I have a faithful reader who has urged me to say something about some of the doings over at Relevant magazine. This is no longer November, but I believe he was wishing that the spirit of November might still be lingering a bit. Maybe it is, just a bit. Still there, but wafting away. Perhaps it has not yet entirely dissipated.
One of Relevant‘s offensive articles is here, and I so have thoughts.
So let us begin with an observation about the name of the magazine—Relevant. For as long as I can remember, those Christians who were most urgent about maintaining the relevance of the faith were the ones most likely to introduce irrelevant Cringe into their apologetic. Kind of like a thirty-five-year-old camp counselor, quite a nice lady, at a United Methodist youth camp, quoting hip hop artists to the kids of today, on their way to a session in the main cabin when they were all going to be weaving plastic wrist bracelets out of brightly colored plastic twine. That kind of relevant.
I remember, decades ago, looking at a Christian book in an actual Christian book store, and the author was encouraging and equipping parents by giving them hot tips on how to relate to the actual teens growing up in their homes, and one of his suggestions was to refer casually to “Simon and G.” You know, as in Garfunkel. It has been many years now, and that wound still smarts whenever the barometer changes significantly.
The principle really should be a plain one. The only relevant Christians are the ones who do not give a rat’s patootie—one way or another—about relevance. Those Christians who are most earnest about relevance are the ones who have youth ministries full of ripped jeans, seminarians with heads full of pink cotton candy, and pulpits full of process theology—all things that have the same “sell by” date as last year’s sour cream, recently discovered in the back row of your fridge.
“All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.”
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
“Jesus Christ did not say, ‘Go into all the world and tell the world that it is quite right.’”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
One of the sure fire ways to ensure that your magazine has all the cutting edge relevance of a very soggy newspaper from last year is to call it something like Relevant. This is why we desperately need freedom of the press, so we can identify which publications we shouldn’t really be subscribing to.
To the Point
So much for the preliminaries.
Let us consider this article, linked above and again for you here, addressing the problem of why evangelical Christians are vaccine hesitant when it comes to COVID. And things go completely off the rails in the second sentence, which is almost a record. “Over months, the virus spread globally until the world had to shut down.”
This is the nub of the issue. The world did not have to shut down. The dumbest thing we have done over the last century or two here, on this planet ruled by the Dufflepud elite, was to shut down the way we did. The virus was really bad, and quite deadly for that small and vulnerable population with various co-morbidities. The virus was deadly for many who were already dying. The virus really was bad for them. The shutdowns were really bad for everyone else. We made the whole thing a hundred times worse through putting up with a bureaucracy with a god-complex, politicians with a savior complex, and evangelical leadership with a slave complex.
But the article proceeds, exhibiting all the serene assurance of the Buddha on a sunny afternoon, contemplating a pond in a Japanese garden, a pond covered with white lilies, .
“The reasons for refusing the vaccine range from concerns about how safe the vaccine is—especially when it comes to long-term effects (though scientists have addressed this endlessly) . . .”Wouldn’t It Be Nice to be Relevant magazine
I hope you caught the fact that scientists have addressed this question endlessly. Let’s all give a round of applause to our hard-working scientists who address these vexed questions so endlessly.
But the problem is that science doesn’t work that way. Science is not a mysterious Gypsy woman looking at my palm. I don’t care if you have a bundle of kept scientists endlessly assuring us of the long term effects of a vaccine that was rushed through trials, and then made mandatory for the real test group, that being the population at large. The vaccine was just rolled out months ago—anybody who is confidently telling you about the long term effects of it is somebody who is selling something. And the chances are pretty good that what they are selling is a vaccine. Hey, I have a question! Is anybody making any money off this vaccine?
But there is another thing. What they should have said was that all the scientists who were allowed to speak have addressed this subject endlessly, and etc. After this panic started, we were just a few weeks into it when an orthodoxy started to form, and after that you were not allowed to question that orthodoxy. And whatever that is, it is not medical science.
It did not matter who you were. It did not matter what your credentials were. That did not matter. If you deviated from the approved narrative, you found yourself in Facebook jail. Or kicked off You Tube—as I have been. You found your Twitter account switched off. It turns out that best practices in health care are only to be discovered if we do nothing other than carefully curate Approved Thoughts.
Censorship is No Argument
Someone will say that I am no medical researcher, and so I should just let the experts decide. And I would be quite willing to do that if the powers that be would allow all the experts to talk.
It is quite true that I am no medical researcher, but I am a student of human nature. And I know that in a debate, the side with a weak hand doesn’t really like it when the other side gets to talk. They don’t have answers to hard questions, and so they resort to the expedient of banning the hard questions. They don’t have answers to hard questions, so they like to arrange it so that they don’t have to answer any hard questions. Win win.
With the apostle Paul, I am out of my mind to talk this way (2 Cor. 11:21), but also like the apostle Paul, you have forced me to it. I am the co-author of two logic textbooks, one of which has sold northwards of 100K copies. For the curious, those books are here and here. I know what a fallacy is. I know what you all are doing. I know that circles aren’t squares, I know that wet streets don’t cause rain, and I know that you only discredit the integrity of your own position through prohibiting an actual debate. In a situation like this one, to refuse to debate is to forfeit the debate.
And in the debate over COVID, the establishment view has forfeited the debate.
You tell me that because I am no scientist, I don’t know which side has the information and which has the misinformation. No, but I know which side won’t let the other side talk. I know which side is appealing to arguments and which side is appealing to the form of reasoning known as “shut up, they explained.” I do know that.
We can see what you are doing, you know. It is kind of noticeable. You have a governmental/media propaganda machine that is working on all cylinders, and you shut down any effective dissenters, and then, having done so, you claim that no one dissents from the scientific consensus. But anyone who uses the phrase scientific consensus in that way doesn’t have a clue when it comes to what science actually is. Science is not the holy mother church, with an index of prohibited books.
Another bad thing that censorship does is feed and reinforce wild conspiracy theories. The Relevant article had a little video clip that explained to us all why the vaccine wasn’t the mark of the beast. Now, on eschatological grounds, I quite agree that the vaccine is not the mark of the beast. Yes, and amen to all that. But then all the responsible voices get together in puzzlement in order to wonder aloud together where those premill rubes could have possibly gotten the idea that the vaccine was the mark of the beast.
Oh, I don’t know. It might be the fact that you won’t let them buy or sell without it (Rev. 13:17). You know, just a thought.
If you don’t want to be mistaken for a beast, then stop acting like one.
All Because . . .
Speaking of fallacies, one of them is assuming what you need to prove.
“New variants have emerged and families are continuing to lose loved ones — all because people refuse to get the vaccine.”Earnestly yearning to be Relevant magazine
But . . . but . . .
Look at those words “all because,” which are kind of elegant in their simplicity.
Idaho is 37th in total COVID deaths. In Idaho, only half the state has received one dose of the vaccine, and 55% are not fully vaccinated. We are a largely unvaccinated state. But one of you will say to me, Mr. Logic Man, that Idaho is a big geographical area with a small population, and so we were all socially distanced already. Why don’t you talk per capita, eh?
The point is fully acknowledged, but that doesn’t help the mandatorians. As soon as you start talking per capita numbers, the magnitude of this scam starts to dawn on pretty much everyone.
The state with the most COVID deaths was California, which has a population of almost 40,000,000. With their deaths at almost 75,000, out of over 5,000,000 cases, you can calculate the per capita fatalities. Out of those who caught COVID in California, the fatalities there were around 1.5%. That’s a 98.5% survival rate, which is better than the Black Death. Out of the general population, the odds were more like .1875%. Against this threat, 79% of the population of California has received at least one dose, and 63% of them are now fully vaccinated. Massachusetts is fifth when it comes to being most fully vaccinated (71%) and is twelfth when it comes to the number of COVID deaths (19.5K). And the per capita numbers are comparable everywhere.
So my argument is not that Idaho could afford to skip the vaccine and lockdowns, but that California and Massachusetts, with their higher populations and extreme case loads, somehow needed the lockdowns and mandatory vaccines. No. The argument is that the threat to our general population everywhere was small enough that it should have been handled without panic, without lockdowns, without mandatory masking, and by making a vaccine simply available, instead of mandatory.
But the left likes to bring us ideas so good they have to be mandatory.
What It Means to Not Talk Sense
“What does loving your neighbor look like in the midst of a pandemic? It looks a lot like laying aside your opinions and thinking of others first.”Desperately Trying to Be Relevant magazine
This kind of hubris can’t be taught. There has to be some kind of natural giftedness involved.
The old “loving your neighbor” ploy, eh? So let us work with that a little bit, shall we? If you disagree with unaccountable bureaucrats about the best treatment options for someone whose life you genuinely value, you are accused of somehow not loving your neighbor. So let the apostle define love for us. “Love is patient, love is kind. Love seeketh not its own, and agreeth at all times with federal bureaucracies.”
Say you are a trained EMT, and you come across a bad traffic accident. You are the first on the scene, and another fellow joins you right afterwards. He was in the car behind you. He starts to move the driver of the car, who was thrown out of his car, and you tell him not to do that. It looks like his neck is broken, and it will need to be immobilized before he can be safely moved. With me so far? But suppose the other guy who is helping out—a really nice guy, but one who works in accounting at a big hardware store—tells the EMT that he really needs to “lay aside his opinions” and “think of others first.”
The EMT thinks, but does not say, that this is no time for an argument about words. But if it were, he could point out, mildly the first time, that his opinion, trained and everything, was actually an opinion about how best to think of other first. And you don’t think of others first by breaking their necks, however well-intentioned. You don’t lay aside your opinions about how best to love others, in order to love others.
In other words, before we start impugning the motives of others in the debate (loving your neighbor, egad), we need to assume that everyone’s motives are fine and settle the question of fact. What in fact is the best thing to do?
But what Relevant magazine means to say is this. Because they are not going to lay aside their opinion on what it means to love others, this requires you to lay aside your opinion about what it means to love others, and you need to do this in order that you might love others.
If you have trouble following that, perhaps it is because you have a heart of stone.
Some people will say that posts like this are dangerous. Yeah, well, I can at least say that they don’t cause myocarditis and blood clots.
Someone will ask whether I believe that government officials are responsible for public health. I do believe that they are, and I wish they would act like like it.
The masks don’t work unless everyone wears them. The vaccines don’t work unless everyone gets them. And this is because the lies don’t work unless everyone believes them, and that shows us that the issue is conformity and control and not public health. If it were genuinely a public health issue, we wouldn’t need to have these decisions made by the mandatorians.