Wednesday 12/14/16

  1. Sweet Mystery of Life in a clerical collar
  2. Just a bit more time to prepare
  3. Mistaken identity
  4. Espionage in the digital age
  5. No size fits all
  6. Bartertown Diner, RIP

Secondary Things

1

The Catholic bishops of eastern Canada have decided to give Last Rites (or whatever the preferred term is now) to people who intend to enlist a doctor’s help to commit suicide. Their Orwellian title is Atlantic Bishops Pastoral Letter on Medical Assisted Dying.

I saw it and was disturbed. Rod Dreher is white-hot, calling the document

a masterpiece of Francis-speak. The document can be summed up like this: “Yes, euthanasia is strictly forbidden by the Catholic Church, but we know that some people are going to choose it anyway, so we intend to offer them all the sacraments to help them along the way, because who are we to judge?”

That’s not Church as Mother; that’s Church as Mommie Dearest.

(Tenderness Leads to the Gas Chamber)

You can read excerpts from the bishops’ full statement in Dreher’s blog. But this caught my eye and echoed ominously in memory:

Pope Francis reminds us that the one who accompanies others must realize that each person’s situation before God and his/her life of grace are mysteries which no one can fully know from without. Consequently, we must not make judgements about people’s responsibility and culpability ….

What does it echo?

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

(Kennedy, J., in Planned Parenthood v. Casey‘s notorious “Mystery Passage.”

Indeed, it is not the role even of bishops to “judge.” But it is a responsibility of clergy, if I’m not mistaken, to guard the sacraments. And one of my prayer books says it is a sin to condone another’s sin.

We can hope for the salvation of people who make the very worst of choices. I’ve prayed for a friend who took his life within the past year. But you cannot repent of a sin you haven’t committed yet but fully intend to take. The mumbo-jumbo of the Canadian bishops, which will embolden willful suicides, is substantively indistinguishable from what a full-blown, frank euthanasia fan might say in mock thoughtfulness.

It’s not my Church, but I can’t not care. My bottom line is “These guys are supposed to be shepherds. Who replaced them with wolves?” Or in the words of a woman close to me, “They’re like over-indulgent mothers, saying ‘Whatever you want, dear, whatever you want,’ when someone needs to be the grownup.”

2

[Plough:] What effect does the election of Donald Trump have on Christians’ public witness? Does it change anything for the Benedict Option?

[Rod Dreher:] I was not a Trump voter, or a Clinton voter, and was prepared to be part of the loyal opposition no matter which candidate won. I still am. What does Trump’s election change for the Benedict Option? Only this: I believe it gives us a bit more time to prepare – and, if he puts justices on the Supreme Court who value religious liberty, it gives us a little more space in which to prepare. But the idea that electing a Republican president, especially one as unchristian as Donald Trump, will arrest a cultural process of desacralization that has been underway for centuries – that’s madness! I fear that Christians who were coming to appreciate the perilous position of the church in post-Christian America may conclude that we can all stand down now, that the danger has passed. That would be incredibly foolish. It’s not simply the Democratic Party that threatens authentic Christianity. It’s modernity. The best we can expect of politics is for it to open a space for the church to do its work of conversion and culture-building. The Trump presidency may – may – solve certain immediate problems for the church, but it will certainly create new ones. Again, I say to my fellow Christians: do not take false hope from the machination of princes. Prepare.

(Rod Dreher, BenOp Meets Bruderhof)

3

Tertiary Things

4

Now that the election is over, America is getting a little taste of the paranoia other nations know. And it isn’t pleasant …

The digital age lowers the cost of spying and dramatically lowers the cost of shaping news coverage for adept hackers. And because of that, America is experiencing the kind of information suspicion that it has induced in other nations, usually at great expense.

The American government supported information campaigns as part of the color revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine. Iraqis were probably surprised when U.S. media outlets informed them that figures like Ahmed Chalabi represented their national hopes during the Iraq War. If Russian hackers can, by the act of stealing data, shape the news in other countries, then the entirety of the Kremlin’s investment in its own English-language broadcaster is redundant.

But the greatest danger comes not from Russia but from ourselves. Nearly everyone in America has noticed that partisanship is so strong a passion within America’s political class that it seems to efface all other things that stand in its way. You see it in the way Republicans forgave Trump for indiscretions they would have killed Clinton over. Or Democrats doing the same for Clinton. Sometimes our partisanship effaces our respect even for the rule of law itself.

If Russia can insert itself into our partisan drama, causing Republicans to either cover up foreign intervention in our politics or Democrats to exaggerate it out of opportunism, we will be sailing into the same rough seas that overwhelm and sink smaller ships of state.

(Michael Brendan Dougherty, America’s Hacking Panic)

5

If obesity is many diseases, said Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of the obesity, metabolism and nutrition institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, there can be many paths to the same outcome. It makes as much sense to insist there is one way to prevent all types of obesity — get rid of sugary sodas, clear the stores of junk foods, shun carbohydrates, eat breakfast, get more sleep — as it does to say you can avoid lung cancer by staying out of the sun ….

(Gina Kolata, One Weight-Loss Approach Fits All? No, Not Even Close)

Adiaphora

6

You can’t make this stuff up:

A “Marxist” “collectivist” “worker-run” restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan, closed its doors this week after customers complained that they could no longer tolerate the bizarre hours, high prices and long lines.

The Garden Diner and Cafe—previously known as the Bartertown Diner—featured a vegan, vegetarian and raw food menu that had met with significant national acclaim. But the restaurant’s business model, which did not allow for bosses or managers, promised a “living wage” to all employees and a strong union, did not allow the restaurant to make enough profit to stay in business.

(H/T James Taranto)

Hmmmm. Grand Rapids. It’s probably Betsy DeVos‘ fault.

* * * * *

“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.