April 2017 Archives
April 3, 2017
Relentless Strike by Sean Naylor
At 10:30 P.M. on November 13,  the silence of another moonless Afghan night was disturbed by the thrumming of a single [MC-130] Combat Talon’s four turboprops 800 feet above the desert about fifty miles southwest of Kandahar. From the plane tumbled forty dark shapes that floated to earth in a matter of seconds after parachute canopies blossomed above them, barely visible against the night sky.
The parachutes belonged to thirty –two [US Army] Rangers from 3rd Battalion’s B Company and an eight-man [US Air Force] 24th STS [Special Tactics Squadron] element. Their mission was to seize a desert landing strip named Bastogne and prepare it to receive two Combat Talons, each loaded with a pair AH-6 Little Bird gunships, a mobile forward arming and refueling point, and the pilots and other personnel to man them. The Little Birds were then to fly off to attack preplanned targets. Bastogne was the Rangers’ second combat parachute assault of the war, but unlike the seizure of Objective Rhino, this mission was most certainly not a propaganda exercise. There would be no Pentagon press briefing about it, ever. Rather, the Bastogne mission was the latest step in a campaign of deception and destruction Task Force Sword had decided to wage across southern Afghanistan.
The details of that campaign would remain secret for years, but even the broad brushstrokes had not been imagined when, with the Gecko and Rhino raids finally out of the way, the staff on Masirah [an island southeast of Oman, memorable to American special operators because it was a staging base for the failed Eagle Claw mission to rescue Americans at the embassy in Iran in 1980] pondered Sword’s next move. There was no long-term plan. Everything was seat-of-the-pants decision. “After we did this first mission, we went, ‘All right, what are we going to do now?’” said the retired special ops officer.
April 4, 2017
Rod Dreher just posted an interesting and long excerpt from an article about one of his favorite go to analysts of our cultural moment, Philip Rieff:
Rieff evinces more concern about the “triumph of the therapeutic” in his famous book of that name published in 1966. That work opens with the text of Yeats’s “Second Coming”—a sure sign that what follows will not be painted in the sunny colors of American progressivism. Rieff now worried that, though Christian culture had been all but entirely shattered, nothing had succeeded it; there were therefore no extant authoritative institutions whose demands and remissions (the culturally regulated relaxation of those demands) could be internalized, thereby acting to “bind and loose men in the conduct of their affairs.” This failure of succession was no accident but rather the explicit program of the “modern cultural revolution,” which was deliberately being undertaken “not in the name of any new order of communal purpose” but for the “permanent disestablishment of any deeply internalized moral demands.”
April 12, 2017
Making the Inklings talk to the future--On Death
In C.S. Lewis's introduction to Athanasius's "On the Incarnation," he has this to say about reading books from other time periods.
Nothing strikes me more when I read the controversies of past ages than the fact that both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now absolutely deny. They thought that they were as completely opposed as two sides could be, but in fact they were all the time secretly united – united with each other and against earlier and later ages – by a great mass of common assumptions. We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century – the blindness about which posterity will ask, “But how could they have thought that?” – lies where we have never suspected it, and concerns something about which there is untroubled agreement between Hitler and President Roosevelt or between Mr. H. G. Wells and Karl Barth. None of us can fully escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books. Where they are true they will give us truths which we half knew already. Where they are false they will aggravate the error with which we are already dangerously ill. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them.
April 15, 2017
The Empty Tomb
Few things are more humbling than to properly place ourselves in the story of the Passion of Christ. We are among the disciples who fled after the arrest at Gethsemane. We are with Peter in the courtyard, denying our Lord. We are in the crowd, calling out, “Give us Barabbas!” We are cynically washing our hands, like Pilate. We are twisting together the crown of thorns and mocking him. We are casting lots for his garments.
Out of such humility, however, there emerges an essential truth: We could never do this for ourselves. We have no power to restore a right relationship with the holy and righteous Lord God.
We need the Cross. It is why, despite the horror of an innocent man, who was also God, betrayed, mocked, scorned, spit upon, beaten, executed, we can still call the Friday just past Good. Always it will be a solemn day, and yet a good day.
But we also need the Empty Tomb.
What extraordinary irony in that phrase! In a sense, and with apologies to grammarians, nothing was less empty than that empty tomb.
The celebration on Easter morning presents countless aspects for contemplation and rejoicing. It abounds with meaning. I’ll mention one aspect.
The Resurrection demonstrates conclusively that the sacrifice was acceptable. “It is finished,” He said. And the Risen Lord is certain proof of his Lordship, his conquest of sin and death. They are vanquished.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Hallelujah! He is risen.
April 18, 2017
Metaxas and Brierley interviews
Just a couple of interview links for those who like to listen to things.
My interview with Eric Metaxas became available this past week, and you can hear it here. It's about forty minutes long.
A much shorter interview with British talk-show host Justin Brierley, almost entirely on Acts, was tacked onto the end of a show here, starting about 1 hr., 9 1/2 minutes.
I'm also pleased to announce that a Kindle version of Hidden in Plain View is "in the works." I don't have a release date for it but hope it will be out within a couple of months. Of course, don't let that stop you from buying the physical version if you are so inclined! A joyous on-going Easter season to everyone!
April 19, 2017
Ten Years of What's Wrong with the World
Ten years ago, when I was a much younger man, What’s Wrong with the World appealed to me as an editor because it was ecumenical. That is to say, we all agreed on the core doctrines of Christianity (let us say, for simplicity, the Apostles Creed) while preserving without apology our differences in detail. Meanwhile, the keystone of our firm unity lay in our opposition: to the liberal spirit of the age, which among other outrages exposes our most vulnerable people to extra-legal execution, and denies the clear facts of mammalian biology; and to the marching might of the Islamic religion, with its endorsement of assassination, treachery and terror in the service of God.
Of those ten years it is difficult to compose a summary. Things have changed.
Is This Conservatism?
Although the contributors here are by and large conservative, this site is not simply about conservatism, it is fundamentally about Christ Jesus. We profess Christ Jesus, and Him crucified. It is to Him that we commit ourselves without qualification, not to conservatism.
Still, we are more conservative than not. In this regard we perceive that conservatism bears a notable and vital relationship to our carrying out fully and wholly the Christian calling to embrace the Truth and live it in true freedom (i.e. freedom in the sense of John 8:32).
“Conservative” has taken on so many meanings to so many people that in usage it has begun to bear no more than a vague direction of an idea. However, not so long ago it did have a more determinate meaning, and it is still fair and honest to demand respect for that meaning as still recognizable, and demand recognition of the word as still capable of carrying that earlier meaning more truly than other meanings. I aim to set forth, again, what that is.
April 22, 2017
An International Day of Celebration
Today is April 22, 2017. Do you know what that means, in human terms?
Everyone should know what today is, because today, in a special way, we entertain a vision of a better future for everyone.
It is, in fact, an inevitable future.
April 26, 2017
Anniversary Post--Conservatism Without Craziness
When we authors at W4 started thinking about the tenth anniversary of the blog, various suggestions were made as to who might write what. The idea was mooted that perhaps my contribution to our anniversary series might be a post on what is worse about the world now than when the blog started--an assignment in keeping with my gloomy bent and reputation.
Of course there are many possible answers. The homosexual and transsexual agendas have advanced with a speed I never would have predicted ten years ago. Things have gotten to such a pass that a man, now living in Hawaii, has sued the state of Idaho (in federal court) for refusing to let him change his designation on his birth certificate to female, because he identifies himself as a woman. Would that one could laugh this off as a frivolous suit with no possibility of success, but one certainly can’t be sure of that anymore.
But what seems to me perhaps the saddest change in the last ten years is the further fragmentation of conservatism in that time period.