State of the Culture: How long can the center hold?

By Jonathon Van Maren

The Democrats and the media have been triumphantly announcing President Trump’s dismal polling numbers of late, but their celebrations have come a bit soon. The media, which seems to have bounced back rather well from their utter failure during the 2016 election, is still distrusted by the majority of the public. And the Democrats, it turns out, have problems of their own—even if people are fed up with Trump, they don’t see the Democrats as an alternative at the moment. According to The Atlantic:

If Democrats want to regain the power they’ve lost at the state and federal level in recent years, they will have to convince more voters they can offer solutions to their problems.

That may be especially difficult, however, if voters think the party and its representatives in government don’t understand or care about them. And according to a recently released poll, many voters may, in fact, feel that way. The Washington Post-ABC News survey, released this week, found that a majority of the public thinks the Democratic Party is out of touch with the concerns of average Americans in the United States. More Americans think Democrats are out of touch than believe the same of the Republican Party or President Trump.

Unsurprisingly, Americans have been unimpressed with Trump’s bungling. But that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten why they threw the Democrats out of office right across the country, either.

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Ian Johnston recently published a fascinating essay describing the ongoing explosion of growth in the underground churches of Communist China. From The Atlantic:

China, the world’s rising superpower, is experiencing an explosion of faith. The decades of anti-religious campaigns that followed the 1949 communist takeover are giving way to a spiritual transformation—and among the fastest-growing drivers of that transformation are unregistered churches.

Once called “house” or “underground” churches because they were small clandestine affairs, these groups have become surprisingly well-organized, meeting very openly and often counting hundreds of congregants. They’ve helped the number of Protestants soar from about 1 million when the communists took power to at least 60 million today. Of these believers, about two-thirds are not affiliated with government churches. In other words, Protestants in non-government churches outnumber worshippers in government churches two to one.

Johnston’s essay describes the growth of a little Reformed church, one regularly visited by the police. The pastor, with the permission of the congregants, willingly provides the police with a list of attendees, telling Johnston that they have “nothing to hide. His essay reminded me of a 2006 book by David Aikman that I picked up recently, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity Is Transforming China And Changing the Global Balance of Power. The spread of Christianity in China’s middle class is something to watch.

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The Huffington Post upped the ante on controversial titles with the release of an interview featuring the question: “Are Baby Boomers A ‘Generation of Sociopaths?’” The short answer, according to Bruce Gibney’s new book A Generation of Sociopaths, is yes:

Long before millennials were dubbed the “Me Generation,” journalist Tom Wolfe used the label to describe the young baby boomers coming of age in the mid-1970s, a time of heightened focus on the self and personal development. 

“The new alchemical dream is: changing one’s personality — remaking, remodeling, elevating, and polishing one’s very self … and observing, studying, and doting on it,” Wolfe wrote in a 1976 New York magazine cover story

To the extent that millennials really are self-absorbed and narcissistic, it may be because they learned from the masters: their parents. Baby boomers ― the unusually large generation born during a wave after World War II ― grew up in a time of historic prosperity. In many ways, the world they’ll leave for their children couldn’t be more different from the one they knew as children.  

Boomers blew through resources, racked up debt, and brought an end to economic growth, using their enormous voting power to elect politicians who enacted policies that typically benefitted boomers’ interests, rather than future generations. Now, millennials face more debt, fewer resources and higher levels of unemployment than their parents, and are likely to see the fallout of runaway environmental destruction within their lifetimes. 

P.J. O’Rourke also worded it rather well in the title of his memoir from a few years ago: The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way…And It Wasn’t My Fault…And I’ll Never Do It Again.

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Canada’s Rex Murphy is a national treasure, something I am reminded of each time he releases a new column. One of his most recent offerings in the National Post, titled “If the eco-fanatics hate Justin Trudeau, imagine what they think of you,” is no exception:

Now, beyond the borders of rational opinion, out in the badlands of raw outrage and wild surmise, a distempered few offer bitterly dismissive terms on the subject of Trudeau. One of the volatile tribunes of Toronto’s Black Lives Matter movement, yearning for a cheap headline and clearly out of the reach of any plausible dictionary, called Trudeau “a white supremacist terrorist.”  

#WhiteSupremacistTerrorist might stand as a college application essay these days, but as a descriptor of Justin Trudeau, it’s a careless snippet from the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. In the yet to be uttered words of Naomi Klein: as a Logo, that’s a No-go…

 If this is what the Green cadres think of Justin Trudeau — who, regardless of one’s view of his stand or the issue, is a genuine and committed advocate for the global warming cause —  what, in the name of all that is green and growing, do they think of the rest of us?

[Bill} McKibben is sour and bitter and small. But both his manner and his message have this to offer: they tell us that in the wild and frantic circles of green mania you are either utterly on board with everything they think and say — a perfect zombie follower — or you are nothing at all. Green politics are fundamentalist in the dark meaning of that word. Either you believe and believe utterly or you are condemned to the outer darkness, where there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth. And they call this stuff “science.”

I look forward to a Murphy column on the joyless utterings of Bill Nye the alleged “Science Guy,” with his musing on penalizing people who have “extra kids.” Which always makes me wonder: Why do environmentalists worried about “extra” people always assume that it is other people who are extra, and never question their own carbon footprint? Those “extra” kids, I’d wager, probably spend a lot less time jetting about on enormous airplanes to warn other elites at air-conditioned conferences of the dangers of climate change while stretch limos idle outside.

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In good news, a judge has come to the defence of Blaine Adamson, the owner of a Kentucky print company, after he was approached by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization in 2012 to print shirts for a gay pride event. Citing his Christian beliefs, Adamson declined, but offered to connect GLSO with a company who would do it for the same price. Instead of accepting his offer, GLSO filed a complaint with a Human Rights Commission, which demanded that he cease his discriminatory business practices. After a lengthy court battle, Chief Judge Joy Kramer of the Kentucky Court of Appeals wrote in her May 12, 2017 majority opinion:

The right of free speech does not guarantee to any person the right to use someone else’s property…

In other words, the ‘service’ Hands On Originals offers is the promotion of messages…The ‘conduct’ Hands On Originals chose not to promote was pure speech. 

There is no contention that Hands On Originals is a public forum in addition to a public accommodation. Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits Hands On Originals, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship.

A fantastic precedent, and one we hope will continue.

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In the least shocking news of the century, Israeli researchers have discovered that men are in fact men, and that women are women. And in 2017, it is necessary to actually write sentences like that:

A new study by Israeli researchers found that a man cannot become a woman by simply “identifying” as one and vice versa. 

Geneticists from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science discovered certain genes that are only expressed in women, while others are only expressed in men. 

Professor Shmuel Pietrokovski and Dr. Moran Gershoni studied 20,000 genes, sorting them by sex, and searching for differences in expression in each tissue.

They eventually found around “6,500 genes with activity that was biased toward one sex or the other in at least one tissue, adding to the already major biological differences between men and women.”

Some of the biggest differences were in genes responsible for body hair, fat storage, muscle building, and milk production for breastfeeding. 

The researchers also found that biological sex also plays a role in preventing specific illnesses.  For example, some genes expressed only in the left ventricle of the heart in women work to protect their hearts from disease until the women reach menopause.  Another gene, in the liver, processes drugs differently according to the gender.

Essentially, their research means more than 21 percent of the entire human genome, which is composed of about 30,000 genes, are based on sex — something a sex change operation and hormones cannot replace. 

Does somebody wanna tell the transgender activists about this? And probably take a lawyer with you. Truth is bigoted these days.

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As people delay having children until much later, and bearing children becomes more difficult after poisoning healthy reproductive systems with the pill for a decade or so, the rise of reproductive technology is resulting in situations as bizarre as they are disturbing. From the National Post:

About five years ago, a fortysomething woman hoping to get pregnant with a new partner sought Toronto lawyer Sherry Levitan’s counsel about an unconventional family “collaboration.” Her own eggs having effectively expired, she intended to use fresher, younger eggs — donated by her adult daughter.

The eggs would be fertilized with the new partner’s sperm and the resulting embryos injected into the woman’s uterus, resulting, she hoped, in the birth of a baby — her genetic grandchild. The new child’s half-sister — the egg donor — would be its biological mother. Levitan doesn’t know whether the family ultimately went through with their elaborate procreative plans. “I was never informed otherwise,” said Levitan, an expert in third-party reproductive law.

But it’s just one example of “intrafamilial collaborative reproductive arrangements” — the sharing of eggs, sperm or wombs among first-degree relatives — occurring in fertility clinics in the U.S. and Canada.

The unorthodox, medically assisted conceptions allow intended parents to preserve a genetic link, a “kinship tie,” that would otherwise be lost using an unrelated egg or sperm donor, experts say.

However, such collaborations are also presenting prickly ethical dilemmas, according to a new and updated position statement from one of the world’s leading bodies of fertility specialists, including impressions of “apparent though not actual” incest, undue coercion, confused family dynamics and the “possible confused parentage” for the resulting child.

Some combinations should be rejected outright because they’re consanguineous — involving people descended from the same ancestor — or “simulate incestuous unions,” warns the guidance document produced by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s ethics committee.

Without a moral compass, of course, it’s getting hard to explain why incest is wrong at all these days—one German judge even pointed out that since abortion could take care of any unfortunate offspring, it was hard to see why incest should still be illegal.

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The slow-motion implosion of Western civilization continues, and populist uprisings indicate that people know something is wrong, they simply do not know what. The question remains: Can the centre hold long enough for people to realize that we abandoned the Judeo-Christian values that held everything together for centuries, or is the implosion irreversible?

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For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.

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