August 26, 2012

There's always one thing that gets overlooked...

This is an interesting piece by Elizabeth Scalia, "Old-Fashioned" Sisters, "Newfangled" Nuns, Numbers and Habits :

("Habits" meaning the uniforms worn by religious.)

...The idea was that in order to sustain their ministries, which were arduous, the sisters needed the stability of a place to live and opportunities for both individual and communal spiritual respite. The taking of vows further stabilized the communities -- they knew who would be in their numbers, what their gifts were and where they might best be of use to work -- and female apostolic orders flourished, particularly in the 19th centuries until midway through the 20th century, when the post-war church seemed to be abundantly rich in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

The social and sexual upheaval of the 1960′s, combined with a Second Vatican Council that meant to open the windows of the church for a bit of fresh air and encountered quite a whirlwind, brought changes to the contemplative/active model. As career opportunities widened, and artificial contraception "freed" them, the numbers of women considering the religious life dropped. ** Religious women read the Council documents, specifically Gaudium et spes and Lumen gentium and found within them a call for further evolution and definition of the religious life, one that involved -- among other things -- a broader involvement with the People of God, and a return to the roots of their charisms....

"particularly in the 19th centuries until midway through the 20th century." That's exactly the Industrial Age. You can't think about these things clearly unless you realize that part of those abundant vocations and their decline were phenomena of their times. Having a life-long "vocation" was very typical of the Industrial Age. A common story when I was young was about the person who had worked his whole life for an organization or company, and was now being given a retirement testimonial dinner. That was what people thought of as a normal life.

I've written about this before, so I won't explain again why this was. You can read it here. And here.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:44 AM

August 23, 2012

Just an example of sloppy thinking...

Or maybe intentionally deceptive. It's hard to tell with liberals...

Ina Hughs: Rights come from government, not God » Knoxville News Sentinel:

"Our rights come from God and nature, not from government."

Those words brought rousing ovations in Norfolk, Va., as Paul Ryan accepted his candidacy as Mitt Romney's running mate.

But even high-octane tea drinkers from the Grand Old Party surely don't intend for our government to renege on its responsibility to ensure not only our civil rights, but our safety, our productivity, our well-being and our freedom.

How silly to say government isn't the arbiter of our rights as Americans, the protector and safeguard of democracy....

Slippery, slippery. "Rights come from government" becomes government is the "arbiter of our rights." Those are of course two different things. No one is claiming that government should not be an arbiter. And mooshing together civil rights with things like "safety" and "productivity" blurs just what rights are. Plus it takes the great authority of the realm of rights and casts it over lesser things, making it easier for government to expand its control over all aspects of life. If you elevate "safety" to the status of a civil right, then clearly government must put hundreds-of-thousands of safety inspectors to work securing our rights!

Posted by John Weidner at 6:43 AM

August 21, 2012

"Comparative asymmetries "

I'm too busy to blog much, and this is one of last week's thoughts, from Richard Fernandez, Boom and Zoom Vs Turn and Burn:

Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast says that Mitt Romney had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to prove he wasn't an intellectually dead, boring white guy by standing up, just once, for his inner bipartisan self. Instead he blew it by caving in to the radical right. He could have come out and been cool for once; instead he stayed in the closet, clenched and constipated. "Think of it: The candidate will be running on his vice president's ideas! It's a staggering thought. Ryan might as well debate Obama this October, and Romney can square off against Biden."...

Of course the real leader is one who attracts and uses smart people with ideas. The job of the President is not to have ideas, it is to lead. And to show wisdom and sagacity in choosing which ideas to give scarce resources to. All that garbage in 2008 about how brilliant Obama was was in fact indicating that he is a poor leader. As we have in fact seen.

...The counterargument is that by picking Paul Ryan, Romney has decisively broken from Obama's policy path. The selection of Ryan means Romney is no longer running as Obama-lite. He's bet that the guys in no-man's-land don't want Government Cheese. They want a real job. They want a real future. They want to be citizens of the greatest country on earth again.

But that Tomasky even thought Romney would seriously consider running as a watered-down version of Obama should worry him.  Romney "broke" the unexpected way. He confounded Tomasky's conventional -- or pretended -- wisdom, which indicates that the Republican presidential candidate fully understands the comparative asymmetries in their respective platforms even if the liberals don't.

Romney won't play Obama's game. He will play to his strengths: the economy and the deficit. Romney calculates that this will have more potential energy than Obama's coalition, characterized by Cost as "dominated by racial and ethnic minorities, upscale white liberals (especially activist groups like the environmentalists and feminists), government workers, and young voters."

He won't fight the turning game, where the media throws out the talking point of the week and the seminar speakers go out and beat up on Mitt on all the TV shows. He's going to fight at the service station and the grocery story; and at every cash register where the sad truth is largely outside the power of the press to misrepresent.

Was that a mistake? Should Romney have chosen an ethnic candidate to play the ethnic game? Or a woman to play the gender game? Even though they might be qualified for the job? Or has Mitt Romney understood the essentials and showed up with an F6F Hellcat where Tomasky was expecting an F4F Wildcat to emerge from the clouds? The outcome of the choice will be revealed in November....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:48 AM

August 14, 2012

Write 'em off...

Joseph Pearce,Slimey Limeys:

Against my better judgment I watched the closing ceremony of the London Olympics last night. I was expecting the worst and it was even worse than I expected! The whole thing was a nasty and narcissistic celebration by the denizens of modern Britain of how wonderful it thinks it is. It was a debauched celebration of atheism and hedonism, including schoolchildren singing Lennon's atheistic anthem, Imagine, as hundreds of people came together to create a giant icon of Lennon's face. Lennon, the most ethno-masochistic and anti-Christian of the Beatles, had once claimed that the "Fab Four" were more popular than Jesus. Judging by last night's closing ceremony, he is right. Everything is more popular than Jesus in modern Britain. The Son of God is well and truly hated as is His Church. Anti-Catholicism reared its intolerant head during the ceremony as dozens of roller-skating women, dressed as nuns, cavorted across the stage, lifting their habits to reveal their underwear.  

Another feature of the closing ceremony was the celebration of the homosexual lifestyle, demonstrated by the resurrection on the big screen of Freddie Mercury to lead the crowd in inane chants. There was also a performance by the leather-clad George Michael, sporting a skull on his belt buckle, symbolic of the culture of death of which he is a symbol. There was much more that was much worse but I don't have the stomach to continue with the litany of smut.  

As an Englishman, I might have felt ashamed of such a spectacle. Instead I just felt as if my body had been covered with slime. I also felt a great sense of gratitude that I had shaken the smut and dirt from my sandals and had left the sordid culture of which I was once a part. Deo gratias!  

As for the land of my birth, I am reminded of the words of C. S. Lewis who would have been as appalled by last night's spectacle as was I. In The Great Divorce, he wrote that in the end there are only two possibilities for each of us. We can either say to God, "The Will Be Done", or else God will ultimately say to us, "Thy will be done". Modern Britain has what it deserves; it has what it wants. The slow and tortuous decay of its barely living corpse will continue until it dies of self-abuse. Its passing will be a blessing...

Sounds like some street fair in San Francisco. Blech. Both cultures are dying. Literally, because they are both reproducing well below replacement rate. And more importantly, they are dead or dying spiritually. If you worship yourself, you are traveling like a person lost in a dark wood, who thinks he's going straight when in fact he's going in a circle. You are, as Augustine put it, incurvatus in se. Curved in on yourself. You are going nowhere.

The Remnant will inherit the future. It's like when Elijah wandered off into the desert, because all the good guys had been killed. Which left him kinda disheartened. God told him to buck up and get back to business, because Elijah didn't know it, but there were seven thousand men in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:24 PM | Comments (10)

August 12, 2012

Question for my readers, concerning Mormonism...

I've several times picked up hints that what is actually going on in the heads of ordinary rank-and-file members of the LDS Church is more like fuzzy generic American Protestantism, with the kooky heresies of Joseph Smith kind of slid over and mostly ignored.

Does anyone know anything about this? It's not really important to me, just a matter of curiosity that has been re-stimulated by the rise of Mitt Romney.

My experience of being first an evangelical, then an Episcopalian, now a Catholic, has given me a pretty clear idea that most Christians don't think at all about Truth. They just drift along with the common opinion. Which is a bad thing, in most ways. But, possibly in this case, is a good thing. A kind of unconscious rejection of alien elements. A sort of "reversion to the mean...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:50 PM | Comments (2)

Dead on...

"But America is more than just a place...it's an idea. It's the only country founded on an idea. Our rights come from nature and God, not government. We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. This idea is founded on the principles of liberty, freedom, free enterprise, self-determination and government by consent of the governed. This idea is under assault."
-- Paul Ryan

"But America is more than just a place...it's an idea." Hmm. That sounds familiar.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:41 AM

August 8, 2012

A Hericlitean world, where all is in flux...

A friend sent this... The Nation Is Losing Its Toolbox - Slashdot:

Hugh Pickens writes
"Louis Uchitelle writes that in Aisle 34 of Home Depot is precut vinyl flooring, the glue already in place. In Aisle 26 are prefab windows, and if you don't want to be your own handyman, head to Aisle 23 or Aisle 35, where a help desk will arrange for an installer, as mastering tools and working with one's hands recede as American cultural values. 'At a time when the American factory seems to be a shrinking presence, and when good manufacturing jobs have vanished, perhaps never to return, there is something deeply troubling about this dilution of American craftsmanship,' writes Uchitelle.

'Craftsmanship is, if not a birthright, then a vital ingredient of the American self-image as a can-do, inventive, we-can-make-anything people.' Mass layoffs and plant closings have drawn plenty of headlines and public debate over the years, and they still occasionally do. But the damage to skill and craftsmanship -- what's needed to build a complex airliner or a tractor, or for a worker to move up from assembler to machinist to supervisor -- has gone largely unnoticed. 'In an earlier generation, we lost our connection to the land, and now we are losing our connection to the machinery we depend on,' says Michael Hout. 'People who work with their hands are doing things today that we call service jobs, in restaurants and laundries, or in medical technology and the like.' The damage to American craftsmanship seems to parallel the precipitous slide in manufacturing employment. And manufacturing's shrinking presence helps explain the decline in craftsmanship, if only because many of the nation's assembly line workers were skilled in craft work. 'Young people grow up without developing the skills to fix things around the house,' says Richard T. Curtin. 'They know about computers, of course, but they don't know how to build them.'"...

Well, I agree with these things. And I'm a privileged person, because I have a both connection with the land, having grown up in a horticultural family. And with machines and tools--I work with them every day. I'm in a sense far "richer" that the average American, just in being able to prune our trees with confidence, and build my own furniture. (Alas, time seems to shrink and shrink, and finding enough time to do those things is a grief.)

But what strikes me about this piece is how unreflective it is. It assumes that there is this solid stable mountain called "America," any pebbles falling from which must be noted with alarm. It doesn't seem to cross the writer's mind that everything in America could be changing, including the very words and concepts the author is thinking with. That we are now in a Hericlitean world where all is change... that the mountain is made of Jello... this doesn't seem to be on the radar.

The "Information Age" happened because of a change in how people thought. (I write about America, because that is what I have a feel for. But the same changes happened across the developed world.) It started before most people had even touched digital technology. It emerged in the 60's, approximately, though the tectonic plates had been moving below the surface throughout the 20th century. And it was a matter of people waking up one day with a new outlook. Suddenly the Industrial Age focus on stability seemed like a childish dream. They hardly knew that their own thoughts had morphed, because the old ideas suddenly seemed wispy, and the new ones were compellingly obvious!

This is, I think, "my question." My issue, my obsession. How do we deal with change, when everything is changing? Including the minds that might want to discuss the question of change? Alas, no one is interested. But I continue to mention this in a desultory way, because it would not be surprising if our current state of denial breaks down. And then perhaps people will start Googling "Information Age" and "change" and perhaps discover my musings...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:17 AM

August 4, 2012

Appeasers...

Leslie Loftis, We Should Have Kept Our Heads Down Rather Than Support Chick-fil-A:

...Over the past day, I've seen more than a few discussions amongst Christians that we should not have done the Chick-fil-A event on Wednesday. After they ignore, reject, or exclude the free speech element of the event -- which I will copy in order to counter their arguments -- they have two lines of reasoning. First, this is Dan Cathy's personal problem and therefore not "a hill to die on." Second, the left feels like we hate them, and we are wrong to do anything that makes them feel that way. Whether we actually hate them is not the salient point. Both seem to think along the lines of one commenter, that this is a time to "keep our heads down" and practice our faith quietly.

Keep our heads down. I don't recall such instructions anywhere in the Bible. I recall that we are to loudly proclaim our faith, that we are to offer succor to fellow Christians persecuted for our faith, and that we are to bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. As if my resolve to never keep my head down needed a boost, I received the head down comment in my inbox as I walked out of my second viewing of Dark Knight Rises, which is not exactly a modern morality tale about the "virtue" of keeping one's head down.

A prominent Christian has been ridiculed and his company banned from certain public venues because of his Christian values. He needs our support, and we are called to give it. The left may feel hatred from our actions, but whether we actually hate is the paramount question. We are judged both by God and by criminal courts of law on our actual intent, not by someone's perception of our intent.

Furthermore, is this not all backward?   They ridicule us, threaten us, heckle us. On Wednesday, they sent us many wishes that we would choke and die on our chicken sandwiches. What about the hate that we feel from those actions? Are we supposed to keep our heads down in the face of actual hatred because others feel hatred when we defend ourselves? What actions would society allow of Christians under these circumstances?...

Leftists hate Christians because they are on the other side. The idea that they can ever be "appeased" is beyond stupid. And the idea that they "care" about gays is equally stupid. If queer people voted Republican, leftists would happily toss them off high buildings.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:38 PM

August 3, 2012

Anders Borg...

Forbes, With Most Of Europe Still On Its Back, Sweden Tries Policies That Actually Work :

The headlines from across the pond read "Europe Rejects Austerity" as the French and Greeks elected socialists and even some neo-national socialists to office. These new officials have promised tax rates as high as 75 percent on millionaires, and have vowed to continue government spending unabashed in the wake of staggering levels of debt and anemic economic growth and persistent double- digit unemployment. However, there is one finance minister in one European nation that is bucking the trend, and, instead of ridicule and failure, he's been named Europe's best finance minister by the Financial Times. He's not from Britain or Germany and certainly isn't Greek. He isn't some old fat cat in a suit either. In fact he's famous for rocking a pretty awesome ponytail and gold earring. His name is Anders Borg and he's Swedish.

That's right, the European nation famously stereotyped for having aggressive taxation to fund an omnipresent state has actually decided that in response to the Eurozone crisis and the continued effects of the global economic downturn, or "Great Recession", that it's time to ease up on taxes and reduce the size of government. While Sweden is not technically in the Eurozone, as it does not use the Euro as currency, it has been drawn into the financial mess of the Eurozone by sheer proximity. Unemployment in 2011 was north of 7.5 percent and GDP growth was anemic at .4 percent projected for 2012.

While the rest of Europe and the United States have gone on massive spending sprees fueled by government borrowing and tax hikes, Sweden took a different approach. In the Spring 2012 Economic and Budget Policy Guidelines, the Swedish Government and its Finance Minister, Anders Borg, have laid out a plan that is focused on lowering taxes. Their rationale? "When indviduals and families get to keep more their income, their independence and their opportunities to shape their own lives also increase."...

Gee, do ya think?

Posted by John Weidner at 7:03 PM