November 1, 2022


I’m almost fully readjusted to my home time zone after almost two weeks 7 hours to the East.

My overall “secular” impression of my past two weeks in the Holy Land: if you really want to see a lot of authentic sites, important to the historic (i.e., pre-Reformation) Church, bring good shoes, socks (a pair of Ecco walkers and a second of Mephistos, worn with Wright Socks, kept me blister-free, but didn’t prevent mildly turned ankles), walking stick, and be prepared to walk over a lot of very uneven rubble and pavers that have heaved over 1500-2000 years. Even the Church of Anastasis (a/k/a Holy Sepulchre) isn’t entirely safe for those, like me, of unsteady gait and poor balance.

Also, don’t miss the sacred sites in current Jordan, which astonished me in how successful it has been chasing Mammon. (It feels surprisingly like the U.S., especially in Amman.)

Oh yeah: everybody seems to smoke almost everywhere.

And I’m ready to eat me more pig.

As for the religious impression, words fail me. I got on this trip a strenuous Christian pilgrimage. “Pilgrimage” sadly was not my experience on a prior trip, which had a much different emphasis than vereration of holy places. In contrast, we had an appropriate Gospel reading at site after site. We attended a very early-morning Orthodox Christian liturgy a few feet away from the birthplace of Christ in the crypt of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and a Sunday liturgy at the Tomb of the Theotokos. I venerated the place where Christ’s body lay for three days before He rose from the dead at the Church of the Resurrection (a/k/a Church of the Holy Sepulchre).

An unexpected stunner was an exhibition on the Shroud of Turin. I followed the Shroud just enough to have come around to a presumption that it was authentic. But someone took all the marks on the shroud, showing the multiple flogging/flaying wounds on He whom it had wrapped, and created a bronze figure:

If someone can find words adequate to that, they are better wordsmiths than I am.

I’m glad I went, but I fear that age has caught up with me to the point that I’ll not go again.

I’ll probably post more pictures when I get them sorted out.

Sensible change

England’s National Health Service outlined a new clinical approach earlier this month, issuing an interim service specification that says most pre-pubescent children experiencing gender incongruence—feeling their gender identity doesn’t match their biological sex—are experiencing a phase that “does not persist into adolescence.” The NHS announced plans to close the United Kingdom’s only gender-identity clinic dedicated to children this summer after an independent review found problems including insufficient record-keeping and an “unquestioning affirmative approach.” It will stand up regional centers instead, but reportedly will take a more cautious tack when treating minors’ gender dysphoria and ban the use of puberty blockers in minors outside of clinical trials.

The Morning Dispatch

Attacking with whatever’s handy at the moment

I will first go back to before the Ukrainian crisis to the election of Donald Trump in 2016 as an example of what I mean. Many people recall John McCain saying, “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country.” President Barack Obama, in his last press conference as President, said Russia could not “change or significantly weaken the U.S..” He said compared to the U.S., “Russia is a smaller and weaker country.” He continued that Russia doesn’t produce anything anyone wants except gas, oil, and arms.

These kinds of statements were what one typically heard about Russia in those days. Russia’s economy was said to be no bigger than that of the state of Texas, and its GDP was miniscule.

Yet, after Donald Trump was elected President, we were told, “Russia did it.” It was as if Putin directed the election of the president of the United States from his Kremlin office. How does a man whom they had said runs a small, weak, “gas station” kind of country control the results of the election of someone to the highest office in the country that claims to be the most powerful on earth? Now, the Mueller Report indicated there was no proof that Russia interfered, but my point is that we had been hearing how weak, small, and economically insignificant Russia was, and then almost all of the mainstream press quickly turned and joined the politicians who said Russia had covertly changed the course of American history. If one holds to both those understandings of Russia some explanation is definitely needed. Otherwise, this is cognitive dissonance on a national level.

Hal Freeman, lightly reformatted.

A marriage that cannot last

[T]here is a fundamental incoherence in an alliance that requires affirmation of the gender binary in the L, the G, and the B whilst emphatically denying it in the T and Q.

Carl Trueman

Affirmative action

The old-style defenders of racial double standards still say they aren’t racist.  Since racial double standards are by definition racist, that’s been a hard line to peddle.  The new line is that they are racist, but in a good way:  Because only racism against whites can remedy the effects of past racism against blacks.

Since this view is relentlessly drummed into the ears of the young – and since few of them have ever been taught the ancient doctrine that justice is giving to each person what is due to him, or the sacred principle that we may never do evil for the sake of good results — perhaps it is not surprising that many of my students find the theory of good racism plausible.

J Budziszewski

Marriage in America

Gay marriage is a luxury good in our society, largely the province of professional men and women. Meanwhile, among Americans without college degrees, marriage is collapsing.

Public health officials scratch their heads, trying to explain the extraordinary decline in life expectancy in the United States, a shocking trend for a country so rich. Their captivity to progressive ideology makes them invincibly ignorant. They cannot acknowledge the obvious truth, which is that isolated, disoriented individuals deprived of the norms that would guide them toward marriage and family have dim prospects. They are more likely to stumble through life and engage in self-destructive behavior.

R.R. Reno

Intelligence, thoughtfulness, and the career they foreclose

The woke takeover of the establishment is so complete that “if you are an intelligent and thoughtful young American, you cannot be a progressive public intellectual today, any more than you can be a cavalry officer or silent movie star.” Every thought on the left is scripted, monitored, and policed. As Lyons observes, “In contrast with this oppressive decadence . . . the dialectic of the countercultural Right crackles with irreverence and intellectual possibility.”

N.S. Lyons Lyons citing Michael Lind and quoted by R.R. Reno

[S]ubordinating truth to politics is a game which tyrants and bullies always win.

Jonathan Rauch, The Constitution of Knowledge

The Orthodox "phronema" [roughly, mind-set] cannot be programmitized or reduced to shibboleths.

Fr. Jonathan Tobias

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Good, profitable, dirty fun

On Fat Tuesday, 1988, I was in Boston for a Technology in the Practice of Law conference. (I was a very techy lawyer, relatively speaking: I traveled with my TRS-80 Model 100 for real-time notes and an NEC Multispeed HD 15-pound luggable for post-processing those notes, transferred by serial cable.)

I went out walking in the not-too-chilly coastal March evening, and was impressed by the number of pious college boys retching and relieving themselves in the alleys after doing their darndest to get into the True Spirit of Lent. I’m sure all of them got their ashes the next day and abstained from vice for the next 46 days.

I don’t care to see how far N’Awlins outdoes Boston, and I sure don’t plan ever to contribute to Brazil’s $1.8 billion annual tourist trade by doing Carnival, especially as I might get some sprayover golden shower on me.

A few principled Brazilian politicians — pecksniffs if you’re Bloomberg’s South America correspondent — took some issue with the “cherished, if hedonistic and boozy, cultural institution” (New York Times), whose justification is the riches that pour into Brazil from tourists less repressed than I.

There is something of the deathworks in Carnival, it seems to me, but I’ll let that go.

There definitely is something of the deathworks in the Bloomberg correspondent’s take on the Mayor who expressed some disapproval in advance and pulled some public funds:

Brazil as usual was on fine-feathered display during this year’s Carnival, the rolling street party that captures this nation at its irreverent best

Rio’s Carnival is Brazil’s signature holiday, the premier attraction for international tourists, and a vitamin jolt for a city still staggered by three years of economic prostration.

Rio pulls in 30 percent of the 6.78 billion reais ($1.8 billion) in tourist revenue that Brazil is expected to generate this year, according to a study by the National Confederation of Goods, Services and Tourism. So skimping on Rio’s carnival is shortchanging Brazil. “Crivella doesn’t understand the difference between his private beliefs and his public role,” anthropologist and noted carnival scholar Roberto DaMatta told me. “As mayor he’s part of Carnival’s cast.”

(Emphasis added)

“Irreverence,” the mocking of holy things, is good business, you see, and the Mayor of Rio is derelict in his duty if he doesn’t bow to the new gods of debauchery once per year on the new high anti-holy day.

Surely I’m overreacting, you may say. Well, judge for yourself, from the New York Times description:

As millions of Brazilians enjoyed the last few hours of Carnival, Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right president, denounced what he said was the debauchery of the festivities, and posted a video on Twitter that he presented as graphic proof.

“I don’t feel comfortable showing this, but we have to expose the truth so the people can be aware,” the president wrote alongside a video he posted that showed one man urinating on another in public. “This is what many street parties during Carnival have turned into.”

The video shows a man, wearing a black jockstrap, dancing on what appears to be a bus stop. At one point a second man urinates on the head of the man in the jockstrap. Mr. Bolsonaro urged his 3.4 million Twitter followers to draw their own conclusions and comment on the video.

… the post signals that Mr. Bolsonaro sees value in stoking societal debates over sexual orientation and morality that turbocharged his rise to power.

Note well that the saints in this story are the purported B&D boys taking golden showers, while the sinners are those who suggest that such ought not be taken in public — transvaluation of values and a deathwork in the combined names of mammon and iconic iconoclasm.

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