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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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Monday, February 18, 2019

ONIM For February 18, 2019

10 Best Fact Checking Sites Found Here.

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 most of the stories linked to here.
 
Christian News

World News

Israel-Palestine News

Donald Trump News

Pick(s) Of The Litter

Just For Fun









Friday, February 15, 2019

Something Is Missing In he Church's Response To Sexual Abuse Scandals

Trevin Wax (click here for a bio) writes honestly and sorrowfully about the recent sexual abuse allegations that have been made about some leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention churches (click here for the story). He rightly wants all Christians to look at a very ugly part of the Church in order that we can take steps to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation from taking place in the Church again. And Trevin is a good writer to pay attention to.

In his article (click here for the article), which appeared in the Gospel Coalition website, his article contains his own thoughts and the thoughts of a few other Christians asking what can be done to stop predators in their tracks. And asking that cannot be a more pressing issue for the Church. We must ask what can we do to prevent predators from obtaining opportunities to traumatize others.

But there is another ugly side to sexual abuse in the Church that is not being asked. That question is this: How do some fellow Christians become sexual predators? Asking that question requires that we try to understand why some become sexually abusive. And trying to meet that requirement is like asking us to try to understand why the terrorists attacked our nation on 9/11. For some, trying to understand the 9/11 attacks implies that we are trying to either absolve the terrorists from guilt or portray them as victims. The same applies to the call to try to understand why some become abusive.

A better way to look at trying to understand why people become sexual predators is to say that by such understanding, perhaps we can stop sexual abuse of those who are vulnerable before it can start. What if by education we can learn what contributes to people becoming sexually abusive, do we not have a better chance at changing what we teach and expose others to so that fewer people become predators? And perhaps the most sensitive question for us religiously conservative Christians is this: What if some of the Church's teaching on sex is contributing to some becoming sexually abusive? Would we be willing to change what we teach?

The time is now not just to shore up our defenses in order to protect the vulnerable, it is also time to study what contributes to a person becoming sexually abusive.


But there is a fly in the ointment here. That fly is that us religiously conservative Christians pride ourselves in explaining people better than secular Psychology does. And learning about what makes people predators might have us rely more on the secular social sciences than we would feel comfortable with. Again, there has been a mostly unilateral turf battle between religiously conservative Christian leaders and the social sciences over who has a greater understanding of people. Our leaders often tell us how Psychology doesn't account for God or sin in understanding people. And our best encounters with the secular social sciences still portray our fellow Christians as having a better understanding of people than those secular Psychologists. For our best encounters consist of religious conservative Christians christianizing the psychological concepts they learn. That effort to christianize those concepts sometimes ensures that, in our own minds, we remain superior to secular therapists in being able to help people. But that also leaves many of the rest of us insulated from we can learn from secular disciplines.

Yes, we urgently need to ask and answer questions regarding how we can prevent sexual predators from gaining opportunities to abuse others. But maybe it is also time for us to go with pen and notebook in hand to secular social scientists in order to learn about the dynamics involved in people becoming sexually abusive and whether what we teach each other are involved in those dynamics. Doing so might be painful for us today, but it certainly cannot even be as painful to those who will become abuse victims tomorrow.





 


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For February 13, 2019

February 12

To Jerry Salyer and his blogpost about how Lord Acton, though opposing slavery, believed that the South should have won the Civil War. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

There seems to be a contradiction that exists in Lord Acton's view regarding who should have won the Civil War. For on one hand, Acton opposed slavery and opposed the centralization that came with the Union; on the other hand he thought that the Confederacy, whose society was far more hierarchical than society in the North, should have won. And here we should include that that hierarchy was at least partially based on race. Acton opposed centralization because it stifled communities and individuals. But what did he think occurred in Southern society?

Certainly Whites weren't infringed on by the hierarchical society of the South like Blacks were. Whites had much more freedom of movement with the lowest of the Whites being recognized as superior to Blacks. Blacks had little to no freedom of movement. And their lack of movement was far more telling during Jim Crow than during slavery. Why? It is because while slavery was done away with; after reconstruction, the old Southern hierarchy returned and was going strong. How can one have any admiration for Southern culture, political and otherwise, if it use to be a driving force promoting slavery while one thought slavery was wrong? Should we ask whether Acton's relative blindness to the harm that Southern hierarchy  did to Black communities and individuals after slavery while celebrating what White communities and individuals could enjoy indicates a racism on Acton's part? There is certainly at least one insurmountable contradiction that exists.
If we are going to use centralization as a motif by which we judge who should have won the Civil War, should we not object more to the hierarchy based society of the South, that enabled both slavery and Jim Crow than to the Union? Or did Lord Acton only object to slavery while embracing White Supremacy? Just because hierarchy in Southern states was a couple of steps below the hierarchy that came with the centralization that existed in the Union, there is no sufficient reason for favoring the South over the North--even though the North had plenty of warts itself. Rather, centralization can be judged both as a structure and by how the structure is used. And certainly, though the Union represented a greater centralization of power, its stewardship of power was far more moral than the stewardship of power exercised by individual elites in the Southern states.

My gut feeling is that any centralization of governmental power is opposed by religiously conservative Christians because the latter sees a turf battle between the reach of the government and the reach of the Church. And the inability or unwillingness to see the inherent contradictions of Lord Acton's views illustrates the compromises made by some in that turf battle.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To Mark Malvasi and his blogpost that defines America and attributes its sins to individualism.  This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

To attribute the abuses that occur in America to individualism seems to be the Achilles' Heel of the article. After all, like nationalism, individualism implies little. How people will express their individuality is a mystery. For Individualism doesn't tell us the motive for either good or bad behaviors. It simply indicates a freedom to not conform. And here the question must be asked, not to conform to what?

To assume that all our sins were do to individualism,  is to imply that conformity is always righteous. But the reality of the situation is that from the beginning, defining America depends on whom we ask. Should we ask Native Americans who were ethnically cleansed from the land to define America? Or should we ask immigrants who have come to live in America to define America? After all, asking immigrants might be a better choice to ask than those who are born citizens because they came here for a reason and they have something to compare America with.

We could also ask those who were born citizens of America to define America, but there are problems with that. First, their definition of America might be skewed by their lot in life. Second, a person's pride and patriotism might also blind one from giving anything but an answer that invites worship of America.
If we define America by its founders, we cannot eliminate racism from the definition. For most, if not all of our founding fathers were racists and sexists. What was declared to be the God-given rights of all people were actually assumed to belong to white males only. And it took the literal blood and guts of many people to expand recognition of those rights to Blacks and other minority groups and then to women. And currently the LGBT community is working to gain full equality in society--something which the other groups have yet to fully enjoy.

Finally, it isn't individualism that drives us to exploit and abuse others even though one can sometimes point to it as a factor. Rather, it is greed and a sense of entitlement based on the assumption of superiority over others that lies at the root of exploitation and abuse of others. Greed and that sense of entitlement gave our forefathers permission to ethnically cleanse Native Americans from the land and to try to forever treat Blacks and others as being inferior.

In addition, fueled by that sense of entitlement fueled by American exceptionalism has given our leaders permission to rely on the rule of force, rather than the rule of law, to get what they can in the world. We've have consistently replaced democracies with dictatorships. And we have backed other dictatorships provided that they serve our national interests, which is a euphemism for the interests of our nation's largest businesses.

Yes, America has many different definitions, it has no single unified definition. One only needs to read Frederick Douglass's speech on the meaning of the Fourth of July to understand that there is no one definition of America (see http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/douglassjuly4.html   )





Tuesday, February 12, 2019

We Currently Have No Chance At Solving Our Problems

If the Russian Revolution tells us anything, it tells us that to get real change, we must do more than just change the places of the first and last place teams, we must change the game. When the Russian Revolution succeeded in overthrowing the Tsars in the February, 1917 Revolution and then in overthrowing the provisional government in October of the same year, tyrannical rule was kept only it was practice by a new group.
 

Thus, both revolutions failed. Why? It was because the revolutionaries sought their own power. The provisional government replaced the Tsars in the February Revoution. And though they didn't rule with the iron hand, they didn't share power.

More often than not, when revolutionaries seek to replace the current leaders by force, they are not seeking to change the game by which government operates, they only seek to take the place of those who were ruling and they are willing to use the same methods and force to maintain their power as it took to put them in power. Thus, the game never changed except for the identity of the first and last place teams did.


While talking with one high school student at church, I recommended that he watch the PBS special on the Freedom Riders (click here). Like those participating in the Russian Revolution, the Freedom Riders sought to change the great injustices they saw. But they did things differently than Russians did. The Freedom Riders abstained from violence; they abstained from both external and internal violence. And the Freedom Riders enjoyed more and longer lasting success than those participating in the Russian Revolution.

This should teach us something. Those who use physical or verbal violence to get their way are not seeking to change things for our benefit, they are only seeking power. And that is why we have no real chance to change things today. That is because  over 98% of what we see in the public square is a continual sparring between representatives of different ideological and political groups. We are seeing a continual sparring between  groups that are seeking their own interests.


So we have a choice. We can either join in or we can follow the examples those who who nonviolently participated in the Civil Rights Movement. To follow the former group is to guarantee the status quo only with new faces. To follow the latter group gives us our only chance to change from our current journey to self-destruction.



 

Monday, February 11, 2019

ONIM For February 11, 2019

10 Best Fact Checking Sites Found Here.

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 most of the stories linked to here.
 
Christian News


World News


Israel-Palestine News

Donald Trump News


Pick(s) Of The Litter


Just For Fun








Friday, February 8, 2019

The Problem With Heroes

In a recent article published on the Imaginative Conservative website, Craig Montesano laments on how Lee has been treated in modern times (click here for the article, a brief bio of Montesano comes with the article). For Montesano regards Lee as a hero of significant stature, but some of Lee's 21st century reviews seemed to have caused irreparable damage to his reputation and the current times demand that Lee's pedestal be destroyed and Lee be forgotten.

Lee is admired for his character and military abilities. But his belief in white supremacy and that he fought in a war to maintain that supremacy along with his fondness for hierarchy are part of what shows Lee to have feet of clay.

Montesano is honest and upfront with Lee's failures and defects. Nevertheless, he wants Lee to be placed on a significantly high pedestal. Certainly Montesano believes that Lee's pedestal should be not as tall as others might want, but he wants a society and culture in which we look up to people like Lee. And in that sense, Montesano, like Lee, prefers a hierarchical society. Thus, he prefers a society that retains a certain degree of authoritarianism.




But what Montesano wants in society just might be what causes his heroes, like Lee, to be endangered. Why is that?

Authoritarianism can include the authoritarian personality type. So as a society leans toward authoritarianism, its people tend to naturally exhibit the traits of  an authoritarian personality type. Part of that ,includes the employment of a simple black-white, all-or-nothing thinking. With such thinking, people tend to use a very limited set of criteria, while ignoring a much larger set of information, to form its opinions of others. If that set of criteria is met, then the person in question becomes a saint regardless of any of their faults and sins. If that criteria is not met, then the person in question is demonized regardless of their contributions and positive qualities.

And thus, both the times and Montesano show traits of embracing the type of thinking associated with the authoritarian personality type. Montesano embraces that thinking because of his fondness for hierarchy. Our current times often display this type of thinking despite rejecting both the metanarratives of the past and the worship of past heroes. Why? Because despite the rejection of heroes and supposed rejection of authoritarianism from the past,  modern times have emerged from an authoritarian culture and thus have been taught to analyze life by employing black-white thinking. The total rejection of people like Lee who have committed certain sins shows this all-or-nothing thinking. And thus just as Lee's contributions and positive qualities cause Montesano to perhaps minimize Lee's faults and failures, so many people today tend to minimize Lee's contributions and positive traits because of his faults and sins.

The more a society welcomes hierarchy and engages in hero worship, the more it employs the kind of the thinking that can pose a danger to the status of the heroes who are worshiped. That is because the more a society welcomes hierarchy and engages in hero worship, the more it teaches its future generations to employ the same kind of black-white thinking it does.

The more we engage in black-white thinking, the more we will either keep our heroes on high pedestals regardless of their faults or joyfully knock them off of their pedestals out of a self-righteous revenge. The less we engage in black-white thinking, the fewer heroes we will have and the safer they will be because the pedestals on which we place them will be sufficiently modest so that any fall will not prohibit us from seeing their good qualities and contributions.

Certainly Montesano displays a positive bias for Robert E. Lee. But that does not prevent him from writing a fair and upfront evaluation of Lee. His article is a worthwhile read. And he wants people to regard Lee as a flawed hero. But in the end, I believe that Montesano doesn't realize that the kind of hierarchical culture he desires to exist is what prevents people like Lee from receiving the credit that Montesano believes he deserves.








Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For February 6, 2019

Jan 31

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote from Kevin DeYoung trying to distance slavery from the spirituality of the Presbyterian Church. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

The litmus test of whether slavery was referenced to by the Church implies nothing about the spirituality of the Church. For we need to ask whether the spirituality of the Church that preceded slavery contained elements that contributed to the promotion of slavery. After all, the Southern Presbyterian Church did support slavery. And no doubt that, though not supporting slavery, there were Northern Presbyterians who believed in white supremacy.

What is clear from DeYoung's article (see https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/two-cheers-spirituality-church/ ) is that the spirituality of the Presbyterian Church came from Calvin and Beza. And though I am not familiar enough with Beza to comment on his influence, it is clear that if some of today's categories were applied to Calvin, he, like Luther, would be  seen as possessing an Authoritarian Personality Type. Such a personality type says little to nothing regarding how we relate to God, but it does speak volumes to how one can overreact with hostility and aggression to challenges to preferred sources of human authority and traditions. And it is that kind of personality type that could help facilitate institutions like slavery and/or white supremacy into society.

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Feb 5

To Paul Krause and his blogpost that tries to demonstrate how, generally speaking, the media and universities have disdain for the common man as they promote their top-down ideologies. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

The above article does everything to stoke the already present fears that some, especially conservatives, have of the media and universities without testing the validity of those fears. Declarations are made about the media and universities in general but no evidence is offered to support the declarations. In essence, we have just another 'fake news' cry made famous by Donald Trump.

Compare Krause's article with a book general claims about the media except that the book mentioned  went to great lengths to provide evidence of its claims. The book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy Of The Mass Media did more than just assert that the media is a servant to its corporate owners and advertisers, it showed data to support the claims. And the claims were not that the media published fake news, it was that through over reporting on one set of stories, and underreporting, if not ignoring, others, the media used emphasis to try to control popular opinion.

Was Gramsci's attempt to break narratives due solely to his Marxist roots? Or were imperialism, colonialism, institutional racism, wars, exploitation, economic classism, and so forth realities that moved many people to reject past, established narratives?

Certainly one of the errors of Marxism is that it tries to substitute one class's rule with another. But Church history shows that, for centuries, the Church also has been supporting class rule by aligning itself with money and power. The pre-revolutionary times of France, Russia, and Spain provide examples of that alignment as well as today's religiously conservative Christian support for Neoliberal Capitalism does the same. The religiously conservative Christian Church has little sense of what democracy really means. For to many religiously conservative Christians, democracy is there to provide the political tools for Christians to gain a position of supremacy over society.

But Western Democracy is more than just elections. Jeffersonian Democracy includes a egalitarian state of being where a given democratic nation is to be owned or shared by all of its groups as equal partners regardless of any demographic differences. That means instead of some kind of authoritarian based rule, as the religiously conservative Church has often worked for in groups like the Moral Majority or through individual campaigns like the support for the Defense of Marriage Act, each group is not only to look out for its own interests, each group is to look out for the interests of other gropus in order to prevent marginalization.

Any group that denies or minimizes marginalization or the other problems that Gramsci worked so hard against seems to me to provide evidence that it has communicated a disingenuous disdain for the common man. And that also goes for anyone from the left, right, or liberal side of things who does not believe in sharing power with other groups. Thus, the vanguard approach, on which Gramsci has no monopoly considering how that was Lenin's approach as well as the approach of the Church when it seeks to control society, is the first sign that those seeking to rule for our best interests are no different from past rulers who ruled without pretense.