Repost: Why did God reveal the doctrine of the Trinity?

Among the objections to the doctrine of the Trinity raised by our Mormon brothers, some may be dealt with quickly.  They say that it is nonsense, but that is certainly not true.  Substantial unity is logically distinct from personal unity, and the fact that the two are isomorphic for humans does not prove that they must be so for God.  That we cannot really imagine what it would mean for a single intelligent being to have three personal “centers” is true but irrelevant.  All of the divine attributes are ultimately unimaginable to us, including those we think most self-explanatory–his omniscience (we cannot imagine knowledge that is not limited in being mediated by concepts) and omnipotence (we cannot imagine creating beings out of nothing, so that their entire existence is a participation in one’s own).  Nevertheless, we can have some abstract idea what it means to be omnipotent, omniscient, and tripersonal.

A more serious objection, raised multiple times by Bruce Charlton, is that the doctrine is unnecessary to our relationship with God, that it does nothing practically for simple believers but create confusion.  We orthodox Christians obviously do not accept this.  The dogma of the Trinity we hold to have been revealed to us by God, and when God tells us something, it’s because we need to know it.  In fact, the dogma of the Trinity vouchsafes for the orthodox what we think is the proper understanding of God’s greatest and most important promise to us–that through Christ He makes us His own sons.  Misunderstanding the nature of God opens one to disastrous misunderstandings of this promise.

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Ascension Thursday: another Holy Day devoured by Christianity as loving people

Ascension Thursday (celebrated now by most of us on Sunday) would be a good time to talk about the Ascension.  The doctrine than Jesus ascended bodily into heaven is less clear to us than it was to the ancients, who tended to assume that heaven lies physically outside of the celestial sphere.  Today, we don’t have any such clear idea of where heaven is, although we must still regard it as sufficiently like a physical location (rather than, say, a state of mind) that it can be meaningfully said to hold physical bodies.  We don’t know what to make of Jesus floating up into the sky, and understanding the gospel is what homilies are supposed to be for.

Back when I was in New York, I attended a parish that once took a crack at the Ascension, but in its usual modernist way.  That is, instead of explaining what the doctrine means, the priest explained to us how it should make us feel–reassured, of course, because God has in some vague way maintained His intimacy with human nature.  Much more common, in my experience, is what I got last Sunday, the same homily we always get:  Christianity is about sacrificing for other people and sharing God’s love, joy, peace…[insert sugary Church word]…with them.  Last Sunday it was the deacon preaching, and he decided to tell us about the movie Pay It Forward.

We often criticize Catholic homilies for reducing the faith to niceness.  It’s actually not quite that bad, in that the priests do stress that love of neighbor can require real sacrifices on our part and can make us unpopular, which would not be true of mere niceness.  On the other hand, they really do reduce Christianity to morality, i.e. “love of neighbor”.  Ironically, this reduction has happened at the same time that the local Churches have become so very vague about the moral law, which tells us what is and is not compatible with love of God and neighbor.  (It’s stunning, isn’t it, that 90% of Catholics are committing the mortal sin of contraception, and yet our priests don’t think this issue is worth addressing at all?  It’s as if they don’t actually care if their parishioners go to heaven.)

Just beefing up on the specific content of Christian morality, though, wouldn’t solve the basic problem.  The basic problem is that Christianity is not fundamentally about morality.  Of course, it does have necessary consequences for our moral duties, but the core of the message is God revealed in Jesus Christ.

God must be the main focus of a parish.  He is not just a word to be tacked on when talking about how we should love our neighbors.  Remember, there are two greatest laws.  Love of God is the first. Love of neighbor is the second.

The most painful week of the liturgical year, Trinity Sunday, is coming up.  It’s the week that pastors’ refusal to focus on God is most awkward for them.  Usually, they’ll start off by saying that the doctrine of the Trinity is “a great mystery”, meaning there’s nothing to be said about it, but the real point of Christianity is loving each other, so let me tell you this story about a little boy who gave his ice cream cone to a homeless man…

I’ll make a separate post when the time comes so we can share stories.

The language of sexual conquest

Men are stronger than women.  Women thus enter the public sphere from a position of weakness.  The sense of helplessness this might inspire is alleviated by customs whereby men appear to cede high status to women, what we now call “chivalry” (which is, of course, distinct from the medieval warrior code of the same name).  Our many ritual acts of deference to our ladies, holding the door for them and so forth, wouldn’t make sense except as a corrective to the real power everyone knows men hold.  Manosphere writers misunderstand these customs when they imagine them stemming from a view that women are inherently more valuable, while feminists who regard such “benevolent sexism” as a part of the patriarchy are basically correct (but with their moral evaluations reversed, as always with them).

Men want sex more than women.  This means women have a stronger bargaining hand in the bedroom.  No man wants to beg for sex; that would be humiliating and contemptible.  We thus ritually correct the power asymmetry by describing sexual intercourse in terms that flatter the man’s agency:  he “took her”, “had his way with her”, and so forth.  Feminists misunderstand this language by taking it literally, thinking it reflects a “rape culture” and that men experience their sexual appetite as a strength rather than a weakness.  In fact, men often experience lust as perturbability, as weakness, and we are embarrassed by its power over us.  Here it is the writers of the manosphere who seem closer to the mark, pointing out that the woman herself prefers to be “conquered” than to be petitioned.

With the new positive consent laws, the state is stripping men of these customary defenses of their dignity, forcing them to explicitly ask for sex and for every stage leading up to it.  A man is forced into the role of a supplicant, despising himself as he is despised by his woman.

And this role we hate.  Folk wisdom has it that when a boy pulls a girl’s pigtails, it probably means he likes her.  I’m sure this is true.  When a man becomes attracted to a girl, he feels a paradoxical urge to tease and offend her.  Girl’s are cute when they’re shocked and offended–no doubt about that.  If you can amuse and shock a girl all at once–get her to exclaim “I can’t believe you just said that!” in between suppressed giggles, it feels like, like victory.  You’re not some beggar pleading for sex.  No!  It feels like you’re in charge.

When I was first dating the woman who would become my wife, I tried really hard to be friendly and polite, and I felt stifled all the time.  Then I decided to just start treating her like one of my younger sisters, amusing myself by throwing one outrageous lie at her after another.  She didn’t get teased much as a kid, so it took her a while to catch on, but since she did we’ve gotten along splendidly.

I don’t blame women for being annoyed with us.  I wouldn’t like it if they were that way to us!  But the asymmetry here is rational, in that it exists to correct another, unavoidable asymmetry.  Any man would rather be a little obnoxious than feel himself in the position of a little boy begging his mother for a cookie.

The spread of Leftism: What if it’s the other way around?

  1. Especially with the rapid conquest of gay marriage, many have marveled at how quickly a belief can go from being outlandish to being socially required, at least when it’s part of the overall Leftist march.  Often, much progress can be made simply by asking a different question from the one others are asking.  So, what if, instead of “How does Leftism advance so quickly?”, we were to ask “Why does Leftism advance so slowly?”  This is the question Leftists implicitly invoke when they cry out “I can’t believe it’s 2015 and we’re still arguing about this!”  But surely conservatives’ expectations are the more realistic here?  Shouldn’t we expect it to take a long time for people to overhaul their understanding of sex and marriage, not to mention reject the explicit teaching of their ostensible religion?  However, on the question of sodomitical relationships, nearly all the argument and propaganda has been on the revisionist side, with nearly none defending the older view.  Most people have never heard an argument for sexual complementarity.  Pastors refuse to even mention what the Bible says, not to mention defending it.  Yet everybody has encountered arguments for gay marriage and been at least exposed to the presumption that distinct gender roles are inherently unjust.  Why wasn’t everyone convinced long ago, given that they only heard from one side?  One might say the same about racial integration, feminism, or other big social changes.  There was initially popular resistance, but little intellectual resistance.  This despite the fact that the Left’s arguments were in no case particularly strong.  Perhaps the triumph of the Left is less a case of overcoming resistance from the Right as it is of it just taking some non-zero time for the Left’s message to diffuse, essentially unopposed, through the West’s social networks.  This is not to say, of course, that there has been no Rightist ideological resistance.  I just doubt that it’s important enough to significantly affect the timescale of the Left’s advance.
  2. Universities have a reputation as being extremely Lefty places.  In fact, the private section has become roughly as intolerant of dissent from liberalism, but it is nonetheless true that the Left “owns” academia.  The usual story is that professors are brainwashing their students with “cultural Marxism” and the like.  The instruction causes the students to acquire radically Leftist views, and they then carry those views to the outside world.  What if it’s the other way around, though?  What if it’s the students who are driving the university Left?  We know that, in the sixties, it was the students who were communist radicals and terrorized their professors, who were mostly moderate liberals.  Even today, I’ve heard more anecdotal evidence of professors frightened of their radical students than students intimidated by radical professors.  Just for fun, we could entertain the hypothesis that universities are Leftist places just because they have large conglomerations of young people, and youth communities–for some independent reason–tend to be Leftist.  Even if students are radicalized by college, this could be more from peer pressure than instruction.

Is there any evidence either way?

Youth mentorship in a Catholic parish

I hope Beefy Levinson actually as more than five loyal readers.  Here’s a peak at the inner workings of a parish and its youth program:

The youth minister does what he does for a living, though he’s clear he doesn’t want to do it forever. I don’t blame him one bit. As is the case with most Catholic parishes these days, the employees of the parish are 90% women. A woman holds the position of Director of Religious Education. As the title says, she’s a clip haired, mean faced broad in a pantsuit as Michael Savage would put it. My sources tell me that she’s untouchable and she strongly dislikes the YM. Of course she does; he’s a confident man who cares about ensuring the kids receive a good formation in the Catholic faith and wants them to go to heaven.

The pastor believes in the YM but at the same time, he’s terrified of confrontation like most priests usually are. If he gets uppity with his female employees, they might all walk out and complain to the bishop. Father would then get called onto the carpet and get scolded for not being paaaaastoral and having a problem with women. Both YM and myself, in contrast, love confrontation. If I were in his position, I would tell the DRE, “Fuck you and your progressive bullshit.” YM cannot do that as he has a wife and infant daughter to take care of.

I’m thinking I’d like to involve myself in the religious education program at whatever parish I end up in.  (It seemed silly to bother infiltrating my current one when I don’t have tenure.)  I have no relevant expertise to teach, but I can volunteer to make copies and babysit.  The point is to be able to follow what’s going on in the program and check material for orthodoxy.  My oldest girl will soon be old enough for religion class, which they usually make children take if they want to receive the sacraments (otherwise I wouldn’t even consider accepting the spiritual dangers of a post-Vatican II religion class), and I’ll definitely want to be able to spy on them.

Speaking of “kidnapping on a large scale”: debtors prison plus priests who encourage divorce

Almost simultaneous to my Chesterton post, Dalrock posted a wonderful essay on the state’s enthusiasm for ejecting fathers from their families:  Debtors prisons are an essential tool of our new public policy.  A few highlights to give you the main points:

Earlier this month Christopher Mathias at Huffington Post connected the Walter Scott case to our new family model in: One-Eighth Of South Carolina Inmates Were Jailed Over Child Support Payments. Walter Scott Was One Of Them.

…Men caught in this system do not have basic due process rights:

Turner’s case ended up in front of the Supreme Court, which ruled in a 5-4 decision in 2011 that the right to counsel only applied to criminal cases, not to people in civil or family court proceedings.

As capricious as this all sounds, there is a method to the madness here.  These men are being imprisoned to sustain a very recent and profound social revolution.  They are being imprisoned to facilitate the destruction of traditional marriage so that a new family structure, one instead based on child support, can take the place of marriage…

The aim of our new child support based family model is to enable women to destroy their families but still receive the benefits which previously only came with marriage.  Child support (and the threats of imprisonment which sustain it) is designed to allow women to have children with men who are unfit to be husbands, and/or to eject a husband from the home.  South Carolina divorce attorney Gregory S. Forman explains that in cases where the couple is married the child support process generally can’t start until the wife ejects the husband from the home in Five Ways to Get a Spouse Out of the House:..

Forman goes on to describe the legal strategies wives most commonly use to get their husbands out of the home so the whole process can begin.  Number one on his list of legal strategies is for the wife to claim domestic abuse.  This both ejects the father from the home and converts him from (nominal) head of household to child support payer:..Not surprisingly, this process is frequently manipulated by wives in exactly the way it is designed to be used:…Note that men are guilty until proven innocent in this case, and that it is well known that wives will commonly act as aggressors in order to claim victim-hood.

Fortunately, a minority of priests are determined to hold the line that remarriage=adultery.  However, we need to be clear that adultery isn’t the only thing wrong with divorce.  Otherwise, priests will think they’re holding the line if they tell a woman it’s okay to abandon her husband, kick him out of the house, and steal his money and kids, just so long as she doesn’t also cheat on him.

Actually, they’re already doing this.  From Father Z:

From a reader…

A local, newly Ordained, Priest has told my wife that it is NOT a sin to divorce me so long as she does not remarry. I believe that it is a sin to divorce since there is no abuse, physical or emotional, no addictions on my end, etc… Should I confront this priest or is he correct?

Just to show you how deep the rot goes, here’s Father Z’s response:

Instead of “confronting” the priest, who allegedly told your wife that it’s not sinful to divorce, perhaps the best thing to do would be to seek out some spiritual guidance for yourself. Seek some objective feedback about your situation.  Pray for your wife!  Pray for your whole family if you have children.  Ask the intervention of the Holy Family. Trust the Lord.

That’s right, don’t confront the son of a bitch who’s trying to destroy your family.  Just pray and maybe find a priest who can tell you why it is you deserve it.

Mark my words.  God is just.  Priests who encourage divorce will burn in hell.

My thoughts on guys who pretend to be women

I’ve been trying not to have any.  It’s not that the topic is unusually unpleasant.  I just have this feeling that the moment my opinion of transsexualism changes from instinctive revulsion to a reasoned conclusion, something in my soul will be lost.  There are some things you’re supposed to know without having to think about them.

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Statistics professor: no evidence for benefits from diversity

What would I do without Steve Sailer finding stuff like this for me?

Although we appreciate several things about the Duarte et al. essay, “Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science,” including its insistence that social scientists should work to minimize the impact of their political views on their research and its sensitivity to political threats to social science funding, we find their central argument unpersuasive. Contrary to the assertion of the authors, we have seen no evidence that social science fields with more politically diverse workforces have higher evidentiary standards, are better able to avoid replication failures, or generally produce better research…The authors are thus calling for major changes in policy and practice based on sheer speculation. The authors cite some evidence of the benefits of “viewpoint diversity” in collaboration, but there is a scale mismatch between these studies (of small groups) and the field-level generalizations the authors make.

Remarkable.  Intellectual diversity directly related to the field of study would seem to be the case where one would have the strongest expectation of a diversity payoff.  The case is much easier to make that various social commitments will keep social scientists honest than that female or black engineers provide mysteriously new perspectives.  And yet they claim no measurable effect.  I salute the authors’ humility in refraining from stepping beyond the data of their specific case to the vast society-wide implications of this result.

Time to split up the sciences

The scientific community is, by and large, angered by proposed reorganizations of funding agencies in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015.  Not sharing my community’s knee-jerk hostility toward Republican initiatives, my opinions of Representative Smith’s changes are mixed.  Some of the proposals are truly unfortunate.  Forbidding the government from using its own research findings is bizarre.  I have no strong opinion on the push to reduce applied research funding and the claim that this is something the private sector can do well enough.  Only one of the changes has clear culture war resonance–restrictions on NSF’s ability to fund social sciences and geosciences.  That’s what I want to talk about.  Cutting off the social sciences would be such a boon for funding and public relations–not to mention the integrity of science as a whole–that I’m stunned the natural scientists are so against it.

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