Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Zippy zings

Liberalism attempts to make a unifying principle out of ruthlessly enforced disunity. If you won’t agree to be my brother, I will crack your skull.

Whole thing here.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

From the Pope, another guide to clear thinking and moral perspicacity

A few highlights from the MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD MEETINGS OF POPULAR MOVEMENTS IN MODESTO (CALIFORNIA) [16-18 FEBRUARY 2017] (10 FEBRUARY 2017):

I would also like to highlight the work done by the PICO National Network and the organizations promoting this meeting. I learned that PICO stands for “People Improving Communities through Organizing”. What a great synthesis of the mission of popular movements: to work locally, side by side with your neighbors, organizing among yourselves, to make your communities thrive.
Okay, so Obama was on the right track after all.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Post-election Christmas reflection



Yes, that's a human baby. I'll explain in a moment why she's there. Lest I be accused of misdirection, let me say something about the election: Trump, the latest incarnation (sorry) of conservative liberalism, won. He's bad, but She- the "Grandma Abortion Witch" (all credit to Zippy Catholic) - was far worse. Better him than her. And that's the end of my analysis. Maybe at a later time.

The baby above was born in mid-October, my elder daughter's firstborn. She was about two weeks old when her mother pressed the camera's shutter button. With Christmas upon us, it's remarkable to ponder that, a mere two weeks earlier, Hillary Clinton would have supported the murder of this child, had its mother felt so inclined, and by means most gruesome, so gruesome it beggars the imagination. We kill babies in a spectacular variety of ways undreamed of by previous societies. We live in advanced times.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Non-starter

We will not, this time anyway, have our first woman president. On a list of a hundred reasons why I might support someone for president, this one wouldn't even make the list.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

The Great Egret ...

..pays a visit. Click (maybe twice, to get to full size) so that he can look you in the eye.


He and the Great Blue are sharing space, sort of.

Monday, August 01, 2016

The Religions of Peace

Speaking of that terror attack on the French Catholic priest (notice how quickly it's disappeared from the news), the leader of the world's largest religion shared his thoughts:

Speaking on the papal plane en route to Krakow, Poland, for World Youth Day celebrations, Francis said the world had been in "a piecemeal war" for some time. He said Tuesday's killing of the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 86, in St.-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France, was one casualty in this conflict. "The world is at war because it has lost peace," he said. "There is a war of interest, there is a war for money, a war for natural resources, a war to dominate people," he continued. "Some might think it is war of religion. It is not. All religions want peace. Others want war."

And thus does the martyrdom of Rev. Hamel get dissolved by his own Pope into the general array of conflicts that beset mankind - the 'fog of war,' so to speak - and the Reverend's Catholic faith melted into the pre-biotic soup of religious relativism.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Republicrats affirm the sexual flexicrats in their...whatever

[update at the end]

Peter Thiel ( I think his name was), founder of PayPal, gave a speech last night during which he announced how "proud" he was of being gay. (That means 'homosexual' for you linguistic revanchists). I am heterosexual, but have never been proud of it. I was glad of it, once I figured out what it was good for, but never proud, since I was in no way responsible for possessing it. When I say "I am heterosexual," I mean that it is intrinsic to my very being. When a man says he is homosexual, isn't he saying the same thing? So why then is he proud of it, as though it were some sort of accomplishment, when in fact it can only be a gift from God? If it is a gift from God, why do I never hear homosexuals thanking Him for it?

Later, Donald Trump reached out enthusiastically to the "LGBTQ community." He was very pleased with the crowd's approval of Thiel's speech. Now, I don't think that Mr. Trump, prior to the speech, would have known to put the 'Q' into the community without proper instructions from a speechwriter. I don't think he knew what it stands for. Just guessing, of course. It's kind of funny, too, since during the campaign Mr. Trump found occasion to roundly denounce Mr. Romney as a loser, but in their attempts to suck up to that 'community', they sound a whole lot alike .

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nina Shea...

...at 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.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

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.

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...

...to 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

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

Honesty

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

...to 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 Boston.com: "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.