Piety and Patriotism

Archbishop Charles Chaput has these reflections for Independence Day:

The question arises:  Can the piety of an authentic Christian life and patriotism for a secular state coexist in such a conflicted time?

Scripture tells us to respect and pray for our civic leaders, even when we dislike them; even when they persecute us.  Jesus himself said that Caesar has a realm of legitimate authority.  That realm is limited in scope, but we have a duty to obey civil authority so long as it does not demand a kind of practical idolatry.  Christians were martyred not because they hated Roman power, but because they wouldn’t burn incense to the emperor’s “genius” or sacred spirit – in other words, they wouldn’t treat him as divine.

It’s true that in the first three centuries after Jesus, Early Church scholars like Tertullian, Hippolytus and Tatian all rejected military and even civil service for believers.  But that changed as the empire gradually became Christian, and changed radically after the Emperor Constantine converted from paganism.  From the late Fourth Century on, St. Augustine’s “just war” teaching on the legitimate use of force in situations related to self-defense came to dominate Christian thought.

Augustine also taught that Christian political engagement and public service can be morally worthy, so long as our expectations of remaking reality are modest.  All human structures are flawed by sin.  The City of Man can never be the City of God.

And that’s a wisdom we need to remember.  Christianity is not finally about our place in this world.  It’s about our place in the next.  We have duty to make the material world, and especially the people around us, better for our passing.  We can’t and shouldn’t try to escape from the challenges and responsibilities of the place where God plants us.  We need to be a leaven for goodness, here and now.  But our real citizenship, our real goal, is heaven.  We belong to heaven first.

So it’s worth unpacking those two words, patriotism and piety.

The word “patriotism” comes from the Latin pater (father) and patria (homeland, native soil).  As with any human father, the nation-state is not a little godling.  It can never require our worship.  It can never demand that we violate our religious identity and beliefs.  But properly understood, patriotism is a virtue and a form of filial love.  We’re sons and daughters of the land of our birth.  It’s natural and deeply human to love our home and be faithful to the best qualities in our native land.

The word “piety” comes from the Latin pietas, meaning humility and a devotion to the gods.  Pietas was the highest Roman virtue and a powerful force in shaping early Roman life.  It’s no accident that Rome’s ancient poet Virgil, in his epic work The Aeneid, described Aeneas, the legendary founder of Rome, as pious Aeneas repeatedly.

Aeneas and his piety are pertinent for this reason.  One of the great scholars of the last century, the British Catholic historian Christopher Dawson, demonstrated that all great human civilizations have started from some form of a religious founding.  And as the essence of that founding is lost, illness of the soul sets in.

Humans are addicts for meaning.  We’re also inescapably mortal, which means we instinctively look for purpose outside and higher than ourselves.  The “God question” matters because God made us.  Thus in our own country, from the very start, biblical language, belief and thought have provided our moral meaning.  The more we discard these precious things, the more alien we become to ourselves and to the nation we were meant to be.

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A Short Guide on How to Talk to SJWs

Brian Niemeier knows how to do it:

Experience shows that the best advice on how to argue with SJWs is that you shouldn’t. You should mock them relentlessly instead.

***

It bears repeating: Do not attempt to answer SJWs’ loaded questions or engage with them rationally. They do not want information and are only giving you enough rope to rhetorically hang yourself. Go on the offensive, and punch back twice as hard!

He provides an illustration on how it’s done in a twitter conversation with an SJW.

JD Cowan, in the comments, adds this:

It’s easy once you keep in mind that they’re being dishonest and have no desire to be rational about anything.

Turn every question against them. No matter what you answer it will be used as ammo against you, so twist it into being about them instead. They will soon get frustrated and wander off trying to “win” before usually coming back with one massively spergy comment to end on.

Keep in mind that they think you’re evil and they want to destroy you. Once you remember that it’s easy to see everything they do coming before it does.

This is gonna seem like harping on the subject, but people don’t get it.  I can’t turn around without tripping over another conservative trying to insist that if they just use facts and carefully answer and refute each point of the SJWs argument, then they’re going to win somehow.  It’s a waste of time; don’t do it.

Another War Few Even See

In addition to the culture war being fought, often ineffectively, there is also an often unacknowledged clash of cultures that is parallel and strangely aligned with the liberal side, despite the incompatibility of the two ideologies: Progressivism and Islam.  It is impossible that both can win and exist side by side.  I suspect that if the liberals “win,” their success will be in destroying our culture (if in fact they have not fully done so already) so that the West will be so rootless and weak that Islam and all its oppression will triumph.  If that comes to pass, it will be a very dark day for the West.  Remember how long it took Spain to kick out the Muslims?

Time for choosing in the struggle between Islam and the West

I dare say that most people who have read history would like to think that if they had been present at some pivotal point in history, they would have chosen the right side – with the Allies and against the Axis, with Wilberforce and against the slave traders, with the Romans and against the child-sacrificing Carthaginians.

If I had lived back then, we tell ourselves, I would have fought with the right side, no matter the odds.

Well, now’s your chance. Because it looks very much as though we are at one of those pivotal moments – possibly at one of the major turning points in history, and probably one of the most dangerous. We tend to think that historical turning points generally involve a breakthrough to a higher plane – a turn for the better rather than a turn for the worse. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the pendulum of history swings backward and slices off centuries of progress. The turning point at which we now stand threatens to cast us back more than a thousand years to some of history’s darkest days. We may soon be fighting for things we thought had been secured for all time – basics such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and even freedom from enslavement.

The turning point I refer to is the civilizational struggle between Islam and the West (acknowledging, of course, that much of the Western tradition has been adopted by people who live outside the traditional geographic boundaries of the West). On a larger view, the struggle can more accurately be described as a conflict between Christianity and Islam, because if the West loses its Christian soul, it will also lose the ability and the will to defend its freedoms.

Of course, some people deny that there is any “clash of civilizations.” All religions and all cultures want the same thing, they say, and they assure us that the tiny handful of trouble-makers in the Muslim world do not represent the vast majority.

But time and again, polls have shown that at least a majority of Muslims want to be ruled by sharia law – a throwback to the harsh legal system that developed in seventh-century Arabia. Contrary to “enlightened” expectations, it turns out that a great many Muslims in a great many places favor cruel and unusual punishments for theft, adultery, blasphemy, and apostasy.

That’s what they want for fellow Muslims who go astray. But if you’re a non-Muslim you don’t have to go astray in order to be punished. The mere existence of Jews, Christians, and other minorities is considered an affront by many Muslims. As a result, discrimination against non-Muslims is endemic in the Muslim world. It can’t be blamed on a tiny minority of bigots, because just about everyone – including police, government officials, employers, and next-door neighbors – expects unbelievers to know their place.

Jews and Christians got the message a long time ago. That’s why there are so few of them left in places that used to be their homelands – in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey. For those who don’t leave voluntarily, the daily low-level persecution sometimes breaks out into organized violence. That was the case in the 1914-1923 genocide against Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Christians living in the Ottoman Empire, in the 1933 massacre of Assyrian Christians in Simele, Iraq, and in the 1941 Farhud (pogrom) against the Jewish population of Baghdad. In more recent years we’ve witnessed the slaughter of Christians and Yazidis by ISIS in Syria and Northern Iraq, the numerous massacres of Christians carried out by Boko Haran in Northern Nigeria and by al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya, and the frequent attacks on Coptic Christian churches in Egypt.

“Witnessed” may be too strong a word. Many in the West simply noted these atrocities, and then continued to go about their business as though nothing had happened. But, to paraphrase Trotsky, “You may not be interested in the clash of civilizations, but the clash of civilizations is interested in you.” For a long time, people in the U.S. and Europe were able to ignore the barbarities in Africa, Iraq, and elsewhere. But then the clash of civilization moved north and into Europe. When the “clash” made its appearance in the streets of Paris, in Christmas markets in Germany, and in a concert hall in Manchester, only the willfully blind could fail to notice.

But, apparently, there are a lot of those. In Europe, America, and Canada, the elites in government, media, academia, and even the Church continue to insist that there is no clash. That’s true in a sense. You can’t have a clash if only one side is fighting. And thus far the pushback against jihad – both of the armed variety and the stealth variety – has been feeble. The elites won’t even contemplate the obvious first step – tight restrictions on Muslim immigration.

Moreover, they do everything they can to cover up the clash. Police aren’t allowed to report on the extent of immigrant crime, news media won’t carry stories about the crimes unless they are exceptionally violent, outspoken critics of Islam or immigration are brought before magistrates, and ordinary citizens who post “Islamophobic” remarks on Facebook are visited by police.

The West’s self-imposed blindness to what is happening forces us to another observation about the historical turning point that is now developing. The battle is not simply a civilizational struggle between Islam and the West; it also involves a war within Western civilization itself. Many of our Western institutions now reject the Western heritage, and many of them have effectively taken the side of Islam.

On almost any issue involving a conflict between Islam and traditional Western values, the schools, the media, the courts, and many of the churches stand with Islam. They may not look at it that way. They may rationalize their actions as nothing more than a defense of the civil rights of Muslims. Many of them are likely unfamiliar with the concept of stealth jihad. But they are facilitating it just the same. The main form this facilitation takes is the suppression of any bad news about Islam. Thus, in 2012, Congress refused to investigate Muslim Brotherhood penetration of government agencies, and in the same year the FBI, the Pentagon, and other security agencies bowed to Muslim pressure and purged their training materials of any suggestion that Islamic terrorists were motivated by Islamic ideology. More recently, media giants such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter have taken to stifling the voices of those who speak out against Islamic oppression.

One could cite numerous other instances of this near-suicidal impulse to side with our ideological enemies: the judges who block restrictions on Muslim immigration, the bishops who sign up with the deceptive anti-“Islamophobia” campaign, and the Obama administration’s gift of billions of dollars to Iran.

With a few exception, such as the bishops, these enablers of cultural jihad are secular progressives. Despite their moniker, however, progressives can be decidedly regressive. They champion abortion at every stage of pregnancy – a practice which suggests that the distance between us and the child-sacrificing Carthaginians is not as great as we may think. Progressives promise to pull us into the future, yet they often act to drag us into the past. Several progressive voices now want severe restrictions on freedom of speech. This has already happened on college campuses where hate speech codes effectively stifle free expression. The average college student today has no more freedom of speech than a serving woman in the court of Cleopatra. The “enlightened” progressives who run Google, YouTube, and Facebook don’t have much use for freedom of expression either. Critics of Islam are particularly liable to be restricted, suspended or banned by these Internet monopolies.

Here is the situation in brief. We stand at one of the major turning points of history. Two powerful forces for regression threaten to drag us into a dark past. On the one hand, Islamists want to bring back the subjugation of women, female genital mutilation, sex slavery, beheadings, and dhimmitude for non-believers. On the other hand, their hi-tech progressive enablers are decimating non-Muslim populations by promoting contraception and abortion, while simultaneously controlling the flow of information about Islam using speech-suppressing strategies that no absolute monarch could ever have imagined.

***

Although the means of obfuscating the truth are far more sophisticated now than they were in the 1940s, we still have a marked advantage over our counterparts in that era. We have far more historical perspective than was available to them. For example, when the Nazis were building up their military machine in the 1930s, there was no thousand-year history of Nazi aggression to serve as a warning. The Nazi party was little more than a decade old, and Hitler had not come to power until 1933. There was some excuse for those who naively gave the Nazis the benefit of the doubt.

We, on the other hand, have very little excuse for ignoring the signs of the time. For those who study history, they are very familiar signs. That’s because Islam has a 1,400-year history of aggression. And the battle plan has been remarkably consistent over time – even including migration as a means of invasion. The latest installment of that 1,400-year-old plan for world conquest in the name of Allah has already begun. We are witnessing a remarkable expansion of Islam into every corner of the world – Africa, Australia, the Philippines, China, Russia, Europe, and North and South America.

***

Committed leftists and committed Islamists: it’s a hard combination to beat. Both believe very firmly in what they believe. Unless Christians believe very firmly that they must be stopped, both will continue to expand. We stand at a decisive point in history. Choosing to stay on the sidelines only serves to increase the odds that these regressive forces will triumph.

The War We’re Not Really Fighting

Brian Niemeier addresses the fact that Catholics are not doing so hot in the culture wars:

The problem isn’t that Catholics haven’t been using our profound intellectual tradition. The problem is that our thought leaders keep deploying tactics that lead with dialectic informed by that tradition when the public at large a) is not equipped to understand that tradition, b) has no desire to understand that tradition, and c) have been conditioned into both of those predispositions by the media and academia, including many Catholic schools.

As for why God has allowed Christian influence to wane, it’s because we have free will, He lets us have the consequences of our bad decisions, and Christians have been making a fuck ton of bad decisions over the past several decades. (See divorce and contraception rates, degradation of the liturgy, and Democrat party voting rates among Christians.)

Marshall ends with this lament:

Where are the Christians? We need to spend the next decade prayerfully cultivating sharp and relevant Christian minds to engage the culture and social media.

To reiterate, Milo and Gavin are two Christians who’ve been extraordinarily successful on social media. John C. Wright is a prolific and gifted Catholic author and blogger. Vox Day is making inroads in publishing and tech. Even I’m making my own modest contribution. But Guys like Taylor Marshall won’t support or acknowledge any of us because we’re not engaging in Thomistic disputations on Facebook.

While one might argue about exactly how Christian or how effective any of the people Niemeier mentions are, the fact is they have done more than the average writer who shows up on New Advent on a regular basis. Thomistic disputations at this point in time only work for preaching to the choir.

This really goes to show, in a way, why the idea of withdrawing from society is bad. On one hand, we have to back up enough to be able to preserve ourselves and children and so on from being corrupted. On the other, it’s clear that current Catholic pundits are already so removed from regular society that they don’t understand how to speak to normal people.

There may be a bit of the IQ gap problem here too. Catholics have a great and wonderfully long intellectual tradition. But people are stupid. 2000 years of theology and philosophy mean nothing to a moron. I once failed a quiz on the Summa after reading the required section five times. But somebody who can read it, who can understand it, maybe can’t understand how to dumb it down enough for the intellectually challenged to grasp. When your brain functions solely on a dialectical level can you even comprehend a brain that functions only on the rhetorical? It’s certainly going to be harder to do if you live in a Catholic bubble or an academic ivory tower and aren’t surrounded by people like that every day.

Trying to get these people to comprehend that they don’t comprehend is as difficult and frustrating as trying to get an average person to understand that maybe his problems might be coming from sleeping around and, no, a vasectomy won’t help. The man standing on moral bedrock can’t tell the man drowning in quicksand to just stand on bedrock. There isn’t any bedrock over there but the man standing on it doesn’t see the quicksand.

The difference between dialect and rhetoric is imperative for people to understand.  Understand it and know when it use it.  Sometimes that’s going to mean being mean.  We have to let go of the intellectual pride and the self congratulatory, defeatist moral high ground and try to win for a change.

A Better Choice Than “Gun-Free Zones”

If we can’t actually abolish all schools (though I think we should keep that option open) to stop school shootings, maybe abolishing “gun free zones” would be a step in the right direction.  Ann Coulter put together a helpful list for us.

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Here are some news items that might help us figure out how to reduce the number of school shooting victims.

  • May 3, 2017, Arlington, Texas: James Jones went to the Zona Caliente sports bar and began yelling incoherently. When the manager, Cesar Perez, went to talk to him and calm him down, Jones pulled out a gun and shot Perez dead, then started shooting wildly at patrons. Luckily, a concealed carry holder happened to be having dinner at Zona Caliente with his wife that night. He shot Jones dead before anyone else was hurt.
  • 7, 2016, Linndale, Ohio: Two men getting into their car in a Dollar Store parking lot were held up by a masked armed robber. As the gunman, Varshaun Stephen Dukes,was rifling through one of the men’s pockets, the other pulled out his concealed handgun and told him to stop. The robber fired at the man but missed. The concealed carry permit holder shot back, putting a .45 bullet in the robber’s brain. (Naturally, he survived.) All of this was captured on the Dollar Store’s surveillance camera, so no charges were brought against the armed citizen.
  • June 26, 2016, Lyman, South Carolina: Jody Ray Thompson opened fire in the crowded Playoffz nightclub, injuring three. But before he could kill anyone, he was shot in the leg by a club patron with a concealed carry license. Police arrested Thompson without further incident and no one died.
  • May 31, 2015, Conyers, Georgia: After arguing with a liquor store clerk, Jeffrey Scott Pitts returned with a gun and began shooting at everyone in the store, killing two. Todd Scott, who was there to buy a six-pack, returned fire. The crazed gunman fled, went home and shot his parents. “He was very surprised that he was not the only one in the store with a gun,” Scott said. Apart from the two people killed in Pitts’ opening barrage, no one died. Scott saved the lives of everyone else in that store.
  • July 24, 2014, Darby, Pennsylvania: Felon and psychiatric patient Richard Plotts pulled out a gun at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, murdered his caseworker and wounded his psychiatrist, Dr. Lee Silverman. He would have kept shooting—Plotts had 39 more bullets—but the doctor pulled out his own gun and fired back, in violationof the hospital’s no-guns rule. No one else died.
  • 11, 2014, Portland, Oregon: After being turned away from a strip club in Portland, repeat felon Thomas Elliott Hjelmeland came back, wearing a clown mask, guns blazing. He hit a waitress, a security guard and a patron before a bouncer, concealed carry permit holder Jonathan Baer, returned fire and ended the attack. No one died.
  • 16, 2012, San Antonio, Texas: Jesus Manuel Garcia began shooting at the Santikos Mayan Palace movie theater from a nearby restaurant and continued shooting as he walked toward the theater. An armed off-duty cop shot Garcia four times, stopping the attack. No one died.
  • March 25, 2018, Boiling Springs, South Carolina: Jesse Gates kicked in a side door of the Southside Freewill Baptist Church during services, raised his gun to shoot—but was grabbed and held at gunpoint by the reverend’s grandson, a concealed carry permit holder. No one was hurt. Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said, “I like the fact that a concealed weapons permit holder was prepared to protect the worshipers.”

It’s seems like it’s been awhile since we’ve heard of a crazed gunman being quickly disarmed at a school. Maybe because we’ve been trying to stop mass shootings with gun-free school zones.

Here are some older school shooting cases that had comparatively happy endings.

  • In 2001, 15-year-old Charles Williams tried to shoot up his high school in Santee, California, but luckily, an off-duty cop happened to be bringing his daughter to school that day. He ended Williams’ rampage with his own gun, holding him until more police arrived. Two fatalities.
  • In 1998, a 14-year-old student began shooting up a school dance being held at a restaurant in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. The restaurant owner pulled out a shotgun, keeping the death toll to one.
  • In 1997, a student shot several people at his high school in Pearl, Mississippi, killing two, and was headed to the junior high, until assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieved a .45 pistol from his car and pointed it at the gunman’s head. Another massacre averted.
  • In 1993, student Mark Duong pulled out a gun during his disciplinary hearing at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, wounding three people, including the police officer, who, luckily, had been asked to attend the hearing. The officer immediately shot the psychotic student dead, saving the lives of everyone in the room.

We can try the walkouts, rallies, moments of silence, media adulation, poems and fist salutes. But if the full arsenal of liberal disapprobation doesn’t stop schizophrenics from going on shooting sprees, concealed carry laws will at least save a lot of lives.

Did the Death Penalty Have a Positive Effect on Civilization?

Well, this is certainly a very un-PC article.  I’m not sure what I think about this, especially from a Christian perspective, but it does make me think about things in an entirely new way.

If there’s one thing that unites wealthy Leftists, it’s the need to pretend they are compassionate.

And there are few better ways of doing this than campaigning against the death penalty.

Increasingly, Leftists take advantage of modern technology to do this: Activist groups like the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty have created a virtual cottage industry geared toward virtue-signalling on the death penalty. They use their websites to direct the bleeding hearts to the next execution site, so they can launch a protest rally.

Cutting-edge research, however, reveals just how fantastically ironic this is. It seems that without the death penalty there’d be no internet, no television; in fact, very little civilization.

The first scholars to develop this king of all Left-triggering ideas were Canadian anthropologist Peter Frost and the late University of Utah anthropologist Henry Harpending. They published their landmark research in 2015 under the title Western Europe, State Formation, and Genetic Pacification in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.[PDF]

It was a truly ingenious argument.

When Europe became Christian, the death penalty was abolished. Right up until the beginning of the Middle Ages, people were left to settle their own disputes by fighting each other or demanding, from the state, that the murderer pay a fine for killing their relative. But, as Frost and Harpending put it, the Church gradually came to accept that, the “wicked” should be executed “so that the good can live in peace.”

With biblical justification, more and more crimes became subject to the death penalty. By the High Middle Ages, every single felony (any crime serious enough to have traditionally warranted the confiscation of property) was met with the hangman’s noose.

Those sent to the gallows were almost always high-testosterone young men prone to violent crime. In fact, Frost and Harpending calculated that one percent of the male population were executed every generation throughout the Middle Ages. And another one percent were killed at the scene of the crime or died in fetid prisons awaiting trial or execution. So two percent of young men were eliminated every generation.

And because they tended to be young, this process meant that they had fewer children than if they hadn’t been executed. Thus, they would have passed on fewer of their genes.

It’s here that Frost and Harpending perceptively draw their conclusion. Capital punishment must have changed the nature of European personality—by, in effect, culling out the psychopaths.

Read the rest here

How Trump Pushed “the Hippies” Over the Edge

John Nolte writes at Breitbart about all the recently uncovered government corruption and being not surprised.  What he does find surprising is that the children of the 60’s have turned into what they so despised in their youth.  Perhaps, just like young liberals today, they did and do lack any real convictions and so shift with the times — reacting emotionally and never thinking rationally.

None of that, however, is surprising. Government is corrupt, especially the federal government, most especially the unelected bureaucrats in the intelligence community. After living through Watergate, Iran-Contra, Billary selling the Lincoln bedroom, no WMD in Iraq, and Barry weaponizing the IRS and running guns into Mexico, I am well aware incompetence and corruption are the government’s default positions.

Here is what I never thought I would see…

The children of the ’60s — you know, the hippies — and their ideological offspring in academia, politics, and, most especially, the media, are now not only okay with a sitting president’s weaponizing the intelligence community against a rival presidential campaign; they are all rolling over like whipped dogs to believe everything the intelligence community tells them, most especially when it is coming from the CIA — the CIA! — and the FBI.

Basically, Trump has driven the hippies and their offspring so crazy they are not only A-okay with the CIA’s spying on American citizens, totally cool with FBI spies infiltrating a rival campaign, and feeling warm all over about wiretaps, unmasking, and lying to federal judges, they do not want any of this investigated.

The other day, Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame was on CNN fuming over the fact that there will now be an investigation of the Obama administration, the Department of Justice, the CIA, and the FBI, after it was discovered they are all guilty of spying on the political rival of a sitting president.

Carl freakin’ Bernstein does not want the watchmen watched. Carl freakin’ Bernstein is swallowing every treat being fed to him by the CIA — the CIA! — and the FBI. Carl freakin’ Bernstein does not want an investigation, does not want to learn anything more than what he is being told (by the CIA!), and does not want the public to know anything more.

And if you look across the vast horizon with the rare exception of an Alan Dershowitz and Glenn Greenwald, all the hippies are siding with and swallowing whole everything told to them by the same CIA that secretly bombed Cambodia, siding with and swallowing whole everything told to them by the same FBI that spied on Rev. Martin Luther King.

After the civil rights movement, the best thing to come out of the ’60s was a healthy skepticism of our national intelligence apparatus and a  vigilance against its abuses. The era of the unquestioning ’50s was finally over. But now, because of Trump, all of that has vanished. The hippies have become the squares, the round haircuts, the unquestioning white bread, middle class, Ward Cleaver 50s dads who blindly salute their G-Men.