Ascension Day 2015

  1. The 13-year-old atheist
  2. Priorities
  3. Pat fires back
  4. Noah pushes Rod for specifics
  5. David French’s Four Truths


Yes, I said “Ascension Day.” Different liturgical calendar than most of American Christianity.

1

The God this boy was rejecting was the very false image of God that I have long rejected. The God I have come to know personally is not the same god I rejected in my youth. The God revealed in Jesus Christ is the One Whom I’ve personally experienced and Who first sought me out.

(Abbot Tryphon)

It bears mentioning from time-to-time that there’s a lot of bad religion out there, and in the U.S. most of it calls itself “Christian.” If you’ve rejected an angry, vindictive, petulant, narcissistic God, that may be an important step to finding the true one.

2

3

Pat Buchanan isn’t my favorite writer at the American Conservative, but he’s been right about some key issues, and the GOP has apparently not forgiven him for it. Instead, it blames him and his wing for losing America. Pat fires back:

In the 1990s, this writer and allies in both parties fought NAFTA, GATT, and MFN for China. The Journal and GOP establishment ran with Bill and Hillary and globalization. And the fruits of their victory?

Between 2000 and 2010, 55,000 U.S. factories closed and 5 million to 6 million manufacturing jobs disappeared. Columnist Terry Jeffrey writes that, since 1979, the year of maximum U.S. manufacturing employment, “The number of jobs in manufacturing has declined by 7,231,000 — or 37 percent.”

Does the Journal regard this gutting of the greatest industrial base the world had ever seen, which gave America an independence no republic had ever known, an acceptable price of its New World Order?

The foreign debt and de-industrialization of America, the trillion-dollar wars and the chaos of the Middle East, the shortened life span of the Party of Reagan, that’s your doing, fellas, not ours.

(Who Really Lost America?)

4

I said Rod Dreher broke some new ground on the Benedict Option. Friendly critic Noah Millman doesn’t think he’s broken enough:

Part of the reason, I suspect, is that the concept is being pitched non-denominationally. Dreher is a big-O Orthodox Christian, but he’s writing to an audience that is mostly not – mostly, I suspect, Catholic and to some extent Protestant. But I still think there’s lots of room to be more concrete about what kinds of things he might be advocating.

Let me give a few examples of the sorts of things I might expect a Benedict Option Christian to do, or not to do, that I would not necessarily expect of someone of similar conservative religious views and orthodox beliefs who had not embraced this view.

Among his examples are this one, which I find endearing:

Refuse to say the pledge of allegiance to the flag. The pledge of allegiance is an oath – of fealty – to an emblem of a secular state and nation – asserting that nation to be under divine auspices and to be indivisible. The Benedict Option, if it means anything, seems to me to command rejection of every part of that: to refuse to swear fealty to any secular entity, and to refuse to sacralize the United States of America, or proclaim its indivisibility. Refusing to swear allegiance does not mean refusing to be good citizens, refusing to vote or to fight or in any way to withdraw from participation in the life of the community. It’s just that: refusing to swear allegiance. It’s a formal declaration of what it seems to me the Benedict Option is all about, in terms of what it recognizes about the nature of the United States of America and about the primacy of the allegiance to the Christian God. Formalities like these are precisely the kind of thing I’d expect someone serious about the Benedict Option to care about, deeply.

Millman’s reader Charlieford has some choice remarks, including:

In the end, the BO will fail because its (sic) asking Americans to choose to become “weird.” Weird people aren’t popular (outside of their cliques in high school) and above all, Americans–even religious ones, and especially evangelicals–want to be popular.

I think Charlieford misses the point (though I appreciate his dark view of things): the Benedict Option will not “fail” just because it won’t rapidly become the new mainstream. There’s no expectation that it will be mainstream.

And the conversation no doubt continues.

5

A friend, whose conservatism-by-disposition seems somewhat different than mine, sent me a link to a David French talk at Hillsdale College. French states his theses:

Four truths are emerging: First, the battle is not between gay rights and religious liberty—although religious liberty is certainly at stake—but between the sexual revolution and Christianity itself. This means that Christians are faced not with allegedly “minor” or “insignificant” theological changes to gain leftist acceptance, but with wholesale changes to the historical doctrines of the church.

Second, not a single orthodox denomination is making or even contemplating such changes. This means that tens of millions of Americans will remain—indefinitely—opposed to the continued expansion of the sexual revolution.

Third, rather than going quietly, cultural conservatism is showing increasing strength at the grassroots—opposing leftist campaigns at the ground level, bypassing politics to support those most embattled by radical hate campaigns.

And fourth, the conservative grassroots and conservative public intellectuals are united—from Ross Douthat at his lonely perch at the New York Times to the pages of National Review and the Weekly Standard, from First Things to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, there is no wavering among America’s most influential conservative writers and thinkers.

In short, if the cultural Left is hoping to dominate the culture—and feels strong in its coastal bastions—it is overreaching, extending beyond the limits of its power. It is exposing itself to embarrassing cultural defeats and succeeding mainly in hardening conservative resolve. In the fight over religious freedom, the Left will not prevail.

He goes on to elaborate, but those theses are remarkably good distillations, and David French is neither a dummy nor a rookie in religious liberty fights. His disposition is one that seems to revel in battle; mine abhors it and wishes it would go away.

War always brings casualties, and a lot of people have too much at stake to risk taking a hit. And if all they can do to advance the beliefs they keep veiled is to vote for the sundry fools and rogues populating today’s GOP, I remain less sanguine than French.

Moreover, there’s a (big?) problem lurking is French’s second “truth”: much of putative Christianity is non-denominational, and tends to be subject to the personal whims, secret sexual pecadillos and market-based pandering of their pastors. Such, notably, are the megachurches that populate the field of vision culturally. How long will the orthodox remain orthodox if the culture seems heterodox?

* * * * *

“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.