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.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Benevolent Racism

Bruce Fleming, an English professor who has taught at the Naval Academy for 22 years, recently published an article in which he revealed how the United States Navel Academy attempts to achieve ‘diversity.’  The matter came down to this:  a white student must have scores of at least 600 on each section of the SAT and high school grades of As and Bs, while ‘minority’ students need only SAT scores in the 500s and may have C grades on their transcripts.  This English professor, who had been on the admissions committee at the Academy, said he was told not to write anything down regarding the system to help foil Freedom of Information Act suits!

Our race-crazed society is full of examples of this sort of thing.  There is, of course, only one name for it:  racism.

On the one hand, we are often told that racism is a bad thing.  It was to be eradicated everywhere and for all time.  But on the other hand it appears that a little unspoken caveat comes with the deal.  Racism is bad unless it is benevolent racism.  That is, if it is thought that racism might help someone, then racism becomes a good thing, a necessary practice – especially when practiced by the government and the various institutions connected to government.

At least the purveyors of government-sponsored racism are consistent.  You can see that consistency in other areas.

For example, stealing is a bad thing.  But if the government steals to help someone (benevolent stealing), then in that case it is good.  We call that the welfare state.

Also, murder is bad, very bad.  Some states will still, after enough appeals, put you to death for some versions of murder.  But if the person being murdered is not yet born, or perhaps only partly born, then murder can be a good thing.  That is benevolent murder.  We call that abortion.

Our society will not long endure this moral schizophrenia.  In the end we will either stop tolerating all racism, theft, murder and their kin, or we will stop trying to pretend that they are bad practices some of the time.  It will be an unlivable world if that second possibility ever occurs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings . . .

Last Sunday our Sunday School class started one of those short ‘fill-in’ classes to take up the last few weeks of summer.  Someone – our minister, I presume – found four, short feature style modern day parables.

The first one was very good – well written, well acted.  The plot was neither trite nor ‘preachy’ as that sort of thing often is.  The development was very moving.  It explored, in some depth for a short feature, the intricacy of feelings surrounding an intra-family betrayal and forgiveness situation.  You might say it covered in a very general way the matters of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son.

Many characters had, as you would expect, all sorts of strong emotional ‘baggage’ that that some explored and ‘resolved’ and others did not.  In fact, those characters who ‘explored and resolved’ were portrayed as being somehow more ‘in touch’ with God.   This made me think of how different our story-telling-for-a-purpose is from that of Jesus.

Consider Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son.  The characters say things and do things.  Some of what they say and do allows us to infer with some degree of certainty how they were ‘feeling.’  For example, when the older son complains about his father celebrating the return of the wayward younger son, it seems very obvious that there was more than a bit of jealousy involved.  But notice how the ‘feeling’ side of that is not explored in detail.  No character is portrayed in the self-examination of emotional states.  No one even mentions anything like ‘unresolved jealousy.’

The examination of ‘feelings’ is a modern obsession, but that is not my point here.  Instead, I was reminded by all this of the conceptual, world-view distance between us and the Biblical setting.  It is a warning that we have a lot of work to do when we attempt to understand and apply the Bible to our world.

This is not to say that there is anything necessarily wrong with a modern parable using our culture’s tendency toward psychoanalysis to captivate an audience.  But if we come to expect that of the Bible, or especially if we attempt to impose that approach on the Bible, we will greatly handicap ourselves in the journey toward Biblical understanding.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why You Say ‘We’ Kemosabe?

In a recent Christianity Today article:

Is The Gay Marriage Debate Over?
What the battle for traditional marriage means for Americans—and evangelicals.
Mark Galli | posted 7/24/2009 10:27AM

I found the following statements:

Gay marriage advocacy was given new life with Massachusetts's historic 2003 high court ruling . . .

But seemingly out of nowhere, gay marriage advocates have won stunning judicial, legislative, and social victories. . .

Even more disheartening has been to witness how, in each mainline denomination, and even in some evangelical seminaries, fellow Christians lobby hard for gay marriage.

The depressing feeling of inevitability is precisely what advocates of gay marriage want to instill in their opponents.

Still, we are at our wits' ends about what to say next, impervious as the gay marriage juggernaut is.

I will say more about the article later, but first this:  when we battle bad ideas, we should not surrender important terminological ground.  The original meaning of ‘gay’ was ‘having or showing a merry, lively mood’ and its synonyms included ‘gleeful, jovial, glad, joyous, happy, cheerful.’  I am still unwilling to concede this word to homosexuality.  There is nothing gay about homosexuality.  There is something evil about it.  Why Christian writers are so willing to give this propaganda term to the opposition is beyond me.

In any case, Galli goes on to conclude in his article:

We are, of all Christian traditions, the most individualistic. This individual emphasis has flourished in different ways and in different settings, and often for the good. . . But it is individualism nonetheless, and it cuts right to the heart of one of our best arguments against gay marriage.

We cannot very well argue for the sanctity of marriage as a crucial social institution while we blithely go about divorcing and approving of remarriage at a rate that destabilizes marriage. We cannot say that an institution, like the state, has a perfect right to insist on certain values and behavior from its citizens while we refuse to submit to denominational or local church authority. We cannot tell gay couples that marriage is about something much larger than self-fulfillment when we, like the rest of heterosexual culture, delay marriage until we can experience life, and delay having children until we can enjoy each other for a few years.

In short, we have been perfect hypocrites on this issue. Until we admit that, and take steps to amend our ways, our cries of alarm about gay marriage will echo off into oblivion.

And here we see an example of when appeal to individualism is needed.  There is no ‘we’ who argues for the sanctity of marriage; only individuals can present arguments.  And hypocrisy cannot be rightly assigned to some collective ‘we.’  Some Christians may be hypocrites in this matter, others are not.  Many have never been divorced.  Some who are were the innocent victims of adultery.  There is no ‘we’ in this matter.

Galli should be very careful in his rhetorical flourish.  The problem with all things homosexual is that they violate the commandment of God.  Matters like delaying marriage, or having children later in a marriage do not necessarily violate any commandment of God.  To lump them together as Galli does is more than presumptuous on his part.

But in spite of the fact that there are some Christian hypocrites (on these and other matters) the matter of marriage – and the exclusion of anything homosexual from it – remains what it is.  It remains that way because it is not a matter of human definition.  It was defined, by virtue of creation, by God.

So when Galli says above that ‘We cannot very well argue for the sanctity of marriage’ or ‘We cannot tell gay couples that marriage is about something much larger than self-fulfillment’ he is flat-out wrong.  Many Christians very well CAN argue from a non-hypocritical position on this matter.

But even those have violated God’s prescription, and who are perhaps truly repentant, need not hold back in announcing God’s proscription on ‘homosexual marriage’ because it is God’s proscription, not ours.  No amount of hand-wringing about how bad ‘we’ are changes that.  If cries of alarm about homosexual attempts to redefine religion ‘echo off into oblivion’ it is because, as the Apostle Paul once said, some prefer to worship the creature rather than the Creator.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An Open Letter to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky

Dear Senator McConnell,

I recently wrote to you urging you, for a variety of substantial reasons, to oppose the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.  In a letter of July 15, 2009 you responded to me.  You said, in part:

When the U.S. Senate evaluated Judge Sotomayor’s nomination in 1998 [to the U.S. Court of appeals for the Second Circuit] I had concerns about whether she would apply the law even-handedly, despite her own feelings or personal or political preferences, and whether she would strictly interpret the U.S. Constitution instead of legislating from the bench.  My concerns were serious enough that I voted against her confirmation at the time . . .

You then conclude:

Despite my concerns at her confirmation in 1998, I intend not to prejudge her current nomination.  Instead, I will review her record to assess whether her statements and actions reflect an nominee who will interpret the law, and not write it.

Now I read that:

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the GOP would not attempt to block or filibuster a vote on her nomination. "I look forward to you getting that vote before we recess in August," he told Sotomayor during her fourth appearance before the committee.

Senator McConnell, what do think has changed in this nominee’s views since 1998?  Do you think our current radical leftist President nominated Sotomayor because she is a judicial conservative?  A simple perusal of her many public comments reveals that many of the answers she gave at the recent hearings were lies which were obvious attempts to cover her pervious statements.  Even a poor hick like me can see that.

So then, does Senator Jeff Sessions really speak for the GOP?  Is this the kind of weak-kneed (lack of) leadership we can now expect when we vote for Republicans?  For many years now I have voted for you and many other Republicans, in part simply to oppose the many destructive schemes of Democrats.  Where is that opposition in this very important instance?

Conservatism can never make political headway as long as you and your colleagues insist on ‘playing nice’ with the other side.  Robert Bork, for example, was ‘Borked’ by Democrats, and as a result is NOT on the high court.  Republicans treat a horrible candidate like Sotomayor with kid gloves, and we are to be stuck with her for life.

I must conclude that the GOP is not so ‘grand’ these days.  It appears that those of us who would like to advance the ordered liberty of conservatism may need to look elsewhere.  With Republicans like many of those now serving in the United States Senate, who needs Democrats?

If you and your colleagues are not going to fight the various forms of political garbage being foist upon us by leftists, why, exactly, should we bother to support you in the future?  (I sincerely invite an honest answer to this question by you or any other Republican leader.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Liberal vs. illiberal


[From ‘The Clash of Stereotypes’ by Dinesh D'Souza at Christianity Today 7/20/2009']

It's helpful to distinguish between two types of liberalism. One is the classical liberalism of the American founding. Call this Liberalism 1, which is reflected in such principles as the right to vote, to assemble freely, to trade with others and keep the fruits of one's labor, to practice one's religion, to tolerate different political and religious views, and so on.

Then there is the modern liberalism that developed in the West after World War II. Call this Liberalism 2, which is characterized by the right to blaspheme, pornography as a protected form of free expression, the exclusion of religious symbols from the public square, the right of teenagers to receive sex education and contraceptives, the right to abortion, prostitution as a worker's right, and so on.

The data show that the vast majority of Muslims support Liberalism 1 while rejecting Liberalism 2. From Jakarta to Jeddah, from Islamabad to Istanbul, Muslims are deeply concerned that, through U.S. military force, economic pressures, and the global spread of American popular culture, the values of Liberalism 2 are being imposed on the Muslim world.

Kent Comments:

This raises some very interesting questions.  Not all of D’Souza’s listed examples of Liberalism 2 are equal, but let’s try his first example:  blasphemy.  How does one maintain Liberalism 1 and yet ‘do something’ about blasphemy?  It is, after all, a ‘religious view’ is it not?

So it would appear that we cannot hold to a principle of toleration for differences of religious views and at the same time do anything ‘political’ about blasphemy.  But this doesn’t mean that there is nothing to be done in regard to blasphemy and things like it under Liberalism 1.

Because part of Liberalism 1 is the freedom of association, and the sanctity of private property.  This means that those opposed to blasphemy, for example, can use any kind of social pressure to discourage it.  Social pressure is not violent or coercive.  This might mean not befriending or even doing business with those who blaspheme as long as they continue to blaspheme.  Social pressure could be a good and useful thing, except for two problems.

First, advocates of Liberalism 2 have done everything in their power to make social pressure illegal.  Liberalism 2 claims, in essence, that once you go into business the government gains a large degree of control over your property.  You are not legally allowed to ‘discriminate’ in regard to your customers or your employees – which is another way of saying that you no longer control your own property!  In other words, Liberalism 2 wants to subsume ‘social pressure’ under the law and the sword, and thus, in effect, eliminate it.  This is part of what makes Liberalism 2 anti-liberal in terms of Liberalism 1.

But the view of ‘the vast majority of Muslims’ includes the idea that the government should punish those who blaspheme.  They, too, want to subsume ‘social pressure’ under the law.  But instead of eliminating it, they want to give it ‘the power of the sword.’  This is part of what makes many Muslims anti-liberal in the sense of Liberalism 1.

Social pressure is a valuable societal tool, which is given ‘space’ to operate by the very principles of Liberalism 1.  But both Liberalism 2 (modern ‘leftists’) and many Muslims want to take it away because they are, in the end, illiberal in the very best sense of that word.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why Not Just Separate School and State?

Religion in Schools
The National Free to Speak Campaign
By Chuck Colson|Published Date: July 16, 2009

As her contribution to a school mural, Melissa Yates painted a cross with the words “I believe, do you?” School officials quickly whitewashed her artwork, erasing her expression of faith.

Olivia Turton wanted to sing her favorite song, “Awesome God,” during an after-school talent show. She was denied permission to do so.

Harrison Kravat asked to read the Bible during quiet reading time at school. He was told to take his Bible home.

Elizabeth Johnson proposed to her teacher a book report on the Book of Exodus. Her teacher said “no.”

Each of these students has a story to share—about how their religious freedom was squashed by school officials who were either ignorant of the law or fearful of offending the ACLU.

After legal motions were filed for each of these situations, Melissa re-painted her cross, Olivia sang her song, Elizabeth completed and submitted her book report, and Harrison read his Bible at school during quiet time.

But a lot of time and legal expenses could have been spared if school officials had simply followed the Department of Education’s guidelines on students’ freedom of religious expression.

Kent Comments:

And even more time, legal expenses, and all sorts of other wasted cultural capital could have been spared if the Department of Education were abolished (Reagan said he would do that, but didn’t or couldn’t follow through) and school and state were as carefully separated as church and state.

For all the same reasons that it is counter-productive for the government to own GM, for example, it is also counter-productive for governments to own schools.  Though it is now a long-standing tradition, it is a bad tradition.  It is, if you think about it, the epitome of socialism – government ownership of the means of production.

For one thing, it is completely impossible to separate education from religion.  You cannot explore the physical universe, the human self, and the human experience without using significant religious assumptions or conclusions.  Even the thought that there is no God, or that God is irrelevant to education, is itself a religious position.

The original reason/excuse for government ownership of schools seemed to be that functioning citizens in a republic needed to be educated to some extent.  But once governments own schools, those in power in government will tend to educate students ‘in their own image.’  State-provided education will tend to be, to some extent, an apologetic for current state policies.  How often, for example, do students in government-owned schools seriously explore the problems with governments owning schools?

And thus can you now peruse the curricula of most state-owned schools and find little breeding grounds for environmentalism, multi-culturalism, nanny-statism, agnosticism, and every other current ‘politically correct’ drivel imaginable.  Even those who seriously disagree with all this are forced to pay to have it stuffed into the minds of those sentenced to endure such nonsense from ages 5/6-18.

These are problems all easily solvable by separating school and state, if only we had the courage to do so!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Do Something, You Weenie Republicans!


Every evening before going to bed, I brush my teeth – and floss, too!  (Good hygiene, wouldn’t you say?)  Earlier this week I was listening to the Mark Levin radio show while pursuing said good hygiene.

Mark was talking with one of the Republican Senators on the judicial committee who had been questioning the new Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor.  This Senator had asked some good questions, but he repeatedly said to Mark Levin, “I have to be respectful.  She is a federal judge.”

As pertinent as the Senator’s questions for Sotomayor were, I have some questions for this Senator, and all those who take that approach.

Do you not think that, in this Sotomayor person, we are dealing with someone who has absolutely no regard for individual liberty?  Everything she has said indicates that she a lying weasel who will mouth any words to the Senate committee that she thinks will help get her nominated.

Do you remember how the haters of liberty treated Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas?  They defeated Bork and forever tarnished Thomas with tactics that had no relationship to respect.  Go back and listen to the then-more-sober Ted Kennedy’s part of the questioning of those two.

Do you not think that when the very existence of liberty is in danger, as it is right now, it is time to abandon your polite little thoughts about ‘respect’ and do whatever you can to save what’s left of the republic?  It’s as though you Republicans come to the OK Corral with squirt guns while the opposition is armed with Colt .45s.  When asked why, you say, “It wouldn’t be right to use a real gun.  Someone might get hurt.”

We WANT someone to ‘get hurt.’  We want the haters of liberty to be DEFEATED!  (How hard is that to understand, you gutless Republicans?)

Even the few fairly good Republicans these days are WEENIES.  Gentlemen and gentlewomen who have any regard for liberty:  it is time to ‘take off the gloves.’  It is time to ‘get down and get dirty.’  It is time to do whatever is necessary to defeat the enemy, those who would sacrifice liberty to their vision of a collectivist state.

Stop being ‘polite’ –whatever you think that means.  This is no drill!  Do whatever you must to make clear liberty-despising mind behind Sotomayor’s fake, smug little face.  Do it now before it is everlastingly too late.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pretend to Care for Fun and Profit

Todays Comic

Does this sort of thing make you as sick as it does me?

At one grocery store, they want to sell me a cloth bag for $1.99 so I won’t use their paper bags.  I don’t mind that they want to do that, but I do mind that they (very thinly) attempt to disguise their real motives by claiming that this will ‘help the earth.’  No, it won’t.  But it will help the grocery store – and that would be fine if they had the guts to admit it and not hide behind the idiocy of environmentalism.

At another grocery/department store their ever-present-and-babbling TV screens urge me to buy their ‘organic’ products – which happen to be much more pricey than the regular stuff.  I don’t mind the store hocking the organic junk.  But I feel like throwing a piece of fruit at the big screen when it tells me how this will ‘help the environment.’  It will help the store.  I wish they had the guts to admit it, and not hide behind the idiocy of environmentalism.

And the problem goes beyond the simple hypocrisy here.  When companies begin to think they can profit from the stupidity of environmentalism, they suddenly become willing accomplices with the idiot environmentalists to ram their stupid ideas down the throats of the rest of us.

Here is a possible way for a company to ‘cash in’ on the environmental movement in a way that would be both honest and helpful for the general welfare.  Companies could put bounties on the heads of environmentalists.  You bag one and bring it in, and you get cash, store credit, or some other tangible reward.  The higher profile the environmentalist, the bigger the prize.

Yes, yes – I know it is not morally permissible thus to kill.  But couldn’t we just temporarily assume the leftist ethic of the environmentalists, which often assumes the permissibility (and for some, even the desirability – and some have so said) of killing unwanted babies?  Then, just before bagging some unwanted environmentalist, we could simply say, “Sorry, we thought you were a baby!”

I suppose not.  But can’t we dream?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pushing Me Toward Hate


It’s official now, and I will publically admit it:  I am very close to hating the Obama administration.  I think I am about to hate Obama himself.  Why?

Not for the policies, as bad as those are.  They are simply designed to destroy liberty and turn what little is left of a free society into soft fascist state.

What I am about to hate Obama for is what he has done to me, to my mind, to my attitude.  He ran for president as the first (partly) black man to do so.  He allowed his supporters to turn his election into a racial matter.  I have never cared what color a person is.  But the incessant harping about Obama’s mixed race – as stupid as some of that harping is – has made it almost impossible to ignore race.  And that is wrong.

I wanted to evaluate Obama as a person, period.  That has not been permitted.  People keep screaming that I must evaluate Obama as a ‘racial unit’ of some kind.  That is demeaning both to him and to me.  He seems to revel in being demeaned like that.  But I hate the fact that these people are trying to suck me into all this.

True to his disgusting form in this regard, he has appointed someone to the Supreme Court who – everyone insists – must be evaluated, not as a person and a justice, but as a ‘Latina woman.’  I have tried very hard, in a society that sometimes makes it very difficult, NOT to evaluate people in terms of sex and race.  (Note:  not ‘gender’ – words have a gender, humans have a sex.)

But now the fact that this justice-deficient ‘justice’ is a Latina woman is being rammed down my throat.  And I am very close to hating all the people who are doing that, from Obama and his administration to those nit-wits in the United States Senate who are pushing for the confirmation of this – not person – but this ‘Latina woman.’

I am very close to hating all the people who are doing these things, because they and what they are doing is evil, and it is hard not to hate evil, even when it is personified.

I hate that they are trying to make me hate.  May God bring swiftly upon them all the reward they so richly deserve for being purveyors of hate.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Church Gone Awry

This is from:

John Calvin at 500 -- Faithful and Welcoming Luncheon, General Synod Grand Rapids

presented by Charles Hambrick-Stowe

By contrast, the tendency in the UCC since 1957 has been overwhelmingly toward human action, social action, social reform, living your faith in the public arena. Our activism -- our gift -- believing means doing -- most certainly stems from our Calvinist heritage (whether UCC members know this or not). But -- and this, it seems to me, is the spiritual problem of the United Church of Christ -- our commitment to faithful living is no longer rooted in a theology of redemption. In many places and at many organizational levels of the church, the very concept of justification and sanctification are ignored or even rejected as obsolete, meaningless, or hurtful doctrines. Salvation is construed as getting in touch with your true self, perhaps especially your true gendered self, so if there is a theological emphasis at all it is on the doctrine of creation ("God doesn't create junk") and, with regard to Jesus, the doctrine of the Incarnation, God-with-us, validating us just as we are. But . . . the Fall? Atonement? Reconciliation of sinful humanity with the God of holiness? Word that Christ died for our sins? Who in our churches knows what any of this means anymore?

Kent comments:

This is from a group of United Churches of Christ that are attempting a kind of reform movement within that group.  These ‘Faithful and Welcoming Churches’ see their group as an alternative to withdrawal from the UCC.  While they don’t like the direction the UCC has gone, they don’t think becoming an independent congregation is a good idea either because, among other things, they think a denominational structure can help keep churches from going astray!

One has to ask, “How’s that working out for you in the UCC – which by your own admission is so messed up that you have to have this reforming group?!?”  Nevertheless . . .

It is very interesting to get this inside look at some of the things that concern a reform-minded minister of the UCC.  Hambrick-Stowe is here particularly interested in the heritage from John Calvin.  But some of the matters he mentions here transcend Calvinism.  ‘Activism’ can be a good thing IF you know what to be active for.  Too often, ‘activism’ has become a code-word from ‘actively promoting state-enforced socialism.’  This is certainly true of most of the UCC.  I hope this is not the case with these ‘Faithful and Welcoming’ people.

The characterization that in the UCC, “Salvation is construed as getting in touch with your true self, perhaps especially your true gendered self” has become the standard fare in the mainline denominations.  I can sympathize with anyone who found that sort of thing in the group he was affiliated with and wants to do something about it.  And who can be surprised that a man who admires John Calvin wants to reform something!  While I can’t fully agree with the approach of the ‘FWChurches’ (that’s what they call it) people, I also can’t help but wish them well.  Almost every church I have ever known needed some degree of reforming.

But beyond all this, we should make note of something very important.  These matters that Hambrick-Stowe complains about here – serious departures from the Christian faith – are pandemic in much of the UCC.  Some churches, and some ministers, are much further ‘down the tubes’ than others.

It is within the theological/ecclesiastical mess that B. H. Obama found his ‘church home.’  It is where he learned ‘Christianity.’  It is the source of his ‘theology’ such as it is.  There has been a lot of discussion about Obama’s religious background, where the Obama family will attend church while he is president, and so forth.  While that might all be of interest to the media paparazzi, if you want to know what Obama thinks about religion, you need to look at what the very worst parts of the UCC believes.  That is Obama’s spiritual womb.

As this insider reveals, it is not a pretty picture.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Better Than Elections

"Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens."
--George Mason, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 17, 1788

Contrast the above with what follows:

Congressmen Who Vote for Government-Run Health Care Agency Should Be Its First Customers
Thursday, July 09, 2009
By Matt Cover

( – Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) introduced a bill Monday that urges members of Congress who vote to create a government-run health insurance agency to give up their own comprehensive health insurance plans to join the new the public option they advocate for others.  The bill, H. Res. 615, says members of Congress who vote for a government-run health care bureau should become the inaugural customers of government-run health-care.

Kent comments:

The fact that anyone would need to propose this kind of legislation is one of many signals of the end of the Republic.  There is now and has been for some time a political class - much to the chagrin of those who love liberty.  Elected officials at the national level have bestowed upon themselves all sorts of perks, many of which do not end when their term of office ends.

My guess is that H.R. 615 will never see a vote in the House.  Far too many who serve in the higher levels of government take the phrase ‘an honor and a privilege’ to mean, “I now deserve special privileges.’  And have them they do.

For some time now I have been convinced that we would be much better off replacing elections with citizen lotteries.  It would work like this:  the names of all those age-qualified for an office, residing in the appropriate location for that office, would be put into a big hopper.  (This could make a fun TV show, by the way.)  When the time came for a given office to be filled, a name would be drawn.  If for some reason that person did not want to serve, another name would be drawn, until a willing person was found.  A person could serve at a given political ‘location’ (House, Senate, etc.) only once.  The person serving would have all reasonable expenses paid out of the public treasury – nothing more.

And that’s how we would fill our various offices.  I think the is a very high likelihood that we would have better government with this system.  It appears to me that the ability to convince people to vote for you in an election is more likely to make you an undesirable office-holder than it is to make you a good office-holder.

Of course, with a citizen lottery in place of elections, we would get some ‘losers’ in office.  But when you ponder the likes of Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi (just to name a couple), how likely is it that we would do worse with a lottery?  I would much rather trust political decisions to one of my randomly-chosen neighbors than to the kind of people who run for office, often seeking power and prestige.

People selected in a lottery who agreed to serve would be people who didn’t really want the job, but agreed to do it temporarily.  These are both excellent qualities for office-holders.  When they finished their terms in office, they would be back living under the conditions they were creating.

You might think I am joking about this, but I am not.  There are so many things to recommend this system, and almost none that count against it.  What do you think?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Addicted to Projection?

What follows is from a sermon/article:

8 Ways to Help Your Congregation Fall in Love with the Bible

John D. Barry
Editor-in-Chief, Bible Study Magazine » Logos Bible Software »

3. Forget to Prepare a PowerPoint

Disconnecting from the Bible is easy when you don't have to open one. In our effort to be hip, we can distract people from the Bible with multimedia. When used poorly, PowerPoints can make the sermon feel like a show rather than a learning opportunity. I am not suggesting we stop using multimedia—I believe it is a powerful tool for keeping people's attention and illustrating points. But I do suggest you skip it for a week or two and crack open the Bible at your pulpit instead. The Bible will only be understood as a page turner if we turn its pages.

Imagine that instead of you reading the chosen passage for a week, you asked the congregation to read it aloud or to themselves. It may not work the first week, but people will certainly remember to bring their Bibles the next week. This is multi-sensory preaching—you are not just engaging their eyes and ears; you are engaging their sense of touch. When people physically explore the Bible using multiple senses, they continue to think about it when they leave, and they will probably pick it up again during the week.

Kent Comments:

This whole article is worth reading – this is just a small section.  Notice that this advice comes from a Bible software editor.  So you can’t complain that he is just some anti-technology dude.

This whole matter is related to the musical point I made in an earlier blog entry.  There is a clear and present danger that technology can grow out-of-control in the church assembly and change it into a show.

When everything is projected, as Barry points out, we can end up decreasing the number of senses people use in our church meetings.  He is quite right – there is great value in people thumbing around and through the printed pages of Bibles.

For people new to the church, it is like a guided tour through the scriptures.  On the way to a passage in Isaiah, people will pass other books of the Bible.  They might become curious.  On the way to find the little NT book of James, people might notice Hebrews.  And notice this:  a projected scripture text cannot be in context.  When people turn to a passage in a Bible, the whole context is available if they need to check it.

Some of the same can be said of always projecting words of songs onto a screen.  People never see musical notation at church meetings – just words.  They never see the notation for various parts, and thus there is not much help for harmony singing.  Just viewing the musical notation repeatedly, as happens when we look at traditional church song books, can help people begin to see how musical notation works.  We miss all that with the way most churches now use – perhaps overuse or misuse – projection technology.

I am not opposed to projecting material for sermons, singing, and so forth.  But it seems to have become an unwritten law in many congregations that everything, always, must be projected, in spite of the fact that there are these obvious problems with projection.  That law is stupid, and it ought to be repealed.

If your congregation thinks it just couldn’t live without its projector, perhaps it has a technology addiction problem.  It is one thing to use technology – it is another for technology to use us.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Of Orange Juice and Environmentalists

I recently purchased some very tasty orange juice, the kind that has never been frozen.  Being of modest means as I am, I would not normally buy that kind.  But last week at the grocery store it was marked down to 91 cents per half gallon.  On my orange juice box (and at the listed website) I found this little notice:

Give Rescue the Rainforest your best squeeze, what a wonderful feeling.

As I explored the website I found this:

Cool Earth is a UK based international organization that is working hard to rally everyone's efforts to halt climate change. By participating, you're helping us give Cool Earth the tools to protect the world's most endangered pieces of rainforest. Together we will preserve more rainforest and help stabilize our precious climate.

Visit the Cool Earth site to learn more.

So I visited the “Cool Earth” site to learn more, and I learned that their motto is “Keeping Carbon Where It Belongs.”  According to the Cool Earthers, carbon belongs in forests.

I must give this group credit.  Their immediate goal is to convince people to donate money to keep people away from ‘rain forests’ and thus ‘keep carbon where it belongs.’  I saw no mention on their website of lobbying governments to force people to do anything.  Unfortunately, the Cool Earthers are part of Guardian Environment Network which is clearly devoted to using the state to interfere with humans doing much of anything that would in any way change the world.

And so we have come to the point where all sorts of companies, like Tropicana, are using the ‘green’ movement as a marketing tool to the kind of muddle-minded people who would like governments to further and further restrict human activity in favor of ‘not changing the planet.’

One problem with all this is theological.  God made us to ‘subdue’ – which includes ‘using’ - the planet, and even other planets if that is feasible.

Other problems are technological.  Why should we think carbon belongs only in forests?  Why should we even worry about the ‘location’ of carbon when CO2 – a very tiny percentage of our atmosphere and only a small part of many ‘greenhouse’ gases – has been increasing in the last several years while the temperature of the planet is flat-lined?

We are rapidly approaching a situation in which those of us who simply want to live and use the earth in productive ways will have to engage in warfare with environmentalists.  If we surrender to them, we can expect to live miserably, or perhaps not at all.  They have their tentacles in many locations now, even orange juice containers.

Rather than just sit back while we slide back into the stone age, it is time to declare war openly on the environmentalists.  They have made themselves the enemies of civilization.  Civilization needs to fight back – soon and hard.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We Don’t Sing – And I Think I Know Why

We love music – can’t seem to get enough of it.  It’s with us everywhere we go – in the car, on hold on the phone, in the restaurant, underlying every TV script, in our CD players, and on our radios.  We love listening to music.  At least, we have given up trying to escape it.  What we don’t do much is sing.  In fact, singing with any degree of enjoyment, satisfaction, or overt delight is becoming more and more the practice of a select few.  Oh we may belt out a few bars in the shower, or sing along with a favorite oldie; and we participate (more or less) in the obligatory singing that comes with worship on Sundays.  But singing as an activity we enjoy, one that exercises our faith, draws us nearer to God, and puts the world on notice regarding our most basic life convictions – well, it simply isn’t much done.


Kent Comments:

It’s almost a case of both too much music and not enough music at the same time!  Why don’t we sing?

I confess that I do, often, perhaps too much now and then.  But this author cited above is right, and I have some ideas about why this is the case.

I noticed a correlation between church people singing and the advent of the ‘Christian music’ industry.  It appears that as the ‘Christian music’ industry grew, church singing has decreased.  At first glance you might think people listening to music more would make them want to sing more.  But it hasn’t worked out that way, and we probably shouldn’t be surprised.

Most of us are not nearly as good as those who produce the music of the ‘Christian music’ industry.  They are professionals.  We are just duffers in comparison.  Naturally, the more you listen to them, the more you realize that you sound bad in comparison.  Who wants to sound bad?

But its not just that the music of the Christian music industry exists and we listen to it.  The problem is exacerbated by the fact the the church has often abandoned its more traditional music for the music of the Christian music industry.  If we sing ‘Shall We Gather at the River’ or its kin, we don’t sound nearly as bad as when we try to sing the works of the Christian music industry.  Those works were written, in most cases, by and for the professionals.  We have heard the professionals perform them, and our church singing stinks by comparison.  So, naturally, we don’t want to hear ourselves sing that – we want to listen to our CD instead.

Another element that comes into play here is the ‘bandification’ of church music.  The more complex and ‘band-like’ accompaniment is at churches and the snazzier the ‘praise teams’ become at churches, the more likely we are to just listen and not sing.  After all, you don’t have to sing along at a concert to enjoy the music.  As church gatherings become more like concerts – something most churches seem to try to do lately – the congregation becomes less likely to sing, and more likely just to listen.

There are and have always been segments of Christendom that are ‘non-instrumental’ for theological reasons.  While I do not think these theological reasons are sound, the non-instrumentalists do gain one practical advantage over the rest of us:  they sing.

For obvious reasons, they have to!  It is nothing like a normal concert.  There is no instrumentation that can cover up the singing.

I visited a small non-instrumental church a couple of years ago.  They were just average people from all walks of life.  But their ability and desire to sing were astounding compared to much of my experience.  They actually devoted some church meetings to practicing singing as a congregation – imagine that!  But even though I was a one-time visitor, their music, while not simplistic by any means, was very sing-able, even the songs I had never heard before.

Many circumstances have compounded the tendency for Christians not to sing.  It would be a true service to God’s people to remedy those circumstances and restore singing.