The Temptation to Improper Reduction

One of the things I have noticed over the short course of my career as a blogger, and before that as a commenter on blogs, is that I often find myself responding to interlocutors with statements of the following general form:

To say that x is y is just not the same thing as saying that x is *nothing but* y.

I sooner or later say something like this in almost every comment thread. Almost every time I say, “x is y,” it generates an irate response from someone or other, sooner or later, to the effect that “x is not entirely y,” or even, “x is not entirely z.” This, despite the fact that I had not said, or implied, anything of the sort to which such responses might be apposite.

It’s a curious thing. I have begun to think that there is a universal temptation to improper reduction – to thinking that x really is nothing but y, so that y totally explains x. Once you have latched on to such a y, you hold onto it for dear life, because it seems to give you so much intellectual leverage. When that happens, you have become an ideologue, and your y has become your obsession – your precious.

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Throne and Altar is back

If you haven’t noticed already, our own Bonald is once again posting actively (though not, thankfully, exclusively) at Throne and Altar and has burst out of the gate with a series of characteristically excellent posts. See this one for his rationale about restoring the blog. Go check it out, and if you haven’t visited before, please do avail yourself of the really excellent essays he’s posted there.

Adminutia: Site troubles

We’ve had some reports of difficulties accessing the Orthosphere in connection with our recent change in aesthetics. In addition to restoring our lost recent comments and blogroll widgets (the latter of which we’ve updated to include a few new links), we’ve also discovered that our particular template is not really set up to be viewed on anything older than Internet Explorer 9. Those of you still using earlier versions of Internet Explorer and having trouble with the site are advised to update their browser.

Commenting on Jeffersonian’s Proposal

Jeffersonian’s proposal, under discussion in the previous post, for the secession of conservative America was bound to arouse strong emotions. But that’s no excuse for bad comments.

Respectful and at least semi-rational disagreement is acceptable. Blanket denunciations of our side and vague, sweeping statements of the impossibility of secession are a waste of time, and will henceforth be deleted. The same will go for any comment that, in the judgment of the editors, is long on heat and short on light.

This is a serious proposal, and it deserves serious discussion. Make it so.

[Comments are closed on this entry, by the way. Josh got his comment in right under the wire.]

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.

More on networking

Regular readers will remember that I put out a call a while ago for Orthosphereans to organize into small, decentralized offline groupuscles. (That post, by the way, has now been moved to a page.) While the initial response was good, I’ve since gotten relatively little feedback on whether any meetings were ever organized anywhere. Therefore, I was happy when one of our contacts, who has requested that her name and location be kept anonymous, recently sent me this note:

Just thought you’d like to know that we have now formed a small group in [REDACTED].

There are 4 of us, and we have met 3 times – we meet on the first Saturday of the month.

The purpose of our meetings are threefold: Study, reading /discussion and social interaction. So far we have read Rupert Sheldrakes ‘The Presence of the Past’, have begun a discussion on virtue ethics, and I am preparing a list and description of our ‘enemies’ tactics so that we can identify them as they happen in real time (which is often tricky as it happens so fast!). This is based partly on a piece that was in the Orthosphere.

So we are up and running and welcome new members should there be enquiries.

Many thanks for making this possible. It is making a big difference in my life and I think it is time for this sort of thing to be happening – so again many thanks.

On another topic, I’ve been quite busy recently, hence my disappearance from cyberspace. While I’ll now begin posting sporadically again, and while the Reactionary Composer of the Week feature will probably make a return soon, posting will probably remain spotty for some time. (Thankfully, though, there are ten other bloggers to pick up the slack.)

Christian Apologetics: Giving Reasons to Believe

That’s the name of the latest addition to our Resources list. In it, we give a brief overview of the basic issues and then provide a list of recommend resources (mostly books, so far) arguing for the existence of the God of the Bible, the accuracy of the Bible, the validity of the biblical portrayal of Jesus Christ, the truth of Christian doctrine, and other basic issues.

So far, “we” is not quite the correct word. As of this writing I’m the only author, and so most (but not all) of the resources are Protestant in the sense that they were written by Protestants. That’s only because they are the works with which I’m most familiar, and not because I want to make a major case here for Protestantism. Our overall goal here at is to promote “mere” Christianity.

My non-Protestant colleagues will no doubt add some resources that reflect their views, and any serious Christian work will of necessity sometimes argue for a specific Christian tradition. Nothing wrong with that, but we shall (I hope) exclude any works whose major purpose is to argue for a specific Christian tradition. Or perhaps we can put these works in their own special “handle-with-care” pages.