Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

Bloodless Moralism – First Things Magazine

August 25, 2015

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/02/bloodless-moralism

Helen Andrews writes an interesting article about moral decisions in First Things magazine.  It essentially is a treatise on the current method of justifying moral decisions on the political and social theory level using statistics and heresy, and contrasts it with how the same decisions are made on the personal level. It implies that over-reliance on the statistical method can lead to absurdity. I agree. Here are some of my favorite quotes from it:

“We are hesitant, almost to the point of paralysis, about making moral claims on moral grounds.”

“During the Depression, the problems that government sought to address had mostly been brought to its attention by cries from below, expressed by people who could see the problem with their own eyes. From Kennedy’s presidency onward, bureaucrats armed with national statistics—then a fairly new phenomenon, not coincidentally—began searching their data for problems to solve, whether popular demand for such solutions existed or not.”

“When professionals put such zest and seriousness into persuading people that they have a problem that can be solved, several things can go wrong. It may be that the targets of their attentions have a problem that cannot be solved. It may be that they do not have a problem at all. Or it may be that they do have a problem and it can be solved, but it would be better for them in the meantime to be able to appreciate, relish, draw from, or find the richness in their problem instead of simply deprecating it. The professionals’ response to each of these three possibilities ends in false hope, false despair, or false resentment for the sufferers, yet ever greater self-satisfaction for their would-be saviors.”

“If the governor of New York were to promise to abolish stupidity within ten years, anyone hearing him would think, “Physician, heal thyself.”

“Membership in the lower class, for example, has never been a picnic, but it used to be something that a person could draw from and take pride in. Described in the terms that politics permits us to use today, as “socioeconomic disadvantage” (or worse, “lack of privilege”), it sounds like nothing more than a list of things to complain of.”

“During the Cold War, especially its early stages, the books written in defense of the Soviet model fairly bristled with statistics. Wisely, the West’s more effective defenders did not attempt to refute tractor-production figures from the Ukraine with tractor-production figures from Moline, Illinois. They made more fundamental points, like the difficulty of collecting accurate statistics in a police state, or the conclusiveness with which even accurate statistics are trumped by the brute fact of mass starvation.”

At a more Kirkian level of abstraction, there were such simple observations as: Our people are free, yours are not; we produce poetry, you produce propaganda; our cities are beautiful, yours are hideous. The equivalent arguments in the modern context might be (1) no amount of creative accounting will convince a sane person that you have made a money-saver out of a vast new entitlement like Obamacare; (2) no study could ever refute the fact that character is both a cause and a casualty of government-subsidized poverty; and (3) I will listen to econometricians as soon as you show me one that can write with more fluency than a high school sophomore.”

“…they have an idealized picture of the sciences as a self-policing community of disinterested truth-seekers with laboratories and databases and state-of-the-art modeling programs.”

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Independence Day, Flags, and Rainbows

July 3, 2015

Romans 2:4-5:  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 


To help us appreciate the Sacred nature of America’s birth, and the way in which the celebration of her birth was to be commemorated in a Christian society, I offer the words of Founding Father John Adams (emphasis mine):

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epoch, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty (http://www1.american.edu/heintze/Adams.htm.)


This independence Day, July 4, 2015, will be the first in which mourning rather than celebration is the appropriate behavior, as we remember an America that once was, but now is deceased.  Oh, there will be celebrations all right, but many of the celebrants will be committing acts of devotion to Bacchus, not God Almighty.  America has rejected God’s blessings, and now stokes the fires of His Rage. We are but one or two steps from retiring the Stars and Stripes and raising the Rainbow flag in its place.  


The funny thing about that Rainbow flag, representing Sodomy as it does.  When God destroyed all living with a flood of water, saving only Noah and his family, God used the rainbow to symbolize his covenant with a fresh new world, purged of sin and ready to be replenished.   

Genesis 9:13:  I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.


But sin found its way into the New Earth soon, with Noah’s son Ham committing an act of sexual perversion on his own father.  It is thought by some that Ham’s son Canaan participated in the evil deed also, or even that the “younger son” referred to in the passage is in fact Canaan, not Ham.

Genesis 9:24:  And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.

As to what exactly what was done, it is clearly inferred from the text that a gross act of sin was “done unto him”;  one that warranted one of the most severe curses found in scripture:

Genesis 9:25-27:  And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.  And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.  God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

So God blessed mankind and symbolized the covenant with a rainbow, and man responded by reintroducing sin into the freshly purged world.  And today man takes that sacred symbol and uses it to blaspheme God; to revile Him, to display for all to see their hard and impenitent hearts, their hatred of God, and their love of death. Yet for all their provocations of God’s wrath and abuses of His patience, when they have finally filled full the winepress of His wrath, as He pours out His vials upon them, they will yet again accuse God of cruelty and malice, and will not repent of their blasphemies.

Revelation 16:11:  And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.  

Perhaps the Day of Purification has Arrived

June 29, 2015

I have done very little posting on this or any of my other blogs since the re-election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States in 2012, due in great part to the overwhelming sense of rejection I feel from my own fellow American citizens.  On 26 June 2015, only two and a half years after that, the final blow to the American version of Western Civilization was delivered.  Somehow, someway, the haters of God have succeeded in turning not only Godliness but the very course of nature on its head, and have twisted the holy relationship of marriage into an unholy deformity of the original meaning of that God-Ordained institution.  The relationship between the Church and American society and its government is now officially broken.  Maybe now Christian Evangelicals and Fundamentalists will cease the blind patriotism that this wicked nation’s politicians has exploited.  The United States and well as modern Israel are wicked nations that have been promoting homosexuality for at least six decades, if not longer; yet even with the homosexualization of the military itself, Christian young people are going into foreign lands to fight wars that have ambiguous goals, to be injured or killed for reasons that are either kept secret or are arbitrary, for a nation that exalts wickedness as a virtue, and shames Godliness as a vice.  The Beast is already mandating its mark; to “buy or sell”, one must bear it.  Can worse things be very far behind?  No.  And shall you and I stand on the day of our trial?  Well, according to scripture, God desires “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  Perhaps the day of purification has arrived.

Ron Paul’s Predictions

January 13, 2012

http://ahref=

Economics, Second Lesson: WORK, the First Foundation of Prosperity

August 27, 2010

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (II Thess 3:10)

 In case I haven’t said this before, I am not a professional economist (I make my living as a Military Education and Training Manager), nor do I have a degree in economics (but I do have a BA in Religion and Philosophy, Sterling College, 2010), nor has economics been the focus of the larger portion of my studies (that honor goes to the Bible and all things related to it).  However, a lifetime of observation, along with a couple of college courses in Economics, and a great deal of independent study has led me to certain obvious conclusions concerning economics.

 One of those obvious conclusions is that we (America) are NOT HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!  How is that, you say?

 Well, let me summarize it this way:  We are violating God’s Word every day.

 No, that’s not hyperbole.  It’s no exaggeration.  Stealing is a violation of the 8th Commandment, and the U.S. Government steals every day.  We covered that in our first installment of our economic commentary.

 Another way we violate God’s world every day is by allowing people that will not work to have food.  Yes, you read that right.  The Bible plainly says that if anyone will not work, neither should they eat.

 Now to save myself from the indignation of those that may not understand this law, let me say that I do not wish or desire in any way that non-working people will begin starving in the streets of our country.  No, I do not mean that at all; nor is the biblical passage I quoted to be taken to that extreme, absolute understanding.

 The key to the passage is the word “would”, which indicates that the violators of this law is not those who cannot work, but those who will not work.

 Unfortunately, in today’s society, work has lost its full original meaning, its vital role in imparting meaning to life, and separating the human being from the automaton world of animals.  This and other higher purposes of work will be the subject of future installments, but for now I’ll concentrate on the most basic purpose of work – sustenance.

 The scripture with which I opened the post makes it very plain – if a person will not work, that person should not eat. 

 Is the Bible the Word of God?  I say yes, but I’ll let the read abide by his or her own conscience.  But let’s be perfectly clear that the biblical rule is plain.  If a person wants to eat, that person must work.  It’s just that simple.

 Many people have a dreamy, euphoric, utopian idea of God’s economy.  We’ve watched movies where people sit quietly around the feet of Christ and everyone seems happy and well fed.  But the fact is that Christ’s first disciples had to work to eat, the Church fathers had to work to eat, I have to work to eat – EVERYONE has to work to eat.  Those that eat but won’t work are stealing from those that do work.  This is a take-home truth for all people and societies, whether Christian or not.

 But again, this rebuke has nothing to do with people that cannot work, or has left off of working for an income because they have accumulated enough savings to do so, or are receiving a pension.  People that cannot work are to be the recipients of charity (a subject for a future post), and people with savings or pensions earned their income through work.  But this rebuke DOES apply to those who see nothing wrong with living off the labor of others.  Indeed, I will drive this home to our present situation.  I am advocating the total elimination of state-sponsored welfare.  Giving people who will not work money and food is a violation of God’s word.  Stop it!

Now, let me explain that the elimination of welfare must be accompanied by the elimination of the minimum wage.  The elimination of welfare and the minimum wage together would have the effect of practially ending unemployment.  Every able-bodied man would be expected to work, and most of them would gladly work.  Many men are on welfare, or selling drugs, or just bumming around that would work if they had an expectation of finding a job.  Not only would eliminating the minimum wage make jobs abundant, it would actually drive wages UP for many workers.  Money otherwise spent on over-paying part time teenage employees could be spent on better pay for experienced and skilled workers.  So we see that doing away with two American idols – welfare and the minimum wage – would bring about a tremendous boom in the area of economy and also in the area of societal morale.

We’ll continue our little discourse on work next time.  In the mean time, the reader should exercise his mind on the following article by Jordan Ballor on the Acton Institute website, access on 25 Aug 2010 at

 http://www.acton.org/pub/commentary/2010/07/28/lutheran-world-federation-misses-mark-work-and-wea

The eleventh General Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation wrapped up yesterday, and the theme of the conference was a petition from the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). There was a good deal of reflection and self-expression from the hundreds of delegates gathered in Stuttgart, Germany, on topics related to global poverty and hunger. And while the assembly’s introduction explicitly noted the contribution of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the LWF meeting would have been improved if there had been a more substantive integration of Bonhoeffer’s views on the ecumenical movement, poverty, and work, into its proceedings.

 The LWF is a global ecumenical body consisting of 140 member churches in 79 countries, representing over 70 million Christians. The LWF, founded in Lund, Sweden in 1947, has much to learn from the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed in the prime of his life by the Nazis two years earlier. This year’s LWF assembly opened on July 20, the sixty-sixth anniversary of the failed Stauffenberg plot to assassinate Hitler, in which Bonhoeffer was implicated. This year also represents the seventy-fifth anniversary of one of Bonhoeffer’s most significant essays, “The Confessing Church and the Ecumenical Movement.” In this essay, Bonhoeffer challenges the ecumenical movement to identify itself as either an institutional form of the Christian church, with all the attendant responsibilities and duties, or as a simple gathering of interested Christians, with no binding authority or official purview.

In the latter case, says Bonhoeffer, the actions of such a group would have “only a neutral character, not involving any confession, and this conversation might only have the informative character of a discussion, without including a judgment or even a decision on this or that doctrine, or even church.” In the intervening decades, Bonhoeffer’s challenge continues to resonate, since the LWF, for instance, continues to waver between its self-understanding as an expression of Christian communion on the one side, and its political and social activism on the other.

The problem with the social witness of the LWF and the broader ecumenical movement is not simply that it addresses problems like hunger or poverty. It is, instead, the way in which it has done so, as typified in the recent Stuttgart meeting. Here we saw statements decrying “illegitimate debt,” the privileging of “profits over people,” and in the words of LWF general secretary Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko, “the gap between those who do not have enough to eat and those who have far more than they need.” But beyond this kind of activist jingoism, or pietistic bewailing, there was precious little in terms of helpful analysis of the complex realities of a globalized world.

Rather than engage in the difficult work of providing a coherent and normative basis for responsible social proclamation, the LWF preferred instead — as is so often the case in the deliberations of mainline ecumenical groups — to point to “neoliberal globalization” as the structural injustice causing extreme poverty in the world. The missing element in the LWF’s poverty discussions, most recently at the General Assembly, has been a nuanced and comprehensive valuation of the role of creative work and entrepreneurship in the creation of material wealth. The social witness of ecumenical groups like the LWF have, for the better part of the past 50 years, consistently undermined work and labor as God’s order of blessings to provide material sustenance for humankind.

Bonhoeffer himself identified the mandate of “work” and “culture” (in the sense of human cultivation of God’s creation) as one of the four arenas (in addition to the family, church, and government) in which we fulfill our calling to serve God through our service to others. There are certainly cases in which God miraculously or specially provides material goods for our wellbeing, such as manna and quail from heaven (Exodus 16) or the seemingly bottomless baskets of bread and fish (Mark 6:30-44). But the regular means that God has graciously ordered in the world for meeting our physical needs is the realm of work.

We can see this in the Apostle’s injunction, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). Far too little of the LWF deliberations about the nature of food and hunger, work and poverty, have focused on the role of human labor in economic relationships. The difference between the productive worker in a modern economy and the subsistence labor in primitive societies is the extent to which the worker and the fruits of his or her labor are brought into relationship with neighbors: local, regional, national, and international.

As the Reformed author Lester DeKoster writes in his little classic, Work: The Meaning of Your Life—A Christian Perspective, “Our working puts us in the service of others; the civilization that work creates puts others in the service of ourselves. Thus, work restores the broken family of humankind.” This connection of work to civilization is achieved through the kind of relationships made possible in a globalized world. And the ideological opposition to globalization manifest in the ecumenical movement would relegate the labor of those in the developing world to the margins of civilization itself.

As Bonhoeffer writes of the relationship between work and our daily bread, “the bread is God’s free and gracious gift. We cannot simply take it for granted that our own work provides us with bread; rather this is God’s order of grace.” It is precisely this “order of grace” that the developing world needs most, and the social witness of the ecumenical movement offers least.

 

Future topics: 

The Three Classes of Work:  Sustaining, Productive, and Fulfilling

Charity

The Elements of Prosperity: Work, Freedom, Innovation, Creativity, Rights.

Poverty:  Where the elements of prosperity do not exist, prosperity itself does not exist.

Good Economic Intentions

August 17, 2010

Although these videos were made quite some time ago, they could have been made yesterday, in that they speak directly to today’s problems.

Our nation is woefully lacking in economic education.  To counter this trend, I will be posting on the subject as I have opportunity.

I have been hesitant to do this, seeing that this blog was intended for theological subjects only; but we do find some economic principles in the Bible that we believe proclaim God’s voice in the matter.

It’s at this point I should remind or inform the reader that  economics is a social science, not a business science.  It affects human beings, and a nation’s economic policies are intrinsically entwined with its politics and view of individual freedom.  America has strayed WAY OFF the true course and has adopted a Godless view of humanity.  Our economic policies are reflective of this Godlessness.

We’ll have more to say as time passes, but for now, let’s break the ice with Dr. Williams:

Douglas Wilson on Popular Culture

August 7, 2009

Disclaimer:  I don’t follow Federal Vision theology. 

However, Douglas Wilson, who does, is a brilliant communicator of truth nevertheless. 

The following articles is a peak into this great mind speaking on a rather tired yet ever-important subject.

The article is copied from the blog “Blog and Mablog”, found at:  http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=6807.

 

 

Unleashing Your Inner Fundamentalist

Topic: Sex and Culture
Suppose that John R. Rice, during his Sword of the Lord days, accidentally took a couple hits of acid, and prophesied wildly about what would happen down the road if women quit wearing their hair in a bun, and started wearing slacks like crazy. Suppose he got really out there, and promised us all that the day would soon come when men would be marrying men, and women women. He said that people would begin paying surgeons to cut perfectly good organs off so they could justify wearing a dress, and that Secular Man, in solemn assembly, would pronounce the results to be a surgically-altered good. And the evening and the morning were the weird day.

Suppose he had done that. The results have refuted his predictions exactly . . . how? If we added up all the dire predictions that the fundamentalists have made down through the years, what about them didn’t happen? Fundamentalists are the cassandras of American cultural life. Back when everything seemed so stable in its Eisenhowerishness, the fundamentalist would say that everything was soon to be headed for hell in a handbasket. Ho, ho, ho was the cogent reply. Now here we are bouncing along in the handbasket, with some of the more gifted of our number getting grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to puke over the side of the handbasket as we bounce along. “This small performance is one I like to call ‘Seasickness Against the Absolute.’ Thank you, thank you!” And a fundamentalist in the corner says, “You know, I don’t see how you can call that art.” Everybody, all together now, ho, ho, ho!Fast forward to our day. When people object to tattoos, or jewels stuck in odd places, and someone objects to the objection by saying that back in the day they used to object to slacks for women, what about this makes it seem like a strong argument? Now before anyone rushes to the keyboard in order to type I can’t believe . . ., let me say that I do believe the fundamentalist argument is simplistic and inadequate. But compared to the arguments for getting the tats and other badges of the moment, the fundamentalists come off looking like Derrida on one of his subtler days.

A fundamentalist woman in a sun bonnet and a gingham dress, who gets a wicker basket to go pick blueberries, so she can bake her man a pie, with a golden crust, the kind he likes, may be a little bit hokey for your tastes, and certainly for mine. But at least she is trying to achieve an effect that the Bible says women should strive for — she wants to be modest and discrete. She is not trying to achieve an effect that the Bible never urges women to strive for, as in “edgy.” Or “provocative, but not too skanky for an evangelical.” She may be playing the instrument badly, but at least she is playing the right one. Suppose the Bible tells women to play the piano. This does not make every woman an accomplished pianist, but I do have respect for every woman who practices the piano, blunders and all. But the women who show up with a leaky concertina they got at Goodwill are trying to do something else. In other words, let us make a distinction between doing the right thing badly, and doing the wrong thing well. And, as Herodotus might say, so much for the fundamentalists.

Let’s talk for a moment about establishment worldliness, as distinct from organic food, tattooed, burlap shopping bag, NPR-listening worldliness. There is country club worldliness, and there is earth muffin worldliness. When I tag tats and odd jewelry as worldliness, as I have most certainly done, the response is often that women who have their nails done by Pierre at the salon for six hundred dollars a minute can be worldly too. There is a two-fold response to this. The first is sure, worldliness is quite possible there, and at this ostentatious level, inevitable. But what is that to you? You follow Christ. The fact that she shouldn’t be at the salon doesn’t mean that you get to go to the tattoo parlor. And secondly, this kind of monied worldliness is the result of a real failure in the right area, as opposed to success in the wrong one. Bear with me for a minute.

The Bible calls upon women to be sober (Tit. 2:4) and discrete (Tit. 2:5). They are to live in a way that provides no occasion for others to speak reproachfully (1 Tim. 5:14). Their demeanor should be characterized by shamefacedness (1 Tim. 2:9) and sobriety (1 Tim. 2:9). It is important to note that the word translated shamefacedness is aidous, which does not denote an Islamic browbeaten demeanor. That said, neither does it constitute an invitation to go ahead and buy a halter top that is two sizes too small. The word is not that elastic, unlike the halter top. In this same verse, the ESV says that women should wear respectable apparel. The word is one of those judgment-call words.

Who makes the judgments? The Bible says that older women should teach younger women how to achieve that effect, an effect we can sum up with the word respectable. Strikingly, it does not call upon the younger women to push the envelope until the older women finally say something critical about it. Again, the older women are to help the younger women try to achieve a modest respectability. The younger women are not called upon to demand the older women prove that something or other is not positively disreputable. According to the Bible, respectability is the goal. This means that the wife of the country club president is being worldly as she tries too hard to be respectable, with results that are too flashy. And she shouldn’t do that — she is playing the piano poorly. But a woman who is schlepping around the supermarket in sweat pants is playing the concertina, and it doesn’t matter if she is playing poorly or well.

Clothing and jewelry are all forms of communication. They are a form of language. Some elements of communication and language are universal — such as laughter or weeping. Other forms are culturally determined, such as a phonetic collection of sounds that mean an obscenity in one language and doorknob in another. When someone inveighs against tattoos, as I am more than willing to do, the resultant dispute often gets dragged into a debate over whether there is a deep structure to this, like laughter (as I believe), or not. But this usually happens with the objectors bringing an assumption that if it is not a universal sort of thing, then it is entirely arbitrary, and nobody can say anything about it. But the fact that English obscenities are not obscenities in every language does not grant one the right to stand on the street corner, yelling them at the passing motorists.

There is a deep, human way of showing respect, and there are particular linguistic ways of doing so. The Bible requires us to use both and to honor both. And the Bible says that younger women should learn about respectability from older women, and not the other way around. Any system of propriety-definition that has to say that the younger women know more about it than do the older women has scratched at the starting line. Whether we are talking about creational language or cultural language, showing honor and respect are the fixed goals. We shouldn’t be distracted by the creational/cultural debate such that we allow in a different goal entirely just so long as “it is not a sin in every culture.” A Christian woman may not adorn herself in a way that is flippant, lazy, disrespectful, or irreverent. And if she has an honest question about something that seems on the line, she should ask her grandmother, not her fourteen-year-old cousin.

Now I am prepared to argue that bodily mutilation and tatting is a necessary manifestation of cultural unbelief (Lev. 19:27-28; 1 Kings 18:28; Gal. 5:12). Idols always bring the knives with them. God created man in His image, like a priceless Durer woodcut, and so the devil brings the marker pens to doodle with. But suppose for a moment that this is all wrong, and that hypothetically and postmillennially there could be a culture someday in which tatting up your thirteen year virgin with dragon pictures was a practice that God the Father thought was swell, and about time the Holy Spirit added, encouragingly. It still remains true that in our culture, in English, nothing says trailer trash like a halter top and a tat. And when you get a nose stud, you are a lot closer to Brittany and Paris Hilton than you were before, and farther away from all the fifty-year-old church ladies. Which, come to think of it, may have been the whole point.

Posted by Douglas Wilson – 8/5/2009 5:51:27 PM