Saturday, 7/2/16

  1. The Puritan Error
  2. Lighter than air, but colorful
  3. Hard sayings
  4. 1 pic, 1000 words
  5. Abe the Myth
  6. Sexual Revolution as (Gnostic?) Religion
  7. EU, Brexit and the prospect of War

1

This item isn’t so much an “I told you so” as what one friend habitually calls a “datapoint” on the federal First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), beloved of Ryan T. Anderson and others:

A federal judge blocked — less than an hour before it was to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday — a Mississippi law that would have given a wide range of special protections only to those who oppose same-sex marriage.

[B]y setting aside particular beliefs for protection as opposed to religions conviction in general, the law unconstitutionally “put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others.” He concluded by issuing a preliminary injunction against the law from taking effect.

The measure, which was scheduled to go into effect on Friday, is not a version of a traditional religious freedom act, which gives legal backing to those who argue that a given law infringes on their beliefs. Mississippi already has such a law on the books. Instead, it would create an array of protections specifically for those who believe that marriage is only for opposite-sex couples, that sexual relations are reserved for marriage and that gender identity is determined immutably by anatomy at birth.

(Emphasis added)

This buttresses my objection to that FADA, probably unconstitutionally, protects from government discrimination only a person who

believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.

This block quote represents exactly what I believe and what the Church has taught (or in the case of #1, tacitly assumed along with all of humankind) for 2,000 years. And people who believe as I do are those who are threatened by the Obergefell same-sex “marriage” decision as the Law of Merited Impossibility plays out.

I get that. But I don’t think government can single out for protection just one viewpoint on a contested subject, however perverse may be one side of the contest and however novel any of its religious or philosophical fundaments may be. Now a Federal Judge says the same. It’s kind of an instance of what Douglas Laycock calls “the Puritan error:” freedom for me but not for Thee.

It upsets me that people who I consider sane and reliable otherwise — even courageous defenders of sanity — are not only behind FADA, but completely insouciant about my objection. What gives?

2

I put no more stock in the political opinions of an aging fiction writer, poetry aficionado and radio personality than I put in a Hollywood starlet testifying before star-struck Congressmen. But I’ll hand it to Garrison Keillor for expressing his helium-weight opinion colorfully. The opener:

It’s enlightening to see that Brits can be just as dense as anyone else, especially for us old Anglophiles who venerate the dropped R, the broad A, the lift, the loo, the brolly, the banger and that ridiculous game in which the pitcher throws a bad pitch and the batter swings a shovel at it and runs the wrong way. Because the Brits produced Shakespeare and Sir Winston and “Pomp and Circumstance” and “I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,” we assumed they would do the right thing and then they go and cut off their nose to spite their face and vote to pull out of the European Union, a real shot in the foot. It’s like watching the bishop drop the baby in the baptismal font.

[Y]ou can’t vote Britain out of Europe any more than you can vote Minnesota into Tuscany. Britain is part of Europe. Twenty miles from Dover to Calais. Old fat men run farther than that in marathons ….

3

Rod Dreher’s Louisiana Mission Parish is losing its priest and cannot afford another. As Rod says, “Over the last three and a half years, we have lost some people — original members and converts — to attrition. Orthodoxy is not an easy way of life.”

What’s harder still is the life of a good Priest:

When Father Matthew arrived in this subtropical sauna from the Pacific Northwest, we tried to school him in Southern manners. He told us firmly, “I’m not here to be your friend. I’m here to be your priest.” Which was a little bit shocking to us, but it turned out that he was right to say that. Were I a priest, I could not have said the hard things he said to me many times in confession — things I needed to hear, and things it would have been hard for a chummier priest to say. I love priests, and make friends easily with them. Not Father Matthew. It wasn’t that he was unfriendly, not at all. But he took his role as spiritual father very seriously, which made him immune to the usual hail-fellow-well-met ways of us Southerners.

… When I was so sick, and struggling to make sense of the terrible emotional tangle of my family’s life, and the pain and confusion between my dad and me, Father Matthew cut straight through all the rationalizations that kept me from seeing myself as I really was. As I’ve said, Dante was the leader, but I could not have been set free were it not for the help of my therapist Mike Holmes, and Father Matthew. It was he who gave me the epic prayer rule that got me out of the prison inside my head. It was he who refused to let me feel sorry for myself.

He did not comfort; he led. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

With little human intimacy beyond family, brother Priests, and perhaps a few people who aren’t penitents or parishioners generally, that’s got to be lonely.

“Saying hard things” can be the deepest and most sacrificial expression of love, but today people just assume it’s spite and hate.

4

I now abruptly turn from the eccentric to the unspeakable.

It’s remarkable how every change in the military desired by the insatiable sexual revolution is not some kind of regrettable legal and moral necessity, but actually will strengthen the military. (Is this a great cosmos or what?!)

It seems that a primary requirement for a Secretary of Defense these days is to tell that story with a straight face. (Why can’t I get this song out of my head?)

As a fastidious respecter of copyright law, I dasn’t tell you what I think about that theory directly. Instead, just look at the Shutterstock image on this Rod Dreher blog. (Imagine it illustrating this item.)

We will in due course, I predict, discover that our military forces are in the throes of shockingly retrograde transphobia, evidenced by wedgies or worse inflicted on sexual minorities in uniform, and are in need of a complete purging of such forms of Christianity and Judaism as believe that “male and female created He them.”

5

But wait! The unspeakable hasn’t hit its nadir yet. Let’s try this:

We should remember that the ma­ture Abraham Lincoln was a man who had abolished his past. He cut his ties with family, kept always from his father’s house, and re­fused with nauseating unction to go there when summoned at the time of Thomas Lincoln’s death. Very early, he set out to join another tribe. And, as he moved forward, there were many of his friends who noticed that he some­times “forgot the devotion of his warmest parti­sans as soon as the occasion for their services had passed.” … The great common de­nominator in his pre-presidential career was simple ambition, the little “engine” which knew no rest. By it, he was propelled to act upon a larger and larger stage, and not by the Chris­tian rectitude which requires us to be good stewards of our given abilities or to answer a special “call.” For it was not to serve God that this Abraham put the Lincolns out of his way, sought office, moved to Springfield, and set out to practice law.

There is God’s plenty of evidence to assist us in developing an image of Lincoln as backcountry philosophe, as “secularist intel­lectual” and “rational, progressivist super­man” of the variety described in Professor Voegelin’s The New Science of Politics.

For his last words as healer, prophet, and “founder” of the new regime are that, if it be faithful to Reason, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This language is, of course, from the promise made by Christ to the Church.

(M.E. Bradford, The Myth of Abraham Lincoln, Part I)

6

Mary Eberstadt and Sherif Girgis have written parallel articles, The First Church of Secularism and Its Sexual Sacraments and Obergefell and the New Gnosticism, respectively. Rod Dreher comments and predicts that the crypto-religious devotion of the sexual revolutionaries bodes ill for traditionalists:

We are living by two different religions. But progressives, who are the new American mainstream on LGBT issues, don’t understand their view of what a human being is as essentially religious. They think it’s simply normal. But it is a religion: the New Gnosticism.

That’s why they will not stop until orthodox Christians are all thoroughly subjugated and dhimmified. The Sexual Revolution was more profound than the Reformation in its social and political effects, as we are now seeing. How well did life work out for Catholics in Protestant states in the Reformation era, and vice versa? This is why Christians can be as “winsome” as they like, but it won’t make one bit of difference. This is a religious war, and they are always the ugliest kind.

If this subject is of interest, you really need to read both Eberstadt and Girgis; otherwise, you’re just collecting talking points. I just seriously read Eberstadt (I read Girgis immediately when it came out because I follow First Things but not National Review) and am not yet prepared to comment further — not even to say “this is really promising analysis” or “this is too cute by half.” I’ll only say that in general, secular-minded folks who think their position is neutral are almost always delusional.

7

Not having formed any firm opinion of my own, but being sympathetic to Brexit on grounds of subsidiarity and “small is beautiful,” I’ve been floating other people’s thoughts in alignment with my tendency.

I’ve been getting more feedback than I usually get. My impression is entirely anecdotal, but a central concern of these American responders was the effect of the EU in lessening the odds of yet another damned war.

That seems fair enough. But when do other oppressions and indignities mount up high enough to outweigh it?

* * * * *

“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.