Tuesday, April 28, 2015

America's problem

Inner-city Baltimore asks the nation: 

How do we socialize our young males?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, April 25

by David Pence


Do sanctions and blockade lead to peace or human rights? Consider this article about an Iranian dissident who supports both Nuclear Deal and Human Rights. He reminds us what most Americans do not appreciate as deeply as Iranians. Iran has been at war with the US and Israel since the 1979 revolution. Slogans such as Death to America! and Death to Israel! do not state  the theology of Iran, but their state of war. "Kill the Hun" and "Destroy the Japs" is how we said it in America when we were at war with those two countries. The religious revolution in Iran drastically altered the landscape of alliances for both  Israel and the US in the Mideast. It has been hard to reconfigure these relations even though Sunni extremism has recast the region in the last decade.


The New York Times reports the obvious displeasure of the Iraq government with the Saudi bombing of the Shia Houthis of Yemen. The military response of the Saudis to ISIL  in Iraq and AQAP in Yemen is miniscule compared to the ferocity of the bombings and blockade against the Houthis. The real enemies of the Sauds are  Shia insurgencies -- the target was not the nation state of Iran but the communal religious enemy of Wahhabis: the Shia. The greatest danger from various Salafi Sunni movements  to the US homeland comes from Al Qaeda of the Arabian Pennisula.  Why don't the Saudis bomb those enemies of ours instead of the Shia Houthis?  The Saudi bombing in fact has greatly aided AQAP. The foreign minister of Iraq (the government that was elected after the US overthrow of the secularist dictatorship of Saddam Hussein) asks the same question. The bombs were dropped. Shia were killed. For a moment the bombing had stopped. Then bombing resumed. Food shortages and access to necessities brought in by sea are as pressing a problem for Yemen Houthis who have armed themselves to protect themselves in this war-torn land. Armed Shia are considered a threat to Wahhabi Muslims even if they are in their own land. The strangest scenario is the clueless American press asking about Iranian arms while watching in plain daylight Saudi airplanes (fueled and directed by American intelligence) bombing the cities of their religious foes battling AQAP in another country.

Pat Buchanan provides a good summary of the opposing forces in Yemen.


The death of a thousand migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy is another cruel reminder that the NATO bombing campaign against the Libyan state in 2011 didn't quite end the way NATO explains at their site on NATO and Libya.  One video ends with pictures of women and children waving peace signs and a text declaring: "By the end of 2011, Libya was a free country." The reality of Libya is mindful of the 1970 era right after the 'peace and love summers' in San Francisco, when bikers and thugs took over the hippies' neighborhood. The lesson remains. Order is necessary for liberty; and the killing of a dictator must be followed by the construction of a state, or he will be replaced by a hundred pirates and a thousand petty tyrants.  

Looking at a map of the Mediterranean we see the Roman target that Hannibal saw from Carthage (present day Tunis in Tunisia). We see the land across the sea that present-day migrants from the failed states of northern Africa pray for. Finally, we are reminded of the strategic role of Malta as a small island between warring empires. On to Rome! is an ISIL phrase that resonates -- may the Knights of Malta intervene again.


Ethiopia has been Christian since the first century. Christianity became a state religion in the same century as Constantine's Rome (330 AD). Ethiopia is 90 million strong (two-third Christian, the rest Muslim). On April 20, 2015, the nation watched an ISIL video of 30 Christian countrymen beheaded in Libya (6 million; 97% Sunni Islam) because they would not deny Christ. Every man killed could have saved his life by renouncing Our Lord. Two weeks earlier on Holy Thursday the Christian country of Kenya (45 million;  65% Christian) had a university border town attacked by four Islamic fighters of Somalian al Shabab. There were 150 Christian students killed on Holy Thursday -- some at a Holy Week prayer service, others separated from Muslim students in dormitories and classrooms. Somalia, the coastal country home of al Shabaab, is 99% Muslim with a population of 10 million.  The fleeing Christians of Quaroqish needed armed Christian protection as ISIL advanced.  A good summary of the last several weeks and a question for American Christians.


There is something about the new way of war: sanctions against whole populations;  high flying unmanned drones killing a man in his home and village; an aversion to boots on the ground; a behind-the-glass theme that I will kill for my country but not die. War by regulations favors bureaucrats, not special forces; thus the ladies of the European Union have opened up yet another front against the Russians.


'Ummah' is an important Arabic concept for nation or community. It is a missing  word and concept in all too many "realist" schools of foreign policy. Here it applies to Scotland, and shows us that the loss of religion in Europe is going to be filled by some kind of Ummah -- most likely a hyper-nationalism undisciplined by the universal moderating tendencies of religion.This is what happend as atheistic Communism threatened Europe in the 1920's and 30's, and Adolph Hitler argued that only a return to a hardy racial pagan warrior past could save Germany from the revenge of the Western powers and the perfidy of the Bolsheviks. Today in every country in Europe, the banner of nationalism has been ceded to the irreligious. Is the political party SNP the new Church of Scotland?


Prophetic religion, not civil rights, is what ended Jim Crow in the American South.  Only when the nature of the debate became biblically grounded (not rights-oriented) did a Spirit-led movement triumph. Our cultural dilemna today is that once again we need to reframe the debate to rekindle the Spirit. Jennifer Morse makes a compelling argument why religious liberty is not the right flag.  Christianity vs the Sexual Revolution is a better hill to take. Austin Ruse aims his hammer at the same nail when he writes that men don't march for natural law.


China has its own jihadist warriors coming from the Turkic Muslim Uighurs in the western province of Xinjiang. Controlling this area depends on making allies with the foreign neighbor who could shut down the rebels or be their refuge. The pivotal  country is Sunni Pakistan with their nuclear weapons, and their own dilemma of Salafist agitation against the state. China supplied some military aid (as always, the type of aid which Pakistan can point against perennial rival India). The preponderance of China's aid, however, will build infrastucture helping Pakistan as a country and strengthening claims of the state to serve their population. The Chinese are contributing real wealth that underlies the stability of their allied states as they complete another Silk Road project -- this time Pakistan. When the Chinese think infrastucture, they think big at home as well as abroad.    


On April 17, 2015, Cardinal Francis George died. He was installed as eighth archbishop of Chicago in 1997 to fill a vacancy left by the death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (November 1996). He was the first native Chicagoan to assume the office. These two reflections on his life by Father Barron and George Weigel tell us many good things about him. This criticism documents a failure to rule and protect.  Cardinal George had an authentic kind of humility and a desire to to restore a "simply Catholic" culture. Many pictures of him are in a reflective mode depicting him as great intellectual.  He did not see himself that way. The much more consequential Chicago prelate was his predecessor, Cardinal Bernadin. Cardinal George was not a strong enough man to reform the deep-seated corruption and lavenderizing of the Chicago priesthood. In civic matters, he did not understand the most rudimentary of political institutions.  He once said:
“Instead of a world living in peace because it is without religion, why not imagine a world without nation states?… 
“Few there are, however, who would venture to ask if there might be a better way for humanity to organize itself for the sake of the common good. Few, that is, beyond a prophetic voice like that of Dorothy Day, speaking acerbically about ‘Holy Mother the State’..."
Cardinal George was the poster man of the exhausted bishop. His intellectual orthodoxy remained in the realm of ideas. He never enacted the orthopraxy of the protective shepherd. He threw up his hands to the world of men, nations, and war. When he had hiring powers and unopposed leadership he improved institutions like Mundelein Seminary. Some of his writing and a few of his quotes were trenchant. But he was no ruler of men. When he faced a predator like Father Dan McCormack, he ran away like the hireling -- and the wolf devoured his black male sheep. That was his most publicized failure to protect, but it was not an exception. He has left Chicago Catholics, and particularly young males, in the care of one of the nation's most deeply compromised presbyterates. He goes now to face the Good Shepherd. It is not clear he will rest in peace.

Archbishop Robert Finn resigned on April 20 as archbishop of St Joseph/Kansas City . We had urged the same in 2012. This article from the National Catholic Reporter recalls a lot of painful details.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday BookReview: "Bleak House" by Dickens

"After his decisive victories Napoleon 
began to put his house in order; 
after his decisive victories Dickens also
 began to put his house in order. 
The house, when he had put it in order, was Bleak House."
                  (G.K. Chesterton)

When 'Time' magazine recently ranked Charles Dickens' greatest novels, this tale of an endless "scarecrow of a legal suit" came out on top.


From a review by Grace Pennington:
As with every other Dickens in my experience, I read the first half of the book in about two months and the last half in about two days.  Yes, it takes some time to get into.  But once it sucks you in, there’s no escape.  The compelling situations, fascinating characters, and intricate mysteries keep you turning pages to the very end, and leave you wanting more. 
While Bleak House itself is a good place, the word “bleak” in the title gives an accurate description of the book’s tone.  Though Dickens’ usual macabre touch is mostly lacking, there is no denying that it’s a bleak tale on many levels.  But the hope is there, very plainly, alongside the serious warnings.  If I had to label the message of Bleak House, I would say that it is a story that contrasts wisdom and folly. 
Capable, conscientious, affectionate Esther Summerson knows nothing of her lineage, having been brought up by her godmother.  Her life is one of misery and solitude until she is placed under the care of her guardian, Mr. Jarndyce, an eccentric, warm-hearted bachelor.  Mr. Jarndyce’s two other wards – cousins Richard and Ada – adore Esther as well, and she finds herself completely happy and loved for the first time in her life. 
But the Jarndyce family has a curse hanging over them in the form of a court case – “Jarndyce and Jarndyce” – which has been dragging out for years.  Fortunes have been spent, men have taken their own lives, and it has become the laughingstock of the courts.  No one remembers what it is about, and Mr. Jarndyce would prefer to forget the whole thing.  But when Richard begins to become obsessed with it, Esther and her guardian are afraid it will destroy him. 
Then slowly, darkness enters Esther’s own life, in many forms.  She learns of her shameful heritage and her tortured mother.  Illness robs her of her beauty, and she is brought face-to-face with the poverty and tragedy of the poorer classes.  She watches as Ada’s heart breaks over Richard’s folly.  She sees intrigue ruin the lives of those close to her, and learns that people are not always what they seem. 
Through it all, her bright, kind personality shines, as she casts sunshine on those around her, always thinking of others before herself.  And she finds that even in the darkness, hope can prevail... 
Starkly contrasting is the haughty, anguished Lady Dedlock.  The self-centered actions of her youth bring trouble on everyone around her, cause her constant fear, and threaten to destroy her marriage.  Even when her softer side is manifest, the way she shows it is selfish and thoughtless, with a couple of rare exceptions.  Lady Dedlock is a confused, tortured woman, one whom it is hard to love but very easy to pity. 
Then there’s Mrs. Jellyby.  Mrs. Jellyby, mother of eight children, wife to Mr. Jellyby, and obsessed with a mission – Africa.  This woman dedicates her life to Africa, constantly writing, speaking and working, all to help the poor people of Booriboola-Ga be able to have coffee.  Meanwhile, her children get hurt and get into trouble, her house is an utter disaster, her husband has become so weary of life he can hardly hold his head up, and her oldest daughter Caddy learns to almost hate her.  Such a noble woman!  One of the most touching lines in the book comes when Mr. Jellyby pleads with Caddy on the eve of her wedding; “Please, don’t ever have…a mission.”

A couple other characters must be mentioned --

Mr. Guppy is an eccentric law clerk who immediately falls head-over-heels for the astonished Miss Summerson. Take a look.

Mr. Skimpole is a sponger who would have fit right in during San Francisco's summer of love: "I am a child; play with me!
"I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies!"


UPDATE: The clip of Mr. Guppy is from the 2005 version. Here is the initial episode.

Diana Rigg starred in the 1985 production (opening segment here).


         "It is said that the children of the very poor
 are not brought up, but dragged up."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, April 18

by David Pence


Prime Minister Netanyahu has added a new hurdle for the Iranians. It is a hurdle he has not presented to the Sauds who have now become his de facto allies in the Mideast.  His demand that recognition of Israel be part of any nuclear deal was rejected by a former Mossad chief who has disagreed for many years with Netanyahu's assessment of Iran's nuclear threat to Israel.


An excellent profile of Chinese leader Xi Jinping who Lee Kuan Yew called a man of Nelson Mandela type character.

For  Xi Jinping, the Party is the corporate body that both he and his father gave their lives to. Both had severe setbacks in the Cultural Revolution, but both see the Party as the collective instrument which liberated and still governs their huge nation. Their commitment is not to an ideology, but a living group of fellow soldier-workers. He believes the Communist Party of the Soviet Union fell because of the personal corruption of its members. His anti-corruption program has made him 100,000 enemies and a million friends.  He thought Mikhail Gorbachev was "not man enough" to defend the Party through his reform agenda. Reform is good; loss of public order is a catastrophe. He considers most democracy and human rights NGO's as foreign agents attempting to destroy civic order and ultimately effect regime change. He believes there is a crisis in faith in China which the Party must address. This is part of the motivation of his "China Dream." He considers unfettered Internet, unbridled drugs, and sexual immorality as "Western freedoms." He, like Pope Francis, is "a round man with a square center" -- which is  a Chinese aphorism for an affable personality draping a set of core commitments.

After reading about the relationship of Xi Jinping to red cadres and his understanding of their tie to the sacred goods and memory of the nation, this article about a TV personality being punished for criticism of Mao Tse Tung takes on more meaning.


The bombing attack led by Saudi Arabia against the Shia Houthis of Yemen is best understood as the House of Saud crossing international boundaries to attack a rival religious group with no air defense. Days  before the bombing, 140 Shia worshipers were killed at worship in coordinated bombings of Shia mosques in Yemen.  A group no one has ever heard of (ISIL of Yemen) took credit for the attack, but it is much more likely that Salafist Sunnis of Yemen or AQAP killed men who were praying in the unauthorized manner of Shia Muslims. That attack against Muslim worship was followed by the Saudi-led air raids.  

A 'NY Times' article debunking the notion that the Houthis are some kind of Iranian surrogate.  The excellent international correspondent (Ishaan Tharoor) of the 'Washington Post' makes a similar argument explaining the Houthis as agents of their own history.



The Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was found guilty in Boston on April 8 on 30 counts of related charges. Several of the federal charges can be punished with the death penalty. Massachusetts has not executed a prisoner since 1947; and abolished the death penalty in 1984. A group notorious for failing to mete out justice to perpetrators of crimes crying out for capital punishment were front and center in arguing against the death penalty. Sean O'Malley and the Massachusetts bishops apparently did not see the irony in their posturing as moral authorities on the question of just punishment for capital crimes. They showed also they have not visited many prisons lately, and have no understanding of the evangelical potential of a martyr behind bars:  “The defendant in this case has been neutralized and will never again have the ability to cause harm." That is the statement of soft men who don't remember either Malcolm X or the Apostle Paul.


Why do young men become bombers? This 'Boston Globe' writer in her new book and this article has coined a new term, "Medina Muslims", to describe jihadists in the making -- often well-educated expatriates. She will become an expert soon. Her research into the biographies of the new jihadists is excellent. Her depiction of the reformation actually occurring in Islam -- the Sunni Salafist purification movement is sorely deficient. She has no sense of this being a contest between groups of males contesting communal leadership. Likewise, her understanding of man's search for God and the willingness to live and die for the highest good is buried by her sociological sensibilities. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a favorite media authority on Islam. She is Somali-born, a champion of women's rights, and an atheist. Her name rings of east Africa, but her loyalties are to the de-sacralized ideologies of Harvard Square.


An interview on demons and the spirit of sexuality by a member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity reminds us that the approach to sexuality in the Francis era is deeper and more anthropological than either his critics or fans can understand. The work of St John Paul II goes on. We can't wait until this creativity turns from male-female marriage and female virginity to contemplate patriarchal fraternity.

From the 'Minneapolis Star Tribune' editorial page (which also keeps getting better every year), a Harvard professor recounts the insights of Jonathan Haidt's book, Righteous Minds:Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. He says employing  the categories of the sacred, authority, and loyalty are the real differences between American liberals and conservatives. The book is an outstanding paradigm changer; and this is the clearest short summary of its most penetrating insight.


Cardinal Robert Sarah shows why the bishops of Germany should listen to the bishops of Africa.  All those who associate Pope Francis with the demotion of prissy legalists of the West should note that more vigorous masculine voices of orthodoxy (like Cardinals Pell of Australia and Sarah of Guinea) have been placed in positions of real authority.


In an interview reviewing the first two years of his papacy, the Pope promises a trip to Mexico and says the devil is still angry with Mexico for the apparition of Our Lady. Her appearance at Guadalupe as a mestizo is meant to highlight the American charism of mixing ethnicities to forge a single people.  He also predicted a short papacy for himself, but no mandated age of retirement for popes.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, April 11

by David Pence 


Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia, and China were the other countries (besides US and Iran) who agreed to a regulatory plan for Iran's nuclear program on Holy Thursday April 2, 2015. If the US Senate blocks the agreement, those other countries will not continue economic sanctions against Iran. Those countries share a security interest with Iran as well. All of them are fighting their own variants of the Salafist Sunni jihadist movement, in the same way as the Shia state of Iran does in fighting ISIS. A resumption of arms sales from Russia to Iran is one beginning of many new relations which will reintegrate Iran in the intercourse of nations.   
Significant elements of Israeli security veterans have not agreed with the Netanyahu "nihilist" approach to negotiations with Iran.

Iran is a Shiite country in a sea of Sunnis. The purification movement that is leading to a renewal of Shia/Sunni war is coming from one faction of Sunnis, not all Sunnis and not the Shia. This agreement on a framework has already removed the pariah status of Iran. We are going to start hearing "their side of the story" from the nations they reconciled with over the last months. Israel has been Iran's  sworn enemy since a religious people overthrew the Shah and organized their society around that religion. Israel has nuclear weapons, as does Pakistan, which is working closely with Iran's other avowed enemy -- the Sunni monarchy and the Wahhabi clerics of Saudi Arabia. Which of us, if we were the rulers of Iran, would not consider a nuclear weapon a needed defense in such a neighborhood?  


In an April 2015 election Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the North, defeated Goodluck Jonathan by several million votes  in Nigeria's Presidential  election. Nigeria is the largest of the African nations (175 million), and divided into oil-rich Christian southern states and northern Muslim states where Boko Haram has thrived in the last years. The election of an austere Muslim may be very good news for the country as it clearly needed new leadership to provide basic security as well as clean up rampant corruption. The former military leader is no fan of Boko Haram and civil disorder.

Here is a good short review of communal loyalties and Nigeria. Many Chrisian-majority districts voted for the new president as many Nigerians believe their country can be a model for how Muslims and Christians can live together in an orderly civic society.

It is great failure of today's emasculated Catholic culture that huge populations of the Christian world which need a much more robust protective and fraternal understanding of the nation are not creating personalities who can rule.  Muslims, leftists, and economic secularists all seem to better prepare men to exercise the authority needed to rule a state. We must remember the real meaning of that beatitude about the development of civic order: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.


The multi-monarch coalition which the Sauds have assembled to bomb the Houthis of Yemen is a formidable force against an ancient tribe which has a long history of autonomy fights in Yemen. It is a major escalation by the Sauds in actually organizing a strike force which they have not done against the two worst Salafist opponents of the US: the Islamic State in Iraq/Syria and AQAP in Yemen. It is cartoon history to label this Saudi intervention as an innocent play to keep the bad wolf of Iran out of the Arabian Pennisula. This Saudi intervention marks another front in the war that will oppose any armed Shia, Jewish, or Christian state in the House of Islam as defined by the Wahhabi-Salafist school of Sunni Muslims. Here is the Saudi argument.

A good recap of Saudi Arabia/Yemen conflict in maps.

The US has joined this attack against Yemen's Kurds, while the enemies of the Houthis know where to find them to maximize damage: ISIS in Yemen.

Should the US really ally with the Saudis crossing a national border to suppress a form of Islamic worship they despise?

Just to remind us how "our ally Saudi Arabia" treats freedom of religion for Christians: Grand Mufti on Christian churches.

The Saudi-Sunni tie to nuclear weapons is through their alliance with Pakistan.


On Holy Thursday of 2015 members of al Shabab (the Youth-a Salafist Sunni extremist movement) crossed 120 miles outside their Somalian border to kill 150 Christian college students at Gerissa University in eastern Kenya.

Early in the history of Al Qaeda there was criticism by Muslim scholars that too many Muslims were being killed in terrorist attacks. This diminshed their religious legitimacy. The radical Sunni variant in Somalia (al Shabab) has corrected that indiscriminate killing by separating, then killing, Christians in Holy Week. Somalia is a country of 10 million, with 99% Sunni and 83% of Somalian ethnic origin. Kenya (44 million population: 83% Christian 11% Muslim with 3/4 Sunni) and Ethiopia (94 million population: 63% Christian and 34% Muslim) are their western neighbors.


Elijah told the Israelites they could no longer limp along serving two masters: the Living God or Baal. The reason the Indiana Legislature passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was to protect Christians from undue involvement in three new civil-rights areas that Catholics consider a desacralization of nature: sodomy, contraception, and abortion. When asked if this act might involve discrimination against gays, a very level-headed and good man (Governor Michael Pence) became the stuttering Pilate. The only honest answer to that query is to say "yes" -- it would give Christians a chance to raise a religious defense if they were being asked to cooperate in some significant manner with an immoral act. This act would not have been enacted if there was not some deep disagreement about what is holy and what is an abomination in America. The capitulation of the political leadership to the corporations and gay activists is understandable. Until religious leaders begin to talk in a very different language about these sexual taboos, we cannot expect civic leaders to recover the language that reminds us sacred Selma was never intended to be a bridge to Sodom.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday BookReview: Jason Riley, black conservative


Mr. Riley writes:
Black elites are eager to blame bad black outcomes on bigotry and quick to denounce or mock anyone who offers an alternative explanation. But we should be thankful that black leaders of yore didn’t pretend that racism must be vanquished from America before blacks could be held primarily responsible for their socioeconomic circumstances.  
“We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world, too,” Martin Luther King Jr. told a congregation in St. Louis. “We can’t keep on blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves.” 
I mentioned that King quote, which comes from a 1961 profile of him in 'Harper’s Magazine,' in a [newspaper] column several years ago. Some readers accused me of fabricating it. In the era of Al Sharpton, apparently it is hard for people to believe that leading civil-rights leaders used to speak so frankly about black self-help and personal responsibility. Which may be all you need to know about the quality of those black leaders today—and the commentators who carry water for them.

Here is how true pathfinder Thomas Sowell, a "lion in winter" now in his mid-80's, sums up the arguments of Mr. Riley:
Back in the heyday of the British Empire, a man from one of the colonies addressed a London audience. “Please do not do any more good in my country,” he said. “We have suffered too much already from all the good that you have done.” That is essentially the message of an outstanding new book by Jason Riley about blacks in America. Its title is Please Stop Helping Us. Its theme is that many policies designed to help blacks are in fact harmful, sometimes devastatingly so. These counterproductive policies range from minimum-wage laws to “affirmative action” quotas. 
This book untangles the controversies, the confusions, and the irresponsible rhetoric in which issues involving minimum-wage laws are usually discussed. As someone who has followed minimum-wage controversies for decades, I must say that I have never seen the subject explained more clearly or more convincingly. Black teenage-unemployment rates ranging from 20 to 50 percent have been so common over the past 60 years that many people are unaware that this was not true before there were minimum-wage laws, or even during years when inflation rendered minimum-wage laws ineffective, as in the late 1940s. Pricing young people out of work deprives them not only of income but also of work experience, which can be even more valuable. Pricing young people out of legal work, when illegal work is always available, is just asking for trouble. So is having large numbers of idle young males hanging out together on the streets. 
When it comes to affirmative action, Jason Riley asks the key question: “Do racial preferences work? What is the track record?” Like many other well-meaning and nice-sounding policies, affirmative action cannot survive factual scrutiny. Some individuals may get jobs they would not get otherwise, but many black students who are quite capable of getting a good college education are admitted, under racial quotas, to institutions whose pace alone is enough to make it unlikely that they will graduate. Studies that show how many artificial failures are created by affirmative-action admissions policies are summarized in Please Stop Helping Us, in language much easier to understand than in the original studies. There are many ponderous academic studies of blacks, if you have a few months in which to read them, but there is nothing to match Jason Riley’s book as a primer that will quickly bring you up to speed on the complicated subject of race in a week, or perhaps over a weekend. As an experienced journalist, rather than an academic, Riley knows how to use plain English to get to the point. He also has the integrity to give it to you straight, instead of in the jargon and euphemisms too often found in discussions of race. The result is a book that provides more knowledge and insight in a couple of hundred pages than are usually found in books twice that length. 
Unlike academics who just tell facts, Riley knows which facts are telling. For example, in response to claims that blacks don’t do well academically because the schools use an approach geared to white students, he points out that blacks from foreign, non-English-speaking countries do better in American schools than black, English-speaking American students. Asian students do better than whites in schools supposedly geared to whites. In all three of New York City’s three academically elite public high schools — Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech — there are more than twice as many Asian students as white students. So much for the theory that non-whites can’t do well in schools supposedly geared to whites. 
On issue after issue, Please Stop Helping Us cites facts to destroy propaganda and puncture inflated rhetoric. It is impossible to do justice to the wide range of racial issues — from crime to family disintegration — explored in this book. Pick up a copy and open pages at random to see how the author annihilates nonsense. His brief comments pack a lot of punch. For example, “Having a black man in the Oval Office is less important than having one in the home.”

Check out this 20-minute interview with Jason Riley.

"In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us... I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! … And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don't disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot box, let him alone, don't disturb him! If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone, — your interference is doing him positive injury."
(from a speech given by Frederick Douglass 
during the last year of the Civil War)


UPDATE: Even Henry Thoreau, who was not shy in uttering moonshine, distinguished (in Walden) between a person who went about doing good as opposed to a person who went about being good:

 "If I were to preach at all in this strain, I should say rather, Set about being good... If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life ..."

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve... Do an overseer of the poor, but endeavor to become one of the worthies of the world."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Our high calling as sons of Adam

by David Pence

We at AOA have from our inception given great emphasis to the patriarch of patriarchs, our father Adam. To understand human nature we must understand the original mission of Adam, and the ordained role of Christ in completing human nature.

This video, based on an ancient Easter vigil sermon, treats Christ's resurrection from the dead as a restoration of Adam and Eve. We have not seen a better use of an old text and images to deliver this powerful message that the Head of the Body embraces the father of the species -- showing the organic unity of humanity in Christ.

UPDATE: Take a look at our Holy Saturday post.