Are things really quite so grim?

Jonathon Van Maren thinks so.  His recent blog post is entitled “Grim poll: Conservatives are losing catastrophically on every single issue…except this one”

If certain enthusiastic public figures are to be believed, there is a wave of iconoclastic and libertarian youth who are fed up with political correctness and ready to turn the Left on its head. When I attended a campus event featuring the recently disgraced and even more recently resurgent Milo Yiannopoulos last fall, he made the claim loudly and boldly: “I might be the only one who has noticed this trend, but young people hate the Left. I have thirteen-year-olds emailing me. I even have children attending my campus events.”

Ignoring for a moment the obvious problem with a child attending an event put on by the self-described “Dangerous Faggot,” this sort of optimism is entirely unwarranted—unless, as is obviously the case with Milo, you do not see moral issues as indicative of national health overall. On that front, Americans continue to shift to the left, and continue to abandon Judeo-Christian values—if they even know what those are anymore. Gallup recently released new polling data for their annual Values and Beliefs poll, and the results were very sobering.

He goes on to talk about all the “sobering” data points covering views on marriage, sexuality, the family, etc. — all with predictable and completely unsurprising revelations. None of this is news.  How did Van Maren miss that we were no longer living in a Christian society, that we had long since passed into a pagan one?  That traditional Christian morality is not the standard by which most people live shouldn’t be surprising or discouraging.

He notes that the polls didn’t show a large increase in support of abortion, which he believes is due to massive efforts of pro-lifers to educate people:

On every moral issue, social conservatives are losing ground—except for abortion.

Looking at the raw data, it’s hard to see where someone like Milo Yiannopoulos gets his optimism from. He may not care about most moral issues—his relaunch party, after all, featured male and female strippers—but even on free speech and free markets, the numbers look grim. Millennials are embracing socialism, rejecting the fundamental idea that freedom of speech and freedom of expression are bedrock values in a democracy, and turning university campuses into totalitarian safe spaces that exclude any idea they find threatening to their fragile progressive worldviews.

The truth is that an entire generation has grown up more or less disconnected from the Christian past of the West, and that activists must fight tooth and nail to educate the public on each and every issue. We see what happens when massive educational efforts are undertaken: On abortion, we are not losing ground—and even under the most pro-abortion president in American history, over 300 laws were passed on the state level. Pornography, while still prevalent, is now attracting the ire of government bodies across the West who are recognizing it for the public health crisis it is. Social conservatism as a worldview may be on the fringe, but there are many, many opportunities to change that.

Here Van Maren recognizes that kids have grown up in a non-Christian world; so why the surprise at the poll results?  His faith in the “raw data” of the poll is misplaced. Polling isn’t exactly a hard or perfect science (anyone remember 2016?).  Who’s to say we really should trust a poll’s conclusions over our own observations or the anecdotal evidence presented by someone else?  Then he talks about millennials, but Milo isn’t talking about millennials; he’s talking about the next, even younger generation. It can also be noted that Milo specially said he didn’t have any proof, any hard data for his hopeful statement, but that it came from his experience of meeting and talking to, and receiving messages from young people.  Milo isn’t the only person who has noted this trend of the younger generation leaning more conservative.

Even the one place where Van Maren strikes a hopeful, positive tone, he’s probably at least partly wrong.  You can understand why, being part of the pro-life movement, he would be quick to attribute the lessening support for abortion to the efforts of the prolifers.  I hope he’s right that all those efforts have helped, that education does help. But there’s something else powerful that is influencing young people to turn conservative: they have seen and felt the consequences of their parents and others leading a life without conservative morals or standards.  They may be the unwanted children of selfish parents, the products of divorce or homes where they never had two parents to begin with.  They may have seen older siblings or relatives or friends make terrible choices and suffer for them.  Those with eyes to see can see the wreckage caused by abandoning traditional morals.  And the liberals, feeling assured of victory, have turned up the heat too fast; things they are pushing for are so obviously against nature that people with will to think for themselves can see we are headed in the wrong direction.  But cultural trends do not reverse directions overnight.  The problems we are seeing today began long before Van Maren was born.  Some would argue they began even before his parents were born.

Van Maren himself is a contradiction to this poll.  He’s young, conservative, Catholic, pro-life and fighting for it.  And surely he works alongside other young people.

Other than being overly pessimistic and incorrect in his interpretation how we are losing the culture war — rather we have already lost, but perhaps have hope of rebuilding from the ashes — he is wrong about Milo.  Previously, I had noticed that he was particularly critical of Milo (and the Alt-Right) as unacceptable for Christians to follow.  He objects to Milo’s lifestyle, vulgar humor, and that he isn’t very nice to people.  Van Maren also tends to exaggerate Milo’s behavior (can you believe that’s possible?!): Milo’s re-launch party, as aired on youtube (surely Van Maren didn’t have an invitation?), did not have “male and female strippers.”  Milo calls them “models” for his photo shoot, and they are scantily, and one might say tastelessly, clad (and waving prop guns around), but they do not strip any clothes off which I think would be the definition of “stripper.”  They might be strippers elsewhere, I don’t know, but at Milo’s party they were just eye candy — which is problematic in its own way, but let’s not over-exaggerate things.

I was surprised to see Van Maren had actually attended a Milo speech so I read what he had to say about it.  It was the same old attitude so many on the Right have towards those they deem impure.  They are like Pharisees who don’t want to associate with sinners for fear of contaminating themselves.  Milo is definitely a sinner, but Jesus frequently ate with and talked to sinners.  Jesus did not worry about being made unclean.  God often uses sinners and unlikely people to carry out His work, sometimes even people who do not know Him.

It doesn’t matter to Milo’s critics on the Right if he is effective or that we really need to reach people where they are — and where they are isn’t necessarily ready to listen to Christian moralizing or preaching.  Milo has a point about reaching people with humor and fun (even if he does take it a bit too far at times); humor and fun are attractive, especially to young people.  Free speech, for which Milo has made himself a standard bearer, is an important battle.  If Christians are silenced completely, there will be no chance of educating people or changing hearts and minds through dialogue.  Milo is an ally in that battle, even if he is a public sinner.

Offense Taking is Immature

I’m not sure I understand exactly what our obligation to “not give offense” is when everyone is hair-trigger offended all the time.  But the rest is interesting.

“Being offended is a sign of immaturity because it’s an unwillingness to acknowledge and live in the truth”

“To choose to be offended is to choose to be a victim”

Is old film the answer to forming our children’s imaginations?

Anthony Esolen thinks so.  Our children need not just our example or direct teaching to form their imagination and moral sense, but good art, including film.  If it isn’t explicitly religious or moralizing, all the better.

Why the Miley Cyrus generation needs the old movies…urgently:

For I find this black mark impinge the man,
   
That he believes in just the vile of life.
   
Low instinct, base pretension, are these truth?
                   
– Robert Browning, from The Ring and the Book

…we should welcome our allies wherever we may find them, particularly among the creators of films that celebrate marriage and innocent life, piety and faithfulness, before such things became controversial. The unconscious witness of people who are not party to our current confusion can be most powerful indeed. A film like Penny Serenade, about a marriage that hangs by a thread, between a good man who is a failure at work and a good woman who cannot bear children, has more to say to us about not tearing asunder what God has joined together, than any number of lectures in theology…

Here someone will object that the people who made those films were often not at all pious. Some of them did things that, if you knew about them, would make it almost impossible for you ever again to take any pleasure in their work. What then separates them from the people who make films now? Aren’t they all sinners like the rest of us? And cannot bad people make great art?

Yes and no. There are sinners who feel the pain of their sin because they acknowledge how far they fall short of the glory of God. That might have described the hard-drinking, fist-throwing Catholic director, John Ford; and the womanizing Gary Cooper, who became a Catholic shortly before he died, partly because of the example of Ford. But then there are sinners who are numb to their sin, because they no longer acknowledge the glory of God. They are like the wicked man whom Robert Browning’s pope describes in the quote above. They believe “in just the vile of life.” For them, all piety is sanctimony, all patriotism is bigotry, all chastity is prudishness, all innocence is naïveté, all tradition is hide-bound, all judgment is arbitrary, and all love is but selfishness with sugar.

Such people cannot make great art. They can be a part of great works of art only to the extent that they are borne up by the faith of better people around them. They cannot otherwise raise themselves out of the mud…

We wish not only to tell our children what the truth is, but to show it to them. This we can do by the example of our lives, but because children so often feel the need to place some distance between themselves and their parents, if only to win their separate identities, we must turn to others to confirm that truth. We can do much on our own to form their memories. We can do little on our own to form their imaginations. That is what good art and great art are for.

We cannot hand over their imaginative catechesis to people who, en masse, reject or despise our trust in God and in the coherence and beauty of the nature which God has created and sustains. That is not because they are bad people. As people they may be much better than their principles. It is because their principles are bad; the well is bad from the source…

And since, for most people, imagination leads and reason follows, we are fooling ourselves if we think we can ignore it. The forming of the imagination is not a part of a Christian education. It is a Christian education.

That does not mean that we turn to specifically religious art. Again, a religious vision of the world often strikes home more powerfully when it is like the fresh air, or like health…

But I hear an objection: “Our children cannot watch the old movies!” Their attention wanders if they are not regularly needled and sparked by noise, a visual and aural and neural overload, an induced Saint Vitus’ dance. If that is true, their imaginations need more than formation. They need healing.

Education and the Benedict Option

Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option has received a good deal of commentary recently.   Certainly we are living in post-Christian times.  This review makes me more interested in reading it.

In Fearing Dreher: Why the Benedict Option Scares Christians, Thomas Ascik writes:

But it is most interesting that Mr. Dreher barely talks about the curriculum of public elementary and secondary schools. He emphasizes, instead, the peer culture of the school environment. Christian parents may try very hard, but everything can be undone by “the toxic peer culture” of public schools. In addition, the parents themselves may neither understand nor be capable of resisting. The effects are pervasive. Mr. Dreher quotes communications to him from parents of children in public schools who describe the startling number of public-school students who have come to believe that that they are transgender or bisexual. In the bluntest statement of his whole book, and one aimed directly at Christian parents, Mr. Dreher asserts that “two or three hours of religious education weekly is unlikely to counteract the forty or more hours spent in school or school-related programming.” The conclusion: Christian parents should remove their children from public schools.

A senior in a large public high school located in a major western city recently told this reviewer that he did not know any Christians at his school. Now, since there are obviously students there who are Christians, that means that the Christian students never identify themselves as Christians nor say or do anything identifiably Christian. Plainly, those students think that a public school is not an environment where it is appropriate or even permissible to be an open Christian. So, we may ask, if you never express who you really are, aren’t you inevitably changing who you really are?

***

In order to combine Christian education with an education in the liberal learning of Western civilization, Mr. Dreher endorses the classical Christian school movement and gives both Catholic and Evangelical examples. If such schools are too expensive or not available, the alternative is to homeschool.

I couldn’t agree more that the public schools in our country are a disaster and the best thing you could do for your kids is to keep them out.  Here are a couple recent examples of the sort of negative influences in school he’s talking about.

A Florida teacher demanded her 9th grade student remove a cross necklace that she was wearing.  The teacher’s room is full of LGBT posters and rainbows.  She’s allowed to proselytize the kids, but the kids can’t even wear a symbol of their faith?  Although the girl obeyed the teacher’s demand at the time, she and her parents aren’t taking this without a fight:

Together with her attorneys, this brave ninth grader is asking for the right to express her faith, which is already guaranteed to her by the Constitution. Students should never have to check their beliefs at the school house door — or anywhere else for that matter.

Emily Zinos writes “A ‘transgender’ kindergartner registered at my kids’ school. That’s when the madness began.”  She goes on to describe what happened in her school district: the school’s attempts at accommodation, the “trans” kid’s parents suing anyway, school sponsored meetings telling the rest of the parents they had to comply and when these parents funded a meeting to counterpoint the school’s presentation, “Well over a hundred local pro-LGBTQ protesters came to the presentation, prompting the local police to send a sergeant and two patrolling squads as protection.”  Because tolerance, folks!

The rest of Ms. Zinos’ article is interesting, especially that a group of feminists has joined the fight against transgender activism because of common ground of ensuring the rights of biological women.  Here is her conclusion about what’s happening in the schools:

institutionalizing gender ideology will require that schools ignore the evidence that it causes real harm to children. You can’t extol the virtues of gender ideology and question its soundness at the same time. By celebrating transgenderism as a valid identity, schools are promoting a body-mind disconnect that may very well bring on the gender dysphoric state they were attempting to prevent. And when the widely accepted “affirmative” medical treatments of gender dysphoria in children are both poorly studied and glaringly injurious, we have nothing to celebrate.

We’re building a school-to-gender-clinic pipeline that will feed this new pediatric specialty with young patients. There are now more than thirty gender clinics specializing in youth across the United States, and the young patients who are under their care are often given bone-destroying puberty blockers at eleven, potentially sterilized with cross-sex hormones at sixteen, and permanently mutilated by plastic surgery soon after that.

Make no mistake, schools that endorse and celebrate transgenderism as valid are endorsing child abuse.

Given examples like those (and those are only two, only the tip of the ice berg where trans-issues are but one problem among many), I’d say Dreher isn’t wrong about the state of education in America.  He also opines that most of the American colleges may be beyond saving – unless they are replaced by truer places of secondary learning.  What about his other ideas?

Mr. Dreher, who visited the Benedictine monastery at Nursia, Italy, in preparing his book, holds that the Rule is a “manual of practices, and its precepts simple and “plain enough to be adapted by lay Christians for their own use.” He derives eight main principles from the Rule and states why each would literally be a godsend for Christians in the modern, secular world. Against the disorder and loss of tradition of the modern world, the first principle is that it is order—ordered daily life, rather than today’s randomness—that sets the stage for “internal order.”

The second is prayer. “Prayer is the life of the soul,” Mr. Dreher quotes a Benedictine monk, and time must be set aside for it. The monastic emphasis on regular, daily prayer is the precisely needed antidote to the maniacal busyness of the contemporary world. Echoing the standard understanding of the role of prayer in Christian life, Mr. Dreher suggests that “if we spend all our time in activity, even when that activity serves Christ, and neglect prayer and contemplation, we put our faith in danger.”

Third, against the intellectualizing of everything today, Benedict’s Rule understands that the involvement of the body in manual labor is an essential part of human work. Again, Christians today, having been forced out of some of the professions, may have to resort to more labor by hand, Mr. Dreher concludes.

Fourth, contrary to the supreme modern principle of satisfying one’s own desires, “relearning asceticism—that is, how to suffer for the faith—is critical training for Christians living in the world today and the world of the near future.”

Fifth, even that most monastic principle of stability—that is, staying in one place—has some relevance to lay Christians, for what is the overall benefit of our constant mobility?

Sixth is community, the human architecture of a monastery, but also of a family, a neighborhood, a city, a society, and a polity. We readers might add to Mr. Dreher’s analysis the observation that we now increasingly live without a sense of shared life, without a “collective consciousness,” as Emile Durkheim put it. We are “free, equal, and independent,” but, pace John Locke, we are alone.

Seventh, contrary to Mr. Dreher’s critics and to a true understanding of the Rule, hospitality is a daily duty not only of monastic life but also of lay Christian life. Pilgrims and visitors are to “be received like Christ.” But hospitality, like all the virtues, must be practiced with prudence and according to the other principles of the Rule. A visitor cannot disturb or disrupt the community.

Mr. Dreher adds an eighth principle—balance, partly derived from the Benedictines but also from his own reflection and observation. By being too strict, some Christian communities have fallen apart or become “cultlike.” On the other hand, since abandonment to the will of God is the goal, Christian communities cannot be based on “spiritual mediocrity.”

Coexist (with cows)

Religions should be able coexist you say?  What about when religions have diametrically opposed beliefs?  Like one thinks hamburger is great and the other thinks cows are sacred.

Muslim man dies after attack by cow vigilantes in India

A Muslim man has died after he was attacked by hundreds of vigilantes while transporting cows in India, police said Wednesday, as tensions rose over the slaughter of an animal Hindus consider sacred.

No arrests have yet been made, but police said they had registered a murder case over 55-year-old Pehlu Khan’s death in hospital on Monday, two days after a mob attacked his cattle truck on a highway in Alwar in the western state of Rajasthan.

At least six more people were injured when the truck was attacked by around 200 Hindu vigilantes, who police are still trying to identify.

But police also said they were preparing a case against the survivors of the attack, whom they suspect of trying to smuggle the cattle across state borders.

Cows are considered sacred in Hindu-majority India, where squads of vigilantes roam highways inspecting livestock trucks for any trace of the animal.

If someone really and truly believes something, it will change how they act.  And if someone believes that it’s wrong to kill cows but not wrong to kill people who kill cows, people is gonna get killed.  Modern society has been spoiled by Christianity because Christians tend to wring their hands and pray when someone does something they find abhorrent.  They don’t form mobs and wander around looking for people breaking Christian practices.

What Gender Used to Mean

It isn’t something you “choose” or can “change,”  Yes, the human species has two biological sexes that have innate differences — and that isn’t a bad thing.  What used to be common and unquestioned knowledge not so long ago, is today forgotten by so many. Mama Needs Coffee reminds us about The Beauty of Gender: Our Differences Aren’t Scary, They’re Beautiful (and Essential):

Male and female created he them; and blessed them… – Genesis 5:2

This morning I was strolling a leisurely stroll on the treadmill and enjoying 45 minutes of toddler downtime (thanks, Brandy in kids club) when my eyes drifted to the newsfeed on the bottom of my tv screen where a “breaking news” alert was scrolling.

What constitutes breaking news in 2017? That’s a loaded question. But for this local ABC affiliate station, the answer was “Australia considering banning fairy tales from schools.” I rolled my eyes into my frontal lobe because probably it was offensive to real witches and living fairy godmothers, all that questionable detail Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, etc. go into about their lives and various motivations and ways of being.

But, no.

Apparently, it’s because fairy tales “encourage outdated gender norms” and that children “as young as four” are reportedly manifesting “gender biasing behaviors” in their play and make believe…

 

First of all, kids as young as four display “gender biasing behaviors” because children as young as age four do, in fact, have genders.

Fetuses, it turns out, also have genders… And gender – in parlance common up until just a few short years ago – was basically interchangeable with “sex” – and nobody was going to bat an eye or shred an admission form over it.

Children, like the rest of us, are male or female, and as such, they typically exhibit a few characteristic (but not exclusive) behaviors common to their gender. Boys, for example, as anyone who has ever birthed, raised, or even tangentially known one, are loud and they are intensely physical. Not all boys and not all the time, but overall, there is a certain exuberance that belongs to the male sex that is right and beautiful.

These boys will become men who lend their strong voices to the pursuit of truth and goodness. They will speak up for what is right, and they will take action to defy evil when they see it. Because that is what men are designed to do. Men are action-takers and pursuers of truth by nature. They image God in their strength, both physical and moral. And that is beautiful. (And does not, incidentally, exclude women from being action takers and pursuers of truth.)

***

We are foolish when we typecast certain “behaviors” into rigid gender norms and then insist that our children refrain at all cost from manifesting them, should they match up in a way we are currently collectively frowning upon.

What good is there to be gained by discouraging a boy from expressing strength and courage on the playground, whether he is shouting down a bully or rallying his friends to the winning kickball run? And what good is served in correcting a girl who longs to be told that she is beautiful – who in fact has a profound and fundamentally good desire to be affirmed in her beauty on a soul-deep level – that she ought not be concerned with something so trivial or vain?

Conversely, if a boy enjoys cooking and art and a girl is an absolute terror on the lacrosse field, these, too, are good and beautiful manifestations of their particular individual giftedness. This does not indicate a confused or wrongly-assigned gender, but normal and healthy diversity in this thing that we call being human.

Being a mother is intractably a female role; being a hairdresser is not.

While the world frets on about the sexism of fairy tales, about girls dreaming of true love and affirmed beauty, and boys about vanquishing dragons and journeying into uncharted territories, I’ll be sitting here reading Cinderella and the Chronicles of Narnia to all of them, male and female alike. And they will perhaps get different things from the same story. They will perhaps encounter it with their male or female minds and focus on particular aspects which attract or repel them, and that will be fine. That will be good.

Our differences are our strengths, and denying the intricate design of the complementarity between the sexes is to deface the image of the Creator Himself.

Some Cultures Deserve to be Destroyed

History, like life, is a complicated thing.  The more one tries to simplify it, the more inaccurate the story becomes.  A recent trend in the presentation of the history of the New World, the Americas, is the idealization of the indigenous cultures.  The politically correct version contains a great deal of revisionism and applies today’s standards backwards onto people who lived in a very different time and place — well, as you will see, they’re only applying moral standards onto one group of people: the Europeans. Another instance of Moral Relativism at work, and the result isn’t very pretty.

When studying the discovery and conquest of Central and South America by Spain and Portugal, the more recent presentations tend to focus on the cruelty of the Europeans and the “tragic” loss of the “advanced” cultures of the Mayan, Aztec and Inca (among other lesser known tribes).  While abuses by the Conquistadors are undoubtedly true to some extent, to what extent is difficult to determine considering that even at the time there were numerous forces working to paint Spain, in particular, as evil.  This propaganda is referred to as the “Black Legend.”  It was politically and religiously (by Protestants), useful to depict the Spaniards as immoral, greedy hypocrites.  Today of course all European colonization of Native cultures and lands is seen as despicable.

If it is wrong to idealize the conquerors as primarily intention-ed to bring Christianity to the natives and be kind in doing so, it is also wrong to demonize them all as selfish and cruel.  Many holy men (Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, etc.) accompanied the explorers with the intent of converting the native peoples — not forcibly, but with persuasion. Often these priests and monks lost their lives.  When abuses of the soldiers were made known to leaders of State and Church in Europe, they were denounced and those in the New World were admonished to cease their cruelty.  Events “prompted Pope Paul III in 1537 to issue the bull Sublimis Deus in which he declared: ‘The said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ.'”

One must also remember that the majority of the Europeans in the New World were hardened soldiers.  Theirs was of necessity a brutal existence.  To make the journey and explore lands that were wild and unfamiliar to them, they had to endure much hardship. They were all at least minimally Christian, being immersed in European Christian morality, if not actually practicing it well.  What they discovered in the New World was so horrifying that we might excuse at least some of their supposed brutality in response.

When Hernando Cortez and his forces encountered the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan — a city on a partially man-made island in Lake Texacoco — they were amazed by its beauty, sophistication and cleanliness.  There were paved streets and numerous canals laid out in an orderly fashion and intricate carvings and designs.  They were welcomed with gifts by the natives who were so astonished by the arrival of these strange beings that they suspected they were gods (this belief was influenced by the fact that their calendar was predicting an important god return to the city that year).  Then, and imagine their shock, they discovered in the temple district that the stairs and walls and statues were liberally splashed with blood, so much blood that one description speaks of the stench of decay.  And the evidence of human sacrifice, walls of skulls for decoration. They would later learn that the Aztecs sacrificed tens of thousands of people every year. Can you imagine how you might have felt in their position?  It is the stuff of stories indeed: one discovers a fantastic new civilization, appearing quite advanced and civilized in fact, only to later uncover the horrible truth of the underlying savagery.  I wonder if when faced with such horrendous evil, it might be understandable if a person might “go off the deep end” a little and react by trying to wipe these frightening and inhuman practices out by any means necessary?

The Aztecs are the most well-known for their fierce fighting and warring and love of human sacrifice, but the Mayans, who predate them, and many other lesser tribes, whether enemies of the Aztecs or allies, were also fond of such blood-shed.  The Incas of Peru, who I have seen described as mostly “peaceful,” were especially fond of child sacrifice.  There is archaeological evidence that captured Spaniards and indigenous allies were used for sacrifice (and possibly cannibalized), which should come as no surprise since that was the typical fate of captured enemies.

Older historical resources tend to have a harsher presentation of these realities, while newer ones skim over the human sacrifice bit and focus on the other interesting bits of culture: art, astronomy, architecture and technological advances, and lament the loss of these cultures at the hands of the Europeans.  I’m not sure if all the other “advances” or “achievements” account for much when the culture’s core is so rotten. How can I appreciate the interesting statues and carvings when many of them represent blood-thirsty gods with insatiable desire “to eat” hearts ripped still-beating from living people, that these images were once deliberately splattered with human blood?  Can we “appreciate” such “art?”  Is it morally acceptable to “celebrate” such cultures or mourn their demise?

One presentation I heard said basically “that’s what worked for them and that’s all that matters.”  Can we not see what is evil any more?  How can those practices ever be ok? People who think this way have no imaginations.  How would they have liked actually living in those times?  How would they have liked being “chosen” as a sacrifice or having their child chosen?  Moral relativism and modern inconsistency leads to harsh criticism of the Europeans for their conquest of natives, but refrains from condemning human sacrifice.

I am glad that the dominant civilizations of ancient Central and South America were wiped out!  The barbarity and cruelty of their religious practices make it difficult for me to summon up sympathy towards these peoples or condemnation for the Europeans who ultimately destroyed their cultures.  It takes a Saint to respond with kindness and compassion.  In 1987, then Pope John Paul II spoke to a gathering of Native Americans in Arizona:

“The early encounter between your traditional cultures and the European way of life was an event of such significance and change that it profoundly influences your collective life even today. That encounter was a harsh and painful reality for your peoples. The cultural oppression, the injustices, the disruption of your life and of your traditional societies must be acknowledged. At the same time, in order to be objective, history must record the deeply positive aspects of your people’s encounter with the culture that came from Europe. Among these positive aspects I wish to recall the work of the many missionaries who strenuously defended the rights of the original inhabitants of this land. They established missions throughout this southwestern part of the United States. They worked to improve living conditions and set up educational systems, learning your languages in order to do so. Above all, they proclaimed the Good News of salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ, an essential part of which is that all men and women are equally children of God and must be respected and loved as such. This gospel of Jesus Christ is today, and will remain forever, the greatest pride and possession of your people.”

Note that he was speaking to North American natives who weren’t infamous for their love of human sacrifice.  I doubt “disruption of your life and of your traditional societies” would be considered a bad thing morally speaking, even if it was perceived as a negative by the people themselves, when that traditional society included human sacrifice.  However, the good results of European conquest apply to those natives as well or one might argue even more so.