Thursday, 9/14/17

  1. One mediator …
  2. Straight Talk for College Women
  3. Righteous – but not a “leader”?
  4. Detoxifying the college mix
  5. Fake news statistics
  6. Missing a religion-suffused human interest story
  7. World Ends: Woman and Minorities Hardest Hit

1

A nice, short apologetic for Protestants who think it’s wrong or unbiblical to ask the saints to pray for us:

Most Protestant churches strongly reject all saintly intercession, citing passages such as 1 Timothy 2:1-5, which says that Jesus is the sole mediator between God and man, as well as Deuteronomy 18:10-11 which seems to forbid invoking departed souls. They also point to the fact that there are no examples in the Bible of living humans praying to dead humans — Jesus Christ being the lone exception, because He is alive and resurrected, and because He is both human and Divine.

Yet the Bible indeed directs us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray with us. In Psalms 103, we pray, “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will!” (Psalms 103:20-21). And in Psalms 148 we pray, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!” (Psalms 148:1-2).

Not only do those in heaven pray with us, they also pray for us. In the book of Revelation, we read: “[An] angel came and stood at the altar [in heaven] with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God” (Rev. 8:3-4). And those in heaven who offer to God our prayers aren’t just angels, but humans as well. John sees that “the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8). The simple fact is, as this passage shows: The saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth.

(Abbot Tryphon)

2

Boston attorney Jennifer C. Braceras has some Straight Talk for College Women, strategically placed on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, which probably is the only major publication with that (pardon the expression) cojones to publish it.

I fear that the only way it will get to College Women is if parents reading the Journal send it. At Teen Vogue, they’re too busy with chirpy advice on safe perversion than with saying such politically incorrect things as:

  • Job one for Title IX administrators is to protect the college’s reputation, not to care about you.
  • Do not get drunk and go home with someone you don’t know.
  • There’s safety in numbers.
  • Reject the hookup culture.
  • Be clear about your wishes.
  • If you are assaulted, seek immediate help from someone you trust who is not affiliated with the college.

 Most controversial is this, which I never heard spoken so starkly:

If you do decide to participate in the “hookup” culture, go in with your eyes open. Promises made in the heat of passion are meaningless. Suitors will promise the moon to get you into bed. Many of them will want nothing to do with you the next day, which will (understandably) leave you feeling humiliated and exploited. That doesn’t make you a rape victim. It makes you naive.

3

Speaking of the rather pressing concern with floods, David Brooks scans the field, then narrows to Noah:

“Noah was righteous but not a leader,” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks observes …

Noah is a good man, but his story is a lesson in the dangers of blind obedience. The God of the Hebrew Bible wants respect for authority and deference to law. But He doesn’t want passive surrender.

Rabbi Sacks writes, “One of the strangest features of biblical Hebrew is that — despite the fact that the Torah contains 613 commands — there is no word for ‘obey.’ Instead the verb the Torah uses is shema/lishmoa, ‘to listen, hear, attend, understand, internalize, respond.’ So distinctive is this word that, in effect, the King James Bible had to invent an English equivalent, the word, ‘hearken.’”

Social distrust is at record highs. Many seem to swerve between cheap, antiestablishment cynicism, on the one hand, and a lemming-like partisan obedience on the other.

The answer is the “hearken” mentality that Sacks describes. This is where Abraham succeeds and Noah fails. Abraham listens deeply to God and derives everything from his identity on down from Him, but pushes out ahead of the shepherd.

To hearken is to be faithful but also responsible, to defer to just authority but also to answer the call of individual conscience, to work within the system but as a courageous, creative force.

Floods are invitations to recreate the world. That only happens successfully when strong individuals are willing to yoke themselves to collective institutions.

I don’t uncritically buy all this, but I will give Brooks an A+ for effort and for a fascinating perspective unlike any I’ve heard before. I suspect I’ll remember it when next I think of Righteous Noah.

4

WSJ Robert L. Bartley Fellow Zachary Wood scores a coup with a longish video interview with Jonathan Haidt.

Increasing sensitivity on the Left and increasing provocation and trolling from the Right makes a very toxic mix.  College is the place to come out of cocoons and listen to the other side for once — maybe the last time — in your life. It would be a good idea for conservative students to stop inviting Milo whassisface, Ann Coulter, and others whose whole schtick is insult and outrageousness and to give their liberal peers a chance to hear actual conservatives with substantive ideas. Real conservatives should support the right of the right-leaning provocateurs to speak only with caveats about the wasted opportunity and the adolescent obnoxiousness of the invitation.

Conversely, it would be a good idea for liberal students to stop pretending that serious scholars like Charles Murray are “white nationalists” or otherwise beyond the pale, and should be no-platformed.

5

Whether here or elsewhere, I have adopted and repeated that sex offenders have extraordinarily high rates of recidivism. That is now hotly contested, and apparently is false. I can only plead that the statistic was so widely believed that it was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, in what may have been the greatest failure of Brandeis Briefing yet exposed to the light. (There will be others to come.)

I did not type the preceding paragraph as an introduction. It was intended to stand alone, and it’s worthy of standing alone. But my morning news perusal almost immediately led me from that video to Ross Douthat’s discussion of Betsy DeVos’s Title IX cleanup, where I was reminded of other fishy statistics that have gained undue credence — statistics about false rape accusations being as rare as unicorns, for instance. Pair this with number 2.

Douthat’s column may be as indispensible as Emily Yoffe’s Atlantic series.

Douthat excerpt:

This combination, the academic gods of sex and money, has given us the twilit (or strobe-lit) scene in which many alleged sexual assaults take place — a world in which both parties are frequently hammered because their entire social scene is organized around drinking your way to the loss of inhibitions required for hooking up. It’s a social world, just as anti-rape activists and feminists have argued, that offers an excellent hunting ground for predators and a realm where far too many straightforward assaults take place. But it’s also a zone in which it is very hard for anyone — including the young women and young men involved — to figure out what distinguishes a real assault from a bad or gross or swiftly regretted consensual encounter.

This reality made many colleges shamefully loath to deal with rape accusations at all. But once that reluctance became a public scandal, the political and administrative response was not to rethink the libertinism, but to expand the definition of assault, abandon anything resembling due process and build a system all-but-guaranteed to frequently expel and discipline the innocent.

But it is also important to recognize that the folly of the campus rape tribunals is not just an extremism isolated in the peculiar hothouse of the liberal academy. The abandonment of due process on campus was encouraged by activists and accepted by administrators, yes, but it was the actual work of the Obama White House — an expression of what a liberalism enthroned in our executive branch and vested with the powers of the federal bureaucracy believed would defend the sexual revolution and serve the common good.

It wasn’t a policy from the liberal fringe, in other words. It was liberalism, period, as it actually exists today and governed from the White House until very recently. And any reader of The Atlantic who experiences a certain shock at what has been effectively imposed on college campuses in the name of equality and social justice will also be experiencing a moment of solidarity with all of those Americans who prefer not to be governed by this liberalism, and voted accordingly last fall.

6

This is a real mystery and a frustration.

I was interested to hear of a … story that ran in the Washington Post about a woman who rejected chemo so her unborn child could live. Of course, you should watch for the faith element in this story.

The headaches began sometime in March. They didn’t think much of them, other than that they were possible migraines – until she started vomiting.

An initial scan showed a mass in Carrie DeKlyen’s brain. More tests showed that it was a form of cancer, possibly lymphoma, but treatable. But a pathology exam revealed a more grim diagnosis. The 37-year-old mother of five from Wyoming, Mich., had glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. If lucky, she could live for five more years.

The tumor was taken out during a surgery in April, her husband, Nick DeKlyen, said. Not even a month later, the couple received two pieces of shocking news. Carrie’s tumor was back – and she was eight weeks pregnant.

Here’s the agonizing choice part, with a hint at faith:

They had two options. They could try to prolong Carrie’s life through chemotherapy, but that meant ending her pregnancy. Or they could keep the baby, but Carrie would not live long enough to see the child.

It was a difficult but obvious choice for the DeKlyens, who live strongly by their faith. After a second surgery to remove the tumor that came back, the couple went home, knowing full well that Carrie had only months left. Thirty-four more weeks. Nick said that’s how long his wife needed to live.

“That’s what she wanted,” Nick said. “We love the Lord. We’re pro-life. We believe that God gave us this baby.”

The story continues on with the horrendous details of Carrie’s last few months and how the amount of fluid produced by Carrie’s brain caused her horrible pain. Then she had a massive stroke and lost consciousness. But the pregnancy was only 19 weeks along.

Finally at 24 weeks, Nick was told the child could be in danger and needed to be delivered immediately. A little girl, named Life and weighing 1 pound, 4 oz., was delivered on Sept. 6. She remains in intensive care. The story ends with this:

Nick dismissed critics who questioned the couple’s decision to put their faith first, saying keeping their child showed his wife’s selflessness.

“She gave up her life for the baby,” he said, adding later: “I just want people to know that my wife loved the Lord. She loved her kids. She put anybody in front of her needs. … She put my daughter above herself.”

The story left me with more questions than answers.

Were the parents part of a denomination that has definite, even ancient, views on abortion and whose stance might have informed the couple’s choice? Did the couple attend a church at all and if so, of what help –- or hindrance -– were its members and pastor during such a momentous decision? The quotes from the couple make it sound as though they are some type of Christian but the story never says. Why is that?

If ever there was a news story absolutely steeped in religion, this was it. How can the press be so utterly uncurious about the details of Nick and Carrie’s faith? Pain is newsworthy, but laying down your life for your child, for love of your Lord, isn’t?

7

Pair this with number 6.

There is an old joke about newspaper headlines: “World Ends: Woman and Minorities Hardest Hit.”

The joke remains fresh: Amid Hurricane Chaos, Domestic Abuse Victims Risk Being Overlooked.

I stumbled across this transcendently excellent and appropriately vicious response from John Scalzi in 2008: The Stupidly Obvious Phrase of the Day.

“The Poor Suffer the Most”

Used, for example, in this news header today in a story about food shortages: “As a brutal convergence of events hits an unprepared global market, and grain prices go sky high, the world’s poor suffer most.”

Really? The poor suffering the most? It’s hard to imagine. Because, you know, usually when there’s a major global crisis of any sort, it’s the poor sitting there on the sidelines, going whew, dodged that bullet. How strange that the people the least economically, socially and educationally able to deal with wrenching change should suffer the most. How odd that the rich should so often be able to shield themselves from the ravages of events. It’s almost as if they have some advantage over poor people, although off the top of my head what it might be escapes me.

Which is not to say that the rich always get off scot free: who among us can forget The Great Davos Lobster Bisque Inconvenience of ’04, in which the victims, none with a net worth of less than $15 million, suffered a small amount of gastric distress due to too much heavy cream in the soup? The poor escaped that with hardly a cramp. Good for them. The poor did have that tsunami that year, though. Killed a couple hundred thousand of them. But in terms of aggregate worth, it all evens out, you see. Intestinal discomfort for the rich, death by wall of water for the poor. Seems fair.

A tip for news writers: it’ll be news when the poor don’t suffer the most. “As the mysterious Billionaire’s Virus decimates Aspen, the world’s stinkin’ rich suffer the most.” That’s a news head worth writing.

Read credible news sources, but always read critically — both at the detailed level and at the “why is this newsworthy in the first place?” level.

* * * * *

“Liberal education is concerned with the souls of men, and therefore has little or no use for machines … [it] consists in learning to listen to still and small voices and therefore in becoming deaf to loudspeakers.” (Leo Strauss)

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

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.