2/37,000,000

A few weeks ago, our old male cat died. I’m not wired to need a pet, but my wife is, so after reading up on cat dander, dander supression and such (we have allergic family members), we adopted a Calico cat, 10 months old, a week ago.

I fear she had lived in cages continuously since weaning, but a week later, she seems to be overcoming her timidity about freedom quite well. Even I, pet-indifferent though I be, can anthropomorphize enough to be glad of that.

The adoption, oddly, got me thinking about death again: Even if I live well beyond my three score and ten (which I’ve already attained, and which longevity I’m striving for at the gym), this young cat is fairly likely to outlive me.

As a religious matter, I’m admonished that mindfulness of death is salutary, and I don’t think I’m being morose about it. One of my favorite homilists spots me by almost a decade, and fairly regularly quips that he “hasn’t got time” for this or that nonsense because his clock is running down (he cranks out new books regularly). I suspect that a similar sense has emboldened me to take on the deathworks in my own small way.

In addition to just reaching our individual “sell-by” dates, unknown to any but God, human beings make themselves deathly sick in various ways, seemingly voluntary but subjectively compulsive.

My personal favorite is gluttony, so once again, I’m using MyFitnessPal to count calories, aspiring to descend from morbid obesity to mere obesity (“try to lose 10%,” says my doctor whose own weight I’ve seen yo-yo over the decades). After that, we’ll see; BMI 30 is a dream of mine.

And then there’s smoking, the all-purpose menace. I got that monkey off my back for good about 35 years or so ago, but I co-suffered with a treasured friend as her chain-smoking husband underwent open-heart surgery and cardio rehab only to be felled by after-discovered metastatic lung cancer, all in the space of 12 months.

If something gives our pleasure centers a buzz, the fear of death seems pretty powerless to stop us repeating it.

Syphilis and gonnorhea used to be the biggies in the sexual realm, yet they continued flourishing until antibiotics knocked them down for at least a while (don’t discount antibiotic resistance).

Still, when oral contraceptives and antibiotics seemed to make random fornication safe, fornication increased, so fear seems anecdotally to play some role, just as it plays a role in getting me away from the table and to the gym.

(Somehow, a whole new array of exotic STDs emerged, as if Someone were telling us “multiple sexual partners is not what you’re designed for.” The Important People drew a different lesson, and admonished us that random fornication wasn’t safe, after all, without good, old-fashioned rubbers. Oh well!)

Those of us who’ve avoided or ceased a particular vice can become unduly censorious about it. C.S. Lewis, drawing an analogy that I only vaguely recall, reminded his readers that the sinfulness of gluttony had never led Christendom to ban the sale of liver pills. Today’s gluttons enjoy the modern version of those liver pills: statins, blood-pressure medications, insulin and milder meds for control of the stuff that raises A1C levels — for each of which I personally am grateful.

So how can I begrudge anyone the emerging miracle of HIV eradication by stem-cell treatments, of which there appear to be two cases so far? Even I, “cisgendered” and hetero though I be, can empathize enough to be glad of that.

But do put them in context:

Scientists are struggling to find a cure for HIV, a virus notorious for hiding in the body and evading attempts to flush it out. Nearly 37 million people have been infected world-wide over the past four decades. While more than 21 million take drugs that keep them alive and reduce the spread, an estimated 1.8 million people were newly infected in 2017.

(Wall Street Journal) Two cures in 37 million cases isn’t  “WOOHOO!!!” just yet.

But it’s a small lifework, though less consequential so far than antiretroviral drugs that merely keep HIV at bay.

* * * * *

You can read my more impromptu stuff at Micro.blog (mirrored at microblog.intellectualoid.com) and, as of February 20, 2019, at blot.im. Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in lifeworks, Sexualia | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A belated anniversary notice

My blog title change, and acknowledgement of the blog’s evolved focus, wasn’t timed this way, but this is, coincidentally, 9 years and 1 day after I began blogging here.

Some things remain the same: I’m still a big fan of Fr. Stephen Freeman.

* * * * *

You can read my more impromptu stuff at Micro.blog (mirrored at microblog.intellectualoid.com) and, as of February 20, 2019, at blot.im. Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in Miscellany | Tagged | Leave a comment

Men thrashing women – a deathwork

“Letting men compete as women simply if they change their name and take hormones is unfair — no matter how those athletes may throw their weight around,” the 62-year-old Navratilova wrote. “[T]he rules on trans athletes reward cheats and punish the innocent.” She added: “It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her.

Athlete Ally’s response was swift and certain:

Martina Navratilova’s recent comments on trans athletes are transphobic, based on a false understanding of science and data, and perpetuate dangerous myths that lead to the ongoing targeting of trans people through discriminatory laws, hateful stereotypes and disproportionate violence.

“First of all, trans women are women, period,” the organization’s statement continued. “They did not decide their gender identity any more than someone decides to be gay, or to have blue eyes. There is no evidence at all that the average trans woman is any bigger, stronger, or faster than the average cisgender woman,

[T]he very existence of women’s sports is predicated, as Martina Navratilova recognized, on the now-highly politically incorrect observation that the two sexes are radically different physically … When biological males and biological females compete with each other on the playing fields, the biological females almost always lose.

For decades feminists have castigated heterosexual men for trying to “erase” women—from history, from society, from political life. But the real erasure of women these days is coming from their fellow progressives. They are being denied their distinctive female sports, their distinctive female bodies, and, ultimately, their distinctive female identities.

Charlotte Allen (emphasis added)

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You can read my more impromptu stuff at Micro.blog (mirrored at microblog.intellectualoid.com) and, as of February 20, 2019, at blot.im. Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in deathworks, Sport, transgenderism | Leave a comment

Farewell, Tipsy

As I have dropped Twitter, cut my Facebook friend list by 85% and added two microblogging platforms (here and here), I find myself using this, my WordPress blog, quite differently.

There’s really no point, for instance, in aggregating ephemera here. Ephemera are moving quickly to blot (especially the political stuff), micro.blog (which has a genial social media aspect) and, in some cases, no further than my private digital journal.

My pseudonymity is now pretty well blown, but I’m retired, and my opinions were always my own, not those of my colleagues.

I wrote to see what I thought, and it has proven clarifying. The contemporary distortions of God’s world around me I now consciously detest as deathworks.

Phillip Rieff, who coined that term to the best of my knowledge,  used it in a somewhat limited sense:

I would add that not all assaults on things vital to sane culture are “art” at all. Some of our social movements, including some that now are regnant, are nihilistic deathworks — some of them consciously nihilistic and subversive. (I alluded to a specific example here, but decided to delete it, perhaps for another day.)

Warring against all deathworks is the urgent task of the hour, and to that task this blog has turned to such an extent that the “Tipsy Teetotaler” title seems anachronistic. Today, I have abandoned it in favor of “War Correspondence.”

The way WordPress works, I think all my past posts will be renamed, too, but I don’t care to try to prevent that. I’m not tinkering with the record any more than I was when I changed my templates over the years.

Postings are likely to become rarer because I’m not a George Will, Charles Krauthammer or Andrew Sullivan, capable of keen scheduled insights. I hope you’ll stay tuned anyway.

* * * * *

You can read my more impromptu stuff at Micro.blog (mirrored at microblog.intellectualoid.com) and, as of February 20, 2019, at blot.im. Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Should a fascist poet be no-platformed?

Courtesy of Alan Jacobs, I found a wonderful essay by Edward Mendelson on a principled dispute between Bennett Cerf and W.H. Auden over Random House banishing Ezra Pound from a revised anthology, in the original of which several Pound poems appeared — that is, in modern parlance, defiantly “no-platforming” Pound.

The essay is multivalent with issues of today, starting with how grateful I am that we have no friends censorious enough to drop us over the name of our late, lamented cat Heidegger, whose namesake (in case you didn’t know) was a consequential philosopher before he was an inconsequential Nazi.

There’s no doubt that today’s progressive callout culture would side with Bennett Cerf’s initial position. My doubt comes in the area of whether they could be persuaded to reconsider, as Cerf did, or whether instead any attempted persuasion would risk getting the would-be persuader banished, too.

But the end of the essay evoked for me my own sentimental forgiveness of Auden’s unrepentant homosexuality (he tried and tried and tried chastity until he stopped trying — or so is my understanding; and yes, that reveals that there’s a callout culture temptation within me, too) based on my sense that his poetry reflected a powerfully Christian imagination despite his sexual irregularities. I think Auden himself would have rejected, and perhaps did reject, such sentiment:

Auden gave much thought to the question of writers “whose works / Are in better taste than their lives,” as he wrote with ironic understatement in his poem “At the Grave of Henry James.” When he wrote to Cerf that he got “very exasperated with the people who argue that Pound should be acquitted or let down gently because he is a poet, which is obviously nonsense,” he was refusing a subtler temptation that he, perhaps like every successful artist, knew from experience. “You hope, yes, / your books will excuse you, / save you from hell,” he wrote in a poem addressed to himself, part of his “Postscript” to a poem about poetry-writing, “The Cave of Making.”

In the same poem, he refused any fantasy that his work justified his faults—the same nonsense that he refused when others used it to justify Ezra Pound. Instead, he sensed, his faults had damaged his work: had he been a better person, he might have written better poems. In print and in private, he seems never to have condemned other writers’ work on the basis of their personal faults. He knew too little about them to judge. But his own self-knowledge led him to imagine a moment when his self and his work would both be subject to judgment:

God may reduce you
on Judgment Day
to tears of shame,
reciting by heart
the poems you would
have written, had
your life been good.

As for my own temptation to judge poetry according to the poet, Auden’s comment to Cerf hints at a cure: “The whole case only confirms my long-held belief that it would be far better if all books were published anonymously.”

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You can read other stuff at Micro.blog (mirrored at microblog.intellectualoid.com) and, as of February 20, 2019, at blot.im, at both of which I blog shorter items. Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly.

Posted in History, Literature, Poetry | Leave a comment

Potpourri 2/22/19

1

“We’re in a cage match,” said Rob Renfroe, a conservative pastor in Texas who believes the denomination should break up. “The loser can’t get up off the mat. The winner is beaten up, bloody, battered.”

Frank Schaefer, a Methodist pastor who was defrocked and then reinstated after officiating his son’s same-sex wedding, is in full agreement. “It’s better for our LGBTQ community if we split,” he said.

… [M]any congregations object to allowing such differences on an issue they consider central to their faith, and are preparing for divorce—and for the disputes over church property that will inevitably follow.

“All of this comes down to money,” said Mandy McDow, the pastor of Los Angeles First United Methodist Church and a supporter of LGBT rights. “If people wanted to leave, they would have left a long time ago, but they would have had to give up their buildings and their pensions.”

Ms. McDow said she would be in St. Louis to see “the great divorce of my denomination. It’s going to be awful.”

Ian Lovett for the Wall Street Journal on United Methodists.

It boggles my mind, and should serve as a cautionary tale about Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, that both sides think the deep integrity of the Christian faith is at stake — especially when one side is thus tacitly condemning 20 centuries of its spirtual ancestors to the status of inferior pseudo-Christians.

But I agree with Mandy McDow. I’ve seen quite a few clergy who waited until retirement to follow their changed convictions into different Christian traditions, and had personal communication with one who was frank about the financial straits earlier “conversion” would put on his family.

I’m thankful that I did not have direct financial ties to the Christian Reformed Church (of course, one tends to do business with people one knows from Church) when, unbidden, my investigation into the falsity of a new Orthodox Church in town persuaded me of Orthodoxy’s truth.

2

Mr. Smollett deserves to be punished for his hoax to deter others. The media’s punishment will be its continuing loss of public credibility.

Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

Yes, but what of us putatively innocent bystanders, who’d like reliable news? Are we deluded about what we really want? Or have the appetites of our countrymen for sensational confirmation of their biases driven legitimate news out of the market?

I caught a few minutes of the CBS national news last night and quickly caught them eliding legitimate issues to fit complex stories into their narrative and their time-per-story constraints.

For instance, they tried to make sure that viewers would “see” a rifle’s crosshairs, oddly placed in the corner of a picture motormouth Roger Stone posted of Judge Amy Berman Jackson, when the lines were way too thick and too long, the placement was certifiably weird if a threat was intended, and the accompanying tweet was a plea for defense funds:

DzthWx-VAAAaYtR

Had I not listened to a legal podcast, All The President’s Lawyers, I probably would have fallen for that spin, for spin it was, becoming one of the semi- and mis-informed with a cartoonish notion of what’s going on, and who the good guys and the bad guys are.

And that’s probably what I am.

It’s impossible to read/view/hear and evaluate all world news at length. The sweet spot is knowing what matters, and that’s probably mostly local news, even as local media sink into insolvency that not even sensationalism can fix.

It may become necessary for local news to get its funding from patrons, not just from readers and advertisers, perhaps on the public radio model. We’re on terra incognita.

3

Should corporations, especially big, megarich ones, be given tax benefits for locating in a city or state? No, actually. They should come in simply as grateful and eager new citizens, especially in a place like New York, since there’s nothing like us. But that is not the world in which we live. In this world politicians are desperate to expand the tax base and brag about creating jobs. Companies can and do press every advantage.

Here is the truth: New York’s progressives weren’t tough, they were weak. They don’t know how to play this game.

You want to be tough and mean, get what you want, and keep those jobs for your constituents? Here was the play:

You don’t unleash the furies and hold hearings where crowds jeer, hiss and chant “GTFO, Amazon has got to go.” You don’t put stickers on every lamp pole saying “Amazon crime.” You don’t insult and belittle their representatives. You don’t become Tweeting Trotsky.

You quietly vote yes, go to the groundbreaking, and welcome our new partner in prosperity. Then you wait. And as soon as the new headquarters is fully built and staffed, you shake them down like a boss.

Peggy Noonan

4

A tax preparer in Russiaville, Indiana declined to do a repeat customer’s return when she showed up with her new “spouse,” also a “she.”

My first thought was that the culprit drew a dubious line. But then I thought back to the days after the Supreme Court littered same-sex marriage onto the nation’s legal landscape. I believe there were pledges circulating to “never recognize same-sex marriage in any way,” which was a tempting bit of proposed civil disobedience and which might fit doing a joint tax return.

The pair was able to get it’s “married filing jointly” return done elsewhere, of course.

In Indiana, there’s no law against what he tax preparer did.

Because her beliefs warrant respect, too, I’m content with Indiana’s status quo, the only argument against which is that it’s vitally important to Corporate America (and some United Methodists, but I digress) that sex trump all countervailing considerations and that we’ll be on its “naughty list” until our laws say so.

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I left Twitter and I’m leaving Facebook, but you can read other stuff at Micro.blog (mirrored at microblog.intellectualoid.com) and, as of February 20, 2019, at blot.im, at both of which I blog shorter items. Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly.

Posted in Journalism, Moralistic therapeutic deism, progressivism, Protestantism, Sexualia, Sundry flakes

Potpourri, 2/20/19

1

Depression is a malfunction in the instrument we use to determine reality. The brain experiences a chemical imbalance and wraps a narrative around it. So the lack of serotonin, in the mind’s alchemy, becomes something like, “Everybody hates me.”

… I know that — when I’m in my right mind — I choose hope.

That phrase — “in my right mind” — is harsh. No one would use it in a clinical setting. But it fits my experience exactly.

  • In my right mind — when I am rested and fed, medicated and caffeinated — I know that I was living within a dismal lie.
  • In my right mind, I know I have friends who will not forsake me.
  • In my right mind, I know that chemistry need not be destiny.
  • In my right mind, I know that weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

I think this medical condition works as a metaphor for the human condition.

All of us — whatever our natural serotonin level — look around us and see plenty of reason for doubt, anger and sadness.

Those who hold to the wild hope of a living God can say certain things:

  • In our right minds — as our most sane and solid selves — we know that the appearance of a universe ruled by cruel chaos is a lie and that the cold void is actually a sheltering sky.
  • In our right minds, we know that life is not a farce but a pilgrimage — or maybe a farce and a pilgrimage, depending on the day.
  • In our right minds, we know that hope can grow within us — like a seed, like a child.
  • In our right minds, we know that transcendence sparks and crackles around us — in a blinding light, and a child’s voice, and fire, and tears, and a warmed heart, and a sculpture just down the hill — if we open ourselves to seeing it.

Fate may do what it wants. But this much is settled. In our right minds, we know that love is at the heart of all things.

Michael Gerson

2

“Merciless sympathy” seems a pretty apt description for some of what we’re seeing in our fractious nation:

Merciless sympathy is how declining to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court is transmuted into callousness toward rape victims, how support for the Second Amendment is recast as contempt for the children killed in Parkland, how doubting the breathless accounts of the Covington Catholic matter becomes racist hostility to an elderly Native American veteran. As rhetorical stratagems go, it is obvious, shallow, and stupid — and therefore effective in the era of Twitter-dominated discourse, in which shallowness and stupidity are weaponized.

Kevin D. Williamson

3

I was unaware that the Trump administration is pressing to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. No sooner was oddity that brought to my attention than I leared that it’s being opposed — in Out! Magazine, of all places — as “part of an old colonialist handbook.”

And moments later, I found the plausible explanation that ties the two oddities together. They’re probably both disingenuous:

The purpose of the Trump administration homosexuality-decriminalization push will be to add another mechanism or justification for regime change, sanctions, wars of choice, and punitive action against countries the military-industrial complex and AIPAC crew don’t like anyway. It will be used to justify action against places like Iran while countries with similar laws and regimes like Saudi Arabia will see no consequences. It’s a “pinkwashing” tool to get buy-in from urban/suburban liberals and “moderate,” bourgeois conservatives. Just watch — soon we’ll be drone-bombing Third World villages …

Nothing the “national security” apparatus in our country does should ever be taken at face value ….

Those ellipses omit some rhetoric that I don’t think Team Trump will use to explain the drone attacks. But I do suspect that the “pinkwashing” intends mostly to mute some Left opposition to more lethal aggression.

Retrace my steps here.

4

The episode unfolded on the morning of Feb. 4 at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Polk County. The boy, who had refused to stand for the pledge the entire school year, had a substitute teacher that day who confronted him when he did not join his classmates.

“Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live,” the teacher asked the boy, according to a statement issued by the teacher and obtained by Bay News 9, a news station in St. Petersburg, Fla.

According to the teacher, the boy, who is black, responded, “They brought me here.”

The teacher wrote that she replied, “Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore I would find another place to live.”

She then called the school’s administrative offices “because I did not want to continue dealing with him,” according to her statement.

A school resource officer with the Lakeland Police Department eventually responded to the classroom and arrested the boy ….

I think I took sanity for granted even before I went to law school. That story, that sub, is insane.

5

For what it’s worth, I’m not certain that the Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse problem is accurately described as ephebophilia, though that’s evocative and closer to the truth than “pedophilia.” I think those who’ve caught on that it’s not pedophilia too easily are deciding “then it must be the other one.”

Basics:

Ephebophilia strictly denotes the preference for mid-to-late adolescent sexual partners, not the mere presence of some level of sexual attraction.

Wikipedia. Do we have any reason to think that molester priests preferred adolescents?

That a gay priest should have his head turned by a remarkably configured 15-year-old boy, or by a hunky seminarian, gives full credit to “we’re just like you except for the objects of our desire.” So long as the hunky seminarian is as appealing as the 15-year-old, I don’t think it’s ephebophilia.

(This ouburst was provoked by a well-meaning example of the hasty “not pedophilia, but ephebophilia” genre.)

6

Coincidence?

A day after California filed a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s emergency declaration on the border, the Transportation Department said it was exploring legal options to claw back $2.5 billion in federal funds it had already spent on the state’s high-speed rail network.

7

U.S. officials revealed last week that a federal grand jury indicted Monica Witt, a former Air Force counterintelligence official, on charges of passing extremely sensitive secrets to agents of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The case highlights how broken the U.S. intelligence system has become. For more than 30 years it has demonstrated an inability to keep secrets, to protect itself from foreign penetrations by hostile spy services, or to prevent current and former officials from defecting.

The result: Brave foreign nationals who risk their lives inside harsh regimes to spy for America are being killed and imprisoned on a significant scale.

I don’t think it would be hard to flip this Wall Street Journal column into, say, an Iranian perspective. See the added emphasis and think about it for a minute.

* * * * *

Follow me on Micro.blog Follow me on Micro.blog, too, where I blog tweet-like shorter items. Frankly, it’s kind of becoming my main blog. If you prefer, those micro.blog items also appear now at microblog.intellectualoid.com. Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly.

Posted in Foreign Affairs, Political Matters | Tagged , , , ,

Clippings and Comments, 2/19/19

1

In the Ralph Northram controversy (medical school yearbook, blackface and Klan costume, just in case you’ve already forgotten), I heard an interesting tidbit on a little-explored backwater of the controversy: who leaked the information about the med school yearbook page?

The answer, apparently, is unnamed, but presumably pro-life, medical school classmates outraged by his defense of what some evocatively call “4th trimester abortion.”

2

[T]he Communist Party and many other outlets feel free to publish strong criticisms of Putin. He is criticized here on a number of other topics, especially what some see as his passive responses to Western aggression. That does not happen in a totalitarian society. If I did not see the news here in Russia, I would judge from Western sources I live in a closed society where no one feels free to criticize the leader. Putin is a strong leader to be sure, but he is no dictator. Dictators silence public criticisms. I would also wrongly conclude Putin enjoys a close relationship with the Communist Party in Russia—or is secretly sympathetic to a return to Communism. A leader wanting to return to Communism does not repeatedly say, as has Putin, that whoever wants Communism restored has no brain. Western publications claiming Putin does not allow dissent in Russia or is a “closet Communist” are not based on actual research of what is written and said here. They ignore or distort both what Putin has written and said and imply contrary views are not allowed …

On a related point, overall I think the news shows here present different sides of most issues more fairly than their U.S. counterparts. I admit surpassing the fairness and objectivity of the American MSM is a very low bar to hurdle. In news talk shows here a number of perspectives are heard. They even have an American journalist, Michael Bohm, who usually takes the pro-American perspective on major international stories on one of the main news programs. Can you imagine a major news talk show in America allowing a knowledgeable Russian to explain freely the Russian “side” of the news?

Hal Freeman, an American expatriate in Russia. You might want to do a reality check on your Russia fears.

3

Data points:

  • As of 2017, acceptance of gay marriage is now stronger among American Muslims than among white evangelical Christians.
  • Two new Muslim congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, are conspicuously pro-L.G.B.T.Q.

You might want to reality-check your “creeping Sharia” fears, too.

The Economist had a major series on Islam in the West February 16. From what I’ve read so far, it’s consistent with this.

4

More from American expatriate Hal Freeman:

When I was 18 years old I joined the U.S. Marines … John Bolton wasn’t willing to do what I and thousands of young men were willing to do, but he and others in leadership are still sending young men and women to such places. I detest both the hypocrisy and the casual way leaders and politicians are eager to send Americans to risk their lives for what turns out to be political posturing and arms sales. Dying in Afghanistan or Syria will not ensure the security of the American borders or the American way of life. In my youthful naivete, I was willing to risk my life for my country. Knowing what I know now, I’m not willing to risk my children.

5

First, the issue of human sexuality has become the most pressing issue for the church of our generation. This is not to say that it can be divorced from other crucial issues, say, of mission, ecclesial identity, ministerial orders, executive authority, epistemology, and the like. Nor it is to say that everyone would agree that it is the most important issue facing the church. We can all provide our own list of items on this score; for me, it would not be at or even near the top of my concerns. However, the crowbar of civil and church history in the West has sidelined ecclesial debates about ancillary matters. Human sexuality has become the issue of our time and anyone who cares about the future of the church cannot ignore it.

William J. Abraham, In Defense of Mexit, on the impending rending of United Methodism.

6

There’s something touching about a widow of the Aurora, Illinois factory shooting being too emotional to talk to the press about her husband, and about her Facebook postings to which the press thus must resort.

I’m probably on shaky ground here, but I find it faintly creepy when people similarly bereaved are eager to share it with with total strangers through media ghouls. And, of course, their loss gives them no special expertise with which to browbeat the rest of us.

7

This Day in History: Former Vice President Aaron Burr is arrested for treason. Quite good.

8

Don’t assume that events in Venezuela are spontaneous.

* * * * *

Follow me on Micro.blog Follow me on Micro.blog, too, where I blog tweet-like shorter items. Frankly, it’s kind of becoming my main blog. If you prefer, those micro.blog items also appear now at microblog.intellectualoid.com. Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly.

Posted in Abortion distortion factor, Foreign Affairs, History, Islam, progressivism, Protestantism, Russia, Sexualia, war | Tagged , ,

Clippings & Comments 2/17/19

1

One thing we must not allow ourselves to forget: Our “rising tide” did not “lift all boats.”

That’s a major reason we got Donald “Wake Up Call” Trump as President of the United States. He got that, and at least pretended to care.

2

Joshua Gibbs, a classical educator, has taken to a sort of Socratic Dialogue form of late in his blogging:

[Gibbs:] Children have common sense and knowing that Jackson Pollock’s art is no good is simply a matter of common sense. It’s just a lot of painted scribbles. The same kind of common sense informs little children that two women cannot marry each other and that eating an entire birthday cake will lead to a stomach ache. On the other hand, children have terrible taste, which means they think Thomas Kinkade and Bratz dolls are interesting. You have got to train them out of that kind of delusion by showing them things of real beauty, and a thing of real beauty can be appreciated by bishop and child alike. If I want to tell my children that Bratz dolls are ugly, I cannot, in good faith, tell them that Jackson Pollock is good.

McLaren: How can you decide whether an idea should be taken seriously until you’ve heard it out? Until you’ve engaged with it?

Gibbs: Here’s what I want you to do, McLaren. I want you to drop this argument, abandon your position, accept my position, and never mention it again.

McLaren: (laughing) Absolutely not. Why should I? That kind of power move is typical of—

Gibbs: See? You also believe some ideas are so absurd they can be blithely dismissed with a laugh. You rejected my idea without hearing my explanation, then moved into an accusation.

McLaren: That’s because your request was absurd!

Gibbs: No more absurd that treating a lot of splattered paint as legitimate art.

[Gibbs:] An idea is taken seriously when time and space are given for the careful explanation of that idea, and when those hearing the idea ask probative questions to make sure they have rightly understood the idea. An idea is taken seriously when those listening to the idea hear with sympathy, interest, and attempt to discern both the discreet inner-logic of the idea, but also the way in which the idea rhymes with the world and underwrites the harmony of created things. A idea is taken seriously when it warrants a patient and reasonable response … An idea which has lasted deserves to be taken seriously, as do ideas which are held by many kinds of people. Ideas which have prompted great acts of charity, ideas which have proven rallying points for the pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness deserve to be taken seriously. Ideas which are staked in common sense, reason, and intuition deserve to be taken seriously.

Must We Treat Every Bad Idea With Respect And Patience?


Student: I meant that so far as the spirit goes, everyone is different. No two souls are the same.

Gibbs: Classical educators are not terribly interested in the ways that everyone is different. That is a mantra of public school educators. Classical education is interested in virtue, in the human things, in transcendent things, in divine things. All people need to love God, love what is good, and hate what is evil

Student: Is it not insulting to claim that all people are the same?

Gibbs: I didn’t say that all people are the same. I simply claimed that classical educators are far more interested in what human beings have in common than in what makes each human being distinct. Every one of my students is unique, but the uniqueness of each student has very little influence over how I govern my classroom or deliver my lectures.

Student: Why not?

Gibbs: Because a classical education is about growing in virtue, not self-fulfillment or self-discovery. “Don’t be yourself. Be good.” You’ve heard me say it a hundred times before.

Why Do We Have To Wear Uniforms? (emphasis added because I’m in love with classical education)


If your faith is strong, it doesn’t need a challenge. If your faith is weak, it cannot stand a challenge. I simply don’t see why anyone should seek out a challenge to their faith.

Should I Go To Public School To Challenge My Faith?


I believe Rousseau was often wrong, but he was gloriously wrong. Classical schools borrow one of their great rallying cries from Renaissance schools, and that is, “Ad fontes,” which means, “Back to the sources.” To understand what things are, we must know where they come from. Rousseau is one of the great architects of modern thought; encountering the modern spirit in its nascent form allows us to see the philosophy and theology which underwrites our own world. A classical education assumes students want to know the hidden causes of the world, and to discern those causes, we must dig. So Rousseau was wrong, but he was wrong with style, with clarity, with poetry, and he persuaded millions.

Should We Replace Rousseau And Augustine With John Piper?

I left the Protestant world so long ago that I don’t know who John Piper is, but apparently he’s widely considered a pretty solid guy — no Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker or Benny Hinn.

3

Words are a president’s strongest weapon. Trump is terrible at words.

I saw this yesterday and thought it was a pretty succinct summary. Now I’m wondering of just what it’s a summary.

The author seems to think Trump will turn to will and force, failing persuasion.

I now wonder whether Trump supporters mean something like this when they tell us to watch what he does, not listen to how he describes it (tacitly admitting how inarticulate he is).

4

Freddie has a few pointed thoughts about Amazon pulling out of the New York City deal. He uses some naughty words.

5

Clarissa, an immigrant, publishes occasionally on her Merited Impossibility blog, the title of which is obviously inspired by Rod Dreher’s Law of Merited Impossibility: “It’s a complete absurdity to believe that Christians will suffer a single thing from the expansion of gay rights, and boy, do they deserve what they’re going to get.

Sunday, she muses about parents who move heaven and earth to conceive children and then abandon them to the electronic Nanny.

6

When it comes to hate crime hoaxes, the Reichstag fire is eternal.

Rod Dreher, noting that no apologies have come forth yet from those who swallowed Jussie Smollet’s hate crime (likely) hoax hook, line and sinker.

For such counter-hegemonic thinking, Dreher’s blog was banned from Facebook at least for a while.

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Follow me on Micro.blog Follow me on Micro.blog, too, where I blog tweet-like shorter items. Frankly, it’s kind of becoming my main blog. If you prefer, those micro.blog items also appear now at microblog.intellectualoid.com. Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly.

Posted in Arts and Music, Capitalism, Damn rackets, Economia, Education, Protestantism

Clippings, 2/16/19

1

If you subscribe to First Things, don’t miss Baptism of Blood in the March edition. If you don’t, save the link for 30 days or so and the paywall will drop:

[W]hen they saw the video and knew with certainty what had happened, their confidence returned: “We now have a holy martyr in heaven, so must rejoice—nothing can harm us anymore.”

Which explains why the families handled the video with a complete sense of ease. There was an iPad in every household on which one could watch the full-length, uncut, unedited video. Malak’s mother was the only one who refused to look at the screen, while all her family’s young men, cousins, and brothers stared at it, apparently undisturbed, pointing out the men they recognized, as they had often done. There could have been no better place to watch the video—surrounded by the men’s families and runny-­nosed children, in rooms adorned with images of the crowned Twenty-One …

What would the murderers say about their video being shown like this? Would it surprise them to see how unflappable these simple-minded, poor folk were? Would they be able to see that their cruelty had failed to achieve the intended goal, and that their attempt to intimidate and disturb hadn’t succeeded?

Written of the families of the 21 Coptic Martys, beheaded by Muslim terrorists on a beach in Libya, and referring to a terrorist propaganda video of the rehearsed slaying. I immediately acquired an Icon of these Holy Martys and made it a point to join Copts in Matins and Liturgy two years ago.

(First published in micro.blog)

2

America Is Torn Between Trump’s Fibs and Progressives’ Fantasies.
The president is a master of little lies, but the left rejects the big truths that sustain politics and culture.

The problem with such a headline is that one may merely shake one’s head in vigorous affirmation without reading it:

My father … served for many years as an aide to Gov. and later Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. One night in 1979, he announced Rockefeller’s death before the television cameras. He thought it his duty as a gentleman to lie about the circumstances, and he never got over the shame of that lie.

Mr. Trump works with huckster falsehoods—the flashy superlatives of a car salesman. The progressive left works with conceptual falsities. Voters in 2020 will decide which style of lies they prefer.

Mr. Trump composes his reality after the manner of a Renaissance painter’s pentimento, except that he works at the speed of Twitter , making adjustments as circumstances shift. He slaps new paint over old facts when they become inconvenient. Mr. Trump’s abuses, he and his followers believe, somehow come right by coalescing in a larger truth—the mythic America that radiated from my father’s old Saturday Evening Post and came to its apotheosis in the Neverland of Dwight Eisenhower’s 1950s.

The progressive left embraces new visions of perfection—tamer in its methods than its 1930s predecessors, but sometimes outdistancing them in the fusion of dogmatic correctness with a fairly advanced decadence. Progressives are busy reinventing the Kingdom of God on Earth, trying to make their version as different as possible from his. They contrive elaborate new genders, for example—ones the deity didn’t think of. They invent vocabularies, terms ecstatic and bristling—“cisgendered,” “heteronormative,” “intersectionality”—designed to bully reality into compliance.

Their version of the kingdom mixes hopes of social justice with sexual nullifications and revenge fantasies. In my mother’s time, the far left in its dreams crushed capitalism and ushered the workers into paradise. Today they sweep white civilization and toxic males into the dustbin of history.

3

It was also exhilarating to see a congresswoman confront a figure who has pleaded guilty to misleading Congress before, and who helped cover up and minimize the slaughter of more than 800 civilians, including children, in El Mozote, El Salvador … [T]hat Abrams would go before the House and not be called to account for his past record would be an outrage. Making the powerful uncomfortable is what the Congress is supposed to do.

Now look at [Congresswoman Ilhan] Omar. She didn’t just push back on AIPAC’s distortion of American foreign policy, she reiterated a classic anti-Semitic trope that American Jews buy influence, period. She didn’t just confront Elliott Abrams, she refused to let him answer anything but loaded “yes” or “no” responses. And last week, for good measure, she demanded an investigation into the decision by USA Powerlifting to ban transgender women from competing in women’s powerlifting contests, because of the unfair advantage that developing a male body for most of your life will give you in lifting weights. The organization instituted the ban after a young trans woman, JayCee Cooper, smashed the state record for women’s bench press in Minnesota, beating her nearest female rival by a mile, only a year after joining the sport.

If the Democrats want to fight the next election on the need for a radical rebalancing of the economy in favor of the middle and working class, for massive investment in new green technology, for higher taxes on the superrich, and for health-care security for all Americans, they can win. If they conflate those goals with extremist rhetoric about abolishing everyone’s current health insurance, and starting from scratch, as the Green New Deal advises, not so much. If they insist that men and women are indistinguishable, that girls can have penises and boys can have periods, as transgender ideology now demands, they’ll seem nuts to most fair-minded people.

Are they really capable of fucking this up once again? The answer that is emerging in the first months of the new Democratic House is: of course they can.

Do not miss Andrew Sullivan’s Friday offering, on a single topic for a change. He had me howling in laughter at the hapless progressives, but then brought me crashing back to earth.

I won’t spoil it for you.

4

Socialism is … more frequently praised than defined because it has become a classification that no longer classifies. So, a president who promiscuously wields government power to influence the allocation of capital (e.g., bossing around Carrier even before he was inaugurated; using protectionism to pick industrial winners and losers) can preen as capitalism’s defender against socialists who, like the Bolsheviks, would storm America’s Winter Palace if the United States had one.

Time was, socialism meant thorough collectivism: state ownership of the means of production (including arable land), distribution and exchange. When this did not go swimmingly where it was first tried, Lenin said (in 1922) that socialism meant government ownership of the economy’s “commanding heights” — big entities. After many subsequent dilutions, today’s watery conceptions of socialism amount to this: Almost everyone will be nice to almost everyone, using money taken from a few. This means having government distribute, according to its conception of equity, the wealth produced by capitalism …

The “boldness” of today’s explicit and implicit socialists — taxing the “rich” — is a perennial temptation of democracy: inciting the majority to attack an unpopular minority. This is socialism now: From each faction according to its vulnerability, to each faction according to its ability to confiscate.

George Will. I hope Rod Dreher will take to heart this equivocation before he actually names his forthcoming book “Cultural Socialism” — a title so wrong on so many levels that I don’t know where to start.

5

Former representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas is experiencing a … sudden star turn. It’s easy to see why so many are attracted to him. He’s young (46), charismatic, has a beautiful family and appeals to a cross-section of Americans. But something about him seems manufactured. A leaner, lankier version of two likely role models, Bobby Kennedy and Barack Obama, his practiced performances tend to make one wish for the real McCoys. With unmistakable echoes of Obama’s cadences and Kennedy’s mannerisms, O’Rourke seems to have been created by an artificial intelligence that was informed by polls and demographic projections.

Kathleen Parker

6

Yes, Moscow Boosts Western Anti-Imperialist Voices. So What?

As we discussed recently, there will necessarily be inadvertent agreement between Russia and westerners who oppose western interventionism, because Russia, like so many other sovereign nations, opposes western interventionism. If you discover that an American who opposes US warmongering and establishment politics is saying the same things as RT, that doesn’t mean you’ve discovered a shocking conspiracy between western dissidents and the Russian government, it means people who oppose the same things oppose the same things.

If you really listen to what the CNNs and Ben Nimmos and Washington Timeses are actually trying to tell you, what they’re saying is that it’s not okay for anyone to oppose any part of the unipolar world order or the establishment which runs it. Never ever, under any circumstances. Don’t work for a media outlet that’s funded by the Russian government even though no mainstream outlets will ever platform you. Don’t even subscribe to an anti-establishment subreddit. Those things are all Russian. Listen to Big Brother instead. Big Brother will protect you from their filthy Russian lies.

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Follow me on Micro.blog Follow me on Micro.blog, too, where I blog tweet-like shorter items. Frankly, it’s kind of becoming my main blog. If you prefer, those micro.blog items also appear now at microblog.intellectualoid.com. Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly.

Posted in Declinism, grievance mongering, Orthodoxy, Political Matters, progressivism, realignment, Russia, war | Tagged , ,