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 2019 Archives

September 9, 2019

The realism of Jesus' dialogues in John

Scholars will sometimes imply that the dialogues in John are artificial by saying that the misunderstandings of Jesus’ interlocutors provide an opportunity for Jesus to develop his theological ideas further. Even when a scholar does not say so explicitly, it is difficult to avoid hearing the implication that John at least partially invented the audience confusions, questions, and interruptions to “set up” Jesus’ further theological expositions, as if the interlocutors are two-dimensional stooges. For example, with reference to how John “develops” Jesus’ “discourses,” Craig Keener says,

As Dodd and others have noted, John develops most of his discourses the same way: Jesus’ statement, then the objection or question of a misunderstanding interlocutor, and finally a discourse (either complete in itself or including other interlocutions). John usually limits speaking characters to two (a unified group counting as a single chorus) in his major discourse sections, as in Greek drama. (The Gospel of John: A Commentary, p. 68)
This gives a rather surprisingly artifical impression.

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September 10, 2019

Vouchers for Home Schooling in Michigan--an update

Back in 2017 I wrote a post, which I encourage you to go and read now as background, on the emergence of what is in effect a state money voucher system for home schoolers in Michigan.

Here's just a very short version, but please do read the older post: Over the years, home schoolers in Michigan have built up a number of co-op organizations that look somewhat like part-time Christian schools. They meet in their own venue, usually one day a week, and provide classes that home schoolers purchase on an a la carte basis, run by qualified tutors. This has greatly expanded the flexibility of home schooling options. Several years ago the Michigan public school districts began offering both classes held at the public schools that home schoolers could take and also (here's the rub) tuition reimbursement for classes taken with these other organizations.

The legal problem is that Michigan has an extremely explicit provision in its state Constitution forbidding vouchers and financial aid, direct or indirect, of any kind to religious parochial schools. (I will quote this provision below.)

In 2017 there was the inevitable crackdown on the Christian nature of the organizations receiving these funds, and one organization (which I did not name and will continue not to name) caved in and forbade its teachers to lead prayers, etc. It was at that time that I reported on the situation.

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September 15, 2019

Brexit and the independent substance of populism

The level of bitterness contained in the following two interrogatory sentences rather jolts the unwary reader:

But what then happens to the cultural-political strands that seem, with apologies to the good consciences of socialist and liberal Leavers, such reliable markers of Leave sentiment? Unquestioning patriotism, nativism, belief in white British supremacy, fear of Muslims, bring-backery, the search for traitors, faith privileged over evidence, ersatz imperial nostalgia, exaggerated expectations of familial favours from the white rulers of ex-colonies, climate change scepticism, the yearning for a return to the gender and racial stereotypes of forty years ago, the belief that ‘civil servant’ and ‘corrupt, meddling bureaucrat’ are synonyms, the glorification of the British military?

There is something marvelous in that cavalcade of insinuation.

For context, the writer proposes to his readers the repudiation of Brexit, or some quiet, papered-over vitiation of it; but to his credit, he immediately recognizes that one cannot merely wave away a majority of the electorate of the United Kingdom. That would be ill-advised.

Nevertheless, right now Remainers scheme to win the election they lost, essentially by means of an imposture of democracy.

Now, I grant that it may be unwise to present to the undifferentiated electorate, in the form of a gigantic plebiscite composed of an up-or-down vote, questions of grave national urgency; but once presented, it is doubly unwise to thwart that decision by underhanded means, thus usurping the decision-making role that the plebiscite was designed to embody.

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September 18, 2019

Choice Devours Itself: Murder affirmed in the Netherlands

Readers may or may not remember the story I posted about 2 1/2 years ago concerning the Dutch doctor who told family members to hold down an elderly woman so that she (the doctor) could administer a lethal injection. The doctor had secretly drugged the woman in her coffee, but she woke up and put up a fight for her life, so they held her down and killed her anyway.

There was an itty bit of tut-tutting surrounding this, and the Dutch called for a trial, not (mind you) so that justice would be done for this open act of forcible murder, but so that the court could exonerate the doctor, thus paving the way for more such acts. Yep, really. They said so in scarcely coded language at the time.

Well, that all went just as predicted.

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September 24, 2019

What makes this song great?

Children for many years have no choice but to embrace the aesthetic tastes of their parents. Later on, they may come to resent this as an imposition; or they may come to respect those tastes and to some degree affirm them as their own.

Either way, for most people there exists a moment when at certain work or production emerges as the first: that is, the first creative work to which he or she were drawn inexorably as an individual. For me, while I grew up with The Beach Boys, the Beatles, and the rest of it, the first song that really spiked me, qua me, was the Canadian rock band Rush’s classic “Limelight.”

This tune I’ve heard about a thousand times, but the opening guitar riff, even now, thirty years later, still hits me right in the lizard brain.

Recently I discovered the fantastic Youtube channel of Atlanta’s own Rick Beato. If you want 22 minutes of sophisticated musical analysis of “Limelight,” here it is:

What’s impressive about those 22 minutes is that Beato’s absolutely genuine enthusiasm carries the whole thing. Simply riveting. His whole “What Makes This Song Great” series amounts to an authentic celebration of human creativity.

Another point concerns how Beato got ahold of all these separate tracks from the original production. That’s not something anyone can get; and indeed, some of Beato’s videos start with warnings that publishers might take the video down. “As we know, the Beatles are blockers,” he says in one episode.

Whether that raises a question about digital capitalism’s inherent perversity -- blocking people who are encouraging your product -- is a topic I leave for another time.