Rod Dreher

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School Helped Trans Cult Steal Her Daughter

This is a guy, though saying so is probably a thought crime (kutena/Shutterstock)
This is a guy, though saying so is probably a thought crime (kutena/Shutterstock)

A reader writes:

I want to thank you for your articles on the transgender issue. As you can see by the subject line, this is something I am dealing with daily. I agree with you that there is so much detrimental influence on teenagers and children to express themselves in this way, it is completely overwhelming. It is not only overwhelming to the child, but to the parent as well. The nightmare of the situation is that the people you are supposed to trust; teachers counselors, administrators, will do nothing to inform you about what your child is doing while he or she is at school. Not only that, but they are encouraging and promoting this whole phenomenon. By the time I got a hint of what was going on with my daughter, I could do nothing to stop it. My daughter lives in a fantasy land of her own creation and the school’s continual nurturing. The advice I received from the school was to become a member of PFLAG or other similar groups so I could support my child and her decision.

I refuse to do this. My daughter is a girl. She acts like a girl when she is not consciously doing her boy act. I was very relieved to see in your article that were other parents out there who felt as I do, because according to the media, all parents should support their child’s decision to express themselves how they truly are. Case in point, the tv show ” I Am Jazz”. There is almost nothing to the contrary and I have felt very isolated.

My question to you is, in your research, have you found any groups for parents like me? Parents who refuse to give in to all of the lies? If you have would you please reply to me and send me their link or email address? I would be very grateful for support from other like parents in this very difficult time.

Readers, if you can help her, please post the information in the comments section, or send an e-mail to me (rod — at — amconmag — dot — com) that I can pass on to her.

In this heartbreaking and infuriating piece, a woman named Emily writes about how gender ideology activists and pusillanimous school administrators destroyed the charter school her kids attended. The camel’s nose is always “we have to do everything possible to stop bullying.” Excerpt:

With heavy heart, I too, pulled my children out of this school. This is the grade school that all of my children attended for the last thirteen years. We enrolled our oldest the first year the school was in operation and have made many decisions for our family based on our commitment to it. Our family is now struggling to pay private school tuition for seven children and will be doing so for the next 12 or more years. And we’re not the only family to walk away; many others have decided not to return for the upcoming school year. Applications to the school dropped precipitously for the first time in its history. The distrust runs deep and the school will be forever changed.

Of course, the entire US public school system is now facing the same gender ideology push we did last year. Obama’s transgender directive was delivered to every public school in the nation last May and ensures that this battle will play out many times over in the 2016-17 school year. Though I understand that our school was put in a difficult position and sympathize with that, ultimately I’m disappointed with their choices. Public schools have a duty to maintain a welcoming environment, which requires neutrality on some issues. An even more basic duty that was ignored by our school was to simple scientific facts and data. How ridiculous it was to hear our high school science teacher argue that biological sex is a subjective concept!

This experience has changed my life and I have committed myself to speaking out against gender ideology wherever I see it, but especially when it puts women, girls and students in danger. Going forward, I refuse to be intimidated and my resolve to speak the truth has only grown as the proponents of this lie act more and more boldly. I hope parents across this country will join me in defending our children against policies that subject them to harmful ideas and dangerous situations. Your child’s body and soul are at stake – Do not be afraid!

Note this part especially:

Students in the school were not immune to what was happening. Multiple kindergartners were pulled out of the school due to the confusion (and even trauma) they experienced from watching a boy “transform” into a girl. Five-year-old children know there are differences between boys and girls and this was beyond their ability to comprehend. Parents reported that their kindergartners were asking if they could grow up to become the opposite sex. The high school saw similar confusion. Two girls spoke out at a board meeting, claiming to be gender non-conforming. The GSA club focused its efforts exclusively on the transgender issue and papered the walls of the high school with signs stating that “Sex Does Not Equal Gender.” There was much discussion at lunch and on the playground of the transgender issue, even among the younger children. My fourth-grader chose not to talk about it all after he determined he was in disagreement with most of his friends. Parents started wearing bright purple buttons to school every day indicating their support of gender ideology. They were impossible to miss and prompted questions from many of the students.

Don’t think it’s not eventually coming to your school. And then?

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Leviathan Vs. The Cajun Navy

Cajun Navy, via Teespring.com
Cajun Navy, via Teespring.com

A friend who has been doing flood relief work in the Baton Rouge area writes, “Remember when I said there was never an emergency the state couldn’t add a layer of bureaucracy to?” He points to a news story showing a Louisiana state legislator wanting a law to regulate the Cajun Navy, the impromptu collection of citizen boatmen who rushed into the flooded areas to save people. From the story:

Jonathan Perry, a Republican state senator is working on legislation that could require training, certificates and a permit fee for citizen-rescuers to bypass law enforcement into devastated areas, according to a report from WWL-TV.

Perry represents Senate District 26, comprised of Vermilion Parish and portions of Acadia, Lafayette and St. Landry parishes.

“At the end of the day, there are going to be two things that are going to be the hurdle when you approach it from the state’s standpoint,” said Perry in a radio interview, per WWL-TV. “Liability is going to be number one for them. They don’t want the liability of someone going out to rescue someone and then not being able to find them (the rescuers) and, secondly, there’s a cost.”

Some who took part in the rescue parties have spoken out against the proposal, including Dustin Clouatre of St. Amant.

“How can you regulate people helping people? That doesn’t make sense to me,” said Clouatre to WWL-TV.

This is ridiculous. If this law passes, it will be widely disregarded in the next flood, as it should be. The Cajun Navy represents the best of Louisiana’s civil society, because it’s the outward sign of an inward state that Louisiana people carry within them. That law would be like Mayor Giuliani’s trying to ban jaywalking in New York City. It’s trying to go against the Tao. Won’t work.

Caleb Bernacchio, a Baton Rouge native who has family rescued by the Cajun Navy, writes about how there’s no way to bureaucratize this kind of thing. Excerpts:

[Philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre] envisions relationships that exist between friends, family, and total strangers, that are active in a more subtle way in daily life but which are most apparent in strong communities when disaster strikes. In Baton Rouge and Denham Springs, total strangers gave of their time and resources, sometimes putting their own lives at risk, to help those in need. And in similar communities around the world, on a daily basis communal bonds are evidenced by the way in which fellow community members give assistance to those in need in a manner that extends beyond economic calculations. This type of virtuous care is vital to the well-being of community members, yet it often goes unnoticed.

MacIntyre argues that as human beings we are always vulnerable to threats that make flourishing precarious and that we can only really flourish by relying on the virtuous care of friends, family, and often total strangers to give to us when we are in need. The response to the recent floods gives ample evidence of the strength of of virtuous networks spanning the communities of southern Louisiana. But maybe not surprisingly, the localism of the relatively rural population of southern Louisiana also offers an example of the parochialism and “irrationality” derided by elites in the wake of the Brexit vote. While economic models can largely capture increased economic efficiency stemming from globalization, economists struggle to explain the type of widespread cooperation, apparent in southern Louisiana, and described by MacIntyre in terms of networks of giving and receiving.

More:

Mainstream economist often dismiss the type of virtuous behavior on display in southern Louisiana as irrational, or attempt to reduce it to some sort of utilitarian calculation, as if members of the “Cajun Navy” were tacitly performing cost/benefit analyses each time they came across someone in distress. MacIntyre argues that the economic theory is unable to account for the role of genuinely common goods that transcend the distinction between egoism and altruism. The failure of economic theory to explain the virtuous behavior exemplified in the wake of the floods in Louisiana is directly related to the bankruptcy of political discourse in the United States and Europe.

What many pundits, economists, and gleeful proponents of globalization fail to understand is that relationships of gratuitous giving and receiving that form the basis of virtuous communities are often threatened by disintegration and marginalization as a result of globalizing economic policies. These virtuous relationships and personal bonds are required for local communities to subsist and for individuals to flourishing, especially when they are in need. MacIntyre, in Dependent Rational Animals, points to threats to communal integrity stemming from consumerism and reduced job stability, both making virtuous relationships, and therefore actual human flourishing, more precarious.

Read the whole thing. It’s an important short essay that deserves wide distribution.

It sounds petty to people outside the state for us to be irritated by things like the Red Cross not letting people come into shelters to pray with folks (pray, not proselytize), but prayer and religious observance is part of the natural, organic way of life in south Louisiana. Telling people they can’t go into shelters to comfort people with prayer is one the spectrum of a legislator wanting to regulate the Cajun Navy.

Say, if you want a t-shirt with the Cajun Navy logo of the photo illustrating this post, go here to order. All proceeds go to the Louisiana Red Cross.

UPDATE: The Louisiana state senator who proposes the regulation says he has been misunderstood. He explains it from his point of view in this video.

Walter Olson isn’t really buying it. Excerpt:

I’m trying to give Perry’s explanation a charitable reading — I guess he hopes something like a TSA preclear process will give police or authorities more confidence than they now have in letting licensed/approved amateurs past barricades and perimeters. But it’s pretty easy for me to imagine that this will change the incentives in a future emergency so as to give the police/authorities reason to be more aggressive in creating and enforcing barriers/perimeters than they currently are.

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Norcia Earthquake!

Screen grab from CNN

Screen grab from CNN

CNN reporting catastrophic earthquake in central Italy.  The epicenter is very close to Norcia. The monks are reportedly okay, and in the piazza with people. This tweet shows damage inside the basilica at the Norcia monastery:

Here’s a shot I took last time I was there of the statue of St. Benedict in the piazza there, with the basilica behind him. I will update this post once I’ve heard from our friends there. I have also put out a line to Marco Sermarini to see how the people of San Benedetto del Tronto have made it through the night.

IMG_6379

UPDATE: Monks safe (and so are Marco’s people in San Benedetto del Tronto), but the basilica at the monastery did not fare so well:

“At the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, a community growing in fame because of their prayer life and their brewery, the 15 monks and five guests were already awake when the first quake hit, Benedictine Father Benedict Nivakoff told Catholic News Service.
Aug. 24 is the feast of St. Bartholomew, and “on feast days we get up earlier” to pray, he said.

“All of the monks and the monks’ guests are safe,” he said. But the Basilica of St. Benedict suffered “considerable structural damage” and the monastery will need repairs as well.

Within a half hour of the first quake, Nivakoff said, the square outside the monastery was filled with people “because it is the safest place in town – around the statue of St. Benedict.”

While no buildings collapsed, it is obvious that many homes are no longer habitable, he said. The monks have set up a reception desk to help meet their neighbors’ needs.
The basilica, he said, is closed pending an inspection by civil engineers, who were to arrive the afternoon of Aug. 24. However, Nivakoff said, “the facade seems to have detached” from the rest of the building and major repairs are likely.”

UPDATE.2: The monks are temporarily abandoning Norcia for their own safety. This just went out from the monastery:

Dear Friends,

After a careful study of the developing seismic situation in our region of Italy, as a precautionary measure, we have decided to transfer our community to Rome.

The monks of the international Benedictine headquarters at St. Anselmo in Rome have kindly offered our monks a place to remain during this period of uncertainty. We would be grateful if you added the monks of St. Anselmo to your prayers for their generosity during our time of need.

While the community is in Rome, two monks will remain in Norcia to keep watch over the basilica and monitor the developing situation. They will avoid danger by sleeping in tents outside the city walls.

We strive to maintain the order of the Rule even during the most difficult of circumstances, and this transfer, while disruptive, will ensure the safety of our monks and grant us all the peace to continue to practice our monastic life.

Please continue to pray for our community, and consider giving a gift (https://en.nursia.org/donations/) to help our effort to rebuild.

The Monks of Norcia

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Cross With The Red Cross

Capt. Clay Higgins, from a 2015 St. Landry Parish Crime Stoppers screen grab
Capt. Clay Higgins, from a 2015 St. Landry Parish Crime Stoppers screen grab

I cannot believe that the Red Cross did this to Capt. Clay Higgins, a folk hero here in south Louisiana:

(UPDATE: Can’t get that Facebook video to embed. Go watch it here.)

A Red Cross spokeswoman confirms that the agency does have rules governing praying in its shelters, but says managers would have accommodated Capt. Higgins if he had approached them. Her response comes in a Baton Rouge Advocate story about how a lot of people in Louisiana, even the governor, have complaints or at least concerns about the way the Red Cross has been handling things here.

From the American Red Cross blog:

Is it true that the Red Cross doesn’t allow people to pray in shelters?

We have been so moved by the outpouring of care and kindness we’ve witnessed among Louisiana residents. At the Red Cross, our priority is also providing comfort to all that reside at our shelters. We recognize and are sensitive to the fact that hundreds of people from different backgrounds are often sharing a large space with limited privacy. It is of the utmost importance that we respect people’s individual needs, backgrounds and beliefs in accordance with our Fundamental Principles, which state that we bring assistance without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinion. With this in mind, and for the privacy of our shelter residents, we do have policies in place on who can enter shelters to ensure that people have a private, secure place to stay as much as possible. Please know people in the shelters are also welcome to pray and gather among themselves.

So much for the “Cross” in Red Cross. No wonder south Louisiana people are pissed off at them.

By the way, here’s Captain Higgins on a street in front of his daughter’s flooded-out house. This is uncut Higgins. The scene you’re looking at here is very common around here these days:

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Obama: ‘America, Please Help Louisiana’

Screen grab, via WH.gov
Screen grab, via WH.gov

President Obama said today, in Louisiana, in part:

To give you a sense of the magnitude of the situation here, more than 100,000 people have applied for federal assistance so far. As of today, federal support has reached $127 million. That’s for help like temporary rental assistance, essential home repairs, and flood insurance payments.

FEMA is also working with Louisiana around the clock to help people who were displaced by floods find temporary housing. And any Louisiana family that needs help, you can find your nearest disaster recovery center by visiting FEMA.gov, or calling 1-800-621-FEMA. I’m going to repeat that: FEMA.gov, or 1-800-621-FEMA.

Now, federal assistance alone is not going to be enough to make people’s lives whole again. So I’m asking every American to do what you can to help get families and local businesses back on their feet. If you want help — if you want to help, Governor Edwards put together some ways to start at VolunteerLouisiana.gov. That’s VolunteerLouisiana.gov.

And the reason this is important is because even though federal money is moving out, volunteer help actually helps the state because it can offset some of its costs. Obviously, private donations are going to be extremely important, as well. We want to thank the Red Cross for everything they’re doing, but there are a lot of private, philanthropic organizations, churches, parishes around the state and around the country who want to help, as well. And that how we’re going to make sure that everybody is able to get back on their feet.

So let me just remind folks: Sometimes once the floodwaters pass, people’s attention spans pass. This is not a one-off. This is not a photo op issue. This is, how do you make sure that a month from now, three months from now, six months from now, people still are getting the help that they need. I need all Americans to stay focused on this. If you’re watching this today, make sure that you find out how you can help. You can go to VolunteerLouisiana.gov, or you can go to FEMA.gov. We’ll tell you, we’ll direct you — you can go to WhiteHouse.gov, and we’ll direct you how you can help.

But we’re going to need to stay on this, because these are some good people down here. We’re glad that the families I had a chance to meet are safe, but they’ve got a lot of work to do, and they shouldn’t have to do it alone.

I have criticized him hard on this topic, but I will not say anything today other than to thank him for saying these things today, and to strongly, even desperately, encourage you all to listen to his words, and help as you can. I watched a national news report on the clean-up last night, and if that’s all I knew about what the situation in Louisiana was like, I would have assumed that people here have everything well in hand.

It’s not true. It’s not remotely true. Folks here are working very, very hard, in scorching heat and humidity. But we need help.

To give you an idea of the scope of this thing, a National Weather Service meteorologist said that 11,000 square miles of the state had at least 15 inches of rain within 48 hours (some had more). That’s more than the entire state of Massachusetts. Imagine every square mile of Massachusetts underwater. That’s the scale we’re talking about here.

I’m working on a very tight and immovable deadline to finish my Benedict Option book, and unfortunately, all the stress of the closing of our church, the move, and now the flood appears to have reactivated my chronic mono. I’m hoping that it’s just a flare-up and not the real thing, but the past few days have been hard. I’m hoping, though, that things improve, and that next week I can go out into the field and do some reporting for this site.

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Pre-Order The Benedict Option

 

bloggable ben op cover

 

There you have it — the final cover, thanks in large part to the great advice of all you readers. And as of today, you can pre-order The Benedict Option on Amazon.com.  Publication date is March 14, 2017. Here’s the Amazon page copy:

In a radical new vision for the future of Christianity, NYT bestselling author and conservative columnist Rod Dreher calls on American Christians to prepare for the coming Dark Age by embracing an ancient Christian way of life. 

The light of the Christian faith is flickering out all over the West, and only the willfully blind refuse to see it. From the outside, American churches are beset by challenges to religious liberty in a rapidly secularizing culture. From the inside, they are being hollowed out by the departure of young people and a watered-down pseudo-spirituality. Political solutions have failed, as the triumph of gay marriage and the self-destruction of the Republican Party indicate, and the future of religious freedom has never been in greater doubt. The center is not holding. The West, cut off from its Christian roots, is falling into a new Dark Age.

The bad news is that the roots of religious decline run deeper than most Americans realize. The good news is that the blueprint for a time-tested Christian response to this decline is older still. In The Benedict Option, Dreher calls on traditional Christians to learn from the example of St. Benedict of Nursia, a sixth-century monk who turned from the chaos and decadence of the collapsing Roman Empire, and found a new way to live out the faith in community. For five difficult centuries, Benedict’s monks kept the faith alive through the Dark Ages, and prepared the way for the rebirth of civilization. What do ordinary 21st century Christians — Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox — have to learn from the teaching and example of this great spiritual father? That they must read the signs of the times, abandon hope for a political solution to our civilization’s problems, and turn their attention to creating resilient spiritual centers that can survive the coming storm. Whatever their Christian tradition, they must draw on the secrets of Benedictine wisdom to build up the local church, create countercultural schools based on the classical tradition, rebuild family life, thicken communal bonds, and develop survival strategies for doctors, teachers, and others on the front lines of persecution.

Now is a time of testing, when believers will learn the difference between shallow optimism and Christian hope. However dark the shadow falling over the West, the light of Christianity need not flicker out. It will not be easy, but Christians who are brave enough to face the religious decline, reject trendy solutions, and return to ancient traditions will find the strength not only to survive, but to thrive joyfully in the post-Christian West. The Benedict Option shows believers how to build the resistance and resilience to face a hostile modern world with the confidence and fervor of the early church. Christians face a time of choosing, with the fate of Christianity in Western civilization hanging in the balance. In this powerful challenge to the complacency of contemporary Christianity, Dreher shows why those in all churches who fail to take the Benedict Option aren’t going to make it.

Pre-order your copy today, won’t you?

UPDATE: I just realized that March 14 is the Feast of St. Benedict on the Western calendar and Orthodox New Calendar. I had forgotten, because I’ve been observing the Old Calendar for the past few years. Stunned by this, I contacted my editor at the publishing house (secular) and asked if they had any knowledge that the book was going to be published on the Feast of St. Benedict. They had none whatsoever. It was just a coincidence.

A “coincidence.”

UPDATE.2: My mistake — March 14 is the Feast of St. Benedict on the ORTHODOX calendar, which, of course, I follow. Still, very cool, I think.

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We Have Been Warned

'Are you now or have you ever been a Southern Baptist?' (Photographee.eu/Shutterstock)
'Are you now or have you ever been a Southern Baptist?' (Photographee.eu/Shutterstock)

Here in the flood zone of south Louisiana, you would be hard-pressed to find a single church or Christian organization (like the school community of which I’m a part) that isn’t in some way helping flood victims. I’m not talking about simply giving money. I’m talking about doing sacrificial work to help those who are helpless. I watched a report on NBC News last night about what we’re going through here, and was struck by the enormous distance between what they showed on that short clip, and the reality that people here see every day. It is much, much worse than most Americans know (see this for one glimpse, and imagine this multiplied by tens of thousands). The need is so great that there is no way this or any government could respond effectively to it on their own.

It’s also true that civil society couldn’t handle it on its own either. We need both — and that’s what we’re getting here. Istrouma Baptist Church, for example, is one of the biggest churches in the city, and has opened its campus as a staging area for relief operations (if you want to help, click here to find out what you can do). The work of the local churches, both big and small, in bringing desperately needed relief to the suffering is irreplaceable.

I was thinking about this yesterday, and thinking about how to many Americans, the thing most important to them about churches like those in this conservative part of America is that they (the churches) hold “bigoted” attitudes about LGBTs. In the years to come, those churches will be forced to pay a significant penalty for holding those views. Some people say that loss of tax-exempt status, which is what many progressives would like to see happen to dissident churches, will be no big deal. Why should their tax dollars go to subsidize bigotry? they reason.

It will be a very big deal. All contributions to churches and Christian organizations doing relief work are tax-deductible at the present time. This will likely go away, dramatically hampering the resources available to conservative churches like Istrouma to help the suffering in instances like this. Far as I know, nobody has seen crews from the Human Rights Campaign mucking out houses or feeding refugees.

Of course if they lose their tax exemption, churches will still do these things. But they will have many fewer resources with which to do so. Progressives either have not thought about this, or, as I suspect, they just don’t care. Purity on LGBT issues is all that matters.

Last year, the Baptist ethicist David Gushee was quoted by gay New York Times columnist Frank Bruni as saying that “Conservative Christian religion is the last bulwark against full acceptance of L.G.B.T. people.” Gushee has fully embraced gay rights, and doesn’t simply tolerate gay relationships, but affirms their goodness. Now he has written an extraordinarily important column laying out the future for Christians who reject the Sexual Revolution in its latest form. Excerpts:

It turns out that you are either for full and unequivocal social and legal equality for LGBT people, or you are against it, and your answer will at some point be revealed. This is true both for individuals and for institutions.

Neutrality is not an option. Neither is polite half-acceptance. Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.

By “the issue” he means those who will ferret out suspected thought criminals, interrogate them, and force them to come clean about their bigotry. Gushee lists all the kinds of people and institutions of American life that embrace homosexuality and transgenderism and, crucially, stigmatize those who do not. It is a sobering list for those who are not on it. And he’s right. He also says that the Republican Party might still be officially on the side of moral traditionalists, but it’s plain that that stance is fast eroding (he’s right about that too). More:

On the Democratic side, not only is LGBT equality now doctrine, sympathy for religious liberty exceptions is drying up quickly. If Hillary Clinton is elected president, making for twelve to sixteen straight years of Democratic control of the White House, it is quite possible that by Supreme Court ruling and federal regulation any kind of discrimination against gay people will have the same legal rights and social acceptance as any kind of racial discrimination. Which is, none.

Openly discriminatory religious schools and parachurch organizations will feel the pinch first. Any entity that requires government accreditation or touches government dollars will be in the immediate line of fire. Some organizations will face the choice either to abandon discriminatory policies or risk potential closure. Others will simply face increasing social marginalization.

A vast host of neutralist, avoidist, or de facto discriminatory institutions and individuals will also find that they can no longer finesse the LGBT issue. Space for neutrality or “mild” discrimination will close up as well.

The way he concludes the column makes it plain that Gushee believes this marginalization and demonization of traditional Christians to be a positive development. Read the whole thing.

He is absolutely right in his read on the situation in American society. There is no intention on the cultural left of being tolerant in victory, and never was. They are going to bounce the rubble and tell themselves that they are virtuous for doing so. This past week, I saw a Facebook comment in which a liberal said that Livingston Parish, where nearly everyone lost their home to the flood, was once the headquarters of the Louisiana KKK, so to hell with them, they deserve what they get. This is how it’s going to be with us.

I find that even at this late date, it is difficult to get ordinary Christians, including pastors, to understand the reality of what’s coming. You should believe David Gushee. He has done us all a favor here. He and his allies — that is, the entire American establishment — are going to do everything they possibly can to eliminate any place of retreat. When people say that if the Left has its way, there will be no Benedict Option places left to retreat to, I agree. That does not mean they will succeed, at least not at first, but it’s just a matter of time. This means that we will need the Benedict Option more than ever. The Ben Op is not about escapism; it’s about building the institutions and adopting the practices required for the church to be resilient, and even to thrive, under harsh conditions. The church will be under unprecedented pressure, legally and socially, to capitulate. But it will be possible to resist, though not without paying a high cost. I talk about how to do this in my forthcoming book.

Denny Burk responds to Gushee’s column here. Excerpt:

We also know that the conflicts ahead will be a proving ground for the faithful. There are many who call themselves Christian now but who will fall away when the conflicts come. When it becomes costly to follow what Jesus says about sexual immorality, some people will deny Jesus’ word in order to avoid the conflict. And that denial will not lead them to Jesus but away from Jesus. The settled conviction to deny Christ’s word is what the Bible calls apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1). Their going out from us to join the opposition will show what they are:

“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.” –1 John 2:19

We are preparing ourselves for the heartbreak of these departures. But as they go out, the faithful are going to count the cost of staying in. That is what we are doing right now. And we are praying for the strength and resolve to stand when heat is on. It is not even on our radar screen to consider turning back, as Gushee would have us to do. We are on the narrow way with Jesus, and by the grace of God there will be no going back.

At my church, my fellow pastors and I are trying to prepare our congregation for the days ahead.

This is a time of testing. It will cost you to remain faithful. If you are not preparing for this now (or, if you’re a pastor, preparing your congregation for this), you are behaving foolishly. As Gushee says, “The issue will come and find you.” One of the hardest things that dissidents will face is that when the Thought Police show up at the door, church people like David Gushee will proudly say, “They’re in the basement, officer.”

UPDATE: Andrew T. Walker has some questions for Gushee:

There are good liberals out there that don’t think in such harsh binaries as Gushee. I know many. The question is what type of liberal is going to prevail on this debate.

I have several questions for Dr. Gushee that follow from his column. While I doubt he’ll answer them, they are questions that would offer clarity and understanding on what lies ahead for the future.

  • Are Christians who hold to the historical position on sexual ethics engaging in invidious discrimination?

  • Are Christians who hold to the historic position on sexual ethics holding the same type of beliefs and engaging in the same types of actions as avowed racists?

  • Can there be actual disagreement on this issue that doesn’t impute to the other side the worst possible motivations?

  • Can there be a state of mutual respect that allows for different people to reach different conclusions about the purposes of human embodiment?

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Ben Op Reader Bleg

A reader writes:

I have been reading your blog for a few years now. I just read your article where you said that Classical Christian schools are dragging (in a good way) families and churches along behind them. I agree. We are currently homeschooling 5 children, ages 6-11. We live in an area that is a wilderness (in terms of schools and churches that think along BenOp-ish terms).

I am tracking with the stuff you have written. I think it is right on. It just isn’t to be found where we currently live. We are open to re-locating our family, but honestly, it feels a little bit like a shot in the dark.

In your research for your book, have you come across any areas/communities with schools and churches that think along Ben Op lines? We would like to stay in the Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania region, if possible. However, we would consider moving further south or east, if necessary.

The reader, by the way, is a Protestant.

Anybody have any suggestions? Leave them in the comments section. Thanks.

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Exodus From Public Schooling

A federal judge has put a temporary halt to the Obama administration’s order on transgender bathroom use in public school:

Texas and a dozen other states sued in an attempt to block the federal directive shortly after it was released in May, and in a 38-page opinion issued Sunday, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas temporarily prohibited the federal government from enforcing it as that lawsuit proceeds. The Obama administration has said that schools must allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and school facilities that match their gender identity, citing it as a civil rights issue protected under the federal sex-discrimination law known as Title IX.

O’Connor also ruled that the federal Education and Justice departments may not launch or complete any investigations based on the Obama administration’s interpretation that Title IX’s “definition of sex includes gender identity.”

The states argued that the federal government had overstepped its authority and effectively issued new regulations for Title IX without going through the proper federal rule-writing process. Opponents of the policy have argued that it abridges student privacy rights and potentially puts them at risk in the assumed safe-spaces of single-sex bathrooms.

In granting a preliminary injunction against the government’s guidance, O’Connor ruled that the states were likely to win the case on the merits of their arguments. O’Connor’s ruling takes effect just as students across the country are returning to class after summer vacation.

Meanwhile, a reader sends in this training video for administrators, teachers and staff in the Anne Arundel County (Maryland) public school system, instructing them how the system expects them to handle transgender students. The district serves 80,000 students. The reader says:

Just one more for your file of the inevitable Law of Merited Impossibility — made all the personally scarier, now that [people I know] are for the first time being affected directly. Your constant warnings, and those of your informers within “the system,” are absolutely right: this stuff is happening at lightning speed, and most people won’t know what hit ’em!

Here’s the video:

Note at around the 28:00 part, Bob Mosier, the chief communications officer for the school system, addresses “the field trip issue.” If you are chaperoning an overnight school trip, and student who is a biological male but identifies as a female wants to sleep among the girls, what do you do? “The answer is, they sleep with the females,” the administrator says. “That’s not the easy answer; it’s the right answer.”

And, he adds, because of privacy rules, teachers and others are not allowed to disclose to parents of other students what’s actually going on.

If you watch the whole video, you’ll notice that Mosier is gruff and no-nonsense in his presentation. He makes it very clear that there will be no deviation from the plan, and if you disagree with it, well, you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want what’s best for kids.

The whole thing is very instructive, though not necessarily in the way the school system intends. If you listen to the three women from the system who assist Mosier, they’re talking about things that are really crazy in a normal tone of voice, as if anyone who disagrees is the true nutcase bigot. One woman, a school counselor, talks about genderfluidity, and how some days, “I see myself more as my female side, and sometimes I see myself more as my male side. And we know that for growing up, it’s about figuring out who you are. And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if a few years down the road, questions about restrooms and locker rooms will be gone, because we’ll have structured things so that everybody can use whatever they want to.”

Progress.

The reader who sent that said that the person he’s close to in the Anne Arundel School System is a devout Christian who is faced with a question of conscience that could end their career there. What other public school system could this person work for? This gender insanity is not everywhere, yet, but it’s coming. Mark that. If you’re a teacher, administrator, or staffer for a public school system anywhere in the United States, you are going to find yourself sitting in a seminar just like this one day, if you haven’t already. And if you object, you’re a bigot

I was texting about this issue with another reader, an Evangelical whose family is taking a very hard hit to the family budget to put their child in a Christian school in their city, to escape this stuff. He said he just doesn’t get fellow Christians living in public school districts where this trans culture is taking over, leaving their kids in those schools when they can afford a Christian alternative, just so these kids can “be salt and light” and “transform culture for Christ.”

The culture is going to transform their kids, is what’s going to happen.

Your public school district may not be part of this movement yet. But do not be fooled: it’s coming. Are you ready?

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Why The Great Flood Is Not Katrina

Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, after Katrina (Marc Pagani Photography/Shutterstock)
Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, after Katrina (Marc Pagani Photography/Shutterstock)

I have described the Great Flood as “Katrina.2″ to others, because that’s the only comparison available to describe the scope of the disaster. But a New Orleans friend and reader of this blog writes to say, “Er, no.” I post this with his permission:

Ways that B.R. area flooding is worse:

No warning. I always say I’d rather live on the Gulf coast than in tornado or earthquake country.  We’ll usually get four or five days of warning about a storm’s path.  We can evacuate if there’s a flood risk, or we can shelter in place if we’re on higher ground.  Evacuating?  Take a box of your most valuable stuff with you – family photos and important papers – and grab the checkbook, credit cards, and some cash from an ATM.  Staying?  Buy jugs of drinking water, food, batteries, ice, gasoline, fill the tub with water for bathing and flushing the toilet, raise stuff off of the floor in the lowest rooms, etc.  Apart from Katrina, my 50-odd years in the Great State have not been badly affected by hurricanes.  Before 2005, they were even kind of fun. But in BR, people were swamped without much notice.  There were flash flood warnings, but frankly, the weather service gives those about once a week in the summertime – there are some crying wolf issues here.  Not only was there no opportunity for people to grab their wedding pictures, a lot of folks left barefoot and in pajamas.  That was also true for people where the federally designed levees broke in New Orleans, but that was for a major hurricane, not some heavy rain that freakishly refused to dissipate or move along.

No flood insurance.  In N.O., mortgage lenders require flood insurance in most places, and always have.  Even before Katrina, even on the relatively high ground in the city, we knew that there was a risk of some flooding from once-in-a-lifetime hurricanes or from rainstorms that might occur once every 10 years.  No one thought the feds’ levees would collapse, but ordinary flood insurance covered the extraordinary damage.  But the BR flood was a once-in-a-thousand-year probability.  Even for the risk-averse, those odds are long enough that it is a rational option to decline flood insurance.  Times are going to be very tough for homeowners.  Grants and SBA loans are very helpful, but they’re as bureaucratic as you’d imagine.

No name.  I don’t know what to call this nameless event.  It’s hard to focus the nation’s attention on something like “Flooding in Louisiana,” which sounds like “Heat in Arizona.”  Rainstorms don’t have names.  If you’re in a major media market, they make one up – “Polar Vortex” or “Snowmageddon.”

How B.R. and Katrina are exactly the same:

Floodwater in your house is floodwater in your house.  Almost anything you own will be destroyed if it is submerged in flood waters for more than a few minutes.  In a one-story house, you lose everything below the water line.  This includes the walls themselves and maybe your electrical wiring, too.  In some ways, there’s not much difference between six inches of water and seven feet of water.  You’ve lost everything, you’ll be pulling out carpet, drywall, insulation, furniture.  (You’d be surprised how many bookcases and other sturdy-looking pieces of furniture are made of particleboard that will disintegrate if the very bottom gets wet.  The furniture sort of crumbles, so all that stuff you think is safe on high shelves can end up in the water, too.)

Ways that Katrina was worse, in ways that are hard to get across:

Body count.  There are about a dozen tragically lost in the B.R. area, and for those families there’s no difference if the total number of dead is one or 1800+.  But there is something different when there are 1800+ dead, as with Katrina.  It’s not just a different magnitude, but a different kind.

Drainage.  There is still floodwater in many places around B.R. now, but I’ve been seeing Facebook photos of friends’ homes that have been drained and gutted already.  Some are gutted to the ceilings, but for others, the water was only a few feet deep.  Those folks were able to remove sheetrock and insulation up to the point where the materials are dry.  They’re ready to make repairs now.

In New Orleans, the floodwater sat for a month in some areas, trapped in by the levees that couldn’t keep it out.  Even in places where the water drained within a few days, the houses sat unopened for weeks before the owners could come back.  (It was something like martial law here, and roads into town were shut off for a long time.)  The mold comes within a few days to the wet areas.  And soon, everything is a wet area as water wicks its way up the insulation and drywall, and condenses on the ceiling every night.  Even the things that do not get flooded are destroyed by mold.

The smell of death.  In New Orleans, there was no electricity in most places for a month, and owners were hundreds of miles away, so they could not come in and start cleaning.  Where roads were not flooded, the cops or military had them closed so you couldn’t get home if you wanted to.  There was no electricity anywhere in the city or suburbs for several weeks.  You cannot imagine the smell of a single residential refrigerator after its contents have stewed at 90 degrees for a month.  (Hint: the shrink-wrapped pieces of chicken and beef and fish in your freezer are just dead chickens and dead cows and dead fish.  You’ll never forget that smell.)  One famous restaurant’s freezer made an entire city block in the French Quarter smell like dead bodies for a month.  You cannot imagine the smell of 300,000 refrigerators full of rotten animal meat, and you can’t shake the knowledge that some of the smell, in some parts of town, is not coming from refrigerators.

The scope.  This is what no one in the Northeast understood after Superstorm Sandy.  In New York and New Jersey, waterfront areas were devastated, just like in Louisiana and Mississippi.  But after Sandy, some streets a block or two uphill from the water were undamaged.  When it came time to rebuild, the Home Depots and Lowe’s and local hardware stores were open, with electricity and employees and material to sell.  Baton Rouge will be similarly situated – some of the home improvement stores were flooded, but others will be open.  It’s not going to be a picnic, but it is possible to start rebuilding today for some people.

Katrina wiped all of that out in the New Orleans area.  The nearest home improvement store was probably 90 miles away in Baton Rouge.  The local Ace Hardware had no power for a month, and no suppliers of materials.  You want gasoline for a generator?  Drive 90 miles and hope the power’s on at the gas station, and hope the gas has not been sold out like it was the last time you drove that far for gas.  You want an extension cord?  90 miles.  Groceries?  A shower?  Garbage bags?  Sorry, 90 miles.

And this is going not going to sound like much with all the death and destruction, but there was no normalcy to life. 

Nothing was normal after Katrina, not a single neighborhood.  In New Orleans, there was no power downtown for about three weeks, even on the high ground.  The tap water was not drinkable for over a month anywhere in town.  You could not get a meal, or a cup of coffee, or a cold drink for months and months.  There was nowhere to escape the effect of the storm.  We didn’t have regular mail service for six months in the areas that were NOT flooded.  Roads were opened, but UPS and FedEx did not deliver to most areas for at least as long – so forget about sourcing anything and having it shipped.  Every minute of every day just wore you down, because everything was difficult.

By contrast, last Monday, I had a meeting scheduled in downtown Baton Rouge, as waters were still rising in parts of the city.  The meeting was cancelled because two of us could not get there, because our respective roads to Baton Rouge were closed.  Baton Rouge was an island.  But the downtown office where the meeting was to be held?  It was open.  Business as usual for people who could get there.  If you wanted a sandwich or a hot meal or a cup of coffee, you could walk to your favorite place and get one.

Of course, that’s not the case in the flooded areas, and I don’t want to minimize the inundation of entire towns like Denham Springs.  But you cannot underestimate the restorative value of being able to do something, anything, that’s normal.  Like going and grabbing a po-boy for lunch, where you can sit in the air conditioning and recover a bit.  Or you, sitting in a functional apartment with utilities.

Anyway, I ramble.  It’s weird how I get flashbacks of this stuff, when I was not in the city during the storm, did not lose everything, and generally made out extremely well.  I can’t imagine how people like my parents feel when they think about the storm, with my mom evacuating TO New Orleans and riding the storm out a block from the Convention Center, living in a B.R. apartment for months, and then going home to deal with the effect of water that got halfway up the walls on the second floor, no electricity for over six months, and every lifelong neighbor and family member relocated an hour away.

I don’t want to seem insensitive, or like I’ve had it worse than people in your neck of the woods.  I surely have not.  And my parents and I have resources that most people don’t in Livingston Parish.  But when I hear “this is as bad as Katrina,” I have a little trouble, on behalf of N.O.

When I wrote to ask his permission to publish this, he responded yes, but added:

I want to be clear about a couple of things. One, it’s not meant to be a contest over whose disaster is worse. That’s not my intent at all, although it is so early in the process I think that might be what it sounds like. I know from experience that any kind of comparison is going to come off as an offense to the victims who are struggling from minute to minute right now.

Two, I think my point is that they should count their blessings not to be in the condition New Orleans was in after Katrina. Katrina was truly an existential threat to the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas. But there’s no question that the areas flooded in and around Baton Rouge are going to rebuild.

Meanwhile, my wife reviewed what I wrote to see if it was offensive. She reminded me that every time we ate food outside for six months after Katrina, the food would be surrounded by “coffin flies.” I’ve never seen those before or since, but they were absolutely everywhere after Katrina. There was just so much rotting stuff for them to eat.

And it’s hard to explain how dead all of nature was around here, too. The trees had been stripped of their leaves, and there were no birds anywhere in the city. Where we usually have songbirds, tropical birds, wildlife sounds of all kinds, there was only silence. The trees finally resprouted in October or November, only for the leaves to turn brown almost immediately. But instead of falling off of the trees like in a normal year, all of the dead brown leaves stayed attached to the trees until the following spring, when green growth finally came back. It’s like the whole city was a haunted house set for almost a year.

Comparing anything to Katrina is like comparing anything to 9/11.

I think this is a bad time of year for me to talk about this stuff. The 11th anniversary of Katrina is in a few days.

You know, I was living in Dallas during Katrina, and my family, who lives north of Baton Rouge, was not affected. All my understanding of Katrina was from the media; I didn’t actually visit New Orleans until two years or more after the storm.

Reading the details in this e-mail, and knowing how terrible the destruction in the Baton Rouge area is, leaves me slack-jawed to consider the horror of Katrina. This poor state.

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