Category Archives: American History

DON’T BE THIS GUY

There are many things that make us Americans comfortable giving our opinions on every subject from socialism to Seinfeld’s show.

It feels good to sling out whatever we think. For too many of us Americans these can be thoughts that are not well formed because there is little study that has gone into them.

During times of upheaval it does not seem practical to pull back and study. It is more tempting to register our opinion, even if our understanding of the issue is thin.

I am not on Facebook or Twitter, but I see and hear enough to know that these are not the places where one learns to be thoughtful and sensitive to the complexity of issues.

The radical thing might be reading a serious book, especially by someone who doesn’t fit in your tribe. 

MY VOTE…WHILE LIVING FAR EAST OF EDEN

The following represents my opinion, and mine alone. 
In light of my recent posts about our current cultural moment this may come as somewhat of a surprise to some of you, so here goes…  

From my early days as a Christian it made sense to me that the Bible has something to say to all of life. The Bible is certainly not a spiritual cookbook. It is not always straightforward how one should arrive at one’s decision. The book of Proverbs, and the whole wisdom tradition, showcase this sort of nimble discernment. Christians disagree over the proper interpretation and/or implications of the Bible. And those are Christians who agree on the binding authority of the Scriptures!

I continue to believe that is problematic to have Christians who rationalize or diminish the president’s rhetoric. That said, I Tim. 2:1,2 is a significant influence on how (at the present) I will vote. My vote is very much influenced by the person and party I believe that best protects religious liberty.

LESSER THAN TWO EVILS?

Many times I’ve heard the “lesser than two evils” objection brought up by those who voted (and will vote again) for Donald Trump. Here is David French:

And yes, Christians also hasten the decay if we vote for policies and people who would scorn the church, denigrate the value of unborn life, and celebrate other values contrary to biblical truth. But we do not have to choose between evils. Our nation’s two political parties do not dictate to the church how it must use its vast cultural and political power. The church must instead communicate its standards to our parties. 

If the world’s wealthiest and and most powerful collection of Christians are supine before their political masters in the United States, marching to the beat of secular drummers (even if allegedly “holding their noses” all the while) then I fear the message that sends is that we do not have faith that God’s providence governs the nations. We cannot and must not “put our trust in princes.” There is no such thing as a “binary choice.” We can choose not to yield to the spirit of the times. 

Theological truth can also create a pragmatic reality. Over time, perhaps the best method of cleansing our political class of the low, narcissistic characters who all too often occupy public office is to stop voting for them. “

BRILLIANCE ON STEROIDS!

Thomas Sowell dropped out of Stuyvesant High School and served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. He later became an economist and social theorist who is currently a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

1. People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.

2. If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.

3. Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them.

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

5. The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department.

6. The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best.

7. The real minimum wage is zero.

8. What multiculturalism boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture—and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.

9. 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.

10. People who have time on their hands will inevitably waste the time of people who have work to do.

11. Elections should be held on April 16th—the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders.

HT: George Grant

HISTORY OR GOD?!

I just watched Lin-Manuel Miranda apologize for not speaking about more forcefully about injustice towards Blacks. I am willing to agree with him on this, but his closing statement is stunning. 

Miranda closes by saying, “History has its eyes on all of us.” I certainly get his point, but it got me thinking whether history is a big enough motivation.

I think the fear of God is not only the true motivation, but one that has lasting fruit.

PREDICTING THE FUTURE

Os Guinness told me that he has no respect for self-styled scholars who think they can predict the future. It usually results in more heat than light.

Yes, we are in troubled times. Responsible people are not futurists, but responsible people are aware when upheaval due to competing ideas is afoot. We are definitely at such a time.

People like the Princeton historian, Daniel Rodgers, along with the political theorist, Yuval Levin, use the word fracture to describe what is going on in America. We have fractured, and so split into various tribes that are turning on one another.

There are now very different visions of what it means to be an American. A shared story/idea seems like an impossibility, yet we Christians have hope. And yet, that hope is eschatological, so our country as we’ve known it may be altering in ways we never imagined.

 

JOHN LOCKE OR JOHN CALVIN?

A friend asked about the individual in Christianity. Here is what I dashed off:

It is a big topic of course so here is where I typically begin. We now live on the other side of the Enlightenment. It sought to make the self sovereign.

The “self as individual” idea emerges which is a novel one for understanding personhood.

Westerners now look at the Bible through a lens that over privileges the individual (literally undivided one).

Yes, every single person is precious, a sinner, and in need of redemption, but groups and various associations are talked about a lot in the Bible. Groups of people are talked about both favorably and unfavorably. In those groups when one sins (Achan at Ai) all suffer.

Yes, there is still individual accountability per Ez 18, but nations will also be judged. Americans do not have a great way to understand all this other than those who believe large sections of the Old Testament no longer applies to Christians.

I’m afraid our exegesis is at times more beholden to John Locke than John Calvin!