Friday, 11/10/17


  1. Are victims “worse sinners”?
  2. Born in the wrong body?
  3. Disney is the Worst
  4. Fatal myths
  5. The Reactionary Mind (and it’s obsessive mirror image)
  6. Making stuff up about other Christian traditions
  7. Why Flannery Wrote
  8. Martyrs then, Confessors now


“There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent (ἀλλ᾽ἐαν μὴ μετανοῆτε) you will all likewise (ὁμοίως) perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise (ὡσαύτως) perish.’” (Lk 13: 1-5)

(Translation via Sr. Vassa Larin, who also has a meditation on the “likewise perish” part) I think of this passage whenever some blasphemous humbug on TV (“televangelists raking in the money as charismatic superstars, living lavish lifestyles that are anything but imitations of Christ’s vision of servant”) tells us why God punished this place or that, these people or those.

Christ our God is discussing the news events of the day, after some who have come to hear Him report that some residents of Galilee were killed for provoking the Roman occupation forces (vs. 1). They are wondering whether these deaths are actually a punishment from God (vs. 2), a speculation that our Lord flatly rejects (vs. 3). In His answer, the Lord also mentions those who died accidentally when the tower of Siloam collapsed. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time (vs. 4), and thus were not being punished by God.
The Lord Jesus uses these two events to admonish his listeners, then and now, to remember the brevity of human life. The business of every men should thus be repentance (vs. 5). …

Note how the Lord Jesus discourages speculative theology – the effort to discern the outcome of events, the hour of one’s death, or other matters which God has not revealed. Such inquiries are the pastime of fools. The prophets and Church Fathers stand by this point.

The presumption that we can ferret out God’s thoughts is blasphemous. “‘For My counsels are not as your counsels, neither are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘But as the heaven is distant from the earth, so is My way distant from your ways, and your thoughts from My mind’” (Is 55:8-9).

The Christian Faith is not philosophy, but rather communion with God … Let us give up second-guessing God’s will and heed our Savior when He tells us to take up repentance as a way of life, so that we may receive God’s mercy.

(Meditation via Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry) Sr. Vassa also has a meditation on the “likewise perish” part.


From It’s not conversion therapy to learn to love your body: A teen desister tells her story. The desister abandoned gender reassignment, begun at age 14:

What would you say to other girls who think they are boys? Any advice for them?

 There’s nothing wrong with your body. To be straightforward, you will never be male. You will never have a Y chromosome. You will never have a real penis. Stop hurting yourself. Not wanting to be female doesn’t mean you’re really male. Not wanting to be female makes sense when girls are sexualized before we’re ready to even feel sexual, and when people think we’re weak both intellectually and physically, when people don’t take us seriously, when people tell us to smile and be nice.

You weren’t born in the wrong body because that’s not possible.

You were born into a society where looks mean everything. But really our bodies are just what keep us alive. Why don’t we fight back against the idea that any person looks wrong as they are? Your “outside” doesn’t need to “match your inside.” The outside isn’t important enough to hurt yourself over.

Get angry at gender stereotypes. You can dress however you want but that’s called “fashion” or presentation. Your identity should be who you are and the things you do, not what you look like. I have resting grouch face. I don’t need to train my face to look kind or have surgery to make my face look kind, I just have to be a kind person.

You think, how can I act male? There’s no such thing as acting male. Male is a biological sex and you will never be that. Just act like you.

Go outside. Move your body. Make art, do something. Don’t spend time with other people’s stories about self-loathing and self-diagnosis. Stop feeling oppressed when you’re probably not oppressed. I know transitioning can make you feel like you get a lot of control but medically transitioning doesn’t give you power. It just makes someone else money.

Find people to talk to and ask for help if you need it. And find people who will ask you hard questions.

I formerly followed this blog for a while, but this time, it’s H/T Rod Dreher.


Of evil Disney:

… what would any of us miss out on if the 600th bland, undifferentiated comic-book movie came and went without our noticing?

(Matthew Walther, Disney is the Worst)


I’ve been known to practice and foster a form of iconoclasm, finding particular pleasure in unmasking myths.

I take no pleasure, however, in unmasking the myth that “people with mental illness are no more violent than others.” As D.J. Jaffe (author of Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill, and the executive director of Mental Illness Policyexplains, and common sense expects, people with untreated severe mental illness disproportionately perpetrate violent crime (even if depression or anxiety disorders don’t lead to more crime). Jaffe concludes:

Families like mine that have seriously mentally ill relatives are offended by the mental-health industry’s attempts to disassociate itself from the most seriously ill. It makes getting treatment for our loved ones much more difficult and, all too often, impossible. And as the shooting in Sutherland shows, it can also be dangerous — even fatal — for others.

Well, yeah, there’s always that. But it’s also just a politically correct myth (in the popular sense of “lie”). And I say that as someone who has been put in fear from a family member whose serious untreated bipolar disorder got pretty scary when he went manic.


As a political centrist in a sharply polarized time, I’m sometimes asked by progressive friends to recommend contemporary conservatives they should read and wrestle with. Then there are the conservative friends who pose the equal and opposite question: Which writers on the left should I seek out to challenge my assumptions?

My answer is usually Corey Robin.

A blogger, essayist, and political science professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, Robin is the author of an erudite, bracing, and productively infuriating book about conservatives titled The Reactionary Mind

Sometimes it takes the perspective of an outsider — and the sensibility of a synthesizer — to perceive certain foundational assumptions and motives buried deep within an ideology, and this is one of those cases. Robin marshals too much evidence from too many seemingly disparate writers and politicians to dismiss his case entirely. He’s identified something real and important that readers from all points on the political spectrum would do well to take seriously.

But not too seriously.

That’s because Robin’s insistence on treating every conservative as a reactionary is a product of his own highly questionable, one-sided assumptions. The most important of these is the view that political ideas and ideologies should be judged primarily, and perhaps solely, on the basis of whether or not they advance or impede justice understood entirely in terms of egalitarian fairness …

Consider the research of social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who has found that those on the left tend to focus on two aspects of moral experience: avoidance of harm toward others, and a concern for universal-egalitarian fairness. Conservatives affirm the importance of both of these as well, but they add three additional concerns that might be described as hierarchical or aspirational moral ideals: loyalty and the threat of its betrayal; deference to authority and fear of subversion; and the longing for sanctity or purity and aversion to degradation. (Religiously oriented conservatives place special emphasis on the last of these.)

Put in slightly different terms, to the horizontal or egalitarian dimension of morality emphasized by the left, the right adds a vertical dimension that encompasses such moral norms, experiences, and ideals as formality, order, modesty, nobility, piety, rectitude, communal solidarity, private and public honor, and steadfast adherence to standards of right conduct and traditional restraints.

These norms, experiences, and ideals are not unique or novel. On the contrary, they connect conservatives morally to many non-Western and traditional cultures. Viewed historically, it’s the modern left that’s unique in focusing so heavily on the horizontal dimension of morality while directing so much outright hostility to its vertical dimension.

There’s a reason why concern for the vertical dimension of morality is so prevalent throughout human history and so stubbornly (and for Robin, ominously) persistent even within the modern West: because the human experience of the world organically generates that concern.

every human society requires that someone — some individuals, some group, some class — serve as an authority entrusted with the power to govern.

This requirement is woven into the fabric of social life, a product of the inequality of knowledge and wisdom within it. Just as we sensibly defer to the authority of doctors when seeking medical treatment and to pilots when boarding an airplane, so it is perfectly reasonable to recognize that some of our fellow citizens are more worthy than others of deference in political matters — and thoroughly unreasonable to think any political community can get away without such deference.

(Damon Linker)

I have subscribed to Corey Robin’s blog and, as is usual when I first subscribe, got an influx of about 10 of the most recent postings. They’re pretty darned good, and he has a way of cutting to the chase without rambling, excessive copy-and-past block quoting—you know, the kinds of things I don’t do very well. It’s particularly interesting to me when he reflects on what he heard at shul.


I know that a lot of people take John MacArthur very seriously, which I knew because he’s a stock figure at the Babylon Bee and I’ve now confirmed from the Oracle of Cyberspace.  His Calvinism is part of my personal history; indeed, MacArthur is mild compared to some of what I was reading 40 years ago!

But at least once this year, John MacArthur just made lies up. And I suspect that it’s a known and recurring sin:

Hank Hanegraaff has produced a very irenic response to some comments made by John MacArthur in a sermon, apparently a few weeks after Hank’s chrismation. MacArthur says that, during chrismation, “a rag supposedly infused with divine life was placed upon his head, and transferred to him.” Also, “decree 13” from Orthodox “dogma” states “we believe a man to be not justified by faith alone, but through faith which works through love, that is to say, through faith and works.”

You just wonder who makes this stuff up! There is no “rag infused with divine life”–I’ve never even heard of such a thing! I guess that is what happens when people talk to each other, and make assertions, and repeat each other’s assertions, without any contact with the church itself. It’s like a game of “gossip.” At the end, the strangest statements come out.

Also, the idea that there is any list of “decrees,” or that we have an official written statement of “dogma,” ascribes to Orthodoxy a lot more organizational ability than we actually have. There is no list of dogmas in (sic) no decree # 13 ….

(Frederica Mathewes-Green) This was no mere honest mistake. “Rag” was a calculated lie and insult even if nothing else was. He really, to quote Beaver Cleaver, shouldn’t oughta do things like that.

I’ve ceased following Hank Hanegraaff, which I did briefly after his reception into Orthodoxy, though I pray for him because of his cancer (I do hope MacArthur doesn’t hav a blasphemous explanation for that), but here’s the gracious response video (H/T Frederica):

On MacArthur’s second point, about faith and works, his beef is with the Epistle of James, as was Martin Luther’s. But what do expect from a guy who [insert your favorite malicious suspicion about Calvinists or extrapolations from folk  Calvinism]?


[A]fter [Flannery] O’Connor achieved her dreamed-of literary fame and was giving one of her frequent public lectures, a student in the audience asked, “Miss O’Connor, why do you write?”

Her now famous answer was, “Because I’m good at it.”

(Karen Swallow Prior, The College-Age Insights of Flannery O’Connor) Yes, she was good at it.

Image journal has newly published some of her college diaries.


I’ve pretty well concluded that if I want to get wiser, I need to read more wise people, fewer who are merely smart or, worse, clever.

Or so I say after sharing this clever Tweet—which, if you dig just a little, is rather wise, actually.

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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.