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Sometimes it seems there’s a kind of cosmic mind-meld going on in the world. This past week was one of those times. It started with Andrew Klavan’s final thoughts on episode 790 of his podcast and ended in the Amazon (synod) in the Church, after passing through a contentious debate about feminism between a Catholic apologist and a Catholic professor of philosophy and theology. You can’t make this stuff up.
But, while we’d like to think the society that hates women is some foreign nation of macho-men where women are covered in black baggies from head to toe (and utterly dehumanized) and aren’t permitted to drive or even leave the house without a male member of the family as escort, I’m talking about our society. Right here, in the good ole US of A, and the West more broadly.
It’s so important, I’ve transcribed Klavan’s soliloquy in its entirety:
A lot of horror movies are based on a horror of women and the changes their bodies go through. The Exorcist is about a young girl coming of age. It’s really about a girl becoming a woman and it’s kind of a horrifying thing that she becomes sexualized. The Omen is about having a baby. Rosemary’s Baby is about pregnancy. Women and the changes their bodies go through provide a certain amount of horror. And not just in the minds of men, but I think in the minds of everybody, there’s something about that can be turned to horror.
That horror — I think we’re going through a moment of sexual psychopathy. This idea that somehow it’s alright to butcher a child, to give a child hormone blockers, and basically chemically castrate little boys and things like this. Where is the science on this? Where are the longitudinal studies saying that a child who says something at nine, or ten, or fifteen is going to think the same things when he or she is twenty-five? Where is the science? How can we possibly do this? And underlying it is a terror of women. A horror of women.
You know, this idea that men… there’s a new ad company putting out ads for men’s underwear that suggests that men can have periods, so that, like, women don’t even exist. In Britain they ban ads that show women raising children because they think that somehow degrades them, that women raise children, that women make homes for things. It used to be, you know, we had this idea that women were doing something higher than men were doing. It was higher even than the pay that men got. And, yeah, there were men who took advantage of that and men who took advantage of the sacrificial nature of motherhood and the sacrificial nature of homemaking… there were men who mistreated women for that. But, the idea that it is somehow degrading to be a woman has seeped into our society. And that’s what all of this is about. It’s not about freedom, it’s not about, oh, taking care of transgender people. I have no animosity toward them whatsoever.
It’s not about any of that. It’s about a horror of women and not allowing women to be women. If you’re a man, you’re allowed to go and compete, as long as you wear a dress, man, you can go in and compete with them in sports so they have no chance of winning. Oh, yeah, women don’t — not just women have periods, not just women have babies, men do these things too! It is basically an erasure of women. An idea that the things women naturally do and the things that women naturally turn to are somehow degrading. And I just think it is absolutely psychopathological. It’s a kind of sickness that we’re going through. A kind of sexual sickness that is a side effect of the sexual liberation of people, which is not liberating at all.
While I agree with most of that, I think even Klavan gets some things wrong about how women are viewed. More on that later.
Meanwhile, our erstwhile Catholic brothers, Trent Horn and Tim Gordon, were so opposed to the ideas of feminism, you’d have thought they’d start another war of religion! Tim Gordon is writing a book (No Christian Feminism) in which his research has shown that even first-wave feminism was really about getting women out of the home and into the workplace and encouraging sexual promiscuity in both women and men. It was ultimately about the destruction of the family, which explains the Marxist/socialist vibe in feminism today. “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” — Mussolini
But, I think the nub of the argument they failed to fully articulate is the opposition to, even disgust with, the nature of women. Women want provisions and protection from a good man, to be cherished for their unique vulnerability as women. I’m generalizing, of course, but I’m also speaking from experience, having reached adulthood in the post-sexual revolution era and having once bought into the lies of feminism. Namely, that women only reach their full potential by acting more like men.
All of this eventually gets Biblical. Doesn’t everything? After all, we’re discussing created beings and, as such, the purpose, or nature of things. The nature of men and women is revealed in the punishments for Original Sin in Genesis, Chapter 3:
To the woman he said:
I will intensify your toil in childbearing;
in pain* you shall bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.
To the man he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, You shall not eat from it,
Cursed is the ground* because of you!
In toil you shall eat its yield
all the days of your life.h
Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you,
and you shall eat the grass of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you shall eat bread,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.i
What is God telling us about the nature of men and women here? That women desire to be wives and mothers, despite the suffering and sacrifice entailed. That is their end as women. And that men desire to provide and protect their families by the sweat of their brows; by labor outside the home, despite the suffering and sacrifice it involves. This is the division of labor provided in the nature of the sexes, and we’ve discovered what happens when society messes with nature: everyone is immiserated. “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” isn’t just a pithy aphorism. It’s a deep-seated truth!
Now, I have libertarian sympathies like most conservatives, so I’m not advocating women be banned from the workplace. I believe people should be permitted to make choices (other than killing innocents to solve their problems) even if they’re bad ones. I’m just advocating for a recognition of the damage our societal choices have done and are doing. Despite our history-making prosperity and previously unimagined opportunities for women, women are increasingly unhappy. And it’s no wonder. Unless they’re behaving like men by competing in the workplace and receiving recognition for their achievements, they’re disdained by society. They better not be staying home and baking cookies, as Hillary Clinton once sneered. What a waste of life!
Which brings me back to where Andrew Klavan is wrong about how women are viewed — particularly in the Catholic teaching of the Virgin Mary. Klavan disagrees with Catholic teaching about the perpetual virginity of Mary because (paraphrased) “denying her sexuality is a poor model for a good wife.” Well, now, it depends on whose spouse you believe she is, I would say. She conceived in an act of spiritual intimacy with the Holy Spirit. She is the daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son, and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was her earthly husband-figure and is revered for the sacrifices he made on behalf of the Holy Family, including his own chastity. Klavan’s position implies that it isn’t enough for Mary to be the Mother of God and the Spouse of the Spirit, just like it isn’t enough for women generally to be mother and wife, to form the next generation and make a welcoming home for her husband. That’s precisely the message women have been getting since the widespread acceptance of contraception and abortion. It’s the lie of sexual liberation and the misunderstanding of the potential for chastity within marriage (whether Josephite or not) provided by the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit.
This is playing out in the Catholic Church under the papacy of Francis, too. In the recently concluded Amazon Synod (really a cover for heterodox German Catholics to taint Church teachings with progressivism), there was widespread agreement among the hand-picked progressive participants that what the Amazon region really needs is deaconesses (and married priests… another whole story). Message received; it’s not enough for women to lead faithful lives as wives and mothers, or to dedicate themselves to the Church as religious women. We won’t realize our full potential until we achieve the status previously reserved for men by receiving Holy Orders. Be more like men, ladies! That’s where it’s at! Up next? Priestesses. Bank on it.
None of this begins to address what has happened to men in the new normal of sexual psychopathology. Just note the lack of bass voices among young men you hear in the media. Or the disrespect manly men receive as “toxic” masculine. Or the ongoing fight for men’s right to their own children after divorce.
I don’t have much hope for a return to sexual sanity anytime soon. I just hold on to the reminder from our Catholic friend, Mate De: Jesus is in the boat. The storm may rage around us, but we just have to hold fast and keep praying for him to wake up and save us from ourselves.
“It is plain every great change is effected by the few, not by the many; by the resolute, undaunted, zealous few. … shunning all intemperate words, let us show our light before men by our works.” St. John Henry Newman
I dunno, but this admonishment for the clergy might also pertain to politics. Ahem. (Yes, yes, I know Trump is not the best shunner of intemperate words, but his works on our behalf seem pretty solid. And he fights — resolutely, undauntedly, and zealously.)
Cardinal John Henry Newman was formally declared a saint Sunday in Rome. For those who don’t know, the designation of sainthood is given to people believed to be living eternally with the Beatific Vision in Heaven. These are the Catholic Church’s named saints, but many more unnamed saints make up the “communion of saints” we profess in our creed.
The saint’s life of virtue is what first brings him to the Church’s attention, after which his cause undergoes a rigorous process of investigation which can take decades or centuries. In order to prove his heavenly post at the Throne of God, he must have been shown to intercede in two authenticated miracles. Cardinal John Henry Newman’s cause was taken up after his death in 1890 and came to its fruition today.
More of Newman’s wisdom:
“She [the Church] fights and she suffers, in proportion as she plays her part well; and if she is without suffering, it is because she is slumbering. Her doctrines and precepts never can be palatable to the world; and if the world does not persecute, it is because she does not preach.”
Something to remember in these contentious times. If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not trying.
I’ve been hanging around Hillsdale’s campus for nearly a month now. I’ve enjoyed watching workers put the finishing touches on Christ Chapel, which is due to be dedicated by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on October 3rd during the 175th Gala celebration of Hillsdale’s founding. I also attended the Center for Constructive Alternatives (CCA) seminar on Understanding China. As you might expect, the CCA is where you meet the best of America in the speakers, attendees, and ideas. For example, I was able to greet and sit next to Ricochet contributor Professor and Mrs. Rahe at the closing address by Steven Mosher. I often say, being in Hillsdale is like going on a religious pilgrimage. It lifts you up and gives you hope, this little outpost of Western civilization.
In answer to my title question, I would guess Hillsdale’s conservative students are busy studying and excelling in faith, athletics, music, and the visual arts. But, the one place they’re missing is The Collegian newspaper opinion pages.
It’s not that there are no conservative voices, but, if you think Hillsdale’s student body is uniformly conservative, the opinion pages are where you’re disabused of the notion. Of the eight editorials in last week’s paper (all but one of which are written by the paper’s staff), two are supportive of conservative principles: Labeling NRA won’t stop mass shootings, teaching respect will; and US, Europe shouldn’t strike new deal with Iran. I don’t think it’s just me who would say these are the best reasoned and convincing, but I admit I may be experiencing confirmation bias.
Three of the submissions are neutral or apolitical: The Weekly: More Parking, Please, by the editorial staff; Remembering 9/11: America must remain strong, unified; and 9/11 trial date set decades too late: Due process important for victims and their families. The first is what it seems — a plea to address the age-old problem of parking around campuses. I wonder if the same complaint was lodged at the school’s founding for horse and buggies. The latter two are calls for America to stand up to its ideals. Only the Left will argue with national unity and timely due process (although, I’m not sure the principle should apply to enemy combatants — a debate for another day).
The remaining three editorials are attempts to advance and advise the Democrat Party: DNC primary rules lack transparency; Invite Pete Buttigieg to speak on campus, by the president of the College Democrats; and Impeachment proceedings could backfire for Dems. It’s tempting to pick apart these pieces, but that’s not my aim here.
I assert The Collegian’s opinion pages are a microcosm of the Left/Right differences today. The Left is actively engaged in politics and consciously makes an effort to dominate information outlets. The Right is either a) too busy living the “good life,” b) too cowed by political correctness (which is the opposite of truth and liberty), c) presumptuous about the continuation of our liberties, or d) indifferent to politics. This criticism is intended to goose “friends of the founding” (Klavan’s phrase) into action.
Hillsdale’s highly analytic and exceptionally well-educated conservatives should have a major presence on the opinion page, at a minimum. The three left-leaning editorials should be rebutted and refuted.
Donald Trump’s erratic governance? I understand not everyone enjoys his behavior, but you’re going to have to provide examples of “erratic governance.” Business, industry, and the stock market beg to differ. I suspect the coming general election campaign will be economically disruptive because of the uncertainty of its outcome. If Democrats manage to pull off a victory, the economic players will once again face a rule-of-man(woman?) capricious administration like Barack Obama’s, which had, what? Seven or nine of its rulings overturned at the Supreme Court?
And, guess what? Democrats shouldn’t impeach Donald Trump because they have no ground for doing so! Not because it will hurt them at the polls (which, if it happens, will be richly deserved for neglecting the business of the people). You don’t get to impeach and remove a duly elected president because his private behavior repulses you or you don’t like his policies. That is antithetical to our constitutional republic and positively undemocratic.
Buttigieg shares Hillsdale College’s devotion to freedom? I don’t think so. The Left’s sine qua non is “equality,” not liberty, with which it is in constant tension. Equality, in postmodern parlance, refers to equal outcomes, not equal individual worth before God and the law. Pete Buttigieg betrays his devotion to leftism over Christianity by his “first breath” rule for protecting innocent life. Imagine a fully viable term-minus-one-month baby having her spinal cord severed or being poisoned to death because her mother doesn’t want her and she hasn’t taken her first breath — and then tell me about Pete Buttigieg’s Christian beliefs in a Creator God. I don’t disagree with inviting him to speak at Hillsdale, but I’m dubious he would come. He’s not going to sway the unbelievers (in progressivism) here with such twisted reasoning. It’s a waste of his time.
Tulsi Gabbard says the DNC primary process lacks transparency? That’s what we call a feature of progressivism, not a bug. The whole project is about putting people in power who just know better what’s good for you. Democrat voters haven’t noticed how arbitrary their movement is? How what is right and good is a constantly shifting target based on the will and influence of the powerful? That explains a lot about the cultural chaos we’re experiencing.
Okay, I violated my own terms by picking apart these pieces. But, this shouldn’t be left to some mid-western, middle-aged, housewife. The kids at Hillsdale and most conservatives on this site are better prepared to make the conservative case. If we’re not getting our ideas into Hillsdale’s college newspaper, it does not bode well for the cause of truth and liberty.
Please consider joining The Gadfly Group and posting your editorials intended to influence local readers (subsidiarity, baby!) for advice and adjustments before submission. Or, even if your piece has already been published, please post in the group pour encourager les autres. Get busy pursuing truth and defending liberty, because the Left’s agenda is the opposite and it’s up to us to combat it wherever we’re able.
What would it take to get you back in the pews? I don’t want an argument about the existence of God. This post is for the “fallen away,” the backsliders, the indifferent, and uncommitted who otherwise believe God is out there and takes an interest in us.
I was in that camp for better than the first half of my life. In fact, I was a pretty strident atheist, believing religion was just a way for the patriarchy to get in our underwear, blah, blah, blah…
Having kids made a difference for me. And, that was before I knew my girls had serious health conditions. Something about being responsible for the next generation gave me pause about what I thought I knew. My political conversion to conservatism and religious reversion to (cradle-)Catholicism were gradual and coincidental.
First came my intellectual assent. I know some very smart people who say faith can’t be a matter of reason. I differ strongly. I figured if it was good enough for William F. Buckley and John Paul II (and, later, when I learned about Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine), maybe my comparatively little mind should give it a chance. I tried on a Christian denomination (Methodist), but, while I loved the people and felt welcomed, the lack of Sacraments didn’t suit me. I needed the full immersion of my senses — smells and bells.
I ended up in a large parish with a charismatic pastor who invited me to take up Bible study with a group of ladies on Tuesday mornings. I went in expecting to be underwhelmed by the experience. I thought, “none of these (older) gals were smart enough to be engineers (like me) and, so, they must be pretty simple-minded and have a simple faith.” The experience was humbling. Sure, there are some people of simple faith in Bible study, but that turned out to be inspiring in ways I couldn’t have imagined. And there was more than enough smarts and wisdom to go around. I couldn’t even find my way through the scripture references for the first two years, let alone put it all together in a way that made sense. These ladies had it down.
However, once it did start to come together for me, my intellectual assent strengthened. The concinnity of Catholic teaching on scripture was so impressive and harmonious, I stopped doubting (although, I didn’t stop questioning) and let the Church be my authority instead of claiming it for myself. End of step 1.
Then, life happened, and my need for God became urgent. I knew we might be in for some suffering when my youngest was born and we suspected she had Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (aka the Elephant Man disease). I had no idea just how much suffering we faced, and it’s not entirely over yet. Little Miss Anthrope’s brain tumor is still growing and she starts the new medication next week to try to shrink it. Prayers appreciated.
So now I’ve moved beyond assenting to the teachings to actual faith, in the sense of trusting God no matter the struggle. Jesus didn’t promise us a walk in the park — he told us to take up our crosses. Step 2 — trust in God to keep it real.
The reason for my writing this post is an interaction I recently had with an unintentionally estranged nephew (I have a lot of nieces and nephews — we don’t talk often). He put up a Facebook post in which he showed pictures of his three boys (twelve and under) receiving the Sacraments of Initiation in a church in Portugal. He asked his mom (one of my three sisters and three brothers) if any of his aunts and uncles still go to church. He was looking for godparents. I’m the only one out of the seven of us.
He explained his reversion came about after caring for his destitute mother-in-law while she was dying of cancer. He and his wife moved her into their home and saw her through to the end. It brought home to him the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. And he wanted his boys to have the faith of their fathers to help them face the inevitable. Step 3 — loyalty to religious heritage.
So, what might do it for you? I’m asking because I’m sad for my extended family (not that I doubt their salvation — that’s God’s turf) and for our civilization. Religion is hard because it makes moral demands. And because God makes moral demands, religion produces a better, stronger people. People who understand sacrifice and try to make the most out of suffering. People who are cognizant of and grateful to the faithful of previous generations. Religion provides a school of virtue, even though most every practitioner falls short at one time or another. Where do you get that in secular culture?
Why aren’t you going to church? Too busy? The kids need to get to soccer or hockey practice and who’s going to drive them? You just need a break from the hustle and bustle of work and life? C’mon. Give me a better reason.
Religious faith isn’t just between you and God. It’s a communal activity. We are formed and fortified by our time with God and each other. That’s why we have an obligation to attend church. At least, that’s what I believe. You? What would it take to get you back in the pews?
Second Amendment enthusiasts have been warning red flag laws hand the power to government to disarm the Left’s political opponents, similar to how Big Tech is undermining the First Amendment rights of right wingers. Kamala Harris’s proposed “domestic terrorism prevention order” is targeted at disarming “white nationalists.” And we conservatives are all white nationalists, doncha […]
Everyone is speculating on the recent spate of mass murders and the motives of the murderers. So, I figure you have the right to my opinion, too. My title is a bit of an exaggeration, but only a bit. The Left has had murderous intent toward Judeo-Christian Western civilization for decades.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!” If you’re of age, you remember this piece of (un)wisdom from the 1987 student protest at Stanford, but the sentiment is much older. In fact, it goes right back to The Beginning and rejection of a transcendent moral authority by Adam and Eve and, before them, Satan himself. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. How can we explain people who hold ostensibly “liberal” principles acting so illiberally as leftists do?
Quillette had an excellent explanation of Neutralization Theory using the case of Andy Ngo’s assault by “anti”-fa as an example in the article: Neutralizing Ngo: The Apologetics of Antifascist Street Violence. Some excerpts:
1. Denial of Responsibility: The Offender as Faultless for their (sic) Actions
… ‘ “It’s not a surprise a conservative writer was bloodied in a street brawl in Portland,” explains the standfirst to a piece at HuffPost, “far-right extremists have been freely hosting skirmishes there for years.” Implicit here is the idea that, because a skirmish has been “hosted,” the other side must participate, and that attacking a journalist somehow necessarily follows. Thus, it might safely be disregarded as mere distraction from what “really” went on.’
2. Denial of Injury: The Offense as Harmless
… ‘Others downplayed the assaults by emphasizing the milkshake and silly string elements, while reducing the rest to “a few punches” that “didn’t even knock him down,” or omitting it altogether. Some reduced Ngo’s injuries to “a few scratches and bruises,” while others speculated that the brain injury was a fabrication, based on as little as, for example, Ngo’s ability to send a tweet…’
3. Denial of Victimhood: Blaming the Victim
…’Others reached further back in time to characterize Ngo as a “doxxer” of Antifa members, an “Islamophobe” and “eugenicist,” who is responsible for a “kill list” of left-wing journalists, and so on. And, of course, some rationalized that he got what he deserved for being a “fascist”—a somewhat necessary connection to draw at some point, one supposes, when attempting to justify “antifascist” violence. However, its rhetorical utility runs deeper than simply drawing semantic congruence between the action and the target…’
[Speaking of “fascism”] ‘It is the (fittingly Orwellian) notion of “preemptive self-defense,” endlessly interpretable and applicable without the limitations of conventional language or logic, distilled down to a single epithet: “fascist.”’
4. Appeal to Higher Loyalties: A Wrongful Action Excused in the Service of a Greater Good
‘If antifascism can be vague—even deliberately so—about what it is against, it is murkier still about what it for. It is difficult to frame Ngo’s assault as just a broken egg for the sake of an omelet, when it isn’t clear what’s on the menu. However, as a creature of the Left and of modern society, it is important that antifascist actions are not framed as antagonistic to the values of the mainstream.
We might call this rationalization by demonization; or, moral dissonance resolution by delusion and denial. Lefties who proclaim the evils of “white privilege” and extol the virtues of Michael Brown (Ferguson’s “gentle giant”) will brutalize people of color for wearing a MAGA hat (ask Jahangir “John” Turan of Manhattan). Neutralization of that still small voice — a.k.a., conscience — is a necessary precondition for behaving so directly in opposition to one’s stated principles.
I’m attempting a psycho-social accounting and it’s difficult to express, but I’ll confess I hold the Left almost entirely responsible for our current condition. I give leftists more credit than some do. The lefties I know personally are highly intelligent, capable people. But, they’ve rejected the wisdom of the ages passed down through our Judeo-Christian cultural heritage and have embraced multiculturalism, identity politics, moral relativism, queer theory… whatever the demands of the latest lefty fad. Because they have no Yardstick by which to measure the good, the true, and the beautiful, and the inverse of those things, they’ve become their own, fully atomized moral arbiters. Moral chaos rules and isolation and disaffection are its handmaidens.
Everyone’s favorite atheist (now that Hitchens is dead), Sam Harris, goes so far as to argue that morality is grounded in science. He believes there is objective truth and natural moral laws which science affirms in observing the evidence of human and animal flourishing. But, who’s to say human flourishing is a good? Certainly not global warming alarmists who believe people are pollution — especially if they’re flourishing in advanced societies! Is it possible to be coherent, let alone objective, if you believe men and women are not only equal — they’re the same! Unless one is transgender, and then he’s totally a woman as distinct from a man.
The killers of El Paso and Dayton (and too many other locales) are living in a society which demonizes white males as racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist, intolerant, transphobic, and bigoted… until the next victim group comes along we can tag on. Should we be surprised some young men choose to live down to such standards? To become the despised and deplorable?
“Disaffection” may be my new favorite word to describe the phenomena. These mass killers show no affection for the people they’re living among. The semiautomatic rifles they use are a distraction from the moral rot at the heart of their actions. The Dayton shooter was the more obviously morally depraved of the two. He shot his best friend and his sister in the car they’d used to drive him to the scene. Is it any wonder he signed his emails #HailSatan? The El Paso shooter appears to break the outright demonic mold in that he feared outliving his murder spree because he cared that his family would despise him for it. He heard a whisper from that still small voice. And then he ignored it.
… your lefty professors or your lyin’ eyes?
The indoctrination is strong.
When he was exploring a run for the presidency in 2008, Biden famously said: “I will shove my rosary beads down the throat of any Republican who says I am not a Catholic.”
I stand in awe of Joe Biden as a fellow Roman Catholic. Never have I known a coreligionist so utterly immune to conscience in the pursuit of the awesome power of the presidency. Not even John Kerry. Or the Kennedys. Oh… never mind. I thank God we Catholics don’t have to claim the Clintons! My sympathies to the Baptists (Bill) and the Methodists, for whom Hillary Clinton once taught Sunday school. Ack! Get thee behind me Satan!!
The above quote is taken from Fr. George W. Rutler’s piece in Crisis Magazine titled, The Strange Case of Dr. Biden and Mr. Hyde, in which he “destroys” Joe Biden. No, really, I sound jokey, but you must read the whole thing. Here’s a teaser:
Biden was given an honorary doctorate from Trinity College, Dublin, in 2016, enriching his academic laurels which were tenuous after he placed 75 out of 86 in his Syracuse College of Law class, although he claimed to have been in the top half. But if politics is the art of the possible, one must expect artistic liberties. Drawing on, and perhaps exhausting, his information on Shakespeare, Biden said that his mistake regarding school grades, like his propensity for appropriating sources without attribution, is “much ado about nothing.” Academic rankings are not assurances of intelligence; in fact, Mr.—that is, Dr. Biden told a voter during a campaign stop in New Hampshire in 1987: “I think I probably have a much higher I.Q. than you.” Armed with such confidence, Biden has wrestled with his conscience like a Sumo wrestler, thudding against that “aboriginal vicar of Christ” and bouncing off. Free of constricting guilt, and unafraid of the foolish need for consistency which is the hobgoblin of those little minds with I.Q.’s less than his, Biden now presents himself to the public as a prodigy of rejuvenation. With hair thicker and teeth whiter, beyond the skill of frail Mother Nature, and armed with his lethal Rosary, he is ready to lead America like an eager Boy Scout helping an unwilling lady across the wrong street.
I don’t think I can add anything to that. Rutler has left Joe Biden standing naked in the public square, strategically clutching his Rosary beads and grinning that dopey Brite Wite grin.
In sadness, I note Henry Hyde (also Catholic) considered the Hyde Amendment his greatest achievement. Surely the Congressman knew that money is fungible and any tax dollars which go to Planned Parenthood for any reason are in support of abortion. The intention was good, but it’s the fruits that matter. How long, O Lord?
I do not write a weekly review for any publication. Ahem. I don’t even read a book a week (who are you people and don’t you have responsibilities?!). But, this book I finished in under a week — couldn’t put it down: Sohrab Ahmari’s From Fire by Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’d never heard of Ahmari until I heard him interviewed on Andrew Klavan’s podcast last week. He seems to have written for every conservative outlet (and some not so conservative) and he names a slew of prominent conservatives and small-o orthodox Catholics I’m familiar with in the acknowledgments, so I’m not sure how I missed him up until now. But, I found his story very relatable, although mine is a much humbler, more hidden life than his. I’ve always felt that I was “imprinted” on the Holy Spirit at Baptism, like a duckling to its mother (I know, the Church teaches it’s the Holy Spirit who does the imprinting, but you know what I mean). That’s the conscience part of my return to the faith of my parents — the irresistible pull toward beauty, goodness, and truth.
The reason part of me took longer to come around — a lot longer. I was a “pro-choice,” knee-jerk lefty (emphasis on jerk) from high school through engineering school (engineers have all the answers — pffft) up until after I had my firstborn at age thirty-six — when I finally started to doubt myself. I participated in similar drunken debauchery described by Ahmari in my first two years of college, but he definitely wins for scope and duration. I wasn’t intellectually-inclined enough to have read Nietzsche or Marx (still not) or to become a card-carrying Communist like Ahmari. Nor did I have an exotic background as an immigrant from a Muslim-dominant country (Iran). Mine was a lazy, unthinking atheist-leftism which, I suppose, makes my lost years worse in a sense (lukewarm) and my conversion to Christ less powerful than his. But, his experience of the Mass, and especially the recapitulation of Christ’s Passion in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, brought back memories of how I’d weep and tremble after receiving the Lord in Eucharist in the months after my return to communion with the Church. Here’s an excerpt:
Even at that moment, with my deep spiritual longing, there was a part of me that scoffed at the sacred mysteries. While a young guy with an acoustic guitar and a manbun led the parishioners in singing various hymns, the thought that crossed my mind was: You’re too smart for this. What if someone I knew spotted me? Then I would forever be counted among the ranks of these gullible saps. But all of a sudden, the singing and strumming dissolved into that all-encompassing serenity, and something extraordinary happened.
“On the night he was betrayed,” said the friar, “he took bread and gave thanks and praise. He broke the bread, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take this, all of you, and eat it, for this is my body which will be given up for you.'”
Then he held up with both hands a little white disk (I didn’t know it was bread), a bell rang out thrice, and I felt waves of peace wash over me. I was as still as a statue. Tears streamed from my eyes and down my face. These were tears neither of sadness nor even of happiness. They were tears of peace.
Now the friar held up a golden cup. The bell rang thrice more. My silent tears gave way to choked sobs. I was in the proximity of an awesome and mysterious force — a force bound up with sacrifice, with self-giving unto death, the idea that had made my heart tremble ever since I was a boy. I was aware, too, of my own abjection and smallness, which made me think that I didn’t belong in the presence of this holy thing. Not sixteen hours earlier, I had drunk myself into a stupor. I had willingly degraded myself. Now I dared to show up here? And yet, peace continued to radiate from the altar and from the friar’s words and hands. I covered my face and bent over in my pew. I did not kneel.
As Ahmari is leaving the church, he sees a photograph in the vestibule of Pope Benedict XVI smiling and waving to the audience in St. Peter’s square, which sets off another bout of weeping, and leads to a hilarious interchange with the friar who witnesses the whole thing. Ahmari again,
Of course, I knew that the pope wasn’t God! But then why had his picture brought tears to my eyes? It wasn’t so much who Benedict was — I had yet to read any of his writings — as what he stood for. For a twenty-three-year-old groping his way through the mess of modern life, and the mess he had made of his own life, Pope Benedict XVI stood for the principle of continuous, even absolute, authority — the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, in other words, which the pope embodied, and which shone through his portrait. I longed for stable authority as well as redemption.
This episode is not the end of Ahmari’s conversion story. He still needs to experience more human depravity in the form of the migrant smugglers’ trail from the Middle East to Europe by going undercover and infiltrating a group in Turkey with the help of a fellow Iranian who happens to be a Christian convert. It is the darkness of fallen human nature which finally convinces him of his need for God.
It’s a remarkable story. I recommend reading the whole thing.
Sohrab Ahmari is my new go-to conservative writer after reading the autobiographical story of his conversion from elite intellectual leftism to Catholic conservatism. My conversion was similarly simultaneously religious and political, though not as dramatic as his. Still, we share a worldview which he expresses much more eloquently than I ever could.
In his piece for First Things, Against David French-ism, he takes up a theme I have long considered sorely neglected by conservatives debating the culture wars: the necessity of asserting moral authority in the political realm, rather than adopting the modernist’s faith in individual autonomy. We must understand that, by living a Christian life, we already stand as a rebuke to the Left, which it aggressively will not tolerate.
Only, the libertines take the logic of maximal autonomy—the one French shares—to its logical terminus. They say, in effect: For us to feel fully autonomous, you must positively affirm our sexual choices, our transgression, our power to disfigure our natural bodies and redefine what it means to be human, lest your disapprobation make us feel less than fully autonomous.
They have a point: Individual experiments in living—say, taking your kids to a drag reading hour at the public library—cannot be sustained without some level of moral approval by the community. Autonomy-maximizing liberalism is normative, in its own twisted way. Thus, it represents the interiorization, and fulfillment, of French’s worldview. And this is how David French-ism gets trapped.
You want to teach your kids the sacredness of marriage and the marital act? Do you think public schools are going to let you get away with that? That’s insulting and bigoted toward the unwed parent(s) raising your kids’ classmates. Your stance in favor of the unborn is a hardship you impose on women who want to solve their problems with abortions. How dare you be so uncompassionate?? How does it hurt your marriage if everyone gets to define marriage according to his or her (or ze’s or zir’s) own appetites? Why not monagamish? Or throuples? Or wedlease? And who are you (we, the polis) to say?
I realize Ahmari and I are in dangerous waters with this argument. We’ll be accused of wanting to establish Catholicism as the state religion. Or, worse, a Catholic theocracy. I do not expect my Protestant brothers and sisters to agree with us on the necessity of a living moral authority; it is one of the greatest divisions between us. But, I adamantly believe we need to have the discussion about drawing lines, who gets to do it (preferably, we, the people), and where the lines ought to be drawn. By neglecting this premise, we are forfeiting the culture war to the Left, which has no such compunction about asserting its authority over our lives.
When I signed up for Group Writing this month, I thought I was going to write about the challenges of gardening in a high-altitude, arid climate with capricious weather requiring a certain ruthlessness. Plants which underperform don’t last long in my garden and meet their inglorious end in the compost pile. But, the promises of spring and surviving the last battle (God willing) of late freezes (yes, multiple) have mellowed my mood. So, instead, you’ll get some photos working backward in time.
Ice on the Serviceberry tree (Amelanchier Autumn Brilliance):
The ice actually helps the tree to retain its fruit, holding the tender vegetative connective tissue at 32 degrees while the air temperature drops below freezing around it (28 degrees for two nights with durations over eight hours each).
Building straw men in preparation:
The mostly empty bed is one I’m renewing this year after 30 years of working around old plantings. I dug up and divided Goldenrod Fireworks, many yellow and white Iris rhizomes, and Autumn Joy Sedum among other oldtimers, and gave them away to friends. I’ve amended the soil (cotton burr compost and Yum Yum Mix) and am trying some new plants, both tender (Dahlias) and perennial (Elderberry Lemony Lace).
The children’s playhouse was built by Grandpa Chauvinist when Little Miss Anthrope was about two years old. It sits on stilts in the canopy of some Scrub Oaks with eye-level views of the birds we attract to our feeders. When our garden was included in the FOX Garden Tour last year, the Master Gardeners and I would invite people to go in and then wait for the squeals of delight. We were not disappointed.
This is what the garden looked like last year in full bloom:
I have a few thousand more photos, so just let me know if you want more. ;-)
“We must now go back a bit and explain what the whole scene had looked like from Uncle Andrew’s point of view. It had not made at all the same impression on him as on the Cabby and the children. For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.
Ever since the animals had first appeared, Uncle Andrew had been shrinking further and further back into the thicket. He watched them very hard of course; but he wasn’t really interested in seeing what they were doing, only in seeing whether they were going to make a rush at him. Like the Witch, he was dreadfully practical. He simply didn’t notice that Aslan was choosing one pair out of every kind of beasts. All he saw, or thought he saw, was a lot of dangerous wild animals walking vaguely about. And he kept on wondering why the other animals didn’t run away from the big Lion.
When the great moment came and the Beasts spoke, he missed the whole point; for a rather interesting reason. When the Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was still quite dark, he had realized that the noise was a song. And he had disliked the song very much. It made him think and feel things he did not want to think and feel. Then, when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion (“only a lion,” as he said to himself) he tried his hardest to make believe that it wasn’t singing and never had been singing — only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world. “Of course it can’t really have been singing,” he thought, “I must have imagined it. I’ve been letting my nerves get out of order. Who ever heard of a lion singing?” And the longer and more beautiful the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.
— C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew, Book 1 of the Chronicles of Narnia
Chauvinist the Elder and I have been taking a class on the Chronicles of Narnia since the start of Lent through our church. It ends next week with The Last Battle (which has some terrific insights on non-Christians, especially Muslims, being judged worthy of heaven by serving the will of God, even if they don’t know it). I first read the Chronicles to Elder and Little Miss Anthrope when they were young — they’re 20 and 17 now. Lewis advocated stimulating the Christian imagination in children through fiction and it’s my opinion that his success at it was divinely inspired. But, his observations about the human condition are really for adults, and the above passage is just one example in a book chock full of them.
What is it about Uncle Andrew (and the Witch) that makes him incapable of seeing and hearing the truth? It’s his will to power. He grasps at the power of magic and he desperately wants to control those around him. This is the modern Left. It’s an ideology in opposition to the truth of the destructiveness of socialism (central planning = power) and incapable of admitting the ruthlessness of its true believers. In short, leftists can’t handle the truth and no matter how intelligent they are, this deficiency makes them stupid.
If you haven’t read the Chronicles, I recommend reading them in the order in which they were published:
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Horse and His Boy
The Magician’s Nephew
The Last Battle
There is much to learn and inspire.
You should hear me out on this because my gut has been right about candidates’ potential in every race up until 2016 (okay, maybe a slight Trumpian exaggeration). I knew Romney was a loser in the era of the ever-unpopular Obamacare, and Rick Santorum was speaking to the working class in swing states like no […]
Germaine Greer would be surprised to learn she influenced my decision to return to the Church and live as a conservative Catholic. It wasn’t her idiotic comments about children raising themselves — no mothers needed. Or, this gem: “Never advise anyone to go to war or to get married. Write down the advice of him […]
The Daily Wire Backstage: Spring Break Special this week is not to be missed. Many topics germane to the state of life in America are discussed by Ben Shapiro, Andrew Klavan, Michael Knowles, The Daily Wire’s god-king Jeremy Boreing, and Matt Walsh. But when they use the term “graceless society,” it makes me take pause. Apparently, they’ve discussed the gracelessness of American society as the cause of Trump’s election before and I’ve missed it. These are my initial thoughts on the subject.
First, we’d best establish what is meant by “graceless” in our culture. I take it to mean “unforgiving” or even “intolerant” in the authentic sense — an unwillingness to put up with the expression of some opinion, or behavior, or person you find objectionable. The DW guys get into a great discussion of western civilization and its roots, too, in which Michael Knowles says: they “want the culture without the cult” (this is in reference to the alt-Right). As a coreligionist of Michael’s (Catholic), I knew instantly what he meant. Our society is limping along gracelessly while in denial (or support) of the religious foundations that made us great. Without Judaism, there’s no Catholicism. Without Catholicism, there’s no Protestantism. Without the ethic of grace (forgiveness) promoted by these “cults,” there’s no western civilization. Without a people who practice these ethics, it all breaks down.
So, what are those things which become inadvisable in the absence of grace?
Apologies: Don’t do it. President Trump knows this as well as anyone. You sleep with a porn star and pay her off to keep your wife from finding out? For heaven’s sake, don’t apologize for your boorish, sinful behavior! Whatever Joe Biden has done, it’s (probably) not comparable to that, but he’s about to be #metooed out of his candidacy before he’s even announced he’s running. He hasn’t apologized for being handsy per se, but for being white and male, which gets him the same treatment from the #metoo crowd. I think he’s finished. Enjoy your retirement, Joe!
Speak uncomfortable truths: Now, Jordan Peterson is making a heckuva career (and a lot of money) out of bucking the trend, but he’s not invulnerable. And the chances you can do the same while still making a living and keeping your friendships are pretty slim. Political correctness isn’t about “correct” anything! It’s the opposite of correct thinking and correct speaking — it’s literally lying about something or someone so as not to make him/her/zir/zed uncomfortable. We’re becoming a nation of liars.
Admit guilt: Jussie Smollett and the Clintons. ‘Nuff said?
Expose what you believe by supporting “unapproved” causes: I still can’t get over what happened to Brendan Eich over his support for retaining the definition of (male/female) marriage. He was fired from the company he founded! For making a donation! People, this is sick. Something similar is happening to normal people who support President Trump. We benefit from anonymity for the most part, but we tend to keep our opinions quiet IRL. Pray God we are the silent majority in 2020.
Yesterday was Laetare Sunday in the Western Christian liturgical tradition. It’s a mid-Lent respite from penance and a celebration of God’s mercy in anticipation of Easter. We read the parable of the Prodigal Son at mass that morning. It’s always been a bit of a misnomer to call it the prodigal son, as “prodigal” has the same root as “prodigious” and the parable is really about the prodigious love and mercy of the father (Father). The grace offered to the son is the grace we are offered by God, and we, in turn, are called to offer it to each other. It is echoed by the cycle of fallenness and grace God offered to the Hebrews throughout salvation history. It is the cornerstone of western civilization, and without it, we see the lies, injustices, unrepentant sin, and uncivilized behavior toward each other we’re seeing now.
There is no western culture without the cult. Have mercy on us, for we are sinners.
Because we should never forget and always give thanks (LANGUAGE WARNING)… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrpkxl4DXtk And, now, Democratic response to the Mueller Nothingburger Report. Post your favorite D-for Deranged responses in the comments.
She may think she’s blasting capitalism, but someone needs to explain her real complaint is against corporatism:
‘Instead of conservative politicians scaring people that socialism means the government is going to take over their business, “we should be scared right now because corporations have taken over our government,” she said.’
And almost all the large interest groups who benefit from Big Government are on her side of the political spectrum. Corporatism, or the use of government to capture market-share, is the consequence of a too powerful government.
Maybe we can convert her to a freedom lover.
I can dream, can’t I?
Dear Ricochetti, We attended the memorial potluck for Ray today. It was a great turnout, especially considering the blizzard-like weather conditions! We heard some wonderful stories about fearless and formidable Ray in Afghanistan, in South America, and wherever he went. He was a remarkable man and a true servant to his family and those in […]
I simply can’t improve on that, other than to Find/Replace every mention of “liberal” with “leftist.” Or maybe “urban elitists” to cover the (ostensible) conservatives who hate us, too.
Oh, no! One of my favorite liberals (not leftists). RIP Pat. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/16/obituaries/patrick-caddell-dead.html
I should preface this post by noting I’m an (now domestic) engineer — hard “g.” English is not my proficiency, unlike my Hillsdale English major daughter, the Elder. You want help with your Math homework or figuring out how to fix the ice maker? I’m your gal.
Elder recently signed up for a 300-level 17th and 18th Century British Literature class at the local branch of CU in preparation to return to Hillsdale this fall, after identifying and dealing with some health challenges. She dropped the course after attending the first session, saying, “Mom, it’s not Hillsdale.” To which I responded, “Now you know why we insisted, if you’re going to be an English major, Hillsdale should be your top choice out of a scant handful of options.”
The first sign of trouble was the class introductions. Students were asked to give their name, year in school, and preferred pronoun. (You saw that coming, didn’t you?) Let’s keep in mind that “preferred pronoun” is an insistence that you talk about zir in the third person to someone else when xe’s not even in the room! If you were talking to they, you’d use “you, you, your” like any decent person. It’s coercive, totalitarian rubbish. I say we call the narcissistic little prigs “bastards.” Fixes everything.
Then Elder got a look at the syllabus. Nearly a third of the authors selected for study were women and none of them were named Austen. Too bourgeois, it would seem, except one of the women wrote about Islam after her experiences in Turkey where her husband was stationed as a diplomat. Oof — insert feminist scowl. And, yes, Islam was another major theme of the class about 17th and 18th Century British Literature! You can’t make this stuff up.
Finally, the class discussed an excerpt from Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum, a philosophical work first published in 1620. The professor focused on Bacon’s use of the phrase “empire over creation” (translated from the original Latin), suggesting the negative leftese connotation of “empire” (rather than the more likely Biblical allusion Bacon was making to dominion over creation). Oddly, he also asked the class the significance of the era in which Bacon was writing (early 1600s was the Age of Discovery), misleading the students to believe that Bacon could have been criticizing “empire” before the British Empire had even been established (Britain’s Imperial Century was from 1815 to 1914 according to historians), let alone before lefties had decided empire was a bad thing. Pull chute!
This incident started a family conversation about why university English departments are so corrupted and readily corruptible. Mr. C. (also an engineer — hard “g”) argued that the interpretation of literature is a subjective exercise. There aren’t hard truths built in like in Math and Science. I dissented.
Great literature reveals (absolute, universal) truths about the human condition. It isn’t subjective — it’s susceptible to misinterpretation by lefties with an agenda. Literature has staying-power when it is recognized for its truths by individuals over generations. As C.S. Lewis intimates in The Abolition of Man, it is against our human nature to continue to believe that which isn’t objectively true.
And speaking of the annihilation of our humanity, Drew Klavan makes the point that majorities don’t win — culture wins. If we don’t start fighting for the true meaning of words, I don’t see how the West survives. When the Elder was making her case for dropping the class, she said, “it lacks integrity.”
- the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
- “he is known to be a man of integrity”
- the state of being whole and undivided.
[In Jim Gaffigan’s falsetto inner audience voice: Why is she always writing about suffering? Doesn’t she know nobody wants to talk about that?] File under: Important lessons I’ve learned from life and Amazon Prime. We Chauvinists recently started watching the controversial BBC horror series, Apparitions, about a Catholic exorcist trying to save his friends and […]
No, we’re not finished with Trump Derangement outrage over the champion Clemson Tigers fast-food faux pas. Apparently, the women of CNN found President Trump’s announcement of what’s for dinner disgustingly sexist. Take a look.
“Sometimes what people say when they think they’re being funny exposes exactly who they are and what they think.” Yehehehessss — that works for CNN hostesses (see what I did there?) expressing disgust at “women making salads,” too.
Hey ladies, the subtext of your outrage at President Trump’s “sexism” goes something like this — it’s beneath women to make salads — to feed and take care of men — even if they’re national champions. Maybe especially if they’re manly national champions!
Well, I’ve got (real) news for the CNN hostess. I’d take that job! I make salads Mr. C is delighted to eat. He even asks for them! This is the same guy whose idea of “salad” when we met was iceberg lettuce, cheese, and enough Ranch dressing to float the contents of the bowl. Maybe I should send CNN Hostess my recipes.
Men and women — mothers and fathers — are not interchangeable. We are complementary! Mr. C brings home the bacon and I put it in the salad. It’s a good life. Stop with the contempt already.