May 31, 2018

I Yam What I Read

Sometimes I think, a reduction absurdum, that we are products of the media we consume. Especially with regard to our opinions of leaders. I never ascribed this to myself exactly but now I do.

I think we see some of that with the almost uniform anti-pro life media in Ireland. I figured the whole vote was a hopeless cause, that Ireland is not walking but running towards Western nihilism, but the margin of the vote is sorely disappointing and surely part and parcel of propagandistic media there.  Or perhaps the most predictable thing in the world is that when they joined the European Union they would become, duh, European. And thus share the disease.

On my trip to Ireland in the late '90s I found the Irish more efficient than the adage “on Irish time” might suggest: service was speedy and in general there was, in hindsight, a keen appreciation for money - perhaps a warning sign of a lust to become interchangeable with the rest of Western decadents. Then came the “Celtic Tiger” economy and the sellout was complete.

But what’s the use of being Irish if the Irish can’t break your heart?


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To take two other controversial folks: Donald Trump and Pope Francis. 

My feelings on Trump were hardened early by a steady diet of National Review and Morning Joe. (Although in fairness to me, the thing that initially turned me against Trump was his birtherism, which pre-dates the negativity from National Review & MJ. ) But there’s no doubt that hearing only the case against Trump was an imbalance that I’ve since tried to rectify in very small doses, by reading parts of positive books about Trump. The plain fact is that I feel captured by the media to some extent. 

My millennial stepson seemed to get it right from the beginning: “Trump is a clown” he said right off, but a clown was preferable to the alternative (Shrillary). And he and I agree that Trump is right about unassimilated rates of illegal immigration as well as the need to push back against Western (and white) self-loathing.

On Pope Francis, I suppose I could use more positive reading on him. I need to read a pro-Pope book that covers the “dark period” of ‘15-‘17. He got off to a rock star start and his early encyclicals and letters sang. The inexplicable thicket he entered was seems not so much due to the vagueness on the question of Communion for the divorced and remarried, but the doubling down on it: the rigging the synod and then ignoring the Dubia. 

It’s not that some of the Holy Father’s stands are “liberal”, just as it wasn’t so much Bill Clinton’s liberalism was off-putting: in both it is the bending of rules and custom in order to get the desired outcome. One wishes for a papal Paul Wellstone or a Bernie Sanders. As Karl Keating said, Francis and Trump are alike in their desire for loyalty over skill, and their mutual high employee turnover rates.  Certainly this is in tune with the tribalism of our times, where loyalty seems to matter more than truth. 

I think this differentiates me from ye olde blogger of yore Steven R., who couldn’t stand Pope Benedict not because of his character but because of his beliefs, especially around the new Mass translation.

Trump got nominated because GOP primary voters had learned that “nice guys finish last” (i.e. McCain and Romney, two classy individuals). And Francis became pope in part because a “nice guy” (Benedict) didn’t have the strength and harshness necessary to rein in a corrupt curia.

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