Punishing the truth

  1. Por favor
  2. Salvation & damnation. Period.
  3. The Truth will be punished
  4. Limited ambitions
  5. A word to the wastrels
  6. Pew projections
  7. Promise & Reality
  8. 15 seconds, assumes a lot


In 1968, I spent 6 weeks touring Western Europe and the British Isles with the Wheaton College Men’s Glee Club. At that point, my Spanish language skills only had about six months’ accumulation of rust, and my Barcelona hosts loved telling me jokes. Many focused on Chinese or death by hanging.

One host told me a twofer: a man condemned to be hung was asked for his last wish: “Enough time to learn Chinese” was his reply. (Mic drop)

If there is one theme that threads its way through the great sweep of the Chinese tradition, it is a tragic recognition that the world we live in is not designed to reward the life most worth living. It is found in the opening pages of Sima Qian’s historical masterwork. It is coded into the biography of Confucius, and debated by all of his intellectual heirs. Attempts to reconcile the pressures of the world with the honest life were made by the Mohist philosophers; the attempt was proclaimed impossible by both Daoistsand Legalists (though for opposite reasons). The first named poet in Chinese history is survived by one poem, a lament on this theme. Be it the rural escapes of Tao Qian,  the drunken withdrawals of Li Bai, or the stubborn realism of Du Fu, this dilemma inspired the greatest of China’s poets in the millennia that followed. The great Chinese novels are obsessed with the topic: Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Outlaws of the Marsh ask if one can live righteously in ages of corruption and violence; The Scholars (and less obviously, Journey to the Westviciously satire those who try to do the same in ages of corruption and peace. The beautiful, sorrow-filled Dream of the Red Chamber embraces this tragedy as Chinese women lived it. And so on right into the modern era. At the turn of the 20th century, Lu Xun kicked off modern Chinese literature with a short story that paints Chinese social life as a choice between becoming a monster or being considered insane. These are just the most famous names of a 3,000 year tradition. To neglect it is to neglect a well of experience seemingly prepared for our day.

(The Scholar’s Stage, Everything is Worse in China. H/T Rod Dreher)

Señor, concédeme suficiente tiempo para aprender el idioma chino, por favor. (50 years of rust plus Google Translate)


The truth is that the Church, as Church, has no pastoral interest in the LGBT bloc apart from her concern that those who compose it be protected from sin contemplated and rescued from sin committed—precisely the same concern she shows for everybody else. That is to say, the Church is concerned with the prospect of salvation and damnation, and persons with a propensity for a particular sin engage her pastoral solicitude in the degree that the sin is grave and the propensity stubborn. She wants us to get to heaven.

(Paul V. Mankowski, SJ, Pontifex Minimus, a review of James Martin, SJ’s Building a Bridge) Mankowki is admirably succinct and, for my tastes, devastating toward a book whose author orthodox Catholics seem to distrust pretty thoroughly.

I have emulated his brevity by quoting only what I see as the core theme, but I commend the whole surprisingly short piece, with the caveat that a paywall may bar you for now.


It was the girls’ state championship track meet in Connecticut. A Cromwell High School freshman who calls himself Andraya Yearwood and “identifies” as female sped to victory in the 100- and 200-meter races. The 2016 winner, Sarah Hall, now a junior, came in second. She had this to say to reporters after being vanquished by a male runner that the State of Connecticut calls a female runner: “I can’t really say what I want to say, but there’s not much I can do about it.” Her succinct words capture the depth of the perversion that transgender ideology will impose upon us all. We will have to accommodate ourselves to lies, knowing that truthful words will be punished.

(R.R. Reno, Same paywall caveat as previous item.)


Which brings to mind a talk last month at a small bookshop in Chelsea. The author of a new study of Pascal made a presentation. Clearly, she lacked theological sympathy for Pascal’s rigorously orthodox Christian beliefs, to say nothing of his Jansenism, but she was not biblically illiterate. Nevertheless, during the course of her remarks, she reported that she admired Pascal because of the restlessness of his mind. “He was never bored.” That commendation epitomizes our secular age and its limited ambitions. We cannot hope to rest in the eternal and take repose in a lasting joy. Instead, we must make do with a more modest imperative: Never be bored!

(R.R. Reno, yeah, da paywall)


Indiana ran a $2 billion surplus last year. The pot-stirrers at TV-18 bestirred themselves to their customary remote location for finding the “man on the street behind the wheel of his car,” the BP station at Sagamore Parkway and Yeager Road, a block from the WLFI main studio, to seek, and find, people who thought we should spend it now on this and that.

I have just one word of advice for such folks: Illinois.



The promise:  “I will fight for their passage within the first 100 days of my Administration.”

The reality:  “I will golf and Tweet about trifles while such Bills die on the vine.”


Discuss. (H/T R.R. Reno)

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Fiat justitia ruat caelum

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

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.