More proof that Buddhism is of the Enemy

It caused the Enlightenment.  Okay, the author doesn’t prove this, but the fact that Buddhist thought could have sparked such a noxious movement in the West if (the unknown historical contingency) it had been known tells you all you need to know.  The article itself is mix of two stories, one boring and one interesting.  The boring one is about the author’s midlife crisis.  Probably the Atlantic thinks their readers like that sort of thing, and they pressured Professor Gopnik into adding the personal stuff.  She doesn’t really strike me as the mopey, self-doubting type.  She makes sure to sneak in enough information that we’ll know how awesome she really is; note that she makes sure to drop in a hint about the size of one of her grants!  The interesting story is about Jesuit missionaries in the Far East, some more cases of ambitious Jesuits who got the idea to travel across the world, learn the culture, beat the local sages at their own game, and win whole peoples for Christ.  Little seems to have ever come of these stunts, but they are impressive and fun to read about.

Let’s remember why Humeism/Buddhism is so incompatible with Christendom:

In his Treatise, Hume rejected the traditional religious and philosophical accounts of human nature. Instead, he took Newton as a model and announced a new science of the mind, based on observation and experiment. That new science led him to radical new conclusions. He argued that there was no soul, no coherent self, no “I.”…

In fact, if you let yourself think this way, your life might actually get better. Give up the prospect of life after death, and you will finally really appreciate life before it. Give up metaphysics, and you can concentrate on physics. Give up the idea of your precious, unique, irreplaceable self, and you might actually be more sympathetic to other people.

However, if my self is an illusion, then other selves are illusions too.  All that’s left is pleasure and pain without coherent subjects.  I can have compassion (sympathy), which concerns itself with pain, but not love, which concerns itself with persons.  Thus the West is led to utilitarianism.  Ironically, while Buddha promised his original followers that his teachings would deliver them from slavery to their desires, the Enlightenment has made human desires absolute master by making happiness and freedom primary.  There is also the change of scope, on which the Enlightenment has always prided itself.  Love is particular; abstract concern with pain is universal.  Replacing charity with compassion as the main social virtue was the great work of the Enlightenment, and it amounted to the creation of a new civilization.  The Christian empire of charity build on a metaphysics of substance was replaced by the Enlightenment empire of sympathy built on a rejection of metaphysics.

The problem of egalitarian superiority

The secret to egalitarianism’s success is that the superior people have been converted to egalitarianism.  They can’t straight-up admit this, of course, since the content of their creed is that there are no superior people, or at least that it has little connection to social power.  On the other hand, they don’t try very hard to deny something so gratifying to their egos.  Officially, IQ doesn’t measure anything, but they make sure you know that theirs are higher than the conservatives’.  Marriage is officially oppressive, but they like to remind us that they beat us on avoiding divorce and unwed pregnancy.  These claims are all more-or-less true.  Liberals dominate every profession because they are by-and-large superior.

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Solidarity in sodomy

From Steve Sailer:

One of the precipitating events of the Taliban’s rise to power in the mid-1990s was a small civil war between two non-Taliban warlords over a young boy they both fancied. A Taliban squad rescued the boy, which helped their reputation.

When the Taliban came to power, they implemented reforms to prevent this sort of thing, much to the amusement of Andrew Sullivan, who chortled in 2001:

THE TALIBAN’S DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL: All the rest of NATO may have given up on policing their militaries for homosexuals, but the United States can rest easy knowing that one military that still supports U.S. policy is the Taliban. Any consorting with beardless young men in the army is strictly forbidden. This story from the Daily Telegraph tells of a weird and fastidious obsession.

Uh, Andrew? Please tell us you didn’t realize that “consorting with beardless young men in the army” is a euphemism for an old Afghan custom. James Michener’s informative 1963 novel Caravans refers to it frequently, such as in a description of the butch-femme warrior couples Michener frequently saw. Call me “weird and fastidious,” but on this one issue, I’ve got to come down on the same side as the Taliban against the alliance of Andy Sullivan and the armed pederast warlords.

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Academic psychology: from Left-leaning to Left-monoculture

From Haidt et al’s review paper on the lack of political diversity in social psychology:


What the hell happened in 2000?

African bishops better than Western bishops even on immigration!

Somewhat surprising quotes from Rorate Caeli:

A few days ago, the African Bishops launched an appeal to the youth of their countries: “Do not let yourselves be deceived by the illusion of leaving your Countries in search of non-existent employment in Europe and America”.
These are the clear words used by Bishop Nicolas Djomo, President of the Episcopal Conference of the Congo, in his inauguration speech at the Pan-African meeting for Catholics.
Mons. Djomo opened the forum by inviting young Africans “to be wary of the deceptions of the new forms that lead to the destruction of the culture of life and moral, spiritual values”, since the cultural and spiritual identity of a people is a treasure and only nihilistic globalism can think that men and peoples are commodities that can be uprooted and transplanted wherever.
Then Djomo exhorted the young Africans not to look for illusory short-cuts to prosperity by fleeing their own country:
“Use your talents and other resources at your disposition to renew and transform our continent and for the promotion of justice, peace and lasting reconcilement in Africa. You are the treasure of Africa. The Church is counting on you, your continent needs you”.
This is what is always missing in Bergoglio’s interventions. He has never said that immigration is an economic and spiritual impoverishment for African societies. Neither has he exhorted African youth not to immigrate and engage in the development of their own Countries. On the contrary.
He describes Europe as a Land of Plenty to the Third World, an opulent and satiated Wonderland, where there is prosperity for everyone. On the other hand, we apparently are the selfish ones, so he accuses us of denying prosperity to millions of hungry Africans who want to come here (we are even apparently guilty of their shipwreck at sea – whereas the truth is, we have always saved them).

The historical trip Pope Bergoglio made to Lampedusa in October of 2013, launched this disastrous message, which in fact, sounded like an order to pull down the frontiers in Italy and Europe (but not in the Vatican) and an implicit invitation for thousands of Africans to leave their countries.

Must we surrender the professions to evil?

Lydia McGrew on what’s at stake as Christians (and other natural law believers) are purged from one profession after another:

There is a second way in which the condemnation of Kim Davis, the smirking or pompous insistence that she must “do her job or resign,” is nominalist, and that concerns the nature of jobs. Is there nothing like at least a quasi-essence of being a doctor, a policeman, or even a county clerk? Let’s go back to the [hypothetical] example of the 11-month-old declared by a court to be a non-person. What does it mean to be a policeman? All the more so if you signed up to be a policeman before this court order came down, the nature of the job as both you and society understood it involved protecting babies from being thrown off of bridges by their parents, not facilitating the baby-throwing. So if the police force decides to ignore the court’s evil and insane redefinition of the child as a non-person and stop the baby-thrower, those police are not only doing the right thing but also, to coin a word, the policeman-y thing. Suppose that SCOTUS declares it to be a violation of 14th amendment rights to refuse to let registered sex offenders adopt. (I owe this example to David Bradshaw.) If an adoption officer nonetheless refuses to issue adoption papers to a registered sex offender, he’sdoing his job. It’s utterly backwards to say that he’s not doing his job. His job includes protecting children and seeking their best interests, not turning them over to sex offenders. If a doctor refuses to refer someone for an abortion or refuses to administer a lethal injection, he’s being a real doctor. Will the people who condemn Kim Davis say the same about doctors in Australia who refuse to be complicit in abortion? Because now being complicit in abortion “is their job”? The medical association of Canada appears poised to require all doctors there to administer lethal injections for suicide or refer to those who will. Will that then become “part of their job”? Whence comes this idea that there is nothing that it means to fill a particular role in society? And how far could this be taken? If one fine year the Canadian Medical Association (or the American Medical Association) requires all doctors, as a condition of licensing, to have sex with their patients as therapy, will that also become part of the job? To torture some patients at the behest of others who are deemed to own them? To run about naked in the streets as a symbol of something or other? Can absolutely anything be made “part of the job”–part of any job, anywhere, any time?

One might think that the position of county clerk is not a good candidate for a job with an essence. But, given that it involves certifying civil marriages, which do have an essence, the possibility arises that the job of county clerk itself is more than just a sheer creature of positive law.

Since most of these jobs, when society was functioning better, were not defined in such a horrible way but were understood to be jobs one could take pride in, jobs that a good person could fill with a good conscience, it is therefore an honorable act, an attempt to hold back the collapse of human civilization, to continue to fulfill those roles in their honorable senses rather than either quit or be complicit in grave evil. It remains a prudential question whether that is the best course to take for any particular person in any particular situations. One can imagine situations where one might be able to spend one’s energy better in some other way. But to say that one must always resign when one has conscientious objections to the newly declared “duties” of one’s job is to say that we have togive up all of the important roles in society to people who are willing to do evil. I see no such principle anywhere–not in Scripture, not in tradition, not in reason.

Did the pope just slyly criticize the Kasperites?

while disguising it as an attack on the pre-Vatican II Church.  When you think of a divorce between theology and pastoral ministry, whose proposals come to mind? (H/T Mundabor, who doesn’t share my interpretation)

One of Vatican II’s main contributions was trying “to overcome this divorce between theology and pastoral ministry, between faith and life.” Often the two had been set against each other in “a false opposition” as two “separate realities”, he said.

“We not infrequently identify the doctrinal with the conservative and the backward, and, on the contrary, we think of pastoral ministry as adaptation, rolling back, accommodation – as if they had nothing to do with each other.”

This also creates a false conflict between those who are pastors “on the side of the people” and academics “on the side of doctrine”.

Yet the early Christian writers and theologians were also great pastors, he said…

The Pope said that any attempt to limit or cut off the relationship and communication between “received tradition and concrete reality puts the faith of the people of God in danger”.

Couldn’t have said it better myself, your Holiness.

Kim Davis disproves liberal theory

I can certainly understand liberals’ point when they say that civil servants must execute the laws, that anyone who can’t do so with a clean conscience should resign, that the law cannot accommodate all consciences and that the operation of the state mustn’t be held hostage to any such impossible attempt.  Sometimes there are disagreements about questions of morality and justice, and the state has no choice but to choose.

To the liberals I say again, I don’t blame you for enforcing a choice.  I never said that a government can be neutral toward different comprehensive theories of the Good, such that people of many opinions can, so long as they forswear violence and coercion, all participate together in public life under such a neutral framework.  You did.

You may recall that this was the basis of liberalism’s claimed right to rule over the rest of us.

Ironies of democratic alienation

The range of mainstream opinion has never been narrower–just consider the wild diversity of ideas getting major attention one hundred years ago.  The Overton window hasn’t just shifted Left; it has narrowed.  Even the Left used to be more daring.  One would think people would be gratified to see their ideology established, but in fact writers still insist on posing as radicals.  Who would agree to the statement “I support the ideological status quo”?

Ages of ideological consensus tend to be ones where people focus on “corruption”.  After all, what else is left for the parties to argue about than who will be more conscientious?  (One wonders, was the Church really more corrupt in the Renaissance than in the fourth century, or was it just that there were no more Arians to worry about?)  Yet today’s rhetoric is not one aimed at personal corruption, but at a society organized around evil principles.

Billionaires, newspaper editorialists, and tenured professors agree that they are daring rebels, just like President Obama.  And they’ll happily expose to ostracism and unemployment anyone they catch defending the racist, sexist power structure.

Believing in conspiracy theories like the Elders of Zion is the mark of a personal nut.  And yet, believing in a hidden system that controls government, business, and media is our age’s great mark of sophistication.  The conspiracy must not be conscious; it must be an emergent phenomenon.  Neoreactionaries have given us the word “Cathedral”, but commentators on the Left believe in the nefarious system no less strongly:  the capitalist, globalist world order, the patriarchy, etc.

Government, business, academia, mass media–they work together so seamlessly.  They’re in cahoots!  Who can doubt it?  That such ideologically different observers experience the same horror is interesting, though.  Isn’t it a good thing for the different parts of society to cooperate?

All laws are bent to this cooperation in a most marvelous way.  Freedom of association was originally designed specifically to keep civil society independent of the state.  It doesn’t extend to discrimination against protected classes, and to avoid discriminating against protected classes one must have a welcoming work environment, which means dissidents like “racists” must be fired or re-educated.  Yet the racist cannot complain that his employer is penalizing him for violating the state’s dogmas; by freedom of association, the employer can fire, demote, or re-educate whomever he wants.  The state has, as it were, released the heretic to the private arm for punishment, and the private arm is happy to punish heretics.  Notice as well how neither party needs feel responsible for the racist’s persecution, although they both relish it.

The point of democracy was to remove the alienation of authority.  No more separation of ruler and subject.  The polis belongs to everybody, and everybody is responsible for it.  There’s no one to point to and say “He’s in charge.  He’s responsible.”  Today, this promise of democracy is fulfilled to an even greater degree through bureaucracy.  We are ruled by rules, and no one in particular is responsible for these rules.  This obviously hasn’t worked for curing alienation.

Authority is visible power, responsible power (in the sense that there is a clear person in charge who is to blame), the agency of the state made manifest, made one will among many.  Eliminate authority, and power must remain, but it must be invisible, which means it must be irresponsible.

The power behind the throne always sounds like a sinister thing.  There’s no reason it must be exercised in a sinister way, but the subjects of a hidden power will not feel respected.

The alienation democracy came to abolish was the distinction between ruler and subject.  Modern man is alienated by his failure to be commanded.  What he really finds wicked are not his orders, but how he is controlled by incentives rather than addressed as a full moral subject.

After 9/11, President Bush encouraged people to go shopping, and some were angry about it for years afterward.  Most people do believe that shopping helps the economy, but they wanted to have sacrifices demanded of them.

Focus on the fashionable

It’s not just a Catholic pious BS thing.  The Evangelicals are also guilty.  As Mark Tooley writes (h/t P. Blosser)

In recent years there’s been much understandable and laudable Evangelical conversation about expanding Christianity’s reach to attract diverse demographics through creative branding, especially but not exclusively Millennials.

These exertions have led to rhetorical, liturgical and sometimes theological innovations whose goals are greater persuasive power with the unchurched and unevangelized. Sometimes the tweaking is primarily about packaging, like the preacher shedding his shirt and tie for skinny jeans and t-shirts. Sometimes and more problematically it is about the substance of the Gospel, particularly sexual ethics but also about the exclusivity of Christ, the full authority of Scripture, and emphases on Christian social justice.

This ongoing conversation disproportionately focuses on reaching a particular kind of fairly narrow demographic: typically very educated, overwhelmingly Caucasian, white-collar, socially liberal, urban-minded and upwardly mobile young people. Not in-coincidentally, this well-heeled and fashionable social subset is also a preoccupation for secular commercial advertising. It’s an important group, as its members wield or will wield influence over our culture for decades to come, influencing millions. But does this demographic merit preoccupation to the near exclusion of others in Evangelicalism’s public conversation?

There are other major, often unreached for the Gospel demographics that are maybe not as prestigious but no less spiritually important and in some cases far more numerous…