What’s Wrong with the World

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The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

July 21, 2017

Old Testament undesigned coincidences: The loss of Gibbethon

In I Kings 15:25-27 we learn that, in the time of Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, the Israelite city of Gibbethon belonged to the Philistines. Nadab was besieging Gibbethon, trying to get it back, when he was attacked and killed by another Israelite named Baasha, who then reigned in his stead.

J. J. Blunt, from whom I borrowed this coincidence, raises the question as to why Gibbethon had fallen to the Philistines in the first place. He admits, of course, that it may be impossible to find out. There were Philistines around. They probably sometimes took cities. Maybe that's the end of the story as far as we know here about three thousand years later. But Blunt has an idea worth considering.

Continue reading "Old Testament undesigned coincidences: The loss of Gibbethon" »

July 19, 2017

Selling blueberries as a countercultural act

A new case of leftist totalitarianism bears watching. The city of East Lansing, Michigan, gerrymandered a sexual orientation discrimination ordinance specifically for purposes of banning a farmer from a farmer's market in East Lansing, even though his farm is not located in East Lansing and even though his real or hypothetical acts of discrimination--refusing to host same-sex "weddings" on his farm--would take place in Charlotte, a different town.

In August, 2016, farmer Steve Tennes stated on Facebook that he would not host a lesbian "wedding" at the farm (though he does sometimes rent the farm for weddings) and affirmed his view that marriage is between one man and one woman.

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July 15, 2017

Stewardship as The Blob

In 1958, Steve McQueen starred (if it can be called that) in the movie “The Blob”. It was the typical 1950s new-kind-of-monster movie. All you need to know about the Blob is that, like its name implies, it had no integral parts or structure, but its appetite was voracious and universal. Now you know exactly how the movie plays out.

In the modern Church, if you pay attention to the right issues, such as property and charitable giving and use of resources, you run into the concept of “stewardship”. It is a perfectly good word, with perfectly good meaning and application in the Church, with perfectly good provenance, no less than St. Peter:

"As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace" (1 Pt 4:10).

Unfortunately, because in the modern Church you are hard pressed to find anyone who stewardships* his mind, the concept has become like The Blob: without any internal structure, and of universal and voracious appetite. EVERYTHING good is “stewardship”.

(*Beware nouns, especially nouns in the universal / conceptual form, that become verbs).

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July 9, 2017

Fretting is my spiritual gift

New post up at my personal blog on the spiritual discipline and theological issues surrounding worry.

July 2, 2017

Trump admin takes away with the left hand

One of the few attempts to cross the pons asinorum of Republican presidencies that the current administration has made was its rescinding a 2016 overreaching Obama administration policy requiring public schools (and other schools receiving Title IX funds) to let boys use the girls' bathrooms and shower and locker rooms. That was in February.

But if you thought it was over, you were wrong. Now the Trump administration has issued a new memo to Office of Civil Rights field officers stating that they should treat it prima facie as a case of "gender-based harassment" if a Title IX-receiving school "refus[es] to use a transgender student's preferred name or pronouns when the school uses preferred names for gender-conforming students...." Don't you just love the insinuation that calling a real girl student "she" is just using a "preferred" pronoun of the real girl, as if when you call little Sally "she" you're just going along with what she prefers? Hence, you're harming little Jimmy and harassing him on the basis of sex if he thinks of himself as female and demands that you call him "she" as well, and you refuse, since you used Sally's preferred pronoun but won't use Jimmy's. Cute, huh?

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June 30, 2017

Power and the death of the innocent

I have hesitated thus far to comment on the Charlie Gard case, partly because of acedia. Also, though, because I feared that anything I would say about the difference between ordinary and extraordinary care and about the greater evil of killing people by withholding ordinary care and by active euthanasia would be taken amiss as expressing approval of the UK government's actions in this case. Since in this case they are insisting on withdrawing ventilator support, which I believe is extraordinary care, I hesitate to use terms like "killing" the child, for if it were "killing" here, then it would be killing even when parents consent or other relatives consent to withdrawing ventilator support. It's important for pro-lifers to maintain the ordinary/extraordinary distinction. But at the same time, I am actually heartened even in the midst of this situation by the outrage of so many at the wickedly high-handed behavior of the British government. After all, the parents have raised the money to take Charlie to the United States; the government simply won't let him go. They think they know what is best for him, which is that he should be allowed to die. And that is chilling.

In the midst of my hesitation, I saw today a post by a Facebook friend on the subject (though it starts with a different case) and got permission to post it, though anonymously. Though I haven't researched the Italian case he starts with, I fully believe it. It's too typical. My only quibble is with the word "killed" in the final sentence. But there is so much truth here about the lust for power that I decided to let him write most of my blog post on this subject.

Continue reading "Power and the death of the innocent" »

June 29, 2017

Hidden in Plain View Kindle Edition

A Kindle edition of Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts is available for pre-order from Amazon today for only $4.99. This special price will continue until July 10, when the Kindle edition will go to $9.99. This is especially good for those who are in remote locations or prefer not to pay shipping, or just for people who like a Kindle edition. Spread the word. The book continues of course to be available in paperback, here and here.

June 26, 2017

Surrender, Or Else...

We’ve all watched the Scene in the Errol Flynn type of swash-buckler movie, or read the passage in a book: The Hero manages to defeat single-handedly some of the henchmen and escape the last one, grab a sword, and run after the evil Villain who is trying to abduct his lovely Girl. Villain throws the Girl from himself and turns around pulling out his own sword. The two go at it hammer and tongs, nearly at a match because Hero is tired from a long chase and defeating the henchmen. Out of desperation Hero tries a trick move his (sidekick) Friend has told him about, but he has never practiced, and surprising to both men, it succeeds: it knocks the sword out of Villain’s hand.

They pause for a moment, the sword pointed at Villain’s neck, and Hero declares: “yield, and your life will be spared.”

Villain has no intention of living behind bars or letting Hero win. “Never!” he shouts.

Hero magnanimously gestures at the sword on the ground, and says, “then let’s finish this”.

Continue reading "Surrender, Or Else..." »

June 24, 2017

New Undesigned Coincidence supporting Pauline authorship of 2 Timothy

While writing up my chronology of the Pauline epistles, I was re-reading the name references in 2 Timothy. Here's one:

Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. 2 Timothy 4:14-15

Some have suggested that this may be the same person referred to in Acts 19:33, a Jew who stepped forward and tried to address the crowd in the amphitheater during the riot in Ephesus. That seems unlikely, however, for such a move was risky, and that Alexander appears to have intended to "make a defense to the crowd" and is silenced by the angry worshipers of Diana. It's unclear what the point of his "defense" was, but since the rioters were angry at Paul (for teaching the people monotheism and thus reducing the market for shrines of Diana), it seems unlikely that that Alexander was a coppersmith himself or would have stuck his neck out during the riot. The name was not uncommon.

More plausible is the identification of Alexander the coppersmith in 2 Timothy 4 with the Alexander whom Paul anathematizes in I Timothy 1:20, especially given the close connection between I Timothy and 2 Timothy. Apparently this person, whoever he was, was a possible danger to Timothy as well. We may conjecture that he was located wherever Timothy was ministering at that time.

This is the coincidence I see: If you were going to forge a letter as from Paul at the end of his life (as 2 Timothy purports to be) and give him an enemy to complain about, and if you wanted to "place" Timothy at Ephesus (as 1 Timothy apparently does in 1:3), and if you had access to Acts, whom would you choose?

A little reading of Acts 19 makes the answer obvious: Demetrius the silversmith.

About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.”

When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Acts 19:23-28

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June 18, 2017

Josh Ritter the Smiling Folk-Rock Mountain Man

360px-Josh-Ritter.jpg

Josh Ritter of the State of Idaho has been composing, singing and smiling through a pretty impressive streak of musical success over the course of a decade and more.

This man, a contemporary of mine in both age and region of origin, consistently (a) delights with his lyrical complexity and verve; (b) honors America with his inspired evocations of her lands and people; (c) and, featuring a tight band, simply rocks.

What follows is a setlist and brief commentary. No obligation falls on anyone to favor the man’s music; but I do feel obliged to give my reasons for why I do.

Begin with this triumvirate of genius: “Wolves,” “To the Dogs or Whoever,” and “Where the Night Goes.”

Listen to those three tunes and you’ll discover a vigorous upbeat rock band backing an American poetic performer of power and subtlety.

Want more?

There is the zaniness and verbal fun of “The Next to the Last True Romantic,” or the infectious cacophony of “Rumors.” “See Me Through,” a somewhat obscure classic, mimics John Lennon’s “Imagine” without the pretentious lyrics: pretentious lyrics are by far the worst problem with “Imagine.”

Next up, consider the deep American synthesis of “Folk Bloodbath,” which rivals any Dylan or even Johnny Cash version of Delia & Lewis Collins and that whole legendary drama. Among the many brilliant sentences is this one: “Out of Stackalee’s came Stackalee’s cold lonely little ghost.”

Following that, take in the hilarious cynicism of “Galahad.” This song has a handful of off-color cracks, but its deep sense of fun carries through: like its best line this song is “More error than knight-errantry.”

Moving along:

One of Ritter’s earliest, “Kathleen,” while nearly fifteen years old, has aged extremely well. “Snow Is Gone,” of roughly the same vintage, backs it up.

Following all these, “Monster Ballads” seems to me among the most beautiful of its kind in my lifetime. That rounds it out. Ten songs. There is the reader’s setlist.

(One extra? Okay: the live version of “Golden Age of Radio” in Dublin, Ireland, the country where this grinning American mountain man, by some fascinating romance of chance, first caught fire.)

Continue reading "Josh Ritter the Smiling Folk-Rock Mountain Man" »

June 16, 2017

Chronology of the Pauline epistles

New post up at my personal blog giving my reconstruction of the full chronology of the Pauline epistles. Obviously, much of this is not original, but if you're interested in the subject, you might like to see a full list.

June 15, 2017

Better enforcement and violence

Opinion question: How much would it help to reduce violent crime against political opponents if we had more consistent law enforcement of laws against

1) actual threats, including electronic threats,
2) actual violent assault, including punching, etc.?

Let me clarify: I am not implying that more consistent enforcement would have directly prevented the recent assassination attempt against Republicans by James Hodgkinson, since as far as I know he hadn't gone so far as explicit threats before.

But I get the strong impression that our law enforcement is overwhelmed by Internet threats and that many are going unpunished even though clearly illegal. Obviously, the First Amendment does not protect literal threats of death, rape, etc.

And then we have the cowardly college administrators who are not pressing for prosecution of violent students who shut down speakers.

I can't help wondering if there would be something akin to a "broken window strategy" that might help, at least in some particular jurisdiction: If you threaten our residents or people within our jurisdiction, yes, even by e-mail, and a fortiori if you actually are the aggressor and punch someone just because you don't like his political views, we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law in an entirely non-partisan manner--i.e., regardless of what party or political side you espouse or attack. And yes, even if you are technically a minor.

Would it make a difference?

June 11, 2017

Colin Hemer on the genre of Luke and Acts

No time to cross-post this properly, but I have a new post up with a wonderful quotation from the late Colin Hemer on the genre of Luke and Acts. Enjoy. The quote even if not my commentary thereon.

June 4, 2017

Ontario--Parents who don't affirm LGBT agenda at risk of losing their kids

I realize that the title looks like clickbait, and I put the phrase "at risk of" in there deliberately as a qualifier, but what has just happened in Ontario is highly alarming for the reason stated in the title. Under a recently passed law, parents who are not gay-affirming or transgenderism-affirming, whose own children decide to identify with these ideologies, may lose the kids for that reason.

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Giving the devil his due

Since I posted on the disturbing news that it looked like the new DOJ might defend the Obama-era contraception mandate, it is only fair to post this update.

As of 5/23/17, the CBO shows an "interim final rule" has been posted by Tom Price's HHS concerning "coverage of certain preventative services under the affordable care act." A copy of the interim rule has been leaked, and it would apparently allow any employer or insurance company to refuse to cover contraceptive drugs on the basis of moral or religious objections. This amounts to a partial rollback of the Obama HHS contraception mandate, though frankly I think even amoral employers and insurers should not be required to provide birth control either. But set that aside. It is to a large extent what I was urging should be done. The interim final rule is just one bureaucratic step away from being made final, and I trust this will provide the DOJ all the cover they need to stop defending the suit against the rule.

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May 24, 2017

Further push for killing for organs

May 20, 2017

Paging the new Secretary of Agriculture

May 11, 2017

Classical Liberalism and Conservatism

Oregon's SB494--a new attack on human life

May 5, 2017

The "ur-source" theory of undesigned coincidences

 
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