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Home/Rod Dreher

Moloch For Moderns

Drag Queen Story Hour 'playfully reading kids into filth' (CBN Screenshot)

At what point are we going to wake up, see what the Left is doing to our children, and fight back hard? From City Journal:

Patricia (a pseudonym) is the mother of a teenage girl who in recent years has come to identify as transgender. She lives in California, considers herself progressive, votes Democrat, and leads a group for parents of children with rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD)—that is, youth who suddenly experience distress with their bodies and believe that undergoing medical “transition” will make them whole again. When I spoke to her recently, she recounted how her daughter’s at-first-lesbian and then trans identity emerged in response to feelings of shame about being white.

I have since spoken to more than a dozen ROGD parents and parent-group leaders who tell a similar story. Their schools compulsively tell their children how awful it is to be white, how white people enjoy unearned “privilege,” how they benefit from “systems” put in place by and for white people for the sole purpose of oppressing “people of color.” Plagued by guilt, the children—almost all of them girls—rush to the sanctuary of “LGBTQ+” identity. Once there, they are catapulted into hero status. According to Patricia, some teachers at her daughter’s school are more forgiving toward “queer” and “trans” kids who hand in their homework late.

The students, especially the girls, absorb this messaging. They are acutely sensitive to how identity affects their social status and academic fortunes. They want the warmth that comes with queer/trans identity, but above all they don’t want to be thought of as vicious oppressors. Lacking maturity and self-confidence, they fail to put “anti-racist” indoctrination in its proper context. They do not appreciate its ahistorical, anti-intellectual, and anti-humanist foundations, nor are they aware of the incentives leading teachers and administrators to foist it on them. Being white is not something these teenagers can escape, but they can mitigate its social costs by declaring themselves part of an oppressed group.

You can’t become a BIPOC, but you can become queer. More:

The information asymmetry between parents and school personnel, I learned from speaking to parent-group leaders, is one of the main reasons concerned parents don’t speak up.

Once a child embraces a new “LGBTQ+” identity, her parents will find themselves powerless to stop what can easily become a swift decline in her mental and physical health. Her school, in addition to fueling her desire to escape “white cis” status, is almost guaranteed to have “affirming” and “inclusive” policies, meaning that it will unquestioningly use her preferred name and pronouns and, in many cases, hide that information from her “unsupportive” parents. An adult at Josie’s school encouraged her son to leave home and take up shelter at an LGBT center. Examples of teachers actively coaching students on how to “socially transition” without arousing suspicion at home, even providing them with chest binders, are not unheard-of. While this may not have the pedophilic connotations of “grooming,” it comes close in its deep antipathy for parental authority and its unilateral usurpation of parental responsibility for sexual education.

In April, parents at GUSD intercepted a private email exchange between top-level administrators after a teacher asked for guidance on how to teach LGBT content to third-graders. Craig Lewis, then in charge of the district’s “Restorative Practices & Positive Behavior Intervention and Support,” wrote that the district must “teach that LGBTQ+ is everybody” and that “we are all probably best described as queer.” According to Jo (a pseudonym), who is fighting for school transparency in the district, parents protested against critical pedagogy indoctrination at a school board meeting, but teachers’ union representatives went around the room videotaping those who spoke out, plainly hoping to intimidate them into silence. A number of parents filed Public Records Act requests to see what was being taught and said to their children at school. To the extent school authorities responded at all, they did so with evasion and gaslighting.

Read it all. Leor Sapir is the author. The attack on children’s psyches is satanic. What kind of country are we going to be living in when these wounded children become adults?

Remember this?

The progressives really are groomers, you know:

More from that academic paper, discovered by James Lindsay:

They want to teach little children to “live queerly.” In this passage, the emphasis is from James Lindsay:

They want to groom children into “queer ways of knowing and being,” and to “[read] each other to filth”. (“Read for filth” is a slang term meaning to gravely insult someone.) There it is. Plain as day. Read Lindsay’s entire thread for more.

Unfortunately, we have to deal with an administration that is totally onside with the Groomer-Industrial Complex. Here’s some good news from Republicans, though:

Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and the Republican Study Committee, a House caucus led by Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.), announced on Wednesday that they would be introducing the Protecting Minors from Medical Malpractice Act in both chambers of Congress this session.

The bill responds to growing concerns over the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgical procedures to alter minors’ physiology and outward appearance. Once signed into law, the bill would allow victims and legal guardians to sue surgeons who perform gender-transition surgeries on minors — or doctors who prescribe them hormone treatments — up to 30 years after the subjects reach the age of majority.

Other provisions would clarify “that federal law cannot be construed to force medical practitioners to offer such procedures” and prevent “federal health funds from going to states that force medical practitioners to perform gender-transition procedures.”

UPDATE:

Follow Libs Of TikTok to get real world news that the media don’t want you to see. For example:

Lots of good reader response to this post. A reader I’ll call “A” responds:

It’s probably the case that a lot of parents are going to be faced with losing a child to some version of this. You’ve seen the statistics with the Zoomers? Propaganda works! It especially works when the entire social order supports it, and anybody who opposes it is treated as a neo-Nazi Klansman. That Hungarian media law you wrote about last year — it was trying to prevent kids being propagandized into hating their bodies and thinking that they need to cut off their breasts or their balls to be whole. This is what the Florida education law was meant to fight. What did we see? The entire media, business, legal, medical and liberal political order come down hard on them as the absolute antithesis of freedom and democracy.

This is true. A second reader — B —  sent me these highlighted screenshots from a Politico piece about the right-of-center Italian politician Giorgia Meloni:

And:

B observes, “A very revealing choice of words: what was mainstream yesterday is ‘radical’ today.”

Yes! This is how the propaganda works! Meloni believes in things that were perfectly mainstream until five minutes ago, but now she’s a problematic radical in the eyes of Politico.

Back to reader “A”:

The woke left is like a missionary religion. It believes all white people should be forced to convert to the successor ideology, and that professing the True Faith should be required to enter into the middle and upper classes in our society. When the right lost the culture war in 2015 [I’m guessing he means Obergefell — RD], the left was free to reshape the culture as it wanted to, and is no longer required to debate the opposition. It is free to crush them.

It’s worth noting how far removed these people are from the traditional concerns of the left. The woke left is totally at peace with globalization, unrestrained capitalism, powerful multinational corporations, the security state, and the oligarch class. Any leftist prior to 1980 would have screamed bloody murder about all of these things. But the woke left treats it like the Ring of Power: they are happy to welcome domination by these powerful elites, as long as the elites guarantee that they never have to worry about some white heterosexual Christian saying something that scares them. James Poulos got it right when he prophesied the coming of the Pink Police State. This is why the modern urban professional classes in Western countries can console themselves for being good leftists even while they embrace a level of inequality, exploitation, marginalization, and warmongering that they would have recoiled from in their youth.

Make no mistake: the woke left literally is coming for our children, and if we don’t hand our kids over, we will be denounced as a bigot covered in the blood of the sacred victim classes, as we had killed them ourselves. I remember when you published The Benedict Option five years ago. Everybody thought is was overly alarmist. Today, we are getting to the point where if you don’t have a Benedict Option community, you are at serious risk of losing your kid to the madness.

This reader, with whom I’ve corresponded before, and who is a military veteran, writes:

When we went to war after 9/11, the government told us that we had to do it to protect our way of life from those who hated us, and wanted to destroy that way of life. Now we have lost two wars, and have lost that way of life. The terrorists didn’t take it from us. It was stolen from us from within.

Even further, all the time, effort, and energy that the right put into “shoring up the imperium” (MacIntyre) and supporting our foreign adventurism would have been far better spent conserving a semblance of our traditional culture at home. Your friend Douthat got it right when he said that the collapse of the Bush administration directly foreshadowed the emergence of Obama as a liberal Reagan, and the subsequent defeat of the right on every social issue in question for the last ten to twenty years. If Republican establishment types (the kind that have learned nothing and forgotten nothing, but is prepared to launch another war, this time in Ukraine) want to know why they are so hated, there you go.

Shame on Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine! That said, I’m not sending my son to fight and die to queer the Donbass and to make Ukraine safe for woke capitalism. Who from abroad can look to what we in the US and the UK (where I am staying temporarily, and boy, wokeness reigns) are doing to ourselves, and see our decadence as a model? The evil of Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin does not make us morally sane, you know.

 

 

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The Cathedral Vs. Yeshiva

Beth Weiss, LGBT student activist at Yeshiva University (Fox 5 New York screenshot)
An academic reader who is religious, but not Christian, writes about this lawsuit that Yeshiva University lost, and plans to appeal, but which will now require it to recognize and financially support an LQBTQ club on campus.
A New York judge ruled that Yeshiva is not a religious institution. Can you imagine? From the NYT:

Yeshiva was represented in the lawsuit by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a high-profile public-interest legal and education firm based in Washington, D.C.

Eric Baxter, the vice president of the Becket Fund and the lead attorney on the case, said the judge’s semantic analysis had led to an “obviously mistaken” ruling that missed the forest for the trees.

“Courts don’t get to quibble over whether you said enough in your article of incorporation about your religious character,” Mr. Baxter said. “That is contrary to clearly established case law that says courts don’t get to second-guess a religious institution’s religious activities when its religious characteristics are plain and obvious.”

He added: “There are few religious institutions of higher education that are more religious than Yeshiva.”

Mr. Baxter shared documents in court that illustrated how religion shapes Yeshiva’s operations, including a policy that encourages students to undertake intensive religious studies in Israel, with 80 percent doing so; a requirement that male students spend between one and six hours a day studying the Torah; and another policy stipulating that every door on campus must show a mezuza, a traditional religious item.

Yeshiva also said that student government officers are instructed to help the administration “maintain the religious atmosphere on campus” and that student clubs and other activities are reviewed for “religious compliance.”

“Nobody goes to Yeshiva University thinking they are getting a strictly secular education, and courts cannot get into the business of saying, ‘Well this isn’t religious education, this is secular education,’” Mr. Baxter said.

This is a completely bizarre ruling. How willfully blind do you have to be to say that Yeshiva is not a religious institution? Something tells me that the judge had her mind made up before the first arguments were heard. Another thing that ticks me off is that LGBT rights are widely accepted and celebrated in nearly every college and university in this land. Yeshiva is one of a relative handful of institutions of higher education where people who choose to attend do not have to violate their religious consciences by burning a pinch of incense to the LGBT Caesar. But the Grand Inquisitors of the new religion will not tolerate any dissent. Their god is a jealous god. LGBT has been baptized by capitalism and is now one of the Blessings Of Liberty™ that the United States must establish firmly here, and export like cultural imperialists missionaries the world over. The consequences of this activism are completely and totally irrelevant. The loss of traditional liberties, and the crushing of religious believers who do not submit, don’t matter, as long as the Narrative is locked in. We should have learned this long ago with the general indifference towards inner-city violence that would be national news if it happened in the suburbs.

Anyway, my correspondent writes, about the Yeshiva verdict, “I don’t need to tell you how catastrophic this ruling could be for religious higher educational institutions.” More:
This particular ruling seems to have hinged on a technicality — in 1967, Yeshiva amended its charter to call itself an educational institution. Of course, it has never stopped being religious, and presumably its administration and trustees took for granted that this was widely accepted and uncontroversial; after all, their name is Yeshiva. Since I am a higher education administrator, I know how decisions are made inside universities —  most likely, back in 1967, the amendment to the charter allowed Yeshiva to apply for federal grants and funding that might not have been available to it otherwise. Somewhere in a filing cabinet the minutes of the meeting where that decision was made may exist. Or they may not. Now, here they are.
This ruling terrifies me more than anything that’s happened in this space recently. If religious people are to ever follow the Benedict Option and make a strategic retreat from secular institutions, we will need religious higher educational institutions, and not just Christian ones. We need Yeshiva, we need a Muslim equivalent, we need a broad array.
I’m actually not opposed to LGBTQ+ clubs on public university campuses like mine. We are state-funded and we need to treat RUF, Hillel, the atheist clubs, the Muslim Students Association, the LGBTQ clubs, and every other one, equally. We are bound by the First Amendment.
But this Yeshiva ruling is an unprecedented assault on religious freedom. I despise Donald Trump, I voted for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, but today I hope this case gets to the Supreme Court quickly, and thank God for Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett. (I’m still a little queasy about Kavanaugh….)
I say this knowing that resting my hope in politicians or judges is a form of defeat. I’m a professor, I know that culture eats strategy for breakfast. Fighting the lawsuit may be a bulwark — or may just be buying time.
Yes, I was never a Trump fan, though I did not vote for either Democrat. But I have been come to be grateful to Trump for those SCOTUS picks, and have recognized that if not for Trump, religious liberty would be in much worse trouble today.
We have to do the best we can. There is ultimately no political solution to this cultural and civilizational crisis. But politics can keep the space open for us to create and spread the cultural and religious solutions. Politics are not sufficient to address the crisis, but they are necessary. What the LGBT plaintiffs are doing to Yeshiva is bullying, and I’m sick and tired of it. If and when the backlash comes, they will deserve it. Circa 2005, the naïfs used to say, “How does my neighbors’ gay marriage hurt me?” People like me tried to explain, but they didn’t want to hear it. Now gay marriage is popular, and it’s not going away — but people who don’t accept this ought to be able to have their own spaces and institutions where they can be faithful to their religious beliefs. Many LGBTs and their fellow travelers won’t have it.
Here in Britain, where I’m staying for the moment, there is a bill in Parliament that would ban “conversion therapy” — the attempt to treat someone who is LGBT to help them deny or get rid of those desires. The Tory government wants to ban LGB conversion therapy — including religious prayers! — but leave transgenders out of it. Others, including some Tory MPs, insist on including trans people. One amazing thing about this is that a priest, pastor, rabbi, or imam who prayed with a believer who did not want to have L, G. B, or T desires would, if this thing passes into law, be a criminal.
Put another way, it’s perfectly legal now to practice therapy to convince someone to accept and to act on same-sex attraction, or the feeling that they are of the opposite sex, but one would not be able to do the opposite. Conversion therapy for me (against moral and religious tradition), but not for thee.

The Culture War is really a War of Religion. We are fighting Moldbug’s Cathedral, which, if you don’t know the concept, read this:

I notice more people using this label, which I coined a long long time ago, and have always had ambivalent aesthetic feelings about. I used a capital C, but I see more of the miniscule and I think it’s better.

“The cathedral” is just a short way to say “journalism plus academia”—in other words, the intellectual institutions at the center of modern society, just as the Church was the intellectual institution at the center of medieval society.

But the label is making a point. The Catholic Church is one institution—the cathedral is many institutions. Yet the label is singular. This transformation from many to one—literally, e pluribus unum—is the heart of the mystery at the heart of the modern world.

The mystery of the cathedral is that all the modern world’s legitimate and prestigious intellectual institutions, even though they have no central organizational connection, behave in many ways as if they were a single organizational structure.

Most notably, this pseudo-structure is synoptic: it has one clear doctrine or perspective. It always agrees with itself. Still more puzzlingly, its doctrine is not static; it evolves; this doctrine has a predictable direction of evolution, and the whole structure moves together.

The Cathedral is now every institution in modern Western life. Mostly what’s left to us devotees of rival religions is guerrilla warfare and subversion. Let’s get on with it. In the meantime, understand that we are fighting for our right to exist, and that if that means voting for political candidates we find distasteful, but who will stand up for us when the more respectable ones will not, then we have no choice to be vote for our allies.

UPDATE: A religious liberty lawyer writes:

For years, lawyers at Alliance Defending Freedom, Becket, and First Liberty Institute advised religious universities to expressly define their Religious Beliefs on sexuality — in Articles of Incorporation, Statements of Faith, Employment Handbooks, etc. Time and again, lawyers like us were thwarted by (1) the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) and (2) General Counsel educated at elite law schools. These risk-averse Establishment attorneys instead recommended that Christian colleges “hide” their beliefs to evade detection, to avoid “painting a target” on their back.
Yeshiva lost, in part, because the university failed to expressly define and consistently enforce their Sexual Ethics. Another Live Not By Lives lesson: Ignore risk-averse elite counsel who are addicted to mainstream prestige and desperate to remain in the commanding heights. They will rationalize and advise assimilation when “set apart” distinctiveness and faithful practice is the better course.

This is smart. I remember over a decade ago being told, in explicit terms, by an ADF lawyer that Christian schools had better be VERY explicit about their beliefs on sexual orientation and gender identity, and enforce those beliefs. A court is not competent to sort out theological views on sex and sexuality, but it will look to see if the institution has explicitly stated its views, and enforced them in practice.

So, for example, if Heritage Home Christian School (a made-up name) has not explicitly written down in its charter, and in the statement that it makes parents sign before enrolling their kids, that the school believes that marriage is between one man and one woman, exclusively, and that it believes homosexuality is sin, and so forth, it is leaving itself wide open to a lawsuit — and it’s likely to lose.

If Heritage Home Christian School puts all that in its documents, but doesn’t enforce it when challenged, it will lose. I know of a real-life case in which a Protestant Christian school headmaster and his board were struggling over how to handle a situation like that. They wanted to tolerate the daughter of an out lesbian couple who enrolled her there, because they wanted the child to be exposed to the Gospel, but they also worried that by doing so, they were setting themselves up for a lawsuit down the road.

In a different case, I talked with a Catholic lawyer who was critical of the then-bishop of his diocese dismissing out gay students and faculty from Catholic school. I told the lawyer that if the bishop didn’t do that, courts would eventually force the schools to violate Catholic teaching, because the bishop didn’t enforce it. This lawyer agrees with Catholic teaching, but thought it was better to err on the side of compassion. That is exactly the kind of thing that the woke left will use to destroy any opposition to SOGI.

UPDATE.2: Reader Nachum1 comments:

If I may contribute a few points, as a proud Yeshiva alum:

1. The change was made in 1970. There was a *huge* debate within the university over it. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the leading light of the institution, gave a famous speech (“I see ghosts”) condemning it, and most of the rabbinic instructors did as well. My father (also an alum, and an ordinee of Yeshiva’s seminary) remembers people warning that the Ivies also started as religious institutions and look what happened.

Various assurances were given, various aspects worked into the system, and things calmed down. (The date “1970” actually appeared on the seal of one of the schools for a while, but it was eventually removed, because it meant nothing.) I don’t think any of those protesters in 1970 had any tiniest inkling that this is what would happen. Their concerns were more about what would happen to the school- which, as it happened, changed not one bit- than what it would be *forced* to do. (Incidentally, the school, if anything, became far more *committed* religiously, for reasons that didn’t have to do with the change in status.)

2. You understate the extent to which YU (as it’s called) is a religious institution. No one takes one hour of religious studies a day. Most students take about six or seven, and spend the rest of the day earning a regular BA in their field of choice. I spent four years on campus and finished with 180 credits (a typical BA in other institutions is 128), of which about 90 were in Jewish studies- and I was in a program that was on the low end of that scale. I would estimate that for many students the total would be 100 or more out of 200. Evening Talmudic study is optional and yet the study halls are packed with students participating. Over ten percent of the male undergrads go on to be ordained. The school is completely non-co-ed- the men’s and women’s campuses are on opposite ends of Manhattan, about ten miles apart. (There was even a revolt of the rabbis when a proposal was made that the women’s campus be moved a few blocks away.) YU doesn’t have any religious test for admission, but the undergraduate student body is 100% Jewish and close to that percentage Orthodox. (This is mostly a practical result: Anyone who can get into YU, which is a pretty good school, can get into an equally good- and probably cheaper- school without all these requirements. See below.) Even the graduate schools- whose student bodies are a large majority non-Orthodox and non-Jewish- serve, by rule, only kosher food at all events and are completely closed on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Etc. etc.

3. What really needs to be stressed here is the absolutely totalitarian character of all this. Take a look at the plaintiffs in the case. One guy is a completely straight “ally”, no longer in the school. (When I dared make some point against this, the guy actually went rummaging in the paper archives of the school newspaper and found a letter I wrote *thirty* years ago in an attempt to cancel me.) One is anonymous. And one is “queer”- which of course can mean anything, and nothing- and is also no longer in the school. And…that’s it. Any sensible court following long-standing Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence would have thrown this thing out immediately for lack of standing.

As you point out, Rod, there are thousands of institutions of higher learning in the US. These kids could have gone to *any* of them. They knew *exactly* what they were getting when they applied to YU. And if they didn’t, they were free to transfer somewhere else in the middle of their schooling. (The vast majority of even Modern Orthodox kids in the US don’t go to YU but to various state schools like CUNY or SUNY or Rutgers or Maryland.) And even if they didn’t…so they didn’t get funding (this is, of course, all about official recognition and funding: The kids can make whatever club they want, YU is a pretty free place) for a club representing their perversions. So what? Would that be their worst tragedy? The gayest parts of the United States are a short subway ride from YU’s campuses. And there are of course rules at YU about numbers of people needed per club, and I doubt they’d meet them. But no, the totalitarian impulse here means that every knee must bow, as Jews say in their prayers three times a day in a very different context.

Back when I was an undergrad, there was an attempt to open a branch of AEPi, the national Jewish fraternity, at YU. YU, by policy, has no Greek life, and so they opened it in an off-campus apartment. One of the rabbis gave a speech to the student body (something like half the undergrads chose to attend) decrying the very nature, not to mention the practical realities, of Greek life. (Because YU is some place, he- one of the more conservative of the rabbinical faculty- delivered part of the speech in Latin, a language he’d majored in when he himself had gone to YU.) I remember well a point he made: In the afternoon service of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, the reading from the Bible is the portion of Leviticus dealing with incest and other forbidden sexual relations. “Why?” he asked. “Wouldn’t you think that no one is actually thinking of forbidden sex at that moment and in that place? But no: Satan isn’t happy tempting us in any random place on any random day. He *has* to do it on the holiest moment in the Holy of Holies itself!” So too, he said, debaucheries can’t just take place in the other 5,999 universities in the US. They have to be imported into Yeshiva itself.

(His fears proved exactly right, by the way. There was a rape scandal, and the AEPi chapter was closed. A few years later, a chapter was opened again, and promptly suffered the same exact fate. The current iteration pretends none of that happened. The school has never recognized any of them.)

Jews are supposed to be a “light unto the nations.” I hope my alma mater fights this thing all the way to the top and, you never know, maybe starts a revolution against all the Woke horribleness.

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View From Your Table

Paris, France

 

I haven’t done one of these in ages, but this one — well, it’s one for the ages! The reader writes:

For years I had considered myself a foodie (I no longer prefer the moniker not because I don’t love good food and drink but because I don’t wish to make idols of such things).  Even so there were some foods I eschewed… such as oysters.  Meanwhile my favorite author (our working boy) wouldn’t shut up about them.  One fateful day on the Gulf Coast I tasted and saw that they were good!

Eight years later I finally had the chance to visit Rod’s mecca: Huitrerie Régis.  Be advised, dear Reader, that reservations are in fact required these days.  But thankfully we could still order a few dozen to go.  We carried our precious cargo to the banks of the Seine and voila!  I must admit after a long walk I had begun to doubt if it would prove worth the effort.  But these were indeed the best oysters I’ve ever tasted.  Deliciously briny up front with mind bogglingly sweet flesh.  Thank you Rod for leading me down the path!

The reader, a Californian, sent me a short iPhone video of the meal, taken on the banks of the Seine, with lilting jazz music. I know my work here on this planet must be done, because I died and went to heaven, and am posting this from the great beyond.

Régis retired, and passed on the shop to new owners, but the quality is undiminished. Unless they have a new policy, you can’t make reservations; you just have to show up and wait. Readers, it’s worth it — but also a delight to take the oysters to go, and walk over to the Seine. Make sure to have a bottle of cold, dry white wine.

What are YOU eating this summer?

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DeSantis Vs. Hated GOP Establishment

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (Source

This part of the New Yorker‘s profile of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is saying the quiet part out loud:

For decades, the Democratic Party had commanded a majority of Florida’s registered voters. But the state was changing, as Trump’s election helped energize a shift in political affinities. The Republican Party’s rank and file became increasingly radical, and G.O.P. leaders appeared only too happy to follow them. “There was always an element of the Republican Party that was batshit crazy,” Mac Stipanovich, the chief of staff to Governor Bob Martinez, a moderate Republican, told me. “They had lots of different names—they were John Birchers, they were ‘movement conservatives,’ they were the religious right. And we did what every other Republican candidate did: we exploited them. We got them to the polls. We talked about abortion. We promised—and we did nothing. They could grumble, but their choices were limited.

“So what happened?” Stipanovich continued. “Trump opened Pandora’s box and let them out. And all the nasty stuff that was in the underbelly of American politics got a voice. What was thirty-five per cent of the Republican Party is now eighty-five per cent. And it’s too late to turn back.”

Read it all. 

Jeremy Carl is right about the GOP establishment, though I think the NYer piece, though clearly hostile to DeSantis, is worth reading:

Last night I got this text stream from a sophisticated conservative friend back in the US (I changed it slightly to hide his identifying details]:

Having spent a week hiking and rafting in the highways, byways, and towns along or near the Appalachian Trails and river ways, I have a greater appreciation for the Great Disintegration underway in these (Dis)United States:

1. The Blue Collar tradesmen who once formed the backbone of the Democratic Party distrust and HATE the “symbol manipulators” in the coastal Commanding Heights of NYC, Boston, LA, and Palo Alto.

And it is more cultural than political: Republican Romney is despised as much as Democrat Hillary.

The Deplorables are in the verge of revolt — and many are Hispanic business owners who hold to the Old Ways, which explains the Red Wave in South Texas.

2. JD Vance accurately described the disintegration of Hillbilly families wrought by globalization, cohabitation, pornography, and drugs.

I mentally assented to the concept, but was largely insulated from the physical consequences while living in [a major metropolitan area].

Our elites have callously destroyed Middle America and most of these unmarried men will never become computer coders.

Andrew Yang is correct: we better have a game plan for working class Middle Americans who once worked in factories, drove trucks, or served in the military / law enforcement.

No unequal civilization can survive this many “lost boys” addicted to booze, meth, and porn.

3. Racism explains much of the Past, but not much of the Present and probably nothing of the Future.

Hillbillies are still predominantly white, but intermarried, integrated, and organized by regionality and culture — not race.

Main Street [of one town where I vacationed] features Filipino shopkeepers selling NASCAR paraphernalia to whites married to Korean women wearing Harley Davidson leathers and MAGA hats.

CRT does not resonate here because everyone has relatives of every color.

The Great Realignment is underway.

Not since the 1890s have the parties endured such a tectonic shift in constituent loyalties.

David French is laughably wrong: champagne and caviar Think Tank classical liberalism is dead.

Dead, dead, dead.

If Republicans do not jettison The Donald AND the C-Suite Donor Class, we are headed for a Bull Moose moment.

DeSantis 2024

Interesting, the comment about Trump and the GOP donor establishment, linking them both as drags on the Right. I get the point: that the situation is becoming desperate for the kind of people Trump claimed to speak for, and they can’t tolerate another leader who says what they want to hear, but who does not, or who cannot (because of his own personal limitations), do anything substantive to help them. This is why I keep saying we don’t need the Return of Trump; we need an American Viktor Orban: a cunning politician who understands the nature of the fight in front of us, and who knows how to use power to advance the interests of his voters, against institutions captured by the Left.

I sense that the political and cultural moment is more radical than standard Republican politicians think. The other day here in England, I was in a supermarket, and saw a young guy, maybe late twenties or early thirties — stocking shelves there who looked like a plumber — an ordinary working class dude. But then I took a second look, and saw he had breasts, and his ponytail was tied off with a ribbon, and he had done his nails. An English friend who shops there said that’s a male-to-female transgender, a veteran of the British Army.

Obviously I don’t know a thing about that man and his history, and his problems, but it seemed so unbelievably sad. He doesn’t remotely look like a woman; he looks like a plumber with acne scars and boobs. He will never look like a woman, and never learn to move like a woman. What happened to this poor Englishman, a military veteran, to turn him into that? What turned him against his own body, against his own manhood? What kind of society have they created here (and we have done in the US) that celebrates this poor man’s self-destruction as liberation? What happens when ordinary men and women see the sons and daughters of their neighbors turned into that, and are told that they had better approve of it, or else?

That poor shelf-stocker is a condensed symbol for what has happened to the West. The elites who control our institutions in the West are all down with this civilizational suicide. Watch this idiocy from the US Navy. This is why I thank God that my strapping, weightlifting, big-hearted son chose to go to trade school and learn auto mechanics instead of entering the military, as he used to want to do:

Get me a presidential candidate who will end this bullsh*t and fire every damn general and admiral who brought this corruption into the Armed Services, and I’ll vote for him with no hesitation. Whatever else might be said about Ron DeSantis, he stood up to Woke Capitalism and the media, for the sake of protecting the children of Florida, at a time when most national GOP politicians kept their mouths shut. I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in Republicans whose point in life is to make the poison pill go down easier. Mac Stipanovich and I are on the opposite side of this issue, but he’s right about this: “It’s too late to turn back.”

UPDATE:Like I said:

New documents exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital reveal that the U.S. Army is teaching West Point cadets critical race theory (CRT), including addressing “whiteness.”

Fox News Digital exclusively obtained the documents from government watchdog group Judicial Watch, whichhad to sue the military twice under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get the information.

“Our military is under attack – from within,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in the press release. “These documents show racist, anti-American CRT propaganda is being used to try to radicalize our rising generation of Army leadership at West Point.”

Here’s one of the West Point slides:

 

UPDATE.2:Michael Brendan Dougherty on Stipanovich, the slimy GOP operative quoted in the piece. Excerpt:

Stipanovich is speaking for a type in American politics that we’ve seen over and over again at the very top: the cynical consultant who just wants to get his secretly or not-so-secretly moderate Republican over the line so we can cut taxes, bomb Islamic nations, and get a few good rounds of golf in — damn the hippies and the snake-handlers. This is the type of person that ran the McCain campaign and the Romney campaign into the ground. The only success this type ever had in politics was George H. W. Bush, and only because he was riding in after Ronald Reagan and running against Michael Dukakis. Nixon and George W. Bush had these types on staff, but they also had “movement conservatives” around. Because each of them understood that a party needs a lot of invites.

This type thinks they got the best of the religious Right and “movement conservatives.” They made their money, won a few elections, and get to go home, and now the New Yorker calls them up to get them to trash people they believed were marks and mooks.

I think the exploitation works both ways in politics. Stipanovich wanted the votes and to do nothing. But by forcing his candidates to “talk about abortion,” by forcing them to “promise and do nothing,” we used them to normalize the idea that Republicans should talk about abortion and should do something about it. Over time, that pays dividends. In fact, we used them so well that we forced Donald Trump, a guy who did cameos in pornography, to put three anti-Roe justices on the Supreme Court.

Thank you for your service to the cause, Stipanovich. Enjoy your golden years, and go to hell grateful that we found something you could be used to do.

Amen. I’ve had it with these rotten people.

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Saving Calvin

Pro-LGBT students at Calvin University (Source)

Last week, the Christian Reformed Church, the denomination that controls Calvin University, stood in front of the woke train yelling, “Stop!” — and they stopped it! :

The Christian Reformed Church, a small evangelical denomination of US and Canadian churches, voted Wednesday at its annual synod to codify its opposition to homosexual sex by elevating it to the status of confession, or declaration of faith.

The 123-53 vote at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, caps a process begun in 2016 when a previous synod voted to form a study committee to bring a report on the “biblical theology” of sexuality.

The vote, after two long days of debate, approves a list of what the denomination calls sexual immorality it won’t tolerate, including “adultery, premarital sex, extra-marital sex, polyamory, pornography, and homosexual sex.”

“The church must warn its members that those who refuse to repent of these sins—as well as of idolatry, greed, and other such sins—will not inherit the kingdom of God,” the report says. “It must discipline those who refuse to repent of such sins for the sake of their souls.”

But 190 delegates to the synod spent the preponderance of time debating homosexuality, with many warning that passage of the so-called Human Sexuality Report and elevating its teachings to the status of confession would alienate LGBTQ people as well as younger generations of CRC members who have a different understanding of sexuality.

“This motion harms LGBTQ people, harms the church’s witness, and naming this as confession will have disastrous consequences for people and institutions,” said one delegate to the synod who voted against the motion.

The vote will also have profound consequences for its flagship university, Calvin. In December, one-third of Calvin faculty signed a letter expressing concerns about the Human Sexuality Report, and some are now expected to leave. Faculty at Calvin University must sign a document saying they align with the historical creeds and confessions of the Christian Reformed Church.

In response, one of the brightest lights of post-Christian Christianity has taken her stand. Excerpts:

This week has been filled with conversations among members of the CRC and Calvin faculty, staff, and students. Beautiful and heavy conversations. I’ve wept with parents of LGBTQ kids who are heartbroken and distraught that there is no place for them in our church. I’ve thought of the Calvin history student who was queer, who took her own life two years ago. I think of her often, and of others I can name, and for whom I fear. I’ve checked in with colleagues to see who is staying (for now) and who is planning to go. I’ve listened to current students discuss the possibilities of getting out of their leases for the coming year so they can transfer. I’ve listened to the struggles of a celibate gay pastor in our denomination who feels he belongs nowhere in all of this. I’ve watched the gloating of some in the denomination who have gotten their way who cannot disguise their eagerness to purge the church and the college of their fellow believers. I’ve watched others who also got their way struggling to come to terms with what they’ve accomplished.

For a sense of what has been done, I suggest reading the poignant words of my good friend Heidi De Jonge. (We’ve been friends since our flannel-shirt-and-baggy-jean-wearing days at Dordt College back in the 90s.)

This is who they are purging. This is what they have accomplished.

My own local Christian Reformed Church offers a glimpse at what this looks like on the ground. We have LGBTQ members who worship with us and who minister among us. We have many LGBTQ children, our covenant children, whom we’ve promised to guide in their faith as part of their baptismal vows. We have members who hold to traditional views of sexuality, particularly among our many immigrant members who attend our Basic English service.

These differences, however, have not interfered with the unity we have found in Christ—through the Word and the sacrament, through our common confession of faith across many languages, through our love for each other and ministry to one another. And so it is with great grief that our church now faces the possibility of this rare and beautiful thing unraveling.

Read it all.

I read De Jonge’s words, and they are moving and emotional … but totally disconnected from Biblical truth and tradition. Totally. Christians who chuck sexual teaching are going to end by chucking Christianity. It is a bright, clear line — whether the Du Mezes of the world realize it or not (and they don’t).

What’s going to happen to Calvin? It’s going to lose its rock star faculty. But it’s probably going to remain Christian. These liberal faculty are going to go on to greater things, professionally, and be able to dine out on how they were badly treated by the homo-hating fundagelicals at Calvin. But the CRC has taken a brave and unpopular stand for the Gospel. God sees.

UPDATE: Reader Andrew S.:

The momentary rush of conservative enthusiasm for this move will please Rod’s readers, but the fury of the left will be in full force over the next several weeks and months. Any university board contemplating a similar move better should study what will likely happen, and plan accordingly for a media siege of their institution. Watch for the following:

1) a sudden drop in college rankings, unattributable to any objective criterion currently used by the major ranking media;

2) a tsunami of requests, using already existing anonymous online reporting portals, for Biden’s Department of Education to open Title IX investigations at the universities in question;

3) calls by social media talking heads to blacklist graduates of the schools;

4) a sudden mysterious dearth of available federal and private grant money for faculty at these schools, along with the denial of conference platforms for faculty members.

Financial pressures are such that many if not most religiously-affiliated schools will quickly develop new “insights” into the Bible that permit them to cave in to the left, if they haven’t already. Board members sticking to Christian principles better raise prodigious sums of cash to plow into their endowments and strengthen ties with allied Christian schools to bolster their financial self-sufficiency. Woke winter is coming, and Calvin will provide an example of what other colleges should expect.

UPDATE.2: A reader is not optimistic:

I read your column on the Christian Reformed Church and Calvin with interest. I was in the CRC most of my life and served as an elder in that denomination. I am also a fourth generation Calvin alum and still have a child there. Most of my family is still associated with both institutions.

I saw the recent CRC synod actions and thought they were notable, but I’m not as optimistic as some that this portends some great stemming of what has been a rapid declension in orthodoxy that denomination has been pursuing since the 80’s. I would point to the following as counter-points:
1) The statement on human sexuality that was ultimately endorsed and made confessional is fairly weak by historical standards. It is loaded with significant exceptions and concessions. It is nowhere near a full throated defense of traditional Christian sexual ethics. I was relieved  by the headlines when it was first published, but then very disappointed when I actually read it.
2) The fact that so many openly oppose and defy it, and that even Calvin University rushed out a letter essentially stating that they don’t agree with it, find it harmful and plan to slow-roll any potential adoption of it speaks volumes about what is going on in the rank and file as well as the institutions associated with the denomination. Earlier this same year, when some students created a firestorm by even suggesting that same-sex orientation was sinful, Calvin was quick to reassure nervous parents that they stood by the denominations positions on the matter. The tune has changed in a matter of months.
3) An anecdotal point. Nearly every CRC member I know (and I know many) is shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, that Synod did this and fully intend to ignore it and keep right on with what they are doing.
As we have seen with many other denominations (look at the recent history of the RCA, for example), statements mean little without action. After all, this statement was essentially re-iterating what the church says they already believe – but the fact that no pastors or elders are being disciplined, no churches are being censured or leaving tells you everything you need to know. Without teeth, the statement means little and will probably be the catalyst that finally destroys the uneasy coalition the CRC has become with progressives tolerating some rural more conservative brethren.
I hope and pray it is not so, but the majority of self-identifying conservatives left the denomination long ago, so all that really remains is progressives and the squishy middle who doesn’t like being accused of being haters. If there is no will or process to expel those in open defiance of their vows, then this is just the dying gasp of the remnant of orthodox believers there. If they don’t have the votes and networks to fight the bear they just poked, the bear will now proceed to devour them without remorse. Perhaps the bear will deign to permit them a “graceful separation” with some of their property in the future.
“Any institution that is not explicitly conservative will eventually become progressive”.

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Of Sovereigns And Drag Queens

With Jon Morgan outside of King's College, Cambridge

One of the great things about being marooned in England now while my Schengen visa is sorted out is that I get to spend more time with some great Christian folks I met last week. One of them is Jon Morgan, a graduate student at Queens’ College, within Cambridge University. Jon is an African-American — that is, he and his family emigrated to the US from South Africa when he was a boy. He’s involved with the Trinity Forum here at Cambridge, and came to my talks last week. Last night I saw him again at a Trinity Forum garden party. We got to talking about Orthodox Christianity, and I invited him to come to liturgy with me this morning at St. Clement’s church.

So he did. After services, we went for breakfast, and we talked about the religious situation in the West. Afterward, Jon wanted me to see Queens’, so we walked there. It’s one of the oldest colleges at Cambridge, founded in 1448 by Queen Margaret (of Anjou), wife of Henry VI, founder of King’s. (The Queens’ orthography reflects the “refounding” by Margaret’s successor and rival, Elizabeth, wife of Edward IV, who deposed Henry in the War of the Roses.)

Jon said that Queens’ is the best-preserved medieval college. He took me to the study room that was once home to Erasmus, one of the most famous alumni of the college. Here is the view from Erasmus’s room. The quad looks exactly as it would have to Erasmus’s eyes — and yes, the grass really is that green:

Here is Erasmus’s room, from the back quad. That’s it, the little window in the center:

 

Walking with Jon through Queens’, it was so touching to hear how passionate he is about his college. He has a deep sense of stewardship. I noticed at one point that he would touch wooden beams when he would talk about how these ones are original to the 15th century. “You like to put your hands on history, don’t you?” I said. He smiled, and said yes, he loves this place, feels honored and privileged to be studying here, and feels a deep urge to take care of what he has been given. We sat by the riverside for a bit and talked about how hard it is to get modern people to care about these things.

After we parted, I walked back to the house where I’m staying outside of Cambridge, and I thought about how badly our civilization needs men (and women) like Jon Morgan. He struck me as strong but humble, and with a sense of vision that is uncommon in his generation, and in our society at large. Maybe it’s because he’s a bit older — 33 — and had time to build something in the world (a company, with his brother, that he has sold). Whatever the reasons, he is a kind of knight: a defender driven by honor and loyalty to God, to Whom he is grateful. How wonderful to know that men like that are still in the world.

We are going to need them. Here is a pungent essay by the Dominican Norbertine monk Father Urban Hannon, on “the politics of hell”. Excerpts:

Let’s start with a little guided meditation. I want you to imagine a society—a society made up of self-absorbed, atomized individuals—a society in which the various members tolerate each other, because they know they need each other, but only so that each of them can achieve his own private ambitions and desires—a society, moreover, that is in open rebellion against its own origins. Sound familiar yet?

Now I want you to imagine that, once upon a time, this society had been noble, and civil, and good—but that its citizens—especially its elite citizens—out of a disordered sense of pride, effected a revolution against that received ancient order.

Imagine, if you will, that this revolution had some ironic consequences, such as that, in the name of liberating themselves from being subject to any official king, these citizens wound up creating for themselves an even more oppressive and authoritarian regime—and that their honorable hierarchy, which in their pettiness they would have liked to dissolve altogether, was merely replaced by a dishonorable hierarchy—that they traded an ordered harmony for hostile power relations, and a common good for private vices.

Now imagine that this populace—who, again, hate their own heritage and devote all their time and energy to contradicting it, loudly—is in fact deeply unsatisfied, frustrated, lonely, sad. And yet imagine that, despite their unhappiness in this society, they also live in constant, ever-growing fear—fear that this society of theirs, and everything it stands for, is on the verge of defeat.

Imagine, finally, that this hysterical anxiety of theirs makes them even more odious and offensive and obnoxious. Probably by now you are not having to imagine, because unfortunately what I have been describing is not imaginary. This is a society—or at least, a “society”—which is very real, which is all around us, and with which we are forced to interact on a daily basis.

I am speaking, of course, of the society of Satan and his demons. This is a talk about the politics of hell.

Got your attention? What follows is a deeply Thomistic account of the nature of demons and how it applies to our politics. Mind you, this appears at The Josias, a website dedicated to advocating Catholic integralism (the joining of Church and State in a mutual harmony dedicated to the Roman Catholic conception of the common good). I do not believe in integralism, not only because I’m not a Catholic, but because I also don’t believe the Church should be joined to the State. Orthodox Christianity has a long tradition, via Byzantium and her successors, of Church-State symphony, but I don’t think it has been good for the Church.

We can discuss and dispute what the best political system is, surely. But it seems impossible to deny Father Hannon’s description of where liberalism has gotten us. The question (to me, anyway), is how we are to be ruled. I don’t believe that integralism is realistic or even just, but I understand why it appeals to people. It is not going to be the only non-liberal option people consider as the decadent order we have now continues to unwind.

On the long walk home, I thought about the things I’ve learned this past week in Cambridge and Oxford. About how both great universities are under the domination of people who despise what the universities have historically stood for. How the ruling class of both schools are coming to hate everything about the civilization of which these ancient universities are a pinnacle. What does it mean, for example, that at Queens’ College last week, they ended the academic term with an obese drag queen galumphing around the quad for the entertainment and edification of the students? And that most of these students are part of a ruling class that celebrates the drag queen but despises the working-class people in their own country?

Same with us Americans, obviously. On the long walk back, I found myself wondering what we have to do. Is liberal democracy, and liberalism, a suicide note? I don’t think it has to be, but without a shared religious framework — which is to say, a shared belief in binding transcendent values — how can it not devolve into the politics of hell?

What should we do to save the inheritance represented by Oxford and Cambridge? What should we be prepared to do? I think of the drag queen in the Queens’ College quad, and say: that’s a metaphor. If democracy means the sovereignty not of godly queens, but of drag queens, then I don’t want it.

But what do I want? Father Urban Hannon knows what he wants. I don’t. Not yet.

UPDATE: OK, to answer a few objections in the comments:

I will never understand the simpleton progressive response to this that suggests conservatives think of the past as an Arcadian age of perfection. Maybe a few do, but I don’t, nor do any of the conservatives I know. The tendency to romanticize the past is common to all of us, though a tendency to romanticize the future is a vice limited to progressives (and America is full of right-wing progressives, in this sense).

The way I see the past is like family: progressives expect us to hate our ancestors because they weren’t all saints, judged by the standards of The Current Moment. Conservatives, on the other hand, take the bad with the good, and are capable of recognizing that terribly flawed people nevertheless produced some things of great good and lasting value. The passage of time and the use of discernment allows us to identify the good from the bad, and cherish the good while recognizing that the bad is also part of who we are.

For example, the plantation houses of the Deep South are truly beautiful, and worth cherishing. Yet they were also the products of a wicked civilizational order that enslaved human beings. The grandeur of those buildings does not justify the evil of slavery — nor does the evil of slavery negate the beauty of those buildings, any more than the evil of Roman civilization requires us to demolish the Pantheon and the Colosseum. Not everything old becomes valuable by virtue of its antiquity, nor should we preserve everything simply because it once meant something to people (e.g., no statues of Hitler or Stalin, please). Still, the shallow, ugly iconoclasm of the Current Thing ideologues is itself evil.

Jon Morgan told me yesterday about the hideous violence done to Queens’ College during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, and then under the Cromwell regime. The smashing of the artefacts of “popery”. Once I visited the Salisbury Cathedral, and saw the breathtaking scars left by the English Reformation on that holy site. This is something that ought not to have been done, even if Catholicism was bound to be ended by force. I’m not making a religious judgment here, but a historical one.

I believe that change is inevitable; the question is, how do we manage change to also maintain continuity? For a week now I’ve been in Cambridge and Oxford, and have heard distressed conservative students telling me about what’s going on in their colleges. It’s grievous to think that these privileged young people (I’m not talking about the conservative students, but their Oxbridge generation) are being educated and indulged in an iconoclastic ideology that teaches them to despise what they’ve been given, and to consider it virtue. All it takes is a single generation to be lost to break the chain of transmission. Maybe two generations. That’s what’s happening now, and once it’s gone, will it come back?

You don’t have to affirm all the bad things that Britain has done in its history to affirm the good things to be found in Oxford and Cambridge, and throughout this country. I grew up in a small town in the Deep South. It was a real shock to me to learn, as an adult, about what the whites in our town had done to the blacks. I’m not talking about slavery — that was taught in school — but about KKK activity in the 1950s and 1960s. No doubt some of the white men I grew up respecting and caring for had been part of that, though kept it a secret. I have a reasonable idea about who some of them were, and I can only say that I hope they repented of those sins before they died. But can I deny the good that they did in this life because I am aware of that bad? No, of course not. I have to live with the tension. We all do. It’s the human condition, and mature people recognize that.

One of the reasons I recoil against this celebration of All Things Black now, because they are black, and All Things LGBT, is because I feel it is deeply important for us all to know the truth taught by Solzhenitsyn: that the line between good and evil passes down the middle of every human heart. I spent my morning yesterday with a white immigrant from South Africa. He is of English descent — that is, descended from English immigrants to South Africa — and explained to me the hatred Afrikaners — white South Africans of Dutch colonial descent — have for English South Africans. It came from the Boer War, in which the English invented the first concentration camps (that’s where the term comes from) in which to inter Afrikaner women and children. Jon was simply telling me that there is this very complex tribal history in his country, even within white society. I’m not exactly ill-informed about world history, but I didn’t know this. Jon told me that the British, from whom he descends, had done terrible things to the Afrikaners, and that the apartheid system in part came about as a result of that. It’s a complicated story, not worth getting into here. The point he was making was not ideological, but a general one about the vicissitudes of history, and how nobody, nowhere, has clean hands … but we still have to figure out how to live with that history without casting out what was good about it, while repenting of the evil. Those partisans on either side who insist on believing that any people’s history is All Good or All Evil are liars who lie most of all to themselves. Hitler and Goethe do not obviate each other; neither do Stalin and Tolstoy.

I told him about a paper I had done in college, when I was fairly liberal, during the anti-apartheid years, in which I argued that the South African situation would be better understood as a typical African tribal conflict, with the dominant tribe in that African country being the one with white skin. What brought me to that conclusion was work I was doing on campus with Amnesty International, and learning about black prisoners of conscience in black-ruled African countries. The more I dug into it, I realized that we Americans projected our own understanding of race onto Africa. For us, it was simply a matter of black and white. But in black African countries, tribal differences among peoples with black skin mattered just as much. The X tribe (all black) oppressed the Y tribe (also all black) — but we didn’t see this in the West, because it didn’t fit our narrative categories.

I lost a friend over that. There was a black guy in that class — it was a journalism class — and he became extremely angry. I emphasized that I wasn’t defending apartheid at all, but rather pointing out that apartheid was a manifestation of the tribalism and inhumanity that was common in Africa, and indeed a grim part of universal human history. I pointed out that I was actually making an argument for why we in the West should show more care for other oppressed black African peoples whose oppressors were black. But he was furious, though he couldn’t explain why I was wrong. It was a really uncomfortable period.

Anyway, I bring that up to say that to overly moralize history is a form of blindness, just as fully demoralizing it is. The historian Tom Holland’s great book Dominion is about the way Christianity made the West, including the things that we all cherish most about Western civilization. He begins by talking about how he wasn’t raised religious, and had come to love the world of the Greeks and the Romans, personally and professionally. But one day he realized that Greco-Roman civilization was incredibly cruel. How did we rid ourselves of those ways of seeing the world, and treating other people? Christianity is the answer. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen — and Dominion tells the story of how it did. Tom confesses in the book that going deep into that history gave him a newfound respect for Christianity and its achievements.

Does that negate the evil things Christians have done, especially in the name of Christianity? Of course not. But neither do those evil things negate the great good Christianity accomplished, including creating the phenomenon of universal human rights. Grown-ups understand this.

What troubles me about the stupid iconoclasm of our ruling classes today is that, to borrow the line that Ann Richards applied to George H.W. Bush, they were born on third base and think they hit a triple. I found Jon so admirable because I could tell he has an instinctive love for Queens’, because he is grateful for it. This is the proper conservative disposition towards the world: gratitude. Yesterday was Father’s Day — the sixth one I’ve had without my dad. Regular readers know that my wrestling with my father and his legacy has been the great struggle that has defined my life. I would never hold him up as a saint. That said, I find myself so grateful for all the good things he gave me, and believe that they more than justify his life, even his sins and failings. I could list all kinds of sins and failings of my grandparents, and all my ancestors, but if I rejected all they stood for, and all they were, because of that, that would be more of a judgment on me than on them.

The Christendom that built the old Oxbridge colleges was very far from perfect. Queens’ is tied deeply into the savage War of the Roses, for example. But it was a civilization built on deep and good principles, however much people pledged to live by them failed. Nothing we build today, architecturally or otherwise, can hold a candle to who they were and what they did. If you cross the Mathematical Bridge behind Queens’, and go over to the other side of the river, to the 1970s-era Queens’ building, you have taken a journey into degeneracy. We are incomparably richer and more comfortable than they were in the old days, but we can only seem to put up buildings that look like machines, and therefore unworthy of human habitation.

On the left, Cripps Court, part of Queens’; on the right, across the Mathematical Bridge, old medieval Queens’:

There are plenty of modern people who have the idea that the invention of dental anesthesia somehow renders the medieval period and everything about the past worthless. These are Therapeutic Whigs; we must bless their hearts, but not pay them much attention.

About the fact that men dressing as women as entertainment is not something new — yes, of course, I get that. If you’ve been reading me long enough, you’ll know that some years back, I wrote with affection about Ginger Snap, the town drag queen in St. Francisville. Ginger Snap is tolerable and even enjoyable as an eccentric. It’s when more people start to think that maybe men really can be women if they want to be, and that the laws should be changed to recognize drag queens who think they really are women, not just playing a caricature of a woman, that the drag queen becomes subversive and a threat to the social order.

A drag queen flolloping around the inner courts of Queens’ College in the 1970s is funny. A drag queen flolloping around there in 2022, in a time when people are losing their jobs and facing criminal charges in some places for refusing to pretend that the man dressed as a woman really is a woman — that’s something different.

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The Abbess Of The Moorings

The Rev. Helen Orr, at home in Cambridge

I wanted to share with you some good news, for once. What follows is the text of my last two Substack newsletters, to which you can subscribe here. I use the newsletter to focus on spiritual, religious, and aesthetic interests — which is to say, no culture-warring or politics. Though I am unhappy to be a displaced person (I’m in the UK, waiting on getting a visa to get back to Europe), graces abound. Read on. — RD

[The first one, titled, “The Abbess of The Moorings]

You readers are going to get two of these today. I’m on my way back to England, having been deported by the Austrian authorities when I tried to return to Vienna last night. My papers weren’t in order. Totally my fault! And the border police were actually very nice about it. Still, I have to go back to the UK and appeal to the Austrian Embassy in London for a visa. Further bad news: my research trip to France is now impossible, because I can’t get anywhere into the EU without a visa.

The good news is that I will now have more time to write. The further good news is that I’ll be returning to The Moorings, the Cambridge home of my friends James and Helen Orr, who hosted me there this week. I have to tell you, their rambling home on the banks of the river Cam, north of the town, is an oasis of peace and Benedictine hospitality.

James Orr is one of the bravest men in British public life — for instance, he led the resistance to the university’s attempt to crush free speech and keep Jordan Peterson from speaking there — but Helen is the happy genius of their household. I had not met her until this trip. She is the daughter of a prominent Anglican bishop, the late Simon Barrington-Ward, and is herself an Anglican parish priest. She and James, and their two children, host Christian student boarders in their house, and have built a kind of Benedict Option community there. The place and its people are so welcoming, and I think it’s mostly down to Helen.

(I’ve added her as a subscriber to this newsletter, so I know she will be reading this and will probably be embarrassed by my praise, but sometimes one has to push on ascetically through such trials.)

When I arrived there earlier this week, Helen took me on a walk through their back garden. One of the best things about England is their gardens. I’m an ardent Francophile in most things, but on gardens, I much prefer to messy English approach to the Cartesian severity of the French style. Helen told me of her plans to build a chapel there, and to keep working to make it a real center of art and healing in Christ.

She knew about my divorce situation from her husband, with whom I have been friends for several years. We stood down by the river and she spoke to me about it with directness and pastoral compassion in equal measure. I sure needed to hear what she had to say. In an earlier time and place, she would have been a great abbess of a vast and famous monastery. Today, she is vicar of the countryside parish of Bassingbourn, which dates back at least to the 13th century.

Over the past few days, I’ve watched Helen oversee people coming and going from her house, feeding us, taking her kids to their activities, running a lodger to the doctor, and so forth. It was really something to see, how much passion she poured into making us all feel at home and cared for. And then when she sat down to talk with me from time to time about life in Christ, her words were always deep, wise, and comforting — in fact, comforting because deep and wise. She has a rare gift of being able to speak with casual cheerfulness about profound things. Helen makes one feel seen. Whatever one thinks of women’s ordination — I think it’s impossible for us Orthodox, but the Anglicans can do what they want — Helen has a pastoral gift that might be more powerful than any I have ever seen.

It might be that she made such a powerful impression on me because she reminds me of my Aunt Lois and Aunt Hilda, about whom I’ve written a number of times over the years. Lois and Hilda were sisters of my father’s grandmother. They were born in the 1890s, and were very old when I was a little boy, and knew them. I would go to their tiny cabin at the end of a pecan orchard every day to visit, and to be dazzled by their presence, and their stories. Here they are with little me, about 1969:

 

That’s Hilda on the left, and Lois on the right. They were formidable, let me tell you. They had volunteered to be Red Cross nurses during World War I. I trace my abiding love of France to their stories about serving in the canteen in Dijon, and traveling around France after the war. Hilda was especially indomitable. In the great 1927 Mississippi River flood, she wanted to deliver relief supplies to the stranded in rural north Louisiana, but the Red Cross wouldn’t allow its female workers to take that risk. So Hilda disguised herself as a man, took command of a supply boat, and went into the wild.

That’s the kind of women they were. So is Helen, I divine.

I wish I had been able to get through the border police and back to my apartment in Vienna. But it is not necessarily a bad thing that I’m headed back to Cambridge, and to the home of the Orr family. Last night I bedded down in the airport chapel here in Vienna, comforted by the thought of sleeping where travelers pray. I was thinking that though my interrupted travel is unwelcome, maybe God allowed it to happen because He has something He needs to show me back in England. Helen is so full of life and curiosity about the world God has made that I can easily believe enchanted things are about to happen.

More later today — I have to transcribe and publish here an amazing interview I did with an Anglican ordinand. And I want to share with you some things I read in the Venerable Bede last night, about St. Cuthbert. I had never really thought about the Anglo-Saxon saints until hearing about them this week in England. You just never know who you are going to meet, and what you are going to learn once you step off the everyday path.

The plane is boarding here in Vienna now. Back to Blighty!

[Here is the second one, titled “The Pearls Of The Abbess”]

Well, the adventure continues. Last night at the vacant terminal at the Vienna airport, I took comfort in the fact that the only place I could find to sleep not on the floor was in the airport chapel. It calmed me deeply, because I was resting where God is praised. It made me trust that despite the unpleasantness of being deported, and losing my pilgrimage to holy places in France next week (because I can’t get back into the European Union/Schengen area until I get a visa, for which I have now applied), I felt assured that God was in it. That He has a plan here. I should have been quite distressed and unhappy, but somehow, I was calm, and thought, “OK, God, what are you up to?”

I arrived back at London’s Stansted airport, and waited in a very long passport control line. There’s a rail strike on here now, so trains were running off schedule. I finally caught a local up to Cambridge, and arrived in the sweltering heat not long after eleven a.m. I couldn’t get an Uber — none available, unusually — so I decided to walk to The Moorings. Only twenty minutes away, though the weather was hot, and I was toting three bags. Still, I just wanted to get a shower and fall into bed, so off I went.

On the way, I began to pray the Jesus Prayer. I usually do when I’m walking. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I walked a few minutes like that, but then the thought crossed my mind: back in the Before Times, I used to love calling my wife and sharing, in delight, the craziness of things like this (“Can you believe it? I got deported! Isn’t that just how it goes?”). Now I can’t do that. I haven’t been able to do this for about a decade. I miss it so much. That thought settled in, and brought with it sadness, and anger, and suddenly, I couldn’t pray any more.

Don’t surrender to it, I thought. Keep praying. But I remember making a deliberate choice to poke the sore tooth with my tongue, to linger on my unhappiness, and my sense of dislocation, of exile. I thought about this for the rest of the walk to The Moorings.

I let myself through the gate, and found the Abbess in her living room. I set my bags down, and flopped onto the sofa, while she flurried to the kitchen to get me something to drink. When she sat down, she showed me the handsome strand of pearls she was wearing.

“I put them on today to remind myself to tell you the story about them,” she said. The Abbess told me that she loved these pearls, but one day, she noticed they had gone missing. She looked everywhere for them, but couldn’t find them. She was heartbroken, but figured that was just the way it goes sometimes.

As the year went on, Helen began to doubt whether she was doing the right things with her life. Finally, she prayed, “Lord, if I am where I’m supposed to be, doing the things I’m supposed to do, please bring me back my pearls.”

The next day, the Abbess got a call from her sister in Scotland. “Did you lose your pearls?” the sister asked. “My friend found some pearls in the back garden. She thought maybe they were costume jewelry. I told her that no, I think those are my sister’s pearls. Are they?”

They were! The sister pointed out that her dog had gotten into Helen’s bag when she, her husband James, and the kids had been visiting last. The dog must have pulled the pearls out, and dropped them in the garden. For a year, people had been treading that garden, mowing it, and tending it, but no one had seen the pearls — until that day. Until Helen had asked God to return them to her as a sign.

“I wanted to share that with you because it’s a sign of enchantment,” she told me. And of course I agreed.

We talked a bit more. She mentioned her late father, Anglican Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward, and how intimate was his friendship with C.S. Lewis — and indeed, how before the bishop died in 2020, had been one of the last people left living who had been close to Lewis.

Soon I apologized to my hostess, and told her, “My mind is so discombobulated that I can’t form a coherent thought. I need to go down to the room, get a shower, and get some sleep.”

At that moment, a neighbor showed up, poked her head in the back door, and gave Helen some information. I can’t remember what it was about, but what I do remember was that the neighbor said that she felt so “discombobulated.” I don’t know when I last used or heard that word, but now it had been spoken twice within four minutes. By now in my life, I’ve learned to take that kind of thing as a synchronicity, as a meaningful coincidence. It always means, simply, pay attention, God is revealing something to you.

I went down to my room at the side of the garden, and got the last of my clean clothes to take to the bathroom for a shower. Ten minutes later, I was freshly washed and lying in the cool darkness of the room. Before I fell asleep, I looked at my e-mail. There was this from my friend Wesley J. Smith, a fellow Orthodox convert:

Just read of your travail in being barred from the EU.

If you are in England for a while, please spend a day or two at the Monastery of St. John in Essex. Founded by St. Sophrony the Athonite. Experience the Jesus Prayer service. Imagine hours of the JP chanted in different languages. It has to be experienced, it can’t be described. I prayed at his tomb, and I have never felt the Holy Spirit so strongly. Completely off the grid. You have to call. Do. It is sublime.

Well, turns out that that monastery is not too far from where I’m staying in Cambridge. Maybe I can get there.

Then there was a letter from another reader of this Substack, a priest, who sent this video. It’s from eight years ago, with Helen interviewing her father, the late and much beloved Bishop Simon — about the Jesus Prayer! I started watching it, and look, here is the first image, of Helen introducing her dad:

 

She’s wearing the pearls.

I thought, okay, this is a real synchronicity. I need to watch this video, but only when I’m in my right mind. I closed my laptop and fell asleep.

A few hours later, when I woke up, I watched it. Here it is:

It is plain and gentle and like cool, clear water. The bishop — who, Helen told me, wrote two books about the Jesus Prayer — talks about what it is and why it’s so important. He mentions going to the Monastery in Essex, becoming close friends with the Abbot Sophrony, and learning the Jesus Prayer from him. In the video, the bishop holds a prayer rope that the future canonized saint gave him. Bishop Simon simply tells how to pray the Jesus Prayer, and why (e.g., he explains theosis). None of it was new information to me, but it was like being stopped wandering off the road, and pointed back to the straight path by this dear old Christian Englishman, the father of my new friend the Abbess.

Do I even need to tell you that I am going to do my very best to get out to that Monastery this weekend, or at least while I am in England waiting on my visa problem to get sorted? I am so sorry to be missing Mont-Saint-Michel and Rocamadour next week, but I will get there eventually. There is something God has for me to learn here, in England, at St. Sophrony’s monastery.

When I finished the video, I came up to the house, and found the Abbess finishing her sermon for this Sunday. She told me that she has never watched that video of herself and her dad, but maybe now she should. What if it is, for Helen, another strand of pearls, lost in the garden, but now turned up at just the right moment?

I asked the Abbess if I could photograph her with the pearls. Yes, she said, but do so in front of this colorful painting hanging in her living room. She bought it many years ago, after a painful crisis in her life, one that she was coming out of with some professional success (before she became a vicar, Helen was a recording artist). She explained that she was walking in Notting Hill one day after signing a recording deal, saw the painting in a shop, and was so moved by the brightness of it, the warmth, and the life in its colors. But she figured it would be too expensive. It wasn’t, so she bought it.

Helen’s husband James, a Cambridge professor, commented, “That painting has enlivened every house we lived in, no matter how Dickensian.” And there is the happy genius of her household, wearing pearls, in front of the painting.

Later, she loaned me one of her late father’s prayer ropes (not the one from St. Sophrony, which is with a friend at the moment), so I can pray the Jesus Prayer on it while I’m here. I will pray it tonight, and ask for Bishop Simon and his friend St. Sophrony to join me in prayer. I’m onto something. Turns out I was right to be calm in the airport chapel last night, and to trust that God was going to use that crisis to show me something I needed to see.

But what? I’ll soon find out. And you know I’ll report back!

Helen just showed me something she wrote down a while back to comfort her husband in a time of stress, and has kept near to hand in their bedroom. She wants me to share it as the Abbess’s pastoral message to you all this evening:

 

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My Life As A Tom Hanks Movie

God's Hostel: my overnight lodging in Vienna Airport!

You know that 2004 Tom Hanks movie The Terminal, about the guy who gets stranded in an airport and can’t leave for years? Because I’m an idiot, I’m getting to live that movie tonight.

I flew into Vienna late tonight from London, but got hung up at the border crossing at the airport. Turns out that I have overstayed my allotted period in the Schengen Area of the European Union. All the time I spent in Hungary earlier this year counted against my credit. I had this crazy idea that the clock started over after my going back to the US for a month. Nope. I thought that you couldn’t stay more than 90 days in a particular country. Nope — it’s the whole Schengen Zone.

Gosh, I’m thick. O Fortuna!

The Austrian border polizei were very nice, to be honest … but they couldn’t let me in. I had to be escorted by armed guards to go fetch my bag at the baggage carousel. I’m leaving for London on the first flight out in the morning, and will be staying with friends while I appeal to the Austrian Embassy for a residence visa so I can come back to the place I rented in Vienna and spend the rest of the summer. Matt and I were supposed to go next week to Mont-Saint-Michel, Rocamadour, and other places — but I can’t get back into Europe at all without a visa.

The police escorted me to an empty wing here at the airport. It’s desolate. “Find a bench, if you can,” one of them kindly suggested. I’m not being sarcastic: the two young officers, Gregor and Bütul, really did feel sorry for me — but rules are rules, and I am in the wrong. But I do want to thank them for their kindness, and hope their bosses reward them for treating a bumbling American traveler with courtesy and compassion.

As it happens, the door to the airport chapel was open, and I thought, “Yep, I’m going to bed down where people pray to God.” I shoved some benches together, and I’m about to go to sleep for three hours, before I wake up and go meet the police to be escorted to my flight.

What an adventure! I tell you what, they need to build walls to keep dumbasses like me out of Europe. I’ll probably end up having to be in England all next week, so maybe I can get up to Anglo-Saxon holy sites, or something. A friend in Cambridge gave me a book called The Age of Bede today after lunch, and I read the Venerable Bede’s “Life Of St. Cuthbert” on the flight back. On the flight, I closed my eyes and asked St. Cuthbert to pray for a friend who is suffering. Maybe this current travail of mine is St. Cuthbert’s way to get me to come up to Lindisfarne without delay.

UPDATE: Good morning. Slept three hours. As I put my recharged laptop away to leave, I saw a sign in English on the far wall, instructing visitors not to sleep in the chapel. I sure do have a way of bumbling right across other people’s rules and regulations, don’t I? Well, I’m glad I didn’t see it, because I would have ended up sleeping in the hallway. Off to Blighty!

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Pride Bocce With The Pritzkers

Jennifer Pritzker, born James -- a scioness of billionaire family pouring fortune into transgender causes (Elizabeth Dole Foundation)

Hello from a London airport. It’s been really hard to keep the blog up this week of toggling between Oxford and Cambridge. I’m headed back to Vienna a day early, to get caught up on work before going to France next week for research. You readers of my Substack, expect a rich post later tonight.

I sat next to Cardinal Gerhard Müller at dinner last night in Oxford. He’s the former doctrine chief in the Vatican, sent down by Pope Francis. A German giant! If that mighty oak were pope, a lot of people would be sorted with a couple of sweeps of those massive bear claws. Mostly, though, I enjoyed meeting ordinary Christians and political conservatives, as well as some writers and activists. Had lunch yesterday with Mary Harrington, Calvin Robinson, Father Daniel French, James Orr, and Father Bernard Randall, a former school chaplain reported to UK anti-terrorism authorities because he questioned LGBT ideology, in a gentle way. The school destroyed his ministry and career. Here we were at lunch in James’s back garden. From left, not including me: Calvin Robinson, Bernard Randall, Daniel French, James Orr, and Mary Harrington:

I had such a great sense of camaraderie and good cheer, from these friends and from those I met in both places, especially young people. I met more than a few young Christian converts, undergraduates who complained that now that they believe, they struggle to find churches where priests and pastors seem to believe. They are eager to find solid ground. Pastors and laymen of my generation and older need to be more courageous and forthright. In one of my talks, someone in the audience, a Christian, said that I’m too harsh here on this blog (versus my books, talks, and Substack). But another young Christian told me afterward that the boldness here is what signaled to him and his friends that I’m serious.

I see that the Evangelical pundit Michael Gerson, former G.W. Bush speechwriter and Washington Post columnist, today, against all clear Biblical teaching, celebrates LGBT Pride. Excerpt:

Among religious young people, certain questions are growing more insistent: Why should we assess homosexuality according to Old Testament law that also advocates the stoning of children who disobey their parents? Isn’t it possible that the Apostle Paul’s views on homosexuality reflected the standards of his own time, rather than the views of Jesus, who never mentioned the topic? There is little wonder that, according to a Pew Research Center poll, over half of White evangelicals 50 and older oppose gay marriage while over half of those under 50 years old in the same group support gay marriage.

It is still possible for the gay rights movement to destructively overreach — as in denying the right of religious schools and charities to shape their own institutional standards. But in the meantime, I’m up for some Pride bocce.

He’s no Bernard Randall, that’s for sure. This is what it means to be tamed and assimilated by the ruling class. It’s useful to get that learned.

Meanwhile, I wonder if Michael Gerson would consider that the superrich Pritzker family of Chicago is pushing LGBDT too far? From an astonishing investigative piece by Jennifer Bilek in Tablet magazine:

One of the most powerful yet unremarked-upon drivers of our current wars over definitions of gender is a concerted push by members of one of the richest families in the United States to transition Americans from a dimorphic definition of sex to the broad acceptance and propagation of synthetic sex identities (SSI). Over the past decade, the Pritzkers of Illinois, who helped put Barack Obama in the White House and include among their number former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, current Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and philanthropist Jennifer Pritzker, appear to have used a family philanthropic apparatus to drive an ideology and practice of disembodiment into our medical, legal, cultural, and educational institutions.

I first wrote about the Pritzkers, whose fortune originated in the Hyatt hotel chain, and their philanthropy directed toward normalizing what people call “transgenderism” in 2018. I have since stopped using the word “transgenderism” as it has no clear boundaries, which makes it useless for communication, and have instead opted for the term SSI, which more clearly defines what some of the Pritzkers and their allies are funding—even as it ignores the biological reality of “male” and “female” and “gay” and “straight.”

It’s very, very creepy — Eyes Wide Shut stuff. More:

With the introduction of SSI, the current incarnation of the LGBTQ+ network—as distinct from the prior movement that fought for equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, and which ended in 2020 with Bostock v. Clayton County, finding that LGBTQ+ is a protected class for discrimination purposes—is working closely with the techno-medical complex, big banks, international law firms, pharma giants, and corporate power to solidify the idea that humans are not a sexually dimorphic species—which contradicts reality and the fundamental premises not only of “traditional” religions but of the gay and lesbian civil rights movements and much of the feminist movement, for which sexual dimorphism and resulting gender differences are foundational premises.

Through investments in the techno-medical complex, where new highly medicalized sex identities are being conjured, Pritzkers and other elite donors are attempting to normalize the idea that human reproductive sex exists on a spectrum. These investments go toward creating new SSI using surgeries and drugs, and by instituting rapid language reforms to prop up these new identities and induce institutions and individuals to normalize them. In 2018, for example, at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center at the University of California Los Angeles (where the Pritzkers are major donors and hold various titles), the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology advertised several options for young females who think they can be men to have their reproductive organs removed, a procedure termed “gender-affirming care.”

This family, whose number includes male-to-female transsexual Jennifer Pritzker, throws its money everywhere in the movement. Read this, especially the part about Martine Rothblatt. Emphasis mine:

Pritzker’s philanthropy is also active in Canada, where Jennifer has helped fund the University of Toronto’s Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, a teaching institution invested in the deconstruction of human sex. An instructor in the Bonham Centre and the curator of its Sexual Representation Collection—“Canada’s largest archival collection of pornography”—is transgender studies professor Nicholas Matte, who denies categorically that sexual dimorphism exists. Prtizker also created the first chair in transgender studies at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. The current chair, Aaron Devor, founded an annual conference called Moving Trans History Forward, whose keynote speaker in 2016 was the renowned transhumanist, Martine Rothblatt, who was mentored by the transhumanist Ray Kurzweil of Google. Rothblatt lectured there on the value of creating an organization such as WPATH to serve “tech transgenders” in the cultivation of “tech transhumanists.” (Rothblatt’s ideology of disembodiment and technological religion seems to be having nearly as much influence on American culture as Sirius satellite radio, which Rothblatt co-founded.) Rothblatt is an integral presence at Out Leadership, a business networking arm of the LGBTQ+ movement, and appears to believe that “we are making God as we are implementing technology that is ever more all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful, and beneficent.”

This is literally satanic. You know that, right? I interviewed in Oxford a young Anglican ordinand who used to work in elite advertising in London. He said that he didn’t know any other Christians in his office, but knew no atheists either. Everybody was into New Age and the occult, he said — even satanism, which they defined as living up to your fullest potential and most authentic self.

One more quote:

While many Americans are still trying to understand why women are being erased in language and law, and why children are being taught they can choose their sex, the Pritzker cousins and others may be well on their way to engineering a new way to be human. But what could possibly explain the abrupt drive of wealthy elites to deconstruct who and what we are and to manipulate children’s sex characteristics in clinics now spanning the globe while claiming new rights for those being deconstructed? Perhaps it is profit. Perhaps it is the pleasure of seeing one’s own personal obsessions writ large. Perhaps it is the human temptation to play God. No matter what the answer is, it seems clear that SSI will be an enduring part of America’s future.

Read it all. Really, do — it’s very important.

Love is love, right? Look what we are opening the door to. Have fun playing Pride bocce while Western civilization burns. I’ll take my stand with the Bernard Randalls against the Pritzkers and the medical and media elite.

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