Wednesday, 7/27/16

  1. The worm turns
  2. Wrong guy for the job
  3. Springing the mechanical rabbits
  4. Tim LaHaye: Rest in, um, whatever Baptists rest in
  5. Deadly euphemisms, gauzy optics

1

In 2003, Touchstone magazine had a cover almost as incendiary as Time magazine’s famous “Is God Dead?” cover 50 years ago: Godless Party (I had forgotten that Rod Dreher was a key author.) Yes, the Godless Party was the Democrats.

Will ironies never cease? Talking about her faith, whatever it may be, may be a “root canal” Hillary cannot endure. She may need to delegate the explicitly religious piece to Tim Kaine. But the GOP, newly godless under Donald Trump, have left the door open for the Democrats to deliver a more or less subtle faith appeal to tens of millions of Christians for whom darkness, anger and woe are not the whole story.

Read former speechwriter Michael Gerson’s surprising insights.

2

Even if you could somehow swallow the ways in which Trump has made the pitch for American nationalism narrower, more exclusively white, and vastly more hostile to American minorities than necessary, there is the towering problem of Trump’s sheer boobishness and incompetence. If anything, the bar for performance should be raised for leaders who promise to upend a generation of political certainties. A bunch of time-servers and idiots can make a well-established, existing system work reasonably well. They have the incumbent interests, the rentier classes, and the people who make their livelihoods off the old system to keep them in check. But a man leading a revolution should be able to reassure us with his discipline, his gravity, and even his caution. Trump has none of these.

(Michael Brendan Dougherty, A new nationalism is rising. Don’t let Donald Trump destroy it)

3

The WikiLeaks dump came Friday night. By Sunday, Clinton’s crowd had unleashed the mechanical rabbit, and the press hounds were dutifully chasing it. The new party line: the Russians did it!

Undeniably, if the Russians or any foreign actors are interfering in U.S. presidential elections, we ought to know it, and stop it.

But who started all this?

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has used cyberwarfare to sabotage centrifuges in the Iranian nuclear plant in Natanz. We have backed “color-coded” revolutions in half a dozen countries from Serbia to Ukraine to Georgia—to dump rulers and regimes we do not like, all in the name of democracy.

Unsurprisingly, today, Russia, China, Egypt, and even Israel are shutting down or booting out NGOs associated with the United States, and hacking into websites of U.S. institutions.

We were the first “experts” to play this game. Now others know how to play it. We reap what we sow.

(Patrick J. Buchanan) See also Andrew Bacevich.

4

The Rev. Tim LaHaye, a leader of the Christian fundamentalist movement and co-author of the best-selling “Left Behind” series of apocalyptic novels prophesying mass slaughters and the end of the world, died on Monday in a San Diego area hospital …

In an age of seemingly endless natural and man-made disasters, the action-packed tales by Dr. LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins struck readers as all too realistic, even if they were based on biblical accounts of the Second Coming, the appearance of an Antichrist and multitudes leaving a calamitous dying world for heaven.

Some critics said that the books, with potboiler plots, characters in conflict and plenty of violence, elevated the sermonizing of old-fashioned Christian fiction into the realms of modern page-turning thrillers by John Grisham, Tom Clancy or Stephen King. Others called them tedious, fatuous, preposterous and exploitative.

And there were darker interpretations by critics who detected anti-Catholicism, anti-Semitism and other religious biases in Scriptural adaptations that focused on questions of death, resurrection, salvation and immortality from a strictly Christian fundamentalist point of view.

Dr. [Tim] LaHaye … was a harsh critic of Roman Catholicism, calling it a “false religion” and “pseudo-Christian,” and likened its rites to pagan rituals.

(NYT Obituary)

Oh, dear! A Bob Jones University-trained Baptist minister believed chiliasm and thought that non-fundamentalist versions of Christianity were false?! He had a particular antipathy to Roman Catholicism?! His fiction took a strictly fundamentalist tack, without equal time for modernism or other non-fundamentalist takes?!

Do tell! Is the Pope still Catholic, too? I can’t really expect a puff piece from the New York Times, and I’d complain if they did write one. But there’s a bit of touching crazed naïveté about what they did write.

Some awareness of Tim LaHaye was inescapable if one was, or had many family who were, Evangelical or fundamentalist chiliasts, as do I. His books sold like crazy.

Note that I did not say his books were crazy. I had my fill of chiliasm sometime in the late 1970s, filling my chiliast loose-leaf Scofield Reference Bible with page after page of typewritten refutations. That rejection led me out of Evangelicalism (or at least out the mainstream — the boundaries are very fuzzy). By 1995, I had zero interest in wasting time or money on prophecy porn, and never, to my memory, read a word of even one of them.

So you may assume, as I do, that novels based on what I consider this heresy, were crazy. But I’m not going to pass on other people’s adverse judgments, however plausible I find them, as gospel.

5

Of California’s partisan Democrat assisted suicide law, by a Doctor suing to block it:

The American Medical Association has spoken for all physicians by stating: “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”

The irony here is that the medical community has strongly objected to facilitating the death of felons on death row, but that same medical community is now expected to help kill the innocent.

One must ignore the false rhetoric, the clawing propaganda, used by the death-by-drugs advocates. Terms like “death with dignity” and “compassion in dying” are meant to obscure the fact that these death-march ideologues are targeting the doctor to become an instrument of death.

And why must it be the physician who facilitates self-murder? Why not make the agent of death a non-physician who is given special permission to order and administer a regimen of lethal drugs? No, the advocates want to exploit the respect and trust accorded to the “good doctor” so that drug-induced deaths are viewed as “compassionate.”

A comment to the column:

… Given the single payer provisions being proposed for Obamacare, combined with the pervasiveness of Medicare/Medicaid, the state is quickly (& inexorably) becoming the health insurer of record for us all (particularly the elderly & disabled). As such, they’re no longer a disinterested party in the costs associated with “end of life” care, and the fiduciary (sic) allure of euthanasia.

* * * * *

“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.