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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For December 7, 2016

Nov 30

To Mike Edmonson and his blogpost on Evangelicalism’s 4 unique perspectives on politics. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website

Christianity does not revolve around our own uniqueness, it revolves around the uniqueness of Christ and the Gospel. To focus on our own uniqueness merely imitates those from any other group where tribalism is strong. To show this, all we need to consider is the concept of American Exceptionalism and how people from other nations have also seen their own nations as being exceptional.

Another way of showing that our uniqueness is not unique is to look at each of the 4 perspectives on politics and show that they are not unique. Take the first perspective, which is our governmental perspective, for example:

Although elections are important, as believers we uniquely understand that elections are not ultimate.

Sorry but Howard Zinn made an activist career of putting elections and their leaders in their place. Anarchism and bottom-up forms of Socialism also regard elections as not being ultimate.

On the other hand, the belief that elections are ultimate in that we depend too much on our elected leaders to manage the government while we tend to our own business is a mark of embracing an authoritarian relationship with the government. And guess which institution is one of the greatest teachers on authoritarianism is. It is the Church where most of our relationships with others and God use authority figures as a center part of each relationship.

Take the second perspective, which is our moral perspective, as another example:

Wealthy business-owning American citizens baptized in Christ, for example, must deeply consider the practical wellbeing of the undocumented migrant worker and refugee also baptized in Christ. Christian civil engagement is not fundamentally self-interested.

Hate to bust Edmondson's bubble here but Socialists have him beat. For Socialists are not just concerned for the well-being of Christian migrant workers and refugees, they are concerned for all migrant workers and refugees. What Edomondson seems unaware of is that he is replacing self-interest with tribal interest. And what group, where tribalism is present, is not concerned with all of its members?

As for the third perspective which is our perspective on pain:

One of the most significant distinctions we have as God’s people is our compassion for the distressed. Deuteronomy 10:18 says God “executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing” (see also Exod. 22:22–23; Deut. 27:19; 2 Chron. 19:7; Ps. 68:5; and Ps. 146:9). Throughout Scripture, the Lord makes himself known through his practical care and concern for the most vulnerable and distressed

Here we need to compare how those in a Christian nation, especially Christians who tend to be politically conservative, with those from other nations. Until its Civil War, Syria was one of the leading nations in caring for refugees. Ironically here, most of the refugees whom Syrians took care of became refugees as a result of America's invasion of Iraq. Currently Jordan is one of the world's leaders in taking in and caring for refugees. As for Christian America, we only need to look at its political conservatives, who have more than their fair share of religiously conservative Christians, and their position on taking in refugees. That is because their position is not very good and this is especially evident by the support conservative Christians gave to Donald Trump in the election. There is no need here to mention Trump's views on immigration or the Republican Party's opposition to societal safety nets.

As for the forth perspective, if the beliefs expressed there were so strongly held, why did the majority of religiously conservative Christians vote for a candidate like Donald Trump? Issues like controlling immigration, changing the Supreme Court, and wanting to make America great again were reasons that greatly influence Christian voters.

Again, pointing our uniqueness as a way of proving Christianity to either ourselves or others is problematic. It is flawed because as people, we are not always as unique as we perceive ourselves to be or should  be. And once our lack of uniqueness is outed, our credibility as witnesses for Christ is greatly damaged.


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To Jason Baxter and his blogpost about what the humanities can contribute to the modern world in the light of how our politicians are trying to make education more of a tech school experience. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

Every time I read a conservative reference to the founding fathers which describes them as trying to limit government's power, I wonder if such conservatives have heard of decontextualization. That is because The Constitution was written with the intention of strengthening government power so that the Federal government could, in the future, better respond future insurrections. And the point of being better prepared to handle future insurrections was to maintain the status quo for the sake of the bondholders and the landowners and slaveholders where wealth was consolidated at that time. The then current insurrection that prompted the writing of that document was Shays Rebellion.  And all one has to do to realize that The Constitution was written to strengthen the federal government's power is to look up all of the references made to the militia. For the militia was to be armed and trained with funds from Congress and was to be under the command of the President. And one of the state purposes of the militia was to put down insurrections.

Furthermore, with the powers granted to the Senate, we should note how Senators originally received their office. They were appointed by their respective state legislators. That, along with their term in office, made Senators pretty much immune to popular opinion and with good reason. In arguing for the length of a Senator's term, it was Madison who said that the purpose of government was to 'protect the minority of the opulent from the majority.'

Along with the fact that only White, male, property owners could vote when The Constitution was ratified, we see a government that is as not limited as conservatives want to portray it. In fact, since The Constitution was written to preserve the status quo for the sake of America's own elites, Baxter's statement that Rubio and Walker are closer to Clinton than to our nation's founding fathers is a bit more problematic than Baxter realizes. For in that Walker, Rubio, and Clinton are striving to preserve a status quo that serves those with wealth and power, they are all in fact following in the footsteps of the majority of those who wrote The Constitution.

Thus, their, that is Walker, Rubio, and Clinton, wanting education to serve the welfare of the money-interests is in line with the intentions of our founding fathers. And so there is a certain irony when Baxter uses our nation's founding fathers to challenge the current deemphasis on the humanities in education. Baxter is completely correct in challenging the current emphasis on technology. He just does so from the wrong basis.

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Dec 3

To Greg Forster and his blogpost that describes both America’s signs of death and its signs for hope. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

I heartily agree with much, though not all,  of the description of the problem. The solution, however, is problematic. But there is also a problem with the description of the problem. The problem with the description of the problem is that it doesn't tie together the similarities between what Hillary was offering and what Trump was offering.  Those similarities could be described with two labels: neoliberalism and neoconservatism.  Yes, their versions of both were different, but the general direction was the same.  With neoliberalism, both wanted to cut big businesses' social responsibilities and give them free reign in society. Hillary wanted to do that on the global scene with open markets and free trade; Trump wanted to do that on the domestic scene by reducing taxes and regulations. This somewhat illustrates why their versions of neoliberalism are different. While the Repubs want an express train to corporate rule, the Dems want a local train that offers amenities. But in the end, they destination is the same. After all, how different is Trump's promise to reduce regulations from trade agreements like the TPP that allow corporations to sue governments for any financial losses incurred by the laws a government passes? And yet, open markets would  rely on trade agreements like the TPP. And both Hilary and Trump have expressed the same concern over these agreements: it is American jobs not this corporate control. Plus, we also have to realize that with the presence of foreign investors, we really don't have any true American big businesses anymore

As for their shared neoconservative leanings, the only real difference between Hillary's and Trump's view of America's leadership in the world is that Trump wants America's allies to pay protection money for its military services and presence.  Plus we also have to ask ourselves why a free world needs a leader? For if the free world has a leader, is it truly free?

Despite missing their similarities, the  identification of battle between technocrats vs tribalists has much merit. But we also have to realize that patriotism is an exercise in tribalism as well. So if we are going to complain about Trump's economic nationalism, which is something not necessarily mentioned here, or his other forms of tribalism we have to complain about our military tribalism as expressed in patriotism as well. And we need to accurately define tribalism in the context of the world we live in. Tribalism is when group loyalty is so high that it trumps, no pun intended,  any commitment to  morals and absolute values. And tribalism can be based on what's listed above as well as ideology and economic class. Thus, we could say that Hillary's favoring of technocrats was a form of tribalism.

The solution resented is problematic for two reasons. First, the Church has, since the time of Constantine, generally stood with and supported wealth and power. Yes, there have been some intramural battles between wealth and power where the Church was split, but it still has, for the most part, stood with wealth and power.  This was true prior to the French, Spanish, and Russian Revolutions as well as  many other modern revolutions. It is most certainly true for the conservative Church in modern America. After all, the conservative Church in modern America was slow to even recognize our nation's problem with racism. And it wasn't the conservative Church that took the lead in battling racism. We should note that King was no conservative Christian theologian. The conservative Church in America, under the banner of patriotism, has been even slower in recognizing the immorality of many of America's wars. And where does the conservative Church stand in relation to unions and workers' relationship with employers? The conservative Church  predominantly supports small gov't and low taxes and few regulations and all of that favors those with wealth. And the conservative Church is not a big supporter of social safety nets because it believes that the Church should be in charge of providing relief and help, not the government.

Or we could go back to what was written in a report called The Crisis of Democracy where the Church is listed, along with the family, schools, and the military as institutions whose job was to teach people how to fit into society and take orders from those with authority. Here it would be helpful to note that that report was the liberal view of the role of the Church which was in response to the radical exercises of democracy during the 1960s. The The Crisis of Democracy called those radical exercises in democracy an 'excess of democracy.'

But it isn't just our history that makes the proposed solution problematic. What the above solution proposes is that the Church must have a place of supremacy in society that is based on the freedom of religion. And this is done by having society look to the Church for its temporal salvation. In such a scheme, where does the LGBT community fit in? And how about those whose suffering is prolonged by the Church's slowness in recognizing their problems just like the conservative Church was slow in recognizing our nation's problem with racism? And how can we call for a public discipleship while the Church shares society with others as equals? And if it doesn't share society with others as equals, then what other position than a place of supremacy does the Church want in society?

Yes, we need to share the Gospel to all. But we have to both acknowledge our past failures and look at how we can share society with all sorts of unbelievers as equals so that if a large number of people become converted, they will not be a part of marginalizing some group like the Church has for all America's history.


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Dec 4

To Kyle Hanby and his blogpost that cites an article by Samuel Gregg which claims that protectionism is bad for us in the long run. This appears in the Acton blog.

Link for the article cited: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2016/1201/Can-economic-nationalism-keep-more-jobs-in-US

Just as location is everything in real estate, so labels are in persuasive articles.The 'economic nationalism' and 'free trade' labels serve as such examples. We should note that economic nationalism can mean economic self-rule. We should also note that if free trade is not popularly accepted, it becomes forced trade with the free part describing how those who benefit the most experience it.

We should also note that economic globalism has produced more than the alleged effect of lifting more people out abject poverty. It has caused a loss of many manufacturing and even service jobs in America causing a glut of people applying for low skilled labor jobs. That glut means less in wages for many people which is why over a billion dollars goes into subsidizing corporate payrolls via government assistance for the working poor. We should also note that economic globalization has involved the trafficking of people and to sweatshop factories. In addition, in the two nations that have allegedly seen the biggest decrease in poverty, which are China and India, we have seen slight to significant increases in slavery. In the mean time, Jeff Halper notes that the wealth disparity between nations has sharply increased.

Certainly any kind of self-rule that is based in some kind of tribalism is not good for anyone. But the reliance on the rule of economic elites as opposed to self-rule produces even worse results in the long run. For the rule of economic elites which we see in today's economic globalism not only increases wealth disparity in and between nations, in many of the nations which have embraced this kind of globalism, it destroys democracies and all of that occurs for the love of wealth. So why is a Christian blog encouraging a system that revolves around the love of wealth and the weakening of national sovereignty?

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Dec 6

To Joe Carter and his blogpost on profits, wealth, and well-defined property rights. This appeared in the Acton blog.

We should first note that the Scriptures don't label money as being intrinsically evil; but they do call the love money the 'root of all kinds of evil.'

But second, what is said above about property rights is pretty much contradicted by Martin Luther King Jr. when he spoke against the Vietnam War:

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.

So while well-defined property rights are a key to the common good according to the article above, King states that while property rights and other things are more important than people, then the triplets of 'racism, materialism, and militarism' will forever plague us. We should note that well-defined property rights does not imply just property rights. A question that would be involved in determining just property rights would be this: Did all of James Madison's wealth belong to him seeing that much of it was the product of slave labor? We might ask the same when it comes to corporations that pay poverty wages to workers here and/or use workers from sweatshop factories abroad. We might also ask, why, if there is this economy of mutuality, do we have a growing wealth disparity within many nations as well as between nations?
 



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