Monday, January 30, 2012

Essential Oils

As many of my readers know, I occasionally enjoy writing articles about health (for example, see my article about health food myths and my articles about health freedom.)

Recently I have begun researching the benefits of essential oils after seeing a Fox News report about a hospital that transformed itself through utilizing essential oils. Since then our family has been enjoying many of the invigorating and healing benefits inherent in these oils. From Peppermint Oil, which acts as an amazing Caffeine substitute and headache cure, to Thieves, which is a proprietary essential oil blend known for supporting the immune system, these oils are truly a God-send.

What is Postmodernism?

Postmodernity refers to a time period (roughly the mid to late 20th century to the present day), whereas Postmodernism refers to a way of thinking characteristic during that time period.

Postmodernism is an umbrella term to describe a number of different orientations, sub-movements and ways of thinking characterized by a self-conscious reaction to Modernism. It is the ripening of trends set in motion by the romantics and existentialists, particularly as regards the rejection of objective truth.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

George Lukacs and the Reversal of Ethics

In an article I wrote last year for the Chuck Colson Center, I talked about Peter Hitchens' book The Rage Against God and how Hitchens used his observations of life in the Soviet Union as a springboard for showing that ideas have consequences. 

One of the most chilling parts of Hitchen's narrative is when he shows that many Soviet thinkers were prepared to reverse the moral continuum, believing that under certain circumstances evil could be transformed into good. He quotes George Lukacs, a Commissar for Culture and Education in the Hungarian Soviet Republic, who said. “Communist ethics makes it the highest duty to accept the necessity of acting wickedly. This is the greatest sacrifice the revolution asks from us. The conviction of the true Communist is that evil transforms itself into good through the dialectic of historical evolution.”

To read my article article about this, click on the following link:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Miscegenation and the Book of Galatians

Living in Northern Idaho, I occasionally run into people who are against 'Miscegenation' (the fancy way of talking about mixed race marriages). This view is often part of a larger race-based theology known as Kenism. In 2009 I wrote an article showing that the book of Galatians refutes such notions and actually supports the idea of mixed-race marriages. To read my article click here.


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Friday, January 20, 2012

Let all power on earth be limited

Since I have written before about the tendency for government to act as mother, assuming control over every aspect of our life, the words of the American Puritan, John Cotton, resonated with me when I read them today:
Let all the world learn to give mortall men no greater power than they are content they shall use, for use it they will....It is necessary...that all power that is on earth be limited, church-power or other....It is counted a matter of danger to the state to limit prerogatives, but it is a further danger not to have them limited. They will be like a Tempest if they be not limited. A Prince himselfe can not tell where he will confine himself, nor can the people tell....It is therefore fit for every man to be studious of the bounds which the Lord hath set; and for the People, in whom fundamentally all power lyes, to give as much power as God in his word gives to men.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Health Freedom Articles

I have always been interested in issues relating to health, but recently I have taken an interest in the politics of health freedom.

In my article Totalitarianism in Nationalized Health and 'The well worn path from socialized health to totalitarianism', I used my experiences in Britain as a springboard for exploring how nationalized healthcare changes how citizens relate to each other, as the entire populace begins to have economic incentives for policing each others' diets and health.

This type of Nanny State mentality is already well under way in America, as evidenced from the material in an interview I conducted with Ryan Close titled 'Freedom of Health: Does Uncle Sam Own Your Body?'

Building on this, my article Totalitarian Creep looked at some of the specific ways our freedom is being threatened by Obamacare.

I am also fascinated by the historical dimensions to the question of the relationship between the state and our health, and I have explored some of these in my article An Historical Perspective to the Health Care Debate.

My interest in health extends beyond the political and historical aspects, as I have also tried to debunk some of the myths about health food and about raw milk.

Finally, I have also given considerably attention to the theological dimensions of health, particularly when it comes to the Bible's teaching about healthy eating. I have explored these aspects in the following articles:

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Normalizing Sex

In the latest edition of Salvo Magazine (which you can subscribe to by clicking here), I pointed out that one of the subversive features of the over-sexualized environment our children are growing up in is that they are becoming desensitized. In a society where sex is used to sell everything from shoes to vegetables, the danger is that children become so used to it that they cease to consider things to be sexual which clearly are.
This struck me when the BBC did a documentary on the sexualization of children and Sophie Raworth visited 13-year old Chloe. Dressed skimpily and imitating the erotic dancers she had seen on television, Chloe’s dream is to go all over world as a dancer. Raworth asked Chloe if she was trying to be sexual. Chloe confessed that there was nothing sexual in her mind when she was dancing. Moreover, she said, as long as she kept her clothes on, there was nothing inappropriate about her moves.

Certainly the self-evaluation of a 13-year old girl should be taken with a heavy pinch of salt. Yet as I point out in my Salvo article 'Sex and the Kiddies: The Sexualization of Children', I think there is an important lesson to be learned from the fact that Chloe failed to acknowledge the obvious eroticism of her behaviour. As our children are bombarded with more and more sexual stimuli, one effect is that they cease to even see certain things as sexual, with the consequence that important barriers are lowered.
Chloe found this out in a rather disturbing way when she was eleven. A stranger who had seen some of the dance moves Chloe posted online contacted her to tell her how sexy she was. Chloe panicked and immediately removed all the videos.

ReichYet the question remains: how have young people like Chloe managed to convince themselves that all but the most explicit displays (in Chloe’s case, taking off her clothes) are non-sexual and benign? And do the products and media that girls like her are able to so easily access have anything to do with this?
The answer to this question may lay in the thought of one of the early pioneers of the sex education movement. In his book The Sexual Revolution, Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957) described the means for achieving a society that would not put any obstacles in the path of sexual gratification. I have discussed Reich in my Salvo article, in which I point out that
For all his moral anarchism, Reich was perceptive. He realized that in order to achieve the type of sexual utopia he desired, he must first move society away from the shyness and embarrassment surrounding sex. In particular, he argued, people must lose their reluctance to expose erotically important parts of their bodies. Reich attempted to facilitate this by having psychotherapy sessions in which he would require his clients to remove all their clothes.
Reich would be pleased if he coWReichuld see a European summer today, which is more in keeping with his ideal than what we find in brothels. In a brothel, women have overcome the natural shyness surrounding erotically important parts of their bodies in order to advertise sex; on a sunny beach, scores of women can be seen who have overcome this natural shyness with no thought of sex at all. Indeed, by refusing to explicitly acknowledge the erotic implications of minimalistic attire, we are fast approaching Reich’s goal of a society in which shyness has been overcome and sex is flattened of its inherent potency. “Profane” best describes Reich’s ideal and its realization in the contemporary situation, given that the term originally meant “to treat as common.”
The current debate about the sexualization of children needs to be charted within this same rubric. Certainly when low-cut blouses are marketed for 13-year olds, when music videos for children are saturated with sexual imagery and when sex is constantly used to sell products to young teens, the result is going to be that many girls will become hyper-sexualized. However, such saturation can equally have a desensitizing effect since it unconsciously orients youth to treat their sexuality as something trivial, benign and commonplace. Either way, it primes girls for perverts like Reich: the former because hyper-sexualized girls will want to have sex; the latter because girls are less likely to guard and protect that which they have been oriented to treat as being merely common.
To read more about this, subscribe to Salvo magazine and turn to my article, 'Sex & the Kiddies.'


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Sunday, January 15, 2012

More than the sum of the parts

In my article 'Tears in Things' I point out that throughout history, art has had a powerful pull on human emotion. Art can reduce seasoned warriors like Aeneas and Odysseus to tears, but it can also lift us to heights of joy and happiness. Certain types of art can even blur the distinction between joy and sadness, evoking a type of bittersweet longing that is hard to put into words. 
There is a certain paradox here. How can something purely physical, like the drawings on a wall or the sound-waves produced by a musical instrument or the human voice, have such a profound effect on the non-physical world of our psyche and emotions? Though we may not be able to answer this question with metaphysical precision, it is clear that when human creativity brings inanimate matter together in a certain way, the resulting configuration is often more than merely the sum of the parts.

Christian theology is full of similar examples. When Christ meets us in the blessed Eucharist, something is happening that goes beyond the mere physicality of the properties being presented to us. Though different Christian traditions have debated what actually happens when God’s people gather to receive the sacrament of communion, most would agree that in this event God somehow meets with man.

When I receive and partake of the sacraments in faith, there is more going on than merely one person eating bread and wine, just as there was more to the mural in Carthage than mere paint.

In the world God created, things have significance.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why America's Foreign Policy isn't Making America Safer

Last year I wrote an article for the Spokane Libertarian Examiner in which I discussed the unprecedented build-up of America's military that was occuring under the Obama administration. 

One of the things I pointed out in the article was that America's foreign commitments are not making America safer.

When American Presidents first began pursuing interventionist foreign policies at the close of the 19th century, it was ostensibly to make America a safer place. The idea was a simple one: America will be safer if it is bigger and tougher. This was the idea that led America into the Spanish–American War and other wars of territorial expansion. At around the time of Woodrow Wilson (right), a new justification for international war began to emerge. No longer was the goal merely to make America a safer place: the goal was now to make the world a safer place.
The result of this paradigm shift is that neither the world or America are actually safer. If anything, the opposite is the case: America’s military internationalism has been putting the American people at a greater risk than ever.
Consider that America’s expensive militaristic policies (financed almost entirely by debt) are threatening to destroy the very economic integrity of the nation – an integrity necessary for America’s safety in the most general sense. More directly, however, America’s interventionist politics have created unprecedented levels of what the CIA calls blowback. Blowback is the violent, unintended consequences for military action directed against the civil population of the aggressor government. The bombings of 9/11 were a classic case of blowback, since they came as a reaction to the long-time presence of the American military in the Middle East. As Philip Giraldi, former counterterrorism expert with the CIA put it,
I think anybody who knows anything about what’s been going on for the last 10 years would realize that cause and effect are operating here – that, essentially, al Qaeda has an agenda which very specifically says what its grievances are. And its grievances are basically that ‘we’re over there.’
Giraldi’s conclusion was confirmed by University of Chicago’s Robert Pape, who collected a database of 462 suicide terrorist attacks between 1980 and 2004. He found that the religious beliefs of suicide terrorists were less of a motivation for the attacks than has commonly been suspected. The primary motivation is a desire “to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory the terrorists view as their homeland.” Commenting on this in his book The Revolution, Ron Paul pointed out that
Between 1995 and 2004, the al Qaeda years, tw o-thirds of all attacks came from countries where the United States had troops stationed. While al Qaeda terrorists are twice as likely to hail from a country with a strong Wahhabist (radical Islamic) presence, they are ten times as likely to come from a country in which U.S. troops are stationed. Until the U.S. invasion in 2003, Iraq had never had a suicide terrorist attack in its entire history. Between 1982 and 1986, there were 41 suicide terrorist attacks in Lebanon. Once the U.S. , France and Israel withdrew their forces from Lebanon, there were no more attacks. ...the longer and more extensive the occupation of Muslim terri tories, the greater the chance of more 9/11-type attacks on the United States.
This does not, of course, mean that terrorists are justified in their attacks, but it should serve to caution those Americans who assume that an aggressive foreign policy is needed to make the United States or the world a safer place. As an American, I do not sleep easier at night because I know Obama has positioned active missiles next to the border of Russia, provoking our former enemy into an arms race. Nor I do not consider myself particularly safer because America is engaged in dozens of undeclared wars in Africa. Neither will I sleep better knowing that America is involved in a proxy arms race (via Taiwan) with China. And I am certainly not safer as a result of the United States’ military being stretched almost to breaking point with bases in 150 different countries across five continents. If anything, such policies are making America and the world less safe. Only time will tell how true this is.
To read more about this topic, read my articles Obama at War and Foreign Policy.

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Monday, January 09, 2012

Free Speech and Islam

In an article I published today with the Chuck Colson Center, I suggest that one of the key differences between the classical liberalism of the 19th century vs. the progressive liberalism of today is in the area of free speech and intellectual freedom.
Classical liberalism, for all its limitations, was at least committed to defending individual freedom against the encroachments of state power. That is, after all, why it was called liberalism, which comes from the word liberty. However, as I explained in my articles “Thought Control” and “Is that Liberalism?”, a key aspect of today’s liberalism (what is sometimes called “progressivism”) is the expansion of the State at the expense of personal freedom. 

This was also the theme of Jonah Goldberg’s eye-opening book Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change. Goldberg shows that contemporary liberals often have no qualms when it comes to limiting the free exchange of ideas – something that would have been anathema to earlier liberals like John Locke, John Stuart Mill and Adam Smith.
I was reminded of Goldberg’s book last month when the Obama administration joined forces with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to support a UN resolution that, critics fear, may result in criminalizing the criticism of Islam. 

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Reframing the Sexualization Debate

The center for Normalizing Any & All Sexual Preferences doesn't actually exist, at least not yet. At Salvo Magazine we invented the CNASP because it comes very close to the truth about how our society tends to approach sexuality. 'If it happens, it's natural. If it's natural, it's OK."

That is the topic of my article for the latest edition of Salvo Magazine, I pointed out that the debate over the sexualization of children (which was particularly strong in Britain last year) has centred primarily on quantitative questions. Are our young people being exposed to too much sex? Does this exposure happen at too young of an age?

Now certainly questions like these are important, especially when we ask who profits from the sexualisation of a 13 or 14 year-olds. I think few would doubt that the beneficiaries include the growing network of pedophiles in Britain.

What I find interesting, however, is that by framing the debate solely in terms of the above questions, the discussion has excluded crucial qualitative distinctions we need to be making.

Don't get me wrong. Certainly we should be concerned if media and marketing are influencing the next generation to think about sex when they ought to be thinking about dolls and trains. However, shouldn’t we be even more concerned if the marketing, media and the entertainment industries are subtlety influencing children to think about sex in the wrong type of way? We need to be asking not just whether children are being sexualized too early, but how they are being sexualized.

The stimuli children are bombarded with are, in fact, orienting them towards an illusory understanding of their sexuality. Embedded in the products now available to children, especially childrens’ TV and music videos, is a subtle false narrative about what it means to be a man or a woman.

The narrative I have in mind is one in which sex is disengaged from the secure relationship of marriage. It is a narrative which evacuates from sex any emotional, let alone ethical, underpinning, thus reducing it to something purely animalistic. It is a narrative which tends to associate the good life with what is fashionable, cool and up to date. In short, it is a narrative which says, 'If it happens, it's natural. If it's natural, it's OK."

To keep reading my thoughts on this subject, subscribe to Salvo magazine today and receive issue 19. Look for my article "Sex & the Kiddies The Sexualization of Children & How Advertising & Entertainment Change Their Brains!"


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Friday, January 06, 2012

Charles Hodge: Presbyterian Gnostic?

Charles Hodge was the living embodiment of the cerebral Presbyterianism who easily absorbed the rationalism of the reformers yet considered their high sacramentalism to be an anomaly; who eagerly embraced the Puritan hostility to form without the benefit of their spiritual dynamism; who embraced the Westminster Assembly’s doctrine of infant baptism but had lost their ecclesiological theology in the shuffle; who absorbed Jonathan Edwards discomfort with the material world without the advantage of Edwards’ poetic outlook; who rejected the popular revivalism of his day while importing the same individualism into his systematics. Above all, Charles Hodge was a man whose life was dedicated to the proposition that all would be right if only theology were done like a science - or better yet, like Euclidian geometry.

Keep reading...

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Reformed Imagination

I've just finished reading William Dyrness's excellent book Reformed Theology and Visual Culture: The Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards. Dyrness, himself a reformed scholar, discusses many of the reasons why his tradition has found it difficult to articulate a theology of imagination. On page 304 he observes that "A second tendency in the developing Reformed imagination has been the encouragement to look within oneself to discover and reflect on the presence of God. Since the external forms of piety were forbidden, believers, raised on the catechism and exposed to the weekly preaching of Scripture, inevitably turned inward to shape their images of God. It is one of the ironies that we have traced, that in rejecting the visual mediation of spiritual power prominent in the Middle Ages - in turning away from the great imaginative works of earlier artists - the Protestants were forced to develop their own 'imaginations' as the template within which the new spiritual world was to be constructed and perceived."

For more on this topic, read my article, 'A Critical Absence of the Divine: How a ‘Zero-Sum’ Theology Destroys Sacred Space.'

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