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Friday, November 5
FROM THE INBOX 5 NOVEMBER 2004:
It has been known for about a decade that cells from a human fetus can remain in its mother’s blood and bone marrow for many years. But what do they do?The same issue also includes a story announcing a Mothers' genetic skew linked to gay sons, which will be taken up by the “God made me this way” crowd. The Christian believes that in a fallen world, genetic dispositions do not equal moral approval, but certainly even people who are not Christians should be honest enough to accept this, since people seem genetically disposed to all sorts of behaviors no one approves.
— Those interested in English politics may enjoy Charles Moore’s Daily Telegraph article Can the Tories figure out how Bush won again?.
— Those interested in the Muslim government of Sudan and its crusade against Christians and others may find of interest another article from the DT, Sudan belatedly tries to sharpen its act. They are worried about being the next Iraq, and therefore trying to behave better, but the author seems to imply that this is still somehow to be blamed on the Americans.
— And a third article from the DT, this one announcing that in north London a School [has been] told to drop its ‘offensive’ saint’s name. It offends people of other faiths, etc., which usually means that it offends people of no faith who use those of other faiths as an excuse. Not to be cynical.
Amusingly, the school is named after St. Mary Magdalene and some numbskull suggested renaming it “Magdalene Academy” — apparently unaware that “Magdalene” was in the past sometimes used to mean “immoral woman.” Now, a modern school may well be a Magdalene Academy, but you wouldn't think they'd admit it.
— From the Italian journalist Sandra Magister, a interview with the Greek Orthodox archbishop on his canceled trip to Rome: From Athens to Rome: The Scuttled Voyage of His Beatitude Christodoulos, with a shorter interview with a Catholic official. The church’s synod had voted 45 to 15 to delay his trip.
— From the (Southern) Baptist Press, a good summary of the baneful effect of Arlen Specter, In Senate, judicial picks –- and Specter -– hold key for pro-lifers. As most of you know,
“When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely,” Specter said in reference to the 1973 high court ruling that legalized abortion, the Associated Press reported. “The president is well aware of what happened, when a bunch of his nominees were sent up, with the filibuster.... And I would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations which I am mentioning.”But according to the story,
Or maybe Specter’s bark will be worse than his bite, NRLC [National Right to Life Committee] Legislative Director Douglas Johnson seemed to say at the same news conference.I myself am prone to pessimism in the matter of “moderate” Republicans. “Moderate” is a word that usually means “pro-choice,” and is one way the major media biases the debate — notice that the same media do not call pro-life Democrats “moderate Democrats.”
— And in the BP’s Cultural Digest, interesting stories on teenagers and plastic surgery, new practices for Ramadan, etc.
— From yesterday’s Zenit.org, the first part of an interview with the Catholic Medical Association’s Dale Leary on homosexual couples adopting children. Interestingly, she does not refer to “married couples” but “securely married couples,” which makes perfect sense when talking about adoption, but also suggests the need to make yet another distinction when talking about marriage. Anyway, she stresses that she has only anecdotal evidence but:
do not have any research showing this, but the anecdotal evidence suggests a dramatic increase in such adoptions.— For those interested in such things, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod sent out a press release that said:
Although statistics that Synod congregations reported for the end of 2003 show a rise in contributions and "weekday religion-class" attendance, "the real story is that membership is still declining," according Dr. John O'Hara, research analyst for the Synod.— Our friends at the MacLaurin Institute send the link to It's the Culture, Friends by Robert Osburn. Among other points he makes:
The greatest fear of most who read this is that our pluralistic society cannot tolerate the ascendancy of a Christian cultural vision. For so many trained in the academy, the solution that is proposed looks and sounds like theocracy. The fear is that only religious voices will control our politics. In the face of this almost laughable notion, it will be essential for conservatives aiming at cultural authority to make clear what political scientists have always known, and that is that the risk of a theocracy is only present when one source of political authority is excluded from decision-making in the polis. The secular left belongs as much in the political process as those on the religious right, but the reality is that the left has been very comfortable for the past 40 years basically dictating to the rest of us their vision for our politics. For Christians and Jews especially, deeply ingrained notions of human sinfulness are enough to caution against any exclusive takeover of American politics, whether from the left or the right.— Those of you living in California (north, south, or middle, I don’t know) may want to know about a conference asking the question Is Harry Potter Christian? starring John Granger, who wrote an article on the HP stories for us. The conference includes a debate between Granger and Richard Abanes, one of the most famous of the anti-potterites.
— Today’s dose of Mark Steyn: A catastrophic night for the Democrats from The Spectator.
— Also from The Spectator: The dead language of politicians by Rod Liddle, who also wrote Is Derrida really dead?; Charles Moore gives The Spectator’s Notes; and Christopher Howse asks Do little people go to heaven?. The last is not the sort of article you can imagine appearing in a similar American magazine, yet we’re a much more religious country than England. Odd.
STREET SMART VOTERS
"I'm saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country - the heartland. This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country - in the heartland."Between the religious stereotyping, the condescension, and the raw stupidity of some of these remarks, I can only scratch my head. There really isn't much political diversity, now, is there, in a Manhattan that voted 16.7 percent for Bush.
If you want diversity, go to Ohio, which nearly split 50-50 between Bush and Kerry. I haven't heard of a civil war breaking out in Ohio yet, and they truly seem to be tolerant of each other there as far I am can tell.
If Ohioans are more influenced by what their neighbors think, and have had some ideology “imposed” on them (by whom, may I ask?), somebody forgot to tell them which side to go with so that they could, like Manhattan, rack up 84 percent of their votes for that candidate.
As to religion, I hope a concrete interpretation of religion will prevail, when it comes to justice, families, marriage, the sanctity of human life, crime, compassion for the poor and for the prisoner and for the increasing number of fatherless children. (Read Isaiah 10:1-2.)
Religion and morality (sorry, Peter Jennings, these are not "'so-called' moral issues”) should inform public discourse and a nation's laws.
As to "street smarts," the reason you need them in New York (and Chicago) is because these cities are dangerous places. Where would you rather have your teenage daughter have her car break down at midnight? On any street, selected at random, in New York City (or Chicago), or in Omaha (that's in Nebraska)?
Thursday, November 4
MORE THOUGHTS ABOUT APOLOGIZING TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD
A SPECTER HANGING OVER BUSH'S WIN?
”When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely… The president is well aware of what happened, when a number of his nominees were sent up, with the filibuster… And I would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations which I am mentioning.”
SPEAKING OF DIVISION, LOOK WHO'S PREACHING
A Statement from the Presiding BishopThere's more, even this is too much. A call for unity and effort to move beyond entrenched positions? Coming from the leader of a church that has no idea of a way forward through the entrenched positions of the “gay rights” lobby in his church and traditionalists? He can't seem to pull this off for his own church, and he is telling the rest of the country they need to do what he can't do for his own church? Something comes to mind along the lines of, “Physician heal thyself.”
Certain things, such as “gay marriage,” or approving or prohibiting “gay” clergy have no common ground. If anyone doubts that, just watch what happens in the very near future as the “marriage amendment” issue moves forward in the U.S.. Eleven states approved what are effectively bans on “gay marriage.” And more are on the way. You can't embrace both sides of that issue, no matter how much dialogue and smoke you generate.
Marriage as a man-woman institution is itself a common ground, something ecumenically respected and affirmed, around the world. Just because a very vocal minority wants something, and they are refused it, doesn't mean those who refuse it are being “divisive” and intolerant. Can we, in the name of inclusion, include the agenda of anarchists, for example?
We simply can't embrace all positions on all issues. Can the United States be both Communist and capitalist? Can it be Libertarian and Socialist? Can it be both slave and free? And it can't be both “gay marriage” and traditional marriage at the same time. Those who argue for inclusion on such things are arguing for those whom they oppose to capitulate. And sometimes you just have to say no. The Presiding Bishop wants, it seems to me, to say yes to everybody, everywhere, and at all times.
Wednesday, November 3
ELECTION NIGHT AT THE MOVIES
HOW TO MAKE OUR CASE:
FROM THE INBOX 3 NOVEMBER 2004:
There has even been interest in exploring the emotional implications of male menopause, as made clear by Jed Diamond’s 1998 book, Male Menopause, and its sequels, Surviving Male Menopause and The Whole Man Program. Although medical evidence reveals no condition in men akin to female menopause (men do not cease producing sperm, as women do eggs, in mid-life), some men nevertheless feel the need to medicalize their mid-life anxieties.Commenting on new technologies that promise to let women past the age of child-bearing bear children, it notes that
In this case, as in others, our increased control over the life cycle leaves us less in charge rather than more, as we come unhinged from the only obvious source of guidance for what each stage of our lives should entail. To fully command our biological selves means to lose sight of our identities as men and women, young and old, child-bearing and post-child-bearing.— An important article, I think: The new ideology in health care . . . and how to survive it by Rabbi Mordecai Biser. After describing this new ideology — which we can summarize as “Your life may not be worth living, even if you want to live, saith the doctors” — he notes
The too-little-pondered recognition is that the true value of men and women lies elsewhere entirely, in men's and women's potential to do good things — to prepare, in fact, for an existence beyond the one we know. When that idea — self-evident to some, challenging to others — is internalized, a very different sensibility emerges. And among the perceptions it affords is that there is immeasurable value in human life itself — even in its minutes and seconds, and even when it is fettered by infirmity, immobility or depression. Basketball or dancing may no longer be options in the confines of a hospital bed, and even tending to one's most basic physical needs may be impossible without help.— Here is a site I didn’t know about until a friend sent me the link: Lark News, a sort of Onion for Evangelicals. I thought some of the imagined news story quite funny, like this one on Church creates section for huggy, touchy couples. Or this one, which begins:
Rise of “testimony crimes” worries policeThe authors seem to have mastered writing the story that is just plausible enough to be funny.
Tuesday, November 2
A WALK WITH TERROR
The Algerian extremist Islamic organization Salafi Group for Call and Combat (SGCC) posted a statement on its website last weekend declaring a holy war against "every infidel foreigner" in Algeria. The statement was signed by Abu Ibrahim Mustafa, the leader of the SGCC. Mustafa said that by killing foreigners in Algeria, the SGCC is fulfilling a religious duty to uphold Islam against Jews, Crusaders and infidels.The interview with George al-Rassi, a retired Sorbonne professor and an expert in North African affairs, begins:
Q. Do you think there is correlation between this group and Al-Qaeda, and what is going on in Saudi Arabia?While the militants, the terrorists, are probably not quite really popular with the majority (most people prefer peace to war) when they have to live with them, they have become a serious thorn in the side of Islam. And Islam, its leaders, its people, will have to decide what Islam stands for in the 21st Century.
When I met with President Bush and a small group of editors in May, someone brought up the fact that he had said that Muslims worship that same God as the Christians. We know that this isn't true. President Bush has also called Islam a religion of peace. This, understandably, upsets some, who know their history.
But given world politics, and the terrorists in the midst of Islam, who kill--in addition to Jews, Christians, atheists and others--Muslims, I suspect that if I were a politician, I might think about the millions of peaceful Muslims, including the many who live in this country, and decide to call it a religion of peace, too, almost as a challenge, in the interests of encouraging Muslims around the world to prove it. Their terrorists have no use for Muslims who think like that. Such peaceful Muslims, like the Trappists at Tibhirine in Algeria, often risk their necks by not supporting terror.
One terrorist group in Algeria tried to get an imam to sanction their killings by issuing a fatwah, but he refused, and was later found with his throat cut. They have succeeded in finding (or producing?) radical clergy (a problem in the West too, among Christians, no?) who will now sanction suicide killings, as well as the non-suicide kind.
Americans are sometimes accused of not paying attention to what's really going on in the rest of the world, and slow to catch up. It seems that Terror post 9/11 is the Topic now. It is, but it also was around, even in it present form, well before 9/11 and it wasn't going to go away. And it's not just the U.S. and Americans.
The latest news today on this front is that a controversial Dutch film-maker and newspaper columnist Theo van Gogh, who made a film about violence against women in Islamic societies, has been murdered in Amsterdam. He was stabbed and shot. He made the film with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee and former Muslim. She has been under police protection after receiving death threats following the airing of the film on television.
Well, I've got to stop walking to work. I never know where I'll end up.
SOMETHING ELSE TO THINK ABOUT (OTHER THAN THE ELECTION):
I was astonished to read your Canadian reader's comments. What does he know about Robert Hart other than what's been published in Touchstone?
RESPONSE TO A CRITIC
It takes careful planning and execution to make an intelligent person believe the best way to maintain a prosperous society is by expanding bureaucracy, placing heavy taxes on its most productive members, and encouraging its most troublesome and least productive with welfare incentives. Similar feats of education are required to make him think that every right-thinking person should be in favor of partial-birth abortions, or the best way to approach aggressive fanatics is to appeal to their reason and good will. No, it takes training, and lots of it, at the hands of the people of considerable intelligence and skill, to twist a normal person into a liberal, whereas one can be “conservative?with hardly any education at all, as long as he uses common sense and allows no moral nerves to be severed.
Basically, liberals are savage monsters who want to eat your children, enable the dirty immoral people of society to just keep doing what they always have been doing, and they favor the pursuit of narcissistic desires over community (I'm not making this up, folks). To a liberal, the more abortions, the better. Heck, they don't like children anyhow. As to gay marriage, the big scary liberal monster wants to destroy marriage as we know it by forcing straight people to marry individuals of the same gender. After all, liberals just hate families. The whole father, mother, sister and brother thing is just so passe. The new law of the land for liberals is do what thou wilt, and to hell with the consequences.
And what about the Touchstone view of conservatives? Conservatives wear a big "S" on their shirts, and run around the country fighting such disgusting, loathesome "creatures" as liberals. Of course, liberal publications like the Nation have a different comic book story, where
conservatives fight for the poor and the oppressed by relieving the wealthiest in our society of their responsibility to uphold the common good with their tax dollars. They also do this by supporting war efforts where the soldiers often come from poor, working class backgrounds, and
where the U.S. treasury is looted...oops, I"m sorry, just a rhetorical slip....I mean appropriated towards wealthy corporations owned by their friends. They also uphold decency and the common good by deregulating the market, and then calling such markets "free." Of course, they don't say who those markets are free for, but it doesn't matter, because rich people always have the public's best interest in mind. That's why they pollute the environment, overstate their profits to their investors, and move their base of operations to third world countries that have even less labor and environmental regulations. Hey, at least the workers they are oppressing in these countries are not Americans, and at least they're not polluting the environment where I live.
When will we as Christians and as Americans give up our us vs. them Chicken Little comic book stories? When will Conservative Christians in particular realize that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, including themselves? When will conservatives realize that liberals
are not grotesque monsters who hate children, promote irresponsibility and glory in Narcissism? When will they realize that liberals also want to uphold community, albeit falling short in some areas (like abortion)? When will conservatives realize that maybe the wealthiest and most powerful in our society don't always have our best interests in mind? When will liberals realize that rich people are not always the monsters they make them out to be (this also applies to conservative Christians)? Basically, when will conservatives and liberals see themselves and each other not as comic book monsters, but as sinful human beings of incredible worth in
need of God's grace?
Touchstone editors do not write from conservative ivory towers, and we have made it plain that while we oppose the Democratic Party, as it has become in the last generation, on religious grounds, not all that is considered “conservative” or “Republican,” is beyond criticism from us. Most of us live our daily lives in institutions dominated by liberals. We know a great many of them as likable people. Nearly all of them are strongly moral and argue their positions on moral grounds. We must care for the poor-we agree-but then comes the twisting, the distortion, the exaggeration: they want to do it ways that kill ambition and encourage illegitimacy. They believe that America is a place where there is and should be unparalleled freedom of choice-we agree-but, once again, the twisting, the distortion, the caricature of that idea: Women should be able to choose to kill their unborn children. Always the desire for good, the desire that makes them moral and likeable people, often religious as well, the kind of people that would help you and show you kindness, just as you would them. But they are actively involved in deep, horrible, ruinous evil, its essential inhumanity shown most clearly in their support of “abortion rights,” a form of nihilism that illuminates their less harmful ventures in unreality as part of a much larger and genocidal whole. We would not describe this simply as a “falling short,” and here is where we would differ most from this correspondent.
I have compared modern American liberalism, and its political expression in the Democratic Party, to Nazism, and think the analogy holds for a good distance. The Nazis also had the good of human life (as long as it was life-worthy) in view. They also loved children and made rich provision for their training. The children, that is, that they didn’t see fit to kill. They professed themselves friendly to Christianity, and had a large number of bishops and pastors to show for it. They controlled, through a popularly elected government, the university faculties and other public institutions in Germany. (Of course, there was a great deal of voter fraud, but that’s politics, after all.) And most of them were also nice, perfectly decent people. Why shouldn’t they be, for they were good Christians, pressing forward toward the humane goal of a pure and properly organized society, with the Enlightened finally in charge. To be sure, there was an ugly side to this. Jews and other kinds of people were disappearing in large numbers. But that was, regrettably perhaps, part of the cost, and in any event, could be left up to those who were willing to do that sort of thing.
The judgment of history, and we think of God, on those who opposed the Nazis, is not that they were opposing comic-book villains, but real and terrible evil, expressed in and through the political and social life of a largely Christian nation, often in ways that were so commonplace as to be banal. If one wishes to oppose the point of view held by the Touchstone editors, then he must begin by defending the fundamental mark of the liberal, enshrined in the platform of the Democratic party-belief in the right to abort the unborn. When this is seen as something a bit more than a “falling short,” and perhaps also as a sign and symptom of a Godless and myth-inspired approach to reality that comprehends faults in smaller things, then one will begin to understand our reasons for saying the things we do.
This correspondent wishes to be open to a liberalism one feature of which is the, er, problem, of abortion rights, and at the same time be a Christian--and not only this, but a Christian who has, because of this openness, the leverage in charity and reason to lecture us on our faults in these areas. To this end he, like so many others we have heard and opposed editorially lately, must downplay abortion, moving a horrible, bloody-handed sin that screams to heaven for retribution, into the category of a "falling short." It sounds so very intelligent, so very reasonable, so much unlike the self-righteous, unbalanced, and uncharitable slaverings of the Touchstone editors. Alas, that it is also impossible.
Monday, November 1
I thank God for CT magazine and the Christian response of seeking to make amends for wrongs done. I am always amused when people like Bob Hart invoke Jesus' harsh words as justification for their lack of Christ-likeness. The irony of it is that the harsh words that Jesus used was almost always directed at people like Bob Hart, rigid religious pharisess who thought they had a lock on morality. If Jesus was telling his parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector today he might call it the Anti-abortionist and the Planned Parenthood worker. Remember he told the story for those who thought they were righteous and had the right to judge and look down on others.I for one certainly feel no righteousness over voting pro-life. But I shudder to think at Jesus telling such a parable. He was speaking about those who practice their religious piety for show, versus those who are on the outside. Being pro-life is not a matter of religious piety to me but of simply human decency that atheists and agnostics might extend.
And finally, this from contributing editor Gillis J. Harp, who teaches at Grove City College.
He quotes some (rambling) comments I wrote in an e-mail, then makes a helpful point:
JMK: I *think* I understand why some Christians have a gut reaction against voting for George W. Bush. My question to them would be: don't you have at least have *some* revulsion at pulling the lever for John F. Kerry, a man who will do nothing to stop, and effectively promote, embryonic stem-cell research, partial birth abortion, the whole nine yards of things that you supposedly oppose and think are really, really bad? The anti-Bush revulsion on the part of some of these folks should at least be matched by a revulsion at the abortion holocaust. Comparing revulsion against revulsion, for the life of me I cannot understand why one can pull the lever against human life at its most vulnerable and (supposedly) for the sake of things like tax cuts, environment, even medical care and welfare all that (and these are debatable; the candidates differ in approaches and perhaps degrees) in the name of compassion, leaving the traffickers in human embryos, the partial birth abortionists, and increasingly the euthanizers and assisters of suicide an open field upon which to do their work advancing the culture of death.
urged members of his congregation to “not check [their] moral principles at the door” when they vote on Tuesday. There are some 730,000 Catholics in Dolan's archdiocese, which spread across 10 counties…The archbishop instructed the faithful that the protection of life “from conception to natural death” is the “paramount civil rights issue of our time.” Again, quoting Tom Curry of MSNBC:
He said the protection of life is not only part of Catholic doctrine, but at the heart of the Declaration of Independence itself when it speaks of life as one of the “unalienable rights” given by God.— Touchstone senior editor Robert P. George joins David L. Tibbs in an article for National Review Online about the future of marriage and the injudicious consequences of a Kerry vote. George and Tibbs admit that many who support referenda in 11 states defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman are considering a vote for Kerry, but...
...if Kerry is elected, the marriage referenda will have been a waste of time, because a Kerry presidency will give us same-sex “marriage” in all 50 states.— Also, Mel Gibson, interviewed about California's Proposition 71 by Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online, proves an articulate defender of the smallest people and a savvy political opponent of the measure.
LAST WORDS ON NOV. 2?
THE DEMOCRAT, VISCERAL AND CEREBRAL
In Wisconsin, where I live, a state that customarily votes for the Democratic presidential candidate, the 2004 presidential vote is expected to go to President Bush. The same electors are expected to return, by an even more comfortable margin, Russ Feingold to the Senate. Mr. Bush’s conservatism is well known, but one could hardly find more of an opposite in Feingold, who probably has the most consistently liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate.
How does one explain this? Rather simply, I think. In Wisconsin, and no doubt elsewhere, the outcome of closely-contested elections is determined by people who do not vote on the issues, but simply on the basis of the personal attractiveness of the candidate. The ABC poll, which is measuring this factor, found that in Wisconsin, while on issues of political substance the voters are very close on Bush and Kerry, on the index of personal attractiveness Bush far outscores his opponent. Clearly many Wisconsinites are irritated by the wealthy Eastern elitist whose Common Man Suit is put on and taken off at will. Bush’s combination of strong leadership and weak grammar, not to put too fine a point on it, are expected to win him Wisconsin.
I suspect Mr. Feingold will defeat his Republican opponent, Tim Michels, on much the same basis. Feingold is a handsome, well-spoken, Harvard-trained liberal who makes no bones about what he believes, which corresponds very well to the traditional Wisconsin patterns of labor and social liberalism, drawn from an old European root. He gives the impression, and doubtless an accurate one, of being a straightforward man who is not afraid to vote his conscience (he cast the only Senate vote against the Patriot Act), and is out to get the best deal he can in Washington for his fellow Wisconsinites. Michels has been a thoroughly unimpressive opponent.
Now I am going to go what will seem to be far afield to make some observations, but the reader will please bear with me. A number of years ago when my oldest daughter, now in graduate school, was in eighth grade, she took the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude) exam. Her scores on this test identified her, with several score other Wisconsin eighth-graders, as one of the most academically gifted children of her year. She was offered the opportunity to enter a program in which she would be drawn into the University of Wisconsin community for advanced training in her fields of interest. I became convinced, after hearing the presentations at the initial meeting of the program, that this was an indirect but intentional attempt to be sure that the smartest little Wisconsinites would, year after year, be initiated into mysteries that would make them Wisconsin Uebermenschen of the typical liberal variety. They would, in fact, be encouraged to become very much like Russ Feingold.
We opted out, and Martha returned to the public schools, very much in the business of turning out masses of visceral Untermenschen who cannot handle issues at all, either as liberals or conservatives, vote for whoever turns them on, and hence decide the outcomes of closely contested political races. In a directionless but relatively prosperous society this is the more attractive man, thus the victories of Clinton, Feingold, and if it is to be, Bush. In an economically troubled and directionless society, this is the bread and circuses candidate. In either case the liberal is usually favored, in the first because the Democrats seem to know this while the Republicans do not, and in the second because the former will promise as much redistribution of wealth as they need to win elections.
In order to do what it needs to do, modern liberalism must have two sorts of voter, the Wisconsin varieties of which I have identified above--one dull and badly educated, the other intelligent and well-trained. The necessity of having large numbers in the first-mentioned pool gives it an interest in keeping students in public schools as long as possible and allowing those schools to remain as poor as they can be. This is neatly done, with the full and enthusiastic cooperation of the teachers’ unions, by infusing large amounts of money, unsupported by the requirement of any meaningful educational reform.
On the other hand, able leadership from the ideologically competent is required. No one joins this class, no one can become a complex liberal of the modern variety, without being educated into it, for it takes much training to alienate the common sense and natural sensibilities that might otherwise make a conservative. It takes careful planning and execution to make an intelligent person believe the best way to maintain a prosperous society is by expanding bureaucracy, placing heavy taxes on its most productive members, and encouraging its most troublesome and least productive with welfare incentives. Similar feats of education are required to make him think that every right-thinking person should be in favor of partial-birth abortions, or the best way to approach aggressive fanatics is to appeal to their reason and good will. No, it takes training, and lots of it, at the hands of the people of considerable intelligence and skill, to twist a normal person into a liberal, whereas one can be “conservative” with hardly any education at all, as long as he uses common sense and allows no moral nerves to be severed.
I read this article in CT. This line deserves comment: "'We can tell them that we're pro-life and ask their forgiveness on behalf of all Christians who've been judgmental or unkind to them,' I responded.”Rev. Hart is not writing in a vacuum. If you want to read about a real problem pregnancy that he and his wife faced, read his very moving account, “Her Mother's Glory: On the Hardest of Abortion Cases,” from our January issue of this year.
FROM THE INBOX 1 NOVEMBER 2004:
To think like our contemporaries is a recipe for prosperity and stupidity.— provocative essay on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by William Luse.
— Our contributing editor Robert Hart recommends this article, How Not to Critique Legal Apologetics, which he found on the Pontifications weblog. He quotes this paragraph he particularly liked:
It wasn't the skeptics who first flew at Kitty Hawk, combined inert gases, split the atom and went to the Moon. Skepticism is its own belief system one that would leave us in the 18th century, stifling all sort of scientific and inductive investigation. Skepticism and Rationalism suffocate investigation and freethinking. The scientists have ignored Kantian metaphysics and they have prospered as a result. Scientific progress has been made where good philosophy prevails. In this 21st century an age of genetic research, exploration, and innovation, truly scientific methods of investigation will be the tool of progress. People will have to lay aside their rationalistic skepticism in order to move forward.— Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Charles Moore notes that Blair has signed us up to the sharia of Euro-enthusiasts. The “us” is the British, and he is referring to Great Britain’s accepting the new European Constitution and the European Parliament’s rejection of Rocco Buttiglione as a commissioner for his Christian view of homosexuality.
He quotes Matthew Parris in The Times.
Parris is a brilliant writer and usually a thoughtful, humane man, but here he was beside himself. "Kick him out," he yelled, in reference to Mr Buttiglione, and, "I say: enough of tolerance." He said that Mr Buttiglione had "indeed been the victim of anti-Christian discrimination, and that such discrimination is now in order". Parris wanted people with "anti-modern beliefs" excluded from public positions unless they agreed not to act on such beliefs.— A cheering story of a Lewis How, a Nova Scotian pastor with courage: Pastor defies same-sex marriage law. Revealing, especially in relation to Mr. Parris’ words quoted in the previous item, is this comment from the Director of Social Action for the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches, who says
"The role of clergy in performing wedding ceremonies is more entangled. It would be naive to think that clergy will be able to refuse to perform same-sex weddings with impunity, if marriage is redefined.”— A cheering example of courage, or actually examples of courage, from very different kinds of Christians: The Canadian Martyrs.
— Something the opposite of cheering: The sanitizing of polygamy, a story about the government of British Columbia’s belated investigation of polygamist Mormons, which he calls “a hollow victory”
[b]ecause since the early 1990s, successive B.C. governments have decided that if they went after the polygamists of Bountiful solely on the basis that in Canada polygamy is illegal, they would lose in court. The accused, they said, would challenge the law as an infringement on freedom of religion — and probably win.— Some of you may enjoy Abraham: The Master of Personal Transformation from the Jewish World Review. It discusses the problem in understanding Abraham:
in Genesis, we have a disturbing precedent. In introducing Noah, the previous principle character in the narrative, the Torah states, "Noah found favor in G-d's eyes . . . Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generation. Noah walked with G-d." Only after thus spelling out his spiritual credentials is G-d's revelation to Noah recounted. How surprising that the Torah would so laud Noah's spiritual status and never mention Abraham's!— An article on a different subject from the JWR: International Arab media crusaded for Kerry and American Muslims are heeding their call.
— Today’s fix of Mark Steyn, this from The Spectator: If Bush Goes, I Go.
— In the English Catholic magazine The Tablet, Michael Novak that America is A Liberal Land, From Sea to Shining Sea. It begins:
YEAR by year, the American electorate becomes (in the European meaning of the term) more "liberal" - that is, voters are more committed to liberty, less willing to heed elite opinion, and a little more religious and "traditional" in their moral ideals. Put another way, they become less like France. Less social democratic, less bewitched by the Left.— Something else from The Tablet, for you poetry readers: A Voice from the Bush about Les Murray, who
With his furiously outspoken enmity towards what he calls the "confining" ideologies that dominate intellectual and academic discourse, his apparent role as "spokesman" for the poor rural whites of his childhood and, most provocative and bewildering, his Catholicism, Murray is a thorn in the flesh of the urban cultural elite. But it has not prevented him being Australia's most popular poet, considered the poetic voice of the nation — and he is among the best-known poets in the world, in the ranks of Heaney and Walcott.— Here is something not related to anything the magazine does, but useful: Dial M for mayhem about dealing with customer service. It appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, whose site requires registration.
— A second article from the SMH, this one Danger of inviting evil into your life by Sophie Masson, about Satanism. Britain’s royal navy now has its first practicing Satanist, she notes, named (irony of ironies) “Christopher Cranmer.”
The Church of Satan breezily informs us that though supposedly it venerates the "Dark Force", in fact, "we are our own gods". All traditional sins are henceforth virtues. Altruism is a myth; the Christian virtues are just hypocrisy; all restraints are simply attempts to force the really strong into a humiliating capitulation to the weak.She follows this with some astute comments about meaning and the devil as a metaphor a society should not elevate or celebrate.
Sunday, October 31
THINKING ABOUT DANTE ON ALL HALLOWS EVE
"Like the medieval cathedrals that found a place for gargoyles alongside saints, Dante gives us what we seem to want in our popular celebrations of Halloween: masks, disguises, and the momentary thrill of being scared. But, through Virgil, he warns us against inordinate fascination with vice and the grotesque. Dante also gives us a sense of the significance of the liturgical celebrations of All Saints and All Souls, celebrations now ignored in the onslaught of Halloween activities."
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