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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5

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Friday, July 3, 2020

Is Demouncing Revoution The Epitome Of Iconoclasm?

Neyeli Riano has recently written a post that aggressively attacks America's current protest movement (click here for introductory information on her and her list of articles written). Riano has taken an authoritarian approach by using quotes from Nicolás Gómez Dávila to bolster her case. She builds Dávila as a credible authority figure by describing him as a speaker and representative for the common man. Unfortunately, she assumes the absolute truth of each quote when she argues against today's revolution and iconoclasm.

What is iconoclasm? It is what we see in some of the protests when statues of past heroes are torn down. That is especially true when the statues being attacked are past American heroes who did not fight for the Confederacy such as Ulysses S. Grant and George Washington. Iconoclasm is the attack on 'settled beliefs and institutions' according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Of course that extends to the defacing or pulling down of statues of heroes. Of course Riano is complains about more than what happens to statues in her article on iconoclasm that was posted in the Imaginative Conservative blog (click here for the article). For she talks about the violence of the protests and the 'destruction replacing care,' in the protests' recent condemnation and reframing of our 'culture and history.'

In short she calls the current happenings a revolution of sorts. And with that label continues her quoting of Dávila and her selective application of those quotes. On revolutions, she quotes Dávila as saying the following:






Every revolution exacerbates the evils against which it breaks out.
The problem with that quote is that it is an overgeneralization that can be proved wrong with one simple counterexample. And while Riano applies that quote to what she sees is a current revolution, we should ask about the American Revolution if that statement is always true. Would those conservatives who agree with her attacks on the current protest movement then be consistent in condemning the American Revolution? If not, why not?

In fact, Riano's article starts with a quote from Dávila on revolutions:

Those who defend revolutions cite speeches; those who accuse them cite facts.
Now if we asked Riano to prove that claim by Dávila, how would she answer. Would she refuse to make a case in supporting the statement? Would she go through history and cite every statement made to defend or attack revolutions and show that Dávila's statement  is based on inductive study and observation? And again, how would she apply that statement to the American Revolution.

My favorite quote she drops from Dávila is:

A civilization’s memory resides in the continuity of its institutions. The revolution that interrupts a civilization’s memory, by destroying those institutions, does not relieve society of a bothersome weight that is paralyzing it, but merely forces it to start over.
In essence, Dávila is talking about the iconoclasm of the current "revolution." But we should note that iconoclasm shares a characteristic with history revisionism in that its value depends on the faults and problems that belong to the original. If a people's cherished institutions, beliefs, and heroes promoted significant injustice on others,  then why is iconoclasm portrayed as something that is destructive and bad? For example, was the dismantling of slavery and Jim Crow destructive? Didn't the actual overthrow of the Soviet Union give an opportunity to the Russian people to choose a better path? Suppose the Nazi's  quest for empire succeeded for hundreds of years, would a revolution be looked at as a bad thing?

At this point, some would complain about my comparing America with the old Soviet Union and the Nazis. But how do we think many minorities think about the comparison?

Then Riano goes on to attack another target: the government. For she says that both the tolerance to the current protests and the violence and government's quarantine approach to the pandemic shows a high disregard for regular working folks. Really? Using successful strategies to previous pandemics shows a disregard for working people? Has she paid attention to the effects of the Pandemic around the world and around our nation?

She then returns to iconoclasm and complains about the 'intellectual defense' of the violence in the protests. And yet, when she talks about past atrocities and violence, she says that such belongs to our history and tells us who we are while denouncing all violence that comes with the protests.

She then goes onto a couple of other subjects, but in the end she does this. She takes an authoritarian, traditionalist approach whose biggest complaint is that the wrong team is stealing the show. And she does so solely through a deductive approach taking care to mention what is happening in general without dealing with the specifics. And such is the way of the ideologue who deduces what life should be without having to deal with the facts on the ground as Ted Koppel so concisely expressed to Sean Hannity on Hannity's tv show.








References
  1. https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/06/secular-iconoclasm-peasant-indignation-nayeli-riano.html
  2. https://theimaginativeconservative.org/author/nayeli-riano

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For July 1, 2020

June 27

To Gene Veith and his blogpost on how we can orchestrate we should honor the flag at sporting events and such. His proposal is that we should say the Pledge of Allegiance so that the words of the pledge are used to show what the flag is about. He also states that our saluting the flag should be about our common commitment to God, fellow citizens, and to principles like liberty and justice. This appeared in Cranach.

There is often a problem when we try to answer questions by reducing the issues involved to one issue. Such reductionism invites an oversimplification of the question as well as black-white thinking.

While Veith wants us to determine how we should name forts by whether the people whose name we would use fought for or against the flag, there are far more important criteria than that to use. For example, did those confederate soldiers fight to defend not just slavery, but the white supremacy that was the basis for slavery? If we use Veith's criteria, aren't we making a symbol more important than people minimizing the significance of that question?

And, btw, lest someone challenge the fact that white supremacy was the basis for slavery, one only needs to read what the Cornerstone Speech says about the Confederate government: 'Our new government is founded on exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.'

As for his suggestion about saying the pledge and how it should be said at sporting events, isn't there a bit too much conformity being suggested? If such conformity is expected, then how different will our Pledge of Allegiance be different from the Nazi's 'Zieg Heil'? Should we have such conformity in a nation based on freedom?

My own basic problem with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is the first sentence: 'I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.' Why object to that if the pledge ends with 'with liberty and justice for all'? One reason is because while I believe in a general submission to the governing authorities, allegiances to other groups or things unnecessarily divides the Church. When we pledge allegiance to something, especially when that something is placed on a high pedestal, it becomes a possible competitor with our allegiance to God. And that is seen especially in our reactions to fellow Christians who don't share our allegiances. We start treating those who share our allegiance with preference over those, and that can include fellow believers, who don't. We see that in ideological tribalism.

Plus, if my first allegiance is to God, then isn't my responsibilities as a citizen already spelled out in God's Word?

Finally there is the problem with whether people agree that our nation, symbolized by the flag, is one with liberty and justice for all. Do we have a consensus in this nation as to whether there is systemic racism, significant police abuse problems, fairness in wealth distribution, among other issues that many associate with justice? So if we did the pledge the way that Veith suggests, how should those from marginalized groups act during the reciting of The Pledge and how will privileged groups respond to them? We have some of the answers to that question already.

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To Josh Buice and his article on reasons why Christians should reject Black Lives Matter. This appeared in the Deliverance by Grace blog.

As a Christian Fundamentalist, I have no problems with working with Black Lives Matter (BLM). I've seen their peaceful protests in person. I've seen one of the presentations at the Left Forum in NYC. I've conversed with at least one of their people a couple of times. How can I do that as a Christian?

It is quite easy. In fact, linking up with BLM is in certain ways similar to working side by side with Republicans and Democrats. In working with them, we are dealing with issues revolving around how do we share society with others. And here, whereas Marx is accused of making everything political, we religiously conservative Christians are in danger of making everything religious. And when doing that, we make it more difficult to work with unbelievers on political and social issues. And the more we do that, the more we enter our own virtual monastery.

The question we must address here is this, how should we Christians share society with others? Do we want to share society with others as equals, or do we want a place of privilege and supremacy over others? Before answering that question, we need to remember Jesus's warning against 'lording it over others.' Though that warning was addressing how we should relate to fellow believers, it has its applications to the question being addressed.

Do we want to share society with Blacks and people from other races as equals? Do we want to share society with those from the LGBT community as equals? Here we need to exercise caution when answering those questions because once we call ourselves Christians, everything we do or say, as well as much of what we don't do or don't say becomes associated with the Gospel. And what people associate with the Gospel by what we do or say as well as don't do or say either hurts or builds up the reputation of the Gospel. When what we do hurts the reputation of the Gospel, we are sometimes providing stumbling blocks to the listening of the Gospel. And that fact should frighten us to the core because of our struggles with sin.

If we don't want to share society with people from other races as equals, what will they associate with the Gospel? If we don't want to share society with people from the LGBT community as equals, what will unbelieving observers associate with the Gospel?

Social and political movements aren't suppose to be concerned with conversion to Christ, that is our concern. When we insist that they must be so concerned, we're in danger of making everything religious. But because what others associate with the Gospel is our concern, then shouldn't we look for where we can work with different groups, like Black Lives Matter.  It isn't that we can do whatever their members do without regard for sin. It is that we should look for opportunities to join and work with groups like BLM  so that by working on political and societal issues, we are building up the reputation of the Gospel.

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June 28

To Gene Veith and his blogpost that cited a poll that, among other things, showed that 79% of liberals wanted a new Constitution. This appeared in the Cranach blog on Patheos

Those who care when citing polls, look at the source of the polls and see what repetition exists. The source of the poll cited is Quillete.com which is a fairly conservative website that has a mixed factual reporting rating and called a questionable source by Mediabiasfactcheck (see https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/quillette/ ). [blog correction: the next point made here was in error because  I misread Veith's post. He actually stated the full line in his article] In addition, Veith neglects to include an important detail in the survey statement on changing our constitution. The full statement that was asked is below:

Move, after public consultation, to a new American constitution that better reflects our diversity as a people.

I am sure that the added detail does not lessen the blow that many conservatives feel from the statement. But that full statement does take the edge that Liberals are going to ramrod a new set of laws down our throats.

As for the name change, our official name is the United States of America. America is our presumptuous self-designated, nickname that seems to forget the other nations that exist on the western hemisphere.

There are two points to consider as we see the protests and calls for change continue. First, what see going on today fits in with the often used approach to addressing long-term social injustices.That is that a phobic reaction occurs in order to prevent all future repetitions of the social injustices being addressed. With that phobic reaction is proverbial the throwing out of the baby with the bath water because there is a fear of not being able to distinguish what should continued from the past from that which caused the social injustices.

On the other hand, many of those who resist the core changes called for by the protesters either don't know or don't care about how the status quo oppresses others.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

We All Need To Change

Much has been written about why police do what they do. And asking that question does not occur more frequently than when there is police abuse and violence. Nominees that explain why police officers abuse people from an article in The Atlantic include the few bad apples theory, there are systemic problems, and police culture (click here for the article). As the article pointed out, all three nominees share the award.

I would like to focus on how police culture can contribute to police abuse and violence. But before I do, I think it is both fair and necessary to get some feedback from police officers regarding what they experience and how they see their jobs. A glimpse into how police officers can been in a Pew Research Center article (click here for the article).

In that article, part of a police officer's reality includes the following:


  • Seeing themselves themselves as protectors and/or enforcers
  • Having to worry about one's physical safety
  • Having to report violent encounters
  • Having to use one's gun
  • Having a public that doesn't understand the risks of the job
  • Receiving positive and/or negative verbal feedback from the public
  • Choosing to participate in community events
  • How police officers feel about their job
  • Having to choose between doing what is right or following department rules
There are other realities and all of them are expressed by poll statistics. But there is a human side to those realities as well. And personally, being a police officer is a job I could have never done. But that isn't the point here. The point here is that if we want to say something intelligent about what is involved with being a police officer, we must start by listening to what police officers say about their jobs.

But let's get into the police culture issue. We can do that by looking at the values and norms taught to police officers both in their training and in how they in their units perform their jobs.

But another way we can do that is to assume that police officers carry with them at least some of the cultural values they have embraced as civilians in society. So we should look at those values and norms to see if they help explain some of the abusive behaviors of some police officers. Then finally, we need to address how we in society can change those values so as to facilitate change in police culture.

Here we should first note the observation of police culture in the previously cited article from The Atlantic. That article said the following:



The problem lies in the organizational cultures of some police forces. In the forces with an us-versus-the-world siege mentality. In the ones with the we-strap-on-the-armor-and-fight culture, the ones who depersonalize the human beings out on the street. All cruelty begins with dehumanization—not seeing the face of the other, not seeing the whole humanity of the other.  A cultural regime of dehumanization has been constructed in many police departments.

Here we should notice some similarities between some of the culture of our society and the organizational police culture described above. The beliefs in an us vs. them world, a siege mentality, a cultural expectation of fighting and defending, along with depersonalizing and dehumanizing those from other groups does not describe the culture of some police forces alone, it describes what many religiously conservative Christians call 'the Culture War.'  And though liberals and leftists might not think in terms of a culture war, ideological and/or political tribalism has already planted the seeds of similar organizational cultural values found in some police departments.

Initially we heard the us-versus-them themes on conservative talk radio starting in the 1980s and 1990s. Conservative pop media stars constantly described themselves and their followers as true patriotic Americans while liberals and leftists were conflated into one group as those were either mentally ill or enemies of America. And though liberals and leftists did not start that game of demonizing and depersonalizing the other side, they soon joined in. Tribalism, that is a high degree of loyalty to the group, kicked in and soon we had an us-versus-them cultural value in segments of conservatives, liberals, and leftists.

So the siege mentality, the us-versus-them attitude, and the tendency to so berate those who think differently have been well-established values in society that are also showing up in some police departments. Therefore, if we want to change police culture, especially in those police departments where we have a pattern of abuse and violence, we need to start with the culture outside of police organizations.

If we are to change the culture outside of police organization, we need to realize that our own ideological and/or political tribes can learn from others. That assumes that one's own tribe doesn't assume to have the ability to bring about either an absolute or relative utopia. That one's own ideological and/or political tribe doesn't have all of the answers. That we need to listen to each other to see how others can contribute to us and to the world we want to live in. We need to see the need for conservatives, liberals, and leftists to collaborate as much as possible and to be willing to listen to each other and not use differences as a reason to look down on others.

Currently, our society has the kind of cultural values that contaminates the organizational cultural values that helps increase abusive police practices. And when you add that to the hardships and stress of the job of being a police officer, then you are beginning to create a perfect storm of bad policing.

Do we want good changes in our police departments. Then we need to address the cultural values of our society while calling for reform and change in our police departments.





Friday, June 26, 2020

The Only Alternative Is To

Will be reviewing an article written by Carl Trueman (click here for info on Trueman) on his reaction to the Bostock Supreme Court decision regarding discrimination at the workplace. This article was posted in the First Things website which is a conservative Catholic website that posts writings from Conservative Catholic thinkers and even from some non Catholics (click here for the article).

Now usually I respond to Trueman's articles in the comments section which is provided--or I should say was provided. Unfortunately, First Things has gone the way of many conservative blogs by removing its comments section for blog articles. This is an unfortunate trend since it reinforces the perception that conservatives are often authoritarian and cannot tolerate dissent.

Anyway, the Bostock decision ruled that an employee could not be dismissed from one's job because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This has upset Trueman who has written quite a few articles on sexual issues in society and its culture.

One would think that it is only fair that employees could not be discriminated against because of sexual orientation or gender identity. But Trueman doesn't see it that way because it means that things aren't what they use to be. That our society and its culture have finally rejected what the Scriptures say about sexual orientation and gender identity. For if society accepted what the Scriptures said, then the laws for society would reflect it. Remember that Trueman is reacting to a SCOTUS decision here, not just a cultural trend.


But his objections go on past what is stated above. For what Trueman does not like about the Bostock decision is that it reinforces the belief in the 'autonomous self.' Then he quotes a line from a book by Catholic Theologian Douglas Farrow:
The autonomous will really has no choice but to attack the body as well as the mind. For the body is the most obvious locus of the given, the most stubborn impediment to the power claimed by the will.

Trueman follows that by saying: 'Transgenderism is the logical outcome of all this.'

The trouble is that Trueman's claim is made from a philosophically deductive approach. Not that there is anything wrong with making philosophical deductions, nothing wrong at all. The problem is that when philosophical deductions are not met by the facts on the ground, they prove themselves to be meaningless.

What do we know about the causes for gender dysphoria that we could automatically assume that responding to that dysphoria with a change in gender is one attacking one's self?

But there are other issues here besides LGBT issues and the results of the Sexual Revolution--another favorite target of Trueman. Those issues include a concern over the 1st Amendment with its affirmation of religious freedom. Those issues include a concern with how we Christians should share society with unbelievers. Those issues include a concern with how much our laws for society should be guided by the Scriptures. And last, but not least, those issues include a concern with what do we want to associate with the Gospel.

When we oppose a SCOTUS ruling that protects people from discrimination, what do we Christians think we are associating with the Gospel? Can't we both preach against what the Scriptures call sexual immorality and the modern view of gender identity and still oppose discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity at the workplace?

Unfortunately, Trueman writes an inordinate number of articles on sexual issues that often focus on LGBT issues and what he thinks is a toxic effect that the LGBT community and the Sexual Revolution have on society. And this is most unfortunate. For while Trueman seems to be writing in order to promote conformity in society, he has demonstrated the ability to be an independent thinker. He has offered some brilliant Biblical insights when interpreting the Scriptures. He has the kind of talent that we need in the Church to address societal issues. But unfortunately, what appears to drive his writings about some issues is a desire to establish a significant degree of Christian control over society and its laws.

The only alternative to the SCOTUS decision that Trueman opposes is the imposition of Christian views and rules on society. And the biggest objection to that is not when that imposition will stop. The biggest objection is whether we have the right to impose our Christian views on unbelievers in society regarding individual moral issues. For while we can preach against the autonomous self, do we have the right to legislate against it?




Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For June 24, 2020

June 19

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost video on Maoism both then and now. This appeared in the Heidelblog.

Though the totalitarian rule of Mao is blamed on Marxism by some, in reality, totalitarianism and other degrees of authoritarianism  can come from vanguard movements. And such movements can emerge in any nation regardless of its political system or prominent political ideologies.

Lenin and the Bolsheviks were also a vanguard operation--something they recognized about themselves. And as such, just like the Tsars before them, they portrayed themselves as representing the proletariat revolution that the dissidents to the Bolsheviks were brutally treated as enemies of the people. The Tsars before them had so portrayed themselves  in the same way as well and regarded those who dissented as enemies of Russia.

Though being less authoritarian than the Tsars, Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and Mao, both the Republican and Democratic parties act as vanguards with the former portraying itself as the vanguard for American traditions, especially conservative ones, and the latter one as the vanguard for the marginalized. In truth, both major political parties are bought and paid for by wealthy elites.

And as for the authoritarianism, Scott should comment on how Trump has threatened all protesters, including peaceful ones, who would protest his Tulsa visit with violence.


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June 23

To Pat Buchanan and his blogpost that criticizes the tearing down of statues that celebrated America’s past heroes. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

Buchanan is right about the purpose of status. It is for paying tribute and honoring people.

But where Buchanan has problems is in charging America's youth and the left with hating America's past, its history and its heroes.  It isn't that the tearing down of statues by mobs, not by the government, is not an act of hate. But the question Buchanan never considers is this: Who hated whom first? Or more pointedly, who hated whom the most?

Whether we are talking about Columbus with his multiple atrocities against the natives he discovered in Hispaniola, Jefferson and Washington with their owning of slaves and desires on Native American land to the West, Grant with his fighting against Native Americans, Francis Scott Key with his owning of slaves and celebrating the terrorizing of American slaves in the 3rd verse of the National Anthem, and finally the Confederate leaders who not only believed in white supremacy but fought to defend slavery and the race-based practice of treating people as mere property. Even with Roosevelt and Father Junípero Serra practiced or promoted racism. Can Buchanan say that such practices and attitudes were not acting out of hatred for their victims? Or does Buchanan not ask such questions about past heroes?

Did Buchanan object to Russians tearing down statues of Stalin and Lenin or the American military tearing down a statue of Saddam Hussein? I don't think so. And if I am right, isn't Buchanan practicing a double standard by objecting to the tearing down of statues of those who caused the suffering of so  many people?

While I don't approve of mobs tearing down statues because that is our government’s job, is the tearing down of statues the epitome of hatred?

When we look at the atrocities practiced to make this nation what it is today, shouldn't we hate some of America's past? Or should tribalism with its moral relativity be the rule of the day?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Week #15 Of The New Life

When this series started, the new life was one-dimensional entity that revolved around the pandemic. And now, we have a chance to make that new life multidimensional. And not only is the new life multdimenional, some parts of the new dimensions offer welcomed changes to the past rather than interruptions to what is now a cherished past.

The pandemic continues to live. My own state has done well to handle the pandemic but the fat lady hasn't sung yet. We need to proceed cautiously lest we lose precious ground that we have gained. Some states that had so far not experienced much pain from the pandemic are now experiencing that pain. Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, South Carolina and some other states serve as examples. And for as long as we have multiple states dealing with surges, the economy cannot fully recover. Such shows how interdependent we all are on each other.

So it looks like, except for major shareholders, we will be suffering from the pandemic for quite a while. We will be suffering until we can find a vaccine to the virus.

But not all is bad in the new world. The brutal murder of George Floyd, possibly in combination with the effects of the pandemic, has awokened many in America about the systemic racism Blacks have faced in America for 400+ years now. Of course there are many white Americans who stubbornly refuse to face that systemic racism. Most of them believe that racism in our nation either ended with Civil War or with the Civil Rights Movement.

When the subject of racism is brought up, many white Americans unknowingly demonstrate their privileged status when they express their first concerns. For their first concerns when thinking about racism is that of feeling guilty and possibly losing some pride in their heritage. In contrast to that, the first concerns for many Blacks when the subject of racism is thought about or discussed, revolve around being regarded and treated as being human if they are not treated as equals.

Thus we see a divide that has existed for almost the history of humanity. For while the marginalize struggle to improve their lot in order to survive, the privileged resist that struggle lest they feel bad about themselves.

We certainly want an end to the part of the new life associated with the Pandemic. But whether we maintain the part of the new life that is now calling for the end of systemic racism will depend on how persistent and constant we become in calling for the end of racism. In addition, if we follow the words of Martin Luther King Jr., we find that we cannot just isolate and oppose racism. For according to King, racism, economic exploitation, and militarism are inextricably linked. Thus to fight one of those evils, one must fight all of them.





 

Friday, June 19, 2020

To Look Or Not To Look, There Might Be No Right Answer

Because the articles reviewed for Friday's blogposts are relatively short, the depth of the articles is often lacking, and that is true for even many of the articles I like. But the article written by Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt (click here for intro) serves as an exception.

Writing for The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, Weichbrodt writes about the complexity involved in the public display of images that depicts the suffering of Blacks (click here for the article). The reason for the complexity is that such displays can serve a good end or have harmful consequences. She describes how history and the present show both outcomes. Pictures of Blacks being murdered or tortured can motivate people for a just cause. But such pictures have also been used to back false claims about Blacks being inferior. But even when they are not used to try to show inferiority, there is a 'burden' that comes with the constant viewing of Blacks suffering atrocities which lies outside the scope of how graphic the images can be. That burden can consist of 'chains' including the establishment of personal expectations for individual Blacks.

I really don't want to say much more about the article because I really think that as many people should read it as possible. So please click the link to this article provided above to read the article.