Thursday, December 16, 2010

God of Liberty

I just finished reading Thomas Kidd's book God of Liberty a couple days ago.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it very instructive.  Collin Hansen has written a very good review and summary of the book.  

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Wikileaks

I confess that I don't have all that much interest in the Wikileaks story, and consequently I haven't followed it that much.  But it is readily apparent that there are a lot of people going bananas over it.  Senator Diane Feinstein has written in the Wall Street Journal stating that Julian Assange should be tried under the Espionage Act--a totalitarian relic of the First World War.  Sarah Palin and others are even calling for his death. This is sheer madness and evil. 

Reports on the leaks that I've seen have essentially demonstrated the wicked practices of our government and others--practices that should be shamed and condemned.  Yet it is only Assange that is being maligned.  Assange is doing a great service in exposing the evil of governments across the globe in an effort to bring an end to the evil.

The Ugley Vicar has an excellent post demonstrating that Assange's purpose is:

"to change the way governments in general, and the government of the United States of America in particular — ie bad governments — operate. And the strategy is quite simply by the act of leaking since, again according to Assange:
“The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive ‘secrecy tax’) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.” (Emphasis added)"
 This seems to me an admirable goal.

Here is Doug Wilson's take, where I found the Ugley Vicar link.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Lawless Nation of Laws

Ours is a lawless nation.  This may seem a bizarre allegation considering our criminal code is full of laws, rules, and regulations.  Yet it is this that is the problem.  When our understanding of the law is not derived from God, but from men, by definition our laws are lawless.  There is no higher authority--no one to whom man is accountable.  In such a system, might makes right.  The majority determines what is acceptable and what not.  This is lawlessness and it is a tyranny.  Chesterton recognized this when he wrote, "When you break the big laws you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws."

Brian Aitken is a victim of this tyranny.  His crime was simply to possess handguns, which he'd purchased legally, in a state where he was moving to, without having properly registered the handguns.  Now he's begun to serve a seven year sentence.  This is absolutely criminal.  Those responsible for this judgment--the sheriff's office, the judge, and the jury will themselves have to give an account for their wickedness.  Such is our age. 

I like to quote Herbert Schlossberg, as my readers know.  Here he is again:

“The Old Testament records numerous cases in which rules adopted a theory that thousands of years later would be called substantive or positivist law. When that happened, a prophet stood ready to knock on the king’s door and tell him that there was a law higher than himself, that he was the creature and not the creator. “Hence the state does not decide what is good or what is law,” says Ellul, “but the good and the law determine the action of the state.” Without recognizing that principle, all the procedural safeguards in the administration of justice—constitutions, ballots, court systems, and the like—end up serving evil.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 208-209).


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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

IEA: Peak Oil Was 4 Years Ago

The term "peak oil" has been bandied about for many years now.  I've referenced it myself on this blog.  But now, according to the International Energy Agency, peak oil has not only arrived, it arrived four years ago.  Chris Martenson has just written a series of articles concerning the International Energy Agency's 2010 World Energy Outlook.  I suggest reading at least part 1, if not the whole thing.

Here's the meat of the report from the IEA:

"Crude oil output reaches an undulating plateau of around 68-69 mb/d by 2020, but never regains its all-time peak of 70 mb/d reached in 2006, while production of natural gas liquids (NGL) and unconventional oil grows quickly."

Yet the IEA data is unable to account for where the oil will come from to maintain the plateau.  The report simply asserts that the oil will come from oil "fields yet to be found."

Chris has the graphs and the implications, and I suggest reading them.  But the simple matter is that for decades energy experts have been warning us that peak oil is coming.  Only now, in hindsight is the IEA acknowledging peak oil.  This means that oil is going to become considerably more expensive and more difficult to obtain.  This will only get worse until alternative energy sources reach economic viability, or oil extraction technologies make huge leaps.

Our economy, as Chris Martenson argues, is built on economic models of "infinite growth."  This infinite growth paradigm is the only way to sustain the voodoo economic policies employed by the Fed's sorcerers. Infinite growth can only happen with infinite energy.  The logic here is simple, yet so politically volatile that no one in leadership is willing to recognize the problem.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

George W. Bush: A Reminiscence

George W. Bush's memoirs are now available, and our current president can make us sentimental for W--but this video should remind us all of the terrible legacy of his presidency.


Bush

Dylan | Myspace Video


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Jim Grant on QE2

This is an excellent interview from Jim Grant, of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, on what is being referred to as "QE2."



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Thursday, November 04, 2010

What Does it Mean?

Much has already been written and said concerning what the massive Republican gains in the House of Representatives and the Senate mean.  I don't intend to add much to these speculations, but I do want to make two observations:

First, the Republicans must stand firmly on the principles they espouse in their rhetoric.  If they are going to do any good at all, they must stand in firm opposition to not only all that Obama stands for, but all that the previous GOP House stood for.  This requires absolute defiance against the sort of spending they've grown accustomed to.  This means near-austerity measures in spending cuts.  This also requires constantly harassing President Obama and the Senate with bills intended to repeal a century's worth of cancerous government growth.  The GOP House must also firmly oppose the Federal Reserve and seek to audit it along with the gold reserves of Fort Knox.  We must move toward the abolition of the Federal Reserve. 

Secondly, the Republicans must demonstrate goodwill toward Ron Paul and give him the chairmanship of the House Finance Committee.  As Lew Rockwell writes:

If the Republicans weren’t dishonest, and entirely in the pocket of the big banks, Ron Paul would be taking Barney Frank’s place as chairman of the finance committee. Not satisfied with blocking him there, they have even kept him out of the chairmanship of the monetary policy subcommittee, as Barney has frequently remarked. The first time the Republicans erased Ron’s seniority; the second time, they imported a congressman from another committee to take the job; the third time, they temporarily abolished the subcommittee. This time, I think they would fear the backlash, so Ron will probably be chairman. If so, I can’t wait for his hearings on the QE2, the gold, the business cycle, and much else.

Giving the chairmanship to Paul will demonstrate that they are truly reformed and that they are serious about fixing government and holding the Federal Reserve accountable.

I'm not optimistic about the Republican House being able to accomplish much.  But they are in a position to be a roadblock to the forces that would bring ruin upon our nation.  If they so choose, they are in a position to bring the government to a standstill and hold the nation's purse strings firmly closed to those that would redistribute government largess to their benefactors.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Rise of the West

“…the rise of the West was based on four primary victories of reason.  The first was the development of faith in progress within Christian theology.  The second victory was the way that faith in progress translated into technical and organizational innovations, many of them fostered by monastic estates.  The third was that, thanks to Christian theology, reason informed both political philosophy and practice to the extent that responsive states, sustaining a substantial degree of personal freedom, appeared in medieval Europe.  The final victory involved the application of reason to commerce, resulting in the development of capitalism within the safe havens provided by responsive states.  These were the victories by which the West won.” Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason , P. xiii

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Whence Capitalism?

“…capitalism developed in only some places. Why not in all? Because in some European societies, as in most of the rest of the world, it was prevented from happening by greedy despots: freedom was also essential for the development of capitalism. This raises another matter: why has freedom so seldom existed in most of the world, and how was it nurtured in some medieval European states? This too was a victory of reason. Before any medieval European state actually attempted rule by an electoral council, Christian theologians had long been theorizing about the nature of equality and individual rights—indeed, the later work of such ‘secular’ eighteenth-century political theorists as John Locke explicitly rested on egalitarian axioms derived by church scholars.” Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason , P. xiii
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Christianity Versus the Rest

“While the other world religions emphasized mystery and intuition, Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth. Christian faith in reason was influenced by Greek philosophy. But the more important fact is that Greek philosophy had little impact on Greek religions. These remained typical mystery cults, in which ambiguity and logical contradictions were taken as hallmarks of sacred origins. Similar assumptions concerning the fundamental inexplicability of the gods and the intellectual superiority of introspection dominated all of the other major world religions. But from early days, the church fathers taught that reason was the supreme gift from God and the means to progressively increase their understanding of scripture and revelation. Consequently, Christianity was oriented to the future, while the other major religions asserted the superiority of the past. At least in principle, if not always in fact, Christian doctrines could always be modified in the name of progress as demonstrated by reason. Encouraged by the Scholastics and embodied in the great medieval universities founded by the church, faith in the power of reason infused Western culture, stimulating the pursuit of science and the evolution of democratic theory and practice. The rise of capitalism was also a victory for church-inspired reason, since capitalism is in essence the systematic and sustained application of reason to commerce—something that first took place within the great monastic estates.” Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason, p. x-xi
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Friday, October 08, 2010

Marketing Christianity

“Whenever a promising movement of the Holy Spirit begins nowadays, one of the first things that happens is that the agents, businessmen, and other assorted handlers move in so that they might straighten out certain unmarketable ‘blemishes’ in order to take the show on the road.  And when a promising ministry hits the big time, the unfortunate people in it are made twice as much sons of hell as their promoters.  It is therefore our resolve to stay as unmarketable as we can.  If we ever get invited to the Great Black Tie Banquet of Evangelicalism, we want everyone there to be braced for the moment when we, on a prearranged signal, throw our dinner rolls at Pat Robertson.  Thus far this strategy appears to have worked and has thinned out the invitations.  This, in our view, is not a bad thing.  We are not quenching the Spirit.  We want spiritual words—which have that serrated edge—to quench the gospel-mongers.” Doug Wilson, A Serrated Edge p. 112-113
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The Guardians of the Academy

“Why should we care that the guardians of the academy believe that we are not intellectually respectable?  They believe that the moose, the sperm whale and the meadowlark are all blood relations.  Why do we want their seal of approval on our intellectual abilities?  It is like asking Fidel Castro to comment on the economic viability of Microsoft.” Doug Wilson, A Serrated Edge p. 109
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Beasts and Antichrists

“…precisely because the Church is the household of the faithful, the enemy outside hates it. One of the ways he expresses that hatred is by various attempts at subversion, corrupting the Church from within. It is simply na├»ve to maintain that all assaults on the faith come from persecuting tyrants. Most of the threats to biblical integrity come from men who went to seminary. The beast in Scripture is a civil ruler, persecuting from outside. There have been many such beasts in the history of the Church, from Nero to Stalin. But the antichrist in Scripture is a spirit of corruption from within the body. Who is the antichrist but the one who denies that Jesus came in the flesh? (1 Jn. 4:3). A beast is a persecutor; an antichrist is a false teacher. In the scriptural categories, Hitler was a beast, but to find our modern antichrists we have to look for liberal Methodist bishops and the lesbians who love them. Now the Bible requires that the Word be brought against both kinds of threats, which is just what the apostle John did. He brought the Word against the beast in Revelation and against the antichrist in I John. And when that Word comes, it does not do so as an invitation to dialogue.” Doug Wilson, A Serrated Edge p. 99-100
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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Reformation, Not Revival

“So before there can be any kind of restoration of national dignity in the civil realm, there must be absolutely be a reformation in the Church—top to bottom, stem to stern, from the front of the face to the back of the head. Modern evangelicalism is not the solution to America’s problems, modern evangelicalism is America’s problem. None of our general cultural malaise will be mitigated in the least degree unless and until a thorough work of God sweeps through the church.

Many evangelicals think they acknowledge this, and they call what they yearn for revival. But as A.W. Tozer put it, if revival means more of what we have now, we most emphatically do not need a revival. A reformation is necessary—a reformation that is in the first place liturgical, in the second place familial, in the third place doctrinal, and in the fourth place, cultural. We need to be shaken badly so that what cannot be shaken may remain. In this reformation, we will—with tears of repentance—throw away the vast machinery of parachurch organizations, our glossy magazines edited by snakes, our engineered revivalism, our holy hucksterism, our trivialization of the gospel through dumb tracts, our attempts to save America through politics, our corrupt youth miniseries, and our gold-painted thrones on TBN. There are more things that could be mentioned, but a repentant mind can get the drift. In an evangelical world filled to the brim with such things, it is astonishing that some people think that satire is a problem and might invoke the displeasure of God.” Doug Wilson, A Serrated Edge p. 76-77

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The Tipping Point

“Put bluntly, disrespect of God is all right as long as you don’t want the kind of Supreme Court justices that the Democratic candidate would appoint. If that is not a good working summary of humanism, I do not know what is.” Doug Wilson, A Serrated Edge p. 74-75
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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

As Honest as an Evangelical

“At the time of the Reformation, one proverbial phrase in France was ‘as honest as a Hugeunot.’ The hard working and conscientious French Calvinists found that their honesty became a byword among the unbelievers. Does anyone seriously believe that unbelieving Americans are about to coin a similar phrase any time soon? ‘As honest as an evangelical.’ It would fit on a bumpersticker, but it doesn’t have the same self-justifying ring of ‘Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.’” Doug Wilson, A Serrated Edge p. 74
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Public Prayer

“Jesus even makes fun of how men pray. Jesus, the One in whose name we pray, during His incarnate ministry, leveled the guns of satire at those who sought to ‘have a witness’ by praying openly in restaurants so that people could see how holy they were. Jesus told us not to pray so that men could see us, which we have interpreted as a call to hold public prayer vigils on the Capitol steps so that Congress will stop disobeying what Jesus said to do.” Doug Wilson, A Serrated Edge p. 42
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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Righteous Prophet

“There is no answer that can be give to the righteous prophet. Because he is righteous, he is right. Because he is a prophet, he won’t shut up. He has fire in his bones. And so it is good that he perish—of course, for the public good. He was a trouble-maker anyway, and his language frequently went outside the boundaries of respectable academic discourse.” Doug Wilson, A Serrated Edge p. 41
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Muddled Legacies

“American history is by no means sacred history, but it does provide us with very funny illustrations of this same mentality. Washington D.C. is filled with monuments and statues to people whose civic convictions would get them lynched if they came back today by some time machine fluke to occupy public office. George Washington comes to mind. Not to mention Madison, Jefferson, and Adams.

As the Lord established earlier, the scribes and Pharisees were tombs themselves, and this is why they liked to decorate the tombs of righteous men. In doing this, they proved to Jesus that they were actually the children of those who had killed the prophets. Their concern for the prophets’ tombs testified against them. In a similar way, modern evangelicals really like names such as Wycliffe and Tyndale. Our forebearers! But one edifying thought experiment (there are many such) consists of William Tyndale paying a tumultuous visit to Tyndale House, publishers of the inane Left Behind series. One pictures broken windows, crying secretaries, sirens, a major scene, an arrest, and a board meeting the next day with the suits and haircuts trying to decide if they should press charges against this very troubled man. At the end they decide to just make him pay for the damage he did to the sign out front—the sign that had his name on it. This is an obvious point, but a certain kind of mind still misses it. This is because a certain kind of mind couldn’t hit a bull on the ass with a banjo.” Doug Wilson, A Serrated Edge, p. 40

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Monday, October 04, 2010

Indicting the Church

“No greater indictment of the contemporary church than this can be found: the secular state is operating on all cylinders, and yet for the most part, the Christian pulpit remains a safe place to be.

More pastors ought to wonder about this. Shouldn’t ministers and churches be more concerned than they are about the lack of opposition they are facing? And shouldn’t they be willing to consider if it isn’t the result of diluting the message? It is possible to talk about the final judgment and the lordship of Jesus Christ in such a way that makes it clear that He is only lord over those areas that secularists are frankly happy to let Him have—the afterlife, for example. Who cares if Jesus is Lord in ways that never make any difference at all?

This is not the way it should be. The worship of the Christian church is the New Jerusalem, descending down out of heaven. As churches are built and faithful worship is established, as converts are baptized and taught, as parents raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, as the nations are brought into the faith, they are being incorporated into the New Jerusalem, the city of the new humanity.” Doug Wilson, Heaven Misplaced p. 118-119

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God's Vietnam

“Most Christians believe in one way or another that the history of our planet is going to go from bad to worse, accelerating as we get near the end. At the same time, all Christians believe that after human history is over, and the day of resurrection is past, our experience will be one of glory replaced by a greater glory, one after the other, world without end. No Christian is pessimistic about final glory. But most Christians are pessimistic about the course of history prior to the Second Coming of Christ. In this view, the world is God's Vietnam, and the return of Christ consists of the few lucky ones helicoptered off a roof during the fall of Saigon. When we get out of here, then there will be good times—but not before.” Doug Wilson, Heaven Misplaced p. 9-10
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Friday, October 01, 2010

Absurdity: Acting the Part

“In both the East and the West, however, there are attempts to relive the tension of seeming to be nothing, while in fact being something very real—a person in a real world which has a definite form. On the materialist side, Sir Julian Huxley (1887-1975) has clarified the dilemma by acknowledging, though he is an atheist, that somehow or other—against all that one might expect—a person functions better if he acts as though God exists. ‘So,’ the argument goes, ‘God does not in fact exist, but act as if He does!’ As observed by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) in The Wild Duck: ‘Rob the average man of his life-illusion, and you rob him of his happiness at the same stroke.’ In other words, according to Huxley, you can function properly only if you live your whole life upon a lie. You act as if God exists, which to the materialist is false. At first this sounds like a feasible solution for relieving the tension produced by a materialistic world view. However, a moment’s reflection shows what a terrible solution it is. You will find no deeper despair than this for a sensitive person. This is no optimistic, happy, reasonable, brilliant answer. It is darkness and death.” Whatever Happened to the Human Race? P. 139-140
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Foreclosure Fraud

Congressman Alan Grayson is perhaps one of the most controversial men in Washington.  He is frequently at the center of controversy.  He was one of the first Democratic co-sponsors of Ron Paul's Audit the Fed bill, he's aggressively questioned Ben Bernanke in congressional testimony, argued that the Republican health bill is 'die quickly' and more recently ridiculed his Republican opponent in his home district for his Taliban-like views on the role of women.

So while he is wrong on many issues including abortion and health care, he understands the destruction the Federal Reserve is waging upon our nation, and in the video below, he exposes the fraud rampant in home foreclosures.  The video is appalling and demonstrates the sort of thing that goes on in a nation when it has abandoned the rule of law.



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The Wedge Principle

“Do not dismiss contemptuously our concern about the wedge principle. When the camel gets his nose in the tent, he will soon be in bed with you! Historians and jurists are well aware of what we say. The first step is followed by the second. It is easy to see that if the first step is immoral, whatever follows it must be immoral. But even if the first step is moral, it does not necessarily follow that the second step will also be moral. We have to be consciously aware with each step as to what the next step is likely to be.” Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Whatever Happened to the Human Race? p. 109
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Don't Just Cut the Budget!

“If America was better educated before we established a Department of Education than it has been since, why do we continue to have such a department? Reducing agencies’ budgets is unserious. If a job should be done and the agency is doing it, why cut? But if it is not, why not abolish?” The Ruling Class, p. 83
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Arbiters of Wealth and Poverty

“By taxing and parceling out more than a third of what American’s produce, through regulations that reach deep into American life, our Ruling Class is making itself the arbiter of wealth and poverty. While the economic value of anything depends on sellers and buyers agreeing on that value as civil equals in the absence of force, modern government is about nothing if not tampering with civic equality. By endowing some in society with the power to force others to sell cheaper than they would like to, and forcing others yet to buy at higher prices—or even to buy in the first place—modern government makes valuable some things that are not, and devalues others that are. Whatever else government may be, it is inherently a factory of privilege and inequality. Thus, if you are not among the favored guests at the table where officials make detailed lists of who is to receive what at whose expense, you are on the menu. Eventually, pretending forcibly that valueless things have value dilutes the currency’s value for all. But that matters not at all to those at the table.” The Ruling Class, p. 29
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Colonization of the Human Mind

"…representational technologies have colonized our minds. That may be the simplest, deepest way to characterize the whole history of representation. To the extent that our thoughts no longer wander along on their own, stocked only with materials drawn from direct experience, to the extent that they follow flows of representation instead—to just that extent we don’t think our own thoughts. Literally.

There should be no need to reiterate the extent of that extent. And yet, by virtue of a by now familiar dialectic of mediation, the colonization of minds by representation resulted in more self-conscious and autonomous selves."  Mediated, p. 196-197

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Democracy and Secularism

I haven't linked to a Doug Wilson post in a while, so it is time for me to bring him back.  This post is worth reading.

"One of the basic decisions confronting the secularists is whether they give priority to secularism, which is a result, or to democracy, which is a method. Democracy might wind up with a government that is not secular in the slightest, and a secular dictataor might insist on a secular state despite the majority of his citizens wanting it to be some other way. Secularism and democracy are not synonyms.
If they were foundationally democrats, secularists ought not to mind, after 500 years, if an overwhelmingly Christian populace voted in the blue laws again, where ordinary commerce ceased on the Lord's Day. But if they are foundationally secularist, it doesn't matter to them if that is what a society-at-large wants to do. He is still against it. But why?"

Read the whole thing.

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"Like"

“'Like' still connotes the inadequacy of language in principle and it still operates in a competitive social field, but now—thanks to the queens of middle school—it is performatively integrated with conventions of that media. Adeptly employed (and only the queens can do it just right), “like” acts as a kind of quotation mark in conversations that no longer work discursively, but work more like TV commercials or movie trailers. The word introduces a tiny performance rather than a description, a “clip” displaying a message in highly condensed gestural and intonational form. It all depends on the way language is coupled with the ongoing flicker of imitative visuals, as in this girl’s report or an encounter with an ex-friend:

“She was, like, ‘I’m so happy for you…?” but she didn’t know that, like, I already knew what she said to him….? So I just played it, like, we are the sync sisters…? Because I wanted her to find out later that she, like, had this booger hanging out of her nose the whole time…?”

Each “like” is followed by a fleeting pose, held for just an instant—the whole performance is a string of “takes”—and the ends of key phrases curl up into questions, seeking audience indications that the visuals have been received: a silent and subliminal call-and-response sort of thing, and woe betide the clunky wannabe who can’t follow the nuances, who can’t improvise a version of her own, and make it seem effortless and natural when her turn comes. Among such girls, the interrogatory incantation takes on a tentative tone, a tone that reaches perpetually for reassurance and permission to go on.

Painful to behold.

Life is one long improve, and only the method[-acting]-ready thrive. You gotta keep it real, but you got be good at it too.” Mediated, p. 84-85

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jesus at Lazarus's Tomb

“To me, what Jesus did at the tomb of Lazarus sets the world on fire; it becomes a great shout into the morass of the twentieth century. Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus. The One who claims to be God stood before the tomb, and the Greek language makes it very plain that he had two emotions. The first was tears for Lazarus; but the second emotion was blinding anger. He was furious; and he could be furious at the evil of death without being furious with himself as God. This is tremendous in the context of the twentieth century. When I look at evil—the abnormal cruelty which is not the thing as God made it—my reaction should be the same. I am able not only to cry for the evil, but I can be angry at the evil—as long as I am careful that egoism does not enter into my reaction. I have a basis to fight the thing which is abnormal to what God has made.” He Is There and He Is Not Silent, p. 32
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Time Plus Chance?

“Beginning with the impersonal, everything including man, must be explained in terms of the impersonal plus time plus chance. Do not let anyone divert your mind at this point. There are no other factors in the formula, because there are no other factors that exist. If we begin with an impersonal, we cannot then have some form of teleological concept. No one has ever demonstrated how time plus chance, beginning with an impersonal, can produce the needed complexity of the universe, let alone the personality of man. No one has given us a clue to this.” He Is There and He Is Not Silent, p. 9
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Existence and Nothing

“We are considering existence, the fact that something is there. Remember Jean Paul Sartre’s statement that the basic philosophic question is that something is there rather than that nothing is there. The first basic answer is that everything that exists has come out of absolutely nothing. In other words, you begin with nothing. Now, to hold this view, it must be absolutely nothing. It must be what I call nothing nothing. It cannot be nothing something or something nothing. If one is going to accept this answer, it must be nothing nothing, which means that there must be no energy, no mass, no motion, and no personality.

My description of nothing nothing runs like this. Suppose we had a very black blackboard which had never been used. On this blackboard we drew a circle and inside that circle there was everything that was—and there was nothing within the circle. Then we erase the circle. This is nothing nothing. You must not let anybody say that he is giving an answer beginning with nothing and then really begin with something: energy, mass, motion, or personality. That would be something, and something is not nothing.

The truth is I have never heard this argument sustained, for it is unthinkable that all that now is has come out of utter nothing. But theoretically, that is the first possible answer.” He Is There and He Is Not Silent, p.7-8

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Philosophy and Religion

“…philosophy and religion deal with the same basic questions. Christians, and especially evangelical Christians, have tended to forget this. Philosophy and religion do not deal with different questions, though they give different answers and in different terms. The basic questions of both philosophy and religion (and I mean religion here in the wide sense, including Christianity) are the questions of being—that is, what exists; man and his dilemma—that is, morals; and of how man knows. Philosophy deals with these points, but so does religion, including evangelical, orthodox Christianity.” He is There and He is Not Silent, p. 3-4

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Diversity at the Cost of Liberty


"Again, history teaches that multiethnic states are held together either by an authoritarian regime or a dominant ethnocultural core, or they are at risk of disintegration in ethnic conflict.

The Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, artificial nations all, disintegrated when the dictatorship collapsed.

In democracies it is an ethnocultural core that holds the country together. England created a United Kingdom of English, Scots, Welsh, and Irish, with England predominant. Now that Britain is no longer great, the core nations have begun to pull apart, to seek their old independence, as the English have begun to abandon the land they grew up in." Patrick Buchanan, Day or Reckoning pages 184-185

Diversity is Weakness


"Is diversity a strength? In the ideology of modernity, yes. But history teaches otherwise. For how can racial diversity be a strength when racial diversity was behind the bloodiest war in U.S. history and has been the most polarizing issue among us ever since?" Patrick Buchanan, Day or Reckoning page 183

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Democracy is Not Enough


"Democracy is not enough. Democracy is but a wineskin into which may be poured wine or poison. As T.S. Eliot warned, democracy does not contain within itself the requisites for a good or moral society.

The term "democracy," as I have said again and again, does not contain enough positive content to stand alone against the forces you dislike—it can easily be transformed by them. If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God), you should pay your respects to Hitler and Stalin.

John Adams expressed a similar sentitment: "Our Constitution was written for a religious and virtuous people; it will serve no other."

Burke anticipated Eliot when he wrote to his constituents in Bristol: "Believe me, it is a great truth, that there never was, for any long time… a mean, sluggish, careless people that ever had a good government of any kind." It is not the system that determines the character of a country, but the character of a people that determines the kind of country it will be. On reading of Sunni insurgents, Shia militias, and Al Qaeda suicide bombers, one recalls Burke's words:

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their own appetites… Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there is without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.

The character of Islamic peoples, formed by their history, beliefs, and faith, has, for centuries, called authoritarians to power. If we dethrone their tyrants, dismantle their states, and disband their armies, when we depart, the character of the people will recreate the institutions we have torn down. Human beings are not clean sheets of paper on which idealistic Wilsonian Man can write his blueprints for a democratic society." Patrick Buchanan, Day or Reckoning, pages 104-105

Ideology as Idolatry


"Ideology is modernity's golden calf. Ideology is our substitute for religious faith. Ideology, wrote Russell Kirk, is "a dogmatic political theory which is an endeavor to substitute secular goals and doctrines for religious goals and doctrines.

The term has come to mean a set of cohesive beliefs about man, society, and the world that gives meaning and purpose to men's lives, directing their actions in the public realm. "Ideology is a guiding vision of future social action," said scholar Michael Novak, for whom the vision was of the worldwide triumph of "democratic capitalism."

Ideologies are created by men of words to explain the world to come, in which their vision will guide society and they will carry the lamps, lead the way, and enjoy the prestige and power of the priestly class to be displaced. For deracinated intellectuals, ideology holds and irresistible attraction, for it both offers a coherent and compelling explanation of how the world works—and satisfies the lust for power. As Raymond Aron wrote in "Opium of the Intellectuals," "When the intellectual feels no longer attached either to the community or the religion of his forbears, he looks to progressive ideology to fill the vacuum."

Dr. Kirk spent his career as a man of letters fighting "the curse of ideological infatuation." In "The Drug of Ideology," he defined what ideology was, and what it was not:

"Ideology" does not mean political theory or principle, even though many journalists and some professors commonly employ the term in that sense. Ideology really means political fanaticism—and, more precisely, the belief that this world of ours can be converted into a Terrestrial Paradise through the operation of positive law and positive planning." Patrick Buchanan, Day or Reckoning pages 55-56

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Death Penalty in a Post-Christian Society


"…in a post-Christian society, the idea of a death penalty is quite abhorrent. A man's greatest possession is not his soul, which does not exist, but his life, which is all he has. In that case the very idea of execution is quite intolerable, even if the alternative is—as it turned out to be–a grave increase in armed crime and the gradual arming of the police force."

The argument between Christianity and liberalism had been quietly lost during the First World War, and particularly in the mud-pits of Passchendaele and the Somme, when men from the educated classes had seen so much death and so little mercy that they had come to hate killing of any sort, and had ceased for ever to believe in the certainties of the world before 1914. In the lingering afterglow of Christian belief, the old guard had been able to preserve some remnants of punishment and retribution. But in general the ruling elite could not justify such cruelties to themselves, and had come to despise the masses for clinging to their belief in the power of the noose. " Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain, P. 272

The New Pagans


"Nakedness, explicit portrayals of the sex act, liberal use of swear-words, 'frank' and 'non-judgemental' depictions of drug-taking, homosexuality and prostitution were at first tentative, but quickly became so commonplace that they ceased to count as news. Only a few years before, wondering foreigners such as George Mikes had recounted the repression and restraint of the British, laughing that while other men had mistresses, the British had hot-water bottles, while their wives sheltered from the cold in nightgowns made of tweed. Now the entire country seemed to be obsessed with staring at naked female chests, swearing and making dirty jokes. Like the pagans of old, unaffected by climate, the British were now dancing around a giant phallus. Unlike the pagans theirs was a sterile phallus, disarmed by condoms and pills—the first heathen sexual cult to be based around sterility than fertility." Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain, P. 219

The Sentimentalized Pseudo-Event

Our culture is so utterly devoid of meaning and purpose that the pseudo-event has reached primary status.  Ponder for a moment of what events the media deems 'newsworthy.'  Who was eliminated from American Idol, interviews with the winner of Survivor, Paris Hilton being kicked out of Japan, etc., etc.  But the pseudo-event is taken to a new level of importance when it is reincarnated as a remembrance of the pseudo-event.  Here is an example:



Now, I enjoy baseball, and even count myself as a Boston Red Sox fan.  However, professional baseball itself is a pseudo-event, or at least a platform upon which the pseudo-event is enacted.  Morally speaking, the pseudo-event is neutral, as Wiki-pedia states that a family portrait is an example of a pseudo-event.  However, the celebrations, indulgences, and yes, idolatry that surround the pseudo-event are not morally neutral.

The existence of a film that recounts the pseudo-event of a professional baseball playoff series from a mere six years ago is evidence of the utter triviality of that which our culture celebrates.  The sentimentalized pseudo-event is a nihilistic force that attempts to create meaning where there is none, and distract from things of real meaning.  Allowing oneself to participate in such things can lead only to moral atrophy. 


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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Humor as Assault


"The new, 'iconoclastic' humour changed the way that the British, especially the middle class, thought about themselves. But people who use the word 'iconoclastic' in a casual, almost approving fashion have little idea of the damage that image-smashers can do, not least because the vandalism, once started, is very hard to stop. It destroyed the national unity created by wartime, and made it impossible for people in serious public life to speak as they had always done, dress as they had always done, and take the sort of holiday the liked. Comedy killed the upper-class accent, the tweed jacket and the grouse moor. It made an entire class too ridiculous to rule. See and hear film or sound recordings of them now, after the laughter has done its work, and you cannot believe that such people took themselves seriously, let alone that they once peacefully governed much of the world and defeated the 'efficient' and 'modern' might of the German Reich." Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain, P. 158-159

They Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To


"Thomas Cranmer and the great translators also consciously built their books to last, just as the architects of church buildings had done, and continued to do. They believed that some ideas lay outside normal time and could therefore be expressed in a way that defied passing fashion. This belief survived until the late twentieth century, the first era in history which consciously preferred the temporary to the lasting, the modish to the classical. It affected many other things apart from language: Christopher Wren's church buildings are quite unlike his other architecture, though obviously by the same hand. Cardinal John Henry Newman's prayers and poetry are written in a style quite unlike his prose, and so on." Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain, P. 109

Monday, September 20, 2010

Education is a Conservative Activity


"Proper education is a fundamentally conservative activity, based on the assumption that a body of knowledge exists, is in the hands of the adult and educated, and can be passed on in measurable ways, by disciplined learning reinforced with authority. Since the Left in Britain have never reconciled themselves to authority—monarchical, aristocratic, religious, traditional and ancient, their attitude towards the inherited education system remains instinctively, automatically revolutionary. Only once they consider their social revolution to be complete will they reimpose the necessary order and discipline, something which happens in all post-revolutionary societies once the new masters are firmly in power and the subversive morality and ethos of the revolutionary period become a threat to the new order, just as they were a danger to the old one. Britain's ruined education system is in many ways the victim of a long and unfinished civil war, and will not be left in peace until one side or the other triumphs for good." Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain, P. 71-72

Immigration and Multiculturalism


"There is no doubt that the arrival of a large number of immigrants from former imperial colonies has helped to confuse the teaching of history. Yet there is no reason why it should have made us so coy. The West Indian immigrants who arrived first were in many cases more British than the British, having been taught the history and poetry of Britain in highly traditional schools modeled on the old British system. The other new arrivals, though less aware of Anglo-Saxon culture, came here very much of their own free will, partly because of a British obligation to take them in and partly because—in the case of the East African Asians—they rightly expected fairer treatment from Britian than they were receiving under Jomo Kenyatta or Idi Amin. A confident nation, whose teachers believed in their own country, would have seen history as a chance to make the new arrivals more fully British. Instead, apologetically and shamefacedly, those teachers saw our history as an embarrassment. Even though the immigrants had actually come here to share in British traditions formed over centuries of experience, leading to growing wisdom and tolerance, it was assumed that they would find the study of those traditions offensive or racist. And thus was born the idea of multicultural education, yet another excuse to denigrate the nation-state, apologize for the Empire and abolish the lore of the British tribe. Itcould have not come at a worse time.

The serious decline in standards which resulted from the abolition of grammar schools, the watering down of examinations to help cover up this decline, the growing power of individual teachers over what was to be examined, all helped to destroy the traditional history syllabus. Alternative sources of information, particularly the powerful new form of the TV documentary, began to popularize views of the recent past which had previously been held only by a radical minority. Any of these things by itself would have shaken the foundations of traditional history. All together, and combined with the rush to apologize to our new multicultural citizens, they demolished an entire discipline in a matter of years. In an incredibly short time, we have been turned into a nation without heroes, without pride in our past or knowledge of either our past triumphs or our past follies and disasters. We are like an amnesia patient, waking up in the hospital ward, with both past and future great blank spaces stretching behind and before us, doomed to repeat mistakes we do not even know we have already made." Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain, P. 61-63

Friday, September 17, 2010

Born Yesterday


"Most of us were born yesterday, to all intents and purposes. The lore of our tribe, the stories of our ancestors, the memories which our parents held in common, have simply ceased to be. Thirty of forty years ago, we might all have known the stories of Alfred and the cakes, of Canute and the waves, of Caractacus and Boadicea, Hereward the Wake and Thomas a Becket. The titles of the parables—the Sower, the Prodigal Son, the Talents—would have instantly conjured up a picture in the rich colours of a stained-glass window. Phrases such as 'all sorts and conditions of men' and 'when two or three are gathered together', 'the fatted calf' and 'he passed by on the other side' would have meant the same thing to everyone who heard them. Now these things are as meaningless to millions as the forgotten myths of Greece.
We drive past ancient churches, Victorian town halls, abandoned grammar schools and guano spattered statues, quite unaware of the forces that brought them into being, the struggles they commemorate or the sort of people who built them. " Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain, p 44

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Decline by Details or How to Revolutionize a Culture by Baby Steps


"One of the great blows to stability has been the change in family life, from the first appearance of the teenager in the late 1930s, to Edmund Leach's disturbing Reith lectures of 1967, which blamed the traditional family for most of society's problems. There has been a transformation in the way in which people arrange and furnish their houses, the sort of food they eat and where and how they eat it. Cheap pre-cooked fast food, the freezer and the microwave, have practically ended the formal meal around the table, and allowed family members to remain in front of the television or at the computer keyboard without needing to interrupt their activities. The spread of central heating and double glazing has allowed even close-knit families to avoid each other's company in well-warmed houses, rather than huddling round a single hearth forced into unwanted companionship, and so compelled to adapt to each other's foibles and become more social, less selfish beings.

Clothes have also undergone a complete change, in styles and materials, even in purpose, for children as well as adults, while hairstyles for both sexes express the alteration in the balance of power between men and women, parents and children. Children no longer dress as children, but as miniature adults, with their own scaled down adult fashions, underlining the truth that they actually owe more loyalty to their peers than to their parents. The alteration has even changed the streetscape leading to the disappearance of hats and the decline of coats, the rise of the trainer and the near-disappearance of the leather shoe. Uniforms, too, serve a much less layered, deferential society, and a more violent and unsupervised one. Policemen have tossed aside their formal, restrained tunics and their helmets, and now waddle about, hung with weaponry and radios, in militaristic pullovers and flat caps. Thanks to the years of terrorism, servicemen and women long ago gave up appearing on the streets in uniform, and there are now so few of them anyway that a planned change in the rules is unlikely to have much effect…

Other physical changes have propelled and exaggerated these new ways of thinking. The atomization of society by new types of housing has broken up the old sense of belonging. The crazed over-use of private cars and the triumph of the supermarket over the personal service grocery have kept us from meeting our fellow-creatures as effectively as any strict regime prison, and often reduced us to the level of objects rolling along someone else's production line. Greater than all these things is television, which has replaced individual imagination with images provided and selected by others, but also, and perhaps more importantly, destroyed the old forms of social sanction, a fear of the neighbor's opinion of the even greater fear of upsetting the family. Television provided new judges of our behavior, who were wittier, cleverer and more open-minded than anyone we knew in person. It also transformed child-rearing and narrowed the horizons of childhood itself.

Once, programmes for children had some reference to the outside world, to the old traditions of story-telling. Now, programme-makers devise Teletubbies who are living televisions, with little screens in their stomachs, a simple reflection of the fact that children learn to live their lives through the screen.

Closely linked to this takeover of our brains by TV studios has been the rebuilding of our towns, cities and villages. Life in isolated boxes, next to neighbours with whom we have nothing in common except a postcode, has pushed people into the arms of the new electronic culture. With the deportation of people from crowded city centres to remote estates, the whole shape of our urban life has been altered. Streets are wider, roads straighter, a highly literate cityscape of ornate shopsigns and wordy advertisements has given way to a post-literate one of pictograms, posters and logos. Detail has vanished, replaced by sweeping (and windswept) prospects. Smelly but characteristic features of town life, such as breweries and cattlemarkets, have been uprooted, as have most small urban industries, so that few of us can see any connection between what we consume and its real origins in the field, farmyard or slaughterhouse. Specifically local or specifically British styles of architecture have given way to the international blandness of concrete and glass, fresh air to air conditioning, actually needless in our temperate climate but forced on us by the strange style of buildings which we have chosen. The universal conscription of women into paid work has emptied the suburbs, rich and poor, so that streets, parks, and gardens are depopulated during the day. Distances between home and work, home and school, and extended families have grown far greater.

Lonely and self-reliant, much of our social life concentrated in the workplace rather than the home, we have become a people dependent on television for stimulation of social contact in our leisured hours. Yet few seem to realize the power of a medium which stole into our lives while we were not paying attention. Early television was nothing like the modern force which has now displaced all other forms of culture and entertainment. Its effect on the imagination has been the motor of the new morality and the new conformism." Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain, P. 5-9

Western Civilization's Disease


"It was not long after the end of the Great War that farseeing observers predicted the likelihood of another and it became plain that western civilization had brought itself into a condition from which full recovery was unlikely. The devastation, both material and moral, had gone so deep that it turned the creative energies from their course, first into frivolity, and then into the channel of self-destruction." Jacque Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, P. 712

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No Regard For Prophets


"Fair warning had been given to all thinking people in the West by an English journalist named Normal Angell. In 1909 he had written a pamphlet entitled Europe's Optical Illusion. His thesis was simple: modern war between great powers means a dead loss for both victor and vanquished. The pamphlet attracted wide attention, which led to Angell to expand it into a fully documented work retitled The Great Illusion—A Study of the Relation of Military Power in Nations to Their Economic and Social Advantage. In it he quoted the words of leaders on all sides who entertained the great illusion. He showed that the existing ways of international finance put the wealth of one nation at the mercy of another. Hostilities would ensure their common loss. Colonies were no asset but a subsidized expense; annexing them or some part of a defeated country, or occupying it to levy tribute was yet more wasteful. Besides, the cost of an up-to-date war would be ruinous. All the resources of all the participants would be drained dry. No nation and no individual would benefit from victory. A large-scale war in 20C Europe would be suicide disguised as self-interest.

The argument was so clear, temperate, and convincing that all who gave their minds to it believed it. But it is one thing to believe that one's previous idea is wrong and another to act on the newly revealed right. Habit, social pressures, a streak of fatalism conspire to keep action in the groove already dug. The Great Illusion was not heeded by enacted." P 705-706

The Machine, Mental Illness, and Drugs


"The machine—railroad, motor, bicycle, plane, motion picture—lured the senses into a new addiction: speed. Trains could now run at 100 miles an hour. But speed in an enclosed space quickly loses its thrill. The car, then mostly an open affair, makes the wind jet passing the ears give a sense of heroic recklessness. In 1901 the poet Wilfred Scawen Blunt wrote in his diary: "Going at 15 miles an hour. It is certainly an exhilarating experience." He would have been even more exhilarated nine years later had he crossed the Channel in the cockpit of Bleriot's airplane—or he could have taken up the new sport of hang gliding from hilltops.

Offsetting these cheerful doings was the increase in mental illness and the spreading use of drugs. Something in industrial civilization seemed to be too much for the steadily alert mind to bear. In a long essay, Civilization, Its Cause and Cure, Edward Carpenter gave a clear account of the affliction and specified remedy a simple PRIMITIVISM. At the Paris hospital La Salpetriere, Charcot and Janet dealt with a stream of patients suffering from hysteria, the name that covered depression, anxiety, causeless excitement, motor disturbances, and "simulated diseases"—those that have not discoverable basis in the body. Some few of the troubled had multiple personalities. On hears an echo of the strange fact in Stevenson's tale about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

An increasing recourse to drugs suggested a like maladjustment. Addiction, mainly in the upper classes, was viewed with sympathy. It was not a criminal offense to buy or sell morphine. Freud for a time prescribed cocaine to some of his excitable patients, and we know that Sherlock Holmes, when he was bored, injected himself with a 7 percent solution. Soon after their accession, the tsar and tsarina in St. Petersburg were taking a mixture of marijuana and hyoscine by way of relief from official cares. More thoroughgoing, a man named Aleistair Crowley preached the joys of the drug experience combined with black magic. Thus the late Timothy Leary was not the first in line. Nor have acolytes disappeared: a new edition of Crowley's Magick appeared in 1997." Jacque Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, P. 628-629

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Irony of Democracy


"After the age-long struggle for the vote, democratic countries show an extraordinary attitude toward it: they boast of their form of government and express nothing but contempt for politicians—the men and women they have themselves chosen. Worse, of those who have the vote, fewer than half use it. Lastly, exerting influence on the people's representatives, "lobbies" re-create on a large scale the former role of organized interests." Jacque Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, p. 536