Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Meet the Red Tories: The real answer to Rand Paul

All the talk about Rand Paul this week has taken place on a political atmosphere in which the very terms in which the debate is conducted prevenst people from addressing issues in a meaningful way. Either you are a socialist or a libertarian. Either you believe that the engine of government should be harnessed for every good purpose, or you believe the government should be abolished.

Because we have set up this false dichotomy, if you criticize one side (even for simply being hypocritical in its criticism of the other side), you are automatically assumed to agree with the other side. If you point out the stupidity of the criticism of Rand Paul, for example, you are assumed to agree with him on the point.

Are socialism and mercantile capitalism the only alternatives?

In the early twentieth century, G. K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc held forth on what was called "Distributism" on the pages of their magazine, The Eye Witness. Their effort was a part of the larger Catholic Land Movement. You can get the gist of what they were saying and how Distributism differs from both socialism and capitalism by reading Chesterton's What's Wrong with the World and Belloc's The Servile State.

Other closely related agrarian statements have also been made. In American, the twelve Southerners wrote I'll Take My Stand, and in his novels, poems and essays, Wendell Berry has articulated similar ideas.

Now Philip Blond and the Red Tories have launched another effort to explain that big government socialism and anti-government libertarianism are not the only alternatives--that capitalism is the exploitation of man by man, and that socialism is the reverse.

Here is Blond, writing in the American Conservative:
We live in a society of decreasing circles. More and more of us know fewer and fewer of us. We live alone and eat by ourselves, often with a TV or computer rather than a human being for company. If we do marry, the time an average relationship lasts decreases with each passing year.

In the Anglo-Saxon world, we abandon our old and increasingly care badly for our young. Our grandparents can recall a vivid life in which aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces wove together the social fabric of a stable, mutual society. Nearly half of all children are born out of wedlock. Many grow up without a father, some without any loving parent at all. The young people emerging from this background, denied any real education in public and private virtues, are easily seduced by glamorous dreams that promise consumption they cannot afford. Untouched by ideals of love and fidelity, they operate free of commitment, discipline, and responsibility. These unreformed teenage idioms become adult habits and ruin lives by creating people unable to bond or relate.

For men, especially those at the bottom of the social scale who are increasingly losing out in education and career advancement, an emasculated life at the margins of society awaits. For successful young women, having a degree is fast becoming an indicator of a childless future. No one would choose this outcome nor wish it upon anyone else, not least because it drains the energy from domestic life and compounds the terrifying fate of getting old alone. Everywhere we look, the ties that bind are loosening, and the foundations of a secure and joyful existence are being undermined.

What is the origin of this degradation? Looking back over the past 30 years, we could blame longer working hours that families must put in, a situation itself compounded by the financial necessity that in most households both adults must work, higher levels of personal debt, job insecurity, distrust of institutions, and fear of each other. Our society has become like a ladder whose rungs are growing further and further apart so it is increasingly difficult to ascend. Those at the top have accelerated away from the rest of us by practicing a self-serving and state-sanctioned capitalism that knows no morals and exists only to finance its own excess. Those in the middle are being crushed by bureaucracy and the effort of squaring stagnating wages with higher demands. Those at the bottom are more isolated and despised than ever before.

But decisive as these factors are, they do not add up to the social disaster that we are living through and that many, perversely, increasingly regard as normal. A healthier society could have resisted these trends. A society that still had strong families could have ensured a lifestyle that secured rather than undermined the economic base of the household. A society that still had neighbors who knew one another could have created trusting communities, and they could have produced institutions that served the needs of people rather than the bureaucratic demands of a distant and hostile state.

But through the privileging of alternative lifestyles, the prioritizing of minority politics, and the capture of markets by monopolies, we have destroyed the sustained and sustaining society. Little wonder that in a world in which binding norms, civil behavior, and notions of the common good have ceased to exist, frightened, isolated individuals call upon an increasingly authoritarian state to impose the order that we can no longer create for ourselves.

... Neither Left nor Right can offer an answer because both ideologies have collapsed as both have become the same. Those who construe the libertarian individual as the center of current rightist thought actually draw upon an extreme Left conception that finds its original expression in Rousseau, who held that society was primordial imprisonment. It was Rousseau whose social theory forced the diversity of the world to conform to the general will—which was but this same individualism writ large—thereby sponsoring the rationalist and secular red terror of the French Revolution. In fact, any anarchic construal of the self requires for its social realization an authoritarian statism to control the forces that are unleashed. Collectivism and individualism are but two sides of the same devalued and degraded currency. And this has been the history of recent modernity—an oscillation between the state and the individual that gradually erodes civil association, which is in reality the only check on the extremes of either.

Forget the moral posturing of Whiteliberals--and the modern mechanist economic reductionism of the libertarians. Read Philip Blond.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How Whiteliberaldemocrats voted on the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Here are the figures showing the vote on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and it doesn't look good for the party of the Whiteliberals:


Percentage of Democrats favoring the Civil Rights Bill: 63%
Percentage of Republicans favoring Civil Rights Bill: 80%

Tsk, tsk. Now let's look at the Senate. Maybe it was better there:


Percentage of Democrats favoring the Civil Rights Bill: 69%
Percentage of Republicans favoring Civil Rights Bill: 82%

In other words, 37 percent of the House members in the Whiteliberal Party that is now piling on Rand Paul voted against the very measure that Paul himself says he would have voted for if he had been there. And 39 percent of the Senate members of the Whiteliberal Party--the Party of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Robert C. Byrd--voted against it. That's over a third of its members in both cases, whereas 20 percent or less of the party that nominated Rand Paul voted against it.

Oh, the shame of it all. Such a record of racism and hate.

Just thought I'd point it out.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Are the White liberals now criticizing Rand Paul for being racist themselves racist?

When White liberal Rachel Maddow interviewed Rand Paul, she not only asked him whether the principle of property rights meant that private businesses have the right to discriminate, they also discussed whether the principle of free speech meant that people could express racist thoughts.

One of the things that Paul is being accused of by White liberals is being racist because his idea of property rights would result in allowing racist actions. But how is this fundamentally different from the idea that free speech rights should allow racist speech? If the belief that property rights oblige us to allow racist actions on the part of private businesses is racist, why isn't the belief that free speech rights oblige us to allow racist speech on the part of private individuals racist?

Ironically, it is the White liberals who will be the first to defend the free speech rights of people expressing racist sentiments. Are White liberals therefore racist?

By their own logic, they are.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

White liberal Jake giving moralistic lecture. Read here.

Jake too, a White liberal over at Page One Kentucky, is giving moralistic lectures to Rand Paul. He too is a member of the party of George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Robert C. Byrd.

I'm just trying to figure these guys out.

Guilty White liberals giving lectures

White liberal Josh Rosenau of the National Center on Science Education, after claiming I was a staffer with "The Family Forum of Kentucky" (never heard of the group), quotes my article yesterday on Rand Paul and says I am "excited about Rand Paul's recent primary victory."

I am? Geez. I didn't even vote for the guy. What is it with these White liberals?

And then Rosenau goes on to give the obligatory guilty White liberal lecture about the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I don't know, but I get the sense that Rosenau is a member of the party of George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon Robert C. Byrd.

But I could be mistaken.

White liberal Democrats vs. Rand Paul

The White liberal establishment is all in an uproar about a remark Rand Paul made several weeks ago about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Paul believes private businesses should be able to discriminate against minorities on the grounds that they are private businesses and have the right to do stupid things.

"In a free society," he says, "we will tolerate boorish people who have abhorrent behavior."

Of course, this is exactly what you would expect him to say. He's a libertarian. That's what libertarians think. Did they not know this? Go and look up the word in a dictionary, people.

But Rand Paul isn't the only one whose philosophy militates against the Civil Rights Act. Remember, these same White liberals who are giving pious sermons about Rand Paul are the ones who, on a regular basis, warn us about the evil of "imposing your morality" on other people through the law.

If you're against "imposing morality" through the law, then how can you be for Civil Rights laws? Don't they impose morality through the law?

The philosophy of White liberal Democrats pits them against civil rights laws. Thank God they're inconsistent.

In any case, it's much better to be a White liberal Democrat who, instead of discriminating against Blacks, uses them as a vehicle to get yourself elected by, among other things, gerrymandering districts to prevent Blacks from having a majority and to ensure that White liberal Democrats get elected.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Revolution Starts Here: Is Rand Paul the de facto leader of the Tea Party?

Rand Paul has become the Cinderella story of this political season. Until recently a complete political unknown, the Republican nominee for Jim Bunning's U. S. Senate seat has charmed the electorate of his party, and earned himself an invitation to the political ball in November, where he will try his charms on a broader electoral public.

Of all the politicians running in major races this election season, Paul has been the most vocal in identifying himself with the Tea Party movement. Not only did he seize early on the anti-government sentiment brewing as a result of President Obama's socialist agenda, he explicitly took on the Tea Party label. And, as if to complete to symbolism, he even received the endorsement of the fairy godmother of conservative politics: Sarah Palin.

In fact, one of the Tea Party's long-term problems is that it doesn't have a single, recognizable leader. It may have just found one.

Paul has the intellectual ability to articulate the Tea Party case in a way Palin can't. Palin's strength is not in her political acumen, but in what she stands for. She is a symbol. If she and her advisers are smart, they'll recognize this. Her biggest asset is her ability to personify the Tea Party's populist agenda, an ability that is both larger and smaller than what is needed to win national political office.

The fairy-tale nature of Paul's rise to national prominence in so short a time has been further enhanced by his status as giant-killer. Aligned against him in his bid for the Republican Party nomination for Senate was Mitch McConnell, who is not only the state's senior Republican officeholder, but his party's leader in the Senate.

McConnell had backed Grayson early, long before anyone even knew about Paul. In the end, Grayson and McConnell were left standing and watching, political stepsisters in Paul's rise to prominence.

To McConnell's credit, he stuck with Grayson to the end. Political expedience would have dictated he defect to Paul when it became apparent late in the race that Grayson was losing. Others did this. But it is a political maxim in politics that you gotta dance with you brung you, and a moral corollary of that principle is that you out to dance with who you brung. McConnell did this, and it was the right thing to do.

While Paul's campaign seemed enchanted, Grayson's seemed cursed. Paul was out early with a slick website, complete with extensive position statements. Grayson's site was primitive in comparison, and, well into the campaign, trying to find where he stood on the issues was like trying to find your way through the forest--with no crumbs to help.

Grayson's own tendency to spout political platitudes also didn't help--particularly in the face of the far more articulate Paul. When the Louisville Courier-Journal posted interviews with the two candidates, conservative political blogger Marcus Carey captured the comparison perfectly: "I have one word summary of my comment on each. Paul: senatorial. Grayson: student council."

McConnell shook down endorsements from prominent establishment Republicans. Former Vice President Dick Cheney endorsed Grayson. So did New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But as hard as McConnell pleaded, Political Fortune refused to let down her hair.

The only mistake the Paul campaign made--and it was not inconsiderable--was to alienate the state's most important right to life group late in the campaign. Paul staffers apparently botched filling out the Kentucky Right to Life questionnaire, leaving one question unanswered when it faxed its form, resulting in Grayson receiving the group's endorsement--an important endorsement in the Republican primary. The Paul campaign, stung by the poisoned apple in its political basket, blamed the mistake on Right to Life, angering the group.

The Paul campaign should work speedily to mend fences.

Does the story have a happy ending? Paul's opponent in the fall is Jack Conway, the Democratic candidate who polled best against Paul. No one knows, except maybe the magic mirror on the wall.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Marilynne Robinson against the Abolition of Man

The inimitable Marilynne Robinson speaks up for consciousness in her new article in Commonweal magazine. Robinson, the author of Gilead, and Housekeeping: A Novel, eloquently states the case for the uniqueness of consciousness and what is says about who we are as human beings:

There is much speculation about the nature of the mind, its relation to the brain, even doubt that the word “mind” is meaningful. In his book Consilience, the biologist E. O. Wilson claims, “The brain and its satellite glands have now been probed to the point where no particular site remains that can reasonably be supposed to harbor a nonphysical mind.” But if such a site could be found in the brain, then the mind would be physical in the same sense that anything else with a locus in the brain is physical. To define the mind as nonphysical in the first place clearly prejudices his conclusion. The experimental psychologist Steven Pinker, writing about the soul in How the Mind Works, asks, “How does the spook interact with solid matter? How does an ethereal nothing respond to flashes, pokes and beeps and get arms and legs to move? Another problem is the overwhelming evidence that the mind is the activity of the brain. The supposedly immaterial soul, we now know, can be bisected with a knife, altered by chemicals,” and so on. By identifying the soul with the mind, the mind with the brain, and noting the brain’s vulnerability as a physical object, he feels he has debunked a conception of the soul that only those who find the word meaningless would ever have entertained.

This declension, from the ethereality of the mind/soul as spirit to the reality of the mind/brain as a lump of meat, is dependent, conceptually and for its effects, on precisely the antique dualism these writers who claim to speak for science believe they reject and refute. If complex life is the marvel we all say it is, quite possibly unique to this planet, then meat is, so to speak, that marvel in its incarnate form. It was dualism that pitted the spirit against the flesh, investing spirit with all that is lofty at the expense of flesh, which is by contrast understood as coarse and base. It only perpetuates dualist thinking to treat the physical as if it were in any way sufficiently described in disparaging terms. If the mind is the activity of the brain, this means only that the brain is capable of such lofty and astonishing things that their expression has been given the names mind, and soul, and spirit. Complex life may well be the wonder of the universe, and if it is, its status is not diminished by the fact that we can indeed bisect it, that we kill it routinely.

In any case, Wilson’s conception of mind clearly has also taken on the properties of the soul, at least as that entity is understood by those eager to insist that there is no ghost in the machine. As Bertrand Russell pointed out decades before Gilbert Ryle coined this potent phrase, the old, confident distinction between materiality and nonmateriality is not a thing modern science can endorse ...
It is amusing to see people like Harold O. Wilson and Stephen Pinker, presumably conscious beings, trying essentially to explain consciousness away--doing it in a way only conscious beings could and in a way that only other conscious beings could understand. Robinson does a brilliant job explaining that those like Wilson and Pinker, who want to reduce all things to the material, themselves assume an outmoded duality between the material and non-material.

I wonder if people like Wilson and Pinker are even capable of understanding Robinson's case, since Robinson speaks in the very language of the human, whereas the materialists have reduced the human (a category of which they themselves are members) to non-human categories. There seems to come a point at which the advocates of the human (Robinson, Berry, Chesterton, Lewis) face the skeptics of the human (Wilson, Pinker, Dawkins) over a yawning and unbridgeable intellectual chasm.

The Abolition of Man, as C. S. Lewis pointed out, is self-inflicted.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Is Europe driving itself off the socialist cliff?

From the Washington Post:
ATHENS -- The massive emergency fund assembled to defend the value of the euro is backed by a political gamble with an uncertain outcome: that European governments will rewrite a post-World War II social contract that has been generous to workers and retirees but has become increasingly unaffordable for an aging population.

The trillion-dollar program, to be underwritten largely by the 16 nations that use the euro and by the International Monetary Fund, represents a virtual discarding of Europe's rule book.
In other words, socialism in Europe may be failing. Hey, I've got a great idea: now that Europe is about to go financially belly-up because of socialism, let's try it here and see if we can get it to work!

Oh. Wait. Somebody has already thought of that.


HT: Gene Edward Vieth

Joseph Bottum answers stupid anti-Catholic questions at Weekly Standard

The day the Antichrist is ripped from his papal throne, true religion will guide the world. Or perhaps it’s the day the last priest is gutted, and his entrails used to strangle the last king, as Voltaire demanded. Yes, that’s when we will see at last the reign of bright, clean, enlightened reason—the release of mankind from the shadows of medieval superstition. War will end. The proletariat will awaken from its opiate dream. The oppression of women will stop. And science at last will be free from the shackles of Rome.

For almost 500 years now, Catholicism has been an available answer, a mystical key, to that deep, childish, and existentially compelling question: Why aren’t we there yet? Why is progress still unfinished? Why is promise still unfulfilled? Why aren’t we perfect? Why aren’t we changed?
Joseph Bottum has the answers to these and other bone-headed secularist questions at the Weekly Standard in what is perhaps the best defense yet of Pope Benedict on the trumped of charges of facilitating the child sex abuse scandal in the Church when in fact he was the one cleaning up the mess and this is pretty self-evident so why are so many critics completely ignoring it?

Bottum has an answer to that question too. Read it here.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The case for alleged "brutal attack" on gay teen continues to deteriorate

With friends like the Kentucky Equality Federation, gays don't need any enemies.

Take a look at their case for why three girls involved in what most people close to the case think was a practical joke gone wrong was a federal hate crime. In a case that has received national attention, Cheyenne Williams and her mother have claimed that several longtime friends assaulted her and attempted to throw her off a cliff because she was gay. The three girls involved in the incident were originally charged with kidnapping, but when police investigated the incident and the judge viewed the cellphone video that allegedly showed attempted murder (which one would think would prove Williams' claims conclusively), the charges were actually reduced.

The girls were long time friends of Williams. The video showed the alleged victim laughing through most of the so-called "murder attempt." She went on from the incident to a job interview and then home, and only reported the incident later. No one close to the case now thinks this was a hate crime--except the Kentucky Equality Federation, which has a political interest in portraying it that way.

So what are their arguments? Here's the first one:

Richard Jones, who is responsible for administration and communications at Kentucky Equality Federation, and a member of its Discrimination, Hate Crimes, and School Bullying Committee received a voicemail telling them that gays are not welcome in Kentucky and to stop all advocacy work.

The same message was left for Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer, in addition to a possible death threat stating, “stay out of jackson county business with your fag rights group or you will die.” Palmer said he didn’t care what threats are made, that he had been ‘gay bashed’ before and nothing will cause the Federation to stand-down or prevent the Committee from being an advocate for victims.

In other words, the girls are guilty of hate crimes because the Kentucky Equality Federation has received threatening calls. Can you spell "N-O-N S-E-Q-U-I-T-O-R"?

And if you are impressed with that argument, get a load of this one:

Jones stated the Discrimination, Hate Crimes, and School Bullying Committee ruled the incident a hate crime based on confidential information provided by Williams and Johnson.

In other words, the incident is a hate crime because the "Discrimination, Hate Crimes, and School Bullying Committee" says so. And what is the "Discrimination, Hate Crimes, and School Bullying Committee"? It is a committee made up of members of ... The Kentucky Equality Federation! And why did the "Discrimination, Hate Crimes, and School Bullying Committee" "rule" that it was a hate crime? On the basis of "confidential information provided by Williams and Johnson."

So here's a group with a political interest in the outcome of the case, quoting its own organization as proof of its own position--and relying exclusively on the testimony from one side in the case. And gays are the ones not getting justice here?

This is the kind of justice we can expect when the Tolerance Police as they increasing take on the roles of judge, jury, and executioner. Better get used to it.

Surely they have better arguments than this. Well, no. They don't. In fact, they only get worse. In response to my recent blog post pointing out that the Kentucky Equality Federation has completely isolated itself as more and more people around the case have abandoned the idea that this was anything other than a few teenagers doing stupid teenager things, the organization tries to argue that political corruption by some public officials in the general vicinity of the court in which the charges were brought is evidence that the girls were performing a hate crime:

On March 10, 2010, the Lexington Herald Leader reported that Gary Gregory, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the 41st Judicial Circuit was involved in the vote buying scandal sweeping Southern Kentucky.

Well, that certainly seals the deal: there is political corruption in eastern Kentucky, therefore Cheyenne Williams was the victim of a hate crime. See the connection?

The organization also prints a statement from their attorney citing several "irregularities" in the way the case was handled, none of which bears on any fact at issue in the case.

Is their case really this bad? Yes, it's really this bad. But, again, they don't need sound arguments to bolster their case. The important thing is the cultural narrative they have on their side that says--despite all the evidence--that there is widespread, hate-inspired violence against gays. They do not need actual facts; they need only invoke the narrative and supply a name. The rest consists of an automatic and non-logical inference to the conclusion:

"It's a hate crime."

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Wrong Way to Teach Worldview

The following is my article in the upcoming summer issue of the Classical Teacher magazine:

In recent years, the word "worldview" has become increasingly popular among Christian educators. Indeed, not only has the word become common parlance, but there has now arisen a veritable worldview industry. There are books, programs, and curricula based on articulating and defending a Christian "worldview" and there are retreats and blogs and sermons devoted to furthering its study.

The term "worldview" has now gained official status as a Christian buzzword.

The origin of the word is itself interesting. The term "worldview' can be traced to the German word "weltanshauung," which means "world perception" or simply "world view." The first occurrence of the word "weltanshauung" was in the writings of German philosopher Immanuel Kant. In 1790, he used the word in his Critique of Judgment to mean the contemplation of the world as it appears to our senses. Later, with another German philosopher, Friedrich Schelling, its meaning was transformed into something closer to our modern, more philosophical sense: the implicit and mostly unconscious presuppositions through which we view reality. This is the sense in which Friedrich Nietzsche used it--and he used it often.

By the late 19th century, the word had become all the rage among German intellectuals and, after the turn of the century, among their colleagues in the rest of Europe. Britain got it late, and America a little later.

The word's origins betray a troubling subjectivity. It seems to suggest a sort of metaphysical pluralism: you have your worldview and I have mine, and who is to say which is better? But it seems we are stuck with it, since no other word can be found that adequately expresses what we mean when we say it.

To most people, the expression "Christian worldview" means simply a knowledge of the basic truths of Christianity and how to defend them against Christianity's cultural competitors. The best way to defend the Christian worldview--we learn as we make our way through many of these programs--is to learn the propositional truths of the historic faith and to use logic to defend them. Once we defeat our opponents on the intellectual battleground of argument, they will come weeping across the barricades, dressed and ready for Sunday School.

We get it in our heads too that the Christian worldview is best taught in a class: a "worldview" class. Worldview, we are tempted to think, is its own subject, like mathematics, English, and history. By segregating it from the rest of the curriculum, we can study it in abstract, as a thing disconnected from other things.

But is this an accurate picture of what we are to do in fully contending for the faith? Does logic alone have this kind of irresistible power? And can we usefully separate out "worldview" from the rest of the liberal arts curriculum?

Part of the problem is that, when teaching it, we often assume a narrow view of logic--and an even narrower view of rhetoric. Modern systems of logic--the kind you find in college textbooks as well as private school curricula--emphasize a sort of dry formalism. By the use of symbols and variables, we put together complex mathematical statements and "solve" them--like we solve a mathematical equation.

It is instructive to discover that the older, classical system of traditional logic does not operate this way. Not only does traditional logic stick with words and avoid abstract symbolism; it recognizes that there are more aspects to reasoning than are dreamt of in our philosophies.

There is no geometry of the heart. We do not live our lives by proof, nor do we make the important decisions in our lives by solving some sort of moral equation. Life is full of mystery, and mysteries are not amenable to the kind of calculus so many of us would like to impose upon them.

Traditional logic recognizes four kinds of reasoning. Demonstrative reasoning involves ironclad logic and self-evident premises that together lead to a certain conclusion. It is the type of reasoning we use in geometry. Mathematical reasoning has a similar deductive structure:
All triangles have three sides.
An isosceles triangle is a triangle.
Therefore, isosceles triangles have three sides
In Dialectical reasoning too the conclusion follows deductively and necessarily. But it employs premises that are only probable or require some kind of practical verification and hence its conclusions are not certain. It is the kind of reasoning used in the so-called social sciences:
Conservatives are for limited government.
The Republican Party is conservative.
Therefore, the Republican Party is for limited government.
Rhetorical reasoning involves reasoning that is not strictly deductive, but can be persuasive nevertheless. This kind of reasoning is employed in all sorts of debate, including political and social controversies, as well as everyday argumentation:
If your younger brother can chop wood, then you can too.
In fact, classical rhetoric teaches that there are three modes of persuasion: ethos, logos, and pathos. Only one of these is strictly logical. Ethos has to do with the audience's confidence in the personal character of the speaker. If someone tries to convince you of something, you are most likely to believe him if you trust him--if you know he is a person who would not mislead you. Pathos has to do with the emotions of the audience. Does the speaker make the audience want to believe him? Does he inspire? Does he capture the audience's imagination? Only logos has to do with the rational strength of an argument.

The human soul is made up of more than just the intellect: it also includes the will and the imagination. The intellect is indeed swayed by rational argumentation. But if, in our attempts to persuade, we ignore the other parts of the soul, we render ourselves less effective in winning others to our own beliefs.

If the will is that part of the soul by which we make decisions--decisions, say, to accept one view of the world and reject another--the intellect is certainly one avenue to it. But more often, the most direct avenue to the will is the imagination: the highway of the heart.

In fact, in the classical view of logic, there is also a fourth kind of reasoning--in addition to the three discussed above--demonstrative, dialectical and rhetorical. It is called poetic reasoning: persuasion by way of poetry and literature.

What role does poetry and literature play in defending a Christian worldview?

Most people don't associate poetry with religion--or at least they don't see the two as intertwined in any essential way. Poetry is a fanciful form of expression that can be used for many purposes, religious and nonreligious, and it is opposed to rational prose expression, which is a more direct form of expression better fitted to articulating truth and describing reality. Poetry--and literature in general--is an inferior means of communicating truth.

At least that is how many of us think about it.

And that is why, when classical Christian educators place an emphasis on poetry and literature in their schools, they are often challenged to justify the emphasis the school places on it. "Why," teachers are asked, "is literature important?" And too often, we don't have a good answer. Of course, if schools simply changed the names of these classes to "worldview," there would be no questions asked.

Simple poetry itself has fallen on hard times and has become increasingly inaccessible to contemporary people--religious and otherwise. Modern Bible translations increasingly eliminate the metaphorical expressions employed in the original languages in favor of more sterile prose expressions. Literature in general has taken a back seat in even Christian educational institutions in favor of more "practical" subjects like business, engineering, and the sciences.
But there is a school of thought that views poetic expression--which would encompass all literary expression--as not only an acceptable way of communicating religious truth, but as essential to it. Indeed, some would argue that the Christian worldview is inherently poetic.

In C. S. Lewis' essay, "Meditation in a Toolshed," the author discusses standing inside a toolshed on a sunny day, with the two doors just slightly cracked open. Through the small opening in the door, a beam of light shines through. From where he stands, says Lewis, he can see the beam with tiny specks of dust floating through it. But then he moves from where he is standing, until his eye is actually in the beam of light. Suddenly, he says, his vision is completely changed. He no longer sees the beam and the flecks of dust. He sees instead the leaves of the trees outside and the sun itself.

The two visions, Lewis points out, are completely different. Both visions are true, but each sees a different aspect of things. Looking at the beam, says Lewis, is like what we call viewing things "objectively": we see them dispassionately and from the outside. We see them in the abstract. This is what we usually call the "logical" way of viewing something. But looking through the beam, on the other hand, is like viewing a thing subjectively--from the inside, so to speak.

Someone can, for example, give the definition of marriage and all sorts of statistics about it, but if you are not married, just this abstract information will never give you a true picture of what marriage really is. Only by the actual experience of being married--by looking through the beam--will you ever really know what marriage is. It is the same for most other things in life: fatherhood, friendship, faith.

John Henry Newman was right when he said that we make decisions about philosophical issues and religious truth questions the same way we make decisions about anything else: we note, among the welter of worldly things and events, certain patterns and pointers until we see clearly a set of converging probabilities. There, although there is seldom a clear deductive path, we tend to find the truth. We go, in other words, by untutored intuition, a more direct road.

In one of his autobiographical stories, Ralph Moody talks about spending a summer with his grandfather, who in the course of the story teaches him many things. One day, his grandfather takes him out to show him how to find a beehive. He has Ralph capture a bee visiting a blossom in a nearby field. Smearing the bee with a dab of glue and attaching some angel hair to it to make it visible in flight, he lets the bee go, and it heads for a nearby wood. They mark its trajectory. Then they capture another bee in a different spot and do the same thing, marking its trajectory as well. By following the paths of these two bees, they find the place where the paths of these two bees converge, and there they find the beehive.

Newman's theory of converging probabilities, which he calls the "illative sense," operates the same way, by a sort of conspiracy of events. Facts too, thinks Newman, make a beeline for the truth, and they gain in persuasive force not only by their quantity, but by their variety. You can prove to a person the existence of God with a philosophical argument, and he still may not believe. But if he were to see the same pointers to God in other things, particularly the common concrete experiences of everyday life--of the kind presented to the mind in literature and poetry--how much more would he be prone to believe?

"I am less convinced of a philosophy from four books," said G. K. Chesterton, "than from one book, one battle, one landscape, and one old friend."

Mortimer Adler, the editor of The Great Books of the Western World series, once told the story of teaching a class for aspiring law students in which he presented and discussed St. Thomas Aquinas' arguments for the existence of God. One by one they submitted to the logical force of the arguments. But one student remained unmoved. Then Adler decided to employ another strategy. He told his students the story of St. Thomas himself, who, having sequestered himself in a monastery with only the Bible and a few other books at his disposal, proceeded to write the Summa Theologica and the other stunning and magisterial works in which he brought together all of knowledge under the Christian view of the world. When he finished the story, the student who had been resisting spoke up, and rebuked Adler for not telling the story before. "Why?" asked Adler. "Because if you had told us all this about Aquinas, you would not have had to bother our minds with arguments about God's existence. Aquinas could not have done what he did without God's help."

Looking at things is the preferred method of modern thinkers. It is the whole basis, says Lewis, "of the specifically 'modern' type of thought." Modern thought is reductionist, scientistic, and narrow, and those who would pretend to articulate a Christian worldview would do well not to imitate it.

Looking through things is the poetic way of looking at the world. It does not spurn reason, but only puts it in its proper place. The great Shakespeare critic Harold Goddard observed, "Poetry, the elemental speech, is like the elements. Its primary function is not to convey thought, but to reflect life." Poetry, says Goddard, has what he calls a sort of "Delphic" quality: "The Lord at Delphi," said Heraclitus, "neither speaks nor conceals, but gives a sign." It is a quality looked down upon by modern thought, which is impatient with the intractable mysteries of life, says Goddard:
We want the definite. As certainly as ours is the time of the expert and the technician, we are living under a dynasty of the intellect, and the aim of the intellect is not to wonder and love and grow wise about life, but to control it ... We want the facts for the practical use we can make of them. We want the tree for its lumber, not, as Thoreau did, to make an appointment as with a friend. When the intellect speaks, its instrument is a rational prose. The more unmistakable its meaning, the better. "Two and two are four." Everybody understands what that means, and it means the same to everybody. But "Become what thou art"; "Know thyself"; "Ye must be born again"; "I should never have sought thee if I had not already found thee"; "The rest is silence"; what do they mean? Will any two men every exactly agree? Such sentences are poetry.
There is much in the truth of the world that is accessible purely through reason, but there is much that is not. There are mysteries which yield little to pure logical analysis, and many of them are among the most important things in life. "Articles of faith," said Adler, after he converted to Christianity late in life:
are beyond proof. But they are not beyond disproof. We have a logical, consistent faith. In fact, I believe Christianity is the only logical, consistent faith in the world. But there are elements to it that can only be described as mystery ... My chief reason for choosing Christianity was because the mysteries were incomprehensible. What’s the point of revelation if we could figure it out ourselves? If it were wholly comprehensible then it would be just another philosophy.
Lewis did not question the existence of objective truth or that reason was, as Samuel Johnson once put it, the "organ whereby truth is apprehended." He merely meant to point out that reason operated against a background of concrete experience:
It must not be supposed that I am in any sense putting forward the imagination as the organ of truth. We are not talking of truth, but of meaning: meaning which is the antecedent condition both of truth and falsehood, whose antithesis is not error but nonsense. I am a rationalist. For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but its condition.
With logic you can manipulate abstractions, but only with the imagination can you apprehend meaning. We tend not only to distinguish but to separate these two modes of thinking to the point where they conflict with one another:
This is our dilemma--either to taste and not to know or to know and not to taste--or, more strictly, to lack one kind of knowledge because we are in an experience or to lack another kind because we are outside it ... Of this tragic dilemma myth is the partial solution.
By "myth," Lewis simply means the imaginative apprehension of reality. The imaginative approach to the world recommended by Lewis has the advantage that it recognizes its own limitations, unlike the rationalist abstract approach which takes no heed of man's inherent limitations. It is no mistake that modern systems of logic derived from the attempt to create a formal language by which man could resolve all scientific questions. This universal scientific language was the dream of the philosopher Gottfried Leibniz which modern philosophers like Bertrand Russell, Alfred North Whitehead, and Ludwig Wittgenstein actually tried to bring to fruition in the book Principia Mathematica in the early 20th century, a work which until recent years was required reading for many philosophy students and from which all modern logic descends. It was the intellectual equivalent of the Tower of Babel.

Rational prose, of the kind favored by modernism, said Lewis' close friend Charles Williams, hides from us the fact that human nature is inherently limited:
Prose, especially sweet and rational prose, conceals its human limitations. It may argue or instruct or exhort, but all that while it subdues or hides from us the pattern which is our reminder that its conclusions are what they are because of its own limitations--which are its writer's--which are in the nature of man.
Poetry, on the other hand, inoculates us from man's fatal conceit: his tendency to forget that his nature is limited, that he can't know everything. It limits its way of saying things to the limits of human nature itself:
Exquisitely leaning to an implied untruth, prose persuades us that we can trust our natures to know things as they are; ostentatiously faithful to its own nature, poetry assures us that we cannot--we know only as we can.
Chesterton, writing several decades earlier, anticipated William's point:
The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.
Poetry acknowledges that we have eaten of the Tree of Good and Evil. But it will not allow us the delusion that we have eaten also of the Tree of Life.

The Christian worldview is contained not only in the great confessions of faith of Christian divines and the philosophical disquisitions of Christian philosophers, it is housed in the great works of poetry and literature which have formed the literary tradition of the Christian West.

We can understand the truth through the abstract statements of the philosophers, but only by poetry can we see it. And seeing is believing. Jesus, who himself taught in stories, did not accuse the Pharisees of not understanding the truth; he accused them of something much more serious: He accused them of being blind.

"How can a man be born again when he is old?" "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" How indeed. Only through a reacquaintance with the poetic can we repair our sight and see truly once again.