Thursday, March 05, 2015

Oh, Federal Visionists...

I saw a Facebook thread where Peter Green pointed out that a bunch of pseudo-papists, *cough, cough* I mean Federal Vision advocates, have had 3 conferences opposing Roman Catholicism. Dude.

Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

If I'm being totally honest, I like yanking Peter's chain about this. There is nothing more absurd than watching Leithart and Jordan badmouth the whole Reformation, but still try to ignore the obvious implications of that.

It might be sporting fun to snarkily ask the confessionalists how their ecclesial deism is not a game of theological Where's Waldo, but at least we know they don't wanna be Catholic. Reading the Federal Visionists, you get the feeling that maybe it was all a big misunderstanding, at least until you suggest that it might impose a presumption of return. You might as well suggest putting puppies in blenders.

Captain Jack was right, I think: somebody had a few too many beers. I was a Federal Visionist, and now, I'm Catholic. C'mon, boys, if you stop resisting, I promise, I won't gloat.

The Mainstreaming Of Lechery

You know, I don't read Sports Illustrated. I love sports, you know. These days, though, we all know what makes it famous: the swimsuit issue. And if we're entirely honest, we're not as bothered by all the sensuality as we ought to be. It's a little harmless fun, we think. Or who's against beautiful women, right?

Well, you know, actually, I resent the implication that men need to objectify women to be manly. The other thing that really gets me is that other supposed advocates for women think it is "empowering" to gratify the lusts of others. When the atheist Sam Harris thinks we've gone too far, we probably have.

There is a family-owned "family friendly" grocery store in my area called Schnuck's selling this stuff, and displaying it prominently. Head on over to and sign the petition, and tell them to knock it off. Things weren't better in the old days, but at least we had the shame/discretion to hide it away from our kids.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Classical Liberalism Is Not Christian, Or Sustainable

It presupposes that justice is reckoned only to the individual, and that his 'liberty'--absolute autonomy--is the measure of justice. In days past, the encroachment of various collectivisms allowed us not to face this important truth. What we call "conservatives" here in the US made common cause with libertarians, and uneasy cooperation continues to this day. But undue coercion is not the only threat to human flourishing. Indeed, man's own selfishness and vice can be as great a tyranny as any state.

The question that matters is, "Does the state exist solely to defend private property, and to protect individuals from unjust aggression? Is it in that sense, a necessary evil?" I have to answer that with a "no." The state exists to promote the common good, both natural and supernatural. What is the common good? The common good is the set of conditions necessary for every person to reach the end for which they have been made. It doesn't diminish when it is participated in, because it's not material, as such. Education is a common good, and is part of that overall good. Safety is a common good. Churches are a common good. Families, and strong ones, are common good. We may well argue until we are blue about how to provide these things, but it seems to me that the biggest problem with the non-Left is that it denies that the common good exists. What do I see as the biggest problem with the Left? Its ends are not good. It is hostile to the individual as such, and the state--as the purported instrument of everyone's good--exists only to propagate itself.

But we cannot continue to believe that fantastic wealth and crushing poverty existing in the same nation comports with justice. Justice is the responsibility of all of us, and frankly, primarily of the state, as our instrument. It neither denies an individual's duty to justice, nor a person's right to the fruit of his labor. Yet we cannot remove the duty of justice, from ourselves, or from the state, and call what we ought to do "mercy." Mercy is the amelioration of the consequences of culpable actions; by its very nature, it is undeserved. Justice is imposed as an obligation by the dignity of the human person, and by the end for which he exists. That's why life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable; they are not conferred by any man or group of people, and they cannot be taken away arbitrarily, or even curtailed, without grave reason.

  America has had a peculiar sickness in recent decades; we have come to believe that religion is exclusively private, and that anyone who appeals to it threatens to impose it upon the unwilling. Moreover, some doubt that anything of the kind exists. Such people are free to believe and do as they wish, within the limits of justice and reason. But the genius of America is not only that it is governed by its people, and that the government is limited by the rights of those people, but that the consent of the governed is bound by an even greater Law. The religious affiliation (or lack thereof) of those who founded America is not material to this unavoidable fact: The justice of a thing, whether an action or a law, is not established by consent alone. People who are not moral are not free.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Tyranny, Elucidated

Ahem. It should be noted that the Natural Law gives no regard to majority opinion. At best, we can say that the people confirmed the truth; they cannot make it.

Follow-Up To Yesterday

In an effort to avoid confusion, I need to explain a thing. What I intended to say regarding the married state or the unmarried state is that I cannot, and will not--by God's grace--choose a thing because of a lack that I perceive will be filled, either by marriage, or something else. I have done too much from selfish desire. It probably isn't true that I don't prefer one, but chastity is a virtue. You either have it or you don't, in a certain sense, but it's good to desire to possess it. After all the fighting I have done, I say with measured but resolute confidence that I will find joy in any case.

I sat there waiting for my niece to be born, and then she was. Beautiful and perfect, more than able to bring the rest of us to puddles. Here's a truth: Hugh Hefner doesn't know anything about moments like this. You can't use another person, and end up with moments like this. Or if you do, consider it a grace, that now blessedly conspires to shake you from your lust toward something greater.

This is why we don't need the Catholic Church to tell us that contraception is wrong. We should see it. Nothing says romance quite like, "I want you, but only for my pleasure."

We can do better. Much better.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

I Have A Secret

It took me every day of these last 35 years to learn it. I realized it in 2 different ways. The first way was realizing there was something I ought to do, but didn't want to do it. I'm the sort of person who is more likely to do something for others than for myself.

You evangelicals say weird things sometimes. Here was the weird thing I read: "I'm staying pure until marriage." Um, what? "I'm for chastity, until the moment when I convince some woman to live with me and have sex with me." No. This is why we can't have nice things.

Here's my secret: As far as I know, I don't have a preference anymore. Married or unmarried. The reason is that the temptation of unchastity is exactly the same. I know what it is. I can see it. It has nothing to do with sexual desire, as such. I had heard married people say that getting married doesn't help them with the temptation to lust, but I did not believe them. I'm sorry, but I didn't.

The real question is, "Do you want a moment's relief from the existential dread, doubt, boredom, and general dissatisfaction?" It's the devil's question, and he knows the answer is yes.

The challenge is to recognize that question for what it is, and turn instead to God to be filled. If I were married, that's too big a burden for any wife to carry. I give that to the Lord, and to Mary (and the other saints). We pray that the evil one will not use our desires against us.