What’s Wrong with the World

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

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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

November 25, 2014

"Doing Something" in Ferguson, MO

As usual, Andrew McCarthy provides an erudite and level-headed response to the current goings-on in Ferguson, MO. One of the more dispiriting indications of just how far the Progressivist rot has gone is the eagerness of so many to throw aside basic civic traditions and Constitutional strictures in the name of "just doing something." Just doing something supersedes such trifling concerns as law, custom, tradition, and the basic integrity of our republican form of government. (The many unprincipled defenses of the President's recent usurpation of Congressional law-making authority are another recent case in point.) Much the same sentiments were advanced during the trial of George Zimmerman, with the ever-loathsome Michael Savage, no friend of the anti-Zimmerman lynch mob, seriously demanding on air that the mob be given "something" for their trouble, perhaps a mere manslaughter conviction.

Continue reading ""Doing Something" in Ferguson, MO" »

November 18, 2014

He who pays the piper, Chapter #3,459,621

A Swiss canton has passed a regulation that all nursing homes in its jurisdiction that accept government funding must cooperate with assisted suicide. The nursing homes must set aside a death room where suicide assisters from the ghoulish organization Exit will kill people. If anyone from the home tries to stop these assisted suicides, the patient who wants to die can complain.

Here are the rigorous (!) regulations:

The law establishes some conditions for such procedures. The disease or condition must be serious and incurable and other end-of-life options must be discussed.

Notice, if this were relevant, that "serious and incurable" doesn't even mean "fatal," much less that the person is presently dying. Not that it would be right deliberately to kill the person if he were presently dying, either, but one just gets so tired of the dishonest claims of strict regulations and restrictions after a while.

Notice, too, that there is no mention of guarding people with dementia from "choosing" this option without full understanding or under pressure. Nor is this point merely theoretical. Suicide is not illegal for dementia patients in Switzerland.

Continue reading "He who pays the piper, Chapter #3,459,621" »

November 17, 2014

What evidentialism is not

I often identify myself as an evidentialist in the realm of religious knowledge. I find, however, that there are some misconceptions floating about as to what evidentialism is or entails. Herewith, some hopefully useful clarifications.

1) Evidentialism is not the position that emotions are only for people who are stupid.

Evidentialism should not be confused with a Spock-like philosophy that feelings and emotions are to be scorned and avoided. Rather, our personal relationship with Jesus Christ should be based on facts and evidence. We can trust Jesus because we have reason to do so. This gives us the freedom to commit ourselves emotionally and psychologically to God.

The problem arises when one bases one's beliefs upon one's emotions. That ordering leaves one vulnerable to emotional and other arational appeals from other religions. It also leaves one vulnerable to losing one's faith when the emotions are no longer there. Get it in the right order, and then connect the prose and the passion. That's what Christianity is all about.

An analogy from marriage may help: We can rightly be vulnerable with our spouses because we have good reason to trust our spouses. Vulnerability and emotion are very important in a good marriage. It would, on the other hand, be extremely foolish to "gin up" trust in a spouse or prospective spouse by making oneself vulnerable and thereby prompting emotions of total commitment that have no rational basis.

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November 13, 2014

Don't "settle"

I have a rather lengthy post at my personal blog in which I critique this article by Mark Regnerus.

Due to the nature of the material, comments are closed here; please do comment on the post at Extra Thoughts if you should feel so moved. I usually approve very quickly, and, as readers of that blog know, I almost always approve even critical comments. My concern is not with evading criticism of my own work but with keeping things from getting graphic. Remember, too, that it is impossible even for the blog owner to edit comments at a Google blog. It's all or nothing--publish or don't publish.

I understand from interactions I have had elsewhere that Prof. Regnerus has loyal friends. That's great, and I am entirely prepared to believe that he is a wonderful person in every way. However, special pleading simply will not do when it comes to content, and in my opinion, what he has written is open to important criticism, which is why I've bothered to criticize it.

November 10, 2014

Poland has a judge problem

Poland has a judge problem. Although abortion is much more restricted in Poland than it is in the U.S., a Polish judge has ordered pro-life protesters to stop saying that abortion is killing. But it gets worse. The judge has dictated language to the pro-lifers (or at least to one of the pro-lifers, Jacek Kotula) for an apology to the hospital at which they were protesting. She (the judge) tells Kotula that he must say the following:

[By] organizing pickets and manifestations in defense of unborn children, I was spreading false information about the work of the hospital Pro-Familia in Rzeszow. In particular, I was spreading information that the babies in this hospital were being killed.

Continue reading "Poland has a judge problem" »

November 7, 2014

Alan Jacobs is Confused About the Demands of Charity

If you don’t regularly read anything by the writer Alan Jacobs, you should correct that deficiency in your life by checking out his “Tumblr” (which is like a blog) here. He is a smart, generally orthodox Christian writer, who was an English professor at Wheaton College for many years and recently was hired at Baylor. He has written many books, although the only one I read was Original Sin: A Cultural History, which I found to be informative and lively throughout. In other words, if I could write half as well as Professor Jacobs, I would be a happy man.

Continue reading "Alan Jacobs is Confused About the Demands of Charity" »

November 3, 2014

Coalition Politics Revisited

It is no longer true that a coalition of orthodox or bible-believing Christians can form a governing majority in America. It may have been true within living memory, and it may well still be true within certain states, but the idea of a national coalition of Christians gaining and exercising, through representative institutions, the decisive governing authority in the Republic, is now an illusion fit only for illusionists and their audience, most of whom are the enemies of Christianity.

Necessity, therefore, compels orthodox Christians to seek out active political alliances with Americans outside the faith. A political rhetoric which finds its purpose in civic persuasion short of conversion, cannot be inherently disreputable for Christians, unless all action toward the common good short of conversion is disreputable.

It is of course true that conversion to the Creed of the Cross is part of the common good of all mankind; but it is not true that by declining to embrace that Creed, a man ceases to have a common good, which is set before him in such a way as to be intelligible.

According to these postulates, I judge it impossible, as a matter of right reason, for Christians to leave off the work of persuading non-Christians to join their political efforts toward the common good. Reasoning rightly, a follower of Christ cannot endorse political quietism or withdrawal from politics. He must join with the rest of America in the rough and tumble of coalition politics in a federal republic.

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November 1, 2014

Unexplained allusions: The sons of thunder

I have written in various places, as has my husband, Tim, about the argument for the historicity of the gospels and Acts from undesigned coincidences. I won't try to link all of those posts, but you can start here, here, and here. (One of these has links to a series Tim did on the subject.)

A related but slightly different line of evidence is the argument from unexplained allusions.

As it happens, one half of many an undesigned coincidence is an (otherwise) unexplained allusion. For example, Luke tells us that Pilate, prompted by the Jewish leaders' charge of sedition against Jesus, asks Jesus if he is a king. Jesus confirms that he is, and Pilate, surprisingly, returns and tells the crowd, "I find no fault in him." This is an unexplained turn of events which apparently alludes to some part of their conversation not recorded in Luke. And indeed, we find in John that Jesus says more, telling Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world" and assuring Pilate that his disciples are not going to fight to deliver him. The extra information in John explains what is unexplained in Luke: Why did Pilate say that he found no fault in Jesus after Jesus had apparently confirmed the charge that he was setting himself up as a king? The two passages fit together like two pieces of a puzzle to give us a realistic picture of a portion of Jesus' trial. Each one is written in exactly the casual way one would expect to find from a witness (in Luke's case, whatever witness was his source) who does not stop to explain every bit of his story but merely tells events as they now come back to him.

Sometimes, we find an unexplained allusion for which we never get an explanation. This, too, is evidence for the historicity of the text. In Mark (and only in Mark), we find the following, in a list of Jesus' twelve disciples:

And Simon he surnamed Peter; And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder. (Mark 3:16-17)

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October 29, 2014

Was a patient declared brain dead ten years ago while breathing independently?

In the most recent Human Life Review a piece is reprinted from the HLR blog called "Coming to Peace with Brain Death." The title notwithstanding, the post actually indicates that the author, journalist Nona Aguilar, is far from being at peace with brain death.

She tells the story of her friend Richard, for whom she had medical power of attorney. Aguilar says that ten years ago her friend had a stroke. She was then strongly pressured by the hospital to agree to having his heart taken for transplant. The hospital told her that he was brain dead.

Continue reading "Was a patient declared brain dead ten years ago while breathing independently?" »

October 27, 2014

Update on Coeur D'Alene wedding chapel

An update on this story. It appears that the city of Coeur D'Alene has backed down. Eugene Volokh has details here. The city attorney has decided that even being for-profit does not subject the Knapps to the non-discrimination ordinance.

But I want to back up for a minute to the "tempest in a teacup" claims and the "misrepresentation" claims. As recently as October 20, in an attempt to quell the alarm about the Knapps' business, the city actually implicitly affirmed that any for-profit wedding performance business is subject to the ordinance! The city attorney wrote a letter implying that the Knapps' alarm was unjustified since they are a religious corporation, but he apparently assumed that, if the Knapps' business is religious, it is also non-profit. (Shouldn't a city attorney trying to quell alarm do somewhat better research of the facts on the ground?)

Moreover, I see in Volokh's reporting, a complaint was brought against the Knapps for their "discrimination," just as they feared it would be, and the police did make contact with them about the complaint! So the phone call requesting same-sex "marriage" services was indeed followed by a complaint against them. Everything was proceeding on oiled wheels to try to get them charged with discrimination. Just precisely as they thought. I note that this was the point on which critics were implying that conservatives were overreacting--whether there was any actual threat of prosecution.

Now, it appears that the city attorney is stating that they cannot be prosecuted after all because their business is a "religious corporation," regardless of whether it is for profit or not.

So all's well that ends well? Well, if you happen to be running a registered "religious corporation" that performs only religious services, and hopefully if you are a minister performing weddings in your own church, even for a fee. If you're just a baker or a florist, not so much, as we all know.

But even as regards "religious corporations," let's be clear: All would not have ended well if the pro-active route had not been taken. Let's hope that the facts are not lost here: Events were proceeding toward a prosecution of the Knapps for violating the non-discrimination ordinance. Public pressure and a lawsuit forced the city to...er...research the matter and to decide that they should not prosecute. The best defense is still a good offense.

October 25, 2014

Of public school teachers and purple penguins--the zero-sum game continues

I have been saying for a long time that the coercive GLBTQR)(*& agenda reaches a new level in interactions with transsexuals. The whole idea, which I believe some Christians have cherished, of saying, "We don't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation alone" and then being left to get on quietly with whatever worthwhile thing you want to be doing is brought smack up against the reality that the "T" in the alphabet soup concerns someone else's bizarre public behavior. You are required to play along with that behavior.

I have also brought up the issue of teachers at public schools in conversations with people who have an (utterly unrealistic) idea of repealing non-discrimination laws (which will never happen anyway) and then recognizing "same-sex marriage" in a more libertarian legal context. What about teachers at public schools? Would they, even in that unreal libertarian landscape, face coercion to go along with a homosexual agenda? I think the answer is pretty obvious.

In the recent purple penguins brouhaha in Lincoln, Nebraska (of all places), we see those two points coming together.

Continue reading "Of public school teachers and purple penguins--the zero-sum game continues" »

October 23, 2014

Another day, another jihad attack

Sometimes I wonder why I do not, here at W4, more meticulously record the various jihad terrorist attacks in the West. I missed one last week. Maybe one just gets bored, because the pattern is so repetitive. Maybe I'm also bored at the prospect of possibly having to argue again with liberal readers that, yes, it is about Islam. Yes, this is a pattern. Yes, the religion is the problem.

Before I try to say something a little more interesting about Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's murderous rampage in Ottawa than, "Ho-hum, another day, another Muslim terrorist attack in the West," let me just mention a few statistical points to bear in mind at all times when the Usual Suspects say the Usual Things:

--From "Not all Muslims are terrorists" it does not follow that "Not all terrorists are Muslims." Not, mind you, that I am saying that all terrorists are Muslims, especially throughout history. But even if they were, that would still be consistent with, "Not all Muslims are terrorists." What is true is that right now a disproportionate percentage of people carrying out terrorist attacks in the Western world are Muslims.

--Related: From "Most Muslims are not terrorists" we cannot infer that it is not the case that Muslims are terrorists in numbers vastly disproportionate to their representation in the population.

--From "Most Muslims are not terrorists" we cannot infer that it is not the case that a disturbingly high proportion of Muslims in the West have terrorist sympathies. See this survey, for example.

--From "Most Muslims are not terrorists" we cannot infer that a disturbingly high proportion of Muslims do not support sharia, which is not the same thing as terrorism. This survey, again, is relevant.

Continue reading "Another day, another jihad attack" »

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.

Continue reading "A Tale of Two Cities" »

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

October 14, 2014

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

October 12, 2014

Disgusting Behavior & Double Standards

October 10, 2014

Disturbing expert closed-mindedness on Jahi McMath case

October 9, 2014

Anglican wussery on abortion