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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 31, 2017

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For May 31, 2017

May 25

To Joe Carter and his blogpost on how Americans are more permissive on moral issues than ever. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

We should note that in an article talking about moral issues, all of those issues deal with personal morals and most of those deal with sexual issues. And this is perhaps a reason why our witness to the Gospel loses credibility to others. We don't include with our discussion of moral issues foreign policies, economic systems, and many kinds of discrimination. And because we don't include those items in our discussion, immoral wars and exploitive economic systems, both of which benefit those with wealth, do not receive the personal and moral outrage they deserve. And so while we seem to relish in punishing the individual with valid reprimands for personal sins, our corporate sins, which are sins of the state and those that support the status quo, receive a free pass. And challenging those sins can invite just as much public disapproval, if not more, as challenging individuals about the sins listed above.

We should note that the predominant branches of the Church supported those with wealth and power prior to the French, Russian, and Spanish Revolutions. And that support caused both undue persecution of Christians and unnecessary dishonor to the Gospel once those revolutions took place. And so in America, it seems that history is repeating itself. The predominant branch of the Church in America, which is conservative Protestantism, has actively and/or with silent complicity sided with those with wealth by focusing on objecting to personal sins while, with the exception of racism, remaining silent on the corporate sins of the state and those sins that support the status quo.  And we wonder why liberals find us so hard to listen to.


May 26

To Tim Keller and his blogpost on how Christians should effectively witness to their culture. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Part of what Keller says about effectively interacting with culture has to do with what we associate with the Gospel. For when we claim to be Christians, all that we do and say as well as the other groups we join become associated with the Gospel and that is for better or worse. And so when Keller says that churches should be multi-ethnic, civil, generous, and integrate faith in our work Keller is telling us what positive associations we can make Christianity that in no way asks us to compromise our faith. And these are good points made by Keller.

However, there are some concerns with part of what he has written. When he talks about the first Church being exclusive and how that should carry over to now, a distinction must be made. Certainly the Church is exclusive in terms of its true membership. Only those who trust in Jesus as their only savior before God can be true members of the Church.  However, outside criticism of the Church for being exclusive is often concerned with a different way in which the Church pursues exclusivity. That way has to do with those whom the Church has often tried to exclude from full membership in society. From our beginning up through our Jim Crow era, a significant part of the conservative Church tried to exclude racial minorities from full membership in society. And for an even longer time than that, American conservative Christians have fought hard to marginalize the LGBT community from full participation in society. These kinds of exclusivity are what many critics of the Church are upset about and their association with the Gospel, because many Christians have practiced them, have unnecessarily been associated with the Gospel. And because these kinds of exclusivity have been associated with the Gospel, the Gospel has been dishonored and stumbling blocks have been put in the way of many who hear the Gospel.

Another concern regards what Keller wrote about the financial markets earning trust by becoming self-regulating. To a certain extent, there is validity in that comment. However, the need for government regulation will always exist. Why? Because, in terms of purpose, government regulations on businesses exist to tell businesses how people want to be treated. These people range from employees to customers to vendors to those in communities in which businesses exist. That government all too often fails in representing how people want to be treated by businesses does not take away the purpose of valid regulations.

Now Keller does talk about government needing to reform but he does so inadequately. For he states that government should move toward centrism and bipartisanship. The problem here is that centrism does not always produce the best decisions and bipartisanship fails when issues have more than two sides. More important than finding a middle way between what the two major parties are advocating is government becoming more and more faithful to all of the people, especially the vulnerable. This is preferred to the government selling out  to those with wealth or to those with an estranged ideology.


May 28

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost quote of Luther on how if we believe that we have any merit of our own before God, then Christ is of no use or benefit to us. This appeared in Heidelblog.

Though I agree with the quote and how it is used as an answer for the statement 'God helps them...,' the statement in question is rarely applied to eternal matters. Rather, it is primarily applied to temporary matters and is used by those who believe that they owe all of their success to themselves. And thus, they have very little compassion for those in need because need, them, implies that people have not done all they could.

For not only does the quote from Luther counter the statement about whom God helps in the eternal sense, so too does it apply in the temporal sense. For the fact that regardless of the kind of society and economy one lives in, there is a degree of interdependency that allows one to succeed. In other words God has already used society to help us to succeed and if we stop that help from society from helping others now, we are, as they would say in economics. 'kicking away the ladder.' And kicking away the latter is an appropriate description of the economic and health care plans that the Republican Party, including both those in Congress and those in the current Administration, have planned for the nation.


May 29

To Bruce Forhnen and his blogpost on the purpose of The Constitution. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

There is a missing part to the telling of the writing of the The Constitution here. That missing part consists of why The Constitution was written. The dissent at home had to do with the exploitation of some and Shays Rebellion.  Thus, the new American elite wrote a document that created a stronger federal government that could better respond to insurgencies than what was allowed under the Articles of Confederation. There was to be no standing army but a militia was provided for and put under the command of the President. The job of the militia was to repel invasions and put down insurgencies. The militia was not, according to The Constitution, to be the states' deterrent to a federal gov't that grew too strong.

In addition, one only needs to follow the debate  over the construction of the Senate (see http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/yates.asp). The Senate was protected from popular opinion by both the length of a Senate term and how they were chosen--they were not chose by elections even though not many people could vote anyway when The Constitution was ratified. During that debate, Madison expressed serious concerns over the possibility that voting could be opened up to all classes in England. Such, according to Madison, could threaten the wealthy elites there. So basically our government was formed to resist changes sought by the people. For the purpose of government was to 'protect the minority of the opulent against the majority' (see http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/yates.asp ) according to Madison.

Though Frohnen has a point in saying that the government defined by The Constitution gave fewer powers to government than other constitutions did, it was not because of America's reliance on families, churches, local communities, and so forth. The Constitution was written because America's elites were frightened because of the widespread dissent and Shays Rebellion. They battled as politicians against ideas that threatened their status by calling them factions. Basically, our Constitution was written to protect America's new elite from calls for the use of paper money, the elimination of debts, and the equal distribution of land. Madison denounced such demands as being 'improper' or 'wicked.' And he stated that class divisions were seen as a necessity in civilized nations and they included a landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests (see http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm). We should note which class was deemed the favorite back then by some. According to Charles Pinckney, of the three classes he observed as existing, the landed interest was to be the 'ruling power' with the 'professional men' and 'commercial men' being forever dependent on the landed interests.

Yes, Frohnen was correct in saying trade was an issue. And citing Germany as an example, strength so as to prevent wars was also important in the Constitutional Debates. But the event that precipitated the writing of The Constitution was one that threatened the status of American elites and so they formed a government that protected their interests and status. Thus, this new government was not as authoritarian as the governments of other nations because those who were elites didn't want the competition for power with the American people. And the problem is that we see the same principle in effect today.

In addition, we might ask the Native Americans and Blacks back then how free they were during the times of our founding fathers.


May 30

To Joseph Sunde and his blogpost citing Charles Murray’s call for a ‘Cultural Great Awakening.’ This appeared in the Acton Blog.

The biggest objection to the point made by Murray and this article is not an ideological one, it is an observational one. The Church, especially since the time of Constantine, has all too often sided with wealth and power, or just wealth when it lacked power. Examples of the former include the prerevolutionary of the French, Russian, and Spanish Revolutions. An example of the latter includes the Christian Democratic and Church support for wealth prior to the Chile's 9/11 where Allende was overthrown and Pinochet was installed as a dictator. In each of those examples, the Church became an accomplice in the exploitation, oppression and even  murder of people especially those who were non-bourgeoisie types. In those prerevolutionary instances, the Church suffered persecution and the Gospel was dishonored after the revolutions took place. In the latter instance, the blood of thousands of people could be place on the hands of those Christians who did not support the democratic processes used in Chile.
It is the hope of those who favor elite-centered rule to scapegoat personal decisions and the failure of individuals to be responsible in making the system work. It is the hope of those who some libertarianism to scapegoat systems and large organizations like big business or big unions. In reality, the parable of the two men praying tells us that no individual or group has a monopoly on vice while Romans 2 tells us that no individual or group has a monopoly on virtue. So we should listen to and pay close attention to irresponsible decision making made by individuals just as we should pay attention to exploitive economic system and large organizations that eternally lust for more power and wealth. We should listen to Charles Murray's call for a 'Cultural Great Awakening' as much as we should constantly reexamine and revise our economic systems and hold in check big organizations from obtaining more and more power and wealth. For without this two way approach, then Murray's Awakening' can only maintain the current status quo if it doesn't cause us to relive tragic events in history.


To Joe Carter and his blogpost video display that claimed that trade without tariffs helps the economy despite the loss in jobs because other jobs are created and that, with trade, helps the economy grow. This appeared in the Acton blog.

Besides the disingenuous, overly simplistic descriptions of trade and the creation/destruction of jobs or the treatment of the correlation between economic strength and child labor as a cause and effect relationship, this video reminded me a quote from Martin Luther King's speech against the Vietnam War. In that speech, King said the following (see http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm ):

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just."

We should note that trade alone wasn't the only factor in Americans losing jobs, it was the offshoring that trade brought that caused the loss of jobs. And with much of that offshoring, what happened was that labor overseas was exploited because some other nations didn't share the mindset we have here in passing  and enforcing regulations that protect both workers and the economy. Therefore businesses that moved manufacturing overseas where workers were exploited didn't see their conditions as being exploitive because those workers were getting paid more than they had been paid when they had no jobs. But mistreating someone and telling them to be satisfied simply because their previous conditions were worse is the epitome of exploitation. And such a rational behind that practice is simply abusive.

We should also note that the offshoring of American manufacturing jobs often resulted in flooding the supply of workers in the retail and fast food markets. That increase in the supply of workers kept pay for such workers down because beggars could not be choosers--again, the exploitation of workers. And since the Financial Sector of the American economy has grown to be a larger segment of the economy rather than manufacturing replacing the jobs it lost because there was more money for investors to make in the financial sector than in manufacturing, more was shifted to the financial sector. And for manufacturing to attract investors, it oftenhad to lower costs which meant hiring cheaper labor and build plants where the environmental regulations were not as strict as here.

In short, all of the creation and destruction of jobs in order to make the economy grow did not reduce wealth and income disparity. In addition, the amount in which gov't assistance programs are used to subsidize the payrolls of some corporations is over a billion dollars. Plus, the history of our own nation's economy included tariffs that protected certain sectors of our economy so that they could grow to be competitive. Thus, for a nation like the US to argue against other nations from using tariffs to develop specific industries and economic sectors is called 'kicking away the ladder' that greatly contributed to our current economic status. In addition, Comparative Advantage, as mentioned in the video, creates a global economic caste system where nations are locked into their present economic role unless they are willing to entice corporations by cutting worker protection and environmental regulations.

In short, this video makes an ideological case against all tariffs and attempts at protectionism rather than an observational one. An observational argument would note that along with trade and offshoring, worker exploitation and environmental destruction has been part of the package of increasing trade and the offshoring of jobs. And not only would child labor be mentioned, so would child slavery and trafficking also be mentioned and how some American corporations benefit greatly from such practices because they reduce labor costs. And we also need to note that slavery and economic growth are not always in an inverse relationship. India, which has experienced a great deal of economic growth continues to see an increase in slavery.

Ted Koppel's criticisms of Sean Hannity are appropriate and they apply here. The ideological commitment by the Acton blog to what is call neoliberal economics, which includes what is taught about trade in the video attached to Carter's blogpost, asks people to accept the ideology without showing them pertinent facts on the ground. And while the Acton blog states that they are connecting valid objectives and economics, it neglects to mention that there are other economic systems besides Neoliberalism. How can one teach sound economics when only one economic system is being taught as the system that promotes human flourishing especially when that system is creating more wealth disparity both within many nations and between nations?
see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmaKl0Zm2c4 for Koppel's specific comments on Hannity

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