Tuesday, 9/5/17

  1. Chastity
  2. An inverted confessional state
  3. All cultures are not equal
  4. What’s the tragedy we’re now playing as farce?
  5. Invisible. Simply invisible.
  6. Anthropology
  7. If this, then that?


To love someone as Christ loves us means to love that person in the truth. “For this I was born,” Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “to bear witness to the truth.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church reflects this insistence on honesty, stating that the church’s message to the world must “reveal in all clarity the joy and demands of the way of Christ.”

[T]here should not be any double standard with regard to the virtue of chastity, which, challenging as it may be, is part of the good news of Jesus Christ for all Christians. For the unmarried—no matter their attractions—faithful chastity requires abstention from sex.

This might seem a high standard, especially today. Yet it would be contrary to the wisdom and goodness of Christ to require something that cannot be achieved. Jesus calls us to this virtue because he has made our hearts for purity, just as he has made our minds for truth. With God’s grace and our perseverance, chastity is not only possible, but it will also become the source for true freedom.

We do not need to look far to see the sad consequences of the rejection of God’s plan for human intimacy and love. The sexual liberation the world promotes does not deliver its promise. Rather, promiscuity is the cause of so much needless suffering, of broken hearts, of loneliness, and of treatment of others as means for sexual gratification.

(Cardinal Robert Sarah)

I want to draw attention to one phrase here that might pass unnoticed or might be thought tautological: “For the unmarried … faithful chastity requires abstention from sex.” Two points:

  1. Chastity does not mean abstention from sex. Sexual relations in marriage can be chaste — or unchaste. It is possible, even in marriage, to treat a spouse as merely a means for sexual gratification.
  2. Abstention from sex outside of marriage is not the whole of chastity. I’ve never watched Game of Thrones, for instance, and now that I have picked that it depicts a lot of sexual activity the viewing of which might be unchaste, I don’t think I will.


The Liberal state is not neutral about religion, because of some commitment to reason.  In fact it is actively opposed to the practice of reason concerning religion.

Consider the public schools.  Not teaching divine revelation in them is one thing; even Christianity grants that faith requires more than just reason, because faith is a gratuitous gift of God.

But as the Founders of the republic knew, not even mentioning the truths of natural law and natural theology is quite another thing, because these can be known even by reason.

[W]oe unto him who thinks believing in God makes a difference.  One is not required to be an atheist.  One is only expected to impersonate one.  Especially in law and the universities.

This masks the fact that Something Else is being elevated to godhood.  Secularism is becoming a religion.  We are growing an inverted confessional state.

(J. Budziszewski)


All cultures are not equal. Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy. The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-“acting white” rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants. These cultural orientations are not only incompatible with what an advanced free-market economy and a viable democracy require, they are also destructive of a sense of solidarity and reciprocity among Americans. If the bourgeois cultural script — which the upper-middle class still largely observes but now hesitates to preach — cannot be widely reinstated, things are likely to get worse for us all.

(Amy Wax and Larry Alexander) For this nicely-crafted distillation of truths hard to dispute, Wax has nonetheless been roundly denounced. But Jonathan Haidt has risen to her defense (emphasis in original):

The most intellectually exciting project I’ve done in the last ten years was to moderate a bipartisan working group composed of 14 of America’s top experts on poverty. We worked together for 15 months to analyze the existing research literature and write up a set of principles and proposals that we thought would actually work to reduce poverty and increase economic mobility. Our report, sponsored by the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute, was published in December 2016.

We … developed a clear formulation about the importance of creating better environments in which to raise children. We agreed to urge the importance of “delayed responsible parenting.” We knew that marriage promotion interventions are generally unsuccessful, but given the huge importance of marriage for the outcomes of children, we thought it was urgent to try to change social norms in poor communities. Here is how we put it (with emphasis on culture added):

So what can be done? We’ve said that marriage matters. But past government efforts to encourage unmarried parents to marry have not proven very effective. Promoting marriage to strengthen American families isn’t primarily an issue of specific policies or programs in any case: it’s in large part a question of culture. Political leaders, educators, and civic leaders—from both the political left and right—need to be clear and direct about how hard it is to raise children without a committed co-parent. We’ve effectively reduced major public health problems, such as smoking and teen pregnancy, through changes in cultural attitudes facilitated by public information campaigns. According to a review of the research by contraception expert Adam Thomas, mass media campaigns about the consequences of unprotected sex have reduced unplanned pregnancies. We propose a campaign of similar scope to emphasize the value of committed coparenting and marriage. It’s not a small thing for leaders to be clear in this way—cultural norms are influenced by the messages leaders send. Major cultural norms have been changed many times before when leaders expressed firm and unequivocal views about even entrenched cultural attitudes, including norms surrounding civil rights and gay rights. Presidents, politicians, church leaders, newspaper columnists, business leaders, educators, and friends should all join in telling young people that raising kids jointly with the children’s other parent is more likely to lead to positive outcomes than raising a child alone.

In other words, Wax was correct, based on the available evidence and expert opinion, to argue that “a strong pro-marriage norm” would reduce poverty and blunt or reverse the pernicious social trends she described at the beginning of her article.

(H/T Rod Dreher)


More arresting is Marx’s comment that history repeats “the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” Today the farce being played out in the United States is plain for all who care to witness it. The historic tragedy that the farce obscures is harder to discern, and portends the resurgence of conditions and attitudes that in the past have led to disaster.

Writing in the 1920s, the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset chronicled the assent of the “mass man” in the cultural and political life of Europe. Ortega did not equate the masses with the working class any more than he associated the elite with civility and decorum. An attitude of mind, rather than class affiliation or identity, distinguished the mass man. Simply put, Ortega argued that the mass man lacked the intellectual and spiritual discipline necessary either to exercise power or to safeguard tradition. His was a commonplace, pedestrian mind that remained dull and inert until animated by some external stimuli that quickly provoked a compulsion to act. Unwilling to engage in rational debate, to apply the rules of logic to disagreements, to acknowledge external judgments, or even to recognize the existence of other points of view, the mass man “is satisfied with thinking the first thing he finds in his head.” He has no ideas as such, but can only express his “appetites in words.” …

Ortega lamented the assertion of this right to be unreasonable—the “reason of unreason” to use a phrase from Don Quixote. Obedient to no authority, the mass man “feels himself lord of his own existence.” He refuses to challenge himself to improve. He places on himself no demands of any kind, but instead “contents himself with what he is, and is delighted with himself,” regarding his “moral and intellectual endowments as excellent [and] complete.” …

In their political offensive against socialism and democracy, many European statesmen, generals, aristocrats, entrepreneurs, clergymen, and intellectuals had, by the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, found in nationalism a convenient doctrine to electrify and exploit the masses. Until after the Revolutions of 1848, nationalism had been a liberal initiative. Liberal nationalists, such as the Italian Giuseppe Mazzini, sought to create a Europe composed of free and independent states each peopled by free and independent citizens. During the second half of the nineteenth century, nationalism severed its relations with liberalism and became the incubator of dictatorship and war.

Militant nationalists rejected the emphasis on individual liberty in favor of national unity. …

(Mark Malvasi, History as Tragedy and Farce: The Rise of Nationalism — footnotes omitted) These are only snippets. I commend the whole piece.


You know the fable that when some European explorer (in some versions it’s Columbus, in others Magellan or Captain Cook) arrived on strange shores the natives simply could not see the ship — it was so far outside their engraved world that it was invisible to them? That’s how many leftists behave when sefl-styled “antifa” thugs assault people they falsely claim to be Nazis. Those good liberal folk may just lift their “Stand Against Hate” signs imperceptibly higher but otherwise march right along as though absolutely nothing is happening.

(Alan Jacobs) I did not know that fable, but when even Christian clergy, having consciously chosen non-violence in the Ghandi/MLK manner, can mingle with masked and armed Antifa without vocal objection before, during or after their collaborative counter-protest/riot, we need something to explain it.



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

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

2 thoughts on “Tuesday, 9/5/17

  1. I do not wish to comment on the posts but as there is no way to contact you apart from your comments section, may I ask why you did not publish my comment about Donald Trump which I sent last week from Northern Ireland?

  2. I have searched my email and don’t see any sign that I was aware of that comment. Because I had approved one of your comments in the past, any comment should have posted without prior approval, as this one did (until such time as I take action to the contrary).

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