Saturday, November 10, 2012

The problem is that we think the country can be put right by electing the right person.  Truth is, the culture elects the president, not the president forges the culture.  We are in the VERY difficult position of having to change the mind of the people so that next time they won't be so easily duped by fear-mongering and class warfare.  We should be smarter than to fall for Obama's divide and conquer strategy.  If he can tell us that the rich are uncool, implying that anyone who turns a profit is inherently immoral somehow... had a conversation with a recent college grad (VERY intelligent fellow) who insisted that a kickback to Solyndra is no more corrupt than granting licenses to an oil company to drill on federal land.  I tried for an hour to explain it to him, and he never did see the difference.  It is because in each case the company in question is making money from governmental decisions.  It doesn't seem to make any difference if it is money directly given through crony stimulus loans or profits made after bidding, paying for the proper permits, then doing work and selling the product.  No matter - it has to do with ANYONE getting ANY money for ANYTHING.  What has happened to our ability to make sense of things?

So there needs to be some serious work done re-introducing our present generation to Western civilization with all its accomplishments:  free-markets, limited government, and the Protestant work-ethic, as well as the literature, art, music, and architecture, and underneath of all, the supernatural worldview.  Fact is, the "Great Conversation" of academia is only possible when we all embrace a Christian view of the world.  Have a look at Andrew Klavan's support of this point in his article for City Journal:

The White House will be forever lost to conservatives unless we can convince the majority of our population that there is more to life than cradle-to-grave, Brave New World comfort and entertainment. To do that, we are going to have to show them another way, and it will cost us some of our comfort and entertainment.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

In July of this year, we posted this:

Here’s how it will happen: Some Christians will stand up against the tyranny of raw power and in favor of freedom for our citizens, and they will be martyred by the present political machine.  Then, all eyes will turn to the people of our country - what will they do?  and the country will either stand or fall with their response.  Will we side with those who choose power over principle, or those who choose to die rather than compromise their principles?  The former will live as cowards in a tyranny, the latter will die as heroes.  Not much of a choice, is it?  No more middle ground, living comfortable lives.  

Today it has begun.  Our country has voted, and it has chosen the wrong side.  We have said that we want the government to take care of us rather than we ourselves.  We will become economically bankrupt.  We will see in the next four years (perhaps right away) the limitations of freedom on religion, further erosions of freedom of speech, and the further corruption of the media, the free markets, the university, and the American dream of self-reliance that established the Constitution.  We had one last chance to say "no!" to tyranny, and we chose to embrace it.  Nations come and nations go.  Our experiment in self-government has gone now.  The Founders' dream of a Godly self-reliant people with a limited government that works for the people, not the other way around, is no more. We now will see tyranny like we have never seen, and we will work for it.  Our Republic died today.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Politics (and the laws that come from politics) is downstream from culture, and culture is downstream from belief.
I have been thinking about a discussion I had with students yesterday about marriage and sexuality, and when I mentioned NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association), they were (rightly) repulsed at the notion, and some asked, “isn’t that illegal?”
Sadly we Christians can’t rely on the law of the land to keep social decay from happening.  Politics (and the laws we make) are downstream from culture and belief - that is, we make (or even choose to obey) laws based on what our culture believes to be right.  There are laws on the books right now that make sodomy illegal, but today they are either being ignored or reversed.  At one time, homosexual behavior was punishable with jail time, but gradually our culture started “looking the other way” and now, sodomy laws are all but unenforcible -- the culture simply doesn’t want to enforce them.  What’s to stop us from eventually losing our revulsion to pederasty and bestiality?  What is the use in saying "that's not natural?"  What is natural?
The point I am making here is not about the subject of sexual practice.  I am only using it as an example to reveal what we generally assume about law and government.  We, almost unconsciously, think that things we don’t approve of can and will be controlled by the law and its enforcement.  This view is actually backward.  Our only hope for a civil society is for people to have inner limits -- inner limits that then become law as a result of majority belief. Beliefs that flow downstream into law.  Laws are like locks on doors or police tape around a crime scene.  They are primarily there to remind honest people of the limits of their freedom and what belongs to whom.  A lock is a deterrent like a yellow police tape is a deterrent:  it won’t stop you if you are determined to cross it.
Most people who keep the laws in our society today fall into one of two groups:  those who obey an internal sense of right and wrong and those who are afraid of the consequences of breaking the law (the ticket, the fine, the jail sentence).  The proportion of the obedient to the dissuaded in this first group becomes clear whenever the power goes out.  When lights go off and electronic security systems go down, and no one can many are willing to do the right thing even when no one can catch you?  I have never seen statistics, but in my own head, I think we used to be about 70/30, but now we are more like 40/60.  The law is no better than a door lock or police tape to stop a majority of looting when the opportunity presents itself.  The only hope we have to avoid mob rule is INSIDE the person. 
This interior limit is guided by a picture of what God would have us be.  Better than a fear of prosecution (from God or police), we have a love for the God who redeemed us, and in that motivation, we have our civilization.  Yes, you can have a peaceful civilization based on fear of penalty, but that requires putting our selves in the hands of a government that must be our highest authority, and that usually ends in tyranny (as even governors, presidents, and kings need to be under the rule of God’s law:  Lex Rex, not Rex Lex).
We train our children to have an internal compass of right and wrong.  They SHOULD be repulsed by certain behaviors, and attracted by others.  So education (as we have said) is more than teaching facts about the world -- it is about training the heart to love the right things.  Without a clear picture of this, revulsions change over time (there are some film scenes that we tolerate and even enjoy today that would have shocked and repulsed our grandparents - we usually assume this is the result of their prudery not our licentiousness, but should we be so sure?), so our sense of revulsion is poor protection from decline. 

Knowing that once we are no longer repulsed we won’t enforce the law, many organizations attempt to desensitize us, or change our levels and objects of revulsion first, so that laws can be more easily changed or ignored later through the indifference of the people.  The process is two fold:  first, undermine this inner compass of right and wrong.  The best way to do that is to undermine families, schools, and churches as these are the entities that train us.  Isn’t it interesting that these three are under such pressure these days to redefine their structures, syllabi, and doctrines?  Once these are successfully undermined, the next step is to sound very reasonable and compassionate and repeat the claim that the repulsive thing is not really all that bad - in fact it is beautiful.  (for one example, read some of the descriptions on the NAMBLA website).

Those who defend the family, church, and school or resist the new claims will be called (at best) old-fashioned, out of step with the times, or (at worst) haters of various innocent groups (races, the poor, the sick, the oppressed) -- all the typical fear-prone words you hear used to pressure people to give up their opposition.  Why do people fear being called these things?  Because then they will be perceived as out of the game, no longer a part of the mainstream, isolated, opponents of progress, or success, and they won’t be invited to the right parties... but these are the temptations of our day.  These are OUR tests.  Are we going to stand for God and the truth, or are we going to compromise and go with the crowd?  Our souls are in the balance, as well as our civilization.
We cannot not rely on our laws to keep us from declining as a civilization.  Our laws are no more protection than a police tape, and are voted on by majority rule.  And we can’t rely on our revulsions to tell us what laws to enforce.  One generation is repulsed by what the next generation embraces.  It turns out (just like the bible says) everything hinges on what we believe and whether we continue to believe it when the pressure is on.  This leads to the question of what to believe, and ultimately, to the specific question of whether or not a certain Jewish carpenter came out of the grave.

Monday, April 09, 2012

How did I miss this in 2009? Did you? A N Wilson's conversion to Christianity?

Wilson was the fellow who wrote the unflattering bio of CS Lewis while being a rabid atheist himself.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

So - the Obamacare side argues that it is not fair that there are people who will get sick without insurance, and, since emergency rooms cannot refuse treatment -- treatment the patient presumably cannot afford, the cost for that treatment will fall on the taxpayers. So let's get this straight: they are NOT concerned with the health of the poor, but rather with WHO will pay for their care.

Their solution for this problem is to preemptively require everyone to buy health insurance making those who didn't want to buy health insurance pay for those who need care. Isn't this just enforcing a transfer of money from those who don't need care to those who do? How is that transfer different than the transfer from taxpayer to patient that is considered not fair to begin with? And why do we think that those who are not sick should take up the responsibility to pay for those who are? (for that matter, why do we think that those who are now working should have to work to pay for the retirement of those who are now not working - social security?) Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Shouldn't we rather encourage people to find ways to save and thus self-insure?

Beyond that, insurance pools are a voluntary thing - the market there cannot be coerced by the government any more than price caps on gasoline or bread. And, as for reducing costs, Medicare (the gov't) pays doctors only around 2/3rds of the actual cost of the care they support. That's the way the government keeps costs down - underpayment. So Medicare patients look a lot like Emergency room patients without insurance -- but instead of the taxpayers paying for them, the taxpayers pay 2/3rds, and the doctors eat 1/3rd. How is that any fairer? Many doctors won't take Medicare patients, knowing that they will lose money on each. How would Obamacare (which guts Medicare by $500B to pay for ITS program) do any better? I assume that Obamacare would REQUIRE doctors to take patients, and eventually set prices, as well as require insurance companies to take high-risk patients, and extend care to dependent children (to 26) which is the equivalent of market/price manipulation and caps. This is a complicated mess when compared with allowing individuals to handle their own healthcare. Reminds me of the tree swing scenario (for a larger version, go to this web site -  scenario):  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How can anyone fail to see that this is a civilization in decline?  It is understood that way only if you have a direction in mind:  if you know where Memphis is, you know whether you are traveling toward it or away from it.  If you have lost track of where it is, not only can you not know how to get there, you don’t know when you are wandering away from it.
A civilizational decline is only visible if you have an idea of what “good” looks like.  For most of my life I have assumed that we are in a state of confusion about what direction to take but that we all wanted to go to the same place, as though we have several paths before us, and don’t know which one will lead us to our joint goal.  Then I began to see that we don’t agree on the goal.  We all want good, but some of us think it is in Memphis and some in Jackson, and, depending on where we are, we could go together for a while but eventually will need to part ways.  But maybe it is worse than that:  perhaps we are so confused about where we would like to go that none of us knows what to do, and we are simply wandering lost.  We may know where Memphis and Jackson are, but we are no longer convinced that a step toward either will help.  Now I think I have been optimistic in every analysis.  What I am beginning to see is that it is not just confusion, or differing goals, or even arbitrary wandering that our civilization is doing - it is a calculated and specific push we are making to go in a particular direction.  It is almost as though we have been taught that Memphis or Jackson would be good, but never, NEVER go to Louisville, and we are determined to go to Louisville.  Whatever we have been taught about right and wrong, and we are consciously choosing to oppose everything that we know to be good.  It is almost as though we are becoming little Satans that desire to vent anger and loathing at God so much that we bend all our energies to the study of His word solely in order to make a specific point of doing the opposite.
As a child, our parents thought their job was to teach us right from wrong.  Don’t we still think that?  But doing so may backfire - that is, if your desire is to oppose God, knowing right from wrong only gives you a long list of “rights” not to do.  After a while, a culture forgets that there was such a list, and forgets there was an agent that placed them on this path - a culture busy living out lives of dissipation and self-indulgence.  Imagine one day that that culture finds a copy of the list of rights and wrongs.  The Church presents this list (found in the bible), and the first argument it receives is that religion is for fools, and we shouldn’t bother to even read such a list.  But if folks can be persuaded to read it, it shows not an arbitrary list of inexplicable religious practices (like watches can only be worn on the right wrist), but gives a list of the very things they have been opposing with the enthusiasm of self-righteousness that comes from the defense of individual liberty.
They learn that marriage is not a man-made institution but rather a visual relationship referring to an invisible relation of God with His people.  All the adjustments to marriage that our culture proposes seem at the time to be liberating and reasonable but in effect serve specifically to blur or mar that relation.   In fact, it doesn’t matter what is proposed, anything that will blur or mar is satisfactory:  one could encourage no-fault divorce to make ending marriage easier to attain; or encourage pre-marital sexual practice to blur the line between single and married life; or encourage adultery while married, open-marriage, or “swinging” as it has been called to blur it another way; or encourage homosexual practice outside of marriage as a viable substitute for male/female courtship, but only for the purpose of eventually being able to convince the culture that homosexual marriage is a reasonable thing;  or, man/boy sexual relations, and eventually sex with machines and animals.  We may find we are repulsed by these thoughts, but that only means that there are still vestiges of the old morality woven into our souls.  This revulsion is no final defense against decline, as we can be conditioned to overcome it (specially if those who show revulsion are labeled homophobic, or repressed, or old-fashioned). This trajectory can only be seen as a decline if you hold to begin with that there is an image that marriage is to reflect.  But what is striking me today is the conscious intent I am beginning to see.  The naked, pointed aggression toward marriage as an institution.  It is as though a child built a little twig house, and another child, who could have walked anywhere in the garden, chose to come and stomp on it for spite.  It is too calculated, too specific, too intentional to be offered as “an alternate lifestyle.”
Do you yet think I am attributing evil intent to those who only want to be free to follow an “alternate lifestyle?”  What exactly is evil?  If we follow our own definitions, individual autonomy is good, and anything that limits it is evil.  But if we follow the biblical definition of evil, individual autonomy is actually evil.  That’s right - what some call freedom is evil.  How can that be?  What is evil is not the freedom, it is the belief that we can know good and evil on our own apart from God.  In that case, God is actually giving us a great blessing by telling us that we cannot trust our own hearts to give us the definition for good and seems that our hearts have already joined forces with the enemy and are not to be trusted.  If autonomous freedom actually leads to slavery, what kind of God would allow us to take that road without warning us?  
But there are other items in the decline.  Is it not strange the interest in vampires?  Not if you know that we are told by God that we are not to drink blood.  There are rules for Israel in the book of Leviticus that particularly say that a body’s life is in the blood, so we are to drain the blood out of our animals before we cook and eat.  It is wrong to drink blood.  What could be more specifically “taboo” than to break two laws at once, the law not to kill, and the law not to drink blood?  Why, to drink the blood of a person!  Even better, let’s combine it with a perversion of sexual pleasure, and turn the whole thing into a metaphor for taking someone’s virginity?  It is the cruelest, most consciously evil thing one could do: to empty someone of her virginity and life for momentary personal appetite.  It is the same evil that clear-cuts forests or strip mines mountains for immediate profit.  It can only be seen as a particular choice to take specific commands and go against them.  Don't murder.  Don't drink blood.  Don't allow your appetites to rule you.  Don't abuse the creation.  Don’t go to Louisville.  (I have nothing against Louisville...)  
It turns out that we live in a world that DOES know right from wrong but has carefully, calculatingly, willfully chosen the wrong, and even finds delight in searching out “rights” to oppose.  Wouldn’t it be a strange world to be taught that religion should be ignored  because it is nothing but a bunch of arbitrary rules by an arbitrary god (like requiring that we wear watches on the right wrist), and then find out that it is the ONLY trustworthy repository of clarity about good and evil?  And wouldn’t it be even stranger if we should find that the very teachers who told us that religion is arbitrary and meaningless spend their entire lives, energies, money, and even their last breaths fitting as many watches on their left arms as they could?

Saturday, January 07, 2012

I wish to see all arts, principally music, in the service of him who gave and created them. Music 
is a fair and glorious gift of God. I would not for the world forgo my humble share of music. 
Singers are never sorrowful, but are merry, and smile through their troubles in song. Music
makes people kinder, gentler, more staid and reasonable. I am strongly persuaded that after 
theology there is no art that can be placed on a level with music; for besides theology, music is 
the only art capable of affording peace and joy of the heart...The devil flees before the sound of 
music almost as much as before the Word of God.

Martin Luther, from the introduction to Johann Walter’s hymnal: Wittenberg Geystliches gesang Buchleyn (1534).