Dancers at the End of Time

In two posts, Jason Kuznicki here and here, expresses affirmation of the notion that if technology could defeat death, then this would be good. He notes, for example, “society would not collapse.” Well, that depends on what you mean by “collapse”, I suppose. Europe is currently undergoing a radical change of 1 child per couple … a society in which there are essentially no children, no parenting is one which is not recognizably like our society. The main similarity is that the people populating each have the same number of limbs and fingers in common and some other gross features. A complete and utterly radical change of society not being called “collapse” is purely semantic. Yes, there would be a society of some sort. It would however, not likely be recognizable as anything like the society today so “collapse” might indeed be appropriate. Continue reading →

On Golden Pond Compass

I read Golden Compass some years ago, actually when I read it I would not have described myself as a Christian. I read half the sequel but gave up on it part way through … it didn’t keep my attention. I never considered picking up the third. Life is too short to read bad books. That last hasn’t certainly always been my approach after all, I spent or four days one summer reading all of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Carter/Mars, Tarzan, and Venusian series.

The point is, there are dozens if not hundreds of far better fantasy trilogies and epics. Why pick that one?

Wing to Wing: Aquinas on the Benefit of Marriage

Well, I was hoping to read through this book as a regular series, but at long last I’m returning to it. However, my ability to stick to a schedule should be doubted enough that I will, this time, not attempt to assign such essays to a “day of the week”, but instead when I get time. But this means we can (finally) continue with reading Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying. We’re just getting started, and as such, after last week’s overview (click the “courting” link in the sidebar for the collected essays as they develop). This book is an anthology, a collection of essays.

This weeks essay is from the section entitled “Why Marry.” This the second selection from this section is drawn from the writings of Thomas Aquinas. It makes for an interesting read, if nothing else, but for the dialectical methodology, which hearkens to a perhaps less busy more careful age. Aquinas argues or reasons in the following way:

  • A thesis is proposed
  • Then enumerated objections are raised. These objections are all the objections that might (or have) been raised against the thesis.
  • Next, he provides his answer
  • And finally he answers the objections each in turn.

We continue below the fold. Continue reading →

High Culture and Beauty

Last week, when Matt Anderson wrote this, I linked it then, noting that I was heading out to a concert that weekend. He had written (and quoted a Steyn piece):

Steyn argues that the death of high culture is bad for low culture, too. A whole range of references and jokes is no longer possible, because the audience doesn’t understand the references. In addition, if high culture doesn’t exist, there’s no standard to compare ‘low culture’ to. And that undercuts the whole ‘pop culture’ enterprise.

And once Mahler’s gone and Schubert’s gone, you can no longer make musical claims for rock and rap, so all you do is hail it for its authenticity and its energy and, as John Kerry did, its copious amounts of “anger.” Thus, the loss of a high-culture aesthetic eventually undermines your pop culture, too. Imagine if talking pictures hadn’t been invented in 1927, but eighty years later, in 2007. Do you think Hollywood studios today would conclude that they needed to hire house composers and full orchestras to accompany the drama with symphonic scores? Something we take for granted about the form of modern talking pictures—dialogue accompanied by orchestral music—arose from a particular kind of cultural aspiration that no longer exists.

Ironically, the death of ‘high culture’ can’t be overcome by individuals deciding to listen to classical music or look at works of art simply out of preference.

‘High culture’ will only be revived only if the prevailing worldview shifts so that the role of art is not restricted to ‘taste’ or ‘preference,’ but is understood as embedded in human nature. And to this end we are hardly closer than twenty years ago.
The concert linked above was a Baroque period concert, featuring works by Hayden, Handel, Telemann. During the concert I was reflecting that this music, written in a far earlier age reflected very poorly on our age. Why? For that, continue below the fold.

Continue reading →

A Weird PoV

Mr Yglesias, self-proclaimed liberal/progressive “wonk”/blogger/pundit writes on abortion and the pro-life politics:

If Giuliani wins the White House, the pro-life lobby will wind up looking like a paper tiger and nobody will pay them any mind in the future. The mere fact of a Democrat in the White House doesn’t threaten their power nearly as much as a pro-choice Republican would.

It is my opinion that more often than not statements about one’s opponents views and motives says more about yours than it does about those on who you comment. That being said, Mr Yglesias’ comment is strange in that it assumes that the position of the pro-life supporters is about “power” and “threatened power” than about actual policy. I’d have to say, I’ve never held a position on any issue, nor known anyone who does, “in order garner” power.

How many of Mr Yglesias (and by extension the Democrats) positions are one’s he actually believes are righteous and how many positions are because they protected power-bases?

Ptui. As it was famously said, “I spit in your general direction.”

Right, Symbol and Peculiar Blindness

Last week, I wrote a short post identifying a feature of the left/right divide as how we treat with symbols. Commenter JA (Jewish Athiest) replied (the first quote is his quoting of me from the  original essay):

Ritual. The secular (agnostic and atheist) left are far more blind to ritual and it’s importance and use in the setting of praxis and symbol and cementing and supporting worldview elements.

We’re not blind to it; we’re scared of it. All of these things: rituals, symbolism, frequent expressions of fidelity have been often used to steer the masses towards evil. A mob of people united by symbols and rituals have been behind most of the worst atrocities in human history. Better a nation of individuals who always ask themselves whether their country is doing the right thing than a nation of sheep who rah-rah-rah all the way into wars, or down the slope towards totalitarianism.

Democrats have attempted to take back the symbols, of course. You’ll see most Democratic politicians wearing flags and standing in front of flags in their advertisements, but it feels (in my opinion) kind of phony. They don’t really buy the idea that wearing a flag represents a meaningful sentiment, but they fear the power of the flag being used against them.

 Look, I’m not saying we should get rid of them [ed: here “them” = national symbols such as the flag.] entirely, but the need to display the flag and related symbols has become constant. Wearing a flag pin for a few weeks after 9/11 was an expression of solidarity. Continuing to wear it every day simply cheapens it. Slapping one on your car next to a Bush sticker is almost sacreligious. Similarly, I think the daily Pledge done in most classrooms would be more at home in a fascist state than in the America I want us to be.

I think this goes a long way to supporting my original contention. That is, the left is color blind when it comes to ritual. Continue reading →

Patriotism: Eschatological or Immediate

The left/right sides of the aisle apparently have differing views of patriotism. One way, perhaps, of looking at this is that the right views this word in an immediate fashion whereas the left looks at it via the eschaton. Obama The left wants to be patriotic and express their fidelity publicly but … is keeping coy until or country has fixed it’s problems. Now, I’m guessing that everyone concerned here realizes that fixing all of any nations and specifically our nations problems won’t occur until Christ returns (or either the sun becomes a red-giant and/or humanity is extinct for a “left/right” ecumenical or more secularized notion of eschaton).

Another facet is at play here, note the picture on the “left”, Mr Obama is not (pointedly) putting his hand on his heart at the National Anthem. Everyone else is (except in this picture … one security official). My guess, however, is that Mr Obama has no specific objection to our participation and actions in the war of 1812, which inspired Mr Key to write his ditty, err, anthem. Let’s take the charitable view, that Mr Obama and those on the left, in their own way, are as patriotic as those on the right. So what’s going on? Continue reading →

Wing to Wing: Three Easy Pieces

It’s Monday Wednesday (note new day), which now means we continue with reading Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying. We’re just getting started, and as such, after last week’s overview (click the “courting” link in the sidebar for the collected essays as they develop). This book is an anthology, a collection of essays. Today, because we have to very short pieces to discuss (the two essays combine for about 3 pages and I’ll throw in an additional 2-3 page introduction to the next section). These three “easy pieces” discussed in detail below the fold are:

  1. The first essay is short, entitled “I Do” from a short essay by David Blankenhorn originally published in 1997 by First Things.
  2. The second is the introduction to the “next section” (the prior essay is, as a reminder, the last of the section on “where are we now”). This new section is entitled, “Why Marry” and comprises a collection of defenses of the institution of marriage.
  3. The third then, is the first essay in that new section, a brief set of notes by Charles Darwin in which he considers diagrams pros and cons of marriage (and it is noted, shortly after putting these thoughts to paper, he married Emma Wedgewood and by all accounts had a happy marriage).

So on to our easy pieces. Continue reading →

Wing to Wing: Hot Potato

It’s Monday Wednesday (note new day), which now means we continue with reading Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying. We’re just getting started, and as such, after last week’s overview (click the “courting” link in the sidebar for the collected essays as they develop). This book is an anthology, a collection of essays. Today’s essay is one which is probably familiar (with a certain amount of heat be it love or hate). That is to say, the text is abstracted from Mr Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, from the chapter on relationships. Because of the quantity of ink, print and digital which has been spilled on Mr Bloom’s book, instead of going in depth on this issue today I’m going to attmpt a short abstraction of one of the main points.

Modern relationships of our youngsters have implicit in their current state a fundamental contradiction. One the one hand, love has been abstracted to eros, to physical sexual attraction. At the same time, it is also held as a common notion that marriage and lasting relationships must be built primarly (or completely) on love as their basis. At the same time, demonstrations, protestations, and other public demonstrative acts aligned with courtship, i.e., balladeering at windows or from the prior week’s essay “calling, are minimized and set aside. Thus we have a situation where our young people find themselves seeking to base a lifetime relationship (or any sort of relationship) on a thing which they diminish at the same time.

It is mind boggling to consider the cognitive dissonance which apparently does not occur. Holding at the same time hope for lasting relationships built on love in a culture which also practices and esteems “hooking up” and “friendships with benefits”. If any readers think both of these are compatible and/or acceptable notions … how do you do it? How are these two things held up at the same time?

My criticism of my prior essay, must fall on myself and Mr Bloom, for we aren’t doing a proper “world-view” study of these youngsters. For I too am deriding this feature, yet not seeking understanding. I think in the near future, I’m going to return to the Wright book noted in that essay and try to put it to work on some cultural divides.

On Cinema: Foyle

My weekday schedule right now doesn’t let me ride on the road, and I’m attempting to take seriously my rededication and commitment to race again next year. That puts me in the basement riding to video (mostly Netflix). I’d highly recommend the series of (12 now) DVDs in the Foyle’s War series. They’re by the same team that did the Inspector Morse mysteries, so if you liked them you’ll like Inspector Foyle. They are set in southern England during the start (at this point) of WWII.

And feel free to knock my choices but Foyle  right now is the primary video I’m inflicting  on permitting to watch for my growing 10/12 year old girls.

Wing to Wing: The Rise and Fall of Romance

It’s Monday, which now means we continue with reading Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying. We’re just getting started, and as such, after last week’s overview (click the “courting” link in the sidebar for the collected essays as they develop). This book is an anthology, a collection of essays. We continue with the first reading … and first major section, second essay. This essay is from Passionate Attachments: Thinking About Love an anthology by Gaylin and Person itself, the selection here is authored by Lawrence Stone.

The main notion behind marriage today in the Western world is romantic love. However, in a historical context this is an anomaly and looking at our society today … likely short lived. Shakespeare, Austen and the like coupled with rising universality of literacy gave rise to an ideal of romantic love as the reason to marry. More specifically, this is not to say romantic attachment never has been the reason for marriage. It is just that now it is virtually universally taken as a given that this reason to marry has public affirmation and admiration.

A short quote:

It is also possible to say something about the changing relationship of passionate love to marriage. For al classes who possessed property, that is the top two-thirds economically, marriage before the seventeenth century was arranged by the parents, and the motives were the economic and political benefit of the kin group, not the emotional satisfaction of the individuals. As the concept of individualism grew int he seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, slowly became accepted that the prime object was “holy matrimony”, a sanctified state of monogamous married contentment. This was best achieved by allowing the couple to make their own choice, provided that both sets of parents agreed that the social and economic gap was not too wide, and the marriage was preceded by a long period of courtship. By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, individualism had so far taken precedence over the group interests of the kin that the couple were left more or less free to make their own decision, except in the highest aristocratic and royal circles. Today individualism is given such absolute priority in most Western societies, that the couple are virtually free to act as they please, to sleep with whom they please and to marry and divorce when and whom they please to suit their own pleasure. The psychic cost of such behavior, and its self-defeating consequences, are becoming clear, however, and how long this situation will last is anybody’s guess …

In my own reflections on differing traditions, hermeneutic and how to choose between them, discernment according to the wisdom of the desert Fathers (4-5th century ascetics monastics) it was thought that it was in community, in discussion, and at the very least consultation with a personal adviser was required for proper discernment. Choosing of mate and whom to marry is exactly the sort of important decision for which discernment is key. Rejection of today’s individualism, here as well as in other matters where discernment is probably an important corrective for the ills of our age.

Wing to Wing: From Calling to Dating to ??

It’s Monday, which now means we continue with reading Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying. We’re just getting started, and as such, after last week’s overview (click the “courting” link in the sidebar for the collected essays as they develop). This book is an anthology, a collection of essays. We continue with the first reading … and first major section. The first major section of the book is entitled “Where are we now? Assessing our situation”. In the introduction, our editors start out with a stark portrait (in their own admission open to challenge and perhaps overdrawn), yet perhaps too some truth will be seen in comparison with earlier ages. How does this portrait look:

Not so today, Now roughly half the nation goes to college, but very few — women or men — seem to go with the hope or even wish of finding a marriage partner. Many do no even expect to find a path to a career … Sexually active — in many cases, hyperactive — they bounce about from one relationship to another; … On the one hand, they practice strict scrutiny of ordinary speech for taints of sexism, and they rein in even innocent flirtation, which they have trouble distinguishing from sexual harassment; sensitivity training is in many places de rigeur. In addition, their legitimate fears of sexually transmitted disease, as well as their quasi-religious preoccupation with the condition and uses of their bodies, have taken much of the joy and ease out of the courtship dance …. On the other hand, many people are perfectly content to “hook up” for a night with someone they just met, or with whom they have been drinking too much, at a party. The young men, nervous predators, act as if any woman is equally good; they are given not to falling in love with one, but to scoring in bed with many. And in this sporting attitude, they are now matched by some female trophy hunters.

But many of the young, and more particularly many of the women, strike us as sad, lonely and confused. They are, to be sure, very pleased with their new educational and professional opportunities, and with their greater freedom and independence. But in private matters, in relations with men, most of them are, we suspect, hoping for something more. …

So … from that, we proceed to a short historical essay by Beth L. Bailey, entitled From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth-Century America. Find a short summary and remarks below the fold. Continue reading →

Wing to Wing: What’s the Point?

It’s Monday, which now means we continue with reading Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying. We’re just getting started, and as such, after last week’s overview (click the “courting” link in the sidebar for the collected essays as they develop). This book is an anthology, a collection of essays. In the introduction, the Editors of this anthology (husband and wife Leon and Amy Kass), tell us the reasons for their project and rational behind collecting much of what they have collected. Up front it must be emphasized that (and their words suffice best):

It should go without saying — but today it must, alas, be said — that we do not offer these “old” or “great” texts as authoritative, or authorities. We choose them not because they are old or because they are “traditional”. The “great books” disagree too much among themselves to constitute a single coherent traditional teaching. Rather, we offer them in the wisdom-seeking — rather than wisdom delivering — spirit, as writings that make us think, that challenge our unexamined opinions, expand our sympathies, elevate our gaze, and introduce us to possibilities open to human beings in everyday life that may be undreamt of in our philosophizing.

Below the fold, I attempt in my crooked prose to summarize some of the points made in their introduction.

Continue reading →

Right and Left … or Charity and Venom

Via James Taranto at OpinionJournal

That said, we’d like to step back and, without drawing any conclusions about Craig beyond what is on the public record, make a case more generally for liberal compassion toward closeted homosexual politicians who oppose gay rights.The liberal view of homosexuality is based on two claims: an empirical one and a moral one. The empirical claim is that sexual orientation is inborn, a trait over which one has no control. The moral claim is that homosexuality is no better or worse than heterosexuality; that a gay relationship, like a traditional marriage, can be an expression of true love and a source of deep fulfillment. Out of these claims flows the conclusion that opposition to gay rights is akin to racism: an unwarranted prejudice against people for a trait over which they have no control.

For the sake of argument, suppose this liberal view is true. What does it imply about the closeted homosexual who takes antigay positions? To our mind, the implication is that he is a deeply tragic figure, an abject victim of society’s prejudices, which he has internalized and turned against himself. “Outing” him seems an act of gratuitous cruelty, not to mention hypocrisy if one also claims to believe in the right to privacy.

According to the Statesman, the blogger who “outed” Craig did so in order to “nail a hypocritical Republican foe of gay rights.” But there is nothing hypocritical about someone who is homosexual, believes homosexuality is wrong, and keeps his homosexuality under wraps. To the contrary, he is acting consistent with his beliefs. If he has furtive encounters in men’s rooms, that is an act of weakness, not hypocrisy.

Defenders of “outing” politicians argue that the cruelty is not gratuitous–that politicians are in a position of power, which they are using to harm gay citizens, and therefore their private lives are fair game. But if the politician in question is a mere legislator, his power consists only of the ability to cast one vote among hundreds. The actual amount of harm that he is able to inflict is minimal.

Anyway, most lawmakers who oppose gay-rights measures are not homosexual. To single out those who are for special vituperation is itself a form of antigay prejudice. Liberals pride themselves on their compassion, but often are unwilling to extend it to those with whose politics they disagree.

Via hilzoy, called by blog neighbor one of the “best progressive bloggers”

I have a certain sympathy for closeted gay men and lesbians. I think that being so deeply ashamed of a part of yourself that’s so fundamental, and that you can do nothing to change, must be close to unbearable; and the knowledge that coming clean would involve not only admitting that you’re gay, but also that you have lied for years to people you care about, and who trust you, would only make it that much worse. But my sympathy vanishes when it comes to people who support amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage, as Craig did. There are limits to what you get to do to protect your own secrets, and being willing to permanently destroy gay men and lesbians’ chances to marry the people they love, and with whom they have found happiness, is way, way outside them.

Covering or badging? “My sympathy vanishes” => “anti-gay prejudice” masked as the opposite. Or at the very least a failure of charity.

More of the same, from the left via friend and blog-neighbor Jewish Atheist:

Ted Haggard, disgraced hypocritical self-hating homophobe, who will receive $138,000 this year from the settlement with his church, [emphasis mine]

who, like the Shadow, apparently knows what lurks in the heart of Mr Haggard (and as Mr Taranto notes, misses the point ala “hypocrisy”).

Wing to Wing: An Introduction

As I mentioned last night, over the upcoming months, I’m going to begin a Monday “feature”. On Monday’s, for the forseable future, I’m going to be blogging my way though in exhaustive detail through the book Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying. Today I’m going make some introductory remarks about this book and then look ahead, via the table of contents at what is in store for us over the upcoming weeks. Continue reading →

Iraq and A Quandry for the Loyal Opposition

From Michael Yon : Online Magazine:

False advertising is afoot. I write these words from Indonesia, soaking wet, having just returned from photographing rice paddies in a pouring rain, wearing a Florida Gators shirt. That means there is a green alligator on my chest. While supporting my team, my shirt perpetuates the myth that alligators are green, when in fact they are black when wet, gray when dry.The mantra that “there is no political progress in Iraq” is rapidly becoming the “surge” equivalent of a green alligator: when enough people repeat something that sounds plausible, but also happens to be false, it becomes accepted as fact. The more often it is repeated—and the larger the number of people repeating it—the harder it is to convince anyone of the truth: alligators are not green, and Iraqis are making plenty of political progress.

and Mr Yon concludes (but do read the middle parts):

Large numbers of Iraqis detested us after the prisoner abuse stories, and some over-the-top attacks on Fallujah, for example. But through time, somehow the American military has managed to establish a moral authority in Iraq. It’s not the only authority, but the military has serious and increasing moral clout. In the beginning, our influence flowed from guns, or dropped from the wings of jets. Later it was the money. Today, the clout still is partially from the gun, and definitely the money is key, but there is an intangible and growing moral clout and it flows from an increasing respect among Iraqis for our military. Washington has no moral clout in Iraq. Washington looks like a circus act. The authority is coming from our military. The importance of this fact would be difficult to understate.

In two ways the Democrats have painted themselves into a corner I’d not want to be, that is hoping for the country’s misfortune for it might help their own political cause. When the GOP holds Congress of the Executive seat, economic and in lately military failure means their political star might rise. Continue reading →

A Question on a Word

Recently some discussion  of progressives motives for supporting abortion has bounced across the few left-leaning blogs that I (can) read (can in the sense of “can stand to read”). Here is a representative example from Mr Yglesias. In part, the rhetoric is denying the notion that eugenics is the motive, which apparently was a progressive/liberal reason for abortion some time ago. However, when Mr Yglesias writes:

Along the same lines, liberal turned against the eugenicist strain of progressive thought for reasons of individual liberty and autonomy, rightly rejecting the eugenicist movement’s vision of society as horribly authoritarian and intrusive.

and similar notions. Eugenics as practiced by an organized state authority is “horribly authoritarian and intrusive”. But, eugenics it seems to me is not necessarily only practiced by states.

My question follows. Do not individuals who selectively abort/kill their children pre-term with the implicit reason being some genetic or developmental feature of the child … are they not practicing eugenics as well? It is just on a personal level. Does “eugenics” as so defined necessarily encompass a large number of people. What is the word when an individual does the same thing on their own authority, if not eugenics? And if a “cultural worldview” in a unified way is selecting the same certain choices to selectively abort, will this not have the same effect as if it were done via authoritarian rule.

It should come as no surprise that I’d view that selective abortion because of perceived attributes as immoral irrespective of whether the authority comes from parent or state. Many on the left (rightly) cringe at singling out individuals for special punishments based on attributes. Divisions in treatment based on race, sexual preference, or other attached criteria are anathematized … except when it comes to abortion of the unborn for any reason and euthenasia of the those deemed “unfit” to live.

Ephraim Again: A Prayer in the Context of Mr Vitter

Psalm 77 from the Spiritual Psalter of St. Ephraim the Syrian as compiled by St. Theophan the Recluse.

Frightening and terrible is the day of Thy judgement, O our Savior, when secret sins wil be revealed. Therefore I tremble, O Lord, and am embraced by terror, for my sins have exceeded all bounds. Be merciful to me according to Thy compassion, O good and kindhearted One.

I look, O Lord, at my sins and become agitated, seeing their multitude. Alas, how did it happen that such misery has befallen me? My tongue utters marvelous things, but my behavior is shameful and contemptible. Woe is me in the day when secrets will be revealed.

Others find my words immensely beautiful, but my deeds are repulsive. I teach others in the world how to order their lives; but I, who am an unfortunate one, myself indulge in the passions.

All my days have pased and vanished in sin. I have not served truth for even one day. As soon as I began to repent with the intent to sin no more, the evil one always came and trapped me through his hatred. Woe is me, for voluntarily do I land in his snare.

If I go out for a walk, I step out like a righteous man, like a sage. If I see another sinning, I mock and deride him. Alas, my transgressions will likewise be exposed and I will be ashamed!

O, better it were for me not to have been born into this world! Then this transient life would not have corrupted me. If I had not seen it, I would have no guilt, I would not have defiled myself with sins and would not have to fear interrogation, the judgement and torment.

As soon as I vow to repent, I return again and fall into the very same sins. The time I spend in sin gladdens me; I even think that I am doing something praiseworthy. Woe is me! Until now I never considered that gehanna awaits me.

An evil will leads me to sin, and when I sin I lay the blame on Satan. But woe is me, for I bring about my sins myself. The Evil One does not use force to make me sin; I sin according to mine own will.

Be kind to me, O Thou Who art kindhearted to the penitent! Forgive me my transgressions according to the magnitude of Thy goodness. Accept, O Lord, the tears I bring to Thee, and cleanse me from sin, as Thou didst cleanse the harlot. I realize, O Lord, that I have sined. Spare me according to Thy compassion.

When I read this, it was shortly after Mr Vitter’s public shame came to light. It seemed pertinent, but it has take some time for me to “get a round tuit”.  When one considers calling Mr Vitter a hypocrite … thinking along the lines of the above is sort of why that doesn’t fit.

Liberty But Not That Sort:
Praise of Publick Liberty

As Jason Kuznicki points out, it’s part of our contractual arrangement as “blog neighbors” that agreement must always be tempered with “but…”. For I agree with his dissent when he write:

I worry even more about my utter inability to tell society what it should be. And this is no false modesty on my part. Mr. Olson, if I were to take up your challenge, and to declare what all of society should look like, I am certain that I would fail horrifically.

but not!

I am also certain that anyone else would, too, which is why I insist so much on limiting the power of government.

For this is partially true, but not in the way, I think, that he imagines:

I think society can perfectly well figure out on its own what it should be. It doesn’t need my special intervention, or yours, or anyone else’s. Either it runs on its own, or it fails, — but the surest way to make it fail is to try to run everything oneself.

An explanation will follow below the fold, but it hinges on the political epiphany that I had a few days ago. I’m depending on my commenter’s and blog neighbors to “set me straight” and point the errors in my thinking. Continue reading →

On The Recent Hate Crime

I am forced admit, I’m slightly envious. I have this odd wish to be persecuted (or?) prosecuted for a crime of the sort that should not be a crime, to get my moment on the public stage. The desire to be seen standing up for a righteous cause in the public square exists, in a small part of me. I even had a stupid scheme recently, related to blogging and the awful McCain/Feingold thing. The notion was to get a group of co-conspirators, writing a check for “over” the legal limit and with a paper trail passing it from blogger to blogger as “payment” to blog for a candidate of their choice (and then the idea was it would return in a circle back to the original check writer costing nobody anything but postage) … then not registering it and making sure that the big amplifiers in the blogosphere were pushing this transgression into public eye and wait for the action to begin. This is just a fantasy of sorts. First, I’m not sure I’d trust getting my check back. Second, I have a family and a job. Third (and most importantly) I really really don’t want anythink like real fame in today’s world (I think).

Eugene Volokh and Ed Morissey note the strange case of the New Jersey high school girl accused of a felony hate crime … while there’s evidence of hate, it seems very likely that there’s no actual crime. It seems that both should be required before legal action is taken. Hate crime legislation is something I strongly oppose in principle and practice. However, it is not something I can imagine opposing for lack of means. After all I “preach” or advise apathea/dispassion and that hate is a vice. I don’t hate homsexuals, in fact to be honest I love most of those whome I’ve come to personally (philia). I don’t even think “God hates” them, so this particular crime is not one I could commit. Could “Materialism is Incoherent” and a flyer displaying a pie in the face of prominent (local?) materialists  … but in what world might that qualify as similar enough to be labeled “hateful”.

Identity Theft … Complicated

The “dangers” inherent in ID theft just got a little more interesting  as Montana apparently allows “double-proxy” marraiges. Well, they’ve been “interesting” in that way for some time, but it occurs to me, this complicates things a bit if the person isn’t just interest in dough but wants to complicate your life a bit. Think immigration and mail-order bride/groom sorts of things. The possibilities are … disturbing?

On Our Little Division

Left. Right.

Recently the passing of Mr Falwell has highlighted another difference between right and left. The left it seems has forgotten manners and any sort of notion that death is a sacred event. This is not the first time this has happened. The question is this notion of mine wrong? Are there counter-examples? Was there every a general and wide-spread spewing of hate and venom at the death of a person who has been a thorn in the side of the right?

This, one might note, all comes from the left, which views itself on the side of righteousness, right-thinking, fairness, and whatever the word might be that represents the opposite of bigotry.

I submit the following postulate:

If one engages in hate and venom filled rhetoric, or incites or enables the same =>then one is a bigot.


A long time ago, there was a pretty good weekly comic in the Chicago Reader called “Politenessman”, which I don’t really get anymore having moved outside of the city. Politenessman would wallop offenders of correct behavior with his steel hanky. 😀

On that note, I’ve a question prompted by a short converstion at Positive Liberty, which is the following:

Under what circumstances is incivility called for?

I don’t think there are any. To re-iterate, I think there are no social conditions in which it is correct or ethical to be impolite.

Is this a Left/Right thing as well? As I recall from the previous Presidential election there were reports that the Democractic conventioneers where notably far less polite (or even, gasp, rude) to the police during their convention when compared to the GOP. Does that mean that part of the left/right divide encompasses notions of socially acceptable incivility (name-calling police officers as “pigs” or worse comes to mind).

Scripture notes that even a bad man loves those who love him. Is that relevant?

Three Bad Things for Tuesday

Well, work intruded with a long trouble call, so I’ll be brief tonight. Three things to tee you off,

  • Frequent commenter (here) The Jewish Atheist notes trouble in Burma. Those “non-violent” vegetarian Buddhists burning Christians. On the tail end of a mostly even handed post, he takes the trouble to note that this is persecution not courthouse fights over statuary. On the other hand, on the move East as I am currently, it might be noted that for the Eastern Orthodox church this is most emphatically not news, having just survived some eight decades of Communist (Atheist!) religious purges and oppression.
  • The writers at Tellic Thoughts have two posts, one on anti-science fear mongering and another disputing with Mr Myers. The idea that science and faith are opposed is just plain wrong. How plainly can one state this. For thousands of years, Christian thinkers and leaders have throughout the ages cited the study of Nature as the second highest thing to which Man can aspire (the first being theology and the knowledge and seeking closeness too God). Note, some of the occupations and callings which this second highest thing is not. It is not a writer, playwright, artist, politician, defender of the poor, medical doctor, nurse, … and so on. That next highest calling is to devote oneself to the study of nature. Mr Myers in his post poses a straw man argument, thinking that compartmentalization is required to to science if one believes in God. Uhm, hello, that’s not true. One’s religion doesn’t creep into science just as quantum tunneling does not creep into homiletics. Neither does God (nor science) creep into cooking omelets. That’s not called compartmentalization, it’s called different subjects. His claim on compartmentalization is a plea for specialization not compartmentalization.

    But in this day of overspecialization, isn’t it the generalists those we need more?

  • Wesley Smith at On The Square makes note of the continuing descent of our culture. How far will the mighty fall trying to outdo the depravity of Rome?

Self Immolation

The left on the one hand skewers the other.

Exhibit A: Mark Poole at Prodigal Sheep: if the sin of Sodom was pride (Isaiah 3:9, Ezekiel 16:49-50), then many Christians are indeed Sodomites and should be truly ashamed..

Exhibit B: Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory thinks he’s a better Catholic, e.g., However, the more I hear from the Catholics on the right, the more I realize that my beliefs are more in line with the church’s on almost every other subject than theirs..

Question: Is Mr Greenwald “Sodom-like” for claiming his Pharisaic superiority? That is, cannot the criticism offered by A be applied to B?

In the desert in the 3rd century a saintly man was heard to say, “I’m the worst sinner I know.” Shocking the hearers who thought to themselves that he was far closer to God than themselves. Mr Poole, Mr Greenwald (and myself as well) need to remember that.

Liberty Is Virtue

Jason Kuznicki at Positive Liberty left a post length comment on a previous post. To give it the justice in a response, I’m kicking it back to the top. Mr Kuznicki takes exception considerations of what an Aristotelean view of the purpose of government and how that relates to Liberty.

First I’ll deal with Mr Kuznicki’s comment in some detail, and then offer a small concluding remark or two.
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Liberty or What?

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars wonders about some objections raised by the religious right “in full freakout” (whatever the heck that might mean, I guess it’s just an uncharitable (insulting?) literary method to assert Mr Brayton’s superiority depending alas on the unwillingness of the reader to actually follow the link and find no language to justify a term like “freakout”). But, I digress. The point of my observation is to wonder if his final sentence is correct. That is he observes:

But here’s the funny part: none of them seem to have noticed, or appears to care, that the word “Liberty”, currently found on all American coins, has been removed completely from these new coins. That speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

I’ve a question from this, to which I’ve no ready answer. I’ve recently read that Aristotle felt that the purpose of the polis is to aid its citizens in their pursuit of virtue (which is also thereby related to happiness). Why then might Mr Brayton value Liberty over trust (or even worship) of God? If, as many do, one identifies God with Truth/Beauty/Good and sin as straying from this ideal … then Aristotle’s idea of the reason for the polis is closer to the “In God We Trust” than for the establishment of “Liberty”. Why is it obvious (to Mr Brayton and I suspect others) that Liberty is more important than the pursuit of virtue (or trusting God for that matter?)? Is Aristotle wrong in his idea of the reason for our government and if so, what about his idea is wrong?

Cogito Sed Ergo Non Sum

It is always odd to find you don’t exist. For example from a Todd O (commenting at Positive Liberty),

So Jason is probably right in narrowing my focus down to conservative religious thought, which comes with ready-made moral conclusions about other human beings, so no thought is necessary. You always already know the moral worth of other human beings made on your religious rubric, and no empathetic move on your part is necessary.

Mr Sullivan as well (I understand) in his book (and rhetoric) seems to mirror the same sentiments. That is, if you think then you can’t be conservative. It seems I am not alone, that is that reflective, thoughtful people, who find themselves to be conservative do exist … examples abound, e.g., most contributors to First Things.
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Fiddling in the Fire

Gay marriage, Global warming, whether to abort (or not), Statuary on lawns, and the list goes on. All are considered by many as front burner issues. Last weekend I mentioned I read Mr Steyn’s book America Alone. Mr Steyn considers political ramifications of demographic trends. Some facts from his book, birthrates in Europe and the western world (in 2005):

  • Denmark 1.77
  • Netherlands 1.72
  • UK 1.6
  • France 1.89
  • Germany 1.35
  • Italy 1.23
  • EU average 1.38
  • Japan 1.32
  • Russia 1.14
  • Albania 1.1
  • Canada 1.48

With an EU average of 1.38 … and much of that boosted by the Islamic subpopulation which is largely the ethnic subgroup which tends to be above that average more not might skew those numbers … the incipient demise of Western Civilization (with the exception of the US and a few corners of the anglo-sphere) should be the topic on the front-burner. But the reason that it is off the table is actually symptomatic of the problem. Children, family, hearth and home are less interesting. The meme of over-population has still killed the idea that having children is a blessing and not a burden.

Question for the younger readers: Of you and your peers what percentage of your peers do you think put finding the right life-mate and building a family to more important than your career or intellectual pursuits?

Because, if it isn’t a goodly percentage … recall that those that think it is more important are those who will inherit the future … not you.

Islamic Just War

al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other Islamic warriors fighting in this current asymmetrical battle consistently behead, torture, and specifically target civillians. It might be interesting to note, via this document that within Islam itself, it appears lies better means of convincing those who practice these methods from seeing the error of their ways. In the past on other issues, I’ve argued that those who wish to persuade must do so from within the traditions/worldviews of those with whom they argue, as opposed to re-iterating doctrine and rules divined from their own. Likewise, if we wish to persuade those Islamic men and women who oppose us, to talk (or at least fight like … well, soldiers), then we need to use arguments from within their traditions, for it seems such traditions do exist and arguably if these authors are correct, are stronger traditions than those which the Islamic extremists follow themselves.
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Needing a Clue

From Joseph Pearce at On The Square on the Church of England and marraige

Alas, however, the honorable bishop was criticized by many of his own Anglican colleagues for seeming to suggest that the Church of England “did not approve of unmarried couples.” In the end, the Church of England’s governing body surrendered once again to the meretricious zeitgeist, affirming that marriage was “important” but that it should not be given preferential treatment over cohabitation or lone parenthood. In reality, therefore, according to the powers-that-be in the Anglican Church, marriage is no more “important” than any other lifestyle choice.

What I Said

Ed Darrel was kind enough to write a response to my “quibble” of his contribution to a discussion on educatin. My previous post is here, his is here. his original post was here. In his second essay, Mr Darrell perhaps has misunderstood my essay … and we have a disagreement running as well over the value of education in America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
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On Emergent Life: Considered Yet Again (Part Three)

This is the third of a short series of posts on emergent life. Peter Wall at Res Ipsa Loquitur has a roundup of our discussion. Mr Wall started this by stating he had never heard any reasonable arguments for giving emergent life value. I took up his challenge beginning with a discussion of human eugenics as considered pragmatically not morally. This essay will attempt to begin a discussion from a moral perspective as to why emergent life might be treasured.
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