What’s Wrong with the World

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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

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August 2017 Archives

August 4, 2017

I'm Sorry

What do you mean when you say “I’m sorry”? Or offer an apology?

Under what conditions do you tend to say “I’m sorry” in offering an apology or otherwise?

What feelings are present in you when you say it?

Most of us have a pretty good feel for what it means and what we are doing when we use it, in broad terms. When you get down to cases, though, there could be some confusion about it. Actually, a fair amount.

Generally, you intend to convey some kind of regret. You wish something were otherwise. But in some cases, you are going further than regret about a state of affairs, it is regret about your own behavior that is at issue. And, to be still more specific, sometimes it is regret at having done something morally wrong: i.e. remorse for your morally culpable action that is responsible for that regrettable “state of affairs”.

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August 8, 2017

The Preamble

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All children in America ought to practice, for eventual memory recital, the Preamble to the United States Constitution.

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for a common Defence, promote the General Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America."

Now, while quite a mouthful, that sentence stands as a true wonder of declarative English. It demonstrates conclusively that persuasive writing consists largely in the quality of the verbs. Avoid wimpy passive-voice being verbs and substitute strong active verbs -- form, establish, insure, provide, promote, secure -- and you're well on your way to good English prose. Sure, you could cut that one into three sentences instead of one, but we’re still a work in progress.

The verb “ordain” evidences something singular because it introduces the elevated framework. Instead of a cleric or a church, we ordain a civil way of life, purposed toward these good things: unity, justice, peace, welfare, liberty. These things are good for all mankind. But no one guarantees them. They are fleeting and inconclusive. Thus the humility undergirding the whole sentence: nothing presented is foreordained. We must ordain it, with our own lives and decisions.

That’s our inheritance as Americans. “In order to” but no promises.

August 9, 2017

Review of Easter Enigma by John Wenham

I've been recently enjoying reading (partially re-reading) Easter Enigma by the late Anglican New Testament scholar John Wenham (1913-1996).

Easter Enigma is Wenham's conjectural harmonization of the four gospels' Easter accounts, taking each at face value and trying to make a plausible picture that fits them all together. In some cases Wenham even "handicaps" himself--for example, by treating the long ending of Mark as authentic and requiring his version to explain it.

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August 13, 2017

Cowards, the Lot of Them

Who, you may ask, are The Cowards?

I would counter with a question in return: who isn’t?

Well, perhaps that’s not entirely fair. Not everyone. But the tendency is there, we all feel the pressure. Many give in, generally without even realizing it.

I would not say that the besetting sin of our modern / post-modern western culture is cowardice. More than likely, lust is the leading candidate. But not just sexual lust, although that’s the most obvious form of it: All of the lusts of the sensual appetites, including for food and drink and physical pleasure and physical satisfactions.

Yet this overarching evil allows cowardice to be a major player in the vices anyway, because cowardice is a concomitant vice in those given over to the vices of pleasures of the body: the softness of the life of lust encourages the cowardice of shying away from _anything_ physically difficult, including exercise, getting out of bed or off the couch, refraining from eating that last cookie, etc.

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August 18, 2017

People are free, not driven

Long-time readers of W4 know that I don't much like Russell Moore as a thinker and writer. In fact, he often (though not always) annoys me. I dislike his repeated flirting with liberal memes, his sneering hatred of the religious right, and his eyeroll-worthy breast-beating about all the supposed evil of conservative Christians' past. Here and here are two of my older posts on Moore, and here is my comment on his condemnation of Judge Roy Moore's stance on homosexual "marriage." I'm also not pleased by his knee-jerk denunciation of all so-called "reparative therapy" for homosexual inclinations.

In fact, over my time here at W4 I've been a bit of a watchdog on evangelicals' slide to the left. So you might think I'd be loudly cheering this post, which states that the reason some evangelicals are turning to the alt-right is because people like Moore are so lefty-lite.

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August 22, 2017

The Great American Eclipse

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The trouble with a total eclipse in North Georgia is that it attracts Atlanta traffic. US 23 figures as a fine road to the Appalachians; we’ve taken it to Tallulah Gorge for hikes without a hint of delay; but add every third Atlantan with an interest in astronomy and you’ve got yourself a mess.

I drove up from Atlanta to get inside the celebrated “path of totality”: in essence, the streak of moon shadow — actual interposition of the moon between us and the sun — which moved so fast it crossed from northern Oregon to Charleston, SC in less than 90 minutes. Probably it was the most impressive shadow to darken in the North American continent in my lifetime: To me, it was worth fighting the traffic.

Having packed a sandwich, water, chips, eclipse glasses, and a large peach (ironically, it came from California, not Georgia, the latter’s winter having been so mild it failed sufficiently to diminish the population of parasitic insects, thus depreciating the peach crop this year), I took to I-85 at about 9:30am and made the hour-and-45-minute drive in four hours. Some of that time was dedicated to a problem I had not anticipated: Round about Cornelia, GA, I pulled over for a quick stop. (Mind you: I had gassed up the vehicle before departure and therefore faced no worries under that head, but there remained the inevitable call of nature.)

I don’t know if you’re ever entered a rural gas station with simple natural plans in mind, only to discover that the line for the restroom exceeds 20 minutes, snaking around through the rows of junk food like a sweaty, overfed human serpent. Well, without wasting too much time on description of feelings, I can record that it is a bit of a letdown. Or maybe a thwarted letdown. Call it what you will.

In due time I pushed on. On the north side of Tallulah Gorge, folks commenced to stable their motorcars at the nearest green space, so I did the same. The crowd was diverse: Families, young folks, old folks, college kids, two local school buses letting out a crew of chattering children. A kindly middle-aged black man warned me off from the red ant pile near my car. A car with Colorado plates honked fraternally at my Coors (brewed in Golden, CO) tee shirt.

With 30 minutes to spare until totality, I walked past the state park ranger station and had a look around. There was a certain awkwardness: why the hell are we all just standing around, looking up at the hot sun? The occasional moment of skepticism creeps into the mind: what if nothing happens? Did the scientists measure precise celestial motion correctly? What if NASA miscalculated? Are we quite sure we haven’t all been taken for suckers?

And then, right in the middle of the Southern August heat and humidity, at the height of the day’s sun, a noticeable drop in temperature. A girl off to my left announced it: “Hey, do you feel that? It just got cooler, Mom!” And she was right.

Presently I became aware of the weirdness of the shadows. They didn’t seem quite right. The edges should have been crisp and stark, but instead evidenced a strange fuzziness. Indeed, the light in general gave the impression of the kind of haziness I associate with that post-thunderstorm soft glow you get when the sun returns after heavy rain. Crickets and cicadas cut loose with their evening noise.

Those specialized sunglasses they give you have an odd effect: Sure, they allow you to see the gradual eclipse of the sun, by staring safely straight at it; but they prevent you from taking a full glimpse of the world around you. So you find yourself hurried by events. “Holy moly, look at the sliver of the sun!” someone exclaims — and for good reason, for with the aid of those glasses the sun is receding rapidly from view. But then, right next to you: “Dad, the light seems so weird!” This is absolutely true: look back down to earth, remove the glasses, and glance around. The weird decaying light, now joined by a crackling energy, was approaching something like twilight. I noticed a few newer model cars with automatic headlights lit up. The thought stole into my mind that probably some poor soul, going about his business down there on US 23, somehow oblivious to the astronomical events and infuriated by the inexplicable traffic, suddenly found himself facing more terrifying mysteries: the sudden approach of evening six hours early.

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“Mom, look, you don’t need the glasses anymore!”

Truer words have never been uttered. A pulsating shimmer crossed the world. It took our breath away. Hearty cheers for the darkness from crowds down by the highway. What in prior times would have inspired inexpressible terror and revulsion now drew applause and a joyful sound.

For around two minutes, we’re all spellbound by the magic of the heavenly bodies. Every visible horizon suggests a magnificent imminent sunset — or sunrise. Venus and (I think) Jupiter sparkle, clearly visible at midday. But the sun itself hangs black in the sky: deep, astounding black; the absence of light where it should always be. Those very planets are visible precisely because the sunlight they reflect is blocked from us by the moon.

Then the sunlight returns, a sudden shaft of brilliance: the diamond on the ring of the corona. Twilight has given way to mid-morning, and within minutes to something very close to full sun. A mere fraction of the sun’s light is more than adequate to light the world.

As we amble back to our cars, the earlier awkwardness has been replaced by comradery. “That was so cool.” “Just awesome.” “Really amazing.” “What an experience that was.” Strangers exchanging feeble superlatives, wholly inadequate to the task of description; but if language fails, hearts are full, and even the prospect of more hours fighting traffic to get home does not discourage us.

[All photos courtesy NASA]

August 23, 2017

Pray for Nabeel

I've been very burdened lately for Nabeel Qureshi, who is in the last stages of stomach cancer. Nabeel is (as readers may know) a missionary to Muslims. He and David Wood were arrested some years ago in Dearborn while peacefully and legally chatting with a Muslim group. I blogged a lot about that at the time. See a couple of the posts here and here. They subsequently won a lawsuit against the city, as the arrest was manifestly illegal. Nabeel, a former Muslim, has had a fruitful ministry bringing Muslims to know Jesus Christ as Savior.

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August 29, 2017

Worldviews aren't modular

Via Rod Dreher comes this story of parents whose kindergartener was taught that boys can turn into girls. This was taught not only without the parents' knowledge or consent, but against their express wishes.

The principal (who, I can't help noting, is a woman) told the parents that there had been some misunderstanding when the parents thought the school had agreed not to discuss such topics without allowing an opt-out. She (the principal) said the parents would be allowed to opt out of sex education proper but not out of transgender propaganda.

I want to give a slightly contrary perspective here to the reaction that many conservatives may have. Sure, take it as read: The principal is a leftist ideologue, and so is the teacher. Yes, it was totally unnecessary for the teacher to read a transgender propaganda book and have a little show-and-tell with a "transgender" classmate changing into girlie clothes. Yes, they are pushing this deliberately and beyond what was just coming up on its own, even with a "transgender" kid in the class.

However: It was always folly to send your child to a secular school and just tell the teachers to let your child opt out of certain topics. Schools teach a worldview. What is important to the educators will be woven into the atmosphere and the curriculum of the school at multiple points. It won't be modular.

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