Rod Dreher

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‘The Rubicon Is A Very Narrow Stream’

The River Rubicon: Julius Caesar’s crossing this small stream changed world history — and he knew it would

Catholic theologian Larry Chapp needs his own blog, where he can publish his thoughtful, challenging comments all the livelong day. Until he has one, let me share with you (he’s given me permission) this letter he just sent me:

One of the interesting things I noticed in reading the responses to my comments you posted yesterday on the Youth Synod was that there were a couple of posts that were basically saying “Oh come on. Stop the hysteria.  Stop the paranoia already”.  These kinds of responses always trouble me the most because I find them most indicative of a peculiarly American cast of mind.  There is a strong intellectual tradition in this country of eschewing metaphysical thinking in favor of a pragmatism that is taken to be “common sense” and as pertaining to “real life” as opposed to the “abstractions” of philosophy, and so on.

But as you and I both know, what counts as “common sense” and “real life” in any given period of time, is greatly modified and influenced by the social constructions of the time.  That is what good propagandists count on.  Very few people think things through to the grounding first principles upon which “real life” is rooted.  That is the essence of metaphysical thinking – – thinking things back to their first principles – – and those who are gifted in such forms of discourse are also adept at understanding what the inevitable “real life” consequences will be once certain first principles are abrogated in the name of some “need”.

I take this form of thinking to be the very soul of the prophet.  A true prophet, both secular as well as religious, is often thought of as a loon by his or her contemporaries.  The average person, caught up in the pragmatism of day-to-day living, just doesn’t see what the prophet sees or why the prophet is raising such a “stink” over such small things.  But what the metaphysical thinker “sees” that others don’t is what will happen down the road if certain principles are violated in the name of some expediency.  It always bracing to remember that the Rubicon is a very narrow stream.

History also shows us that indeed some historical eras are more heavily freighted than others with momentous, “fork-in-the-road” decisions.  That very often, when the form and structure of a particular civilization begins to collapse, that the citizens of that culture are forced by events out of the normalcy of the status quo, out of the illusion of “everydayness as what is real”.  The acedia induced by the noonday devil is precisely designed to make us think that the quotidian is what is truly real and everything else is just alarmist nonsense.

Now, I am not saying that I am a prophet.  Far from it.  But I do think that you and I and those who agree with your analysis of modernity, precisely because we are orthodox Christians who think things through to their logical end, are on to something important.  What we see is that so many foundational principles of human nature, and of its constitutive orientation to fulfillment in God, have been violated by modernity that there are going to be unpleasant consequences that are actually quite easy to foresee.

Richard Weaver’s “witches on the heath” passage from Ideas Have Consequences is the most famous modern conservative statement of this idea.

More Chapp:

Therefore, from my perspective, the biggest problem with the current Youth Synod in Rome is not that there is some grand nefarious plot, engineered by infiltrating Freemasons and demonic illuminati, to bring down the Church.  I will leave such speculations to the loony Right.  Rather, my contention is that the primary sin of this Synod is just its sheer managerial class mediocrity.  It is really just business as usual boredom.  These guys just don’t “get it” or the crisis we face.  They really actually think that the bishops still have credibility.  They really think that the whole world is just waiting around for clerics to now give “young people of today” (talk about abstractions!) “permission” to go to communion regardless of their sexual proclivities.  This is clericalism at its finest, actually.  I look at the Synod and what I see is silliness.  Old men pretending to be “hip” in order to be “relevant”.  And in so doing they show themselves to be a group of unreconstructed refugees from the 60’s and 70’s.  They are not only not fighting the grand reversal of values at work in our culture today, they are actively contributing to it.  And insofar as they are accommodating violations of fundamental first principles concerning human nature, and God, and of the relation between the two, they are irrelevant at best, and complicit at worst.

As I said in my follow up post, the ongoing project of the “reversal of values” is increasing, exponentially, in speed.  It is no longer possible for a Christian to deny this.  And those who do are either being mendacious for ideological reasons, or they are just naive.

If you had told my father 40 years ago that someday pornographers would be lionized in our culture as champions of free speech, but the Boy Scouts would be hounded into submission as homophobic Hitler Youth, he would have laughed you out of the room.  He would have said:  “oh stop it with your theological and religious hysteria already.  Stop your paranoia.  Of course that will never happen.  Get real.”

He isn’t laughing now.

One of this blog’s faithful conservative Catholic commenters observed on the Jill Soloway thread that he wishes I wouldn’t focus so much on the freaks. The thing is, we all have to be aware of how those who control the cultural means of production are redefining normality. My point is not to poke a mocking finger at the freaks, but rather to point out that societal norms are rapidly changing, and that this will have major consequences, especially for social and religious conservatives. I received a kind e-mail the other day from a social scientist who said that as a liberal and an atheist, he disagrees with most of what I write here, but he keeps reading in part because he believes that I have an intuitive grasp of realities that many people don’t yet recognize.

Larry Chapp’s e-mail today might explain why: because I tend to think metaphysically. And, if I’m honest, it might be because of latent Asperger’s tendencies within me. I’ve mentioned before that it runs in my family. I don’t think I would be quite diagnosable, but it wasn’t until one of my own kids received a diagnosis of mild Asperger’s that I began to learn about it, and began to see these traits within myself.

People on the autism spectrum (of which Asperger’s is at the mildest end) have the gift of seeing patterns. In The Big Short, the financial journalist Michael Lewis profiles a young man who made himself a billion dollars by doing a deep dive on market data, and perceiving patterns that others could not see — patterns that predicted a stock market crash. It reminded me of the time I was working for the Templeton Foundation, and visited the late genius investor Sir John Templeton’s personal office in the Bahamas. Someone who had known him then said that Sir John would sit at his desk with the stock pages laid out in front of him, and get into some kind of zone, and make his investment decisions from what he discerned in those sessions. I thought at the time that Sir John was most likely on the spectrum. The insights of non-neurotypicals can seem uncanny, but there’s nothing psychic about it; they just see more deeply than the rest of us do.

If my non-neurotypical offspring were to turn his gifts to stock-picking, his old pop could probably retire in that cottage in Burgundy he’s had his eye on. But that’s not the lad’s calling. In any case, his neurological talents are pretty incredible, though I think he would concede that they can be as much a curse as a blessing.

My father coached my Little League baseball team. He used to laugh about what a tortured player I was. He said, “You were something to watch. When you were in the field, you knew before every pitch where the play would be, no matter where the ball would be hit. But you couldn’t get anybody on the same page with you. Y’all were just little boys. The rest of the team was out to have fun. This tore you up.”

Yes, because as my confessor would tell you, I live in my head. The error is living too much in abstraction. The equal and opposite error is living without the capacity to abstract at all. This is partly where the “Oh come on, stop the hysteria, stop the paranoia” stuff is coming from. Of course it’s also coming from a very human place — from fearful people refusing to see what is right in front of their eyes, because it’s too threatening.

Anyway, pay attention to what Chapp is trying to tell us. What is happening in Rome now, under this papacy, is an attempt to rewrite the basic coding of Catholic Christianity to make it conform to the spirit of the age. I don’t know where any of this goes from this point, but I know that Catholics had better pay very close attention, and watch with great discernment. It’s also worth reading Chapp’s 2013 warning upon Benedict XVI’s resignation.

Some of you might wonder why I’m so fixated on the Roman church, given that I left it 12 years ago, and why I’m not writing about the massive crisis upon the Orthodox world, having to do with schism in Ukraine. Well, for one, I can’t begin to fathom the complexity of the issues at play in the Orthodox crisis. I hate to see schism, but I don’t want to comment on something I truly don’t understand — especially because it has nothing at all practically to do with Orthodox life in this country, thank God. Second, it is a fight about ecclesiology and church jurisdictional boundaries, not about fundamental doctrinal truth. It’s bad, but not a threat to the integrity of the faith.

And third, as I’ve said many times, as goes the Catholic Church, so goes the West. For better or for worse, it is the core institution of Western civilization. From a purely sociological point of view, Orthodox Christianity is nothing in the West. Even Protestantism defines itself as against Catholic Christianity. My Reformed and Evangelical Protestant friends will no doubt disagree, but I doubt that they will have the stability to withstand liquid modernity (I hope I’m wrong). It has long been obvious that huge portions of the Catholic Church in the West have been lost to modernism, but it has been possible to be confident that the core, guarded by Rome, would hold the line.

I don’t think that confidence is warranted any longer. What this means for the future of Catholicism, and of the West, I don’t know.

A German Catholic friend told me recently that he expects the institutional Catholic Church to collapse in his country in the next 20 years or so, and for the Catholic faith in Europe to be carried on within faithful families who immerse themselves in the faith, and who marry among each other. Preparing for that possible future is what The Benedict Option is about. We have to get to know each other now, and build these networks of resistance now. You’ll be happy to know that a potential funder has come forward who might be willing to pay for the building and upkeep of a website whose purpose is Ben Op networking. More on that later; we’re having a meeting this week about it.

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BBC To Identify Haters Within

LGBT ‘Ally’ flag (Yaroslav Melnik/Shutterstock)

This is genius, actually — and exactly what I’ve been saying for years was going to happen. From the Times of London; emphasis below is mine:

BBC staff have been told to use non- binary pronouns when addressing gender-fluid or transgender employees to ensure that the corporation does not develop a “heteronormative culture”.

The policy means that BBC workers will be encouraged to refer to non-binary colleagues as “they” or “them”, rather than “he” or “she”.

The broadcaster will also review its “systems and practices” to ensure that they are inclusive of non-binary genders, and will train managers on how to support transgender staff, especially when they are transitioning.

In addition heterosexual BBC staff will be asked to wear badges identifying themselves as “straight allies” to help their LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) colleagues.

The corporation’s television, radio and news teams are also being told to increase the “incidental portrayal of LGBT identities” in their programmes.

This is about manufacturing reality among the BBC’s viewers, of course, but the really interesting thing about this is how BBC staff are asked to identify publicly as LGBT “allies.” What if you don’t want to do that, for religious reasons, or any other reason? Everyone in the workplace will know that you do not wish to be seen as an “ally.” Even if you treat your LGBT colleagues with total fairness and respect, that will not matter. Suddenly LGBT people and their “allies” will look upon you with suspicion. If you’re not an ally, what are you, an enemy? Stands to reason.

At some point, when it comes time for promotion, you will be asked to explain why you have not declared yourself an “ally” — and if you think this won’t hurt your chances of advancing in your career, you’re a fool.

The BBC has ingeniously designed a policy that, on its surface, is meant to help, but which serves to out those within the organization who aren’t 100 percent on board with the party line. The absence of badges will play the same role as a yellow star on Jews in anti-Semitic Europe: setting apart those within the group that it is okay to despise, because they are tainted with a quality hated by the majority.

Who do you think this is going to harm the most within the BBC? Low-ranking support staff — secretaries, janitors, etc. — who are immigrants from more conservative countries.

I have mentioned on a number of occasions in this space the case of a friend who is a traditional Catholic. He works as a senior manager for a major corporation. He has gays and lesbians on his staff. Says they’re good workers. His professional ethics ensure that he treats them no different from anybody else. He takes that very seriously. For the past few years, the company, which is strongly pro-LGBT, has invited its employees to identify publicly as “allies,” though it hasn’t come to the point of badge-wearing. His policy has simply been to withhold his name from the “allies” list, as a matter of conscience. But he also knows where the corporate culture in his workplace is headed, and is preparing for the day when he is compelled to declare himself an “ally,” or resign.

He trained and got certified for another line of work so he would have something to fall back on if he has to leave the corporation.

From the chapter on Work in The Benedict Option:

In the end, it comes down to what believers are willing to suffer for the faith. Are we ready to have our social capital devalued and lose professional status, including the possibility of accumulating wealth? Are we prepared to relocate to places far from the wealth and power of the cities of the empire, in search of a more religiously free way of life? It’s going to come to that for more and more of us. The time of testing is at hand.

“A lot of Christians see no difference between being faithfully Christian and being professionally and socially ambitious,” says a religious liberty activist. “That is ending.”

True story: a couple in suburban Washington, D.C., approached their pastor asking him to help their college student daughter, who felt a calling to be an overseas missionary.

“That’s wonderful!” said the pastor.

“Oh no, you misunderstand,” said the parents. “We want you to help us talk her out of ruining her life.”

Christians like that couple won’t make it through what’s to come. Christians with sacrificial hearts like their daughter’s will. But it’s going to cost them plenty.

A young Christian who dreams of being a lawyer or doctor might have to abandon that hope and enter a career in which she makes far less money than a lawyer or doctor would. An aspiring Christian academic might have to be happy with the smaller salary and lower prestige of teaching at a classical Christian high school.

A Christian family might be forced to sell or close a business rather than submit to state dictates. The Stormans family of Washington state faced this decision after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a state law requiring its pharmacy to sell pills the family considers abortifacient. Depending on the ultimate outcome of her legal fight, florist Barronelle Stutzman, who declined for conscience reasons to arrange flowers for a gay wedding, faces the same choice.

When that price needs to be paid, Benedict Option Christians should be ready to support one another economically—through offering jobs, patronizing businesses, professional networking, and so forth. This will not be a cure-all; the conversion of the public square into a politicized zone will be too far-reaching for orthodox Christian networks to employ or otherwise financially support all their economic refugees. But we will be able to help some.

Wake up. It’s coming.

UPDATE: Reader The Other Side comments:

I work at what has always been a rather traditional insurance company. Last year all first level managers were asked to put a rainbow “I am an Ally” signs outside their cubicle. I know for a fact not all of them are “ally’s” but obviously you better put that up. While it’s not yet mandatory managers have the option of signing their teams up for unconscious bias training. Also, one of the core skills you can put on your internal resume is “inclusiveness.” The more support you show for LGBTQ+ through various approved activities the more it’s adds to your official internal marketability. I don’t know if that many people take it seriously yet but the idea that inclusiveness is a specifically listed marketable skill means it’s being taken seriously somewhere in the company. To me it looks likes the goal is that in future generations if you don’t support this, you won’t get promotions beyond entry level positions.

I believe they call this your “social credit” score in China.

UPDATE.2: From another reader:

All too familiar. I work at a public university. For the past few years, we’ve all been encouraged to attend “Safe Zone” LGBTQIA+ training sessions as well as sessions on “Racial Justice.” Complete the training and you get a sticker to put on your office door; the “Racial Justice” badge has a little fist and tells people you’re an “activist.” At this point, I’m one of a tiny handful of faculty members who don’t have either badge. (I won’t go to the trainings.) Since this process began, I’ve felt an accumulating coldness from colleagues along with occasional actions that border on harassment. I should point out that my gay colleagues have had no interest in this; it’s the ideologized “non-binary” people who’ve been pushing this regime of trainings and badges.

UPDATE.3: Reader Kevin Davis:

Three years ago, a friend of mine encountered something similar. He works for a major bank, as a statistician, and the director of his team (of a couple dozen or so workers) “asked” everyone to identify as an ally. I think it was meant for everyone’s LinkedIn account. Anyway, he was the only one who refused, not by raising a ruckus but by simply being silent and not doing it. Sure enough, he got called by the director into her office, where he was politely told — albeit not explicitly — that his career was on the line, certainly in terms of promotions, bonuses, and the like. (Or, what happens when the company downsizes and cuts 15% of staff, for example?) Meanwhile, his wife is pregnant with their first kid, and they are buying their first house. He ultimately decided to do it. That was three years ago. This is not a company-wide policy (yet), but I guarantee you that this is happening all over the corporate world.

Yes. Readers, this is eventually going to be almost everywhere. 

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Maps And Legends From The Inklings

Here is something truly wonderful. Next weekend in Wichita (October 19-21), the Eighth Day Institute is having its annual Inklings Oktoberfest, celebrating the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and other members of the informal Oxford literary circle that met at the Eagle And Child pub. The great Ralph Wood will deliver a lecture about G.K. Chesterton as “father” of all the Inklings, and Richard Rohlin will conduct a couple of seminars. 

This year’s Inklings festival coincides with the 30th anniversary of Wichita’s Eighth Day Books, which is the best Christian bookstore on the planet — and I’ll fight the man who doubts me! Three years ago, Mark Oppenheimer of The New York Times profiled the bookstore and its founder, Warren Farha.  The piece gives you an idea about why and how this place is so very special, but trust me, there’s no substitute for being there. If you are anywhere within a day’s drive of Wichita, please make every effort to get to Inklings Oktoberfest. And be sure to leave room in your trunk for all the books you will buy. Eighth Day’s selection is phenomenal.

Here’s a delightful aspect of the October event: an Inklings Cartography Contest. Information:

The field is wide open to create maps from any world within the literature of any of the Inklings. That means your creativity is unlimited, i.e., you need not limit yourself to Narnia or Middle-earth, although those worlds are definitely options.

Maps will be judged in four categories, and each category winner will receive an award:

1) Age 7 and below – Inklings Coloring Book

2) Age 8-11 – The Hobbit and $10 Gift Certificate to Eighth Day Books

3) Age 12-18 – Lord of the Rings (boxed set)

4) Age 18+ – $50 Gift Certificate to Eighth Day Books

Other important information:

Maps must be flat (two-dimensional) and no larger than 11×17 inches
Maps must be hand drawn
Maps should be original, creative, and unassisted
Maps may depict any place within the worlds of the Inklings, but should be illustrated; in other words, use pictures
Drop maps off before Oct 21 at Eighth Day Books during normal business hours or have entries brought to Oktoberfest before 4 pm on Oct 21.

Good luck, mapmakers! Here’s a link to the PDF flyer for the entire festival. Partial view here:


(Partial view of schedule)

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Hollywood’s Mxelangelo

Jill Soloway (Ga Fullner/Shutterstock)

Behold, The New York Times identifies a Renaissance woman entity of our fin-de-everything era. Excerpts:

There were show tunes rolling through the bright, loft-like spaces of Topple, Jill Soloway’s production company on the Paramount lot, just across the street from the Gene Roddenberry building.

The walls, some of them white clapboard, as in a beach house, were decorated with movie posters: there was one of a pulpy, porny 1977 docudrama called, “Born a Man, Let Me Die a Woman,” and of Mx. Soloway’s own work, including “Afternoon Delight,” their directorial feature debut about a bored Silver Lake wife who invites an exotic dancer into her home. (For the last few years, Mx. Soloway has identified as non-binary and prefers the third-person plural pronoun.)

A sign on the bathroom proclaimed, “Every Body,” three times. A glass cabinet was an armory for Mx. Soloway’s trophies, Emmys and Golden Globes for “Transparent,” their groundbreaking Amazon series about a family of three preening, questing and hapless adult siblings whose father has come out as a transgender woman, a plot sparked by the coming-out of their own parent, now known as Carrie (her daughters, Jill and Faith, call her Moppa). There were awards from GLAAD, the LGBT advocacy and media monitoring organization, and from the NAACP.

Soloway has a new memoir out, titled “She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy,” which might be something you can buy for Mrs. Victoria B. Brown to celebrate her release from the straitjacket. More:

“She Wants It” is a coming-of-age and coming out story that is gently comedic, like most of Mx. Soloway’s oeuvre, and interwoven, as its grandiose subtitle suggests, with some gender studies pontificating. (Talking with Mx. Soloway can feel like you’ve wandered into a class taught by Judith Butler, the gender theorist.) It is bogged down with much psychotherapeutic jargon — “Filmmaking was revealing itself to be a permission structure for me to recreate places and moments from my life,” for example — but raised up by Mx. Soloway’s sense of humor and of the absurd.

After the author falls in love with a lesbian while still married, the two enthusiastically make a short comedy about female ejaculation. The Topple crew pitched in, building a giant vagina and helping with costumes. Mx. Soloway calls the film, inevitably, “If You Build It, She Will Come.”

When Mx. Soloway imagined a scenario in which Ali, the youngest Pfefferman, would fall in love with a women’s studies professor, they had the fleeting notion to cast Eileen Myles, the queer essayist and poet (Cherry Jones ended up with the role; Ms. Myles was an extra). Nonetheless, Mx. Soloway found herself on a panel with the poet, and ended up falling in love with her. When Ms. Myles invited her back to her hotel room, Mx. Soloway demurred, worried that she is wearing the wrong bra. On a trip to Paris with Ms. Myles, the couple channeled Jacques Lacan. They watched heterosexual porn, marveled at the tired plots and were moved to write a manifesto declaring that men must be banned from the porn business for 100 years. Instructing an assistant to buy the domain name,, and post the manifesto, Mx. Soloway and Ms. Myles were stunned when it didn’t explode on Twitter. Their breakup was presaged by an episode of “Transparent,” and then re-enacted in a “breakup processing session” at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Read the whole thing, if you can stomach it.

Hey, y’all know that I’m totally Ignatius-at-the-Prytania about stuff like this Mxelangelo dame, but seriously. Seriously. Some of you left-liberal readers criticize me for allegedly picking out the farthest-out weirdos and holding them up as if they represented mainstream liberalism. But look, here is the Times holding up Soloway and her pomps and works as if they were a glorious thing. She — and they — are mainstreaming total madness, branding it as personal and cultural liberation.


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LSU Haka Dad FTW!

Here’s what happened above:

LSU defensive end Breiden Fehoko joined his father for a special tradition ahead of the Tigers’ game against No. 2 Georgia on Saturday.

The junior — who played his first two seasons at Texas Tech before transferring to LSU — is from Honolulu, and his father, Vili, was “Vili the Warrior,” who performed at halftime for Hawaii’s football and men’s volleyball games while dressed as an ancient Polynesian warrior, according to The Advocate in Baton Rouge. It was a way for Vili to share that culture, and the family is doing something similar at LSU, which entered Week 7 ranked No. 13 in the nation.

The Tigers beat the everliving crap out of Georgia today. Wooooooo!

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Francis Abolishing Family Norms?

I would like to hear the context in which the cardinal archbishop of Barcelona made this comment. Perhaps it is less worrying than it seems here — but I doubt it.

Did you ever think you would see the Catholic Church deconstruct and abandon its own fundamental moral tradition on marriage and family as Francis and his team are now doing? It’s happening so fast. Remember what top Francis advisor Father Thomas Rosica wrote recently:

Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is “free from disordered attachments.” Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.

Let the reader understand.

UPDATE: News from the Synod working group headed by Cardinal Cupich of Chicago:

Also, there are many other forms of family other than the nuclear family or the extended family. We had a debate in our small group about non-ideal groupings from the Christian perspective. Does leadership in the Church require bishops and priests to proclaim the Gospel truth by denying that these are families? Or does our leadership require us to accompany the young people in the reality in which they find themselves? Perhaps these are not contradictory realities: St John recounts that Jesus both accepted the woman caught in adultery and proposed something else. Is it possible for us to both accept and even honour the family unit that a young person finds herself in and to share the Gospel ideal to her?

And, Catholic theologian Larry Chapp, in the comments:

I highly doubt that Pope Francis will just flat-out repudiate the Catholic doctrine that marriage is a life long sacramental union of one man and one women for the purpose of mutual support and procreation. For starters…. he can’t. Those are clearly infallible teachings of the Church and if he were to just repudiate them, there would be a schism, without a doubt, and open rebellion to his legitimacy as Pope. Now, maybe that is his end game, but even if it is, the time is not yet ripe for such a move.

Rather, look to the methodology followed in Amoris. Do not openly deny any doctrine, just undermine it in actual pastoral practice by calling for more “discernment” and paying attention to “concrete experiences” and so on.

That is how the Pope will get acceptance of “gay” families in the Church. He will call for pastors to “accompany” such individuals in order to “discern” if they are doing the very best they can to live up to the Church’s “ideals”. And if they are doing their best, to let them take communion, since living the commandments, as Cardinal Kasper said with regard to those divorced and remarried, is only for the “heroic”.

The same approach could also be applied to contraception and co-habitation. The doctrine will be affirmed as an “ideal”, with different individuals falling into a spectrum on how close they are to the ideal. And so long as they are at peace in their own conscience, no matter how poorly formed, then they can go to communion. This will be done under the banner of “pastoral” sensitivity and an opposition to “rigid” rules. The appeal will be to an “inclusive” Catholicism that has a “big tent” that allows for almost everyone to go to communion under the guise of a kind of “gradualism” in moral matters. This view was condemned explicitly by JPII. But heck… that was a long time ago and who remembers that stuff?

The goal is obviously to someday eliminate the doctrine of infallibility completely, and to create practices in the Church that make such behaviors and lifestyles commonplace, so that when the doctrines are eventually changed, nobody will even notice or care. Since the Church does have a Magisterium, in order for the Roman Church to go full-on Episcopalian, you have to first destroy that Magisterium. But that has to be done in steps. And it begins by “allowing” behaviors that the Church has heretofore infallibly said no to. Over time, it will just become obvious to everyone that nobody really believes any of that silly medieval nonsense anymore and the transformation into liberal Episcopalians will be complete.

But why bother with such a ruse? Why not just have Francis publicly repudiate the doctrine of infallibility, change some central moral teachings, and foment a schism letting the chips fall where they may? Why not let the damn homophobic conservatives run off to Orthodoxy or to the schismatic traditionalists? The answer is simple, though shocking. So shocking many will refuse to accept it. Why don’t they just make their move and let the conservatives bolt out the door? Because this gaggle of progressives is demonic. And I mean that in a very real way and not as just a hyperbolic metaphor. What they seek is nothing short of the total annihilation and humiliation of the conservatives by way of a total reversal of values: the good becomes evil and the evil good. They want conservatives discredited as “fringe group” wing nuts so that they cannot even mount a populist revolt from the outside. They want to rob them of any constituency and of any legitimacy. They want them labeled as “bad people”. They want, as the Pope has recently done, to cast their conservative enemies as Satan, and themselves as Jesus. They want the opposition liquidated so that there isn’t even the appearance any longer of a “debate”. They want opposition to gay families and abortion and sexual libertinism to be viewed right up there with opposition to racial equality, thus painting the defenders of traditional morality, not just as “wrong”, but as stupid at best, and evil at worst.

Finally, it is demonic because the end game is a de facto secularist atheism. Naturalism with a religious halo. Worldliness dressed up as “inclusive diversity”. The average person in the pew is unaware that for the better part of the past two centuries the Christian theological guild has, for the most part, reinterpreted Jesus in completely non supernatural categories. This is especially true among scholars of the New Testament. Jesus has been transformed. No longer the second person of the Trinity, Incarnate for our salvation, but rather, now just a protagonist of class warfare on the side of the “marginalized” and in opposition to “power”. And if you are a traditional Christian you are thus categorized as part of that “power” that oppresses.

So faith in Jesus as the Incarnate God comes to be viewed as a form of patriarchal, white male, cisnormative oppression. The faith of our ancestors and of the martyrs, was merely a cipher for hegemonic power and control.

Wake up. I know most people are not theologians and are not knoweldgeable of intellectual and cultural history, but we no longer have the luxury of such ignorance. And part of any Ben Op community must be an education precisely into the richest resources of our Tradition and of the manner in which hyper-modernity (liquid modernity) is destroying them. The situation of any true Ben Op community is not enviable. For we must now labor to preserve our past, not in the face of pagan barbarity, but in a swirling cesspool of post-Christian hatred (a visceral and irrational hatred I might add) and the aforementioned reversal of values. In other words, a true Ben Op community is going to be hated. Vilified. Attacked. Hounded into submission. Just look at the Youth Synod’s little dig at home schoolers for being “ideological”. And our public schools aren’t? Of course they are. But they have a “good” ideology. Homeschoolers have an evil one.

We had better get ready for what is rapidly approaching. Already, in the few short years since Rod published the Ben Op, we have seen things grow exponentially worse. And the brief respite purchased for us by the wretched clown that is Donald Trump, will not last long. Indeed, in my view, it will only create a far worse backlash once he is gone because we will be blamed for him being in power in the first place. We will be the scapegoat.

And because the secular worldview, especially in its emphasis on an empty Epicurean hedonism, is so nihilistic, only unhappiness will follow in its wake. It advocates an impossible marriage with matter, that cannot satisfy, it will create resentment and hostility in an undifferentiated manner … just a general dissipation and acedia of the soul that leads to despair. And that will only make their rage at traditional religious people all the more incendiary.

I wish that these comments at the Youth Synod on marriage were just a mild stupidity by a nobody prelate that we can just dismiss. But we can’t. This IS what these quislings think.

We face a more radical decision in the near future than we think.

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Institutionalizing The Trans Revolution

Giselle Donnelly (via AEI)

Just a note to observe that the transgender revolution is now entering its institutionalization phase, at least among the elites. The Washington Post today sympathetically profiles Giselle Donnelly, a senior national security analyst with the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute. Giselle used to be Thomas Donnelly, who — see here — has had a long career as a national security hawk in policy circles.

This paragraph of the profile jumped out at me. It’s about how Donnelly, having divorced his first wife, met the woman who is now his (her, whatever) second wife: Beth Taylor, a Navy veteran who runs a studio in DC that helps men transition to presenting themselves as female:

Giselle and Beth shared a love of national security, wine, gender fluidity and BDSM. They soon began dating, and last year they were married. Those close to them who missed this time in their lives will soon be able to see it up close and personal. For about two and a half years, a film crew followed them and documented their relationship, along with Giselle’s gender journey.

National security, wine, gender fluidity, and sadomasochism. American as apple pie.


AEI President Arthur Brooks and Vice President for Foreign Policy Danielle Pletka told me their decision to support Giselle was a simple one, since she’s the same person dedicated to the same principles that made her a good fit for the institution all this time. “We are proud that she is part of the AEI family,” they told me.

You cannot get more Establishment Conservative Washington than Arthur Brooks and Danielle Pletka. They are in the Inner Ring. And they ratify Thomas Donnelly having become Giselle Donnelly. You may think this is a wonderful thing, or you may think this is a terrible thing, or you may not know what to think at all. But you must recognize that this event happening at one of the top right-wing institutions in Washington is a very big thing indeed.

UPDATE: Let me explain a little bit more. A regular liberal commenter points out that Donnelly’s strengths as a national security analyst don’t depend on whether or not s/he is transgender or a sadomasochist. Donnelly was interested in gender fluidity and BDSM before transitioning, after all.

Of course that’s true — but beside the point. Only a tiny number of people will ever know who Donnelly is, or care about Donnelly’s work. There were no doubt people within conservative Washington institutions who were interested in gender fluidity and sadomasochism long before Donnelly went public. The point is that the Donnelly transition, and the way it’s being rolled out to the public, is enormously symbolic, and represents a meaningful shift in the Overton Window — that is, what is permissible to talk about and think about.

For one, ours is now a culture in which a predilection for kinky sex is no longer something that one keeps private, out of a sense of shame, or because one feared the judgment of others, but now just a quirky part of one’s identity. This is what happens when the masses read Fifty Shades Of Grey (125 million copies sold) and begin to think of kink as normative. Again, you might think this is a good thing or a bad thing, but the point is, it’s a major cultural shift.

For another, as I say in the headline, the Giselle Donnelly phenomenon represents the institutionalization of the transgender revolution. Think of it: a 65 year old man who has spent his life as a national security hawk working among conservative elites, as a fixture in one of the two most powerful right-of-center think tanks in Washington, now says he’s a woman, and presents himself as such. Those same elites — represented by Brooks and Pletka — embrace his transition uncritically. This signals to the rest of official conservative Washington that this is not only okay, but expected of them. If you are a social or religious conservative who objects to what kinkster hawk Donnelly has done, you are now officially at odds with the leadership of the conservative Inner Ring. You will find yourself marginalized — not openly, not at first, but it’s going to happen, and happen faster than you think.

To be fair, it’s hard to imagine that Brooks and Pletka would have reacted otherwise. On the LGBT front, the culture war has been lost among elites, even conservative elites. This has been true on homosexuality for quite some time, but I didn’t expect it would come so soon on transgenderism. But here we are. Transgenders are now the establishment, holding positions of power and influence inside the right-wing DC power centers, and celebrated in the pages of the establishment newspaper. Giselle Donnelly is the first, you might say, but the Rubicon has been crossed.

Once more, because this is really important: you might think this is a good thing, or a bad thing, or you might not know what to think about it. But you cannot deny that it is a major thing. This will become undeniably clear to most people two or three years from now.

Donnelly, recall, is a national security hawk who works for a hawkish neoconservative think tank. Men and women like Donnelly believe in an aggressive foreign policy. Social and religious conservatives have to understand that the American Imperium whose expansion Donnelly and his colleagues labor to bring about is one in which transgenderism is normalized, and a desire to inflict and receive pain for sexual pleasure is something to be celebrated.

Is that the imperium you wish to shore up? Think of MacIntyre. And think of The Benedict Option,, which I wrote as a guide for conservative Christians puzzled over what to do in the world as we find it today. These neocons are not the friends of social and religious conservatives. Yet they are the establishment.

You had better get that learned.

UPDATE.2: Here’s the trailer for the movie:


Thomas Donnelly, before Giselle (via AEI)

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The Joy Of Sequitur

If you read The Benedict Option, you read about Sequitur Classical Academy, the classical Christian school in Baton Rouge where my kids study, and where my wife teaches. The school has just produced a series of promotional videos, one of which is above. Take a look at it — we are so fortunate to have a school like that here. The other morning at breakfast, my 11-year-old daughter, apropos of nothing, recited the first 20 lines of The Odyssey, which they studied in one of her seventh-grade classes. I mentioned that to her brother, who is in his first year of college, and he said that he’s been amazed by how well classical Christian education prepared him for university studies. In a history survey course, they were studying Greco-Roman history, and he was the only one in his class who had already read Herodotus. Thanks, Sequitur.

If you’re reading this and are in the Baton Rouge area, please consider coming out to our annual Fais Do-Do fundraiser on Saturday November 10. A number of us Sequitur dads are cooking gumbo and jambalaya for a contest. Get your tickets here. I’m planning to cook my late father’s jambalaya recipe, which, no joke, is terrific. If you otherwise would like to support the mission of Sequitur — a 501c3 entity — please donate here. If you would like to know how to start a school like Sequitur in your area, click here.

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Mr. Brown, America’s Most Miserable Man

Maude Findlay (Beatrice Arthur) and her henpecked husband Walter (Bill Macy) ()

A Mrs. Victoria B. Brown of Haverford Township, Pennsylvania, had a moment the other night. As she relates to readers of the Washington Post:

I yelled at my husband last night. Not pick-up-your-socks yell. Not how-could-you-ignore-that-red-light yell. This was real yelling. This was 30 minutes of from-the-gut yelling. Triggered by a small, thoughtless, dismissive, annoyed, patronizing comment. Really small. A micro-wave that triggered a hurricane. I blew. Hard and fast. And it terrified me. I’m still terrified by what I felt and what I said. I am almost 70 years old. I am a grandmother. Yet in that roiling moment, screaming at my husband as if he represented every clueless male on the planet (and I every angry woman of 2018), I announced that I hate all men and wish all men were dead. If one of my grandchildren yelled something that ridiculous, I’d have to stifle a laugh.

My husband of 50 years did not have to stifle a laugh. He took it dead seriously. He did not defend his remark, he did not defend men. He sat, hunched and hurt, and he listened.

He was no doubt thinking, Oh lord have mercy, here she goes again…

For a moment, it occurred to me to be grateful that I’m married to a man who will listen to a woman. The winds calmed ever so slightly in that moment. And then the storm surge welled up in me as I realized the pathetic impotence of nice men’s plan to rebuild the wreckage by listening to women. As my rage rushed through the streets of my mind, toppling every memory of every good thing my husband has ever done (and there are scores of memories), I said the meanest thing I’ve ever said to him: Don’t you dare sit there and sympathetically promise to change. Don’t say you will stop yourself before you blurt out some impatient, annoyed, controlling remark. No, I said, you can’t change. You are unable to change. You don’t have the skills and you won’t do it. You, I said, are one of the good men. You respect women, you believe in women, you like women, you don’t hit women or rape women or in any way abuse women. You have applauded and funded feminism for a half-century. You are one of the good men. And you cannot change. You can listen all you want, but that will not create one iota of change.

That poor man, Mr. Brown. Has no one checked on him?

Mrs. V.B. Brown continues on like that for paragraph after paragraph. She adds:

No man right now understands the flood that is rushing through women’s brains, and only women in the deepest denial have evacuated their minds before the flood could reach them.

Ah. So if you are a woman who doesn’t agree with this elderly retired humanities professor from a small liberal arts college, then you are an idiot.

Read the whole thing. 

It’s just bizarre — bizarre that the author calmed down yet still felt it important to publish what she acknowledges was a “ridiculous” display, something she would have laughed at had it come out of the mouth of one of her grandchildren; and bizarre that the Washington Post would have considered something as berserk as that piece worthy of publication. Of all the op-eds that could have been published from a feminist perspective, they go with a primal scream from an aging member of one of the most privileged cohorts in the country, who says in it that she wishes all men were, um, dead?

If somebody starts a Go Fund Me account to pay for Mr. Brown’s tab at his local bar, I’ll kick in.

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Pro-Abort SJW Assaults Peaceful Pro-Lifer

Gabby Skwarko, a professional Social Justice Warrior, seconds after assaulting a peaceful pro-lifer (Toronto Against Abortion screengrab)

Once again, Social Justice Warriors have violently assaulted peaceful campus protesters. This time, it happened at Toronto’s Ryerson University.

Check this out:

That’s a screengrab from the home page of the Social Innovation Office at Ryerson.

Below, some hands-on learning and social impact facilitated by Gabby Swarko, an assistant at the Social Innovation Office. Swkarko is caught on camera violently assaulting a peaceful pro-life protester. The attack happens at the :44 point.:

Imagine that woman’s boot on your face forever. According to her bio on the Ryerson website, Skwarko is pioneering new ways for voices to be heard:

How is she still employed at Ryerson, this woman who cannot restrain herself from physically assaulting those with whom she disagrees? Toronto police are investigating the case. They’re also investigating the case of Jordan Hunt, a Toronto hairdresser caught on video delivering a roundhouse kick to a female pro-life protester. 

A reader points out the new study showing that an overwhelming majority of Americans are sick of political correctness. 
He said:

You pointed out yesterday that the emperor has no clothes–everyone hates Leftist ID politics and political correctness. Yet, it is so culturally ascendant right now that the elites on the ground (young people in college) feel emboldened to attack thoughtcriminals without provocation.

MLK won the civil rights movement by peacefully protesting–NOT, harassing and menacing Senators or chasing them from restaurants–and then allowing the corrupt culture of racial segregation to respond violently–usually via police. Americans who had never cared about the plight of blacks felt sympathy for them when they saw them attacked, and people began resenting the attackers.

Christians who are pro-life and pro-marriage should think about this. Massive and coordinated demonstrations on campuses will only cause the footage of violence to increase. I suspect this will do more than anything else to win over people in the public.

Great point. Make the Gabby Skwarkos and Jordan Hunts show themselves for what they are, then pass the evidence on to the public. When people — left, right, or whatever — cannot peaceably gather and demonstrate for their beliefs without having to fear being set upon by violent opponents, democracy is under threat.

UPDATE: Look, if all you have to say is an exercise in whataboutism, save yourself the trouble of posting a comment, because I’m not going to approve it.

UPDATE.2: Reader Kurt Gayle:

Katie Somers, the young pro-life woman who was assaulted at Ryerson University, posted this statement on Oct 5, 2018:

“People often ask me why I continue to do pro-life activism in the face of such opposition—sometimes even violence. And it’s because of conversations like the one that I had an hour before I was assaulted at Ryerson. A young man came up to me and I asked him what he thought about abortion. He told me that he used to be pro-choice. I asked him what changed his mind. He said ‘reflecting on the images that you guys bring to campus’ is what changed his mind. He said it really doesn’t look like a clump of cells. And it’s unfair for men to just treat women like objects and expect them to just go and get an abortion. So he said more than change his mind, our signs changed his behaviour. Because he said he no longer treats women like objects. It’s conversations like that that keep me going.”

Katie: Why do I continue in the face of pro-choice violence?

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