Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Noose

Christian beware!

 

In a previous post, I mentioned how Christianity is being targeted through the Federal Government, by States, corporate pressure such as the NFL, and eventually, when all public acknowledgement of God is quenched, the only thing left will the individual. One of the techniques which is very powerful against the individual, is intimidation. And what better place to intimidate than our places of learning. There, an individual can be overwhelmed by teachers and other students and then intimidated into changing their views or becoming silent.

http://www.breitbart.com/…/university-moves-fire-conservat…/

This article clearly shows the many layers of intimidation a University can use to “correct” wrong beliefs. One layer is the students, which is obvious, and in this article a male student was castigated for defending “man-woman marriage” in an ethics class and a female faculty member rebuked him for being homophobic, sexist, etc., all the typical, liberal PC mumbo-jumbo, and then asked to drop the class! The next layer are the teachers themselves. The conservative Professor, who brought this episode into the open and defended the student, could now lose his job if he doesn’t apologize and admit his “guilt”. No one is safe unless the PC line is taken. Personally, I hope he tells the school, along with the proper directions of course, to proceed to the same place where Dante started his epic journey in the work “The Divine Comedy”!

And to top it all off—Marquette is supposed to be a Jesuit Catholic University! I guess the official catholic teaching is not considered proper for Marquette. Evidently they have a different set of standards which are considered more important and would rather represent something other than Truth! Maybe the Professor is right when he compares Marquette’s “catholic mission” as a “marketing gimmick”!

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These episodes have been around for a while and will only increase as society becomes more “religious” about their anti-Christian views. The noose is tightening around Christianity and Christians. And our options may be somewhat limited, especially when jobs and careers may be on the line as in this article. But Christians must remember the big picture, which is being light to a dark world. We may not be able to “fix” society in the way it should be, we may lose some things, but we definitely can’t relax and we do not have to give in! Ephesians 6:13 reminds us that “having done all, to stand”. That may be all we can do. This Professor may lose his position, but his “stand” will of God! “Standing” is a victory in God’s eyes!

Utopias

In the book “News from Nowhere” by William Morris, a particular kind of utopia is presented. Written in 1912, the story portrays England having changed from a capitalistic society, with all its so-called “negative” characteristics finally having been overcome, to an idyllic place where nature was foremost, and also a place in which governments and all the things associated with a political system were eradicated.

The environment is prominent in this utopia as that society became a “partner” with nature in a way, and formed an existence in which everyone was left to themselves to “be who they really were” without some outside pressure forcing conformity to someone else’s image. The story does present the people as having discovered their own potential, everyone is portrayed as having pursued the things they really enjoyed, whether it was some particular job skill, something from the arts, agriculture pursuits, metal-working, etc. Everyone also helps out his neighbor and everyone has their “place” and all things work efficiently! No activity was viewed as being unimportant or looked down upon, since that society allowed everyone to do what they wanted and so everyone pursued their own satisfactory life and left everyone else alone.

The transition to that utopia stage had to go through revolution and the overthrow of capitalism. The two main pillars of capitalistic thought in this particular story were property and wealth and a thorough discussion follows as to how those things were overcome. Property and wealth were important because that maintained the rich/poor distinction and created the exploitative practices which maintained that duality. Eliminating those two things brought everyone on a kind of “equal” footing. Government, which tended to work on behalf of the rich, was rendered useless and so disappeared. The utopian society soon followed.

We don’t really hear the word “utopia” mentioned much but it’s shadow is still cast upon the thinking of the minds of many people, and I have in mind now liberals, and, with the political season upon us, Bernie Sanders tops that list, especially with his negative ideas of wealth. The ideas of Sanders and other liberals concerning the redistribution of wealth is tantamount to the destruction of wealth and would fundamentally change our capitalistic society as wealth would somehow in a sense be “punishable” by having it taken away. That destruction would provide for many programs, a particular one in this political season being free education from kindergarten through college. This would definitely create a kind of equality, much like in this book. After all, class, sex, race, poverty, etc., none of these things would be an advantage or disadvantage anymore, everyone could be free to pursue what they wanted. But would it really work? I don’t hear much on why this type of wealth redistribution is bad. We should! Utopian thinking is definitely a part of this election cycle!

From the book, the utopians of William Morris’s day must have been somewhat disappointed in society’s inertia to utopian thought. One of the beginning lines has a character unhappily say this in reference to a utopia:

“If I could but see a day of it,” he said to himself; “if I could but see it!”

Utopias are easy to put down on paper, near impossible to put into practice, even for a day. In this story, in which the main character seems to have been transported in a dream to this utopia, the author, a Socialist, shows some doubt about utopias. At the end that character finally shows up back in his own time, not really clear of what went on. As he analyzes the experience he comes to the conclusion that it is a dream, but then rethinks it and then exclaims that if “others can see it as I have seen it, then it may be called a vision rather than a dream.”

That is the scary part about those who think they can remake society into some idyllic place, a dream is different than a vision! A dream is our perceptions, constructed in our minds, but a vision can be considered something “otherworldly”, some kind of special insight obtained about the future. Do liberals especially those who want to really confiscate and redistribute wealth have a vision? I wonder! Should we resist them at all costs? For sure!

Many liberals have pursued redistribution for a long time, among other anti-capitalist ideas. Books like “News from Nowhere” spin some nice yarns such as the idea that eliminating property and wealth would just open up societal possibilities as if we would have a heaven on earth! Easy to create a story with that outcome! That is a reason that liberals need to be constantly challenged!

But “caveat emptor”—“Let the buyer beware!” Utopian thinking leaves out one important component required for success, human nature must be basically good! It is not! It is unsupported by history and experience, namely, that man on his own and in some natural state will act ‘good”. If all government and societal restraint was all of a sudden eliminated, evil would overcome good in no time at all! There are even nations today, which, following the breakdown of their governments, are in constant turmoil and strife. Utopias are not natural!

Utopia stories should be read, though, definitely so. They should be read so that everyone can be reminded what an unrealistic world they portray—and they should be read to remind yourself that much of liberal thinking is a form of utopian thought! So then what should scare us especially about many liberals? It is the fact that much of their thinking does align with utopian ideas, which themselves are based on totally flawed ideas of human nature. If liberals keep winning, America keeps losing!

Wise as Serpents

 

In Matt. 10:16 Christ said:

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

In the beginning Church, Christians faced much persecution which continued off and on for roughly 3 centuries until Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313 B.C., mandating the toleration of Christianity. Ever since that Edict, Christianity flourished and eventually became the main driver of Western Civilization, maybe losing some of its main thrust in the last century or so.

In our day Christianity has affected the world, more or less, in every quarter. The experiences of many modern Christians in these various places around the world are similar to those found in the early Church, with persecutions of various kinds occurring, even death, virtually on a daily basis. Christians in the United States, though, have largely been spared the kinds of travail experienced by these fellow believers.

But Christians here in the US are facing their own particular kind of challenge and unless we are circumspect, our ability to be “salt” and “light” to our surrounding culture may be lost. It should be a given that there will always be a number of things out of Christians’ control, especially when it involves the thoughts and actions of a large society governed and controlled by many federal and state institutions, with an increasingly secularized focus. One of the challenges of the Church of today is recognizing the difference between the things which are or are not in our control!

We live in a particularly acute historical moment in which public religious belief and expression is looked upon negatively across a very wide spectrum of our society and in many cases, aggressively challenged. While there has always been issues that crop up about the limits of religious freedom or the exact meaning of “separation of church and state” as well as some other things, many of these issues involve questions about the kinds of religious expressions and actions acceptable in what has become an increasingly secularized society.

Not so now! With Supreme Court decisions such as the Affordable Care Act and the Marriage Equality Decisions being mandated for the whole nation, major questions have been raised concerning religious conscience and the right to be exempted from all or part of these laws, with the result that Christian practice at many levels is under pressure to conform or else! For example, the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision concerning contraception, particularly those considered abortifacients and which Hobby Lobby wanted exemption from having to provide, was a hard fought battle and there is no guarantee the decision will stand when the next Supreme Court justice is sworn in. Those kinds of victories may be harder to come by in the future. Also, the homosexual marriage decision conflicts with the religious conscience of those who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and impacts many areas correlated with traditional marriage. These issues are very weighty and are already affecting the course of Christianity in this nation.

Following these Supreme Court decisions, there have followed lower court decisions which concentrated on other kinds of businesses and the limits of their responsibility in performing services which may run counter to their religious views, an example being the Oregon cake makers. There may be claims of discrimination or unfairness which are appropriate to ask in some of these scenarios, but the troubling aspect is the way religious expression is quenched so quickly and treated as an illegitimate argument. The breadth and scope of these Court decisions have been forced upon religious believers by fiat and Christians are somehow supposed to conform automatically without having their religious conscience objections addressed in a more timely and patient manner!

Other troubling areas of concern are the efforts, such as those by the ACLU, which are attempting to force Catholic Hospitals to provide abortions, a major clash with Catholic thought. We must also not forget the attempts in 2014 by the openly homosexual, Houston, Texas mayor, who wanted sermons about homosexuality or gender identity to be collected from the area pastors. This in response to an equal rights ordinance the city was trying to enact. Going into churches to retrieve particular kinds of sermons is a chilling exercise of government overreach and luckily has been thwarted — this time! The latest “challenge” is maybe the most subtle, the NFL is threatening Georgia about negating possible Super Bowls in Atlanta, if the State continues with its Religious Freedom Bill. And on and on!

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/03/20/nfl-says-georgia-religious-exemptions-bill-might-cost-atlanta-super-bowl-bid.html

Standing at a distance and viewing the larger picture, one can see a particular method of attack against our Christian culture of today. Major efforts are expended in trying to nullify the Christian influence in the wider public sphere, on a national level and also a state level. If the Houston, Texas example involving the collection of sermons is any indication of what is to come, then churches will eventually face a more concerted effort to have the Biblical message diluted, especially as the true Gospel is perceived as more politically incorrect and dangerous to a secular society. Income tax status comes to mind as an example of an intimidating device which can be used against pastors.

Eventually, though, the individual Christian will have to be countered by a secular society. After all, the main source of the Christian witness is person to person. How that “countering” will come about is trickier to determine. This is where the verse about being “wise as serpents” is important. Christians have to be able to recognize when an effort is being made to nullify their witness of Christ and to take a stand. We may not have control ultimately what a state like Georgia will do in response to the NFL’s pressure, or the Supreme Court and its reach, or the secular changes affecting our nation, but Christian individuals do have control over their own responses and their own stand! That is where the real “salt” and “light” will reside! Or be lost!

Human rights

From the Townhall meeting moderated by Fox network, this exchange took place:

 

“I believe that health care is a right of all people,” he said.

 

Where does that right come from? Baier pressed the senator.

 

“From being a human being,” Sanders responded.

 

 

 

“Rights” come in all sizes and shapes, in one way or another rights have been articulated in some form in nearly every society from every age. “Human rights” though has only a recent pedigree, a few centuries or more. “Human rights” are those rights predicated on mere existence. We can modify Descartes famous phrase, Cogito ergo sum, which translates “I think, therefore I am”, like this: “I exist, therefore I have ______”, with the blank representing “rights”. Filling in this blank with an articulated list of “human rights” is not easy. A true list, that is!

 

 

Such rights though, would at least be those which our Declaration of Independence describes as “certain unalienable rights”. The Declaration lists three of those: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. These three rights are interconnected, I am alive thus I can move about and act and those actions can be geared towards the things which I believe would constitute happiness. And one of the roles of government is to protect that environment so individuals can experience those “rights” completely. I would venture that most people would accept those three examples!

 

 

Now there are a host of other kinds of “rights” which flow from the exercise of government in its role over society. We enjoy many of those and we disagree with some of these, but they come out of processes in which “the people” have a say regarding. “Human rights”, by contrast, are those rights which just are! And in much of our political discourse going on today, two more rights are topics of heated discussions: free education and universal healthcare. These may emerge as some kind of right legally, but are these rights “human rights”? If they are, then we are absolutely stuck with them as a structural part of our nation! If they are not, then we have the freedom to approach the issues more pragmatically and hopefully we will.

 

 

But politicians, especially liberal democrats, who love to tinker with society in a utopian kind of way, think everything they want is a “human right”. This phrase is not used accidentally, connecting these issues with “human rights” gives the right an overly important and profound existential quality to it. It also gains a certain emotive force from that designation!

 

But does the fact of my existence include healthcare? What if there are not enough doctors, what if the healthcare I want is an abortion and a doctor’s conscience forbids him to act accordingly. Does the government force the doctor to comply so that my right to an abortion can be exercised? The problems with the healthcare issue being a human right is that it involves too many other people acting on your behalf. The right to universal healthcare is not like the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Their substances are made up of very different material. Hopefully that distinction is seen when contrasted this way!

 

I illustrate these distinctions with a gedanken experiment or “thought experiment”. Suppose a group of 100 people find themselves on a deserted island, where everything starts from scratch. No law, no government, etc. The question is this—what are my rights? With no organized societal structure your rights will be only those which are “human rights”. Now what are they? It is a hard list to compile. We would at least accept “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”. But it gets more difficult after that. Does healthcare as a “human right” make sense in this context? It doesn’t!

 

Anything can be claimed as a “human right”, that doesn’t mean it is—hopefully enough Repub leaders understand this distinction and approach healthcare and education responsibly! We know liberals won’t! It is scary, thinking what this nation could become if certain ones gain the Presidency! Lot at stake in these elections!