Letters From an Unusual Time

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Start Off With a Book Recommend

I was curious if you’ve read White Guilt by Shelby Steele? I didn’t see it on your reading log, but I think you’d enjoy it. It’s not a long read either. It has so much explanatory power for what is going on in the world today. I commend it to you and your readers.

Dan

Dan, thanks. I love book recommendations, and no, I have not read that one. Thanks.

Mask Questions

RE:Discredited Down to the Ground You appear to be entirely correct, and I applaud you heartily.

My question, since I’ve heard about some of the Moscow governmental shenanigans is, will you go to jail or pay the fine for not wearing a mask in public? I’m truly not trying to be snarky, or trap you in any way. I’m just genuinely curious how you’re handling the rock and the hard place you’ve been situated between.

Thank you,

RK

RK, it depends on what situation develops. Thus far we have been able to navigate almost entirely mask-free, the exceptions being private establishments that require it. And for that, some of the women in our clan bought some burkas.

I was wondering if you could comment on abiding by mask mandates that are issued by private businesses. I have been cheerfully disregarding the mask mandate from the local government and am completely on board for the reasons you have given. At the same time I am finding that local businesses are almost all requiring masks before entering.

I want to respect the property rights of private entities. If a gas station says “No shirt, no shoes, no service” my understanding is that I have two options: I can wear a shirt and shoes, or I can take my business elsewhere. Even if I think the store’s requirements are absurd (wear a useless mask, wear clown shoes, etc.), my current thinking is that they have the right to set those parameters and I can choose whether to do business with them or not.

In practice this means I end up wearing a mask in all the local businesses that require it which makes up 80% of my time out in public. Have I missed something?

Matt

Matt, no, I don’t think you have missed anything. Private businesses should have the right to set the conditions of service. But I would make a further distinction. Some stores really want you to abide by the masking order, in which case you should comply if you need to buy something there. Other stores, particularly larger ones, just need to post a sign so that the government (or private busybodies) don’t hassle them. I have gone into multiple establishments like that without a mask, and nobody says anything because they don’t really care.

I absolutely agree with your statements on masks and edicts in Plodcast 150. But how do we deal with their trump card: “You can pass this while asymptomatic”? If we’re all potentially infected, they’ve silenced our arguments against the limits of edicts. (I suspect they’re well aware of this loophole…)

Jana

Jana, yes. Invisible virus, invisible symptoms, invisible conditions, and very visible demands.

“We either reverse direction entirely or we do not. If we do not, you have already seen the previews. If you don’t like the trailers, as I sure don’t, then I would advise you go see a different movie in November.” Also, I think this phenomenal line has to be in the top ten of all Doug Wilson-isms.

Guymon

Guymon, thanks.

Challenges in Churches

Thank you for the consistency on teaching the whole counsel of God’s Word. I am writing to ask you what a man should do when his church has fallen for the lie of Critical Race Theory as a good tool along with a bend towards being woke. Our church is PCA and essentially our local church is following the lead from the PCA leadership. I have met with both of the staff elders and sought to understand why this has been seen to be good. Essentially they decided that we can disagree on that even though the social justice view has been part of every sermon since the George Floyd tragedy.

We have also fallen prey to not meeting together and have no formal plans or date to open. I have offered my help to set things up for an outdoor service and requested that we find a way to take the Lord’s Supper together . . . all to no avail. It feels as if we are only doing what is comfortable and easy instead of being obedient to the Lord. Fear of man seems to be driving the decisions. My family has grown in the Gospel through the years that we have been members but the events of the past year have revealed much more and even when I have sought clarity and confronted the social justice and critical race theory, there doesn’t seem to be any openness to change course.

I really don’t know whether to stay and fight or to leave. Others in the church including deacons and elders have left or resigned from their positions. It’s difficult for me to discern what we should do and since we don’t have any other Reformed or Presbyterian churches locally, it’s even harder. We have a young family (3 children under 6) and I want us to be planted and watered by God’s Word. I have a Biblical Studies degree and love the Word of God and so part of me wonders if God might be leading to start a home Bible study which I have done before as well as lead small groups.

Ultimately, I’m asking if there’s a line in the sand that we should draw before leaving? Or seeing as they have gone down the woke church route already, is that time upon us? Is it right to start a home Bible study in the midst of all of this?

May the Lord continue to bless and use you.

Jeremy

Jeremy, I obviously am not there and don’t know all the variables, but from the way you describe it, it seems to me that they have made their decisions already. And yes, you want your children to grow up nourished by the Word, which is why it seems time to go.

I am a bi-vocational pastor at a small rural church in Montana. I earn most of my family’s living by working full time on the maintenance crew at a nearby hospital. My job requires me to move throughout the hospital as well as the attached nursing care facility. I would lose my job if I did not wear a mask at work. My supervisor started out skeptical about COVID, but has since become adamant that our team even mask in public.

Our congregation, like most rural ones, is not too keen on masking. But our county falls under the new masking mandate from our governor. In the pulpit, as a public speaker, I am not required by the state to wear a mask, but otherwise I would be. And everyone else in a public space (the church sanctuary) is supposed to mask now.

From your standpoint, should I ignore the state mandate and give a pass to those in the church who don’t want to mask? Would you urge me to mask personally, but let it slide for others at church ignoring the mandate? Or do you think that, given the unique spot I’m in, I should push for all to mask?

This is not a clever fictional scenario, but quite literally the situation I am in. Our elders have spoken regarding this and we have a path forward. I am genuinely curious what you would do though.

David

David, I think your other employment means that you could mask, except when you are preaching, but I would let everyone know that this is why you are doing it. I would not require the parishioners to mask up during worship. They may do so if they wish, but I would not have the elders become the enforcers of the state’s order.

I am a big fan of yours and thank God for your ministry and faithfulness to Scripture! I love the “Ask Doug” videos and your satirical wit. My question regards the limits of authority of civil government to quarantine individuals.

I know you have said the government has the authority to quarantine sick individuals, not healthy individuals, a la Levitical law.

What if COVID was truly as deadly as the bubonic plague? A boy in Mongolia has died from the bubonic plague and it may be returning. Do the civil authorities have the right to mandate quarantine of healthy individuals in such a circumstance? Is this the case of an obvious emergency that everyone understands and consents to the government’s actions?

Cheerfully,

Liam

Liam, if we had a situation where it was obvious that such measures were called for, they wouldn’t need to be mandated.

I can’t thank you enough for your consistent biblical worldview over all areas of life and I am grateful to God for your courage. I am a pastor in Virginia and the Lord has used you to help shape my thinking on pastoral ministry more than I could articulate here. I did want some guidance on one particular issue as it relates to masks. Yesterday, our Governor (Northam), wagged his finger at the state of VA, and particularly the area I pastor and threatened to issue an order to close down any business that is not enforcing the wearing of masks. Just to give more context (which of course you probably know). This is the same Governor protesting in the streets who now blames businesses for the “spike” in COVID-19 cases. So my question is this and it is two-fold: 1. How should I shepherd my people to think through this and 2. Is wearing a mask now loving the business owner? In other words, is my not wearing a mask putting the business owners in my local church at jeopardy?

Joey

Joey, yes. Businesses are more vulnerable to government pressure and oversight, so I would not do anything that would get them in trouble — unless it is trouble they want to be in. And remember that widespread non-compliance is much more difficult for them to deal with than with an occasional outlier.

I have enjoyed all of your mask posts and sympathize with much of it. For a time, I was disobeying the mask mandate in Pennsylvania. I did so because I believe masks to be virtually ineffective. This is especially true when you take into account the poor mask hygiene that virtually any mask wearer is guilty of.

I made my position known to my elders and we had a level-headed discussion on the matter. I have since been swayed to the position that us under the authority of Pennsylvania ought to comply with the mask mandate and even the isolation orders. This “ought” is due to a poorly thought out, open-ended PA code which does have authority over us. If it were just a whim of the governor then I and the disagreeing elders would have all been happily and openly disobeying the mask mandate in the general public however this does appear to be a legitimate move the governor can make.

This is the section of the code in question:

“Upon the receipt by a local board or department of health or by the department, as the case may be, of a report of a disease which is subject to isolation, quarantine, or any other control measure, the local board or department of health or the department shall carry out the appropriate control measures in such manner and in such place as is provided by rule or regulation.”

35 Pa. Stat. § 521.5

The open-ended “control measures” has no definition throughout the document and the referenced “Rules and Regulations” is just as vague.

“(5) the enforcement of isolation, quarantine and other control measures;” 35 Pa. Stat. § 521.16

We can both agree that the type of isolation and quarantining that was imposed is not so as defined in the code but a “quarantine” of the healthy and the masking of the public seems to be permissible under “other control measures”. As much as I do not want to submit to the mandate, at this point it seems like the proper response is to obey and fight this legislatively.

Chuck

Chuck, I would still kick. I agree that your code is ambiguous, but the ambiguity can be appealed to by both sides. It does not say “other control measures,” but rather “appropriate control measures.” These measures are more than inappropriate. They are insane.

Adjusting the Parable

I sympathize with your argument but I think a better strategy for the mask issue is comparable to the Patriots taking an intentional safety against Denver back in 2003 so that they could get better field position. I’d rather wait for a time when we have the opposing team stuck behind their own 20 instead of at a mid-field advantage. In your parable of the entitled brat showing up with his shoes untied, the school would have done better to wait another week and caught him smoking weed in the girl’s locker room.

Nathan

Nathan, that could be better. But in my experience that is not how it usually goes. The success of your plan requires the cooperation of the villain.

Us Lions

I’m a pastor and aspiring writer and I have been captured by the way you and C.S. Lewis both write. It seems to bring the reader into the content and whether I agree or not, I find myself constantly wanting to read more of both of you. I think this is owed in part to your wordsmithing. I saw a video where you gave a tour of your library and you mentioned there was a section devoted to this topic. I was wondering if you might address additional books (beyond Wordsmithy, which I have) that might be good suggested reading on wordsmithing. Thank you!

Jon

Jon, me and C.S. Lewis, eh? The temptation here is to run around like that lion in Wardrobe saying, “Did you hear that? He said us lions.” As to your question, in my experience it has been more of a cumulative thing — reading books on dialog, books on plot structure, books on word origins, memoirs of great writers, and so on.

A Logic Question

My 11-year-old daughter and I are going through your new book of fallacies this summer and we are absolutely loving it! Although I purchased it for myself, we are going through the exercises together and learning SO much. I have already recommended it to several of my classical homeschooling mom friends. Thank you for taking the time to write such a timely book and for making it so accessible to even a beginner like me.

I had a quick question regarding fallacy #3, “ipse dixit.” In the exercises, question number 3 states that it is a ipse dixit logical fallacy, but we both think that we need to know more information about what kind of professor is being pointed to as the authority in order to know that it is a logical fallacy.

If it is a mathematics professor, then we think it would be ipse dixit. If it is, in fact, a professor of biology or anthropology, then it would not be ipse dixit, as they would not be an “irrelevant” authority on the topic. A relevant authority can still be wrong, correct? Isn’t ipse dixit saying that the authority is right or wrong, only that the authority is not relevant related to the issue at hand, is that right?

I know you are very busy, but thank you so much for taking the time to read my message. We are striving to be clear thinkers and would love your guidance.

Thank you and God bless,

Amanda

Amanda, you are correct. With informal fallacies, there are many situations where the response is appropriate, and so it is not a fallacy at all. There are times when appeal to authority is legitimate, and other occasions where it is an irrelevance. For another example, an ad hominem attack is a fallacy of distraction. “You only say that two and two make four because you are a racist.” But when an attorney is trying to discredit a witness on the witness stand, it is not a fallacy because the credibility of the witness is the relevant point at issue.

Marriage Books?

Thank you for your time.

I have come to trust you, as I have daily read your blog this year.

I was hoping to get some direction about books I can read from male pastors about Proverbs 31 wife, or the role of women in marriage. I take it quite seriously wanting to bring glory to God in my marriage.

Kind Regards,

Tara

Tara, I would start with my book Reforming Marriage, and then for more detail I would move on to For a Glory and a Covering.

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Adad
Adad
1 year ago

Troll Tuesday is just not the same without any troll letters.
Were the trolls all gone for:
A “worker’s paradise” cosplay event?
A “wokehabi” jihad?
An Antifa-stan “great leap forward”?
A green no deal?
A Joe Biden masquerade rally?

Guess we’ll all have to wait at least a week for another entertaining attempt at troll style
“re-education”.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Adad

Looks like the trolls are hiding out except for downvoting. What do you expect of cowards, though? It’s like Antifa wearing masks (even before COVID) and not wanting to fight unless they outnumber their foes 10-to-1.

Jane
Jane
1 year ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

I just got downvoted below for sharing two facts that nobody who spends two minutes on Google to check out the topic could have any remaining grounds for dispute with. Trolls indeed.

Janie
Janie
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane

Keep your truth to yourself, Jane. There are no facts, only interpretations.

Adad
Adad
1 year ago
Reply to  Janie

…..and above us, only sky. 😏

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Adad

It’s pretty hard for the wokesters to speak out when there are literal insurrections going on in Portland and Seattle and reverse hate murders going unpunished.
http://kingfish1935.blogspot.com/2020/07/nojusticeforchelsie.html

Ken B
Ken B
1 year ago
Reply to  Adad

I should happily like to oblige, coming from the correct side of the Pond. I may well be ugly enough but unfortunately I don’t come from Norway.

Would “Doug Wilson isn’t saved you bronze age goat herder” do to keep you going in the meantime?

Glad to have been of assistance.

If this ministry has blessed you please send your donation to …

Jane
Jane
1 year ago

On the “bubonic plague may be returning” — an average of seven people in the world die each year of bubonic plague. A single case is not a cause for alarm; likely it wouldn’t even have been a story picked up by U.S. media had it not been our heightened awareness (and fear) of infectious disease due to the Coronavirus. Bubonic plague is also very treatable with prompt diagnosis.

Cathy Pemberton
Cathy Pemberton
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane

I can’t tell if these are down votes or up votes? I gave you a thumbs up. 😊

kyriosity
kyriosity
1 year ago

It gives one aggregate number between the thumbs. Unadorned if the total is possitive; with a minus sign if it’s negative.

agblooms
agblooms
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane

As far as I know, bubonic plague is endemic among ground squirrel populations on the American prairies.

Avoid them and their fleas, and the likelihood of catching it is vanishingly low.

Ken
Ken
1 year ago
Reply to  agblooms

And prairie dogs. In those populations the disease is called “sylvatic plague.”

Nathan
Nathan
1 year ago

2015 Studenka Train Crash.

3 train passengers died.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Stud%C3%A9nka_train_crash

Ken
Ken
1 year ago
Reply to  Nathan

They Czeched his privileges.

Malachi Tarchannen
Malachi Tarchannen
1 year ago

Random person: “Wear your $&@! mask” Me: The viral particles are much smaller than the pores of the mask, so the mask is ineffective at filtering them. Right? R: No, they travel on droplets and the masks keep the droplets out. Or they keep them in if you’re sick. M: So wait, how is the virus transmitted? R: Through droplets. Wear the mask. M: Droplets? R: Yes, like droplets spewed through a cough or sneeze. M: So through people who are showing symptoms? R: Yes M: So why do healthy people need to wear masks? R: Because of asymptomatic spread.… Read more »

katecho
katecho
1 year ago

From the abstract:

Although mechanistic studies support the potential effect of hand hygiene or face masks, evidence from 14 randomized controlled trials of these measures did not support a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article

katecho
katecho
1 year ago

Here is Dr Fauci on face masks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9dcn7VVLjs

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago

In the comments for last week’s “Letters,” Laura chided Doug for citing something that wasn’t peer-reviewed. She was quite offended when I mentioned the cult of peer review and how it didn’t guarantee objectivity or accuracy. Here’s an excerpt from an actual peer-reviewed article: “White neurosis undermines the sanity of People of Color, which in turn produces a state of racial cray-cray that everyone has to navigate….Below we offer ***a parable and a poetic letter to illustrate what is at stake in ignoring racial cray-cray***” From “Beyond the Face of Race: Emo-Cognitive Explorations of White Neurosis and Racial Cray-Cray” Yes,… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
1 year ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

Mademelook!

The soft “sciences” is long gone cray-cray.

Did I use it right in a sentence?

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  JohnM

I think you did, but I’ll need to have it peer reviewed by a woke, diverse group of “scholars.” The toughest one is a white, dyslexic lesbian who identifies as a male Asian carp. If there’s even a hint of systemic racism or homophobia in your sentence, she’ll be all over it!

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  JohnM

Some of the most famous psychology experiments of the twentieth century–the ones covered in every first year college textbook–have been impossible to replicate. If people tell you to smile when you don’t feel like it, you don’t have to. We now know that it’s not going to make you feel any better anyway.

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
1 year ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

It gets even better. From a 2018 article in The Atlantic entitled, “What an Audacious Hoax Reveals About Academia”: Over the past 12 months, three scholars—James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian—wrote 20 fake papers using fashionable jargon to argue for ridiculous conclusions, and tried to get them placed in high-profile journals in fields including gender studies, queer studies, and fat studies. Their success rate was remarkable: By the time they took their experiment public late on Tuesday, seven of their articles had been accepted for publication by ostensibly serious peer-reviewed journals. Seven more were still going through various stages… Read more »

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago

Two of those guys (Lindsay and Boghossian), who are both atheists, have a great interview with a Christian on Critical Race Theory:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDFL3xwEEG8&t=1645s

Lindsay also posts some good things on Twitter. Sadly, he’s a lot more consistent and dare-I-say Biblical than woke Christians on race, identity politics, etc.

Augus Tinian
Augus Tinian
1 year ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

JP, I think your continued attacks on Laura are shameful. Sexist doesn’t even begin to describe your pathology. You need help. With Dr. Laura perhaps.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Augus Tinian

I don’t think the Laura who wished COVID-19 and surgery on me would have much in common with Dr. Laura.