Thursday, 10/5/17

  1. Mucking out Mark Driscoll
  2. The Constitution’s little-known “EG Sigma clause”
  3. Flash! Congressman exposed as hypocrite!
  4. Everyone’s wrong?
  5. Enormous Errata
  6. Just sayin’


There are preachers like Joel Osteen who attract constant derision for the sense that “deep down inside, he’s shallow.” His very name is now, basically, a joke. (I am not immune.) He’s also very, very rich. He’s got a Sirius/XM channel like Howard Stern. So it feels like “punching up,” which is roughly “speaking truth to power.” So we can feel real good about it. Right?

Then there are preachers like Mark Driscoll. He’s coming back to polite-ish society — not just starting up another Church (in his corner of the Protestant world, there’s absolutely no one who can forbid it), but he’s getting a blog at Patheos Evangelical. The reactions to him seem not to be derision, but horror. Here, here, here, and (on a lighter, slightly derisive note) here.

Driscoll rose to prominence after I left Evangelicalism. I don’t know whether he should be, in effect, “banned for life” from polite Christian society. But I get the feeling that Evangelicalism hasn’t changed its ways when it comes to credulity about the genuineness of repentance and the appropriateness of return to public life. Some of the stuff that led to his fall (bullying, seeming misogyny, obsession with sex, a potty-mouth) seem to come from an awfully dark and smelly interior place — the kind that’s not mucked out in so short an exile.


I’ve seen the maps of some of the gerrymandered congressional districts, and they are truly bizarre. But Chief Justice Roberts asked a question that’s not easy to answer:

Chief Justice Roberts: “We will have to decide in every case whether the Democrats win or the Republicans win. So it’s going to be a problem here across the board.

And if you’re the intelligent man on the street and the Court issues a decision, and let’s say the Democrats win, and that person will say: Well, why did the Democrats win? And the answer is going to be because EG [the efficiency gap] was greater than 7%, where EG is the sigma of party X wasted votes minus the sigma of party Y wasted votes over the sigma of party X votes plus party Y votes.

And the intelligent man on the street is going to say that’s a bunch of baloney. It must be because the Supreme Court preferred the Democrats over the Republicans. And that’s going to come out one case after another as these cases are brought in every state.

And that is going to cause very serious harm to the status and integrity of the decisions of this Court in the eyes of the country.”

Mr. Smith: “Your Honor—”

Chief Justice: “It is just not, it seems, a palatable answer to say the ruling was based on the fact that EG was greater than 7%. That doesn’t sound like language in the Constitution.” . . .

(Wall Street Journal, emphasis added)


Well, do tell! There’s a pro-life Congressman who’s a hypocrite! He “asked a woman with whom he was having an affair to undergo an abortion, according to a report published on Tuesday by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.” (New York Times)

That some “pro-life” Republicans really aren’t is no news to me, nor to many others, I suspect. If you’re really on fire for the anti-abortion cause, it affects how you speak of it, and a lot of GOP politicians can’t even talk the talk in a way that passes the pro-life Shibboleth screening. By analogy, think of candidate Trump’s “two Corinthians.”

I have personal Shibboleths, too: “Well, I’m Catholic, so you know where I stand” fails. So does “I’m one of nine children, so you know where I stand” also fails.

That’s not why I left the GOP, but it’s one of the reasons I haven’t felt guilty for leaving.


It’s easy for conservatives to see problems with the liberal/progressive opposition to guns, starting with utterance after utterance that demonstrate ignorance of guns even deeper than my own. Hillary’s “imagine he’d had a silencer, which the NRA wants to legalize” comment immediately after the Las Vegas slaughter.

But Franco-American Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry can see the conservative problem, too:

The philosophical tradition of conservatism is inextricably linked to the Christian doctrine of original sin, or a secular version of the same idea — namely the proposition that all human beings are deeply broken at a fundamental level. Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely about human beings, we will also, in general and over time, tend to be more dominated by the lower beasts of our nature rather than the better angels. Hence the need to limit and deconcentrate political power as much as possible, since power corrupts. Hence the skepticism of any sort of central planning or engineering — which will tend to fail because of the corruption, or incompetence, or most likely both, of whoever ends up being the central planner. Hence the respect for tradition, public morals, and strong social ties as necessary — however imperfect — influences to countervail our own worst instincts.

When it comes to guns, however, American conservatives seem utterly oblivious of this insight. When progressives point out that lots of people do lots of very stupid and dangerous things with their guns, there is always a conservative chorus that loudly asserts that somehow this information doesn’t count, since if you use a gun responsibly you won’t hurt yourself or anyone else with it. (Here’s a representative example.) While this is tautologically true, it misses the central conservative insight, which is that people aren’t responsible. Why not legalize all drugs and all gambling, since, if those things are used responsibly, nobody will ever hurt themselves? Come to think of it, if we could all be trusted to exercise moral responsibility at all times, the best economic regime would be communism, since we wouldn’t need the carrot of profit or the stick of market competition to produce whatever goods and services society needs.


Maybe I’m being prissy, but it seems to me that even a crie de couer could avoid such extreme sloppiness:

Corrections: An earlier version of this article stated that associates of the Koch brothers proposed and lobbied Congress to pass the law establishing Puerto Rico’s fiscal control board. There is no evidence of any Koch involvement in the passage of the law. An earlier version of this article also stated that the fiscal control board had reduced the minimum wage in Puerto Rico to 4 dollars an hour. The board did not lower the minimum wage, the governor did. And the governor raised it this year. An earlier version of this article stated that the U.S. Congress imposed austerity measures on Puerto Rico. The fiscal control board established by Congress instructed the commonwealth to work towards balancing its budget. The governor decided what cuts to make.

(H/T Alex Griswold on Twitter)


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“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.