September 2014 Archives
September 1, 2014
The zero-sum game extends to "creedal discrimination"
This article in Christianity Today concerns my PhD alma mater, Vanderbilt University.
Tish Harrison Warren is a "priest" with the Anglican Church in North America and worked with InterVarsity at Vanderbilt University. From 2011 onward, Vanderbilt developed and eventually enforced a policy that no recognized student group on campus may have any creedal requirement for its leaders. It appears that the immediate trigger for this new policy was the putative ousting of an openly homosexual leader from one religious group.
Warren was shocked and assumed that something could be worked out for her own "moderate" group. After all, she says, her group isn't "homophobic" (whatever exactly she means by that word). Nor did they have any reference to sexual conduct in their requirements for leadership of their campus group. They did, however, require (for leadership roles, though not for membership) the affirmation of basic Christian doctrines such as the resurrection.
September 3, 2014
We will not recognize our danger
The Rotherham child abuse scandal has become news again after a report was recently released giving sordid details of extortion (against the girl victims and their families) and the complicity of police. How bad was it? It was so bad that fathers were arrested for going to homes where their daughters--one assumes, their minor daughters--were being abused and trying to get their daughters out. Meanwhile, the police ignored the appalling crimes of the rapists and traffickers out of fear of being thought racist.
One home office researcher into the horrific actions of these Muslims reports that she was told never again to refer to "Asian men" and that she was made to undergo a two-day diversity course as punishment for her politically incorrect findings.
September 5, 2014
The German euthanasia culture and our own
Via Wesley J. Smith comes a link to an important document that I had never read before. This is "Medical Science Under Dictatorship," published in 1949 by Dr. Leo Alexander. Alexander came to the U.S. from Austria in the early 1930's and later, in preparation for the Nuremberg trials, assisted the investigation of medical crimes committed by German doctors. While he was not a witness of what he reports, he was intimately involved in collecting and presenting evidence of the war crimes committed by doctors working under the Third Reich.
To say that Alexander's warnings are prescient and timely would scarcely be to say enough. Listen to this:
September 11, 2014
EDITORIAL: The Speech the President Should Have Given
Several weeks ago the President indiscreetly admitted the absence of an American strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Such candor is as unwise as it is genuine. The want of a strategy arises out of a want of understanding. Thirteen years ago, when Jihadist infiltrators brought mayhem and incineration to Lower Manhattan, a want of understanding was to be expected. Its persistence today suggests a closing of the American mind to uncomfortable facts which finds its epitome in the President himself.
Now having been constrained by events and by the omnipresence of domestic political reality, the President, as of this writing, is set to deliver a speech detailing the limits of what we may expect of him respecting his engagement with these uncomfortable facts. It is our conceit that a chastened Mr. Obama, having shaken free of the shackles of his own specially acute case epistemic closure, has instead sought out from the body of the nation advice for the defeat of the Jihad, and delivered the following address.
September 17, 2014
New post up about Paley's Horae Paulinae
I have written before here at What's Wrong With the World about William Paley's Horae Paulinae. Now I have a new post up about the intersection of Acts and the Pauline epistles concerning Aquila and Priscilla. Exciting stuff for those of us interested in the evidences of Christianity. Feel free to comment either here or at Extra Thoughts.
September 19, 2014
Alcohol, public accommodation, and humane approaches to homelessness
This video was recently drawn to my attention, and frankly, I don't think much of it. It's a blatant, emotionally manipulative gimmick, and as one friend pointed out, looking intently at every homeless person you pass is not a good rule for urban survival. A politically incorrect point, but a true one. The idea seems to be to shame ordinary people for going about their lives as if their failure to DO SOMETHING (unspecified) about all the homeless people they see is the cause of homelessness.
And, no, the analogy to the parable of the Good Samaritan is exceedingly poor. The Good Samaritan had reason to believe that he could give immediate, effective help and succor to the victim, or at least see that the body got decent burial (if the person were dead). Just stopping whatever you are doing and trying to do something-or-other to help the homeless is a far more complex proposition.
Then there's the small problem of familial betrayal to shaming and ridicule. Am I the only person who thinks that a wife who sets up her husband to be shamed as heartless for failing to recognize her in disguise is doing something despicable? Of course I would say the same about a husband who did that to his wife, but in this case it happened to be a wife doing it to a husband.
All of that is merely by way of introduction.
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.
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
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.
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: