Imagination and Conservatism (TIC)

J.R.R._TolkienThis morning at The Imaginative Conservative: Imagination and Conservatism.
Or, why the ONLY legitimate conservatism is an imaginative conservatism.

C.S. Lewis: Christian or Pagan? (TIC)

THS cover

Lewis’s Best Work.

This morning at The Imaginative Conservative, I ask the question: was C.S. Lewis truly a Christian, or was he just a pagan who accepted Christ as a part of pantheon?

Northern Irishman C.S. Lewis holds such an important place in the hearts, minds, and souls of American Protestants that it’s almost absurd. Few in the Christian world at large—but especially those among and within Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism—question Lewis’ views with anything remotely approaching the descriptive critical, and while some American churches have immortalized him in stained glass, others teach his works as though a twentieth-century sequel to the Bible. One prominent American evangelical even claims a sort of visitation by Lewis after Lewis’ passing from this Mortal Coil in late November 1963. Others, such as Chuck Colson of Watergate infamy, shame Professor Lewis as well, and one of the most popular books among young Christians, A Severe Mercy, details a wealthy and selfish young man who finds Lewis and remakes his world toward the Christian.

Yes, how cool is this?  My beautiful and brainy wife hanging out with the Uber-awesome Tom Woods.  Very, very cool, indeed.  Topic: Laura Ingalls Wilder.

This morning/today, I have a piece at The American Conservative introducing a 26-year old band as America’s greatest rock band. Please check it out. And, note, there’s nothing political in the article, despite the venue. So, humans of… Read More

Welcome to All Things Glass Hammer (TAC) — Progarchy

The apocalyptic vision in science fiction is akin to the memento mori in mediaeval art. It reminds us of the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. 1,257 more words via Apocalyptic Visions: Faith, Reason, & Science Fiction… Read More

Apocalyptic Visions: Faith, Reason, & Science Fiction — The Imaginative Conservative

Great story from the awesome e-Tinkerbell. Some years ago, my husband and I had the great opportunity of joining a program of long distance adoptions in Paraguay. The idea of helping the minors of the poor countries and… Read More

Wilfrido or On the Necessity of Education — e-Tinkerbell

J.R.R. Tolkien’s story of Númenor is the story of Athens, Rome, Great Britain, the United States, and every power that began with the best of intentions and saw itself decline because of envy and pride. 1,311 more words via… Read More

Pride and the Fall in Tolkien’s Second Age — The Imaginative Conservative

Thoughts on Catholic Pedophilia (from 2002)

This is a piece I wrote over a decade ago.  Still seems fairly relevant.


The topic of sexual abuse is, as it should be, so deeply disturbing that the repulsion and repugnance one feels toward the crime and the abuser is beyond expression of mere words.  It was upsetting to look at the news this week.  There is so much justified anger as well as regrettable but understandable loss of faith among the Irish.  As it turns out, Pope Benedict has been working vigorously against the evil of pedophilia and those committing it for years now.  

But, none of the pope’s current apologies change the recent past.  One can only imagine how much this on-going scandal has hurt Mother Church.  Without a doubt, non-Catholics have been using this scandal against Rome for years.  Half a decade ago, my wife and I saw a sign in Toledo, Ohio, advertising: “Tired of worrying about pedophilia in your church?   Come to XXXX Church this Sunday.”  Truly tacky?  Yes.  Truly true?  Most likely.  

Sadly, this was certainly not an isolated incident.  The scandal in the Catholic Church has not only caused numerous Catholics to leave the faith, it has also, surely, prevented many from joining the Church.  

And, frankly, who can blame them?  The crimes are real, the anger against the criminals is real, and the fact that the Church as an institution has done very little in the past against pedophiles is obvious to even the most loyal Catholics.  We can make all of the excuses we want–the media has focussed too much on this issue; abuse is just as high among Protestant clergy; more public school teachers abuse kids than do Catholic priests; most of the priests who committed the abuse were educated in the cultural chaos of the decade after Vatican II, etc.  Regardless of any of these things or all of these things, the abuse is very, very real, and the coverup or intentional ignorance of such heinous activities by its clergy in the Church prior to the 21st century is equally real.  Indeed, some of the abuse was committed by those–such as the founder of one of the more recent and growing orders–very high up in the Catholic Church.

The current generation of Catholics will be dealing with the ramifications of these demented clergy for years to come.

So, how should the Church deal with it?  

Most important, it should come totally clean.  Those who committed, perpetrated, and covered up the abuse should be exposed, severely punished, and defrocked.  Immediately.  Actually, sooner than immediately.  

It must be remembered, perhaps first and foremost, that no matter how fast the Church moves, the victims will never fully recover.  Those abused–especially sexually–will suffer from Post-Traumatic Syndrome for the rest of their lives.  They will always carry with them a sense of betrayal and shame.  They will always feel somewhat unclean, no matter how innocent they are.

And, what kind of mercy do the perpetrators deserve?  Their actions, indeed, are far beyond committing an evil such as murder or theft; rape is beyond explanation.  Rape of a child is even beyond this.  It is beyond justification in any way, shape, or form.  And, at least in this world, it is beyond forgiveness.  What court ruling, what payment, what apology can make up for the evil pedophiles have committed?  Pedophiles have violated the laws of God, of nature, and of man.  They have behaved in a fashion not only utterly and completely demeaning to the dignity of the human person, they have against committed these crimes against the most innocent of our society.  Even Jesus Christ–He who redeems the world–said those who hurt the children might as well tie a millstone around their neck and be thrown into the sea.

For not only are their crimes evil, the pedophiles themselves are evil.  Even other criminals recognize this.  “ChoMos”–child molesters–as they’re called in prison.  Justice, indeed.

In its response, the Church should treat pedophiles as something less than human.  

And, what about the vast majority of priests who have never committed such crimes.  Can they wear their collars in public and serve as an icon of Christ with humility and Christian confidence?  Or, do they wonder what those around them–passing them in the grocery stores, the airport terminals, and in the street–are thinking about them.  

Decisive action on the part of the Church will never cure those who have been abused.  But, it will punish the guilty and exonerate, at least in the eyes of the public, the good priests.  Most important, though, punishment of these pedophile clergy is just.  Swift justice might–we pray to our Lord and Savior–very well save a potential victim, a child bearing the Imago Dei.

If the Church does not act quickly and decisively, its future might very well be in doubt.  If the Church does not act quickly and decisively, its future might very well be in doubt.  twee

Since When is Conservatism Anti-Immigrant?

As I look back over the past 25 years, I just can’t–for the life of me–figure out when it became conservative to be anti-immigrant.

Reagan spoiled me as a kid–with his many (sincere) apologies to Japanese Americans for their internment in WWII and his apologies to American Indians. And, his praise of those who came to America to work hard.

I always identified the Republican party with pro-immigration and pro-labor. The Democrats–with their support of labor UNIONS–were the anti-immigrant folks.

What happened? I ask this in all sincerity.

To me, conservatism will always mean relatively open borders–free movements of peoples–whatever the anti-immigrant folks say today. That is, it should be closed to criminals and terrorists but open to anyone who is trying to improve his or her life.

Granted, I’m proudly neither a member of the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party. Each is fundamentally corrupt.

Happy 11th Birthday, Cecilia Rose Birzer!

CRs grave by Laura Smith

Photo by our great friend, Laura Jelso Smith.

When our beloved Cecilia Rose passed away 11 years ago, I vowed that I would write about her or to her every year on her birthday, as a way to keep her memory alive as one of my children–however absent.  This year, Kelley at The American Conservative very graciously allowed me to publish this.

Had things worked or happened differently, I would be celebrating the eleventh birthday of my daughter, Cecilia Rose Birzer, today. I can visualize exactly what it might be like. A cake, eleven candles, hats, cheers, goofiness, photos, and, of course, ice cream. I imagine that she would love chocolate cake–maybe a brownie cake—and strawberry ice cream. Her many, many siblings cheer here, celebrating the innumerable smiles she has brought the family. As I see her at the table now, I see instantly that her deep blue eyes are mischievous to be sure, but hilarious and joyous as well. Her eyes are gateways to her soul, equally mischievous, hilarious, and joyous. She’s tall and thin, a Birzer. She also has an over abundance of dark brown curls, that match her darker skin just perfectly. She loves archery, and we just bought her first serious bow and arrow. No matter how wonderful the cake, the ice cream, and the company, she’s eager to shoot at a real target.

She’s at that perfect age, still a little girl with little girl wants and happinesses, but on the verge of discovering the larger mysteries of the teenage and adult world. She cares what her friends think of her, but not to the exclusion of what her family thinks of her. She loves to dance to the family’s favorite music, and she knows every Rush, Marillion, and Big Big Train lyric by heart. She’s just discovering the joys of Glass Hammer. As an eleven-year old, she loves princesses, too, and her favorite is Merida, especially given the Scot’s talents and hair and confidence. She has just read The Fellowship of the Ring, and she’s anguished over the fate of Boromir. Aragorn, though—there’s something about him that seems right to her.

Raymond Chandler and Robert E. Howard had a lot in common, and I think acknowledging and appreciating their similarities help us to better understand and enjoy their thought-provoking works. Both were successful pulp writers who are now viewed… Read More

Chandler and Howard — M.C. Tuggle, Writer

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