Thursday, December 28, 2006

Officially Secular Holland's Surprise

Just when you thought you knew what was going on in Holland, seemingly a country on the way to a total rejection of faith or its primary values, a story slips through to illuminate your ignorance:

But as the authors of a recently published study called De Toekomst van God (The Future of God) point out, organized prayer in the workplace is just one among several pieces of evidence suggesting that Holland is on the threshold of a new era--one we might call the age of "post-secularization."...Holland's Post-Secular Future, Joshua Livestro, The Weekly Standard, 1/1/2007 issue

Frederick Turner, in Natural Religion (Transaction Publishers, 2006), presents arguments and evidence to suggest that such trends are unlikely to be some new invented structure, some fashion, but that they are part of our evolutionary heritage. The urge to faith, Turner argues, is as natural for us as the will to speak the language of the group we are born into. And he presents compelling evidence that in societies where faith has been rejected as a part of life that birth rates drop so low that such societies, over time, are doomed.

In a recent newspaper interview, a head teacher at a Catholic secondary school in Rotterdam observed, "For years, pupils were embarrassed about attending Mass. Now, they volunteer to read poems or prayers, and the auditorium is packed."...Holland's Post-Secular Future, continued....

One has to be careful about received opinion, such as that of MSM that religion in America is either an organizing method for reactionaries or is otherwise dead. That such a revival would be led by the young is no surprise. Who looks harder for meaning to a life they are just entering into than the young? If you can remember back a year or two, recall the steadily consistent images from the Pope's outdoor masses. The vast proportion of those attending were young adults and children. And many young adults are involved in the creation of wholly new kinds of churches.

The doyen of the Dutch youth churches movement is Henk Jan Kamsteeg. He is a member of the pastoral the Heartbeat youth church, founded three years ago in the medieval market town of Amersfoort...The church, which has a congregation of around 1,200, meets once a month in a Christian cultural center in one of the town's modern suburbs. Kamsteeg witnessed firsthand a phenomenon that, according to the old secularization thesis, was virtually unheard of: large numbers of young people deciding of their own free will to attend church services--and coming back for more. When he announced the first service three years ago, he hired a hall that seated a maximum of 500 people. On the night, 850 turned up--though nothing special had been done to advertise the event. "I've long since ceased to be amazed about the amount of interest in youth churches," says Kamsteeg. "Twelve-hundred people showing up, two services a night, you almost take it for granted. But deep down I still know how remarkable it really is."..."Holland's Post-Secular Future," continued....

Some of the organizing methods are startlingly similar to the early days of Christianity. It is unlikely that John Paul II would have objected. As Malachi Martin reported in several books, including his remarkable roman a clef titled Vatican (1991), Karel Wojtyla felt that the version of the Roman Catholic Church founded by the unification of secular power and sacred values under Sylvester and the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century was disintegrating. He assumed, Martin said again again, that something would emerge, a new Church without the tragic design of becoming a secular power. Papa Wojtyla did almost nothing to straighten out the mess in the Vatican hierarchy. Instead, he went out and preached to the young, hoping they would come to faith, if not to Rome.

Youth churches seem to meet anywhere but in traditional church buildings...The idea is that something that less resembles a traditional church might prove more welcoming to potential new believers...According to Kamsteeg, if Christianity in Holland is to have a future, it has to develop a new way of doing things, possibly also in new locations: "Young people are genuinely interested in Christ. They're just not into two-hour sermons, dreary music, and drafty old buildings." The ultimate consequence of this approach is yet another new phenomenon: that of the house churches...In his living room in the old university town of Leiden, Kees Westhuis, 41, explains the essence of the house church idea: "We don't want to go to church, we want to be a church."...The answer to Westhuis's concerns came to him in the form of a book that has inspired the founding of most house churches in the Netherlands: German author Wolfgang Simson's Houses that Change the World (first published as Häuser, die Welt verändern in 1999). The most appealing aspect of the house church, according to Westhuis, is its simplicity. At its core, the house church is based on the practice of the earliest Christian communities of the first century: small groups of people meeting in each other's houses, sharing a meal and worshipping God. Westhuis: "The idea is that you don't just share a meal once a week, you actually share your lives. It's a radical departure from modern life, which leaves most people feeling increasingly lonely."..."Holland's Non-Secular Future," continued....

Paul of Tarsus would have recognized this; one can imagine him walking house church to house church, exchanging e-mail addresses with people he met instead of dispatching a letter in a scroll by horseback. That was the original Church, before the agreement that led St. Peter's Church into alliance with a series of secular powers, and ultimately to catastrophic defeat, defeat that not only removed any illusion of secular power from the Vatican but severely, if not fatally, undercut its claim as the true and only representative of the faith of Christianity.

This is an astonishing and beautiful development. Read the whole article. Follow up. A house can be God's home.


Not Science Fiction: Stem Cell Farming in the Ukraine

The Drudge Report recently highlighted a shocking story from the BBC that centered on "disturbing video footage" of "dismembered tiny bodies." "Healthy new-born babies" in the Ukraine, "the self-styled stem cell capital of the world," have allegedly been killed "to feed a flourishing international trade in stem cells."..., Murdered to Order, Ryan T. Anderson, The Weekly Standard

Just when you'd had enough of 2006, the old year brings another sickness to light, the harvesting in the Ukraine of purchased, stolen, or aborted infants to provide stem cell resources for researchers. Amazing but true -- among the strongest supporters, yes, supporters, of this kind of thing are pro-abortion organizations.

stem cell research can not appeal to any of these claims of women's welfare, privacy, or "the right to choose." Though the case of embryonic stem cells doesn't pose a direct competition of rights or interests--unborn embryos do not pose a threat to anyone--public arguments were made about competing interests of patients: "You pro-lifers are favoring embryos over Parkinson's victims." When these arguments prove ineffective, defenders of embryo-destructive research turn to a utilitarian one: embryos can be put to better use as raw material for biomedical research...."Murdered to Order," continued....

And it's happening here, not just in the Ukraine.

'My suspicions and sense of urgency have been heightened by the fact that my home state of New Jersey has passed a bill that specifically authorizes and encourages human cloning for, among other purposes, the harvesting of 'cadaveric fetal tissue.' A 'cadaver,' of course, is a dead body. The bodies in question are those of fetuses created by cloning specifically to be gestated and killed as sources of tissues and organs. What the bill envisages and promotes, in other words, is fetus farming.' Robert P. George, Princeton Philopher, cited in "Murdered to Order"

The late John Paul II lamented often that in an increasingly post-Christian Europe and America that what had been considered primary human values for thousands of years, especially compassion and the sanctity of life, were now held as sentimental affects by a majority of the adult population. It appears that he was right, that people without belief in anything beyond this life will murder for any hope of extending that life, and any hope of avoiding inconvenient impositions on their manner of living.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Fiery Scrooge Trashes Christmas in CA

As Wonker was getting ready to leave on his Christmas week sojourn to the South, he chanced to notice this story on Fox:
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A man used flammable liquid to light himself on fire, apparently to protest a San Joaquin Valley school district's decision to change the names of winter and spring breaks to Christmas and Easter vacation.

The man, who was not immediately identified, on Friday also set fire to a Christmas tree, an American flag and a revolutionary flag replica, said Fire Captain Garth Milam....

Kern County Sheriff's Deputy John Leyendecker said the man had a sign that read: "(expletive) the religious establishment and KHSD."

On Thursday, the Kern High School Board of Trustees voted to use the names Christmas and Easter instead of winter and spring breaks.

Nice language, eh? Guess that's the way the left spreads Christmas cheer these days in out-of-control California.

Once again, we see the adolescent spirit of leftists hard at work in the never-ending attempt to destroy all vestiges of the Christian religion in the United States. The apparent goal: to replace our God with the bust of Karl Marx, all the better to assure that European intellectuals remain our friends.

Raw, unfettered anger and emotionalism; reason supplanted by the dialectic; and pure, seething hatred toward the Other. These are the hallmarks of the American left today, as amply illustrated by this intentionally theatrical act of violence and contempt, intended to further diminish our cultural connection to our Judeo-Christian heritage. No wonder the left finds the Islamofascists so sympatico. All the more reason for us to keep the pressure up to return the names of traditional holidays from their secularist transformations, thus restoring the original intent.

The lefty protestor, BTW, suffered only limited 1st degree burns. It would be interesting to see if this "flammable liquid" was gasoline, or the kind of far safer concoction Hollywood uses for movie stunts, which would indicate a greater degree of cynicism than this story is reporting.

The left never gives normal Americans a moment of peace, even at Christmas. Unbelievable.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas from HazZzMat!!

None of this Happy Holidays stuff for us. December 25th is Christmas and we're wishing everybody a Merry one. Here's hoping that you and yours have a wonderful long weekend. In these troubled times, the Prince of Peace offers us a joyous message during the 12 days of Christmas. Maybe 2007 will be a year where folks around the world begin to pay that message heed once more.

Mr. and Mrs. Wonker will be traveling away from the Nation's Capital next week to the wilds of North Carolina, so blogging will be light to nonexistent depending on where we can pick the net up.

But we'll be back to more sustained blogging after the turn of the New Year. See you then if not before.

Lies, and the Lying Commies Who Promote Them

Instapundit today notes an interesting thought.
ERIC SCHEIE ON JAMIL HUSSEIN: "I soon noticed that there's a downside to debunking fraudulent people or claims. The people who make them up -- and most of those who agree with them -- simply don't care. Because the characters and claims are invented to support what they already believe fervently, debunking them does not 'count.' Lies presented in furtherance of a greater 'truth' are not really considered to be lies, at least not in the moral sense. The idea is to persuade people, and if fictional people or incidents have to be used, that's OK, as long as it's in the interest of the greater truth. The problem I have with this approach is that I don't like being lied to."

The problem that Glenn (Instapundit) is really having is that he doesn't understand that the Big Lie is precisely the point and that the left doesn't regard their lies as lies.

The link provided above, which takes you to the Classical Values website, discusses at length the vicious "defense" by leftist Eric Boehlert, of the AP's phony Iraq stories, discussed for weeks, at least, in the conservative blogosphere but rarely if ever in the MSM. Schie further observes:
Boehlert's approach is to minimize the seriousness of the fictional character and reports, and mount ad hominem style ideological attacks against those who debunked them. While the debunkers' primary crime is simply that they are "warbloggers" whose pro-war ideology is wrong, he also misleadingly splices selected fragments from quotes (whether this is "Dowdifying" or Issikoffing I'm not sure) to make JunkYardBlog's SeeDubya and the Anchoress look like heinous opponents of free speech. What they actually said -- along with the context -- are as unimportant to Boehlert as whether or not Jamil Hussein exists. As Boehlert concludes, it is only the larger truth matters...
These are great observations, and true to the mark, and Schie's whole piece in Classical Values is well worth reading. But again, amazingly, neither Instapundit nor Schie note the obvious answer to their puzzlement because they are amazingly unaware of the obvious. Boehlert, AP, and all the other leftists in the MSM who refuse to pull their phony stories or recant their lies are operating right out of the old, unabridged Stalinist propaganda playbook, as updated by Antonio Gramsci, and have been doing so with remarkable effectiveness for years.

The short description of their approach: When caught in a falsehood, lie, get your leftist friends on board to amplify that lie, get the MSM on board to trumpet the lie, and, when the cacophony is at its loudest, get your entire team organized into a massive chorus that continually broadcasts a vicious and neverending stream of ad hominem attacks on the character of your opponent. The end result: that the Stalinists don't have to address theie lies, and another truth-teller is removed from the public conversation by being tarred with convenient epithet, like "racist" (always a favor, but "fascist" will do) whatever the context.

For a Communist, and most particularly a Stalinist—and Uncle Joe appears to be the main influence on writers such as Boehlert—there is no such thing as objective truth. Truth is subjective and is defined only by the Party. If the Party has not stamped its imprimatur on a "truth," it is therefore transformed into a lie.

Thus, evidence, logic, and reason have no standing, and the circular logic of the perpetual dialectic seizes hold. The actual truth is transformed into a lie, while the Party's Big Lie becomes the truth, what "everybody knows." There can be no objective proof, and thus, no objective truth. "Truth" thus becomes a malleable, protean concept, a mere, shapeshifting convenience to be defined at will during what, on the surface, appears to be an intellectual argument. This repackaged lie, which is now the universally accepted truth is used as convenient building block by the Party apparatus as it builds its alternative mythology which somehow becomes the "real world." As defined by them.

It could be argued somewhat convincingly that there isn't much of a Party apparatus left in the U.S. today. However, one must wonder where all the Party discipline we are seeing whenever the left promotes its Lie of the Day—one must wonder where it's coming from. Has the hard left somehow figured out how to create pod people by planting propaganda genes into the bodies of those who inhabit the left, thus rendering the never-ending lying and ad hominem attacks upon perceived enemies an autonomic rather than a reasoned response?

We sometimes wish our friends in the right-wing and libertarian blogosphere would link here a bit more often. The core point they continue to miss is painfully obvious to us: the hard-wiring of the left to their Stalinist heritage. That is very often what we deal with here at HazZzMat. Indeed, it's our mission. And the earlier and more often our conservative friends would point out the left's propaganda techniques, the closer we'd come to winning the culture war: a war that conservatives want to win. But the right remains supremely handicapped. Essentially creatures of logic, they never perceiving the nature of its core or its essence.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Gets Danish Brush-Back Pitch

How about those wacky Danes? Check out the following ad a Danish "art group" got placed in the English language Tehran Times:

Not funny? Look again, and note the capital letters that begin each phrase and read down. Have to say we agree! Expect a fatwah against the Danes and the paper's editors to be issued very shortly. (Hat tip to Little Green Footballs via al-Reuters.)

Hey, why not place fake ads in a Tehran paper? AP has been using fake reporters—fake Iraqi cops, actually—to trash Bush and the U.S. for quite some time now, as the blogosphere has begun to document extensively. Michelle Malkin is hot on the tail of "Jamil Hussein" and his numerous "fake but accurate" reports from the heart of Baghdad. Except that nobody in Baghdad has ever seen him. Obviously, either Al Qaeda, Sadr's thugs, or the Sunni mass-murderers have been expertly schooled in how to feed the leftists in the Western media the kind of thin, factless anti-American gruel they so love to trumpet. Except that none of it is based on fact. Just like the phony Hezbollah ambulance driver a couple of months back. Another skilled Islamofascist propagandist AP was only too happy to help out.

Has AP no shame? That's a rhetorical question, BTW.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Holocaust Deniers and the Moral Equivalency Crowd

Tigerhawk frowns on the latest Iranian anti-Israel hatefest and makes the following observation:
The Islamic Republic of Iran's campaign to deny the Holocaust is rooted in the idea that the Holocaust is the moral basis for the establishment of Israel. If the moral foundation under Israel cracks, the thinking goes, war to eradicate Israel -- to "wipe it from the map" -- is suddenly justifiable. That is why Iran is holding its conference. There is no other convincing explanation.

The thing is, the road to Tehran's denial was paved by Western chattering classes, who have recently indulged in absurd invocations of the word "genocide" and casual comparisons of the Israelis to Nazis.

Of course, the "chattering classes" are so enamored of Bush-hatred that they instinctively adopt Iran's absurdist fantasies which largely track their own, in which Amerikkka, particularly under W, and any of its allies, particularly Israel, are the cause of all world evil. They have no problem doing this, of course, because for them, everything is morally equivalent anyway.
Tigerhawk thinks about this and draws the following entirely rational, and delightfully snide conclusion (itals by HazZzMat):
The Islamic Republic, which by ideology and practice believes in moral absolutes, is exploiting Western post-modernism's unwillingness to stand and defend any single truth. Even the most basic and verifiable historical truth, which is yet within the memory of thousands of witnesses still living, is attackable because Western intellectuals no longer believe in any truth. Among the complicated people who shape the considered opinion of the Western elites, it is entirely acceptable to question all interpretations of facts (with the obvious exception of facts that bear on global climate change).
Perfect. But labeling these destructive leftist idiotarians "intellectuals" would seem to posit a new hypothetical plane of existence that thrives in a continuum (or vacuum) considerably beyond that territory once defined by the term "oxymoron."

John Lennon, Peacenik Idiotarians, and Really Bad English

Onetime NYPress owner and currently a columnist with that odd rag—which vaguely competes with the NYPost and the Village Voice—Russ Smith, who once opined under the "Mugger" moniker, has a moderately interesting piece in the current issue. Although the column doesn't really go very far in offering explanations, it riffs on the topics of John Lennon's vapid song "Give Peace a Chance," the nature of the anti-war efforts then and now, and the current cliché-ridden nature of what today passes for journalism.

Smith, vaguely right-wing except when he's not, has lost his touch since selling his rag and moving back to his native Baltimore. Somehow, it's as if his edgy NYC acidity was surgically removed from him during his move, much like the tracker device was removed from Neo's bellybutton in the original Matrix installation.

In his current column, Smith waxes wroth on all the credit that libs and lefties like to heap on rock oracle John Lennon for ending the Vietnam War. He cites a recent example in the blog version of The Nation, a dead-tree magazine which is to informed writing as Madeline Murray O'Hare was to Christianity. [Direct link to this particular blog was unfound.] Uncharacteristically, however, the writer Smith cites, takes a refreshingly acidic view on this. Smith writes:
...last week I found the reaction to The Nation’s Jon Wiener’s web-only ruminations on the anniversary of John Lennon’s murder fairly fascinating.

Wiener’s Dec. 7 blog entry, “John Lennon’s Legacy,” was a silly (although undoubtedly sincere) nugget arguing that the man who imagined “no possessions,” even as he lived in luxury, played a part in ending the Vietnam War by penning the anthem “Give Peace a Chance.” The longtime Nation contributor, in considering the flawed film The U.S. vs. John Lennon,” in which “the married Beatle” (going back to the ’64 “Ed Sullivan” appearances) has a 1969 set-to with New York Times war correspondent Gloria Emerson, who had no time for protest ditties or rallies populated by young men who were terrified by the still-existent draft.

He writes: “The film presents the exchange as an example of the mainstream media’s relentless hostility to Lennon’s peace activism, and celebrates his put-down of Emerson. But 37 years later, it’s worth reconsidering Emerson’s question: did ‘Give Peace a Chance’ save a single life? Did the anti-war protest of 1969, or any other year, save any lives?” Wiener concedes that the war continued for several more years but concludes, “It was hard to see it in 1969, but eventually the U.S. did end its war in Vietnam. And today the people who were singing ‘Give Peace a Chance’ in 1969 can be glad they sang it.”

I don’t buy Wiener’s contention that the mainstream media was overtly hostile to Lennon (save perhaps The Wall Street Journal or National Review); more likely foreign reporters didn’t give him or his various public spectacles much thought. As it happens, like millions of people worldwide, I did take Lennon’s music, if not his Amsterdam bed-in or Yoko-influenced art projects, seriously and there are few pop musicians from that era who produced an equally significant body of work.

But was Lennon even a small actor in this country’s eventual pullout from Vietnam? Of course not. That’s sort of like saying, years from now, that George Clooney or Barbra Streisand (not to mention the impotent Iraq Study Group document from James Baker, Lee Hamilton and other Beltway worthies) were instrumental in ending the current Mideast conflict.
A good point. Actually, several good points. But the important point that both Smith and Wiener miss is that that's not the point. From the heyday of John Lennon to our present vacuous decade, an increasingly lazy and very leftist media (which was not nearly that leftist in the 1960s) simply parrots the idiotically uninformed political opinions of the entertainment industry's leisure class and trumpets these observations as the received dogma of a sage or a god.

From Lennon onward, however, the vast majority of individuals working in the entertainment industry as well as the MSM have increasingly become the willing mouthpieces of the nihilist left. Egged on by all the free publicity they get (witness the apparently witless Bush-bashing of the Dixie Chicks, whose real objective is to jettison their hick country fans and establish themselves as mainstream "artists"), entertainers simply encourage MSM hacks to characterize their vapid, simplistic philosophical and political mouthings as oracular proclamations and ample evidence that the populace supports such idiotarian views.

Meanwhile, these "artists," who obviously need an increasing amount of buzz to sell concert tickets and CDs in the Age of the iPod, bask in all the free PR as well as the kudos from their fellow travelers in the industry who also appreciate the frequent boosts. Furthermore, to be seen as being "out front" (i.e., embracing the hard left) on any political issue is to attract instant and lavish praise from the media, the kind of approving hug-hug, kiss-kiss that keeps them in the public eye and robs serious intellectual commentary of the oxygen it needs in order to get established.

This is our long-winded way of saying that Weiner and Smith at least have it right in this instance, although neither really delves into the cultural implications of sexually promiscuous and drug addled celebrities forcing public policy to the far left in perilous times such as these. Both writers themselves are thus sucked into the black hole of celebrity. Fighting this whole idiotarian-MSM-entertainment monolith is becoming a lot like taking on an army of orcs with a squirt gun. It's taken on a life of its own. Smith makes some moves in this direction and we try constantly here, but things continue to go downhill. And Lennon's successors seem incapable of learning, since every cheap-shot political song they pen wins wild applause in the media, as has Bruce Springsteen's recent attraction to the Little Red Schoolhouse Conservatory of Agitprop Music.

Since Smith is riffing on the topic of cultural clichés, he finds it easy to segue into the timeworn topic of pure journalistic clichés by referencing the increasing rise of these constructs in the world of journalism:
It’s a rare writer who doesn’t fall victim to employing clichés—[Joseph] Epstein [in the Wall Street Journal] indicts himself for using the shorthand “24/7”—and I remember one upbraiding delivered to yours truly by a friend in New York Press’ art department over a decade ago. This fellow spent an hour or so reading the latest edition of the paper and found five instances of the words “So sue me” (including once in my column), circling each one in red pencil. John Strausbaugh and I got the message and were properly embarrassed.

Some of the phrases I find particularly irritating—and a few are really ancient—are “Back in the day,” “tipping point,” “incurious” (specific to George Bush), “measuring the drapes,” “shout-out,” “give it up for … ,” “no brainer,” “outside the box” and one that sportswriters use to denigrate a ballplayer, such as “the immortal Bubba Crosby.”

Recently, nothing tops the concluding paragraph a Times editorialist committed to print in a Dec. 6 short about Robert Gates headlined “The Un-Rumsfeld.” Providing more evidence that The Times opinion writers are closer to colleagues at The Nation than The Washington Post, this person says, in stingy praise for Gates’ dire assessment of Iraq, “In any other time that would all be considered pretty bland stuff. But for an aspiring member of this administration, that came close to speaking truth to power.”
Nothing new here. "In point of fact," editors actually love the use of popular clichés as a way of dumbing down a piece and, not coincidentally, shaving off column inches at a time, all the more important in an age where tired print MSM behemoths are rapidly losing ad revenue to the web—revenue that used to support longer and more thoughtful piece. Much easier, after all, to dismiss the "beleagured and highly unpopular Bush" out of hand than actually describing the nonstop efforts of the left and their MSM confreres to make him so. A couple of quick clichés will do the job, enabling the journo to hit afternoon happy hour that much more quickly then he would if he had to think or fill more column inches.

One wishes, somehow, that the aging media lefties, whose writing today just doesn't cut the mustard anymore would either make like a tree and leave or simply oblige by kicking the bucket and taking a slow train to the Pearly Gates. But they don't believe in them apples either, so maybe it's best to move on and let sleeping dogs lie.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Truth About WWIII (or IV)

From time to time, we engage in discussions about our current conflict with the Islamofascists, and are often confronted with nomenclature issues. Specifically, what the heck do we call this conflict?

Some opt for World War III, given the global arena in which the current conflict is currently unfolding. But others claim that World War III is what we really should have called the Cold War, since a world war was precisely what it was: a roughly 40 Years War with the dark forces of international Communism with the old Soviet Union at the helm of an Evil Empire. That ideological battle was essentially won in a most unconventional way and concluded in a manner equally unconventional. By faking the Rushkies out with Star Wars, Ronald Reagan effectively spent the Evil Empire to death. The final act of this Last Battle was the fall of the Berlin Wall, once again, a most unconventional conclusion to a long, global conflict of epic proportions.

Of course, old Commies, like old Soldiers, never die. Their relativism, nihilism, and tendency to lie brazenly has found a home in the ongoing, unfolding phenomenon of Islamofascism, the adherents of which employ largely the same tactics of perpetual disinformation and slander to demonize their enemies and snooker the weak-kneed socialist wannabes who inhabit the judiciary, the arts, the media, and academia. With these willing dupes, including the old-guard commies, the Islamofascists are making it quite difficult for us to pin them down and take them out.

But just as the world eventually learned that Marxism was in the end a sham philosophical cover for creating a new and different upper class dedicated to lording it over everyone else, so, too, must the world eventually come to grips with the core of the current 40 Years War: the War Against Islamofascism, which will one day be dubbed either WW III or IV. And the following is probably the best short summary we've seen to date of what is at stake:
In the 1930s, some believed it would be possible to solve the particular problem of the Sudeten-Germans in negotiations with Hitler without considering the place of the Sudeten question in the overall strategy of the Nazis. In the 1980s, some believed it was possible to solve the particular problem represented by the seizure of the embassy in negotiations with Khomeini without considering the significance of the embassy seizure in the strategic conception of Islamism more generally. Today, with the separation of the nuclear question from the ideological dimension of the conflict, this mistake is being repeated. Although the letter made headlines around the world, Washington hesitated to confront the Iranian challenge on its own terrain: that of ideology.Policymakers focused on business as usual and thus missed the opportunity to present the real alternative facing both Muslim and non-Muslim societies: Does the world want to be oriented by life or by death? Does the world prefer individual and social self-determination or to be ruled by a clique of mullahs and their cult of death?
Bolding above is courtesy HazZzMat.

This brilliant assessment is snipped from a larger piece by Matthias Küntzel on the current fascist rulers of Iran. Well worth reading. A hat tip to Power Line, which discovered this article first.

Light Blogging Continues

Both Luther and Wonk continue to deal with family issues which always come first. But we'll stay on top of things as best we can during what is turning out to be a rather complicated Christmas Season for us.

Friday, December 08, 2006

We Interrupt Our Daily Blogging...

Light to non-existent blogging this past week due to extended family issues. Lots to blog about, however, and we'll be back in a couple of days with plenty of stuff.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Coalition to Preserve Civilization

Although we're not sure yet just how many folks are involved with the new group called out in our headline, it's clear that at least some other bloggers, aside from HazZzMat, are starting to enter the complicated field of ideological battle, so necessary to counter the overwhelming media, political, and academic defeatism being foisted on us by the organized 5th-column left.

A post at the aptly-named Gates of Vienna describes, in great detail, the development of spinoff organizations like the "901 group" and the "Coalition to Preserve Civilization" which are attempts to battle Islamofascist ideology as well as the perverse Marxists who give these medieval thugs plenty of aid and comfort since both groups share a seeting hatred of anything springing from either the Enlightenment or Christianity. Click the link to read all about it.

Sadly, BTW, a lot of the most intelligent and stirring words in this link were provided via late-campaign remarks by soon-to-be-ex Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. This guy will be heard from again. Frankly, and we hate to tempt enemies to fulminate, but the good folks of Pennsylvania were idiots to vote this patriot out of office. He is presidential material. Time will tell.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hugh Hewitt Spreads Christmas Cheer in Chi-town

You may recall our screed yesterday on the Chicago "Nativity Story" flap. (If not, check out this link, which describes how a religious Christmas movie trailer was suddenly ejected from a commercial Christmas festival in downtown Chicago by brainless city bureaucrats.)

Now there's more news. In the spirit of Christmas cheer, conservative talk show host, pundit, and blogger Hugh Hewitt has stepped up to the plate and made Mayor Daley an offer he can't refuse. Of course he might. But it will be fascinating to see how this latest PC-driven foray against the Christmas holiday by a city government plays out. Hugh has certainly upped the ante for Chi-town's sour-pussed, tight-sphinctered Scrooges. (Can we stack metaphors, or what?)

We'll lob you an update on this if and when warranted. But stay tuned to Hugh's site for breaking news, as he'll have it there first.

Keep it up, dude. And Merry Christmas to all!

Sex-Ed, Federal Style

Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) comments this morning:
CALL ME CRAZY, but I don't see why the federal government should be spending tax money to tell grownups not to have sex...
The link is to a USA Today article describing the federal effort in the tone it usually reserves for any enlightened social policy that's coming out of the Bush administration. In addition to kids:
Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.

The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it's a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.
A bit of fisking. (And cue the spooky music.)

First of all, note the clever wording of the first graf above which carefully points out that the government's (i.e., Bush's) abstinence-only programs include millions of dollars in federal money to support them. Ooooooo! How awful!! You're supposed to be scared and outraged. Had the government promoted cases of free condoms, however, this article might never have been written. Suggesting limits on irresponsible rutting is probably more frightening to the lunatic left than the sudden appearance of a creche on public property during the "Holiday Season."

And say, what's the big brouhaha about "targeting the sexual behavior of adults"? The feds, along with state governments, already target the spending habits of adults (taxation), the smoking habits of adults (taxing and litigating a legal product into oblivion), the drinking habits of adults (lower and lower breathalizer limits which end up nabbing folks who drink less and less), and, well, shall we go on?

But it's when you get to sexual mores, and guidelines and policies designed to suggest limits to dangerous, unprotected and illogical sexual activities that the lefties—who've happily promoted the above-listed draconian prohibitions—go completely nuts. All you have to do is hint that the perpetual human orgy they promote might not be the way for society to go, and the phony civil libertarian slimeballs come crawling out of the walls to shout out their collective outrage to the heavens if they believed in the heavens. Their bottom line, which they never state publicly, is that they're really out to smash old-fashioned Judaeo-Christian ideas like marriage, faithfulness, and responsibility, all the better free individuals from archaic family shackles, the better to promote the revolution. (Gee, maybe cigarette smokers ought to get better organized when the government steps on their rights.)

Next, the paper introduces the predictable, scolding, "critics say" phrase. When it comes to Iraq, we rarely discover who these critics are. (Since the "critics" are no doubt in State, the CIA, or the NSA and don't want to be outed.) In this case, we now get at least one dude who goes on the record:
"They've stepped over the line of common sense," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. "To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It's an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health."
That's right, Jim. We're losing touch with reality. And I guess you are the Arbiter of Common Sense. Unfortunately, the current reality on the ground was created by folks like you who eagerly promote abortions for 15-year old girls without parental knowledge or consent, dispense condoms like candy, and push sex, sex, sex at every turn, all the better to shatter any attempt at re-imposing a once traditional moral structure.

The abstinence campaign has everything to do with public health. It helps to cut down on unwanted pregnancies in a way that encourages a healthy respect for young women. And it could result in drastically reducing the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in young people who feel pressured into indulging in frequent, unprotected sex. As usual, however, a lefty like Wagoner makes the broad and baseless pronouncement that he can't and won't defend. After all, he's a left-liberal. Thus, everything he says is therefore true. What a crock.

[BTW double-fisk: we went to the Advocates for Youth web pages. Yep, it appears to be a nonprofit, all right. But nowhere on the pages can we find out who's funding it, usually a sign that the organization is funded either via a Marxist or socialist organization or by illegally channeling funds from a presumably legitimate parent nonprofit. Nonetheless, we can peruse this list of "campaigns" this clearly left-wing organization supports:

The Rights. Respect. Responsibility.® Campaigns —Youth activists from around the country demanding young people's right to sexual health information and services including:
Emergency Contraception Campaign—Make EC available without a doctor's prescription for all women
The Keep it REAL Campaign—End censorship in America's schools
The Fix the GAP Campaign—Stop U.S. exportation of abstinence-only programs
International Family Planning Campaign—Encourage the U.S. to honor its funding commitments

Youth "activists" (leftist code for "radical agitators") "demanding" information and services. Who knew? "Demanding" is nearly always a very clear signal that we're dealing with the left here, for whom all subjective positions are nonnegotiable because they said so. But also, this organization supports "emergency contraception" for "all women" without a doctor's prescription!! How nuts is that? And we presume that "all women" includes 15-year olds who haven't notified their parents. "End censorship in America's schools." Are they kidding? Censorship of conservatives, no doubt, as socialist points of view are never censored in the schools. And the latter two items are out and out obvious: the U.S. should, no doubt, export only "safe-sex" programs and pay for them. God forbid that we teach people in other countries the value and virtue of family-formation, not to mention the benefits of abstinence in an HIV-ridden world. And precisely WHAT funding commitments? Check the link.]

The paper allows administration official Wade Horn a mild and logical rebuttal. But presenting this administration favorably is not the custom of USA Today. Observing tried and true MSM methodology, the story quickly introduces introduces two more critics who, of course, allowed to have the last word on this topic, leaving the reader with the distinct impression that the current administration policy encouraging abstinence is asinine:
Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, says abstinence programs are among many messages that have helped reduce teen pregnancy rates. But "the notion that the federal government is supporting millions of dollars worth of messages to people who are grown adults about how to conduct their sex life is a very divisive policy," she says.
But when governments, federal or otherwise, fight against parental notification of their minor child's desire for an abortion, that's NOT a "very divisive policy"? A divisive policy for the left is any policy that a conservative administration might implement or request. The only possible non-divisive policy for sex is one proposed by the lunatic left, obviously, all of whom are far smarter than we. And who'd want the Bushies to be able to spend "millions of dollars" on anything?
"We would oppose any program that stigmatizes unmarried people," adds Nicky Grist, executive director of the Alternatives to Marriage Project, a non-profit organization based in Brooklyn, N.Y., that advocates for the rights of unmarried people.
Yep, but you'd endorse any program that stigmatizes married people, wouldn't you, Nicky? The far-left's fear of taking anything other than a permissive stance on the issue of sexual conduct reflects their core belief in moral relativism. Taken to its logical conclusion, we probably should also have avoided "stigmatizing" the Islamofascists who plowed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

And note the inflation of "rights" here once again. Grist is concerned about the "rights" of unmarried people, while she apparently is unconcerned about the "rights" of the married people whose more stable household incomes often end supporting, via state and federal government largesse, those free-spirited unmarried people. Once again, we see a leftist pushing policies that are not aimed at "rights" at all but at the destruction of religion-based cultural traditions that support marriage while discouraging co-habitation. Given the overwhelming statistics showing that traditional families are the most prosperous and healthy social entities when taken as a slice of the overall demographic, why would we want to promote behavior that runs counter to this? Beats me, but Nicky never explains. Because, as a leftist, she doesn't have to.

[BTW #2 double-fisk: And exactly who funds the "Alternatives to Marriage Project"? Once again, we have no clue. Where is the funding coming from? We have to rely on this catty Q&A:
Less than 10% of our support come from sales of books and products. More than 90% of our funding is from people around the world who care about support and social justice for unmarried people.
Okay, 90% of their funding comes from people arround the world interested in "social justice for unmarried people." So what kind of people? North Korea's "Dear Leader," perhaps? George Soros? Again, a clear sign of a leftist organization is the clever way in which they dodge the issue of funding. And frequently use the term "social justice," which immediately causes me to check my wallet.

And hey, you thought there was no left-wing conspiracy involving the MSM? This website has a handy-dandy
cribsheet for reporters who want to be politically correct and desire to subtly promote the agenda of AMP via the subtle manipulation of language. Here's one example of a tip for cooperative journalists:

Use language like "births to unmarried parents" or "non-marital births" rather than "out-of-wedlock births," "unwed mothers," or "illegitimacy." The phrases we recommend are widely-used, less judgemental ways to describe the same phenomenon.
This stuff is precisely why we continually raise issues of subversize language here in HazZzMat.

But wait, there's more. AMP is mounting a full-scale attack on organizations promoting marriage. Read all about it
here. Clearly a major part of this organization's subversive aim is to actively seek to undermine anyone or any organization that actually favors marriage. In addition, there is on these pages a ceaseless promotion of homosexual marriage and even odder relationships. Please note: these folks are not egalitarians. Like all lefties, they want to destroy their opponents, and there's no way to succeed in this than by attacking 24/7 and enlisting press allies to help report the action.]

Let's get back to our regularly-scheduled program.

Brown wraps it up:
"I think the program should talk about the problem with out-of- wedlock childbearing — not about your sex life," Brown says. "If you use contraception effectively and consistently, you will not be in the pool of out-of-wedlock births."
Oh, really, Ms. Brown? But then you'd piss off Ms. Grist, who apparently wants bigger, better, and more special "rights" for those carefree cohabiters and independent rutters, who, of course, are the ones who are going to generate many of the out-of-wedlock births. But the telling phrase is the last one. In other words, just pull out the condoms, ring, and contraceptive foam, kiddies. And screw away, 'cause we know you will anyway. And we want you to do it as well, all the better to strike down those bourgeois notions of love, marriage, faithfulness, and responsibility.

Preaching abstinence promotes these higher values. But that's not what the left wants.

We're a little surprised that Glenn Reynolds, whose comments we generally admire, should actually comment approvingly on this balderdash. And we're wondering if he took a look at the free ride USA Today gave to the hard-left advocacy organizations who supplied quotes and probably promoted the writing of this hit-piece directed at a major Bush administration initiative. One hapless Bushie gets one short graf to respond to three hard-left critics who thus dominate the article's point-of-view. We wonder who really cooked this piece of advocacy journalism up.

Glenn generally takes a libertarian tack on things. But in this case, his libertarianism is being led down the primrose path. The anti-social tack of the lunatic left is on full display in the cited cited. The writer and her enablers are as anxious to destroy any sense of family and morality as the abstinance promoters are in preserving both.

We're not quite sure why Glenn would be taken in by the left's facile propaganda, which merely preserves the facade of libertarianism rather than endorsing it. What it is promoting is far more cynical and sinister.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Christmas Wars Begin Anew

We were overjoyed a couple of weeks ago to learn that Wal-Mart had the guts to apologize for its banning of "Christmas" from its web shopping site. That ban was made all the more asinine when shoppers learned
...that when using the company's online search engine, if the word "Hanukkah" was entered, 200 items for sale were returned. The term "Kwanzaa" yielded 77. But when "Christmas" was entered, the message returned said: "We've brought you to our 'Holiday' page based on your search."

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called for a boycott and Wal-Mart backed down.
Meanwhile, Target has announced a new partnership with the Salvation Army to support the Army's charitable Christmas efforts; grocery chain Kroger is "once again supporting The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle campaign this holiday season;" and even Wal-Mart is welcoming the Army back.

Looks like Christmas and the Christmas spirit are finally on the comeback trail in retail America. But not quite.

Seems like the sourpuss secular humanist Democrats in Chicago—the ones who've already brought you the foie gras ban that's made them an international laughingstock—are still somewhat queasy when it comes to the trappings of Christmas:
A public Christmas festival is no place for the Christmas story, the city says. Officials have asked organizers of a downtown Christmas festival, the German Christkindlmarket, to reconsider using a movie studio as a sponsor because it is worried ads for its film "The Nativity Story" might offend non-Christians.

New Line Cinema, which said it was dropped, had planned to play a loop of the new film on televisions at the event. The decision had both the studio and a prominent Christian group shaking their heads.
Left Wonker shaking his head as well. But wait. It gets worse:
The city does not want to appear to endorse one religion over another, said Cindy Gatziolis, a spokeswoman for the Mayor's Office of Special Events. She acknowledged there is a nativity scene, but also said there will be representations of other faiths, including a Jewish menorah, all put up by private groups. She stressed that the city did not order organizers to drop the studio as a sponsor.

"Our guidance was that this very prominently placed advertisement would not only be insensitive to the many people of different faiths who come to enjoy the market for its food and unique gifts, but also it would be contrary to acceptable advertising standards suggested to the many festivals holding events on Daley Plaza," Jim Law, executive director of the office, said in a statement.
Sure, blame it on the standards. The usual dodge. "It's not my fault, I'm just doin' my job." Or maybe the devil made him do it. But a New Line Cinema rep puts the nail in this illogical coffin:
An executive vice president with New Line Cinema, Christina Kounelias, said the studio's plan to spend $12,000 in Chicago was part of an advertising campaign around the country. Kounelias said that as far as she knew, the Chicago festival was the only instance where the studio was turned down.

Kounelias said she finds it hard to believe that non-Christians who attended something called Christkindlmarket would be surprised or offended by the presence of posters, brochures and other advertisements of the movie.

"One would assume that if (people) were to go to Christkindlmarket, they'd know it is about Christmas," she said.
One would, wouldn't one? Alas, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Hugh Hewitt weighs in with this ironic observation:

So why did Mayor Daley light the Christmas Tree last week? I guess it is ok to give offense if the Mayor gets face time in the media.
The Dems may have won this year's Congressional sweepstakes. But their majority is about as razor thin in each house as it was for the Republicans lo these many years. If the lunatic fringe of this party continues with dodgy shenanigans like this, they'll provide plenty of cannon fodder for the Republicans to take Congress back in 2008, along with retaining the Presidency and taking back a few statehouses as well. Maybe the, er, anti-Christianists, are really a Republican's best friend.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas to all, in advance, from HazZzMat. And to all a good night. I'm going home to get a good night's sleep myself, the better to prepare for battle against tomorrow's fresh outrages.

More on Christianists; or, I Say It's Spinach

Looks like the "Christianist" flap we recently discussed is taking on a life of its own, even though it appears to have been around for awhile. Ann Althouse traces its lineage, quoting some particularly interesting research on the word by William Safire, who tracked it back to an Andrew Sullivan snit, after first encountering it in a typical Hendrik Hertzberg screed:
Two weeks after writing about the fervor of the late Terri Schiavo's ''Christianist 'supporters,''' Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker last month described Representative Tom Delay as a ''hard-right Christianist crusader.'' A few months before, soon after President Bush was re-elected, the conservative Weekly Standard reported that an Ohio cartoonist had sent out a communication deploring ''militant Christianist Republicans.''

Obviously there is a difference in meaning between the adjectives Christian and Christianist. Thanks to Jon Goldman, an editor at Webster's New World Dictionaries, I have the modern coinage of the latter with its pejorative connotation. ''I have a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right,'' wrote the blogging Andrew Sullivan on June 1, 2003, ''who have used the Gospels to perpetuate their own aspirations for power, control and oppression: Christianists. They are as anathema to true Christians as the Islamists are to true Islam.''
The key here is "pejorative connotation" which is clearly intended. Once again, as per our posts on lefty Episcopal Bishop Kate Schori (here and here), our Marx-infatuated friends are proving quite adept at twisting the language around, creating evergreen opportunities to dump chamberpots on their opponents rather than respecting their legitimate arguments and debating them.

"Christianist" is clearly an attempt by Hertzberg and Sullivan to paint believers in Jesus Christ as foaming-at-the-mouth right-wing lunatics. Equating them with "Islamists"—whom we at HazZzMat prefer to more accurately characterize as "Islamofascists"—accomplishes this quite nicely, although such a comparison with mass-murderers is hardly apt. This never matters with the left, however, which infinitely prefers to demonize its opponents rather than debate them.

In the modern society they have created, largely by subverting our educational system and controlling the MSM, the hard left is fully aware that a puffer-pigeon show of emotional outrage combined with the use of choice, carefully selected "fighting words," will enable them to "win" an argument nearly every time without the inconvenience of having their shallow responses smithereened by a conservative's generally superior logic.

It is frustrating to see this emotional and superficially entertaining debating tactic, based on logical fallacy as it is, emerge victorious time after time. But conservatives were and are asleep at the switch when it comes to the phenomena of cultural and educational subversion (they've finally figured out judicial subversion), and they still show no signs of coming to grasp with this. Ergo, the left's favorite method of winning an easy "intellectual" victory still remains quite viable for them. (Note: When a conservative employs pejoratives or "fighting words," it's called "hate speech.")

Ah, but we've left Safire behind. Rick and Andy, it seems, didn't invent the term "Christianist" after all:
In 1883, W.H. Wynn wrote a homily that said ''Christianism -- if I may invent that term -- is but making a sun-picture of the love of God.'' He didn't invent the term, either. In the early 1800's, the painter Henry Fuseli wrote scornfully that ''Christianism was inimical to the progress of arts.'' And John Milton used it in 1649.
But then he gets precisely to our point. (Or, if you think about it, he got to that point first, since he wrote this stuff in May, 2005):
Adding ist or ism to a word usually colors it negatively, as can be seen in secularist....

Regardless of the etymology of "Christianist," that's precisely why facile hacks like Sullivan (who claims to be a Catholic) and Hertzberg use it with abandon. After all, name-calling is easier than coming up with an argument. (Particularly when you're on deadline and you're short a couple of column inches.) And also, alarmingly, this particular iteration of name-calling implies that "Christianism" is a greater evil than "Islamism," aka "Islamofascism." This is moral equivalence run amok. (But who cares? It's Bush's fault.)

At least some conservatives are learning to play the slime-game if that's how it must be played:
As Christianist, with its evocation of Islamist, gains wider usage as an attack word on what used to be called the religious right, another suffix is being used in counterattack to derogate those who denounce church influence in politics. ''The Catholic scholar George Weigel calls this phenomenon 'Christophobia,''' the columnist Anne Applebaum wrote in The Washington Post. She noted that he borrowed the word from the American legal scholar, J.H.H. Weiler. The word was used by Weigel ''after being struck by the European Union's fierce resistance to any mention of the continent's Christian origins in the draft versions of the new, and still unratified, European constitution.''
Perhaps conservatives are belatedly waking up to the true impact of the culture wars.

Meanwhile, we will continue to regard term "Christianist" as bogus, reductive, left wing hate speech. As a prim little girl in a New Yorker cartoon once famously told her parents as they gently urged her to eat her broccoli, "I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it!"

(Side note, apropos of nothing: The legendary punchline just cited initially appeared to have been adapted from a long-forgotten Irving Berlin song penned in 1932. However, further digging uncovered several sources (including this one) agreeing that this Carl Rose/E.B. White cartoon first appeared in the New Yorker on December 8, 1928. This would imply that Berlin actually got the idea for his song from the cartoon. Funny what you discover when you research stuff on the Web. Thought we'd share it with you.)

Robert Godwin: One To Watch & Read

One of the reasons why most MSM political writing is so shallow, is that it is analogous to a person with no knowledge of the unconscious writing about the mind. Such a person will necessarily place undue emphasis on conscious motivations, when for most people, the conscious mind is a fleeting jumble of patchwork improvisations...This applies both individually and collectively, for...a culture or subculture is like a public neurosis, while a neurosis is like a private culture. Religion, in its proper sense, to rescue us from the foolishness of culture -- to provide a key to eternity within the transient productions of time....Elections, Group Fantasy, and Human Sacrifice, Robert Godwin, One Cosmos

A real analyst analyzing MSM analysts? Speaking positively of religion? Another glimpse:

As I have had occasion to mention many times, we are in a triangulated global war between three ideologies, two of which are naively steeped in unconscious fantasy (Islamism and secular leftism). While everyone is subject to unconscious motivations, the classical liberalism of American conservatism is rooted in a far more realistic vision of human nature than any of its competitors....(Group Fantasy, continued....)

The writer has never run into this blog before but will again and again. If you haven't guessed why yet, here's more:

The job of the ego is simply to rationalize and spin a sort of false continuity over the various inconsistencies that result from vertical splits within the unconscious mind. This is why most people are so patently illogical, in particular, intellectuals. Furthermore, this explains why no one is so prone to illusions and magic than the intellectual, as they are like someone who...superimposes a grid of knowledge over the noumenal reality, and then confuses the map with the territory. There is no idea so foolish that it is not taught at one of our elite universities....(Group Fantasy, continued....)

Wow! What next?

Obviously we are seeing an abundance of analysis of the recent election, but to me, most of it is about as illuminating as an intellectual patient’s rationalizations of his self-defeating behavior. Intellectuals are just like anyone else, only worse, in that they do not so much reason as rationalize what they already believe anyway...(Group Fantasy, continued....)

Godwin does not let his targets get away. If one thinks of MSM analysts (and intellectuals) as career .200 hitters, he follows the old pitcher's adage that you should be merciless to the defenseless.

Robert Godwin is one to watch. Read him every day at: One Cosmos.


More on Bishop Schori; or, How the Left Destroys Religion

After publishing a previous post, we got a little curious about the new Presiding Episcopal Bishop, Katharine Schori, recently installed just down the road from Wonker at the National Cathedral, a magnificent gothic building beautifully sited at the top of a hill in Washington at the intersection of Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues NW, overlooking Georgetown below.

As most remaining Episcopalians know by now, the Episcopal Church—essentially the American branch of the Anglican Church—is in turmoil today for a variety of reasons, most of them boiling down to core issues such as allowing women in the priesthood, and permitting homosexuals to be ordained bishops. Both of which the establishment Episcopal Church loves and which the few remaining conservative Episcopalians, like most of their worldwide Anglican bretheren, despise.

Without getting into the relative theological merits of this and that (which Wonker's reasonably good with, actually, having been trained by Jesuits), the problem we're dealing with here is the intrusion of leftist politics into the theological arena. An organized religion, in the end, is a matter of faith, not feeling, a matter of dogma not choice. You can't really "change" the theology of an organized religion once it's set. You can only change religions. For if a theology or a creed becomes completely malleable, completely subjective, it soon ceases to exist as a religion.

Lefties, however, do not accept this. The secular left has been quite clever over the past half century or so in infiltrating its belief system into organized religion, finding an easy reception among already left-liberal Episcopalians, but wreaking habit on other Protestant religions as well.

Which gets us back to Bishop Schori. The good Bishop is no shrinking violet. Her thoughts are available on the web for all to see and approve. Let's take a look at some recent pronouncements.

Roughly a year ago, for example, Bishop Schori counseled her flock to oppose the pending FY 2006 Budget Reconciliation Act. That's a pretty strange tack to take for a religious leader, particularly when her religion, which has tax-exempt status, is prohibited from indulging in partisan politics. But no matter. Let's take a look at some of the Bishop's missive on this topic:

As the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada...I am deeply concerned for the working poor, children, and elderly of this country as the Congress considers the FY '06 Federal Budget Reconciliation Act, which could potentially cut more than $50 billion dollars from programs that serve those most in need.

The example of Jesus guides Christians today by instilling in us a commitment to the least among us. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita exposed the anguished faces of the poor in the wealthiest nation on the planet. Ironically, just as disaster struck the Gulf Coast, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that poverty in the United States is growing, with 37.0 million people living in poverty in 2004, an increase of more than one million people since 2003....

Congress must not exacerbate poverty across the United States and in Nevada by passing a budget that further impoverishes one group of already poor people in our nation in order to help those newly or more deeply impoverished by the recent hurricanes. Cuts in Food Stamps, Medicaid, child care and children's health programs do further harm and injustice to the most vulnerable whom this country seems to have already left behind.

Note the interesting turn here, as Bishop S cleverly consults with Jesus, getting Him involved in the budgetary process. Like most facile leftist propositions, this one looks reasonable on its face. (Plus, it's endorsed by the Lord!) However, this reasoning also forcefully argues that Congress embrace, with taxpayer dollars, the Bishop's purported religious beliefs which she is merely handing down from Christ. This is something, of course, that should nauseate all leftists as is breaks down the fabled "wall of separation" between secular government and religion. But then, the left only worries about the "wall" when it's conservatives who are making the argument. And logical consistency is not important to the left. (The dialectic is, along with class struggle.)

Bishop S concludes in the same vein:

Congress must instead bring forth a federal budget that reflects the values and priorities on which this nation was founded, and which we have historically championed: justice for all, especially those who have no other helper. Their aid must not be withdrawn or diminished. We must not ask the poorest among us to bear a burden which should be borne by this entire nation.

As I recall, Jesus never instructed his Apostles to found a Congress whose aim it was to extract money from the "rich" to distribute to the poor. (Caesar actually did most of the extracting at the time, and it didn't go to the poor.) Jesus did once challenge a rich young man to sell all he had and give it to the poor as a way of following in His footsteps. In fact, He issued this kind of challenge often and in many ways. But the challenge was always to individuals, to individual hearts and souls. For Jesus knew that institutions could not force true change. It could only come from within. It could only come from the heart. Conversion was, and is, a personal experience.

Yet for some reason, Bishop S has conflated Jesus' original challenge to the individual into some kind of extended Constitutional right. She is, in fact, inflating the notion of individual redemptive choice into a blanket pronouncement that inserts her interpretation—socialism—into a Constitution that did not and does not exist as a malleable vehicle geared toward promoting the government's redistrubution of wealth.

Under our system, I think, charity and the giving of alms remains an individual choice. Recognizing this, the Bishop should have ordered a special collection, not, in effect, higher taxes. But such redistributionist sentiments as the Bishop preaches come easily to those on the left. It's a way of taking the moral high ground in public without having to dig into your own pockets. It is, if you will, an update on the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. And as such, it's hypocritical.

Let's move on to the Bishop's 2004 push for what she calls "fair and just" immigration reform. Her version, of course, is quietly and subtly intended to undermine the meaning of citizenship and nationhood, replacing it with the kind of piety-without-borders that today's left intends to use to destroy all vestiges of our culture and laws:

The Judaeo-Christian tradition has always held up caring for the alien as one of the most central marks of a godly and righteous person. The Bible repeatedly enjoins people of faith to remember the stranger, to care for those without family or roots in a place, and to ensure that they are fed, housed, and shown hospitality. As a nation, we have largely forgotten that mandate, especially since September 11th. While I recognize the need for adequate security measures, the fear-mongering of late has eclipsed the demand to treat our neighbors fairly and humanely.

First of all, as I recall, the Bible discusses "strangers" or "guests," not "aliens." This subtle, intentional conflation of terms is a cherished trick of the left, allowing the propagandist to introduce an unrelated term with a contemporary meaning alongside an ancient term in this case, thus imbuing the contemporary usage ("alien") with scriptural gravitas.

Second of all, there is no "mandate" in the Bible to do such a thing. "Mandate," a word traditionally used in politics to describe the authority granted by the majority of the electorate, has been transformed into a term more akin to legislative fiat. (Although this usage has been abused by politicians and policy wonks for years.) This, the Bishop now expands into a Biblical fiat, when, in fact, hospitality was largely the local custom of many societies whereby a head of household extended courtesy to a visiting stranger. Regardless of Biblical meaning and intent, however, this custom is also nowhere enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

As a final, gratuitious slap, the Bishop tosses out, without supporting documentation, the term "fear-mongering," casually tarring with that epithet anyone who might dare oppose her personal observations on this topic. Leftists, whether involved directly in politics or hiding beneath the benign cloak of religion, can never resist making nasty asides, usually entirely out of context. Their seething anger at those who might disagree with them is so powerful that it always seeks an outlet. This, at least in part, is why we often see discordant comments such as these in documents that purport to be reasonable in meaning and in scope.

By casually demonizing an opposing point of view, a leftist like the Bishop does two important things. First, she communicates to all blue-state true believers that she is one of them, quickly and without much effort. And second, by means of this demonization, she absolves her readers of the bothersome task of having to evaluate an opposing viewpoint. They are thus given a dispensation to completely ignore the other side, saving them valuable time, not to mention the bother of activating the arduous mental processes of thinking and evaluating. Argument "ad hominem," since the time of the ancient Greeks, has been regarded as a logical fallacy and it's one we see almost daily on the political stump by cheap shot artists lacking a full mental apparatus. Since leftists, however, don't believe in logic (only the dialectic), an ad hominemn "argument" or comment is viewed as the most efficient way of winning an argument, since all you have to do is use an epithet to completely dismiss your opponent. Very neat and clean.

Let's try another paragraph:

I ask your support for legislation which will provide for a substantial increase in the number of workers who can enter the United States legally, and eventually work toward permanent residence and citizenship. I urge adoption of a system which would permit those already here to work toward permanent residence and eventual citizenship, recognizing that certain criteria must be met. I have the utmost concern that the ancient religious and humanitarian expectation of hospitality and care for the stranger not be deligitimized or legally sanctioned. The Episcopal Church and our interfaith partners are on record as strongly opposing any such action, and we urge the adoption of the language drafted by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In other words, in code as always, the Bishop endorses blanket amnesty for illegal aliens, which we've already tried at least twice and which has worked neither time. She is also implicitly instructing her flock to flout the law, via the usual hard-left tactic of selectively obeying laws that leftists believe in (i.e., those they themselves have written, as those written by their opponents are, de facto, not really binding.)

This, in turn, discourages observation of our immigration laws by foreign nationals. And it also absolves illegal immigrants of any responsibility for their actions by failing to impose on them an obligation to become law-abiding, productive, and educated citizens if they are allowed to stay. But now the Bishop wants us to fail in our immigration policy and enforcement once again. And once again, she presses as her "reason" the falsely construed obligation of "hospitality," i.e., income redistribution—which, last time I looked, is nowhere enshrined in the Constitution. Perhaps the Bishop should take up yet another collection from her ever-dwindling flock.

The Bishop correctly concludes that we wouldn't be the nation we are today had we not accepted immigration over the years. Fair enough. But as I recall, immigration had to be legal, and attendance at "Americanization Schools" (where did they go?) was encouraged, as "Americanization promoted the values of liberty, democracy, and equal opportunity by making the new immigrants feel they belonged in their adopted country."

Citizenship and a new way of life different from an old, failed, and invariably impoverished life in the country of their birth, was the desire of most earlier waves of immigrants. Their native societies had failed them. This New World gave them a chance. They soon discovered that America's streets were not paved with actual gold. But the were paved with the metaphorical gold of limitless opportunity for the hardworking and ambitious, something that was never available to them in their countries of origin. So why would they expect or demand that their new country adopt the failed ways of the countries they'd just left just to suit their convenience? If that were what they had wanted, it would have been easier to stay home. The simple logic of this, however, has never penetrated the lead-armored skulls of the hard left.

On the contrary, the new attitude of the left on immigration seems to be that we are, in fact, ourselves an inferior society that can best "learn" from the new, prefereably Third World immigrants how to be better better people. We can and should simply adapt to their ways, not they to ours. In so doing, we can rid ourselves of our founding, European-Enlightenment skins and become truly happey by sinking into the poverty, disease, and overall wretchedness which to this day characterizes most Third World situations.

This is, of course, the whole point of the deliberately warm-sounding term "multiculturalism," which is the left's positive-sounding way of describing this phenomenon. It's the opposite of "Americanization" which the left assuredly wants to avoid. The American Way allows all citizens and legal immigrants unlimited opportunity to rise to their desired level of happiness and prosperity. "Multiculturalism," combined with other related leftist subterfuges, is really another disguise for the uniform wretchedness that socialism seeks by forcing all citizens down to the lowest common economic denominator, thus achieving universal "equality" by making everyone equally wretched.

And that's what's really behind the Bishop's non-solution above. Which, while being wrongheaded to begin with, also costs tons of taxpayer money; encourages the flouting of our laws and our national borders; and imposes no penalties whatsoever on lawless behavior. That's a great way to create new citizens who respect the law.

We could go on fisking the Bishop's pronouncements, more of which you can find here. But we think we've made our point. The Episcopal Church is now headed up by an individual for whom centrally administered socialism, hidden beneath the cloak of Christianity and Christian charity, is the primary goal. Gone is personal responsibility and gone are individual acts of charity. In this way, purported religious belief becomes subordinate and insincere, a convenient rhetorical stalking horse for achieving a strictly political end. We could, in fact, argue convincingly that Bishop Kate is a socialist first and an Episcopal Bishop second. For her, the Episcopal Church, and the flock entrusted to her care, are merely subordinate tools, meant to be used to accomplish a political goal. It is, at least to this writer, astonishing that Church members have failed to recognize this. The only logical explanation is that they are in agreement. At which point, unfortunately, their alleged religious beliefs would cease to have meaning.

It's small wonder that today's Episcopal Church is such a mess. Its church buildings, increasingly devoid of worshipers (as my Episcopal friends continually lament), have come to function in a manner similar to union meeting or hiring halls serving only politically activist Democrats, Socialists, and Greens. Except that the frequently magnificent architecture of these buildings is much grander in scale and otherworldly aspiration, something, rapidly being lost in the quicksand of moral relativism and cynical political calculations. Calculations made by folks like Bishop S, a secular humanist draped in the mantle of the religious authority she, and others like, her undermine casually, day after day as they slowly eviscerate the religion they purport to lead.

Episcopalians: The New Shakers?

This interesting tidbit from Mark Steyn, is originally from what Mark Levin calls the "New York Slimes" on his radio talk show. The Slimes' reporter is interviewing the new "Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to run a national division of the Anglican Communion...":
Bishop Kate gave an interview to the New York Times revealing what passes for orthodoxy in this most flexible of faiths. She was asked a simple enough question: "How many members of the Episcopal Church are there?"

"About 2.2 million," replied the presiding bishop. "It used to be larger percentage-wise, but Episcopalians tend to be better educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than other denominations."

This was a bit of a jaw-dropper even for a New York Times hackette, so, with vague memories of God saying something about going forth and multiplying floating around the back of her head, a bewildered Deborah Solomon said: "Episcopalians aren't interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?"

"No," agreed Bishop Kate. "It's probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion."
This sublimely asinine observation causes Steyn to riff on Fatma An-Najar, the Palestinian grandma who blew herself to smithereens recently, probably earning her a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest female homicide bomber ever, except that all she did was slightly injure a few Israeli soldiers:
Here's the question for Bishop Kate: If Fatma An-Najar has 41 grandchildren and a responsible "better educated" Episcopalian has one or two, into whose hands are we delivering "the stewardship of the earth"? If your crowd isn't around in any numbers, how much influence can they have in shaping the future?
Good point, Mark, except that confirmed leftist idiotarians like Bishop Kate aren't listening, except to themselves. This typically smug garbage is the primary reason that the Episcopal Church—which Wonker once came close to joining many years ago—is rapidly dying in this country.

Referencing simple demographics, Steyn concludes:
If you measure the births of the Muslim world against the dearth of Bishop Kate's Episcopalians, you have the perfect snapshot of why there is no "stability": With every passing month, there are more Muslims and fewer Episcopalians, and the Muslims export their manpower to Europe and other depopulating outposts of the West. It's the intersection of demography and Islamism that makes time a luxury we can't afford.

We can argue about exactly what this trend means, but not that it means nothing. At the very minimum, I'd suggest, it means the Episcopal Church is irrelevant to "the stewardship of the earth..."
Addressing the same point, TigerHawk, an Episcopalian himself, is a bit more pointed:
I'm sorry to say, but my Church has chosen an idiot as its presiding bishop. What are we, Shakers? The point of virtually every Christian denomination worth its salt is not merely to replenish its ranks, but spread its particular beliefs. Indeed, if a church's message is not worth spreading, why bother believing in it at all?

Senator Hagel's Stupidity

Hagel’s myopia matches that of the new Soviet government in 1917 who were negotiating with the Germans an end to Russian involvement in World War I. The Germans were being extraordinarily harsh in their terms and the new Soviet government was balking...Finally, the government hit upon a brilliant idea. Why not simply declare that the war was over and the German had won? Enormously satisfied with their own cleverness, Russian troops began to abandon their positions and start the long trek home...The Germans didn’t quite know what to make of this...They decided to take the most direct approach possible and launched a massive attack against the retreating Russians. Only after slaughtering tens of thousands of more soldiers...did the Soviet government wake up and go back to the bargaining table where the Germans became, if anything, more demanding....Hagel Says No Defeat In Iraq: Jihadis Giggle, Rick Moran,, 11/25/2007

Moran takes no prisoners in describing historical consequences of Senator Hagel's ideas regarding Iraq. Why should he? When you address the arguments of an ignoramus, there's no good reason to worry about your target's self-esteem. Senator Hagel's self-esteem appears to be based on stupidity and ignorance. Why should we protect that? If Senator Hagel were a twelve-year-old, we would, if we still taught children, correct his odd thinking and expression. But Senator Hagel is an adult running for President of the United States. His odd thinking and expression, to be corrected, must be kept out of the White House. Bad enough, though not uncommon, that they're already present in the US Senate.


Nature Without Nurture: Pinker vs. Dalrymple

The contrast between a felt and lived reality—in this case, Pinker’s need to speak and write standard English because of its superior ability to express complex ideas—and the denial of it, perhaps in order to assert something original and striking, is characteristic of an intellectual climate in which the destruction of moral and social distinctions is proof of the very best intentions....The Gift of Language, Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal, Fall issue

A problem with contemporary science, especially in areas such as linguistics, in which Stephen Pinker is considered a leading light, is the inversion of method, where, in a manner similar to a medeaval alchemist, a researcher will posit a thesis, then seek out supporting evidence at the exclusion of anything that might disprove his or her idea. Pinker has pitched the notion for years, as has his mentor-in-science Noam Chomsky, that language is solely an internal matter with human beings, a genetically driven tool that requires no education. Frankly, only an Ivy League chieftan could come up with an idea like this, someone who has had no exposure to the impact of ignorance on language and thought. Smiling at colleagues in a faculty lounge, such a person is in the perfect environment to ignore the possibility that such a notion, that language needs no teacher or mentor, is as fabulous as an alchemist's presumption that gold can be transmuted from lead. Dalrymple, for decades in the field as a psychologist in areas of Britain where ignorance, violence, and official corruption (not to mention official delusion) are rampant, is more akin to a real scientist. His thesis, that language, while a genetically-driven tool, requires teachers and mentors, not to mention diverse and intense reading and writing, is built on data, not on political assumptions (see Chomsky).

With a very limited vocabulary, it is impossible to make, or at least to express, important distinctions and to examine any question with conceptual care. My patients often had no words to describe what they were feeling, except in the crudest possible way, with expostulations, exclamations, and physical displays of emotion. Often, by guesswork and my experience of other patients, I could put things into words for them, words that they grasped at eagerly. Everything was on the tip of their tongue, rarely or never reaching the stage of expression out loud. They struggled even to describe in a consecutive and logical fashion what had happened to them, at least without a great deal of prompting. Complex narrative and most abstractions were closed to them....(Gift of Language, continued....)

In fact, Dalrymple notes, the evidence suggests that the lax pedagogy today regarding writing, speaking and thinking skills is nothing less than an acceptance of rigid classifications of people, i.e., into groups such as those who are capable of writing, speaking and thinking clearly and those who are not. This immediately calls to mind a similar approach in 19th century Mexico by President Puerifoy Diaz.

Diaz, frustrated by the incapacity of his government to deal with poor and angry peasants, and especially with those of Mayan, Toltec and Inca stock, was encouraged to bring in a group of experts, which were called cientificos. They were an early generation of sociologist and urban planners. Their overall prescription for the problem was not very different from that chosen by Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s regarding black Americans. The cientificos, enlightened by the acquisition of Ph.D.'s in a variety of areas, opined as follows: these people aren't capable of dealing with complex ideas, motivations and actions. The best, the most humane, solution for their condition of poverty and violence is to bribe them with welfare payments. Trouble is, Dalrymple notes, even that reduced state is not served by a lack of trained facility in language.

In their dealings with authority, they were at a huge disadvantage—a disaster, since so many of them depended upon various public bureaucracies for so many of their needs, from their housing and health care to their income and the education of their children. I would find myself dealing on their behalf with those bureaucracies, which were often simultaneously bullying and incompetent; and what officialdom had claimed for months or even years to be impossible suddenly, on my intervention, became possible within a week. Of course, it was not my mastery of language alone that produced this result; rather, my mastery of language signaled my capacity to make serious trouble for the bureaucrats if they did not do as I asked. I do not think it is a coincidence that the offices of all those bureaucracies were increasingly installing security barriers against the physical attacks on the staff by enraged but inarticulate dependents....(The Gift of Language, continued...)

It is true that Pinker's thesis about language is something of an antidote to the notion favored on the Left that everything in human life is determined by nurture. This is patent idiocy of course. One cannot nurture a blob of mud and expect it to become a human being, though there are many on the Left who believe so. But it is also patent idiocy to say that we are born with everything we will ever need to cope with and flourish in a complicated world. As such, Dalrymple suggests, Pinker's antidote is no better than the disease it is intended to attack. How he suggests this is a fine example of how trained usage in a language can devastate fallacy.

I need hardly point out that Pinker doesn’t really believe anything of what he writes, at least if example is stronger evidence of belief than precept. Though artfully sown here and there with a demotic expression to prove that he is himself of the people, his own book is written, not surprisingly, in the kind of English that would please schoolmarms. I doubt very much whether it would have reached its 25th printing had he chosen to write it in the dialect of rural Louisiana, for example, or of the slums of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Even had he chosen to do so, he might have found the writing rather difficult. I should like to see him try to translate a sentence from his book that I have taken at random, “The point that the argument misses is that although natural selection involves incremental steps that enhance functioning, the enhancements do not have to be an existing module,” into the language of the Glasgow or Detroit slums....(The Gift Of Language, continued....)

We live in a time when, thanks as much to educators as to our own laziness, fallacies are a staple of even educated opinion. There's only one way to overcome that, to take our undeniably natural language abilities and, by training, example, and trial, turn them into skills. When one is skilled in language, that implies familiarity with logic, the principal tool of reason, and with the capacity to express temporal change, which is the basis of narrative. Combining those encourages a beautiful and emergent order, well-expressed thought. With faith, competent thought is one of the few tools available to keep us from plunging into the abyss.