Wednesday 1/25/17

  1. Testing a theory: Day 1
  2. How to Vet a Judge
  3. Blind Leaders of the Blind
  4. News of the Weird
  5. The Left needs adversaries on the Left


1

The theory of the Dictatorship of the Trolletariat, which I discovered yesterday, held up really, really well as I listened to All Things Considered and read my three newspapers Tuesday and Wednesday.

Donald Trump insists he lost the popular vote because of illegal aliens voting. So what? He won the Presidency by the election rules, with 306 electoral votes.

But that doesn’t stop Mara Liasson from obsessing over it (starting at 1:18) and then earnestly examining the ramifications (starts at 2:30) of a false claim that makes zero difference to anything. I checked my calendar, and it’s too late for me not to vote for him for this quadrennium — again.

Meanwhile, Trump could have been looting Fort Knox, unnoticed. Great job, NPR!

2

The rest of my Tuesday reading felt like (a) things unlikely to be of general interest,  (b) chicken little stuff (I’m tired of it and tired of sharing it) or (c) stuff that needs some more digestion before I’d venture comment.

An exception: Justice Sotomayor’s advice for Senate judicial confirmations. Good stuff.

3

Another exception, albeit a depressing one: The Business of Evangelicalism: Notes on Timothy Gloege’s “Guaranteed Pure” at Mere Orthodoxy (which, be it remembered, is serious young evangelicalish types).

For my purposes, you can start at the section on DL Moody and the Emergence of Business Thinking in Evangelicalism, which chronicles the radical departure of Evangelicals from relatively ecclesial Protestantism, which then still persisted, to individualistic and unaccountable versions of putative Christianity. And the most pathetic thing is that the radicals with the business methods now are (and now with some justification) considered “conservative.”

Reading how this happened made me a little nauseous and very, very glad to have left Evangelicalism behind, not for something “liberal” religiously or politically, but for something authentic, historic and rooted. A frog in a pot on the stove does not notice the rising temperature, they say; I dare add the corollary that he’s unlikely to notice his pond getting fetid over the decades, either. Not without more reference points than a Bible that famously can be tortured into saying whatever the torturers want to hear.

That the “business of Evangelicalism” may have biased Evangelicals toward crooked businessman Trump is not of much concern to me because religion is not to be valued for its macro political effects. What does concern me is that these guys have turned the precious Christian faith into a racket and a political force, but are so rootless that they’ll adopt whatever the market is calling for and call it “Guaranteed Pure” and biblical. They were flirting with heresy on the Holy Trinity recently and are quickly falling to same same-sex “marriage.”

“Just you watch,” as Rod Dreher sometimes says. They are blind leaders of the blind.

4

While we’re on religious oddities, check out this and this (I have no idea what verse in the Book of Revelation Bonnie F. Kaite might have in mind or how she came to this bizarre interpretation — oh, wait!)

5

The New York Times is in suddenly in hot pursuit of the truth that First Amendment protections shudder and could crumble under the weight of a rotten culture. Of course, conservative Christians are a couple of years ahead of them on that, as the the rotten culture has strained the religion clause (some say “clauses”) of the Amendment (think “Indiana RFRA” and “Memories Pizza,” where the rotten culture was amplified and goaded on by the baying packs of journalists).

As if by magic, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry comes along a complements the little insight I had when I read the Times’ warning, positing that there’s something American liberals could really learn from French liberals:

The French left, by contrast to the American left, has intramural debates, and they are not just debates about means, but philosophical debates. On the American left, I can only think of one similar bomb thrower: Camille Paglia, and she’s distinguished by precisely how lonely she is in this role, and how little the vast mainstream progressive left listens to her.

Perhaps one reason why you don’t see this sort of debate within the American progressive left is simply that the American progressive left doesn’t care much about culture at all. As my colleague Damon Linker pointed out, there’s much more interest in the intellectual life on the right than on the left. In France, having at least a veneer of high culture is still mostly a requirement for entry into the battlefield of ideas. But too many on the American progressive left see philosophy and history as holding little interest since the only lesson of the past is that it must be transcended.

If you don’t think conservatives argue among themselves, read the first part of Gobry’s piece or go re-read item 3, above.

* * * * *

“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.