For God So What the World?

Marcher with flag

TGC just ran my review of Os Guinness’ new book. It’s a good book with two serious flaws that will limit its appeal and effectiveness. The more serious flaw is the book’s attitude problem:

Guinness writes like a man who passionately hates the world, and bitterly resents the Western church because it doesn’t hate the world as much as he does. He (very) occasionally affirms that Christians should love the world, but these abstract statements are never fleshed out with particulars, and thus fail to rise above the level of barren platitudes. His operational attitude toward the world, and even more toward the Western church, is always and everywhere law, law, law, and no gospel.

Guinness’s hatred of the world and resentment of the church reach their high point in a shocking passage where he compares religious movements he dislikes to cooperating with genocidal totalitarianism…

That “shocking passage” must be read to be believed . . . so I reprinted it in the review.

These days the church seems to be long on people who can diagnose everything wrong with the modern world, and short on people who demonstrate love and hope.


prickly pear

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

(source: A Hypertext Version of T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”) Continue reading

The Deconstruction of Consent; Or, Re-Inventing the Wheel

through the looking glass

Strange though it seems to have to point this out, shouldn’t someone notice that there is something more profound than irony in the following juxtaposition?

Under the law, a student who has been accused of sexual assault can’t defend himself by saying he thought the accuser was a willing partner. There has to have been “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” Consent, so defined, must be “ongoing throughout sexual activity.”

(source: California Sends in the Sex Police – Bloomberg View)

Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter – appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.

(source: Catechism of the Catholic Church – The sacrament of Matrimony)

Specifically, shouldn’t someone notice that the desired “liberation” of sexuality has–quite unsurprisingly to those who heed the experts in human nature–resulted in ever-more-detailed, ever-more-intrusive regulation of sexuality?  That it has not resulted in greater capacity to enjoy the goods of conjugal union, but in raising the stakes in rationing those goods, so that practically every facet of our commercial and cultural life is dominated by efforts to consume as many “others” as possible?  Continue reading



illiteracy of so many kinds

(Illiteracy has so many faces, these days….)

The Catholic diocese of Harrisburg is teaching boys they shouldn’t wrestle girls and girls that they should expect and want more from boys and men than being slammed by them in a ring. Sounds sensible. A local columnist denounces the diocese for an “archaic” “decree.”

(source: Boys Shouldn’t Wrestle Girls. Is This Really Controversial? | National Review Online)

Well, now, let us pause to wonder what we mean by “controversial.”  I teach my students that it means “reasonable people may disagree” concerning an assertion.  In this sense, surely any important decision might be “controversial.”  This decision may be one such.  However, the local columnist Lopez cites certainly does not help me to decide what “reasonable people” think by supplying illiteracy like the following where reason ought to be:

Such a decree by the Catholic church sends the wrong message. It tells a male athlete that there is no reward for hard work and dedication in this instance. For the female, it has the same directive and taking it a step further, could diminish her self worth.

No one has the right to do that to another person. Sports is a microcosm of life, and we are taught to strive, to excel and reach our goals. When we get knocked down, we get back up and try again.

To me, this is taking that away. That what they — in this case a female wrestler — are trying to achieve doesn’t matter because of some old-fashioned perception that human nature trumps maturity.

What about the kid — male or female — that chooses to run five miles on Christmas morning instead of playing with his new Xbox or smart phone? They stick to a strict diet on these holidays while family members feast.

They deserve better. They deserve the freedom of choice and thinking for themselves. Not having someone do it for them.

(source: Catholic Dioceses of Harrisburg off base with archaic decree about girls and boys in high school wrestling: Elliott |

Well, in any case, no dictionary need now go wanting for usage examples, s.v. “cliché-ridden”! Continue reading

“They’re Kind of the Opposite”

Anna & Elsa kids

I am a happy father this morning.

Last night my daughter was showing me the Frozen decorations we bought for her birthday party. One of them, clearly designed by someone deep in the bowls of the marketing department who was just running on autopilot, displayed this message: “Follow Your Heart.”

“I’m disappointed they put that on there,” I said to Anya. “That’s not the lesson of the movie.”

“What was the lesson of the movie?” she asked.

“You remember,” I said. “Olaf tells Anna: Love means putting other people’s needs ahead of yours.” Then I added the gag from that scene: “You know, like Krisoff, who brought you here to Hans and left you forever!”

We giggled together over the joke, then I brought her attention back to the lesson: “Love means putting other people’s needs ahead of yours.” Not “follow your heart.”

She looked at the decoration in her hand.

She pondered for a moment.

Then she said:

“Well . . . they’re kind of the opposite, aren’t they?”

I am a happy father this morning.

(Backfill here, here, here, and here.)