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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What We Could Have Said

Two key events gripped our nation and it seems that, according to the blogs, religiously conservative Christians, like myself, missed opportunities to be honest with everyone including ourselves.

The most recent event was the Supreme Court's decision to declare that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right. The Court's decision was certainly valid and welcomed by many. However, many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians (a.k.a., Christian Fundamentalists) responded in a variety of ways that were neither wise nor productive. Some were claiming that the sky was falling while others tried to calm the seas  of restless souls. Most expressed an anticipation that we will be marginalized in some way because of this decision.

The bulk of opposition to the decision by religiously conservative Christians was that the Court's decision was wrong because their assessment of same-sex marriage is wrong. But such misses a Constitutional question: In the area of marriage, do we have a Constitutional right to be wrong. After all, we allow for other people of other faiths religious freedom and we view their religions as wrong. So why not give those who believe that same-sex marriage is valid the right to be wrong?

But what was missing in our response, especially in those reactions that anticipated a blowback effect on Christians, was any acknowledgment of the harm and suffering we have caused many people from the LGBT community. After all, it wasn't too long ago when homosexuality was a criminal offense. After its decriminalization, people in certain states could legally be harassed and even terminated from their jobs because of their sexual orientation. Then we oppose any legislation that would make same-sex marriages legal and where that failed, many of us tried to pass Jim Crow type legislation that would allow businesses, in a Capitalist economy, to deny business services to same-sex couples in the name of our religious liberty, not the religious liberty of those same-sex couples who disagreed with us.

Because we are so focused on who is right on the issue of same-sex marriage that we lost sight of how we were hurting people. Indeed, some of us religiously conservative Christians might have thought that it was our calling to punish these sinners who practice homosexuality. Thus, their pain was not an issue for us, their repentance and public recognition that we were were right were the pressing issues of the day.

Just perhaps, the anticipation of hard times and marginalization made by some religiously conservative Christians might be a way of admitting that we had done wrong by hurting others. But that is not a sincere kind of admitting we were wrong and that we caused others undue pain.

If we wish to  right our wrongs and gain back some credibility too, we will ask for forgiveness for how we have hurt those in the LGBT community with our self-righteous intolerance. But don't hold one's breath for that kind of repentance.

The other event was the nation-wide call for the taking down of the Confederate flag in the public square. This call has been way overdue. It is quite apparent that regardless of claims that the flag is displayed to show pride in one's heritage, such is impotent to wash away the blood stains of a hateful racism that continues to cling to every fiber of the flag. 

What triggered the call for the repeal of the flag from government buildings was the tragic hate-crime perpetrated on a small church in South Carolina where a White racist, in cold blood, slaughtered a number of Black parishioners. We should note that while religiously conservative Christians were near unanimous in calling for the removal of the flag, we missed a couple of points. 

The first point we missed was that the Confederate Flag is nothing more than a symbol of racism. Tearing down symbols, though giving us a sensation of moral empowerment, are merely superficial when not accompanied by more in-depth changes. We need to not only take down a historically significant symbol of racism, we need to dismantle racism itself.

Reducing racism is deceptively difficult. For we often think that all we have to do to eliminate racism it is to directly address hatred of those who belong to other races. Martin Luther King Jr. saw that reducing racism was a more involved problem than that. For in his speech against the Vietnam War, King said the following:
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.1

When we read the last sentence King's statement here, we will note that he believed that one could not reduce or eliminate racism by addressing racism alone. One must also address the accompanying problems that are inseparable from racism. Those problems are materialism and militarism. We should note here that there are a variety of ways to express this idea.

And the above is the problem for the Conservative Christian Church in America. We believe that we can isolate racism from these other problems. We can't. That is because it is difficult for us to admit that we must address materialism and the economic system that pushes us into it as well as tone down our militarism. But we are too invested in both. As a result, we, according to King, will never fully address racism even though we might act against it in certain ways.

We religiously conservative Christians have had our first chance in reacting to the two landmark events of the legalization of same-sex marriage and the the national calls to take down the Confederate Flag and we have failed. But we will have more chances to react to those events so perhaps it might never be too late change and say what we should be saying about same-sex marriage and the Confederate Flag.

Reference

1.  http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm


 

 

 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For June 24, 2015



May 27

The first entry here is not a comment blocked on a blog but an unpublished letter to the editor of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church's monthly publication New Horizons

Regarding Carl Trueman's article on the Church in Exile because of society's changing moral values in June, 2015 edition of New Horizons

To The Editor,

Carl Trueman goes 1 for 2 in his article The Church In Exile. For while he scores points with suggestions about how we Christians could build our own identity, he seems to lack the curiosity to examine why opposing same-sex marriage would bring society's scorn.

My personal experience is that while some from the LGBT community will detest any opposition to same-sex marriage, most have not. Almost all of my friends who are gay respect my holding to Biblical convictions regarding same-sex orientation even after I have shared my beliefs with them. Yes, they disagree, but they respect me because we treat each other as equals. 

What we can conclude by comparing my personal experiences with how many Conservative Christians have reacted to same-sex marriage is that there are two ways to oppose same-sex marriage and equality for the LGBT community. Either we can oppose this 'identity' by sharing what the Scriptures teach but tolerate it in society or we can add to our words efforts to either legally prohibit same-sex marriage in society and deny its participants equal rights.

If we choose the latter option, note that people could be reacting to our attempts to at least partially do to the LGBT community what Dr. Trueman is warning that society might do to us for opposing same-sex marriage. And regardless of the model of thought we use to belabor the Christian view of marriage, promoting a dog-eat-dog relationship with others can only hurt our Christian witness.



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June 17

To Denny Burk and his blogpost mentioning the Southern Baptist Church's resolution on same-sex marriage. This appeared in Denny Burk's blog.

It seems to me that the Southern Baptist use of the notion of the 'public good' has a similar role to the Reformed use of 'natural law' with regard to this issue: it is a backdoor approach to Christian control of society.

At the same time, the Southern Baptists wish to defend the 'religious liberty' of those who agree with the Biblical definition of marriage. So here, the Southern Baptists seem unwilling to admit that it is not defending the religious liberties of others when it calls on the Supreme Court to uphold the traditional view of marriage.This practice of defending one's own liberty while denying that of others has an unfortunately sufficient history in the American Church. The same can be said of promoting Christian control over society. This exceeds the NT principles, such as what can be implied from Paul's comments in I Cor 5 or Jesus' comments about Church discipline, of the Church's role in society. 

And what is more injurious to our public witness to Christ is that while we do what we can to prohibit the liberties sought by some who disagree with us, we are silent on the economic exploitation that is part and parcel to America's capitalism, we show little regard for the destruction to the environment our way of life is causing, and we are afraid to speak out against nation's wars and militarism. In other words, we enthusiastically pile on the sins of the individual while we build fences to protect the societal and system sins from which we see an immediate benefit. And our self-righteousness prevents us from seeing the truth and thus the rub that is apparent to so many others.

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To George Weigel and his blogpost criticizing the Ireland's democracy for legalizing same-sex marriage. This appeared in First Things.

It is certainly true that democracy consists of more than just majority rule. Such can easily result in a tyranny of the majority as in an ethnic tyranny, religious tyranny, or an economic class tyranny. However, the missing ingredients to democracy need to be reconsidered. One reason why is because economic freedom can easily result in the last tyranny mentioned--economic class tyranny--even when a particular economic class is not the majority. And such is what we are witnessing today as economic interests have established undue influences on both how our elected officials behave as well as who is elected. We might also add that what is called a 'vibrant moral culture' must be better defined for moral claims to legislation can become backdoor approaches to establishing a religious tyranny. We should remember how our nation started when 9 of the 13 colonies had state churches or when some used religious beliefs to justify practices such as slavery and Jim Crow. Behind the calls unqualified calls to economic freedom and vibrant moral cultures can lurk the shadow of authoritarianism.

Perhaps what should complete a democracy is a public ethic that determines how we will share society. And that public ethic would state that all groups would seek to share society as equals rather than being determined by the survival of the politically fittest. For when how society is shared is determined by the latter principle, we only show that the values that run our society are more determined by the principles of our competitive, do-or-die economic system. Here, commitment to equality is discarded as a worship and embracement of superiority is welcomed. And we should note that it isn't ironic that the Weimar Republic elected a candidate who promised to rid the country of democracy and diversity in order to let the superior lead the country into glory. After all, didn't Germany see itself as being superior to other nations even before WW II. In addition, the party to which this candidate belonged campaigned on a return to traditional values. And we should note that the Roman Church agreed to a noninterference pact with this party in the name of anti-Communism.

Yes, democracy cannot be reduced to majority rule. But what needs to be added to majority rule to make a society democratic is much more and perhaps even different from what was added here.

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To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote of Stella Morabito who claims that logic is being killed resulting in the death of freedom. This blogpost quote appeared in the Heidelblog.

Reading the article linked to, one quickly realizes that the writer is practicing what he condemns: the use of propaganda to influence people. For unless he can build a case as to why same-sex marriage is a propagandized idea, not only does he beg the question he encourages an ideological tribalism that requires the use of propaganda. 

Such brings us back to a de facto definition of propaganda: Propaganda is what our opponents say. Of course there is logic in that statement, but here it is the motivation that is the problem, not the presence or absence of logic.

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June 22

To Russell Moore and his blogpost stating how the Bible and the Confederate flag are to antagonistic to each other to be paired together. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition Website.

I am thankful for the denunciation of the confederate flag. But those who would object to the U.S. flag can voice more objections than just slavery. In fact, racism still is a problem and it is partially supported by institutions though in a different way than supported before. Take a look at our current incarceration practices for example.

Or has America repented of its imperialism? Remember that it was George Washington who referred to our nation as an infant empire. That empire's expansion was first at the expense of America's indigenous people. Did our nation repent of that? And then we move across the seas to further expand our empire and made declarations such as the Monroe doctrine. Of course, we could ask if America has repented from supporting tyrants who either favor our business interests or have become proxy rulers?

Of course there are the military and other interventions in which our nation has participated. Sometimes the targets of these interventions are democratically elected leaders and democratic processes. We could mention the business-motivated pre-WW II interventions cited by former Marine Corp Major General Smedley Butler or the 50+interventions after WW II. Has our nation repented of its militarism?

And then there is our global capitalism. For that capitalism has quickly and dramatically increased the supply of low-skilled labor both globally and locally driving wages and working conditions down. And please read that the vast majority of the recovery from the 2008 crisis has gone to those who caused the problem in the first place.

And then there is the combination of our economy with our way of life and their effects on the environment. Have we repented there?

Other sins/problems could be cited and the question is where's the repentance? So perhaps those pointing the U.S. flag have a valid point when they equate it with the confederate flag. And just perhaps, like those past defenders of slavery and Jim Crow, we too have wed what the Scriptures teach with the sinful and harmful practices just listed.





Tuesday, June 23, 2015

To Share Or Not To Be, That Is Our Question

It has been said by notable peace activists like Martin Luther King Jr. that we have a choice between violence and nonexistence. But considering that the presence of violence is almost always preceded by conflict and conflict almost always revolves around an unwillingness to share, it seems that we should clear as to the choice we have to make.

Our choice is between sharing and nonexistence. The more we share with each other, the less reason there is to undertake risky ventures that could cause us to destroy ourselves and each other. However, the less willing we are to share, the more risky behaviors we will exhibit and the more likely we are to make ourselves nearly extinct. 

What we seem most reluctant to share are power and prosperity. An example of when power is not being shared can be seen when one group tries to dominate another. In America, we see some Conservative Christians being unwilling to share power equally with those from the LGBT community. This is most evident in the resistance my fellow religiously Conservative Christians exercise to same-sex marriage. In trying to prohibit same-sex marriage in society, Conservative Christians are not just trying to cement a privileged place for themselves in determining society's laws, they are trying to push those from the LGBT community to the margins. In other words, my fellow religiously Conservative Christians want more power for themselves and less power for those from the LGBT community.

An example of those who are not willing to share prosperity with others can be seen by those who favor restrictive entitlement limits for those who live on public assistance. Knowing that they will have to foot the bill for these entitlements, those working to cut public assistance provisions for those in need demonstrate a reluctance to share prosperity. The same can be said about employers who underpay their employees. We have a serious problems with corporations underpaying the lower-skilled employees to the point that such employees must apply for government assistance. And when these employers also work to avoid paying taxes, they are showing a reluctance to share prosperity.

And of course, the choice is not limited to an exclusive either-or choice between sharing power or prosperity.  We can see plenty of businesses that benefit from political favors show that they refuse to share both power and prosperity.

So far, we have been speaking rather abstractly about the reluctance to share within a society or nation. Such a reluctance can threaten the longterm existence of such a society or nation. For example, when the French aristocracy had the government move the tax burden from themselves to the peasant class, it helped spark a vicious and bloody revolution.  But such a problem can exist between two nations. The longterm fight between Israel and the Palestinians provides such an example. Israel's insistence on obtaining exclusive ownership of more and more land has given birth to a brutal cycle of obtaining of land via oppression by Israel's government  with a response consisting of an insatiably immoral series of terrorist attacks by some Palestinians. 

Currently, terrorist groups have made inroads into African nations because of how energy resource corporations look to abstract natural resources from certain African nations by making sure that the wealth from these natural resources are only shared with a few people in power.

And we might ask: What determines our support for the Saudi Arabian government and our resistance to the Venezuelan government? Is it not because the Saudi government is more supportive of our aims for how their resources will be controlled while the Venezuelan government is not. Here we have precedents to go by. When the Mossadegh tried to implement a policy where Iran would be in control of its own natural resources, both Britain and the United States orchestrated a coup and replaced him with a friendly them tyrant to his people. A very similar story could be told about Guatemala in 1954 and Chile in 1973. There are other nations in which this has occurred as well.

We should note that the title of this blogpost stated that the alternative to not sharing is nonexistence. That is because of the violence that can follow the refusal to share can be so great that few if not all can survive. And the only conflict in which that kind of violence can occur today is the battle over the Ukraine where a nuclear-armed NATO is opposing and trying to steal the Ukraine from nuclear-armed Russia. And because both powers have a substantial number of nuclear weapons, it is easy in that conflict to see that our options are limited to sharing and making peaceful agreements or nonexistence.

However, other conflicts are on the horizon. With the advancement of technology, it is quite conceivable to expect "terrorist" groups to some day obtain WMDs and use them. Or if we don't destroy ourselves through wars using WMDs, we could very well destroy ourselves by refusing to face the implications that pointed to by changes in our environment especially with changes in the atmosphere and the oceans. The sharing problem implicated here is one that says if we are to cut back on our carbon footprint, then we will have to share more and keep less for ourselves if we are to help those in need from third world nations if they are to progress.

What most threatens our existence, either in the short run or the long one, is this refusal to share. If we can't reverse that trend, then the end of meaningful human life on this earth becomes inevitable. And the question for us has become whether we are willing to share to head that crisis off at the pass.




Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For June 17, 2015

Please note that for around a month the posting schedule will change on this blog. There will be a post every Tuesday and a post on Wednesdays when feasible.


May 29

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost calling climate science a fad. This appeared in the Heidelblog.

The biggest challenge that comes with climate change doesn't revolve around science, it revolves around materialism. Those who cannot accept the possible changes in life that acceptance of climate change demands find reasons for denying both the facts and possibilities. Facts such as the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans, the increasing number of dead zones in the oceans, or the thawing of the tundra along with the release of greenhouse gasses such as methane that comes with it. Possibilities include the approach of a tipping point from which there is no return and the climate changes that comes with it.

A scientific approach would look to test the possibilities. But those addicted to materialism or for other reasons who support the status quo deny the facts around them and refuse to consider the possibilities that exist. 

The history cited in the above article above does not address the facts and possibilities associated with climate change. Rather, the above citing of history is a power play; it is an attempt to claim authority over science and thus the issue of climate change. The history cited above demands that the audience trusts the Church and Christianity over those in science. It is a variation on a theme seen when Galileo and Copernicus were condemned by the Church because what they were saying was stealing the Church's thunder.

We shouldn't be surprised about power plays such as the one exercised by this article because the history of the Church is replete with such examples of the Church. And such examples show the Church using its authority to serve wealth and power whether that wealth and power is the Church itself or some other source. And for the West, wealth and power are best served by preserving the materialism that comes with our economic system. And part of that materialism includes eliminating the chains of social responsibilities that come with the former standard definitions of the word stakeholder. 

A stakeholder is anyone impacted by a business. And with that definition comes business' responsibility to listen to and consider the interests and concerns of all the stakeholders involved. Isn't the cutting of social responsibilities what we see when jobs are switched overseas to sweatshop factories or when the environment suffers from how we extract fossil fuel resources such as in the mountain top removal of coal? Are we keeping regimes in Africa in power because of the freedoms they are bringing to their people or because of the economic gains our businesses obtain from their tyrannical rule? And isn't that what we see when our materialistic and consumeristic way of life leaves many deprived while it is possibly killing the future of our descendants?

And while we fight against homosexuality and same-sex marriage as if our lives depend on it, we say nothing about our unjust wars based on lies conducted by our own nation, the economic exploitation of Capitalism, and the destruction of the environment caused by our economic system and our way of life. In other words, this article tells us to keep the status quo by being apathetic to the welfare of others and thus obedient to those with wealth and power because there is nothing to fear about the future. Ironic that such a message should be pronounced by a theologian when those in the Old Testament who preached similar messages were called false prophets.

And what is the key apologetic here that preserves the hope that we don't have to change? That 100% of the scientists don't agree. Of course, that apologetic ignores the actual percentage of scientists who are sounding the alarm.

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June 14

To Steve Hays' May 26 response comment to my comment saying that my analogy of Nazi suppression of rights was incoherent in defending equal rights for those in the LGBT community. This appeared in Denny Burk's post on gay marriage being against Christian teaching in denny Burk's blog'

Steve,
Incoherent? All I wrote was that the Nazis opposed recognizing some groups because they oppose their vices is hardly incoherent. And drawing an analogy to the denial of equality to those in the LGBT community for the same reason is hardly incoherent. Remember that it was the Nazis who were into suppression. 

What we need to distinguish is the moral demands we are to put on fellow believers from the moral demands to be put on society. The moment we cannot make that distinction is the moment we confuse the roles of both society and the Church. The argument that many conservative Christians have made against recognizing the equality of those in the LGBT community is that their immoral sexual orientation causes them to forfeit any claim of equality in society. Thus, you say that I am comparing unlike things.

But in a land based on religious liberty, who am I to say that those in the LGBT community are not my equals in society? And considering that Paul follows his Romans 1's comments about homosexuality with Romans 2:1, who am I to look down on those in the LGBT community. And I mention this because this is what it is all about: It is about the insistence made by some conservative Christians that they are above, and thus have the right to suppress, those in the LGBT community. Some Conservative Christians are claiming to be the morally superior people. And with that, we return to the Nazis and not only their suppressions of others, but the reasons why they felt entitled to the right of suppressing others. That is certainly not incoherent.

Finally, totalitarianism works against 2 kinds of liberty: individual liberty and group liberty (a.k.a., democracy). We find that our fellow conservative Christians oppose both kinds of liberties for those who are different than themselves. In the end, we find many fellow Conservative Christians to be suffering from xenophobia. In itself, that isn't a bad thing; but it does hurt our witness to the Gospel.

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June 16

To Joe Carter and his blogpost on the Pope, global warming and Catholics. This appeared in the Acton blog.


Perhaps we should note that the real resistance to responding to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in both the atmosphere and the oceans comes from those who want to see as few to zero restrictions on businesses and their activities. In other words, the real resistance to global warming comes from hawkish supporters of Capitalism who believe that eternal growth is possible in a finite world.

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To Elise Hilton and her blogpost about a coming cultural implosion that will be the result of a lack of faith. This was posted in the Acton blog.


This article would be easier to take if it were not for history. HIstory has taught us that followers of Jesus Christ, if how they have treated others is a reflection, have not always been all that happy. We can think of our country's early days when 9 of the 13 colonies had state churches. The presence of state churches often included religious intolerance to varying degrees of other denominations and religions. And we could include with that intolerance the choice of many Christians to favor mammon over morals in their support and practice of slavery as well as their part in the ethnic cleansing of the land of America's indigenous population.

Fast-forward to today and we see that the Conservative Christian definition of religious freedom still includes protecting intolerance as practiced by these same Christians. Only here, the target is the LGBT community whose moral standards qualify them as having a lesser rather than equal status in society--that is according to many Conservative Christians.

Again, if happiness is measured by how we treat others, then the claims made above about the highest level of happiness coming from faith in Christ are contradicted by the actions of many Conservative Christians.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Where Does The American Conservative Church Fit In Here?



In the above video, Noam Chomsky emphasizes how, in elite-centered governments whether they be modeled after Lenin's rule or that of State Capitalism, public opinion must be controlled. The general public, especially in a democracy, must be put into a state of 'apathy and obedience' so that it does not interfere with those with power. 

When the general public is not apathetic and obedient, Chomsky goes on to say, there exists a problem with democracy. The problem with Democracy, however, is a vexation only for those with power because the problem with Democracy is that power is more equitably shared. And it often accompanies turbulent times where people experience a sense of urgency to 'press their own demands.'

Thus, some view the job of institutions is to nip the problem of democracy in the bud: that is to return the general public to being apathetic and obedient. Those with power will present and even see themselves as having to do this for the public's good because the public does not know what is good for them while the ruling elites do.

So where does the American Conservative Church fit in here? We might say that concern over personal sin plays a similar role in the American Conservative Church that our economic system does for most of America in controlling people for the sake of the ruling elites. For just as many Americans have neither the time nor the energy to pay attention to what our political and economic leaders do because they are too busy trying to earn a living, so focusing on personal sins has so preoccupied many American Conservative Christians that they are unable or unwilling to follow and then analyze what our leaders are doing. 

An illustration of the focus that the American Conservative Church has put on personal sins can be seen in how it has reacted to the same-sex marriage issue. For whether one goes to Conservative Christian blogs such as the First Things blog (click here), the blogs associated with the Gospel Coalition website (click here), or Denny Burk's blog (click here), or whether one goes to the publications of conservative denominations like that of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (see here), interaction with society is largely reduced to trying to control its sexual mores. Thus, our exploitive economic system, our current destruction of the environment, and our bend toward war and militarism all fly under the radar of concerns for many American Conservative Christians. 

But it isn't just the personal sins of others that cause us to be too fatigued to resist societal and system sins, it is our own personal sins and how they interfere with our quest for holiness that rob us of the energy or desire to pay attention the sins practiced by the groups we belong to and by many with wealth and power. And that is regardless of the fact that society and our nation often violates the Biblical prohibitions against murder and theft when it practices injustice against others. Somehow, we don't see some sins when favorite groups practice them as we see them when individuals do.

As a result, our hyper-concern with personal sin, whether that be the sins of others or ourselves, can cause us to be numb to respond to societal or system injustices forced on ourselves or our neighbors. And all of that is enabled by most American Conservative Christian churches.

But we also must count the silence practiced by the American Conservative Church regarding economic exploitation, environmental destruction, and war and militarism as a passive way by which the American Conservative Church encourages its members to remain apathetic and obedient to those who abuse power. Expressing too much concern over group social sins will cause many American Conservative Christians to accuse one of following the 'heresy' of the social gospel. And what many American Conservative Christians who make such accusations seem unaware of is that to neglect to express these concerns at all ignores the injunction of Romans 12:2 where we are told not to conform to the world. If we don't resist the sins of those with wealth and power, we become complicit, if not worse, in their sins.

One of the many tragedies coming from the American Conservative Church practice of creating apathetic and obedient  subjects to power is that its reluctance to preach truth to power gives many unbelievers reasons not to listen to the Gospel.

For as much as the American Conservative Christian Church enables its members to be apathetic to working for social change, the more this Church serves power and wealth; the more it serves the interests of ruling elites. Thus, the American Conservative Church seems to have fallen into a state that it claimed to fear the most: the state of being regulated, however informally, by and ruled over by either the State or elite private sector power.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For May 27, 2015


May 21

To Denny Burk and his blogpost calling the legal action against a Christian family bakery an effort to ruin them financially because of their refusal to provide services to same-sex weddings. This appeared in Denny Burk's blog.


If the family business was being sued for denying their business services to a particular function for Blacks or Hispanics, would we label the suit an effort to cause financial ruin? And yet when those in the LGBT community sue a business that is, in their view, participating in the marginalization of their community, why is that suit portrayed as an effort to ruin a family business?

To me, the issue here isn't one of agreeing/disagreeing with the plaintiffs in the court action. It has to do with the one-sided effort to market that court action to the public.

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May 22

To Joe Carter and his blogpost lamenting about how Robert Gates called on the BSA to accept gay troop leaders. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

What is the broader principle of which Carter is writing? Is it that we should discriminate against gays in society?

Where the Conservative Church has failed here is that it has made indistinguishable the Biblical teachings on sexual morality from calls to publicly discriminate against those in the LGBT community. Had we paired the Biblical teachings on sexual morality with a defense of equality for those in the LGBT community, we could have seen a different public reaction to our beliefs.  But some were determined that that was not meant to be.

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To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost about how a Christian Jeweler had to refund money for jewelry made for a Lesbian couple after they learned what his beliefs about their sexual orientation were. This appeared in Heidelblog.

Is it possible that the reaction of the lesbian couple in the story is at least partially due to past, and even present, treatment of those in the LGBT community by the Conservative Church? After all, the Conservative Church has been in favor of criminalizing homosexuality, firing homosexuals from certain jobs because of sexual orientation, prohibiting same-sex marriages, and Jim Crow laws allowing Christians to discriminate against either those in the LGBT community or specific events. Do we honestly believe that that our past treatment of those in the LGBT community has had no negative or embittering effects on some from the LGBT community. 

In addition, why Dreher entitle the article in black-white terms. Yes, some from the LGBT community have not showed me respect. However, my experience has been that the vast majority of those from the LGBT community have treated me with much respect and as an equal even when they know what, because of the Bible, I believe about homosexuality.

It seems that some in the Christian community want the Church to unite around a persecution complex. That simply is not right. However, making people feel persecuted is an easy to manipulate them.

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May 26


To Joe Carter and his blogpost about 5 facts about Memorial Day. This appeared in the Acton blog.

The problem with Memorial Day does not have to do with the sacrifices some of our service people have made, it has to do with why they were sent in harm's way in the first place. And that problem is maintained when we copy what is said to us that our troops are always defending our freedoms. The problem with that assertion is that whether our troops are defending our freedoms depends on why they were sent into harm's way in the first place. Vietnam is key example the assertion being wrong since our losing that conflict has not affected any of our freedoms.

So what other interventions are there of other reasons than to defend our freedoms? Did we invade Afghanistan to defend our freedoms? If so, why did we team up terrorist groups to do so? How about Iraq? How is it that our troops were defending our freedoms in Iraq when the invasion was based on lies? The list of conflicts that need be examined here can be quite long if we include with our invasions all of the coups and other interventions we participated in.

The trouble with Memorial Day is not due to the valor of our troops. Rather, it is because our leaders have chosen to use our troops' valor as a moral shield to protect their policies. And they count on days like Memorial Day to compensate those who made the biggest sacrifices. And they do so as long as the policies that caused some of our troops to sacrifice the most go unexamined.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost on why it's everybody's responsibility to interpret The Constitution. This appeared on the Acton blog.

It is every citizen's duty to interpret The Constitution. Of course this doesn't mean that all interpretations will carry the same weight. And with interpreting The Constitution, the points made above are valid. The problem is that how people use the points above, especially point #3, will vary as much as how people interpret The Constitution itself.

Let's give an example. Conservatives look at point #3 and say that our founding fathers were looking to establish a limited federal government with an emphasis on states' rights. Those on the Left will point out historical facts that Conservative don't mention when asserting the original intention of the founding fathers: namely that the Constitution was written in order to expand the Federal Government's power to respond to insurrections such as Shays Rebellion. Also, the end of Federalist #10 seems to see The Constitution as emphasizing the Union over the states.  In addition, while some Conservatives claim that The Constitution is based on the Bible and the Judeo-Christian faith, Leftists will point to both the historical context of The Constitution as well as documents like Henry Knox's letter to George Washington and the Constitutional Debates to claim that The Constitution was written to maintain the class status quo.

Thus, using the 5 point guide above, especially point #3, does not make interpreting The Constitution any easier or more uniform.




Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Day After Memorial Day

Sometimes one gains a better perspective of an event or celebration after it is over. Hopefully, that is what has occurred with me on the day after Memorial Day.

It seems to me that we are in too much of a rush to make the following point: Our troops defend our freedom. But how can one argue against that statement without, in someway, tarnishing the sacrifices they have made? This especially applies to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

And so we pile on accolade after accolade onto our troops. And it isn't as if they don't deserve our deep appreciation and respect. After all, our troops readily make sacrifices that many of us could not fathom let alone make ourselves. So here is the point. Whether our troops are defending our freedoms and whether those who died in action died for our freedoms really depends on why they were sent into action in the first place. Vietnam provides for considering that point. For we can easily observe how losing that conflict did not, in any way, affect our freedoms here. And when one considers the dangers and hardships our troops and their families must face, that they are not always sent to defend our freedoms is an outrage. So we might ask ourselves about what other conflicts were our troops ordered into action for other reasons than defending our freedoms.

But this automatic response, spoken as if in a trance, stating that our troops are always defending our freedoms shows what we might really be celebrating when we celebrate Memorial Day. Unconditionally declaring that our troops are always defending our freedoms indicates that we are celebrating those troops who immediately follow orders regardless. And it is that automatic and unqualified submission to authority which we could be celebrating on days like Memorial Day.

Even for the most devout Christian must recognize that there are  times not to follow the orders of those in authority. The Apostles who were ordered not to preach the Gospel declared that they must obey God rather than men provides one such example. And so when our troops are ordered into action for reasons other than defending our freedoms, it is time for our troops to question authority. It is time for them to learn so that they understand why they are being told to go to foreign places and fight certain groups or nations. It is time for them to understand why they are being told to kill those from other lands and to destroy the homes of people from other countries.

For without that understanding, what we have left to celebrate after our troops enter a fight is their unconditional willingness to follow orders. Such a willingness poses a great risk to the world when taken by those who serve in the most powerful military in the world.