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Speech Codes
Thursday, June 30, 2016, 3:41 PM

A friend sent me an article on the level at which speech codes at universities are stifling free speech by forbidding any reference to what may offend members of groups considered protected, no matter how obscure the reference and how unlikely its supposed offense may be.  As a reader of Academic Questions, I am well aware of the nature and extent of the phenomenon, especially in its more grotesque and aggressive form. He asked rhetorically how far this could go. Well, what can one say? It will go as far as people allow themselves to be intimidated by the left to alter their behavior in accordance with its will to power.

There are speech codes in the Bible, too, to which we are bound by our faith, in the first and highest instance not to take the Name of the Lord in vain, then to be truthful, kind, and judicious. You really can tell what rule a person is controlled by, by listening to him speak.  Christian must guard their tongues and be particularly careful in midst of the decline of faith and culture, not to talk like the world talks—not just to be polite and avoid vulgarity, but increasingly not to obey the secular speech codes, especially those which oppose the faith.

They will, however,  be forced deeper into the world of political correctness, so far as it opposes biblical teaching on the sexes, until they are willing to understand what will be probably be to most of them a revolutionary and exceedingly uncomfortable idea, that the primacy of the masculine, belief in which is necessary for profession of the Creed, is part of their faith.  Otherwise they have no basis on which to protect themselves from destructive changes in the house of language where their faith dwells.  To overthrow this deviance they must renounce egalitarianism in both its theological and anthropological manifestations as unnatural and ungodly.

The friend who sent me the article inspiring this post is an Evangelical pastor. I wonder how many of these understand how many in their world have rejected orthodox Christianity, mainstream Evangelicalism’s de facto rule being that (for evangelical reasons, of course) one goes as far with egalitarianism as one can, in speech, writing, Bible translation, and hymnody–instead of identifying it as an evil to be opposed. I wonder if he understands the significance of changing “Rise up, O Men of God” to “Rise up, O Church of God” in the hymnal he uses, or if he sees any possible connection between the forward march of political correctness and the ever-dwindling number of men in the churches where its campaign is most advanced.



Messier Yet: The Case of the ACNA
Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 10:36 AM

C. S. Lewis has never been a patron of Anglicans favoring women’s ordination, his talent for going to the heart of the issue famously displayed in his essay “Priestesses in the Church?” where he made it clear that the question of whether we should have them concerns not simply modes of operation within the church resting on different interpretations of scripture, or theories of ordination, but nothing less than the symbolic identification of the Christian faith itself. His opening analogy, drawn from one of Bingley’s remarks in Pride and Prejudice, was that just as a ball wouldn’t be so much like a ball without dancing, so the church wouldn’t be so much like the church if it had priestesses—understatement that could still be made playfully in the late 1940s–for a ball is defined by dancing. The reason did not lie (once again, a shot straight to the heart) in the man’s moral or functional superiority, but in the “mere maleness” required to re-present iconically the person of Christ in and to the church. The symbolic effect of placing women at pulpit and altar would be so radical and far-reaching that the religion that practiced it would not be Christianity any more than a ball without dancing would be a ball.

 

In a former posting, “The Conservative Anglican Mess,” I reported on the Anglican Church of North America’s (ACNA’s) current dealing with the question of women’s ordination, noting that the bishops are mostly against it, but that they would be considering it in an upcoming meeting. I can find nothing that makes one privy to the discussions in the House of Bishops in the meetings held June 21-24 in Charleston, nor would I expect it, but I did find, on the denomination’s website, a document ( http://www.anglicanchurch.net/?/main/Charleston_2016   – scroll to Document Center and use password ) of more than a hundred pages that contained the third of four reports by the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders, submitted at the Charleston meeting, which focuses on “the manner in which ecclesiology relates to ordination and holy orders.” It reports, “We also have begun the last phase of our work, Phase 4, in which we are examining the arguments for and against the ordination of women.”

 

The Task Force says it is not its role to formulate “the answer for the Province, but to “lead the College of Bishops [!] in a discussion about this important issue.” Its “final report [Phase 4] will be shaped with that purpose in mind.”  The Task Force will be “spending the remainder of 2016 dealing with the arguments for and against the ordination of women.” Its goal is “to present our final report to the College of Bishops at their meeting in January 2017.” So, the bishops have not yet received the Task Force’s final report, commissioned to lead them in their deliberations on women’s ordination.

 

It is worth citing the Phase 3 report at length:

 

The examination conducted by the Task Force in the area of ecclesiology, has revealed that there are diverging perspectives within the Anglican tradition over the essential characteristics of ordained ministry, which have been acceptable positions to hold within our tradition. While we do not want to minimize the reality of our shared understanding and agreement on the theology of holy orders, anchored in the Ordinal and the Book of Common Prayer; yet we must recognize that the interpretation of the words of the Ordinal and the understanding of the theological context behind it are variously understood. Up until our own time, these differences have been held in tension, but they have not been the occasion for deep division. As long as someone was ordained through the proper form of the Ordinal, no one within our tradition questioned the validity of the ministry of the ordained person, even though its significance may have been differently defined. The ordination of women presents a different sort of challenge. Here the dispute is centered on the suitability of the ordinand herself. Of course, the question of suitability is rooted in the very differences mentioned above; however, the difference now is no longer in the realm of theory or opinion but in the actual application of ordination to particular persons. The issue before the Province is how we are to live with the divergent opinions over the theology of ordination . . . .”

 

The most telling part of the Report, however, is found near the end in Appendix VI where the Task Force makes its Case for Anglican Unity. It discovers three broad strains of Anglicanism, and within these “at least four different ‘families’ of ecclesiologies,” Anglo-Catholic, Reformed Evangelical, Revivalist Evangelical, and Charismatic, in which the understanding of the Ordinal differs, and the temptation is to regard itself as true Anglicanism, even though each of them “represents a vision of Christ’s will for the Church.”

 

The Task Force, however, has not discovered scriptural texts that require one of these ecclesiologies to the exclusion of the others, or is not open to debate, so it is uneasy about commending one of them as the “only legitimate option for Anglicans.” It notes that “order issues” “could very well fracture the Anglican Church in North America” and a number of other mediating groups that are agreed on essential Anglicanism that with their very different ecclesiologies they want to remain in communion on the basis of commonly held beliefs. It thinks the task of holding together these mutually corrective themes is worth attempting, emphasizing the tactical advantage unity in the face of neo-pagan North America.

 

All this is personalized. Choosing to follow what is presented here as a “particular ecclesiology” that excludes women’s ordination will affect “particular persons”– “the ordinand herself,” is going to be hurt. Thus those who would choose to sever the present bond of unity in the name of orthodoxy by moving against ordained women are preemptively charged with unkindness or even cruelty toward sincere Christians.  Doing so would also hypocritically involve singling out ordained women for penalties not meted out to others, since “Up until our own time, these differences have been held in tension, but they have not been the occasion for deep division.  As long as someone was ordained through the proper form of the Ordinal, no one within our tradition questioned the validity of the ministry of the ordained person.”  The price of holding out against spirit of the age becomes ever higher as this massively tendentious report goes on. To oppose women’s ordination is in fact to do the devil’s work: “Divide and conquer,” the Task Force notes, “is the devil’s strategy.”

 

Well, enough of that. This report is very obviously the product of guiding hands skilled in the work of gaining their way in church assemblies. It is plainly an argument for retaining the ordination of women in ACNA that expects to lead the bishops’ deliberations to that end.

 

The reason I cited Lewis’s “Priestesses” at the beginning of this commentary was that I might demonstrate the radical difference between his views (which reflect the theology of the great majority of the Church, past and present) and the ones the Task Force wishes the ACNA to adopt, in fact makes it immoral not to adopt.  The  view I identify with Lewis, is that the ordination of women is not in the first instance a matter of churchmanship within Anglicanism or anywhere else, but a involves the living symbolism in and by which the Church is defined and identified, so that a church with female priests cannot be identified as a Christian church any more than a church whose principal symbol is a circle instead of a cross. The Task Force has attempted to divert attention from this matter of indispensably central importance, presenting it a mere disagreement in which competing ecclesiologies, all defective in themselves and in need of others for completion, disagree on women’s ordination as one among issue others, and so can fall with the others into the category of things which reasonable and charitable people should overlook for the greater cause of unity. Once one sees the trick, it doesn’t really look all that clever.

 

If I am right about this, the long and impressive excursis on Anglican churchmanship—certainly worth reading on that subject–that comprises the largest part of this report is nothing but an immense red herring that leads not to the point but away from it, just where its authors wish their readers to be, especially the bishops–whom they must hope are both cowardly and weak-minded, for if they do not go the way of the Task Force, they will find themselves on high and perilous ground where they will face the daunting duty of being bishops, responsible for making decisions that will upset a great many people by marking certain popular ideas and institutions as heterodox. The bishops would have to take personal responsibility for deciding whether women’s ordination is right or wrong, and if wrong, what must be done about it in the ACNA.

 

This task force’s conclusions on Part 4 can easily be extrapolated from Part 3, where no convincing reason for the denomination-wide adoption of any one of what are presented in it as four family rules could be found. This is what one can expect in January from the Task Force, unless it is reconstituted or disbanded so the bishops can go it alone without the ring that is being installed in their collective nasal septum.  Here is what the Task Force will conclude : Arguments pro and con (including the one found here) all carry some weight, but at the end of the day they are, taken as a whole, inconclusive because they are associated with conflicting and inconclusive ecclesiologies.  On that account, for the sake of unity, no departure from the status quo, that is, the denominational acceptance of women’s ordination, can be urged.  There you have it.

 

The question of whether women should be ordained to the office of presbyter or bishop is a binary matter: they either should or shouldn’t; there is no middle way. In this Report we find as the last gasping attempt a prophylaxis that those who come to a conclusion that harms the unity of the denomination (characterized throughout as the Church) are doing the work of the devil, whose strategy is to divide and conquer.  In this one smells the old slogan heard so often in days when conservative Episcopalians were being moved out of the Episcopal Church and some of them would not leave: “schism is worse than heresy.” No, it’s not. Heresy forces schism and the heretics, not those who separate from them, are the ones who have created the division. Dividing light from darkness is the work of God, not the devil, and the authors of the Report have, it seems to me, taken a very great spiritual risk in making this application.

 

They have made their opinion clear enough, but I must say, depicting their opponents as the co-operatives of Satan is pretty cheeky. And there is no little irony here in that the Task Force’s strategy for conquest is dependent upon what it makes of its own tetrapartite division of the Anglican house—a division that need not bear theologically upon the question of women’s ordination at all.  I hope the rascals don’t get away with it, but wouldn’t be the least surprised if they do.

 

 



The Conservative Episcopalian Mess
Sunday, June 19, 2016, 4:41 PM

For more than thirty years now I have been an observer and sometime participant in what I will here call the conservative Episcopalian mess. The departure of more orthodox Episcopalians from an apostatizing mainstream headed by weak and clownish English archbishops and astoundingly aggressive heretics in North America, contained no real surprises, for this is the predictable fruit of religious liberalism hatched upon an ignorant, passive, and venal laity, that we have seen in other major Protestant churches, and from which modern Roman Catholicism, especially under a Nice Pope, is unlikely to be much of a refuge.

What I have found somewhat surprising, I suppose because my knowledge of the ecclesial geography was not very deep early on, was what a hard time conservative Anglicans have had getting their act (literally) together. Now to be sure, my “geographical” knowledge has increased over the years, so that I understand quite well that “conservative” applies to a number of incompatible or barely compatible attitudes. It covers the traditionalist for whom a charge of heresy applies to any change from the 1928 Prayer Book (even though that Prayer Book is a liberalization of older ones—it leaves out, for example, the bride’s charge to “obey”), to the dotty eccentrics of many varieties for which this Church is so famous, to those who reject women’s ordination principally because they are homosexual misogynists, to the odd clerical ducks for whom departure from the Episcopal Church gave them the chance to become bishops (the Volo Episcoparis and their numerous episcopi vagantes), to sober, reasonable, and catholic-minded Christians who loved the beauties of the most liturgically traditional, least sectarian-minded, and most cultured of Protestant churches.

Many of the latter (almost 1,000 parishes) have been shaken down now into yet another continuing Anglican establishment, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), which, however, cannot make up its collective mind about the original reason for the modern day schisms among the churches of the Anglican Communion, namely, women’s ordination. To effect the unification of the new denomination, a compromise similar to that used by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church has been used: whether women can be ordained to the presbyterate is decided locally; in the case of ACNA, who may be ordained is governed by the canons of the individual dioceses, which vary.

Presiding Bishop Foley Beach, who is himself opposed to women’s ordination, notes in favor of the arrangement that “a lot of the women priests in ACNA have stood side-by-side with a number of our bishops and clergy who are against women’s ordination when they were in the Episcopal Church. These women argued for the right of these bishops to have the freedom to not ordain women. Women’s ordination is a very complicated issue, because we’ve got people who have given their heart and soul on each side. And, these people are sincere; they’re godly”

This is the center of the mess. The sort of people who should be in authority in the churches should evince the kindness, loyalty, and reasonableness seen in Bp. Beach. Here we have no evident crotchetiness, misogyny, queerness, vain ambition, pigheaded resistance to reasonable change, or simpering, lacy, power-addicted prelacies. The women priests are doubtless superior Christians of deep sincerity, and when considered functionally, pastoral competence.

But they are not men. As worthy as they may otherwise be, they cannot stand in the place of the man, with all the theological, sacramental, and symbolic significance of the male who is Christ, the head of the church, and in whose place the officiant at pulpit, altar, and the father of the congregation stands. The conservative priestess does not mean to, but she denies Christ by denying the testimony of his maleness as the incarnate Son, and stands where she does with and because of egalitarians who set the sex of the Lord at nought by teaching that the significance of his incarnation and Lordship lies only in his humanity and not in his sex. Translated into the convictions of the mediating churches this means that women priests, being fully human, are for that reason seen as just as qualified for the presbyterial office as men are—and in the case of the leaders of ACNA—that the denomination as a whole, in its generosity, good temper, reasonableness, and patience, is willing to give forth an uncertain sound on the “oughtness” of women’s ordination.

Who will deny that many women presbyters have the most pious intentions and aspirations?  But what does this matter when the question of whether they may hold this office is essentially theological, and calls for a yes or no conclusion?  I would ask ACNA in particular whether their toleration of women priests can stand up to serious examination in light of the doctrines to which they profess to hold, reflected in the symbolic life of their church, and whether a negative response to this question can sustain adequate ground for including in their communion those who answer it positively. The issue goes to the heart of the doctrine of Christ (that is why egalitarian theologians are so concerned with leveling the Trinity to comport with their views), and because of this it is a matter of “essentials” that cannot be treated as adiaphora or an article covered by exhortations to charity.

This confusion is of the least eradicable kind, for it is found where there is much solid thinking, good will, reason, courage, and integrity, so that addressing the problem properly looks like the pettiness and compulsiveness of inferior versions of continuing Anglicanism from which many of the member churches of the ACNA have made a long and painful escape, and in which this seemingly small measure of liberality is a valued–and necessary–part of a new identity.



To an outstanding young friend, dejected because he was an unsuccessful candidate for a teaching position at a Christian school
Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 9:03 PM

You are to be congratulated on your way of handling yourself throughout the interview process. You have not lied to anyone or misrepresented yourself or sold out your convictions, or faked being a native speaker of the patois of the group that owns the school. A great many do this sort of thing and jeopardize their souls in the process.  I’ll give an example: a seminary I know, in line an old teetotaling ethic, had a written rule that faculty members were not to use alcoholic beverages.  Many of the teachers I knew there gained their jobs by signing on to this rule–they could not have been hired otherwise–but ignored it in practice.  They did no drinking on campus, and the administration had ways of letting them know that as long as they were discrete about it elsewhere, there was no problem.  Everybody understood the real state of affairs, but no one dared to speak out against the non-Christianity of teetotalism (as C. S. Lewis said, Mohammedanism, not Christianity, is the teetotal religion), so the school was on this and other matters immersed in the culture of a lie.

Once you start doing this kind of thing your conscience is damaged and greatly weakened.  You know you are lying before God and man, and people with weakened consciences are very susceptible to doing more, and eventually worse, things than whatever it was upon which they made their first compromise.  Eventually the school did do worse, much worse: it bought into the egalitarian heresy, and if the general history of schools founded as “Christian” is any indication, it may be expected to continue taking the path of least resistance to the Spirit of the Age in its theological and moral decline, and the term “Evangelical” in its self-description will mean about as much as “Catholic” means at Georgetown or Villanova.

The greatest practical advantage of maintaining your integrity of conscience is the (possibly accurate) awareness that you are pleasing God, and that because of this he approves of, and is overseeing, your course of life.  This is a great comfort, and it increases as you grow older and are able to view your past from a higher and broader perspective.  You will see, for example, how doing what you did was the appropriate pedagogy for what you are doing, and how many missteps you were saved from by staying honest and doing the right thing–and how what was so bitterly disappointing in your rejection at the time was in fact a merciful act of God.  There are some things, like the death of a child, where I suppose the necessary perspective and appropriate gratefulness for God’s mercy, is normally gained in the world to come, but others in which you can see him working to your advantage while you are still in this one.

I once thought I wanted to be an Episcopalian priest, and took the first steps in that direction, but was disqualified because I would not tell the examiners in the Diocese of Chicago under Bp. Griswold what they wanted to hear on certain points of progressive religion.  But my friends who were “successful” candidates are now out of the Episcopal Church if they remained faithful to their ordination vow to “banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s Word,” which, like the non-drinking rule at the Evangelical school, was understood by everybody who professed it not really to apply. Whoever decided to play the game and stay in, pretending that the filth did not exist, became just another microbe in the Episcopalian sewer.  They had a simple choice: integrity before God and a clean conscience–or the job they wanted.  The story in the Bible of Esau selling his birthright for a dish of stew (Gen. 25: 29f) is exactly what we are talking about here.  For God’s sake and your own, never do it.  Gratefully take whatever he gives you, even if you don’t think it’s what you want.  He knows what he’s doing, and is trying to teach you things you need to know.

 

 



Leaving the Schismatics
Friday, June 3, 2016, 1:02 PM

Rather than make this part of the response commentary on my previous posting, I will give it emphasis by creating a new one here.

One of the tools of the true schismatic is the accusation of schism leveled at those who leave the fellowship into which he  has introduced false doctrine or practice. The accused are frequently those sensitive to the charge of sundering the Body of Christ, who will go to very great lengths to avoid even the appearance of it.  I have found such people frequently lack the ability or the will to think clearly about the nature of change in a church, so to identify a schism from which they, in leaving the church that accuses them, are in fact abandoning the real schism to rejoin the greater Church from which their group has departed by its innovation.

The ordination of women is a good case in point. It does not take any sophistication to ascertain that (1) it is not a historical practice of the Church, Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox, but only of a few outlying sects, (2) in the modern context it continues to be a practice of a few outlying sects, of a liberal Protestantism far gone in doctrinal decay even before the introduction of the innovation, and of liberalizing Evangelicalism and, (3) it divides the churches (i.e., creates schism) even more than they presently are on the basis of a novel teaching about the nature of the presbyter’s office. These observations can easily be made prior to consideration of biblical or theological explanations of why the change should or should not be made.

I believe that clear perception of the three points above should more than suffice to show that those who ordain women are schismatics, and consequently one must, to reject the schism, leave it to rejoin those who have not adopted it.  But in many people’s minds a fog sets in here.  Instead of concentrating on the main and obvious points, they, for weak and insufficient reasons, remain in the schismatic fellowship, where engines that generate and perpetuate the fog are kept working as long as it is needed to keep them from leaving their pews.

My experience of this miasma includes a much-beloved bishop standing up and proclaiming in tears that “schism is worse than heresy,” which meant he was content to let the wolves devour his flock since killing them was cruel to animals. It also implied that those who wanted to remove the sheep from the slaughter-pen were bad shepherds, while he, who just wanted everybody to be Nice, was a good one.  One must play the man and say to hell with all that. Part of that includes tossing off those who, to draw people into a labyrinth of confusion, want to identify clarity with simplicity.



Frustration: To a Friend Who Suspects I Might be a “Church Hopper”
Tuesday, May 31, 2016, 12:29 PM

Oh for heavens, sake.  We attended Episcopal churches for fifteen years until it became plain that the likes of us were no longer welcome, have now been in the same Evangelical church for more than twenty, and are mentally fortifying ourselves for a possible move in the next few years with a changing of its pastoral guard.  Does this make us church-hoppers, or indicate in any way that we are seeking a flawless church?  How simple do you think I am?

We are in a historical situation where there is great turmoil, where churches make major changes in teaching and practice constantly–and this includes the Roman Catholic Church, which  in my experience is usually a liberal Protestant church anyway.  When I was a boy being raised in a large Baptist church, things were pretty stable.  The church had existed in its then-current form for more than a hundred years.  Our manner of worship was traditional Protestant of the Reformed variety–very close to that of conservative Presbyterians or Congregationalists.  That particular church no longer exists, except as a campus of a multi-unit megachurch whose “traditional” service of worship (which we attended a few years back) was a garish show of hard-pounding religious rock presided over by a perpetually grinning master of ceremonies who was apparently the pastor, although we couldn’t tell for sure.  It probably didn’t matter, the medium being the message and all.  The word “Jesus” was used a lot, but as the alleged referent of everything that was going on there, it lacked more than a little in evangelical credibility.  If this offering was the “traditional” service, I would hate to imagine the “contemporary” one.

We are less like church-hoppers than people fairly steady in faith and practice who are continually having to flee burning ecclesial villages as the barbarians advance.  I make no apologies for it, for we are in an age where hard decisions must be made in the context of that situation.  The culture is in decline, and with it the churches that pander to it, into the stultification which those raised on better fare find intolerable, and not just for matters of taste–even though (and I will say it) our taste is superior to that of the barbarians, for it is forged in the wisdom of the ages and the music of the spheres rather than splanchnic whimsies which the continual invocation of somebody called Jesus does little to improve.  For the sake of myself and my family, you will find me “hopping” as often as I need to.



A Few Observations from One of the Idiots
Sunday, May 15, 2016, 5:41 PM

In a May 7 New York Times Op-Ed column titled “A Confession of Liberal Intolerance,” Nicholas Kristof wrote,

We progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

“Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.

“The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.

[And here is the best one:]

“Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?”

Of course, none of these reactions are news to those who, whether teachers or students, are on the receiving end of the academy’s ever more doctrinaire liberalism. Christians, however, may do well to recognize a validity hidden in Michelle’s assertion that truth has a liberal slant, for their Lord had a deserved reputation for offending a conserving establishment that he accused of misrepresenting the original intention of the divine Law. His disruptiveness in a conservative context was in service of superior principles from which an inferior conservatism was in fact a rebellion. Here is the connection between Christianity and the liberal idea to which Michelle alludes but understands very imperfectly: the follower of Christ is likely to be at war with all kinds of conservatisms, including that of liberals whose progressivist dogmas are held as inflexibly as those of any fundamentalist. She does not understand that truth sublates the subjunctive concepts of liberal and conservative. One cannot be liberal or conservative relative to the truth. Socrates would understand.

Christians interested in higher learning tend to accept ignorance of their faith and bigotry against it in the universities as part of the lay of the land, and have found ways of dealing with it. They will choose, for example, fields and departments where their religious opinions are generally regarded by those working in the field as irrelevant, or reasonably irrelevant, and where there is little or no ideological component to evaluation of their academic work.  They will find advisors whose attitudes are like those of Mr. Kristof, who, though liberals themselves, have a reputation for treating Christians fairly and protecting them from prejudices like Steven’s—and have the will and power to do it.  There are still liberals who make genuine efforts to live up to that name (as most of my own college professors did forty years ago), and who have a studied live-and-let-live attitude toward those with whom they tend to disagree. With these the competent Christian generally has no difficulties.

While academic Christians will typically avoid schools and fields with a reputation for hostility against Christianity, many abandon Christianity as too difficult or risky to maintain in a university environment–taking the doctorate is paramount–so learn to think, act, and work like the people they are trying to please—what one might call the “Esau Method,” calculated at first to be revocable, but then found too profitable and comfortable to abandon. Many former Evangelicals have grown fond of lentils during graduate school.

One of the most significant bars to Christian participation in university life will be the test, even if informally administered, of acceptance of homosexuality. Because of the confusion of many religious conservatives on egalitarianism, in Evangelicalism in particular, capitulation to feminist demands on writing and speech never became the bar to religious conservatives’ participation in university life that it might have been if there were more acute awareness of its meaning.

The sexual confusion ante, however, is upping. Where there are demands that homosexuality be accepted as morally benign, if not a positive virtue, where it becomes “part of a conservative worldview that consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” not to mention immoral, and aggressive homosexualists are successful in pressing their case at all possible levels, it will become an absolute impediment to Christian involvement in the university, for there can be no reasonable doubt that Christianity has clearly, consistently, and from its beginnings, regarded homosexuality as sin.

 

 



We’re not Biased–Just Smart!
Monday, May 2, 2016, 9:57 AM

I have recently read a spate of articles on the heavy preponderance of liberal faculty in colleges and universities, defended by statistics that show the more educated a person is, the more likely his views are to lean leftward–used to support the argument that there is no significant hiring bias against conservatives.

The problem here is that bias in faculty hiring is, like many other forms of discrimination, nearly impossible to prove in particular cases.  Hiring decisions not only go on behind closed doors, but can be accomplished by those making the decisions using language in which it is possible that the question of the orientation of the potential faculty member never be explicitly mentioned–even the proverbial fly on the wall could remain ignorant of motives–but is, nevertheless sought for in the information provided by applicants and confirmed, if there are any questions remaining, by interviews.  Conservative orientation is almost impossible to hide, even if explicit identifying questions are not licit, for the sum of telltale signs usually tells the story quite clearly–at least clearly enough to rule the conservative out in a very competitive hiring situation where very small differences are enough to decide between the winner and the losers, and liberal candidates are more than happy to give off the signs that identify them as among the enlightened.  The real reason for rejecting the conservative applicant are never given, but a deficiency as over against the liberal candidates will be found as an adequate reason to reject.

A parallel phenomenon is seen in churches that wish to screen out conservative priests or ministers, and chronicled in a Catholic context by Michael S. Rose’s Goodbye, Good Men.  The rejected conservative is predictably identified as having a damning personal fault like “lack of collegiality,” or “intolerant of views different than his own,” or “lacking a sense of humor” (which the process of examination is unlikely to call forth), or “judgmentalism,” when the real problem, which will become evident during the process–because it will be sought for–will be that he thinks homosexuality sinful, or is opposed to the ordination of women.

I have read comments from those who mock this narrative by observing that it is put forward by people claiming victimhood who deplore the same when they see it among liberals, whose general approach to the opinion that the liberal is increasingly, now perhaps overwhelmingly, characterized by the self-delusion of the bad person who wishes to think himself good, is tu quoque–the rhetorical dodge of neutralizing the charge of lying or malfeasance in particular cases by asserting that their accusers are no better.

 

 



Where Greatness Comes From
Saturday, April 30, 2016, 12:45 PM

I cannot regard my work on earth as done without disgorging somewhere, for the illumination of the world, the Hutchens Theory of the Great Man, for which I expect to become famous.  This seems about as good a place as any to do it:  The Great Man (in every field but the law) is made in disappointing his father’s ambition that he become a lawyer.  The study of history forces one to this conclusion.

This is how I explain my own failure to become Great in current mode by blaming somebody else: my father ruined me by failing to give two hoots whether I became a lawyer.  Others have been more fortunate.



Bird Brains
Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 2:45 PM

Jim Kushiner, whose job responsibilities require him to deal with all us birds at Touchstone, clearly keeps himself current on the literature of avian psychology. Yesterday he sent around this abstract that he obviously couldn’t resist sharing:

Roosters, hawks and dawgs: Toward an inclusive, embodied eco/feminist psychology
Social Sciences, MCTC, 1501 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403 USA. 

Abstract

The gendered exploitation of roosters used in cockfighting is a case example of the social construction of gender via animals — a psychosocial process that injures both people and animals. Similar processes of social construction by way of animals occur in relation to race and sexual orientation, with similarly mutually hurtful results. The rehabilitation of roosters used in cockfighting illustrates the utility of an expanded and amended conception of Herman’s principles of trauma recovery enacted within the emerging insights of trans-species psychology. Those insights lead us toward a truly inclusive eco/feminist psychology centered on acceptance of situated human animality and an understanding of traumatic alienation as a factor in both personal and communal problems in living, including climate change. This perspective shifts the ground for clinical practice, mandating explicit attention not only to interpersonal and intrapsychic cleavages but also to schisms between self and nature, other animals, and one’s own animality.

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Jim’s reference to this fascinating and doubtless important piece of work brought back tender memories. When my nephews were little boys, their folks lived on a small farm where the family kept chickens, all of whom the kids named and made pets of.  When the hens quit laying they were kept in comfort until they died of old age.  My wife’s brother complained that he was running a retirement home for chickens, but was outvoted in the matter of their final disposition by his wife and kids.

Every now and then one of these geriatric fowl started to look or act so sick that the hatchet was called for as a corporal work of mercy.  My sister in law, who I think regarded me as something of a brute, asked me if I would psychosocially process them with hurtful results when the family was out of town. Accordingly, I went over to the farm and did massive rehabilitation of the appointed chicken, traumatically alienating it from its head by means of an intrapersonal cleavage, creating a schism between self and nature which I was told made for a serious climate change when the boys got home and old Bedelia was nowhere to be found.  All this was done with full respect for my own animality and the chicken’s, but a good deal of rather unpleasant trans-species psychological interchange.  Burying dead chickens out behind the barn, though, helped me appreciate the kind of research that starts with a bloody mess then covers it with a heavy layer of well-composted manure.


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