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Friday, August 26, 2016

Blog Break

I am taking a seasonal blog break from posting from Friday, Aug 26 thru Tuesday, September 6th. The next new post will be on Wednesday, September 7th. In the meantime, you can visit some of the other pages on this blog accessed through the tabs shown above or the incomplete list below. 

Other Pages

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For August 24, 2016

Aug 17

To Bruce Ashford and his blogpost review of Os Guinness’s new book on how Modernity provides the biggest threat to Christianity and Western Civilization. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

I have respect for Guinness but also feel free to disagree with him. I find that the greatest threat to Christianity is not modernity, in which he includes both modernism and post modernism, itself, it is how we interact with it. For in interacting with modernity, we need to distinguish that from which we can learn from that which we must reject. To deny that we have stuff to learn from Modernity puts us Christians at risk for having the arrogance Martin Luther King Jr. saw in the West during the Vietnam War (see  http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm  ):

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

We should remember or learn how Christians treated each other before Modernity. We must know about how Christians persecuted each other, even to the point of death, and how they treated Jews. In addition, Christians weren't all that Christian toward the indigenous people they discovered when enlarging their Western empires. Even with the beginning of our own nation, many Christians persecuted each other and some defended slavery and/or owned slaves as well as participated in the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans. Western Christianity was basically racist and gives evidence of still being that way today. And Modernity has tempered that and has thus has induced some amnesia as evidenced by how we look at the sectarian violence between Muslims today.

Yes, we need to be alert to how Modernity can cause us to compromise our faith. At the same time, we must understand how Modernity has contributed to the Church in tempering the traits that we so easily condemn in others.

Now if I was Guinness, I wouldn't label Modernity as being the biggest threat to Christianity. That is because of the largest threats Christianity faced before Modernity which still exist today. Those threats are the love of wealth and tribalism. Both of these threats cause us Christians to compromise the faith regardless of the time period in which we live. Both the love of wealth and tribalism provide the biggest threat to Christianity because both so strongly challenge our priorities. And by challenging our priorities, they can cause us either to self-destruct or give into external pressure such as the pressures brought to us by Modernity. His apparent concern for both Christianity and Western Civilization indicates that what Guinness seems to be most leery of are changes in the status quo which are not always as much a threat to Christianity as they are to Western Civilization.

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Aug 18

To Denny Burk and his blogpost citing another article on how our children could be taken away from us over their personal transgender issues. This appeared in Denny Burk’s blog.

I think that the quoted paragraph is an overreaction. There is nothing that indicates the taking away of children over transgender issues. Yes, the medical community supports it, you find examples of that support on the Mayo Clinic website. But such provides and indicator for the public's reaction to those who feel not at home in their gender.

Let's face it, the pendulum has swung so hard in favor of those who hold to biblical values and views of gender that all we are seeing now is a reversal in the swing of that pendulum. And if we are anticipating drastic outcomes from that change in direction, perhaps that is an indicator that we pushed the pendulum too hard and far in our preferred direction.


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Aug 20

To Pat Buchanan and his blogpost on how America is committing suicide. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

There are a number of points that are wrong with Buchanan's article. To start off with, he gives incomplete tax information. Though the statistics he cites are correct, he neglects to provide data on the income for the groups he is comparing. According to the same table of information he uses to quote the tax burden being paid by the top 1% vs the bottom 50%, the income gap is more telling of the story here. An example can be found here in comparing the adjusted gross income per return for the two groups while noting that the number of returns used do not include dependent filers. The average adjusted gross income for those in the bottom 50% for 2013  was $15,013 while the average adjusted gross income for those in the top 1% is $1,243,406. We should also note that while there were approximately 1.4 million returns from those from the 1% bracket, there were approximately 69.2 million returns for the bottom 50%. Here we should note that 19% of the adjusted gross income went to that approximate 1.4 million people while only around 11% of the adjusted gross income went to the bottom 50%, or approximately 6.92 million, of returns (see http://taxfoundation.org/article/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-data-2015-update for source).

But what isn't mentioned at all by Mr Buchanan was the amount of federal assistance or money spent on polices  that benefited the corporations owned by the top 1%. Yes, Mr. Buchanan has a legitimate concern over the growing Federal debt; we should all share his concern. But what are the main causes for this debt? The statistics cited by Mr. Buchanan does not paint an adequate picture of the problem.

Having discussed that, Mr. Buchanan's expressed concern for the survival of the purity of Western Civilization while seeming to speak negatively of diversity and equality does not paint a flattering picture of his view. His view is one that seems to relish a past that lacked self-awareness. Yes, there is a conflict between a group of Trump supporters who share Mr. Buchanan's concern for the survival of the purity of Western Civilization and the rest of the world. Trump's supporters seem to share at least some of Buchanan's picture that past Civilization, a picture which seems to have been taken from the past and has become a focal point of their identity. But having that as the center of their identity puts them at conflict with changes that come from people trying to escape horrendous situations in their home countries. In other words, Trump's supporters are experiencing a problem that has occurred before. Here, we should speculate on how Buchanan would portray America's past if he was a Native American.

We should also note that like Buchanan's treasured past, his present lacks self-awareness as well. All one needs to do to verify this is to  look at the statistics on nations from which the most illegal immigrants come. With each nation, significant ties to the US can be found. from coups to trade agreements.

Mr. Buchanan's final words are about the eventual death of democracy in every nation. According to what he quotes from john Adams, this death is self-inflicted. Perhaps we could console Mr. Buchanan by telling him that democracy is not alone in terms of dying; all Empires eventually collapse as well.

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Aug 23

To Tim Keller, Russell Moore, and Kevin DeYoung and their blogpost discussion on how to speak to our culture about sex. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Though Keller's statements on attacking narratives has significant merit and seems to be the best approach, all of it bears a similarity to Mitt Romney's speeches against Donald Trump in trying to reach those rebelling against an established order by supporting Trump. Though what Romney said about Trump was true, he we ineffectual because he didn't acknowledge the failures of his own group as he is a member of the establishment.

Likewise, though much of what was said, in particular what Keller said has merit, there is no acknowledgement  of the attempts by many Christians to do more than just speak about sex; we've tried to control how others have acted sexually and lived with partners. Of course some controls are necessary. But when saying that, many of us have, with animosity, tried to associate those in the LGBT community with those provide real threats to the community.

In speaking to people about sex, I think we Christians must acknowledge our failures in terms of how we have tried to control others and then we can apply what was said in the video. 




 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Root Of Racism

There is a new emphasis on discussing racism today. The conservative Christian churches are discussing it with one denomination officially apologizing for its racist past. In addition, some see Donald Trump's campaign as bringing out racists into the open--some of those racists are supporting him. And we also have the Black Lives Matter movement that is bringing the subject of racism to the forefront.

But the root of racism is the same as the root of nationalism and Capitalism: that root is seeking to become superior to others. This was stated in the movie Mississippi Burning when the one FBI agent was telling his superior about his father and why his father was a racist. He basically said that his father did racist acts to show that he was better than somebody. 

That belonging to a superior group is where some seek to find significance in life. And while the claim to superiority is most evident in nationalism and racism, it resides in our consumerism as well. For consumerism is not just about the consumption of things for the purpose of pleasure, it is about achieving significance in what and how we consume. We want to consume more or the best of what is on the market while displaying a certain style to prove ourselves. And if we cannot be the best, then we must find some group that is not as good as our group to show that we are not the worst. For last place is the only place in which there is no significance.


One of the results of finding our significance in the superiority of our racial identity is that we work/fight to keep our racial group as pure as we can to show our group's superiority. We should note that mixing the races is the ultimate threat that those who find their significance in their racial identity face. That mixing the races eliminates all competitors by making the participants more and more alike.

We should not look to our culture in finding a respite from this search for significance by proving ourselves over others because competition is everywhere in our culture. It is in our economic system as well as our sports and entertainment world. What is lacking are activities that teach people in how to find significance in other ways than showing one's superiority over others. What we need are more activities that teach people how to find significance in being personally connected to others or in helping others. This finding significance outside of being superior to others is what our culture needs to emphasize and teach more than it teaches us to compete and win. Yes, we can keep our sports and we have to allow for some competition in our economic system. But until we deemphasize winning and being the best as the way to feel good about ourselves, we will look for our significance in either becoming superior or at least in not being in last place. And for as long as looking to be superior to others is an important part of our national psyche, that drive to be better than others will promote racism in our nation.



 

Monday, August 22, 2016

ONIM For August 22, 2016

Presidential Election

Christian News


World News


Pick(s) Of The Litter




Friday, August 19, 2016

What Is Needed To Redeem The Evangelical Movement

Jarvis Williams (click here for a bio) has just written a short but meaningful blogpost on the Evangelical movement in America and its ties to White Supremacy (click here for the article). It is one of those articles that I wish people would read for themselves rather than the review here.

Williams wants to save the Evangelical movement from White Supremacy. But he starts by defining what that supremacy is and listing where it shows in society.
In this piece, white supremacy means the prioritizing of whiteness (i.e. the values, experiences, agendas, and privileges of those socially constructed as white) and the devaluing of or the dehumanizing of black and brown people (i.e. non-white people). This prioritizing empowers and advances the agendas and ideologies of the white majority for the purpose of benefiting the white majority and those who assimilate within the white majority culture.
But white supremacy manifests itself in many ordinary and less explicit ways in society everyday, via economic, educational, housing, and judicial inequality. White supremacy is also apparent by the various implicit biases and micro-aggressions that black and brown people experience in a society that prioritizes whiteness, assumes whiteness as normal, and considers non-whiteness as an abnormality.

If we stopped at this point, we would have plenty to think about. That is because many of us like to define negative traits in ways that exclude our possessing them. For what morally sane person wants to be identified as a White Supremacist. But if we grew up in a nation that claims to be the best nation in history and in a culture that celebrates its ties to that history, supremacy, especially that of one's own group, is assumed. And we should note that from the beginning, America started as a White Supremacist nation. Thus, any pride shown in nation is bound to carry at least some traces of White Supremacy.

So Williams is basically saying that White Supremacy is deeply embedded in our society. And thus it is a problem for any religious movement that has, for a long time, played an important part in defining the status quo of our society--this is despite the fact that Evangelicalism is currently in the process of losing its privileged position in American society. It is also a problem for any group that points with pride to its links to America's past. And this is what the Evangelical movement does especially because of its ties to political conservatism.

Thus, Williams offers 11 obsergesstions--some of the 11 are observations, some of the 11 are suggestions, and some of the 11 are both--designed to help separate the Evangelical Movement from White Supremacy.  His points are as follows:
  1. White and minority Christians should not limit the reconciliation discussion to the black versus white divide.
  2. Minority Christians need white allies in the work of reconciliation, not white saviors.
  3. Christian leaders should enlarge their ethnic circles to include more black and brown people.
  4. More minorities should partner with majority culture churches to help lead them in the work of multi-ethnic ministry.
  5. Many evangelical conferences desperately need to become more ethnically inclusive.
  6. The kingdom of God does not revolve around white evangelicals or minority evangelicals.
  7. White and minority Christians must resist the idea that whiteness is normal and everything else abnormal.
  8. White and minority Christians must stop insisting that color-blindness is a possibility.
  9. Neither white nor minority Christians should play the race card only when it serves their political agenda.

  10. If white Christians want to gain credibility in black and brown contexts, they must be-friend black and brown people without celebrity status.
  11. Minority brothers and sisters are not off of the hook. We have a BIG role to play in liberating the evangelical movement from white supremacy.
Now I could comment on each of these observations/suggestions, but such would serve as a distraction from what Williams wrote. So rather than commenting on each point, I suggest that all readers reads the article for themselves (again, click here for the article).





Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For August 17, 2016

Aug 3

To Barry Corey and his blogpost that tried to explain why he and some religiously conservative colleges and individuals are opposing a California state bill that would protect from discrimination based on sexual orientation by institutions that receive state assistance.This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

I understand why some in California are fighting against a state bill that would force religiously conservative colleges into accepting certain behaviors by its employees and students that violate Christian morals and the Scriptures. I understand and agree with their opposition to the new law. However, I am not sure if people like Barry Corey fully understand what they are fighting against. That is because part of what they are fighting against is a pendulum swing. When the pendulum was going the other way, there was no concern expressed by religious conservatives about the religious freedom of those who believed differently about same-sex marriage, homosexual rights at the work place. There was no concern for the religious liberties of what would become the LGBT community especially when homosexual acts were counted as crimes. Likewise, there is no concern for the religious liberties of those who believe homosexuality is accepted by God in those states that are or are currently trying to  pass anti-LGBT laws--the reverse in the pendulum swing hasn't hit those states yet.

And as people like Barry Corey do not fully understand what they are fighting against, neither do those who are pushing the pendulum the other way understand what Barry Corey et. al. are fighting for when they make their case. And unless us religious conservatives acknowledge how wrong it was to push the pendulum in the other direction, it will be difficult for those in charge of the current direction of the pendulum to recognize how wrong they can be as they currently push the pendulum.

Should be noted that there is an immediate solution here for schools like BIOLA. It could refuse to receive state assistance. This appears to be one of the focal points of the bill. That if an institution receives state assistance, the state gets to set some parameters regarding its operation.

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Aug 4

To Joseph Pearce and his blogpost containing his analysis of Vladimir Putin. This appeared on the Imaginative Conservative blog.

When comparing Putin to Russia's past, the more appropriate comparison would be to the Tsars rather than the Soviet premiers. We should note that Russia had empire that had swallowed many of the nations that were part of the Soviet Empire prior to the emergence of the Soviet Union. We should also note that the kleptocracy that preceded Putin occurred during the reign of the Western favored leader, Boris Yeltsin. And we should note that Yeltsin used to the military to dissolve the Russian Parliament while he was pushing his neoliberal Capitalist agenda. And if you want to excuse some of Putin's approach and performance because of what he inherited, then the same should be done for Lenin and I am saying this as someone who has great disdain for Lenin and his government.

We should keep in mind the alleged connections between Putin and certain assassinations such as that of Anna Politkovskaya and a number of other journalists. And we should note his brutal policies in Chechnya when evaluating him. The Left has problems with Putin in other areas besides the Orthodox Church favored antagonism against the LGBT community. There is no leftist traits in Putin's rule and any alleged similarities between Putin and the Left because of the use of "big government" is based on a flawed definition of the Left and Socialism as well as a failure to recognize that since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has more-less a Capitalist economic system. Putin's initial relationship with the Oligarchs resembled the Roman Church's relationship with Germany's Nazi government as spelled out in the 1933 Konkordat. The oligarchs were free to conduct business as they wanted as long as they did not venture off into politics. A number of things did change and one was the fear that Russian energy companies were being sold out to foreign and multinational corporations. This was an affront to Russia's and Putin's nationalism. So the state bought controlling interests in these companies.

The above takes us to Russia's newest initiative to reprivatize its energy companies and guess who is in line to help seal the privatization deal? The move to sell has to do with the slumping price of oil and concerns over the state budget. Finally, we should understand the emphasis on nationalism and the tight connection between the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church that paints Russia as a picture of what some religiously Conservative Christians want America to be only with the conservative Church taking the Orthodox Church's place as having the ear of the government. So the analysis of Putin given in this article on the Imaginative Conservative website is understandable.


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August 11

To Joe Carter and his blogpost that discussed on the impact that technology has on employment. This appeared in the Acton blog.

This article, along with the article it cites, are inadequate in their references to both the negative impact of technology and the reasons for losses in certain kinds of jobs. Unimployment is not the only negative impact that the new technology causes. Difficulties in relating to both others and ourselves as well as fewer opportunities to develop some logical skills have been negative impacts of technology observed by Sherry Turkle, s sociologist atMIT. She writes about this in her books Reclaiming Conversation and Alone Together. And these problems are not brought about by technology per se, but by the uncritical embracing of each new technology.

As for the lost of manufacturing jobs, technology is not the only culprit. The offshoring of jobs in order maximize profits is probably as big a reason for the drop in manufacturing jobs here as technology is. And these jobs are often shipped overseas to places where labor and environmental regulations are less stringent to the point that both workers and the envirionment are often exploited.

So why shortchange the discussion on both technology and the causes for unemployment? 


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To Joe Carter and his blogpost on annoncing the coming review of non major party candidates and parties. This blogpost's subject is the Libertarian Party. This appeared in the Acton blog.

This is a welcomed post because by shedding light on third parties, it is encouraging more voter independence.

At the same time, a basic tenet of the Libertarian Party must be challenged. That tenet is to take an almost all-or-nothing approach to individual liberty. It not quite all-or-nothing becaue it recognizes how one can't use their individual liberty to 'forcibly' infringe on the rights of others. However, there are ways in which individuals can infringe on the rights of others without resorting to force.

At the very beginning of the Liberatarian Platform is the following statement  (see https://www.lp.org/platform ).:


We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.

What is missed is the ability to recognize a cult of the individual. This is especially true in a society and world where there is an ever growing interdependence. But what is also missed with its emphasis on the individual and their liberty is another kind of freedom. That other kind of freedom is a group freedom. It is the freedom of the group to determine the laws that will instruct us on how we are allowed to treat each other. In our country, such a group freedom is called Democracy. And when a democracy is properly functioning, the power of individuals is limited by the decisions of the group--that is society. And there must be a balance between individual liberty and democracy lest either one oversteps its bounds. We should note here that there are some who write for the Acton blog who, in previous correspondence with myself, have denied the existence of this group freedom.

Finally, to show how the basic tenets of the Libertarian Party takes too many absolute and inflexible positions, note the following line:


We call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.

We should ask libertarians if the above platform line of theirs requires the Gov't to abolish the FAA. For if it does, we have a mess with potentially deadly consequences.  But if not, then why is the IRS being abolished too? For won;t we have a government and national economic mess without those who collect taxes.

In short, the Libertarian Party's flaw is not wrong in its beliefs in liberty. Its flaw is its near all-or-nothing approach to individual liberty that blinds the party from both recognizing the group freedom that comes with democracy as well as being flexible enough in its approach to The Constitution so that it can be applied to the ever changing world rather than pretending that the world must always be seen as being too simplistic for us to have to keep adjusting to an ever changing set of affairs. However, such is my interpretation the Libertarian Party and its Platform and people who care about America should read the whole Libertarian Platform as well as the platforms of other third parties for themselves.


https://www.lp.org/platform 

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To Joseph Sunde his blogpost and its video on how job of flipping hamburgers can glorify God. This appeared in the Acton blog.

We might ask if it glorifies God to pay those who flip hamburgers poverty wages especially when we consider the changing demogrpahics that such jobs have undergone. Those demographics show that jobs such as flipping hamburgers are no longer kids' jobs because of the lack of other economic opportunities that exist.
 

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August 14

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote that tries to distinguish Christianity from the American optimism of people like Norman Vincent Peale. This appeared in Heidelblog

What we also need is to distinguish Christianity from any American conservative political ideology. That does not mean that there are no elements in that conservative political ideology that are valid. Rather, what it does mean is that Christianity or Christian politics cannot be identified with that conservative political ideology so that there are Biblically supported tenets from political liberalism and leftist political ideology that have biblical support.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Can Watching the Olympics Help Us Vote?

I have been watching the Olympics lately. Usually I don't like to, but we were visiting the daughter's family and they get fewer channels than the wife and I get at home. However, there is something in the behavior and attitudes of many of the Olympic athletes that transcends national or, if one is really patriotic, tribal lines. That is respect. Many of the athletes show a deep respect for others regardless of whether they win or lose. And part of this respect for others rubs off on the crowd many of who whom could easily cheer for athletes from other nations.

In addition, I find that there are athletes from other nations for whom I could cheer and hope to win even if they defeated someone from the US. Joshua Buatsi is one such athlete. He is the light heavyweight boxer from Great Britain whose first concern in his first fight was the physical well-being of his first opponent whom he knocked down 3 times. Then there is the 41-year-old gymnast, Oksana Chusovitina, from Uzbekistan who made it to the finals in the women's vault. Though she did not do well in the finals, to compete in gymnastics at the Olympics at 41 is a marvel and a delight to watch. And of course, there is Usain Bolt whose quality of character is matched only by his speed. How could I root against him even though he was racing against Justin Gatlin from the US?

Unfortunately, this having respect for others practiced by these athletes is not often enough practiced here by politicians and voters for those from other parties and ideologies. We should note that a majority of voters for both Hillary and Trump are voting for their respective candidates not because they are big fans of either one, but because they don't want the other candidate to when. They have demonized the candidates from the other political party as well as the other political party itself and thus they cannot even bear to listen to each other. And we might consider whether this demonetization of the other that exists between the two political parties comes from the values of winning almost at all costs which have leaked into the values of our democracy from our economic system. And so just like some will measure their own nation's success or failure by comparing medal counts between the nations, so on election night, many will will be counting electoral votes and seats won for their party without having respect for those from the other political party who won. And without respect for each other, our Democracy dies because instead of elections serving as a vehicle for self-rule, they become the main instrument in conquering others and dividing the nation.


Of course, who could argue against the practice of voting against others rather than voting for someone who best represents you rather than against someone? Certainly those who are so partisan that they have demonized most, if not all, of those from the other major political party. And that includes those who are either voting against Hillary or Trump. But though I will vote for neither candidate, I can find points of agreement with each one. Certainly there are not enough of these points with either one which would move me to for either one, I still share points of agreement. And perhaps, a certain degree of respect for more of our candidates, some of whom will hold elected office, can begin by searching for those points of agreement. And perhaps from there, we can find enough reasons for voting for third-party candidates rather than always voting against the candidate from the other major political party. For this voting against approach is not only self-limiting, it has diminished the quality the candidates coming from either of our major political parties while making it tougher for us to face the truth about ourselves and our nation.