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Friday, April 28, 2017

When Conscience And The Scriptures Collide

One of the most pressing issues facing the conservative Church today is when its members see a conflict between their consciences and what they understand from the Scriptures. Many of these instances revolve around how we should regard homosexuals in society and thus homosexuality in general. For many Christians see, and correctly so IMO, bigotry against the LGBT community as being wrong and immoral. But many of us have been taught by conservative Christian leaders that the Scriptures demand that we must exercise such bigotry by opposing equality for the LGBT community in society. And one of the ways we are told to oppose this equality is to oppose Same-Sex Marriage (SSM) in society. The dissonance provided by these conflicting messages is great and has cause some religiously conservative Christians to go against what the Scriptures teach about homosexuality by approving of it in order to avoid showing bigotry.

Of course, sometimes the conflict between one's conscience and the Scriptures is in appearance only. The SSM issue serves as a primary example. Though the Scriptures do teach against homosexuality, there is nothing in the New Testament that tells we should try to marginalize the LGBT community in society. But, again, many conservative Christian leaders have been teaching their people that support such marginalization. That is very unfortunate for both the LGBT community and for many religiously conservative Christians.

And now this same general problem of conscience clashing with the Scriptures has occurred again in former President Jimmy Carter's leaving of the Southern Baptist Convention (click here). Why is he leaving? It is because, as Carter says, leaders from the Convention are selectively using the Scriptures to deny women an equal place with men in their churches. And that inequality is expressed not just in terms of how women are described in relation to men, but also in terms of denying women the chance to serve in the same positions of authority in the Church in which men are allowed to serve.

The above enrages Carter for he has seen how women have been abused and marginalized by being made subservient to men both in the Christian Church and in other religions. But the question for us Christians is this: What should we do when our consciences go against what we have been taught from the Scriptures?


When we see such a conflict, our first job is to test and see if an actual conflict exists. And thus, we first need to test whether we have correctly understood the Scriptures on a particular matter. Have the Scriptures made women below men in status? Have the Scriptures prohibited women from holding the same offices as men hold? And if the answer to the latter question is a 'yes,' does that imply that women are to be regarded as less than men?

In addition, we will want learn about women not just from what the Scriptures teach, but from the examples set in the Church. And  once we have compiled these Scriptures, we then try to arrive at a conclusion. We want to avoid what Carter claims he sees happening in the SBC: that is the selective use of the Scriptures to make a point.



But before preceding, I should also note two other things here. First, like Jimmy Carter, I belong to a denomination that limits the role of women in the Church. My denomination is the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. And before assuming that that denomination promotes male superiority over women, I would invite people to speak to the women in my denomination to see how much that is or is not the case. 

Second, most of the credit for any success I have achieved in life really belongs to two women. One of those women is the wife and the other is the best friend. Without having both of these women in my life, I don't know where I would be. The wife provides a great deal of support and stability for me which is important considering the background of the family I grew up in. I could never make it without that help. And because of how similarly we experience life and the examples she has set, the best friend and I consider each other to be mentors to each other.

The Scriptures that teach that men have some kind of authority over women whether at home or in the Church include the following: I Timothy 2:11-3:12 (click here), I Corinthians 11:2-12 (click here), and Ephesians 5:22-33 (click here). But we should note that the second passage just cited also carries with it some egalitarian ideas on men and women. Another Scripture that promotes equality between men and women is Galatians 3:28 (click here). And we have Romans 16 (click here) that provides a partial list of examples of the roles women played in the New Testament Church. We should also note the prominent roles women played in the ministry of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels. We might also note the role women played in Church history (click here for a brief summary from a Christianity Today article).

I do believe that women have been shortchanged in denominations like my own. That doesn't imply that I think my denomination is wrong in all of its statements on women. It simply means that because my denomination has not done enough in recognizing women's equality in the Church.

Once we have read through the Scriptures listed, we see that Carter minimizes the Scriptures that disagree with his position. That is unfortunate. In addition, I'm afraid he sees implications in the Scriptures that don't favor his position which are not really there. Also, in the Scriptures that do not favor his position, there is a certain authority men are given over women but that only occurs in certain relationships, not all relationships.
 

At the same time, we need to first give Carter his due. For most of us, the clashes we have with the Scriptures are due to an absence of a conscience, not the presence of one. Plus, former President Carter is a very honorable man who has done more to help people throughout his life than some churches have. In addition, we cannot ignore the examples where women were recognized as being leaders in the Church. Romans 16:1 lists Phoebe as church deacon. Some believe that Junia, also mentioned in Romans 16, is called an apostle. I believe that the Greek is ambiguous there. However,  one of the Church fathers, John Chrysostom, regarded her as an apostle (see the Christianity Today article cited earlier). We know that other women greatly helped Paul in his ministry and thus part of his ministry would not be possible without them. And as strongly as Paul says that only men should have certain offices in the Church, he also declares that men and women are equal (Galatians 3:28) and that they are interdependent on each other so that neither one is above the other (I Corinthians 11:8-12).

But we religiously conservative Christians should also note that we have another problem regarding the relationships between men and women. That problem is that we tend to go beyond the authority structures provided by the Scriptures to embrace an authoritarianism. With authoritarianism, we don't know how to turn off the authority switch in terms of how we should relate to each other. Not all of our relationships require positions of authority where one person is above the other. And thus we fail to recognize the many times where we are to relate to each other as equals. We should note here that how we relate to each other in society is not affected by the Scriptures that tell us how to relate to each other in the Church. Thus, what is said about the positions of authority women are not to have in the Church do not limit the positions of authority women can have in society.

Carter's reaction to his denomination is to be both respected and disagreed with. Carter is leaving his denomination because his sensitive conscience can no longer support how he sees it  treating women. That must be respected. At the same time, I believe that Carter needs to revisit the Scriptures that disagree with his position. He is too quick to minimize their significance, but perhaps that is because he has seen how those Scriptures have been abused.







Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For April 26, 2017

April 24

To Jim Campbell and his blogpost stating that Christians should support the religious freedom of all. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

The issue here isn't whether Christians should support religious freedom for all, the issue is whether Christians here are supporting religious freedom for all--that is for all whose religion doesn't call on them to steal from or hurt others. And it is clear to see that the opposition to same-sex marriage by many of us religiously conservative Christians indicates that we don't support religious freedom for all.

Another indicator of our opposition to religious freedom for all can be seen in our response to the refugee crisis that stems from the wars in the Middle East. Those who oppose the influx of these refugees because of the either their fear of a possible change in religious demographics in our nation or their religious prejudices and xenophobia do not support the religious freedom of all. Rather, they support a maintenance of a certain demographic status quo.

What should be added to the second paragraph is this: the refugee crisis that has involved Europe and the Americas with allowing refugees and immigrants from the Middle East to enter started with the American invasion of Iraq. A parallelism between that and our problems with illegal immigration from South of the border because many of the illegal immigrants come from nations that saw either US supported regime changes or trade policies. How is it that in the name of maintaining a preferred status quo or demographic edge can we turn away those who come here because of what we have visited on their nations?


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April 25

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote of Stella Morabito in Clark’s assessment of political correctness. This appeared in the Heidelblog.

But not only has freedom of speech been under attack, so have certain groups of people like those belonging to minority races, the LGBT community, and even real political leftists--this does not include the Democrats.

In other words, some use their freedom of speech to marginalize others and deny them of enjoying equality in society.
The real problem with political correctness is like the problem of how society embraces new technologies and social media. The problem is that we embrace these things in an all-or-nothing manner. After all, who objects to political correctness when it prohibits people from using the n-word on Blacks or racial slurs for those from other races? Or how many would object to political correctness when it prohibits people from using slurs on the LGBT community? Only those who engage in the same kind of thinking as those who exponentially increase the number of ways we can hurt the feelings of marginalized groups that don't exist. Regarding political correctness, are our only choices that exist are being either a hardcore bigot or an oversensitive snowflake?

It is only in the extreme applications of political correctness where people are robbed of either their equal rights or their freedom of speech. So perhaps we need to apply more wisdom to political correctness before we experience its real value


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To Joe Carter and his blogpost on discussing economic equality vs economic fairness. This appeared in the Acton blog.

But what is economic unfairness? And can wealth disparity be indicators of economic unfairness?

As for the first question, is it fair for stockholders to receive preferential treatment over workers? Is it fair to pay at least some of the full-time workers poverty wages and rely on government assistance programs to make those wages survivable in order for stockholders to get higher dividends? And doesn't the concept of treating the stockholders as the only important people make those stockholders very similar to absentee landlords?

Or what about the communities in which manufacturing places or offices are located. They build infrastructure to provide for operation of company workplaces and their workers despite the fact that the location of those workplaces can change in order to increase stockholder dividends?

Or what about the environment and the impact that workplaces have on the environment? What is fair about companies not reducing their environmental impact in order to increase the returns for stockholder? How fair is that for the communities that bear brunt of the environmental impact workplaces have on them?
All this vague talk about economic fairness is only mentioned in the context of economic equality as if that is the only concern economic fairness runs into. There is wealth disparity, which is not the same as economic equality, poverty wages and business's dependence on government assistance, community investments in infrastructure for workplaces which makes communities more dependent on these same workplaces to maintain that infrastructure, and there is the environmental impact that company workplaces have on communities all of which relates directly on economic fairness especially when stockholder interests compete with these concerns.



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To Joe Carter and his blogpost praising Walmart for helping the poor. This appeared in the Acton blog.

And yet, one word that seems to escape Carter's description of Walmart is the word 'tradeoff.' For example, the choices for shoppers increased with the introduction of a Walmart into a small town as they would with any town. But what about Walmart's choice of vendors for its own products? Do the workers for Walmart's vendors get paid living wages? How many Walmart vendors offshore at least some of their work? And what about Walmart's workers? We should note that its low wage workers cost the public billions of dollars in public assistance (see https://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/04/15/report-walmart-workers-cost-taxpayers-6-2-billion-in-public-assistance/#994d091720b7  ). Now the question becomes whether what Walmart paid in taxes fully pays for the pubic assistance that its workers rely on? If not, how is it that Walmart is not cheating the public by paying its low wag workers such low salaries and wages? And what about the mom and pop stores that Walmart drives out of business in more populated areas?

All too often cases are made by filtering the evidence. In this case, the only data looked at to consider Walmart's worth was that which made Walmart look good. However, in the business world, no product or, in this case, company, comes without tradeoffs. So why is it that Carter did not bring up the tradeoffs that occur with the operation of Walmart stores?



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To Joseph Mussomeli and his blogpost on whether Russia is enemy or a friend. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

This article started strongly. It attempted to balance the polar views of Russia. It also mentioned how Russia is not alone in some of its deeds. But then something went adrift. That something was the defense of America's moral superiority to Russia.

We should note that insisting on the moral superiority of America despite its faults still allows us to adopt the role of the pharisee from Jesus's parable of the two men praying. But it does so with a twist. For while the pharisee from the parable proclaimed his own righteousness in absolute terms, insisting on America's moral superiority to Russia while admitting to having our own flaws is to play the role of the pharisee only in relative terms. "Compared to Russia, we are righteous" is the sentiment expressed here. Such a sentiment allows us to minimize our own faults by sweeping them under the carpet of a bigger sinner than us.

As for Russia, it has a history of changing the facade of its authoritarianism. The Tsars were followed by Lenin and Stalin. And while Gorbachev started to reduce the government's use of authoritarianism, Yeltsin and Putin reestablished that authoritarianism. In the US, we have built our society on the model that comes from the Hunger Games movie series. We have the Capitol being served by the districts. And we prefer to judge our nation by looking at the Capitol only. But that means that for those from the districts to claim any significance, they must do so vicariously by pointing to the Capitol. For example, how many times have conservatives defended the pre-Obamacare healthcare in our nation by pointing out that people from other nations come to America in order to be treated for serious illnesses without mentioning that most of those who come here for that purpose are wealthy? What those same conservatives did not point out were the outcomes for many not so well off Americans or that healthcare costs was the number 1 reason for personal bankruptcy.

We should also note what was not mentioned in the above article was when the US was entertaining the idea of introducing missile defense bases in nations that bordered Russia, several high Russian military officials threatened the introduction of such bases with the use of tactical nuclear weapons. We should note something else that the above article doesn't: that the introduction of our missile defense bases posed a significant threat to Russia's nuclear deterrence.

The point being that there is too much evil on both sides to want to claim who is morally superior. When there is enough evil on both sides, it is imperative for the people on each side to take the evils of their own nation seriously by trying to eliminate them instead of minimizing those evils by pointing fingers at other nations.





 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Is The Ghost Of Christmas Future Pointing To North Korea?

If technology makes the proliferation of WMDs inevitable, then how the world handles the current crisis with North Korea will tell us a lot about our future. 

That North Korea shows that technology makes the proliferation of WMDs inevitable is as real as it is ominous. A rogue leader has obtained WMDs shows that it is possible for other rogue leaders to do the same. Here we should note that rogue leaders who have at their disposal WMDs do not have to be leaders of states. They can be leaders of non-state actors. And here, we should note that it is not necessary for all rogue leaders to gain access to WMDs to prove that the proliferation of WMDs is inevitable.

Next, there are multiple reasons why a leader like Kim Jong-un would want to own WMDs. And all we have to do is look at why the major powers have WMDs to be able to see these reasons. One reason is that having the ability to use WMDs can act as a deterrent to any outside attack. And it isn't a matter of whether Jong-un has an equal number of WMDs as his enemies. His possession of WMDs makes the price of intervening in some aggressive action of his extremely high.

Another reason why a leader like Kim Jong-un would want possession of WMDs is that either as a deterrent or a first strike weapon, possession of WMDs makes leaders like Kim Jong-un more powerful and enables them to take more aggressive actions against others, especially one's neighbors. Thus, the red line North Korea  would have to cross before other nations would intervene becomes redrawn and thus allowing  North Korea to get away with more. And history teaches us that when a nation successfully shows aggression against others, it can cause nationalism and support for the leader of that nation to soar. Thus, increasing public support for a leader's power over his/her own nation becomes another reason motivation for rogue leaders to possess WMDs.

But Kim Jong-un's possession also comes with a liability. That liability is that his possession of WMDs comes within a context of a state. That limits how much aggression Kim Jong-un can exert before he does cross a red line and has to pay devastating consequences. So what would happen if a non-state rogue leader gains possession of WMDs? Because non-state rogue actors can be dispersed in several locations and hide within friendly states, the WMDs possessed by nations like our own become less of a threat to these non-state rogue leaders.


Despite all of our nation's talk and posturing, our foreign policies easily show that our nation does not follow the rule of law. Instead, it follows the rule of force provided that there is no significant deterrent to our use of force. And in relying on the rule of force, we have provided a perfect model of behavior for rogue leaders like Kim Jong-un. By relying on the rule of force, we have made the world into a king-of-the-hill battle that naturally gives others reason to strive to be the next king.

So how we respond to North Korea's current development of additional WMDs points us to our future. For even if we were able to forever eliminate the threat North Korea poses with its weapons, there are sure to be other rogue leaders who also gain access to WMDs. Here we should note that nuclear weapons are not the only kind of WMD we should worry about. And we should note that technology enables the obtaining of WMDs because technology is very user friendly. What is our technology today can easily become the world's technology tomorrow. All of this should tell us that if we continue to rely on the rule of force because we are presently able to, there will be a reckoning some day in the future. At least, that is what the ghost of Christmas future is pointing our attention to.




Monday, April 24, 2017

ONIM For April 24, 2017

If you are not sure about the validity of a news story linked to below, you can use mediabiasfactcheck.com to check out the credibility of the source of the story. 


Christian News

World News

Protest News


Syrian Civil War News

Pick(s) Of The Litter



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For April 12, 2017

April 8

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on the rejection of objective reality in today’s universities. This appeared in Heidelblog.

I'm sorry but this is just an intellectual form of the parable of the two men praying. The similarities between the above article and that parable is that, again, it is the religious expert who claims to be above all others and thankful that they are not like the poor souls who reject o objective reality. However, like the pharisee from the parable, the religious expert here makes similar mistakes.

First, basically we have 3 time periods that have dealt with reality and the world around us: Pre Modernism, Modernism, and Post Modernism. Of those 3, only Post Modernism rejects the necessary metanarratives that allow for objective reality. That means that modernity, as represented by modernism, did not reject objective reality. It merely said that it isn't found in the faith narratives.

But why did Post Modernism reject the metanarratives that provide a basis for objective reality? It was because of what those from both periods associated with their metanarratives: conquest, imperialism, colonialism, marginalization of others, false claims of superiority, and major wars. And just as those establishment figures who lost to Trump in the election because they failed to be up front with their failures, so too does the religious figure here refuse to see what is apparent to everyone else. That those who adopted his particular metanarrative associated that metanarrative with horrendous acts. It is because of those atrocities that many Post Modernists have embraced an outcome-based truth system because they honestly want to correct past abuses.

Yes, the Post Modernists are wrong, but at least they are concerned about past abuses. The Pre Modernists and Modernists are only more than happy to deny their part in past atrocities, that is if they care to admit to their existence. So we see that the Post Modernists might have virtues that are absent in Pre Modernists and Modernists.

Finally, having taught in different colleges for 19 and 1/2 years, I see no evidence for the claim that our universities are full of people who reject objective reality. Then again, if you hang around engineers, computer scientists, information tech people, and mathematicians, one can't afford to deny objective reality.


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April 10

To Joseph Pearce and his blogpost lamenting the demise of the West through an ever increasing number of immigrants and a decreasing birth rate for Europeans. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

This article kind of mirrors articles and statements that lament the good old days when America was a Christian nation under God. That is because of what we see and don't see when we look back at those days. We see one set of problems and faults being replaced by another. Only those who reminisce seem to have a greater tolerance for the older problems and faults than the newer ones. And thus, they see the current trends and run around yelling that the sky is falling.

We need to remember that it was the associations that were made with Christianity in Europe's past that have caused people to reject much of the past. For when Europe was at its strongest, there were multiple empires and these empires not only waged wars against and even partially exterminated non-Europeans on their own continents, they fought each other often in the name of God. WW I, according to Karl Barth, saw the reshaping of God into a tribal god with each participant demonizing others while canonizing themselves. And though WW II did not see the making of God into a tribal god as was done in WW I, it saw almost unprecedented destruction and cruelty. And now we are to mourn the loss of the West?

We also need to remember that part of what is called the biggest threat to the West, the increased immigration of people from the Middle East, is the result of Western foreign policies. It takes Westerners to adopt a bull in a china shop mentality not to see this.

In addition, Pearce's math does not make sense. For, according to Pearce, the survival of a civilization must be seen in bipolar terms. Either survival is guaranteed with an ever increasing population growth or it is about to cause its own demise by an ever decreasing population. Never has Pearce considered that  there can be an ebb and flow of population increase and decrease from one time period to another.

To mourn the demise of the West and link it to Europe's population, shows a fear that one's race will disappear. But if one's religion is multiracial and one's religion is more important to one than one's race, why is this such a significant fear? And aren't their components of the West, such as its imperialism and lack of self-awareness, that should be allowed to become extinct?

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To Donald Devine and his blogpost citing  Allan C. Carlson as he states that crony capitalism is the enemy of families while a free market capitalism that relies on small businesses are every family’s friend. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

When one sees a title like the one for the above article, one anticipates an either deductive or inductive approach to proving what was said. In this article both approaches are used but not on the same objects. For a somewhat inductive approach is used to show that crony capitalism is not only bad for families, but exploits family dysfunctions. However, there is hope because of the assertion that a family friendly, small is beautiful approach to free markets provides the relative utopia we are all looking for. That such a system works is assumed.



 The next partial paragraph is the result of a lack of adequately editing the comment

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2017/04/capitalism-enemy-family-donald-devine.html population that came from centering society on the family, comes the need to for bigger and bigger businesses that have the resources to provide for people's needs. In addition, whether one is talking about 'crony capitalism' or the ever idyllic free markets for small businesses, the fuel that feeds the economy is greed. And so even without the population explosion, comes the drive to build bigger and bigger businesses.

In addition,  the free market approach above favors the mass number of small self-sustaining units because the free markets of people like Hayek join Cain in asking his rhetorical question: 'Am I my brother's keeper?' That is the purpose of joining the free market with small businesses as its participants. Such a mindset is really only embraced by those who want their own personal growth to not be infringed on by notions of solidarity or social responsibilities. In addition, this mindset also includes a modern and restricted definition of the term 'stakeholder.' For in the past, stakeholders were all who were impacted by a business. Without government regulations to protect the environment, workers, and consumers, the new definition of stakeholder is reduced to the owner(s) either of a business or in an economic system.


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April 11

To Joe Carter and his blogpost stating that the gender gap in pay is a myth because of the kind of jobs generally taken by men vs those taken by women. This appeared in the Acton blog.

If only Carter would continue to research the gender gap in pay after he found what is to him a satisfactory answer, perhaps this article would be more educational.

A valid point that Carter makes is that one cannot just look at the big picture to see if their is a problem in gender gap pay. And certainly, a partial explanation can be seen in the ones provided by the article he cited. But that doesn't fully explain the gender gap pay we have. Two other factors can be added from documentation provided by the Pew Research Center (see http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/03/gender-pay-gap-facts/ ). Another reason for the gender gap in pay, according to women surveyed in 2013, was taking time off to raise a family affected long-term earnings. In addition, the same 2013 survey saw a majority of both men and women reporting that discrimination also exists against women in the workplace. Finally, the same Pew Research Article states that the gender gap in pay is decreasing. One source of the discrimination is found in the leadership opportunities not given to quallified women in the workplace (see http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/01/14/women-and-leadership/  ).

The reason for just citing one source is rather obvious. There is no need, according free market supporters, to pass and enforce regulations that ensure equal pay. However, this view is more concerned about the place of regulations than gender pay gap.

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To Bruce Walker and his blogpost warning against intellectuals and tyrants. In particular, he attempts to group all together as belonging to the Left. This appeared in the Acton Blog.

In the list of leaders who oversaw mass killings of people, those who were left off that list include American Presidents who saw to it that Native Americans were removed from their land or who oversaw mass killings from American invasions such as those of the Philippines (1899 to 1902) where hundreds of thousands of people were killed and Vietnam, where millions of people were killed. Nor would murderous leaders whom the US either installed or supported included in the list. Here, examples include Pinochet in Chile, The Shah in Iran, and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. And, of course, what was also not included was the violence we supported in Latin America nor the Cuban leader whom we supported who preceded Castro.

In addition, the tendency to label the leaders listed as being non conservatives also seems puzzling and forgets the leading distinction between the Soviet failed experiment and Fascism. In the former, government elites sought control with a pretense of support from the workers even though these elites were seeking their own power over all. In Fascism, the supporting force behind the tyrannical governments came from business elites. To read Marx and assume that a central government is socialism regardless of who is supporting central control is the same as falling asleep during most of a movie and yet pretending to be able to comment on it. In addition, if we take Hitler for example, we should note that part of his party's campaign platform was to make Germany First, to bring back traditional values, and to oppose Marxism.

As for Hugo Chavez, why are we listing him with the likes of people who favored using violence to silence dissidents? And to discredit Chomsky because he and Chavez agreed on a couple of issues is beyond the pale of being overly simplistic. Perhaps, Walker did not see Chomsky's criticisms of Latin America's Leftist governments to build sustainable economies (see https://www.democracynow.org/2017/4/5/chomsky_leftist_latin_american_governments_have ). Had Walker listened to or read Chomsky on Latin America's Leftist leaders, he would have found Chomsky criticizing them for basing their economies on commodity prices rather than on manufacturing and agriculture. The former is more volatile in terms of its contribution to a nation's economy. As a result, Venezuela suffered the same problems under Chavez's leftist government as it did under a Capitalist supporting government in the 90s. But we should also note something else about Chavez. He was criticized by the Left for not advancing participation by the workers in decision making positions. Certainly Chavez had to deal with an always present threat of American subversion. However, he chose to run Venezuela under elite-centered rule. We should note that with America being more classified as an oligarchy than a democracy (see  http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746), we now live under elite-centered rule as well.

As for West, I think he took a too simplistic approach to Chavez and criticism of him on his support of Chavez is warranted.

And though we should group Lenin on the Left, a fellow Socialist and contemporary Rosa Luxemburg criticized him for establishing a bourgeoisie dictatorship rather than a Socialist government that relies on the rule of elected members from the proletariat. In fact, the above article gives evidence to this point in citing Lenin as he refers to those to the left of him. We don't have to take the quote from the above article for it, we can read it (see https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/may/09.htm ). So how much of a Socialist was Lenin? You will get a mixed response.

Some of the others whom Walker mentioned merited his criticisms though his criticisms don't tell the whole story.

As Walker rants and rails against intellectuals and tries to scapegoat those on the Left, we should note that he is in infamous company in doing so. That company includes Adolf Hitler. And we should note that the Roman Church signed a Konkordat with the Nazi government because the Church then saw an ally in Hitler because Hitler opposed the Bolshviks. However, if Walker is concerned about elite-centered rule, he needs to be concerned about this kind of rule whether it comes from the left, liberalism, or conservatism. And if he is concerned about all elite-centered rule, then perhaps he would prefer to stand with the Menshoviks, who were  Socialists, as opposed to the Bolsheviks and their descendants or the Bourgeoisie. And that would suite me fine.




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Weaponizing Christianity

If you ask most of us religiously conservative American Christians whether Christianity is a religion of love, most of us would adamantly say 'yes.' However, certain groups of people have good reason to disagree with our self-assessment. That is they see our religion as a religion of violence and hate. How can there be such a divergence of opinion here?

First, we need to go through Church history. We should note that one of the most persecuted groups in Church history were the Jews.  For whatever reason, Western Christianity has a horrible record in terms of how it has treated the Jews. In fact, the creation of the state of Israel was due to European Christian anti-Semitism. One only needs to read Church history to see how the Jews were persecuted for their persistent unbelief.

But though there has been anti-Semitism practiced by Christians here, it has never approached the level that it did in Europe. However, due to Dispensationalism, one of a few schools of the study of the end times, a new group has been marginalized on their own land. That group is the Palestinians. Because of the popularity of Dispensationalism and because Displensationalism teaches that the second coming of Christ revolves around the Jews returning to the Holy Land, many religiously conservative American Christians have supported whatever the government of Israel does to the Palestinians to secure more of the Promised Land for itself regardless of the price the Palestinians have to pay.

Now one might not think a lot about the plight of the Palestinians because they are so far away, but a similar story happened in parts of the United State. After European Christian settlers established themselves here, some believed that the land lived on by Native Americans belonged to them. Why? Because some of these settlers believed they belonged to the New Israel and that the Native Americans were nothing more than the Canaanites were when Israel was taking over the Promised Land.

The LGBT community must be mentioned here as well. For though most of the news regarding that community has been recent, that is because this community too has suffered at the hands of many of us religiously conservative Christians through the laws that had been passed regarding sex, marriage, and discrimination protection. Homosexuality was counted as a criminal offense for most of America's history.

Of course Blacks should also be included in the list of those who have been marginalized by religiously conservative American Christians. After all, many, though not all, religiously conservative American Christians supported slavery from our nation's beginning until some time after the Civil War. Some of those who supported it did so because of what they believed from the Bible. While others may not have approved of slavery, they did believe in White Supremacy and segregation that followed slavery. And some did so because of how they understood the Bible.

We could probably include other groups as well. For example, many religiously conservative American Christians were very disturbed over Starbucks announcement that it was going to implement a program to hire 10,000 refugees from predominantly Muslim nations. The Facebook response by some conservative Christians was to ask why Starbucks  would not hire veterans instead. This question was asked in complete ignorance seeing that Starbucks was already in the middle of program to hire Veterans and their spouses.

In each of the above cases, Christianity has been used to rationalize the abuse and marginalization of others by its believers. Thus, Christianity has become a weapon that enables Christians to hurt others.  How has Christianity been revised so as to enable Christians to severely abuse so many people?

We should note here is that Christianity isn't the only religion that has been weaponized. Neither is religion the only belief system that has been weaponized. Nor is a belief system the only kind of identity that has been weaponized. What enables us to weaponize the different identity and groups we belong to? Perhaps the best answer can be found in Dave Brubeck's cantata entitled Truth (see http://ums.aadl.org/ums/programs_19740117b ). In part #5, called Speak Out, it says quite clearly how any identity can be weaponized. The weaponizing of a particular identity takes place when those who are advancing their own group's cause forget the needs of people outside their group. Those needs are for love, justice, kindness, mercy, and truth. Of course, maybe forgetting people's needs isn't the issue. Maybe we believe that some are not entitled to being treated well. When Christians believe that, it is because they have decided, for whatever reason, to ignore Jesus's parable of the two men praying.  In that parable, the Pharisee praises himself as he prays and shows disrespect for the publican who is also praying.

When we hurt others either as individuals or as members of some group, we often do so for the reasons Brubeck lists in the previously cited work. It isn't just us or the members of our group that need love, justice, kindness, mercy and truth, it is all those whom our own group comes in contact with. Thus, in seeking our own group's cause, we forget or choose not to care about others. As stated in Speak Out,  this can be done in the name of God, people, our nation, or our beliefs. But unfortunately, we often become the last ones who are willing to recognize how and why we hurt others while we put our group first.








Monday, April 10, 2017

ONIM For April 10, 2017

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