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May 2012 Archives

May 1, 2012

Chuck Colson Remembered

Charles W. Colson passed into eternal life on April 21, 2012. He was salient among a few Christians whose work strongly influenced my own conversion some twenty years ago. Colson was an authentic and courageous warrior for Christ, defying political categories.

"On his frequent visits to prison, inmates crowded around Colson, and he always seemed to have time for everyone. Everyone mattered."

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

May 2, 2012

The Shame of the Obama administration

The Obama administration had done, and attempted to do, many shameful things. This most recent one brings shame on America in the eyes of the whole world.

The latest news I have in the case of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng is here.The previous news just before that is here.

Briefly: Blind activist Chen Guangcheng, who has exposed and criticized China's forced-abortion policy, dramatically escaped from house arrest and was transported by friends to the U.S. embassy. He had to leave his wife and child behind, however. While in the U.S. embassy, he was pressured by U.S. officials to leave. The officials faithfully relayed threats from the despicable Communist Chinese government to beat his wife to death if he did not leave. Eventually he agreed to leave and go to the hospital to be treated for an injury sustained in the course of his escape. He agreed to this partly because of the threats and partly because of a promise from the U.S. that American officials would stay with him in the hospital. Our government then betrayed him, and the Americans mysteriously melted away from the hospital.

(By the way, see here for a correction to a media story being relayed all over, including in the above stories: Chen did not send a message to Hilary Clinton that he wanted to "kiss" her.)

More: The despicable Communist Chinese government is demanding an apology for our even allowing Chen into the embassy. Well, we aren't quite giving them that, but we are giving them a promise that the "incident" will not be repeated. Got that? We're promising to abandon Chen entirely and not to let him into the embassy should he manage to escape again. But why would he bother? We already betrayed him once.

And now he's appealing to Obama to get him and his family out of China? He can't really mean that. Surely he's realized the truth by now.

Obama has brought dishonor on us all by this treacherous treatment of a brave man.

America used to be a city on a hill. The light has been quenched. May God have mercy on us and protect Chen Guangcheng

May 6, 2012

We are all relativists now, Part II

A Nova Scotia student, William Swinimer, has been given a 5-day suspension for continuing (after being warned) to wear a Christian T-shirt deemed offensive to non-Christians. What does it say? "Life is wasted without Jesus."

The powers and principalities are not subtle about the locus of their objection:

School board Supt. Nancy Pynch-Worthylake said the wording on the shirt is problematic because it is directed at the beliefs of others.

"If I have an expression that says 'My life is enhanced with Jesus,' then there's no issue with that, everybody is able to quickly understand that that's my opinion about my own belief," she said.

Thanks, Nancy, that's very clear. We are all relativists now. Christian expressions are allowed so long as all they say is that Jesus is good for me. Christian statements are non-threatening so long as they're purely personal, subjective, and relative. The problem comes in where anyone implies that Jesus is also good for somebody else, that other people will be better off if they know Jesus. That, in fact, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. (Just imagine what they'd do with a T-shirt that said, "Jesus is the only way.") Statements that imply that Christianity is objectively true and that this might make a claim on somebody else's life are verboten.

In other words, expressions of real Christianity are verboten.

We learn from the video accompanying the story that William has been a "problem" in other ways. Not only has he made atheists feel criticized, poor babies, by wearing a T-shirt that implies that their lives are wasted without Jesus, he has also been preaching (aka witnessing) to people. Can't have that salt and light stuff. This little light of yours, I'm not gonna let it shine. The contempt of his fellow students is evident in their faces, and chilling.

I would say that relativism is the state religion of Nova Scotia, except that there's a sense in which we all know that that's not true, either. Expressions that condemn, say, homophobia would certainly not be forbidden. In fact, I'm certain that teachers at Forest Heights Community School make such statements themselves from positions of authority, even though that entails criticizing the beliefs of others. And a T-shirt that said, "Tolerance is greater than hatred" (okay, I'm sure you can make up something catchier, but you get the idea) would surely not be banned simply because it entailed a criticism of the beliefs of those deemed intolerant.

So selective relativism is the state religion of Nova Scotia. Which is to say that leftist ideology is the state religion of Nova Scotia.

Shine on, William. You will have your reward in heaven.

HT: Wintery Knight

The original "We're all relativists now" post is here.

May 10, 2012

Christianity, Philosophy, and the integrated mind

There are two different attitudes that I will call "approaches of diffidence" that Christians who are philosophers can take. One is more extreme than the other. Both are wrong.

Attitude #1 is what I will call the Averroist Approach. The Averroist Approach says that, to be an honest and professional philosopher, you must even in your own mind completely bracket your Christian beliefs when you are doing philosophy. So, for example, if you are examining the question of the existence of a non-material aspect to man, you should bracket the fact that traditional Christianity clearly does assume that there is such a thing (hint: "the soul"). That's religion, not philosophy. The two are different, and that's flat. They just don't have anything to do with one another, and the fact that you believe Christianity to be true can't give you any reason, while you happen to have your philosopher's hat on your head, for believing in the existence of the soul.

My reasons for connecting this approach with Averroes should be historically evident.

Attitude #2 is what I will call Extreme Rhetorical Diffidence. ERD says that even though in the privacy of their own minds Christian philosophers do believe things at odds with the zeitgeist, when it comes to making arguments, they have to pretend for practical purposes that they don't. In fact, the best rhetorical thing to do is to assume, for the sake of the argument, the truth of the most popular present philosophical position, even if that is not only totally at odds with your Christian beliefs but also at odds with other known and developed philosophical options. Hence, even though there are non-Christians (or philosophers who don't make use of explicitly Christian premises) who question or outright deny naturalism, use only naturalist premises when making your arguments--say, in ethics. Even though there have been secular humanist philosophers who have rejected Peter Singer (e.g., Jenny Teichman), use only Singer-approved premises when doing ethics. Even though neo-Aristotelians like David Oderberg defend essences, assume nominalism in metaphysics. Even though Richard Fumerton is an internalist in epistemology, don't question naturalized epistemology and externalism. Even though Thomas Nagel strongly questions materialism, don't challenge the premise that the mind evolved by purely material means. And so forth.

Continue reading "Christianity, Philosophy, and the integrated mind" »

May 12, 2012

Fisher-More College


The College of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More was launched in Fort Worth, Texas, on the 5th of May. It is really the continuation of St. Thomas More College, begun in 1981, but reorganized along classical and traditionalist lines. Longtime W4 readers will be pleased to learn that May 5 was chosen because it is the feast of Pope St. Pius V, who "instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory—a particularly fond title of Our Lady to certain members of our faculty. This feast was instituted in gratitude for victory in the Battle of Lepanto since the victory was attributed to Our Lady after all of Europe prayed the Rosary for aid."

Liturgically, the College is devoted to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, with the blessing of the diocese. It's the only four-year college of its kind in the United States (and perhaps the world). The academic curriculum seems fairly rigorous. In addition to liberal arts, the college plans to offer a business and commerce degree. Fisher-More is the first to fulfill a long neglected "niche" in American higher education.

I hope you'll take some time to persuse the website, and if similarly inspired, spread the news.

No Mother's Day?

Mothers this year are being asked to ignore their children on Mother's Day:

This Sunday, children of all ages will celebrate the role mothers play in their lives. But Vogue model Christy Turlington Burns and a host of female celebrities are encouraging mothers across the nation to ignore their children as part of "No Mother’s Day," a sign of their support for reducing maternal mortality by supporting family planning and global access to abortion.

The campaign asks women to "disappear" on Mother’s Day to raise awareness of maternal mortality rates and underscore "just how much a mother is missed when she’s gone." But amidst positive initiatives such as improved health care for complications such as hemorrhage and sepsis, the campaign promotes "safe" abortion, and the legalization of abortion in nations where the practice is currently illegal, as a means of lowering maternal deaths.

A press release for Every Mother Counts, the nonprofit Turlington launched in 2010, notes a new PSA "features moms encouraging other moms to join in solidarity by disappearing on May 13th, Mother’s Day. No phone calls. No emails. No social media. No gifts.”

Continue reading "No Mother's Day?" »

May 13, 2012

Catholicism and An Integrated Philosophy

As my esteemed colleague Lydia McGrew illustrated in this post, there is a fairly severe malfunction in the mode under which many Christians undertake to argue contested points with non-Christians, especially in the corridors of educational institutions. This is a follow-up to that. The demise of forthright insistence on principles, even ones that are not popular, struck Catholic universities during the last century at least as hard as it struck in other places, perhaps more so. As of 1970 there was, for all practical purposes, no supposedly Catholic college in America in which one could reliably get sound Catholic philosophy, and biology that didn’t directly oppose that philosophy.

Some men saw the problems, and decided to write a critique of the trend, an analysis of the problem, and a solution – at least for the college arena. Thus they set forth the foundational document – called “the Blue Book” after its first published form - of a college that they then went on to bring into being and operate. Below are some excerpts of that document. I think that they make the point better than I could.

The willingness of a college to secularize itself in the hope of monetary gain presupposes that it already views its Catholicity as something that is subject to negotiation, which in turn presupposes that it has rejected the traditional doctrine that the essential purpose of a Catholic college is to educate under the light of the Faith. We find, in fact, that the most outspoken proponents of the secularization of the Catholic colleges are not arguing about economic considerations but are attacking the very idea of a college that educates under the light of the Faith.

Continue reading "Catholicism and An Integrated Philosophy" »

May 16, 2012

Notes on the Crisis: Grexit edition.


The Long Tedium of Euro Crisis perdures. It’s clear that Greek departure is a real possibility; it’s plausible that this brings down the whole euro as a currency; but it is also conceivable that for people sedulous in gaining actionable financial intelligence, trades into the new currencies — neo-drachma, neo-lira, neo-franc — are already extant, by means of synthetic sight-unseen derivatives trades.

Now and then we’re informed by pundits, or rather proffered an insinuation: that Greece is all tourism and street crime and communists. “They don’t make anything anyway.” Well, they do control some fifth of the world’s shipping in certain categories of vessel. What’s happened is not that the Greeks cannot, any longer, be a productive and enterprising people; it’s that their governments have promised them too much security and livelihood at public expense, combined with the detail that Greeks don’t pay taxes. So revenues do not match commitments and the borrowing power the euro provided only masked an underlying derangement.

Contrariwise some of my friends on the Right, I do insist on noticing that creditors to Greece were part of this derangement in a big way as well. One of those creditors, it turns out, was former New Jersey Governor and Senator, and former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Jon Corzine. His hotshot quasi-hedge fund sunk big capital into a bet that peripheral Eurozone debt would rebound because (one presumes) the ECB would finance its liquidity; but the hotshots really blundered and somehow (via fraud or incompetence) sunk unconsented client capital into this and similarly disastrous trades.

The US bank JPMorgan, meanwhile, labors under the bad press of its own disastrous trades. The distant inheritors of the great Morgan financial empire didn’t get caught plugging the holes in their balance sheet with client funds; but it’s plain that they got taken for suckers, whether in proprietary trading, hedging or whatever specificity your prefer.

In a now-familiar dynamic, all this uncertainty and volatility redounds to the benefit of the US Treasury. Treasury securities continue to sell like hotcakes. The US government can issue debt at historically low cost. Creditors are lining up to lend us their money.

I stand by my conviction that the amalgamation of commercial and investment banking has been a stupefying failure. Let me be more explicit: most of the bank deregulation of the 1990s (bills written by a GOP Congress and signed by Bill Clinton) should be repealed. The sooner we restore those old quarantines the better. The only reason I care that JPMorgan traders in London lost their shirts on synthetic credit derivative trades is that, like most very large conglomerate banks, JPMorgan is dependent on TBTF and the intimacy with government it implies. And one of the key foundations of that intimacy is JPMorgan’s enormous depositary unit being fused with its capital market prop trading units.

Let me note in passing that Eurozone banks are generally much bigger than ours. And half of them are nearly crippled by Greek, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese exposures. Even if, mirabile dictu, the US finance sector were cleansed of its insidious usury, we’d still be confronting a world full of TBTF banks, national champions, sovereign wealth funds, and mercantilism from Germany to China.

One thing I can predict with confidence is that the interesting times will persist.

May 17, 2012

Truth catching up with fiction

I have recently been re-reading a bunch of Michael D. O'Brien novels. O'Brien is very talented. I hope to write a serious "What We're Reading" post on his truly great (and free-standing) A Cry of Stone soon, but here I'm referring to Eclipse of the Sun, which is the third in a series and somewhat dependent on the earlier novels.

Eclipse of the Sun appears to be set approximately contemporary to its own writing in 1999, and, as O'Brien points out in a brief afterward, many of the things it portrays had already happened by the time it was written. It has the feel of a near-future dystopian thriller, and, as I'm sure O'Brien would have fully admitted, the sheer outrageousness of government behavior (in the book, the Canadian federal government summarily murders both an entire drug commune and an entire community of nuns for somewhat obscure reasons) and the thoroughness of the totalitarianism were not meant to be claims of present reality.

I could not help being reminded of our present times, however, by the following coincidence: I've just gotten to the part of the book that details the actions of a fictional, unnamed archbishop of Vancouver as he attempts to clean house in his diocese and, while he's at it, resist or prepare to resist various immoral government mandates. And just as I got to that part in the book, a link to this story was posted by a friend on Facebook. It's from February, but I hadn't seen it before. It prompts the reaction, "Go, Cardinal George."

Some quotations from the Cardinal:

What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.
Liberty of religion is more than freedom of worship. Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union. You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship-no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and the works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. All of these were co-opted by the government. We fought a long cold war to defeat that vision of society.

George is completely right about the freedom of religion vs. freedom of worship thing. That small wording shift, signaling a very large shift in American protection of freedom of religion, is indeed part of Obama's agenda, as Wesley J. Smith (a lawyer, inter alia) has been pointing out all along.

Evidently Cardinal George has also said,

I expect to die in bed. My successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.
Them's strong words. Even if they are not literally fulfilled, George may be justified in making the prediction. And if we weaken it to something like, "At some point a Catholic bishop in North America will go to prison for opposing a government mandate on Catholic churches or institutions that violates Catholic teaching," I would say it's not a bad bet.

It's an even better bet now that we see that Catholic bishops (not just individual Catholic priests) appear willing to do something other than capitulate. That's heartening, even to us Protestants.

In related news, Franciscan University in Steubenville is dropping its student health insurance in response to the HHS mandate. (Question: Does anybody know what this means, from the story? "However, the employee health insurance program will remain unchanged." How does that relate to the HHS mandate?)

As the iron fist inside the velvet glove becomes more and more evident, as is happening with startling speed in the current administration, we may see truth catching up with fiction more and more and O'Brien emerging as something of an informal prophet.

May 18, 2012

Sad news for tradition

On February 20, 2009, in comments to a post called "Conservatives and Tradition" by Ed Feser, I wrote this:

I've always dreaded the day when the Spanish Riding School in Vienna has women riders in its regular performances. Perhaps they already do, but I think not yet. The tradition there is unique, and it is a package. It is not that women cannot be great dressage riders. They certainly can be and have been, and male teachers know this full-well. It's that the whole mystique of the Hofreitschule is a connected thing and that changing it in the name of some abstract concept of sexual equality and "justice" would be just terribly sad. In my opinion, anyway. And there must be many other examples, small and great, of similar things in the world, where no absolute natural law principle is involved but where liberal ideology goes around tearing down or would like to tear down the concrete traditions that have been built up over centuries and have become very beautiful as things in themselves. There must be a way to communicate what is wrong with that.

Later that year I posted this footage of the immortal white stallions and their riders.

Little did I know: Already, in late 2008, the Hofreitschule had admitted its first female eleves--young riders in training.

The two young women, Sojurner Morell and Hannah Zeitlhofer, are no doubt excellent horsewomen with the potential to ride dressage extremely well. (Based on the rider list, about which more below, Morell appears to be no longer with the Reitschule, while Zeitlhofer has moved up to the level of Assistant Rider.) I am not in any way questioning their ability to ride. Dressage is not by any means a male-only sport.

The issue is one of continuity and the integrity of tradition. Nor am I by any means the only one to raise such a question:

"I am not happy about this decision," Elisabeth Max-Theurer, the female president of the governing board, was quoted by the daily Wiener Zeitung as saying.

"I stress that I am not against women - I am only concerned about tradition," said Max-Theurer, a former dressage rider who won gold for Austria in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Obviously, Elisabeth Max-Theurer knows something about women and their capability for dressage riding, but she was not happy.

So, how has this already been bad for tradition? Besides, that is, the general gleeful hooting and hollering about how wonderful it is that the oldest riding school in the world has broken from tradition in a "blow for female equality," besides the not-so-faintly patronizing references to the "Teutonic world" as "lagging behind" the rest of the Western world in this area. Let me count the more concrete ways:

Continue reading "Sad news for tradition" »

May 19, 2012

Chen Guangcheng has come to America

With his wife and two children. A follow-up to this post.

I was struck by the hastiness of his departure:

Chen said by telephone Saturday that he was informed at the hospital just before noon to pack his bags to leave. Officials did not give him and his family passports or inform them of their flight details until after they got to the airport.

It reminded me of the sudden departure of Georgi Vins and his family as recounted in Children of the Storm. As far as I know, there was no prisoner exchange here as there was for Vins and his family.

Good for whoever brought this about. I don't suppose we'll ever know, specifically. It's a better outcome than we had any right to expect after Chen was sent back out of the U.S. embassy. Chen's fears for his extended family back in China are certainly justified, and we can be grateful that his wife and children are with him. Welcome to the United States, Chen Guangcheng.

May 22, 2012

(Guest Post) On the authorship of the fourth Gospel: A letter to a young enquirer

A guest post by Timothy McGrew


Great question! I’m a little curious as to how it arose—did your friends raise it? your pastor? someone else?

I am persuaded that the fourth Gospel was written by John, the brother of James and son of Zebedee. There are quite a number of reasons for thinking this, and that means that this is going to be a rather long note.

So here’s the short answer:

1. Every scrap of evidence we have from the writings of the early church indicates that the fourth Gospel had always been known to be written by John. And we have lots.

2. A careful examination of the Gospel itself shows that it must have been written by a Jew who was a native of Palestine and an eyewitness of numerous events, including many where only Jesus and the disciples were present. From internal clues, we can pretty safely narrow it down to John.

Now for the long answer.

First, let’s look at the

External Evidence

The first question we should ask when we are investigating the authorship of any ancient book is what people near to the time said about its authorship. Here, starting about 230 years after it was written and then moving backwards, is a list of some of the evidence:

1. Eusebius (~AD 325) classifies it as a book about which there had never been any doubt. He doesn’t do this for all of the books of the New Testament, so that fact is pretty significant. (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.24.17)

2. Origen (~AD 220) testifies that he had learned by tradition that it was the work of “him who reclined upon the breast of Jesus, John who has left behind a single Gospel, though he confesses that he could make so many as not even the world could contain” (quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.25)—indisputable evidence that he thought it was the work of the son of Zebedee.

3. Tertullian (~AD 200) expressly states that the four Gospels were acknowledged to be the work of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John ever since the apostolic period (Against Marcion 4.5).

4. The Muratorian fragment (~AD 180) affirms that “the author of the fourth Gospel is John, one of the disciples.”

5. At about the same time, it is named as John’s work by Irenaeus (~AD 180). Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp (see his Letter to Florinus, quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.20), who had in turn heard John himself when he was a young man and John was very old. That’s a pretty short chain of testimony; just one link between Irenaeus and the Apostle John. Irenaeus even remarks (Against Heresies 3.11, 12) that the Gnostic followers of Valentinus made use of the Gospel of John and could be refuted directly from it.

6. A generation earlier (~AD 160), Tatian composed a harmony of the Gospels called the Diatessaron. It begins, “In the beginning was the Word ...”

7. Tatian was a pupil of Justin Martyr, who wrote (~AD 145) that “the memoirs of the apostles, which are also called Gospels,” were read every Sunday in all of the churches. In another place, Justin is a little more precise, calling the Gospels the work of “the apostles and the companions of the apostles,” a description that corresponds precisely to our four Gospels. Justin also quotes from John 3:4-5, a passage not found in any of the other Gospels (First Apology 61), which proves his familiarity with our Gospel of John. (I have about half a dozen pieces of evidence like this for Justin’s use of John, if you’re interested.)

8. An ancient preface to the Gospel of John (the Anti-Marcionite Prologue) refers to a work of Papias (~AD 125), now lost, saying: “The Gospel of John was published and given to the churches by John, while he was still in the body, as one named Papias, of Hierapolis, a dear disciple of John, has related in his Exoterica, i.e. at the conclusion of his five books.” Many scholars agree that a comment that Irenaeus attributes to “certain presbyters” is from Papias—it is a comment on John 14:2 (“In my father’s house there are many mansions”).

Continue reading "(Guest Post) On the authorship of the fourth Gospel: A letter to a young enquirer" »

May 23, 2012

Gun Rights

This is just one reason why personal ownership of handguns is part of the 2nd amendment protection.

The S*** Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting death of a man who allegedly attacked another man with a knife. On Tuesday night at 11:00 p.m., a 911 call was received from a female advising the man she was with had just shot a man who attacked him with a knife while seated in their vehicle in the parking lot of X Shopping Center located at ___. When deputies arrived on the scene, within 2 minutes of the call, they found a man suffering from a gunshot wound lying on the ground next to a vehicle that was later determined to be owned by the shooter. Near the body, lying on the pavement was a knife. The shooter in this case was also standing next to the vehicle with weapon in hand when deputies arrived. He immediately surrendered the weapon and was detained being completely cooperative during the investigation. The female who placed the 911 call was a passenger in the car of the shooter. The gunshot wound victim was transported to M Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Both the individual who shot the man and the female acquaintance told Detectives they were in the car having a conversation when they observed two men walking across the parking lot. One of these men, the deceased, asked for money. His request was declined and he was told to move on. Approximately 15 to 20 minutes later, the couple observed the man again as he surprised them by approaching the driver’s side of the car from the rear in an aggressive manner. He allegedly attacked the driver through the driver’s window and attempted to stab him without provocation. The attacked driver, while attempting to fight his assailant off, was able to retrieve a handgun located in the glove box of the car. He fired the weapon at his attacker who was hit and fell to the ground. He instructed his female companion to call 911 and stepped from the car to see the second man, who did not participate in the attack, flee on foot. The shooter remained on scene for responding Deputies.

The shooter was not seriously injured but did display fresh wounds consistent with a struggle

Subsequent investigation led to the identity of the deceased as well as the man who fled. Later this morning, Detectives located the second man who provided a statement to detectives that supported the account of the event given by the couple attacked in the car. According to the second man, the deceased became increasingly enraged over being denied money and returned to seek revenge. The second man described the deceased as the aggressor even though they were friends.

It has been determined the individual who shot the other man does have a valid concealed weapons permit.

They will of course do a thorough check of the details, but short of seriously different new evidence, this is an open-and-shut textbook example of a self-defense shooting.

Yes, the second amendment protects the right of individuals to own and use guns, including handguns.

May 24, 2012

The face of evil

An article called, explicitly, "A Life Worth Ending." Here is a son actively wishing that it were allowable to murder his mother, who suffers from dementia. He suggests putting a pillow over her face. In lieu of permission to do that, he is pretty clearly negotiating with the doctors for increased levels of some sort of sedatives for her agitation in the undisguised hopes that these will hasten her death. Meanwhile, he is planning his own suicide.

I do not know how death panels ever got such a bad name. Perhaps they should have been called deliverance panels. What I would not do for a fair-minded body to whom I might plead for my mother’s end.

The alternative is nuts: to look forward to paying trillions and to bankrupting the nation as well as our souls as we endure the suffering of our parents and our inability to help them get where they’re going. The single greatest pressure on health care is the disproportionate resources devoted to the elderly, to not just the old, but to the old old, and yet no one says what all old children of old parents know: This is not just wrongheaded but steals the life from everyone involved.

And it seems all the more savage because there is such a simple fix: Give us the right to make provisions for when we want to go. Give families the ability to make a fair case of enough being enough, of the end’s, de facto, having come.

Meanwhile, since, like my mother, I can’t count on someone putting a pillow over my head, I’ll be trying to work out the timing and details of a do-it-yourself exit strategy. As should we all.

If you don't find this harrowing stuff, you should. And please, I beg you: Don't waste my time telling me that this is all about the right to refuse invasive treatments. It isn't. Nobody is saying that the family in this story was required to have heart surgery for the mother. What I'm responding in horror to is the suggestion that if you live "too long" and lose your independence and your "dignity," you should be "mercifully" dispatched. Because that is what he's suggesting. It's not even remotely subtle.

HT: Secondhand Smoke

May 26, 2012

The APA: Any surprise?

Well, well. Some long-time readers may remember when some of your humble scribes here at W4 were involved in opposing the homosexualist push to get the American Philosophical Association to flag ads from schools that "discriminate" on the basis of unmarried sexual activity. Heaven forbid that a Christian school should ask its professors to abide by traditional Christian sexual norms. Why, that would be discriminatory against LGBTQXYRDOPJ (okay, I'm just making up letters now) people. Or perhaps we should be careful to say "persons," as that sounds more respectful.

At the time there was plenty of sneering and sarcasm against us opponents over the fact that all that was being proposed was flagging ads from such schools, not removing them. How touchy, touchy we were to see this as a form of censure or a move in the direction of pushing Christian schools away from the APA. Never mind the fact that the flag was connected to a suspicion of "unethical" hiring behavior.

Do we get to say "I told you so" now?

The APA has, at the further urging of pro-homosexual activists, now gone to the next stage: Unless your department certifies that you will abide by the APA's policy, which includes not "discriminating" on the basis of sexual activity, you can't advertise in Jobs for Philosophers, period.

I think we can actually have some hope that the APA will continue to render itself more and more obsolete. Attending APA meetings to interview is costly, and Skype and conference calling provide other options for cash-strapped Philosophy departments.

Without knocking myself out too much I've already run to earth three alternative venues for advertising jobs in philosophy:

Job Openings in Philosophy

Jobs in Philosophy


At first blush, at least, these venues do not seem to require institutions to verify anything special about their hiring practice; apparently that is left to state, federal, and local law, plus institutional protocols, which heaven knows (especially taken all together) are cumbersome enough.

Keep going, dinosaur leftists, in the direction of making yourselves ignorable. How teeth-grinding it must be for you that the Internet has broken your monopoly in so many areas--information, news, and job advertising.

But let's make no mistake. Back when a guest columnist here called the original APA censure mark an "attack" on Christians, he was spot-on.

May 27, 2012

Charles Murray on America "Coming Apart"

What's interesting about this - apart from the unhappy social disaster in the works - are the new quasi-alliances. Those whom we think of as members of the liberal "elite" turn out to be living fairly stable and traditional lives, at least in comparison with everyone else. With superior intelligence, education and wealth, they manage to avoid the worst consequences of the ideas they promulgate through the institutions they control.

May 28, 2012

For Memorial Day: A worthy hero

A WWII pilot who did his duty to his country, to God, and to man, and the grateful boy who helped him. Read the remarkable story here.

(Link HT VFR)

May 29, 2012

Site Issues

Currently the "Recent Comments" page and the "Recent Comments" RSS feed are not operational. I don't have an ETA for a fix.

Zero sum game again: Don't bargain with Cthulhu

Let's see: We've had a bishop in Quebec who utterly refuses to support Catholics trying to get out of teaching material that pushes homosexuality and religious relativism. (He thinks we should wait around and see whether any actual harm comes from teaching the curriculum.) We also had the Catholic Church's representatives in Scotland apparently supporting "hate speech" legislation with specific reference to homosexuality and then shocked, shocked to find it being used to criminalize the statement of Christian moral teaching.

Now a show-down is brewing in Ontario concerning totalitarian legislation against Catholic high schools under the aegis of "anti-bullying." We discussed it already a bit back in April in a thread about the dangers of accepting public funding. The Catholic bishops in Ontario gave in on setting up clubs specifically for self-identified homosexual students in their Catholic high schools, gave in on the government rule that such clubs may not be used for purposes of turning allegedly "gay" young people away from homosexuality, and then tried to draw a line in the sand on the name of the clubs, insisting that the Catholic high schools be allowed to call them "Respecting Difference" clubs (oh, yah, there's a name that upholds Christian moral teaching) rather than "Gay-Straight Alliance" clubs. And now the Ontario government is planning to nix that symbolic gesture as well and is insisting that Catholic schools not be allowed to teach that homosexuality is objectively disordered. The bishops are prepared to go to court to fight against calling the clubs "gay-straight alliances." We will assume that they intend to continue teaching that homosexuality is objectively disordered. I have been able to find no word on whether, somewhere along the line in all of this, the schools gave up their right to discipline students for actual fornication, whether hetero- or homosexual.

When will Christian leaders learn? When? We seem to have the "harmless as doves" part down pretty good, but the "wise as serpents" part, not so much. You cannot compromise with the devil. You cannot bargain with him. You cannot give him an inch, stick your head back in the sand, and hope he'll go away and leave you alone. It never, never, never works.

What was needed were leaders who said this: "It is part of our Christian teaching that homosexual desires are objectively disordered and all homosexual acts are gravely immoral. In the tragic event that a young person experiences the disorder of same-sex attraction, this is not a matter for public discussion but should be kept private among that person, his parents, and his spiritual advisers. We refuse to participate in giving the cultural impression that same-sex attraction is to be publicly proclaimed, much less celebrated. We refuse to participate in the cultural movement that encourages people to claim such disordered desires as an essential part of their personal identity. We particularly believe such encouragement to be terribly harmful, indeed, a grave scandal, for young people in their sexually formative years, and we will have no part of it. We also insist on keeping high moral standards in our distinctively Catholic institutions; students can be disciplined for engaging in any non-marital sexual acts. Setting up a club specifically for self-identified homosexual students would send a message inconsistent with our schools' behavioral standards. For all these reasons, we refuse to set up such clubs in our schools, even if that means that we will suffer penalties for our refusal."

But I suppose that's asking too much, right?

To be quite fair, this matter of offering a compromise and hoping that will be the end of the demands is not merely a Catholic problem, not by any means. Those who followed the esoteric APA battle will know that David Hoekema of Calvin College insisted that a couple of decades ago, when the APA added "sexual orientation" to its non-discrimination statement, he believed the matter would stop there, because Christian schools could still discriminate on the basis of actual homosexual acts. Fast-forward twenty years and we were being told that, by blocking ads from schools that did what Hoekema thought they were allowed to do, the APA was "merely enforcing the policy on the books." The act-orientation distinction was ridiculed as homophobic nonsense. So much for compromise.

There are more recent rumblings in the world of evangelical institutions, even those that are trying to hold the line. Biola University has a (doubtless well-intentioned) professor named Matt Jenson who last year lectured in college chapel on the importance of "living as family" to "gay people," whatever that means, exactly. (And yes, I've watched large swathes of the sermon.) Apparently it is supposed to include taking a pretty lengthy hiatus from "so much as saying a word" about Biblical "imperatives" against homosexual acts (see minute 30-31). I plan to write more about Jenson's sermon in a later entry.

Biola is presently being hit with attempted psychological blackmail by a group of anonymous homosexual Biola students who allege that they live in trembling fear in the closet. This group's evident purpose is to undermine the school's position on sexual morality. Group members are made "hopeful" that the school will eventually "come around" by increasing support in America for same-sex "marriage." And their idea of hate mail includes this moderately-worded statement:

“If you embrace the lifestyle, you are at odds with God and scripture, and it is extremely doubtful that you are a Christian.”
While, to the credit of school leaders, Biola continues to affirm that homosexual acts are immoral, there is this vaguely ominous footnote to the story:

School officials already are looking ahead to next year, when Biola celebrates its 105th anniversary, and they said plans are in the works to facilitate an “ongoing conversation” with students about homosexuality.

Just don't do it, guys. Don't have an ongoing conversation. Never, never try to bargain with Cthulhu.