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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For August 24, 2016

Aug 17

To Bruce Ashford and his blogpost review of Os Guinness’s new book on how Modernity provides the biggest threat to Christianity and Western Civilization. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

I have respect for Guinness but also feel free to disagree with him. I find that the greatest threat to Christianity is not modernity, in which he includes both modernism and post modernism, itself, it is how we interact with it. For in interacting with modernity, we need to distinguish that from which we can learn from that which we must reject. To deny that we have stuff to learn from Modernity puts us Christians at risk for having the arrogance Martin Luther King Jr. saw in the West during the Vietnam War (see  http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm  ):

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

We should remember or learn how Christians treated each other before Modernity. We must know about how Christians persecuted each other, even to the point of death, and how they treated Jews. In addition, Christians weren't all that Christian toward the indigenous people they discovered when enlarging their Western empires. Even with the beginning of our own nation, many Christians persecuted each other and some defended slavery and/or owned slaves as well as participated in the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans. Western Christianity was basically racist and gives evidence of still being that way today. And Modernity has tempered that and has thus has induced some amnesia as evidenced by how we look at the sectarian violence between Muslims today.

Yes, we need to be alert to how Modernity can cause us to compromise our faith. At the same time, we must understand how Modernity has contributed to the Church in tempering the traits that we so easily condemn in others.

Now if I was Guinness, I wouldn't label Modernity as being the biggest threat to Christianity. That is because of the largest threats Christianity faced before Modernity which still exist today. Those threats are the love of wealth and tribalism. Both of these threats cause us Christians to compromise the faith regardless of the time period in which we live. Both the love of wealth and tribalism provide the biggest threat to Christianity because both so strongly challenge our priorities. And by challenging our priorities, they can cause us either to self-destruct or give into external pressure such as the pressures brought to us by Modernity. His apparent concern for both Christianity and Western Civilization indicates that what Guinness seems to be most leery of are changes in the status quo which are not always as much a threat to Christianity as they are to Western Civilization.

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Aug 18

To Denny Burk and his blogpost citing another article on how our children could be taken away from us over their personal transgender issues. This appeared in Denny Burk’s blog.

I think that the quoted paragraph is an overreaction. There is nothing that indicates the taking away of children over transgender issues. Yes, the medical community supports it, you find examples of that support on the Mayo Clinic website. But such provides and indicator for the public's reaction to those who feel not at home in their gender.

Let's face it, the pendulum has swung so hard in favor of those who hold to biblical values and views of gender that all we are seeing now is a reversal in the swing of that pendulum. And if we are anticipating drastic outcomes from that change in direction, perhaps that is an indicator that we pushed the pendulum too hard and far in our preferred direction.


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Aug 20

To Pat Buchanan and his blogpost on how America is committing suicide. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

There are a number of points that are wrong with Buchanan's article. To start off with, he gives incomplete tax information. Though the statistics he cites are correct, he neglects to provide data on the income for the groups he is comparing. According to the same table of information he uses to quote the tax burden being paid by the top 1% vs the bottom 50%, the income gap is more telling of the story here. An example can be found here in comparing the adjusted gross income per return for the two groups while noting that the number of returns used do not include dependent filers. The average adjusted gross income for those in the bottom 50% for 2013  was $15,013 while the average adjusted gross income for those in the top 1% is $1,243,406. We should also note that while there were approximately 1.4 million returns from those from the 1% bracket, there were approximately 69.2 million returns for the bottom 50%. Here we should note that 19% of the adjusted gross income went to that approximate 1.4 million people while only around 11% of the adjusted gross income went to the bottom 50%, or approximately 6.92 million, of returns (see http://taxfoundation.org/article/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-data-2015-update for source).

But what isn't mentioned at all by Mr Buchanan was the amount of federal assistance or money spent on polices  that benefited the corporations owned by the top 1%. Yes, Mr. Buchanan has a legitimate concern over the growing Federal debt; we should all share his concern. But what are the main causes for this debt? The statistics cited by Mr. Buchanan does not paint an adequate picture of the problem.

Having discussed that, Mr. Buchanan's expressed concern for the survival of the purity of Western Civilization while seeming to speak negatively of diversity and equality does not paint a flattering picture of his view. His view is one that seems to relish a past that lacked self-awareness. Yes, there is a conflict between a group of Trump supporters who share Mr. Buchanan's concern for the survival of the purity of Western Civilization and the rest of the world. Trump's supporters seem to share at least some of Buchanan's picture that past Civilization, a picture which seems to have been taken from the past and has become a focal point of their identity. But having that as the center of their identity puts them at conflict with changes that come from people trying to escape horrendous situations in their home countries. In other words, Trump's supporters are experiencing a problem that has occurred before. Here, we should speculate on how Buchanan would portray America's past if he was a Native American.

We should also note that like Buchanan's treasured past, his present lacks self-awareness as well. All one needs to do to verify this is to  look at the statistics on nations from which the most illegal immigrants come. With each nation, significant ties to the US can be found. from coups to trade agreements.

Mr. Buchanan's final words are about the eventual death of democracy in every nation. According to what he quotes from john Adams, this death is self-inflicted. Perhaps we could console Mr. Buchanan by telling him that democracy is not alone in terms of dying; all Empires eventually collapse as well.

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Aug 23

To Tim Keller, Russell Moore, and Kevin DeYoung and their blogpost discussion on how to speak to our culture about sex. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Though Keller's statements on attacking narratives has significant merit and seems to be the best approach, all of it bears a similarity to Mitt Romney's speeches against Donald Trump in trying to reach those rebelling against an established order by supporting Trump. Though what Romney said about Trump was true, he we ineffectual because he didn't acknowledge the failures of his own group as he is a member of the establishment.

Likewise, though much of what was said, in particular what Keller said has merit, there is no acknowledgement  of the attempts by many Christians to do more than just speak about sex; we've tried to control how others have acted sexually and lived with partners. Of course some controls are necessary. But when saying that, many of us have, with animosity, tried to associate those in the LGBT community with those provide real threats to the community.

In speaking to people about sex, I think we Christians must acknowledge our failures in terms of how we have tried to control others and then we can apply what was said in the video. 




 

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