Friday, July 3, 2015

America the damned

The Fourth of July used to be a special day for me. For a couple of years, I was the chair of the 4th of July parade in Richfield, Minnesota, and in the years before and after that it was always a treat to go to a parade.  We lived for the fireworks show at night; in addition to the shows on the Fourth, Bloomington had a show on the evening of the 3rd; if the weather was nice we drove to the top level of a nearby parking ramp, where we'd listen to the radio and eat popcorn while waiting for it to get dark enough for the show to begin.  The Fourth itself meant movies, almost in the same way that Christmas does - The Music Man, with Robert Preston, and my favorite musical of all time, 1776.  Yes, those were good times.

It's been a few years now since I've paid the Fourth any attention at all, and this year will be no exception.  I can't celebrate it anymore, because in my opinion there's nothing to celebrate. Over the course of these last years, we've seen America go straight to Hell, and last week's obscene Supreme Court decision just emphasizes the fact.  It's not only the decision itself, disordered as it is; it's this whole idea that the American Experiment has finally come to an end.  States' rights are going, if not gone; a relentless political correctness, from which dissent is not tolerated, governs our public discourse, as companies and special interest groups increasingly punish people simply for expressing their own thoughts; religious freedoms are not only done away with but scoffed at; police forces are increasingly militarized; in the name of national security, the Federal government becomes more and more intrusive in our lives; our very history is either forgotten or airbrushed.  Increasingly the world revolves around international financiers, investors more concerned with the bottom line than the High Altar.  To them it is money that makes the world go around, not the laws of gravity.  They've succeeded in reducing man to a statistic in a budget, a mere number that represents not a human soul but a profit/loss statement.  To them things such as gay rights are ideas to be pandered to; they see them not as troubled individuals but consumers with money to spend, and that's the only kind of morality that matters to them.  The poet Allen Ginsburg, in his epic Howl, called it Moloch, as is so evocatively illustrated here:

And who is there to turn to?  Not the humans running the Church; as rights are stripped away and depravities are legalized, we get lectures on climate change. Not political parties: the leftist Democrats, held captive by fanatical extremists, are the driving force behind many of these changes, while the timid Republicans, more interested in retaining power than doing anything with it, stand idly by.  Besides, the parties are just flip sides of the same coin anyway; they both want our money, the only difference being what they plan to do with it.

Man, that is depressing, isn't it?

We're all to blame for it, in a way, thanks to Original Sin.  We've allowed marriage to be corrupted through our own actions, just as we've played our own roles elsewhere.  There's more to it than that, of course; the Devil is alive and well in this world, in these United States, and he's finding many a willing disciple.  This doesn't mean we're helpless, though.  The pessimistic (but realistic) Rod Dreher has advocated what he calls the "Benedict Option," which involves groups of orthodox believers gathering into what might be called community support groups, where they exist to strengthen each other's faith, families and future.  It's not a retreat from the world, as some would have it, but a circling of the wagons.  And it's necessary because, as Dreher puts it, things are not going to get better.  Others advocate a more activist approach, attaching the issue head-on and refusing to be pushed around.  Still others think things can be turned around by electing the right individuals, that America at its heart is still a conservative nation.  The number who believe in that last category grows smaller and smaller, and if you're inclined to believe it I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to discuss with you.

In short, America seems to have devolved into a Godless, licentious nation, consumed with hedonism, basing everything on feelings rather than any kind of logical thought.  Not the sex you want to be?  Easy - just change.  Feel like marrying two or three other people?  Well, why not?  Think killer whales are human?  They probably are.  If you even bother to believe in God, you can create Him in whatever Image you want, knowing that He just wants you to be "happy," whatever that means nowadays.  What's frightening is not the question of where it all ends; it's that, deep in our hearts, we already know what the answer is.  It's not just America, of course, but the whole world.  The whole world isn't celebrating July 4th, however, and I'm not sure how we can, either.

In this atmosphere, watching a movie such as 1776 where we witness the birth of the republic, seeing what all these men were willing to risk their lives for, and then to look at what that cause has become, is beyond depressing.  To see an immoral lifestyle legalized (in the process overturning state laws passed by citizens) by a group of nine unelected officials, the same group (if not the same individuals) responsible for legalizing the murder of unborn human beings, all based on supposed rights that can't be found in the Constitution - well, if I was one who cried, I'd have shed more than one tear over these last few years.

I mentioned above that what's really scary about this is that in our hearts we know where it all leads.  A priest, talking about the various natural disasters that have befallen California recently, remarked that "When you keep giving God the finger, pretty soon he's going to grant your wish and leave you alone."  It's tempting on the one hand to look at anything bad that happens and see in it the finger of God, just as it's tempting to look at those same events and decry the idea that God would punish people indiscriminately, the innocent as well as the guilty.  But as we're reminded in Matthew 5:45, it rains on the just and the unjust.  The fact that there may have been innocent people living in Sodom and Gomorrah did not save the cities from being destroyed.  In fact, the Bible is replete with natural disasters as a sign of God's displeasure.

Speaking of which, it's worth noting that while some conservatives today suggest God is withdrawing His protection of America as a once-special country, there are others who would point out that America was founded on dubious propositions in the first place.  Such are the probing questions asked in Christopher Ferrara's provocative book Liberty, the God That Failed, which suggests that from the very beginning, liberty was a chimera, "the false god of a new political order."  Much the same message can be found in Hans-Herman Hoppe's Democracy: The God That Failed,  So perhaps we've been thumbing our noses at God this whole time, and that the Hell we're going through was predestined to happen at some time or another; it's just our lot that it's happening in our lifetimes.

And yet - it's all been part of God's plan that we are alive here, now.  There's obviously something we're meant to do, some role we're intended to play.  It's not likely we'll be able to determine that on our own, which means we have to keep our eyes and ears open and our prayers constant.  We must live lives that are good and pious, to the best of our abilities.  We must try as best we can to influence those close to us: friends, family, neighbors, workmates.

Most of all, I think, we must realize that we cannot be both Christians and Americans.  We can no longer live this hybrid, hyphenated life.  We give unto Caesar what is Caesar's, following the words and examples of Jesus, but we can no longer excuse what America does simply because it is America.  We pray for our country because patriotism is, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, a virtue, but we cannot go down with the ship - instead, we must head for the lifeboat created by Our Savior for our protection.

So in this weekend of rote patriotism, when for some of us there seems nothing left worth celebrating, try to remember that the things we truly celebrate are those things that are scorned by the rest of the world.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ reminded us thusly: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

That reward is greater than any nation, any flag, any political or judicial victory.  It is the hope which we carry to ward off despair, the true joy that protects the soul from depression, the light that shines in the darkness.  If indeed America is beyond salvation, then damned she will be; our victory will be greater than that.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Crossing "The Bridge"

What with all the madness that's been going on the last couple of weeks, and the idea that killer whales should be considered human beings, it seems an apropos time to remind ourselves that there's nothing new under the sun.

A few years ago, when Drew first penned this piece, it was in reaction to a proposal by some liberals that to “reduce the carbon footprint” on the planet by depopulating – in other words, humans must die (off) so the planet can live on. Taking it one step further, there’s the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which suggests that “everyone in the world should stop having kids all at once.” As someone said at the time, that would indeed be the only logical extension of such thinking. “Wouldn't it be only proper for people suggesting this (and heck, given a chance, they'd enforce it) to kill themselves and set an example?”

This was precisely the idea behind D. Keith Mano’s brilliant, disturbing 1973 novel, The Bridge. Long out of print (as is, sadly, most of Mano’s work; the best place to find them is a used book store), The Bridge is set in the dystopian New York of 2035, where civil war has resulted in a world run by a radical environmentalist/totaliarian regime. In this world, all forms of life – “down to the merest microbe” – are considered equal. All acts of aggression – even disagreement – have been outlawed. The absurdity of their thinking is summed up in the words on a plaque outside the now-deserted and crumbling Yankee Stadium, “Where, in an age of brutality and ignorance, men presumed to compete against their brother men.” (Interestingly enough, Mano didn’t anticipate the use of inclusive language – which shows you that 1973 was, indeed, a long time ago.) Mano demonstrates the ruthlessness, indeed the inhumanity, of such inflexible thought with this exchange between two prisoners of the regime, discussing the consequences that followed when all automobiles were banned:

"It was after the road breakers came. After my brother died because there was no car to take him where the doctor was."

"Lots of people died like that."

"They said thousands had died in cars. It was better that one man should die because there were no cars."

Despite these and other decrees designed to, as we would put it today, “reduce the carbon footprint,” a mass genocide continues, to which the regime’s response is stark, and final:

Whereas it has been ascertained irrefutably by the Council's Emergency Committee on Respiration that the process of breathing has and will continue to destroy and maim innumerable forms of microscopic biological life, we of the Council, convened in full, have decided that man in good conscience can no longer permit this wanton destruction of our fellow creatures, whose right to exist is fully as great as ours. It is therefore decreed that men, in spontaneous free will and contrition, voluntarily accede to the termination of their species. . . It is hoped bretheren, that you will donate your physical bodies to the earth in such a manner that the heinous crimes of murder and pollution committed by our race throughout history may in some small way find redress.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but one could almost imagine the names of some of our more prominent environmentalist/politicians being attached to a statement like that, don't you think?

From thereon in, The Bridge becomes something of an action thriller, with Mano's protagonist - the unlikely, but typically Manonian-named, Dominick Priest, who had been imprisoned for the crime of "competition" (playing chess) - on a quest to return to his home and his wife, a journey which will take him through a landscape run riot by decay, overflowing vegetation (remember, even cutting grass is a murdeous crime) and wild, feral animals, and regime officials seeking to enforce the Council's mandatory suicide decree, culminating in a harrowing crossing of the remains of the George Washington Bridge.

Ultimately, what Priest represents is the resiliency of man, the urge to survive, the quality which is the bain not only of the Council, but of totalitarian regimes throughout history. Priest is not altogether a likeable hero; Mano has chosen to portray him not as some kind of monastic crusader seeking to redeem the world, but as a man on a singular mission to live, with only a limited comprehension of the higher, existential meaning of life. As such, Priest is filled with all the foibles of man, and then some. This leads to a startling, indeed deeply disturbing (while at the same time somewhat satisfying) resolution, the consequences of which can be seen in an epilogue taking place years later.

Keith Mano has always been identified as a "Christian" novelist, and it is true that his Episcopal faith has made itself known through all of his books - from Take Five, in which a man slowly loses each of his five senses, to Bishop's Progress, featuring a confrontation between a lukewarm Episcopal Bishop and the devil, to Horn, a debate between the priest of an urban parish and a radical black leader. His most commercially successful novel, Topless, can best be summed up by the book's tag line: "Father Mike Wilson's having a bad day. He just found a headless body in his topless bar." As one might be able to gather from that last description, Mano's books have always been laced with a heavy dose of black humor.

It would be wrong to call these "comic novels," however, for the humor is mostly of the ironic sort, presenting a scenario that often borders on the absurd but merely serves as the setup for Mano's provocative probing, challenging questions on the meaning of life, and our ability (or lack thereof) to ascertain it. Religion - or faith, if you will - is never far from the surface but, despite that fact that most of Mano's protagonists are priests (in name or fact), the religiousity is not of the overt, preachy type that so often passes for "religious fiction" nowadays. It's more, as one critic put it, in the style of Waugh or Greene, probing into something deeper, and often darker – not just what it means to be a believer, but what it is to actually believe in anything.

Mano's books, while critically acclaimed, were for the most part less than commercially successful; he once recounted that his agent told him after his latest slow-seller that the only way he'd be able to get published again was under a pseudonym. His most recent novel, The Fergus Dialogues: A Meditation on the Gender of Christ, was published in 1998; since then, he has for the most part retreated from writing due to the onset of Parkinson's disease.

And that is a shame, professionally as well as personally, because in novels such as The Bridge, Keith Mano proved himself to be not only a provocative novelist but a prescient one as well.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On the coming persecution (iii)

From Francis Poulenc's famous opera Dialogues of the Carmelites:

Sister Constance: "Are there no men left to come to the aid of the country?"

Mother Superior: "When priests are lacking, martyrs are superabundant."

Monday, June 29, 2015

The new CCCP

From Title 28, United States Code, Section 455, sections (a) and (b):

(a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
(b) He shall also disqualify himself in the following circumstances:
   (1) Where he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;
   (2) Where in private practice he served as lawyer in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom he previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge or such lawyer has been a material witness concerning it;
   (3) Where he has served in governmental employment and in such capacity participated as counsel, adviser or material witness concerning the proceeding or expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy;
   (4) He knows that he, individually or as a fiduciary, or his spouse or minor child residing in his household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding;
   (5) He or his spouse, or a person within the third degree of relationship to either of them, or the spouse of such a person:
     (i) Is a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director, or trustee of a party;
     (ii) Is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding;
     (iii) Is known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding;
     (iv) Is to the judge’s knowledge likely to be a material witness in the proceeding.

By rule, sections (a) and (b) automatically disqualified Ginsberg and Kagan.  But at seven justices, a fair hearing would have been made.

The NFL prohibited a game official from working games where his son (now retired) participated.  On the same, note, an umpire would not be allowed to officiate his child's games.  And a parent's business partner isn't allowed to officiate that child's games either.  NASCAR barred Jeff Gordon from serving on the rookie panel in 2002 (a custom that the reigning champion serves on the rookie panel) because he had an interest in a rookie contender.  A similar rule would be in play of a Hendrick Motorsports Holden driver, or Kevin Harvick, wins the championship because Chase Elliott is a Hendrick driver (and Mr. Harvick has been an Xfinity teammate to Mr. Elliott on Dale Earnhardt Jr's team).

All of those situations are similar to the said regulations regarding judges that demanded a judicial disqualification of Sotomayor and Ginsberg.  Both judges publicly demanded marriage redefinition, one as the President's attorney (Solicitor General) and one publicly presided over a few illegal weddings.  That is grounds for disqualification.  The case redefining marriage should be overturned on this technicality.

But it never matters to the Left's arrogance.  They overturned thirty states and pushed urban values of the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and college towns on the rest of America.  The Founding Fathers knew the dangers of allowing large states to have total control over smaller states, resulting in the Great Compromise on the legislative front, overturned on the state level in 1964.  Note the South's protests against taxation by Calhoun and others that led to attempts at nullification, and the Civil War (which is now the target of a deconfederatisation push similar to 1946 Germany in the wake of Mother Emanuel, which was caused by a rogue nihilist).  Anthony Kennedy was a "Plan C" judge that Ronald Reagan did not nominate as much as Joseph Biden, Ted Kennedy, and Robert Byrd made the selection, since Senate leaders on the Judiciary Committee and the Majority Leader handily shot down President Reagan's choice for the seat, Robert Bork, with the most lopsided defeat in history.   A second judge withdrew over what we call today a violation of WADA standards, effectively giving the choice to liberal leaders.  The Obama, Biden, and Clinton judges together caused this mess that we are paying today with the loss of our freedoms and replacement of it by the new one of Sexual Freedom.

Antonin Scalia proved best stating, "The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie."  When majorities of over 60% nationally, and 75% in many states (Mississippi over 86%) are crushed by the judicial dictatorship overturning their Constitutions to push the outcome the Left demands, we have a totalitarian regime.

This is the Outcome-Based Education issue of the 1990's again.  Remember the controversy over "invented spelling"?  Whatever you feel is right is the only thing that counts.  And this was "invented lawmaking" -- whatever you feel is right again is the only thing that matters.  No standards matter.

We are headed to a dictatorship of a humanist theocracy with the judges.   Mao's Cultural Revolution is rapidly approaching.  With the deconfederatisation movement at full steam, we are headed to the abolition of all Confederate figures and history (including the CSS Hunley that preceded the German U-boats by 50 years, along with the CSS Virginia vs USS Monitor battles, which revolutionised war globally as the first ironclad ship battle), Memorial Day (celebration Union War dead in 1867) and even the Calgary Flames (named for the burning of its original city in the war), and its replacement by sexual deviancy hero Harvey Milk, with his birthday becoming a federal holiday to celebrate what a majority opposes -- that's a dictatorship.  We're also headed to persecution of Christians.

Christians taking a stand doesn't matter to them.  Liberals want a de facto dictatorship, and sexual freedom allows it to create a new caste system where Christians are the untouchables, and an apartheid system that separates deviants, atheists, and elites supporting them into a "privileged" class and Christians, along with those that hold a Biblical worldview, as the "punished" class.  This is not what the Founding Fathers envisioned.  Welcome to the new CCCP.

Wish I'd written that

Lileks, watching workmen install traffic counters on his street:

"I wanted to say 'why don’t you just ask me? I’ll tell you. And I’ll tell you something else: dang kids drive too fast. They get out of school and streak down here like it’s devil-take-the-hindmost.' And then they’d say 'well, this is our job, and it’s more exact than asking you, and I think the devil could take any of them, possessing supernatural abilities as he does. It’s possible the devil would take the first-most, because that person would be more surprised and despair.'

'I see your point. And you have to wonder why the devil would do such low-level work, like chasing people.'

'Well, throughout history - at least in Western literature - he engages on a personal level with people to make them sign over their souls, so it’s obvious he’s a hands-on type. Perhaps he just enjoys his work.'

'Never thought of it like that. Then again, we always assume that the guy doing the transacting is The Devil capital D, not a lesser devil who’s handling the grunt work. Think of it - who’s running hell when the Devil is swanning around with contracts in hand, trying to get souls one at a time?'

'Hell probably runs itself, inasmuch as it runs at all. Well, we have to get going.'

Wish I had said something, but I just waved: hello, municipal employees putting rubber-coated wires in the street."

- James Lileks

Thursday, June 25, 2015

On the coming persecution (II)

There is," said an Italian philosopher, "nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." Yet this is the measure of the task of your generation and the road is strewn with many dangers.

[M]any of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and 32-year-old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal. "Give me a place to stand," said Archimedes, "and I will move the world." These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history; but each of us can work to change a small portion of the events, and in the total of all these acts will be written the history of this generation.

[…] It is from numberless diverse acts of courage such as these that the belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. […]

Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change the world which yields most painfully to change. […] I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the world.

[There is] the temptation to follow the easy and familiar path of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who have the privilege of an education. But that is not the road history has marked out for us. There is a Chinese curse which says "May he live in interesting times." Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind. And everyone here will ultimately be judged -- will ultimately judge himself -- on the effort he has contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which his ideals and goals have shaped that effort."

- Robert F. Kennedy, 1966

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On the coming persecution (I)

Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion.  The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody. Not a few men who cherish lofty and noble ideals hide them under a bushel for fear of being called different.”

- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

So the Dega Pack grows

The "Talladega Pack" we call the 2016 Presidential nomination chase continues to build new draft lines. And this time, we've learned the next man to file an entry for this Chase. And for those who know a well-known television franchise owned by RTL Group, this piece should give a hint to who has entered the Chase for the Presidency.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Nihilism and the AME church shootings

The Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church (AME, NOT an Anglican church!) in downtown Charleston was devastated by a shooting where a South Carolina state legislator who is the minister at the church was among nine people killed in a shooting in the middle of a prayer meeting.

The blame game, as you might expect, has sadly begun.  Emile DeFilice, a farmer who runs a popular farmers market and is a former Commissioner of Agriculture candidate, placed the blame on the Cross of St. Andrew flag that the Confederacy used in war, probably based on the suspect's race, posting on the farmers' market page to take down the Battle Flag -- all on the basis the shooter was of one race and the church was of another.  He was followed hours later by one of the Left's top agitators.  The President, as part of his propaganda to push for an elimination of guns, decided to advance his mantra of eliminating the Second Amendment the way he has been working the First Amendment to death.  Another state legislator blamed the shooting on Fox News Channel, a popular

Unfortunately, this is not about race or weapons.  This instead is regarding the worldview of the shooter, considering the recent history of younger shooters involved in mass murders, most of whom are nihilists.  Nietzsche's nihilism, advanced by humanist teachings in school that have a 1960's "God is Dead" attitude, a lack of respect for anyone except themselves.  We've seen that with postmortem comments by those who knew the assailants in many incidents.  As John Carr in Orthodoxy Today wrote in the wake of the Aurora, CO theatre shootings, "Let us consider the facts that are forgotten in this restricted conversation: we have killed off all of our cultural heroes, accenting the flaws of those who have gone before us instead of emphasizing their strengths and virtues and the ideals toward which they strove; we have questioned into extinction the traditional understanding that some truths, particularly in the moral sphere, are absolute and absolutely binding upon all of us; and we have exalted everything that is base, barbaric, evil and insane, expecting that somehow our culture will continue to thrive on this noxious, unwholesome food." (Carr)

Touchstone magaine in 2000 had this to say after the Harris and Klebold shooting in an article, "The Children of Columbine."  The assailant was five at the time of the incident.

The evidence is clear in all of the research:  A hatred of God and a hatred of the sanctity of human life that the Left have designated over the years has much to do with the crisis in youth today.  Both helped develop another monster attack where this time, a church was hit.  Our Summer Chorus is singing Mendelssohn's "Hear My Prayer" next week, and I am thoroughly enjoying the practice sessions.  Enjoy this as we remember those who died in a senseless attack that has the evidence of the godless coming fast, and the wicked oppressing us.

Hear my prayer, O God, incline Thine ear!
Thyself from my petition do not hide.
Take heed to me! Hear how in prayer I mourn to Thee,
Without Thee all is dark, I have no guide.
The enemy shouteth, the godless come fast!
Iniquity, hatred, upon me they cast!
The wicked oppress me, Ah where shall I fly?
Perplexed and bewildered, O God, hear my cry!
My heart is sorely pained within my breast,
my soul with deathly terror is oppressed,
trembling and fearfulness upon me fall,
with horror overwhelmed, Lord, hear me call!

O for the wings, for the wings of a dove!
Far away, far away would I rove!
In the wilderness build me a nest,
and remain there for ever at rest.

John Carr, "Nihilism at the Core of the Colorado Shooting," Orthodoxy Today, August 9, 2012.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sentimentalism by any other name...

Very interesting article up today at First Things, and if you accept the premise of Dominic Bouck's article, it seems to explain a lot.

Bouck's contention is that intuitional philosophy, often referred to as emotivism or sentimentalism, has become the dominant philosophy in American culture today.  Put simply, we don't think about things anymore, we feel them.  According to Bouck, this leads people toward what appear to be contrary positions, such as an opposition to abortion and support for gay marriage.

It works this way:

As a consequence of this more emotive approach, a growing number of Americans have decided abortion is not the best option, especially as the pregnancy progresses. Abortion rates have fallen 12 percent since 2010 according to a recent survey, and 49 percent of Americans think abortion is morally wrong, much higher than on other life-issues. Technological progress has helped people to see what—or more accurately—who it is that is being aborted. The closer something appears to be like me, the intuition seems to say, the more I think it should be protected.

So how does this tie into gay marriage?  Easy:

They can show two nice-looking, kind people expressing love for one another and ask, “How could that be wrong?” The argument implicitly goes, “You love someone, don’t you? How could you deny that love to a fellow human being.” In effect, the argument is similar to the one in Juno, essentially saying, “We all have fingernails.” What seemed right in the first instance, either being pro-abortion or thinking there should only be male–female marriages, shifts for literally no “reason,” but instead a feeling, a new intuition.

Sentimentalism is a good way of putting this; at the TV blog, I've referred to it as the Oprahfication of America.  Although not the same thing, sentimentalism can be closely linked to sentimentality, which often produces the same problem.  Sentimentality should not be confused with nostalgia, which is what I'm inclined to - sentimentality is much more flowers and coronets, while nostalgia is a yearning to go back to a specific time or way of life.  That's not to say that the two can't intersect - they often do.  But sentimentality is always going to be based on emotion, on feelings, whereas nostalgia, as I've tried to show, can actually lead to an intellectual examination of, for instance, how things got the way they did.

Bouck writes that by falling into sentimentalism, we've given up on using reason, preferring feeling to logic.  Again, this doesn't have to be an either/or proposition.  How many times have we seen the heroic detective depend on a gut feeling to solve a case?  But the gut feeling that he has is often based on experience, on a logical analysis of past crimes and patterns, and combining that with a feel for the frailties of humanity that often run contrary to logic.  Were he to depend on that gut feeling all the time, he would probably soon find his emotions soon running away with him, scurrying erratically from one theory to another with no discernible pattern, and likely no discernible results.

In the same way, we look at Mr. Spock in Star Trek.  He operated exclusively on logic, which often made him unable to anticipate the illogical way in which a human could react.  It was in such situations that Captain Kirk, with his mix of experience and intuition, was able to step in and save the day.  True, it was necessary to keep the focus on Kirk as the star of the show, or else it would have become known as The Mr. Spock Hour, but one can often see Spock trying to develop that ability to include the human factor in his thought process, in order to arrive at a solution that was not only "logical," but correct.

We are not machines, which is why we have emotions.  We are not animals*, which is why we have the ability to reason.  One of the great majesties of God is that he chose to give us both emotion and reason, along with the good sense to know how to combine them.  As we rapidly lose that ability, we also lose the ability to integrate what was commonly-held truths into our thought process; nowadays, if those come into conflict with our feelings, we simply discard them.

*Yes, I know that technically we are, but you know what I mean.

So whatever you want to call it, its continuing dominance of our cultural philosophy is anything but good.  Of course something like this doesn't just appear overnight; it can be many years before something like this takes root and grows within a culture.  I wonder, though - might we be able to trace this back to the beginning of Oprah Winfrey's influence in pop culture?  If so, then one would have to think that she bears a rather large burden for what America has become - and not a good one, at that.  It's not an exaggeration for me to say that I would not want to carry that burden come Judgement Day.  Just a gut feeling, you know.