Fair Enough

“Listen,” Louie says. “You’re never gonna get the same things as other people. It’s never gonna be equal. It’s not gonna happen ever in your life, so you must learn that now, OK? The only time you should look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have . . . as much as them.”

So God Gave Them Up

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As you begin reading Paul’s letter to the house churches in Rome you clearly see Paul’s heart for the church and for the Kingdom of God now in place in this most cosmopolitan of cities:

 “This letter comes to all in Rome who love God, all who are called to be his holy people. Grace and peace to you from God our father, and King Jesus, the Lord.”

 Paul’s letter is tactful, spirited, full of information and pastoral.  He is excited and “not ashamed about the gospel” even though many outside the church are not eager to receive Good News of the Kingdom of God. Paul knew that Rome was the dominion of the “rulers of this age.”

 Paul clearly understood that by calling Jesus “King Jesus, the Lord,” that he was promoting another ruler above the Emperor.  This was seditious and dangerous for Paul.  But Paul knew the power of the Gospel.  Paul knew what God’s Good News had done in his own life and in the lives of others. He knew the cost of God’s mercy.

 Prior to Paul’s letter, Rome had gone through sweeping changes.  Pagan Rome didn’t much care for Jews and their purifying religious rituals.  They also didn’t very much care for the new “religion” in town, Christianity, which some of the Jews embraced.  Emperor Claudius had the Jews expelled from Rome.  The Jewish Christians left behind Gentile house churches. Some believe that these churches in Rome began with Gentile believers who were converted during Pentecost, while they were in Jerusalem.

 After Claudius died in AD 54 Nero became Emperor.  Under a new Emperor the Jews and with them the Jewish believers returned to Rome. It is then that Paul writes his letter, circa AD 58, describing the sweeping changes brought about by the Kingdom of God on earth.  He writes about God’s justification of all those who believe that God would keep His Covenant promise. That promise was completely fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

 Paul was deeply concerned for Christ’s church at Rome.  His “masterpiece” letter hopes to resolve conflicts between Gentile believers and Jews now returning to Rome. And, more importantly, he writes to give the church an overarching vision of God’s Covenant plan to save the world from itself.

 As you read Romans you sense that the church and the world system at that time are not so different from that of our world and our own times. 

 At the beginning of the letter Paul writes that he was under obligation to barbarians as well as to Greeks, that he was  obliged to the uncultured and the cultured. He was obliged to speak the Gospel to the wise and to the foolish.   These kinds of people are with us today, are they not?

 Paul begins God’s creation salvation story with the problem:  man’s brokenness and man’s unwillingness to turn from his sin.  To make the point, within the first paragraphs of his letter the phrase “So God gave them up” occurs three times:

 “So God gave them up to uncleaness in the desires of their hearts, with the result that they dishonored their bodies among themselves.  They swapped God’s truth for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed for ever, Amen.

So God gave them up to shameful desires.  Even the women, you see swapped natural sexual practice for unnatural; and men, too, abandoned natural sexual relations with women, and were inflamed with their lust for one another.  Men performed shameless acts with men, and received in themselves the appropriate repayment for their mistaken ways.

Moreover, just as they did not see fit to hold on to knowledge of God, God gave them up to an unfit mind, so that they would behave inappropriately.”

 Keep in mind that Paul knew the Jewish canon.  He knew about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah – God’s righteous anger poured out on the sexual perversion within those cities. Those cities had been warned.  Paul was again warning the new Christians in pagan Rome about God’s Righteousness and Justice and man’s hardheartedness. Is not homosexuality worshipping the creature rather than the Creator? But Paul was revealing a way out ~ a path made straight by the One Jew who fulfilled all of God’s desires for His rebellious people ~ Jesus.

 And lest we read Paul’s words and become smug and judge others keep in mind Paul’s words in his letter to the Corinthians:  “Some of you were once like that.”

 “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people–none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God

Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (I Cor 6:9-11)

 I don’t have to tell you that in our time the main stream media pours out filth and degeneration into our homes.  Our lives are constantly bombarded with TV programs, movies and advertisements that use sex or by political party advocates who call homosexuality a “right.”  Yet, a “right” does confer righteousness to the owner, only license and worse, in the case of homosexuality, licentiousness.

 The perversion and antinomianism now seems even more pervasive in our age than in Paul’s because of the ever-present media.  What can Christians do to heed Paul’s words today in our pagan world? It begins with worship.  So God will give them up – the people of this age – who follow in the footsteps of the pagan Romans but for us who believe we can give up to God what Paul writes later in Romans:

 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”

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Here is some helpful info if you choose to walk away from those chains:

http://www.narth.com/

NARTH 2012 Press Conference & Reparative Therapy

http://voices-of-change.org/

The Church and Gender

   From my perspective the Christian Church has helped fuel gender confusion by placing added emphasis or burdens on others regarding the masculine and the feminine. 

 Recall the early Christian Churches of Jerusalem and Galatia which demanded that new Christians follow the strict tradition “soaked” Law along with the teachings of Jesus?  Today’s church in similar fashion, is seeking to subjugate men and women to “Biblically” masculine or feminine stereotypes, demanding that their romantic notions of what they consider masculine and feminine become de facto behavior for all Christians.

 As a former student of Moody Bible Institute and during the course of a lifetime I have read through the Bible several times and many, many passages several times over.    I have to say that I have never, ever found any description of Biblical manhood or womanhood.  What is written are what characteristics a man likes about a woman (see Song of Solomon and Proverbs 31) and what a woman likes about a man (see Song of Solomon).  None of these “characteristics” ~ physical and pragmatic – carry the moral weight of the Ten Commandments or of the New Commandment that Jesus gave us to “Love one another.” These “characteristics” should never be used to propagate more sons and daughters of the “Biblically masculine and feminine.”

 Now, when a Church or group puts the word “Biblical” in front of its messaging it is inferring that this is what a Christian must do or be. These “characteristics” should never be taught as Biblical mandates for manhood or womanhood. 

 As the Apostle Paul noted about food offered to idols (I Cor. 8), there are some who can eat such food and have no issue with their conscience.  Others must refuse because of their conscience. He voiced concern about those with maturity and freedom being a stumbling block to the weak in their eating of food offered to idols.  But I believe that it is the Church with regard to its “genderization of males and females” that has become a stumbling block for the weak.  Throughout history the Christian church has sought to enforce its will onto Christians.  This was certainly true before the reformation and it is still true with the “free” church’s Libertarian Paternalism that nudges people into making decisions the church feels are best for them, including gender roles.  But the church does not decide what our Spirit-led conscience tells us to do.  Paul learned that lesson the hard way.  We as Christians have the freedom to decide our masculinity and femininity before God as the Spirit speaks to our conscience.

 The closest we come to a description of “Biblical manhood and womanhood” in the Bible is within the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus (Eph. 5). It is there that he instructs Christians as to how married men and women should relate to each other. 

 Regarding these relational or family matters he bids husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands.  Biblical manhood and womanhood as seen here is relating to the ‘other’ ~ wife or husband ~ with love and respect. Biblical manhood and womanhood are as relational as simply loving your neighbor as you love yourself.  Why create extra yokes called “Biblical Masculine and feminine” to be placed on people’s necks?

 Now it is common knowledge that people do not like ambiguity. We demand black and white.  We demand inerrancy.  We demand “Biblically masculine and feminine” males and females.  Our minds are wired to alert us to any differences to a norm.  We seek to reconcile things as quickly as possible.  Ambiguity comes off as a potential threat to our understanding of how life should be. As related to gender we tend to overemphasize male and female “roles” in order to reduce our anxiety over ambiguity.  I believe that some of this fear has grown out the Christian Fundamentalist movement that was raised up in the early twentieth century against the threat of Liberal theologian’s textual infractions.  The Conservative Christian world sought to tighten its reins on what is and isn’t “Biblical.”  But it has also put a noose around each gender. 

 Yet, there is no gender typecasting in Scripture.  And, more importantly, the message of the Gospel offers everyone freedom from fear.  This includes freedom from the fear of the ambiguous and the unknown, the fear of the future and the fear of the not being able to follow the letter of the Law and therefore deserving punishment.

 In the past I have attended para-church seminars based on gender “issues.”  There seminar leaders urged attendees to pray asking God for the “True masculine and the “True Feminine.”  These prayers, of course, will not be answered because there is no such thing. The best a man or woman can ever become is to be Spirit-filled.  And the best how-to books to become Spirit-filled are the Bible and My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Forget the OTC self-help books and seminars on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  You would be wasting your time and money.  Worse, you would most likely seek to adapt to someone else’s notion of what it is to be a man or a woman. Run from this nonsense.

 The current falderal about gender~- “Biblical manhood and womanhood”~- are gooey romantic notions mandated as Biblical “righteousness.” Let’s not go there.  Let’s be free to be men and women without the yoke of the man-made gender laws placed on our necks. And then, perhaps, homosexuals will then feel free to come home.

 I have written about this before:  What is Biblical About it?

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I ask the homosexual community:  What happened to friendship between one man and another?  And, between one woman and another?  And, why take something good like friendship and debase and pervert it into something unnatural and sexualized? And why create an emotional codependency when a good friendship creates a safe environment for sharing life’s joys and hardships?

No Way But Up

What’s at the core of America’s problems today? Is it partisan politics or is there a greater rift in the American people?

 Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Soviet and Russian novelist, dramatist, and historian during his commencement address delivered at Harvard University, June 8, 1978, gave us his diagnosis.  His speech is a stinging indictment of the West –  its materialism, its enabling of the abuse of individual freedom, its self-serving inbred media and its disavowal of its spiritual roots:

 However, in early democracies, as in the American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God’s creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. … State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic. The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer.

 And…

“If humanism were right in declaring that man is born only to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot be unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one’s life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President’s performance be reduced to the question how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism.” (emphasis mine)

And…

“It would be retrogression to attach oneself today to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Social dogmatism leaves us completely helpless in front of the trials of our times. Even if we are spared destruction by war, our lives will have to change if we want to save life from self-destruction. We cannot avoid revising the fundamental definitions of human life and human society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that man’s life and society’s activities have to be determined by material expansion in the first place? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our spiritual integrity?”

Take a look at what drives you and perhaps you will see why America is no longer a nation under God, no longer a nation of civil courage, of moral decency.  Perhaps you will see why people would vote for a president who uses class warfare rhetoric to promote the sands of material security as foundational to life and not the rock of spiritual fortitude.

We seem to forget…

We seem to forget…

 What goes around does come around.

 To become an American is to be given a gift of liberty.  Use the gift wisely. There are many today who have been born American and don’t realize what they have. There are many today who do not have Truth to guide their lives.  They have only feelings and sincerity as their moral guides.

 As a citizen of the United States you deserve nothing more than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Anything else becomes a demand that grows government and government in turn robs people of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A large government places people under the tyranny of its control first by controlling those you want controlled (unions, environmentalists, animal rights groups, etc. want others to be controlled) and then by controlling you.  Government in the “demand” process becomes a slave owner.  The Democrat party platform is the best example of a group seeking large government to corral people for “their own good.”

Voting for a Democrat means that you support the party platform:  abortion, casinos and gambling as revenue streams, higher taxes (you are the direct revenue stream for political favoritism ala Obama style politics), less return on your money, less control of your life, more government intrusion, government-run health care, European bailouts and bankrupt states (Greece, California, Illinois, etc.), political cronyism ala Chicago style politics, the Greek riots, government controlling others (while pretending that government will never control you), laziness, handouts, the perversion of marriage, more joblessness, more food stamps doled out, more crap at your expense. If you vote for a Democrat you deserve all the consequences. You still need to be spoon fed.

 We avoid pain, suffering and difficulty at all costs even though to overcome these onerous things make us feel alive and gives us character.  No amount of material possessions owned can do the same for us.

 You can’t take it with you and even though class warfare proponents such as Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and yes, Barack Obama, say that you can have it all at another’s expense.

 “A good name is more desirable than great riches.  A good name should be esteemed more than silver and gold.”  (The Book of Proverbs)

 A generous man will himself be blessed. It is better to give than to receive. (Jesus)

 “A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.”  (The Book of Proverbs) How many kids spend their time in pursuit of a useless degree and find out they cannot support either themselves or give to others who are needy.  This is not government’s fault.  It is their doing, is it not? (see Occupy Wall Street protestors).  You reap what you sow and what you don’t sow.

You cannot give what you do not have.  Making others give what they have does not fulfill the requirement of you giving to others even if you call it you call it a fancy name – wealth redistribution (“social gospel” for the lazy)

 Truth will come to you during your life.  Act on it while you can.

 Self-pity is a drag on your soul.  Unload it at the next trash bin.

 Holding a grudge against someone will destroy the person holding the grudge.  Destroy it before it destroys you – forgive.

 We are forgiven as we forgive others (Jesus).

 “There is a path which seems right to a man but the end thereof is the way of death.” (The Book of Proverbs)

 “The fool says to himself “There is no God.”” (The book of Psalms)

 “The fear of the Lord leads to life.”  (The Book of Proverbs)

 “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”  (The Book of Proverbs)

              “So God created man in His own image…male and female He created them…God saw all that He made and it was very good.” (Genesis chapter 1)

(Note that homosexuality came after the fall of man and is a perversion of the good that had been made.  You should know that those who claim to be “Gay and Proud” will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, they will not return to the garden.)

 Life is short, especially for the aborted.

 Women’s rights do not include destruction of a fetus – a child.  Murderers, also, do not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (If you have had an abortion, repent and turn to seek God’s mercy.)

Women’s rights already include free contraception:  It is a woman’s right and freedom to keep her legs together and to say “No” to sex at any time and at any place. Do be fooled by the Democrats desire to supply you with so-called “free” contraception. And, the Democrats are more concerned with population control and controlling who is born (quality of life) and how many people are born (they don’t want the planet overrun with people who will use up its natural resources.)

 In a God-breathed marriage women desire love, men desire respect.

We will all give an account of our lives before our Creator.  There is a heaven and there is a hell.  Heaven is to be within the dancing embrace of the Trinity throughout eternity.  Hell is to be alone forever, constantly thirsty for the living water, constantly in agony as you remember your life.

 Like it or not you have free will.  Blaming God for your life only makes you a bad rendition of a human.  Rejecting your personal responsibility shows your self-indulgent pride. Sadly, there are many who wash their hands absolving themselves of responsibility.  They deflect accountability by asking “What is truth?”

 “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.”  (The Book of Proverbs)

 The Bible contains the words of God and the factual history of Jesus: 

But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (The Gospel of John)

Enter In His Gates

The other day I walked as usual during my lunch hour. Working in a downtown Chicago office affords many interesting paths for my walking and praying. That day I chose Millenium Park, thankful for some open space and towering blue sky.

 Walking and praying are complimentary actions for me. They are complimentary in that praying to advance the Kingdom of God is coupled to my physical action of going forward, of not being static or complacent. Walking increases my heart rate, my breathing also becomes faster and deeper.  As I walk every breath then becomes a prayer uttered out of the rhythm of my heart, mind, body and soul. Beyond this, walking and praying are often the only actions I can take when I am told to wait on the Lord.

 That day, walking and praying, I lifted up the needs of others and my own very pressing needs. As I did so I clearly heard these words from the Holy Spirit:

 “Enter in His gates with Thanksgiving

And into His courts with praise.”

 In that moment I understood that God was acknowledging my intercessions and supplications. I felt a child-like pleasure in His notice of me. God was calling me into his presence.

 In a sermon by C.S. Lewis written down in a book by the same name, The Weight of Glory, this moment was captured for me:

 “For glory means a good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.

Perhaps it seems rather crude to describe glory as the fact of being “noticed” by God. But this is almost the language of the New Testament.  St. Paul promises to those who love God not, as we should expect, that they will know Him, but that they will be known by Him. (1 Cor. 8:3).”

 That day, not only was God acknowledging my words but His invitation to “Enter in His courts…” revealed that He wanted the object of His love, me, to be in His presence. My giving God praise and thanksgiving would realign my objectivity so that one day I would be in position to know the pleasure of the inferior in His words to me: “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

 “Apparently”, as C.S. Lewis also wrote in Weight, “what I had mistaken for humility had, all these years prevented me from understanding what is in fact the humblest, the most childlike, the most creaturely of pleasures-nay, the specific pleasure of the inferior: a beast before men, a child before its father, a pupil before his teacher, a creature before its Creator.”

 Lewis, again in the same book, also wrote that “Glory, as Christianity teaches me to hope for it, turns out to satisfy my original desire (the specific desire of the inferior) and indeed to reveal an element in that desire which I had not noticed. By ceasing for a moment to consider my own wants I have begun to learn better what I really wanted.”

 A New Year is upon us. I will cross the threshold of this New Year and “Enter in His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.” I do so as an adopted child anxious to drink joy from the fountains of joy.

 

Unwrapping Up

This past year has been an incredibly agonizing one for me due to unexpected family events and the subsequent heartrending trauma that accompanies such a trajectory.  At the same time, though, I’ve become increasingly aware of a fundamental shift going on in my own nature – the shedding of my flimsy oft pretentious human nature to reveal Substantial Reality.  The nexus between these two versions of my person has been continued prayer for others and a regular partaking of the Eucharist.

 The whole divestment process has not been easy. In fact, it has been acutely painful, its unpleasantness much like what Eustace described to Edmund in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawntreader.  Here Eustace relates his dragon skin being torn off by Aslan.

 “The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. but the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don’t know if he said any words out loud or not.

I was just going to say that I couldn’t undress because I hadn’t any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that’s what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that’s all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I’ll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.

Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, however many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.

Then the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

The very first tear he made was do deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.

Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there I was as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. You’d think me simply phoney if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they’ve no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian’s, but I was so glad to see them.

After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me – (with his paws?) – Well, I don’t exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes – the same I’ve got on now, as a matter of fact. and then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream.”

Here’s what is being peeled away from me (not for the queasy!):

 – A sentimentality of the kind that keeps my soul inbred, subservient to its self-rationalizing self-pity.

 – The desire to control a situation or someone to obtain a pleasant outcome, to soften reality’s blow and effectively deny its painful truth. 

 – Pretense.

 – The need to look good so as to impress others with my abilities, the need to compete for another’s attention hoping to gain the pride of place.

 – The impulse to take action when waiting would be the most prudent – not easy, but prudent.

– The lack of acceptance at face-value of knowledge presented as feminine – intuitive, passive, receptive.

 – The lack of acceptance of wisdom as a gift from God and therefore not derived as a human accomplishment.

The list, the shedding, goes on…

 As this painful process continues I am beginning to see my Real self emerging. This in turn has invoked in me a need to return to my baptismal vows and to those baptismal waters that I at one time had thought only help serve to moisten and seal the earnest of one’s inheritance in Christ.  Little attention did I pay to my rapidly developing dragon skin. 

 Today, by fire and trial and Aslan’s claws, I am being freed of the hardened outer layer of self-protection and I am submersing myself in the waters of my baptism.  In doing so, I, the vulnerable suppliant I, has become alive to the REAL – the “perfectly delicious” Real.

 This peeling away is all about knowing Christ and the fellowship of His sufferings. That is True Reality.

Held

tête-à-tête

Though I am a political and social conservative with a strong libertarian streak I often read the opposition’s pabulum in order to discern whether I am holding on to what is good.  This deliberate questioning of my conservatism has helped me to further understand my own ideology and has helped put into contrast the false thinking that is prevalent today, most notably found in liberalism, progressivism and atheism.

 It should be noted here that I came to my understanding of my conservatism/libertarianism through my own reading (early on, Milton and Rose Friedman’s book Free to Choose) and by listening to programs such as Firing Line with the likes of William F. Buckley Jr..  My conservative ideology, as I told my attorney recently, is not the result of my viewership of FOX news. FOX News only highlights what I already know to be true and false.

An aside:  My attorney who is a Democrat once told me how he picks jurors for his accident injury trials:  The attorney asks perspective jurors if they watch FOX News or listen to Rush Limbaugh to determine if they are Republicans or Democrats. He pejoratively calls such Republicans “Rush Limbaugh Republicans”. The reason for his disdain of these Republicans:   he said that most Republicans believe in torte reform and ridding the courts of frivolous lawsuits.  My attorney won’t pick them to be a juror. They would likely vote against a substantial injury award. Ergo, my attorney wouldn’t win enough money for his client or himself (usually 40% take of the award compensation)

My attorney didn’t describe the Democrat jurors. He left me to believe that they were the opposite of Republicans with regard to willingness to make someone pay out.  Many attorneys are liberal Democrats (including their well-known lobbyists Obama, Eric Holder, Rahm Emmanuel, etc.). Many of these attorneys use frivolous lawsuits to make a living.  They are called the “ambulance chasers” (or, in Obama’s and Emmanuel’s case, the “crisis chasers”).

I let my attorney know that I did watch Fox News but that I didn’t listen to Rush Limbaugh, Jon Stewart or to Bill Maher. I told him I was my own conservative:   I related to him that I was a William F. Buckley Jr.-Milton Friedman-Neal Cavuto-Christian conservative. I wasn’t bought by what money I could weasel out of someone’s pocket. (BTW, as a Conservative I am not against accident lawsuits, only injustice.)

That aside, beyond my own research into political ideology, economics and morality, in school I also studied economics, finances, accounting and business among other related courses. These studies helped me see that free market enterprise and capitalism creates the most opportunities and the most wealth for everyone. And, that charity is both what you have to give (maybe a widow’s mite) and the desire to give.

 My belief in God came through my reading of the Bible and, specifically, the eyewitness accounts recorded therein. The historically factual account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as recorded in the Gospels was sufficient proof for me.

 I am currently reading two books:  essays by Christopher Hitchens in a book titled Arguably, copyright 2011, and The Thomas Sowell Reader, copyright 2011.

 Christopher Hitchens is a well-known left-winger and atheist, born in England and living in America.  He became an American citizen in 2007.  He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Slate and The Atlantic. His books include, among many, Thomas Jefferson: Author of America and God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

 I am reading Hitchens’ book even though I do not agree with his positions on most issues and most decidedly his atheism. His pronouncements against the fascism of Islam I do agree with.  I do like his breadth of knowledge in literature and his love of the English language. I enjoy his way of writing and his way of stating things. And, as I read I do make marginal notes wherever I disagree with his thinking. As a writer I continue to learn a lot about the art of essay writing from Hitchens.

 Here is a blurb about Hitchens’ book, ARGUABLY, from the Richard Dawkins Foundation website:

 The first new book of essays by Christopher Hitchens since 2004, ARGUABLY offers an indispensable key to understanding the passionate and skeptical spirit of one of our most dazzling writers, widely admired for the clarity of his style, a result of his disciplined and candid thinking. Topics range from ruminations on why Charles Dickens was among the best of writers and the worst of men to the haunting science fiction of J.G. Ballard; from the enduring legacies of Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell to the persistent agonies of anti-Semitism and jihad. Hitchens even looks at the recent financial crisis and argues for the enduring relevance of Karl Marx. The book forms a bridge between the two parallel enterprises of culture and politics. It reveals how politics justifies itself by culture, and how the latter prompts the former. In this fashion, ARGUABLY burnishes Christopher Hitchens’ credentials as-to quote Christopher Buckley-our “greatest living essayist in the English language.” (emphasis mine)

 Regarding this blurb, while I would certainly disagree with the relevance of Karl Marx as an answer to anything I would agree with what is said about Hitchens’ art. It is a product of one of the greatest living essayists in the English language.

 About Christopher Hitchen’s athesim, I believe that those who are most adamantly opposed to knowledge of God are often those who are the closest to the Truth, as was the case of another profound English writer and apologist, C.S. Lewis.  Lewis was an atheist turned agnostic turned believer.   Lewis’s writings are characterized by a lightly carried erudition, critical thinking, psychological insight, humor and sympathy. 

It is my prayer that Christopher Hitchens will someday soon come “kicking and screaming into the Kingdom of God” just as Lewis, a reluctant convert. (Update:  Hitchens died recently.)

 Christopher Hitchens currently has throat cancer. He has difficulty speaking and certainly cannot lecture.  From a lover of the  English language perspective, this throat business must give him great pain and a deep sense of loss. Pray for him.

 Turning to Thomas Sowell’s The Thomas Sowell Reader I find a treasure trove of wonderful essays and articles written by a well read economist, social theorist, political philosopher and conservative Black American. Sowell uses easy to understand commonsense language in his writings. Most would find this book accessible and informative. It is this simplicity which more than anything defines truth and true conservatism. Liberalism, much like in Hitchens’ writing, seeks to overwhelm the reader with its own great knowledge and pompous profundity. Not so with Thomas Sowell. His plain spoken and humble writing speaks louder than any hubris.

 Here are some excerpts from a chapter titled The Survival of the Left, from The Thomas Sowell Reader:

 Biologists explain how organisms adapt to their physical environment, but ideologues also adapt to their social environment.  The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.

The academic world is the natural habitat of half-baked ideas, except for those fields I which there are decisive tests, such as science, mathematics, engineering, medicine—and athletics. In all these fields, in their differing ways, there comes a time when you must either put up or shut up.  It should not be surprising that all other fields are notable exceptions to the complete domination of the left on campuses across the country

 You might think that the collapse of communism throughout Eastern Europe would be considered a decisive failure for Marxism, but academic Marxists in America are utterly undaunted.  Their paychecks and their tenure are unaffected.  Their theories continue to flourish in the classrooms and their journals continue to litter the library shelves.

 Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it..

 Nor is economic failure the worst of it.  The millions slaughtered by Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot for political reasons are an even grimmer reality…

 Academia is only one of the places where totally subjective criteria rule—and where leftists dominate.

 Sowell goes on to list these “places”:  foundations, museums, cultural institutions such as the Smithsonian, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities and taxpayer supported “public” TV and radio.

 These endowed and insulated institutions, often full of contempt for the values of American society and Western civilization, are not the only bastions of the left counter-culture. So are Hollywood and Broadway.  Although show biz faces the financial need to get an audience, the truth of what they portray is hardly crucial.  If they can make it punchy and sexy, then those who complain about historical inaccuracies and ideological bias can be dismissed as irrelevant pedants.

 Why are leftists able to crowd out other kinds of people from these places?  Because those who are willing to subject themselves to the test of reality, whether as a businessman in the marketplace or as surgeon in an operating room, have many other places to work and live.They do not need special sheltered niches in which to hide and to cherish their precious notions.

 Darwinian adaptation to environment applies not only to nature but also to society. Just as you don’t find eagles living in the ocean or fish living on mountain tops, so you don’t find leftists concentrated where ideas have to stand the test of performance. (emphasis mine)

I have to get back to my reading… Here’s Christopher Hitchens and William F. Buckley Jr. in conversation.

Logocentrism

Below are some excerpts from a brief article about education, books vs. TV, imagination, home schooling and preserving what’s good in a civilization.  The article provides a great prescription for a child’s education.   Two of my children were home schooled for several years, so I know from experience the author’s point of view.

The article begins with the author asking “Are you ever afraid that home schooling your kids will make them, um, oddballs?” As parents we asked ourselves the same question and we found the answer to be a resounding “No.”

 I have heard people tell me that children who are home schooled lack social interaction. That is absolute nonsense. What you do as a home schooler is to find other parents who are doing the same thing and then just let the kids relate. You go on field trips and do a lot of fun learning activities which include science, music, sports and drama.  And, there is plenty of support out there for anyone who wants to home school their child.

 From Touchstone Magazine:

 

Education Normal

Mark T. Mitchell on the Oddity of Giving Children a Moral Imagination

 

Will your kids be raised primarily on books or on television? To put it another way: Will your children be educated in a logocentric environment, where the written and spoken word is the primary conveyer of meaning, or will they ingest most of their information through electronically generated images?

Now, of course, emphasizing books over television is not the entire story, for books vary in quality and there are plenty of books that cultivate misshapen virtues and a cynical view of life. But I think it is safe to say that parents who make the effort to emphasize books as a way of life will generally be those who have been powerfully moved by books themselves. They have experienced the wonder and joy and goodness of certain books and will introduce these to their children even as one introduces a family member to a much-loved friend.

But setting the content of the books aside (for only a moment), those whose minds are shaped by an ongoing encounter with language will develop mental habits that include patience, perseverance, the ability to think abstractly, and an imagination that does not require the constant stimulation of external images. The imagination of the reader (guided by the author) creates the images, whereas the child raised on television merely imbibes what has already been fully rendered by the camera.

 More than Rules

There are two facets to educating a child well. The first is to recognize that education is not merely the accumulation of facts, but that it has an unavoidably moral aspect. A suitable education must do more, therefore, than simply teach facts, even moral facts. Education must seek to cultivate the moral imagination of the child, for reducing moral education to a list of rules is bound to fail…

But if our children are raised primarily on visual images, if they do not cultivate the mental disciplines necessary to access truth via language, then the Holy Scriptures will remain opaque, the creeds and confessions of faith will be meaningless recitations, and hymn lyrics will be merely pleasant-sounding rhymes to accompany occasionally pleasant-sounding music.

While the ultimate aim of education is to cultivate the souls of children toward godly virtue, a secondary but related end is the preservation of civilization

stewards of our civilization must possess well-cultivated language faculties capable of grasping complex and abstract ideas and concepts.

 Normal Children Needed

If a proper education is to accomplish or at least to seek to accomplish these tasks, then a normal child is one whose moral imagination is well formed, whose soul is oriented toward a love of logos and the Logos, and who knows and loves the best of his own civilization. Such a child will, perhaps unwittingly, become a steward of the good, the true, and the beautiful. In a world where normal is considered odd, such children are desperately needed.

Mark T. Mitchell teaches political theory at Patrick Henry College in Virginia. He is the co-founder of Front Porch Republic.
Read more: http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=22-07-014-v#ixzz1ZpTpK4sP