Tuesday, 11/17/15

  1. Thoughts on Paris
  2. More thoughts on Paris
  3. Insurance that is scandalously insurance-like
  4. Gut-check on just how bad it is
  5. Men have forgotten God


For the record, I do care about what happened in Paris. I’m even inclined to think that when terrorism like this comes from ISIS (which relies on possession of territory to buttress the claim that it is re-establishing the Caliphate) that there is a tangible target — territory held by ISIS — that needs to be recaptured. Note the use of the passive voice, however.

Calls for the United States to do stuff like nuking “Islam” because “these people want us dead” are incoherent — and that’s one of nicest things I can say about them.


I didn’t intend to dwell on Paris, but a blog to which I subscribe came out swinging rhetorically:

Let us have none of the slinking cant which suggests that this perfidy does not arise out of the authentic doctrines of the Islamic religion. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” The rottenness of this particular fruit exceeds the most capacious power of verbal description.

It doesn’t cool down after that.

I will technically observe their prohibition of “slinking cant” by limiting my response to the proposition that neither I or they know what are the authentic doctrines of Islam, vehement denunciations notwithstanding.

Once again (I think I’ve made similar points before):

  • There are different sects in Islam, and no authority to adjudicate authoritatively among them.
  • Imams are pretty much free agents — like megachurch pastors, answerable to nobody.
  • Murder and terrorism are not found in the five pillars of Islam (which are shared by all Muslims, it appears).
  • Islamism is not universal within Islam. Check the #NotInMyName hashtag.
  • It is always perilous — not just factually, but morally — to claim having found the authentic core of a religion one has never professed. (I know because I have born false witness against other Christian traditions based on secondary sources from within my own tradition.)
  • The Decalogue’s commandment against false witness (if memory serves, gossip and reckless “venting” fall under that commandment) has no exceptions for when you’re really, really upset and scared and feel as if hurting somebody — anybody — would be cathartic.

As an Orthodox Christian, I believe Islam is a false religion, and I identify with a Christian Tradition that has suffered not only dhimmitude, but contempt by jackass American politicians. I stand by the proposition that the perpetrators of the Parisian massacres need someone to lay a can of WhupAss on them.

But a blanket indictment of Islam for the sins of Islamists strikes me as the rhetorical equivalent of responding to American racial violence by going into alien (black or white) neighborhoods and opening fire randomly.


Moving from a system where employers essentially pre-paid all health costs as a fringe benefit to a system where you buy your own insurance against medical contingencies and perils is producing some culture shock.

Some basics:

  • Insurance: coverage by contract whereby one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee another against loss by a specified contingency or peril.
  • Contingency: something (such as an emergency) that might happen.
  • Peril: the possibility that you will be hurt or killed or that something unpleasant or bad will happen.

Many Say High Deductibles Make Their Health Law Insurance All but Useless? No, high deductibles make your insurance — well, actual “insurance” instead of a source for paying predictable doctor visits for prevention or treatment of minor ailments. Take your premium savings, set them aside, and use them when you have a medical problem (we all do, from time to time) or need preventive care.


Rod Dreher highlights the increasingly anti-Christian posture of the Democratic party.

I know that thought will be greeted with scorn by some because Barack Obama belongs to a putatively Christian denomination and so does Hillary Clinton. But membership in some Christianish church has long been the default position for anyone who wants to get ahead politically in America. I suspect that’s ending, but in any event, the Wall of Separation mantra sometimes so clouds thought as to make even personally sincere Christians politically anti-Christian.

Dreher’s conclusion (emphasis in original), though, is not one I find it easy to swallow:

Because of the mounting threats to religious liberty from the Democratic Party at the national level, and their insensitivity to Christian concerns (such as ISIS-led genocide), it’s much harder to justify sitting out the 2016 race. Conservative Christian turnout in 2016 is going to be massive.

He may be vindicated in that prediction, but I’m not sure I’ll be numbered in that Conservative Christian turnout, or that my vote won’t be cast for some implausible third-party candidate if I am. The GOP field is truly that bad.


Something hit me Monday night: a proof that we’ve forgotten God.

When calamity befalls us now, we don’t ask ourselves if our sin brought it (or earned it). That’s called “blaming the victim.” The President doesn’t call for a day of prayer or even a second of prayer.

We don’t pray. We don’t repent.

Instead, we ask who we should kill and how we should kill them.


On the brighter side, a chorus I sing in coincidentally/providentially has a peace-themed concert season, and my Bishop has sent out an encyclical to pray for peace during the Nativity Lent (think “Advent”). +Bp. Gregory even gave me a nice prayer to use (hint, hint), which I find helpful as I’ve not yet fully recovered from my aversion to extemporaneous wool-gathering in the name of prayer.

* * * * *

“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.