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

The denial of reality must be totalitarian

I was recently asked in an interview, "What's Wrong With the World?" based upon the name of this blog. I answered that the denial of reality is what's wrong with the world. One could argue that the root of all sin is the denial of reality of some kind or other.

The serpent says to the woman, "Thou shalt not surely die." The woman decides that eating the fruit is good for her and desirable to make one wise, so she does.

In our own day, the very ones who talk of Christianity as "anti-science" deny the humanity of the unborn child in order to kill him. And they order us to say that a man is a woman and that a woman is a man. And they silence any dissent.

The denial of fundamental and obvious reality must be totalitarian, for if it is not, someone brave child will come along and say the obvious. Little whispers of truth will get out. And we can't have that.

Canada has not had free speech for a long time, but the latest outrage on this front is so striking that it gets the attention even of those jaded by such things. Bill Whatcott in Canada has been fined $55k for passing out flyers referring to a male political candidate as a male. It hurt "her" feelings, you see. And the tribunal said that truth is no defense. He refused to refer to the man as "she" during his kangaroo trial, which is part of what racked up the fines. He's been ordered to pay interest in the meanwhile until he gets together enough money to pay the fines. He says he's going to keep speaking out and that he isn't going to pay the fines. Whatcott has guts.

Yes, yes, I know, America has a First Amendment and all that, so it couldn't happen here, right? Well, maybe not for a while in that precise form. But New York City already imposes ruinous fines upon businesses if their employees "misgender" customers or other employees. Read Eugene Volokh (not a Christian activist!) on that here.

Anyone who wants to say, "Move along, nothing to see here" to that can try to say that it isn't contrary to the First Amendment. But if so, then what becomes of the reassurance that people in the U.S. cannot be affirmatively forced by the government to call a man a woman because of the First Amendment? Looks like they can. So much for, "Nothing to see here." The only difference from Bill Whatcott's situation then is the distinction between a business context and the speech of a private individual qua individual. I'm sure that every normal person who wants to run a business feels so much better: As far as things have gone now, they can be drafted into coerced speech that denies reality only while speaking in their business capacity. Yay.

It is undeniable that at this point deliberately calling someone by the "wrong" pronouns can get you fired, even in the U.S. And in New York City, it can get you fined. Going out there and proclaiming the truth about a mentally disturbed individual can get you ruinously fined in Canada. I don't blame anyone who doesn't do what Bill Whatcott has done; we aren't all called to be pro-active martyrs for the truth. But he is the canary in the coal mine. Truth-telling is being criminalized, even such obvious, scientific truth-telling as that a man cannot turn into a woman. This isn't a matter of obscure theology or subjective personal feelings.

And at a minimum, everyone who knows the truth should be on the side of Whatcott in this matter. Let us hear no nonsense about "being insensitive" or "being unkind" or even "going out of one's way to be offensive." It is insane that there should be anything offensive about this. Let us not say that someone is a jerk or mean or wrong-headed for putting out pamphlets saying that a man is a man. You may think that Whatcott was imprudent because he needs to support his family. But quite frankly, at this point even saying that needs to be strongly qualified by sheer outrage that anyone should have to think about such prudential considerations merely for saying that a male is a male.

We need to recognize that heartening and encouraging other sane people to stand up to insanity is an important function in and of itself now. Too often, Christians think entirely in terms of reaching out and being "missional" towards gender-confused individuals and homosexuals. They don't think about the fact that it is not loving to encourage people in their denial of reality. And they don't think about the fact that everybody is going to get confused about reality if we don't stand firm. Hence, it is loving to everybody to encourage one another not to give in on the truth.

Readers of W4 may wonder why I seldom post on social topics here these days. One reason is that I'm writing books on New Testament studies. Another reason is that things are so crazy that it's hard to know where to start and what to say. If one misses a short time window to post on one crazy thing, another comes along. Oh, by the way, here was one I missed posting on just a month ago. A court in Canada has said that parents who oppose their daughter's transgender identity and refer to her by female pronouns will be deemed to be committing "violence" against her. The parents' moment-to-moment interactions with their troubled child, on a matter that will likely have permanent, damaging repercussions for her, are thus being micromanaged by a court. This is evil.

Anyway, I do put up brief posts on these kinds of topics on Facebook rather than blogging them. This is partly because it's so much faster. No need to log in, format, try to make the post be a certain length, etc. Most of my public posts on FB are on New Testament topics as here, but I also share links about important social issues. So feel free to follow my public content there. I keep my FB "friend" acceptances very limited, but if you are a long-time on-line friend and "friend" request me, I'll almost certainly accept it.

There is a war on reality. The culture war is real, and it's for keeps. Souls and bodies are at stake. Let us encourage one another to speak the truth and never to cooperate with pernicious lies and legal fictions.

Yesterday I ran across a quotation from Charles Haddon Spurgeon and will close with it. Just imagine if someone were to preach this today. Notice that Spurgeon regards frank preaching upon hell as a loving service to the lost.

Well, sirs, if I never address you again, there is one favor that I would crave of you. If you will not turn to God, if you are determined to be lost, if you will not hear my rebuke nor turn at my exhortation, I ask this one favor at least let me know, and let me have this confidence, that I am clear of your blood. I think you must confess this. I have not shunned to preach of hell with all its horrors, until I have been laughed at, as if I always preached upon it. I have not shunned to preach upon the most sweet and pleasing themes of the gospel, till I have feared lest I should make my preaching effeminate, instead of retaining the masculine vigor of a Boanerges. I have not shunned to preach the law; that great commandment has wrung in your ears, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." I have never feared the great, nor have I courted their smile; I have rebuked nobility as I would rebuke the peasantry, and to everyone of you I have dealt a portion of meat in due season. I know that this much can be said of me-"Here stands one that never feared the face of man yet;" and I hope never wilt. Amidst contumely, and rebuke, and reproach, I have sought to be faithful to you and to my God. If then, you will be damned, let me have this one thing as a consolation for your misery, when I shall think of so frightful a thought-that you are not damned for the want of calling after; you are not lost for the want of weeping after, and not lost, let me add, for the want of praying after. In the name of him who shall judge the quick and dead according to my Gospel, and of him that shall come in the clouds of heaven, and by that fearful day when the pillars of this earth shall totter, and the heavens shall fall about your ears-by that day when "Depart, ye cursed," or "Come, ye blessed," must be the dread alternative, I charge you, lay these things to heart, and as I shall face my God to account for my honesty to you, and my faithfulness to him, so remember, you must stand before his bar, to give an account of how you heard, and how you acted after hearing; and woe unto you if, having been lifted up like Capernaum with privileges, you should be cast down like Sodom and Gomorrah, or lower still than they, because you repented not.

Comments (19)

I was recently asked in an interview, "What's Wrong With the World?" based upon the name of this blog. I answered that the denial of reality is what's wrong with the world. One could argue that the root of all sin is the denial of reality of some kind or other.

In a very related fashion I'd also say that the idea that an entity's essence or attributes change to match whatever label we decide to give it is also a really wrong thing too. (This is a special case of your general denial-of-reality point.)

Addressing me as "your grace" does not make me the Archbishop of Canterbury. Using overtly clinical and reductionistic language ("fetus", "blob") does not change the humanity of the unborn. Calling something a "right" does not by itself make it so.

Much of modern argumentation strikes me as asserting or denying the application of a label to something, rather than dealing with the thing in and of itself. Thus, for example, solid New Testament study can be waved away by saying "pre-modern", "not on the scholarly cutting edge", "dated", "reactionary", without having to actually refute it.

Someone on Facebook today asked a mutual friend why we shouldn't go along with calling the relationship of two men "marriage" if that is what the state calls it. Why, he asked, should we not simply acknowledge this legal fiction in order to "live at peace" with same-sex couples.

On my friend's behalf (he was in agreement) I pointed out that words mean things, that the state does not create reality, and that a man can no more be married in any meaningful sense to another man than he can be married to his dog or to his desk.

This sort of hyper-nominalism is, frankly, terrifying. If the state declares that a relationship between an adult man and a four-year-old child is a marriage, shall we also agree with it as a mere "legal fiction" in order to "live at peace with intergenerational couples"?

In all honesty, I think a lot of it is an attempt to avoid suffering the consequences of truth-telling. Surely there is some way that we can bow in the house of Rimmon in order to avoid being reviled and hated by all men. Right? Right?

shall we also agree with it as a mere "legal fiction" in order to "live at peace with intergenerational couples"?

I think these people need to watch "A Man for All Seasons". Paraphrased:

"Thomas, will you not sign the document with me, for friendship's sake?"

Response: "And when I am damned to Hell for violating my conscience and you to heaven for following yours, will you not come with me to Hell, for friendship's sake?"

Who says we are to "live in peace" at all costs? Christ explicitly denied it: "Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to turn ‘A man against his father, a daughter against her mother,..." There are some things that are worth fighting over. We cannot live in peace with evil that reaches out and forces others to become evil - it is the evil that is doing the violence, not the truth that resists.

I have not shunned to preach of hell with all its horrors, until I have been laughed at, as if I always preached upon it.

Oddly, Michael Vooris, a fairly outspoken Catholic media personality, recently put out a 10 minute video on the subject, using the occasion of the death of Cardinal Danneels of Belgium to ram it home in a personal way. He made no bones about just how awful Hell is. We like to comfort ourselves with re-picturing it as "not so bad" in order to avoid the reality; we like to imagine that the "pain of loss", i.e. knowing that we are permanently separated from God and heaven, will be the worst of the pain, and pretend that this means (as on Earth) this isn't all that bad - because, after all, we willingly face THAT loss every time we commit a grave sin. But this is because when we sin, we can turn away from reality for the time being and pretend (even to ourselves) what is not so. We ignore the fact that in Hell we will be unable to STOP looking the truth straight in the eye, that we will be constantly AWARE of the loss, and of the fact that the loss is due to our own free choices, and that those free choices were in favor of piddling, stupid, little, momentary pleasures that ultimately we didn't even really enjoy all that much anyway, and for that stupid "benefit" we lost everything that matters. But the stupidity of that will be brought home to us all the more so by the pain of the senses, because we will feel in our bodies (after the resurrection of the dead) the torments of the body, such as to make us scream at the top of our lungs ... without surcease ... ever, while you know that holding back from screaming "until the pain lessens" doesn't work. Nor will we have the comfort of knowing that some of our friends join us in Hell, because we will (seeing the truth) hate them for urging us into Hell, and hate ourselves for taking their advice. Imagine spending eternity with someone you hate bitterly and who has done you limitless evil: yourself.

"America has a First Amendment and all that, so it couldn't happen here, right? Well, maybe not for a while in that precise form."

We should be careful not to limit our concerns to efforts from the public sector to establish these unrealities, as the private sector has become irredeemably complicit:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/woke-corporate-tyranny/

I agree, NM, but I also think there is something especially frightening about the government literally taking $55K of your money and handing it to a man who thinks he is a woman because you committed the crime of saying that he is a man. It's just a whole new level of wrong and fear--open, blatant totalitarianism by the guys with the guns.

Reminds of this (from the introduction to "Ideas Have Consequences"):

Like Macbeth, Western man made an evil decision, which has become the efficient and final cause of other evil decisions. Have we forgotten our encounter with the witches on the heath? It occurred in the late fourteenth century, and what the witches said to the protagonist of this drama was that man could realize himself more fully if he would only abandon his belief in the existence of transcendentals. The powers of darkness were working subtly, as always, and they couched this proposition in the seemingly innocent form of an attack upon universals. The defeat of logical realism in the great medieval debate was the crucial event in the history of Western culture; from this flowed those acts which issue now in modern decadence.

One may be accused here of oversimplifying the historical process, but I take the view that the conscious policies of men and governments are not mere rationalizations of what has been brought about by unaccountable forces. They are rather deductions from our most basic ideas of human destiny, and they have a great, though not unobstructed, power to determine our course.

For this reason I turn to William of Occam as the best representative of a change which came over man’s conception of reality at this historic juncture. It was William of Occam who propounded the fateful doctrine of nominalism, which denies that universals have a real existence. His triumph tended to leave universal terms mere names serving our convenience. The issue ultimately involved is whether there is a source of truth higher than, and independent of, man; and the answer to the question is decisive for one’s view of the nature and destiny of humankind. The practical result of nominalist philosophy is to banish the reality which is perceived by the intellect and to posit as reality that which is perceived by the senses. With this change in the affirmation of what is real, the whole orientation of culture takes a turn, and we are on the road to modern empiricism.

It is easy to be blind to the significance of a change because it is remote in time and abstract in character. Those who have not discovered that world view is the most important thing about a man, as about the men composing a culture, should consider the train of circumstances which have with perfect logic proceeded from this. The denial of universals carries with it the denial of everything transcending experience. The denial of everything transcending experience means inevitably—though ways are found to hedge on this—the denial of truth.

With the denial of objective truth there is no escape from the relativism of “man the measure of all things.” The witches spoke with the habitual equivocation of oracles when they told man that by this easy choice he might realize himself more fully, for they were actually initiating a course which cuts one off from reality. Thus began the “abomination of desolation” appearing today as a feeling of alienation from all fixed truth.

I've sometimes thought of writing another post called "I was a teenage nominalist."

Here's the first one:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2010/11/connecting_the_dotsor_i_was_a.html

The decision this tribunal has come to is so much worse than just making it illegal to publicly recognize the correct sex of a person who wants to live in denial of who they really are (aka to "misgender" them). Granted, that is quite bad all on it's own. They actually explicitly and openly acknowledge that their decision infringes upon people's right to religious liberty and free expression. They don't even try to come up with some sort of pretense that they are not doing either. At least they are honest, I guess. What makes the decision so much worse is that the tribunal says that it is against the code to merely openly disagree with transgender beliefs, that such a thing is simply no longer acceptable to publicly debate or question. In short, simply saying "trans women" are men...not just "morgane oger is a man"...is a violation of the code. The scope of this decision is astonishing.

As for the US, yes the First Amendment is a thing and so is the left's interest in court packing. Which is to say, if they get the opportunity (which is reasonably likely) they intend to find a way to ensure the court goes along with their agenda...whether by actually adding more justices or just a strong enough threat to bring Roberts in line.

What might be the saddest fact here...there is just one Bill Whatcott. Yes, there are other Canadians who speak critically of transgenderism, but they are mostly toeing the line. A few may eventually meet Whatcott in prison (which is no doubt where he is going and probably for a long time). However, there has been no clear out pouring of condemnation of this ruling. There have not been even a dozen...let alone hundreds or thousands of others writing editorials, blogs, or joining Whatcott in just making flyers that all say in effect that "yes, all trans women are men, including Morgane Oger".

I just saw a comment on Facebook from someone whose word I trust that she has been in contact with teenagers who want to stand up to this nonsense and not speak of a "transgender" person as if he is the sex he is pretending to be, but their parents are telling them that it is "disrespectful." Christian parents. Which is shameful. The West is going mad.

The parents aren't getting much help either. A former coworker of mine told me how there is a large contingent of students at his son's high school against trans nonsense. I saw recently that school district has jumped in big on LGBT promotion. This in the midwest suburbs.

That doesn't excuse those parents, they either don't get it or have given up. For me, with two small ones at home...this is my future. It is moving fast and it is not clear what future options...if any...I will have to keep my own children grounded in truth. What may work right now may not even be an option in 5 to 10 years. If present in Canada is the near future for the US, it is not even clear that pastors could legally speak against "gender" affirmation. I also remain unconvinced that only parents of "trans kids" who do not affirm "gender" will risk have their kids taken.

The first reading at Mass yesterday was rather on point, from Wisdom:

The wicked said among themselves, thinking not aright: "Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, Because his life is not like that of others, and different are his ways. He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him."

This is not new: those who promote degeneracy cannot stand people saying - even just thinking - that they are debased, it is intolerable to them. The ones who are trying not to be debased don't even need to say anything: their very way of acting is an accusation to the debased, so that "merely to see them is a hardship" because then their consciences try to kick out, they want their consciences to be dead.

"
Morgane Oger M.S.M.
@MorganeOgerBC
·
3h
Whatcott is guilty of publishing prohibited discrimination, not of calling me names or any crime. Since I see hatred is your toolbox, no wonder you're worried
@FaithGoldy
. Remember, as long as you don't do it on paper or cause a disturbance Canada puts up with spewing hatred.
Quote Tweet

Faith J Goldy
@FaithGoldy
· 14h
Fined $55,000 for Calling a Male a Male...

Canadian tribunal fines Bill Whatcott $55,000 for calling a biological male (who identifies as a female) a “biological male.” That was his crime. (link: https://www.afa.net/the-stand/culture/2019/04/fined-55-000-for-calling-a-male-a-male/#.XKZiR-t0aro.facebook) afa.net/the-stand/cult…

Morgane Oger M.S.M.
@MorganeOgerBC
On that note, it's time we extend the prohibition to online publications. Who uses paper anyways these days...?"

Who wants to bet against Mr. Oger here? He is right, it's a bit absurd that the same words when published online are ok but illegal if printed on paper. This can also be extended to words that are just spoken in public or to gatherings of people (like in a church). I know he wants to take down Meghan Murphy and Jordan Peterson, and after Whatcott both are definitely vulnerable.

"This is not new: those who promote degeneracy cannot stand people saying - even just thinking - that they are debased, it is intolerable to them. The ones who are trying not to be debased don't even need to say anything: their very way of acting is an accusation to the debased, so that "merely to see them is a hardship" because then their consciences try to kick out, they want their consciences to be dead."

I think what I pointed out above is what you said here in action. Oger is not done, he is not at all satisfied with just shutting up Whatcott. It makes sense too...he cannot allow any for any possibility that he is the bad guy or even just not oppressed. He is also not alone, hence it only going to get worse so long as the Ogers of the world have the power they have.

Speaking of Whatcott...he is not done yet: http://freenorthamerica.ca/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=10755&sid=8d4936b7a691c1ec010edffb079bcf23

This man has serious guts indeed. I sure hope he has an escape plan.

What may work right now may not even be an option in 5 to 10 years. If present in Canada is the near future for the US, it is not even clear that pastors could legally speak against "gender" affirmation. I also remain unconvinced that only parents of "trans kids" who do not affirm "gender" will risk have their kids taken.

Too right. In Britain, they apparently are moving forward on having home inspections on homeschooled kids, by the government. Not just on families where something happens to cause suspicion of a problem, on ALL homeschool families. And in Canada, Alberta tried to make it actually illegal to teach the Christian doctrine that homosexual acts are sins to your own children. Of course it is possible for these things to come here: in addition to the possibility of authorities setting aside laws and the first amendment when they feel it is inconvenient, (and it may be too difficult to fight it in the courts for many people), there also is the possibility that the Constitution can be amended. Who knows how far that might go. Only 30 years ago it was unthinkable to 90% of Americans that the Constitution requires states to permit gay "marriage". Now something like probably 30% of Americans think it is fine when gays "marry", and another 25% don't have enough objection to the idea to bother insisting otherwise. If that can happen in 25 years, then a revision to the First Amendment can happen that does away with some of our basic protections.

If that can happen in 25 years, then a revision to the First Amendment can happen that does away with some of our basic protections.

Most likely by court "interpretation," which is how the other revisions have taken place. Leftists do not bother with amendments anymore and haven't for a long time.

Consider the fact that the ink is relatively speaking scarcely dry on Obergefell, that it is an interpretive abomination to rival Roe, and yet that probably none of the Trump appointees to SCOTUS is up for overturning it. Just ponder that for a minute. Originalists? Don't make me laugh. So 1st amendment jurisprudence can certainly change as well, even radically. They'd have to overturn not only the Constitution but also a lot of precedents, but that may not stop them. In any event, non-discrimination law in regards to the workplace and public accommodation *already* restricts freedom of speech very radically and has never been overturned on that basis. Even now, for example, non-discrimination law *requires* employers to *prevent* their employees from talking in the workplace in ways that would make a specially protected class feel unwelcome or uncomfortable.

"What is effected by Nominalism, as it is appropriated out of Occam's intricate arguments, is an instrument of power over nature justified on the authority of autonomous intellect, whereby the Platonic idea of the transcendent model is presumed a creation by autonomous intellect itself through its signs [i.e., words -- Montgomery makes this apparent earlier in the essay], as first divorced from but then in turn imposed upon nature. In the Christian tradition, nature is created and therefore both dependent upon and from its Creator. Hence my epithet of Modernism as an inverted Platonism, in which reality becomes dependent upon autonomous intellect itself. It follows at last from this gnostic assumption that truth itself is that which is decreed by intellect. By the power of autonomous intellect, then, such truth is made universal -- according, of course, to the extent of power exercised by the particular universalizing, autonomous intellect. This is to say that a principle, subjectively authorized, becomes a dogma to be imposed as a limit against rival intellectual subjectivisms, and ideology to be established by force if necessary, providing only that there is a sufficient power for its enforcement."

from "Consequences in the Provinces: Ideas Have Consequences 50 Years After," which appears in the book Steps Towards Restoration: The Consequences of Richard Weaver's Ideas, Ted J. Smith III, ed.

That's a dense paragraph, but it goes a long way in explaining why nominalist liberalism must end up as coercive.

Lydia:
I don't see why you and the comments to your post are so godawful sure that transgender people are not the result of God's creative efforts.
Starting your post with the story of Eve in the garden, I think, argues for a more tolerant view of the variety and unexpected results of God's handiwork.
At the time of the snake, Eve the woman was made in the image of God to be Adam's helper. But, according to the narrative in my KJV, Eve did not know she was naked and did not know about good and evil.
The snake tells Eve that if she eats the forbidden fruit she will become like God and she will not die. At the time, and because of the way she was created, she wasn't able to tell right from wrong, so she went with the most recent advice from the amazing talking snake. And she didn't die. In that moment the nature of God's creation was changed. When God found out what happened He made some more changes to his creation. For Eve and all the women, God made childbirth painful, and He made women subservient to men. As time went by God didn't like the way his creation was performing, so he killed them all except for one family, and started over. But, soon the humans were building a tower thinking they could reach heaven. God sees this and observes that man's imagination and ability to communicate makes them hard to stop. So, he makes another change to his creation by making it difficult for people to communicate.
These stories tell me that God's creation is a work in progress which God tweaks every now and then.
I am approaching four score and this transgender and sexual identity stuff is hard for me to digest, but from not knowing we were naked to not knowing what we are inside, it is still the result of God's creation.
We should work with it with the love God commands.

Troll alert. Do not feed.

Lydia:
Wow! that was a pretty harsh response to a comment I thought raised valid considerations about the nature and development of God's creation. I have followed this blog for years and appreciate your analytic presentations such as your recent dust up with Lacuna. In all the years I think I have commented only once or twice. So maybe you wouldn't mind telling me just what you mean by "Troll" as it relates to my comment, or as it relates to me as a person.

I mean that you sound like a skeptic making fun of Christian beliefs: "Hey, if God can change creation so that there's a talking snake and it's hard for women to have babies, why not think that people who think they are the opposite sex are some newly invented part of God's creation?"

If you were serious...well...I'm not sure if that is better or worse. Jesus affirmed the gender binary quite clearly. People who hate their own natural sex and want to cut off their genitalia and pretend to be the opposite sex are clearly mentally disturbed, not some kind of new, positive creation by God.

The most loving thing one can do is not to go along with sadly disturbed people's sad delusions. Any more than one would if the person thought he was a tiger or Napoleon.

The idea that God literally creates people with the intention of their having such delusions is scarcely worth addressing. I'm very, very sorry if someone has tried to make you think that you have to take such a nigh-blasphemous statement about God to be a serious option.

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