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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, August 3, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For August 3, 2016

July 26

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on how the Church should interact in the world in secular matters. This appeared in Heidelblog.

The Thomist model of grace is not the only issue when comparing Transformationalism with 2KT. We need to ask how are we Christians are suppose to share society with others. Are we to share society as equals or as assuming a place of privilege over nonChristians. Regarding this question, if we  avoid using the Christian definition of Natural law, we see that 2KT has an edge over Transformationalism because it is more prone to having Christians share society with others as equals.

However, 2KT is not without its faults. And one of those faults is that with 2KT, the Church is forbidden from prophetically speaking against corporate sins of society and the state. Here, we should note that the NeoCalvinist branch of the Transformationalists often act as if they were forbidden to address the corporate sins of society and the state, though that is not what they believe, lest we think that all Transformationalists have a decided edge over 2Kers.

This should be brought up because the Thomist notion of grace is not the only issue involved. There are more practical issues involved here such as the question of how should we share society with others and the Church fulfilling its responsibility to speak prophetically to society and the state about corporate sins. To not include these issues is to run a greater risk at churches either trying too hard to be relevant or failing to speak prophetically to society and the state about their corporate sins.


July 28

To Joseph Pearce and his blogpost encouraging us to talk about religion and politics in order to blame secular fundamentalists for trying to take away our religious freedom. This appeared in the Acton Blog.

If we want to know why "God has been taken from the public square,'  we should note what his believers were doing when they were in and even ruled over the public square. If we want to complain about the persecution of Christians during the French Revolution, we should note how the Church supported the aristocracy over against the public. In fact, if we look at the pre revolutionary times of the other major revolutions in Europe, the Russian and the Spanish, we find the same condition: the Church supported wealth and power over against the people. Wouldn't it be natural, then, for those who overthrew the oppressors of their time and place to label the Church as the enemy?

When we look at the Church throughout American history, we some similarities. While the Church tries to impose its religious moral values on unbelievers in society despite the First Amendment, it either passively or actively supports wealth and power here. Note that the Church, that would be the Conservative Protestant Church in America since, like the Roman Church before the French and Spanish Revolutions and the Orthodox Church before the Russian Revolution is the most dominant branch of the Church in America, has supported both an economic system that is based on exploitation and a national imperialism in the name of patriotism. And while doing all of that, it has tried to make people believe that their personal moral failures, especially their sexual sins, are the sole reason why our nation's future sees ominous clouds on the horizon.

We should also note the Church's history in addressing racism in our nation and how, at best, it inadequately addresses economic classism. And what is odd is that on a Roman Catholic site like this one, this post that pretends that the American Church, a church of a different branch than the Roman Catholic one, speaks as if it belongs to the same branch as the American Church in defending its agenda of imposing religious values on others. And yet, in the article above, only those who are secular are portrayed as acting as threats to others.

But such makes sense. While in trying to rule over those who are resistant, it makes sense to try to divert people's attention away from one's own sins lest the people resist even more than before.


July 29

To John D. Wilsey and his blogpost on what Tocqueville would think of Trump as a politician. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative

Being a member of the aristocracy, I doubt if Tocqueville really understood Democracy. We shouldn't forget that democracy had a tough start in America. It was originally meant for white male landowners since they were the only ones allowed to vote when The Constitution was ratified. In addition, Tocqueville had racist views towards both Native Americans and Blacks. And he regarded British Society to be the most superior society in the world. My guess is that much of which he admired in America came from Britain.

But he is right, though not alone, in saying that a certain set of ethics is required to make Democracy work. But it isn't just Democracy that is dependent on a set of ethics to work, there is no political system that can succeed independent of the ethics and morality of the people. We might be free to choose our values, but we are not free to choose the consequences of those values.

Tocqueville's understanding of Democracy is rather limited and that is partly due to the objects of his observation. We had a limited democracy back then. It wasn't meant for all races, classes, or even genders. Thus, the dangers of self-interest without restraint should have been obvious. For example, it wasn't until 1856 that all White men could vote. It wasn't until 1869 that all men, regardless of race, could vote. Note that women were still left out. We should also note that England was not much better than we were when it came to voting rights. So considering that Tocqueville made his observations of America in 1831 to 1832 and he regarded British society to be the most superior society in the world, there wasn't much for him to look at and yet we seem to attribute much authority to his writings on Democracy. And perhaps we do so in backdoor effort to flatter ourselves.

As for Trump, the reason why arguments and pleas fall on deaf ears when directed to his supporters is because they see the failures of the establishment, of those who manage and maintain the status quo. And because no one who appeals to his followers want to acknowledge those failures, his supporters feel no obligation to listen. Yes, Trump is horrible. But so have many of those who have had the proper religion, ethics, and display the proper etiquette. This is interpreted by his believers that such is of no value in a candidate. In fact, to some, Trump's brashness is regarded as a badge of courage for he says what is on his mind regardless of who objects. This makes Trump the ultimate anti-PC candidate.

Finally, we should note that our loyalty to the past, to the two-party system, and to our favorite authoritarians have prevented us from branching out of that two-party system. That is why we have the major party candidates that we have today. I would think that in addition to citing Tocqueville, that because of his limitations, we should also cite others who have written about democracy. Of course that won't be done by those whose narratives are supported by Tocqueville's arguments. Such is the nature of self-interest.


To Denny Burk and his blogpost on the Democrats in their convention applauding a speaker who mentions that she got an abortion. This appeared in Denny Burk’s blog.

Is applauding abortion any different than applauding America's use of force or applauding America's increase in extracting and using fossil fuels regardless of the harm it does to the environment and the future threat it poses to life? Is applauding abortion worse than reveling in an economic system that relies on exploitation and increases wealth disparity knowing that the number of premature deaths has a positive correlation with poverty.

I vote for nonconservative third party candidates  despite their stance on the abortion issue because for as long as we are wrecking the world by waging wars and destroying the environment, we make abortion a moot point and we destroy our pro-life street cred when we do not oppose those activities.

To Joe Carter and his blogpost on what we should know about the Democratic Party Platform. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Perhaps the most important thing we should know about either party's platform is that they are marketing tools designed to sell the respective parties to the public. It's not that the platforms themselves carry no information about the intention of the respective party should they gain power, it is that other indicators should be used in order to know what to expect should a given political party gain power. And one such indicator is past performance. Obama's tenure has shown a very business-friendly position that should cause us to question his concerns for the rest of America. The same can be applied to the Republicans when Bush was President. In addition, Obama has shown himself to be just as militaristic as Bush was. The biggest difference between the two revolves around the battle between social liberals and social conservatives.

In addition, we should study the statements made in both platforms and think which of those statements are for show and which ones are feasible. For example, can the Democrats end mass incarceration and the use of privately owned, for profit prisons when the vast majority of prisoners reside in state and local prisons (see http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/21/us/politics/obama-downsize-prisons-mass-incarceration.html?_r=0 ).

Will the Democrats keep their promise to be careful in entering trade agreements  when Obama, with bipartisan support, has done all he can to fast track the TPP knowing that with each trade agreement and organization we enter, we lose a degree of national sovereignty. For example, with the TPP, foreign and domestic corporations can sue our government over laws it passes if these laws are seen as impeding their profits, but governments cannot return the favor. These ejudications are decided not in our courts, but in mechanisms provided by the trade agreements and organizations we enter. We should note that a US law requiring the labeling of the origin of meat had to be struck down because the WTO threatened to impose billions of dollars in sanctions against the US. Will the Democrats favor leaving the WTO over this?

Finally, we should note that what rules the US is its economic structure. And that structure gives more and more power to private sector elites They are the ones who write the biggest campaign checks. And thus, they are the ones who call many of the shots for both major political party. And this is why paying attention to past performance gives a stronger indicator of future performance than party platforms do.


Aug 2

To Joe Carter and his blogpost on the effects of Venezuela's Socialism on its people. This appeared in the Acton Blog.

Tell-tale signs of an overly simplistic analysis is that it often looks for a single scapegoat on which to explain a problem. Such is Carter's analysis here. We can see examples of  Venezuela's "socialism" that have succeeded when we look at Europe. True, not all were as socialistic as Venezuela, but they existed on the same continuum.

In addition, Venezuela is also reliving a past that preceded Chavez. The same boom-to-bust economy existed for the nation from the 70s into the 80s as oil prices first surged and then collapsed.
In addition, we have the workings of the opposition and possible participation by the US in sabotaging the Chavez government. Documentation of that opposition and possible US involvement came to a head in the 2002 coup. The opposition to Chavez survived though it was temporarily defeated. And one only needs to look at US interventions elsewhere to see that suspecting US involvement in Venezuela's problems, both past and present, is rational rather than an example of paranoia. Chile, Italy, Iran, Guatemala, and others provide examples of how the US has tried to destabilize nations or even overthrow their governments. So when we see articles like the one provided by Telesur (see https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/clinton-emails-reveal-direct-us-sabotage-of-venezuela/ ), it is worth reading and seeing what can be proven and makes sense and what does not.

In addition, you have the performance of the Chavez government that was lulled into a false sense of security when oil prices were higher along with a lack of planning or carrying through on promises, such as fighting a serious problem with corruption which predated Chavez, all of which contributed to Venezuela's current state. Despite some successes in helping the vulnerable, Chavez seemed overwhelmed for the responsibilities he placed on himself.

Also, a lack of true socialism in Venezuela was noted during discussions at the Left Forum in 2015--I witnessed some of these discussions. The concern expressed there was that worker participation in government and control over the workplace was not taking place. Though unlike the Soviet Union in terms of personal freedoms, Venezuela was very much like the Soviet Union in relying on elite-centered rule. A counterexample to Venezuela's Socialism can be found in a talk given in Caracus in July of this year by ZCommunications's Michael Albert (see https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/participatory-economics-the-bolivarian-revolution/ ). Here, we should note Rosa Luxemberg's claims against Lenin.

Finally, we should note how conditions in the US are. We do have a growing wealth disparity both overall and by race. And according to the Census Bureau statistics from 2011, 1 out of every 5 children in the US live in poverty (see http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/by-the-numbers-childhood-poverty-in-the-u-s/ ). In addition, we have been classified as an oligarchy (see http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746 ). We have more corruption than many other nations because we have legalized it or have refused to prosecute most of our political-private sector elites corruption.

There are a number of factors that have played into Venezuela's misfortunes and to scapegoat a single factor in order to make an ideological point accomplishes nothing more than to provide an example of opportunism. Of course, such turns a blind eye to the economic based social problems Venezuela had before Chavez.

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