Tuesday, 8/29/17

  1. What are you wearing?
  2. A family-friendly Provincetown?
  3. Bourgeois norms
  4. Whom the gods would destroy …
  5. Trump’s idea of patriotism
  6. GOP forfeits to the Populists

1

Clothing is mentioned with an essential role in the Genesis account of human beginnings. Our sin plunges us into shame. We are “naked” and seek to “hide.” The theological unpacking of this reality is deeply important in Scripture, particularly in the New Testament. But it also reflects a simple human experience. The naked truth of ourselves is generally experienced in a shameful manner. That is to say that we feel exposed, vulnerable and in danger when various aspects of that truth are seen by others. And so, we cover up.

God provided Adam and Eve “garments of skin” in Genesis 3. Those garments have been deeply elaborated on ever since. Perhaps the deepest commentary on this is found in St. Paul:

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Gal. 3:27)

This would probably be more accurately rendered, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ as a garment.” The word “put on” (ἐνεδύσασθε) specifically refers to “putting on” a garment. This “putting on” is the true and spiritual fulfillment of which all efforts to clothe ourselves are a mere reflection, and often one of deep distortion.

Nearly six years ago I had a very graphic dream that involved my late Archbishop Dmitri. It was some few months after his death. The last words he spoke in the dream have stayed with me: “I believe that soon, we shall all have to stand naked before the judgment seat of Christ.” I did not know then how important those words would become for me. May God clothe us with the righteousness of Christ and conform us inwardly to His image.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman)

2

Rod Dreher’s reader James C. submits a “view from your table” photo with commentary:

Hel sits at the very tip of a long curving finger of sand out in the Baltic Sea—like Provincetown on Cape Cod, except about 100 times more family-friendly (this is still Poland).

It was a joy to see all the young Polish families take their kids out in the quaint town and wander around the dunes in white sands so fine that they squeak between your toes.

What a lovely country and people. I have drunk heavy doses of history in Krakow, Czestochowa, Wroclaw and Gdansk, both glorious and terrible. The people are survivors, and after all their sufferings they are in a pretty good place. Being here for the first time really helps me understand why they are resisting Merkel and Juncker’s EU diktats. They like having peace and freedom for the first time, and they prefer to keep it that way, thank you very much. There’s an ease of life in the cities—no concrete barriers, no soldiers with weapons. Just Polish people being Polish, and unapologetically happy to be so.

Like in Western Europe, there are two societies here: the godly and the godless. But unlike its neighbors to the west, the godly side isn’t a tiny minority. I’ve been to several parish masses, and I was very impressed by the reverence of the liturgy and the crowds of young urban Poles in the pews.

I was very grateful to make this little stopover on my way back from America. It was the cheapest trip I’ve ever taken but one of the more rewarding. And I got to see one of my five favourite paintings in the world: Hans Memling’s Last Judgment, in Gdansk. It brought me to my knees.

100 times more family-friendly than Provincetown? Why, whatever could he be talking about?

God bless the godly Poles!

3

Law professors Amy Wax and Larry Alexander wrote an op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer that made a commonsense argument: that many of our social problems today stem from a collapse of middle-class cultural norms.

[Excerpts omitted]

The professors say that embracing old-fashioned bourgeois norms would not solve every problem, but it would help a lot of suffering people have better lives, and improve our common life. How is this even disputable?

Welcome to academia, in which the politically correct mob has formed:

“[White supremacist Richard] Spencer’s incitement of moral panic can find its intellectual home in the kind of falsely ‘objective’ rhetoric in Amy Wax’s statement, which positions (white) bourgeois culture as not only objectively superior, but also under incursion from lesser cultures and races,” a statement from a Penn multicultural group posted on Medium read.

A column in the student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvaniansigned by 54 students and alumni, called the ideals extolled in Wax and Alexander’s piece “steeped in anti-blackness and white hetero-patriarchal respectability, i.e. two-hetero-parent homes, divorce is a vice and the denouncement of all groups perceived as not acting white enough, i.e., black Americans, Latino communities and immigrants in particular.

(Rod Dreher) Then it really gets good. Wax call bullshit on them:

“If they were really being consistent, they would go out there and say, ‘We’re going commit crimes, and get high, and go on strike and go on food stamps, and have a bunch of out-of-wedlock babies, because we want to have nothing to do with these tainted, racist values,’” Wax said. …

It is a sign of the utter stupidity of our times that not only does a piece like Wax’s and Alexander’s need to be written, but that a herd of academics would denounce it as racist, sexist, and the lot.

Seems to me that if you want to have the best shot at building a decent life for yourself and for your children, you’ll do what Wax and Alexander say. If not, you’ll follow the advice of the herd of academicians. Anyway, Prof. Wax is right: her critics aren’t going to come out and endorse anti-bourgeois values, or live by them. But they lack the moral courage and the common sense to affirm what everyone knows — or used to know — to be true.

4

Critics of the council see this as the problem: Evangelical leaders are willing to explain away anything Trump does, even when he creates controversy and potentially exacerbates painful situations. “I think a lot of his advisory council members right now are in the business of enabling,” said Noah Toly, a professor of politics and director of the Center for Urban Engagement at Wheaton College, an evangelical school outside of Chicago. Along with a small group of colleagues, Toly spearheaded a letter from Wheaton faculty condemning the white supremacy on display in Charlottesville. “If the advisory council were perceived to exist in order to challenge the president on important issues, not just to send out a few tweets … I might think differently,” he told me. “But it seems to me, and I think a lot of other evangelicals, that the advisory council exists to legitimize the presidency in the eyes of the evangelical base.”

(Emma Green, “Evangelicals Are Bitterly Split Over Advising Trump“, via GetReligion)

More from the GetReligion folks about the Emma Green story:

I think you can see a hint of what is actually going on in the Atlantic piece, right near the end. Read between the lines on this:

Because they’re always on television and occasionally posting selfies from the Oval Office, the members of the advisory council have become the assumed voice of the 81 percent of white evangelicals who voted to put Trump in office. In reality, evangelicals have extremely divided views on how to approach politics. “Whatever credibility we had, we are selling that now in order to achieve and retain power and influence, which is a bargain that isn’t worth it,” said Toly. “We have to be willing to call out evil wherever it happens, and not remain silent in order to retain influence on other issues. I don’t see a lot of that happening right now.”

You know what many people trapped in the middle say: But what about the Supreme Court? It was painful to vote for Trump, but they knew what Clinton would do once in power, in terms of the American legal future on issues linked to the First Amendment and the free exercise of religious convictions.

So – lesser of two evils.

It seems like I’m forever quoting the Atlantic second-hand. When my subscription to Harpers — a real disappointment overall (I subscribed because of one outstanding Alan Jacobs article which turned out the be a total outlier) — expires, I think I’m going to get a subscription.

5

Trump has called Arpaio a “great American patriot,” employing a definition of patriotism that includes extreme ethnic profiling, terror raids, and cruel and unusual punishment. A definition of patriotism that covers using internment camps in extreme heat, parading women and juvenile offenders for the cameras in chain gangs, and degrading inmates in creative acts of bullying. This is not patriotism; it is the abuse of power in the cause of bigotry.

Others have commented on the legal precedent of effectively pardoning someone for abusing the constitutional rights of an ethnic minority. Done in a manner that employs the pardon power as a reward for political loyalty. Resulting from a process that evidently did not involve the normal review and recommendation of the Justice Department’s pardon attorney. Was White House Counsel Donald McGahn — a reputed libertarian — involved in this permission for swaggering government oppression? Better question: Why did he not resign in protest? And how about Gary Cohn, who famously almost resigned over events in Charlottesville, demanding that the president “must do better”? Does he think the Arpaio pardon is doing better?

Congressional Republicans have often taken a wait-and-see attitude toward the dishonoring and destruction of their party. Now they can hardly deny that Trump’s worst moments are his most authentic moments, or that his definition of loyalty requires defending the indefensible.

(Michael Gerson)

6

New revelations about Trump campaign’s quid pro quo-style outreach to Vladimir Putin. (H/T Damon Linker)

If the Never-Trump Republicans don’t get more creative, which means among other things more reflective about how their own failures allowed him to win by by out-Populisting Sarah Palin, they’re not going to regain control of the party and win elections. So far, their approach has been “Trump is terrible and we need to get back to the same-old same-old.” That’s the overall message of Linker’s article.

I care about that much as I care about goings-on in the Roman Catholic Church: it’s not my party, but I nevertheless am affected by its successes or failures. (Same with the Democrats, by the way, for any new readers.)

* * * * *

Gosh! Did you see what President Donald Trump is up to today? How utterly fascinating he is! I weep with envy when I look upon Melania. He fills my every thought! He surely doesn’t need to start any more stupid wars to get my undivided attention! No siree!

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

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.