Friday, September 18, 2009

Ebenezer Scrooge and Global Warming

"If they would rather die,'' said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

The timing couldn’t be more perfect: hardly had the dust settled on my article exposing the legacy of eugenics and social engineering in the American left, then news breaks about the report issued by the London School of Economics that the best way to combat global warming is to reduce the surplus population through contraception and abortion. (Click here to read the Lifesitenews report.) Ebenezer Scrooge’s infamous words, cited above, could not be more appropriate.

Although slippery slope arguments are generally not in favor among contemporary ethicists, it can hardly be denied that the logic of the LSE position extends far beyond their own application. As Telegraph columnist Gerald Warner pointed out, the proposal to reduce carbon emissions by reducing people does not go far enough for anti-human environmental extremists. "Why not save 80 billion tonnes by ending pregnancy completely? There is one sure way to prevent man-made global warming and that is to abolish man."

I have pointed out elsewhere that a real or imagined sense of crisis is the raw material for lawmakers with statist ambitions. The global warming crisis is no exception, as the last decade of hysteria has revealed. What is new, however, is the explicitly Malthusian categories in which environmentalists are content to operate. While men like Sir Francis Galton and Thomas Malthus believed that overpopulation (read: the poor) were draining the world of resources, their contemporary predecessors believe overpopulation is actually destroying the planet. The solution in both cases is simple: decrease the surplus population.
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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ready for Papa Barack to dictate your lifestyle?

Today World Net Daily is running an article on mine titled "Ready for Papa Barack to dictate your lifestyle?" Click HERE to read the article.
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Monday, September 07, 2009

President Hopes Children Will Wash Hands

When addressing school children today, Obama said today “I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well…”

That is the sort of thing we expect our mothers to say, but not the President.

But maybe it shouldn’t come as such a surprise. After all, the confusion between motherhood and statecraft has been a recurring motif in contemporary political discourse, as I argue in my book The Twilight of Liberalism.

Nor is this tendency limited to contemporary political discourse. When Diocletian published his Edict of 301, mandating the persecution of Christians and destroying the few remaining liberties of the old Roman republic, he justified it by referring to himself and his associates as “the watchful parents of the whole human race.” Contemporary governments are increasingly following the pattern of Diocletian by acting, not simply as the guardians of law and order, but as Mother to their citizens.

President Barack Obama is no exception to this tendency. Don’t forget that in his convention acceptance speech last year he as well as invoked the mantle of motherhood when he said,

“[G]overnment] should . . . protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology. . . . Our government should work for us. . . . That’s the promise of America . . . the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.”

Nice as this sounds, do we really want the federal government to be so concerned about the minutia of our lives, down to our toys and our health? Do we really want to live in the type of society where everyone is everybody else’s keeper and the President himself takes a concern in whether or not our children wash their hands?

I submit that most Americans do not. Just as the impulse to be a faithful dog is ennobling in a dog but demeaning when exhibited by a man, so the mothering instinct is nurturing in a mother but tyrannical and totalitarian when assumed by the state. And that is just as true if the totalitarianism in question is of the caring totalitarianism of Obama.

Further Reading


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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Why Obama Needs Crisis reported today that when President Obama returns to Washington next week, he will be in search of the one thing that can revive his health-care overhaul: a sense of crisis. This significance of this should not be overlooked. Classical Greece and Rome had a tradition of appointing a dictator during times of crisis. After the crisis finished, the dictator stepped down and government returned to normal, usually to some form republic or oligarchy.
Following this tradition, modern leaders frequently appeal to times of real or alleged 'crisis' to persuade the populace to entrust them with powers that would normally be distributed. The present administration is no exception. Even before he was sworn into office, Obama’s team made clear that the crises facing the country are "an opportunity to do things you could not do before." So said Rahm Emanuel, last November according to the Wall Street Journal. In Emanuel’s conversation with business leaders assembled by the Wall Street Journal, he went on to say, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

Though Emanuel did not specify what “things” he was referring to, it is not hard to guess. It has been a hallmark of American liberalism to use disasters (whether economic, military, environmental, domestic or medical) as a means for increased government control. Knowing that most citizens value security over freedom, and are only too happy to sacrifice the latter if it can increase the former, lawmakers with totalitarian aspirations have never hesitated to greet crises as wonderful opportunities.

In his book Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg chronicles the most significant liberal administrations in modern American history, showing that it was through national calamities – real or imagined – that Americans were persuaded piecemeal to surrender their liberties. In this monument of historical research, Goldberg relates how a long line of Presidents progressively scared the American public into accepting the bloated power of the executive branch as the only alternative to various crises. Barack Obama is well versed in these scare same tactics. On the first of the month, the (then)President-elect warned an audience at George Mason University of the dire consequences that would occur if Congress failed to adopt his stimulus package. Like his statist forefathers, Obama waves the magic wand of government as the only solution. As he put it, “only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe.” Ignoring other credible solutions to the economic downturn - such as returning to the gold standard or abolishing the federal reserve system that caused the recession in the first place - Obama wanted Americans to believe that the only answer is to trust officialdom.

Now it seems that Obama is going to try the same strategy to get his health care proposal accepted. However, when crisis is used as the justification, the implications can only be totalitarian. Thus, already the United States of America is devolving into what might be described as "medical fascism" and Massachusetts is leading the way with the passage of a new bill, the "Pandemic Response Bill" 2028, which has just passed the MA state Senate and is now awaiting approval in the House. As the Centre For Research on Globalization has reported,

“This bill, if adopted, would suspend the Constitutional rights of Massachusetts citizens and forces anyone "suspected" of being infected to submit to interrogations, "decontaminations" and vaccines.It's also sets fines up to $1,000 per day for anyone who refuses to submit to quarantines, vaccinations, decontamination efforts or to follow any other verbal order by virtually any state-licensed law enforcement or medical personnel."
If this shows anything, it is that we haven’t moved very far from the ancient notion that times of crisis justify the suspension of democracy. Given Obama’s totalitarian aspirations, he may have to create a medical crisis (the swine flu may provide just such an opportunity) because it is only during times of crisis that citizens are willing to surrender substantive portions of liberty. In order for Obama’s health care plan to be accepted, Americans must be willing to surrender liberty, as I have argued HERE. But liberty runs deep in the veins of Americans, and it is possible that nothing short of a good crisis will succeed to orienting Americans to favor protection over freedom.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

The Temptation of Caring Totalitarianism

What are some of the first things that come to your mind when thinking about the great dictators of the 20th century?

Doubtless there are an array of attributes that are associated with men such as Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin and Stalin, but I can venture that qualities such as “caring” and “compassionate” are probably not the first things that spring to mind.

And that is unfortunate, because it obscures an important part of why individuals and nations find totalitarianism initially so attractive. Totalitarianism never starts with steel fences and ID checkpoints. Rather, it begins with a leader who is human enough to empathize with your needs and just possibly shrewd enough to fulfill those needs as soon as sufficient power is entrusted to him.

When totalitarianism does arrive, it arrives as the concomitant of a population that has been oriented to view the state as benefactor and protector, even as the great mother. When Mussolini first coined the term “totalitarianism” it was not a pejorative slur, nor was it something connoting tyranny. Rather, he used the word to refer to a humane society in which everyone was taken care of and looked after by a state which encompassed all of life within its grasp.

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Enemies of the State

In my article G20 Madness I noted the folly of a policy that can only fulfill its promise to pump money into the economy by first siphoning it out of the economy through forced confiscation of private property. More recently reading Michael Gaddy’s article We Are the “Enemy of the State” on, I am reminded that these redistribution plans simply invoke an old American tradition, extending as far back as the union’s theft of land belonging to the native Indians. Gaddy told that story with none of the sugar with which certain “conservatives” I know (and who are, in every other case, opposed to the forcible redistribution of wealth) are prone to coat those imperial conquests.

But Native Americans are no longer enemies of the state for opposing federal tyranny. Instead, writes Michael Gaddy,

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), The Missouri Militia Report and Virginia’s Homegrown Terrorism Report have unleashed an attack designed to demonize and dehumanize opponents of tyranny. The unclassified lists of those viewed as potential threats and terrorists includes opponents of abortion, groups opposed to illegal immigration, third-party political supporters, supporters of the Second Amendment, those stockpiling food, water, and ammunition, constitutionalists, veterans, critics of the United Nations and One World Government, and anyone fitting the "Right-Wing Extremist" profile.

Conspicuous in its absence in DHS’s report is any mention of Maoists, Marxists, Leninists, Stalinists, Trotskyites, or National Socialists as a terror threat. In short, our government exhibits no fear of socialism/fascism. It only fears those who would hold it accountable to the Constitution and rule of law.

What we know from the Department of Homeland Security and its Fusion Centers, now located in at least 25 states, concerning whom the state views as its enemies, is alarming indeed. What should be of even greater concern is what we don’t know that is contained in the classified section of their reports to LE agencies around the country. Information is classified to keep information from the enemy; why is the American public not allowed to see who else this government considers to be its enemy and how it intends to deal with the problem?”

Read entire article

True to the Faith in all of its amplitude

I'm reading Thomas Howard's book Evangelical Is Not Enough right now. It is simply excellent. I have shared quotations from it before, and here is another quote about doing justice to the fullness of the faith.

"...the Reformation has a lively sense of how prone we all are to magic and idolatry. We mortals would much rather bob at the cross than embrace its truth in our hearts. To light candles is much easier for us than to be consumed with the self-giving fire of charity so effectively symbolized by those candles. We lavish respect on the altar at the front of the church and neglect the sacrifice of a pure heart. Evangelicalism presses home these observations, quite rightly.

But it is one thing to see dangers; it is another to be true to the Faith in all of its amplitude. By avoiding the dangers of magic and idolatry on the one hand, evangelicalism runs itself very near the shoals of Manichaeanism on the other – the view, that is, that pits the spiritual against the physical. Its bare spare churches, devoid of most Christian speak its correct attempt to keep the locale of faith where it must ultimately be, in the heart of man. But by denying the whole realm of Christian life and practice the principle that it allows in all the other realms of life, namely, the principle of symbolism and ceremony and imagery, it has, despite its loyalty to orthodox doctrine, managed to give a semi-Manichaean hue to the faith... "

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Pause For Thought

Here are some links that are too good to let pass without passing them on.
Yet another warning of the totalitarian implications of nationalized health. The question of whether universal health care actually works was addressed in THIS excellent article, while the sheer folly of it is articulated HERE. (My own article on the subject, exploring how universal healthcare is the slippery slope to an Orwellian disutopia, is available HERE.)
As the Obama administration is considering ever more intrusive control and surveillance measures on America's citizens (to say nothing of trying to control the internet or introduce a pandemic bill that will allow authorities to enter homes and detain without a warrant) it might be worth reflecting on how surveillance has and has not helped the UK.
On a deeper subject, Regis Nicoll has some insightful words on the relationship between Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy.
And finally, just to prove that I am not alone in my advocation of teen pregnancy (within marriage, of course), read HERE and HERE.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Scripture and Tradition

I've been trying to get my mind around the 4 main differences in approach between scripture and tradition, as represented by the (1) Roman Catholics; (2) Eastern Orthodox; (3) Reformed Protestants; (4) Anabaptist and Modern Evangelical. It is hard to nail it down because every author has a particular position and therefore may be less than objective in describing the position of his opponents. However, from what I can make out the options are as follows (corresponding to the numbers already assigned to the above groups):

Scripture and Tradition are equal sources of authority

The Apostolic Tradition is authoritative, and scripture is part of that

Scripture and Tradition are both authoritative, but scripture is more authoritative

Scripture is authoritative but tradition is not.

The reformed writer Robert Letham seems to agree with this basic way of dividing the views, for he writes: “For the East, the relationship between the Bible and tradition is a living one. The Bible exists within the tradition (in which the seven ecumenical councils are dominant), not apart from it. Here Orthodoxy occupies the position of the church of the first two centuries, as argued by A.N.S. Lane, in which the Bible and tradition (the teaching of the church) were effectively indistinguishable. Later developments in the West placed tradition over Scripture (as in medieval Rome), or pitted Scripture against tradition (the anabaptists and many contemporary evangelicals), or put Scripture over tradition without rejecting it (the Reformation). With Orthodoxy, Scripture is a primary part of the organic nature of tradition.”

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Letham on the Intercession of Saints

I’ve now finished reading Through Western Eyes: Eastern Orthodoxy: A Reformed Perspective. Although the book is a reformed perspective, as the subtitle indicates, Robert Letham it is actually very sympathetic with the Eastern church. The means that the few criticisms he does make are ones that grab the attention of the reader. However, these criticisms are not over areas one would normally expect from a reformed writer. For example, he is comparatively mild in his criticism of invoking the saints, saying that this is “an area ripe for misunderstanding on the part of the Reformed. The point is that all Christians make intercessions to the saints. It is characteristic of believers to ask others to pray to God on their behalf, to put in a word for them to Jesus Christ….This question surrounds the propriety of asking dead saints to make intercession for us to the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit…. Prayers to the departed saints are wrong, not because there is anything intrinsically evil in asking saints to intercede for us but because there is no contact between us and dead saints and so they can neither hear our requests nor respond to them….while the practice is in error – and it does have serious repercussions – it is not heresy, since it does not overthrow any cardinal doctrine of the faith. In other words, if it were true and legitimate, it would not falsify the Christian faith. However, it diverts attention from Jesus Christ, who is the unshakeable source of assurance of salvation, and so can have a detrimental effect. This is evidence in the widespread popular belief that some of the saints – Mary and the martyrs – have not merely an intercessory but also a mediatorial role.”

The Trinity in the West and East

"Augustine saw common ground between the Christian doctrine of God and the NeoPlatonic idea of divine simplicity. In doing so he made the one essence of God primary. With no internal distinctions, great problems arose as to how to conceive of, and defend, the doctrine of the trinity. Moreover, since the essence had priority over the persons, the overwhelming tendency for Augustine, and the West thereafter, was to an impersonal view of God. Assuming absolute divine simplicity, the persons can only be relations in the one divine essence - less than attributes. Following this, Western theologians have almost uniformly considered the trinity only after long examinations of the existence, nature, and attributes of God, with the result that the trinity has been reduced to a virtual irrelevance in the daily life of the Western church. ... In the West the danger of modalism is very real, evident in all Western theology down to Barth and Rahner. If we start with the divine unity, expressed in the idea of absolute divine simplicity, the persons become problematic as real, personal, permanent, irreducible, and eternal ontological distinctions....Indeed, most Western Christians are practical modalists. Certainly, the trinity is little more than an arithmetical conundrum to Western Christianity....

"What a contrast the Byzantine liturgy provides! The trinity saturates the prayers and acclamations. Right at the heart of Eastern piety - and thus Eastern theology - is a clear and articulated realization that the God we worship is triune. It is a truism that God is central to the Christian faith and that he is the object of faith. But which God do we trust? What is God like? The Biblical and Christian answer is that he is an indivisible trinity of co-equal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.... The worship and life of the Reformed church could be revitalized through recognizing that it has much to learn from Orthodoxy at this crucial point." Robert Letham, Through Western Eyes, pp. 231 and 238 & 272.

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Islam's European Conquest: Is America Next?

Britain, birthplace of parliamentary democracy, has fallen to Islam. Oxford, once home to the likes of C.S. Lewis, now houses a giant Eastern Islamic Studies Center. If this were the only Islamic addition to Oxford, the mood would be less somber, but when Oxford citizens are forced to awake every morning to the Muslim call to prayer with the full consent of the Church of England, nothing short of conquest has taken place.

Britain's Muslim demographic is now so dominant that the British government recently began to allow Islamic civil and religious law, known as Sharia, to be enforced along side British law.

But if religious tolerance is good, why is this a problem? Simple-this is not an issue of religious liberty. Islam is not designed to co-exist with western civilization. It is designed to conquer it.

Most would agree that Judeo-Christian values are consistent with Anglo-American tradition. Can the same be said of Islam? Even Muslims don't think so. The chief Justice of London's Sharia Court made this chilling statement:

"If Sharia is implemented then you can turn this country into a haven of peace...Once a thief's hand is cut off, nobody is going to steal. Once an adulterer is stoned, nobody is going to commit this crime at all. This is why we say we want to offer it to British society."

Statements like this have not stopped prominent British figures from endorsing Sharia. The
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Protestant equivalent of the Pope, called Sharia "unavoidable."

Under Sharia, non-Muslims are forbidden to even criticize Islam.

Keep Reading

Pet-ernity Leave

People expecting an addition to the family have a lot on their minds. Besides the changes to their routines, there are short-term considerations like getting time off to properly welcome the bundle of joy into his or her new home.
Happily, there are enlightened employers who understand their anxious employees’ concerns. That’s why Virgin Mobile of Australia is offering its employees five days of unpaid leave to welcome the newcomers home.
Only five days? Well, how long does it take you to get a kitten settled?
In announcing the new policy, a Virgin Mobile spokeswoman said that the company understood the adjustment involved in getting a new pet. It recognized that employees “may want to be at home for the first week or so with their new addition, to settle the pet and get them used to their [surroundings].”
Mind you, not all new pets entitle their owners to an unpaid week off. Only employees with “puppies and kittens aged 10 weeks or under” could give up a week’s pay to show Rover the extent of their devotion.
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The Silence of the Yams

"Feed the planet, or protect the inherent dignity of plants? Is this a trick question?

"In the recent movie The Happening, plants, threatened by the growing human population, release a toxin into the air that causes people to kill themselves. A nursery owner tells the hero that plants can not only “target specific threats,” they can also communicate with each other and coordinate their “defense.”

"While The Happening was panned by audiences and critics, one country appears to have taken the threat from plants seriously enough to sue for peace with the plant kingdom. That’s Switzerland.

"How? By enshrining the “dignity”—their word, not mine—of plants in their constitution.

"A molecular biologist at the University of Z├╝rich recently sought permission to field test wheat that had been genetically modified to resist a particular kind of fungus. He not only had to prove that the test wouldn’t have unintended environmental consequences, he also had to “debate the finer points of plant dignity with university ethicists.” Then, he had to satisfy government officials that the trial “wouldn’t ‘disturb the vital functions or lifestyle’ of the plants.”

"Dignity? Lifestyle? Of plants? Like many a farcical road, this one was paved with good intentions. In the 1990s, Switzerland amended its constitution to require that “account to be taken of the dignity of creation” —Switzerland’s word, not mine—“when handling animals, plants and other organisms.”

"Then, last spring, the parliament asked a panel of “philosophers, lawyers, geneticists and theologians” to determine how this requirement applies to plants. The panel’s report concluded that people do not have “absolute ownership” over plants and that “individual plants have an inherent worth.” Therefore, they concluded, “we may not use them just as we please, even if the plant community is not in danger.”

Keep Reading

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Inerrancy of Scripture

"It seems, for their part, that the Reformed need to realize the commitment of the Orthodox to the Bible as the word of God. Their reluctance to talk of the Inerrancy of Scripture is not due to the impact of critical liberal post-Enlightenment rationalism. Rather, it is an outflow of the more dynamic notion of tradition, of which Scripture is a part, and thus of its strongly ecclesial rooting. Moreover, it could well be asked what exactly is the cash-value of the conservative Protestant doctrine of inerrancy as such, an idea that could well be held by the Jehovah's Witnesses or other sects whose connection to the historic Christian faith would be difficult to establish, and has been used by heretics as a stick with which to beat the orthodox (small 'o') down the ages" Robert Letham, Through Western Eyes: Eastern Orthodoxy: A Reformed Perspective, p. 196.

Hard to Get Divinity Back in the Tube

All presidents go through rough patches, and Obama’s no exception. Odds are his poll numbers will get better — and worse — in the years to come. All of this is typical.

But this misses a crucial point: Obama isn’t supposed to be a typical politician. He was supposed to be The One. He was supposed to change Washington. Transcend race. Fix souls. Bake twelve-minute brownies in seven minutes.

Oprah promised Obama would help us “evolve to a higher plane.” Deepak Chopra said Obama’s presidency represented “a quantum leap in American consciousness.” Last month, Newsweek editor Evan Thomas proclaimed that Obama stood “above the country, above — above the world, he’s sort of God.”

Well, now he’s the god who bleeds, and once you’re the god who bleeds, it’s hard to get the divinity back in the tube, as it were.

Obama undoubtedly has major accomplishments ahead of him, but in a real way the Obama presidency is over. His messianic hopey-changiness has been exposed for what it was, and what it could only be: a rich cocktail of pie-eyed idealism, campaign sloganeering, and profound arrogance.

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