Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sacrosanct sinner

Elisabeth Scalia notes Pope Francis did not revolutionize Christian doctrine concerning the sinful nature of man. If anything, he reinforced the doctrine of forgiveness of one’s sins in the context of sincere repentance.

A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will—well, who am I to judge him?

Because to judge a repentant sinner is to judge oneself. In John 8, after Jesus told the Pharisees, “Let anyone among you who is without sin cast the first stone,” He told the adulterer, “Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” Jesus’ teaching did not reclassify sin. He forgave sin.

Salvation by God’s forgiveness and love rests on the principle of sin as fundamental to human nature. Not even the Pharisees, the most doctrinaire Jews of Jesus’ time, were bold enough to claim they were “without sin.” Under Jewish law there were 613 commandments, or mitzvot; it was impossible to follow every last one. We are all sinners. We need forgiveness.

As obvious as that may sound, this diagnosis is half the trouble. Sin is part of who we are. We are wedded to it from birth. We are too proud to admit we are inadequate, and we revolt against the truth that condemns us.

The reason Pope Francis’s comments stirred up the secular media is that the secular media don’t adhere to a view of man as sinful. They view the postulate of sin’s existence to be divisive and discriminating. So they gleefully mistook Pope Francis’s “who am I to judge him?” for an erasure of the line between purity and sin.

What they missed is that the sinner Pope Francis spoke of, in “seeking God,” judges himself by God’s standard. He knows he is a sinner. He knows he falls short. And he yearns for Jesus in order to better himself.

If there is no such thing as sin, then sinners can stop worrying about trying to be better. They need not live by any standard than that of their choosing. They are validated in their identity in sin.

One of those secular media members is Sarah Elizabeth Cupp, who is either too dumb or too indifferent to respect the distinction between sinner and sin. She sees a political application in the Pope’s non-transformation of Christian doctrine:

Like the Catholic Church, the GOP does need to embrace the gay conservatives within its flock, and likewise straight conservatives like me who support gay marriage. Some in the party already do, and I’m hopeful more will follow.

An embrace from one who does not want better for his brother, from one who holds his tongue when he sees his friend being led astray, is a cold embrace indeed. What is this except giving in to identity politics, a capitulation to the liberal zeitgeist of the sacrosanct sinner?

Homosexuality is not the only sin man is capable of. Sin is as multifarious as individuals are unique. Accepting people’s sin with no deference to improvement or even to principle does not unite them. It drives them deeper into themselves and further apart from each other.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Odds and ends 7/27/2013

I have to start with this, because it might be the saddest story I’ve ever read. Brace yourself.

Chloe Jennings-White suffers from a rare psychological condition known as Body Integrity Identity Disorder. An able-bodied 58-year-old woman, Jennings-White fantasizes about being a paraplegic and wants to undergo spinal surgery to make her legs stop working, The Sun reported.

An overseas doctor agreed to perform the surgery, in which he would cut her sciatic and femoral nerves. But the operation would cost her nearly $25,000.

What troubles you more, the woman who wants to lose the use of her legs, or the doctor who accepts payment to mutilate her?

Whoever he is, his license to practice medicine should be revoked. Primum non nocere. First, do no harm.


This week at the Red Pill Report, I explained the Detroit bankruptcy:

The free market didn’t drive away people and jobs; collectivism did.

The individual is remarkably adaptable to changing economic conditions. But he is also susceptible to long-term bargains that tie him to unproductive work. This susceptibility prevailed throughout the Rust Belt after World War II in the form of collectivization.

Collectivized workers lost their ingenuity and proved to be competitively disadvantaged over time. Secure in their union agreements, they stagnated under a stale business model. They passed on opportunities that would have painfully but necessarily revitalized the local economy. Changing demand diminished their market share. To top it all off, onerous environmental regulations sent heavy industry overseas and to the American South.

Slavish devotion to a post-war economic status quo did Detroit in. This status quo was held together by heavily unionized private and public sectors committed to the illusion of stability provided by guaranteed contracts and retirement benefits in a tumultuous world. So great was this illusion that they were blind to the floor crumbling underneath them.

In Businessweek, Chris Farrell reinforces this:

The city thrived during the years of U.S. auto industry dominance, and its economy declined as the Big Three lost out to foreign competitors. Less appreciated is how the car business evolved from a dynamic, cutting-edge enterprise in the early years into an insular industry resistant to outside influences.

John Stossel writes:

As usual, the politicians want to try more of the same. They constantly come up with plans, but the plans are always big, simple-minded ones that run roughshod over the thousands of little plans made by ordinary citizens.

Sounds like what I wrote in May about technocrats and planners:

The dream, in this case, is a government with unlimited powers to manage the mass of humanity towards an impossible harmony. Thomas Edison supposedly tested 10,000 variations of the light bulb before he found one that worked. I reckon there are more than that many tweaks to the complex formulas utopia’s planners intend to use to stifle the “offending” energies that motivate men.

This from Stossel blew me away:

And if you criticized them for it, politicians like former Mayor Coleman Young called you a racist. “To attack Detroit is to attack black,” Young said. That tends to shut critics up.

I guess that criticism was justified, because Detroit (aka “black”) is bankrupt.

Dr. James David Manning would say Coleman Young sees the world through “black eyes.”

Dr. James David Manning, the notoriously controversial chief pastor at the ATLAH World Missionary Church in New York City, recently delivered a bold and controversial message to his congregants about the black community’s perception of the George Zimmerman trial. He urged his mostly black congregation to stop viewing the world through their “black eyes” and start looking at it through the “blood of Jesus.”

If they did that, the pastor explained, there would be no denying that the verdict in the Zimmerman was the correct one. He also told those who are convinced that Zimmerman is guilty that they only believe that because they are black.

...

“The only reason why you think that way is because you’re black,” Manning preached. “You see the world, not through the blood of Jesus, you see the world through your black eyes. You have not changed yet.”

Amen, reverend.

At the American Thinker, Daren Jonescu follows my lead on the George Zimmerman trial:

Those who, whether motivated by evil politics or just plain stupidity, see Trayvon Martin as an innocent victim are, in fact, dishonoring him in the most repulsive fashion. They are denying him his humanity, by denying him any share of rationality.

Daniel Greenfield (aka Sultan Knish) sounds off:

It wasn’t George Zimmerman’s freedom that they wanted to take away. It was our freedom. Zimmerman wasn’t being indicted as one man, but as a representative of a group. It didn’t matter that his appearance, his background and his motives did not fit the profile. He was indicted as a white racist. And by indicting him, the media was actually indicting the ordinary American for being part of a racist system that murders black youth.

Aaron Goldstein explains why President Obama spouted off on the George Zimmerman trial:

These days President Obama is hardly in a position to be lecturing anyone and there are certain subjects he would just as soon avoid talking about at any length (i.e. the imminent bankruptcy of Detroit, the IRS scandal and infeasibility of Obamacare to name but several).

...

So, of course, he wants to talk about the Zimmerman trial. If you’re President Obama who would you rather talk about? Trayvon Martin or Edward Snowden? Would Obama rather talk about his shortcomings or the shortcomings of others?

In America, thousands of black men, raised in a dysfunctional culture of single motherhood and government paternity, are murdered every year. Thousands more go to jail for theft, assault, and drug-related crimes. Citing the “disproportionate” number of blacks in American prisons is supposed to trigger bleeding heart self-examinations of racial bias. The outcome of such self-examinations is preordained: Loosening statutes that target black criminals would restore racial “equity.” How redistributing unrepentant criminals from prisons to the streets benefits anyone is a mystery to me.


Baylor University, a private Baptist school located in Waco, Texas, and my alma mater, has a “Statement on Human Sexuality” in its student handbook. Located under the label “Sexual Misconduct,” it says that “Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm. Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior. It is thus expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching.”

“That Baylor would discourage gay players from publicly discussing their sexuality is a sad testament to the pervasiveness of homophobia in America and to the pressure on college coaches to win,” writes the emotionally retarded Jeff Eisenberg for Yahoo! Sports.

There are lots of behaviors society prohibits in public to ensure the safety of the public. Is there a prohibition on private consultation of lust and other desires with faculty and friends at Baylor? No.


Karl Rove doesn’t want to defund Obamacare. “I think it will collapse in and of itself if we keep the pressure on,” he says. I think he means Obamacare will collapse under its own shortcomings, not by Republican pressure. So he’d rather see the leviathan bill implemented, have the American people suffer, and the apparatus be slowly, painfully dismantled after the fact, instead of defunding it beforehand.

Rove bears a striking resemblance to the pigs in Animal Farm.

Obama mouthpiece Jay Carney says Obamacare’s negative effect on employment is “belied by the facts.”

“I think the data is very clear on this,” he concludes. Actually it’s not. It’s clear in the other direction. The Obama administration is committed to an ideological course of action, regardless of data. It will then justify its actions with data, even false or made up data.

This is the problem with technocrats. All their benevolence and expertise, to which they appealed to convince you to give up more and more control, is a Trojan horse for tyranny. Citing the correct data doesn’t matter. You already ceded control. They are not obligated to listen.


“Individuals, government, and industry all behave worse in a semi-socialized system: individuals consume more and save less; government refuses to make unpopular cuts and instead allows shortages to develop and services to degrade; and industry, once forced to become more political for defensive reasons, grows intent upon using politics to guarantee profits. The upshot of it all is systemic failure, which becomes a pretext for more government intervention, which leads to yet more crises. And the beat goes on...” –Daniel McCarthy

Patrick Ryan of American Spectator reflects on the hook-up culture:

In the “hookup culture,” young, ambitious women prioritize bulking up their resumes instead of developing healthy relationships with men. Hooking up is “a functional strategy for today’s hard-charging and ambitious young women, allowing them to have enjoyable sex lives while focusing most of their energy on academic and professional goals.”

“Enjoyable” being defined as an abundant, emotionless, and hedonistic Bacchanalia.

Anthony Giddens traces sexual identity (and by extension sexual identity politics) to the disassociation of sex and reproduction (hat tip Mark Regnerus):

Effective contraception meant more than an increased capability of limiting pregnancy ... [It] signaled a deep transition in personal life. For women—and, in a partly different sense, for men also—sexuality became malleable, open to being shaped in diverse ways, and a potential “property” of the individual. Sexuality came into being as part of a progressive differentiation of sex from the exigencies of reproduction. With the further elaboration of reproductive technologies, that differentiation has today become complete. Now that conception can be artificially produced, rather than only artificially inhibited, sexuality is at last fully autonomous.

Why is this bad? Rod Dreher writes:

If sex has no intrinsic meaning, no teleology, and only have the meaning that freely choosing individuals impose on it; and if marriage is whatever we choose to call it, then there is little reason for anyone to choose to limit their sexual freedom, and childbearing, to a binding institution called marriage. If you want to see what a social disaster the loss of the traditional family as the keystone of society is, look to the US black community, and, increasingly, to working-class American whites.

In a related note, the UK needs fathers.

The proportion of children born to unmarried mothers hit a record 47.5 per cent last year, according to the Office for National Statistics. The figure has risen from 25 per cent in 1988 and just 11 per cent in 1979.

If the trend continues at the current rate, the majority of children will be born to parents who are not married by 2016.

...

The Centre for Social Justice, a think tank founded by the Conservative Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, has raised repeated concerns about the decline in marriage.

Christian Guy, director of the think tank, said: “Marriage is not a right wing obsession, but a crucial social justice issue. People throughout society want to marry but cultural and financial barriers faced by those in the poorest communities thwart their aspirations.

Cultural poverty is a negative feedback loop. It may very well come to pass that history will render its final verdict on the sexual revolution and determine it was more destructive to human life than the Holocaust.


Political correctness kills. The Washington Examiner editorializes:

FBI counter-terrorism agents interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the brothers, in January 2011 after receiving a tip from Russian intelligence. Since the interviewing agents thought they heard nothing to indicate Tsarnaev was a terrorist, little else was done and the case was closed two months later. A few months after that, Tsarnaev went to Russia and encountered somebody or experienced something that apparently prompted him to become quite open about his devotion to a radical vision of Islamic jihad. The FBI visited him a second time after he returned to the United States but again concluded that Tsarnaev was not a threat. It is speculation now, of course, but it’s difficult to believe the Tsarnaevs would have been able to carry out the bombing had they been under active surveillance before the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Whatever else may yet be discovered about what the FBI missed, there is no excuse for the agency not grasping the significance of the radical Islamist video Tamerlan posted on his Facebook page entitled “The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags of Khorasan.” The video explains and glorifies the prophecy of a mighty Jihadist army rising from the Iranian region of the Near East to conquer the world and establish an enduring Muslim empire. The Khorasan connection is a staple of al Qaeda ideology, and the video’s presence on Tsarnaev’s Facebook page was a red flag that should have alerted agents to a very real potential danger.

It is quite possible, though, the FBI agents who interviewed Tsarnaev on both occasions failed to understand what they saw and heard because that’s what they were trained to do. As The Washington Examiner’s Mark Flatten reported last year, FBI training manuals were systematically purged in 2011 of all references to Islam that were judged offensive by a specially created five-member panel. Three of the panel members were Muslim advocates from outside the FBI, which still refuses to make public their identities. Nearly 900 pages were removed from the manuals as a result of that review.


“In his biography of Marx, Isaiah Berlin singled out one of this radical thinker’s central ideas: that the inner convictions we take to be the ground of moral and religious truth are in fact illusions, myths that need to be demolished so that humanity can be freed from its chains. Our beliefs about right and wrong cannot be taken at face value, Marx argued, because we have been duped into them by our historical circumstances.” –David Mikics

Hence, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” Or is it?

Presented with a study that conservatives are happiest, Dreher reacts:

My first guess would be that conservatives have a stronger sense of metaphysical order, which lessens their anxiety by comparison to others.

I call this the tyranny of nature, and I describe its effect on conservatives, more or less, here:

Some people accept this tyranny. They see it as more than an inescapable fabric constricting mind and body. It fuses their lives into a long, rich tradition, from which they can draw wisdom in times of inevitable want and despair. Wisdom offers perspective and simplifies the seemingly random, infinite universe for the finite human mind.

For liberals, humanists, statists—anyone who declares war on the world and human nature—the result is misery.


In the last installment of “Odds and ends,” I explained why Pope Francis’ calls to minister to the poor do not freak me out. Neither do they freak out William Doino of First Things:

In fact, I praise Francis’ commitment to the poor, calling direct attention to his “first pastoral visit to Lampedusa, where he spoke eloquently for abandoned migrants.” At Lampesuda, the pope spoke out powerfully against both “the globalization of indifference” toward the poor and the need to transform our hearts, on a personal, Christian basis. This dual approach toward social justice is deeply Catholic, and reminds me of the heroic Catholic witness of Dorothy Day and Archbishop Oscar Romero, whose causes I have long endorsed—but it is not to be confused, as I wrote, with “secular progressivism, which detaches spirituality from social justice.”

I have not observed “neo-con” (Michael Sean Winters’ phrase) Christian outrage against Pope Francis, at least not based on a firm understanding of Christianity. It could be a figment of the liberal Winters’ imagination.


This Onion story satirically laments the man most men want to be (hat tip Dreher):

“I honestly don’t get Mike—does he even want to get out of that backwater town and try to make something of himself, or does he want to just waste his time feeling pleased with the pace and content of his life and enjoying his existence?” high school friend Caitlin Sese said of the man who gets eight hours of sleep per night and has time after work to see his loved ones and take care of his health. “Everyone else left Camden as soon as possible and is consumed by a deep sense of apprehension about getting ahead, but he’s still hanging around the same places from high school, focusing on the things that matter most to him, and existing as a relaxed, easygoing person who’s fun to be around. I can’t imagine anything sadder than that.”

“It’s almost like he’s saying, ‘I don’t give a shit—I just want to be an emotionally stable husband and father who’s not obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder and impressing complete strangers with my job title,’” Sese added. “Pathetic.”

According to relatives who moved thousands of miles away and are currently alienated from much of the family, Husmer has never once taken a major professional or financial risk, choosing instead to “coast through life” by putting considerable time and effort into his rewarding marriage, playing an active role in his two children’s lives, and being sincerely thankful for what he has in this world.

Not unrelated is this Conor Dugan quote, on the pressure to not return to his native Michigan:

We loved our hometown, but for some reason, when I had considered it previously, it always seemed a bit limiting, crabbed, suffocating. Moving home was good for other people. It wasn’t what I was supposed to do with my life. Indeed, the culture had taught me from a young age to seek my fortunes elsewhere.

At Public Discourse, Paul McHugh and Gerard V. Bradley confirm what I’ve been saying over and over: Sexuality is not an immutable trait.

Social science research continues to show that sexual orientation, unlike race, color, and ethnicity, is neither a clearly defined concept nor an immutable characteristic of human beings. Basing federal employment law on a vaguely defined concept such as sexual orientation, especially when our courts have a wise precedent of limiting suspect classes to groups that have a clearly-defined shared characteristic, would undoubtedly cause problems for many well-meaning employers.

No kidding. Who knows what deviant “expression” of sexual preference employers will have to put up with should the Employment Non-Discrimination Act become law.

The American Psychological Association explains sexual orientation as “an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes. Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions” (emphasis added). The problem, though, is that many people who report having same-sex attractions are not consistent across these dimensions.

Researchers have found that three of these dimensions—attraction, behavior, and identity—are subject to change over time. Moreover, the presence of a large bisexual population is evidence that sexual orientation is, for some people and to some extent, fluid.


Socialism doesn’t work in Sweden. Michael Hendrix writes at Values & Capitalism:

Sweden’s youth are rioting because they lack earned success. Arthur Brooks has worked hard to flesh out this concept of “defining your future as you see fit and achieving that success on the basis of merit and hard work.” To be satisfied with your work requires a certain justification for it, which in turns rests on your own labor. To be denied this opportunity by a protective government only yields a bitter irony.

For my own reflections on Sweden, read this. Excerpt:

There is no zest for procreation in the materialist state, which is why Sweden’s native population is aging. Also, it is objectively poorer, leaving to citizens less of the product of their labor to invest in what matters to them and in a legacy worth protecting. It is a hedonic, literally barren culture that cannot survive the erosion of time.

And read this, too. Excerpt:

Integration (aka assimilation) means accepting the primacy of the home culture. That is difficult when positive arguments for the home culture are limited to appeals to material dependency with no mutual obligation, which don’t exactly call upon the nobler instincts of men.

That cultural barrenness is the reason Europe needs immigrants: to replace the dying generations who, lacking motivation to extend timeless values into the future, had fewer children and exhausted their cultural capital on themselves.


Hell (hĕl) n. A camp for non-gender-conforming boys.

“I would really love to follow the kids into adulthood and see what kind of relationships they develop,” Morris said. “I want to witness the evolution, knowing from where they started and see how life is going to play out for them—hopefully happily—and I think they’re going to have a better transition into adulthood than the generation proceeding them.”

Doubtful. The emotional torture of reconciling your emotional concept of yourself to your body is difficult enough. (It’s the main difficulty of aging.) Enabling the starkest of disparities doesn’t help.


At First Things, Collin Garbarino writes a thoughtful column on American excitement about the new royal baby (re: “False messiahs”):

Ruling yourself and fighting your own battles is hard. We’d rather not do it. It’s human nature to look to a king to do it for us. It actually might be worse than hard. It might be impossible. Can we rule ourselves? The Apostle Paul said, “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” So much for ruling ourselves. Fighting our own battles is equally futile. We cannot save ourselves. We need a king to do it for us. We need King Jesus.

A study finds boys with only sisters are 13.5 percent more conservative in their views of women’s roles than boys with all brothers. (Disclaimer: I have one sibling, a sister.) Excerpts:

Men who were raised with female siblings tend to be conservative in their views of gender throughout their lives, and more likely to vote Republican when they’re young than their male peers.

...

Watching their sisters do the chores “teaches boys that housework is simply women’s work”, according to Healy and Malhotra, a conclusion the researchers say leads to a traditional view of gender roles – a position linked to a predilection for Republican politics.

...

“These effects were surprising to us,” Healy said. “We might expect that boys would learn to support gender equity through interactions with their sisters. However, the data suggest that other forces are more important in driving men’s political attitudes, including whether the family assigned chores, such as dishwashing, according to traditional gender roles.”

This article is easier to understand if you substitute “gender Marxism” for “gender equity.”

Interesting how increased interaction with the opposite sex creates more accurate discernment of what the other sex is and wants.


Matt Purple reflects on the rise of libertarian populism as reaction to Washington’s ruling class:

Washington, subsisting on the borrowed money of government, has experienced growth during the recession that is unique among American cities. “We were the only chick at the bar,” as one real estate broker told the Post. The gentrification here has been incredibly rapid; neighborhoods that were riddled with crime ten years ago are now bustling with restaurants, bars, and shopping centers. Despite the histrionics over the sequester, the Washington area has added 40,000 jobs since sequestration took effect. D.C.’s unemployment rate has been consistently below the national average.

The single biggest problem facing American politics today isn’t immigration or even tax reform, but the fact that this government-industrial complex continues to grow, its technocrat residents continue to meddle in the economy they wrecked, and none of it shows any sign of stopping. Government needs to be downsized, its regulations need to be rolled back, and power needs to be devolved to states and individuals. As far as that’s concerned, libertarian populism isn’t necessarily the only chick at the bar. But it is the most attractive.

I rarely go for the hottest chick at the bar. I’m unable to act natural around her, burdened with the knowledge that I don’t have the sexual capital to compete for her. I usually go for the pretty, nerdy girl who looks like she’d rather be somewhere else.

That pretty, nerdy girl is more honest, more textured, more real than libertarian populism ever could be. She knows limited government and free market bromides are not enough to sustain a happy marriage. She is a woman of depth, appreciates me for all my flaws, and respects what Solzhenitsyn called “life’s complexity and mortal weight.”


“[Sex] is the way I want to emotionally connect to someone, and I think that only a person who deserves me to be emotionally attached to them should have that opportunity to see me in that way.” –A good girl

Samuel Goldman of the American Conservative looks at the necessity of Leviathan in a disintegrating civil society:

For the republican tradition, particularly as transmitted by the Country party in British politics, a well-armed, self-organized citizenry poses less of a threat to safety and liberty than a strong state. That is the reasoning behind the 2nd Amendment.

There are serious and perhaps insurmountable obstacles to the revival of this tradition today. Apart from technological changes since the 18th century, the republican theory of violence presumes a relatively small, mostly agrarian society with a strong conception of public virtue. The contemporary United States, by contrast, is more like a multinational empire: a political form that has historically required much more coercive practices of government. Even so, the republican tradition reminds us that Leviathan is not the only possible source of order.


At the National Journal, Beth Reinhard updates us on Marco Rubio’s recent silence on immigration:

The Florida Republican’s office, which churned out countless press releases touting his interviews and speeches about the legislation, hasn’t said a word about immigration since the Senate passed the bill on June 27.

The silence is a sign that, at least publicly, Rubio won’t try to dissuade the House from a piecemeal approach that excludes a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Instead, Rubio is turning to the safer, more-conservative-friendly issues he campaigned on in 2010—President Obama’s health care law, federal spending, the deficit—but with less support from Republicans than before, according to public polls.

One of those “more-conservative-friendly issues he campaigned on in 2010” was opposition to amnesty!


Jerry Bowyer offers perspective on the rule of law in his review of Les Miserables:

Prison guard (later Inspector) Javert is the voice of the rule-of-law principle run amuck. Valjean broke the law, and nothing else matters, not the cruelty and injustice of the whole ugly system, not the good deeds which Valjean has done while being an illegal, not the community which depends upon him for the fruits of his labor. Valjean, as he says, is a ‘criminal’ and that’s that. You can almost hear him growl, “What part of criminal don’t you understand?”

But you can almost hear the audience answer: “The part of criminal we don’t understand is why this good man can’t simply be forgiven?” Crimes can be forgiven. In fact, the real historical figure on which Jean Valjean was based was in reality pardoned. Pardons and amnesties and commutations and various nullifications are not violations of the rule of law. They are part of the rule of law. They arise from the same legal traditions as statute and penalty. They are the elements of law through which mercy is mixed with justice to bring forth, not chaos, but higher justice in accordance with a higher law.

I read “the meek shall inherit the Earth” (Matthew 5:5) as God’s blessings will be bestowed on people who reject their hubris, recognize the limits of human ability, and rely on God for the final answers.


Population control advocate and atheist Peter Singer also advocates infanticide. Who’d’ve thunk it?

In 1993, ethicist Peter Singer shocked many Americans by suggesting that no newborn should be considered a person until 30 days after birth and that the attending physician should kill some disabled babies on the spot. Five years later, his appointment as Decamp Professor of Bio-Ethics at Princeton University ignited a firestorm of controversy, though his ideas about abortion and infanticide were hardly new. In 1979 he wrote, “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”

...

Singer doesn’t tell us why self-awareness belongs to the concept of personhood; he merely asserts that it does. In so doing, he espouses a doctrine known as functionalism, the belief that what defines human persons is what they can and cannot do. Though laudable for its candor, Singer’s case for infanticide is seriously flawed and fails to make a number of critical distinctions. Meanwhile, his Darwinian worldview leaves us philosophically and morally bankrupt, with no reason to act ethically in any context.


Matt Slick throws pearls before swine:

She asked me if I felt persecuted as a Christian. I told her that I did to some extent, in that there was a general anti-Christian feeling in our culture and especially in the media. Homosexuals are portrayed very favorably and Christians are almost always portrayed negatively. She asked me how I would like things to be different. I told her I just want Christians to be fairly represented in the media, and not misrepresented and attacked all the time, so they can freely say what they want to say without being ridiculed and mocked – the same as anyone else. She then came back and said (and I paraphrase) “So, you want to be able to tell homosexuals they are going to hell.” I replied with (and I paraphrase again), “No, that’s not it. We want to be able to tell people, homosexuals, anybody, everybody, that they need Jesus in order to escape the judgment of God. All sinners need to find Christ.” I told her it wasn’t that we wanted to focus on homosexuals. Instead, we have a message that all people need to hear – homosexuals, adulterers, liars, thieves, moms, dads, etc. – anybody and everybody (myself included) that Jesus Christ, who is God in flesh, died on the cross for our sins, and that by trusting him and what he did there, they can be forgiven of all their sins. I was quite clear in this message, which I told her several times, but more than once in the interview she would repeat that I wanted to be able to freely tell homosexuals that they are going to hell. I remember once specifically telling her that she had misrepresented me again, and that I was not saying what she said I was saying. I was calm, compassionate, and I did my best to represent Christ properly.

If a Christian privately testifies to an atheist, but no one else hears it, did he make a sound? Almost never should you engage an atheist or a liberal one on one. Play not to him, but to a neutral audience. The exception is if he is questioning their his (yes, atheism really is a faith) and he is looking for answers elsewhere.


I received this encouragement from a friend at work:

Joe, I still say your calling is writing. You have a unique insight into people and issues that we face today. You have the ability and natural insight to get to the authentic root of these issues. It is very refreshing to see one so gifted in the truth and reality, and express it with such depth and unfiltering. Keep doing this. You are inspiring and I am a true fan.

I don’t mean to sound vain, but I know good writing, and I’ve written more good stuff in the last year than I had 10 years prior. I have crafted a unique brand for myself here. I don’t care that I am plagued with non-success. I enjoy writing, even for free. I’m doing what I love.

I could make myself sick listing all the writers and thinkers whom I think are inferior to me. The fact of the matter is those people satisfy a demand in the market. There’s little demand for my kind of writing. It’s my dream to create a demand for my writing and get people to pay me to fill it.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Weiner sexting saga

The Anthony Weiner sexting saga is a wellspring of sexual nature topics. There are three balls to keep track of in this juggling act: the philandering, compulsive politician (Weiner); the easily manipulated, nubile bait (Sydney Leathers); and the ambitious, scorned wife (Huma Abedin).

At this point, I have nothing but pity for Weiner, a victim of his uncontrolled impulses and the culture’s suicidal enabling of unobstructed pleasure seeking. Supplement that with Heather Wilhelm’s thoughts:

We all know that if Anthony Weiner was not a prominent national political personality, and was instead, say, an accountant from French Lick, Ms. Leathers would be running for the exits, hiding in the bathroom, or maybe even calling the police. She was attracted to power, pure and simple. (Well, that, and, it has been reported, the brilliant idea of a Chicago “sex den” condo to call her own.)

Weiner, in the back of his mind, almost certainly knew this—and like Bruce Banner, the poor, meek physicist who transforms into the Incredible Hulk during emotional duress, he created his Internet Self: lady-killer, rascal, suave sexual maestro. Predictably, many have accused Weiner of being abusive (Lisa Bloom at CNN), “disrespectful of women” (Nancy Pelosi), or attempting to “subjugate women” (Lena Dunham). But if anything, he’s an icon of not-so-quiet desperation. The women in his life are just going along for the ride.

As for Sidney Leathers, Andrew Sullivan observes: “A flirty, horny 22-year-old who talks a great sex game is not a victim. She’s a player.” Indeed, both Weiner and his online mistress are at their peak sexual capital.

The mistress, young and beautiful, and the [former] congressman, virile and powerful, stand atop [the] sexual hierarchy. In their respective stages of life, they have more sexual capital than they have had or will have again.

Think of the suitors Sydney Leathers passed on for a relationship with a powerful former congressman/mayoral candidate. Think of the 20-something man she might have dated and married instead of wasting a year of her prime sexting Weiner. He can’t compete with Weiner, not even with a virtual Weiner. How much better off she would be married to a man who loves her rather than pining for a man who only lusts for her.

To paraphrase the Teacher, by feminists’ fruits you shall know them. Theirs are bitter, bitter fruits.

Huma Abedin is beautiful as well, but it appears in her choice of a husband she did not exercise her femininity to extract a sufficient level of commitment from him. His love for her is a hard sell, given his frantic pursuit of sexual gratification in virtual liaisons with other women.

Maybe that’s the point. Maybe in Weiner Abedin saw not a man worthy of her love, but a partner to climb the political ladder with. After all, it was she who urged him to rehab his political image and run for mayor.

Matthew J. Franck doesn’t feel sorry for her:

That [Weiner] remains a candidate today can be chalked up to his wife’s support–even if it is only non-opposition, or ineffective private opposition. A firm, and if necessary, public “No, Anthony!” on Ms. Abedin’s part would put an end to this farce, would be good for Mr. Weiner’s soul, and might even in the long run help their marriage. It would certainly be good for New York City and the rest of the country to be permanently rid of Carlos Danger, Public Servant.

Anthony Weiner is in the grip of various compulsions, it seems. One of them–a compulsive conviction that he has something positive to offer to our political life–appears to be shared by Huma Abedin. That is a sad mistake.

Daniel J. Flynn sounds off:

Abedin gives a pass on cheating and naked tweeting. But one wonders how the political stepford wife might react to broken vows on abortion rights or free birth control.

Ouch.

If there’s a fourth party in this seamy affair, it’s the cynical New Yorkers who would not be embarrassed to vote for such an egomaniac. The takeaway from that is liberalism is essentially buying people off. As long as a politician stays true to this, philandering is not a deal breaker.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sliding scale of personhood

Viability: the “interim point at which the fetus becomes...potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid.” –Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade

The legal community does not consider a human fetus “viable” unless he can survive outside the womb with artificial aid. In 1973, the Supreme Court set viability at the 28th week of gestation. Beyond this point, states could pass laws regulating or even banning abortion, due to a compelling state interest to protect life. Forty years later, in 2013, actual viability in the developed world stands at about the 24th week of gestation. Babies born as early as the 22nd week of gestation have survived.

The rhetoric of the body autonomy movement’s “moderate” elements indicates the limit of viability is the point at which a lifeless clump of cells becomes a person, striking a balance between conception and birth. While this compromise is preferable to the status quo in jurisdictions that allow late-term abortions, it is not a reliable definition of personhood.

Infant mortality rates depend greatly on the times and places they are borne into. A baby born 16 weeks premature has roughly an even chance of surviving in 2013 Boston. He has little to no chance of surviving in 1913 Bombay. Does it follow from these chance circumstances that the fetus in the former case is a person endowed by his Creator with inalienable rights, and the fetus in the latter case can be discarded at his mother’s whim? If so, it places the body autonomy movement in the uncomfortable position of cheering against advancements in neonatal care, which shorten women’s window of time to have an abortion.

The future does not always entail progress. Surely the infant mortality rate in 1250 Hamburg exeded the infant mortality rate in 1350 Hamburg, when half the population died of bubonic plague. Should such a calamity befall us, or limited resources beset us, are we prepared to redefine legal abortion upwards, up to or even beyond birth, as bioethicists Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva argue?

Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a “person” in the sense of “subject of a moral right to life.”

...

We take “person” to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.

What is the use of the definition of viability, when for months newborn babies remain as dependent on their mothers as they were in the womb? She feeds him, only from her breasts, rather than from the umbilical cord. She clothes him, only in onesies and diapers, not in amniotic fluid. When he cries in the night, she comes. Pro-choice logic, such as it is, should empower women to reclaim their autonomy from these little tyrants.

Ancient Sparta justified infanticide by discarding boys who would not make good soldiers. This is a cold, utilitarian evaluation of life, to be sure, but no more arbitrary than our “viability” legalese.

If technology allowed us to carry over the in vitro fertilization process to gestation in artificial wombs, thereby reducing viability to the moment of conception, the whole jurisprudence surrounding abortion would be reexamined, in hopes of finding a new way to justify the “right” to an abortion.

Viability is a fig leaf. The pro-choice activists in Austin weren’t fired up over the Texas legislature setting viability at 20 weeks. They were upset anyone would tell them what they couldn’t do with their bodies. Twenty weeks, 24, 34, it would not have mattered. The numbers are relative. The value of human life, however, is not.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dehumanizing Trayvon

Can you think of two more different people than President Obama and Trayvon Martin?

Obama was born in 1961 to a black Kenyan Muslim apostate and a white American; Trayvon Martin was born in 1995 to two black Americans. Obama was raised in Hawaii and Indonesia; Trayvon Martin was raised in Florida. Obama attended a Catholic school, a madrasa, and an American college prep school; Trayvon Martin attended American public schools.

Obama and Trayvon Martin both came from broken families, but even there the similarity breaks down in the details. Obama’s parents divorced when he was 4 years old, and his childhood revolved around the lives of men who weren’t there: first his father, later his stepfather. He was raised mostly by his mother and grandparents. Trayvon Martin’s parents divorced when he was 2, and he stayed in his father’s and stepmother’s care until his father cheated on his stepmother when Trayvon was 15. After that, his mother, father, and father’s girlfriend shared guardianship of him.

The closest thing Obama and Trayvon Martin have to a substantive resemblance is occasional drug use. Obama was open about using marijuana and cocaine in his biography, Dreams From My Father. Trayvon Martin also used marijuana and a drug called lean, two of three ingredients of which he bought at the store the night George Zimmerman killed him. He was walking to his father’s fiancé’s house, where he was visiting while serving a 10-day drug-related suspension from school.

It was not this similarity Obama drew between himself and Trayvon Martin. America’s first half-black, half-white president said if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. He said, “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream is dead. Skin tone, not character, matter to Marxists and Marxist tools. Trayvon Martin is not a unique individual with a unique background, unique aspirations, and—yes—unique flaws. All the traits that make him human the racial tribalists discard. He is first and foremost a black, which is how millions of people, including the president, call him “our son,” knowing nothing else about him.

The shallow, tribal thinking behind calling Trayvon Martin “our son” also lies behind the grieving Sybrina Fulton’s accusation, “They’ve killed my son.” He, George Zimmerman, killed Trayvon Martin, not “they.” Zimmerman acted on his own, not on a commission, an alien concept in identity politics.

The lessening of Trayvon Martin from textured human being to a black victim of a non-black perpetrator is damning enough in itself, but it wouldn’t complete the picture of racial tribalism’s dehumanizing effect. Each year, thousands of black men are the victims of crimes perpetrated by black men. Black youths are 13 times more likely to be killed by a black than by a white. These crimes receive no attention because they don’t reinforce “black” identity in opposition to all others.

To paraphrase Stalin, the victims of black-on-black crime are mere statistics. They are sacrifices to this dysfunctional identity, which cannot survive a deep level of introspection that grows out of admitting the greatest problems come from within.

Further reading: “Not ‘black’ enough.”

Friday, July 19, 2013

Peace talks follies

No one except the United States wants Middle East peace talks to resume. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are optimistic they can achieve their goals in negotiations. The only thing Secretary of State John Kerry’s “breakthrough” achieves is maintaining America’s appearance of trying to broker a peace, a narrative with which to soothe the hypersensitivities of the Muslim world.

The Palestinians want Israel to withdraw to the anemic 1967 borders, freeze settlement construction in the West Bank, and release hundreds of terrorists from custody. That’s not all they want—the termination of Israel and eventually all the world’s Jewry, plus establishment of a worldwide caliphate, remain on the to-do list—but that’s all they say they want, for now.

Meanwhile, all Israel wants is to be left alone. If they could be assured of that, the conflict would have been resolved long ago. But the Palestinian “leaders” can’t promise that. President Abbas, no matter what his intentions, doesn’t control Hamas, much less Iran or whatever regimes emerge out of the chaos in Syria and Egypt.

The chimera of peace is strong with those who see external reasons at the heart of the Middle East conflict. The reality is too uncomfortable to admit: There is something seriously wrong with Arab Muslims. It is a disorder no improvement in worldly circumstances or standing can cure. Swapping land for the hope of peace will not purge a hateful, backward ideology from their hearts. It will take a miraculous reformation on a scale history rarely witnesses. It’s a reformation Kerry, Abbas, et al. are among the least qualified to deliver.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The logic of “choice”

“Don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.” –Ben Sherman, explaining the “drawbacks” of reduced access to abortion

This is the story of Sheila, a modern woman. Armed with feticidal drugs and technologies as well as government subsidies, Sheila asserted absolute autonomy over herself and the reproductive process in ways her grandmother never imagined. Not only did she decide whether that is a human being gestating in her womb, she also determined what the father’s role was to be, if any.

Freed from the responsibilities and expectations that pushed him to become a good man, Shaun embraced his minimized role of pleasure seeker/incidental sperm donor with relish. He came to view Sheila’s body not as a temple to worship but as an amusement park ride. His boyhood fantasy had come true: He could have all the sex he wanted and none of the consequences.

For Sheila, the amusement was fleeting. As her biological clock ticked down, the tug of her instincts towards motherhood became undeniable. Seemingly overnight, her criteria for a mate changed. She wanted a strong, caring man; a reliable man; the kind of man who didn’t let her down in her time of need. Most importantly, she wanted just one.

She looked at the same pool of men she’d been screwing for years, and those who met her new criteria were few and far between. She wondered, “Where are the good men?”

She looked closely at Shaun. He couldn’t make a good husband, let alone a good father. He was lazy and irresponsible. He didn’t have it together. He didn’t aspire to anything greater than himself. She had never asked him to be anything greater than himself. He had spent his entire adulthood conceding her and other women’s long-term care to other forces. Set in his ways, he was unlikely to change.

Too late, Sheila realized her mistake. The inequality she believed women suffered alone actually cut both ways. While her biology dictated babies gestate in her and not in her male partners, Shaun’s biology dictated he must compete for her approval and trust. It was this foundation of her faith in him, which was his burden to cultivate, that enabled her to lean on him and imperil her well-being to bear the fruit of their union. At least, that’s how it was supposed to happen.

It seemed a foregone conclusion, yet it had taken a lifetime to learn. “Choice” had undermined Sheila’s half of her complementarity with men, and it had also undermined Shaun’s half, setting a blight of irresponsibility and untrustworthiness upon men.

“Where are the good men?” Sheila asked again, but this time she had the answer. “I forsook them.”


This article was adapted from “Victimhood is power” at the Red Pill Report.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Odds and ends 7/14/2013

Humanists like to think they have a rational view of the world; but their core belief in progress is a superstition, further from the truth about the human animal than any of the world’s religions. –John Gray, Straw Dogs

Logic at the Atlantic: “Men and Women Often Expect Different Things When They Move In Together: A new study suggests that men are more likely than women to be not ‘completely committed’ to their partners.” Excerpt:

At 33, my friend (I’ll call her Shannon) had little to show for her five-year relationship with her live-in boyfriend. No ring. No baby. No future. So she finally decided to break up with him.

Back when Shannon and her (younger) boyfriend moved in together, things had looked a lot brighter. They shared a love of indie music and the Charlottesville arts scene. She thought they both wanted a future together. But over time, her boyfriend turned aside her queries about their shared future—queries that started off subtle and became more explicit as the years passed by. Finally, when she turned 33, Shannon told him she wanted a wedding date, to which he responded that he was not ready for marriage.

Shannon’s experience with a live-in boyfriend with commitment issues, it seems, is not all that unusual. According to a new paper from RAND by sociologists Michael Pollard and Kathleen Mullan Harris, cohabiting young adults have significantly lower levels of commitment than their married peers. This aversion to commitment is particularly prevalent among young men who live with their partners.

All the benefits of marriage without the lifelong commitment is a sweet deal for short-horizon men. I wonder how many people will read this and fail to follow it to its logical conclusion?

Between becoming a church regular last November and being baptized July 7, everyone understood I was working towards committing my life to Jesus. If an elder told me I could be saved without making that commitment, I probably would never have made it.

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto observes:

If it were 50 years earlier and “living in sin” were still frowned upon, Shannon would have had the leverage to insist on marriage much earlier—or, if the boyfriend proved unwilling, the impetus to move on. The option of cohabitation tends to give men the upper hand in relationships. Even though it was Shannon who dumped her boyfriend, he manifestly had the stronger position.

That “living in sin” is no longer frowned on is evidence of a cultural recession. This CNBC story hits familiar notes:

The [birthrate] drop comes amid a longer term trend toward women having their children later in life. The average age for a woman having her first child was 25.6 years old in 2011, up from 21.4 years old in 1970, according to the CDC.

It also has coincided with an excruciatingly long period of high unemployment and weak economic growth.

Economists say the slump has meant that some people in their 20s are getting a slower start on landing a career-track job, or a job at all. That can have a lifelong impact on earnings, and it also can also mean that it takes longer to feel financially ready for other big steps, such as buying a house, getting married and having children.


Helen Alvaré despairs:

Defenders of human life, religious freedom, and children’s interests in marriage should excuse themselves these days for sputtering—for having literally no words to offer in response to recent events. It appears words are currently useless. All the words we would ordinarily reach for are taken, and have suddenly been redefined.

I sounded a similar note at the Red Pill Report a few weeks ago:

We have the numbers. We have the arguments. We more or less accurately perceive the world as it was made and as it was meant to be lived in.

It matters little. The enemy does not give us the time of day. We cannot penetrate the sweet-sounding music with which he plugs the ears of so many. His melody goes: “There is no limit to your knowledge. You are the author of yourselves. Impose your designs on the world. Remake it in your image.”

Linus commented on that piece:

On the facade of the courthouse in Richmond, Missouri, is this inscription: “Obedience to law is liberty.” Lefties are deceived into believing that liberty is achieved by an egotistical defiance of Nature’s laws and of Nature’s God. It cannot be done with impunity! Such defiance will lead to society’s misery, captivity and demise.

Staying in that theme, on July 3 at church we sang all 8 verses of “America the Beautiful.” I had never heard the second verse before then, but now it’s my favorite of the eight:

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

George Weigel writes a beautiful review of Pope Francis’s frist encyclical, Lumen Fidei. This article is a MUST READ. I’ll try not to quote too much from it. The extended italics are from the encyclical.

Lumen Fidei is an extended meditation on the truth that Walker Percy articulated decades ago: that life lived within the ambit of faith in the God of the Bible — the God of Israel and the God of the Church — is far richer, far more intriguing, and much more authentically human than any of the agnostic, atheistic, pantheistic, or solipsistic alternatives available in the early 21st century.

Faith, the encyclical teaches, is a divine gift; it is not something we achieve by our own efforts. Yet unlike the siren songs of the imperial autonomous Self, which lure us into the sandbox of self-absorption where the horizon of our apprehension rarely extends beyond the navel, the grateful reception of this supernatural virtue sets everything alight: “Those who believe, see,” Francis writes; “they see with a light that illumines their entire journey...”

This light, Bergoglio and Ratzinger note, has grown dimmer in our time. Post-modern humanity has convinced itself that faith is “incompatible with seeking,” with courage in the face of uncertainty — thus the profoundly influential Nietzschean critique of Christianity as “diminishing the full meaning of human existence and stripping life of novelty and adventure.” Determined to assert autonomy and what was understood to be maturity, Nietzschean humanity tried various antidotes to what were imagined to be the crippling effects of faith in the God of the Bible. The most common was the effort to separate faith from reason: Athens trying to make sense of life without the aid of Jerusalem. But that eventually came a cropper, the encyclical suggests:

Slowly but surely...it [became] evident that the light of autonomous reason is not enough to illumine the future; ultimately the future remains shadowy and fraught with fear of the unknown. As a result, humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights which illumine the fleeting moment yet prove incapable of showing the way. Yet in the absence of light, everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.

...

Radical skepticism honed by an ironic sense of life constricts the horizon of human vision and aspiration. We can see only so far through lenses ground by cynicism; and if we view our life through them, our line of sight is sooner or later bent back toward the autonomous Self, in what becomes a wilderness of mirrors. Biblical faith, by contrast, opens up “vast horizons” that suggest a superabundance of life and meaning. Biblical faith satisfies the yearning that led the ancient world to worship Sol Invictus, the sun god; but the sun’s light, however bright, “cannot penetrate to the shadow of death, the place where men’s eyes are closed to the light.”

...

Idols, as the story of the golden calf in Exodus reminds us, are gods we can control because we fashion them in our own image and likeness; those idols, as Psalm 115 teaches, “have mouths, but they cannot speak.” And in the West of a.d. 2013, it seems difficult to deny (although many are in denial) where all this leads:

Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants. Idolatry, then, is always polytheism, an aimless passing from one lord to another. Idolatry does not offer a journey but rather a plethora of paths leading nowhere and forming a vast labyrinth.


Michael Sean Winters writes in Religion & Politics about Pope Francis’ critique of capitalism:

The new pope’s critique of the current world economy has left conservative Catholic commentators in something of a bind. For years, they have denounced “cafeteria Catholics” on the left, those who differ with the Church on issues such as same-sex marriage or abortion rights. Now, it is these conservatives who need to either change their public policy positions or stand in the cafeteria line. “Before, Catholic economic conservatives like George Weigel and Robert Sirico could pretend that Vatican apparatchiks were smuggling traditional anti-capitalist language into papal pronouncements,” says Trinity College’s Mark Silk, who serves on the editorial board of Religion & Politics. “But no one can doubt that this language comes straight from Pope Francis’ heart. That’s what’s freaking the conservatives out.”

I am not freaking out. We are a people with an economy, not an economy with a people. Just as we are a people with a government, not a government with a people.

While it is true that Papa Francesco does not subscribe to certain varieties of liberation theology, he is also not likely to be found at a Tea Party rally, reading Ayn Rand, or otherwise evidencing much sympathy for the anti-government, pro-capitalist positions common among Catholic conservatives in the U.S.

The tea party protests big government statism, which, whether people who identify with the tea party know it or not, is consistent with the Catholic doctrine of subsidiarity. Tea party hosannas to Ayn Rand and her seminal work Atlas Shrugged don’t often include praise of the protagonists’ atheism, coldness to others, and empty personal lives. Conservatives love Rand for her accurate depiction of whom Thomas Sowell calls the “anointed,” the planners who presume to reauthor man and his driving instincts. I’ve laid this all out in “Failure is the only option” and “Welfare state vs civil society.”

Pope Francis as cardinal drafted a document in 2007 that reads in part:

When science and technology are placed solely at the service of the market and profitability and what is functional are the sole criterion of effectiveness, they create a new vision of reality. Thus, through the use of the mass media, an esthetic sense, a vision of happiness, a perception of relationship and even a language have been making inroads, and the aim is that it be imposed as an authentic culture. The result is the destruction of what is truly human in the processes of cultural construction that emerge from personal and collective exchange.

I honestly don’t know what the tension is between full-spectrum conservatives and Pope Francis, other than a misunderstanding on the part of some conservatives who read socialism into the Pope’s commands to love your fellow man and give charity to the poor. In order to keep big government out of our lives, we must be individually willing to take on the responsibility of sustaining our communities.

Speaking of reauthoring man, Francis Beckwith delves deep into the lyrical apotheosis of this Leftist fantasy:

The late John Lennon implied in this famous tune that utopia requires the absence of real human differences and firm convictions, as if the communities, beliefs, and civil societies that arise from a free people are the enemy rather than the fruit of peace. Lennon imagined a world in which nothing was worth dying for (and thus not worth living for), that the afterlife offered no hope (“above us only sky”), that a man may not own what is rightly his (“no possessions”), and that life’s meaning is forever severed from a transcendent source (“no religion too”).

Unsurprisingly, Lennon’s cultural children, who now occupy the seats of power in virtually all our public institutions, view any opposition to their flower-child idealism as by its very nature inconsistent with the “good society,” even if such opposition is a consequence of a free people exercising their rightful powers as citizens. Thus, they do not view their visceral hostility to contrary voices as a prologue to tyranny, but rather, as a legitimate reaction to those who propagate “injustice.” Consequently, given human nature, and the diversity of social, intellectual, and religious paths that arise from a free people committed to ordered liberty, the world of “Imagine” can only be achieved by suppressing the opposition.



This is depressing not for the scumbags who assaulted the preachers, but for all the punks who cheered them on.


At the American Conservative, Jonathan Coppage explains much better than me the danger of regulating rural American business. Again, the extended italics are excerpts from a New York Times article.

Why, then, is this anything other than a tale straight out of Dickens, or Upton Sinclair? How could this story be anything other than muckraking of the finest order, revealing the wanton disregard displayed by a company for the health of the vulnerable workers it employs in a hard-hit region? Because of Dr. Ben Wofford, of Newton, NC:

Reluctantly, he wrote a letter in 2005 alerting OSHA about problems at Royale. One worker was in especially bad shape, he wrote: “Indeed he may die as a result of his exposure.”

But Dr. Wofford also urged OSHA not to overreact. “I would hate to see this plant’s multiple shortcomings result in its being shut down,” he wrote, warning of jobs that could be lost. “Many are my patients and are already in dire straits economically.”

This was not an idle, theoretical consideration, derived from a “pro-growth” platform, embodied in the classic Washington whitepaper. The Times describes how the doctor came to his cautious, concerned position:

Royale workers became regular visitors at local health clinics, including the Clinic for People Without Health Insurance, then run by Dr. Ben Wofford. Looking like “upright cadavers,” Dr. Wofford said, cushion workers arrived unable to stand on their own, supported under their arms by family members. They had showered and changed out of their work clothes, he said, but their breath still carried an odor he remembered from his boyhood days putting together model airplanes.

He had watched for years as his patients’ suffering worsened with the bottoming out of the state’s tobacco, textile and furniture industries. When people are out of work, he explained in an interview in his office above the pharmacy in Newton, N.C., a diabetic ulcer that would normally cost a toe takes a leg. Their nonfatal hernia bleeds them to death.

“You kill jobs,” Dr. Wofford said, “you kill patients.”

The issues of regulation, safety, health, well-being, are all enmeshed in a fabric of struggle amidst tightly limited resources.


In high school, I used to watch Bill O’Reilly from beginning to end. In the last 5 years, I’ve watched maybe two full segments. What turned me off were his attacks on “speculators” during the 2008 oil spike. Thinking people know prohibitive environmental regulations and the de facto moratorium on new refineries have led to consistently high oil prices. What are “speculators” but working people who sometimes earn money and sometimes lose money in trading oil futures? Anyone telling me otherwise is not worth my time. Well, I’m sorry to see O’Reilly hasn’t lost his touch:

O’Reilly also criticized another email from a viewer called Jim, who suggested that immigration reform would not be needed if the federal government would enforce the laws already on the books.

“So that means federal agents will begin forcibly rounding up millions of illegal people, entering their homes and removing men, women and children, taking them to holding pens where they will be awaiting deportation. Is that your vision, Jim? Because that’s what enforcing existing laws would mean,” O'Reilly said.

Why not just scrub all threat of deportation out of the law, then, if deportation is so terrible? More here.


George Will sums up Egypt:

It is difficult to welcome a military overthrow of democratic results. It is, however, more difficult to regret a prophylactic coup against the exploitation of democratic success to adopt measures inimical to the development of a democratic culture.

Tyranny comes in many flavors. Some are much worse than others because they are more comprehensive and potentially durable. The tyranny portended by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood promised no separation of politics and religion, hence the impossibility of pluralism, and a hostility to modernity that guaranteed economic incompetence. Theologized politics, wherein compromise is apostasy, points toward George Orwell’s vision of totalitarianism — “a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”


Krugman’s inconsistency (hat tip Taranto):

“Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect...In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker’s incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of ‘Eurosclerosis,’ the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.” –former Enron adviser Paul Krugman and Robin Wells (Mrs. Krugman), “Introduction to Macroeconomics,” second edition, 2009
“In general, modern conservatives believe that our national character is being sapped by social programs that, in the memorable words of Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, ‘turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.’ More specifically, they believe that unemployment insurance encourages jobless workers to stay unemployed, rather than taking available jobs...The move to slash unemployment benefits...is counterproductive as well as cruel; it will swell the ranks of the unemployed even as it makes their lives ever more miserable.” –Krugman, New York Times, July 1, 2013

Hey, it pays well.


Eric Holder called us a “nation of cowards.” President Obama said if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. These men are not sincere racial healers. They are Leftists for whom race is a proxy for class. It does not serve their interests to stave off race riots in the event of George Zimmerman’s acquittal. Nevertheless, that’s what Arnold S. Trebach demands of them in the American Spectator:

The harmful behavior of our national leaders is historic in a negative sense and thankfully rare. The actions those leaders should now take must meet the terrible challenge of the situation they have had such a heavy hand in creating. These actions will take guts and courage on their part because they would involve doing something that is completely out of character up to now for them.

Remember when the Miami Heat honored Trayvon Martin by releasing a photo of the team in hoodies? The team said in a statement: “We support our players and join them in hoping that their images and our logo can be part of the national dialogue and can help in our nation’s healing.”

What would the nation need to heal from, other than non-blacks’ collective racism against blacks that got a young black boy killed? I take offense that this incident has anything to do with me, and that I am thrust into a “dialogue” that implicates me in murder.

Recall this happened between the incident and the time Zimmerman was charged, adding momentum to the lynch mob that resulted in the sham prosecution of Zimmerman.


Like me, Marco Belinelli is 27 years old and knows what he wants. The similarities end there. He just signed with the San Antonio Spurs. Via Project Spurs:

Instead of optimizing his financial potential, and taking a larger contract, he willingly took a sizable pay cut (Belinelli reportedly received larger offers from a few non-playoff teams, but elected to take a paycut of approximately two million per year) in order to be apart [sic] of a championship contender. But it was’t until last season, on a Bulls team without point guard Derrick Rose, that Belinelli knew his future career path.

It’s beautiful to witness people discovering what they want from life and changing themselves to pursue it.

For his part, Belinelli says:

My career in the NBA until now has always been a bet at myself. Step by step I grew up, until I got to Chicago. Last season was crucial for me to finally understand what I want. I want to play with the best and win.

Word.


“Print this!” Bernanke doesn’t say (hat tip Bloomberg):

The overall message is accommodation. There is some prospective, gradual and possible change in the mix of instruments, but that shouldn’t be confused with the overall thrust of policy which is highly accommodative.

What’s the matter, Ben? Afraid people took your commitment to end quantitative easing too seriously? I guess we’ll have to wait a little longer to pay the piper.


On his June 6 radio show, Mark Levin read from his book Liberty and Tyranny:

Like the Founders, the Conservative also recognizes in society a harmony of interests, as Adam Smith put it, and rules of cooperation that have developed through generations of human experience and collective reasoning that promote the betterment of the individual and society.

...

In the civil society, the individual is recognized and accepted as more than an abstract statistic or faceless member of some group; rather, he is a unique, spiritual being with a soul and a conscience. He is free to discover his own potential and pursue his own legitimate interests, tempered, however, by a moral order that has its foundation in faith and guides his life and all human life through the prudent exercise of judgment.

He added this:

The next time you hear some conservative or liberal tell you that the social issues don’t matter, that values don’t matter, that moral issues don’t matter—“just focus on the fiscal issues”—well, that’s not a conservative or a libertarian. That’s a very confused person looking for shortcuts.

Two women soldiers based at Fort Sam here in San Antonio posted a revealing photo of themselves on Instagram. If you recall, Lackland Air Force Base, also in San Antonio, is ground zero for the military sexual assaults scandal. There’s a connection there somewhere, I’m just not sure what it is. Maybe it just reinforces the cultural critique I made here that:

   Men
+ Women
+ Heavily regimented workplace
+ Sexually overstoked culture
= High rate of sexual contact, wanted and unwanted

At the American Spectator, Peter Ferrara notes that President Obama is breaking the law named after him:

The Obama Administration announced, through a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, that contrary to federal law, the employer mandate of Obamacare shall not become fully effective in months beginning after December 31, 2013, but only in months beginning after December 31, 2014. Making the announcement through such a low level Administration official to me says that Obama has contempt for the American people, and for the rule of law.

This is what happens when you’re addicted to governing by discretion, relying on the judgment of bureaucratic “experts,” rather than by the law. Then again, if you’re Obama, you need the employer mandate start date enshrined in law to protect it from possible future Republican administrations.

Should this baldly unconstitutional act be challenged in the courts, I’d like to see it go straight to the Supreme Court, so we can hear the traitor Chief Justice John Roberts’s ruling on the matter. Will he defend his beloved Obamacare from Obama? Or will he see administrative leeway in establishing the employer mandate where there is none, as he saw a tax where there is none?


Delayed DOMA decision reaction from Spencer Amaral:

For all of Kennedy’s rhetoric about federalism (“By history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States.”), his argument ultimately undermines itself. The ruling argues that traditional marriage laws “humiliate” gays and deem their marriages “less worthy.” Kennedy writes in his opinion, “DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government.” Since due process and equal protection requirements also apply to the states, how are state laws defending traditional marriage not guilty of the same?

Patrick Deneen:

Future historians will marvel that a small, well-organized, and wealthy segment of the population was able successfully to deploy the language of civil rights in order materially to gain a raft of benefits that would solidify their economic status and position. Often disproportionately in key positions in the elite cultural, business, educational, and media organizations of advanced knowledge-based capitalist societies, this small but wealthy interest group successfully laid the groundwork for a suit that in reaching the Supreme Court set a clear path to national legal recognition and a host of federal, state, and private-sector benefits. Largely unmentioned today—but perhaps of interest to future historians—were suggestions that homosexuals, especially lesbians, enjoy economic advantages largely because they don’t have children, which could inhibit their economic progress and success.

Ironically, then, public benefits, supported by national taxation—ones initially enacted in order to benefit families in which raising children was the norm—became increasingly available to an economically powerful and culturally influential group whose advantaged position was in part attained by widespread childlessness.


Famous self-alleged gay athlete Jason Collins’ female ex-fiancé speaks out in Cosmo. I feel for her, but she evades the burning questions about her 8-year relationship with Collins. Did they have sex? If so, Collins is a bisexual and, worse, a liar. I only ask because Collins has made it our business to know these things. In all the glamorous reporting on Collins’s sexual identity, I’ve yet to see evidence that rules out heterosexuality, bisexuality, bestiality, or even virginity.


It took me a minute to realize that Taranto is serious:

Even Satanists are protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion, but that doesn’t give them the right to impose their faith on the rest of us.

...

Imagine a pro-Israel rally met by a counterprotest of Arab Muslims in which the counterdemonstrators shout “Allahu akbar!” Would it be charitable to characterize them as mocking the Jews rather than sincerely expressing their own faith?

Muslims by definition worship Allah. Does pro-choice by definition worship Satan?


“The underlying problem with this humanist impulse is that it is based upon an entirely false view of human nature—which, contrary to the humanist insistence that it is malleable, is immutable and impervious to environmental forces. Indeed, it is the only constant in politics and history.

“Humanists believe that humanity improves along with the growth of knowledge, but the belief that the increase of knowledge goes with advances in civilization is an act of faith. They see the realization of human potential as the goal of history, when rational inquiry shows history to have no goal. They exalt nature, while insisting that humankind—an accident of nature—can overcome the natural limits that shape the lives of other animals. Plainly absurd, this nonsense gives meaning to the lives of people who believe they have left all myths behind.” –Robert W. Merry

Friday, July 12, 2013

Reborn

I was baptized July 7. I belong to Jesus now.

The journey began in Maryland, where I spent most of 5 years wishing I were in Texas, where my friends and family are. (More on that here.) When I moved back to Texas last summer, I thought everything would fall into place and I could finally begin the life I had been waiting to live. Having solved the mystery of the man I wanted to be, all that was left was to become that man.

Yet something still stood in my way. It was me. None of the answers I had to what was wrong with me were working. I was like someone who had brought a knife to a gun fight. I did not have the tools for the job.

Cautiously, I attended a few services at MacArthur Park Church of Christ in the fall, then more regularly in November. I always knew much of what popular culture taught me about Christians was wrong, but I still had a lot of secular baggage to get over in order to become one.

A man talked to me one day after service. His name is Steve, and he and his wife are now two of my best friends. He encouraged me to attend more church events, specifically Wednesday night dinner and Bible study, and also Sunday morning class. I did, and over time I made friends and grew in my understanding of what the whole Jesus thing is all about. The teaching was unfamiliar, but blessedly simple. Weekly Bible study with Barry starting in the spring also helped enormously.

In June, I found peace with the truth that I am a sinner. I determined I wanted to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But I sat on the decision for awhile, letting it sink in. People who were interested in my conversion asked me about my progress, and I struggled to answer them honestly. I wanted salvation, but what was I waiting for? An excuse to back out?

I thought of all the times I had heard of a bridegroom getting cold feet. Usually it wasn’t because he doubted his love for his bride; it was because he was afraid of the commitment of marriage. I wrote in March:

Singles say they’re not “ready” for marriage, which means they haven’t met someone with whom marriage unlocks benefits that today are too freely granted in casual relationships. If everyone waited until they were “ready” to be married, no one would be married. Marriage, more than most things, requires faith, a promise to stick through the rough patches, however interminably they stretch.

So I took a leap of faith. On July 7, I prayed and I resolved I would be baptized at the next opportunity. That opportunity came that same day, at the Sunday evening service. Barry baptized me in front of the congregation. Afterwards, about a hundred people came to congratulate me. It was an unforgettable experience, and I was grinning like a fool the whole time. I saw God in those people that night. He was there.

My biggest sin is seeing people as who may or may not be of use to me, not as God’s creations. I can transcend my sin with Jesus’ help. It boggles my mind how I’ve begun to see people differently. That’s His power and the truth of my life. He loves me and sacrificed Himself so that I might reconcile myself to God. Such a gift can be had by anyone. That’s why I’m sharing it with you now.


I’ve striven to make this a blog of ideas, not about me, which is why I rarely make myself part of the story, as I did here in discussing how to be a better writer. But, by virtue of my writing about something, especially on a recurring theme, you rightly assume that I have a deep personal stake in it, that the thread of thought is foundational to who I am. I really am inseparable from what I write, so in many ways this blog is about me, albeit from a limited perspective.

Now that I’m saved, will things change around here? A little. I might more readily add caveats to my stronger opinions, such as rejoicing at the demise of evil men. I might more frequently strike a positive tone, as I now have the transcendent truth with which to ward off my envy of others whom I perceive coming by easily what I struggle to attain. But, by and large, don’t expect my salvation in the blood of Jesus to much change the tone or content of what I write.

Let me explain, because I do not want to diminish this. I see my journey to Christ as my heart catching up to the premises my intellect accepted long ago, before I started “Life’s complexity and mortal weight.” Those premises haven’t changed.

By the way, I credit much of that intellectual development to Jewish, conservative radio host Dennis Prager, whose show I began tuning into in 2008 as a pliable, secular center-rightist. It took a Jew to bring my mind to God; it took Jesus to bring my heart. That sounds like the corny tag line of a spiritual self-help book, although it’s not really as ironic as it sounds when you consider that Jesus was a Jew.