Friday, May 18, 2007

Benedictimus Te, Gratias Agimus Tibi, or: Good Food, Good Meat, Good God, Let's Eat

Via my good friend and pal, Jonathan Rowe:

Orthodox priest John Parker resents ("Benediction Fiction") being asked/required to leave Jesus Christ out of his benediction at the University of South Carolina med school's chapel, in favor of a "We Dig God, Whoever He Might Be" speech. He declined the honor.

Parker has somewhat of a point when it comes to the sectarian origins of private institutions. One should not feel embarrassed about speaking about Christ in a chapel with a cross on it, nor feel an obligation to skip Him over.

I'd not be insulted if I heard about Allah or Vishnu in an appropriately dedicated chapel.

But to the heart of the matter, about generic benedictions in the public square per Ben Franklin's American "civil religion": I would cringe on behalf of my Jewish friends if Parker started his prayer as intended, "O Lord Jesus Christ our God..."

If Parker felt the need, in a non-sectarian milieu, to testify for Jesus Christ as God, anyone in the audience with a theological disagreement with that "Truth" would be well within his own needs to get up and testify to the contrary, or in the least, walk out.

We, as a society, don't need that noise. We've done everything we can to get around it.

Now we might discuss the Founding's "civil religion," that America has some established culturally Judeo-Christian/monotheistic foundation, and that appealing to the gods or The Goddess---whoever She might be (or perhaps....SATAN??!!!), might likewise be an unnecessary provocation in the public square. But that would needlessly complicate things, eh?

But we love needless complications these days.

What I would say is that the Judeo-Christian God is our cultural baseline. There is One of Him, and He looks after us. The Founders were OK with that.

Look, if a Jewish friend is over for dinner, we say grace in some universalist fashion. Of course. But I admit that the atheists get the whole "through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen" deal. What the hell---in for a penny, in for a pound, and besides, to accommodate their sensibilities would require me to negate all of my own. It's one thing to show respect, another to put a bullet through your own head.

Besides, the food's always great at Casa TVD due to the divinely-inspired Missus. Nobody's complained around here yet, and me, I think they like the grace being said. Makes the food taste better. Like life. And Mrs. TVD doesn't mind atall when the thanks get directed slightly upward.

It Just Doesn't Get Any Better Than This

Well, now, it really is the case that politicians leaving office can speak the truth. On NPR's Morning Edition today, the utterly confused Tony Blair offered the following wisdom for the ages: "The world’s inability to execute a global agreement to seriously reduce greenhouse gas emissions is fueling Islamic terrorism."

Who knew? Ahmadinejad, Bin Laden, Hamas, Hizballah, all of them: They're nothing more than we-are-the-world greenies. And that's the real reason the Iranians want nuclear reactors.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"None of the Above" Gaining Fast

"None of the Above" being Fred Thompson, so aptly appellated by our Kathy Hutchins.

The "All Fred All the Time" newsticker on our right side panel
(over there>>>>>>>>)
was put in as a lark, since Fred is the X-Factor and things have been fairly predictable in the GOP nomination race.

But Fred has just tied John McCain for second place at 18%. Although Rudy still enjoys a massive lead (at 38%), if Fred keeps not running like he is, he'll be taking that oath of office in January '09, fer sure.

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Late add: Like me (see comments to Dr. Zycher's post below), Fred prefers no immigration bill to this one---“With this bill, the American people are going to think they are being sold the same bill of goods as before on border security. We should scrap this bill and the whole debate until we can convince the American people that we have secured the borders or at least have made great headway.”

Like a fungus or a future spouse, Fred kinda grows on you...

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The Rantings of the KnowNothings

My usual political allies seemingly are up in arms about the immigration deal reportedly reached in the Senate. But the source of the outrage, to me, remains entirely obscure. Does anyone---anyone at all---actually believe it possible as a practical matter to put 12 million people on buses to be driven south?

And even were such a monstrous action possible, the inevitable news clips of such family misery would destroy public support. Far better to get rid of the disincentives to assimilation: bilingual education, bilingual ballots, welfare for the native-born children of illegals, ad infinitum. Even with such policies, the evidence is strong that substantial assimilation in the form of English language skills and the like is the norm by the second or third generation.

And let us not forget that people who come to America to work do us no harm in the aggregate, while the substitution of a wall in place of the Statue of Liberty as the symbol of America is hardly salutary. The rantings of such as Michelle Malkin---who, as I believe I have mentioned before, does not appear to have had any ancestors on the Mayflower---are devoid of analytic content, curiously analogous to the rantings of the ineffable Al Gore, Laurie David, and Cheryl Crow in the context of purported anthropogenic climate change, and thus are fundamentally religious in nature.

Yes, a nation is far more than a labor market. But the labor market is not irrelevant, and it is leftist multiculturalism that is the real threat to a nation united around the ideal of equal opportunity. That "conservatives" now are rallying around an outlook so destructive is deeply disturbing.

Elizabeth V. "Simpson"

was born to us yesterday, a healthy, beautiful baby girl. What blessings!

J. Falwell, R.I.P.

I shall miss Falwell, altho as Mike D'Virgilio notes below, not as much as the anti-religious---specifically the anti-Christian---left will. He made some rhetorical blunders (the worst of which he apologized for, but that's of no concern to the Jacobins), but was undoubtedly instrumental in realigning Christianity politically, from FDR communitarianism (read materialism and the Enlightenment's "relief of man's estate") to the reembrace of personal virtue, without which a republic cannot survive.

The founders of the American republic and their dear Mr. John Locke were quite sanguine with Christianity (specifically non-miraculous Jesusian principles) as their nation's foundation. FDR didn't have to deal with the decay of virtue that modernity ushered in during the latter half of the 20th century. Order and societal cohesion gave way to the language of "rights."

But the Founders wouldn't have been particularly concerned with Rev. Jerry. Falwell's wildest statements were coherent with even theological outliers like Tom Paine and that notorious sybarite Jefferson, both of whom accepted a Providential God (and Who conforms most closely to the Judeo-Christian one above all others), and Who favored the virtuous and allowed the wicked to fall from His favor.

Jefferson himself suspected that the young republic might soon be punished for its toleration of the "peculiar institution." The punishment, if it was such, was grave indeed, today commonly called The Civil War. We can say that even Rev. Falwell's opportunistic/inopportune statement about 9-11 being a result of the United States' fall from virtue isn't terribly out of line with even the most skeptical of the Founders. Go figure.

Jerry Falwell was unsophisticated to be sure, and the moderns will miss kicking him to the curb, since he was pretty easy pickin's. Dear Mr. Locke may not prove to be such a cakewalk, because when one speaks of America, one cannot push him out of the way, one must go through him.

Unless one chooses a path through the gutter, of course. Jerry Falwell would have liked that linked essay, I think, and so, R.I.P. In the end, his public life (not his ministry, which never made the papers) wasn't about Trinitarianism or heaven or hell. It was about virtue.

I'm out on a limb here, but I think even Jefferson would have found some sort of good word to say about him. Certainly George Washington would've:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports...[L]et us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.---Farewell Address, 1796



The Rev. Falwell has passed from the scene. His Bible, John Locke, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson have not. The dialogue, and the inquiry, sustain. We cannot relieve man's estate while ignoring his soul.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fred Thompson Responds to Michael Moore Challenge

This is simply brilliant.

Jerry Falwell’s Death and the Liberal Hate Machine

You knew it would not take long for the Liberal Hate Machine to pile on Jerry Falwell, the Christian conservative every good liberal loves to hate. Well, maybe not every liberal, but there certainly is a vicious vitriolic pack of liberals in the blogosphere who are so blinded in their self-righteousness that anyone, especially a Christian conservative, who dares to challenge their worldview is the enemy. A sampling of this venomous drivel can be found at Newsbusters.

I was never a big fan of Falwell as my theology is quite a bit different than his, but the man did a lot of good for a lot of people and never harmed anyone. But to the Liberal Hate Machine he is Satan himself.

What’s amazing about liberal bile is that so little of it is reserved for Muslim terrorists who are our real enemies. For some reason, probably that they just aren’t Christians, Muslims get a pass even though everything they believe is antithetical to liberal Western culture and life. Not to mention that a certain subset of Islam wants to wipe us and everything we believe off the face of the earth. No big deal, as long as they aren’t Christian fundamentalists.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Rudy at Houston Baptist University

I sat about five feet from Rudy Giuliani while he made his pitch to agree to disagree over abortion. He yam what he yam and all that.

I wrote it up for American Spectator.

A baby burbled audibly in the silent crowd. Perhaps it was pure serendipity that the child wore a t-shirt proclaiming "I love NY," but I remembered the old stories of LBJ's campaign appearances where he exhibited tremendous flair by tossing a gorgeous white Stetson into the assembled mass. What the folks never knew was that the greatest of Texas campaigners had practiced his aim and had a staffer charged with the task of catching that hat at every stop. When Giuliani walked over to the baby, mugged with it, and jumped back to the podium proclaiming, "Hey, I am a politician!" to the obvious delight of the audience, I wondered how often such happy accidents occur. Nobody at HBU was skeptical. They loved it and the ice was broken.

Despite the moment described above, I fully agree with those who think the Giuliani campaign is over and doesn't know it, yet. Read the rest of the article for the explanation.