20/20 Observations

The following are some brief observations to consider for this election cycle. I offer my observations followed by observations (in bold) made by black American economist Thomas Sowell. Sowell, who turned 90 this past June, has had a lifetime to reflect and comment on issues economic, social and, political. I introduced this prolific author in a recent post Perspectives on Race Relations.

Consider white suburban women. They sit on their patios sipping chardonnay while watching illegal immigrants landscape their property. They chat each other up about yoga class, manicures and, vacationing in Cozumel. They prattle on about how proud they are of their children becoming socially aware in school and about how uncaring people are when it comes to climate change, immigration, gender issues, income inequality and, black lives. The dilettante’s conversation turns to their voting for Obama’s handmaiden – the Progressive black faux-nurse who never had a patient or held a full-time job in her life. They voted for her because the nurse-in-the-political-theater-sense-only wants healthcare for all and everyone should suck on government teat. For the onus to make the world a better place should be on everyone and not just on them. Like their candidate, they do not have the ‘patients’. They have yard signs and votes and garden parties.

These woke women want you to notice that they are riding the wave of wokeness:

That sign and the Lauren Underwood For Congress sign on their front yard confirms how much these champagne socialists care.

Some of the most vocal critics of the way things are being done are people who have done nothing themselves, and whose only contributions to society are their complaints and moral exhibitionism.

Although the big word on the left is ‘compassion,’ the big agenda on the left is dependency.

Liberals love to say things like, “We’re just asking everyone to pay their fair share.” But government is not about asking. It is about telling. The difference is fundamental. It is the difference between making love and being raped, between working for a living and being a slave. The Internal Revenue service is not asking anybody to do anything. It confiscates your assets and puts you behind bars if you don’t pay.

Consider the college professors ensconced in their ivory towers. They dole out ad nauseum their ideology – Marxism, anti-capitalism, gender theory, critical race theory, etc.- and suffer none of the consequences for what they dole out.

Apparently, there are enough sheep-like parents these days to let “experts” take control of their children at a critical juncture in their lives. But these “experts” suffer no consequences if their bright ideas lead some young person into disaster. It is the parent who will be left to pick up the pieces.

The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore, we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.

Too often what are called “educated” people are simply people who have been sheltered from reality for years in ivy-covered buildings. Those whose whole careers have been spent in ivy-colored buildings, insulated by tenure, can remain adolescents on into their golden retirement years.

Ours may become the first civilization destroyed, not by the power of our enemies, but by the ignorance of our teachers and the dangerous nonsense they are teaching our children. In an age of artificial intelligence, they are creating artificial stupidity.

Not since the days of the Hitler Youth have young people been subjected to more propaganda on more politically correct issues. At one time, educators boasted that their role was not to teach students what to think but how to think. Today, their role is far too often to teach students what to think on everything from immigration to global warming to the new sacred trinity of ‘race, class and gender.’

Intellect is not wisdom.

Consider the Democrat politicians and their apparatchiks. These demagogues assume a moral monopoly where one is either in or out of that monopoly. For them, there is no marketplace of ideas, only the sound of their voice, as in “We have to do the work!”

They invoke the conjuring word “science” with any descriptor to produce hysteria and conformity to their demands. “Medical science” is used to produce fealty to the Democrat governors and mayors and their “public health crisis” mandates. Consider the mandates a social experiment in controlling the population.

“Climate science” was used by apparatchik Ocasio-Cortez. She has informed us that “the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change”. Another apparatchik, a Democrat governor, invoked “social science” by declaring “racism” a public health crisis. She has mandated that all state employees undergo “implicit bias training,” in order to “eradicate and prevent discrimination and racial inequity” because the “Implicit, unconscious bias exists within each of us”. The Democrat politicians and their apparatchiks have no problem projecting bad motives onto others, thereby giving their halos renewed luster.

The voice of the party, Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, fresh from a maskless blowout during an illegal salon visit, has no problem upbraiding the president after his COVID diagnosis, calling his behavior a “brazen invitation for something like this to happen”. No hypocrisy here. She is a Democrat, after all. And besides, she is on the side of “science”:Simple Science says “Do what I say! (Not what I do!)”

To wipe away any tarnishing responsibility clinging to their hoary haloes and hacked hard drives, Democrats obfuscate and deflect: “People will do what they do” and “What difference at this point does it make?” They assume no responsibility or complicity for their actions; they receive no consequences for their actions.

Liberals seem to assume that, if you don’t believe in their particular political solutions, then you don’t really care about the people that they claim to want to help.

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong. Yet that is what at least half of the bright ideas of the political left amount to.

It is amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them. Using this kind of reasoning, you can believe or not believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic.

So many idealistic political movements for a better world have ended in mass-murdering dictatorships. Giving leaders enough power to create ‘social justice’ is giving them enough power to destroy all justice, all freedom, and all human dignity.

The more people who are dependent on government handouts, the more votes the left can depend on for an ever-expanding welfare state.

Since this is an era when many people are concerned about ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice,’ what is your ‘fair share’ of what someone else has worked for?”

All the political angst and moral melodrama about getting ‘the rich’ to pay ‘their fair share’ is part of a big charade. This is not about economics; it is about politics.

In liberal logic, if life is unfair then the answer is to turn more tax money over to politicians, to spend in ways that will increase their chances of getting reelected.

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.

The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy.

Ronald Reagan had a vision of America. Barack Obama has a vision of Barack Obama.

Whether Barack Obama is simply incompetent as president or has some hidden agenda to undermine this country, at home and abroad, he has nearly everything he needs to ruin America, including a fool for a vice president.

Consider the celebrity: “I just think COVID is God’s gift to the left,” the Academy Award winner [Jane Fonda] said, laughing after she made the remark. 

No response required.

Consider the millennial Messiahs – the perpetual student, the Woke graduate student, those that fail to launch, the whiners, the “safe space” denizens, the SJWs and, the societal parasites. Each, having arrived on the scene less than forty years ago, presume to tell us how to save the world. But first, they must save themselves by avoiding responsibility through socialism. Their revolutionary zeal is stoked by Starbucks, their hubris by social media. (How did the world ever function without them?)

Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.

For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before.

There is much discussion of the haves and the have-nots, but very little discussion of the doers and the do-nots, those who contribute and those who merely take.

Too much of what is called ‘education’ is little more than an expensive isolation from reality.

Mystical references to society and its programs to help may warm the hearts of the gullible but what it really means is putting more power in the hands of bureaucrats.

Our schools and colleges are turning out people who cannot feel fulfilled unless they are telling other people what to do.

The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.

If facts, logic, and scientific procedures are all just arbitrarily “socially constructed” notions, then all that is left is consensus–more specifically peer consensus, the kind of consensus that matters to adolescents or to many among the intelligentsia.

Consider the main-stream media, the “if it bleeds it leads” media, with its ego-centric talking heads who blather on with their fellow traveler talking points. These bloviating oracles relay what the Leftist gods want you to know and to believe. Just give them your palm (with the remote) and they will tell how to think and feel and who are the victims and who are the oppressors and, who to love and who to hate.

They will tell you that China has no ill intent towards the U.S. (especially with regard to basketball sneakers) as they salivate over China’s social behavior monitoring. They will tell you “Orange Man bad”; “Orange Man” is responsible for the wildfires and climate change; “Orange Man” is responsible for the rioting in Portland, Seattle and, elsewhere; “Orange Man” is responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. (absolving China of any complicity in spread of the Wuhan Red Death). They want you to fear Orange Man. In their political math (2 + 2 = 5) They will pronounce judgement on the “Orange Man” as “complicit” in a kidnapping attempt. Lies, hyperbole and sensationalism are the motivators they use to keep you coming back.

Out of their crystal toilet bowls come dire warnings: “Racism is a public health crisis”, “Climate change is a public health crisis”, (and next week?) “Gun owners are a public health crisis” (and, the following week) “Christians and Jews are a public health crisis.”

When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.

There are few modest talents so richly rewarded — especially in politics and the media — as the ability to portray parasites as victims, and portray demands for preferential treatment as struggles for equal rights.

One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidize those who refuse to produce, and canonize those who complain.

The New York Times’ long-standing motto, “All the News That’s Fit to Print” should be changed to reflect today’s reality: “Manufacturing News to Fit an Ideology.

Some things are believed because they are demonstrably true, but many other things are believed simply because they have been asserted repeatedly and repetition has been accepted as a substitute for evidence.

If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.

Are you OK with the ends-justifying-the-means politicians? Are you OK with truth being whatever serves the revolution, as calling the rioting in Portland and Seattle “mostly peaceful protests”? Are you OK with injustice – lawlessness, releasing violent predatory criminals, the burning and looting and razing – thinking that the mythical phoenix of Justice will rise from the ashes? Are you OK with abortion and human beings being disposed of? Are you OK with class wars and race wars and constant societal division and unrest? Are you OK with people telling what to do and how to live? If so, then you will vote for Democrats and for the devils you think you know.

Observe:

“Where I come out as a businessman, I will take the devil I know over the devil I don’t know anytime of the week,” BET founder Robert Johnson said of the presidential race

“I know what President Trump has done and what he’s said he will do. I don’t know what Vice President Biden has said he will do other than masks, listen to the scientists,” the 74-year-old Johnson said. He suggested the coronavirus response should weigh the tradeoffs of “pandemic safety” versus “economy growth.” 

“I would rather know who I’m going to deal with in the White House. I’m going to know what regulatory decisions they’re going to make. What fiscal policy decisions, what monetary policies they’re going to make than to be taking a chance, particularly when you have the turbulence of a pandemic,” said Johnson, who in the past has been complimentary of Trump’s business-centric policies.

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. ~Abraham Lincoln~

Added 10-13-20:

Added 10-15-20:

“I am a left-leaning New York City public defender who voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries and Hillary Clinton in the general election. I have never voted for a Republican candidate. I chose my career because I wanted to help those most defenseless in our society: indigent people accused and convicted of crimes and facing the awesome power of the state. 

Until I saw the catastrophic effects that the lockdowns were having on the very people I sought to help…”

Lockdowners Speak with Privilege, and Contempt for the Poor and the Working Class.

In a radio interview discussing her article, Ms. Younes, a lifelong Democrat, said she is voting for Trump based on the COVID-19 restrictions the Biden/Harris ticket would impose if elected.

I Approve This Message

In my last post I mentioned that I voted early. There are issues of national and local importance on the ballot. I couldn’t wait to cast my votes. Here’s why.

God help us if the incoherent and rambling Joe Biden wins the presidency. I am not alone in my concern of a Joe Biden presidency:

“… no 77-year-old white man from Delaware has the right, authority or rationale to question my blackness or the blackness of millions of Americans exercising our God-given right to be free and exercise our constitutionally granted power to vote for whomever we want, even if they are Republican.”

Joe Biden questions my blackness one moment, defends racist 1994 crime bill the next

“The black vote will be the swing vote this year. And right now, it’s looking like it’s Joe Biden’s for the taking. This is despite Biden’s history, which is riddled with policies that have historically and devastatingly disenfranchised African Americans.”

How Trump – not Biden – has helped black lives matter

Biden has stated that as president he would enforce a national mask mandate. He also stated that he would raise taxes. Behind these statements is the predictable and reprehensible Democrat platform of controlling people and raising taxes. For Democrats, individual liberties are an impediment to building the progressive welfare state. Biden has his own impediments.

I don’t see Biden finishing the four-year term. He may resign for health reasons or because of his son Hunter and his dealings with foreign nations or because his synapses may completely stop firing. The extreme far-left ComaLol Harris would then become president. Our country will not survive the moral narcissism and value-meanderings of such politicians.

My vote was not based on rhetoric but on record: 47 years of swamp building vs. 47 months of retooling America; the economic stagnation of the Obama/Biden years and the stunning economic boon of the last four.

I voted on the macro-issue of the presidency and the nation’s well-being. I voted against the authoritarian Democrats and their everything-goes-anything-goes Progressive agenda. I voted to continue the good that started with the 2016 election – economic rebound, historic low unemployment, judges who abide by the Constitution, Black Americans being respected and not talked down to and, the peace efforts in North Korea and the Middle East.

On the micro level, I voted against the local Progressive Democratic candidates who promote socialism in the form of healthcare and are in bed with Mike Madigan “the man behind the fiscal fiasco in Illinois”. What is happening in Illinois should be a stark warning to Americans of what will happen if Democrats are elected on a macro level. Elections have consequences.

Also on the ballot was the proposed amendment to the Illinois constitution. The amendment would change the state’s tax structure by removing the current flat rate provisions and changing it to allow a progressive income tax.

There is a TV commercial running constantly In Illinois. It promotes the amendment as a “Fair Tax”. The Orwellian Newspeak “Fair Tax” ad should be warning enough that what it is being sold is deceitful: the rich will be taxed more and that most Illinoisans will have lower taxes as a result. But, once a graduated tax is in place, Illinois pols – Democrats – will undoubtedly move the tax brackets down to collect revenue. People are leaving Illinois in droves now. The rich will leave when their taxes go up. They will take their business and jobs elsewhere. Soon, I will retire and move to Tennessee. Who pays the bills then? Whoever is left in Illinois.

The amendment is being touted as a means to fix Illinois’ disastrous fiscal mess. The Democrats in charge refuse to amend the constitution to fix the pension crisis. They want taxpayers to fix the problem they created and refuse to remedy. Will you receive an annual pension of over $100k? I won’t. I struggle to finance my own retirement after taxes.

More than 19,000 Illinois government retirees receive pensions over $100K

Do you pay Federal income tax? 75.5 million people in calendar year 2020 did not. Is any of this fair?

(There is a glaring omission to what is pushed as “social justice” today: When a person provides for him or herself and for their family and also helps their neighbor, they take the burden off of society and government for their financial and emotional well-being and the well-being of others. This is a socially just use of one’s income.)

I voted “NO” on the proposed amendment. Reasons for my “NO” vote are included in the links below:

Key Reasons the Income Tax Hike Amendment is Bad for Illinois.

[Chicago Tribune] Closing Arguments, Part One: Why voters should reject the Pritzker Tax

[Chicago Tribune] Editorial: Closing Arguments, Part Two: If you support the ‘Pritzker Tax,’ this one’s for you

[Chicago Tribune] Closing Arguments, Part Three: Drs. Pritzker and Madigan, your patient is seriously ill. The ‘fair tax’ is no cure.

God help us to defeat the Hideous Strength of Progressivism that deigns to recreate man in its own image and will do so by any means necessary.

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

Added 9-29-20:

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

A Bad Place

The assumption that spending more of the taxpayer’s money will make things better has survived all kinds of evidence that it has made things worse. The black family- which survived slavery, discrimination, poverty, wars and depressions- began to come apart as the federal government moved in with its well-financed programs to “help.” Thomas Sowell

“We’re creating a large number of social misfits in the inner city which will prey on the larger community later on.” PBS Documentary about the Robert Taylor Homes

Your housing unit is one of 4,415 units in one of 28 identical 16-story buildings. The buildings stretch for two miles, north to south, in Chicago’s “black belt”. The site was selected by progressive-minded CHA and a Chicago City council member. You are one of 27000 residents in “The Projects”. You are poor. You are a government project.

The following video, the 1982 PBS Documentary about the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago, offers an historical apolitical report of public housing flagged as urban renewal. You will want to watch the whole video to create your own assessment. I offer mine below.

There are those who see a good solution to a social problem. So, with untethered optimism and taxpayer dollars, they throw big money at the problem only for the recipients to receive the horrific unintended consequences: life in a bad place – dystopia.

There is the idea that Progressivism, with its humanist “Great Society” and “War on Poverty” rhetoric, equals empathy, equality and justice. Yet, the residents of “The Projects” once put in their place, endured the indifference of vending machine bureaucracy. They shared equally the human misery, squalor, degradation and, overcrowding of “The Projects”. They created their own justice within “their own little world”.

Welfare empathy means giving to, not suffering with. It means distancing policy and policy makers from the impoverished and hurting. It means one-on-one charity is to be replaced with the Marxist ideal of redistribution. Jesus’ words commanding us to love our neighbor as we love our self is the direct opposite of Marxism. Jesus gave us an example of a neighbor in his parable. The neighbor, the Good Samaritan, comes alongside to help the stricken man. The Samaritan follows through, ensuring the man’s wellbeing.

Government throwing money at problems does not create good. Government cannot create good. That is the work of individuals.

As one can see, government welfare is about the “containment” of a problem – people. Hence, the Robert Taylor Homes -“A Little World of Their Own”. (containment: see also COVID-19 lockdown; social distancing, the shuttering of businesses for months on end)

The welfare system is not about the poor. It is about making elites look good and feel good about themselves. It is about virtue signaling, votes and power.

The welfare state promotes infantilism, as people transfer responsibility onto the ‘guardian’ state to solve problems, social and personal. A reliance on the state is created. The state is expected to nurse the dependent to a happy and satisfied state. Adjunct to such dependence is the dissatisfaction with the state, as the state cannot solve social and personal problems or create happiness. So comes the whining, protests, riots and, destruction – reactions of unhappy children.

Welfare, as depicted, destroys human dignity. When people are penned in, fed from the welfare trough and, receive more money for giving birth to out-of-wedlock children – what does that do to a person’s dignity? What does a reinforced dehumanized existence do to one’s soul?

Individuals chose, by their own human agency, to submit themselves to the projects. They chose to bring up children, generations, within the projects and welfare. If they are victims, they were victims of their own choices.

You can see for yourself. Public housing does not foster dignity, initiative and stewardship as does private ownership. Stewardship is mankind’s vocation as stated in Genesis Chapter 1:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

 

How much of the rioting, looting and destruction going on today is the result of the welfare system which created “social misfits”? How much of what is now called “social justice” was born out of the “The Projects” where lawless gangs, drug dealers and, thugs practiced street-justice?

The last Robert Taylor building was demolished in October 2006. How much of that bad place is still housed in the one-time contained and marginalized 27,000 residents of “The Projects” and their descendants?

Sam Castan, “Modern Design for a City Ghetto,” Look, 21 Sept. 1965

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.

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.

Living Out of Context

 

A recent Twitter conversation offers some insight into the thinking of many.

Background: a presidential candidate presents himself as Christian and gay. A Twitter post highlighting this candidate was replied to by a well-known religious figure (XYZ). The reply stated unequivocally that you cannot be Christian and gay. (I am purposely leaving out the names (and politics) involved because there is a greater issue going on here. Politics adds another level of misanthropy to an already contentious and serious issue lurking beneath.)

In a reply to XYZ’s censuring Twitter post, a gay man (rainbow flag tagged) replied:

 “Jesus NEVER SAID ONE WORD about being gay He did however warn us about false prophets – like XYZ.”

After reading many similar replies over the past two years the selective blind-men and the elephant thinking behind such responses goes something like this: Jesus the Progressive revolutionary showed up one day to bring about change we can believe in. God’s initial project – keeping the Law – was too off-putting and not inclusive. Besides, there are no more animal sacrifices the Law required. Jesus deemed the project a failure. And so, he rejected that plan and began a new one of love, grace and mercy, of inclusion and diversity. To make his point Jesus had to kick some butt, the butt of those who judge and of hypocrites (since man is the measure of all things and feelings are truth). And because of the new radical program imparted by Jesus, Biblical accounts like the account of Sodom and Gomorrah therefore must be revised to fit the new narrative: God’s fire and brimstone judgement was not brought on by the attempted homosexual rape of Lot’s guests but due to people not being welcoming and inclusive. Does this sound familiar?

As I have witnessed time and again, the standard replies from gays and social justice warriors (SJWs) on Twitter (as evidenced above) is that Jesus, as Condemner, did not mention homosexuality and therefore gave it a pass. This way of thinking, of course, is not inclusive (except in revisionist form) of all that happened before Jesus showed up, nor of the whole of Scripture and its narrative of the Enduring Context. These gays and SJWs live out of context.

Though the gospel accounts record Jesus saying that he did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but came to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17), it seems that many today think that Jesus did abolish the Law and the Prophets in effect. They understand the gospels as Jesus freeing people from the letter of the Law and offering a more human (read liberal) way of living apart from the Law. They posit a contrast between the (negative) Jews who sought to please God by keeping the Law and the (positive) Jesus who they believe taught that you can only please God by having faith and love. The law-following Jews, stereotyped, are seen as rigid and obsessed with the Law the many deem antiquated. Jesus is seen as modern, flexible and love obsessed. Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees is brought up as the example of this contrast.

The Pharisees were devout men who sought to keep the letter of the law. Jesus did not upbraid them for doing so. Rather, he challenged their keeping the spirit of the Law, their intentionality. And, it would be wrong to superimpose the understanding of the Law held by the Pharisees onto all Judaism at the time of Jesus. The Pharisees were among several religious groups at that time. Each held their own interpretation of the Law. It would be equally wrong to interpret Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees as his rejection of the Law and his replacing it with love.

When the Pharisees test Jesus “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus summarizes all of the commandments with words from the book of the law, the Torah’s Deuteronomy (6:5): Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. And, from Leviticus (19:18): ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

The gospel writer Matthew, whose account was intended for a Jewish audience, recorded Jesus’ the above encounter with the scribes (Matt. 22:34-40). His record of the Sermon on the mount is all about Jesus infusing the Law and Prophets with its intended meaning: to create a people who would represent the true humanity to the world.

When Jesus says, “You’ve heard that it was said…” Jesus is not contradicting the Torah. Jesus was providing a radical interpretation of its meaning and effect – to produce righteousness and life in his kingdom on earth. Jesus ends his sermon with “Be perfect, therefore, as your father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48)

Like Matthew, the Apostle Paul, a scholar of the law, was keen to present the gospel within the context and continuity of the law and the prophets. He strove to make it clear what the law was intended for and not intended for. Early on Paul was adamant to write that the law was not what declared us righteous or gave us life or the promises of God (Rom. 4:13). He wrote to the church in Galatia in this regard and to admonish them (and Peter’s recent behavior) regarding the Law’s matter of circumcision, Gentile believers and being in the Messiah. He states that his law-keeping heritage is not what produces what is freely offered by the One Who is Faithful to the Law and its promises:

“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.” (Gal. 3:15)

Later in the same passage, he writes of the law’s purpose:

Before this faithfulness arrived, we were kept under guard by the law, in close confinement until the coming faithfulness should be revealed. Thus the law was like a babysitter for us, looking after us until the coming of the Messiah, so that we might be given covenant membership on the basis of faithfulness. (Ga. 3: 23-24)

Earlier, Paul writes of the law, the babysitter, keeping him in line with God’s intention:

Let me explain it like this. Through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with the Messiah. I am, however, alive – but it isn’t me any longer; it’s the Messiah who lives in me. And the life I do still live in the flesh, I live by the faithfulness of God. (Gal. 3: 19-20)

And…

Let me put it like this. As long as the heir is a child, he is no different than a slave –even if, in fact, he is master of everything! He is kept under guardians and stewards until the time set by his father.

When we were children (babysat children), we were kept in “slavery” under the “elements of the world.” But when the fulness of time arrived, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that he might redeem those under the law, so that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Gal. 4: 1-5).

Pauls’ letter to the church at Rome is an explanation of the gospel of Jesus Christ by means of its coherence with and continuity of the Old Testament. Paul writes, as above, that the Law was given to God’s people to shepherd them until an Israelite would one day come and completely obey the perfect law of the Lord (Rom. 5:18). Out of God’s righteousness, his covenant faithfulness, came Jesus, the Messiah, who obeyed his Father perfectly. Pauls’ letter to the church in Rome goes into great detail about the righteousness of God – his faithfulness to the covenants he made, as recorded in the Torah. God’s law would be fulfilled by God’s covenant. The reason God made a covenant with Abraham was to undo the sin of Adam and its effects, as revealed by the law. The law babysat those who received the covenant, keeping them in line with God’s promises until the Faithful One appeared and rescued the world.

 

Returning to the opening conversation, it is important to note that Jesus came to his people Israel. He spoke in the context of what they knew: the law and prophets. He did not speak to pagan issues such as idol worship and homosexuality. The law forbade that behavior. The Jews in Jesus day were well aware of this. Jesus commissioned Paul as “apostle of the gentiles” (Rom. 11:13). Paul did speak to those issues. Maybe that’s why many today reject Paul’s writings and choose an ends-justifying-the-means lawlessness.

In summary, if one hangs their hat on a just few chosen words of Jesus that justifies their worldview, then God’s worldview[i] as recorded in the Law and the Prophets and continued in the New Testament is meaningless to them. They are living out of context, just like the prodigal son.

The Prodigal Son 1888 John Macallan Swan 1847-1910

 

I am reminded of what Grace said at the end of the goings on in C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength:

 

Those who call for Nonsense will find that it comes.”

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[i] We read in Genesis that God created heaven and earth. It was to be a His temple. Images of God – humans – were placed in the temple. Humans were to tend to it. Humans failed. The garden, the temple, became despoiled by sin. The law would not only act as Israel’s guardian but also the guardian of creation. If humans mess up, the creation is hurt.
Abraham was chosen to undo the sin of Adam. To make this happen, God promised him descendants as many as the stars and a tract of land. His descendants would be the caretakers of that smaller garden. Israel failed as the true humanity. They could not keep the law. They went into exile.
A Savior came to rescue the world. The kingdom of God on earth was initiated. The church was founded with the giving of the Holy Spirit into the likes of Peter, fallible humans. The church was created to reveal the true humanity to the world. The image of God would be restored in humans. Humanity and creation are to be redeemed as the church awaits the appearing of the Lord and final redemption.
God dwells with man in the New Heaven and New Earth. The law of the land: justice, righteousness and peace. There will be no, “Jesus NEVER SAID ONE WORD about …” It will be UNDERSTOOD.

 

Good Friday and the Problem of Self-Pity

 

Definition of self-pity

: pity for oneself especially: a self-indulgent dwelling on one’s own sorrows or misfortunes

Evening Melancholy I 1896 – by Edvard Munch

The philosophy of Epicureanism posited by the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC) a few centuries before the birth of Christ offered mankind self-pity with license. Per Epicurus, there was no God or the gods were uninvolved with men and there was no life after death. So, mankind had to make the best of the atoms he was dealt. Man was to do so by avoiding pain and seeking pleasure in the company of like-minded friends. Self-pity could be dealt with in intimate and safe surroundings.

Prior to Epicurus, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and sophist[i] Protagoras (490 BC – c. 420 BC) postulated “Man is the measure of all things.” There were no Universal truths for Protagoras. As Epicurus would later teach, everything to be believed was to come through the senses. Protagoras’ atheism adopted moral relativism as a way to give meaning to a life of self-pity: “What’s true for me may not be true for you…”; “Anything goes…If it feels good, do it” until you die.

“Concerning the gods, I have no means of knowing whether they exist or not, nor of what sort they may be, because of the obscurity of the subject, and the brevity of human life.” – Protagoras

The Stoics[ii], around the same time as Epicurus, posited a grim fatalist outlook. Considering themselves cogs in life’s machinery their response was to lead a virtuous life in spite of “it all”. Materialism and passions were of no interest to them. “No Fear” and apathy towards life’s randomness were the attitudes they wore on their shoulder to appear non-self-pitying. They also advocated for suicide, the ultimate self-pity.

I cite these two Greek philosophers and the Stoic philosophy, because, as it seems to me, the ideals posited by them summarize all of the ensuing humanist philosophies: man is the measure of all things; there is nothing transcendent only naturalistic causes; man operates as a product of animal organism within different cultures; man must create his own meaning; man is logos.

Evident today in modern man’s worldview are philosophies espoused centuries ago. Strains or genealogies of man-as-logos thought has been passed down from the Garden through generations. I recognize the dehumanizing philosophies, those that elevate man to be the center of the universe and also entice him to live in servility to his bodily functions. There is no doubt in my mind that modern man is influenced by these self-pitying based philosophies. Our current politics, especially the politics of the Progressive Element, highlight their invasiveness into modern thought. Below, a recent campaign appeal to self-pity for votes (and a humanist version of Jesus’ “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”):

To anyone who has ever felt different or unloved or not good enough-this is a moment to show you that you matter to all of us. Keep believing in yourself, we love you. Change is coming.

@PeteButtigieg

Around the first century Epicureanism and Stoicism were evident in Greek, Roman and Pagan life. These philosophies gave words to what was inherent in man from his days in the Garden. During the first century these philosophies were already fused with pantheism and the zeal to worship pagan deities. Pagan sacrifices were offered to placate the angry gods posited by philosophers and the temple priests. Such offerings to the angry gods were meant to ensure that the self-pity-self-logos applecart was not overturned. Into that self-reflecting age came a Reflection of Heaven.

During the first century the Apostle Paul wrote “when the fulness of time arrived, God sent his son, born of a woman” to redeem those kept in “slavery” under the “elements of the world” Gal (4:3-4). The self-pitying responses to life were given notice.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, a church embedded with Epicurean thought, about the Israelite’s desert plight. The Israelites displeased God with their self-pitying Epicurean ways:

The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to play. – 1 Cor. 10:7

The self-pity (“God doesn’t care.”; ‘We’re all going to die.”) the Israelites had in Egypt they brought with them into the desert. Their self-pity became a pattern of living: idolatry, immorality, testing God and grumbling.

Epicurus taught of a shared life with friends. Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi about a shared life in the King. He taught a different way of thinking, one not of self-pity, but one centered on the Logos and other-centered. Paul taught about a partnership in the spirit, about fixing your mind on the Messiah, about never acting out of selfish ambition and, about looking “after each other’s best interests, not your own”.

Stoics taught a grim fatalist apathy towards life’s hardships, that one must muddle through bravely without hope. Jesus taught “Blessed are the poor in spirit. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” There was no after life for a stoic. Jesus said, “There is plenty of room to live in my father’s house. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am.

Paul’s epistles explain more: Jesus knew what he had to do to rescue men from self-pity and its consequent self-destruction. He would deny himself and empty himself of all pleasure -glory in the company of his father-and take on the incomprehensible pain of the world. He didn’t blame fate or others for his coming crucifixion. There was no posturing stoicism against unknown odds or self-indulgent dwelling on one’s own sorrows or misfortunes when Jesus asked “My father, if it’s possible –please, please let this cup go away from me! But… not what I want, but what you want.” Love for the father and for his creation was his motivation and his life’s meaning and, his means to bring humankind into the same intimacy he enjoyed with the father.

I have given them the glory which you have given to me, so that they may be one, just as we are one. – John 17: 22

Protagoras taught “Man is the measure of all things.” Paul wrote that King Jesus was the measure of all things.

This is how you should think among yourselves – with the mind that you have because of you belong to the Messiah, Jesus:

Who, though in God’s form, did not

Regard his equality with God

As something to exploit

 

Instead, he emptied himself,

And received the form of a slave,

Being born in the likeness of humans.

And then, having human appearance,

He humbled himself, and became

Obedient even to death,

 

Yes, even the death of the cross.

And so God has greatly exalted him,

And to him in his favor has given

The name which is over all names:

That now at the name of Jesus

That every knee within heaven shall bow—

On earth, too, and under the earth;

And every tongue shall confess

That Jesus, Messiah, is Lord,

To the glory of God, the father.

-Early Christian hymn recorded in Philippians 2

 

 

Both Protagoras and Epicurus taught that death was the end. For them and for many since, there would be no thought of resurrection, only the dust bin of history containing once self-pitying lives lived seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.

Even though first century Judaism (and freaked-out King Herod) was abuzz with talk about the resurrection of the dead, Mary and Martha, (in bouts of self-pity?) appear to have thought that their brother’s death was the end of life as they knew it.

“Master,” said Martha to Jesus, “if only you’d been here! Then my brother wouldn’t have died!

“Master!” Mary said. If only you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died!”

The Resurrection and the Life would have none of this talk. And, he would deal with self-pity.

 

 

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On my dining room table there is a fragrant pot of lilies. The fragrance….is not the smell of death but of resurrection…

 

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[i] The philosophical school of Sophists did not deal in truth, logic, beauty or the transcendent. As Pluralists their teaching was a mix of philosophy, politics, opportunism and entrepreneurship. They were pragmatists who offered their life-counseling services for fee. They were self-help gurus.

 

[ii] Stoics taught that there is no universal truth, that what could be learned was through the senses and experience. The Divinity they believed in was the Logos, or mind. According to the pantheistic Stoics, we all breathed in pneuma, the air of the soul of the universe, the Oversoul. They avoided passion and worldly pleasures and thought the ascetic life ideal. Pleasure was not considered good and pain was not considered evil. Virtue is good and vice evil. Life deals cards, deal with it. Their philosophy can be summed as follows: “Everything happens for the best, and you can usually expect the worst.”; “c’est la vie!”

 

Genealogies of Straw?

 

…If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,

for tomorrow we die.”

1 Cor. 15:32

 

People delight in looking into their genealogy to tell them where they came from and their ancestral background. But, what about the genealogy of our thoughts and our beliefs that are passed down? Continuing with the theme of my previous post, man as logos and centerpiece of the universe, man considers himself left to his own devices and to fend for himself. The “dead are not raised” has been passed down to us. Also passed down, la dolce vita, the Epicurean worldview prevalent today.

The originator of Epicureanism, the Greek philosopher Epicurus, and many others since, decided that God was not good at being God so man must take his place. In terms of the evil man encounters, this thinking is restated in the Epicurean paradox.

Per the Oxford Dictionary, Epicurus (341-270 B.C) was a “Greek philosopher, founder of Epicureanism. His physics is based on Democritus’ theory of a materialist universe composed of indestructible atoms moving in a void, unregulated by divine providence”.

According to several accounts, Epicurus lived and taught a philosophy of the unnoticed good life. He posited that man, a collection of particles he called atoms, would return to the earth when he died. From atoms to atoms you shall return, he postulated. When you are dead you are dead and while you are alive, as Epicurus advocated, seek pleasure and avoid pain.

Epicurus was not a political nor a spiritual man. He was more of a homebody given to a small circle of friends. Per Epicurus, everything to be trusted and believed came through the senses. And so, he deemed that God was remote if at all. And friends were real and to be trusted.

Epicurus also taught that nothing should be believed, except for that which was tested through direct observation and logical deduction – believed via the sensate and reason. Hence, the beginning of the fact/value split so prevalent in man’s thinking today. It is likely that Epicurus formed this worldview when he decided that God was uninvolved and impersonal at best and that he had to fend for himself.

Epicurean thought was embraced by some and passed down through the centuries. The Roman poet Lucretius, a disciple of Epicurus’s teachings and someone who lived about 70 years before Jesus, promoted the “god is angry” meme along with the theory of atomism formulated by Demetrius (460-370 B.C.), who died 29 years before the birth of Epicurus.

The atomic theory of the cosmos in brief: random, unguided ‘atoms’ smash into each other, thereby create the world and life as we know it. Such a hypothesis turned philosophy by Epicurus offered the ‘means’ to do away with a personally involved god and remove human accountability to God. Lucretius went on to tweak Demetrius’ theory.

Demetrius said that atoms do not always go in straight lives but can “swerve”. As such, his philosophy was then able to avoid atomism’s inherent determinism and to allow for man’s free will.

“What was most important in Epicurus’ philosophy of nature was the overall conviction that our life on this earth comes with no strings attached; that there is no Maker whose puppets we are; that there is no script for us to follow and be constrained by; that it is up to us to discover the real constraints which our own nature imposes on us.” ― Epicurus, The Epicurus Reader

Unlike the innocuous passing-on-sex Epicurus, the Romans took Epicureanism to new lows. The name of the Roman Emperor Caligula is associated today with unbridled decadence. Licentiousness continues today as the justification for the avoid-pain-seek-pleasure self.

The Enlightenment furthered Epicurean acceptance. As many began to claim science as the explainer for things being as they are and man as the interpreter of things as they are, the Enlightenment augmented the fact/value split. With science being claimed as the only arbiter of truth and reality, the transcendent was eschewed, as being unreasonable to ponder. Materialism and utilitarian atomism replaced the transcendent and facilitated the self-made man as the imago homo. An honest look around today would reveal that the worldview from the days of Epicurus down through the Enlightenment has been passed down to us.

“It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself.” –Epicurus

As I see it, underlying cultural Marxism, secular humanism, Progressivism and the American Dream is the philosophy of Epicurus: extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption, aka, solipsism. It is the worldview of safe spaces. It is the philosophy behind the Progressive’s push for acceptance of multiculturalism whereby all cultures are deemed equal including the dehumanizing ones so that individual culture has a larger safe space to operate in. The philosophy promotes universal healthcare as another safe space in the form of insurance against financial suffering as paid for by others so one can live an Epicurean lifestyle without pain. It is the worldview of the virtue-signaling relativist social justice warriors – I want a safe space for me to live my life as I see fit so I will serve up my self-justifying, self-righteous viewpoint of high-sounding humanitarianism. Epicureanism is the doctrine of the Religion of Humanity and the paean to mind and matter as savior.

Epicureanism underlies identity politics and individual rights. It promotes a circling of the wagons around your ersatz ‘friends’, your tribe, to protect your values and your territory for further self-satisfaction. It promotes dehumanization with its message that life has no meaning other than what you give it; life is only material and sensate. So, grab yours while you are alive. Out of this dehumanizing process comes the art, music, literature, media and architecture which degrade human existence and the imago dei in humans. But. Modern man, left to his own Epicurean devices, comes up short.

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.

Studdock is told in no uncertain terms that the organization wants his wife Jane to join him. He is ordered to bring her in. With no moral depth and no moral base outside himself to guide him, Mark is perplexed and now in great fear for his life. Pain and death are the only things that are real for him.

It must be remembered that in Mark’s mind hardly one rag of noble thought, either Christian or Pagan, had a secure lodging. His education had been neither scientific or classical – merely “Modern”. The seventies both of abstraction and of high human tradition had passed him by: and he had neither peasant shrewdness nor aristocratic honor to help him. He was a man of straw, a glib examinee in subjects that require no exact knowledge (he had always done well on Essays and General Papers) and the first hint of a real threat to his bodily life knocked him sprawling. And his head ached so terribly and he felt sick. Luckily he now kept a bottle of whisky in his room. A stiff one enabled him to shave and dress.

What is your genealogy of thought and belief? Is it a genealogy of strawmen?

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The opening quote is from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. He is countering the embedded Epicureanism active in the church in Corinth. He does so with the resurrection.

To be continued.