Wall St. Journal caught napping . . .

. . . in a few places espied by eagle-eyed reader: 

  • “. . . dignity that comes from being recognized for who they are”? No, from being approved of, as it happens, nothing less.
  • “. . . don’t want to be listened to” but “to be heard”? Other way around! You can be heard if loud enough, listened to only if others pay attention.

— Both from “China’s Challenge to Democracy” by David Runciman, Cambridge don arguing strength of Chinese “pragmatic authoritarianism” vs. U.S. democracy, in which, unfortunately, precision limps. We expect more from such an elite venue.


  • “. . . these sorts of programs . . .” Wait. You’re talking of one sort. What others do you have in mind? And how many? Standard illogic blooper.
  • “. . . two different programs . . . “? Not two identical ones? Oh.

— Both from “Starbucks’s Troubles Can Be a Test for Anti-Bias Training: Does It Work?” by two psychologists, Christopher Chabris and Matthew Brown, discussing the race-sensitivity program to be implemented by Starbucks on a scheduled work holiday.

In which essay, the uber-common infelicities given above distract from well-aimed analysis and recommendations.

May we ask also, whatever the training program, will another side of the story be offered? Any defense at all or mitigating circumstances of allegedly unfair treatment based on race? That maybe it was not unfair at all? Such would be crucial to presenting the case to presumably teachable though untutored trainees?

You have to get them on your side to sell (convince) them. And it is a sales pitch here, like any training program calling for persuasion, not a close-ended indoctrination session.

The Pope: Do not remain prisoners of ideas, open yourselves to new things

Consider your bicycle.

In Santa Marta [his Vatican City house], Francis warns against the risk of “rigidity”, “There are those who ‘distill’ the law and transform it into ideology”. “The Church is like a bike in equilibrium, if it stops it falls down”

It’s his pitch for an ever-changing church. All is flux to Francis? Like Heraclitus, who was active around 500 B.C. and is . . . 

. . . best known for his doctrines that things are constantly changing (universal flux), that opposites coincide (unity of opposites), and that fire is the basic material of the world.

The exact interpretation of these doctrines is controversial, as is the inference often drawn from this theory that in the world as Heraclitus conceives it contradictory propositions must be true.

We sincerely hope not, though Francis has an oracular way about him and as quick a draw of a metaphor as we have seen for a long time, in or out of papal office. But what of this?

. . . the Pontiff warns against the risk of “rigidity”, which leads to placing oneself at the center and thus remain untouched before the works of the Holy Spirit and insensitive to new things.

Well, it’s a generic enough statement. And who wants to be rigid? But can it be that he’s gone oracular again, using a phrase familar to him:

The doctors of the law [not found in John 8: 51-59, his text for the day], [he said]. . .  were incapable of “discerning the signs of the times”.


They were slaves of words and ideas, Bergoglio [in an Italian publication, where familiarity breeds if not contempt, then a shorthand usage which we Americans eschew] observes in his homily reported by Vatican News.

“Slaves of words and ideas.” Red lights flashing. Slaves. What’s worse?

“They keep going back to the same questions [we’re dying to know some of these, but he’s holding back about it], they are incapable of leaving that closed world, they are prisoners of ideas.

We get it. And we will figure out what those ideas are, don’t worry.

They received a law that was life but they “distilled” it, they transformed it into ideology and thus they toss and turn it and are unable to move beyond. Anything new for them is a threat.”

These are people in a bad way. Let us not be deceived by them. But tell us, Francis, who they are. Please.

Now as a matter of fact, someone has ventured in that very direction. He is the noted “Fr. Z,” Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, regarding a March, 2015 homily. in which he offered a comment, “a snip from an off-the-cuff, non-Magisterial remark,” in which Francis spoke “disparaging words about ‘doctors of the law.’”

Someting was missing, he thought. The very thing I am wondering:

. . . it seems to me that he has set up a straw man: who the heck are these “doctors of the law” whom he has been disparaging with some frequency?

I think he means those who argue that people who are divorced and civilly remarried should not be admitted to Holy Communion because they are objectively living in a state that is inconsistent with our understanding of the Eucharist.

But he won’t come out and say so. It’s not what you want in a homily anyhow, hearing about someone the homilist resents. But Francis does it a lot. He did it in 2015, he did it just the other day.

It’s unseemly. His objectors have registered “dubia,” roughly doubts, about Francis’ read on the state of things as regards marriage the sacrament. He feels put upon but does not answer these “doubts,” these requests for clarification. Why the heck not?

Who knows?

via The Pope: not to remain prisoners of ideas, let’s open ourselves to new things – La Stampa