Oh Grouse All Ye Faithful

I left the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) a few years ago because of the relentless politicization of their services,

But on Christmas even, I went back to a local PCUSA congregation for their Christmas Eve concert service; the church has a choir and chamber orchestra and they do a really really excellent musical service. Given how awful Presbyterian choirs usually are, it’s doubly surprising; it’s one of my favorite ways to spend Christmas Eve.

Musically, anyway. Which is a wonderful thing.

But the pastor’s homily was kind of jarring. He asked why we were there – which is far from an unusual Christmas sermon theme, and the pastor asked it far from unusual; we might be there, he speculated, because we were seeking the familiar, or because it was something our loved ones who were no longer with us might have loved, or even because it was our home congregation.

Or maybe, he said, it was out of fear. Fear of the craziness of today’s politics. Fear for some amorphous group he called “the dispossesed”. Fear of the “very real threat” of nuclear war breaking out.

And after almost asking out loud “where WERE you during the Cold War?”, I thought to myself; here’s a minister of a *very* well-off congregation, full of people who gave off visible signs of not just “privilege”, but that self-assured sense people have when they have several generations of assurance that Their Opinions Matter in this world; legislators and city councilpeople return their calls, their agendas find their way into the halls of power, and they were very, very well-represented in Saint Paul’s and Minnesota’s political class.

And this on top of the fact that, for the vast majority of this world – especially in its less tony quarters, far removed from green leafy Crocus Hill – *things have never been better*. For the first time in the history of the world, obesity is a bigger problem to the people of this world than malnutrition. While there are some ugly situations around the world, more of the world has been at peace longer than at virtually any time in history. Outside of a few flashpoints, fewer people per capita are dying violently in this world than at any time in history I can think of.

The minister was talking less about “fear” than about “lingering anger about the wrong person winning the last election”. Which is indistinguishable from fear in some people.

If I were inclined to be bothered by, well, anything on Christmas (and I am not), it would have put an ugly blot on an otherwise beautiful service.

(Which makes it an ugly blot that doesn’t bother me, I guess)

46 thoughts on “Oh Grouse All Ye Faithful

  1. FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) is one way to fill the seats and the collection plate.

  2. Years ago at my son’s high school graduation party, I played the role of an annoying dad by asking his friends what they planned to do with their lives.

    Of the 25 or so kids, 25 or so all responded that they wanted to work in a profession that “did good”. They wanted to be social justice activists, join an NGO, become a doctor or social worker – and rescue animals during their off hours.

    Granted, this was in Northfield, actually we lived in downscale Dundas (otherwise known as Dumbass) but the force was still strong. Rather than be somebody, the kids wanted to be somebody who did good.

    Being the annoying dad, I couldn’t let that rest. I asked if anyone knew the difference between doing good and good being done. Nobody knew what I was talking about. Most people still do not.

    At least in my mind, a do-gooder is someone who puts themselves at the center of good. The poor, the oppressed, the starving babies in Africa, all exist to exalt the goodness of do-gooders. It is their only function. It is why they suffer.

    But there are those, who rather than doing good, try in their small way to see that good is done. They live their lives in obscurity. They do what they do in obscurity, but do it as best they can – because that is how good is done.

    Before all the kids drifted away (scratch that, before they fled), I suggested that if anyone truly really wanted to help the poor and oppressed perhaps they should study accounting and shoot for an MBA – because there is an inverse relationship between the goodness of an NGO or agency’s mission and how well managed they are.

    No one understood that either. They still don’t, least of all the clergy.

  3. Do-gooders: making themselves feel better by using someone else’s money
    Good being done: insert Francisco’s speech.

  4. Greg, I learned to fly at the grass strip at Stanton. That’s a beautiful part of the country. I’ve got to make a point of getting back there this Spring.

    Those kids you talked to (or some of their generation born around 1990), rented a house from me to live off-campus, two blocks from Hamline University. They had the same idea – get a good education so they could work for a non-profit saving the world.

    Not for free, of course. They wanted to be paid well for saving it, just not by a for-profit corporation because those are evil. They wanted to work for a non-profit corporation because those are good. Not one of them could articulate the difference in organizational structure or corporate mission beyond Good and Evil.

    I blame high school civics teachers.

  5. Joe, I have often driven by the grass strip at Stanton and gazed longingly on the aircraft and especially the gliders there. Unfortunately my vision disqualifies me. It is the same vision that prompted a recruiter to inform me that the army does not provide braille M16’s.

    As for doing good, of course you want to do well – while doing good. For this, I blame the entire educational industrial complex, not just high school civics teachers. The whole mob has done quite well for themselves.

  6. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to All!

    Whose woods these are I think I know.
    His house is in the village though;
    He will not see me stopping here
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.

    My little horse must think it queer
    To stop without a farmhouse near
    Between the woods and frozen lake
    The darkest evening of the year.

    He gives his harness bells a shake
    To ask if there is some mistake.
    The only other sound’s the sweep
    Of easy wind and downy flake.

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.
    “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” Robert Frost

  7. I get it Mitch, it’s ok for churches to say that people should vote for W or Trump and protect those churches from loss of their tax exempt status (as the GOP has promoted doing), but saying that Jesus said beat your swords into plowshares is “too political” and saying we should live those values is being too politically involved right? Or perhaps it’s that it’s wrong to say that we should care for those in prison and feed those who are hungry or that he told the rich man to give away half (or all in another case) of his wealth and then come seek Jesus? Maybe it’s equally wrong to point out that the Bible talks about the excesses of power and wealth about 100 times more often than it talks about abortion or homosexuality, yet I assume it’s ok to talk about God/The Bible, as Roy Moore does, superseding common law and the Constitution?

    You have a log in your eye. If you don’t like people pointing out that Christianity, REAL Christianity, is compassionate – I can certainly understand why you might not like going to a church which say so, but complaining about the politicization of religion is the height of GOP hypocrisy. Gods, Guns, and Gays wasn’t just thought up as a nice slogan, it was said in reaction to the hyper-politicization of religion which the GOP has used to turn middle America against it’s own economic self-interest.

  8. As far as the sermon goes, first, where were you during the Cold War? Judge not lest ye be judged, Mitch, I know your answer but you don’t know his.

    Second, he was challenging that very level of comfort that you criticize.

    Third, I disagree that we were at greater threat of a nuclear exchange during the VAST majority of the Cold War than we are currently. While unlikely, certainly, the chance of an intentional limited exchange is more real with Kim Jong Un than with Leonid Brezhnev. The Cuban Missile Crisis bore that out. The Soviets were HIGHLY provocative and we were highly provocative back, yet, calmer heads prevailed. In DC and in Pyongyang, there aren’t calmer heads, at least not at the top.

    Fourth, we have a greater problem with obesity than we do with malnutrition? I’m assuming you can’t be serious if you say that meaning worldwide, for that is decidedly not so. We produce enough food for the world, but it is not distributed properly. Coincidentally, we are making NO efforts as a nation to fix that problem. As a nation we have a serious problem with obesity, much of which stems from us having too little free time to exercise and the cheapest foods being the least healthy for us/promoting obesity quite simply because we have industrialized our food delivery system meaning because people eat what tastes best, but is not necessarily best for them, we have industrialized giving them really unhealthy, high-fat foods.

    Last, to say we are at a time of the greatest amount of peace in the world? My first response is, says who? You? Do you think the UN would agree? Based on UN data in fact we are NOT at an all-time low. Just in the past 30 years it was lower in 1985 than today. I think your comment is one of what you “wish”/”think” is true rather than what IS true. While conflict overall is lower than 10 years ago, battle and terrorist related deaths have recently spiked, not fallen. See attached…

    Coincidentally Mitch, to the extent conflict has fallen, many people rightly attribute the ability to bring conflicts to the world court/to the UN for resolution – ironic that you were yesterday advocating we shouldn’t participate…


    Last Mitch, even if what you said WAS true, does that mean we should no longer care? Does that mean the world is “hunkey dorey” and we can now sit on our asses – well, and back to the point of your pastor, as a Christian it most certainly doesn’t. For, in fact there is MASS starvation still going on in the world in conflict zones, in fact there is still massive amounts of conflict, and our answer is not ONLY to sit and chide the person next to us for their comfortable affluence (I find it ironic that you’d do so given you otherwise laud wealth and found your complaint on the point oddly in keeping with the point the pastor was making), but is, as your pastor says, for us to challenge ourselves to do more than just come to church on Christmas and talk about how much better a person we are than our neighbor.

  9. “Terence, this is stupid stuff: You eat your victuals fast enough;
    There can’t be much amiss, ’tis clear, To see the rate you drink your beer.
    But oh, good Lord, the verse you make, It gives a chap the belly-ache.
    The cow, the old cow, she is dead; It sleeps well the horned head:
    We poor lads, ’tis our turn now To hear such tunes as killed the cow.
    Pretty friendship ’tis to rhyme Your friends to death before their time.
    Moping, melancholy mad: Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.”
    — A. E. Housman

  10. Penigma says:

    but saying that Jesus said beat your swords into plowshares is “too political” and saying we should live those values is being too politically involved right? Or perhaps it’s that it’s wrong to say that we should care for those in prison and feed those who are hungry or that he told the rich man to give away half (or all in another case) of his wealth and then come seek Jesus?

    I would suspect that a modern day Jesus would say, beat your multi-trillion dollar civil service pension funds into…. After all, where was all that money supposed to go?

    Ever heard of a quadruple dipper?

    I have. I know more than a dozen.

    A quadruple dipper is a civil servant who retires on full pension after 30 years, say at age 48 then goes to work for another branch of government, say the state, city or county and where they earn another pension. All the while, they stoke money into deferred comp and collect social security.

    At retirement, they receive four lines of income, three protected against inflation.

    I wonder what Jesus has to say about that?

  11. “We produce enough food for the world, but it is not distributed properly.”
    If you want to see people die slowly of starvation, put socialists in charge of growing & distributing food. It has happened over and over, time and again, throughout South America, Eastern Europe and Asia. If there is one absolute certainty in politics, it is that putting the government in charge of distributing food will result in mass starvation. Everyone but an idiot or a college professor knows this.

  12. How joyous to attend a Christmas service and have the preachers conversation go to current events and potential nuclear Armageddon. I have to wonder if the pastors predecessor surmised the same correlation back in 1957 when Sputnik was launched and Eisenhower was POTUS.

  13. “…turn middle America against it’s own economic self-interest.”

    Here’s my idea. Let’s kill every single government employee that retired on what is effectively a $ 3,000,000 taxpayer funded annuity (frequently at 55) and give it to “middle America”.

    We could also do the same with the change in Bob Corker’s and HARRY RIED’S net worth while they were in office. it wouldn’t do sh** but it’s a nice gesture.

  14. Penigma: Why is there inflation? Why does the government inflate the currency? Why do they do that? Can it be measured?

    What if the inflation goes into global capital markets and homes / apartments otherwise known as SHELTER? What are the implications of that?

    Where else does the inflation go besides capital markets, homes, and the 100% contrived and all-but-meaningless CPI? Tell me.

  15. it’s ok for churches to say that people should vote for W or Trump and protect those churches from loss of their tax exempt status

    But nobody did say it.

    ourth, we have a greater problem with obesity than we do with malnutrition? I’m assuming you can’t be serious if you say that meaning worldwide

    Take it up with those crazy conservative zealots in The Lancet.

    You’re familiar with Lancet right? The study is summed up by CNN, and again by a real news organization, which notes that three times as many people are killed worldwide by obesity as by malnutrition.

    This has never happened. Not in all of history. If you’d have told someone fifty years ago that this would happen,, they’d have said…pretty much what you’re saying now.

    for that is decidedly not so. We produce enough food for the world, but it is not distributed properly

    No democracy with a free press has ever suffered a famine. The only time something resembling a democracy has ever suffered a famine was in India in 1943, when the Brits, in the face of a Japanese invasion, censored the press, letting the rumor mill run amok. The locals started hoarding food – so even though there was more than enough food projduction, and more than enough smart administrators for “property distribution”, 2 million starved.

    Politics is the least efficient possible way of distributing resources, like food. History shows it.

  16. Pen – I’d like you to respond to this next bit, even if you ignore my previous comment.

    So you believe that famine and malnutrition is a common, current thing, in abeyance of actual evidence.

    That means you are pretty much like that congregation, or at least that minister, that I talk about in my post; clinging to misery in the face of what is historically wonderful news.

    Think about it.

  17. Penigma is right about one thing: the world was safer when only the United States had nuclear weapons, because we could be trusted to use them sparingly and wisely.

    Liberals are responsible for allowing/funding nuclear proliferation down to the mullahs and the rocket man. Your bunch all but handed the weapon to a nut-job, now you blame the intended victim for taking steps to defend itself.

    For shame, Penigma.

  18. Q: Why did they ***force everyone*** into Social Security and Medicare without building forced actuarial stabilizers into them?

    A: Because they knew it would make Penigma hysterical.

  19. A small note. The quote about swords into ploughshares comes from Isaiah, the Old Testament, that is, before Jesus was born. As far as I know/found, Jesus had no quotes in this regard. On the other hand, it’s usually best and most amusing to let Penigma have his (her? its?) Germans attack Pearl Harbor moments in peace.

  20. Penigma complies about “chained CPI” as if it mattered that they found a new way to steal from people.

  21. Thanks, JDM, I was thinking the same thing.

    It amuses me when Liberals berate Conservatives for not being Christian enough. Their accusations are inevitably variations on the No True Scotsman logical fallacy but Liberals are too convinced of their own intellectual superiority to realize how stupid they sound.


  22. Joe, you’re welcome. Your No True Scotsman remark is quite true. It’s analogous to the observation that Liberals always hate patriotism, but don’t ever impugn theirs.


    “INFLATION IS ABOUT CALCULATION, so it is about who controls that calculation.

    (Disinformation War)”


    The concept that inflation can be measured is idiotic. The reason they do this is to enable the government and the financial system to steal from us. Also, inflation and discretionary central bank policy is a regressive tax to enable our geopolitical hegemony. You can’t be militaristic with a hard money policy that’s fair to the serfs.

  24. You know what inflation is, in the final analysis?


    Wasting money, arguably.

    All you are is a lab rat, unless you figure out how to get in on the scam.

  25. Then people wonder why we need multi vector welfare systems, including Medicare and Social Security.

    Get your cut or suffer.

  26. Pingback: Sign O The Times? | Shot in the Dark

  27. I love it when leftist nitwits invoke Jesus to support their mummery…Jeziz wuz teh Socialist!

    Yes, Christ was most definitely in favor of economic socialism. But that largess came with a lot of pre-conditions.

    Christ preached the dangers of sloth. “But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?”

    He was most adamantly against debauchery and promiscuous sex. “And Jesus said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY”

    The nuclear family is the only appropriate way to raise kids “And Jesus said, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.”

    He also advised we judge bad behavior “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.”

    Christians are taught to be compassionate; not suckers.

  28. adding to: Alt-Good Swiftee

    When is it religious or whatever to be compassionate with government force and central planning? All of this is freaking ***voted on*** as if that will work. When is it the “best” option? How did it come to this?

  29. Swiftee, Jesus had nothing to do with tem commandments! Haven’t you seen the movie?

  30. “I love it when leftist nitwits invoke Jesus to support their mummery”

    The best is when the Left says: “Your big book of fairy tales (lol) commands you to pay high tax rates! Don’t you dare disobey your “God” (lol)! Oh and your ‘Pope’ (lol) says you have to be better to the Earth.

  31. TFS-
    Matt Dowd proudly proclaims “Country over Party!’ I doubt that he knows that is essentially a fascist slogan (“nation over party”). It is profoundly un American to believe that the government doesn’t exist to balance private interests, but instead exists to enforce a national interest. The former is written into our constitution. The latter idea is imported from the European continent.
    Dowd insists that he has run successfully run businesses while paying his emplyees more than he had had to. He is scanty on the details. I’ve run into liberals who have said this. In all cases, they are reluctant to explain how their business model is profitable while paying significantly above market wages. In Dowd’s case he hints at the reason for his success. His companies were startups. Startups aren’t suppose to turn a profit, they are expected to grab market share while running a loss. That is why so many fail. Operating expenses are covered by venture capitalists in return for an ownership share. If the investors lose faith in the ability of the company to eventually turn a profit, they bail, and the startup goes OOB overnight. They do not return investment by turning a profit, they return investment by increasing the value of the company. Amazon is a classic example. It has never paid a dividend. It has never made a profit and distributed that profit to investors.

  32. “It is profoundly un American to believe that the government doesn’t exist to balance private interests, but instead exists to enforce a national interest. The former is written into our constitution. The latter idea is imported from the European continent.”

    This gets at the heart of the problem. Woodrow Wilson centralized the government and created an activist central bank. We have been “managing” inflationist – collectivist statism ever since. This is why we “need” government so much. It quit working after globalized labor, computers, and robots started creating ***deflation*** which is the ***natural*** way for may to live.

    The problem is the beneficent government-borg can’t tax deflation. It can’t “give” us stuff paid for with ***deflating debt*** anymore.

    This is why all of the central banks own so many securities. All governments and their mandarins HAVE to have either CPI inflation or asset inflation they lose power.

    The Tea Party failed because of Lois Lerner et. al. So we got Trump. Good and hard. Trump is The Weapon From God To Slow Down Socialism and Cultural Marxism.

    So the central banks will keep doing this until something breaks. My side has the guns thank God.

    And people like Penigma are useful idiots for this crap.

    Listen to interviews of David Stockman, Deirdre McClosky, and Charles Hugh Smith etc. Check out the interview of Doug Nolan on Peak Prosperity.

  33. “Politics is the least efficient possible way of distributing resources, like food. History shows it.” –Mitch P. Berg

    The End.

  34. This article goes with a long post I have above that needs moderation. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/economist-american-men-become-less-164311266.html?utm_content=buffer050e5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    ***Slight constant deflation*** is the way man has lived prior to central banks. Your money constantly purchase more even if you don’t get any interest on it. Trade, outsourcing of jobs, robots, PROGRESS either pays or has it’s pain buffered by the fact that via money everyone’s agency keeps going up no matter what.

    Now look at the social problems in that article. Where did they come from? I have my opinion. It talks about fertility rates, which is killing Medicare and Social Security.

    This unmanageable scam started under Woodrow Wilson.

    Mises.org isn’t wrong about very much, ever.

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