next step?

January 22, 2011

The Washington Post has been advocating gay marriage for some time now.  To the Post’s editors and writers the subject is not debatable– actually never has been (unless I’ve somehow missed the debate on their pages).

A Jan. 7th op-ed by one Stephanie Coontz was in line with this.    As she sees it, same-sex marriage “is not only inevitable,  as Vice-President Biden described it in an interview late last year, but also quite logical.”  So I will try to follow her logic in just a few excerpts:

We are near the end of a two-stage revolution in the social understanding and legal definition of marriage. This revolution has overturned the most traditional functions of the institution: to reinforce differences in wealth and power and to establish distinct and unequal roles for men and women under the law.”

So, marriage (before her revolution) had two functions:  to keep men in power (over women), and to keep the rich in power (over the poor).  I have three comments on this:

1. The old system did keep women in an inferior position– it’s certainly good that  has changed.

2. Of course marriage has always been concerned with property– for some reason.   Could that reason be that marriage between a man and a woman normally generates children?  Children who are their heirs?  Children who will continue the family into the next generation?

3. So I must point out that marriage had,  and still has,  a third  “traditional function” which Stephanie Coontz  does not address– namely, having children.  Oh, she does touch on it in her quasi-Marxist way:   “For millennia, marriage was about property and power rather than love. Parents arranged their children’s unions to expand the family labor force, gain well-connected in-laws and seal business deals.” (Well, yes– though maybe they wanted the kids they raised to keep some of the parents’ ill-gotten gains?  As even some of us moderns still do?)

From all that we should see that in addition to the sentimental argument (let’s redefine marriage so these poor gay people can marry), there is still operating the logic which led Marx in his Communist Manifesto to call for the abolition of marriage– as bourgeois oppression.  The old revolutionary program continues, on a new front!

Why the complete omission of marriage as an institution  concerned with conceiving and raising children?  Most pro-gay marriage people seem to do this– for after all, having children does require a “Parent 1” and a “Parent 2” (to use the Passport Office’s new terminology) who make a long-time commitment to doing that.  But more and more it doesn’t work out that way.  Perhaps that’s why same-sex marriage does seem (almost) inevitable.

Is gay marriage “an idea whose time has come”?  But ideas go as well as come.

A link to Stephanie Coontz’s op-ed article is here.


Hatred of Sarah Palin: why?

January 20, 2011

James Taranto (of has some thoughts on this.  And on why it is especially intense among some women.  I think he– and his friend “Jessica Faller, a New Yorker in her 30s of generally liberal politics”– have some interesting thoughts on the subject– here.


Christians in Iraq (and elsewhere in the Middle East)

December 12, 2010

David Warren gives an account of what happened at the Syriac Catholic cathedral in Baghdad on Oct. 31st.  From his blog:

In the cathedral proper, the jihadis used the central crucifix for target practice, while shouting in mockery, “Come on, tell Him to save you!” At their leisure, they executed the men of the congregation, while terrorizing the women and children in various other ways. They shot the arms off a couple of girls who tried to use cellphones; they shot babies who were crying. And in classical Arabic, with Egyptian and Syrian accents, they declared: “We are going to heaven, and you are going to hell. Allah is great!”

At their leisure, for over the five hours they twice stopped for formal Islamic prayers…

Most of our news media ignored such messy details.

The facts mentioned above seem incontestable. Unfortunately, most of the mainstream reporting came down to “58 killed and a larger number wounded.” There were some insulting editorials, which generically condemned “religious intolerance,” thus putting murderers and victims on the same level.

Thus the “religion of peace” deals with infidels.  (I know, “not all Muslims”– but such things seem to disturb the “moderates” far less than that awful “Islamophobia”). The purging of infidels has been going on for a long time.

Throughout the Middle East, from countries that remained majority Christian long after the Islamic conquests of the seventh century, the exodus of the last Christians is proceeding. In Palestine, entirely Christian towns such as Bethlehem have been, quite recently, Islamicized. In Lebanon — itself established as a Christian enclave — Hezbollah has largely taken over. The Coptic Christians of Egypt, who still number in their millions, suffer frequent violent attacks. Et cetera.

There were once Jews all over the Middle East; now they are down to Israel only, whose very right to exist is challenged. Christians are now following the Jews into exile or extinction. But in the West, we just don’t want to know.

On the recent massacre of Christians in Baghdad

November 10, 2010

“May we now speak of the Muslims who want to kill us?”, asks Fr. Raymond De Souza, concerning the butchery of a priest and his congregation in a Baghdad church.

“By now the killing of Christians by jihadists has become a regular feature of the landscape in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Yet a massacre in a church, during the Holy Mass, surely would provoke a thunderous reaction?”

Well, not exactly…

The American State Department had no statement at all.

In the Church too, there is often a reluctance to support vigourously Christians under attack, and to call things by name.

He quotes a bishop in Dallas (Kevin Farrell) blaming not the perpetrators, but their (American) co-religionists:  “The level of incivility in our national dialogue has reached a crescendo,” Farrell wrote.

Of course to a certain mindset, now common in our midst, that’s just the natural way to look at it.

Fr. De Souza’a article is here.  (I linked to it from the First Things blog site).


Becoming pro-life

August 23, 2010

I think that in the past I have been insufficiently pro-life.  This post helps.

Our leaders should not lie to us

August 20, 2010

We are often lied to by our leaders and would-be leaders.   Not referring to any particular case (there are many!), here is a little verse from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe — his Venetian Epigram #55 — which deals with that problem:

Sage, tun wir nicht recht?
wir müssen den Pöbel betrügen.
Sieh nur, wie ungeschickt wird,
sieh nur, wie dumm er sich zeigt.

Ungeschicht scheint er und dumm—
weil ihr ihn eben betrüget!
Seid nur redlich, und er,
glaubt nur, ist menschlich und klug.

You’ll surely agree that we’re right?
we just have to lie to the rabble.
For look at how stupid they are—
their backwardness shows all the time!

Well yes, they seem stupid and slow—
because you keep lying to them.
If you’d be honest,  believe me,
you’d see them be human and wise.

Is this great rhetoric or what? (what??)

June 20, 2010

From President Obama’s long-awaited speech a few days ago on the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico– as he passed on from the mundane facts of the spill itself to great plans to get beyond such things:

What has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny—our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how we’re going to get there. We know we’ll get there.

Very down to earth, right?  He makes it all very clear.  “We know we’ll get there.”  Wherever “there” is…

Right in the same spirit  as “we are the future we’ve been waiting for”– or something like that– a gnomic utterance of his during the campaign.  Of course now he’s supposed to be governing the country.

O brave new world, that hath such people in it

June 11, 2010

I knew euthanasia was big in Holland– and possible not entirely voluntary in all cases– but it appears neighboring Belgium is keeping up with them.  This from the Vancouver Sun, as linked to by blogger Patterico:

Almost half of deaths by euthanasia in Belgium have involved patients who have not explicitly requested their lives to be ended by a doctor, a study has suggested.

A fifth of nurses interviewed by researchers admitted that they had been involved in the euthanasia of a patient based on the “assumption” they would want to die. Nearly half of the nurses – 120 of 248 – admitted they had taken part in “terminations without request or consent”.

Euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since 2002. It accounts for two per cent of all deaths annually. The law states that patient consent must be given and that doctors must carry out the procedure. But the study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that the rules are routinely flouted and shows how doctors often delegate the administering of fatal drugs to nurses.

Symbols don’t just happen

May 5, 2010

Symbols don’t just develop.  Every word that we use in our language, that is now part of our language, was not lying around somewhere but was created by somebody—even terms like”quantity” and “quality.”   We ask: who invented quantity and quality?   Cicero.  There wasn’t any quantity or quality before him.  Every such instrument of thought—even such elementary things—has been created, as far as the intellectual and spiritual origin is concerned, by certain people on certain occasions of experiences;  and we usually are in possession of the early document.

As I said, the term “theology” begins in the Republic of Plato—that is an early example.

In an earlier post I referred to Eric Voegelin.  The above is from a website excerpting “pungent observations” from his voluminous writings– see “On the Origin of Symbols” here.

Al Gore’s carbon footprint…

May 5, 2010

… is a BigFoot!  Headline for an LA Times news story:  “Al Gore, Tipper Gore snap up Montecito-area villa”:

The couple spent $8,875,000 on an ocean-view villa on 1.5 acres with a swimming pool, spa and fountains, a real estate source familiar with the deal confirms. The Italian-style house has six fireplaces, five bedrooms and nine bathrooms.

But does anybody really care?  To suggest that such a man as Al Gore is corrupt or hypocritical– that might truly be an inconvenient truth to most of our news media.