What’s Wrong with the World

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The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

October 20, 2014

That didn't take long

It took about a week from the imposition of homosexual "marriage" by judicial fiat in Idaho for the issue of forcing ministers to perform same-sex "weddings" to arise.

Now, let me make something clear up front, because we're getting some carping about the allegedly misleading nature of the story as told in conservative media. (I'm seeing it on Facebook, even among sympathetic people.) No, the city of Coeur D'Alene is not telling all ministers within their jurisdiction that they have to perform homosexual "marriages." More on how the distinction is made in a moment. And no, the city hasn't yet actually arrested or brought charges against the particular couple in the story. Rather, the couple's pro bono attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom has, wisely in my view, given the circumstances, acted pro-actively to prevent the city from doing so.

Continue reading "That didn't take long" »

October 19, 2014

A Tale of Two Cities

It was the clearest of times, it was the most confused of times.
It was the free-est of times, it was the most enslaved of times.

Those who have eyes to see can see the workings of Satan more clearly than ever before, those whose eyes are untrained can be puzzled and in doubt even about simple and straightforward matters (is murder wrong?, is sodomy just another form of love?)
This age gives men the most freedom of any age of man, but men use it to become more enslaved to sin than ever before.

What we have here is the City of Neo-Pelagian Consequentialists and the City of Christians.

The mid-stream “Relatio” for the Synod on the Family in Rome gives every appearance (if you know how to read between the lines), of attempting to push an specific agenda: that the Church can accommodate a gradualism of approach to perfection, a gradualism of a certain sort. In addition to being an agenda mostly made up in smoke-filled back rooms rather than the positions of the Synod Fathers themselves, this gradualism allows that persons (and couples, and families) can normally and fruitfully be expected to progress from a situation, (or relationship) that is evil in many respects but encompasses a good of some aspect, and gradually grow into another aspect of good, and then another aspect of good, and yet another, and so on until it eventually approaches to perfection.

From the moment that the order of creation is determined by orientation towards Christ, it becomes necessary to distinguish without separating the various levels through which God communicates the grace of the covenant to humanity. Through the law of gradualness (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 34), typical of divine pedagogy, this means interpreting the nuptial covenant in terms of continuity and novelty, in the order of creation and in that of redemption.

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October 18, 2014

What We’re Reading: “Drink, ye harpooneers!”

Among the world’s literature of set-piece oratory in fiction, poem or drama, the American could do far worse than to assert his own pride of place, on the basis of Captain Ahab’s oathbearing flourishes when, having revealed to his crew the true purpose of their voyage, he swears them to “this indissoluble league” of vengeance against the White Whale.

“Advance, ye mates! Cross your lances full before me. Well done! Let me touch the axis.” So saying, with extended arm he grasped the three level, radiating lances at their crossed center; while so doing, suddenly and nervously twitched them; meanwhile glancing intently from Starbuck to Stubb; from Stubb to Flask. It seemed as though by some nameless interior volition, he would fain have shocked into them the same fiery emotion accumulated within the Leyden jar of his own magnetic life. The three mates quailed before his strong, sustained, and mystic aspect. Stubb and Flask looked sideways from him; the honest eye of Starbuck fell downright.

“In vain!” cried Ahab; “but, maybe, ‘tis well. For did ye three but once take the full forced shock, then mine own electric thing, that had perhaps expired from out me. Perchance, too, it would have dropped ye dead. Perchance ye need it not. Down lances! And now, ye mates, I do appoint ye three cup-bearers to my three pagan kinsmen there — yon three most honorable gentlemen and noblemen, my valiant harpooneers. Disdain the task? What, when the great Pope washes the feet of beggars using his tiara for ewer? Oh my sweet cardinals! your own condescension, that shall bend ye to it. I do not order ye; ye will it. Cut your seizings and draw the poles ye harpooneers!”

Silently obeying the order, the three harpooners now stood with the detached iron part of their harpoons some three feet long held barbs up before him.

“Stab me not with that keen steel! Cant them; cant them over! know ye not the goblet end? Turn up the socket! So, so; now, ye cup-bearers, advance. The irons! take them; hold them while I fill!” Forthwith slowly going from one officer to the other he brimmed the harpoon sockets with the fiery waters from the pewter.

“Now, three to three, ye stand. Commend the murderous chalices*! Bestow them, ye who are now made parties to this indissoluble league. Ha! Starbuck! but the deed is done! Yon ratifying sun now waits to sit upon it. Drink, ye harpooneers! drink and swear, ye men that man the deathful whaleboat's bow — Death to Moby Dick! God hunt us all if we do not hunt Moby Dick to his death!”

Moby Dick is a famously undisciplined work, full of all manner of literary diversions and larks that appear to detract from the pacing of the story itself. A chapter in the latter half of the book announces this outright: “There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.” Some of this may be ascribed to an intense desire to convey, as best as human writing can, the true experience of whaling, which project could not possibly be attempted without supplying some real feeling of monotony, repetition, even boredom. We cannot suppose men who, in the infancy of industrial development, departed from little Nantucket for the hunting grounds of the hugest game, compassing every sea on earth, on multiple expeditions a single one of which consumed a twentieth of their earthly lives — we cannot suppose such men would tell tales noteworthy for their brevity, or for their alacrity in getting to the conclusion. Thus Melville’s great novel has turned off many a reader with its detailed discursions into everything from the natural history of the whales to the technical methods, circa the mid-19th century, of skinning and processing a slain leviathan.

Another source of the discursiveness lies in what might be called Melville’s efflorescence of imitation. For instance, the following few chapters after this very speech by Ahab openly emulate Shakespearean forms, with stage direction, formal soliloquys and all. Starbuck’s sad lament provides a taste:

Horrible old man! Who’s over him, he cries; — aye, he would be a democrat to all above; look, how he lords it over all below! Oh! I plainly see my miserable office, — to obey, rebelling; and worse yet, to hate with touch of pity! For in his eyes I read some lurid woe would shrivel me up, had I it.

[ . . .]

Oh, God! to sail with such a heathen crew that have small touch of human mothers in them! Whelped somewhere by the sharkish sea. The white whale is their demigorgon. Hark! the infernal orgies! that revelry is forward! mark the unfaltering silence aft! Methinks it pictures life. Foremost through the sparkling sea shoots on the gay, embattled, bantering bow, but only to drag dark Ahab after it, where he broods within his sternward cabin, builded over the dead water of the wake, and further on, hunted by its wolfish gurglings.

But before the playful theater emulations and all the discursions that follow, there is Ahab’s unforgettable speech and the fire that undergirds. This is the center of the book. Here there few no digressions; all is concentrated, galvanizing disclosure; dialogue and mostly sparse description, owing more to density of meaning than ornateness of elaboration.

It is, as I say, perhaps America’s highest achievement in the category Oratory in Fiction. Readers may now commence to offer their own nominees, or belittle mine.


* Some texts render it as “Command the murderous chalices!” and I cannot say which version I prefer, though I should like to know which version is the true one from Melville’s hand.

October 17, 2014

Good witch hunts

I've been thinking lately about witch hunts at Christian colleges. I've had contact with several very conservative colleges in my time, and I know well how difficult it can be for faculty not to have tenure and to face the possibility of being fired over small deviations from school doctrine on unimportant points. It does not foster a good academic environment for people to have to worry that they will lose their jobs if they have the "wrong" views on the order of events in eschatology, for example. And the more or less "fire at will" atmosphere on some Christian college campuses can just as easily be used to penalize conservatives who want to uphold the school's traditional identity as to penalize liberals who want to tear it down.

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October 14, 2014

The zero-sum game: Christian college may lose accreditation for Christian moral policy

Having accreditation is a big deal to a college. If a college does not have accreditation, students cannot transfer credits from that college elsewhere. Graduate schools and employers are likely to consider a degree from that college to be worthless. Students cannot take National Merit scholarships to that college. Students cannot get student loans or grants to go there. A non-accredited college is worse than a second class citizen in the world of higher education. A degree from such a school may well be considered worse than useless, at least for many purposes.

The threat of losing accreditation is therefore also an extremely big deal.

Now, the zero-sum game moves up to a new level: Christian colleges may start to lose their accreditation with regional accrediting agencies, and one college almost certainly will, if they refuse to allow their faculty and students to engage in homosexual sex acts.

Yep. That's what I said. The moral behavioral standards that, whether consistently enforced or not, are on the books at most remotely serious Christian colleges in the country now present a risk of loss of accreditation.

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October 12, 2014

Disgusting Behavior & Double Standards

This article speaks for itself. Pro-free-speech people get licenses for public demonstrations and put on silent rallies in 10 or more cities. Gay activists attack them in most or all of the cities. Police basically don't do their job to ensure that the peaceful demonstrators get to express themselves peacefully when they have a license to do so, and instead allow gays to disrupt things, are verbally and physically abusive, and basically act like barbarians.

It has been the case for at least 20 years that the gay agenda is supported by groups that - regardless of how you actually feel about the gay agenda itself - normal people would feel very uncomfortable being around and would be positively unhappy having them over for dinner, because they are DISGUSTING. They think nothing of treating fellow citizens with any kind of abuse that might stifle expressions ordinary common sense. Reminds me of Germany's Brown Shirts before Hitler had taken the official reins of power.

October 10, 2014

Disturbing expert closed-mindedness on Jahi McMath case

Dr. Paul Graham Fisher is one of the expert witnesses who concluded ten months ago that Jahi McMath was dead in virtue of neurological criteria--that is to say, had suffered whole brain death. Now, for reasons that are utterly obscure to me, Judge Grillo has asked Fisher to be the "independent" expert to evaluate the new evidence being brought forward by Jahi's family. That simply doesn't make sense. As my recent post on this subject shows, I have some sympathy for Judge Grillo, who is in a legally unprecedented situation. But why in the world would you place this matter in the hands of the very same person who drew the brain death conclusion in the first place? It seems evident that such a person has an inherent conflict of interest, however hard he might try to set it aside. And it's not as though a new determination has to be made by convincing the same person who thought she was brain dead nearly a year ago. Why would it have to be that way? There must be many experts who are truly new people to the entire situation and who could be asked for comment on the new evidence. So this is, in my opinion, a huge misstep by Grillo.

Unfortunately, Fisher is only confirming concerns about his open-mindedness by his entire approach to the evidence.

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October 9, 2014

Anglican wussery on abortion

The title does not refer to the present Church of England. There, you might respond, it is no surprise at all to find wussery on the issue of abortion. I'm sorry to say, however, that this post is about an open letter by a priest in the Anglican Church in North America, by its origins a much more conservative denomination. The ACNA is a spin-off of the ECUSA. They left amidst a fair bit of church drama surrounding the ECUSA's wholehearted endorsement of homosexuality. Officially the ACNA is pro-life (see here).

Unfortunately, at least one of its priests, Fr. Thomas McKenzie, is somewhat confused on the moral nature and urgency of the slaughter of the unborn. And that's putting it nicely.

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October 7, 2014

Roe V Wade All Over Again

Yesterday the Supreme Court refused to hear appeals in so-called “same-sex marriage” cases coming out of Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia. In those cases, federal appellate courts had ruled in favor of various plaintiffs who argued that state constitutional bans against so-called “same-sex marriage” were some-how unconstitutional (presumably using the same iron-clad reasoning we saw coming out of the Roe decision) and now the Supreme Court has refused to hear the various State’s appeals to those decisions.

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October 5, 2014

What's Up With Jahi McMath

In January of this year, I wrote this about the Jahi McMath case:

This cannot and will not go on indefinitely. It is not true that a dead body can be sustained forever by a ventilator. Eventually, usually fairly rapidly, the heart stops functioning and cardiac arrest occurs, despite full ventilator life support.

My own opinion is that the longer it takes for that to happen, the more questionable was the original diagnosis. My empirical faith in zombies that live for years with literally zero brain function, including zero brain-stem function, etc., is at an extremely low ebb.

It's nine months later, which is a long time in terms of alleged total brain death. Not only has Jahi McMath not suffered cardiac arrest, her family and several doctors claim the following:

--She has undergone menarche (the onset of menstruation).
--She has electrical activity in her brain.
--She has blood flow to her brain.
--Her upper brain has large areas of structural preservation.

And, most controversial of all,

--She moves her foot and hand on command.

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October 2, 2014

Islam is not a net gain for America

I thought of calling this post "Islam is Bad for America" but then decided to be more tactful.

The most recent incident of Sudden Jihad Derangement Syndrome is another uncomfortable reality check, one in an endless stream of uncomfortable reality checks, for those who want to characterize Islam as a Religion of Peace and Muslims as the natural allies of Christians.

I suppose one could argue that it is not an uncomfortable reality check, since something becomes a reality check only if allowed to act as one, and those who are deeply committed to their illusions that "real Islam" is peaceful are not about to be checked by reality, no matter how grisly.

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September 28, 2014

Five linguistic usages that undermine marriage

Language has always changed, but the Internet has noticeably increased the speed of language change, not always for the better.

It's extremely easy to adopt new terminology unthinkingly because everyone else is using it without realizing the social effects. Language both reflects and influences culture. It's one of those round and round, chicken and egg cycles that can never be precisely pinned down. Lex orandi, lex credendi always has its parallel in the world of ordinary speech.

To move from the general to the specific, I present five more or less neologistic usages, usages that have changed or come into being in the last twenty years at most (by my guess). All five tend to downplay the importance of marriage and the distinction between marriage and non-married states:

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September 26, 2014

The truth always comes out

Several years ago, in 2009 to be precise, readers may remember a kerfuffle about Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her comment that Roe v. Wade was partially motivated by the desire not to have too many of the "populations that we don't want to have too many of"--namely, poor people.

At the time, some came to Ginsberg's defense, saying that she had merely commented that this was a societal motivation, not that she shared the perspective. I commented quite a bit (see here and in the comments here [yay, Wayback machine]) about the confusing nature of what Ginsberg said. My perspective, which still seems to me moderate and reasonable, was that the views in question are so disgusting that it was telling in and of itself that Ginsberg discussed them coolly without clarifying whether she shared them. Moreover, she continues to support government funding for poor women's abortions, to support it avidly, despite concerns that she herself brought up that this might lead to government coercion on poor women to have abortions. Her "argument" for laying that fear to rest was truly strange and appeared to consist in saying that, since the Supreme Court has decided that it is not a constitutional requirement for the government to pay for abortions, actual government funding for poor women's abortions cannot become coercive. How exactly the presence or absence of a constitutional rationale for providing the government funding is supposed to affect the coercive or non-coercive nature of government abortion funding Ginsberg did not say. It was an extremely illogical bit of legal and sociological reasoning, as I pointed out at the time.

But as to whether Ginsberg was identifying herself with the idea that poor women should be given ready access to abortion because they are the sort of people we don't want to have more of--well, she left herself some plausible deniability there.

Her most recent comment on the subject leaves much less wiggle room.

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September 23, 2014

Political accommodation on homosexual "marriage"?

What's Wrong With the World has a warm relationship going back for some years with Professor and blogger Hunter Baker. I always enjoy reading his musings at the back of the journal The City and have no desire to be hard on him.

I was, however, somewhat surprised to read in the most recent issue the following, from Baker's "Thoughts on the Age."

Given the rapid change in culture, Christians will have to sort out where they are on gay marriage....

Option One: Gay marriage is wrong both theologically and politically....Without male-female complementarity, politics would not even exist. No community without that complementarity would even have a future. Male-female marriage and childbearing are at the heart of politics.

Option Two:P Gay marriage is clearly wrong theologically. There is nowhere for the church to go on the issue. However, the aspirations of politics can be different than the aspirations of faith. One possibility would be to say that adults are free persons who have to make their own moral choices and those shouldn't be regulated when they don't directly interfere with the lives of others.

[Option three is that gay "marriage" can also be embraced theologically by Christians.]


I would suggest that faithful Christians can find themselves embracing either option one or option two, but that option three is not available to anyone with any reasonable concern for orthodoxy. pp. 88-89

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September 21, 2014

Two stories from the recent issue of Human Life Review

One of the only paper journals I subscribe to is the Human Life Review. (See here for another post on this journal.) I subscribe to the paper journal despite the fact that they do post much of their material on their web site. In fact, what I now do is to make brief notes about the articles I especially liked and to find and save the URLs; that way I don't have to keep the physical issues around long-term. However, receiving the physical issues reminds me to read the material and gives it to me in a form that is more comfortable to read, so it's a good deal. Plus the Human Life Foundation is a worthy organization to which to contribute.

In the spring 2014 issue, which I've just now gotten around to perusing, there were two stories that I thought readers of W4 might profit from hearing.

I say "profit from" rather than "enjoy," because the first is quite sad.

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September 19, 2014

Alcohol, public accommodation, and humane approaches to homelessness

September 17, 2014

New post up about Paley's Horae Paulinae

September 11, 2014

EDITORIAL: The Speech the President Should Have Given

September 5, 2014

The German euthanasia culture and our own

September 3, 2014

We will not recognize our danger