Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Some Links I Like (Or At Least Found Interesting)

First up one from Eric Carpenter just today on the Confederate flag, Christians Should Not Fly This Flag.

Let's return to the Confederate Battle flag. Why would any Christian fly it? Because it offends so many people, it could easily get in the way of any sort of gospel proclamation to those offended. That is enough of a reason to jettison any connection with this particular flag.

The insistence of flying a flag that was the banner of the Confederacy makes no sense to me. Like Eric points out it seems that a large portion of our country doesn't seem to realize that the Civil War ended a long time ago and the South lost. Thanks to the South losing millions of black Americans, many our brothers and sisters in Christ, are not forced to work in inhumane conditions for whites, many who claimed to be Christians. Perhaps even worse the Civil War put the idea of Federalism, states rights and limited government on trial for the worst possible reason and the aftermath was the ever increasing monstrosity called the Federal government. We never got to have the states rights debate and never will because those two words. "states rights" has become inexorably linked with slavery.

I might take Eric one further and suggest a few more flags that Christians should never fly:

The next link is a twofer because it covers the same topic, the state of the church. One is from Ed Stetzer, The State of the Church In America: Hint: It's Not Dying. Ed argues something that I have for a while, namely that the church is fine, it is American religion that is dying and in doing so the church will be able to break out and be distinctive.

Yes, the church in the West—the United States included—is in transition right now. But transitioning is not the same as dying, particuarly if you hold the belief that Christianity is represented by people who live for Christ, not check "Christian" on a survey form.

While I believe we need to understand reality inside our ranks, I don't believe the situation is quite as dire as many are making it out to be. Actually, no serious researcher believes Christianity in America is dying. Not one.

Instead, I believe this current cultural shift is bringing clarity that will assist in defining who we are as Christians, and that is a good thing in some ways.

I agree with Ed, this is a transition away from Christendom and toward a more legitimate expression of the church. The second essay is from Mark Tooley and I think he is dead wrong, if interesting. His essay in the Washington Post, Christianity Is Not Going Away, argues that not only is Christendom alive and well, it has been a great thing for the world.

So America often feels more secular even if Americans are not.  But all of us, however unknowingly, still swim in the cultural and moral waters warmed by Christendom.  Even arch-secularists, in their constant demands for ever greater rights and self autonomy, speak in the language Christendom created.

Today’s reputedly secular Western society in some ways is a victory for Christendom.  Across the nations once described as Christendom, there is unprecedented social peace, political stability, legal equality, amelioration of poverty, and historic domestic tranquility.  Many champions of Christendom across history, such as the Christian Democrats who struggled to rebuild post-WWII Europe, would be amazed by their success.

No less significantly, Christendom is now no longer the West but much if not most of the world.  It is felt not just where churches are growing dramatically, in Africa and Asia, but everywhere that lawful government, free markets, legal equality, human rights and wide prosperity have reached.

Religious liberals need to reconsider their hostility to Christendom, remembering that the original Social Gospel, with its thirst for justice, was unabashedly Christendom-centered.  And religious conservatives, without reducing their passion for needed moral reforms, should be mindful of their blessings and position of unrealized strength.

I agree that in the nations of Christendom secular life is better in most respect than in non-Christendom countries but for purposes of the church it is without question in my mind that the church has languished where Christendom is strongest. 

How about a couple of political links. The first is It's Time Free Market Populism and this essay by Timothy Carney writing for Intercollegiate Review argues that neither the Obama model for America or the Romey model that has been the party line for Republicans works for most Americans. This was the money quote re: the extraordinarily wealthy suburbs of Washington D.C.:

Those northern Virginia counties are clue to what’s going on. Seven of the ten wealthiest counties in America are bedroom communities of the nation’s capital. The wealthiest zip code in Maryland, 20854 in the town of Potomac with a $140,000 median household income, is 72 percent Democrat by registration, according to real estate website “Sperling’s BestPlaces.”

The high pay and exorbitant benefits of federal employees is a small part of that. It’s the government contractors, the congressmen-turned lobbyists, regulators-turned-consultants, and other remoras riding on the back of the federal leviathan that have turned the Beltway region into Lifestyles of the Rich and Connected.

Liberals blame GOP policies for growing inequality, but the pattern has persisted through the Obama years, too. Median incomes have stagnated and unemployment stays stubbornly high. Corporations, meanwhile, are sitting on record stockpiles of cash after making record profits. Small business, is not living so high on the hog: New business formation has reached an all-time low.

If you’re connected to power or big enough to afford a lobbyist who is, you can do well. If not, you’re out of luck.

Turns out that the rich and connected vote Democratic because they want to keep the Federal gravy train flowing. Meanwhile old guard Republicans keep feeding tax breaks and subsidies to corporations because that is where their bread is buttered. Meanwhile the average American is struggling by week to week and no one seems to care.

Then there is this post from the American Conservative, 70 Years Of "New Isolationism", a look at the history of the charge of isolationism that is made every time someone suggests that we might want to not get into a new war or intervention.

Actually, Americans should beware those who conjure up phony warnings of a “new isolationism” to advance a particular agenda. The essence of that agenda, whatever the particulars and however packaged, is this: If the United States just tries a little bit harder—one more intervention, one more shipment of arms to a beleaguered “ally,” one more line drawn in the sand—we will finally turn the corner and the bright uplands of peace and freedom will come into view.

This is a delusion, of course. But if you write a piece exposing that delusion, don’t bother submitting it to the Times.

By and large little good has come from U.S. interventionism. Sure there was the trump card of World War II but that came about in part because we intervened in the first World War. Just look at the last decade. Once we leave Afghanistan the Taliban will take back over, girls won't be able to go to school and Al Qaeda will move back in, a decade of billions spent and lives wasted for nothing. Iraq is teetering. Libya saw four American murdered and tortured by an Al Qaeda fueled mob, something that wouldn't have happened under Qaddafi, the guy we helped kick out. In Egypt Christians are being persecuted and women are raped for showing up in public, something that wouldn't have happened under Mubarak, another dictator we helped kick out. Meanwhile people are calling for us to do the exact same thing in Syria when any rational person knows it will end up being another Libya or Egypt. It is high time we stop intervening around the world because it generally just makes things worse.

A couple of others. Check out this look at the new head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Russell Moore: Evangelical Leader Preaches Pullback From Politics, Culture Wars.

When Mr. Moore took over in June as the Southern Baptists' top public-policy advocate, he startled some in the church by declaring as dead and gone the entire concept of the Bible Belt as a potent mix of Jesus and American boosterism. "Good riddance," he told thousands of the faithful at the group's annual convention in Houston in June. "Let's not seek to resuscitate it."

Amen to that!I think the switch from Richard Land who I never cared much for to Russ Moore is a very positive move.

Another great story from Dirty Jobs Mike Rowe on the need for people willing to gain work skills rather than just going to college because that is what they are expected to do, Mike Rowe on How Many Are Following the ‘Worst Advice in the History of the World’.

Of the roughly three million jobs that companies are struggling to fill, Rowe said only 8 to 12 percent require a college degree.

“That’s not me saying don’t go to college. I’m saying, to start your life [$150,000] in the hole, [$80,000] in the hole with your art history major…that’s why you’ve got a trillion dollars in debt. These kids can’t find a job that they’ve been trained for, and the expectation is, it should be waiting for me. It ain’t.”

I agree wholeheartedly. We have made blue collar skilled work into something akin to working at McDonalds and we need a lot more people who have taken courses on manufacturing technology and diesel mechanics instead of random liberal arts courses that teach nothing of use. I am not anti-learning for learning's sake but for crying out loud you can go to a library and borrow the great works of literature for free. I have learned a lot more since I have been out of school than I did when I was in, and man do I wish that I had learned something useful for the work world when I was 19 instead of taking classes on American cultural studies or Geologic History of Dinosaurs (real class I took).

Finally an essay on the lies of feminism, Feminism and the Razing of the Village. No revelation here, I think feminism as it is understood in our culture is a massive con job that has led to unhappier women and disengaged men, creating a culture that perversely empowers men to not work and not take responsibility instead giving us millions of households where women work and care for the children and often men are completely absent. According to the author, Leslie Loftis, in a shot at Hillary Clinton's It Takes A Village, we have traded the village we already had of extended family for a "village" that is mostly the government. Husbands have been replaced by Uncle Sam, stay at home moms have been replaced by daycare warehouses and women get the short end of the stick on every level. As she points out, ironically the idea of staying home is rapidly becoming a luxury good affordable only for the most wealthy. The elite get what the middle class used to have. Gee thanks for that!

Anyway, those are some links I have found interesting, Give them a read!

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