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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Real Republicans" and Party Loyalty--and Dewey Bartlett, Jr.

In following a chain of links that started with Batesline the other day I eventually wound up at a blog I haven't frequented in some time. I stopped going there because the blogger's penchant for stridently criticizing other Republicans for their stridency, for ridiculing other Republicans for mocking their opposition, for, a remarkable amount of the time, giving the impression that he thought he was the only rational Republican left in the local blogosphere, the only man smart enough to see through Rush Limbaugh, had gotten a little too much to put up with. In one particularly spectacular episode, whilst criticizing Rush Limbaugh for stridency, he called him an ***hole, and when the inconsistency was pointed out, he offered up the sorry excuse that, well, doggone it, he felt passionately about the subject.

Like Limbaugh isn't allowed passion?

He's still up to it. One recent post was vicious mockery of "Real Republicans" for, in part, the crime of referring to other Republicans as RINOS (Republicans in Name Only). Mocking people for mockery, sarcastically criticizing sarcasm, shouting (blogospherically speaking) at people for stridency--after a while, that sort of thing makes it hard to take a person seriously. Please understand: I'm not criticizing the man's stridency, mockery, etc. I'm criticizing his habit of doing the very same things for which he criticizes others, and excusing himself on grounds he denies to others.

The "Real Republicans" post and one other that I saw appeared to be directed at certain local Republicans, possibly Michael Bates in particular, at least implying, if not saying outright, that they think of themselves as some sort of Republican elite too pure to soil themselves by backing Dewey Bartlett, the local Republican nominee for mayor. The implied charge seems to be that their quest for ideological purity has led them into party disloyalty, which in turn will lead to having not even the half-a-loaf they could have had, that is, to having a Democrat mayor instead of the Republican. The "Real Republicans," it seemed to me, were being viciously mocked for a lack of party loyalty that might cost Republicans the mayor's seat. "Party Matters," seemed to be the mantra.

And you know, it does. All political parties, including Republicans, are coalitions, after all, cobbled together to pool members' resources in an attempt to elect candidates marginally less repulsive than other parties'--other coalitions'--candidates. The coalition cannot be effective if its members refuse to support what is inevitably a compromise candidate. I can see that point. Party, and party loyalty, matter. One should certainly recognize that half-a-loaf is better than none. That's why I voted for McCain, a manifestly terrible candidate, instead of abstaining or voting for Obama, a truly nightmarish candidate. But what if you are truly convinced that your party's candidate isn't even half-a-loaf? If you're convinced that he hasn't even come out of the same bakery that you did?

It seems to me that this loyalty has to work both ways--at least within the limits of conscience, that is, no one expects a candidate to obey the party rather than God, for example--which is to say that party members should be able to reasonably expect that their candidates, once in office, will at least not pursue an agenda more in keeping with other parties' agendas than their own.

It's sad to say, but there really are people who will run as Republicans not because they have genuinely heartfelt convictions that put them more or less at the conservative end of the political spectrum, but because they believe that Republican affiliation offers them the best chance of being elected. That's not party loyalty on their end, it's naked opportunism, and I see nothing wrong with labeling such people RINOs or with withholding support they have no real right to expect.

Willingness to compromise is essential in politics, but when it gets to the point where your candidates, once in office, are hard to distinguish from other parties' candidates, it has gone too far. There comes a point when you must say, "No further," where you must draw a line.

For many conservatives, establishment Republicans have been very close to crossing that line for some time. We say, "Smaller government!" while our party grows government at a record pace. We say, "Welfare doesn't work!" while our party adds a major entitlement. We say, "America first!"--those of us who aren't Neocons, anyway--and our party refuses to pursue tax policies that will bring jobs home, and refuses to control our borders. And so on. It makes it difficult, very difficult, for a conservative to argue in the public sphere, as the errors of the Republican Party are constantly hung 'round conservative necks. Yes, conservatives generally voted for Bush (this is the constant and inevitable criticism from people determined to conflate conservatism and the Republican Party) and other Republicans, but that doesn't mean that they supported everything Bush and the Republicans did. It means only that given a choice between "bad"--Bush's "compassionate conservatism"--and "worse"--Kerry's, then Obama's, greased slide into European-style welfare statism--they went with "bad."

And we're not supposed to be critical of the people who are doing this to us? We're supposed to support candidates whose records strongly suggest that we will be knifed in the back once they're in office? Whose associations and past words strongly suggest that they have higher political loyalties than the Republican Party, people whom we have every reason to believe will tar us as "extremists," as "partisans," as "naysayers"? We're supposed to write checks and pleasing words for them?

It's a little bit much for me to take. When we have good reason to believe that we are going to see the same mayoral approach, more or less, from Bartlett as we saw from Kathy Taylor, or as we are going to see from Tom Adelson, why support him with our dollars, our time, and our writing? It looks to me like we can have someone loyal to the Midtown Elites with either Bartlett or Adelson, so why bother to spend a nickel on either one?

For another take on what I believe is the same post, look at Steve Roemerman's post.

A Brief Stop in Barnsdall

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to be in Barnsdall, Oklahoma. I had a little time to snap a few pictures. I love rural Oklahoma. One of the reasons I can tolerate Tulsa is that you only have to drive about fifteen, twenty miles in any given direction, and you're in rural Oklahoma. Shoot, there are neighborhoods in Tulsa where you wouldn't know that you weren't in rural Oklahoma if it weren't for the fact that you drive out of that neighborhood to go to work every day.

If the post seems a little unrelated to the blog's overall purpose--well, I don't know. It seems to me that it does, though perhaps not so much in a didactic sort of way.

You can get bigger images if you click on the pictures.
This is just a thoroughly bucolic scene on the way into Barnsdall. Gotta love the scenery.


Here's the Barnsdall police station. That's the ideal: things are supposed to be under sufficient control, due to a thoroughly Christianized population, that your lone police officer is bored to tears.

I like this. Every town ought to have some old artillery pieces, or an old tank, or something of the like. It's a good way to remember and honor those who've given their lives for their country.

I love this building. Only God knows how old it is. I just love the appearance, the stonework. There are old buildings like this all over the state, and I love them all.

This is about how I eventually want my own Bronco II to look. Gotta love the somewhat simple and easy-to-maintain coloring, and the cow-catcher up front. I would probably add a winch up front; not that I've ever actually needed a winch,mind you, but it's one of those things that seems to find a need once you get one.

I'm not really a vehicle snob. I will, if driven by economic necessity, drive almost anything. But given my druthers, I'd much rather drive an old four-wheel-drive or pickup truck than anything else. And truth to tell, I'm not sure I really understand how anyone in Oklahoma gets along with anything else. It almost seems unnatural to me to see Oklahomans in things like a Prius. And God forbid you should see one in a "smart car." It's weird, know what I mean?

I have only passed this place--it's Victory Baptist

--two or three times, but everytime I do, it provokes the wildest ideas in my head. I don't know what it is about the place. I wrote about it once before. As best I can recall, it was that a whole flood of images came into my mind. I pictured it as a church where, on Sunday mornings, the Gospel was preached, the text of Scripture was expounded, and Christ exalted. Then there'd be a potluck lunch, and maybe a softball game, or maybe some indoor games (chess or go, anyone?). Then everyone'd go home for a nap, and come back at night for more preaching, teaching, and prayer, maybe followed by some sandwiches.

Monday night'd be visitation. Not like most churches, where "visitation" means visiting people who should've been removed from the rolls years before, or visiting people that brought their kids to the "Fall Festival" five years in a row, but visiting, first, the members who couldn't be at church due to illness or frailty, those who are having a hard time in one way or another, and then just going door-to-door, asking people how we could pray for them, and sharing the Gospel where the Lord opens the door.

Tuesday nights, the karate club'd meet. I picture an energetic, sweaty class, where the emphasis is on health and self-defense, not fighting, not aggression, with maybe just enough free-sparring thrown in to satisfy those that want to compete in an occasional tournament.

Maybe some other clubs'd meet, too--whatever people were interested in. Maybe Praisemoves for some.

Wednesday nights'd be for discipleship training. Classes on all sorts of stuff, from in-depth study of various books of the Bible, to home economics (we all need to know how to stretch a dollar, folks), to New Testament Greek. Maybe a homeschooling support group (Everyone'd be homeschooling, of course). Classes'd be preceded by a potluck meal and followed by a prayer session.

Thursdays, the karate club and Praisemoves'd meet again.

Fridays and Saturdays, you'd have "off," so to speak. You gotta cut the grass sometime, y'know?

If that sounds like I'd like pretty much my entire social life to revolve around the church, like I'd like to spend my time around God's people, especially when they share some of my other interests, like I'd prefer them to all others in the world, well--

Yeah. You just about got it. I think that's the way church oughta be. That's what, in part, I'm working on for the future. I may die before I see it fully realized. But that's the direction I'm headed.

I don't know why Victory--I'm not really sure whether it's considered to be in Prue or Barnsdall, or somewhere in between--puts these images in my head. But man, the place is gorgeous, and gorgeously countrified. I think it used to be a school once, a long time ago. I just have these mental images of classroom after classroom, all just begging to be used by someone in the church.

In Barnsdall, proper, we have First Christian. Gorgeous little building. Many times I think the ideal is to have a little church like this in every neighborhood, with the social life of the whole neighborhood revolving around it. I'm about half-convinced that when we got to the point where you had to drive to church instead of walk (or ride your horse), it allowed us to be too darn selective about who we'd associate with.

You see, it doesn't take long to figure out that I'm never, ever going to find the ideal church, the way I've described my "visions of Victory" above. No one ever will find the "ideal" church. The church, the ekklesia, has people of all stripes in it, people with widely disparate interests, whose only common interest, quite often, is the work and person of Jesus Christ. And we're supposed to love one another in spite of those differences. The one huge thing we have in common is supposed to be of such moment that all our differences don't prevent us from loving to spend time around one another. Being able to drive--I've run across people that drive thirty or more miles to church, folks--well, it seems to me that it makes it easier to ignore the people who are right around us, in favor of people that we find it easier to love. Is that really the way Christian brotherhood is supposed to work?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Must Read

A must read, that is, if you care at all about what may end up being the most momentous decision of the Obama presidency.

Some of you--both liberals and conservatives--may not like Pat Buchanan all that much. Personally, I think your dislike is misplaced. That is not to say that I agree with every jot and tittle of what the man writes. I don't. But I do think that you ignore what he has to say at your peril. He is on target in his analysis more often than almost anyone else I read. Not for nothing has it been said that his tombstone should read, "I told you so, you (badword) fools!" Here's a taste:
While America was consumed this summer with quarrels over town-hall radicals, "death panels," the "public option" and racism's role in the plunging polls of Barack, what happens to health care is not going to change the history of the world.

What happens in Afghanistan might.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal has done his duty. He has bluntly told his commander in chief what he must have in added combat troops and warned that if he does not get them, America faces "mission failure."

Translation: a Taliban victory and U.S. defeat, as in Saigon 1975.

Not only does President Obama face the most critical decision of his young presidency, this country is facing a moment of truth.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Klavan on Racism, Courtesy of Cathouse Chat

Kat embedded this video, which I enjoyed considerably, and I follow suit for those of you who don't follow her blog (shame on you!).

I've also appended it to the end of my old post, Thoughts on Racism, which I hope you'll take time to read before deciding that I'm a RAAAAAAAcist.

A Tempting Scene


Oh, I know. It doesn't look like much. It's just a couple of comfy chairs and a little table. There were quite a few just like these at the Herman and Kate Kaiser library.

I was in there the other day. It's quite a nice facility with a pleasant atmosphere and plentiful comfortable furniture. I recommend it highly.

There are not many aspects of city government that I really like, but IN GENERAL, I think the Tulsa City-County library folks do a pretty good job. My family and I are heavy library users and I don't really mind paying taxes for the sake of the library system (up to a point, of course). You can debate whether or not libraries are a proper function of government, and, if so, at what level of government they should be dealt with, but it's kind of hard for me to get worked up over taxes for the library system.

I really liked Kaiser. The cookbook section was genuinely awesome. You can browse the cookbooks throughout the Tulsa library system online, of course, but it's hard to get a real sense of, "Hey, this looks like it might be interesting" from just looking at the very brief online descriptions.

And I really, really found myself wishing I had a chessboard and an opponent. A couple o' glasses o' iced tea, and we'd have been all set...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Borrowed Morality


Welcome, atheist readers!

Wow.

You know, most of the time, my little blog averages about sixteen hits a day. Recently, it spiked to about thirty-five readers a day for a few days, principally as a result of a couple of links from a blogospheric friend of mine.

But you people--you people take the cake, I must admit. At time of writing, I was up to 49 hits today, far and away the most this blog has ever had. And I have you to thank for it.

Well, like I say, welcome. Even to the people that think I'm a "loathsome person." I don't take offense.

'Cause, as I've noted elsewhere already today, who cares what an accidentally-animated bag of protoplasm thinks?
I was googling on a tangentially-related subject, and almost accidentally came up with the post from which this material comes. Emphasis is mine:
When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God has truth—it stands or falls with faith in God.
In this quotation, many of my readers will immediately detect the echo of Van Til, or Bahnsen, or some other related apologist infused with “worldview,” or presuppositional thinking. Such a guess comes close in content, but misses widely. The surprise: this quotation flows candidly—and insightfully!—from arch-atheist Friedrich Nietzsche. This is not, of course, to say that Van Til derived his ideas from reading Nietzsche—highly unlikely. The point—completely lost on modern atheists—is that when you strike down Christianity, Christian morality necessarily goes with it. Nietzsche candidly professed this, as did his earlier French counterpart Marquis de Sade: no God, no moral imperatives; no “thou shalt,” and no “thou shalt not.” Only, “I will.”

But modern atheists have not only ignored this logical conclusion, they have actually attempted to attack Christianity in the name of Christian morality, calling the Christian God cruel, bloodthirsty, racist, sadomasochistic, etc. Richard Dawkins’ now famous book begins an early chapter with such accusations and much more. Whence the moral outrage?
Time and again, I have pointed out that atheism has no morality, not unless you want to call the law of the jungle "morality," only to have people say that they know atheists who are very moral people.

They miss the point. It is not that atheists necessarily act immorally. Many don't. The point is that an atheistic worldview simply cannot intellectually justify any sort of morality. In an atheistic universe, you arrived here completely by accident, via an unthinking, uncaring process that results in a progressively more complex arrangement of biological matter (said process utterly violating the second law of thermodynamics in the process, by the way, but that is a mere side-issue as far as this post is concerned) that has no purpose whatsoever. You do not matter to the cold, uncaring universe that accidentally produced you. You winked into existence and in less than a hundred years, you will wink out of existence. What happens to your progeny will be of no concern to you, for you will not exist to care about them. What you do to yourself and to others matters to no one that has ever existed and will not matter to you after you have vanished from this earth. The only thing with which you can possibly have any concern is your own life, and, there being utterly no eternal purpose for your life, your concern has to be limited, in the rawest terms, to what you can get out of this life.

In short: a logical application of "atheist morality" dictates that you do whatever you can to make your own life more enjoyable to you, provided only that you can get away with it. All pretensions to the contrary are logical nonsense, as Nietzsche pointed out. Atheists with "morals" have borrowed them from a theistic worldview, and they either lack the integrity to admit it, or they don't have the intellectual candlepower to understand it, or they have simply not cared to consider the logical implications of their worldview.

Monday, September 21, 2009

An Eleventh Quote from The Truth War

Actually, from the appendix, part of which is reprinted from an earlier book, Reckless Faith:
...some people...spurn the use of commentaries and similar resources in their Bible study, as if their own uninformed first impression is just as good as careful study using reference tools. It is becoming more and more common all the time to hear people say, "I don't read commentaries and books about the Bible. I limit my study to the Bible itself." That may sound very pious, but is it? Isn't it actually presumptuous? Are the written legacies of godly men of no value to us? Can someone who ignores study aids understand the Bible just as well as someone who is familiar with the scholarship of other godly teachers and pastors?

One textbook on hermeneutics answers the question this way:
Suppose we select a list of words from Isaiah and ask a man who claims he can bypass the godly learning of Christian scholarship if he can out of his own soul or prayer give their meaning or significance: Tyre, Zidon, Chittim, Sihor, Moab, Mahershalahashbas, Calno, Carchemish, Hamath, Aiath, Migron, Michmash, Geba, Anathoth, Laish, Nob, and Gallim. He will find the only light he can get on these words is from a commentary or a Bible dictionary.
Good answer. It reveals the utter folly of thinking that objective study is unnecessary. The person who is not a diligent student cannot be an accurate interpreter of God's Word.
Personally, I am pretty well convinced that the majority of modern North American Christians have never even seen a commentary, let alone cracked one open. In view of the enormous numbers of commentaries available, this may seem unbelievable, but I am convinced it is true. I have no idea who is buying all those commentaries. It is a certainty that I never hear anyone, save a preacher or an occasional Sunday School teacher, refer to one.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Loved This Quote

This was from Doug Giles (Yes, father of the now-famous Hannah Giles, co-exposer of ACORN's willingness to assist with illegal immigration and child prostitution):
. . . if confessing I’m a sinner, believing orthodox Christian doctrine, saluting our flag and that for which it stands, loving the Constitution, hating terrorists, being fond of guns, hunting, country and rock music while adoring freedom makes me a crazy ultra-conservative Christian lunatic then I guess I am one of those.
I really like that. Except for the part about hating terrorists. I mean, I'm not a hater. I don't hate terrorists. I just want to see them shot dead. It's nothing personal, I mean, I'm a sinner, too, but there are times when you have to just put someone down because they're, well, running around killing innocent people, you know?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Tenth Quote from The Truth War

Evangelical churchgoers desperately want their churches to stay on the leading edge of whatever is currently in vogue in the evangelical community. For a while, any church that wanted to be in fashion had to sponsor seminars on how to pray the prayer of Jabez. But woe to the church that was still doing Jabez when The Purpose-Driven Life took center stage. By then, any church that wanted to retain its standing and credibility in the evangelical movement had better be doing "Forty Days of Purpose."
One of my persistent complaints about the modern evangelical church--Southern Baptists by no means excluded--is that they are perpetually vulnerable to the latest fad that promises REAL, GENUINE REVIVAL! RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW!

You tell 'em that Church X has baptized umpteen bajillion people in the last six months using Method Y, and they are by golly willing to jump all over Method Y.

They never bother to look into it enough to find out that Church X doesn't see but a handful of that umpteen bajillion return to church after being baptized.

Drives me nuts to think about it. We spend lots and lots of time on
video
and hardly any on anything resembling serious doctrinal training.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Ninth Quote from The Truth War

How many well-known evangelical leaders do we see squander wonderful opportunities to make the truth clear and plain when they are handed a microphone by the secular media? They often balk or simply give the wrong answer when put on the spot by questions about whether Christ is really the only way to heaven.
So do a lot of in-the-pews Christians. And just about every Emergent that I have ever dealt with. Not all. But almost all.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Eighth Quote from The Truth War

We sometimes tend to think of the early church as pristine, pure, and untroubled by serious error. The truth is, it wasn't that way at all.
The good doctor ain't kiddin'.

I recently engaged in a fairly lengthy discussion with a fellow who repeatedly tried to prove his point from the practice of the early church. My response to that, in part, was that I didn't think the practice of the early church was authoritative. The church, after all, hadn't even seen the canon close before falling into serious error. You can see that just from 1 Corinthians and Revelation. Why on earth anyone would think their practice authoritative for our faith and practice quite escapes me. The one reliable guide is Holy Writ.

I mean, one of the early church authorities he cited had actually castrated himself, thinking that he was following the injunction to cut your hand off if it causes you to sin. That kind of thinking is your guide to faith and practice?

The reality is that the early church rapidly fell into error. The church is always prone to error. But God isn't, and neither is what He has said. It is our task to understand and apply what He has said, not to canonize the practice of fallible, albeit earlier, human beings.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Seventh Quote from The Truth War

...the Emerging postmodernists have blurred the line between certainty and omniscience. They seem to presume that if we cannot know everything perfectly, we really cannot know anything with any degree of certainty.

[multiple-chapter snip]

Of course, such a denial of all certainty has nothing to do with true humility. It is actually an arrogant form of unbelief, rooted in an impudent refusal to acknowledge that God has been sufficiently clear in His self-revelation to His creatures. It is actually a blasphemous form of arrogance, and when it governs even how someone handles the Word of God, it becomes yet another expression of evil rebellion against Christ's authority.
This has been my experience with most Emergents. Quite a lot of them will not admit that they know anything for sure, at least anything spiritual, and it gradually dawned on me that when they use the word "know," they employ a double standard: when they want to deny that you can, for example, know from Scripture that activity "A" is sinful, "know" means to know as God knows, that is, omnisciently, but when it comes to such things as Do they know how to drive, perfectly ordinary knowing-in-the-ordinary-human-way-of-knowing is just fine. They can read the directions on a box of brownie mix and know how to make brownies, but they cannot read the Bible and know that it says that "A" is sinful. It is an absolutely classic case of heads-I-win-tails-you-lose.

Makes the li'l boogers aggravating as the dickens to deal with.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Sixth Quote from The Truth War

Doubt and skepticism have been canonized as a form of humility.
Mercy. Have they ever. People tell you, with as close to a straight face as they possess, that they don't really know anything for certain, and they think this means that they're humble.

All too often what it really means is that they're pridefully engaged in a contest to prove that they're humbler-than-thou.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Fifth Quote from The Truth War

So what is truth?

Here is a simple definition drawn from what the Bible teaches: truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: truth is the self-expression of God. That is the biblical meaning of truth, and it is the definition I employ throughout this book. Because the definition of truth flows from God, truth is theological.

Truth is also ontological--which is a fancy way of saying it is the way things really are. Reality is what it is because God declared it so and made it so. Therefore God is the author, source, determiner, governor, arbiter, ultimate standard, and final judge of all truth.
You would not--I say again, NOT--believe the discussions I've had with people over statements as simple as, "A statement is true if it corresponds with reality." People get livid about that. They want to be able to say that their ideas are true even if they don't actually happen to correspond to reality.

You see this in politics, too. Conservatives--Burkean conservatives, Kirkan conservatives, Buchanan conservatives--refer to people like this as ideologues. They are people so committed to the ideas of--for example--single-payer health-care, free trade (careful; I am not referring to free markets here), a green economy, a controlled economy, nation-building, etc., that the plain fact that these all have terrible track records simply has no impact on their thinking. They want so badly to believe that the idea is okay, it's only proper implementation that has been lacking, that they will believe obvious falsehood and will take great offense at anyone having the temerity to point out that reality does not confirm their opinions.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Faint Glimmer of Sense

Not that I expect that it proceeded from a real understanding of what is going on, but I was still gratified to see this:
U.S. to Impose Tariff on Tires From China
Oh, I know. You've been taught that tariffs are protectionism, and protectionism is evil.

It also happens to be one of the principle means by which economic empires are built, jobs--jobs worth having, as opposed to service jobs--are created, and real wages made to rise.

Real wages--adjusted for inflation--have been steadily declining since this country decided to go the "free trade" route. Seeing some move, almost any move, away from that policy is music to my ears.

Oh, but--oooooh! The article said we risked
...angering the nation's second-largest trading partner.
So (badword) what? China protects her own markets already. If anyone's retaliating in this scenario, it's us.

Ticks me off every time I think about it. Chinese workers are notoriously badly paid (though that pay is rising), safety is not a concern, pollution is not a concern, etc., and when U.S. firms have a hard time competing with companies that have little or nothing to worry about in terms of worker pay, worker safety, pollution, and so forth, and seek a protective tariff, we get all huffy and tell them to get "competitive." They get "competitive," alright; they move their manufacturing overseas. It's insane.

Tariffs, friends, were the principle means by which the U.S. government was financed right up 'til the time of the first World War, and remained important up 'til the seventies. Are you blind to the fact that this was the period of time during which the United States became the world's foremost economic power? Tariffs are a perfectly legitimate means of financing a government, every bit as legitimate as the hideous income tax, and they have a far better track record. They made an economic colossus out of Great Britain (which they then lost when they went the free trade route), they made an economic colossus out of the United States (which is suffering greatly by having gone the free trade route), and they brought Japan back from the economic death of World War II.

Admittedly, tariffs are not without their flaws. Even better would be enacting the Fair Tax, which, of course, has a very similar effect to tariffs in one way, that is, it creates an enormous tax advantage to manufacturing in this country.

If you're interested in more on the subject, read Pat Buchanan's The Great Betrayal and The Fair Tax Book and its sequel.

A Fourth Quote from The Truth War

...historically and collectively, Christians have always been in full agreement that whatever is true--whatever is objectively and ontologically true--is true whether any given individual understands it, likes, it, or receives it as truth. In other words, because reality is created and truth is defined by God, what is really true is true for everyone, regardless of anyone's personal perspective or individual preferences.
I have mentioned before that I have actually encountered an educated man, a doctoral candidate at Princeton (at the time; he may have his Th.D by now) who promoted the idea that truth is defined in community, that is, what is "true" for one community may not be "true" in another. Be careful here: he was not saying that what "works" in one community might not "work" in another; he was striking at the idea of objective truth itself.

Mercy. I have a lot of respect for the genuinely well-educated, but folks like that don't make it easy.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pat Buchanan Echoes My Own Sense of the Situation

He saith, emphasis mine:
We seem not only to disagree with each other more than ever, but to have come almost to detest one another. Politically, culturally, racially, we seem ever ready to go for each others' throats.

One half of America sees abortion as the annual slaughter of a million unborn. The other half regards the right-to-life movement as tyrannical and sexist.

Proponents of gay marriage see its adversaries as homophobic bigots. Opponents see its champions as seeking to elevate unnatural and immoral relationships to the sacred state of traditional marriage.

The question invites itself. In what sense are we one nation and one people anymore? For what is a nation if not a people of a common ancestry, faith, culture and language, who worship the same God, revere the same heroes, cherish the same history, celebrate the same holidays and share the same music, poetry, art and literature?

Yet, today, Mexican-Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a skirmish in a French-Mexican war about which most Americans know nothing, which took place the same year as two of the bloodiest battles of our own Civil War: Antietam and Fredericksburg.

Christmas and Easter, the great holidays of Christendom, once united Americans in joy. Now we fight over whether they should even be mentioned, let alone celebrated, in our public schools.
There's much more; I recommend reading the whole column, as well as his excellent Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed are Tearing America Apart.

To my mind, for a nation to remain to united, to remain a nation, there has to be something that most people within it hold in common. The United States used to have that. As John Jay wrote in Federalist No. 2, we were, emphasis mine:
...one united people--a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs...
I have seen people from widely disparate backgrounds come together and function beautifully, pulling together in perfect harmony, all confessing one another to be brothers of a sort. Those who haven't experienced it will laugh to hear it, but that was my experience of the United States Marine Corps. People from all racial and economic backgrounds came together, and they worked together beautifully, in my opinion, because they all had something in common, a powerful idea, the idea of the United States as a place where liberty was held in high esteem.

I am firmly convinced to this minute that, as diverse as this country is, it is yet possible for it to be united by a powerful idea. Having the same ancestors and the same customs is not as important as having the same important idea. And there are powerful ideas available: the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the idea of God-given unalienable rights. But the church in this country has, for the most part, forgotten how to do apologetics and evangelism, we have failed to make the case for man's rights having their origin in the will of God, and our failure in this is likely to usher in a decades-long period where the idea of rights given by God, rights not granted by man and therefore not legitimately denied by man, is on the decline.

I'm very much afraid that the United States, if it survives the next few decades at all, will be quite unrecognizable.
For a somewhat different take on Mr. Buchanan's column, see this post over at Oklahoma Lefty

A Third Quote from The Truth War

Scripture says, for example, that the cardinal truths concerning God, His power, His glory, and His righteousness are naturally known to all people through creation and conscience (Romans 1:19-20; 2:14-16). That truth is adequately clear and sufficient to leave the entire human race "without excuse" (Romans 1:20). All those who are condemned in the final judgment will be held responsible for rejecting whatever truth was available to them. The fact that a just and righteous God holds both unbelievers and believers alike responsible for obedience to His revelation is irrefutable proof that He has made the truth sufficiently clear for us. To claim that the Bible is not sufficiently clear is to assault God's own wisdom and integrity.
In short, you can't really claim that God inspired Scripture, that He used men as men use pens, and claim that it's not sufficiently clear without saying that you think God is stupid or a trickster.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Second Quote from The Truth War

...every attempt to define truth in nonbiblical terms has ultimately failed. That is because God is the source of all that exists (Romans 11:36). He alone defines and delimits what is true. He is also the ultimate revealer of all truth.

[snip]

All truth therefore starts with what is true of God: who He is, what His mind knows, what His holiness entails, what His will approves, and so on. In other words, all truth is determined and properly explained by the being of God. Therefore, every notion of His nonexistence is by definition untrue. That is precisely what the Bible teaches: "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).

[snip}

...once someone denies God, logical consistency will ultimately force that person to deny all truth. A denial that God exists instantly removes the whole justification for any kind of knowledge.
My oldest son started serious reading when he was fifteen. It was about that time that I warned him that he would never have more opportunity to read than he would have over the next several years. He started off with Institutes of the Christian Religion and over the years, I kid thee not, he has read it all--or at least so much philosophy and theology that it would, I guarantee, make your head spin just to see his bookshelf.

I have no doubt--none--that he's read more philosophy than the majority of people who've majored in that subject.

So, yes, he's read all the major philosophers in considerable depth--and you know what? After all of that, his conclusion is that most of it is:
video
People are all over the place. They cannot agree on what is and isn't real and if--let alone how--someone can know it. You either begin with God and wind up with a coherent system of thought, or you begin with man, and intellectual anarchy reigns.