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This Month's Scripture Verse:
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil -- I Timothy 6:9-10a



Monday, November 30, 2015

ONIM For November 30, 2015

Christian News

World News

Pick(s) Of The Litter

Debate on Pornography: Can Porn Be Good For Us

  1. Opening Statements
  2. Rebuttals
  3. Closing Statements

Friday, November 27, 2015

Being Thankful For Bathsheba At Thanksgiving

I would like to suggest that the story of David and Bathsheba (click here) brings some relevance to how we should celebrate Thanksgiving. Why? It is because there are common themes between how we have procured bounty in this nation with how David was able to get Bathsheba to be his wife.

For those who don't know the story, during wartime, David saw Bathsheba. David sent for Bathsheba. David knocked up Bathsheba. And to hide what he did, David had Bathsheba's husband, Uriah, killed in battle so he could marry her. So for David to have Bathsheba for his wife, he had to steal and kill.

Now let's fastforward to Thanksgiving Day, this year. We will be giving thanks for the great bounty some of us still have opportunity to enjoy. We have homes to live in and places to visit. We have plenty of material blessings. We have plenty of food to eat. And we have nice clothes to wear. But what had to happen for us to have all of that?

That question will most likely not be addressed in Conservative Christian blogposts. It certainly wasn't addressed in the following articles: Marshall Segal on what happens after Thanksgiving (click here), Erik Raymond on a Thanksgiving prayer (click here), or Erik Raymond's blogpost asking if one is a thankful person (click here). The titles pretty much explain what each article is about. And yet, there was no mention of the theft and murder involved with the blessings we have. In fact the first article links receiving blessings with faith. To its credit, that article does mention how, because of our sins, we do not deserve the blessings for which we should be thankful. But that did not deserve line seems to be due to our personal sinfulness and not how our society became so wealthy. 

And all of this talk about how the physical blessings we will be giving thanks for are the result of theft and murder seems to go against the grain of Erik Raymond's article asking if one is a thankful person. For such talk seems to answer the question he asks about whether one is a person who complains with an affirmative. And in his other article cited here, he thanks the Lord for the rich bounty we enjoy. He did not mention the price others have had to pay for our bounty.

Finally, we need to be specific regarding how the bounty we have is due to theft and murder. Here, this blog will provide only a partial list of how theft and murder procured our blessings. Of course we start of with the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans from the land. So we stole their land and killed some of them while taking what was theirs. For almost the first half of our existence as a nation, much of our wealth was the result of slave labor. So here, we might want to think about all of the people we stole from their families in Africa and how they either died either in transit or as a result of the conditions of their slavery or how they suffered to make others wealthy. Then after the Civil War, our wealth increased as the result of prison labor where many Blacks were arrested because of their skin color. In addition, the railroads that traversed our nation were built while exploiting the labor of workers who came directly from China as they were paid significantly less than other men who helped lay the tracks.

The above is just a partial list of how  theft and murder was used in the past to make this country rich. But what about today? We can start with prison labor again as some companies make significant profits from using such labor while the prisoners receive hardly any compensation for the labors. Or we could talk about how a significant amount of our food is provided in some way to us by trafficked and slave labor. Or we could talk about how many of our clothes as well as some of our electronic gadgets, which we use for work or play,  are made in sweatshop factories. We should note that both trafficked and slave labor along with sweatshop factories also exist in the United States. Some of the services we enjoy when at a restaurant or fast food place are provided by those who are being paid poverty wages. And some of the big box items we buy are at stores that pay their employees poverty wages.

We'll stop there. But the above should show us how much of the bounty we receive and should be thankful is the result of the same causes that allowed David to marry Bathsheba. All are the result of exploitation of others. And so the question remains: How should we be thankful for those goods that are ours because of theft and murder?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For November 25, 2015

A preface for this edition of Comments Which Conservative Block...

  1. Please note that the same amount of editing that goes into a regular blogpost is not put into the comments. Thus there will be more errors in the posts of this series than the other posts on this blog. So please be patient when coming across those errors.
  2. The size of the posts in this series will gradually get larger because I am blocked from commenting on more blogs now by administrators. I inquired as why the latest website blocked my comments but received no answer. So judge for yourself why I would be blocked.

Nov 17

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost about a 2-Kingdom approach to the law. This appeared in hiedelblog.

Let's be honest, though what the Westminster divines said about the godhead and soteriology could be adequately described as being  less influenced by  culture and more influenced by the Scriptures, the same cannot necessarily be said about the second table of the law. For example, what is missed in the quoting of the Westminster divines is Chapter 23:3 of the Westminster confession are the statements saying that kings were to punish blasphemies, heresies, and corruptions. The end effect was so that all of the 'ordinances of God' be observed. The above contains a  modern adjustment to WCF 23:3 not what the divines wrote..

We should also note how Calvin implemented the 2 kingdoms. For he had no qualms about finding, prosecuting, and persucting to the point of death those who were witches or heretics. So the question is how much do we want to use Calvin as a guide for what the Church should expect from or demand of the state. We should also note in his writings against the Jews, Luther, a 2ker in his own right, called on German society and princesses to punish the Jews for their continued unbelief.

We should note that regarding the law, Acts 15:10 makes a general statement about the whole law within the historical context of the Church determining whether a ceremonial part of the law requiring circumcision should be practiced. Vs 10 clearly states that the Church should not require its members to follow a law that nobody had kept up until that time including the apostles with the exception of Jesus of course. Thus we saw a letting go of the ceremonial law because of how it foreshadowed Christ's passion and an adjusted version of the civil law that was made far more flexible than what was stated in the Torah, rather than total elimination of it, as well as the requirement of the 10 commandments. Here we should note that some reformers, such as Martin Luther,  believed that keeping the law concerning the Sabbath was not in effect in the literal way that other reformers who were following Calvin believed.

But such brings us to the Christian "theonomists" some who are said to be on the left and others on the right. The problem here is that not all Christians on the left who call for justices are theonomists nor are they looking for some Messianic age. Some are merely looking for how we can improve life on this earth and thus take a more flexible approach to the civil laws, much like the NT Church did only the Left focuses on societal sins rather than personal sins. We should note that some of those civl laws were applications of God's moral laws especially laws that prohibited murder and theft. So what many on the Christian left did was to extract principles inherent in many of the civil laws that revolved around the prohibition against murder and theft and applied them to their respective societies rather than enforce them completely and literally.

Now it is true that Marx and many of his earlier followers, especially those who  lived in the early to mid 20th century and before believed in Marx's utopian dreams. Those Christians who mixed Marx with their faith could be accurately described as hodling to state-Messianism. But it would a gross overgeneralization and oversimplification to say that all Christians on the political left expect a state-Messianism. Why? While early Marxists attributed deprivation to the distribution of goods to the bourgeoisie, others focused on the building of community within the state as well as holding to what Chomsky calls the principle of universality. That principle states that how we judge others is how we should judge ourselves and vice-versa. This applied to what we gave ourselves license to in how we treated others as well as what we prohibited others from doing to us. 

Martin Luther King Jr., a person who opposed Marx but recognized the legitimat issues he was bringing to the table did well in describing the basic fault that could be applied to both socialist and capitalist approaches to society. King stated that if we are going to be on the correct side of the 'moral revolution,' our society must be a 'person-oriented society' rather than a 'thing-oriented society.' We should note her that King's move away from materialism is more consistent on socialism than capitalism. And such should raise red flags for Christians living in Capitalist economies.

Finally, we should note the serious flaw that exists in reformed 2KT. That serious flaw is that while the Church is free to beat up on the consciences of individual believers for their personal sins, the Church has no right to correct society torcorporate sins sins. And with the conservative Church's obsession with sexual sins,  the Reformed Church dishonors the Gospel not by trying to legally prohibit some new sexual sins while remaining mute over issues of slavery and imperialism with some empires being at least partially build on human exploitation and theft of land.


Nov 18

To Russell Moore and his blogpost asking if whether we should pray that ISIS be converted or defeated. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website

Can we  pray for both? The article above is correct in answering with a yes.  As a group, we should want ISIS to be defeated. But since ISIS consists of individual people, shouldn't we want these people to believe in Jesus? That we should is an excellent point made in the article above. We should note that Martin Luther King Jr took a two-prong approach to his enemies. He wanted to win them over. But for those who refused  to be won over King wanted their behavior to be controlled to be controlled by the law.

At the same time, we can never afford to forget about the Wests's legacy of practicing its own evil in order to gain oil, profits, and strategic advantages.


To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on Christians being called exiles and strangers in this world. This appeared in Heidelblog

I think most of what was written above was good. But the following line needs more refinement:

Our most ultimate citizenship is in heaven but our citizenship in this world is truly important. 

Some have used that important worldly citizenship as a justification for treating people who share their own ethnic or national identity with preference over those who don't.


Nov 19

To Gaye Clark and her blogpost of when they helped an African-American woman with some problems by having the woman live with them. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website

One of the most important lines written in this article is below:

Racism is better understood when experienced than when explained.

That is especially true when we have a stake in having racism no longer being an issue. The other parts of the article are important to but in a different way. One of the things we must constantly draw people's attention to is the continued existence of racism.


Nov 20

To Benjamin Watson and his blogpost about racism. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

We should note that racism is nothing more than another form of tribalism. Other forms of tribalism include nationalism, classism, ideological tribalism, and religious tribalism. Tribalism includes believing that one's own group is superior. Watson mentions this above with regard to race. But we should oppose the other forms of tribalism as much as we oppose racism. And racism must be opposed as strongly as possible.

According to Martin Luther King Jr., there is one more part of racism that was not included above. In speaking 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.

So according to King, we will have racism for as long as we count things as being more important than people. That is something for a consumer society to think about.


To Joe Carter and his blogpost on what we should know about Syrian refugees in the light of the attacks on Paris. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

There is something else we should note about the Syrian refugee problem and it has to do with the attacks on Paris. According to a recent Washington Post article, not one of the known attackers were from Syria. Rather, they were all citizens of Europe.


To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote of William Buckley Jr as he criticized Yale’s economics education for not glorifying the individual. This appeared in the Heidelblog

So is Buckley saying that it is less idolatrous to glorify the individual, disparage government and community for that matter, play in the hunger games, and to encourage self-reliance while denying the interdependencies that are inherent in the system?


Nov 21

To Caleb Greggsen and his blogpost that comments on terrorism and its effects. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

There is one more response to terrorism that is necessary, but not mentioned. That response is when it is your own country that is practicing terrorism against others. What about our drone missile attacks that either cause collateral damage or, perhaps, target innocent civilians? What should a Christian's response be to those?

And if we are going to include Christians being beaten or robbed as acts of terrorism, why not include when our own government supports brutal dictators who beat and imprison their citizens for political reasons?


Nov 23

To John Courts and his blogpost associating the Syrian Refugee problem with the Arab Spring movement in that nation and quoting an Orthodox Church official who stated that Arab Spring was the result of misguided American foreign policies. This appeared in the Acton blog.

Misguided American policies caused the Arab Spring? That is difficult to believe since American policies backed those with power with whom they were doing lucrative foreign aid business. That was certainly true in Egypt and in Tunisia. It wasn't true in Syria since Russia cornered the military aid market there. And American policies didn't start the Arab Spring in Tunisia. That started with self-immolation of one of its citizens and that was precipitated by living conditions.

The Arab Spring in Syria was inspired by successes in Tunisia and Egypt, but became violent in response to the government's  violent response including the conducting of a massacre. Other groups joined including some in the military that took the original peaceful movement into a violent reactionary direction.

Btw, we should note that the Ocuupy Movement started in places like Tunisia and Egypt and that includes Occupy Wall Street (OWS). The preparation for OWS on Sept 17, 2011 occurred prior to the event when activisits from places like the Middle East and Spain came over here to teach activists how to make decisions and run meetings. I remember my first participation in the Global Justice Working group of OWS because of what seemed then to be almost a majority of people having come from other nations, particularly Middle East nations.

But here, we should also consider the source. As in Egypt, except when the Muslim Brotherhood was in control, the state Church, that is the Orthodox Church, has supported a strong-arm dictator simply because that dictator provided protection for the Church. Thus, out of self-interest, the Church in Syria, that is another Orthodox Church, has supported a tyranical regime because that regime kept it safe from religious extremism. Perhaps, this is just one of the reasons why some in Syria's civil war want to target Christians. With the help of these Christians, they have associated the Church with a brutal tyrant.


To Joe Carter and his article about what we should know about the Syrian refugee controversy. This appeared in the Acton Blog.

Perhaps Carter should update his sources. According to a Washington Post article, an article that is more recent than the one Carter cited regarding the refugee-attacker with the Syrian Passport, all known participants in the Paris attack were Europeans. A fake Syrian passport was found and its appearance is now believed to be the result of the attackers's attempt to throw off the investigators regarding their identity. A link to the Washington Post article I am referring to is below:


Editor's note: Please see more recent news articles than the one linked to above to see if any Syrian refugees have been implicated in the Paris Attacks. The date of the article linked to above is November 17


To Matt Smethurst and his blogpost on how Christian history can benefit us. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

What is missing in this blogpost is the obvious that Church history can also disillusion us. Yes, this article is about how Church history can benefit us. But a warning label about how it can also disillusion us or, at best, teach us that we are all sinners must be attached to any legitimate church history study. When we consider the political maneuvering, intolerance, and violence practiced by Church leaders and heros throughout the history of the Church, it is sometimes more difficult to be inspired by them than to be repulsed. I experienced this reaction as I occasionally taught a World Religions class when I use to teach. 

And there doesn't seem to be much difference in the Church's behavior today as the Church latches on to political parties leaders that show them favoritism even though the same visits violence and injustice on its own citizens and abroad.


To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost telling us to silently submit to the civil authorities regardless of how unjust they are. This appeared in Heidelblog.

Besides the gross generalizations made about student protesters and Islamists (a.k.a., Muslims), I've protested with both and found your descriptions to be wanting in even the majority of instances I've been involved in, you given contradictory insturctions regarding our submission to the civile authorities. See, on the one hand you tell us to silently submit to even the most unrighteous authorities and yet you tell us to lell us to love everyone, including those who are suffering even gross injustices at the hands of the same authorities. And you do so forgetting the different historical context in which we find ourselves from the time of the apostles.

I know there is an exception to your rule here. That exception would be if the authorities told us to disobey God. And we have the examples of Daniel, Meshack, Shadrack, Abendigo, as well as the Apostles, to name a few,  to thank for that.

But what about when we see a civil authority practicing injustice. Are we to silently submit to that injustice and let others be harmed and abused? See, how is it that we can silently submit to authorities unrighteously oppress our neighbors while loving our neighbors at the same time? After all, you did tell us to love others. And how is it that we can honor the government and not tell them that they are practicing injustice?

Now you have already stated that Paul and Peter gave us these instructions under some of the worse circumstances and there is no argument there. But if honoring the Lord is an important reason for the Christians to obey the Civil Authorities back then regardless of how horrible they were, does doing the same today honor the Lord or does it cause outsiders to not want  to listen to the Gospel or even want to persecute Christians? If you don't believe the latter situation, please realize that one of the reasons why Christians have been persecuted in places like Syria and Egypt is because they support tryanical leaders in exchange for security. Here, Christians invite those in the Middle East to oppose them for their support for Israel. And in the old South, remember that Christians not only supported slavery at one time, they supported Jim Crow and it was civil disobedience that helped eliminate the latter.

If we were to never disobey the civil authorities as they practiced injustice, how would Moses have survived childhood? How would the OT prophets have challenged their kings and their nation about the injustices they were practicing? 

And what about the change in historical context between then and now? After all, were not the Apostles first concerned about the spreading of what was to the world then an unknown Gospel. So Paul used his impriosnment to go to Rome to preach. And Peter told people to submit so as to not bring dishonor to the Gospel. Well, hasn't the Gospel been spread throughout the world? And aren't we living in democracies now so that we are at least partially responsible for the sins of the state officials we elected? And since when has remaining silent in the face of gross injustices brought honor to the Gospel or has been a way of loving one's neighbor who is being unjustly treated?

It seems to me that the hermeneutic that says we are silently submit to unjust gov'ts today is one that reduces God's description of our relationship to gov't to that which was preached by Peter and  Paul while forgetting the rest of the Scriptures as well as not applying all of the Scriptures to new historical contexts to both the state of the Gospel in the world as well as the new responsibilities Christians have in democratic societies.

On the other hand, we have some nonChristians who, out of love for neighbor, challenge the government when it oppresses others and thus risks the consequences of so doing. This leads to two questions. First, how is it that our neighbor will, under these circumstances, not perceive the nonChristians as being more loving and outer-directed than the Christian? And how is it that Conservative Christianity, for the most part, has fashioned a practical theology that tells its followers to support status quos that benefit those with wealth and power while remaining silent about their sins? In other words, and in the words of some of my liberal and leftist friends, how is it that the Conservative Church has become anything else than an institution of indoctrination to maintain the status quo for the benefit of those with wealth and power? Perhaps if you just loved your neighbor, you would have interpreted Scriptures more accurately than what is done in the article above.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Getting Burned By The Bern

When Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist, started his presidential campaign, a seminary friend from way back asked if we could get together to discuss his campaign. Since we live 6+ hours apart pending traffic, we've have yet had that discussion.

How Sanders defined Socialism was a mystery for a while. We Socialists knew that he was not talking about Socialism as we know it. We knew that right away by his foreign policy statements. His foreign policy statements support the same old, same old. But why he was different from us in domestic issues was a little difficult to pin down. After all, we all wanted some of the same benefits. But Sanders recently gave a speech that further clarified the differences between him and real socialists (click here for the speech). And now it is easy to identify the differences between us.

While Sanders wants to define Socialism by the benefits he is promising, benefits that conservatives define as Socialism, he never addresses the key concern of Socialism: the nation's political-economic structure. Instead of telling us how we can change the structure of both our political and economic systems, Sanders wants us to look forward to the past. He wants us to see him as a reincarnation of FDR. But therein lies some problems.

The first problem was one that was admitted by FDR himself. The purpose of some of the programs he instituted was to save Capitalism from itself (click here). By redistributing wealth, it was apparent that one of the deadliest enemies of Capitalism was the wealth disparity it created at that time. Does that sound familiar? Thus, by instituting a more equal distribution of wealth, FDR was actually protecting the handful of the richest from the rest. 

On the other hand, Socialists want to dismantle Capitalism. They want to undo it. The first redistribution they want is that of power. They want workers to have more power at work and not just in terms of wage negotiations. I think it was Noam Chomsky who said something to the effect that there is no sense in talking about political freedom when the tyranny at the workplace. Do we honestly think that those who are best at commanding the workplace for their own profit will not also try to control our nation's politics when there business success at partially depends on it?

The next problem we have with Sanders is that suppose he is elected and puts through the programs he wants, what prevents the next elected president from undoing his work? If our political structure doesn't change, then his changes are more at the whim of the next President and Congress. Here, we should note that many of FDR's programs have been under attack for quite a while. And it is quite possible that what has sustained his programs this long was the context in which they were started. The combination of the Great Depression and World War II pretty much cemented his programs for the then immediate future. But such will not be the case with any programs Sanders institutes.

An old friend from college made this observation. That most Americans are not represented by their government because our elected officials do not share our occupations. The three most common occupations held by members of Congress are lawyers, public servants/politicians, and business people (see here). This leaves many occupations under represented, if represented at all, in our government. How are teachers and social workers represented in our government? How are factor workers or those working in information technology represented in our government? How are those who have trade skills represented in our government? Or how are housewives represented in our government? We assume that our representatives will represent the region that elected them. But our regions are not monoliths and thus many are not represented at all because the view of what serves the region is that of the lawyer, politician, or businessperson. We need to change the structure of our government so that people from other occupations are well represented too.

In addition, those with money bought our government and so our elected officials now serve them (see here). And while Sanders promises to eliminate the influence of money on government, he belongs to a political party that is part of the problem of being sponsored and controlled by money.

Perhaps where we get burned the most by the bern is how Sanders, whether intending to or not, is acting as a sheepdog candidate. That Sanders has significantly different positions than Hillary Clinton, who is the likely nominee, is insignificant. If Hillary is nominated, he will support her candidacy rather than support the candidacy of a 3rd party candidate whose positions are more like his. Thus he is being used to bring as many strays back into the fold of the Democratic Party as possible.

This means that Sanders' campaign helps prevent nonconservative 3rd parties from eventually becoming competitive in the elections. For such parties can only become competitive incrementally from year to year until finally enough defections from the 2 major parties allow these 3rd parties to garner a significant percentage of the vote. Those who wait to vote for 3rd party candidates until their respective political parties or the candidates themselves become competitive are taking a passive-aggressive approach to changing our political system.

In the end, Sanders claims he is a Socialist by the benefits he promises to bring to the country. And we should note that some of his promised benefits are very laudible. But with those benefits, Sanders wants/needs the power that FDR had to get Congress to do their job. And in the end, it is that centralization of power in the hands of a few rather than a distribution of power among workers and others who do not belong to the upper economic class that distinguishes Sanders from real socialists. In addition, it is that cenralization of power that would allow Sanders to maintain the status quo set by his predecessors.

Monday, November 23, 2015

ONIM For November 23, 2015

Christian News

World News

Pick(s) Of The Litter

Friday, November 20, 2015

Dueling Banjos Play While Syrian Refugees Hope To Survive

What is at stake are hope and even life for those Syrians who would seek to find refuge here. We should note the kind of people we are talking about. The Syrians have already put most nations to shame when it comes to helping refugees. For that is what they did while our nation was creating between 3.5 million to 5 million refugees when we invaded Iraq (clich here). Most of the refugees went to either Syria or Jordan. And as of 2010, at least 1 million of them were in Syria (click here). But now that it is their turn to need help, they're finding that they may have already received their payment from the world with a pat on the back as nations decide whether to  accept them.

Of course there have been Christians weighing in on the issue of accepting Syrian refugees. On the side of being more reluctant out  of sense of fear/responsibility to allowing Syrian refugees here is an blogpost written by Bill Blankschaen (click here). How reluctant Blanschaen is is not quite clear since his post lacked specifics. But by the tone of it, he seems to want the Church and our nation to err way on the side of caution when it comes to allowing Syrian refugees. 

A position that seems, details are lacking again, to be more in the middle are article written by Gospel Coalition writers Kevin DeYoung and Trevin Wax (click here and there). It seems like the purpose of their articles/posts is to at least mention the counterbalance between the two main competing issues involved in accepting Syrian Refugees: the government's responsibility to keep its own citizens safe and secure,  and a call to show compassion to those in need. And finally we have a Christianity Today article, written by Mark Galli, that represents the view that leans toward throwing the doors of our nation wide open to the refugees (click here).

What else do we know or not know. Thus far we know that of Paris assailants who have been identified, not one of them is a Syrian citizen. There was some confusion because of a fake passport that was found in the aftermath of the attack. In fact, not only were the known attackers not Syrian, they were all citizens of European nations (click here). Should we now refuse Europeans entry into our nation?

There is something that we do not know which some of us think we know. In Trevin Wax's article, Wax makes the following statement about ISIS and its terrorism:
As we denounce these acts of violence with every fiber of our being, we cannot ignore the fundamental religious nature of this clash of worldviews. Whether or not we believe the Islamic State to be the inheritor of “true Islam” or a cruel distortion that is ravaging the world, there is no question that theology lies at the heart of today’s terrorist activity.

If the driving forces for ISIS are the same as what the driving forces have been the driving forces for Al-Qaeda, Wax's assessment here needs to be severely challenged. Why? Just by the looks of it, it assumes that the key difference between what members of ISIS have experienced and what peaceful members of any other part of the world have experienced revolves around religion. This assumes that war and failed governments have nothing to do with what created ISIS.  Such is a huge assumption. This was discussed in Tuesday's blogpost (click here).

In addition, what Tuesday's blogpost quoted from Jason Burke's book, Al-Qaeda: The True Story Of Radical Islam states that it is the combination of serious grievances plus a failed and deaf political system along with being on the receiving side of violence that can make one a terrorist, it isn't religion that does that. After all, history shows that representatives of all of the major religions have been involved in terrorism/war. During the British Mandate, Jewish terrorists were attacking both Arab and British targets. In addition, many would easily call Israel's attacks on the Palestinians acts of terrorism too. American Christians have, in the name of patriotism, often supported unnecessary wars such as the Vietnam War and George W. Bush's Iraq War. And of course, allegedly, depending on whom one is speaking with, representing Islam are groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

There are several points to note here. The first point of course, which has already been mentioned, is the alleged ties between ISIS and Islam. That the members of ISIS are Muslims does not prove that ISIS comes from Islam any more than the religious identity of KKK members prove that the KKK is a Christian group--a point that has been made several times in Facebook posts. Again, as in Wax's statement that was examined earlier, such takes for granted the effects that the political and social contexts that were set in a war have on ISIS members and their sympathizers.

Second, we should note that, as Nicholas Wolterstorff often points out, when it comes to helping the vulnerable including the alien, we are no longer just dealing with issues of compassion, we are also dealing with issues of justice. And when dealing with issues of justice regarding refugees, we are no longer dealing with freedom of choice in terms of what we shall share or not share, we are dealing with what do we owe the Syrian refugees. For when we do not give them what we owe, we are visiting injustice on them.

Finally, we should note that there is a point of continuity between taking any other position than a generous one toward allowing Syrian refugees into America and one of the justifications of the Iraq War. We should remember that one of the ways the Bush Administration defended America's invasion of Iraq was that the invasion allowed us to fight the terrorists there, rather than here. And now, many of those who supported that war want to keep Syrian refugees out America for the same reason. It's as if we are saying to the world: 'Yes, we will do what we can to oppose terrorism regardless of the price others must pay as long as we are not attacked on our own soil.' Was it ironic or predictable that the war we fought to keep terrorism away from our doorstep is now, because of its role in creating ISIS, threatening to bring terrorism to where we live. And instead of reflecting on what we might have done to contribute to this new threat, we prefer to externalize evil by how we assoicate the new king of terrorism, ISIS, with either the religion or national identity of those who are different from us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For November 18, 2015

Nov 12

To Mika Edmondson and his review of a new civil rights book by Ta-Nehisi Coates titled Between The World And Me. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

We should note that sometimes, merely pointing out the problems is an accomplishment worth noting. Citing that an author provides few solutions minimizes the work being reviewed. And we should also be clear about the 'theological legacy' of the civil rights movement. That legacy  did not come from white conservative churches. Rather it came from people like King who both theologically and politically leaned away from conservatism. In addition, the civil rights movement saw signficant contributions made by people of all faiths and no faith. Heck, King himself garnered much of his commitment to nonviolence from Gandhi. 

Finally, we need to ask whether the moral arc of the universe is bending toward justice. To answer with 'no' is not to say that that arc won't get there. It is simply an observatiion that some, like Chris Hedges, have made based on what they observe in the world in terms of where it is and where it is going.


To Isaac Adams and his blogpost stating that Christianity offers a better way of dealing with racism than how it was recently dealt with on the University of Missouri’s campus. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

If we Christians had a better way to deal with the racism on Missouri's campus, why weren't Christians employing that way? 

What is neat about what happened on U of Missouri's campus is that a student led protest provided an opportunity for change. And now isn't the time for us Christians to claim that we have a better way of dealing with those problems as if it was a competition. It's time for Christians and nonChristians to work together to address the problems with racism there. And it is in that way, Christians can employ what was described above to affect how racism should be responded to.

BTW, as for the man complaining that the city is the rape capital of the world, one would only need to point to the FBI crime statistics showing that rapes are commited by far more Whites than Blacks (see https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/tables/table-43 )


Nov 13

To Joe Carter and his blogpost on whether one should kill baby Hitler if one could travel through time. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition.

I agree with the jist of this article but for a different reasons. Suppose there was the claim that science could predict the crimes we would perform in the future and suppose science predicted that person x was going to be a mass murderer. Would there be any significant difference between going back in history to kill baby Hitler from killing person x now? 

So though I agree with most of the article, I would say that the main problem here is the violation of due process. This is especially true if we could travel through time, we could transport Baby Hitler to the future where he would have missed his opportunity in history and perhaps would have grown up in a home that would not make him so hostile while we remain innocent of the shedding of what was then innocent blood.


To Joe Carter and his blogpost on Thomas Sowell’s 3 questions that supposed stymie those on the economic left. This appeared in the Acton blog.

First, who is the economic left? Second, I assume that these questions can be asked of any position. So let's give it a go. And what we will do is to look at the raising of the minimum wage for example. Raising the minimum wage increases unemployment is the claim made by conservative opponents of raising or even having a minimum wage.

First, compared to what? We should note that statistics from both Seattle and San Francisco where the minimum wage is being raised or has been raised is not a good comparison for those opposing the raising of the minimum wage. In San Francisco, employment rates have increased slightly after the minimum wage was raised (see http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/studies-look-at-what-happened-when-cities-raised-minimum-wage/ ) and this was favorable when compared with Albequrque, New Mexico which didn't raise its minimum wage. In fact, In other surrounding areas to San Francisco, there was no impact on employment rates. An additional fact was that while food prices at restaurants went up a little, they didn't come close to keeping pace with the percentage increase in wages.

When we look at Seattle, it is important to compare how unemployment fared for the first 5 months with what happened in the  months afterwards. AEI reported a huge increase in the unemployment of restaurant workers from January to June forgetting to mention that the increase in unemployment peaked in May (see https://www.aei.org/publication/minimum-wage-effect-january-to-june-job-losses-for-seattle-area-restaurants-1300-largest-since-great-recession/ ). But since then, employment numbers for restaurant workers jumped significantly exceeding what they were in January when increase in minimum wage started to be measured (see http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/08/25/latest-seattle-jobs-numbers-disprove-foxs-minim/205155 ).

Second question, at what cost should we not increase the minimum wage? Supposing that the conservative mantra that states that raising the minimum wage will increase unemployment is true, the cost is a moral one considering how many who are not making an living wage must live on gov't assistance. Here we prohibited from challenging this capitalist system that gives us a choice between wages too low to live on and more unemployment. Besides the fact that the articles cited above tell us that this is a false choice, there is another moral problem. That problem is that the conservative argument rests on the supposition that workers in fast food restaurants and other minimum wage jobs don't deserve living wages because these are learning jobs designed for kids who live at home or retirees who are already on a pension. In short, what conservatives are telling us is that such food establishments that pay millions to shareholders are able to do so by relying on cheap labor that doesn't deserve any increases in pay. 

One conservative response to this is that manufacturing is the place where people should be able to go to to make a living. The 2 problems with that argument is that manufacturing started by exploiting its workers with low wages until they were forced by entities like labor unions and gov't to increase their pay. Thus, what today's restaurant owners and other users of low wage workers are telling us about why they pay their workers is the same as what factory owners of testeryear were telling people in the past. In other words, both industries were based on low wages, or should we say exploited, workers. In addition, we should note that with the offshoring of many factory jobs, there are not enough factory jobs available to provide living wage jobs to those who are in need.

The third question is what hard evidence do we have? Some of that has already been provided. Where Sowell's conversion to conservative economics occurred for anecdotal reasons


Nov 16

To Denny Burk and his blogpost quoting a Psalm that asks for God to break the arms of the wicked because of how they have hurt the innocent. This appeared in Denny Burk’s blog.

Should we then pray that God would break the arms of those pilots who fire missiles at civilians in Palestine? Should we pray that God would break the arms of those drone operators who fire missiles in countries like Yemen? I ask because innocent civilians are being killed in all those places as well as in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, and Kenya. And in all places, civilians are being killed because they are being targeted by those who recognize no authority over them.


To Mike Evans and his blogpost on how Christians should respond to attacks on Paris by ISIS. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition.

The list of the reactions above is very good. But like most similar lists made by Western Christians I've seen, it misses the same item. We should seek to more fully learn the historical context of events like the attacks on Paris, the terror atttacks on London in 2007, and 9-11. The western tendency is to think of these attacks, especially the 9-11 attack, as being unprovoked first strikes. But they aren't. Not counting the Crusades, the West has been intervening in the Middle East at least since oil became a valuable resource with France and England dividing up parts of the Middle East for their own benefit and with England trying to solve the problem that came about between European Jewish immigrants and the indigenous Palestinian population in what was then called Palestine.

Then America started intervening with the coup that overthrew the democratically elected president Mossadegh in order to install a business friendly tyrant known as the Shah. Other actions included supporting Israel's occupation of the Middle East, supporting business friendly tyrants such Mubarak and el-Sisi in Egypt, the royal family in Saudi Arabia, Saddam Hussein, that is until he invaded Kuwait, in Iraq,, and terrorists like Osama Bin Laden as they violently overthrew the Afghanistan government that was supported by the Soviet Union. Of course, we need to include both Persian Gulf Wars from Bush I & II along with the devastating sanctions that both England and the US forced on Iraq after the first Persian Gulf War. The comibation of that first war and the sanctions are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.

This learning of history is what distinguishes a Christian reaction to the Paris attacks from a myopically Western, religious reaction to the same. This is particularly true when we only react to the attacks in Paris without mentioning the attacks in Beirut and Baghdad that occurred within a day of what happened in Paris or the series of attacks suffered by Kenya throughout this year. Our spiritual response needs to include an educated, reasoned response.


To Joe Carter and his blogpost asking why Christians killed by ISIS are not considered to be victims of genocide. This article appeared in the Acton blog.

Why aren't Christians who are victims of ISIS considered to be victims of genocide? I don't know, but I have similar questions of my own. Why are Palestinians who are either killed or evicted from their homelands considered to be victims of ethnic cleansing? And why were those Iraqis, including hundreds of thousands of children, who died during the sanction years considered to be victims of genocide? One could ask similar questions regarding other instances in our history, but it seesm that the most horrific crimes such as ethnic cleansing of a people from the land and genocide are acts that are only possible for other groups than our own to perform.