Keeping the Riff-Raff Out by Keeping Churches Out

New concept?  Hardly, New York City allowed it in the late 1940’s:

Many objected to the rich subsidies offered Metropolitan Life, then the largest private corporation in the nation, as well as the firm’s refusal to rent to minorities. Others criticized the complex’s design and layout. Metropolitan Life wouldn’t allow schools, churches, libraries, or other public facilities within the project’s boundaries out of concern that they might attract undesirable elements. Urbanist Lewis Mumford discerned “the architecture of the Police State” in Stuyvesant Town’s dozens of featureless redbrick buildings, arrayed in rows across 80 acres.

Today Christian churches, and especially Evangelical ones, do two things: tout the social values of church and the ethic that goes with it, and contend that, until recent times, everyone else acknowledged it.  The former is certainly so, but the latter has never been a given, and certainly was not in the last century.  Obviously MetLife was more worried about keeping the riff-raff out than edifying the (presumably all-white) residents.

As a Palm Beacher, however, such problems have a solution.  Had MetLife had the likes of Bethesda’s vestry at the time, they certainly could have found a way to have a church within the complex and keep the riff-raff out.  Whether the church would have had much of a Biblical basis is another problem altogether; the vestry showed its ability to mishandle the Word when the situation called for it.

Sigh…

What Anglicans Should Call Their Gatherings

One thing I have discovered in being both a follower and a participant of the church world is that there are many meetings.  This isn’t to say that the church world has a corner on meetings (yes, I’m aware of Hebrews 10:25) but I’m specifically thinking on those gatherings beyond the parish setting.  I’m coming to realise that a) there are many ways to name such meetings and b) most of them really don’t work for the Anglican/Episcopal world.  So let’s get started.

In this country the Episcopal Church has its General Convention. We have our nifty system of numbering this too, thus the last one in 2012 was “GC 77” (the seventy-seventh time this event has taken place). The last one sorely tested the ability of the orthodox to observe Our Lord’s injunction to Peter:

Then Peter came up, and said to Jesus: “Master, how often am I to forgive my Brother when he wrongs me? As many as seven times?” But Jesus answered: “Not seven times, but ‘seventy times seven.’  (Matthew 18:21-22)

A more fundamental problem with the term “convention” is that it comes from the Latin “to come together”.  The blunt truth is that Anglicans haven’t come together on much of anything in a long time; attempting to paper this over with the designation “convention” hasn’t helped.

One serious question is whether the Episcopalians need to even hold such a gathering, what with the Presiding Bishop’s autocratic method.  Why bother to call for a vote when you have the show in your back pocket, especially since you’ve inhibited, deposed and excommunicated your opposition?  (My late father-in-law, badly wounded at Normandy, referred to the last as “dismembered”, and that’s pretty much what she’s done).

Thinking about the Presiding Bishop and the egg she recently laid in the West Indies about the evils of Paul casting out demons leads to an alternative: the pandemonium.  We normally don’t consider this a meeting, but the word means “all the demons” or the general assembly of Satan’s minions.  (Fans of Gounoud’s Faust will recognise this).  The original pandemonium took place on or around 1 May, but the trade union she recently broke at 815 might have a different opinion of the date.  (That leads to another question: are demons organised?  When things go well, could it be because they’re taking an industrial action?)

Across the pond we have the Synod, that venerable body of the Church of England now under attack by another gathering, namely Parliament.  (I tried to warn you…)  For some reason, “synod” has always struck me as an odd term for gatherings of anyone outside of the Orthodox.  (Yes, I’m aware of the Synod of Dort/Dork, but…)  More seriously, however, the word “synod” has the same root as the word Sanhedrin (yes, that venerable Jewish word has Greek origins) so I’m not sure whether we want our gatherings to be seen in that light or not.

Bringing the Brits into the discussion brings back memories of the time when Rowan Williams was Archbishop of Canterbury, and of his introduction of the “indaba” at Lambeth 2008.  Probably no attempt at designating Anglican gatherings has fallen flatter.  It represents Williams’ attempt to bring in an African concept to a Western spirituality, but had one major snag: most of the Africans in the Anglican Communion didn’t send representation because of decidedly “Western” concepts of doctrinal and moral orthodoxy, which the Africans had a better grasp of than Williams.

On a more personal note, the idea of the Africans preferring meetings as “indaba” strikes me as odd.  As I’ve said before, most of the Civil Engineering faculty where I teach is African, and our Kenyan department head isn’t much about having meetings of any kind.  Yes, Africans hold a very high value on being a team player, but our leader is aware of the fact that the state isn’t paying us to meet but to teach and do research.

It was in that backdrop that we were called to a rare faculty meeting last year.  It was during a time when our institution was being harassed by a rash of bomb threats, which continued until the Feds were called in and the threat of punishment had teeth.  We had just started our meeting when the fire alarm went off.  We began to rouse ourselves when we saw real smoke in the hallway, which added a lilt to our steps.  (It turned out to be a toilet paper fire set in the stairwell).

But our department head, having thought it important enough to have the meeting, wasn’t going to have such an interruption end it.  So we, with our administrative assistant taking minutes, reconvened in the parking lot, where we completed our business around the trunk of our superior’s car.

That commitment to action would transform much of what we do in the church world, and not just with meetings.  The current occupant of the See of Canterbury would do well to emulate that and to do so in an effective Christian way, otherwise a car park will be more than enough for the next Lambeth gathering.

The proliferation of Anglican bodies has produced a similar proliferation of meeting designations.  PEAR had a “sacred assembly” which strikes an Old Testament note of repentance (and we all know that someone needs to repent in this fiasco).  We’ve also had the usual conferences, summits, and the like.  But none of these has a distinctively Anglican flavour.

However, there is one term, IMHO, that captures the Anglican way (at least as it’s been practised up until now): the symposium.

The word “symposium” means to drink together. I wasn’t aware of this until I attended, of all things, a seminar on hydraulic systems (like you see in cranes, excavators and the brake system in your car).  The presenter, a leading expert in the field, explained the meaning of the word and illustrated it by imitating Archimedes, three sheets to the wind and staggering, raising his cup and proclaiming, “Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth!”  (Hydraulic systems often use a fulcrum principle to do their work, the topic wasn’t incidental).

Especially in North America, Episcopal churches have long been known for their penchant for the hard stuff.  Particularly in the South, one of the Episcopal Church’s appeals was that it was not only the Church Where You Could Drink, but the Church Where You Should Drink, as opposed to the Churches Where You Couldn’t Drink.  (My analysis of this situation, albeit controversial, is here).  I have no doubt that this helped people to convert, but has anyone given any thought to the quality of the converts on this basis?

Once in, no one was under any illusions about the situation.  My second year Latin teacher, a fine Episcopal minister named Raymond O’Brien, was the first to tell me what I already know: that when four Wiskeypalians get together, you always have a fifth.  Not even the Knights of Columbus can rival the spiritual sons and daughters of Albion in this regard.

So Episcopalians and Anglicans can call their gatherings symposiums and be confident that there’s at least one thing they can agree on.  But be careful: as my old Russian representative told me a long time ago, in Russia there is a saying: “Without vodka, there is no agreement”.  He paused for a second and then added, “And that’s why there are some really stupid agreements”.

Which may, in fact, explain why some of the stuff in the Anglican Communion is enough to drive anyone to drink.

A Long Way From “A Pig a Rig”

That’s an understatement, as China’s Shuanghui acquires Smithfield Foods:

Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd., China’s biggest pork producer, agreed to acquire Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD) for about $4.72 billion to boost supplies for the nation that’s the biggest consumer of the meat.

Closely held Shuanghui, parent of Henan Shuanghui Investment & Development Co. (000895), will pay $34 a share for the Smithfield, Virginia-based producer, both companies said today in a statement. The offer is 31 percent more than yesterday’s closing share price.

When I was doing business in China in the early 1980’s, one of the many things I discovered about the place was that the drilling rigs in the BoHai (the sea east of Beijing) were also places where the Chinese raised pigs.  One American associate quipped that the Chinese had “a pig a rig”.  Not to be outdone, when I visited the Soviet Union later in the decade I was taken to a scientific and engineering research institute where they too raised pigs on the side.

Except in Jewish and Muslim places, pork has been a staple meat for millennia, because pigs are efficient (if not particularly graceful) converters of what they eat into what they become ,i.e. meat.  Both the Russian and Chinese revolutions took places in largely rural countries where people thought nothing about resuming their food raising wherever they were at, and that included drilling rigs (and I presume production platforms were not immune to this) and research institutes.  Marxist-Leninist economies were (and are in the case of places like North Korea and Cuba) notoriously poor distributors of goods and services, really by design, so economic activity on the side is a must in places like this.

This move shows how far the Chinese have come in a short period (in their terms).  Let’s hope that their commitment to quality (something they surely expected from us in the day) is commensurate with their business acumen.

Les Reflets: Villanelle/Pour emmanuel, and Et Ils Suivirent Jésus

Les Reflets was one of the premier Christian folk groups out there during the Jesus Music era, period, as they demonstrated in De l’abondance du coeur, la bouche parle.  Here are a couple of more albums (?).

Villanelle/Pour emmanuel (J 410 502)

Not really an album, but they “speed things up” by issuing a 45 rpm single release.  The songs:

  • Villanelle
  • Pour emmanuel

Et Ils Suivirent Jésus (Jef 7ye part 69400314) 196?

The songs:

  • L’homme de nazareth
  • Le temps etait court
  • Avis de recherche
  • Hermon 70

Dealing With What We Can: What the I-5 Collapse Reminds Us Of

We’ve had another bridge collapse, this time on the I-5 in Washington State.  So we can, for the moment, get away from debating natural disasters and discuss something we just might be able to do something about: fix our deteriorating transportation infrastructure.

I’ll repeat what I said about this six years ago, after the I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota:

The American Society of Civil Engineers routinely puts out its Infrastructure Report Card on the state of the “physical plant” that allows this country to physically function.  The grade is inevitably low.  Since so much depends on the state of the infrastructure, and considering the fact that virtually everyone comes in contact with it on a daily basis, the serious question is, “why has this been permitted?”  In the case of roads, the U.S. has not made a broad-based, major investment in the system since the completion of the Interstate system.

There are two interrelated reasons for this.

The first is that most of the budget of state and federal governments is committed to entitlements of one kind or another, i.e., direct payments or transfer of wealth.  This leaves little for what is referred to as “discretionary” spending, and transportation generally falls into that category.  Events such as this cast aspersions on the concept of transportation spending as discretionary, but that’s the way it’s done.

The second is that transportation, like education, is an investment in the future.  And it’s easier for people to send resources into the future if they’re sending children there.  But, with a declining birthrate, people are less likely to want to commit resources–to say nothing of the NIMBY reaction–to something they have no personal interest in.  It’s no accident that the development of the Interstate system corresponded with the Baby Boom, and its completion with the end of that boom.  Now it’s simply easier to transfer money for immediate use (entitlements) than to go through the long term pain of infrastructure development.

But the general productivity of our economic system depends upon its transportation system.  This is one place where public works can actually have a private return on the investment.  If the U.S. wants to remain the pre-eminent country on the planet, it can’t just rely on dollar hegemony to get the job done.  A crumbling transportation infrastructure will in the long run become a drag on the nation’s ability to compete, which in turn will affect the quality of life that Americans are obsessed with.

The big difference between then and now is that Americans have become more resigned to a lower economic state.  The birth rate has also dropped since that time.

All of the whining we have these days about “acts of God” such as tornadoes and other natural disasters must be considered in the context of a people who don’t care enough to invest and prevent disasters that they actually could minimise.

Jumping the Gun with Rachel Held Evans

Her rage against “abusive theology” is palpable:

I can abide differences when it comes to theology related to gender, the atonement, biblical interpretation, science, evolution, predestination and free will. Let’s debate those issues vigorously, but with grace and truth and love. But I cannot abide this theology that turns God into an abuser. I cannot abide this theology that makes God out to be a monster whose destruction is done in the name of “love.”

Stand Firm has come back at this in their own way.  But I think there’s an easier way to deal with this.

Piper’s citation of Job 1:19 is entirely proper.  People in Oklahoma, like their counterparts at the beginning of Job, were just going about the going about when disaster struck.  And Evans is partly correct to say that “…the story of Job stands as an ancient indictment on those who would respond to tragedy by blaming the victim”.  My guess is that Piper is aware of that, which is why he used the verse he did and not another.  But that didn’t stop Evans from “jumping the gun” and using one tweet as a platform off of which to dive into a pool of rage.

The truth is that both Evans and her Evangelical opponents are working from one shared assumption: that we have a performance-based God whose purpose is to either a) fulfil our every wish or b) punish us for every fault.  Both implicitly assume that people are the measure, and neither really represents reality.  They represent responses to Evangelical Christianity’s current “selling point”, i.e., that if you get on God’s side you’ll have a life of bliss.  One emphasises the downside of not being on his side (and I’ll admit that too many Evangelicals are big on that) and the other attempts to apply post-modern “I deserve the best” mentality to a universe where such an assumption has no basis.

Such dialectics are, for me, a reminder of how blessed I was that my chief intellectual formation as a Christian was as a Roman Catholic and not a Protestant, let alone an Evangelical.  It has saved me a great deal of grief and probably apostacy.  So let me lay out what I think is the reality we have.

For all of its wonder, this world and universe is fallen and not God’s ideal for us.  That ideal will be found in eternity with him.  Before that happens we’ll have problems.  Sometimes these problems are big, sometimes these problems are small.  Sometimes these problems are the result of being in the path of unintended disaster, some are really of our own making.  (The global warming fanatics, for their part, can point to Oklahoma as a high-carbon consuming place because of its low-density settlement, large vehicles and ubiquitous air-conditioning, so there, you can make a liberal case against Evans).  But in either case the key is to secure our eternity so that we can deal with the problems that come our way in this life.

But ultimately that redemption, like everything else we get from God, is undeserved.  We don’t have the intrinsic worth to expect otherwise; God’s act of redemption was an act of undeserved love.  Coming from a congenial region, Evans may think this is harsh.  But as I’ve said before (and there are exceptions to this) growing up in a place like South Florida convinced me that, if there is a “default” in eternity, it isn’t heaven.

To think otherwise is, IMHO, to take on an entitlement mentality about God, which for many of us extends to the people and institutions around us.  Personally I can’t stomach that; entitlement mentalities not only go against my grain as a Christian, but they also really rub me the wrong way from my secular upbringing (and, yes, Rachel Held Evans, some of us really do have a secular background).  I would say that my walk with God has softened my attitude towards the world around me, which would otherwise be misanthropic and condescending (and I struggle with both).

The hard truth of the matter is that the blessings we have are undeserved and the adversities we get are deserved.  Neither Evans’ dread fear of “abusive theology” nor the obsessive scorekeeping of others will change that.  Our job is to respond to what happens and make things better.

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man who had been blind from his birth.  “Rabbi”, asked his disciples, “who was it that sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither the man nor the parents”, replied Jesus; “but he was born blind that the work of God should be made plain in him.  We must do the work of him who sent me, while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work”. (John 9:1-4)

The Victorians Were Really Smarter After All

Saint-Venant-TorsionI was pleasantly surprised to read in phys.org that some researchers are coming to the conclusion that Victorian era people were more intelligent than those of us who have come after.  With all the self-congratulating blather about the Flynn curve and just reflexive over-confidence, a corrective is in order.  (It’s probably too much to ask people these days to put on a little humility about anything, but I digress…)

Right: torsional analysis of tubing, from the work of Saint-Venant.  Keep in mind that both the math and engineering behind the analysis and the graphical production were done without the aid of a computer.

I’ve spent a great deal of time–especially in the last decade or so–documenting things and people from the Victorian era and immediately beyond.  Much of this concerns my family both at work and at play, but I’ve gone further afield as well.  I’m frankly inclined to agree with this assessment.  Here are some observations:

Victorians were, on the whole, more literate.  Since almost all their books are in the public domain and many have been scanned, it doesn’t take much of a search to realise that, for us, they are hard reading.  Much of that is due to the fact that Victorians were classically educated and often conversant in Greek and Latin.  (Just try to plough through any work on the Greco-Roman world and find the endless citations in both.)  And that’s even true on both sides of the Atlantic.  The United States in the nineteenth century was a literate nation but not a literary one, but the prose is still of good quality.

It’s easy today to blame the Internet on the poor standards of reading and writing we tolerate these days, but the downhill run since World War I has been driven in this country by at least two factors: the takeover of the public school system by the teachers’ trade union, and the corrosive effects of television.

The Explosion of Science, Without Massive Funding:  My geriatric foray into my PhD program has impelled me into look into a good deal of scientific history.  Although it’s easy to forget about it now, it’s really amazing how much the sciences advanced during the nineteenth century, and that without the computational tools we have today.  This is especially true in mathematics.  For example, learning about mathematical cubic splines (essential for programs like Adobe Photoshop) in numerical analysis got me to thinking: I wonder how much use my great-grandfather got out of real cubic splines in designing the yachts and other craft he did around the turn of the last century.

The yacht Thistle, which for twenty years plied the Great Lakes.

It’s also interesting to note that much of this advance was done without the massive government funding that is de rigeur today.  That is largely a legacy of the Cold War, but we act like it’s always been done that way.

A 1905 pile driver still at work in 2008.

Victorians had a better sense of the relationship between the theoretical and the real:  That speaks more to the industrial and civil works that were put out during the era.  Our tendency to specialise in either design or manufacturing or use have deprived us of the “big picture” in the design of manufactured products, buildings and other structures.  In those times most of those associated with theoretical advancements also had deeper involvement in practical problems, which often inspired the theory.

Many analyses of Victorian engineering achievements show limited opportunity for optimisation, given the building materials and construction techniques of the time.  Now we use computer aided design to compensate for that, but that leaves a decided dip in the quality of things between then and now.

These are just a few examples–most drawn from the scientific end of things–that should give pause for thought on our own self-designated superiority.

 

Is the Left Finishing the Job? The Moment of Truth Has Come

At the end of this post I am reposting a June 2005 piece entitled “Finishing the Job:A Watergate Reflection”.  My central thesis at the time–a contrarian one then and now re Watergate–was that Nixon’s scandals were payback for his attacks on the left during the anti-communist 1950’s, and that the left, with the golden opportunity to marginalise their opponents, squandered it with Jimmy Carter and paved the way for Ronald Reagan and a quarter century of, in general, Republican success.

Well, now we know that the current regime has employed the IRS to stonewall Tea Party and other conservative groups; that it has dug into journalists’ files to intimidate them, both journalists they like (AP) and ones they don’t (Fox).  We also know that they have constructed an elaborate charade to hide their failures re the Benghazi attack, and did so for a variety of reasons: to sustain a meme that right-wing fanatics are the reason the Islāmic world hates us, to avoid a messy affair during a presidential campaign, and above all to avoid exposing the reality that we have supported and trained al-Qaeda terrorists to further our ill-thought out agenda in the Middle East, first in Libya and then in Syria.

With this and more coming forth, we have reached the moment of truth.  If these scandals cannot be dealt with in the way they deserve, then two things are true.  The first is that the left has in fact “finished the job” and controls our political life to the extent that they cannot be called to account in a meaningful way.  The second–and this is not well understood by many who are not products of this system–is that this country is no longer the United States of America but the artificial legal construct of an élite whose chief aim is its own perpetuation.  That latter point would be the end of any pretense of American exceptionalism, and would also make a cruel farce out of any attempt on our part to export democratic process anywhere else on the planet.

The key to bringing accountability to pass in our polarised society is for enough people on the left to understand that, if this regime can pull off what they have, then some of them will be next.  Or let me put it into three words: remember Leon Trotsky.  The reason Nixon resigned is because his own party in the Senate was ready to vote him out.  Will our counterparts on the other side see their way clear to do the same?  That’s the key question.

It’s not an easy thing to oppose this kind of power expansion, and it’s something most Americans aren’t used to.  And it’s hard to get anything done with an electorate which basically doesn’t know right from wrong and what works from what doesn’t.  And finally, for Christians at least, failure is not the end; as I observed last fall during the campaign, we only have one true country.

The moment of truth has come for these United States.  As Lenin asked his own people, what is to be done?  That’s the question that’s in front of us too.

Finishing the Job: A Watergate Reflection

Originally posted 2 June 2005.

Now that Mark Felt has been revealed as “Deep Throat,” it’s a good time to take a look at what Watergate really was and what it means for us today.

Watergate was the scandal par excellence for the last part of the twentieth century in the U.S. As I mention elsewhere, it was a defining moment for me and many of my contemporaries. I spent the summer after graduating from prep school listening to the Senate’s select committee grilling the likes of Bob Haldeman and John Erlichmann while I was drafting commercially for the first time at our family business’ Florida plant. At the time, a relatively new NPR chose to fill breaks in the testimony with excerpts from the McCarthy-Army hearings. This was suitable, became the immediate genesis of Watergate and Nixon himself as a politician dates from the 1950’s.

The Cold War turned the communist dalliance of much of America’s élite class into a serious liability, leading to ostracism, prison (Alger Hiss) and death (the Rosenbergs.) Nixon was a central anti-communist protagonist; this infuriated the left, which has hated him ever since. Even though he had timed the withdrawal from Vietnam, the left still relished the thought of getting him permanently. The feeling was mutual; he had his “enemies list” drawn up and the “dirty tricks” to take care of them. The wiretapping of the DNC was only a small part of that. Had Nixon succeeded in trashing his enemies, it would have dealt a serious blow to the radical left in the U.S.; it may have made the right the enduring power holders in the U.S., although Nixon’s conservatism left a great deal to be desired, especially on the domestic front. It would have at least spared us a quarter century of domination by the “mainstream media.”

Watergate destroyed all that. The damage to conservatism and to the Republican party cannot be overstated; it looked like the fatal blow to many of us. There were some on the left who saw the full potential of the situation. One of those was Bernard Nussbaum, counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, which oversaw the initial stages of Nixon’s impeachment. He and his staff, which included Hillary Rodham (later Clinton,) drew up rules of procedure that not only crippled proper due process for the accused, but essentially lifted the task of impeachment from the Committee itself! The impeachment of course went through, but Nixon resigned before the Senate could finish that job, depriving the left of another several months or so of Nixon and Republican bashing in the press.

As for “finishing the job” and completing their dominance of American life and politics, the left squandered the aftermath of Watergate with complacency, overconfidence and ineffectual leadership, mainly that of Jimmy Carter. (Had Ted Kennedy not driven his woman into the drink off of Martha’s Vineyard, that might have changed too.) Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 stopped whatever momentum the left had remaining to make their rule permanent until the 1990’s.

The right has had its chances to “finish the job:” probably the best was after 9/11, when George Bush had the golden opportunity to use a national crisis to put away a wide variety of enemies. But George Bush, along with Reagan himself, had too high of a view of the rule of law to do this.

The left’s best chance was just after Clinton’s election in 1992, a choice due to the combination of the power of the media and the lackluster performance of the elder Bush. With a majority in both houses, the Clintons stood to nationalise health care and many other things, but once again overconfidence and sheer political bungling sqandered yet another chance to make their dominance permanent. This led to the triumph of the Republicans in 1994 and a Democrat president going along with such conservative causes as welfare reform and the Defence of Marriage Act.

Today our media whines about how partisan things are in Washington. But American politics have been polarised since the late 1960’s. Things have only gotten worse since the boomers took charge, with their penchant for control and idealism uninstructed by reality. It was my conclusion in the wake of Watergate that it only remained for one side or the other–and more likely the left–would take the necessary steps to “finish the job” and insure their long-term control of the Republic. That conclusion hasn’t changed; the most likely candidate to try this is Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was as the centre of the first attempt so long ago. Her ideological formation is to use the law and whatever other means be at her disposal to achieve her political ends. Will the right forget their respect for the law to stop her? Only time will tell.

Today we like to talk about “living on the edge.” We have been there for a long time, just closer at some points than others. Until the boomers pass and our country is led by those who understand that the beneficial exercise of power has its limits, the edge will be our home.

The Old Prohibition Against Movies Makes a Comeback

Just about anyone raised in a Pentecostal or Holiness church in the last century will recall the prohibition of going to movies.  The traditional argument against this was that, if one went to the movies and paid the admission price one was supporting the sinful Hollywood people and companies who made them.

That argument just about went by the wayside, but conservative gay blogger Kevin Dujan has brought it back with a new twist:

I don’t like giving movie studios my money, though…because I feel like when I do that I help fund the people who inflict so much damage on this country by way of hammering the Left’s talking points into impressionable Americans.  Let’s face it, the way that Democrats maintain power is by way of the Ministry of Truth that is our “news media”, the Ministry of Entertainment that is “Hollywood”, and the Ministry of Persuasion that’s comprised of all federal agencies such as the IRS that are controlled by Democrats and abuse their authority or otherwise persecute and intimidate Americans. I know that movie theaters actually don’t make any money off the ticket sales to first-run films…and instead depend on concession sales to stay in business; all ticket sales go to the movie distributors, so buying a movie ticket sends that cash to Hollywood and then gets redistributed back to the Democrat party and its Leftist masters.  I enjoy limiting the amount of cash I contribute to that revenue stream.

One friend of mine from Texas, who later went on to become a Church of God minister and state overseer, found a way to beat the system.  Raised in a rough environment, his mother was saved when he was a teenager.  She told him the usual Holiness reason why people shouldn’t go to movies.  His response? He had fixed the cash flow problem by his deft ability to sneak in without paying!

Going Around and Coming Around on Paedophilia

George Conger defends the relevance of 1960’s paedophilia advocate Daniel Cohn-Bendit in a religion blog:

What makes this a Get Religion story is the context of the European press environment. I am not defending or excusing the Catholic Church. I am however pointing out inconsistencies and double standards in media coverage.

The attack, of course, is the beliefs of one European politician don’t compare to the paedophilia epidemic in the Roman Catholic Church.  But that rebuttal won’t wash either.

To start with, it isn’t just one politician; it’s a whole movement from the era, as I observed in this 2010 post re the French.  Conger only adds grist to the mill by bringing up the German Green Party’s advocacy of man-boy love in the 1980’s.  The left has been busy burying their past on this (and other issues) since, but that doesn’t mean it never happened.

Some would like to think that stuff from so long ago is irrelevant, but it’s not.  Sexual freedom was the leitmotif of the 1960’s and 1970’s left and has remained this way ever since.  That’s why abortion is so sacramental to the left, as we were recently reminded with the media’s attempt to ignore Kermit Gosnell’s trial.  That’s why liberals are apoplectic over abstinence advocacy.

The result has been the ever-expanding sexualisation of our society.  One of the effects of this is to push down the age at which sexual awareness is recognised, a process which both cultural and biological changes have facilitated.  Leftists in the 1960’s were consistent enough to understand that across the board sexual liberation ultimately included paedophilia, but later developments shoved that, to use a phrase, back into the closet.

And that brings us to the Roman Catholic Church.  It’s entirely correct to attack the Church both on the paedophilia scandal and the way they’ve attempted to cover it up and not to weed the offenders out.  What has always bothered me is that the same left-wing people who have pushed this campaign so hard will eventually rediscover their intellectual antecedents, turn around and, once they’ve damaged the Church over this, argue for its sanction in society.

In a sense its like the business of marijuana legalisation: belief in that was the fashionable thing to do in the day, but there was a reaction.  We turned around and filled our prisons to try to stop the habit we unleashed on the world, and only now are we getting around to legalising it by fits and starts.  The biggest obstacle in this country to “finishing the job” is that the Occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, himself the leader of the “Choom Gang” in his own day, won’t let his inner pothead out.

Discounting the relevance of 1960’s and 1970’s radicalism, given the enormous effect it’s had on subsequent events and the fact that many of the players from the era are prominent in ours, is a mistake.  As Andreas Killen sagely pointed out at the end of his book 1973 Nervous Breakdown:

Yet the crises of the 1970’s are not so easily buried; indeed they have reemerged with new intensity in our own time.

Indeed they have.