Saturday, November 9, 2019

Clowns and Idolaters: Last Month



Saturday afternoon, Oct. 26, 2019, the final day of the "Amazon Synod". The Pachamama idol surrounded by candles in the middle of Traspontina Church near the Vatican.

10/14

Fall finally arrives in Taipei. I wake up as if after a long fever.

10/15

Face it. Clowns have been getting a bad rap for a while. But with two installments of IT on the racks, and now Joker, it's pretty much game over for the clown as a dopey fellow who's fun to have at your kid's birthday party.

Are you listening, McDonald's?

10/16

On the subway, a fashionable young woman standing next to me. I didn’t notice that five or six strands of her long black hair were caught in the strap of my shoulder bag, and as I’d stepped a few inches away from her, I was pulling her hair with the strap. But here’s the thing: She is mesmerized by her cell phone, and feeling her hair pulled, doesn’t even look to see who, or why, but merely leans her head toward the pull, eyes still glued on the tiny screen.

I stood a moment taking it in. She only turned to look when I began to untangle her hair from my bag. It was my stop.

10/26

I am not good enough to be a Catholic, and neither is the pope. The way we each lack the necessary goodness differs. My lack is the usual badness—sloth combined with selfishness; an undeveloped prayer life; fits of anger, etc. I do however believe Catholic teaching is true. As for this pope, it gets harder and harder to believe he believes.

10/27

"It was in that year that I finally began writing the number 8 from the top down. But I persisted in writing 2, 3, and 5 from the bottom up."

10/28

St. Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians: “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again?” (4:28)

* * *

My novel A Taipei Mutt is now in second edition. More bark, more bite.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

NBA to Change Name to CCBAA


LeBron "the Educated" James

In an effort to encourage its most important fan base, the National Basketball Association (NBA) will change its name to the CCBAA, effective beginning 2020. The league’s board of directors voted on the name change in a closed meeting Tuesday.

Announcement of the new name, which stands for “Communist Chinese Basketball Association in America,” was given a thumbs up by NBA star player LeBron James, who said the name would show the American league's appreciation for the enormous wads of money Chinese fans spend on overpriced shoes and jerseys and other dumb shit, like watching LeBron play.

“I think it’s a good change,” LeBron said. “I mean, if you is educated, you knows that nationalism is bad. And our old name had national in it. So that’s nationalism. The new name is neutral. Nobody gets hurt.”

Golden State Warriors Coach and Political Philosopher Steve Kerr also came out in favor of the new name.

“In China there are no guns, which are a human rights violation,” Kerr said. “There’s also no Constitution or freedom of assembly, which is good. These things only cause unrest in the streets and interrupt important games or damage shops that sell NBA products. The new name CCBAA will better represent our values.”

An online survey of American NBA fans found that most didn’t mind the name change, while 11% could find China on a map.

Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Amazon Synod, 635 BC



The word of the Lord spoken through the prophet Jeremiah to apostate Israel and Judah:

Have you not brought this upon yourself
     by forsaking the Lord your God,
     while he led you in the way?
What then do you gain by going to Egypt,
     to drink the waters of the Nile?
Or what do you gain by going to Assyria,
     to drink the waters of the Euphrates?
Your wickedness will punish you,
     and your apostasies will convict you.
Know and see that it is evil and bitter
     for you to forsake the Lord your God;
     the fear of me is not in you,
     says the Lord of Hosts.



As a thief is shamed when caught,
     so the house of Israel shall be shamed—
they, their kings, their officials,
     their priests, and their prophets,
     who say to a tree, “You are my father”,
     and to a stone, “You gave me birth.”
For they have turned their back to me,
     and not their faces.



How lightly you gad about,
     changing your ways!
You shall be put to shame by Egypt,
     as you were put to shame by Assyria.
From there also you will come away
     with your hands and your head;
for the Lord has rejected those
     in whom you trust,
     and you will not prosper through them.

—Jeremiah 2:17-19; 26-27; 36-37 (7th c. BC)

Just change the rivers: Nile and Euphrates to Amazon. The “tree” and the “stone” are the same; the "gadding about" and the paganism, the same. It was and is apostasy.

The fear of the Lord is not in them. It has not been for some time.

E.M.

Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Using Greta: Aussie Feminist Version



Guess this must be LIBERAL MEDIA FAIL #984,261. From an Australian site, regarding Greta Thunberg:

She doesn’t dress to attract men. She doesn’t charm or flirt or giggle or pout. She has a death stare. She is angry. She is here to say something, whether people want to hear it or not.

She’s challenging the power of middle-aged white men, and it upsets and threatens them. They’re used to giving their opinions and being listened to and being respected. They don’t quite understand where she’s appeared from and why she’s talking like she’s an equal, and they don’t like it.

Uh-huh. Where to start?

First, notice how this Australian journalist has projected her own insecurities and lame feminist persecution complex onto this 16-year-old girl. It’s pathetic. It’s laughable. I’d blush for her if I had any blushes left for these people. I don’t.

Second, as a middle-aged white man, allow me to point out a few things:

1) “She doesn’t dress to attract men. She doesn’t charm or flirt…”

I don’t care and didn’t notice how this girl Greta dresses. Quite differently from left-liberals, I don’t really like to see sexualized, flirty teens. For me, hypersexed kids are symptomatic of a failing civilization. Left-liberals like this Aussie writer and her friends are “sex positive”, which means they want to teach 3rd-graders how to use condoms and sex toys. Not me.

2) “middle-aged white men … it upsets and threatens them.”

Huh? Rather than feeling threatened by this girl, I feel SORRY for her. If she is smart, and she may well be, when she grows up she'll likely resent how her attention-starved parents and the media have used her. Until then, I feel it is Greta, and the millions of poor kids fed the climate hysteria she’s been fed, that are under psychological threat.

3) “[middle-aged white men are] used to giving their opinions and being listened to and being respected.”

I don’t “give opinions”. Instead I make arguments. I leave “giving opinions” to liberal Aussie writers and people like the ladies who appear on The View--i.e. people who assume that when they open their mouth worthwhile ideas come out SIMPLY BECAUSE THEIR MOUTH IS MOVING.

4) “They don’t quite understand where she’s appeared from…”

Come again? We know exactly where Greta has appeared from and why a microphone has been propped in front of her. We know and we are not mystified and we are not especially impressed.

5)—AND THIS ONE IS KEY— “They don’t understand … why she’s talking like she’s an equal.”

Sorry, but no 16-year-old can talk as an equal to educated adults. That this Aussie opinionator believe Greta is somehow an intellectual equal to adults only proves she herself has never grown up. If my own 16-year-old self were to appear from the past and begin lecturing me, now 53, I would rightly tell my 16-year-old self to take a hike. I’d say: “Listen. If you study hard, when you’re 22 you MIGHT have some interesting ideas. But even those ideas, by age 35 you’ll have dropped most of them. Unless you’re a nitwit. As for now, keep studying. You’re in no position to lecture your elders. There’s just far too much you don’t yet understand. Oh, and take out the garbage.”

I’d say this same thing to a boy or girl, black or white or Latino or Asian.

When is this plague of liberal blather going to end? What kind of moron publishes dreck like the above-quoted editorial?

Her name is Helen Vnuk. She’s a contributor on “News and Parenting”, of all things, for the Australian journal MamaMia. For shame.

E.M.

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Catholics’ Tense Time of Waiting: Paganism, Rainbow Kool-Aid, and a Pope on the Verge of Schism



I became a Catholic as an adult, after many years of reflection and spiritual struggle. I did so for one reason: I was convinced Catholicism was true. I emphatically did not become a Catholic to be lectured by LGBT activists, open-borders utopians, or rainforest shamans.

But such lecturing is now nonstop. Not in my parish per se, not yet at least, but from the Top, as it were. Like many other Catholics, I am aghast at what is being done by our current pope and the gaggle of homosexual proteges he continues to promote to his side.

I used to pray for the pope. Sometimes I still do. Now, however, I usually pray that the pope. That he be somehow ousted. That he come to his senses, remove the cardinals he has elevated, and step down in apology. That he announce his conversion to Tibetan Buddhism, and enter one of Beijing’s approved schools of Buddhist thought.

This is un-Christian of me, many will say, but I now perceive this pope as a serious threat to the Church I joined. If Rome were invaded by a Muslim army and an imam were installed in the Papal apartments, i.e. if the Vatican were seized by some clear enemy, at least we could unite as one against the aggressor. As things stand, we watch in horror as the man in the Vatican subtly, slyly pulls one brick at a time from the doctrinal edifice of our faith.

I live as a western expat in Asia, and attend Mass at a Jesuit parish. Were there a more traditionalist parish available, I would attend there. I can no longer feel any solidarity for the Jesuits as an order.

Oh yes, I knew the Jesuits were slippery before I began attending where I do. And I know also that there are good and holy Jesuits. I have doubtless met some through my own parish. But the sad truth is that the world’s three most prominent Jesuits at present—Pope Francis, Fr. James Martin, and Jesuit Superior General Sosa—are systematically undermining Catholic teaching and thus harming the Church. And yes, systematically is the correct word.

I am tempted to leave my parish, but hesitate. If I remain, should I begin openly stating my thoughts on our pope and his lavender hangers-on? Does charity to others in my parish allow that? What does it mean to attend a parish and begin arguing openly with others, including perhaps the parish priest?

Yes, in my parish there are some who now lean toward papolatry. One man in particular, a nice enough guy, who is civilly “married” to his male partner in a half-closeted way, is very active in the parish and clearly in a rapture of admiration for our pope. I strongly suspect he didn’t lean toward papolatry when Benedict was pope. But now any prelate who criticizes Francis is “attacking our Church”.

Should I argue with such people in their newfound enthusiasm? The results would be predictable. They have bishops on their side, after all, like the aptly named Cardinal Marx.

I have loyalty to and love for the Petrine Office. But I am a dubia Catholic. Which is to say, I have serious doubts about a pope that would arrogantly refuse to answer clear questions on doctrine posed to him by cardinals.

This man who speaks constantly of “openness” and “dialogue” but refuses to reply to his own cardinals. And then there’s the famous “I will not say a single word about this!”

It is shameful hypocrisy. It is ridiculous.

I remain Catholic, certainly, but I don’t know how long the Vatican will remain so. Is it Catholic now? The point is widely argued, I know. Is the Vatican Catholic, or is it rather an NGO in religious garb?

The so-called "Amazon" Synod has again put this question front and center. The working document for this latest synod is a joke. Having forced myself to read it through, I can only ask: "Is Jean-Jacques Rousseau now one of the Church Fathers? The text is so shabbily written, so unselfconsciously anti-Christian, that I honestly think the men who wrote it don’t even know the Romantic tradition they’re writing in. They are that worst type of Modernist: they aren’t even aware how they are modern.

But perhaps it’s no surprise Rousseau becoming a crypto-Church Father. The Germans have already made Hegel one. Who’s next? Judith Butler?

There are many of us who recognize the Novus Ordo as a decline but still consider it valid. I consider it valid, regardless of certain aspects of its origins. There are many of us who hoped the excessive nonsense of the immediate post-Vatican II era would be overcome, that the Church would return to being fundamentally the Bride of Christ and not become the Bride of the World or the Bride of the UN.

Our hope is being assaulted monthly under this pope. Is he a heretic? I am not qualified to judge. Must he be rejected outright, denied? And then what?

I believe this pope is most revealed not in the things he has spoken or taught, but in the character of men he has promoted.

And now he begins talking of the “threat” of schism. It is clear why. He knows that he himself is moving into doctrinal schism from the Magisterium, and he wants to preemptively own the word, to be able to say: “See? I told you.”

The problem? He was reported years ago to have spoken about how he might go down in history as having provoked schism in the Church. What does that tell you?

He recently informs the faithful that he is “not afraid of schism”. Indeed. Why fear something you’ve been hatching in your noggin for years?

The arrogance is astounding. But this is a man who considered he had the right to change a line of the Lord’s Prayer itself. His “translation” was not a translation at all, but a bald-faced rewording in accordance with what he considered theologically correct. Imagine where such a principle would lead scriptural translation if it became a precedent.

The coming months will reveal much. We are perhaps on the edge of an age when the pope himself is in schism from the Church. Which should be theoretically impossible, yes. The only way I myself can understand it is as God’s abandonment of his Bride, to punish her for her many apostasies.

But this abandonment, however painful, will be temporary. There is a remnant, as there was in the similar abandonments of wayward Israel and Judah. The books of Scripture, sadly ignored by many Catholics, the books of Kings and Chronicles and the Prophets--these offer insight into where we are as God's people. We remain patient, and pray.

Kyrie eleison.

Friday, September 13, 2019

David French’s Pyrrhic Victory?



It’s now common wisdom that David French won his September 5th debate with Sohrab Ahmari. Though more #TeamSohrab myself, I think it’s true French came out the better. The decisive factors in this outcome were more than merely intellectual however. Ahmari’s microphone kept shorting out, repeatedly interrupting his train of thought. Why this was not fixed the first time it happened is anyone’s guess. Ahmari looked tired (his wife had given birth to their second child literally the day before), whereas French, on his side, looked rested, showered, caffeinated … and angry. Probably Ahmari should have requested a reschedule for a month later. But was French’s debate win really so decisive?

Both men made powerful arguments, but in large part kept talking past each other. It’s not perhaps that one was usually wrong and the other right, but that their stresses are so differently placed. Many of us, I’m sure, can get behind a vision of conservatism going forward that combines the two approaches. Still, it’s clear Ahmari is the one bringing something new and necessary to our sense of where we’re at. His call-out against “David-Frenchism” that appeared in First Things and set the whole process moving was long overdue, regardless of any personal ill-will it stirred, and notwithstanding the fact that both men are Christians facing the same enemy.

Far from crestfallen, Ahmari has since come out with a hard-hitting piece revisiting some of his wider concerns. He channels arguments compellingly made by Patrick Deneen in his brilliant Why Liberalism Failed. Among these, especially, the argument that liberalism, choosing “value neutral” individual autonomy as the highest good, has also necessitated an increase in state intervention to keep the newly “autonomous” barbarian hordes in some semblance of order:

Overthrowing these limits [those recognized in previous Western social orders] prevents us from making lifelong commitments and plunges us into sterile decadence. Our consequent dysfunction frequently necessitates restrictions more onerous than any imposed by nature or tradition. The vast administrative state arises in order to regulate societies that have been deregulated by an individualistic liberalism.

Our combination of dysfunction and growing Panoptical state overreach is obvious, no? But that state overreach, in our liberal West, is also increasingly value-laden, and geared toward punishing those who offend left-liberal SJW hypersensitivities. I do think one of Ahmari’s tacit points all along, deafness to which has led many to misread him, is that “value-neutral liberalism” has proved to be a pipe dream. What we’ve ended up with instead, pragmatically speaking, is something like: Their values are “neutral”, ours are just “bigotry”.

And worse: Given that “bigotry” is “harmful”, our values will ultimately need to be censored.

Isn’t it clear that this is the endgame envisioned by all the Democratic presidential candidates now on offer? The First Amendment protections David French has done so much to buttress are crucial, yes, but will they really prove decisive when the electorate swings leftward again? Isn’t a more aggressive strategy necessary to keep our tired troops united in the face of such a united aggressor? And doesn’t, per Ahmari, populism offer much as part of this strategy?

To return to Drag Queen Story Hour, the Rainbow-inspired atrocity that set off the Ahmari-French conflict, one thing that kept striking me watching the debate was the uncanny recognition that French (and thus potentially millions of smart conservative liberals) didn’t even think it possible or wise for sane Americans to come together to protect the sexual integrity of children. Children!

As an American in my fifties, who clearly remembers the ’80s and ‘90s with their overriding concern to keep kids separated from sexual deviants, this new caving to the “autonomy” and “rights” of perversion is downright eerie. It’s an entirely new ground that’s appeared, a vast island of muck arisen out of nowhere just yesterday. And David French already sees it as unassailable territory, because of what, “value neutrality”?

This is an instance where French’s blindness to the big cultural picture is deeply troubling. In Britain and the US, the number of trans-identifying kids, slated for hormone suppression and worse, has risen roughly 4,000% in the past ten years. Yes: 40x! But Drag Queen Story Hour does not represent a real crisis?

At the same time, where the liberal state apparently cannot allow conservatives to intervene in DQSH because of “value neutrality”, it has no problem seeing my career ruined if I commit the “offense” of typing here or there on social media that “Same-sex marriage is not marriage.” And yes, although my loss of career at present would only be the woke market, rather than the state, talking, all our mainstream Democrats are now on board with their “Equality Act” to make sure the state follows my loss of career with fines or jail time.

Given all this, the poison fruit of a mere decade during which the left did not even monopolize power, what can be expected if they do gain any lengthy stretch of power? And French can scoff or laugh at Ahmari’s mention of potential “Colosseums” in the near future? (French is scoffing along with mainstream liberals, as one can see in this Yahoo fluff piece. Me I think Rod Dreher’s “Law of Merited Impossibility” is more apt: “It will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it.”)

While on stage, French also indicated that in his view pornography is not protected under the First Amendment. It did seem a strange disconnect from his arguments on value-neutral liberalism and his legal indifference to things like DQSH. Is pornography unprotected by the First Amendment because its obscenity is an assault on the sexual integrity of the viewer? If so, is that not also a viable argument vis-a-vis DQSH—that sexual integrity, in this case of children, is being assaulted? Yes, conservatives’ ideas of sexual integrity will not be accepted by the left, and as for the left’s ideas—they are constantly shifting and hopelessly self-contradictory. Still, if it’s true that sexual integrity has any relevance to what is or is not afforded First Amendment protection, French has some explaining to do.

At one point in the debate Ahmari quoted something French had written in the years before Obergefell, to the effect that “if the gay couple down the street gets married, how would that affect me?” French quickly responded that his thinking had since changed, implying that quoting him from that era was irrelevant. But I’d say it was French’s response here that is irrelevant. Ahmari’s point was clearly that French’s brand of liberalism, before Obergefell, had set him up to minimize the conflicts SSM would bring. Why then should conservatives trust French to read the writing on the wall now in 2019?

As a Christian concerned with religious liberty, I have enormous respect and gratitude for French. But I think he is misreading the larger cultural issues, and that his Never-Trumpism is part and parcel of a perhaps too self-congratulatory optimism about the status quo. Though I’m not a pessimist by nature, I cannot accept French’s rosy depiction of where America’s Christians now stand in relation to the liberal state. Which is why I predict Ahmari’s voice will only prove more prescient as time passes. Thus my title here.

(For a more trenchant argument than mine as to why French’s debate victory is ultimately Pyrrhic, Michael Warren Davis’ piece in Crisis is a MUST READ. In brief: It’s the Overton window, stupid.)

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Vulnerable Ones



Salute to the vulnerable ones—
for remaining tender in this insensitive world,
for your hesitancy in the midst of the world's dead certainty,
for your ability to feel others as if they were you, and to take on each and every of their pains,

for being afraid of the world with its blind and bottomless conviction,

for your need to brush even the invisible dirt off your hands—

salute.

Salute to the vulnerable ones—
for your dread of the absurdity of existence,
for keeping subtly quiet about what you see in others,
for your clumsiness in the ordinary matters and your ability to commune with the extraordinary;
for your transcendental realism and your utter lack of practicality,
for being ill-adjusted to how things are, and being lucid about how they ought to be,
and for all that is endless—unknown—unspoken,
hidden in you.

Salute to the vulnerable ones—
for your creativity and ecstasy,
for your hungry friendships, love,
and for your fear that love might die even before you do.

Salute to the vulnerable ones—
for your talents, never in use,
(lack of appreciation for your greatness will not help in recognising the greatness of those who come next)
salute—because, instead of taking your example, they want you to adjust,
salute—because, instead of healing the world, it is you who get treated,
salute—for all your divine abilities getting ravaged by lower animal force,
salute—for your incredible uniqueness and for the solitariness of your ways.
Salute to the vulnerable ones.

by Kazimierz Dabrowski

Trans. from the Polish by Alexandra Gruszczynska, 5 August 2018

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