Catechizing truth & falsehood

  1. Catechizing truth and falsehood
  2. Kuyper disqualified for the Kuyper Award
  3. Korematsu and the “no peeking” view
  4. Why the Democrats lost to Trump
  5. Can’t have it both ways
  6. Presidential Caliber
  7. Coincidence? I think not!

1

Practices can be catechetical. I wonder if a distinction Prof. Guhin is missing is that Christianity is supposed to bring about gradual inner change in a person’s life. All of mortal life is a time of pilgrimage, in which, if we are faithful, we are moving ever closer to the ideal of Jesus Christ, conforming our life to his. It’s not a question of earning salvation, not at all; it’s a question of inner transformation, of dying to self so that we may live in Christ. Orthodoxy (right belief) is the map, and orthopraxy (right practice) is what we do when we follow the map’s directions towards our ultimate destination.

(Rod Dreher, What Is Christianity For?) This is true, and important.

But practices can catechize falsehood and evil, too:

[T]he practices made possible by the Pill changed the beliefs people had about sex, marriage, and family. The divorce revolution in the 1970s and 1980s was phase two of the Sexual Revolution. The rise of gay rights and the normalization of homosexuality is the most recent phase, and we have now moved into obliterating the differences between male and female. So, when critics of orthodox Christians gripe that we’re all hung up about sex, I believe they have in mind some prudish vicar sniffing at the young people getting handsy with each other. No. We’re talking about a Revolution that overturned Christian beliefs in the meaning of sex, marriage, and even male and female. We’re talking a new anthropology ….

Hare-brained anthropology, with immensely destructive potential, is part of what slips under some Biblicists’ radar, as there’s nothing explicit in the Bible to the contrary.

2

Princeton Seminary has reversed its decision of give Tim Keller its Kuyper Award for a “scholar or community leader whose outstanding contribution to their chosen sphere reflects the ideas and values characteristic of the Neo-Calvinist vision of religious engagement in matters of social, political and cultural significance.” The reason is internal insurgency based on Keller’s opposition to ordaining “women and LGBTQ+ persons”:

Tim Keller believes what the vast majority of Christians have always believed about gender and sexuality. The Princeton Seminary community rejects what the vast majority of Christians have always believed about gender and sexuality. Because of that, the Seminary wants to clarify its rejection of what the vast majority of Christians have always believed about gender and sexuality. In short, the Seminary does not agree with Jesus and the apostles about sexual morality. Keller does …

What does this mean? On the standard articulated by the President, it means that Abraham Kuyper himself would not be qualified to win [the Kuyper] award. It means that the giants of Princeton’s past like Charles Hodge and B. B. Warfield would not be qualified for this award. It means that no faithful Christian would ever be qualified to win this award. Why? Because it is impossible to be a faithful follower of Christ while rejecting what Christ teaches about sexual immorality. And rejecting Christ’s teaching on this point is apparently a prerequisite of the award.

Here we have before us a seminary that is taking a very public stand against what Christ teaches about sexual immorality. In what sense can such a school or institution be considered in any meaningful sense Christian?

(Denny Burk)

3

You know what they say about “those who don’t know history,” don’t you?

Ian Samuel and Leah Litman recall one of the great blots on our national history, thus inclining me more favorably toward the court decisions striking down the President’s two immigration bans/travel bans/Muslim bans:

A curious argument has become fashionable in certain circles. The argument is about President Trump’s travel bans, and goes something like this: when a court evaluates the legality of these bans, what is required is a sort of studied judicial credulity. All a court can consider is the Administration’s rationale for the ban as stated in (1) the ban itself, and (2) its briefs …

What’s interesting about this curious new argument is how vividly it evokes another case from our history, also involving a constitutional challenge to a national-security executive order, where the courts were also urged to accept the executive’s national-security rationale at face value, without considering whether the executive’s stated national-security purpose made any sense or was the real motivation for the order. The difference is that in that case, the court gave the government what it wanted and upheld the order.

That case, however, is also regarded as one of the greatest blunders in American legal history. In Korematsu v. United States, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of an American citizen of Japanese descent for violating an exclusion order that required him to stay in an internment camp. That decision is a leading candidate for any list of entries in what Richard Primus once called “the anti-canon.” Jamal Greene included the decision in his piece describing the content of “the anti-canon.” And Justice Scalia once said that a dissent in the case was the past Court opinion he admired most.

But the Court did not get it wrong without help. As it turns out, blind trust in the government can be dangerous because the government does not always tell the truth. In 2011, the United States filed a formal “admission of error” acknowledging that the government had misled the Court in Korematsu. By the time of the Supreme Court case, the Solicitor General knew that a key intelligence report undermined the government’s stated rationale for the racial discrimination, but concealed it (despite warnings from inside the Department of Justice that this might constitute “the suppression of evidence”). Other stated justifications for the law had also been internally discredited by the FBI.

None of this was shared with the Court, which was blithely urged to just take the government at its word. And that the Court did. The Korematsu majority, having been fed garbage by the United States, reasoned that it had no choice but to eat it. Internment was “deemed necessary because of the presence of an unascertained number of disloyal members of the group,” and the Court “could not reject” this finding of “the military authorities.” Case closed: to “cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice … merely confuses the issue.”

As it turns out, though, one Justice was willing to look behind the curtain—to do, in other words, what the judges evaluating Trump’s travel ban have been doing. Justice Murphy’s dissent … reasoned that the justification for the exclusion rested mainly upon “questionable racial and sociological grounds not ordinarily within the realm of expert military judgment,” supplemented by what he called semi-military conclusions drawn from an unwarranted use of circumstantial evidence.” (In other words: hand-waving.) For example, he noted that the government had argued that Japanese-Americans were given to “emperor worshipping ceremonies.”

But the real motivations for these conclusions, Murphy could see, were not expert military judgments but naked racism. And he was able to arrive at this conclusion by doing just what the no-peeking view objects to: looking behind the curtain of the proffered rationale for the exclusion order to see where it came from.

4

So . . . a guy walks by the Oval Office and hears the president screaming, “Twenty-one! Twenty-one!” It sounds urgent so the guy sticks his head in the door and the president kicks him in the shin and yells, “Twenty-two! Twenty-two!”

Reams have been written about the Democrats’ losses in 2016 and here is my analysis, in fewer than 50 words:

The Democrat ran out of gas and walked to the gas station to buy some, and the station attendant had no gas can, only a chamber pot, so he filled that up for her and the Democrat took it back to the car and poured it into the gas tank and people driving by thought, “She is nobody I’d care to ride with, that’s for sure.”

Okay, 66 words. So I lied.

(Garrison Keillor)

5

[I]f evidence of Trump-Russia collusion is as rampant as [Rep. Adam] Schiff claims, it seems a mite odd to be stressing Team Obama’s failure to put Trump Tower under surveillance.

The witnesses sat mostly stone-faced while the politicians spun, but they did vouchsafe a few interesting tidbits.

On the claim that Russia wasn’t merely trying to hurt Mrs. Clinton but to help Mr. Trump, supposedly a key intelligence-agency insight, this was mostly a matter of “logic”: In a two-person race, hurting one necessarily means helping the other.

The Russians made little effort to conceal their meddling. Their “loudness,” said the FBI’s Mr. Comey, suggested “their No. 1 mission” was to discredit U.S. democracy by “freaking people out about how the Russians might be undermining our elections.”

(Wall Street Journal, Leakgate Finds Its Joe McCarthy) Does that mean that Rep. Schiff is a Russian agent by “freaking people out about how the Russians might be undermining our elections”?

6

As “The Gong Show” and Mr. Barris’s other series were slipping, he sold his company for a reported $100 million in 1980 and decided to go into films.

He directed and starred in “The Gong Show Movie,” a thundering failure that stayed in theaters only a week.

Afterward, a distraught Mr. Barris checked into a New York hotel and wrote his autobiography, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” in two months. In it, he claimed to have been a CIA assassin.

The book (and the 2002 film based on it, directed by George Clooney) were widely dismissed by disbelievers who said the creator of some of television’s most lowbrow game shows had allowed his imagination to run wild when he claimed to have spent his spare time traveling the world, quietly rubbing out enemies of the U.S.

“It sounds like he has been standing too close to the gong all those years,” quipped CIA spokesman Tom Crispell. “Chuck Barris has never been employed by the CIA and the allegation that he was a hired assassin is absurd,” Mr. Crispell added.

Mr. Barris, who offered no corroboration of his claims, was unmoved.

“Have you ever heard the CIA acknowledge someone was an assassin?” he once asked.

De mortuis nil nisi bonum and all that, but this is almost Presidential-caliber looniness.

7

Is it just coincidence that Apple is picturing its iPad Pro paired with a full-size keyboard and advertising how it doesn’t freeze up right about the time that my beautiful newish MacBook Pro has somehow begun freezing up regularly?

* * * * *

“Liberal education is concerned with the souls of men, and therefore has little or no use for machines … [it] consists in learning to listen to still and small voices and therefore in becoming deaf to loudspeakers.” (Leo Strauss)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.