Friday, 6/19/15

  1. Where are the iconoclasts?
  2. The externalities of IVF
  3. Tradition and flexibility
  4. Nowhere to hide
  5. Wrong side of history
  6. Greek culture


Rare wisdom from a Southern Baptist:

“God is not surprised by whatever is happening right now in the world around you, in your community, or in the world at large. And maybe God is interested right now not so much in getting America in line with the church, as God is interested in getting the church out of step with America.”

Will the SBC follow through by purging their sanctuaries of American flags?

Okay: they’re Baptists. They can’t decree and enforce that. So let me rephrase it: Is Russell Moore (the speaker quoted) a voice in the wilderness or is he speaking the heart of many Southern Baptists?

Where are the Southern Baptist iconoclasts, ready to strip away – perhaps publicly to burn – their characteristic idols?


A long-read from the New York Times highlights in great detail the vexing question, “What to do with embryos?” This is not the same as adoption. The children conceived in the laboratory are second-class, non-citizens from the very beginning: “Couples are generally glad to have the leftover embryos, backups in case a pregnancy does not result from the first tries.” Physically speaking, these very young children are no different than the rest of us, walking and talking former embryos. All they need is a nurturing environment and they will grow to be full, healthy human beings. But for now, they’re just “backups” and “leftovers.”

In any conversation about these decisions, the greatest compassion and mercy must be shown to those families who decide to conceive out of the natural act of procreation. But we owe it to them, the medical professionals, and the little humans themselves to point out what is demonstrable by scientific evidence and reason: embryonic human beings are human beings.

Those who have custody over them may have “wrenching” decisions, but the options they can choose are startling: “Most people grapple among these choices: using them to have more babies; thawing and disposing of them; donating them for research; or, like the Wattses, giving them to another family.” Imagine if this line were written about a child who was a mere nine months older than the embryonic children. I don’t think most people think that offering fellow human beings up for research or disposal are humane or legal options.

(Dominic Bouck, Leftover People) You could say that “leftover embryos” are the externalities of IVF, which is just one dubious assisted reproductive technology.


My use of the term “traditional”, therefore, is not meant to imply stasis or impassibility, but to indicate the general character of a religious culture which was rooted in a repertoire of inherited and shared beliefs and symbols, while remaining capable of enormous flexibility and variety.

In traditional societies social rituals are the underlying and living skeletons of the body corporate, not the fossils of life long since passed away.

(Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars) See also The Varieties of Russian Conservatism.


There’s no place, no situation, no human longing, that’s 100% safe.

I tend to be a bit of a loner, so I tend to overlook that attraction that simple “belonging” can exert on people. One example, I learned recently to my chagrin, is the belonging that can come with organizations the Gay Christian Network (GCN) and other “communities” organized around minority sexual orientations. It’s to our “normal” discredit that this “abnormality” so singularly can make people unwelcome in Christ’s Church, even if they’re not sexually active. (Unpacking “gay” or “GLBT” – whether or not they imply sexual activity or merely orientation – is beyond my present scope.)

So I look more favorably now on GCN, having had that little epiphany.

So “belonging” is good, right? No, not necessarily. The Wall Street Journal is reporting Thursday afternoon, and other press tend to confirm, that Dyllan Roof, the Charleston church shooter, was a loner who became involved with (found a sense of belonging in?) racist groups.

There’s no safe place to hide.


The phrase “the wrong side of history” is, of course, easily discreditable, as the intellectual exaltation and subsequent downfall of communism demonstrate. History is a relatively recent way of providing ourselves a narrative of the past, and this divinization of it—what Jonah Goldberg calls “Hallmark-card Hegelianism”—amounts, in effect, to the threat that “people won’t like you.” If you think same-sex marriage is an oxymoron and no-fault divorce should be reformed, then no New York cocktail parties for you.

(Ryan Shinkel)


It is in Greek parishes (at coffee hour) that I have heard the most ardent and vocal opposition to traitorous frauds like Limbaugh and Hannity; and rightly so because there is absolutely nothing conservative about traitorous neo-“con”-ism. I believe the Greeks do that to scare off any truly unconverted evangelical Protestants with all their nasty and moronic political baggage, and I commend them for it.


Well, that’s an interesting theory, and a lot of “nasty and moronic” convert politics have disappeared from my parish, where it’s not uncommon to spot an Obama bumper sticker on a care that came bearing some immigrant cradle Orthodox.

But another possibility is that Greeks have some fatal flaw that would drive them to do things like bankrupting Greece.

(Yes, I’m aware that “Greek Culture” was, and may still be, a sexual slang term. So sue me for being provocative.)

* * * * *

“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.