Christenrein

Paul von Hindenburg, president 1925–1934, pain...

Paul von Hindenburg, president 1925–1934, painted by Max Liebermann in 1927 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mark Steyn had some thoughts the other day on the SSM ruling specifically and on the role of these decisions on the future in general. They’re good thoughts, as usual, and should be heeded.

Last week, I swung by the Bill Bennett show to chew over the news of the hour. A few minutes before my grand entrance, one of Bill’s listeners had taken issue with the idea that these Supreme Court decisions weren’t the end and, if you just got on with your life and tended to your garden, things wouldn’t be so bad:

Claudine came on and said that’s what Germans reckoned in the 1930s: just keep your head down and the storm will pass. How’d that work out?

David Kelsey writes from the University of South Carolina to scoff at that:

In one corner, we have government recognition of marriage contracts between gays. In the other corner, we have Jews, Catholics, gays, their sympathizes [sic] and other undesirables being put in Nazi concentration camps.

One of these things is nothing like the other, unless you’re a lunatic. Maybe the reason conservatives keep “losing everything that matters” is because they really can’t tell the difference. Which causes increasing numbers of people to recognize them as lunatics.

Since you call me and Claudine “lunatics”, allow me to return the compliment and call you an historical illiterate. If “one of these things is nothing like the other”, it’s because that’s never the choice: It’s never a question of being Sweden, say, vs being the Islamic State (although, if you’re a Jew in Malmö, they’re looking a lot less obviously dissimilar than you might think).

All societies exist on a continuum. Neither Claudine nor I said a word about “concentration camps”. But you give the strong impression that that’s the only fact you know about Nazi Germany: Nazis = concentration camps, right? No wonder you think everything divides neatly into opposing “corners”. In the world as lived, there are no neatly defined corners. Things start off in the corners and work their way toward the center of the room.

Claudine and I were talking about Germany in the Thirties – before the concentration camps and the Final Solution, before millions of dead bodies piled up in the gas chambers. So you need to have an imaginative capacity. It’s not clear from your email that you do, but give it a go: Imagine being a middle-class German in 1933. No one’s talking about exterminating millions of people – I mean, that would be just “lunatic” stuff, wouldn’t it? And you belong to a people that regards itself as the most civilized on the planet – with unsurpassed achievements in literature and music and science. You might, if you were so minded, call it Teutonic Exceptionalism. And you’re “progressive”, too: you pioneered the welfare state under Bismarck, and prototype hate-speech laws under the Weimar republic. And yes, some of the beer-hall crowd are a bit rough, but German Jews are the most assimilated on the planet. The idea that such a society would commit genocide is not just “lunatic”, it’s literally unimaginable. […]

The National Socialist German Workers Party is the largest party in parliament and thus President von Hindenburg has appointed its leader, Herr Hitler, as Chancellor – not der Führer, just Chancellor, the same position Frau Merkel holds today. And the National Socialist German Workers Party starts enacting its legislative programme, and so a few weeks later the Civil Service Restoration Law is introduced. Under this law, Jews would no longer be allowed to serve as civil servants, teachers or lawyers, the last two being professions in which Jews are very well represented.

But that wily old fox Hindenburg knows a thing or two. So as president he refuses to sign the bill into law unless certain exemptions are made – for those who’ve been in the civil service since August 1st 1914 (ie, the start of the Great War), and for those who served during the Great War, or had a father or son who died in action. And the practical effect of these amendments is that hardly any Jew in the public service has to lose his job.

And so in April 1933 it would be easy to say, if you were a middle-class German seeking nothing other than a quiet life, that, yes, these National Socialist chappies are a bit uncouth, but the checks and balances are still just about working. What’s the worst they can do?

Paul von Hindenburg died the following year, and his amendments were scrapped.

That’s Germany’s civil service in 1933. What of America’s civil service in 2015? […]

So observant Christians will no longer be able to serve as town or county clerk. Are comparisons really so “lunatic”? The logic of the 1933 Civil Service Restoration Act is that the German public service will be judenrein. The logic of the 2015 Supreme Court decision is that much of the American public service will be christenrein – at least for those who take their Scripture seriously. That doesn’t strike me as a small thing – even if one thought it were likely to stop there.

But don’t worry, Supreme Arbiter Anthony Kennedy, like President von Hindenburg, has struck a balance:

Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.

That’s a very constrained definition of religious liberty. He’s not saying you’ll be able to live your faith, but he’s willing to permit you to “advocate” for it.

The Stupidity of Sophisticates :: SteynOnline.

Isn’t that nice of him, for now anyway. We can advocate for our faith, as long, of course, as we don’t offend anybody. How long you think that’ll take? Five minutes or thirty seconds?

Mark ends with this, and so do I, because once it is said, there’s little more to be said, although quite a lot to be done.

For some of us, that won’t do: what matters is the abandonment of first principles – on free speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion and much else – and when that happens you stand against it, because it won’t stop there. It never does

Courage: The Mother of the Virtues

8338172361_4e2a776cc8_k-998x661Tocqueville wrote this:

There are countries in Europe where the native considers himself as a kind of settler, indifferent to the fate of the spot which he inhabits. The greatest changes are effected there without his concurrence, and (unless chance may have apprised him of the event) without his knowledge; nay, more, the condition of his village, the police of his street, the repairs of the church or the parsonage, do not concern him; for he looks upon all these things as unconnected with himself and as the property of a powerful stranger whom he calls the government. He has only a life-interest in these possessions, without the spirit of ownership or any ideas of improvement. This want of interest in his own affairs goes so far that if his own safety or that of his children is at last endangered, instead of trying to avert the peril, he will fold his arms and wait till the whole nation comes to his aid.

I was reminded of it the other day when a car dull of passengers watched an 18-year-old stab a 24-year-old to death, without taking any action whatsoever. In fact, they apparently thought they did the right thing, one of them saying this:

What I don’t wish is that I had somehow tried to attack the assailant. I am a little bit larger than he was, but I would not have won. It’s scary, because if we had been sitting closer and had seen the attack start I probably would have tried to help, and would have been stabbed.

By the way, the perpetrator was huge: 5 foot five and a 125 lbs. 20 or so passengers couldn’t possibly have taken him! The story reminded me of something else. Remember Drummer Lee Rigby, butchered on the street a few yards from his duty station, in London, a few years ago? A the time we had a robust debate on Jess’ site about it, which is here. If one reads that article, one will find a dichotomy. Passivity and dependence on the police by everyone from the UK, and uniform incredulousness at such nonsense from the Americans, who uniformly advocated taking care of business. That’s hardly unusual is it. We, as Americans, have always been that way. Tocqueville also said this:

… in no country does crime more rarely elude punishment. The reason is that everyone conceives himself to be interested in furnishing evidence of the crime and in seizing the delinquent. During my stay in the United States I witnessed the spontaneous formation of committees in a county for the pursuit and prosecution of a man who had committed a great crime. In Europe a criminal is an unhappy man who is struggling for his life against the agents of power, while the people are merely a spectator of the conflict; in America he is looked upon as an enemy of the human race, and the whole of mankind is against him.

It looks to me, and to others as well, as the nanny state is turning us into passive children like the Europeans, or as some say beta males. John Daniel Davidson reminds us:

[…] The main reason I don’t regard it as important is that this was not the answer to some sort of metaphysical mystery. It was not a moment that revealed what I would really do in a crisis, because I was never in that much doubt about how I would act—or at least, how I should act. It’s not that I had a specific plan or some special training that gave me confidence. It was simply that I knew it is possible to act when action is needed, and I expected it of myself.

That’s what’s really disturbing about the reaction to this case: that this expectation of courage is totally disappearing. Courage is now viewed as exotic and unusual and unproven and unknowable—rather than a normal and expected part of being a man.

Or consider the account of a woman who was abused and threatened over a long period of time by two belligerent girls on a Metro car, while 30 other passengers averted their eyes and pretended not to notice. Yet she concludes, “I don’t know if I would have helped me.” Really?

This is about way more than whether you’re good in a brawl. Physical courage is just one form of courage, and when we give up on it, we’re giving up on other forms of courage that we need just as much—particularly moral courage and intellectual courage.

Ironically, the same people now making excuses for cowardice are the kind who engage in exaggerated Kabuki theater displays about how evil slavery was and how terrible the Confederate flag is and how much they furiously oppose them—150 years after it took any courage to do so. But how do they think slavery was defeated? Who do they think took down that flag the first time around? By their own admission, they would have been the ones averting their eyes when they saw a master beating a slave. They would have been the ones to make compromises and concessions every time John Calhoun thundered.

Courage: The Mother of the Virtues.

Incidentally, that same day, in Colorado, a woman, costumed as a wench at a Renaissance Festival, put a man in a headlock after he stole a jouster’s sword. Colorado is not DC, at least yet. :)

C.S. Lewis said, “Courage is not just one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

Bring Me Men

w704It’s been a bit more than a week since we celebrated the 4th of July in our usual bombastic style. I find it fitting that we celebrate like a bunch of kids, we are still a very young nation. Still we are in our young adulthood, and most of the time, we probably should act like it.

I spent a good part of the weekend reading about our failures, mostly of vision. I topped it off last night with a television series documenting the men that built America, and yes I mean built. Tom Scott, Morgan, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Edison, Westinghouse, Tesla, and yes, sadly Frick, as well. Men of vision, and will made of cast iron, who never did understand the word ‘No’.

Quite a contrast to the willful children we are watching who want to be our president, let alone the feckless ‘community organizer’ who is. I think there will be more articles about this, not least because I’m hardly alone in what I’m seeing, and some of the others will be featured here. But for today, let us have a poem, by Sam Walter Foss

The Coming American

On the Fourth of July we all love to dilate
With the thought that we are inexpressibly great;
That we’re all legatees of fate’s fairest bequest,
And that destiny’s egg has been laid in our nest;
That we’ve climbed up the sides, up the roof, and sublime
We stand on the top of the ridge-pole of time.
The horizon’s too narrow to limit our stride,
And infinite space is too small for our pride;
Heaven’s vault is too small our hosannas to ring,
And the zenith too low for our gestures to swing;
Our heads are too tall for the low-studded sky,
And we call for “more room!” on the Fourth of July.

‘Tis a day you expect that the orthodox bard
His poetical bunting will flaunt by the yard;
‘Tis a time you expect his tumultuous Muse
To explode at the end of a sky-rocket fuse.
Still I venture to tempt the bold heretic’s curse,
And tremblingly give my unorthodox verse.

For aren’t we too old to be pleased, like the boys,
With glory and gunpowder, thunder and noise?
Too old to sit down in unruffled sedateness,
And muse on our grand and ineffable greatness?
The loud days of our national boyhood are over,
The barefooted freedom of dew and of clover;
And let us throw off, with the boy’s outworn jacket,
The old day of rollic and revel and racket.
Those days are now passed; they will not come again
We are men. Let us grapple the problems of men.

And as men, may we not, on the Fourth of July,
Some specks in our history’s amber descry?
As the politic small boy will creep, on the sly,
To the side of the table that’s nearest the pie,
So we press around — and the crowding is great —
To the luscious pie-side of the table of fate.
But the small boy will learn, as the swift years go by,
There are viands transcendently better than pie.

Let us look at the sum of our work ‘neath the sun.
Have we yet done as much as the old past has done?
We have built our large cities of marble and brick;
But our Shakespeares and Platos are not very thick.
We have urged them to speak with the best of good-will;
But our Miltons are mute and inglorious still.
Our dawn has now passed, and the morning grows late;
But our absentee Angelos linger and wait.
Our hastening noonday encroaches on morn:
But our Darwins and Newtons have yet to be born.

From the dead buried past there are phantoms arise,
With scorn in the cavernous deeps of their eyes;
And they say, “We have searched for him, patient and far,
Through your broad-acred Land of the Evening Star.
We have called for him long; but his voice is still dumb.
Our brother still lingers; our peer does not come.”

But we have had epics of mighty designs
On manuscript ruled with the longitude lines.
On a continent-manuscript, boldly and free,
We have written our epics in railroads; and we
Have worked out our dramas. Each act is an age;
And a land from the sea to the sea is our stage.
We have grappled with nature, and tamed her.
The fen,
The swamp, and the forest, the wolverine’s den,
The home of the bison, the haunt of the bear,
The thronged and the tall-towered cities are there;
And the nest of the serpent, the wild dragon fen,
Resound with the shouts of the children of men.

Now the snake’s hiss is hushed, and the wolf’s howl is dumb,
Has the hour not struck for our poet to come?
Now our cables are laid, and our railroads are wrought,
Build us temples and fanes for the high-priests of thought.
Now our prairies by million-trod pavements are lined,
Build us highways that stretch to the frontiers of mind.

Now our cities are sown by sea, river, and glen,
Let us look for a harvest of epochal men;
Let us look for a Voice from the wilderness sent
To teach us a wise and divine discontent,—
Discontent at mere bulk, tossed by waves and by breeze,
With no pilot soul on the rudderless seas.
Let us look for great bards whose tones, fervent and strong,
Shall burst like the morn through our twilight of song;
Wise prophets, whose sky-lifted eyes are alight
With a gleam that is caught from the future’s far height,
Who see through the fogs o’er the valley outspread
The sunburst of hope on the mountains ahead.
Is it not time to grow, in town, village, and glen,
A strong breed of men who are saviours of men?
Strong pioneer souls who shall blaze out the way
From the frontiers of night to the borders of day?
Shall not this maternal pure soil of the West
Foster sages and seers on its matronly breast?
Shall we not find once more, in these late years again,
The pride of old Homer, wise shepherds of men?
Let us beckon these men, with our favor and praise,
And giants shall grow in the earth in these days.

We are large, and our largeness there’s none to deny;
But Fate calls, and who answers with brave “Here am I”?
Little Athens was small, but her soul still survives
With gifts of its graces in millions of lives;
But Scythia was large, and the long ages tread
On the answerless dust of her myriad dead.
Little Concord — great sons made this small village great;
Great Chicago — ah, well! We will listen and wait.

There is music, I know, that is hopeful and blithe
In the swing of the sickle, the sweep of the scythe;
In the lisp of the foreplane, the smith’s anvil-peal,
In the roar of the mill, and the clash of its wheel;
There’s a music that’s timed to the rhythmical beat
Of the quick-step of Fate in the thunderous street;
There’s a music that’s played by the breeze and the gale
In the creak of the mast and the flap of the sail;
And there’s something that smacks of an epical strain
In the clank of the engine, the sweep of the train.
This music, though mixed with the toilers’ tired moan,
And mingled with heart-break too deep for a groan,
Is wrought out at length in an anthem sublime
That fills without discord the wise ear of Time.

But this is but prelude Fate’s orchestra plays,
To the strains that shall come in the fulness of days;
For the age-lengthened rhythm beat out by the Fates
In the building of cities, the founding of states,
In the earthquakes of war, in its thunder and groans,
In the battles of kings, and the crumbling of thrones,
Is but prelude that’s written by Destiny’s pen
To herald an epoch of masterful men.

In that day we shall worship, by wisdom made whole,
Not greatness of bulk, but perfection of soul;
And the thought-millionaires with our full acclaim then
Will be wreathed and anointed the leaders of men.
And methinks our Great Fate, from the hills to the sea,
Has sent forth this call to the years yet to be: —

Bring me men to match my mountains;
Bring me men to match my plains, —
Men with empires in their purpose,
And new eras in their brains.
Bring me men to match my prairies,
Men to match my inland seas,
Men whose thought shall pave a highway
Up to ampler destinies;
Pioneers to clear Thought’s marshlands,
And to cleanse old Error’s fen;
Bring me men to match my mountains —
Bring me men!

Bring me men to match my forests,
Strong to fight the storm and blast,
Branching toward the skyey future,
Rooted in the fertile past.
Bring me men to match my valleys,
Tolerant of sun and snow,
Men within whose fruitful purpose
Time’s consummate blooms shall grow.
Men to tame the tigerish instincts
Of the lair and cave and den,
Cleanse the dragon slime of Nature —
Bring me men!

Bring me men to match my rivers,
Continent cleavers, flowing free,
Drawn by the eternal madness
To be mingled with the sea;
Men of oceanic impulse,
Men whose moral currents sweep
Toward the wide-infolding ocean
Of an undiscovered deep;
Men who feel the strong pulsation
Of the Central Sea, and then
Time their currents to its earth throb —
Bring me men!

Video Saturday

I haven’t watched this one yet, I’ll be watching it with you. But when Scott Johnson over at Powerline tells me it’s worth my time, it invariably is. So here it is.

 

Bret Stephens from DHFC on Vimeo.

On a completely different subject, this one I have watched and enjoyed, although it is slightly NSFW. From Two Nerdy History Girls.

Have a good weekend.

 

Take Control of the Debate.

Conservative author and commentator William F....

Conservative author and commentator William F. Buckley, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we move into July, with the dreadful baggage of June behind us, I find myself in a reflective mood. Three years ago this month, the Robert’s court, for the first but not last time, threw the law of the land under the bus to save Obamacare SCOTUScare. The day after that, I followed a comment on that, to Jessica’s blog All along the Watchtower, and there I found the exceptional young woman who would become my dearest friend, muse, mentor, guide, editor, and above all, teacher. Her love, for me, n particular, for mankind in general, and above all for God, has made a huge improvement in my life, the largest since the death of my father. For the many of you who remember her contributions here fondly, she continues to slowly recover from her cancer, mostly in seclusion at the convent in Walsingham.

In any case, I was reminded of one of her posts today, when I read on her website, Geoffrey Sales post, Too much about Sex, because one of Jess’ themes has always been that we focus much too much on the material, instead of the spiritual. As she wrapped up 2013 for us here, she made the point this way.

I sometimes wonder to what extent this concentration of material things is a function of our societies forgetting about God, or thinking He must be confined to the private sphere?  It is easy enough (which is why it gets done so often) to focus on the bad things which came from a time when society was more Christian: the intolerance of other views; the attempts to force belief on others; the narrow-mindedness of some believers, and the like; it is little use pointing out that these features were also to be found in non-Christian societies and seem to be art of mankind’s development (where it does develop); those who wish to blame Christianity for the world’s ills will do so regardless of the evidence. But there is another side to it all. The values which Christianity espouses are about personal responsibility but also altruism: you take responsibility for your own sins; but you are saved by God’s mercy; you are part of a Christian family, and you have responsibilities to others; you are not better than others, but others are no better than you: at your worst you are a sinner; at your best you are also made in God’s image. Redemption is always possible. No one is so bad God cannot save them; no one is so good that they do not need God’s forgiveness.

All of that gives a focus to life which takes us beyond narrow definitions of self-interest, and which helps put material wealth in a proper perspective. There’s nothing in Christianity which says money is wrong; there’s a great deal which says that loving money more than people is very wrong; it is bad for you and bad for the society of which you are a part. The moment you begin to regard another human being as somehow instrumental in a search for personal wealth, whatever you may gain, you are losing your soul.  Christianity has been responsible for education and social and health care long before civil society took an interest in such matters; it has inspired some great art and architecture. It is easy enough (and therefore often done) to think that a Church should simply sell off anything that can be sold to feed the poor, but that ignores so much about the motive for the art and architecture, and it betrays an attitude towards religion which comes from the purely material world.

Men and women have given of their gifts freely to God and His service, and some of these have been great artists and architects. They take us beyond the realm of the everyday to visions of what can be, they raise our eyes above the horizon of the possible towards what could be. It is good for the human spirit to have that, as it is good for it to repent of sin and to help others; all of these are part of what it is to be really human.  In losing these dimensions, our modern society threatens to shrink our world to the merely possible and the expedient. It was not thus that mankind advanced, nor will it be thus it advances further.

To me that says much about the intolerant, vituperative left, and why the have become vindictive, narrow-minded, lacking vision, without faith in man’s future, and all together not someone that your mother would allow you to hang around with. In fact, they have become hateful, racist bigots.

Rachel Alexander, writing for Townhall.com said this recently:

This is no longer the nostalgic era of the late William F. Buckley, Jr., where people only had a few political sources to choose from, such as reading National Review or watching Firing Line. Nowadays, there are thousands if not millions of news sources and people are overwhelmed with information. Have you seen how thin the print version of National Review is today? The right can no longer count on winning the debate with reasoned arguments alone. As we’re preaching to the choir at Tea Party meetings, the left has our children captive in school teaching them we’re haters.

The truth is, the far left does hate the right, so calling the left bigots is no longer a stretch. How many times have you been attacked on Twitter or Facebook with profane language or threats over your right-leaning viewpoints? I’m beginning to lose track of all the people I’ve had to block. The hate is increasing exponentially.

Sadly,  she is correct, and if we allow them to frame the debate, we will lose, and lose catastrophically. So it is time for us to resume control of the conversation. Easy? Nope, it’s going to be hard, very hard indeed, but since when did we believe in the easy way? We, who think for ourselves know, and have always known that we must do the harder right instead of the easier wrong.

Mr. President, You Have One Job

U.S. Presidential flag, 1960-present (not usua...

U.S. Presidential flag, 1960-present (not usually called a “standard” in official U.S. government terminology). It is defined in Executive Order 10860. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In essence, the President of the United States has one job: to protect the Republic from all enemies, foreign and domestic. So a year and a half before we hire a new guy or girl, how are we doing?

I’d say not good. There are many things wrong, the government seems to have lost its way to the point that it cannot tell the good guys from the bad ones, the productive from the moocher, the anarchist from the fascist, in essence, good from evil.

Yes, I did say good from evil. But understand this, it’s not supposed to be the President’s job to help you get a degree, let alone a useful one, nor to make sure you don’t starve because you haven’t found a job. Those things are your job, not is. If you fail, it is your problem, along with those who were foolish enough to depend on you. You don’t want to be a burger flipper that’s commendable, learn a marketable skill, and you won’t be. It would help if the government would get out of the way enough for productive people to be productive.

It would also help if the government would get out of the way enough for the health care industry to provide health care, instead of filling out forms for Leviathan.

But in a sense, none of this is the President’s primary tasking. That is, as it always has been to protect the Republic from foreign enemies. And in that the administration has failed, utterly.

As the linked article says, to be safe one needs some combination of raw power, respect, admiration, and fear. No one of them will really work. And that’s where the US is failing. Raw power is the one we have, but since we are unwilling to use it, it no longer matters. Thousands of tanks in a tank park at Fort Hood are an interesting (to some, anyway) artifact, not a symbol of power. Those same tanks rampaging down ‘Thunder Road’ in Iraq are an unmistakable sign that one is extremely unwise to poke at the Eagle, overmuch.

Notice anybody refraining from that poking lately? Yeah, me either. Here’s why.

The United States is no longer a serious country.

Now, by this I do not mean that America is no longer a super-power. By any gross indicator of strength, the United States is as powerful as it’s ever been, perhaps more powerful than at any time in its history. It has a massive, highly productive economy, a military second to none, and an alliance that dwarfs all possible competitors. On paper, it’s still the only super-power on this planet (or on any other that we know of, so far).

But the status of a great nation is built on more than raw power. It includes intangible qualities like respect, admiration, and, yes, fear. We don’t need all three of them; no major power does. But we need at least one of them at any given moment, and right now, we’re bottoming out in each of these measures. President Obama may insist that America is now “the most respected country on Earth”—a claim even the normally more forgiving folks at PolitiFact rate as only “half-true”—but the Russians, Iranians, and Chinese clearly disagree, and for good reason.

The Chinese hack of the Office of Personnel Management is the most recent, and most obvious, example of how our status is going down the drain. This is a disaster of unimaginable proportions. The intelligence damage, including security-clearance information, will last for decades. (I, of course, am one of the millions of federal workers waiting to find out if my files are now in Beijing.) Almost as shocking as the size of this breach, however, is the fact that no one seems to care very much, including the Chinese, who have shown no concern at all.

An Act of War, Ignored

In any normal world, a super-power would not tolerate this kind of an attack. Perhaps more accurately, a true super-power would never have to endure such an attack in the first place, because other nations would be loath to engage in such a direct act of open hostility. States do lousy things to each other all day long, but the wholesale and brazen theft of personnel records is a different kind of espionage. The scale is so vast that it is a direct challenge to the United States of America.

Countries, as a rule, do not do whatever they can do, they do what they think they can get away with.

Contunue reading: America, The Unserious Super-Power. Emphasis mine.

Seems to me when saudi Arabia and Israel find that they have more in c0mmon with each other than they do with theUnited states, something has goe deeply wrong.

We are pretty much stuck with this until 20 January 2017, but we would be perhaps wise to start thinking ait now. And keep it uppermost in our minds as we think about a new prsident.

%d bloggers like this: