Perspectives on Race Relations

 

“…this country, despite its sins, also is a country for the last sixty years has truly transformed itself morally. And, Americans today are a different people in regard to all these issues [discrimination, oppression] …” Shelby Steele, How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country

 

Parallel Perspective

April 1968. I was sixteen when I heard of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. I read the Chicago newspapers and watched the local news.

In the days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in more than 130 cities, hundreds of thousands of black Americans let their anger and grief boil over into collective rage. In Chicago, more than 48 hours of rioting left 11 Chicagoans dead, 48 wounded by police gunfire, 90 policemen injured, and 2,150 people arrested. Some two miles of the commercial heart of Lawndale on West Madison were little more than charred rubble.

West Madison Street, 1968, Encyclopedia of Chicago

 

Chicago is my home. I have lived here during the 60 years of fundamental transformation that Shelby Steele describes in the epigraph. Prior to that tragic day in 1968, I was aware of strife in the country. The civil rights movement began during my childhood as did the Vietnam war. I watched the nightly news reports with my father. Both were covered.

In high school social studies class, I read Black Like Me and Cry, the Beloved Country. Civil War history was also taught. I was given excerpts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates to read (Essentially, Douglas, a Democrat, wanted states to be allowed chose slavery if they so desired. Lincoln, a Republican, wanted a nation without pockets of slavery. I would later learn that a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.) Later, in the 1980s, I read Stephen B. Oates’ Let The Trumpet Sound: The Life Of Martin Luther King, Jr. after the book came out. I wanted to gain insight into MLK’s life.

From my various readings I understood why Martin Luther King and black Americans were protesting. I also understood, from my visits with my grandparents, that there was something in the human heart that was prejudicial and could act to discriminate against another human being.

My father and mother would take my brother and me to see his Dutch parents. My grandparents lived in a small house in Bellwood on Chicago’s west side. They prided themselves on their perfectly manicured landscape which included a rose garden in the backyard. The frontroom’s (a Chicagoism) sofa and chairs were covered with plastic slipcovers. Having lived through the depression, everything they owned was protected and meant to last.

On the drive over to their house, my father warned us kids that grandpa (definitely an Archie Bunker archetype) had issues with black people (and other ethnic groups). We would hear grandpa talk about the “niggers” moving into the neighborhood. Grandma would try to shoosh him with “little ears!” I heard my dad trying to move grandpa beyond prejudice, but grandpa, a gruff truck driver, was set in his ways.

My Dutch father was like my Dutch grandparents in that he loved order and cleanliness. But he was not like them in his attitude toward black folk. From what I could gather from my visits, the antipathy that my grandparents held toward blacks seemed to circulate in the attitudes of those who attended their local Dutch Christian Reformed Church. I listened to the conversations when the members gathered outside the church after the service. As a young man, my father attended a different church, dated my mother, discovered Jesus and rejected his father’s ways in the process. That fundamental transformation made the difference for his children’s understanding of race relations.

Now, I don’t pretend to know what it is like to be black. But over 67 years I did gain perspective on black American life. I empathized with the black American’s anger over Jim Crow laws. I empathized with their loss of MLK who called out the injustice. But I did not then and do not now sympathize with the rioting, looting and violence of protestors. These acts are the antithesis of MLK’s non-violent approach to protesting. Such “mindless mimicry of anger and resentment” (Shelby Steel) and destruction only sets back the cause of race relations. Such behavior comes from a very dark place. MLK exemplified Proverbs 16:32:

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
    and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

 

Progressive Perspective

Anyone who has watched Monty Python’s Flying Circus will remember the Dead Parrot sketch. Mr. Praline comes into the pet shop to complain that his recently purchased parrot is dead. The owner of the shop denies any of Mr. Praline’s claims with exasperating excuses.

Mr. Praline: Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.

(pause)

Owner: Well, o’course it was nailed there! If I hadn’t nailed that bird down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent ’em apart with its beak, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

Mr. Praline: “VOOM”?!? Mate, this bird wouldn’t “voom” if you put four million volts through it! ‘E’s bleedin’ demised!

Owner: No no! ‘E’s pining!

Mr. Praline: ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

This hilarious satire of customer service works because of the two opposing perspectives: the real versus the absurd. Bring these two perspectives into any serious discussion of societal or economic matters and it becomes glaringly obvious that there can be no resolution or reconciliation. (In the sketch, the shopkeeper, after repeatedly responding to Mr. Praline’s protests with nonsense, goes off on an absurd tangent, declares that he always wanted to be a lumberjack and begins singing the lumberjack song.) I have had similar back-and-forths when I was on Twitter.

Engaging activists and their Progressive followers on a Twitter thread, I would ask “What is racist about America?” These ‘shopkeepers’ of racism would respond that “America is racist” or “there is injustice” or “there is unfairness”. I would ask again and again for examples – proof of life that racism was alive in America. I would receive the same blanket replies: “America is racist”, “there is injustice”, “there is unfairness”. They were trying to justify what they thought by parroting the same things over and over again. Emotions flared and words were written, but nothing was said to prove that America was a racist country.

(The latest generation of Americans seem to have come out of “How do you feel about that?” therapy. They are hot-wired for emotional response. Hence, the “safe space” mentality that is meant to protect them from emotional overload when confronted with realities beyond the existential.)

Thomas Sowell, like Shelby Steele, has consistently contended against the race narrative posited by the Left. And, like many other blacks who disagree with the Left, is labeled “Uncle Tom”. Sowell is a ninety-year old black American economist and social theorist who is currently a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Here are just a couple of his rejoinders to the Left’s hype of racism:

Racism does not have a good track record. It’s been tried out for a long time and you’d think by now we’d want to put an end to it instead of putting it under new management.

The word ‘racism’ is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything – and demanding evidence makes you a ‘racist.’

It’s been my experience on social media, with its “safe space” anonymity, that there is more than just stonewalling buzzwords repeatedly being stacked up. The ad hominems also pile up. The pejoratives “racist” and “bigot” are used on social media and in print for anyone who does not comport with the narrative proffered by the ‘shopkeepers’ of race. Saul Alinsky’s Rule #5 in his Rules for Radicals handbook is put to use:

“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.”

(What makes any discussion about race relations (or any relationship) even more bizarre and destructive is Progressivism’s identarian politics: dividing people into boxes with labels to pit “victims” against the “oppressors”. This dissection of society is the opposite of reconciliation. And it is rank Marxism.)

“Black votes matter to many politicians — more so than black lives. That is why such politicians must try to keep black voters fearful, angry and resentful. Racial harmony would be a political disaster for such politicians”. Thomas Sowell

Despite what is parroted on social media and in the ‘news’ media, things have changed with regard to race relations in the last 60 years. But the Black Lives Matter cabal denies the reality of that change as do those who buy the BLM propaganda and bring it home.

I see “woke” Americans placing a “Black Lives Matter” sign on the well-manicured lawn of their far-west suburban Chicago homes. Apparently, they want to signal to others that they are down with the manufactured cause. I do not share their token empathy for dead parrot racism, no matter how many times agitators and rioters rattle cages to make it appear to be alive.

We laugh at the Dead Parrot Sketch. It makes perfect sense to us that Mr. Praline is exasperated to no end with the shopkeeper. Likewise, we are exasperated when anyone or a group maintains fixed false beliefs (2 + 2 = 5, 50+ genders, people are poor because of the rich, Progressive Woodrow Wilson was not a racist, “Defund the Police”, white privilege, critical race theory, America is inherently racist, etc.)  even when confronted with facts. We become even more exasperated when we learn that a person or a group grapples for political power to establish fixed false beliefs as truth. The inordinate craving for power comes from a dark place, as philosopher Leszek Kolakowski notes in his essay Politics and the Devil:

“To the extent that politics is the sheer struggle for power, it is bound, in Christian terms, to be the realm of the devil by definition; it then simply releases our libido dominandi as a drive that expands, as it were, for the sake of its own expansion and has no objective beyond itself. As in all other areas of human life, however, the devil distorts and poisons the good natural order.” [i]

Progressivism’s delusional perspective can be summed up as ”Dead Parrots Matter”. It can be applied to any cause it raises, including racism and socialism, as both these ‘causes’ have been dealt with definitively in the past.

Racism is not dead, but it is on life support — kept alive by politicians, race hustlers and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as ‘racists’. -Thomas Sowell

 

Professor’s Perspective

In the 80s I came across Thomas Sowell in a series of Free to Choose videos, including Frances Fox Piven vs. Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman  and Thomas Sowell on the Welfare System. Today, one does not come across the discussion and debates shown in these videos. (See Delusional Perspective above for the reason why.)

I have always enjoyed Professor Sowell’s down-to-earth perspective regarding economics, social issues and government. He provides great insight into the problems affecting blacks. Sowell deals in reality and not in the fallacies, myopia or the jejune foot-stomping responses of the Left. The video below, Myths of Economic Inequality affirms this. Therein, his perspective and some of the wealth of his comprehensive understanding of the matters that affect society. The video presents Sowell’s background and his early bent toward Marxism. You will also hear about his book A Conflict of Visions. This was the first book of his that I read. I consider it a primer to understanding the “unconstrained vision” and the “constrained visions” so prominent and at odds in America today.

 

Here are just a few of the videos offering Professor Sowell’s perspectives:

The Real History of Slavery

Intellectuals and Society

The Ethnic Flaw – Economics and Race, culture as a variable in success and failure

Discrimination and Disparities

 

Penetrating Perspective

With this post and my previous post, I am offering counterpoints to the delusional thinking of the race shopkeepers. I presented Shelby Steele’s and Thomas Sowell’s perspective and my own which parallels theirs of the last sixty years. These perspectives run counter to the populist notion that America is inherently racist and whites should be guilt-ridden about it. Yet, along with Steele and Sowell and many others, I have witnessed the fundamental transformation of America. And it happened long before Barack Obama came along with his Marxist Liberation theology/Jeremiah Wright version of “fundamental transformation”.

I would advise staying clear of broadcast media and op-eds with their myopic flash-point inducing ‘journalism’. Their version of racism is not worth your time. Rather, read to gain a new perspective and a comprehensive understanding of the issues facing America today and how they can be resolved. Below is a recommended list of books, an article and a link to begin with.

 

A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell

The Thomas Sowell Reader by Thomas Sowell

The Courthouse Ring: Atticus Finch and the limits of Southern liberalism, by Malcolm Gladwell

Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and, Reconciliation, by Miroslav Volf

Watershed at the Well    -A short story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. The Jews and the Samaritans are at odds. Jesus challenges their ethno-centric understanding of God and worship that provokes hostilities between the two groups.

Added 9-18-20:

“Go to the website for the Black Futures Lab, a venture of Black Lives Matter founder Alicia Garza, and click on the “Donate” button. It will ask you to send your money to an obscure organization, the Chinese Progressive Association, explaining that “Black Futures Lab is a fiscally sponsored project of the Chinese Progressive Association.”

This BLM Co-founder and Pro-Communist China Group are Partnering up

 

[i] Leszek Kolakowski, Modernity on Endless Trial (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1990, 175-176

Racism: Not Worth Your Time This Time Around

 

There are plenty of media commentators and opinion columnists (NY Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune and their ilk) that posit and promote the narrative of racial injustice and white privilege in America. We are told again and again that America is characterized by “systemic racism” and “systems of oppression”. But those are meaningless terms. Neither “systemic racism” nor “systems of oppression” can be measured or tested to be true. The specious 1619 Project published in the NY Times does not prove systemic racism. It proves that the writer is systemically myopic with regard to victim-focused identity. It was written to project racism onto American history and to produce white guilt. And, the “Black Lives Matter” taunt is also meant as a rebuke in order to generate white guilt. But has racial reconciliation come out of the manipulative 1619 Project? Has any good come out of the “Black Lives Matter” movement? Muhammad Ali’s son doesn’t think so, calling the movement “racist” and the protesters “devils.”

With this post and the next, I want to offer a counterpoint to the “mindless mimicry of anger and resentment” (Shelby Steel) so prominent in our country today. One of the great intellects of our time, Shelby Steele is a black conservative, as he himself defined: “A black conservative is a black who dissents from the victimization explanation of black fate”.

“Racism is not worth your time.” Shelby Steele

Hate is In the Air

 

Breath it in. Fill your lungs with a blast of bile, the astringent air of acrimony. The air is electric, charged with rage and resentment all around you. Are you feeling the compulsion to hate “by any means necessary”? If so, there are essentials to perfect your hatred.

 

First things first. Internalize everything. This step is important in order to consolidate your truth. Of what use are other’s thoughts and feelings if they don’t affirm you? Love is that which affirms you. Hate is to be directed at those who don’t love you as you require.

See handed-down truth as demoralizing and not affirming. Reject such truth for your facts. Your truth is all that matters anyway. Then, you will see everything as out of order with regard to yourself. This will allow you to feel righteous and justified in hating the past and presenting your narrative. History is just a record of power in the wrong hands.

Then, in no particular order…

Never be content. Why should you be content when you can have it all? You were born to crave. Would any god deny you anything you deem good? Pursue the rainbow’s end. See others as keeping you from that end. Life is a zero-sum game. You must grab all you can. Find your satisfaction in tearing down what others have built. How can anyone justify what they have when you are lacking?

Begin to dehumanize those you feel responsible for your misery. They must be unhuman to not affirm your values. Make them into objects of your disfavor. Other them. Hold them in contempt. And be sure to judge them based on your values. They are judging you right now.

Exclude others who do not share your values and tune into others who do. Seek out your tribe’s mouthpieces and emotional surrogates, those who can elicit hatred more vocally. They will authenticate your hatred.  Listen to news programs. Listen to the commentators to get your cues: “Nazi!” “Hitler!” “Racist!” “Facist!” Name calling is an effective means to denigrate those you hate.

Choose politicians who market materialism as “social justice”. Soulishness, found in tales and myths, is for fools. If you can’t touch and hold the object of your desires of what use is that to you? The same politicians must advocate for diversity and inclusion. Both diversity and inclusion determine who’s in and who’s out. Then you will know who your enemies are.

Make sure to talk about others without their knowledge. The purpose of gossip is to convey your disapproval of others and to set yourself apart from them. If someone betrays your values with their words, then return the reproach. Is that not justice?

To feed your contempt and to vicariously ‘deal with’ your enemies watch movies that contain revenge justice. Watch The Hunt. Use your imagination and see your enemy ham-strung, taken down and taken out. The El Paso and Dayton shootings reveal the full realization of hatred.

Use social media to exercise your hatred. What better vehicle to vent the air of acrimony? One should not hold that air in for long. Rather, breathe it out. Use your pride as a self-defense mechanism. Knock your opponent down to size with name-calling. Their pride is keeping them from accepting your values. 4chan is a good place to chat about what you hate.

Reject consequences of your actions as unfair. The law and its personifications, law enforcement and the judges, make victims. Throw your bath water on them.

Whatever you do, do not sit around in silence. Fill the air around you with the voices and music that will sustain hatred. The Enemy of your hatred is not silent. And His words are weaponized and sharper than any double-edged sword. Defend yourself against violence done to your truth with a sound barrier.

Use your fears to leverage your hate. You fear because you do not have. Others have what you want. Hatred works to bring about equality and fairness by calling out others about their unfairness.

Be warned. There are those who walk the boundary of heaven and earth. They seek to mitigate hatred with their version of love. Resist them. Harden your heart against them. For they do not know you. Show your true face to them – the face of the god within.

You have heard it said “love your enemies and do good to those who despise you”. I say to you, know your enemies and let them know what you hate about them. Stiffen your will against all competing interests that are against you. Loving your enemies is weakness. Hatred is the power to control and compensate for any weakness on your part. And, of what use to you are those who do not share your values? There is no room in the same world for you and them. Give them no quarter.

Finally, never forgive. If a person wants reconciliation then make them grovel and accept your judgment of them. Tell them “I do what I do because of you”. If they do not respond adequately then revenge is the only option. The offender must feel the weight of the offense taken. Forgiveness is weakness and meant for those who suffer from a God-like complex. Pity is what you deserve from them for having to hate them.

If you can fill your unforgiving minutes
With sixty plus year’s worth of hate,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be self-actualized, my child!

 

–Shadowbrute

My Times are Not in Your Hands

Despotism has so often been established in the name of liberty that experience should warn us to judge parties by their practices rather than their preachings.
—Raymond Aron, The Opium of the Intellectuals

During the recent Democratic Presidential ‘debates’, the Progressive Element candidates for president reveal just how incongruous Progressive thinking has become. Two of the candidates, Biden and Booker, stated that they want to beat up Trump, inciting the crowd with their aggression. This within the Progressive mindset that publicly denounces bullying and violence. The Communism appropriator Bolshevik Bernie Sanders and Cherokee heritage appropriator Elizabeth “Angry Eyes” Warren push for collectivist health care as a “yuman right” (a “right” that will consume all of your hard-earned property rights). This while the Progressive Element condemns the Trump campaign of Russian collusion. There’s more from these bizarre Progressivists.

CHARLESTON, SC – JANUARY 17: The stage at the Gaillard Center is prepared for tonight’s Democratic debate on January 17, 2016 in Charleston, South Carolina. Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley spent yesterday campaigning in South Carolina in lead up to tonight’s debate. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Biden offered a new and improved Obamacare, a dismal and expensive failure for the consumer. The other candidates want to ditch him, Obamacare and Obama’s legacy for their own new and improved version of collectivism.

Biden said that healthcare is the most important issue facing voters and Buttigieg says climate change is the most important issue. This while the Progressive Element legalizes full-term abortion, promotes physically harmful sexual activity and travels to a climate confab at Google camp (Sicily) in private jets and mega-yachts.

According to Italian media reports, guests were expected to arrive in an eye-popping 114 private jets.

The Post guesstimated that with 114 flights from Los Angeles to Palermo, the planes would have pumped an astonishing 100,000 kilos of C02 into the atmosphere.

A-listers arrive in private jets, mega yachts for climate confab

One of the anti-Semitic socialist spice girls, Ocasio-Cortez Spice, has declared that the world will end in twelve years if we don’t do something about climate change. So, I understand the need to confab and to add ‘fuel’ to the narrative before it’s too late. Our betters need to show us a better way.

“Reparation H” Kamala Harris wants you to pay for slavery that didn’t happen on your watch. This from the party of the KKK and Jim Crow. And new age guru Marianne Williamson thinks all you need is love. And that means open borders for the lot of them. This while the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and others under Democrat control for decades are becoming third-world-like hell-hole cities – overrun with the homeless, rats, used needles, human feces and the spread of infectious diseases. This from the Democrat socialists who say they will do socialism better than what history accords. This – their love for humanity knows no dystopian bounds.

Open borders? They are Progressivism’s response to the perceived authoritarianism of the Right. For borders, boundaries, and laws are too legalistic, fundamentalist and not inclusive. So, they will promote lawlessness as a means to an end – diluting the country with illegals who will vote for more “Anything Goes” Progressivism. This while the streets west and south of “Welcoming City” Chicago are swarming with the law-unto-themselves gang members who slaughter at will. This while they treat our laws as a three-year-old girl who decides she is a boy.

Who are Progressives? The Progressive Element? Besides offering a narrative that Progressivism’s vision will make the world a better place while being equally detached from the reality of this world, Progressivist’s ideological worldview has many other unsettling characteristics.

Economist Thomas Sowell in his book A Conflict of Visions, Ideological Origins of Political Struggle, provides background and understanding of Progressivism’s “unconstrained vision”.

In the Summary and Implications section of the Visons of Social Processes chapter, Sowell writes comparing the “unconstrained vision” with the “constrained vision”:

The two visions differ fundamentally as to the sources of human survival and progress. According to unconstrained vision, the patterned behavior of society is successful, just and progressive insofar as it reflects the articulated rationality of man in general and of the most intellectually and morally advanced people in particular. Order – and especially a just and progressive order – is the result of design, backed by the commitment of people dedicated to the general welfare. In broad outline, this is the vision of the “age of reason”, which began in the eighteenth-century France and has spread throughout the Western world and beyond.

In the constrained vision, where man – individually and collectively – lacks both the intellectual and moral prerequisites for such deliberate, comprehensive planning, order evolves historically without design, and more effectively than when it is designed, Language is one example of such order without design and its complexity, subtlety, and effectiveness exemplify the power of systemic processes which tap the experience of all, instead of relying on special wisdom or nobility of any individual or council. A prominent element within this tradition has applied the constrained vision to economics…. given full expression by Adam Smith and is exemplified today in the writings of Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek.

Sowell goes on to describe the difference of the two visions regarding social processes:

The unconstrained vision tends to judge processes by their results – “Is it right? Is it good? …The constrained vision judges rightness and goodness as process characteristics rather than the results: A foot race is fair if it is run under the proper conditions – regardless of who wins or loses, or how often the same person wins. Justice, in the constrained vision, thus means adherence to agreed upon rules, while in the unconstrained vision, something is just or unjust according the end results.

 Progressivism manifests its end result vision with the likes of participation trophies, allowing men to use the women’s locker room and restroom and to participate in women’s sports. Its version of end result equality is a driver for socialism – making every outcome equal. It is also the thinking behind ad hoc justice, which eschews the rule of law, applicable to everyone, and rules on the basis of individual circumstances and narratives rather than behavior and accountability. Progressivism’s ‘justice’, as Sowell describes above, says that the systems and processes produced the criminal. The individual is therefore not accountable for these things. This feeds the narrative that our betters must be in control to produce better people.

To produce equal outcomes, though, requires control of individuals and processes. And that is what the Democrat candidates are proposing in various ways. They want your times in their hands.

To gain control Progressives paint a dystopian future without them in power. Per them, the world will end if we don’t act, democracy will end if they are not given control, and rights, such as slaughtering the human in your womb and men disguised as women appropriating women’s concerns, will be taken away by the Right. Hence the calculating narrative described in my previous post, Manipulated to Follow the Course of This World. The blatant irony of the narrative is that it does not invoke the Age of Reason”. Rather, it invokes a mercenary army of passions to fight for the Progressive narrative.

Reading these ideological vision characteristics one can begin to see that the Progressive Element sees its members, its candidates, as your betters, as Anointed Ones. It was not long ago that one of the “Anointed Ones”, Hillary Clinton, gave the world her “unconstrained vision”:

It Takes a Village: Picture Book

It Takes a Village offers a universal, unifying message. It captures perfectly Clinton’s vision of a multicultural America working toward a constructive goal. So hopeful and forward-looking.” —The Washington Post

 More could be said but I’ll end here. I’ve written several posts about the Progressive Element with a desire to inform the reader of its diabolical ways. Though proclaiming a roadmap that is just and fair and caring it acts in just the opposite ways. They make excuses for their behavior while condemning and persecuting those who do not serve its narrative. They pronounce good “evil” and evil “good”. Their means to ‘equality’ is to bring others (males, whites, the rich…) down and to say that two things that are not equal are equal (male-female marriage and homosexuality). They become enraged when gendered pronouns are used. Coercing language and humans into confusing nonsense is characteristic of Progressives and certainly of the Evil One and his minions.

The values the Progressive Element extols, couched in humanist and even Christian terms, comes from the father of lies. There is no truth in the Progressive Element. The road map these false prophets propose is the “wide way” Jesus talked about (Matt. 7:13-15. Progressives “come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

 

Therefore, I will not put my life in their hands. Rather, I submit to the One True Narrative…

My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. -Psalm 31: 15

Manipulated to Follow the Course of This World

There is a passage in C. S. Lewis’ novel That Hideous Strength (published in 1945) that foreshadows the media manipulation going on today. I’ll begin with some background from my post Genealogies of Straw?

The narrator in C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy novel That Hideous Strength tells us about one of the central characters Mark Studdock. He is a young academic, a sociologist, and a member of the Progressive Element at Bracton College. He is an ambitious, self-centered and shallow intellectual who has come into the service of the National Institute of Coordinated Sciences (NICE). He believes NICE will serve the best interest of humanity through progress at any cost. Once he stopped hemming and hawing about joining the organization he is welcomed into the inner circle. But he soon finds that he has committed himself to a hellish organization which plans to re-do humanity by force so that only the best humans (in NICE’s view) remain. He is made aware that the tentacles of the organization are growing.

 Before the passage I quote below we learn that Mark is pressured to write newspaper articles that conceal what N.I.C.E. is up to. At one point he questions Miss Hardcastle, the sadistic leader of the N.I.C.E.’s corrupt police force, about which newspaper – “Left or Right” –is going to print the “rot” he is being asked to write. Miss Hardcastle answers.

“Both, honey, both,” said Miss Hardcastle. “Don’t you understand anything? Isn’t it absolutely essential to keep a fierce Left and a fierce Right, both on their toes and terrified of each other? That’s how we get things done. Any opposition to the N.I.C.E. is represented as a Left racket in the Right papers and a Right racket in the Left papers. If it’s properly done, you get each side outbidding the other in support of us – to refute enemy slanders. Of course we’re non-political. The real power always is.”

“I don’t believe you can do that,” said Mark. “Not with the papers that are read by educated people.”

“That shows you are still in the nursery, lovey,” said Miss Hardcastle. “Haven’t you realized that it’s the other way around?”

“How do you mean?”

“Why you fool, it’s the educated reader who can be gulled. All our difficulty comes with others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes for granted that they’re all propaganda and skips the leading articles. He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about girls falling out of windows and corpses found in the Mayfair flats. He is our problem. We have to recondition him. But the educated public, the people who read the high-brow weeklies, don’t need reconditioning. They’re all right already. They’ll believe anything.”

Mark, the academic sociologist, balks at such an inference. And Hardcastle responds “…Don’t you see that the educated reader can’t stop reading the high-brow weeklies whatever they do? He can’t. He’s been conditioned.”

 Anyone who spends time reading and watching the media, and I presume a large portion of the population here in the U.S does., is susceptible to its manipulation. Is this news to anyone? TV commercials and internet popup adverts are created to manipulate the viewer and reader to go after what is being offered, or to at least carry a jingle and a phone number and an image around in their head. Subliminal manipulation is used constantly to sway thinking.

Similar manipulative influence is used by Progressive Element’s TV news/political opinion programs and on its news and opinion websites where news is swapped for narrative. The talking heads of these shows and websites hope to affix their narrative in the minds of the viewer and reader with an endless repetition of lies, innuendos, slander, and charged words: “Racist!” Sexist!” “Homophobe!” “Islamophobe!” “Nazi!”. These words are intended to produce hate for the ‘enemies’ of the Progressive Element’s agenda. It induces an effect on the viewer and reader not unlike those who take part in INGSOC’s Two Minutes Hate as described in George Orwell’s 1984 (published in 1949).

The Progressive Element’s desired outcome-based control of others using terror and ideological fiction is characteristic of totalitarianism. This manifestation of political evil is not new nor Progressive. It is characteristic of what came before as expressed by Hannah Arendt in her 1951 Origins of Totalitarianism. Arendt, a German-born American political scientist and philosopher wrote about the horrific events of her own day: the totalitarian regimes of Soviet Stalinism and the rise of Nazi Germany that brought about the annihilation of millions. Referring to the citizenry who allowed such horrors, Arendt found a “mixture of gullibility and cynicism… is prevalent in all ranks of totalitarian movements”. And, so was lying. Here are three quotes coming out of Hannah Arendt’s understanding of the forces at work during those times to de-legitimize truth and to de-humanize the hearer: 

Why the constant, often blatant lying? For one thing, it functioned as a means of fully dominating subordinates, who would have to cast aside all their integrity to repeat outrageous falsehoods and would then be bound to the leader by shame and complicity.

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true… The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.

The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world—and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end—is being destroyed.

The talking head’s mocking and sneering of the ‘enemy’ is echoed in social media by the viewers of Sixty Minutes Hate. Internalized totalitarianism, often disguised as a push for social justice, demands control of the conversation, of people’s thoughts, of people’s behavior and of people’s property. With terror-mongering (e.g., “The world will end in 12 years if we don’t do something about climate change”; “Democracy will end if we don’t wrest control of it from those in power”) and with endless repetition one’s understanding of reality is swapped for the socially constructed reality. Shadow banning on social media sites is meant to keep opinions opposed to the Progressive Element’s agenda out of sight and mind.

Societal manipulation done by academics and the elites of the ruling class is used by totalitarian regimes (North Korea most notably today) to produce servitude to its agenda:

 “Apart from the massacres, deaths and famines for which communism was responsible, the worst thing about the system was the official lying: that is to say the lying in which everyone was forced to take part, by repetition, assent or failure to contradict. I came to the conclusion that the purpose of propaganda in communist countries was not to persuade, much less to inform, but to humiliate and emasculate.”

Anthony Daniels, The Wilder Shores Of Marx: Journeys In A Vanishing World

Big tech uses societal manipulation. Machine Learning Fairness algorithms are used by Google to put Google’s thumb on the scale of searches in order to skew search outcomes toward the social justice their narrative demands. Enter “Men can” and “Women can” into the Google home page and see what immediately shows up. Men are portrayed negatively or neutral and even as being able to have babies. Women are shown as compassionate and as powerful corporate and civic leaders – positively. One can imagine what Google’s Machine Learning Fairness algorithm does to skew political and cultural (the LGBTQ in particular) searches.

No matter where you lie on the political spectrum you will want to listen to the video and read the research of Dr. Robert Epstein, Why Google Poses a Serious Threat to Democracy, and How to End That Threat. Beyond newspapers, you and I are being manipulated by the princes of the power of the air – Big Tech. Dr. Epstein stated at the senate community hearing that Google’s manipulation affected a range of a minimum of 2.6 million to 10.4 million votes in favor of Hillary Clinton.

Liberal Professor Warns: Google Manipulating Voters ‘on a Massive Scale’

You can be sure that what comes out of Hollywood is societal manipulation. The entertainment you watch is manipulated. You are taking in pagan and Progressive notions of life meant to shape your world view. One example: 7 Moments That Made ‘Frozen’ the Most Progressive Disney Movie Ever

  

Because of the incessant and ubiquitous manipulation impelling one to follow the course of this world, because the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:1-3) to produce hatred, vindictiveness, greed and a lust for power, a follower of Christ must set their mind on things above (Col. 3:1-2) to gain their bearings in this world. One way to deal with the manipulative narrative is to do what Jesus did to Peter when Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him. Jesus rebuked Peter: Get behind me Satan! You’re trying to trip me up! You’re not looking at things like God does! You’re looking at things like a mere mortal!” Jesus put his Father’s words in front of him and put man’s manipulative narrative – avoid pain, suffering and death – behind him.

The father of lies has been around since the Garden of Eden. He lies and he wants you to be a party to his lies. The Evil One is behind manipulative narratives as Jesus makes clear when he denounces the Judeans and their narrative, one of evoking their Abrahamic lineage as proof of the rightness of their narrative.

“You are from your father – the devil! And you’re eager to get on with what he wants. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he’s never remained in the truth, because there is no truth in him, because he is a liar – in fact, he’s the father of lies!” (Jn. 8:44)

The teachers of the law and the religious leaders in Jesus’ day wanted to control the narrative of what the law said, how it was to be applied, and of who had say-so with regard to the law. They clearly had expectations of a Messiah who would overthrow the Romans and of a man as not as repulsive as John the Baptist and of a man not as conciliatory as Jesus. Truth showed up one day in the marketplace and revealed their manipulative narrative (Matt. 11;15-17) regarding John the Baptist and of himself:

“If you’ve got ears, then listen!

“What picture shall I give you for this generation? Asked Jesus. “It’s like a bunch of children sitting in the town square, and singing songs to each other. This is how it goes:

‘You didn’t dance when we played the flute;

You didn’t cry when we sang the dirge!’

The narrative of the teachers of the law and the religious leaders clearly had its expectations. And when those expectations were not met the crowd would have Jesus crucified. The same deference to popularized and propagandized narratives with expectations based on ideological fiction is true now. And the same totalitarian impulse, like in Stalin’s and Hitler’s time and, today, within the Progressive Element, desires that you be in the thrall of their narrative, to dance to its music and to sing its songs. And in servitude to Big Brother’s narrative you will soon hear “‘You dance when we say dance! You sing when we say sing! Or, else! for totalitarianism and the evil behind it are never satisfied. Both seek to control outcomes with lies and manipulation and then with force.

Words That Never Pass Away Except in Some Forums

 

Imagine a chemist or an engineer or doctor thinking that what came before in his field, the accumulated wealth of knowledge and of best practices, is no longer of value and foundational for what he does now…

 

One major modern-day theological misconception comes from assuming that the Pharisees, one Jewish sect of many in Jesus’ day, represented the opposite of Jesus’s teachings.  Assumptive preaching, directly or indirectly, seeks to make a contrast between the Law keepers and Jesus. The Law, presented as antiquated, and the Jews, presented as Law fixated, are projected in a negative light. Jesus and his followers, presented in humanistic fashion, in a positive light. In so doing, the Pharisees and the Law have become stereotyped in the minds of many and with it, Jesus has become stereotyped. With mischaracterization comes misapplication of the gospel.

What is juxtaposed in the gospel are the encounters Jesus has with those of his day and the prevailing opinions about the Law and about the Messiah. Jesus speaks to Pharisees, scribes, religious leaders, prostitutes, tax collectors, Samaritans, fishermen, the blind, the lame, the sick, the rich, the poor and to political power – Pontius Pilate – and to a massive crowd. These occurrences reveal Jesus’ dealing with misunderstandings of the Torah. Jesus’ countering their perceptions of the Law caught many off guard and troubled the righteous who lived by the Law. To ward off their concerns and not willing to destroy one iota of the Law, Jesus says to the Sermon on the Mount crowd “Don’t suppose that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy them; I came to fulfill them!” Not one iota of the Torah will pass away until all is fulfilled with the New Creation (Matt. 24:35).

With his Sermon on the Mount Jesus offered the big picture truth – the Law of Love should be the arbiter of our intents and actions as the fulfillment of the Law. This is God’s intentions for his created beings (Matt. 7:12). The Law basically said “Don’t do this and if you do…” Jesus, in the his sermon, explains his interpretation of the Torah to the Jewish crowd (Matt: 5:17-20). He counters each of their “You heard it said…” understandings by telling them to look at the Torah his way. He summarizes the Torah and the Jewish understanding of the righteous being admitted into the New Creation with “Well, then: you must be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48)

One important consideration to keep in mind with regard to framing a picture of the law is that the gospel writers did not intend to paint an across-the-board history of the time of Jesus. This context was provided by the intertestamental scribes. The Jewish community and the gospel writers knew their writings. The gospel writers stated purpose (John 20:31) was to write an account of the One they called the Messiah. This is the focus of the gospels, not “Law bad, Jesus good”. None of their accounts diminish or denigrate the Law or the Law keepers. Their accounts tell us of Jesus’ juxtaposed encounters and ways of thinking about the Law and life in a Jewish contemporary context. Matthew’s gospel account in particular addresses issues of concern for second temple Jews including matters of the Torah and righteousness which is mentioned over and over again in his account.

Another basis for the assumption that the Law had been negated and done away with is the fact that Christians are not obligated to follow the Law. For one thing, animal sacrifices were no longer required. Jesus – the Lamb of God – sacrificed himself for us. The righteous were to do the same. The assumption that the law, with its instructions and blessings and curses was done away with is a misunderstanding of the sending of the spirit at Pentecost upon those who believed in Jesus as Messiah. In fact, Pentecost confirms the words of the Law and the prophets: “the “word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.” (Deut. 30:14)

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh ,… Ezekiel 11:19

 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31;33

There are some who draw many parallels between the giving of the Torah and the giving of the spirit at Pentecost: The Many Parallels of Sinai and Pentecost. Others line up the dates: The Giving of The Ten Commandments was on Pentecost.

The Torah, the instructions, never went away. In fact, it is right in front of you. Here’s Moses telling the children of Israel this very thing:

For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ “Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. Deut. 30: 11-14 (emphasis mine)

The English word “law” is a translation of the Greek word nomos. And, nomos is a translation of the Hebrew word “Torah”. Deuteronomy, as quoted from above, is a restating of the nomos – the law, the Torah. And, as stated above, one cannot presume that a Moses needs to be dragged off mountain top to restate the law. The law is a by-your-side tutor. So, one is without excuse regarding the knowledge of God and his Torah (restated by Paul in Romans1:18-32).

The Torah is teaching, instruction, and “best practices” to point the Jews the way to walk, to learn to be holy as God is holy. The Torah contains blessings for those who obey the Torah and curses for the those who choose not to obey. The Torah life is not a life of bondage. Rather, it is a life with boundaries. (Boundaries are conflated with bondage these days). The Torah for the Jews and especially for the Qumran community was not a religion but a way of life.

The wisdom literature of the Scripture speaks about observing the law – the Torah – to become wise. This includes home schooling one’s children in the Torah.

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching (torah). Prov. 1:8

The Apostle Paul, the chosen emissary of Jesus to the Gentiles, would speak also speak to the Messianic Jews regarding how to understand Jesus in relation to the Torah, especially in light of the fact that Paul did not require the Gentiles to follow the Torah. Many today assume that meant Paul disposed of the law for Christians. The trained as a Pharisee and law observant Paul taught a different approach to the Torah in accordance with the resurrection of Jesus and his kingdom on earth (Gal. 3: 19-20). The thinking that the law was made irrelevant by Jesus was countered early on by Paul as he taught that the Messiah delivered on his covenant faithfulness:

The Messiah, you see, is the goal of the law, so that covenant membership may be available for all who believe. Rom. 10:4

Like Jesus, Paul didn’t dismiss the law. And, like Jesus Paul made it known that obeying specific laws was secondary to one’s intent and love for the One who redeemed them to walk in love. Perspective, God’s perspective is what mattered most and not man’s attempt to practice the Law.

Circumcision is nothing; uncircumcision Is nothing: what matters is keeping God’s laws. 1 Cor. 7: 19

This perspective, as taught by Jesus (“Except your righteousness exceed that of…”) and later by Paul to the Jews who wanted to be declared “righteous” to be accepted in the age to come, also made clear that the law brought God’s people only so far.

We are Jews by birth, not Gentile “sinners.” But we know that a person is not declared “righteous” by works of the Jewish law, but through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah.

That is why we too believed in the Messiah, Jesus: so that we might be declared “righteous” on the basis of the Messiah’s faithfulness, and not on the basis of works of the Jewish law. On that basis, you see, no creature will be declared “righteous.” Gal. 2: 15-16

It would be hard to imagine a chemist or an engineer or doctor thinking that what came before in his field, what works and what doesn’t work, is no longer of value and foundational and to declare a new way. But, it is easy for social engineers to discard what came before, including the law, to invoke a societal tolerance of all manner of license against perceived authoritarianism.

The gospel as dispensed today in many churches leaves out the historical context of the Law (and of Jesus) and coaxes out stereotypes. The Jews of Jesus’ day are presented as under the heavy yoke of the Law and obsessive about rules and regulations and keeping the law. Jesus is presented as chastising them for bothering with the law and not being more human. Some preaching will go so far as to say that the law was a failed attempt by God to make his people righteous and that Jesus came to discard it and to try a new way.

Jesus is presented as setting people free from the Law and therefore accountability so that they can be their own person. And, erroneously, the Jews are presented as caring about the Law and Jesus caring about people. I have seen Jesus presented as enlightened man of peace and love. Often on social media I have seen Jesus hailed as a Progressive along with Che Guevara and other radicals. Others on social media have stated that Jesus is OK with homosexuality based on the thinking that God made them that way and the law Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin. is pre-Jesus and therefore invalid (Jesus as social-justice warrior).

Others, including a well-known Jesuit priest on social media, have implied that the Law is authoritarian and “conservative values” and therefore must be vilified as uncaring and Jesus as humanistic “Progressive values” to be embraced. These pagans worship their gods and follow their laws even sacrificing children to them in the name of Jesus the Progressive.

The effects of suppressing the truth about the Law is seen in our culture and individually, as accountability is thrown out the door with the law. Lawlessness abounds, anarchy follows and in-your-face mocking of the righteous. “Law bad, Jesus good”.

Moses and the Ten Commandments – Gustave Doré

Imagine listening to a singer’s performance and the singer and musicians didn’t care about tonality, meter and pitch. Imagine that they didn’t care about what came before musically and what worked to harmonize their performance. The sounds they make are jarring to the ears but you listen because it is promoted as avant-garde, unheard of and en vogue. You leave the performance feeling unsettled because the music didn’t resolve – there were no tonic chords only an establishment mocking dissonance. The ‘music’ was unconstrained and lacked direction and meaning. Yet, you feel proud of yourself that you were involved in something unconventional and iconoclastic. Later, at dinner with your companions, you rave about the performance. You want to come off sounding, liberal, broad-minded and, …Progressive, and not like so many others who are so conventional and lacking your insight. There is preaching today just like that today. “They declare themselves wise, but in fact became foolish.” (Rom. 1: 22)

Finally, there are three Psalms in which the Lord’s instruction is central to understanding life before God: Psalm 1, Psalm 19 and Psalm 119. The writers show a strong desire to know God and His ways. The Psalmists want God’s instruction more than life itself. We would do well to do likewise, since man does not live by bread alone.

 

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There is so much more that could be said about Jesus and the law, so I commend the following:

Required reading: the chapter Did Jesus Abolish the Law of Moses?  Mind the Gap: How the Jewish Writings Between the Old and New Testament Help Us Understand Jesus by Matthias Henze

 

Revenge and Rumors of Revenge

 

The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.

Hamlet (3.2.250)

 

The Murder of Abel – Gustave Dore

How would you respond if a group of people became jealous of your influence and they decided to do away with you?

Revenge, retaliation, reprisal and retribution. These are four words with the same connotation: returning an offense taken in back onto the offender; payback.

Escalation, increase, intensification and mushroomed. These four words connote the same thing. Their meaning is made obvious as the media uses them to describe the burgeoning effects of revenge, retaliation, reprisal and retribution. Those effects include estrangement, conflict, lack of closure, segregation, armed conflict, crisis, strife, tension, turmoil, wars and rumors of wars, and exclusion.

Settling scores sets in motion a chain reaction of settling scores. On a personal level, a husband and wife may engage in tit-for-tat sniping and then become increasingly retaliatory and then, later, lawyer-up for a contentious divorce. The effect on them and their children is one or more of the effects mentioned above.

On a global level, a nation may resist détente and instead stir up animus with hawkish rhetoric. Such a nation wants to settle accounts on their terms. So, they prepare nuclear armament for retaliatory strikes. And again, whether as an ongoing hawkish stance or a strike, the effect would be one or more of the effects mentioned above for that nation and its relations with other nations. Settling scores, whether on a personal or national level, becomes an open-ended endless battle of wills and powers. This is also true on the societal level.

A guru of the sixties, French postmodernist philosopher Michel Foucault believed that power is the most important aspect of any societal relationship. In his way of thinking, first comes power, then comes truth. Power produces truth. Institutions such as the legal system, the family, the parent, the teacher, the church, and those that hold the traditions handed down hold sway over others. Such regimes of power were to considered to produce their own realms of truth. And all such power domains were deemed by Foucault to be exclusive, repressive, censorious, concealing, and oppressive. Foucault’s ‘unmasking’ of power and its trappings would involve rebellion and retaliation against them. This, he posited, would be the path to liberation for society. This is the path of the Progressive Element who demand institutions change and they remain unchanged. Philosopher Roger Scruton saw what was happening:

The intellectuals of 1968 hunted through the social world for marks of power, in order to declare their rebellion against it. Every gathering, every institution, every fragment of the old civilization wore for them the badge of enmity. [I]

This Post-modern thinking – power produces truth and power is everywhere and in the wrong hands – produces a context for revenge, retaliation, reprisal and retribution against long-standing institutions and traditions in the name of social justice. Again, Roger Scruton:

“People inoculated by the culture of repudiation, reluctant to acknowledge the search for meaning as a human universal, tend to think that all conflicts are really political, concerning who has power over whom”[ii]

Add nihilism, moral relativism, and ad hoc justice into the inoculation and things turn viral. The culture, as one can witness, is obsessed with anger, hatred and vindictiveness. Theologian Miroslav Volf, in his book Exclusion and Embrace, describes one reason for the spiral of vengeance as “the predicament of partiality” – the inability of the parties locked in conflict to agree on the moral significance of their actions. Put another way, “For me to err is human, to forgive you is weakness”.

While the news media daily presents us with unresolved conflicts and their escalation, the entertainment media offer us conflicts resolved with revenge justice. Its offerings are almost countless, so I’ll name just four current dramas.

John Wick is described as an “Old Testament revenge story”. Wick is a former hitman who returns to the criminal underworld when a Russian gangster steals his car and kills his dog. He searches for those for who did this and for those who act against him. He wants retribution. Revenge is a bloody mess.

In the black comedy Cold Pursuit the main character Nels Coxman, played by Liam Neesom, is a vengeful snowplow driver who starts killing the members of a drug cartel following the murder of his son. Revenge leaves no street unplowed.

Death Wish is described as a vigilante action thriller. Bruce Willis plays the main character, “a Chicago doctor who sets out to get revenge on the men who attacked his family”. Revenge goes pathological.

Unforgiven. Clint Eastwood stars as William Munny, “a notorious outlaw and murderer, but he is now a repentant widower raising two children”. He takes on a revenge job offering reward money to support his family. In the process his partner Ned is tortured and killed by Little Bill, the local sheriff. “Munny heads back to Big Whiskey to take revenge on Little Bill. Revenge downs Big Whiskey.

(Men are particularly drawn into these action revenge dramas. Women are drawn into the relational revenge drama offered on the likes of Bravo.)

Because of the innate human desire for justice, revenge has been plotted (and popularized) in movies, books and plays. Vengeance was a frequent theme of Tudor drama, as dramatized in the work of Shakespeare. The main character has been wronged or has incurred a significant loss and so self-justified revenge becomes the plot to mete out justice. But, beyond invoking a motivation for justice, the story line taps into fallen man’s impetus for vengeance. The story line allows the reader, the viewer and the play goer to vicariously take revenge. (I woke the other day with the MyPillow jingle in my head. I had heard the commercial in the background the night before. I wonder if watching revenge justice in any of the above movies lays in one’s subconscious mind waiting to be acted on.) Pay back is portrayed as the means to a just and redemptive end. But is the end just and redemptive? Credits will role after a revenge justice movie and your hunger for justice may be temporarily sated, but real-life revenge does end that way.

By many accounts, revenge is the ongoing de facto way to deal with social matters. Political wars, tribal wars, cultural wars, local and national conflicts, Jihad, personal vindictiveness, suits and counter suits, hatred, greed, and the dogfights for power over others contain elements of revenge and rumors of revenge. The revenge process is a vicious circle, as theologian Volf writes in Exclusion and Embrace:

Instead of wanting to forgive, we instinctively seek revenge. An evil deed will not be owed for long; it demands repayment in kind. The trouble with revenge, however, is that it enslaves us. As Hannah Arendt pointed out in The Human Condition, vengeance

acts in the form of reacting against an original trespassing, whereby far from putting an end to the consequences of the first misdeed, everybody remains bound to the process, permitting the chain reaction contained in every action to takes its unhindered course; …[vengeance] encloses both doer and sufferer in the relentless automatism of the action process, which by itself need never come to an end. (Arendt, 1959, 216)[iii]

What shall separate us from loving God and others? Revenge. What shall be the way out of the death spiral of revenge? Again, a quote from Exclusion and Embrace:

“…our actions are irreversible. The only way out of the predicament of irreversibility, Arendt insisted, is through forgiveness …A genuinely free act of which ‘does not merely react”, forgiveness breaks the power of the remembered past and transcends the claims of the affirmed justice and so makes the spiral of vengeance grind to a halt. This is the social import of forgiveness.[iv]

 

We both know that even when we forgive and don’t return evil for evil, the other may seek to continue the cycle of revenge. But, when we disengage from the revenge process and only return good towards the other “you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you” (Prov. 25.22, Rom. 12:20). With forgiveness and acts of love we frustrate the other’s attempt to continue in the spiral of revenge. The onus to continue is put on the other’s head. The other may shake off our response and continue to seek revenge (becoming more of a hothead?) or the other may look to get out from under the burning coals and go their way.

To be sure, forgiveness is not a denial of the injustice incurred. Rather, it is placing the injustice in the proper perspective, as Joseph did so long ago: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). Joseph forgave his brothers, embraced them and showed them kindness.

How would you respond if a group of people became jealous of your influence and they decided to do away with you?

 

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               [i] An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture, Roger Scruton, page 130.

               [ii] Forgiveness and Irony, Roger Scruton

               [iii] Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation,   Miroslav Volf, page 120-121

               [iv] Ibid. 121.

The Case of Mistaken Identity

Recently, I went to my state’s DMV to obtain a Real ID. Starting Oct. 1, 2020, this ID will be required for all domestic commercial flights and to enter Federal facilities requiring identification to enter, such as military bases or nuclear power facilities. The REAL ID Act passed in 2005 establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards. The Act refers to federal anti-terrorism laws and regulations that control access. To obtain the Real ID I had to submit several documents that verified my identity and my relationship to the state and federal government and my address.

As important as it is to our federal authority to know who you are to identify any threats to its citizenry, it is vastly more important for us to know who we are in space and time. It is to which authority we submit to that matters with regard to the verification of our identity and to the rights granted to us by that authority. Therein lies the case for mistaken identity.

Modern man has placed himself at the center of the universe as the anthropic cause and reason for existence. Modern man sees himself as the final authority. As such, his identity as self-creator becomes the reference point for all matters of life. What came before, what has been handed down through millennia is of no concern to modern man. Religion, science, family – nothing is as important to modern man as his present tense self-created identity. Enter Identity Politics.

Identity Politics and its, as philosopher Roger Scruton has described it, “culture of repudiation”, are at the forefront of modern man’s renunciation of the past – inherited values, cultural identifications and namesakes. As modern man shakes off the past and its ties to his identity, the need to belong remains.

Here is an excerpt from Scruton’s address, How identity politics destroys freedom, during the Acton Institute’s “Crisis of Liberty in the West” conference :

…we have a craving for membership, which is a deep adaptation of the species, and which presses us always towards the group and the conformity that will protect us. Many young people, under the impulse of this feeling, search for a “conformity in defiance,” a belonging which is also a rejection, that will provide a new identity in place of the old.
As a result, the pursuit of freedom has taken on an entirely new character. The new activist on behalf of freedom does not stop at affirming the right to choose a course of action or a way of life. He or she builds around this right a rival identity, an identity that defies the one that was traditionally on offer. This search for identity claims a space in the public world, and claims it from and against the unspoken conventions that have, over the years, made our free society possible. In this way, the pursuit of individual freedom, detached from inherited obedience, leads to a new denial of freedom.
It is worth examining how this comes about. Every freedom creates a difference – the difference between those who exercise it and those who do not. When you use this freedom to define your identity, you are in a certain measure differentiating yourself from those who receive their identity by inheritance. It is then a small move to the claim that the inherited forms of membership discriminate against the new identities, since they exert an unfair pressure to conform. There arises a new and virulent condemnation of our old identity and an attempt to suppress it.

The culture wars confirm the last statement. Social media accounts are silenced and suppressed when any voice counters the identity politics narrative. Swarms of cultural repudiators descend on anyone who doesn’t affirm their chosen reality bombarding them with vitriol. At a minimum the voices of cultural avowal are upbraided by SJWs who, appropriating the words of Jesus, condemn the voices for “judging” and “not loving”. But often, the cultural war is taken to a heightened level.
“Attack and destroy!” is the battle cry against anyone who veers from the political narrative sanctioned by their political overlords. And so, there is character assassination and doxing and worse meant to hamstring, cripple and harm the ‘enemies’ of the “culture of repudiation” warriors. The self-created with self-endowed authority demand that you affirm their creation and their authority. There is a price to pay if you don’t.

What is not taken into account by the cultural repudiators is that the human race has been paying another price, an enormous price, for its descent into self-creation and self-affirmation. Identity Politics, in the form of the Serpent, was right there at the beginning of the human race. The offer on the table: if you eat this you can be like God and own your identity; you can be your own person and not be tied to some outside authority; you can become self-logos. Once the ‘apple’ of self-realization was taken from the hand of the Identity Politics purveyor, problems and misery began for mankind. Self-creation and self-authority would go on to create vulnerability, isolation, and a denigration of the image of God. The quest for power and the search for group identity and dignity also began in the Garden. The product of Garden-variety Identity Politics can be seen today in the Pride Parade – the in-your-face anti-God perpetuated rite of cultural repudiation.

Since the Garden, Identity Politics went on to crawl its way down through the centuries to affirm all takers in their narcissism and to get them to crawl on their bellies for affirmation and fostering a brood of snakes. These snakes offered mistaken identities in the form of self-realization.

Consider this passage from Polish philosopher and historian Leszek Kolakowski’s essay On the So-Called Crisis of Christianity:

Christianity is thus the awareness of our weakness and misery, and it useless to argue that there exists or could exist a “Promethean Christianity,” that is that Christian faith could be reconciled with hope for self-salvation. Two great ideas of the nineteenth century which, despite all that separates them, perfectly embodied this Promethean expectation –those of Marx and of Nietzsche – were anti-Christian in their roots, and not as a result of accidental historic circumstance. Nietzsche’s’ hatred of Christianity and of Jesus was a natural consequence of his belief in the unlimited possibility of mankind’s self-creation. Nietzsche knew that Christianity is the awareness of our weakness, and he was right. Marx knew this too, and from the Hegelians, he took over and transformed the philosophy (more Fictean than Hegelian) of self-creation and futuristic orientation. He came to believe that the collective Prometheus of the future would reach a state which his thought and action would be indistinguishable and in which even “atheism” would lose its reason for existence, since people’s self-affirmation would be entirely “positive”, not negatively dependent on the negation of God.

The Progressive Element, those with Promethean Expectation, do not embrace God. The Democrat party, its enabler, booed God at the 2016 convention. Together they embrace the ideologies espoused by Nietzsche and Marx. The words of Jesus are used by the Progressive Element as a tagline for behaviors they want justified for someone they deem marginalized.

Man, as the principle cause and logos of the universe, creates his own values. Thus, the religion of humanity. Secular humanitarianism is the tie that binds the Progressive Element: atheists, agnostics, deists, social Darwinists and those who buy into sentimental Christianity for the sake of progress. The creation of man-as-logos values produces a querulous society of competing values, hence the culture wars. Amorphous and relativistic values are promoted under the high-sounding and ambiguous rubric of “social justice”. Individualism is turned inward toward self-centered anodyne interest to be protected by “rights”. Progressivism inverts The Second Commandment: “love me as you love yourself”. Lost in Self-Logos

The Progressive Element promotes another authority: the self as authorized, ID’d and dispensed by them. It is dedicated to the proposition that all behaviors are equal, that the ends justify the means, and that power is truth. It lambasts authoritarianism while acting in full authoritarian manner against anyone who wants to see the ring of power destroyed under their all-seeing eye.

If you want to read about the nefarious characteristics of the Progressive Element, I recommend reading C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy. The antagonist Weston (representing Western Civilization?) is a rationalist, scientist and secular humanist, who rejects God and any other form of knowledge outside science. He plots to create a Nietzschean-type super man race. His machinations turn him into a beast. Later, as becomes ever more possessed by the devil, he is identified in the story as the “Un-Man”. The Progressive Element aligned with dark forces is That Hideous Strength.

Or, for a historical take of the Progressive Element’s characteristics, one could read the Book of Daniel. The scribe Daniel records accounts of beastly kingdoms that were opposed to God and to His authority. The rulers self-ID’d as gods.

Or, you can watch the Pride Parade and witness the “dignity” of degeneracy and dehumanization of those making the case of mistaken identity. God does not ID his created beings as homosexual, perverse creatures. God IDs them – all of us – in His own image.

 

 

As with obtaining a Real ID, one has to submit their identity to a higher authority to obtain the rights and privileges the authority grants. Submitting a false ID is against the law. And, one could not submit their documented identification to the federal and state government and claim to feel like someone else. Emotional identity is not who you are. It is only a part of who of you are. One’s identity is a composite of the whole person and affirmed by an outside reference point. But the world rejects outside reference points as authoritarian and God-like. The Progressive Element has a significant problem with authority.

My identity is referenced or ‘sync’d’ with my relationship to the Highest Authority and with my relationships of those who also submit to the Highest Authority. I was reminded of this again today, Pentecost Sunday. The Holy Spirt was sent to indwell all believers of all nations, stamping their IDs “in Christ” and “located in the Kingdom of God”. The Holy Spirit was and is given as a pledge or seal (Eph. 1:14) of an inheritance – another reminder of my ID in as a child of God. Those in the world want to stamp their IDs with “self-appointed authority”.

Because of the coming inheritance I want to make sure all my documents are in order.

Intersectional in All the Right Ways

Merriam-Webster’s Definition of intersectionality

: the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.

I am intersectionality challenged. I am a white woman who was born into a lower middle-class family. I have not chosen a gay lifestyle. I haven’t experienced racism; I may have experienced sexism but I wasn’t looking for it. I don’t think I qualify, as a white who was only given a Christian heritage and a work ethic and who has worked all her life to be successful, to be a victim of classism. Maybe next year it will all come together for me and then I can claim to be marginalized and dip into the slush fund of rights. I am already being marginalized for not being gay affirming. And hated by some presidential candidate wannabes for being capitalism affirming and pro-life.

Who is the most oppressed? That hotly contested matter was solved when intersectionality was given life. The Frankenstein monster was created by a mad critical race theory scientist in her ivory tower laboratory. The monster was stitched together from several kinds of oppressed bodies. “Behold! It’s alive!” The townsfolk are terrified.

The monster was created to promote social and political equity, according to its creator. Of course, the opposite effect occurs. Claiming layers of victimhood is the means to claim layers of power over others (e.g., racial, gender and diversity quotas; affirmative action; Title IX abuse). The townsfolk are terrified.

I am intersectionality challenged. But for now, I’ll do what I have to do come hell or high water or a Frankenstein SJW roaming the village streets.

Every day I encounter someone doing what they have to do. Just this morning there was a woman, a mother of six children, working the checkout at the grocery store. She mentioned to another customer that she had worked to eleven the night before and then they called her in to work at six this morning. Someone had called in sick. She took it in stride.

Doing what you have to do is not glamorous. It doesn’t put you on TV (unless you are featured on Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs and Somebody’s Gotta Do It). There are folks who do what is required regardless of their skin color or gender or social status. Day in and day out people do what they have to do in the context of the randomness of life. They don’t label themselves as “oppressed” or “intersectional”. They make demands on themselves and not on society. They don’t submit to the Groupthink of the victim class. Because of this, they are not featured on the main stream media. Their lives are matter of fact and routine. Their stories don’t fit the narrative talking points of talking heads.

Potato Harvest – Jean-Francois Millet

Here’s one prime example of positive intersectionality within the Kingdom of God on earth. A father and mother raising children, a family connected with each other and to God and to their church and to the community is horizontal and vertical intersectionality. The hurting and oppressed are addressed within this intersectionality. Christians are mandated to “be steadfast, immovable and always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that their work in the Lord is not in vain”. Christians don’t let life run roughshod over them. They actively infuse life with good.

Status, whether as victim or as privileged, is not found in the Kingdom of God. The poor were not called victims by Jesus. The poor were ennobled by his words. Jesus changed their focus. James and John, the sons of thunder, were rebuked by the Lord for wanting special status in his kingdom. Jesus changed their focus. Jesus was not about to create any Frankenstein monsters on his watch. Those who are poor in spirit have kingdom status.

As someone in the kingdom “Do what you have to do” continues to be my mantra, even when tomorrow looks like last Monday and like the Monday before that. And that makes me intersectional in all the right ways.

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Thomas Sowell is someone who could be labeled “intersectional” by definition. Yet, he is defined by and revered for his long scholarly career as an economist and as a common-sense conservative.

As for bad luck, there were years of that, too. But I learned a lot from that bad luck, so I am not sure that it was all bad luck in the long run.

-Thomas Sowell

You Don’t Need a Ph.D. to Help Your Child Get an Education

Thomas Sowell Biography

Coming Up Short

Two TV programs that I watch when I can: Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer and The Profit with Marcus Lemonis. I watch these programs from the perspective of a former business partner in a multi-million dollar enterprise and as a follower of Jesus. I watch them because they provide insight into human nature and the nature of rescue. (Blessedly, there are no Progressive Element talking points (race equality, gender equality, wage equality, etc.) in these programs. The only politics involved are the underlying business relationships of the owners, managers and employees.)

A different bar is presented during each hourly segment of Bar Rescue. If one were to watch Bar Rescue over many episodes, one would see that each new scenario has many of the same old problems. And one would hear that the owners are deep in debt. In many cases the owners have invested their life savings, their home’s equity and their retirement funds to keep the failing business afloat. Because of bad assumptions and broken processes and botched relationships the heavily-invested owners will not only lose their business in a matter of months, if not weeks, they will also lose everything invested. So, they agree “to pull back the doors, bust open the books, and make a call for help—to Bar Rescue.

Enter Bar Rescue’s Taffer. He is invited to assess the failing bar. My own assessment gathered from my many viewings of the program: the owners continue to do the same thing over and over hoping for a different result.

At the show’s opening Taffer is shown sitting in a car with two professionals, typically an experienced mixologist and a skilled chef. They view the bar via hidden cameras. They talk about what they see. Here’s a typical recounting of what they view from the car:

The bar’s name recognition is off. The signage is uninviting and confusing. The marketing is off and even off-putting. The signage is more of a liability than an asset.

The bar is chaotic. The employees have no direction and no constraints. The bartenders are drinking and over-pouring away the profits. Some of them sit at the bar. Others party with the customers. In one episode a woman, one of three equal partners, sits at the end of the bar every night smoking and drinking. She told Taffer that she thought that’s what her partners wanted.

The owners and managers appear indifferent and helpless and overwhelmed as to what is going on before their very eyes.

Relationships, at home and in the business, are dysfunctional. Denial and finger-pointing create more distance between partners. Employees and managers verbally fight in front of customers. The alcohol in their systems adds to the bar-family drama and acrimony.

Customers are given horrible beyond-expiration-dated food. The kitchen is unsanitary or unusable. The cook, often a novice, struggles to make decent food. The bar waitresses serve their customers slop.

As a “food and beverage industry consultant specializing in nightclubs, bars, and pubs”, Taffer becomes riled up as he watches. He storms into the bar and confronts the owners about what he saw. And what he saw was what has been right in front of the owner’s eyes for months.

Taffer, in a confrontational style, points out to the owners what he just witnessed via the hidden cameras. He makes “them face reality”: “nobody is being a manager!”; “It looks like the blind leading the blind!” In response, the bar’s owners usually become defensive and deny doing anything to create the situation. They deflect responsibility by acting as if they deserve better treatment from Taffer. They hold a sense of entitlement but not a sense of responsibility.

The staff confirms to Taffer what has been going on in the bar. He encounters employees who are conscientious and desire step-up management. And there are others who make excuses for their behavior after being caught on camera. The owners and managers are no different. Though the bar is obviously failing before their eyes, their pride is the resistance to accepting responsibility for the obvious failure. They balk at personal change. Taffer makes the reality of their dysfunction clear with a stress test: “If you can’t manage an empty bar, how will you manage when it’s filled?!”

After some initial training of the bartenders and the cook, Taffer invites in a crowd to see how the bar functions. By overwhelming the bar with customers, the test reveals to the staff that they cannot handle the level of business they need to succeed to meet monthly expenses, including employee paychecks, let alone be profitable.

Though the bar had opened successfully years before and brought in a stream of revenue, lack of good business practices and an “Anything Goes” mentality brought the bar to the brink of bankruptcy. Taffer opens the books. The bar’s revenue is less than half of what it was at the beginning. The heavily invested owners are about to lose their homes, their retirement and more.

Taffer talks to the owners one on one. He asks about the bar’s early years. With empathy he addresses issues both business and personal. Getting the business’s underlying relationships in order is a priority. Dysfunction has created the chaos and mounting losses. Regarding the unpaid staff, Taffer tells the owners “When you own a business you need to give the employees a better life.” Taffer seeks to light a fire under the owners/entrepreneurs. He offers a new vision and a new bar design with new tools. He offers hope for the bar’s turnaround.

“Let’s get to work!” Taffer tells the bar staff. The two experts are brought in to train the staff. The mixologist trains the bartenders in making properly poured cocktails. The chef trains the cook how to make delicious bar food. After the bar is rehabbed, Taffer presents the new look to the anxious staff. They are overwhelmed by the change. The bar’s signage is inviting and brand declarative. (Sometimes a new name is required despite the owners balking.)  Renewed and revived, they gear up for a new opening of the bar.

The opening is flooded with guests. The processes begin to work as they should. Taffer had told the staff, countering their assumptions, “The guests don’t want cocktails, they want the experience.” The experience begins to happen for the guests. The bar appears ready for success. Taffer leaves after many hugs and the owners saying “Thank you.”

 

For the sake of brevity, I’ll sum up what I see of human nature and the nature of rescue from both reality TV shows.  But first, some background on The Profit.

Marcus Lemonis is presented with applications from failing business (some 44,000 per Inc.com). When he picks a company, he considers it as a possible investment opportunity. “My ultimate goal is to make a reasonable return,” he says. “If I can average 15 to 18 percent on my money, I’m happy.

The Inc. com web article Marcus Lemonis: The Way of the Profit starts with this:

Both on screen and off, Marcus Lemonis is the king of turning around failing small businesses. But his obsession with fixing companies comes at a price.

And, later in the article we learn of Marcus’ and the viewer’s perspective:

“In most cases, the people who apply to get on the show are really in need of more than just financial help,” Lemonis says gently, and when he offers more, as he often does–by calling out a bully boss or defending an overworked and underappreciated employee–that’s when viewers might see parallels with Dr. Phil or even the Dog Whisperer. A lot can happen in those 40 unscripted minutes.

 

Where Bar Rescue presents a consultant-rescuer, The Profit presents an investor-rescuer. Both men must deal with the underlying issues that negatively affect a business. Both offer retooling and reimaging the business. Both encounter a wall of resistance to change. Pride, denial and the owner’s excuse “we’ve always done it this way” impede the business. The consultant and the investor challenge the assumptions, the habits and the lack of accountability they find. The business will not grow and, worse, it may fail completely if their advice is not taken.

Both offer a rescue from the way things are for the heavily invested and the deeply in debt. As Taffer said on one occasion, “We need to take a different path.” Both men give stern warnings about the business’s state of affairs. They each point to the wall of resistance and to the wall of reality.

For both the consultant and the investor, the business’s outcome becomes personal. People’s lives and their welfare are at stake. The business is an extension of the owner’s personal failure or his success.

Both men command respect. They speak with strong self-assured voices. And both are empathetic to the owner’s plight, especially as it concerns relationships that have soured. Their combined benevolent authority and considerate empathy bring about change in the businesses they rescue.

 

Human nature: Man is often antagonistic to personal change. Man will point to the circumstances and/or others as the problem. Man has blind spots. Man’s pride keeps him from seeing what is right before his own eyes. Man often refuses to communicate his shortcomings wanting to appear in control of himself as things he cares for spin out of control. Man resents being told he is going down the wrong path and that he has come up short. Man is often lazy and seeks the minimum of effort to correct what is wrong. Man invests heavily in himself as the captain of his fate. Yet, his Titanic ego doesn’t let him see the icebergs until it is almost too late.

 

Rescue: An authoritarian voice is required. There are those third-party consultants and investors with years of experience who can show a man the way to succeed. They are able to see things as they are without emotional attachment.

Rescue requires turning around and taking a new path. Rescue requires meekness. Rescue requires learning new habits and processes. Rescue requires facing reality and throwing away assumptions based on unreality. Rescue requires a man taking responsibility for his actions. Rescue requires a man seeing he has come up short and seeking the advice to fill up what was lacking in himself.

 

 

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One very clear dynamic I see in both programs: employees want to be part of something successful and worthy of their effort. They gain a sense of dignity when they invest themselves in things that they deem profitable to their well-being, to their self-esteem and to other’s well-being. They want to tie their wagons to owners/managers who are success bound and who are both firmly directive and also have good human relations skills such that make them able to convey direction. They desire managers and bosses who are empathetic when it is called for. Employees desire training to improve their skills, to achieve success personally.

Employees want to see themselves involved in something much higher than a bottom line. The owners/managers must evoke a vision that dignifies and elevates the work being done, especially in light of the customer. Work must be all-around humanizing.

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For those of you who know they have come up short of the glory of God and have put their trust in the One True Authoritative and Empathetic Counselor Jesus, you can rejoice in “the proper goal of your faith – namely, the rescue of your lives. 1 Peter 1:8-9

“Let’s get to work!”