Monday, 11/27/17

  1. The Pagan alt-right’s successes
  2. Preach what you practice
  3. If u support Trump … we can’t be friends
  4. Rapunzel, Rapunzel
  5. Episcopalians
  6. JPII to Dubya
  7. Progressive/Conservative Symbiosis


Starting Saturday, I’ve been chewing on something that seems to get bigger as I chew. One way to describe it is “why the alt-right winning the hearts of young men, bound up with a critique of those who seem uninterested in countering its message instead of just hand-wringing.” I think the group indictment would include me.

No, make that “why a pagan, hypermasculine alt-right is winning the hearts of young white men” (etc.) with Christian men of the servant leader” school unable to respond. It was not Rod Dreher who started me chewing, but this item from him, as to the pagan alt-right, is of a kindred spirit with what did start me chewing, Aaron Renn’s The Masculinist newsletter, which comes by email (specifically, The Masculinist #5).

I’m not ready to write anything big about this for public consumption, partly because I’m steering between the Scylla of self-justification or counter-attack (because I’m human) and the Charybdis of self-accusation (because I’m the kind of man prone to hand-wringing); and partly because there’s a missing piece in the argument that caught my attention: my kind of conservatism is not, I think, palpably insane, as is the progressivist twaddle the pagan alt-right most vehemently rejects, so why can’t we get a respectful look from young men adrift?

It’s a pretty important question.


Another pretty important question Renn raises (The Masculinist #9) is why we upper-middle-class people don’t boldly preach what we practice.

If you don’t agree with me, fine. Promote what you believe to be true. But there are a whole lot of people out there, Christian and non-Christian, who believe one truth – as evidenced by how they are personally living their own lives – but are speaking something different.  This is similar to how Silicon Valley titans market iPads to your kids while heavily restricting their own children’s access to technology.

Things that are true:

  • The vast majority of people are not called to the celibate life, and thus should be married. Marriage is the normative pattern.
  • Marriage is the best place to raise children and single motherhood is inferior in almost every case.
  • People need to treat marriage like finding a job – you have to prepare yourself for it as best you can and aggressively pursue it sooner rather than later.  It doesn’t just fall out of the sky on your head like a meteorite. If you delay pursuing it, it might not be there when you decide you want it.
  • People shouldn’t engage in premarital sex or cohabitate prior to marriage.
  • Relationships are best if they are hypergamic (a woman marrying higher status man – something even strident feminists de facto admit when they say women would not deign to marry down).
  • Traditional sex role divisions work best for most people (not necessarily in an absolute form, but best if the focus is on the husband’s career with the wife more focused on child-rearing, best if husband is generally the leader)
  • A large majority of women want to have children, and will be grieved and distressed if they are unable to do so.
  • Stay monogamous within marriage.
  • Do not divorce in almost every case.

Don’t believe these? Fine, don’t believe them. But I’d point out that other than avoiding pre-martial sex, this describes the actual behavior of large numbers of UMC or better families, like say Barack and Michelle Obama.  If you also scratch off monogamy, it even describes the personal behavior of others like the very successful Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Don’t want to make single people or single mothers feel bad? Fine, do whatever you want to affirm them. Just don’t expect the levels of pre-martial sex and divorce inside your church to ever go down. (And if you think singleness is great and perfectly acceptable, stop yelling at single men that they should “man up” and pursue all those amazing single women in your pews because you’re a fraud).

Before you go thinking that I’m in the tank for Renn’s ideas of masculinity, I’ll tell you point blank that I’m not. He’s a very smart and disciplined guy, but he’s also a relative newbie as a Christian, he’s (wisely) writing as a social critic rather than as a Christian authority (even though his target audience is Christian men—I’m sensing a mixed message right there), and his Christian tradition is Protestant, not Orthodox.

I suspect that he’s got some unspoken premises a well-formed Orthodox Christian would reject were they articulated. I’ve been cramming to try to figure our what those premises are.


New York Times Opinion page writer:

Robert P. George took him to task:

Then, apparently, George caught some flak:

Challenged that he couldn’t know that Trump was merely engaging in political theater, he responded:




At the feet of this idol that you call security, you want to sacrifice all human dignity.

(Pope John Paul II to George W. Bush) I’m not picking on Dubya. JPII probably would have said the same to both later presidents.


* * * * *

“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.