Opera Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings; World Ain’t Ended Till the Christ Paratroopers In

This (http://bob-rice.com/2012/11/07/the-most-important-result-is-still-to-come/) is very much in line with my own thinking, Bob Rice writes how he working and prayed for this election, and was disappointed, yes, severely, by the result. He goes on to say:

…now have a president who seems to not care about either of those two important issues. He is more concerned with the rights of same sex couples to be married than the rights of unborn children to live. He is more concerned with the “rights” to free contraceptives than the rights of religious freedom.

So… were our prayers unanswered? Our novenas wasted? On the surface, it seems to be that way.

But God isn’t done yet. He just rarely answers prayers the way we think He will.

God isn’t into democracy. Jesus said, “Follow me,” not, “vote for me.” Though we might feel that our prayers for the election weren’t heard, God is bigger than an election. He’s about saving souls and changing hearts.

Abortions in this country are down. Why? Because abortion centers are closing due to movements such as “40 Days for Life.” This is the most pro-life generation the country has ever seen. Hearts are changing. That’s the work of God, not man. Man can create a law to make something “legal” or “illegal.” But only God makes things “right” or “wrong.” The law is external, the Spirit is internal. God is more concerned about the heart.

Same-sex marriage? Yes, it’s disappointing that same sex marriage won a popular vote in Maine and Maryland. Proponents say this is the beginning of a national trend (as if the 30 previous states who voted against same sex marriage don’t matter.) That may be true. But I think we need to do better in talking about what marriage really is. We’ve been hoping for a vote to “protect marriage,” but perhaps we’ve been too focused in “out-voting” the issue than explaining it. Now we have to be more articulate. I can’t see that as a bad thing.

Religious freedom? That battle is far from over. More lawsuits have been leveled toward the Federal Government on this matter than any other in American history, and most of lower court results have been respecting religious rights. Obama’s reelection doesn’t make the HHS mandate a slam dunk, though that would have been nice—just as it would have been a non-issue if Obamacare was flipped by the Supreme Court. But it seems we’re just not going to get any short cuts on this: the issue of religious freedom will need to be directly addressed by the Supreme Court. And that could be a great thing.

One “positive” thing you can say about Obama is that he’s done more to unite the Catholic Church in America than anyone in the past 50 years. He got every Catholic bishop to stand against him. He also did a lot to unite the Christian Church—remember Mike Huckabee saying, “Today, I’m Catholic!” Heck, he even got evangelical Christians to back a Mormon for president.

If we had woken up this morning with the headline, “Romney is the President,” we might have gone back to sleep…

Read, as they say, the whole thing: http://bob-rice.com/2012/11/07/the-most-important-result-is-still-to-come/

About John C Wright

John C. Wright is a practicing philosopher, a retired attorney, newspaperman, and newspaper editor, and a published author of science fiction. Once a Houyhnhnm, he was expelled from the august ranks of purely rational beings when he fell in love; but retains an honorary title.
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70 Responses to Opera Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings; World Ain’t Ended Till the Christ Paratroopers In

  1. The Deuce says:

    Excellent advice. One thought that occurs to me is that we should be doing televised campaigning all-year round. Not political campaigning, mind you, but cultural and spiritual campaigning, and not just when these cultural issues become political issues before election season.

    We should air ads, for instance, in which people who were conceived in rape talk about how grateful they are to their mothers, how grateful they are for a chance at life, and how they think their lives are worth just as much as anyone else’s.

    We should do the same for abortion survivors, with descriptions of how terrible it is that some children have been left on shelves alone to cry themselves to death. We should have chaste gay men describe how fortunate they are to have found Christ to redeem their lifestyles.

    These ads should all end with plugs for support centers, charities, etc, directing people in need to where they can find help. They should be aired year-round, in every state across the country, at all times of day.

    The idea should be to inundate minds across the culture with these ideas, so that they don’t seem bizarre or new when politicians support them at election season, and so that the media can’t paint their own picture of them.

    The question is, how do we make this happen?

    • John Hutchins says:

      More effective instead of ads is making television shows and books that show the issues, not as controversial or something to be discussed but as normal and expected. Twilight, an extremely popular book about things marginally related to vampires, did a lot more for promoting abstinence before marriage then what any number of ads could possibly do.

      The other side is well aware of this, the entire reason that gay marriage is even an issue is due to a handful of television shows in the 90′s and 20′s that showed gays in a positive light but never addressed directly the issue. Showing something as normal makes it normal, placing an ad is similar to attacking it and implies that it is not normal and is something to be discussed.

      • There’s something fundamentally dishonest about this approach, as if men were to be manipulated and did not deserve to be consciously engaged with the issues. Oceania and Eastasia have always been allies.

        • John Hutchins says:

          I don’t think that portraying families as happy, abstinence before marriage as good and desirable, and abortion as terrible is dishonest because that is reality. The other side trying to portray people as being happy and not having any consequences regardless of what they do is very dishonest, but highly effective.

          I would rather tell my children stories about honor and the price of dishonor then debate if they should be honorable with them. If it is something up for debate then one has acknowledged dishonor as a legitimate position.

          • I read books to my children printed before 1950 or so specifically for that purpose: so that on an emotional level their emotions will be in harmony with reality, which is the conservative way, rather than in rebellion against reality, which is the PC way. I want them to hate what is hateful and love what is lovely and to think without thinking about it that what is normal is normal. The PC want the young to look with the eyes of trolls, so that what is fair is foul and perverse is sound, and whatever is ugly is praised, and whatever is normal is hated.

            There is nothing dishonest about teaching using stories and parables and examples. Aesop did it.

            • The Deuce says:

              John:

              Here’s something right up your alley. I’d love to see a list of books you’d recommend to read with ones kids for this purpose, at different stages in their growth. I’ve got a baby boy (pictured), and looking around at this rot, I know I’m going to need all the help I can get.

            • There is nothing dishonest about teaching using stories and parables and examples. Aesop did it.

              Is it not clear, from the form used by Aesop, that his fables are for the inculcation of time-honored virtues? Is this explicitness not a true, morally relevant distinction, between Aesop and Modern Family?

              • Mary says:

                Nonsense! That is the true, morally relevant identity between Aesop and the Modern Family. It is a distinction between Aesop and the moral sewage that is commonplace on the media today, to be sure.

          • More effective instead of ads is making television shows and books that show the issues, not as controversial or something to be discussed but as normal and expected.

            Manipulating, nay, massaging men into morality is sneaky and dishonest if it is done so covertly as suggested here by Twilight and done more effectively by, say Modern Family. If this implicit means were ever explicitly suggested as a way to convert the culture from nonsense, it would be approaching men as things to be shaped rather than men. This covert approach, here labeled “cultural formation,” can only be effective and honest if part of a wider campaign with more explicit elements. (However, these elements seem to be explicitly rejected by the OP.)

            Anyway, cultural formation, if left by itself, wouldn’t work with any staying power. It cannot make victory with backbone. It would be a victory from a JELLO mold, ready to be reshaped at the whim of the mold-makers.

            • “Manipulating, nay, massaging men into morality is sneaky and dishonest”

              I respectfully disagree. As a father, it is my duty to impress into the souls of my children the love of virtue without which no virtue can exist. Honesty, which is (among other things) the intellectual trait without which a man cannot be persuaded by reason, cannot be practiced until after it is loved.

              I trust you see the paradox. Virtue cannot be taught except to students or children already in love with virtue, which cannot be a matter of persuasion, because the intellectual integrity needed to be open to persuasion is itself a virtue. But by stories, parables, examples, praise and blame, applause and shame, can virtue, including the virtues of prudence and reason, be trained into the young.

              As for the staying power, it is only the basics which must be taught by art, example, parable, by images and appeals to the emotion. Once a proper sense of honor and intellectual integrity is seated in the soul, with roots not easily stirred by storms of passion, can a more deliberate and rational method of instruction take place. The axioms of any system must be taken on faith.

              I solemnly assure you that reading PRINCESS OF MARS to my young boys did more to impress them with the virtue of fidelity in love than any long lecture, howsoever well crafted. And unplugging my television keeps away those examples and stories which attempt to make the opposite attractive. They will not be seeing PLEASANTVILLE, that paean to marital infidelity and masturbation, while under my roof.

              • Mary says:

                An experiment tested whether children could be discouraged from lying by hearing “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” or the story of George Washington and the apple tree. Compared to the original experiment, without the story, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” actually increased the number of liars a bit. But the Washington story cut the rate in half. This did applied regardless of whether the children were Americans, and whether they said George Washington or just a random George.

                Stories can inspire virtue.

              • “Men,” not “children.” Do grown adults deserve to be treated like children?

                Also note that this approach was not explicitly rejected EXCEPT when used exclusively. But grown men deserve to be treated like grown men, with the appropriate dignity of adulthood, even when they’ve been prevented from real moral growth.

                Once a proper sense of honor and intellectual integrity is seated in the soul, with roots not easily stirred by storms of passion, can a more deliberate and rational method of instruction take place.

                Whether this happens or not in an individual we can rarely ever know, except after time and reflection. Consider the collapse of Latin Catholicism in the USA after the Jesuits went crazy and the nuns stripped off their habits. All the efforts which seemed so impressive in the period prior to the Council turned out to be the seeds sown on rocky ground, which grow for a time but whither when the sun comes out.

                If we are removing rocks from the soil of a grown man’s mind, we should do him the courtesy of telling him we’re doing it.

                • You seem to have an issue with the nature of reality, not with me. There is nothing dishonest about telling stories. Stories have morals. Stories appeal to the imagination. Immorality frequently makes use of stories to make their evils appear normal. There is nothing dishonest about moral writers using the same tools to make normalcy appear normal.

                  Your comments are some odd overreaction, which had now reached a point of being offensive. You are, in effect, telling me my whole life and life’s work as a writer is immoral.

                  • I’m sorry that it seems this way. This is not my intent. You are a fine author, and a generous host.

                    As valuable as telling stories may be in inculcating virtues — as valuable as a holy life may be — how will men approach it or keep it when battered around by a number of more glamorous stories which are more glamorous and more fictional? Men may read Lord of the Rings and dismiss it as fantasy, and then read any number of trashier novels and believe them more realistic because the author keeps his orcs handsome, and because these novels are more new.

                    There is nothing dishonest about moral writers using the same tools to make normalcy appear normal.

                    Is there anything dishonest when moral writers use these same tools as a means to the end to shape other men?

                    If I have an overreaction, which I very well may, it is because I have a kind of pathology against who Lewis called the Controllers. That the Controllers use this very tool to create men without chests, and have emptied living men of the heart of humanity, tells me that any effort to reverse or cure this process will require not just a new set of subliminal instructions from The Men Who Tell Stories — whether storytellers are moral agents or not, this is how storytellers are perceived by a true man without a chest — but a filling in of that very chest.

                    Where we disagree is in the contention that this something more involves the explicitness of a skeleton, of a spine. If this something more involves something else, I will be most gratified to hear it. But what is that something more? Is it that such stories will represent the moral life itself?

                    In a culture so infected by the denial of absolutes or transcendentals, I have no hope that telling stories will fix the problem by itself. Readers may enjoy dipping into a novel as they sample a flavor of ice cream, or try a new style of sock, but do they have any reason to suppose it the true one when there are many tasty-looking flavors, or many warm-looking socks? Do they have any reason to stop by this particular booth in the wildest marketplace, stop by for good?

                    • Darrell says:

                      You seem to have some fixation that is causing you to misinterpret what everyone else is writing. No one, but you, was discussing evangelization in the sense of converting people to Christianity.

                      What we are saying is that the current cultural trajectory is such that there will eventually be a prime time comedy where a teenage girl has multiple abortions as a running gag set to a laugh track and people will think nothing of it. Not that long ago (relatively speaking) there was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Worf was going to commit suicide because, after an accident, he was going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life and the message was, it’s his decision to make and we shouldn’t interfere.

                      Culturally abortion, suicide, casual sex with multiple partners, etc. is being displayed as the norm. If a character on TV hasn’t had pre-marital sex in high school then there is something wrong with them and if they are a popular character then there will be a story where it happens and is shown to be a fantastic thing. This isn’t theology but simply a cultural wave and the suggestion was there should be a counter wave showing that virginity, for example, is not abnormal — would be more useful than simply pretending everything should be a theology debate.

                    • Maybe the sword cuts both ways, because this comment was not at all about evangelization in the sense of converting folks to Christianity.

                      What you say is true so far as it goes; all I have said (of that which has been on-topic) is that it does not go far enough. Not nearly.

                      This isn’t theology but simply a cultural wave and the suggestion was there should be a counter wave showing that virginity, for example, is not abnormal — would be more useful than simply pretending everything should be a theology debate.

                      All arguments are theological arguments. Yet nowhere had I said that “everything should be a theological debate.” (With, I think, the support of Chesterton, everything already is a theological debate, and there is nothing we can do to change it.)

                      At the risk of cliche: It is not an either-or. It is a both-and. Stories and ad campaigns, a holy life and preaching, on moral values as well as theological truths which are the key to those values.

                      By the by, is there any better fixation than eternal truths, for the sake of individual persons? How is a Christian life along any other lines?

                    • Keep in mind that it was CS Lewis who first convinced me that my writing my serve the ends of which I speak. He said one of the main purposes of poetry and stories was to train the soul to have the prosper, i.e. in accord with nature, stock emotional responses to stock things.

                      But there is nothing wrong or evil or deceptive or underhanded about using poetry to teach philosophy any more than there is something wrong with combing your hair and brushing your teeth before going out on the first date. Tbe evildoers use poetry to train the souls of their audiences to have the wrong reactions to things, to look at adultery as funny, or divorce as laudable; but they cannot back up their emotional conditioning by appealing to the reason and giving a rational argument to justify those reactions.

                      Now then, because I can give a philosophical argument to show that normal family life is normal, does that mean I should not show family life as normal in my art? Does it suddenly become underhanded and sneaky and EVIL of me to portray things as I see them? Or is it evil if I wish others to see things as I do?

                      Let me give you a specific example from a book I wrote. In ORPHANS OF CHAOS, I deliberately added a scene where Quentin the magician insists his brothers and sisters stop and bury properly a corpse they find. I did this because I wanted my readers to think of respect for the dead as normal, something even a pagan witch from outside the universe has enough decency to respect. I also, frankly, meant it to upbraid and shame those modern men who speak of recycling bodies or extract organs without the prior consent of the donor.

                      Nowhere in the book do I say that it my intent, but it was my intent. If, by your standards, that is deception, your standards are false-to-facts.

                      “I have no hope that telling stories will fix the problem by itself. “

                      Nor do I. Nor does anyone.

                    • Darrell says:

                      No one has said that stories depicting normal as normal is _all_ that is needed. What people have argued is that it is both helpful and needed. You are the one who has been arguing that such stories would be both immoral and useless.

                      If you are asking does theology matter then I would answer of course it does. This is the rift between Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism writ small.

                      All arguments are not theological arguments though many, if not most, arguments (if drilled down into enough) rest on theological axioms or assumptions.

                      Once again, everyone’s point has been that it is not either/or but both. You are the one who has argued that normative stories are morally suspect if they are intended as normative.

                      To answer your questions, “By the by, is there any better fixation than eternal truths, for the sake of individual persons? How is a Christian life along any other lines?” I would quote 1 Corinthians 13:1 and also state that it can be off-putting for many people in how matters of faith are brought into a conversation.

                      While I am not a Roman Catholic myself, you are the first that I have met whose arguments strike me as coming from a Pentecostalist tradition where the world is borderline evil and you have to keep a close-eye on anyone that talks about “good works” as they clearly don’t know that salvation is through faith alone! This us why I asked if you ever talk to your priest about your evangelization. Not because I think that you shouldn’t do it, but because I’d like to think that he could offer you advice on how not to come across as so shrilly strident.

                    • Maybe it is this against which I rebel: That the utility of things be such an overbearingly important consideration in many discussions like these. Should it not be enough that a thing be beautiful, and old, and true?

                      Way I hear it, that is more the rift between Catholics and Orthodox. When Catholics and the rest of the Latin West seek to remake things in order that they may be more useful or intelligible— *cough* Novus Ordo *cough*— the Orthodox rightly reject a strong idolatry of a strong heterodoxy over a whimpering heteropraxis. If heterodoxy wears the crown, it ought to be a crown of thorns.

                      So I shudder with horror against the idol of utility, that mechanical Moloch which is “effectiveness”, as if confronted with child pornography. Not everything ought utterly reduce to rationalism, to utility. If human reason may tug at the heartstrings of beauty or truth, if it may bring hints of the Divine Liturgy of Heaven itself, if it may draw faint, whispering lines in a sunlit sky, it is not the foundation of the larger picture. That throne belongs alone to the living Incarnate Word, Who no man can fit inside his mind.

                      If we win the victory by formal reason, or by mere formal obedience, we keep propped open a door for men who would twist these things, usurp the power in an evil way, and finally ascend to Controllerhood.

                      I’m sorry for my overreaction, which this whole thing has been.

                      Being strident comes from writing as I talk, or by coping the style of dead men I admire who knew more than I ever will. I’m much more genial and slap-on-the-back in person, I promise. At least, that’s how I think of myself.

                    • I am an artist and a philosopher. I serve both the true and the beautiful. Your words deeply offend me, whether you mean it or not. It is perfectly clear you are exasperated with some OTHER idea unrelated to the idea we are talking about: the idea of propaganda.

                      But your argument is that all art, because it is art, is propaganda. That is the argument of Hell, which the Enemy utters in order to justify propaganda.

                    • I’m afraid it is my turn to scratch my head.

                    • Darrell says:

                      Ubiquitous

                      I suspect that you believe you have stumbled across some great insights into the secular challenge to Christianity. Perhaps you have, but with all such discoveries you should be careful that your insights are consistent with what your faith tradition teaches. If they are not then you need to pray for guidance as to whether you should submit or seek a tradition outside of the one that you are in.

                      Whether an idolatry of utility and a lack of spine are in fact pernicious tendrils corrupting Roman Catholicism and/or the secular world I don’t know. You have packed too many ideas that you haven’t placed context around into a post that has an oddly poetic or archaic cast to it that makes it very difficult to unpack and understand.

                      When you write that the Latin West seeks to “remake things” so that they are more useful or intelligible you might be right but that isn’t, if I understand you rightly, the fundamental argument that Orthodox Christianity has with Roman Catholicism. Fundamentally the Orthodox Christian Church views itself as the guardian of the Deposit of the Faith and as such we are reluctant and slow to change (when we are willing to change at all) but it is because we are, in a sense, the original Constitutional Originalists and we are always fearful how change will impact the Deposit — which, as an example, is unbelievably enough why many of our churches still use the Julian calendar.

                      We may carefully make the Deposit more intelligible (as we have, for example, with dogma) but we can NOT add to the Deposit. Orthodox Christians believe that Roman Catholics have added to the Deposit via heretical dogma. This, by the way, is why there can never be the magical deal that everyone is always talking about to rejoin Roman Catholicism with Orthodox Christianity unless by deal, people mean a return to the form of the Church prior to the Great Schism — which is essentially where Orthodox Christianity already is.

                      There is an argument that Roman Catholicism is more rational than Orthodox Christianity while Orthodox Christianity is more mystical than Roman Catholicism. I don’t know if this is true, but I would argue that Orthodox Christianity has a tendency to answer questions differently than Roman Catholicism does because it has less of a concern with philosophy and rationalism and is far less legalistic in its nature.

                      I believe that you are a good guy which is why I’ve bothered to have this discussion with you at all. It is simply the “wrapping”, if you will, of your message that concerns me. You sometimes come across as borderline fanatical and this will cause people who should hear your message to tune you out. Obviously I believe that you have a number of heterodox beliefs (and some that might even be heterodox within Roman Catholicism) but I only know where the Church is, not where it is not, so I trust that anyone who strives faithfully to lead men to Christ (not frighten them away from Him) and seeks to live a holy life will be granted God’s grace to become like Him and enter into the Kingdom.

            • John Hutchins says:

              One should not need to discuss the merits of killing babies or the elderly in order to show that it is wrong.

              “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6

              • Exactly — a child. But for wayward adults, is this really a remedy keeping in the forthrightness adults deserve?

                • John Hutchins says:

                  Is writing a book that contains a story where the characters are virtuous and honorable and the effects of not being so are shown keeping in the forthrightness adults deserve?

                  • So long as it is part of a larger campaign? Yes. But if story and images are used at the expense of a more explicit message, the message suffers. None of the hard work of tilling the rocky soil happens.

                    In short: Jesus spoke in parables, but he did not just speak in parables.

                    • John Hutchins says:

                      I am not suggesting that people not live honorable and virtuous lives but instead just tell stories about honor and virtue. In this context, there is your larger campaign.

                    • Was Christ’s example, and were His parables, sufficient? Apparently not. If it was not sufficient even for Him, then how could the larger campaign composed merely of good example and covert cultural massaging be effective? These are indeed indispensible from a campaign of evangelization. But though necessary they are insufficient.

                      There’s that apocryphal quote from St. Francis which comes to mind: “Preach the Gospel always; if necessary use words.” I imagine St. Dominic rolling his eyes, replying succinctly: Sometimes words are necessary.

                      The point: These are not always the words of a similitude. These must also be the explicit words of the Gospel, preached with confidence. By the very examples of Paul, and Peter, and Christ Himself, it is clearly not enough to leave a man alone with scripture and ask him to pray about it.

        • Darrell says:

          I don’t understand how the Orwell reference applies.

          Mr. Hutchins is suggesting that you look at mass entertainment and how it portrays certain ideas as either the unquestioned norm or at least the norm among the protagonist(s). How often in a film or TV show do you see a sympathetic person of faith and how faith informs their life. How often do you see a child ask a parent about God and receive anything other than a cynical answer or a response of, “I don’t know, we all have to decide what we believe on our own.”

          How hard is it to write an authentically devout detective, scientist, or reporter? How hard is it to have a priest in a TV show or book that isn’t secretly monstrously corrupt? People believe that mass market entertainment is a reflection of society and all that they see is a promiscuous and deeply secular society.

          A, somewhat dated, example is this article about the characters of ‘Friends’ sex lives. Note in particular what is considered long term relationships.

          http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/friends-sex-lives-by-numbers-216527

          • We, by the same apparatus used to destroy the fabric of morality, propose to fix it. This has the explicit danger of reducing this struggle to a power struggle. And the effect on the mind of men merely molded, rather than taught?

            Homosexual relations have always been a natural good, and never been a natural evil.

            And the following day (as if it would be this quick):

            Homosexual relations have always been a natural evil, and never been a natural good.

            This, at least, was what I intended to get at.

            • John Hutchins says:

              Is telling a story about a hated enemy caring for someone that is having difficulties while those that are responsible for caring for that person act indifferently reducing things to a power struggle and merely molding the minds of men rather then teaching them?

            • Darrell says:

              I’m not certain if you’ve read 1984 as your example doesn’t seem pertinent, but at any rate I don’t know that either side is explicitly attempting what you are suggesting but tend towards the opposite – i.e. look at how advanced we are to have left behind Bronze Age beliefs.

              However, I think that you are missing the point Mr. Hutchins was making. He suggested that rather than an AD CAMPAIGN that it would be wiser to craft stories where it was unexceptional that a happily married husband and wife raised a family, where it was not commented on that a family was Christian and attended church, where a priest character was not rendered ‘realistic’ by making him a pedophile, alcoholic, or secret non-believer.

              That you find this comment at all controversial strikes me as showing that the deeply secular culture is winning. We don’t need to ‘teach the controversy’ because there is no controversy.

              Does this mean that there should be no catechizing, evangelization, or theological discussions? Self-evidently not. But, that does not mean that everything must be a debate or an advertising campaign.

              • It is certainly true that true fiction may baptize the imagination, whether this is implicit as in LOTR or explicit as in The World, the Flesh, and Father Smith, it is not this point which has been disputed.

                However, I think that you are missing the point Mr. Hutchins was making. He suggested that rather than an AD CAMPAIGN that it would be wiser to craft stories where it was unexceptional that a happily married husband and wife raised a family …

                If my memory is not faulty, Mr. Hutchins has on many occasions exceeded his comments here, as have many of his coreligionists, in saying — and this is a crude paraphrase — it is enough to bring a casserole, let the kids play soccer together, and leave potential converts alone with their scriptures. So it is against this these responses must be read.

                Does this mean that there should be no catechizing, evangelization, or theological discussions? Self-evidently not.

                In my experience, and my memory of the explicit mining of Mormon minds is certainly not faulty on this point, rigor in theology runs against the grain in the LDS communities so far as I have known them. Nothing, online or in person, has served to disabuse me of this growing sense, only increase it.

                Theoretically, this could be my fault. But I, a sinner, have no reason to suppose so.

                More and more, this seems true: Evangelization of any form — moral or theological — when it is is merely a soft sell, it has merely a soft spine. Decency does not last long in a hostile culture if it does not run deep. It does not run deep in an adult convert without a deep, thorough cleaning. This cleaning, if done by God through human hands, is done most rigorously done when the approach includes is a very strong element of explicit catechesis, of a serious theology, after an active evangelization.

                • John Hutchins says:

                  I was not referring to religion at all but to morality, which admittedly does have some relation to religion. We certainly don’t agree on lots of subjects in terms of theology but in terms of morality the areas of debate are extremely limited.

                  ” it is enough to bring a casserole, let the kids play soccer together, and leave potential converts alone with their scriptures. ”

                  Do what? You do realize that mormons generally spend two years after high school preaching the gospel full time at their own expense?

                  But regardless, as I think I understand what you are misinterpreting, why does Mormons being good Christians and trusting that God will lead people to the truth scare you? Do you avoid reading your scriptures because Mormons believe that if you read and believe the Bible you will eventually accept the Book of Mormon?

                  “rigor in theology runs against the grain in the LDS communities ”

                  I am not sure what of our discussion which has filled pages on five different sites has led you to the conclusion that soft sell is the only thing that Mormons use. I don’t know that anyone has a desire that we continue that discussion. I don’t know that you have ever understood (or actually tried to understand) many of the basics of our beliefs.

                  • Mormons are experts at the natural goods. But even the best natural good cannot be called Christian if it does not involve Christ. Mormons, of course, say they involve Christ, and this is a larger point of dispute than should be discussed here.

                    There should be a few fast distinctions: Rigor in theology does not equal rigor in reading the Bible. It is quite possible to read the Bible and know its words without a hint of its meaning. (Skeptics Annotated Bible, anyone?) Moreover, it is quite possible to arrive at different conclusions given the data of the Bible.

                    Rigor in theology neither does not equal rigor in evangelization or apologetics. Mormons are great at going door-to-door, at casseroles and soccer games, picnics and singles nights, at defending particular doctrines with a clever word.

                    Theology is the part of religion which requires brains. It should build up the truth, not defend an a priori assumption, for then it is only apologetics.

                    In any case: We’ve been arguing all this time about the soft sell. That, more than any theological point, is what has filled pages. It is an empirical fact that, in my experience in person with Mormons, that the approach is to ask men to read their book and pray about it. If I, a sinner, am not mistaken, there are points where you, Mr. Hutchins, have said as much.

                    But regardless, as I think I understand what you are misinterpreting, why does Mormons being good Christians and trusting that God will lead people to the truth scare you? Do you avoid reading your scriptures because Mormons believe that if you read and believe the Bible you will eventually accept the Book of Mormon?

                    No. Scripture does not draw me this direction. But I am scared: The imitation of supernatural truth by natural moral goods has terrible effects.

                    1. Men, drunk not on truth but on lesser natural goods, are led a into false religion, imperiling their mortal soul.
                    2. That when leaving this very false religion men leave hard.
                    3. That this leaving spoils the proclamation of the true Gospel, for it is superficially — in moral precept — such a close imitation.

                    For these reasons, I cannot regard Mormonism and Catholicism as cobelligerents. Mormonism is the most effective thing yet devised for undermining evangelization: It is such a superficially close imitation of the true moral life without the theological center, and is so loaded with absurd falsity explained by historical accident — “In my faith America is promised quite a lot of things …”— that it imperils more seriously than the wildest vices the proclamation of truth. (See Chesterton on the wildness of virtues doing more damage than the wildness of vices.)

                    I don’t know that anyone has a desire that we continue that discussion.

                    So I tried to approach it obliquely, and planned that it could come out in time. But that did not happen. So I apologize for wasting your time and patience.

                    • John Hutchins says:

                      “obliquely”
                      sledge hammers are not oblique.

                      “men to read their book and pray about it”

                      You’ve jettisoned the basis for Natural Law previously in order to maintain the claim that this is a soft sell so just because you continue to claim it is doesn’t mean that anyone is obliged to agree with you.

                      “The imitation of supernatural truth by natural moral goods has terrible effects”

                      Like good neighbors, casseroles, soccer games, singles nights, chastity and virtue, love for fellow men, community involvement, and service to the poor and needy.

                      The two great commandments are loving God and loving ones fellowmen. Keeping the commandments demonstrates love for God. Men can know if someone is a disciple of Jesus if they have love for their fellowmen. Both are determinable by the actions taken, the fruits as it were, and if the fruits are good then the vine is as well as one does not gather figs of thistles and bad trees can not bear good fruit. All of that is very scriptural, yet here you are arguing that a group that you admit demonstrates love for their fellowmen and are virtuous yet claim that we are the vilest of sinners, a very odd reaction calling good as evil.

                      “leaving this [...] religion men leave hard.”

                      So you have noticed this and your response is that we are very false because of this? To me it would seem more a demonstration of truth as it falls completely in line with Hebrews 6:4-6, that having once tasted of the good word of God and then falling away it is impossible that they be brought to repentance (or Matthew 12:43-45).

                      “absurd falsity explained by historical accident ”
                      So prophecies that were given in the 1830′s and then later fulfilled are absurd falsity explained by historical accident?

                      My wife wants to make you cookies to see you run in horror.

                    • It is the imitation of the love of men, like the good woman in Brighton Rock, at which Mormons admittedly excel. Decent, hardworking, studious and friendly. But does this always demonstrate the love of God? It takes knowledge of God to love Him well.

                      It is this point which is in dispute, of course.

                      I’m sorry the oblique course was brought to a head before its time, at which point it became a sledgehammer. I’m sure your wife makes delicious cookies, and I would thoroughly enjoy a visit if I’m ever in town.

                • Darrell says:

                  You should argue the points in front of you rather than assuming context from prior discussions with Mr. Hutchins or nameless Mormons — unless, of course, you are going to expand your posts and supply said context. I didn’t take Mr. Hutchins post to have any overt connection to Mormon theology but was instead about a general US Christian Reformationist/Restorationist culture that is rapidly moving to a secular “if it feels right, it’s okay” culture.

                  Do you ever discuss your Internet evangelization with your priest and show him examples of how you talk to people?

  2. Christopher says:

    As an Catholic and an Englishman, may I recommend ‘The Lord of the World’ by Robert Hugh Benson? Excellent novel.

    God Bless.

  3. Gigalith says:

    It does seem like a series of not-so subtle hints that God wants us to deal with the HHS mess ourselves. First we hoped the HHS would turn back. They did not. Then we thought the White House petition thing would succeed. We got the “compromise”. Then we thought the Supreme Court would overturn it. They did not. Then we thought Mitt would win. He did not. At each step, it is becoming increasingly obvious that we, ourselves, and not a proxy or hero, will have to defeat this evil.

    It is possible the lawsuits may have an effect, and I am wrong. But I would not hope in it.

    • Alan Silverman says:

      Or it could simply be that your god is trying to tell you that the HHS mandate is not evil.

      I realize it’s a ludicrous idea, but I think it prudent that anyone who thinks they have divine providence on their side but continually fails to achieve victory to re-evaluate whether they really do have divine providence on their side.

      • The Deuce says:

        Or it could be that God intends to judge this country with the consequences of its own moral foolishness and self-absorption.

        • Alan Silverman says:

          Also a possibility. It would be in the same style as seen in the Old Testament prophets, if I remember my Bible: “stop doing these things, or bad things will happen” “why did bad things happen?” “because you did things that caused those bad things, and I warned you”.

          (My characterization is a heavy paraphrase, and better Biblical scholars than can likely indicate nuance I dropped)

          • The OFloinn says:

            Certainly, Darwin thought childlessness was a problem, whether they were killed or prevented. The problem for the progressives is that the 20th cent. welfare state is predicated on 19th century demographics and cannot be maintained on 21st century demographics.

      • But we are not promised worldly victory, sir. Quite the opposite.

        • Tom Simon says:

          And America is not promised anything. You are going to fall, and fall hard, and take the West down with you. Nothing can prevent that now.

          • Christopher says:

            Best to leave that to God, do you not think?

            God Bless.

            • Tom Simon says:

              God has spoken through His laws. America — not all Americans, but America as a whole in the public sphere — has rejected those laws utterly. It has also voted to reject the laws of economics and the laws of logic. What, my dear Christopher, do you think can happen? You don’t deserve a miracle and most of you are too far gone even to pray for one.

          • John Hutchins says:

            In my faith America is promised quite a lot of things; primary among them is that as long as the people choose to serve God that America will be a land of liberty for all people and will prosper but that when the majority of people choose evil that America will be cursed.

            • Are we not cursed now? Even in Sodom they did not have gay marriage. They had sodomy, but they did not desecrate the sacrament of matrimony. Two states just voted for gay marriage. Even in Carthage, when they sacrificed children to Moloch, it was not the mothers of their own unborn babies who did it. Antiabortion measured were defeated. And even the Democrat Party did not, before now, boo and hiss at the mention of God and Jerusalem, pulls down crosses, vandalize the monuments to the dead, and so on.

              The majority of Americans did choose evil. That was the meaning of the vote. They chose greed and envy over thrift and work. They chose narcissistic pride over humility. They chose a selfish and sophomoric incumbent over a remarkably generous and charitable challenger of impeccable moral character. They voted for Big Bird rather than for their own children and grandchildren.

              • John Hutchins says:

                Yes, I imagine that the destruction warned about by modern prophets will happen soon.

              • Darrell says:

                Mr. Wright

                I’m not certain that gay marriage is a desecration of the sacrament unless all civil marriages are such a desecration. I was originally married outside of the Church (since my wife and I were atheists that only made sense) but after becoming a Christian I asked my priest about whether my wife and I were married in the eyes of the Church and he responded that we were but he advised that we retake our vows in the Church so that we could receive the sacrament.

                • It is a desecration in that it is a declaration, louder than any words, that sex is merely sexual self-gratification. Homosexuals can masturbate together, and perform foreplay, and have orgasms, and, in short have all the surrounding surface side effects of copulation — but they cannot copulate. They are not a sexual dyad. They cannot mate. They can acted like a mated pair in everything but the mating.

                  The marriage ceremony and marriage vow sanctifies that mating union, and even civil ceremonies carry the sanction or sanctification (such as it is) of the state. Is is the recognition of the laws and customs of the community, of your ancestors and descendants, of the essential nature of the mating union, and it is an approbation, indeed, a vow to protect and glorify, that union.

                  But homosexuals can perform all the actions leading up to that union, but cannot form the dyad. They cannot copulate. They cannot actually have sex. All they can do is have sexual gratification. Masturbation. organism divorced from any purpose or any context.

                  To sanctify the surrounding side effects of mating with a ritual meant to sanctify mating renders the mating ritual meaningless. If a sacred ritual loses its meaning, it is desecrated.

                  This is true even if we use the word ‘sacred’ in its metaphorical meaning, as when we speak of ‘desecrating’ the flag. Whatever secular honor and ‘sanctity’ the blessing of the state bestows on wedlock is taken away, dishonored, desecrated, if “wedlock” is redefined from meaning the institution of the family to mean any long term contract or compact for mutual sexual self-gratification of any sexual appetites whether wholesome or perverse.

                  • Darrell says:

                    Mr. Wright

                    I think we must be defining sacrament (holy mystery) differently as you can’t have a sacrament outside of participation in the Church. A marriage outside of the Church has not been consecrated (and is not a sacrament) and therefore can’t be desecrated and can’t be a desecration.

                    You are allowing secular authorities more power than they have.

                    • I meant ‘sacred’ only in the secondary sense of the word, the way a patriot says his flag is sacred, or a gentleman says his honor is sacred. I was not using the technically precise meaning of the term: I trust this does not confuse you.

                    • Darrell says:

                      Mr. Wright

                      Actually I am a little confused. I was commenting on, “They had sodomy, but they did not desecrate the sacrament of matrimony.”

                      You then, to my mind, responded to my comment with a tangential thought that had very little to with my post. The sacrament of matrimony is a holy mystery and is neither profaned nor desecrated by civil marriages.

                      Perhaps you are suggesting sacred and sacrament are synonyms? If so, I would disagree and would think that treating them as such is simply confusing even if you are trying to use them in some secular sense.

                    • I think I am merely using the words in a secondary meaning and you are insisting on a technical meaning. Aside from telling you what I meant, I am at a loss as to how to explain myself.

                      Flying to my dictionary, I read that “sacred” means: 1. devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated. 2. entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy. 3. pertaining to or connected with religion ( opposed to secular or profane): sacred music; sacred books. 4. reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object: a morning hour sacred to study. 5. regarded with reverence: the sacred memory of a dead hero.

                      Let me repeat: They had sodomy but not gay marriage. Gay marriage is a desecration of marriage. I do not mean “desecration” in the technical sense, meaning 1; I mean it in the broader sense when we speak of a flag being desecrated, meaning 5. Your comment that all secular marriages are not sacred is not true except in the narrow sense of the word, that is, technically, meaning 1.

                      If you think it leads to confusion to use the word as the dictionary has it, we must disagree, but we need not debate the point.

                    • Darrell says:

                      Mr. Wright

                      As I said, you initially wrote about the SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE. You have since completely ignored this and focused instead on the definition of sacred.

                      To me it is akin to saying US patriots view the US Constitution as a sacrament and when someone disagrees commenting on how sacred has many senses it can be used in. This is so, but it has nothing to do with what you actually wrote because you did not initially use the word sacred.

                      At any rate, I agree that it is not worth arguing over as you appear not to have meant sacrament at all.

                    • Darrell says:

                      Mr. Wright

                      On reflection, while I am neither a philosopher nor a physicist, I am an amateur theologian so I may be more sensitive to technical theological terms than is strictly wise. I apologize for any offense that I have given.

                    • If I said anything that led you to believe you gave offense to anyone, it is I who should apologize. I had not idea, indeed, I am surprise and embarassed, that you would take my comment in such a light. There is no emotion involved. I said a sentence that used an ambiguous word. You asked what I meant. I replied that I was using the word in its secondary and not its primary meaning. You said that might lead to confusion. I referred you to the dictionary, which settles any argument about the meaning of words. I do not see where there is any room for either of us to give or take offense.

                      I was not criticizing your choice of vocabulary, nor would I deign to notice if you criticized mine. I have no interest in semantic arguments, no emotional investment in the use of one term as opposed to another.

                    • Darrell says:

                      Mr. Wright

                      I was unsure if I had offended you or not, so I apologized.

                      I would like to note, as it seems I’ve been unclear, I was not discussing your use of the words desecration or sacred as you seem to think but rather your use of sacrament, as in sacrament of marriage. If two men, two women, or a man and a woman are wed by a court official there has been no sacrament of matrimony. I don’t know how I could be any clearer about this.

                      However I now believe that you did not intend to write “sacrament of marriage” but simply marriage, which you seem to view as having some sacred nature even outside of the Church (undoubtedly with some philosophic underpinning) which is why I thought it no longer a conversation worth pursuing.

                    • I admire your courtesy, but you did not offend me. I accept the apology in the spirit in which it was offered, and offer my own in return. Sorry for the confusion.

            • Mary says:

              Yeah, that’s one of the problems we have with you.

          • … and the one thing which let the West rise again shall remain, and shall rebuild the world, as she has always done.

  4. jharmon says:

    I almost hesitate to comment because the gist of what you say is true. Jesus does indeed call us to follow him, demands of us faithfulness rather than success (to paraphrase Mother Teresa). Is it too nitpicky to question this line (Man can create a law to make something “legal” or “illegal.” But only God makes things “right” or “wrong.”)? Is abortion wrong because God made it so (with the implication that he could “make” it right)?

    As far as the conversation above about what God is trying to tell us through the election (bring lawsuits, that the mandate is not wrong, that he’s judging us, etc), this line of thinking seems to be going in the wrong direction we were cautioned about in the original post. The election is a choice (or group of choices) by human beings. It tells us what human beings have chosen; it does not change the our task to love, to use our reason to work out which policies fulfill the demands of justice, work for the common good, etc. The election was merely an election. It told us (no more than did the legislation of the mandate itself) not what God thinks about it, but what a group of human beings think about it.

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