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This Month's Scripture Verse:

Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless -- Ecclesiastes 5:10


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For May 11, 2016

May 3

To Bruce Fronen and his blogpost on the diminishing role of religion on the public square as illustrated by the Obergefell decision. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

This article has two problems. First, it conflates two distinct cases: Obergefell v Hodges and Little Sisters of the Poor. In one, the court is deciding whether religion can be used to deny people who have other beliefs from practicing a right to same-sex marriage. In the other, the court is deciding if it should force a religious institution against its will, and thus possibly violate its rights, into paying for contraceptives.

Second, this article uses a straw man for its argument. The public square allows for religion to be used as a basis for law. For example, when Martin Luther King Jr. campaigned for civil rights and economic justice, people did not mind that he based his case on religion because he was campaigning for the recognition of rights for all. So why is religion being seen as the enemy to rights in the Obergefell vs Hodges case? Because here, the religious dictates of some are being used to possibly deny or not recognize the rights of those who believe differently.

When religion is used to share society with others as equals, religion has been welcomed on the public square. But when it is used to deny equal rights for one or more groups because a religious group wants to dictate what all in society must do or be prohibited from doing, providing that what is being done does not violate the rights of others, that religion is held up for disdain and rightly so since society is made up of all kinds of believers as well as nonbelievers.

Finally, it is the Church's job, not society's to warn people of God's judgment. To make it society's job is to subject society to the Church. Don't people in the Church realize that if they wanted to be subject to the Church, they would join it?


May 5

Should note that two other comments were accepted on the article's discussion prior to this one. Normally, I would then not post this comment, but the ideas referenced in this comment are important. So credit should be given to R. Scott Clark for his posting of the other two comments and that he did not post this comment is understandable.

To R.Scott Clark and his response to me stating that we have rights other than those stipulated by The Constitution. This was part of the discussion in the article on the 10 million Americans. This was posted in the Heidelblog

Dr Clark,
First, thank you for the conversation.

Second, statement  'that is profoundly wrong' is a bit ambiguous because I am not sure whether you are saying that in response to my first paragraph, my second one, or the whole note. Please  note that I didn't limit the rights we had to what was explicitly stated in The Constitution. I put in conjunction with that that rights that are recognized could be derived from what was written in The Constitution

I fully agree that the Bill Of Rights is not exhaustive, morally speaking. But when it comes to the law and court cases, I don't know of a single right that has been recognized by SCOTUS  apart from what is written in The Constitution. Perhaps you could provide an example where SCOTUS recognized a right apart from The Constitution

Third, not sure why you referred to the 2nd Amendment. A literalist interpretation of that amendment would always put the right to bear arms in the context of the nation's need for a militia and The Constitution was very explicit on who pays for the arming and training of the militia and who is the commander of the militia. Recent cases on the right to bear arms still use the 2nd Amendment as a basis regardless of whether they use a literalist interpretation or not. BTW, the other parts of The Constitution strongly indicate that the anti-Federalist position on the right to bear arms is not Constitutional. Nor is the anti-Federalist position supported by the historical context that called for the writing of The Constitution


May 6

To Joseph Sunde and his blogpost denying that America is a Christian nation while asserting that the Church as an organism should try to influence society and the state. His blogpost referred to the book One Nation Under God. This appeared in the Acton blog.

I have to agree with the basic idea that we have always been living in exile. The notion that America was ever a Christian nation has always been false. But the idea that America is a Christian nation does not belong to that of liberal theology--though I can't remember a liberal theologian who ever claimed this--alone, in contrast to what Russell Moore stated. Nor did it start with the Christian revisionism of David Barton and others like him.

The idea that America was a Christian nation really began with the first settlers and our nation's Founding Fathers. After all, didn't these people regard America as a 'city on a hill' and a "new Israel' (see http://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/the-colonial-view-of-america-as-a-new-israel )? Indeed, these references might be what Barton and others were referring to when claiming that America is a Christian nation. We should note, and the following is from the same reference just cited, that the belief that one's nation had a covenant with God existed before the Puritans landed here and was thought to be referring to England. It is quite possible that referring to one's own nation as a Christian nation or one that has a covenant with God is an expression of self-aggrandizement and that all of us are vulnerable to this weakness.

But Sunde wants to make an important distinction between America not being classified as a Christian nation from America not having any significant Christian influences. This is an important distinction to make. In doing so, he refers to a distinction made by the book One Nation Under God by Bruce Ashford and Chris Pappalardo. 

In that book, the authors distinguish the Church as an institution from the Church as an organism. The Church as an institution refers to how the Church an organism. As an institution the Church in its official capacity does not address issues of politics. But the Church as an organism can because the Church as an organism consists of the church members as they go out into the world an work as individuals.

The problem with this distinction is that it doesn't address the issue of how much control should the Church try to exercise over society and its laws. For if society's laws are nothing more than a repeat of parts of the Scriptures or Church laws so that those who have different beliefs have their rights infringed on, does the source of those laws, that is whether the source is from the Church as an institution or the Church as an organism, matter? The issue here isn't really which part of the Church is trying to influence the state, the issue is whether the Church is seeking a privileged place in society that would give it the ability to control society's laws to the degree that society does not equally belong to all of its members..

A different template to follow would be that of whether the Church is looking to share society with others as equals or whether the Church wants to establish a dominant position in society when it tries to influence society. We should note that not only should it not matter that the Church as an institution should try to influence society, at times it must. We should note here that in the 1933 Concordat between the Nazi government and the Roman Church, the Nazi State prohibited the Roman Church as an institution, and this was extended to the Protestant Church too, from intervening in politics. Hasn't history taught us that there are times when the Church as an institution must speak out against the sins of the state and society?

Perhaps a positive model regarding the relationship between the Church and the State could be found in Martin Luther King's activism. First, we should note that King worked against racism, war and militarism, and economic injustice. His activism was overtly Christian and thus he was trying to influence society's way of life and laws with the Gospel. And since he was a minister who worked with other ministers and Christian organizations, we could say that his work was, at least partially, an example of the Church as an institution trying to influence society and the state. 

But there is also a difference in how King tried to use his faith to change the then existing laws and culture. King worked for changes that expanded freedoms and promote equality. Recent Church as organism has been tribal in terms of what freedoms it is defending. Thus, the Church has been seeking privilege for itself rather than freedom and equality for themselves and others. So perhaps King provides us with a more Gospel honoring model for how the Church should try to make its mark in society and the state than the model provided by the book referred to in the article above.


To Joe Carter and his blogpost on Christianity and the development of Capitalism. This appeared in the Acton blog.

There is a real problem not with just what was written above, but with the conjunction of the above article with what has been previously stated in prior blogposts on this website. What has been emphasized on this website is the economic freedom and liberty for those who own businesses Certainly the consolidation of wealth poses a threat to the rest. But how can the consolidation of wealth and a non-exploitive interest rate be maintained under the flag of economic freedom. For the more economic freedom or liberty there is, the more people who own businesses are free to make as much as they can. The income of those who excel in a business where there is at least a very good demand will have opportunities to build up to exceptional levels. And thus you have the consolidation of wealth.

Likewise, the more economic freedom there is, the more a lender can charge as high an interest rate as he/she can get away with. The higher the interest rate charged, the more the lending approaches usury. 

So how does all of this involve Christianity? It involves far more than what was written above about Bernadine and his approval of lenders charging interest and developing the concept of capital. How this involves Christianity depends on which side of the economic freedom issue one comes down on. Now if all in society belonged to the Church, the Church could set standards that would prevent the consolidation of wealth and the practice of usury and could discipline those who violate those standards. But ultimate Church discipline consists of excommunication which involves expelling a person from the Church while that person remains in society and that would mean that not all of society would belong to the Church. So that leaves the government responsible for monitoring the consolidation of wealth and the setting of interest rates. But such would approach contradicting much of what has been written on this website about economic freedom and liberty.

In reality, we have multiple branches of Christian thought on capital and wealth. But considering that wealth and capital involve spheres outside of the Church, the Church's influence on the accumulation of wealth and the setting of interest rates is partial at best and depends on a number of societal, including governmental, factors.


May 7

To Denny Burk and his blogpost on where we are going with gender identity issues in society. He references an article by Joe Carter that says the current trend to put gender on a continuum puts women at risk for gender discrimination. Burk’s blogpost appears in Denny Burk’s blog.

Shared with Joe Carter’s original article on May 9 on the Gospel Coalition website but the comment was blocked there too.

I don't think Carter's article is accurate regarding the Justice Department's actions regarding  gender classification. We should note that self-referencing when documenting claims about a group, which is what Carter does when documenting his claims about the LGBTQ community, is of no help in proving one's case.

Yes, gender has now been put on a continuum and we know from the Scriptures that this is wrong. But we just don't live in the Church, we live in society and society contains a mix of both Christians and  nonChristians. And we have nonChristian institutions recognizing the gender continuum and that continuum in no way resembles what  Carter began to list such as the 51 gender categories on Facebook.

For example, take the Mayo Clinic's approach to gender in how it  defines and responds to gender dysphoria (see http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/psychiatry-psychology/mayo-provides-integrated-care-for-people-with-gender-dysphoria ). According to its own article, the Clinic no longer recognizes gender as being discrete classifications. Instead, it puts gender identity on a continuum but not in the same way Carter hinted at in his article cited above.

As for bathrooms, why the NC law is inadequate could very well be because the questionable bathroom selection is for others besides those who have had the surgery that has changed their gender. It is for those who have yet had the surgery but are living life as being a member of the other gender because doing so is a prerequisite for that surgery.

As for the possible discrimination that Carter sees, we should note that that standard has a double-edged sword in that women are trying to break anyway. Here, we should think of the examples of women trying break into a man's world where physical demands are an issue such as where women are trying to become worthy of being assigned to combat units and to special forces. Anyway, how many jobs are there that demand that a person must lift objects of a minimum weight? I don't see where this discrimination is going to come into play from what Joe described. BTW, we should note how women are still facing gender discrimination in society outside of laws that determine who can use which bathroom.

We know as Christians that the current gender definition trend is wrong. But such does not imply that it  should be unacceptable in society. That is because society is a mix of both Christians and nonChristian.  Perhaps, we should rely on Christian methods here to answer the mistakes currently being made by our society rather than trying to control it. And by Christian methods, I am referring to the different ways we can use word of mouth to share the Gospel. In that way, we can both draw a line in the sand while respecting the equality of nonChristians in society who do not see gender issues in the same way we do.


May 9

To Bradley Birzer and his blogpost about Communism and the killing fields of Cambodia. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

Considering that the Khmer Rouge instituted one form of Communism and that Communism, like most if not all kinds of isms, is not a monolith, the title and article itself lacks nuance. This is a typical conservative assessment of Communism/Socialism/Marxism that takes away from the positive qualities of the article above. For example the mentioning of Nixon's carpet bombing and how it contributed to the eventual rule of the Khmer Rouge was informative as was a specifics on Pol Pot. However, describing Cambodia as a stable nation during the 1960s was not entirely accurate seeing that  its ruler, Sihanouk, was deposed in 1970 in a military coup and had become more authoritarian from when he began his reign in 1954. Should note that Cambodia had to resist post World War II French attempts to reclaim its colony.

However, in suggesting that all Communism is the same, other factors are often overlooked when discussing certain Communist regimes which either contributed to the authoritarian rule of  those on the Left. In almost every, if not all, instances of totalitarian Communist rule, the kind of government that preceded the Communists were authoritarian whether we list Pol Pot's time in Cambodia to Mao in China to Castro in Cuba to Lenin in Russia. And yet, the authoritarian rule of the previous governments are never mentioned when Communism turns authoritarian. Nor is the fact western aggression to new regimes or emerging movement is most often not mentioned as a factor. Of course the above article is an exception to that rule. But in each case that Conservatives like to bring up about Communism becoming totalitarian, Those two factors are rarely mentioned.

I am not defending the horrendous rule of Pol Pot or of his ties to Communistic ties to Mao and that they identified themselves as Communists. They should be written about as Pol Pot's rule was written about above. But with the Paris Commune and the Spanish Revolution serving as counter examples to Conservatives' generalizations about the Left and with Western, especially American, policies to  destabilize and subsequently overthrow  Left Leaning governments that emerged from democracies, and the replacing of those regimes with dictators puts into question the broad-brushing of  Communism/Socialism/Marxism as always resulting in tyranny.


May 10

More than for other blogposts I comment on, it is important to access the blogpost to see what I am responding to.

To Joe Carter and his blogpost containing 6 Hayek quotes on important subjects. This appeared on the Acton blog.

Let's assess each of these six statements.

1.    On Faith in Freedom: What is said here is true. But we also need to note that there are two kinds of  freedom: group freedom exercised in democracy and individual freedom. And it seems that conservatives who follow Hayek's economics are more tolerant of the decisions that result from individual freedom than from group freedom. And that is true for good reason. The two can sometimes collide.

2.    On Equality: As with the first statement, there is something that is missing. What is missing is a statement about equality by the law. It is easy to support the idea that we must all be equal under the law.  But equality by the law, I need a better term to express this concept, says that the law is written so as to protect the sharing of society with all others as equals. Thus, the laws that are passed that avoid both giving some groups privileges over the rest and marginalizing groups in society.

3.    On Democracy: If we pay attention to Hayek's argument for a limited democracy, we'll note that he views democracy as posing the greatest threat to government. Along with the example he provides, it seems that he, along with Madison, believes that government's purpose is to protect wealth--though he calls it the 'market place.' We should note how democracy differs from the market place. When working correctly, democracy is based on a one person, one vote system. The market place is based on a one dollar, one vote system.

    We should also note here that democracy is a rival to Hayek's belief in individual freedom as preventing the consolidation of power. But it seems here that the only consolidation of power Hayek is concerned with is consolidation in the public sector, that is government authority. He seems not to be concerned with the consolidation of power in the private sector. His consolidation of power in the private sector must not be confused with Democracy because the latter distributes power rather than consolidates it. Thus, the more limited a democratic government is, the more that power can be consolidated and used by elites from the private sector.

    We should also note that democracy is the only avenue by which there can exist the self-rule of a group by its members.

    Finally, if we are going to talk about limited democracy, it should be placed in the context of talking about a full democracy. A limited or partial democracy states that a specific subgroup has control over all others in the group or society in terms of self rule. A full democracy all groups share society as equals and thus share a certain power that protects that equality.

4.    On Wealth and Power:  What is implied in Hayek's statement here is that he seems to equate power with authority. And thus, according to him, he believes that it is far better for the wealthy, or private sector elites, to acquire power than those who are powerful, that is those from the public sector, to acquire wealth. And this belief begs the question of a significant character difference between both groups where those with wealth are deemed to be more reliable and are more trustworthy than those with power. Along with his view of democracy, it is clear that Hayek favors that those with wealth should rule over the rest. With that being the case, whose freedom is Hayek most interested in?

5.    On Private Property:  Two points to note here. Like individual freedom, the use of private property is not, nor should it ever be, absolute. Consider owning a car. Owning a car doesn't excuse you from certain maintenance responsibilities designed to keep your car safe both for your own sake and the sake of others. The same goes for the ownership of all private property. When someone's ownership of private property can hurt the welfare of others or infringe on their rights, then society, hopefully through a democracy, has the right to step in and infringe on how one owns and uses his/her property.

    We should also note what Martin Luther King said of property rights (see http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm):

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

According to King's statement then, Hayek proposes an economic that is unable to rid the world of racism and war. It is assumed that the purpose of Hayek's  statements here is to expand materialism.

6.    On Ignorance::   One should note here that the more one pleads for the liberty of others, the more one must plead for democracy. But such contradicts what Hayek said about democracy--see point #2 of Carter's blogpost article. Democracy is what best protects us from the consolidation of power because it protects us from the consolidation of power  in either the public or private sectors.  For the more we have democracy, the more power is distributed amongst all of us. But the more one stresses individual liberty at the expense of democracy,  the more  one pushes for powerful elites from the private sector. And perhaps one of the reasons why Hayek doesn't see this is because he did not see the difference between power and authority.

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