The Long View 2008-02-15: Nix the Co-Redemptrix; The Archbishop versus the Queen; Hillary versus the Democrats; A Proper Solar System

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I’ve always found the co-Redemptrix controversy a bit obscure. I do find it a bit amusing that John J. Reilly identified a matching tendency in the Orthodox. Some things really are universal.

Nix the Co-Redemptrix; The Archbishop versus the Queen; Hillary versus the Democrats; A Proper Solar System

Here is a really, really bad idea that the Internet came along just in time to help squelch:

Five cardinals have sent a letter inviting prelates worldwide to join them in petitioning Benedict XVI to declare a fifth Marian dogma they said would "proclaim the full Christian truth about Mary."

The text, released last week, includes the petition that asks the Pope to proclaim Mary as "the Spiritual Mother of All Humanity, the co-redemptrix with Jesus the redeemer, mediatrix of all graces with Jesus the one mediator, and advocate with Jesus Christ on behalf of the human race."

In a way, this notion is like gay marriage: the hypothesis of the "Co-Redemptrix" survives in part because it is so ridiculous. The flabbergasted silence it evokes is misportrayed as assent. The prelates here think that they can put over this theological glitch by claiming to be articulating the silent consensus of the faithful, but the faithful are no longer silent. That does not mean we are always right; it means that anyone who claims to speak in our name better have signed proxies to do so.

There is an Orthodox analogue of the Co-Redemptrix, by the way: the cult of Sophia. That's a really bad idea, too. Whatever the origins of this class of ideas or the intentions of those who propose them, in today's cultural climate they will evolve toward Gaianism.

* * *

More Fallout from poor Archbishop Williams' remarks about sharia in England:

A UK Telegraph piece on the royal reaction to the affair was a jewel of deniable non-attribution, but after these preliminaries, the newspaper did somehow detect this semantic content emerging across the event horizon of Buckingham Palace:

One royal source said: "I have no idea what her view is on what the Archbishop said about sharia law. But the Queen is worried, coming at such a difficult time in the Church's history, that the fallout may sap the authority of the Church."

The Archbishop himself says that he did not say quite what he is reported as saying; certainly he did not advocate sharia jurisdiction in Britain. You can see his side of the story on the archiepiscopal website:

In his lecture, the Archbishop sought carefully to explore the limits of a unitary and secular legal system in the presence of an increasingly plural (including religiously plural) society and to see how such a unitary system might be able to accommodate religious claims. Behind this is the underlying principle that Christians cannot claim exceptions from a secular unitary system on religious grounds (for instance in situations where Christian doctors might not be compelled to perform abortions), if they are not willing to consider how a unitary system can accommodate other religious consciences. In doing so the Archbishop was not suggesting the introduction of parallel legal jurisdictions, but exploring ways in which reasonable accommodation might be made within existing arrangements for religious conscience.

Meanwhile, Telegraph blogger Damian Thompson detects a split within the royal family:

In effect, Rowan Williams is lining up with the Prince of Wales in his campaign to recast the monarch as “defender of faith” rather than just the Christian faith. The Queen is not happy with that idea. And in this, as in so many areas of British life, she shows a better grasp of public opinion than Prince Charles or Dr Williams.

The Prince and the Archbishop do not see eye to eye on everything: the Primate is thought to have blocked Charles’s plans for an explicitly multi-faith coronation service. But they are both intellectually vain men who – encouraged by flattery from non-Christian religious leaders – believe they can transcend their constitutional obligations to the Christian faith.

If a gaggle of equally important holy people show up at the coronation, then the king would wind up putting the crown on his own head. Napoleon did that, of course: he was not running a monarchy, but a plebiscitary republic.

* * *

The Queen may be tactful, but Peggy Noonan does not trouble to conceal her glee at the apparent implosion of the Clinton campaign. Her column today even waxes novelistic:

She awoke each day having to absorb new sentences in a paragraph of woe...

On the operational level, I resonated with this point:

[C]linton campaign guru Mark Penn [yelled] "Your ad doesn't work!" to ad maker Mandy Grunwald, who fires back, "Oh, it's always the ad, never the message." (This is a classic campaign argument. The problem is almost always the message. Getting the message right requires answering this question: Why are we here? This is the hardest question to answer in politics. Most staffs, and gurus, don't know or can't say.)

I personally have always been willing to spout the party line, but I have found that one of the great problems in life is finding someone who will tell you what it is. Getting back to Senator Clinton, Noonan suggests that the real problem was that her partisan institutional support was always more presumed than actual:

And it all happened in public and within her party. The dread Republicans she is used to hating, whom she seems to pay no psychic price for hating, and who hate her right back, are not doing this to her. Her party is doing this.

Her whole life right now is a reverse Sally Field. She's looking out at an audience of colleagues and saying, "You don't like me, you really don't like me!"

This says more about the Democratic Party than it does about Hillary Clinton, perhaps. She is not a very gifted politician, but then neither is George Bush. Nonetheless, the cohesion of his coalition got him elected, barely, to the White House twice.

As for Barack Obama, from what I can tell the man really is a nothing-burger, the equivalent of writing "none of the above" on a ballot. He will do nothing to strengthen what is left of the cohesion between the elements of the Democratic Party. If he gets the nomination, his party could simply dissolve.

* * *

Hillary Clinton has no greater fan than Vox Day. She will always be his Lizard Queen, no matter her electoral fortunes. Certainly he prefers her to Senator McCrazy (to use another of Day's invective-dripping nicknames): he finds her the more stable of two evils.

Still, Vox Day's final endorsement goes to this most senior statesman. For how many election cycles has this fellow been running? He's turning into a squamous Harold Stassen.

* * *

A proper solar system, and hope of more:

In the newly discovered system, a planet about two-thirds of the mass of Jupiter and another about 90 percent of the mass of Saturn are orbiting a reddish star about half the mass of the Sun, at about half the distances that Jupiter and Saturn circle our own Sun.

Neither of the two giant planets is a likely abode for life as we know it, but, as Dr. [Scott Gaudi of Ohio State University] pointed out, warm, rocky planets — suitable for life — could exist undetected in the inner parts of the system. “This could be a true solar system analogue,” he said...The new discovery was made by a different technique that favors planets more distant from their star. It is based on a trick of Einsteinian gravity called microlensing....Alan Boss, a theorist at the Carnegie Institution of Washinton, said: “The fact that these are hard to detect by microlensing means there must be a good number of them — solar system analogues are not rare.”

Let me repeat this caution about the search for extra-solar Earths, however: Earth itself has been "earthlike" for only about a tenth of its history. The secular decline of the CO2 atmosphere over time suggest that, quite without human intervention, the biosphere is about to make the jump to another configuration within tens of millions of years: not a long time compared to the duration of the sun's expected continuance on the Main Sequence. So, earthlikeness is actually a pretty small window.

Copyright © 2008 by John J. Reilly

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