Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Murderous Horde


New York Post, 11-28-08

Shocking video from a Long Island Wal-Mart shows police officers giving a trampled worker CPR. The man died a short while later.

Throngs of Black Friday shoppers stampeded the man as they rushed into the Green Acres mall in Valley Stream minutes before it opened.

"When the doors opened, all hell broke loose," a law enforcement source told The Post.

Kent Comments:

Do Wal-mart and stores who continue to encourage this sort of thing share the blame for this tragic stupidity?  Of course.  (Use the story link to view the video - it is morbidly interesting.)

There is absolutely no reason to have these maniacal ‘one day’ sales.  It is somewhat, thought not exactly, akin to the old “yelling ‘fire’ in the crowded theater” scenario.  No doubt, the lawsuits will fly over this one.

But none of this excuses the people actually involved in stampeding into this store, killing this worker and injuring an unborn baby.

No one is compelled to attend these asinine shopping events.  And even those who do need not behave like animals.

In fact, and I mean this sincerely, I favor gunning down this kind of murderous horde like the animals they proved that they are.  Lock and load.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Avoiding Thanksgiving

What are often called ‘religious holidays’ present a cultural challenge to secularists.  The revolt against Christmas has been ongoing for some time.  In fact, both sides seem to be a bit tired of that one, now that something of a cease-fire has been achieved with the anti-Christmas forces holding a significant majority of the cultural territory.

Easter is another stickler.  If a secularist is not careful, an image of the risen Christ is liable to pop out from behind an Easter bunny somewhere.  That would be a shocking retreat to barbarism to a convinced secularist.

Thanksgiving, however, might be the worst obstacle of all to cultural secularists.  Christmas is very complex, with Santas and stockings available - when misused - to obscure the view of the Christ.  Easter can be thought of as a mere celebration of spring or some such inane thing.

But what to do with something simple and straightforward like Thanksgiving?

There have been valiant attempts.  The secularist can pretend to go along with the idea until just short of its logical conclusion.  We could just be ‘thankful’ while trying hard not to specify to whom we are thankful.  I heard somewhere of some school children who were instructed to be ‘thankful to Thanksgiving.’  Ah, the wisdom of education majors!

But thankfulness is a condition that demands an object.  An that object has to make sense for the level of thankfulness we maintain.  It’s fine to be thankful to your neighbor for being a good neighbor.  But where can we locate the object of our thanksgiving when we are thankful for things like the very fact of humanity, the good of goodness, and the beauty of the world in which we exist?

That kind of thankfulness, should any secularist dare to indulge in it, points to none other than God Almighty, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

It is a rather uncomfortable situation - unless, that is, you are simply willing to give Him thanks.  And I say this with very sincere apologies to secularists everywhere.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Those Dreaded 'Christianists' and Horrible Creationists

Recently, at the university where my ministry is located, there was a little outburst of that smoldering flame that is ‘creation vs. evolution.’ For some time now, certain scientists have tried to ‘run out of the neighborhood’ anyone who brings even a hint of an intelligent designer into the discussion of origins.

I have been amazed over the years at how vehemently the idea of any intelligence behind the observed order in living things is often rejected. It is as though a deeply-held faith in some is challenged by such an idea.

Christendom has often been lambasted for sometimes insisting on a certain orthodoxy of belief. Yet some in the community of scientists seem to insist on their own version of orthodoxy with a zeal that makes many Christian believers seem tame in comparison.

I once witnessed a discussion between a man with a Ph. D. in biology from Florida State University and a (former) NKU science faculty member. At one point in the discussion the fellow from Florida State suggested that he was not certain of the age of the universe.

At that point the NKU science faculty member stood up and said, "If you do not think the universe is at least four billion years old, we have nothing further to discuss!" and curtly dismissed the fellow from Florida State.

It is this kind of cavalier dogmatism (which is unfortunately not rare as it should be among scientists) that some of us find puzzling, distressing, and not quite in harmony with the spirit of free and open inquiry.

Not long ago a psychology professor here tried to put his two-cents worth into this discussion. He asserted that faith and science need not be at odds. He then claimed that the assumption that creationists are few and ignorant is false. Finally, he pointed out that faith is not (contrary to popular opinion) ‘believing that for which there is no evidence.’

(This is a short summary. Read the whole article here.)

Whether you agree or not, these are certainly relevant points worth making.

Along, then, came this brilliant response:

Are you KIDDING me??? Carbon dating is (a) science that (b) proves that the earth is more than 6,000 years old. Period. No ifs, ands, buts. Any reasonable search demonstrates that those who reject this proven theory are Christianists, not Christians. Seems to me as if this joker of a faculty member is a Christianist, not a Christian. Really sad that NKU students are being taught by some fool who puts religious dogma ahead of science. Science and faith are NOT mutually exclusive, but apparently "NKU" and "integrity” are, given that NKU employs such a fool. [edited slightly to improve readability]

Here, on public display, is a small part of the problem in this discussion. The psychology professor said nothing about the age of the earth, so the carbon dating business is simply not to the point.

‘Christianist’ is a hip, relatively new term coined to denote those who think Christianity is ‘superior’ to other religions - in other words, those who think the claims of Christianity are true. (Heaven forbid that Christianity be true!)

So, in other words, according to this respondent, a Christian should not think Christianity is true. As strange as that is, I won’t explore it just now.

Finally, the respondent calls the psychology professor a ‘joker’ and a ‘fool.’ Yes, such thoughtful labels make an irrefutable argument.

Here is an example of an open mind, a denizen, I presume, of modern academia. Call your opponent a couple of bad names, and, case closed.

We can only hope that, whoever this respondent is, he does not claim to be a scientist. Scientists are surely a much better bunch than that.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Moderate-to-Progressive Christ

The newsletter at my university recently carried this notice:

Episcopal Campus Ministry
The Episcopal Campus Ministry is now having meetings on Wednesday at 4:30 PM in the Interfaith Meeting Space in UC 206. We are in desperate need of new members. Anyone who is part of the Episcopal Church, or a moderate-to-progressive Christian, or is wanting to know Christ for the first time is more than welcome here.

Desperately seeking ‘moderate-to-progressive’ Christians. What, exactly, are these?

There has come to be a rather standard, though somewhat loose, meaning behind this phrase. These are ‘Christians’ who are not too worried about sound doctrine - they might not even think there is such a thing. They are ‘Christians’ who are willing to tolerate, or even support, leftist political causes. They are ‘Christians’ who are willing to tolerate almost anything, except those who are not willing to tolerate almost anything.

Are such as these really Christians in any significant sense of the word? Could anyone come to ‘know Christ for the first time’ from those who hold to this version of ‘Christianity’?

Of course, even the person of Jesus Christ is severely reinvented by ‘progressive’ Christians. In this context, Christ is disconnected from scripture and history, so he is easily reinvented. He becomes a ‘moderate-to-progressive’ Christ.

Just what we all need.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


So how do voters (as a group - apologies to you sane individuals out there) get themselves into these messes?

Of course, many people are stupid. Some are misled. Others vote without much care for the outcome.

But this little ditty, sent to me by a friend, does illustrate something important. It illustrates of the 'bread and circuses' phenomenon that is at least as old as the later Roman Empire:

The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while teaching third grade in 2008. The presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest. I decided we would have an election for a class president. We would choose our nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote. To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members. We discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have. We got many nominations and from those, Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot.

The class had done a great job in their selections. Both candidates were good kids. I thought Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support. I had never seen Olivia's mother. The day arrived when they were to make their speeches Jamie went first. He had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best. Every one applauded. He sat down and Olivia came to the podium. Her speech was short and concise.

She said, "If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream." She sat down.

The class went wild. "Yes! Yes! We want ice cream."

She surely would say more. She did not have to. A discussion followed. How did she plan to pay for the ice cream? She wasn't sure. Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it. She didn't know. The class really didn't care. All they were thinking about was ice cream. Jamie was forgotten. Olivia won by a landslide.

Every time Barack Obama opened his mouth he offered ice cream, and fifty percent of America reacted like nine-year-olds. They want ice cream.

The other fifty percent know they're going to have to feed the cow.

The problem is even worse than this because the cow-feeders are even less evenly distributed than that. Check this page at the National Taxpayers Union and you will find that, in regard to national income taxes, the burden of 'feeding the cow' is much more top-loaded than that.

I recently overheard a young school teacher musing about the election. He had heard, he said, that Obama would increase the salaries of school teachers. It was as thought he thought that, somehow, magically, Obama could produce a higher salary for school teachers - or anyone else for that matter. (Well, he is the 'Messiah' after all!)

We want ice cream. We want someone else to provide it. We don't care what the result, just so we get our ice cream. WE WANT ICE CREAM!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Just a link

If you haven't read this from U. S. News and World Report, you should:

Barack Obama's Poor Understanding of the Constitution
The Founding Fathers were correct in the way they set up the Constitution
Posted November 3, 2008

Kent Comments:

When things go very wrong under a possible Obama presidency, you will know why. Small comfort that will be, but you will know.

No Representation Without Taxation

Here is it, the day before the big election of 2008, and one thing has become very clear to me: democracy is not a good idea. Not in its current incarnation, at least.

We forget that the United States was not founded as a democracy. It was, rather, a representative republic. The Founders mostly feared democracy, and for good reason. They knew that once people discovered that they could vote goodies for themselves, there would be no end of that until the nation was destroyed.

Bombarded as I was by campaign adds in the last week, I noticed something important. When candidates are not busy bashing one another in sometimes stupid, personal ways, they appeal to the “look what I got for you” approach. It is as the Founders predicted.

There are many people who should not be allowed to vote for anyone or anything. How can we detect who should and shouldn’t vote?

I propose a little twist on something from our history. Remember “No Taxation Without Representation!”? What we now need is “No Representation Without Taxation!”

If being elected depends upon promising to take from some to give to others, we are going to continue to get more and more of the mess in which we now find ourselves. So I propose that only those who pay significant taxes at the level of government in question should vote for candidates at that level. In fact, I might be good to give those who pay more a greater number of votes.

I know that leaves many details to work out, but you get the general idea. If you want to vote for President of the United States, then you must have receipts for taxes you paid to the national treasury. If you want to vote for the governor of your state, you will need to present receipts for taxes paid to your state.

The “one man, one vote” principle is completely unfair. It allows those who pay nothing to vote to take more from those who do. That is not right. It is a system designed to encourage legalized theft. And when legalized theft becomes the norm (we are there even now) then life becomes less good for everyone.

I propose this knowing that it would cut me out of some elections. I have no problem with that. Good is good, right is right, and fair is fair.

(On a related note, check out this article that questions the wisdom of getting as many people as possible to vote.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Is It Really ‘Christian’ and Should It Be Our ‘Standard’?

The October 22, 2008 ‘Christian Standard’ (and I now doubt that it is either of those) carried “Interview with Nikki Grimes.” Nikki writes children’s books and poetry. Sounds fairly innocent, doesn’t it?

I’m thinking “See Jane Run” or perhaps “One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish.” Nikki, we are told attends Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, California. She is just a nice lady helping kids read, right?

Perhaps not. She is the author of:

Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope
written by Nikki Grimes
illustrated by Bryan Collier
Simon & Schuster, 2008
ISBN 978-1416971443

From the Book:

One Sunday when Barack was sitting in church,
Barack heard God say, "Slow down,
Look around you.
Now look to me.
There is hope enough here
to last a lifetime."
Barack smiled,
tears rolling down his cheeks.
Suddenly he knew for certain
Hope would last long enough
for him to make a difference.

[found at:]

“One Fish, Two Fish” is much better than this garbage. I’ve heard some of what Barack heard down at his church, and it wasn’t about slowing down. (I think Nikki is confused with what they preach at the church on T.V.’s Mayberry.)

Among others, Patricia C. Hays of Columbus, Ohio (in her letter to the editor of October 28, 2008) wondered what something like this was doing in the ‘Christian Standard.’ Patricia visited Nikki’s website, and found this little gem:
I know one thing. Come November, Barack Obama has got my vote! And no matter what happens in the election, he is a man who has made history: the first man of color to win a major party nomination for President of the United States. That's why his story is an important one for young readers to know. That's why I wrote Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope.

I have no interest in Mr. Obama’s color. But it has become clear that Obama is an adherent of liberation theology - which has nothing to do with ‘liberation’ or ‘theology’ in any good sense, and much more to do with a Marx-inspired socialism.

With Patricia Hays, many of us are wondering what this is doing in the so-called Christian Standard. And if something Obama-endorsing like this is there, why is there nothing pointing to other candidates?

Let me offer some suggestions as to why it is there.

It appears that what used to be the Christian Standard has decided that hip and trendy trumps Christian. Obama and a poet who sings his praises are trendy. John McCain, Bob Barr, Ralph Nader, and all the other candidates for president this year are not hip or trendy. For one thing, they are not ‘of color.’ Well, of course they have a color of some kind, but it is not a hip or trendy color for presidential candidates.

Barack H. Obama is a good spokesman for his religion, liberation theology. He takes Christian terminology and invests it with new meaning, while not always making that meaning completely clear to some audiences. That allows him to sound ‘Christian’ when in fact he is something else.

Yet, down at the ‘Christian Standard’ they can’t seem to figure this out. I don’t know Patricia C. Hays of Columbus, Ohio, but I will assume she is an ordinary, nice Christian lady who reads the ‘Christian Standard.’ If she can figure this out, but the editors at the ‘Christian Standard’ cannot, then there is good chance that those editors didn’t try.

Or perhaps they just don’t care anymore about being a truly Christian Standard.

Pre-Election Reflection

The Warm-up

Before I get to the main point, it is necessary to explain something. Please trudge through this, because it helps make the next part clear.

Elections have become a time of sorrow recently for those who love liberty. The problem can be seen in the very word ‘liberty’ itself. At one time the word referred to the absence of government constraint on human actions.

The advocates of anti-liberty have been cleverly at work, and now ‘liberty’ has been infused with a new meaning: the ability to do things because government supplies resources.

So now we have liberty A and liberty B. Confusing, isn’t it? Liberty A is what government doesn’t do, while liberty B is what government does. Some like to call these ‘liberty from’ and ‘liberty to’ - but it is still confusing.

What is also confusing is the fact that, in order for government to increase ‘liberty to’ it must decrease ‘liberty from.’ Why? Because ‘liberty to’ requires that the government hand out checks, subsidies, and so forth. But to get the money to do this, governments take things from people, and that taking reduces ‘liberty from.’

When governments take things from people, their ‘liberty from’ government shrinks - there is simply no way around this.

This second version of liberty - liberty to - is really a bit of double-talk. It was invented to make the lack of liberty sound like more liberty. That, of course, is exactly what double-talk is meant to do.

‘Liberty to’ is really a reduction of liberty, a bit of propaganda from those who really don’t like the idea of liberty. But that’s another story.

A Small Interlude

This helps us understand something important. Everything governments do or don’t do fits into one of those two categories, with perhaps one small exception.

While some would disagree, I contend that when government punishes things like murder, theft, and fraud, it is doing something that helps make liberty possible. Some might ask, “Doesn’t interfering with theft limit liberty?” But trying to protect people from coercion from other people does not limit liberty - it helps make liberty possible.

Beyond this area, whenever government attempts to ‘do’ something for someone, it must reduce true liberty, that is, ‘liberty from.’

Some Payoff

Understanding all this makes elections of late a very sad time for those who love liberty (meaning, remember, ‘liberty from’). It is very difficult to find candidates from either major party who want to increase ‘liberty from.’

It is not just the fault of politicians. Many Americans want things from government. When government tries to give them these things, government must take things from people. Remember, governments produce nothing, so everything they ‘give’ must be taken from someone.

If you think about some of the candidates this election season, you can see all this at work. As is typical of late, the Democrats want government to take a lot from people so as to be able to give a lot to people. The Republicans want to do the same sort of thing, though sometimes on a smaller scale. So both parties are willing to squelch liberty - it is just a question of how much.

This means that those who love true liberty have no one for whom they can enthusiastically vote. We can choose the lesser of two evils, or we can vote for small parties that have little chance to win a national elections, even though some of them are much better supporters of true liberty than either of the major parties.

That means there is little chance to see real gains in true liberty anytime soon. Depressing, isn’t it?

Which Brings Us to . . .

Barry Goldwater apparently became a quirky, eccentric fellow in his old age. When he ran for president in the 1960's he was much-maligned and dismissed by many because of his overwhelming loss in his election bid against Lyndon Johnson.

But before he ran for president he wrote a book titled The Conscience of a Conservative. While I would question a few things in this book, there is a section (see pp. 15-23) which concludes with one of the most eloquent and insightful statements on liberty that has been made in recent history:

Who will proclaim in a campaign speech: “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.”

This election, I will vote for someone or other, but to little effect for the advancement of true liberty. But I will ask, “Who will proclaim?” and I will watch and wait. Liberty, like all valuable things, is rare.