Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Charles Murray’s Letter to Azusa Pacific Students
I am slightly preoccupied this morning and in a fog thanks to a
fire alarm first announcing the weakness of its battery in the middle of the
night. (But I am being
redundant. Fire alarms always
first announce the weakness of their batteries in the middle of the night.)
Murray uses the occasion well to confront the increasing vapidity of U.
S. higher education and its “Shut Up” culture. He begins:
scheduled to speak to you tomorrow. I was going to talk about my new book, “The
Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead,” and was looking forward to it. But it
has been “postponed.” Why? An email from your president, Jon Wallace, to my
employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said “Given the lateness of
the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship, I realized we
needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday’s
conversation.” This, about an appearance that has been planned for months. I
also understand from another faculty member that he and the provost were afraid
of “hurting our faculty and students of color.”
college, right? Being at college is supposed to mean thinking for yourselves,
right? Okay, then do it.
Indeed, U. S. universities are becoming institutes of indoctrination
rather that places where actual thought and listening to competing views is
encouraged. But, as I said, I am
too much in a fog to say much more, so do go read Murray’s excellent letter for
Labels: Charles Murray, education
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Fascism at Cornell
This sort of
thing so disturbs me and so feeds my pessimism about education, the rule of
law, and free speech in America that I don’t know how to begin except to get to
the incident at hand.
Cornell student wrote a column for the campus newspaper decrying how under
“rape culture” hysteria, protections for students accused of rape have been
virtually eliminated in university tribunals:
…the belief that rape must be prevented
by “any means necessary” has been used to justify the elimination of key
protections for students accused of rape in campus judicial systems. Some want
the claims of the alleged victims of rape to be accepted as true, and not
scrutinized in a fair legal proceeding. Just two years ago, Cornell stripped
those accused of sexual offenses of the right to retain an attorney in
University proceedings and the right to cross-examine their accusers. A student
accused of a sexual offense at Cornell is now not able to directly ask the
person who is making a potentially life-ruining accusation a single question
about the incident. This is an inexcusable erasure of the fundamental right to
confront one’s accuser, a right that has existed for all of our country’s
history. Such rights are not superfluous. They protect us against arbitrary
action by those who hold the levers of power.
To make matters worse, the University
has dropped the standard of proof in sexual assault cases from “clear and
convincing evidence” to “preponderance of the evidence.” This means that a
Cornell student accused of a violent offense that is sexual in nature will not
have the legal safeguards given to others whose alleged offenses were
non-sexual. With the punishment being so severe and so much on the line for the
accused, how can we accept such a low standard of proof?
Given that this university has a
tremendous power to punish students, we have an obligation to make sure that
the innocent do not get hurt….
In April 2011, the Department of
Education’s Office of Civil Rights sent a letter to college and university
presidents laying out guidelines for handling reports of sexual assault and
harassment. One key recommendation was that such complaints should be evaluated
based on a “preponderance of the evidence”-the lowest standard of proof used in
civil claims. (In lay terms, it means that the total weight of the believable
evidence tips at least slightly in the claimant’s favor.) Traditionally, the
standard for finding a student guilty of misconduct of any kind has been “clear
and convincing evidence”-less stringent than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but
still a very strong probability of guilt.
But what was
the response to student’s column at Cornell? A group of
little fascists Cornell students
decried that the column was printed at all and demanded an apology. Further they accused the student of
trying to “erase” the rights of rape victims. This from their conclusion is particularly rich:
While open conversation is important, it
cannot be secondary to or a substitute for action.
words, “our agenda trumps your free speech.”
students are the ones who are trying to erase the rights of the accused and
even to silence those who advocate for the rights of the accused. They want tribunals in which being accused
of a crime is tantamount to being guilty.
And they want those who dissent shamed and punished. How familiar . . . and how convenient
for little totalitarians who have an agenda to shove down people’s throat.
this totalitarian “shut up” culture is, again, not at all confined to Cornell. The question is how far will we allow
it to go off campus in America.
Labels: Cornell, education, totalitarians
Monday, April 21, 2014
On Transcendence (and its poor box office)
On Easter Sunday afternoon, I took some youth to see Transcendence. (And I promise – no spoilers in my
comments.) The IMAX movie theater
was sparsely attended. And the box
office numbers from the weekend indicate people were not seeing Transcendence
across the nation. Its run has not
started well – and that in spite of the rarity of my seeing a movie on its
I find that sad. Transcendence
is a thoughtful movie that raises questions about both the apparent good and
not as apparent dangers of man playing God via technology. Both the tower of
Babel and the saying “the ends do not justify the ends” came to mind while
And it goes to pains not to take sides. Oh, it seems to take sides for a time, but later makes clear
things are not so simple. It
becomes intentionally ambiguous about who are the good guys and the bad
guys. Indeed afterwards, one of
the more reflective youth interpreted the movie and the good and evil of the
actors differently that I did and pointed out ethical issues I had missed.
The ambiguity may frustrate some.
And the movie has gotten mixed reviews at best. But I think the decision not to take
sides is wise and makes the point that questions about man playing God via
technology are important, must be addressed, and at the same time are not at
all easily answered.
Too many movies are tendentious.
Transcendence is not, and that is particularly good given the
subject. I think this movie
deserves a better hearing that it is getting.
My only complaint is the very end seems a too obvious opening for a
sequel. But given the weak box
office, a sequel seems unlikely.
Labels: Johnny Depp, movies, Transcendence
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Let us not skip Holy Week
I wished I had something profound to say in the middle of Holy
Week. Perhaps my lack is out of
fatigue as I traveled yesterday with some friends to visit a friend in a
nursing home. In any case, I urge
readers not to skip Holy Week, particularly the darkness of Thursday through
Saturday, of the Last Supper and betrayal, of the arrest and trials, of the
crucifixion and burial, in order to rush to Easter.
In most of my pre-Anglican years, that is more or less what I did. It is not that I despised the Lord’s
Passion; I most certainly did not.
An emphasis on Holy Week was just not part of my worship tradition and
had not yet become a part of me.
During those years, Easter also did not mean as much to me as it does
now. That is no coincidence. Yes, I knew well that my life is bound
up in Christ’s resurrected life.
But I do not think one can fully appreciate the light and joy of Easter
until one goes through the darkness of Holy Week, and of Lent for that matter. And that I did not do.
Carl Trueman has written on how excising the dark and the tragic from
our worship impoverishes it and ourselves. I think that applies double to Holy Week. As the risk of using a banal
illustration, a movie that proceeds straight from happiness through happiness
to a happy ending is likely to be cloying and forgettable. Not only is life not that way, but the
dark times help us to appreciate God’s light. Neither good movies nor good religion skip over them. It is not for nothing that early in his
Gospel, St. John proclaims, “The light shines in the darkness.”
So my humble recommendation to those who want to have a joyous Easter
is first to have a contemplative and, yes, dark Holy Week. Observe and think upon the Passion of
our Lord, who – as the Collect for Holy Monday notes – “went not up to joy but
first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified.” Therefore let the rest of this prayer
be our prayer and practice in life and worship. “Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the
cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the
same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Let the Collect for Holy Wednesday be our prayer also.
mercifully with thy help, O Lord God of our salvation; that we may enter with
joy upon the meditation of those mighty acts, whereby thou hast given unto us
life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Labels: Easter, Holy Week, life, worship
Monday, April 14, 2014
Jeremy Pemberton Must Be Disciplined
headline is not overwrought. The
Church of England is now indeed facing a crisis as a CofE priest, the Rev.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton has legally married his male partner. The crisis is that the Church of
England is now forced to decide whether a priest entering a gay “marriage” will
be disciplined or not, with difficult consequences no matter what the church
As I’ve said a year ago, a church that does not care enough about truth to discipline does
not care enough about truth, period.
And, although the American church setting differs from the English, we
have seen time and again in this country what happens to churches when they
refuse to defend truth with church discipline. Apostasy, once openly tolerated, gains more and more power
and drags churches down into the pit.
Look at how my former denomination, the mainline Presbyterian Church,
and The Episcopal Church have imploded in recent decades. The implosions began when open moral
and/or doctrinal apostasy (which are often the same) was not disciplined.
readers think I am making too much ado about the issue of marriage. But marriage is certainly important
enough to the Lord to be a prominent part of the Creation account and to be
made an icon in scripture of the relationship between Christ and his church. Literally perverting that icon is apostasy
mention that gay marriage is a key presenting issue between the orthodox and
libchurchers in England and worldwide.
The Church of England may continue to try to please both sides, but
Pemberton’s act hastens the day when the CofE must choose. And at least one side will be very
unhappy no matter what the Church chooses. I assert there is a right choice; but there is no easy
choice in this matter.
If the Church
of England does not wish to follow the well trodden and broad path of apostate and
increasingly irrelevant denominations, it must discipline the apostasy of
Labels: church discipline, Church of England
Friday, April 11, 2014
Hannah Overton Hearing Before Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Back in 2012, I mentioned the Hannah Overton case and the prosecutorial
misconduct perpetrated against her.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest Texas criminal appeals
court, has paid an unusual amount of attention to this case and held oral
arguments on it last week.
The court has long had a reputation for not being very sympathetic to
those seeking to overturn convictions.
The Presiding Judge Sharron Keller is, rightly or wrongly, rather
infamous in that regard. But the
attention they have given to this case and signs of the high court’s unease
with the number of wrongful convictions in Texas are good signs.
Please pray for Hannah Overton and her family and for a just ruling.
Labels: Hannah Overton, justice, prosecutorial misconduct
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Obama Pushes Voting Fraud in Texas
From Politico. But it
appears *someone* attempted to edit it.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday joined the larger Democratic effort
to spotlight voting rights ahead of this year’s midterms, blasting “active
efforts to deter people from voting
often and after their
“Apparently it’s fairly active here in
North Carolina, uhhh,
Florida – oh @#$%, what state I’m I fundraising in today? My telepromptr is off. Oh that’s right. I used Fort Hood as an excuse to get
taxpayers to pay for this trip. Texas,” he told supporters at a
Houston fundraiser. “The idea that you’d purposely try to prevent dead
people from voting? Un-American. Liveist! RACIST! Those RIGHT-WING
Republicans not only want to kill your Grandma; they want to keep her from
voting after she’s dead! How is it that we’re putting up with that?
We don’t have to.”
On Friday, the president will continue his election-year push in a
speech to Al Sharpton’s National
Get in on the Action
Attorney General Eric Holder delivered his own address to the group
Wednesday in New York, recounting the Justice Department’s efforts on the issue
since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act last year.
The cocaine was flowing; so
his address was received enthusiastically.
“Let me be very clear: Protecting the right to vote
times for future citizens, felons, and people of deadness — the
action - And you know how Easy Al likes to get in on the action, ha,
ha- that truly makes our nation in control of the
Democrats an exceptional one — will continue to be a priority for
this administration, for this Department of Justice, for this IRS, for Elijah Cummings, for this president, and for this attorney general,”
Democrats see a voting rights pitch as another way to drive up midterm
turnout among core Obama voters — most prominently African-Americans, but also
Latinos, unmarried women,
dead women, dead men, illegal aliens, felons,
welfare recipients, abortionists, IRS agents, trial lawyers, and
current and recently graduated college students — the groups, party operatives
point out, most likely to still vote Democrat no matter much Obama and
Hillary screw up at risk from restrictive voting laws.
Labels: Democrats, Eric Holder, humor, IRS, Obama, vote fraud