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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

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Great Divide In Our Nation

When I hear the term 'great divide,' I immediately think of a Don Ellis piece that appeared on his Fillmore album (click here for a YouTube link to that piece). Ellis's piece in in 13 and is divided, and thus the name, into the following pattern: 3-3-2-3-2. It's an excellent piece of music that Ellis's band performed in and around 1970--he was way ahead of everyone back then when it came to odd musical time signatures.


But that is not the great divide I want to complain about today. The great divide we see today is practiced by all imaginable ideological sides. It is practiced by many who are political conservatives, political liberals, and leftists. The divide that exists for them are the political views views that exist between these groups and any other groups that might exist. Thus, we have many conservatives who believe that only conservatives have anything of value to say. And the same goes with many liberals and leftists. In the end, what Martin Luther King, Jr. says about the 'Western arrogance of feeling' also applies to many conservatives, liberals, and leftists (click here for a source for King's statement):
The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

So when we see conservatives, liberals, or leftists so strongly claiming to have a monopoly on truth while even trying harder to discredit all others, we could easily substitute the words 'conservative,' 'liberal,' or 'leftist' in for the word 'Western' in King's statement above.

That arrogance of feeling provides more than enough rationalization for either conservatives, liberals, or leftists to not want to share power with others. And then when we add the economic elites of the nation into the mix, we also see that many of them not only do not want to share power with others, they don't want to share wealth either.

That reluctance to share power and wealth with others is an ominous harbinger of things to come. For just as sharing power and wealth with others is the beginning of peace, so to is refusing to share power and wealth with others is the beginning of war.

This should lead us to the main point of this article. The great divide that exists is not the one that exists between conservatives, liberals, and leftists. The great divide that exists in our nation today is the one that exists between those who want to share and collaborate with others from those who don't. And here we have an easy litmus test to apply to see who is working to bring peace from those who are working to bring war whether that war is with foreign powers or domestic rivals.





Monday, July 2, 2018

ONIM For July 2, 2018

10 Best Fact Checking Sites Found Here.

If you are not sure about the validity of a news story linked to below, you can use  mediabiasfactcheck.com to check out the credibility of the source of most of the stories linked to here.


Christian News

World News

Israel-Palestine News
Donald Trump News

Pick(s) Of The Litter

Just For Fun








Friday, June 29, 2018

An Innocent Appearing Post That Point To Dreams Of Control

Conservatives, especially religiously conservative Christians, almost always find it inevitable to succumb to authoritarian personality types and authoritarianism. Other ideological sides also succumb but not as inevitably as conservatives have. And if we want to understand why our nation is so divided, we need to understand how those with authoritarian personality types promote authoritarianism.

An example can be found in John Horvat's (click here for a bio) blogpost lamentingly claiming that America no longer has a true elite class (click here for the article). But before going into Horvat's blogpost, we need to show why Conservatives have such a penchant for authority personality types and authoritarianism.

We should note that the two most important words to conservatives regarding society and culture are 'tradition' and 'control.' Tradition provides guidelines for us while control enforces those guidelines. And let's face it, some of conservative's traditional guidelines would be helpful to everyone. But the problem with Conservatives is that they look solely to the parts of the past they revere to understand today and to solve its problems. And that is at the root of Conservatism's love affair with authoritarianism.  For breaking from tradition, according to Conservatives, provides a threat to the present and future.

Now we can dig into Horvat's article for he is lamenting the fact that yesteryear's elites no longer have their place in society and society is struggling because of that.

However, Horvat's attempt to revive the social elite class from the past is is rooted in idealism, not reality. Horvat starts with how the old, true elite class was replaced with a meritocracy. That meritocracy recognizes talent rather than character and doesn't measure one's contribution to society. According to Horvat, these new elites  consolidate their wealth and recognizes fewer restraints from civic responsibilities. The emergence of today's meritocracy was significantly rooted in the protests of the 1960s. Many established practices and traditional views were challenged back then. And yet despite the search for justice back then, Horvat points out that the opposite happened.

This new set of elites is being targeted, according to Horvat, simply because they are elites. Then Horvat challenges such targeting by saying that all healthy societies have elites. In essence, Horvat complains that people should not be targeted simply because they are elites. Horvat then defines true elites of the past as those exceptional people who seek the common good and make sacrifices for the community. Horvat also mentions that true elites could include some who are rich but true elites don't have to be wealthy. True elites can have ordinary jobs because it's the quality of their work that makes them elites.

According to Horvat, the true elites from the past have suffered the same fate as the proverbial baby who is tossed out with the bathwater. That was done all for the sake of promoting egalitarianism and individualism.

But Horvat's problem here is rooted in his idealism. By declaring that the true elites from the past can be ordinary people who do ordinary jobs in an extraordinary way, he challenges the notion of the term 'elite.' For such a term carries with it the idea of being superior. So how could such ordinary people be regarded as superior to the rest?

In addition, we might ask Horvat if all egalitarianism and other challenges from the 1960s were bad. After all, the 2 main forms of egalitarianism promoted back then were race and gender based. Why should we condemn equality between the races and the sexes in society? Here we might ask, how could one, according to Horvat's notion of the true elites from the past, not include those who worked for racial equality and equality for men and women? And if those who promoted such equality could be considered significantly similar to those whom Horvat considers to be elites, then how could the notion of egalitarianism always work against the creation of people whom Horvat regards as elites?

We should also note that one of the major concerns of those protesting in the 1960s was America's participation in the Vietnam War. For those who were protesting that war, they considered the war to be immoral and thus they believed they had a just cause. Again, how does protesting against an immoral war disqualify one from Horvat's definition of true elites?

We should note the state of America when Horvat's true elites roamed free in society. That that state of America went way beyond what Horvat described as having defects. After all, this was during the height of the Jim Crow era in our nation. And if the true elites of the past existed then, why didn't they challenge Jim Crow as effectively as those who promoted egalitarianism during the 1960s?

In addition, America's labor history strongly indicates that the meritocracy that followed the upheaval of the 1960s also strongly existed during the time when we had true elites living among us. How is it that those true elites did not mount an effective campaign against the meritocracy of their own times?

Basically, Horvat wants a return of the good old days. Back then, the Church had a greater influence on society than it does today. But again, where was the Church when Jim Crow loomed large and the meritocracy of those times thrived? Where was much of the Church when our nation was waging an immoral war in Vietnam?

Back then, people recognized the authority of the true elites who lived among them. And this shows how Horvat's conservatism advances authoritarianism. For rather than wanting today's people to decide for themselves what is right and wrong, Horvat wants them to submit to the guidance of his his true elites from the past. But for all of the positive qualities that Horvat saw in them, those true elites did little to undo the social injustices of their time.

It's not that Horvat has no legitimate complaints about today's world and those who are considered to be the elites of our time. Our society is in a downward spiral because of its propensity for self-indulgences. But another contributing factor to society's downward spiral is found in the efforts of society's many diverse ideologically based groups to attempt to seek control over society. And this includes many who hold to conservative ideology. For many from those ideological groups cannot see their way to sharing power with each other. Rather, they believe that, for society's good, they need to conquer all other groups and control society. And here we might ask if that was as true with Horvat's true elites from the past as it is with the today's meritocracy of which he complains.




Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For June 17, 2018

June 20

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost that describes the kind of Reformation that the American Church needs to undergo. This appeared in Heidelblog.

With his criticisms  of Pietism and Fundamentalism and his list of 4 indicators for telling whether Reformation is occurring in America, one has to ask what changes, a.k.a., reformations, would Clark's own church need to make for a true reformation to occur at his church?

That question shows the problem. For it is Clark, who is a true theologian of the Reformation, who seems to be playing the role of the Pharisee from the parable of the two men praying as he tells the rest of American Christianity what changes they need to make to come up to the standards set by Clark and his church. For that is the obvious conclusion that one comes away with here. While Clark's church and theological circle doesn't need reformation, the rest of American Christianity does. And if that is an accurate assessment of Clark's answer, then it would seem that Clark's church and theological circles have everything to teach the rest of us while having no need to learn anything from us. And at that point, Bonhoeffer's assessment of American churches, as well as Clark's own stated description of fundamentalism, applies to Clark and possibly his own church and theological circles.


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June 26
 

To Joe Carter and his blogpost that references a Forbes’ article that asks what is next for Spain now that it has elected a Socialist as its Prime minister. This appeared in the Acton blog.

referenced article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alejandrochafuen/2018/06/20/spain-throwing-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater/#d89161f76313

Neither Carter's comments nor the article referenced above really answer the question of what's next for Spain.  But I would like to venture a guess here seeing that my political affiliation, according to my driver's license, is with the same party as the newly elected leader of Spain. Spain's future, from a socialist perspective, depends more on Sanchez's efforts at listening to the people rather than directing them. Spain's future will depend on Sanchez giving more decision-making power to Spain's workers. After all, the proletariat dictatorship is what Marxist Socialism is about. However, not instituting the proletariat dictatorship has been the failure of leaders who called themselves socialists.

Starting with Lenin, there was no transfer of power from gov't officials to workers in many "socialist" regimes. Those who gained power, by either seizing it or through elections, saw themselves as vanguards who were there to bring socialism. And because of that, they ended up relying on bourgeois models of governing than on socialist ones. And that resulted in no significant change between what was before and what came after.

So what's next for Spain depends on whether Sanchez acts as a true Marxist Socialist by giving more decision-making powers to workers or by using the current bourgeois model of government but ruling as a socialist or will he give socialism a try. With either model of governing, there are no guarantees. It is that one model consolidates power while the other distributes it.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To Pat Buchanan and his blogpost on how, for the most part,  liberals are destroying public civility.  This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

What Buchanan forgets is that the end of public civility started with the Right. It started with Rush Limbaugh some decades ago as he employed black-white thinking to convince his followers that no good could come from liberals or the Left--note that they are not the same.

What Limbaugh did, and still does, on his radio show is to conduct a virtual book burning session where conservatives are encouraged to throw into the fire of criticism which employed all-or-nothing thinking anything that was not conservative. And conservatives feeling worn from the criticisms of non-conservatives were more than happy to oblige. So led by Limbaugh, they played the persecution card. Of course, never mind that, like other conservative heroes, Limbaugh never seemed to live by important conservative standards. And the standard that seems most often broken is the one one pertaining to marriage. Whether we look at Gingrich, Limbaugh, or Trump conservative standards used to judge nonconservatives were not used to judge these conservative hero-spokesmen. Of course, Limbaugh had other transgressions, such as mocking Michael J. Fox because of his symptoms from Parkinson's Disease.

And let's look at Buchanan's use of evidence. The race riots that followed King's assassination had nothing to do with liberals vs conservatives. It had everything to do with extreme frustration at the lack of justice in the US. Yes, some soldiers returning from Vietnam were spat on and that was wrong. But what avoided Buchanan's notice was that 2 to 3 million Vietnamese civilians were killed by American troops--mostly by bombings from the air. Where were conservatives then? And if you want to look at the epitome of public incivility, one only needs to look at the history of how Blacks were treated in this nation. And when people challenged that incivility, SOME conservatives called integration 'communism' and held up signs proclaiming 'White Power' and displaying swastikas. Or look at the centuries of incivility suffered by the LGBT community. Are conservatives less guilty than liberals when it comes to practicing incivility?

What lies behind all of the incivility regardless of its ideological source is the morally lethal combination of all-or-nothing thinking and the self-righteousness as demonstrated by the Pharisee from the parable of the two men praying. And to assign more guilt to one side or the other is to passionately embrace that morally lethal combination as one's own personal partner. To reverse the curse of that morally lethal combination, we must learn how to recognize what opposing ideologies bring to the table and look to collaborate. Otherwise, we will look to conquer. And no doubt that conquering interferes with public civility. After all, look at how trying to conquer is killing public civility today. 





 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

After The Anger Must Come Sanity

The family separation practices of the Trump Administration's zero-tolerance immigration child-separation policies still burns my mind. That the Trump Administration could separate families for the political reason of attempting to discredit the Democrats is too infuriating to comprehend. This is especially true since discrediting the Democrats is not really needed because they do a good enough job at doing that to themselves. And that too many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians fell for the Trump Administration's lines only shows that they are more concerned about the status of their conservative identity than their Christian beliefs. And that is equally infuriating.

The good news from the whole situation is that showed that even the Trump Administration is subject to public pressure. Yes, Trump tried to put his own narcissistic spin on his executive order  ending the family separation practices; but such is a fixed cost that is to be expected. But, again, it was public pressure that caused Trump to reverse a policy that came from his own administration.

However, where does that leave us now? We know that the public can even change the policies of a President like Trump. But what will we do with that knowledge?

Before getting to excited about the prospects of successfully challenging Trump, we should note the public opinion conditions that caused Trump to reverse course. For the public pressure to which Trump bowed down to just didn't come from the Democrats and Leftists. it came from his own party. And that is what's depressing here. On how many other issues can we gain the same kind of consensus we had against child separation? And yet, we need that consensus to change many of the courses that the Trump Administration is pursuing.


This leads political nonconservatives to one, and only one, possible conclusion: We must learn to work more with political conservatives in order to gain some degree of control over the White House. We cannot affect change without such collaboration. And yet the ever ominous question arises that arises is, on what issues can we collaborate with conservatives to affect change?

The answer to the above question will be none if we do not learn how to talk about conservatives, and even Trump, in non-alienating ways. For the more we offend conservatives, the less we can reason with some of them. And the greater divide we have with conservatives, the less chance we have of winning some of them over on individual issues and the less chance we have of finding issues on which we can collaborate. And what is true for us regarding conservatives is true for anti-Trump conservatives regarding us.

In other words, if we as a people are going to put controls on the behavior of our current President, and future ones too, we have to exercise a significant amount of self-restraint when talking about, and with, those we disagree. We have to be able to talk about our disagreements without labeling each other as lost causes. We know that if we have enough people on our side, we can change the pursuits of the Trump White House. The question becomes: What will we do with this knowledge?





 

Monday, June 25, 2018

ONIM For June 25, 2018

10 Best Fact Checking Sites Found Here.

If you are not sure about the validity of a news story linked to below, you can use  mediabiasfactcheck.com to check out the credibility of the source of most of the stories linked to here.


Christian News


World News


Israel-Palestine News


Donald Trump News


Pick(s) Of The Litter


Just For Fun







Friday, June 22, 2018

Denying The Existence Of Elephants In The Room

Sho Baraka (click here for a bio) wrote about a non-incident in his church that seems most appropriate to mention today. He talked about how the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin was ignored in his church despite the racism that exists in our nation. This angered Baraka greatly. I am, in anger, anticipating a similar non-response in my church to the separating of children from the parents who have tried to enter our nation illegally. And, despite the fact that some of our nation's foreign policies are responsible for the impetus of many to try to enter our nation illegally, I have already seen too many conservative defenses for the separation policy to not be livid over the situation.

Baraka's article (click here for the article) strongly states that churches must address the racism elephant in the room. Otherwise both a strong anger by some and an absence of reconciliation between others in our churches will result. However, Baraka provides some guidelines for how racism should be dealt with in our churches. His guidelines preclude claims of being colorblind by some in an effort to show that they have no racism. Such claims also fail to recognize the presence of people of different races.  His guidelines preclude ignoring racism in our nation's history. And his guideline wisely preclude the use of labels on one another pending on what we say and believe. And his guidelines, so far, are simple and yet necessary to mention.

In addition, Baraka's guidelines have a stated purpose in mind: racial reconciliation within our churches. What Baraka wants to accomplish does not include playing the same old game while reversing the positions of the 1st and last place teams. He wants us to play a new game where teams aren't competing to be superior to one another. Baraka wants the house of God to live by a different set of rules than the world does. So Baraka wants problems like racism in society to be addressed and dealt with in the churches to help people in the churches deal with it and, at the same time, for people in the churches to live in a state of reconciliation and forgiveness. And for that to happen, Baraka correctly believes that our churches have to address the issue of racism in society head on.

And so far, everything in Baraka's article is good. But what is wrong with his article is what is missing from it. For what is missing from his article are the insights of Martin Luther King Jr. on racism. A good summation of King's views on racism can be seen in the quote below (click here for the source):

 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.

 Now we should note in the above quote that King would substitute 'economic exploitation' for the word 'materalism' when talking about racism at other times. Other than that, his above quote should be examined word by word. And when we do that, what we find is that racism is among 3 problematic elephants that exist in the world. And when one listens to King talk about these 3 evils, he explicitly states that we cannot eliminate just one of these problems, we must eliminate all of them together. Thus those who say that they want to eliminate racism but don't also mention exploitation and militarism, are doomed to failure.

Another part of King's quote we must pay attention to is that the cause for these three problems is found in society's valuing of gadgets, profits, and property rights more than its valuing of people. And thus, the solution to racism and the other 3 problems at least includes the changing society's values.

Why didn't Baraka mention what King said? We could venture a guess that Baraka was just writing about racial reconciliation in the Church. But how can racial reconciliation occur in our churches when our churches don't acknowledge the other problematic elephants that are inseparable from racism?

Here, perhaps we find the elephant that many conservative churches are most reluctant to mention. Lately, conservative churches have been acknowledging their role in maintaining or promoting racism in the past. Many conservative churches have acknowledged that elephant in the room. But church history shows that the elephant that is least likely to be mentioned in conservative churches is that of economic classism and exploitation. That is because, many conservative churches have sided with wealth and power. 


That siding by the predominant branch of the Church with wealth and power was true in the pre-revoutionary times of France, Russia, and Spain. In France and Spain, the predominant branch of the church was the Roman Church while in Russia, it was the Orthodox Church. And the results of that siding with wealth and power after the respective revolutions took place was unnecessary persecution of the Church and a tarnishing of the reputation of the Gospel.

Certainly while King talked about the problem of racism in society,  Baraka's concern is about racism in churches. But if being thing-oriented contributes to racism, then there can be no racial reconciliation inside or outside of our churches without acknowledging one of the causes of racism.

In the end, what Baraka wrote was good. But we need to go beyond our concerns for what happens in our churches to what also exists in our society if we are going to tackle racism in either place. That is especially true if King's views on racism and how it is inseparably tied to economic exploitation and militarism and how is caused by society valuing things more than people are true.