Saturday, April 19, 2014

J. S. Bach Suite in C Minor

James Buswell Viola

Holy Saturday Afternoon

Holy Saturday afternoon, most dismal of the calendar.
Just waiting in the paraffin air. 

There is a place where wild oats grow,

The stone wall that goes up hill.
Dull flowers, more winter, not spring,
Olive, nodding lilies made for a waiting day.

Sighting up the line to where you’re buried.
Up the hill, where the stone wall didn't reach
In the plot of cousins
Who gave you room, finally,
The shame of death with the shame of life, notwithstanding,
By quick subtraction, going on twenty-seven years. 

A young death, for me,
You bastard son of a hard family.
Too far gone to shake any more heads.

Tall, strong, day laborer.
Strong, like your hard-assed brother
You should have lasted a drunk till now. 
He has.
But drunk to death, even so.
Not even the romance of a car crash
To bury you by. 

You weren't hard,
I remember. 
Seven, or maybe six, in town, after school,
Falling in the street, cut my knee,
Afraid of visible tears and shame.
Suddenly, was stood on my feet.
“You ‘ll right kid?” 
Never heard you again. 

But eyes, blue and red,
Your face too old for its age.
The smell of liquor and cigarettes. 
Scared me sober.
In your gaze,
The first time I ever saw
The ground of everything.
Your hand tight on my arm.
No more than a second, you held me up,
A drunk, I’d heard,
No more than another before you went on
To drink the rest,
But two were enough
To draw me up the hill,
Twice as old as you, now.
To hope for, but never to stand you up.

One of My Biggest Pet Peeves

I love to argue.  That could hardly be news to people who have read anything I write.  I had some training in formal debate and could, I suppose, do it if I had to but what I really like is informal argument that is unstructured.  But I am familiar with the more common terms for the various types of fallacious tactics in argument and what those mean and I try to avoid being guilty of them.

But there's all the world of a difference between knowing how to say a word and knowing what it means.  The typical use of terms such as "ad hominem" "straw man" and the more recently asserted ones, "cherry picking" etc. online proves that a lot of people learned the words but they don't know what they mean. They also can't apply them to arguments made against their position by other people, never mind the far more important, far more difficult and less gratifying use of those tests of ideas, applying them to what they want to be true.

The most frequently encountered sloppy use of those terms is by online atheists, the kind of people who learned everything they know about them from reading Carl Sagan or some other atheist ninja in their own minds.  Only the terms, as used by them have all been conglomerated into synonyms to mean "I don't like that". Here's a good example of a callow young atheist making an accusation of "ad hominem" and a good explanation by one of the more accomplished of recent debaters as to why he doesn't have the first idea of what he's talking about.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Blind Willie Johnson Dark Was The Night Cold Was The Ground

Sophia Gubaidulina St. John Passion

"This is a religious work but not a church work"   Sophia Gubaidulina

Sophia Gubaidulina is one of the greatest of living composers, this is a masterpiece.

Good Friday

My friend, RMJ, has made an in-depth commentary on my posts yesterday which is better than what I've come up with for today.   I'll keep working on a post but his is really a lot better.  Please read it.

Tomas Luis de Victoria Tenebrae Factae Sunt

The Sixteen
Harry Christophers director

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Paul Mealor Ubi Caritas et Amor, Deus Ibi Est

Cape Town Youth Choir  
Conductor: Leon Starker

I'm not sure if this was written in the context of the Holy Thursday Washing of the Feet but this is the antiphon that is sung during it. 

Here's the Gregorian chant. 

Choeur Gregorien de Paris.

What Materialism Robs From The Left

Listening to the second of the videos below, of James Cone's magnificent sermon, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, he says exactly what I've managed to miss saying in so many of my posts.  He explicitly says why it is is that a de-religionized left fails, what materialism steals from the left, the very power that makes change possible in even a hopeless situation.

What I'm talking about is love,  it's not something you can prove empirically or articulate adequately but the truth of it is self-evident in living it. 

I have seen the transforming power of this faith in the cross among many black Christians who struggle especially among the black freedom fighters in the civil rights movement.  Many knew that they were going to be beaten and tortured and possibly even killed. They knew that they were not going to win the obvious way of winning.  But they had to do what they did because the transcendent reality encountered in their fight for justice was more powerful than their opposition,  more meaningful than that which contradicted it. 

People respond to what empowers them inside.  That spirit that lets them know that they are somebody when the world treats them as nobody. When you can act out of that spirit then you know there is a reality in this world bigger than you.  And that is what black religion bears witness to, in all of its flaws,  it bears witness to a spiritual resource that empowers marginalized people to do things that seem impossible 

That is certainly a key, perhaps the key to why the left has failed, continually, why the gains of the Civil Rights movement have been endangered and destroyed in the period since religion has been largely driven out of the left, or at least the white left.   Nothing will happen until we learn that lesson again, until we believe what our eyes saw happen in the successes of the Civil Rights movement until we make the willing choice to believe that our own experience of human history is more to be believed than empty abstractions that don't even deal with that experience.

Good Tidings To Those Who Are Cast Down: The Cross And The Lynching Tree

I'd forgotten that Holy Thursday is when a lot of diosces hold the Chrism Mass, when the oils and chrisms are blessed.   They also read Isaiah 61.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to preach good tidings unto those who are cast down; to bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those that are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn....

Which reminded me of James Cone on The Cross and the Lynching Tree.  

The black liberation theologians are so much more intellectually impressive than the "Brights".

Because an Online Atheist Claimed That Martin Bormann Was A Christian

Having found, over and over again that the atheist conception of history and historical figures encountered online is anything from fanciful to false, ludicrously fictitious to full and damnable lies, I've, from time to time, tried to present a corrected record.  Well, last night, after claiming that Galileo was executed for believing in a heliocentric universe, one of them told a really damnable lie, that the infamously anti-religious Martin Bormann was a Catholic.   And for that I will point out, before presenting him, in his own words, what I said last night, that his anti-religious rants would fit right in on many atheist dominated comment threads today.

Here, as quoted in The Third Reich Source Book by Anson Rainbach, Sander L. Gilman  University of California Press 2013 pg. 440-441, (any typos are mine).

Confidential memorandum circulated on 6 June 1941.  First published in The Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 14 November 1954 - 1 October 1946, document 075-D, XXXV (Nuremberg, 1947-49), 7-13.

National Socialist and Christian concepts are irreconcilable.  The Christian churches build upon man's ignorance and endeavor to keep the greatest possible number of people in a state of ignorance.  For it is only in this fashion that the churches can maintain their power.  National Socialism, on the other hand, rests on scientific foundations.  Christianity has certain unalterable principles, established nearly two thousand years ago, which have petrified into a system of dogma that is even further removed from reality.  National Socialism, on the other hand, if it is to fulfill its purpose, must forever be brought in harmony with the latest results of scientific inquiry.

The Christian churches have always recognized the dangers that threaten their existence from the exact discoveries of science.   They have therefore tried to suppress or falsify scientific research using fraudulent science, i.e., theology, and dogma.  Our National Socialist concept of the world is on a far higher plane than than are the ideas of Christianity, whose essential points have been taken over from the Jews.   For that reason, too, we have no need for Christianity.  [...]

When we National Socialists speak of a belief in God, we do not mean the same thing as naive Christians and their clerical exploiters have in mind -- some anthropoid creature sitting around somewhere in the spheres.  Instead, our intent is to open people's eyes to the fact that, aside from this small planet earth, which is relatively insignificant with relation to the vast universe, there is an unimaginably great number of other celestial bodies in the universe, an infinite number of bodies surrounded as is the sun by planets and, like these planets, in turn, similarly surrounded by smaller bodies, moons.  The power of nature's law that propels these infinite bodies through the universe is what we call the omnipotent force, or God.  The claim that this universal force could somehow care for the fate of each individual, of each bacillus here on earth, that it might be influenced by so-called prayers or other astounding things, rests to a great degree on the naivete or on profit-minded impertinence. 

We National Socialists, on the other hand, demand of ourselves that we live as naturally as possible -- that is to say, in accord with the natural laws of life.  The more precisely we understand and observe the laws of nature and of life and the more closely we adhere to them, the more we correspond to the will of that omnipotent force.  The more we understand that will, the greater our successes shall be. 

The logical conclusion that flows from this basic incompatibility between National Socialist and Christian views is that we must reject any increase in existing support for and any sponsorship of emerging Christian denominations.  For this reason, we have definitively abandoned the idea of establishing an Evangelical Lutheran Reich Church formed from a conglomeration of the various denominations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church because the Protestant Church is as hostile to us as the Catholic Church.  offering any form of support to the Protestant Church would ultimately work against us. [...]

For the first time in German history, the leadership of the nation rests consciously and completely in the hands of the Fuhrer himself.  In creating the party, its organizations, and subsidiaries, the Fuhrer has devised an instrument for himself and thus for the whole of the German national leadership that renders him independent of the church.  All influences that might impair or even harm the leadership exercised by the Fuhrer and the aid of the National Socialist Party must be eliminated.  More and more, the people must be wrested from the clutches of the churches and their ministries.  It is obvious from their point of view that the churches shall and must resist this loss of power.  But never again are the churches to receive any measure of influence over the leadership of the nation.  That influence must be broken, completely and forever.  

Only the nation's government -- and by its order, the party, its organizations and subsidiaries -- exercises the right of governance over the people and the nation.  Just as the harmful influences of astrologers, fortune-tellers, and other swindlers are being systematically eliminated and suppressed by the state, so too must the possibility of ecclesiastical influence be removed.  Only when that has occurred will the nation's leadership be able to exert complete control over the individual citizen.  Only then will Volk and Reich be secure in their existence for all future times. 

Update:  Here's the original, in German, beginning on page 9.

I am tempted to find statements by atheist heroes today for comparison, though I would imagine most people who had read a lot of them and, even more, their anonymous fans online, would find what Hitler's second in command said sounds very familiar.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Heinrich Schütz Matthäus-Passion


I might be wrong but I think Schutz's settings of the passions might contain the longest passages of sacred monophony since Dufay was commissioned to write an extensive body of chant about two hundred years earlier.   Off hand, I can't think of another example in between them or, in fact, afterward.  Its place was taken by recitative with an instrumental accompaniment in later settings.

Finland Puts Gay Porn Artist Who Eroticized Nazism and Rape On Stamps

When I heard about the Finnish Postal Service's decision to put Tom of Finland's images on stamps I thought it must be some straight people stupidly thinking they were doing something deliciously bold and transgressive.   And apparently that's how it is being presented.  Here's how the Guardian puts it.

The Finnish postal service's decision to use the artist's bold images on a new set of stamps will make philatelic history, but he's not the first gay hero to grace an envelope.

Make no mistake about this, an artist who presented thinly veiled images of Nazis and fascists as erotic heroes, of gay rape as an erotic image is not a "gay hero". Tom of Finland and his drawings are an emblem of internalized hatred by the victims of that hatred.   For country with Finland's recent history to put him on stamps could only mean that the generation for which the Nazi period, the period of Stalin and Hitler and Mussolini, has ceased to have any formative influence on its public life.   How quickly those hardest of hard lessons are forgotten by the class with enough education and professional attainment to be making the decision of what to put on stamps is extremely disturbing.   Or maybe it's just straight people in the artsy crowd wanting to do something that will impress others in their crowd as being kewl.

Well, I'm not impressed at its kewlness, I'm disgusted.  I don't want those images to be how straight people think of gay men, I certainly don't want gay men to think of ourselves in those term.   Fascism, Nazism, rape, bondage are not what we deserve, we deserve entirely more than that.  We deserve more than being sex objects to each other and certainly more than objects to abuse and discard.   We deserve love and love is incompatible with what Tom of Finland presented as what gay men were all about.   Putting Tom of Finland on stamps is a perpetuation of the hatred of gay men, only by other means that are far more insidious than legal discrimination and oppression.   Once they have gotten gay men to oppress themselves, they've perfected a mechanism of oppression that will be far, far harder to defeat.  When we do it to ourselves and each other, they can say that it's our choice.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

J. S. Bach Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpichord #3 in G minor

Jordi Savall  Viola da Gamba

Ton Koopman  Harpsichord


Why Religion Is Essential For The Left: Reading Scripture Deeply Instead of Just Watching the Movie

It was my intention to post before Passover about this discussion between Krista Tippett and Avivah Zornberg about Zornberg's fascinating reading of the story of the Jews in Egypt and their liberation from the book of Exodus.  I began going over all the interesting points Zornberg made about small details of the text that I'd just passed over to get to the action parts of the story.   That's the typical, superficial, way that scriptures are read.  Which is responsible for both the kind of superficial Biblical fundamentalism that so frequently misses the point entirely, the moral meaning of the text, the more profound implications of the relationship of people, each other and God.   Which increasingly unsurprisingly ALSO leads to the atheist fundamentalist conception of the scriptures and religion.   Those two fundamentalisms are joined at the .... well, "hip" by their superficial and naive conceptions of religion.   Here's a passage that points that out perfectly.

Ms. Tippett: I wonder when you see a movie version of the sea parting. The Israelites coming out triumphant. And maybe you’ve just answered this question too but what is missing for you in that great climactic moment which does result in the freedom of the Israelites. What is missing for you in a kind of simple portrayal of that?

Dr. Zornberg: Well, I think, again, it's the question of The Particulars of Rapture. In other words, I'm always looking for the particulars.

Ms. Tippett: Yeah. "The Particulars of Rapture" is the title that you gave to your book about Exodus, so I wanted to ask you what you meant by that title. So, good.

Dr. Zornberg: All right, so we'll try to touch on both. It seems to me that it's a kind of storybook story, that Cecil B. DeMille story, in which there are the bad guys and the good guys, and the bad guys get it. You know, they get their comeuppance, and the good guys rejoice. And, somehow, it doesn't seem to me to be, that’s not a story for adults. What you find in the midrashic versions, many multiple narratives, is an emphasis on the complexity of the Israelite experience and the fact that, immediately they land on the other side, they begin to complain and sin, essentially to doubt the whole story of redemption. In other words, nothing is absolute. And the fact that the Israelites are witnessing the deaths of the Egyptians, that is something, according to a very famous and beautiful midrash, that means that the angels in heaven are not allowed to sing a song of praise. God stops them singing, because 'the creatures of My hand, the work of My hands, are dying in the sea. How can you be singing a song of praise?'

Ms. Tippett: And God is speaking of the Egyptians.

Dr. Zornberg: He's speaking of the Egyptians, at least in certain versions of the midrash. In other versions, He's speaking of the Israelites, who are also on the edge. So there is a sense here of the pathos of the human condition. And the Israelites are very aware of that. Their song and their dance — the women play a special role, again, in this story; they sing separately — has to do with the kind of faith that is required to live in a condition in which rapture doesn't usually come unalloyed. It comes with a sadness and a tension involved in it. So "The Particulars of Rapture," that wonderful line from a poem by Wallace Stevens, I had in mind the subtleties and the complexities of all the many stories, like the stories that are hidden within the apparent grand narrative.

There is the grand narrative which can be told very simply, and you could say it's a kind of children's story, and then there are all the details, which really make the experience, even the details that one isn't totally aware of oneself and which emerge sometimes only on retelling.

Since I have little time today and I really would like you to listen to the podcast or read the transcript,  here's something relevant to yesterday's post, pointing out the importance of  exactly this story of God liberating an enslaved People, how God did that in human terms, through imperfect, difficult and unwilling human agency with all of the messy complications involved.  In short, it is a story that gives the real why and how of abolitionism and why this story has been so important, not to free people living in American style middle-class comfort, self-satisfied and contented, but to people living in slavery more crushing and oppressive than the typical readers of Alternet or going to a mega-church can conceive of.   I will go so far as to say that I'm skeptical of any struggle against slavery and oppression that doesn't learn the same things that this story tells.

Ms. Tippett: The great theme of the Exodus — and this story has been used by other people in other situations also. African-Americans, slaves were very inspired, and in the civil rights movement, were very inspired by this Exodus story. There's liberation theology. It's been empowering for all kinds of people in all kinds of bondage. But tell me, when you think about the theme of human freedom, human liberation. I mean, what are the layers of the message that this narrative tells about that experience?

Dr. Zornberg: Well, I think one of the important issues is one we've touched on, and that is the need for those who have to be liberated to achieve in themselves some sense of the possibility of change. I think there comes a situation in totalitarian regimes of all kinds in which there is what Vaclav Havel, the Czech leader, calls in one of his books  a kind of automatism, in which everyone somewhere becomes the system. People don't just accept their role, they almost become that role. There are no choices involved anymore. Nadezhda Mandelstam writes about the Russian situation under communism also as one in which no one believed that there could possibly be any change, nothing would ever change again. And this is not only those who are imposing the regime, but also those who suffered under it. So it seems to me that the story of the Exodus is one in which, in a quieter way, but I think in a very real way, one of the most important themes for liberation is the need for a process of growth within the persecuted if they are to have a history.

Notice how Zornberg finds in the hardships of the story during and after the escape from bondage how, in order to truly be free, to be a free People, there had to be the most profound transformation of The People, merely being dis-enslaved wasn't enough to become free, that was what the decades of wandering were about.  I think that we in the American left could learn a lot about why our own choices as much as the backlash of our opponents have kept us from coalescing into a governing coalition.  This program provides a lot to think about as to why religion can't be divorced from public discourse and the political struggle for justice.  We got the very concepts we struggle for from the Jewish scriptures and tradition, they present an enormous range of human experience with those ideas and the difficulty of making them manifest and real in human history.  To pretend that the history of the abolition movement, the civil rights movement, the labor movement and, yes, the feminist movement, is to abandon what has worked for what has not worked.  If there is something that is obvious, the alternatives, the show biz spectacles and ego feeding spectacles of fundamentalism and the vapid and nihilistic materialism of the intellectual variety have never worked.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jacques Pellen & Gildas.Boclé Maen Kuzh

Maen Kuzh

Jacques Pellen, guitar
Gildas Boclé, bass

Gildas Boclé has become one of my favorite bass players, few bow the instrument as well as he does.  Looking for his recordings has led to finding out about a lot of other fine musicians he plays with. His exploration of the large range of Celtic music, from continental Celtic cultures to Ireland is miles above most of the stuff that is passed off for that genre.

What Would Sojourner Truth Say if Amanda Marcotte Told Her To Shut Up About Her Religious Motivation?

Through RMJ I read that the anti-religious bigot, Amanda Marcotte, has demanded that Jimmy Carter should put a muzzle on himself, not talking about his religious beliefs and how it informs his advocacy for freedom and equality. Instead, she says, he should follow the "secular world in putting the real-world evidence first and seeing where it leads them."    As one of the comments at his blog notes,  Marcotte's piece was first posted on Alternet, one of the major forums of anti-religious bigotry on the pseudo-left.

Having, from time to time, stumbled across the  still hot and ongoing ranting at and denunciation by their fellow "secularists" of  Rebecca Watson* I'm not sure that's a valid claim.  The wake of "elevatorgate" and the tsunami of atheist sexism it unleashed (even from some rather elegant atheists such as Richard Dawkins) doesn't lead naturally to the belief that "secularism" - and when Marcotte says it, the term means, in fact atheism - is a sexism free zone.

But that's a problem for the atheists to figure out for themselves, for us it can serve as a test for any claim that they've gotten shut of sexism, which they obviously haven't.

It might be just a coincidence but I've been getting more orders from atheists to keep religion out of public discourse in the past few months and there seem to be more of them who seem to believe that there is some kind of constitutional ban on people talking about their religion in public and in politics.

Well, there is no such ban on private citizens and residents supporting their stands for equality, racial, gender, and sexual, with religious arguments.

 I am happy to report to you that Amanda Marcotte and the other censorious atheists are not the boss of us.

That Marcotte doesn't like that is her problem and only a problem for the wider left if we are stupid enough to gratify her bigotry.  There is every reason to believe that, in light of atheism NOT having evidenced their way out of massive sexism, anyone who had looked at the largely boys-club identity of previous iterations of organized atheism that they would not have given it up**.   And, despite an active propaganda effort to turn feminism into an atheist campaign, it was, in fact, informed from the start by the biblical demand for equal justice and respect***.   I wonder what Sojourner Truth would say to Marcotte's demand that she shut up about her religious motivations in both her abolitionism and her feminism.   If it were possible to poll women on this issue I wonder what their response would be to that command.

Religion was one of the major forces behind the social movements of the 19th century that all of our current liberal politics rests on.  Liberalism, itself, is based on metaphysical assertions that, ultimately, find their only secure basis in religious belief.

It would be the stupidest possible thing for religious liberals to give into the tantrums of atheists that they censor their strongest and most effective motive in working and struggling for change.   It's not as if the atheists have done better than the religious left has in stifling sexism within organized atheism.  The fact is that religious liberals have done entirely better at that.

* For those who aren't aware, the pseudo-skeptic and anti-religious bigot, Rebecca Watson set off an earthquake with her rather tepid suggestion at the 2011 World Atheist Convention to male atheists that women really might not welcome having a man come onto them, alone, in an elevator in a strange city in the very early hours of the morning.   You can investigate the incident by searching either Watson's name and "elevatorgate" you'll find plenty of what I'm talking about.  Especially on YouTube, where you don't have to be able to type to rant.   Here's one of the less offensive accounts that is critical of Watson, note that it quotes Marcotte as being aware of the controversy and that it exposed the old-line sexism that would seem to saturate organized atheism as much as it does many other groups, religious and secular.   Though I can tell you that the kind of talk that issues from her fellow atheists would never be tolerated by religious liberals in their sphere of activity.  You can read more in the first thing I ever read about it here.  I won't link to the massively sexist, and offensively vulgar rants against Watson and her allies that are still being posted.

**  George Hansen, in his sociological study of what for all intents and purposes is the direct predecessor of today's organized atheism, CSICOP,  noted the rowdy boy-club nature of it:

Such perceptions are not limited to outsiders. This has been an issue within CSICOP as well. In the March 1985 newsletter of the Bay Area Skeptics, Mary Coulman (1985) wrote a piece titled “Where Are the Women?” She reported that sometimes she was the only woman who attended meetings of the Bay Area Skeptics and that often there were only 2 or 3 women present with 60 to 70 men. Coulman wrote another column in the June issue asking the same question, noting that no women had yet replied. Finally, months later, Elissa Pratt-Lowe (1985) responded:

I think another aspect of organized skepticism that may deter women is the aggressive, “macho” attitudes held by some of the (male) participants. It seems to me that some “skeptics” are more interested in ridicule than in exploring and challenging pseudoscientific beliefs. [This was followed by “Very true, I think-MC”]. (p. 7)

    The Bay Area Skeptics are not the only ones to confront the problem. In response to an article by physicist George Lawrence in Rocky Mountain Skeptic, John Wilder (1988) wrote: “For all of the author’s [Lawrence’s] scientific, academic and intellectual credentials, he displays a level of disrespect for others that, in my opinion, is completely inappropriate. . . . The author succeeded only in subjecting a group of sincere . . . people to outright ridicule” (p. 8). 

Though later he pointed out that there were other predominately male groups that didn't have the same character.

The problems caused by cynicism and hostility have been recognized by the organization, and steps are being taken to diminish them. The severity of the problem cannot be attributed entirely to male dominance; after all, a number of other predominantly male organizations do not have such a reputation. It is likely that there are a number of other factors that contribute to the perceived demeanor.

Given the character of many women in the neo-atheist, pseudo-skeptical movement,  including Marcotte and Watson, they share the same derisive, demeaning, bigoted habits of discourse that is easily turned against women as well as against even religious liberals who have the most impeccable feminist credentials.

*** Perhaps more on that in a later post.  The history of religious motivation of feminism would seem to be traceable to the 17th century, arguably back into the middle ages.  Given the alternatives, it isn't be surprising that a lot of women found that convents allowed them far more freedom than secular life did.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Eric Le Lann : trumpet
Nelson Veras : guitar
Gildas Boclé : bass


The Song Is For You

Ashamed to Admit The Numbers of People Murdered for Being Christians Comes As a Shock to Me

You have, doubtless, heard the bright young things on the blogs snarking about the persecution of Christians, mocking the idea that Christians are being persecuted, basing their confident assertions on their experience of sitting on their bottoms while on North America.   The brighter of the young things will regret that there are no lions to throw "Xians" to.   Which is as witty as it generally gets with the bright young things these days.

Well, shocking as it may be,  it turns out their experience of affluent America and Canada doesn't prepare them to know what things are like in the entire world where there are quite a number of Christians murdered for being Christians.  John Allen jr's column today begins by noting one of them.

Dutch Jesuit priest Frans van der Lugt, killed in Syria last week just shy of his 76th birthday, personified the best of the missionary spirit in Catholicism. He spent 50 years in his adopted country, humbly serving poor and disabled persons regardless of their race or religion.

Whenever a Syrian came to his door seeking help, van der Lugt told a friend, “I don’t see Muslims or Christians, only human beings.”

At the time of his death, van der Lugt was the last Westerner in the bitterly contested city of Homs. On Monday morning, a still-unidentified assailant dragged him into the street outside his Jesuit residence, beat him, and then shot him twice in the head.
Most observers believe the killer was an Islamic radical, though a few suspect the Assad regime may have orchestrated the murder in order to blame the rebels.

For the last several years, van der Lugt served at a small center for mentally and physically disabled people. A Muslim charity would give him around nine pounds of flour every week, which he turned into bread, giving half a loaf to the 30 neediest people he knew.

“I try to help the mentally ill,” van der Lugt said in a recent interview, “not by analyzing their problems, as the problems are obvious and there’s no solution for them here. I listen to them and give as much food as I can.”

Just wondering but I wonder how many of the bright young things have spent fifty minutes engaged in something like that in any kind of danger.   And Fr. vand der Lugt wasn't the only one Allen mentioned by name.

Earlier this month, a 25-year-old Coptic Christian woman in Egypt named Mary Sameh George was hauled from her car near a church in Cairo, mauled to such an extent that portions of her scalp were torn off, and then killed when her throat was slit.

The assailants reportedly were supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Vietnam, a Catholic convert and human rights activist named Dinh Dang Dinh died April 4 of untreated stomach cancer in prison, having been jailed in 2012 for “antistate propaganda.”

In that context, van der Lugt’s death has to be seen as part of a dramatic, and often untold, religion story of the early 21st century — the global war on Christians.

Different source give different figures on how extensive the persecution and murder of Christians is but it is real, despite what the bubble people living here might believe on the basis of their entirely parochial experience.

Also, alarmist rhetoric about a “war on religion” in places such as the United States is sometimes stretched past the breaking point, applied not to actual violence and oppression but to policy debates about which reasonable people draw differing conclusions.

That said, the scope and scale of real anti-Christian violence around the world is nonetheless staggering.

In North Korea and Eritrea, tens of thousands of Christians languish in what amounts to concentration camps for religious prisoners. In Nigeria, Christians face a growing menace from the radical Boko Haram movement. In Iraq, a once-thriving Christian community that can trace its roots back to the early centuries of the faith has been decimated. In India, poor Christians who often belong to the “untouchables” in the old caste system are routinely harassed by radical Hindus, suffering a violent attack at a rate of once every other day.

The high-end estimate for the number of Christians killed for their faith each year is around 100,000, while the low end is a few hundred. That works out to somewhere between one new Christian martyr every hour, if the higher figure is to believed, and one every day.

Considering the war against religion that the United States financed during the Reagan administration,  remember Iran-Contra,  the denial that there are Christians who are murdered for following their religion by people old enough to remember that deserves a name.  Amerinesia, perhaps?  

Remember this the next time you read Amanda Marcotte or some other big name bigot on the blogs snarking about this subject.  The fashionable anti-Christianity of today's left isn't much different from the fashionable anti-Semitism among the bright young things earlier in the last century or the anti-Islamic fashion among those who the bright young things officially despise as gauche, unfashionable bigots.   Among the bright young things, it's necessary to hate the right people at the right time, though, they will turn on a dime, especially as concerns Muslims, these days.

Update:  I'm almost tempted to post the comments by exactly the bright young thing and one superannuated poseur BYT as examples of what I'm talking about but I doubt anyone who is actually reading this is going to have any trouble imagining what those say.