Plus ça change …

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose:

A recent story about Leonard Leo, who advises the President on judicial nominees and is connected to the ascent of judges such as Kavanaugh, was even more hysterical. The author worried about a “secretive network of extremely conservative Catholic activists” who are stacking the federal courts with conservative jurists. Leo’s membership in the Knights of Malta, his public work in defense of religious freedom around the world, and his connection to Catholic-educated nominees such as Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, all caused the author to fret that Leo is “shaping the federal judiciary according to his beliefs, with very clear ideological consequences.” The article asserts that the conviction that human life begins at conception is a religious belief. And it laughably attributes to Catholics the view that natural law “trumps any secular law that humans (or legislatures) might dream up.”

The American tradition of constitutionalism abhors inquiries into the particular creeds espoused by candidates and nominees for public office. The Constitution of the United States prohibits religious tests. And anyway, religion is not the issue. Fidelity to the rule of law is what matters. Anyone can determine to follow the law, even Senators Feinstein and Durbin.

There is no reason to think that someone who accepts on faith the teachings of the Bible or the Roman Catholic Church is any less capable of correctly interpreting and applying the law than someone who accepts on faith what scientists tell us about global warming. Faith in something must precede reason—at the very least, faith in reason itself—else we could never know anything.

Adam J. MacLeod, Why Judge Kavanaugh’s Religion Should Be an Issue.

The other liberal complaint is that since the Catholic position on abortion is religiously derived, if it ultimately becomes law, that constitutes an imposition of religion. This argument is nonsense, too. Under American concepts of political pluralism, it makes no difference from where a belief comes. Whether it comes from church teaching, inner conviction or some trash novel, the legitimacy of any belief rests ultimately on its content, not on its origin. It is absurd to hold that a pro-abortion position derived from, say, Paul Ehrlich’s overpopulation doomsday scenario is legitimate but an anti-abortion position derived from scripture is a violation of the First Amendment.

Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, March 23, 1990 (part of his collection Things That Matter).

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The waters are out and no human force can turn them back, but I do not see why as we go with the stream we need sing Hallelujah to the river god.

(Sir James Fitzjames Stephen)

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

(Philip K. Dick)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes. Where I glean stuff.

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Culture war update

My posting that used my spiritual doppelganger Frank Schaeffer as a launching pad was in the works for several days, but coincidentally, the AOI blog featured Schaeffer’s odd behavior as its centerpiece just a day later.

I underestimated the depth of the problem, having only sampled what Schaeffer offers to wallow in. There’s something seriously wrong when an Orthodox Christian of Schaeffer’s reported status can write this generally and this in particular:

The [Manhattan] declaration was the brainchild of a far right Reconstructionist extremist, Roman Catholic scholar, Robert P. George. George is a Princeton University professor of jurisprudence and probably the most influential Reconstructionist thinker to try to derail our democracy … Of course George would disavow being called a Reconstructionist. Rather he would claim he’s an advocate of the so-called Natural Law school of Roman Catholic theology.

Well, yes, Frank: George would deny being a Reconstructionist. Because he isn’t one. And he’d claim the Natural Law mantle. Because it fits.

And if you don’t know that, I’ve got bad news for you: you’re an idiot. (Shall I write that slower? You. Are. An. Idiot.)

Or as George put it:

I remember meeting him [Schaeffer] only once. Admittedly, it was a memorable experience. We were on a panel together at Princeton discussing contemporary politics in the midst of the 2008 presidential election. I knew nothing about the man, but he immediately struck me as an odd and, frankly, somewhat creepily emotive character who, as they say, “had issues.” He seemed pathetically desperate to be important or, at least, to be regarded as important in elite intellectual circles. I’ll leave it to the psychiatrists to decide whether this had to do with his being reared by fundamentalist Christian parents, a fact which, for some reason, he insisted on making a very big deal out of in his remarks. His speech was an emotional tirade that was perhaps the most self-referential piece of oratory I’ve ever heard. It was, you see, all about . . . him! We were supposed to be talking about the election, but what the audience got from Frank Schaeffer was autobiography—an account of the life and deeds of Frank Schaeffer. (Evidently, he was once himself connected to those dreadful right-wing fundamentlists until he “realized just how anti-American they are,” which led him to forums like the the Rachel Maddow Show and the Huffington Post where he warns the Enlightened about the nefarious plans of his former comrades in arms “to derail democracy.”)  It was so painfully embarrassing that even people on his side (that would be the pro-Obama side) were rolling their eyes to make clear to the rest of us that they found his behavior as peculiar and embarrassing as we did.

Schaeffer once said Orthodoxy was his last stop in Christianity – as if he’d apostatize entirely if Orthodoxy didn’t suit him. So as a litany in the St. Ambrose Prayer Book has it:

On those who at this moment are in danger of losing Thee forever, Lord have mercy!