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Town and Gown

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Transgender historian of economics Deirdre McCloskey has a word for intellectuals who constantly bash classical liberal (think Adam Smith) ideas about where wealth and human flourishing come from. She calls them the “clerisy.”

In her words, the clerisy are
the opinion makers and opinion takers, all the reading town, the readers of the New York Times or Le Monde, listeners to Charlie Rose [whoever that is], book readers, or at any rate book-review readers. My people. Like me. I would say, “My people. Like me,” too, except that I don’t read the New York Times or Le Monde, I have no idea who Charlie Rose might be, and I am pretty sure thanks to my support for Milo none of the opinion makers or takers would be interested in talking with me.

But these are my people. They are like me. Academics. Book readers. Book writers. The intellectuals.  If you prefer (say it with the proper accent), the intelligentsia.

Those of us who have bet bigly on our cultural capital, as Pierre Bourdieu might p…

Milo in the Dock

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You’ve read the Buzzfeed article. You love Milo, but you have questions. What was he doing in the karaoke bar with Richard Spencer and friends? Why was he so mean to Allum Bokhari? Why was Steve Bannon so mean to him? Why did he write those things in the emails that Buzzfeed published? Is he really friends with Devon Saucier?

You don’t want to believe what the media are saying about him – that he is secretly a white supremacist even though he just married his black husband; that he is a misogynist, racist, xenophobic bigot – because you have read his book and listened to his college talks, and nothing that he has published or said on camera fits with this description. But now that you know that he has had help writing those talks and that Allum was his ghostwriter for Dangerous, you are worried.

Who is Milo? Can we trust him?

Short answer, as emphatically as I can put it without being on camera myself: YES.

Yes, you can trust him.

Yes, I have trusted him from the first moment I starte…

Sola Scriptura**

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[UPDATED: October 8, 2017, at 12:23am. Corrected version.]

We are living through an interpretive crisis. Perhaps we should have seen it coming. The Christian world, after all, is now celebrating (if that is the right word) the five hundredth anniversary of being ripped apart by a similar challenge to its interpretive frame, started when a certain obscure lecturer in theology nailed (or notNinety-five Theses to the door of the university chapel in Wittemberg hoping to initiate a debate about indulgences. (Trigger warning: talk of Scriptural exegesis to come!)

Back then, Martin Luther and his fellow reformers (some of whom he vehemently disavowed, and yet who still get lumped together with him as anti-Catholic) came up with the idea that readers of Scripture should be able to interpret the texts themselves, without any necessary input from the Magisterium or the tradition. As Luther put it: “A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it.”

B…

Consenting Adults

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This one’s for you, Milo and John!

I know that this is going to be difficult for many of you to hear, but the Catholic Church (that is, the Church taking the Pope as its institutional head) has not always recognized marriage as a sacrament.

Yes, yes, I know that that is what it says in the Catechism, that Scripture “speaks throughout of marriage and its ‘mystery,’ its institution and the meaning God has given it,” but until the twelfth century, Latin theologians weren’t convinced.

(I don’t know the Greek argument as well as I know the Latin, so we’re going to go with Peter Lombard & Co. here. Maybe some of my Orthodox friends can help with the Greek side of the story.)

The argument is more or less an open secret among historians of canon law, that is, the law of the Church, but judging from the comments on my Facebook feed under my share of Milo and John’s wedding photo, my guess is the priests aren’t telling. So let me tell you, for Milo and John’s sake, because I know some of you…

The Female of the Species

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This time last year, I was looking forward to competing as a member of Team USA at the World Veteran Fencing Championships in Stralsund. I had also just started blogging about what I had seen in Milo’s campus tour, and I was eager to enter the fray on the side of the Dangerous Faggot. Little did I know what adventures my blogging would bring!

The sense of being caught up in an archetypal story, playing a character I had never thought to be able to imitate. Watching a friend rise in popularity and fame, only to be brought down by the betrayal and calumny of those whom he had called friends. The attention of the media, for good and ill. It has been quite the whirlwind of adulation and infamy, love and hate, all the while I have been attempting to chronicle what it feels like to be living a myth.

And you wonder what fencing has to do with it?

Nothing – my competition year was more or less completely shot, so preoccupied have I been since Worlds with finishing my book and blogging about …

The Power of Prayer

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“Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a Light no darkness can extinguish.”

There is a little video going the rounds on Facebook which you may have seen. It purports to show the power of the Eucharist driving away the forces of darkness – or, at the very least, purple – in the guise of two young women wearing “Left Action” t-shirts. The women are strolling along a covered walkway, when they encounter a procession led by a crucifer and bearing the Host. The women balk, back off, and scurry away, while choirs sing, “Gloria,” and the subtitle shows a text from Proverbs 28:1: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

I’ve had a tough last couple of weeks. Not that I’m complaining – much. Just that it is hard still receiving emails and messages from friends keeping me informed about the things that colleagues in medieval studies from around the globe now believe about me. That I “support racism, white supremacy, misogyny, etc.” because I am friends wit…