Saturday Potpourri 2

  1. The Spirit of Peace
  2. Pray without ceasing and see the doctor
  3. Almost she persuades me, a skeptic
  4. Always a corrupting enterprise
  5. I do remember — don’t you?
  6. SF passes the law of unintended consequences
  7. The ever-morphing political dinner name game


In recent comments, I was asked what could be done about things that endangered the Church. My response, perhaps not clear at the time, was to say that what can be done is to be the Church. Not even the gates of hell can withstand the Church, according to Christ’s promise. St. Seraphim’s admonition, “Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved,” is deeply frustrating to some. It is taken for a path of “Quietism” in which “doing nothing” is the answer to everything. I have heard this path assaulted particularly by those who want to be more active in evangelism. But if we have not acquired the Spirit of Peace then we actually have nothing to give someone even were they to visit the Church.

In this season of the year, many memes will appear celebrating St. Nicholas’ famous slap of the heretic Arius. That slap did nothing to rebuke heresy. It was St. Nicholas’ mercy and love of the poor that found pardon and support from the Theotokos. Any fool can slap a heretic; only a saint can refute them.

Be the saint. It is our only weapon.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman)


Some people don’t see well, others of us have biologically based “sad.” Our “feels” are not in line with reality. Telling us to cheer up is distinctly unhelpful. Some people get help with medication, but for others of us that doesn’t help very much. What to do?

First, medical problems need medical solutions. Go to the doctor and talk. She has heard it all before now and can look into causes and ways to help. Just as you cannot treat an intellectual problem with pills, so you cannot cure a biological problem with words! Find out the cause of your “sad” and remember that those of us who are not medical doctors plus Google cannot a good diagnosis make.

Ignore the ill-informed “religious” person who forgets that people have bodies. We think with our minds, but our minds use organs to perform. You would not blame or fire the organist if his organ was busted and could not play the notes correctly, so you cannot blame the mind for problems caused by the body!

Can’t God heal? He certainly can. I have experienced divine healing, but God does not always heal us. We know this is true from experience, but certain foolish people forget this when it comes to issues like biologically caused sorrows.

Pray without ceasing and see the doctor.

Second, keep seeing the doctor. Over time your issues may change for good or bad. Keep talking. At some point, if your problems are psychological, see that kind of doctor. A good therapist has training your pal does not. Never ignore spiritual problems either: that is what you have a pastor.  There is nothing better than a good team: medical doctor, psychologist, pastor, and you!

If your church cannot find a place for all these kinds of healers, leave. You are in a zany, fringe group. 

(John Mark Reynolds)


Peggy Noonan makes the best case I, a skeptic, have read that we really have reached a turning point on sexual harassment and that the changes will endure:

This Thanksgiving I find myself thankful for something that is roiling our country. I am glad at what has happened with the recent, much-discussed and continuing sexual-harassment revelations and responses. To repeat the obvious, it is a watershed event, which is something you can lose sight of when you’re in the middle of it. To repeat the obvious again, journalists broke the back of the scandal when they broke the code on how to report it …

What happened during the past two years, and very much in the past few months, is that reporters and news organizations committed serious resources to unearthing numbers and patterns. Deep reporting found not one or two victims of an abuser but, in one case, that of Bill Cosby, at least 35. So that was the numbers. The testimony of the women who went on the record, named and unnamed, revealed patterns: the open bathrobe, the running shower, the “Let’s change our meeting from the restaurant to my room/your apartment/my guesthouse.” Once you, as a fair-minded reader, saw the numbers and patterns, and once you saw them in a lengthy, judicious, careful narrative, you knew who was telling the truth. You knew what was true …

Sexual harassment is not over because sin is not over. “The devil has been busy!” a journalist friend said this week as another story broke. But as a racket it will never be the same.

Still, she closes with three thoughts, each of which suggests to me that we haven’t really “gotten to the bottom of this”:

The first springs from an observation Tucker Carlson made on his show about 10 days ago. He marveled, briefly, at this oddity: Most of the accused were famous media personalities, influential journalists, entertainers. He noted that all these people one way or another make their living in front of a camera.

It stayed with me. What is it about men and modern fame that makes them think they can take whatever they want when they want it, and they’ll always get away with it, even as word, each year, spreads. Watch out for that guy.

Second, if the harassment is, as it seems to me, weirder and more over the top now than, say, 40 years ago, why might that be?

Third, a hard and deep question put quickly: An aging Catholic priest suggested to a friend that all this was inevitable. “Contraception degenerates men,” he said, as does abortion. Once you separate sex from its seriousness, once you separate it from its life-changing, life-giving potential, men will come to see it as just another want, a desire like any other ….


George Will muses on the corrupting influence on education of Division I sports:

In September, an ongoing FBI investigation produced 10 indictments, including those of four Division I assistant basketball coaches (from Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California), and an executive of Adidas, one of the shoe and apparel companies that spend princely sums to have their merchandise worn by college teams. (Under Armour pays UCLA $18.7 million per year.) One assistant coach is charged with accepting bribes to connect an amateur “blue chip” recruit — presumptively NBA material — with a financial adviser.

Seventeen days after these indictments, the NCAA’s anemia was displayed when it said it could do nothing seriously punitive after its seven-year investigation of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, last season’s NCAA basketball champion. UNC administered, for almost two decades, a “shadow curriculum” of 188 fake classes in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies Department. Taken disproportionately (about half) but not exclusively by athletes, the classes required no attendance and only a minor paper. The NCAA — what is its purpose? — concluded that this was beyond its purview: The fraud was academic, not athletic, because some non-athletes also took the courses.

[N]o matter how many ameliorative measures are adopted, this truth will remain: There is no way gracefully — without unseemly accommodations — to graft onto universities an enormously lucrative entertainment industry. We have been warned (by the political philosopher Michael Oakeshott): “To try to do something which is inherently impossible is always a corrupting enterprise.”

(Emphasis added)


I’m always amazed when some famous guy, accused of disgusting behavior, responds that he “doesn’t remember” or “has no recollection.”

Are these Point-Zero-One Percenters:

  • So regularly smashed or stoned that their memories have more holes that a chunk of baby swiss cheese?
  • So regularly assaulting women that they can’t recall whether they assaulted this particular woman on this particular occasion in this particular way?

I have a vague impression that one night in early June, 1968, stone-cold sober but exhausted after a red-eye flight across the Atlantic and awakened from sleep by her arrival, I may have attempted conversation in Spanish with a Portugese hotel housekeeper while dressed in nothing but my underwear. Or I may have dreamed it.

Other than that, I can unequivocally say that I have never gone up to a woman, buried my face in her cleavage, went ‘brrrrr’ and just walked away.

Does that mean I’ve led a meaningless life?


SanFrancisco wants to tax robots that are replacing human jobs:

Over the past few years, San Francisco in particular, and California in general, has increased the cost to hire and train employees at risk of being automated. The minimum wage will rise to $15 an hour in San Francisco in 2018. The rest of California will get there four years later. On top of San Francisco’s hourly wage mandate are requirements for health care, paid leave and employee scheduling.

These added costs give employers with already slim profit margins a strong incentive to automate or embrace self-service. In an interview with Forbes, the founder of a delivery robot company linked his product’s value proposition to a rising minimum wage: “At something like $10 per delivery, the majority of citizens will not use [human delivery]. It’s too expensive.”

The empirical evidence supports the anecdotes: An August study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research linked a rising minimum wage to an increase in unemployment for workers in jobs that require a large number of routine tasks. The authors reported that it wasn’t just service-industry jobs at risk. A rising minimum wage also had a negative effect on job opportunities for older, less-skilled employees in manufacturing.

Instead of spurring self-reflection among advocates for new labor mandates, these consequences have inspired them to propose new laws to solve the problems caused by old ones. Consider the irony: San Francisco voters were promised in 2014 that the minimum-wage initiative backed by Ms. Kim would increase consumer spending by north of $100 million—without affecting employment. Now money from the new robot-tax proposal will be used to offset a reduction in job opportunities, in part caused by the rising minimum wage.

Automation can’t be stopped, and it will change more than the service industry. Earlier this year a PricewaterhouseCoopers report estimated that nearly 40% of U.S. occupations are at a high-risk of automation in the next two decades. But states like California are accelerating the trend by creating labor-cost mandates that exceed the productivity of employees to which they apply. It’s futile to try to resist the downward slope of the labor demand curve. Instead California’s do-gooder legislators should study up on the law of unintended consequences.

(Michael Salesman, San Francisco’s Problem Isn’t Robots; It’s the $15 Wage Floor)



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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.