What would Iran be like if it were Christian?

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I asked myself this question as I strolled the shopping mall in downtown Yerevan today. The answer is: Armenia.

What would be different if Iran were Christian?

  • chicks would be normal. A few skirts, a few jeans, a little cleavage showing on the younger ones, they might look you in the face, however briefly, and they would walk without male escorts.
  • there would be no religious police, and an atmosphere of general toleration of thought
  • there would no requirements for uniformity of religion or excesive modesty of dress; there would even be a few Muslims around, wearing head scarves and jeans
  • higher education would be thought normal for men and women
  • there would be alcoholic drinks and bars in which to drink them
  • hamburgers and pizza would be slightly exotic but also normal
  • There would be opera and theatre, and statues of statesmen and artists in public places.

What would be the same if Iran were Christian?

  • the climate would still be high and dry
  • fruit trees, many of types unknown to northern climes, would be cultivated plentifully
  • There would be wide boulevards, lined with plane trees whose trunks were painted white, and honking cars, driven by impatient drivers
  • The idea of  remaining in your driving lane would be a somewhat elastic concept
  • Men friends would still greet each other with a handshake and one or two kisses on the cheek
  • Commerce would continue unabated.

Anyone who thinks Christianity makes no difference to a culture, and to civilization, needs to go from Armenia to any of its Muslim neighbours, and see and feel and taste the differences.

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Armenia has created a huge museum to hold manuscripts and prints they hold essential to their heritage: firmans (decrees) of Persian shahs establishing the tax-exempt status of church lands, gospels, breviaries, commentaries, most of which were saved from deliberate destruction by the Turks in 1915. Three alphabets have been in use: Arabic (for Turkish and Persian), Armenian, and Cyrillic.

This is a people that has suffered for their religion. Their friendliness towards Russia , the only Orthodox power with the ability to harm the Turks or Persians, is only natural.

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Warren

David Warren is a pain in the ass. His Roman Catholicism is so extreme it might be wondered whether he is a Christian. He is also the only person I have ever met who may yet be made a saint. Go figure.

Do yourselves a favour one of these days soon. Read any number of essays by him on his blog, until you have had your fill.

He reminds me of the last view hobbits had of the elven queen Galadriel on the shores of the Anduin River, as the hobbits floated downstream from the enchanted forest of Lothlorien, heading to perilous adventures in Mordor. There is something lost-in-time about his world view that excites my admiration and annoyance simultaneously. I can only pray that my annoyance may yet bring forth some kind of sustained intellectual effort to find out why I disagree, and where.

But I am not going to be made a saint and Warren may yet be declared one in some reactionary Catholic future, as yet to be imagined, where Chesterton is thought to be the most important writer of the 20th century.

Books

In the Shadow of the Sword: the Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire, by Tom Holland. In elegant prose, Holland takes rather a long time to convey two hugely important facts. First, that the Eastern Roman Empire was exhausted and devastated by plague, and that the Persian and Roman (Byzantine)  Empires had by 650 AD fought each other to exhaustion. Second, the eastern Roman Empire fell to the new Arab armies for much the same reasons that the Western Roman Empire had fallen to Germans: the barbarians the Romans had hired to protect the frontiers were tired of not being paid in the aftermath of great financial crises. In the case of the Arabs, they were already in Syria when they revolted against Rome. Abd-el Malik, the third caliph, retroactively made Mecca, of little importance to the original scheme of Mohammed, the capital of Islam.

This is a fascinating account of the end of the ancient world. I do not do it justice in this brief review; the author’s style is somewhat too elliptical for my straightforward tastes. Nevertheless Tom Holland’s book earns a strong though qualified recommendation.

 

About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the twilight of the Big Bang, by Adam Frank. Frank is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester in New York. The book may be praised with faint damns as a competent review of how man’s conception of time has been socially constructed out of different forms of engagement with material reality over time. It fails absolutely to persuade me that string theory or multiverses are anything but attempts to get around the supreme issue, which is: why is this universe so ideally and so strangely suited to the emergence of conscious life? As to this larger question, Frank ducks it and Paul Davies confronts it squarely in The Goldilocks Enigma, which is by far to be recommended for intellectual depth and boldness.

The physics community has been evading the issue for some time. The vastly improbable sets of physical constants that allow atoms to bind, for heavier elements to form, for the four fundamental forces (electro-magnetic, gravity, strong force and weak force) to act to produce us, is the huge embarrassing question. Because we do live in a Goldilocks universe, and because the evidence is that, if there is only one universe, it is exquisitely attuned to produce human life and mind, it points to a Creator. The prospect of this is too much for materialists to bear, and so you get books like Adam Frank’s that hover around the question but never really come out and say why the multiplication of universes is called for by materialist interpretations of existence.

Roger Scruton is a British conservative and philosopher. His Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left is highly recommended if you wish to see through the feculent suppurations of new left thinking. Scruton explains why it is drivel, in patient exposition. It is as if someone has brought a giant vacuum to the culture’s intellectual septic tank. There’s old Roger, the township’s cleaner of shit tanks, doing his smelly but necessary job of keeping the place free from cholera, dysentery, and pollution.

Here is an example, writing of Sartre:

“Sartre’s anti-bourgeois rhetoric changed the language and the agenda of post war French philosophy, and fired the revolutionary ambitions of students who had come to paris from the former colonies. One of those students was later to return to his native Cambodia  and put into practice the “totalizing” doctrine that has as its targets the ‘seriality’ and ‘otherness’ of the bourgeois class. And in the purifying rage of Pol Pot it is not unreasonable to see the contempt and for the ordinary and the actual that is expressed in almost every line of Sartre’s demonic prose.”

We owe to Scruton an immense debt of gratitude for having patiently gone through the nihilistic nonsense of French academic marxizing to capture its essential nullity, vacuity, and gone over to Satan-ness. Someone has done the work, now I do not have to.

I give the highest recommendation to Stephen Rothman, philosopher and biologist, for his wonderful expositions of what is missing and wrong about modern scientific dogmas, especially as they pertain to biology. Nowhere is the prior and unscientific commitment to materialism so great as in biology, and though Rothman does not dispute it directly he is able to see the difference between an axiom (this is how we proceed) from a truth (a demonstrated and ineluctable conclusion). Rothman is, as far as I know, one of three people who seem to have read Darwin’s second great book, the Descent of Man, or Selection in Relation to Sex, published 13 years after The Origin of Species, and realized that Darwin came up with two different ideas as to how evolution worked. The other two are Geoffrey Miller and me.

Rothman’s The Paradox of Evolution: The strange Relationship between Natural Selection and Reproduction (2015) is a good place to start. He explains, in strictly Darwinian terms, why natural and sexual selection are not the same thing, and are at variance with one another. That is fascinating enough. But he also goes further. He also confronts the notion that, as Karl Popper pointed out was necessary for a theory to be truly scientific, that if natural selection admits of so huge an exception as sexual selection, then natural selection is not a complete theory. And if not a complete theory, it is not scientific in the sense in which Popper used the term. Here is what I mean by complete. Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation do not admit of exceptions. They are universal. There is not an exception for these laws in any part of the universe.

Rothman is philosophically literate, which makes all the difference. So many biologists are simply cheerleaders for Darwin and for materialist doctrines. Rothman therefore entertains as he leads the reader through the difficulties which Darwin’s two theories of evolution pose for true believers. So impressed was I by The Paradox of Evolution that I bought a book of his written 15 years ago, “Lessons from the Living Cell: The Limits of Reductionism”.

I recommend both, if you are interested in what an accomplished thinker can bring to topics of which he is the master. I emphasize the word “thinker”. Rothman is clear, deep, and represents a refreshing change from the fanatic and narrow-minded materialism that dominates so much darwinian cheerleading that passes for thought in the biological sciences. Rothman remains a materialist, I think, but one in whose company one could profitably spend some time.

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin gave this speech in 2013, which is far from the standard liberal blather about the man and his thought. In it he repudiates the western and Atlantic abandonment of Christianity, among other things.

Excerpts of it can be found in a printed version at William Briggs’ blog here.

Among them are these words:

Another serious challenge to Russia’s identity is linked to events taking place in the world. Here there are both foreign policy and moral aspects. We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilisation. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.

The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote paedophilia. People in many European countries are embarrassed or afraid to talk about their religious affiliations. Holidays are abolished or even called something different; their essence is hidden away, as is their moral foundation. And people are aggressively trying to export this model all over the world. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.

What else but the loss of the ability to self-reproduce could act as the greatest testimony of the moral crisis facing a human society? Today almost all developed nations are no longer able to reproduce themselves, even with the help of migration. Without the values ??embedded in Christianity and other world religions, without the standards of morality that have taken shape over millennia, people will inevitably lose their human dignity. We consider it natural and right to defend these values??. One must respect every minority’s right to be different, but the rights of the majority must not be put into question.

Supreme Court upholds religious freedom, kinda, sorta

The Supreme Court has ruled that a Catholic school can teach Catholicism as if it were true, and not just another opinion. One would think this was an obvious right of a religious school, but the government Quebec has gone overboard, as is its wont, in pushing a secular agenda on everyone.

It is as if Quebec had abandoned Christianity but kept the worst aspects of Roman Catholic social conformity, rather than keeping Christianity and rejecting Catholic insistence that we all think  the same thing at the same time.

The judgment of the Court is found here.

Madam Justice Abella wrote for the majority:

 

Freedom of religion means that no one can be forced to adhere to or refrain from a particular set of religious beliefs. This includes both the individual and collective aspects of religious belief. Religious freedom under the Charter must therefore account for the socially embedded nature of religious belief, and the deep linkages between this belief and its manifestation through communal institutions and traditions.

                    The context in this case is state regulation of religious schools. This raises the question of how to balance robust protection for the values underlying religious freedom with the values of a secular state. The state has a legitimate interest in ensuring that students in all schools are capable, as adults, of conducting themselves with openness and respect as they confront cultural and religious differences. A vibrant, multicultural democracy depends on the capacity of its citizens to engage in thoughtful and inclusive forms of deliberation. But a secular state does not — and cannot — interfere with the beliefs or practices of a religious group unless they conflict with or harm overriding public interests. Nor can a secular state support or prefer the practices of one group over another. The pursuit of secular values means respecting the right to hold and manifest different religious beliefs. A secular state respects religious differences, it does not seek to extinguish them.

Loyola is a private Catholic institution. The collective aspects of religious freedom — in this case, the collective manifestation and transmission of Catholic beliefs — are a crucial part of its claim. The Minister’s decision requires Loyola to teach Catholicism, the very faith that animates its character, from a neutral perspective. Although the state’s purpose is secular, this amounts to requiring a Catholic institution to speak about its own religion in terms defined by the state rather than by its own understanding. This demonstrably interferes with the manner in which the members of an institution formed for the purpose of transmitting Catholicism can teach and learn about the Catholic faith. It also undermines the liberty of the members of the community who have chosen to give effect to the collective dimension of their religious beliefs by participating in a denominational school.

                    In the Quebec context, where private denominational schools are legal, preventing a school like Loyola from teaching and discussing Catholicism from its own perspective does little to further the ERC Program’s objectives while at the same time seriously interfering with religious freedom. The Minister’s decision suggests that engagement with an individual’s own religion on his or her own terms can be presumed to impair respect for others. This assumption led the Minister to a decision that does not, overall, strike a proportionate balance between the Charter protections and statutory objectives at stake in this case.

But here comes the large qualification:

That said, the Minister is not required to permit Loyola to teach about the ethics of other religions from a Catholic perspective. The risk of such an approach would be that other religions would necessarily be seen not as differently legitimate belief systems, but as worthy of respect only to the extent that they aligned with the tenets of Catholicism. This contradicts the ERC Program’s goals of ensuring respect for different religious beliefs. In a multicultural society, it is not a breach of anyone’s freedom of religion to be required to learn (or teach) about the doctrines and ethics of other world religions in a neutral and respectful way. In a religious high school, where students are learning about the precepts of one particular faith throughout their education, it is arguably even more important that they learn, in as objective a way as possible, about other belief systems and the reasons underlying those beliefs.

                    Teaching the ethical frameworks of other religions in a neutral way may be a delicate exercise, but the fact that there are difficulties in implementation does not mean the state should be asked to throw up its hands and abandon its objectives by accepting a program that frames the discussion of ethics primarily through the moral lens of a school’s own religion.

This is the part I do not understand. You can be respectful without being neutral. You can deal with a belief system as morally serious without accepting it, just as you can deal with Communism, or Aztec heart sacrifice, without for a minute accepting its premises.

You can be neutral without being respectful, as for example, Dawkins and other materialists are neutral but disrespectful towards all metaphysical and religious concepts.

Why indeed, should a religious school be prohibited from framing the discussion of ethics primarily through the moral lens of the school’s own religion?

There should be no debate at all

I was watching a political show on CBC television last night with the usual political talking heads. The niqab issue came up, the disputed right of a woman to wear a face covering at the Canadian oathtaking  citizenship ceremony. The young zealot for the NDP said “we should not be debating this issue at all”. This was answered by the Tory representative in suitably irenic terms.

Here would have been my response, which is why I do not represent the Conservatives in a public space.

Listen you little faggot bigot! The largest totalitarian social ideology in existence asks us to accommodate their social, sexual, and religious separatism, as they come here to colonize our society. They ask us to respect the niqab. They wear them because they think that women stimulate men to lust, and rather than require men to control their lusts, they repress women because Islam holds women to be unclean, little better than domestic animals.

It is not a question whether only two women have sought to take the oath of allegiance to the Queen and Canada. It is not question of numbers, but of principle. One woman taking the issue to the Canadian courts seems sufficient to overturn immemorial western social and cultural traditions. No question will arise in the Courts whether Canadians have rights not to accede to the most backward interpretation of Islam.

They assert a right to a “religious obligation” that imposes a reciprocal obligation on us, to amend our social customs of female freedom.

I assert the right to cut out hearts of victims and offer them to the Sun God, to keep him shining, and I claim to be a devotee of Huitchilopotchli, the Aztec sun god. I insist on the right to practice my religion. I do not care that my religion may constitute a violation of Canadian social, civil and religious custom. Is that right?

The largest issue in the world is the violent subjection of free and liberal societies to the anti-intellectual, anti-spiritual, and anti-human doctrines of a totalitarian social ideology, through killings, bombings, and lawfare.

And you say this issue should not be debated?  If I said that the white race needs to wage a race war against inferiors, you would have me in jail as fast as you could send me there, and you would organize mobs to shut me up. But if I say that, as a member of the Master Religion, it is my duty to erase your culture and civilization, and to blot out the memory of it, and submit us all to an unchanging set of absolute laws, which have been revealed once and for all and have not been the subject of rational inquiry or discussion since the tenth century of the Christian era, then you say this should not be discussed?

Islamic countries are being destroyed by religious wars, which are now sending millions on the path to colonize Europe, and to subject Europeans to Islam. Countries which cannot produce goods or services to sustain their own populations, and which have been unable to govern themselves constitutionally and peacefully at any time in their collective past, now claim to be able to rearrange our society to its convenience?

And you say this should not even be discussed?

The sad part of this is that the little bigot from the NDP is right. You cannot discuss Islam in public, and yet this is the issue of our times. No wonder the Tories are raising the issue as directly as they can, by defending our social customs. They are  allowing Canadians to express their sentiments on the most important issue before us which, thanks to the ceaseless efforts of people like that bigot from the NDP, has become undiscussable.  It is as if you could not have discussed National Socialism and Hitler in 1936 because one has a religious right to be a national-socialist.

 

Loose lips sink ships

I am tiring of liberal tolerance. To be more precise,  I am tiring of tolerance itself being promoted as a virtue without reference to what is being tolerated.

I had occasion to issue a gentle reproof yesterday to an American friend who keeps uttering nearly homicidal anger at Evangelicals, fundamentalists, and Republicans. In short, I grew intolerant of loose talk the net effect of which was to legitimize violence against one’s fellow citizens. Even if the speaker is civilized and over 65, I am becoming sufficiently alarmed at the general atmosphere of loose talk that I feel it necessary to risk social offence in saying: “tone it down”.

 

Myspace Chris Harper-Mercer, 26 gunman in the Umpqua Community College in Oregon
Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, gunman in the Umpqua Community College in Oregon

The rampage killer in the Oregon community college, Chris Harper Mercer, martyred – that is the word – ten Christians yesterday for the crime – in his eyes- of their faith. I can only shudder at the bravery of those who, seeing their classmates killed for admitting to being Christians, still admitted to being Christians themselves. I am not sure I would have had the courage. But my concern is the atmosphere of loose anti-Christian talk of the Dawkins-Dennett variety that has pervaded the culture, and given the justification to the crazy angry young men of this world to kill Christians. The killer was not a Muslim; he was what can be described as a secular-humanist, an atheist. Such people used to lack convictions; recently they have been led to believe their atheism amounts to a justification for martyring the faithful who have convictions or beliefs different from their own.

In the same way that we can hold Wahhabist doctrines to be the source of Islamic jihad, so we can now hold militant atheism/materialism  to be responsible for this martyrdom of Christians. They have now joined the ranks of the rest of us fallible humans: people will kill for what they believe, and now the atheist/materialists have their own home-grown American mass killers.

Of course, Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot beat them to the punch many years ago.

 

Perhaps the laziest blog posting ever, and the most complete

Day by day pontificating on the Greek crisis, the black American underclass crisis, the non existent global warming crisis, Islam, Putin, Obama, the Democrats, the Republicans, the Grits, the Tories, IQ differences among races, automation, modernity and every sort of ephemeral dispute: let me summarize.

Check how many propositions you agree with below. Send me your scores and how you counted.

1. Global warming

a) not happening, as it appears from evidence

b) solar radiation and the amount received by the planet earth drives most of the climate,most of the time.

2. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW)

a) could be happening but is not, see 1 above

b) could be happening but it is too expensive to address it directly, compared to other highly soluble environmental and social problems.

3. Anthropogenic global warming craze

a) a delusional belief system, akin to the cholesterol panic, with a roughly sixty year cycle from invention through inflation to evanescence.

4. The Pope and his recent support for AGW

a) traditional catholic anti-capitalism dressed up in new clothes

5. Taking down the confederate flag in South Carolina

a) about time. The US Civil War was about the enslavement of blacks. I do not approve of slavery, slave owners, or blaming personal or collective failures on the heritage of slavery.

6. American blacks

a) according to US Department of Justice statistics, a white person is 67 times more likely to be attacked by a black person than a black person is likely to be attacked by a white person. Handle with caution.

7. Racial differences in  IQ

a) quite real and possibly genetic in origin,  and susceptible to improvement by the imposition of academic standards.

b) the imposition of academic standards is highly difficult in times of raging desire for equality of outcomes.

8. Islam

a) a totalitarian political ideology dressed up as a religion

b) in the main, a complete waste of time, Civilizations that succumb to it have succumbed to a complete failure to advance socially, materially, or spiritually.

9. Materialism

a) a gigantic limiting assumption on whatever could be real.

b) the predominant intellectual fashion of our age.

c) To my mind, completely refuted by split screen experiments and the confirmation of the mind’s influence on the outcome of split screen experiments.

10. God

a) some kind of superintending and creative intelligence is, in this view, highly likely.

b) by definition, not subject to scientific refutation or support (if it is in the domain of material reality, it is not God)

11. Mind

a) likely to exist apart from its material substrates, such as brains.

b) intimately related in normal conditions to awareness, intention, emotion, and other states of mind.

12. Inequality

a) there is too much emphasis in contemporary on the evil consequences of inequality and too little emphasis on the degree to which inequalities are natural.

b) All men are equal, and all men are unequal, and any society that tries to suppress the truth of either proposition will end in violence.

13. The sexual revolution

a) we are heading rapidly back into a pagan attitude to sexuality. Pauline Christian ideas about with whom to have sex, in what legal constraints, and in what orifice are going out the window.

b) I am ambivalent about it, but I enjoy the changes so far as they have affected me.

c) The state has successfully substituted itself for the ancient ties of family and community, and this with immense popular support in all democracies. Most people in advanced cultures trust the state more than they trust their cousins.

14. Change

a) It is likely that 50% of the ideas expressed here will be repudiated in the next century.

b) which 50% – or larger – is impossible to determine

15. Fossil fuels

a) the advances of wealth, and with wealth, tolerance and the ability for self-expression, that have been made since 1800 are primarily the outcome of increased amounts of energy available to each person on the planet.

b) that increase of wealth is largely the result of burning fossil fuels.

c) Wind and solar energy sources should be pursued up to the limits imposed by physics and the costs of production, and no further. Large scale substitution of wind and solar for fossil fuel energy is demonstrably uneconomic and anti-ecological.

16. On male and female

a) while the Scientific Revolution of the last two centuries derives from other sources than male/female intelligence differences, it is males whose minds, procedures, and cooperation  have generated nearly the totality of scientific and technical progress in that time.

17. On science

a) science as we understand the term has proceeded from a confidence in the intelligibility of the universe as the creation of a rational God, and not otherwise.

b) Chinese, Indian and Arabic civilizations did not develop science for reasons particular to each of those civilizations and cultures. They discovered knowledge in various ways, but not in the rigorous exploration of the boundaries of what is known, and in the organized procedures of intellectual challenge, free from physical violence and the suppression of inquiry by religious authorities, that characterize most other civilizations and cultures, and which threaten ours.

 18.Obama

a) A half-black Woodrow Wilson, an academic, brought up by white Lefties, an ungifted politician, not half as smart as he thinks he is, who rode the wave of being “black”, which he is not, into power. Never bought into him, never was disappointed, never was impressed.

b) His appointment of the racist anti-white Eric Holder as Attorney General, has legitimized, and augmented, a general anti-whitism in the public discourse. White people have not yet shown signs they are collectively fed up with it.

19. The Left

a) is premised on the notion that society is wrongly constituted, that they know what is wrong, that their analysis is perfect, and that what is wrong can be cured by social, political, or economic measures, which act as external constraints on behaviour, not inward changes in man.

b) At their worst, a Godless bunch of destroyers who have been unleashed on our churches, schools and universities, and have destroyed them. By Godless I mean not merely atheistical, but narrowly and stupidly materialistic.

c) They are totally in denial about their destructive impulses and effects, and firmly believe they are morally superior to any opposition, though they deny the basis of morality in any supernatural, metaphysical basis.

d) lacking a metaphysical basis of agreement among themselves, or confidence in the constitution of material reality to cause things to turn out right, they turn politics into a series of tests of agreement on increasingly ridiculous propositions, disagreement with which is cause for expulsion, derision, calumny, and, in the extreme, death.

e) the belief in the rationality of their analysis of  the world ends in irrational politics, and the celebration of that irrationality.

20. Conservatism

a) A strong distrust of the perfectibility of man.

b) The deep suspicion that one could be wrong about many large, important things.

c) the confidence to argue for what you believe, despite a and b above.

d) A deep distaste for persecuting hypocrites, and for persecutions in general.

e) a confidence in the saving power of Jesus Christ – whatever that may mean.

f) The confidence that somehow, against many odds, and multiple sources of error, sin, passion, ignorance, and ideology, that  the human species, and not just its its living conditions, is getting better.

__________________________________________________________

Materialists, feminists, lefties, Muslims, progressives, slave holders, Confederates, and Obamanauts can vie to see who among them is the most offended.

The rest of us can get on with life, knowing that someone sane is out there.

 

 

 

 

Gay marriage, SCOTUS and the decline of Christianity

There are issues I do not have the wit to sort out. The recent Supreme Court decision in the United States on same sex marriage, and what it portends for society, is one of them. I do not know whether this marks the beginning of state-assisted civilizational suicide, or just a steady retreat from Pauline Christianity into something more tolerant and more tolerable for the human species. I suspect the latter. And I suspect myself for not getting bothered about it, but I have come to the end of my capacity for flogging myself for not thinking the end is nigh. I do not think the end is nigh. Broadly, and with large exceptions such as Islam, I think things are okay.

I think the human species will struggle on, banging its head against stupid ideas for thousands of years, and then, suddenly, abandon the struggle and taking up some new idea against which to bang its head for another two thousand years.

The stupid idea against which we have banged our heads, since Saint Paul got the whip hand over Christianity, was that people of the same sex should not feel or express lust for one another. Possibly this was a healthy reaction to the decadence of the late Roman Empire. In any case, the anti-sexualism of Saint Paul may be shared among many religions, in the sense that the path to God may lie through principled denial of the body. I doubt it, but ascetic self-denial is a sure and  true path to the godhead for some. For many such as myself, Saint Paul is as much a stumbling block to the Christian  faith and as a path to it.

Monotheistic  religions, and religions generally, consider that the man-woman procreative bond must exist and be strongly defended against adultery, homosexuality, and any recreational sexual temptations that undermine the pair bond that is dedicated to raising children. Society has a strong interest in its own perpetuation. Religions are conservative; they have to be. They have to concern themselves with what keeps the species going.

I am not going to bother much with whether the Supreme Court of the United States has just invented law. I assume it has. They do it all the time, just as doctors turn off the taps. You don’t want to know this, but animals are killed to make your steak. Judges make this stuff up. They should do so within careful limits. Conservatives feel that the rigor and certainty of the law is threatened when this is done too obviously, and without careful extraction of new and limited findings from previously existing principles. I agree. But all laws are made up. Some laws are consistent with human nature and with the development of a better society, but nonetheless they are made up.

Christianity was first articulated in the first two or three centuries after Jesus when slavery was common, divorce was an almost certain means of starving one’s ex-wife and children, and cruelty to animals was an everyday sight in the streets.Christ spoke against divorce, and said nothing about slavery, yet today we have divorce and human slavery has been largely abolished outside of Islamic countries.

 

The idea that people should actually love one another, as the proper expression of their love for God, continues to influence the world for the better. To this day, Christianity makes the world a better place. The circles of our sympathies are wider, and our ideas of rights broader, because of the primal commandments of Jesus to love one another.

I do not buy this notion that Christianity is uniquely or even principally responsible for the world’s ills. That is letting the human species off too easily. Homo homini lupus, and we should never forget our murderous propensities.

Christianity has had a great influence on social movements that ended modern chattel slavery, on reducing cruelty to children and animals, on expanding the rights of prisoners of war and of the state, and in considering the human person to be worthy of dignity and respect. As Nietzsche described it, Christianity was a religion of slaves, and he hated it for that reason. For that very reason, Christians embrace it. We have all at one time or another in our pasts been slaves to various Pharaohs, and today we may well  be slaves to new forces that will in time be recognized as the old Pharaoh with a new face.

So I regard the gay-rights thing as an overturning of one part of the message of Christianity for another, more important part, of the same message. It has always been this way, that some will see in the message of love thy neighbour as thyself, broader ideas of who is my neighbour, or deeper ideas of love, or – here is the catch – calls to love ones self a little more so that there is love to go around to one’s neighbour as well as to one’s self.

The message will not die, even as Courts make up new rights.

A target rich environment

It is a week beyond satire or exaggeration in the march of folly and error.

The white woman parading as a black, and a fraud at may levels, Rachel Dolezal, former head of the NAACP in some whitebread state. Best article on the subject is Terry Glavin’s in the Post.

Pope says Mass at Easter: Catholic Church condemns capitalism, greed, off-shoring, fossil fuels and planetary destruction ensuing therefrom. I am enjoying the recent micro-surge of people objecting to the immorality of preventing the poorest 2 billion on the planet from enjoying the benefits of fossil fuels. Nigel Lawson for one, and I am proud of Moses Znaimer for presenting such people at his Idea City conference. When the ultra-hip capitalist Moses Znaimer acts like this, expect him to be six months to a year ahead of the crowd. (From my personal experience, Moses Znaimer is quite politically sensible, but he has to disguise it under a canopy of hip-ness. I apologize to Mr. Znaimer for any harm this recommendation in right wing circles may cause him).

What else? Canadian Liberals call for proportional representation or some variant so that they can govern Canada once again.The always intelligent and frequently wrong adornment of Canadian journalism, Andrew Coyne, is beside himself with glee. The better reaction came from Kelly McParland, who pointed out that, since the Liberals have been out of power for nine years, their innate conviction is that something must be the matter with Canada, and fixing the voting system will address that problem.

Now, however, the party has lost three successive elections, so something must be wrong. Not with the party, mind, but with the election system. How can anyone put their faith in a system that doesn’t reliably elect Liberals?

That appears to be the root cause of Justin Trudeau’s declaration that, if he has his way, the election in October will be the last under the first-past-the-post system, which has served Canada reliably since Confederation, and hasn’t hindered the country from attaining its present level of peace, prosperity and tolerance. The only thing wrong, it appears, is that it can no longer be counted on to assure regular, lengthy periods of Liberal rule.

Then there is the case of the Chief of Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces saying something  sort of true and politically oh-so-incorrect about males in the army wanting to rub themselves up against the sweet thighs of female underlings, or some such expression. Well yeah! Of course!

This is further proof, if any were needed, that no true fact can be asserted in public without causing a scandal.