Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

To my readers at Extra Thoughts, a happy Thanksgiving. My Thanksgiving post in full is up at What's Wrong With the World. It incorporates and expands on two earlier posts originally published here.

Te Deum
We praise thee, O God: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting.
To Thee all Angels cry aloud: the Heavens and all the powers therein.
To Thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry, Holy, Holy, Holy: Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy Glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles praise Thee.
The godly fellowship of the Prophets praise Thee.
The noble army of Martyrs praise Thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge Thee;
The Father of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true, and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost: the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man: Thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, Thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray Thee, help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints in glory everlasting.
O Lord, save Thy people: and bless Thine heritage.
Govern them and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify Thee; and we worship Thy Name, ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let Thy mercy be upon us: as our trust is in Thee.
O Lord, in Thee have I trusted: let me never be confounded.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"Excuse me, I'm having trouble finding this nonsense in my Bible"

Tomorrow or late tonight I will be putting up a Thanksgiving post at What's Wrong With the World, and I will link that from here as well. But just before that, I wanted to put this amusing meme out there. I was reminded of it by this post  at Calvinistic Cartoons that mentioned women's ordination--a subject on which I share Eddie Eddings's opinion. (Disclaimer: I'm not a Calvinist even though I link Calvinistic Cartoons.)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Does dissing home schooling make you shallow?

My title is deliberately provocative, of course. It was prompted by this silly little list, "12 Signs You Were Definitely Home Schooled" (as opposed to being indefinitely home schooled?), which happened to pop up in my Facebook feed when a friend-of-a-friend shared it with a friend. (It is thus that Facebook, while killing blogging in several obvious senses, is also a friend to bloggers by giving them material.) 

The post is by Tiffanie Brunson, who is social media coordinator for the e-zine Relevant, in which her post appears. I infer that she was home schooled and is now critical of her upbringing. She also appears to think she is a humor writer, but in actuality the list just comes across as childish.

What struck me most about the list was its emphasis on ephemeral values such as being with-it and stylish. It seems that, having missed the opportunity (at the age of thirteen) to be a pathetic thirteen-year-old yearning to be "in" and look "cool" with the other kids at school, this critic of home schooling tries to live out that essential phase of life in her twenties.


8. You Idolized Your Cool Cousins Who Went to Public School
It didn’t matter if they were Mathletes, AV club nerds or captain of the football team, if your cousins went to public school, they were the coolest. Maybe you even had cousins who got to wear one-piece swimsuits in public and listened to secular radio stations. You could have hung posters of them in your room and felt fine about it.
Tiffanie tells us at the outset that these are "12 things every home schooler experienced," though she later inconsistently (#2) says that "of course" that particular one (lots of siblings--is that a bad thing anyway?) was "not a home schooling requirement." The title, on the other hand, says that these are signs that you were definitely home schooled, which seems to imply a sufficient condition. The "every home schooler experienced" sentence seems to imply a necessary condition. Does she mean that all of these are sufficient and necessary conditions of being home schooled? The latter is certainly false, as several of them do not apply to quite a few home schoolers of my acquaintance. And of course, these are also not sufficient conditions, since it's entirely possible to have, e.g., lots of siblings without being home schooled. But never mind. One can't expect someone trying hard to be a humor writer to be logical.

As to #8, it's pretty foreign to me.

Moving on, the emphasis upon not very important things that other people get to do that "we poor home schoolers" didn't get to do gets stronger:

9. You Had No Idea What Yearbook Superlatives Were
Hardcore homeschoolers didn’t get yearbooks and didn’t have a graduating class to superlative-ize. They had to rely heavily on scrapbooking and home videos to capture sweet memories. Let’s be honest though, most of us would probably rather just forget.
I myself went to school (Christian school, but a bricks and mortar school), and I'm not entirely sure what she means by "yearbook superlatives." I edited my senior year school yearbook, which nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. (This was in the 80's, when you had to use black India ink to cover any part of the page you weren't filling with pictures if you did a collage.) So people wrote nice things or funny things in each other's yearbooks. That was cool, especially if it was a guy one had a crush on. But it wasn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.

12. Your Fashion Sense Was a Bit Off
Denim frocks, scrunchies and similar things were cool when Bonnie Hunt wore them in the early ’90s, but they definitely were not cool when worn by 13-17 year-olds in 2006. And the list of things you weren't allowed to wear was likely too long to recount. A personal favorite: Graphic tees. Most homeschool moms were in agreement with the “no shirts with anything remotely questionable on it” policy. And it didn’t even have to be offensive.
Since I don't know what Tiffanie's mom considered "remotely questionable," I can't render an opinion on whether her graphic t-shirt bans were reasonable or not. But...the paragraph sounds pretty pathetic. The repeated use of the word "cool," for example. Actually, most of the home schooled teens growing up around me look quite normal, fashion-wise, though "normal" doesn't mean "immodest." So for the young ladies, especially, they and their parents have to do a certain amount of looking and perhaps spend some extra money to get around our current culture's determination that women dress like prostitutes.

Then there's this one:

10. You Never Experienced Prom
Since homeschoolers weren’t allowed to dance, proms were a definite no-go. But it wouldn’t be a weird subculture without creating a super lame alternative. Thus, you had prom-like gatherings where kids would dress up, get corralled into some sort of community or convention center and enjoy sugar-free fruit punch and salisbury steak. It was a little like going to dinner at your grandparents’ house, but with more taffeta and pocket squares and less fun.
Gosh, that's hilarious. Only it is, in fact, false. My local home school organization holds a prom, with dancing, each year, and has done so for enough years that I'm pretty sure Tiffanie's generation was included. I find it hard to imagine we are the only ones. Southwest Michigan isn't exactly the Hipness Center of the home schooling world.

But, again, I have to wonder if it really matters all that much anyway. Is prom this super-important rite of passage? Secular school proms are often...highly problematic, to put it mildly. I'm thinking here of getting drunk, sex-simulating dancing which any chaperones on hand have to be "meanies" and stop, and actual sex afterwards. Like a high school yearbook, prom is one of those things that a person's life can easily be complete without.

In fact, the "you never experienced prom" complaint, like "you didn't have a high school yearbook" strengthens the overall feeling that Tiffanie is taking trivial things and treating them as at least somewhat important--part of making sure a young person can make a successful transition into real life. But in all seriousness, how many people are helped in their future by having gone to prom, or hindered by not having had a high school yearbook? Or, setting aside career issues, is it really deeply personally enriching to have a high school yearbook? I suppose it might be in given cases. But by the same token, if it's personal enrichment we are talking about, there is no reason to think that relationships with siblings or other home schooled young people, or the activities carried out in those contexts (such as the co-op activities that Tiffanie sneers at in a different number), are not enriching.

This column, light-hearted as it is meant to sound, has a strangely culturally blinkered undercurrent: If you didn't have these specific activities, clothes, rites of passage, etc., you were deprived. And the specific ones in question just happen to be those common in secular American life. Isn't that a little narrow-minded? Yet ironically, the idea is supposed to be that it is the home schoolers who were narrow-minded if they didn't participate in all the "cool" stuff.

Every way of life has its pros and cons, and the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I doubt that Tiffanie would write a similarly snarky column about South American tribesmen or Amish who don't have prom or high school yearbooks and don't dress in the latest, most popular American fashions. And she might have had some much, much worse experiences if she had not been home schooled, especially if she had been public schooled. Getting an STD at the age of 17 makes salisbury steak and taffeta look pretty good by comparison.

The idea behind her criticisms appears to be that there can be no such thing as a legitimate sub-culture that is different in part from the larger culture around. If you are part of an entirely different culture from 21st-century America, that may be okay, depending on specifics. But if you happen actually to live in 21st century America (or, presumably, Europe), and you aren't actually Amish, then you have to get "with it" or your kids will be deprived through not being cool in their teens and twenties. (Where the Mennonites fall on Tiffanie's child-depriving scale of coolness, I'm not sure.) Being in the world but not of it apparently doesn't extend to not going to a high school prom night.

At this point, as new generations grow up, there is a proliferation of "I wouldn't have done it that way" blogs and groups concerning home schooling as well as for other conservative countercultural movements. Some make good and important points. The antics of Bill Gothard of the ATI movement certainly needed to be exposed. I myself have said that the Christian "courtship" culture has come at a very bad time and that Christian parents need instead to be reclaiming a smart notion of dating, including casual dating. Even Tiffanie has one point worth considering:
Homeschoolers are awkward because they are, surprisingly, overconfident. Because most of our days are spent in our homes with our families, we just assume that whatever is OK to do at home is also OK everywhere else. Most of us learn the hard way that this is not the case.
I think she's right about that as a rough generalization, at least for some, and we home schooling parents do well to bear it in mind as a danger and try to counteract it.

But too often, the useful points get mixed up with a lot of shallow nonsense or worse.

What both parents and young people need to be thinking about is the intersection of eternal values and earthly practicalities. That is (no surprise) extremely difficult. In what ways might being un-cool become being unemployable or unmarriageable? Are those things that can be changed, or do they represent ways in which the world is demanding something wrong, and we must stick to our principles? Obviously, this will vary with specifics. At what point do decisions about just staying out of this or that cultural phenomenon (be it proms or Facebook or Twitter) stymie opportunities for friendships and future career to such an extent that our children end up helpless or problematically isolated? Have we made being countercultural an end in itself, to our harm and/or that of our children?

These are serious matters, matters with which every responsible Christian parent wrestles, whether home schooling or not. For my part, I hope and pray that my children grow up to be fully committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and also able to evaluate maturely whatever mistakes I have made. I'm afraid, though, that Tiffanie Brunson's approach does not match that mature, considered evaluation.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The apologetic value of the fall and the tension with theistic evolution of man

I have long thought that there is an argument to be made for the Judeo-Christian teaching of the fall of man quite independent of more direct arguments (such as for the resurrection of Jesus) for Christianity as a whole.

Look at what we know of human beings--man, the "glory, jest, and riddle of the world." Man is (pace those who say bonobos can talk) the only creature on earth able to use natural language, the only creature able to use abstract reasoning. Not only does man have unique abilities, man also has a unique capacity both for good and evil. Some human beings give their entire lives to altruistic endeavors, while others give their entire lives to figuring out how to torment and harm others. The former way of living one's life seems to most of us like a call to our "higher selves," while the latter seems to us twisted, not the way it ought to be, a perversion of human nature.

Where did this being come from, so different from all the other animals? And how does it come about that we have this notion of what human beings should be doing and should be like, that some people seem to fulfill (or come close to fulfilling) this ideal, while in so many ways we also fall short of this ideal?

The traditional Judeo-Christian explanation of these facts is that man was originally made in the image of God. He was specially made and is truly different from all the animals. Moreover, man was made good. Man was made with a human nature that was originally turned or oriented toward God. But there was a catastrophe at a real, historical time, and man fell, and now every human being (with perhaps only one exception--Jesus Christ--or if you are a Catholic the two exceptions of Jesus and his mother Mary) is born with a sin nature. A sin nature, at a minimum, is an innate bent or inclination to sin.

This set of historical claims does quite a good job explaining the data I brought up to begin with. Why does man seem so different from animals? On the traditional Judeo-Christian view, because he is different, and is so intrinsically, and was made so. Why does man have a yearning towards good? Because he was made originally for God and still retains the natural light and the image of God. Why does man inevitably commit evil? Because man fell and now has a sin nature. Why is there such a strong feeling that "it shouldn't be that way"? Because it was not originally meant to be that way, and because man realizes, deep down, that he was not made for evil and destruction.

It is much more difficult to explain these facts if we assume the Judeo-Christian account to be false.

To some extent, then, I think it can be justly said that the "glory, jest, and riddle" argument confirms the Judeo-Christian story of the history of mankind.

But if one accepts full-scale theistic evolution for mankind, one undermines this apologetic point. What I mean by "full-scale" theistic evolution for mankind is that one accepts that, to all appearances, mankind evolved by natural processes from non-human animals, with at least the appearance of full physical evolution. At most, the "full-scale" theistic evolutionist may allow some kind of invisible, indetectable "ensoulment" to have occurred, but for the most part the full-scale TE accepts the Darwinian's emphasis upon continuity between man and animals. I discussed some of this here.

It is highly debatable that the full-scale TE can make any forceful use of the "glory, jest, and riddle" argument I have outlined. For one thing, the whole doctrine of the fall is lessened. As I discussed here, the TE view is that there was never a time when man as a race was immortal. Physical death was a part of not only animal but (given full biological continuity) human fate from the outset. Indeed the very notion of mankind is blurred on the full-scale TE view, giving serious problems to the meaning of the imago dei itself. John H. Walton believes that mankind always killed and committed other acts which we would call "sin" now but that they were not accounted as sin prior to God's "choosing" Adam, because previous hominids were not regarded as accountable.

Insofar as such a view has a place for any sort of "fall" at all, it cannot be a sharp cataclysm followed by a radical change in human nature. It therefore becomes extremely difficult for such a view to make explanatory use of the claim that man was "originally not intended to be this way," that man was made good by God from the outset, and that the evil that man now does is a result of a severe, negative change in what mankind innately is like.

Sometimes those attracted to TE will say that they accept it (not being experts in science, etc.) for apologetic reasons, in order to avoid or remove obstacles to reaching secularists who take the full Darwinian story as gospel.

But such accommodation, ironically, cuts off the TE from using important apologetic resources. The most obvious of these are the resources provided by the empirical, scientific evidence for the intelligent design of nature, since one who is trying to accept as much Darwinian biology as possible must also accept the idea that any activity of God in the realm of biological design is indectable. My argument here is that the attempt to accept TE for apologetic reasons also cuts one off from the apologetic argument from the nature of man (both good and evil) and from the shock and wrongness of evil.

It is not in general a good idea to pursue strategy at the expense of pursuing truth. Often enough, one succeeds at neither. The "strategic" acceptance of theistic evolution is a notable case in point.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

On France

What's Wrong With the World has a post up about the ISIS attacks in France, and I would not for a moment want to detract from that. In fact, it exemplifies the response I am calling for in this post--namely, manly outrage and concrete suggestions as opposed to sentiment for its own sake.

The present post takes its point of departure from this rather depressing piece at National Review by Daniel Pipes. Pipes points out that a pattern has been repeated in the face of numerous terrorist attacks--namely, the leadership runs left while the voters run right. Says Pipes:

[W]hen it comes to the Establishment — politicians, the police, the press, and the professors — the unrelenting violence has a contrary effect. Those charged with interpreting the attacks live in a bubble of public denial (what they say privately is another matter) in which they feel compelled to pretend that Islam has no role in the violence, out of concern that to recognize it would cause even more problems. These professionals bald-facedly feign belief in a mysterious “violent extremist” virus that seems to afflict only Muslims, prompting them to engage in random acts of barbaric violence. Of the many preposterous statements by politicians, my all-time favorite is what Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, said about the Charlie Hebdo jihadis: “They’re about as Muslim as I am.”
This defiance of common sense has survived each atrocity, and I predict that it will also outlast the Paris massacre. Only a truly massive loss of life, perhaps in the hundreds of thousands, would force the professionals to back off their deeply ingrained pattern of denying an Islamic component in the spate of attacks.
More surprising yet, the professionals respond to the public’s move to the right by themselves moving to the left, encouraging more immigration from the Middle East, instituting more “hate speech” codes to suppress criticism of Islam, and providing more patronage to Islamists. This pattern affects not just Establishment figures of the Left but more strikingly also of the Right (such as Angela Merkel of Germany); only Eastern European leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban permit themselves to speak honestly about the real problems.  
(Interestingly, and in passing, Pipes links to a carefully documented post on the health problems being brought into Germany with the many "migrants," an issue that a leftist commentator recently scoffed at when I mentioned it. Dang those xenophobic facts!)

With decent evidence now indicating that at least one of the Paris terrorists came in through Greece posing as a refugee, I was just wondering how Angela Merkel was sleeping these last couple of nights. According to Pipes' evaluation, though, she is not racked with any thoughts of the "My God, what have I done?" variety but instead is planning to tell her people that the beatings will continue until morale improves. A suicidal approach indeed.

I'm afraid that Pipes is right. And, if my experience with Americans has any relevance to European attitudes, his pessimistic predictions--namely, that our leaders will learn very little from what has happened--may have their source in confusion among the voters as well.

As I've been taking a bit of the temperature on Facebook, I've noticed that there are those who are "in support of France," even doing that thing with the profile photo and the French flag that Facebook is encouraging, but remain highly ambivalent (at a minimum) about any negative take on Muslim immigration, including the current wave of alleged refugees which apparently included at least one terrorist. It was, in fact, almost inevitable that this would happen. We shouldn't even be surprised that it was predicted. The Greek migration minister said on Sept. 9 that it would be "foolish to believe that there are no jihadists among the refugees that cross into Europe."

But there is a huge amount of sentiment, and I'm afraid not only among the elites and leaders, against exercising common sense in the area of immigration. Part of the problem is that we hear "refugees" and assume, "Okay, this is a crisis, this is an emergency, all checks and prudence have to go to the wall, because we have to help people in danger." It's a generous impulse, but a wrong-headed one. To say, outright, "We do not have to welcome large numbers of immigrants from radically different cultures whom we have not had time to check for either jihadist ties, real identity, or health problems, and that our economy may not be able to support, and this is true even though taking basic steps of prudence will probably mean that some innocent people die one way or another" sounds harsh but is simply true.

What must be recognized is that the West does no good to the world at large by committing suicide through an excess of generosity and sentiment. Where will the refugees of thirty years from now, any of them, even a small number, turn to if Europe has become part of a Caliphate? How much can the U.S. help others or act as a beacon of freedom if its already weakened economy and infrastructure are further strained by bringing in numbers of people with problems we do not have the resources to handle? And as we turn into more of a police state in response to the terrorist threats we have fecklessly welcomed in, how much do we remain an exemplar of freedom to the nations and a place of safety for others to come to? And, finally, face this: The government of Germany, or the U.S., or France, has more of a duty to protect its own citizens from terrorist attacks than it has to welcome the destitute and oppressed from other countries. That's just a fact. There are concentric circles of duty, though it is politically incorrect to say so.

To his credit, Governor Snyder of Michigan has rescinded his previous eagerness to relocate a bunch of Syrian immigrants into his state. He said explicitly that his recent decision was made in light of the Paris attacks. Good for him. He's governor of Michigan, not of Syria.

What we need in response to these attacks is not sentiment but rather manliness. By manliness I do not mean hatefulness and cruelty, such as will come from the alt-right against whom I have been writing lately. I do mean the kind of concrete suggestions made in the W4 post--stop Muslim immigration (and especially stop the madness of these recent unrestricted waves) and take military action against ISIS. Also, recognize the blazingly obvious connection between Islam and Jihad and take this into account in public policy--something too many on both sides of the aisle seem unwilling to do.

It may be too late for Europe, though I hope not. It may be that even if the most allegedly "xenophobic" measures are taken concerning future immigrants, many more such terrorist attacks will be carried out, though I hope not. But one thing we can be sure of: If Europe and the United States do not wake up and start taking measures that represent bare common sense in these areas, things will get much, much worse. Pointing out that inconvenient fact is what "standing with France" should mean, even if it isn't what the President of France wants. I do feel anguish for the victims and their families. But more, I feel outrage that this was allowed to happen and outrage at the evil of man that brought it about directly. It is in that sense that I "stand with France." Not in the sense merely that I have warm and sad feelings. Not in the candle-lighting sense, but in the sense of a call for clear eyes and active hands. Let us be up and doing, and may God defend the right.

A collect to be offered in time of war and tumults:
O Almighty God, the supreme Governor of all things, whose power no creature is able to resist, to whom it belongeth justly to punish sinners, and to be merciful to those who truly repent; Save and deliver us, we humbly beseech thee, from the hands of our enemies; that we, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore from all perils, to glorify thee, who art the only giver of all victory; through the merits of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, November 09, 2015

The pity of it all

I have a new post up at What's Wrong With the World. Its theme is why Matt Walsh is a healthy corrective to some bad trends in our Western thinking.

Toward the end of the post I start talking about the positive aspects of what Walsh writes and about how he is not just a corrective to wussiness but also a corrective to mere bitterness and destructiveness.

I wanted to say more about that temptation here, where I have full moderation turned on, because I think it is something some conservatives need to hear.

There is a reaction going on right now against wussy conservatism. I get that. I get not liking wussy conservatism. I'm not a wussy conservative myself. But the reaction (sometimes known as "neoreaction") is dark, disturbing, and often outright vile. We get, for example, the implication that if young women get raped by Muslims and the young women were so-called "SJWs," we shouldn't worry too much about it, because they are our political enemies and wouldn't thank us for our concern. We get a similar implication about anybody assassinated by Vladimir Putin: If he was probably somebody "we" don't care about, then "shrug" about his being assassinated.

Then there was the utter vileness directed at David French for having the gall to tackle the Alt-Right and for the additional crime of having adopted an African child.

On and on goes the drumbeat in those circles--"SJWs always lie" "SJWs are traitors," "We shouldn't care what happens to SJWs" and so forth.

I'm perfectly happy to use the word "evil" where it fits. I'm willing to say that the left supports grave evil.

But when it comes to the point that we are implying that the rape and murder of those on the political left is no biggie because they are "SJWs" and "traitors," that is destruction, not conservatism.

It is also stupid and immature. If you live in the real world and know real people, you begin to get a sense of the pity of it all. What I mean by that is that most real people who support evil policies fall somewhere on a continuum of muddled-ness, and that muddled-ness itself is a cause for pity and sadness. Yes, the saying that the line between evil and good runs through the middle of each human heart gets overused and (in a sense) isn't entirely true. When people were shoving Jews into gas chambers and when the abortionist literally rips off the head of the unborn child, this isn't some kind of generic evil that is "the same for everybody."

All true. But back up a level. Back up to the people who shut their ears to the Holocaust or who even accepted and parroted Nazi talking points. And on our side of the Atlantic and in our own time, ponder for a minute those who parrot pro-abortion or pro-gay talking points.

My point is that people are to some degree brainwashed from the time that they are young. The schools are a huge source of this brainwashing, as are TV shows, the mainstream media, and employers. It is self-propagating, too. Brainwashed people go on to brainwash others. This does not make them free of responsibility, but it does mitigate their acceptance of evil ideology. It should all the more mitigate it when the people we're talking about are not themselves the ardent persecutors--not the people bringing the lawsuit but merely the people making dumb, intensely annoying, muddle-headed comments about how maybe the baker should have been nicer and baked the cake after all, for example. It should make those of us who see reality more clearly have somewhat of a "There but for the grace of God go I" feeling. Here's a friend or relative whom you like, care about, or have family loyalty to, and suddenly he's going on about how maybe gay "marriage" isn't so bad, because after all it's only civil marriage, and we shouldn't try to "impose Christian morals" on non-Christians in the secular world--some nonsense like that. Or a friend is rattling off a talking point about how abortion is a "difficult choice" and he doesn't want to tell a woman "what to do with her body."

Is it disappointing? For sure, especially if you expected that the person would be able to think more clearly than that. Is it even infuriating? Definitely, especially if you try calmly debating and feel like you're getting nowhere.

But on one day or another, I challenge you, you need to be overwhelmed for a moment by the pity of it all. All the hearts, all the minds, all the souls gone astray. All the people led into darkness and confusion by the Spirit of the Age. It's part of the tragedy of human history.

Once you have felt that, once you have seen that, once you have grown to that point, you should never, ever fall for cheap shots about how it doesn't matter if someone gets shot, killed, or raped, because he (or she) was just an "SJW." You should never cooperate with fantasies about getting into a literal shooting war with the left.

Do I believe in the culture wars? Yes, indeed. I consider myself a proud culture warrior. One of the reasons I don't give up on speaking the truth and fighting the rearguard in Christian circles is because I have a strong sense of how error spreads like a disease through the institutions and the churches. We must never give up on the culture wars, and it literally doesn't matter to that "never give up" advice if we are losing. Indeed, we should fight the harder if we are losing, for the sake of our own souls and the souls of our children.

But "culture war" doesn't mean literally not caring about or even kind of liking the picture of the people on the other side getting killed. "Culture war" doesn't mean increasingly hating anybody on your own side of the issues who seems more squeamish than you are about calling a spade a grub hoe. (Frustration, yes. Hatred and vitriolic contempt, no.) "Culture war" doesn't mean having no sense of degrees of guilt, or mitigation, or ignorance. Culture war doesn't mean having no love whatsoever for anybody at all except for some extremely narrow group one has designated as those who "get it." "Culture war" may mean using language that the left, and the wussy right, calls "demonizing"--language like "evil" and "baby killer." But it doesn't mean demonizing in the sense that you talk so much about "SJWs" and "traitors" that eventually you don't care about murder and mayhem as long as you can convince yourself that the victims were (probably, mostly) people who disagree with you! That is appalling. That is not what conservatism stands for or ever should stand for.

This is why I actually consider Walsh, in a sense, a moderate. Before anyone dissolves in laughter, here's what I mean by that: Walsh is outspoken to the point of brashness, he pulls no punches, but he is not representative of the truly nasty "alternative right" (or "identity right" or "manosphere" or "race-realist right") that is unfortunately arising among us. He doesn't seem to be pandering to them, either, as Ann Coulter is. In fact, he almost seems blissfully unaware of their existence (lucky man).

"Be angry and sin not" is much easier said than done. In a culture war in which we are increasingly the less powerful side, it is an indispensable skill. Somehow we have to keep our righteous anger both glowing and untarnished. We have to have a combination of dash, energy, courage, and chivalry. We have to fight hard and never give up, but never fight dirty. We have to hate evil with a passion but not hate people--not even wicked people.

"Be angry and sin not" is one of those things we cannot afford to get wrong, so we have to keep trying until we get it right. In that struggle, some groups are our enemies just as much as, if not more than, the left.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Sunday quotes on writing: Elizabeth Goudge

Writing a book is much the same as any other kind of creative work, painting or carpentry or embroidery or having a baby, an act compounded of love, imagination and physical labor.
Elizabeth Goudge The Joy of the Snow (autobiography), p. 31

Do we put ourselves in our books? Speaking for myself I do not put the woman I am into them but after I had been writing for years I noticed the regular appearance in story after story of a tall graceful woman, well-balanced, intelligent, calm, capable and tactful. She is never flustered, forgetful, frightened, irritable or nervy. She does not drop bricks, say the opposite of what she means, let saucepans boil over or smash her best teapot. She is all I long to be and all I never will be. She is in complete reverse a portrait of myself.
The Joy of the Snow, p. 34

I started writing in childhood, my first novel was published when I was thirty-two. I was forty-five before I found myself a best-seller on the strength of one book only. I think the reason for this is that writing is more a matter of practice than anyone realises. Words to a writer are the same as bricks to a builder. It is necessary to learn about their size and shape and how to put them in place.
The Joy of the Snow, pp. 34-35