May the dogma live loudly within you

  1. Datapoint
  2. Leveraging the Smartphone
  3. The Nashville Statement’s backdrop
  4. Are you now or have you ever been …
  5. Soulless Monsters
  6. Healing Liberalism
  7. The need for intimacy


[I]n 1976, fully 81 percent of Americans identified as white and members of a Christian denomination. Today it’s only 43 percent.

(Paul Waldman, The death rattle of the Trump evangelicals)


I encountered a third mind-bender on Wednesday that I should have added to the other two. I hesitated because, once more, though the story is about something deeper, the door into it is named “Donald Trump.” Hold that thought:

[E]vents have caused the strangest picture to form in my mind. I see Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate majority leader, as the tonsured abbot of a Benedictine monastery in the middle of the 15th century. The abbot’s job is to oversee production of handwritten Bibles by monks in the abbey scriptorium. He and his predecessors have tended this vitally important labor for hundreds of years.

But now a goldsmith named Gutenberg, in a German town called Mainz, has devised a machine that can produce identical Bibles — or any other document, for that matter — quickly and cheaply using movable metal letters and oil-based ink. And the abbot is awakening to the realization that nothing will ever be same.

When Apple unveiled its first smartphone in 2007, the company sparked a communications revolution likely to be as transformative as Gutenberg’s …

[O]ne thing is clear after the election of 2016 — the first American election truly dominated by mobile communication and the social networking it sparks: The future is cloudy for the likes of Mitch McConnell. The power of traditional party leaders flows from their ability to make, and control, connections that are otherwise extremely difficult. A well-run party controls the connection between a candidate and a line on the ballot. It controls access to key donors, who can open the gateway to television, the great persuader. Through these and other linkages, the party mediates the most important connection of all, between the candidate and the voters.

We saw last year that the power of the smartphone is vaporizing these functions. Donald Trump captured the Republican ballot line even though he had no appreciable connection to the Republican Party … More important, though, was the way he leveraged his celebrity via smartphone. His millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook became a rapidly growing Party of Trump. His supporters felt a personal and authentic connection that left no room for mediation by GOP elites.

Democratic bosses narrowly avoided a similar loss of control. Only their insider system of superdelegates cushioned them from the threat of a takeover by independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Powered by smartphone connectivity, Sanders supporters were able to crowdfund a nearly $230 million primary challenge that almost ousted the choice of the party leaders, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

(David Von Drehle, Steve Jobs gave us President Trump) Could this really be the death of political parties as we’ve known them? The rise of demagogues unlike we’ve seen before?

The author once more, in matter I consciously omitted before:

If all of those changes could flow from oily ink on slugs of alloy [i.e., the Gutenberg press], what earthquakes will follow from a technology that gives to nearly every human being the tools of worldwide mass communication? I find the question frankly mind-boggling.


One of Rod Dreher’s readers married young (20) and now her son has married young (19):

The pushback from Christian acquaintances has been shocking. I sent my kiddos to [a Christian school]. This would be maybe the most conservative, evangelical, blah blah blah place in the [region]. Mostly people are mad and upset I would “let” my kiddo marry. He takes after his parents and is fairly “strong minded” so the “let” thing is hilarious!

But, here’s the thing! So many of these parents would be perfectly fine if my son was sleeping with his girlfriend, but are not OK with them being married. Let that sink in. These are not people who would identify as “nominal” Christians. These parents want their kids to marry as 30 somethings I guess.

I don’t think most people should marry as young as my son did, or I did. But, the fact that living together, wink, wink is perfectly acceptable is a massive problem.

Also, on Facebook many friends from the church we used to go to are gushing over a marriage. His 3rd, her 2nd. Problematic. I think both of these people are better humans than me. Wonderful people. We have worked with both of them in youth ministry, but back in the day when you made a crappy choice to leave your spouse, it would be called sin. Today it’s just celebrated because after all, who doesn’t want to be “happy.”

This boggles my mind. Where’s the Sweet Meteor O’Death when we need it?


Congressional religious tests:

  • “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” (Dick Durban to Professor Amy Coney Barrett, nominated to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals)
  • “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.” (Diane Feinstein to the same nominee)

The problem, of course, is that heretical Catholics can be okay, but orthodox Catholics have some reservations about two of the Democrats’ dearest (if novel) dogmas, abortion and same-sex-marriage.

 The official teaching of the Catholic Church on the subject of gay “marriage” is this: while homosexual attraction is not sinful, acting on that attraction is sinful, and marriage remains the union of one man and one woman.  In other words, gay “marriage” is something Catholics can’t believe in, advocate for, or approve of while remaining Catholics in good standing with the Church.  Granted, lots of those 70 million Catholics are non-practicing and functional heretics anyway, but the point is that you can’t in any way claim that the Catholic Church approves of gay “marriage,” because she doesn’t, and won’t ever do so.

However, if SCOTUS decides to “Roe” the nation on gay “marriage” and impose it on the nation via judicial fiat, one of the most immediate effects of such a ruling would be to require a de facto religious test for many public offices.  Because the ramifications of a SCOTUS pro-gay “marriage” ruling would be to define those who don’t accept gay “marriage” as bigots and any anti-gay “marriage” position as bigotry, the Supreme Court would essentially open the door for a prohibition against “bigots” holding many public offices.  This would mean that the only Catholics who would qualify for public office would be the heretical ones who dissent against Church teaching against gay “marriage,” while faithful Catholics who accept all Church teaching would be barred–officially or unofficially–from serving in many branches of the government.  An immediate example that comes to mind is that of chaplains serving in the United States Armed Forces: will they be required to officiate at gay “weddings” or to otherwise violate Church teaching, or will the government simply decide that “bigots” don’t get chaplains anymore?  I fully expect that to be one of the early battlegrounds.

If the Supreme Court decides that opposition to homosexual acts and opposing the pretense of two-man or two-women “marriage” is the same thing as racism, then no quarter will be given to any religious citizen whose deeply held religious beliefs oppose gay “marriage.”  Whatever is done to Catholics and the Catholic Church in a post-gay “marriage” America will be the template for the eradication of religious beliefs that call homosexual activity sinful on the grounds that to hold such beliefs makes one an evil bigot who cannot be tolerated by a free secular people.

The religious test is coming.  Are we ready?

That was written four-and-a-half years ago by a little-known “Catholic. Period.” blogger, Erin Manning (who is little-known because she has a life and doesn’t opine on everything, unlike some bloggers I know). She has given herself license for a well-deserved “I told you so.”

The next time anybody asks how someone else’s same-sex marriage hurts Christians, you might answer that it’s sort of harmful to be labeled a bigot and considered unfit for certain jobs, just because you don’t think two men or two women are the same as a husband and wife. I doubt your interrogator will appreciate your point of view; in fact, I think the next party line will be that any harm Christianist bigots suffer for refusing to bow down before the idol of gay “marriage” and pour out libations (or bake cakes/arrange flowers/take pictures) is really their own fault, for holding such outlandish beliefs about the sanctity of marriage, the complementarity of men and women, and the need of children for a mother and a father in the first place.

I first learned of Erin Manning when she was a thoughtful frequent commenter at Rod Dreher’s blog. The paragraph immediately above is a nice instantiation of Dreher’s Law of Merited Impossibility: “It’s a complete absurdity to believe that Christians will suffer a single thing from the expansion of gay rights, and boy, do they deserve what they’re going to get.

They’re going to “get it,” ironically, for actually believing what the damned inquisitors would have sworn they believed until roughly the-day-before-yesterday.


Among the monsters who deserve what they’re going to get are those who would caution, well, caution about transitioning from male to female a 12-year-old with gender dysphoria. Not the “professionals” who cavalierly recommend expensive interventions whereby they gain money and fame, but people with nothing to gain who ask “what’s the hurry?”


I read, over the course of a couple of short late-evenings, “The Once and Future Liberal” by Mark Lilla, enjoying it suspiciously well. But no, I’m still (I believe, perhaps reflexively) conservative.

I suspect it’s too late for any mass movement to put citizenship above expressive individualism (the outward fruit of navel-gazing), and that that parties and nation as we’re known them are doomed. See item 2. But my former party, the GOP, is unfit to hold the power they’re going to continue holding indefinitely (I suspect) if the Democrats can’t grope their way to something saner than they’ve got currently.

It’s not entirely unlike my Orthodox concern that orthodox Catholicism prevail over dumbed-down clown masses and such, and that heretics and exploiters like Paula White, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn and Crefalo Dollar disappear from the face of Protestantism. If we can’t agree, let’s at least disagree over things worthy of human beings in God’s image, and not over gimmickry, novelties and financial rackets.


[T]he need for intimacy is often the driving force behind sexual promiscuity in all its forms. We all need intimacy, but to confuse this need with sex is the main reason why so many people succumb to sexual sin. The need for intimacy can be fulfilled in deep friendships, but must ultimately find true fulfillment in an intimate relationship with God.

(Abbot Tryphon)

I believe that this is both true and pastorally wise. Read the whole meditation, where the Abbot repeats a sad vignette he’s painted before.

But it calls into question the prescriptions an LGBT Christian complained of as coming from his/her (I don’t want to be specific) priest confessors — prescriptions for what could charitably be seen as avoidance of temptation (of sexual temptation for the person confessing and/or temptations to speculation and gossip by observers), but that seemed almost designed to produce alienation rather than intimacy as collateral effects.

Perhaps the priest confessor’s prescription was was not described well by my friend or heard well by me. I could imagine, for instance, a priest concluding that my friend needed some “time out” — that is, that the prescription was temporary, like an antibiotic for someone with a raging infection, not permanent like a statin for someone with chronic hyperlipidemia.

But if the prescription was, in effect, “avoid emotional intimacy other with with God for the rest of your life” and if that’s the standard of care for LGBT Christians, surely we’ve got to do better.

(I burn out on immersing myself in the topic of sexuality within the Church, which lacks personal currency, but I am reminded occasionally to re-affirm my concerns.)

* * * * *

May the dogma live loudly within you.

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

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.