Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nina Shea... NR, assesses the plight of Iraqi Christians. They live now - those who have not been abducted, sold into slavery or killed - in miserable conditions. Prospects of a military resolution seem grim. U.S. indifference to their plight did not begin with the Obama administration. Says Shea:

...there’s no reason to think that America would shape its defense policy to specifically help Iraqi Christians. This was true even during the Bush administration. When I asked about a safe haven for Christians in 2007, when mounting kidnappings and terrorism were directed against the Christians of Baghdad’s Dora neighborhood, the State Department’s coordinator for Iraq policy told me that it is “against U.S. policy to further sectarianism.” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice confirmed that this was “the policy,” arguing that reducing violence would help all Iraqis, even though the U.S. helped empower, in turn, Shia, Sunnis, and Kurds. The Obama administration is no more inclined to help Iraq’s Christians. It took a public outcry for one Iraqi Catholic nun to get a visitor’s visa last month to testify before Congress on the plight of Christians in the Middle East...In May, Sister Diana Momeka of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena told me that 14 Catholic nuns from her convent have died from the ordeal of displacement. “This is cultural and human genocide,” as she told Congress. “This uprooting, this theft of everything that the Christians owned, displaced them body and soul, stripping away their humanity and dignity.”

Shea, who is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, makes a plea that sanctuary be found for these Christians (and Yazidis) in the West.

I am not optimistic. Even the beheadings of American reporters and Ethiopian Christians seem not to move us very much. We flap our lips in a pantomime of outrage, but we don't do anything.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The New Issue...

...of The Christendom Review is up, with essays by Paul Cella and Beth Impson, and a good deal of poetry.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Update: I'm blogging here now. There's another Sunday Thought up.

There's a Sunday thought here.

In any case, the blog part of that main page is here, from which, once again, I'll be posting until I can figure out what I want to do. Be patient with me.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

New post...

...up at the new place.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Student comes up to me after class, inquiring about a possible research paper topic. She was wondering if she could oppose the defunding of Planned Parenthood by the state of Texas.

"Uh, sure, I guess," I said (frankly not having heard of the matter, since I spend too much time in my cave). Apparently (I've now discovered from CBS), "Texas legislators cut Planned Parenthood out of the state's women's health program by banning participation of groups that support abortion rights." One judge said Texas couldn't do it, but then another judge on a federal appeals court said it could.

"Why is defunding Planned Parenthood a problem?"

Because, she said, of all the health services they provide to women which they won't be able to get anymore.

Well, I said, isn't Planned Parenthood's main money-maker abortion referral? That's probably what Texas objects to. Could be, she said. She wasn't sure. So the abortion angle doesn't bother you? I asked. Oh no, I'm pro-choice.

Young, bright, energetic, hard-working, participates well in class. Smiles a lot. Seems a very nice person. Could be your daughter. And to all appearances possessed of an imagination unmoved by the vision of tiny humans being cut to pieces.

I've heard it before, of course, a thousand times. But the last occasion of it is as depressing as the first. In fact, it gets worse with time. This being the last exchange of the day, I drove home feeling somewhat deadened, as if for company some dark angel of despair were riding shotgun. This seems a disproportionate reaction, but there it is and, as I get older, more frequent in occurrence. It's a thing I haven't learned to steel myself against.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

There might be hope for France....

say a couple of articles, here and here. I haven't read either, so have no opinion.

As for Belgium, maybe not:

Two deaf twin brothers in Belgium were euthanized by their doctor after realizing they were going blind and would be unable to see each other ever again... The brothers are unique in that their illness was not terminal. Belgian law, however, allows doctors to euthanize "suffering" patients who are both mentally sound, over 18 and want to die.

Belgian lawmakers are considering a law that would extend euthanasia to dementia patients and children, whose families and doctors consented.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

An Update

Posting is returning here. In fact, there's a new one just below.

I had a great time learning about PHP in the Wordpress documentation, spending hours trying to figure out "Widgets," and many more learning how to style a complicated CSS page using Child Themes. But, really, I have a life to live.

The Club for Growth part 2 - The Path to Victory...

...or, how Christians ought to behave in public. Or, how they ought to give witness to the world of Him who was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Or, how Christians ought to let their light so shine before men. Period.

Anyway, I think I've found a solution to Jonah Goldberg's problem with the Club for Christians, also known as the Republican Party or, as I like to think of it, the Party of Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior. Maybe the problem is not that there are too many Christians, but too many Christians of the wrong kind. If you've been one for a long time, and a sincere one at that, you're probably too judgemental. You've become set in your ways, cranky in your Christian old age. You think something's wrong with almost everyone and everything, especially anything connected with Modern Times. What you need are a few lessons from a new Christian, someone whose soul has not yet shriveled to fit a crumbling, archaic mold. You need some new wine poured into your old bottle. That wine would be someone like...Lee Habeeb.

Who? Lee Habeeb. He's a recent convert to Christianity circa 2007. He was helped along by people like C.S. Lewis. So? Well, he wrote an article for National Review with the portentous title, "Letter to a Christian Nation." Mr. Habeeb is "the vice president of content at Salem Radio Network, which syndicates Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, and Hugh Hewitt." He was helped along in his conversion not only by C.S. Lewis but by a "few committed people of faith. I witnessed in them the power of the Holy Spirit. It was the power of their lives. The way they lived made them stand apart from other people I knew. And in the fall of 2007, I became the most excited and reluctant convert in all northern Mississippi." He then shares the following diaglogue:

“What brought you to Christ?” my friends asked.
“Christians,” I replied.
“What took you so long?” was the usual follow-up.
“Christians,” I replied. The kind more focused on other people’s sins than their own.

I could feel him staring into my soul. You can too, can't you?

He claims that prior to his conversion,

The only time I heard from Christians themselves was in the political realm. Two issues defined them — abortion and gay marriage — leading secular folks like me to believe that Christians wake up thinking only about babies in the womb and gay people at the altar.

This is so true, as the kids say. Not only do I wake up thinking about these things, I have trouble sleeping because of them. I roll out of bed wondering how I can stop the murder of one more baby, and how I might convince just one member of that gay couple at the altar that what he's doing is not only wrong but unreal. Of course, I have no idea how to do either of these things, so I'm willing to listen to people like Mr. Habeeb.

Post-conversion, he joined a church in Oxford, Mississippi, a "great church," he calls it, "one where the focus is on living good lives. We rarely talk politics, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve talked with anyone there about gay marriage or abortion." I nodded in sympathy. That certainly would make a conversation go smoother. Who ever heard of anyone resorting to consequentialist morality or casting an ad hominem over the weather?

He pays homage to all the good works Christians do in society just by living their faith, but, he says, "...when I was a secular conservative, I knew none of this. I saw Christian conservatives only as a potential political liability...I thought they’d hurt the cause of conservatism by chasing secular voters like me from our ranks — and, in doing so, hurt their own cause."

Yes, I see. In fact, I think I've heard it before, just not usually from a conservative Christian. But Mr. Habeeb is here to help:

...alas, as a new Christian (I am but five years old), I must address two elephants in the elephant house. Many in the GOP are blaming social issues for our loss and for doubts about our future viability as a party, so I figured I’d address both head on.

The two elephants are the aforementioned abortion and gay marriage issues. If he can teach me how to testify against these things without it resulting in one electoral loss after another, I'm listening. He begins:

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that life begins before the second trimester, or that Roe is bad constitutional law.

That's one way of putting it. Another is that even an idiot knows that human life begins when it begins. There is no other beginning to its beginning. That I know of. He seems glad that Christians have been "battling" Roe ever since, and have managed to get effective restrictions put in place. "Christian advocacy is working," he says. But:

The question is this: How far do we push forward before we start slipping backward? The comments by Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock on rape and abortion were prime examples of how much damage we can do to our cause when we take our position to the extreme.
The pro-life movement is misguided if we’re demanding that a woman must have her baby once conception has occurred no matter what the circumstances, and no matter how early she makes her decision. In short, if our goal is 100 percent victory, we risk losing ground with the very public with whom we have been gaining ground, one small step at a time.

You know, this is probably how Mitt Romney was thinking when he threw Akin to the wolves. He didn't literally throw Mourdock to the wolves because it wasn't necessary. He'd already done it to Akin. All he had to do was shut up and let Mourdock be eaten. I feel kind of bad because I supported Akin's and Mourdock's position on abortion consequent to rape. I see now that I was being extreme. Maybe I, and millions of other Republican Christers, should have taken a cue from Paul Ryan and followed the leader. It's possible, though, that that's what millions of Republicans were already doing. The poll numbers for Akin plummeted. Mourdock lost. So I have a question for Mr. Habeeb, which I hope he'll answer before article's end: Why did Mr. Romney lose too, after proving he was no extremist?

Habeeb reminds us that even if Roe were overturned, the issue would return to the states, with the result that "abortion would probably be legal in more states than in 1972. In states where abortion was illegal, leftists would provide their version of an underground railroad, providing safe harbor and transportation for women to get abortions in states where it was legal."

That sounds pretty bad, all right. But what are we to do? Give up on overturning Roe? He never says. He does say we should not give up our political efforts, but that in pursuing them we should "more profoundly engage the culture." How? By telling stories, like the one Tim Tebow's mom told in that famous superbowl commercial. and by engaging in all sorts of good works that will stand as witness to our faith. He tells a couple himself about just such Christians who ought to be better known in society at large. We also need to show "every pregnant woman that we care about her, not just her baby."

Christians are the majority in this country, but we often act like outsiders. We keep to ourselves, and spend too little time marketing our message and our works to the outside world.

I confess to being a little confused now, because a mere few lines earlier he complained about Christians in the political realm "marketing" their views too aggressively. But I think I get his point. He just wants us to mind what we say and how we say it. I don't think he wants us to shut up exactly, but just not tell the whole truth all at once, such truths as that babies conceived by rape are people too. I understand that there's a time and place for everything. I just wish he'd tell me when and where that was.

As to that other elephant in the house of the Christian Party crowded with all too many tactless extremists, he says:

Just as science has proven that life begins at conception, and that the beating heart inside the womb belongs to a baby, we may someday learn that gay people are born gay. That it’s genetic.

Yeah, we might. So? He doesn't say. I think we're supposed to extrapolate something from it. I just wish he'd spell it out. He does offer an answer to the essential question, though:

So what is the answer to gay marriage? From one point of view it should be easy for a conservative. Live and let live has been the credo of economic conservatives; what you do in your private life is your business.
But what should we do, we who believe that marriage is a sacred union ordained by God? Should we keep fighting at the ballot box to prohibit gay marriage? Here’s the answer, though many Christians won’t like it. We should continue to believe what we believe, and keep getting married in our churches. And let gay people get married by the state in civil services. Let the state be the state, and the church be the church.

I don't want to place limits on my willingness to learn, but haven't I heard this before? From Ron Paul or something?

Gay marriage is simply not the threat to marriage that some church leaders believe it is — certainly not more than adultery, not to mention divorce. I don’t see church leaders fighting to make either of those illegal.

And haven't I heard that before? From Wendell Berry or something? And: "...we should be comforted that gay people support an institution Christians and conservatives care so much about, one that our culture has for decades derided as being boring and utterly bourgeois."

I'll have to admit that allowing marriage to homosexuals will certainly make the institution less boring and bourgois, at least for a while. But haven't you now ceded, Mr. Habeeb, recently minted Christian, that "gay people" can participate in that "sacred union ordained by God," though sanction for said participation can nowhere be found in the Bible or in any tradition of Christian heritage? I mean, can you just answer us straight-out: is homosexual sexual behavior moral or no? Does it have God's approval? If so, where is your evidence? If not, what do you want us to do about it? I'm trying to remain flexible, but I'm a simple man. Help me out.

He concludes:

Quoting the Old Testament, Washington wrote, "every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid...For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens..."

Finishing in his own words:

The most important political debate of our time — the one that dwarfs all others — is about the size and scale of government, and the degree to which the state intrudes into our lives...

I don't follow the transition either, but I do finally get the big picture. I see now the path to victory. Republican Christians simply need to acquire a sense of proportion. Here are the lessons I've taken away:

1. Defeat the enemy by making him your friend. In a sense, become him by using his own tactics against your other, Christian, friends; thus, you will endear yourself to him. For example, every now and then stereotype your fellow Christians: "They care more about other people's sins than about their own." Or: "They care more about babies than about women."

2. Don't get up on the wrong side of the bed. Your first thoughts should not be about babies in danger of murder or societal-wide approval of homosexual liasons in the form of marriage. These are things worth thinking about, but in their proper time and place. Just go about your business of setting a good example by being a good Christian, which does not require your thinking about abortion and homosexual marriage from morning to night, nor confronting their proponents in "the political realm" with accusations of sin and depravity.

3. (Following from #2) Don't tell the truth straight out. Basically, shut up about it. It's okay to tell the truth to friends, but not to the enemy of whom you would make a friend. Especially in the case of abortion post-rape, do not assert that the child so conceived is just as human and innocent as the rest of us. Do not make public this fact - "no matter what the circumstances, and no matter how early she makes her decision" - because the woman's circumstances outweigh the baby's life, because - since "life begins before the second trimester" - an earlier decision is better than a late one because...I haven't gotten that far yet, and because it hurts Republicans at the polls. As to that homosexual couple on the way to the altar, stop hurling accusations of sin and making metaphysical assertions to the effect that, given the presence of immorality and the absence of sexual complementarity, the condition to which they aspire is an unattainable fantasy. In fact, capitulate. Gay marriage is no threat to your marriage, and will make the institution at large less "boring."

4. (In furtherance of 3) Draw the same sorts of moral equivalencies that your enemy (soon to be your friend) does, i.e., rinse and repeat that adultery and divorce are as much if not more of a threat to marriage than the gay kind. If you insist on believing that homosexual marriage is an evil, you are nevertheless capable (with a little effort) of internalizing the fact that when other evils are already destroying an institution, you can certainly make room for one more that (probably) won't make it any worse, if that one more evil is even evil at all.

5. Invoke a Founder now and then, like Washington, to bolster the growing opinion that disapproval of homosexual unions is indeed a form of bigotry. It's not at all clear that such unions were on Washington's radar when he made his remarks, but since it's not clear it's all right to use him for this purpose.

6. Finally, that sense of proportion. Get one. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist" to see that "the size and scale of government" is far more important to the health of our culture than a baby's life or the true nature of marriage.

Okay, I've heard it all before, but I'll give it a re-think. It'll be hard to get with the program all at once because my learning curve is steep. It takes time to re-convert from a previous conversion. A lot of beams will have to be swept from my eyes. In the meantime, I'm still a little disappointed that Mr. Habeeb never told me why Romney lost, since he was just the sort of moderate, non-extremist, almost Christian Christian that the Republican Party should welcome going forward. Maybe that's a subject for another column. I'll be on the lookout for it.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Blogging for the New Year (and possibly only for the time being) will continue here. I just want the blog and the homepage to be coming from the same place. This could all change in the near future for reasons I don't want to bore you with.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas... any who visit here. For your Christmas Eve listening pleasure, The Robert Shaw Chorale.
(And another one here.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Club for Growth

It's funny watching conservatives agonize over their recent electoral losses (plural, because they lost more than just the presidency). They can't figure out what they did wrong. Why did so many conservative voters stay home, enough of them to have changed the outcome? Why, they wondered, can't we appeal to a broader swath of the electorate, especially to people who would seem a natural constituency, like Asian-Americans? Jonah Goldberg is among the wonderers. He points out that Obama captured "nearly three-quarters" of that Asian-American vote. This is puzzling, he says, because it

runs counter to a lot of conventional wisdom on both the left and the right. On average, family income is higher and poverty is lower among Asian Americans than among non-Latino whites. Entrepreneurship, family cohesion, and traditional values all run strong among Asian Americans, and reliance on government runs weak.

And yet Asian Americans — now the fastest-growing minority in America — are rapidly becoming a core constituency of the Democratic party.

That is a head-scratcher, isn't it? He speculates:

Perhaps the most common explanation for the GOP’s problem with Asian Americans is the party’s pronounced embrace of Christianity, which turns off many Jews as well. According to Pew studies, barely a third of Chinese Americans are Christian, and less than a fifth of Indian Americans are.

(I gather that Indian - of Asian derivation - Americans went mostly for Obama as well.) So what is it about Christianity that "turns off" all these various races and ethnicities? Those Jews, for example. What is it about evangelical (and other strains of conservative Protestant) Christianity that offends them? Is it that these sorts of Christians are the best friend that Israel ever had? Is it that they resent the Christ of Christianity for having presumed to offer a fuller revelation than that given to the Israelites? Or are God and Israel not on the radar for the sort of Jew we're talking about?

When Goldberg says that "traditional values run strong among" this mostly non-Christian Asian American cohort, what does that mean, exactly? Has anyone done a study? For example, do their traditional values include an abhorrence of abortion? I don't think so. The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute tells us that only two far Eastern countries - Laos and the Phillipines - prohibit abortion for any reason whatsoever. As for the others, "abortion is broadly legal in the region’s two most populous countries — China and India — [and] the majority of women in Asia live under liberal abortion laws." Jonathan Last at The Weekly Standard reveals something interesting about the women of Japan: that the percentage of women "between 25 and 29 [who have] never married" is today at 60 percent. And "Gavin Jones of the National University of Singapore estimates that 'up to a quarter of all East Asian women will remain single by age 50, and up to a third will remain childless.'"

These aren't abortion statistics, but they are a likely barometer of abortion attitudes among women who see marriage and children as virtually irrelevant to their lives. It's hard to imagine they're very much against it.

So what's a Republican to do? I guess we could downplay or even radically alter the party platform's abortion plank. Then you might gain a Chinaman, but you'll lose an American: me. And millions of others. Pick your poison.

I also wonder what kind of intellectual armament these Asians bring to our shores, and what relationship it might bear to the concepts of individual liberty and just government as espoused by our Founders? As a commenter on Goldberg's article put it:

...can we stop pretending that it doesn't take a certain culture and mindset to deeply believe in the Founders' values? It took over 2,500 years of civilization to produce that culture - quite accidentally, at that - an unlikely branch of thought that passed through medieval natural theology, Anglo-Saxon proto-Liberalism and French enlightenment. A culture that has not been adopted by *any* other country, before or after, in any part of the world including Western Europe and Britain.

That culture was even in peril of being extinguished in the last 100 years, when Marx's seductive theories inflamed the brains (to different degrees) of the various Wilsons and FDRs, but although tottering from time to time, it was becoming ingrained in the American psyche. Then, we somehow decided to listen to Ted Kennedy (a pox forever on his name) and opened the doors to limitless immigration. Nothing against immigrants per se, since I am one too, but are we surprised that if we let in every Tom, Rick and Harry from all corners of the world - well, more like every Carmencita, Abdullah and Tran - these people are not natural Lockeians?

To further his case against the Christian problem in the Republican Party, Goldberg cites IndianAsian American Dinesh D'Souza: "Whenever a Gujarati or Sikh businessman comes to a Republican event, it begins with an appeal to Jesus Christ. While the Democrats are really good at making the outsider feel at home, the Republicans make little or no effort."

How do the Democrats do that? By exiling God from their platform, then forcing Him back in against the wishes of what might have been a majority? Are we to conclude that all these immigrants and descendants of immigrants are more "at home" in the absence of any mention of God, or is it just the name of Jesus Christ that gives such offense? Says Goldberg, "My friend and colleague Ramesh Ponnuru, an Indian American and devout Catholic, says the GOP has a problem with seeming like a 'club for Christians.'"

Ponnuru must be thinking of the party that nominated the Christian Romney as its presidential candidate. Well, okay, he was almost Christian. At least he knew how to pander to them. When he wasn't pandering, all he talked about was how many jobs he was going to create. The Christian stuff kind of got lost in the shuffle. Ponnuru must also be thinking of the party that heaped disdain and sometimes outright calumny on the heads of certain candidates who refused to abandon an essential element of Christian morality: thou shalt not murder the innocent. I'm thinking of Todd Akin and that Mourdock fellow in Indiana (Josh, was it?) both of whom, but especially the former, were abandoned by the Christian Club Party.

What do all these Indian Asian, Asian-asian and whatever subgroup among whom "traditional values run strong" think about "same-sex marriage?" Are they for it? Don't care? These people ought to know that there are plenty of wishy-washy Christian Clubbers, and some who are outright for it. But did the issue really weigh in their thinking? What does? Other than a desire to make money, which possesses us all, no one seems to know. Because this giant money-making machine came to be under the stewardship of a people largely Christian, you'd think they'd rejoice at the opportunity to belong to the Party of Jesus Christ. It's not working out that way, though.

In the end Goldberg admits that the Republican Party isn't really a club for Christians, "but", he says,

there’s no disputing that Christianity is a major source of strength and inspiration for many Republican activists. This is nothing new and, generally speaking, there’s nothing wrong with this. The abolitionist, progressive, and civil-rights movements were all significantly powered by Christian faith.

As someone who’s long argued for theological pluralism and moral consensus on the right, I think it’s nuts for the GOP not to do better with Asian Americans, particularly given how little religion has to do with the policy priorities of the day.

He was doing fine until he got to that last sentence. I've just mentioned two policy priorities that Republicans can't repudiate without ceasing to exist, in that, should it happen, so many people will leave the party that it really will not exist. Or (I ask again) is it just the name of Jesus that offends, and not any policy priorities that might be seen as finding their origin in the doctrine depending from that name? For is there any doubt that if that fairly large segment of the party that clings to its guns and religion were to abandon its public witness to, and reliance on, that name, the party would not swiftly abandon likewise its defense of the unborn? A general rule of my experience has been that when we decide to downplay or ignore a doctrine because of embarrassment or shame, we will eventually repudiate it.

Goldberg mentions another matter almost in passing, although it is the thing that ultimately gives rise to his article, and is the source of all the Republican hand-wringing:

A few years ago, Robert Putnam, a liberal sociologist, reported this finding: As racial and ethnic diversity increases, social trust and cohesion plummets. "Trust (even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer."...The villain isn’t racism or bigotry or anything so simple. The phenomenon is much more complex. Indeed, it’s not clear why this happens, but it’s clear that it does. Economic inequality and cultural attitudes do not matter much. "Americans raised in the 1970s," Putnam writes, "seem fully as unnerved by diversity as those raised in the 1920s."

Part of the explanation stems from the fact that people with shared experiences and cultures draw strength from working together, whereas with strangers, language often becomes guarded, intentions questioned.

Which reminds me of a student I mentioned in a long ago post, who today serves in the United States Air Force. Possessed of a big smile and a gregarious personality to match, she was an energetic bundle of patriotic fervor. She was also Puerto Rican. Her friends ran the racial gamut: Black, Asian, Hispanic. When asked in a group one day for whom she was going to vote, she said, "McCain." Her "friends" started shouting at her that she was betraying her race. "My race?" she said. "I'm not even black." Well, they retorted, you're not white either. She told me this story, and was badly hurt by it. Unlike our current president and many millions who voted for him, she really was post-racial.

Can someone tell me why over 95 percent of black voters went for Obama? Less than 30% (if I recall) of Hispanics for Romney? Three-quarters of Asians for Obama?

The Christian civilization built by white Europeans, who also built America, was the greatest thing both culturally and economically that the world has ever seen. Whatever faults you would attribute to it, like slavery (hardly invented by Christians, but certainly ended by them), this remains a fact and everyone knows it even if they don't like it. It seems likely that the distrust and lack of social cohesion Putnam refers to are very real things, but is it possible that they might also be in the company of something more powerful, something like racial envy or resentment? Because at the polls these socially diverse groups, however much they distrust each other, were rather cohesive, voting almost as a bloc.

My student's story, given as evidence above, is of the kind called anecdotal, supposedly the least persuasive in an argument's arsenal. But I find it very persuasive indeed because I know human nature. It's more complex than that, of course, especially now that we've surrendered our organs of public education to the propagandists of the liberal elite, but it plays its part. Envy is a terrible sin, and to combat it we'd best not downplay the Christianity which is our only weapon against it. It asks us to become born after the spirit, not the flesh, and I have a feeling I know which prevailed in November.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mary Did You Know...

...when you kissed your baby boy you kissed the face of God?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christendom Review

The new issue is up here. Essays by Lydia McGrew and Beth Impson, poetry by Thomas DeFreitas and Lee Evans, and an affecting personal story by Millie Sweeny, who also contributed poetry to a past issue.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


There is something to be said for it. Concluding lines to a female student’s in-class writing in preparation for the final exam (also an essay):

"This essay is terrible. I’m sorry."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Democracy blues (cont.)

Ben Franklin, agnostic:

Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.

While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.

Update: "There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle." - Toqueville

UpUpdate: "All who have ever written on government are unanimous, that among people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist." - Edmund Burke

Up3date: "Good government generally begins in the family, and if the moral character of a people once degenerate, their political character must soon follow." - Elias Boudinot

Wise men, though all laws were abolished, would lead the same lives. - Aristophanes

How can we live in harmony? First we need to know we are all madly in love with the same God. - Aquinas

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving any who happen by.

In thinking lately of our country, and of the difficulty in giving thanks for recent events, one could not be blamed for seeking solace in George Washington's first Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789. But there is also this, undated, from his prayer journal, a prayer for Guidance:

O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul....

Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, and direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life bless my family, friends, and kindred.

Yes, we are a different country.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Christmas music

WLRQ (99.3FM) in Melbourne started playing Christmas music nonstop a week or two ago. You can listen live here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Welfare Queens: A solution to the HHS mandate

There's a blogger at Patheos name of Rebecca Hamilton (I'm pretty sure), who calls her blog The Public Catholic (I'm almost positive). She's a (if I'm remembering correctly) congresswoman from Oklahoma (all this is subject to fact-checking by anyone with the energy) who talks about saying rosaries and praying for this and that and such like. Why can't we have an entire Congress made up of people like her? Also, if you start babbling in comments about what Congress shoulda woulda oughta do, and you don't know what you're talking about, you'll get called on it because she, you know, works there.

Anyway, in comments to one of her posts, a fan says, "...if the government was really ONLY concerned about making sure that contraception was freely available, it could easily do that without trampling on religious freedom. A government that can send out food stamps can also give out contraception. It chooses to trample on religious freedom anyway."

There it is. HHS, or whatever unkillable bureaucracy doles out the free stuff, should start issuing easy-sex-pill stamps. You can give it a different name if you want, but you can't just call them sex stamps because then it would sound as if they might be redeemed for sex. "I am Woman hear me roar" stamps. Anti-War on Women stamps. Sexual nondiscrimination stamps. Reproductive rights stamps. Fetal deterrence stamps. Naomi Wolf Memorial stamps ("aren't women entitled to a little lust too?"). Whatever. Most women can probably afford their own easy-sex pills. The ones who can't I'm assuming fall into the Medicaid-eligible category. If we're all going to be paying for other people's infertility anyway, why the farce pretending that insurance companies will offer the drugs for free by order of the government? (Isn't a compulsory freedom some sort of oxymoron?) Let religious institutions continue with what they've always done - decline to offer this coverage in their health plans - and make it available through some other agency. It means we'll be paying a bit more in taxes, but that's what the HHS mandate amounts to anyway. Seems to me that middle class housewives, divorced single mothers, never-married single mothers, and spoiled rotten college girls gone wild shouldn't be embarrassed to show up at the local welfare bureau to turn in their birth control chit. After all, it's their constitutional right and they ought to be proud of publicly laying claim to it. It's another way of making a statement. Right?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Goodnight, America?

Over at NR, Andrew McCarthy reminds us yet again what 'conservative' really means these days. And British ex-pat Charles Cooke explains why he despairs.

From McCarthy:

The brute fact is: There are many people in the country who believe it makes no difference which party wins these elections. Obama Democrats are the hard Left, but Washington’s Republican establishment is progressive, not conservative. This has solidified statism as the bipartisan mainstream. Republicans may want to run Leviathan — many are actually perfectly happy in the minority — but they have no real interest in dismantling Leviathan. They are simply not about transferring power out of Washington, not in a material way... today’s Republicans are champions of massive, centralized government. They just think it needs to be run smarter — as if the problem were not human nature and the nature of government, but just that we haven’t quite gotten the org-chart right yet.

That is not materially different from what the Democrats believe. It’s certainly not an alternative. For Americans who think elections can make a real difference, Tuesday pitted proud progressives against reticent progressives; slightly more preferred the true-believers. For Americans who don’t see much daylight between the two parties — one led by the president who keeps spending money we don’t have and the other by congressional Republicans who keep writing the checks and extending the credit line — voting wasn’t worth the effort.

Those millions of Americans need a new choice. We all do.

And from Cooke:

If we are to lose America as it has been, could we not ask that it be lost to something better than this? Our president, a Narcissus masquerading as a Demosthenes, makes big speeches packed full of little ideas, and he is applauded wildly for it...Only in a society that has lost touch with the ancient and is reflexively in love with the new could such a man be considered to be an inspiration. And yet, he has now won twice...This year, certainly, was not the perfect storm of 2008. Then, novelty and redemption played a role; this time, an insipid bore ran on an openly statist platform and won the day in a country that is supposed to be "center right." Maybe it no longer is. In 1980, when faced with a set of policies that demonstrably hadn’t worked and a president who wanted to take America leftward, America chose a different path; in 2012, it doubled down. That says a lot about a people...Economic gravity will prevail, as it always does, and it will eventually yield another conservative president. Indeed, the nature of the two-party system all but guarantees it. But this won’t do much good in and of itself. The growth of the state is a one-way ratchet, and its size and intrusion are almost never retrenched. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1788 that "the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground." "A government bureau," added Ronald Reagan, "is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth."

I quite earnestly believe in all of the stuff that I’m not supposed to. I believe that America is exceptional; that it is an objectively better nation than any other that has ever existed; and that it is, as it was explicitly designed always to be, the last, best hope for mankind. As Winthrop’s sermon poetically put it, America is the "Shining City upon a Hill," there so that men without liberty have somewhere to turn and a light that they might follow. I followed that light — 3,500 miles from my friends and my family — because I believed that my life would be better here, because I wanted to be free, and because I felt that under American liberty I would be able to be myself more honestly and more fully. There is nowhere else I could have gone. Alas, there is nothing written in the stars that says that America will always be America

I feel their pain. For most of my life I had always thought, like Cooke, that this was the greatest country in the world. You would expect a child to believe this, but even when I rebelled against it in the vapidity of my youth, I knew that it was. Even as I joined the crusade for sexual liberation, I knew what kind of girl I wanted to marry, and what kind of girls I'd want my daughters to be should I have any. I was a hypocrite. We all were. My generation, the spoiled ingrates of the sixties. We released the demonic impulses which previous generations had had the good sense to keep under restraint. Later, some of us wanted to round them up and throw them back into the pit they came from, but it was too late. Now they rule as the guiding spirits of our age.

I think the abiding sense I had of things was that, whatever our differences, we all knew that tyranny was our common enemy, and that we stood as one against it. To be an American - whether Catholic, atheist, Protestant or Jew, Democrat or Republican - was to share the conviction that all our lives were precious, that we'd take care of each other when the chips were down. There was no talk of abortion. Any word of contraception (I'm not even sure I knew the word at the time) came by way of the occasional friend who'd pull a rubber out of his wallet while informing me he was going on his date that night well prepared. Big talk, lots of it, but much less action. Girls simply weren't as loose then, and when they drew the line, we dared not cross it. That all changed rather suddenly, then evolved slowly until today such sordid matters as were seldom allowed in adult conversation we now take for granted. We even encode the sordidness into law, via Supreme Court rulings or state constitutional referendums. The sex, the contraception, the abortion, the weirdly concocted forms of marriage - those things that formerly were mentioned only in whispers, or in jest, usually in the form of dirty jokes, we now claim as natural rights granted to all men. All the filth is now good clean fun. It's as though some dictatorship of the sexually anarchist proletariat has risen up to proclaim its own triumph. It's not quite what Lenin had in mind, but it will prove just as ruinous. The whole Western world is tossing aside its patrimony, its tradition, its history, like crumbs to the dogs. This is something new in the world, in which a tyranny ascends to power by first exalting the individual's right to a liberty without limit.

I try not embrace Mr. Cooke's despair too fully, but there it is. It is distressing to think - though an almost certain fact - that my children will not live out the fullness of their adulthood, and that I will not be allowed to die, in the same country I grew up in. Maybe I only thought it was that country, while it was really something else all along.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Maryland voters...

[This post will be updated as items of interest make themselves known.]

...approve gay marriage. Maine, too. Washington, as well. Too close to call in Minnesota as of the early A.M.

[update]: It appears that Minnesota voters have rejected an amendment banning gay marriage. Not sure what that means legally.

In Florida, the amendment supporting use of public money to fund religious institutions was defeated.
The amendment protecting residents and employers against a requirement to buy health insurance was defeated.
The amendment that would put the federal ban on public funding of abortion into the state constitution was defeated.

Tammy Baldwin is the first openly gay senator. She beat Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin.

Colorado voters have approved legalization of marijuana for its recreational purpose.

Congressman Allen West has apparently lost his congressional seat to a Democrat named Murphy. West has not conceded, and seems prepared to take it to court. He suspects skulduggery in the vote counting.

From "A Massachusetts ballot question that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill has been defeated by a narrow margin." The margin? 51-49.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I Don't Disagree with President Obama

The Southern Gospel Yankee give us a piece of her mind.

Millions are called, few are chosen

Well, today's the day. The Most Important Election in the History of the Universe. I don't have to subscribe to Zippy's belief that modern "mass market universal suffrage elections are the lex orandi to liberalism's lex credendi" (roughly, that the voting ritual is the homage we pay to the governing liberal creed) to believe that there is something wrong with the way we go about choosing our leaders. If democracy works so well, why is this the most important election in history? The only reason it's important is that, I've been told, we're confronted with a choice between the forces of Light and those of Darkness. You'd think a well-functioning system would possess some kind of built-in restraint that does not force us into making such a choice. The Darkness should simply be out of bounds, never allowed to set foot in the arena. But the way it works in real life is that the people get to choose what Darkness and how much Light and whatever shades of grey they'd like on display. It is conceivable that we might have a saint as one candidate and the devil's henchman as the other. The henchman should never have been let in, but what's to stop it? There ought to be a law, but there isn't. The will of the people is sovereign. Well, you might protest, there are laws that even the people cannot transgress. There are limits to what they can do.

Really? Why is pornography so ubiquitous, when once it wasn't? Why is the easy-sex-pill (contraception) so widely available and its use approved of when once it wasn't? Why is it legally acceptable to kill unborn children and disabled people when once it wasn't? Why is it all right to discriminate against one race in favor of another, when once this was considered fundamentally unfair? Why has the protection of the law been extended to the practitioners of certain sexual behaviors once considered aberrant, such that now the behavior is to be lauded, and the parties to it mourned as victims of a reprehensible discrimination if they are not allowed to marry?

Get the picture? All of these are things the people want, and the law seems to have a way of figuring us out.

Consider what actually goes on during an election, before which comes the campaign. This is a period - covering today a span of at least two years before ballots are cast - during which it is socially acceptable for candidates to lie about each other, exaggerate, distort, and commit murder by soundbite. That's the culture we live in and the candidates submit to it. It is the season of general calumny. Recall even as sympathetic a figure to conservatives as Michelle Bachmann beating up on Rick Perry during the debates over the latter's approval of an HPV vaccine program in Texas. Perry admitted he'd been wrong, but she wouldn't let go, kept hammering him like a harpy about 12 year old girls, all to further her political ambitions. After getting whupped in the South Carolina debate, Mitt Romney ran ads in Florida that made Newt Gingrich look like that devil's henchman mentioned above. Some of those ads were outright lies. Democrats had Paul Ryan throwing granny off a cliff - in her wheelchair. Mitt Romney was accused of firing some guy and causing his wife to contract cancer. Joe Biden said the Republicans want to put black people back in chains. The whole Democratic apparatus accuses Republicans of hating women, of quite literally declaring war on them.

Some of the candidates, like Clinton and Obama, have patronized our cultural detritus by going on channels like MTV to show young people how sympathetically cool they are and to talk about their underwear. And there is the generally pathetic spectacle - campaign stop after campaign stop - of what I assume are usually men of some accomplishment pleading with the masses for their votes. They try to please so many constituencies that they end up compromising their principles. They take the stage in the company of rock music stars and Hollywood vacuities. Like their principles, whatever habitual dignity they possess gets compromised by all the pandering.

When election day finally arrives, millions of Americans go to the polls to do their civic duty. Because they've been told it's their duty, they feel important. They will help determine the course of the country by making their voices heard. They will feel especially important if their candidate wins. It always feels good to be on the winning team. If their candidate loses, the one thing you the voter must not tell yourself is that your vote was wasted, even though it was, because that would destroy that sense of self-importance that will bring you back to the polls in four years to make your sovereign voice heard once again. Except that no one hears your voice, just the voice of the aggregate. That's what all the pandering was about: to attract not the little grain of sand that is you, but a sufficient number of sand grains to make a beach out of rabble.

Here's the worst part: the leader of this country is going to be chosen by millions upon millions of stupid people. I don't use 'stupid' in a strictly defined sense. Many of them may have minds that could ostensibly be trained to think; it's just that they haven't been. They are much like what Obama thinks of babies in the womb: potential human life. It ought to bother us that drug dealers, gang members and whores are allowed to vote. It ought to at least give us pause that eighteen to twenty something year olds who spend six hours a day in front of an Xbox playing video games in which the goal is to blow people up for simulated fun are allowed to register for the franchise. The guy who runs a porn studio is granted a say in our country's future. Millions of self-advertised Christian young people (and adults) voted for Obama last time around, having succumbed to the doctrine that their purely private, religiously based moral tenets are not things they should attempt to see embodied in law. They must not impose. And they like the doctrine, because it allows them to feel good about themselves while fitting in with the crowd, and to pretend that they really do care about the babies in the womb while doing nothing to protect them. Do you think that 95% of the black voting bloc who will go for Obama are primarily concerned with preserving the principles of our country's founding? Is that why they're voting for this fundamentally transformational president? Do you think they know what those principles are? How many people do you know who can list the first five presidents of the United States, who have read the Federalist Papers, or can recite the Bill of Rights? You and I hardly know the width and breadth of all that's in Obamacare. How many people do you know who know one-tenth of what you do? I could go on and on in this vein.

There were on the Florida ballot (I forgot to count) somewhere between 10 and 15 presidential candidates. Only two have any chance of winning. We hear often that we ought to have more legitimate choices, but I don't think people really want that. If they did we'd have them. No, they play their part in the system, end up with two viable choices, whine about holding their noses when they vote, but vote they do, and do it again time after time after time. There seems to me something about the whole process that demeans the candidates and sullies what ought to be a more dignified and deliberative cultural endeavor, while supposedly elevating the role of the common man even as he casts his ballot to perpetuate the indignity. I'm beginning to think the common man is the problem, not the solution.

But I wouldn't wish to suppress turnout. As Ann Coulter said on TV last night, "Happy Election Day!"

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Leave the Democratic Party

I heard on the news that only 5% of voting blacks will see past Mr. Obama's color. The other 95% won't. They need to (but won't) listen to Bishop Jackson's message. Now that I think of it, Christians of any color should listen, because in my little theological fiefdom, you can't be a Democrat and a Christian at the same time.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Joy of Sex...for your kids

Does anyone know the relationship between Planned Parenthood of America and the International Planned Parenthood Federation? Because in the course of that latter organization's Declaration - Exclaim! Young People's Guide to Sexual Rights - we find this:

One of the most fundamental challenges of working from a rights-based perspective is finding the balance between young people’s right to be protected and their right to participate and take responsibility for exercising their own rights. Since each young person develops at their own pace, there is no universal age at which certain sexual rights and protections gain or lose importance. Therefore, striking the balance between protection and autonomy should be based on the evolving capacities of each individual young person.

That's just a sampling of the horror. I'd like to do more analysis but, lacking time, can think of nothing to hurl but obscene epithets. Does PPA subscribe to this? Does President Obama - who, when PPA pronounces on "reproductive health" and sexual morality, listens with the sort of rapt adoration you and I might bring to Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount - subscribe to it?

An analysis of the document at WND.

Hat tip for the link to an extraordinarily fine woman.


Friday, November 02, 2012

Family Ties

The conversation thus far has focused on the employees and students who would receive services under the law. The text of the HHS rule, however, extends far beyond them. It requires coverage, with no co-pay charge, of all Food and Drug Administration-approved "contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures...for all women with reproductive capacity."

That includes all female minors who are covered under employer-provided family insurance plans. That means Obama's contraceptive mandate extends to all American daughters covered by an insurer.

You'd think we'd have figured this out about the HHS mandate, simply by following its logic: You have dependent children. You are employed by a company whose insurance benefits require (via the mandate) free access to contraceptive, sterilization and abortifacient means of birth control. One or more of your dependent children is a daughter. She is thus covered, and if she wishes to have the access, you have no legal recourse to prevent it.

Currently, twenty-six states and the District of Columbia allow all children twelve and older access to contraceptives without any parental consent or notification. Connecticut and Maine let minors get an abortion without parental consent or a court's permission. States such as Oregon allow sterilization — yes, without parental consent or notification — as young as age fifteen.

Twelve and older? I thought a twelve year old who had sex was being statutorily raped by someone, whatever state she lives in. Yet the state's law would encourage this. Such laws of fairly longstanding ought to have been enough by themselves to have instigated a voter rebellion, throwing out the office holders who support the policies and impeaching any judges who impose them. There's just one problem: the voters don't care. If they did we'd have seen results a long time ago. We haven't, and we won't. That's why I say the country is morally insane. And now

The President has obliterated the laws of about half the states. Parents cannot opt out — they have to pay for this whether they like it or not. And they won't even find out from their insurance bills because of the elimination of any co-pay.

Supporters of the administration's policy argue this is a good thing. The Guttmacher Institute, a strong promoter of abortion and contraception, said in a September briefing, "many minors will not avail themselves of important services if they are forced to involve their parents."

It ought to be front page news, but since you're among the very few who care, you get it instead from Ben Domenech at Patheos.

Hat tip to Paul Cella of W4.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Yay or Nay? Your duty to vote for the Lesser Evil

But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. - Matthew 5:33

In the last 300 years, how many liberal democracies have been founded? Of those, how many ban abortion today? - ZippyCatholic

[Zippy, by the way, has a series of good posts on the subject at hand. You can start here and work your way north.]

There's an election coming, in case you didn't know. It's the most important election in our lifetime. Hell, it might be the most important election ever. It appears that what's at stake is the notion of liberty and self-governance enshrined in our Declaration and Constitution. The moral health of the nation, yea, even the very survival of Christianity, is at mortal risk. We stand on the precipice of losing them forever. It is, therefore, your duty to vote in this election if we are to Save Our Country. You might have to hold your nose, but hold it you'd better. The smell of a Republican victory might be a little rotten for the next four years, but nothing compared to the hellish stench wafting over the land after a second Obama coronation. With Romney there is hope; with Obama, there will come the loss of Truth, Justice and the American passion for moral restraint and material reticence.

Or so I was told in a recent email exchange with an old friend. He sent me a link to a youtube video in which Mitt Romney tells a crowd about how he helped find someone's lost daughter. He gets applause after finishing the story. It was a nice thing he did. I guess the point in my friend's sending it was to demonstrate the size of Romney's compared to what? Obama's? Romney will do this sort of thing and Obama won't? Could be. Nevertheless, I told my friend I wouldn't be voting for Romney or anyone on the presidential slate, and sent him links to a couple of my posts explaining why. My reward for sharing?

Not to vote in a state where the race is so close and which state could decide the presidency is to be morally complicit in handing the race to Obama, the most pro-abortion, anti-traditional marriage president imaginable. Do you think for a moment that Romney's Mormonism, whatever funny underwear he's wearing, or whatever he believes about Christ, God, or the Holy Trinity is more dangerous than our current President's Rev. Wright styled "Christianity"? You have got to be kidding! Look at Romney's record: how could you possibly think his appointees would be more hostile to Catholic teaching than the HHR secretary and Justice Sotomayor? You wouldn't countenance a Pax Christi Catholic sitting on his hands while people are being murdered next door!...John Paul II said in one of his books that the Church does NOT teach that only Catholics or even just Christians are the only ones who will enter the Wedding Banquent of the Lamb: the only place in Scripture where Jesus expressly prescribed what has to be done to enter is in Matthew, where He said that at the End, when people are clamoring to be recognized by Him as faithful, the only thing that will matter is not what they professed to believe, but what they did re feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, tending the sick, and protecting "least among us." THAT is being Christ-like, whatever your professed religion or lack of it. (and he expressly said that when some at that time cry out to Him: "Lord! Lord!" he will reply that he knows them not.)

Damn. What I mean to say is that it looks like I'm damned. I'm "morally complicit in handing the race to Obama." Not voting is just like sitting on my hands while someone next door gets murdered. Romney is not Christian, but he's more Christian than Obama. Failing to vote for the non-Christian Christian Romney is just like failing to observe the corporal works of mercy. After all that I hardly felt Christian myself.

Maybe I'm not a very good one, but I'm plenty stubborn. So I reiterated my list of complaints about Romney and the back and forth continued. He even hauled in a friend, a female, "an extremely thoughtful young Catholic I've known for years." Her reaction to my decision? A sampling:

Sweet mother of God! I hate to say it, but it's people like your friend who are the reason conservatives make little headway...It's not that the Republican party is the conservative party, but it's the only party on hand right now that we have any chance of making the conservative party. The Democrats epitomize and uphold the Culture of Death. Their platform celebrates intrinsic evils...

So rather than voting for the guy I don't entirely agree with but who can probably be influenced in the direction I want, I'll vote for the guy who not only does what I don't want, but who forces me to do what I don't want? I don't think so....

No abortion except in the case of rape or incest? Sign that bill tomorrow! Celebrate! That is so much of what our side wants. And if abortions became that rare, do you know how much custom and culture would be on our side to start to sway those final cases toward life?...

The selection of Paul Ryan for the VP slot gives some hope that perhaps this will finally change if Romney/Ryan win...

Your friend seems determined to be ideologically/theologically pure. He will vote only for someone who shares completely his values and theology. I guess if he were someplace like Texas or California, he could maintain his purity of conscience with no real harm done. But in any contested state, not voting for Romney quite simply is a vote for Obama. Can his conscience really be clear with that vote? While he claims to care about the dignity of human life and the teachings of the Church? Shame, shame on him if he sits out this vote!

I'll be praying for him.

First, I want to self-righteously protest that I've never hurled vitriolic accusations of wrongdoing against anyone who wants to vote for Romney. Maybe they are doing wrong. I don't know. At the least they are cooperating materially and remotely with evil, a sometimes permissible thing. But I don't have to answer for their consciences, only my own. However, they want to answer for mine. I'm being accused of something far worse than remote material cooperation. I'm being accused of formal cooperation, of actually wishing for the success of Obama's intrinsically evil regime. I'm morally complicit. I'm handing him victory. My conscience cannot be clear. I don't care about the dignity of human life and the teachings of the Church. And all because I won't vote.

Okay, I've had it. It's time to give all you navel-gazing, 'salvation is from the Republicans' politibots what they call on the web a reality check.

1. So rather than voting for the guy I don't entirely agree with but who can probably be influenced in the direction I want, I'll vote for the guy who not only does what I don't want, but who forces me to do what I don't want?

This is pretty simple, so simple that even people like you who (unlike me) care about "the dignity of human life and the teachings of the Church" can understand it: a non-vote is not a vote. You can say it over and over and scream at yourself in the mirror until your face turns purple, but a vote for no one is not a vote for someone. The people who vote for Romney are voting for someone. The people who vote for Obama are voting for someone. A vote for no one is not only not a vote for someone, it's not a vote at all. Can you do that math? The only reason you'd think a non-vote is a vote for someone (for the 'other guy', the 'bad guy') is that I've declined to join the aggregate whose numbers will eventually add up to a victory for one or the other. The reason I've declined to do that is that I think one guy is a bad guy and the other a really bad guy, and that the bad guy is bad enough that I don't wish to support him.

But look out, here's some more math. The chances of my vote resolving the election in any way whatsoever are so astronomically small that, as I told my friend, "you'd have a better chance on Nov. 6th of being witness to the Second Coming than you do of influencing the outcome." Therefore, my reason for casting a vote must rest on some more important factor than the extremely unlikely possibility that it will have any actual effect. It will rest upon my answer to these questions, which is really just one: what does my vote say about me? What stand am I taking? What exactly am I endorsing? And my answer is that I would be endorsing the political ambitions of a man who has said: that children conceived by rape can be legally murdered; that children conceived in incest can be legally murdered; that a child whose mother's doctor tells her that her health or life is endangered by the pregnancy can be legally murdered; that "leftover" human embryos are eligible for medical cannibalization and therefore can also be legally murdered; that we ought to have a Federal Marriage Amendment and enforce the Defense of Marriage Act while at the same time preferring that the Boy Scouts admit openly gay scouts and scoutmasters, that states allow benefits for homosexual "domestic partnerships," and (before the NAACP) that he hopes "to represent all Americans, of every race, creed or sexual orientation," and who, while running for Senate against Ted Kennedy in 1994 said that "I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent," and who has made it clear that he has every intention of institutionalizing the current policy of allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the military. A man who, in other words, on all facets of this latter issue, is incapable of striking a consistently trustworthy note.

2. It's not that the Republican party is the conservative party, but it's the only party on hand right now that we have any chance of making the conservative party.
This is similar to my friend's sentiment that "I still think him [Romney] more likely to be swayed on these three or four issues in the future than Obama is on any one of his myriad supports of intrinsic evils."

To which I must ask: what dream world do political enthusiasts inhabit? You will never make the Republican Party the conservative party. Why? There aren't enough conservatives, that's why. You will always be a scattered remnant and useful fodder in a vote-getting scam. If you believe that children conceived by an act of rape should not be murdered, you are an extremist. Mitt Romney thinks I'm an extremist, and yet you want me to vote for him. If you believe that homosexuals are human beings with the same rights of citizenship as all the rest of us, but that their sexual activity deserves no special recognition in law (which is what is meant by advocacy for "openly gay" this and that), then you are, in Mitt Romney's book - if not an extremist - at least bigoted in some sense. But after four years of his homosexual equality babble, it will be become Republican doctrine. Progressivism is a snake that swallows us in increments, a little more with each election, and a man who finds victory running as what is commonly called a 'moderate' will not be "swayed" in your direction. Moderation, not conservatism is what got him where he is, and he'll dance with the lady he came with.

3. No abortion except in the case of rape or incest? Sign that bill tomorrow! Celebrate! That is so much of what our side wants. And if abortions became that rare, do you know how much custom and culture would be on our side to start to sway those final cases toward life?...

Again, what world do you live in, the real world or the one in which fantasies come true? What bill might she be talking about? There is no "bill" that will overturn abortion law. It's legal because of a Supreme Court decision. Short of a constitutional amendment (which you will never get), or the Court's self-reversal, no legislation will suffice. Well, maybe Romney will appoint judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade. Maybe. But it's a very long shot. John Roberts thinks it's settled law. I'll bet Kennedy does too. Even Scalia doesn't think the constitution prohibits abortion. And even if they did overturn it, the issue returns to the states, where most will continue to allow some measure of it, and many a very lot of it. Which leads to the important point: no individual, no legislature, no court, no human institution of any kind should be granted the authority to declare a class of human beings to be less than human and thus fit subjects for legal murder.

How important is this "life issue"? Well, when I told my friend that Romney's enthusiasm for experimenting on leftover embryos was "sort of like being in favor of taking the gold from a Jew’s teeth because because they’ll be no good to him after he’s been gassed," his response was: "you can't be serious that being for embryonic stem cells is morally equivalent to gassing Jews or murdering infants as they are being born. To make a moral equivalence between Romney and Obama is to exceed the sanctimonious scrupulouness of the Scribes and Pharisees."

Actually, I can be serious, ala Pope JP II in Evangelium Vitae, quoting the Declaration on Euthanasia:

"Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying"...As far as the right to life is concerned, every innocent human being is absolutely equal to all others.

For pointing out which my friend further rewards me: "As the devil can quote Holy Scripture to tempt Christ; I presume he can quote the Catechism and Church Teaching as well in his attempt to confound us." See how it goes? By not voting for Romney I do the devil's work. My God is there no escape?

Here's the reality, you conservative, pro-life Romneyites: you live in the Abortion Nation. After forty years, it is by now an embedded social institution , originated, of course, by another institution, the highest court in the land, and further validated by the submissive acquiescence of all the other relevant institutions. It will not be overturned. Why? Because your fellow citizens do not want it overturned. Some people want some restrictions, but they want it. Plenty of other people don't want any restrictions at all. Every now and then a President, like Reagan, will make disgruntled noises, but presidents are powerless.

As evidence of the gravity of the crime, here's a graph I ripped off from Beth Impson, who got it from someone else. It says something very vivid about those forty years (click to enlarge):

The urgent need to vote for Romney seems to be based on the premise that somehow we'll be rolling back the numbers of the murdered, that millions of babies will be saved who might otherwise have died. Fine. Someone tell me how that's going to happen. Details, please.

4. The selection of Paul Ryan for the VP slot gives some hope that perhaps this will finally change if Romney/Ryan win...

"Some hope" would be funny as an understatement if it weren't so tragic. The writer seems not to have noticed that it is the Catholic Ryan who has been co-opted by Romney, not the other way around. He is now the mouthpiece for all of Romney's abortion exceptions and his homosexual equality agenda - without presumably believing them himself - because this will amount to a "movement in the right direction," as though we were embarking on some backward march away from Roe v. Wade and the gay rights agenda, when in fact we end up making our peace with them. And what does this say about Ryan himself? Lydia McGrew (here and in other places) once made an important distinction between a man voting for a bad law in order to minimize some evil and actually proposing the law himself. Well, that's what Ryan must now do, advocate on behalf of plainly immoral positions that he does not himself adhere to. While I can't bring myself to condemn him for it, I can only say that if I were in his shoes, I wouldn't do it. You can't "make the Republican party more conservative" by observing the liberal's rules. You have to draw a line, abstain, withhold your consent from the game itself - because it's rigged to perpetuate itself.

5. Your friend seems determined to be ideologically/theologically pure. He will vote only for someone who shares completely his values and theology.

Aside from being false, this is stupid. We've never had a President who shared my theology. Ever. And we've only had one since 1973 who shared my values: Reagan. So it turns out that a president can share my values. Why is that so much to ask when I'm really asking for very little, for the bare, civilized minimum: that a decent human being ought to declare himself in favor of the proposition that every conceived human life, without exception, from cradle to grave is sacred and cannot be murdered for any reason whatsoever under any circumstance whatsoever, and that no human or human institution has authority to say otherwise? What's so unreasonable about that?

Oh, I forgot. That makes me an extremist. Actually, I think my friend's friend is less offended by my purity than by the fact that I'm not pragmatically pure like her. But I would like to re-ask a question I posed a long time ago: why do I have to compromise my beliefs while the politician does not? Why should I vote for someone who quite literally holds certain of my beliefs in utter contempt? It's all right to get sick and tired of something, isn't it? Good, because I'm sick and tired of it and I'm not going to play anymore.

6. I will pray for him.

This, after all the vilification. Not that she will pray for Romney to change his mind, for Obama to re-convert to his professed Christianity, or for those millions who will actually vote for him to come to their freaking senses. No, she'll pray for me.

The purpose of her prayer is to get me into a voting booth when what I need are prayers for my soul to get me into heaven. What transformation would she hope for? That I see the need to compromise with evil in order to defeat it? To tolerate the virtue of moderation so that conservatism might be perfected? I'm afraid I don't feel a miracle coming on, but that's exactly what we need, because what we have right now isn't working.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Archbishop Chaput on politics and abortion

via Wlady Pleszczynski at AmSpec.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Orlando Sentinel gets linked... National Review. Why? Because they've endorsed Romney, while in 2008 they endorsed Obama. Why did they endorse Obie 2008? Hell if I know. Maybe they caught whatever was going around. I could have told them not to do it, since he was obviously a quasi-socialist, a religious and moral relativist, and a senatorial neophyte with no experience at anything except talking. How did I know this? Via the same means editorial writers could have come to know it: by listening to the actual words coming out of his mouth.

Any sour notes in the editorial endorsement? Try this: "Romney is not our ideal candidate for president. We've been turned off by his appeals to social conservatives and immigration extremists."

Oh, you mean like the appeal he makes to us for incest, rape and life of the mother abortion exceptions? His tolerance for experimentation on leftover embryos? His advocacy for openly gay scouts and scoutmasters? His declaration that he has no intention of overturning the overturning of Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell, thus institutionalizing the homosexual agenda as a martial virtue? Yeah, those appeals really get my motor running. You guys have ears but you still can't hear. Your endorsement's about money, not morality, since of Obama's positions regarding that latter category you utter not one syllable.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Obama the Profound

In the October 15th Weekly Standard, Jeffrey Anderson reviews Charles Kesler's new book I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism. Says Anderson:

Professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and editor of the Claremont Review of Books, Charles R. Kesler says that Obama "is playing a long, high-stakes game, and it’s not at all clear he’s losing."

Kesler reminds us of Obama's proclamation - like a new version of the Emancipation, stirring to some, ominous to others - in October of 2008, that "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." To which "Kesler cautions: 'Those words mean this will be a different country when he’s finished with it — a new land.'"

Now, Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope, is one of those things I will never read. But at one point, Kesler

highlights a passage from Obama’s The Audacity of Hope (2006): "Implicit .  .  . in the very idea of ordered liberty," writes Obama, is "a rejection of absolute truth." Yet the Declaration places absolute truths at the core of the American creed ("We hold these truths to be self-evident  .  .  ."). In marked contrast, Obama — who, when reciting the Declaration’s language as president, has repeatedly omitted its reference to our Creator as the source of our rights — says, "Lincoln, and those buried at Gettysburg, remind us that we should pursue our own absolute truths." Kesler replies, "Our own absolute truths? Those words ought to send a shudder down Americans’ constitutional spine."

Should, but don't.

I already knew this about the Christian Obama - that his relationship with truth was a completely feel-good, spur-of-the-moment, make-it-up-as-you-go-along sort of thing - but I am mildly aghast that in trying to lay out the case for it he had written such sentences. Even if ripped out of context, they are simply incomprehensible and cannot be made otherwise by putting the context back in. Perhaps in the phrase "ordered liberty" he was blinded to the 'ordered' and saw only the 'liberty,' which understood absolutely might lead him to think it was a thing without form until molded by individual desire. I have read only pieces of Lincoln's writing, but never took from it what Obama would have me. I did once read a short, book-length biography of him, and what I do know is that as yet a young man he developed and articulated to others his hatred of slavery. He was, shall we say, absolutely against it, because he thought it, you know, absolutely wrong. And how Obama manages to communicate with the dead at Gettysburg is known only to him and his medium.

I'm sure that in the book I will never read he gives it that missing context and explains it all to his own satisfaction, to the satisfaction, that is, of a third-rate orator in search of the soaringly profound, but whose stultifying mediocrity keeps him prisoner to all the liberal pieties of our time. In other words, he is incapable of saying anything that wasn't spoonfed to him by someone else who said it first. And again I can't help but wonder what kind of country this is that would choose such a man to be its leader.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

If you're a Florida voter...

...and find yourself uncomprehending of, or just annoyed by, some of the lengthy constitutional amendments on our 6 page long ballot, James Madison University has a page explaining it all for you. They chicken out on a couple of items, like the one concerning taxpayer funding of abortion (it's not relevant to their "core mission" - cowards), but on the whole a pretty good job. As for retaining the four Supreme Court justices, you can find all the explanation you need right here: throw them all out. There are 12 tickets on the list of presidential candidates, from the green party to the socialists. Even an objectivist party whose candidates are devoted to the philosophy of Ayn Rand. I thought I might be hallucinating when I saw Roseanne Barr's name. But after blinking rapidly and slapping myself, she was still there. If it's really true that anyone can grow up to be president, I'm getting out of here. The only interesting alternative to the two main contenders for liberal leader of the country was a guy named Thomas Hoeflinger of America's Party (or something like that). He's trying to run an old-fashioned "front porch" campaign that requests from hearers no donations. He seems resolutely pro-life, but other than that I didn't have time to explore much.