November 2009 Archives
November 1, 2009
William Lane Craig on divine simplicity
In answer to a reader’s request, I respond to Craig’s critique of this central doctrine of classical theism, over at my personal blog.
November 3, 2009
One good, one bad
You have probably read elsewhere in the blogosphere the good, indeed joyous, news that a director of a Planned Parenthood facility in Texas has resigned, citing a "conversion," though apparently she already considered herself a Christian and means only a conversion away from her pro-abortion position. It sounds as if her conscience had been bothering her for some time, but two things catalyzed her decision to quit: First of all, her employers appeared in their true colors, pushing her to sell abortion more aggressively to bring in more cash. I'm going to guess (though she doesn't say so) that she had been one of these types who say, "I'm not pro-abortion, I'm pro-choice," and obviously this would not sit well with selling abortions like corn chips. The second thing was seeing an abortion on ultrasound, presumably one performed at her facility.
Anyone who has prayed outside an abortion mill knows that one of the things one prays for is the conversion of those who work there. This is undoubtedly an answer to many, many prayers.
Planned Parenthood has gotten a restraining order against her, telling her not to release any "confidential information." As far as I can tell, "confidential information" isn't defined, and the really damning revelation--about their push for more abortions--is out of the bag already, so one wonders what they are still trying to hide.
For the other side of the coin, we have to turn to the Dominican Sisters in Hinsdale, IL.
New York City Council District 26
I want to call your attention to a little-noticed race for New York City Council. The details are all here. There is something in it reminiscent of the romance of a crusade. My friend has been right at the heart of it, and through him I have been privileged (and alarmed) to hear of all the thuggery and perfidy of single-party rule when threatened.
Whatever the outcome here, it is clear that liberals will rue the day they pushed Francis Cianfrocca into politics.
November 5, 2009
The trouble with William Paley
I lay it all out over at my personal blog. Now I’m off to go hide under the table – if Lydia asks, you haven’t seen me, got it?
What would J.S. do? [Updated]
I really do not think this most recent act of jihad can be allowed to pass without some comment here at W4. We should also not let pass the sheer cravenness of our Dear Leaders--at the highest level and in the media--in discussing it. I note that when I bring up Yahoo mail, the story doesn't even appear as a top story. Atlas says that Shepard Smith at first would not say the murderer's name--Malik Nadal Hasan--and more recently has been giving a platform to Hasan's cousin who informs us that...
you guessed it!
It's our fault. Yup. Hasan was "harassed." Oh. Well. That explains it.
According to The Messiah, this was an "outburst of violence." An outburst. You know, violence does that sometimes. It bursts out. Impersonally.
Words of wisdom from Lawrence Auster on the subject:
Would King Jan Sobieski have allowed Muslim doctors to enter his headquarters and move about at liberty among his men on the eve of deployment for battle against Muslims? Of course not.Update:
Washington - A top US Army official confirmed Friday that the suspect in the killing of at least 13 people at a Texas army base likely shouted 'Allah Akbar' (God is great) before opening fire.
Army Lieutenant General Robert Cone, commander of the Fort Hood, Texas, base where the shootings took place on Thursday, made the comment in answer to a question from NBC news.
Cone said 'there are first hand accounts' to the effect that the suspect, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, had yelled the Muslim religious chant.
See also here. Six months. Officials had seen a blog post apparently by this guy defending suicide bombings and have been investigating him for at least six months.
See also here for a link and quote from said blog post.
See also here for an interview with one of his co-workers who says that he defended the shooter at the recruitment station at Little Rock and repeatedly spoke in favor of Muslims' rising up against the "aggressors"--meaning Americans.
This is a horror and an outrage: That officials had reason to know already that this man was dangerous and defended jihadi murderers and that he was still allowed to wander about an army base and even to bear arms there himself. And anyone who continues to pretend that this isn't about jihad and Islam is dangerously self-deceptive.
Will we ever get serious? I don't know, but if this doesn't wake us up, nothing will.
November 7, 2009
The Greek atomists and the god of Paley
In recent posts, I have been defending classical theism and criticizing Paley-style “design arguments” as time wasters at best and theologically dangerous at worst because of their implicit anthropomorphic conception of God. Here’s another way to look at the problem.
As is well known, the ancient Greek atomists were forerunners of modern naturalism. They pioneered the mechanistic approach to the study of nature. They were critical of traditional religion. They denied that there is any Uncaused Cause sustaining the world in being. But they were not atheists as that term is understood today. They generally acknowledged that the gods existed. They just regarded them as one part of the natural order among others. Were they writing today, they might have expressed their position by comparing the gods to extraterrestrials or beings from another dimension.
If you are a Christian, suppose it turned out that there really was such a being as Yahweh, but he was an alien from Alpha Centauri who had decided for a few centuries to have a little fun with the ancient Israelites. In particular, suppose it turned out that something like the events recounted in the Old Testament really did happen, but only as interpreted by Erich von Däniken in Chariots of the Gods. Would you feel vindicated? Would you expect Richard Dawkins to repent and race over to the nearest revival meeting? No, because even Dawkins is not that foolish, and neither are you.
Certainly the atomists would have responded with a gigantic yawn. And rightly so, because if God were really a space alien, then He wouldn’t be God. He certainly wouldn’t be worthy of worship. Scary, maybe. Perhaps for that reason someone you might not want to tick off. But still merely a cosmic despot, or (if we’re lucky) a cosmic kindly old grandfather. It really doesn’t matter for religious purposes, because, again, he would not in that case be any more worthy of worship than Superman.
Thus, if contemporary naturalists were wise, they would stop getting so upset over the arguments of ID theorists, given that those theorists themselves keep insisting, quite rightly, that their arguments don’t (and, I’ve been arguing, can’t) strictly get you anything more grand than E.T. If the ancient atomists could happily accept that, why couldn’t the American Atheists? Perhaps someday they’ll wise up and realize they can. For with respect to the anthropomorphic god of Paley, you might as well say: “There probably is such a god, but stop worrying and enjoy your life anyway.”
You see, there is a reason why Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, and all the others among the very greatest thinkers of the Christian tradition insisted on classical theism. There is a reason why it is reflected in the creeds and councils, and why it is the infallible, irreformable doctrine of Holy Mother Church. Nothing less gets you beyond the naturalism of the ancient atomists. Which, if ID theory ever gained wide acceptance, would simply become the naturalism of the modern naturalists. Darwinism will have been defeated, but a redefined naturalism will bop along unscathed. The last laugh will belong to Democritus rather than Dembski. Then many will say bitterly, in the wake of their Pyrrhic victory: “Even the naturalists believe, and tremble not at all.”
Speak now or forever hold your peace
I'm glad finally to get a chance to blog about this. Consider the following scenario:
A Muslim works at a clothing store. A higher-ranked manager from another store is working one day, all day, at the Muslim's store. The manager starts talking about the drinks he had at the bar last night and how much he is looking forward to going to the bar tonight again after work. Noting the Muslim's discomfort, the manager chooses to bring the subject up again and again throughout the day. After changing the subject or ignoring the comments several times, the Muslim employee finally takes the manager aside and begins by saying, "You know, that whiskey you're talking about, that's bad stuff..." intending to go on to ask that the manager not goad him in this manner anymore in the future.
The manager steps back, begins laughing, and says, "H.R. buddy, H.R.!" The intent is clear: The employee is to be reported to human resources for speaking "offensively" to the manager. And that's just what happens. The Muslim employee is summarily fired. He explains what happened to the person doing the firing, and in response he receives a letter in which the higher-level management person ignores the allegation regarding the repeated references to drinking. Instead, the letter says something like, "You claimed that it was a factual statement about previous and future drinks that made you feel that your Muslim beliefs required you to speak out. Your actions were offensive and unprofessional. We have a zero tolerance policy regarding harassment. You are living in a country where drinking is legal, and you will find that many of your colleagues do drink alcoholic beverages. You must learn to live with this..." and so on and so forth.
Is it not self-evident that the employee would have a case for a religious discrimination suit? In fact, a fairly strong case? If anyone was creating a "hostile work environment" and engaging in "harassment," it was the manager who deliberately and repeatedly goaded the employee and then got him fired when he finally expressed his views on the matter of drinking.
Now watch the video here.
November 8, 2009
"An Army chaplain asked mourners Sunday to pray for the accused Fort Hood shooter, calling on them to focus less on why the tragedy happened and more on helping each other through 'the valley of the shadow of darkness.'
"'Lord, all those around us search for motive, search for meaning, search for something, someone to blame. That is so frustrating,' Col. Frank Jackson told a group of about 120 people gathered at one of the post's chapel. 'Today, we pause to hear from you. So Lord, as we pray together, we focus on things we know.'
"Worshippers at the 1st Cavalry Memorial Chapel hugged each other and raised their hands in prayer during the service, in which Jackson asked the congregation to pray for the 13 dead and 29 wounded that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is accused of shooting. The chaplain also urged the crowd to pray for Hasan and his family...
"...Across the sprawling post and in neighboring Killeen, soldiers, their relatives and members of the community struggled to make sense of the shootings. Candles burned Saturday night outside the apartment complex where Hasan lived..."
Let's be sure not to learn anything from this, now
Well, I've googled and hand-searched books and can't find it. So here, from memory, is an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. Calvin makes some remarks to Hobbes as they ride their sled about not wanting to change. He's fine just the way he is. They hit the bottom of a gorge, hard, and Hobbes suggests that maybe this ride wasn't such a good idea. And Calvin gasps, "Careful, let's be sure not to learn anything from this, now."
Update: Courtesy of Esteemed Husband the cartoon is at this site. Still working on embedding it.
Herewith, I give you the U.S. Army's highest officer, Gen.Casey:
General Casey told me on This Week that he’s worried that diversity could become another victim of Thursday’s mass killing at Ft. Hood. The incident was not the first case of fratricide by a Muslim and when I asked how the military plans to deal with this potential problem in its ranks, Casey said, “Speculation could potentially heighten backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers and what happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here.
An even greater tragedy if diversity becomes a casualty. If that isn't a slap in the face to the victims of this jihad attack and their families, I don't know what is.
Let's be sure not to learn anything from this, now.
HT: Atlas Shrugs
Update #2: The evidence just keeps on pouring in: U.S. intel. agencies have known for months that Hasan had attempted to contact al Qaeda. In this case the information was kept isolated from those who might have done something about it because of those "walls of separation" among U.S. agencies, intended to protect Privacy, Freedom, and the American Way. Or something.
November 10, 2009
BOOK EXCERPT: American Austen
Recently published by ISI, edited and introduced by the celebrated historian John Lukacs, is a volume called American Austen. Its subject is the Philadelphian writer Agnes Repplier, whose brilliant writings have been largely forgotten — an injustice which this book proposes to rectify, at least in part. Reprinted with permission below is an essay selected from that book, entitled “Town and Suburb,” which in addition to its exemplification of the woman’s splendid style, addresses with some remarkable verve subjects and disputes which have interested many of us here at What’s Wrong with the World. Repplier strikes me in this piece as a kind of contrarian distributist, alternately reproving agrarian idealists and brassbound suburban progressives. The essay fits a style we might call High Polemic, but its ballast is in the very moderate wisdom at back of the energetic argumentation.
Repplier’s career of writing touched on an extraordinary variety of subjects. Lukacs’s collection begins with some selections from her history of Philadelphia that are simply marvelous; it includes several engrossing sketches of a vaguely biographical character; and it of course features numerous literary and political pieces. He and ISI have done us a great favor in working hard to revive this uniquely American woman’s contribution to American letters.
* * *
"The reason people don't understand why PC becomes so entrenched is because 'political correctness' is itself a phrase that obscures the institutional rationale for things. PC is nothing more or less than advanced, institutionalized liberalism. I have come to dislike the phrase 'political correctness run amok' very strongly. It suggests that just a little bit of PC would be sensible, or that PC is just an extreme version of something basically rational, which it's not. You can't identify and combat 'political correctness run amok,' because it's a meaningless way to describe the phenomenon.
"The phenomenon is liberalism, and the reason Western society is in the death grip of political correctness is because PC is an expression of the death grip that liberalism has on all our institutions--the media, the military, the universities, the mainline churches, etc. All of them are PC because all of them have, in ways unique to the character or charism of each, adopted the essentials of liberalism. In particular, the belief that erasing distinctions--and particularly categories as they apply to human beings--is the highest possible calling in life, somehow residing at the core of the institution's mission, is the liberal ideal to which all Western institutions now subscribe.
"What Larry Auster sometimes calls the non-discrimination principle, that is, the notion that discrimination is the single greatest possible evil and that all goods are tertiary to the good of advancing the liberal ideal of non-discrimination, really is the ruling principle of our society. Recognizing this fact makes every single instance of PC madness fully comprehensible. It also explains why everyone knows by instinct the seemingly byzantine demands of PC, even when they aren't written down anywhere. Being based on such a simple principle, people are able, instantly and without reflection, to apply it to any given situation at all. Finally, recognizing this fact also explains why people are so hopelessly confused by it all--they accept the basic premises of liberalism, and they largely know precisely when and how to cringe before its demands ('Not that there's anything wrong with that!'), but they nonetheless are baffled when they see institutions behaving in accordance with the raw, anti-rational radicalism of the non-discrimination principle. They fail to identify liberalism as such as the source of the problem, being basically liberals themselves, so they blame it on some hazy thing called 'political correctness.' Moreover, they realize that this is an expression of something that they basically accept, and cannot repudiate utterly, so they say that it is somehow 'run amok.'
"If people would simply call it what it is, that is institutionalized liberalism, we could at least have a debate on the real causes of such insanity and decide whether we really do think the sacrifice worth it."
November 11, 2009
"Islam will have to be the solution"
Some of my favorite conservative writers, including some of my past & present colleagues, absolutely cannot stand Jonah Goldberg. Lawrence Auster calls him the "animal house conservative." Amongst the good folks at Taki's Magazine, he may very well be the only being in the known universe who might conceivably lose a popularity contest with David Frum. And I've sometimes had the impression that Daniel Larison would issue a thousand-word rebuttal if Goldberg suggested that the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West.
I've never felt that way, myself. I find his stuff consistently (even compulsively) readable and sometimes quite insightful.
So it's with some regret that I must admit that I find his reflections on the Nidal Hasan case about as clear as mud.
Or should that be: as weak as water?
I can't quite decide which cliché to go with, here.
November 14, 2009
A military specialization area: Not learning from experience
In the wake of the jihadi massacre at Fort Hood, a number of conservatives, who understandably assumed that the military has a "reality check" that the rest of the government doesn't have, have been shocked and baffled at all the ways in which Hasan's military superiors ignored warning signs and didn't get rid of him, pronto.
Even I have to say that I knew it was bad, but I didn't know it was this bad. Still, it's been a long time since I had much faith in the U.S. military to be smart about things, especially when matters of liberal politics are involved.
But here is a point we need to consider, as well: Unfortunately, the military can be very dumb and very bureaucratic generally. Certainly, all the more so in a case like Hasan's where group politics are involved, but even when group politics are not involved.
With which introduction, I give you the story, which some of you may already know, of Millenium Challenge 02.
Communists still get good press
There I was this morning, enjoying a cup of coffee in the warm autumn sun and reading the staid old Financial Times, with its distinctive yellow paper that always puts me in the mind of reliable centrism, when abruptly my equanimity was broken by this:
Here’s an interesting question ahead of Barack Obama’s arrival in Tokyo on Friday for the first leg of his Asia tour: would Mao Zedong have approved of the US president’s itinerary? Or would he have worried that Obama was not doing enough to make sure that Japan felt loved?
It might be surprising to some, but the late Chinese chairman was an astute observer of the impact that trip scheduling could have on sensitive Japanese sentiment. So much so that he discussed the matter in forceful terms with Henry Kissinger way back in 1971.
I wasn’t following international affairs back then, but I remember well the doubt and concern that swept some Japanese policymaking circles in 1998 when then US president Bill Clinton skipped Tokyo on an Asian tour that included a long multi-stop visit to China. [. . .]
Mao would certainly have chastised Clinton, had the great dictator not long since been transformed into a waxy corpse on grisly show in a Tiananmen Square mausoleum.
Here's an even more interesting question: what's the easiest way to continue getting good press 50 years after contriving the murder of tens of millions? Answer: do it in the name of Communism.
November 15, 2009
Sunday break--The white stallions of Vienna
It's been a rough couple of weeks for the Republic, and I suspect that all American patriots are feeling a bit exhausted and discouraged. Take a break. Sit back and watch the video below of the greatest horses in the world. This is the actual Reitschule in Vienna. Some of us have seen the American Lipizzaners perform under the trade name of "The World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions," and I have nothing to say against them, but there's nothing like video of the Austrian performance.
My love for the Lipizzaners was kindled originally when I was about seven by this wonderful book by justly famed horse author Marguerite Henry. Alois Podhajsky, a character in the book, was a real person who saved the Lipizzaners through and after World War II. If you think of buying the book for your children, be sure to buy the old hardcover with several paintings scattered throughout. I saw a paperback a few years ago that took those few gorgeous color paintings by Wesley Dennis and turned them into black and white, presumably to save money. (Harrumph.) The book also has many wonderful drawings. A copy would be especially prized if it had the color endpapers showing a painting of the quadrille. The copy I own now has blank endpapers, though I had somehow as a child a copy with the picture endpapers.
My own all-too-short season of riding lessons is wrapping up as we move toward the cold and driver-unfriendly Michigan winter. It looks as though I will be able to start back up in the spring, five months or so from now, at which point I will doubtless be woefully out of shape and will have to learn a lot of things over again. As the rawest of beginners, I look at the things they are doing in this video as if they were magic. One notices odd things when one has even a tiny bit of experience: If my horse ever went that close to a wall, I'd be shying myself, afraid of getting a leg crushed. I cannot imagine how they work so many stallions that close together. It's astounding. Most people are most impressed by the Airs Above the Ground. Not to say anything against the Airs Above the Ground, but I think the quadrille is the most impressive part of the show.
The Lipizzan stallions of Vienna.
Adoption is always the result, one way or another, of the fact that our world is fallen. In the most innocent and purely tragic case, adoption can be the result of parents' death, which need not be anyone's fault at all.
More often, adoption results from fornication, when a child is conceived out of wedlock. Sometimes, out-of-wedlock birth comes together with drastically difficult physical conditions. In the case of transnational adoptions, a child may face a life of poverty and malnutrition or a life in a crowded orphanage without any parents at all if he is not adopted. In some countries, children face a life of being bounced from home to home in the foster care system, forming and breaking bonds over and over again until they forget how to love.
But the fact that adoptions are always the result of non-optimal circumstances should never be confused with the proposition that a child's adoption is itself sub-optimal for the child, given the child's circumstances at the time of adoption. Far from it. In a very great number of cases, adoption is far and away the best possible gift the child could be given.
Therefore, statements like, "It's better if a mother can keep her child rather than placing him for adoption" are facile at best and misleading at worst. In a perfect world, an unfallen world, there would be no adoptions. But by the same token, in an unfallen world a lot of adoptees would never have been conceived in the first place. It is in many, many cases not better for a mother--particularly an unwed mother--to keep her child rather than placing him for adoption, and rhetoric that implies in general terms that adoption is an unfortunate or second-best choice for the child and that discourages adoption is not rhetoric that should be left unchallenged.
Full disclosure: I was adopted as an infant of seven months old.
November 16, 2009
An ambiguous conservative
It appears The American Conservative is making some of their archived content freely available online. For those who might be interested, here is a review I wrote for them some years back of An Imaginative Whig: Reassessing the Life and Thought of Edmund Burke, edited by Ian Crowe. As the review indicates, Burke’s sometimes ambiguously conservative thought raises questions about precisely what conservatism is and exactly how it relates to tradition – questions that are especially pressing today, when some conservatives are advising their fellows to abandon the cause of upholding certain aspects of traditional morality in the interests of preserving electoral viability. These are questions I have addressed elsewhere – for example, in this post about conservatism and tradition and this article about the metaphysical foundations of conservatism.
November 19, 2009
Plato’s affinity argument
November 20, 2009
Interview on James Allen about the culture war, etc.
Here is a link to my interview last Saturday evening with James Allen, a conservative talk-show host in Phoenix.
We were chiefly talking about the culture war and about not compromising on social conservative issues.
I hope to make some further, contentful posts later based on some of the points I made in the interview, but for the moment, I just wanted to make the link available. I hope you enjoy it, and be sure to tell any friends in Phoenix about the James Allen Show on Saturday evenings.
November 21, 2009
Bob Dylan wars
Andrew Ferguson of The Weekly Standard takes a run at Bob Dylan and his fans here, on the occasion of the singer’s recently-released Christmas album. He calls us fans, “the battered wives of the music industry,” and, in an even more vivid image, compares us to “Baby Huey dolls, those inflatable figures with the big red nose and the rounded bottom, weighted so that when you punch them — punch hard, punch with all your might — they bounce right back, grinning the same frozen, unchangeable grin.” This because Dylan allegedly holds his fans in such contempt and will not hesitate to dump the most awful recordings and live performances on them.
Ferguson is a facile writer with a knack for the biting dig. He certainly lands a few solid blows, and the many detesters of Dylan will undoubtedly be heartened by all his invective.
I can do no better in response to this than Sean Curnyn of Right Wing Bob. I would put heavy emphasis on the particularly unfortunate fact that Ferguson chose this album — all the royalties of which, you may recall, Dylan has announced will be given to hunger-related charities — to run the singer down for cupidity. It is also peculiar that he arraigns the man for publishing his songs “under the auspices of the particularly ruthless copyright enforcer BMI,” without ever taking a moment to notice the many Dylan tunes that have been adapted and released very successfully by other musicians. To adduce just a couple examples: Jimi Hendrix, U2 and Dave Matthews Band have all released acclaimed versions of “All Along the Watchtower”; Johnny Cash and June Carter recorded a rendition of “It Ain’t Me Babe” that may well be more famous than Dylan’s original; and the Grateful Dead frequently played covers of Dylan tunes, often hilariously botching the complicated lyrics. A friend of mine who has seen countless Grateful Dead shows says there were times when the listener could be forgiven for thinking he mistakenly wandered into the wrong concert.
One thing we can be sure of: people will continue to love and hate Bob Dylan.
November 22, 2009
The ultimate abandonment (Pro-life suites--suicide)
Just occasionally, I hear conservatives (or "conservatives") talking among themselves about why we should talk about or worry about the life issues. Talking about it in the sense of wondering whether it's really worth doing, or why, or how such talk relates to some other issues they are concerned about, or whether perhaps we should now be focusing on something else.
This is always a puzzlement to me. If you believe that the unborn child is a non-person, then your mind has been warped, but I understand why you don't think we should be fighting the abortion war. Obviously. If you think people should have a right to commit suicide, then you are just on the other side of the issue from the conservatives. And so forth. But if we agree about the sanctity of human life, then it should go without saying that the life issues are central, overwhelming, non-negotiable, and that, really, we can never talk about them too much.
Though I don't want to belabor old history, that explains why I chimed in in the way I did on this previous thread to draw attention to a (perhaps surprising) fact about a philosopher often known as conservative. See especially the quotation here.
And now comes a post from Wesley J. Smith about a terrible case in the UK that shows why and how suicide, among the other life issues, is a non-negotiable, and why we cannot really be too careful in the way we talk and think about the elderly in our society.
November 23, 2009
Monckton, on Climategate...
...pulls no punches. Some bits:
"This is what they did — these climate 'scientists' on whose unsupported word the world’s classe politique proposes to set up an unelected global government this December in Copenhagen...
"The tiny, close-knit clique of climate scientists...tampered with temperature data...One of the thousands of emails recently circulated by a whistleblower at the University of East Anglia...reveals that data were altered so as to prevent a recent decline in temperature from showing in the record...
"Worse, these arrogant fraudsters...have refused, for years and years and years, to reveal their data and their computer program listings. Now we know why: As a revealing 15,000-line document from the computer division at the Climate Research Unit shows, the programs and data are a hopeless, tangled mess. In effect, the global temperature trends have simply been made up...
"Finally, these huckstering snake-oil salesmen...have written to each other encouraging the destruction of data that had been lawfully requested under the Freedom of Information Act ...They are not merely bad scientists — they are crooks..."
New Issue of The Christendom Review
A new issue of The Christendom Review, a literary journal edited by friends of What's Wrong with the World, is out. It features pieces by our own Lydia McGrew, as well as by former contributor Bill Luse. You will also find some wonderful selections of photography by our illustrious webmaster and technical director, Todd McKimmey.
Everything is online, but you can purchase a hard copy at Lulu Marketplace for a reasonable price. Bill generously gave me one of these hard copies last summer; I can attest that the quality is high. You can also support the journal financially at this link.
November 25, 2009
Yoof-ful High Spirits
The Denver Post reports: "Racial attacks like the ones behind the arrest of 32 suspects in Denver are part of a trend spreading across the country, gang experts said Saturday."
Here's the sort of thing they're talking about:
[Warning: not for the easily offended. Violent assaults accompanied by thoroughly appropriate music.]
Here are some excerpts from The Denver Post's report:
Three cheers for recycling (Happy Thanksgiving)
Posts, that is. Here is a link to last year's Thanksgiving post, photo and all. (Photo credit--Eldest Daughter.)
The prayer is from the Book of Common Prayer. It is the general thanksgiving for Morning Prayer, believed to be based on a prayer originally by Queen Elizabeth I.
To my fellow contributors: Feel free to put up a post for the day of your own. Let this not inhibit you in the slightest, since, as you see, it is a rerun.
A happy Thanksgiving to our readers at What's Wrong With the World.
November 26, 2009
The First Thanksgiving Proclamation
November 26, 1789
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and
Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the third of October, in the year of our Lord 1789.
(signed) G. Washington
November 27, 2009
Contemporary academic philosophers tend to be dismissive of the idea that philosophy has any intrinsic moral or spiritual significance. To be sure, the left-of-center ones among them (which is most of them) do think that it can be indirectly morally beneficial insofar as it disabuses the young people who study it of (what these philosophers regard as) the moral, political, and religious illusions foisted upon them by their parents and the surrounding culture. But they have little time for the notion of philosophy as a way of life, as something inherently practical as well as intellectual – something which of its very nature tends toward the moral and spiritual betterment of those devoted to it. W. V. Quine once wrote a condescending piece about Mortimer Adler, brushing aside the latter’s complaint that contemporary philosophy has lost contact with the concerns of ordinary people. “The student who majors in philosophy primarily for spiritual comfort is misguided and is probably not a very good student anyway,” Quine assured his readers, “since intellectual curiosity is not what moves him.” You can find the essay in Quine’s anthology Theories and Things. I remember as a young man reading it and chuckling knowingly at Adler’s evident folly.
Well, I was the fool. Here as in so many other ways, the elegant Harvard man Quine was wrong and the pugnacious academic outsider Adler was right. It would take me many years to get to the point where I could even begin to see why.
November 29, 2009
Rifqa Bary updates and suggestions
I have not been keeping my W4 readers as updated as my Extra Thoughts readers on Rifqa Bary's situation. Hopefully no one of good will who wants to stay informed about her has missed out--perhaps that just means you have to read both blogs.
But just in case, here, here, and here are my updates on her situation since she was moved back to Ohio. As far as we know, she is still in foster care and has not been returned to her parents. However, she is being held essentially incommunicado, being denied Internet and phone contact as well as visits from her Christian friend, Pastor Jamal Jivanjee, who was our previous best source of information for her. This post at Atlas Shrugged contains a letter by Pastor Jivanjee detailing the runaround he got when he tried to schedule a pastoral visit with her.
This all looks very bad. Court hearing dates are being hidden from the public, apparently to prevent Rifqa from having supporters attend hearings. One public hearing date for which her supporters had planned a rally across the street was canceled, and it has been impossible so far to find out the continuation date. There is a hearing now scheduled for December 22 (and Pamela Geller has scheduled another rally); this is technically the hearing on the "incorrigible child" claim made by her parents, not the continuation of the canceled hearing on her "dependency" status (at which one would be more likely to have a ruling on her continuing in foster care).
This isolation from Christian friends appears to be an attempt to weaken her Christian commitment. Readers at Atlas have found guidelines for the Ohio Franklin County Children's Services that state that FCCS considers children "safest" in their "family's culture." It is not implausible that it is this guideline that is occasioning the attempt to isolate this 17-year-old girl from contact with Christians. It will be quite some months--eight months, I believe--before she turns eighteen, and she could easily be returned forcibly to her parents and, by them, to Sri Lanka long before her summer birthday.
Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugged has started a campaign to send Rifqa Christmas cards via her Ohio guardian ad litem. As far as I know, we have no commitment from the GAL to deliver the cards, nor is the GAL legally required to do so. But as T.S. Eliot says, "For us, there is only the trying..." so, I suggest that if you support Rifqa in her Christian faith, you try sending her a card. The address is
c/o Angela Lloyd
255C Drinko Hall
55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43201
Jamal Jivanjee also requests that people make contact with Rifqa's lawyer and with her guardian ad litem to ask them to make an "approved visitors list" for her which the FCCS will have to approve or reject. Part of the runaround he got was the claim by FCCS that the lawyers had made no approved visitors list and the claim by the lawyers that the FCCS had to schedule a visit. In the above-linked entry, Jamal gives e-mail addresses for Rifqa's lawyer and her GAL (both are attorneys).
Comments here are closed. Feel free to comment at Extra Thoughts, where I will be linking this post, or on any of the others, Please understand that I am draconian in moderating comments at my own blog and will not tolerate trolls, secular or Muslim, commenting on Rifqa's case. But as she needs all possible support from the Body of Christ, I ask my Christian readers to pray for her and to consider trying to send her a card.
No content-neutral perception of ideology
In my recent interview with James Allen on his show, we got to discussing what it means to be an ideologue. I had an inkling from James ahead of time that this question might come up (big revelation), and as I was thinking about it, it occurred to me that many of us are inclined to assume that a charge that someone is an ideologue can be sustained without reference to the truth or falsehood of what he believes. And it occurred to me that this is at most only partly true.
It can be legitimate to argue with a person thus: "Even if your belief about issue X is correct, issue X isn't as important as issue Y, and you are acting as though it is."
But even there, separating his beliefs about issue X from his beliefs about the importance of issue X isn't always as easy as it appears to be.
November 30, 2009
Dubai and the failure of the modern mind.
In far off Dubai, where human engineering has converted deserts into vast golf resorts, ski slopes with real snow, and enormous glittering towers, another debt crisis has for some days threatened to unravel parts of the byzantine infrastructure of world finance.
“This is punishment day. Why didn’t we sell last week? This is punishment for the unexpected news from Dubai World last week.” Thus the lament of a trader in Dubai.
The punishment news last week concerned the short-term debt securities of a quasi-private investment entity, formed by the Dubai government and dedicated to commercial real estate; more specifically, the debt securities of a company best known for fabricating man-made islands. This company, evidently an aggressive employer of engineering wizardry, both ecological and financial, has floated the idea of postponing the rollover of some maturing bonds, until it achieves such visibility as to “fully inform the market.”
The uncertainty is palpable. Dubai World has some characteristics of a sovereign wealth fund, meaning an enterprise run like a high-finance satrapy of the state. In any case it far from a truly private enterprise. Meanwhile, it appears from reports that the biggest banks exposed to the disputed debt and other aspects of the Dubai enterprise, are regional, European and UK banks that, due to the recent usury crisis, now have some characteristics of sovereign wealth funds. So we have, as it were, a quasi-state holding company in a staredown over some of its debt with its foreign creditors, many of which are quasi-state banking conglomerates.
Now, one of the lessons of the past 18 months is that these distant rumors of far-off finance machination gone bad cannot be safely ignored. Much as we might want to leave the capital structure of Gulf State holding companies to the financiers and their engineered devices, the financiers will not return the favor. Readers may recall that in 2008 such far off detonations triggered ruin and bankruptcy across the world. Giant insurance companies, industrial behemoths, small towns in Australia, whole nations — they were all, in various ways, shown to be subject to the machinations of high finance.
Muscular Christianity, cont.d
"The Vatican has condemned the Swiss ban on the construction of Islamic minarets as a 'blow to freedom of religion'
"The comment by a Vatican spokesman followed criticism from across Europe.
"Earlier on Monday the French foreign minister, Bernard Kauchner, said he was 'scandalised' by the Swiss decision and said it represented a 'show of intolerance' by France's neighbour.
"He said it was a 'negative' move because banning the construction of Muslim mosque towers amounts to 'oppressing a religion'.
"He told France's RTL radio: 'I hope that the Swiss will go back on this decision rather quickly.'
"Muslim groups in Switzerland and abroad condemned the vote as anti-Islamic..."
Well. The French foreign minister's reaction goes without saying. What else would one expect? But what's up with the Vatican?
I mean, G*d forbid that what passes for the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church today should ever risk even the appearance of being the least little bit anti-Islamic!
A Few Notes on the Swiss Minaret Ban
It had occurred to me earlier to day to post on the subject, but circumstances, as usual, conspired to prevent it before Steve put up his own post - I hope then that another post on the subject will be welcome.
One notable fact arising out of this event is that a considerable percentage of the Swiss electorate lied to the pollsters, expressing opposition to the measure before passing it. Notable, because people have taken the measure of their political establishments - the media being creatures of these - and, rather than calling down upon their weary ears a few weeks of politically correct dunning by openly avowing their support for the measure, simply withheld the truth from people who do only ill with it, and then carried out their intentions. Though I have not been to Switzerland, my father and I have traveled to numerous Western European nations; in every one of them, there is a current of alienation, among ordinary, non-political folks, from the establishments, political, economic, and media. Why should Switzerland be any different?
It is worthwhile, though, to reflect upon the following Stratfor analysis, for it affords a window on the mindset of the establishment, as well as their strategy moving forward: