Wednesday, 6/3/15

  1. I’ll take the “something precious”
  2. I finally have a bucket list
  3. Bruce Jenner vs. feminism
  4. Shallow, but not entirely dry


I rebelled against the stifling and coercive religion into which I was born and bred. It was very frightening, and all pervasive. I’m glad it has gone. But when you remove spirituality, or the quest for it, from people’s lives, you remove something very precious. Ireland is more secular, but it went to their heads: a kind of hedonism. They’re free, yes, but questions come with freedom. What about conscience? Conscience is an essential thing.

(Edna O’Brien via William Doino, Jr.)


In 1994, shortly after my twenty-first birthday, I left for Mexico with the intent of serving for two months. I ended up staying three years. During my second year, while serving in Colombia (1995-1996), the initial idea for what would evolve into [Eighth Day Institute] was born.

During my initial two months in Mexico, I served in a Protestant church. Over the course of those two months, this Baptist church divided three times. As a result, church authority became a significant question in my mind.

(Erin Doom) Well, yes, I guess it would loom large. Three schisms in two months must be close to a world record.

I have never had a “bucket list,” but I  think I just created a one-item list: a visit to Eighth Day Books in Witchita.


I don’t intend to say much about Bruce Jenner. I certainly won’t describe him as brave, beautiful, historic or heroic – or as “her,” for that matter.

My inclination (note that I could have said “deep conviction” if that’s what I meant) is that he’s a sick man who has been egged on by the reality TV monster to mutilate his body for public spectacle. I know that’s offensive to some deep thinkers, but I found it telling eleven years ago that the teaching hospital that pioneered the Mutilation that Dare Not Speak Its Name stopped when the outcomes were poor emotionally for the patients. That decision is noted again contemporaneously:

We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into “sex-reassignment surgery”—launched a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as “satisfied” by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a “satisfied” but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

It now appears that our long-ago decision was a wise one. A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.

(Paul McHugh) Yet, for all the talk about “science” and “evidence-based medicine,” the U.S. government increasingly is paying for this spectacle under the rubric of “health.”

That the surgeries and other assaults on a healthy body continue is a testament to liberationist ideology (all the euphemistic claptrap you’ll see anywhere but here) and techno-triumphalism (“Hey, everybody! Look see at the amazing spectacle we’ve created out of this troubled human being!”)

Well, I said more than I intended to introduce this observation by Matt Walsh (in an item that hit all the right notes and many false ones):

[A]ccording to mainstream feminist wisdom, there is no such thing as a “female brain” or a “female soul” or “feeling like a female.” By the words of every liberal who has ever said anything on the subject of women’s rights in the past four decades, how you dress, look, think, and feel have nothing to do with your womanhood. Usually it would be offensive and sexist to accuse a woman of acting like, thinking like, or feeling like a woman.

Yet now, suddenly, emotions and looks define a woman so severely that a man can actually become one if he claims to experience feelings that he assumes are feminine?

The whole thing contradicts itself.Feminism and transgenderism say two opposing things about what it means to be a woman. In fact, feminists have come up with the term “neurosexism” to condemn the misogynistic and “pseudo-scientific” idea that male and females brains are different. But Bruce Jenner claims he has “the brain of a female,” so how does this work? Do you mean to tell me that the only people who can have female brains are males?

Meanwhile, feminists regularly insist that the absence of a uterus and a vagina excludes men from having an opinion about things like abortion. So a man can’t have ideas about women’s issues because he lacks the correct anatomy, but he can actually be a woman despite lacking the correct anatomy?

How does that make any kind of sense?

Transgenderism and feminism cannot coexist. Progressives can’t have both.

They’ll just have to choose

I wonder how the sophists will wriggle out of that one. They’ll probably call Walsh “transphobic” and leave it at that.


A few years after I became an Orthodox Christian, Matthew Gallatin published Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells. I wished it had been available a few years earlier, thinking it could have sped my journey.

But thinking back about the “land of shallow wells,” I’m grateful that the wells weren’t entirely dry. In fact, I was reminded recently that in my Christian boarding school (the very place I was first indoctrinated into all the Rapture crap), many of us had a pious ritual of signing yearbooks with a citation of a favorite Bible verse or two.

For instance, one of my classmates (who beat me out for Student Council President and has gone on to a prosperous and accomplished career) quoted “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7”

My favorite had become this, albeit in a folksy “Living Bible” paraphrase that’s not readily available today:

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17-19. That longing came from somewhere, and led eventually to Orthodoxy, where this passage is seen as the deep meaning of what Protestants used to call “sanctification,” although I don’t know that Protestants talk about that any more. I get the feeling that a lot of people are hanging around dry wells these days, and concluding that “water” is a figment of deluded imaginations.

* * * * *

“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.