Interesting to see that the red pill is proving not to be enough for some people and the logical solution to many of our society’s ill becoming apparent to them even if they’re not quite ready to go all the way.
Vox linked to an article the other day which is relevant both to the Christendom thing and some discussions I’ve been having lately.
Now, let’s understand this basic concept – Jesus was not some sort of whiny wimp who refused to confront the establishment and took comfort in his own righteousness while leaving others to do the heavy lifting. Jesus made people angry, because that’s what happens when you defy bad people. Being a Christian does not mean that you have to shrug and let the likes of Hillary Clinton be elected so she and her minions can fire up her anti-faith pogrom against those of us who dare worship God and not the elite she represents. Maybe you didn’t notice, but they do not accept the concept that we have any legitimate interests or rights. They hate us. And, if we are weak and stupid enough to allow them to take power, they will act on their bigotry and prejudices. Baking cakes is only the start.
Resistance is not merely an option. It is a duty. And resistance to evil – because the desire to suppress our faith is evil – is not somehow unchristian because it can be aesthetically displeasing. Fighting back is not always pretty. Jesus cleared the temple of moneychangers. He made a mess and got people angry. He didn’t sit on the sidelines and write ponderous articles lambasting the people tossing over the tables because “We’re better than that.”
Wimp Jesus is not the real Jesus. Jesus wasn’t nice. Now, a friend of mine said to me the other day that while of course Jesus did some mean things, like calling people names or attacking them with a whip, we have to remember that He did it with perfect charity and knowledge, because He’s God and can know when it’s appropriate to do such things. This is true. However, the implication I got was this meant that we can’t know when it’s appropriate to do these things. Maybe my friend didn’t mean it quite like that but that’s what I got. Regardless, it’s also important to remember that everything Jesus did in the Bible is an example to us of what to do and how to act. If we were incapable of knowing when we could morally perform an action, then I don’t believe Jesus would have done it.
Your typical conservative, however, wants you to remember that we should be kind and accepting of freaks and deviants who want to ruin your lives and corrupt your children.
Though transgenderism is a far rarer phenomenon than homosexuality, I think most adults could admit it does seem like a rather persistent aspect of humanity. Most can probably recall a transgender person making at least some minor appearance in their life. If we concede that transgenderism is not going away, and is not something anyone intends to exert effort toward ending, then Americans, especially conservative ones, should reflect on our culture’s honest and fair attitude toward homosexuality and acknowledge that the most sensible path out of the present acrimony will probably require similar compromise.
Part one of the compromise will be borne by cultural conservatives and traditionalists. It asks for broad tolerance for the reality that transgender men and women exist, and are entitled to basic human dignity, just like everyone else. This does not mean having to morally endorse behavior many may believe runs contrary to God’s plan for a just and healthy society, but it does imply that acts like ostentatiously calling people by pronouns they don’t want, or belittling their personal struggle, are boorish and petty. It means acknowledging that arbitrary discrimination against transgender people is a cruel bigotry like any other.
It hurts gay and trannies’ feelings to tell them that they’re freaks and that you’re not going to kiss the ground on which they stand, so we can’t do that, oh, no. This is where niceness leads. This is where inaction leads.
“Good” people sit around and congratulate themselves on how they’re not going to do anything mean to anyone and remind everyone that these are just broken people who need to be shown love. Well, we have seen how effective this strategy is. We can argue certainly on which ways to fight back are moral or most useful but we have to realize that passively standing around and loving someone does not do anything. Because even the people who claim to be on our side are telling us to SHUT UP AND BAKE THE CAKE BIGOT.
This is the time of year when many Christians are focused on repentance. The liturgical season of Lent is observed by Catholics, Orthodox, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and even some evangelicals. Lent is an ancient church observance and relatively widely practiced. One would think in a mixed group of Christians it would be acknowledged at least somewhat.
The day after Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of Lent, I attended an event for Christian homeschoolers. The leader’s introduction speech was a bit… disappointing.
In the opening remarks, the leader started talking about how broken our world is and how troubled people are, how hurting and confused, and invoked “the recent celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day” as a day of “repentance and unity.” She proceeded to quote MLK about “hate cannot drive out hate” and “only love can drive out hate.” After going on like this for some time (and none of this had anything to do with the reason this group was meeting in the first place!), she tacked onto the end mentions of God and His love being the only solution to the world’s problems.
MLK Jr. Day had been past by about a month. Ash Wednesday was just the day before. It was a stretch to be turning the introduction into a speech about racial justice (without actually coming out and mentioning “racial justice”). It was a little more understandable that she also talked a great deal about Valentine’s Day and LOVE considering that holiday had shared a date with Ash Wednesday this year.
I have heard this woman speak several times before and knew that when given a platform, she has a tendency to talk too long about her own interpretations of Scripture and throw in vague references to current events with mushy Christian sentiments that could be interpreted in various ways. I’ve often suspected that these references were leaning liberal but they weren’t explicit enough to pin down for sure — not explicit enough for other attendees at these events, whom I know to have much stronger “conservative” leanings, to be upset with her.
Probably she belongs to a denomination that does not observe Lent, but speaking to a Christian group and talking far more about MLK than God or Scripture is odd. And calling MLK Day a “day of repentance” really gives her away..
My tolerance for this sort of thing has greatly diminished in the past few years. The sad thing is that in a way what she said is true — depending on how you interpret it. We are called to repentance for how we might have wronged others and to reconciliation with our fellow man. But she left out the most important call to repentance and reconciliation: to God. Also important is the need to focus on one’s personal failings and responsibility, things one could actually work to make amends for and to change, not some real or imagined wrongs committed by one’s ancestors or race in the distant past or even present. Nothing that MLK Day is about has anything to do with ME personally. I have never personally wronged any person of color.
I resent this sort of “Christian” manipulation: Well, don’t you want to love as God tells you to? Ok, now feel bad about “racial inequality.” And DO something about it. Yeah? Like what exactly? As far as I can tell, these sorts of little speeches serve no purpose other than to induce “white guilt” and make us “understand.” How this helps anybody I really can’t see.
I really don’t want to hate anyone. If others would just leave my people alone and not try to destroy the country/world for my children’s future. And if they didn’t hate me first, that would really help.
I’ve wondered about the connection between identity politics and un-met needs to belong and to be part of a “tribe,” a community, but I hadn’t yet followed that train of thought far enough back.
In The Primal Scream of Identity Politics, Mary Eberstadt provides as assessment of identity politics and our culture that takes us back to the foundation: the family. She examines several other authors’ analyses of identity politics (and our cultural climate) and concludes that while some have noticed important factors, no one has gone deep enough in their questions and conclusions. The whole thing is worth a read.
“Mine! Mine! It’s mine!” The manifest panic behind cries of “cultural appropriation” is real—as real as the tantrum of a toddler. It’s as real as the developmental regression seen in the retreat to campus “safe spaces,” those tiny non-treehouses stuffed with candy, coloring books, and Care Bears. In social science, the toddler’s developmental “mine!” is called the “endowment effect”—the notion that humans ascribe extra value to possessions simply because they’re theirs. Some theorists consider it a subset of another human proclivity: loss aversion.
Maybe that cultural scream of “mine!” is issuing from souls who did have something taken from them—only something more elemental than the totemic objects now functioning as figurative blankies for lost and angry former children. As of today, less than 65 percent of American children live with both biological parents, even as other familial boughs have broken via external forces like the opioid crisis, criminality and incarceration, and globalization. Maybe depression and anxiety have been rising steadily among children and teenagers for a reason. Maybe the furor over “appropriation” unveils the true foundation of identity politics, which is pathos.
Did anyone really think things would turn out otherwise—that the massive kinship dislocations of the past 60 years wouldn’t produce increasingly visible, transformative effects not only in individual lives and households, but on politics and culture, too?
After all, it defies common sense to believe that the human surroundings during one’s formative years have no effect on the life to come. There’s also a library of social science, now over half a century in the making, tracing the links between fatherless homes and higher risks of truancy, criminality, psychiatric trouble, and the rest of the ledger suggesting that ripping up primordial ties hasn’t done society any favors. It’s all there, no matter how many of us have deep reasons for wishing otherwise.
One irony is certain. While identity politics has become an object of conversation in the left-leaning circles of Anglo-American and European political thought, deliverance from today’s disfigurations cannot come from the same quarter. The reason is simple. Not only identitarians but also liberals and progressives who are now anti-identitarian or identitarian-skeptical all agree on one big thing: The sexual revolution is off-limits for revision anywhere, anytime. It is their moral bedrock.
No-fault divorce, out-of-wedlock births, paid surrogacy, absolutism about erotic freedom, disdain for traditional moral codes: The very policies and practices that chip away at the family and drive the subsequent flight to identity politics are those that liberals and progressives embrace.
Then there are related family-unfriendly social realities that they also deem benign. Pornography, which once upon a time some feminists objected to, is now the stuff of their full-throated enthusiasm. Prostitution has been re-defined as the more anodyne “sex work.” And, of course, abortion is—in the unnervingly theological modifier applied to it by Hillary Clinton and many others on the left—“sacrosanct.” In the end, asking liberals and progressives to solve the problem of identity politics is like asking the proverbial orphan with chutzpah who murdered his parents.
Yes, conservatives have missed something major about identity politics: its authenticity. But the liberal-progressive side has missed something bigger. Identity politics is not so much politics as a primal scream. It’s the result of what might be called the Great Scattering—the Western world’s unprecedented familial dispersion.
Anyone who’s ever heard a coyote in the desert, separated at night from the pack, knows the sound. Maybe the otherwise-unexplained hysteria of today’s identity politics is just that: the collective human howl of our time, sent up by inescapably communal creatures who can no longer identify their own.
My very simplified conclusion after reading all of The Primal Scream of Identity Politics is this: maybe all the immature, hysterical acting out going on in this country really can be traced back to the destruction of the family or put more personally, mommy and daddy weren’t there to provide a stable, loving childhood. Today’s adults were yesterday’s children who were spoiled rotten in many ways, but not given what they really needed to be able to grow-up into mature human beings.
Little Charlie Gard passed away last week. He died in the hospital because his parents were not permitted to take him home to die in the peace of home.
What kind of evil is it that claims to be magnanimously keeping an individual’s best interests at the heart of its decisions, but won’t let that person be cared for by the people who love him most in all the world — his parents? Won’t let that person seek alternative care elsewhere, even when it has been offered by more than one hospital and doctor, and generous strangers have donated over million dollars for his care? Won’t let that child and his parents have the comfort of having clergy visit and pray with them? Won’t let him, in the end, die at home? All this in the name of doing what is good and right for that person. We know best… your wishes, your family’s wishes, are irrelevant… we are the ones with power… you will submit…
Jenny Uebbing had this to say about Charlie and what happened to him and his family (a good summary of which can be found here):
But, but, he was going to die anyway. Extraordinary means! The Catechism says! Etc. Etc. Etc.
True. All true. And yet, his parents wanted to pursue further treatment. His mother and his father, the two human beings who, entrusted by the God with whom they co-created an immortal soul, were tasked with the immense, universe-altering task of making decisions on his behalf.
It’s called parenting.
And when the state steps over the bounds of parental interests – nay, tramples upon them – insisting that government knows best what is best for it’s citizens, (particularly when government is footing the medical bills as is the case with the socialized NHS) then we should all of us, no matter our religions or our socioeconomic statuses or our nationalities, be alarmed.
Charlie Gard was a victim of the the most heinous sort of public power struggle: a child whose humanity was reduced to a legal case and an avalanche of global publicity. And no man, not the President of the United States or the Pope himself, could do a thing to turn the tide in little Charlie’s favor once the momentum was surging against him.
The British courts and the Great Ormond Street Hospital, convinced of their own magnanimity and virtue, ruled again and again against the wishes of Charlie’s parents, frustrating at every turn their attempts to seek a second option, to try experimental treatments, to spend privately-raised funds to secure care for their child not available in their home country.
To no avail.
Charlie Gard, baptized earlier this week into the Catholic Church, went home to be with Jesus today. His innocent soul in a state of grace, we can be confident of his intimate proximity now to the sacred heart of Jesus and to the sorrowful heart of Mary. May his parents feel the comfort of knowing that they fought the good fight, and that they brought their child to the font of eternal life by baptizing him into Christ’s Church and surrendering him into heaven’s embrace as he passed from this life.
And may they find, through the powerful intercession of their little son, now whole and free from suffering, the grace to forgive his tormentors and executioners here on earth.
Charlie Gard, pray for us.
Recently, a well-known liberal political commentator died. Eulogies poured in from his friends and colleagues, praising him as a man with a kind word for everyone, with a ready smile, and with a generous heart. He was a nice man, they said. This is no doubt true, and one does pray for his immortal soul.
But there, precisely, is the rub: he was subject to divine judgment. This “nice guy” had strongly supported the usual panoply of secular causes, even, at one point, mocking Catholics Rick and Karen Santorum for their expression of grief after the death of their baby. To the extent that the late pundit had had influence, he used it to promote an agenda that arrogantly rejects the Gospel.
Baseball manager Leo “The Lip” Durocher famously said: “Nice guys finish last.” That may or may not be accurate, but we do know that everyone, nice or not, “finishes.” We all have an expiration date. We are wise, therefore, in celebrating the counsels and consolations of those whose examples lead us along the right paths.
That the deceased political pundit – and we – will face judgment (Heb 9:27) is nowhere to be seen or heard in the encomiums offered about him. Although we can understand the wisdom of De mortuis nihil nisi bonum (“Don’t speak ill of the dead”), we must also refrain from praising and honoring those whose lives and legacies repudiate what is objectively morally true.
Here, also, is the kernel of the argument against Catholic colleges’ giving honorary degrees to men and women who, by word and deed, lead or prompt us into what is evil. (cf. Eph 4:17)
Nice guys are sincere, we hear. Nice guys are tolerant, we are told. Nice guys are “authentic,” as a confused Jean-Paul Sartre put it. That there can be sincere rapists, tolerant drug dealers, or authentic terrorists; that abortionists can be pleasant people; that those planning a political paradise marked by eugenics and euthanasia can simultaneously be loving grandparents – all these things testify to what Hannah Arendt famously called the “banality of evil.”
Nice guys – with the occasional exception of “nice” political pundits whose fingers are in the air, monitoring the wind direction of the day, eager to join in the platitudes of the chorus – refrain from self-promotion and just want to get along. Nice guys, usually, are plain and simple men.
In Robert Bolt’s play about Saint Thomas More, however, Bolt puts these words into the saint’s mouth as his jailer goes about his peremptory tasks, ignorant of a higher duty, and demanding pity because he is only a “plain, simple man”: “Oh, Sweet Jesus! These plain, simple men!”
Nice guys – “these plain, simple men” – thus have done, and can do, great evil because of apathy, because of unwillingness to seek the truth and then to do it. Truth obliges. Knowing the truth requires us to act in that truth – to “do” the truth. (James 1:22, CCC 898) If being a “nice guy” means that we must be wishy-washy or apathetic about knowing and serving truth, then we must be as disagreeable, as dyspeptic, as possible.
Plain, simple men rarely bother themselves about pursuit of truth, but “believers do not surrender. They can continue on their way to the truth,” wrote St. John Paul, “because they are certain that God has created them “explorers” (cf. Eccl 1:13), whose mission it is to leave no stone unturned, though the temptation to doubt is always there.
Leaning on God, they continue to reach out, always and everywhere, for all that is beautiful, true and good.” (Fides et Ratio, 21) “There exists a prior moral obligation, and a grave one at that,” the saint wrote, “to seek the truth and to adhere to it once it is known.” (Veritatis Splendor, 34)
The notion that there is no truth or that, if truth were to exist, it would be unknowable, compels the kind of moral relativism which is so much cherished by nice guys who run from the duty to admonish the sinner. (Luke 17:3).
Smiling nice guys are legion: we find them in parliaments and in pulpits, in chancelleries and in colleges, in the public square and in religious synods.
But if I do not trouble myself about the truth – about its certainty in Christ – then I need not concern myself about doing the truth, about testifying to that truth by what I say and do, and thus risk alienating those very people who see me as a “nice guy.”
The Vatican II “Declaration on Religious Liberty” asserts that “It is in accordance with their dignity as persons – that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility – that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth.”
Such adherence to truth may mean that the world may hate us (Mt 10:22) and, horribile dictu, not mark us as “nice guys.” As usual, though, Chesterton had it exactly right in his observation that Christians are not hated enough by the world. Too often, we are “nice guys.”
Maybe because they started down the road of relativism long ago.
Relativism which might sound like a benign “you think what you want and I’ll think what I want — and we’ll all get along” has proved to be not so harmless. More than a decade ago Pope Benedict had this to say:
“We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”
He’s been proved correct. The “dictatorship” has been increasing. The intolerance of any opposing perspectives or opinions has increased to the point of people wanting to throw those who disagree in jail (Bill Nye on “climate deniers”) or ruining the livelihoods of those with the “wrong” ideas (Christian bakers, florists, etc.). It has even gotten to the point that physical violence is justified against “wrong think” (“punch a Nazi” or Berkeley riots).
Benedict, as then Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote in his book Without Roots:
“In recent years I find myself noting, how the more relativism becomes the generally accepted way of thinking, the more it tends toward intolerance. Political correctness … seeks to establish the domain of a single way of thinking and speaking. Its relativism creates the illusion that it has reached greater heights than the loftiest philosophical achievements of the past. It presents itself as the only way to think and speak — if, that is, one wishes to stay in fashion. … I think it is vital that we oppose this imposition of a new pseudo-enlightenment, which threatens freedom of thought as well as freedom of religion.”
In 2013, Benjamin Wiker wrote Benedict vs. the Dictatorship of Relativism and accurately identified where this was headed: the destruction of our civilization and the persecution of Christians.
That last point is key. While appearing to be the very essence of neutrality and equity — “all views are equal and equally valid” — it actually undermines both the freedom of thought and the freedom of religion. As to the latter, it does so (ironically) as a new religion itself, “a new ‘denomination’ that places restrictions on religious convictions and seeks to subordinate all religions to the super-dogma of relativism.”
As Cardinal Ratzinger noted in his Truth and Tolerance, “relativism … in certain respects has become the real religion of modern man.” It has become, especially in Europe, but now increasingly in America, the religion that stands at the heart of modern secular civilization in the way that Christianity defined the heart of Christendom.
It is the religion, Pope Benedict insists, which the Church must combat in the third millennium for the sake of civilization itself. A civilization built upon dogmatic relativism is one that ensures its own destruction. It is also a civilization in which Christianity — challenging dogmatic relativism with the proclamation that Jesus Christ himself is the Way, the Truth and the Life — must be persecuted.