What's Tony Thinking

Week’s End: Stars, Primaries, Sexual Freedom, and Fred Buechner


Dog Days. This stretch of summer is sometimes labeled the “dog days” of summer. The derivation of the term is unclear. It may have something to do with the the prominence of Sirius, a.k.a. the Dog Star in July and August.

As a kid I thought the term owed to the August heat and humidity of the Washington D. C. area, where I grew up, and that it drove dogs mad. It darn near drove the people mad, in the era before air conditioning. “The Dog Days of Summer” seems to be a phrase meaning the hottest, stickiest time of the year, when we humans (at the least in the Northern Hemisphere) become lethargic and grumpy.

Primaries. Well, the Wyoming primary true to predictions, resoundingly ended Liz Cheney’s run in Congress. We had hoped for a surprise in that race. Didn’t happen.

So what do we make of the primary season which was billed as a test of Donald Trump’s dominance of the Republican Party? Many (not all) of his endorsed candidates did well enough in primaries to advance, including a handful of gubernatorial candidates who were all-in on “Stop the Steal.” In Washington it was especially disappointing to see Trumpist Joe Kent win out over Jaime Herrera-Beutler, one of the ten Republicans in Congress who voted to impeach Trump after January 6.

Trump’s followers have the same understanding of “loyalty” as their hero. It’s pretty much how organized crime works: any deviance from complete fealty is grounds for termination.

Does this primary season mean that Trump is as dominant as ever and certain to be the GOP nominee two years from now? My own sense is that Trump’s base is as committed to him as ever, probably more so since the FBI search. But that staunch base may be narrower than it once was. This may make it seems bigger and more powerful than it is.

Or perhaps that is wishful thinking? It is certainly the thinking of the Democrat Party, which believes that Trump endorsed candidates who have done well in primaries — many even funded by the Democrats — will be a bust in the general election.

Sexual Freedom. At her “Common Sense” site Bari Weiss features an essay by Louise Perry, the author of The Case Against the Sexual Revolution. Here’s Perry on how her mind has changed:

“I used to believe the liberal narrative on the sexual revolution. As a younger woman, I held the same opinions as most other millennial urban graduates in the West. I conformed to the beliefs of my class.

“Of course freedom is the goal, I thought. What women need is the freedom to behave as men have always behaved, enjoying all the pleasures of casual sex, porn, BDSM, and indeed any other sexual delight that the human mind can dream up. As long as everyone is consenting, what’s the problem?

“I no longer believe any of this.

“I’m not a religious conservative. I’m a feminist, and I’ve spent my entire professional life working on the issue of male violence against women—first in a rape crisis center, and later as a journalist and a media relations director for a legal campaign against sexual violence.

“It’s precisely because I’m a feminist that I’ve changed my mind on sexual liberalism. It’s an ideology premised on the false belief that the physical and psychological differences between men and women are trivial, and that any restrictions placed on sexual behavior must therefore have been motivated by malice, stupidity or ignorance.

“The problem is the differences aren’t trivial. Sexual asymmetry is profoundly important: One half of the population is smaller and weaker than the other half, making it much more vulnerable to violence. This half of the population also carries all of the risks associated with pregnancy. It is also much less interested in enjoying all of the delights now on offer in the post-sexual revolution era.”

In making these points, Perry pretty much ignores all the people who are now arguing that “gender is (only/ merely) a social construction,” i.e. something we’ve cooked up for ourselves.

Perry ends by quoting Andrea Dworkin. (Four letter word warning)

“Feminism needs to rediscover the mother, in every sense. Until we do, each individual woman will have to learn on her own the lie of the promise of sexual liberation—the lie that tells us, as Andrea Dworkin phrased it, that ‘fucking per se is freedom per se.’

“It was a lie all along. It’s time, at last, to say so.”

Yesterday I paid tribute to my friend, Teruo Kawata. Another great Christian of that generation also passed away recently, Frederick Buechner. Buechner’s ministry was first as a school chaplain and then as a writer, both novelist and non-fiction. As a young pastor, I found Buechner very helpful and an antidote to Christians in the academy whose faith had been wholly transmuted to social justice matters alone without much personal dimension. I continue to recommend his books to earnest seekers. Start with The Sacred Journey. 

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