Potpourri 6/27/17

  1. No worse than everyone else
  2. Worldview testing redux
  3. Tracking the ominous oddities
  4. Hear no evil dissent


On Monday, a solid 7-2 Supreme Court majority more or less established the principle that religious people and institutions cannot be treated worse than everyone else.

The context was whether Missouri, heir to one of many 19th-century anti-Catholic “Blaine Amendments,” could deny a Lutheran Church with a parochial school assistance with buying chopped tires for playground safety that all other schools were getting.

I assummed that the two dissenters, Sotomayor and Ginsburg, would opine that Missouri was allowed to treat people and institutions worse if they were religious because … wall of separation blah blah blah blah.

But it was worse than that: they argued that the federal establishment clause itself requires excluding religious institutions from such programs. The UCLA Amicus Brief Clinic and Eugene Volokh disagree.

Court wins are nice, but sometimes the courts are only a bit further downstream from the culture than are politics. I’ll consider it a true bellwether of religious freedom law if SCOTUS rules next year, in a case that it just agreed to hear, that Colorado has no right to coerce Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakes to create art that contradicts his faith — be it cakes for bachelor parties, Halloween or same-sex weddings. I assume that the big legal guns think they can win on religious freedom; by all rights, and all precedents, they should alternately win because the state cannot compel expression of beliefs or sentiments that the speaker or artisan does not want to express.


I took a good stiff drink (just kidding) and went back to finish the Wordview Checkup from David C. Cook (discussed previously). I did so because I imagined writing a parody, with Orthodox Christian questions asked and Orthodox answers assumed as the only fully Christian answers (which, by the way, is substantially what I believe) in lieu of the Evangelical shibboleths of the actual checkup.

But I found so much play in the joints of the David C. Cook questions that my imagination failed me.  A better man or woman than I, or someone with way too much time on their hands, will need to undertake that parody.

For what it’s worth, I scored 2% less Marxist than Rod Dreher, otherwise identical. I consider our scoring parochial to the point of delusion.

But even more, I think that score is unreliable even given the publisher’s presuppositions, because in case after case I made forced choices of the least unacceptable answer — i.e., I’m not sure I’d give the same answers if I took it a second time after somehow forgetting the torture of the first time. It was kind of like living last year’s Presidential election all over again.

And the final scoring? Well, you can be pure Christian or you can have a syncretistic mixture of Christian with — mirabile dictu — one or more of five current religious or ideological boogey-men. The test would have more street cred with me if the alternatives were actual heresies, like 57% Christian, 2% Arian, 12% Nestorian, and so forth for Gnostic, Donatist, Pelagian. Sabbelian, Messalian and more.

A truly Christian worldview should spot and classify heresy at least as fast as it spots heterodox economics, no? But I’ll betcha that David C. Cook itself would score high on Messalianism.


“Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.” (Amy Siskind)  Siskind, who backed the other major party candidate, is keeping a list. So is @_rememberbot. (Siskind’s is more useful, RememberBot more like ThinkProgress expanded to a whole 140 characters from its usual primal grunts.)

And I’m making some private copies in case the authoritarians somehow purge the public memory. You needn’t agree with everything to recognize the importance of these projects.

I know that sounds portentous, maybe even absurd. But I want to note every metastasis.

My WaPo subscription has justified itself.


We are as prudish as a colony of Puritans, but our prudery is sham.  It is not for the sake of purity that we hold our hands to our ears.

(J. Budziszewski) If he’s not careful, Budziszewski is going to become an aphorist. Be sure to read what this aphoristic conclusion concludes. Priceless.

* * * * *

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

2 thoughts on “Potpourri 6/27/17

  1. I am puzzled by Ms. Siskind’s list. There is a difference between authoritarianism and simple corruption, and an even bigger difference between those two things and policies and otherwise-legitimate actions that the list-maker doesn’t like. After removing from the list all the items that represent policy differences or simple corruption (or the appearance of it) — to say nothing of things that are entirely innocent like “Trump went to Camp David” and “somebody who is targeted by an investigation had the temerity to hire a lawyer” — how many items are left on the list that give any actual suggestion of authoritarianism?

    Don’t get me wrong, I detest Trump and will shed no tears if he is impeached and removed from office. But lists like this are just silly.

  2. It turns out that RememberBot is even more useless. It’s like a series of insider jokes where you must figure out what incident they’re referring to. I already unfollowed it.

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