How Much Do You Have to Hate Someone Not to Proselytize?

Francis Schaeffer on the Origins of Relativism in the Church

One of My Favorite Songs

An Inspiring Song


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Libertarian, Libertarianism

A libertarian is a person who agrees with conservatives that man has certain fundamental rights and that the proper role of government is limited to the securing of those rights--that is, to justice--but who tries to build his argument on a basis other than from God's revelation. Ayn Rand, for example, started from Aristotle's famous A=A and built her whole edifice upon that point. Libertarian arguments in general seem to me to be designed to prove to all men everywhere that man has certain fundamental rights, and for this reason, are generally made without reference to God, on the grounds that not all men believe in God.

The problem, as far as I am concerned, is that as soon as you start building your argument apart from God, the very obvious question comes up: "If I want to violate someone else's rights, as long as I can get away with it, why shouldn't I?" And in the most practical terms possible, a godless argument offers no serious answer to this. To the best of my recollection, every time one of Rand's characters in Atlas Shrugged asked some variant of this question, she has one of heroes or heroines shoot him (said shooting generally accompanied by a sneering observation about the questioner's cannibalistic tendencies) rather than grapple with the question. Ultimately, a godless argument for man's rights suffers from what Francis Schaeffer called an insufficient base. In an atheistic universe, the only law that applies is the law of the jungle: eat or be eaten.

A second problem for libertarians is that in practical terms, they cannot actually finance the very limited functions of government that they will concede should exist, as they usually hold that taxation for any reason amounts to robbery. The conservative says that God ordained government and taxes to support its legitimate functions.

Nevertheless, because libertarians do hold that man has fundamental rights, the violation of which constitutes immoral behavior, libertarians and conservatives have many areas of policy overlap and are frequent political allies.

Liberal, Liberalism

"Liberal" is another of those words that can defy concise explanation. However, I believe that in general, if conservatism can be fairly said to be "...trying not to do anything stupidly risky, things that fly in the face of common sense, that defy the testimony of God in nature and Scripture, that flout history, that ignore the fallen and depraved nature of mankind; as an approach to life and governance that seeks to limit government to the role laid out for it by God, thereby establishing justice and protecting Man's God-given rights," then liberalism would be the willingness to do stupidly risky things without regard for common sense, history, the fallen and depraved nature of mankind, the testimony of God in nature and Scripture, and, very often, to use government as an instrument by which it hopes to achieve its often hopelessly ill-defined and unrealistic goals. I would say that in general, the big flaw in liberalism is that it tries to base its approach to life--and governance--on the shifting sands of man's reason untethered to the revelation of God. It starts with autonomous man and tries to reason its way upward, and ends with a society in which justice is sacrificed to every man doing what is right in his own eyes--and indeed, one could make the case that that is its purpose: to allow man to justify what he wants to do anyway as being right.

Conservative, Conservatism

When it comes right down to it, it is fairly hard to come up with a concise, yet satisfactory, definition of "conservative." For one thing, like liberal, the word can be applied to more than just the political sphere; there are social conservatives, "conservative" chess players, etc. It might be easier to define conservatism as trying not to do anything stupidly risky, things that fly in the face of common sense, that defy the testimony of God in nature and Scripture, that flout history, that ignore the fallen and depraved nature of mankind; as an approach to life and governance that seeks to limit government to the role laid out for it by God, thereby establishing justice and protecting Man's God-given rights. A conservative, then, would be a person who practices conservatism, especially when it comes to governance.

Two things will be seen immediately: first, that conservatism relies implicitly upon a biblical worldview. In my opinion, this is the principal thing that distinguishes it from libertarianism, which shares many of the same positions concerning man's rights, but lacks an adequate intellectual basis for defending them, and therefore results in some most impractical and imprudent positions. Second, that conservatism is not implicitly wed to one particular form of government, though it might be said to be devoted to one particular governmental aim, the fulfillment of its God-given role as minister of justice. Many putative conservatives these days operate on the assumption that conservatism is inseparable from Western-style representative governance, but this is not the case. The first noted conservative of relatively modern times, for example, Edmund Burke, was a committed monarchist. Granted, he favored the unwritten constitution of England, which guaranteed certain rights to all Englishmen, but he was a monarchist nonetheless. A conservative will not make the mistake of thinking that one can govern Baghdad the same way that one governs Amarillo.

This explanation suffers from being too brief, but it will have to suffice.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Common-Sense Conservative

A common-sense conservative is a person who, without the benefit of extensive reading, knowledge of history, or sometimes even much thinking, holds mostly conservative ideas on the grounds that conservative ideas mostly make a reasonable amount of sense. Common-sense conservatives, for example, know that it makes no sense for an individual to continually spend more than he takes in; it will lead to disaster. So when they see government continually spend more than it takes in, they don't have any trouble accepting the common conservative position that government shouldn't do that without the gravest of reasons. Other common conservative positions are arrived at with a likewise common-sense approach.

The chief problem with common-sense conservatives is that they can sometimes be bamboozled by some huckster who can make bad ideas sound more plausible than they really are. Their relatively poor grounding in history, and often in Scripture, makes it more difficult for them to pick up on historical and logical errors.

On the other hand, probably the majority of people who consistently vote conservative fall into this category, so they are very valuable, to say the least.


A person who believes in the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture (that is, that the Bible is the word of God, that God used men as men use pens, making use of their lives, their emotions, etc., the entirety of their beings and personalities, to so record what He wanted that the result is actually Him speaking), the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture in the original autographs (that is, that the Bible is not the words of mere men in any place, and that God made no mistakes of any kind in the inscripturating of what He had to say, and that it always accomplishes just what He wants accomplished), and the need for personal conversion to Christ, based upon Christ's work on the Cross, plus nothing. Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura Supra Omne, Sola Deo Gloria. And I will add one more thing: an evangelical, for purposes of my blogging, believes that we can know, as surely as is appropriate to man to know anything, spiritual truth from the Bible.

Public Indoctrination

"Government education," or "government schooling" in my blogging, but most people know it as "public education," or "public schooling." I call it "public indoctrination" because I believe that not only to be its principal purpose today, but its principal purpose for the last several decades--at least. It certainly fails miserably at actually educating children.

Theological Liberal

For the purposes of my blogging, a theological liberal is someone who claims to be a Christian and who denies Biblical accuracy or authority or knowability, or any combination of the three. That is, their position is usually some amalgam of the Bible is wrong about some things, what it says isn't binding on the conscience of the believer, and/or you can't know what it says/means for certain for one reason or another. A theological liberal isn't necessarily an idiot, ignorant, or an awful person. On the other hand, like other liberals, his morality is ultimately based on the shifting sands of human opinion and is constructed largely to make what he already wants to do seem "right in his own eyes."

Essential Karate Books

Some time back, I put together a list of books on karate--or on subjects I think are closely related to karate, or contribute to a proper understanding of karate. Here it is, for those interested. I'll tell you right up front that my recommendation of a book in no way means that I agree with every jot or tittle contained within it, and that with some, I have serious reservations. Nevertheless, something in that book is worthwhile.

First up: Masatoshi Nakayama's Dynamic Karate. In my opinion, this is the definitive work on how to do modern Shotokan, surpassing even Funakoshi's Karate-Do Kyohan. Despite the criticisms some make of the changes Gichin Funakoshi and some of his students made to Okinawan karate to produce Shotokan--which is probably the quintessential modern Japanese version of karate--such as that the method of forming the fist and generating power have been altered, many of the applications of the old forms discarded, etc., etc., etc., the reality is that enough of the basic material is left within Shotokan that with the old bunkai added back in (something that is happening more and more as this knowledge becomes more widely known and accepted), Shotokan can be a fiercely combative art. Shoot, even without some of the old bunkai, Shotokan is nothing to sneeze at. Those people have learned how to hit hard, even if their method of punching differs from Kiyoshi Arakaki's, and some of the modern bunkai are downright vicious.

This book breaks the movements of Shotokan down in detail. I think a person who, out in the sticks without a karate instructor, had this book, could at least get going on the basics and maybe not go too far wrong. That's saying something. Something important.

Bunkai, for the uninitiated, are applications drawn from the kata, which are the prearranged sets of movements you see karate practitioners doing.

Next: Patrick McCarthy's The Bible of Karate: Bubishi. The Bubishi is an old document that a number of Okinawa's old masters treasured. It has been copied and recopied and there are parts of it that are confusing and hard to deal with. Mr. McCarthy's translation and commentary, especially as regards history, are invaluable.

A caveat: It is clear from certain of Mr. McCarthy's words that his worldview is somewhat incompatible with biblical Christianity's. However, that does not impact the material in this book, nor its usefulness. It is just something to be aware of in your evaluation of some of the things he says.

Next: Yang Jwing-Ming's Analysis of Shaolin Chin-Na and also his Comprehensive Applications of Shaolin Chin Na. Chin Na is the corpus of close-quarter seizing and grappling techniques common to kung fu styles, and is very similar in some ways to the tuite practiced in Okinawan karate--practiced in Okinawan karate, that is, if you have an instructor familiar with it, which is not too common. Both books cover the subject well, with the former, much shorter book dwelling more on how the techniques work, while the second attempts an exhaustive catalog of the major techniques. The striking of vital points--or cavity press, kyusho-jutsu in Okinawan karate--is also covered to some extent.

Next: Javier Martinez's Okinawan Karate: the Secret Art of Tuite. An introduction to the close-quarter grappling and seizing techniques common to Okinawan karate. An eye-opener.

Next: Kiyoshi Arakaki's The Secrets of Okinawan Karate: Essence and Technique. A book almost entirely about how to generate and use power in karate technique. Invaluable especially for its discussion of how to form the fist.

Next: Shoshin Nagamine's The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do, principally as a reference on the sequence of moves in many of the major kata. I will say that it is hard to "get" how those movements are performed solely from still pictures in a book. However, anyone reading this post has access to a major asset: YouTube. You can find almost anything on YouTube these days, including expert kata performances, and this certainly helps. I would caution you to look at more than one performance of any given kata you may be interested in, though, as some of the videos are clearly posted by proud parents, and others are posted by people with real skill. At any rate, you can learn the movement sequences of a number of kata from this book, and combined with the examples available via YouTube, you might have a fighting chance, so to speak.

I know that the Goju Ryu guys, Isshin Ryu guys, and Uechi Ryu guys might object that Nagamine's book leaves out their kata, some of which are quite famous and influential. Nolo contendere. That is true. The karate I practice seems to me more from the Shuri-te/Tomari-te stream than from the Naha-te stream, though I do practice (badly) the Uechi Ryu version of Sanchin, largely as an exercise. If I read an outstanding book that clearly delineates some of the Naha-te kata, I'll add it to the list.

None of the books mentioned, in my opinion, do a great job of how to deal with the makiwara. I'll do another post on that sometime. Even got it named: I'm going to call it The Forge of Karate.

Next: Zhao Da Yuan's Practical Chin Na: A Detailed Analysis of the Art of Seizing and Locking. If I had to limit myself to one book on chin na or tuite, this would be it. I'm told that years ago, Taika Seiyu Oyata wrote one for his students, but I have never seen a copy. Until I can obtain a copy of that highly-desired book, this will have to do. Very clear and logical explanations of the range of motion of each joint of the body, and how to lock them up.