“…..Imagine that the natural sciences were to suffer the effects of a catastrophe. A series of environmental disasters are blamed by the general public on the scientists. Widespread riots occur, laboratories are burnt down, physicists are lynched, books and instruments are destroyed. Finally a Know-Nothing political movement takes power and successfully abolishes science teaching in schools and universities, imprisoning and executing the remaining scientists. Later still there is a reaction against this destructive movement and enlightened people seek to revive science, although they have largely forgotten what it was. But all that they possess are fragments: a knowledge of experiments detached from any knowledge of the theoretical context which gave them significance; parts of theories unrelated either to the other bits and pieces of theory which they possess or to experiment; instruments whose use has been forgotten; half-chapters from books, single pages from articles, not always fully legible because torn and charred. Nonetheless all these fragments are reembodied in a set of practices which go under the revived names of physics, chemistry and biology. Adults argue with each other about the respective merits of relativity theory, evolutionary theory and phlogiston theory, although they possess only a very partial knowledge of each. Children learn by heart the surviving portions of the periodic table and recite as incantations some of the theorems of Euclid. Nobody, or almost nobody, realizes that what they are doing is not natural science in any proper sense at all. For everything that they do and say conforms to certain canons of consistency and coherence and those contexts which would be needed to make sense of what they are doing have been lost, perhaps irretrievably.”

At the end of the book MacIntyre returns to this chaotic vision of the future, dourly concluding that it isn’t of the future at all- it’s a description (of the intellectual and ethical reality) of today. Already, he says, we are living amid an intellectual and ethical apocalypse. Our arguments and rational forms are shallow tropes of an earlier, robust, rooted ethical dialogue. We have fragments and scraps from those times, but mostly we stumble on doing something we mistakenly call ethics, uprooted from telos- that is a sense of where we’re headed and why.”

– Joustra and Wilkinson

How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith and Politics at the End of the World

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Michaelmas is almost here, and this year it’s possible that some of my daughters will be celebrating in their own homes. I know its good- the way its supposed to be, but I don’t like it much.

Has me thinking back on Michaelmases past.  Hard to believe this was 9 years ago.

Alongside my ever simmering parental fear, the feast day brings not only nostalgia, but the comforting knowledge that for each of my children

…he shall give his angels charge over thee,

To keep thee in all thy ways.

They shall bear thee up in their hands,

Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Glory to you Lord Christ for precious children, angelic watchers and, yes, the passing of time that brings with it the gifts of maturity and……grandchildren.

The governing story at the heart of evangelicalism is the conversion narrative… For evangelicalism, the “gospel” is typically framed not as Scripture frames it—as the historical story of God’s salvation accomplished in his Son through the public events of Christ’s incarnation, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, Pentecost, and return in glory—but as the “story” of how the sinful individual can be saved in the present. It’s a story of how Christ can become an active part of my personal biography rather than a historical account that stands apart from my biography, which I must enter as I die to myself and my old biography and become a part of Christ’s life…

Evangelicalism’s foregrounding of the conversion narrative leads to a particular understanding of the formation of the Christian’s subjectivity. In a tradition that placed its primary accent on the objective, historical narrative of God’s work in Christ, Christians’ subjectivity would principally be formed as they entered into a larger story outside of themselves and as this story shaped and identified them. By contrast, within evangelicalism, Christian subjectivity is effected chiefly from within, through the immediacy of the “conversion experience.”

With this understanding of genuine Christian subjectivity as arising from within comes a suspicion of the place of the objective, external, and institutional dimensions of Christian faith—of creeds, confessions, theologies, liturgies, sacraments, rites, and churches. Rather than being valued as means of spiritual formation and incorporation into the life of Christ and his people, they are viewed as a sort of dead shell that surrounds the internal, living reality of Christian faith, residing purely in the believer’s heart. Their sole value arises as they serve as means by which we express the spiritual life within us. The sacraments and institutions of Christianity cease to be regarded as acting to form us into a living body and start to be seen as mere public expressions of our private faith. I am baptized, not so that I might participate in and be formed by the life and death of Christ and his body more fully, but in order publicly to declare my personal and private belief.

Evangelicalism places on all within it a responsibility to fashion a spiritual identity from out of their own divinely visited subjectivity. To be evangelical is to account for one’s identity from out of one’s own “born again” spiritual experience and not in terms of membership or participation in some external institution or ritual. The typical evangelical narrative of conversion begins by establishing an antithesis between genuine Christian identity and “external” identities—“I was raised in a Christian home and grew up attending a gospel-believing church, but. . . .” Rather than emphasizing an outward-looking affirmation of one’s belief in the truth and saving power of historical gospel events, and the reliability of God’s Word and promise in the “external” means of grace, the evangelical “personal testimony” is principally concerned with presenting a detailed account of one’s arrival at a believing subjectivity…

… the significance of these reflections becomes more apparent when we recognize that this evangelical account of Christian identity finds noteworthy analogies in LGBT communities…

…As we come to a realization of the faults in others, we may find we are seeing a mirror image of the faults in ourselves.

 

-Alastair Roberts

Gender Ideology Harms Children

March 21, 2016 – a temporary statement with references. A full statement will be published in summer 2016.

The American College of Pediatricians urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality.

1. Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of health – not genetic markers of a disorder. The norm for human design is to be conceived either male or female. Human sexuality is binary by design with the obvious purpose being the reproduction and flourishing of our species. This principle is self-evident. The exceedingly rare disorders of sex development (DSDs), including but not limited to testicular feminization and congenital adrenal hyperplasia, are all medically identifiable deviations from the sexual binary norm, and are rightly recognized as disorders of human design. Individuals with DSDs do not constitute a third sex.1

2. No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one. No one is born with an awareness of themselves as male or female; this awareness develops over time and, like all developmental processes, may be derailed by a child’s subjective perceptions, relationships, and adverse experiences from infancy forward. People who identify as “feeling like the opposite sex” or “somewhere in between” do not comprise a third sex. They remain biological men or biological women.2,3,4

3. A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking. When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such. These children suffer from gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria (GD), formerly listed as Gender Identity Disorder (GID), is a recognized mental disorder in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-V).5 The psychodynamic and social learning theories of GD/GID have never been disproved.2,4,5

4. Puberty is not a disease and puberty-blocking hormones can be dangerous. Reversible or not, puberty- blocking hormones induce a state of disease – the absence of puberty – and inhibit growth and fertility in a previously biologically healthy child.6

5. According to the DSM-V, as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.5

6. Children who use puberty blockers to impersonate the opposite sex will require cross-sex hormones in late adolescence. Cross-sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) are associated with dangerous health risks including but not limited to high blood pressure, blood clots, stroke and cancer.7,8,9,10

7. Rates of suicide are twenty times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery, even in Sweden which is among the most LGBQT – affirming countries.11 What compassionate and reasonable person would condemn young children to this fate knowing that after puberty as many as 88% of girls and 98% of boys will eventually accept reality and achieve a state of mental and physical health?

8. Conditioning children into believing a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse. Endorsing gender discordance as normal via public education and legal policies will confuse children and parents, leading more children to present to “gender clinics” where they will be given puberty-blocking drugs. This, in turn, virtually ensures that they will “choose” a lifetime of carcinogenic and otherwise toxic cross-sex hormones, and likely consider unnecessary surgical mutilation of their healthy body parts as young adults.

Michelle A. Cretella, M.D.
President of the American College of Pediatricians

Quentin Van Meter, M.D.
Vice President of the American College of Pediatricians
Pediatric Endocrinologist

Paul McHugh, M.D.
University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital

References:

1. Consortium on the Management of Disorders of Sex Development, “Clinical Guidelines for the Management of Disorders of Sex Development in Childhood.” Intersex Society of North America, March 25, 2006. Accessed 3/20/16 from http://www.dsdguidelines.org/files/clinical.pdf.

2. Zucker, Kenneth J. and Bradley Susan J. “Gender Identity and Psychosexual Disorders.”FOCUS: The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry. Vol. III, No. 4, Fall 2005 (598-617).

3. Whitehead, Neil W. “Is Transsexuality biologically determined?” Triple Helix (UK), Autumn 2000, p6-8. accessed 3/20/16 from http://www.mygenes.co.nz/transsexuality.htm; see also Whitehead, Neil W. “Twin Studies of Transsexuals [Reveals Discordance]” accessed 3/20/16 from http://www.mygenes.co.nz/transs_stats.htm.

4. Jeffreys, Sheila. Gender Hurts: A Feminist Analysis of the Politics of Transgenderism. Routledge, New York, 2014 (pp.1-35).

5. American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association, 2013 (451-459). See page 455 re: rates of persistence of gender dysphoria.

6. Hembree, WC, et al. Endocrine treatment of transsexual persons: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009;94:3132-3154.

7. Olson-Kennedy, J and Forcier, M. “Overview of the management of gender nonconformity in children and adolescents.” UpToDate November 4, 2015. Accessed 3.20.16 from http://www.uptodate.com.

8. Moore, E., Wisniewski, & Dobs, A. “Endocrine treatment of transsexual people: A review of treatment regimens, outcomes, and adverse effects.” The Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2003; 88(9), pp3467-3473.

9. FDA Drug Safety Communication issued for Testosterone products accessed 3.20.16: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm161874.htm.

10. World Health Organization Classification of Estrogen as a Class I Carcinogen: http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/ageing/cocs_hrt_statement.pdf.

11. Dhejne, C, et.al. “Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden.” PLoS ONE, 2011; 6(2). Affiliation: Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Psychiatry, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Accessed 3.20.16 from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0016885.

Of course I’d heard of Falwell’s endorsement of Trump a while back; but I hadn’t seen his reasoning. I had it explained to me yesterday.

With the administration packed with Christians, Liberty University was teetering on the verge of financial collapse, and the Falwells sought out the best ‘numbers’ people without regard to their commitment to  Christ. The University flourished financially as a result. This lesson informed his decision to endorse Mr. Trump.

I’m not the brightest fella, and I certainly haven’t had the privilege of being educated at a Christian University, but a couple of thoughts occur to me:

What an odd dilemma to affirm as a University President. Apparently Liberty University and other Christian institutions of ‘higher learning’ are unable to turn out financial professionals’ that are worthy of hire. According to this educator, ‘Best’ (and let’s be honest; by ‘best’ we mean ‘good’ and ‘competent.’ I doubt Liberty has attracted the ‘best.’) and ‘Christian’ seem to be mutually exclusive. In the end one must choose. Whatever flourishing might mean for Liberty University (and it seems to center around money), its President assumes it to be a failure when it comes to actually educating- at least on a consistent basis. Someone may seek out and hire graduates of Christian Universities, but Liberty isn’t interested. It wants competent employees.

And granting the assumption that Trump is a great businessman… is our nation’s greatest problem really financial? Really? Or are our budgetary woes just a symptom of something else? Are our greatest threats as a people really monetary? That is the concern that ‘trumps’ all others? I guess it depends on what one believes life is about. I certainly recognize the narrative, which Mr Falwell’s diagnosis assumes. It’s the Christian Gospel’s great competitor.  That being the case, I can only think that the homeless Messiah (and his pitiful, destitute and wretched followers) must have the sincere pity of those who share Mr. Falwell’s opinion. It’s a shame Trump wasn’t there to save them.

“What is the object of human life? The enlightened conservative does not believe that the end or aim of life is competition; or success; or enjoyment; or longevity; or power; or possessions. He believes instead, that the object of life is Love. He knows that the just and ordered society is that in which Love governs us, so far as Love ever can reign in this world of sorrows; and he knows that the anarchical or the tyrannical society is that in which Love lies corrupt. He has learnt that Love is the source of all being, and that Hell itself is ordained by Love. He understands that Death, when we have finished the part that was assigned to us, is the reward of Love. And he apprehends the truth that the greatest happiness ever granted to a man is the privilege of being happy in the hour of his death.

He has no intention of converting this human society of ours into an efficient machine for efficient machine-operators, dominated by master mechanics. Men are put into this world, he realizes, to struggle, to suffer, to contend against the evil that is in their neighbors and in themselves, and to aspire toward the triumph of Love. They are put into this world to live like men, and to die like men. He seeks to preserve a society which allows men to attain manhood, rather than keeping them within bonds of perpetual childhood. With Dante, he looks upward from this place of slime, this world of gorgons and chimeras, toward the light which gives Love to this poor earth and all the stars. And, with Burke, he knows that “they will never love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate.”- Russell Kirk

Noting that the NT word translated “Grace” is simply “Gift,” Barclay goes on to enumerate how a gift might be perfected. Hugely important stuff.

…Barclay is working out the Pauline notion of grace under the rubric of anthropological treatments of the gift, and he argues that the notion of “grace” can be perfected in regard to the giver, the gift, or the reception of the gift. He enumerates six “perfections” of grace: superabundance; singularity, the notion that benevolence is the giver’s exclusive attribute; priority, in which the gift of grace is seen as always prior to the initiative of the recipient; incongruity, the notion that a gift is given “without regard to the work of the recipient”; efficacy, which highlights the fact that the gift “fully achieves what it was designed to do”; and non-circularity, the notion that the gift does not demand a response (70-75).

Barclay emphasizes that these perfections do not entail one another: “To perfect one facet of gift-giving does not imply the perfection of any or all of the others” (75). It would, for example, be possible to perfect the priority of grace without perfecting its incongruity; not only possible, but actual, since this is pretty much late medieval soteriology in a nutshell. Yet this non-entailment is often forgotten, and discussions of grace slip from one perfection to another, or assume that perfecting grace in one dimension implies perfection elsewhere. A lack of clarity about these varieties of perfection produces confusion. For those who define grace in terms of one perfection (say, incongruity), a congruent grace is no grace at all. Lack of clarity also means that different conceptions of grace are viewed as differences in emphasis on grace.

This sixfold typology provides Barclay with a powerful tool to examine conceptions of grace in Christian theology, in contemporary Pauline studies, and in Judaism….

Read more here: Perfecting Grace