Mass weddings have always struck me as a “cult” thing

BrideQuestion for you — when you think of mass weddings, does your mind head in the direction mine does, and think of the Moonies?  The cult followers of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, after all, have long been famous for their mass weddings.

It makes sense that Moonies would happily go in for group weddings. After all, the nature of a cult is that you subordinate your individualism to a group. Once having done that, why in the world should you and your affianced have a special day, dedicated just to you? You’re no longer an individual; you’re a member of the Borg.

Knowing about the Moonies, when I heard about the massive group wedding on the Grammy’s stage, I didn’t think, “Aw, how romantic,” nor did I think “What a great political statement,” nor did I even think “How nice it is that ordinary people are willing to subordinate their special day to Macklemore’s and Ryan’s careers.”

I didn’t think any of those things. Instead, I thought of the Moonies. After all, when you think about it, one impersonal mass wedding is pretty much like the next, whether you’ve subordinated your individuality to the Rev. Moon or to the Gods of Political Correctness.

Moonies mass wedding

One mass wedding (this one for Moonies) . . . .

Mass wedding at the Grammys

Looks just like the next mass wedding (this one at the Grammys, with the couples lined up in aisles to be ogled by media elites).

America’s attitude towards Catholics and the Pope *UPDATED*

POPE-FRANCIS-TIME-PERSON-OF-THE-YEAR

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose; or, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

In 1960, Protestant Americans were afraid that a Kennedy election would mean that the Pope would have a say in American politics.

In 2014, with the Pope having been anointed (inaccurately) as a pro-Choice, pro-gay marriage savior, Progressive Americans are worried that American Catholics are giving him too little say in American politics.

The result is that now, as in 1960, we’re once again seeing explicit anti-Catholic bias.  [Link error corrected.]

UPDATE:  I forgot to add that today’s Progressives also love the Pope because they think he supports a redistributive economy (and they might be right about that, even though they’re wrong about his views on abortion and gay marriage).

The Air Force Academy caves instantly when atheists attack

Yesterday, I wrote a post for Mr. Conservative, which I reproduce here:

Among the many virtues that flow from recognizing God’s existence is humility. Without God, every man begins to think of himself as his own little deity, leaving him free to set his own rules and, if his rules call for it, to hold the power of life and death over others. For that reason, Americans are singularly fortunate that the vast majority of troops in our military hew to traditional Judeo-Christian religious principles that see them subordinating themselves to a Higher Power’s dictates about morality, justice, and grace.

Air Force Academy Oath PosterIf the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF”) has its way, though, the Air Force Academy is going to kick God out of its precincts. The MRFF, founded and controlled by the fanatically anti-Christian Mikey Weinstein, is up in arms about the fact that the Air Force Academy’s current oath invokes God: “We will not lie, steal or cheat nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and live honorably, so help me God.”

If Weinstein and the MRFF have their way, and the Air Force decides to amend, rather than just do away with, the old oath, the new oath would essentially read “We will not lie, steal or cheat nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and live honorably, so help me Me.” It’s that last clause that’s frightening. Without the Higher Power, each student at the academy essentially becomes his own moral arbiter, doing whatever he thinks is right at any given moment.

There are always going to be anti-religious fanatics like Weinstein, so he’s not really that interesting. What is interesting is that the Air Force Academy is actually giving serious consideration to Weinstein’s demands. In response to the MRFF’s complaint, the Academy’s Honor Review Committee, instead of sneering and laughing, is giving the demand serious consideration.

Maj. Brus Vidal, the Public Affairs Director, issued a formal statement to that effect: “They considered a range of options and some of those options will be presented to Academy leaders and, ultimately, the Academy Superintendent for a decision.”

It was a mischievous newspaper that brought the censorious Weinstein’s attention to the Academy. Last week, a local newspaper, the Colorado Springs Independent (the Academy is located just north of Colorado Springs), printed a picture of a poster hanging on the Academy’s walls that contained the oath. The newspaper than decided to stir up some controversy by sending that photograph to Weinstein.

Weinstein responded predictably by going ballistic. He wrote a letter to the Academy Superintendent, a woman, who equally predictably responded by backing down. A mere 68 minutes after getting his complaint, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson wrote him “The Prep School poster has been taken down. We are assessing the situation and have many mission elements, to include Prep School leadership, the Honor Review Committee and other entities on base, working to put together a way ahead that is respectful to all perspectives.”

Ask yourself this: If we’ve created a military that is so politically correct and Leftist that it instantly backs down when an anti-Christian hack attacks it, what use is it going to be against people with actual guns and bombs, such as Islamists? Under the Obama administration’s tutelage, our military is having an existential crisis and needs a swift intervention if it’s to be saved. Once it goes full Leftie, it’s useless as a weapon against America’s true enemies.

Today, the Air Force Academy caved:

Air Force Academy cadets are no longer required to say “so help me God” at the end of the Honor Oath, school officials said Friday.

The words were made optional after a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, that they violated the constitutional concept of religious freedom.

Let me say again that the First Amendment doesn’t prohibit religion.  Indeed, the Founders strongly approved of religion.  It simply says that the government cannot create a mandatory church to which all citizens must belong or incur a penalty; it may not make practicing a specific religion a condition of participating in civic affairs; and it cannot interfere with a religion’s doctrine.  The First Amendment guarantees us freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.  The latter is an option, not a mandate.

I’ll end by restating my last paragraph in my Mr. Conservative post:

Ask yourself this: If we’ve created a military that is so politically correct and Leftist that it instantly backs down when an anti-Christian hack attacks it, what use is it going to be against people with actual guns and bombs, such as Islamists? Under the Obama administration’s tutelage, our military is having an existential crisis and needs a swift intervention if it’s to be saved. Once it goes full Leftie, it’s useless as a weapon against America’s true enemies.

 

Does the Obama administration really want to get involved in a fight with the elderly nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor?

Although Ted Cruz didn’t mention this during his magnificent 21 hour marathon attempt to reach past the media and speak directly to the American people, one of the things he’s fighting for is religious freedom.  Case in point:  Mother Theresa’s The Little Sisters of the Poor, which is made-up of mostly elderly, and definitely celibate, nuns has been forced to file suit in order to avoid the Obamacare mandate that it must provide all of its employees with insurance that includes birth control and abortifacients.

I can’t wait to see the wits in the internet come up with poster memes for that one.  Anyway, if you’d like to know more about this one and understand just how tyrannical Obamacare is, please check out the Anchoress’s post.

“What’s in a name?” when it comes to a new “biography” of Jesus

I haven’t read Reza Aslan’s book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, so I can’t weigh in on its factual veracity or the quality of the conclusions Aslan draws from the facts he does assert.  This Jewish Review article certainly suggests that Aslan is, if not all hat, no cattle, at least short a few cows.  As for me, I have a bias that leaves me suspicious about Muslim-authored books that seek to re-write Jesus and then are embraced by the Leftist mainstream media.  Suspicions, of course, are neither fact nor proof.

But here’s one thing I can say with absolute certainty:  Reza Aslan’s given name is a brilliant, ironic joke in this context.  You see, for me, there is now and always will be only one Aslan:

C.S. Lewis's Aslan, from the Narnia books.

C.S. Lewis’s Aslan, from the Narnia books.

C.S. Lewis’ Aslan is, of course, an allegorical stand-in for Jesus — the very same person Reza Aslan seeks to deconstruct.

Three degrees of separation

I enjoy reading my Liberal-Lefty friends’ Facebook posts because they are so insightful into the mindsets of the Left.

One insight that I have gained over time is that the differences between us conservatives and the Progressive/Left are so profound that they are unlikely to ever be bridged, barring some cataclysmic, life-changing events. What I have tried to do is understand why this is so. I share this with you because I greatly appreciate the insights that Bookworm group has to offer on such issues – be it “yay” or “nay”.

Our disagreements appear to come down to three levels of separation.

1) First, there are objective facts (OK, I am being deliberately redundant here). These are easy enough to resolve. Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock world has arrived: everybody is so overwhelmed with information that we can’t absorb and process all there is to know and we therefore choose our facts selectively.

As Ronald Reagan said, ““It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”

In discussions, factual disputes are easy enough to resolve: my typical response to Liberal /Lefties is simply tell them to “Google it”. Amazingly, many apparently don’t know that you can Google entire texts or sentences. A good example was the recent George Zimmerman trial…many people with whom I disagreed told me outright they were too busy to bother looking up facts. The Left operates on so many facts that just aren’t so.

2) The second level of separation involves our assumptions or premises. These are tougher to resolve, because we assume and presume events based on our past experiences. I suspect that we humans are hard-wired to build assumptions (true or false) as a defense mechanism: for example, my cave ancestors probably assumed that to allow a saber-tooth tiger to stand in their path was not a good thing and that such assumption is one reason why I stand here today.

We go through life building mental templates on how the world works in order to short-circuit decision making and evaluation. Otherwise, we would soon be overwhelmed with indecision. As long as our world templates work for us, we continue to hold onto them. Many formerly Liberals (e.g., David Horowitz, Bookworm) only became conservative when one or more events (e.g., 9/11) rendered their previously comfortable world views untenable. For me it was Reagan’s second term, when his policies led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and an economic resurgence. I, young man at the time, knew then that my Democrat world template had been very, very wrong.

I use the word “comfortable” deliberately, because our templates represent our comfort zones. Losing that comfort zone is terrifying. Imagine if all of a sudden nothing in the world made any sense to you; you would feel totally deracinated and quite possibly insane. You would also feel a deep sense of personal failure, as in “how in the world could I have been so deluded?”

And, the older you get, the more frightening that sense of loss, confusion and failure would be. So, the older we get, the more desperately we defend our mental templates, selecting and force-fitting “facts” to fit our own perceptions of reality. I believe this is where modern Liberalism and Progressivism are today (Google “Paul Krugman”). As Thomas Sowell put it, people of the Left expect the world to conform to their misperceptions. Eventually, however, reality hits like a 2 x 4 between the brow…as in “Detroit”.

I believe that this dynamic also explains the sheer viciousness expressed by many on the Left when the presumptions of their world templates are threatened (as by Sarah Palin or by black conservatives, for example). This is also the reason why I believe that world Islam will fail, because it doesn’t work and eventually people in Muslim worlds, aided by the internet, will eventually realize this (some of my Middle Eastern friends assure me that many already do). Reality is a harsh mistress.

This level of separation helps to explain why Liberals and Conservatives usually talk past each other. We try to rationalize our positions to each other, but our rationalizations only make sense if the other party shares the same assumptions and understandings of how the world works. We operate from completely different templates.

3) Faith. This the most difficult and potentially dangerous degree of separation, because it addresses fundamental values that are non-negotiable. Our “faith” defines how we perceive ourselves and our place in the world, irrespective of facts, logic and reason. I cannot, for example, “prove” the veracity of my Christian faith. Environmental extremists and atheists cannot “prove” the righteousness of their positions. We just “know” that what we believe to be true is true. There is no logical argument that I know of that can challenge faith-based values. Our values define who we are and how we perceive the world to be. Utopian fascist ideals (Progressivism, Nazism, communism, Islamism, etc.), for example, are defined by a faith in a future to come – they require no proof. Abortion is a similar issue of faith and values – there is no middle-of-the-road compromise if you believe abortion to be murder and that murder is wrong (a value proposition). Psychologists have claimed that only very powerful shocks to the system can challenge faith.

I have no dealing with the first degree of separation. I admit, however, that I am totally stumped on how to address (2) and (3). Any ideas?

The top ten awkward facts about the new atheist monument

I have no problem with atheism, having been an atheist for large chunks of my life.  I do, however, have a problem with atheists’ concerted attacks on religion, which I think bespeaks precisely the type of intolerance atheists swear they oppose.  That’s why I found so amusing Catholic Vote’s list of “top ten awkward facts about the new atheist monument.”  I can just imagine some hyper-politicized atheist coming across the list and crying out in anguish, “Stop confusing me with the facts.”

Hat tip:  A friend who prefers to remain nameless

Obama’s stupid crack about parochial education

Much is being made of Obama’s speech in Ireland, in which he managed to insult parochial education.  Catholics seem most disturbed, perhaps because (a) most parochial schools in America are Catholic and (b) Obama has been at war with the Catholic church by trying to make churches pay for abortifacients and birth control, which is a big First Amendment no-no.

Reading what Obama said, there’s no doubt that, once you work your way through his sloppy formulation, it’s right up there with the best of Obama’s offensive statements:

Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity–symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others–these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it,” said Obama. “If towns remain divided–if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs–if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.

“Ultimately, peace is just not about politics,” he said. “It’s about attitudes; about a sense of empathy; about breaking down the divisions that we create for ourselves in our own minds and our own hearts that don’t exist in any objective reality, but that we carry with us generation after generation.

“And I know, because America, we, too, have had to work hard over the decades, slowly, gradually, sometimes painfully, in fits and starts, to keep perfecting our union,” said Obama. “A hundred and fifty years ago, we were torn open by a terrible conflict. Our Civil War was far shorter than The Troubles, but it killed hundreds of thousands of our people. And, of course, the legacy of slavery endured for generations.

“Even a century after we achieved our own peace, we were not fully united,” he said. “When I was a boy, many cities still had separate drinking fountains and lunch counters and washrooms for blacks and whites.”

I actually understand what he’s trying to say:  in a country riven by past sectarian violence, it’s dangerous to perpetuate sect identity.  Put another way, he’s saying that the only way to live together in harmony is to abandon religion entirely.  “Hey, come on, guys!  We know you’re incapable of living together, so let’s just go all Soviet and renounce religion entirely.”

Understood properly, not as a slap at the Catholic church, but at the notion of jettisoning religion and religious identity entirely, Obama’s remark is even more stupid than it first appears.  He’s my age, so he should know exactly what happened when the stifling Soviet yoke was removed from regions that had mutually hostile religions that were suppressed under Communism:  they exploded into orgies of violence.  Suppressing religion didn’t make these hostilities vanish; it made them fester.  (Think:  Kosovo.)

James Taranto figured out that Obama’s problem is that he sees everything through a Civil Rights filter, despite never having lived through Civil Rights.  (He was only three when the Civil Rights Act was passed; he was in Indonesia when the last gasps of Jim Crow worked their way through the system; he was at a fancy school in Hawaii where Civil Rights were not an issue; and he emerged as a young adult into an Ivy League world.)  Here’s Taranto’s take on another facet of Obama’s colossal ignorance:

Note that Obama is talking–or attempting to talk–about Northern Ireland, a country that is unusual within Christendom for its recent history of sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants. His comments make a certain superficial sense in that context, whereas they would be completely out of place and objectionable in reference to America, where pacific pluralism is the rule.

Note also that Obama doesn’t actually seem to know anything about Northern Ireland. Viewed in context, his comments are actually a homily about civil rights in America. His criticism of Catholic and Protestant “schools and buildings” is just a poorly thought out analogy: It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that while there’s no good reason to segregate schools by race, there are differences in content between the education offered by Protestant, Catholic and secular schools.

Obama is why I’m sour about the Ivy League schools.  They take in bright people (and I do think that Obama is innately bright) and turns out ignoramuses, who have no real knowledge, just a warped ideological framework to which they try to attach, however, poorly, what situation greets them at any given moment.  Obama’s not the only example of this problem; he’s just the most embarrassingly prominent.

One more point worth noting, although I’m far from the first to make it, is that Obama would never have the courage to argue that religious teaching leads to violence if he were in a Muslim country.

What would an atheist military chaplain say?

I realize that we’ve got a meme in the works here.  What fun! If you go here, you can create your own “What would an atheist chaplain say?” poster.  If you do, please share the link with with me, and I’ll try to include it in this post.  Here’s my effort, to get us started:

Atheist military chaplain

What would an atheist military chaplain say?

And is it only me, or does the fact that this news about atheist military chaplains broke on the anniversary of D-Day perfectly illustrate how far we’ve traveled since June 6, 1944, and that our journey has been in a very unhappy direction?

UPDATES:

JKB had two ideas for about what someone what might who is charged with giving spiritual counseling, without believing in a higher Being:

JKB2
JKB

What would an atheist chaplain do? *UPDATED*

Atheists aren’t limiting their attacks in religion in the military to demonizing Christians.  It turns out they’re also agitating for their own chaplains.  I find this amusing.  I can just imagine the atheist chaplain in different military scenarios.

Atheist military chaplain on the eve of battle:

“You’re going into battle tomorrow.  No one is watching over you; no one is at your side; and you’re not cradled in anyone’s divine love. Have fun and be careful.”

Atheist military chaplain in a fox hole:

“We’re going to die!  We’re going to die!  And after that . . . nothing!!!”

Atheist military chaplain at a dying soldier’s side:

“Please, my son, ignore the fact that your life had no meaning, your death will have been equally meaningless and, when you die, you’ll rot and turn to dust.  Don’t worry.  Be happy.”

Atheist military chaplain when soldier confesses that he has the urge to rape the enemy’s women:

“Well, I think that’s a very bad idea.”

My parodies are stupid, right?  It’s not just that I’m a bad parodist (which I am).  It’s that life in Obama’s America has moved beyond parody.

UPDATE:  There’s a meme going on here.  Check it out.

Why atheists have no fixed moral points — and why that’s a problem (even if they’re really sweet people)

The Arizona legislature had an atheist “prayer”:

Arizona State Rep. Juan Mendez (D) turned a Tuesday afternoon prayer into something much more.

The Phoenix New Times reports that Mendez, who is an atheist, changed the course of the event held prior to the House of Representatives’ afternoon session. He asked lawmakers to refrain from bowing their heads and instead to view their surroundings.

“Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads,” Mendez said, according to the Phoenix New Times. “I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.”

That’s all well and good — cute and “kum-bye-yah” — but it reveals that dangerous moral vacuum at atheism’s center.  Everyone in the room is a moral authority.

Okay, then, I’m a moral authority too.  And by the way, my morality says that I get to take everything in your house and put it in mine.  The reason?  I don’t need to give you a reason.  I’m an extraordinary person who is alive (isn’t that wonderful?) and it will improve my life to have your stuff.  Whoa!  Wait a minute there, buddy.  Are you telling me that your morality says that my life blights yours and that you can only experience the extraordinary wonderfulness of being alive if I’m dead?  Nooooo!

That’s what happens when you have no external fixed moral point.  The Ten Commandments work because they apply to everyone, at all times, in all cultures.  Nor are they ridiculously rigid, to the point that humans lose free will.  Heck, they’re so intelligently nuanced that the Hebrew word that’s mistranslated as “kill” is actually “murder,” because the Commandments recognize that sometimes, killing can be a morally appropriate act — or at least, not an immoral one.  They demand our intelligence, as well as our allegiance to a moral and just force greater than ourselves.  And they also threaten us with consequences that transcend whatever the people around us can mete out.  They matter.

Or we can all sit there staring at our navels and basking in our wonderfulness.