Metaphysical horror

Perhaps you have experienced this too. You encounter an idea about the way the universe is and recoil from it in pre-rational disgust. “How awful if the world were that way!” I think the first time I felt it was in high school, walking around the gym during lunch break, when I overheard another student claiming to his friend that the past does not really exist, but only in memory. This was my first encounter with presentism, a crude version of it perhaps, but its more elaborate versions still inspire the same instinctive reaction–“What an appalling thought!” My reaction to event ontology–which takes atomism to the extreme and makes events the sole reality, so that nothing ever really persists through time–was similar, as was my reaction to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

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Should you get your kids the COVID vaccine?

I have no ideological commitments either way. To me, this is simply a matter of comparing risks. The probability that a given child will suffer life-threatening side-effects from the vaccine are small; the probability of a given child catching COVID and becoming life-threateningly ill is also small. Neither is zero. We must estimate these probabilities so we can compare them. The following are copied from the notes I composed a couple of weeks ago when the Pfizer vaccine became available to children 5-11. (My children are 7 and 11.) I have not updated my numbers since then; I will do that when I revisit the issue in a couple of weeks. I have no relevant expertise, but have just gone with what I could learn from the CDC website and miscellaneous Google searches. You may consider, critique, or discard it as you like.

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WWII self-righteousness, still haunting us

Some people thought I was exaggerating about how hateful World War II propaganda is destroying Western civilization, but events have vindicated me. It is now establishment consensus that Texas cannot have a law forbidding schools from teaching race hatred, demonizing entire peoples, and pursuing propaganda rather than objectivity, because such restrictions might impede the teaching of hateful WWII propaganda. Of course, the proponents of this bill insist that hateful WWII propaganda would continue as always, but the Leftist establishment correctly see the general principle as a threat. Liberals pride themselves for their open-mindedness and appreciation for ambiguity, but must puzzle over the irony of having been born into a world where such a sensibility finds no application, for as liberals also constantly scream at us, “THERE ARE NO TWO SIDES!!!!!” to any issue whatsoever. School teachers must break the spirits of white children and teach them to hate themselves, or else it would mean that there are “two sides to the Holocaust”.

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Repost: The strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera

In spite of his crimes, I prayed over his remains and asked God to have mercy on him.  Why did God make a man as ugly as that?

I am sure, quite sure, that I prayed over his remains the other day when they were taken from the ground at the place where the phonograph records were being buried.  His corpse had been reduced to a skeleton.  I recognized him not by the ugliness of his head, for all men are ugly when they have been dead a long time, but by the gold ring he wore.  Christine Daae had undoubtedly come and slipped it onto his finger before burying him, as she had promised.

The skeleton lay near the little fountain, where the Angel of Music first held the unconscious Christine Daae in his trembling arms after taking her into the cellars of the Opera.

— Gaston Leroux, from The Phantom of the Opera

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Why are’t things getting worse faster?

Things are getting worse very quickly. However, the process remains piecemeal, one cancelation, one smashed statue, one formerly apolitical organization putting out a pro-sodomy, anti-white manifesto at a time. When the reactionary sees how comprehensively superior is the enemy’s power, he expects something far more sweeping. To take one of the less important issues, why bother with separate protests, investigations, and vandalism before removing each statue of a white person? Why not just remove them all at once? The Left has the power. To take the most important issue, given the essentially unopposed power of the Left, why should they not propagandize children much more aggressively than they do and outlaw any counter-propaganda from parents or Churches? What’s holding them back?

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A synod on synodality: will Catholics finally get the joke?

Few Catholics notice the absurd levels of self-referentiality in the thinking of our Vatican II-worshipping episcopal establishment; we’ve lived with it our whole lives. The Second Vatican Council is the salvation of the Church. The solution to all of our problems is to properly interpret the Second Vatican Council, to fully receive the Second Vatican Council, to let the Spirit of the Second Vatican Council fully permeate and transform all our ideas and practices. What was so great about Vatican II? It was collegial! All the bishops talking to each other! Scrapping their preparatory documents so they could write new documents! From scratch! And vote on them! That’s what the Holy Spirit looks like, right there: bishops writing documents, arguing over them, voting on them. And what did they write documents about? Lots of stuff, but most importantly about collegiality and how great it is for bishops to be talking to each other. Then they went back to their diocese to preach the good news about this great multiyear discussion they’d just had and how it changes everything.

But if bishops talking to each other is so great, why stop? The bishops should spend their whole time talking to each other! A synodal Church! And the laity should join in the discussion, because they’re even holier than bishops. Everything will be open for discussion, because you can’t put rules on the Holy Spirit, and what the Holy Spirit wants is bishops and maybe laypeople talking to each other. No one can predict ahead of time what will come out of these discussions, except that there will be documents, and they will be voted on, and they will be written in that weird mix of baby talk and phenomenological gobbledygook that seems to have replaced Latin as the Church’s official language. Also, we can be sure that the percentage of the Church’s energy and attention devoted to these discussions shall be a monotonically increasing number asymptoting toward 100.

Since the Second Vatican Council has (blasphemously) been compared to Pentecost, it’s worth remembering what didn’t happen at the original Pentecost.

Then Peter addressed the crowd and said, “You guys, you’re not going to believe this amazing meeting that the other Apostles and I just had! It was incredible! Let me tell you all about this fantastic meeting. You see, we were all hiding upstairs out of respect for our Elder Brothers in Faith, when the Holy Spirit descended upon us. At once we began to follow Robert’s Rules of Order, and we appointed subcommittees to draft documents. And, oh my God, what documents we wrote! There was this one–James wrote the first draft, I think–called Holding Hands and Walking Together: Being Church in an Age of Displaced Verticality. It was so pastoral, just dripping with compassion. And John wrote the first draft of Always Our Babies: Dialogue and Dialectic De-centering in the Sacred Space of the Other. Bartholomew did a bang-up job tweaking the grammar (although it’s still kind of hard to tell where one sentence ends and another begins), and then we started voting. Voting and revising, revising and voting.”

“Let me invite you to join us in our dialogue. For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a meeting, a meeting with no end and no bathroom breaks, and anyone who accepts baptism gets to take part in this meeting with full voting rights.”

Acts 2, 14-39

Alas, it would ill befit the dignity due to their office, but one does sometimes feel like grabbing one of these princes of the Church and screaming “No one cares about your stupid meetings!”

God is punishing us for what we did to Germany

In poetic justice, when we find a punishment fitting the crime with uncanny perfection, we are apt to sense the hand of Divine Providence. So it is with the ongoing destruction of America and her World War II allies. To be clear, while the evil of the Allies included physical atrocities–deliberate targeting of civilian populations, political terrorization, rape, and forced dislocation of defeated peoples–those things are, alas, unexceptional in human history. One could fairly point out that the Axis powers did things of this sort too. (I make no claim that because the Allies were flawed, the Axis were “the good guys”. “Good guys” and “bad guys” exist in comic books, not real history. But it is the moral corruption of the Allies, not that of the Axis, that has done the spiritual damage to the Allied countries.) I don’t judge the essence of a people’s character by what they will countenance when they think they’re in a life-and-death struggle. No, the distinctive evil of America and her allies is of a spiritual nature, and twofold.

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It is rational to selectively trust and distrust experts

One ideal of rationality, to which people used to appeal, is to refuse to accept anything on trust or authority, to evaluate any claim strictly on the supplied data and arguments. Only thusly can one practice the intellectual responsibility of science. Unfortunately, this is such an impractical ideal that even practicing scientists don’t live up to it. No one has the time, resources, and intelligence to verify all his beliefs; he must fall back on trust. More recently, a new ideal has emerged: the rational man practices perfect credulity and docility to credentialed experts. I have found two types of justifications for this.

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burden of faith

In his Accompanying Letter to Traditionis Custodes, Pope Francis makes the astounding claim

To doubt the Council is to doubt the intentions of those very Fathers who exercised their collegial power in a solemn manner cum Petro et sub Petro in an ecumenical council, and, in the final analysis, to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard before that Catholics are obliged as a matter of faith to credit the intentions of Council Fathers. Ordinary charity and the piety we owe our bishops demands we give them the benefit of doubt (although in any other context, I would be accused of “clericalism” for saying so), but to extend them unconditional trust on pain of “doubting the Holy Spirit” (presumably in this context meaning His efficacious guidance of the Church, rather than His existence)? This seems to be a new burden of faith, unimagined, I dare guess, by the Fathers of Vatican I.

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