What is the Democratic Party today? …

… Well, it’s the cheerleading squad for seventeen” government agencies that add up to the craftily-labeled intel community,” a warm-and-fuzzy coalition of snoops, false witnesses, rogue lawfare cadres, seditionists, and bad-faith artists working sedulously to hide their previous misdeeds with ever-fresh ones. They’re the party against free speech, the party against due process of law, the party determined to provoke war with Russia. They’re the party of sexual confusion, sexual hysteria, and sexual conflict, the party of kangaroo courts, cancel culture, erasing boundaries (including national borders), and of making up rules for all that as they go along — like the Nazis and Soviets used to do. The ideas and policies they advocate are so comprehensively crazy that their old support of slavery looks quaintly straightforward in comparison.

… The impeachment process itself has revealed the party’s genius for inventing new debaucheries of law and government misconduct — the latest being Rep Adam Schiff’s blatantly illegal cadging of his opponents’ phone logs ….

James Howard Kunstler

December 7, 2019

An interesting case for Bernie

[D]espite technically preferring a moderate like Biden or Amy Klobuchar, I keep coming back to the conservative’s case for Bernie — which rests on the perhaps-wrong but still attractive supposition that he’s the liberal most likely to spend all his time trying to tax the rich and leave cultural conservatives alone.

Ross Douthat

December 7, 2019

Existential desparation

[T]he short history of the modern world is the story of a civilization that staggers from one crisis to another. It derives its sense of self-worth and meaning from the problems it solves. It is existentially desperate for such problems … If fingers were snapped and tomorrow the climate suddenly stabilized and returned to 1960 standards, the emotional loss for many would rival the death of God.

Fr. Stephen Freeman

December 6, 2019

Perfect storm

Wouldn’t you call it a perfect storm” when we have a President who’s deliberately offensive and hopelessly preposterous, but suffers brain-lock and storms out if anyone insults him back or laughs at him?

December 4, 2019

Made my day

Kamala Harris dropped out of the race for President today. This is terrific news.

I rarely keep scorecards, but I do form impressions that prove reliable if I go back and review the news.

My impression of Kamala Harris’ tenure as Attorney General in California is one of particularly vicious persecution of conservative Christians (if vicious persecution” is on a contemporary American scale — by which, in historic terms, Christians have it pretty good, partly because courts not infrequently slap down anti-Christian inquisitions) and opposition to their causes.

December 3, 2019

What happens when a narcissist’s Twitter account gets all our attention

The press leaps when the White House tweets but it doesn’t know how to cover the major crisis of our time, the slow demise of Earth itself.

Garrison Keillor

He says much more, some of it sensible, some of it no doubt cathartic, but I’ll limit myself to the side-effects of the White House sucking all the air from the room every freakin’ day.

December 3, 2019

Democratic Socialists

Socialism’ is a GOP smear. Democrats have to fight back.

Andrew Gillum

Pro-tip from an amateur: It would make denials more plausible if one of you frontrunners for President wasn’t a lifelong self-proclaimed socialist, and if one of your rising stars hadn’t describer democratic socialism as part of what I am.”

December 3, 2019

Liberals and marriage

[I]n the never-ending right-left debate about how to explain the decline of marriage and what to do about it, I think the important developments are twofold. First, the emerging phase of conservatism is more inclined to integrate left-wing arguments about the effects of economic policy and neoliberal capitalism into its cultural diagnoses — though whether this integration will lead to a wiser right or just be swallowed up in Trumpian hypocrisy and folly is an entirely open question.

Second, the emerging phase of liberalism is less inclined to concede anything to conservatives on the cultural front. It is tracing a return to the spirit of the 1970s, to the promise of ever-widening liberation — and the long-term influence of that return on a society already shadowed by sterility and loneliness will be, shall we say, interesting to watch.

Ross Douthat, concluding a nuanced” column wherein he engages with the nuanced column of his colleague Thomas Edsall (and links a chain-tweet by marriage scholar Bradford Wilcox)

May the conversation/debate continue.

December 3, 2019

Resist!

He who marries the spirit of the age is soon a widower.

December 2, 2019

Entropy: it’s the law

Schopenhauer’s Law of Entropy: If you put a spoonful of wine in a barrel full of sewage, you get sewage. If you put a spoonful of sewage in a barrel full of wine, you get sewage.

December 2, 2019

Not coincidentially …

There is no getting around the reality that candidates who merely happen’ to be Christian and make no connection between their faith and public policy will produce a nation that happens’ to be fully secularized.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., April 2004

December 2, 2019

Invincible depravity

When one woman admitted that there was virtually nothing Trump could do to lose her vote, the interviewer asked how she might react if the president were to shoot somebody. She responded that she would want to know what the victim had done to deserve being shot.

Dan P. McAdams, How Narcissists Wear Out Their Welcome

December 2, 2019

N.T. Wright on the past and future of Christianity

For 2,000 years, Christian, Jews, and Muslims—Muslims for less than 2,000 years, but you know what I mean—have just said, That’s not what we think a human life is all about. Suddenly, we have a cultural imperative [to embrace LGBT identity] coming in the last 30 years or so. That’s quite an extraordinary thing …

In the early Church, one of the great attractions of Christianity was actually a sexual ethic. It is a world where more or less anything goes, where women and children are exploited, and where slaves are exploited often in hideous and horrible ways. In the Greco-Roman world, if you’d already had one daughter, and then you had another, the regular thing was either to sell her into slavery or literally to leave her out for the wolves.

So a lot of people, particularly the women, found the Christian ideal of chastity amazingly refreshing.

You know, God is the God of surprises. New things can happen; new things should happen. … [T]here are more Anglicans in church in Nigeria on a Sunday than in the whole of Britain and America put together.

… [R]ead the four Gospels. That’s what they’re there for. And recognize that in the prayer Jesus taught us to pray: Forgive us our trespasses.” You don’t just say that once, at the beginning of your Christian life. You jolly well say it every day, because you will need to. The trouble is that the Church is far too good at hoping that everyone else will be asking for forgiveness for their trespasses. Self-critique is part of the Gospel. And where the Church forgets that—oh boy, things go badly wrong.

N.T. Wright in an interview with Emma Green This is a pretty good interview. Green pushes back on LGBT issues, but I think the second and third paragraphs are a good answer.

December 2, 2019

History rhymes

Q. There’s the famous quote from Jefferson that the Missouri crisis awakened him like a fire bell in the night and that in it he perceived the death of the union…

A. Right. He’s absolutely panicked by what’s happening, and these last years of his life leading up to 1826 are really quite sad because he’s saying these things. Reading his writings between 1819 and his death in 1826 makes you wince because he so often sounds like a southern fire-eater of the 1850s. Whereas his friend Madison has a much more balanced view of things, Jefferson becomes a furious and frightened defender of the South. He sees a catastrophe in the works, and he can’t do anything about it.

Tom Mackaman, An interview with historian Gordon Wood on the New York Times’ 1619 Project

This echoes. We have relatively good, basically moderate Christian people who are driven to do and say bad things by well-founded fear of what a progressive Government will do to them.

And we have progressives driven to desparate nonsense by (what I hope is) ill-founded fear of what a conservative Government will do.

December 1, 2019

Our conundrum

Any serious vision of the common good is anchored in moral convictions. Yet state imposition of moral convictions amounts to a state religion … As the early church father Tertullian protested, It is assuredly no part of religion to compel religion.”

Peter Mommsen, in Plough

December 1, 2019

Genderfluid Conan

It’s a sign that something really is changing in the way we relate to each other, because animal stories are supposed to bring us together — like Fiona the premature baby hippo’s adorable lumber toward good health, or April the Giraffe’s long-awaited birth, or an elephant doing pretty much anything.

That was the point of Conan in the first place …

This was apple pie. It was the World Series. It was the sort of thing that CNN was just as liable to splash across a chyron on a slow day as Fox News was. It was a hero dog, for gosh’s sake. Now it’s another absurdity from an administration full of them, and another reason to worry about what we’ve lost.

Molly Roberts

December 1, 2019

Cutting down some Christian-nationalist notions

Proponents of a Christian-nationalist syncretism, including R.R. Reno, owe it to themselves (and to the rest of us) a good engagement with the critique of Marc Barnes, who put his finger fairly firmly on some questions that had been nagging at me inchoately.

December 1, 2019

Corporations, Capitalist Culture

[A] corporation is a truly insidious entity: Before the law, it enjoys the status of a legal person — a legal privilege formerly granted only to corporate” associations recognized as providing public goods, such as universities or monasteries — but under the law it is required to behave as the most despicable person imaginable. Almost everywhere in the capitalist world (in America, for instance, since the 1919 decision in Dodge v. Ford), a corporation of this sort is required to seek no end other than maximum gains for its shareholders; it is forbidden to allow any other consideration …

[I]nevitably, [a capitalist culture] eventuates in a culture of consumerism, because it must cultivate a social habit of consumption extravagantly in excess of mere natural need or even (arguably) natural want. It is not enough to satisfy natural desires; a capitalist culture must ceaselessly seek to fabricate new desires, through appeals to what 1 John calls the lust of the eyes.”

David Bentley Hart

December 1, 2019

God’s chosen Presidents

Leaders affect the lives of families far beyond their own private life’. In the Bible story of Esther we are told of a king who was charged to put right his own household because there would be no end of disrespect and discord” among the families of the kingdom if he failed to do so. In a day when reckless extramarital sexual activity is manifesting itself in our staggering rates of illegitimacy and divorce, now more than ever, America needs to be able to look to her First Family as role models of all that we have been and can be again.

Well said. He also reminded America of a forgotten verse in the Book of Proverbs, one that should sober us as we see the ripple effect dishonesty, and the manner in which lies can thoroughly corrupt a government. Proverbs 29:12 declares, If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked.”

Thank you Vice President Pence. The words you wrote about Bill Clinton a generation ago still ring true today.

David French, a theologically literate man, pointedly concluding a Sunday French Press” blog that outlines a much sounder and balanced view of providential Presidents” than semi-literates Rick Perry and Nikki Haley were able to manage for Fox News and The 700 Club, respectively, and orders of magnitude better than the near-blasphemies of sycophants Eric Metaxas and Franklin Graham.

December 1, 2019

Thomas More in Grand Rapids

A Grand Rapids woman who is married” to another woman was denied communion at her Catholic parish. She’s leading a campaign the priest’s ouster for acting according to Catholic teaching, and the tabloid media (is there another kind today?) is giving her a platform and a 50,0000 watt amplifier:

[Y]ou know what, silent parishioners? You need to find a backbone. Your priest is doing the hard work of defending the Eucharist and defending Church teaching, and is being held up by the local media and gay activists as a pariah. You are wrong to let him stand there and take all this contempt and abuse by himself. Conservative Christians often complain that the clergy won’t take tough stands on issues. Well, here’s a priest doing exactly that, but it appears that he’s standing all by himself. This is a test for him, certainly, but also for the orthodox Catholics of Grand Rapids.

I know it’s hard for parishioners who support Father Nolan to stand up publicly for him. But there he is, facing a ridiculously biased local media, and a well-publicized campaign to have him thrown out of his position, and made a pariah in the community, all because he is a faithful Catholic. The way the laity support him, or fail to support him, is going to be a teaching moment for all other Catholic priests thinking about whether or not to stand up to the demands of LGBT bullies and their allies.

Rod Dreher

November 27, 2019

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