How to Win the Culture War

January 25, 2009


Peter Kreeft (hear audio of this lecture at this link)

1. We Are at War

To win any war and any kind of war, I think the three most necessary things we must know are:

1.    that we are at war;

2.    who our enemy is; and

3.    what weapons or strategies can defeat him.

We cannot win a war: first, if we are blissfully sewing peace banners on the battlefield; or second, if we are too busy fighting civil wars against our allies; or, third, if we are using the wrong weapons.  For instance, we must fight fire with water—not fire.

So this talk is a very basic, elementary three-point checklist to be sure we all know this minimum at least.

I assume you wouldn’t be coming to a talk entitled “How to Win the Culture War” if you thought all was well.  If you are surprised to be told that our entire civilization is in crisis, I welcome you back from your nice vacation on the moon.

Many minds do seem moonstruck, puttering happily around the Titanic, blandly arranging the deck chairs—especially the intellectuals, who are supposed to have their eyes more open, not less.  But in fact, they are often the bland leading the bland.  I have verified over and over again the principle that there is only one thing needed for you to believe any of the 100 most absurd ideas possible for any human being to conceive: You must have a Ph.D.

For instance, take Time magazine—please do.  Henry Thoreau said, “Read not the times, read the eternities.” Two Aprils ago, their lead article was devoted to the question, “Why is everything getting better?”  Why is life so good in America today?  Why does everyone feel so satisfied and optimistic about the quality of life in the future?  I read the article very carefully and found that not once did they even question their assumption.  They just wondered, “Why?”  And you thought Enlightenment optimist and the dogma of progress [were] dead?

It turned out upon reading the article that every single aspect of life they mentioned, every reason why everything was getting better and better, was economic.  People have more money.  Period.  End of discussion.  Except the poor, of course, who are poorer.  But they don’t count because they don’t write Time.  They don’t even read it.

I suspect that Time is merely Playboy with clothes on.  For one kind of playboy, the world is one great bit whorehouse.  For another, it’s one great big piggy bank.  For both kinds of playboy, things are getting better and better.  Just ask the 75 percent of Americans who love Bill Clinton, the perfect synthesis of the two.

They love him for the same reasons the Germans loved Hitler at first when they elected him: economic efficiency.  Autobahns and Volkswagens.  Jobs and housing.  Hitler wrought the greatest economic miracle of the century in the 30s.  What else matters as long as the emperor gives you bread and circuses?  People are pigs, not saints, after all.  They love slops more than honor.

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Judas Asparagus

January 25, 2009


Through the eyes of a child:

The Children’s Bible in a Nutshell

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas.  The Bible says, ‘The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that.

Anyway, God said, ‘Give me a light!’ and someone did. 

Then God made the world. He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren’t embarrassed because mirrors hadn’t been invented yet.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden…..Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn’t have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham.  Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast.  Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston.  Moses led the Israel Lights out of  Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh’s people.  These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.

God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti.  Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don’t lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor’s stuff.

Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother. One of Moses’ best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies.  Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David.  He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot.  He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines.  My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn’t sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets.  One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore.

There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don’t have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament.  Jesus is the star of The New.  He was born in Bethlehem in a barn.  (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me,
‘Close the door! Were you born in a barn?’ It would be nice to say, ‘As a matter of fact, I was.’)

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats.

Jesus also had twelve opossums.

The worst one was Judas Asparagus.  Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man.  He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.

But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn’t stick up for Jesus.  He just washed his hands instead.

Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, and then came back to life again.  He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum.  His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

The Deception of Words

January 25, 2009

From Spirit Daily:

What’s in a name? Plenty. For some reason, when we name something — when we call a thing what it is — we solve a problem.

Forsake metaphors. Stop sugar-coating.

When it is named, evil loses power. When something is good, it gains strength in the Light. When it is evil, it loses potency.

Look at the abortion crisis. They try to cover up what it really involves. They won’t name it. That would expose the evil. Instead of a human, they call what they want to destroy “tissue.” It is the product of insemination. When a woman wants a child, it’s a “baby.” When she doesn’t, it’s a “fetus.” Deception is the devil’s energy.

How he hides behind falsity! How he loves the shadows! Especially, he hides behind false words. Those who are in favor of terminating the unborn made decisive headway when they changed the debate from “abortion” to “choice.” They made evil sound good.

Choice implies freedom. It sounds American. It implies a “liberty.” Unfortunately, it is the right to commit what is extremely wrong. Name it for the evil that it is and you gain power over it. A priest was pointing this out this week. You bring it to the light.

How we shield the forces of darkness with semantics! A crisis this is. We talk more than we reflect. Thus, we don’t get to the truth. We’re most plagued by what we don’t recognize. Do you talk more than you pray, than you meditate? Indeed, if your name is biblical, have you reflected on its meaning? Have you ever considered how Jesus renamed His apostles?

When we don’t name something, it has the power of secrecy. Look at a spy. He loses all his ability to operate when he is recognized for his true identity. The same is true of the “devil” (who for his name has turned “lived” backwards). A thief can only operate when no one knows his name.

Evil grows — obfuscates — when we allow it to hide (the devil is the “prince of darkness”), and so when we see evil we must name it for that. As a Church, we have to stop beating around the bush. When something comes from the devil, we should cite it as coming from the devil (instead of resorting to the terminology of excuse that comes from sociology, psychology, and anthropology, which modern seminarians study more than they study exorcism).

Tell it like it is and there is freedom! Confusion is a first sign of the evil one’s presence. Deliverance ministers will testify to this. At Gadarenes, didn’t Jesus demand that the demons reveal their names? During an exorcism, it is often the naming of a demon that breaks its hold. The same is true of deliverance: “spirit of lust,” “spirit of the occult,” “spirit of lying,” “spirit of stubbornness.”

When we know the name of something, it orients us. It causes us to focus. It reveals the nature of what we must encounter. We have a target. It strips away the factor of surprise. It takes away the confusion that otherwise serves as camouflage. We know there is power in names by the very fact that once we identify a demon it is cast out in the Name of Jesus!

That’s because when we accurately name something, we are telling the simple truth, and the Bible tells us that “the truth will set you free.”

How much truth is there in your life? How much truth is there in what you acknowledge? Do you acknowledge faults? Do you cast them out?

As for simplicity: when Christ encountered illness, He didn’t call it some polysyllabic medical term. He didn’t analyze it from a psychological vantage point. If it was a demon, He called it a demon (and cast it out by name).

As we have seen in politics, the cover up is often worse than the crime. How many things continue to plague us because they are called something else, because there is a “cover-up,” because we don’t name them? How many things in our society? How many things in our lives?

State what is evil or incorrect in your life by name, see it for what it is (spirit of gossip, spirit of jealousy, spirit of pride, spirit of gluttony), then cast it out and keep it out and feel the burden lift. See the illumination. Look for the Light.

Look for the sun (and the Son) to rise.

Baby Boomers’ Perpetual Immaturity is Hurting Us!

January 25, 2009

From Per Christum:

(I would also add to this insightful post that it is the Baby Boomer generation, whose insatiable desire for self-indulgence and immediate gratification, is militantly defending such horrors as  disposable babies by way of abortion on demand)

Victor Davis Hanson has given us an interesting article for sure: A Generational Bust. I am not always into the whole “let’s blame the generation that became before us” thing, but I think it is true that the baby-boom generation shook things up a lot more than generations before it, and started trends that have hurt society. In many ways, the baby-boomers have been a spoiled brat generation, creating offspring (including many in my generation) that are even more spoiled and entitled than your average boomer. Have a look at Hanson’s article and see for yourself, but I think many of his observations are right-on: we want something for nothing (big government funded retirements without any thought to who is going to pay for it), and benefits without sacrifice (cheap energy, a clean environment, and the biggest SUVs possible). Some excerpts from his article:

Sociologists have correctly diagnosed the perfect storm that created the “me” generation — sudden postwar affluence, sacrificing parents who did not wish us to suffer as they had in the Great Depression and World War II, and the rise of therapeutic education that encouraged self-indulgence.

Perhaps the greatest trademark of the 1960s cohort was self-congratulation. Baby boomers alone claimed to have brought about changes in civil rights, women’s liberation, and environmental awareness — as if these were not prior concerns of earlier generations.

We apparently created all of our wealth rather than having inherited our roads, schools, and bountiful infrastructure from someone else. And in our self-absorption, no one accepted that our notorious appetites created more problems than our supposed “caring” solved.

Our present problems were not really caused by an unpopular president, a spendthrift Congress, the neocon bogeymen, the greedy Saudis, shifty bankers, or corporate oilmen in black hats and handlebar moustaches — much less the anonymous “they.”

The fault of this age, dear baby boomers, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

I don’t think it is any coincidence that the same generation that has given us all this also spearheaded the trendiness in Christian churches in the 1970s (I tend to think the liberalism of the mainlines and the “we don’t need tradition” evangelical movements of the 1970s are two sides of the same coin, both owing a lot to the secular movements of the 60s). The Church is working overtime to undo the changes of the 1970s…I suspect society has its hands full if it is going to scale back some of the bad trends that came out of the same period.

Our Struggle for the Soul of our Nation

January 25, 2009

In remarks delivered yesterday at the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, Robert P. George reflected on the history of the pro-life movement and offered advice for its future.

Thirty-six years ago tomorrow, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its infamous decision in Roe v. Wade and its companion case Doe v. Bolton. In the name of a generalized “right to privacy” allegedly implicit in the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, seven justices created a license to kill the unborn.

These men probably had no idea that they were unleashing a struggle for the soul of the nation. Five had been appointed by Republican presidents—two by Eisenhower, three by Nixon. Four of these five were regarded as “conservative,” “law and order” judges: Warren E. Burger, Potter Stewart, Lewis F. Powell, and Harry Blackmun. All no doubt believed that legal abortion was a humane and enlightened policy, one that would ease the burdens of many women and girls and relieve the enormous cost to society of a high birth rate among indigent (often unmarried) women. They seemed blithely to assume that abortion would be easily integrated into the fabric of American social and political life.

They were wrong on all counts.

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