Tuesday, May 31, 2005
I often look at men, leaders supposedly, like Dobson, Farwell, Robinson and others and ask "how can they so blindly and obediently support the Republicans and their utter failure to restore any Godliness to America". Worse yet, how can they sit by as millions of unborn are murdered, we have begun the murder of the infirmed, God is pushed from every public venue, our nation no longer lives under the civil law of the land (The Constitution) and we wage war unconstitutionally and based upon the most blatant lies.
How do men that are supposed to be leaders acquiesce to such things or even support the commission of such acts by their public acclaimations for the men and government that perform these abominations?
Is it personal greed and moral decay? I hope not. I believe it is flawed theology, a theology that states the world is at an end and all we have to do is support Israel and we will all be carried off is a grand escape. How amazing it is that this notion is less than 200 years old. Mathew, Mark, Luke and John (the men that walked with Jesus) made no reference to this. Even Paul contradicts the notion that the nation State of Israel is the chosen children of God in Romans 9-11.
I am a Baptist but I have pondered over the years over issues that just did not sit right with me. As I read and study I have come to know that dispensationalist theology is not the doctrine of the historic Baptist confession. It is a world-view that calls Christians to inaction and even flawed action.
I believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, I am staunchly conservative, paleo-conservative in fact, but I am NO FUNDAMENTALIST. I daily become more disturbed by the weakness of fundamentalism and the flawed ineptitude of their activism and world-view.
Fundamentalism is the chief bed partner of neo-conservatism. Without the suport of the "religious right" there would be no neo-conservative threat and the most us true conservatives would have to worry about opposing would be the wackos on the left.
The fundementalist choose to sit on their butts and wait for the rapture or worse yet support ungodly politicians. I choose action and a life that glorifies God and attemtps to keep his covenants and our rightful birthright to freedom and dominion.
Theology and Takeover of the SBC
By William H. Stephens Brentwood, TN
Fundamentalists believe the rise of the state of Israel is a fulfillment of God's covenant with the Jews.
Dispensationalists believe the Old Testament promises to Israel were not reinterpreted by Jesus to apply to the Church. They are, instead, an unchanging covenant with Israel. They believe the covenant is being fulfilled today as the Jews are established in modern Israel. Such events as the rise of the European Common Market is seen as the prophesied revival of the Roman Empire; eastern events are seen as the gathering together of the kings of the east; most of all, Israel's return to the Holy Land demonstrates we are in the last days.
Martin Marty of the University of Chicago is the best-known church historian in America. He wrote in an article "Fundamentalism as a Social Phenomenon," in the Review and Expositor, that there "were Protestant fundamentalist Zionists in America before Jewish Zionism took hold."
In the late 1800s, William E. Blackstone was a tireless dispensational leader to this end. Yaakov Ariel, professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, echoed Marty. He pointed out that Blackstone "asserted that the United States had a special role and mission in God's plan for humanity, that of a modern Cyrus: to help restore the Jews to Zion. God chose America for that mission on account of its moral superiority over other nations, and America would be judged according to the way it carried out its mission." (New Dimensions in American Religious History: Essays in Honor of Martin E. Marty.)
Since that time, great events have quickened the dispensationalists' spirit: World War I, the British takeover of Palestine, the Zionist movement and Israel being established as a nation, other wars, famine, natural disasters, and even the Gulf War.
Yaakov Ariel claims no event has had such an impact on dispensationalist thinking as the Six-Day War, in which Israel was immensely successful against overwhelming odds. The victory allowed the Jews to take over the historic sites of Jerusalem.
Fundamentalists now dream of the rebuilding of the Temple, which they believe must take place before Christ can return.
This conviction about modern Israel has driven fundamentalists to seek a close relationship with the Israeli government, and pressure U.S. policy to support Israel. They have established a Temple Mount Foundation in Jerusalem and have involved themselves in such Jewish issues as Jewish immigration from Russia. Dozens of pro-Israeli fundamentalist organizations have emerged in the United States.
The late Menachem Begin, former prime minister of Israel, appointed a special liaison for American evangelicals; Israeli officials speak at fundamentalist conferences, and evangelists meet with Israeli leaders as part of their touring schedules in Israel.
Observers of the SBC takeover may recall how thoroughly this dispensationalist agenda spilled over into the SBC. Ed McAteer, the SBC fundamentalist head of Religious Roundtable, tried very hard to have a resolution passed that would have expressed the denomination's carte-blanche support for anything the state of Israel chooses to do militarily.
The effort was rejected by the Convention, for the dispensational viewpoint is held by a lower percent of followers than leaders. To compensate, McAteer held a press conference to issue a pro-Israeli statement, signed onto by top SBC leaders Charles Stanley, Bailey Smith, Jimmy Draper, W. A. Criswell, Paige Patterson, Zig Ziglar, and Paul Pressler. This intent is not just political; it is a deeply held religious view and is not negotiable.
If the U.S. is to fulfill its role in prophecy, it must support Israel; the SBC will be a tool to pressure U.S. policy to that end. Thus, one driving force behind the SBC takeover was to use the Convention as a power base to affect U.S. policy toward Israel.
Fundamentalists believe the United States is the nation assigned by God the work of aiding Israel in these end times. Some people may regard dispensationalism's strong commitment to Israel simply as a theological difference of opinion. But the conviction has a tentacle that reaches into U.S. politics and has brought about a coalition with the right wing of the Republican Party.
God's intention to use the United States is not essential to His plan; if the U.S. will not cooperate both morally and politically, God will find another nation. But dispensationalists fervently want the U.S. to fulfill its role and intend to see that it does.
To accomplish this end, the United States must solve its moral problems, must become purer by biblical standards.
Believing the end is very near, fundamentalists have placed the redemption of America on a fast track through two alliances, Reconstructionism and the Republican right wing.
Reconstructionists hold that God’s plan is for the world to be governed by Old Testament law. The effort to accomplish this type of government is part of what God meant when he commanded us to subdue and rule the earth (Gen. 2:26-28). The goal is the world, but the focus is on the United States.
Fundamentalism and Reconstructionism can never truly merge, for Reconstructionists are post-millennialists. They believe Christ will return only after the world is ruled for a thousand years by Christ through His Church.
However, fundamentalists have bought into much of the socio-political program of Reconstructionism, as William Estep, professor of church history at Southwestern Seminary, has discussed in Revolution Within the Revolution, published by Eerdmans in 1990.
Gary North is currently the leading Reconstructionist leader in America. He views the conflict as God vs. Satan, Christianity vs. secular humanism, the family vs. the state. Secular humanism has captured judges, educators, mainline church officials, and “especially seminary professors.”
Estep asserts that “the Reconstructionist movement represents the New Right’s extreme flanks, but common concerns, presuppositions, and goals characterize every segment of the movement.” The two views have in common the quest to make America a Christian nation by legislation.
If Reconstructionism were to succeed, the U.S. Constitution and legal system would be eliminated. Fundamentalism does not cherish that goal, but they would fix the Constitution by amendments to accomplish their goals; and they have bought into some intermediate goals of Reconstructionism.
One is to eliminate the public school system, which teaches secular humanism and evolution, and breeds atheism and New Age views.
Moreover, the Old Testament teaches that children should be taught at home. Another intermediate goal is to limit government severely. Decision-making must be moved to local levels; government must get out of all but essential activities such as utilities and keeping the peace.
The national model for fundamentalists is the colony of Massachusetts, which was established as a church-state. The nationally- known Presbyterian pastor James Kennedy (Coral Gables, Florida) uses that colony's history to prove the United States began as a Christian nation.
Ironically, Massachusetts persecuted Baptists worse than any other colony and did not include religious freedom in its state constitution until the mid-1800s.
Church historian Leon McBeth of Southwestern Seminary points out in “Baptist or Evangelical: One Southern Baptist’s Perspective” how little evangelicals understand the Baptist view of separation of church and state, that “their ancestors were in power when ours were in prison.”
One need only read Jimmy Draper’s If the Foundations Be Destroyed to realize how dangerously involved with Reconstructionism some SBC fundamentalist leaders have become.
Unlike Reconstructionists, fundamentalists do not want the government to fall; they want it to remain viable but committed to fundamentalist goals. The process by which the religious right has become bedfellows with the Republican right, including the involvement of the SBC leadership, has been documented especially well by Rosenberg.
The alliance has come at a cost to their prophetic voice. Fundamentalists have endorsed unworthy politicians because the persons have agreed to a fundamentalist platform; they have behaved toward their opponents unworthily in attempts to win at all costs.
The alliance with a political party has brought fundamentalists into “open alliance with capitalism” and caused them to regard “economic prosperity as a providential sign of sanctity,” writes Bloesch. Even a reading of the very good book, Evangelical Affirmations (an outgrowth of a defining conference on evangelicalism) reveals the wide commitment to the Republican Party among even moderate evangelicals.
Some readers, perhaps, and certainly some church members may consider these shenanigans and dispensational views to be unrelated to their lives and churches. To awaken them from lethargy, let them consider how many Sunday School teachers in their churches teach whatever appears in the literature, and how many church members are influenced by the sermons they hear.
Because the time is short, some Fundamentalists believe that the United States must be rescued from its rapid fall into moral decay by limiting liberty.
Fundamentalism’s theology holds that we are in the last days before Christ’s return.
This point is wrapped up in the previous discussion on fundamentalists’ embracing of the Reconstructionist agenda, but it deserves some separate comments. Fundamentalism identifies several areas of moral decay: amorality, abortion, evolution, atheism, and pluralism. Related issues include a strong military defense, family, the evil of forced busing, prayer in the public schools, and free enterprise. (Bloesch, op. cit., p. 29).
The greatest culprit is “secular humanism”; some fundamentalist writers make this the Great Enemy and gather the other topics under its umbrella.
In an interview by Washington Post staff writer Sidney Blumenthal, Tim LaHay asserted that secular humanism is this nation’s official religion, the result of a conspiracy which began with transcendentalists, Unitarians, and atheists. They conspired to make public education compulsory and teach secular humanism under the guise of democracy. The conspiracy continues today. (Sidney Blumenthal, “The Religious Right and Republicans.”)
The late Francis Schaeffer, perhaps the best-known Fundamentalist theologian, charged that secular humanism is itself a religion “which the government and courts in the United States favor over all others!” (A. James Reichley, “The Evangelical and Fundamentalist Revolt.”)
This statement sounds like something out of Peretti’s novels. The only way to overcome secular humanism, Schaeffer believed, is to get control of government into different hands. The prominence of the conspiracy theory is obvious. This is part of the fundamentalist world view; it lies behind their fear that liberty has run amok and must be restrained.
Ralph D. Winter is the fundamentalist General Director of the U.S. Center for World Mission. In response to a presentation made by Kenneth Kantzer on Christian Ethics, Winter protested that Kantzer introduced one theme into several of his points “what itself can be terribly dangerous, namely the idea that we must above all be free.”
To this disclaimer of the value of freedom, Winter added a parenthetical comment: “I recall with chagrin how naively in my youth I accepted that famous line from the Declaration of Independence—‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ What a poison for any nation to drink!” (Ralph D. Winter, “Response to Kenneth S. Kantzer.”)
One could hardly cite a more damning quote to demonstrate how some fundamentalists fear freedom. But the quote is not extraordinary. Harold O. J. Brown, professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, insists that tolerance should be public policy, a view that reflects Reformed theology. (Harold O. J. Brown, “Evangelicals and Social Ethics,” Evangelical Affirmations, p. 279.)
Reformed theology is that held by churches that have descended from the “major” reformers like Luther and Calvin, who believed in a union of church and state. Tolerance sounds broad-minded and accepting, until its meaning is considered. Baptists have always insisted that toleration is not sufficient; government cannot be granted the right to determine what is to be tolerated and what is not. Toleration is miles short of religious freedom.
Brown’s hero is Constantine, who labored to make Christianity the favored religion of the Roman Empire. Today in America, he believes, we have no moral consensus and we have no authority who can establish consensus. “Now,” he concludes, “we are in the situation where there is neither an emperor nor a consensus, and it is likely that we cannot get along indefinitely without both.” (ibid., p. 279.)
This sounds very much like a call for state-sponsored religion. Brown prefaced his point by asking a rhetorical question: “But what are Christians to do when no one Christian is the “autokrator” with the power to change things, but rather many individual Christians would have to enter the political arena in order to affect the ethics of society? Shall they dare less than Constantine?” (ibid., p. 278.)
Have not those of us who have written and edited literature in the past written and published what we believed to be true? Have not our pastors proclaimed their convictions from the pulpit? Will current SBC leaders do any less? How long will it be before fundamentalist theology appears in SBC literature and is preached from SBC pulpits?
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
I am a Large Mammal on TTLB, 317 incoming links according to Google, Pagerank 5 according to Google and a mere 6,917 visitors according to SiteMeter. In fact I average only 41 unique visitors per day!!!! Heck I doubt I have really changed the mind of any of the folks that come here, people already agree or not.
So what is it all for? I wonder that all the time. All the same this is a nice hobby and I still hope for that one solid convert from the dark side of the prevailing world view.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Former NFL player Pat Tillman's family is lashing out against the Army,
saying that the military's investigations into Tillman's friendly-fire death in
Afghanistan last year were a sham and that Army efforts to cover up the truth
have made it harder for them to deal with their loss.
More than a year after their son was shot several times by his fellow Army Rangers on a craggy hillside near the Pakistani border, Tillman's mother and father said in interviews that they believe the military and the government created a heroic tale about how their son died to foster a patriotic response across the country. They say the Army's "lies" about what happened have made them suspicious, and that they are certain they will never get the full story.
"Pat had high ideals about the country; that's why he did what he did,"
Mary Tillman said in her first lengthy interview since her son's death. "The
military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of
disrespect. The fact that he was the ultimate team player and he watched his own
men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. The fact that they lied
about it afterward is disgusting."
I do not blog about the war or my comrades still engaged in the fight any longer. Since I returned from Iraq my view of the war has soured beyond anything I thought possible before.
I wrote this piece about Pat Tillman back in April of last year. It is sad to see that the story of this young man and his sacrifice for ideals he held has come to such a nasty end.
One fact is very clear to me and has been for a very long time. The Empire is not concerned with right or wrong in any terms other than what advances the goals and objectives of empire itself.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
My wife asked me why everyone thought to bring the nice colorful flags. I would certainly not insult her; she simply does not care much for history. If given a real choice that particular night she would have been perfectly happy to watch HGTV. I can only imagine that she thought everybody brought the colorful banners as an overt way demonstrating their distinct sense of fashion and style.
If only it were so simple. If you know a little about history you know that in a feudal society there were no standing armies at the national level. Kings were forced to depend upon their vassals to show up when called to fight whatever enemy the king faced.
Banners represented the various nobles and to the enemy these banners represented value in the ransom that might be gained from capturing the owning noble. In very simple terms these banners were distinct expressions of fashion and style and an overt sign of the importance of the owner. (so my wife is right like always)
Of course the downside of warfare in the feudal age was that a king could not always be certain that his vassals would show up when called. They may stay home, they may be unprepared and show up with fewer troops than anticipated or they may have even sold out to the other side.
Since I have taken a much more active involvement in what I can only term as activism I have begun to see numerous analogies with feudalism. (stick with me here)
To be certain there is no central king calling out all the various organizations to do battle against our common enemy. In this there is a difference. But two facts are clear. 1) we do have a common enemy and 2) numerous organizations do battle with our common enemy alone in single battles.
What do I mean? Well our common enemy I describe here. To summarize what I mean by a common enemy, consider this.
Prolife organizations organize, educate and battle legislation that permits the murder of unborn children and the growing trend to murder the infirmed.
Gun rights activist organize to fight against increasing unconstitutional federal encroachments on the right of the citizens to remain armed.
Christians organize locally and nationally to fight immorality of various sorts.
Some organize to save public schools from the abyss that the public education system currently resides in. Homeschoolers refuse to fight and decide instead to save their children. Homeschoolers often face legal challenges in exercising their parental rights.
The southern movement has dozens of organizations dedicated to restoring culture or defending heritage.
Some conservative groups organize to fight for smaller, more fiscally responsible government, others like the Constitution party fight for an outright return to government under the Constitution.
And of course there are a dozen more movements and agendas I could add to the list. Within each movement there is often several groups striving for the same goals. I will not name names for fear of offending anyone but just take a look around. Mr. X starts Restore America, Mr. Y starts Americans for this, Mr. Z starts Christians Against That.
Do you get the idea? Hundreds of banners representing hundreds of organizations.
Ah but you say the agendas of these various groups are different. They were each created to fight a different fight.
Sure enough true. But.
They face the same enemy, and each time they take to the field individually they face great numbers. What would happen if all groups took to the field at one time and attacked the core of the enemy?
The real enemy is people that hold ideas that are wrong. Better stated our common enemy is wrong thinking about the nature and role of government, the foundation of our system, what powers government ought to have and ought not have and what exactly right government should look like.
We fight separately and fail to win. If we were to place government on the right path, and restore it to the proper foundation would we really have to worry about protecting our culture from government or defending the unborn or curbing governmental excesses? Would our rights as citizens to keep and bar arms be threatened? If the federal government was no longer in the public school business would we have to fight them over what sort of system communities set up?
It is all just too simple. We have a common enemy and a common fight. Why it is so difficult for us to come together for a common purpose eludes me. Maybe it is ego, everybody wants their banner. Everybody wants their own little organization fighting the good fight. If that is the case it is a sad commentary.
Monday, May 16, 2005
These are the words of La Shawn Barber but they could have been mine if I had written them first.
I anticipate that there will be a lot said in the coming days and weeks about George Lucas as many claim the latest movie is merely an attack on the neo-conservatives and their attempts to destroy a republic and build an empire. Such attacks give Bush too much credit. He is just the latest and most successful neo-con. The ideas and forces that are expressed in our current foreign policy are nothing new. The story of Republic and Empire was there to read in my childhood and early adolescence. I read it, it was not written to attack Bush. What is does attack is all that Bush represents. If Bush has chosen to become one of the empire builders described in Star Wars that is really his problem, not that of Lucas.
I write often about the ills of our society and the entertainment we enjoy is certainly one of those. My wife cannot understand how it is I hate the television but enjoy movies. More accurately stated, I enjoy movies that make me think. Just like a good book that is well written I do not have to agree with everything the author portrays; if in the end of the experience I have been forced to think I have learned something.
Star Wars was for me the first big movie I viewed in my young life. In innumerable way this one movie inspired within me thoughts that shaped who I am today more than any other movie. The books that I read in the early eighties in the genre of the Star Wars universe only added to my deeper ponderings on the lessons the movie(s) taught me.
How silly you say for a 37 year old man that has traveled the world, completed a graduate degree and read more books that I care to admit in polite company to attribute so much of his world view to a space opera.
So just what do I mean? I was taught in church and at home as a young lad that Good and Evil exists in the universe. I could not fully understand these things before I accepted salvation and I really could not grasp this concept until I opened my heart and mind to an understanding of the Law that the Spirit teaches us.
The Star Wars universe was one of good and evil at extremes. The first movie was simple in this presentation. A large empire bent on forcing its will on others was challenged by a few rag-tag rebels that sought only to live free and determine their own destiny. This sat well in my mind and meshed with the other things I was taught by example, tale and heritage.
Anyone that watches the first movie understands that the Empire is evil. This is a given. The beautiful part of the genre is that as the story unfolds in various books and in the first three movies (Episodes IV, V, VI). By the end of the last movie you are left with an understanding that there is more to the story. Evil cannot exist in an abstract. Even though men are born sinful we do not assume that we come out of the womb determined to do evil. Just how did a man like Darth Vadar slip so far into darkness?
The viewer comes to understand that there must have been more to Darth Vadar at some point in his life. His sacrifice for his son at the end of Episode VI bespeaks of a man that wishes he traveled a different path in his life. The viewer is left with questions, how a man turns to such absolute evil and how a government as efficient as the Empire can turn so brutal burn in the mind.
For those that had to have the answers to these questions all of the books that contained the story before the story presented on the screen were available in print. The movies forced me to ask questions, the answers provided in reading the rest of the story truly made me think.
We find that in the beginning the Republic was a government based upon law with honorable traditions and a noble history. Great good, security and prosperity came to those that fell under the umbrella of the Republic.
We see, however, the very underpinnings of the fall of the Republic and deterioration into Empire. Greed, personal and financial, is at the core of the fall. Large mega corporations conduct bloody private wars in order to secure profits. We see the conniving and scheming of politicians that promise to stand on the principles of the Republic but really have only their personal interests and ambitions at heart. We also come to love a little boy that is as innocent and full of potential as any little boy.
In Episode II we begin to see the formation of the Empire. The fist thing attacked is the old religion of the Republic. It is unnecessary to the future; in fact the old ways get in the way of progress. The religion itself is dismantled and destroyed while the Empire makers wrap themselves in a perverted remnant of the old, just to secure the legitimacy of the new. We still love the little boy now teenager. He struggles to remain true to the old religion in a time of great change. His struggle is made all the more difficult because of the limited time he has had to fully understand the principles of his religion. He lacks a foundation.
Now without giving away the story of Episode III I will say simply that all is revealed. The struggle of the young man so ungrounded in his beliefs is exasperated by betrayal. Anakin Skywalker is betrayed by the two people he loves most. He looses his family and as a result he looses any grasp he had on his former beliefs. In the parlance of the movie he turns to the dark side completely.
If we replace the old religion of the Star Wars Republic with that of Christianity in our American Republic we see that the commonality of sin in various forms is at the heart of both stories. Both religions stand in the way of bringing in a new order, but the new order still requires parts of the old (traditions etc.) to gain legitimacy. Is there any difference today? Liberals and Neo-conservatives hate what Christianity represents and the stubbornness with which it ought to resist their agendas. Greed, anger, betrayal and scheming are also at the heart of both stories. Can anyone deny that these four elements are rampant in our society?
There are other lessons in the Star Wars story of note that directly relate to ours. Consider for instance the scene in Episode IV when Queen Amidala addresses the Republican Senate on behalf of her planet. You see an image of thousands of senators representing a few hundred thousand planets. Think about that for a moment in terms of real representative government. The book series gives a clearer picture of this. Many of the planets in the Republic are represented by one senator. Millions or billions of people represented in their government by one man.
This provides a thought exercise in just how big a government ought to become before it is too far out of touch with the people it represents. Do you think for a moment that a mere citizen in the Star Wars story had any real access to his representative?
In our current system one congressman represents an average of 646,952 citizens. Compared to the enormous numbers portrayed in the Star Wars universe this number seems manageable. But how much influence do we really have over our representatives? Adding additional congressmen would only add new and different problems.
This is really more of a oligarchy without the benefit of a qualified and morally accountable ruling class. A Republic based on representative democracy has limits. The example in Star Wars is the extreme version; our real life example is surely enough to prove that bigger is not better in terms of allowing the voice and will of the people to be heard.
In summary I would recommend the Star Wars experience (books and movies) as an adjunct to any good civics study program for the young. My son and I have watched the movies several times; during each viewing we stop the tape and talk about relevant issues. (we always turn entertainment into an opportuntiy to learn)
My only question is why did these stories not engender the same sort of response and world view in others of my generation. All those wide eyed 10 year olds watching an amazing story of freedom, tyranny, good and evil surely ought to have learned something applicable to our world. It seems not. Too many of them happily support the destruction of our Republic through liberal or neo-conservative ideologies.
As for the nonsense that this last film was written as an attack on current policy, I say hogwash. The actors in real life may have been unknown but I read the story years ago.
UPDATE: Apparently others have taken lessons in civics from Star Wars; the wrong lessons. Consider this piece by Jonathan Last. (HT to Cicero and La Shawn for digging it up)
Read this quote:
Whatever the case, the important thing to recognize is that the Empire is not committing random acts of terror. It is engaged in a fight for the survival of
its regime against a violent group of rebels who are committed to its
No Mr. Last, the Empire is not randomly committing terrorism; they are the defacto government with enormous resources. The terrorism the Empire visits on people and planets in Star Wars is strategic, methodical, calculated, well resourced and planned.
I suppose this make the examples of wholesale destruction of planets OK with you, just because it is the government and they are establishing order, tyrannical order but order non the less it is ok.
I suppose Thomas Sumter, Francis Marion and a dozen other American rebels that upset British order were wrong as well, at least if we apply your flawed logic.
After the Jedi prevail and the Empire is crushed, the galaxy is back to square
one: Run by a disparate group of regional authorities who answer to no one. At
least under Darth Vader, they had to answer to him (or suffer unpleasant
consequences). Like it or not, he provided order and stability
Gosh La Shawn, please tell me what is wrong with regional authorities answering to no one? I am baffled by the thought process in your statement. Genghis Khan provided order and security, Napoleon provided order and security, so did Adolph Hitler. Would you prefer any of these systems of government over self-rule?
These issues are theoretical as applied to the Star Wars story but the principles are perfectly applicable to everyday life and politics. The end does not justify the means. The road between human freedom and tyranny is filled with good intentions like the ideas you stated above. Order and security mean little if a people give up their freedom to attain it.
Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem
Sunday, May 15, 2005
In the course of relativistic thought many that otherwise know that Right and Wrong exist have travel down roads that lead to the conclusion that it is possible to have a third option. That being an action that is a little right and a little wrong this line of thought blurs the lines between absolute good and evil. It makes it possible to consider the equation as EITHER/OR/AND.
This is of course false. Good and Evil are best viewed using Boolean logic, that is to say nothng that is Good can also be Evil and therefore nothing that is Evil can be Good. The Equation is EITHER/OR. You cannot have a little of each. An action, decision or thought is either right or wrong.
This seems a dangerous and difficult position to take. In a world filled with relativism and subjectivity, who is to say what version of Right is the correct flavor. Just because a man believes, or state that he believes, that good and evil or right and wrong exit as absolutes do not mean he understand what right is for certain.
Historically this leads to dangerous occurrences. Peoples and nations have claimed to be on the side of right when clearly they were not. We see this even today as the world is engulfed in flames as an empire battles small groups in a fight each has termed as one of good versus evil. Most of us realize, without any hesitation, neither side is good or right. Each has numerous flaws, each commits their own acts of evil and each has come to their conclusion that they are right based upon a history or wrong decisions. Yet, many good intentioned people on each side fervently believe in the righteousness of their particular cause.
Faith is a requisite attribute in anyone that seeks to understand what right truly is. All humans have a basic understanding of right and wrong but this understanding is immature. It covers items like a person ought not to murder and ought not to steal. Everyone knows this; even people depraved enough to commit these acts. To truly come to terms with right as it applies to everyday and small decisions that ultimately affect the aggregate of a life; the personal forest I mentioned before; a person must have faith combined with understanding. Understanding comes from wisdom, which comes from God. They must be receptive to the Spirit and they must look to and listen to the law written in their heart. Only a person that walks with God can achieve this and truly know the difference in Good and Evil.
It is important for us to understand that Right and Wrong exist, to attempt to mold our lives so that we might truly understand right. If we hope to sway anyone to our way of thinking we must be right; not in terms of mere rhetorical arguments (rhetoric is simply a tool we might use). Rather we must be right because if we cannot see the truth how might we ever hope to bring about change that will truly achieve our goals.
Peter Leithart (HT to Dabney for digging it up) has some enlightening things to say about what makes up the glue that binds together all Right thought. This is of course the Law that is written into our hearts and ought to serve as a compass to lead us to Right decisions. We can judge Right and Wrong if we simply refer to the Law.
To elaborate a bit: Without the Spirit who writes the law on tablets of the
human heart, the law cannot change persons. The aim of the law is not to produce
a particular set of actions, abstracted from the desires, will, goals,
intentions, etc., of the person doing the actions. The law calls for a
particular kind of person, whose desires, will, goals, intentions, etc. express
themselves in external actions that conform to the law. The law calls for a
people with a particular orientation of "heart," but cannot provide that
orientation itself. That is the work of the Spirit. Of course, the Spirit uses
the words of Scripture and preaching, the fellowship of other believers, the
rites of the church, etc., to shape the heart, but the Spirit is the effective
agent. Through the Spirit, Word and Sacrament and other means become effectual
for salvation - that is, for producing persons who perform the obedience of
faith, for forming a people living truly human lives with one another before
How can we possibly hope to rebuild Southern culture if we do not know the ingredients that ought to go into the foundation? How can we be champions for Good change if we are unwilling or incapable of calling Evil what it is? If we cannot use the Law to judge our actions and the actions of our collective (communities and government) then we are weak of faith and undeserving of change.
Consider our continual cries against the evils of a growing federal tyranny. How did these things come to pass? They did not occur over night. Each successive piece of legislation was passed by well intentioned people that thought they were doing good. Social Security seemed a wonderful way to show charity to the elderly. Welfare seemed a good way to extend charity to the impoverished. The list might go on, but each would represent decisions, made by people that thought they were doing good that were in no way based upon general principals of good. For how can anyone really say that these programs that lead to a more powerful Federal government produced any good.
Consider that the same power, now resting in the Federal government, has been used by people that have no inclination to do good, but are rather more interested in securing human freedom at the expense of good, to do outright evil. Abortion certainly liberates one human with the freedom to kill another human that might present complications. Is this sort of freedom really supportive of Good?
In such a consideration we must realize that each and every personal decision we make and each collective decision must be sifted through the crucible of a simple question. That being does this support good or evil.
History has shown that bigger government ultimately turns to an increase in evil. Therefore the paleo-conservative view of very limited government truly supports Good in that regard. If we are to rebuild anything we must cling to this notion and understand what is required at the foundation of our thinking.
In this respect it is not only righteous that we judge ourselves and our opinions but also the opinions of others. There is Right and Wrong, there is no middle ground and this applies to all we do and think.
I read one Biblical chapter before I wrote this. The Bible is filled with references to judging but I thought this appropriate.
Psalms 82 ( Psalm of Asaph)
God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?
Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.
What does this say to us? Verse 82.6 tells us that we are leaders (gods in the Greek) under the most high ruler. Verse 82:7 reminds us that we will fall, just so we do not become to high and mighty in our thinking.
If we are truly Mighty Men then this chapter applies to us. Who are Mighty Men? Men of righteousness, leaders and those that are strong. Strong in what? We must be strong in faith, righteousness and action. We must know what right is, understand the will of God and we MUST be willing to act.
Change is always created by mighty men. The throng of the populace has never successfully changed anything for long. Men may be mighty without being righteous, and this is often the case. However the words of the chapter above refer to men of change for righteousness.
I say that we must not be afraid to seek and find the Right answer for every question before us. This is what Mighty Men do. We must be unashamed to denounce wrong whenever we see it. This is in small and large things. This is especially true in politics since our aim is to change the nature of government to a more just form. We cannot accept compromise with those that are merely confused but mean well. Mighty men are leaders, not followers.
We might debate with those that have wrong answers in an attempt to show them the way. This is leadership. Compromise; however is not a word we ought to have in our vocabulary; at least not in terms of accepting a little evil to accomplish a great good.
Stand up you Mighty Men and seek the truth, defend the truth, declare the truth. Do not be afraid to judge that which is wrong and say it is wrong. We will never succeed in what we claim as our goals unless we are willing to do these things.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Without a universal truth or the existence of right and wrong all opinions, ideas and actions are subject to rationalization, speculation and ultimate disagreement. I have over the last year discussed this phenomenon with various folks on the blogsphere. These have been good folks with what I perceive as the right sort of ideas. However they ultimately become disheartened with the effort to persuade others with words. It seems that in the world of ideas and opinions thoughts take on a certain inertia. It often appears that the vast majority of folks are willing to acquiesce to the general mood and parrot the opinions of that herd.
This presents a dilemma. This neither proves nor disproves the possibility that universal truth exist. In fact, some may claim that since the majority of the population more or less agree on many general principle that these folks may in fact represent the expression of universal truth. This view would hold that those that believe the truth of right and wrong resides somewhere farther to the right are simply wrong.
This is not a dilemma at all. A basic principle of ethics is that might does not make right. By this premise the majority, by virtue of their numbers, are not right because they simply have more might. It is therefore a logical fallacy to claim that because the majority of people cannot see the truth or accept it that it must not exist or that the majority may in fact already understand the truth.
Another way of viewing this issue is to look at the aggregate of all persons exposed to what we might call universal truth for a larger period of time. If we believe the fundamental Christianity (the belief that the Bible is the word of God to be taken literally) represents a tangible articulation of universal truth then we might consider the broader numbers of people that have accepted this view historically. The fact that the majority of modern people do not adhere to this view (no matter their professed beliefs) in no way negates the millions that have believed this to be true over the last 2000 or so years. Looked at from this perspective the current majority would indeed seem to be the minority in this issue. If a person wishes to persist in the view that the majority must surely know what is right I would submit that the majority has spoken.
The question remains, does universal truth an absolute right and wrong exist? A person that believes they understand that these things exist would readily agree everyone else would disagree. In such a circumstance even the existence of, and knowledge of such things makes little difference. It is nearly impossible to argue or persuade anyone on an issue relating to right and wrong if there is not agreement on what right and wrong means.
C.S. Lewis uses logic by example in Mere Christianity to prove that such a thing as right and wrong exist:
But the most remarkable thing is this. Whenever you find a man who says he
does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going
back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try
breaking one to him he will be complaining "It’s not fair" before you can say
Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties do not matter; but then, next minute,
they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break
was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such thing
as Right and Wrong--in other words, if there is no Law of Nature--what is the
difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat
out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of
Nature just like anyone else?
It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong.
People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their
sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than
the multiplication table.
His later work The Great Divorce uses allegory to drive home the point that Right and Wrong not only exist but that these principals are absolute. Morality is not a circle with all paths eventually leading to the center. It is, rather, more like a tree with limbs and branches diverting. A wrong branch will not lead to the correct end.
A worthy as the various works of Lewis may appear to be in presenting a reasoned approach to the apparently indisputable fact that Right and Wrong exist they have failed to greatly convince those determined to deny such. This very much strikes at the heart of the questions raised in my post on Faith versus Reason.
As pointed out by my very wise commentors there is great difficulty is any attempt to apply reasoned arguments in the face of those that refuse to believe. Many of the axioms that invariably must be used are so intertwined with faulty logic and wrong ideas that arguments become circular and non-productive.
We are left as Christians with the acceptance that Right and Wrong exist. We know it exists not only because we are told it exist but also because when we become receptive to a will greater than our own we come to understand it in a way that is tangible. It becomes in time an item more than mere faith, it become a reality that we know a certainly as we know gravity to exist.
As Christians if we hope to convince others of this fact we are left it would seem with the approach of good preachers. That being there is a law, you have broken the law and the only way to escape judgment is to repent of your offenses. This method works to some degree in winning converts to the notion that they are somehow outside the law. If the person follows up their act of repentance with actual study, prayer and meditation they may some day come to understand more of what universal truth really consists of. In other words they will truly come to see the difference in Right and Wrong ion all aspects of life, personal, social, family and political.
Unfortunately, there are several key elements fundamentally missing from this equation for many. As a result many that profess Christianity no more understand Right and Wrong than non-Christians. For many people the journey ends the moment they profess Christianity and join a church. The only real hope for such individuals is a good preach/teacher (as opposed to a mere pastor) and a dedication to study and understanding.
These are, however, issues for later discussions. The issue here is do such things as absolute Right and Wrong exist and if so what does this mean to every aspect of our lives.
I say firmly that Right and Wrong do exist and that these factors are important in every decision, every action and every activity. Every decision is a fork in the road.
How so you say. Am I implying that each time a person makes a decision that is wrong because it does not mesh with the greater notion of Right and Wrong that the person is either damning themselves or society? No, not exactly. I will get to the explanation of what I men directly.
Sin is sin and sin definitely falls into the Wrong category. What of other things that are not expressly articulated as Sin but fall into the category of Wrong?
What of a person that votes for candidates that is half-right (or less). Most might say this in not a sin in and of itself. It could be argued it is improper stewardship and is therefore a sin, but I will not make that claim here and now, not for the majority of folks at least. I will state that such a compromise with Wrong is in and of itself a turn down a bad path.
I am not saying that wrong paths that are not specifically sin damn a person. Our lives consist of many paths. We have many decision trees. Often these trees are unrelated at the base but as they tree grows the branches invariably grow and touch neighboring trees. Our lives are therefore a forest of the decision trees we have planted. If we consistently choose wrong our forest is nothing more than a filled of shrub brush. If, however, on the other hand we consistently choose Right our forest is populated with tall strong oaks reaching toward the sky.
(Just so that I do not confuse anyone I am not saying that good decision might replace real sin in our personal forest. I am referring specifically to decisions that are not based on absolute Right and Wrong that are not specific sins. Sin in any forest will kill even the strongest of oaks like a plague of insects.)
If one accepts my view of the importance of Right and Wrong in our personal lives and also accepts that Right ands Wrong applies to everything we do it becomes apparent why it is important to understand what Right really is and how we ought to apply it in our decisions.
Every act by individuals, communities, governments and nations is either right or wrong. Some acts are obviously wrong, the path diverts at 90 degrees or more from the correct path. Others are more subtle. A path that diverges by 5 percent is difficult to discern, but it will no more lead to the right destination that the greatly diverged path previously described.
It is the slight deviations that present the most danger. It is these slight diversions that create the most difficulty and cause so many to be confused. In the fourth post of my Degeneration series I discussed the march of society toward Wrong. It is easy to see how such a thing has occurred. Good people have made slight mistakes in our path over time. In following generations, already traveling the wrong path, it is a simple matter to continue to make slightly wrong decisions. In time society is traveling in a 180 degree direction from Right.
The most important thing to remember is once a person or government begins traveling a Wrong path there is no way to correct course unless you go back to where you made the wrong turn.
Much of our difficulty in America has been with the notion that minor course corrections will eventually place us back on track. Minor corrections may prevent your path from turning further downward but they will not correct the bent limb. The only solution is to go back.
Unless we accept that 1) there is Right and Wrong, 2) these laws apply to all we do, privately and publicly and 3) the only way to correct a bad path is to go back and begin again along a different path we will never really change anything.
Failure to accept these three simple points will damn us and all of our hopes and dreams.
Friday, May 13, 2005
By the way, one of the things that caught my eye is the whole issue of
rationalization with reason. Too many folks spend too much time trying to
rationalize our ideas with the enemy but fail to see the futility in doing such
things; our worldviews are often based upon different axiomatic foundations and, Dabney, I
think, hits the nail on the head concerning covenant breaking (this is something
that the Religious "Right" cannot seem to fathom). Reason and science have their
limitations and contexts in the scope of any philosophy as they are merely
logical formalism based upon axioms. We too quickly forget that logical
formalism cannot be accepted in one context without often invoking, perhaps
implicitly, "axioms" from a foreign worldview (which is why I get so irritated
with the church's blind acceptance of Freud, Jung, Dewey, etc and the rejection
of Darwin - it indicates that they have put little, if any thought into
understanding why they believe what they do).
The points are items I have pondered often over the course of the last couple years. This is nothing new of course. Since Paul went off to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles and they in turn began to analyze the truth with their Western minds the debate over faith and reason has raged.
There have been high and low points. The lowest point may be said to have been that of Gnosticism. Others may say, and they may be correct, that this debate has yielded no good fruit at all. There are many that would dismiss all reasoned thought arising from the Western tradition. This camp would ignore the ideas of Augustine, Calvin as others as merely the thoughts of men that attempted to reason out their faith.
Just as there was much debate and nearly a split in the early church between Hebrew Christianity and Gentile (and primarily Greek influenced) Christianity we very much retain many of the aspects of this divide even still.
Most of us that are Christian fall somewhere in between, I would venture to say that the majority of Christian denominations fall somewhere much closer to the Western side of thinking today. We may have started somewhere closer to the middle but a large segment of us have shifted slowly over time toward the Western view.
This is not unexpected from a purely humanistic point of view. We are a Western culture. We borrowed much from the East but all that we borrowed was long ago sifted and strained.
As Matt points out there are serious limitations to the application of axioms to issues of universal right and wrong. In fact, the mere attempt at such often leads to fallacies and has the potential to provide support to false doctrine.
This is something we must realize and accept. History ought to teach us the danger of trotting carelessly down a road of reason exclusively.
However, I wonder, what might be the proper role of reason and logic in our theological outlook. Surely, God provided us with the intelligence to reason, the capacity to learn, the desire to question. These are all gifts from God. Failure to use these gifts seems as much of a sin as gluttony or any other sin (all sin is sin and improper stewardship of a gift is a sin).
Considering the path many churches and pastors have taken of late in redefining theology and rationalizing scripture my first impression would be that reason and logic seem just too fraught with danger and ought never be applied to any theological discussion.
After consideration this seems a position of weak faith. If we are of true faith and walk with God and rest in His word it seems we ought to be capable of measuring the reason and logic of man accordingly. It would seem that true men and women of God ought to be able to use reason and logic reasonably in their own questions and in the discernment of the postulations of others.
This would seem to be the case, if it were not for the fact that so many are led like sheep to the slaughter under the influence of faulty reason that does not measure with the word of God.
I do not have the answer to what role reason and logic ought to play in our Christian walk. I fear that if we abandon it entirely we are abandoning a gift for God. If, however, it is indeed a fire too hot for mere men to handle properly then our failure to rebuke it would seem also to be a serious mistake.
I would truly enjoy reading the opinion of others on this subject (Flannel, this seems to be a wonderful topic for your weekly Blogspheric Bible Study).
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Undoubtedly, over time, as I learn, pray and think more, my views will shape and mold with the input of new ideas and data. I believe what you will find in the items below is a pretty solid baseline. Some of my theories concerning specific concepts are based on notions that may change. However, the general premise that Sin is the foe of all we do and we might never hope to really win anything unless we structure our fight against the proper enemy will not change.
If you are interested in continuing to read my thoughts on the road ahead I encourage you to visit Shouting From The Mountaintop. I believe that is currently the correct forum for these ideas. The principles that comprise the only real solutions are applicable to a variety of groups.
We in the Southern movement would do well to consider the imperative that we rebuild our culture based upon individual and community relationships with God and his laws. Without the moral underpinnings that were at the core of all that was good in the Old South our symbols, traditions and manners mean little. We might only save a shell of the former for a brief time if we do not earnestly attempt to rebuild our culture.
Likewise, any group that seeks to right current wrongs (Constitutionalist, gun-rights, pro life, tax reform, home educators etc) might rightly stop to consider that the surest path to success is a return to the culture that gave birth the Constitution that we so revere. The numerous battles we fight to stem the erosion of the Constitution and our rights are meaningless if the society and culture simply do not support our ideas. Our battles are, in the long-view, lost causes.
So here is the list of thoughts that articulate my current view.
Degeneration and History Part I Mental and Intellectual
Degeneration Part II Physical and Genetic
Degeneration Part III Society and Government
Degeneration Part IV Values and Morals
Degeneration Part V Sin as the Enemy of Mankind
Reversing Degeneration: How Do We Get There From Here?
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
First the theories that I have laid out to support the justifications I presented are based on my faith. Even the justifications I have presented are based on nothing more really than a feeling and opinion. I cannot prove to a person that society and culture has and is deteriorating if their world view is not already predisposed to believe such things. The fact is many people actually believe things are always getting better. Many others think that there are only a few problems here and there that might be addressed via single scope solutions.
Second, even if a person accepts my justification and believes society is in decline there exist several plausible reasons that might explain the demise. Answers in Genesis for instance has numerous theories that explain away common evolutionary notions as well as provide explainations for some of the questions I raised in these several posts.
Dabney has stated several times in many places that he believes our degeneration is a result of covenant breaking. This is really a different way of saying what I have said. His view is Eastern or rather Hebrew in nature. He accepts boldly that there is a law, does not question the law nor does he seek explanations for the punishment for breaking the law. I sadly admit my efforts have been more Western based. I have attempted to rationalize that there must be an unseen force at work causing our ills. I have pondered what effect this force, which I have identified as sin, might have had on mankind and our culture. Obviously my attempt is flawed because science and reason cannot answer what is unknown and unobservable. In the end we have reached the same conclusion. Despite attempts at reason in these matter i must return to faith. That seems the proper place to be in any account.
Obviously neither he nor I dreamt all this up alone. Many others have and do hold this view. My attempt here was merely an effort to articulate my changing worldview. As I have said this new world view will affect all my future thoughts and efforts. In one very real sense it makes the prospect of success in many of the initiatives I work to support seem doomed. For now, for the first time, I see the full scope of the battle we face and the forces arrayed against us. I have always intuitively known these things and have always realized the difficulties. I now see clearly the obstacles and the only real path that might lead to success.
Friends and neighbors have something profound to say. If we ever hope to set things right it will take hard work, dedication, personal sacrifice, great patience, a solid strategy and Divine assistance. You say it has all been said before. I agree some have said it in the totality of purpose I intend to articulate as future for our struggle. I do not claim ownership or seek credit of originality of ideas in this regard. I will say that few people actually lay out the entire set of obstacles and fewer still present complete and all encompassing strategies to guide us and lead us to success. I intend to do just that as best as my intellectual capabilities allow.
The problem with all of our efforts to correct what is wrong is that our energies are fragmented. Gun-rights folks fight current legislation to protect their rights. They falsely assume that winning legal battles will secure rights that the Federal government has never had the prerogative to restrict. They never consider it is an evil world view at play that wishes to restrict their freedom. Pro life advocates raise their banner around the fight to protect life but ignore that the real issue is a culture and society that have degenerated to the point that it allows the killing of the elderly, infirmed and unborn. Pastors build bigger and grander institutions of worship and falsely believe that having more people attend an occasional Sunday morning service will stem the tide of degeneration. Many in the Southern movement believe our proper place is to educate the masses and defend our heritage from slander and attack. We never stop to think that what we are defending are mere symbols of a people that walked with God and lived lives that exemplified honor and integrity. We have lost most of what was good about Southern culture; defending symbols will not bring it back. Well-intentioned members of the Constitution Party believe if they can only get the good message of right government out to the people that the voting population might turn from our current path. This ignores the deeper and more overarching problem.
There is commonality in the battle all of these groups are fighting. In actuality they all fight a common foe. Seldom in the course of history have smaller armies been successful when they divided in the face of a much larger enemy. In the rare cases when this does succeed it is because of superior genius of leadership, strategy and execution. All of the various groups I mention above plus the dozens of others working and fighting against a common enemy lack the benefit of a unified command and a central strategy. In light of this and considering the fact that we are severely outnumbered our eventual and total defeat is inevitable on each issue we might wish to affect.
I plan to continue this series in a different area of focus. Up to this point I have stated what is obvious to many of us. That is, things are not right and they are getting worse. If you are serious about changing things then I invite you to follow along, contribute your ideas or write yourself about the thing we most need, that is an overall strategy that will bring together the various factions fighting for pieces and parts of what is right under an umbrella where we might collectively fight to really cause change.
Just briefly summary the areas that I intend to discuss:
Identify the Enemy
We cannot truly battle and win against a foe we have yet to fully describe. We must come to understand that there is a single point of commonality among every program, policy and trend that opposes us (No I am not speaking of a nefarious conspiracy).
This is the cornerstone of any success we may hope to have. No matter what your cause, freedom from tyranny, taxes, gun-rights, stopping abortion or a dozen other conservative causes any change we might hope to create must begin with us. This is the simplest way to success but often the most misunderstood.
Changing ourselves is an important first step but it will not gain us victory. As individuals we are still alone in a world hostile to much we hope for. We must re-learn the meaning and value of true fellowship and community.
There is much power in individuals committed to individual change and to sincere attempts to live good and proper lives. This power is exponentially multiplied when communities of people begin to live and act like neighbors. If we really want to change the world we must first win the battle of our street, church and town.
Educating Leaders of Change for Today and the Future
Our nation, state, communities and churches suffer from a lack of leaders educated to be gentlemen versed in the art of letters, rhetoric and reasoned thought. Our industrialized society produces and encourages education in the form of technical learning. If we are to succeed in the long-term we must grow a sturdy crop of statesmen and leaders with the capacity to think, a foundation in good principles and versed in ethics and morality.
Revitalization of Good Culture
Rebuilding a culture involves much more than hanging on to symbols of the past, speaking a certain way or using manners that we have long forgotten the origin of. We cannot rebuild our culture until we change ourselves; learn to love God and our neighbor. If we can follow the two great commandments in our daily lives then rebuilding a culture worthy of perpetuation will be simple. We pride ourselves (often boastfully) that our Southern culture is somehow superior to that of any other. I contend we are little better than anyone else. Our attachment to traditions of the past without an understanding of the Golden Rule that underpinned all that built that former society is useless. Ours may be the best model to rebuild upon, for the mere fact that we do at least hold on to some of the traditions of a better society, but we ourselves are not superior for this mere fact.
Raising Public Awareness
This is naturally and obviously an effort that is well underway by many. However simply making people aware of our views will never achieve success. We must realize and accept this. We must continue to struggle to get the word out. We must sharpen our rhetoric and refine our logic and arguments. Our words serve to keep the fire burning in some small way. In time, once we accomplish many of the more difficult tasks, our efforts at raising our issues in the public forum will produce more fruit.
Building Local and State Political Power
We must accept the maxim that all politics are local. We must early on build communities and rebuild a culture that supports our aims. We will never win every State that comprises the current Union. We can influence some states. Unfortunately for some, we will discover early that it is impossible to build communities in our current states. For those of us in such circumstances the only option is to move to states where change is possible. In the long view of success our only hope is to influence the governments of states by influencing communities and the culture within those states.
Raising Issues and Fighting For Victory
Success to this point does not mean ultimate success. We are still faced with a Federal government that will have contiued to progress down the exact same road that it currently travels. We can only succeed by exercising the rights of individual states, either singly or collectively, to change, nullify, or ignore laws and policies contrary to the revitalized culture we have built.
In simple terms this describes the sum and total of the strategy I see as our only viable means to success. This is obviously, I my mind, an effort that will span our generation and cross into the next. Of course, monumental change is always possible to people that believe in The Lord, remain true to His principles and are willing to sacrifice everything for what they desire and believe.
If that at all sounds like too much work then I suggest you pack away any hope you have for real change, stop complaining about how things are. Our culture, our Constitution and our society were not destroyed in a day or even a generation. The effort to strip us of everything we believe, encroach further and further upon our rights and to fundamentally change who we are has been expertly crafted and implemented. We cannnot reapir all of that is a day, week or a year. Change will require committed wariors that will not abandon the field when times are rough and our prospects look bleak.
Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
I have come to the point that I must present a theory as to why I believe the degeneration in various forms I have described may in fact be a reality.
First, please allow me to digress. I began this series of posts as really nothing more than an online attempt to articulate what I have come to believe to be true. My arguments in support of the justifications I have presented have not been entirely solid in terms of empirical proof at times. I will admit that the logic I have used to express these thought has at times been both watery and maybe even at times absent.
The truth that I have arrived at is so simple. Many before me have expressed it in simple terms, based upon nothing more than mere faith. Oftentimes the faithless will view a reliance on faith as a sign of weakness. My attempts to rationalize and prove my faith may even appear to be an acknowledgement to those that disdain faith.
I would say that my meager attempts are not at all an admission that faith alone is enough. I have the greatest respect for those so strong in faith that they can overcome the human tendency to question and ponder to the degree that faith becomes impossible. I would also say to those that denigrate faith itself that we all, each of us, has faith in something. This is true whether we admit it our not.
To my theory.
Simply stated Sin is the prime cause of all degeneration in society and man. Imagine that, I have written four previous posts attempting to prove what every good country preacher already knows.
I thought it important to discuss the matter as I have because I have experienced a major shift in worldview and this shift has and will affect all that I think, write and do. Long time readers will recall that previously I have been of the opinion that the arguments over creation and evolution were not worth the effort invested in them. I was of the opinion that God is an all powerful God. As the architect of the universe I had no trouble accepting that he might have created the universe in any number of ways. It was conservable to me that evolution was a potential tool that he used and that the seven days of Genesis might have referred to celestial time.
There is of course a major problem with this view. If one accepts that the possibility that man evolved (guided by a divine hand) up to the point that man appeared and then God breathed life (a soul) into man you must be open to accept other theories.
Since beginning this work I have read with great interest the work of many in the creation science business. To be certain folks much more experienced in biological science as well as the creation story in Genesis have spent thousands of hours and have produced volumes of excellent work that dispute the theory of evolution on scientific terms. These items are readily available for anyone to read and study and I will not presume to restate their work here.
I will discuss an additional problem that evolution of species and particularly man presents is the notion of social evolution. We contest the notion of the evolution of species but I dare say many of us dispute the idea that society over time becomes better. This is what the public schools teach; it is a key tenet of progressivism. The entire American industrial/consumer system is built upon the idea of progress. It is the chief tenet of faith in statism.
The real problem with the doctrine of social evolution and its offspring progressivism is that historically it is unfounded. Societies rise and fall, progress and regress in cycles. Taken from a macro view it is apparent that in the aggregate progress in terms of more human freedom and general happiness decreases over time. (Yes I know people are often bought off with the idea of more gadgets but these do not really equate to true happiness.)
Back to my theory.
A few points or tenets to explain my view
- Creation occurred as described in Genesis
- Man, earth and all of creation was perfect
- At the Fall (first sin) a decay and degeneration began
- With each generation the cumulative effect of past sin is more evident, making it more difficult for even true believes to remain true
- With each generation the cumulative effects of decay and degeneration are evident (ever so slightly) in our society, physical well being and moral compass
That is the simple view. I mentioned back in my first post that I believed that an equation could be generated to account for the accumulation of the unknown factor influencing our general decay. If it were possible to measure sin in each generation I believe we could in fact prove this theory mathematically. Of course we cannot do that. Science can only comment on and theorize about things that can be observed. Sin is like the black matter of the universe that physicist and astronomers search for. We know it exists but we just cannot find it and quantify it.
If we accept that sin has an influence on all the items we can observe then we must also accept that all of our theories and equations are wrong in some way. There is a variable missing, unaccounted for.
I have heard is stated (falsely of course) that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics did not begin until the Fall. This must be an erroneous view. Without some entropy life cannot exists. If, however, after the Fall a new variable was added to the law that we accept then it is possible to envision that sin may in fact increase entropy, decay and degeneration. The influence of this law would have to be so slight that we cannot predict it in a micro view. Consider though we are talking about the cumulative effect of sin over 6000 years. The effect would not have to be so great as to unbalance the equation. If we consider the universe a closed system, which from our perspective it must be, then the idea that entropy increases over time is acceptable. The notion that unseen variables such as sin may in fact affect the increase of entropy in this closed system is neither provable nor disprovable. It remains a matter of faith and a possibility.
Think of the influence of a variable we cannot see or measure but we as Christians know exists. We know mutations occur and science has yet to prove or demonstrate that mutations ever produce an increase in genetic information. Over time and generations information decreases. In the rare cases where mutations are of limited benefit there are dozens more examples of mutations gone awry.
Just why did folks in the Old Testament live so long? There are many theories and the unbeliever would simply say these are fables. I accept the stories to be true and I believe there is a perfectly reasonable explanation. Man was created perfect. The influence of sin is gradual in its lasting effects on each generation (if it were not so humanity would never have survived). Each generation adds to the total of aggregate sin in the world.
You say hold on a minute. How could folks that do not know sin as I believe Christians know sin have committed sin. Remember the discussion of universal truths? I believe all men, in all times have had the opportunity to hear and listen to a piece of the truth. When they failed to listen, they committed sin. In all ancient and primitive cultures there was at one time some version of the truth. When and where a people turned from the truth affects how far that people advanced, how much they were blessed as a people.
You may also say wait another minute. Jesus died for the sins of mankind so the slate ought to have been wiped clean 2000 years ago and the entropy clock restarted.. Maybe my understanding is wrong but did he not die for the sins of all that would believe in him? He did not wipe away sin entirely. His sacrifice made it easier for more men to turn to salvation. It is possible that this did indeed curb the tide of entropy and decay for a time. We might rightly attribute all of the advances resulting from the Enlightenment to a time when entropy was beaten back just a bit by a few centuries of more people receiving salvation. This is possible.
The possibility of this notion of genetic decay based upon the increasing level of sin has many possibilities. The principle that the sins of fathers will be visited on offspring may just have more than metaphorical meaning.
Our psychologist and geneticist tell us that certain bad traits are inherited. We often scoff at this as an excuse to release people from individual responsibility. Suppose that things like alcoholism, criminal proclivity, attraction to perversion and many other things can be inherited. This is not to say that if a person inherits a trait that they must become what their genes dictate, we all have free will. This only means that some people are born with an extra burden, a burden resulting from past sins.
If we accept this notion then things would seem to look grim for us indeed. It would seem that we are caught within a vicious circle. Sins in past generations combine to make it harder for current generations to resist sin. The cumulative impact of sin influences our health, judgment, wisdom, moral compass and our very genetic make-up.
I do not believe this theory is far fetched. In fact it is probably as suitable as any to explain why things are they way they are. It is the exact same thing preachers have said all my life. It just never struck me as being the core of all that is wrong. Sure I accepted that sin was the real enemy of good progress (as opposed to the current view of progress) but I have never stopped to consider just how sin impacts all efforts to make things better or just how deep the hold of sin, past and present has on any efforts we make.
Before you take me as someone that has converted to all doom and gloom just hang on there. I think there are historical examples of communities that have turned the tide in their time. I think it is possible to win battles even if mankind must eventually lose the war (we cannot win alone). The fight is well worth the fight and we can win battle in out time.
Until next time.
Monday, May 09, 2005
I have arrived in my argument at the point it would seem that it is impossible for me to proceed without quantifying the idea that there are indeed universal morals, that there is such a thing as good and bad.
As I stated previously in this series I am not speaking of values or morals as viewed through mere contemporary eyes. This is and always will be a mistake. What we may consider wrong today may have been a necessity in days past. It is also conceivable that some of the things we find morally offensive now may again come into common usage at some point in the future. The world changes, situations change and our idea of temporal right and wrong changes with the times.
What does not change however are universal truths. There are, I believe, things within us that we know to be correct. We might call this human nature but that is of course an inaccurate description. That would seem to indicate that humans are bound to follow their nature. We are not bound to follow the voice inside of us that tells us right from wrong. So human nature does not suffice as a terms to describe what I am referring to.
C.S. Lewis does as fine a job as can be done in his little work Mere Christianity of describing the universal truth of right and wrong. It is clear to any thinking man, whether he agrees that there is a God or not and whether if he accepts a god for his own at all that there must be right and wrong. We simply could not agree or disagree if such a thing did not exist. We base our most pressing disagreements on the notion of something being right and something else being wrong.
Lewis proves rather simply that even evil men that claim no knowledge of good or evil must know it exists. How else could a man, any man, ever claim to have been done wrong or cheated if there does not exist a baseline of commonality regarding right and wrong?
I will not attempt to restate what Lewis states so adequately already. If you doubt my assertion that good and evil, right and wrong truly exist in the universe read Mere Christianity and we can debate the points you find fault with. I shall proceed under the confident knowledge that no intellectually honest man can dispute said arguments.
Obviously there still remains a great gulf between acknowledging that good and evil exists and accepting the particular brand of theology that I hold dear. I shall not attempt to persuade you on these points at this juncture. I think that with the acceptance that good and evil exists as universal principles and are not subject to temporal interpretation we might progress to an examination of my claim that society is degenerating morally.
Consider our current consumer society. Many describe us as post-industrial and this is true in general terms but for the sake of my discussion I will describe our current culture as one based on industrialism, consumerism and progress.
I would venture to guess that most Americans, trained in public schools and taught to yearn for the American Dream would consider the three attributes I described above and claim that those are in fact good traits. This is after all what we have been taught to believe.
At the very core of what we have come to believe we might consider the following:
In our society/culture (general American Culture)
More stuff is considered success in life. We work to acquire more, new and better things when often the things we have might actually serve us just fine. Our insatiable taste for consumerism affects the entire economy, creating inflation and making the things we actually need more expensive. We buy things on credit that we do not need, binding ourselves to financial obligations that strip us of our freedom. As a result we are forced to work longer and harder.
Community, family (extended and nuclear) is of little real importance. We happily move from location to location in search of higher paying jobs. Our communities consist of the hodge-podge of fellow transients living in subdivisions that hardly reflect any real sense of community.
We live essentially to work. Little time remains for intellectual leisure and the limited time we have available for such pursuits is seldom spent doing things that make us better, more enlightened people.
Our economy is dominated by corporations that have the rights of humans but lack the soul and conscience of a human. Whether our taste for consumerism was a result of industrialization that produced an over abundance of goods and therefore required and entire sector of the economy to generate need and create sales matter little, which came first is not the issue. The result is an economy based upon profit, and consumers willing to trade their economic freedom for the latest and greatest gadget. Corporations of enormous scale and size have developed as a result. These corporations cross state and national boundaries. They are protected as legal entities but are not governed by the basic sense of right and wrong inherent in a real person. These corporations and their vast financial resources influence much of our daily lives. They contribute to political causes and candidates; they champion causes and influence the nature and direction of society to a degree that no mere individual citizen might ever hope to.
My description above is but a small list of examples of our societal demise. These items, however, encompass the primary areas that have given rise to all other ills. I would contend that every other problem we have in our current culture arises from this shift in focus to a society of greed. (of course this does not answer the question how we arrived at that point, to that question in time)
Many might claim the answer to fixing all of our ills is merely putting God back in the schools or electing the right sort of politicians. These are mere band-aids applied to a gaping arterial wound. Such measure simply will not correct the course of societal demise.
The core of the problem is that in our modern age of progress and prosperity life is less worth living. The individual man and the family are less valued for the uniqueness of spirit we each possess. We are instead a collective of producers and consumers, nothing more really than cogs in a gigantic machine that has as its chief purpose the perpetration of the machine itself.
Consider if you will how it is possible that a society degenerates to the point that life of the elderly, infirmed and the unborn no longer have real value. Many fine folks spend much of their life attempting to stop or curb the advance of the culture of death. Their fight is one they will eventually loose. We lost the war in this regard when the society in general began to view community and familial links as less important than the pursuit of consumer goods and fancy gadgets.
Others bemoan the abysmally high divorce rates. Some believe that if the family might be strengthened it would be possible to correct the course of society. Again, this is the wrong battle fought too late in the war. We lost any hope of saving the family once we denigrated the noble role of wife, mother and guardian of home and hearth and forced our ladies out of the home in pursuit of material gain. Even those that did not early on succumb to materialism have found themselves faced with the almost inescapable requirement to generate two incomes just to survive. No, simply saving the family by attempting to re-instill simple family values is not the answer nor is the destruction of the family the cause of our troubles it is merely a symptom of the greater sickness and a minor proof that society is deteriorating.
Many good and decent people believe that the problem is that we have simply forgotten, either through apathy or poor education the principles of good government. They believe that the work of the Constitution Party and others in raising issues and educating the populace is the answer. Again, the demise of a solid foundation of civics education and the rise of apathy among voters is not the cause of our ills. This too is merely a symptom of our greater trouble.
There are many among us that would claim disagree with all of the above. We might call these sorts liberals or progressives. They would see the symptoms discussed above as mere social changes; all part and parcel of progress. Progress became such a powerful word in the 20th Century. In reality this became a powerful word in the 19th Century.
Progress, unchecked by a sense of what is right and wrong (in universal and unchanging terms) is a dangerous concept. It was progress that allowed the destruction of the plains Indian, the removal of these people from their lands and the practice of outright genocide.
Progress is the very thing that made greedy industrialist, financers and speculators feel so good about the illegal and immoral annexation of Hawaii and the deposing of the rightful sovereign of that land. I assure you the events surrounding the loss of Hawaiian freedom and self-rule were far from being honest and just.
Progress is the concept that allowed greedy industrialist to pollute the land. This very same progress is the idea that now allows extremist environmentalist to impose radical legislation that tramples the property rights of individuals.
Progress is born of the idea that the end justifies the means. It is based upon situational morality and lacks a foundation in universal truths. To the progressive things such as the Constitution, laws and traditions are mere stumbling blocks that can and are ignored when they get in the way of progress. Many folks cry foul when we in the Southern Movement point out the fact that Lincoln violated the Constitution or that George Bush has recently done so. To the right mind government de jure (of law) ought to always hold sway over temporary needs and wants. Progress is not progress if it destroys the fabric of the nation and the social contract that gave birth to the government.
I agree with many that raise a hue and cry over specific instances of degeneration. I consider the long list of ailments but symptoms pointing back to a greater ill; that being the degeneration of culture from one that respects the individual, the community, the land, family and God.
It is easy to demonstrate the degeneration of society in this regard and therefore add yet another justification of degeneration in general. The only question I have yet to answer is why I believe this degeneration has occurred. I shall address that in my next post on this topic.
Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem