It’s come up on the blog before – I wasn’t a big Jimmy Carter fan. The consequences of Carter’s one term in office played a disproportionate role in my becoming a conservative in the first place.

He’s garnered a lot of hagiography for his philanthropic work over the past 40 years or so – and earned a few brickbats for his dingbat contributions to foreign policy. Like President, lie Ex-President.

But there’s a throwback aspect to Carter that we could use more of; the idea that political opponents weren’t entirely sub-human.

The family of his late wife Rosalynn did something I can’t imagine a lot of Democrats, and even a few Republicans, doing today:

I’ve most certainly gotten cynical over the years. I’m not alone – the funerals of Paul Wellstone and George Floyd certainly set the bar for public funerals, and set it very, very low.

I’m glad to see someone can still get over it.

Righteous Battle

I grew up Presbyterian – and remained in the church because I believe the Presbyterian Book of Workship puts less temporal BS between God and the Man who wants to study Him than any of the alternatives.

The Presbyterian Church and the people who work within it have been a huge influence on my life.

Of course, the biggest mainline group in the denomination, the Presbyterian Church USA, was swallowing the “progressive” line long almost as long as the Episcopals and Methodists. Their diversions into lefty politics and “social justice” are on record – and I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the PCUSA’s membership is on track to leave it extinct by 2050.

Given a choice between fighting and leavin, I left. I found a breakaway Presbyterian sect that focuses on faith, not progressive politics. It wasn’t easy, but I found one.

But others are fighting.

A friend of the blog emails:


I thought you might find this interesting. It’s an effort by orthodox Christians to retake rather than leave churches in historically progressive denominations. The following map is of congregations that are low on the progressive scale.

I came across it on a podcast.

And I’m reminded – picking up and leaving a church is like picking up and leaving a state; it works until the thing you’re getting away from decides not to stop coming after you.

Purity Test

SCENE: Mitch BERG is cleaning out his garden boxes. Busy hauling stalks to the truck, he doesn’t notice Avery LIBRELLE, patrolling the alley, looking for over-filled recycling bins to report to the city.


BERG: Hey, Avery…

LIBRELLE: Shut up. The GOP’s new Speaker of the House is anti-science. I have proof!

BERG: Huh. So since the Speaker’s job has nothing to do with developing theories, formulating hypotheses, designing and conducting experiments and documenting results, much less trying to figure out how the universe “really” formed, what difference does it make?

LIBRELLE: Who wants our leaders to believe fairy tales?

BERG: Let’s ignore for a moment that theology, like mathematics, logic, physics, even history, are different ways of analyzing different evidence about the universe. Let’s say that you have a brain tumor, and you need brain surgery, or you’re going to die, but quick. So you go to the world’s leading brain surgeon – the one person who can save your life. So far so good?


BERG: That person has got to be a person of impeccable scientific credentials, right?

LIBRELLE: Of course.

BERG: So you meet that surgeon, and he explains his record – overwhelmingly successful – and his technique, his reasoning, and his plan. And everything sounds right. So far, so good?


BERG: Then he tells you he believes the universe is 6,000 years old and was created in six days by an imnipotent God.

LIBRELLE: Oh, I’d cancel the surgery instantly!

BERG: Why?

LIBRELLE: He clearly doesn’t believe in science! But why are you wasting time with a hypothetical example?

BERG: Nothing hypothetical about it.

LIBRELLE: When I know more about science than the world’s leading brain surgeon…

BERG: Your degree was in what?

LIBRELLE: Grievance studies with a minor in Sociology!

BERG: Right. Hey, look (points down the alley) I think the Gruenbergs mixed green glass in their clear glass…

LIBRELLE: (Looks down the alley. BERG makes his escape. LIBRELLE doesn’t notice, heading down the alley and getting his…er, her…er, a smart phone camera ready to go…).


False Idols

Don’t Create False Idols” is a Biblical commandment; essentially saying don’t turn God into a token object.

It is important enough to the Christian faith to rate as one of the ten standing orders for the faithful.

And, really, it’s great advice for life in general.

For example – I’m not one who creates an artificial separation between faith and science.

But if you do? If you claim to exalt reason over “blind” faith, and adulation of physical objects or people over empirical rigor?

It’s still good advice.

Off Script

SCENE: One morning at MNDFL Headquarters. An array of progressive Minnesota luminaries are gathered around a table. At the head sits Lieutenant Governor Peggy FLANAGAN. To her right, Ken MARTIN, chair of the DFL. The other seats are occupied by Javier MORILLO of the SEIU, Denise SPECHT of Education MInnesota, Alida MESSINGER of Alliance for a Better MInnesota, and the senior staff of Minnesotans United for All Progressive Causes, the non-profit/money-laundering operation that works with the party.


(Esme MURPHY enters the room): Yes, Maam?

FLANAGAN: Gimme a g*****mn Manhattan.

MURPHY: Yes, ma’am. (Murphy exits.)

FLANAGAN: OK, Ken, where’s the governor?

MARTIN (Yelling): Governor Walz?

WALZ (Enters from a closet next to the exit door). Hraaaa hraaa hraaaas hreaa One Minnesota hraaaaa hra hra hraaaaaa Best State (holds out an iPhone, takes a selfie) hraaaa hraaaa hra hra donut hraaaaaa hraaaaa…

FLANAGAN: Got it! Enough! (WALZ goes back into the closet).

FLANAGAN: We need an example of a place in the real world that is dominated by Democrats and exemplifies love and equity.

Inge “Lucky” CARROLL, a former guidance counselor at a school for monomaniacs, Inge is Head Meme-Buffer at “Minnesotans United for All Liberal Causes, raises her hand.


CARROLL: Let’s have them look at Hamtramck, Michigan. It’s solid Democrat country – their Democrat congresswoman won by a sixty point margin. And the city is majority Muslim and is run by an elected Muslim city council, and they just voted…

(CARROLL squints at a site on her phone) uhhhhhhh

On Tuesday, Hamtramck, Michigan’s city council, unanimously voted to banPride flags from being displayed on public property. Located just outside Detroit, Hamtramck is the only Muslim-majority town in the United States.

The ruling was celebrated with cheers and applause inside City Hall, where dozens of concerned residents, Muslim and Christian, had shown up to express their thoughts on the matter.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the resolution was introduced by Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Mohammed Hassan, and applies not only to Pride flags, but also those promoting any “religious, ethnic, racial, political, or sexual orientation group.”

“Only, the American flag, and the nations’ flags that represent the international character of our City shall be flown,” Hassan stated, adding that it was imperative to “maintain and confirm the neutrality of the city of Hamtramck towards its residents.”

FLANAGAN: (Sits, dumbfounded)

(The closet door opens. Governor WALZ steps out, and wanders around the room like a Roomba)

WALZ: Hraa hra hraaa hra hraaaaa hraaaaa hra BestState hra hraaaa hra Fully Funded hra hra hraaaaaa hra hra hraaa hra…


Common Cause

A friend of the blog emails:

Reading this news report at Alpha News, I am struck by this question: Why don’t conservatives make common cause with the local Muslims?

They want good educations for their children, just like Moderates, Conservatives, and Christians do.

Muslims by and large are much more puritanical about these sorts of things and very specifically do not want infidels teaching this spiritually debasing poison to their daughters.

What if Senator Wesenberg and Rep Walter Hudson were to personally approach Imams in their district and statewide for their input on this issue. The Qur’an highlights the community of faith between followers of monotheistic religions (Jews, Christians and Muslims), and refers to them collectively as Ahl al-Kitab ‘People of the Book, a phrase that is used frequently in the Qur’an and Prophetic hadith. 

Maybe the fastest way to do this would be for the GOP to amend the education bill with a requirement that ALL MN schools, public, private, and charter be required to have these four books available for their students; “It’s Perfectly Normal,” “Sex is a Funny Word,” “It’s So Amazing,” and “It’s Not the Stork.”. I’ll bet that would shake some peaches out of the trees.

Better yet, someone tell Erin Maye Quade or Leigh Finke to push the amendment.

I bet they’d do it.

As to making common cause with Muslims, especially ones that aren’t tied at the hip to the DFL? The time is long overdue.

Chilling Effect

Not long after the FBI put Catholic worshipers on its politically, motivated watchlist, this happened:

Not jumping to conclusions, here – because I don’t think there’s any need to jump. As we continue to wait for the “epic wave of right wing violence“ that Obama promised us, the epic wave of left-wing violence continues.

The Bullied Pulpit

Remember last year, in the immediate aftermath of the Dobbs decision, when Kansas referred a constitutional amendment banning abortion to a popular vote…

…and it lost?

In deep-red (but for Wichita and Kansas City) Kansas?

Big Left took it as a bit of great news – “Even Red America is pro-choice!”

Smarter Americans read it this way: America is divided on abortion:

  • About 15% want abortion through all forty weeks, and maybe even a little after (no, I’m not bveing hyperbolic).
  • 20-odd percent want to ban abortions completely – many with exceptions in the rare cases where the mother’s life is at risk.
  • The remainder support some form of abortion, with support sloping steadily downward from six to 20 weeks, and nearly vanishing after the halfway point in the pregnancy.

The DFL, dominated by that first 15%, has jammed down the most extreme interpretation of “choice” this side of California. Will the people lash back from the extremes, the way they (arguably) did in Kansas?

Well, if I have anything to do with it.

One group that should, doctrinally, be in the second 20% – or at least the most moderate parts of the larger 60% – is Catholics. Of course, we know Catholics oppose abortion, because Catholics never get divorced or eat meat on Fridays, either…

…but if there was ever a time for a hypothetical archdiocese to get serious about doctrine, one might think this would be it.

Ten Catholics in the House, and three in the Senate, voted for the “PRO Act”.

Now, at least a few Catholic bishops and priests have invoked ecclesiastical sanctions against some “pro-choice Catholics”, so it’s not without precedent.

So the question remains – is Archbishop Hebda going to do his job, or find some artful and obtuse grounds to evade it?


A friend of the blog emails regarding the “Muhammad” flap at Hamline that I wrote about last week:

It is entirely possible that Aram Wedatalla read the syllabus for the course last summer, saw that there was a warning about the image of the Prophet and signed up for the course with an eye toward kickstarting her political career by manufacturing this incident. Aram Wedatalla is after all President of the Muslim Student Association at Hamline. This is a great resume builder for someone who sees their future in the NGO/Nonprofit universe and eventually following in the footsteps of Ilhan Omar into public office. The mind positively boggles at the thought that she was “blindsided” by the picture of the prophet, Aram Wedatalla is not an Innocent.

It’s very entirely plausible.

In fact, it’s entirely possible this entire situation has resulted in no victims whatsoever.

Wedatalla may have launched her career – no mean feat for a “-studies” major at an also-ran university.

Professor Lopez Prater? She became a national cause celebre, perhaps the most famous adjunct professor in the country, and got herself a gig at a more viable school.

The U of M Art Department profs that spoke out on her behalf? They got to thread that needle between being keeping their “woke academic” card and still defending free speech (by one of their own, natch).

There were no losers!

Other than Hamline.

Darn Those Redneck MAGA Fascists

Parents shut down a Dearborn, Michigan school board meeting over the distribution of “woke” books:

A school-board meeting in Dearborn, Mich. was shut down earlier this week by hundreds of protesters opposing the circulation of LGBTQ books across the city’s public-school system.

Viral videos recorded by a Detroit Free Press reporter circulated on Twitter showing pandemonium breaking out at the meeting Monday night. Many of the protesters carried signs in English and Arabic: “Keep Your Dirty Books in the Closet,” “Stop Grooming Our Kids,” and “Homosexuality Big Sin,” some read.

Darn those redneck fascists with their signs in English and…

…uh, what now?

Ooof. A protected class going after a couple of protected classes. That’s gotta be awkward.

Wonder what Rashida Tlaib has to say about it?

That Brave Stance Thing

Rep. Omar:

So, Rep. Omar – are you condemning the regime’s actions?

Because by your logic, the women of Iran are fighting against being forced to don the hijab

…which you call “Islamophobia” when Americans say it.

Just want to be clear, here.

Stumble Of Faith

I’m a conservative, and a Christian.

And I cringe at some of the things said in the name of “conservative Christianity“.

Which I hasten to add, because some of the things I’ve seen from “progressive Christians“, including some friends and classmates, this past few days have had me cringing even more.

Three things, specifically:

“Christ came to earth to forgive mankind‘s sins – so if you oppose loan forgiveness, you’re not a very good Christian“.

This is not “loan forgiveness”. This is transferring the loan to people who didn’t borrow it.

Will it benefit some people? Sure, it must be nice to have $10-$20,000 in balance disappear.

But this political act has nothing to do with Christ’s grace – dying for the sins every individual commits. It’s more like rounding up randos off the streets because someone else committed a murder. 

“It’s predatory lending!”

You can make that case. But unfortunately, the “forgiveness“ will do nothing to change that. In fact, it will only accelerate the “predatory“ lending, since everyone applying for those “predatory loans“ is going to figure “the first $10,000 is going to be free, again, anyway…“.

In fact, if the administration had sat down in a room to figure out the worst possible solution to student debt, this would’ve been it.

They could’ve made universities, with their hundreds of billions of dollars of endowments, share some of the risk. They could’ve even just cut interest rates.

But no. Fighting predatory lending by making everyone else pay is like fighting street crime by dumping piles of wallets out on the street and hoping people will stop holding other people up.

“New Ministers Go Deep Into Debt – and Don’t Make Much Money”

A couple of (it’s fair to say) “liberal” clergy I know have pointed out that their denominations require a Masters in Divinity (MDiv) to be ordained – which can cost up to $200K, as much as law school or medical school – but their first jobs out of seminary pay something close to minimum wage. And it’s fair to say outside Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar and Pope Frank, nobody goes into the ministry to get rich.

But isn’t that a little odd – an academic discipline (a product and service) that pays badly, and doesn’t necessarily cater to the children of immense wealth, costing well into six figures? I mean, if “products and services for people without a lot of money to spend on them” were prone to spontaneously inflating out of reach, the McDonalds cheeseburger would be $25.

At any rate – presenting this as a gesture of Christian grace is cynical, manipulative and profoundly wrong.

Faith Heeling

Where we are now:

Many common social-justice phrases have echoes of a catechism: announcing your pronouns or performing a land acknowledgment shows allegiance to a common belief, reassuring a group that everyone present shares the same values. But treating politics like a religion also makes it more emotionally volatile, more tribal (because differences of opinion become matters of good and evil) and more prone to outbreaks of moralizing and piety. “I was thinking about that Marx quote that religion is the opium of the people,” Elizabeth Oldfield, the former director of the Christian think tank Theos, told me. “I think what we’ve got now is [that] politics is the amphetamines of the people.”

Writing for the Atlantic (via MSN), Helen Lewis also noticed something else:

I asked Alex Clare-Young, a nonbinary minister in the United Reformed Church, whether their faith or their gender was more surprising to Generation Z acquaintances. “I think probably being religious,” Clare-Young responded. “I know a lot of LGBTQ+ young people who say it’s harder to come out as Christian in an LGBT space than LGBT in a Christian space.”

Of course it is. In our world, the wrath of the mob is more fearsome than the wrath of God. And you’re more likely to get instant karma if you don’t bow to conventional wisdom. If you see a sign in someone’s yard, proclaiming “In This House We Believe [select platitudes here]”, it’s almost certainly a leftist. I suppose it’s good when they self-identify. But as the old saw goes, the devil is in the details.

The Right Indoctrination

SCENE: Mitch BERG is at REI, getting a handlebar cell phone carrier for hjs bike. He rounds the corner from the coffee cups, and runs into Avery LIBRELLE, who is shopping for…something? BERG tries to backpedal quietly away, but it’s too late.


BERG: Oh, shhhhhhhhure as I stand here today, it’s Avery…

LIBRELLE: Shut up. The Supreme Court just violated the separation of church and state, by allowing an educator to pray at school functions.

BERG: Well, you got a few of the facts right.

LIBRELLE: What would you think if a Muslim were to throw down a prayer mat on the fifty yard line and delay the kickoff while he prayed to Mecca?

BERG: Coach Kennedy didn’t interrupt the game with an ostentatious prayer in the middle of the field. It was a personal observance, after the game, involving him and only him. Other than the fact that it took place on the field around people, it couldn’t have been less public.

LIBRELLE: It caused an uproar.

BERG: It caused a small group of progressives to go to the school board and, after years of such observances, change the district policy to ban “demonstrative religious activity, readily observable to (if not intended to be observed by) students and the attending public.” 

LIBRELLE: So what would you think if a Muslim did something like that?

BERG: Have you actually been in the Midway Target? The Roseville Walmart? Seeing Muslims throwing down their mats at prayer time in an out of the way part of the store is nothing new at all. I care about it no more than a Christian praying whereever they want.

LIBRELLE: Yeah, but what if a non-Christian kid sees the demonstration, by one of their school’s authority figures? That’s going to put pressure on them. (Nods smugly)

BERG: So let me get this straight: a Christian school staffer, praying, privately but in public view, is…

LIBRELLE: Oppressive, fascist and probably white supremacist and racist.

BERG: Mkay. In the meantime, a non-binary or LGBTQ teacher telling kids the details of their personal and identity’s sexual orientation, including how their various orientations practice intimacy, to kids of all beliefs, including Christian and even Muslim kids, telling them there are infinite genders and no real notion of masculine and feminine, when they’re still at an age where the parents haven’t had “the talk” with them themselves yet?

LIBRELLE: Essential social education, to make up for the sloth and incompetence of parents.

BERG: Aaaah…

(They are interrupted by an employee)

EMPLOYEE: (to BERG): Can I help yo, sir?

BERG: (waves box with holder). Good to go.

EMPLOYEE: (to LIBRELLE) And you, si…uh, maa… (looks at BERG, startingi to panic a big. BERG shrugs)

LIBRELLE: I need a new seat for my electric recumbent bike.

BERG: So you, the big environmentalist, have switched to a coal-powered bike?

LIBRELLE looks up, alarmed, stammering, giving BERG time to make his break.


I Gotta Confess…

… I had completely given up on the Catholic Church ever actually enforcing it’s doctrine with regard to most progressive causes, including abortion.

So my jaw may have dropped just a little when I saw that archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, has apparently barred the speaker of the house from communion, more for wrapping her support of abortion in Catholicism as far as being “pro choice”:

“A Catholic legislator who supports procured abortion, after knowing the teaching of the Church, commits a manifestly grave sin which is a cause of most serious scandal to others. Therefore, universal Church law provides that such persons ‘are not to be admitted to Holy Communion,'” he says in the letter…Cordileone says in his letter that he wrote to her on April 7, informing her that “should you not publicly repudiate your advocacy for abortion ‘rights’ or else refrain from referring to your Catholic faith in public and receiving Holy Communion, I would have no choice but to make a declaration, in keeping with canon 915, that you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” He says that since that time, she has not done so.

I have little doubt that there will be a procession of “progressive” Catholic churches lining up to break the archbishop’s injunction.

The Catholic vote

This piece from the NCR highlights one of the factors in the upcoming election, the Latino Catholic vote.

This disconnect with immigrant voters and their values accounted in large part for the most remarkable fact about the 2020 election: Donald Trump did better among Latinos than he had done in 2016, and also among Black voters in some states.

He noted, too, that in any election, a Republican is likely to get at least 25% of the Latino vote, that the demographic has never been as monolithic as one might think listening to talking heads on television breezily pontificate on “the Latino vote.”

Fraga also noted that the disconnect between young activists and the voters they seek to reach can be “a very significant problem.” For example, the website at the voter mobilization group Voto Latino repeatedly uses the term “Latinx,” despite the fact that the Pew Research Center found most Latinos are unfamiliar with the term and do not use it.

“The best way to contact a Latino voter is with someone who is a co-ethnic and who refers to the demographic in the same way they do in the local community,” Fraga explained. In some areas, “Hispanic” is more common, and in others “Latino” is typical. Only among academics and students is “Latinx” even used.

Democrats need to figure this all out, and soon. According the projections from the nonpartisan National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund (NALEO), “At least 11.6 million Latinos will cast ballots in 2022, a 71.4 percent increase in the number of Latino voters from 2014.” That increase is expected to be in key battleground states where both parties have recognized the need to invest in voter outreach to the Latino community. “Latino voter turnout in 2022 is projected to increase from 2018 in the key battleground states Arizona (9.6 percent), Colorado (8.9 percent), and Nevada (5.8 percent),” the group said.

The Left has long had a problem talking to people of faith (ie people who actually believe something and take their faith seriously) because the Left’s default position towards such people is hostility. Biden’s campaign site had a long of list of “plans” that were going to solve everything everywhere. One such plan was for Catholics. It reads like someone who forgot to complete the essay assignment due later that same day, and so just grabbed another document out of the policy filing cabinet, erased “Labor, Women and Minorities” and penciled in “Catholics.”

First of all, the second paragraph:

Vice President Joe Biden believes that in America, no matter where you start in life, everyone should be able to live up to their God-given potential. He knows that we need to rebuild the middle class, and this time make sure everybody comes along—regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.

While that laundry list might make the ladies of the ELCA swoon, it’s not an especially Catholic-specific conversation, is it. Then, the points that follow are:

Build an economy where everyone comes along and we protect the “least of these”
Respect the dignity of work and give workers back the power to earn what they’re wort
Ensure that affordable, quality health care is a right for all Americans
Pursue a humane immigration policy that keeps families together, strengthens our economy, and secures our border
Serve as stewards of our creation and protect our planet against climate change

(And in case you were wondering, not a hint of abortion.)

Nice try. And good luck fooling those Latino Catholics who take their faith seriously. The kind of young people that David Shor wrote about last fall, the ones who have yanked the steering wheel of the Democrat Party far to the left and are standing on the gas pedal, have no idea how to reach faith voters, and it shows. Predictable results to follow in November.

Not Our Kind, Dear

Victor Davis Hanson, in an interview with Tucker Carlson, explains why he longer works for the magazine of William F. Buckley:

I think there were certain people in the Republican movement, or establishment, who felt it is their duty to internally police their own, and that’s kind of a virtue signal to the left.

We are just part of your class, we share the same values as you do, and we keep our crazies. And they are not empirical.

Empiricism is hardly a growth industry, but clinging to tradition has its charms, especially if doing so allows you to strike down your rivals. There’s a long history of keeping crazies at National Review. During his long reign at NR, Buckley famously put paid to the Birchers and anarcho-capitalists like Murray Rothbard, casting them to the outer darkness. Later on, Buckley cast out writers he had championed, including Joseph Sobran and Pat Buchanan, both for anti-Semitism. My father subscribed to NR and I would read it cover to cover in my youth. Once I set up my own household, I subscribed for over a decade, but after a while the value proposition wasn’t there.  

Buckley has been gone for over a decade now, and while his beloved NR is still in operation, it hasn’t been a serious enterprise for a long time. Back in 2016, NR tried to cast the Bad Orange Man to the outer darkness, marshaling dozens of arguments against the Dread Pirate Drumpf, but all their sound and fury signified, well, nothing. Why was that? No one really took NR seriously any more.

While Victor Davis Hanson doesn’t need a particular platform to be heard, his departure from NR means the cupboard is bare. It’s not surprising, truth be told — Republicanism generally signifies nothing. Hanson knows why:

I think there’s an image that a lot of Republicans have, both in politics and they sort of represent a sober and judicious way of looking at the world, and we are the adults in the room.

And it’s more about a culture than it is an ideology.

I’m not convinced it’s even a culture. From our perch in flyoverland, the conservative movement NR embodies is a pose rather than an attempt at understanding, let alone defending, a culture. Back to Hanson:

The original Republican conservative movement, I thought, was going to go back and look at the Constitution, when Jefferson said it won’t work if you pile up everybody in the cities because they will be subject to mass hysteria. Or de Tocqueville, and you look at certain ideas, I thought that’s what we were.

I thought they would be champions of the middle class, but I don’t think they were. I don’t think they wanted to be.

Hanson is clearly disillusioned, but he had to know the truth — any classicist of his erudition understands that grandeur and the trappings of the elite are powerful intoxicants. And currying favor with our betters is lucrative. 


Justices Alito and Gorsuch pimp-slaps the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) with a rolled-up copy of the First Amendment.

FIllmore County, with the MPCA at their backs, wanted to force a group of Amish families in Fillmore County to either put in septic tanks or be evicted from their homes:

Fillmore County in 2013 started requiring homes to have modern septic systems to dispose of “gray water” from dishwashing, laundry and such. The Amish sought an exemption, saying their religion prohibits that technology. They offered instead to use earthen basins filled with wood chips to filter water as it drains, which are allowed in some states including Montana and Wyoming. But the county went as far as seeking a court order to force 23 families from their homes if they refused to comply, Gorsuch wrote.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the Minnesota courts “plainly misinterpreted and misapplied” the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which was also at issue in the Philadelphia case.

The act “prohibits governments from infringing sincerely held religious beliefs and practices except as a last resort,” Gorsuch wrote, urging the Minnesota court and local authorities to swiftly resolve the dispute.

“In this country, neither the Amish nor anyone else should have to choose between their farms and their faith,” he said.

Trump’s judicial legacy is looking more and more to far outweigh all stress he caused.

Church, State, And The Condition Of The Soul

It’s been a longstanding issue — how does the Catholic Church deal with politicians who are Catholic, but who actively support policies inimical to the faith? Especially now, since Joe Biden, a lifelong Catholic, is in the Oval Office? The nation’s bishops are meeting this week and the matter is coming to a head:

This week at their annual spring meeting, the bishops of the U.S. Catholic Church — the largest faith group in the country — will debate the meaning of Communion and whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be barred from receiving it. The conversation and a vote among the church’s top clerics could have significant ramifications because it centers on one of the most intimate moments of Catholic worship and binds it uniquely to a specific political and policy position.

Intimate moment isn’t quite right; rather, the Eucharist is central to the faith. And within the Church, the centrality of the Eucharist means the stakes are high. But if you’re going to rely on the Washington Post to explain the matter, you’re going to get dogma of a different sort:

The vote comes after two decades of deliberate, passionate focus by Catholic political and theological conservatives to make abortion a litmus test for the sacrament, while church teachings on poverty, climate, racism and authoritarianism, among other things, become more subjective to follow. It also comes after years of hardening toward abortion opponents within the Democratic Party.

Much of that description is doubletalk, frankly. We have 2000 years of history with the Church and arguments about politics have been part of that history from the outset, but poverty has always been an ongoing concern. The default position of Catholicism is faith and works, which is why Catholics build hospitals and schools everywhere they go. And ascribing passion as the prevailing emotion for conservatives is cute, when you consider the behavior of the pro-choice side.

I, like Joe Biden, am a lifelong Catholic. Biden is an ostentatious sinner, but so am I. Understanding my faith has been an ongoing effort for me, especially since the Vatican II teaching I received was equivocal on many issues. I am a graduate of a well-regarded Catholic high school in Wisconsin (Top 50 in the country — just ask them!), but the quality of the religious instruction I received wasn’t very good. Scarcity applies not only to economic matters, but also to clear moral instruction. And in this Archdiocese, which harbored monstrous priests for decades, even the clearest moral instruction is tainted. Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and many other Catholic politicians benefit greatly from this loss of trust. But Biden is a Catholic in a secular world. And I cannot know the condition of his soul; assuming that I do would be a sin as well.

Biden is also a symptom of a larger malady. As time has passed, Catholics in the West have been following the same dismal path that mainline Protestants have followed — the buildings remain, but the people aren’t coming. We still get decent attendance at my parish, but the faithful parishioners are aging rapidly and many young families are otherwise engaged on Sunday.

Still, hope remains. COVID has actually helped our parish school, which remained open while their public school counterparts were on a year-long Zoom call with cameras off. Parents who would not have considered enrolling their kids in a Catholic school gave Catholic education a chance and many of them are returning this year. And there is tremendous energy in the Church, mostly in places that were once missionary lands. It wasn’t a coincidence that the current Pontiff came from South America, even though his worldview is decidedly European, but there is a decent possibility that the next Pope will be from Africa or Asia. A revival is not guaranteed, but the Holy Spirit hasn’t left the building.

Pop Life

I’ve never much liked the entire “Seventies Midwestern Arena Rock” genre. 

But among the bands in that genre, it’s Styx that’s always gone beneath and below the rest, the one whose impression to me swerves from apathy into active dislike.  

It’s not that they couldn’t play.   They certainly had live game. 

But unlike REO Speedwagon, or Head East or Trooper or April Wine (I know, they’re Canadian, but they fit the genre) or Michael Stanley Band or any of the others that were more or less like them, Styx’s Dennis DeYoung spent most of the late seventies and eighties whining about how awful being a pop star was, how degrading the machinery of the stardom industry was, and what mindless sheeple the fans were. 

To which I eventually responded “OK – then go to work in a meat processing plant and quit your whining”.

We’ll come back to that.


This is the Sinead O’Connor I suspect most of us remember:

This is the response I suspect most of us, even us Protestant goyim that found, nevertheless, much that was admirable about JPII, would have loved to have made:

Thirty years and change along, and it turns out it wasn’t (just) rabid anti-Catholicism. Turns out she really, really, really loathed being a pop star, and she also had some serious mother issues:

In the book, she details how her mother physically abused her throughout her childhood. “I won the prize in kindergarten for being able to curl up into the smallest ball, but my teacher never knew why I could do it so well,” she writes…O’Connor was 18 when her mother died, and on that day, she took down the one photograph on her mom’s bedroom wall: the image of the pope. O’Connor carefully saved the photo, waiting for the right moment to destroy it.

“Child abuse is an identity crisis and fame is an identity crisis, so I went straight from one identity crisis into another,” she said. And when she tried to call attention to child abuse through her fame, she was vilified. “People would say that she’s fragile,” Geldof said. “No, no, no. Many people would have collapsed under the weight of being Sinead O’Connor, had it not been Sinead.”

Of course, being an “artist” (I put the term in scare quotes not because O’Connor isn’t one – she was an exceptional singer – but because the term has been stretched far beyond meaning these days) means being able to pass the abuse on without ever having to adopt any sort of adult coping skills, which is one of the reasons people go into being one in the first place.

The piece is an interesting read, although kind of depressing by the time you get to the end and really digest it.

Oh, yeah – I said I’d come back to Styx and Dennis DeYoung. I have a habit of saying “we’ll come back to that”, and I don’t, always. I should go back through a few years of this blog’s history and finish some of those threads.

Anyway. DeYoung.


Actually, for all the whining about the pop star life he had (and still has), and how vocally I dislike most everything he has ever written, in or out of Styx, DeYoung would seem have avoided the most cliched pitfalls of stardom; he’s abstemious and rigorously healthy, as devoutly Catholic as O’Connor is, well, not, and he’s been married to the same woman for 50 years; he used to take his family on the road to avoid, y’know, all the problems that families get when Dad is on the road all the time. And as whiny as most of his music was, in interviews he’s always been one of the funniest, most genial, and seemingly audibly well-adjusted, grateful people in the music business.

That might be worth an article all by itself.


I’ve got a lot of Catholic friends who are also conservatives.

I keep asking them – “when is your bureaucracy going to start enforcing the church’s supposed beliefs, like publicly supporting the right to life, or at least not being pro-infanticide, on “Catholic” politicians?

“We will. We will”.

But they don’t. Never.

But is the specter of Joe Biden, a publicly practicing Catholic, being called “the most faithful President in recent history” (by a chattering class that generally regards Christianity as a den of know-nothjing ignorance) and a representative face for Christianity and Catholicism in public, finally goading the Bishops into action?

Maybe, but don’t bet your mortgage payment on it:

But we now hear from a few murmuring bishops that the Church must address Biden’s unworthy reception of Communion. “US Catholic bishops may press Biden to stop taking Communion,” reads a recent AP headline. Nothing concrete, however, is likely to come from these complaints. The U.S. bishops, as a whole, lack the will to withhold Communion from Biden, even though canon law says that they not only have the right but the duty to do so. Canon 915 “obliges the minister of Holy Communion to refuse the Sacrament” to those in “manifest grave sin.” If Biden’s direct facilitation of the killing of unborn children doesn’t fall into that category, what does?

Not being Catholic, I’m not hip to the vagaries of intra-curial politics, but the American bishops strike this Orthodox Presbyterian as not a whole lot more concerned about such things than the ELCA.

Not An Animal

“Protect” Minnesota has a new executive director.

We’ll come back to that.

Modern American “progressivism”, like all its many forebears in the past 200 years, has been all about rallying people against boogeymen. From “monarchists” in the French Revolution, to “Wreckers” in Stalin’s USSR to the Wobbly’s “Bosses”, up through “the patriarchy” and “the man” and “counterrevolutionaries” in Red China and San Francisco in the sixties and seventies, and if you have a hard time distinguishing between ’em, join the club.

Today, the boogeymen…er, boogiepeople on the left are pretty much all the things that people who are included are told to be “anti”. “Anti-Racism” “Anti-Misogyny” (not just sexism, anymore – it’s the more active, more malevolent noun these days), “Anti-Fascism”, “Anti-Transphobia”, and on and on – all of which sounds like good things to be “anti”…

…and, unsurprisingly, when you dig into the “Root Causes” of all those nouns, all things trace back to “Western Civilization” in all its particulars: the Judeo-Christian value on the individual and their worth, value, rights and responsibilities and potential of each and every person, as a person with a mind, a point of view, and at the end of the day an indivisible soul of personal, societal, political, intellectual and metaphysical worth.

Those aspects of humanity are anathema to progressivism in all its flavors. The focus is on the group – the Marxists “classes”, the Nazi’s irreducible focus on race, the modern academic Left’s obsession with a byzantine network of intersectional identity groups. The individual is nothing but a vote (for now), an appetite, a widget to be moved through the production line of life (like Obamacare’s awful caricature of Progressive humanity, “Julia”). Progressivism is “Materialist”. Souls, individual intellects and thoughts and reams, all are ephemeral; humans are widgets that consume and produce, and whose worth and value (to those in power) is expressed via their membership in the collective.

Those widgets have a term. “Bodies”. Not people. Not brains. Not souls.


Anyway – “P”M has a new director. And unlike the dotty, dizzy neverending font of comedy that was Heather Martens, or the serial fabulist The “Reverend” Nancy Nord Bence, the new director presents us with a few surprises.

She’s “a gun owner herself” – which might be seen in several ways. Is “P”M moderating? Are they realizing that the culture war has slipped far enough away from them, especially over this past year, that they have to start speaking to people who need to be convinced?

And she’s apparently incredibly famous, since she apparently just goes by “Rashmi”. I’ve turned “Protect” Minnesota’s website, Facebook feed and other social media upside down, and not been able to find any reference to a last name, which is Seneviratne, by the way.

But even during the reign of the serial fabulist the Reverend Nord Bence, “Protect” MN wasn’t nearly extreme enough in its hatred of guns and (law-abiding) gun owners, enough for some people.

“P”M spawned a breakway group, “Survivors Lead” – basically a woman, Rachel Joseph, with a long history of progressive activism and a story; an aunt who was murdered, according to Ms. Joseph’s story, by a gun.

Quick aside: I don’t minimize anyone’s trauma over having a loved one murdered. But in the many times I’ve heard Ms. Joseph’s story, she’s never once mentioned a perpetrator, someone actually holding and using the gun that killed her aunt; that persons evil motivation, the legal fallout from the murder, whether that person was sentenced or not. It’d be wrong to crack wise – “what, did the gun animate itself?” – but omitting a perpetrator, his/her motives and the like from the conversation is incredibly intellectually dishonest.

Anyway – “Rashmi” and her apparent moderation are not going over well with “Survivors Lead”:

The extreme heckling the not-as-extreme about getting less extreme. That qualifies as “dog bites man”, at the very most.

Rather less so? There followed some more, er, ethnically pointed traffic on one social media feed (from which I’ve long been blocked) or another.

After which “P”M – operating through its usual social media persona, the omniscient third person that used to be Martens and Nord Bence – responded:

On the one hand, watching the agents of Big Left eating each other is one of my favorite spectator sports.

And if the biggest semi-organic anti-gun group in MInnesota (shaddap about Moms Want Action already) is pivoting from pushing Linda Slocum’s gun grab bill to highlighting the inequity of gun control (“Race, class and geography all play into who gets to have a gun and who doesn’t” – which is something every Second Amendment activist has known for 50 years) and speaking in the first “person” to the prudence of victims of violence to arm up, then in culture war terms that’s the sound of the first tank crossing the pontoon bridge at Remagen.

But…”white bodied privilege?”

What the flaming hootie hoo?

I thought for a moment – is this a shot back at the Rachel Dolezals and Elizabeth Warrens of the world, with their flip-flopping identities, by “actual” “people of color”, reinforcing the idea that while you might “identify” with one degree melanin or another, your apparent appearance still wins out in the great privilege lottery (which will, I suspect, get pilloried hard by the Trans crowd, for whom perceived identity is everything? I’ll let the fight that one out).

But no. It’s much less hilarious than that.

It’s “inclusion language” – slang or argot that one class of people use to track who is in, and who is “out” – to be sure. That’s part of it, and people are noticing:

Referring to people as bodies is a reminder, writer Elizabeth Barnes says in an interview, that “racism isn’t just about the ideas that you have in your head.” Barnes is the author of “The Minority Body: A Theory of Disability, The Girl Behind the Wall.” In intellectual discussions, theories about social oppression sound almost disembodied; “we talk about prejudice,” Barnes says, “like it’s just a matter of ideas.” The point is to emphasize the physical violence done to black people through slavery, lynching, and police brutality. In the case of women, the term “bodies” highlights “what happens to women’s bodies in health care contexts, in sexual contexts, in reproductive contexts.”

But behond that?

It’s a nod to the materialism of the left – that the mind, the thoughts, the indivisible soul of the indivisual human being is not merely irrelevant, but inconvenient to the obsession with identity.

Your melanin defines you.

In some ways its a cheap ad hominem – “of course you’d think that, you are (add a reference to your target’s melanin, or lack thereof)”. But pointing logical fallacies out to the foot soldiers of Big Left is a little like arguing salinity with sharks; it’s just part of the water they swim in.

So – gun groups eating each other? Good.

The debate contributing to the ongoing hijacking of the language? Bad.

The whole thing participating, in its own little way, in the further erosion of one of the ideals that’s made Western Civilization the most successful, and humane , civilization in human history?


Just So We’re Clear On This…

President Biden, we’re told, is a devout Catholic, which is a good thing…

…as opposed to Amy Coney Barrett, for whom it was a bad thing.

Also – “Ascendant liberal Christianity is an eternal hope on Big Left. Sort of like Blue Texas. There’s anways been a “blue” church: mainline Presbyterians, white Methodists and Episcopoals, ELCA Lutherans, and an awful lot of mainstream Catholics, who have made their peace with abortion in exchange for programs just as easily as “Feminists” made theirs with Bill Clinton.

The “blue” church is “ascendant” because one of its own is in power. These also happen to be the denominations that are in demogrpaphic free-fall.

But there is no narrative but the narrative.


It’s that time of year.  I’m receiving exhortations to Give Back such as this one from TCF Bank.  They annoy me.

Why this time of year, particularly?  The message doesn’t explicitly link December to Christmas to Jesus Christ and thence to a duty of Christian Charity, because that would be overtly religious and might offend someone.  But if my obligation to Give Back isn’t a religious obligation, from whence does it arise?  And if it is a religious duty, what if my religion takes a different view and why are you imposing your religion on me? 

How much am I obligated to give back?  10%  More?  Is it a progressive obligation – the more I make, the greater percentage I must give?  Give to whom?  My church or mosque or synagogue, because it’s a religious obligation; or some do-gooder group so I can purchase a bit of vicarious virtue?  Does ‘shopping locally’ count as ‘giving back’ if I shop at a nearby big box retailer because the little stores were closed by decree of King Herod . . . I mean . . . Governor Walz?

I dislike the modern fetish of using Christmas to promote social causes rather than remember Christ.  I prefer the old method of soliciting donations for charitable causes:

‘At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,’ said the gentleman, taking up a pen, `it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir. . . A few of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink,and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

That pitch appeals to me.  So do the bell ringers at the Salvation Army kettle.  That’s why I never pass one without dropping a buck in the bucket.  I made a special point of withdrawing $20 in ones, just to have them on hand.  Because they don’t engage in silly virtue signaling, they quietly help people in need.

Joe Doakes

1000% on board re the Salvation Army. I never pass one of them without dropping in a buck or five (or at least I never pass ’em twice – I grab cash and break the bill on the way out).