Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Theft and the Anglican Rev

British Vicar Criticized for Advocating Stealing

ASSIST News Service reports that an Anglican priest in the United Kingdom has stirred up a firestorm over his comments that poor people who are desperate this Christmas should shoplift from major stores. The Rev. Tim Jones said in his sermon this week that stealing from shops was the "least worst option" -- better than burglary, robbery or prostitution. Premier Radio says he told stunned parishioners at St Lawrence's in York that it would not break the eighth commandment 'Thou shalt not steal.'

Kent comments:

And there you have it:  a collectivist ‘clergyman’ who is willing to admit openly what his kind have advocated covertly for a long time.  He thinks shoplifting would not break the eighth commandment.  I assume that shoplifting is a form of stealing, so it appears that the (somewhat) Rev. Tim Jones is willing to affirm that stealing would not violate the commandment ‘You shall not steal.’  There is a technical term for that, but “stupid” will do for now.

It is interesting the victims from which the (less than fully) Rev. Jones says poor people should steal - ‘major stores.’  Why not steal from small stores?  Why does the Rev so cavalierly exclude the tried-and-true technique of burglary?  Why not steal from the houses of well-to-do people who have gone to a Christmas party somewhere?  That way, the well-to-do could experience that famous statement of Jesus that “it is better to be robbed than to receive.”

OK, so Jesus didn’t exactly say that.  But with (the almost) Rev. Jones version of the Christian faith, why would that matter?

Never mind that those hurt by shoplifting a ‘major stores’ could easily include people of very modest means who have a financial stake in such stores:  workers, those who hold small amounts of stock in such stores, those who supply the stores, and others.

But beyond all that, we live in a world based on theft of the legal version.  Almost every piece of legislation that comes from our government and many others around the world is founded on the idea that it is perfectly acceptable to take from some and deliver the loot to others.  The pirates of Somalia are only practicing on a small level what most governments do on a massive scale.

People like the (morally not quite) Rev. Jones have advocated this kind of legalized theft for a long time.  Now they have simply become more consistent and dropped the pretense of legality.  You really have to admire their forthrightness.

One thing always puzzles me about people like the (perhaps not so) Rev. Jones.  They often base their advocacy of theft on the fact that there are needy people in the world.  But the (almost) Rev. Jones types of the world almost never take the first, obvious, and morally virtuous step in helping the needy:  giving away most of what they own.  My guess is that an Anglican Rev is far from impoverished.  He could certainly help a lot of needy people by giving what he owns to the needy, and continuing to do so.

But instead, he comes up with ‘shocking’ pronouncements that shoplifting isn’t stealing and the needy should do it.  This is where much of what calls itself “Christianity’ has come to lately.  But if that’s all the Anglican Revs have to offer these days, they might as well just die and decrease the surplus population!

And with that sad note I say, “Merry Christmas, God bless us every one.”  (Even the morally confused like the Rev. Tim Jones.  Perhaps God will give him some sense for Christmas.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Data

An interesting little tidbit from

It also turns out that Christmas in America is not all that commercialized compared to other nations. We are the 21st lowest in spending out of the 31 OECD countries; and we spend only $3 of every million dollars of GDP, ranking us the 6th most Scrooge-like country of the 26 major economies. Since 1935, Christmas-related spending has been reduced by 50 percent (when adjusted for inflation and GDP). We spend more, but Christmas spending is actually becoming less important in the bigger scheme of things.

Kent comments:

So why does Christmas seem so overly commercial?  Here are a few thoughts on that and some other matters.

First, even though we are 21st on the list, that is a ‘rich list’ so that’s still a lot of money devoted to Christmas stuff.  (By the way, this OEDC appears to be one of those innumerable international coagulations of people who milk governments for money to tell them how to try to implement command-and-control economies.)

Second, Christmas probably impresses us as more commercialized than it in fact is simply because of the extent of marketing devoted to it.  At least two full months of Christmas advertisement, plus ‘black’ shopping days and ‘gray’ shopping days and so on cannot help but start ideas about commercialism dancing in our heads like Christmas sugar plums.  (I find some Christmas TV ads very entertaining.  My favorite this year is the clinking glasses of beer that clink out a Christmas tune.  And I don’t even much enjoy beer!)

Third, the adjusted-for-inflation decrease since 1935 probably reflects a decrease of the influence of the Christian faith since then.  Christmas will probably tend to be a bigger deal when Christ is a bigger deal with more people – like it or not.

Fourth, I thank God that I live in a time and place where – for the time being at least – people are free to make money and ‘go nuts’ on black Friday and other maniacal shopping times if they wish.  That same freedom means that the rest of us can be self-restrained in these matters.  In my opinion, the second greatest freedom after freedom from the penalty and effects of sin is political-economic freedom.  You can’t wrap that one up and put it under a tree, but it’s the second greatest gift of all.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mix & Match Religion


Eastern, New Age Beliefs Widespread

Dec. 9, 2009

The religious beliefs and practices of Americans do not fit neatly into conventional categories. A new poll by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that large numbers of Americans engage in multiple religious practices, mixing elements of diverse traditions. Many say they attend worship services of more than one faith or denomination -- even when they are not traveling or going to special events like weddings and funerals. Many also blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs such as reincarnation, astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects. And sizeable minorities of all major U.S. religious groups say they have experienced supernatural phenomena, such as being in touch with the dead or with ghosts.

Kent comments:

As one commentator said, “"That kind of religious individualism is the American religion."  While having choices is good, that can never mean that all choices are equal.  Put another way, having choices does not mean that the alternatives from which we may choose are equal.

But beyond that, the situation here is that of people trying to produce new options by mixing the choices available to them.  In many areas, this is fine.  Mixing fashion styles, food styles, etc. is harmless and fun.  American culture is, almost by design, an amalgamation of sources.

But when we come to the matter of religion, a new dynamic comes into play.  This is because, by its very nature, Christianity is not “mixable.”  It is about “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”  It is about Jesus Christ Who is famous for His claim to be the Way, the only Way to the Father.  I could go on but you get the idea.  It is about there being no other name than Jesus given to us by which we must be saved.

When you attempt to “mix” Christianity, because of it’s very nature, you can expect only a spiritual mess.  It is rather like the color experiments that I remember trying when I was in grade school – something I think most people have tried.

It probably started with finger paints.  You mixed blue and yellow to get green.  Perhaps you tried stirring up some red with some yellow to get orange.  But at some point, you surely tried something I did:  mix all  the colors together.  What do you get?  I got a hideous pool that was grayish-purple.  It was horrid, simply horrid as far a colors go.

Something very similar happens when you attempt to ‘mix’ Christianity with other religions.  The ‘mixture’ will always be a horrible distortion of all the elements that are mixed, a frightful shade of grey spirituality that is both ugly and worthless.  Some things just don’t mix well.  The Christian faith is one of those.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Gospel In Parking Tickets?

Christian Group to Pay Off $10K in Strangers' Parking Tickets

The Associated Press reports that a Christian group in Boise, Idaho, will offer those guilty of traffic violations a special Christmas gift. Last year, the Grace Gift Parable giveaway paid off almost $7,500 in unpaid parking tickets for passerby at City Hall. This year, thanks to area businesses and various churches in Treasure Valley, the group hopes to give away up to $10,000. Organizers plan to gather on Dec. 12 in front of City Hall and see what happens.  Montie Ralstin, Jr., the pastor at Boise Valley Christian Communion, says the event is to help people understand that even though they've made mistakes, forgiveness is available.

Kent comments:

Try as I might, I can’t help seeing this sort of thing as lame.  It seems that some Christians must spend their time dreaming up these cutesy ideas to try to bribe people into thinking about their spiritual condition or the Christian faith.  But the more I think about such things, the more desperation-driven they appear.

What about the cross as a way to help people understand the forgiveness is available?  (Not trendy enough, I suppose.)

I suppose there is some remote gospel analogy in paying off parking tickets for people.  (Christ pays the penalty for our sin and so forth.)  But the analogy, even if it exists, breaks down at a key point.  We must come to God in faith and repentance in order to receive forgiveness of sins.  I’m not sure how you work that into the parking ticket scheme.

It’s as though many have decided that the gospel has lost enough of its “power of God to salvation” that it needs some help.  We supply that ‘help’ with a slick marketing scheme, we execute that scheme, and then we “gather in front of City Hall and see what happens.”

Well, I suppose it’s their money, and I hope it makes some parking ticket recipient think about God’s forgiveness.  But I’m sorry to say that, on further review, it still seems lame.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Eat That Pancake

An Arizona woman said she was given peace and comfort from an unlikely source -- a pancake bearing an image she said resembles the Virgin Mary.

Bianca Lopez said she was cooking Batter Blaster pancakes for her family a few days before Thanksgiving at their Glendale home and she noticed the image of Jesus' mother looking back at her from the final pancake of the batch, KNXV-TV, Phoenix, reported Thursday. "I think it's God's way of telling us that the holidays aren't just about presents. It's about... spending time with your family and friends and telling us to not forget about him, that he's always there watching over us and taking care of us,"

Lopez said. Lopez said she is keeping the pancake safe in her freezer until she can decide what to do with it.

Kent Comments:

I know it’s never safe to say “never” – but just this once, I will!

I always have to wonder in these cases.  How does this lady know that the image “looking back at her” from the pancake (I’m trying to contain myself here) is that of “Jesus’ mother”?  Has she ever seen Jesus’ mother?  Who on earth could have the slightest idea of her appearance?  Enough of that . . .

God has a way of telling us what we ought to be and do.  It, thankfully, does not depend upon trying to find images in pancakes.  When the Word became flesh that event was predicted, announced, and interpreted by the words of prophets and Apostles, the collection of which we call the Bible.

So my advice is this:  while you are eating the pancake, read your Bible.  I know that sounds far too simple for many, but what can I say?

Monday, November 30, 2009

To Video Clip, or Not to Video Clip

I was asked to comment on this:

I see preachers who believe deeply in preaching use visual images as one more resource for effective communication. When it is used well, it is simply another illustrative tool that helps engage young adults with truth in a visual language they understand. In that sense, it follows in the tradition of Jesus' own preaching and teaching, which was not only packed with word-crafted images, but filled with object lessons (coins, wheat fields, fig trees and so on) that would be quite comparable to the use of a brief video clip in our own age. . . let's not attack or belittle those faithful preachers in a new generation who find such tools helpful as they seek to proclaim the Word of God.

Kent comments:

I don’t think it is an attack on anyone to point out that reliance on multi-media presentations could threaten preaching.  Multi-media presentations are always designed at some level to be entertaining.  But that is not the heart of the problem.  As many have pointed out, when we watch video clips our minds become passive.  This is significantly and qualitatively different from the active engagement required when we listen to a live presentation by a human speaker or when we read.

While I would not claim that this distinction means preachers should never use video clips, for example, it does suggest that we must be very careful indeed with a medium that makes us passive, and that (especially in our culture) signals ‘entertainment’ to most people.

Your counter-claim is that this ‘follows in the tradition of Jesus’ own preaching and teaching’ because he used object lessons.  But object lessons are not in the same category as video clips.  Jesus’ object lessons did not place people in the passive mode that our video-TV-movie medium does – in fact, Jesus approach did just the opposite.

The mere fact that some people ‘seek to proclaim the Word of God’ does not by itself mean that any technique they might use is neutral.  The claim that ‘a new generation finds such tools helpful’ could just as well be explained by the observation that some in recent generations are addicted to entertainment and do not like to engage in the mental effort required to follow preaching.  How much to pander to that attitude when preaching is debatable, but the existence and dangers of that attitude cannot be denied.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Campus Contradictions

The Northerner > Viewpoints

Apology from the newsroom

By Tim Owens
Print Editor-in-Chief

Published: Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In the last two issues, The Northerner ran an ad for a business called Resistance Records. The ad was cut-and-dry. It listed all of the types of music it sells and listed its URL at the bottom. But after this past weekend, we found the intent behind the ad was not so cut-and-dry.

Via an inquiry from Channel 12 News, who got the tip from a concerned reader, we found that Resistance Records is a business that promotes white supremacy.

After investigating the validity of this right after I got the call, I made the decision to immediately halt all business with Resistance Records. While it is not illegal to run ads of this nature, we at The Northerner see it as an ethical issue.  We do not wish to be in business with groups or organizations that promote any form of racism, sexism, ageism, or any other form of discrimination. While issues of this nature are dependent on who runs The Northerner each semester, it was my decision that the paper, for this semester, will not advertise with this business or other businesses like it.

Kent comments:

The Northerner is a college newspaper.  They can run the ads they want, of course.  But on college campuses there has been and remains a glaring contradiction.  Universities often loudly proclaim that they are places where ideas, even unpopular ones, can be explored.

The problem is that only some unpopular ideas are allowed an airing on most campuses.  For example, a few years ago at the university referred to in this article Angela Davis was a speaker.  When leftist statists air their views on campus and any objection is made, the reply comes that, while we don’t necessarily endorse these views, the university is a place where any idea can be explored.

But if the idea in question approves of ‘racism, sexism, ageism, or any other form of discrimination’ it is instantly squelched when discovered.  While I do not approve of any of these views, universities cannot have it both ways.  Either we can explore all ideas on campus, or we cannot.  If we can, then even very distasteful, even ethically objectionable, ideas must be allowed on campus.  If we cannot explore all ideas on campus, then universities must be just as quick to squelch any idea that anyone finds objectionable for the sake of making campuses comfortable for everyone.

This continuing attempt by universities to proclaim free expression while at the same time prohibiting a certain category of ideas (bad as they may be) is a bit of hypocritical inconsistency that someone should have the courage to correct.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not Interested?

Yawning at the Word

It's really hard to listen to God when there are really interesting things to think about.

Mark Galli | posted 11/05/2009 10:33AM [Christianity Today]

When I preach, I often quote the Bible to drive home my point. I think it more persuasive to show that what I'm saying is not merely my opinion but a consistent theme of Scripture. And to avoid the impression that I'm proof-texting or lifting verses out of context, I quote longer passages—anywhere from 2 to 6 verses.

When I did this at one church, a staff member whom I'd asked for feedback between services told me to cut down on the Scripture quotations. "You'll lose people," he said.

I understood the reality he was addressing, and so I scratched out the biblical references for the next sermon. But lately I'm beginning to question that move, and wondering, Why have we become so impatient and bored with the Word of God?

Kent comments:

While the author of this article goes on to deplore this situation in his own way, I would like to offer a slightly different perspective.  Why do we assume that most people will be interested in hearing the word of God?

Of course, they should be but that is a very different matter from will be.

This is a theme that is found throughout the (and I hope no one will be bored when I say this) the Bible.  When Jesus sent out the disciples on their little ‘mission tour’ of Israel, He knew that some places would find few who were interested.  He told the disciples in those cases to move on to those who were interested.  Jesus one time told a story about seed falling on different kinds of ground.  On some kinds of ground – and the kinds of ground map to kinds of people – the word is not well-received.  Jesus made this very clear.

Of course, in the article from CT the author is talking about people at a church.  You might think people at a church would be intensely interested in the word of God.  Here is a little advice for people at a church who are put off by hearing ‘too much’ of the Bible:  go home.

Go home or to the ball game or to the restaurant, or wherever it is you would rather be.  You don’t belong at a gathering of the church.  Should you become intensely interested in the word of God, then come back to the assembly of the saints.

But if six verses of the Bible is too much at once for you at church, you have no business being there in the first place.  While you are waiting to meet the Author of that word, parked in front of the TV might be a better place for you.  At least you will be entertained while you are waiting.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sane Health Care Reform

Here are some excellent health care reform proposals from Rep. Ron Paul.  (Being an actual M.D., he might know more about it that Barack, Nancy, Harry, etc.)  It would be worth your time to let your congress members know about these:

H.R. 2629, the Coercion is Not Health Care Act, stops government from taking even more of our money and railroading us into its health care scheme by preventing any individual or agency in the federal government from requiring anyone to purchase health insurance.  H.R. 2629 also prohibits conditioning the receipt of any government benefit or participation in any government program on the purchase or maintenance of health insurance.

H.R. 1495, the Comprehensive Health Care Reform Act of 2009, allows all Americans to pay their health care bills through the method that suits them best by providing all Americans with a tax credit for 100% of health care expenses (fully refundable against both income and payroll taxes), allowing individuals to roll over unused amounts in cafeteria plans and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA), providing a tax credit for premiums for a high-deductible insurance policy connected with a Health Savings Account (HSA) and allowing seniors to use funds in an HSA to pay for a medigap policy, as well as making all medical expenses tax deductible by repealing the 7.5% threshold for the deduction of medical expenses.

H.R. 1498, the Freedom from Unnecessary Litigation Act of 2009, addresses rising medical malpractice costs by providing a tax credit for negative outcomes insurance purchased prior to medical treatment and by preventing medical malpractice awards obtained through binding arbitration from being taxed.

As Dr. Paul said in his speech introducing H.R. 1498, “Relying on negative outcomes insurance instead of litigation will also reduce the costs imposed on physicians, other health care providers, and hospitals by malpractice litigation.”

H.R. 2630, the Protect Patients and Physicians Privacy Act, allows patients and physicians to opt-out of any government-mandated or -funded system of electronic health care records and repeals the federal law creating an “unique patient identifier.”  It also denies the use of federal funds to advance the use of standard unique health identifiers in any federal, state, or private health care plan.

H.R. 3394, the Freedom of Health Speech Act, requires the FTC to actually prove health care claims are false before preventing those claims from being made, and H.R. 3395, the Health Freedom Act, ends the FDA’s attempts to censure truthful health claims.

These are just a few of steps Congressman Paul has taken in Congress to address the health care crisis.
Click here to get contact information for your representatives and urge them to support Dr. Paul’s health care reform legislation.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Cult of ‘Volunteerism’

Agnes - October 23, 2009

Kent Comments:

Don’t get me wrong – helping others just for the sake of helping others can be a very good thing.  BUT (and isn’t there always one of those around somewhere?) the obsession – yes, obsession – with ‘volunteerism’ is really a different matter entirely.

Helping others doesn’t need to have ‘ism’ attached to it unless it has become politicized, as it very clearly now has.  Notice what Trout says about the reason for ‘doing’ volunteerism:  you do it for a sense of well-being.  So in the worldview of ‘volunteerism’ you help people so you can get something, it’s just that the something is not money.

It would be horrible to get money for something, wouldn’t it?  As the Bible clearly says, money is the root of all evil – no, wait, it doesn’t say that.

Many of those who promote the cult of ‘volunteerism’ today are politicians and media personalities (and keep in mind how those two categories often overlap).  How many politicians serve in office for no pay, but only for ‘a sense of well-being’?  How many movie stars and TV talking heads do what they do simply ‘for a sense of well-being’?

Helping people who truly need help just because they need help:  good.

Volunteerism’: stupid, politically-correct idiocy often promoted by self-serving hypocrites.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Of Politicians and CEOs

Todays Comic

Kent comments:

Reminds you a bit of someone who wins a Noble Peace Prize having done, well, nothing to deserve it.  But I don’t want to pick on just old B.H.O. today.

I would like to pick on government officials in general.  I’m sure this sort of thing goes on in the corporate world.  But those stockholders Dogbert is talking about – they can be non-stockholders within about ten seconds any day the market is open.  In other words, you can fire ‘your’ CEO at the drop of a hat.

Unfortunately, government officials are not so easy to be rid of, and we have to convince a majority of that group containing many idiots (the voters) to help us fire unwanted government officials.

Those officials often sound just like Dogbert.  Some leach is elected governor of a state, and right away he wastes taxpayers’ money posting his name on signs at the state border and his picture in every government building.  It’s as though he thinks he now owns the entire state!

Some natural disaster happens.  While there is still plenty of photographable devastation present, governors and presidents fly over the area and then proclaim that they are going to help all those poor victims they just flew over.  As far as I know, what they really do is sign some order giving some of my money to those victims.  But they saved the day, of course.

In the halls of legislatures and Congress you hear elected officials talking as though everything that happens is the result of their law-making.  The fact is that most laws made today are designed to prevent people from making things, selling things, and doing things.  Most of the good that happens does so in spite of what lawmakers do.

There should be some dignity and honor in the halls of law-making.  (There is very little of it, but there should be some.)  But perhaps we focus too much attention on the people in government.  If their power were what it should be and no more, they would not matter all that much.  If they managed to figure out what real evil is and restrain it just a bit, we could congratulate them in a very subdued manner and get on with life.

Out there in life and society are the truly important people.  They are the ones who make things, maintain things, keep order, raise families, care for the sick, proclaim the word of God, expand human knowledge, play games, laugh, cry and live.  In these and many related activities you will find the important people.  If we could force the politicians to stay in their place and leave these people alone, what a wonderful world it might be.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Good, Brief Article on Healthcare


If all the talk about Obamanation and ‘health care’ seems complicated, I offer this link

with no additional comment.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

At the End of the Road to Serfdom

[from This Is True]

The first Sally Harpold knew there was a problem was when sheriff's deputies showed up at her home in Clinton, Ind., with a warrant for her arrest. But the evidence was clear: four months before, her husband had gotten a cold, and she went to the drugstore and got him some over-the-counter cold medicine. A few days later her daughter caught the cold, so Harpold stopped at another drugstore and got her some medicine too. Once the purchase paperwork was matched up, authorities realized she had committed the crime of buying 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine, an ingredient of crystal meth, but also a common decongestant for runny noses. "The law does not make this distinction," says Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina Alexander. "I'm simply enforcing the law as it was written." State law limits purchases to 3.0 grams in any 7-day period. Harpold was taken away in handcuffs, and her local newspaper ran her mug shot on the front page with the headline, "17 Arrested in Drug Sweep". She faces up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. "It's unfortunate," said Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel, whose deputies made the arrest. "But for the good of everyone, the law was put into effect."

Kent comments:

I am not a ‘drug warrior’ and I doubt I every will be.  This is a good example of why.

In order to make sure no one ever plays with dangerous drugs, the government must become intrusive, and eventually totalitarian.  If you make every chemical component of every dangerous drug illegal, you eventually make almost every substance imaginable illegal.

Having done that, you start arresting innocent mothers of ill family members.  Such laws are not, contrary to this idiot sheriff, ‘for the good of everyone.’  They are wasteful.  Why should taxpayers spend the untold thousands of dollars that will be required to process and perhaps incarcerate this ministering mother?  Idiotic is perhaps too tame a term for this madness.

Who could possibly keep track of, or remember, how much decongestant he has purchased in a given time period?  Not only is the sheriff of Vigo County an idiot, the legislators who passed this law are nitwits – and I am trying to restrain myself here.

Hemp used to be used for rope-making.  I hear it is very good for that.  But, of course, it is almost impossible to grow it because it is the same plant that produces marijuana.

Intoxicating oneself is wrong, and it can be destructive of the social order.  But it is just as wrong to try to handle this problem in the counterproductive, pre-emptive, and thus weenified way that we do.

I my judgment, it would be better to shoot intoxicated people on sight than to arrest mothers who are trying to decongest their sick children.  Yes, I am being hyperbolic.  But why not just punish intoxicated people who actually harm someone else?  That is the way one deals with free people.  When you think you are dealing with serfs, slaves, and ‘the masses’ you do what they now do in Indiana.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Showdown Part 2


In the last post I talked about liberty, especially economic liberty, versus some of its rivals.  What follows goes well beyond the original question, but I thought it worth mentioning.

There is a widely held belief that individual liberty is somehow at odds with the Christian faith, especially ‘Sermon On the Mount’-ish teachings such as ‘do to others as you would have them do to you’ and the dictum from the Old Testament and often repeated in the New Testament,  ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is a constant undercurrent of this alleged incompatibility from sources like Jim Wallis and Sojourners, just to name one group.  This assumed incompatibility is so pervasive that many Christian defenders of liberty feel compelled to apologize for liberty in some way.

But it is the ‘Christian’ collectivists who in fact have all the explaining to do.  Not only is Christian ethical teaching compatible with liberty, it demands it.

We must constantly remind ourselves just what it is that collectivists want to do.  They want to impose an economic agenda on others by force.  Just how loving can it be to impose an economic agenda on your neighbors by force?  Those who despise liberty often also claim to hate violence.  How can those who claim to hate violence want to use the force of the state to force their neighbors to follow their economic schemes?  Christians who attempt to advocate state-imposed collectivism have made a deal with the Devil.

Some Christians not particularly friendly with state-enforce collectivism will still rather cavalierly claim that matters like politics and economics are simply not all that important to ‘spiritual’ Christians.  Christianity, they say, is about doing good to others, not worrying about economic systems.

Do tell.

How can Christians, who claim to love their neighbors as themselves, be unconcerned about the use of force on innocent people?  Just how ‘spiritual’ can you be if you are willing to stand silently by as your neighbors are made cannon fodder for some collectivist ideology?  In what sense is this ‘doing good’ to anyone?

Christians who advocate political liberty should never allow themselves to be put on the defensive.  It is those who want to impose their schemes on others by the force of the state that should be called to account on the basis of the Christian faith.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Showdown Is Here and Always Will Be

Today a friend asked this question:

Do you believe that there is a "showdown" coming between Capitalism and Communism? If so, who is winning at this time ? Will these two economic systems meld together at some future time?

Here is my long-winded answer, should you care to suffer through it:

I see ‘capitalism’ – a somewhat loaded term that I really prefer to avoid – as one outcome of human political liberty. The reason I don’t really like the term is that it is a derisive term from Karl Marx, and it distorts the picture of political liberty to some extent.

If people enjoy political liberty in general, then they will necessarily also enjoy economic liberty. This means that it is impossible to ‘meld’ these two systems. Any form of economic tyranny necessarily requires some degree of destruction of economic liberty.

But there is nothing about economic liberty that necessarily leads to capital (resources directed at production) rather than say, consumption. Economic liberty does not even necessarily lead to ‘big business’ – although I have no problem with companies growing large.

Since we enjoy only a limited amount of economic freedom, it is very difficult to predict how ‘the economy’ might look apart from all governmental, manipulative intervention. Would companies remain large? Would more small business flourish? Would people generally consume more? Or would people tend to save more than they do now and own more capital goods? While some economists try to predict such matters (and I find that kind of prediction interesting and useful to some extent) I must conclude that we really don’t know, nor is it likely that we can know.

But here is something I DO know. Sin has infected human society. Human political liberty requires a large degree of restraint on some human sinful activities. This is very difficult to achieve (and it sounds funny to say it) in a world of sinful human beings. This is not to say that this restraint cannot happen to a degree great enough to increase political liberty. But it will always be an uphill struggle because there will always be those who give themselves over to sin and as one result will attempt to misuse the power of government to impose their will upon others. They will conspire, connive, and plot to do this.

Sometimes this will happen because the power-mongers are misguided ideologues who stupidly believe that their ‘system’ will make the world a wonderful place. But more often they will be those who simply love power and all that comes with it. In the face of all this it requires wisdom, courage, personal strength and a degree of relative moral goodness to implement or preserve political liberty. As you can see, this is just some of the details of ‘the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.’

So I must conclude that we are locked in a continuing showdown between political liberty (delicate and difficult to maintain) and all its enemies (state communism is just one), for whom political liberty is just something to kick out of their way as they reach for more and more power. The problem is that when we begin to enjoy a degree of political liberty, we tend to think we can coast. We cannot. The equation is one of an equilibrium which favors the decrease of political liberty. So it requires constant attention and effort to shift that equilibrium toward liberty.

In my lifetime I can now see what happens when those who have some degree of love for liberty become complacent. We can trust no one with liberty. It must be actively guarded at all times, even from ourselves. It is far too easy to lobby for and vote for things that are anti-liberty just because I think they will make my life more immediately comfortable. Just now it appears to me that, due to a recent lack of attention, the anti-liberty forces are predominant: very predominant in the world, and somewhat predominant in our country.

The showdown, the battle for liberty, never ends. That is part of the nature of the current human condition. Our attempts to restrain power (which I distinguish from authority) can never slacken or power will quickly overwhelm us. In the end, God will win – of course. But before that end the struggle for political liberty will not end.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Artificial Standards of ‘Civility’


Restoring Civility: Will You Take the Pledge?

Chuck Colson


September 16, 2009

It will probably go down in history as the first presidential speech remembered not for what the President said, but for how a member of his audience responded.

Even if you didn't watch Barack Obama's health care address last week, I'm sure you've heard what happened. Obama had just finished saying that his health care plan would not cover illegal aliens. In response, Rep. Joe Wilson shouted out, "You lie!" shocking television audiences from coast to coast, not to mention the President.

Talking heads have spent the rest of the week talking about the need for civility in public discourse—and that's a good thing. Two people who are likely paying close attention to this debate are men who are about as far apart politically as it's possible to get. Mark DeMoss is the conservative president of the DeMoss Group. Lanny Davis is a former advisor to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

DeMoss and Davis—both concerned about the sharp decline in civility—have created an online forum called The Civility Project. Its goal: getting Americans to re-learn how to disagree without being so nasty to one another. They are inviting Americans of every political stripe to take a civility pledge, in which they commit to three things: "I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior. I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them. I will stand against incivility when I see it." . . .

I can't excuse Rep. Wilson's outburst. But I do understand his frustration. For months, President Obama himself has been repeatedly accusing his opponents of lying about his health care plan—just as he did in his speech before Congress. Even liberal CNN says Obama's regular use of the word "lie" is "unstatesmanlike." . . .

It's a positive step—albeit a small one—to restore civility to our national discourse.

Kent Comments:

I often agree with Chuck Colson, but this time I cannot.

I, too, believe that honest, polite debate is desirable in many cases.  If we were debating a speed limit, a foreign policy, and many other niceties of political interaction, I would be completely on board with Chuck.

But when we face a demagogue who is clearly bent on the destruction of liberty, civility might be a luxury we cannot afford.  (As an aside, it is difficult to see why the statement ‘you lie’ when addressed to someone who is lying is ‘uncivil.’  That is not name-calling; it is not any kind of personal attack.)

Those who would destroy liberty will hide behind civility when it suits their immediate purpose.  When personal attacks suit their purposes, they will (and they do) gladly employ those.

Thus, it becomes very easy for defenders of liberty to paint themselves into a corner if they define any strong, direct confrontation as ‘uncivil.’  The enemies of liberty do not so restrict themselves.  They never have, and they never will.

If talk about ‘civility’ in public discourse overshadows truth in public discourse, then, contrary to Chuck, it is NOT a good thing.  Barack Obama and his allies are not some kind of misguided seekers after truth who have simply made an honest mistake.  They are clearly working systematically to destroy our liberty.  They are not debating things here like the tariff rate on tires from Asia.  They have made it very clear that they have no regard for your traditional rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

When our bodies are attacked by cancer, we do not respond with medicinal ‘civility.’  We do what must be done in order to rid ourselves of the cancer and survive.  There is a way in which that must also be true in the body politic.

If we who would defend liberty decide to impose upon ourselves an artificial and arbitrary standard of ‘civility’ which excludes pointing out in public that an official is using lies in an effort to destroy basic liberty, then you can kiss liberty goodbye.

If the emperor really has no clothes, it is truly ‘uncivil’ to state that fact?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Obama: He’s No Adolf Hitler

[this is a repost – the original was not correctly formatted, sorry]

(regarding coverage of the 9-12 rally in D.C.)

On CNN, most of the daytime coverage was respectful, if not as intensive as on FNC. During the 5pm ET hour, the tone began to sour, as correspondent Jim Spellman argued that participants with "outlandish conspiracy theories" and who were "comparing President Obama to Hitler" were "a sizable thread. It's not just a couple of people on the edges."

Kent Comments:

Many comparisons of Obama and Hitler have been made lately.  (I will proudly plead ‘guilty’ to making some of those.)  In the ‘official’ news coverage of such comparisons, they are often described as ‘outlandish’ (as above), outrageous, and other such adjectives.

What is ‘outlandish’ about such a comparison?  I will be the first to admit that such comparisons are not exact, that is, there are plenty of ways in which Hitler and Obama are different.

For example, I see no indication whatever that Obama has any thought of exterminating a particular ethnic group, as did Hitler.  But Obama is very willing to allow legally, and fund from the national treasury, the killing of the unborn.  While he says he would prefer that abortion be ‘rare’ he nevertheless is willing to support and be supported by many groups who would like abortion to be ‘readily available.’  While that does not make Obama equal to Hitler, it does invite the comparison.  Clearly, Obama is much closer to Hitler on this point than someone who is consistently pro-life.

In the fiscal realm, there are also significant Hitler-Obama comparisons to be made.  The difficulty here is in deciding whether Obama is more an international socialist or a national socialist.  While he has shown both tendencies, significant parts of his approach fit the national socialist approach very closely.  He supports government control of many businesses and various aspects of financial matters.  In this he is like the national socialists.

On the other hand, he has also been deeply involved in advocating and implementing government ownership of various businesses, like automobile production and health care.  In this he is more like an international socialist.

So I, for one, would like to be clear that I do not nor have I ever thought that Obama is exactly like Hitler.  He does share some significant policy points in common with Hitler’s national socialism.

But in other ways he is more like the international socialists.  He’s not simply like Hitler.  He is also like Lenin or Stalin.  Good for him.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Next Time, Don’t Apologize


This morning I have tried several times to contact Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina.  It is currently impossible to access his website at the House of Representatives or get anything but a busy signal at his House phone.  From what I can read, he is being roundly condemned for calling out ‘you lie’ during Obama’s speech last night.  It is reported that he has apologized.

Mr. Wilson, you did not need to apologize.  Obama does nothing but lie, and at some point that is bound to provoke a righteous outburst from any decent man.  You did not need to apologize for speaking the truth – even to the President in a joint session of Congress, a location where truth is often in short supply.

If you were from Kentucky, I would gladly vote for you, for last night’s remark alone if for nothing else.  The Liar-in-Chief needed to be called out in public.  You did it.  I thank God that you did it.  You should be proud of it.

Your only mistake was the apology.  Do it again, and soon.  Next time, don’t apologize.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rise Up and Oppose

I am listening this evening to the lies of der Fuhrer in his speech about ‘health care.’  He thinks he is reassuring us.  But if you are paying attention, you should be frightened, and angered.

Under his dictatorial policy proposal, Americans would be forced to buy health insurance.  Practical considerations, so called, are not important here.  What IS important is the fact that this is tyranny.  Free people are not forced by the government to buy insurance they do not want.

The argument of der Fuhrer that this is akin to states requiring automobile insurance is just an attempt to distract us from the tyranny of this idea.  No state requires citizens to own and operate an automobile.  So the cases are not parallel.

Obama is a demagogue.  He is a dangerous demagogue.  Everything he has implemented, or even proposed (this health care business being just one example) is an attack on liberty.  In fact, for Obama, ‘liberty’ seems to mean the ‘privilege’ he grants you to do whatever HE wants you to do.

The Apostle Paul exhorts us “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Rom 12:18)  Applied to social policy, it becomes clear that if we lend ourselves to measures (Obama style) to coerce others into working, spending, saving, insuring, buying, selling the way we want then we will necessarily violate this principle.  We are not even attempting to live peaceably with others if, for just one example, we attempt to force them to buy health insurance they do not want.  When we do that, we violate the peace; we start a war.

No list of reasons why we think they really should own insurance can justify this attempt – not, that is, if we want to follow the exhortation of the Apostle.  The Obama style of ‘gangster governance’ is completely incompatible with the Christian faith.  It is time for all men of God to rise up and oppose it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Van Jones & the watermelon


Van Jones's Resignation Reveals Vetting Lapse

By Scott Wilson and Garance Franke-Ruta

Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, September 6, 2009; 3:38 PM

The resignation of White House environmental adviser Van Jones has revealed a lapse in the administration's vetting procedures . . .

Jones, a towering figure in the environmental movement, had issued two public apologies in recent days. One was for signing a petition in 2004 from the group that questioned whether Bush administration officials "may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war," and the other for using a crude term to describe Republicans in a speech he gave before joining the administration.

His previous involvement with the now-defunct Bay Area radical group Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), which had Marxist roots, also emerged as an issue. And on Saturday his advocacy on behalf of death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of shooting a Philadelphia police officer in 1981, threatened to further widen the controversy.

Kent comments:

If you have followed the Van Jones story, several things become clear from it.

First, this guy was much more than just ‘involved’ with a group that had Marxist roots.  He was a self-proclaimed Marxist communist.

Second, the attempt to portray this as a ‘lapse in vetting procedures’ requires a lapse in sanity. The views of Obama and Van Jones are almost interchangeable except that Van Jones was more dedicated to his cause that I think Obama would have been in that position.  Obama thinks very highly of himself and would not be so quick to sacrifice himself for any cause,  because Obama’s main cause is himself.

Third, as you listen to Van Jones you see the perfect illustration of the intersection of green environmentalism with red communism.  Over-blown, uncritical environmentalism is the perfect way to convince semi-informed modern Americans to sacrifice their liberty on the alter of socialism.  This approach, like a watermelon, is green on the outside, but red on the inside.

The green and the red have begun to come together in a blur.  The image that finally appears from this is perfectly exemplified in Van Jones.  He is clearly devoted to using the image of environmentalism to subvert liberty.

While it is good that he is now absent from this administration, he will unfortunately now be somewhere at large, hard at work making the world red under the pretense that it should be green.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Madam ‘Bishop’

Episcopal Head Tries to Clarify 'Salvation' Speech

Episcopal Head Tries to Clarify 'Salvation' Speech

Daniel Burke

Religion News Service
September 1, 2009

(RNS) -- Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on Thursday (Aug. 27) tried to tamp criticism she received last month after she denounced the "heresy" of individual salvation.

In a statement issued by church headquarters in New York, Jefferts Schori tried to clarify her remarks at the church's General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., saying that individualism is "basically unbiblical and un-Christian."

Kent comments:

There has been a great debate in Christendom about the proper role of women in the church. Apart from the theological side of the debate, this story gives us yet another reason why, for example, women should not be ‘bishops.’

It is because, for some unknown reason, when they are they start to look like “Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori.” She’s just a little bit, well, scary! (Who, do you think, does that to her hair?)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

All His Children

from the Washington Post

September 3, 2009

WH withdraws call for students to 'help' Obama

President Obama's plan to inspire the nation's schoolchildren with a video address next week erupted into controversy Wednesday, forcing the White House to pull out its eraser and rewrite a government recommendation that teachers nationwide assign students a paper on how to "help the president." . . .

Among the activities the government initially suggested for prekindergarten to sixth-grade students: that they " write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."

Another task recommended for students immediately after listening to the speech: to engage in a discussion about what "the president wants us to do."

The novel curriculum plan brought sharp criticism from conservatives, including some who complained that classrooms were being used to spread political propaganda.

In response, the White House last night confirmed they were revising the lesson plan that was distributed last week by the U.S. Department of Education.

Kent comments:

Please take your seats. Pay attention now children.  We are going to learn a new phrase today.  The new phrase is, let’s spell it here - “H-i-t-l-e-r Y-o-u-t-h.”  Mr. Hilter died many years ago, so you can’t be in his youth group.  But here at the U.S. Dept. of Education we have something even better for you.  All of you can now be helpers of the President.

We should all want to help the President, shouldn’t we, children?  And when all of you agree that you should help the President (and we will help you agree with that) you will have the great privilege of being part of:

Obama Youth

Young people ‘helping the President’

Don’t Back Off Now, Mac!

'89 Thesis A Different Side of McDonnell

Va. GOP Candidate Wrote on Women, Marriage and Gays

By Amy Gardner

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 30, 2009

At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master's thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." He described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples. . .

During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.

Kent comments:

Once several years ago near election day, a group sent me a mailer attacking a candidate for the U.S. Senate.  It listed all the ‘horrible’ things this candidate had done.  I thought to myself, “If he has only done half these things, I will make a point to vote for this guy!”  And I did just that.

I was about to make plans to slip across the border into Virginia to vote for old “Mac” (such things seem to be easy to do these days) until I noticed that the story went on to quote him as saying:

"Virginians will judge me on my 18-year record as a legislator and Attorney General and the specific plans I have laid out for our future -- not on a decades-old academic paper I wrote as a student during the Reagan era and haven't thought about in years."

Hey, Mac – what was wrong with what you said in your master’s thesis?  While I would prefer that ‘governmental policy’ be so minimal that it barely matters in everyday life, IF we are going to have such things, what was so wrong with your original ideas?

Feminists are definitely detrimental (I don’t need any quotes around that word) to the family.  Sometimes both parents working can be detrimental to the well-being of children.  (One of the reasons both parents sometimes feel the need to work outside the home is the high cost of intrusive government!)

If government policy is going to ‘favor’ someone, why not married couples?  Married couples are good – definitely better than homosexuals and fornicators.

And that Supreme Court decision from ‘72 about abortion – a reading of the key parts makes ‘illogical’ sound like a very mild way to describe it.

Someday, somewhere, a candidate will say these kinds of things and not back down when the leftist press attacks.  Instead, that candidate will say, “Oh yeah?  You haven’t heard the half of it yet.”  Perhaps (ha!) that candidate will not be elected.  But such a candidate will give voters a very clear choice.  And for the very little it is worth, that candidate will receive my undying admiration.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Remembering Ted Kennedy


Now that the funeral is over and the leftist media will (perhaps) begin to wind down their completely uncritical praise of the last of the Kennedy brother plague, here is one more reflection on Ted Kennedy and other rich leftists.

Teddy has been touted for the last many days as someone who wanted to help ‘the little guy’ and ‘the working man.’  (Isn’t is rather amusing that, if you work well enough to make a significant amount of money, you are no longer a ‘working man’?)  He is being praised as a leader who dedicated his political life to ‘helping the poor.’

But if Teddy was truly a champion of the poor, how is it that he died a super-wealthy man?

Ted didn’t work for most of his wealth.  He inherited it from his father, who got it from all sorts of activities, some of which were illegal, such as bootleg liquor.  Teddy sat on this great wealth his whole life, never giving significant amounts of it to poor people.

Don’t you find that odd for a champion of the poor?

Teddy could have given millions upon millions of dollars to the poor and still led a relatively comfortable life.  He didn’t do that.  Instead, he maintained a massive ‘compound’ for his family.  He lived in utter luxury.  And yet he is supposed to be someone concerned with the poor.

While Teddy was not overly generous with his great inherited fortune, he was very glad to give away other people’s money in a way guaranteed to help his own political fortunes.  This was the perverted ‘generosity’ of the Kennedy’s and their ilk.

There is nobility in sacrificing your own goods to help others.  There is nothing noble about using the power of the state to steal from some and pretending to ‘give’ that to others.

And thus, there was nothing noble in this regard about Ted Kennedy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thou Art Wrong, Art

Here is a recent letter-to-the-editor in Christianity Today:

I read charles colson's June Back Page column, "Protecting Our Little Platoons," with a bit of chagrin. I have no argument with services delivered by "little platoons" closest to their recipients, but Colson ends it there. If the family, church, or volunteer agencies cannot solve the problem, then that's it—you are on your own.

President Obama, citing Abraham Lincoln's sacrifice to keep our union intact, stated in February that there are services only a union can provide. I agree that the federal faith-based office would be wrong to force ministries to hold nondiscriminatory hiring policies, yet the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and other volunteer groups are not going to fix the health care system, provide military defense, or anything else that only a union can do.

For Colson to end his column intimating that the government's attempts to improve the lives and dignity of its citizens will likely lead to totalitarianism is silly.

Art DePalma
Mill Creek, Washington

Kent comments:

Thou art wrong, Art – and dangerously so, in many ways.

What is really ‘silly’ is to lump health care with national defense.  Those who do not recognize a categorical difference here need to have their eyes examined – and not by some government-controlled ‘health care’ bureaucracy.  (No, Art, you really should be ‘on your own’ for that one.)

The mere fact that government is an appropriate way to handle national defense does not prove that any other thing you can dream up should be handled by government.

The mere fact that some problem is not yet solved by civil society (voluntary associations, businesses, or individuals) does not mean that government should or even could solve that problem.

The mere fact that someone, somewhere does not have something they want is not necessarily a ‘problem’ that anyone other than the one with the want needs to ‘solve.’

Even though Art seems to be too challenged to have realized this, when governments try to employ positive measures to ‘solve’ problems, liberty is necessarily decreased.  (And keep in mind that liberty and totalitarianism are inversely proportional.)

Governments do their work by force.  When government is set to solving all of Art’s ‘problems’ it can only do so by forcing people to live in ways they do not wish to live, or taking things from them that they do not wish to give.  What better term for that situation that totalitarianism?

When ‘little platoons’ attempt to solve problems, they must work with free gifts, willing exchanges, and willing participants.  That is the culture of liberty, and that is the only culture that truly respects ‘the dignity of citizens’ that Art and his kin seem to be so worried about.

Worst of all, I presume that Art, as a reader of Christianity Today is some kind of Christian.  How very odd (and I’m trying to be kind here) that a Christian would be advocating less ‘free and willing’ activity in our world, and more governmental force.

Art might want to check his Bible on this one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who’s Lying Here?

So Ted Kennedy is dead.  I am going to try my best to refrain from singing the song of the Munchkins in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’  (If you think that insensitive, I must say that I don’t care.  One less enemy of liberty on earth can only be good for liberty.)

Now the memory of Teddy is being appealed to as a reason to make our nation even more socialist by socializing medicine.  Teddy did make it very clear that this was something he desired. 

As anyone who is awake knows, the debate about this has been rancorous.  Many people are rightly concerned about key issues that seem to hover about the various proposals for how to ‘reform’ (that is, make socialist) health care.  People have worried about things like their ability to buy private insurance, the government funding of abortion, governmental encouragement of assisted suicide instead of treatment for older and other people.  (The list could go on.)

On the other hand, der Fuhrer, B. Hussein Obama, has waged a media battle recently to expose the ‘lies’ about ‘his’ health care proposals.

Now, if der Fuhrer were an honest man who really wanted to make sure none of these things were part of his proposal, it would be very easy to do.  He would not need to keep calling his critics liars.

Instead, he could very simply insert into any bill regarding ‘health care reform’ he might support some very simple statements in the introduction.  For example, “No provision of this bill shall be construed to authorize or encourage the spending of government funds to provide, assist, or encourage abortion.”  Likewise, “No provision of this bill shall be construed to authorize or allow the rationing of health care.”

I’m sure these could be worded much better, but you get the idea.  Any of the ‘lies’ about der Fuhrer’s health care proposals could easily be pre-empted in this way.

It could be unless all those ‘lies’ about der Fuhrer’s proposals are not lies at all.  Rule out these objections by clear language in your proposal, Mr. Obama.  Unless, that is, the lies are coming, not from the critics, but from you.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Real ‘Public Option’

The news of late has been filled with great debate about health care reform and ‘the public option.’  The would-be health care reformers have also talked about health care co-ops as an alternative.  In both of these, the government is a key player, and it plays by dictating what people can do about their health care.

This is amusingly ironic, especially since most of those pushing for one of these arrangements call themselves Democrats.  That would lead us to believe that they are advocates of democracy.  They also fancy themselves advocates of ‘the public’ in the sense of ordinary people – whatever those are.

So I have a proposal for the Democrats, if they are anything that their name and their claims imply.  Why not simply allow the public to use the most democratic option available for health care (or anything else)?  This option is the market where voluntary buyers and sellers meet for mutual benefit.

Suppose your approach to health care is health insurance.  (That might not be the best approach, but let’s grant the assumption for now.)  If there really are forty-six million un- (health) insured persons in the U. S. of A. then all those who want insurance can form a mutual insurance company – that is, one owned by the policy-holders.  That allows them to by-pass those evil insurance company executives and profits.  All the government needs to do to help this happen is to, legislatively speaking, get out of the way.  This is just one suggestion.  Maybe some people, for very good reasons, do not want health insurance.  Free people should be able to make that decision.  (If we are slaves of the state, that would be another matter.)

There simply is no need for Congress to legislate on the matter of health insurance if they believe in democracy.  People can vote with their dollars, and they always do, for what they want.  All the government needs to do is let them keep their dollars with which they vote.  Think of it this way:  when the government collects our money from us by taxes or other means, it disenfranchises us in the market place, so to speak.

And when voting on health care takes place in the market, rather than in Congress, the rights of minorities are duly respected.  If one hundred millions Americans want to form one or more co-ops, let them at it.  If another hundred million want to start mutual health insurance companies, then they can go for it.  And if a relatively small minority, say ten million, want to be customers of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, they should have the minority right to do so.  I thought Congressional Democrats believed in minority rights.  They like to tell us they do, at least.

Does the government have a role in all this?  Yes, and it involves getting itself out of the way.  Removing obstacles like ridiculously high liability on doctors might help.  Getting the FDA out of the way might help.  Getting the government out of the way in general could do nothing but help.

Let people vote with their dollars for the health care they want.  It’s democracy.  The only real alternative is government dictating what health insurance or health care we must have.  That’s dictatorship.

P.S. – If you insist on some version of the dictatorship approach, don’t be surprised or complain when people compare you to other dictators, e.g., Adolph Hitler.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Now You Can Keep Some


This just in from Americans for Tax Reform:

Happy Cost of Government Day!  Today, August 12, is Cost of Government Day (COGD), the day of the calendar year when the average American worker has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government on the federal, state, and local levels.

COGD falls 26 days later than last year's date, and it's 23 days later than the previous all-time high of July 20, in 1982.

As your Congressman and Senators hold their town hall meetings this recess, you should ask them why you needed to spend 224 days working to pay off your share of government. You should also ask them if you've already spent this much time working to pay off government, why would you possibly want to spend additional days working for a government takeover of healthcare?

While this is a mathematical average, it is still revealing.  You must remember that much of the cost of government goes beyond taxes.  Invisible ‘taxes’ are piled on us whenever the production of anything we use is made more expensive by government regulation.  However you look at it, YOU have to pay for it.

Will the cost of government day continue to move ever later into the year?  This bothers me for theological reasons.  The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 13 that we owe taxes to those who give their full time to punishing evil and commending good.  We have a system of governments that both condemn good and commend evil.  (Examples abound, abortion being just one.)

So it is the height of theological naiveté to claim that scripture requires that we should cheerfully support our current mess.

As the government approaches more closely to self-declared omni-competence, it will demand that an ever-greater part of our lives be devoted to its feeding.  Economically speaking, that means it will be more and more difficult for people to support themselves – which becomes yet another excuse for the government to claim more power.

And theologically speaking, it means the government will tacitly claim to be god.  (And be led by messianic figures?  Just asking.)

Who Could Possibly Know?

Today I received a note from Jim Wallis at SojoMail.  In case you don’t know Wallis, he is someone who –very mistakenly and perhaps even a little perversely – thinks that Christianity demands socialism.  So I was not surprised to see that he is aghast to see so many people opposed to the current proposals for ‘health care reform.’  He is angry at all the ‘misinformation’ put forth by those who oppose the current proposal.  Wallis says:

A friend of mine recently traveled across several states in the U.S. visiting friends on summer vacation. He told me that, everywhere he went, people asked him to read e-mails they’d received. These e-mails had no author and no citations to support the misleading statements about health-care reform they contained – including the false claim that, if health-care reform passed, it would force families to see doctors and receive care dictated by a government panel. This is not true.

These egregious and false accusations are being created for only one purpose: to manipulate and instill fear in American citizens.

Does Jim mean emails that refer to unnamed friends who refer to unnamed people who claim to have read undocumented e-mails?  We will let that one slide for the moment.

At the moment, the only completed bill in congress is in the House.  You can try to read it if you care to do so by using this link:

I was surprised that a 1018 page document could load so quickly.  It is rather interesting in many respects.

The table of contents is seven and a half pages long.  Then comes the section where terms are defined.  This requires seven more pages.  Then the actual bill begins.  It is convoluted, as you are constantly referred forward and backward to various sections and sub-sections as you move through the bill.

In short, even a person of above-average intelligence would have trouble understanding what you would need to do to comply with this bill should it become law.  If there are false claims being made about this bill, Jim Wallis should not be surprised.  It was written in a way guaranteed to make it not understandable.

This has become standard procedure.  Members of Congress now admit that they do not read or understand the bills for which they vote.  So neither those who pass the laws, nor those who are required to live under them understand those laws.

Those convoluted bills that become ‘law’ that no one understands are interpreted and administered by bureaucracies.  What this means in the end is that we no longer live in a society ordered by law.  We live in a regime controlled by hoards of departments, cabinets, commissions, panels, etc.

It sounds very much like the society portrayed in Orwell’s 1984.

It sounds like one of the complaints against the king in the Declaration of Independence, “He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”

People cannot be expected to comply with laws that even the representatives who pass them can’t understand.  Americans are right to be completely terrified of “American’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.”  We are always well-advised not to sign a contract we have not read.  In the same way, we are well-advised to oppose any new law that we cannot clearly understand.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

No Talking Allowed, Children

As reported in Real Clear Politics:

Preaching to the choir at a rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, our beloved Fuhrer Obama said:

I expect to be held responsible for these issues [the economy, health care, etc.] because I'm the president.  But I don't want the folks who created the mess doing a lot of talking. I want them to just get out of the way . . . I don't mind cleaning up after them, but don't do a lot of talking. Am I wrong . . .?

Kent comments:

Yes, Mein Fuhrer, you are wrong, as usual.  I think I will say that now before your green-shirted thugs come to get me.  Most of us didn’t even contribute to ‘this mess’ you are talking about.  But for now, at least until you manage to completely abolish the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, we don’t care who you want talking.

We also will not be ‘getting out of the way.’  We intend to be in your ‘way’ every step of that way.

We will be praying that God will speed the day when you and your thugs sail back to Chicago (with apologies to Chicago) or wherever it is you came from.  Until then, wherever you turn, we will be ‘in your way.’

As a matter of fact, if anyone should shut up, that would be you.  But we are all allowed to talk, or we used to be.  So I suppose we have to let you talk, too.

It would be amusing to see what you could say sometime without that teleprompter.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dear Senator McConnell of Kentucky:

In an earlier post I questioned you in regard to your seemingly too open mind to the travesty that is the judgeship of the ‘I’m better than some white man’ Sotomayor.  But I see today that, in the end, you did the right thing, the only wise thing, and you will vote against her.

Since I questioned you before, I want to give you your due now.  Thank you for supporting the Constitution, and thus opposing Sotomayor.  Well done . . .


Kent B. True


Meanwhile, across the river in Ohio, something that calls himself a Republican – the kind of creature that has made some of us start to become ill at the sound of the word ‘Republican’ - George Voinovich of Ohio has disgraced his state, his office, and the Constitution by supporting Judge ‘I’m better than some white man’ Sotomayor.

With Republicans like Voinovich, who needs Democrats?  Is Voinovich really the best Ohio can do?

On the Conservation of Liberty

My son recently announced that he was reading Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind and wondered if I had ever read it.  I had, but it had been many years since that reading, so I decided to read it again so we could discuss it.  (Note:  He began reading this book as a ‘break’ from his preparation for the comprehensive exams phase of his Ph. D. program in Political Science.  How is this book a ‘break’ from Political Science?)

As you can probably tell if you read these rants of mine often, if you had to categorize my views they probably fall somewhere in the conservative to classical liberal range.  I have sometimes thought of myself as a libertarian, and I have even spoken at a Libertarian Party state convention.  But when I speak to libertarians long enough I realize that while we have much in common, I’m not exactly one of them.  (Though I must say that they have always been very cordial with me when I start preaching to them, as I almost always do, even though a significant number of them are of the atheist/agnostic view.)

Meanwhile, back to The Conservative Mind.  Kirk traces the history of conservative thought in the relatively modern world by examining the thought of some of its key proponents.  It is an excellent book to help you locate yourself in conservatism, so to speak.  I find the 18th century British conservatives interesting, but still a bit foreign to me.  (Didn’t really mean that as a pun.)

I find myself, somewhat surprisingly, attracted to the thought of John C. Calhoun.  Kirk reminds us that Calhoun at one time had presidential ambitions, and then adds:

But one moving conviction, which in Calhoun overruled all his other ideas and even mastered his burning ambition, intervened to convert him into the most resolute enemy of national consolidation and of omnicompetent democratic majorities:  his devotion to freedom.  This principle ruined him as a politician.  As a man of thought and a force in history, he was transfigured by it.

I find something noble, beautiful, moving, admirable in that attitude:  a devotion to freedom that ruins one as a politician.  (Ironically, that is exactly the kind of person for whom I would campaign and vote.)  Like many antebellum southern thinkers, much of Calhoun’s effort was, unfortunately, bent to the defense of slavery.  But when you consider the things he said, elevated above their immediate context and generalized, Calhoun was a compelling political thinker.

But I think that as much as I admire Calhoun, I am more in sympathy with a group Kirk calls the ‘Liberal Conservatives’ which includes Alexis De Tocqueville.  (So I seem to be throwing in with the the French rather than the British!  How odd.)  Of this group Kirk says

We are in danger of forgetting how strongly attached the old liberal were to liberty.  Political liberalism before the middle of the nineteenth century . . . intended to conserve liberty.

Last summer when I was teaching a class at an area church on Christianity and Politics, I spent a few moments on the idea of conserving liberty.  At the time I fancied that an original thought of mine, neglecting the maxim that very little thought is original.  Whatever else it is, I find the idea of ‘conserving liberty’ stunning in a positive way.  It makes me long for a political situation in which liberals are liberal because they are ‘conserving liberty’ and conservatives are conservative because they are ‘conserving liberty.’

Though, as I said, I had read Kirk long ago, I had forgotten how much of it I had forgotten!  At this point I am about one third of the way through my re-read.  Perhaps I will have more to review later.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We ‘Heil’

There has been a lot of talk lately about something that you can find on the official White House blog site:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care.  These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation.  Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

In response to a recent post here an acquaintance of mine urged me not to make fun of Obama and company.  He was referring to my comment that Obama has ‘big ears and a big mouth.’  I should perhaps revise my statement and say that Obama’s ears are not especially large.  It’s just that his head is rather small, and he is extremely skinny, giving an appearance of largeness to his ears.

It is far too easy to make fun of Obama, and many of the people with whom he has surrounded himself.  He is farcical, in the way that strutting, wannabe totalitarians often are.

For example, in spite of the horror of his deeds, it is difficult to watch old clips of Adolph Hitler and not, after shuddering a bit, laugh.  He was a little shrimp of a man strutting around in a uniform, screaming meaningless tripe to crowds of adoring nitwits.

Though he has not yet been able to gain the power that Hitler eventually held (and remember, Hitler was elected at first), Obama is a skinny little wisp of a man who clearly thinks he is very much above we peons and who has made a career of reading meaningless tripe from his prompter to crowds of adoring nitwits.

But it appears that some of the nitwits have awakened recently.  And now that they have the audacity (is that the audacity of hope?) to question his highness, Obama and company have begun to prove that the parallels between them and the Nazis are not all that remote.

So if you see something ‘fishy’ about health insurance reform, by all means send it to Der Fuhrer and his Gestapo, or rather, our beloved leader at the White House.  The ministry of Anti-Disinformation needs to know.

In that Hitler-like way, it is all a little bit funny.

And if you have a spare 7 minutes and 54 seconds, check out this related and funny video.  Just substitute ‘Obama’ for ‘Der Fuhere’ and is very timely indeed!  And remember:

When Obama says, “You must stay in your place!”
We “Heil” we “Heil” right in Obama’s face.
Not to love Obama is a great disgrace.
So we heil heil right in der fuehrer's face.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Irrelevance of Relevance

The title here is section sub-title from a recent excerpt of the book Unfashionable.  You should have a look for yourself, but here are some selected highlights and my (inevitable) comments:

If you stop and listen, you’ll hear that the cry of our times is for something completely otherworldly. People are up to their necks in up-to-date structures and cutting-edge methodologies. They’re beginning to understand that modern capabilities cannot make us better and more satisfied people nor make this world a better, more satisfying place. They seem desperate to recover a world that once was, a world that allows for mystery, miracle, and wonder—a world with windows to somewhere else.

Many church leaders have been telling us for a long time that the church’s cultural significance ultimately depends on its ability to keep up either with changing structures and environments (innovative technology, for instance) or with the latest intellectual fad (such as postmodernism).

All this comes at precisely the time when our culture is growing weary of slick production and whatever’s new and is growing hungry for authentic presence and historical rootedness. Younger generations don’t want trendy engagement from the church; in fact, they’re suspicious of it. Instead they want truthful engagement with historical and theological solidity that enables meaningful interaction with transcendent reality. They want desperately to invest their lives in something worth dying for, not some here-today gone-tomorrow fad.

We need to remember that God has established his church as an alternative society, not to compete with or copy this world, but to offer a refreshing alternative to it. When we forget this, we inadvertently communicate to our culture that we have nothing unique to offer, nothing deeply spiritual or profoundly transforming. Tragically, this leaves many in our world looking elsewhere for the difference they crave.

Kent comments:

Many Christians and churches I know have no clue about this.  It is more than a bit amusing that there are still some little churches out there in the wildwood somewhere who have recently, or hope to very soon, get a projector installed in the church building.  They want to finally get that ultimate connection to God, PowerPoint.  They have seen it when visiting other churches, and they now know the wonder of its true POWER to help people connect to the divine – or so they seem to think.

But there are others who are aware of the points made in the excerpt above.  They say they understand this completely and they agree.  But everything they DO says that they are unable or unwilling to wean themselves from the ‘up-to-date structures and cutting-edge methodologies’ and ‘innovative technology and latest fad’ approach to the Christian faith and the church.

Here is one small example:  when I tell many of my minister friends that many of the college-age people I know greatly enjoy older church music, they seem not to believe me.  This is especially true of baby-boomer age church leaders.

But even if people did want the latest fad, the church should not be the place where it is found.  The church should never have to be urged to offer ‘truthful engagement with historical and theological solidity’ for though the phrase is perhaps a bit pretentious, it does identify what the church should always be about.

The church will never be able to compete with the world in regard to ‘the latest thing.’  That doesn’t mean we cannot use technology or methodology.  But we do need to move those things several notches down the priority list to make room for the important things that belong at the top of the list.

In very practical terms this means at least being able to imagine what your church would be without Twitter, without TV screens, without computers or PowerPoint, without projectors, without electronic amplification, with no mention of the latest ‘ism’ or method, and without anything connected to ‘contemporary Christian music.’  Because if you think that if you had to do without any of these there would be nothing left, then the thing you are practicing if NOT the Christian faith.

Friday, July 31, 2009

What Is Wrong with This Picture?

House Votes to Give $2 Billion More to 'Cash for Clunkers'
Week-old government program to encourage car sales had proven so popular with consumers that it was almost out of cash. The House bill would redirect funds in the already-passed economic stimulus package that were intended for energy loan guarantees.

Kent Comments:

The government collects money from people.  Note:  there are many ways to do this.  People can be taxed.  Or the state can create more money from nothing, which devalues all existing money, thus taxing anyone who holds the money.  Or the state can borrow, which means – if it doesn’t repudiate its debts – that future people will have to pay.  Whatever the mechanism, the government collects money from people.

Now the government ‘gives’ this money to certain groups and certain transactions:  buying a car, buying a house, or whatever the favored transaction might be.  This is especially attractive during a (government-caused) recession.  Supposedly, the economy is being ‘stimulated.’

So what is wrong with this picture?  Isn’t it great that (some) people are getting new cars, houses, or whatever the favored product-of-the-month might be?

Problem the first:  people are spending in ways that are not their first choices.  There are those who would not have bought a new car, at least not now, without the government ‘paying’ them to do so.  Those who were forced to fork over the money to pay for this are also not buying (or saving) as they would have with the money that was or will be taken from them.

This in turn means that products are being produced that were NOT people’s first choice.  For example, more cars are being made because of all this, and while idiots in Congress along with our big-eared, big-mouthed President might think that is wonderful, it necessarily means that other things are NOT being made that would have been made – things people really wanted.

Problem second:  But the above are, to my mind, relatively minor economic problems.  (I say that with a sad, half-grin in place.)  The even greater problem is that a very valuable commodity is being extinguished in this horrible process.

When we allow the government to manipulate, even by ‘giving’ away money, what people buy, we destroy something important.  When we allow the government to take money from taxpayers, holders of dollars, or future generations to fund these sickening schemes, we exterminate something unseen but of greater value than all the automobiles that used to be made in Detroit.  When we allow demented demagogues to convince the ignorant or ignoble among us to go along with all this we deface something of great worth.

We destroy liberty.  On the list of endangered things, liberty should be number one.  And if you are one of those fools willing to trade your liberty for a new car, you deserve neither.