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Monday, May 23, 2016

Blog Break

I am taking a seasonal blog break from posting from Monday, May 23rd thru Wednesday, June 1st. The next new post will be on Friday, June 3rd. 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

Friday, May 20, 2016

When The Title Has Nothing To Do With The Article

When I saw the title of Peter Rieth's (click here for a short bio) blogpost at the Imaginative Conservative, Can A Christian Conservative Vote For Trump? (click here for the article), I was foaming at the mouth. It is the kind of article I would love to read and comment on.

What peaks my interest in Rieth's question is that in some ways, many of us religiously conservative Christians have already voted for candidates who proposed Trump-like policies or displayed Trump-like characteristics. This includes LBJ and Richard Nixon, neither of whom were ego-impaired even when compared to Trump, who oversaw our invasion of Vietnam as well as other massive policies. Here we should remember that Trump is not against war, he just isn't in favor of dumb wars. But then the question becomes this: Can he recognize the difference between necessary wars and dumb ones?

Or we could go to President Reagan with his horrific Central American terrorist policies and the Iran-Contra affair where he tried to get Iran to pay for our war against Nicaragua. Or we could go to President Clinton and his Trump-like lust for the ladies while he mainained a no-fly zone over and devastating sanctions on Iraq. Or we could go to President Bush as he increased the authority of the government through the Patriot Act and made as many verbal gaffes as Trump has. Even Eisenhower had his moments with the Iran and Guatemala' coups because those coups.  Religiously conservative Christians, who can be different from Christian conservatives since the conservatism of the latter revolves more around political thought, have supported and even voted for people promoting horrible policies. 

But a funny thing happened on the way from the title to the end of the article. The subject changed. It changed from answering a question about who could vote for Trump to not just using Trump as a barometer of our democracy, but as way of blaming all of our ills on old opponents of Roman Catholic teaching--we should note that Rieth is Catholic. For according to Rieth, the trouble with Western Civilization in general, and with our Democracy in particular, is not Trump per se, but the West's departure from Catholic teaching and its embracing of the teachings that are antithetical to Catholic teaching: the teachings of the Enlightenment and the Reformation. According to Rieth,  Trump represents the right wing of Englightenment and Reformation while Clinton represents the Left wing. And as Rieth so confidently espoused:
Rome is the ultimate solution to all of the problems plaguing Europe and Western civilization in general.

At this point, some observations are in order. For what Rieth is arguing against in others, he is arguing for in his church. Where he talks about political elites shutting down discussions on topics like immigrationa and war in an effort push their agenda, he does the same when talking about Western Civilization and Democracy from his Catholic elitist point of view. Does Rieth complain about Trump having a proud ego? Yes. But how different is that from Rieth's pride in his own church? And does Trump accept any responsibility for his errors? No, but how different is that from Rieth using the Englightenment and the Reformation as scapegoats for what ails the West. And as Rieth pontificates on Roman Catholic teachings, he never mentions its failures. We must ask this: How different is Trump's self-image from the view that Rieth has of his own Catholic Church? For it seems that when it comes to solving problems, both are claiming their side does it better than their opponents could.

And while Rieth blames the Englightenment and the Reformation for what ails our democracy, the nature of Rieth's claims is what actually endangers democracy. For here, Rieth is promoting an authoritarianism in how he blames his Church's enemies and how he brags about the capability of his Church's teachings. For Rieth is saying that to do well, the West must submit to Catholic teaching.  

Here, we should note that Democracy and authoritarianism do not mix. They do not mix because those who promote authoritarianism are looking to consolidate power while the nature of Democracy is to share and distribute power. They do not mix because authoritarianism gives rulership privileges to some while Democracy recognizes rulership rights for all. BTW, please note the difference between the words privileges and rights here. For privileges are given to some. Rights are recognized for all. A more mathematical way of stating this is to say: Liberties - equality = privileges. 

After reading the title, the article itself was a disappointment. The question raised in the title is never answered, let alone addressed. Rather, Trump and others become avenues for Rieth's promotion of Roman Church teachings. And this is despite past failed teachings made by his church.

So what can we take away from all of this? What we can learn is that we shouldn't entrust our democracy to authoritarians. Here, we should note that the most obvious characteristic that Trump and Hillary share is their authoritarianism. And as mentioned before, it is this authoritarianism that is threatening our Democracy, not the Enlightenment or the Reformation even though both, like Roman Church teachings, have their weaknesses and errors. And if we can't leave our democracy to authoritarians, what will we do this Presidential election where both Trump and Clinton seem all but assured of earning their respective party's nomination?




Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For May 18, 2016

May 12

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote on the DOJ’s inconsistency on gender identity issues. This appeared in Heidelblog.

The problem with the quote above is that it works from a basic ignorance. The questions about Mount Holyoke are inane and fails to recognize that the college is inclusive in its admission policies, not exclusive. So while they do admit women who identify as males, they also admit men who identify as women.  So why should the Obama administration punish a college that is as inclusive as possible when it wants to address those who are exclusive. As for boys playing on girl's teams, this occurrence seems too rare to have to address at the time.

What seems to have passed everyone's notice is that the medical field does not support the Christian  notion that gender categories are discrete. Instead, the medical field, in dealing with what is called gender dysphoria, sees gender classification along a continuum (see http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/psychiatry-psychology/mayo-provides-integrated-care-for-people-with-gender-dysphoria  ). And in a nation where we have the freedom of religion, which will more influence government regarding gender identification: Will it be conservative Christianity or the medical field?

We're entering a time where some groups that have been long suppressed and marginalized are escaping persecution. So the question for us religiously conservative Christians becomes how can we be faithful to what the Scriptures teach on this subject while not associating our faith with past or present efforts to disenfranchise those who are currently escaping marginalization, which is the LGBT community, in society? For if, because of the fuss we make, we appear to want to reestablish the past marginalization of the LGBT community in society while remaining silent on larger issues such as our nation's embracing of war and militarism, our exploitive economic system, and a way of life that is destroying the environment we will rightfully be seen as being all too willing to beat up the individual over his/her sin while silently giving approval to those who are using force on or exploiting others and threatening everyone's future. Here, we should remember how the Church behaved prior to the French, Russian, and Spanish Revolutions and how that resulted not only in the persecution of Christians, but in the dishonoring of the Gospel.

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May 13

To Juan Sanchez and his blogpost on 3 principles for how Christians should relate to the gov’t. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Though there are some good points here, the article is still rather shallow. How are we suppose to respond to the gov't when it practices injustice? See, such a question is really not addressed above. What democratic processes are we allowed to use to influence the government? Some democratic processes include civil disobedience. Are we allowed to practice civil disobedience? If so, when?

And what about the historical and contextual differences between the times when the Scriptures were written and now. Certainly, the differences won't address the general principles the Bible gives regarding our relationship with the government, but how we implement those principles could very well be different. As Martin Luther King tried to reconcile the need to speak out against the gov't for unjust laws and Romans 13, he came to the conclusion that respecting the law in general could include peacefully practicing civil disobedience while being willing to pay the price for breaking the law.

And why don't Christian leaders ever include the OT prophets when they talk about our relationship with the gov't? The OT prophets could be very confrontational when dealing with those in authority.

In the end, while many of our Christian leaders act as if the sky is falling for each battle we lose a battle in our culture wars, their endorsement of our exploitive capitalist economy and teachings like the above on how to submit to the gov't says that they side with wealth and power--the kind of mistake that isn't new to the Church.

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May 16

To Bruce Frohnen and his blogpost on whether America with its emphasis on individual home ownership and its mix of private space and public space should seek to become more like Europe. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

It's not quite clear what this article wants to say. On the one hand, how the American way of life should be is described in the same way that some Vermont politicians have described what gun laws should be: that gun laws could be different for urban areas than they are for non urban areas. We have an American way of life that is urban and one that is not urban and how the urban parts are somewhat like Europe while the rest is the real America. But on the other hand, America, that is the America of the past, is given an idyllic and monolithic description revolving around its individualism. What was missing there was how this romanticized picture was not experienced by all that way. That many of our most successful communities from the past were homogeneous in nature and tended to be more White and not  of the lower economic classes. 

And as Europe is described, a key missing factor here is not just the urban lifestyle of Europeans. What is missing is that the close proximity that the European nations have with each other. An even more key factor that is missing is the strong  but starting to fade memory of WW II. Yes, we fought WW II but Europe had to rise from the dead because of WW II.

But something else should be mentioned here. The America of homeownership got a rude awakening due to the economic collapse of 2008 when millions were the victims of foreclosures and the losses in household wealth and pensions of many disappeared due to the independent spirit of America's financial sector.

In the end,  it seems that what this article is really about is the battle between interdependence identity vs interdependence reality. And this battle very much falls in line with the current battle over the rights of transgendered people where the members of one side want to first determine gender identity by how people feel about themselves vs the other side that only wants to use their physical facts from biology one is born with. And it plays out that way in this article because regardless of what our political and economic systems say about how much we are connected with each other, some Americans want to measure their interdependence based on how they feel about themselves.

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May 17

To Collin Hansen and his blogpost discussion with Michael Horton and Tim Keller on how to teach God’s law in today’s society. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

One of the weaknesses I see with Keller's approach to emphasizing the Law in Christian living is that instead using what Jesus and the epistles taught, he uses a Reformed theological model. And thus the validity of his teaching on the law no longer directly depends on the Scriptures but depends more on how accurate the theological model he uses is in depicting the relationship between the Law and Christian living.

Another weakness I see is that he assumes that people experience shame or find meaning, hope, honor or whatever for the same reasons. And so he uses the Scriptures to tell each person how that they are feeling shame or look for meaning for the same reasons without having really listened to the person.

Finally, another weakness is the apologetic Keller is using for the Gospel is wholly inadequate. If we suppose that Christianity provides the best answer to people's yearnings, then there is no compelling reason to believe the Gospel because, as good as the Gospel is in terms of providing answers to life, a better answer might come in the future as a result of further discovery.

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To Bradley Birzer and his blogpost on Reagan’s speech at a Notre Dame commencement that claimed we would defeat Communism. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative website.

While some gush over Reagan's 10 words here and his presidency, let's remember some of what went into implementing those words. To carry out his words, we had to sponsor terrorism against the civilians of Nicaragua to the point of being found guilty by the World Court for crimes we committed against that nation. It also meant sponsoring military groups in El Salvador that eventually caused the MS 13 gang to come into existence in the US. It also meant fighting an asymmetrical war against Liberation theology and murdering a number priests by those trained in America. It meant that we invaded Grenada under false claim that American civilians were in danger. It also meant starting a multiple decade war in Afghanistan and the funding of a leader and others who eventually created a group that attacked us on 9/11. BTW, we funded their terrorism in Afghanistan but, like in Nicaragua, that terrorism was deemed acceptable because the governments of the people being attacked were deemed unacceptable because of ties to the Soviet Union. We should also note how that war continues to this day. I imagine that today's citizens of Afghanistan would look at those 10 words of Reagan with the same esteem that the writer of this article shows for them.

In addition, Reagan's approach to "Communism" meant that our government would take an all-or-nothing approach to labeling the Left and thus regarding all on the Left as being the same while starting our government on the path of becoming a handmaiden to business. Reagan attacked unions and weakened them helping the wages of Americans to stagnate and that is true to this day. But more than that, our domestic and foreign policies now revolve around serving the needs of business first, and perhaps people if there is a second.

But most of all, Reagan should be remembered for his ends justify the means philosophy that ruled over his foreign policies. Thus, as long as the target could be labeled as belonging to the Left, any means were acceptable. It is a philosophy that lives to this day in terms of determining our foreign polices. Now it isn't that we didn't use that philosophy before Reagan to justify our use of violence and terrorism. It is that Reagan elevated its acceptance to the level of being a religion. 

So be proud of Reagan's anti-Bolshevism, because anti-Bolshevism was what he was fighting against even though the Communism of the Soviet Union under Gorbachev had transcended it. And by bowing down to and singing the praises of Reagan, continue to show that Conservative Ideology  has even become the religion of some Conservatives.

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To John Couretas and his blogpost on Samuel Gregg’s reaction to David Bently Hart’s condemnation of today’s Capitalism. This appeared in the Acton Blog.


If this article contributes anything, it provides another piece of evidence that the Acton blog is keeping an unfortunate tradition from the past that included what the Roman Church did in pre-revolutionary times of France and Spain and what the Orthodox Church did in pre-revolutionary times in Russia. What is that tradition? It is the tradition of the Christian Church siding with wealth and power.

We should note that, like Socialism, Capitalism is not a monolith. To give an example, the form of Capitalism practiced right after WW II until the early or mid 1970s was under Bretton Woods system where governments had more control over the economies of their respective nations. Under this system, not only was Europe rebuilt, economic growth in this country spanned equitably across all classes. Yes, there was state capitalism for some privileged companies without which they would never survive. But control of the economy  was, for a significant part, in the hands of government. And we should note here that Manhattan was built over time under several forms of Capitalism so that no one form can claim complete credit.

Today's Capitalism is called Neoliberal Capitalism with liberal being used in terms of freeing the markets from government regulations.  With this new form of Capitalism, nations have less control over their economy and less sovereignty as trade agreements and organizations began to usurp power over governments. But if we want to talk about whether such Capitalism is responsible for murder, then our first case study should be Chile on 9/11/73. For that is when  the US sponsored a military coup, that is after a few years of trying to destabilize the nation, where a murderous  military thug, Augusto Pinochet took power. He was put into power in order to replace the left-leaning  policies of Salvador Allende with today's Neoliberal Capitalism. And while Pinochet had some dissidents arrested and tortured, he had others murdered. The President he replaced, Salvador Allende, committed suicide due to the circumstances that the coup produced. 

As for whether Neoliberal Capitalism is still murdering people, we come to the question posed by Howard Zinn who asked: How different is doing things that make death inevitable from murder? 

Should we note how global capitalism has alleviated some poverty? It took away American jobs and gave them to people from other nations provided that the pay and working conditions of those people from those nations maximized profits for owners. So when we hear of a fire in a sweatshop factory in another nation, then we see another example of how Neoliberal Capitalism murders. Or when we see the premature deaths of people who never recovered from losing their jobs to sweatshop factory workers, we see murder being committed by Neoliberal Capitalism. When we saw people die prematurely because they never recovered from being forced out of their homes from our economic collapse in 2008, we saw murder being committed by Neoliberal Capitalism. When environmental regulations are being repealed or ignored in order to maximize profits, we see the conditions that will lead to murder in the future. And when we see the current deaths of people from Appalachia who died from environmental conditions caused by the Mountain Top Removal of coal, yes, we see murder. This is especially when that these people are often given a choice between a health threatening environment and no jobs.

In the end, how one views Neoliberal Capitalism  depends on whether one lives in the Capitol or one lives in the Districts, using the Hunger Games movie model of thought. What David Bentley Hart did in his article was that while living in the Capitol, he showed solidarity with those living in the Districts. In the meantime, Gregg shows that he stands in the tradition of the Churches that supported wealth and power during the pre-Revolutionary times of France, Russia, and Spain.







Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Is A Death Wish Flying Below Our Radar?

The old saying that goes:
Look, in the sky. It's bird, it's a plane, it's a FROG.

may, in the near future, not refer to TV's Underdog. Rather, it could refer to one way by which Russia could neutralize what it sees as a legitimate threat from the US, America's missile shield in Eastern Europe. We should note that the term 'FROG' here is a tactical nuclear weapon. And we should also note that in 2008, several Russian leaders threatened to use such weapons should American missile defense bases be placed in nations that were too close to Russia's border. The Russian concern here was that such bases were more of a threat to Russia's security than a way to protect Europe from a then nonexistent Iranian missile threat.

Had we put such defense bases in Eastern Europe back in 2008, we could have been facing a new missile crisis that would be on par with the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. We should note that back then, there was more than one time when we came close to engaging in a full-scale nuclear war with Russia. The issue was not just that we caught the Soviets redhanded in building a first strike capability in Cuba; the issue was why could the US put nuclear armed missiles on the USSR's border in Turkey while the Soviets were being challenged when they tried to return the favor in Cuba. Part of the agreement that led to the Soviets' removal of their missiles in Cuba was that we would do the same in Turkey. And what was peculiar to us then was that our government saw its placement of missiles near another nation's border as provocative.

So now we fast forward to today and discover that the US has activated its missile defense shield supposedly for the purpose of stopping missile attacks from Iran on Eastern Europe. The problem here is that there is still no such credible missile threat from Iran. Rather, fear has caused some to deduce that if Iran has ballistic missiles, then there is a good chance that it would use them. Alternative explanations for such our missile defense shield do exist. One such explanation was givern by Noam Chomsky back in 2008 (see here):
The main specialist they called in, I think from the Pentagon or somewhere, pointed out, accurately, that a missile defense system is essentially a first-strike weapon. That is well known by strategic analysts on all sides. If you think about it for a minute, it’s obvious why. A missile defense system is never going to stop a first strike, but it could, in principle, if it ever worked, stop a retaliatory strike.

So now we should understand Putin's concern regarding the American placement of a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. 

Fortunately, the response by Russia's leaders in 2016 to the activation of America's missile shield near the Russian border  has been more restrained than the responses made in 2008 (click here, there, and there again). But unfortunately, America seems do demonstrate a deliberate obliviousness to how many of its actions could be seen as threats and  provocations. Again, an example of such an actions was our placement of nuclear missiles in Turkey which preceded and percipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 was. Thus, the activation of the US missile shield in Romania is proof that American swagger is back. Unfortunately it shows that we haven't a clue regarding the risks that that swagger puts the world in.

In addition, regarding Iran, it would, in principle at least, stop it from developing any deterent capacity to a first strike from one of its enemies like Israel. So that Iran would be at the mercy of Israel or some Western nation. and it would be more likely that the missile shield could make Iran more susceptible to threats, extortion, and attacks from the West. It is not likely that this attempt to stop Iran from developing a deterent capacity would totally succeed since there are multiple ways Iran could use to retaliate such as employing terrorism on our soil. 

In the end, all of these acts of provocation and responses are simply another way of the world's leaders playing the dangerous game of Russian Roulette. And while we are too busy worrying about guess who is coming to our bathrooms and trying to battle real threats like ISIS and imaginary ones like Iran's nuclear capabilities, this new threat to our present and future has, for the most part, gone unnoticed by the general public.




Monday, May 16, 2016

ONIM For May16, 2016

Christian News

World News

Pick(s) Of The Litter



Friday, May 13, 2016

How To Fool A Liberal And A Conservative

Currently, there is a major scuffle between liberals and conservatives over who can use whose bathroom. Joe Carter (click here for bio) has addressed this issue in a recent article posted on the The Gospel Coalition website (click here for the article). One of the most recent headline grabing events is the suit and countersuit involving the federal government and the state government of North Carolina over bathroom use by transgendered people. And just as some lawyers who benefit the most not from winning a case but by continuing it, it is time that we face the fact that both liberal and conservative leaders benefit more from our culture war like the federal and one of the state governments suiing each other than in winning the battle.

Now Carter gives the story a typical conservative treatment. For example, nowhere in his article does Carter tell us that the medical field considers gender classifications to be continuous rather than discrete values (click here). Nor does he really address the marginalizing experiences of those from the LGBT community. It isn't simply the case of a man using  a woman's bathroom as if he can anytime he wants to peek at women. For here Carter seems unaware of the long process that men and women who are seeking gender reassignment must undergo.  Nor is he aware of the numbers in which transgendered people are using the bathroom of their new gender identity choice is so rare that without articles like his, we might very well be unaware of the problem. 

On the other hand, as much as the government rightfully wants to defend the rights of those in the LGBT community, the government also needs to show a little more sensitivity to those for whom the new status of transgendered people is a culture shock. So the more the government justly pushes the rights of one side without showing any sensitivity to the other side's legitimate discomfort, the more government can be portrayed as a bully.

In the end, those who benefit the most out of the current conflict are, on one hand, Christian and other conservataive leaders and, on the other hand, liberal leaders. Christian and other conservative leaders who oppose those going through the process of being transgendered from using the bathroom associated with their new gender identity benefit because they can portray themselves to their followers and potential followers as brave souls who are swiming upstream to defend the rights of their fellow conservatives. Likewise, those liberals who insensitively push the rights of transgendered people to use the bathroom associated with their adoptive gender identity can sell themselves to their followers as courageous crusaders who seek to slay the dragons of opposition to the progressive agenda. In other words, the leaderships of both groups benefit more from the conflict than from ending it.

How is all that the case? Though LGBT rights is an important issue, it doesn't address the faulty structures on which society is based. The conflict has no potential to  change our economic and political systems. Regardless of who wins that bathroom battles, we will still be under the whip of an exploitive economic system that tartgets people for either abuse or neglect. And regardless of who wins the bathroom battles, we will still have a two-party political system where both major political parties receive significant contributtions from those with wealth who wish to write our laws. And regardless of who wins the bathroom battles, our society will still embrace a militaristic mindset and thus as long as the candidate of one's choice, supports America's empire and American exceptionalism abroad.

And none of the above includes the choices our society makes regarding living and working for a cleaner environment.

So as long as we remain mired in these culture wars, the bigger battles will be neglected by those leaders who pretend to save us. But in the end, those immediate leaders are doing nothing more than supporting wealth and power. And for as long as our immediate leaders support wealth and power, we will suffer far more from what we neglect than what we pay attention to.




Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For May 11, 2016

May 3

To Bruce Fronen and his blogpost on the diminishing role of religion on the public square as illustrated by the Obergefell decision. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

This article has two problems. First, it conflates two distinct cases: Obergefell v Hodges and Little Sisters of the Poor. In one, the court is deciding whether religion can be used to deny people who have other beliefs from practicing a right to same-sex marriage. In the other, the court is deciding if it should force a religious institution against its will, and thus possibly violate its rights, into paying for contraceptives.

Second, this article uses a straw man for its argument. The public square allows for religion to be used as a basis for law. For example, when Martin Luther King Jr. campaigned for civil rights and economic justice, people did not mind that he based his case on religion because he was campaigning for the recognition of rights for all. So why is religion being seen as the enemy to rights in the Obergefell vs Hodges case? Because here, the religious dictates of some are being used to possibly deny or not recognize the rights of those who believe differently.

When religion is used to share society with others as equals, religion has been welcomed on the public square. But when it is used to deny equal rights for one or more groups because a religious group wants to dictate what all in society must do or be prohibited from doing, providing that what is being done does not violate the rights of others, that religion is held up for disdain and rightly so since society is made up of all kinds of believers as well as nonbelievers.

Finally, it is the Church's job, not society's to warn people of God's judgment. To make it society's job is to subject society to the Church. Don't people in the Church realize that if they wanted to be subject to the Church, they would join it?

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May 5

Should note that two other comments were accepted on the article's discussion prior to this one. Normally, I would then not post this comment, but the ideas referenced in this comment are important. So credit should be given to R. Scott Clark for his posting of the other two comments and that he did not post this comment is understandable.

To R.Scott Clark and his response to me stating that we have rights other than those stipulated by The Constitution. This was part of the discussion in the article on the 10 million Americans. This was posted in the Heidelblog

Dr Clark,
First, thank you for the conversation.

Second, statement  'that is profoundly wrong' is a bit ambiguous because I am not sure whether you are saying that in response to my first paragraph, my second one, or the whole note. Please  note that I didn't limit the rights we had to what was explicitly stated in The Constitution. I put in conjunction with that that rights that are recognized could be derived from what was written in The Constitution

I fully agree that the Bill Of Rights is not exhaustive, morally speaking. But when it comes to the law and court cases, I don't know of a single right that has been recognized by SCOTUS  apart from what is written in The Constitution. Perhaps you could provide an example where SCOTUS recognized a right apart from The Constitution

Third, not sure why you referred to the 2nd Amendment. A literalist interpretation of that amendment would always put the right to bear arms in the context of the nation's need for a militia and The Constitution was very explicit on who pays for the arming and training of the militia and who is the commander of the militia. Recent cases on the right to bear arms still use the 2nd Amendment as a basis regardless of whether they use a literalist interpretation or not. BTW, the other parts of The Constitution strongly indicate that the anti-Federalist position on the right to bear arms is not Constitutional. Nor is the anti-Federalist position supported by the historical context that called for the writing of The Constitution

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May 6

To Joseph Sunde and his blogpost denying that America is a Christian nation while asserting that the Church as an organism should try to influence society and the state. His blogpost referred to the book One Nation Under God. This appeared in the Acton blog.

I have to agree with the basic idea that we have always been living in exile. The notion that America was ever a Christian nation has always been false. But the idea that America is a Christian nation does not belong to that of liberal theology--though I can't remember a liberal theologian who ever claimed this--alone, in contrast to what Russell Moore stated. Nor did it start with the Christian revisionism of David Barton and others like him.

The idea that America was a Christian nation really began with the first settlers and our nation's Founding Fathers. After all, didn't these people regard America as a 'city on a hill' and a "new Israel' (see http://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/the-colonial-view-of-america-as-a-new-israel )? Indeed, these references might be what Barton and others were referring to when claiming that America is a Christian nation. We should note, and the following is from the same reference just cited, that the belief that one's nation had a covenant with God existed before the Puritans landed here and was thought to be referring to England. It is quite possible that referring to one's own nation as a Christian nation or one that has a covenant with God is an expression of self-aggrandizement and that all of us are vulnerable to this weakness.

But Sunde wants to make an important distinction between America not being classified as a Christian nation from America not having any significant Christian influences. This is an important distinction to make. In doing so, he refers to a distinction made by the book One Nation Under God by Bruce Ashford and Chris Pappalardo. 

In that book, the authors distinguish the Church as an institution from the Church as an organism. The Church as an institution refers to how the Church an organism. As an institution the Church in its official capacity does not address issues of politics. But the Church as an organism can because the Church as an organism consists of the church members as they go out into the world an work as individuals.

The problem with this distinction is that it doesn't address the issue of how much control should the Church try to exercise over society and its laws. For if society's laws are nothing more than a repeat of parts of the Scriptures or Church laws so that those who have different beliefs have their rights infringed on, does the source of those laws, that is whether the source is from the Church as an institution or the Church as an organism, matter? The issue here isn't really which part of the Church is trying to influence the state, the issue is whether the Church is seeking a privileged place in society that would give it the ability to control society's laws to the degree that society does not equally belong to all of its members..

A different template to follow would be that of whether the Church is looking to share society with others as equals or whether the Church wants to establish a dominant position in society when it tries to influence society. We should note that not only should it not matter that the Church as an institution should try to influence society, at times it must. We should note here that in the 1933 Concordat between the Nazi government and the Roman Church, the Nazi State prohibited the Roman Church as an institution, and this was extended to the Protestant Church too, from intervening in politics. Hasn't history taught us that there are times when the Church as an institution must speak out against the sins of the state and society?

Perhaps a positive model regarding the relationship between the Church and the State could be found in Martin Luther King's activism. First, we should note that King worked against racism, war and militarism, and economic injustice. His activism was overtly Christian and thus he was trying to influence society's way of life and laws with the Gospel. And since he was a minister who worked with other ministers and Christian organizations, we could say that his work was, at least partially, an example of the Church as an institution trying to influence society and the state. 

But there is also a difference in how King tried to use his faith to change the then existing laws and culture. King worked for changes that expanded freedoms and promote equality. Recent Church as organism has been tribal in terms of what freedoms it is defending. Thus, the Church has been seeking privilege for itself rather than freedom and equality for themselves and others. So perhaps King provides us with a more Gospel honoring model for how the Church should try to make its mark in society and the state than the model provided by the book referred to in the article above.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost on Christianity and the development of Capitalism. This appeared in the Acton blog.

There is a real problem not with just what was written above, but with the conjunction of the above article with what has been previously stated in prior blogposts on this website. What has been emphasized on this website is the economic freedom and liberty for those who own businesses Certainly the consolidation of wealth poses a threat to the rest. But how can the consolidation of wealth and a non-exploitive interest rate be maintained under the flag of economic freedom. For the more economic freedom or liberty there is, the more people who own businesses are free to make as much as they can. The income of those who excel in a business where there is at least a very good demand will have opportunities to build up to exceptional levels. And thus you have the consolidation of wealth.

Likewise, the more economic freedom there is, the more a lender can charge as high an interest rate as he/she can get away with. The higher the interest rate charged, the more the lending approaches usury. 

So how does all of this involve Christianity? It involves far more than what was written above about Bernadine and his approval of lenders charging interest and developing the concept of capital. How this involves Christianity depends on which side of the economic freedom issue one comes down on. Now if all in society belonged to the Church, the Church could set standards that would prevent the consolidation of wealth and the practice of usury and could discipline those who violate those standards. But ultimate Church discipline consists of excommunication which involves expelling a person from the Church while that person remains in society and that would mean that not all of society would belong to the Church. So that leaves the government responsible for monitoring the consolidation of wealth and the setting of interest rates. But such would approach contradicting much of what has been written on this website about economic freedom and liberty.

In reality, we have multiple branches of Christian thought on capital and wealth. But considering that wealth and capital involve spheres outside of the Church, the Church's influence on the accumulation of wealth and the setting of interest rates is partial at best and depends on a number of societal, including governmental, factors.

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May 7

To Denny Burk and his blogpost on where we are going with gender identity issues in society. He references an article by Joe Carter that says the current trend to put gender on a continuum puts women at risk for gender discrimination. Burk’s blogpost appears in Denny Burk’s blog.

Shared with Joe Carter’s original article on May 9 on the Gospel Coalition website but the comment was blocked there too.
https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/justice-department-men-can-be-women-too

I don't think Carter's article is accurate regarding the Justice Department's actions regarding  gender classification. We should note that self-referencing when documenting claims about a group, which is what Carter does when documenting his claims about the LGBTQ community, is of no help in proving one's case.

Yes, gender has now been put on a continuum and we know from the Scriptures that this is wrong. But we just don't live in the Church, we live in society and society contains a mix of both Christians and  nonChristians. And we have nonChristian institutions recognizing the gender continuum and that continuum in no way resembles what  Carter began to list such as the 51 gender categories on Facebook.

For example, take the Mayo Clinic's approach to gender in how it  defines and responds to gender dysphoria (see http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/psychiatry-psychology/mayo-provides-integrated-care-for-people-with-gender-dysphoria ). According to its own article, the Clinic no longer recognizes gender as being discrete classifications. Instead, it puts gender identity on a continuum but not in the same way Carter hinted at in his article cited above.

As for bathrooms, why the NC law is inadequate could very well be because the questionable bathroom selection is for others besides those who have had the surgery that has changed their gender. It is for those who have yet had the surgery but are living life as being a member of the other gender because doing so is a prerequisite for that surgery.

As for the possible discrimination that Carter sees, we should note that that standard has a double-edged sword in that women are trying to break anyway. Here, we should think of the examples of women trying break into a man's world where physical demands are an issue such as where women are trying to become worthy of being assigned to combat units and to special forces. Anyway, how many jobs are there that demand that a person must lift objects of a minimum weight? I don't see where this discrimination is going to come into play from what Joe described. BTW, we should note how women are still facing gender discrimination in society outside of laws that determine who can use which bathroom.

We know as Christians that the current gender definition trend is wrong. But such does not imply that it  should be unacceptable in society. That is because society is a mix of both Christians and nonChristian.  Perhaps, we should rely on Christian methods here to answer the mistakes currently being made by our society rather than trying to control it. And by Christian methods, I am referring to the different ways we can use word of mouth to share the Gospel. In that way, we can both draw a line in the sand while respecting the equality of nonChristians in society who do not see gender issues in the same way we do.

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May 9

To Bradley Birzer and his blogpost about Communism and the killing fields of Cambodia. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

Considering that the Khmer Rouge instituted one form of Communism and that Communism, like most if not all kinds of isms, is not a monolith, the title and article itself lacks nuance. This is a typical conservative assessment of Communism/Socialism/Marxism that takes away from the positive qualities of the article above. For example the mentioning of Nixon's carpet bombing and how it contributed to the eventual rule of the Khmer Rouge was informative as was a specifics on Pol Pot. However, describing Cambodia as a stable nation during the 1960s was not entirely accurate seeing that  its ruler, Sihanouk, was deposed in 1970 in a military coup and had become more authoritarian from when he began his reign in 1954. Should note that Cambodia had to resist post World War II French attempts to reclaim its colony.

However, in suggesting that all Communism is the same, other factors are often overlooked when discussing certain Communist regimes which either contributed to the authoritarian rule of  those on the Left. In almost every, if not all, instances of totalitarian Communist rule, the kind of government that preceded the Communists were authoritarian whether we list Pol Pot's time in Cambodia to Mao in China to Castro in Cuba to Lenin in Russia. And yet, the authoritarian rule of the previous governments are never mentioned when Communism turns authoritarian. Nor is the fact western aggression to new regimes or emerging movement is most often not mentioned as a factor. Of course the above article is an exception to that rule. But in each case that Conservatives like to bring up about Communism becoming totalitarian, Those two factors are rarely mentioned.

I am not defending the horrendous rule of Pol Pot or of his ties to Communistic ties to Mao and that they identified themselves as Communists. They should be written about as Pol Pot's rule was written about above. But with the Paris Commune and the Spanish Revolution serving as counter examples to Conservatives' generalizations about the Left and with Western, especially American, policies to  destabilize and subsequently overthrow  Left Leaning governments that emerged from democracies, and the replacing of those regimes with dictators puts into question the broad-brushing of  Communism/Socialism/Marxism as always resulting in tyranny.

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May 10

More than for other blogposts I comment on, it is important to access the blogpost to see what I am responding to.

To Joe Carter and his blogpost containing 6 Hayek quotes on important subjects. This appeared on the Acton blog.

Let's assess each of these six statements.

1.    On Faith in Freedom: What is said here is true. But we also need to note that there are two kinds of  freedom: group freedom exercised in democracy and individual freedom. And it seems that conservatives who follow Hayek's economics are more tolerant of the decisions that result from individual freedom than from group freedom. And that is true for good reason. The two can sometimes collide.

2.    On Equality: As with the first statement, there is something that is missing. What is missing is a statement about equality by the law. It is easy to support the idea that we must all be equal under the law.  But equality by the law, I need a better term to express this concept, says that the law is written so as to protect the sharing of society with all others as equals. Thus, the laws that are passed that avoid both giving some groups privileges over the rest and marginalizing groups in society.

3.    On Democracy: If we pay attention to Hayek's argument for a limited democracy, we'll note that he views democracy as posing the greatest threat to government. Along with the example he provides, it seems that he, along with Madison, believes that government's purpose is to protect wealth--though he calls it the 'market place.' We should note how democracy differs from the market place. When working correctly, democracy is based on a one person, one vote system. The market place is based on a one dollar, one vote system.

    We should also note here that democracy is a rival to Hayek's belief in individual freedom as preventing the consolidation of power. But it seems here that the only consolidation of power Hayek is concerned with is consolidation in the public sector, that is government authority. He seems not to be concerned with the consolidation of power in the private sector. His consolidation of power in the private sector must not be confused with Democracy because the latter distributes power rather than consolidates it. Thus, the more limited a democratic government is, the more that power can be consolidated and used by elites from the private sector.

    We should also note that democracy is the only avenue by which there can exist the self-rule of a group by its members.

    Finally, if we are going to talk about limited democracy, it should be placed in the context of talking about a full democracy. A limited or partial democracy states that a specific subgroup has control over all others in the group or society in terms of self rule. A full democracy all groups share society as equals and thus share a certain power that protects that equality.

4.    On Wealth and Power:  What is implied in Hayek's statement here is that he seems to equate power with authority. And thus, according to him, he believes that it is far better for the wealthy, or private sector elites, to acquire power than those who are powerful, that is those from the public sector, to acquire wealth. And this belief begs the question of a significant character difference between both groups where those with wealth are deemed to be more reliable and are more trustworthy than those with power. Along with his view of democracy, it is clear that Hayek favors that those with wealth should rule over the rest. With that being the case, whose freedom is Hayek most interested in?

5.    On Private Property:  Two points to note here. Like individual freedom, the use of private property is not, nor should it ever be, absolute. Consider owning a car. Owning a car doesn't excuse you from certain maintenance responsibilities designed to keep your car safe both for your own sake and the sake of others. The same goes for the ownership of all private property. When someone's ownership of private property can hurt the welfare of others or infringe on their rights, then society, hopefully through a democracy, has the right to step in and infringe on how one owns and uses his/her property.

    We should also note what Martin Luther King said of property rights (see http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm):

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

According to King's statement then, Hayek proposes an economic that is unable to rid the world of racism and war. It is assumed that the purpose of Hayek's  statements here is to expand materialism.

6.    On Ignorance::   One should note here that the more one pleads for the liberty of others, the more one must plead for democracy. But such contradicts what Hayek said about democracy--see point #2 of Carter's blogpost article. Democracy is what best protects us from the consolidation of power because it protects us from the consolidation of power  in either the public or private sectors.  For the more we have democracy, the more power is distributed amongst all of us. But the more one stresses individual liberty at the expense of democracy,  the more  one pushes for powerful elites from the private sector. And perhaps one of the reasons why Hayek doesn't see this is because he did not see the difference between power and authority.