Rod Dreher

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Mecca & Geneva

This is not tragedy, it’s farce:

“Allah bless us and bless our families and bless our Lord. Lead us on the straight path – the path of all the prophets: Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad,” and so went the prayer offered up by Wajidi Said, from the Portland Muslim Community, as part of the “first order of business” during the opening plenary session of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Don’t believe it? Here’s the video from the PCUSA. The Islamic prayer begins at 14:04.

It’s a beautiful prayer, but it denies the divinity of Jesus, calling him a “prophet.” This is orthodox Muslim teaching, and quite right for a Muslim to profess in public. But why are Christians, in an explicitly Christian assembly, allowing this?

Well, this is the same church body that embraced same-sex marriage a couple of years ago. This has done nothing to arrest the PCUSA’s collapse. The denomination’s own figures project a loss of 400,000 more members by 2020. If this bears out, the PCUSA will have gone from 2.5 million members to 1.2 million in just 20 years. That’s over half their people! And it will have gone from 4.3 million in 1965 (its high point) to 1.2 million in half a century — a loss of nearly 75 percent of its membership in less than a single lifetime. (See here for figures.)

By the way, Pew reckons that there are two to three times more Muslims in the US than members of the PC(USA). So maybe having an imam come pray to Allah at their annual powwow is the liberal Presbyterians’ way of betting on the future.

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The World To Come

Two items that have flopped over my transom in the past day.

1. I heard from someone who works in the public school system in a major American city. She says that in the past five years, she has noticed an incredible change coming over the high schoolers. “I have watched genders flow into each other,” she says.

She talked about one teenage girl in particular who approached her and asked, “Remember me?” She did not. It turns out the girl was in fact a boy. She asked him to tell her his story. It started with the fact that his father never understood him, and proceeded from there.

The woman says that this kind of thing was all but invisible five years ago, but is now much more common. “The school counselors are pushing it,” she said. “It’s unbelievable, and I don’t know where it ends.”

2. Another reader, N., an older Millennial, e-mails to talk about a disturbing trend among N.’s urban elite friends. N. sent me text from one of them, someone nationally known, with no small amount of influence. N. has known him for a long time. He had put this out on Facebook among his wide circle of friends, but the reader asked me not to quote from it. N. is not sure how public he intended it to be, and just wanted me to see the kind of thinking that is becoming common in N.’s circles (thinking that N. rejects). N. gave me permission to summarize it. I will call its author X. I’ve slightly edited what’s below to protect privacy.

X’s post laments Brexit, pointing in particular to the fact that the young overwhelmingly voted to Remain, and the old voted overwhelmingly to leave. X. said this shows that democracy does not work well when old people have to vote. The old have been on the wrong side of every civil rights issue, and we should start considering taking away their vote after a certain age. There is in the post a barely-concealed sense that after a certain age, life is not worth living, and should not be tolerated by the young.

Says the reader who sent this to me:

Seeing the shocking number of people who liked this, the people who shared this, I know this is going to spread. And it worries me. Euthanasia, trans-everything: the internet takes radical ideas and mainstreams the unthinkable.

Again, I know the identity of X. He is very far from a nobody on the Internet. N. says that over the years, N. has come to rely on X as a bellwether for social trends. Says N., “When I start seeing a theme in his writing, I know within months I’ll start seeing it pop up everywhere.”

N. goes on:

[X.] has the ear of writers, tv show creators, government employees, journalists, and other creatives. There is a distinct group for whom his word is gospel. His ideas catch and spread, and it terrifies me. It’s SJW McCarthyism with the technocratic veneer of respectability.

On the other hand, earlier today, I heard a terrific speech by Russell Moore, given to a large Christian group at a private gathering. He talked about the radical importance of immersing ourselves in Scripture and discipleship, to prepare for the world we are living in and the world to come. He talked about how faithful orthodox Christians must prepare ourselves to suffer, and to suffer joyfully. It was a sobering, prophetic address, and incredibly inspiring in both its hopefulness and its realism (as opposed to false optimism). I will try to find him and ask him if I can quote it in this space.

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Britain, The Most Important Immigrant

Leave campaigner Boris Johnson, likely the next British PM (Stuart Boulton /
Leave campaigner Boris Johnson, likely the next British PM (Stuart Boulton /

David Frum says the UK voted to exit the European Union over mass immigration, making itself the world’s most consequential immigrant. Excerpt:

If any one person drove the United Kingdom out of the European Union, it was Angela Merkel, and her impulsive solo decision in the summer of 2015 to throw open Germany—and then all Europe—to 1.1 million Middle Eastern and North African migrants, with uncountable millions more to come. Merkel’s catastrophically negative example is one that perhaps should be avoided by U.S. politicians who seek to avert Trump-style populism in the United States. Instead, the politician who most directly opposes Donald Trump—presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton—is doubling down on Merkelism.

Hillary Clinton’s first reaction to the Supreme Court decision on executive amnesty looks at the issue exclusively and entirely from the point of view of the migrants themselves: “Today’s heartbreaking #SCOTUS immigration ruling could tear apart 5 million families facing deportation. We must do better.” That U.S. citizens might have different interests—and that it is the interests of citizens that deserve the highest attention of officials elected by those citizens—went unsaid and apparently unconsidered. But somebody is considering it. And those somebodies, in their many millions, are being heard from this year: loud, clear, and angry.

That’s interesting, and makes me fantasize about taking a Brexit in my own country. More and more it feels like the people running the US — not just the politicians, but the corporate, media, and academic elites too — promote alien values, in the name of Progress — and are determined to impose them on everyone, no matter what the cost. And they’re ruining the country.

There can be no political and economic Brexiting of America, but to Brexit in one’s heart is not nothing.

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Britain Brexits. Good

Nigel Farage: 'HA ha!' (Twocoms /
Nigel Farage: 'HA ha!' (Twocoms /

The Leave campaign has won. The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. Good.

To be honest, I have not had a strong feeling about Brexit, though I had generally hoped that the Leave side would win. This, simply because a Leave victory would be a strong repudiation of the elites, and in particular the unaccountable internationalists in Brussels. As I type this, I’m watching a British political analyst on CNN describe this as a stunning discrediting of the experts, all of whom thought Remain would win. Christiane Amanpour has been kind of losing it. I love this tweet:

This is a staggering judgment on the arrogance of the international political, economic, and media elites in general, and of the Eurocrats in Brussels in particular. Here’s Tim Stanley, writing in the Telegraph:

It’s impossible to overstate how remarkable this victory is. Twenty years ago, Euroscepticism was a backbench Tory rebellion and a political cult. It was a dispute located firmly on the Right with little appeal to Labour voters. It took Ukip to drag it into the centre of political life – given momentum by the issue of immigration – and slowly it has emerged as a lightning rod for anti-establishment activism.

Stanley points out that in 1975, the Brits voted to stay in the Common Market. More:

But this time the establishment consensus coincided with a historic loss of faith in the experts. These were the people who failed to predict the Credit Crunch, who missed the greatest economic disaster to hit us since the Great Depression. And we were supposed to believe them? Slowly the consensus came to resemble not just a conspiracy but, worse, a confederacy of dunces.

Ignatius Reilly wins! And look:

Dutch anti-immigration leader Geert Wilders called for a referendum on the Netherlands’ membership in the EU following the British result.

“We want be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy,” he said in a statement.

Well, why not?

I’ve just watched Christiane Amanpour very nearly spontaneously combust, going into a gran mal Anderson Cooper rage while interviewing UKIP politician Ray Finch. Finch kept his cool. Had he been on for a minute more, she would have blamed Orlando on Nigel Farage.

O Fortuna, truly you have spun the wheel justly this time…

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Tradition, Technology, Modernity

From an interview in Spiked Online with the prominent French philosopher of religion Rémi Brague:

review: Given your emphasis on the creative role of tradition, on a perpetual return to and re-interpretation of prior sources, in the development of Europe, has the advent of modernity, with its emphasis on freeing man of his dependence on tradition, on external sources of authority, affected the development of Europe?

Brague: My hunch is that it has. But let me first distinguish between modernity, or modern times, and what I call the ‘modern project’. Firstly, modern times represent a period in history carved by historians out of the continuous flow of events. But, even as such, there is more to it: ‘Modern’ no longer means what happens to have taken place nearer to the present time. Our own use of the word suggests that what is new is worth more than what came before. Claiming to be ‘modern’ means: we live in a better time than the benighted Middle Ages. As a historical period, modernity has brought about the better and the worse, in all realms. This is a feature that it shares with each and every period of history that we know of.

Freeing oneself is a difficult but noble task. But it is strange that tradition should be perceived as weighing on us like a burden that we should cast off and, in the first place, as something external to us. Tradition is what gives us to ourselves. The very vehicle of thought and freedom, language, is handed over to us by tradition.

This is an important point with regard to the way the technological mindset that forms people raised in our culture. We have this assumption we make without being aware of it that things keep improving, that progress is in the nature of things. We think constantly of how technology improves our lives — because very often it does! — but we almost never think of what particular technological developments take away from us.

The late Neil Postman wrote about this in his 1993 book Technopoly. His book is definitely not anti-technology, but insists that we should be critical of technology, in the sense that we should not accept it unthinkingly. Technology rarely gives without taking something away. The same is true of modernity.

Read the whole interview with Brague. He speaks of how contemporary, post-Christian Europe is parasitical on Europe’s Christian past, and refuses to acknowledge it. It’s increasingly true of America too. This will have very serious consequences for future generations.

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Cultural Engagement & The Benedict Option

I’ve had a few e-mails and exchanges in the last day that I want to address.

An Evangelical I was talking to this morning said that one of the Christians he follows on Twitter criticized the Benedict Option for not being “culturally engaged.” My interlocutor said he didn’t think that was the case, but wanted my opinion.

Of course it’s not the case, I said. (And this will be very clear when my book comes out in February.) The point is that in this new and rapidly changing social environment, if Christians expect to engage the culture effectively, we will have to withdraw into the depths of our traditions, and embrace new (or rather, very old) practices to strengthen our discipleship.

“If you were a Marine fighting a war, would you think it would be sufficient to go into battle without having had any training or discipline, relying only on your patriotism?” I said. “You’d get slaughtered, and the cause would suffer. It’s like that with the Benedict Option. We Christians can’t engage the culture if we don’t have much to engage them with.”

I might be wrong, but I sometimes think that Christians believe they are “engaging the culture” when they show off their tattoo at the coffee shop, and practice random acts of winsomeness.

In this same conversation, my new Evangelical friend and I got to talking about youth ministry. He told me that his sister is in college at a pretty conservative university, and is involved in Christian circles there. She reports that many of her Christian friends supports same-sex marriage (she does not), and doesn’t understand why Christians wouldn’t.

We talked briefly about how the Sexual Revolution has colonized the American Christian imagination, and how so many older Christian conservatives have no real idea the extent to which this is true. We agreed that the church has been catastrophically bad at forming younger generations in this way. I wish I had remembered to tell this man what a professor friend at a major Evangelical university told me recently: that one of the larger Christian student groups on campus jokes around about how most of its members are sleeping with each other, claiming that their love for Jesus covers all, and disdaining legalism. Their sneering slogan? “Rules are for the righteous.”

Over the course of my lifetime, I have no doubt that most Christian colleges and institutions will fully embrace the LGBT agenda. I was shocked last year to visit Notre Dame and see the rainbow flag flying in the student union. I expect this to be widespread in Christian colleges 20 years from now. The next battle is going to be the extent to which Christian colleges mandate celebrating LGBT.

In that regard, a reader whose Christian husband works for a major American corporation. She reports that he has always loved his job, but is glad that retirement is upon him, because the company has gotten very aggressive about promoting the LGBT agenda within. It is fast moving beyond tolerance and respect, and approaching the point where you must openly affirm your support for it, or risk losing your job.

The reader forwarded me company documents demonstrating this, on condition that I not identify the company. I don’t want to risk posting excerpts from these documents on this blog, because it wouldn’t be hard for employees of the company to figure out its identity, and for all I know, they would launch a witch hunt against people known to be Christian there. Trust me, though: what the reader says is correct. If I were a traditional Christian, Jew, or Muslim working there, I would head for the exits — if I didn’t have the stomach to make them fire me, thus making me un-hireable in the industry (because who wants to take a bigot onto their workforce, thus risking the creation of a Hostile Work Environment, which is legally actionable?).

This is one reason why we need the Benedict Option: to prepare Christians to be able to resign their jobs rather than burn that pinch of incense to Caesar, and to prepare the wider Christian community to support them — financially, spiritually, and morally — when they lose their livelihoods for the sake of bearing witness to God’s truth.

This too is cultural engagement — engagement with American culture as it is and as it is becoming in these darkening times. And listen to me, Christian: if you don’t think this could happen to you in your workplace, you are lying to yourself.

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The Evil, Evil Anabaptists

Railroad cars to Auschwitz, pretty much (Robert F. Leahy/Shutterstock)
Railroad cars to Auschwitz, pretty much (Robert F. Leahy/Shutterstock)

Did you know that Anabaptists were a mob of murderers? This is news to me. Anabaptists are pacifists, right? What do they have to do with the Orlando massacre carried out by a gay Muslim radical? Mennonite SJW Jay (Jennifer) Yoder squints real hard to explain why she sees her co-religionists as basically monsters. Excerpts:

What we found was the violence of the recent MC USA convention in Kansas City. What we found was decades-long firings and shunnings and shamings. What we found was a whispered history of rape, of suicide, of addiction, of Mennonites dying secretly in their homes of AIDs, their wives by their bedsides. What we found was forcing queer people of color to deny one piece of their identity so that they could be tokenized for another. What we found was preaching peace while ignoring violence and accountability. What we found was passing resolutions acknowledging that treating queer folks as less than full members of our Mennonite community results in us being targeted for sexual violence while *simultaneously* passing a resolution denying us full membership in the community.

Most of the times I don’t tell the hardest parts of my story publicly. Most of the time what I want you to know is that I’m whole and I’m happy and I’m not your sad broken queer story to be used.

Here’s what I want you to know today. We are dying, and you are killing us. We are dying, and you are killing us. We are dying, and you are killing us.

God forgive you. I’m not ready to.

Wow, did you know that Mennonites beat up queer Mennonites at the church’s annual convention last year? Did you know that they kill gay Mennonites? Well, if by “kill” you mean “refused to give the LGBT lobby within the church exactly what they want,” then it was basically the Holocaust. Here’s what happened:

Delegates attending the annual conference voted to approve a “forbearance” measure, a new part of the church platform acknowledging that there is not currently a consensus within the church on issues of human sexuality. The forbearance encourages dialogue, discussion, and prayer. Yet delegates also affirmed membership guidelines that effectively shut the door on the church allowing same-sex unions, with a moratorium on further discussion for four more years. The forbearance was supposed to be a nod towards the church progressives, with the membership guidelines a bone for the conservatives.

Got that? The church meeting said no same-sex marriages now, absent a consensus, but we’ll keep talking about it. Lord have mercy, it’s pretty much the Wannsee Conference, innit?

Honestly, aren’t people getting sick and tired of these hysterics? This is objectively deranged, as well as morally disgusting: to accuse your fellow church members of being guilty of murder because they won’t give you what you want. And The Mennonite magazine gave Yoder space to slander her opponents within the church.

Any community or institution that grants extremists like Yoder space to be taken seriously with berserker slanders like this is drinking poison. Here’s a piece from a piece Yoder wrote in advance of the conference last year that did not go her way. Excerpt:

Let’s create brave spaces of shared vulnerability, of shared accountability here together, in Kansas together, and let us cultivate a practice of creating brave spaces, spaces where we can model accountability, transparency, truthtelling, and brave nonviolent action. In other words, let us model the beloved community alternative to the violent structures of MC USA.

Who talks that way? This is SJW cant. It is a mark of our times that protesters and activists press their case by making highly emotional assertions of their own sanctity, and then asserting, with equal hysteria, their opponents’ evil. Sooner or later, I hope, reasonable adults in all kinds of institutions and communities will marginalize these drama-queen bullies, and refuse to be intimidated by this nonsense. Let the Jennifer Yoders of the world fall out and spontaneously combust, if that’s their choice. The rest of us can’t reward such emotional theatrics.

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Campus Comes To Congress

I’m halfway around the world right now, and just checking in on news from back home. I see that Congressional Democrats are beclowning themselves:

Democrats, led by civil rights icon John Lewis, took control of the chamber Wednesday morning demanding a vote on gun control legislation. But Republicans are resisting, saying they don’t want to give in to such protest tactics.

The tension exploded onto the floor just after 10 p.m. ET when Republican Speaker Paul Ryan gaveled the chamber into order to hold a procedural vote on an unrelated matter. An extraordinary scene unfolded as throngs of Democrats — some holding signs with the names of victims of gun violence — remained in the House well chanting “no bill, no break” and “shame shame shame.” They also sang the protest anthem “We Shall Overcome.”

What cheap, disgusting theatrics. More:

Such displays would normally be prohibited but Ryan, sensitive to the attention being paid to the sit-in, declined to enforce the traditional order in the House.

From the NYT:

A Democratic sit-in on the House floor demanding votes on gun-control legislation led to a remarkable scene of pandemonium on Wednesday night as Speaker Paul D. Ryan was shouted down when he tried to regain control.

Democrats pressed against the podium, waving signs with shooting victims’ names and chanting “No bill! No break!” as Mr. Ryan repeatedly banged his gavel in an attempt to restore order.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives was shouted down by Democratic Congressman as he attempted to regain control of the House of Representatives. Actual US Congressmen behaving like a bunch of giddy Oberlin undergraduates.

They had better not give in. Look, on gun control matters, I am generally — generally — more sympathetic to Democrats than to Republicans. But this mob insurrection on the House floor is profoundly unsettling. I have not looked closely at the legislation, so it is entirely possible that I might support the Democratic proposal. But to attempt to get one’s way by showing utter contempt for rules of the House? No. No, no, no. Their passion does not justify their behavior.

This country is in trouble.

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21 Questions With Barronelle Stutzman

This is amazing. Barronelle Stutzman is the Washington florist sued by a gay man, a friend and client of almost a decade, who was outraged by her refusal to do the flowers for his same-sex wedding. Whatever you think you know about her case, I bet you don’t know a lot of things in that short three-minute video.

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#BlackLivesMatter’s Cry For Help

Otto von Bismarck, the mad mass murderer of Orlando (Everett Historical/Shutterstock)
Otto von Bismarck, the mad mass murderer of Orlando (Everett Historical/Shutterstock)

The truth comes out at last, courtesy of Black Lives Matter:

It is with pain and heartache that the Black Lives Matter Network extends love, light, protection, and abundance to our family in Orlando, Florida. We love you. Black people are a diverse community, and though the hate-filled rhetoric of the conservative right is currently trying to pit us against our kin — we will always stand with all the parts of ourselves. Today, Queer, Latinx, and Muslim family, we lift you up.

Despite the media’s framing of this as a terrorist attack, we are very clear that this terror is completely homegrown, born from the anti-Black white supremacy, patriarchy and homophobia of the conservative right and of those who would use religious extremism as a weapon to gain power for the few and take power from the rest. Those who seek to profit from our deaths hope we will forget who our real enemy is, and blame Muslim communities instead.

But we will never forget.

In case you didn’t notice, Omar Mateen, an Afghani-American radical gay Muslim registered as a Democrat, was really a right-wing, gay-hating, white conservative. No, Black Lives Matter isn’t crazy at all. Why would you say so? More:

Until these systems are defeated, until anti-Blackness no longer fuels anti-Muslim and anti-queer and trans bigotry, exploitation, and exclusion — we can never be truly free.

Nope, perfectly sane. By no means is this a foaming expectoration from a bunch of racist far-left crackpots.

Seriously, though. Seriously. How is it that people so given over to ideological derangement command such admiration from the media and others on the cultural heights? Who decided that to prove you really cared about black lives, you had to embrace this movement? I’m not asking rhetorically; I would love to know. You can’t just overlook these malicious Jacobin lies. To my knowledge, this is crazier than anything Donald Trump has ever said — and that takes some doing, for sure.

Imagine that white right-wing extremist Tim McVeigh blows up the Murrah Building, but some conservative group says the real criminals are black gay liberals. Anybody who said that would be instantly ridiculed, and never taken seriously again by any morally sane person. Somehow, I doubt that will happen with these sacred monsters.

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