Thursday, 4/14/16

  1. Vote from the heart or like a double-agent?
  2. What’s not to like about Pope Francis’ exhortation
  3. Progressive corporatism in America


May 3 will soon be upon the Hoosier State.

How do I vote? From the heart, or strategically? Kasich (because he’s the least terrifying of a miserable trio and best bodes to let the grownups pick the nominee in a brokered convention) or Cruz (the remaining alternative to the utterly unthinkable, but who seems to me like voting for HRC, so high are his negatives), because he might eke out an actual majority on the first Convention vote if everybody would do that?

Marlin Stutzman, the 2016 incarnation of Richard Mourdock, or Todd Young, a less reliable conservative who doesn’t scare the horses and children?

Yes, I may not be a Republican any more, but I’m even less a Democrat on the issues that matter most to me. I’d feel like a saboteur if I took a Democrat ballot to vote strategically there.


Rod Dreher reacts to Damon Linker reacting to the Pope’s apostolic exhortation. The whole thing is good, but here’s the part that seemed especially clarifying for me:

People say to me, “But the Catholics are becoming more like the Orthodox; why doesn’t this make you happy, as an Orthodox?” The answer is because I don’t believe in consequentialism. If the Catholics are becoming more like us for reasons that violate their self-understanding and weakens their overall strength and witness, then this is at best an ambiguous outcome.

More important, at least to me, is that the Pope is loosening a teaching that is rarely proclaimed in the first place.

(Emphasis added to the part that clarifies why I remain interested in Roman Catholic goings-on.)

“Rarely proclaimed in the first place”?! Isn’t the Catholic Church all about sexual repression and unrealistic standards that result in Catholics having babies they didn’t want?

To read major media, you’d think that was true until Pope Francis, but here’s more of Dreher’s personal story:

In my case, one big reason I was attracted to Catholicism myself had to do with its being a solid rock in a tumultuous sea of relativism. In particular, it was Rome’s teachings on the meaning of sex and marriage that appealed to me, precisely because I was convicted of the disorder in my own pre-conversion life. Rome offered a deep and comprehensive way to understand sex and sexuality, one that was uncompromising, Biblically sound, and because of that, merciful. Chastity was the hard teaching that I did not want to accept, but I had enough intellectual honesty back then to know that it was not an option, not for Christians who were serious about faith …

When I finally wanted God more than I wanted myself and my own will, I submitted. It was a miserable time, dying to myself in that way. There is nothing in our popular culture to support doing what I had undertaken; in fact, exactly the opposite. The thing I did not really understand until I became Catholic is that there is very little within the culture of ordinary American Catholicism to support it either.

Now, if that’s not been your experience, count yourself lucky. It was my experience in a number of parishes and places. For example, my bride-to-be and I were committed to being faithful Catholics and observing Natural Family Planning. She found a teacher in Austin, Texas, where she was finishing her degree, and I looked for one in the Archdiocese of Miami, where I was then living. I had trouble finding one, and when I finally did locate a teaching couple, they told me that they had been forbidden from teaching NFP in a number of area parishes. The parishes simply did not want to deal with presenting an unpopular teaching.

On two different occasions I got into an argument in the confessional with the priest on the other side of the screen over what’s a sin regarding sexual morality. In one case, the priest and I agreed to drop it, he said the absolution, and let me go. But it wasn’t even close to being an honest dispute. The priest flat-out rejected authoritative, binding Roman Catholic teaching. In the other case, a priest in the confessional at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC advised me to use contraception in my marriage. I challenged him, and he gave a sigh that said oh, one of those, absolved me, and sent me on my way.

Those are some brief examples, fairly outrageous ones, from an orthodox Catholic point of view. Mostly, Catholic priests and parishes don’t even talk about this at all. Their silence says everything. What it says to Catholics like I once was, both as a single man and as a married man, struggling with chastity (= rightly ordering the gift of sexuality): You’re on your own, pal. 

Speaking only for myself here, that was enough. I knew the Egypt that had once been my dwelling place, and I preferred the desert to returning there. Still, the desert was a dry and difficult land, a place to wander all alone.

(Emphasis in original)

Finally, a caution from Dreher which I share:

To be fair, I don’t know how this is handled in most US Orthodox churches. I have been in only a handful of parishes over the last 10 years, all of them primarily convert parishes. It may well be the case that most Orthodox parishes are just as negligent as RC ones.

I have at least slight reason to think that most Orthodox parishes are lax, but like Dreher, I’ve not been in one that was clearly so.


Put aside the hypocrisy of it for a moment (e.g., boycotting NC and MS while doing business in China and Cuba). Why is corporate American turning into progressive bullies? David French gives a persuasive answer:

The business world’s turn toward progressivism is the result of peer pressure, not market forces. It reflects the personal values and interests of the corporate world’s liberal elite, not the values and interests of the country as a whole. Apple, Disney, and PayPal fish from the same cultural and academic pond as the elite media and elite universities. When I was at Harvard Law School, my classmates were recruited not just by top law firms but also by top consulting firms and multinational corporations. Very few of them were conservative. Barely any of them were social conservatives.

Back when I still did commercial litigation, my larger corporate clients were almost uniformly left of center, and the few Republicans on staff were stereotypical “Wall Street” conservatives. They may have been fiscal hawks, but they positively loathed the religious Right. My small-business clients were far more mixed. Conservative communities tend to spawn conservative entrepreneurs.

Decades of stocking top corporations with talent from the “best” schools has now yielded a predictable result. Employees tend to retain not only the political values of their youth, but the activist mindset and philosophy of the modern progressive. That means an inconsistent (to put it charitably) view of free speech. It means public naming and shaming to enforce ideological conformity. It means living in a leftist cultural cocoon where Christian conservatives are largely viewed as malicious bigots.

I find this persuasive in part because I hear echoes of it every time a conservative political idea regarding sexuality pops up: “We need to attract the world’s best talent. If you pass this law all the cool kids will say Indiana’s ugly and its mom dresses it funny” — or something like that.

For such elite people, they’re surprisingly inarticulate. “Shut up, he explained.”

But French’s antidote is unsatisfying. We’re in for a long time in the desert, on our own, pals. But living alone in the desert can produce some amazing results if we’re diligent about it, as my Church remembers this evening.

* * * * *

“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.

About readerjohn

I am a retired lawyer and an Orthodox Christian, living in a collapsing civilization, the modern West. There are things I'll miss when it's gone. There are others I won't. That it is collapsing is partly due to calculated subversion, summarized by the moniker "deathworks." This blog is now dedicated to exposing and warring against those deathwork - without ceasing to spread a little light.
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