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!