Friday, April 10, 2015

Odds and ends 4/10/2015

“It is impossible to will a world where religious liberty is protected while endorsing a jurisprudence that describes opposition to gay marriage as animus.” –Andrew Walker

Two top-shelf columns on Indiana are up at National Review. First, Kevin Williamson, who clearly is not a fan of the 1964 CRA:

When there is no private property — the great legal fiction of “public accommodation” saw to its effective abolition — then everything is subject to brute-force politics, and there can be no live-and-let-live ethic, which is why a nation facing financial ruination and the emergence of a bloodthirsty Islamic caliphate is suffering paroxysms over the question of whether we can clap confectioners into prison for declining to bake a cake for a wedding in which there is no bride.

The people who have hijacked the name “liberal” — the étatists — always win when social questions are decided by the state rather than in private life, because the expansion of the state, and the consequent diminution of private life, is their principal objective. The self-styled progressive sets himself in rhetorical opposition to Big Business, but the corporate manager often suffers from the same fatal conceit as the economic étatist — an unthinking, inhumane preference for uniformity, consistency, regimentation, and conformity. It is no surprise to see Apple and Walmart joining forces here against the private mind. There is a reason that the atmosphere and protocols of the corporate human-resources office are a great deal like those of the junior-high vice-principal’s office: All reeducation facilities have a little something in common.

And Andrew Walker:

When the Left rejects the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it invites compelled speech. When photographers are forced under threat of fines to shoot weddings or religious services that they believe are immoral, the assumption is that we are sometimes legally bound to participate in certain kinds of speech, and the state becomes the arbiter of what that speech is in specific instances.

When the Left rejects the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it welcomes the erosion of free association. When the state can deem codes of conduct or membership statements to be irrational prejudice, it diminishes the ability of citizens to associate or to organize for a cause.

When the Left rejects the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it invites the derogation of religious motives underpinning free expression. It allows the state to determine what beliefs are properly or improperly grounds for taking legal action.

Which leads to my final point. When the Left rejects the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it invites the imposition of state-enforced morality. The Left requires obedience and punishes dissent. It insists that all citizens must, against their will, act only in a manner that liberalism judges to be accommodating and politic.

If “discrimination is discrimination,” RFRAs aren’t enough. Nathaniel Frank has a point.

Now, just because it may be sincere does not make it right; it’s still discrimination. Indeed, it’s abundantly clear to anyone who thinks about it that citing religion in asserting anti-gay beliefs is prejudice pure and simple—just ask them for evidence of giving divorced people the same litmus test as gay people, and you’ll have proof of cherry-picking religious texts to suit a bias. Where, for instance, is the outcry to let adherents of the Old Testament stone adulterers to death?

I wouldn’t put it past a federal judge to rule conscientious objectors to non-marriage are “insincere” because they don’t follow every jot and tittle of the Mosaic law.

Tom DeLay summarizes:

“The problem is the sin. So yes, when I have a business and some gay person walks in—unidentified, by the way; there’s no way you can tell unless he tells you—then I’m going to serve him,” he said.

“But if he comes in and asks me to undermine my values, what I believe in, undermine my religious liberty, then I have the right to stand up for what I believe in and not serve him.

“It’s not discrimination. It’s the government telling us how we are to act, what we are to believe, and that has got to be fought with every ounce of our being.”

Final word on this matter. Dan Delzell writes at the Christian Post:

Are certain people born bisexual? And are others born gay? Here is how Scripture addresses it. “Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5) Sin, like a person’s DNA, is hereditary. We received sin from our parents. And they received it from their parents. And it can be traced all the way back to Adam and Eve.

But here again, the Bible does not pick on particular sinners. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) This is the obvious part of the equation. What isn’t so easy to understand is why some people wrestle with desires which you or I never experience, and vice versa. The Bible does not elevate one group of sinners above another group. We are equally sinful before our Creator. And the Bible prescribes only one solution for sinners, regardless of desires, scientific research, orientation, background, family history, and personal tendencies. The only solution for sin is the cross of Jesus Christ.

Jesus died for people who struggle with lying; and people who struggle with adultery; and people who struggle with gossip; and people who struggle with being judgmental; and people who struggle with bisexuality; and people who struggle with greed; and people who struggle with homosexual desires; and people who struggle with pride. You see, Jesus died for all people. (see 2 Cor. 5:14,15)

While the world grapples with the idea of a gay gene, Scripture is light years ahead of that theory. At the end of the day, regardless of educated guesses, God’s plan for marriage between a man and a woman is the only acceptable place for sex.

Since we live in a sexually-charged society, many today are in need of God’s forgiveness for sexual sins. But regardless of whether or not you have “kept the marriage bed pure,” (Hebrews 13:4) you are in need of the cross. Your soul needs the living water of the Holy Spirit, who enters a person the moment you repent of sin and trust Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Once that happens, your body becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit. (see 1 Cor. 6:19) And the Lord is greatly concerned about what happens in His temple.

At Crisis, Rickard Newman explains how the sexual revolution made marriage redefinition possible:

  1. Sex has been divorced from children.

    The invention and proliferation of the contraceptive pill in the 1950s and 1960s made it possible to spread the lie that sex could be conducted for pleasure alone, without any unwanted consequences—like babies. As described by Saint John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae, the danger with contraception is how it puts personal fulfillment at the center of life’s meaning and fosters a self-centered concept of freedom, a freedom divorced from truth.

    Freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want to do, but to do what one ought to do. This is the difference between a freedom that will make you a slave under your sins or a freedom that will set you free through discipline and self-mastery. When pretending that sex is sterile we are no longer living according to the truth of the human person, and that puts us on a path to self-destruction. The fact that about 60 million children have been aborted since 1973 should be evidence enough.

  2. Sex has been divorced from love.

    In his book Three to Get Married, Fulton Sheen makes the following distinction: “In sex the male adores the female. In love the man and woman together adore God. Sex seeks the part; love the totality.” In the hook-up-culture, ubiquitous on college campuses today, sex is seen as just another recreational activity with no deeper meaning. It essentially favors male sexual desires while leaving females feeling disconnected and jaded. This has led to more STDs and unintended pregnancies, increased sexual violence as well as introduced a range of emotional and psychological problems that become barriers to authentic love.

  3. Love has been divorced from commitment.

    Love is not seen as an action, a promise and commitment anchored and sustained in the will. It’s rather based on a hedonistic mindset that sees love as an emotion, an intangible sentiment constructed in the mind and backed up by some butterflies in the stomach and physical attraction. With the introduction of “no-fault” divorce in the late 1970s and early 1980s, couples could split up for any reason, like “falling out of love,” or no reason at all. This legislative policy is erroneously based on the idea that marriage is primarily about adult romance.

  4. Marriage has been divorced from children.

    Almost half of all “first babies” in the U.S. are now being born to unwed mothers. For Millennials, out-of-wedlock childbirth is the norm. With more cohabitation comes less family stability, which in turn creates more single parents. Single parent families are more prone to poverty and children who grow up without their fathers are much more likely to use drugs, commit crimes, become teen parents and spend time in jail. With the introduction of same-sex “marriage” the idea of marriage as a union with unique and distinct procreative features is effectively being abolished.

  5. Children have been divorced from sex.

    The inverse of contraception and abortion is children as entitlements. With reproductive technologies and practices such as egg and sperm donation, IVF and surrogacy, it is no longer sex that makes babies but doctors and fertility agencies. Parenthood today is becoming a commercial enterprise, not determined by the biological union that created the child, but rather legally assigned according to adult intentions and desires.

Who does Brittney Cooper, of New York subway infamy, worship? Certainly not the Jesus who told the adulterous woman to leave her life of sin (John 8:11).

I often ask myself whether I really do worship the same God of white religious conservatives. On this Holy Week, when I reflect on the Christian story of Christ crucified, it is a story to me of a man who came, radically served his community, challenged the unjust show of state power, embraced children, working-class men and promiscuous women and sexual minorities (eunuchs). Of the many things Jesus preached about, he never found time to even mention gay people, let alone condemn them. His message of radical inclusivity was so threatening that the state lynched him for fear that he was fomenting a cultural and political rebellion. They viewed such acts as criminal acts and they treated Jesus as a criminal. And all who followed him were marked for death.

This is why I identify with the story of Jesus. And frankly, it is the only story there really is. This white, blond-haired, blue-eyed, gun-toting, Bible-quoting Jesus of the religious right is a god of their own making. I call this god, the god of white supremacy and patriarchy. There is nothing about their god that speaks to me as a Black woman of working-class background living in a country where police routinely murder black men and beat the hell out of black women, where the rich get richer while politicians find ever more reasons to extract from the poor, and where the lives the church imagines for women still center around marriage and motherhood, and no sex if you’re single.

This God isn’t the God that I serve. There is nothing holy, loving, righteous, inclusive, liberatory or theologically sound about him. He might be “biblical” but he’s also an asshole.

The Jesus I know, love, talk about and choose to retain was a radical, freedom-loving, justice-seeking, potentially queer (because he was either asexual or a priest married to a prostitute), feminist healer, unimpressed by scripture-quoters and religious law-keepers, seduced neither by power nor evil.

The Japanese stock market is rocking thanks to quantitative easing. The real economy? Not so much. Zero Hedge posts:

The real punchline when it comes to the Japanese QE experience is that the so-called “wealth effect” — which certainly makes the wealthy wealthier but exactly how far down the benefit ultimately trickles is up for debate — is on steroids because not only is the central bank helping to push up the prices of the financial assets held by the rich, the BoJ actually won’t let them fall, as we recently discovered when it was revealed that the bank intervenes in morning trading when sentiment seems less than euphoric. In other words, they are more than “supportive”, they have openly rigged the system, and we don’t mean in a kind of “behind the scenes the market is rigged by HFT firms that never have losing trading days” type of way — we mean in a blatant “we’ll print money and buy every single ETF that trades if we have to in order to ensure that stocks don’t fall” type of way. But we guess the fact that this is increasing the disparity between the haves and the have-nots is just further evidence that, much like poor people in the US, Japan’s poor similarly don’t understand Janet Yellen’s extolling of the virtues of having assets.

Re: Charlie Hebdo, George Weigel rightly calls it nihilism.

My venerable Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines “satire” as “a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn,” the secondary definition being “trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly.” That is not what Charlie Hebdo does. Issue after issue, Charlie Hebdo mocks, not vice and folly (which are fair game), but many people’s most deeply held and cherished beliefs, including their religious convictions. I won’t describe its cover cartoon lampooning the doctrine of the Trinity after the Catholic bishops of France had opposed so-called “gay marriage;” if that cover was not pornographic, than the word “pornographic” has no meaning.

In the world of Charlie Hebdo, sadly, all religious convictions (indeed all serious convictions about moral truth) are, by definition, fanaticism—and thus susceptible to the mockery of the “enlightened.” But that crude caricature of religious belief and moral conviction is false; it’s adolescent, if not downright childish; it inevitably lends itself to the kind of vulgarity that intends to wound, not amuse; and over the long haul, it’s as corrosive of the foundations of a decent society as the demented rage of the jihadists who murdered members of Charlie Hebdo’s staff.

The sophomoric nastiness regularly displayed in Charlie Hebdo most certainly does not constitute any sort of warrant for homicide; the incapacity of some Muslims to live in pluralistic societies and the rage to which those incapacities lead is a grave threat to the West. The question is: what do those two truths have to do with each other?

Here’s my suggestion: You can’t beat something with nothing—perhaps better, you can’t beat something with nothingness.

If all that Europe can say in condemning the despicable murders of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists and editors is “We are all Charlie Hebdo,” then what Europe is saying is, in effect, “We are all nihilists.” And how, pray, is nihilism—nothingness raised to a first principle, skepticism taken to the last extreme—supposed to defeat conviction, however warped that conviction is? If all that Europe can say to murderous jihadism is “Why can’t we all just get along?” its fecklessness will make it an even softer target for the kind of lethal fanaticism that recently turned Paris into a war zone.

Validating my take.

Rowan Scarborough writes in the Washington Times:

A backdrop to the massacre in Paris on Wednesday by self-professed al Qaeda terrorists is that city officials have increasingly ceded control of heavily Muslim neighborhoods to Islamists, block by block.

France has Europe’s largest population of Muslims, some of whom talk openly of ruling the country one day and casting aside Western legal systems for harsh, Islam-based Shariah law.

“The situation is out of control, and it is not reversible,” said Soeren Kern, an analyst at the Gatestone Institute and author of annual reports on the “Islamization of France.”

“Islam is a permanent part of France now. It is not going away,” Mr. Kern said. “I think the future looks very bleak. The problem is a lot of these younger-generation Muslims are not integrating into French society. Although they are French citizens, they don’t really have a future in French society. They feel very alienated from France. This is why radical Islam is so attractive because it gives them a sense of meaning in their life.”

Jordan J. Ballor writes a retrospective on Bonhoeffer at Public Discourse:

The day after Hitler was elected chancellor, Bonhoeffer gave a radio address in which he sharply criticized the currently fashionable and tyrannical understanding of the autonomous “Leader” (Führer). In Hitler’s rise to power, Bonhoeffer detected a dangerous connection between the will of the masses and an idolatrous concentration of power devoid of accountability and responsibility to any higher authority.

This conception of the Leader as an “office” was qualitatively different from previous ideas of divinely instituted political authority. The Leader was the expression of the individual will par excellence, and in his person vicariously represented the fulfillment of the masses. In this way, the mass individualism manifested itself in a kind of collectivism, with the Leader acting as lord over the masses.

Among other things, argued Bonhoeffer, such an ideology ignored “the eternal law of individuality before God,” which is violated when a leader “takes on superhuman responsibility, which in the end will crush him.” The basic God-given task of government is to protect and promote the freedom and vitality of other institutions of social life, not to colonize and tyrannize them. Bonhoeffer thus opposed any totalizing ideology that attempted to subjugate all of human life and existence to political authority: “Where the state becomes the fulfillment of all spheres of human life and culture, it forfeits its true dignity, its specific authority as government.”

My wife gave me C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain to read. Actually she gave it to me to read 4 months ago, but I’m just now working through it. Excerpt:

Beyond all doubt, His idea of “goodness” differs from ours; but you need have no fear that, as you approach it, you will be asked simply to reverse your moral standards: When the relevant difference between the Divine ethics and your own appears to you, you will not, in fact, be in any doubt that the change demanded of you is in the direction you already call “better.”

Divine “goodness” differs from ours, but it is not sheerly different: it differs from ours not as white from black but as a perfect circle from a child’s first attempt to draw a wheel. But when the child has learned to draw, it will know that the circle it then makes is what it was trying to make from the very beginning.

This doctrine is presupposed in Scripture. Christ calls men to repent—a call which would be meaningless if God’s standard were sheerly different from that which they already knew and failed to practice. He appeals to our existing moral judgment—“Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?”


I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside. I do not mean that the ghosts may not wish to come out of hell, in the vague fashion wherein an envious man “wishes” to be happy: but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary stages of that self abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good. They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved: just as the blessed, forever submitting to obedience, become through all eternity more and more free.

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