Dark Clouds

Today, Christ is harrowing hell, so these stories are superficial impressions, not final verdicts on “who wins?”

  1. Picking orthodoxy out of a police lineup
  2. Our inarticulate “leaders”
  3. Reducing the value of life
  4. Multiple choice
  5. The Emperor’s still naked
  6. Paying the Conclusion


The board and administration seem solidly committed to preserving the historic, orthodox Christian faith, but there seems to be less of that among faculty. Many of the students, of course, couldn’t pick orthodoxy out of a lineup down at the police station.

(Rod Dreher, quoting a staff member at an Evangelical liberal arts college)


I drove a political stake in the ground a few days ago and now need to double-down.

“Professor Kingsfield” asked why Republicans are “abysmal at making a public case for why religious liberty is fundamental to American life.” I suggested that it’s because they don’t really believe it.

I’ve now watched Governor Mike Pence tap-dance around a deceptively-worded “yes or no question” from George Stephanopoulos (who was, by today’s journalistic standards, very well behaved and gave Pence repeated opportunity to answer the question).

Host George Stephanopoulos pointed out that Advance America, a key supporter of the law, wrote on its website: “Christian bakers, florists, and photographers, should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage!”

Stephanopoulos asked: “So, this is a yes or no question. Is Advance America right when they say a florist in Indiana can now refuse to serve a gay couple without fear of punishment.” (sic)

Note that the second paragraph spins the first pretty shamelessly; I’ve quoted from Truth Wins Out, a pro-gay site, because that really is all the anti-RFRA side and their media megaphones apparently had: a mouthy RFRA supporter (Advance America) sprouting exclamation points on its website.

Oh, yeah: plus politicians who didn’t really know what was in the Bill and couldn’t defend it worth a damn. The Stephanopoulos gotcha question could not be answered yes or no, but it could be answered and should have been answered. Instead, Pence delivered in his customary style (measured, calm and substantially vacuous) the few talking points he’d taken the trouble to memorize. That sure doesn’t help.

When our friends can do no better than that, I’m strongly inclined to think (a) they’re false and manipulative friends; or (b) they really consider this Bill a tangential side issue to placate a constituency; or (c) God has decided it’s time to destroy us/U.S. after our long hubristic run, and therefore has rendered our leaders bumbling idiots.

Take your pick or offer your own.

I do not want, however, to imply that Indiana “had it coming” because it dressed provocatively while walking in a tough neighborhood at night. Extending RFRA to Corporations was consistent with the Hobby Lobby interpretation of Federal RFRA, and if it extended to larger corporations, those are not likely to have a plausible claim to sincere religious convictions anyway. Extending it to disputes where government is not a party is likewise consistent with something like four U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal interpreting Federal RFRA – and I’m all on board with that because government is always involved as the maker of the legal rule the putatively religious party is charged with violating and is also the adjudicator of the controversy. There was no substantial difference between this and Federal RFRA as applied in many U.S. Circuits.

But the press and powerful corporate interests tried to turn a perfectly reasonable religious freedom Bill into an anti-gay pogrom by focusing on trifles (OMG! Eric Miller suggests that this licenses discrimination!) rather than what the Bill said and did (no rule of law – yes, and that includes anti-discrimination laws – automatically, in every circumstance, so outweighs religious liberty that religious liberty can’t even get a hearing).


It is not possible for us to reduce the value of life, including human life, to nothing only to suit our own convenience or our own perceived need. By making this reduction for ourselves, we make it for everybody and anybody, even for our enemies, even for the maniacs whose enemies are schoolchildren or spectators at a marathon.

(Wendell Berry via Jeffrey Bilbro)


There is a lot of

  • splendid and long overdue
  • odd
  • Orwellian
  • terrifying

stuff going on in the Western world to

  • put in their place
  • silence
  • set up for persecution
  • persecute

anyone who’s vaguely orthodox on Christian sexual morality. Beyond what Pat Buchanan now had tagged “the Battle of Indianapolis,” Rod Dreher gives some run-down here. For my money, the most remarkable, from among Rod’s choices, are:

  1. Emmanuel College, a Catholic school in Boston, boycotting Gordon College, an excellent (last I knew) Evangelical liberal arts college in nearby Wenham, for benignly implementing sexual standards that coincidentally are in perfect alignment with official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
  2. Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll returning to the days of witch trials by comparing (no, I’m not using that as a weasely indictment) Gordon College to the KKK.
  3. The Psychological Society of Ireland abusing the cult of “expertise” by portentously lobbing a pseudo-scientific jargon bomb that the anti-gay marriage camp could “impact detrimentally on people” – which atheist Brendan O’Neill sees as a sort of indictment for heresy harmful to the body politic.

I’ve warned for years of the conflict between the sexual revolution and religious freedom, but I am stunned at how fast and furiously the onslaught is coming. I abominate the sexual revolution and all its pomp, works and pride – without, however, wishing to criminalize adult consensual sex or have the government discriminate on that basis when it’s not a BFOQ. I’d just like to see fairly widespread ostracism of all those who shamelessly drop their pants or hoist their skirts at the sight of anyone sexually attractive.

Fat chance of that – until the pendulum swings so far that human nature finally recoils in horror of what it has allowed. Meantime, Christians of orthodox stripe may be headed for worse than ostracism and a religious ghetto.

Ironically, and hearteningly, the behavior of the barbarians in the Battle of Indianapolis may have stiffened some soft Roman Catholic spines in New Jersey, where a veteran teacher was going to be sacked after her intemperate remarks about the march of the gay part of the sexual revolution caught the attention of sexual terrorists looking for someone to behead.


Among our own experts, Sophism is all the rage, except that it is no longer called Sophism. These days it prefers longer names, like “postmodernism”, “epistemological relativism”, and “antifoundationalism”. They come to much the same thing. Postmodernism is “suspicion of metanarratives” Suspicion of metanarratives … means thinking that no one ever gets the Big Story right. But then postmodernists too have a Big Story: that no one ever gets it right.

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


A man is on trial in Iowa for having sex with his wife, from whom he was not estranged.

You read that right. The theory is that her dementia prevented valid consent and they weren’t “cohabiting” because she was in a nursing home.

The Iowa precedents on consent are sex with a developmentally delayed woman that defendant met casually and a health care worker’s sex with a traumatic brain injury patient. Neither were married couples.

I note the case because it touches on an intrinsic feature of marriage (married people engage in “the marital act”) and because, for my money, it shows that courts are prone to extend precedents mindlessly into what seems as reductio ad absurdum of everything being based on consent, nothing on status. “Who buys the premise must pay the conclusion.” (J. Budziszewski)

I don’t claim to have analyzed every nuance, but my visceral reaction is that the case should have been dismissed before trial, based on the couple still being “cohabiting as husband and wife” (since the dementia was the only reason for physical separation), letting the prosecutor appeal his dubious theory, rather than putting this man and his stepchildren through this ordeal.

To the credit of my profession, Katherine Pearson of the Elder Law Prof Blog calls the case sad and is following closely.

* * * * *

“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.