Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The ubermensch and the chicken

The controversy that will not die continues in New York. Columnist Star Parker wonders if this is a homosexualist bridge too far. This was my favorite part:

"Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago's values," said Chicago Mayor, and former chief of staff to President Obama, Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel defended Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno's threat to deny Chick-fil-A permitting in Chicago because its owner supports traditional marriage and family.
Crack houses, on the other hand, definitely share Chicago's values. The best part about all of this is if any of these cities actually made good on their tolerance bluster, they'd be sued into oblivion for First Amendment violations. This case has devolved into another convenient way for PC-whipped ninnies to demonstrate to their homosexualist masters that they are ritually pure and not to be lumped in with those white people.

The essence of government is to tell people what to do, and to tell them good and hard. Once you buy into the liberal notion that the government's top priority is ensuring equal freedom for all, then you necessarily create a permanent villain class. If the essence of government is to tell people what to do, and its mission becomes creating equal freedom for equal and free atomistic individuals, then there must be - existentially there must always be - an oppressor class that must be overcome. Each and every one of us is somebody elses's subhuman oppressor.

The free thinking, self-created, liberal superman doing battle against the forces of obscurantism, bigotry, and superstition is one of our most common cultural tropes. The assumption that we've transcended the racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobic past, and good riddance to it, is among the most commonly held of political worldviews. Progressive is a comparative for which we have not decided on the superlative as Chesterton said.

I almost feel sorry for the poor bastards. Their parents and grandparents did battle against state governments. What do they have? Hounding fast food grandees who hold an incorrect opinion on something that was until very recently a punchline.

h.t. Larry Auster

Monday, July 30, 2012

Our new priestly caste

Modern people will scoff if you try to convince them of something by appealing to Scripture, Tradition, or the pope. We get it all wrong. We're making the wrong appeals to authority. If you preface your comment with "Scientists say..." then people will believe any outlandish nonsense that comes out of your mouth.

I was thinking of this when I saw this op-ed on climate change. Personally, I don't have any economic or ideological reason to deny that man is the direct cause of global warming. Call me an agnostic on the subject. And it's difficult for me to get bent out of shape over it. I know, I know. "WHAT?! Think of the children you stupid git! They're all going to die! The oceans will boil, the skies will rain fire, earthquakes, volcanoes, a thousand years of darkness, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria!"

Here's the thing: I will grant for the sake of argument that man is solely responsible for global warming. Now that that's out of the way... now what? Seriously, what do we do? If I subjected myself to economic hardship to reduce my carbon footprint, what difference would it make? The answer is, it wouldn't make a difference. Even if everyone in the US did their part, China and India would probably make up for it. We would only be slowing the inevitable. In order to make the kind of changes necessary to prevent global warming, it would require unacceptable amounts of economic and political dislocation. I think climate change skeptics should worry less about challenging the science - for all I know it might be right on - and more about asking them what they propose to do about it.

Isn't it interesting that we are willing to discipline our bodies and consumption habits to make ourselves more beautiful or save the whales, but not to, say, do penance or make reparation to Almighty God? In any case, I'm not going to spend a lot of energy worrying about something over which I have no control.

Yes, it is

Is Algebra Necessary?

Thirteen years ago I would have answered with a resounding "NO!" It wasn't that I didn't understand mathematics, but the way it was taught made me want to repeatedly head butt the floor. Algebra should not prove difficult for any adult of average intelligence who has a grasp of basic arithmetic. Looking back on it now, I see that algebra, like logic, trains us to think in the abstract. It's a measure of how much our children's little minds are developing. But no one explained it to me that way when I was a boy. I, like millions before me, gazed at those unsolved quadratic equations which taunted us with their formidable parentheses and letters, and wailed "Why do I need to know this stuff?!"My parents and teachers, God bless them, said that I would need this stuff when I grew up and got a grown up job.

So far, I haven't needed it. My parents later admitted that the most complicated mathematics they've used since college was planning monthly household budgets. On a whim I once decided to skim some old textbooks. I remembered a lot of it, but another problem was I always found math, well, boring. People are more interesting to me than numbers or things. Continue teaching algebra says I, but be honest with the children. Tell them that 1) many of them won't ever need a lot of it, and 2) the purpose of learning it now is to train them in abstract thinking and problem solving.

Essentialism means whatever I say it means

Catholic Identity is at Heart of Peru University's Clash with Vatican:

The Holy See’s denial of a top Peruvian university’s right to call itself “Pontifical” and “Catholic” is the latest battle  — but unlikely the last — in a long conflict over what it means to be a Catholic university.
“The Holy See, with decree of His Eminence, the Secretary of State [Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone], under a specific pontifical mandate, has decided to remove from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru the right to use in its name the titles ‘Pontifical’ and ‘Catholic,’ in accordance with canon law,” the Vatican announced July 21.
If the rector is having difficulty in thinking of a new name for his hallowed institution, might I suggest "Primer Universidad Comunista de Peru?"

An essentialist believes in the existence of universals or essences. For an essentialist, liberalism is the universal which all liberals have in common. A liberal is someone who is loyal to or otherwise participates in the essence of liberalism. A nominalist is someone who does not believe in universals or essences. Liberalism means only what the nominalist wants it to mean because "liberalism" is not an objective thing but just a word we use for the sake of convenience when referring to groups of liberals. Humpty Dumpty explains:

`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master - - that's all.'
Humpty is only a liberal if he himself agrees that he is a liberal. Whatever meaning the word liberalism has is subject only to Humpty's will. Humpty's descendants have been running Catholic universities for decades. They can, and have, instilled in their students the most outlandish heresies and moral deformity but still cling to the name Catholic because Catholic only means what they want it to mean. The Holy See has finally decided it's time to start making omelets.

Every website or blog where I've found this story has a lot of comments to the effect of "Why Peru? There are dozens of 'Catholic' universities in the US that need similar discipline." With all due respect y'all, the Church doesn't revolve around the US although I do wish Holy Mother Church would do something. "Jesuit University," for example, has become a punchline. The Church could always use well formed intellectuals to go forth into the public sphere, willing and able to answer the philosophical errors of our day. What she doesn't need is intellectuals whose ears are itchy for strange doctrine.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Up from silliness

Today's Gospel reading is St. John's account of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. I don't have anything deep or spiritual to say about it since I am not a deep or spiritual man. But this Sunday in Ordinary Time does hold great significance for me. I'll never forget it. It was six or seven years ago; I was so recent a convert that I was still wet behind the ears with baptismal water. It was in my home parish. The celebrant at the Mass was a retired priest in residence at the rectory.

When it came time for the homily... I don't know what I expected. For people who have to speak in public every day, Catholic priests are notoriously bad speakers and writers. I wasn't expecting anything inspiring or uplifting or edifying, that was for sure. I had quickly adjusted to the kind of homily most Catholics hear every Sunday: Jesus was a nice guy, so we should be nice people too, and talk to Jesus once in a while. Father took a different tack though.

He said that when he was a boy he always wondered how Jesus accomplished the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes. He thought it was just magic. When he entered the seminary though, he said he learned the "real story" about the miracle. Jesus, he said, took the twelve loaves and five fishes, and divided them among the people even though he knew there wasn't enough to go around. This is where the true miracle began. You see, the people following Jesus were touched at his generosity. Most of them actually had full picnic lunches with them the whole time, but some of the people did not. The miracle was that Jesus touched the hearts of these greedy people. Waves of warm fuzziness emanating from our Blessed Lord made the people break their bread and their fish with those who did not. So Jesus's lesson here was that we all have more than we think we do, and that we should share what we have with those less fortunate.

I was stunned. My jaw was figuratively on the floor. Did I actually hear that? Did I just hear a Catholic priest say from the pulpit during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that our Blessed Lord did not actually perform a miracle? Was he seriously suggesting that there was a wholly naturalistic explanation for this supposed miracle, that the Gospel writers erroneously attributed it to supernatural power? Did he mean to say that two millennia worth of saints, martyrs, doctors, and popes had gotten this account wrong? If the Church had been wrong about that for so long, what else was she wrong about?

I was so distraught that when I came home I did a google search. Lo and behold, I wasn't the only one who had heard this old chestnut at Mass. It was often cited as an example of extreme post-conciliar silliness. I knew my home parish was, well, quite liberal for lack of a better term, but I never dreamed how much it really was until that Sunday. Well, the liturgical dancers on Good Friday of that year was another big clue.

On another occasion, I heard that same priest say that the true sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality, as again two millennia worth of saints, martyrs, doctors, and popes had written, but rather "inhospitality." Homosexual gang rape is rather inhospitable I should say. It was yet another example of some Catholics' strange aversion to everything supernatural.

The further I researched accounts of these bizarre things coming from the pulpit at Mass, the more I saw examples of liturgical abuse. Wanting to know more about liturgical abuse, I had to learn about the whole, sorry, post-conciliar debacle that decimated the Church from the 1970's through the 1990's. Knowledge of that debacle made me curiouser still, and I learned of that error which is the synthesis of all heresies: Modernism.

I could go on, but the long and short of it is I was growing increasingly disgusted with Novus Ordo silliness when I discovered the Mass of the Ages, the Traditional Latin Mass. It was a dark and stormy night (no really, it was) during the week at the local FSSP parish which is in a bad neighborhood. It was a Low Mass. I couldn't hear most of it, and I didn't know how to navigate the Missal yet. I was almost in tears when it was over. This was what I thought I was signing up for when I converted. This is what I had been dreaming of, and desiring with all of my heart.

I might not have discovered Traditional Catholicism when I did if not for that silly priest and that silly Modernist pablum. I might never have discovered Traditional Catholicism at all, and if I hadn't, I shudder to think what I'd be like now. I may be an ornery jerk, the perfect embodiment of every negative stereotype of Traditionalist Catholics that gets thrown around by conservative Catholics in the blogosphere, but I'd be a monster without the Traditional Mass. So, Father, wherever you are now, thank you. I'll be praying for you.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Onionization of the world continues

I really hope this is a joke or a hoax:

President Barack Obama is backing a controversial campaign by progressives to regulate schools’ disciplinary actions so that members of major racial and ethnic groups are penalized at equal rates, regardless of individuals’ behavior.
His July 26 executive order established a government panel to promote “a positive school climate that does not rely on methods that result in disparate use of disciplinary tools.”
“African Americans lack equal access to highly effective teachers and principals, safe schools, and challenging college-preparatory classes, and they disproportionately experience school discipline,” said the order, titled “White House Initiative On Educational Excellence.”

I feel bad for public school teachers because they have to take the Kobayashi Maru test every day. They are routinely subjected to black misbehavior and disfunction, but they can't do anything about it because they'll be tarred as racists. Imagine a nice young 22 year old woman who just graduated with her teaching credential, eager to make a difference after being formed in her university's open, tolerant, diverse, multicultural learning environment. How shocking the first day in the classroom must be. I don't know about anyone else, but all of the public school teachers I know converted to race realism pretty quick.

"Racist" means "Someone with whom I disagree." If I had a nickel for every time I've been called a racist, I could buy myself a nice steak dinner. As an example of my vicious bigotry, my first thought on reading the bolded words was that blacks disproportionately experience school discipline because they disproportionately flout the rules. Appalling isn't it? It's a good thing I'm so small time or else the SPLC would be printing my name in bold in their fundraising letters.

I confess this is one area where I utterly fail to understand the Progressive mind. What, exactly, is the reason they're so eager to excuse and cover up for the pathologies of the black community? If this became the policy for the whole country, it would mean that every time a black kid attacked a white kid, they'd both be expelled so as to create the illusion that there is no disparate impact. Por que?

Friday, July 27, 2012

This calls for a Howard Dean scream

Good people are always telling me that words like "liberal" and "conservative" don't really apply to divisions within the Catholic Church. I tend to agree, but I still use them as a convenient shorthand if nothing else. What other words are there to describe the gaping chasm between Bishop Salvatore Cordileone and the cesspool of heresy and immorality he's been given to lead?

For the better part of thelast four months, the machinery of the archdiocese that -- at least, under normal circumstances -- many US bishops consider the nation's most daunting episcopal assignment hasquietly prepared its 450,000 members for a transition at the top. Yet while the pontiff's selection of the ninth archbishop of San Francisco had almost universally been expected by late June, an apparent delay was explained by credible reports of a backroom Roman "fight" over the state and direction of the famously progressive local church.
I bet there was. It's like pulling teeth to get an American priest or bishop to admit that the American Church is in dire straits, with California being among the worst of the worse off. If it weren't for illegal immigration, the local Church would be hemorrhaging membership even more than it is. A few weeks ago there was a map of the US circling around that showed how Catholic each state was, meaning what percentage of the state's population identified as Catholic. California's was among the highest, if not the highest, but I can assure you the state probably has the least Catholic culture of any other state in the union. Most priests I know attribute the California Church's decline to "the culture." Gentlemen, that may well be, but the culture is the way it is because we Catholics are the way we are.

Rocco certainly isn't shy about throwing around words like liberal and conservative in that article (even "ultra-conservative" to describe Raymond Cardinal Burke!) To progressives, Cordileone is a radical, right-wing extremist. To me at least, he is the example all Catholic prelates should follow in saying to the culture of death "Come at me bro." I don't know if that says more about them, him, or me.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm the most frivolous of all

Did Our Lady of Quito prophesy about our wicked age?

“…. I make it known to you that from the end of the 19th century and shortly after the middle of the 20th century…. the passions will erupt and there will be a total corruption of customs (morals)….
“They will focus principally on the children in order to sustain this general corruption. Woe to the children of these times! It will be difficult to receive the Sacrament of Baptism, and also that of Confirmation…
“As for the Sacrament of Matrimony… it will be attacked and deeply profaned… The Catholic spirit will rapidly decay; the precious light of the Faith will gradually be extinguished… Added to this will be the effects of secular education, which will be one reason for the dearth of priestly and religious vocations.
“The Sacrament of Holy Orders will be ridiculed, oppressed, and despised… The Devil will try to persecute the ministers of the Lord in every possible way; he will labor with cruel and subtle astuteness to deviate them from the spirit of their vocation and will corrupt many of them. These depraved priests, who will scandalize the Christian people, will make the hatred of bad Catholics and the enemies of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church fall upon all priests…
“Further, in these unhappy times, there will be unbridled luxury, which will ensnare the rest into sin and conquer innumerable frivolous souls, who will be lost. Innocence will almost no longer be found in children, nor modesty in women. In this supreme moment of need of the Church, the one who should speak will fall silent.” In a subsequent apparition, Our Lady told Mother Mariana that these apparitions were not to become generally known until the twentieth century.
The late, great Father Malachi Martin said the only explanation he could think of for the complete collapse of the Catholic Church after Vatican II was that God had withdrawn sanctifying grace from the Church. The apparition of our Lady at Akita, Japan prophesied that during these times we would see priest against priest, bishop against bishop, cardinal against cardinal. Then Cardinal Ratzinger said of the apparition at Akita that its message was quite similar to the Third Secret of Fatima.

Catholics are not bound by faith to believe in any private revelation, not even those which have received the approval of Church authorities as being "worthy of belief." I don't think we should be quick to dismiss them either, particularly when they give such dire warnings. If nothing else, one can say that all too often, prelates have been silent when they should have been speaking. Is it really a good thing that we have to go to laymen like Michael Voris to get some straight talk on the dire state of Holy Mother Church?

I readily admit my own faith is often lacking in this area. I'm like the boneheaded Apostles who were on the storm-tossed ship, frantically trying to wake up our Blessed Lord. There's a lot more to that article I linked to; our Lady assures us that the restoration will come. How many of us will be left when it comes?

h.t. Father Z

Don't just do something, stand there

August is less than a week away. It's one of my favorite months on the Catholic calendar because it's packed with so many great saints, including St. Augustine who conceived much of the Church's mainstream thought on just war. August is also the anniversary of the United States's dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This means it is also the occasion for much arguing within the Catholic blogosphere about the morality of Truman's decision.

There's a peculiar quirk in the American character that makes doing nothing almost inconceivable. We are told by the Brutal Realists that Truman had no choice but to drop the atomic bombs. Yes, they concede, many civilians were killed. But if Truman hadn't dropped the bombs, they go on, then we "know" millions more civilians and American Marines would have died during the invasion of the Japanese home islands or during any other option available at the time.

"What would have you have had Truman do then, smart guy?" is imagined to be a crushing rejoinder that shuts down the debate. It's rather similar to pro-abortion propagandists asking us, "What would you have the woman do with her unwanted pregnancy then?" The idea is that when every choice involves choosing to do evil, you may as well choose to do the least evil thing. If you're a Consequentialist, then this argument is nigh unanswerable. If you're a Catholic, this supposed choice is not a choice at all.

It is never permissible to choose evil that good may come of it. Not ever. The question of what Truman should have done instead is an interesting and difficult question, but in a sense it is also irrelevant. There is no reason to discuss alternatives unless every intrinsically evil option, like, say, dropping an atomic bomb on innocent civilians, is taken off the table first. No, we don't "know" that millions more people would have died if the United States had invaded mainland Japan. The truth is the consequences of not doing something evil are of no relevance. If every option available to you involves doing something intrinsically evil, then you have a grave, binding moral duty to do nothing. If aliens from another galaxy kidnapped you and threatened to annihilate the entire human race unless you torture another human captive, your duty is to tell them to go to hell.

That doesn't mean we can't sympathize with Truman. Nor does it mean we can make a definitive judgment about his subjective culpability; only God knows what sort of moral formation Truman had or the movements of Truman's soul. That does not, however, mean we must refrain from calling good good and evil evil.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

There is no such thing as a victimless crime

Pornography by the numbers.

"Victimless crime" is almost as neat a term to describe the devaluation of human life as that subdivision of hell known as "Human Resources." The truth is that all crime has at least one victim: the criminal. The unmarried man who watches pornography is hurting himself as the evidence increasingly shows. In Emperor Beefy's America, the heads of pornographers would be stuck on pikes lining the pathway to his castle.

Digging a deeper hole

A great deal of women's work in journalism and blogging can be traced to their anger and resentment toward things other women have said:

I adored Katie Roiphe's full-throated defense of single mothers, where she correctly zeroed in both on the prudishness and the June Cleaver fantasies that drive the relentless hand-wringing over women who are raising children without a man in the house. There's one more thing I'd really like to add, though, which is what invariably irritates me every time we're in for another round of Scold the Single Mothers: Single moms do not necessarily choose to be single.
Well, given that 70% of all divorces are initiated by women, I'm not sure I'd go that far.

In fact, none of this is true. As Nancy Folbre explains at the New York Times Economix blog, women end up single mothers not because they're part of a radical feminist cult intent on proving that they can live life without men. Most women who have children have partners they intend to stay with. A lot of the time, much-wanted relationships fall apart. But in a substantial number of cases, the men just quit their families.
How many people still remember what it means to have a "shotgun wedding?" It's true that there is still some minor stigma attached to having children out of wedlock but it's not nearly as strong as it used to be. In many cases, the mother-to-be's friends and family are relieved when the man drops out of the picture because they can see what a lousy marriage prospect he is!

Most of us know people whose eagerness to put a ring on it makes them ignore huge incompatibilities in their relationships. On the flip side, if you feel no compulsion to get married, you have a lot more time to spend finding a good match. Refusing to rush into it is no guarantee of long-term stability, but it sure must increase the odds. And more liberal attitudes and policies toward reproductive choice can't hurt. Having the freedom to marry someone because you're a good match and not because an accidental pregnancy forced the issue makes for longer, more stable relationships.
Yes, divorce rates have plummeted since we stopped pressuring people into marrying if they conceived a chil... oh wait. Ms. Marcotte also neglected to mention that if a woman takes too much time to find a good match, then she's likely to rush into marriage in order to beat the biological clock. That would be better than opting to conceive and raise a child through artificial means.

Dr. Johnson once said he was quite confident that marriages would work just as well if men and women were paired off by the Lord Chancellor and had no say in the matter. People had a much healthier attitude toward marriage then. They thought less about marrying the one they loved and more about loving the one they married.

You can always count on the Marines

These days it takes crazy, ballsy courage to stand before the crowd and tell them that two and two still make four:

There have been many working groups and formal discussions recently addressing what changes would be necessary to the current IOC period of instruction in order to accommodate both genders without producing an underdeveloped or incapable infantry officer. Not once was the word “lower” used, but let’s be honest, “modifying” a standard so that less physically or mentally capable individuals (male or female) can complete a task is called “lowering the standard”! The bottom line is that the enemy doesn’t discriminate, rounds will not slow down, and combat loads don’t get any lighter, regardless of gender or capability. Even more so, the burden of command does not diminish for a male or female; a leader must gain the respect and trust of his/her Marines in combat. Not being able to physically execute to the standards already established at IOC, which have been battle tested and proven, will produce a slower operational speed and tempo resulting in increased time of exposure to enemy forces and a higher risk of combat injury or death. For this reason alone, I would ask everyone to step back and ask themselves, does this integration solely benefit the individual or the Marine Corps as a whole, as every leader’s focus should be on the needs of the institution and the Nation, not the individual?
Which leads one to really wonder, what is the benefit of this potential change? The Marine Corps is not in a shortage of willing and capable young male second lieutenants who would gladly take on the role of infantry officers. In fact we have men fighting to be assigned to the coveted position of 0302. In 2011, 30 percent of graduating TBS lieutenants listed infantry in their top three requested MOSs. Of those 30 percent, only 47 percent were given the MOS.
G.I. Jane is a myth cooked up by fantasists who refuse to accept that men and women are different. The push for women in combat stems less from women who genuinely can shoulder the physical and emotional burdens of command - for such women surely exist - and more from people who desparately want distinctions between the sexes to not matter.

Revolutions differ in the details but one thing they all have in common is this: a hatred of limits. Liberalism abhors the idea that we are in any way limited by accidents of history or birth or biology. The notion that men and women are limited in any way by their sex is especially bad. Boys should be just as happy to play with dollies and girls just as happy to play with trucks as vice versa. Sex (I refuse to use the word "gender" when talking about being biologically male or female) is a social construct! It only matters to the degree we allow it to matter! And men allow it to matter because they use it as a tool to oppress the legions of little girls who would grow up to be truckers, grease monkeys, and fire breathing, ass kicking soldiers if it weren't for the fat old white men who want to keep them in the kitchen.

One could describe our era as that time when mankind bashed its own brains out by constantly ramming its head against the brick wall of reality. Again, some women can handle the physical demands of combat. Most can't. They just can't. "I can imagine it happening without involving a contradiction" does not mean the same thing as "It is actually possible in reality." As sure as night is dark and day is bright, I expect some day someone will read this and think "You sexist pig! My friend's daughter Susie scores a 300 on the APFT! She's much tougher than you or any man!"

On top of everything else, the modern mind has difficulty with the concepts of "on average" and "tends to."

h.t. Thinking Housewife

Monday, July 23, 2012

I laffed

The life of a SWPLer

The Muppets don't like Chick-fil-A anymore:

The Muppets have decided to boycott Chick-fil-A over its owner's public stance against gay marriage. In an announcement on Facebook, Jim Henson Company CEO Lisa Henson said her company will no longer supply toys or other merchandise to the fast-food chain.
Many people who publicly support same-sex "marriage" don't support it because they've given the issue any serious thought. They support gay "marriage" because they know that if they don't, they'll be cast into the outer darkness with the wrong kind of white people. The life of a White Person in the 21st century is a never ending struggle to prove that you are more clever and more tolerant than other white people. Opposing gay marriage is to place oneself on the wrong side of history with those white people. And if there's one thing a white person fears above all else, it's being lumped in with those white people. "What?! No! You've got it all wrong! I'm tolerant! I'm open minded! Some of my best friends are gay! And black! And gay blacks!" The Proposition Nation has become the Politburo Nation. Us zeks are in good company. More power to the Boy Scouts. A letter to the editor in response to that editorial said that if gay boys want to dress up in uniforms and participate in outdoor activities, they'll just have to wait until they're 18 and join the Army.

If there's one figure of speech I'd like to see banned from public discourse, it's declaring one's opponents to be on the wrong side of history. It's always said with the smug assurance that the speaker is on the right side with the angels, the democrats, and the Whigs. The Soviets thought they were on the right side of history too. How'd that work out for them?

Cutting our own legs out from underneath

From PrayTell comes this comment which caught my eye:

May I be as bold as to suggest that [Summorum Pontificum] reflects a failure to receive Vatican II and its implementation, where the among the reasons put forth for the the reform of the liturgy was that the texts of the Ordinary of the EF, as we now call it, were ecclesiologically, sacramentally and pneumatologically deemed deficient. The contribution of Robert J Daly on ‘Robert Bellarmine and Post-Tridentine Eucharistic Theology’ in Bulman and Parralla (ed) “From Trent to Vatican II” (Oxford UP, 2006) should be required reading for all who advocate the EF. Actually, I’d recommend the whole book as background reading for why Vatican II was necessary.
One further point, it has been demonstrated in a significant number of academic studies that in the post Vatican II era, both John Paul II, and even more the Roman Curia, have produced documents that raise questions regarding their correct reception of the teaching of the Council. Just because a Curial document offers a particular interpretation of Vatican II doesn’t guarantee that interpretation reflects an adequate or correct reception of the Council’s teaching.
Comments like these drive home why I'm deeply uncomfortable with mainstream, post-conciliar Catholicism. It's representative of a mindset which is quite common among progressive Catholics. My own pastor, in a letter to the parish explaining the proper way to file down for communion, described the use of altar rails and receiving on the tongue as "theologically inaccurate."

The Traditional Latin Mass was not whipped up from scratch by Pope St. Pius V. He codified a Mass which had endured in its essentials since the time of Pope St. Gregory the Great. Whatever changes there were to the Mass happened gradually. Some were eventually codified and set in stone by the Holy Father, and others weren't. This process was noticeable only to liturgical scholars, and only over the course of generations.

After Vatican II though, an unusual coalition of liturgical cranks and cracked antiquarians got it into their heads to invent a completely new Mass. They wanted to sweep away everything they considered to be a medieval accretion, a useless repetition, or, some wags might say, anything that made the Mass appealing to the senses.

The project strikes me as breathtakingly arrogant on its face. Do we men born in the 20th century really believe we can come up with something better than a Mass which has endured since antiquity, that has nourished the spiritual lives of thousands upon thousands of saints, martyrs, confessors, and doctors? The Mass can be reformed, yes. But the Mass of Paul VI was not a reform of the Mass of St. Pius V; it was an entirely new Mass. We did not get a reform, but a revolution.

One thing all revolutions have in common is denigrating the old order. To hear Catholic men say that Holy Mother the Church had it all wrong for over a thousand years... well, frankly it strikes this convert's ears as being dangerously close to Protestantism. To say that the Church's public worship, its solemn worship of Almighty God, was ecclesiologically, sacramentally and pneumatologically deficient for all that time... I wonder what else she is deficient about? I wonder what else she's gotten wrong?

A little from column A, a little from column B

It's a peculiar thing when you think about it. It's considered racist and hateful to be suspicious of a man because he is, say, a Muslim. We're supposed to trust or distrust people based on their opinions about tax policy, or foreign trade, or economics, or how much he believes in freedom. This gets everything backwards. I care very much whether a man is a Catholic, or a Protestant, or a Jew, or a Muslim, or an atheist, much more than I care about his opinions on political issues. A man's cosmology is the fountainhead from which flows his views on everything else. I care about his views on right and wrong because they tell me whether he's going to rob me or not. To say that a man's religion shouldn't matter is like saying nothing matters.

Nor does it do any good to say that every religion has an element of truth to it. That statement is true as far as it goes, but it doesn't tell us much. Satanism, after all, has an element of truth to it insofar as it acknowledges the existence of Satan. Nice white people like to say every religion has its good points because they're reluctant to offend others by having a strong conviction about one religion. But when we say that every religion has part of the truth, we are speaking from the position of knowing the whole truth, or else we would not speak about its parts. The human mind was designed to be dogmatic. The purpose of opening one's mind is to close it again on something solid.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I laffed

And the Quote of the Day via Facebook: "To the millions of Americans who are unemployed or underemployed, you didn't get there on your own. Somebody else made that happen. And he's running for reelection."

Calling good evil and evil good

Black men attempting to rob a business is a depressingly common occurrence. In this case, one of the patrons fought back: here is the security cam footage.  Another depressingly common occurrence: the news coverage is quite sympathetic to the criminals. One of them bitterly complains about getting shot while he was down. He felt that was uncalled for. Perhaps you should have thought of that before holding other people at gunpoint?

h.t. Larry Auster

Title IX, Middle Earth style

Tolkien never would have gotten published if he had been born a century later:

Co-producer Philippa Boyens addressed some changes made for the movie adaptation, especially the addition of a new character or two, something that could be seen as heresy by the literary community or Tolkien fans.
Boyens said the story felt weighed down by males, so they created a female elf, being played by Evangeline Lilly and seen briefly in the footage.
“We created her to bring that feminine energy,” Boyens said. “We believe it’s completely within the spirit of Tolkien. We didn’t want her to be a ploy.”
In the LOTR books, Faramir is easily one of the best men to grace its pages. He's brave, forthright, and humble enough to know that he can't take the Ring because he would fall to its temptations. The movies have many virtues, but they butchered his character. Faramir was transformed from being a man's man into a whiny my-daddy-doesn't-love-me Oprah style headcase who openly resolves to use the Ring for Gondor's benefit, to do evil that good may come of it.

In the DVD commentary, Phillipa Boyens said these changes were made because she just didn't understand Faramir's character as portrayed in the books. I'll say she didn't.

People are no damn good at all, and that's okay

Mark Shea knocks it out of the park. I cannot improve upon it, but like any good blogger I'll try anyway.

A good priest friend of mine once told me "People are no damn good at all." At first I thought he was making a joke, but the more time passed the more I realized it's probably one of the greatest lessons anyone has ever taught me. People are going to let you down. It could be your boss, your co-worker, your wife, your husband, your children, your pastor, your bishop, your Congressman and Senator, they're all going to let you down. They're all going to make you angry. In a fallen world, that is to be expected. That's what we do.

People let down our Blessed Lord too. How often did he shake his head and wonder aloud how long he would be with this faithless generation? How many times did he rebuke his own chosen Apostles for their foolishness and lack of faith? Didn't he call Peter Satan, Peter the man he chose as the rock on which he would found his Church?

And so it is today. We should love our priests and bishops, but also realize that they too are human beings. It's true that many priests are less men of God than they are upper middle class bureaucrats who don't date. Pick any hundred priests from around the world and a good portion of them will be cowards, assholes, misfits, or perverts. This shouldn't surprise anyone or shake anyone's faith. The tares will grow with the wheat until the end of time.

People are no damn good at all, and that includes me. Rather than a temptation to despair, I take that as a reason to be patient with others and with myself. Sin is to be condemned and struggled with of course, but we must also recognize that we're going to fall. A lot. Lord knows I have and do. Moreover, recalling that people are no damn good at all points us toward Christ. One thing all saints have in common, going back to Sts. Peter and Paul, is that they vehemently denied that they themselves had any power or sanctity. Whatever good they did, whatever miracles they worked, they all referred it back to Christ.

Remembering that people are no damn good at all is a great defense against idolatry. Whatever good I do, whatever good exists in me comes from our Blessed Lord. Whatever evil I do... well, that's all me. It's true that many people are less sinning than sinned against. It's true that our natural instinct is to feel anger when we are wronged or when someone close to us lets us down or betrays us. But you cannot answer the sins of others with sins of your own.

Love thine enemies

The recently converted Leah Libresco asks us to come to the aid of the Secular Student Alliance. Cyber warfare like this is no joke. While I was reading though a question occurred to me: what exactly does the Secular Student Alliance do? For that matter, what does any organization based on secularism do exactly?

I guess I'm having difficulty understanding how one can found an organization based on a negative. Suppose Bob Torquemada was to found the not-X Club. X could stand for liberal, conservative, Buddhist, atheist, Muslim, Rastafarian, post-modernist, or anything at all. The only requirement to join is that you not be X.

Even if we all have not-X in common, there are still many shades of not-X thought. Some might think X is a  blight on the human race and it must be fought to the bitter end by every means at our disposal. Others might think X has done a lot of good in the world and might even be good for some people, but they themselves just can't accept X. Some might regard X with benign contempt, thinking it's only suitable for people less intelligent than themselves. Some might recognize X as the basis for their entire civilization, and hope it does well even if they don't participate in it. That's not even touching all of the other areas of human existence such as art, literature, politics, economics, and so on.

If we are not X, then that implies we are something else which we'll call Y. In the specific case of atheism vs. theism, atheists often say they stand for reason, logic, science, progress, and the power of the human... spirit? Will? Intellect? That's another problem of classification as some atheists are strict materialists and do not believe in the existence of spirit, while some atheists are not materialists and do accept the word "spirit" if only as a convenient shorthand for man's rational nature.

What about the H.P. Lovecraft style atheists who believe the universe is a cold and uncaring hell, that human life and morality is a meaningless speck of insignificance? What about the Nietzsche style atheists who believe the will to power is the only constant in human life? (They always think of themselves as one of the ubermensch.) Please note that I am not saying all secularists are like this. These are broad character sketches of a certain kind of atheist. Are these guys welcome in secularist organizations?

Let's suppose our atheist club if filled with bright, happy people who do a lot of good social work and provide a forum for reasoned debate about the possibilities of human achievement based on reason alone. Even then, I still have difficulty in understanding its purpose. There are any number of other organizations out there that do similar work. The Catholic Church, if I may indulge in some shameless plugging, not only engages in more charitable work than any other institution in the world, it's also the biggest champion of human reason in the world today.

Is religion really so toxic to these secularists that they need their own club to insulate themselves from what they perceive to be a religious environment? They need not worry on that score; the United States hasn't been a really religious country in fifty years. Obviously I think secularists are wrong about the nature of reality, but at the same time I sympathize with them in their efforts to organize themselves. I suspect it's like herding cats.

h.t. Mark Shea

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

And the Joker got away

Bane vs. Bain: Rush Limbaugh says "The Dark Knight Rises" villain is a secret attack on Mitt Romney.

I think Mitt should run with this. End every commercial and campaign speech with "Barack Obama: I WILL BREAK YOU!"

Bonfire of the profanities

Poor George Zimmerman. At first he was supposed to be the object of the Two Minute Hate because he was a vicious white racist who hunted down and killed an innocent black boy. That narrative fell apart pretty quickly. I am certain that never before and never again will the New York Times ever describe anyone as a "white Hispanic." Journalists aren't ready to give up yet though. Every journalist on earth would give their right kidney to cover a "white man kills black man" story. If that doesn't work, well, move on to the next trope: George Zimmerman is an evil molestor who hates women.

And the search for the Great White Defendant continues.

Everyone fights, no one quits


For a long time the Church in the USA was under the aegis of the Holy See’s then Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, called now the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. This is why, for example, the seminarians at the North American College in Rome and at the Pontifical Seminary “Josephinum” in the USA wear the same cassock as the seminarians of the Propaganda Fide College in Rome. Mission countries were in many important spheres under the governance of Propaganda. That changed as the Church in the USA, “a Christian country”, was able to sustain itself.
And now?
Dioceses are declaring bankrupcy. Identity is crumbling. The decidedly post-Christian Obama Administration, with its anti-Catholic catholics such as VP Biden and HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius, are viciously attacking our 1st Amendment religious freedoms.
Many years ago I was chewing the fat with an American bishop. I asked him, “What do we do to turn things around in the USA?” He responded, “The first thing we have to do is stop blowing happy gas!”
In sum, things are terrible. Yes, there are signs here and there of an awakening of Catholic identity, but things are simply dreadful, all in all. Maybe that is what we need: the Church grew from the seeds of the martyr’s blood drops.
On that note, I read with interest the comment by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia:

“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia . . . is now really a mission territory.”

Indeed. It's a pity it took their Excellencies and their Eminences so long to notice this, but better late than never. When our Blessed Lord said that the gates of hell will never prevail, he never said anything about the local Church of a particular time and place. Wasn't St. Augustine's old diocese of Hippo conquered by the Mohammedans? The Church in the United States doesn't face invasion, nor is it being violently persecuted... yet. Instead it is dying a slow, lingering death from liberalism, syncretism, relativism, and indifferentism. Our bishops tend to gloss over this reality when reporting their numbers for the census. It's true that there are 70 million baptized Catholics in the United States, making us by far the largest body of Christians in the nation. Less than a third of that number actually goes to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day though. Less than a third believe in the Real Presence. Ontologically, when you're validly baptized, you are a Catholic forevermore. Catholics who have apostatized are still members of the Church in the same way that deserters are still members of the army they have abandoned.

Those of us who are still here are a pretty sorry lot too. The army of God on earth consists entirely of the wounded; it has ever been so. For fifty years though, the army has been rife with dissent, rebellion, chaos, and anarchy. Regardless of the good it contains, or whatever the Council Fathers may have intended, Vatican II effectively removed the Church from the fight. In the eternal war against the world, the flesh, and the devil, many of us Catholics unilaterally disarmed ourselves. As the culture has abandoned its Christian heritage and all churches have lost tens of millions of souls throughout the world, those of us who struggle to maintain a Catholic identity often clash with each other more than the world that needs the Good News.

All Catholics, whether lay or clergy or religious, are called to witness. Some are called to extraordinary witness through heroic virtue or the shedding of blood. God does not ask so much of everyone, but He does expect everyone to keep the Commandments and the Precepts. Those alone, if kept consistently, are a sign of contradiction.

The Church needs leadership that is not afraid to challenge us. For too long, we've been told that it's good enough to be a nice person who brushes their teeth, holds their neighbor's hand at the "Our Father," and cares about the environment. Reverend Fathers, I beg of you in tears, be what God has called you to be. Don't settle for mediocrity either in yourselves or in your people. Yes, some people will get upset with you. Yes, you might even lose a little collection money on Sunday. But I'm willing to make a wager with any seminarian, priest, or bishop who reads my inane scribblings: teach your people the hard things. Teach them that the Faith is a serious struggle and the stakes are eternity. Whatever you lose in the short term, you will be repaid twice as much in the long term.

The Catholic Faith is both much easier and much harder than most people think. It's harder in the sense that we have to struggle against our own fallen nature, the temptations of the world, and the hatred of the devil and all his angels whose sole purpose in this life is dragging us down into the fiery pit with them. It's easier in the sense that we have Jesus Christ Himself, true God and true man, really present at every Mass and inside every tabernacle in the world as our shepherd, our king, our friend. We have all of the angels and saints of God willing to come to our aid if we only ask them.

This truth, this goodness, this beauty, all of it should be reflected in the liturgy as much as we poor humans can manage. The liturgy is the number one public witness of the Church in the world. The Sunday Mass is the only time when most practicing Catholics have any interaction with their parish, so it's vital to get it right. Unfortunately, the Mass itself has become a source of bitter division in the life of the Church. Combine that with tepid preaching and flacid catechesis, and we see the result: Catholics who know nothing of their faith, their traditions, their heritage, who divorce, contracept, and abort at the same rate as the non-Catholic population. We see Catholics leading the charge against their own Church in Washington!

Like it or not, we're all missionaries now. It's a frightening thought; I'm certainly no great witness to the Faith. How many inquiring souls have I turned away through my own imperfections? But everyone is a frontline combatant in this war. It's just like our Blessed Lord said it would be. Come on you apes, you want to live forever?!

If Obama had a son, would he look like this?

I'm so out of it, I actually knew about the, ah, politically incorrect definition of "flash mob" before I found out that most Americans think a flash mob is a group of nice clean white kids singing and dancing in a public place.

In case that news story disappears, here's another example of a flash mob. Quite a far cry from this, eh?

Monday, July 16, 2012

NOW they want to showcase IQ scores

This has been making the rounds today: Women overtake men in IQ tests for the first time in 100 years:

It is a finding certain to be hotly disputed –  at least among half the population. According to the latest research, women are brighter than men.
For the first time in IQ testing, psychologists have found that female scores have risen above those of men.

‘In the last 100 years the IQ scores of both  men and women have risen but women’s have risen faster,’ said Mr Flynn. ‘This is a consequence of modernity. The complexity of the modern world is making our brains adapt and raising our IQ.’ 
One possible explanation is that women’s  lives have become more demanding as they multitask between raising a family and  doing a job.
Stop right there muchacho. Multitasking is a myth, a fairy tale, a sham, a fake, a deceit, a patent fraud. Anyone who describes themselves as a multitasker is padding their resume. It's not how the brain works. You can do one thing well, or you can do many things poorly. But the point of the story isn't what many people think it is.
 He collated IQ examination results from  countries in western Europe and from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina and Estonia.
These showed that in westernised countries the gap in scores between men and women had become minimal. The data for making exact comparisons was sparser and could be carried out for only a handful of countries.
It included Australia, where male and female IQs were found to be almost identical.

The data for making exact comparisons was sparser and could be carried out for only a handful of countries.
In New Zealand, Estonia and Argentina, women scored marginally more than men.
I can see why it would be sparse. Ever since The Bell Curve, it's been the accepted wisdom that only racists think about IQ. But when data that is sketchy at best flatters the liberal imagination - the smart, together woman taking care of her oafish boor of a husband - it's front page news. The Daily Mail even provided the helpful visual aid of a bright happy woman standing next to a befuddled old white dude. In that ABC news article, Flynn says that in those three countries for which he did comparisons, it was with kids between the ages of 15 and 18. Isn't it pretty much common knowledge that girls mature faster than boys?

It's been a while, but as I recall, The Bell Curve said that men and women have the same median IQ, but men greatly outnumber women on the right side and the left side. In other words, men are more likely to be either geniuses or dunces than women. Saying so out loud will get you in trouble though; just ask Larry Summers or James D. Watson. A few years ago, there was an episode of The Simpsons where Principal Skinner was fired for publicly saying boys tend to be better at math than girls. He later got a job as an assistant groundskeeper. When Lisa asked him how he was holding up he said, "I'm not allowed to have opinions anymore. All I can say is that no one is better than anyone else and everyone is the best at everything." Smart man.

h.t. Larry Auster

Who is to say...?

Earlier today I was thinking about Dwight Eisenhower (only God knows why.) I feel bad for Ike. Nobody really thinks about him anymore. A white man from a modest background raised in an intact two-parent home who achieved great things on the battlefield and in politics? That's totally boring man. Tell me about a man who was victimized by the majority, by societal norms, or by the wealthy. Give me a man who fought the Establishment even if he was the Establishment!

So it was with some interest I found two articles today. The first is from the NYT and it draws a character sketch of two women, the one a red haired single mother of three mulatto children, the other her boss who is married.
Although she grew up in the 1990s, Ms. Schairer’s small-town childhood had a 1950s feel. Her father drove a beer truck, her mother served as church trustee and her grandparents lived next door. She knew no one rich, no one poor and no one raising children outside of marriage. “It was just the way it was,” she said. 
William Penn University, eight hours away in Iowa, offered a taste of independence and a spot on the basketball team. Her first thought when she got pregnant was “My mother’s going to kill me.” Abortion crossed her mind, but her boyfriend, an African-American student from Arkansas, said they should start a family. They agreed that marriage should wait until they could afford a big reception and a long gown. 
 I'm astounded something like this appeared in the Times. As sure as night is dark and day is bright, this appeared in Slate, and I'm certain millions of other Times readers are thinking similar thoughts:

It is disheartening to see that the New York Times has run yet another puritanical and alarmist rumination on the decline of the American family disguised as a straight-news story. The piece, in tender, gloomy detail, compares the slatternly home of the single mother, all struggle and chaos, to the orderly, promising, more affluent home of her boss, who is married. The moralizing portrait that emerges is not surprising: The single mother and her children have a terrible life, and the married mother and her children have a great one. 
It's a sensitive topic to be sure. If anyone speaks up in defense of the nuclear family, there will be a clamor of angry ripostes: "How dare you slander all of the hard working single mothers out there! You hate women! You hate gay people! You're a racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobic neanderthal! Billions of women are in unhappy marriages and you want to condemn them to a life of misery! You're the one who hates children!"

The problem with norms is that there will always be those who fall outside the norm for whatever reason. Advocating or defending the norm is always taken as a personal attack on those who don't meet it. Are all children raised in single parent homes doomed to a lifetime of poverty, drug addiction, and crime? No. Are they more likely to be than kids raised in two parent homes? Pretty much. We moderns have a lot of difficulty with the concept of averages. The existence of one happy, functional single parent home or one unhappy, disfunctional two parent home is taken to disprove the entire concept of the nuclear family.

Liberals find the idea of norms that transcend the desires of particular individuals to be offensive. "Who is to say what is normal?" they will ask. "Who is to say what is the best way to raise children? Who is to say what is good, or true, or beautiful?" The only transcendent norm they will allow is liberalism itself which maintains there is no good, or true, or beautiful (with capital letters) outside of itself. If a Traditionalist says that, other things being equal, it is better for a child to be raised by both his parents, then it can only be a smokescreen for his seething hatred of those who are alienated in some way from the norm.

That's the most peculiar trait of the liberal regime: everything is permissible, but nothing is forgivable. It never occurs to us moderns that we can criticize destructive social tendencies like the increasing prevalence of out of wedlock birth without hating single mothers.

Moving into the future, the college-educated, traditional families will need to understand that, though of course it is easier to have money, money is not the only thing that matters in raising children well (nor are vacations or swimming lessons). They will also have to understand that they do not have a monopoly on joy or healthy environments or thriving children.
Maybe not, but if I were a betting man...

h.t. Steve Sailer

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The answer, of course, is no

Ross Douthat asks if liberal Christianity can be saved:

IN 1998, John Shelby Spong, then the reliably controversial Episcopal bishop of Newark, published a book entitled “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” Spong was a uniquely radical figure — during his career, he dismissed almost every element of traditional Christian faith as so much superstition — but most recent leaders of the Episcopal Church have shared his premise. Thus their church has spent the last several decades changing and then changing some more, from a sedate pillar of the WASP establishment into one of the most self-consciously progressive Christian bodies in the United States.
As a result, today the Episcopal Church looks roughly how Roman Catholicism would look if Pope Benedict XVI suddenly adopted every reform ever urged on the Vatican by liberal pundits and theologians. It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows. But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.
Yet instead of attracting a younger, more open-minded demographic with these changes, the Episcopal Church’s dying has proceeded apace. Last week, while the church’s House of Bishops was approving a rite to bless same-sex unions, Episcopalian church attendance figures for 2000-10 circulated in the religion blogosphere. They showed something between a decline and a collapse: In the last decade, average Sunday attendance dropped 23 percent, and not a single Episcopal diocese in the country saw churchgoing increase. 
The fatuous buffoonery that is destroying all of the mainline Protestant denominations is routinely urged on the Holy Father by liberal Catholics such as those who write for the National Catholic Reporter or America Magazine. Thoughtful Catholics often say that liberal and conservative are political terms that do not apply well to the differences of thought within the Church. I'd say they're mostly right about that, but they're easier to use and I suspect better than any of the alternatives. That said, what is a "liberal" Christian?

I would describe a liberal Christian as one who is exclusively concerned with what goes on in this world. The great apostolic workers of the Catholic tradition founded hospitals and schools, and performed countless works of charity for their neighbor. But there is a crucial difference between them and the liberal Christian: the former saw their work first and foremost as aimed at the salvation of souls; the latter don't think anyone goes to hell anyway, except maybe Hitler and Marcel Lefebvre, so there's no need to bother with all this talk of sin, grace, or redemption. As a popular Catholic hymn put it, their concern is not with "some heaven that's light years away."

Now my definition of liberal Christian would include some Christians who are popularly considered conservative, or some non-offensive, non-denominational figures like Joel Osteen and Rick Warren. The "Prosperity Gospel" is what I'm thinking of, i.e. the notion that God wants you to be richer, taller, and have a fuller head of hair, and if you do it means you are enjoying his favor. Studying the life of St. Paul should disabuse anyone of that notion.

Ross says we should try to "fix" liberal Christianity because it has been historically good for the country at spurring social reform. Does liberal Christianity have a monopoly on social reform though? St. Bernard of Clairvaux was the greatest social reformer of his age, not because he set out to be a social reformer but because he sought the Kingdom first and foremost. St. Benedict too was a mighty social reformer by setting his sights on Christian perfection. I vaguely recall reading somewhere that if you seek the Kingdom first, all the rest will come to you as well. Imagine that!

I strongly dislike the divorce between orthodoxy and social work. We all take it for granted that if you're concerned more with orthodoxy then you're a conservative, and if you're more about the corporal works of mercy, you're a liberal. That's not how Christianity has traditionally worked. If you really care about one, then you'll necessarily care about the other. Could it have something to do with the Protestant separation of faith and works? Some wag once said that everyone in America is a Calvinist, even the Catholics and atheists.

I don't think liberal Christianity can be saved, but then again I think it's always been doomed from the start. Ross rightly says we who think of ourselves as conservatives shouldn't be smug about it though. I don't want liberal Christianity to die; I want it to convert and live.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sacre bleu, it's Bastille Day

Why must the forces of darkness always have such stirring music?

Yes, but is it good?

The Left, the Right, and Catholicism:

Aw, who am I kidding? Just go read the whole thing.

Politics is a depressing subject in a world where liberalism reigns. All of our talk about education is a dodge to avoid talking about what is good. Talk about tax policy is a dodge to avoid talking about what is good. The economy, immigration, the environment... all of it is designed to avoid talking about what is good. Both right liberals and left liberals object to bringing the good into our political discourse. For them, the good is something for private, individual pursuit only. The right liberal prizes freedom of action above all else, while the left liberal idolizes freedom of choice managed by egalitarianism; everyone must be free to choose anything he wants from a menu that's as long as possible. Both agree that the good has no place in the public square because people have differing ideas of the good, and that can lead to conflict.

Right liberals generally want to proceed more slowly than left liberals, but right liberals have no principled opposition to liberalism itself. If you follow conservative politics in the United States at all, you know that it's one sudden death overtime match after another because their stance is not firmly grounded in a notion of the good life. Catholics have a two thousand year old tradition of what constitutes the good life. On some practical, day to day issues we can make common cause with either right or left liberals. But, as Kalb writes, common cause does not come first. First things come first: our own vision. Unfortunately, I doubt there is one Catholic in ten in the whole world who can articulate even the basic features of that Catholic vision. Here in the United States it's considered bad form to deviate from our own eponymous heresy, Americanism.

The only way our politics will improve is if we expand on our narrow definition of freedom to include not just freedom to choose, but freedom to choose what is good.

Know your role and shut your mouth

"Why our Elites Stink:"

The corruption that has now crept into the world of finance and the other professions is not endemic to meritocracy but to the specific culture of our meritocracy. The problem is that today’s meritocratic elites cannot admit to themselves that they are elites. 
Everybody thinks they are countercultural rebels, insurgents against the true establishment, which is always somewhere else. This attitude prevails in the Ivy League, in the corporate boardrooms and even at television studios where hosts from Harvard, Stanford and Brown rail against the establishment. 
As a result, today’s elite lacks the self-conscious leadership ethos that the racist, sexist and anti-Semitic old boys’ network did possess. If you went to Groton a century ago, you knew you were privileged. You were taught how morally precarious privilege was and how much responsibility it entailed. You were housed in a spartan 6-foot-by-9-foot cubicle to prepare you for the rigors of leadership. 
The best of the WASP elites had a stewardship mentality, that they were temporary caretakers of institutions that would span generations. They cruelly ostracized people who did not live up to their codes of gentlemanly conduct and scrupulosity. They were insular and struggled with intimacy, but they did believe in restraint, reticence and service. 
Today’s elite is more talented and open but lacks a self-conscious leadership code. The language of meritocracy (how to succeed) has eclipsed the language of morality (how to be virtuous). Wall Street firms, for example, now hire on the basis of youth and brains, not experience and character. Most of their problems can be traced to this. 
It's simply the nature of reality that there will always be a ruling class. We can object to the content and character of the ruling class (Lord knows I do), but there shall always be rulers and ruled even in the Progressive utopia of all men are created equal and so on and so forth. Our current ruling class cannot admit that they are the establishment because they've been steeped in liberalism since birth. It is blasphemy in our established religion to suggest that reality is hierarchical. The orthodox position is that we are all free and equal supermen, self-created through our own reason and will, with no limitations save that which may infringe upon the free and equal choices of other supermen.

Are we really that much better off today than, say, 100 years ago when the elites knew they were the ruling class and acted accordingly? To ask a liberal this question is to answer it. Of course we're better off! The present moment is the culmination of every preceding moment in human history! We're so much smarter than our ancestors. We're so much freer, we're so much more tolerant, we're so much better than they were!

It occurs to us not at all that not only might previous periods in human history have been okay, they might have been superior to our age. Freeing ourselves from the shackles of history and tradition is the sine qua non of liberalism, which requires us to pretend that things like ruling classes are a relic of our racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic, heteronormative past (I've been considering adding that to this blog's masthead: heteronormative and proud of it.) So we see the ridiculous image of Ivy League graduates, corporate magnates, and media moguls pretending to be plucky rebels fighting the power, as if they themselves weren't the power.

Brooks is trying to get through to his fellow elites that they need to stop claiming History's Greatest Victim status, and start cultivating that old sense of noblesse oblige. It couldn't hurt. I vaguely recall reading somewhere that to whom much is given, much is expected.

h.t. Steve Sailer

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy birthday Sir Patrick

Narrow mindedness may save your soul

On obedience:

On the other hand the obligation to obedience to superiors under God admits of limitations. We are not bound to obey a superior in a matter which does not fall within the limits of his preceptive power. Thus for instance parentsalthough entitled beyond question of the submission of their children until they become of age, have no right to command them to marry. Neither can a superior claim ourobedience in contravention to the dispositions of higher authority. Hence, notably, we cannot heed the behests of any human power no matter how venerable or undisputed as against the ordinances of God. All authority to which we bow has its source in Him and cannot be validly used against Him. It is the recognition of the authority of God vicariously exercised through a human agent that confers upon the act of obedience its special merit.
In other words, "I was just following orders" is not a license to do evil.

I've been accused of engaging in private judgment because I said I would refuse to obey anyone, up to and including the Holy Father, who ordered me to commit a sin. How, it was asked, dare I presume to judge for myself what is or is not sinful, or contrary to the faith, on a given moral question? How dare I presume to judge these things as proposed by my legitimate religious superior? How dare I be so narrow minded as to reject the judgment of Holy Mother Church's Magisterium on a question of faith or morals?

The problem with this is what is true and morally good is in fact narrower than what the Church explicitly requires of us. If we hold that we are only obligated to obey what the Church explicitly requires of us, we are saying that the Magisterium has already made an explicit ruling on every conceivable moral issue that has been, is now, or ever will be confronted by man. She hasn't. But just because the Church hasn't made an explicit ruling on a specific case, that doesn't excuse us from doing the right thing. The Magisterium is not a machine where we google the answers we're looking for. She is a teacher, as in "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

If we say that we will obey an individual religious superior even if he orders us to commit a sin, then we are emptying the Catholic Faith of its objective character. Everything becomes whatever the powerful want it to be. I'm pretty sure our Blessed Lord had some unpleasant things to say about that kind of religion.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tin pot gods and their graffiti

Good discussion over at VFR about tattooing. I cannot improve upon it.

I engage in some silly and self-destructive behaviors such as smoking and drinking, but tattooing has never appealed to me. Not even a little bit. I don't understand why anyone else does it. A good liberal would say at this point, "I may not understand it but I don't oppose someone else's right to do it." I've been called many things but "liberal" has never been one of them, may God grant that it never be so. I very much oppose other people getting tattoos. Whenever a friend says he's thinking about it, I vigorously try to talk him down. They're ugly. They're gross deformations of the human body. They can make you unemployable. Their prevalence is a sign of civilizational decline.

In our mass consumerist culture where we all watch the same TV, go to the same movies, and read the same literature, tattoos, body piercings, and other forms of self-mutilation are one way people have of making themselves appear more individual. This is incorrect. If I had a nickel for every girl I've seen with a lower back tattoo (appropiately nicknamed the tramp stamp) I could buy myself a steak dinner.

I could go on but a lot of the commenters stole my thunder. I think Matt put it best:

Liberalism envisions a society of free and equal autonomous individuals, self-created through reason and will, with absolutely equal rights subject only to refraining from infringing on the rights of others (or at least of other liberals, who consent to the liberal social contract). The modern form of liberalism has divorced man from his property, since property became viewed as de-facto perpetuation of traditional tyrannical aristocracy. The body, however, is still “property”: it is a domain over which each equally free emancipated individual has absolute godlike authority.
Part of being a free, self-created, autonomous individual is absolute unaccountable control over one’s body: thus the liberal obsession with abortion, euthanasia, and other corporeal atrocities. A tattoo or other self-mutilation is a self-assertion of absolute godhood over one’s body. It is also a rejection of the tyranny of unchosen natural beauty in favor of man-made mutilation: a form of Picasso’s anti-nature cubism asserted over one’s own body.

So there isn’t anything mysterious about the motivation behind getting a tattoo. It is the same old denial of any transcendent authority, of any fixed human nature, of any objective standard of beauty, and of any unchosen impediment to the free and equal autonomous will of the individual, which runs through all of liberalism.