The Anglican puzzle and the burying-place of Richard III

Is it wrong to bury the Catholic Richard III in a Protestant church? Maybe not.

Andrew Sullivan is annoyed that Richard III is to be buried in an Anglican church. After all, living before the Reformation, he must have been a Catholic; why bury him in a Protestant church?

Well, that’s one way to look at it. But it’s not the only way.

Institutionally, the Church of England maintained its continuity through the Henrician schism, the Edwardian reformation, the Marian counter-reformation, the Elizabethan counter-counter-reformation, and all the changes of doctrinal and disciplinary “line” to which the Vicar of Bray had to adapt himself. Justin Welby is – and the Archbishop of Westminster is not – the successor of Thomas Becket.

Of course Richard would not have allowed himself to be called Supreme Governor of the Church of England, but neither would he have allowed the Papacy to choose English bishops; that’s what the Statute of Provisors was designed to prevent.

The Church of England has always claimed to be the English branch of the one undivided Catholic Church. Sometimes that viewpoint has expressed itself in persecution. But it has also expressed itself in generosity. Thomas More, John Henry Newman, and George Fox are all venerated as Saints of the Church of England.

Whether Richard Plantagenet is buried in Leiscester Cathedral, York Minster, or Westminster Abbey, he will be buried in what he would have regarded as consecrated ground. That couldn’t be true were he buried in any Roman Catholic church in England.

The cost of contraception

Yes, contraception costs insurers money. Not providing it costs them more.

I think Kevin Drum – about the smartest blogger, or journalist of any description, now working – makes a mistake from time to time just to keep the rest of us on our toes. He’s right that the latest Administration plan to deal with contraceptive coverage under employer-paid health insurance is a kludge, and he’s right that, since money is fungible, sayingthat insurance companies have to spend some money other than the employers’ money to cover it is gibberish. (That’s supposed to insulate the employers from the moral onus of allowing reproductive freedom rather than imposing their dogma on their employees. I forget who it was who Tweeted the question, “Should health insurance provided by a Jehovah’s Witness employer cover blood transfusion?”)

But what Kevin misses is that offering health insurance with contraceptive coverage is not in fact more expensive than offering health insurance without it, because if the woman gets pregnant the insurer will have to pay for prenatal care and delivery. You can cover a lot of $50 contraceptive-pill prescriptions with the avoided $10,000 cost of a single uncomplicated delivery.

As to the plan itself: looks to me like a perfect non-solution to a non-problem.

Update Kevin points out a complexity I’d missed. Yes, total health care costs go down with contraception. But if enough women without coverage pay out-of-pocket for the Pill, the insurance company could still come out ahead by stiffing them (while covering Viagra, of course). That leaves a factual question: if a big employer goes to a health insurer and asks for a quote for employee coverage, is the quote actually lower if contraception is excluded?

Second update Kevin produces a reasonable-sounding BOTEC suggesting some net cost to insurers. Which means he still owes the rest of us one mistake.

Note to the President of The Atlantic Monthly

I don’t think Emerson was much concerned about his “brand.”

When you run a paid advertisement deliberately made up to look like editorial content (under the horrible euphemism “native advertising”) on behalf of a wealthy and powerful criminal conspiracy hiding behind a religious front – an organization that goes after critical journalists by, for example, poisoning their dogs – and in admitting the screw-up you say:

Our decision to pull the campaign should not be interpreted as passing judgment on the advertiser as an organization.

some folks are going to wind up regarding you as unclear on the concept.

The concept, in case you’re genuinely unclear rather than just having to run all your prose past Legal, is “evil.”

It might help clarify matters if you could just for a minute, forget about your goddamned “brand” and concentrate on the simple difference between right and wrong. Or stop quoting Emerson. Emerson, you might recall, was big on Truth, on self-reliance, on “trust thyself.” Branding, not so much.

h/t Jay Rosen, who offers a more thorough discussion.

Footnote Yes, tacitly censoring the comments to make it appear that the readers were taken in made it worse, but no, there was no version of this that could have made it OK. Lie down with dogs; get up with fleas.

Really hard jobs

Some jobs are challenging, and some are so hard it’s a wonder anyone can be found to take them on.  Ambassador from Pakistan to anywhere, for example.  At the moment, the US slot is held by Sherry Rehman, and representing her country in a positive way to anyone not clinically insane has just become even more daunting.  She needs all the help she can get, so I respectfully offer a draft of short remarks she might wish to make at her next official appearances:

My dear American friends,

As you know, Pakistan is officially a Moslem country.  This means we are committed to the authority and inerrant guidance of the prophet Mohammed, just as Christians adhere to Jesus and Jews to Abraham and Moses.  You also need to know that while many of other faiths trust their prophets’ teachings to stand on their own, indeed to gain strength through examination, we in Pakistan regard the lessons of Mohammed as being uniquely unpersuasive and unconvincing, liable to shatter on impact with the slightest challenge, debate, examination, or disrespect. The authority of our prophet is, in our view, so delicate that we search out and kill anyone who confronts our faith with doubt of any kind, and to be sure we err on the right side, we not only empower but oblige every citizen to set our police and courts on anyone he wishes slain.  What looks to unbelievers like savagery is actually a glorious enterprise that  fortifies our beliefs with a wall of corpses and a moat of blood.  As you are aware, I have been identified as a blasphemer by this process, and as there’s a good chance I will be put to death before I’m able to further explain the particularly holy and excellent nature of our judicial system and the rightness of our faith, I wanted to take this occasion to let Americans see why my government is implementing the best of our culture.  Thank you for your kind attention and for the chance to further build understanding and trust between our great nations. Allahu Akbar.

Now we should all recite together, “Everyone’s culture is just as good as anyone else’s culture, and in every way.”

Chocolate blasphemies

In 2007 the Italo-Canadian artist Cosimo Cavallaro secured free publicity with the condemnation by idiot American Catholic reactionaries of his harmless chocolate Jesus.

Here in Spain, you can have an entire chocolate Nativity scene, as a normal expression of commercially-tinged religious sentimentality. In fact a whole 1,450 kilo sugar Nativity Granada, in a chocolate factory in the small Andalusian town of Rute. (The other industry is anis.)
Chocolate crib general

The Nativity is rather nicely put into the Court of the Lions in the Alhambra.

Continue reading “Chocolate blasphemies”

Grove Patterson on Faith

Grove Patterson, a once well-known newspaper man, writes about faith.

I was fortunate to be friends with the great psychologist Seymour Sarason, who said that when he came to the end of his days, he knew it would make him sad to reflect that there were still books in the Yale University library that he hadn’t read. I have the same frustration; there are just more good books than there are hours in a life. And because so many more are published each year, good books of the past I might enjoy are forgotten and therefore I will never even hear of them.

There is however one redeeming pleasure in this situation, which is the discovery of a promising book of which we have never heard, even if it was popular in its day (The comment thread generated at RBC when I posted about reading The Worm Ouroborus remains one of my favorites). I found just such a book yesterday, oddly enough on my own bookshelf. I assume some visitor left it at our home years ago.

It’s an autobiography entitled I Like People by a Midwestern newspaper editor named Grove Patterson. The inside front cover is autographed with “Mitch, I like you too — Grove”. Never having heard of Patterson, I went on line and found out that — gasp — he has no Wikipedia entry. But there are apparently some schools named after him. I did though find an short essay on faith which was intriguing enough to make me want to dig into his autobiography: Continue reading “Grove Patterson on Faith”

On not feeling sorry for Marco Rubio

As Speaker of the Florida House, Marco Rubio tried to protect parents from having their children taught science in science class if that teaching might conflict with what the kids were hearing at home or in church. So the “How old is the Earth” question was no random “gotcha.”

Most everyone in Red Blogistan and on the Red-team varsity of punditry (Pete Wehner at Commentary is an honorable exception) seems to agree that GQ was mean to po’ widdle Marco Rubio in asking him about the age of the Earth. “Gotcha” seems to be the agreed-upon keyword; the Reds back Rubio in his assertion that the question has nothing to do with the GDP, which the erstwhile “party of values” seems to think is all that matters in public life.

I have to admit having had a trace of sympathy for Rubio. When one of a politician’s deeply-held religious beliefs – or at least one of the religious beliefs that he’s pretending to hold deeply because it’s popular with the rubes he’s trying to fleece – conflicts with consensus reality, the politician is in a bind, and not really a fair one. “Did Joshua really make the sun stand still?” would be a genuine “gotcha” addressed to a fundamentalist, as would asking a Mormon about the golden plates.

But in fact young-earth creationism is not part of Rubio’s heritage: he’s a Catholic by birth and current announced affiliation, though his family passed through Mormonism and he currently attends a Baptist church. And Catholicism, having learned from that series of unfortunate events around Galileo, no longer asks believers to let the Bible over-rule science; after all, Catholicism is Church-based, not Bible-based, and the inerrancy of the text is not a Catholic belief.

And in fact the question was not a random gotcha. Paul Krugman points out that Rubio, as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, sided with the creationists in the controversy about teaching evolution because “I don’t want a school system that teaches kids that what they’re learning at home is wrong” , and likened honest science teaching to Communist indoctrination.

So this wasn’t merely an idle question about Rubio’s personal religious beliefs. By what conceivable standard is a politician’s public record not a suitable topic for journalistic scrutiny?

And as to the GDP question, Alex Knapp at Forbes points out that Rubio is specifically as well as generically wrong.

Generically, not believing in the scientific approach to understanding natural phenomena, and not believing that children in school should be taught that approach, is inconsistent with the needs of technological progress. But specifically – as Rubio could easily know if he bothered to ask – the age of the Earth is uncertain only if the rate of radioactive decay is uncertain. And if the rate of radioactive decay is uncertain there is no reason to think that nuclear reactors won’t randomly go critical and blow up, or to expect that nuclear weapons will go critical when they’re told to or that they won’t do so at unexpected moments. So both energy policy and defense policy depend crucially on the specific scientific ideas whose veracity Rubio purports to doubt.

No, this was no mere “gotcha.” Senator Rubio was asked a perfectly fair question, and gave an answer that should disqualify him from the honorable office he now holds, let alone the Presidency.

Footnote Ross Douthat buys in to the “gotcha” theory, but quotes Augustine to show that Rubio’s answer is as bad for Christianity as it is for Republicanism: “reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture” who insist that obviously false factual claims are part of Christian faith give “infidels” good reason to doubt everything in the Christian Scriptures.

Still fighting the Enlightenment

Marco Rubio is scared of annoying the young-earth creationists. Feh!

Marco Rubio decides that running for President as a Republican means pretending to believe that the Earth is flat, or that it might be flat, or that the question of its shape is in dispute among scientists and theologians and therefore above his pay-grade, but in any case kids shouldn’t be taught the scientific answer if their parents object.

Well, not quite. The question wasn’t about the shape of the Earth, but the equally factual question of its age.

Here’s the answer in full, from Rubio’s GQ interview:

I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

b-z-z-z-z-z-t! Thanks for playing, Senator, but the quantum, the cosmos, and consciousness are mysteries. The age of the age of the Earth is no more a “great mystery” than the weight of a pint of water. And if you think that the difference between truth and b.s. has nothing to do with the GDP, you should consider a different line of work.

Footnote Rubio’s answer is opaque with respect to what he means when he says “parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says.” Either he’s calling for what always has been true and always will be true – that parents can tell their kids anything they please – or he’s calling for parents to be able to do so without contradiction from the schools.

If this is the best the GOP can do for 2016, I say “Bring it on.” And it may, in fact, be the case that no one who insisted on the rational answer to that question could win a Republican primary.

Bobby Jindal: Fake It ‘Til You Make It

At least so far.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has been making a lot of loud noises lately, theoretically criticizing GOP plutocracy.  A few days ago, he supposedly advanced a new conservative concern for the not-1% percent:

“We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything,” Jindal told POLITICO in a 45-minute telephone interview. “We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”

Now he has attacked Mitt Romney’s pathetic comments blaming his election loss on Obama’s promise of “free health care” to Latinos and African-Americans (and “free contraception” to single college-aged women):

“That is absolutely wrong,” Jindal told reporters in Las Vegas at the Republican Governors Association meeting. “Two points on that. One, we have got to stop dividing American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent — we need to go after every single vote. And second, we need to continue to show that our policies help every voter out there achieve the American dream, which is to be in the middle class, which is to be able to give their children the opportunity to get a great education, which is for their children to have even better-paying jobs than their parents.”

Wake me up when Jindal has something substantive to say.

Speaking generally about helping the “middle class” or not being the party that helps the rich “keep their toys” is better than most Republicans, but we have an actual, concrete policy dispute in Washington DC right now: should the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans be renewed, and should the House GOP hold a middle-class tax cut hostage in order to do it?  Are Mitch McConnell and John Boehner (and, for that matter, Paul Ryan) right to want to cut taxes for the wealthy and end Medicare as we know it in order to (partially) pay for it? 

Jindal has a choice here: he can either back the President’s position, or he can back Boehner and McConnell’s.  If he backs Republicans, then all his talk about helping the middle class is so much puffery.  It reminds me of Tim Pawlenty’s loud calls for “Sam’s Club Republicanism” — which just so happened to be the exact same thing as every other Republican’s Republicanism: massive tax cuts for the rich, deregulation for Wall Street, and greater risk for workers and the middle class.  Pawlenty is now the head of Wall Street lobby on Capitol Hill. 

Oh, and Jindal’s call for giving US children a great education?  Tell that to the kids in Louisiana who will have to learn creation science because of his so-called education reforms.

So far, all this talk of Republican reform is basically about which GOP politician can be the most effective hypocrite.


Avoiding the “Mormon issue”

Democrats laid off the “Mormon issue.” Good for us!

Ann Althouse is correct (blind squirrel theory in action? stopped clock theory in action?) to say that the absence of any “Mormon issue” in this campaign says something good about America.

But it seems to me that Althouse is not specific enough. Do you believe for a second that when the Democrats nominate one of the Udalls for President we won’t get a whole dose of anti-Mormonism from the fundies? After all, we got some of it in the GOP primaries this year.

And that led more than one Red-team pundit to predict a wave of anti-Mormon agitation by the Democrats. That wave never arrived.

No, this says something specifically good about the Blue team. We leave that to the other guys: the team Althouse plays.

Update Case in point: Ryan tells an evangelical group that Obama – the only Protestant on either ticket – threatens “Judeo-Christian values.”