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Religion and social justice

As things are now, the problem with the constitutional separation of church and state is that it assumes that government is not the vehicle of moral life. That assumption is inconsistent with the concept of social justice. “Social justice” means that government supervises how things end up. If government is responsible for what happens, however, then to say government must stay out of religion is to say that religion can have no effect on events.

Government is now responsible for the care of the weak, the upbringing of children, the general well-being of everyone, even the attitudes we display toward each other. Under such circumstances the claim that it is not taking a position on the fundamental questions of human life is absurd. Government today can claim to act without regard to particular religous beliefs only by asserting that religious belief is or ought to be irrelevant to everything serious.

The practical effect of the separation of church and state, under modern conditions, is therefore the establishment of godlessness. The only way of averting such a result is radical reduction in the role of government, an event that is desirable for any number of reasons but appears on the whole unlikely.

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Women soldiers

Are the strongest objections to women soldiers the pragmatic ones? Not really. Certainly the pragmatic objections are more than sufficient, but—as feminists would agree—apparent practicality shouldn’t overshadow fundamental principle.

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Effects of Fortuyn murder

It seems unlikely that the Fortuyn murder will change anything. The Europeans have been absolutely unwilling to talk about issues relating to immigration and get openly abusive and hysterical whenever they come up.

Serves him right! says the Times of London. When people leave reason and decency behind to that extent it takes more than the death of someone they don’t like to bring them back to their senses. There has to be a genuine catastophe, or else the passing of a lot of time.

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London Times on Fortuyn

The British press never ceases to disgust. Here’s the Times on the Fortuyn assassination, “Deadly Ideas: Fortuyn’s killing robs European politics of its innocence”[!]

I especially liked their comment that the killing

will link the violence that has hovered on the fringes of right-wing politics with the ugliness of racial conflict and the emotive theme of immigration.

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Christianity and politics

Random thoughts on politics and Christian orthodoxy:

Political modernism is the attempt to establish a wholly rational and this-worldly social order. The world is to be re-created and redeemed through man’s will. Political modernism thus substitutes faith in man for faith in God. As such, it is a denial of the nature of God, man, and the world. Its natural consequences are anarchy, tyranny, or both.

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Christianity and politics

Thoughts on politics and Christian orthodoxy:

Political modernism is the attempt to establish a wholly rational and this-worldly social order. The world is to be re-created and redeemed through man’s will. Political modernism thus substitutes faith in man for faith in God. As such, it is a denial of the nature of God, man, and the world. Its natural consequences are anarchy, tyranny, or both.

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Pravda: Fred Flintstone real!

Pim Fortuyn murdered

In Holland one of the targets of a sustained international hate campaign has been murdered.

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Changes in blog

Sorry for the constant changes in the blog’s appearance and URL. I think they’re mostly over now, although I still might fiddle with details. They all had to do with software changes I made to escape technical problems I had first with Blogger and then with Greymatter. Everything seems hunky-dory with Moveable Type, so I hope to stick with it.

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The “new mass”

I missed Latin mass yesterday—it’s been my craze ever since I decided I couldn’t stand the Episcopal Church—so I went to the local English one this morning. From the perspective of the old mass it’s an interesting combination of modernity and archaeology (that is, what worship is assumed to have been in the first half of the second century). It’s all put together under the banners of “updating,” “return to sources” and “noble simplicity.”

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Antiracism in Scandinavia

They certainly know how to fight internet racism in Scandinavia. In Norway they jail you for operating a web site on a foreign server, and in Sweden they make operators of online forums criminally liable for what people say on them.

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Hemings claim denied

I hadn’t known that historians had turned against the Hemings paternity claims: “Jefferson progeny club votes out Hemings’ kin”. I was at Monticello recently and there they tell you it’s true. I thought at the time they didn’t have much choice if they want to avoid trouble.

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Phyllis Chesler on feminine wickedness

Another shocking revelation of the obvious—sisterhood is not so powerful after all. Still, it’s interesting that Phyllis Chesler is the one to notice.

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Racial profiling in medicine

An article on “racial profiling” in medicine. For some reason this sort of thing has become terribly controversial. Even in medicine the will to deny the obvious is becoming stronger and more open.

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Derbyshire on sex and the Church

A friend asked me for my thoughts on a National Review article by John Derbyshire on the recent scandals in the Catholic Church.

I very much disagree with the article. First, the author argues that the sexual revolution has made people happier, all in all, because the abolition of reticence makes it easier to fix problems. That seems doubtful—it strikes me that the abolition of reticence is part of the abolition of the essential connection between sex and close human connections. That’s a catastrophe for any number of reasons. On the other hand, the author’s outlook on this as other issues is that human life is a matter of defining problems clearly and then fixing them in line with what you want, brutally if necessary. So it’s not surprising he thinks otherwise.

As to the lack of social support for celibacy he mentions, he’s apparently thinking of the Anglican church, which essentially exists as part of the political community and so must accommodate itself to it. The RC church is not like that. In fact, it seems to me that celibacy is all the more important now that the Church has such a fight on its hands maintaining independence in an all-engulfing media culture. What I think the Church needs to do is support celibacy itself by its institutional attitudes and habits—that is, act as if they’re serious about their own moral doctrine. Which is I think what JP II told the cardinals just recently.

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Artist nails arm

It’s hard to know what to say about some things: Artist ‘fine’ after having arm nailed to wall. I suppose he’s playing around with an odd kind of symbolism, like going around stripped and naked for 3 years (Isaiah 20:1-3). Three years is too long, though, so he makes up for the shorter time by doing something even odder.

Isaiah had something definite in mind. Besides, God told him to do it. In this case the symbolism is abstract and disconnected from any concrete concern. That’s modern art and modern life I suppose.

I wonder if Kafka knew what he was getting us into when he wrote Ein Hungerkunstler? He was an intelligent man and thought his stories were funny. It’s unbelievably stupid actually to carry them out.

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Will it ever be possible

Will it ever be possible to force gays back into the closet? That rhetorical question is considered a crushing rejoinder when someone objects to the attempt to normalize homosexuality. Whoever is making the objection, it implies, is a typical reactionary—either he hasn’t thought things through, and is living in the past, or else he’s planning something really brutal and oppressive.

The answer, of course, is that it’s not a matter of force but of accepted public principle. On liberal principles the closeting of homosexuality is oppressive because it doesn’t belong in the closet—it’s as respectable as any other form of sexual expression. On traditional principles that make the sexual affiliation of men and women fundamental to social order, however, homosexuality is at odds with the kinds of connections that ought to exist among people. It’s treason against the social constitution. From that point of view it’s as bad as liberals think racism is. So if traditional views of sex come once again to prevail the closeting of homosexuality will be as natural as the closeting of sympathy with Le Pen is in France today. It really won’t be a matter of force.

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Changing something from an adjective

Changing something from an adjective to a noun isn’t always a good idea. For example, it’s usually better to be liberal, libertarian or conservative than a liberal, libertarian or conservative. As someone on the right, of course, I believe that is most true of liberalism. Freedom and equality, the only moral standards liberalism is willing to appeal to, can’t by themselves justify coercion, but the liberal attempt to enforce them in all aspects of life turns out to require lots of coercion. As a result, taken as a noun—as a self-subsistent thing—liberalism contradicts itself and leads to endless deceit, obfuscation and corruption. There are problems being a libertarian as well. “Small government” is a good thing for all sorts of reasons, but turning that goal into the political summum bonum is inexplicable except on a theory that makes doing whatever you can do and want to do the final joy of all desiring. And what about conservatism? It too falls apart as a final principle. Conservatism is about tradition, but tradition isn’t about itself but about something that goes beyond it. It can’t be purely traditional. What do we do, since none of these principles is adequate? An appeal to generalized good sense is too vague to be helpful. It seems to me that the need for an overall guiding principle that has content but nonetheless exceeds our grasp—if we could see around the principle it would be too limited—gives politics an essential religious element. Without that element politics becomes irrational and turns into either opportunism or brutal and narrowminded dogma. So religion isn’t alien to politics. Rather, religion is the only element in which politics can, in the long run, make sense.

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In its boring way, USA

In its boring way, USA Today takes offense because pilots want to be armed in case of a hijacking. Let the pros take care of it—like Norm Mineta, whose major contribution so far has been to insist that Arab men and Russian babushkas get watched equally. The point, of course, is political and not technical. If sky marshalls have guns then deadly force remains in the hands of government agents, so regardless of what actually happens the principle is preserved that everything is under control. If pilots have them it creates the impression that sometimes people have to act for themselves, and who knows what that might lead to?

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Another problem with antiracism ideology

Another problem with antiracism ideology—you simply can’t talk about what actually happens, because the ideology only works if white people and their attitudes are the only problem. That’s obviously not so, though. How long can the pretense be kept up, and what happens when the lid comes off?

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