Adminutia: The comments policy

I’ve made some slight tweaks and updates to our comments policy. This can also serve as a reminder that we do have such a policy, and that it is enforced.

A couple points worth emphasizing:

  1. The policy is, I think, quite lenient, especially considering the illiberal nature of this blog. This is mainly because we want the Orthosphere to be an open forum for traditionalists rather than just a soapbox for the eleven of us, insightful, interesting, and good-looking though we are. Of course, this presumes maturity and civility on the part of the commenters. Thus, even if you disagree vehemently with something one of us has written, expressing that disagreement in needlessly harsh and insulting terms will only damage the climate of discussion we’re trying to cultivate, as well as making your argument look less credible. You’re among friends here–comment accordingly.
  2. Though the policy is lenient, we’re more concerned about its spirit than its letter. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to try and exploit loopholes you think you’ve found in it, nor to test the patience of the admins.
  3. As the policy itself alludes to, enforcement is mostly left up to the individual contributor, which means it may not be enforced in the same way always and everywhere. Again, the spirit is more important than the letter—this is a set of guidelines, not of explicit rules.

Defining Christianity: Why Be a Christian? Part III

In Part I, we saw that the Apostles’ primary evangelistic message was of the need for all men to repent of their sins and to turn to Christ in faith. In Part II, we explored some of the biblical testimony that all men are sinners, and therefore in need of salvation. Let us now see how that salvation proceeds.

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Grace

God declares clearly throughout the entire Bible that the only way for an individual to be saved from divine wrath is to repent of his sins and have faith in (i.e., trust) God.  In the New Testament, the explicit mechanism of God’s salvation of man is revealed to be the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

God also declares throughout Scripture that only the righteous will be saved. This does not contradict the necessity of repentance and faith, because faith confers righteousness. See, for example, Genesis 15:6:

Then he [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Note that “reckoned” means “credited” or “imputed.” The Lord credited Abraham with righteousness on account of Abraham’s believing in, that is, having faith in, the Lord. Continue reading

Quo vadis?

What is it that you seek above all other things you desire? That thing is your master, and you are its slave. It organizes and orders all your doings. This happens naturally, and without any effort on your part; your apprehension of the process is not necessary thereto.

Only one such master can provide real goods to you, goods that will perdure in their nourishment of your life: the Good himself. The Good himself, being alone infinite and eternal, is the only possible source of true, inexhaustible and everlasting goodness.

By comparison with the goodness derived from the Good himself, all other goods are but straw. They are indeed good, to be sure (or he would not have created them); but they cannot completely nourish us (they are like a diet of sugars, that has no meat), and they can last no more than a moment before they are utterly consumed in the glorious everlasting fire of becoming.

You are what you eat. If you eat straw, you will become as straw, and you will be consumed as straw.

If you seek anything other than the Good himself, then you are seeking something that is not the very good; and you will get things that are not very good.

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Where to Move?

In his excellent article “Back to Qumran,” Kristor proposes, inter alia, that serious traditionalists consider moving to healthier regions of the country, regions where they will have a better chance of practicing a virtuous lifestyle.

This raises the question, Which regions of the country are relatively healthy? Where might a mobile traditionalist consider moving?

I can’t answer the question, so I’m throwing it open to our readers. If you know of any good areas, let us know in the comments section. Please be specific, and tell us what makes the region good.

Does this match your experience?

In the comments of my “Why doesn’t God let me have as much sex as I want?” post, Alte cited some interesting research on the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives.  (She’s collected her comments here.)  I’ve read her two linked articles.  To sum up

  1. Liberals are more open minded and creative.
  2. Conservatives are more anxious and tend to fixate on things that disgust or threaten us.  Our discomfort with uncertainty leads us to prefer rigid social structures.
  3. Conservatives are more conscious of in-group/out-group distinctions.
  4. Liberals are more ambidextrous.  In conservatives, the two hemispheres of the brain interact less.  It has been suggested that this is what makes conservatives less creative.  Alte points out that the level of inter-hemispheral interaction also distinguishes male and female brains, meaning that conservatives have (at least in this sense) more masculine brains.

There is a real irony in the modern condition.  “Openness to new ideas” and “tolerance” lead my peers to embrace liberal democracy, i.e. to accept the dogmas of the established regime and dismiss all other forms of social organization as illegitimate.  On the other hand, my feeble-minded desire to submit and conform leads me to conservatism even though that sets me against my whole nation.  This reflects the deeper ironies of an establishment that is hostile to authority and a communal consensus that favors individual expression at the expense of social cohesion.

Alte’s own speculations:

  1. Liberals are more physiologically more androgynous, making the value of distinct gender roles less apparent to them.
  2. Conservatives’ “binary” thinking leads them to rely more completely on logic.  They are less interested than liberals to rhetorical demonstrations of compassion.  That is, they only care whether the reasoning is valid, not whether it comes off sounding nice.

Since Traditional Christianity‘s new format doesn’t allow comments, I’ll throw out the question for discussion here:  how well do these purported correlations (the psychologists’ or Alte’s) match your personal experience?  Are your liberal friends girly men?  Are your conservative friends more consistent handed?  Can you think of any other correlations that might hold up better?

Back to Qumran

Responding to Franklin, Bill commented:

I don’t understand how you Christians can worry so much about politics

It’s inertia, obviously. For 1500 years, our civilization—all of it, including the politics—was self-consciously based on traditional Christianity. We’re not used to being in the catacombs any more. We have to figure it out again. And first we have to realize, in an action-oriented, gut-and-not-just-head way that something really, truly has to be done. This is not that easy given that we’re not currently being fed to the lions, live and streaming from Netflix.

Amen. It’s back to the catacombs, back to Lindisfarne, back to Pella, back to Qumran. Israel has several times threaded such a needle as we find we must now again thread, and has survived. The last time she faced a situation like that of the present, Christian Rome was falling. Jerome and Augustine thought it was probably the end of the world. They could not have known that the Roman Civilization, and its Church, taken up by the Britons and Germans, would go on to conquer the globe, or that their own writings would be important factors of that eventual conquest.

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Theodicy and sexual frustration

You know what always cheers me up when I’m feeling down?  Writing about sex.

Let me pose a question about Divine Providence:  why did God make it so hard to be chaste?   A typical man must, if he wants to avoid sin, endure more than a decade, sometimes more than two, of sexually mature celibacy before getting married.  Then after marriage, his ability to enjoy his wife is (again assuming he wants to avoid sin) limited by how many children he can support.  As a final cruelty, many wives lose sexual interest in their husbands shortly after marriage and refuse to sleep with them.  (See these harrowing stories from Sunshine Mary, also Baumeister and Vohs’ shockingly honest–for academic writing–ruminations on sexual economics.  I’ve also raised the issue before.)  In today’s perverse world, it’s actually easier to get laid outside of marriage than in.  Even those men (the majority) who don’t have women throwing opportunities for fornication at them must endure the constant temptations of pornography and masturbation.  It seems like God is just setting men up to fail.  (Women too, although they tend not to realize the gravity of the sexual sins to which they are prone:  contraception, pornographic “romance fiction”, divorce, refusal to render the marriage debt…)

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What Must We Do?

As traditionalist conservatives, we recognize that the cultural and political order is fundamentally corrupt. Therefore we oppose it.

On November 6, many of us had hoped that the election of Romney could slow the rate of destruction, giving a real opposition to liberalism more of a chance to grow and perhaps, given enough time, even halt the decline.

But our hopes were dashed, and the decisiveness of the defeat has caused many of us to see the situation in a new light: It appears that the left rules without any significant opposition, and that no force is capable of preventing liberals from dragging America down to destruction.

This is not to say that conservatives never win political battles. They often do at the local level, and occasionally do at the national level. But overall, conservatism does not currently have the strength to reverse the course of liberalism.

Our fundamental analysis of the situation remains the same but in light of the latest defeat, how should we reorient our thinking? More specifically: Continue reading

Defining Christianity: Why Be a Christian? Part II

As we saw in part I, the basic message of Christianity, and the basic reason why we ought to be Christians, is salvation from God’s wrath against our sins by repentance and faith in Christ. How does this work?

The Gospel

The Christian message of salvation is generally called the gospel, a word that simply means “good news.” What follows is a summary of the gospel as taught by Christ and the Apostles and reaffirmed by the Church Fathers and the Protestant Reformers.

The Catholic or Orthodox reader will probably describe what follows as the Protestant view of Christianity. Fair enough. I am a Protestant, because I see Protestantism as the most accurate expression of Christianity. My intent is not to be sectarian, but rather to give the gospel message accurately.

The most complete biblical statement of the gospel occurs in I Corinthians 15:1-9:

Now I [the Apostle Paul] make known to you, brethren, the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas [the Apostle Peter], then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.  For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

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Defining Christianity: Why Be a Christian? Part I

Many people are interested in Christianity. How can we describe it?

We all agree Christianity is multifaceted. But is there a bottom line, a sine qua non of Christianity that is relatively simple to articulate?

There is. Read the Acts of the Apostles, and ask yourself, According to Scripture, when the Apostles were speaking to non-Christians, what did they urge them to do? And what reason did the Apostles give why unbelievers ought to do these things?

In an evangelistic sermon, the speaker has limited time. He must communicate only the essentials.

Reading Acts, we see that the Apostles did not urge unbelievers to follow their tradition because of its superior wisdom. Nor did they urge unbelievers to join them because they had received a divine commission. Instead, they spoke about Jesus Christ: Who he is (God and man) and what he did (live a sinless life, be crucified for the sins of the world, and be resurrected for our justification.) They also spoke of man’s sin, which places him in jeopardy of the wrath of God. And then they urged unbelievers to repent of their sins, to be baptized, and have faith in Christ.

Consider, for example, Acts 2:37, 38, which record the immediate result of the Apostle Peter’s evangelistic sermon on the day of Pentecost: Continue reading