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Agreed, Holy Father, That Human Dignity Needs Work. Then What? "Socially Liberal, Economically Conservative" Is So Over

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Hester Koch's Scarlet Letter

by Christopher Chantrill
April 01, 2014 at 12:00 am


WE ALL REMEMBER the good old days when playwright Arthur Miller told us that salesmen were really dying inside, and that neo-Puritans were hunting Commies just like Puritans hunted witches in Salem, Massachusetts Bay.

And naturally in those good old days PBS gave us a richly ornamented TV adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter. Poor Hester Prynne! What young woman anywhere could withstand the creepy advances of the local New England Presbyterian or Congregationalist patriarchy?

Hester Prynne succumbed to temptation when her sea-captain husband was away, perhaps lost at sea. Who amongst us girls would not have fallen a little in love with the local worthy that ministered to us the love of Jesus Christ while hubby was away?

Nothing has changed. Who amongst us have not spoken a careless word about race? For that we must be put in the stocks and shamed forever with a scarlet “R”? Who is there who has not muttered that women, especially feminists, are not quite as spotless as the Holy Virgin? For that we must be sent to live on the edge of town and branded with a scarlet “S”? And as for gays! Wow, those chaps from GLAAD can slap a scarlet “H” on your chest before you even get up on the morning after.

It gets better. Lately, our busy Democratic needleworking spinsters have embroidered another scarlet letter. It’s the letter “K”. Scarlet? On the contrary, it’s pure gold. Nothing, it turns out, provokes a liberal mob to blood curdling bellows for blood than the mention of the Koch Brothers. Want to triple your haul in a fund-raising letter? Mention the magic word Koch and watch the money flow in.

Now at least Hester Prynne actually was a sinner. She had evidence of her sin, the irrepressible Pearl conceived in the absence of her husband. (This was long before the golden dawn of Margaret Sanger).

The Koch brothers, Charles and David, have not sinned against their own God but merely against the First Commandment of the liberals: Thou shalt have no other gods before Gaia. There is no evidence that the Koch brothers are members of the Church of Saving the Planet While Making a Ton of Money on Green Energy. So strictly speaking liberals should look at the Kochs as freethinkers, courageously battling against the orthodoxy of the New Puritanism that swept New England during the Great Green Awakening.

Dream on, Koch brothers. In America today we no longer have the wall of separation between church and state that Thomas Jefferson called for. Today we have the state Religion of Liberalism, so eloquently described last week by Jeffrey Lord, and you are tithing church members whether you like it or not.

In defiance of the liberal bishops, in heretical folly, let us celebrate Charles G. and David H. Koch. No doubt they are sinners, as are we all. But within the limits of sub-lunar existence, they seem to live useful and principled lives. They turned their father’s firm, worth millions, into an economic energy and mining powerhouse worth something in the neighborhood of $100 billion. They seem to have seeded money into politics the honorable way, by starting the Cato Institute, and by supporting candidates and causes, rather than descending to the level of a Harry Reid and his multigenerational family pay-for-play racket. They have made enormous gifts to hospitals, schools, and the arts. And both brothers are married to their first wives, although David was said to be something of a man about town in his youth.

I wish that I could say so much for myself — as a man about town, that is.

Back in the fall of 2013 I got to tour the witch museum in Salem, Massachusetts, birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The tour ended at a wall with a tabulation of political witch-hunts, naturally featuring the McCarthy era. I didn’t have the heart to ask the tour guide why there weren’t any references to our contemporary liberal witch hunts after racists, sexists, homophobes, and climate deniers.

Here’s a question. Scarlet Letter came out in 1850, and George Eliot’s Adam Bede was published in 1857. Version One: girl named Hester gets knocked up by local minister Arthur Dimmesdale, but through pluck and fortitude wins her way back to a kind of respectability. Version Two: vain and shallow girl named Hester gets knocked up by the local young squire Arthur Donnithorne, has baby, gets condemned to death for smothering baby in a ditch. Oh wow! Great minds think alike.

Did you know that Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great-great-grandfather Hathorne was a judge in the Salem witch trials? I wonder if the Koch descendants will decide to alter their surnames like Nat did.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican

Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District

Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State

Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050

Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization

Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph

Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self

Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion

Government Expenditure

The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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