Of Christian Conservative Squishes

When ever two or three are gathered… (Olga Popova/Shutterstock)

In a comment on another thread, Matt in VA, who is not a Christian, says that Christian conservatives are a lot more co-opted by the culture they presume to critique than they think:

I live in a college town in the South where there are many college students in Bible study groups who come out of an evangelical Christian culture that is, of course, fairly common in the south, especially in the suburbs. They are often quite open about being Christian (meeting in large groups in the student center, etc.) and it’s a large part of their identity. And I’m sure many of them do believe orthodox things even on the subject of human sexuality and even while living in the context of a national culture hostile to orthodox belief on that subject.

And yet. Plenty of them really are soft squishes. There’s no doubt about that. These are the kind of kids and twentysomethings who go into marketing or whatever and tell themselves and others that they’re going to use their Communication degree or whatever other crap they “studied” to share the message of Jesus’s love in an effective manner and really increase “engagement” among “important demographics.” You listen to them talk about God and Jesus Christ and everything, literally everything, that comes out of their mouth is in the language of consumer capitalism and therapeutic culture. Their entire brain’s operating system runs on that of the USA in 2018. There is an intellectual softness and squishiness here that is really depressing — these poor kids are absolutely permeated by our vile shallow culture.

No, liberals are not any better, and are probably worse in the sense that they often seem to have zero beliefs or convictions that aren’t based on the conventional wisdom of the moment (“How can X person believe Y? It’s 2018!”). But that isn’t an excuse for conservatives and their tendency to act like orthodox beliefs are in themselves enough, no fighting for those beliefs are necessary, and simultaneously to pretend that they won’t keep losing communities, cities, countries, to their ideological opponents.

This is a great point. Yesterday, I quoted Cardinal Robert Sarah’s sermon, in which he cited this T.S. Eliot quote:

“In a world of fugitives, the person taking the opposite direction will appear to run away.”

A reader e-mailed to say that Eliot quote does a good job of explaining the Benedict Option, against those Christian critics who say that it’s all about heading for the hills. The whole point of modernity is to be a fugitive from traditional Christianity, and its demands. We embrace our fugitive status and call it freedom. As Matt in VA observes from his vantage point outside the church, so many of us Christians who consider ourselves to be conservative in our faith are living in what Sartre called “bad faith,” in the sense that we are really desperate to align ourselves with the fugitives, and thus use the language and concepts of faith to justify accepting what we should not accept.

I think of this Evangelical couple who, 20 years ago, sent us a form letter raising money to support their missionary efforts to, yes, supermodels. They pretty clearly wanted to live in a world capital and hang out with the fashion world, and saw ordaining themselves as apostles to supermodels as the way to do it. I don’t think they were cynical at all, in the sense that they knew what they were doing. I think they wanted to have fun as fashionistas, and they figured out a way to justify it not only to themselves but to those church people who had the means to subsidize their lifestyle.

That’s an egregious example, but this is the kind of thing Matt in VA is talking about.

UPDATE: In the comments, Matt says he is a believer in Christ, though gay and married to a man. I assumed from the way he usually writes — of Christians as an “other” — that he was not a believer.

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Rhode Island: Committee Recommends Two Gun Control Bills for Passage

Rhode Island
Rhode Island: Committee Recommends Two Gun Control Bills for Passage

Fairfax, VA – -(Ammoland.com)- Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee considered S.2292A and S.2492A, and recommended them for passage.  Both bills will now go to the Senate floor to receive further consideration.  Please contact your state Senator and strongly urge them to OPPOSE S.2292A and S.2492A.

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Senate Bill 2292A, sponsored by Senator James Seveney (D-11), would ban certain firearm accessories and impose a $10,000 fine and 10-year prison sentence.  Aside from the harsh penalty for possessing a firearm accessory, the legislation’s language is extremely broad and includes any accessory “which accelerates the rate of fire.”  In other words, this means that common modifications to firearms to make them more suitable for self-defense, target shooting, hunting, and even overcoming disability may be banned, with violations resulting in severe penalties.  This bill is poorly crafted and should be opposed.  The only thing this is going to do is put law-abiding competitive shooters in jeopardy of prosecution.

Senate Bill 2492A, sponsored by Senator Maryellen Goodwin (D-1), would create broad gun ban powers under the guise of “extreme risk” protection orders.  NRA-ILA strongly believes that dangerous individuals should not have firearms.  However, this “red flag” legislation is an overreach with few legal protections for those who may be falsely accused.   This sweeping legislation would allow almost anyone to have another’s guns taken with little or no due process.  The bill allows seizure and forfeiture through ex parte hearings where a respondent isn’t given notice and a hearing.

Again, please click the “Take Action” button above to contact your state Senator and request that they OPPOSE S.2292A and S.2492A.

National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit: www.nra.org

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Why the Art Gallery of Ontario Removed ‘Indian’ from the Name of This Emily Carr Painting

The Art Gallery of Ontario has scrubbed the word “Indian” from the title of a painting by the late Canadian artist Emily Carr, because “that is a word that causes pain,” curator Georgiana Uhlyarik says.

The 1929 painting originally known as Indian Church was re-hung in the Toronto museum in early May under the new name Church at Yuquot Village, a nod to the B.C. Indigenous community where the church was located.

“We feel that we are moving something forward, rather than staying in one place and repeating … the hurt of that word,” Uhlyarik, the co-leader of the AGO’s department of Indigenous and Canadian art, told As It Happens host Carol Off.

The AGO’s move is part of a controversial global trend of removing racially charged language from older pieces of art.

The Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam launched the Adjustment of Colonial Terminology project in 2015 with the goal of reviewing 220,000 titles and descriptions.

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation

Uhlyarik said the AGO consulted the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation, on whose territory the church was located, before making the change.

“It was the very first phone call that we made,” she said.

The church in the painting was built on member nation Mowachaht Muchalaht’s territory by Christian missionaries in 1889. Carr first saw it on a visit to the West Coast in 1928.

“Carr was quite fascinated with it,” Uhlyarik said. “It’s a really quite a critical painting in her career.”

Carr, who died in 1945, named the painting herself.

The original church burned down, but a new one erected in its place still stands and now serves as a community centre.

Along with the new name, the AGO has erected an informational panel beside the painting that details the history of the church and the context behind the name change.

“We are acknowledging that this is its history, that this is why it was called that, because that is in keeping with the language of her time,” Uhlyarik said.

“But that in terms of the title, we would like to open up this conversation by saying, ‘well, where is this place? What is the history of this place?’ We wanted to give the painting its place — sort of locate it, if you like, on the map.”

Cultural sensitivity in the arts

The name change has ignited debate about history and cultural sensitivity in the arts.

“While in general I am in support of the principles of reconciliation, as an artist I can’t support the change,” Carey Newman, a Kwagiuth/Coast Salish artist, told the Times Colonist newspaper.

“As an artist, I am always aware of my language. If I said harmful words, I would address and take ownership of them. Changing words merely obscures the truth of how people spoke.”

Jan Ross, curator at Emily Carr House, told the newspaper that when an artist names their own work, that name should stand.

“You have to see it in context or you are liable to repeat mistakes,” she said.

But Uhlyarik said the gallery has no intention of whitewashing history.

“We are not at all interested in hiding the history of what the object was titled by the artist and how it was exhibited and how it continues to be reproduced in all of the Emily Carr publications and postcards and posters that are around,” she said.

“We made a very deliberate point in including all this information in the label beside it. The painting itself stands with its history of colonialism, with the history of missionaries on the northwest coast.”

As for other works in the AGO collection with similar terminology?

“We’re going to take it case by case and do it responsibly,” Uhlyarik said. “Because I think it’s time.”

Indian Church

The post Why the Art Gallery of Ontario Removed ‘Indian’ from the Name of This Emily Carr Painting appeared first on American Renaissance.

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Global Healthcare Natural Language Processing (NLP) Market 2018…

Global Healthcare Natural Language Processing Market Outlook 2018 The report firstly introduced the Healthcare Natural Language Processing market basics: definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain overview; industry policies and plans; product specifications; manufacturing processes; cost structures and so on. Then it analyzed the world’s main region market conditions, including the product price, profit, capacity, production, capacity utilization, supply, demand and industry growth rate etc.

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Miami Judge Who Called Black Defendant ‘Moolie’ Faces Suspension for Using Slurs

A Miami judge faces suspension for using the word “moolie” to describe an African-American defendant and referring to another man’s supporters in court as “thugs.”

An investigative panel for Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended that Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stephen Millan be suspended for 30 days, fined $5,000 and be issued a public reprimand. Millan agreed to the punishment, which must be approved by the Florida Supreme Court.

Millan, 52, who is of Italian and Puerto Rican descent and grew up in New York City, “readily admitted to his misconduct” and paid to attend racial sensitivity training. Still, the JQC said, suspension was “warranted to demonstrate to the public, and to remind the judiciary, that racial bias has no place in our judicial system.”


It was in 2016 and 2017 that lawyers reported he used “demeaning language in off-the-record conversations” representing defendants.

In one case, in October 2016, a lawyer was in Millan’s chambers discussing scheduling when the judge called the defendant a “moolie.”

The term is not commonly used today, but is a shortened version of “mulignan” — a Sicilian slur used to describe black people or somebody with a dark complexion, according to the commission’s report on the case. The word “literally translates as ‘eggplant,”‘ the report said.


Millan claimed that he was familiar with the slur and had “used it intermittently as a ‘youngster’ growing up in New York.”

Then, in 2017, Millan was taking a break during a hearing for a different African-American defendant charged with murder when he told his bailiff to grab his wallet he had left in the courtroom. “I don’t trust it in there with those thugs,” he said.

The defendant’s attorney heard the comment, believing the judge was referring to the man’s family and friends who were sitting in court, the report said. The lawyer protested by saying the “family and friends were good people.”

Millan blamed his upbringing as a “youngster” in New York. “It was not unusual for my friends and I to occasionally use slur words when referring to others, including our friends and ourselves,” he told the JQC.


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So Germany has come up with the perfect job for all those migrants

One of many problems plaguing Germany since their decision to essentially open their borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants from Syria and Iraq is how to get them employed and contributing to the local economy as part of their “assimilation.” As of a few months ago, officials estimate that more than 75% of the new arrivals are unemployed, collecting benefits and are “unlikely to find work” in the next ten years. Big problems such as this call for big solutions and the Germans think they’ve come up with a winner. What better job to give to these unemployed migrants than that of… being a truck driver. (Voice of Europe)

Due to an acute shortage of professional truck drivers the German trucking association has launched a new project to train asylum seekers for the job, Austria’s tabloid Wochenblick reports.

The project, which is named “The drive into your new future” intends to make it easier for asylum seekers to become truck drivers.

In this way, the German Red Cross (DRK) and the Logistics Organization (UVL) want to alleviate the shortage of truck drivers. The concept was developed together with the SVG Driving School North, reports newspaper DVZ.

During the training the candidates have to pass through two exams. In addition to its general suitability, the DRK also wants to check the language skills and the status of residence. In addition, a separate “refugee representative” should look after the participants during the three-year training.

I understand that we probably broke the sarcasm meter with this question long ago but I still have to ask… what could possibly go wrong?

To be fair, it’s not hard to understand why Germany might find themselves in need of more truck drivers. The unemployment rate there is currently down to roughly 3.6% so they’re close to what we would describe as “full employment.” Unless they’re paying their truck drivers exceptionally well it might be hard to attract new employees in that sort of market.

But does anyone else see why focusing on hiring these refugees in large numbers as truck drivers would have some of the population a bit on the nervous side? You may recall the story of Anis Amri, the asylum seeker who drove a truck into a crowd at high speed in Berlin shortly before Christmas in 2016, killing twelve pedestrians and injuring more than fifty others. While he wasn’t the first, he certainly seemed to popularize the ISIS endorsed strategy of using trucks as weapons of terror in countries around the world.

Even if you can get past the optics of loading up hundreds of German trucks with other asylum seekers, is this a productive way to fill those jobs? There’s probably a combination of factors involved, including both vetting and training, but the German program is requiring three years of training before the new drivers are ready to hit the roads on their own. In the United States, you can get a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) with about three months of driving school and a short apprenticeship before you’re ready to go to work. It sounds like the Germans are going to be sinking a ton of money into each of these applicants just to get them situated in what is essentially a blue collar job.

Let’s give the Germans credit for trying to think outside the box and put some of these migrants to work. But if just one of them winds up taking their new commercial trucking license and using it to carry out an attack, Angela Merkel will be back on the hot seat once again.

The post So Germany has come up with the perfect job for all those migrants appeared first on Hot Air.

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Orthodoxy & Psychedelics

I’ve been meaning to blog about this old Commonweal essay about Orthodox spirituality, by the late Orthodox priest Father John Garvey. It occurred to me that it might be a good follow-up to yesterday’s Christianity & psychedelics piece, because it touches on concerns I have about psychedelic experience. Father John writes:

The monasticism of the desert fathers is a major influence in Orthodoxy, and the Apophthegmata Patrum—the sayings of the fathers (and mothers) of the desert—range from remarkably practical advice to a startling sense of participation in the divine. Take these two selections, from Benedicta Ward’s translation in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Cistercian Publications):

Abba Pambo asked Abba Anthony, “What ought I to do?” and the old man said to him, “Do not trust in your own righteousness, do not worry about the past, but control your tongue and your stomach.”

Abba Lot went to Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?” Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands toward heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.”

Note the words, “the old man.” The idea is preserved in the Greek word for “an elder”—geron—still used of wise monks and spiritual directors, the idea being that it takes time and patience to get there.

It seems to me that “getting there” by virtue of ingesting a drug is cheating — not in a moral sense, but in a spiritual sense that could leave one spiritually vulnerable. This is just an intuition. As I said in yesterday’s post, the man who has $10 million because he labored for 30 years, and the man who has it in an instant because he won the lottery, both have $10 million, but only the man who has labored for it for many years understands the meaning of that richness, and is prepared to live with it. My suspicion is that same principle is at work with psychedelics.

More Garvey:

At the heart of the spiritual journey is the belief that we are all called to theosis, or deification. St. Athanasius wrote, “The Word became man so that man might become God.” The boldness of this sounds blasphemous to some, but it squares with Jesus’ words, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Christian mysticism is grounded in what is called apophatic theology, the belief that God’s nature is so radically unknowable that ordinary language and concepts fail utterly to get at it—so it may even be said that God does not exist, as we ordinarily use the word “exist” to describe the being of an object among other objects. But God has made himself known, and by his gift we may share his being, as he shared ours. We are capable of receiving this gift because we have seen Christ’s willingness to empty himself and assume our nature. As he became one of us, we can share the divine nature to the extent that with God’s help we can empty ourselves.


The idea that one could experience theosis in this life was at the heart of what became known as the hesychast controversy, from the Greek hesychia, or “stillness.” The anonymous author of The Way of a Pilgrim speaks of The Philokalia, a multivolume collection of writings on prayer, compiled in the eighteenth century. (The title means “love of the good.”) The many contributors include St. John Cassian (c. 346–c. 435), St. Maximos the Confessor (c. 580–662), and St. Gregory Palamas (c. 1296–1359), whose response to a challenge to hesychasm in the fourteenth century synthesized Orthodox ideas about grace and our participation in the divine life.

Gregory Palamas defended the belief that one could genuinely experience the presence of God. Grace is not a created gift but the divine energies of God. Barlaam the Calabrian (1290–1348) had taken the idea of apophaticism to an extreme, and argued against those monks who believed that it was possible to experience “the uncreated light of Tabor,” the light seen by Peter, James, and John at the Transfiguration. Gregory defended the monks, arguing that although God was in his nature unknowable, his energies were divine and could be shared with those who were capable of receiving them. Although it is possible to delude oneself, it is also possible to share in divinity, even in this life, just as Jesus shared our humanity.

It has to be said, however, that the point of prayer is not any particular experience, but rather turning one’s life over into God’s hands.


Hesychios says that “all this happens naturally” and can be learned from experience. The naturalness and experiential aspects of the life of prayer assume an intermingling of the divine and the human that is revealed in the Incarnation. All of us are called to realize this, and to the extent that we are made capable of doing so, it involves our cooperation with the one who emptied himself to bring us into the fullness of his own being. A prayer sung during the liturgy of the Feast of the Transfiguration says, “You were transformed on the Mount, O Christ God, / Revealing your glory to your disciples as far as they could bear it.”

The idea that this glory draws us toward God is part of the vision of eternity of St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335–c. 395): “Every desire for the Beautiful which draws us on in this ascent is intensified by the soul’s very progress toward it. And this is the real meaning of seeing God: never to have this desire satisfied.” It is echoed in Pascal’s “The Mystery of Jesus,” a part of his Pensées: there Jesus says, “If you are seeking me, you have found me.”

Read the whole thing. 

It seems to me — notice that I’m writing “seems” when I talk about all this — that the Orthodox tradition wouldn’t necessarily deny the psychedelic experience outright, but it would say that it is dangerous to tread in that strange land, where the veil to some extent has been lifted, without great spiritual preparation. If God wants to show you those things, then you should get there via the long way. If not, not. What the psychonauts seek is in some sense real, but absent the kind of preparation that comes from many years of prayer, worship, and askesis, one could be badly misled by this knowledge. We may say that it is forbidden to access it through chemical means not because it is necessarily entirely untrue, but because we cannot make proper sense of it, and therefore could open ourselves to the demonic.

That’s a theory. Thoughts welcome.

By the way, some of you got the idea that I’m promoting Christians using psychedelics. Not at all! I’m trying to figure out how to think of those compounds in a Christian way, even if we reject their use.

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