What liturgy’s forming you?

  1. Fulfilling Worship’s Potential
  2. Exactly wrong folk piety
  3. Soros vs. Koch at Woke Forest
  4. Syria’s real peril
  5. Trump’s Syria Hypocrisy
  6. New Regulatory Czaritsa
  7. Top reason not to watch O’Reilly

1

I blog about some heavy stuff below — y’know: war; human suffering — but this item is my most important sub specie aeterni.

I long to see Evangelicals awaken to historic Christianity, and liturgy just might be the key. Rod Dreher, who has never been an Evangelical, nevertheless is a good enough journalist and listener to have nailed this in his important new book.

I have distilled the points truest to my own experience for nearly 50 years before a big epiphany led me to Orthodoxy:

Our imaginations have been colonized by a mentality that holds older, inherited forms of worship to be impediments to authenticity. On the contrary, we need to be instructed in how to pray and worship to train our minds to think in an authentically Christian way. As Paul exhorted the Romans, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds, by adopting thought patterns and behaviors that are not actually natural to us …

What many Protestants reject as “vain repetition” in liturgical forms of worship is actually the quality of liturgy that makes it so effective at discipleship …

“The issue is not whether people will be formed by liturgy, but which liturgies will form them”* … 

Ryan Martin pastors a rural fundamentalist church in Minnesota, one that does not have a high smells-and-bells liturgy but nevertheless observes a more traditional worship form. They believe this is a biblical mandate. “We detest entertainment as worship. We believe that God is to be worshipped in a way that communicates his transcendence, as well as the warmth of the Gospel,” Martin says. “Contemporary worship manipulates. God is not a fad or a hipster deity. To attach him to our own little slice of popular culture fails to do justice to him as the transcendent God over all history and cultures.”… 

[L]ow-church Evangelicals are absolutely right to say that liturgy itself won’t save you. Only conversion of the heart will. Liturgy is necessary for worship to do what it must do to fulfill its potential ….

(Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option, Chapter 5)

[* There are, for instance, cultural liturgies, like that of the shopping mall.]

2

It doesn’t matter what you “believe” so long as you’re insincere.

The conventional version has it all wrong, as conventional “wisdom” (especially when it’s a substitute for actual thought) tends to.

Insincere people “go with the flow,” “go along to get along.” They do their pious Sunday schtick and then live just like all the other pagans during the week. “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere” is, ironically, a mark of insincerely going along to get along.

It’s the sincere ones you’ve got to watch out for.

3

At Wake Forest, it’s apparently okay to take money from George Soros to criticize others in the university for taking money from the Koch Brothers.

It’s okay, and consistent with academic freedom, to have a “Pro Humanitate Institute, whose executive director, Melissa Harris-Perry, made a name for herself as a progressive activist on MSNBC,” and whose mission is “connected to clear practices with meaningful social justice outcomes.” But it’s bad to have an interdisciplinary “Eudaimonia Institute … to study the political, economic, moral and cultural institutions that encourage human happiness.” That’s so bad that others need to pre-approve its publications.

This according to Naomi Schaefer Riley, An Anti-Koch Meltdown at Wake Forest – Professors are attacking the billionaires and undermining academic freedom. I’m trying to imagine the “other side” of this story and coming up short.

4

“Trump’s Strike on Syria Fuels Russia Tensions,” proclaims Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. Syria Strike Puts U.S. and Russia at Odds, echoes the New York Times.

Well, yeah, I guess it would fuel tensions since Russia is in Syria on the apparent theory that Assad is better than the likely alternatives whereas we sent our missiles into Syria on some other theory, which may not even be contradictory — maybe that Assad is messing up the world’s virtual elimination of chemical weapons and must be punished to set an example — but tends to favor those unsavory alternatives.

In any event, I was surprised to discern in myself very little concern that we’ve offended Russia, more concern that our intervention makes us an even greater stench in world nostrils.

Walter Russell Mead disagrees with me.

5

Ilya Somin has some questions about our Syria attack:

Trump justified yesterday’s strike by the need to protect Assad’s innocent civilian victims. It’s hard to disagree with Trump’s condemnation of Assad’s murder of “innocent men, women and children.” But such expressions of concern ring hollow so long as Trump continues to try to bar Syrian refugees from the United States under his “travel ban” executive order. As leading terrorism expert Peter Bergenpoints out, these people are fleeing the very atrocities that Trump now claims to be so concerned about: “These Syrian refugees are not terrorists. They are fleeing the brutal terrorism of the Assad regime and the brutal terrorism of ISIS. They are the victims of terrorism, not its perpetrators.”

Trump claims that we must bar Syrian refugees because of supposed security risks they pose. But the security rationales for both Trump’s original travel ban and the revised one issued in response to adverse court decisions are laughably weak. They also ignore the significant security benefits of accepting refugees, including weakening ISIS.

By contrast, attacking Assad poses far greater risks. Among other things, it creates the danger of a clash with Russia, and of strengthening the position of ISIS, the terrorist force whose defeat Trump claims should be a top priority …

The contradiction between Trump’s cruel refugee policy and his supposed newfound concerns for Assad’s victims suggests that he either does not know what he is doing, does not really care about Syrian civilians, or both.

6

The blind pig has found another acorn. Will he let her function as she’s capable?

Cryptic and snarky comments aside:

Friday, President Trump announced his intention to nominate Neomi Rao to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the Office of Management and Budget, the most important position which you may not have heard of before …

Trump’s selection of Rao suggests the administration is serious about regulatory reform, not merely reducing high-profile regulatory burdens. The selection of a well-respected administrative law expert further suggests the administration recognizes the need to be attentive to legal constraints on administrative action and that meaningful reforms require more than issuing a few executive orders. Rao is a superlative pick.

Note, per Eugene Volokh, that the proper pop title for this role should be Czaritsa, not Czarina.

7

That Bill O’Reilly is a sexual predator is the least of my reasons for not watching him.

[F]ans of Mr. O’Reilly wrestled with the news, disclosed in a New York Times report last weekend, that he had reached settlements totaling about $13 million with five women who accused him of harassment.

Should they believe the women and drop Mr. O’Reilly from their TV news diet? Ignore the women and stay loyal? Or recognize that it could all be true and forgive him?

How about ceasing to watch him because he’s a cruel ideologue who won’t let his guest get a word in edgewise?

* * * * *

“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.

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