Friday 11/25/16

  1. Pro forma spiritual “care”
  2. No permanent failure
  3. Diversity and Inclusion cant
  4. The New Cargo Cult
  5. #HRC_Fail (for a change)
  6. Down a fundy rabbit hole
  7. Wyoming Catholic College

First Things


[H]ealing is more than physical. It is spiritual, moral, and mental restoration, too. In recent years, hospitals and clinics have acknowledged this, and although the selection of tools in the doctor’s bag hasn’t necessarily expanded in response, healthcare administrators have added mental health counselors, social workers, and chaplains to the healthcare team.

As with other aspects of medicine, chaplain training has become professionalized and standardized. Core competencies must be demonstrated and professional affiliations maintained. I have spoken with chaplains whose jobs were threatened because they acted too much like “priests” and not enough like “professional hospital chaplains.” I have also spoken with chaplains who feel that modern hospitals permit them to offer little more than a superficial, professionally packaged form of generic spiritual care—a far cry from the rigorous work that might lead to spiritual restoration. Mental health and social workers tell similar stories about how the structures of modern medicine limit the depth of work needed to bring about mental and moral healing ….

(Lydia Dugdale, Healing the Dying)


Edward Shils, the influential and quirky University of Chicago sociologist who flourished in the middle of the last century, once wrote, “There is no permanent solution to any important problem in human life.” It’s also true that there is no failure that makes an important problem in human life permanently insoluble. We’re always doing the best we can, and neither final success nor final defeat releases us from the travails of our fallen but not irredeemable world. We need to keep this in mind.

(R.R. Reno, While We’re At It in the December First Things magazine)

Secondary Things


In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Yale President Peter Salovey defends his university’s dual commitment to “the principles of inclusion and free expression.” The latter is a fairly clear concept. The former? He uses the word “inclusion” about a dozen times, affirming Yale’s pledge to be “an inclusive community.” This is an odd affirmation, given the fact that Yale prides itself on being selective. Last year, Yale accepted only 6.3 percent of its applicants. That doesn’t seem very “inclusive.” Those admitted are taken from that tiny group of high school students who are super high achieving, and most come from well-to-do families. The median family income for Yale students is well over $100,000. (The national median is slightly more than $50,000.)

There are times when I’m grateful for having read Herbert Marcuse, Max Horkheimer, and other Frankfurt School Marxists when I was a student under the tutelage of Cornel West. This is one of those moments. Inclusion has no precise meaning. Like its close cousin, diversity, it’s a handy, plastic term used by our ruling class to prop up its self-image as an open, egalitarian, and just meritocracy. Meanwhile, places like Yale become less and less living communities of learning. That’s because, when implemented as a policy, “inclusion” is a technique of social engineering, not a goal or end for a social group. The imperative of legitimating elite education in our present moment overrides clear thinking about what higher education seeks to accomplish: unity of purpose in pursuit of truth.

(R.R. Reno, While We’re At It in the December First Things magazine)


Jonathan Ratcliffe, an Australian graduate student studying Asian history but cultivating an interest in technology and politics, has this to say in a recent web article (“Voegelin Among the Machines”) about transhumanism and other millennial speculations that make Silicon Valley true believers so confident that they are ushering in a New Age of Man: “God is simply replaced by the cargo cult of the computer as ‘universal machine’ able to make simulated models of everything and solve all.”

(R.R. Reno, While We’re At It in the December First Things magazine)

Transhumanism as Cargo Cult. Now that is an interesting take. Are you listening, Ray Kurzweil?


It was only too predictable. In August, the New Atlantis published a 113-page report on the science of gender and sexual orientation, titled “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences” and authored by two Johns Hopkins professors, pyschiatrist Paul McHugh and biostatistician Lawrence Mayer. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest gay-rights organization, swung into action, demanding that Johns Hopkins distance itself from the “falsehoods” that “attack the entire LGBTQ community.” A petition was organized, stating that “McHugh is tarnishing Hopkins and causing significant harm to LGBT communities within Hopkins and beyond. McHugh’s actions are an embarrassment to those within Hopkins and who have trained there.” It goes on to issue a call to action: “This misguided, misinformed attack on LGBT communities under the protection of the Hopkins name must stop.” The petition then warns that, should Hopkins fail to disavow the report, the medical school will be punished by a lower rating in the HRC’s “Healthcare Equality Index.”

Johns Hopkins administrators responded with the usual “I hear your pain” concessions to the HRC’s faux anguish over the harms inflicted by a dry report on the current state of the science on matters of sexual orientation and gender—but they stopped short of disavowal.

(R.R. Reno, While We’re At It in the December First Things magazine)

Actually, the Human Rights Campaign’s attack was predictable. Johns Hopkins’ less-than-complete capitulation is unpredictable and heartening.


Christianity is not a religion. Religion is man trying to reach God. Christianity is God reaching down to man. If you add anything to the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are not Christian.

(Chris Mallory, a reader troll of Rod Dreher’s blog on the movie Arrival)

Let’s see if I’m understanding Mr. Mallory correctly:

A Christian is someone who has been saved solely by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ — plus, of course, believing correctly about the sufficiency of “the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Is that a fair characterization?

I call this “salvation by salvation by faith alone,” which is not a typo but is an oxymoron.



One of the selling points of Wyoming Catholic College, announced on a T-shirt I saw a student wearing: “The only school in America where you can’t have a cell phone but you can have a gun.”

(R.R. Reno, While We’re At It in the December First Things magazine)

* * * * *

“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.