Chesterton on trusting tradition

‘Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.’

What follows is a brilliant passage from Orthodoxy in which Chesterton articulates not a political philosophy but the earliest of his profound persuasions (i.e. presuppositions) which was instrumental in his conversion to Christianity. In short, he’s explaining why ancient beliefs are no less true simply because they’re old than modern beliefs are true simply because they’re current.

I have never been able to understand where people got the idea that democracy was in some way opposed to tradition. It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record . . . Those who urge against tradition that men in the past were ignorant may go and urge it at the Carlton Club, along with the statement that voters in the slums are ignorant. It will not do for us. If we attach great importance to the opinion of ordinary men in great unanimity when we are dealing with daily matters, there is no reason why we should disregard it when we are dealing with history or fable. Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.  [emphasis added]

Why Christians aren’t ‘nice’

‘Nice’ is the new ‘love.’

Near the end of a 2012 discussion of his book Coming Apart, Charles Murray touched on the difference between raising kids to be nice versus raising kids to be good. You can take a look and reflect for yourself (watch 39:06-40:12) but I wanted to draw attention to this statement in particular:

Being nice is a way of moment to moment not creating trouble. It is not a way of inculcating standards and behavior that will get you through tough times.

Now this was in the context of child-rearing but  Murray’s point is one that I have groped for when discussing the pseudo-Christian response to today’s sexual revolution. To wit, nice is the new love.

What the social engineers demand is that Christians be nice–that we acquiesce; go along to get along. Protests notwithstanding, the last thing they want from us is love unless they get to define it. In the new moral order love isn’t so much “patient” as it is “permissive.”

Yes, “love is kind” (1Cor 13:4). But keep reading. “Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth” (1Cor 13:6). And that’s why love isn’t always “nice”–because it rejoices in the truth. Love asserts that some things are right and some things are wrong. Love insists there is a fixed moral order that has been transgressed. Love says what we would rather not hear and rejects what we would rather accept.

And so the Christian who truly loves becomes a troublemaker. And troublemakers will never be considered nice.

Headaches & heartaches

The juxtaposition of a Tylenol ad with a mother’s testimonial is a somber reminder that the church’s witness must be prophetic and priestly.

Rod Dreher has a post over at The American Conservative that you really need to read for yourself. It consists of two separate examples of the blatant propaganda being served up in the effort to redefine the nature of transgenderism.

First up is a Tylenol add that ironically (or is it paradoxically?) turns out to be a headache-inducing homage to today’s undefined family. Were it not for the inclusion of some intolerant newspeak in the script (note especially the socio-linguistic pronouncement by one of our leading lights at the 30 sec mark), you’d find The Beatles were singing this message fifty years ago.

But the second example provided by Dreher (via a reader) is heartbreaking. It’s a testimonial from the parent of an autistic girl who identified as a lesbian who then identified as a male who is now transitioning to a “boy.” The contrast between Tylenol’s agitprop and the mom’s story is jarring. One can’t help but feel sympathy for a mom who feels she missed her opportunity to protect her daughter from harm; for an autistic teen who couldn’t appreciate the decision she was making and now will suffer consequences she can’t understand; and for a host of other vulnerable young people who will be treated as guinea pigs for the cause of “human dignity.”

The juxtaposition of a Tylenol ad with a mother’s testimonial is a somber reminder that our society needs a church who will be prophetic and priestly. It’s not enough to be a lonely voice crying out in an expanding wilderness. We also need to be ministers who sympathetically serve the ones left to languish in the wilderness.

Irreverent musings: a devil’s advocate for the death penalty

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has revised its resolution on capital punishment to account for evangelicals who oppose the death penalty. CT covered the story by declaring that evangelicals are “now officially divided on [the] death penalty.”

Setting aside the strength and weaknesses of either position, arguments like this are begging the question:

“As Christ taught throughout his ministry, no one is ever beyond redemption,” wrote a group of eight evangelicals, mostly pastors, who asked Nebraska to end the death penalty. “Yet the death penalty risks cutting short the process of redemption in the lives of those imprisoned.”

Enter the devil’s advocate:

  1. Did Christ really teach that no one is beyond redemption? (Mat 23:29-33; Mk 3:28-29; Jn 17:12)
  2. Is it possible to cut short God’s process of redemption? Is redemption ever thwarted because a man dies before God can finish his work? (Psa 139:16)
  3. Couldn’t the death penalty speed up the “process of redemption”? If a man has any inclination to settle his account with God wouldn’t he be more apt to do so prior to his “date certain” death? (Luke 23:39-43)

Just sayin’.*

*The author is hereby immune from any criticisms, especially those that would cast doubt on his Christian bona fides. Further, he has no obligation to respond to niggling comments, counterarguments, or cross-examination although he welcomes feedback. -The Administrator