Saturday, July 09, 2011

Whittaker Chambers and Totalitarian Islam

By Andrew G. Bostom

Playwright David Mamet recently acknowledged that he had been profoundly influenced by Communist apostate Whittaker Chambers’s 1952 anti-Communist memoir, Witness. Mamet described how reading Chambers’s opus inspired “the wrenching experience” of forcibly reevaluating the way he thought, particularly his confessed leftist-herd co-dependence. Also, echoing the delusive herd mentality of the Left’s ad hominem attacks in the 1950s on Chambers — whose allegations of Communist conspiracies have been entirely vindicated with irrefragable documentation from the captured Soviet Venona cables — Congressman Peter King’s staid initial hearings of March 10, 2011, on American Muslim radicalization engendered similarly apoplectic, and equally unwarranted condemnation, even before getting underway.
Mamet’s invocation of Witness, and the repeated hysterical, if groundless, objections to the second round of hearings by Representative King’s Homeland Security Committee (June 15, 2011, on Muslim radicalization in U.S. prisons), are fitting reminders that today marks the 50th anniversary of Whittaker Chambers’s death.

Chambers was born April 1, 1901, in Philadelphia, and spent his childhood on the south shore of Long Island, in (then rural) Lynbrook. Upon graduating high school, Chambers left home and worked as a construction laborer on the Washington, D.C., subway system, before drifting to New Orleans, and then returning to attend Columbia University from 1920 to 1924. Under the tutelage of Columbia English professor Mark Van Doren (before Van Doren became an internationally known literary critic and poet), Chambers tried his hand at poetry, even completing a book of poems entitled “Defeat in the Village,” before realizing, “I never could write poetry good enough to be worth writing.”

This apprenticeship, however, helped teach Chambers “the difficult, humbling, exacting art of writing,” and he would go on to become an exceptionally gifted writer of prose. He joined the Communist party in 1925, experiencing great success as a writer at the Daily Worker and as an editor at The New Masses, both Communist-controlled publications. In 1932, Chambers was asked to join the underground movement of the Communist party, and he served in the Fourth Section of Soviet Military Intelligence. Recognizing Chambers’s intellectual prowess, the underground placed him with the Ware Group (a collection of Communist cells consisting of government officials and journalists) in Washington, D.C. It was here, among other promising New Deal civil servants, that he encountered Alger Hiss. Chambers and Hiss, along with their spouses, became close friends.

During late 1938, overwhelmed by the horrific actions of the Soviet Communist party, in particular the Stalinist purges and forced starvation of Ukrainian peasants, and having rejected Communism’s militant atheism, Chambers left the Communist movement. The Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 was a watershed event for Chambers, who realized that much of the confidential information about the U.S. that he had forwarded to the Soviet Union could now be passed to Germany. Thus Chambers decided to divulge his prior activities for the Communist underground to the federal government. Shortly thereafter, Chambers was able to meet with the head of security at the State Department, A. A. Berle. Although Chambers revealed most of his activities, he withheld the facts of espionage conducted by his cell, largely to protect others, including, notably, Alger Hiss. Regardless, it was not until 1948 — nine years later — that the information he provided to Berle was acted upon by the government.
Chambers was subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) to corroborate the testimony of Elizabeth Bentley — the so-called “blonde spy queen” — who alleged that Soviet espionage was occurring within the U.S. government. Chambers corroborated Bentley’s allegations, supplemented them with his own, and confronted Alger Hiss on the first day of his testimony. (Eventually, all 21 names that Chambers provided to HUAC were confirmed by subsequent Soviet archival research.) In 1950, Hiss was convicted of perjury after two federal trials.

A naturally gifted linguist, particularly fluent in German, Whittaker Chambers translated into English Bambi, Dunant: the Story of the Red Cross, and a number of children’s books over the years. Chambers joined Time magazine in 1939, initially as a book reviewer, later as a writer and editor. He wrote many of Time’s cover stories during his tenure, including profiles of historian Arnold Toynbee, vocalist Marian Anderson, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and Pope Pius XII. Chambers, based upon his experience as a Communist and intuitive grasp of history, displayed a remarkably prescient understanding of the Cold War as an editor and writer for Time’s foreign-news section. He also contributed seven brilliant essays to Life’s 1947–1948 “Picture History of Western Civilization” series. Compelled to resign from Time during the tumultuous Hiss trials, Chambers became an editor and writer on the staff of National Review from the latter part of 1957 to the middle of 1959. Throughout most of his journalistic career, Chambers continued to operate a farm in Westminster, Md., maintaining a dairy herd, raising sheep and beef cattle, and producing various crops.

A great deal can be gleaned from Chambers’s witness-martyrdom in the struggle against Communism — he sacrificed himself “a little in advance to try to win for you that infinitesimal slightly better chance” — and applied to the modern threat of resurgent Islamic totalitarianism. First, Chambers’s own brief 1947 comparison of Communism and nascent Islam should be seen in the context of more extensive, independent characterizations by Western scholars and intellectuals who also juxtaposed these ideological systems. Three other logical connections can be made:

● Chambers’s searing critique of Communism, and his related criticism of the West’s embrace of godless secular humanism.

● Chambers’s understanding that faith in the Judeo-Christian God was conjoined to Biblical freedom, a concept that was antithetical to the conception of modern atheistic totalitarianism epitomized by Communism — and to the Islamic doctrine regarding “hurriyya,” which, while “hurriya” is Arabic for “freedom,” refers to submission to the will of Allah.

Chambers’s apostasy from Communism — and the shared insights of contemporary apostates from Islam.

From the time of Chambers’s break with the Communist party in late 1938, till his death nearly 23 years later, Chambers was consumed by the West’s abnegation of its own institutions — which had been rooted for two millennia in a belief in the Judeo-Christian God — and their threatened active destruction by the votaries of mass secular totalitarian movements, notably Fascism and Communism.
His December, 1947, Time book review of Rebecca West’s The Meaning of Treason, a series of penetrating reports on the trials of British World War II traitors, opens with these observations:
When, in 1936, General Emilio Mola announced that he would capture Madrid because he had four columns outside the city and a fifth column of sympathizers within, the world pounced on the phrase with the eagerness of a man who has been groping for an important word. The world might better have been stunned as by a tocsin of calamity. For what Mola had done was to indicate the dimension of treason in our time.

Other ages have had their individual traitors — men who from faintheartedness or hope of gain sold out their causes. But in the 20th century, for the first time, men banded together by millions, in movements like fascism and communism, dedicated to the purpose of betraying the institutions they lived under. In the 20th century, treason became a vocation whose modern form was specifically the treason of ideas.

Modern man was challenged to choose between the traditions of a 2,000-year-old Christian civilization and the new totalitarian systems which, in the name of social progress, contended for the allegiance of man’s secular mind. The promise of the new ideas was as old as that serpentine whisper heard in the dawn of the Creation: “You shall become as gods” — for the first traitor was the first man.
The case of Alan Nunn May represented for Rebecca West the bottom of what Chambers characterizes as “a descent into the circles of a drab inferno.” May, a lecturer on physics at the University of London, was a longstanding Communist-party member. Ostensibly volunteering to serve his country, he became the senior member of the British atomic-bomb project’s nuclear-physics division during World War II. May then transferred to Russia samples of uranium 233 and enriched uranium 235.
Chambers’s review of The Meaning of Treason also compared the violent fanaticism of the 20th century’s secular totalitarian systems’ adherents to the votaries of Islam. The modern totalitarians expressed “new ideas” that were “violently avowed,” and “the hallmark of their advocates was a fanaticism unknown since the first flush of Islam.”

Chambers’s passing comparison does in fact have doctrinal and historical validity, and comports with other serious modern assessments. For example, Bernard Lewis, the doyen of living Western Islamic scholars, in his 1954 essay “Communism and Islam,” expounded upon on the quintessence of totalitarian Islam, and how it was antithetical in nature to Western democracy, while sharing important features of Communist totalitarianism — most notably, global domination via jihad:
Both groups profess a totalitarian doctrine, with complete and final answers to all questions on heaven and earth; the answers are different in every respect, alike only in their finality and completeness, and in the contrast they offer with the eternal questioning of Western man. . . . The humorist who summed up the Communist creed as “There is no God and Karl Marx is his Prophet” was laying his finger on a real affinity. The call to a Communist Jihad, a Holy War for the faith — a new faith, but against the self-same Western Christian enemy — might well strike a responsive note.
Moreover, had he turned his formal gaze on the subject, Chambers would never have accepted the “Abrahamic faiths” canard, because he would have seen the unbridgeable chasm that separates Allah the autocrat’s “Pantheism of Force” from the Judeo-Christian God of Biblical freedom.
While all ex-Communists would agree they renounced Communism to be free, for Chambers, freedom itself is a manifestation of divinity:
Freedom is a need of the soul, and nothing else. It is in striving toward God that the soul strives continually after a condition of freedom. God alone is the inciter and guarantor of freedom. He is the only guarantor. External freedom is only an aspect of interior freedom. Political freedom, as the Western world has known it, is only a political reading of the Bible. Religion and freedom are indivisible. Without freedom the soul dies. Without the soul there is no justification for freedom.
Hurriyya and the uniquely Western concept of freedom are completely at odds, hurriyya — as Ibn Arabi (d. 1240), the lionized “Greatest Sufi Master,” expressed it — “being perfect slavery.” And this conception is not merely confined to the Sufis’ metaphorical understanding of the relationship between Allah the “master” and his human “slaves.”

The late American scholar of Islam Franz Rosenthal (d. 2003) analyzed the larger context of hurriyya in Muslim society. He notes the historical absence of hurriyya as “a fundamental political concept that could have served as a rallying cry for great causes.” An individual Muslim “was expected to consider subordination of his own freedom to the beliefs, morality and customs of the group as the only proper course of behavior.”Thus, politically, Rosenthal concludes, “the individual was not expected to exercise any free choice as to how he wished to be governed. . . . In general . . . governmental authority admitted of no participation of the individual as such, who therefore did not possess any real freedom vis-a-vis it.”

Chambers, in short, would have recognized the implications of the yawning gap between Allah’s “hurriyya” and Western freedom as a manifestation of the Judeo-Christian God, expressed so eloquently by James Freeman Clarke (d. 1888), America’s first, and arguably still one of her greatest, scholars of comparative religion. Comparing Islam to Judaism, Clarke observed,
Goodness does not consist in obedience to divine will, but in conformity to the divine character. This is the doctrine of the Old Testament and one of its noblest characteristics. . . . Mohammedanism is a relapse [from Judaism] . . . for it makes God only an arbitrary sovereign whose will is to be obeyed without any reference to its moral character.
Moreover, Clarke noted, Islam’s Allah was“abstracted from matter, and so not to be represented by pictures and images; God withdrawn out of the world, and above all — in total separation.” In contrast, Judaism conceptualized God as being “with man, by his repeated miraculous coming down in prophets, judges, kings; also with his people, the Jews, mysteriously present in their tabernacle and temple.”

Christianity, Clarke maintained, added the notion of the God “in us all,” a strong pantheistic tendency:
The New Testament is full of this kind of pantheism, — God in man, as well as God with man. Jesus made the step forward from God with man to God in man, — “I in them, thou in me.” The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is this idea, of God who is not only will and power, not only wisdom and law, but also love; of a God who desires communion and intercourse with his children, so coming and dwelling in them. Mohammed teaches a God above us; Moses teaches a God above us, and yet with us; Jesus teaches God above us, God with us, and God in us.
This is likely derived from the converted Greeks and Romans, and distinctly evident in Whittaker Chambers’s theology. Clarke concluded that Islam’s alternative “central idea concerning God” — its conception of Allah — has not been salutary for Muslim societies: “Its governments are not governments. . . . It makes life barren and empty. It encourages a savage pride and cruelty. It makes men tyrants or slaves, women puppets, religion the submission to an infinite despotism.”

While Chambers’s defense of the West hinged on deep religious faith, he respected, within severe limits, the Enlightenment legacy of reason, particularly its role in shaping American freedom.
Conversely, the scholar Ibn Warraq, contemporary apostate from Islam, although profoundly skeptical of “revelation,” pays homage to Judeo-Christian religious ethics (from the forthcoming Why the West is Best):
Judeo-Christianity introduced the ethical concepts of love, compassion, and forgiveness, expressing a new sensibility, a new responsiveness to human suffering, and a refusal to accept the normalcy of evil. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount [Matt. 5-7] exhorts each person to take responsibility and assume all consequences for human suffering, even though he is not the original cause. Christian love demands each individual to go the extra mile for the neighbor, a timely reminder that we are responsible for bearing the cares of the world, that we have a debt to acquit, and must act accordingly to fight evil on behalf of all humans for as long as suffering exists. Our humanity lies in our responsibility for others.
Whittaker Chambers’s ex-Communist colleague Arthur Koestler famously told Richard Crossman, editor of The God That Failed, an anthology of essays written by apostates from Communism, “You hate our Cassandra cries, and resent us as allies — but, when all is said, we ex-Communists are the only people on your side who know what it is all about.”

Crossman added this germane observation to the anthology’s introduction, after studying the diverse experiences of the ex-Communist contributors:
Silone [Ignacio Silone, author and former head the Italian Communist Party underground] was joking when he said to Togliatti [a close friend of Silone, and former secretary of the Italian Communist Party] that the final battle would be between the Communists and ex-Communists.. But no one who has not wrestled with Communism as a philosophy and Communists as political opponents can really understand the values of Western democracy. The Devil once lived in Heaven, and those who have not met him are unlikely to recognize an angel when they see one.
Ibn Warraq synthesized and updated these observations to highlight their urgent relevance to Islam’s resurgent modern jihad against the West. Barring the very dubious prospect that “a reformed, tolerant, liberal kind of Islam” emerges imminently, he warned,
Perhaps the final battle will be between Islam and Western democracy. And these former Muslims, to echo Koestler’s words, on the side of Western democracy are the only one’s who know what it’s all about, and we would do well to listen to their Cassandra cries.
We ignore Warraq’s plea — repeated by legions of Muslim apostates — at our existential peril.
Chambers’s pellucid formulation of the Communist threat was rooted in his thorough doctrinal and experiential understanding of Communism:
No one knows so well as the ex-Communist the character of the conflict, and of the enemy . . . For no other has seen so deeply into the total nature of the evil with which Communism threatens mankind.

The failure to understand that fact is part of the total failure of the West to grasp the nature of its enemy, what he wants, what he means to do and how he will go about doing it. It is part of the failure of the West to understand that it is at grips with an enemy having no moral viewpoint in common with itself, that two irreconcilable viewpoints and standards of judgment, two irreconcilable moralities, proceeding from two irreconcilable readings of man’s fate and future are involved, and hence their conflict is irrepressible.
His tocsin of looming calamity helped arouse the West from its complacent ignorance regarding the Communist threat.

Let us pray that we rapidly overcome our generation’s similar complacent ignorance about the threat of totalitarian Islam.

Andrew Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism. This piece is adapted from the essay “Whittaker Chambers, Communism, and Islam.”

Friday, July 08, 2011

It's time to re-aim our pitchforks

By Mark Steyn
The Orange County Register
July 8, 2011

Something rather weird happened in London last week. For some time, The Guardian, a liberal, broadsheet, "respectable" newspaper, has been hammering The News Of The World, a populist, tabloid, low-life newspaper, over its employees' penchant for "hacking" the phones of Royals and celebrities – Prince Harry and Hugh Grant, for example. This isn't as forensic as it sounds: Until recently, most British cellphones were sold with the default password set either to 0000 or 1234, and most customers never bothered to change it.

But last Monday, it emerged that The News Of The World had also hacked into the telephone of a missing schoolgirl subsequently found dead, as well as those of family members of the July 7 Tube bombing victims and of British servicemen killed in Afghanistan. Nobody much cares if the Aussie supermodel Elle Macpherson and other denizens of the demimonde get their voice mails intercepted, but dead schoolgirls and soldiers changed the nature of the story, and events moved swiftly. On Thursday, Rupert Murdoch's son and heir announced the entire newspaper would be closed down. The whole thing. Gone.

The News Of The World wasn't any old fish-wrap. Founded in 1843, it was by the mid-20th century the most-read newspaper in the English-speaking world, selling nine million copies a week. Even in today's emaciated market, every week more than 2.6 million Britons bought "The News Of The Screws" (as it was affectionately known). Last Sunday, it was the biggest-selling newspaper in the United Kingdom and Europe. This Sunday, it's history. To put it in American terms, consider those George Soros-funded websites claiming they pressured Fox into "firing" Glenn Beck. This is the equivalent of pressuring Mr. Murdoch into closing down the entire Fox News network.

I confess to feeling a little queasy at the sight of bien pensant liberal opinion gloating at having deprived four million people of their preferred reading matter. If one were so inclined, one might be heartened by the swift responsiveness to pressure of the allegedly all-powerful bogeyman Murdoch. But you can't help but notice that this supposed public shaming is awfully selective. In the week of the News Of The World revelations, it was reported that the Atlanta Public Schools system has spent the last decade systemically cheating on its tests. Not the students, but the Superintendent, and the union, and 38 principals, and at least 178 teachers – whoops, pardon me, "educators," and some 44 of the 56 school districts. Teachers held "changing parties" at their homes at which they sat around with extra supplies of erasers correcting their students' test answers in order to improve overall scores and qualify for "No Child Left Behind" federal funding that could be sluiced into maintaining their lavish remuneration. Let's face it, it's easier than teaching, right?

The APS Human Resources honcho Millicent Few had an early report into test-tampering illegally destroyed. So APS not only got the federal gravy but was also held up to the nation at large as a heartwarming, inspirational example of how large urban school districts can reform themselves and improve educational opportunities for their children.

And its fake test scores got its leader, Beverly Hall, garlanded with the National Superintendent of the Year Award, the Administrator of the Year Award, the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Keystone Award for Leadership in Education, the Concerned Black Clergy Education Award, the American Association of School Administrators Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award and a zillion other phony-baloney baubles with which the American edu-fraud cartel scratches its own back.

In reality, Beverly Hall's Atlanta Public Schools system was in the child-abuse business: It violated the education of its students to improve its employees' cozy sinecures.

The whole rotten stinking school system is systemically corrupt from the superintendent down. But what are the chances of APS being closed down? How many of those fraudulent non-teachers will waft on within the system until their lucrative retirements?

Or consider "Operation Fast and Furious," about which nothing is happening terribly fast and over which Americans should be furious.

The official explanation is that the federal government used stimulus funding to buy guns from Arizona gun shops for known criminals to funnel to Mexican drug cartels. As I said, that's the official explanation: As soon as your head stops spinning, we'll resume the narrative. Supposedly, United States taxpayers were picking up the tab for Mexican drug lords' weaponry in order that the ATF could identify high-up gun-traffickers. But, as it turns out, these high-up gun-traffickers were already known to other agencies – FBI, DEA and other big-spending acronyms in the great fetid ooze of federal alphabet soup in which this republic is drowning. And, indeed, some of those high-ups are said to have been paid informants for those various federal agencies. So, in case you're wondering why Obama's second annual Recovery Summer is a wee bit sluggish at your end, relax: Stimulus dollars went to fund one federal agency to buy guns for the paid informants of another federal agency to funnel to foreign criminals in order that the first federal agency might identify the paid informants of the second federal agency.

Meanwhile, what did the drug cartels, the recipients of the guns, do with them? Well, they used them to kill at least one member of a third federal agency: Brian Terry of the United States Border Patrol. If that doesn't bother you, well, they also killed not insignificant numbers of Mexican civilians.

If, by this stage, you're wondering why U.S. stimulus dollars are being used to stimulate the Mexican coffin industry, consider the dark suspicion of many American gun owners – that the real reason the feds embarked on this murderous scheme was to plant the evidence that the increasing lawlessness on the southern border is the fault of the gun industry and the Second Amendment, and thereby advance its ideological agenda of ever greater gun control.

We're not talking about hacking a schoolgirl's cellphone here. Real people are dead. Yet nobody's going to close down any wing of the vast spendaholic DEATFBI hydra-headed security-state turf-war. And while Eric Holder, the buccaneering attorney general at the center of this wilderness of mirrors, doesn't yet have as many Distinguished Public Servant of the Year awards as Beverly Hall, judging from his cheerfully upfront obstruction of the congressional investigation, he's not planning on going anywhere soon.

So, at The News Of The World, every single employee is clearing out his desk. But, at the Atlantic Public Schools, at the DEATFBI, life goes on. A curious contrast. The striking feature of big government, from Athens to Sacramento, is its imperviousness to any kind of accountability – legal, fiscal, electoral, popular.

A media mogul, a bank chairman, an oil executive, a corporate-jet depreciation-claimant are easily demonizable: As President Obama cautioned CEOs a couple of years back, "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks."

More fool us. Our pitchforks are misdirected.


Today's Tune: Cowboy Junkies - Sweet Jane

What John Mackey meant to the game

By John Clayton
July 7, 2011

The passing of Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey hit me a little harder than other recent deaths of athletes.

The Mackey story is heartbreaking. He was one of the most dominating players at a position as you could find in the NFL. Once the ball got into his hands, Mackey was an unstoppable force. His big body would plow through defenses. Mackey was the essence of the physical style of football.

But the physical pain he inflicted had its costs. He suffered from frontotemporal dementia and had to move to an assisted living facility. His death comes as retired players filed a lawsuit in Minnesota seeking a seat at the bargaining table in labor talks between owners and players.

Mackey’s death should remind both sides of the importance of taking care of the players who made this game so great. Because of the concern about Mackey's health troubles after football, both sides came up with the "88 plan," which provided retired players money for nursing homes and adult daycare.

Mackey touched me most as a voting member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mackey was part of my favorite class. I liked the class of 1992 because it included some of the most controversial figures in the NFL at the time -- Mackey, Al Davis and John Riggins.

Mackey had his detractors because he was part of a 1977 antitrust suit against the NFL seeking free agency for players. Owners controlled everything back in those days, and they didn’t take well to challenges. Mackey was fearless on the field and didn’t fear the consequences of putting his name on a lawsuit to help himself and his peers.

I was one of the youngest Hall of Fame voters at that time. Will McDonough, the former Boston Globe icon whom I modeled my career after, pulled me aside and asked me if I would help on support for Mackey, Davis and Riggins. Davis was unpopular in some NFL circles because of his many lawsuits and battles with the league. Riggins was controversial, but he was a great player.

Spurred by McDonough, I started quietly talking to voters to gauge their thoughts on these three NFL icons. The conversations, as they usually are in on- and off-the-record Hall of Fame discussions, were positive, but it was fascinating hearing some of the reasons some voters had questions about Mackey, Davis and Riggins.

I don’t know if I convinced a single voter to support Mackey, Davis or Riggins, but the results said something. It was one of my proudest moments as a voter.

Unfortunately, Mackey wasn’t able to fully enjoy the post-football life befitting of a Hall of Famer. Mackey’s death may not open a seat at the bargaining table for retired players, but his portrait should be positioned in a spot for owners and players to see -- and to remember what he and others have meant to this game.

Legendary Colts tight end John Mackey dies at 69

By Mike Klingaman
The Baltimore Sun
July 7, 2011

John Mackey changed the game of football on and off the field. The former Baltimore Colt brought grace to a position that had been known for its brutality, and he made the first real headway in the NFL players' fight to earn a more equal share of the pie.

That battle continues as the NFL lockout drags on this summer.

Mr. Mackey, one of the game's great tight ends, a Hall of Famer and one-time president of the NFL Players Association, died Wednesday of frontotemporal dementia, a disease he had battled for 10 years, at Keswick Multi-Care Center in Baltimore. He was 69.

Mr. Mackey's condition awakened the NFL to the dangers of head trauma and forced a change to the retired players' pension plan. He donated his brain to the Sports Legacy Institute in Boston for research into the study of brain trauma in athletes.

"John never ever thought anything was wrong. If he thought he had memory problems, he kept it to himself," said Sylvia Mackey, his wife of 47 years. "It started around 1996, when he began making notes to himself, reminders to do certain things."

Three years ago, his family moved him to Keswick for full-time care. At the end, Sylvia Mackey said, her husband acted more like their 10-month-old grandson than the strapping All-American he'd once been.

"John couldn't feed himself, he was incontinent and he couldn't talk at all," she said. "He had deteriorated to the point where he was totally a baby."

Current NFL labor talks include discussions about the health concerns of retired players, improved equipment to protect athletes and the continued study of head injuries.

"John was a tough physical specimen, an unbelievable ballplayer and a good, good man," said Lenny Moore, the Colts' Hall of Fame running back and one of Mr. Mackey's closest friends. "People will never fully understand the impact he had on talks between players and owners and the stuff we were after. John unlocked those gates -- no, he knocked the doors down."

Bull-necked and indomitable, Mr. Mackey forged a reputation as an explosive receiver able to turn a short pass into an 80-yard touchdown. The Colts' No.2 draft pick in 1963, he redefined the role of the lumbering blocking end.

He revolutionized that position, said Don Shula, the Colts' coach from 1963 to 1969.

"Previous to John, tight ends were big, strong guys like [Mike] Ditka and [Ron] Kramer, who would block and catch short passes over the middle," Mr. Shula told The Baltimore Sun. "Mackey gave us a tight end who weighed 230, ran a 4.6 and could catch the bomb. It was a weapon other teams didn't have."

During his nine years with the Colts, the club won a Super Bowl and three conference championships. Of Mr. Mackey's 38 touchdown receptions, 13 were for 50 yards or more, including an 89-yarder against the Los Angeles Rams in 1966. That score, on the game's first offensive play, was the longest of the 290 scoring passes in NFL legend John Unitas' Hall of Fame career.

"John didn't have the best of hands," Mr. Unitas once said, "but his running ability was second to none."

His most famous catch came in the 1971 Super Bowl, when he grabbed a twice-tipped pass from Mr. Unitas and raced 75 yards for a touchdown in Baltimore's 16-13 victory over Dallas.

"That play turned the game around for us," said Glenn Ressler, then the Colts' starting guard. "If you needed a clutch catch or a block, you'd get it from John. He embodied what the Colts were all about."

Elected in 1992 to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Mr. Mackey refused to accept his ceremonial ring in Indianapolis, where the Colts had moved in 1984.

"I will do it in Baltimore," he told Hall officials. "That is where I played."

Mr. Mackey won out. He received the ring in Memorial Stadium at halftime of an exhibition game between the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints.

"John was a fighter, a man with great integrity, one who wouldn't roll over for anybody," said Bob Vogel, an All-Pro Colts tackle who played beside Mackey. "Nothing he did was from the perimeter. Whatever he took on, he was totally involved."

Focused from the start

The son of a Baptist minister, John Mackey grew up in Roosevelt, N.Y. He turned down an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy to attend Syracuse University, where he studied political science, was an All-American and roomed with running back Ernie Davis -- the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy.

Mr. Mackey would model himself after Mr. Davis, who died of leukemia at 23.

"Ernie was big and fast, like a hurricane," Mr. Mackey told The Sun in 1994. "He could run past you or knock you down. But he was never arrogant. He motivated me."

The 19th player chosen in the 1963 NFL draft, Mr. Mackey impressed his Colts teammates even before he signed a contract.

"The first time I saw John was when he walked through the locker room, after practice, to meet Shula," said defensive end Ordell Braase. "John was wearing a suit, and right behind him were his lawyer, physician and a couple of others in suits, too.

"I thought, 'What's going on here?' Back then, most players negotiated their own deals, but Mackey had a task force with him. I said, 'By God, this guy is not going to get taken.' He was focused on what he wanted, and I admired him for that."

As a first-year starter, Mr. Mackey caught 35 passes for more yardage (726) and touchdowns (seven) than either of the Colts' veteran wide receivers, Raymond Berry or Jimmy Orr.

"I'm not surprised," Mr. Orr said. "John was faster than both Raymond and I."

Nearly 50 years later, Mr. Berry, a Hall of Famer, marvels at Mr. Mackey's feats.

"Getting blocked by John was like being hit by [boxing great] Sugar Ray Robinson. He exploded into you, like lightning," Mr. Berry said. "He was fireplug-solid, not so much tall as broad. It was difficult to find a piece of him to get your arms around."

Among Berry's keepsakes is an NFL highlights film that features the 6-foot-2 Mackey at his best. In a 1966 game against Detroit, No. 88 caught a 6-yard pass and proceeded to ricochet off opponents.

"Gathering a short pass from [quarterback Gary] Cuozzo, Mackey broke one tackle, somehow escaped from the clutches of three more defenders who appeared to have him at bay, bulled his way past two more tacklers and outran the rest of the Lions for a 64-yard touchdown gallop," The Evening Sun wrote the next day.

Said Detroit coach Harry Gilmer: "He [Mackey] was knocking everybody down as he went, and I thought he was going to come over and knock me down, too."

The play was vintage Mackey, teammates said.

"Defensive backs fell off of him like gnats," said Jerry Hill, a fullback. "John didn't have a fluid gait -- he looked like a plowhorse -- but you didn't want to touch him for fear of getting caught up in the wheels."

Mackey thrived on contact, said Vogel: "Some times you had a sense that, given the option, John would rather run over you than outrun you."

No team respected Mackey more than Green Bay, the Colts' archrival in the 1960s.

"He was the criteria by which you measured tight ends," said Dave Robinson, the Packers' All-Pro linebacker who regularly squared off against him. "If you played well against John Mackey, you could play against anyone."

The Packers' strategy against Mackey was direct, said Robinson:

"[Coach] Vince Lombardi said, 'If Mackey catches a short pass, I want everyone to rally around him. Don't let the safety try to take him down.'"

At the same time, Mackey's crushing blocks roiled Green Bay's linemen.

"Willie Davis [the Hall of Fame defensive end] would holler, 'Just keep that Mackey off of me,'" Robinson said. "I tried. But I never left Baltimore without dragging the next morning."

A three-time All-NFL selection, Mr. Mackey also played in five Pro Bowls. In a 10-year career (the last with the San Diego Chargers), he caught 331 passes for 5,236 yards.

In 1969, while still playing, he made the NFL's 50th anniversary team as pro football's all-time tight end.

"To be on the field with John was eerie," said center Bill Curry, his roommate with the Colts. "It was like being in the presence of Superman."

Mackey's kryptonite? Bugs.

"He hated them," Curry said. "Once, before practice in Westminster, running back Tom Matte dropped a live cicada down John's pants. He didn't know it until we were in the huddle and everyone heard this whirring noise.

"John looked up, all serious, and said, 'What's that? Is one of them in here with us?' Then he felt the thing in his pants.

"He ripped those pants off, in the middle of the field, with 300 people watching."

At the same time, said Curry, "John had the presence of mind to yell, 'Surround me! Surround me!' to the rest of us. "Of course, we all scattered."

Once, at San Francisco's Kezar Stadium, groundskeepers removed the pre-game tarp, revealing thousands of writhing red earthworms.

"John took one look at those things and said, 'They're not going to get on me,'" Curry said.

He caught a half-dozen passes that day but never hit the ground. The 49ers couldn't bring him down. At game's end, his was the only white jersey on the field.

Players' advocate

Despite the accolades, Mr. Mackey was no shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. Most believe his involvement with the NFLPA kept him out of Canton until his 15th and final year of eligibility.

As the union's first president after the merger of the National Football League and the American Football League in 1970, Mr. Mackey quickly aroused the owners' ire. That July, he organized a three-day strike that won the players $11million in pensions and benefits. In 1972, he filed and eventually won a landmark antitrust suit that brought them free agency. (The union bargained it away in 1977.)

"He was the right man at the right time," said Mr. Braase, who preceded Mr. Mackey as head of the players association. "We were a fractured group until John began putting permanence in [the union's] day-to-day operations. He hired administrators and a general counsel.

"He had a vision for that job, which was more than just putting in time and keeping the natives calm. You don't get anything unless you really rattle the cage."

Mr. Mackey's legacy can be found in the multimillion-dollar contracts NFL players enjoy, said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens general manager.

"All of the benefits of today's players come from the foundation laid by John Mackey," said Mr. Newsome, himself a Hall of Fame tight end. "He took risks. He stepped out. He was willing to be different."

"John Mackey was one of the great leaders in NFL history, on and off the field," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "He was a Hall of Fame player who redefined the tight end position. He was a courageous advocate for his fellow NFL players as head of the NFL Players Association. He worked closely with our office on many issues through the years, including serving as the first president of the NFL Youth Football Fund. He never stopped fighting the good fight."

Off the field, Mr. Mackey drove a Bentley. He emceed a concert by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He did a weekly sports report on WJZ-TV and served as sports director of WEBB radio. He starred in a CBS quiz show, "Alumni Fun," as a member of the Syracuse University team. He published an autobiography, "Blazing Trails."

"John was an elegant guy, from his vocabulary to the way he conducted himself in public," Mr. Vogel said. "He enhanced the image of athletes. He raised the bar."

Mr. Mackey is survived by his wife, Sylvia, of Baltimore; a son, John Kevin Mackey, of Atlanta; two daughters, Lisa Mackey Hazel of Bowie and Laura Mackey Nattans of Baltimore; and six grandchildren.

The family will be receiving friends from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 15 at the Burgee-Henss-Seitz Funeral Home, 3631 Falls Road. Plans for an August memorial service are pending.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Association For Frontotemporal Degeneration, Radnor Station Building 2, Suite 320, 290 King Of Prussia Road, Radnor, Pa. 19087, or to the Sports Legacy Institute, P.O. Box 181225, Boston, Mass. 02118.

Baltimore Sun researcher Paul McCardell contributed to this article.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

London Honors Reagan

By R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
The American Spectator
July 7, 2011

LONDON -- The other morning I wandered down to Grosvenor Square to see the July 4th unveiling of a statue of President Ronald Reagan, despite reports that only a handful of people would be there. That invaluable piece of intelligence was handed down by the the Hon. Louis B. Susman, our ambassador, who was busy as a director of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team during the 1980s when President Reagan was staring down the Soviets with his befuddling mixture of amiability and steely resolve that astoundingly “ended the Cold War without firing a shot.” That is how Lady Thatcher memorably put it. She was not astounded, nor was President Richard Nixon or other hawkish Cold Warriors.

Our Liberal friends had a different way of seeing it. They thought Reagan was a dunce, and many still do. They feared he would bring us to nuclear holocaust, and Senator Ted Kennedy surreptitiously entered into league with the Soviets to oppose the president in 1984. They did not know what to make of his meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev, and I remember one, the journalist Michael Kinsley, saying no one Left or Right predicted the peaceful end of the Cold War. Later, as the historically-minded dug out Reagan’s assurances that the Cold War could be won, the Liberals had moved on to a different subject. No one is better than the Liberals at avoiding epochal events that they have played little part in.

I liked the Hon. Susman’s crowd estimate. It shows how attuned to the times he and all his Liberal friends are. They are now predicting an Obama victory in 2012, and when it fails to take place they will change the subject. How about the conservatives are scary or leading America to its doom? Actually, the crowd Monday morning numbered in the thousands and many had to be turned away. There were hundreds more who turned out in the evening at an elaborate black tie tribute to the 40th president at Guildhall that was more than a tribute to Reagan. It also seemed to me to be an acknowledgement of the vast achievements of America and Great Britain’s “special relationship,” and of what great things those two resolute powers have achieved since the dawn of the 20th century. July 4, 2011 was a great day of American and British friendship.

There in Grosvenor Square, with statues of Dwight David Eisenhower and Franklin Roosevelt looking on, a handsome ten-foot statue was unveiled of the Old Cowboy, looking out on the festive crowd with a vaguely amused look on his face but his chest thrust out, his shoulders broad. He once corrected me when I told him I had heard that in recuperating from an assassin’s bullet he did bench presses and put an inch of muscle on his upper body. “Two and a half inches,” he serenely but firmly said.

There were speeches by Congressman Kevin McCarthy, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the invaluable erstwhile Reagan aide, Frederick Ryan, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Ronald Reagan Foundation. A note by the ailing Lady Thatcher was read. The Hon. Susman gave a speech that was admirable in its recognition of Reagan and also of FDR and Ike too. His predecessor Robert Tuttle spoke engagingly and, of course, First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Great Britain the Rt. Hon. William Hague who said “it is a fitting tribute to the honor of the truest friend that Britain has ever had,” Ronald Reagan.

We all walked off glad to be breathing the sweet air of a Free World.

PHOTO: LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: (L-R) Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip, US House of Representatives, Robert Tuttle, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Fred Ryan, Chairman of the Board for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, Condoleezza Rice, Former US Secretary of State, William Hague, UK Foreign Secretary and Louis B. Susman, US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, attend the unveiling of a statue of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, in the grounds of the American Embassy on July 4, 2011 in London, England. Today would have been Reagan's 100th Birthday. The 40th President of the United States of America enjoyed close ties with the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. (Getty Images)

- R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. His new book, After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery, was published on April 20 by Thomas Nelson

Q & A: Bishop Kallistos Ware on the Fullness and the Center

The metropolitan archbishop of the Eastern Orthodox Church in the U.K. on evangelism, evangelicals, and the Orthodox Church.

Interview by David Neff
posted 7/06/2011 10:18AM

In 1960, Penguin Books asked the 26-year-old Timothy Ware to write a book on his newfound Eastern Orthodox faith. His first reaction was to say no; he had been Orthodox for only two years. But a friend urged him to try and so he set his pen to paper. Now nearly 50 years old, The Orthodox Church remains the go-to book for people who want an introduction to Orthodoxy. Since that first book, Ware became a monk, took the name Kallistos, became a lecturer at Oxford University, and was made Metropolitan Bishop of Diokleia for Greek Orthodoxy in Britain.

Earlier this year, Ware lectured at North Park University and Wheaton College about what evangelicals could learn from the Orthodox and what the Orthodox could learn from evangelicals. Christianity Today editor in chief David Neff interviewed him during that visit.

Some friends who have joined the Orthodox Church talk as if the Orthodox tradition was fixed very early and handed down without change. You treat tradition in a much more dynamic way.

You're quite right that I think tradition is dynamic. I recall the definition given by the great Russian Orthodox theologian, Vladimir Lossky: "Tradition is the life of the Holy Spirit in the church." Clearly, tradition is life; it's not a fixed formula. Still less is it writings in leather-bound volumes. Tradition is life, and it is the life of Christ present in the church through the Holy Spirit. It is not simply fixed doctrines, but the continuing self-understanding and self-criticism of the Christian community.

What keeps that dynamic self-understanding from going off the rails?

Holy Scripture as it has been understood in the church and by the church through the centuries. With that understanding of Holy Scripture, we would appeal particularly to the fathers and the saints.

Tradition is not a second source alongside Scripture; clearly normative for us Orthodox is Scripture as interpreted by the seven ecumenical councils. But tradition lives on. The age of the fathers didn't stop in the fifth century or the seventh century. We could have holy fathers now in the 21st century equal to the ancient fathers.

The implosion of Communism left a spiritual vacuum, and my fellow evangelical Protestants rushed into Russia. There have been tensions as they have tried to help people get to know the Bible better and to make their faith personal. Why has it been so difficult for Orthodox and evangelicals to work together in post-Communist countries?

The Orthodox felt and still feel deep resentment at the way—as they see it—evangelicals have moved in on their territory. They feel we suffered persecution in Russia for 70 years, often very severe, and we struggled to keep the faith going under immense difficulties. Now that the persecution has stopped, people move in from the West who have not suffered in the same way for their faith, and they are stealing our people from us. We feel as if our Christian brethren are stabbing us in the back. I'm putting it in extreme form, but there is this deep feeling.

Bound up with this is the sense in Russia and other Orthodox countries of what is called canonical territory. Orthodoxy is the church of the land. Therefore, they feel if other Christians come in, they are stealing their sheep.

I know evangelicals look at it differently. They would say, "Here is a country with enormous numbers of people who are totally unchurched, who for 70 years have had no chance to have a living link with Jesus Christ, and we must help them." But that's not the way the Orthodox look at it. They would welcome cooperation, but they resent anything that involves stealing their sheep.

The Orthodox have always had good cooperation with Billy Graham. When Billy Graham went to Russia, he was received by the patriarch, because he worked on the principle that those who came forward to make a commitment to Christ at his preaching were handed over to the clergy of their own church. He did not try to set up his own evangelical communities that would be rivals to the Orthodox.

In open countries where Orthodoxy has never been an established religion, how does Orthodoxy reach out to unchurched people?

In Britain, we have until very recently been concerned simply to be able to minister to our own people, to the children of Orthodox immigrants, who have lost a living link with their own church. Building our parishes from nothing—no church building, no accommodation for the priest—is not easy, and many of our priests in Britain still have to earn their living with secular work, because the community wouldn't be able to support them full-time. We need to have a much more effective home mission before we reach out to others.

We Orthodox would certainly be against proselytism, by which I mean negative propaganda aimed at practicing members of other churches, criticizing what they already believe. That is not the way of Christ. But evangelism is something different.

We Orthodox are still certainly too inward looking; we should realize that we have a message that many people will listen to gladly. I see our mission not primarily to practicing members of other churches, but to the unchurched who are very numerous in Britain, less so in the United States.

To me, the most important missionary witness that we have is the Divine Liturgy, the Eucharistic worship of the Orthodox Church. This is the life-giving source from which everything else proceeds. And therefore, to those who show an interest in Orthodoxy, I say, "Come and see. Come to the liturgy." The first thing is that they should have an experience of Orthodoxy—or for that matter, of Christianity—as a worshiping community. We start from prayer, not from an abstract ideology, not from moral rules, but from a living link with Christ expressed through prayer.

To draw in the unchurched, evangelical churches often strip away things that might be mysterious or strange. But when you invite someone into an Orthodox liturgy, you hit them full-on with strange symbolism and unfamiliar words.

Yes, and let them understand what God gives them to understand. Throw them in at the deep end of the swimming pool and see what happens. That is very much our Orthodox approach. I would not want to offer a watered-down version of Orthodoxy.

The basic rules of Christianity, our relation to Christ, are very simple. Because they are simple they are also often difficult to understand.

On the other hand, we should not be content with a bare minimum. We should offer people the fullness of the faith in all its diversity and depth. I would wish people, when they come to the Orthodox liturgy, not to think that they understand everything the first time. I hope, rather, that they have an experience of mystery, a sense of awe and wonder. If we lose that from our worship, we have lost something very precious.

There's a bad expression of mystery, which is just mystification. But there's a good sense of mystery—to realize that in our worship we are in contact with the transcendent, with that which far surpasses our reasoning brains. I hope that this sense of living mystery, which is entirely bound up with a personal experience of Christ, is conveyed through our worship.

You speak of the fullness of the faith, experienced through the Divine Liturgy. Evangelical Protestants, from the first days of the Reformation through the Wesleyan Revival, have been eager to crystallize a central message and a central experience. We need to help people see both the center and the fullness of the faith. One theologian I talked to before this interview said, "Ask if the fullness doesn't sometimes obscure the center."

I agree that what we want is both/and—the fullness and the center. There could be a way of presenting Orthodoxy that makes it sound very complicated. We Orthodox have a rich inheritance, which could become a heavy burden if not properly handled.

Yet I certainly believe that Orthodoxy is simple Christianity—not an elaborate Byzantine ritual, but simple Christianity. When I first came in contact with the Orthodox Church, the music, the icons, the total experience of the liturgy influenced me greatly, but I did not become Orthodox because of that. I became Orthodox because I felt that it is simple Christianity.

If I were to meet you on a train and ask you, "What is the center of the Christian message?," how would you succinctly put that?

I would answer, "I believe in a God who loves humankind so intensely, so totally, that he chose himself to become human. Therefore, I believe in Jesus Christ as fully and truly God, but also totally and unreservedly one of us, fully human." And I would say to you, "The love of God is so great that Christ died for us on the cross. But love is stronger than death, and so the death of Jesus was followed by his resurrection. I am a Christian because I believe in the great love of God that led him to become incarnate, to die, and to rise again." That's my faith. All of this is made immediate to us through the continuing action of the Holy Spirit.

Evangelicals agree with everything you have just said. But we tend to focus on a transaction that happened at the Cross and a transaction that happens when the believer puts faith in what happened at the Cross. We take up Paul's courtroom metaphors. How would you describe the East's way of looking at it?

It's true, we Orthodox would, on the whole, not use the word transaction. It's also certainly true that we do not emphasize legal language.

We prefer the image of Christ as victor over death, love stronger than death, the kind of victory that we sense at the Paschal service Easter midnight in the Orthodox Church, when there is a constant refrain, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs he has given life." That is the image of Christ's work that we chiefly stress.

But certainly within the New Testament there is a whole series of images. There is no single systematic theory of the Atonement, and we should make use of all these images. So, yes, we should find a place for the idea of substitution, which the Orthodox don't stress so much. It is there in the New Testament, in 2 Corinthians 5:21: "He who was without sin was made by God to be sin for us, that we in him might become righteousness." The idea of the sacrificial Lamb is also a profound scriptural image. We should make use of those images as well as Christ the Victor.

I don't care so much for the idea of satisfaction. Satisfaction is not a scriptural word. The legal imagery, I think, should always be combined with an emphasis upon the transfiguring power of love. The motive for the Incarnation was not God's justice or his glory, but his love. That was the supreme motive. "God so loved the world." That is what we should start from.

We've talked about evangelizing the unchurched. That's one area where Orthodoxy hasn't done a whole lot. Why is that?

You are not entirely fair to the Orthodox. From the ninth century on, the Orthodox undertook an immense missionary outreach to Slavic peoples—Bulgaria, Serbia, Russia. In that period they were every bit as dynamic in their missionary outreach as the Western church.

You have to take into account the effect of being under Muslim rule, when any form of missionary outreach was forbidden. Christians survived under Islam as self-contained communities, but to attempt to convert a Muslim to the Christian faith would have led immediately to a death sentence. So, naturally, under Islam the Orthodox could not undertake notable missionary work. In the 19th century, there were Russian missions in China, Japan, Korea, and among the Muslim tribes within the Russian Empire. Then came Communism, and it made outward missionary work more or less impossible.

We Orthodox ought to be doing much more than we are doing in this field, but you have to allow for the historical circumstances. The West in the last five centuries has been dominant, rich, influential, colonial, imperial, expansionist. That made missionary work much easier. The East had none of these privileges except for a limited extent in Russia.

How about social justice—how does Orthodoxy practice that?

There is a great deal of room for Orthodoxy to do more. The most notable efforts in recent years have been by the church of Russia. At its local council in 2000, and more recently in 2006, the church of Russia has produced reflective documents on social witness. This may be only a beginning, but it's a valuable beginning.

In the West, we ought to develop our social witness. Within Orthodoxy, there is a strong tradition of compassion for the poor, the underprivileged, the suffering. This you see in many of the lives of our saints. But all too often, this was merely on an individual basis, helping those who were in distress and need. There was not enough effort made among Orthodox to question unjust social structures. We gave bread to the poor, but we did not ask sufficiently why the poor had no bread. We did not, perhaps, protest against the unjust social structures that existed in Orthodox countries and now exist in the Western world.

Jaroslav Pelikan, an important historical theologian who became Orthodox late in life, once told me, "You evangelicals talk too much about Jesus and don't spend enough time thinking about the Holy Trinity." Can one talk too much about Jesus?

I would not want to contrast faith in Jesus with faith in the Holy Trinity. My faith in Jesus is precisely that I believe him to be not only truly human, but also to be the eternal Son of God. I cannot think of a faith in Jesus that does not also involve faith in God the Father.

How is Jesus present to us personally at this moment? How is it that he is not merely a figure from the distant past, but that he also lives in my own life? That is through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I cannot understand a faith in Jesus Christ that would not also involve faith in the Holy Spirit.

I don't think we can have too much faith in Jesus. But faith in Jesus, if it is to be truly such, is necessarily Trinitarian. If you look at the lives of the Orthodox saints, you will find a very vivid faith in Jesus. Their affirmation of the Trinity did not in any way diminish their sense of Jesus as their personal Savior.

Related Elsewhere:

Bishop Kallistos Ware's book The Orthodox Church is available at and other retailers.

A portion of Christianity Today's interview with Ware is available on YouTube.

Previous Christianity Today coverage of orthodoxy includes:

Performing Orthodoxy | "The Hermeneutics of Doctrine" argues that belief is as much about embodiment as affirmation. (March 26, 2008)

What's so Radical about Orthodoxy? | Introducing Radical Orthodoxy and the project to "re-narrate" reality without the word secular. (May 24, 2005)

Paradoxical Orthodoxy | Great sayings from Christianity's master of irony. (September 1, 2000)

Additional coverage of orthodoxy from Christianity Today's sister publication includes:

Orthodoxy, Explained | How did the church come to understand Christ as fully God and fully man? Stephen Need is an excellent tour guide to the early church councils that debated the core issues of Christian faith. (October 9, 2008)

Neo-Orthodoxy: Karl Barth | He revived orthodoxy when mere moralism and humanism had seemingly won over the theological world. (January 1, 2000)

Eastern Orthodoxy: Did You Know? | Little-known or fascinating facts about Eastern Orthodoxy. (April 1, 1997)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

No Homophobia

A reminder about the totalitarian temptation

By George Weigel
July 5, 2011

The Washington Post’s culture critic, Philip Kennicott, recently took to the pages of his paper to note the “cognitive dissonance” between ingrained “habits of homophobia” in American culture, on the one hand, and a recognition that “overt bigotry is no longer acceptable in the public square,” on the other.

As an example of those who resolve this dissonance by holding fast to their homophobic prejudices, Kennicott cited Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, who had remarked on the similarities between the Empire State’s recent re-definition of marriage and the kind of human engineering attempted by totalitarian states; NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez and I came into Mr. Kennicott’s line of fire for displaying similarly “virulent homophobic rhetoric” in articles defending Archbishop Dolan’s suggestion that, in the marriage debate, the totalitarian temptation was very much in play.

Philip Kennicott’s line of attack nicely demonstrates the truth of Oscar Wilde’s famous observation that the only way to rid oneself of temptation is to yield to it. For crying “homophobia” is a cheap calumny, a crypto-totalitarian bully’s smear that impresses no serious person.

But for charity’s sake, let’s assume here that Mr. Kennicott simply had a bad day and might actually be interested in the arguments of those he and others have dismissed as bigots. Perhaps I can illustrate the point Kennicott’s targets were making by reminding all parties to this dispute of what marriage under totalitarianism was like — a subject I happened to be discussing with a Polish couple who were preparing to mark their 47th wedding anniversary when the Kennicott article appeared.

Under Polish Communism, Catholic couples — which is to say, just about everyone — got “married” twice. Because marriages in the Catholic Church were not recognized by the Communist state, believers had two “weddings.” The first was a civil procedure, carried out in a dingy bureaucratic office with a state (i.e., Communist-party) apparatchik presiding. The friends with whom I was discussing this inanity are, today, distinguished academics, a physicist and a musicologist. They remembered with some glee that, a half century before, they had treated the state “wedding” with such unrestrained if blithe contempt that the presiding apparatchik had had to admonish them to take the business at hand seriously — a warning from the ΓΌber-nanny-state my friends declined to, well, take seriously.

The entire business was a farce, regarded as such by virtually all concerned. Some time later, my friends were married, in every meaningful sense of that term, in Wawel Cathedral by a Polish priest whom the world would later know as Pope John Paul II.

Americans will say, “It can’t happen here.” But it can, and it may. Before the ink was dry on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature on New York’s new marriage law, the New York Times published an editorial decrying the “religious exemptions” that had been written into the marriage law at the last moment. Those exemptions do, in fact, undercut the logic of the entire redefinition of marriage in the New York law — can you imagine any other “exemption for bigotry” being granted, in any other case of what the law declares to be a fundamental right?

Either the recently enacted New York marriage law is nonsense, or its religious opponents are bigots whose prejudices should not be given the protection of law. To use Mr. Kennicott’s sociological term of art, it’s a matter of cognitive dissonance to try to have it both ways. In any event, pressures like that of the Times and its activist allies will continue, for the logic of their position requires them to try and strip away religious and other exemptions from recognizing “gay marriage.”

Should those pressures succeed, the Catholic Church will be forced to get out of the civil marriage business — as it has been forced in some states to stop providing foster care for children and young people, thanks to the pressures of the really phobic parties in these affairs: the Christophobes. Priests will no longer function as officials of the state when witnessing marriages.

So what will Catholics and other adherents of biblical morality do (for evangelical pastors are just as much at risk from the Christophobes as Catholic priests)? They’ll have a civil “wedding” that will be a farce, just like that endured by my Polish friends in 1964. And then they’ll really get married in church.

Thus the net effect of the pressures now being mounted by the Times and others — a redefinition of “marriage” that puts Christian communities and their pastors outside the boundaries of the law for purposes of marriage — will be to reduce state-recognized “marriage” to a sad joke. One can even imagine a whole new genre of dark humor, of the sort represented by “Radio Yerevan” and other brilliant exemplars of anti-Communist raillery, emerging. That might be fun, but it’s a sad price to pay for this state attempt to redefine reality.

And that brings us to the totalitarian temptation. As analysts running the gamut from Hannah Arendt to Leszek Kolakowski understood, modern totalitarian systems were, at bottom, attempts to remake reality by redefining reality and remaking human beings in the process. Coercive state power was essential to this process, because reality doesn’t yield easily to remaking, and neither do people. In the lands Communism tried to remake, the human instinct for justice — justice that is rooted in reality rather than ephemeral opinion — was too strong to change the way tastemakers change fashions in the arts. Men and women had to be coerced into accepting, however sullenly, the Communist New Order, which was a new metaphysical, epistemological, and moral order — a New Order of reality, a new set of “truths,” and a new way of living “in harmony with society,” as late-bureaucratic Communist claptrap had it.

The 21st-century state’s attempt to redefine marriage is just such an attempt to redefine reality — in this case, a reality that existed before the state, for marriage as the union of a man and a woman ordered to mutual love and procreation is a human reality that existed before the state. And a just state is obliged to recognize, not redefine, it.

Moreover, marriage and the families that are built around marriage constitute one of the basic elements of civil society, that free space of free associations whose boundaries the just state must respect. If the 21st-century democratic state attempts to redefine something it has neither the capacity nor the authority to refine, it can only do so coercively. That redefinition, and its legal enforcement, is a grave encroachment into civil society.

If the state can redefine marriage and enforce that redefinition, it can do so with the doctor-patient relationship, the lawyer-client relationship, the parent-child relationship, the confessor-penitent relationship, and virtually every other relationship that is woven into the texture of civil society. In doing so, the state does serious damage to the democratic project. Concurrently, it reduces what it tries to substitute for reality to farce.

That’s what those whom Mr. Kennicott deplores as virulent bigots were trying to point out.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

There has been no global warming since 1998

By James Delingpole

The headline of this post really shouldn’t be controversial. It chimes perfectly with what Kevin “null hypothesis” Trenberth wrote in that notorious 2009 Climategate email to Michael Mann:
The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.
And it’s what Phil Jones admitted in a BBC interview when he said that there had been no “statistically significant” warming since 1995.

Why then am I mentioning it now? W-e-l-l, because just as ze war is to the Germans, Chappaquiddick is to the Kennedy family and that Portland masseuse incident to Al Gore, so the recent lack of warming is to the, er, Warmists. They hate it. It’s an affront to everything they believe in. Damn it, if the world isn’t warming with the alacrity they’d prefer, how are they going to keep the funding gravy train going, and how are they going to persuade an increasingly sceptical populace that the “science” is “settled”, the debate over and the time for action is now? That’s why they can’t reminded of the truth often enough. It’s like salting the slugs that are ruining your garden: necessary, but also kind of fun too.

Consider their latest desperate effort in fudge, denial, and duplicity. It concerns a new report which – if you believe the Guardian and Michael Mann – confirms that man-made global warming is even more man-made and more happening and more dangerous than at any time ever.
Michael E Mann, at Pennsylvania State University and not part of the research team, said the study was “a very solid, careful statistical analysis” which reinforces research showing “there is a clear impact of human activity on ongoing warming of our climate”. It demonstrated, Mann said, that “the claim that ‘global warming has stopped’ is simply false.”
Actually the paper Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with observed temperature 1998-2008 [PDF] by a team led by Robert Kaufmann at the Department of Geography at Boston University demonstrates no such thing. What it shows – yet again and in excelsis – is the chutzpah and threadbare desperation of the “scientists” involved in the Great Global Warming Boondoggle. Rather than admit that their Ponzi scheme is dead in the water, they try to dazzle us with new imaginative theories which prove that, even though they’re wrong they are in fact right.

No global warming since 1998? Simple. All you’ve got to do – as Kaufmann et al have done – is apply the Even Though We’re Wrong We’re Right Panacea Get-Out Formula. In this instance the ETWWWRPGOF (as it’s snappily known) involves Blaming The Chinese. Yep, it turns out all that pollution that Chinese are pumping into the air thanks to their unhealthy obsession with economic growth and giving better lives to their children is actually counteracting the effects of Man Made Global Warming.
“Results indicate that net anthropogenic forcing rises slower than previous decades because the cooling effects of sulfur emissions grow in tandem with the warming effects greenhouse gas concentrations. This slow-down, along with declining solar insolation and a change from El Nino to La Nina conditions, enables the model to simulate the lack of warming after 1998,” the team explains.
In other words Man Made Global Cooling is cancelling out Man Made Global Warming.
Judith Curry is unimpressed:
Their argument is totally unconvincing to me. However, the link between flat/cooling global temperature and increased coal burning in China is certainly an interesting argument from a political perspective. The scientific motivation for this article seems to be that that scientists understand the evolution of global temperature forcing and that the answer is forced variability (not natural internal variability), and this explanation of the recent lack of warming supports a similar argument for the cooling between 1940 and 1970. The political consequence of this article seems to be that the simplest solution to global warming is for the Chinese to burn more coal, which they intend to do anyways.
As is David Whitehouse at the GWPF:
Tweaking computer models like this proves nothing. The real test is in the real world data. The temperature hasn’t increased for over a decade. For there to be any faith in the underlying scientific assumptions the world has to start warming soon, at an enhanced rate to compensate for it being held back for a decade.
Despite what the authors of this paper state after their tinkering with an out-of-date climate computer model, there is as yet no convincing explanation for the global temperature standstill of the past decade.
As indeed might you and I be. For years the Warmists have been telling us that they’re so sure of their computer models that they know, they just know, that CO2 has a forcing effect on global temperatures and that combined with positive feedbacks this is going to cause catastrophic warming. And now they’re saying, without a blush, “Well all right, some of those feedbacks might actually be negative and, er, completely cancel out the terrifying thing we were telling you to worry about. But don’t stop worrying, for God’s sake. Whatever is happening is still worrying, very worrying. And if you give us a bit more time we’ll come up with a paper explaining just why it’s worrying.”

Meanwhile, further evidence emerges that “science” informing the IPCC’s prognostications of Man Made Climate Doom is junk science. It comes courtesy of Nic Lewis, the man who helped expose the flaws in a paper about Antarctic temperature trends, who has now noticed another instance in which the IPCC has been torturing innocent data – sorry: made a perfectly innocent mistake quite accidentally with no bad intention whatsoever – to suit its twisted ends.
The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report of 2007 (AR4) contained various errors, including the well publicised overestimate of the speed at which Himalayan glaciers would melt. However, the IPCC’s defenders point out that such errors were inadvertent and inconsequential: they did not undermine the scientific basis of AR4. Here I demonstrate an error in the core scientific report (WGI) that came about through the IPCC’s alteration of a peer-reviewed result. This error is highly consequential, since it involves the only instrumental evidence that is climate-model independent cited by the IPCC as to the probability distribution of climate sensitivity, and it substantially increases the apparent risk of high warming from increases in CO2 concentration.
Matt Ridley explains the significance of this better than I can:
This mistake is central to the IPCC’s case, not peripheral. It undermines the credibility of the case for urgent action against climate change and strongly supports the argument that, other things being equal, CO2 doubling will not cause more than a mild and net beneficial warming.
Now can we have our economy back, please?