Wednesday 11/23/16

  1. Comfort for the logorrheic
  2. Is this your lucky day?
  3. The Truth about Post-Truth Politics
  4. Like “racist” from SPLC
  5. Another reason to love Mitch
  6. Applied Distributism

First Things


Do not judge too severely those who are eloquent in preaching but do not support this in practice, for the profit of a word has often compensated for the dearth of deeds. We do not all obtain everything in equal measure. With some, speech takes precedence over action, but with others the latter transcends the former.

(St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 26, ¶155.) Whew!

Secondary Things


It bears reiteration from time to time that the fundamental difference between Evangelical Protestants (perhaps all Protestants) and Orthodox Christians is that Orthodox Christians do not accept the Reformation principle of sola scriptura.

If you are not familiar with that term, please stop right now and follow the hyperlink; this is not something I made up, and if you are a Protestant of any sort, you need to know it — it is a fundamental part of your spiritual heritage. (I was astonished some years ago that a Protestant pastor’s wife, engaging me in friendly debate, did not have a clue what sola scriptura was.)

I say “it bears reiteration” if only because some day, some reader is going to be receptive to the possibility that sola scriptura is mistaken (so it was with me one day twenty years or so ago). Until then, anything I say in praise of Orthodoxy will sound like “my denomination is better than yours” instead of “your foundational principle is clearly mistaken” (so it was with me until one day twenty years or so ago).

If this is your lucky day — if you’re wondering why in heaven’s name sincere efforts to read the perspicacious Bible leads to thousands and thousands of competing versions of Christianity (and even of sexual morality) instead of unanimity, or wondering whether I Timothy 3:15 or II Thessalonians 2:15 might legitimately call into question the sola scriptura prooftext of II Timothy 3:16-17, or otherwise thinking that something is missing in your Church — then make haste to read the monograph that changed my life on my lucky day.

Tertiary Things


I am a bit puzzled by the horrified gasps of journalists at the rise of “post-truth” politics in the era of Donald Trump. Perhaps these guys skipped their lectures at college. For the past 30 or 40 years, post-truth philosophy has been the received Gospel in the humanities. “Truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with,” said the grand old man of American relativism, the philosopher Richard Rorty, a familiar contributor to the New York Times. He was only half-joking. There was no such thing as truth – only democratic consensus.

So after a generation of toxic philosophy, why is anyone surprised that we are on the brink of a generation of toxic politics? Hasn’t the media ever heard of the notion that ideas have consequences?

(MercatorNet, hyperlink added)

[T]he groundbreaking work on “post-truth” was performed by academics, with further contributions from an extensive roster of middle-class professionals. Left-leaning, self-confessed liberals, they sought freedom from state-sponsored truth; instead they built a new form of cognitive confinement – “post-truth”.

More than 30 years ago, academics started to discredit “truth” as one of the “grand narratives” which clever people could no longer bring themselves to believe in. Instead of “the truth”, which was to be rejected as naïve and/or repressive, a new intellectual orthodoxy permitted only “truths” – always plural, frequently personalised, inevitably relativised.

(Andrew Calcutt)


I can hardly express how delighted it makes me to have been branded an “arch-reactionary” by The Guardian … except for the fact that it’s like being called a racist by the Southern Poverty Law Center. If all it takes to be an arch-reactionary in the eyes of The Guardian is to be against penis-persons using the women’s bathroom, then the United States is so riddled with Yankee Doodle de Maistres that if Trump doesn’t work out, we’ll install the Bourbon monarchy. Anyway, I’ll happily take the compliment, but I must say that only a furriner who lives in the People’s Republic of Portlandia could mistake Your Working Boy for an arch-reactionary.

(Rod Dreher, Blind Leading the Blind, commenting on this preposterous guide to whatever-the-heck it’s a guide to, which isn’t what the headline says.)

Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center seems to be lionized by my profession, but whatever good he has done is outweighed in my mind by his boondoggle listings of hate groups, which sheds more heat than light. “Like being called a racist by the SPLC” is a pretty adroit dismissal.


Another reason to love Mitch Daniels:

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said the university administration will not issue a letter to the campus regarding the presidential election results.

“There’s not going to be a statement commenting on the election. I think it would be highly inappropriate,” he said at a University Senate meeting Monday, adding that he doesn’t want to set a precedent for responding to politics.

Daniels said Purdue’s nondiscrimination policy is clear and that if there is ever a breach in the policy, then the university will be quick to act.

His stance on the matter was in response to a faculty member, Laurel Weldon, who asked whether the university had plans to release a statement given the “challenges on campus” since Nov. 8.

A couple hundred students held a “Love Trumps Hate” rally last week to protest President-elect Donald Trump and spread support for minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, women, Muslims and other other affected groups on campus. A clash between students and members of Campus Ministry USA also occurred when the preachers came to campus on Nov. 10 to celebrate Trump’s win.

At the meeting, University Senate Chairman David Sanders noted that all other Big Ten schools have released a statement to their campuses regarding the country’s post-election climate, many of which were signed by their presidents ….

(Journal & Courier)

University Senate Chairman David Sanders is a Man of the Left. I formerly considered him a nemesis, but I think we’ve both mellowed, and … well, let’s just say I’ve seen widower Sanders walking across the Harrison Bridge with his sons on a particular day of the week, and I cannot wish this scrupulous dad anything but the best.

But I’m glad Mitch ignored him this time.


Unlike the socialists, the distributists were not advocating the redistribution of ‘wealth’ per se, though they believed that this would be one of the results of distributism. Instead, and the difference is crucial, they were advocating the redistribution of the means of production to as many people as possible. Belloc and the distributists drew the vital connection between the freedom of labour and its relationship with the other factors of production—i.e., land, capital, and the entrepreneurial spirit. The more that labour is divorced from the other factors of production the more it is enslaved to the will of powers beyond its control. In an ideal world every man would own the land on which, and the tools with which, he worked. In an ideal world he would control his own destiny by having control over the means to his livelihood. For Belloc, this was the most important economic freedom, the freedom beside which all other economic freedoms are relatively trivial. If a man has this freedom he will not so easily succumb to encroachments upon his other freedoms.

Belloc was, however, a realist. Indeed, if he erred at all it was on the side of pessimism. He would have agreed with T.S. Eliot’s axiomatic maxim in “The Hollow Men” that “between the potency and the existence falls the shadow.” We do not live in an ideal world and the ideal, in the absolute sense, is unattainable. Yet, as a Christian, Belloc believed that we are called to strive for perfection. We are called to imitate Christ, even if we cannot be perfect as Christ is perfect. And what is true of man in his relationship with God is true of man in his relationship with his neighbour, i.e. we are called to strive towards a better and more just society, even if it will never be perfect. Therefore, in practical terms, every policy or every practice that leads to a reuniting of man with the land and capital on which he depends for his sustenance is a step in the right direction. Every policy or practice that puts him more at the mercy of those who control the land and the capital on which he depends, and therefore who control his labour also, is a step in the wrong direction. Practical politics is about moving in the right direction, however slowly.

In practical terms, the following would all be distributist solutions to current problems: policies that establish a favourable climate for the establishment and subsequent thriving of small businesses; policies that discourage mergers, takeovers and monopolies; policies that allow for the break-up of monopolies or larger companies into smaller businesses; policies that encourage producers’ cooperatives; policies that privatize nationalized industries; policies that bring real political power closer to the family by decentralizing power from central government to local government, from big government to small government. All these are practical examples of applied distributism.

(Joseph Pearce)

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“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.

One thought on “Wednesday 11/23/16

  1. A belated comment on the bathroom issue:

    If the current idiocy continues, we should, I suggest, replace all the “Men” and “Women” signs at bathroom entrances with “Penis People” and “Vagina People” signs with graphics to match. And how long before someone brings an anti-discrimination suit because the “Men’s” bathrooms don’t have facilities for disposing of tampons and the like?

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