Those Too Lazy to Get Dressed Up on a Sunday Morning

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That's my kneejerk answer to the query posed by Kevin D. Williamson: Who Are These ‘Cultural Christians’? He may have a different take:

A peculiar phenomenon of our time is the so-called cultural Christian or even “Christian atheist,” by which is meant someone who finds the moral claims and cultural sensibility of Christianity sympathetic but who does not (will not, cannot) accept the fundamental claim of Christianity, i.e. that the Creator of the universe embodied Himself in the form of a first-century Palestinian Jew who was tortured and put to death before rising from the dead to provide a fallen humanity with a path to redemption.

I do not much blame these “cultural Christians,” a breed that is increasingly common in conservative political circles, inasmuch as the supernatural claims of Christianity are—I write this as a believing Christian—positively absurd on first hearing. Also on second and third hearing, and for many more hearings, and sometimes (often, I think) to the committed and convinced Christian. There are lots of true things that sound crazy. The basic physical mechanism by which an airplane flies has been observed for a few thousand years (the Chinese have been flying kites for a long, long time) but if you tried to explain to some Elizabethan sophisticate, unfamiliar with the technological achievements of our time, that we routinely launch vehicles weighing 1 million pounds (the top flying weight of the 747-400ER freighter is just short of that, and there are much larger aircraft) into the air, under their own power, with very little danger, that one may travel from Baghdad to Athens in one of these in less time than it takes to watch a performance of Hamlet—and that nothing on the exterior of the thing even moves very much, while the whole thing runs on something extracted from the same substance found in that “Pitch Lake” that Walter Raleigh observed in Trinidad—he might think you were pulling his leg.

I prefer the term "Very Bad Christian" myself.

I'm a Dispatch subscriber, but I don't see one of those padlock icons on KDW's article. So go for it, I really recommend it. Also recommend you subscribe.

Briefly noted:

  • If you, like my friend Skip at Granite Grok, are wondering "Since when did biologicals and diseases become part of [the Department of Energy's] established portfolio?", Mr. Geraghty has you covered: The Energy Department Lab Investigating Covid Knows What It’s Talking About.

    Last night, it wasn’t hard to find random people on Twitter dismissing the Department of Energy laboratory report in the Wall Street Journal and insisting, “That department has no expertise whatsoever.”

    Why would the U.S. Department of Energy be weighing in on an investigation into the origins of Covid-19? The short answer is because the Energy Department has a special division that, as part of its mission to track and mitigate the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, specializes in the study of biological weapons such as viruses.

    There are a lot of first-rate research institutions in the United States, but no one would dispute that the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is the biggest of the big-time. In 1949, the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb, establishing itself as a true military rival to the U.S., and launching the Cold War nuclear-arms race. The University of California Radiation Laboratory, Livermore Branch, opened September 2, 1952, on the site of a decommissioned Naval Air Station — and quickly became known as one of the two major government-funded labs developing and maintaining the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The U.S. intelligence community wanted to know everything it could about Soviet nuclear capabilities and would often turn to Livermore scientists to analyze atmospheric nuclear tests conducted by the Soviets as well as soil samples. The site was renamed Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1971.

    More than (maybe) you wanted to know follows. I also left a comment at Granite Grok.

  • Jason Sorens hits on an occasional theme here. Why is there an ever-increasing in governments Treating Adults like Children.

    New Zealand recently passed a law permanently prohibiting the sale of tobacco to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009. That’s right. If you’re unlucky enough to have been born on or after that date, it will forever be illegal for you to smoke a cigar on a celebratory occasion or to savor a pipe on a dewy summer evening.

    The new law is part of a growing trend in the Western world toward treating adults like children. Even as governments experiment with lowering the voting age to 16, they are raising the age at which we may marry, work, have sex, own a gun, drink alcohol, and yes, smoke. The logic seems to be that young adults are rational enough to make decisions about everyone else’s lives but not their own.

    The key issue Sorens notices:

    When the government treats adults like children, when they criminalize our pursuit of happiness, what does that do to us? Does our power of choosing for ourselves, of weighing risks and benefits, of exercising independent judgment, begin to atrophy?

    Pun Salad answer: yes. And you can see the results of that all around.

  • Oliver Traldi notices A Conspiracy Theory of Connotations.

    Discussions of censorship often operate from the assumption that the main motivation of censors is the suppression of dissent. For that reason, critiques of censorship often attack the idea of suppression: Censorship is often counterproductive and only makes samizdat material more popular. And if an idea is systematically censored, we can never really be sure that it’s wrong, since we’ll never see a full and honest accounting of the evidence for and against it. These are good arguments against suppression, and there are plenty more where they come from.

    However, the goal of suppression does not explain a lot of contemporary censorship, which aims to punish innocuous statements alleged to carry some sort of pernicious hidden message capable of changing the way people think and behave. In such instances, the censorious impulse appears to be paired with a clownishly ridiculous idea of how language and society work—a kind of conspiracy theory of connotations. Three examples of this bizarre approach have made the news in recent weeks.

    Traldi discusses the examples of Roald Dahl, Stanford's "Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative", the AP Stylebook, Ibram X. Kendi, … But apparently just missed our next item:

  • The NYPost reports the latest Bowdlerization: effort: James Bond books scrubbed by 'sensitivity experts' ahead of 70th anniversary.

    It’s a move that might leave some fans shaken.

    [Not stirred. Get it? -- PS]

    Ian Fleming’s James Bond books have been rewritten with modern audiences in mind, with so-called sensitivity experts removing a number of racial references ahead of 007’s 70th anniversary this spring, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

    Particularly painful to me, readers. I recently started a reading project for Fleming's Bond novels. I'm only three books in and new versions of the editions I was buying at Amazon have suddenly disappeared.

    I suppose I can dig out original versions somehow, but I really liked the cover designs on the ones I was buying. (There are used copies available, but unsurprisingly sellers are asking high prices.)

Last Modified 2024-01-14 4:42 AM EDT