Tuesday, 8/11/15

  1. Kent Brantley, Christian
  2. Their own damned fault
  3. Fox: How dare Trump focus on chicks’ looks?!
  4. Jon Stewart’s legacy
  5. Is David Benatar a real thing?

1

Lucky me. I stumbled onto something extraordinary Monday: an actual sober Christian on Television.

Dr. Kent Brantley is the American Missionary Doctor who a year ago got Ebola and was secretly airlifted to Emory University hospital, where he was successfully treated with an experimental medicine. He has written a book now with his wife, and was interviewed on PBS News Hour.

About 2/3 of the way in, the interviewer asked a nice question: “What role do you think your faith played in all this?” Dr. Brantley responded that it was a hard question because his faith is an integral part of him and he can’t really abstract it from the rest of his life. At that, I’m cheering him on, since that kind of religious integrity (integral, inseparable faith) is all too rare. He answered well, and I think it came from actual integrity, not rehearsed “sincerity.”

Then the followup question came and I dropped my jaw:

Some people are going to say, like, “The difference might not be his faith. It’s that he’s an American and he got literally the best care on the planet for this, versus all the people that don’t get that – not just in Liberia, but anywhere else.”

Yes, the interviewer, Hari Sreenivasan, apparently had expected Dr. Brantley to say that his faith had healed him, and was so unprepared for integral faith in Dr. Brantley’s previous answer that he couldn’t pivot. (The press really just doesn’t Get Religion, not even the best of the secular press – which NPR and PBS exemplify).

Once more, Dr. Brantley hit it out of the park:

I wouldn’t disagree with that statement. I don’t think there’s anything special about my faith that saved my life. If anything, my faith is what put me in a position where I got Ebola. And I’m really thankful to the United States government, to the government of Liberia, to Emory University Hospital, to Phoenix Air, to the State Department – all the people that played a role in providing me the care I received … I believe God used those people to save my life. Not because of my great faith. It just is. And so I give God the credit for it and I thank all those people. I love ’em.

I would call that an integral providentialism (to match his integral faith), where the ultimate cause and the proximate causes may differ, but all causes are due thanks. Still, I’ll bet he continues to thank God daily while e-mailing the hospital only occasionally. And he’d probably give thanks had he survived, disabled.

Dr. Brantley and his family are returning to medical missionary work, eager to leave the book tour world behind. And as I said to Mrs. Tipsy, to raise his children removed from the toxic North American culture, more fearful than Ebola.

Lord, if we find nine more, will you spare us?

2

Good point, Ross Douthat:

It is not the pro-life movement that’s forced Planned Parenthood to unite actual family planning and mass feticide under one institutional umbrella. It is not the Catholic Church or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the Southern Baptist Convention or the Republican Party that have bundled pap smears and pregnancy tests and HPV vaccines with the kind of grisly business being conducted on those videos. This is Planned Parenthood’s choice; it is liberalism’s choice; it is the respectable center-left of Dana Milbank and Ruth Marcus and Will Saletan that’s telling pro-life and pro-choice Americans alike that contraceptive access and fetal dismemberment are just a package deal, that if you want to fund an institution that makes contraception widely available then you just have to live with those “it’s another boy!” fetal corpses in said institution’s freezer, that’s just the price of women’s health care and contraceptive access, and who are you to complain about paying it, since after all the abortion arm of Planned Parenthood is actually pretty profitable and doesn’t need your tax dollars?

Ask us again whether there’s a “Pro-Life Case for Planned Parenthood” when Planned Parenthood extricates itself from feticide or when hell freezes over, whichever comes first.

Douthat has gotten many accolades and some flak for this passionate piece. One of his critics is Damon Linker, who Alan Jacobs has nailed perfectly: Damon Linker wants credit for his feelings about abortion without the burden of opposing it.

3

There was something amusing about Fox News, which is a daily Miss Universe pageant, chockablock with glossy beauties as anchors, reporters and even “experts,” giving The Donald a hard time about focusing on women’s looks.

(Maureen Dowd) When she’s right, she’s right.

4

5

Is David Benatar (‘We Are Creatures That Should Not Exist’: The Theory of Anti-Natalism) a sort of Scott Lively of the culture of death, or is he “real” (and influential)?

I think the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing. Walk hand in hand into extinction one last midnight. Brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal.

I appreciate that he eschews suicide and euthanasia, but this is still creepy, perverse, and radically secular.

* * * * *

“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.