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Published on: March 17, 2014
Progressives at prayer
The Rise of Secular Religion

Today’s secular liberals are the direct descendants of the past century’s Puritans and Protestants, deeply concerned with matters of sin and salvation in the church of politics.

An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America
by Joseph Bottum
Image Books,  2014, 320 pp., $25

Today’s American liberalism, it is often remarked, amounts to a secular religion: it has its own sacred texts and taboos, Crusades and Inquisitions. The political correctness that undergirds it, meanwhile, can be traced back to the past century’s liberal Protestantism. Conservatives, of course, routinely scoff that liberals’ ersatz religion is inferior to the genuine article.

Joseph Bottum, by contrast, examines post-Protestant secular religion with empathy, and contends that it gained force and staying power by recasting the old Mainline Protestantism in the form of catechistic worldly categories: anti-racism, anti-gender discrimination, anti-inequality, and so forth. What sustains the heirs of the now-defunct Protestant consensus, he concludes, is a sense of the sacred, but one that seeks the security of personal salvation through assuming the right stance on social and political issues. Precisely because the new secular religion permeates into the pores of everyday life, it sustains the certitude of salvation and a self-perpetuating spiritual aura. Secularism has succeeded on religious terms. That is an uncommon way of understanding the issue, and a powerful one.

A devout Catholic, Bottum may be America’s best writer on religion. He surely is the least predictable. A former chief editor of the conservative religious monthly First Things, he shocked many of his former colleagues by arguing in a widely-read essay for Commonweal that the Catholic Church had lost the fight against same-sex marriage and should move on to other things. By this he expressed not a heterodox view of sexuality, but a dour assessment of the Church’s waning influence on social issues. The same somber mood lurks behind the elegant prose of his present volume, which should be read with foreboding if not alarm.

America’s consensus culture, Bottum argues, is the unmistakable descendant of the old Protestant Mainline, in particular the “Social Gospel” promulgated by Walter Rauschenbusch before the First World War and adopted by the liberal majority in the Mainline denominations during the 1920s. Although this assertion seems unremarkable at first glance, the method that Bottum brings to bear is entirely original. A deeply religious thinker, he understands spiritual life from the inside. He is less concerned with the outward forms and specific dogmas of religion than with its inner experience, and this approach leads him down paths often inaccessible to secular inquiry. The book should be disturbing not only to its nominal subjects, the “Poster Children” of post-Protestant America, but also to their conservative opposition. The battle is joined on a plane far removed from the quotidian concept of political debate.

Bottum writes:

We live in a spiritual age, in other words, when we believe ourselves surrounded by social beings of occult and mystic power. When we live with titanic cultural forces contending across the sky, and our moral sense of ourselves— of whether or not we are good people, of whether or not we are saved— takes its cues primarily from our relation to those forces. We live in a spiritual age when the political has been transformed into the soteriological. When how we vote is how our souls are saved.

This might easily be misread as a rhetorical swipe at dogmatic liberalism. But Bottum wants us to understand that the inner life of secular Americans remains dense with spiritual experience, and that the post-Protestant experience resembles the supernatural world of the Middle Ages, but with new spiritual entities in place of the old devils and elves: “social and political ideas elevated to the status of strange divinities . . . born of the ancient religious hunger to perceive more in the world than just the give and take of ordinary human beings, but adapted to an age that piously congratulates itself on its escape from many of the strictures of ancient religion.” What Bottum calls the “re-enchantment and spiritual thickening of reality” is the subject of the book. It is an elusive quarry, for it is not a simple task to show that self-styled rationalists entertain a firm belief in the modern equivalent of ghosts and witches. For the post-Protestants, “the social forces of bigotry, power, corruption, mass opinion, militarism, and oppression are the constant themes of history” against which they must array themselves:

These horrors have a palpable, almost metaphysical presence in the world. And the post-Protestants believe the best way to know themselves as moral is to define themselves in opposition to such bigotry and oppression— understanding good and evil not primarily in terms of personal behavior but as states of mind about the social condition. Sin, in other words, appears as a social fact, and the redeemed personality becomes confident of its own salvation by being aware of that fact. By knowing about, and rejecting, the evil that darkens society.

The desire to be redeemed from sin (redefined as a social fact) identifies the post-Protestants as children of the Puritans. That insight is what makes his new book a new and invaluable contribution to our understanding of America’s frame of mind. Just what is a secular religion, and how does it shape the spiritual lives of its adherents? Bottum deftly peels the layers off the onion of liberal thinking to reveal its Protestant provenance and inherited religious sensibility. The Mainline Protestantism that once bestrode American public life never died, but metamorphosed into a secular doctrine of redemption. And that was made possible by the conversion of sin from a personal to a social fact in Walter Rauschenberg’s version of the social gospel. Bottum writes,  “The new elite class of America is the old one: America’s Mainline Protestant Christians, in both the glory and the annoyingness of their moral confidence and spiritual certainty. They just stripped out the Christianity along the way.” By redefining sin as social sin, Rauschenberg raised up a new Satan and a new vocabulary of redemption from his snares. According to Bottum, his “central demand is to see social evil as really existing evil— a supernatural force of dark magic.” Jesus, Rauschenbusch wrote, “did in a very real sense bear the weight of the public sins of organized society, and they in turn are causally connected with all private sins.”

Much of the book is occupied with sketches of Bottum’s “poster children” of post-Protestantism—a psychologist in Oregon, a guitar maker in upstate New York, a gay rights activist from Austin—in whose quirks and eccentricities he detects the “spiritual density” that has made post-Protestantism a religion nearly as stable as its predecessor. The choice of subjects seems a bit arbitrary at first glance, but the common characteristic of the subjects for Bottum’s character sketches is their perpetuation of Protestant attitudes in secular form.

“When we recognize their origins in Mainline Protestantism,” Bottum observes, “we can discern some of the ways in which they see the world and themselves. They are, for the most part, politically liberal, preferring that government rather than private associations (such as intact families or the churches they left behind) address social concerns. They remain puritanical and highly judgmental, at least about health, and like all Puritans they are willing to use law to compel behavior they think right.”

He contrasts these “poster children” with the young generation of serious Catholics, the “swallows of capistrano” who are returning to the nest. From Bottum’s elegy for the lost Catholic culture of the 1940s and 1950s we grasp most clearly what he means by “metaphysical density,” that is, the fullness of everyday religious life, just what the dry Pietism of Mainline Protestantism replaced with the new Angelology and Demonology of the Social Gospel. In a bravura passage he offers a vivid, visceral description of the Catholic Church before Vatican II:

The embroidered arcanery of copes and stoles and albs and chasubles, the rituals of Holy Water blessings, the grottos with their precarious rows of fire-hazard candles flickering away in little red cups, the colored seams and peculiar buttons that identified monsignors, the wimpled school sisters, the tiny Spanish grandmothers muttering prayers in their black mantillas, the First Communion girls wrapped up in white like prepubescent brides, the mumbled Irish prejudices, the loud Italian festivals, the Holy Door indulgences, the pocket guides to scholastic philosophy, the Knights of Columbus with their cocked hats and comic-opera swords, the tinny mission bells, the melismatic chapel choirs— none of this was the Church, some of it actually obscured the Church, and the decision to clear out the mess was not unintelligent or uninformed or unintended. It was merely insane. An entire culture nested in the crossbeams and crannies, the nooks and corners, of the Catholic Church. And it wasn’t until the swallows had been chased away that anyone seemed to realize how much the Church itself needed them, darting around the chapels and flitting through the cathedrals.

The Church lost this rich texture in daily life, and the returning “swallows” are hard put to feather their nests. This is a powerful insight, and not only for Catholics. Orthodox Jewish life is spiritually dense with performance of mitzvoth and flourishes in the United States, while the Jewish cognates of liberal Protestantism, the Reform and Conservative movements, lose members at an alarming rate.

It is not in doctrine but rather in daily life that we discover how religion shapes society, Bottum argues. Amid the ongoing attenuation of Catholic culture, the broad adoption of Catholic Natural Law doctrine by some conservatives offers cold consolation. Bottum is particularly tough on George W. Bush and his circle. Reviewing the 43rd President’s Second Inaugural Address, Bottum observes: “The president’s Evangelical supporters may have been reassured by the public religiosity of the occasion— the prayers, the Navy choir singing ‘God of Our Fathers,’ the bowed heads. But the god of the philosophers isn’t much of a god to be going home with. A deistical clockmaker, an impersonal prime mover, a demiurge instead of a redeemer: This is hardly the faith Christian Americans imagine the president shares with them.”

Only in passing does Bottum mention the influence of war on American religion. More attention to the external factors that shaped America’s spiritual life would have reinforced his case. America paid for the blood drawn by the lash with 700,000 Civil War deaths. As Louis Menand observes in his 2002 book The Metaphysical Club, the horrific experience of the Boston elite in the Civil War convinced the generation of William James and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. that no truth was so certain as to justify the slaughter they witnessed in their youth. Did the success of the social gospel stem from the depletion of the Puritans in the Civil War? “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether,” Lincoln had said; but by the end of the century, the Protestant Mainline preferred to fix the world according to its own preferences.

By the same token, the sudden slide of the Mainline from liberal Christianity into post-Protestant secularism occurred when the Mainline’s smug self-assurance crashed against the moral untidiness of the Cold War. Decades later, America’s disenchantment with Iraq and Afghanistan cut conservative Christians off at the knees. A dozen books decried the onset of theocracy during the first Bush Administration. The Left exaggerated the influence of Catholic neoconservatives like natural-law theorist Michael Novak and papal biographer George Weigel. As Bottum wryly counters, “If the neoconservative Catholics among America’s public intellectuals were actually running everything, you’d think they could have managed to steal the 2006 congressional elections that, instead, they lost with a thump.” Nothing fails like failure: The neoconservative Catholics got hammered because the policy they backed came to grief.

Neither the Evangelicals nor the Catholics, either separately or in their uneasy, occasional alliances, had the wherewithal to replace the post-Protestant center at the peak of its cultural authority, Bottum argues, and both now are on the defensive as a wayward millennial generation progresses into adulthood. Is that because whatever holds together the Mainline’s remnants is too strong, or because they bet the church on Bush’s Freedom Agenda? Bottum leaves the question unanswered.

But how durable is post-Protestant culture? Missing from Bottum’s portraits of the “poster children” is any mention of the children they are—or aren’t—raising. Fertility rates among members of the secularized Mainline churches are so low (just as they are among “progressive” Jews) that one is tempted to regard post-Protestantism as a one-generation wonder. While the children of the Mainline occupy themselves with yoga, organic gardening and expanded gender identities (Facebook now offers more than fifty categories to choose from), popular culture becomes moribund. The 20th century’s variations of the social gospel seem genteel next to what populates America’s metaphysical realm today. Americans spend more time with supernatural monsters than ever did the Christians of the Middle Ages, from vampires to zombies to demons of every hue. In 2012, the horror genre supplied one out of eight American feature films; a decade ago it was roughly one out of twenty-five. Strip away divine immortality from American spirituality, and it embraces the undead variety.

That is what makes Joseph Bottum’s treatise so disturbing. He does not see a way back. His only upbeat chapter, on the influence of Pope John Paul II, retreats into mysticism, ascribing the pontiff’s escape from an assassin’s bullet to the Virgin Mary’s reported 1917 appearance to Portuguese children at Fátima. He has every right to invoke mystical powers, but the Wojtyla chapter stands in such contrast to the tone and content of the rest of the book as to alert us to the author’s deeper forebodings. This is a work of deep pessimism, albeit mitigated by faith in divine intervention, and its author reveals his innermost thoughts only in parable. It is a work of great importance that should be read, re-read and debated by the literate public, believers and non-believers alike. It is to be hoped that its dark tone will not discourage those who are more likely to seek encouragement than instruction.

David P. Goldman writes the “Spengler” column for Asia Times Online and PJ Media. A former senior editor at First Things, he is the author of the 2011 book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too).
show comments
  • Boritz

    “Conservatives, of course, routinely scoff that liberals’ ersatz religion is inferior to the genuine article.”

    Yeah, they insist that (the same) God (of the Old Testament) has to be included in religion. Go figure. Islam insists the same thing and gets a boatload of respect by contrast.

    • Matthew P Ward

      If you want respect from a Western leftist, hold a Koran in one fist and punch him in the face with the other.

      • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

        This contributes no thought at all, but it gets 6 votes for vocalizing the fantasies of 6 emasculated men in the peanut gallery. Good show.

        • Matthew P Ward

          Leftist ideologues respond to force, not argument. Is that “connect the dots” enough for you?

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            All people respond to force — some fight back, some use passive resistance, most cower and give in regardless of their ideology. Since you are so eager to announce yourself as a neo-Nazi, why not tell us about the last time you punched a leftist or non-white person. You seem eager for the opportunity to play the immoralist here.

          • Matthew P Ward

            Where to start? How about at the end? I think you meant “ammoralist” as “immoralist” would imply “evil” which really doesn’t belong in the cosmological vocabulary of a secularist, which I assume you are. Neo-Nazi? Since I’m a political and economic conservative, calling me a socialist is a non-starter. In fact, I was actually implying that leftist secularists tend to be more Nazi-like, in that they much more often respect and defend violence by Islamists than religious conservatives do, so way to miss the point there. I do agree that people of all political persuasions tend to react to violence with a range of responses, but those on the left tend much more toward the yellower part of the spectrum when non-Christians are doing the threatening. Capiche?

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            No, Nietzsche’s immoralist who lusts after the “magic of the extreme” is what I had in mind. You seem to be one of those guys with a petty version of this that chafes at PC taking away your cheap options to use racial slurs and cheer for violence against your targets — the “leftist ideologues” you consider to be weak and cowardly if they aren’t white, or because they are afraid of offending non-white people you’d have no problem telling off and ordering around when it comes to kicking “Islamists” to the curb. Personally I see you and your “weak leftists” (to the extent they are real) as equal menaces. Between those who are lusting for violence and those who would avoid it at all costs there can only be an unproductive stalemate in mutual reaction.

  • Pete

    One man —Bottum — is pessimistic. So what?

  • free_agent

    One way of summing this up is to say that despite the waning of belief in older religions, or older religious *styles*, the essentials of religious sensibility, uncharitably describable as “you prefer to live in a simplistic demon-haunted world of religion and fearful nonsense” live on. People haven’t become “rationalists”, they’ve just changed which gods to worship, or changed their methods of worshipping the same old gods.

    • free_agent

      Hmmm, which suggests that civilizations don’t die because they become nonreligious, since they *don’t* become nonreligious.

      Also, it would be interesting to compare the US experience with the European experience. What are the new European religious tenets?

      “The best and most true point Graham makes is about the insidious rise of superstition in our country: it isn’t just the fundamentalist southern Christians, but the tree-worshippers, the vegans, the new-agers, the UFO fanatics, and those that like watching TV shows where people talk with dead relatives.” — from a review of “Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War” by Michael Graham

      • RonRonDoRon

        “suggests that civilizations don’t die because they become nonreligious, since they *don’t* become nonreligious”

        Perhaps civilizations die when their religions (by which I mean their deeply held and guiding worldviews) become silly and inane.

        • https://www.facebook.com/ritchietheriveter Ritchie The Riveter

          Perhaps civilizations die when their religions (by which I mean their deeply held and guiding worldviews) become silly and inane.

          i.e. when their adherents begin to see their leaders as more than human; as omniscient, on the basis of their credentials/position/popularity, to the degree that the adherents believe those leaders can solve every problem FOR them, better than they can themselves.

          That is a faith that is far more blind than anything coming from Jerusalem, Rome, your local evangelical megachurch, or even Mecca.

          And far more likely to lead themselves, and others, into the ditch … as we are seeing around us today.

    • Tedd

      I know people who decry religion loudly and publicly yet believe in contacting spirits of the dead; and they practice salvation — both personal and social — through diet. Oh yes, they also hate hypocrisy.

      • free_agent

        Snicker! “My religion is a guide to the inner workings of the universe. Your religion is a pile of moronic superstitions.”

        • Tedd

          Yes, that’s pretty much the attitude.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            So across the board, a thoroughgoing epistemic legitimacy crisis. Along with everything else. Any bright suggestions for how to put the wheels back on?

            I would offer the suggestion that anyone who says they have a guide to the inner workings of the universe is engaging in some type of illicit theological speculation that amounts to metaphysical trespassing or else a very smart reductive technical grasp of things broken down to bits and (slightly better) physical processes. You can do quite a lot with the latter, but nothing good will come of it until you have some type of working narrative to give meaningful answers to why you should not screw your brother man and so on. But the minute someone sets up shop preaching this as a business or quasi-governmental entity, you are well and truly screwed. I guess we should just let it all collapse, rinse and repeat.

      • Jim__L

        Don’t forget the fact that half of Democrats believe astrology is “scientific”…

    • jobardu

      If you want to see how this played out in the 1930’s read Hermann Hesse’s “The Glass Bead Game”. It won a Nobel prize and tells a story that captures the essence of secular vs spiritual religion better than any historical or sociological narrative. I won’t spoil the plot.

  • qet

    It would have been better for Bottum to regress back beyond the denominational level and deeper into the human psyche. He could have done this by consulting Nietzsche, who observed and reflected on the phenomenon Bottum describes at the very moment when Europe was casting off the authority of traditional religion. The impulse to moralize only grew stronger, Nietzsche observed. The reason today’s left-liberals are like to 17th century Puritans is because, like the Puritans, they want to closely regulate the behavior of others, especially their sexual behavior; an impulse originating in the will to power. Secular left-liberal ideology since the early 20th century has disfavored personal freedom and sought to restrict the sphere of unregulated human action. Apparent events to the contrary, such as “women’s liberation,” were merely a shaking off of traditional institutions of authority in order for those hitherto subject to them to become new sources of authority. Plus ca change.

    And for a guy who titles his regular column “Spengler,” I am disappointed that Goldman has not seen fit to analyze Bottum’s thesis in terms of the Faustian versus Magian soul.

    • Fred

      Qet, a quibble. I think contemporary liberals want to control almost every aspect of life, but there is a reason they except drugs and sex. A populace dulled and distracted by drugs and infinite variations of deviance will be a docile populace that is less likely to even notice the control taken over every other aspect of their lives. See Huxley’s Brave New World.

      • qet

        Thanks Fred. Perhaps you are right, but I see the current, strident obsession among left-liberal’s who self-identify as feminists–both women and men–with what they call the “rape culture,” with their enlargement of the categories of sexual assault and sexual harassment, with their demands directed at the softest targets–educational institutions, from elementary up through university level–for complete oversight of all male behavior which can in any thinkable way be described as sexual in nature (which by their lights is most behavior), as evidence of their Puritan-like impulse to restrict and regulate sexuality. A perfect example of this (and there are many such examples) is the recent letter issued by the US DOJ to the University of Montana, which legislates an entirely new regime to be instituted at all US universities receiving any federal money whatever (which is 99.9% of them) for dealing with allegations of sexual harassment, assault etc. This legislation institutionalizes by means of State power the wish-list of the most strident left-liberal feminists for regulating all interactions between the sexes. It represents, not a move toward a gender-neutral justice, but a mere tables-turning, a seizure of the authority to prescribe rules of conduct for the sexes from the previous holders of that authority–i.e., men (the patriarchy, whatever catchy term you like). This is why I described the kind of sexual “liberation” long believed to be the goal of feminists as merely a transition phase.

        Of course I could be completely off the mark with all this, but that is howw I see things.

        • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

          In other words, if the slaves get their freedom they will exact a terrible vengeance. Consider that variations on this reactionary fear of lost hegemony might be the longest running, most debilitating, and potentially fatal structural sin in America. Having to deal with more views and empowered interests in a pluralistic society does not lead inexorably toward your detention in the gulag that your likely party of choice has built up over the past decade.

          • qet

            Your textbook rhetoric evinces the lack of reflection and insight shared by most members of your likely party of choice. Your understanding of the present only in the dogmatic terms of categories current in the early 20th century demonstrates an ideological commitment that quite nicely exemplifies the secular religion Berger describes. The notion that the newly “empowered interests” might behave just like the old empowered interests must place you under a great deal of mental strain.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            Your discernments are very under-informed. I choose the Marxist party, Groucho style. I refuse to join any group that would have me as a member, and Duck Soup is most of what I know of 1930s era political thought. The Rolling Stones’ idea that the new boss is the same as the old boss doesn’t stress me. It is a pretty consistent lesson of any institutional history, especially when reforms and revolts occur. The English civil war set the pattern for the modern form of this problem where inspired puritans, precisionists and assorted visionary clowns fail to think past the moment when they take the throne and usher in the reign of God on earth.

          • Will Thomas

            That was The Who.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            I knew it was one of those two awful boomer bands whose main distinction was not being the Beatles. ;D

  • Rick Heller

    Turing liberal churches into sociopolitical movements is not something that I think is viable in the long term. If you want to do politics, why not just join a non-religious political organization?

    But what about secular communities incorporating “spiritiual” practices that don’t require faith? I’ve written about one such practice in a new article on Faith Street

    http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/03/17/cant-pray-try-metta-instead/31301

  • brad lena

    Secular religion is the last refuge of a dying culture whose inhabitants are desperate to think and act according to the tenets of modern secularism before they depart to nothingness. A more pedestrian perspective is that this belief will last as long as the trucks and trains keep keep delivering untold tons of everything that keep them and their cities alive

    • NDaniels

      No doubt if every man desired to be a religion onto himself, this would not lead to the equality of religions, but rather, anarchy.

  • Jon Whitehead

    Bottum’s framing sounds similar to Tom Wolfe’s in “Two Young Men Who Went West,” about the founding of Silicon Valley culture (distinct from the very non-Puritan Hollywood culture):

    “…They had been raised as Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists,
    Presbyterians, United Brethren, whatever. They had been led through the
    Church door and prodded toward religion, but it had never come alive for
    them. …Only decades later, in most
    cases, would they discover how, absentmindedly, inexplicably, they had
    brought the old ways along for the journey nonetheless. …”

    That, of course, is the Protestant hope, and the reason for so much borrowing of natural law: the facts are Christian, and there is not enough money or intelligence to run away from them forever.

  • jobardu

    I think calling today’s secular culture “liberal” is a dangerous misnomer. Liberalism is about tolerance, a marketplace of ideas, forgive and forget, and working with all types of people to enhance the common good. The current generation of the politically correct are intolerant of ideas that differ from theirs, unconcerned with how much harm they inflict on others, narcissistic, believe they are the chosen elite, and use liberalism as a club to justify their actions and silence opposition. They change the debate from what they have done to the tenets of liberalism, much as Islamist terrorists change the debate to the Koran and away from their death and destruction.

    The mainstream media has more in common with Islamism than with liberalism and, by flattering the young and alienated, has become a culture and media dominating force. They have stolen the name and form of liberalism but not the substance. It is a mistake to call these identity thieves liberals. Liberalism is a philosophy of life that underpins enlightenment culture. They are doing to liberalism what Stalin and Mao did to communism. They ought to be called lefties or some other descriptor to more accurately describe them. I’ll nominate lefties,or, cutting right to the chase, sociopaths.

    • Matt

      Wonderful response; thank you.

      • jobardu

        You are quite welcome. Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. Suggesting something as I did on a lefty site would bring a rainstorm of verbal abuse.

        • Eliza Qwghlm

          They seem to prefer the title “progressives,” which I suppose is as apt as any, since the destination to which they are dragooning the nation is undefined.

          • jobardu

            What do you think of the terms “SITS” or NITS, for sociopathic identity thieves (they have more time to sit around making stuff up than us working folks) or narcissistic identity thieves. They certainly hold themselves in high regard and think they are an elite, better than the rest of us.

    • qet

      I concur, and that is why I personally always try to use the phrase “left-liberal” when speaking of today’s liberals as that word is now commonly politically understood.

    • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

      This doesn’t describe my experience of “secular culture.” It sounds like the way people who call themselves liberals and conservatives treat each other online and in your “mainstream media.” I have almost zero consumption of MSM apart from people pressing it at me by email, or if I look at it, Facebook. In community, the reality is generally much much different. Time to look away from your screens maybe, or use them for something else? They are toxic you know.

      I also wonder what form of “liberalism” has ever preached about “forgive and forget.”

      • jobardu

        What you report is, to my mind, the corruption of language engendered, over the past 30 years, by politically correct media, entertainment and academic culture. Liberalism wasn’t about being right, it was about not being right, about there being a marketplace of ideas and a recursive approach to a better and more accurate view of the world and policies dealing with it.

        Forgive and forget was a part of that culture in that it was a way for people of different religions and national origins, in the first hundred years of the Republic and even after, to get along and do business. It was to keep ones focus, not sweat the small slights and avoid the guilt, shame and revenge culture that has brought down most of the world’s cultures.

        My comment deals with what has come to be accepted as normal in present day culture. I am aware from students and my own children that many young people have largely detached from mainstream culture, both liberal and conservative. That is probably a good idea but leaves the domains of policy, geopolitics and finance to those in power. That isn’t working out so well.

        Also, while both Republicans and Democrats have contributed to the present malaise, the liberals have dominated the media and academe and thus have to bear the largest burden for the state of polarization and toxic atmosphere in the channels of public communication.

        • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

          The good old slaveholding days, the reconstruction days, the segregation days — that was during the “forgive and forget” era?

          • jobardu

            Dan, your reply is a case in point of what I have been saying. It is noteworthy that I respond to you in detail and you dismiss what I say out of hand. I find that disrespectful, but all too common in attempts to debate with people who follow secular religions today.

            Yes, slavery was both an unacceptable practice and and also an example of freedom of public communications channels to debate the issue in politics and the media. Also, there were other things going on in the US besides slavery. Slavery was a public and political bone of contention dating back to the writing of the Constitution. Before the Civil War a number of people in the South and the North believed that the Cotton Gin and related technologies would end slavery in a span of years, not decades. The question was whether the delay along with ongoing reform would have been less costly in blood, fortune and historical stress than a less abrupt solution. The politically correct said they wanted an end “now”. From my 21st century perspective I would agree with them, but I think their point is worthy of debate and those people with that view aren’t to be disaffirmed , cursed and silenced the way the left treats those who disagree today.

            The reconstruction period is an example of forgive and forget, despite the difficulties of the period it was dominant trend. The Civil rights and women’s rights movements are called movements because they weren’t revolutions. The large majority of the people were tolerant, believed in the golden rule, and saw the wisdom of equal rights and equal opportunity. For many people the issue wasn’t whether but when. You would never know that to read today’s PC history. I’ll refer you to a 90’s book called “the history wars”. In essence the author was objecting to rewriting history making it more polarized and bipolar with good against evil and the future and the golden rule be damned. Not so, but it was, and still is, impossible to stop. Also, these judgments the left makes are made in a vacuum. Which sizable country has a track record anywhere near the US in according full citizenship to all its citizens.

            What you are trying to do is the way they teach students today- put down the other person so you don’t have to consider the person and their issues, let alone their feelings and your ability to get any support from them in the future. . What you are really doing is saying that PC liberalism is the end of intellectual and moral history. While I hope you don’t experience what non-lefties experience today, But I wouldn’t be surprised if historical trends are followed and shoes switch feet.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            I’m just saving both our time and cutting to the heart of the matter — the devil in your “detail.” You have no reason to decide I “follow secular religions,” and (as I’ve already said) I don’t, but likely many people who read TAI do and don’t see such a problem with it. In fact they may see religionists like you as a problem, since you tie your religiosity to a discreditable, addled form of bunk historiography popular mainly with racists and people trying to carve out space for an acceptable or more widely marketable version of racism-as-conservatism.

            So please tell us more about the glass half full view of slavery the merely “unacceptable practice,” and the jolly, tolerant, liberal debates over it. Tell us more about Lincoln’s “political correctness” and your
            retrospective calculations over whether (which?) Americans would be better off if Lincoln hadn’t attacked the south. (Oh wait, he didn’t.)

            Consider a similar argument applied to the holocaust: “Killing millions of Jews was an ‘unacceptable practice,’ but it would have been better to stay out of the war and let Hitler burn out on his own.” One does not offer specious historical might have beens and should have beens like these in the crowded theater of our pluralistic society today; they are not benign speculations about alternative possible outcomes for historic football games. They have present agendas by establishing a false narrative of lost rights and power that some sick people desperately want back in the present so they can pick and choose who is “less equal.”

            I would say it is you and your type who try to abuse liberalism to get a hearing and a seat at the table so you can put your manure-spattered boots on it and start farting away.

          • jobardu

            There you go again. You don’t seem to be able to have a discussion without a lot of name calling, spitting and cursing. I say that even though I want to thank you for taking the time to respond at some length. But my response to that is detailed below.

            What I actually said was “The politically correct said they wanted an end “now”. From my 21st century perspective I would agree with them,…… So I agreed that slavery had to be ended immediately, if not sooner. I also said that not everyone who disagreed was a racist, some might have been people of good will that I, and you, disagree with.

            My other argument was that some people have said that slavery was coming to an end within a decade or so because of technology making the horrible, repulsive, practice of owning other people obsolete. It isn’t racist to indulge in what is called “counter history” . Many well respected historians such as Niall Ferguson have published books on the subject. The counterhistorical proposition is what would have happened if the civil war never occurred (who fired the first shots is important but also a matter of who and not if they would have been fired.). Without the Civil War would blacks have been integrated and liberated sooner? I don’t know, and posing a question that I’ve seen raised by others doesn’t mean I’m a racist. It means that the person responding that way is intellectually shallow and afraid that they can’t answer the question effectively. That being said, I was active in demonstrating for Civil Rights and working with the NAACP during the seventies and eighties.

            Your frothing cursing and spitting is exactly what I was writing about. I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, and today’s lefties and related acolytes don’t do so. It seems to presume that you are right and that everyone else is wrong. In a healthy society there is enough faith in people and the strength of ones arguments that you can listen to other opinions, including yours about the holocaust (which, because of the genocide, I consider worse than slavery) and feel confident that I can respond effectively.

            Responding by putting the other person down may be appropriate if I was a holocaust denier or slavery advocate. I wasn’t either of those and in fact, au contraire, oppose and have opposed both practices strongly. I also consider myself a liberal, but similarities between the actions of those who call themselves liberal today and classical liberals is purely coincidental.

            Classical liberals recognized the value of the great books programs because they immunized people against facile and shallow arguments and philosophies such as modern political correctness. JFK and his generation were educated in that tradition. Today’s students are more indoctrinated than educated.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            You’re not being cursed at. You’re being told you are talking nonsense (at best). No construction of liberality or tolerance means all opinions get equal consideration and equal airtime. That is what unmoderated, pseudonymous comment systems are for, unfortunately. Only in this medium can people get away with such rubbish.

            The only reason you are talking about “blacks” and the civil war is because you brought up the 1800s as a golden age for the US and then introduced your counterfactual history. It is obviously important to you as a narrative that establishes a decline into illiberality, and you prop it up with an imaginary and irrelevant what-if to circumvent dealing with the facts that destroy this narrative.

          • jobardu

            I didn’t realize that mind reading was one of your skills. The whole point of bringing up the counter-factual history, partly in response to the 1800’s, and 1900’s for that matter, as a golden age of free speech, is to demonstrate how we are abandoning our roots in favor of authoritarian political correctness.

            Discussing whether or not a program to end slavery without war, say by subsidizing cotton gins and transitioning blacks to the civilian economy, isn’t racism, It is a Sunday morning discussion.Similarly, Larry Summers asking whether women may not have the same interest in science (which I don’t believe) seems appropriate in a University setting and shouldn’t have gotten him fired.

            The key issue is when self-appointed lefties claim to tell the rest of us what we can talk about, especially when they don’t follow their own rules. For example, sexism abounds in mainstream media. Columbia University honored holocaust denier Ahmadinejad etc. There are too many examples of double standards and power plays to support an assertion that the left is acting on principle. In fact, a better motto for our lefty brothers and sisters would be “noble principles selectively applied”. That is why I object to labeling as much as I do, because of what it is used for.

            The nineteenth century was far from a golden age, but was more humanistic in many ways than our own. While the civil war, as you note, wasn’t an example of forgive and forget, the reconstruction was, even if it fell short of its aims.
            ,

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            All it takes to “read minds” like yours is experience with media like this. Straight talk about power politics (and history and religion) from perspectives outside or critical of Liberalism attracts the “neo-racialist” right. You may be in denial about your proximity to that group, but the comments here are crawling with them for a reason. White men who are more upset with “political correctness” than anything else in the world at this time are really saying they can’t stand their pluralistic social reality where they no longer have a privileged position from which they can speak without thinking about their audience as including others unlike themselves who actually have equal and possibly greater importance and power. So you’ll argue — within the game logic of liberal discourse — that ivy league presidents should be able to publicly entertain gender essentialism, and you’ll find your biggest support coming from those who want to say we should also entertain sexual and racial or ethnic essentialism. And little by little, if this was allowed, we’d open up more and more space for a return to a bigot’s understanding of America and the constitution — that wonderful time in the 1800-s people like you can’t stop themselves for sharing in every conversation about contemporary politics.

          • jobardu

            That is really authoritarian and sociopathic Dan. Full of unsubstantiated conclusions and claims that you know better than others what is allowed speech and what isn’t. It is full of judgements you are unqualified to make and justifies unequal treatment under law because you believe you are right. You don’t have to prove anything because you are politically correct. Hypocritical, two faced, sexist (regarding Males), racist (regarding whites) and willingly dismissing those who disagree with you and their arguments. Arguing with you is like witnessing a monologue, you speak for me and you speak for you too. Naturally, the you side of the monologue wins. Congratulations. Try this stuff on Putin, the Chinese or the Japanese. I think you will see things you never saw before.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            There isn’t a rulebook I’m appealing to. It’s not that you disagree or offend some dogma. Your views are noxious and put you outside the civilization most people want to live in. You’re being beaten by the will of majorities in history and crying about it. If my comments amount to kicking your position while it’s down, I think it’s probably a move Mr. Putin and I would both approve. I hope your views are relentlessly beaten down into the dustbin of history.

          • jobardu

            No you wouldn’t dare put it in writing. If you were a person of principle and lived by those principles I could respect your positions, but you aren’t. You feel some people are above criticism and don’t consider that others have a right to speak out, perhaps not even exist. Your hostility is barely covered (I hope your views are relentlessly beaten down).

            Basically, you have two standards for judging behavior. An example is my case about Larry Summer raising the question about female science aptitude at Harvard. You object to that but don’t say a word about all the put downs about fatherhood, the verbal abuse of young men and the anti-white verbalization’s in the media and academe. That to my mind, is hypocrisy and double standards, to say nothing about making up and pushing statements that turn out to be untrue but never acknowledged by the media even after the truth is out.

            The only argument you have is tyranny of the majority. This country was founded on controlling the damage caused by the tyranny of the majority. It is the tolerance of the Middle Class that led to the relatively quick and bloodless success of the civil rights movement. At that time the tyranny of the majority would have stymied the movements. Now the politically correct think they can disregard history, psychology, geopolitics and economics and create a world of their dreams. That is where it will exist, in your dreams.

            You write as if you have no concerns about people who disagree and that you are invulnerable to anything they can do. Good luck with that. Please accept my hearty one fingered salute to your and your ilk for your oblivious narcissistic sociopathy.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            I have no concerns for willfully ignorant people who cannot be helped, who should not need to be helped, and really can’t be helped. Such as angry old white men who spend their time upsetting themselves refereeing the slights they see being made against their tribe. Without too much prodding you’d probably declare your true colors over Trayvon Williams or something else like that, Colonel Jessup-style.

          • jobardu

            OK, I’ll bite in an effort to inject some levity into what was becoming an increasingly rancorous exchange.
            Colonel Jessup was a stand-up guy. For Tryvon Martin, hows’ this- Obama could have more easily identified with Zimmerman instead of Trayvon Willams since Martin was Afro-American, Zimmerman is half-black and Obama is partly white (1/2? or 1/4?).

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            There’s nothing funny about the “Council of Conservative Citizens” and similar groups. What exactly attracts you to sites like this? The hope of acceptance? Spreading the racist gospel?

          • jobardu

            There is no chilling out with you, is there. Permanent belligerence- that is the leftist way. Oh well, I’m used to it by now.

            I didn’t mention the Council of Conservative Citizens. The only thing I know about them was the article link you sent me. I responded to the quote about Col. Jessup.

            What attracts me to sites like this is the give and take with leftists and to improve my understanding of positions that seem dysfunctional to me.

            What about you- a chance to vent spleen? Rage against your culture, parents and country? Adolescent rebellion?

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            I get that everything you disagree with is “leftist” so I’m curious how far your “no enemies on the right” attitude will go. Take a look at Francis; he’s also in Wikipedia, as is Steve Sailer. These type of “paleocons” are swimming in the waters here on this site. Are you really unaware of them? What is the difference between them and you?

          • jobardu

            No, everything I disagree with isn’t leftist. I come from a leftist background and still consider myself a liberal based on how liberal thought and philosophy has and mostly still is defined. My gripe is with people who declare themselves liberal but who behave in very illiberal ways and who use liberalism to change the subject shield them from criticism and change the subject.

            I have nothing in common with the people you refer to (Sailer and Francis). They are people I oppose and who I always opposed. I’m not sure I would call them paleocons or even conservatives, since liberal and conservative no longer define what they did traditionally (40 years ago) and don’t predict personal attitudes for a given situation. By way of reference, Hitler was a socialist widely praised by the left, but who was turned into a right winger post WWII. Stalin and Mao were communists who initially had the full throated support of the Western Left and who now are examples of right wing attitudes. Weird.

            I think we live in an Orwellian dystopia. Orwells’ essay “Politics and the English Language” describes how corrupting language corrupts thought processes and makes people manipulable and easy to control and deceive. This “new think”, or political correctness, is leading us into a new feudalism where oligarchs control most of the wealth, power and information while the populace lives subsistence or lowest run middle class, their senses dulled by “bread and circuses nouveau”.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            Glad to hear it. Yes nearly everyone operates within the Liberal paradigm, even most of those who spend a lot of time talking about their rejection of it.

            From where I sit open racism and subtle bigotries have spread enormously since 2008 with Obama as the excuse and an emotional factor but material realities as always the most important influencer. Jesse Helms’ district in the 1990s now seems like a mild center-right coordinate compared to Steve King’s today. I am concerned that as they sloooowly exit the stage the Me generation and their parents are still fighting over the sixties, and suddenly fears and anger over issues misconstrued as “racial” are back in ways few expected to see again, except maybe those who wanted to. It is deeply dismaying now to see people who may uniquely understand the value of history, tradition, and religious traditions in particular lining up for a conservatism-of-the-last-acceptable-bigotries out of fear that their ethno-religious group is losing a power and position it really has only been losing since the 1950s. Nothing good will come out of that perspective until it recognizes what it has gained and stands to gain in a more international, multiracial, post-WASP nation. The “white right” loves nothing better than to glom onto paranoid fears, grievances counched in tribal chauvinism, and real or imagined injuries and losses.

            It is a lot easier to get a grip on what you are communicating and what others mean if there is an effort to avoid cant and convenient pigeonholing categories. I don’t mind some needling, especially if you do it with some clarity and precision and a motive of understanding.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            And about your stand-up guy Col. Jessup, I would say the correct liberal and/or conservative judgment on him should be made from a consensus on the value of legitimacy as well as Orwell’s dictum that we sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. The latter is not a justification for arbitrary things those “rough men” might do — even supposedly in the cause of protecting us and doing their job. When they make mistakes, break laws, violate the chain of command, lie and lie again to cover for the first lies, then they have become an intolerable threat to the people they are supposed to protect, to their own men, and to their mission. There is no legitimacy or trust in any power structure where the rules for all do not apply equally to all.

          • jobardu

            Good post. I particularly resonate with the last paragraph.

            One thing I detected in your posts was buying into the liberal is good, conservative is bad paradigm pushed by the media and academe. To my mind liberal and conservative are two models of reality and, when healthy, are two sides of the same coin. Conservative doesn’t mean prejudiced, just as liberal doesn’t mean tolerant or non-racist. The White Right is an inaccurate and racist characterization (otherwise Obama would have lost by a large margin. Ditto for sexism.

            When I hear liberals spout off about opposing sexism I verbalize a question about whether they mean sexism affecting men as well as sexism affecting women. The weight of evidence convinces me they don’t. So what do they mean about opposing sexism. It is really lobbying for your side, and I refuse to grant the leftists doing this the moral high ground. That doesn’t mean conservatives aren’t sexist, it means they don’t compound sexism with self-righteous hypocrisy.

            Still,this type of divisiveness has brought down many a civilization and it seems best to get back to the basics and appreciate intellectual diversity. It is better to lose all the labeling and presumption of virtue since it is easily debunked. As a wise person once said, the only angels are in heaven.

          • NDaniels

            No doubt, Lincoln realized that regardless of ancestry, we are, and have always been sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers; the sexual objectification of the human person is, in fact, a form of slavery

          • jobardu

            Dan, I just wrote an extensive reply which seems to have disappeared. I have to leave now so I’ll just make a couple of points. One, I consider slavery and the holocaust barbaric, subhuman practices that I have worked against my whole life. Two, I consider myself a liberal in the classical sense that JFK and 1950’s -1960’s liberals who believed in great books, classical education were liberal. Third, I think putting someone down and disaffirming them because of what they say is uncalled for unless their comments are truly reprehensible (like holocaust denial, which, by the way, was honored at Columbia University by inviting Ahmadinejad to speak) or inciting violence Fourth, no where in my post did I oppose the civil war or support slavery. I posed a counter historical question that I have seen elsewhere. Many respected historians do this and some write books about it.

            So I reject your accusations and feel sad that you reacted in an emotionally negative way to what I wrote. I consider it a symptom of an educational system corrupted by political correctness. To my mind, political correctness poses a greater threat to our country than all the right wing Christians combined .

  • jobardu

    I just thought of another descriptor for secular liberals that may be more adaptable for mainstream use: The SIT’s . SIT stands for Sociopathic Identity Thieves. The sociopathic describes their behavior patterns, The identity thieves describes how the lefties co-opt the best of societies ethical principles. The SIT acronym describes how most secular lefties sit on their butts thinking up new ways to verbally or legally abuse the rest of us who are in the trenches working to build a future for ourselves and our children. Non-SIT people form the productive portion of society that is more truly liberal than the lefties and are too busy to think of all the sophomoric and solipsistic stuff the lefties come up with.

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  • TomSolomon

    If I can generalize his point to Judaism and say that secular religion has largely infected liberal Judaism, whom have largely displaced G0d and ritual with the idea that good and evil are states of mind about the social condition, as he says, and the communities’ duty is, not to observe the mitzvot, but to fight against gender equality, power, corruption, etc.
    A really poignant article that sheds light on the religious aspect of liberalism.

  • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

    This goes a long way toward clarifying the descent into reaction and despair in the pages of FT over the past 5-10 years. There is now almost at times a clear admission from some that religion, the church, or their construction of it is primarily a Machiavellian necessity to keep the masses together under the care of the Grand Inquisitor so they can be happy and also reliable GOP votes. (Mr. Goldman shares the same perspective.) For those who smell something rotten in this, I would recommend they look at the most optimistic and orthodox note to sound in FT during the past year: a former intern’s remembrance of the late RJN’s personal decline and last days, particularly the testimony he gave to a hospital nurse:

    The last time we visited his doctor at Sloan-Kettering, a month and a
    half into his illness and a little over a week before he entered the
    hospital for the last time, the nurse asked him the usual medical
    questions. Then she asked about his faith. She had been raised Catholic
    and had been taught that there was a purpose somewhere in suffering. Now
    that she had seen so much of it, she no longer believed in a personal
    God.

    When she finished speaking, Fr. Neuhaus straightened up, shifting from
    being a sick old man to a shepherd of souls. He gave a beautiful
    explanation of the universe as founded on and animated by love, a love
    that was being itself and that sustained all other things in their
    being. If this love lay at the center of existence, then all would be
    made right in the end. She thanked him and departed.
    I told him that I would remember that, and that it was good to see him
    again in his usual mode as a priest. ?Fr. Neuhaus gave a wan smile.
    “That’s what I was born to be, and to do.”

    • NDaniels

      How very beautiful!

  • amcalabrese

    As someone born in the first generation after Vatican II, I do feel that emptiness where the old Catholic culture once stood. My parents both grew up in the ethnic based working class Catholic Church of the 40s and 50s. My father talked about CYO dances and my mother about the festivals. I had neither. It was a somewhat cold aloof Church of the 70s that I grew up in.

    Several years ago I lived for a year in Park Slope Brooklyn and attended yuppifying churches that were built on the ruins of the old Catholic working class. They had a children’s liturgy in the old CYO room. The walls were covered with old pictures and the cabinets filled with trophies from athletic teams. The latest picture and trophy seemed to be from 1961.

    Much of what happened with Vatican II was good. But we lost a lot.

    • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

      Don’t make the mistake that Bottum and Reno make. It wasn’t Vatican II that killed the old parish neighborhoods. It was their reaction to desegregation. Too much of the FT gang is still in denial that they are tools in variations on the old “southern strategy” that keeps telling white conservatives to hang onto bigotries or else anarchy will follow. The spiritual vacuum and disorders of the day are far too serious to be meet with such perverse and infantile reactions.

  • reliapundit

    “secular religion” is an oxymoron and typifies this clever but essentially vapid little essay which commits what a.n. whitehead called “the fallacy of the misplaced concreteness” over and over again – treating a momentarily amusing oxymoronic metaphor as if it were really real and using it as the basis of seemingly analytic argument. liberalism is NOT a religion; it is sort of like some religions in minor ways for some people who call themselves liberals. using the metaphor more broadly is silly.

  • aprey

    I am curious if the book addresses the modern liberal version of the Scarlet Letter: in today’s world, the wrong word or phrase can end a career. Thus the “Scarlet N” or the “Scarlet F”….etc…. and the fact that false rape/sexual harassment charges take on a witch hunt quality.

    • Jim__L

      Don’t forget “hate” crimes…

  • NDaniels

    To suggest that one can lose the fight in regards to the truth about the inherent essence of Marriage, is to suggest that one can lose the fight in regards to the truth about the inherent essence of mankind; we are, and have always been from The Beginning, male and female, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives,

    • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

      You have some problems with that … sentence. If you are saying that conceding cultural defeat for one paradigm necessarily leads to accepting a particular new one, that just doesn’t follow. Maybe you are picking the top candidate, but it’s really just guessing. I would suggest that it’s simply paranoia and unhinged fear to expect society to collapse as gay people gain the right to marry. Even if all the public schools and universities start forcing all their students to explore every possible kind of sex (which the kids largely do on their own, already) most of them are going to come out straight as a needle, and couples will go on having babies and sticking together monogamously. The weird thing about the biggest proponents of natural law is how much they fear it is not natural and must be legislated lest educators, like the Jesuits of yore, take the child of five and produce the man of their own design.

      • NDaniels

        Gay is not a people, it refers to sexual inclination/attraction. Regardless of ancestry, desire, or consent, a man is a man and a woman is a woman.

        • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

          Using it as an adjective doesn’t imply otherwise. Gay people = men and women who are SSA.

          • NDaniels

            Men and women have been designed by God in such a way that it is not possible to engage in same-sex sexual acts without demeaning the inherent personal and relational Dignity of those persons engaging in same-sex sexual acts.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            So where are you supporting the big Christian moral authority-majority to help gay people deal with the fallout of their horrible horrible lives? Yes, sarcasm but serious point. What do you think of Paul Griffiths’ take at FT in his review of Richard Rodriguez’s “spiritual autobiography?” Particularly this near the end:

            “[I]f you think, as Rodriguez seems to, and I do, and all
            Catholics should, that we live in a devastated world in which no sexual acts
            are undamaged, free from the taint of sin and death and the concomitant need
            for lament, then the fact that ­homosexual acts have their own characteristic
            disorder is no ground for blindness to the goods they enshrine. Gay men should,
            of course, darling one ­another; those of us whose darlings are of the opposite
            sex should be glad that they do, and glad of instruction in love by the ways in
            which they do. Love is hard enough to come by in a devastated world without
            encouraging blindness to its presence.”

          • NDaniels

            A sexual inclination that does not respect the inherent personal and relational Dignity of the human person, is not, and can never be, ordered to Love and is thus disordered. There are many types and degrees of disordered inclinations, including disordered sexual inclinations, some more difficult to overcome than others; this fact does not change the fact, that God desires that we overcome our disordered inclinations, whatever they might be, so that we are not led into temptation, but rather, become transformed, through God’s Gift of Grace and Mercy.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            You probably see the problem with this as an argument for establishing positive law.

          • NDaniels

            Man did not create truth.

      • Fred

        Of course the same thing was said about no-fault divorce. “How is a couple ending their unhappy marriage going to harm your marriage, etc.” That was the same red herring then as it is about gay “marriage” now. The point is not that no-fault divorce would damage any particular marriage but that it would damage marriage as an institution by weakening the social support for it and making it easy to simply jump ship at the first sign of trouble in a marriage. Of course then as now, conservatives who made that argument were dismissed as bigots “You’re just a misogynist who wants to keep women chained to unhappy marriages.” And then, as now, the conservatives were right. No-fault divorce is one major factor in the decay of the institution and the concomitant problems Charles Murray pointed out in his last book. Conservatives, apparently have a curse worse than Cassandras. We prophesy accurately, but not only are we not believed, we are condemned, dismissed, and, whenever possible, silenced.

      • Jim__L

        Couples aren’t going on having babies — check out the collapsing fertility rates in the West.

        Even if you think this is a good thing for some reason (that generally boils down to being anti-human), the welfare state as we have structured it isn’t sustainable under those circumstances.

        The obvious way to restructure it? People who don’t have kids shouldn’t be able to collect a full share of Social Security or Medicare. What they save during their working lives will have to be their support, if they didn’t contribute to the pool of children that keeps the system going. (Even then, they’re probably not pulling a full load compared to people who have kids.)

        • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

          So your main agenda is to support the highly functional, wonderful welfare state by creating sticks and carrots to punish the childless and reward those who have a lot of kids? I am sure that will be a hit with both the left and the right, especially those still convinced there is a welfare queen driving a limo around Chicago with her 20 kids.

          Fertility rates are not simply “collapsing in the west.” They go down everywhere as child mortality decreases, as family health and wealth rises, and as women achieve greater liberty and enfranchisement in their societies. Mr. Goldman has often noted how this is affecting the third world, especially highly Muslim populations. Usually he has argued that Americans do not have declining birth rates and are more religious-observant than Europeans, but if you look only at non-immigrant “white” Americans, especially by socioeconomic class, I believe you find trends similar to their counterparts in Europe: low birth rates, low church attendance. This is interpreted by some to portend the collapse of all virtue, faith and civilization itself, but you might do well to examine the assumptions and consider alternative interpretations that could be faithful to the data and not driven by “anti-human” biases.

  • NDaniels

    Fatima, truth, or incredibly unbelievable coincidence? What is needed is a Miracle and every Miracle requires an act of Faith. At this hour it is late, but not too late.

  • Baron Ludwig von Nichts

    I would like to point out that “neoreactionaries” have been saying similar things about the Puritan origins of Progressivism for many years. Progressives are vulnerable the same tools of deconstruction that have been used against other religions, and we’ll probably see much more of this going forward.

    The “progression” from Protestant to Secular Progressive doesn’t stop there; it often continues into Occultism, Nihilism and Lovecraftian insanity (or at least it has in my case). As the brilliant occultist Peter J. Carroll described the Aeonic progression of history as:

    Shamanism -> Paganism -> Monotheism -> Atheism -> Chaoism (higher order shamanism)

    Most Progressives are still at stage four, not realizing that there is no reason to stop there. In fact, I believe humanity is entering a kind of postmodern paleolithic age, in which the agrarian religions can no longer dominate civilization and a chaotic mix of memes is producing a highly confusing, but creative spiritual environment, in which Progressivism is only one rather dull and pedantic option.

  • M. Bizzaro

    “Secularism”, “liberalism”, etc … are *all* brought about by the rejection of the infallible Catholic Dogma of the Catholic God.

    CAUTION: The Catholic Church has no physical properties, priests, bishops, or Pope and hasn’t since 8 December 1965. Mountains of proof on > Immaculata-one.com … Sections 12 and 13.

    When societies reject the Catholic Dogma on Faith and Morals … God allows them to fall into a death spiral.

    Please notice that the Catholic monarchies and Catholic controlled countries lasted about 1700 years … Satan is ripping America apart after only 8 generations.

    Council of Florence, Session 8, Pope Eugene IV, 22 Nov 1439 — Ex-Cathedra Dogma >

    “Whoever wills to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he holds the Catholic faith. Unless a person keeps this faith whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish eternally.”

    • NDaniels

      True, God endowed us with our inherent Right to Religious Liberty so that we could come to know, Love, and serve God, not so that we could worship false idols. Love Is not possessive, nor is it coercive, nor does it serve to manipulate for the sake of self-gratification.

      This does not change the fact that there will be some, like The Good Thief, who will come late to The Fold.

      • M. Bizzaro

        C A U T I O N: The Catholic Church of the Catholic God … has no physical properties at this time, no priests, no bishops, and no Pope … since December 1965 (proofs on Section 12 and 13 of Immaculata-one.com).

        Abjuration of heresy on Section 19.1 of > Immaculata-one.com

        – – – – – – – – – –

        Some inconvenient historical facts … many people “miss” …

        Satan’s “lutheran” heresy … started by men in 1517 > >
        This means “lutherans” are not Christians

        Satan’s “anglican” heresy … started by men in 1534 > >
        This means “anglicans” are not Christians

        Satan’s “huguenot” heresy … started by men in 1550 > > This means “huguenots” are not Christians

        Satan’s “presbyterian” heresy … started by men in 1560
        > > This means “presbyterians” are not Christians

        Satan’s “congregationalist” heresy … started by men in 1582 > > This means “congregationalists” are not Christians

        Satan’s “baptist” heresy … started by men in 1606 > >
        This means “baptists” are not Christians

        Satan’s “dutch reformed” heresy … started by men in 1628 > > This means “dutch reformed” are not Christians

        Satan’s “mennonite” heresy … started by men in 1632
        > > This means “mennonites” are not Christians

        Satan’s “amish” heresy … started by men in 1693 > >
        This means the “amish” are not Christians

        Satan’s “methodist” heresy … started by men in 1744 > > This means “methodists” are not Christians

        Satan’s “unitarian” heresy … started by men in 1774 > >
        This means “unitarians” are not Christians

        Satan’s “episcopalian” heresy … started by men in 1780
        > > This means “episcopalians” are not Christians

        Satan’s “mormon” heresy … started by men in 1829 > >
        This means “mormons” are not Christians

        Satan’s “seventh day adventist” … started by men 1863
        > > This means “7th day adventists” are not Christians

        Satan’s “salvation army” heresy … started by men in 1865 > > This means “salvation army-ists” are not Christians

        Satan’s “scientist” heresy … started by men in 1879 > >
        This means “scientists” are not Christians

        Satan’s “evangelical” heresy … started by men in 1900
        > > This means “evangelicals” are not Christians

        Satan’s “pentecostal” heresy … started by men in 1900
        > > This means “pentecostals” are not Christians

        Satan’s “Bible alone” heresies … by men 1500’s to present > > This means “bible aloners” are not Christians

        Satan’s “orthodox” heresy … started by men in 1054 > >
        This means the “orthodox” are not Christians

        Satan’s “vatican-2″ heresy … started by men in 1965 > > This means “vatican-ists” are not Christians

        Catholic Church > founded in 33 A.D. by Christ

        – – – – – – – – – –

        1. St. Peter (33-67)

        2. St. Linus (67-76)

        3. St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88)

        4. St. Clement I (88-97)

        5. St. Evaristus (97-105)

        6. St. Alexander I (105-115)

        7. St. Sixtus I (115-125)

        8. St. Telesphorus (125-136)

        9. St. Hyginus (136-140)

        10. St. Pius I (140-155)

        11. St. Anicetus (155-166)

        12. St. Soter (166-175)

        13. St. Eleutherius (175-189)

        14. St. Victor I (189-199)

        15. St. Zephyrinus (199-217)

        16. St. Callistus I (217-22)

        17. St. Urban I (222-30)

        18. St. Pontain (230-35)

        19. St. Anterus (235-36)

        20. St. Fabian (236-50)

        21. St. Cornelius (251-53)

        22. St. Lucius I (253-54)

        23. St. Stephen I (254-257)

        24. St. Sixtus II (257-258)

        25. St. Dionysius (260-268)

        26. St. Felix I (269-274)

        27. St. Eutychian (275-283)

        28. St. Caius (283-296)

        29. St. Marcellinus (296-304)

        30. St. Marcellus I (308-309)

        31. St. Eusebius (309 or 310)

        32. St. Miltiades (311-14)

        33. St. Sylvester I (314-35)

        34. St. Marcus (336)

        35. St. Julius I (337-52)

        36. Liberius (352-66)

        37. St. Damasus I (366-83)

        38. St. Siricius (384-99)

        39. St. Anastasius I (399-401)

        40. St. Innocent I (401-17)

        41. St. Zosimus (417-18)

        42. St. Boniface I (418-22)

        43. St. Celestine I (422-32)

        44. St. Sixtus III (432-40)

        45. St. Leo I (the Great) (440-61)

        46. St. Hilarius (461-68)

        47. St. Simplicius (468-83)

        48. St. Felix III (II) (483-92)

        49. St. Gelasius I (492-96)

        50. Anastasius II (496-98)

        51. St. Symmachus (498-514)

        52. St. Hormisdas (514-23)

        53. St. John I (523-26)

        54. St. Felix IV (III) (526-30)

        55. Boniface II (530-32)

        56. John II (533-35)

        57. St. Agapetus I (535-36)

        58. St. Silverius (536-37)

        59. Vigilius (537-55)

        60. Pelagius I (556-61)

        61. John III (561-74)

        62. Benedict I (575-79)

        63. Pelagius II (579-90)

        64. St. Gregory I (590-604)

        65. Sabinian (604-606)

        66. Boniface III (607)

        67. St. Boniface IV (608-15)

        68. St. Deusdedit (615-18)

        69. Boniface V (619-25)

        70. “Honorius I” – fell into heresy

        (625-38) see Constantinople III

        71. Severinus (640)

        72. John IV (640-42)

        73. Theodore I (642-49)

        74. St. Martin I (649-55)

        75. St. Eugene I (655-57)

        76. St. Vitalian (657-72)

        77. Adeodatus (II) (672-76)

        78. Donus (676-78)

        79. St. Agatho (678-81)

        80. St. Leo II (682-83)

        81. St. Benedict II (684-85)

        82. John V (685-86)

        83. Conon (686-87)

        84. St. Sergius I (687-701)

        85. John VI (701-05)

        86. John VII (705-07)

        87. Sisinnius (708)

        88. Constantine (708-15)

        89. St. Gregory II (715-31)

        90. St. Gregory III (731-41)

        91. St. Zachary (741-52)

        92. Stephen II (752)

        93. Stephen III (752-57)

        94. St. Paul I (757-67)

        95. Stephen IV (767-72)

        96. Adrian I (772-95)

        97. St. Leo III (795-816)

        98. Stephen V (816-17)

        99. St. Paschal I (817-24)

        100. Eugene II (824-27)

        101. Valentine (827)

        102. Gregory IV (827-44)

        103. Sergius II (844-47)

        104. St. Leo IV (847-55)

        105. Benedict III (855-58)

        106. St. Nicholas I (the Great)

        (858-67)

        107. Adrian II (867-72)

        108. John VIII (872-82)

        109. Marinus I (882-84)

        110. St. Adrian III (884-85)

        111. Stephen VI (885-91)

        112. Formosus (891-96)

        113. Boniface VI (896)

        114. Stephen VII (896-97)

        115. Romanus (897)

        116. Theodore II (897)

        117. John IX (898-900)

        118. Benedict IV (900-03)

        119. Leo V (903)

        120. Sergius III (904-11)

        121. Anastasius III (911-13)

        122. Lando (913-14)

        123. John X (914-28)

        124. Leo VI (928)

        125. Stephen VIII (929-31)

        126. John XI (931-35)

        127. Leo VII (936-39)

        128. Stephen IX (939-42)

        129. Marinus II (942-46)

        130. Agapetus II (946-55)

        131. John XII (955-63)

        132. Leo VIII (963-64)

        133. Benedict V (964)

        134. John XIII (965-72)

        135. Benedict VI (973-74)

        136. Benedict VII (974-83)

        137. John XIV (983-84)

        138. John XV (985-96)

        139. Gregory V (996-99)

        140. Sylvester II (999-1003)

        141. John XVII (1003)

        142. John XVIII (1003-09)

        143. Sergius IV (1009-12)

        144. Benedict VIII (1012-24)

        145. John XIX (1024-32)

        146. Benedict IX (1032-45)

        Appears three times,

        he was restored twice.

        147. Sylvester III (1045)

        148. Benedict IX (1045)

        149. Gregory VI (1045-46)

        150. Clement II (1046-47)

        151. Benedict IX (1047-1048)

        152. Damasus II (1048)

        153. St. Leo IX (1049-54)

        154. Victor II (1055-57)

        155. Stephen X (1057-58)

        156. Nicholas II (1058-61)

        157. Alexander II (1061-73)

        158. St. Gregory VII (1073-85)

        159. Blessed Victor III (1086-87)

        160. Blessed Urban II (1088-99)

        161. Paschal II (1099-1118)

        162. Gelasius II (1118-19)

        163. Callistus II (1119-24)

        164. Honorius II (1124-30)

        165. Innocent II (1130-43)

        166. Celestine II (1143-44)

        167. Lucius II (1144-45)

        168. Blessed Eugene III (1145-53)

        169. Anastasius IV (1153-54)

        170. Adrian IV (1154-59)

        171. Alexander III (1159-81)

        172. Lucius III (1181-85)

        173. Urban III (1185-87)

        174. Gregory VIII (1187)

        175. Clement III (1187-91)

        176. Celestine III (1191-98)

        177. Innocent III (1198-1216)

        178. Honorius III (1216-27)

        179. Gregory IX (1227-41)

        180. Celestine IV (1241)

        181. Innocent IV (1243-54)

        182. Alexander IV (1254-61)

        183. Urban IV (1261-64)

        184. Clement IV (1265-68)

        185. Blessed Gregory X (1271-76)

        186. Blessed Innocent V (1276)

        187. Adrian V (1276)

        188. John XXI (1276-77)

        189. Nicholas III (1277-80)

        190. Martin IV (1281-85)

        191. Honorius IV (1285-87)

        192. Nicholas IV (1288-92)

        193. St. Celestine V (1294)

        194. Boniface VIII (1294-1303)

        195. Blessed Benedict XI (1303-04)

        196. Clement V (1305-14)

        197. John XXII (1316-34)

        198. Benedict XII (1334-42)

        199. Clement VI (1342-52)

        200. Innocent VI (1352-62)

        201. Blessed Urban V (1362-70)

        202. Gregory XI (1370-78)

        203. Urban VI (1378-89)

        204. Boniface IX (1389-1404)

        205. Innocent VII (1404-06)

        206. Gregory XII (1406-15)

        207. Martin V (1417-31)

        208. Eugene IV (1431-47)

        209. Nicholas V (1447-55)

        210. Callistus III (1455-58)

        211. Pius II (1458-64)

        212. Paul II (1464-71)

        213. Sixtus IV (1471-84)

        214. Innocent VIII (1484-92)

        215. Alexander VI (1492-1503)

        216. Pius III (1503)

        217. Julius II (1503-13)

        218. Leo X (1513-21)

        219. Adrian VI (1522-23)

        220. Clement VII (1523-34)

        221. Paul III (1534-49)

        222. Julius III (1550-55)

        223. Marcellus II (1555)

        224. Paul IV (1555-59)

        225. Pius IV (1559-65)

        226. St. Pius V (1566-72)

        227. Gregory XIII (1572-85)

        228. Sixtus V (1585-90)

        229. Urban VII (1590)

        230. Gregory XIV (1590-91)

        231. Innocent IX (1591)

        232. Clement VIII (1592-1605)

        233. Leo XI (1605)

        234. Paul V (1605-21)

        235. Gregory XV (1621-23)

        236. Urban VIII (1623-44)

        237. Innocent X (1644-55)

        238. Alexander VII (1655-67)

        239. Clement IX (1667-69)

        240. Clement X (1670-76)

        241. Blessed Innocent XI (1676-89)

        242. Alexander VIII (1689-91)

        243. Innocent XII (1691-1700)

        244. Clement XI (1700-21)

        245. Innocent XIII (1721-24)

        246. Benedict XIII (1724-30)

        247. Clement XII (1730-40)

        248. Benedict XIV (1740-58)

        249. Clement XIII (1758-69)

        250. Clement XIV (1769-74)

        251. Pius VI (1775-99)

        252. Pius VII (1800-23)

        253. Leo XII (1823-29)

        254. Pius VIII (1829-30)

        255. Gregory XVI (1831-46)

        256. Pius IX (1846-78)

        257. Leo XIII (1878-1903)

        258. Pius X (1903-14)

        > Papacy falls vacant in 1914

        – – – heretic “Benedict XV” (1914-22)

        – – – heretic “Pius XI” (1922-39)

        – – – heretic “Pius XII” (1939-58)

        – – – heretic “John XXIII” (1958-63)

        – – – heretic “Paul VI” (1963-78)

        – – – heretic “John Paul I” (1978)

        – – – heretic “John Paul II” (1978-2005)

        – – – heretic “Benedict XVI” (2005-2013)

        – – – heretic “Francis” (2013 – )

  • emersonushc13

    Consider how Marxism uses useful idiots and appeals to liberalism as means to undermine democracy. Then there’s also what happens to the far-left mind when utopia isn’t being achieved. If you want to find a genocidal maniac all you have to do is scratch under the surface of a hippie who screams PEACE all day.

  • theBuckWheat

    It goes deeper than that. The British philosopher R.T. Allen, in his article From Flew, Marx and Gnosticism, (Philosophy Vol 68, No 263, (Jan, 1993), pp. 94-98) shows that the immediate source of Marx’s ideas was Hegel, who in tern got ideas from Jacob Boehm, both of whom had as an ultimate source Gnosticism. The central theme of Gnosticism was how humanity can be restored to its rightful place in the heavens and thus to bring full circle and restore points of life who were “alienated” (a constant theme of Marx) from God.

    See also:
    Marx as Millennial Communist by Murray N. Rothbard
    http://mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/R4_5.pdf

  • louis_wheeler

    Perhaps it is best that Mr. Bottum provided no solution, since we are in God’s hands.

    The odd thing is that the only region where Christianity is in decline is in the West. Elsewhere, Christianity is the fastest growing, and largest, religion in the world. This fact is one which the Western media fails to mention. Google it.

    Progressivism is a false religion. Those is nothing new. It is a corruption of Christianity, just as Socialism wears many Christian icons. It is group, not individual, salvation; it is a paean to materialism. All one need do to gain acceptance is prate Politically Correct ideals.

    How did the West get into such a fix? Was it that the West had it too good for too long? That is, we have been too successful. It is in adversity that people return to God. Perhaps, we have been slowly corrupted by government handouts and the Public Schools.

    Currently, we are bogged down in a bad economy with slowly increasing food and fuel prices. Governmental interference in our lives keeps getting stronger.

    The programs which the Progressives have put in place will take decades to remove. America was not an economically or socially free society before Bush or Obama. Our society has been largely corporatist for over a century. Americans had wide expanses where we were personally free, but those regions are being closed off. No longer are we among the Heritage Foundation’s top ten economically free nations.

    If the Progressives believe that they can create a Heaven on Earth via government control, they leave no room for dissenters. “Everything not forbidden becomes compulsory.” No difference of opinion will be allowed. Nor will you have a right to control your person or property.

    A lowering of expectations is a major cause of revolution. But, the Americans of 238 years ago might have had more gumption than we have today.

    • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

      A counter-supposition: plutocratic corporatism’s predations and other forces such as the decline of poor, working class, and lower middle class white Americans’ sense of power, control, and entitlement have made reaction attractive. Fundamentalism enshrined in religious dogma and secular law has become a popular form of reaction that is very attractive to some but deeply unattractive to others. Encouraged by the Republican Party as an extension of its “southern strategy,” these efforts to stoke reaction never intended to allow actual structural, legislative change. After being fooled more than three times, conservatives who fell for this are full of shame, fear, and desperate anger with no clear target. In this respect they resemble damaged, confused post-colonial cultures. In the third world people who have not quite shed their animism seize onto those “essential” parts of the faith such as demon-fighting and the extirpation of demon-surrogates such as homosexuals. In this way the American Bible Belt and Nigeria find common cause. Even among educated American conservatives conservatism becomes largely an argument in favor of what are deemed necessary bigotries, and a magazine like FT starts to react its way in the direction of pariahs and relics like John Derbyshire. Comments on articles there (and here) start to fill up with lunatic Ignatius O’Reilly’s pining for popes with pomp and mystical powers, crying “where are the eagles and trumpets?” If you listen you can hear the rat-scrabble as these people tune into FOX news and cobble together another history-as-conspiracy-theory comment — an inaminate theopolitical Frankenstein sewn together from parts Austrian, Voegelinian, Southern Partisan and John Birch.

      • louis_wheeler

        The Progressives confused American politics, over a century ago, by taking over the leadership of both political parties. Left and Right Progressives want bigger government. They give us a choice between Communism and Fascism, which is no choice at all.

        A Conservative wants neither part of the Welfare/ Warfare state; he wants to be left alone.

        George Will was not a Conservative; how could he and John Kenneth Galbraith be such good friends unless they shared the same values.

        The Demo/ Republican party bosses hate the T.E.A. Party because it represents a true alternative.

        America needs to redefine itself. This is difficult as long as the Progressives control both parties.

        • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

          You can rebuild to your hearts content once the current dogmatomachy ends with the nation in ruins. Unfortunately you’ll probably have to join up with a religulous branch of the Aryan Nation for protection.

          • louis_wheeler

            “There is a great deal of ruin to a country,” as Adam Smith said. Even so, I believe hard times are ahead. This will force a conflict between the Statists, of both parties, and the Conservatives.

            It’s not clear who will win. I suspect that the Red States will muddle through the next currency crisis. Meanwhile, the Big Blue Liberal cities will burn up in riots because the welfare checks have become worthless.

            No, we need not align ourselves with any Fascist group for protection. We Conservatives have enough guns. Moreover, the military, except for the generals, tend to be conservatives. The Progressives plans might crash on the rocks of reality.

  • NDaniels

    Do not despair or be despondent; seek first The Kingdom of God. Everything that is is passing, only Love remains.

  • Darryl Harb

    Bottom’s thesis is hardly original. About a hundred years ago, T. E. Hulme, in his essay on Classicism v Romanticism described the latter as “spilt religion”, with Romanticism’s stepchild -progressivism- the end result of Protestantism’s evolution from Calvin’s “justification by faith” to a “justification by self-regard.”

    As to the predominance of the horror-genre, It is no coincidence that so many pop-culture stories concern predation by vampires and zombies upon healthy young people. This is another part of progressivism’s legacy. The governing class (vampires) suck the life out of them now. The entitlement class (zombies) will be feeding off them long after its members have died. (Can you still belong to the AARP if you’re dead? Just askin’.) Sadly, the vampire/zombie narrative serves only as samizdat for policy issues that one may scarcely discuss openly.

  • RaymondNicholas

    Culture and Faith can never be separated, for one simple reason. Every person has a belief system that manifests in their interactions with everyone else. A unity of Faith will produce one kind of culture; disunity of Faith will produce another.
    In my opinion, Protestantism as Christianity died a slow death with the acceptance of the rebirth of the KKK in the early 20th century, the acceptance of the eugenics movement and M Sanger pre-WWII, and since WWII, the acceptance of addictions of every stripe as the solution to our personal woes, including the allure of science and technology to their harmful ends.
    The result of protestants not standing up and being unified in the Faith is the low culture we now live in. Where is the common voice on issues like structural racism, wherein we keep minorities in their ghettos and make them like it; the death of the family through contraception, abortion, and members so concerned with their own lives that they have forgotten how to care for each other; and individuals full of addictions, self-absorption, and unfettered consumption. How can we be a strong nation if all we do is take and not give?
    Just as important, if we have given up on the Faith, are not our eternal souls imperiled?

    Catholic readers: insert catholic everywhere you see protestant and there you are.

    Taker away free will, intellect, and Divine Inspiration and what do you have? Nothing more than random pinballs in a big board game disguised as humans. Certainly not a life worth living.

    • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

      Total agreement except for the last paragraph. Not everyone has such intellectual dependencies. They have to be instilled to create a certain kind of middling bourgeois mind. Part of the problem is that ossification of “divine inspiration” in fundamentalist doctrine really means the Bible becoming like the Koran or more exactly Dianetics — a privileged insight into how everything is, how it works, how it should be. Some would say it makes scripture into a “gnostic” text. The presuppositionalist influences of American Calvinism on the broader religious right have tended to have this effect. And then you end up with people who take your starting point and derail into something like this: ““everyone has a worldview. Worldviews are religious. Therefore, everyone is religious. To be religious is to have a religion. Therefore, everyone has a religions. All religions are faith-based. Therefore, everyone is faith-based. Faith is something we believe without knowing it’s true. Therefore, everyone lives according to things they believe without knowing to be true. Because we live according to things we don’t know to be true, all people are equally rational (or irrational)—the only difference is that some people’s faiths happen to be true. Our beliefs are the ones that happen to be true.”

      • RaymondNicholas

        Very thought provoking response. But I am not a philosopher or well read in philosophy. My laziness. What I meant to say in that last paragraph is that if we voluntarily give up our free will–choice, we give up our freedom. If we do not nourish our intellect and give into to our lesser appetites, we lose our ability to understand how the world works, that is, natural law and how we fit in. If we run away from inspiration, how will we truly know what is a God-given revelation vs. a desire to be satisfied in the moment?
        The traits listed are what I believe have been given to us by God in order for us to know him and to distinguish us from the animals. Of course, they are not the only things that God has given us. When we reject what God gives us, which forms our humanity, are we still human?

        • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

          Hrm, well this all assumes that it’s appropriate and necessary for Christians or theists in general to accept a simple version of classical metaphysics wholesale, as a comprehensive science. You say that without cultivating reason, base appetites will take over — there’s truth to that (learning is better than ignorance), but fear of anarchy lurking around every corner and just below the waistline is unfounded paranoia. Construing some version of natural law philosophy as “how the world works” is a non-starter. That battle was lost — rightly so — long ago. Assuming inspiration and revelation are quanta of information coming from an entity “outside” the system necessary to control one’s genitals and stop us from raping our way through the animal kingdom (like what animals do?) sounds more like some sort of Late Antiquity Christian Manicheeism than the gospel. If anyone has such desires, they are outliers with serious problems. None of this sounds terribly human or healthy or normative to me. It sounds like a deeply misanthropic anthropology.

          • RaymondNicholas

            If the three attributes I raised, among others, separate us from the animals, what then are their purpose if not to elevate and inform the mind, so that we have a better understanding of the Gospels, of the Triune God? All our minds, not just a selected few. Faith is not science. When we stand before God, I do not think that Faith and science will matter.
            It’s fine with me if you prefer the visible to the invisible and to order your life thusly. I wish to order my life on the words of Christ. That means I must use all the means that God has given me to understand and then to apply. One of the traits I mentioned was free will. Do we not have the freedom to choose one path or another? Understanding does not necessarily mean absolute acceptance, as you seem to infer from my few words.
            BTW, the words of Christ were meant to be simple, so that all the people would understand. In my mind, simple, true belief is far better than intellectual rationalization of sin.
            Quite honestly, your references to sexual things do not make the least bit of sense to me. There are humans out there who will do evil every day of their lives and call themselves Christian. Obviously, they are not Christian and their actions do not change the immutable truths revealed to us by the Triune God.
            We make our bed on Earth.. We lie in it. We will be judged by it.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            This seems like a very confused redaction of certain medieval modes of Christianity and an example of what has become intelligible to 99% of the rest of the culture. Perhaps it is not fully their fault.

            It’s probably not helpful or prudent to try to sort you out here, but your idea that people who claim to be Christian and do evil continuously are therefore “not Christian” seems to be a very basic set of errors. Maybe you mean they are nominally Christian and possibly even recognized as such by a church yet you think they are guilty of damning things. If they are not your responsibility or a threat to you, then welcome to the world. I suggest focusing on other things, like your own faults, rather than the carnival of defective muppets you see outside your window. I know it is getting damn hard to do.

            My jibe about genital control was aimed at your apparent belief that without intellectual development people will go nuts with their “appetites.”

          • RaymondNicholas

            You have a great way of saying absolutely nothing with a lot of words. You exhibit a pattern of responding very unclearly and with sarcasm to most of my questions, and with verbosity and deflection. Attacking someone for their beliefs in an article about the loss of belief does not contribute to the discussion. I assume you find all of this very entertaining.
            Let’s us agree that you have “won” the argument and end our discussion.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            Sorry, I wasn’t trying to attack you as a person for your beliefs. As I said I just don’t see what they add up to, which is why I couldn’t answer your questions. That was not meant as a slight or deflection. I was joking around a bit too though, but not intended as mockery.

            As best as I can tell, you are disappointed with people acting in ways you find irrational and evil, and you use broad classical ideas to describe the true path. I don’t think a paradigm where humans rise or fall from angelic (rational) highs to bestial (appetitive) lows serves as a viable way to understand reality anymore. It’s history and poetry, but it’s bad science. The strong body/mind dualism is problematic simply on its own terms, and it is not endorsed in the bible unless you bring it there and ignore the whole Hebrew contribution

            As near as I can make out you seem to believe that everyone is going to be judged by God on the merits of their ability to control their appetites and develop their minds properly, which you say is understanding the gospels and the trinity. Living by this “invisible” reality is, to you, living as a Christian. To me it sounds a bit monastic — focusing on basic morality, studying theology, mastering desire. The community doesn’t come up though. Neighbors. Grace. Love. A cigar and a good steak?

            I think you got away from what impressed me in your first comment, which was a bout structural racism and taking but not giving. I would have liked to have heard more about that and your opinion that “Protestantism as Christianity died a slow death with the
            acceptance of the rebirth of the KKK in the early 20th century.” Why the KKK? It seems far out, and at the same time there seems to be a nagging blood and soil paganism driving the nativism that will not die in this country. Is it the north atlantic peoples? Is it specifically protestantism?

          • RaymondNicholas

            I think that I have been fairly clear in what I believe in, from a theological view, but you have not stated clearly your theological views. If you wish to have further discussions on the themes I raised, I need to better understand what you believe in.
            BTW, every single thing that I have written has a common thread and root. A few words in a combox are not sufficient to explain and may bore other readers.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            I didn’t mean to draw you into an exchange or defense of theological views. Your view of American history and culture is what interested me, not your theology. Most theology is really concerned with texts, interpretations and arguments. It is history or (in a backwards way) a type of philosophy. A true “theological view” is a view of God, and vision is not generally the right faculty or metaphor to describe the human experience of things divine. You get a surprising amount of mileage asking people (unless they are professional theologians) what their experience of God is, what their heart, soul or inner person hears, says or feels.

            You are right about the limitations of the “combox” which is why it can be good to resort to dense and even humorous aphoristic styles with a serious intent. (Why is it that “combox” came to be and remains a unique term among people who frequent inside-baseball sites for Catholics?)

            Let us say that I believe the the blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold and has overturned the order of the soul. Let us say every thought reduces to fear or love, and behind fear as a defective or inward-turned love looms the chilly evil that we bring into the world. Let us say sin is behovely but all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well. And to plagiarize further you could say I believe in papal infallibility (what it actually means and does of course, not what the average nabob thinks it means) while remaining very glad to be part of the end of protestant principle by cultural default. Which of course is totally inadequate.

          • RaymondNicholas

            If I can glean anything out of your first paragraph, it is your dismissive view of people of Christian Faith. Therefore, I must assume you are either an atheist with secular-humanistic values, or a modern day agnostic or universalist, which is nothing more than a chicken-hearted atheist to begin with. Am I close?
            Your last paragraph is full of grand, sweeping generalizations that say nothing about your specific beliefs, whether they are based on the Word of God or the word of man. You write like a weatherman that can spot the weather trends but really doesn’t know why the trends exist in the first place.
            It seems that when it comes to taking a stand, you like to talk the talk but not walk the walk.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            You could not be more wrong. I am sorry I provoked you into channeling the (always unexpected) spanish inquisition.

          • RaymondNicholas

            Still deflecting with the SI thing. Take a stand and tell me what you actually believe. What are you afraid of?

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            No, just joking! But serious too — why must you pin the tails on every donkey? I have no problem with the regula fidei or the early ecumenical credos. Once they get into metaphysical air castle building I think they mean well but that was the beginning of the end. Good run while it lasted though.

          • RaymondNicholas

            Not every donkey’s tail, just yours. Did anyone ever tell you that the overuse of metaphor and analogy can turn off your readers, be used to deflect from true argument and thereby be discounted as meaningless, be used for personal attacks and further render your arguments as meaningless, and be interpreted in so many ways by the reader as to diminish your points?

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            Perish the thought! Mayhap you are overly used to a steady diet of sober Thomistical syllogisms.

          • RaymondNicholas

            (I wasn’t finished posting when I hit the wrong button. See the finished version of my last post above.)

            In response, not at all. I am not a monk huddled up with my books in a cloister as you seem to think.

            I am, in fact, watching the NCAA T. as I type. Then I am going to the gym for a good workout, and make a great fish dinner for my wife and I. Maybe fillet of sea bass if the store has it stocked.

            The words of Christ are far more important than any words that came after written by any man.. He is the way, the truth and the life. Why should I have any other role model? (Although I much admire many of the saints and popes and I do like to consult the RCC when in doubt on a point.)

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            Sounds delicious. I am sorry you think I am hiding behind words. Perhaps you just haven’t unpacked them. I can’t be clearer without being far too literal. The idea that people can be lumped into “view” and “ism” categories is wrong, I think. I’m not sure what kind of person you are referring to who would pass from “Faith” to “Modernism” to some “pearly gates,” but they are surely not subject to my judgment or yours as to whether it made them “better.” Too little information, and I think that would always be the case for us. We’re no all knowing onlookers, so why be so interested in looking and judging? I did not say I was glad being “party” the the end of Christianity. I don’t think it is ending–but many people who think they define it are ending, and that is probably a good thing in the long run. I do not know what will take their place, but another try at grace and, love without the fear and fighting would be nice. Let a thousand flowers bloom!

          • RaymondNicholas

            Not good enough for me to further explore my ideas with you in my original post. Still deflecting. Goodbye.

          • NDaniels

            Only Christ can judge the state of our soul, but this does not change the fact that Christ Has revealed that sin is an obstacle to Love, which is why we must never be afraid to call sin, sin; who am I to judge is the battle cry of those who do not desire to call sin, sin.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            It does not follow therefore that those who are quick to judge are competent or informed enough to do it, or that they are not creating obstacles to love themselves, or that they can assume or claim divine sanction for their actions. Here I am simply unwilling to cast hypothetical stones at vague unto meaningless hypothetical -isms constructed by hypothetical people hiding behind pseudonymous sockpuppets. Here is a very simple rule of thumb for those of you who took the logical surface of your catechism as a primer for a petty virtual kulturkampf: you’re creating obstacles to love (i.e. sinning) and being crappy people even by tasteful moral pagan standards when you cannot speak the truth in love to real people face to face in your personal relationships and actual communities.

          • NDaniels

            Do not forget, seek first The Kingdom of God;)

          • NDaniels

            You are simply mistaken. In order to be a Christian, you must be in communion with Christ, The Word of Love Made Flesh; Love is not possessive, nor is it coercive, nor does it serve to manipulate for the sake of self-gratification, Love desires only that which is good for one’s beloved. Any act that does not respect the inherent personal and relational essence of the human person, created in The Image of God, is not, and can never be, an act of Love.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            Yes and amen to all that.

          • NDaniels

            The battle began in The Beginning, when, from the moment of our conception, God created every human person, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a son or daughter, and Willed us worthy of Redemption. Love is not possessive, nor is it coercive, nor does it serve to manipulate for the sake of self-gratification, Love desires only that which is Good for one’s beloved.
            We have been given free will so that we can come to know, Love, and serve God, and in serving God, Love man enough to desire Salvation for ourselves and our beloved.

            “No one can come to My Father, except through Me.” – Jesus The Christ, The Word of Love Made Flesh.

            There Is only One Truth of Love.

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            OK but how is this relevant? I’m not sure why this turned into a theological exchange. Mr. Raymond seems uncomfortable sharing views with someone without the correct passwords, handshakes and a lodge number. You see to be looking for a pulpit. Maybe you can answer a real question for me though if we are just shooting the breeze now. Catholics and Jews do not have a dogmatic position on life beginning at conception, correct? In fact the great minds of their respective traditions follow classical sources in placing it some time later.

          • NDaniels

            Catholics and Jews recognize that the moment of our creation is the same moment our life has begun. Are you suggesting one can be created after one has already been created?

          • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

            That’s what I thought. You don’t know what you are talking about, but that doesn’t stop you from talking. Proceed without me.

          • NDaniels

            Love is trinitarian because Love exists in relationship. Every son or daughter of a human person has been created in The Image and Likeness of God, equal in Dignity, while being complemenary as male or female, called to live our lives in relationship as a reflection of Trinitarian Love, although not yet perfected through God’s Grace and Mercy.

  • lfstevens

    Sorry not to see Jonathan Haidt’s seminal work in this area not mentioned. It’s less judgmental and provides a coherent explanation of how the changes emerge from a different worldview. It’s all about the reification of “equality” over other values. It is a powerful force, whose ramifications will play out for at least a generation.

  • NDaniels

    It is the sin of pride that has led to the rise of secular religion; the belief that man, and not God, defines what is Good. Secularists believe that every man can be a religion onto himself if he lets his conscience be his guide

    • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

      So basically your main enemy is Jiminy Cricket … and he’s kicking your butt.

  • NDaniels

    A well-formed conscience is one that is in communion with The Word of God, The Truth of Love, our Savior, Jesus The Christ.

  • Fat_Man

    The historical arc of Puritanism in the US has been from the most rigorous Calvinism when they arrived in the 17th Century to Marxism in the 21st Century.

    The archetype of Calivism in the 17th Century were the Mathers, Increase and Cotton. By the middle of the 18th Century, New England had become infected with the louche doctrine of Arminianism, and Jonathan Edwards (“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”) was exiled from Northhampton for excessive rigor. Within two generations the formerly puritan congregations of New England had become Unitarian. You mention the stages of late 19th and early 20th century social gospel, but have neglected the final stage of collapse which is Marxism.

    They are all Marxists now, not industrial grade Stalinists, but cultural Marxists theorized by Adorno, and Gramisci, and the French lumpen-philosopes such as Foucault and Derrida. But, even those variants of Marxism demands atheism.

    Also atheism, especially, the nasty anti-intellectual atheism of Dawkins et. al., allows them to indulge their favorite passion — contempt for the unwashed masses of Americans — the obese bitter clingers who inhabit fly-over country and cling to their guns and religion.

    Having chosen atheism does not mean that they believe nothing. As Umberto Eco wrote:

    “G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Whoever said it – he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

    “The “death of God”, or at least the dying of the Christian God, has been accompanied by the birth of a plethora of new idols. They have multiplied like bacteria on the corpse of the Christian Church …”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3621313/God-isnt-big-enough-for-some-people.html

    • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

      What is the point of this broad generalization? An equally nasty generalization could be made about the historical arc of Catholicism or Lutheranism in the midwest. If you are talking about Northhampton, MA, white people (who may or may not be of Puritan descent) declined 4% in the last decade. The other major groupings on the census, including biracial, all gained around 30%. I doubt a majority of the growing population are Marxists in any sense.

    • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

      Uncomplimentary generalizations can be made about the flyover clingers as easily as New England post-Puritans. Both groups are on the skids, so isn’t it a self-correcting problem, if you see them as problems? Northhampton lost 4% of its most-likely-to-be-unitarian population in the last decade while the major non-white and biracial groupings (unlikely to be Marxists) each surged by about 30%. It’s all good, man.

  • Chris Anderson

    The first issue I have is the customary and confining definition of religion that requires an organizational structure so as to be labeled a religion. This is a contrived circumference that history uses to exclude all humans which deem themselves apart from an organized religion. That immediate error of definition would have most people exclude the secularist, the humanist, the atheist, the politicist from a religious belief. But, each person is religious as they hold individual beliefs on morality, life, and death. Religion is deep to your personhood as it dictates your values, your morals, your beliefs, and your reactions. In as much as each person holds personal beliefs, motives, and attitudes, each person is religious. One can not escape being religious.

    The second issue is the definition of organized religion. If there are two or more individuals who meet for the same beliefs, for the same attitudes, and for similar actions, that is structure, that is organization. And, with sufficient desire they organize their gatherings, they prune and nurture the shared beliefs, they may want to share it with other likeminded individuals, and they may then want to advocate from their beliefs. Though a social organization, its bedrock comes from their foundational beliefs, their religious tenants, their religion.

    The third issue is the necessary realization that man is made in God’s image, and within each man is a space for God as depicted by Blaise Pascal’s “… a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man …”. That vacuum for God within each human is either filled by the created God, or the Creator God. The created God is the man in the mirror. He dictates his own attitudes, his own beliefs, his own values. He fills the vacuum within with his own beliefs. Man can not escape, can not exempt himself from religion. He cannot be a-religious or irreligious, because each human has core values, beliefs, ethics. Even those who state their a-religiosity are so by religious. The issue arises as to who will occupy the God shaped vacuum, the creator God, or the self created God.

    The final issue is the recognition that secular humanism, patriotism, communism, fascism, atheism are all religions. Secular humanism is perhaps the most organized with the educational systems acting as the seminaries, the media and the government as the pulpits and preachers, and the public as the laity.
    #3.1 chris anderson on 2014-03-26 01:43 (Reply)

    • http://newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

      Do you think these observations are unfamiliar to Mr. Goldman or somehow contradicted by this review? The title is the only place the word “religion” is used. Are you indicating that (Anglo) Americans do not need “a way back” to beliefs that will make them have more babies (Goldman’s near monomaniacal obsession with reproduction as an arms race) because other beliefs will produce this result? I would question the entire chain of reasoning and the assumptions behind it.

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