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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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Friday, November 10, 2017

Blog Break

I am taking a long blog break from posting from Friday, November 10 thru Friday, December 1. The next new post will be on Monday, December 4. In the meantime, you can visit some of the other pages on this blog accessed through the tabs shown above or the incomplete list below. 

Other Pages

  1. Audio-Visual Library Page (this is my favorite page on the website)
  2. Activism page
        Contains announcements of some major activist events. If you don't see your event there, email me at curtday111@yahoo.com
  3. Favorite Articles page
        Links to some of my current and all-time favorite articles to read. Includes articles by Chris Hedges, Bill Blum, Noam Chomsky, Robert Jensen, Rachel Corrie, Anna Politkovshaya, Rita Corriel, and the Political Jesus blog (I highly recommend this blog)
  4. Favorite Websites page
        This contains most of the websites that I visit the most.
  5. Past Blog Posts page
        If you want to check the complete list of blog posts on this blog, please click this tab. The posts are divided into regular posts, reviews, and the ONIMs

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For November 8, 2017

Nov 3

To Jonathan Parnell and his blogpost on what Ministers can do when they suffer from ‘pathological self-criticism.’ This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website

I have been aware of pathological self-criticism because my home life, when I was a kid, fostered it. My father was an alcoholic and my mom had other problems. I know people who grew up in an abusive household who also suffer from pathological self-criticism.

Now the kind of self-criticism my examples refer to may not be the kind of self-criticism being referred to in the article above. But the self-criticism we experience is often pathological.


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Nov 4

Should note that there is a test to make sure one is not a robot when entering a comment on the general Gospel Coalition site. The test for the comment below was to answer the following: 17 - 3 = . I typed in the answer of 14 and was notified that my answer was incorrect.

To Joe Carter and his blogpost that supports President Trump’s military ban on transgendered people. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

The problem with Carter's article here is that he merely claims that the presence of transgendered troops will be 'detrimental' to our military. He offers no evidence to support that claim. Thus, he is acting similarly to Trump when he issued the order because Trump issued that order without consulting the military.

And what if the presence of transgendered troops would hurt the morale of the troops, wouldn't we first have to determine how that harm takes place before deciding on whether we should pursue having transgendered troops in the military.

We should be able to study these issues seeing that transgendered troops have been serving in the military. In fact, there are thousands of transgendered troops serving in the military at the current time or very recently with the most famous being Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning. He turned over some  "confidential" information to Wikileaks including the cold-blooded murder of two journalists as they accompanied what seemed to be, for the most part, unarmed Iraqis. This murder, called Collateral Murder on the web, included not only one of our helicopter gunships firing at these Iraqi escorted journalists, the helicopter also fired at an Iraqi van that clearly was there to pick up the wounded. Such an attack is equivalent to terrorists attacking an ambulance.
Too many of us religiously conservative Christians (a.k.a, flaming fundamentalists) go beyond the preaching of the Scriptures about homosexuality. We go beyond that to blatantly show more than mere hostility to the LGBT community. And Trump's ban on transgendered troops, along with Carter's thoughts in the above article, are examples of that hostility despite the fact that Trump is not a religiously conservative Christian. He is, however, representing many of them with his ban.

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Nov 6

To Mark David Hall and his blogpost contesting the claim that many of our nation’s founding fathers were deists and thus Christianity had a very large role in our nation’s beginning. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog

Articles that try to present the founders of our nation as being overwhelmingly Christians fail in two areas. The first failure comes from the fact that more founders were deists than the person making the claim is willing to admit. Believing in providence doesn't necessarily make one a theist as opposed to a deist. Denying the supernatural, as say Jefferson did when he wrote his own version of the New Testament, doesn't point to any theism I know of unless, as in Jefferson's case, he is a believer in a completely different religion.

Second, just as there is a difference between the legal tax rate and the effective tax rate, so to there is a difference between one's confessed faith and the faith one is living out. And just as we saw with those who confessed to be Christian, their treatment of Native Americans by taking their land or by the owning slaves or embracing of white supremacy contradicted their confession of faith. Or we could look at the event that spurred the writing of The Constitution: Shays Rebellion. For that rebellion, and the accompanying dissent, was a rejection of the rule of the domestic financial elites, many of whom were well represented by our founding fathers who wrote The Constitution. What faith condones the valuing of profits over people as was supported by many of those writing the document? Or what faith makes one the object of their own worship as was done by claiming to be special or acting as if they were superior to others?

This urge to overly Christianize our founding fathers comes from the same source as what led Billy Graham to use celebrities in his crusades: it's a form of authoritarianism. It's a much lighter than other forms, but it still is a form of authoritarianism. For in authoritarianism, truth is determined by one's credentials more than the facts and logic involved in making a claim.  And that is what we have here in trying to overdo the association of the faith of our founders with the Christian faith. We are being told to either be less inclined to challenge our founders and what they wrote and said because they were Christians and/or give Christians a privileged position in society in the making of our laws and social mores because the founders were Christians.


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Nov 7

To Joe Carter and his blogpost lamenting the fact that millennials are adopting more favorable views of communism and socialism. This appeared in the Acton blog

I think what is more troubling than the millennial view of communism and socialism is the conservative view of either communism or socialism. Why the conservative view is so troubling is because it makes monoliths out of both communism and socialism when, in reality, they are not. In fact, even though the above article stated there was a difference between communism and socialism, when reviewing the view of millennials of leftist leaders, only communist leaders are listed. In addition, Putin is listed as a communist leader even though the nation he leads is not a communist state. Yes, he was part of the communist regime by being a member of the KGB, but he has not enforced communism on Russia. Instead, he has instituted a government that is works and plays well with oligarchs. In addition, we should note the cozy relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin.

What we should be aware of are the differences between Marx and those who ruled in his name. We should investigate whether tyrants like Lenin, Mao Zedong, Stalin, and so forth really followed Marx in how they ran their nations. There are many socialists of varying types that strongly contend that those leaders were not following Marx. At this point, the conservative definition of Marxism, communism, and socialism is of no help because of its tendency to conflate and define these isms as monoliths.  And in defining these isms as monoliths, all-or-nothing judgements are made on these isms rather tying to identify the good and bad points of each ism.

And from the parable of the two men praying, the zeroing in on atrocities committed in the name of Marx while forgetting the atrocities committed by the West whether or not the West includes the United States does not bode well for the spiritual state of the West. For just in the states, millions of Native Americans were ethnically cleansed from the land so that white Christians could have places to live. In addition, we need to remember the millions of Blacks who were killed either in the transport of Africans to America for slavery or in the efforts made to keep slaves in their place and we need to remember the many killed in order subjugate Blacks in society after the Civil War . Now those millions don't include the millions of people the US has killed in its questionable wars and interventions. The number of Vietnam civilians killed by the US during the Vietnam War is in the millions. And those millions don't include the millions of people killed as Western nations built their empires. And we should also note that Nazi Germany was a politically conservative western country that promoted private property, racism, nationalism, and traditional values--restoring traditional values was part of the Nazi Party's campaign platform. And Nazi Germany was also responsible for its own millions of deaths.
Carter's article ends up providing too little information to actually prove its point. To that extent, the information it does provides seems to use a fear out of ignorance to manipulate the opinions of its readers.






 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Marxism Has Never Been Fully Tried, And

Contrary to popular conservative opinion, Marxism has never been fully tried. It wasn't fully tried in the USSR, it wasn't fully tried in China, and it wasn't fully tried in either Cuba or Venezuela. All conservative claims to the contrary are false. But why are they false?

The reason why those conservative claims are false can be answered in two ways. One way is to note how conservative opponents of Marxism tend to be opportunistic in trying to disprove Marxism. Thus, they conveniently latch on to what failed in the nations previously mentioned as experiments in Marxism in order to dissuade any leanings toward Marxism in people. So that is one way of looking at why those conservative claims are false.


Another way to note how conservative claims that the nations previously mentioned did not fully try Marxism is to look at the key missing ingredient of Marxism in those nations: the proletartiat dictatorship. Now, the proletariat dictatorship is kind of a misnomer. For what the proletariat dictatorship involves is a partial democracy based on class just as much as a nation like Israel runs a partial democracy based on ethnicity. Thus, the proletariat dictatorship, which allows for proletariat representatives to be elected by their peers, is really a democracy in which the proletariat clearly own the nation more than any other group. And when one looks at the structures of the government that ran the USSR and currently runs China, Cuba, and Venezuela, one sees the lack of ownership and control by the proletariat. Instead, one sees ownership and control by those who claim to speak for the proletariat but are merely ideological elites. And such can never be counted as a proletariat dictatorship.

Does that mean that we should seek to fully employ Marxism in our nation? If you are a Marxist ideologue, you would say 'yes.' But for those ideologues, how do you feel about a proletariat dictatorship where the proletariat do not follow Marxist ideology? Do you still want to fully employ Marxism? Can one fully employ Marxism under those circumstances?

I like to imitate Howard Zinn when saying I am a Marxist Socialist. That is because Zinn had said that he likes to call himself a Socialist if he can define what he means by that term. And I feel the same way about Marxist Socialism.

I very much like Marx, especially when it comes to his analysis of Capitalism. But I struggle with his overall view of reality and his solution to Capitalism. What are my struggles with Marxism? There are 4 points on which I disagree with Marx. They consist of the following:

  1. I disagree with Marx's support for revolution. In too many cases, revolutions do not result in democracies.
     
  2. I disaagree with Marx's materialism. I must disagree with him there because I am a Christian.
     
  3. I disagree with Marx's utopian expectations. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't work to improve things. It means that we will never achieve utopia.
     
  4. I disagree with Marx's proletariat dictatorship.

 Now concerning the 4th point, I have to make one clarification. I don't disagree with Marx's proletariat dictatorship the way that some professed followers of Marx disagreed with it. For what they wanted was  having the "right" people act as dictators instead of the proletariat dictatorship. Why I disagree with Marx's proletariat dictatorship is because I believe in a full democracy. When we have a democracy that is under control of either the bourgeoisie or the proletariat, we don't have a full democracy. That is because a democracy is not just defined by the procedures and processes made available to the people for picking their leaders or deciding on certain questions. Democracy is a certain state of being for the nation where the nation is being shared equally by all the different groups in the nation. And that can't be when we have a proletariat or bourgeoisie dictatorship. Nor could it be if we had a bourgeoisie democracy.

Now if I disagree with the proletariat dictatorship, how can it be that I am a Marxist? My claim here becomes a matter of opinion. But what I do believe in, in addition to Marx's analysis of Capitalism, is empowering the proletariat at both the workplace and the government so that they share the workplace and the state equally with the bourgeoisie. That means that they should have equal power both at the workplace and in government.

We should note that nations that come closest to following Marxism in terms of the proletariat dictatorship was neither the USSR nor China, Cuba, nor Venezuela. Rather Germany and Denmark are two nations that more closely follow Marx than any other nation. How is it that they are following Marx? They are following, or approaching to be more precise, Marx through their codetermination laws. What codetermination does is to require that any business with a certain number of employees must include workers, who are elected by their peers, to sit on the board of directors for a given company. That means that workers and owners share power in terms of controlling a company.

Now codetermination is not a proletariat dictatorship. Nor do most instances of codetermination require that the bourgeoisie and the proletariat share equal power over a given company. But codetermination approaches Marxism by empowering workers at the workplace.

What would be my ideal political-economic structure? That we have a codetermination that requires equal representation in the larger companies and approach equal representation in smaller companies on any company's board of directors. And such takes care of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie sharing power at the workplace.

But what about sharing power in government? We should note, and this comes from an observation by a friend of mine who is a religious conservative Christian but who is rather an independent political thinker but who leans toward conservatism more than any other position. What we are missing in our political structure is representation by vocation. Both the Senate and the House allows for representation by location. But because of the money involved in elections, both places of representation by location tend to create elected officials who tend to significant personal wealth and/or have the same jobs. The most common vocations held by our elected representatives are those who were in law, those who were in business, those who were elected officials in other levels of government, and those who were in education. We should note that those in law held a substantial lead in representation over those from the other vocations. This leaves housewives to go unrepresented in our government. It also leaves factory workers to go unrepresented. It also leaves people with jobs in the service sector to go unrepresented and so on and so on. In short, we need a legislative branch that allows people to be represented by vocation as well as location.


Would my dream government work? That would depend on the decisions made by those in charge. But what my dream government would do would be to employ a more equal sharing of power and thus the need for people with different interests to work for each others' interests and welfare. This could be partially accomplished by a legislative branch where people are represented by vocation.

In short, I am saying that it is good that a full Marxism has never been employed. But I don't say that for the same reasons that people like Lenin or Mao would say that. For they wanted to consolidate power under their own control. And that is the problem we have today. Instead of sharing power, we have become tribal and looked after the interests of our own group(s) believing that if we convince enough people to vote for our leaders, we have done nothing wrong. But we would be wrong if we don't share the nation as equals with others and we believed in democracy.





 

Monday, November 6, 2017

ONIM For November 6, 2017

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

Racism News

Donald Trump News

Pick(s) Of The Litter








Friday, November 3, 2017

On Past And Future Reformations

In the month of October, much was written about celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In reality, the Reformation didn't have one specific starting date. But because Martin Luther is deservedly a central person in the Reformation, the 500th anniversary has revolved around his nailing of the 95 theses that challenged the Roman Church (click here for those 95 theses). 

Luther's theses revolved around man's spiritual state and the Roman Church's abilities and inabilities to minister to that state of both dead and the living Christians. The purpose of his Theses was to spark debate in order to reform the Church. Instead, it served as one of the beginning points of splitting the Church. That split served as the 2nd splitting from the Church since the breaking away of the Roman Church from the Orthodox Church served as the first split.

But times have changed since Luther wrote his 95 Theses. And in this time, just as the Church in which Luther found himself was in need of change, today's Church is in need of change. Enter then Jonathan Aigner (click here for a bio). He just recently wrote an article on 95 additional  theses that the Church must address today (click here for the article). These theses seem to have today's more modern evangelical churches in mind.  And his article is the subject of today's blogpost. And while Luther's 95 theses dealt with two subjects, Aigner's 95 theses are concerned with one subject: the proper worship of God. 

Aigner is concerned that too many worship services today have been prostituted by concerns to remain relevant and to draw people. Worship services that focus on remaining relevant do so in order to attract and keep people coming to church. Aigner's complaints here revolve around compromises churches make in accommodating worship services to what is popular in culture. Thus, the worshipers are what worship services are designed to serve. That means that the object of worship, or God, is receiving less and less attention as while those who are worshiping are receiving more and more attention.

Overall, Aigner's theses contain a lot of good suggestions. Some of them include the following
  • Therefore, worship is more important than any ministry of the church, even then the sacred cows of children’s and youth ministry.
  • Therefore, we should stop bastardizing the church’s worship by reinventing it in each generation’s image and using it as a hook.
  • A sermon is to be received by the people as part of God’s work on their behalf, not aim to solve their problems and help them live happier lives.
  • Churches are designing ad hoc worship “experiences” to stave off the boredom brought on by cultural media saturation.
  • Theology, not taste, should determine how we worship.
  • Corporate worship that is either contemporary or traditional is toxic to the church.
  • All worship should be historic because it recalls the creative and redemptive acts of God.
  • Worship is about doing God’s story.
  • Bad worship begets bad theology. Bad theology begets a bloated, unhealthy church.
  • We deceive people and compromise our worship when we preach that everyone is entitled to find worship that “fits them just right” in terms of personal preference.
  • Worship that seeks personal fulfillment, release, or refreshment is a masturbatory act.
  • Worship should be exceedingly boring in that it doesn’t offer that over-stimulation that the masses crave.
  • To outsiders, the Eucharist is foolishness. That is why no megachurch model takes it seriously.
  • Worship is not for God’s sake. It’s for ours.
  • In worship, God is the subject, the great Mover and Shaper, and we are the ones being moved and shaped by God’s story.
  • Worship will be more impressive than expressive. Me-worship is about expressing my story. True worship is about being impacted by God’s story.

Though I have not read every single thesis, of the ones I have read, I see no problem with any of them. Aigner is providing necessary corrections in how churches should approach worship services today.

The problem I do see with Aigner's article is that the Church needs reformation in other areas in addition to worship. Thus, trying to write 95 theses just for worship seems a little gimmicky while it shows a negligence in addressing other problem areas in today's Church. 

In addition, to just focus on the Church's problems with worship furthers the insularity of the conservative Church. For its insularity is its biggest obstacle to effectively preaching the Gospel to a larger, more diverse audience. In wanting to preach to a more diverse audience, I am not talking about the kind of relevance that tricks people into coming to church. Rather, the kind of relevance of which I speak concerns itself with being able to effectively preach the Gospel to those who do not hold to an America-first, politically conservative audience. For American conservative churches are drawing an overwhelming ratio of political conservatives compared to political non-conservatives. This not only violates the spirit in which Aigner wrote his 95 theses, it robs political non-conservatives chances of hearing the Gospel and of finding religiously conservative churches to belong to which do not assault their political consciences. In addition, this overwhelming appeal to political conservatives strongly suggests that only political conservatives can belong to religiously conservative Christian churches.

The Church needs to read Aigner's 95 theses. At the same time, there are other areas in which theses, not necessarily 95 of them, must be written in order to correct major problems in today's Church.









Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For November 1, 2017

Oct 31

To Kevin DeYoung and his blogpost on celebrating the Reformation and what it has brought. He also acknowledged challenge brought by the Reformation and today’s world. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website

One of the challenges not mentioned above is that of removing the stumbling blocks that sinful acts done and positions taken in the name of Christ have provided. In our nation alone we have the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans from the land and the harsh persecution and oppression of Blacks pursued in various forms done by many in the name of Christ. Or we have our nation's seemingly carte blanche support for Israel as it practices a brutal occupation against the Palestinians and that support is promoted by many religiously conservative Christians as being biblical. Or we have the religiously conservative Christian support for the exploitation that has occurred because of our Capitalist economic, this is especially true with today's form of Capitalism called 'Neoliberalism.' Europe's empires and wars, along with America's previously mentioned sins, have played significant roles in ushering in Post Modernism. For Post Modernism makes a strong historical case for rejecting the metanarratives provided by faith, even the Christian faith.
If we are serious about checking today's growing secularization, we have to acknowledge our past faults and sins noting that because of time and the extent of our wrongs, we can't fix what was already done or make restitution for it. That makes us beggars for mercy.

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To Arthur Versluis and his blogpost extolling a conservative, Jeffersonian approach to relying on a smaller Federal government. This article appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

I see two problems with this article. First, there is the proof by example attempt when arguing against the Hamilton model. Just because the Hamilton model has eventually produced what we have today doesn't mean that centralization always fails.
The second problem I see is that, for the most part, the evaluation of government is done by size alone. I've constantly argued that government is like love, size doesn't matter, fidelity does. The writer of this article acknowledges that  some projects require the assistance of larger entities than local government. So in some areas, the need for a good sized government is necessary. And that should apply to the federal government as well as state governments.

Where government has gone astray is not necessarily in size, but in representation. We have two ways of representing people by location. But what is absent, especially in the era of big money politics, is the representation by vocation. So what if all the states have two ways of being represented in government decisions. If the demographics of those representations draw on a limited population based on select vocations, then fewer people will be represented and those who are will tend to be those who have wealth and thus power. Limiting federal government does not limit power. Rather, limiting government can conveniently enable government to abdicate its responsibilities to private sector elites and we will get the same results as we get when corporations are able to buy representatives as mentioned in the article above.

Since Versluis mentioned Chomsky and his opposition to the centralization of government through the military industrial state, we should add that this severely imbalanced representation in government can start to be challenged when we allow workers to run their places of work rather than owners. And the first place this would be good to at least partially implement is in publicly owned companies where shareholders often act like dictatorial slumlords. And Europe's different implementations of codetermination show that we don't have to take all-or-nothing approaches at worker-run workplaces.

After increasing worker control over the workplace, we would still need to restructure our government to fix many of the current problems. That restructuring should not focus on size but on representation so that people from all walks of life, as well as all locations, are well represented. The idea of soviets that would eventually lead to either another legislative branch of the government or a revamped  the House of Representatives could increase representation of all Americans as opposed to just the representation that the wealthy have been able to purchase for themselves.

However, one other concern is important. That is the general ethical standard or moral code of the people also needs to change. We need to become a more person-oriented society where people are counted as being more important than gadgets, profits, and property rights. Without that, we are condemned to not only the racism, militarism, and materialism that King warned against, but an unfaithful and, perhaps, big government that is necessary to feed the appetites of those with wealth and who profit from racism, militarism, and materialism.


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To Joe Carter and his blogpost that introduces a paper on how the Church should approach wealth creation. This appeared in the Acton blog.

The relationship between wealth creation and the Church is oversimplified in the approach listed above. For wealth creation is portrayed as a whole pie rather than merely a slice of a larger pie. Thus, the emphasis on wealth creation as encouraged above, will focus on a financial bottom-line approach to creating and distributing wealth despite the concerns expressed for the poor and a fair wealth distribution. And without government's help, the Church, at best, will be impotent in making sure that the bottom-line doesn't become the only criteria in evaluating methods of wealth creation. The not at best scenarios have their historical precedents in the pre-revollutionary times of France, Russia, and Spain where the Church sided with wealth and power.

We need to see wealth as a piece fitting in a larger puzzle that describes how we will share society with each other. The relationships between people must take priority over any financial bottom line. If it does not, we will still have a thing-oriented society as described by Martin Luther King Jr. And for as long as we have a thing-oriented society, we will be plagued with racism, militarism, and materialism.








Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Patriotism Or Equality


In an article about former Steelers' great and veteran Rocky Bleier and his view of the National Anthem protests, Bleier states that the situation should have 'never gotten to this point' (click here for the article). The point that Bleier is lamenting over is that players are protesting during the playing of the National Anthem. In his opinion, this should not be the case because players do not have a free speech right to protest then because they are at work. And while Bleier also sees fault with the owners, I have to say that I agree with him but for different reasons.

The National Anthem protests should have never become such a big controversy. Why? It is because the patriotic fervor that causes people to react so strongly against the kneeling protest should have never reached such a high level. That fervor transforms patriotism into a religion. And that is occurring in a nation where people are fond of wearing their religion on their sleeves.. All that makes the attempts to punish those players who don't show patriotism in the same way as Bleier or even don't feel patriotic at all, the latter includes me, into an inquisition based on nationalism. That makes it a secular inquisition.

But even much more important than the patriotism turned religion problem, things should have never gotten to where they are today in terms of the racism that so doggedly persists in our nation. And what Bleier thinks should have never gotten this far indicates, in both Bleier and those who agree with him, that too many privileged people in our nation, and by privileged people I mean whites especially those who are part of the middle or high economic class, live in a well insulated bubble. Why is it that so many of us white people are too eager to change the subject of the National Anthem protests to that of disrespecting the flag and those who fought waving it? Why does nonconformity in how some react to the playing of the National Anthem cause us more concern and, perhaps, makes us feel more threatened than the varying significant levels of racism that has plagued our nation from the beginning?

Why do so many of us think that it is far more virtuous to stand for the playing of the National Anthem than it is to care about those fellow Americans who are being systemically oppressed and even persecuted? Is being patriotic opposed to working for equality? That seems to be the message we communicate when we express more concern about protesting the flag than we say about the racism being opposed during the playing of the National Anthem. In fact, American history shows that equality has always played, at best, 2nd fiddle to patriotism in our nation.



 


references
  1. https://sports.yahoo.com/steelers-icon-vietnam-vet-rocky-bleier-nfl-protests-never-gotten-point-182928379.html