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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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Friday, December 14, 2018

Part X Of What Is Wrong With Today's Church

Religiously conservative American Christians suffer from a sabotaging flaw. That flaw is described as sabotaging rather than fatal because that flaw won't threaten the faith of the believer directly. However, it will undo our ability to carry out the Great Commission. And without carrying out the Great Commission, the Church gradually dies from attrition.

That flaw is easily demonstrated in R. Scott Clark's (click here for a short bio) recent blogpost entitled The Tyranny Of The New State-Religion Incoherence (click here for the article). His article laments the firing of Virginia public school teacher for not using the proper gender pronouns as requested by a student in gender transition. To Clark, this is an open-and-shut case of the rejection of objective truth by those who wish to force teachers to adhere to the gender desired pronouns of those in transition rather than letting those teachers refer to students by gender pronouns based on biological facts. Clark regards the required pronouns to be based on irrationality for those suffering from gender dysphoria while the latter is described as being rational because the pronouns fit what can be observed.

Unfortunately for Clark, neither all cultures, and culture includes religion, nor do all scientists, at least many who are members of the AMA agree with him. As for the view of gender by some Native American tribes is that of recognizing 3 to 4 different genders. Those genders included feminine males and masculine females. And, again, since cultural values are influenced by religion, then, if we are going to recognize freedom of religion,  we have to recognize this expanded view of genders acknowledged by some Native American tribes. And all of that conflicts with the open-and-shut case presented by Clark.

But furthermore, many scientists have been advocating for the use of gender preferred pronouns as determined by the individual, especially those who suffer from gender dysphoria (click here). Furthermore, there are mixed results as to whether one's gender identity is the result of genetics (click here and there and there again). We should note that the three cited articles recognize that gender identity relies on many factors and a couple of those articles state that gender identity may not be as static as Clark believes it to be.


Now while Clark would be standing on solid ground if he were to base his binary view of gender identity solely on the Scriptures, he needs to cite scientists, and not just simple observation that assumes one genitals are the sole factor in determining gender identity, who objectively support his approach. His neglect of citing scientists is the weakness of his argument since he is championing the objective approach to determining gender by appealing to biology. For the scientific approach says that both the causes for gender identity are too complicated and that we don't know enough to say.

With this article, Clark demonstrates a trait that all of us religiously conservative Christians have: our insularity and self-righteousness makes us unaware of how we come across to unbelievers. To us, the world is simple and that emboldens us to look down on those who disagree as if they have lost all touch with reality. Our insularity, which is our tendency to circle the wagons as it pertains to reading about the world around us, reinforces our insularity and self-righteousness.

In addition, our mission of sharing the Gospel sometimes causes us to have a higher view of ourselves, as compared to others, than we should. And that reinforces our insularity.

I agree with Clark with how the Scriptures define gender. However, we should note that we share society with unbelievers. And either we look to share society with others as equals or, if we assume ourselves to be superior to unbelievers, we feel entitled to rule over unbelievers in society so we can better carry out the Great Commission. And if we are going to share society with others as equals and we wish to appeal to objectivity and science, then we we appeal to reason and science in order to prove what Clark has claimed. And Clark's failure to appeal to science and reason while assuming he did is his the major fault here. And that shows his lack of awareness for how he comes across.




 




Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For December 12, 2018

December 11

To Thomas Ascik and his article that asked if America can return to being a Christian society. In his article he reviews the work of a few other Christians and is dismayed in discovering that they offer no legitimate actions that would make American society a Christian one. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

Perhaps the most prominent fault that religiously conservative American Christians share is that of the lack self-awareness. For example, religiously conservative Christians are not demonized for holding to traditional definitions  of marriage and roles for sex, they are demonized for trying to force unbelievers into accepting and practicing Christian traditions.

Likewise, if government cannot define marriage for society, then who can? Is the Church in position to define marriage for unbelievers?

Also, in calling for a limited, small government, what does Thomas Ascik, the write of the above article, think will happen to resulting the power void? Does he imagine that it will automatically dissipate? Those who call for limited government, despite having legitimate concerns, are also calling for a limited democracy wherever a working democracy is employed. Shouldn't the size of government be democratically determined as long as those limits stipulated in the Amendments to The Constitution are respected?

I have never figured out why any of my fellow religiously conservative Christians call for a return to a Christian Society from the past that never was. For we could never have legitimately claimed to possess a Christian society for as long as we embraced a racism that believed in a white supremacy that ethnically cleansed Native Americans from the land and subjugated Blacks through slavery, Jim Crow, and wealth disparity regardless of the percentage of Christians in the land or the influence of Christianity on society. For our claims to be Christian can be easily negated by how we treat those from groups other than our own. And our obliviousness to that negation only shows how much we lack self-awareness.


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Matthew Summers and his blogpost that defends Capitalism. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative Blog.

One of the most prominent faults we religiously conservative Christians have is that of having a lack of self-awareness. That lack of self-awareness applies both to us personally and how we try to rule over others in society rather than share society with unbelievers as equals. And our lack of awareness is demonstrated in obliviousness to how our sacred cows affect others. And a lack of self-awareness is shown in the above article that defends capitalism.

We should start with the faulty definition of capitalism:

The term capitalism refers to an economic organization in which the means of production are privately owned, and production is guided by profit.

Here capitalism is determined by private ownership rather than public ownership. However, a key distinguishing trait of capitalism has been left out. That trait is that ownership and guidance of production is also determined by solely by wealth which leaves out labor. Here we should note the central role of labor in producing wealth for the business. But those who only provide such labor are objectified by the capitalist system. Of course, there are individual business owners who show more respect for the their workers than other business owners. But in a system where the largest businesses are owned by shareholders, those who own the most shares indirectly guide production. And the most prominent ethic employed by those shareholders is the maximize  personal profits ethic. That ethic is a cannibalizing ethic that devours all competition. Logically speaking, if a higher profit can be gained by breaking the law, then the maximize personal profits ethic demands that one breaks the law. Thus this ethic makes the most powerful shareholders into absentee landlords of the workplace.

Yes, there are owners who treat many of their employees with respect and loyalty. But just as there were some slave owners who were kinder to their slaves than others, the real issue is how much dignity does the system recognize in those at the bottom of the pile. How much dignity did slavery recognize in those who were slaves? And so how much dignity does the capitalism system itself recognize in its workers when labor power can be commodified, and thus objectified, to the same degree that raw materials are?

Above all, because ownership and control is determined by wealth, Capitalism distributes power by wealth. And that distribution of power applies both to the workplace and government. The sharing of power with others then is looked upon as an impediment to the maximization of profits. And yet, the sharing of power is the beginning of peace while the refusal to share power is the beginning of war. Perhaps that is why we tend to have class wars under Capitalism. And we should that just because an exploited class has not resisted does not mean that we have no class war.
There are elements that we should borrow from capitalism to form a hybrid system. But capitalism per se is not worth defending.







Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Necessity Of Context In Understanding People

What one is now reading about George H. W. Bush depends on the internet circles in which one runs. For many, they have read many wonderful descriptions of '41,' as he was known. He was a decent gentleman and a devoted public servant. He certainly represents a time when self-restraint was seen as necessary quality for being a public servant and as a strength, unlike today. And while some conservatives were upset because he was not conservative enough, one only needs to read the descriptions by some on the Left to see the need to balance criticisms of him. Most of those criticisms revolve around his leading of the CIA before his presidency and his use of the military during. His invasion of Panama and his short-lived war against Saddam Hussein are reasons for most of the Left's criticisms of him.

How we understand '41' depends on the context from which we speak. Here, I am not talking about the context provided by one's ideology. Rather, I am talking about the events by which one understands the worlds and one's government. For example, while she lived, my mom and I would have very vigorous debates over what it means to support our nation and its policies. My mom was part of the the WW II generation who believed that one must always support what America was doing in the world. After all, such support was needed to win WW II and it was clear that America, as it was in WW II, was in danger of being attacked and even defeated by its current enemies.


However, my generation saw the betrayal of our nation by our government under several administrations as seen in their prosecution of the Vietnam War. That war was about the reunification of a nation but was marketed to us civilians as an us vs. them war to prevent a domino effect that would lead to Communist domination of the world. Over 58,000 American troops were killed in that unnecessary war and many more suffered from the harsh mental and physical effects of fighting in a war. Thus, many in my generation became cynical of our government's foreign policies and with good reason.

So while my mom urged me to unquestionably support America's foreign ventures, I tried to convince her to put her own government and its foreign policies on trial. According to the context of our backgrounds, we both had valid points to make.

So how should we judge George H. W. Bush. Was he the saint that people wish to remember as or was he a murderous war monger as seen in his invasion of Panama and his prosecution of the First Persian Gulf War? Here we should note that in the latter engagement, the US violated many standards expressed in the Geneva conventions in attacking Iraqi civilian infrastructure and a civilian shelter. The combination of the destruction of Iraqi infrastructure along with sanctions that followed caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children from the 1990s through the beginning of Geroge W. Bush's Presidency. We should note that the Iraqi civilian deaths from that first war and the sanctions was one of the reasons for the 9/11 attacks.


However, we should note that despite how much many of my fellow leftists would enthusiastically condemn his use of the military, we need to understand that '41' was operating from a WW II mentality. That is after seeing the results of pre-WW II isolationism, undoubtedly, George H. W. Bush saw both his nation acting as a point of light in a world that needed such a point of light. This should damper some of vitriol coming from the Left regarding Bush's use of the military. Unfortunately, American imperialism, which has replaced isolationism, seems not to be the answer as seen in the horrific results it produces. Thus, we should note that while trying to understand Bush's perspective on foreign policies, context, though dampening some criticisms, does not leave him off the hook. Some of his foreign policy decisions led to the unnecessary deaths of many civilians, both Panamanian and Iraqi. And though the context of Bush's view of the word might lend some innocence to his foreign policy decisions, it doesn't take a way from the vast amount of suffering that resulted.

Like most of us, George H. W. Bush is neither the saint that some wish to remember him as nor the son of the devil that others wish to portray him as. Like most of us, George H. W. Bush has a mixed record and we should note our own mixed records before enthusiastically criticizing him. But one thing can be positively said about '41,' his extraordinary exercise in self-restraint and attempts to take a balanced approach to problems as he saw them are sorely missed today.





Monday, December 10, 2018

ONIM For December 10, 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, December 7, 2018

Does Racism Still Live In The Reformed Church

Jemar Tisby (click here for a bio) recently gave a talk about racism in the Reformed Church in America. The Reformed Church consists of a collection of denominations that rely heavily on Reformers like John Calvin and theological standards like the Westminster Standards. The talk took place at Covenant College and it was about both the past and the present racism. And the talk is as necessary to hear as it is sad to listen to. A link to the talk can be found at the website The Witness: A Black Christian Collective (click here for a link to the talk).

In his talk, Tisby talks about current racism that caused the name of his current website to be changed from The Reformed African American Network. Tisby felt forced that his website was forced out of the Reformed community into a broader community. Here lists some of the horrible racist acts that occurred recently in America. In addition, Tisby felt harsh criticism of and push back to his efforts to call the Church to repentance from even Reformed Christian believers.

Then Tisby mentions American Reformed Christians who promoted racism in several ways. Those ways include owning slaves or supporting slavery, promoting white supremacy, and practicing and defending Jim Crow.

Christian support of racism should be deemed as unconscionable, and yet it occurs. Often we don't care to be honest about the racism because it was practiced by our some of our Reformed heroes. That is because acknowledging that racism makes us feel uncomfortable when celebrating and following those heroes.

Tisby links racism to the violation of the 6th Commandment prohibiting murder. And considering how Jesus interpreted that commandment and how the Westminster Catechism defines murder, he makes a very valid point. For the scriptural prohibition against murder can include anger or not doing what one to preserve life including having adequate healthcare. Tisby goes on to say that we have failed to legitimately use the Catechism to oppose racism. And because racism is a violation of the Commandment, it is a Gospel issue.

Despite racism being such a violation, some of America's great Reformed heroes, like Jonathan Edwards, practiced and promoted racism. He also referred to Robert Lewis Dabney and his defense of slavery and white supremacy. Later on, Tisby gets around to mentioning the racism that was part of the PCA. Before making these points, Tisby could have gone one step better. He could have mentioned Martin Luther's anti-Semitism which went way beyond opposition to the Jewish religion's rejection of Christ. Martin Luther's anti-Semitism was clearly a form of racism.

Tisby notes that many American Reformed heroes from the past were more interested in sanitizing slavery than calling for repentance from it, and thus they were also more interested in sanitizing racism instead of opposing it. And then Tisby makes an excellent point that is not often made by Christians from a Reformed tradition. He notes that much Reformed preaching and theology addresses individual sins while ignoring institutional or corporate sins alone. Those latter sins are sins committed by groups rather than individuals. Here we should note that Reformed Christians who hold to Two Kingdom Theology often reject the existence of institutional or corporate sins because their definition of sin is so focused on the individual.


 Finally, Tisby mentions how current racism in the PCA still exists today, it still exists especially in the form of apathy. Then Tisby talks about the lack of representation of Blacks in PCA leadership.

The talk being reviewed here is the first part of a 3 part message. And care was taken here not to give too much of a detailed analysis because Tisby's message should be listened to more than read about. We should note that when racism, or other forms of tribalism, make their way into the Church, not only do those in the Church become more vulnerable to committing murder as Tisby described, it makes the worship of God in the Church more about one's own groups than about God. And all too often, that has become our worship services have become. Though we invoke God's name in those services, what we are really worshiping is ourselves.







 

 


references
  • https://thewitnessbcc.com/the-long-history-of-racism-and-reformed-theology-jemar-tisby-at-covenant-college/
  • https://jemartisby.com/about/

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For December 5, 2018

Dec 3

To Joseph Sunde and his blogpost that argues against the $15 per hour minimum wage. This appeared in the Acton blog.

There are two problems with the $15 per hour minimum wage. The first problem is that not all areas of the country, or any state, has the same cost of living. In rural parts of the country where the cost of living, especially the cost of housing, is significantly lower than in the cost of living in cities. And the cost of living can be different from city to city depending on the size and/or region of the nation a city is located in.

The second problem is partially expressed in the above article: it takes away the need for workers and owners to talk with each other, listen to each other, and work together for each other's interest. And what the conservative side seems to miss about the $15 per hour minimum wage is that the loss of jobs isn't just a possibility for small businesses, it also occurs in corporations. And what many of these corporations have said to workers is that to have any job at all, one must settle for what the owners offer regardless of whether they are offering poverty wages.
An illustration of the problem can be seen franchises. When large food corporations, like Mac Donald's opens a restaurant, it will either open a corporate owned store or a franchise one. With the former, the corporation assumes all costs. Starbucks, if memory serves, has opened quite a few corporate-owned coffee shops. With the latter, the franchise owner assumes all of the costs and that includes returning some of the income from the franchise to the corporation so that the corporation joins a franchise's list of creditors. Meanwhile, the franchise restaurant becomes only a source of income for the corporation. The franchise owner is responsible for all of the non start-up costs.

Unless at least part of the cost for the $15 per hour minimum wage is billed to the corporations that have opened franchise stores via taxes,  the $15 per hour minimum wage only hits the franchise owners who are then put in between a rock and a hard place. In the meantime, the shareholders of the corporations involved would object to their corporations being taxed in order to defray some of the some cost for the new minimum wage because they live by the maximize personal profits ethic: the very ethic that is destroying not just our economy, but our society as well. For the wealthiest shareholders believe that only they deserve to be able to live by that ethic even though that ethic is the cause of class war and the exploitation of people and the environment. We should note that when there are attempts to reverse the exploitation by allowing other parties to live by the same ethic, the business or or economic sectors or the whole system is subject to collapse.


When only one group is allowed to live by the maximize personal profits ethic, we see wide scale exploitation and either self-destruction or revolution. When we allow other groups to practice the maximize personal profits ethic, we also see failures in businesses, economic sectors, and the whole system. So the real problem here is not setting a proper minimum wage, as important as that is, the real problem is how to actually exorcise  the maximization of personal profits from our economy and culture

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Dec 4

To Joe Carter and his blogpost that cites a Koch Industries’ study that predicts significant negative results that will result from Trump’s tariffs. This appeared in the Acton blog.


Here is the problem with Joe Carter's article, it takes predictions from a highly invested source as facts without reviewing America's past use of tariffs, without it mentioning available literature on the current effects of Trump's tariffs, and without questioning the possible lack of objectivity that could occur in source he is citing.


I write the above from neutral point of view on Trump's tariffs. America's history has shown that tariffs can have positive long-term effects. In fact, from the beginning of our nation up through FDR's Presidency, America employed tariffs to allow fledgling American industries to grow to the point of being competitive with, if not superior to, their counterparts from all over the world. That doesn't mean that tariffs always work. But it shows that tariffs can contribute positively to a nation's economy especially when the long-term results are examined. Such a point is not considered in Carter's article.


Other literature is not considered by Carter's article as well. The Houston Chronicle reports that Trump's tariffs are producing mixed results on manufacturers (see https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/economy/article/Trump-tariffs-having-mixed-impact-on-13432850.php ). CNN also gives a mixed report on the results that Trump's tariffs will have on American Manufacturers (see https://money.cnn.com/2018/03/08/news/economy/tariff-explainer/index.html   ) as well as a picture containing some uncertainty.
Furthermore, we should note the source of Carter's report: Koch Industries. How much trust can we put into a report that comes from a for-profit source that might not be all objective? A scientific approach to the subject would not put so much weight on one source especially when the objectivity of that source is questionable.
With all of the above mentioned flaws, why does Carter present his material as factual?






 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Why Our Elected Leaders Fail Us

The list of items that the newly elected Democrats want to investigate Trump seems endless. It's not that Trump should be immune to investigations, that is not the issue here. The issue is that the newly elected Democrats were elected to either pass or reject new legislation. They were elected to exercise a personal vendetta against Trump--and I am writing this as one who strongly opposes Trump.

Of course, the Republicans are no different. Once Obama was elected President, Mitch McConnell's life goal, as well as that of many other Republicans, became to prevent Obama's reelection. And once Trump became President, the stated goal of the Republicans in power was to undo almost everything, if not everything Obama instituted--especially Obamacare.


At this point, it should not be hard to see why our government doesn't work anymore. Our two major political parties are too busy exercising vendettas against each other while employing all-or-nothing thinking. If the Republicans had listed some of Obama's accomplishments as being worthy of preserving or if the Democrats had stated that they were going to investigate only one or two aspects of Trump and his Presidency, then they would be behaving reasonably; but that is not the case.

There are two characteristics of the vendetta thinking exercised by both Republicans and Democrats that disqualify them from legitimately representing the people. the first characteristic is that too many members of both sides have revenge as their first priority. They want to do all that they can to punish their rivals. But when their revals represent so many of America's people, how can they pursue their attack mode posture toward their revals while still representing the people who elected them?

Second, by attacking or planning to attack as many agenda items or personal characteristics as possible, those representatives who do so show that they are exercising all-or-nothing thinking patterns. What is wrong with all-or-nothing thinking? According to one article, the following occurs (click here for the source):
 
All-or-nothing thinking is problematic in many ways. It’s limiting and “creates extreme and impossible expectations.”

But worse than that, such thinking is often classified as a cognitive disorder that can contribute to mood disorders and unhealthy behavior. In the end, such thinking distorts reality more often than not (click here and there). Do we really want elected officials who embrace, sometimes passionately, harmful thinking patterns that start to separate its practitioners from reality? Isn't having a President who uses that type of thinking bad enough for our nation? And by imitating what one's opponent does, hasn't one become one's opponent? Such is a legitimate question to ask of both the newly elected Democrats as well and President Trump and his allies.

Should the Democrats spend more time in trying to investigate Trump than they do on passing needed legislation, then they have shown themselves to be no different than the Republicans' whose life goal was to prevent Obama from serving 2 terms as President. And thus another difference between the Republicans and the Democrats fades of into the sunset.

Of course we should note that holding to a 2-Party system fosters such thinking. With having candidates from only two parties, all-or-nothing thinking is reinforced in the minds of Americans. For what the 2-party system forces on the voters is the idea that one must choose between 2 candidates, between the them and not them candidates. Such lays the groundwork for voters to embrace all-or-nothing thinking. And with that comes a greater and greater disconnect for all of the middle ground that often resides between our two choices.


Our political landscape should be declared a federal disaster area. Elections show that, with our limited choices, we keep descending into the depths of ignorance that all-or-nothing thinking fosters. And we citizens have no monopoly on those cognitive problems. Our political leaders willingly show that they have a capacity to passionately embrace a cognitive disorder that limits our thinking, brings mood disorders, and contributes to some of us losing touch with reality.

If the newly elected Democrats want to bring a positive change to our nation's current course of direction, then must limit the number and depth of investigations planned for President Trump in order to work on legislation that is beneficial to the most number of Americans. Nothing else will do.