Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mapping the Swamp: Grieving the State of God's People

Jeremiah the Weeping Prophet
Currently, where I am, it is 9:38 PM on December 31, 2017. These are the last hours of the year that just closed.

So much transpired in 2017, much of which I am trying to understand by writing longer articles to be submitted to journals elsewhere. For now, on English Manif itself, I am sticking with the  theme of "Mapping the Swamp" for several months, trying to use this platform to help whoever reads this blog, in the important task of understanding the Swamp we fight. If we understand it and know how and where its parts work, we will be more effective at conquering it in 2018 or perhaps another year not long after.

For today, I want to focus on the important role of grief and lamentation. While it is New Year's Eve, I am not celebrating. I am not rejoicing. I allowed myself joy and levity for Christmas, as I called to mind the many things I need to remember about the birth of Jesus Christ. There is a role, however, for the opposite of rejoicing--for feeling the full weight of society's wrongs against Jesus Christ. For the Swamp we fight has gradually become more understandable and identifiable to me. I know now that the Swamp is really the space of absence from Jesus Christ. It is ungodliness above all that is driving the social and political corruption that we learned, in 2017, we must fight with all our power.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Mapping the Swamp: Lessons from Barbara Stanwyck Movies

Stanwyck in "Crime of Passion"
To map the Swamp, you have to counteract the decades of ignorance cultivated by the Swamp elites and re-learn the cultural wisdom of past generations. With the explosion in the number of adults with college degrees, people did not become wiser citizens, as Thomas Jefferson hoped in Notes on the State of Virginia. Instead, the institutions of higher learning became enormous machines of control that tempted a small cadre of people running them; they could not resist the temptation to use their massive prestige and cultural reach in order to empower and benefit themselves and their friends.

Learning and education do not necessarily go together. If institutions are corrupted, as American higher education institutions indisputably are, education can become the opposite of learning. They can actually be stupefying; they can become systems of mental programming that do the opposite of learning. They can serve to conceal, hide, or distort truths in order to regiment students into a worldview that serves the elites. Marx understood this, as did both Freud and Foucault, not to mention Orwell and Sartre, though none of them probably realized how quickly we would see systems of education becoming systems of ignorance.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mapping the Swamp: The Burn Book

The Burn Book and the Map
Robert Oscar Lopez

To map the Swamp, you have to understand what kind of map you are drawing. While the Swamp is in some ways geographic because there are control centers in places where political power congregates, most of the Swamp's map will be more a diagram of connected circles and squares. To understand the Swamp you have to understand all the various players and positionalities.

But more importantly you have to understand what connects them.

The biggest thing holding together the various parties who predominate politically inside the Swamp is not a set of shared beliefs or customs, but rather a set of shared tactics. They do not necessarily even have common enemies. Rather, they will mobilize across divergent interest groups to mob an isolated individual if there is a quid pro quo agreement between one Swamp player and another Swamp player. 

Ten Things I Have to Remember about Serving Jesus this Christmas Season

Robert Oscar Lopez

1. When Jesus Christ was born, hundreds of years had passed since the last prophet. Generation after generation had lived with nothing but hope. People born in 270 BC had only hope that someday the LORD would come. It could very well be that all my anxieties and stresses are meaningless, and maybe my great-great-grandchildren will still be hundreds of years away from Christ's coming. Christmas reminds me that's okay. A baby in a manger changes everything.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Mapping the Swamp: Understanding the Microcosm and Macrocosm

I keep waiting for Peak Madness with regards to the sexual hysteria currently poisoning our nation's minds. Sex abuse, sexual harassment, and the even vaguer issue of "sexual misconduct" have become such irrational evils in the minds of both left and right, we have seen our most basic social interactions torn apart and our language decompose into gibberish. What are we doing, exactly, when we fight for someone we don't know to be ritually stripped of his livelihood or banished from public life because of things we read about online posted from other people we do not know? Why is it that we would never feel compelled to insert ourselves so boldly if it dealt with theft, perjury, conspiracy to overthrow the government, or accessory to murder, but if someone's erogenous zones are involved, we suspend all semblance of logic and discernment?

Friday, December 15, 2017

Mapping the Swamp: What Next for the Anti-Roy-Moore Right?

While there were quite a few NeverTrumps who were against Roy Moore, we should not conflate the anti-Trump right with the anti-Moore right. As I stated in an earlier post, the anti-Trump right included some people who were actually principled, and who felt Donald Trump's public record failed to meet their minimum standards for a conservative president, even in a race against Hillary Clinton. The NeverTrumps encouraged a host of stupid countermeasures, such as not voting for anyone for president, writing in something like "Ronald Reagan's ghost," voting for Evan McMullin (close your eyes and if you think long enough, you will remember who that was), or even, in the case of some far-gone cases, voting for Hillary Clinton to teach the GOP a lesson. These were, I admit, completely insane suggestions but the NeverTrumps were saved a life of penance for putting such ideas out there because as luck would have it, Donald J. Trump won. One can only imagine how excruciating life in America would be if Hillary Clinton had won, and how vicious the backlash would be against the right-wing people who would have helped to make that happen.

But that was so 2016. It is a year later now, and we have to come to terms with what happened in Alabama. The "conservatives" who fought to sink Roy Moore's candidacy, led by such figures as David French, Matt Drudge, Ross Douthat, and George Will, overlap quite a bit with the NeverTrumps but they are a completely different animal. First, I think of someone like my friend Jason who was NeverTrump but not NeverMoore--I know of quite a few principled objectors to Trump who simply did not believe the accusations against Moore and therefore did not jump on the bandwagon. Then there were some Trump supporters, like Matt Drudge and possibly Fox figures such as Jeannine Pirro and Laura Ingraham, who were behind Trump but embraced the anti-Moore agenda hook, line & sinker.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Mapping the Swamp: Roy Moore, please be better than I was

In the early weeks of May, 2016, I did something I am not proud of. In fact, I feel I should confess my sin before God.

The sin I committed was cowardice.

The famous lines from Joshua ring true: "Be strong and courageous." It is okay to feel fear but wrong to let it cripple you, for a very simple reason. If you are a believer, you have to submit to Christ with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. God will be with you if you believe. So cowardice is a lack of love for God. I was guilty of exactly that in May, 2016.

As an Ex-Gay Cradle Catholic, I Know the Devastation That Awaits Those Who Follow Fr. James Martin

As an Ex-Gay Cradle Catholic, I Know the Devastation That Awaits Those Who Follow Fr. James Martin: If any of the Catholics who raised me or taught me had told the truth about the church's teaching on sex, I might still be Catholic today.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Don't Forget We Have to Fix Colleges!

Phonies, Creeps & Pantywaists!

Burn Me This Many Times, War on You!

Robert Oscar Lopez

The Left is crazy and currently embroiled in its own horror show of groping, doping, raping, and scraping scandals, so let's not waste time belly-aching about Doug Jones and the bodily atrocities he is sure to commit. You must give credit to scoundrels, they are too corrupt or too dumb to pretend to be anything else.

Instead let's vent about the people who are our friends, and who ran out of breath mints last night. With no more ways to hide their true political dishonesty, you have the putrid halitosis coming from the conventional "conservative" leadership quoting William F. Buckley and each other and showcasing their trappings of respectability--look, Ma! They have tenure! They're lawyers and get grants from Mystery Donors! They're trending on Amazon! Liberals invite them to parties! They get to represent "our side" on the View, on CNN, on MSNBC, in guest editorials for the Wall Street Journal, and at civilized tea-and-crumpets simulations on "bipartisan" sites like Heterodox Academy.

These are the people who have made their whole careers on telling people across America that their conservative interests are safe in their hands. They have made sure that people across America only hear from them, because they get big money from shadowy financiers who allow them to control all the platforms. They send recruiters to loiter around their alma maters and scoop up well-bred bluebloods from elite schools to groom, puff, and polish, so they can rise through the ranks of the right-wing advocacy circuit and become the next generation of conservative raconteurs.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Of Cakes and Christian Charity-A Contrarian View

Robert Oscar Lopez

If you decide to read this essay, and I hope you will, please be charitable. I believe very strongly in the conservative movement and despite my occasional bitterness, I respect conservatives who have fought for what they believe in.

The case of the cake-maker before the Supreme Court is bugging me. I have followed it as best I can. From what I can tell, if we "win" the case, we will be justifying the Obergefell decision and vindicating Anthony Kennedy by telling the world that all we really wanted was some little safe spaces where we don't have to deal with homosexuality's toxic destruction of our social order. If we "lose" the case, I can't see how the loss will make our world any worse than it is right now. The narrow, expedient argument that was required to get the wedding cake case to the Supreme Court basically threw almost everyone being oppressed by the LGBT agenda under the bus. In typical right-wing style, the built-in preference for business owners ("job creators") and disinterest in workers ("Trump voters") led to a skewed approach to religious liberty.