Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let All the Earth Keep Silence Before Him–at least sometime

 Zits for 1/25/2011

Kent comments:

This reminded me of a trend I have noticed at most (some? – at least the ones I observe) churches lately.  This is the tendency to use never-ending audio-visual stimulation.  In case you are not familiar, here is the typical scene:  as people arrive at the church building, music is playing over the sound system.  On the omnipresent large screen at the front of the auditorium, images are projected.  This continues until ‘live’ music begins, with words and visual effects projected on the big screen.  Many churches include a time when people greet one another with great commotion.  During the sermon, someone is talking (of course) and usually images are being projected on that omnipresent screen.  Even during the time of communion, music (live or canned) is played in the background.  Even “silent prayer” seems to be rare these days.

It might sound a bit far-fetched now, but if artificial olfactory and tactile stimulation were affordable, I suppose some congregations would never turn those off.  Wouldn’t it be better if every suggestion of smell during singing, preaching, or anything else were wafted across the auditorium of the church?  Wouldn’t it be exciting if the seats vibrated when images of motion were suggested by anything being said?

There is nothing inherently wrong with any of this.  But it does reflect our culture’s dread of silence.  Perhaps this an area where the church should intentionally go against the grain of our culture.  While not to be pushed to any extreme, perhaps there is a place to practice a bit of Hab. 2:20 when the church meets – at least a little bit, some of the time.  (And should the time ever come, this would include the artificial smells and shaking seats, too!)

I have heard preachers talk about the need to “turn off all your digital devices” and focus your attention on God.  But why would anyone do this at home when church leaders never turn off the digital devices when the church meets?

One of the practical problems with the never-ending-audio/visual-stimulation approach is that, in the presence of unending noise and images, people very naturally begin to tune them out.  In the end, our imagined need never to shut off our technological toys means that many people just stop paying attention.

Also, feeding our culturally-created desire for constant audio-visual stimulation is something like supplying an addict more dope.  Again, I am not suggesting that we never use media in church meetings.  I am strongly suggesting that we need to very carefully measure our use of media, and think about why we use it when we do, and to what end.  The mere fact that we have an expensive projection system in place is no reason never to turn it off.

It is amazing how quickly and how easily the church is sucked into the vortex of culture.  We never seem to stop and make ourselves aware.  Of course, how could we?  The screen is always on, and the amplified sounds never end.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Not All That Difficult to Understand

 Baby Blues for 1/24/2011

Here you have the problem of run-away government spending in one,easy lesson!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What the Governor Said

The Governor of Alabama is trouble for saying, while speaking at his church:

"Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their (sic) savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."

This has created a firestorm of criticism from many quarters.  Biblically speaking (which is, of course, always the best way to speak) the thought expressed by the Governor is accurate.  Anyone who understands the historic Christian faith would not be shocked by this in the least.  Those who are “in Christ” share a spiritual, familial relationship that is not even possible with those outside the body of Christ.

This has never meant that those in Christ had some kind of low view of those outside Christ.  Notice how the Governor even expresses his desire for all to come to Christ, and become, in this unique sense, his “brother.”  There is nothing shocking here, at least for those who have even a clue about the Christian faith.

But we need to remember that the modern version of Christianity, which is the version most people in our society come into contact with, has a very different approach to this matter.  In the early twentieth century this was expressed as “the Fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of man.”  (As you can clearly see, they were still sexists back then.)

Notice where the “brotherhood” is located in this view:  all of human kind.  (See how inclusive I can be?)  Of course, there followed a string of stupid comments from various “religious” people about what the Governor said.  For example:

The president of the national Interfaith Alliance, the Rev. Welton Gaddy, said Bentley "went too far."

"I thought that with his statement he created two classes of citizens in Alabama, those that were his brothers and sisters in Christ and everyone else. As an elected official, he has the responsibility to serve all the people and treat all the people equally," Gaddy said.

So, according to the Rev. Welton Gaddy (that name has an amusing ring for reasons I cannot specify, though that is not relevant here), a Governor cannot speak at his church in language that accurately reflects his faith.  He was clearly not speaking about “classes of citizens in Alabama” but rather, classes of human beings in the spiritual categories of God.

What about being a spiritual “brother” only to others who are in Christ has any implication for how you will act as Governor?  Doesn’t Welton Gaddy realize that being elected Governor of Alabama does not change the teaching of the Christian faith?  Where did Welton Gaddy get his “Rev.” license, anyway?

The Governor offered a somewhat unfortunate apology for his statement:

"If anyone from other religions felt disenfranchised by the language, I want to say I am sorry. I am sorry if I offended anyone in any way," he told reporters Wednesday after meeting with leaders of other faiths in his new office.

So the Governor thinks people from other religions might “feel” that they have lost the right to vote (disenfranchised) by this statement?  Surely the Governor meant something other than what this word denotes!

The Governor should not have apologized.  He said nothing wrong.  It is high time for our weenified, politically correct, please-don’t-hurt-my-feelings” society that claims to be tolerant and inclusive make at least a little room for people – even people elected to office – who openly state their Christian faith.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Never Works As Advertised


"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." --Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment, quoted by Thomas Jefferson in Commonplace Book

Kent comments:

In light of all the hubbub regarding the recent shootings in Arizona, we do well to remind ourselves of Mr. Jefferson’s sentiments.  What Beccaria says, and Jefferson repeats, is not just abstract theory.  As portrayed in the sign above, weapons are prohibited at most universities.  Yet, this does not stop shootings at schools – witness the tragedy at Virginia Tech in 2007 and Columbine High School massacre in 1999.

Statists constantly repeat the idea that gun control will prevent gun crimes – in the face of reason and evidence – as though repeating something often enough will make it true.  This reminds me of many non-Christian religions and the “vain repetition” (as Jesus said) of certain words and phrases as though they are magic.

If you want to prohibit guns by law, all reason and evidence prove that your motive cannot honestly be safety and security.  You have other motives and goals, even if unspoken.

Friday, January 7, 2011

How Queer of Them

As the new semester begins:

NKY Equality Now and Staff, Administration and Faculty for Equality training session Jan. 24
NKY Equality Now and Staff, Administration & Faculty for Equality will offer a training program for staff, administration, faculty and student leaders who would like to be a part of a public support system for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students at NKU on Monday, Jan. 24, at 12:30 p.m. in Student Union 108.

Kent comments:

Perhaps you thought “queer” was a slur.  Now you know better.  It apparently now is part of the official, politically correct nomenclature at universities.

But why do all these very ‘interesting’ categories of people need special ‘public support’?  What about the heterosexuals obsessed with sex?  What about those who simply are not all that interested with sex?  What about those who practice polygamy?  Don’t they get any ‘public support’?

What about those who practice bestiality?  Now there is a group that is truly misunderstood.  Many people, maybe even some of those who receive ‘public support’ from a ‘system’ at universities, probably think that those who practice bestiality are weird, immoral, and generally disgusting.

But that’s what prejudice and sexual phobias can do to people.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Undo What You Have Done

This week the Senate will take up the matter of changing its rules to eliminate the ‘filibuster.’  Much will be said about the details of this, so we will not review all that here.

At the ‘talking head’ level of politics, there is often a cry for government to be ‘more efficient’ and ‘more like a business.’  People, it is said, want government to be able to ‘get things done.’  Filibusters, it is said, inhibit the ability of government to get things done.

But the great problem with modern government is that it does far too much.  It is therefore rather idiotic to want it to “get things done” unless you are an enemy of liberty.

There is, perhaps, one category of things we should want government to ‘get done’ and that is the repeal of laws, most of which are crippling obstacles to liberty.  But this is much more accurately seen, not as ‘doing’, but as ‘undoing.’

We don’t need more government doing – we need much more undoing.  Filibusters – and any other mechanism that inhibits the ‘doing’ of government – should be welcomed by those who love liberty.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mister, We Could Use a Man Like Calvin Coolidge Again!

In a recent piece from the Mises Institute I was reminded of something once said by one of my favorite presidents, Calvin Coolidge:

"If the federal government were to go out of existence the common run of people would not detect the difference."

BTW, if you want to see “silent Cal” giving a little speech, check this out.  How ‘unslick’ Coolidge seems.  But slickness is entirely beside the point when, like Coolidge, you are not even attempting to ‘transform society’ with half-truths, as is so often the case today.

But back to the words from Coolidge above.  He was quite right in the context of the 1920s.  But as the article points out, Coolidge came close on the heals of the first Roosevelt and Wilson, both of whom were bent on making the ‘federal government’ very much a part of the lives of ‘the common run of people.’  After Coolidge, the second Roosevelt was handed a ‘crisis’ that was used to slip the long arm of the feds even further into everyday life.  That trend has had little letup since then.

So today, for most people, a situation described by ‘silent Cal’ seems almost unimaginable.  That, of course, was exactly what the Roosevelts, Wilson, and their followers were trying to do.  You must give them credit, they did it quite well.

If you think the government of Silent Cal is at all desirable, you have to imagine, and help others imagine, what life could be like without the central government directing almost every aspect of the lives of us ‘common run of people.’  If you watch Coolidge’s little speech linked above and you can listen past his Barney Fife-like delivery, he will help you think about what it was like when the ‘feds’ did almost nothing directly to ‘the common run of people.’

As he says there, ‘economy of government’ (which means government spends less because it does less) means people do not have to pay as much for government.  This in turn means that they can keep more of what they earn, to make their lives more of what they want them (as opposed to what government wants them) to be.

And this, Silent Cal says, is the essence of freedom.  Apparently, Coolidge was the last President to write most of his own speeches.  He wasn’t much for delivery, but what he said was golden.