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.


  1. You are an outstanding writer, and this long, extremely readable, and insightful compendium of "Odds and Ends" demonstrates it.

    Even more than two years after it was written. It has clarity, wit, thoughtfulness and, most important, timelessness and timeliness!

    Very, very well done!


    -- x