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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


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For May 10, 2017

May 3

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote challenging the claims that 97% of climate scientists see the relationship between see CO2 has increased or that climate change will lead to hardships. This appeared on Heidelblog

It is very unfortunate when Christian leaders take the side of business in discussing issues like climate change. The above quote on this blogpost without offering any opposing view is such an example is not just unfortunate, it can be irresponsible depending on how it is presented. We should note that prior to the French, Russian, and Spanish Revolutions, that the predominant branch of the Church in those countries supported those with wealth.  And so now we come to climate change.

Below are a few links pointing to more than just polls taken about CO2 levels. The first one is a study surveys the literature on whether the climate is warming due to human activity. The overwhelming consensus is that it is true.


We might also want to note joint statements of scientific organizations like the ones below:

    1.    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/292/5520/1261
    2.    http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/exec-office-other/climate-change-full.pdf

But we should note that with the above joint statements, concern is expressed over the results and the need to stabilize the rising CO2 levels in both the atmosphere and the oceans. There already are observable results of our current climate change. A few small islands in the Pacific have disappeared, low level areas in parts of the East Coast of the United States are experiencing and increase in non-weather related flooding, and the thawing of the permafrost in the Arctic which results in the release of methane gas, which is another greenhouse gas are some of the effects that are observable now. And below is a link to an unexpected result.

In addition, we have a statement signed by a number of scientists regarding the lack of respect that the scientific study on climate change is receiving.


One thing we should note about the article linked to above is that it provides a partial listing of the negative effects of the warming of the climate. These include:

    1.    Ocean acidification

    2.   Sea level rise

But what does all of that mean? According to the last article, it means the following:

The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

While no one can accurately predict what exactly will happen due to the warming of our climate, a number of models point negative consequences for a large number of people. And there is consensus on that point as well.

The article being cited is important to read. But so is the literature provided by scientific organizations let alone other individual scientists. In addition, we should note that one source cited by the article quoted from above about scientific views sometimes come from a non scientific source. Prof Lindzen, in an effort to challenge the claim that ocean acidification is an increasing concern, cites a report from the Frontier Center for Public Policy, and think tank group that favors neoliberal economics. There are other problems with some of the other things Lindzen said.
Though we can't look into the future clearly, there is enough evidence to cause much concern as well as motivation for changing how we live. And yet, it seems, that some in the Church side with those who don't want short-term profits for business to be threatened. So why do some religious authorities step out of their area of expertise to weigh in on these matters on the side of those serving mammon?


To Joe Carter and his blogpost critquing the prosperity gospel of people like Oral Roberts and others. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Being a graduate of ORU and having attended the university while Oral was president of the school, I can safely say that the above assessment of the prosperity gospel is a decent one. One thing that was left out was the Scripture passage often used by Oral and others to defend their emphasis on prosperity: 3 John vs 2 (see https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=3+John+2&version=NIV ).

We should also note that Oral looked at the prosperity part of his preaching as part of the stand standard gospel. Oral believe in what we would call the Gospel that says that we are sinners and are saved from our sins through faith in the work of God's only son, Jesus Christ. Perhaps his background of suffering from respiratory illness early in life caused him to seek an interpretation of God's Word that would prevent others from experiencing what he suffered.

But we should consider one other point here. Does the secular world have its own version of the prosperity gospel? That is does the secular world believe in and promote an economic ideology that promises great prosperity while sacrificing social responsibility & solidarity, human rights, and the environment? This is an important question for all of us religiously conservative American Christians to consider if we want to remain consistent in avoiding those beliefs that promise wealth despite the price others must pay.


May 7

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost that answer Stephen Fry’s blaming God for the problems in the world. This appeared in Heidelblog.

This is a very good article and its title gives the most appropriate answer to Stephen Fry's rant blaming God for the evil in the world. And yet, religiously conservative Christians balk at applying the title to our nation and the problems it faces because of  its foreign, its economic system, and its domestic policies.

Such both brings and shows a disconnect with how the Scriptures describe the world. If the Scriptures define man as being depraved as they do, why are some of us religiously conservative Christians so defensive regarding American foreign policies as being sinful and producing sinful results? This is especially be true when we see the relationship between our foreign policies and the terrorist groups proliferating around the world is pointed out to them.

And when we look at the exploitation that is built into our Capitalist economic system, especially with today's neoliberal Capitalism, how can we not partially attribute many of our social and economic problems to that  system? And when you add that domestic policies that favor the wealthy and hurt the vulnerable, again, how can we not partially fault the systems that our nation so deeply relies on?
The disconnect that exists for us religiously conservative Christians and we seeing significant faults in how America does things is that the line "it's our fault" is forbidden from being applied when it implicates our sacred cows. Our founding fathers, The  Constitution,  our prosperous way life especially in the suburbs, and our nation's domination over other nations would all be implicated in sin. And then when you add climate change to the mix, the admission of sin is too great a burden to bear because we enjoy so much of what we have.

Thus, the line "it's our fault" is partially said disingenuously and that is very obvious to many unbelievers. And because our message about sin is said disingenuously, many unbelievers don't see us as being credible when we talk about their sin.


May 9

To Joe Carter and his blogpost containing a video praising the merits of comparative advantage in trading. This appeared in the Acton blog.

The overly simplistic view of trade to support comparative advantage is nothing but disingenuous. We should only note history to judge whether comparative advantage always works. We should note that when the U.S. started, it was told to follow a comparative advantage trade approach. The U.S. was told that Adam Smith promoted comparative advantage. And yet, the U.S. did the opposite. The U.S. used tariffs to allow certain industries to develop (see https://chomsky.info/20120811/   ). This gave time for U.S. to expand its talents rather than stay with the status quo. So if 3rd world nations followed the comparative advantage advice that the U.S. rejected during its beginning, those 3rd world nations can follow the road not traveled by the U.S. But in so doing, what are those nations trading?

The video presentation is overly simplistic. How can it not be when individual people are used to serve as metaphors for the economies of whole nations? And here, the issue isn't that a nation must choose between trading in ways that follow a comparative advantage approach or it becoming totally isolated. The issue is whether richer nations can force comparative advantage trade approaches on other nations which would only serve to keep those other nations less self-sufficient and more dependent on the richer nations. 3rd world nations should have the right to use tariffs to protect industries they want to develop. But such doesn't mean that all trade is cut off.


To Devin Ryan and his blogpost that reports on the claims of Samuel Gregg on how to make America great again. The key point was that making America great again depends on increasing our nation’s economic growth primarily by cutting regulations. This appeared in the Acton Blog

There is either a paradox or contradiction presented here. On the one hand, America's greatness is measured solely by its economic output. On the other hand is the claim that economics is not being presented as an end in and of itself. Rather, It is a means to reducing poverty. This latter claim runs into problems. For only economic growth, spurred by decreasing regulations, is mentioned as our nation's saving grace in becoming "great again" and addressing poverty while nothing is said about other factors. Other factors include how our industries impact the environment or whether wealth disparity continues to grow in our nation. Could some of our problems with poverty be due to an unfair distribution of wealth? Martin Luther King Jr. thought so according to Tavis Smiley's biography of him.  And what should we say about those businesses that rely on government assistance programs to subsidize their payrolls because they pay some of their employees poverty wages? Couldn't better regulations address that issue or would those businesses be eager to pay all of their employees higher wages if regulations weren't holding them back?

Many regulations deal with protecting the environment or workers or other stakeholders. Therefore, merely reducing regulations should be seen as an overly simplistic approach to what ails the economy. If the government decides to reduce regulations, will it act as a bean counter in doing so or will it give a detailed account of the regulations being cut and why they are being cut? This is an important question especially because with publicly owned companies, their major shareholders sometimes become like absentee landlords by how they demand higher and higher returns on their investments. Many times these demands cost workers their jobs and/or bypass safeguards for the environment.

It seems to me that the conservative approach to our political-economic system is that government should represent and serve business interests only while people who are not business owners should rely on business to take care of and protect them. This leaves people out of the democracy formula. It also leaves people vulnerable to those business interests that are better served by exploiting them or the environment. A simple economic indicator of whether people are being exploited is whether our wealth and income disparities continue to grow as regulations are being cut.

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