Lie still, little blogwatch,

Shake my shaky hand;

Black coffee’s not enough for me,

I need a better friend…

Not much today: this blogwatch, the addition of Frederick Douglass’s autobiography to the booklog, and, possibly, a long thing about authority and sex and Sullivan. (Who seems to call for an[other] American schism today. What’n, Ah say what’n…? Anyway…) If not today, then definitely tomorrow. Oh, and you all should start watching “Malcolm in the Middle,” because it is the most hilarious show on TV, and full of a rich combination of family-values goodness and full-blown sadistic madness. TV gets no better than that. Last night was particularly fine.

Mark Byron: Dungeons, dragons, and God; anti-Buchananite comment: “At this rate, in 2075 some nativist named Steve Nguyen will be ranting against the next wave of immigrants.”

Christian Fantasy: a reader kindly sent me this link.

Michael Dubruiel: First installment of his seminary saga. Saddest sentence: “although I will definitely try to sanitize [the record of his experiences] they will not be suitable for young readers.” Also: a discussion of Divine Mercy Sunday that possibly addresses some of Father O’Neal’s concerns; and we need more people like “doubting Thomas.”

Ken Layne: Great quotes from Edward Abbey.

Brink Lindsey: Reply to this post. Go read it. I’m not sure I understand the “original truth” vs. “final truth” distinction. (And, uh, I don’t expect Lindsey to take time from his busy day to respond again–he’s already been very courteous–I’m just setting this down in case anyone wonders what I think about this.) I wrote out way too many questions at first, so I’ll confine myself to two:

If I start with a belief in “the moral dignity of individual human beings” (original truth), conclude that this belief can only be true if certain other things are also true (e.g. a good creator-God), pray for guidance about this, and ultimately end up Christian–is Christianity a “final truth” for me?

And, What is dogma, and why is it so suspect? Should people hold only those beliefs that either a) they think are acceptable first premises, or b) they have personally reasoned through; or can we rightly accept beliefs based on authority? Obvious example: I understand why I am Catholic. I don’t understand, let’s say, the Church’s teaching on the impossibility of women’s ordination. Should I reject the authority, or should I maintain that it knows more than I do? If I do the latter, am I being “dogmatic” and therefore–in Lindsey’s formulation–bad? Would it depend on why I’m Catholic, or are there never good enough reasons for that kind of orthodoxy? If I reason from various “original truths” to classical liberalism, obviously, I’m open to changing my mind about that chain of reasoning (just as I’m open to changing my mind about whether I should be Catholic). So what differentiates my liberalism from a questing, “faith seeking understanding”-type orthodoxy? (And yes, I realize I’m mixing political and religious beliefs here–but I think Lindsey’s doing that as well, since we’re both talking primarily about the ways in which religious and political-philosophical beliefs are similar rather than the many ways in which they’re different.)

Louder Fenn: A continuing series on writing Christian fantasy–very cool stuff; a frightening French Revolution law, contrasted with the US Constitution.

Orthopraxis: An Eastern Orthodox blog.

Pigs and Fishes: More on my conservatism and his not-conservatism; plus more general thoughts on his worldview. I should note that the terms “liberal” and “conservative” change greatly over time–I’d likely have been a “liberal” at many points in history, and I’m certainly trying to push some of my own concerns into the core of “conservatism.” (So much more on this, when the Rock’n’Roll Conservative Manifesto is done cooking.) As for federalism, though, the term can be contrasted both to anti-federalism (federalists wanted a stronger central government than the anti-federalists) and to nationalism (in which distinctions between states are pretty much erased). Cf. Madison’s famous “partly national, partly federal” formulation–“federal” in this context has a strongly states’-rights flavor. What we have today would satisfy neither federalists nor anti-federalists.

Sursum Corda: Lots of goodies. Mary was no doormat; the wounds of Christ, in prison; very good stuff about “men’s spirituality” and why it can’t just be psychofluff; Peter fishing.

Veritas: The Christian path to happiness; the gift of authority. There’s a lot of confusion in contemporary discussions of happiness–it’s often talked about as if it’s easy to have joy without sorrow or fulfillment without struggle, and as if the pursuit of happiness could be the basis of a philosophy. Mother Teresa’s life provides some insight into the true nature of Christian love, and happiness. Her diaries record long periods of doubt and anguish. Yet when a visitor told her, “I wouldn’t do what you do for a million dollars,” she paused, grinned, and replied, “Neither would I!” I think Christians shy away from unqualified praise of happiness partly because we affirm that Mother Teresa would have been a great Christian woman even if she had died before reaching happiness. But God wants us to be happy; He has made us to be happy when we do His will. One sign of sanctity is “heroic joy”–joy even during martyrdom, love even in the teeth of agony.

Amy Welborn: How Scandals Happen; intro to Catholic sci-fi scribe Gene Wolfe; parents are dumb as stumps, but John Polkinghorne is not.

Also, here’s a Peanuts cartoon where Sally channels John Rawls.

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