Friday Evening 11/4/16

  1. Dwelling in a material world
  2. 3 Churches per day for 28 years
  3. Conservatives on “why” they’re so voting
  4. Forfeiting prolife credibility
  5. The new media landscape
  6. Conservatives for Bernie
  7. Hacksaw Ridge and HHS


First Things

1

Unlike angels, who are entirely spiritual beings, God has made each of us as creatures dwelling in a material world. To be whole, we must worship God both in body and soul. This teaching is central to our Christian faith and is an affirmation of the sacramental nature of this material world. Because of this truth icons have played a central role in Christian history, for they proclaim Jesus Christ’s physical reality as God Incarnate.

Our Lord told his disciples that “he who has seen me, has seen the Father”. Icons depicting the Holy Virgin show the Christ Child with bare feet, reminding us that he walked the earth among us. He (the Logos) through Whom all that is was brought into existence, condescended to take on our flesh and walk among us. He joined His divinity to our humanity, that we might become gods.

The Lord Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and rose from the dead in this material world. He broke bread with disciples, ate fish with his friends, and invited His disciple Thomas to feel the wound in his side, after His holy resurrection. Most of the miracles Christ performed were in the nature of physical healing.

“I do not worship matter, but the Creator of matter, who for my sake became material and deigned to dwell in matter, who through matter effected my salvation…(Saint John of Damascus)”.

(Abbot Tryphon, Dwellers in the Material World)

Secondary Things

2

I’m not uncritical of Putin’s Russia. A lot that nation-state leaders do creeps me out, and our media effectively point out what Putin has done (while largely ignoring what USA leaders do).

But Russia has gone from 6,000 Orthodox churches late in the Communist era to 35,000 today: 1000 per year, 3 per day. That’s not nuthin’.

And Putin’s pitch to position Russia as the leader of the huge traditionalist population of the world is likely to win him friends that I wish were our friends. Instead, we’re making them client states flooded with our subversive/progressive NGOs.

Tertiary Things

3

The American Conservative Presidential Symposium assembles its writers’ opinions one who they’re voting for any why.

I really don’t care “who” (I even went back and eliminated all the “who” parts of answers, including the only one who’s voting as I did). Among the more interesting “why” answers:

  • Andrew J. Bacevich (“In a practical sense, [voting third-party is] a completely meaningless gesture, of course. But I choose to see it as the path of honor.”)
  • Rod Dreher (about what I expected except “if my support for the Iraq War taught me anything, it’s the danger of backing a politician to send a message to people I can’t stand”)
  • Bruce Fein (“Among all the candidates, only he has exhibited hints of understanding that the glory of the United States is liberty, not the global projection of force …”)
  • Philip Giraldi (his thoughts on Russia in particular)
  • Daniel Larison (“there is one party whose ticket most closely represents what I believe … [It] comes out of a tradition of Christian democratic and populist politics, and the party platform emphasizes a consistent pro-life ethic and a commitment to subsidiarity.”)
  • Daniel McCarthy (“Twenty-five years ago, America’s leaders made a catastrophic decision. As the USSR dissolved, they continued to pursue the creation of a world system—a global order of democratic liberalism policed by U.S. military power.”)
  • Gracy Olmstead (“If there were ever a year to vote third party, this seems to be it.”)
  • Gerald J. Russello (“What this election has shown more clearly perhaps than before is that we the people are choosing merely a master, not an elected magistrate; in fact, we are choosing only a functionary who will appoint our true masters, a “swing” justice or two on the Supreme Court; our real, permanent government of unelected bureaucrats abides.”)
  • Eve Tushnet (Every word is fascinating, particularly point 4, as befits Tushnet’s fascinating bio)

There is no paywall, so it’s a free “conservative” feast.

4

Politics is about power. It is about brinkmanship. For pro-lifers to succeed politically, they need to scare the Republican Party. And for the Republican Party to be scared, it must be threatened, and threatened credibly. If we still turn out for a candidate who is an open mockery of everything we stand for simply because we’re scared, it is the end of the pro-life movement as we know it.

I know what you’re thinking. “Yes but if Hillary gets in she will…” Maybe. Maybe not. But if pro-lifers don’t declare their independence from the GOP, if pro-lifers instead demonstrate that they’ll do literally anything for the GOP with nothing in return, simply because of a promise not worth the paper it’s printed on, the pro-life movement is over, at least as a force in partisan politics. Period. Dead. It will be an ex-movement. Kiss it goodbye.

But if pro-lifers stay home and show the GOP that, yes, actually, it does need them to win elections, then we’re talking. We’re talking about a movement whose influence will finally start matching its numbers and the righteousness of its cause. We’re talking about a movement that has a future, possibly even a bright one.

(Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, Why pro-lifers absolutely must not vote for Donald Trump)

So far as I can tell, Old-line Evangelical leaders and the political pro-life groups like National Right to Life are already dead by this criterion. I’ve tried to imagine NRLC’s quandary (having once been deeply-if-briefly involved with NRLC):

  1. On the one hand, their political endorsements were not supposed to be 100% single-issue. There was supposed to be at least a little leaven of “is this candidate credible?” I personally cannot think Trump is credible. He brings to mind Mary McCarthy’s assessment of Lillian Hellman: “every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.” On the pro-life issue in particular, his life as a libertine and sex profiteer — and remember: he has never asked God to forgive him anything — strongly biases him in favor of abortion, regardless of some pandering words to the contrary.
  2. On the other hand, how can you say that the nominee of a major party is not ipso facto “credible”?

NRLC has gone with “Trump is credible” and in so doing has made itself incredible in Gobry’s sense. This would have been a great year to say explicitly “We cannot make an endorsement in the Presidential race this year. Donald Trump is saying the correct things about abortion, but we conclude with heavy hearts that he is not credible.”

May their shepherdless flock do better on their own. Although the pro-life movement overall needs politics, it needs it less than it needs local action and cultural change.

5

The technology, media and telecom industry has had an unprecedented impact on this election. I think everyone—Democrat, Republican or independent—can agree that this year’s Republican nominee could never have gotten this far without the ascendancy of new media and the decline of the old.

Donald Trump bypassed the old media gatekeepers, the so-called “media elite,” and took his message straight to the electorate, using Twitter. Partisan websites and bloggers amplified his message. Mainstream television, under pressure from new media, gave the candidate abundant free airtime, because his behavior was good for ratings.

This election may be remembered as the first where the relentless march of technology, having transformed the media landscape, began to disrupt our political process …

For better or worse, technology has destroyed the business model of traditional journalism. The great new institutions of the 20th century, print newspapers, the evening broadcast news, the trusted anchorman, are fading relics. In their place we have unlimited information, unfiltered, all the time. In this year’s presidential campaign, we are witnessing what happens when longstanding public institutions are dismantled without a plan for what follows.

In the new media landscape, the wall between news and entertainment is crumbling. The value of news is measured by its popularity. The loudest voice gets the most listeners. A lie bears equal weight as a fact.

By giving everyone a voice, and every voice unlimited reach, we have opened our national dialogue to bullies, bigots and buffoons—on both sides of the aisle.

(Vernon Jordan, Both Old and New Media Are Failing Voters)

6

One thing I saw this year was that sincere conservatives wholly opposed to socialism had real respect for Bernie Sanders because they saw his sincerity. He wasn’t part of the [Clinton] web and they honored him for it.

Both parties have their webs. Maybe this year begins the process by which they will be burned away.

(Peggy Noonan, Democracy’s Majesty and 2016’s Indignity)

7

In cheering Hacksaw Ridge, the creative class has rediscovered (or inadvertently stumbled into) a longstanding American principle that once united the left and right sides of the ideological spectrum: To the greatest extent possible, the government should provide particularized and belief-specific conscience protections for religious persons who are willing to serve their country but unwilling to violate their faith.

This principle is most needed when the government disfavors a particular religious belief and therefore thinks it has legitimate reasons to force conscientious objectors to use the sword, the scalpel, or the syringe in violation of their religious beliefs. Although the film’s supporters may not realize it, the challenges posed by Hacksaw Ridge are not isolated to WWII-era America. We’re still dealing with them today—but now, the rights of religious believers are under attack.

(Matthew Kacsmaryk, Defending Conscience Rights at Hacksaw Ridge and in the HHS Cases) Kacsmaryk makes a strong, brief argument for conscience protection. Read it all.

* * * * *

“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.