Opting for Benedict

Smart commentary on the Benedict Option…

Charles H. Featherstone

So this comment I made on Rod Dreher’s blog, as he took apart Rachel Held Evans’ tweet storm rant about Rod’ latest book, seems to have gotten some traction:

Progressive Christians and the Progressive Church is still wants American Christendom to work, still cannot tell the difference between state and society and church, and still very much want it to be 1962, when the church was influential and church leaders were listened to and everyone was good and bourgeois and belonged. Oh, they want a far more integrated version of 1962, complete with same-sex marriage. But their church is just as much Christendom, just as imperial, just as Constantinian, as the conservatism they decry. They want to be the chaplains to a well-ordered, relatively just (or justice oriented) state and society.

It does not help any that most progressives are trapped in a narrative of the civil rights…

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Crying Wolf Really Loud

I ought to share something that might explain this election and make those of us that didn’t like its outcome to at least understand the extreme vitriol. It has to do with the perceptions that media deliver to us and how those perceptions cloud our reason and our view of the world.

Humans, while very smart, sometimes really can be manipulated by the daily drumbeat of media accusations. It worked on Trump. Ask any Trump opponent. And it certainly worked on Clinton. Ask any Clinton opponent. The former can’t even say Trump’s name, it’s always “Literally Hitler” and the latter never refers to Hillary as anything other than something like “Cackling Hag”.

Depending on your initial point of view and the news sources you visit, an image gets formed in your head. Trump is Hitler or Hillary is crooked, or the election was stolen, or crooked. These come from the daily drumbeat of a cynical media. But regardless of a lot of NOT good-natured banter and trolling of friends, the fact remains that we should have compassion for one another. And that compassion demands that we also reason with one another…civilly.

Those on my side of the street (and that’s not exactly Republican or Libertarian, or Democrat, or Socialist; I am a different mix but a mix that, full disclosure, allowed me to vote for Trump with a distinctly destructive glee) we can be the meanest trolls on the planet just like many others from a variety of political points of view.

But it is time to put that aside and figure out how to move forward together. Take fifteen minutes and read this liberal’s blog, The Slate Star Codex. It puts some of the crazier rhetoric in perspective. I didn’t pick it out willy-nilly. I think it is one of those rare essays that can really change your world. To read it go HERE. The author is NOT pro-Trump.

I would also suggest something that has changed my view on a number of things, especially the motivations of my political opponents. This TED talk is by Johathan Haidt, a social psychologist, a liberal, and the founder of Heterodox Academy. In the TED he describes his concept of “The moral roots of liberals and conservatives.” Regardless of the current variety of political labels, we can roughly assign them to either liberal or conservative, the two largest groups anyway even if more strictly defined.

Haidt’s TED takes 18 minutes to view and can change you. It changed me. Go HERE to view it.

If you are distressed by what has happened over the past couple of weeks, these links can go a long way to at least explaining.

Book Report – Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want by Nicholas Epley

Julia (most perfect wife) & I have been reading/listening to an interesting book Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want by Nicholas Epley, Copyright 2014.

Derek Sivers (http://www.sivers.org someone that you probably have never heard of but whom I follow especially because he has great book notes) thinks it is probably the best book he has read out of the 200 detailed on his site because Mindwise has actually helped him see through the eyes of others.

Epley opens with the Marcel Proust quote that sets the tone of the book: “The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another.”

And that is exactly a thing that I have wanted to better understand all of my life: how to see with the eyes of another. Reading Mindwise is giving me that seeing.

The essence of the book might be outlined by describing the human mental ability, our sixth sense, as a virtual super power, especially when compared to the mental abilities of other species on Earth. This apparently unique human skill, however, does have a problem. I/we display a confidence in that sixth sense that is much greater than can be justified by observation. In short, we think we are far more accurate in our perceptual accuracy than we are.

Consequently, Mindwise does a very serviceable job of improving our understanding of others and to delivering to us a healthy dose of humility, which King Solomon pointed out was the beginning of wisdom.

By way of example of one of the insights in the book, I’ll quote from the text that tells the story of a famous trial of the 1800’s where the humanization of the Ponca Indian, Standing Bear, was established in court. The background of the trial was that the Bureau of Indian affairs in 1875 decided to remove the Ponca to Indian Territory (in present-day Oklahoma). They initially agreed to the terms of removal as presented to them by US Indian Agent AJ Carrier.

In late winter 1877, Standing Bear and ten Ponca chiefs, were taken to Indian Territory to view several tracts of land for possible resettlement. The chiefs were unhappy with what they were shown, and asked to return home. After some argument with their Bureau of Indian Affairs representative, Standing Bear and seven other chiefs started out to return home on foot.

By May of that year, the remainder of the tribe including Standing Bear were forcibly moved. By the time they arrived in Indian Territory it was too late to plant crops. Furthermore the government failed to provide them with promised farming implements. By spring of 1879, nearly a third of the tribe had died as a result of starvation, malaria, and other causes. Standing Bear’s son, Bear Shield, had also died and so he left to travel north with about 30 followers in order to fulfill his son’s wishes and bury his bones in the Ponca’s Niobrara River valley homeland.

From the book…

Desperate, Standing Bear decided to go home.

Carrying his son’s bones in a bag clutched to his chest, Standing Bear and twenty-seven others began their return in the dead of winter. Word spread of the group’s travel as they approached the Omaha Indian reservation, midway through their journey. The Omahas welcomed them with open arms, but U.S. officials welcomed them with open handcuffs. General George Crook was ordered by government officials to return the beleaguered Poncas to the Indian Territory.

Crook couldn’t bear the thought. “I’ve been forced many times by orders from Washington to do most inhuman things in dealings with the Indians,” he said, “but now I’m ordered to do a more cruel thing than ever before.” Crook was an honorable man who could no more disobey direct orders than he could fly, so instead he stalled, encouraging a newspaper editor from Omaha to enlist lawyers who would then sue General Crook (as the U.S. government’s representative) on Standing Bear’s behalf. The suit? To have the U.S. government recognize Standing Bear as a person, as a human being.

The case lasted several days, during which the government lawyers attempted to portray the Poncas as savages, more like thoughtless animals or unfeeling objects than rational and emotional human beings. Perceiving the Poncas as mindless, after all, is what had made it possible for officials to treat them as property under the law rather than as persons. This perception was clear from the government attorney’s opening question: he asked Standing Bear how many people he had led on his march. “I just wanted to see if he could count,” the attorney explained.

After several days of testimony, the trial drew to a close. Judge Elmer Dundy knew that Standing Bear wanted to address the audience in his own words, as was customary in Ponca tradition, but direct statements at the end of a trial were not allowed under U.S. jurisprudence. Respecting Native American tradition and violating his own, Judge Dundy called the bailiff to his desk, whispered that “the court is now adjourned” to secretly end the official proceedings, and then allowed Standing Bear to rise and address the court.

So it had come down to this. At about ten p.m., at the end of a very long day, Standing Bear rose. Illiterate, uneducated, and with no time to prepare an address, he stood silent for a minute to survey the room. Finally, he spoke: “I see a great many of you here. I think a great many are my friends.” Then he tried to reveal that he was, in fact, much more than a mindless savage. He explained his tribe’s difficulties in the Indian Territory, stared that he had never tried to hurt a white person, and described how he had taken several U.S. soldiers into his own home over the years and nursed them back to health. Then, in a stunning moment that channeled Shylock’s monologue from Me Merchant of Venice, Standing Bear held out his hand. “This hand is not the color of yours. But if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. I am a man.”‘

Standing Bear was a man intelligent enough to lead his tribe along a six-hundred-mile journey in the dead of winter and back again, a man who felt love so deeply that he carried his son’s bones around his neck to fulfill a promise. Yet he found himself pleading with people from far-off places who had failed almost completely to see his mind and instead viewed him as a piece of mindless property. Facing those unable to recognize a sentient mind before their eyes, Standing Bear had been forced to show his to them.

Before the trial most viewed Indians as mindless savages. Standing Bear forced the US Government to view him as a man. Their perceptions of the Indian were changed whether they wanted then to to be or not.

This is but one illustrative story that opened my eyes much wider about the limits of my all too human perception. Read this and you will be a much better person. Great book!

The Declaration of Independence Version 2.0

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 2015.

The unanimous Declaration of the fifty-seven united States of America,

When in the Course of gender-neutral events, it becomes necessary for one Gaia Worshiping people to heap scorn and spite upon the productive sector with an eye to removing the rights of that sector which have not allowed the non-productive sector to parasitize the other, and to assume among the powers of the omniscient and benevolent United Nations, the separate and dependent station to which the Laws of Gaia and of Al Gore entitle them, a decent respect for the opinions of all politically correct and appropriately compassionate mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation of those rights from the productive sector.

We hold these truths to be pretty cool right now, that all persons of color are created equal a few years after birth, that they are endowed by the state with certain easily rescinded Rights, that among these are Food Stamps (just kidding; these are for life and can be handed down to your dependents as long as they vote early and often), State Dependency and the pursuit of this week’s Sexual Preference.–That to secure these rights, Holy Governments are instituted among the really cool, deriving their just powers from the consent of the ruling class of mostly rich white progressive males, –That whenever any Form of opposition to Big Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the properly educated Legitimate People that vote early and often to alter or to abolish that opposition, and to institute expansive new Government regulations, laying a foundation on such and organizing its Holy and unalterable powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect the Dependent and Subservient people’s Safety and Happiness but to also compel the non-compliant to do whatever Big government says. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should only be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that personkind is more disposed to suffer at the hands of ignorant southern rednecks, whose evils are insufferable, especially that silly flag, than to right themselves by forever adjusting the forms to which they are accustomed and begin to marry whomever or whatever or however often they wish as long as Christians are made to bake them cakes. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under the absolute Despotism of the disloyal opposition, it is the Correct People’s right, it is their duty, to throw off such Christian Nazi parasites, and to provide new Guards for their future repression.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Correct and Loving People; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to further establish ever more repressive Systems of Government. The history of the present fat King of the Evil right, Donald Trump (or Ted Cruz or any other non-RINO Republican) is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the disestablishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Donald Trump [or insert other nasty right-winger here] has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He (and other worshipers of the tax-sheltering, hetero-normative patriarchy) has forbidden his CFO’s to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them disallowing the sale of Starbuck’s gift cards.

He (and other conservative, ammo-stockpiling, neo-con-artist enemies of the state) has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people oppressed by Christian Bakeries, unless those people would demand the right of Representation in the Legislature, a stupid right to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He (and other nasty orthodox, Faux-News jabbering, NASCARcissist, Megachurch-going Christards) has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records at C-PAC, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He (and other gun-fondling, brownshirt, hatemongering poisoners of wells) has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people where sexual reassignment surgery is concerned.

He (and other mewling, anti-abortion terrorist, Honey Boo Boo, white-trash baby machines) has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from within, and convulsions without.

He (and other disloyal private sector illiterate, Kool-Aid-drinking parasites, depriving many villages of their idiots) has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for unfettered Naturalization of illegal Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He (and other constitution hugging, Christianity-bastardizing assclowns) has obstructed the Administration of the Department of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He (and other rapture-lusting, racist cops and sexist firepersons) has refused to make Judges dependent on Politically Correct Public Opinion alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He (and other Hobby Lobby, glacier hating conservatard) has erected a multitude of New Office Buildings, Condos, Hotels and Casinos, and sent hither swarms of Celebrity Apprentices to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He (and other Chick-Fil A-gobbling, nuclear-bomb-riding extremist) has failed to keep among us, in times of peace or war, Standing Armies of Busybodies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He (and other rapist, racist, beer-swilling Rotarians) has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power and to make them wear high-heels.

He (and other lobotomized, tea-bagging, birthers) has combined with others to fail to subject us to a jurisdiction native to our constitution, and acknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of Legislation:

For failing to Quarter large bodies of armed troops among us:

For failing to protect them, by Public Show Trials, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the right-wing Inhabitants of these States:

For encouraging Trade with all parts of the world:

For failing to impose Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Public Show Trials:

For failing to transport us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For failing to establish Laws at Occupy Wall Street, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these States:

For refusing to take away our Charters, abolish our most valuable Laws, and alter fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For failing to suspend our own Legislatures, and not declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He (and other flag waving, cross-burning, drug and murder crazed thug vets) has not abdicated Government here, by not declaring us out of his Protection and not waging War against us.

He (and other non-person, gap-toothed, piety-spouting, “patriot” nitwits) has never plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, nor destroyed the lives of our people.

He (and other pro-life, home-schooling, baby-machine, planet-hating tradition whores) is at this time failing to transport large Armies of foreign Mercenary Immigrants to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He (and other Paleoconservative, Uncle Tom, Fox News Humping Losers) has not constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, nor to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, nor to fall themselves by their Hands.

He (and other homeschooled, FOX Noise-parroting, jingoist, water-board-loving ignoramuses) has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Right wing Conservatives Bible Thumping Gun Hugging Savages of Flyover America, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A CEO whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a compliant people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Confederate Flag Waving brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Subjects.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the Correct-Thinking united States of Diversity America, in General Knee-Jerk Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world, Obama, for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these subservient states, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Subservient States are, and of Right ought to be subdued and Dependent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to or decent behavior towards all Right-Wing Racists, and that all political connection between them and the State of Grace that is Dependence on Washington Handouts, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Subservient and Dependent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Ron Fournier: POTUS May Be In The Middle Of “Full Blown Constitutional Crisis” (Video)

Muat Reading…

Nice Deb

Another major scandal for the regime is coming to light as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee is accusing the CIA of “breaking laws and breaching constitutional principles in an alleged effort to undermine the panel’s multi-year investigation of a controversial interrogation program.”

Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the CIA of ­secretly removing documents, searching computers used by the committee and attempting to intimidate congressional investigators by requesting an FBI inquiry of their conduct — charges that CIA Director John Brennan disputed within hours of her appearance on the Senate floor.

Feinstein described the escalating conflict as a “defining moment” for Congress’s role in overseeing the nation’s intelligence agencies and cited “grave concerns” that the CIA had “violated the separation-of-powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.”

Brennan fired back during a previously scheduled speech in Washington, saying that “when the facts come out on this, I think a…

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Camile Paglia: Woman of the Year

Re. Camile Paglia: Woman of the Year

When you experience some sort of medical symptom such as a rash, you might choose to go to a doctor. Typically, you ask that doctor to render an opinion as to what might be the matter. The doctor will use a combination of medical signs, i.e., measurable things like blood pressure or bacteria in the urine, observing the rash, taking a biopsy the rash, et al and medical symptoms, i.e., asking the patient what it feels like or what they have been experiencing. In turn, opinion is rendered, treatment prescribed, behavior proscribed, etc., to ameliorate the problem.

If what you want is hard, irrefutable evidence that Western Civilization is experiencing collapse, which collapse might be defined as radical, rapid change (it can be relatively slow) that clearly harms the prospects of its inhabitants and that many might view as bad, then we will probably have to wait for its collapse. Immediately prior to the old Roman Empire’s collapse, the majority of Romans could not foresee that the Visigoths at the gate would ever bring down the Empire. The barbarians were no big deal and nothing had changed as the water in the pot reached boiling. But wasn’t that the point of the 1960s freak movement? A call that civilization was indeed in a bad way and things needed to change.

Point is that one may easily parrot the de jour talking points of the left that either all is just fine or all is going to hell if we don’t get a lot more government control a la MSNBC, CNN, and on ad infinitum. Demanding so-called absolute, unalloyed facts/truth before we dare to adjust our fair republic’s current trajectory seems to be madness, especially since so many of our brightest diagnosticians seem to believe that said trajectory apparently will quickly intersect with an immovable reality.

Me? I don’t want to wait until we hit the fan. I want to hear from those diagnosticians and make a judgement call as to whether we jink the car left or right. Seems left is causing a lot of damage. We need to jink right a bit. Who’s crazy or not? Rather than listening to the screeching vapors on the left that we need more government control of every aspect of our commerce and medical care to the likes of scolds like Kathleen Sebelius and Ezekiel Emanuel, to give unfettered war making powers to a nit-wit in the White House and his crazed enablers at the State Department, its much easier right now for me to listen to the likes of Camile Paglia, David Mamet, Christopher Hitchens, Peter Hitchens, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Heather MacDonald, Thomas Sowell, Peggy Noonan, Victor Davis Hanson, Jonah Goldberg, Ross Douthat, Roger Kimball, and a host of other public intellectuals that posit that perhaps all is not quite right in Paradise.

What is a wholesome sexuality?

Very good!

Reflections, Reflections by Alessandra

On a recent McCain thread (Miley Cyrus: Insult to Injury), a commenter (Joe) asked:

What in Alexandra’s estimation is a “wholesome sexuality”? If it hurt’s someone it’s immoral if it doesn’t then who cares if people want to have anal sex, engage in S&M, cross dress, worship feet, have threesomes, etc. It’s no one’s business. I’m sure most people here agree with that. if not, then what is wholesome sexuality? Sex done only for pro-creation in the missionary position with the lights off?

I have to say this question lies at the heart of what is wrong with liberal ideology. It’s very important and the answer doesn’t fit in a short comment space. But here is a first attempt at a short reply.

We can look at sexuality in many ways. One is to examine what happens inside the mind of an individual. If their sexual thoughts or…

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