Some megachurches are scanning their congregants’ faces to check their attendance.

Possible oldest footprints in North America found

FAIR: “NPR Celebrates Fast-Track Victory With an All-Corporate Lobbyist Segment”

Ellen Carmichael on Jeb Bush’s Catholic faith

Charles Murray on the “United States of Diversity

Tim Hunt is innocent

Is Moscow behind Texas secessionism?

The loss of Irish pride

Chas Freeman says we can’t do diplomacy anymore

Raising some questions about Arthur Melzer’s book on Leo Strauss

Dalrymple on Tina Nash (warning: not for the squeamish)

Christopher Zehnder on the gay marriage decision and Laudato Si‘:

When I first learned of the Supreme Court’s decision striking down statutes forbidding same-sex marriage, I felt neither surprise nor dismay. No surprise, for it was just what I had expected. No dismay, for I did not expect anything other from our society, or its government. …

Those … who insist on the integrity of the natural world but rejoice at Friday’s Supreme Court decision are self-confused. Those who deplore the decision, call for respect for the nature of marriage and the basic meaning of sexual acts but ignore the integrity of the natural world, are self-confused. Those who think you must respect unborn human life but can subject human labor to irrational market forces are as confused as those who think you may kill unborn children but not oppress the worker. Sooner or later, these groups will need to decide on their core principle – relativism or respect for nature — for mankind will not remain in a state of interior division forever.

Another great reflection on Laudato Si’, drawing in Ornette Coleman, by Scott Beauchamp in the Baffler

Benedict options and liberalism

Ethika Politika warns Benedict Optioneers away from culture-war conservatism:

MacIntyre’s wider work envisions thick moral communities that are as revolutionary as they are retreatist, and that encompass both inward-facing and outward-facing virtues and practices. In Dependent Rational AnimalsMacIntyre develops from Aquinas the virtue of just generosity, a form of solidarity that extends to those with needs outside one’s immediate community. This openness to and concern for the outsider reflects the practices of Benedictine monasteries themselves.

So is this retreatist? Or could this vision entail bonds of solidarity that actually surpass the “contract of mutual indifference” found in liberalism? Turning away from “imperium maintenance” to the local politics of “grassroot organizations, trade unions, cooperatives, small businesses that serve neighborhood needs, schools, clinics, and transport systems” is hardly political quietism or indifference. Such activities work within the niches and cracks of existing structures to build alternative practices and social relations that resist dominant cultural norms—what Erik Olin Wright labels “interstitial” strategies of transformation.

More at EP:

The question facing Dreher and other proponents of the Benedict Option is how it is possible to recover not only the Benedictine vision of prayer but also the Benedictine vision of work as prayer, under the conditions of advanced modernity. Work shapes one’s character; it will either be a school of virtue or, all too often, of vice. Modernity largely understands work as instrumental. To become anti-modern in a constructive manner, we must challenge the way that modernity diminishes the importance of work as a means of character development.

St. Benedict’s solution was revolutionary for its time because it recognized that neither the life of work nor the life of prayer can be pursued independently of the other.

Confederate flag round-up: Warner Bros stopped licensing Dukes of Hazard merchandise (the New York Post encouraged them to go further and can “Gone with the Wind”), Apple briefly banned Civil War themed strategy games from its app store and the National Park Service ceased to sell all stand alone depictions of the infamous saltire. We are reassured that, “Confederate flags depicted in books, DVDs and other educational items will remain as long as the image cannot be physically detached.” The strongest conservative calls to take ’em down come from arch-neocon Max Boot, who says “it’s also time for Southern states to change place names in honor of traitors such as Jefferson Davis,” and Jason Lee Steorts, who is ready to drive the bulldozer down from National Review’s Manhattan office, saying “there simply should not exist memorials to specifically Confederate soldiers.” He later clarified, “What I think about Confederate monuments is not so much that they should cease to exist — I should have been clearer about this — as that they never should have existed. Since they do, let the American flag fly over them, silently repudiating them to the ages.” No reports so far on whether he plans to change his middle name. Reason’s Jesse Walker on the flag as an anti-racist symbol. Randy Barnett argued we should can Woodrow Wilson too, and who could disagree? Mitch McConnell wants to take down the Jefferson Davis statue in the Kentucky capitol building, Richmond Mayor, Dwight Jones, however, did Virginia proud. Leithart on Confederate civil religion, Jacobin on Dylann Roof, Noah Millman on slavery’s legacy, and Tom Fleming against taking down the flag. Lastly, Ross Douthat is worth reading:

The Confederacy, and the cruel way of life for which it fought and fell, is not the lost Southern alternative to modern American civilization. It’s the reason the American South couldn’t offer, and didn’t deserve to offer, such an alternative. Which is an excellent argument, one among many, for why the southland’s conservative friends and admirers should be eager to see its flag furled and put away.

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