Friday, December 31, 2010

Of Decades, Centuries, and Millennia

Tomorrow begins a new decade.  This means that the new century and millennium began on January 1, 2001.

Folklore has it that it began on January 1, 2000.  Folklore is very stubborn.

Since there was no year “0” the first year of the first A.D. millennium (only known looking back, of course – but as far as dates are concerned) was A.D. 1.  The first decade of the first millennium was thus A.D. 1 – A.D. 10 inclusive.

From that you can figure out the rest.

The wikepidea comment that “The 2000s was the previous decade that started on January 1, 2000 and ended on December 31, 2009” is wrong.  If that were the case, then the very first decade of the first A.D. millennium would have had only nine years.

Thus, tomorrow, a new decade begins.  In the grand scheme of things this probably doesn’t matter much.  But I thought something trivial might be good on the last day of the first decade of the first century of the third A.D. millennium.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Should We Execute Michael Vick?

from:  The Daily Caller

Tucker Carlson, editor in chief of The Daily Caller, is making headlines after offering his opinion Tuesday night that Michael Vick should have been executed after being convicted of torturing and killing dogs.

Carlson made the comments while hosting Hannity on the FOX News Channel. “Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did in a heartless and cruel way, and I think personally he should have been executed for that.”

Read more:

Kent comments:

It is wonderful to love your pets.  It is also wrong to torture animals.  But Tucker Carlson must be crazy.

Many, many people in the world today, especially Christians (and I think Carlson claims to be one) often need to take a deep breath and repeat to themselves, “Animals are animals, and people are people.”  While that bit of truism is almost unworthy of statement, many people need it just for emphasis.

Animals do not bear the image of God.  So even if someone killed all the dogs in the world, he would not be worthy of death, to use a Biblical phrase.  It would be a tragedy, but it would not be murder.  It could not, in terms of Christian theology, be murder.

Again, just because so many seem so easily to forget:  animals are not people.  Write that down and post it on your refrigerator.  Contemplate the ramifications of that statement as you reach for some leftover pot roast.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is Liberty


“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session. “ –Judge Gideon Tucker, 1866

Kent comments:

One does not have to be an anarchist to think this is generally the case.  This is especially so in our time and place.  There is so much ‘law’ that applies to us that it is impossible to begin to know it, let alone follow it – even if we so desired.  So when more law is made, it simply aggravates the now unavoidable problem of our necessary disregard for the law.  The mere practical problem of its sheer quantity makes this the case.

There is a principle of diminishing returns for law-making if the goal of law-making is the creation and maintenance of ordered liberty.  As the quantity of laws increase, the effect of law very quickly and necessarily moves from the protection of individual liberty to the destruction of individual liberty.  So when laws are being made, liberty is being decreased.

Unfortunately, the decrease of liberty is the stated goal of many today.  For these people, legislatures making laws is the best means to their ends.

Before he became somewhat nutty, Barry Goldwater said something about this that bears repeating:

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

  • The Conscience of A Conservative (1960), p. 1

Here’s what I’m wishing for this Christmas season:  more people who, loving liberty, think like this.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pro Jennifer

December 3, 2010

A Hard Case---Are FIRE and NAS Wrong about Jennifer Keeton?

By KC Johnson

Hard cases make bad law. Nowhere is that legal maxim clearer than the case of former Augusta State counseling student Jennifer Keeton, who was removed from the counseling program because of her rather extreme anti-gay views. A lower-court judge upheld the university's actions.FIRE and NAS have filed a powerful amicus brief, penned by Eugene Volokh, spelling out the potentially damaging---extremely damaging---effects if this decision is upheld. At the same time, however, the evidence presented in the case strongly suggests that Keeton doesn't belong as a counselor.

Kent comments:

This article comes from Minding the Campus.  I highly recommend this group for those who want to keep up with the campus climate around our country.  FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) is a group that is often desperately needed on campuses around the country.  So much for introductions.

If you continue reading the article (well worth your time) you will see that KC Johnson generally supports what FIRE is doing in this case, but hopes that the student in question, Jennifer Keeton, never becomes a counselor.  The heart of why Johnson thinks Keeton should never be a counselor is this:

Keeton . . . stated that she would put her religious beliefs ahead of her clients' well-being. She told one student that in any counseling session with a gay or lesbian client, she would tell her client that "their behavior is morally wrong, and then help the client 'change' that behavior." If the prospective client didn't go along, Keeton said she would recommend "conversion" therapy.

I fail to see why this should be considered a banishable offense, assuming ‘conversion therapy’ does not involve electric shock or its equivalent.  Just why is it that a homosexual client should be shielded from the very relevant moral information that homosexual behavior is wrong?  My best guess is that this is because so many people are now unwilling to admit that it is wrong.  But it is wrong, and it is not unreasonable to think that anyone who makes a habit of practicing a serious moral evil might not suffer from that practice.  And it is not unreasonable even to expect a good counselor to point that out somewhere along the way.

Jennifer Keeton’s religious beliefs are in fact not something that could be ‘put ahead’ of the well-being of her homosexual clients.  Her religious beliefs, when applied to her clients, would be in the best interests of her clients!

I an thankful that people like Jennifer Keeton are willing to become counselors.  I am thankful that groups like FIRE are around to help people like Jennifer.  But knowing what I do about universities, I am not surprised that Jennifer is being, in essence, persecuted by a university.  It just what they now, regretfully, do.  (Read more about Keeton’s case here.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What the Rabbi Said

What Christmas Can Teach Us about Being Jewish

Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz
Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jews don’t celebrate Christmas, but it feels like everyone else does. And this “December Dilemma” forces us, as Jews living in a Christian country, to confront some difficult questions.

Kent comments:

This article is not long – you should have a look.  It is filled with interesting things.  I am going to quote some of these and comment.

“I can remember my own children at a young age asking me, in their own words, ‘why did the Jews reject Christianity?’”

The rabbi’s only answer to this intriguing question is that, while at one time “many rabbinic thinkers considered the Christian Trinity to be idol worship” during the middle ages Jewish teachers “eventually accepted Christianity as a monotheistic religion.”

I wish the rabbi had said more about this.  Jesus was, after all, Jewish.  I think that, in the end, the answer why the Jews rejected Christianity is that they rejected Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah, the Son of God.  But the children’s question is a bit loaded.  Not all of “the Jews” rejected Christianity, just some.  The gospels make this very clear.  I’m very thankful that some of the Jews – for example, the Apostles – did NOT reject Christianity.

“December Dilemma is not just about theology. Jews at Christmas feel like an uninvited guest at a party, the man stuck outside in the cold pressing his face against the window.”

In fact, rabbi, you are very much invited to Christmas in its very best sense.  We would all love for you to come into the Christ house.  It’s what He wanted and wants.  You are “stuck” outside only in the sense that you refuse to come in.  Are you just a bit embarrassed to admit that you have been invited to this party for many years, but have always refused to show up?  If you decide to come in, you are most welcome.  Feel free to bring Hanukkah with you, if you wish.  It sounds like fun.

“This is what Christmas can teach us about being Jewish. During the holiday season, Jews can dedicate themselves to helping others . . .”

In the end, it is amazing how much this sounds like what a lot of Christian preachers say.  Does it seem like no one is listening to you?  Then go do some good deeds.

Good deeds are, by definition, good.  But they will never solve what are basically theological issues.  Good deeds are to be done precisely because theological issues have been settled.

“How will Jews maintain their identity in the face of a seductive and embracing culture? Ironically, a religious tradition that has heroically triumphed over persecution and oppression is finding it ever more difficult to overcome acceptance and tolerance.”

Is it not intriguing that the rabbi sees our culture as “seducing” Jews with Christianity?  Is he really talking about our culture?!?

After my initial shock at that idea, on further reflection I will admit that he could have a point.  Yes, our culture and its version of Christmas the cultural holiday is diluted by many to the point of being barely Christian at all.  But it is also the case that the culture in which we live bears the after-shocks, faint as they have perhaps now become, of that earth-quaking event that was the birth of Jesus the Christ.  I suppose one could be influenced by such an event and its consequences, no matter how distant they have become.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Digital Damnation?

from The New York Times

November 21, 2010

Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction


REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — On the eve of a pivotal academic year in Vishal Singh’s life, he faces a stark choice on his bedroom desk: book or computer?

By all rights, Vishal, a bright 17-year-old, should already have finished the book, Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle,” his summer reading assignment. But he has managed 43 pages in two months.

He typically favors Facebook, YouTube and making digital videos. That is the case this August afternoon. Bypassing Vonnegut, he clicks over to YouTube, meaning that tomorrow he will enter his senior year of high school hoping to see an improvement in his grades, but without having completed his only summer homework.

On YouTube, “you can get a whole story in six minutes,” he explains. “A book takes so long. I prefer the immediate gratification.”

Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention.

“Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing,” said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. And the effects could linger: “The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.”

Kent comments:

This article goes on to detail the problems created by immersion in the world of digital devices.  I am not stupid enough to think that we can somehow retreat from the digital world – especially as I sit here composing this at my computer keyboard, preparing to publish it on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter!  But Christians need to give some serious thought to this, both as individuals who might be raising families we hope will influence Children toward the Christian faith, and as congregations of believers who gather together to teach and admonish one another in the Christian faith.

First, consider how much less likely one is to understand the Christian faith if one develops a ‘digital attention span.’  Christianity is not simple, as much as pop theology likes to say it is.  It is very deep.  It involves concepts, and disciplines, that require careful, sustained attention.  If your attention span is only 3-5 minutes, while I won’t say you will never be a Christian, it is almost certain that you will never understand the Christian faith at a meaningful level.  Those who never swim deeply in the faith are very likely to be left ‘high and dry’ at some point in their lives.  If the digital world tends to wire brains in a way that inhibits the understanding of the Christian faith (and many other important things, for that matter) then we Christians had better be wary of its unbridled use.

Next, consider how the church has often approached technology – like the school principle mentioned later in the article referred to above, we pander to it.  We think we can get people’s attention by immersing the church (no pun intended) in the digital world.  The problem is that the digital world tends to destroy people’s attention.

I one time attended a small, new, thought-they-were-hip church with about 25 people in attendance.  Before the sermon, the (very young) minister announced that if you had questions about the sermon, you should text those questions to his number (which he announced) and after the sermon he would spend some time in response.  I kept wondering why he couldn’t just allow the people in that very small group to ask the questions aloud!  We are all here, face-to-face, but we can’t just talk?  (‘Hip’ sometimes seems to mean ‘just stupid.’)

We – meaning most church people – tend to assume that it is always better to project everything during our church meetings.  Why is it better?  Do we think it makes church things easier?  Why do we think such things should be easy?

We project the words to the songs we sing, but never the musical score.  Do we lose anything important when people at churches never see musical notation?  Do we even think about things like that, or do we simply allow technology to dictate what we do at church?

Can you really ‘tweet’ the gospel?  Should we want to, even if we could?

There is probably no end to these kinds of questions, but I think we should at least be asking some of them, some of the time.  We should not just assume digital is better, just because it is hot and hip – or so our culture tells us.

This doesn’t mean we should never use technology.  But it appears that technology is not ‘neutral’ in regard to what it does to messages we convey with it.  So perhaps it is like this:  automobiles are wonderful things, but that does not mean we should never walk anywhere, even places to which we could drive.  Sometimes the walk can be good for us.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rational Expectations

Yes, it’s Christmas time once again.  It’s the time when we turn our attention to . . . this year, government spending and tax rates.  (Bah, Humbug!)

Apart from all the political deal-making over all this, there are some are a few things everyone involved, and even those just thinking about it, should think about.  These are simple, unavoidable facts of the human condition.

First, if you want more of something, offer people money to do it or to keep doing it.  For example, if you want people to become or remain unemployed, pay them to do so.  If you do this, you can be sure to increase unemployment.  No matter how nice you think it is for the government to help people in this way, only the irrational (and I know there are plenty of those) will deny this.

For another example, if people agree to give the government more money, you must expect to get more government.  Perhaps you think that is a good thing, perhaps you think it is a bad thing, but don’t be so silly to expect otherwise.  As an aside, since government works by coercion, expect more coercion when you agree to give more money for government.

Here is another general principle in this regard:  if you want less of something, tax it.  (That is, penalize it fiscally.)  If you want less business, tax it more.  If you want more business, tax it less.  Whichever way you go, remember that business (in its most general sense) is the main place you get jobs.  So if you decide to tax business more, expect fewer employment opportunities for people.

Another example of this:  if you want people to have more income, tax income less.  If you want people to have less income, tax income more.  Obviously, if you take taxes out of income, it will be less by that amount.  But that is not what I am talking about here.  Far beyond that, if you tax income more, people will generally put out less effort to create income for themselves.  If you tax income less, people will be more fiscally motivated to create (in all sorts of ways) more income for themselves.

Now, this might seem obvious to most people, and it should be.  But keep this in mind when you hear politicians and pundits talking about government taxing and spending.  Don’t allow political talking heads to get away with (at least in your mind) statements like this:  “I am concerned about the rising unemployment rate, so I favor extending unemployment benefits.”  That is irrational.  If you truly favored less unemployment, you would not favor paying people to be unemployed.

Here is another “don’t let them get away with it” example:  “I am very concerned about our declining economy.  The government needs more money to deal with all the problems of a declining economy, so we need to tax businesses more to get that money.”  That, too, is irrational.  If you tax business activity more, expect less of it.

May all your expectations be rational!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Contentions

In one of the more annoying articles I have seen lately at Christianity Today, Ted Olson complains about the people he has seen insisting that everyone say, “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays.”  Ted is upset by those who are on the defensive in the “war on Christmas.”

If you think about the origin of the word, the secularists should object to “Happy Holidays” too, since a “holiday” was once a “holy day.”  But perhaps sometimes what you don’t know can’t bother you quite as much.

Ted refers to a bumper sticker which reads “Merry Christmas! An American Tradition” and remarks snidely, “I don't remember the American part of the Christmas story, but I haven't re-read Luke 2 yet this year.”  I suppose there are those who get a bit too feisty about this Christmas business.  But there is something American about Christmas, or better, something Christmas about America.  The first immigration group to these shores was mostly Protestant, and the second was Roman Catholic.  When Christmas first started becoming the big deal it is today, it is easy to see why a country populated by these two groups might have a natural affinity for such a “holy day” – yes, even if none of this is mentioned in Luke 2, Ted.

But Ted tries to get his main anti-Christmas warrior punch from a couple of Bible-related points.  The first is that Hanukkah celebrates the Jews fighting off the attempts of Antiochus IV to force Greek culture on the Jews.

The second in that Jesus, in an incident near “Hanukkah time” in His day, had a dispute with the Jews, but then “escaped” (really?) rather than “forcing the issue.”  This is supposed to teach us that “To insist that non-Christians say ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of ‘Happy Holidays’ runs against the lessons of both Hanukkah stories.”

Even if some of the “Christmas warriors” are a bit over-zealous, they sometimes make a good point.  That point is not to force anyone not so inclined to say “Merry Christmas.”  It is, rather, to remind those that make a point of avoiding the Christ of Christmas that, without Him, there is no background or reason to have a “holy day” or in modern terms, a holiday.

That is, of course, unless you are Jewish and you are celebrating Hanukkah.  But even that is still “religious” and it should still bother the secularists.

If nothing else, Christmas might just remind even the most hardened secularist that long ago, something very significant happened, the echoes of which cause people to celebrate.  Even when that cause is vague or distorted in some people’s minds, it is present.  Even through much distortion, it retains the power to delight or annoy based on who and what you are.  It is this power, I think, which can make this seem like a war.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Which is it?

find this comic strip here

 Mother Goose and Grimm for 11/14/2010

Kent asks:  “Aliens, or environmentalists?

Ancient Jewish Rabbis


A Christian liberal scholar with some big (conventional) ideas

Scholar lecturing Sunday on early church

November 14, 2010 6:11 AM


The Gazette

The Rev. Robin Meyers yearns for a return to early Christianity and predicts a revival of the faith. . . Meyers, senior pastor of Mayflower Congregation in Oklahoma City will be at First Congregational Church downtown today to give a free lecture during services and lead a workshop.  The lecture is titled “Jesus: Galilean Sage or Supernatural Savior?”  It’s the “or,” rather than an “and,” that causes some fuss.

Most Christians believe Jesus was both human and divine. But Meyers told me, “We have to demote Jesus, strip away the supernatural that got layered on by the church and culminated in the creeds.”  Meyers, 58, is a professor of philosophy at Oklahoma City University, and author of six books, most recently “Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus.”

Since the 19th century, scholars have discovered that other gospels existed in first-century Palestine besides the canonized books Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Meyers says that era was a combustible time in which competing groups formed allegiances around their favorite gospel.

But Meyers goes further than most scholars by drawing similarities between then and now. The period of the “early church was just as fragmented and contentious as today,” Meyers said. “Our theological debates haven’t brought the kingdom any closer.”

But there is a silver lining.  The early Christians overcame their divisions to embrace what they held in common, such as love of Jesus and helping the poor, Meyers said. “They had not commonality of beliefs but commonality of spirit.”  He says this is what Christianity can become.

Kent comments:

Nothing here is truly newsworthy.  The classical Liberal version of (something like) Christianity is on display here in microcosm, and it has been around a long time.  Jesus was just a man.  The church of the second century or later dreamed up ‘the Christ’ idea and imposed it on the simple, primitive Christian faith.  And if we would just stop debating theology, we could all be united, just ‘love Jesus’ and help the poor.

We could probably also sing that old Coke jingle, “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony . . .” while holding hands on some hilltop.

What I have always wondered about this classical Liberal version of (something like) Christianity is this:  what about some merely human Jewish guy from the first century is supposed to make me want to be a mellow fellow who helps the poor?  So some fellow named Joshua (or Jesus, pick you favorite) thought people should help the poor.  It would not be surprising that many first-century Jewish males were named Joshua, or that one of them liked the idea of helping the poor – so what?

And since, according to this kind of Liberalism, there were many competing and conflicting ‘gospels’, why should we think that the ‘help the poor’ parts are any more likely to be accurate than the other parts that Liberals always want to disregard?

What is a bit alarming is that it has become increasingly common among Christians and churches who do not overtly profess this versions of ‘Christianity’ to hear statements like this:  “Let’s not debate theology.  Let’s just love Jesus and help the poor.  Then we will all be united and all will be right with the world.”

Those who think Jesus was just a witty first century Jewish rabbi have no good reason to follow him.  There were other witty Jewish rabbis.  And as one of them said, “If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."  (1 Corinthians 15:32)

If the dead are not raised, then stop wasting your time talking about Christianity.  Go do something – anything – you want to do, and let ancient dead Jewish rabbis quietly inhabit the dustbin of history.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just Another ‘Dummy’

Bill Gates: Capitalism Has 'Systemic' Problems Government Should Address

Bill Gates says that the federal government’s job is to address the “systemic” problems of capitalism.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Nicholas Ballasy

( - The CEO and Chairman of Microsoft Bill Gates said that capitalism’s “systemic" problems are not doing enough for research and “the needs of the poorest.”

“In general, the world underfunds research because the person who takes the risk of doing the research doesn’t capture the full benefit of having done it; and so you know, capitalism does amazing things but it has one systemic problem in terms of research -- that it won’t do enough,” Gates said at the mHealth summit in Washington on Tuesday.

Capitalism "has another systemic problem in that the needs of the poorest will not be prioritized the way they would if you put a more human-values-driven system in. Now, of course we have government that comes in and does its best to take, you know, the beauties of capitalism, which work for so many things and is so fantastic and whenever it can be used, it is better than government.”

Kent comments:

Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent to Microsoft products, you have to admire Bill Gates as an inventor, developer, and businessman.  But his great success in these areas does not prove his competence anywhere else, as evidenced by his comments above.

I am going to talk about ‘the market’ here.  There is, among those who care, a substantial debate about the appropriateness of thinking of ‘the market’ as capitalism.  After all, ‘capitalism’ was the derisive name Marx applied to the free market.

There is also the problem of just how appropriate, and helpful for understanding, it is to think of ‘the free market’ as some kind of independent entity.  When I talk about ‘the free market’ I am talking about what happens when individuals are generally unhindered by outside forces (like governments, or other thugs) in their economic exchanges.  If you are clear on how I am using the terms, let’s consider what Mr. Gates says about capitalism.

‘The world’ does not ‘underfund’ anything, because ‘the world’ cannot fund anything.  Individuals with funds do all the funding in the world.  Now if people are free to use their funds as they desire (and this is a theological point because of the Eighth Commandment), then they will fund research just as much as they wish.  So when Mr. Gates says capitalism “won’t do enough” research, what he is really saying is that free people won’t do as much research as he thinks should be done.  But when he tries to make what he wants normative for everyone else, he reveals something of a tyrannical tendency.

Bill can fund just as much research as his billions will fund.  But he has no business, and certainly no moral right, to tell the rest of us how much research we should fund.  In fact, his whole comment here is just a bit idiotic.

Mr. Gates’ second comment seems to deteriorate into some kind of babble, but I think I can detect what he is trying – without much eloquence – to say.  “The needs of the poorest will not be prioritized the way they would” in a “more human-values-driven system.”  Mr. Gates is thinking in terms of ‘systems.’  Perhaps we should expect this from a computer guy.  But free people acting as they will economically is not a ‘system’ in this sense.

All the individuals in the world who work, buy, build, trade, and so forth are human beings.  One of the things they can and do decide to do is give of their resources to help the needy.  Since they are human beings, what they do is – of course – driven by ‘human values.’  Some value charity more than others.  But in a free market it has little to do with any ‘system’ .

A free market is free just because no economic values are imposed on anyone.  This is not a ‘system’ – it is an anti-system.  If Mr. Gates does not agree with the human values of the human beings who interact in the market, he would be free in a free market to try to convince people to adopt different, more charity-oriented values.

He could start by giving away more of his billions to the needy.  His foundation does some of this sort of thing.  Unfortunately, his foundation also gives grants to groups to help them get government funding.  This kind of funding necessarily comes at the expense of the market and at the expense of freedom.

Bill Gates might know a lot about operating systems for computers.  But when it comes to freedom, ‘capitalism’ and the market, he really needs to read one of those “For Dummies” books.

Saturday, November 6, 2010



News Edmonton

Thieves steal $3,600 from single mom, toddler

Last Updated: October 5, 2010 6:20pm

All it took was a few seconds for thieves to swipe a single mother's wallet from her Edmonton workplace and a few hours to empty her bank accounts.  "It feels violating. It really is scary," said Randi Pliska on Tuesday, a 28-year-old salesperson.

On Monday afternoon, Pliska said she was working at The Brick mattress shop downtown when two women came into the store. One distracted her, while the other swiped her wallet from behind the counter.

Two hours later, the thieves phoned, posing as bank officials, to notify her of "suspicious activity," she said.  They requested banking details, including her pin number, and her address. She unknowingly provided the information.  In half an hour, the culprits drained about $3,600 from her accounts, including a few hundred dollars from her toddler's savings account.

"They sounded legit. I wasn't thinking about it at all," said the Fort Saskatchewan resident. Pliska said she was saving cash for her son's first car and college.  "They stole from my three-year-old son. How sad is that?" she said.

Pliska said she reported the incident to police and the banks. She said the bank may not return the stolen cash because she provided her pin number to the crooks.

Kent comments:

There is both good news and bad news here.  First the bad news:  this poor lady can vote (and a host of other things only responsible adults should be allowed to do).

The good news:  she lives in Canada (which is only good news if you don’t live in Canada).

Moral to the story:  PIN numbers are supposed to be kept secret.  If you receive a random call from someone asking for yours, it would probably be better not to reveal them.  In fact, the very definition of “suspicious activity” is someone calling you to ask for your PIN number.

The story says Randi “unknowingly” provided the information.  There’s an understatement.  What Randi seems not to have known is that you should not broadcast your banking information!

Or, you could just post all your PIN numbers, and account numbers, on the internet.

Note to Randi:  someday, when your son is older and wonders what happened to his car money, please don’t tell him.  It might be embarrassing!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Phony ‘Pro-Lifers’ Punished

from Christianity Today

Pro-Life Democrats Ousted as Election Centers on the Economy
Anti-abortion groups spent millions against supporters of healthcare reform bill.

Paige Winfield Cunningham in Washington, D.C. | posted 11/03/2010 11:54AM

Abortion issues seemed left in the dust as economic concerns drove this year's election, but on Tuesday voters ousted several pro-life Democrats and ushered in fiscal conservatives who tend to oppose abortion.

As the names of defeated pro-life Democrats flashed across the screen Tuesday night, triumphant cheers erupted at Morton's Steakhouse, where staff and supporters of the Susan B. Anthony List (SBAL) had gathered to watch election returns.

SBAL, which works to elect pro-life women to office, typically supports pro-life members of both parties. But that largely changed this year after most pro-life Democrats voted for the federal healthcare bill that many abortion opponents say allows for federal funding of abortion.

Three of the four Democrats most heavily targeted by SBAL lost their seats, including Reps. Steve Driehaus (Ohio) and Kathy Dahlkemper (Penn.). Overall, 10 of 17 pro-life Democrats who voted for the healthcare bill were defeated on Tuesday, according to SBAL.

Kent comments:

The very premise of this report is faulty.  The “pro-life” Democrats who were “ousted” were not pro-life.  When push came to shove – which in this case means when pro-life came up against doing what the Obama political machine wanted – pro-life took a back seat.  (Personal note:  I was more than pleased to see my neighbors across the river dump that dupe of Obamaism, Steve Driehaus.)

It is too bad that Paige Cunningham, who wrote the article above, shirked reporting responsibility and hid in the phrase “the federal healthcare bill that many abortion opponents say allows for federal funding of abortion.”  Abortion opponents are not the only ones who think that.  In fact, it is already being done:

Maryland will join Pennsylvania as the second state to use federal tax dollars to pay for abortions under the new health care law signed by President Barack Obama in March, according to information released by Maryland’s State Health Insurance Plan.  (see the whole report here)

Some reporters bothered to look into the healthcare bill to see just how this could take place.  (Reporting that goes only to the level of what some group of person thinks or says is very shallow, and far too common today.  What some official says about some matter if fine as an introduction.  But real reporting would explore not just what someone thinks or says, but whether or not the thing said is true!  Is this kind of reporting a tacit bow to the idea that truth, even if it exists, is unknowable?)

So, if you were a pro-life voter, you naturally wanted to see these “sort-of-prolife-except-when-my-party-pushes-me” Democrats booted from Congress.

It would be wonderful if there were a significant contingent of pro-life-no-matter-what Democrats at the national level.  Unfortunately, it appears to be the case that the leadership of the Democrats does not truly welcome pro-life people.  It also appears that Democrat candidates at the national level are often pro-life, not from core principles, but because they are from constituencies where life is a significant concern.

As in the case of Driehaus of Ohio, the vote on Obamacare simply pointed out the real loyalty of some of these (former) members of Congress – and it was not with the protection of innocent life.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tired of this Claptrap


Christians Belong Outside the Tea Party
The tea party movement opens a discussion worth having, but Christians are called to care for the underprivileged.
David P. Gushee | posted 10/27/2010 10:36AM

But the tea party movement also has ugly weaknesses. I saw a new bumper sticker this week. It said, "Take Our Country Back: November 2010." It's hard to deny the evidence available from tea party events that much of the passion driving the movement flows from visceral opposition to President Obama.

"Birthers" (disproportionately represented among tea partiers), the nearly universal tea partier belief that Obama is a socialist and/or communist, and, yes, the occasional racially tinged incidents and comments, all signal disbelief that this country ever could have elected Obama.

President Obama is the Other. The symbolism of "Don't Tread on Me," the emphasis on gun rights, and the tea party's links to America's revolutionary days lend a frightening undertone to the movement, at least on its fringes.

To the extent that the tea party movement is simply a contemporary expression of low taxes, small government, and leave-me-alone libertarianism, it carries all the weaknesses of that libertarianism in terms of Christian social ethics. We Christians are called to care for the underprivileged, not leave them to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Kent comments:

The article above is from Christianity Today – I have posted only the conclusion.  Use the link to read it all.

My point here is not to attack or defend the “Tea Party” – which I have to keep reminding people is not a political party, even though the name makes you think it is.  My point is to comment on the claptrap that this Gushee fellow puts out in the name of Christianity.

First, why is opposition to President Obama necessarily a bad thing for a Christian.  In fact, what consistent Christian could endorse ten percent of what Obama has both done, and tried to do for (to) this nation so far?  What about the government owning General Motors – done under Obama – is not socialist?  It is this sort of thing that makes many wonder how this country could have elected Obama.  A black socialist is no better than a white socialist – both are equally deplorable.  (How’s that for “racial equality”?)

Second, as a political principle of sorts, what is wrong with “Don’t Tread on Me.”  Does Gushee not realize that, even in its original context it was calling people to defense, not aggression?  What is “frightening” about that, especially now when it is clearly being used by most Tea Party people in a political context.  What they are “threatening” to do is vote people out of office.  What about that necessarily conflicts with the Christian faith?

Third, let’s consider an “emphasis on guns rights.”  What about the Christian faith is in any way in conflict with the Second Amendment?  The Second Amendment simply describes a right (more accurately, two rights – one collective, and another individual) that shall not be infringed.  It does not require that anyone exercise this right.  It only requires that no one infringe upon this right.  What about that could possibly conflict with the Christian faith?

Finally, and this is probably the most important point here, when will these nitwit “spokesmen” for the Christian faith ever figure out the proper relationship between charity and government?  “Leave-me-alone libertarianism” is not a complete ethical system.  It is a view of what is appropriate for government.  One of the things people are left alone to do under this approach to government is to help those in need.

It approaches idiocy for Christians to say, as they so often do, that if you do not want government to “care for the poor” then you don’t want anyone to care for the poor.

Clearly, this Gushee fellow thinks that government, and only government, can “care for the underprivileged.”  But this is much more than just a debate about political systems.  It is theological to the core.

If you think only government can care for the “underprivileged” then you have a theologically dangerous view of the place of government.  You have put government in the place of God.

I think that is a form of idolatry.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Will Environmentalists Ever Become Extinct?

Global extinction crisis looms, new study says
Threatened species, but there's still hope
New scientific evidence suggests that a growing number of creatures could disappear from the earth. One-fifth of the vertebrates and as many as a third of all sharks and rays are now threatened with extinction.

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 27, 2010; 12:28 AM

A growing number of creatures could disappear from the earth, with one-fifth of all vertebrates and as many as a third of all sharks and rays now facing the threat of extinction, according to a new survey assessing nearly 26,000 species across the globe.
Kent comments:
The big, news-worthy reason why human beings cannot be allowed to thrive continues to morph.  First it was because we were causing global cooling.  Then came global warming.  With a lot of questionable science by questionable scientists, that one seemed to slip from the limelight a bit too much to suit the environmentalists.  So recently the reason-of-the-month was shifted to “climate change.”  It was a good way to hedge the environmentalist bet – any change could be pointed to with screams of “disaster – repent now!”
But it appears that a new contender for the reason-of-the-month as to why human beings cannot be allowed to thrive has hit the scene:  GLOBAL SPECIES EXTINCTION!
Peruse this Washington Post article, and you will find this general theme:  not enough of the earth’s environment is “protected” and therefore species will become extinct.  You might be wondering why this is such a big deal.  Haven’t there been untold species in the history of the earth that have become extinct?  Well, of course – but their extinction was not caused by HUMAN ACTIVITY! – which is, of course, evil.
So we need more of the earth to be protected.  Protected from what?  Human presence and activity, of course.  What kinds of human activity?  According to all the environmentalist human beings cited in the article, the worst things humans do are 1)  Exist:  we live and take up space where all these “endangered” species could be living, and 2)  Farming:  Human beings use too much of the earth to grow food.
Thus, according to the environmentalists, we apparently need to stop existing and thus growing food for ourselves.  According to this article:
Environmental groups are pushing for a goal of protecting 25 percent of all land on earth and 15 percent of the sea by 2020.
Allow me to translate:  environmentalists want 1/4 of the land of the earth off-limits to YOU.  (They would undoubtedly like much more than that off-limits to you, but they are willing to go slowly.  They would also like for you to keep away from some of the oceans.)
I think we should give environmentalists their own planet and let them “take care of it” in those ways they love so much.  Perhaps Mars would be a good choice.
But wait, by sending environmentalists there, we would violate one of their own key principles:  human beings must stay out!  So I’m not sure what to do with environmentalists.
Maybe we can hope they soon become extinct so human beings can go on “filling the earth” (I borrowed that phrase from God) without constant nagging from environmentalists.

Monday, October 25, 2010


If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him."  (Luke 17:3-4)

Kent comments:

There is – or so it seems to me – a long sermonic tradition about forgiveness.  This tradition goes something like this:  you must be forgiving, without condition, no matter what the circumstances.  In this tradition, forgiveness is entirely at the initiative of the one who is wronged, that is, the one who might be doing the forgiving.

If you have been around churches very much, you have surely heard such a sermon.  These sermons always raise questions that no one ever seems to answer.  For example, does the offender need to desire forgiveness?

It is a very noble-sounding tradition.  No matter how horrible the offense or how complete the un-repentance of the offender, God calls us to forgive.  The offended should simply do it, without regard to the offender.

As noble-sounding as this is, it does not appear to be Biblical.  The passage quoted above paints a somewhat different picture for the received sermonic tradition.  Jesus does lay down a requirement of forgiveness.  But notice that it is conditional:  if the offender repents.  Notice also that Jesus assumes that a “rebuke” might be required to trigger this repentance.

This does not mean that forgiveness is not important, or is easily accomplished.  But it is a very different picture of this matter than what is often presented in churches about it.

I know I am not the first to notice this.  But as much as it has been noticed, another notice does not seem out of order.  Perhaps with enough notices, we can change this sermonic tradition.

An Absent Congress Is the Best Congress

from Louis Navellier:

The Wall Street and Politics Link Extends

For more proof that the market and politics have a strong connection, here is an interesting statistic that shows how the performance of the stock market is affected by Congressional sessions. As the chart below shows, if over the last 100 years you had invested $1 every time Congress started a session and took your money out every time it recessed, you would have doubled your investment to $2. If you had done the opposite and invested $1 every time Congress recessed and sold when it reconvened, your $1 would have turned into $216!

Kent comments:

Why, oh why, do you suppose that this is the case?  Why would people who invest in businesses be more likely to do so when Congress is not in session?  We must ask ourselves:  why?

Can we conceive of anything that Congress would do that might look good to those who invest in business via the stock market?  Of course we can.  Congress could cut taxes.  Right now, Congress taxes corporations at a rate much higher than most of the rest of the world.  A moment’s reflection tells us that when Congress taxes a corporation, it is, in effect, taxing the shareholders of that corporation twice -  Congress takes some of the profits that might have gone to shareholders via that corporate tax, and then a second cut is taken when the shareholders receive a dividend.

So Congress could stop doing that, and things like that, by passing a law to that effect when it is in session (assuming the executive cooperates or his veto can be overridden).

Congress could also decrease the regulation of business.  It is very difficult to pursue some kinds of business in the U. S., and almost impossible to pursue others, just because of regulation.  The cost of complying with regulations drains potential profits from business.  Congress could decrease this dramatically, and this would make people much more willing to invest in businesses.

The problem is that Congress almost never does such things.  Taxes and regulations almost always increase.  Rare decreases are usually temporary – witness the so-call Bush tax cuts.  The trend of taxes and regulation on businesses has been generally upward for many decades now, and this makes people – quite rationally – less willing to invest in business.

Why does Congress do those things it does in this regard?  Here is a simple, partial answer:  because most people we elect to Congress do not see themselves as guardians of liberty.  They instead usually see themselves as collectors of power.  They see the state as the ultimate institution to provide for people, and to control people.  They seem to forget that any resources the state has it must take from those who produce things.  They forget that the more they control people, the less people will produce.  And the less people produce, the less government will have available to confiscate.

The members of Congress tends to forget that they ought to be guardians of liberty, including the liberty of people to work, plan, produce, buy, sell, and invest without fear of inhibiting taxation or regulation.  So they need to be reminded of this.  And when they ignore our reminders, they need to be sent home.

Many of them need to be sent home.  Don’t forget to tell them this next Tuesday, November 2nd.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Freedom and Happiness

[Facebook readers will read this more easily at:]

"The freedom and happiness of man...[are] the sole objects of all legitimate government."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1810

Kent comments:

I must disagree somewhat with Mr. Jefferson on this point - as though I have any kind of status to disagree with Jefferson!  But since he is not around to put me in my place, I will venture this anyway.

I understand that my theological perspective was not shared by Mr. Jefferson, and this is probably the root of our somewhat different conclusions here.  But it is very clear that the “sole object” of legitimate government according to the Bible is the execution of retributive justice.  That is, it is the purpose of legitimate government to punish those who do evil, especially those evils that are done to other human beings.

To put this another way, it is the object of legitimate government to make sure that “crime doesn’t pay” – or to be more precise, to make sure that those who commit crimes do pay for them.  This must, of course, be done justly.  That is, we must be careful that only those deserve to pay are forced to do so, and that they are forced to pay only in appropriate ways.

We have been prone recently to fail to require the appropriate payment for murder, which is the life of the murderer.  We have been committed for far too long to locking up those who commit property crimes rather than making them repay the victims via restitution.

We are also very prone of late to making crimes of peaceful human behavior that is not worthy of punishment.  In fact, we now have so much law, much of it created by bureaucrats rather than legislators, that it is impossible for a reasonably informed person to know if and when he is breaking the law.  Those caught in the web of unknowable law are not really criminals – they are victims.  (See a perfect example of this here.)

But the proper “sole object” of legitimate government is to punish only those who deserve it, and in ways in keeping with the goal of retribution.  When a government does this and only this, interesting and useful by-products will result.  For example, Mr. Jefferson’s “freedom and happiness” will tend to blossom and grow.

Freedom and happiness result from these two general conditions:  peaceful people know that those who attack them or rob them will be punished quickly and appropriately, AND, peaceful people are confident that government will not punish their peaceful pursuit of happiness.  But these are the by-products, not the object, of legitimate government.  It is possible that Mr. Jefferson and I differ only in the way we would state this – I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that our current governments are doing only a hit-and-miss job of retributive justice, and have completely failed at the job of leaving people unmolested in their pursuit of peaceful happiness.  And if Mr. Jefferson were here, I am quite certain he would agree.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Endowed by Their Creator

from The Foundry:

Monday night in Rockville, Md., President Barack Obama told Democratic Senate candidate donors: “As wonderful as the land is here in the United States, as much as we have been blessed by the bounty of this magnificent continent that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, what makes this place special is not something physical. It has to do with this idea that was started by 13 colonies that decided to throw off the yoke of an empire, and said, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that each of us are endowed with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’”

At first blush, that seems like a fine statement about what makes America exceptional. But look at President Obama’s “quote” from the Declaration of Independence again. Here is what the Declaration actually says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” If you think that President Obama’s abandonment of the Creator was an accident, think again. Monday was the third time in a little over a month that President Obama wrote the Creator out of one of our nation’s founding documents.

Kent comments:

When I first read this, I wondered why Obama would retain “created equal” if he is attempting to downplay “the Creator.”  Perhaps this is explained in part by the fact that the phrase “all men are created equal” has been used in a stand-alone fashion for so long that changing it to “all men are equal” would change the cadence of the line enough to stand out like a hangnail to most people.  But there is much more to the story than this.

The very thought of creation must be banished if the goals of Obama and his kin are to make headway.  This goes back a long way.  Consider what Woodrow Wilson said in regard to the view of government found in the Declaration and the Constitution:

The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton.

To Wilson – and Obama – government is not something that draws its ultimate justification from the Creator.  It is, rather, a “living thing” – but it is a living thing whose life is created, directed, and redirected by man.

For a long time there has been an almost maniacal reaction by the ‘progressive left’ to any serious consideration of the idea of the Creator.  Why has cosmology moved a long way from Newton, while biology clings closely to Darwin?  While many important reasons could be cited, one is that the whole social-political conception of society put forth by the ‘progressive left’ requires a foundation in Darwin.

So for now, “all men” can be considered “created equal” – but their rights cannot be “endowed by their Creator.”  If rights come from the Creator, then their might be limits on the moral permissibility of social engineering in all its forms.  And for the ‘progressive left’ this would never do.

P.S. – For one of the best an brightest men in the world (who usually reads a teleprompter, it seems) we have to wonder about this construction:  “each of us are endowed with certain inalienable rights.”  Since ‘each’ is singular, it requires the singular form of the verb ‘to be’ which is not ‘are’ but rather ‘is.’  Does no one edit the teleprompter material for B.H.O.? 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Incivility As A Cover

'Civility May Not Be Sexy'

Amid a call for civility, Christians trade political jabs.
Tobin Grant | posted 10/08/2010 10:39AM

Civility 'Key to our Political Salvation'

Sojourners president Jim Wallis thinks everyone—particularly Christians—need a more civil political engagement.

"Civility may not be sexy, but it is now key to our political salvation," said Wallis.

Wallis put his call for civility to the test when Fox News host Glenn Beck (once again) compared Wallis to a Nazi. Wallis responded by asking readers to petition the cable news channel to consider dropping Beck "for the sake of truth and civility."

Kent comments:

The point today is not to comment directly on the Beck-Wallis debate, as interesting as that is.  But there is an important sidebar to all this, and it’s something Wallis brings up above.

Christians very often call for this kind of ‘civility.’  To some extent, I can agree with that call.  But unfortunately, it is often misused.

Take Jim Wallis, just for an example.  Wallis apparently wants to rule out ahead of time any possible analogy between him and Nazis.  But why should Christians agree to that?

If anyone is simply calling Wallis a Nazi as a bad name, meant to preclude any response on Wallis’ part, then I agree that there is a lack of ‘civility’ involved.  There is, in fact, a lack of logic involved if that is all there is to it.  That is just an “argument against the person” and it is a logical fallacy.

But what if there are important similarities between (again, for example) Jim Wallis and some ideas held by Nazis?

Wallis gives every indication, from what he writes and says, that he is a strong supporter of some version of a welfare state/socialist system.  Nazis supported a very similar kind of system.  We can debate the details, such as national socialism versus international socialism.  We can consider how the motives for this support are different when we compare Wallis to Nazis.

But none of this changes the fact Wallis wants a system that is comparable in many important ways to the system put into place by the Nazis.  This comparison can rightly be made with no hint of incivility.  In fact, at some point one begins to suspect that the phony cry of “incivility” is an attempt on Wallis’ part to avoid the issue at hand.

Jim Wallis could, of course, make this comparison completely illegitimate – he could renounce socialism and statism in all forms.

But I don’t expect that to happen soon.  And until it does, the comparison is not uncivil – it is just the case.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Whose Got the Power?

Michelle Obama ranked world's most powerful woman

By Michelle NicholsWed Oct 6, 6:02 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – First lady Michelle Obama beat out heads of state, chief executives and celebrities to rank as the world's most powerful woman in Forbes magazine's annual listing on Wednesday.

Kent comments:

Here is a sure sign that the office of President is completely out-of-control.  If being the President’s wife makes you the “world’s most powerful woman” we are beyond out-of-control.  (I know the wives of Presidents have positioned themselves this way before.  M.O. is just our latest example.)

Power is a dangerous commodity.  Only one being is morally equipped to handle it properly:  God.  Humans should be very wary of it when it is found anywhere else.

Contagious Stupidity

Find this comic strip at:

 Non Sequitur 10/4/2010

Kent comments:

If I understand this correctly, the author of this strip is painting those who want to reduce the scope of government as stupid.  I very well could be misunderstanding it because, as someone who wants to reduce the scope of government, I must be, according to this strip, stupid.

I don’t think there are many true anarchists around most less-government groups these days.  I’m sure there are a few, but not many.  I am also certain that to those who want governments to do almost everything imaginable – which is many people these days – even modest reductions are viewed as near-anarchy.

But I would remind Wiley Miller (the author) that every time governments interfere with ordinary human decisions such as what to buy, where to buy it, who we can hire to work for us, how much we must pay them, how much schooling we decide to buy and how much to pay for it, what kind of house we live in, what kind of transportation we use – this list is almost endless – every time governments meddle in such matters, human freedom is reduced.

Government action can increase freedom.  When governments make it expensive to murder and steal, that has the effect of increasing human freedom.  When governments create stable legal rules and processes to help curb murder and theft, human freedom is increased.  In this kind of framework human beings can, and historically we see that they will, do all sorts of amazing things that will have the indirect effect of making life a little better for everyone.

But there always seem to be those who get the idea (and this is where the theory that stupidity is contagious really comes into play) that if government punishes those who murder, why not have it punish those who overeat, who eat “the wrong things” or especially those who sell “the wrong food”?  They get the idea that if government punishes theft, why not have it punish those who sell a car for “more than it is really worth”?

When these kinds of ideas are implemented, government moves from the role of freedom maintenance to the role of freedom destruction.  There is a distinct and qualitative difference between murdering your neighbor, and grilling him a hamburger he wants to eat, no matter how bad some might think hamburgers are for people.

If people are not free to make decisions some others may think are unwise, then freedom is destroyed.  When governments impose the views of some on such matters onto everyone, there is too much government.  It is very easy to have too much (and thus freedom-destroying) government.  It is very difficult to keep government working, but working within its proper bounds.

So those people with the signs in the comic strip above – even when they are a little rough around the edges, I’m glad they are there.  We need them to keep reminding us how easy it is to have too much government.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blow This Up

Perhaps you have seen it.  I had only heard about it until a friend sent me a link today.  I’m talking about the “How to Cut Carbon Emissions” video.  It is very gruesome, but here is the gist:  in several settings, those unwilling to cut carbon emissions are summarily blown up – with their guts and blood flying everywhere.

This is much more than just tasteless.  It is very honest.  Many environmentalists hate people – especially those who do not share their destructive goals.  Some of their spokesmen have made this very clear.  For examples:

“The ending of the human epoch on Earth,” writes philosopher Paul Taylor in Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics, “would most likely be greeted with a hearty ‘Good riddance!’”

In a glowing review of Bill McKibben's The End of Nature, biologist David M. Graber wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Human happiness (is) not as important as a wild and healthy planet...Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.”

Those are just a couple of my personal favorites.  The attitude that human suffering is not nearly as important as preserving a “pristine planet” is a key and widespread tenet of the environmentalist movement.  So it should surprise no one that those unwilling to “help solve climate change” would be pictured as being blown to smithereens.  As one commentator put it, “’No Pressure’ celebrates everybody who is actively tackling climate change... by blowing up those are aren't.”

Notice how it is no longer “global warming” but rather “climate change.”  This way, no matter how the climate changes, the environmentalists can prattle on about how we need to stop living in order to “save the planet.”  It’s the ultimate un-falsifiable thesis!

Long before there were enough humans to matter, the climate was changing.  If the environmentalists had their way and most humans were killed off, the climate would continue to change.

Another thing that needs to change is our attitude toward environmentalists.  If they don’t understand that humans can’t affect the climate, they are just stupid.  If they understand it and yet still try to use it to manipulate opinion, they are morally perverse.  Either way, they should simply have the courage of their convictions, kill themselves, and thereby “decrease the surplus population.”

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Company You Keep

Tomorrow, October 2, is the “One Nation Working Together” rally for Big Government to energize “progressive” voters for the upcoming election. Over 100,000 demonstrators are expected, thanks mostly to unions bussing in supporters.

Sponsors of the rally include National Education Association, AFSCME, National Council of La Raza, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign, Americans for Democratic Action, the NAACP, AFL-CIO, Democratic Socialists of America, the American Muslim Association of North America, Code Pink, National Center for Transgender Equality, Jim Wallis’ Sojourners, and the United Church of Christ, plus the Communist Party USA.

Kent comments:

Who your close friends are, the ones you share important values with, say a lot about you.  Not everything, of course.  I’ve had a few friends with whom I had very little in common in regard to ideology and ethics.

But when you have a several friends who are – oh, I don’t know – let’s say “scum bags” and if the nature of your association requires agreement in important matters, then that DOES say something about you.

So what should we think about, for example, the NEA?  Perhaps you should see how many of your children’s teachers (if you have children with teachers) are members of the NEA.

Then there is Jim Wallis and all his fellow-traveling Sojourners.  They are all good Christian people, I suppose.  It’s just that they like to hang out with Socialists, Communists, and Abortionists.  It’s probably not a big deal.

Then there is the United Church of Christ – you know, the President’s church.  He has been very busy lately telling us that he is a Christian, and why he is a Christian.  His church is all about transgendering, socializing, communizing, and aborting.

What a fellowship, what a joy is mine, leaning on the communistic arms!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Government – A Necessary Evil?

"Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer." --Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

Kent comments:

My acceptance of the Bible as the authoritative rule of faith prevents me from agreeing with Paine on this point.  The Bible is very clear that civil government, as a means of restraining evil, is not an intrinsic evil – not even a necessary evil.  As a means of restraining evil, government is ordained by God.

But I understand why people before and after Paine have had this thought.  We almost never see government in anything but its “worst state.”  Because of that, it is not difficult to see why some think it an evil, even if a necessary one.

Those who call themselves Christians have far too often been enablers of government in its worst state.  Those who call themselves Christians have often been vocal advocates of government doing things it was never intended to do:  supply people with whatever goods and services they need or even want.  These same Christians have also often been vocal opponents of government doing the one job God put it in place to do:  take retribution on those who have done evils, especially evils to their fellow human beings.

This is why I can sympathize with the thoughtful student of government who looks at what people, even Christian people, have tried to make of government, and then decides that government is a “necessary evil.”  Christian theology should have a lot to say about what government ought to – and ought not to – be.  But because “politics” is controversial, and so many Christians see the avoidance of controversy as a Christian virtue, practical Christian teaching never seems to impact political views in meaningful ways.

I’m talking here about the level of “what I hear at my church.”  Most of the people who dive headfirst into the “what the Christian faith should mean for politics” are wackos like Jim Wallis.  Among those who might have something truthful to contribute to this topic, the tendency is to limit our points to things like “we want prayer in schools” and “we want to post the Ten Commandments down at the courthouse.”

It’s not that those are necessarily horrible ideas, but they are superficial.  Notice that at your church you have probably never taken up topics like:  Should the government determine what happens in schools?  Is inflation evil?  Can government be ‘benevolent’ without doing evil?

That list could be continued.  I know that there is a lot of talk about faith and politics these days.  But most of it is either from socialist-leaning people who want the government to be their church, or from Christians who are afraid to be anything more than very general about this very important matter.

So it is little wonder – and much the faulty of Christendom - that many modern Thomas Paines see government as nothing more than a “necessary evil.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

‘Absorb’ this, Mr. President . . .

It is everywhere today:  Obama’s statement, “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger.”  It has been the subject of much comment, so I hope I am not repeating what someone else has already said.

I wonder if Mr. Obama’s idea of “absorbing” a terrorist attack includes his wife and two daughters – I just wonder.  My wild guess is that he would do whatever was necessary to make sure that they did not “absorb” any such attack.

Interesting, then, is it not, that he seems willing to let other people “absorb” such an attack?

On 9/11/01 the one hijacked plane that was brought down by the passengers was thought by many to be heading for the White House.  Should something like that come up again, and Obama’s family is not jetting around the world somewhere, perhaps the Obama family would be willing to help “absorb” a terrorist attack.

Like Mr. Obama, I would hope we would do everything we can to prevent such an attack.  But should Mr. Obama and his family happen to be required to “absorb” an attack, would we then be stronger?

I don’t mean to sound remote, uncaring, elitist, or in any way “better than you peons.”  I’m just wondering.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Slipping Toward the Pirahas


From a recent book review Leroy Lawson recounts the efforts of a young missionary who attempted to bring the gospel to the small Amazon Pirahas tribe :

He failed. He made no converts. In his second year his friend Kohoi explained the facts of life: “The Pirahas know that you left your family and your own land to come here and live with us. We know that you do this to tell us about Jesus. You want us to live like Americans. But the Pirahas do not want to live like Americans. We like to drink. We like more than one woman. We don’t want Jesus. But we like you. You can stay with us. But we don’t want to hear any more about Jesus. OK?”

. . . the Piraha language was a unique puzzle. It contains no numbers and has no fixed terms for color, no proper vocabulary for personal property, and uses only three vowels and seven consonants for men; three and six, respectively, for women. There is no word for sorry or for thanks. And none for God. Furthermore, the Piraha didn’t want their language in writing. Oral was good enough.

For more than 200 years the Pirahas had resisted the missionaries’ message, even though they liked the missionaries. They have no use for history and do not accept secondhand testimonies about anything a speaker has not personally seen. So a story about some messiah who lived a couple thousand years ago held no appeal for them. “The Pirahas were not in the market for a new worldview. And they could defend their own just fine.”

. . . “Truth to the Pirahas is catching a fish, rowing a canoe, laughing with your children, loving your brother, dying of malaria.”

Kent comments:

First of all, I think the missionary’s friend Kohoi does not understand many Americans very well if he thinks they do not like to drink, have more than one woman, and hear more about Jesus.

Perhaps the missionary failed to explain at least part of American culture to Kohoi, but I’m not sure he failed to bring the gospel to the Pirahas.  It appears, instead, that due in large part to their culture, the Pirahas are not interested in the gospel.

People like to prattle on about how it is not possible to evaluate cultures in any meaningful sense.  But it is not difficult to evaluate this one.  These people are “heathens” in a certain pejorative sense of that word.  They hold a set of arbitrary standards, and they don’t care to evaluate them.  Their standards cut them off from the gospel, and thus from salvation.

In other words, if you have made up your mind to think like Kohoi, you are going to hell in that proverbial hand basket.  And if your culture promotes that, it is a bad one.

The sobering fact is this:  for a long time now many have been hard at work trying to make our culture like that of the Pirahas.  Look down that list of things that these people think, do a tiny bit of translation, and see a version of 21st century America – from the lack of a sense of right to the “oral is good enough” attitude, we have much of this with us even now.

The “rest of the story” is that this missionary ended up being influenced by the Pirahas and he left the faith and his family.  That does not surprise me.  Americans are primed by our culture to be ready to become Pirahas.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Burn a Bible, Burn a Quran

Prelude:  I am not in favor of burning books.  I am surrounded by books, and I can seldom bring myself to give away the ones I no longer use, let alone burn any of them!  Also, I am a Christian and I know that Islam is a false religion.  That said, I would not burn the Quran for its supposed shock value.  That just seems uncivilized to me.

The main point:  Given the hysterics into which many high government officials have gone recently over some little Nowheresville ‘pastor’ who wants to burn the Quran on 9-11 this year, I have to ask what one pundit asked today, “If the Army can burn Bibles, why can’t civilians burn Qurans?”  Ben Witherington’s comments from last year when the Bible-burning story broke are very good.

According to a report from last year:

Central Command General Order No. 1 specifically forbids “proselytizing of any faith, religion or practice” and is to be strongly enforced in sectors which are predominantly Muslim, for fear such material distribution will be taken as an attempt on behalf of the U.S. to proselytize and convert the local people.

Here’s a little news flash for Hillary Clinton and all the other ‘high officials’ who are having a fit over the would-be Quran-burners:  We have this little thing (speaking of things labeled “1”) we call Amendment No. One to the U. S. Constitution.  It guarantees the right of political and religious expression, things like burning Qurans.  There are no stated exceptions for the stupidity of the expression involved.

Christians didn’t kill anyone or even think of doing so when the Army burned Bibles.  If Muslims murder because someone, somewhere, burns a Quran, perhaps that just says something about some Muslims versus all Christians.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor (Union) Day


from the Heritage Foundation: Labor Day Has Become Government Day

This Labor Day marks a milestone in the history of the U.S. union movement. It is the first Labor Day on which a majority of union members in United States work for the government.

Kent comments:

As the writer at Heritage goes on to point out, when unions were “organizing” primarily workers for private companies, they had a motive to want the private company to prosper.  (They should have, at least.  Sometimes they behaved otherwise.)

Now that most union workers work for government, they want the government to grow.  While that is not surprising, it is tragic – at least for those who love liberty.

Whenever and however government “grows” it necessarily does so at the expense of individual liberty.  If, for example, the state sales tax is increased to pay for the demands of government union workers, individual liberty is decreased.  What individuals would have decided to do with that money has now been trumped by what government officials have decided to do with that money.  And that necessarily means less liberty.

But in fact, labor unions have, for a long time, been all about limiting individual liberty.  They would not have to operate this way, but for a long time now they have.

If labor unions were simply groups of workers who would band together and refuse to work unless they were paid a certain wage or received certain other benefits, they would not limit liberty.  But unions have not worked that way for a long time.  They don’t like the possibility that people might decide to hire someone else.  That possibility has to exist if we enjoy liberty.  So early on unions enlisted the force of government to do all sorts of liberty-destroying things that would increase their power at the expense of liberty.

If the owners of companies are forced to negotiate with a union, liberty has been limited.  (Notice the word forced here.)  To put this in the most general terms possible:  if you cannot terminate your employment of anyone you might employ, you are the slave of the person you employ.  And unions have worked very hard to make sure this is the case.

All the typical union talk about “living wages” and “exploitation of workers” (the list of these phrases is long) really comes down to one question of ethics:  who has the moral right to interfere with agreements between those who want something done, and those whom they can persuade to do it for hire?  (The correct answer is:  nobody.)

Whether it is the large firm producing automobiles, the small family-owned chain of plumbing shops in a city, the small print shop with only one location, or the guy you hire to mow your yard – the moral question is unchanged, and the answer is the same.

It is horrible that unions are now primarily organized against taxpayers.  But unions went morally wrong long ago, the first time they enlisted the government to coerce anyone for their ends.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Christ, not doctrines?

found at:

The future of mainstream Christianity, she adds, may lie in the Emerging Church Movement — younger people who love Christ, seek mystery and ritual, not doctrines and creeds and consider themselves "spiritual, not religious."

Kent comments:

The “she” who made this statement is a retiring Episcopal priestess, i.e., female priest.  Her summary of the “emerging” church is concise and accurate, and is a nice place to begin to comment briefly on this matter of the “emerging” ones.

First, if you love Christ, you must necessarily love what he taught, which is, of course “doctrines.”  So you can say you love Christ all you want, but if you are not interested in his teaching, then you are really not all that interested in Him - sorry.

Also, if you are seeking “mystery” then you are not seeking the whole Christ package.  A mystery is something that is unknown.  Jesus Christ made important matters about God known.  This is called revelation.  Things revealed are no longer a mystery.

This doesn’t mean that Christians claim to know everything about God – far from it!  But it does mean that Christ wants us to focus on the things that are revealed, not the vague mysteries that are not.

In addition, while ritual can be empty, it does not need to be.  Ritual can be good, if it is ritual that is invested with meaning based on the things God has revealed about Himself.  But this brings us once again back to doctrines.

Finally, the contrast between “spiritual” and “religious” is so vague that it is almost meaningless.  For something to be truly spiritual, it must be connected to the normative Spirit, which is the Spirit of God.  How do we know if we are connected to the Spirit of God?  Only by consulting the things that God has revealed about Himself, which brings us once again back to doctrines.

There is no way to escape doctrines if you are interested in the Christ.  It is, after all, He who said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”