Those Elusive Free Speech Rights

In wandering through some old posts, found this one from 2010, with certainly bears repeating, on free speech:

Americans have always considered their rights–especially the one of free speech–as “inalienable.” And why not: after all, it’s in our fundamental national document, isn’t it? Isn’t that why we make such a big deal of “rights?” Because they’re important and legally enforceable?

Well, in reality the extent to which rights can be defended depends upon the recourse we have when they’re violated. If we live in a country whose economic system is dispersed, our recourse is better because our ability to sustain ourselves through the process is easier. But when wealth and its disbursement is centralised, then our rights are compromised by our economic dependence.

Put in terms more people can understand, we all know we don’t formally give up our constitutional right to free speech in the workplace. But we also know that we have to be careful about what we say–especially if it regards our boss, the company, and to some extent our coworkers–because our employer sends us money every now and then for what we do, and if they’re displeased about our actions, that cash flow can stop. It’s the same with centralised health care: as long as the federal government basically holds all of the cards, they can deprive insurance companies of cash flow and thus exercise some control over what they say.

In a system of state socialism, when government controls the entire economy (in theory at least,) their control over people is nominally absolute, no matter what their constitutions say. People who spoke out could find themselves unemployable in a hurry.

That’s the extreme example, but hopefully you get the idea. The more economic centralisation we have, the more our rights will be in the subjunctive rather than the indicative, where they belong.

China’s Historic Houston Consulate Gets the Boot, Goes Up in Flames —

In the midst of the souring relationship between the two countries: Beijing vowed to retaliate after it said that the United States ordered its Houston consulate to be closed within 72 hours, calling it an “outrageous and unjustified move,” marking a serious escalation in the quickly deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and China… The announcement […]

via China’s Historic Houston Consulate Gets the Boot, Goes Up in Flames —

What the woke movement shares with communism — UnHerd

“In the summer of 1921 luck broke my way in the shape of the great Russian famine which then threatened to cost about 30,000,000 lives, and probably did cost 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 including deaths from disease.”1 For Walter Duranty, who as the Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the New York Times led the cover-up of the…

via What the woke movement shares with communism — UnHerd

The Sad Case of COVID and the Westmore Church of God

The reality of COVID 19–instead of just a dreary recitation of statistics–came home when an outbreak took place at the Westmore Church of God in Cleveland, TN.  Things haven’t gotten any better, with the passing of two of its members.  All of this led to this message from its pastor, Kelvin Page:


We are members at another Church of God in Cleveland, North Cleveland.  Westmore was formed in the late 1960’s when several members of our own church left to start it. The two churches are in many ways sister churches; members from one visit the other for special occasions, and not infrequently the two trade members.  We’ve been on road trips with their senior group, including the Billy Graham museum outside of Charlotte, NC.

The sanctuary that Westmore used for many years was nice but the property was very vertical; not only was expanding it difficult but it was a nightmare for handicapped people.  They had planned for many years to move (with commendable financial planning to go with it;) however, their move coincided with the full impact of COVID in March.  After years of work their new facility was idle.

Like most of the larger churches in the area, Westmore went in with an ongoing online outreach, which proved handy when things shut down.  Going through drive-in services through April, at the end of May they resumed in-person services while formally opening their new facilities.  It should be noted that resumption of in-person services varied among the Churches of God in the area, and that includes how things like how social distancing was handled.

Westmore had several large events in June.  We went to a couple of these, wearing masks, practicing social distancing.  The last one was an event organised by the Church of God state office (diocese, if you please) on 22 June.  Westmore had made provision for a remote room where those of us who wanted to be especially careful could go and spread out away from the sanctuary proper.  We opted for that, and were led up there by one of the young people of the church.  We got up there to find ourselves in a large room with a big screen tv to watch the service, large couch in front of it…and by ourselves.  We had the best seats in the house.

They were best all around; our diligence paid off, we avoided COVID, but many of those in the sanctuary for this and other meetings didn’t fare so well.  The disease is no respecter of persons: it got Cleveland’s mayor, many of our church’s officials (the “Vatican” for the Church of God is in Cleveland) and of course many of the members.  The fallout is ongoing and it has affected many people near and dear to us.  Our own church has shut down again, going back purely online.

It’s worth stopping and asking the question Evangelicals hate more than any other: why?  It’s hard to get to the bottom of things in a country which is having a nervous breakdown, the second in my lifetime.  But at least for the benefit of my Anglican and Catholic readers, who have supported this blog with visits, I think some kind of explanation is necessary.  There are two things going on here.

The first is the sacramental nature of Pentecostal/Charismatic worship.  I don’t know of any other word to describe it.  Catholics grieve at being barred from the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, but for Pentecostals worship in churches like Westmore is a sacramental event.  It’s the special place where God’s real presence comes and dwells.  It’s not an understatement that our ministers are obsessed with our worship, and I have long lost count of the sermons on how important worship is, how we need to come together to it, and do it properly.  “Properly” can be tricky with the music wars; advocates of two styles of music and worship are as adverse to each other as TLM and Novus Ordo types.  But coupled with the convivial nature of Pentecostal churches (certainly more so than their Anglican and Catholic counterparts) Kelvin Page’s appeal to get back together again had a powerful appeal.

The second is our “no fear” culture.  I’ve talked about the theodicy issue before and won’t belabour the point, but our culture has pushed for a long time that life should be perfect and without adversity.  The church has responded with things like prosperity teaching, we like to think of ourselves as invincible.  It’s the same mentality that drives people to crowd bars.  (Bars and churches are really both houses of worship, just to different deities.)  We’ve been conditioned to believe that it won’t happen to us.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that “it” can and will happen to us.  We’re at the beginning of a bumpy ride for our country, and for Christian churches in particular.  Beyond this present plague churches are going to have to prepare themselves for a different environment.  Many of our brothers and sisters overseas have experienced this for a long time (as this missionary to the Middle East attested) and now “it” has come for us.

If they can endure to the end, why can’t we?


J. Robert Ashcroft’s Remarkable Warning from 1957 about Secularism, Statism, and Paganism — Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

This Week in AG History — July 14, 1957 By Darrin J. Rodgers Originally published on AG News, 16 July 2020 Sixty-three years ago, J. Robert Ashcroft delivered a remarkable address that encouraged the Assemblies of God to invest in Christian higher education. Pentecostals must train the next generation of “thinkers and doers,” he surmised, […]

via J. Robert Ashcroft’s Remarkable Warning from 1957 about Secularism, Statism, and Paganism — Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

Falling to Cancel Culture in San Francisco

In this case, Gary Garrels, curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art:

Until last week, Gary Garrels was senior curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). He resigned his position after museum employees circulated a petition that accused him of racism and demanded his immediate ouster.

So why is this noted here?  Two of my favourite albums in my music offerings are those of Sister Juliana Garza.  It wasn’t easy to get information on her for a long time; one of the first places that it turned up was on the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s website.  Unfortunately I’ve lost the link to it, but it helped in reconstructing her life and the origins of her music.

Although I’m not sure Garrels had anything to do with this, it should not be held to his charge by anyone, because Sister Juliana was delightfully Hispanic.

A Catholic View of the French Revolution

From Joseph DeHarbe’s A Full Cathechism of the Catholic Religion:

Awful events, which make nature shudder, remain as yet to be related. We would fain pass them over in silence, if they were not most instructive for us. As with all human productions, so it fared with the doctrine of Luther; it became antiquated, it altered and entirely changed. Sects upon Sects arose: Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Quakers, Methodists, Moravians, etc. Each one of these Sects presumed, after the example of Luther, to reform the faith. At last impious Free-thinkers, first in England and afterwards in France, carried their presumption to the highest pitch, and contrived the infernal scheme totally to abolish Religion, and to exterminate for ever the Belief in Christ. Under the pretense of enlightening mankind, they deluged the world with writings in which they scoffed at all Holy things, grossly calumniated the Pope and the Clergy, and openly advocated the most shameful licentiousness. Their books, written in most attractive language, and sparkling with witticism and satire, found their way too readily among all classes of people, and at the same time the spirit of profligacy and impiety spread with surprising rapidity. At the same time the masses of the people were suffering from misgovernment, oppressive taxation and excessive privileges enjoyed, by the upper classes. These causes combined with the spread of infidel philosophy and the decay of religious faith brought about the French Revolution at the close of the eighteenth century. The Church was attacked, ecclesiastical property was confiscated; religious orders were suppressed by violence; monks and nuns were turned out of their peaceable abodes by force, and many religious houses were plundered and pulled down. Soon after, a sanguinary edict was issued against all priests who should continue faithful to the discharge of their duties. Was any one discovered refractory, he was cast into prison, or immediately hanged up to the nearest lamp-post. The Christian era was annulled, the celebration of the Sundays and Festivals was abolished, the churches were profaned and devastated. Everything that reminded them of Christianity was destroyed. Finally, the madness of these men arrived at such a pitch, that they proclaimed Reason to be the Supreme Being, and conducted a vile woman as an emblem of the Deity, on a triumphal car, into the Cathedral of Paris, where they placed her on the high altar, in the place of the figure of our Crucified Redeemer, and sang hymns in her honor. Order, prosperity, and public safety disappeared together with Religion; even the throne was overturned and shattered to pieces. France was for two years the scene of such horrible atrocities as are unequaled in the annals of history. Human blood flowed in torrents. Neither age nor sex was safe from the fury of those monsters. The total number of the people slaughtered in this Reign of Terror was, according to some, two millions. And all this was done under the pretense of promoting the happiness of mankind. Enlightenment was their word when they abolished Religion; Liberty and Equality, when they murdered their fellow-men. At last, in order to stop the complete anarchy that prevailed, the leaders solemnly proclaimed that the nation should once more believe in God and the immortality of the soul. In the year 1799, Napoleon, in quality of First Consul, seized upon the sovereign power, but he did not venture to govern a people without Religion. He therefore restored the Catholic Religion in France, and made a solemn Concordat with the Pope (a.d. 1801). However, the Church did not long enjoy this peace. Napoleon, blinded by for tune, attempted to extort from the Supreme Head of the Church certain concessions which he could not grant. The French troops invaded Rome, and carried away Pius VII prisoner in 1809. But as God had visibly protected His Church ten years before, when Pope Pius VI. and died a captive, at Valence in France, so now He did not abandon her to her enemies. Napoleon was vanquished by the Confederate Powers of Europe, and dispossessed of his crown, and the Pope reentered triumphant into Rome (a.d. 1814).

The revised edition pulled even fewer punches.

In their search for a catechism, the Trads frequently overlook this one.  I found a copy in an estate sale here in Chattanooga; evidently some American Catholics preferred it over the more famous Baltimore Catechism.

Will the Current Marchers for #BLM End Up With a Maoist Fate?

In a post linked to a few days ago, this observation about the similarity of the Cultural Revolution in China to what’s going on in the streets today:

For instance, the Red Guards of 1968 often came from privileged backgrounds. The first groups emerged from the elite high schools and universities in Beijing and belonged to the generation that had been born immediately after the Communist takeover in 1949. Raised on stories of revolutionary heroism and bitterly disappointed at the fact they had missed their chance to display their Red credentials…

Similarly, today’s revolutionary vanguard is also made up of young, well-educated people, a disproportionate number hailing from elite educational institutions and working within elite professions. They grew up at a time of unprecedented progress in race relations, but it meant the main action was already over when they were coming of age.

But the Red Guards of old suffered a fate they didn’t expect:

There may still be cause for optimism, eventually. The Red Guards were eventually liquidated and sent down to the countryside for manual labour, their precious university spots taken by worker-peasant-soldier students with better proletarian credentials. The Cultural Revolution ended up lasting for a mere decade and was followed by show trials and lustration of the ringleaders. All revolutions burn out eventually, and the revolutionaries themselves become victims of their own fervour — and with any luck we will see the same thing happen with America’s own cultural revolution.

I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say that sending our elites “down country” (a ritual which persisted for many years in China) is an appealing fate.  One of the things that’s wrong with this country is that those at the top have no idea what those at the bottom actually go through, or how best to deal with the issues at hand.  One way of doing that is to negate their own privilege so they can experience this for themselves,  but as we also have seen getting an American to give up privilege–even for a season–is an uphill battle.  Trust me, however, experience in places like China and Russia shows that it’s better to give it up than have it taken from you.

Jonathan Merritt is Out of His League Fooling With an Anglican

Anne Carlson Kennedy’s post didn’t sit too well with him, and he responded as follows:

From top to bottom, this “essay” is a mess. The giant, unbroken paragraphs are a slog to read, and the grammar errors and made up words (what is “Tragical” exactly?) are impossible to ignore. But the worst part, perhaps, is that you couldn’t even get the premise right. I didn’t argue that “Evangelicals deserve to be cancelled.” I wrote a piece explaining how a movement sparked by evangelicals is coming for them. Which is why you weren’t able to actually quote me saying such a thing. If you’re going to use words in public–and particularly if those words are going to be weighted down with such bald self-righteousness–I would suggest that, at a minimum, you do not use those words to bear false witness against others. Unlike LGBTQ relationships, lying is one of the big 10. Do better.

But she is not to be outdone:

So, first of all, I am the Director of Better. If anyone can do better, it’s me. Rest your mind on that score. Second of all, I feel that if you have to go after the quality of my writing, it must be because I upset you in some way. Third, “tragical” is a word much loved by those who read girly books like Anne of Green Gables. Of course, it’s not the sort of term one would use in most online “spaces,” but I have carved out my own niche here, mostly full of people who don’t mind a little wordiness. It’s not for everyone, if it were, that would ruin it.

Anglican blogs and websites tend towards the extended monologue (verbose) with the vocabulary that follows.  That’s probably why (in addition to my background) I’ve gravitated towards the Anglican/Episcopal world for the last score or so, and why my Pentecostal and Evangelical friends find me mystifying and ignore me whenever they get the chance.  When going online for instruction, I promised my students that I would be as rambling and incomprehensible online as I am in person, and I plan to make good on that promise.

Merritt has picked the wrong person to characterise as a blindly triumphalistic evangelical.  She and her husband Matt have paid the culture war price in their own church, having gone up against a malicious opponent.  She’s also good (as the above quote will attest) at the Anglican Put-Down, responding to which (as any street evangelist who will level with you will attest) is nearly impossible.

I’ve recently pointed out the Anglican/Episcopal world’s elevated demographics in this country, and how it’s inappropriate for them to go down the CRT path.  In this case, however, it pays off: Merritt’s out of his league in taking on this reader of Anne of Green Gables.

How the establishment fell for eugenics — UnHerd

It isn’t the most lavish of memorials: a small stained glass window featuring a 7×7 grid of seven different colours. But on closer inspection you see that each colour appears once — and once only — in each row and column. This glorified Sudoku puzzle is called a ‘Latin square’, and is one of those things…

via How the establishment fell for eugenics — UnHerd