Friday, 11/17/17

  1. Anthropomorphic theology
  2. What are freedoms for?
  3. Neologism of the century
  4. Who cares if WaPo is out to get Roy Moore?
  5. Observable, empirical reality
  6. Why Roy Moore will win
  7. William Jefferson Clinton, persona non grata
  8. Unethical to have babies?


Although imprecise, we often use anthropomorphic language when speaking about God. Thus, we can say that God is like a mother whose sick child is in need of healing, and is not offended by the child’s sickness. Yet, given the truth that God loves His fallen creatures, we can also say that God is offended by our deliberate turning from the holiness and communion with Him, that we were created for.

Our sickness is a clear sign of the presence of sin, and this sin grieves God. This same God does not merely offer an escape from the eternal bondage of death, but invites us to entrance into life in Christ here and now.

Perhaps we can say that God is scandalized with the state of our soul, like the doctor might be irritated upon hearing the news that his patient has not been taking his prescribed medication. Like the doctor, God has given us a prescription whereby the healing of the darkened nous can begin to take place. Yet our Orthodox Christianity does not hold to the notion that our guilt as sinful creatures translates as punishment for sin, but rather that confession and repentance are seen in therapeutic terms.

We are invited to be restored to His original intent, and reunited with God. In our fallen state, we are invited to be spiritually healed, not sentenced, for salvation is not merely an escape from punishment. God, although He can be anthropomorphically described as a judge, is in reality our physician, and the cure frees us from the eternal bondage of death, and gives us entrance to life in Christ in the here and now.

(Abbott Tryphon)


What are [freedoms] really for? It’s hard for us now to see how the right to purchase a lethal object might damage our freedom in the classical sense, by serving as a temptation easily aggravated by fear or anger. But perhaps it’s easier to see how we seem less free operating on the modern view of the Second Amendment: Parents are buying bulletproof panels for children’s backpacks, and people are visiting psychiatrists complaining of fear, anxiety and dread sparked by random mass killings. The freedom advocated by people like [Bill] O’Reilly certainly isn’t subordinate to the good, and it no longer even appears to reliably add to our overall freedom.

If we’re trying to build a free society for the sake of being free, or so each person can pursue their own tastes, no matter how evil, then we’re doing an excellent job where firearms are concerned — and reaping the results in ghastly headlines. But if we’re trying to build a society in which people are free specifically to flourish and live long and well, to be virtuous and educated citizens engaged in the task of creating lasting peace and greater understanding, then we’re stumbling, and we’ll keep tripping along a bloody path until we can decide what our freedom is for.

(Elizabeth Bruenig, Do we really understand the Second Amendment anymore?)


I’m glad somebody came up with the term “zombie Reaganism” to describe “upper-income tax cuts with no direct help for the struggling working class [plus] a reflexively hawkish foreign policy.” It perfectly captures an important and long-enduring slice of the GOP’s fractal incompetence.


I’m entirely open to the idea that the Post is out to get Moore. But reporters’ motives aren’t nearly as important as people think. The Post was surely out to get Richard Nixon during Watergate; that doesn’t change the fact that Nixon was guilty. During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, many people were out to get Bill Clinton (me included), but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have an affair with an intern and lie about it under oath. The motivations of truth-tellers cannot turn the truth into a lie.

Both the Post’s reporting and victims’ testimony are persuasive for reasons widely discussed. But there’s one point no one has made: If these women were willing to lie, why not go all in and say they were raped, or insist Moore wouldn’t take “no” for an answer? In for a penny, in for a pound, after all.

But perhaps most damning are Moore’s creepy denials. When Fox News host Sean Hannity asked, almost begged, Moore to deny the allegations categorically, Moore was evasive, lawyerly, and weird. If someone asked me if I ever dated teenagers when I was in my 30s, my reply would be “absolutely not.” It wouldn’t be “it would have been out of my customary behavior.” When asked if he remembered dating teenagers, Moore answered, “Not generally, no.” At one point, with barely restrained pique, he insisted, “I don’t remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother.”

That’s an odd thing to say if you never dated teenagers.

(Jonah Goldberg)


When the founders created The Atlantic, they did so with two contradictory impulses. One was to be a magazine that opposed slavery in all its forms, and so you were never going to find a proslavery apology in The Atlantic. Then the founders also wanted to be a big tent, for a place to illuminate and explicate the American idea.

I think what they were saying was: There are certain things that are beyond the pale—the nature of a tent is that it does have flaps. It can be a very big tent, but there’s still something that’s outside the tent. I think we’re in a weird period in American history right now, in which the behavior of a particular president is so outside the norm that we are, sometimes—I’m just speaking bluntly here—we are sometimes interpreted as a liberal magazine simply because we run a lot of pieces that are critical of the ostensibly Republican president.

But as you well know, we publish a lot of people—David Frum, first and foremost—who are dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, and who have serious problems with the way that this presidency is run.

We’re on the side of E pluribus unum. We’re on the side of the Constitution. We’re on the side of dignity in office. We’re opposed to corruption.

Most important, in our self-conception we’re a magazine of the Enlightenment. What I mean by that is that we endorse and believe in the Enlightenment principle that there is such a thing as observable, empirical reality, and that our job is to report on that reality and interpret it. Therefore, the whole fake-news, post-truth moment that we’re allegedly in—we’re the enemy of that.

(Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor in Chief of the Atlantic, speaking in conference call with a group of supporters styled “The Masthead”)

“Observable, empirical reality” is not the only existent thing, but generally it’s a good place to start. It’s a shame that some on both left and right need to hear that.



On progressives incoherently scrambling for high moral ground:


Responding to the fad of saying babies are bad for the environment and that it’s unethical to have them:

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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.