“O, Holy Night” — a beautiful song and a stark reminder of the differences between Christianity and Islam

Wedgwood slave am I not a man and a brotherOne of the things that makes me crazy when I read through my real-me Facebook feed — which is primarily populated by liberals, given my West Coast upbringing and residence — is the constant insistence that Christianity and Islam are basically the same, with each being equally likely to result in religious terrorism. The fact that Christians in the West abandoned religious wars more than 400 years ago doesn’t bother these moral relativists. All religions are equal and all religions are, at heart, bad.

That’s the background to my listening to Josh Groban’s O, Holy Night and really paying attention, not just to his lovely voice and the beautiful melody, but to the words themselves. The words that Groban sings in this transcendent Christmas hymn are an abridged, slightly modified version of the lyrics that John Sullivan Dwight, a Unitarian minister, wrote in 1855. Dwight’s words, in turn, are a rough translation of the original French verse, Cantique de Noël, which dates back to 1847. In other words, they are the distillation of Christianity after the Dark Ages, after the Middle Ages, after the Crusades, after the Renaissance, after the Great Awakening, and after the Enlightenment.  They are the distillation of the Christian experience in Europe and America.

I know I posted this video the other day, but let me post it again today, with special attention to the lyrics:

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The Bookworm Beat 12-17-15 — the “speed writing” edition

Woman-writing-300x265Are you familiar with speed chess? I learned about it when I was at Cal. Since I worked at the Bancroft Library, I had access to an employee break room. Every day at lunch, two men would sit there, chess board in front of them, timer at their side, and make lightning swift moves, wrapping up a single game in minutes, not hours. What I’m going for here is speed blogging. I’ve got more than 20 links, and I’m going to try to share them with you in less than half an hour of writing. Here goes….

In 2006, Thomas Lifson wrote what I think is one of the best political articles ever.  In it, he explained that there are two seasons in American politics — Attention Season and Inattention Season.  The former has a remarkable way of concentrating American minds.  Right now, with the election nearing and terrorism within our borders again, Americans are starting to shift from Inattention to Attention.  I suspect this will change the polling dynamics substantially in the next few weeks.

Trump is the bad boy of this political season, by which I mean that he’s the cool guy in the leather jacket that all the girls want to date and to domesticate. Eventually, though, the girls discover that a bad boy may have a James Dean charm about him, but he’s still bad, meaning he’s bad for the girl (and he’s equally bad for the guys who want to run with his pack).  Kurt Schlichter perfectly articulates why  Donald Trump is one of those bad boys, and explains that he’s going to be a heart breaker for those conservatives who think that this lifelong Democrat is someone to hold on to during trying times.  Rubio and Cruz are probably the best choice for the nice steady boys who will come in and save the day.

If you’d like a short but deep run-down of the last Republican debate, and one with which I happen to agree, check out Seraphic Secret’s post about the debate.

Millennials are not the next greatest generation:  they want to see American troops defeat ISIS; they just don’t want to be among the troops doing the defeating.  Having said that, I’m in no position to sneer.  I am an armchair warrior at best and a coward at worst, and have always been incredibly grateful that there are men and women who are willing to do the necessary fighting that I’m scared to do.

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The Bookworm Beat 12-12-15 — the “hopeful pessimist” open thread

Woman-writing-300x265[This is a long one, good for a cozy read on a winter day.]

I’m a pessimist. I’ve learned through experience that most things go wrong, whether in the world or in my life. Still, I never completely lose hope. If I didn’t have hope, frankly, I would stop moving entirely.

Despite the knowledge that my best laid plans will gang [mostly] aft agley, I wake up every morning with slightly more than half my brain saying “this time the good thing will happen,” and slightly less than half warning “you know it won’t.” The first part gets me out of bed with the sun, the second part gives me insomnia with the moon.

Anyway, that oxymoronic attitude infuses my blog. I’m never surprised when I read about Progressive perfidy, Islamist terrorism, or human stupidity and cruelty, but I always think, maybe something will change . . . maybe it will be better. And on that note, I offer you a cornucopia of things, both old and new, that acknowledge the bad, but perhaps hold out hope for the good.

If Imam Obama doesn’t speak for sharia, who does?

Obama, whose resume does not include either professional or amateur level knowledge about Islam, nevertheless is very keen to tell us each time there’s an Islamic terror attack anywhere in the world that the perpetrators are un-Islamic and do not speak for Islam. Rather than confound Obama with complicated doctrinal questions, Roger Kimball asks one very important one: So Who Does Speak for Islam, President Obama? Kimball even offers a few suggested answers to that question:

Saudi Arabia? It is the world’s most important Sunni Muslim state. One of the most ghastly things about ISIS is its followers’ penchant for beheading people, yet in 2015 alone, our “ally” Saudi Arabia has beheaded 151 people. I am surprised the number is not higher; the list of things that are capital offenses in Saudi Arabia is long and varied.

Apostasy makes the list. If you decide that Allah is not for you, it’s off with your head.

Want a glass of wine? Think twice. The consumption of intoxicants is on the list, as is consensual homosexual sex, adultery, and “sorcery or witchcraft.”

So, presumably, Obama would not let Saudi Arabia speak for Islam.

How about the world’s largest Shia state, Iran? Does it speak for Islam? If not, why not? Because it is just as much a barbaric cesspool as Saudi Arabia?

You see how it’s going to proceed. Last night, Barack Obama was at pains to distance us from “those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.” Well, with that statement Obama forbids the majority of the world’s Muslims, including the denizens of Islam’s chief states, from speaking for Islam.

Let’s forget conquest and terror: there are millions of folks who call themselves Muslims, yet want nothing to do with jihadist violence. Do they speak for Islam?

Well, if they affirm Sharia — Islamic law — then they cannot in principle affirm “the values of religious tolerance,” etc., so Obama does not allow these Muslims to speak for Islam, either.

Using Trump’s statements about Muslim immigration as the first step in an intelligent immigration plan

If Donald Trump were an artist, he would not be a delicate miniaturist or a meticulous late-medieval Flemish craftsman. Instead, he would be Jackson Pollock or possibly Jeff Koons. He’s creating something all right, but there’s a destructive edge to his creative acts.

Thus, when Donald Trump announced, less than tactfully, that all Muslim immigration ought to step pending Congress’s ability to figure out what’s going on with Muslim immigrants (both ordinary and refugee), he created an immediate furor. There was that the destructive part of his creativity.  But Trump also said something that needs to be said, which is that the American government fails in its obligation to protect Americans against enemies both foreign and domestic when it willingly lets foreign enemies turn into domestic ones.

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The Bookworm Beat 11-24-15 — the “a little help from my friends” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265My day has spiraled so wildly out of control, I despair of ever getting it back. Fortunately, a good friend who knows well how I think sent me an email that says much of what I would have said today if I’d had the time. So, here is the “Bookworm friends” edition:

On the subject of white guilt, let me paraphrase Alan Dershowitz who calls today’s tenured faculty the biggest wusses he’s seen in 50 years.  All of them are unable to respond to the outrageous demands and tactics of perpetual grievance groups, paralyzed by the white guilt.  What Dershowitz doesn’t say is that the victimization these groups are claiming as justification is nothing more or less than the tenured faculty has been trying for decades now to inculcate in them.  I think Mary Shelly wrote a cautionary tale about this . . .

Also, Bret Stephens places blame firmly where it belongs when it comes to those monstrous students — on their Progressive parents and faculty members, who are themselves the spawn of the Greatest Generation who, flush with winning the war and dominating the peace, forgot to parent.

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John Kerry’s reprehensible statements following the Paris massacre were all about Islam denial

John-KerryIn the wake of the Paris massacre, John Kerry went out and made a fool of himself. There’s nothing new there, but I did want to comment on something I did and to explain why I did it — or more accurately, why I didn’t do something that every other commentator did. My point in writing this is to prove that I’m not quite the half-wit people may have assumed I am.

Let me begin with Kerry’s words:

In the last days, obviously, that has been particularly put to the test. There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for. That’s not an exaggeration. It was to assault all sense of nationhood and nation-state and rule of law and decency, dignity, and just put fear into the community and say, “Here we are.” And for what? What’s the platform? What’s the grievance? That we’re not who they are? They kill people because of who they are and they kill people because of what they believe. And it’s indiscriminate. They kill Shia. They kill Yezidis. They kill Christians. They kill Druze. They kill Ismaili. They kill anybody who isn’t them and doesn’t pledge to be that. And they carry with them the greatest public display of misogyny that I’ve ever seen, not to mention a false claim regarding Islam. It has nothing to do with Islam; it has everything to do with criminality, with terror, with abuse, with psychopathism – I mean, you name it.

Everybody and his uncle latched onto the first part of that paragraph, in which Kerry seemed to say that satirical journalists and Jews were legitimate terrorist targets. I went in a different direction and focused on the second part where, in keeping with the Democrat-party line, Kerry again denied that massacres — whether ten months ago or a week ago — have anything to do with Islam. It occurred to me later that some readers might have thought I was stupid, careless, or otherwise deficient for not lambasting Kerry for his bizarre statement about legitimate and illegitimate terrorist attacks.

All I can say is that I’m not as stupid as I look. I actually had an analytical framework that I’d completely clicked through by the time I sat down and wrote. I’d processed Kerry’s remarks, and concluded that the most important part was his denial about Islam’s role. Everything else was just Kerry’s generosity in giving us an opportunity to see his obtuse brain working through a problem.

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Stuck on Stupid: Progressive Facebook edition (Part 1)

facebook-thumbs-downMy Progressive Facebook friends have received their marching orders from Democrat central and the result has been a cascade of stupid cluttering up my Facebook feed. (This is the curse of a life spent living in Blue zones.) Lest I say something unforgivable to people whose good will I need in order for my children and me to get through our daily lives, I’m venting my spleen here.

I’ll start with my own Congressman, Jared Huffman, who is more than adequately filling Lynn Woolsey’s shoes, since she’s hard Left and not very bright:

Jared Huffman on refugees

If you’ll bear with me, let me just break out the problems with that self-congratulatory paragraph:

Ignoring the ad hominem attack with which Huffman begins his post, let’s get to the “factual statements.”  First, he says that “[t]hese people [are] overwhelmingly women and children. . . .”  Really?  That’s not what the demographics in Europe were.  In Europe, according to the UN, a source I’m sure Huffman trusts implicitly, the fleeing refugees were overwhelmingly men:  In the beginning, the UN was reporting that 72% of the refugees were men.  That number has since dropped to 62%, although I have to admit that I don’t trust the UN not to have fiddled with the numbers after the outcry about a huge tide of military-aged Muslim men swarming Europe. So no, if Europe is anything to go by, we’re not getting the widows and orphans.  We’re getting the fighting men.

Widows and orphans amongst refugees

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The Bookworm Beat 11-17-15 — the “guest blogger” edition and open thread

Unknown personI haven’t had a chance to get much writing done today, but a friend who knows what interests me sent me such a chock-full-of-information email that I’m just going to pass it on to you.

Well, the gossip mags have been talking for two weeks about some male star HIV positive. Turns out it is Charlie Sheen. I don’t wish that on anyone, but color me not surprised. But here is the kicker: If rumors are true he has known for four years, during which time he has had unprotected sex with who knows how many women without warning them of his condition. He is concerned about his condition coming to light because he worries it will “hurt his career.” Lock him up, toss in a couple of starving honey badgers, then throw away the key.

Anti-Islamist protests are occurring all over France. Not exactly a surprise. What I do find curious is that they tag the protesters and Marine La Pen as “far right wing.” There is nothing “right wing” or conservative about her. She is a socialist and a nationalist. Honestly, even before people retake their countries in Europe, they need to burn down the press.

I listened to a Trump rally on the radio as I drove to the store to pick up some milk earlier. For the better part of 20 mins I heard him talk about how great he was going to make things, how the press hates him, and how wonderful he is. The guy could not be more superficial. He makes my skin crawl at this point. Anyone who is buying this travesty is our version of a 2008 Obama voter. I weep for our nation.

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After Paris, will Obama actually do anything to halt terror attacks?

President Obama in Turkey at G20Appearing at the G-20 summit in Turkey, President Obama made appropriate noises about responding to ISIS in the wake of the violent attack in Paris on November 13, just two weeks after ISIS shot down a Russian passenger aircraft over the Sinai Desert, killing all aboard.

Obama murmured about an “attack on the civilized world” and spoke poetically about “skies [that] have been darkened.” He promised to stand with France in addressing the savage attack. To date, that promise meant that the U.S. shared with France data about ISIS strongholds in Syria.

Yesterday, using this data, France obliterated ISIS’s Raqqa command center, recruiting center, and ammunition storage. Interestingly, despite the U.S. having possession of this information, and indeed, using it for an expensive surgical strike against “Jihadi John,” our military made no effort to take out these same targets.

Obama also promised to stand with Turkey and Europe generally to stop the overwhelming flow of migrants. Nevertheless, speaking through Ben Rhodes, the English and Poly Sci major turned Obama foreign policy adviser, Obama (in common with the three Democrat candidates for president) has promised to continue unabated the flow of Middle Eastern refugees into the United States. To assuage people’s fears, however, the administration did promise that these refugees would be subject to “rigorous” vetting.

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Brief thoughts about today’s news #Paris #Islam #Mizzou #terror #Yale

paris-attackBefore I begin, I want to extend my sincerest condolences to the French people. This Mumbai-style attack is terrible and cruel.

Having said that, I feel obligated to point out that France, which has expended a great deal of energy trying to appease the Muslim crocodile (including trying to undermine Israel at every turn and punting on a moral nation’s obligation to protect its Jewish population) failed as signally at appeasement as Churchill implied would happen to all appeasers.

I was speaking to a friend who said that the Paris attack would almost certainly improve Marine Le Pen’s political prospects. Although she’s a socialist through and through, she at least understands that the medieval strain of Islam is France’s enemy, just as it is the enemy of all civilized nations. Thinking about Le Pen, I realized that we have a Le Pen too: Donald Trump.

Unlike a true conservative who believes in individual liberty, which can only be achieved through limited government, Trump, a former Democrat, is a Big Government guy in both theory and practice. And like Le Pen, the only thing that really distinguishes Trump from any other statist political figure is that he too is hostile to immigrants. They are both xenophobic nationalists.  Neither is a true conservative.

As it happens, I support Trump’s hard-line stance on illegal immigration. As it happens, my favorite candidate, Ted Cruz, is also a hardliner on immigration but — and this is why I like him so much — he’s also a true individual liberties kind of guy, one who believes federal government should fulfill limited functions that happen to include strong border and national security.

And of course, let me be one of many to comment that, last I heard, Obama still can’t make himself choke out the words Islam or Muslim.

Closer to home, I’m getting the feeling that the Mini Maos who have taken over America’s colleges and universities might have finally broken through the wall of ignorance behind which middle class parents have been hiding when it comes to the Leftist insanity they’re funding. I had three Progressive friends ask me today (because they know I follow the news fanatically) what the heck is going on. I was happy to explain.

Indeed, I’m wondering if today won’t be an inflection point — a “come to Jesus moment,” if you will — when mindless liberals finally realize that conservatives are not racist, censorial fascists, but have, instead, been the tocsin desperately shouting out a warning about the dangers of fascism at home and Islamism both at home and abroad. Certainly, every Progressive with even a few functioning brain cells should ask him or herself if things in Paris would have been different if the Parisians had concealed-carry. And those who have been watching events in Israel must surely have noticed by now that the best defense against a terrorist with a knife is a gun.

[VIDEO] Left-leaning German TV station takes a hard look at the Islamic influx

It’s redundant to say that a German TV station is left-leaning. I doubt that there are any conservative-leaning TV stations anywhere in continental Europe or in England. Things with the rapidly rising number of Islamic residents must be getting very disturbing if the media is starting to take stock of what’s happening within Germany’s borders:

The Bookworm Beat 11-5-15 — Guy Fawkes edition, Part 2

Woman-writing-300x265I’ve still got a few more things I want to share with you tonight, so consider this Part 2 for the day (with Part 1 here).

The coming (and inevitable) Leftist implosion

Every time I read a Kevin Williamson article, I like his writing and thinking just a little bit more. In one of his latest outings, about the inevitable fissures on the Left (as exemplified by (1) the way Black Lives Matters activists are attacking old, white Bernie and Hillary, and (2) the way the black/Hispanic majority in very Leftist Houston nevertheless voted down men in women’s restrooms), Williams has the following wonderful lines:

The challenge for the Left is that while the Republican party is mainly a coalition of ideologies, the Democratic party is mainly a coalition of interest groups, and the current model of Democratic politics — poor and largely non-white people providing the muscle and rich white liberals calling the shots — is unsustainable. The social attitudes of non-white voters are pretty plainly not those of white liberals, and, at the same time — and probably more significant — the economic interests of white liberals are pulling away from those of the people in whose interest they purport to act. Hispanic immigrants and urban blacks make below-average wages; public-school administrators and other government employees make wages that are well above average. There aren’t a lot of people in Cleveland’s Glenville who give a fat furry rat’s patootie how much interest Caitlyn from Bryn Mawr is paying on the student loans that financed her women’s-studies degree. If you’re wondering why Democrats lean so deeply into the racial rhetoric — Joe Biden’s shameful “They want to put y’all back in chains!” etc. — that’s a big part of your answer.

Rich Lowry’s article nails why I don’t trust Rubio

Marco Rubio is bright, articulate, focused, conservative, and telegenic. I ought to like him . . . but I just don’t. I’ve been pfumphering around for a while trying to put my finger on my problem with him and I think it really does boil down to his support for amnesty:

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