July 24, 2014
According to this article in The Independent, Meriam Ibrahim has arrived safely in Italy following an anxious month spent in the American embassy in Khartoum. The Italian's brought her to safety about a plane owned by the Roman authorities. Concerning the plight of this courageous woman, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi apparently had this to say:
"If there is no European reaction we cannot feel worthy to call ourselves 'Europe.'"
I had begun to lose hope that we would hear such a statement from a European head of state in my lifetime. I know next to nothing about Mr. Renzi, of course, but he is to be commended for his act of mercy, and his public acknowledgement of the injustice that was done to Mrs. Ibrahim.
From this point forward, we might say that no news is good news where Ibrahim and her family are concerned. They will live in hiding for the remainder of their lives, no doubt, but this will be the least of the crosses she has been asked to bear.
This sickening story from Calgary illustrates a problem for the rule of law in countries with large Muslim enclaves. Over the years, France and other countries with such enclaves have seen repeated rioting and a failure to control such rioting. Tiberge at Galliawatch chronicles some of what is going on along these lines in France right now.
No one can say that the Muslim "demonstrators" in Calgary confined themselves "merely" to destroying property and burning cars, if there were anything "mere" about that. They targeted and beat up helpless people who dared to come out and disagree with them politically. That whole "free exchange of ideas" thing is pretty much lost on die-hard Muslims when it comes to topics about which they feel passionate.
Most disgraceful of all, the police apparently blamed the victims. One beating victim recounts being told by a policeman that he caused his own attack by turning up at an anti-Israel rally with the counter-demonstration symbol of an Israeli flag.
The press joined in, telling one young woman who was beaten that her physical "pose" in a photo showing her talking with the anti-Israel protesters before they attacked her en masse was "confrontational."
July 21, 2014
In case you haven’t read or heard the news, the city where Jonah preached God to the heathens and where Christ has been worshipped for centuries has seen the last of its Christians flee rather than take their chances with the evil forces of the jihad:
By 1 p.m. on Friday almost every Christian in Mosul had heard the Sunni militants’ message — they had until noon Saturday to leave the city…A YouTube video shows ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] taking sledgehammers to the tomb of Jonah, something that was also confirmed by Mr. Hikmat. The militants also removed the cross from St. Ephrem’s Cathedral, the seat of the Syriac Orthodox archdiocese in Mosul, and put up the black ISIS flag in its place. They also destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary, according to Ghazwan Ilyas, the head of the Chaldean Culture Society in Mosul, who spoke by telephone on Thursday from Mosul but seemed to have left on Friday.
“They did not destroy the churches, but they killed us when they removed the cross, this is death for us,” he said.
Of course, the jihadis were “generous” enough to suggest that Christians could stay in Mosul (modern day Nineveh) as long as they “accept Islam” or “pay extra taxes to Islamic Sharia courts”. What if you are a Christian and you refuse to give in to such unjust demands? Well, ISIS has an answer ready for you: “death by the sword.”
July 16, 2014
Two recent stories highlight the fact that the homosexual rights movement is and always has been a zero-sum game. To the extent that the movement achieves its goals, moral traditionalists lose. There is not a compromise point where moral traditionalists can keep some reasonable ability to hold their beliefs and live according to them but where homosexual rights activists also achieve their goals.
The first story is from Robert P. George and Breitbart. Chase Bank has put on its "voluntary" (cough cough) employee survey a question that asks employees to check "any of the following that apply to you," and one of the options is to identify themselves as "an LGBT ally." So if they don't check that one, then they are saying that they don't identify themselves as such an ally. Contrary to initial reports from the bank, employees state categorically that the survey is not anonymous; their employee ID number goes on it. So those who miss that opportunity to identify themselves as "LGBT allies" will be able to be identified by their employer.
It was mildly interesting to me that the first talking-point the left tried on this one was bald denial. With no evidence whatsoever, they implied that Professor George or his informant(s) were making the whole thing up out of whole cloth, that no such question had ever been asked on a survey at Chase Bank. Then Breitbart got hold of what purports to be an actual photo of the question! I don't know what the new talking-point is, but I'll make some predictions:
1) A few on the left will continue to deny the whole thing, claiming or insinuating that Breitbart is putting forward a forgery.
2) Others will shift to saying that the employees are lying when they say that the survey was not anonymous. They will also imply that the employees are lying about the pressure they are under to fill it out. It's voluntary, darn it, voluntary. So shut up!
3) And finally, I predict that some will simply say that, after all, if you aren't willing to identify yourself as an "ally" of the homosexual and transgender movements, you're a bigot and deserve to be punished anyway.
Nor are these mutually exclusive. I expect some on the left to move from one to the other.
July 13, 2014
In readings on economics and justice, one sometimes comes across strange stuff. Such as a book by Wojciech Sadurski, "Giving Just Desert Its Due - Social Justice and Legal Theory".
There is actually quite a bit to like in this book, not least because he attempts quite directly (and with a certain degree of success) to take down Rawls and his theory. But there is also much to cause one to throw up one's hands in despair. Such as this:
The upshot of Hobbes argument is that the distinction between commutative justice and distributive justice is not a proper dichotomy. They do not apply to two parallel types of situation but rather involve standards located on different levels: distributive justice is a matter of “defining what is just” while commutative justice is a matter of “a performance of covenant”. Principles of distributive justice answer the question about what rules are just rather than about an obligation to obey the existing rules or to keep promises. As we are concerned with the standard of just law (and not merely with the justice of obeying valid law, irrespective of its moral value), we are also concerned with what makes a distribution produced by an agreement just, and not merely with the justice of fulfilling an agreement. In other words, the Aristotelian idea that distributive and commutative justice operate independently, applying to two distinct spheres of life (public distributions and private transactions), obscures the fact that in reality both concepts of justice apply at the same time though in a different way. ‘Commutative’ justice, in the interpretation suggested above, is identical with a vindication of legal rules; distributive justice is a matter of moral demands.
This is nicely brought out by the Biblical parable:
The kingdom of Heaven is like this. There was once a landowner who went out early one morning to hire labourers for his vineyard; … [Matthew 20: 1-16 - the author give the whole parable]
July 9, 2014
I blogged here about Margot Bentley and her family's desire to dehydrate her to death even though she is eating by mouth. The family is allegedly motivated by a desire to carry out her own former wishes; she was previously a big death advocate. She now has dementia and, they say, isn't knowingly "consenting" to eating by mouth. The judge, fortunately, was more sensible and is not going to force the nursing home to kill her. (The family has appealed.)
One ethicist, Thaddeus Mason Pope, is unhappy about the court's decision not to force the nursing home to dehydrate Margot Bentley. He considers it a form of "paternalism." Pope supports what he calls "Voluntary Stop Eating and Drinking" (VSED). He applies this category, inter alia, to cases where people later change and want food and water but where they are not fully compos mentis at the time of their later desire for food and water. In those cases, Pope holds that to hold them to their earlier desire for death, expressed when they were more "with it" mentally, is simply helping them to engage in voluntary death by dehydration.
July 7, 2014
Readers of What’s Wrong with the World tend to be fairly young. Fully sixty-five percent of our readership is under 45. The most common single age category among respondents to the survey was 25-35 years.
Almost a dozen first-time readers filled out the survey. It is difficult to account for this perplexity. On the other hand, close to sixty percent of respondents are daily or weekly readers.
While we have no grey wizards or Chestertonian geniuses (and at least one remark complaining of the poor humor), we do have a few autodidacts. Overwhelmingly, however, our readers are highly educated, not to say overeducated. Ninety percent have some college instruction. Nearly half have earned a postgraduate degree.
Almost half, likewise, are securely and gainfully employed. We have several titans among our readers — of both industry and home economy. We have about twice the number of unemployed readers as we do business owners. Several readers, poor fellers (for over eight in ten readers are male), are destitute and jobless. Students outnumber retirees.
Our readers span the globe, from Australia to Kingstown, Thailand to the Czech Republic. Canadians appear to outnumber Londoners, inclusive of the guy who gave a hockey team for his hometown. Colorado is well represented, as are California and Texas, Tennessee and New Jersey.
Almost six in ten readers never set down a comment; combined with those who rarely comment, lurkers make up eighty-five percent of our readership. Only two percent say they comment often.
Politically, over half of our readers are conservatives or traditionalists. Almost one in ten are monarchists, still alive and unhanged. Add up the socialists, along with the social democrats, liberals, leftists, moderates, centrists and Democrats, and you get to about twenty percent opposition readership: pretty solid considering that a half dozen readers complained of our rough treatment of dissent. Anarchists are overrepresented because the Editor blundered when he composed the survey, inexcusably neglecting the category “chirping sectaries,” meaning libertarians.
Roman Catholics cleared forty percent among respondents. Protestants approached it. Mere Christians came in third. No pagans or Jews filled out the survey, but several Muslims, a few Orthodox, and even a pre-Reformation Christian did. Agnostics and atheists made up about ten percent of respondents.
Thanks to all who took the time to participate.
July 4, 2014
I love this country. I admit it: I am a patriot.
I love the many, many good things about America, I love the special qualities she has and the particular virtues her citizens exhibit. I love America’s sense of optimism, can-do attitude. I love Americans’ hospitability, of which I have experienced much. I love the American love for the underdog, rooting for the little guy to make big. I love America for its natural beauty and treasures. I love America’s contribution to the world of thought and science.
I don’t love everything about America. I despise the slavery we took into our fiber with colonialization. I hate the materialism of the many. I dislike the failing of separate regional characters.
But here is the thing: I don’t view any of the defects of America as intrinsic to the very being and meaning of America. I view each and every one of them as something that America can change and still be America. And so, when I say I want America to change, I mean that she should change evils that are incidental but remain who she “really is” deep down, because I don’t think any essential part of the root reality is intrinsically wrong. And no, that doesn’t mean that the Constitution is all perfect, either - it can be changed, improved, corrected, perfected, without changing what America really is at root.
July 3, 2014
Disclaimer: I write this post as a layman in the area of biology. If possible, I want to make some of the debate over the alleged impossibility of an historical Adam available at the level of laymen. The scientific issues involved are, of course, highly controversial. If I make cut-and-dried errors of factual statement or terminology, I welcome correction.
I have recently found the book Science and Human Origins to be extremely helpful as a starting place for examining some of these issues. Even more interesting is the Internet debate about the contents of the book. Paul McBride, who at least was at the time an evolutionary biology PhD student in New Zealand, wrote a 2012 series of posts criticizing the book. That series appears in six parts here. (That is part 5. It includes links to parts 1-4.) The authors of the book and other ID advocates have written many responses. Casey Luskin posts a link round-up here. See also here. I will be discussing several of Ann Gauger's responses in this post in more detail. Anyone who is interested in the issue of the alleged overwhelming evidence for undesigned human evolution from ape-like ancestors has no lack of material to study; nor have the advocates of intelligent design theory made a one-sided statement of their case without responding to critics. So if you want to read up, this is the Internet age; go for it.
This post will be about Ann Gauger's work concerning population genetics. Population genetics has become a major Darwinian argument of choice, allegedly putting a nail in the coffin of the historical Adam, and it was chiefly for Gauger's essay that I originally got the book. Now, to business:
June 30, 2014
Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood, and Mardel – and their human owners – won their day in court today with the Supreme Court deciding that the HHS regulation contraception mandate violates Federal law. The law in question is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which requires that a person’s exercise of religion may not be substantially burdened (by government rule) unless the rule furthers a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling interest.
Some of the good things about this decision: It makes it clear that for religious purposes “persons” means corporations that are for profit if it also means non-profits. HHS agreed that non-profits are persons for the RFRA, so they lost that point right out of the starting gate. It uses the highly principled and absolutely correct notion that treating corporate persons as having religious rights is for the sake of the religious rights of the humans who run the corporation. Something we at W4 had already pointed out not too long ago, here.
Secondly, the decision rather refreshingly invokes and uses the notion that “making a profit” and “operating according to religious beliefs” need not be separable in substance or in practice. The fact that a corporate person is intended to make a profit isn’t proof that such person can be divorced from the owners’ express intent to live religiously in the business of making a profit. (Which is not the same thing, at all, as making profit your religion. Not AT ALL at all, if you see).
Desiring to form a better estimate of our readership’s shape and substance, we hereby present the first What’s Wrong with the World Reader Survey. Whether regular commenter or first-timer, if you would be so good as to complete it, we would appreciate it. It’s quite short and will only take a couple minutes of your time.
June 29, 2014
One of my Facebook friends recently shared, with approval, Minnesota folk singer Peter Mayer's song "Holy Now." The lyrics are here.
When I was a boy, each week
On Sunday, we would go to church
And pay attention to the priest
He would read the holy word
And consecrate the holy bread
And everyone would kneel and bow
Today the only difference is
Everything is holy now
Everything is holy now
When I was in Sunday school
We would learn about the time
Moses split the sea in two
Jesus made the water wine
And I remember feeling sad
That miracles don't happen still
But now I can't keep track
'Cause everything's a miracle
Everything's a miracle
Wine from water is not so small
But an even better magic trick
Is that anything is here at all
So the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn't one
When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I'm swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven's second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
'Cause everything is holy now
Everything is holy now
Read a questioning child's face
And say it's not a testament
That'd be very hard to say
See another new morning come
And say it's not a sacrament
I tell you that it can't be done
This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now
It used to be a world half-there
Heaven's second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
'Cause everything is holy now
Compare them with his even more pointedly titled "Church of the Earth" lyrics linked from here.
Here's a little info.:
PETER MAYER is a well-known American singer-songwriter. His song "Holy Now" has become a beloved standard in liberal church contexts and was the title entry of the 2006 Songbook of the Association of Unity Churches. Peter's "Blue Boat Home" gained a place in the supplementary hymnal of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
In 2006 Peter began collaborating with photographer/videographer Connie Barlow to render the particular songs that highlight evolutionary and ecological themes into captioned video formats ideal for contemplative viewing or sing-along in churches and spiritual centers.
I trust that is clear enough, if you didn't get it from the song lyrics themselves. (Interesting terminological note: Evidently some liberals use "liberal" as a term of approval among themselves.) If you are curious, earth worship features prominently in the above-mentioned universalist "hymn," "Blue Boat Home." Lyrics linked from here.
June 27, 2014
A new number of The Christendom Review has appeared. It features a sizeable helping of poetry, as well as several juicy servings of literary essay. Our own Lydia McGrew devotes extensive and engaging thought to the mysteries of God and time. Our former colleague Bill Luse supplies some sharper polemical spice to round out the meal. It all amounts to solid nourishment for the mind, chest, and soul.
June 23, 2014
It appears that the death sentence for apostasy and adultery handed down for Meriam Ibrahim has been commuted by Sudan's highest court. According to the linked report, she has been moved to a safehouse. This is of course very good news, and praised be God for it. It is to be hoped that some arrangements will be made to reunite her and her newborn baby with her husband in America. Being an actual political refugee, I hope that her escape--and that's just what it is, as she is still under threat from the Muslim mob--will be facilitated by the US State Department with haste.
As in a lot of circumstances these days, we must satisfy ourselves with the cold comfort that political expediency has won the day, this time, and produced a passably just outcome. That the sentence was arrived at by what was probably a most impeccable application of the law of Sudan and of Islam more generally should inspire us to vigilance, and to a clear-eyed view of the magnitude of the evil that is ever more ascendant wherever the cruel children of the lonely God hold sway.
UPDATE: It is being reported that Mr. and Mrs. Ibrahim were arrested in the airport while attempting to leave the country. A man claiming to be her brother (there is some dispute on that point, strangely) has said of the ruling, "The family is unconvinced by the court's decision. We were not informed by the court that she was to be released; this came as a surprise to us...The law has failed to uphold our rights. This is now an issue of honor. The Christians have tarnished our honor, and we will know how to avenge it."
Undoubtedly they do know. Pray for her and for her family.
In case you haven't run into it, there's been a bit of a kerfuffle about theistic evolutionist Karl Giberson's use in a debate of a photoshopped image of a human baby with a tail. Eventually, with a monumentally bad grace combined with silly comments on his public Facebook page about Homer Simpson, Giberson apologized for accidentally using a photoshopped image. We can therefore assume he won't keep using it in debates.
Thus ends Tailgate, at least as regards the image aspect thereof. In the course of following all of this, though, I became rather interested in the claims being made about allegedly atavistic human tails which are, Giberson still insists, evidence for common descent between humans and tailed ancestors.