The Ascendance of Christian Radio

An interesting bit of data:  Christian radio gained the most number of stations in 2019.  Ninety-two of those stations were designated simply as “Religion” stations, while another sixty-one were “Contemporary Christian.”  That’s even with “Southern Gospel” and “Black Gospel” losing stations (eleven and five, respectively).

That puts “Religion” in second place, coming in behind the popular “Country” format and beating out my favorite, “News/Talk.”  That’s pretty substantial growth.

Could that upswing be a sign of greater faith?  I’m not so sure.  It does seem heartening that Christian radio is gaining stations; presumably, owners wouldn’t establish religious stations or change existing stations to that format if listeners aren’t there.

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Milo on Romantic Music

The Christmas season always gets me excited for music, because there are so many wonderful carols and hymns about the birth of Jesus.  I will write more on the topic of Christmas carols later on in the month, but today I wanted to touch on a really niche topic:  Milo Yiannopoulos‘s love of Romantic-era music.

What got me on this topic is not just my musical mood; it was an epic Telegram thread Milo had going about… classical music.

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Lazy Sunday XXXIV: The Desperate Search for Meaning Series

Next to Halloween and Christmas, today is the most wonderful of the year—it’s the day that the clock falls back an hour!  Sure, that means I’ll never see the sun for the next few months, as I’ll spend the dwindling daylight hours inside a classroom, but at least I got an extra hour of sleep this morning.

This week saw a good bit of reflecting on what is important in life (like ghost stories), so I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on “The Desperate Search for Meaning” series of posts.  It will also help to aggregate those posts into one place.

  • The Desperate Search for Meaning” – The post that started this impromptu series (and the subject of this week’s Flashback Friday featurette), this essay was about a New Age healer, Audrey Kitching, who exploited vulnerable women into working in slave-like conditions.  Kitching bamboozled these women with her gauzy, neo-spiritualist babble; her thin sense of meaning of belonging roped them in, as they desperately attempted to fill a void in their lives—and that doesn’t even include all the women who bought Kitching’s fraudulent products.  It’s a sad story, one I think is indicative of our times.
  • The Desperate Search for Meaning, Part II” – This piece was about a crazy old lady who believes that cancer can be extruded from the body through a series of energy-channeling motions—at least on the surface.  The real focus was that, while this old loon was going through her bizarre ritual, she espoused a cult of death:  having babies is bad because of overpopulation.  It’s the religion of environmentalism, one of the several cults of modern progressivism.  It is a deadly ideology that is, essentially, anti-human.
  • The Desperate Search for Meaning, Part III: Progressive Power Crystal” – This post looked at an LA Times piece on New Age spirituality, and how it was replacing traditional Christianity as the “faith” of young Americans.  That’s all tied up with progressivism’s imperial and totalitarian ambitions—all off these anti-Christian, anti-American movements are of a piece, serving similar ends.  As I write at the end of the post:

    “Even if our elites aren’t specifically Satanists, they’re certainly not Christians.  Their religion is progressivism, an jumble of ideologies that, at bottoms, rejects Christianity and its view of human nature.  Their gods are power and envy—just like Lucifer.”

  • The Desperate Search for Meaning IV: Vanity” – This piece pulled from a sermon my pastor gave on Ecclesiastes, one of my favorite books of the Bible.  Ecclesiastes is a work of philosophy, in which King Solomon examines his life and finds that all of his pursuits are, ultimately, meaningless:  he will die, and everything he experienced and built will eventually disappear.  Therefore, his only true meaning comes through God.  It’s the earliest form of Christian existentialism ever written (with apologies to Søren Kierkegaard).  It’s also a powerful reminder that this world, in which we are so involved, is fleeting.

That’s it for this Sunday.  Going back through this posts really makes my soul ache for the people that fall for New Age nonsense and neo-paganism.  Good thing I’ve found the One True Faith—the Southern branch of the Free Will Baptist denomination. 😀

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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.

Losing the Faith

I’ve written quite a bit about the “God hole” in modern Western life, and how that place—intended for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit—is being filled with everything but.  We desperately search for meaning wherever we can find it—politics (for the progressives and some conservatives), witchcraft, power crystals, celebrity, money, sex, etc.

Part of this state of affairs stems from the persistent onslaught of postmodern, relativistic ideas that permeate our culture, so much so that they effectively infiltrate even our churches.  The ethos of “if it feels good, do it” sinisterly insinuates itself into Christian teachings in a form of Christology that reduces Jesus to a spiritual boyfriend who is unfailingly supportive of our bad life choices.

But Jesus is not a soy boy, and Christianity is not a pick-and-choose faith that is copacetic with sin.

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Rudyard Kipling’s “The Mother Hive”

To start yesterday’s History of Conservative Thought class, I had students skim through Rudyard Kipling’s 1908 short story “The Mother Hive.”  I stumbled upon the reading in our class text, Russell Kirk’s The Portable Conservative Reader.

It is a grim little fable that warns about the perils of progressivism infiltrating a proud but weakened nation.  In the story, a deadly wax-moth sneaks into a large but bedraggled beehive during a moment of confusion.  She quickly steals away to the cell of the youngest bees, who have yet to take their first flight.  There, she fills their impressionable heads with gentle words and promises of a glorious future, all while covertly laying her eggs.

One young bee, Melissa, who has just returned from her first flight, is suspicious of the beautiful stranger’s soothing words, but the wax-moth plays the victim and insists that she’s only spreading her “principles,” not the eggs of her hungry future children.

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TPP Review: First Half of 2019

It’s been a busy week for yours portly as I’ve been on uncle duty.  The little ones are back to their folks, and TPP is wiping away the baby spittle and Cheerios dust—and, hopefully, getting back on schedule.

This Monday, July 1 will kick off #MAGAWeek2019, which will be a SubscribeStar exclusiveJust subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more to get access to these posts about the men, women, and ideas that made America great [again]!  And don’t forget tomorrow is SubscribeStar Saturday, the day of the week subscribers get a post just for them.

July 1 will also mark the halfway point of this year, so I thought I’d use tonight’s post to do a little looking back.  This post will be the 180th consecutive post, which means I have an entire secondary school academic year’s worth of posts in 2019.  I might should start compiling those into a book—the Portly Manifesto, perhaps?

Regardless, here are the five most viewed posts of 2019 up to this point.  Enjoy!

5.) “Nehemiah and National Renewal” – Not only is this post about Nehemiah, the great leader of the Israelites who coordinated the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s dilapidated walls in the face of overwhelming opposition, a reader favorite; it’s one of my favorites as well.  Nehemiah trusted in God, and when God commanded him to rebuild the walls, Nehemiah did so faithfully.  The parallels with the Trumpean program of building a wall and seeking national renewal are hard to miss.  I also wrote a fairly popular follow-up to this post, which explores the spiritual aspects of Nehemiah more thoroughly.

4.) “Hump Day Hoax” – This post garnered a great deal of attention because I linked to it in the “comments” section of GOPUSA, a conservative news and opinion website.  The site featured a piece on my adopted home town’s mayor, who claimed that the heavy pollen on her car was part of a deliberate hate crime.  You can’t make this stuff up.  In the wake of the Jussie Smollett hoax, it seemed at the time like Her Dishonor the Mayor was grasping for some race-based discrimination fame of her own.  I’m pretty sure my mayor reported the story to Newsweek herself, even though county and State law enforcement confirmed that the mystery substance was, indeed, pollen.  Gesundheit!

3.) “Secession Saturday” – This post explored the totalitarian nature of Leftism, particularly the idea that, should our cold cultural civil war ever turn hot, the Left would never allow for a peaceful separation.  Even though they hate us, part of that hate is due to their unwillingness to let us live our lives as we see fit.  As such, there would never be an amicable parting of ways, because progressives can’t stand for people to disagree with them.

2.) “Gay Totalitarianism” – This piece pulled from—as all of my best posts do—the excellent American Greatness website.  It explored a couple of hoaxes involving gays or lesbians concocting incidents of violence to garner media attention and fawning support, all in the service of pushing an increasingly unhinged queer agenda.  Jussie Smollett’s ability to stage a ridiculously clumsy “hate crime” against himself, then to walk scot-free, shows how being gay, black, and famous serves as a talisman against even criminal prosecution.

1.) “The Desperate Search for Meaning” – The most popular post of this year owes its popularity to clicks from Dalrock’s blog.  I posted the link to it in a comment on one of his pieces, and his superior content and traffic spilled over to this piece, which focused on the antics of a New Age charlatan and her female acolytes.  The posts discusses how people (and, in this context, specifically women) are desperately searching for something deeper than empty materialism, to the point that they will endure abuse and slave-like work conditions for the chance to be close to someone offering spiritual fulfillment, even if it’s counterfeit.

So, there you have it.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog this year.  Here’s hoping I can keep the momentum going.

Happy Fourth of July!

–TPP

The Decline of Religion in America

A frequent topic of this blog is religion, specifically Christianity, and its influence on American society and Western Civilization.  Many of the problems we face as a nation are the result not only of bad government policy or dangerous ideologies, but are metaphysical and spiritual in nature.  As Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (KJV)

As such, two pieces caught my eye this week, both dealing with the decline of religion in the West generally and the United States specifically.  One is from Dissident Right blogger Z Man, “Religion Versus Capitalism“; the other is a syndicated column by Daniel Davis, “America is Still Highly Religious, So Why Do We Keep Liberalizing?”  Both offer different answers to the question posed by the latter question.

For Davis, the problem is that, while Americans are more religious than our European counterparts, and that we say we want a greater role for religion in society, our theology is bad—infected (my term) by the social justice and Cultural Marxist platitudes of our age.

Americans embrace “feel-good Christianity,” what I call the “Buddy Christ” version of our faith:  Jesus was just a cool hippie who wanted everybody to love each other, man.  In this distorted version of the Gospel, sin isn’t a grave threat, but simply “missing the mark”—you’ll do better next time, kiddo.  Keep practicing sinning and eventually you’ll hit that mark!

(I’ve actually heard this argument from some Evangelical preachers, mostly of the hip, non-denominational type.  They get so caught up in the root of the word “sin” as “missing the mark” in the context of target practice, they inadvertently give blanket license to sin, as grace is abundant, so God will forgive you—an early heresy that the Apostle Paul addressed directly.  “Missing the mark” trivializes the gravity of sin, making it sound like “oops! My bad!”  If the “mark” is righteousness, then missing the mark is pretty serious.)

Davis points out the pitfalls of this “feel-good Christianity,” and our propensity to make God fit our worldview, instead of us trying to accept and embrace His:

What we have in America is a radical separation of God from “reality”—the real world that we claim to live in. It’s not that we reject “God” per se, but we reject a God who comes with a certified worldview package—a God who orders the universe, sets moral norms, defines our being, and binds our consciences to a moral code in this world—today.

We’ve kept God, but jettisoned the traditional package.

The problem is, this is almost the same as rejecting God completely. If believing in God has no impact on the way we view realities in this world—whether they be gender, marriage, or who counts as a person worthy of dignity and respect—then what God are we even worshipping?

Could it be that the atheists are right when they accuse us of worshipping a God of our own making?

Davis also links to a website, The State of Theology, which highlights the disconnect between professions of faith and what Christians—including Evangelicals!—actually believe.  Part of the problem is “feel-good” theology, but a big part is simple biblical ignorance.  Americans pay lip service, according to The State of Theology, to core precepts of Christianity, but don’t seem to understand them at a deeper level or apply them to their daily lives.

Z Man—who I believe is Catholic and Catholic-educated, though he stated in one podcast that he hasn’t been to church in years—approaches the problem from a different angle.  He argues, essentially, that the proliferation of capitalist materialism is at odds, fundamentally, with Christianity and other religions, and the West has embraced materialism as its true faith.

He also links the decline of religion to a decline in fertility rates, and notes that as nations have become more integrated in the global economy, they’ve become less religious and less fertile.  There are myriad possible explanations for declining birthrates in developed societies, but Z Man’s theory is intriguing.  As material wealth increases and the profit motive becomes the “highest good,” religiosity declines.  With the decline of traditional religious values comes less of an emphasis on family formation.

For Z Man, the problem is that we worship materialism—he argues that libertarianism is the irrational, passionate “religion” of capitalistic materialism—in place of God.  To quote his piece at length:

In a system where the highest good is a profit, then all other considerations must be secondary. Lying, for example, is no longer strictly prohibited. The seller will no longer feel obligated to disclose everything to the buyer. The seller will exaggerate his claims about his product or service. Buyers, of course, will seek to lock in sellers into one way contracts based on information unknown the other seller. The marketplace, at its most basic level, is a game of liar’s poker, where all sides hope to fool the other.

Religion, in contrast, also assumes certain things about people, but seeks to mitigate and ameliorate them. Generally speaking, religion assumes the imperfection of man and sees that imperfection as the root cause of human suffering. While those imperfections cannot be eliminated, the negative effects can be reduced through moral codes, contemplation and the full understanding of one’s nature. Religions, outside of some extreme cults, are not about altering the nature of man, but rather the acceptance of it.

I would argue that capitalism does not necessarily lead to liars—how do you build business if you gain a reputation for dishonesty?—but capitalism definitely needs the traditionalism of orthodox religion to work for long.  In the absence of the moral framework that socially and religiously conservative values supply, capitalism can easily become an orgiastic free-for-all of mendacious exchanges and swindling.

Indeed, China’s autocratic capitalism is a prime example of a state using the mechanism of capitalism in a moral vacuum to aggrandize its own power.  Wags and particularists will argue that China’s system is not true capitalism, but rather a corporatist perversion, which is certainly accurate—but the United States has its share of cronyistic arrangements.  To be clear, there is a world of difference separating China’s increasingly totalitarian brand of corporatism and America’s more mundane system of well-heeled lobbyists, but the Chinese example clearly demonstrates what happens when you value pure materialism at the expense of everything else.

While I don’t completely accept Z Man’s analysis, I do think he makes a solid point.  Christians should never subvert true faith in Christ to the false god of capitalist materialism.  Indeed, such faith is merely the more benign face of a two-sided Marxist coin.

Both unbridled libertarianism and full-throated Communism are premised on a materialist worldview that discounts the metaphysical.  The former allows religion to exist as a largely private, subjective concern, so long as it doesn’t get too insistent about its truth claims.  The latter seeks to destroy any loyalty to anything other than the state—or the “Party,” or “Dear Leader,” etc.  The former is certainly preferable to the latter, but both ultimately will leave followers unfulfilled.

The Church—Orthodox, Catholic, High Protestant, Evangelical Protestant, etc.—needs to commit itself fully to foundational biblical Truth.  We should be reading and debating Augustus and Aquinas, not to mention the Gospels and Paul’s Epistles.  Preachers need to move beyond the mega-church formula of glossy advertising campaigns, Sunday morning rock concerts, and blandly inoffensive, pop-culture-laden sermons.

Instead, unabashedly proclaim the Gospel.  Denounce abortion from the pulpit.  Call out homosexuality.  Call out radical Islamism and progressivism as the existential threats they are to Western Civilization.  Deus Vult!

He is Risen!

Happy Easter to everyone!  Today’s post is another short one for this important holiday weekend (it also marks sixteen weeks of daily posts—shew!).

Jesus Christ died for our sins around 2000 years ago, and was resurrected three days later.  Today, Christians all over the world celebrate His death and resurrection, and eagerly await His eventual return.

According to Scott Rasmussen, 74% of Americans will celebrate Easter today, but only 40% of Americans will attend church (but, hey, that’s better than nothing).  He also writes that 67% of Americans believe Jesus Christ arose from the dead—one of the more heartening statistics I’ve read in awhile, considering Pat Buchanan’s recent piece about our declining public morality.

This Easter, I’m praying for national and spiritual renewal for America and the West.  Part of that is the need for revival across our nation.

Enjoy a day of fellowship and family.  And if you have time, check out my old “Lazy Sunday” compilation of pieces about Christianity.

Happy Easter!

–TPP