Newly Discovered Screwtape Letter!

Thursday, November 20, AD 2008

What follows here is the first of a new batch of letters written by that infamous demon, Screwtape, who was immortalized in a collection put together by the late C.S. Lewis.

. . .

My Dear Wormwood,

When last I had written you, I had assumed that you had everything well in hand with your patient, and so I am dismayed to find this hastily scribbled note of panic. All seems lost, you say. Your patient has turned away from all the pleasures that sexual iniquity can provide and has dedicated himself to a chaste life, and thus has made himself nigh unassailable to our devices. I must say that I am disappointed, Wormwood, not that any mismanagement on your part has led to this setback (though we will discuss that in due time), but that you are so quick to cry defeat. The Enemy ever persists in granting his graces to these featherless bipeds, so you must remember that our work is never done as long as the patient lives.

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One Response to Newly Discovered Screwtape Letter!

  • I eagerly look forward to the next newly discovered Screwtape letter courtesy of the Infernal Post Office. I understand there may be some letters also from the hitherto silent Wormword, but since the efficiency of the postal service of the nether regions is somewhat akin to that of some terrestrial postal services it may take a while before the musings of the hapless Wormwood may finally come to light.

3 Responses to Geekier Than Thou

Sexual Selection and Modern Dating

Wednesday, November 19, AD 2008

The other day my beautiful wife emailed me a link to this City Journal article entitled “Love in the Time of Darwinism” by Kay S. Hymowitz about the selective pressures which the modern dating environment places on the mating pool. It seems the same author had written another article earlier this year entitled “Child-Man in the Promised Land” about the phenomenon of single men in their twenties and even thirties who, rather than shouldering the “grown up” interests of their forefathers a generation or two before, linger in an extended adolescence of playing video games, watching cartoons and gross-out comedies, and seeking only uncommitted sex rather than marriage on the dating scene. In response to this first article, the author had received numerous emails from young men informing her that the reason that they behaved that way was essentially that the actions of the women on the dating scene left them little other choice. Hymowitz sums up their reaction this way:

Their argument, in effect, was that the SYM [single young male] is putting off traditional markers of adulthood—one wife, two kids, three bathrooms—not because he’s immature but because he’s angry. He’s angry because he thinks that young women are dishonest, self-involved, slutty, manipulative, shallow, controlling, and gold-digging. He’s angry because he thinks that the culture disses all things male. He’s angry because he thinks that marriage these days is a raw deal for men.

And so this article is basically an investigation into how accurate this complaint is.

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16 Responses to Sexual Selection and Modern Dating

  • I can only say that this article describes perfectly the dating/hookup culture of my junior high, high school, college (at a Catholic college), and grad school years.

    It also conforms with my first decade of life in the workforce. While I was married and settling down, I was surrounded by coworkers a decade older than myself for whom life revolved around puerile humor, the quest for physical gratification, and ever more exotic diversions from the essential emptiness of existence.

    I realize that anecdotal evidence isn’t dispositive. But my observations for the last 15-20 years are accurately summarized in this article.

  • This culture is not a subculture, but the norm as far as I have ever seen it for those in their 20’s and 30’s. As a 29 year old male, this is the sort of thing that I am bombarded with on TV, in ads, in magazines and more importantly at the workplace and in the classrooms.

    Even for those who seemingly reject it and get married, unless they understand the evil of it, they will still live it out as far as they are able in their conversations and probably their fantasies.

    You make a lot of good points about the problems with this approach and I completely agree with you except to say that the roots of the problem are deep. If you doubt this I would challenge you to page through any issue of Maxim Magazine or Cosmopolitan.

    The traditional understanding of men and women, their roles, and how they should interact is completely forgotten and young men and women have to rediscover it. This can only be done with great effort because of the scars we all have, and the poison we are being fed.

  • It seems to me there are two different things going on here. For some men, this type of activity is a transitional phase that lasts anywhere from their mid 20’s to their late 30’s. Others, however, simply give up on the idea of marriage altogether (Hymowitz cites a study indicating 22% of those interviewed show a strong aversion to marriage). If observation of class-mates and siblings is any guide, there is a lot of chaos in terms of dating expectations, and people develop different strategies to manage it.

    I had a conversation with a 40 year-old co-worker several years ago who assured me that ‘when he did get married, it would last,’ although that was not going to anytime soon. I thought, but did not say, that the vow ‘until death do you part’ would probably keep getting easier to keep with every passing year. In any case, I think the article inevitably over-dramatizes the situation, but touches on some important aspects of the current dating culture.

  • Good post, Darwin.

    As you noted, it’s hardly Darwinian–the drive remains but the effect frequently falls short of reproductive success. Not much of a survival strategy, is it?

    I often wonder what happened –while young adult promiscuity was common enough during my salad days, I think that ol’ Darwinian bonding impulse still had a strong pull on the culture–including (if to a lesser degree) the male of the species. Most of the gals (and many of the guys) I knew then didn’t bedhop purely as a form of recreation; if they weren’t all practicing continence until marriage there was at least the recognition of sex as bond and engaging in it triflingly wasn’t thought of very highly.

    While “women don’t know what they want, so we act like animals” is a sorry excuse, I think there is a grain of truth to it. Young people today have as a group been underexposed to self-restraint and fidelity and overexposed (at increasingly young ages) to sex divorced from its moral or emotional aspects and to sex as a means of exploiting others (and the girls, having more maturity and emotional control, can be as much or more the offenders in that regard.) In other words, my generation and the one just previous have done a poor job of setting the example (high divorce rates, serial “monogamy,”) and pop culture promotes the tomcat lifestyle as normal. I’ve encountered young teens who whiled away their idle time with Mom’s porn video collection or the soaps or whatever filth was on HBO while parents were off chasing their latest flame–with that background, we can hardly expect a healthy and holistic view of sexuality.

    As a feminist, I’m troubled by the view (not merely a perception of my own as I’ve read plenty of remarks made by young women that confirm it) that equates immodesty, promiscuity, and consequence-free sex with female power. All this time I thought the struggle was for fair pay, respectful treatment, equality before the law, and educational access: to be more than sex objects. Then along come these kids who never had to do without those claiming the right to be nothing more than sex objects in the name of liberation. It’s a concept that can only harm them as persons and will ultimately undo any good that feminism has ever done.

  • The summary of this essay is- There Are No Rules. I want what’s mine. Whatever Mine may be on any given evening. Remember, many of those in the Hook Up Culture are children of divorce. Used to having Weekends With Daddy, if that much. Or horrible screaming fights leading to protracted divorce cases. Seven years ago, I was in a Chinese restaurant with mutual acquaintances. Each person had multiple personal stories about divorce, abandonment, disjointed families with multiple half-siblings. To which I went- gulp. Mom and Dad married happily for 45 years until Dad shed this mortal veil. Three younger sisters who married three terrific guys- actually four, but poor Tom succumbed to effects of Agent Orange while serving in ‘Nam. Six terrific nieces and nephews. Oh that’s right I lived in a comfortable Catholic bubble until time for the humongous urban circus that was Temple University in the mid 70s. Boy was I fortunate. Boy was I the oddball in the bunch.

  • This analysis described my college experience perfectly.

    I was too timid to date, not sure what was expected of me at all. It’s not just the men though, but the women too. My wife pursued a relationship with me because she knew what my values were and that there wouldn’t be expectations of sexual activity.

    If young adults with family values are the majority, they are indeed a silent majority. Most of them are shying away from relationships and dating because the loud, promiscuous, substance abusing crowd causes so much confusion. The “good” kids have a lot of friends but rarely date.

    Sadly, my brother (23) has fallen into the video games and garage bands cess pool. I’m not blaming women entirely, but I think that the behavior described in this article is definitely a contributing factor.

  • I’m 29, so I certainly saw the hookup culture at some of the colleges I looked at, and heard about it from friends who went the secular college route.

    With the exception of some of the middle-aged salesmen who frequented parties at the Playboy Mansion at the company I worked for in LA, I haven’t run into it so much in the working world. Among people my own age it seems like I’d mostly run into:

    a) Women who had been living with the same guy for some time and couldn’t seem to understand why he had no interest in getting married. (Or on the flip side, guys living with their girlfriends who claimed to be perplexed as to why their girlfriends were so obsessed with marriage.)

    b) Nice guys who were unmarried and complained they could never find any sane single women.

    c) Young married professionals who were waiting till their mid thirties to have those one or two kids — or who insisted that they were so overwhelmed taking care of their dogs they couldn’t imagine having kids.

    d) Other people with what I think of as “normal” married lives with several kids — who invariably turn out to be very involved in their churches, often Evangelical but sometimes Catholic.

    The big problem for our culture in the modern US, though, is that all media outlets seems totally focused around the have-sex-with-anyone-you-date-for-more-than-five-minutes culture, and the commonly portrayed alternative is the family made up of a smart alec wife, a overweight and stupid husband, two bratty kids and some interfering in-laws. Regardless of how frequent these two alternatives are, the fact that they’re portrayed as normal by all our cultural outlets has got to be causing a lot of damage to people who are not already getting a strong positive example through some other means.

  • Two statements. The first is that I have seen quite a bit of the happy-go-lucky sex culture myself, both here at college, and when I worked a summer at construction. By no means did a majority look for rampant promiscuity, but a visible minority had no problem discussing girls they picked up one night, only to discard them the next day.

    The second is in reply to one of the concluding statements:

    I don’t see how it could be sustainable. It’s a culture which one can only bring new people into the world by leaving, and as such it seems like something that would naturally burn itself out fairly quickly.

    The answer here, I think, is virus. By themselves, viruses cannot reproduce, but once they latch onto a host and convert a particular cell into a factory, they can make many more of themselves (which in turn cannot reproduce without invading some other host).

    Whenever I think that that the culture of promiscuity is going to die out after a couple more generations, I remember the virus thing. The promiscuity culture waits for the non-promiscuous to reproduce, and then it infects some of the offspring, thus guaranteeing its propagation through yet another generation, and another, and another.

    Now, how to make a vaccine…

  • Eh. I say it sounds like immature young men enjoying every minute of their freedom and conveniently blaming women for their “confusion”. I dated my wife for 5 years (because we met in high school and I didn’t want to be married until I had a degree and a job.) If I hadn’t met her until we were 25, it would have taken me all of three months to propose. That’s not to say there wouldn’t have been other women to date and discern. But when a confident young Catholic knows what he’s looking for, and uses a little common sense and knows where to look for it (NOT at a bar), it should be pretty easy to discover pretty quickly whether she would be a good wife. Shacking up for two years because you’re “just not sure” is total BS.

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  • will ultimately undo any good that feminism has ever done.

    that horse left the barn long ago with abortion and free love.

  • I can tell you from first hand experience that the culture is definitely real and exists for pretty much all singles in their twenties that have not already entered into a long term relationship. You say that the culture is unsustainable because it’s a culture which one can only bring new people into the world by leaving. First of all, it is not a true anthropological “culture” of persons so your existential math is not applicable to it. The culture of “Children” is also not capable of creating new members but the population of children has not declined now has it? The culture is really more a sub-culture. I believe your real question is whether or not this is a lasting sub-culture for it’s individual members and whether or not this sub-culture will go extinct due to darwinian forces because so many of it’s members have a low reproductive rate. Answer #1: no. Members of this subculture will leave it eventually because they lack sexual currency. Answer #2: maybe. Some parts of this subculture will very slowly go extinct because of it’s low reproductive rate but other parts of it have a higher than replacement rate reproductive rate due to the prevalence of single mothers.

    Also, let me say that I disagree with the author in his contention that men are becoming a sort of overgrown adolescent as a form of protest to the wrongs committed to them by women. I do not find that this is the case. I come from a conservative background and had many 1950’s style ideas about dating in my head when I was younger. I have found that being a more responsible, mature, and committal man to women makes oneself extremely unattractive to them. The reason men have become grown adolescents is because that is what women have come to expect and desire. More mature men are considered boring and “lame” by the modern single girl/woman. A man that follows old school dating protocol seems like a prehistoric relic and a completely socially inept person to the modern woman. Also, the women themselves do NOT want to commit until they are damn well ready. And when such a time comes, she will try to turn one of her immature male peers into a more steadfast person. If she succeeds, she will be glad but also secretly disappointed that she was able to cow her man. The adaptation of men to this modern reality is darwinian in the sense that it is something that has evolved randomly in order to gain more success. And also, there’s actually less sex going on than you would think. Hookups happen but since neither party is committed, there are long time spans between hookups. Serial monogamers probably have more sex but fewer partners.

  • “The culture of “Children” is also not capable of creating new members but the population of children has not declined now has it?”

    Actually it has as many industrialized nations are now below replacement rates in the number of births.

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/150160

  • Also, let me point something out to those of you that haven’t already heard about it in the news.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2004-06-02-japan-women-usat_x.htm

    http://www.halfsigma.com/2009/07/herbivore-men-in-japan.html

    Japanese bithrates and plunging and relations between young men and young women are disintegrating. What’s happening there is a more extreme version of what’s happening here.

    I think that a lot of what’s happening is due several factors:
    Less social pressure to get marry.
    It’s easier to financially survive on your own with the rising GDP/capita of the modern world.
    Men are less attractive to women.

    The last one is interesting and exemplified in Japan. I would say that there are very few men that the average japanese women finds attractive and the reason has nothing to do with looks. Japanese men are too nice and unagressive for even the polite and unagressive japanese girls.

    The truth is, women do not like equality when it comes their mate choices. They want men who have higher social positions and are more personally socially powerful than themselves. I believe that the liberation of women was a good thing for moral reasons but women have failed to pay their due and adjust their preferences in men now that they are much more the equal of men.

  • One of my co-workers is a 27 year old evangelical Christian. She went to college on both an athletic and an academic scholarship. She also happens to be extremely pretty. And yet, she sits at home most Saturday nights.

    She told me quite a while ago that she wants to be a virgin when she marries. That accounts for the solo Saturday nights. She has many first dates (some with men who claim to be Christians), but somehow they never call again. Of course, not all first dates work out. (Actually, I could write the book about horrible first dates). I doubt her moral values (which would have been expected 50 years ago) are helping her popularity in the dating scene circa 2009.

    I admire her steadfastness. I hope she soon meets a young man who admires and values her beliefs instead of thinking “Why should I waste money on a chick who won’t put out?”

  • I’ve read a lot of articles and blog posts and it seems the issue is an imbalance between the number of eligible men and eligible women.

    Note: the following is mainly applicable if there is an absence of traditional norms.

    Between high school and the 30s, there are more eligible women than men, with 80% of women in the market and 20% of men in the market. This 20% of men are known as the “alpha males” and women direct all of their attention to attracting these men. The other 80% of guys can play video games since they don’t have any value in the dating market and would lose even if they tried.

    The general tendency is a polygamy if these alpha men play the field and monogamy if these alpha men settle down.

Cutting the Leg Off a Stool?

Wednesday, November 19, AD 2008

The Republican Party is often described as a three-legged stool consisting of social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and foreign policy hawks. I had recently been encouraged by the moderate nature of some of Obama’s early appointments (e.g. retaining Joe Lieberman as Chair of Homeland Security, appointing Clinton for Secretary of State, talk of retaining Gates as Secretary of Defense). My thought was that these moves indicated a moderate streak in President-elect Obama that might translate into opposition to radical measures like the Freedom of Choice Act. Ross Douthat, in a characteristically smart
post, has caused me to reconsider, highlighting the dangers of Obama-the-foreign-policy-centrist for social conservatives:

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6 Responses to Cutting the Leg Off a Stool?

  • I’ve been a Republican since the age of 7 in 1964. If the Republican party is a three legged stool, social conservatives make up two of the three legs. Without social conservatives the Republican party would have slightly more electoral success than the Libertarian party.

    However the whole concept of fiscal conservatives, social conservatives and foreign policy hawks ignores the fact that many Republicans are all three: I certainly am for example. Reagan was a great leader for the Republican party because he embodied what most conservatives believe: less government, traditional values and strong defense. RINOS always capture press attention, but they are at their weakest in the party now than at any time I can recall.

    As for Obama, he may start out tough in foreign policy, probably too tough, but after the first disaster or two I think he will will come under increasing pressure from the Left to concentrate on domestic policy, slash defense spending, “come home america”, and will then refuse to confront our adversaries if he can kick the can down the road beyond his term. As with all Presidents in foreign policy he will not be a completely free actor, but if left alone I think he will be content to pursue the agenda of the Left here at home.

    The consideration of Clinton for Secretary of State might play into a retreat strategy abroad. Neutralize the biggest threat to him inside of his own party, and then make sure she has as little to do as possible.

  • “I’ve been a Republican since the age of 7 in 1964. ”

    Vote early, vote often, vote young, in Illinois, I guess ;-).

    “However the whole concept of fiscal conservatives, social conservatives and foreign policy hawks ignores the fact that many Republicans are all three: I certainly am for example.”

    I agree. It seems to me, though, that a lot of social conservatives automatically gravitate towards the other two legs without much reflection. For instance, K. Lopez over at NR when she said ‘McCain wasn’t with us on torture,’ which was pretty shocking – ‘who’s us?’ And there are significant tensions between SoCons and libertarians. At the same time, it seems to me that foreign policy hawks and libertarians who dislike social conservatives have a disproportionate role in political punditry vis-a-vis their actual influence in terms of votes.

  • “that foreign policy hawks and libertarians who dislike social conservatives have a disproportionate role in political punditry vis-a-vis their actual influence in terms of votes.”

    I certainly agree with that. They are chiefs with no braves. Actually if they were honest with themselves they would acknowledge it. In any mass gathering of Republicans it is always easy to see where the passion and the numbers are. The reaction of the GOP convention to Palin’s speech demonstrated once again where the heart of the Republican party resides.

  • I’m with Donald on being all three. I know we’re talking about the Republican Party and not conservatism more generally, but I would also argue that you can’t really be a conservative in any meaningful sense without being socially conservative. Now, there can be disagreements about specific policies, but generally speaking, without the anchor of culture, family, and transcendent moral values, there’s nothing there. I would also add that anti-statist fiscal policy is also a must, but secondary, and there is wider room for specific policy disagreements. And I think foreign policy provides the greatest space for disagreement, because the term “muscular” foreign policy can mean a lot of different things.

    This is all a long way of saying that conservatism without social conservatism is not conservatism.

  • By the way, this is the first time I noticed that the timestamp on the comments contains “A.D” after the year. Nice touch.

  • Acvtually, AD should be written previous to the year. It can’t be written so quickly though: November 20th in the Year of Our Lord 2008, or November 20th anno Domini 2008, or November 20th A.D. 2008

10 Responses to Kulturkampf Time

  • I think Fr. Neuhaus is occasionally more provocative than he needs to be (see, e.g., ‘The End of Democracy’ in 1996), and I think this may be one of those cases. Obama promised to sign FOCA at one point during his campaign, but I do not think he wants to, nor do the House Democrats in red states. HIs point about Catholics needing to be against the culture in many respects is true, but it has been true for a long time.

  • JH- Padre Neuhaus is spot on. A bumpy ride is coming for orthodox Catholics, fundamentalist/evangelical Christians, Orthodox Jews, etc. by bunch of folks who hate what they stand for and want to enforce Big Gummint as state religion. Particularly on Life Issues. Padre says very little that we on most of this site and many others have chatted about since November 4. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Padre sees the weather map- and the storm clouds on the way.

  • We shall see John Henry. Personally, if anything I think Father Neuhaus is too optimistic about the forthcoming Obama administration. There was a bizarre cult-like atmosphere to his campaign and I believe there will be a bizarre cult-like atmosphere to his administration. I hope I am mistaken.

  • “I hope I am mistaken.”

    Me too. Just to clarify, I am skeptical that FOCA would pass, but I agree with the broader point that it is harder for pro-life Catholics to make inroads on the culture when the President and both Houses of Congress are hostile to the pro-life position. This was a point that I tried to make frequently over at Vox Nova; one does not bring the culture in closer alignment with Catholic Social Teaching by voting for people committed to marginalizing pro-life voices. To be fair, no candidate is perfect, but some (like Obama) are worse than others.

  • While I agree with JH regarding how Obama might currently have lukewarm feelings toward signing FOCA immediately (even though he has stated otherwise), I think Donald is right here concerning the Obamists. The bizarre cult-like followers of Obama-ism will undoubtedly push very heavily for FOCA and similar legislation regarding abortion, and I’m afraid that the Obama administration will cave-in.

  • Well said, JH. I think the odds of FOCA passing are better than 50%. However, there are many other means of assaulting life here and abroad that Obama can and will mostly act upon. Oddly enough I’m beginning to think that the assault on life is going to look different than it did pre-election. I’m thinking more along the lines of using a time of crisis to institute radical policies that directed against natural and constitutional liberties – all under the guise of the “common good”. Predicting anything certain is beyond me, I think he is a genuine socialist radical underneath his empty platitudes and crafted image (yes, I’m cynical about him), however, the reality of the office and of politics could serve to temper anything he would have chosen to do. On the other hand, there’s plenty of harm he could accomplish due to the despair of the population, the willing propaganda tool of the MSM, and utterly uncritical thinking of his supporters. We’ve seen these factors before…

  • It’s only going to be a battle if the Church will take part, otherwise, it’ll once again be rolling over for the Democrats.

    If it’s really to be a culture war, a lot of old dogs are going to have to learn some new tricks. Among these will have to be emphasizing the Church’s teaching on life issues, in season and out.

    It was wonderful seeing so many bishops emphasizing this issue these past few months, but they should have been doing so the past four years, if they wanted to prevent a pro-abort victory this year.

  • Unless the lameduck Congress manages to pass FOCA in the next 2 months (not likely), FOCA will probably not be Pres-elect Obama’s first blow in the kulturkampf.

    We should also focus on the very real possibility that Obama will reverse standing executive orders that ban federal funds for 1) ESCR that uses new cell lines, and 2) for foreign orgs. that perform abortions or provide counseling on abortion.

  • Paul,

    I am not disagreeing with you, but they shouldn’t have done it 4 years ago… they should have been doing it for the last 30 years!

    Can you imagine if our bishops were protesting at abortion clinics… I’m not talking about 1 or 2 bishops, but 100s of them in their dioceses….constantly… as if it was a civil rights movement for life?… across our country. This election would not have happened… this culture would not be in the shape it is in.. and this reckless idea of this seamless garment garbage would not be known.

  • I would not be surprised to see him sign FOCA into law fairly quickly as an attempt to quell the rising dissatisfaction of the radical leftist faction that supported him. Then…on to the courts…

5 Responses to Friend of the Unborn

11 Responses to CNN Wolf Blitzer's "Diatribe" of Cardinal Stafford

  • I finally decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

  • Since my sensitive eyes do not partake of cable teevee honkers, I

  • …..missed the Blitzer misrepresentation. And I go so what no institution gets worse media coverage than Holy Mama Church. Comes with the requisite Obama worship. My advice to all those who are aggrieved by the Blitzer blitz- satellite. radio. My XM has many and varied music channels. Just added great new ones from new parent company Sirius. My own favorite- brace yourselves…… The Grateful Dead Channel. 24/7 music from a band whose leader- Jerry Garcia of blessed memory- clearly deserves rank in the pantheon of Lennon/McCartney, Brian Wilson, Motown geniuses, Gamble/Huff here in Philly. Two hours of their music = supreme bliss. There will be enough sturm und drang in next few years. A blast of the Dead and life gets better. Oh- also has the superfine Catholic Channel, too. Father Dave is a hoot. Learn about your faith. Better than griping about MSM.

  • Since my sensitive eyes do not partake of cable teevee honkers…

    Actually there’s a channel that accommodates those of us with sensitive eyes and common sensibility. Perhaps you could tune into Fox News especially between 1:00 and 3:00 PM. Martha McCallum is so soothing to eyes that she could inform you that the world will come to an end in two hours and you’d be happy. Then again, maybe that’s just me…

  • It’s not just that Wolf occasionally veers from good stabdards oif journalists. He is actually a bad journalist. He doesn’t even know how to ask questions that can reasonably be answered, and virtually all his questions are begging for a specific, channeled response. This is actually true all around and really has been for some time.

    Perhaps it has always been this way.

    “The inadequate and biased transmission of news, and the profitable dissemination of nonsense, barred the general public from any intelligent or concerted participation in politics, and made democracy impossible.”

    – Will Durant, on newspapers of the 17th century, in The Age of Reason Begins

  • How significant were the Obama-related remarks in the cardinal’s speech? It seems to me like he dedicated a few minutes to current events, compared to the fifty minutes dedicated to general theological concerns. Did the CUA newspaper and the rest of the press seize on the political aspects?

  • Gerard,

    I share your sympathies about television in general. I don’t have cable but I picked up this tidbit of information from Matthew Balan of NB. I’ve stopped watching tv in general with the exception of two comedies to be named later.

  • Tito- my sensitive eyes largely confine themselves to pigskin stuff. Cannot wait for upcoming SEC championship scrum between Florida and Alabama. Major heavyweight bout, 4 rounds or TKO. Winner sure to play Big 12 South winner in BCS Game- TexTech, Oklahoma or Texas. Serious fun. But you you may ask but G.E. you’re Pennsylvanian why antipathy for Penn State? Simple. Am proud alum of Temple University, major urban institution. Penn State is 500 miles from nowhere. Nit Lions regularly pound my Owls, including 45-3 beatdown this past October in Happy Valley. Thanks to Iowa Hawkeyes for 24-23 field goal win over Nits. Insures- a. Hawkeye Coach Kirk Ferentz keeps job; b. We get SEC Winner vs. Big 12 South Winner, with Heisman Trophy Winner at QB (Harrell of TexTech? McCoy of Texas? Oklahoma’s Bradford?) Let PSU partisans point their Winnebegos to lovely Pasadena and Rose Bowl against worthy Pac 10 foe- probably Oregon State with Coolest Name In Sports- freshman pheenom Jaquizz Rodgers. Will Beaver fans offer novenas to St. Jaquizz?

  • I’m partial to OU, brothers coach of my alma mater Arizona. So I’m hoping for an OU run to the national title game.

    Other than that, I read Catholic material via the hardcover variety and digital.

  • “We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand.

    “In the present order of things, Divine Providence is leading us to a new order of human relations which, by men’s own efforts and even beyond their very expectations, are directed toward the fulfillment of God’s superior and inscrutable designs. And everything, even human differences, leads to the greater good of the Church.”

    John XXIII

  • Terry- does that mean that God wants a Florida-Texas Tech shootout in the BCS championship game?

How To Argue About Roe

Tuesday, November 18, AD 2008

One of the most common complaints directed at pro-lifers is that they are trying to overturn a Supreme Court decision that is popular with the American public. In one respect, this is a fair point. Roughly sixty percent of the country, when asked, says that they would not support overturning Roe. At the same time, roughly 2/3 of people say they would prefer the type of ‘stricter limits’ on abortion that are barred by Roe and Casey.

Noting this disconnect, Peter Suderman recently suggested that pro-lifers should focus on framing Roe as a barrier to compromise on abortion.

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3 Responses to How To Argue About Roe

  • This coming right after “How Obama Got Elected” keeps a particular theme going. People hear names, have a vague idea (if that) of what the names mean, and know very little about any content. People think of Roe v Wade as maybe a victory in the matter of civil rights, as oppose to fervent protection of abortion. Phrasing the issue properly has always been a political matter. Consider the election: Obama continually phrased the issue of a McCain presidency as four more years of Bush, four more years of “failed” economic policies. Or consider Prop 8 in California. You can phrase that as either “protecting the sanctity of marriage” or as “a fundamentalist Christian attempt to deny civil rights to United States citizens.” Which message takes hold will influence people, regardless of the actual content of the candidate or bill.

    It reminds me of the petition spread around to ban “dihydrogen monoxide” because of all the adverse affects it has. Because it was phrased as petition to fight against a grave danger, people signed onto it without any consideration of what the petition was actually about–banning water.

    Ah, our sound-bite culture. Please don’t make an issue last for more than thirty-seconds, because that’s all the thought we can put into it.

  • You make a good point Ryan. Our culture being what it is, I think we need to try and make a more forceful 30 second sound-bite. For a long time, we have emphasized the humanity of fetuses (which is the central point to emphasize). However, ideally I think we would have a two-part argument: 1) Abortion is wrong, 2) Our current abortion laws are a barrier to compromise. The second point is hard for pro-lifers to say because, honestly, this is a human rights issue so compromises are unsatisfactory.

    That said, if we are going to move the opinion poll numbers (and thus politicians) against Roe, we need to emphasize more the extreme nature of Roe, rather than being too easily written off as extremists ourselves. I think this is a difficult balance to strike in practice, though.

How Obama Got Elected

Tuesday, November 18, AD 2008

Thanks to the above video and this wonderful site we now have some answers.  The Zogby poll on the website is pretty scary as to the level of voter knowledge.  However most of the media was so far in the tank for Obama that I find it hard to blame voters for lacking knowledge as to many pieces of negative information about the President-Elect during the campaign.

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15 Responses to How Obama Got Elected

  • Scary, yes, but I’d like to see a similar poll to learn what McCain supporters knew about McCain. I honestly think that most people, regardless of who they support, are well informed. That might be a bias, but it comes from a general apathy I’ve seen from people around me. There’s a few ideals they cling to, a few slogan’s they’ve heard, and that’s it.

  • Shock jock Howard Stern has Obama supporters interviewed and attributes McCain positions to Obama in the interviews.

    http://justgetthere.us/blog/archives/Howard-Stern-Interviews-Clueless-Obama-Supporters.html

  • Reminds me of the interviews in which voters said they strongly supported Obama’s choice of Sarah Palin as VP, and thought that Obama was right to be pro-life.

  • Oh. Yeah, what Donald said. 🙂

  • I think the video is amusing/depressing, but the title of the post over-sells it. Sure, the media was in the tank for Obama; 70% of the public acknowledged it in a survey, but he probably still would have won given Bush’s unpopularity and the financial crisis.

  • I honestly think that most people, regardless of who they support, are well informed.

    Sadly, no.

  • I would like to agree with John Henry, but such surveys as typified by Zogby’s do give me pause. Are we reaching a point in this country where education is so poor and ignorance so deep that our election of president is based almost entirely on charisma, especially when a favored candidate is protected by a media which has, in effect, sworn fealty to him? I recall another vignette from this election where a fellow wanted to vote for the pro-life anti-abortion candidate, but lacked knowledge as to the positions of Obama and McCain on the issue. In the face of such jaw-dropping invincible ignorance I am moved both to laughter and tears.

  • Remember boys and girls- the vast majority of our fellow Amurricans are not politics junkies as we. Perfectly content to watch football/shop at supermarket/raise younguns without benefit of political knowledge. Or will reply in matters of controversy Oh They’re All The Same. Consider how the Political Elite has pushed themselves ever further between selves and Most Amurricans. They and their MSM Acolytes. Dismayed by the sight of well-dressed businesspersons trekking to Capitol Hill, tin cups in hand. But hey they may ask if my kid wants to open up a lemonade stand I might given them pitcher pieces of wood and lemonade mix and he’s on his own. And that’s true. But The Elite must feed its own. Not sure when the cycle will end. But some of peeps really are doofuses, to be honest.

  • I honestly think that most people, regardless of who they support, are well informed.

    Sadly, no.

    Dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang, dang. My unfortunate tendency to leave out “not” when I write trips me up yet again. I mean to say that most are NOT well-informed. Thanks for calling me on that, blackadderiv.

  • Though the conservative in me would like to imagine that “it’s not the way it used to be” — do you think think is much different from how things were thirty or fifty or a hundred years ago?

    Did people actually have a clear idea of JFK’s abilities and policies, or did he win on charisma?

    Did FDR’s overwhelming majorities actually have a decent idea of how good a job he was doing, or was it image first?

    Heck, even going back to when the voter base was much smaller and presidential voting was less direct: Was Jackson’s victory (the first truly populist campaign in the US) really based on his positions and abilities, or on enthusiasm and “hype”?

    Maybe it’s some of each: modern elections have become even more shallow, but our republican has never been as thoughtful and informed as one might like. Or perhaps it’s ways been like this, just in different ways in different eras.

  • Good points Darwin, although the Lincoln-Douglas debates would be a good argument to the contrary. Flash and charisma are advantages in any era, but I do think our time period, as a result of technology and less attention to public affairs by a growing portion of the public, is especially prone to electoral victories by personality rather than electoral victories by positions.

  • Pingback: Roe As A Barrier to Compromise « The American Catholic: Politics and Culture from a Catholic perspective
  • Speaking of Obama’s election, I just confirmed this evening that I’m attending the inauguration on January 20th.

  • “Was Jackson’s victory (the first truly populist campaign in the US) really based on his positions and abilities, or on enthusiasm and ‘hype’?”

    You’re doubtless correct, Darwin, but don’t forget that his poor suffering wife Rachel got the Sarah Palin treatment squared from the other side. Or maybe I should say that Palin got the 20th-century version of the Rachel Jackson treatment?

4 Responses to Father Major General

Andrew Sullivan's Rage

Monday, November 17, AD 2008

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Seems as if last weeks lecture by Cardinal Stafford at CUA where he referenced President-elect Obama’s presidential campaign as “apocalyptic” has gotten Church dissenter and gay activitist Andrew Sullivan all hot and bothered:

“The Vatican hierarchy has become radicalized under Benedict and John Paul II– so much so that they see the West since the 1960s as entirely a creature of resistance to Humanae Vitae, the papal declaration that all non-procreative sex is a moral evil.  But the notion that the recent election of Obama is a sign of the Apocalypse has, until now, been restricted to Protestant loonies. Until now…”

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11 Responses to Andrew Sullivan's Rage

Rescue Packages & the Automobile Industry (II)

Monday, November 17, AD 2008

Last week, I questioned the wisdom of Congress making investments investors are unwilling to make in the automobile industry. Responding to similar arguments by smarter people, Jonathan Cohn suggested (citing a report showing productivity improvements in Big 3 factories) that the Big 3 are in the process of turning around, and that the bailout would help these companies complete the transition to profitability. Jim Manzi has posted a fairly devastating rebuttal to Cohn’s arguments. Here is an excerpt from Manzi’s response:

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How Do You Turn a Culture

Monday, November 17, AD 2008

It has been widely observed that the only real way to achieve change on various issues which straddle the moral-legal-cultural arenas is by “changing the culture”.  Drawing from the past: although segregation was theoretically made illegal fairly early on in the civil rights movement, it was not until the cultural consensus swung heavily against segregation that it really started to vanish in practice.  Similarly, if dueling were suddenly made legal in the modern US, I rather doubt it would suddenly become frequent in social sets that are not already known for shooting each other — we have reached a cultural consensus that swords or pistols at first light are not an acceptable means of settling arguments.

Yet how does one change the cultural consensus on an issue such as abortion, the nature of marriage, etc.?

Moral conservatives are often accused of “only caring about political means” when it comes to dealing with the great moral controversies of the day. And yet the advantage of advocating change within the political arena is that it’s clear how one does it. How does one work to change the culture as regards to the acceptability of abortion? Or the morality of gay marriage? Or any of the other pressing questions which provide fodder for the “culture wars”.

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13 Responses to How Do You Turn a Culture

  • 1) Start locally. Teach your children well. They may not end up agreeing with you (as my sister disagrees with my parents quite a bit on issues of sexuality and culture), but one of the biggest reasons for falling into the trap of the secular culture is not having a firm grasp on why particular things are wrong.

    2) Don’t alienate people who have different views. Accept them as people, and find ways to converse with them. I have a few friends that are quite liberal minded about sexuality, and it has been a joy to be able to talk with them, even knowing we both agree. The best we can really hope for is set the message out there. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

    3) Participate in social gatherings in the church. Maybe even try to start one of your own. It helps to keep the faithful faithful.

    4) Try to discuss with people the notion of: “It’s not how much I can get away with, but how good I can be.” This message can be applied anywhere from speeding, to downloading music (illegally) from the internet, to sexuality, and so on. The first part, the “how much can I get away with” is concupiscence talking. Try to stress that the slippery slope is, indeed, slippery. The second part, “how good can I be” is just practical. It means: not paying speeding tickets, more on car insurance, or any medical bills from accidents. It means: not having to hide anything from scrutiny. It certainly means: I don’t have to worry that she’ll come knocking on my family’s door with evidence of our indiscretion.

    5) Pray. Always always always always pray. God still works miracles in the hearts of men.

  • After having one too many pre-election Internet conversations with women who said they were Catholic and pro-choice (and voted for Guess Who), I thought a lot about this. With my wife and I not being able to add to our already ample brood, the 2 thoughts converged. If I adopted (and snatched that baby away from a pro-choice couple) I could add to the pro-life ranks. If a lot of Catholics did this we could change the culture. Catholics own the life issue and they are also the most generous when it comes to family size. If we could only be more generous and giving when it comes to adoptions and open our homes to those who are genetically not our own (not easy) , we could supply the pro-life cause a net benefit. I have yet to put my money where my mouth is but such are my thoughts as of late.

  • “What do you think are the most important means of “changing the culture” on the “culture war” issues?”

    I think Ryan covers most of the bases. For a variety of different reasons, the U.S. has never been a particularly Catholic culture; Catholicism has always cut against the individualist ethos that undergirds many of the culture war debates. The best way that we can work for change is to try to ensure that we are well-formed in and committed to our Faith. Social change is often instigated by dedicated communities of individuals or sub-cultures. We should work to form sub-cultures and communities which challenge and invite the broader community.

    At the same time, the success of our efforts is ultimately out of our control. Not many observers foresaw that just over fifty years after Brown v. Board of education we would be electing our first African-American President, but that the institution of marriage would be floundering. Cultural change is unpredictable, but we should nevertheless be prepared to take advantage of all available opportunities to protect the dignity of human life.

  • While I basically agree with the point that the best thing we can do is grow a healthy and self-reproducting sub-culture which passes on and lives out our beliefs — it strikes me that many people would find that answer overly complacant.

    “We’re suffering unprescidented slaughter of our most vulnerable, and the deconstruction of basic cultural institutions — and all you want to do is ignore it and raise our families?” might go the objection, strongly put.

    Maybe one of the basic illusions of a mass society is that if we’re not doing something that will somehow move our entire nation of 300 million people, we’re not doing anything.

    Still, I think the basic hunger is for answers on how to move the whole ship of state.

  • “Still, I think the basic hunger is for answers on how to move the whole ship of state.”

    I am sympathetic to the complaint, but I think it is borne of impatience and a particular type of laziness (not from you). It is hard work to build sub-cultures, to engage in dialogue, to patiently explain errors and distortions of your position. It is hard and discouraging work to support very flawed candidates in the hope (it’s not just for Obama supporters) that some progress will be made.

    A friend of mine just spent eight years in the Bush administration working to push forward the pro-life agenda in various ways with some modest success and many failures, and now a new administration will come in and undo most of what he’s worked to do. It would be nice if there was an easy solution that would make these difficulties go away, but I don’t think there is.

  • I agree with Ryan. I think living the Gospel in many respects is planting the seed for greatness.

  • I have long been an advocate of the points outlined above by Ryan Harkins.

    It struck me some years ago that using the tactics of Leftist agit-prop to engender a political/legal solution was to put too much faith in the powers of this world. Powers that, I don’t have to remind anyone here, are controlled by the Enemy.

  • “Maybe one of the basic illusions of a mass society is that if we’re not doing something that will somehow move our entire nation of 300 million people, we’re not doing anything.”

    I think this is right, and we should recognize it can be a benefit as well: there are quite a few people people anxious to influence all 300 million of us who I am quite glad have very limited influence.

  • I agree with Ryan and John… we need to be patient and recognize that all we can do is, well, all we can do. I think it’s not only more authentically Catholic but more authentically conservative to “go local” and look to what kind of impact we can have in our parishes, neighborhoods, school districts, etc. It certainly isn’t easy, and its fruits aren’t nearly as quickly or readily apparent as are those of political/legal action, but — by and large — they are longer-lasting.

    Concretly, how do we do this? DC, I recall a comment you made about helping your local SVdP chapter, which was in turn helping people pay their utilities, mortgages, etc…. I think we need to do things like this: work on building up deep and abiding parish communities that intentionally strive to engage at every level and in every sector of local society & culture. I happen to think that small faith sharing communities (think “base communities” out of Latin American, minus the off-target liberation theology) which have service & missionary components are one great way to go… we’ve got Advent coming up… maybe we can propose something like this in our parishes.

    FWIW.

  • It might also help a little to have national leaders spearhead a national dialogue over the contentious cultural issues.

  • With all due respect, Kyle, what exactly is a “national dialogue”? Individuals can have a dialogue, but I don’t understand how a nation can.

  • While I basically agree with the point that the best thing we can do is grow a healthy and self-reproducting sub-culture which passes on and lives out our beliefs — it strikes me that many people would find that answer overly complacant.

    Well, my points are certainly a place to start and not comprehensive by any means. And it is certainly important that we realize that we can always do more. The problem, though, is that we can’t ignore these seemingly smaller points. These are fundamental and have to come first.

    I know for myself that there’s a danger in wanting to focus on shifting the prevailing opinion of the whole nation. There’s a pride issue (or more specifically, an ego issue). If I can’t make a huge impact, why bother? Patience is a key when fighting this culture war, but we also need to be humble. We’re striving against a force, a predilection, that has been in place since the Fall and has persevered through the rise and fall of nation, through endless philosophers, theologians, and prophets, through the come of Christ Himself and the foundation of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church which is guided by the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying that we’re fighting a losing battle, or that we can’t make any gains, but it is important to keep in mind the magnitude of what we’re fighting against.

    I find it especially humbling to read about the history of Israel, in how, generation after generation the Jews rebelled against God, and how generation after generation God sent prophets to warn and invasion, plagues, and other disasters to chastise them. To our modern perspective, it is easy to roll our eyes at the foolishness of God’s chosen people, but we face the same dilemmas today. The sexual revolution is nothing new. It is concupiscence finding a toehold once again. The greediness of the wealthy, the flaunting of established tradition, the embracing of foreign and pagan religions–it has all been around before and will return in the future.

    In some respect, the Jews were fortunate, because they had God’s wrath dropping on them generation after generation, twitching them back onto the straight and narrow. For the most part, it seems we merely get to reap what we have sown.

    This is why no one should consider the small points of catechizing our children and evangelizing our fellow Catholics as complacency in the larger issue. First, it they are things we can do, and second, they are things we must do. Third, there is a real danger in wanting to focus only on the larger issue–the widespread cultural decay we’re all very aware of–because there is the desire to have one, quick fix that sets everything aright so that we can then get back to our humdrum lives.

  • Fair point, Darwin. Sloppy wording on my part. Anyhow, what I vaguely have in mind in speaking of a “national debate” is making use of modern media technology to broadcast actual debates, and I mean actual debates, among leaders and well-known personalities of movements defending or advancing cultural agendas. I imagine the best defenders of a viewpoint sitting down with the best defenders of alternative viewpoints for televised debates. If nothing else, it might expose people to arguments they haven’t heard before.

6 Responses to On Just Wages, Work, and CST (Part II)

  • The argument against the minimum wage is not so much that it violates the the sacred right of private property or freedom of contract as that (to the extent it has any effect at all) it serves to increase unemployment, and thus hurts the very people it is intended to benefit. You seem to recognize this (with your comment about the folly of just raising the minimum wage to the point where we can all live in luxury) but you don’t follow the reasoning through to its natural conclusion.

  • As BA said, I think the main question surrounding the minimum wage is whether it’s better to have more jobs that pay less or less jobs that pay more (with higher prices for everyone). I do not have a strong opinion either way on the answer, but I don’t think it is obvious that a minimum wage is always the best approach.

  • Yes, I did seem to forget to mention that vitally important aspect of minimum wage. For those who would like to read a little more on it, there’s an excellent post over at Catholic Exchange. I’ll see if I can’t do a little digging to have some facts on minimum wage increases and the harm it does to the economy when not handled well.

  • The utter nonsense of Catholic Social Teaching, with its implied socialist/totalitarian goals, is why I left the Church. It is this nonsense that impoverishes the backward nations of the world and enslaves a billion Chinese. No member of the hierachy has any concept whatever of economics or what elevates people above the feudal muck the Church is mired in.

  • Bob, that’s absolutely fascinating, especially considering that CST states:

    1) A well-regulated free market (one that has some oversight to prevent abuses like monopolistic price-jacking) is the most consistent with human nature, directly corresponding with man’s need and obligation to work for a living, man’s right to private property, and man’s interaction with his fellow man;

    2) Socialism is a grave evil

    3) Charity and the care for the poor and needy is best accomplished locally first, and from the state as only a last resort.

    If you left the Church because you felt it taught socialist and totalitarian goals, I suppose that’s okay, because those views are objectively wrong.

    They just aren’t what the Church teaches.

  • Bob – It seems to me that systemic corruption, a lack of respect for the rights of individuals, and a failure to consider the obligation we have to care for the weakest members of society is more characteristic of impoverished nations than an adherence to Catholic Social Teaching. There is very little evidence that Catholic Social Teaching is responsible for the enslavement of ‘a billion Chinese’ people.

3 Responses to Obama Worship

  • That article is hilarious, particularly given the source. I remember thinking Kurtz was one of the worst offenders a month or two ago.

  • For a few days following the election, no newspapers could be found after noon in our downtown section. No doubt folks who wanted permanent records of our President-Elect’s smashing victory- much as 52 per cent can be considered one. Now back to usual sales levels. Gobsmacked MSM will continue sending love poems to their new Messiah. But much as even the child will weary of too much candy, even the most devout faithful will request something resembling journalism. Seeing it here in Philly with austere budget proposed by Mayor Nutter- swept to current office on similar Love Train (OJays, 1974, recorded here in Philly.) Now grumbles and protests over slicing of budgets for neighborhood libraries and swimming pools. Particularly in both papers, just as gobsmacked for Nutter in ’07 as Obama this month. Pick your Messiahs carefully.

  • Obama is the annointed one: how many saw the hand clapping by the press at his first press conference after the election? So much for a neutral journalistic approach.

Palling Around With Terrorists-Take Two

Monday, November 17, AD 2008

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Well what do you know? Now that the election is over with unrepentant terrorist William Ayers admits to the New Yorker that his contacts with the “Obama circle”, his words, continued until, once again his words, his name became part of the “campaign maelstrom”. In a reissue this month of his memoirs Fugitive Days Ayers refers to Obama as a “family friend”. Too bad America in the last election had a media that seemed largely unable to do anything other than recycle Obama campaign releases. It will be very interesting to see the role that unrepentant terrorist Ayers plays behind the scenes in an Obama administration.

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