Friday 12/9/16

  1. Word of mouth
  2. The Supreme Court oral argument that cost Democrats the presidency
  3. The Moral Matrix
  4. Nicholas of Myra: aggression, hate speech, dogwhistling, and exploitative tendencies
  5. Post-truth = Populist


First Things

1

Sola scriptura?

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

II Thess. 2:15, emphasis added.

Secondary Things

2

As Sean Trende of RealClear Politics noted, since 2012:

Democrats and liberals have: booed the inclusion of God in their platform at the 2012 convention (this is disputed, but it is the perception); endorsed a regulation that would allow transgendered students to use the bathroom and locker room corresponding to their identity; attempted to force small businesses to cover drugs they believe induce abortions; attempted to force nuns to provide contraceptive coverage; forced Brendan Eich to step down as chief executive officer of Mozilla due to his opposition to marriage equality; fined a small Christian bakery over $140,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding; vigorously opposed a law in Indiana that would provide protections against similar regulations – despite having overwhelmingly supported similar laws when they protected Native American religious rights – and then scoured the Indiana countryside trying to find a business that would be affected by the law before settling upon a small pizza place in the middle of nowhere and harassing the owners. In 2015, the United States solicitor general suggested that churches might lose their tax exempt status if they refused to perform same-sex marriages. In 2016, the Democratic nominee endorsed repealing the Hyde Amendment, thereby endorsing federal funding for elective abortions.

(David Bernstein) Churches losing their tax exempt status is inaccurate, but the gestalt of this litany is spot on.

Bernstein continues:

Megan McArdle of Bloomberg similarly pointed out, “Over the last few years, as [list of provocations], some Christians have begun to feel that their communities are under existential threat.”

Let’s focus on one of these incidents, the time the solicitor general of the United States acknowledged that religious institutions that oppose as a matter of internal policy same-sex marriage may lose their tax exemptions. At oral argument in the Obergefell same-sex marriage case, there was the following colloquy:

Justice Samuel Alito: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax­exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating.  So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same­ sex marriage?

Soliticitor General Verrilli: You know, I ­, I don’t  think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. ­ I don’t deny that.  I don’t deny that, Justice Alito.  It is ­­it is going to be an issue.

In short, many religious Christians of a traditionalist bent believed that liberals not only reduce their deeply held beliefs to bigotry, but want to run them out of their jobs, close down their stores and undermine their institutions. When I first posted about this on Facebook, I wrote that I hope liberals really enjoyed running Brendan Eich out of his job and closing down the Sweet Cakes bakery, because it cost them the Supreme Court. I’ll add now that I hope Verrilli enjoyed putting the fear of government into the God-fearing because it cost his party the election.

Had I held my nose and voted for Trump, religious freedom would have been the reason. President Obama has been the worst ever on religious freedom, but based on some of her provocative statements, Hillary bade to be even worse. Those (surprisingly few) of my religious acquaintances who announced that they would vote for Trump almost all put this front and center — not that he was a pious man, but he didn’t hate conservative Christians, and he had no constituency to thrill by oppressing us. And I’ve acknowledged my own sense of relief, on this very basis, the morning after the election surprise.

Bernstein’s title, The Supreme Court oral argument that cost Democrats the presidency, is hyperbole. Many voting blocs contributed to Trump’s victory, any number of which could claim to have been decisive. But I have no doubt that those with religious freedom concerns were one factor — maybe even the biggest one.

And on no issue was the loss more richly deserved in my opinion.

Will the Democrats stop offering up this fundamental, textual Constitutional freedom as a blood sacrifice to the jealous gods of diversity? Will corporate America, currently enthralled at the diversity cant and using economic power to bully states and localities, take up the slack?

3

I am certain that the reason our national media are so bad at interpreting conservatives and nationalists is because they live inside a tight bubble defined by their own sacred values, and cannot recognize that decent people might not hold them. As Haidt has repeatedly pointed out from his own research, conservatives understand liberals better than liberals understand conservatives. Dr. R.B.A. DiMuccio explains Haidt’s finding:

These foundations help us categorize people based on their most essential moral beliefs. Those who tend to see morality mostly through the prisms of Care/Harm and Fairness/Cheating are “liberal.” If your moral compass tends more toward Authority/Subversion and Sanctity/Degradation, you are “conservative.” Simple enough.

But Haidt’s second major discovery is far more consequential:  the concept of “the conservative advantage.” Based on painstaking cross-cultural social-psychological experimentation, Haidt establishes that the moral foundations of liberals and conservatives are not just different, they are dramatically unequal. The liberal moral matrix rests essentially entirely on the left-most foundations; the conservative moral foundation—though slanted to the right—rests upon all six.

This is a stunning finding with enormous implications. The first is that conservatives can relate to the moral thinking of liberals, but the converse is not true at all. Haidt, who is liberal himself, elegantly explains how and why conservatives will view liberals as merely misguided while liberals tend to view conservatives as incomprehensible, insane, immoral, etc.

Another implication is that liberal prescriptions tend to be incredibly single-minded as compared to those of conservatives. Haidt uses the metaphor of a bee hive to illustrate. A liberal [N.B. Haidt now identifies as a moderate — RD], finding a bee in the hive suffering from injustice, is motivated more or less exclusively by the desire to get justice for the bee. A conservative, being partially driven by the Care/Harm foundation, also desires to alleviate the injustice, but tries to find a solution that also contemplates the survival of the hive itself.

To restate the problem: because the moral matrix for liberals is all but entirely bounded by Care/Harm and Fairness/Cheating considerations, people whose moral foundations are more complex than that are seen by liberals to be immoral. In turn, the moral reasoning of conservatives appear to many liberals as exercises in rationalizing immorality. To admit that conservatives have a point is to compromise with evil.

(Rod Dreher) If you have not read Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind, what are you waiting for?

4

The Mere Orthodoxy blog (written by Protestants, but what can I say? I called myself “orthodox Christian” when I was a Protestant) explain why

all Christian leaders [should] denounce Nicholas and [] the Vatican [should] strip him of his status as a saint. Upon the briefest examination of Nicholas’ legacy, one finds a seemingly endless pit of aggression, hate speech, dogwhistling, and exploitative tendencies. For brevity’s sake, we will limit ourselves to six theses on why Nicholas is unfit to be held up as a saint in the church.

  1. Nicholas’ macroaggression silenced a theologically-marginalized group trying to gain a seat at the table …
  2. The canonization of Nicholas has normalized religious violence …
  3. St Nicholas’ charity was often conditional on conforming to cisheteronormative concepts of traditional sexuality and complementarian forms of marriage …
  4. Nicholas is associated with moralistic, legalistic methods of keeping “misbehaving” children in line …
  5. Nicholas’ methods depend on animal cruelty, fossil fuels, exploitive labor, and surveillance …
  6. Nicholas and his legacy undergird and legitimize an exploitative capitalistic economic system …

(The Real St. Nicholas. Reformatted)

Tertiary Things

5

“Post-truth politics” and “Populist politics” are pretty much synonyms. Populism is a rebellion against the Establishment. It is of the nature of public discourse that the Establishment certify what is objective and what is not objective. It’s impossible for a populist politics not to give the impression of being, in some respects, irrational. It just can’t be done.

(R.R. Reno in Episode 18 of the First Things podcast)

UPDATE: At the risk of sounding Schoolmarmish, read that again and remember it.

The podcast gives as specific examples social science that becomes “truth” as the Establishment sees it, even though something like two-thirds of social science defies replication.

* * * * *

“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.