Slutpride!

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I was recently asked to cover an event coming to London known as the ‘Slutwalk.’
 
The event, which features scores of women walking down the street dressed as ‘sluts,’ started in Toronto on April 3, 2011, with an attendance of over 3000 people. Since then (at least according to the Wikipedia article about it) it has spread to other towns throughout the US, Canada, Australia, Europe and even the Middle East. It is shortly to reach London.
 
It is anticipated that the event in London will be the biggest Slutwalk yet, with thousands of marchers meeting at Trafalgar Square. If the Toronto and Boston events were anything to go by, the march will feature scores of women dressed in bikinis, miniskirts and other minimalist outfits (some have even gone completely topless). In an earlier walk one woman marched in her underwear with the word ‘slut’ written across her skin.

There are many issues that an event like this raises and in an article at Alfred the Great Society I have explored some of the fundamental issues at stake regarding sexual identity. To read my article click on the following link:

Bulverism

In an article I published with the Charles Colson Center, titled 'The Shadow of Ezekiel Bulver', I mentioned about Theodor W. Adorno (1903 – 1969) and the Frankfurt movement. I pointed out that Adorno set in motion the tendency to consider that those who held conservative views were not just wrong, but neurotic; and not just neurotic, but neurotic in a fascist sort of way. By converting ideas into pathologies, the Frankfurt school set in motion the trend of  psychologizing political opponents as a substitute for critical engagement.
   
Consider: Following in the footsteps of Adorno and the Frankfurters, one does not need to show how a truth claim is false provided that it can be identified as being “sexist,” “homophobic,” “patriarchal,” “logo-centric” or even “Islamophobic.” Terms such as these can be bandied about to short-circuit rational debate, even as Ezekiel Bulver’s mother closed down her husband’s discussion with the unanswerable exclamation, “Oh you say that because you are a man.’”
 
Because our public discourse implicitly attaches a greater premium on diagnosis than argumentation, whole swathes of public assumptions become immune to critique. The result is frequently to induce a state of affairs described by George Orwell when he remarked that “at any given moment, there is a sort of all-pervading orthodoxy – a general tacit agreement not to discuss some large and uncomfortable fact.”

To read more, visit my article, 'The Shadow of Ezekiel Bulver' at the Charles Colson Center.


Your Food Freedom is Threatened

Back in 2009 I wrote an article for World Net Daily warning that nationalized health care is the thin end of a wedge that can only end in totalitarianism. I argued that this is because any time there is a direct link between the physical health of a populace and the nation’s fiscal integrity (which there obviously is when government promises to pick up the tab on everyone’s medical expenses), the state cannot help but develop an inordinate interest in keeping its citizens healthy. I argued that a government which promises to provide health care for its citizens begins to take a deep interest in the minutiae of their personal lives.

As if in uncanny fulfillment of my predictions, news has been pouring in of the American government asserting control over the health decisions of its people. No longer is it our own business what we eat and drink – it’s the deep concern of Uncle Sam, and he is prepared to use force to bring us into line.

My concern over this issue prompted me to do an interview with Ryan Close on the importance of health freedom and how that freedom is currently under attack. Read the interview now.

A Festival not a Machine

In an article I wrote earlier in the year about Jonathan Edwards, I pointed out that when medieval man had looked up into the sky and contemplated the heavens, he was greeted not with a deep vacuity, but with a delightful dance; not a machine unwinding like clockwork, but a magnificent ceremony unfolding like a dance. Dorothy Sayers described the medieval universe as having “hierarchy, order, and purpose” as its “distinguishing marks” while C.S. Lewis described as “tingling with anthropomorphic life, dancing, ceremonial, a festival not a machine.”
 
The writings of thirteenth-century poet Dante Alighieri were animated by this same vision. The universe of Dante was alive, pulsating with the energy of God and His angels, bathed in radiance and glory:
 
The glory of Him who moves all things soe’er    
Impenetrates the universe, and bright    
The splendor burns, more here, and lesser there.
 
In his book, English Literature in the 16th Century, C.S. Lewis observed that all Christendom shared this same vision until roughly the seventeenth century. Under the impetus of advances in science, man began to complete a process Lewis describes as “emptying” the universe. Man, with his new powers of observation and scientific analysis, “became rich like Midas but all that he touched had gone dead and cold.” (From Lewis’s essay, ‘The Empty Universe.’)
 
After the 17th century advances in science, man began to complete a process that Lewis described as “emptying” the universe. With his new powers of observation and scientific analysis, man “became rich like Midas but all that he touched had gone dead and cold.”  The universe that emerged under the telescope of modern science was “dead and cold” precisely because it was an autonomous mathematical machine, no longer radiating with aliveness. It was not that thinkers at the advent of the modern age had actually stopped believing that the world was created by God; rather, they began to view the mechanisms of the universe as separate from spiritual categories.
 
C.S. Lewis suggested that a key figure in this paradigm shift was the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1630). A pioneer in the 17th century scientific revolution and precursor to Newton, Kepler began his career within the medieval tradition of explaining the motion of the planets by their anima motrices. By the end of his life, however, he was describing the stars mechanically. The net effect of the new mechanistic science was towards a disenchanted, de-spiritualized – one might even say dismembered – view of materiality.
   
As the 17th century progressed, this despiritualized view of matter was made even more explicit by a number of thinkers, not least Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). Hobbes advocated a philosophical materialism which effectively collapsed all of reality into the physical realm. The universe of Hobbes consisted entirely of matter in motion, while matter exists entirely of extension. Thoughts are nothing other than images formed from the residue of sensations produced by external objects acting on our bodies.
 
There is no logical reason why a thoroughly scientific understanding of the universe should lead to a mechanistic and impersonal view of the cosmos. After all, to identify what a thing is made of or how it works, is to say nothing about what a thing is. That is why the best Christian thinkers have found beauty and personality in the very mathematical precision of the cosmos and its motions.
 
In his 2000 publication The Spirit of Liturgy, Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) explains how St. Augustine built upon the cosmology of the Greek philosophy Pythagoras who “did not interpret the mathematics of the universe in an entirely abstract way” but followed the ancients in believing that “intelligent actions presupposed an intelligence that caused them.” Ratzinger continued:

The intelligent, mathematical movements of the heavenly bodies were not explained, therefore, in a purely mechanical way; they could only be understood on the assumption that the heavenly bodies were animated, were themselves ‘intelligent.’

For Christians, there was a spontaneous turn at this point from the stellar deities to the choirs of angels that surround God and illumine the universe. Perceiving the ‘music of the cosmos’ thus becomes listening to the song of angels, and the reference to Isaiah chapter 6 [Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory,” Isaiah 6:3] naturally suggests itself.

Refutation through Diagnosis

In an article published at the Charles Colson Center, I referred to an essay that C.S. Lewis published in his book God in the Dock. In the essay, titled “‘Bulverism’ or, the Foundation of 20th Century Thought,” Lewis identified a practice that was becoming widespread in his day – the practice of psychologizing those we disagree with instead of showing how their arguments are actually false.
 
“Nowadays,” wrote Lewis, “the Freudian will tell you to go and analyse [those who] all think Elizabeth a great queen because they all have a mother-complex. Their thoughts are psychologically tainted at the source.” While it may be true that those who think Elizabeth a great queen do so because they have a mother-complex, “Does the taint invalidate the tainted thought – in the sense of making it untrue – or not?” asks Lewis.

We run into this sort of thing all the time. Keep reading

Rousseau and the Parenthood of the State

In her 1910 publication Euthenics: The Science of Controllable Environment, Ellen H Richards wrote that, “The control of man’s environment for his own good as a function of government is a comparatively new idea in republican democracy….It is part of the urban trend that the will of the man, of the head of the family, should be superseded by that of the community, city, state, nation….In the social republic, the child as a future citizen is an asset of the state, not the property of its parents. Hence its welfare is a direct concern of the state.”
 
Richards’ idea was a simple one: children do not belong to their parents, but are the property of that Great Parent known as the State.
 
The idea that parents should stop thinking of their children as belonging to them was echoed more recently in 1996 when Hillary Clinton addressed the United Methodist General Conference. “As adults” she said, “we have to start thinking and believing that there isn’t really any such thing as someone else’s child. My child, your child, all children everywhere, must live and make their ways in society, and now, in the increasingly shrinking world we live in, in the larger globe as well.”
 
Such ideas are not limited to the United States. When I lived in Britain in 2007, the UK’s Institute for Public Policy Research put forward a proposal for increasing “identity, citizenship and community cohesion” in Britain. The report urged christening services to be replaced by “birth ceremonies” in which the parents agree to “work in partnership” with the state to raise their children.
 
The idea that we should think of the State like a parent is actually nothing new and is old as sin itself. When the emperor Diocletian published his Edict of 301, mandating the persecution of Christians, he justified the move by referring to himself and his associates as “the watchful parents of the whole human race.” Similar examples of rulers ascribing to themselves parental privileges abound throughout the history of the ancient world.
 
But while the idea of the parental state may be nothing new, its modern manifestation can be traced back to one notorious French villain: Jean-Jacques Rousseau. To read more about Rousseau, visit my article at the Alfred the Great Society titled, "Rousseau and the Parenthood of the State."