The Language of Inclusion

IT’S HARD TO KEEP UP
IN THIS IDEOLOGICAL AGE

There’s a fundamental law of blogging: that the day after you post something, you’ll come across a news item or an interesting situation that’s relevant to your topic and would have been great to mention.

Non-Gender Pronouns GraphicAnd so it was with Saturday’s commentary on political correctness.

I would love to have included a note about how the University of Tennessee is promoting use of gender-neutral pronouns, as opposed to the standard male/female designations: he, she, him, her, his, hers.

UT, which touts itself as the “Big Orange with Big Ideas,” has undertaken these linguistic adjustments with the goal of making its campus “welcoming and inclusive for all.”

So, you ask, what’s unwelcoming or non-inclusive about he, she and the rest?

[Read more…]

Hair Trigger

STUDENTS TURN THE TABLES
ON POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

Start of the new academic year brings an interesting twist to the controversy over trigger warnings.

Fun HomeIf you don’t follow trends in higher education you may assume I’m talking about some advisory to “Lock your Glock” so a child who comes across that 9mm in your nightstand can’t fire it accidentally.

But no — nothing so prosaic as handgun safety.

Trigger warnings are alerts that a certain literary work or lecture or instructional material or classroom discussion might involve language or allude to ideas which students could find offensive, unduly provocative, even just upsetting.

Things being as they are on college and university campuses these days, this usually refers to assertions that are highly charged politically. For instance: suggestions that all men might not actually be rapists; or that females really don’t earn substantially less than males in all professions; or that members of non-white minority groups might not be fatally blocked from success in our irredeemably racist society — that sort of thing.

[Read more…]

Planned Parenthood’s Abortion

THE POST-MORAL LEFT IS STRUGGLING
TO SALVAGE PP’S SHATTERED IMAGE

Planned Parenthood LogoThe shrillness with which Planned Parenthood’s supporters are screaming their defense of the nation’s largest abortion provider is a sure sign of the damage to PP’s carefully crafted public identity wrought by those gut-wrenching videos.

This is something new and rather startling to many people.

Since the organization changed its name from the American Birth Control League and made the decision to deemphasize (not to say hide) its origins in the racialist eugenics movement, Planned Parenthood has cultivated a benign image as a healthcare provider focused on the well being of women and families. The success of that effort has been remarkable.

[Read more…]

The Donald vs. the News Babe

TRUMP’S SET-TO WITH MEGYN KELLY
HAS SERVED TO ENHANCE HIS APPEAL

Life and politics go on while I’m consumed with final preparation of my book manuscript.

Fox News Channel Logo (lrg)Donald Trump is certainly on the move (he was recently here in Michigan). The guy’s hot; there’s no question about that. Whatever he says — no matter how outlandish — his numbers just go up and up.

The little tiff with Fox News’ number-one news babe, Megyn Kelly, seems to have enhanced his appeal. And somewhat tarnished hers.

No easy task, that. Megyn Kelly is usually one of the sharpest, toughest, most incisive interviewers on television (not to mention that she’s eye-candy to the max, outrageously beautiful).

[Read more…]

Lovin’ the Candor

TRUMP WHETS PEOPLE’S APPITITE
FOR TRUTH-TELLING IN POLITICS

I’m not sure that travel is as broadening as people say (at least domestic travel). The scenery may change, but it’s increasingly difficult to get away from it all and live in ways that are markedly different from how you’d live at home.

Trump Book CoverChalk that up mainly to national marketing, which provides us foods, products, services and entertainments homogeneous from sea to shining sea. In addition, we’re followed everywhere by those news items which the national media and the Internet determine are the most important (or most outrageous).

And so for the two weeks of a recent trip to Colorado, visiting with my daughter, son-in-law and grandkids, I was inundated by stories about the killings at those Tennessee military recruiting sites — and, of course, about Donald Trump.

[Read more…]

Peace In Our Time

SOMEHOW IT FEELS LIKE
“BACK TO THE FUTURE”

Hitler PG CoverPurely by chance, as negotiations have been proceeding with Iran seeking ways to direct development of the Iranian nuclear program along a peaceful course, I’ve been reading William L. Shirer’s classic World War II history, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

Shirer covered the early days of Nazi Germany as a correspondent for CBS and other American news organizations. In his account of the pre-war military buildup he reflects on a speech to the Reichstag (given May 21, 1934) in which Hitler made the following declarations:*

[Read more…]

The Pretense of Correctness

NARROW-MINDEDNESS ISN’T
A SUSTAINABLE IDEOLOGY

I’ve written a historical novel that offers a highly unconventional portrait of Jesus’ family.

Confederate Battle FlagThe book’s plot is entirely consistent with orthodox Christian beliefs. Nevertheless, in other times and places, deviating from the common representation of beloved religious figures might have gotten me burned at the stake.

So, as you can imagine, freedom of expression is precious to me.

Tolerance for views that are irregular, unusual, quirky — even offensive or insulting — is what makes civil life possible in our pluralistic society. It’s also what makes progress possible, because challenging accepted assumptions can spur new and original ways of thinking. And that keeps tradition from becoming restrictive.

This understanding is rooted in our historical experience. We know that many of our ancestors were prisoners of tradition — bound to feudal land, fated for indenture in crafts handed down over generations, locked in peonage or servitude, prohibited from personal advancement. They escaped all that, came to a new country, made new lives, and bequeathed to us a freedom that makes our strivings possible.

Now this is not to say that there aren’t limits to self-expression. Civil life also depends on consideration of other people’s views and feelings: on civility, as it were. A certain politeness is definitely called for.

There’s a balance to be achieved. And two controversies currently in the news demonstrate how tricky it can be to strike that balance.

[Read more…]

The Words We Sing

PATRIOTIC SONGS TELL OF
OUR IDEALS AND OUR HOPES

American FlagsPatriotic songs are dismissed by the cynical (or the “ultra-sophisticated”) as simplistic puff pieces — a genre of poetic self-aggrandizement. And indeed, their ringing words are often rather overblown.

But the lyrics we all learned as children and sing on select occasions are more than statements of national egotism. They speak of the ideals that underlie our culture. And even as we acknowledge that the nation has fallen short of realizing its ideals, these songs serve as a collective moral compass to point us back in the right direction and offer hope that someday we might finally reach our cherished goals.

[Read more…]

Singing from the Same Score

WE’RE A MINORITY RELIGION
AND WE MUST BE UNITED

Love WinsOver the last couple of months I had been trying to place an article about the ongoing conflict over liturgical music. As I announced in my last post, the essay was finally picked up by the online journal, ChurchPop.

It appeared Friday, June 26, the day our Supreme Court legalized “gay marriage.” That was also the day Islamist terrorists pulled off a triple-play in their ongoing run of carnage…

  • killing 38 tourists at a seaside resort in Tunisia while wounding 36 others…
  • killing 25 and wounding more than 200 in a bomb attack on a mosque in Kuwait…
  • blowing up an American-owned chemical plant in France (that one perpetrated by a French Muslim of apparent radical sympathies who had worked at the facility and disliked his boss intensely enough to behead him)…

The Islamic State also held its own celebration of the Supreme Court’s ruling by executing four Iraqi men suspected of being homosexuals by tossing them off a tall building, and making ironic use of the #LoveWins hashtag tweeted by the White House.

Compared with such startling events, disagreement about the songs we sing at Mass doesn’t seem like all that urgent a topic. And expectedly, there appears to be a rather low level of interest in my article.

[Read more…]

The Great Catholic Music Debate

POST-VATICAN FOLK
VS. REFORMIST RETRO

Folk Song MassI’ve been involved in Catholic liturgical music since before I was a Catholic. In fact, my participation in playing (and later, writing) music for Mass helped to confirm the call I felt to the Church.

Steeped in Protestant musical traditions, and encountering Catholic worship at a time when the post-Vatican “folk” style was ascendant, my perspective on the role of singing in church is atypical. I don’t share the memories of those worshipers old enough to have experienced the preconcilliar liturgy. Nor do I feel the sense of having been deprived of my tradition which some younger Catholics express.

[Read more…]