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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For June 20, 2018

June 18

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost which blames today’s social anxiety on subjectivism and narcissism. In this article,  Clark also mentions some of the earthly causes of anxiety as meriting some attention, but not much. This appeared in Heidelblog

What is unfortunate here is the projection of merited guilt on others. For it seems that, according to Clark, a clear, realistic view of America involves an overall positive view of our nation rather than a negative one. And the problem for Clark is that history doesn't support his optimism.

We could start at the very beginning with a new nation that was based on a Christian-oriented white supremacy. But because our nation's founding fathers are often regarded by conservatives as being the secular equivalent of the Apostles, there is too much dissonance for many of us to understand how the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans from the land or the practice of slavery before the Civil War and Jim Crow laws and culture afterwards point to our nation being based on racism. And what is odd is that the struggle for Civil Rights was not worthy of being mentioned when Clark described some of the sources of anxiety in our nation in the 1960s.

Likewise, the protests against the Vietnam War were described as 'riots' by Clark even though the war itself saw America become responsible for the slaughter of 2-3 million Vietnam civilians. And that the whole mess could have been avoided if America had abided by the Geneva Accords that called for the decision to reunite the nation to be determined democratically.

Of course, there were other 'look what we've done' moments in the latter part of the 20th century.  For the U.S. replaced a number of left-leaning democratically elected leaders and governments with handpicked brutal dictators. And that doesn't count the dictators we supported without using them to replace democracies.

Today, we still face the threat of nuclear annihilation. And though such destruction may not come our way by the hands of the Russians, technology makes the proliferation of WMDs inevitable. And so for as long as we depend on the rule of force, perhaps logic is telling us that, like 9/11, the use of such force on us is also inevitable. And such would be a legitimate source of anxiety.

Or perhaps despite the claims of the reduction of abject poverty being reduced,  other levels of poverty have not been reduced and wealth disparity within and between some nations continues to grow. And with more and more jobs being seen as disposable to either offshoring or automation, people have a legitimate reason for worry.

Of course, economics isn't our other biggest worry. The environment is--though no one could tell by Clark's article.
What is positive for Clark is that he grew up in a happy environment where he was sheltered from many of the hardships of life faced by others and we should celebrate that. I too grew up in a sheltered environment. But that positive regard for when and how he grew up has unfortunately caused him to conflate some of Americana with Christianity. And that is unfortunate especially when those who do not share Clark's sheltered background read his words and associate Christianity with the other side of America which Clark sees as only being a result of Narcissism and subjectivism. And here we might ask Clark if he too is a student of subjectivism since he so easily filters out what has been morally wrong about America according to the Scriptures.


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June 19

To Antonin Dvořák and his cantata about the American Flag written in 1892-1893. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

And yet, the nation, which flew the flag about which Dvořák wrote, did not give freedom to Blacks, Native Americans, and women. And to a significant extent, it still doesn't. This tells us that we need to be careful about the ideals we associate with our nation. For when those ideals are not lived out by our nation, those ideals become delusional expressions of self-worship more than a description of facts.






Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Perhaps We Need A Return To The 1960s

Ever since 9/11, authoritarianism has been king.  It certainly has been king for those who wish to attack western civilian targets. Most conservative versions of religions lean heavily toward authoritarianism and that even includes Christianity. As for the West, no, it wasn't acting as an adult king in terms of being as authoritarian as it could be. But that authoritarianism is growing. And now, it is starting to show signs that it could, in the near future, exercise the same degree of authoritarianism that we associate with kings and kingdoms.

Our problem with authoritarianism in the U.S. started with George W. Bush's response to 9/11 including his Patriot Act. Then, authoritarianism had a kindlier and gentler facade under Obama but it was still evident. After all, it was Obama who tried to fast-track the TPP, who greatly expanded America's use of drones, and, despite his rhetoric, it was under Obama that the Occupy encampments were dismantled while Wall Street execs escaped accountability for the fraud they practiced.

But authoritarianism has been spiking sharply in the U.S. under the tutelage of President Trump. For it is Trump himself who speaks almost reverently about dictators from other nations while using slander in an effort to discredit his critics from the "failing" New York Times to individuals, like Meryl Streep who took him to task for bullying. And while conservatives complained, and rightly so, about Obama's use of executive orders, Obama's use of executive orders pales in comparison to Trump's use of the same as well as Trump's policies that favor our nation's financial elites.

Further evidence of Trump's authoritarianism is seen in the zero-tolerance immigration policies being implemented by his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. And what is the defense Trump's White House staff and his Attorney General give for the taking away of around 2,000 children from their parents who themselves are being federally prosecuted for attempting to illegally enter the country? It is an appeal to Romans 13 on how we are commanded to obey the rulers of a given nation.


Though Romans 13 provides some important instructions on how we should respond to our rulers and the laws they've passed, this passage from the Scriptures is used to imply that we must always obey the government despite our nation's history of enacting immoral and unjust laws. For example, both slavery and Jim Crow laws were once legal in this nation and those who resisted them were counted as illegal people. So should people have resisted those laws?

Our nation has already seen at least a partial remedy to runaway authoritarianism. It was called the 1960s. And though that decade was not without serious faults and sins, it did contain the only answers to today's authoritarianism. The cures it contained were that it asked us to both think for ourselves rather than just follow what we were told and persistently protest against what was wrong. Perhaps the 1960s, with all of its turmoil and problems, was the most democratic decade in American history. And being democratic is the problem that authoritarians have with the 1960s. For authoritarians don't want to be questioned; they prefer to be blindly followed and admired.

Yes, we need to avoid the sins of the 1960s while trying to apply what was practiced then today. But the greatest sin we could commit is to refuse to both question authority and be seen and heard. And that is especially true when those with authority are visiting  all sorts of hardships and abuses on both our living generations of today and on those to come.







 

Monday, June 18, 2018

ONIM For June 18, 2018

10 Best Fact Checking Sites Found Here.

If you are not sure about the validity of a news story linked to below, you can use  mediabiasfactcheck.com to check out the credibility of the source of most of the stories linked to here.


Christian News


World News


Israel-Palestine News


Donald Trump News


Pick(s) Of The Litter


Just For Fun





Friday, June 15, 2018

Why Does The Masterpiece Cake Case Make Christians Look Bad?

James Coffin, a member of the Christian clergy, tried to answer the question posed in the title of this article (click here for his article). And though his article posed an excellent observation, he zeroes in on the wrong set of factors to support his observation.

For Coffin focused on in his article was the usual religious rules and judgmentalism that is rightly attributed to religiously conservative Christians. That is what Coffin lamented over his past self in how he would treat and view others. And though judgmentalism should never have a place in Christianity, the following of some religious rules is necessary to living out the Christian faith.

So while Coffin makes a sincere effort to show why the Masterpiece Cake case can't help the Christian cause regardless of the what the judges find, I believe Coffin misses the main reasons here.

To show why the Masterpiece Cake case hurts the credibility of religiously conservative Christians, we must first cite, and then modify, an old religious saying that said the following: 'One is too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.' We start with that statement, but we have to modify it because it does not tell us why the Masterpiece Cake case hurts the Christian cause. The necessary modification of the old saying is stated below.

One is too inwardly directed to have any outward awareness.

The problem with the refusal by Masterpiece's owner, Jack Phillips, to custom design a wedding cake for  same-sex wedding is more about the owner's concern with whether his artistic talents are being used to help celebrate what he thinks is sin than how his decision affects others. In other words, the real problem for Christians doesn't have to do with anything else than with our lack of awareness for how others experience our decisions. For how others experience our decisions to not to provide goods and services in a business setting for the LGBT community as we would the heterosexual community is that of being picked on and discriminated against. And in a Post Modern world, those who are being discriminated against are not the only ones to perceive the apparent injustices that are going on. For Post Modernism has made us aware and sensitive to marginalization of certain groups as well vigilant against against other groups.

Thus, those who attempt to marginalize others and/or seize some degree of control over society have already set off the alarms in many people's minds. And those alarms cause our current Post Modern generations to throw out the baby outwith the bathwater. For, according to Post Modernism, if a premise can be misused to abuse others, the premise must be false. So if the belief that homosexuality is contrary to the Scriptures causes some Christians to try to marginalize the LGBT community, then, according to Post Modernism, the premise must be false. Such is an unfortunate conclusion.
 
Now because these Christians who are attempting to remarginalize the LGBT community are too preoccupied with the public stand they are taking and preserving their own purity, they fail to notice how others are reacting to them. But not only that, many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians lack any awareness of how those in the LGBT community have suffered from past marginalization. And why do these Christians lack awareness of how some have suffered and how others perceive them? It is because these Christians are too preoccupied with proving themselves to themselves.

The overt inward directedness displayed by many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians disables them from seeing life as how others see it. That is because the stronger one's inward directedness, the weaker one's vision of the world becomes. And the weaker one's vision of the world becomes, the less they can understand about how the world is responding.



 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Comments WHich Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For June 13, 2018

June 12

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost that quotes Judge Thomas’s warning that the Obergefell decision would infringe on the religious liberty of many Christians. This appeared in the Heidelblog.

We need to ask, when it comes to court decisions about same-sex marriage and religious liberty, the religious liberty to do what? Is it the religious liberty to support discrimination and bigotry? Is it religions liberty to marginalize a group of people because of their sexual orientation?
In the past, the discrimination practiced during Jim Crow was defended, in part, by an appeal to religious liberty.  Christians gave biblical reasons why Jim Crow segregation should be the law of the land. And thus dismantling those laws and that culture infringed on the religious liberty of those whose faith included white supremacy. And dissent against that segregation was sometimes harshly dealt with.

What many of us religiously conservative Christians don't see about ourselves when we agree with Justice Thomas's warning about the Obergefell case is how self-absorbed we have become. We don't see the trials and hardships we have put upon others in the name of our religious liberty. We don't see what others have suffered because of the past exercise of our religious liberty. And the scope of consequences which Thomas assigns to the Obergefell decision greatly exaggerates the significance of the Christian position in the case. And all of that shows our self-absorption.

In addition, we don't see how we have confused religious liberty with religious privilege. That liberty - equality = privilege. And so when we don't support the same rights for others which we enjoy, we are not advancing religious liberty; instead, we are advancing a faith-based privilege status for ourselves. And then we  wonder why we are criticized.


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To Joe Carter and his blogpost that contain 20 quotes from Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard address. This appeared in the Acton blog.

Conservative ideologues love to quote Solzhenitsyn as conservative Catholics use to like the quote the Pope: as an infallible source of truth. Why? Perhaps it is because Solzhenitsyn's criticisms against America, and also against Socialism, affirm their own suspicions that the problems with America are because of the contributions of everyone else but themselves. That's not to say that Solzhenitsyn has no legitimate contributions to make. Rather, it is to say that we must not imitate the all too eager acceptance of Solzhenitzyn's every word because Solzhenitsyn was simply a person whose understanding of things is subject to the context of his life experiences.

Three of the main ideas of Solzhenitsyn's remarks, either from what was quoted above or he actual speech, from which the above quotes come, he gave at Harvard (see http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/SolzhenitsynHarvard.php ) involve materialism's corrupting influence, our misuse of our freedoms, and the losing of our religious heritage. And yet, in all of his speech, Solzhenitsyn seems to lack the awareness of the fact that much of our nation's corruption to do with the ideologies and systems we have embraced rather than having made compromises with outside influences. And that is especially true with our religious heritage. For much of our religious heritage has been about privilege for both whites over Native Americans and Blacks, men over women, as well as the privilege that the American Church has held over society for most of our history and how the use of that privilege has supported a rigid legalistic mindset rather than a fair minded one.
As for our nation's materialism, much of that has to do with our Church supported Capitalist economic system. Here, we might do well to consider Martin Luther King Jr.'s observations about Capitalism to see if they make sense (see http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/ows/seminars/aahistory/Pilgrimage.pdf ):

Marx had revealed the danger of the profit motive as the sole basis of an economic system: capitalism is always in danger of inspiring men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life.. We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity—thus capitalism can lead to a practical materialism that is as pernicious as the materialism taught by communism.

And since many of the problems that Solzhenitsyn saw with our misuse of freedoms stem from a Capitalism inspired materialism  and its emphasis on the profit motive, we might find that America's problems have something in common with the Soviet Union's problems. What they share is that they
are both due to 'system failure' even though the two nations employed different systems.

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To Joseph Pearce and his blogpost on being on the right side of history and how progressives and alike are intolerant and believe that nothing can be learned from the past. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative Blog.

The above serves as an all-or-nothing polemic against non-conservatives. And in being all-or-nothing, very few details need to be reported for Pearce to make his point. For example, Pearce only needs to report that Marxist revolutionaries overthrew governments and installed their own tyrannies. What he didn't need to mention were the vast number of corrupt dictatorships opportunistically supported by the West which were targets of these revolutions. What he doesn't need to report is that much of the post revolutionary tyranny was at least a partial result of the pre-revolutionary tyranny.

What Pearce reported was the intolerance of progressives and other non-conservatives. What he didn't need to mention were the atrocities that were the targets of progressive intolerance. After all, America was found white supremacy. That people finally showed a spotlight on that white supremacy and the atrocities committed in its name is seen by conservatives as progressive intolerance. The same applies when progressives and others battle against conservative efforts to marginalize the LGBT community.

And while Pearce makes a point that non-conservatives toss out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to learning from the past, he doesn't account for the fact that Karl Marx intensely studied Adam Smith. He doesn't account for the fact that Rosa Luxemburg implored socialists to examine their own faults. That Luxemburg also called on Christians in Russia to join the Socialist cause. Marx himself said that the abolition of religion doesn't eliminate religion, but presupposes it. His concern was that everyone would have an equal place in the state rather than those from a particular religious group enjoying a privileged position.

The kind of character assassination employed by Pearce is a more civil way of burning books. For what Pearce wants his audience to believe is that conservatives, especially religiously conservative Christians, have everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them. The biblical parallel to people with that attitude is the pharisee from Jesus's parable of the two men praying (see Luke 18:9-14, see  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+18%3A9-14&version=NASB). With overgeneralizations and negligence in reporting  counterexamples to his claims, Pearce is encouraging conservatives to conquer all non-conservatives in society rather than share power with them. And such a compulsion to conquer rather than share power is what Pearce complained  that  non-conservatives were doing in the first place.






Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Is The Tribalism Trap Preventing Peace In The Middle East?

Sometimes, the same temptation that exists in watching a game between arch rivals is the same inclination many of us experience when sizing up the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. That urge is to pick a side and root for that side no matter what they do to win. And though doing so when watching a sporting event causes no significant immediate problems, it does train us to pick sides in other, more critical arenas.

Tribalism has many definitions. One of them involves having a strong loyalty to a group. It matters not on what that group identity is based, what is important is the degree of loyalty involved.  The stronger the loyalty we have to a group, the less committed we are to other groups and even beliefs. So eventually when group loyalty becomes strong enough, we end up supporting the group regardless of what it does. That causes us to passionately embrace moral relativity so that what we see is right and wrong depends who does what to whom. What we are talking about here is a gang mentality.

And this is what many Americans experience when paying attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On one side are those strong supporters of Israel who side with Israel for any number of reasons. Such people find it difficult to find significant fault with Israel's Occupation of the Palestinians. For either they deny that Israel commits atrocities against Palestinians or they justify those atrocities.

And in the other corner are those who, out of deep sympathy for what the Palestinians have endured, support the Palestinians in the same way as those who sympathize with Israel support Israel. I ran into such a group at a panel discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They correctly found fault with Israel for the atrocities it has visited on the Palestinians, but, because of those atrocities, they unfortunately rationalized  the violent responses Palestinians make to Israeli civilians.

Tribalism, which at the most, merely winks at the wrongdoings of one's own group while crying foul at the sins of the group, is what has kept the Israeli-Palestinian conflict alive for these many decades. For as long as we ignore our own atrocities while pointing out the horrific acts conducted by the other side, we are relying n the rule of force. And that fits in with the embracing of moral relativity.


Now it is easy to see how Israel relies on the rule of force because it is, by far, the stronger party between the two. But what is Palestinian terrorism other than an attempt to respond to force with force. And though the force practiced by the Palestinians against Israel might be more understandable because the Palestinians have much more to be angry about in this conflict than Israel, attacking civilians is still horribly immoral and inexcusable.

Thus, we have two sides that rely on force to have its way with the other. And while both sides rely on force to win, they both will risk committing moral suicide while only one side will see military defeat. And we should note with the former is that how one treats one's own enemy can become how one treats one's own citizens.

At that panel discussion, I suggested that the US, Israel, and the Palestinians submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the ICC. Why? Because doing so would introduce the rule of law since all sides would be subjected to the same standards--something that could never happen for as long as tribalism reigns. It would also require both sides to employ self-restraint. The person who responded to my suggestion said that doing so would not help. That same person also had rationalized Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. But that person also  said earlier that there exists a cognitive dissonance between American and Christian values and how Israel treats the Palestinians. And he couldn't be more correct about the existence of such dissonance.

However, this person didn't read everything about the theory of cognitive dissonance. For he left out the part that says when people experience cognitive dissonance, they usually seek to alleviate that dissonance using the least energy possible. And since change requires the most energy, change is rarely the response one who is experiencing cognitive dissonance exhibits. Yes, people do change when they feel forced to. But that takes a great deal of dissonance and how much it requires becomes almost insurmountable when people embrace tribalism.

Thus, for as long as the violent status quo remains, there is little possibility that sufficient support for changing how our nation responds to this conflict will occur. And this is especially true when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The more violence that is exercised by either group, the more tribalism strengthens its grips on the two parties involved and the more we will witness the same-old, same-old in that region.

We simply cannot afford to support or overlook the atrocities committed by either side if we want a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict. Thus, those who want such a resolution cannot afford the tribal approach where they are almost unconditionally supporting one side or the other. Instead, they must insist that the rule of law be relied on in resolving the conflict. For relying on he rule of law includes self-restraint and discipline. And there is a better chance that the other side will eventually respond to the self-restraint and discipline of their opposing group with their own self-restraint and discipline.

Isn't that what happened during the days of our Civil Rights movement. Blacks had every reason in the world to regard Whites as their mortal enemies and treat them as such. But those who followed Martin Luther King Jr. did not do that. So that eventually, enough support for civil rights laws and changed attitudes took hold and we experienced an opportunity to see racial reconciliation between Blacks and Whites. We had that opportunity but we certainly didn't take advantage of it.

And so we have a choice here. Either  we embrace tribalism or we insist on settling for nothing less than a peaceful and just settlement. To do the latter, we have to provide enough reasons for those who need to change the most to change. And that will never occur when we embrace tribalism regardless of which group we support.





 

Monday, June 11, 2018

ONIM For June 11, 2018

10 Best Fact Checking Sites Found Here.

If you are not sure about the validity of a news story linked to below, you can use  mediabiasfactcheck.com to check out the credibility of the source of most of the stories linked to here.


Christian News


World News


Israel-Palestine


Donald Trump News


Pick(s) Of The Litter


Just For Fun