Christians, Take The Alt-Right Seriously

the alt-right appealed to the young men — all of whom are white, conservative, and Evangelical — because it’s daring, and because the spirituality of megachurch Evangelicalism (in the kid’s view) is insipid. There was nothing much to inspire or to hold them. The alt-right fake “gospel” offered them an easy explanation of why they felt alienated and powerless, provided them with an enemy, and stoked their rage.

..It is anti-Christian, and it has strong arguments to make — not “strong” in the sense of “persuasive” (Rose is very much against the alt-right), but not arguments that can be easily dismissed with cries of “bigotbigotbigot!”

.. The alt-right is not stupid. It is deep. Its ideas are not ridiculous. They are serious. To appreciate this fact, one needs to inquire beyond its presence on social media, where its obnoxious use of insult, obscenity, and racism has earned it a reputation for moral idiocy. The reputation is deserved, but do not be deceived. Behind its online tantrums and personal attacks are arguments of genuine power and expanding appeal. As political scientist George Hawley conceded in a recent study, “Everything we have seen over the past year suggests that the alt-right will be around for the foreseeable future.”

.. The alt-right is anti-Christian. Not by implication or insinuation, but by confession. Its leading thinkers flaunt their rejection of Christianity and their desire to convert believers away from it. Greg Johnson, an influential theorist with a doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University of America, argues that “Christianity is one of the main causes of white decline” and a “necessary condition of white racial suicide.”

..“Like acid, Christianity burns through ties of kinship and blood,” writes Gregory Hood, one of the website’s most talented essayists. It is “the essential religious step in paving the way for decadent modernity and its toxic creeds.”

.. Alt-right thinkers are overwhelmingly atheists, but their worldview is not rooted in the secular Enlightenment, nor is it irreligious. Far from it. Read deeply in their sources—and make no mistake, the alt-right has an intellectual tradition—and you will discover a movement that takes Christian thought and culture seriously. It is a conflicted tribute paid to their chief adversary. Against Christianity it makes two related charges.

Beginning with the claim that Europe effectively created Christianity—not the other way around—it argues that Christian teachings have become socially and morally poisonous to the West. A major work of alt-right history opens with a widely echoed claim: “The introduction of Christianity has to count as the single greatest ideological catastrophe to ever strike Europe.”

.. Nietzsche got there first, of course — and he was not wrong about Christianity being a religion that exalts the meek.

.. Oswald Spengler’s Decline Of The West as a foundational text of the alt-right:

If Spengler’s theology is tendentious, his portrait of Western identity is deceptively powerful. To a young man lacking a strong identity he says, “This heroic culture is your inheritance, and yours alone. You stand in a line of men who have attained the highest excellences and freely endured the hardest challenges. Albert the Great, Cortés, Newton, Goethe, the Wright brothers all carry this daring spirit, and so do you.”

.. The juxtaposition was comic, just as it is comic to think about an obese, slovenly white guy vaping in front of his TV wearing a t-shirt sporting an image of, I dunno, Charlemagne, and a slogan claiming to be part of his lineage.

.. someone who is poor and at the bottom of the social hierarchy would find it consoling to identify with a hero — specifically, a racialized hero

.. There is no better introduction to alt-right theory than [Alain de Benoist’s] 1981 work On Being a Pagan. Its tone is serene, but its message is militant. Benoist argues that the West must choose between two warring visions of human life:

  1. biblical monotheism and
  2. paganism.

Benoist is a modern-day Celsus. Like his second-century predecessor, he writes to reawaken Europeans to their ancient faith. Paganism’s central claim is simple: that the world is holy and eternal. “Far from desacralizing the world,” Benoist tells us, paganism “sacralizes it in the literal sense of the word, since it regards the world as sacred.” Paganism is also a humanism. It recognizes man, the highest expression of nature, as the sole measure of the divine. God does not therefore create men; men make gods, which “exist” as ideal models that their creators strive to equal. “Man shares in the divine every time he surpasses himself,” Benoist writes, “every time he attains the boundaries of his best and strongest aspects.”

.. Benoist’s case against Christianity is that it forbids the expression of this “Faustian” vitality. It does so by placing the ultimate source of truth outside of humanity, in an otherworldly realm to which we must be subservient.

..  He accuses Christianity of crippling our most noble impulses. Christianity makes us strangers in our own skin, conning us into distrusting our strongest intuitions. We naturally respect beauty, health, and power, Benoist observes, but Christianity teaches us to revere the deformed, sick, and weak instead. 

Paganism does not reproach Christianity for defending the weak,” he explains. “It reproaches [Christianity] for exalting them in their weakness and viewing it as a sign of their election and their title to glory.”

.. Christianity is unable to protect European peoples and their cultures. Under Christianity, the West lives under a kind of double imprisonment. It exists under the power of a foreign religion and an alien deity. Christianity is not our religion. It thereby foments “nihilism.”

.. its universalism poisons our attachments to particular loyalties and ties. “If all men are brothers,” Benoist claims, “then no one can truly be a brother.”

.. Politics depends on the recognition of both outsiders and enemies, yet the Christian Church sees all people as potential members, indeed potential saints.

.. Christianity imparted to our culture an ethics that has mutated into what the alt-right calls “pathological altruism.” Its self-distrust, concern for victims, and fear of excluding outsiders—such values swindle Western peoples out of a preferential love for their own.

.. “Christianity provides an identity that is above or before racial and ethnic identity,” Richard Spencer complains. “It’s not like other religions that come out of a folk spirit.

.. invoking race as an emergency replacement for our fraying civic bonds. It is not alone; identity politics on the left is a response to the same erosion of belonging.

.. The alt-right is anti-Christian. But you cannot effectively fight the alt-right with progressive pieties and outrage. Nor can you effectively resist it with conventional conservative pieties, ones that do not address the crises that the alt-right is responding to

.. Richard Spencer is evil, but he is not stupid.

.. If elites believe that the core truth of our society is a system of interlocking and oppressive power structures based around immutable characteristics like race or sex or sexual orientation, then sooner rather than later, this will be reflected in our culture at large.

.. Conventional conservatism is doing nothing, or nothing effective, to resist this tyranny. Do you know who does stand up to it, unapologetically? The alt-right. Andrew Sullivan’s piece is not about the alt-right, but I see both him and Matthew Rose sounding a very similar alarm. Pay attention; this is serious.

.. You too, conventional liberals: your own acceptance and promotion of illiberal, racialist ideology under the guise of “social justice” is calling up these demons on the Right. The best way you can fight the alt-right is to fight the SJWs, whose militancy, and whose effective militancy, can only make the alt-right stronger.

Richard Rohr: Sermon on Mount: Description of a Free Life

 For ancient people, salt was an important preservative, seasoning, and symbol of healing. What does Jesus mean by such an image?

First, he’s not saying that those who live this way are going to heaven. He is saying that they will be gift for the earth. We think of Jesus’ teaching as prescriptions for getting to heaven (even though we haven’t followed them). Instead, the Sermon on the Mount is a set of descriptions of a free life.

Jesus’ moral teaching is very often a description of the final product rather than a detailed process for getting there. When you can weep, when you can identify with the little ones, when you can make peace, when you can be persecuted and still be joyful . . . then you’re doing it right. He is saying, as it were, this is what holiness looks like. When you act this way, “The Kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:21). Jesus doesn’t seem to be concerned about control, enforcement, or uniformity.

.. If Christians—Jesus’ self-proclaimed followers—no longer believe the Gospel, if we no longer believe in nonviolence and powerlessness, then who’s going to convert us? We’re supposed to be the leaven of the world, yet if we no longer believe in the Gospel, what hope do we have of offering anything new to anyone?

.. “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better” is one of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s core principles.

Power’s Role In Sexual Harassment

Psychologists say high-powered men accused of abusing women have different motivations but often share some personality traits

A series of sexual-harassment accusations against well-known business leaders, celebrities and politicians has left people wondering why some successful men behave this way.

In many cases, power seems to play a role. Certainly, the majority of influential men treat women appropriately. But what is going on from a psychological standpoint with the ones who don’t? Research shows they have different motivations yet typically share specific personality traits. Their power amplifies proclivities they already have.

.. Power can be isolating. Psychologists say that people in power sometimes feel removed from others, as if they aren’t subject to the same rules.

..  “Powerful people often surround themselves with people who enable them and who won’t challenge them,”
.. power can create opportunities for men to mistreat women. However, those who choose to exploit such opportunities are sometimes men who felt powerless in the past and then suddenly received an increase in power.
.. Power also can make people feel less inhibited
.. “There are parallels to alcohol,” she says. “Both make you less constrained by social norms.”
.. For many people this is positive. People who are compassionate before they have power, for example, tend to be more compassionate afterwards, the research shows. They’re the good bosses.
.. those who harass or assault women often have a combination of two distinct sets of personality characteristics
.. Psychologists call these “hostile masculinity” and “impersonal sexuality.”
.. Men with “hostile masculinity” find power over women to be a sexual turn-on. They feel anger at being rejected by a woman. This is something that researchers believe probably happened to them a lot when they were young. They justify their aggression and are often narcissists... Men with “impersonal sexuality” prefer sex without intimacy or a close connection, which often leads them to seek promiscuous sex or multiple partners.

.. Men who harass or assault women also tend to have sexist attitudes, such as an opposition to gender equality or a favoring of traditional roles for women

.. “It’s not automatic; it’s not that power corrupts,” says UCLA’s Dr. Malamuth. “It’s a certain type of man who uses his power in this way.”

.. men who are aggressive toward women are more likely to look for or create a situation where women are more vulnerable. So it’s no coincidence that they are the ones who seek out power—especially over young, beautiful women, who were the ones who tended to reject them when they were young.

.. “The bad behavior is a defense against being powerless,”

The G.O.P.’s Bonfire of the Sanities

cloudwatch

Or, for that matter, the very idea that the F.B.I. is dedicated to destroying the Trump presidency. Recall this is the same bureau that, wittingly or not, probably did more than any other arm of government to create the Trump presidency in the first place, in part because disgruntled F.B.I. field agents were intent on forcing James Comey to reopen the Clinton email investigation 11 days before the election.

.. None of this would have surprised Hofstadter, whose essay traces the history of American paranoia from the Bavarian Illuminati and the Masons to New Dealers and Communists in the State Department. “I call it the paranoid style,” Hofstadter wrote, “simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.” What better way to describe a Republican Party that thinks America has more to fear from a third-tier F.B.I. agent in Washington who doesn’t like the president than it does from a first-tier K.G.B. agent in Moscow who, for a time at least, liked the president all too well?

.. The paranoid style, he noted, was typically a function of powerlessness. “Having no access to political bargaining or the making of decisions, they find their original conception that the world of power is sinister and malicious fully confirmed.”

.. Today, Republicans control every branch of government, and nearly every aspect of the Russia investigation. Robert Mueller, a Republican, was appointed special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, another Republican, and a Trump appointee. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, supposedly accuses the F.B.I. of anti-Trump perfidies in a secret four-page memo, but he won’t share the memo with the director of the F.B.I. — who’s also a Trump appointee.

.. The principal lesson of paranoia is the ease with which politically aroused people can mistake errors for deceptions, coincidences for patterns, bumbling for dereliction, and secrecy for treachery.

.. The failure to know the difference, combined with the desire for a particular result, is what accounts for the paranoid style.

.. America already has one party that’s lost its mind. We don’t need another.

If you voted for Trump because he’s ‘anti-establishment,’ guess what: You got conned

The greatest trick Donald Trump pulled was convincing voters he’d be “anti-establishment.”

.. But the idea that he would do this was based on a profound misunderstanding of what the establishment actually is, and who Donald Trump is.

.. An organizational chart of Trump’s transition team shows it to be crawling with corporate lobbyists, representing such clients as Altria, Visa, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Verizon, HSBC, Pfizer, Dow Chemical, and Duke Energy. And K Street is positively salivating over all the new opportunities they’ll have to deliver goodies to their clients in the Trump era. Who could possibly have predicted such a thing?

The answer is, anyone who was paying attention.

.. No, their commitment is to be of service to that most oppressed and forgotten group of Americans, the wealthy. Trump’s tax plan would give 47 percent of its benefits to the richest one percent of taxpayers. Paul Ryan’s tax plan is even purer — it gives 76 percent of its cuts to the richest one percent in its first year, and by 2025 would feed 99.6 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent.

.. Once that’s accomplished, Trump and the Republicans plan to either gut or completely repeal the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, the greatest wish of Wall Street bankers. Can you feel the anti-establishment wind blowing?

.. So what’s going on here? Most plainly, the voters thinking that Trump would vanquish the establishment were just marks for a con, like those who lost their life savings at Trump University. But

.. By now we should understand that while Trump is an ignorant buffoon in some ways and an outright moron in others, he’s also a savant of hatred and resentment. He not only identifies the ugliest feelings that portions of the electorate have — that’s the easy part, and all of his primary opponents knew equally well what those feelings were — he finds just the right way to reach in and goose them. And he grasped that people were ready to sign on with an attack on all sectors of established power, in Washington or anywhere else.

.. What Trump tapped into was their sense of powerlessness, that unseen forces are pulling the strings and manipulating “the system” for their own benefit. That “system” encompasses everything from politics to the economy to their local schools to culture. The system made that factory leave town. The system lets immigrants come in and speak a language other than English. Everywhere you look you’re being held down by the system.

So when Trump complained that anything that didn’t go his way meant the system was “rigged” against him, they nodded in agreement and said, “Yep, it’s rigged against me, too.”

.. He’s reckless, impulsive, vindictive, hateful, and authoritarian, and his presidency is going to be somewhere between disastrous and cataclysmic, likely in ways we can’t even imagine yet.