TBT: The Desperate Search for Meaning IV: Vanity

In the spirit of yesterday’s post, which also dealt with a passage from Ecclesiastes, I thought I’d dust off an old post from my The Desperate Search for Meaning Series, which I completed back in 2019.  A double-shot of Ecclesiastes, and the long-winded (but condensed here) wisdom of Pastor Monday is always a nice treat.

With that very brief introduction, here is October 2019’s “The Desperate Search for Meaning IV: Vanity“:

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Lazy Sunday LXXX: Big Ideas

So many of the West’s problems are fundamentally spiritual in nature.  Our politics are no longer the pedestrian, earthy wranglings over how to maintain the roads (clearly not) or what the marginal tax rate should be.  Even the most mundane of political discussions become theological battles about the nature of Truth itself.  It’s ironic given the Left’s wholesale embrace of postmodernism’s rejection of Truth.

As such, it seemed like an opportune time to dedicate a Lazy Sunday to posts about big ideas.  It’s easy to get bogged down in the details—the Devil is in them, after all—but it’s also important to grasp at the makeup of the entire forest, not just its diversity of trees.

With that, here are some of my own stabs at understanding the dark forest in which we moderns find ourselves:

  • What is Conservatism?” & “TBT: What is Conservatism?” – This post kicked off the first run of my History of Conservative Thought Class, in which begin exploring the ideas of Russell Kirk.  So much of what Americans consider to be “conservative” today is really an abstract ideology, whereas Kirk’s conservatism varied from one society to the next.  It did, however, contain some similar elements across cultures.  Kirk is mostly forgotten in conservative circles today, which is unfortunate; it would behoove us to know more of his thought and work.  
  • Resist the Black Pill” – It’s easy to get discouraged with the state of the world at present, especially here in the United States. Even with the efforts of President Trump and his MAGA cadre, there are long-term concerns for the future of our country.  The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett is one sign of hope, though whether or not the Court will return to true constitutionalism is still an open question.  What we can know is that nihilistic despair is a sin, and our hope comes from the Lord.
  • What is Civilization?” – This post dealt with a lively discussion between Milo and a couple of groypers, Steve Franssen and Vincent James, about the future of civilization.  It’s an intriguing debate about whether or not abandoning the cities to progressive destroyers represents an abandonment of civilization itself (my answer would be no).

That’s it for this brief Lazy Sunday.  Here’s hoping these posts give you something to chew over as you head into your week.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Lazy Sunday LVII: Christianity, Part II

A Special Easter Notice:  Pick up my latest release, The Lo-Fi Hymnalfor just $4 (or name your own price).

Way back on 17 March 2019, on just the fourth ever Lazy Sunday, the theme was “Christianity.”  I’ve written quite a bit about the One True Faith over the past year, but I haven’t made it another feature of Lazy Sunday since then.

Well, today is Easter, so it’s time to dust off the Christological archives and look at some more Christianity-related posts:

  • He is Risen!” (and “TBT: He is Risen!“) – Any Easter compilation has to include this post (and its TBT reblog), a simple celebration of the Resurrection.  This one will become a perennial reblog, I’m sure, as long as I keep this self-indulgent blog going.
  • The God Pill” (and “TBT: The God Pill“); “The God Pill, Part II“; “The God Pill, Part III” – These posts would make a really good Lazy Sunday (like “Lazy Sunday XXXIV – The Desperate Search for Meaning Series“), and out of increasing desperation to cobble together compilations, I’ll likely do it one week, with greater detail about each individual post.  Suffice it to say, though, that these essays reflect on the remarkable conversion of Roosh V to Christianity.  Roosh gave up his life of meaningless romantic trysts—and lucrative book sales—for Jesus.  Pretty amazing stuff.
  • The Joy of Hymnals” (and “The Lo-Fi Hymnal“) – I’ve been linking to this post more lately as I’m shamelessly turning My Father’s Blog into a den of thieves, promoting my hastily-compiled release The Lo-Fi Hymnal (just $4!).  But I also sincerely enjoy playing hymns at church; it’s one of the things I most miss about The Age of The Virus.  My tentative plan was to record some more cellphone hymns on my parents’ old upright piano, but the key bed is so gummy from lack of maintenance, half of the keys aren’t playable (sorry for calling you out, Mom).

That’s it for today.  Happy Easter!  He is Risen!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Lazy Sunday XLII: 2019’s Top Five Posts

2019 is winding down, and with this being the last Sunday of the year, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to look back at the most popular posts of 2019.

These posts aren’t necessarily the best posts—although that’s an entirely subjective measure—just the ones that received the most hits.

When looking through the most popular posts, there were a few surprises.  One thing I’ve learned from blogging is that posts I pour my heart and soul into may walk away with five views (and, oftentimes, only one!).  Then other posts that I dash off in a hurry to make my self-imposed daily goal take off like Rossini rockets, garnering dozens of hits.

Some of that is timing and promotion.  I find that the posts I have ready to launch at 6:30 AM do better on average.  But some generous linkbacks from WhatFinger.com really created some surprises here at the end of the year, surpassing even the exposure I received from Milo Yiannopoulos.  Writing posts about hot, current news items, the dropping links about said items in the comment sections of prominent news sites, also helps drive traffic, but I often lack the time required to do such “planting” (and it is a practice that can come across as spammy if not done with finesse).

Some posts take on a life of their own; I see consistent daily traffic from one of the posts on this list, “Tom Steyer’s Belt.”  Apparently, a bunch of people are as mystified as I am with Steyer’s goofy, virtue-signalling belt.

Well, it’s certainly been an adventure.  And while it may be premature—there are still two days left in the year!—here are the Top Five Posts of 2019:

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The Invasion and Alienation of the South

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the changing, dying rural communities I observed on a trip through western South Carolina.  You’re not supposed to say as much, but I don’t like that the culture and the world I grew up in are changing.  I’m not sure when it became taboo to say, “This is my home and these are my kin,” but apparently that’s no longer acceptable if you’re a conservative Christian in the American South, especially if you’re a white man.

Around the time I wrote that post, I stumbled upon two excellent posts from the Abbeville Institute that express that sentiment beautifully.  One, “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Leslie Alexander, is a poetic, heartbreaking glimpse at a personal sense of alienation:  the writer, a Louisiana native with deep roots, finds herself adrift in Dallas, a land that lacks not only has “no regional culture here—one of common language, mores and manners–there is not even an American one.”

The other, from Nicole Williams, is a more technical and historical dive into the emergence of the “New South,” the story of how an economically devastated postbellum region, in a search for economic opportunity, ultimately sold its culture and identity for a mess of pottage.  The title says it all:  “What Price Prosperity?

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Flashback Friday: The Desperate Search for Meaning

Seeing as yesterday was Halloween, I skipped the usual TBT feature to write about one of my favorite holidays.  Never one to waste effort, though, I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to copy-paste old material.  Even I need a break once a week.

So it is that we come to our first ever “Flashback Friday.”  Double-F won’t be a regular feature, but for those times when Thursdays warrant a fresh post, I’ll have this dubious quasi-featurette to assure I don’t have to spend too much time blogging at the end of a long week (seriously, knowing that Thursday’s post is an “easy” one usually helps, as Wednesdays are usually killer for me).

Being the Halloween season, I thought it would be worth looking back at one of the first posts in a currently four-part series (I, II, III, and IV), “The Desperate Search for Meaning.”  The series explores the various futile ways in which Westerners today attempt to find meaning in life without Christ, as well as the shockingly neo-pagan ideas that are regaining ground in our spiritually lost and fallen world.

The original post looked at a New Age fraud, Audrey Kitching, and the gullible, desperate women who literally slaved to help this snake-oil saleswoman sell cheap Chinese crap (if I ever try to sell any merchandise through this site, I promise I will not pitch Portly Politico: The Mug as having curative properties—it’ll just be a crummy mug with the blog’s name on it).  It’s a heartbreaking commentary on people’s willingness to ruin their lives just for the fleeting sensation of being a part of something bigger than themselves—filling their God-hole with Internet detritus instead of Christ.

So, without further soul-searching, here is “The Desperate Search for Meaning“:

Despite this post’s lofty title, the focus is somewhat narrow.  Many Christians and other people of faith believe there is an innate desire in all humans to believe in something higher than themselves—God.  I’ve heard this desire inelegantly (but accurately) described as a “God-hole,” a hole that cannot be filled with anything other than the Divine.

The West today is awash in cynicism and nihilism, and an aggressive form of anti-religious sentiment.  Just witness the amusing, angry lengths to which strident Internet atheists will go to denounce religious (almost always specifically Christian) beliefs.  It’s pedantic to write, but it bears repeating:  atheists ironically fill their “God-hole” with the religion of hating and/or denying God’s Existence.

The net effect of this existential nihilism is manifest in abundant ways:  high suicide rates, debased morality and behavior, the destruction of the family, and spiritual emptiness and confusion.  We overthrew God—or at least, we tried to remove Him from our lives—but the void, the “God-hole,” within us remains.

Nature abhors a vacuum, so something is going to fill that hole.  It was with interest, then, that I read this piece from The Daily Dot that I stumbled upon while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one day.  The piece is about a “healer” and lifestyle blogger named Audrey Kitching, who by all accounts is a duplicitous fraud:  she resells cheap Chinese jewelry at a huge markup, billing them as “energy crystals” and the like, and her gullible followers/victims eagerly lap it up.

What caught my attention, though, was not that a woman was trading on her looks and Instagram filters to build an online business, but rather the women who sacrificed their lives and good sense to someone who is, essentially, a bubblegum-haired freak with a penchant for codependent, psychologically abusive relationships.  Kitching convinced one of her employees to sever all ties with her family for a full year, and essentially used the poor, misguided woman as slave labor.

Men seem to succumb to the supposed “logic” of atheism, priding themselves on their assumed intellectual superiority for refusing to believe in anything beyond themselves.  Women, on the other hand, love quasi-spiritual garbage like Kitching’s baubles (it’s humorous reading how allegedly “legitimate” healers are opposed to Kitching for diminishing their corner on the medium/spiritualist market—I guess she’s not in their Scammers Guild).

Kitchings and her ilk—palm readers, dime-store oracles, astrologers, “good witches,” etc.—offer spirituality on the cheap:  all the “feel-good” stuff about loving other people and being part of the Universe, without any of the obligations—forming a family, living chastely and soberly, etc.  In the absence of strong men and strong institutions—namely the Church—and in an age of #MeToo feminism and “you go grrrrrl”-ism, women are easy prey for bubbly charlatans (if you’ve followed Hulu’s Into the Dark horror anthology, the fourth installment, “New Year, New You,” beautifully satirizes this kind of Instagram-friendly quasi-spirituality—and its horrifying consequences).

Don’t get me wrong:  I don’t discount this stuff out of hand.  Indeed, I believe we’re always struggling against principalities and demonic forces, which is precisely why we should take this seriously.  Witchcraft and its associated branches are a real spiritual threat, and we’re losing a generation of women (and soy-boyish men) to a new wave of New Age spirituality and feel-good bullcrap.  It’s most insidious in the Church (by which I mean broadly all of Christianity, although I think High Protestant churches are particularly susceptible to this kind of infiltration), where its pernicious influence is far more subtle.

But the rise of witchcraft and other forms of knock-off spiritualism represent physical and metaphysical dangers.  Metaphysically, we shouldn’t be messing around with the spiritual world outside of our relationship with Christ.  Just look at what happened to King Saul when he consulted with the witch at Endor.

Physically, men and women are debasing themselves in the name of a “if it feels good, do it” mentality in a desperate attempt to fill their empty “God-holes.”  Women are literally prostituting themselves via Instagram—a terrifying intersection of online media attention-whoring and real-life whoring.  That kind of cheapness only comes in a culture that discourages traditional values and encourages riotousness and spiritual rebellion.

I always warn my students—I’m sure they occasionally roll their eyes—not to mess around with the spiritual world.  Angels are real—but so are demons.  And Satan always comes clothed in light—and shiny Snapchat filters.

The Desperate Search for Meaning IV: Vanity

Continuing with yesterday’s churchy theme, today’s post deals with a sermon my pastor gave Sunday morning.  Pastor Monday (yep, that’s his name) gave an interesting sermon on one of my favorite books of the Bible, Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes is a unique book in that it is a philosophical treatise.  That’s not to say the rest of the Bible is devoid of philosophy—far from it—but King Solomon’s goal in Ecclesiastes is to find the meaning of life from reason and experience, eschewing the supernatural.

In other words, Solomon seeks to find meaning in life without God.

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