure, too.

4

We now find ourselves, though, in a post-Christian world, one in which the pressure to assimilate is causing tens of millions of people to lose the language — often without knowing that they’re losing it. You might say that “Christian” is [whatever] language that people who identify as Christians speak. But if that were true, wouldn’t it be the case that Chinese-Americans who speak not a single word of Mandarin Chinese, but rather English, could be said to be speaking “Chinese”? Clearly that’s absurd, but that is what it means to identify Christianity with whatever people say it is. If it is not firmly rooted in long-established standards, it will be a different language — or a different religion.

(Rod Dreher. Brackets added for clarification of what he’s saying, and I think the clarification is legitimate.)

5

What are corporations made of? Well, mostly not buildings and machines and property and such anymore. Most of their value comes from brands, patents, ideas and other intangibles.

(Justin Fox, BloomburgView. H/T The Browser) “Most of their value” is 80%, apparently. That makes me pretty darned nervous about market values’ durability, but then what do I know about smoke and mirrors?

6

Because of his history on official display of the 10 Commandments, Roy Moore more or less starts every trip to bat with 2 strikes against him, but he hits pretty solid anyway:

I do not endorse all of [Alabama Chief Justice Roy] Moore’s legal theories, nor his means of advancing his arguments. Chief Justice Moore has not asked for my advice, and I have not offered any to him. Yet he is not wrong about Judge Granade. She has acted contrary to her duty, contrary to facts, and contrary to reason. She has refused to exercise her judicial power—the power to decide cases that actually come before her—and she has unjustly claimed and abused non-judicial powers.

Adam J. MacLeod, in a wind-up to a very powerful critique of the Federal trial court judge’s outcome-oriented outrages. I’m looking forward to part 2.

* * * * *

“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.