You may have noticed that my posting dropped off precipitously last Fall. We had a death in the family and, at virtually the same time, I went through a major career change, and seemed to have lost my muse. A lot of it, I think, was being forced to focus on temporal matters. Previously I had been in the same job for a long time, and perhaps was on auto-pilot in regard to making a living. But my employer went out of business, and I had to change jobs and could no longer take things for granted.

In the meantime, the great earthquake known as the presidential election took place. It was so upsetting to me that I stopped watching the news months beforehand. Trump was the very last of the Republican candidates that I wanted to be nominated, and the one who I thought had the least chance of beating the Democrats. I simply resigned myself to eight more years and beyond of Democratic rule, and wished to hear no more about it. It was like knowing with certainty that a train was about to crash with catastrophic results. Some would call that a thing that you can’t help watching, but I tend to turn my eyes away from such things (assuming there’s nothing I can do to prevent it). Knowing the tragic outcome is enough for me, I don’t need to see pictures.

I believed Hillary would win, but could foresee no happiness either way. It was time to check out, prepare for martyrdom. I don’t mean that literally. I didn’t think physical martyrdom was imminent. But I must resign myself to living as a Christian in a regime hostile to Christianity.

When Trump won, I was surprised at how happy I was. It was as though a great weight had been lifted. It wasn’t that I loved Trump, but that the political trajectory which I thought was unstoppable, suddenly altered course. Primarily I exulted in the fact that the Democrats would not get to name the replacement for Scalia (peace be upon him). But also, that a huge chunk of the electorate voiced an emphatic “NO!” to political correctness.

I consider Trump a great big boor, a vindictive teenager in an adult body, crude and rude and annoying. Nevertheless, I am a conservative (according to my lights) and a Christian. How can I not be happy when he appoints pro-life Christians like Ben Carson and Betsy DeVos to his cabinet? What an amazing turnaround, when I had resigned myself to the likes of John Kerry and Kathleen Sebelius for the foreseeable future.

I must admit also that I found the inauguration speech encouraging. What struck me most, not as a Christian but as an American, was the slogan “America First”: “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.” A simple idea, one that you would think would be taken for granted, not needing to be said. And again, “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world — but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.” Of course it is. We expect other countries to do so, and we should do so ourselves. The job of our government is to look out for our interests, not to “make the world a better place”.

Again I’m not a Trump admirer, and did not vote for him, in the primary or in the general election. But when I hear the anti-Trump rhetoric, I can’t help feeling all the gladder that he won instead of them. If the rhetoric focused on him being an immature jerk, I would have no quarrel with it. I’m embarrassed that someone who conducts himself as he does in public, represents us before the world. But I’m convinced that him being the equivalent of Hitler or the KKK is sheer fantasy. I’m far, far more disturbed by the rhetoric and behavior of the anti-Trump factions, than I am by Trump or his followers. I find them far more divisive, indeed I believe they are deliberately so, as a matter of political strategy, whereas Trump’s divisiveness is accidental, following upon his clumsy and brutish manner of expressing himself.

I have no illusions that the next four years will be wonderful or that Trump’s administration will be beyond reproach and devoid of scandal. He’ll do some things right and some things wrong, like any other president. But he’ll do some good things that the Democrats would never have done, and will avoid some bad things that the Democrats would have done, and I can’t help feeling glad about that.

God comes when the night seems longest

It is fitting that Christ should have been born at night, that most of sinful humanity should have slept through the event, and that those who were awake to see it were practiced in vigilance. The shepherds, about whom we read in today’s gospel, kept watch over their sheep through the night. To stay awake was their job, and the angels in a blaze of blinding light appeared to them as they kept vigil. Then they went to find the Babe in the manger who was the Light of the World, and in the morning glow they amazed the people of Bethlehem with their story of the Child who came in the midst of darkness.

One night changed everything. And so night became the enchantment of colored lights and carols in many tongues, and the daystar became a symbol of the Son of God and the hope of the future.

We celebrate Christmas during the very time of year when the night is longest. G.K. Chesterton remarked on this when he said:

Any one thinking of the Holy Child as born in December would mean by it exactly what we mean by it; that Christ is not merely a summer sun of the prosperous but a winter fire for the unfortunate (The New Jerusalem, Ch. 5).

Fr. Andrew Geiger, “Christmas Mass at Dawn” Mary Victrix blog, December 25, 2016.

The government can’t change reality

“The idea that a government would see it as its duty or within its power to redefine what a family is is a sign of a fatal misapprehension. A culture is not defined by its laws; rather, the laws are defined by the living culture. It’s not like murder and theft become bad because governments enact laws against them. Neither do families become different because judges decide that laws will be misconstrued and votes overturned to redefine what a family is. All that does is assure that the police powers of the state will now be used against anyone who does not go along with the insanity.”

Joseph Moore, “Politics as the Least Important Thing“, Yard Sale of the Mind blog, September 16, 2016.

Hilarious Science! About-Face: This way… Wait, no, that way…

Study finds conservatives are more authoritarian … or not (re-blogged from Yard Sale of the Mind).

Yard Sale of the Mind

Dr Lazarus “You were holding it upside down, weren’t you?” “Shut up.” “You know, with the makeup and everything I actually thought he was smart for a second…”

At the wonderful Retraction Watch site, under the title Epic Correction of the Decade, we find out that that study which purported to show that conservative people are more authoritarian and prone to “psychoticism” than their clearly better adjusted and more stable liberal neighbors, a report you could have read about in just about every major publication in this country – I saw it at the NYT – got a couple things a tinsy bit wrong – as in completely and stunningly  diametrically opposite the truth wrong:

The authors regret that there is an error in the published version of “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies” American Journal of Political Science 56 (1), 34–51. The interpretation…

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Chesterton off the top of his head

An excerpt from a debate between Bertrand Russell and G.K. Chesterton on the bringing up of children. The following is Chesterton’s response to Russell’s suggestion that children might be better raised by nursery schools than by their parents:

‘You are going to payout money to a lot of officials in order that they may do something which nature will make a few people, parents, do already! You are exactly like a lunatic who should walk in the garden in the pouring rain and hold up an umbrella while he watered a plant.’

This was off the top of his head, since it was a live debate and not a written one.

Must doubt accompany faith?

Faith has traditionally been known as one of the three theological virtues, along with hope and charity. But who would ever say that uncharity is a necessary compliment to charity? Or that Christians can never have hope without despair? Yet people seem blind to the absurdity of saying that doubt must accompany faith.

Holy Saturday

O God, who by invisible power accomplish a wondrous effect through sacramental signs and who in many ways have prepared water, your creation, to show forth the grace of Baptism;

O God, whose Spirit in the first moments of the world’s creation hovered over the waters, so that the very substance of water would even then take to itself the power to sanctify;

O God, who by the outpouring of the flood foreshadowed regeneration, so that from the mystery of one and the same element of water would come an end to vice and a beginning of virtue;

O God, who caused the children of Abraham to pass dry-shod through the Red Sea, so that the chosen people, set free from slavery to Pharaoh, would prefigure the people of the baptized;

O God, whose Son, baptized by John in the waters of the Jordan, was anointed with the Holy Spirit, and, as he hung upon the Cross, gave forth water from his side along with blood, and after his Resurrection, commanded his disciples: “Go forth, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” look now, we pray, upon the face of your Church and graciously unseal for her the fountain of Baptism.

May this water receive by the Holy Spirit the grace of your Only Begotten Son, so that human nature, created in your image and washed clean through the Sacrament of Baptism from all the squalor of the life of old, may be found worthy to rise to the life of newborn children through water and the Holy Spirit.

Blessing of Baptismal Water, Easter Vigil.