The Bookworm Beat 5-26-15 — the “mad, mad, mad, mad world” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265No time for chit-chat. I’ve got stuff to share:

America’s values have turned upside down

It’s a time-honored custom for older people to look at changes in the world since their youth and to bemoan those changes. I’d like to think I’m neither that rigid nor that old. There are so many things in the modern world to love, especially when it comes to technology.

What does seem extremely unlovable, though, is that we are living through a time in which moral values aren’t merely being loosened (a la the rising hems of the flappers) but are being turned completely upside down. In one of the best articles I’ve seen in forever at National Review, Quin Hillyer focuses on the sea change in our moral and political values. If you’ve already read it, read it again and share it with your friends; if you haven’t read it, by all means do . . . and then share it with your friends:

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The Book of Mormon: The smug laughter of people who don’t recognize their own irrational beliefs

book-of-mormonI saw the musical The Book of Mormon yesterday. I was disappointed. I knew it would be anti-Mormon and filled with prepubescent potty and sexual humor, so that wasn’t what bothered me. What bothered me was that it wasn’t clever, that it didn’t attack genuine societal ills at home or in Africa, that it was too gay camp, and that the actors all appeared to have learned their trade from those irritating kids on the Disney channel — they overacted, mugged, and telegraphed their (obvious) punch lines. Simply put, watching puerile pokes at Mormons, who are an easy target because they’re not going to kill you, was boring.

What really irritated me was the audience. I thought it a little pathetic that they laughed so uproariously over every poop joke (I stopped doing that when I was 12), but I kind of expected that. After all, I saw the show in San Francisco, which is one of the most densely populated Progressive bastions in America. Progressives, of course, are the Party of Poop, so that humor will inevitably appeal to them.

Where the audience really let itself go, though, was with the song “I Believe,” which is something of a patter song about some of the core Mormon beliefs. I should say here that I too find the Book of Mormon unbelievable. But you know what? Viewed objectively, all faith stories are unbelievable.

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The Bookworm Beat 5-8-15 — the “packing it up” edition and open thread

Woman writingThis weekend there’s a wedding that I’m very happy I’ll be able to attend. There are only two downsides: (1) The dogs have to go to the kennel and (2) I have to pack. Both those things make me sad. The posts to which I link are an equally mixed bag: They’re all wonderfully written but, considering that we live in Obama’s America, they’re depressing too.

Mike Huckabee is a moron

I don’t like Mike Huckabee. He’s got charisma and is quick with the quip, but his “conservativism” stops with social issues. In all other ways, he seems to be just another garden-variety southern demagogue with a penchant for big government. A Power Line reader caught Huckabee in a big lie about Medicare and Social Security:

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The Bookworm Beat 5-7-15 — the “Damn it, I’m a lawyer” edition and open thread

Woman writingI spent way too much time today wearing my lawyer, daughter, and mother hats, with no time for my blogger hat. Well, the blogging time is now, and I’ve got lots of stuff to share. As is often the case when I’m tired, these are not in any particular order, so you should read the whole thing, rather than assuming “substance at the top and fluff at the bottom.”

Leftists and math

The Chicago teachers’ union is at it again, trying to suck blood out of a rock, the blood being pension funding and the rock being the virtually bankrupt city of Chicago. The friend who sent me this link had a pungent comment about the fact that, for people like Communist and labor leader Karen Lewis, math is hard:

“Once again, the board has created a fiscal crisis in order to justify its continued attack on our classrooms and communities,” Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “By citing its so-called $1.5 billion deficit, the mayor is proposing a reduction in teaching staff which will result in larger class sizes and the loss of teaching positions.”

At the center of the complaint is the Chicago Board of Education, which wants teachers, social workers and other union members to take a 7 percent pay cut by paying their own pension contributions in order to address some of the city’s economic problems. The union, which has rejected the pension reform proposal, has accused the board of bad-faith bargaining for refusing to reach an agreement of substance in talks which began in November.

Lewis accused the school system of being “broke on purpose” and for retaliating against the union simply because it opposed Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the recent reelection.

I love that phrase: “Broke on purpose.” I’m going to have to try to work it into my own day-to-day life.

A cri de couer re the suddenly ubiquitous trigger warnings

As is true for many of us, Michael Rubin didn’t see trigger warnings coming. It’s just that suddenly there they were, censoring people left and right — although really mostly to the Right, leaving the field open to the only group sensitive enough to avoid all trigger warnigs: Hard core Leftists. Rubin understands what’s really going on and has a suggestion of his own:

All trigger warnings should have a trigger warning so that no one who has experienced or fled from a repressive society might suffer post-traumatic stress reminding them of the authoritarian, Orwellian oppression from which they fled. Millions of people in the countries which comprised the Soviet Union, as well as in China, Cambodia, and Eastern Europe, not to mention tens of thousands of people in Iran, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Eritrea have lost loved ones or spent time in prison/re-education camps for not abiding by the state’s determination of what they should think and believe. Trigger warnings, even if well intentioned, might remind them of this oppressive and sometimes lethal political correctness and cause undue stress. Accordingly, in order to protect the mental well-being of those who value liberty, intellectual freedom, and oppose censorship, perhaps it’s time to agree to put trigger warnings ahead of trigger warnings to ensure that no one is inadvertently stressed out by the decline in mental and intellectual maturity and the infantilization of society which trigger warnings represent.

The person who brings a gun to a free speech fight is ALWAYS wrong

The practically moribund, but still breathing, Time Magazine, to its credit, gave Pamela Geller space in which to make her case. Her case is the correct one. I urge all of you to read this and, if you have a Facebook page, Twitter account, or email round-Robin, to send it along.

The attack in Garland showed that everything my colleagues and I have been warning about regarding the threat of jihad, and the ways in which it threatens our liberties, is true. Islamic law, Sharia, with its death penalty for blasphemy, today constitutes a unique threat to the freedom of speech and liberty in general.

Freedom of speech is the foundation of a free society. Without it, a tyrant can wreak havoc unopposed, while his opponents are silenced.

Putting up with being offended is essential in a pluralistic society in which people differ on basic truths. If a group will not stand for being offended without resorting to violence, that group will rule unopposed, while everyone else lives in fear.

[snip]

Many in the media and academic elite assign no blame to an ideology that calls for death to blasphemers — i.e., those who criticize or offend Islam. Instead, they target and blame those who expose this fanaticism. If the cultural elites directed their barbs and attacks at the extremist doctrine of jihad, the world would be a vastly safer place.

Read the whole thing and try to get everyone else you know to do so too.

That’s the redoubtable, inimitable, absolutely necessary Pamela Geller in her own words. For other good words about free speech, I recommend David French’s “Pamela Geller’s Critics Are Proving Her Point,” and Rich Lowry’s “Why Won’t Pamela Geller Shut Up?” Both these articles are must-reads.

Also, if you want a perfect Kodak moment of Leftist hypocrisy, check out John Nolte’s post about the New York Times, which condemns Geller from bashing one religion while it bashes another.

Oh, and one more thing: our craven government security forces — that would be the FBI and Homeland Security — haven’t even bothered to talk to Geller about the threats against her life from Islamists.

James Franco in praise of McDonald’s

I love McDonald’s Chicken Selects and believe that they serve the best french fries around. Wherever you are, it’s a reliable, cheap meal. McDonald’s is also a great entry level job, teaching youngsters such virtues as punctuality, reliability, and hard work. So even though I find him distasteful, I have to applaud James Franco for writing a WaPo opinion piece praising McDonald’s.

Shy Tories strike again

In 1992, in England, polls indicated that many fewer Brits would vote Conservative than would vote for Labour. In fact, Conservatives won by a substantial margin. And thus was born the “shy Tory factor” which said that, in a climate in which Leftists humiliate, berate, and otherwise attack conservatives, people lie to pollsters about their voting preferences. That seems to have happened again in England, where David Cameron took an unexpected lead — unexpected, that is, to all of those who forgot the shy Tory factor.

Tom Cotton takes a principled stand against a Constitution-weakening Trojan Horse

Tom Cotton was the only Senator to vote against the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. He did so for all the right reasons. In his own words:

“A nuclear-arms agreement with any adversary—especially the terror-sponsoring, Islamist Iranian regime—should be submitted as a treaty and obtain a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate as required by the Constitution. President Obama wants to reverse this rule, requiring opponents to get a two-thirds vote to stop his dangerous deal. But Congress should not accept this usurpation, nor allow the president any grounds to claim that Congress blessed his nuclear deal. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to stop a dangerous deal that would put Iran on the path to obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

I like that young man.

Harrison Bergeron comes to life

I’ve often mentioned Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron,” which is set in a dystopian future where everyone is equal. Vonnegut, in the days before he turned into a brain-dead Leftist, realized a core problem with the whole “everyone must be perfectly equal” movement: You cannot make dumb people smart, or slow people fast, or ugly people beautiful; however, you can make smart people dumb, fast people slow, and beautiful people ugly. In other words, the only way to level society is to lower society — that is, to bring everyone in it to the lowest common denominator.

Kevin Williamson points out that, decades after Vonnegut wrote his timeless story, the Left is still busily trying to bring America down to the lowest common denominator.

Vandalism just cheapens our cause

I did a post about the attack on Christianity, and used as one of my discussion points a stupid church sign in Mill Valley that likened God and Joseph to gay men who parented Jesus. I used speech to attack speech, which epitomizes the marketplace of ideas.

Unfortunately, someone vandalized the sign, which is not an argument; it’s just tantamount to a heckler’s veto and makes us no better than the Left. It would have been so much better to have emailed my post to everyone in Mill Valley….

There won’t always be an England

When I lived in England more than 30 years ago, the North was much more British than the more cosmopolitan South. There were many fewer foreigners living there, and the old towns had people whose families had lived in the region for hundreds of years.

I therefore always find it particularly appalling when I read articles describing the Islamisization of Yorkshire — a trend that carries with it anti-British sentiment, antisemitism, misogyny, homophobia, and a whole host of other disgusting social pathologies that Islam invariably trails in its wake.

The Leftist revolution continues to eat its own

All I can offer you is the lede to this Daily Caller story. You have to read the whole thing yourself to appreciate it fully:

Students at Dartmouth College launched a petition drive demanding the newly-elected student body president resign after they say he was disrespectful to the plight of American blacks and other marginalized groups.

The twist: The president is a gay black man.

Wolf Howling sent me this story. I wrote him back to say that the phrase about revolutions eating their own was the right idea for what I wanted to say, but it just had too brawny and masculine a feel for what’s going on. Seeing a fight like the one at Dartmouth is kind of like watching Lord of the Flies, only with a cast of feral two-year olds.

Is Hillary too sick to be president?

If this D.C. gossip story about Hillary’s seriously fragile health, centered around brain damage issues, is true, Hillary is committing a fraud against the American people. Of course, there’s nothing new about that, so why am I even getting excited about it?

Even when Leftists get close to the truth, they veer away before touching it

My friend Patrick O’Hannigan caught something interesting in Vanity Fair when Leftist pundit James Woolcott tried to write an even-handed critique about dishonesty in the American media: with the best will in the world, he couldn’t do it.  His bias just kept oozing out.

Which reminds me of a Scientific American article by Piercarlo Valdesolo that’s been making the rounds. In it, Valdesolo acknowledges that strong Leftist bias in social psychology and acknowledges that it perverts study outcomes and analyses. He notes that conservatives say that the answer is to allow more conservatives into these liberal only enclaves, both to get studies with other viewpoints, and to get necessary push back on the Leftists’ own work.

One would think that, have admitted that it’s a problem that there are no conservatives in the field, Valdesolo would agree that the field needs more conservatives. If one thought that, one would think wrong. Instead, Valdesolo says that liberals simply have to be more vigilant about their biases. James Woolcott’s failure pretty much illustrates everything that’s wrong with Valdesolo’s inability to contemplate doing away with Leftist academic monopolies.

God’s approach to Mary would have passed the UVa sexual assault test *UPDATED*

2.1-12_MARY_The_Annunciation_Jan_van_EyckWith feminist inspired neo-puritanism infecting American college campuses, it’s no surprise that at the University of Virginia, where a gang rape did not happen, the administration has put into effect draconian rules prohibiting all non-consensual contact of any kind — including hugging:

U.Va. adopted its new “Interim Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment” to appease the Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work.

Under its policy, if you hug your boyfriend, and as an inevitable result your “clothed” “body parts” (such as “breasts”) touch him, you could be accused of “sexual assault” that “consists of” “sexual contact.” That’s because U.Va. now defines such touching, “however slight,” as sexual assault, lumping together both touching and intercourse as “sexual assault” when they are deemed “sexual” and occur without “affirmative consent.”

I mention this policy because, in connection with my earlier post about Leftist attacks on Christianity, using gay marriage as their most powerful weapon yet, I mentioned the Leftist theory that God “raped” Mary when he fathered Jesus.

Color me biblically literate, but when it comes to Jesus’s birth, the immaculate conception, I happen to think that it was , in fact, immaculate, rather than not a physical penetration. Or, as MacG so beautifully wrote in a comment:

maybe that the God of the old testament who made the universe out of nothing and humans out of the earth’s dust is Spirit as Jesus affirmed does not need a penis to blend a unique spirit with the flesh of humanity.

So what does this theological argument have to do with the University of Virginia anti-sexual assault policy?  Well, if a Leftist actually reads the New Testament, rather than just opining about what she thinks the New Testament maybe says, she’ll discover something interesting:  God, did in fact, politely ask Mary’s permission before initiating the conception and that Mary gave her consent (emphasis mine):

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

No sexual assault there.  Instead, pure informed consent all the way.  Thank God that God would pass muster at UVa.

UPDATE:  Thanks to those who pointed out my error about the immaculate conception, which refers to Mary’s being born without Original Sin.  As you can see, I’ve corrected the post.  Sometimes I reveal my essential Jewishness, don’t I?

Muslims aren’t the only ones engaged in an all-out War against Christianity

Weyden_DepositionReligion is in the news a lot lately. All around the world, in what I’m sure is just a bizarre coincidence, masses of people who just happen to be Muslim (and proudly say so) are busily decapitating people, shooting people, raping people, burning people, and stoning people — all of whom, I’m sure coincidentally, happen to be Christian. In the same way, I’m sure we shouldn’t make anything of the fact that these same Muslim co-religionists have developed a nasty habit of throwing men who are allegedly gay off the tops of buildings and then, should these men survive the fall, stomping them to death. In the Venn diagram of faith and behaviors, are intellectual masters in the media repeatedly warn us that we shouldn’t read too much into the fact that Islam has a near perfect overlap with psycho-sexual murder and sadism.

In yet another bizarre coincidence, America’s Progressives have also engaged in a religious war and they too have targeted Christians. You see, Christians have this freaky idea, rooted in who knows how many totally useless and forgettable tens-of-thousands of years of biology, that men and women somehow complement each other, and that faith and society thrive when they support that complementary quality.

Clearly, this pathetic Christian attempt to tie together science and faith is a bad idea. These Christians should leave the science to Progressives, who understand complicated things like Climate Change — and silly skeptics have to understand that it requires superior mental skills to engage with a scientific principle that has as a defining characteristic the fact that none of the data supports any of the predictions. It takes a real scientist to make sense of this mess and to elevate the predictions over the data. (Shhhh! Don’t tell the Progressives, but that belief system sounds remarkably like . . . faith, and a pretty shoddy faith at that.)

Anyway, the Progressive war against Christians in America thankfully hasn’t yet reached the level of beheadings, rapes, and crucifixions. It seems stuck on a remarkably powerful form of stupid. Normally, stupidity shouldn’t be that powerful, but the Progressives have an arrow in their quiver that doesn’t exist in the massacred Middle East, not to mention large swaths of Africa. The secret weapon here is the Christians themselves, many of whom have obsequiously load pulled the rope to raise the blade in the guillotine in the hope that, when that blade finally falls, their necks aren’t the ones in its path.

I have the perfect exhibit today to illustrate that Christian appeasement principle. It’s a sign on a church in Mill Valley. The picture quality is poor, but I think you get the drift:

Marin Church supports gay marriage

“Jesus had two dads and he turned out just fine!”

You really have to think that through a couple of times in order to appreciate it: In one of the most affluent, educated communities in America, the argument for gay marriage is that “Jesus had two fathers.” Really? This is the best that America’s Leftist theologians can do? They reduce the entire Old Testament to a statement that Jesus is the product of a same sex marriage — and wow! He was the Son of God. Who knows what’s going to happen once gay marriage is legal? Obama had better start worrying about having competition for his messiah status.

But why stop at attacking the church just because it has this old-fashioned idea about the sanctity of the biologically complementary male-female relationship, and its role in the perpetuation of humankind?  In an article that passed under my radar when it first came out in December 2014, Salon’s resident anti-religion writer, Valerie Tarico, explains what really powers Christianity —   rape.

Powerful gods and demi-gods impregnating human women—it’s a common theme in the history of religion, and it’s more than a little rapey.

[snip]

Though the earliest Christians had a competing story, in the Gospel of Luke, the Virgin Mary gets pregnant when the spirit of the Lord comes upon her and the power of the Most High overshadows her.

[snip]

The impregnation process may be a “ravishing” or seduction or some kind of titillating but nonsexual procreative penetration. The story may come from an Eastern or Western religious tradition, pagan or Christian. But these encounters between beautiful young women and gods have one thing in common. None of them has freely given female consent as a part of the narrative. (Luke’s Mary assents after being not asked but told by a powerful supernatural being what is going to happen to her, “Behold the bond slave of the Lord: be it done to me . . .”)

Although Tarico is careful to prove her intellectual bona fides by talking about all sorts of rapes in Greek, Roman, and Hindu mythology, Salon’s editors provided the appropriate illustration so that readers would fully understand that the article is meant to be an attack on that most rapey of all modern religions — Christianity:

Salon article illustration of Virgin Mary

Salon article illustration of Virgin Mary

(Keep in mind that, even as Salon made sure Americans knew that Christianity is the rapey religion, the real rapes, the ones involving actual violent sexual penetration against children and women, were taking place everywhere that ISIS and Boko Haram and other misbegotten fundamentalist Christians sects were on the move.)

One can’t help wonder whether that Marin church boasting about Jesus’s two dads fully understood that one of them — the divine one — was a wild-eyed rapist, probably indistinguishable from that wild-eyed, and of course totally imaginary, group of rapists at UVa a couple of months ago.

Jews and Christians are in the cross hairs good and proper.  The Muslim war against Jews is reaching peak ferocity in its battle against Israel, which has spilled into virulent anti-Semitism around the world, of the type not seen since the years before WWII.  Meanwhile, the companion Leftist war against Christians seems to be concentrating itself on the gay marriage issue, because the Left obviously feels that it has leverage on this issue.

I’ve quoted myself before on this subject and I’ll quote myself again.  This battle is not about whether, as a matter of civil law, states can decide what type of individuals can join together to get the benefit of various laws encouraging people to pair up.  If that were the case, the agitators would be working to do away with state issued “marriage” licenses and, instead, to have all state-sanctioned partnerships became “civil unions,” leaving marriage solely to the faithful.  I could live with that.

The various states could becoming laboratories, testing which unions best benefit society as a whole and, more specifically, the children raised within these many and varied unions.  (American black’s dire economic plight, combined with their propensity for violence, would seem to indicate that the current approach — 73% of black children are born out of wedlock — is not a good one.)  But that’s not the war the Left is fighting.  Its war is intended to bring down religion in America.

Back in March 2009, long before gay marriage got to the Supreme Court, I wrote:

As you know, one of my main reasons for supporting Proposition 8, which amended the California constitution to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, was because I believe that move to redefine marriage has the potential to put the State and religion organizations — especially the Catholic church — into a head-on collision.

Liberals, when confronted with this notion, will often argue that, while the Catholic Church objects to abortion, that’s never created a constitutional crisis.  What they ignore is the fact that, while the church is not in the business of providing abortions, it is in the business of providing marriages.  It also ignores the fact that abortion is a legal right, not a constitutional one, while gay marriage proponents have been framing it in the opposite way:  they say gay marriage as a constitutional, rather than a mere legal right.

Keep in mind that, for Catholics, marriage isn’t just a white dress, cake and Mendelssohn’s wedding march.  Instead, it’s a sacrament.  A basic tenet of the religion is the joining of man and woman before God.

So imagine this scenario:  Two men go to the local Catholic parish and demand that it marry them.  The priest, sympathetic to their love for each other, nevertheless states that he cannot, at a purely religious level marry them.  The men turn around and sue the Church for violating their Constitutional rights.  Suddenly, the judicial system is called upon to examine doctrinal issues to determine whether they mesh with Constitutional issues.  It’s a scary scenario for anyone who takes seriously the principle that government may not interfere with religious doctrine.

Let me throw in one more recent Leftie poster to drive home the point that this is an all-out war against Christianity, and it’s one that too many so-called Christian churches in America are unable or unwilling to fight. Keep in mind as you look at the poster below that we already know from the IRS’s battle against conservative and pro-Israel groups, that the power to tax is the power to destroy — which is precisely why our Founders and previous American generations understood that the state cannot get its greedy financial talons into America’s churches, synagogues, temples, and, provided that they don’t abuse their First Amendment freedoms by preaching mass murder and treason, her mosques too:

Taxing churches

Musings about the Leftist Man-God and his unshakeable belief in his infallibility

Michaelangelo hands of God and AdamI continue to be unpleasantly overwhelmed by deadline intensive work.  Breaks are few and far between.  The virtue of this is that, separated from the minutiae of daily news, I’ve had the opportunity to step back and focus on larger trends.  My musings today too me into the realms of Leftist Infallibility.

One of the most frightening things that characterizes the Left it its sense of its own god-like power and knowledge. That’s always been present in its atheistic tendencies (look at the bloodshed of the French, Russian, and Chinese revolutions), but we’re seeing a different version of it in the 21st century, one that I think arises because of “scientific utopianism.” When I say “scientific utopianism,” I’m talking about a sense that began with post-WWII culture and, all emerging data to the contrary, continues to escalate amongst Lefties.

Scientific utopianism used to be summed up in the old slogan “Better living through chemistry.”  That was a commercial line to sell products, both licit and illicit.  Amongst Leftists, however, it’s the belief that science — or, more specifically, their take on science — offers all the cures for mankind, not to mention the power to destroy mankind.

Back in the 1950s, although people understood that science could wreak unbearable havoc (e.g., the atom bomb), at the same time possibilities seemed so limitless and exciting. I think Disney captured it best in educational cartoons celebrating medical and scientific advances, in Tomorrowland, and in the Carousel of Progress. People envisioned a world of clean, easy, unlimited travel; perfect health; endless food and clean water supplies; the ability to wage war quickly, efficiently and, if possible, relatively painlessly; day-to-day comforts that effectively ended work; and comfortable control over the environment.

Barring that looming mushroom-shaped cloud, this scientific utopianism promised the Baby Boomers (and their progeny) that Nothing was Impossible. The ordinary consumer, not given to deep thought, understood these  “Better living through chemistry” and “Nothing is impossible” slogans to mean basic, and wonderful things, such as the eradication of polio and the introduction of the microwave often.

For the Leftist intellectual, though, these slogans meant something much greater: If nothing is impossible for man, who needs God? Man is God. So as not to offend those “voting morons in flyover country” (and yes, that is how the Left thinks of you), it’s dangerous to be tactless enough to admit that man is his own God, but the Leftist intellectual class certainly concluded that this was the case.

If man is God, he has asked all the right questions and, solipsistically, has all the right answers. Your Man-God has cleared the way for himself: His beliefs about the Big Bang (a Catholic priest may have come up with the idea, but it clearly means no God); climate (man is more powerful than the earth, and the solar system); diet (science or their accompanying Gaia worshippers, who are the crunchy version of God deniers, know exactly what you should and shouldn’t eat); medicine (which merges perfectly with the “man is God” ethos about science and food); and gender (mere biology is so limiting, and Man-God can and should transcend it) have create to the Man-God’s satisfaction a fully realized universe and moral doctrine. Moreover, given that this is a faith, whether achieved through white-collar science or crunchy Gaia-worship, this new Man-God, is just like that nasty, judgmental, homophobic, probably racist, and definitely misogynistic Biblical God in one very significant way:  He is infallible.

Except that every month a slew of news stories shows that your newly anointed Man-God  is not infallible. Indeed, far from it.  In a very short time, we’ve learned the following (and I’ll leave you to search for links, if you’re so inclined): butter in moderation is not bad for you; cheese in moderation is not bad for you; whole milk in moderation is not bad for you; salt in moderation is not bad for you; artificial sugar in any amount is bad for you; polar bears are not going extinct; glaciers are not vanishing; the Arctic and Antarctic are still here; hurricanes are not worse; the ocean has not risen to the proportions of that mythical Biblical flood; the Big Bang theory may be wrong; unlimited amounts of marijuana probably aren’t harmless; chocolate is healthy (I always knew this); coffee is healthy; vaccinations do not cause autism; and on and on. I bet that, even as you’re reading this, you’re mentally tallying up all the recent stories I’ve forgotten that turn conventional wisdom on its head.

The problem with having elevated yourself to the altar is that the view from there is nice. There’s a heady pleasure in seeing people bow down, worship, and obey your every command. The world’s collective Leftists are therefore unwilling to acknowledge their all-too-human fallibility. Instead, they’re doubling down on their assertions, predictions, demands, and sense of infallibility.

Think of it: In a Judeo-Christian era, when individuals or select groups arrogated god-status to themselves, they’d be appropriately ridiculed and marginalized. Now, they’re worshiped and we offer them the keys to our earthly kingdom.

The Bookworm Beat 4-6-15 — the nighttime edition and open thread

Woman writingMy work is done and there’s still twenty minutes to go before the family yields the TV to me. That can mean only one thing: a quick round-up. Yay!

Can the MSM stifle Ted Cruz?

One of the most frustrating things about being a conservative is that conservative politicians tend to be inarticulate. Part of this is because conservative ideas don’t yield easily to the hysterical bumper sticker politics that the Left favors. Part of it is that the media twists the message. And part of it is that the conservatives who get into politics seem to be tongue-tied.

I mention this because of a post Rod Dreher wrote after talking about RFRA to a deeply-closeted conservative law professor. It was the professor who made the point about the absence of a standard-bearer for conservative ideology:

On the conservative side, said Kingsfield [not the professor's real name], Republican politicians are abysmal at making a public case for why religious liberty is fundamental to American life.

“The fact that Mike Pence can’t articulate it, and Asa Hutchinson doesn’t care and can’t articulate it, is shocking,” Kingsfield said. “Huckabee gets it and Santorum gets it, but they’re marginal figures. Why can’t Republicans articulate this? We don’t have anybody who gets it and who can unite us. Barring that, the craven business community will drag the Republican Party along wherever the culture is leading, and lawyers, academics, and media will cheer because they can’t imagine that they might be wrong about any of it.”

The one person who is emerging as an incredibly articulate spokesman for conservative thinking is Ted Cruz. He’s unafraid and, rather unusually for a man as academically brilliant as he is, capable of being pithy. Cruz can bring in the money quotation:

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What do we get from religion?

Michaelangelo hands of God and AdamOne of my Facebook friends (a liberal) asked an interesting question on her Facebook page: What do we get from religion? I was the only one who mentioned “morality” and “justice,” both of which are external standards unrelated to self. It seemed to me that the other people who responded talked about their feelings or abstractions. Here are the things her other friends said that they get from religion:

  • Spirituality
  • Energy
  • Shared community
  • Traditions
  • Music
  • Memories
  • Joy
  • Unconditional love
  • Grace
  • Nature is religion
  • Meaning
  • Compassion

I’m curious as to how you, a much more conservative group of people than responded to my Facebook friend, would answer the same question: What do we get from religion?

The Bookworm Beat 2-6-15 — the “Fearless Friday” edition and Open Thread

Woman writingObama’s adversarial relationship with Christianity

What did we expect already from yesterday’s Prayer Breakfast? Obama long ago put the world on notice that he’s going full Bulworth (i.e., after six years in office, he intends, finally, to stop lying and speak the truth).

While before Obama just let out peevish little trickles of animosity, anyone paying attention could tell that:

(a) he’s profoundly ignorant about history — not just American history, but any history, including Muslim and Christian history;

(b) he hates Christians and Christianity;

(c) he hates America, no matter that this nation twice elected him as president (with a little help from the IRS, of course); and

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Neo-Paganism is sweeping the First World — and that’s a bad thing *UPDATED*

Human sacrifice discovered in Denmark

Pagan human sacrifice discovered in Denmark bog

Over the past few days, in connection with posts about Islam’s innately violent nature (which I see as being different from the fact that Europeans used violence in Christianity’s name), I’ve come up with a little mantra:

Europeans, who initially were not that far from paganism, brought the sword to Christianity. Christianity, which came from the Jews not the European pagans, did not bring the sword to Europe.  Islam, by contrast, brings its own sword to the game.

I’ve also suggested that Europeans, by abandoning Christianity, are reverting to paganism.  There’s that word again:  “paganism.”  It’s been sounding in my brain like a tocsin.

The more I look at Europe, the more I’m convinced that Europe has returned it its roots.  It is, once again, a pagan continent.  America is running in that direction too, but to the extent our continent was populated by post-pagan people, who destroyed or marginalized the indigenous pagans found here, we are traveling down that same path more slowly.

Before I start running away with this concept, I’d better start defining my terms.  What exactly do I mean by “pagan”?

1.  Pagans are not monotheists nor do they believe in an abstract god.  Instead, pagans are earth worshippers, who see mystical forces behind natural processes and assign gods (plural) to explain those forces.  The gods are not driven by rational or just behavior, but act like humans would if there were no constraints on them.

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