What’s Wrong with the World

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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

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September 2012 Archives

September 1, 2012

More joys of feminism?

This story is a couple of months old, and I wish I knew how it ended. A couple of street preachers named Robert Parker and Don Karns (if you google a bit you'll find that they go around the world doing this) were preaching in a New Jersey train station in late June when they were approached by a couple of hostile police officers. One of them, Kathleen Shanahan, was definitely female, and the other was named "Sandy," so I'm just guessing that that was a woman as well.

It seems that for several years Parker and Karns have been unknowingly breaking a rule that says that you have to have a special permit and stand in a special zone in order to preach, leaflet, or engage in other types of advocacy speech to passersby in the New Jersey transit system. This rule has never been enforced on them before, and I infer that no one has told them about it before.

Eventually, after the street preachers filmed the police (which angered the police, even though the preachers stopped recording upon request), after Parker asked, "What law am I breaking?" and after Karns refused to provide ID, the two street preachers were arrested and charged with defiant trespass and two counts of obstruction for recording with a cell phone and declining to provide identification. Their court date was set for July 10, but I haven't been able to find out what happened.

I'll try to force myself to assume for the sake of the argument that Officers Kathleen and Sandy are just ardent sticklers for the rules, that the hostility had nothing to do with the religious nature of the speech, and that they would have enforced these rules on anyone they happened to come upon in the station, including members of PETA or the Occupy movement. In this, they appear to be different from a fellow officer who wished Parker and Karns a nice day two weeks previously. Still, Officer Kathleen and Officer Sandy could, as far as I can tell, have informed Parker and Karns of the rule in a friendly manner and told them how they could go about obtaining the needed permit. They could have then asked them to move along for the nonce, accompanying the request with a friendly, "Have a nice day." At that point, if Parker and Karns had refused to move along, there might (if the representation of the rule is correct) have been grounds for taking sterner measures.

But it doesn't sound like that was how it went. For one thing, Kathy and Sandy were really ticked off by the fact that Karns wouldn't show them ID. But even more, Kathy got the vapors over the fact that a) Parker had a backpack and b) the two men were trying to film them with a cell phone. She found this positively terrifying, threatening behavior and felt the need to express her fear:

Parker and Karns attempted to record the encounter with their cell phones, but were ordered to turn them off, which they did.

“[Sergeant Shanahan] started repeatedly saying, ‘Put the phone down; put the phone down,’” Karns recounted. “You guys are big guys, and I’m just a little officer. You know how scary it is when you have a camera in your hand. How do I know you’re not terrorists? I have no way of knowing that’s not a bomb.”

Karns said that Shanahan explained that she had just been to a class last week which showed cell phones being used as weapons, and informed the men that it was against the law for them to film her. She later told Parker that she also had concerns about his backpack, which was searched for train tickets after it was confiscated by police.

Don't get me wrong. Male police officers can behave very badly as well. (All the officers involved in the arrests of Christians in Dearborn, which I've discussed at length, were male.) But I imagine I won't be the only one who is moved to a mixture of disgust and amusement at Officer Kathy's childish and exaggeratedly feminine approach to police work. What, exactly, was her goal in saying these things to Parker and Karns? If they really were Christianist terrorists (which evidently she thought plausible), would they be moved to pity by her "little ol' me" speech? If they were just what they appeared to be--street preachers who didn't know they needed a permit--why slander them by implying that they are a threat? Why, in that case, even feel threatened by their filming the encounter?

Officer Kathy is neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring. She's not bold enough to deal with potential terrorists without whining about how she's "just a little officer" and how "scary" their behavior is. And she's not sensible enough to treat harmless citizens in a civilized manner. I can just imagine how useful it would be if Abdul were about to blow up Officer Kathy for her to tell him how "scary" his cell phone is. Yeah, that'll work. Keep it up, Kathy. You're making the citizens of New Jersey a lot safer.

Meanwhile, just to show that all those stereotypes about vindictiveness are incorrect...

As they were separated, Parker states that he overheard the officers disagreeing over which cell to place him in.

“There’s a pervert in there; we’ll put him in that one,” he heard Shanahan say.

Oh, the joys of women in the police force.

September 5, 2012

King Bond Approximately

Below the fold is a bit of bosh by me. I read this story about Bob Dylan’s music being securitized in order to capture the royalties in a fixed-income chimera; I laughed and my mind just naturally drifted in idle conjectures about the opportunities for good jokes, which might be made among unabashed fans of Dylan, of finance parody of the Troubador's lyrics.

If you know nothing, care nothing or only detest Dylan’s music, pay no attention to the rubbish below. The element of humor is never far from Dylan songs, even the most dire and squalid, so it stands to reason that his lyrics might easily adapt to the jape and sarcasm of caricatures. I’ll stick to well-known songs.

But even if you know nothing and care nothing about Dylan, do take note of the hilarity of trying, by arcane financial sorcery, to convert those lyrics set to that music -- all that wild amalgam of Americana sung by a dude with a mediocre voice at best -- into some reliable future revenue stream and thus liquid security.

The question arises, though: How do we price that Dylan security against government securities? That’s how finance prices all debt securities -- a comparison or “spread” between the interests rates at any given maturity. Do fractional claims on the credit of Bob Dylan’s output stand a better chance of holding value and liquidity than a Treasury bond thought to resemble that credit? How do they compare with mortgage debt assets, now a half decade of into the doldrums? Is Dylan more speculative than Facebook stock? Would Dylan securities protect against currency devaluation?

No one really knows, but maybe Goldman thinks they’ve found a new class of suckers -- Dylan fans.

Continue reading "King Bond Approximately" »

September 7, 2012

Complementarianism and the Gospel Coalition

I don't claim to be as plugged in to the Protestant Christian blogosphere as I could be. Many other people know what's up there, and I often don't. This by way of apology for errors in what follows.

As I understand it, the Gospel Coalition is a reformed-leaning, orthodox, evangelical parachurch organization that provides resources to pastors and churches in an attempt to reform and stabilize the evangelical church in America and worldwide.

As it happens, TGC has as part of its statement of faith the concept which has become known as "complementarianism"--in brief, the notion that God made men and women different and meant for them to have different roles in the family and in the church. Of particular relevance to what follows is that complementarianism is opposed to women's ordination and to women's preaching in a role of authority over men. Its opposite in theological circles, which some would call feminism, is known as "egalitarianism."

Recently TGC put up a thoughtful round-table discussion among TGC leaders D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper on the question of why TGC is complementarian. If you are interested in this subject at all, I encourage you to watch it, even though it's about seventeen minutes long (which is longer than I usually have patience for when it comes to videos on-line).

The video went up on August 15, and apparently in response, on August 24, Carl Trueman, who teaches Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, put up on his blog a series of posts in which he argues that, though he himself is a complementarian, a parachurch organization like TGC should not make complementarianism a foundational part of its identity by putting that position into its confessional statement. His posts can be found here and here.

Continue reading "Complementarianism and the Gospel Coalition" »

September 10, 2012

Why Are Catholics Still Voting For Democrats?

Prompted partly by the election season and some comments from Catholic bloggers, partly by this excellent article by Jonathan Last on the subject of the vanishing pro-life (mostly Catholic) Democrats, and by the recent discussion in the comments of Lydia’s recent post concerning complementarianism, I thought I would briefly discuss the problem of voting for a Democrat for national office (Congress or President) if you are a serious, orthodox Catholic. In short, you can’t do it because to do so would be to support the Democratic Party which stands for abortion on demand and for the redefinition of marriage. Of course, it also doesn’t help that the party’s signature health care law restricts religious liberty, but at the end of the day, given that Catholics must not support evil even if “good” will result (which I don’t believe will result from Obamacare or any other “social program” funded by the federal government, but even if you did believe in the arguments of the liberal Catholics that Obamacare helped reduce the incidence of abortion, you’d still be required to oppose the law) and Obamacare directly provides funds for individuals seeking abortions -- which means our taxdollars are helping kill human beings.

This decision really isn’t all that complicated and why we still have millions of Catholics in this country who are willing to pull the lever for Democratic Congressmen and for President Obama is the real mystery. Again, one has to wonder: our are Bishops and our priests doing their jobs and teaching the faithful about what are prudential matters that can be left to our individual consciences and what are clear matters of church teaching on faith and morals? Apparently not.

September 11, 2012

Link round-up

I've accumulated several things to note which require little comment but which readers may find interesting, so I've decided to put these heterogenous elements into a post together.

Item 1: The last lecture in the apologetics series by Timothy McGrew, my husband, is now up at Brian Auten's Apologetics315 site. This is "Alleged Contradictions in the Gospels, Part 2." Apologetics 315 has links to the handout and Powerpoint, but if you just want the Youtube, here it is:

Continue reading "Link round-up" »

September 14, 2012

Defining "deviance" down

Franciscan University in Steubenville has a social work degree. Unfortunately for Franciscan, it also has (if "has" is quite the right word) the curse of an organized rabble of proudly homosexual alumni. "How did that happen to such an allegedly conservative school?" you may wonder. Answer: I don't know, but it can probably happen to the best of schools. Maybe Steubenville needs to bring in a few more witch-hunters, because obviously they aren't doing a very thorough job.

The combination of this course of study and this curse has brought about a different kind of witch hunt--the hunt for anything in Steubenville's course catalog that might bring it into the dock for crimes against the homosexual agenda.

Turns out that the only social work program accrediting body in the U.S., the Council on Social Work Education, is full of utterly committed missionaries for the full homosexualist and gender-bending agenda, and somehow Steubenville (which we'll assume is not on-board with that agenda) has previously flown under its radar. The CSWE has a "diversity" requirement that should make any Catholic or Christian college blanch:

The council’s 2008 accreditation standards say an accredited program must have a “commitment to diversity” including sexual orientation and “gender identity and expression” that is “reflected in its learning environment.” This includes “the demographic make-up of its faculty, staff and student body.”

[snip]

The council’s Commission for Diversity and Social and Economic Justice includes a council on sexual orientation and gender identity. This commission council says on its website that it works for “the full participation of individuals who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or two-spirit in social work education.” It identifies and advocates changes in “any policies, procedures, or activities” that impede these persons’ “full and affirming participation.”

Steubenville's sin, which the alumni group has now brought to the attention of the CSWE, is apparently copying from a secular textbook the term "deviant" to describe a hodge-podge of behaviors for purposes of a course description. And, you guessed it, that list includes homosexual behavior.

I admit to being a little surprised that a secular textbook chooses to list homosexual acts under a descriptive category of "deviant behaviors," but given that the terminology came from the secular textbook, I fully believe Steubenville's claim that the origin of the term is purely descriptive and not normative. Unless the textbook was printed in 1955 or something and has not been altered since, which is surely not the case.

Continue reading "Defining "deviance" down" »

New Zealand Takes the Cake

Good news for all you tree-huggers out there: New Zealand has just extended the framework of law beyond any rational perspective, to include within the expression “person” the Whanganui River. Henceforward, the river will be accorded personhood status, with rights pertinent thereto. Based on an agreement between the Crown and the Iwi tribal entity, the River will be a “person” before the law.

As many of you know from past discussions, talking about what “personhood” means for purposes of law is not easy, and it is not intuitive. There are lots of ways to make mistakes. One way is to assume that granting personhood under law means treating the entity as a person for ALL purposes. It just ain’t so. Most laws that call non-human entities as “persons” do so in a framework that explicitly recognizes them as persons for certain purposes and explicitly denies them the same rights granted to human beings for other purposes. Just to take one area, under tax law the term “person” generally includes both human beings and corporations, and also a number of other things, like associations, trusts, and estates. The term “individual” is reserved for human persons. And under tax law, non-human “persons” have certain rights, whereas individual human persons have considerably more rights – for example, only human beings can sign a Power of Attorney form and be the authorized representative for a pension plan.

Continue reading "New Zealand Takes the Cake" »

September 19, 2012

Vandalism, poetry, and music

Time for a post that has something to do with music.

Here is a wonderful, though painful, column by Tony Esolen from last year about the vandalism done to hymns by the forces of political correctness, feminism, and general theological down-watering. I knew they were doing this kind of stuff. I just didn't previously feel strong enough to know how bad it is. It's very, very bad. Here are a couple of samples of the tripe:

O blest communion, family divine!

We live and struggle, they in glory shine:

Yet all are one within God’s great design.

Crown him, ye martyrs of our God,

Who from his altar call;

Extol the stem of Jesse’s rod,

And crown him Lord of all!

Extol the stem of Jesse’s rod,

And crown him Lord of all!

(Esolen: "The poet hears the word extol and thinks straightaway of something being lifted high, since that’s what the word literally means. All right then – how do you extol a stem? What does that mean? Or is it the rod we’re extolling? Is it the rod of the stem of Jesse, or the stem of the rod of Jesse? And what does the rod of the stem or the stem of the rod have to do with that moment in Revelation, and martyrdom? Nothing, people; just keep singing and don’t ask questions.")

And my personal nominee for the most howlingly horrible sample given in the article--the vandals' version of "A Mighty Fortress."

God’s word forever shall abide,

No thanks to foes, who fear it;

For God himself fights by our side

With weapons of the Spirit.

Were they to take our house,

Goods, honor, child, or spouse,

Though life be wrenched away,

They cannot win the day.

The Kingdom’s ours forever!

"Were they to take our hoooouse,/Goods, honor, child, or spoouse..."

Make it stop! Please, make it stop!

Esolen does the sort of skewering job that we all wish we could do on such nonsense. He points out, trenchantly, that sometimes the allergy to KJV "-eth" endings is a useful pretext for revisers to get rid of other things they don't like for ideological reasons. He loves the English language and has that excellent English prof's ability to tell us why the original poetry was wonderful and should have been left alone.

Thanks be to God for the 1940 Hymnal. If you're a Baptist, Great Hymns of the Faith is unvandalized.

I have to say, perhaps I shouldn't be this dogmatic, but I don't think I could bear to attend a church that sang songs that had been neutered, defaced, and tortured in the ways that Esolen chronicles.

Bonus: Esolen on new hymns (in this case, new Catholic ones). Or perhaps one should say "hymns." They really are hilariously awful, and in a sense less infuriating than the vandalism of wonderful old hymns. After all, if one wants to write shlock, one should have the courage to write one's own shlock rather than coming along like a feminist harpy and tearing up someone else's glorious English poetry. So if you need to lighten up and have a less bitter laugh after reading the first Esolen piece, read the second. (But I don't think I'd be able to attend somewhere where I had to sing the new shlock, either.)

September 22, 2012

Raids by the Jihad

The administration’s handling of the razzia in Benghazi has been nothing short of disgraceful. Four Americans, including our ambassador, were butchered on sovereign US soil in a calculated raid, and for a week and more the administration has persisted in the flat-out lie that the whole affair was the consequence of overzealous protestors, understandably incensed at a Youtube trailer to an anti-Islamic film that may or may not exist.

The emphasis on this peculiar trailer arises from a derangement of mind under pressure from Jihadist agitation. It is the dhimma mentality at work. It exceeds in ignominy the same mentality evidenced by the Bush administration in response to similar pressure in 2005 during the Cartoon Jihad. And it hardly need by added that the 70 grand spent by the administration in ads denouncing the film might as well have been spent on ads promoting the film.

The country is now teeming with liberals who, with perfect sincerity, believe the First Amendment should be quietly abridged to protect favored religions from insult or abuse. Remember when all those Catholics rose up in revolt against The Da Vinci Code and our dear liberals instantly prostrated themselves in appeasement? Oh, wait . . .

In a word, the Benghazi razzia was a smashing success.

Meanwhile, hardly anyone noticed, but last week also witnessed another successful razzia — in Afghanistan, where the US Marine Corps suffered “the worst loss of U.S. airpower in a single incident since the Vietnam War.” Marine Attack Squadron 211 lost its commander and another Marine, suffered nine personnel wounded, and at least six top-of-the-line Harrier jets destroyed (out of production since 1999 and therefore unlikely to ever be replaced); the unit has been rendered combat ineffective for the first time since December 1941.

These events are unpleasant to contemplate. The Jihad is bolder than ever; it understands liberals better than they understand themselves, and has no hesitation in exploiting that knowledge when the opportunity presents itself. For all our material and military might, we remained crippled by intellectual and spiritual weakness.

September 26, 2012

Why Are Catholics Still Voting For Democrats? - Part 2

I came across the following pastoral letter from Bishop Thomas John Paprocki. Bishop Paprocki serves in my home state of Illinois (in the Springfield diocese -- the same city that was famously the home of Lincoln before he became President). I couldn't resist sharing it with our readers as it speaks directly to my previous post on the subject of Catholics and voting for Democrats; and even though the Bishop tries hard not to be partisan, as Paprocki says, it is obvious which political party directly supports intrinsic evil and which one does not and therefore it is obvious how a Catholic should vote, assuming the choice is one between a conventional Democrat and a conservative Republican (if they are going to bother to vote in the first place).

Any questions?

Continue reading "Why Are Catholics Still Voting For Democrats? - Part 2" »

September 28, 2012

Bombshell allegations against New York organ procurement entity

A new whistle-blower lawsuit makes allegations that in a just world would, if even some are substantiated, shut down the New York State organ procurement organization, the New York Donor Network. An independent investigator should be appointed to look into each and every case to the fullest extent possible. Since there are very serious questions here that would, if borne out, mean that patients were killed for organs, there should also be a role for the state Attorney General. For that matter, it wouldn't hurt a bit if the families of the patients in question socked the Network with lawsuits of their own. If for whatever reason the Network is shielded from suit, they should sue the doctors who succumbed to outside pressure in declaring death.

Here are a few highlights:

In September 2011, a 19-year-old man injured in a car wreck was admitted to Nassau University Medical Center. He was still trying to breathe and showed signs of brain activity, the suit charged.

But doctors declared him brain dead under pressure from donor-network officials, including Director Michael Goldstein, who allegedly said during a conference call: “This kid is dead, you got that?” the suit charged.

That same month, a woman was admitted to St. Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx still showing signs of life, the suit said.

She had a kidney transplant earlier in life and network officials used that to pressure her daughter into giving consent.

[snip]

McMahon’s objections were ignored by a neurologist, who declared her brain dead — and her organs were harvested, according to the suit. McMahon even claims he tried to get a second opinion.

Continue reading "Bombshell allegations against New York organ procurement entity" »

September 29, 2012

Blessed Michaelmas!

michael24.jpg

Whenever possible, I try to have a Michaelmas post here at W4, even if rather repetitious from past years. As I said back in '08, today, September 29, is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, known in Merry Old England as Michaelmas. Michaelmas really is one of my favorite feast days, and it seems particularly appropriate to us here at What's Wrong with the World, because the whole point of the reading for this feast is that the good guys do win in the end, and by battle, too, but that sometimes the ultimate victory takes a while. Here is the entire (exceedingly cool) reading for today from Revelation.

The Book of Revelation, the twelfth chapter, beginning at the seventh verse:

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."

And here is Bach's wonderful work for the Feast of St. Michael, a setting for what that voice from heaven cries: