Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sorry, Kevin; Dennis has the more accurate take on this one

I find myself in the odd position of taking exception to a viewpoint held by Kevin Williamson.

He's not only one of the finest polemical writers working today, but he was a leading light in the effort to get the American public to consider Donald Trump from a character-and-principles standpoint. His book The Case Against Trump was one of the first salvos in that movement.

But today at NRO he has an essay of the type he does occasionally, in which he says everybody ought to relax, that the United States is still the prosperous, culturally absorbent and resilient country it always has been and that its ills are few relative to those that beset most nations:

Politicos and angst-peddlers left and right want you terrified and anxious, and they want you to believe that these United States comprise a vast impoverished anarchic Eliotic wasteland, a kind of gigantic continental Haiti with lots of shopping malls and a surprisingly large number of Range Rovers. 

But if you drive around the country, it doesn’t look like that at all. It looks, for all its very real problems, amazing. 

But you will recall that a few days ago I linked to a Dennis Prager piece - also at NRO - that took a far more dire view of contemporary America:

This Second Civil War, fortunately, differs in one other critically important way: It has thus far been largely non-violent. But given the increasing left-wing violence such as riots, the violent taking over of college presidents’ offices, and the illegal occupation of state capitols, non-violence is not guaranteed to be a permanent characteristic of the Second Civil War.
He cogently makes his case. I would only add some specific manifestations that I find cause for alarm: the ever-declining number of Americans who consider themselves religious, the corporate acquiescence to the Left (exemplified here in Indiana in the spring of 2015 by Lily, the Ball Corporation, Cummins and Angie's List very publicly and vehemently opposing the state's RFRA law), the extent to which "climate change" indoctrination has infected our educational system, the uptick in rioting to the extent that it is becoming commonplace.

But you what I'd put up as Exhibit A?

The general coarseness of our culture.

How far do you have to scroll down your Facebook feed to find vulgar language?

How much prime-time network television can you watch without coming across such language, or reference to private bodily functions?

How much maneuvering around public spaces can you do without seeing litter?

Such a decline in general dignity makes for the perfect environment for the Left to advance its side in the war.

The conventions, customs, mores and institutions that provided the basis for human interaction based on respect have been under attack for decades, and the onslaught is now reaching critical mass.

I'll even go so far as to say that they have been diminished as a direct result of the disparagement of the notion that there is a higher purpose to our collective life than material well-being. An early sign of the attack was the coining of the term "plastic" and the introduction of the countervailing notion of "getting real." Being "authentic" assumed a place as one of society's top values. "Getting real" was supposed to entail taking a square look at how the nooks and crannies of society actually operated, with all their ills and dangers, with no sense that the only true amelioration for them was something of an eternal nature. Government programs or, in the view of some, economic growth were supposed to take care of it.

And when the higher purpose to this life has been removed from the equation, we're left with a free-for-all.

No, Kevin, for all the outer trappings of a society that is still productive and well-functioning, there is a brittleness and a stench that does not bode well at all.


  1. You talkin' Jesus again? Or a higher power of one's choosing? You talkin' gettin' back to bein' more religious again or getting and being spiritual? You believe in seeking and therefore finding? You want to reinstitute censorship and fines and jails for violation of same? Just what you talkin' 'bout, bro? I think it's Jesus.

  2. Tell it to the builders of the houses on the hill, moon is lyin' still, can you petition the Lord with prayer?

  3. The creation of non-human autonomous robots would disrupt religion, like everything else, on an entirely new scale. "If humans were to create free-willed beings,” says Kelly, who was raised Catholic and identifies as a Christian, “absolutely every single aspect of traditional theology would be challenged and have to be reinterpreted in some capacity.”

  4. If artificially intelligent machines have a soul, would they be able to establish a relationship with God? The Bible teaches that Jesus’s death redeemed “all things” in creation—from ants to accountants—and made reconciliation with God possible. So did Jesus die for artificial intelligence, too? Can AI be “saved?”

    “I don’t see Christ’s redemption limited to human beings,” Christopher Benek, an associate pastor at Providence Presbyterian Church in Florida with degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary, told Gizmodo in 2015. “It’s redemption of all of creation, even AI. If AI is autonomous, then we should encourage it to participate in Christ’s redemptive purposes in the world.”

    And what about sin? Christians have traditionally taught that sin prevents divine relationship by somehow creating a barrier between fallible humans and a holy God. Say in the robot future, instead of eradicating humans, the machines decide—or have it hardwired somewhere deep inside them—that never committing evil acts is the ultimate good. Would artificially intelligent beings be better Christians than humans are? And how would this impact the Christian view of human depravity?


  5. Just food for thought, not heretical or anything. Should we start to do something about heresy again? Like make heresy bad again?

  6. Not going off topic to get into a bunch of speculative stuff.

  7. OK, carry on with trying to be the CS Lewis of the 21st Century. You're young yet.

  8. Why is it off topic? It's about Jesus. This stuff is all more imminent than the Second Coming, but you might not think so. OF course, no man knows the hour or the day, not even the Son.

  9. Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
    ― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

  10. It's off-topic and you know it. The topic is whether Williamson or Prager is more accurate regarding the current state of our society. Not whether human beings' creative powers are going to present interesting theological questions.

  11. Yes oh so greatly emboldened pessimist sir! This is the forum where you cling to the notion that it's so very late in the day, right? All the most right rabbi Praeger can do is pontificate (aka judaecate) and spout off about something like the differences between what he views as his wheat to all others' chaff