Some years ago, I admitted that I had never read anything by Ayn Rand. Since then, I have read selections, but I have yet to tackle a major work. However, I did watch the first two parts of the Atlas Shrugged movie trilogy. Although the films had an indie film budget and less than spectacular production values, I enjoyed them. Having never read the book, I could not judge textual fidelity, but I did enjoy the brutal portrayal of leftist malice and stupidity. The American Left gets to indulge in the worst human tendencies toward cruelty every day; the society belongs to it, and it dominates the organs of culture. Hence, we must tolerate a constant stream of film, television, and journalistic material that depicts whites, conservatives, Christians, and the combination of the three in the most revolting way. Rightwingers do not have many opportunities for such pleasure—but, judaeae gratias, Atlas Shrugged provides it in abundance. The story depicts the hypocrisy, inanity, cowardice, parasitism, and idiocy of the Left in a delightfully decadent way! Indeed, as I watched the films, I almost (but not quite) felt ashamed in enjoying the spectacle, suspecting that the depiction might not be fair. “The real ones are bad—but are they that bad?” I just do not like thinking of my fellow men in such a low way. Yet, reality asserts itself and reminds me that, yes, they are that bad—indeed, worse than artifice conjures.
As few weeks ago, I read an unbelievable article by Lynn Shepherd in The Huffington Post: “If JK Rowling Cares about Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.” Shepherd’s main point is that Rowling has enjoyed much success as a children’s literature writer with the Harry Potter series and now her name recognition is leading to success in her ventures into adult fiction. As such, she is crowding out lesser known writers. So, Shepherd reasons, Rowling should mind her place and stop taking up bookshelf real estate.
As I read Shepherd’s opinions, I immediately thought of the regulators in Ayn Rand’s tale. I also reflected how, notwithstanding how much I want to give the enemy the benefit of the doubt, he always justifies my initial misgivings in the end. Leftists refuse to be outdone by their opponents’ mockery of them.
Later, I read the following post by John C. Wright, “The Orcs and the Books,” where Wright describes the same experience—only a thousand times better:
. . . Second, some readers might wonder why a loyal Catholic zealot like myself has such affection for a adulterous heretic like Ayn Rand, the Apostle of the Sin of Pride. Our philosophies are opposite. I say that the greatest evil in the world is to turn away from that self-sacrificing love which is like God and which is God. She says the greatest evil in the world is to live for another or to allow another to live for you.
Well, despite all differences, here is why I like her: Every time I am tempting to think the bizarre and grotesque portrayals of the collectivist villains in her novels are exaggerations, or are simplistic, or are unrealistic, real life sharply checks me.
Every time I think that the jeering gargoyles she portrays in her books could not possibly exist in real life, a Gothic rainspout shakes itself awake and speaks.
There is a scene in ATLAS SHRUGGED where no-talent writers conspire with no-talent businessmen and no-talent political hacks to pass a law forbidding any change in the production of new books or artistic products.
For a moment, the goons are puzzled as to how such a law would be played out, but the no-talent writers are relieved to hear that under this plan, their old books would be ceaselessly reprinted, and offered in bookstores, and the bookstores will be punished at law if they fail to sale the exact same number of books next year and ever after as this year. The obvious impossibility of this is not a defect in the plan, but the point. The laws are made so that everyone will be in violation of one part or another.
Under the fair-share law, successful authors have to share their success with unsuccessful authors, and the talented be punished, and the lazy be rewarded.
The argument made above that successful writers should bow gracefully aside to allow unsuccessful writers a fair share of the market is so economically illiterate, so childish, so vile, so shocking to the mind of any honest man, that it acts in part like camouflage. Upon hearing the orcs talking in their orc-talk about ruining the writing field, making the writing field worse, driving good books away and shoving bad books into their shelf space in the name of fair play, and, in short, talking about heaping the writing field high with warm filth and stinking ordure, flies and rivulets and urine, the sane people react with a blankness of mind akin to shutting one’s eyes at too great a shock. We cannot believe the orcs are serious. We assume they cannot mean that.
You want J.K. Rowlings, the most celebrated writer of our age, to write LESS? The mind reels, we think the orcs do not mean it, we do nothing to shut them down or shut them up, and then the orcs carry out their program, while we scratch our heads, puzzled that no one told us that this was exactly what they meant all along.
But it is what they mean. . . .
“Every time I think that the jeering gargoyles she portrays in her books could not possibly exist in real life, a Gothic rainspout shakes itself awake and speaks.” How marvelous! And apt to the situation!
I often notice that others in the traditionalist realms of the internet have had the same insight or made the same point on a given topic. For a recent example, I read George Michalopulos’ observations about the Winter Olympics a few days after I posted “Sochi Sour” and found quite similar arguments. We posted the entries on the same day, and yet we independently came to the same conclusions. When I find such cases, I wonder for a moment if perhaps we are suffering from a hive mind, but I do not think so. Rather, we dissenters witness the madness of the world on a daily basis and, being sane, call lunacy its proper name. The real shock is why more people do not have the same response.
Concerning Shepherd’s argument about Rowling, I find it abhorrent and shamelessly self-serving. If we want the world to become better, then why would we ask someone who makes it better by creating works of value to stop such production? Why would one wish to deprive the world of more treasure? It is wicked! Shepherd admits that she has never read any of Rowling’s books, but she questions the literary value of Rowling’s adult works based on others’ criticism. So, maybe Shepherd’s position could be defended as simply sensible aversion to hype. Yet, that hype developed from millions of readers’ experiences with her books rather than a suave media blitz, and the reputation has held up well over the last seventeen years. It is not a passing fad. Of course, a million Brits could be (and frequently are) wrong, but it is niggardly of Shepherd to refuse to grant Rowling her laurels of talent—especially when she refuses to read the author whom she judges so. Shepherd’s position is not that Rowling writes worthless drivel. In Shepherd’s own words, “when it comes to the adult market [Rowling has] had [her] turn.”
I think of Nietzsche’s reflections on Raphael in On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, “That a Raphael had to die at the age of thirty-six, for example, is offensive to morality: such a being ought never to die” (page 48, tr. Preuss). Consider what mankind lost at Raphael’s young death. Think of what such a man could have done with another forty years. Only demons rejoice at such facts. I am not equating Harry Potter with the Italian Renaissance, but the principle applies regardless. We should rejoice at the enrichment of the world. Only the servants of hell want to make the cosmos worse rather than better. And Shepherd desires such perversity from egoism . . . how satanically fitting. It is ironic that Ayn Rand, the preacher of selfishness, should be the one who delights in the excellence of others while the “altruistic” Left allows egoism to blight the world.
Alan Roebuck has posted a fine essay by Robert Locke on why Americans should support a continuation of the “war on drugs”: “Robert Locke on the War on Drugs” (Front Page Magazine original). Locke’s essay is thirteen years old but remains quite timely, given recent legislative changes at the state level. It is the best argument that I have heard against drug legalization. I have often leant toward drug liberalization because the “war” seems to cause more harm than the social ills that it seeks to remedy. (Full disclosure: I do not plead for myself. I mistrust introducing novel chemicals into my body and come pretty close to the Christian Scientists’ employment of medicine. The extent of my drug use since I was a high school freshman is required vaccines for school and two doses of ibuprofen—one for a broken bone and the other for a mysterious leg infection that I got in Costa Rica. Of course, I never sought medical treatment for either.) Moreover, the social surveys about lifetime and recent drug use are pretty shocking. I do not agree that we should legalize activities that “people will do anyway,” obviously—such would lead to anarchy, as there will always be criminals. However, I am sympathetic to those folks who argue that legalizing marijuana, for instance, would allow the state to regulate a drug that many Americans use regardless of the law. Besides, I have known many people who use marijuana recreationally and who seem to be quite functional and cause no issues for their neighbors or friends. Marijuana may harm their productivity, but so do television and video games. If we allow cigarettes and liquor (or Facebook or Twitter), why not cannabis?
Locke’s essay is a powerful “snap out of it” rejoinder, and he is right. Locke argues:
If drugs were legalized, they would rapidly become socially acceptable. The vast majority of people in this country still take law seriously, and disapprove of drugs (and refuse to tolerate drug use in their friends, children, or employees) in the final analysis because they are illegal. The fact that drug use is illegal is the only thing, in our let-it-all-hang-out society, that makes it socially possible for people to be openly intolerant of them. If everyone worked in offices where some of their coworkers were snorting cocaine at their lunch hour, it would not be socially possible to be adamant about [opposing] drug use because they would have to get along with the drug users. Given the anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws that already exist to protect lawful activities, they will eventually be forced to do so. Thus because of the social dynamic of people needing to get along with others, what is permitted in practice will inevitably drag people’s beliefs along with it. And when the social stigma goes, the least coercive and least governmental factor containing drug use will be gone.
Indeed! Ann Coulter has often argued against drug liberalization with libertarians by stating that we can legalize pot once we no longer have a welfare state that charges sober workers the inevitable social costs of accepted (and increased) drug use. Locke’s point is more profound; in our liberal society, vices are not simply tolerated but celebrated and subsidized. It is quite likely that his predictions would come true if (when?) libertarians succeed in decriminalization. On the other hand, such has not been the case with tobacco—a product that excites near prohibitionist feelings among the managerial class. Then, again, tobacco is an old, Southern grown product without any taint of marginalization to make it seem cool with the ever oppressed set. As far as I know, it has never been illegal in the Anglosphere and therefore lacks the thrilling subversive image that drugs and even alcohol have acquired. I would further argue that antipathy toward tobacco use has risen with increased awareness of its health risks and that, contra Locke, we should expect the same with dangerous drugs, but this same dynamic gets complicated in our screwy society and cannot be trusted to predict Americans’ attitudes and behavior with other harmful practices (see “Ad Bestialitatem” and “The Bloomberg Fallacy” for more inconsistencies among the public health totalitarians). What a messy toke!
Today, I received the following article from Zenit about the latest social engineering fad in Europe: “The Fight against Gender Stereotypes and Parental Rights.” It features a recent address by Grégor Puppinck to an audience in Rome:
French parents who wish to pass on certain values to their children will clash in the coming months over the Republic’s education system, which the current Government wishes to reform, particularly in relation to the complementary nature of men and women, of human sexuality and of morality.
The Taubira marriage law reform proposal should be considered in conjunction with another fundamental project of the current Government: the “reform of the education system of the Republic,” presently being discussed by the National Assembly. This law project on the “reform of the education system of the Republic” pledges, among other provisions, to introduce an obligatory new secular morality and civic education, in order to fight against gender stereotypes from the youngest age possible. In the press and before the Assembly, the Minister of Education, Vincent Peillon, has specified that “the goal of the secular morality is to remove all family, ethnic, social and intellectual determinisms from the pupil” to “allow each pupil to be liberated,” because “the goal of the Republican education system has always been to produce a free individual”. In the same way, the Minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira has declared to the Assembly that “in our values, education aims to relieve pupils of social and religious determinisms and make them free citizens”.
One of these determinisms would be gender identity; the removal of gender stereotypes is seen as a way of liberating children. The project of the “reform of the education system of the Republic” provides at present that “education on gender equality” will become the mission of primary schools, from the age of 6, “in order to substitute categories such as sex (…) for the concept of gender which (…) shows that the differences between men and women are not founded by nature, but are historically constructed and socially reproduced”. This idea is also articulated in the recent report of the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs which recommends that schools engage in the “fight against gender stereotypes” “from the youngest age,” that it dismantles “the ideology of the complementary nature” of men and women to “move towards an [equal] society.” To this end, the report notably suggests that teachers replace the descriptors “boys” and “girls” with the neutral terms “friends” or “children,” to tell stories in which the children have two fathers or two mothers, etc. This is, according to the report, to prevent “sexual differentiation” and the children internalising their sexual identity. In addition to these aspects which relate to the theory of gender, the secular morality promoted by the project of the “reform of the education system of the Republic” is also a source of concern. This law project envisages societal reform through education; it is complementary to the Taubira proposal which “reforms” family through marriage. As Mr Peillon has indicated, “the Government is pressing young people to change their attitudes, notably by means of an education which respects the diversity of sexual orientation”.
So, if the Taubira law on “marriage” is adopted, public education should not only “dismantle gender stereotypes” in the minds of children, but furthermore teach them that it is normal to have two mothers (and an unknown father), or two fathers (and a carrier mother). These “parental arrangements” will be taught as if they are objective facts (and not choices) and will therefore be insusceptible to any moral judgement.
Parents who wish to pass on natural morality to their children will be trapped: they should tell their children not to believe what they are taught at school, but to remain silent so they will avoid getting into trouble. This will be an evident violation of the parents’ natural rights. The projects and declarations of Ms Taubira and Mr Peillon also unambiguously show their intention not to respect the rights of parents, but to extract the children (from their parents’ views) to liberate them. These parental rights have been reaffirmed in the great declarations of human rights after the Second World War, in response to Nazi, Fascist and Communist totalitarianism. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State” (Article 16(3)) and that “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children” (Article 26(3)). In ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the contracting States have engaged “to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions” (Article 18(4)). In an even more explicit fashion, the European Convention on Human Rights makes clear that “in the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions” (First Additional Protocol, Article 2).
Currently, the rights of the family are under attack once again in the name of a project for society; no longer founded on family, but on the notions of tolerance, non-discrimination and pluralism, and which considers any man as a purely abstract individual. The power of the State has found itself newly extended, as the objective of putting a “project for society” into action firstly requires the power to define it and the right to impose it.
I knew that such witches’ brews had been stewing for some time in Scandinavian cauldrons, but I was surprised to see the latest news from France. Hollande and his minions aren’t wasting any time in trying to destroy Gaul. Maybe, the Socialists’ return to power and their inability to follow the patient Fabian path in realizing their radical agenda will shock the dying nation from its coma and incite a reaction. I do not agree with the Le Pens on everything, but it would delight me to see le Front national pull a Pinochet for the eldest daughter of the Church. For there is no political reasoning, no compromise with an enemy who wishes for your destruction, and the Left certainly wants to destroy any remnant of traditional Western civilization. They have declared war on the West, and the nations of the West should respond in kind rather than treating these agents of nihilism as fellow citizens with claims upon the polity. The only way to defeat them is to recognize them for what they are—and to fight back accordingly.
How unfortunate it is that only (mostly) secular reactionaries seem to understand this, which explains why they have had the most success in the last century in thwarting leftist degeneracy, even if for a period. I say unfortunate because secular reactionaries carry many of the same modern diseases as the Left. Bruce Charlton recently wrote about the fascist nature of secular reactionaries in “Is it correct to state that Neo-Reactionaries of the ‘Dark Enlightenment’ are ‘Neo-fascists’?” I recommend it—typically charltonesque and insightful. Charlton ends with the following:
A few years ago I predicted that the Left would call any secular Right movement fascist, and that in doing so they would be broadly correct.
I also predicted that so long as the secular Right denied the fascist label they would be powerless, but if they ever felt strong enough to accept the fascist label openly and explicitly and were able to survive the backlash… then that would be the time to worry about them.
Therefore, when mainstream Leftist journalists call the Dark Enlightenment Neo-fascist, they are testing it; testing whether the movement is likely to be dangerous.
If Neo-Reactionaries fight the fascist label - then that is fine: they are revealed as lacking clarity and self-awareness, as craving acceptance, as having insignificant commitment, motivation and power.
To reject the fascist label demonstrates to the ruling Leftist elites that Neo-Reactionaries can easily be controlled by some mixture of mockery and demonization, and subversion by recognition, and buying-out (and this latter may be a motivation for some of the leading N-Rs of the DE - they are covertly hoping to sell-out and be co-opted by the mainstream!).
But if, when tested, the fascist label was accepted; then the response would be serious suppression by the usual Leftist means. This would be hard/ impossible for the Dark Enlightenment to survive - but if the Neo-Reactionaries did become explicitly fascist AND also survived the consequent suppression; then it would be a case of Be Afraid: Be Very Afraid for the Leftist elites.
I look forward to the day when the Rome of effeminate, decadent nihilists burns. It will be ugly and catastrophic, but my thumotic tendency longs to see the heathen idols destroyed. What justice it would be for the revolution to begin in France—the epidemiological origin of the current plague. Then, perhaps, such would lead to a domino effect across Europe. The time for revolt is certainly overdue.
Ut sit magna, tamen certe lenta ira deorum est.
“Woman is the nigger of the world.”
—Yoko Ono and John Lennon
Yesterday, I recommended John C. Wright’s posts about “Saving Science Fiction from Strong Female Characters.” The only thing that annoyed me in the post series was Wright’s comment about women’s not being able to own property before the sexual revolution (“Even so, women were not afforded the equal rights to vote and own property until quite recently, even in the West” from part 1). What nonsense! And yet, it is nonsense commonly believed—just like other idiotic and widespread lies that somehow never die, of which there are legion. One that really annoys me is the belief that Europeans five hundred and some score years ago conceived the earth as flat—“Christopher Columbus defied common opinion by attempting to sail around the world.” Ancient Greeks not only knew that the world was round, but Hellenistic natural philosophers estimated the earth’s size and the distance between the earth and the sun with incredible accuracy. Another is the “droit du seigneur,” where we are to believe that medieval Christians allowed local lords to commit adultery with women before they consummated their marriages with their husbands. Or what about the common view of witchcraft and witch-hunting as typically medieval, when the whole sordid business got rolling just as sorcery really did infect the West—at the beginning of the so called “Age of Reason”? Whorish lies, often started and perpetuated by nasty moderns in an attempt to denigrate their ancestors; cf. the word “Gothic.”
Women in Germanic societies have had property rights for ages. In Britain, those property rights were close to the same as those for men, though there were Norman introduced complications when it came to titles and certain types of land property due to the Frenchies’ Salic Law. What, then, is the origin of this false belief? Marriage. Women largely ceded control of their property to their husbands, as the heads of their households, when they married them. Shouldn’t we expect this in a society that takes Christian marriage seriously—“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Even so, there were many provisions that granted certain property rights to married women, given dynastic and land interests. Alas, even in a Christian society, people often mistrust the in-laws, especially when the families had recently been at war. If you wish to know more about the legal condition of women before “feminism,” then you ought to read Mary A. Greene’s “Legal Condition of Woman in 1492-1892,” written when feminists and their audiences were far less historically ignorant.
Seriously, how in the world do people—often educated, thoughtful people—harbor so many absurd ideas? Obviously, we are all quite ignorant about most things—the world is big, history is long, and our lives are short and consumed with many matters. But how can people be so wrong about things that they themselves lived? Lawrence Auster would occasionally remark about the extremely foolish statements public personalities make about America before the 1960s—comparing, for instance, American women before the sexual revolution to chattel slavery or to the condition of women under sharia law. Steve Sailer also frequently posts about the bizarre memory lapses among America’s chattering classes; see his Diversity before Diversity series for some examples. Women couldn’t own property? At the very least, haven’t these folks seen (not to mention read) Gone with the Wind?
I discovered a disheartening but interesting list while reading one of John Derbyshire’s recent posts on Vdare, “The HANDLE’S HAUS List Of PC Purges—And Dogma, Dissent, And Duty.” Derbyshire, who makes the list for the Lowry treatment at National Review, shares the moment that inspired him to stand athwart the spirit of the age, yelling “Liar!” He further analyzes the record to see if there are temporal trends in contemporary leftist witch-hunting (answer: inconclusive). I commend Handle for compiling a list of contemporary shame; read it: “Bullied and Badgered, Pressured and Purged.” On it are so many people whose attachés our cultural elites are not worthy to loosen . . .
Yesterday, Kristor offered a short but thoughtful essay on pedagogy and human nature on the Orthosphere, “Life & the Limit.” I recommend it as well as its comments thread.
Enjoy the weekend and Christmastide, but remember the holy innocents tomorrow (December 29/January 11)—both the original slaughtered boys and the children killed by wicked people in every age, including our own. Their blood cries out to the Lord from the ground! I’ll also think of the murder of Alexei Nikolaevich—may he pray for us and for his longsuffering people.
As I mentioned a few years ago in “Fine Art Remakes,” I don’t know why the date for the holy innocents differs in the various Churches—the memorial is observed on December 28 in the Roman Church, December 29 in the Orthodox Churches, and December 27 in some Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic Churches.
Last week, several news outlets published stories about an effort to get more Israeli Arab Christians to volunteer for the I.D.F. You may read Fox News’ article, “Push to recruit Israel’s Arab Christians in the military splits the community” or “In Arab Israel, a battle over Christian conscription” and “Despite threats, threefold rise in Christian IDF enlistment” in The Times of Israel. Evidently, an Orthodox priest in Nazareth has created controversy by encouraging members of his flock to join, which has triggered some backlash from other Arab Israelis. I hope that the priest’s efforts cultivate good fruit. The more the Arab minority invests itself in the common good of the Israeli state, the more both Jews and Arabs will be inclined toward mutual trust and goodwill—and consequent peace—in the holy land. Moreover, minority military recruitment will facilitate the success of the “one state solution” about which I wrote last year in “West Bank Woes.” Concerning which, I watched a news documentary about the West Bank earlier this month that suggested that Palestinian youth have rejected the two state dream of their parents and grandparents. Instead, many want full citizenship in Israel with the right to live, work, and travel from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan. I wish them well in A.D. 2014. Many blessings to you, too, in the new year.
Robert Bonomo has posted an article on Pravda about The New York Times and its coverage of Vladimir Putin: “Vladimir Vladimirovich and the Grey Lady.” It allows some smirk inducing moments.
I hope that everyone is having a fruitful Advent.
You all must know about the Duck Dynasty furor that news outlets and blogs have been mining for the past week. There are three editorials that express my sentiments well. First, Camille Paglia vents outrage at the thin-skinned intolerance of the homosexualist activists and of their corporate flatterers in a radio interview with Laura Ingraham, covered at the Daily Caller: “Paglia: Duck Dynasty uproar ‘utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist.’” Paglia further observes:
“I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility,” Paglia said. “This is not the mark of a true intellectual life. This is why there is no cultural life now in the U.S. Why nothing is of interest coming from the major media in terms of cultural criticism. Why the graduates of the Ivy League with their A, A, A+ grades are complete cultural illiterates, etc. is because they are not being educated in any way to give respect to opposing view points.”
“There is a dialogue going on human civilization, for heaven sakes. It’s not just this monologue coming from fanatics who have displaced the religious beliefs of their parents into a political movement,” she added. “And that is what happened to feminism, and that is what happened to gay activism, a fanaticism.”
What I fail to understand is why the social fringe is so vested in changing bourgeois opinion of them. Don’t they have a higher opinion of themselves that coexists with their already low opinion of the masses? Of course, I can see why one would not want a populace so intolerant of his sexual decisions that lower class Irish cops frequently disrupt his erotic escapades at the bath house—that would be understandably humiliating, inconvenient, and sometimes painful—but there is a wide grey area between the Buggery Act and state sanctioned and celebrated sodomy. Do we really need Christian Sunday School teachers with rainbow pins for the love that dare not speak its name to feel safe?
Read also Charles Cooke’s “A&E’s Problem — And Ours” in National Review. Cooke quickly affirms the network’s right to fire whomever they wish, but he notes that their decision to do so betrays a cancer in contemporary culture. Cooke writes:
People attempting to justify the private removal of those who say things they dislike rely on a host of weasel words and the habitual laziness of the population at large. They say that we have to think about “standards,” and “values,” and “feelings,” and “inclusion” and, too, about what is “acceptable.” What does this actually mean in practice? Robertson made his comments in GQ, which evidently considered them acceptable enough to print. I am a non-Christian who disagrees with Robertson on the question of gay marriage. What do the censors think is going to happen to me if I come across Robertson’s interview. Will I die? Will I break out in lesions? Will I go bankrupt? Will I immediately start lynching homosexuals? What might my complaint be: “Well, strike me down. I can’t believe it. I was just minding my own business reading this magazine, and then this guy I don’t know who makes duck calls said something I don’t like, and then . . . ” — well, and then what? Here’s the thing: I’m in favor of gay marriage; Phil Robertson thinks homosexuality is a sin. So bloody what? I’m happy to listen to him.
It is telling what we allow and what we don’t. Phil Robertson’s words quite literally affected nobody. They’re words. Meanwhile, Jennifer Lawrence argued that it should be illegal for Americans to call people “fat” on television: In other words, she actually advocated for her fellow citizens to be arrested for speaking. Robertson related what he believes; Lawrence, however mildly, called for the state to start punishing people for expressing themselves. The latter transgression is infinitely worse, but she will likely lose no work for having expressed it.
Finally, Larry Alex Taunton has a well considered piece in The Atlantic, “The Genuine Conflict Being Ignored in the Duck Dynasty Debate.” He addresses the absurd public reaction by GLAAD, which may be one of the more obnoxious things that I have read in some time (quite a feat in this age of insanity). It is as if GLAAD’s administrative office were staffed by feeble minded, emotionally twisted drama queens. Interesting. Taunton writes:
Instead of acknowledging this tension, however, A&E, GLAAD, and their supporters have responded with disingenuous expressions of shock and horror. And it matters that it’s disingenuous, because if they actually acknowledged that there is a genuine conflict between orthodox Christianity and homosexual sex (along with several forms of heterosexual sex) they would have to confront head-on the fact that calling for a boycott or pressuring for Robertson’s suspension tells orthodox Christians that their religion is no longer acceptable, and that’s not a very politically correct thing to do. Right now, they are trying to weasel out of it by characterizing Robertson as a backwoods bigot who takes his moral cues from Deliverance rather than from a straightforward reading of the Bible and the historic teachings of the Christian religion.
What a mess the West has become. Veni, veni, Emmanuel . . .
Happy feast of Saint Ambrose, one of my favorite Western saints! Also, this coming Sunday will be the feast of the Conception of the Theotokos (December 9—and December 22 as it currently falls on the Gregorian calendar).
As far as I know, we celebrate the conceptions of three persons—the Theotokos, John the Baptist, and Jesus. I always think of that fact when someone tries to justify abortion by pointing to the quickening debate among rabbinical Jews or the medieval schoolmen. Anyway, the feast of the Conception of the Theotokos started in the East and spread to the West, like so many Christian commemorations. However, the date was eventually transferred in the West from December 9 to December 8 in order to be exactly nine months before September 8, when everyone celebrates the feast of the Theotokos’ nativity. What the Westerners failed to understand was that the discrepancy was intentional, just as John the Baptist’s conception is celebrated on September 23 while his birthday is June 24. New Advent’s Catholic Encyclopedia states that some Western dioceses also celebrated the Conception of John, but they, again, transferred the feast to September 24 to make the date accord with the saint’s nativity celebration. There we see that old Western reflex to correct what it in ignorance fails to appreciate. Such reminds me of Chesterton’s fence:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.
The gestation period discrepancies for the Theotokos and John the Baptist are like the number of fingers that the characters have in The Simpsons or like Persian or Arabian rugs. In The Simpsons, every cartoon human being has four fingers on a hand (or less), while only God is shown with five fingers (according to the Simpsons Wiki, a production mistake—or perhaps divine inspiration!). Similarly, rugs and tapestries from Islamic cultures have slightly flawed designs. Both conventions symbolize that perfection is only truly found in God. As such, baby Mary bakes too little and baby John bakes too long, but Jesus Christ God incarnate bakes just right, from March 25 to December 25. Merry Christmas!
Kristor published a brief but wonderful reflection on sex yesterday on the Orthosphere that suits well the occasion of the Conception of the Theotokos: “Sex Matters.” The post goes beyond the important but limited discussion of sexuality that one finds in traditionalist discourse:
The ultimate end of sex – which is to say, the true end of sex - is the actualization of human souls in the lives of immortal persons who by virtue of their very existence have the option of enjoying forever the Beatific Vision, and the endless other beauties of Heaven outside the throne room. Each life that succeeds to Heaven represents an infinite increase in the realized value of Creation. A forgone human life then represents an infinite cost to the whole economy of Heaven, forever and ever. Being himself infinite, God can of course cover that defect of creaturely perfection with no problem; but for all the other citizens of Heaven, the failure to implement a single tiny life is a catastrophic injury to the wealth of glory they might have enjoyed, had the imperfection of procreative potential implicit in creation ab initio never occurred. . . .
Sex is the way God has arranged to generate gods. For all Christians, then, it’s a really big deal, almost the best thing there is.
“Sex is the way God has arranged to generate gods.” What a fantastic quotation! Downright Athanasian!
Please make sure to read Arakawa’s comment on the post, as well.
Kristor’s idea leads to many questions, including Lydia’s comment in the thread. In short, how does the principle of plenitude providentially play out when it comes to rational beings? Are the Mormons onto something when they postulate premortal intelligences, waiting for their chance to become incarnate? The blessed Origen thought it a possibility. For we all exist eternally in the mind of God, but, then, God knows from all eternity what rational agents will do and thereby creates the world accordingly. Are there unrealized souls (in the fullness of time) whom God knows, whose existence is thwarted due to human sin—or even due to the necessary limitations of creation, as Lydia’s comment implies? For any good that we creatures of space and time do means that we are not doing many other good things. Limitation requires limiting choices. Any possible world seems to fall short of the total goodness that God knows to be possible in creation. However, as I wrote in “Does Quantum Physics Make It Easier to Believe in God?,” it is not clear to me that “our world” is “the world.” Perhaps, we are just modal chauvinists, while all the rational beings whom God creates and knows do get born, though not in each possible world. Fascinating thoughts! Regardless, God is great. Have a blessed feast and a beneficial remainder of Advent!