Thursday, August 31, 2017

Here Is The Alternative To The Nashville Statement

James White posted this on Twitter:

So a yogi chick is calling people who don't like the Nashville Statement to embrace "progressive Xnty" where you get stuff like "queer, embodiment and ecofeminist theologies". Well sign me up! Oh, and here is good news "You are perfect as you are". Now if that isn't sound theology I don't know what is. Who needs that dirty, nasty old cross with the dead Jewish guy, you are already perfect!

The usual suspects from Patheos and Jen Hatmaker to Nadia Bolz-Weber are out in full force. People would love Christianity if it just jettisoned all of that messy doctrine! Of course they would because it would cease to be Christianity at all. That is the whole point anyway for a lot of these folks.

On a more serious note, the response from the "progressive" religious camp is actually proof positive that statements like the Nashville Statement are necessary because there are far too many people given a platform by heretics and the secular media alike that espouse things like queer, embodiment and ecofeminist theologies. I had to look up embodiment theology and I still don't quite get it but it is pretty much as nonsensical as I assumed.

If the church chooses to hide in our seminaries and argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, we leave the public discourse to foul mouthed "theologians" like Nadia Bolz-Weber and other assorted doctrinal hacks and wolves. The Nashville Statement is not perfect nor are the signers but a solid, Bible based statement on a critical topic is preferable to silently abandoning the field of discourse.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Some Thoughts On The Nashville Statement

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, now apparently known as CBMW: A Coalition For Biblical Sexuality, released the results of a council in Nashville titled, somewhat unoriginally, The Nashville Statement. The work of CBMW is something I have supported for a long time, their old logo and a link to their webpage has been incorporated in my blog for many years. I prefer the specificity of the old name but I understand where they are going with this. The statement is signed by a Who's Who of conservative evangelicals, mainly drawn from the ranks of the Reformed. The names include people like John Piper, J.I. Packer, Al Mohler, Wayne Grudem, Al Mohler and the whole T4G crew, R.C. Sproul, etc. as well as people like James Dobson, Francis Chan, Johnny Hunt and Russell Moore.

On to the statement. From the preamble:
We are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it—particularly as male and female. Christian Scripture teaches that there is but one God who alone is Creator and Lord of all. To him alone, every person owes glad-hearted thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance. This is the path not only of glorifying God, but of knowing ourselves. To forget our Creator is to forget who we are, for he made us for himself. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing him who made us. We did not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be.
That is a perfectly valid and true statement. At the heart of both the homosexual and "transgender" movements is the simple statement "Did God really say?" that echoes the words of the Enemy to Eve in the Garden. It is not coincidental that in every case of heresy, the underlying issue is always doubting God's Word. The great issue of the day is the perversion of human sexuality in ways that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. Who in the early 2000's with the exception of some extreme radicals would have thought that college sports conferences would boycott entire states over the issue of not letting men use women's restroom and locker facilities? But here we are. To my everlasting sadness, many people who profess Christ as Lord also deny His teaching on human sexuality, a contradiction that can never be resolved.

The statement itself is pretty standard stuff, 14 affirmations and denials. It is not nor is it intended to be an exhaustive theological treatise. It is a simple listing of what Bible believing Christians ought to affirm the Bible teaches about sexuality and what the Bible denies about sexuality. I am not going to go through all of them, they are common Bible sense statements. I did want to point out one of the articles though, number 10 which is already proving to be the most controversial. Here is a screenshot because I couldn't copy and paste it and I am too lazy to write it out.

That is also pretty straightforward. Sin is sin and approving of sin is also sin. That is just straight Romans 1 stuff, emphasis mine.
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:29-32)
Approving of sin is condemned just as sinning itself. Proclaiming your approval of what God declares is sinful and deserving of death is to rebel against God, getting back to that same question "Did God really say?".

My view of the Nashville Statement is that it is an unfortunate necessity, a statement of common sense and basic Biblical doctrine that sadly needs to be reaffirmed today especially since so many "Christians" seem determined to virtue signal by approving of the grossest of sins.

It is pretty obvious that some left-wing groups encouraged people that just as obviously haven't read the statement to go the Facebook page of CBMW and leave silly, vacuous comments. I left a comment that suggested that people had not read the statement and was responded to by a Gunnar Sherrill (on a public post) who accused me of advocating theocracy. I was not biting.

Mr. Sherrill's comment is what passes for civil and thoughtful discourse among Americans today. As an aside he posted comments on a number of posts including the obligatory accusations of CBMW being Nazis and/or the KKK. Many comments seem to come from people who either object to the interpretative conclusions of the authors of the Nashville statement without any actual attempt to interact with the statement from Scripture or, as I suspect is the case, what they really object to is people having a position on human sexuality that uses the Bible as their authoritative source rather than the current culture. In other words, they don't so much object to the opinion itself as they do object to having an opinion in the first place.

At the risk of sounding partisan, you have to realize that the same people "punching Nazis" in the streets will be happy to "punch patriarchs" in the streets or perhaps even in churches. Placating and compromising with these people or virtue signaling in the hope that they will persecute you last is not going to work and worse it is dishonoring to God and cowardly.

Bottom line for me, if you can't agree in principle with the essence of what is written here, I have to question if you have even a cursory understanding of the Scriptures in general and what they have to say uniformly about human sexuality in particular. Denny Burk in a follow-up post wrote:
Anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether, even if they claim otherwise.
I agree wholeheartedly. Sexual morality is not the Gospel but you cannot understand the Gospel apart from an understanding of the seriousness of sin and the Scriptures are crystal clear that sexual sin is an area of critical emphasis when it comes to human depravity and rebellion against God.

I unapologetically endorse the Nashville Statement. There is nothing I find in substantive error in the statement. I am no one but a simple blogger but I believe the entire church needs to stand up for the Biblical design for human sexuality that stands counter to all forms of sexual immorality: adultery, divorce, homosexuality, pedophilia, gender dysphoria, incest, etc. While some of those sins carry more weight culturally and are more grevious Scripturally because of the harm they cause to others, they all are violations of God's created order and all are sins that must be repented of.

The Nashville Statement is a statement that shouldn't be necessary but it is also a statement that absolutely is necessary. If the church cannot stand courageously and without apology for something as clearly taught in Scripture as human sexuality, there is little hope for the church to be faithful in any areas.

I have signed the statement, nobody that I am, and I encourage you to first read the statement in its entirety, ponder it and if you are in agreement add your own name to the statement.

Why Do We Make Education So Complicated?

These are the two governing documents for Amish run parochial schools in Indiana....

As you can tell, they aren't very thick. One is about 30 pages and the other is around 10 pages. Somehow the Amish manage to educate thousands of kids each year in Indiana, even though they only attend school (generally) through the 8th grade and none of their teachers has a degree in education (or a degree in anything or a high school diploma).

Granted, there aren't really Amish doctors, scientists and engineers. There certainly is a need for more complex, high level academic training at the high school level for kids heading into technical fields in college. Amish grammar and spelling is often poor but then again they are pretty much 100% bi-lingual. On the other hand, almost every really nice house in our vicinity is owned by an Amish family and most every small business is likewise Amish run. Virtually every child is raised in an intact family, divorce is basically non-existent and family/community ties are very strong.

So if this community can consistently churn out thousands of students with an 8th grade education that are industrious, family oriented and not a drain on society, why do "English" pubic schools need to have every teacher obtain a Master's degree (usually in education rather than the subject they teach)? Why does the U.S. Department of Education need an annual budget of $68,000,000,000 for 50,000,000 children, or about $1,360 per student when no one in the Dept. of Education actually teaches any children? Why do we need a Federal Department of Education in the first place? Why have historic trends shown an ever increasing percentage of our GDP spent on education but have a correspondingly poorer output?

Why are we not allowed to ask these questions without being accused of not caring about The Children!!!!

I am not recommending we go to a system of 8th grade education governed by a couple of what amount to pamphlets. But I do wonder why we have turned "education" into an industry that seems at times to be a giant jobs machine for people with education degrees and is so incredibly complex and cumbersome that parents and students alike appear to just be carried along by the torrent, hoping for the best. What the Amish have that is missing from the general public education is real local control. The schools are smaller and the parents via the school board have pretty absolute control over what goes on. As I will show in a future post, when the parents volunteer their time to actually build the school building, they tend to be pretty invested in the school!

As parents get further and further from the running of the school and more and more people from outside of the school district, including a lot of people that never have been to the school district in the first place and probably have never even heard of it, exert more control over the school, it becomes ever more complicated. It becomes an arcane world of experts and jargon, meetings and conferences, teaching methods and human resources.

Maybe the solution is not more and more advanced education degrees and fancier teaching methods but simply moving control back to the local school and the parents of the kids and for crying out loud just making it less complicated.

A (Sort Of) Defense Of Joel Osteen

Mark this down because you won't see those words again. I don't feel a need to defend Joel Osteen as a brother in Christ, because he pretty clearly is not, but the attacks on him have a different motivation.

A lot of people, including me, poked at Joel Osteen because "his church" in Houston didn't open up to shelter people. My point was that Osteen was a heretic and a false teacher long before Hurricane Harvey but the reality of the story behind Lakewood church, including Twitter attacks and videos from guys who are pretty clearly homosexual and have an ulterior motive, is a little more complex.

Lakewood "Church" is just a giant auditorium. In a report that gets to the real story better than some angry ranting on Twitter, you read the following:
And considering that Houston officials had set up shelters throughout the city — including a massive location at the George R. Brown Convention Center just five miles from Lakewood — Iloff said that the church had planned to host people in the event that those locations were full or at capacity.
“We had warning with this storm, so they set up shelters around the city … that convention center is 5 or 6 times bigger [than Lakewood],” he told Faithwire. “They set that up with everything from the cots, food, triage.”
Iloff also noted that, while Lakewood was more than willing to make-do and house people, unlike the convention center, Lakewood has “no showers” and no kitchen, making the church more of an emergency shelter than anything else. Initially, the church waited to hear from city officials and planned to respond if needed.
So the city already has emergency shelters and Lakewood was willing to serve as an overflow. It isn't like there isn't historical evidence of what happens when you try to house people in mass somewhere that is not properly equipped.

This is the description of the Superdome in New Orleans in August of 2005, right after Hurricane Katrina, from a story in the New York Times, Superdome: Haven QuicklyBecomes an Ordeal.
They had flocked to the arena seeking sanctuary from the winds and waters of Hurricane Katrina. But understaffed, undersupplied and without air-conditioning or even much lighting, the domed stadium quickly became a sweltering and surreal vault, a place of overflowing toilets and no showers. Food and water, blankets and sheets, were in short supply. And the dome's reluctant residents exchanged horror stories, including reports, which could not be confirmed by the authorities, of a suicide and of rapes.
By Wednesday the stink was staggering. Heaps of rotting garbage in bulging white plastic bags baked under a blazing Louisiana sun on the main entry plaza, choking new arrivals as they made their way into the stadium after being plucked off rooftops and balconies.
The odor billowing from toilets was even fouler. Trash spilled across corridors and aisles, slippery with smelly mud and scraps of food.
Even a "church" like Lakewood is not equipped to handle even 500 displaced people. No kitchens, no showers, an staff untrained in dealing with medical issues and possible criminal behavior, it isn't really an ideal place to house people or even a suitable place except in case of emergency. Obviously when you have a building that cost tens of millions of dollars and is lavishly outfitted, you don't want hordes of people messing it up. That is a lesson for a different day, when your "church" is treated like a religious museum instead of a Kingdom outpost, that is a problem and one that is true at Lakewood, in fancy cathedrals and in many orthodox Christian churches alike.

There is an important message here. Even having a completely neutered "Gospel" is not going to insulate you from social media attacks by people with blue check marks and rainbow flags in their Twitter profile. Make no mistake, the guys tweeting and posting videos in the parking lot of Lakewood don't give a fig about the false teaching of Lakewood because they aren't there on every Sunday when heresy is being proclaimed from the stage. They simply see this as an easy way to paint "Christians" as hypocrites to provide cover for their own wanton sin and rebellion against God.

Again let me be clear. Joel Osteen is not a Christian as far as I can tell. He is a false teacher and espouses "another gospel" of the same severity as that anathematized by Paul in his letter to the Galatians. But the attacks on him by many people are aimed not at him but at genuine Christians being lumped in with him. While the church in America is mobilizing via volunteer and financial donations in a huge way, there are still those that will wag an accusing finger at Christians as well as religious non-Christians like Osteen and the Mormons and claim they are not doing their part. It is an obvious lie and one we should expect but a lie repeated often enough serves the dishonest better than the truth. By all means call out Joel Osteen for his heretical teaching but be careful about siding with unbelievers in your attack because often the real target is you.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Review: The Strange Death Of Europe

Nothing is more telling regarding the state of affairs in Europe that author Douglas Murray, an open homosexual, laments the loss of Christendom in his new book The Strange Death Of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam. This is one of the most powerful books on the topic of mass immigration and cultural cohesion and perhaps Murray's status as a member of one protected class gives him some cover to criticize Islam and Europe's suicidal immigration policy, although that didn't save the life of Pim Fortuyn, an early sacrificial victim on the altar of cultural enrichment. Or perhaps he is like so many others and just no longer cares. Either way The Strange Death of Europe is a piercing clarion call for the slumbering and apathetic people of Europe to wake up and at least start asking the hard questions.

The question Murray himself ponders repeatedly is this: can you continue to flood Europe with people that do not share European liberal values and don't seem interested in adopting them and expect Europe to remain the same? The answer is obvious except to the Angela Merkel's of this world.

Murray spends a great deal of time examining the mindset of Europe in the century since the end of World War II and describe what I saw as a broken, exhausted people that are tired of fighting and just waiting to die a death they think they somehow deserve because of past sins of dead people, real and imagined. There is some truth to the evils that have occurred in Europe but it is not true that these were unique to or especially worse in Europe. Other cultures may not have been as efficient as Europeans but their relative lack of "success" is not for the absence of trying. Europe's basic problem is that too many European elites see nothing in Europe worth preserving so why not hand the keys over to new people? As I mentioned, the big problem with that mindset is that there is absolutely no reason to think that the features of Europe that make it so enticing will continue on in perpetuity when Europeans are a minority or extinct. If you look at a list of nations dominated by Islam you would be hard pressed to find even one you would want to live in thanks to oppressive laws and cultural norms. When Islam replaces Christendom why would you expect a different result simply because of a change in address?

One of the most troubling and infuriating aspects of the book are those places where Murray ponders why so many "leaders" insist on a suicidal policy of mass immigration in spite of the widespread disapproval of the people and the evidence that it is proving to be a disaster. Murray posits two possible initial explanations. One that it is a complete surprise to people that had no idea what would happen because they lacked any foresight. The other is that it is a calculated effort to replace Europeans. I am not sure which is more troubling, but I tend to lean toward the latter as closer to the truth. The question of why no one wants to do anything about it raises the notion that political leaders know it is a disaster but that it is too late to do anything about it so they just seek to maximize the political benefits to themselves for as long as they can.

Murray is a masterful story teller, even in places like late in the book where he discusses the sorry state of European art and culture by referencing stuff I haven't a clue about and where he tends to get a little esoteric. He weaves together the story from the end of the Second World War to today and puts a lot of the pieces together than I was unaware of. Along with lengthy expositions he also has a ton of quotable tidbits including these two exactly 300 pages apart at the beginning and near the end of the book.

Europe today has little desire to reproduce itself, fight for itself or even take its own side in an argument. Pg. 2

A continent which imports the world's people will also import the world's problems. Pg 302

Those two quotes pretty well sum up the issue. Europe has no sense of self-preservation even to the simplest degree of reproducing themselves and yet is engaged in a course which is importing the world's problems without a thought for what that will mean for the continent.

Douglas Murray has created an important work with The Strange Death of Europe. I just hope it is read by enough people in time to save Europe from herself. While Murray proposes a few possible scenarios for the future, I think there are only two. One that he suggests is that future Europe looks like a massive United Nations meeting and native Europeans retreat to enclaves and rural areas that immigrants shun. The other is something far worse rising up in response to mass immigration. Sooner or later I am afraid something really major is going to happen and terrorists in Europe will get their own "home run" like 9/11. The slow, almost daily, trickle of terror is easier to shrug off but what happens if the death toll is not in the dozens but the thousands? What will happen then? One way or the other Europe is going to be very different in the next ten years. Hopefully voices of reason like Murray will lead the way. The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray is one of those rare absolute must-read books, especially for those concerned about the big questions of culture and civilization.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Feminization Of Culture, "Toxic Masculinity" And The Rise Of The Antifa and Alt-Right

America has a serious problem. We appear to be ripping our collective self apart in increasingly loud and often violent clashes in the street. The most infamous and most misrepresented of these clashes was in Charlottesville, a topic I have written about several times, but it has been going on for a long time, well before Trump. In this fray we see the rise of two prominent groups, the alt-right and the antifa. They are allegedly on two opposite sides of the political spectrum but one thing is common between them: there are an awful lot of young White men in both groups.

Setting aside some of the old guard like Jared Taylor and David Duke, and you see the bulk of the alt-right made up of younger White men. Richard Spencer, who likes to style himself the leader of the alt-right, is fairly young at 39 and is one of the older leaders of the alt-right. Nathan Domingo is 30 or 31. A cursory glance of others shows that most leaders are under 40 and almost all are under 50. The attendees at the rallies are largely young White men in their 20's. That makes sense given their message that resonates with that demographic.

What is somewhat more surprising is how many young White men are part of the "antifa".

When you see people waving antifa flags, often with Soviet flags thrown in for good measure, or you see "Black Bloc" groups of masked individuals at protests/riots or someone assaulting someone else, it is more often than not a White male behind the mask.

Why is this? Is it because they are into justice and fighting fascism? I don't think so. I think is is inextricably linked with the state of men in this country. National Review quoted Nicholas Eberstadt on the state of the male workforce in America. The numbers are staggering...
Almost one out of four men of prime working age (25–54) are not working. Since 1948, the percentage of men aged 20 to 64 who aren’t working has doubled. Fewer working-age men are working today than in 1930, in the heart of the Great Depression.
Most of this decline, however, has taken place since 1965. Between 1965 and 2015, the share of working-age men who are jobless more than doubled, from 10 percent to 22 percent. Among “prime age” men, the percentage without jobs shot from 6 percent to nearly 16 percent. Some of these men are in training or education programs. But the vast majority of men in this age range who are receiving training or are in school are job holders, working part-time or working full-time and going to school part-time.
What does that work out to? An awful lot of men..
Eberstadt estimates that if you deduct men who are going to school instead of working, the number of working-age men without work is still almost 10 million, or about 10 percent of the working-age male population.
Ten million men without work. Most of them not even looking for work. So what do they do with themselves besides play video games?

I think a major part of the issue is that you simply can't undo being male. You can park young men on the couch but you can't stop them from being men. Being a man means being task oriented, having goals. While women seem to be motivated by relationships and connections, men are mostly interested in achievement. When these men run out of levels on video games to achieve, they are seeking something else. They don't have jobs and even those that do don't have a very bright future. A reader wrote a comment to Rod Dreher about this very issue and I liked what he said:
They are boys searching for meaning and purpose. They wish to be warriors, but they see no dragons to slay. They want to be heroes, but they can find no one to save. Instead, they are told that they are the monsters, it is they from whom others must be saved. If they want to do their part, they can kindly walk to a dark corner, sit down, be quiet, and wait to die. If they want a few bonus points, a few nods of approvals from their masters (who are overwhelmingly all women, K-12), they can turn traitor against their sex, and ritually abase themselves and beg penance for the sins of all men. They can read stories and write essays about weak men and strong women. They can write poems about evil men and victimized, and therefore virtuous, women. They can be “allies”, second-class citizens in the righteous war against patriarchy, and seek whatever scraps of meaning they can find from slandering their own fathers and grandfathers.
That dovetails with a lot of what I have written. The entire letter is much longer and well worth reading.

In other words, I think that the same thing that motivates the alt-right also motivates the antifa. The alt-right sees young White men under assault and threatened with extinction. There are dragons to be slain (not literally): globalists, communists, feminists, often Jews and blacks. The antifa also have dragons to be slain, they imagine themselves as noble defenders of equality out to smite the Nazis just like the Allies landing on Normandy beach, just with more racial and gender diversity. It is OK to "punch a Nazi" because they are Bad People. Fighting the other side gives them a purpose that their life is otherwise missing.

This is not necessarily true of older members and leaders of the alt-right and the antifa. Someone like Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, has a far more nuanced and thought-out reasoning for his alt-right views. So do a lot of the older leaders of the antifa, many of whom are out and out neo-Marxists, but the older leaders of both sides are largely past the dragon slaying stage. They have serious goals beyond tiki torch rallies and Nazi punching. But the wannabe dragon slaying young men are a perfect pool to recruit from.

This situation is the result of the cult of "toxic masculinity". From mansplaining to "rape culture", men are blamed for literally every problem in our society. There are many rather loud voices that would not lament the utter elimination of men in our society. Nothing good comes from men, everything bad comes from men. This has an awful effect on young men that have been fed this garbage their entire lives. As the reader quoted above says, young men want to fight the monsters but are told over and over that they are the monsters simply by virtue of being male.

While our culture may have once been properly considered "patriarchal", as if that were a bad thing, it has now overwhelmingly swung the opposite way and men are left out in the cold, especially White men. We need more women in this, we need more minorities in that. What we absolutely never need more of in any situation is White men. Some of these young men seek redemption by becoming the violent foot-soldiers of the Left, others by fighting back as they see it and joining the alt-right. What do you expect them to do, sit around playing video games and shooting heroin until they die?

The church is not any help. More and more the institutional church is a feminine activity with pews dominated by women and pulpits filled with men who seem in terror of those pew occupying women. Do you think young men see being a preacher as a manly job? We have lost our respect for masculinity in the church even though most pulpits still have men occupying them. Church activities are either passively sitting or something like a potluck or Fall festival. Right now the church is rarely a viable or interesting alternative for young men to the alt-right or antifa. Come to church and sit around for an hour in a room full of women and if you are lucky there might be a potluck afterward. Bring a dish to pass! I wish more young men saw other men in disaster relief and other manly activities but that is pretty rare to see and you can be sure they are not hearing about it from the media. Church as an event for old women and soft men is not a solution to this problem.

We have to stop buying into the farce that men are a problem to be tolerated in our society. Men built this society and it is flawed for sure but better than any other major civilization that has ever existed. The laws we have, including the ones giving women the right to vote and freeing the slaves, were passed by men. The roads we drive on, built by men. The buildings we live in, built by men. The cities and towns we live in were built by men after the land was cleared by men. When there are dragons to be slain, we call the men. When there are fires to put out, we call the men. As Hurricane Harvey shows, there are lots of time when we need men and there is no substitute for a man. That is not to denigrate women, just a simple recognition of facts. Our society needs men and it needs men who act like men. If we keep shouting at men and telling them to get out of the way, they might retreat for a time to the couch but sooner or later, and we see this now, they are going to find a new outlet and that might be the antifa or the alt-right or perhaps something else but it will be something. Instead of trying to shame and blame men, how about trying to find ways to encourage them. A man with a purpose and with goals and with encouragement is less likely to pick up a tiki torch or start throwing bricks at cops. Men don't need much but not screaming at them "This is all your fault!" would be a good place to start.

Young men are pretty low maintenance. Some basic guidance and letting them be men would do wonders for them. Here is a decidedly non-PC addendum. It would do wonders for young women as well. I don't think girls are excited about a generation of couch-sitting/rock throwing/tiki torch waving boys. Both men and women, and especially children, are going to be better off we we allow and encourage young men to act like men and young women to act like women. Call out those who would denigrate masculinity, refuse to chuckle when masculinity is made light of. This world desperately needs men who are men, and right now we are raising a generation with very few of them.

Houston, We Have A Problem

The news is a little overwhelming. Houston is mostly underwater and as the fourth largest city in America, which is didn't realize, that means that the scope of the disaster is incredible. The immediate needs are vast and then after the waters recede the need will be there and severe for years to come. I can't go down and help and would probably just be in the way if I did so I did what I could and sent a financial donation to a local ministry to help.

I looked at local churches but settled on the Disaster Relief ministry of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. The SBTC is the local branch for Texas of the Southern Baptist Convention and despite my concerns over the direction of some areas of the SBC I am still confident that my donations to the SBTC will go where they are needed. My reasoning is pretty simple. I prefer local ministries to huge multinational ministries and I always prefer Christian ministries over secular ministries. I am sure the International Red Cross is doing great work down there but I also know that when the waters recede the Disaster Relief ministry of the SBTC will still be there doing the hard work of rebuilding and will be sharing the Gospel while they do.

I would urge you to consider making a sacrificial donation to help Houston. You can give here to the SBTC Disaster Relief ministry or you can give to the SBC's North American Mission Board Disaster Relief which overseas the disaster relief efforts for the SBC nationally. There are lots of other groups helping like Samaritan's Purse, the Mennonite Disaster Service and others. Heck, give to the Red Cross if you want. Just do what you can to help.

I believe that as the church we have an obligation to help those in need and especially our fellow believers and the countrymen of the land God has placed us in. Please prayerfully consider what God is leading you to do to help those in dire need in Texas.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Liberalism Is A Theological System

It is fast approaching a century since J. Gresham Machen wrote his masterpiece Christianity & Liberalism. I reviewed this work in 2015 and it remains one of the most quotable and profound books I have ever read. Machen's basic premise is pretty simple but it is quite shocking to hear in our religious culture in 2017 where the notion that liberalism is compatible with Christianity and is indeed the most woke manifestation of the faith is pretty common-place. His main thesis is that Christianity and liberalism are distinct and contrary belief systems. This is perhaps my favorite quote from his book:
But one thing is perfectly plain – whether or not liberals are Christians, it is at any rate perfectly clear that liberalism is not Christianity. And that being the case, it is highly undesirable that liberalism and Christianity should continue to be propagated within the bounds of the same organization. A separation between the two parties in the Church is the crying need of the hour. J. Gresham Machen (0100-12-31 17:00:00-07:00). Christianity & Liberalism (Kindle Locations 2201-2204)
Machen point is every bit as relevant today as it was a century ago and that separation is still the crying need of the hour. Liberalism, or it's popular nom de guerre "progressivism", is a religious system and as such it can only be seen as a competitor to the faith delivered once for all to the saints, not a legitimate manifestation of the faith. I made this point in my review immediately after the quote reproduced above:
Or as I like to put it, progressives might be Christians but if so it is in spite of, not because of, their progressive notions.
For the remainder of this post please assume scare quotes around uses of the word "progressive" and "liberal" because the political, economic, cultural and above all religious systems that go under those names do not represent progress in any sense and are more and more illiberal with each passing day.

Michael Moore, the corpulent film-maker and filthy rich faux populist made this point for me quite a succinct manner via a Tweet last month.

Notice the theological language here of redemption and sin. We never fixed it. We never redeemed ourselves. God is replaced by man and if that isn't the basic problem with every false theological system, I don't know what is. Man doesn't sin against God, man sins against fellow man and therefore man must somehow redeem himself by offering some sort of propitiation to his fellow man. Despite the fact that no one alive was involved in the "genocide of Indians" (oooh, dat non-PC language!) and no one alive outside of Africa is involved in any way with the enslaving of black people, we as the posterity of those who did are collectively guilty. Thus the language of original sin. I think that a lot of people who are not progressives thought that electing Barack Obama would somehow serve as a once for all sacrifice for our past sins. But obviously not. In the eyes of Moore and other liberals, the failure of America to fully embrace every aspect of Obama's agenda and then to commit the gravest of sins by replacing Obama with Donald Trump has actually undone every bit of progress, such as it is, in America's endless quest to "redeem ourselves". In reality the religion of liberalism has kind of gone Old Testament on us, with wrath and fire being unleashed against anyone who even sort of looks like he has a "neo-Nazi" haircut. In place of separating the sheep and the goats, liberalism separates us based on victim status, either you are oppressed or you are an oppressor. There are no other options and like Christianity there is no purgatory.

Not written out in the Tweet but clearly implied is the system of atonement demanded by Moore and his fellow progressives which is more akin to the Old Covenant temple system of endless and repetitive sacrifices than the atoning sacrifice that is the center of the Christian faith. In a system with an endless supply of generational guilt, there is a corresponding endless demand for propitiation in the form of income redistribution, race/gender/sexual orientation based preferences in education and employment, limitless bureaucratic positions to monitor the progress that we all know will never be sufficient and the daily self-abasement by anyone part of a persecutor category (ideally White, male, heterosexual, Christian but exceptions can and are made for people like White supremacist Charles Barkley). In the place of clergy, there are low level bureaucrats. In place of bishops we have academics and politicians. In place of evangelists we have "celebrities" and "entertainers". The concept of sin is mutable based on the culture of the day. Today referring to someone that is male as "he" when that person is mentally ill and thinks that they are a woman is a sin. Five years ago it was not, for the most part. Who knows what the most critical protected class you can sin against will be in five years or even later this year. Literally nothing would surprise me.

Like libertarianism or Marxism or White nationalism or any other "-ism", liberalism is a worldview and a philosophy but for far too many of it's acolytes it is also a religion. Worse yet, a lot of people conflate liberalism and Christianity when the two are quite clearly at odds. I would look at someone who says that God wants us to endlessly engage in racial recriminations and government enforced income redistribution as a means of carrying out the second Great Commandment with the same stink eye I would give to someone who claimed that 2 Thessalonian 3:10 was a modern description of American style crony capitalism.

Leftist political ideology is every bit as much of a religion as Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism and the bloody record of the radical Left religion in the 20th century puts all of the Crusades and the Inquisition to shame. Conservatism has issues of it's own in this respect, especially in the David Barton circles that conflate America and Old Covenant Israel but liberalism is a far more common-place religious faith, among those who would consider themselves to be completely irreligious as well as those who try to marry progressive politics and the Christian faith. The church needs to respond to liberalism not primarily as a political world-view but as a competing and false religious system. Issues like man-made "climate change" are not an issue of science versus religion but rather a conflict between two religious systems. Only when we recognize the faith-based religious zealotry of liberalism can we properly provide the counter-narrative of the Gospel.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Nature Abhors A Vacuum

In marked contrast to Russell Moore's wailing and screeching about "White supremacy", Stephen Wolfe took the opposite tactic and actually explored what is going on and why some forms of White nationalism are appealing to Evangelicals without name-calling and engaging in "shame & blame". The contrast in tone and scholarship between Moore's rant and Wolfe's thoughtful post couldn't be more stark. Stephen Wolfe, whom I have become recently acquainted with on social media, is absolutely not a White nationalist but that doesn't prevent him from asking some tough questions and even giving his post a provocative title: Why Evangelicals are Drawn to the Alt-Right.

Now that is going to drive some blog traffic.

Wolfe delves into the psychology of the average person as contrasted with the intellectual elite that have disdain for the past and care only for "progress" in the future. He argues that the average person is connected by people, places and things...
But average people don’t do this. They link together people, place, and things. Hannah Arendt makes the important point that the human world is made possible by the products of work that outlast those who made them. We wouldn’t even have a “world” if every product of human activity resulted in something as ephemeral as bread. We leave things behind. And we leave places behind as well—places with structures, rules, sacredness, places where memories are lodged and kept safe. Our natural relations between generations are bound up in things and places; we experience a trace of their lives in these things and places. Our positive regard to the dead is bound up in these things and places. Modern intellectuals often lack the imagination (having what Burke called “cold hearts and muddy understandings”) to grasp this, not realizing that by attacking the past they attack the present in a jarring way. Intellectuals see the world through the eyes of Paine and regular people see it through the eyes of Burke.
Contrast that with "White supremacy is the number of the beast!" ranting from Russell Moore. Some people actually are drawn for substantive reasons to the alt-right, even if their reasons are wrong, and they are not convinced otherwise by mis-characterizing them and overheated rhetoric and eisegesis. Deeply tied in with the rhetoric of "anti-racism" is an implicit condemnation of our history as a whole. There is no good, there is only evil. Nothing redeeming existed in our history and only by erasing that history by re-writing history books, recasting historical figures as "people of color" and tearing down monuments can we atone for our past sins. But to erase our past is to dwell only in our present and the present as it exists right now is a pretty nihilistic, bleak place.

As Stephen points out, the perception can be that in erasing our past, the real goal or at least the way it feels, is that we are being erased personally. Rod Dreher poses the question quite starkly in light of the monuments kerfuffle....
Along those lines, I would love to see polling on the extent to which whites (Southern and otherwise) see attacks on Confederate monuments as an attack on white supremacy, and the extent to which they see these attacks as assaults on them. Again, notice the ABC/Post poll, which shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans reject white supremacy. The PBS/Marist poll from last week showed that only 27 percent of all Americans believe that Confederate monuments should be taken down. The racial breakdown is: whites 25%; blacks 40%; Latinos 24%.
Interesting statistics, if only 40% of blacks are in favor of taking the monuments down and only a quarter of White and even less of Latinos, then it only reinforces the idea of this being not an issue of racial reconciliation or taking down monuments that offend people but rather that something more ominous and insidious is in play. This ironically, and perhaps not unintentionally, feeds into the narrative of there being a shadowy group that is bent on wiping out European culture, civilization and even the people.

More from Wolfe....
What happens when intellectuals and evangelical leaders attack our “racist” and “xenophobic” past? They not only attack the past, but people’s experience with the present. Regular people’s warm regards towards their life and place is tied with their affections for the past....This is, I submit, a fundamental feature of human being, something that can be extinguished only by a deliberate self-suppressive effort. This is why people are so defensive when their ancestors are attacked: it is an attack on one’s world, striking their very being.
That is pretty simple but profound. Destroy our past, destroy our present and thus our future. A person without a future is unpredictable and will instinctively latch on to something or someone that affirms them as a person and shows them a way forward into something other than the void. Then he brings it together and places the blame where I agree it belongs.
Where are white evangelicals who are subjected to this endless assault on their world going to turn to justify their affection for people, places, and things? When all they see from their “leaders” is denunciation after denunciation of “nativism”, where are they going to turn? The response to such relentless attacks is to defend and find ways to shore up your world....So what is their response? Most just try to find some pocket of existence where they can remain in quiet desperation with like-minded others, but many find ideological reasons to hold on. And who supplies them?: white nationalism, white supremacy, and the alt-right. There is no alternative. Let’s be clear: the people who drive Christians to these radical right groups are those Christian intellectuals who indefatigably accuse regular people’s world of being racist, while supplying nothing to shore up a connection between people, place, and things beyond mere abstractions and theologisms about the human person. These evangelical intellectuals have thrown people into the present, and the people respond by reasserting the past in the only ways available to them.
Allow me to repeat one line from the above: There is no alternative. That is where the rubber meets the road. My title sort of says it all. Right now there is a huge chasm in the evangelical rhetorical landscape because White evangelicals of various sorts, with a few minor exceptions, have completely ceded the ground to the forces of guilt, blame and shame. There are pretty much two groups when it comes to evangelicals and race. There is the Patheos, Russell Moore types and then there are those who just don't talk about it at all. Russell Moore got his job after Richard Land got run out of the ERLC for comments perceived to be intemperate, comments that led to the proposing of a resolution condemning Land by, surprise!, Dwight McKissic who is recently famous for the "anti-alt-right" resolution fiasco at the SBC 2017 annual meeting. The message is pretty clear, even in "conservative" circles it is better to keep your mouth shut if you are not toeing the party line on racial guilt. So the most divisive issue in America is pretty much a one-sided "dialogue" and that is rapidly starting to not sit well with a lot of Christians.

What if I don't buy into that and am not at all interested in being lectured by a wagging fingered SJW-type explaining why I need to feel bad about my "privilege" and "micro-aggressions"? I don't have an issue talking openly about where I stand but I am also not a leader of any sort. So for other people, I guess you can just hole up somewhere in Idaho and start reading Doug Wilson on the side. Or you stumble across websites where people tell you that you are not the problem, that your history might be checkered, as it is for every single people group that has ever existed, but it still is worth remembering and even appreciating and that you have a future worth fighting for. That is probably quite a bit farther than Wolfe went in his essay but his point is still the same. Evangelical intellectual leaders bear a great deal of responsibility for the attraction a lot of evangelicals have for the alt-right and the various sub-groups that fall into the categories of the "Far-Right" because they have given them nowhere else to turn.

The whole essay is a great example of looking at an issue that is fraught with all manner of land-mines where it would be easier to simply spit out a string of platitudes but the author refuses to do so. It sort of reminds me of the difference between someone who will preach on a text that is difficult and do so with rigorous study and honesty, even if it makes the people in the pews uncomfortable, and some who instead tries to avoid it entirely or just laugh it off. You don't have to agree with Wolfe's essay 100%, which I do, or even agree at all but you have to appreciate the tone, the scholarship, the thought process and the courage to engage in a topic that mostly inspires navel gazing from the majority of evangelical leaders and incessant finger waging and hectoring from a vocal few. If we had more people who would produce this sort of work, there would be a lot less space for the alt-right to capture by default.

See That Bend Over There? Russell Moore Just Went Around It

'Bout a half-mile back on this river is where Russ Moore left
behind reasonable Biblical exegesis.
Alternate Post Title: Adventures In Eisegesis With Russell Moore.

In case you missed it, Russell Moore doesn't much care for "White supremacy". At all. In fact he dislikes it even more than he dislikes people that supported Donald Trump, and that is saying something, although it is becoming commonplace in our cultural narrative to assume that everyone that supported and/or voted for Trump is a de facto "White supremacist". For purposes of the remainder of this post, please assume scare quotes around the words "White supremacy" because I don't think most people, including and especially Dr. Moore, understand what it is and why it is different from White nationalism or ethnonationalism or just plain old nationalism.

Well Dr. Moore took to the pages of the Washington Post (Democracy Dies In Darkness! Plus Free Two Day Shipping For Amazon Prime Members!) to explain why he doesn't like White supremacy. He usually goes to the Washington Post when he has Something Serious To Say™ because what is the point of virtue signaling if the people you are trying to signal don't see it and no one Serious reads his blog. So anyway, Moore's post at the WaPo, Russell Moore: White supremacy angers Jesus, but does it anger his church?, skips over the actual issues and leaps right into histrionics. Dr. Moore says: "White supremacy makes Jesus angry.".

OK, maybe it does. But why? Well prepare to put on your eisegesis goggles cuz here we go! Dr. Moore implies that Jesus is OK with sinners, but what He really disliked is White supremacy:
The Scriptures show us two things that make Jesus visibly angry: religious hypocrisy and racial supremacist ideology.
OK on the first one, that actually shows up in the New Testament. Jesus was not angry with the Pharisees because they were too devout but because they focused on the externals and not the heart. But what about "racial supremacist ideology"? That seems a little odd since Jesus really never discussed racial supremacist ideology or even "racism" itself. So where does the good Doctor go to support His assertion that of all the sins in the world, Jesus is really only angry with hypocrisy and racial supremacy? Why to the cleansing of the temple of course!

Yeah, I don't get it either. The cleansing of the temple is a pretty well known event because it is the one time that Jesus seems to get really angry. That doesn't mean that He is soft on sin, His language about the consequences of sin at Judgment are pretty stark and frightening. But in His earthly ministry He generally didn't "raise His voice" except on this occasion. Why was He angry? Were the moneychangers wearing Klan hoods or throwing up Nazi salutes? Nope...

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:12-13)

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (Mark 11:15-17)

And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” (Luke 19:45-46)

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:13-17)

What Jesus was angry about was the making of the temple into a "house of commerce", people profiting from the exchanging of money. It was supposed to be a place of worship and here were people making it a house of trade for robbers. It was not even commerce itself that He objected to, it was the location. But according to Dr. Moore, what He was really mad about was the exclusion of foreigners.

In some way, those who clamored for space in the temple courts were blocking the way of those God had welcomed into his house of prayer. Jesus reclaimed the space for the God who desires all tongues and tribes and nations to worship him through Jesus Christ.

Yeah, except that is not at all what the Bible was talking about. While it was an usual event, it was a pretty clear event. The three synoptic Gospel record it almost exactly the same, with one exception where Mark mentions "...for all the nations". This is what Moore clings to as his "evidence" that the temple cleansing was a blow against "racial supremacy". Jesus is making an important point here about the perversion of the Hebraic practices in Phariseeism and in the mockery of the temple but He was not making a point about "racial supremacist ideology". He just wasn't and if He had intended to it would have at least warranted a mention in one of the four Gospels.

Moore continues down this path...

The religious leaders and those keeping the worship of God from the nations had something in common: Both were seeking to keep people away from the kingdom of God, people they didn’t feel were worthy of it. Jesus plowed through their barriers, and kept plowing, even after his resurrection from the dead. Immediately upon his enthronement in heaven, Jesus poured out his Spirit on those from nations all over the world. Seeing the multiethnic, multinational reality of these Spirit-bearing people, many were “amazed and perplexed,” asking, “What does this mean?”

According to Moore, what people were perplexed by was the "multiethnic, multinational reality" on display (the article links to Acts 2, the day of Pentecost). Was the rainbow coalition what had people "perplexed"?


What perplexed them is that the hearers were from all over the place but they heard these uneducated Galilieans speaking to them in their own tongue. They were amazed at that, not that there was a "multiethnic, multinational reality". It is absolutely dishonest to suggest that the amazement came from the diversity when the amazement is clearly stated as coming from the speaking of tongues (actual language, not gibberish) from uneducated men. It was a miracle and like many miracles in the New Testament, especially post-Resurrection, the intent was to grab attention so the apostles could preach the Gospel. In fact they were not even "multiethnic", they were all Jews:

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. (Acts 2:5)

Some were non-ethnic Jew proselytes or some appear to be Jewish exiles from the diaspora but all were Jews. That wasn't the point. The point was the miracle of the apostles speaking in a manner that men from around the world who spoke a multitude of languages hearing men speak to them in their native tongues, men who would have had no way of knowing those languages apart from a work of the Spirit. This is basic, Bible Exegesis 101, first year seminary level stuff but Dr. Moore, who should know better, plunges ahead and makes points that anyone should see don't fit, anyone except perhaps the average reader of the WaPo/Amazon.

Dr. Moore is trying to address a contemporary issue that he doesn't seem all that well-versed in and doing so not by taking broad themes from Scripture, by going to Acts 17:26 for example (although even that verse taken in context doesn't override ethno-nationalism at all, kind of the opposite), but instead by making a point from a completely unrelated passage that might seem convincing to the average Scripturally illiterate reader of the Washington Post but that ought to be completely unconvincing to someone with even a cursory understanding of the Scriptures.

Then just to make sure that you realize that White supremacy is bad, Dr. Moore goes to the hyperbole machine and it spits out this:

“Blood and soil” ethnic nationalism is not just a deviant social movement. It is the same old idolatry of the flesh, the human being seeking to deify his own flesh and blood as God. The Scripture defines this attempt at human self-exaltation with a number: 666. White supremacy does not merely attack our society (though it does) and the ideals of our nation (though it does); white supremacy attacks the image of Jesus Christ himself. White supremacy exalts the creature over the Creator, and the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against it.

So, is ethnic nationalism the mark of the beast or something? I would point out that the "ideals of our nation" include stuff like only White men being able to vote, only Whites being allowed to emigrate to America and chattel slavery being the law for the first century of our existence. Pretending that the United States was founded as a multi-racial utopia is historically ignorant. It is also worth pointing out that Russell Moore is both a member and employee of the Southern Baptist Convention. If the SBC is for anything, it is for the state of Israel. But what is the modern state of Israel? It is a modern enthnostate, a land granted to the Jews as part of the partition of Palestine to be a specific, self-governing Jewish state. Why was this place, already occupied by other people at the time of the founding of the modern state, given to the Jews instead of somewhere in Europe or North America? Because of the sacred nature of the soil and the historic ties. The Jews shed blood over the soil of Israel to protect their ethnic homeland as a home for Jews. Isn't that the very definition of "blood and soil" ethnic nationalism? Yet you won't hear Dr. Moore criticizing Jews for wanting an independent Jewish ethno-state. You can criticize White supremacy and White nationalism, which are not the same thing, but no one keeps their job in an SBC agency if they criticize Israel thanks to the goofy theology of dispensationalism that dominates the SBC and the "Israel is our closest ally and friend" nonsense. I don't begrudge the Jews for wanting an ethnic homeland but I do think it somewhat disingenuous to accuse Whites who want the same thing, rightly or wrongly, of bearing the mark of the beast.

What you end up with yet another example of Dr. Moore virtue signaling to the Important People that read the Washington Post and scolding his less enlightened fellow Southern Baptists for being insufficiently woke about White supremacy. Wrapping it all together is a criminal misuse of the Scriptures. God created His Old Covenant community as an ethnic nation-state where the most egregious violations came from intermixing (whoring after) other ethnicities. In the New Covenant Jesus Himself tore down the dividing wall between the Jew and the Gentile in the church but nowhere does it appear that He destroyed the ethnic and national distinctions between people. I am not arguing in favor of entho-nationalism, or kinism or White nationalism or anything of the kind in this post. I am just trying to make the case that if you are opposed to those things as a Christian, it is incumbent on you to show from Scripture why you are opposed and to not try to shoehorn contemporary events into historical Biblical accounts like Pentecost and the cleansing of the Temple. His case would have been better served with actual exegesis instead of frothing at the mouth invectives.

Dr. Moore heads up the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He seems awfully concerned about "racial reconcilliation" and the Trump presidency and "immigration reform", a topic I wrote about here as it relates to the ERLC, but he seems strangely silent when it comes to leftist agitators like the "antifa" and Black Lives Matter. I can say with a great deal of confidence that the organizers of the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally pose no threat to the religious liberty of Americans, of Christians and of Southern Baptists but that the antifa and others on the radical Left certainly do. As I have pointed out to others, when the Left runs out of monuments to be offended by, where do you think their attention will turn next? If you don't think that faithful Gospel preaching is in their cross-hairs, you are being willfully ignorant. Russell Moore would be serving his employers in SBC churches better by speaking out against the encroaching secular Leftist threat instead of haranguing his fellow Christians over their vote last November or a handful of White nationalists at a rally. Ever since taking over the ERLC, Dr. Moore has been veering off course and with each passing year the ERLC looks less like a ministry concerned with ethics and religious liberty and more like a way for Russ Moore to showcase himself.

I don't think editorials like this one from Dr. Moore do anyone any good. They are not going to convince any secular readers of the WaPo to consider the Gospel message or that Christians are not all wearing hoods to our worship meetings. I doubt they do much to sway Southern Baptists or Christians in general, especially for anyone who digs past the assertions of Moore and into the text. I don't see any White nationalists rending their garments in repentance because of Moore's slapdash reasoning, rather it likely reinforces their already low opinion of him. So what exactly was the point here? I don't honestly know apart from assuming it is just virtue signaling but I wish Dr. Moore would spend more time on actual threats to religious liberty instead of trying to show off how woke he is. The church faces a whole myriad of threats in this day and age but a handful of "alt-right" types marching around Confederate monuments is pretty far down the list.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

More Media Manipulation: The Mysterious Case Of The Vanishing Headline

Yesterday CNN ran a piece on their webpage which made an absolutely Orwellian statement that the "Antifa" seek "Peace Through Violence" (screen-shots grabbed this morning by me).

If that doesn't invoke Orwell's 1984, you aren't paying attention:

War Is Peace
Freedom Is Slavery
Ignorance Is Strength

I have to give CNN some credit, that is an unusually honest headline from them. While the various White nationalist groups can muster maybe 1000 people for a well-planned and publicized rally, the far left "antifa" can round up tens of thousands of people at the drop of a hat to protest free speech in Boston. But lo and behold, when you click on the link you get a slightly different headline (many people took screenshots of the original story including "peace through violence")

Well isn't that handy! I like that they use the euphemism "updated" in regards to the headline. Anyway. It is a sure sign of hard-hitting journalism when you allow the group you are doing an alleged expose on ("Unmasking"!) to edit your story for content and apparently veto the headline of the story itself. I wonder if CNN asked anyone from the alt-right to edit stories that they run on them? Maybe I am just cynical but I kind of doubt it. Can you imagine the "updated" headline from December 8, 1941 if CNN had been around:

"Peaceful Japanese Navy On Humanitarian Mission Attacked Without Provocation In Hawaii By Imperialist American Warships! Forced To Drop Bombs To Lighten Load In Order To Escape! 64 Japanese Sailors And Airmen Killed!"

It is important to realize that CNN is not a "news" organization and what they do is not journalism. They are an partisan advocacy organization just like Breitbart, the Daily Caller and Fox News. If you understand that and choose to read/watch CNN and others like them (MSNBC, The NY Times, Washington/Amazon Post, etc.), that is fine but I see an awful lot of people taking what they write and say as Gospel truth because they are "journalists" and of course don't have any ulterior or partisan political motivations. Think for yourself and don't rely on a small circle of "news" organizations to tell you what to think.

We have never lived in a time when more information is as readily available as it is now. We have also never lived in a time with quite this level of overt media manipulation. Now more than ever you need to take charge of being informed and that requires you to be an active seeker, not a passive consumer of information. The days we live in are too perilous to be ignorant.

Friday, August 18, 2017

How The Media Manipulates Us

My wife and I went to Wendy's for a quiet dinner last night and our local restaurant always has two TVs on, muted with captions, one in each back corner. One has CNN, one has Fox. We were there a while, well over an hour, and the entire time we were there whenever I looked at Fox they were covering the ongoing terror attack situation in Spain. Meanwhile CNN was at least 80%, probably more, talking about Trump. The "failure" to denounce White nationalists, the disbanding of the random Presidential councils no one had heard of before, more about Denounce-Gate, a quick update on Barcelona, and then back to Denounce-Gate. Anderson Cooper had Cornell West and some other guy on and they rambled on and on with a non-stop stream of meaningless platitudes including denouncing "White supremacy" and "male supremacy", which I thought was rich coming from Cornell West since he has become no doubt terribly wealthy (for a "democratic socialist", sort of like fellow "socialist" Bernie Sanders and other "liberal" rich folk like Michael Moore) by attending and then teaching at schools like Princeton, Harvard and Yale, all universities founded by White men and funded and endowed by what I am guessing are overwhelmingly White men. It must be nice to be able to scold and hector the very people that have made you wealthy. Meanwhile Fox is covering an actual news event where 14 people are dead as of now, over 100 are injured and the driver is still at large. A second attack was apparently thwarted. For all of their faults, Fox was carrying news last night at prime time because something real was going on. CNN spent almost the entire same time period taking shots at President Trump.

Meanwhile CNN's Wolf Blitzer suggested that the Barcelona attacks were possibly copycats. Not copying the half dozen vehicle attacks by Islamic terrorists in Europe in 2017 alone. Nope, the Barcelona attackers had no idea what to do until Charlottesville.
CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Scuitto said, “[I]n light of the uproar over the last several days, five days apart, you have white supremacists in Charlottesville use a vehicle to kill, and here you have — attackers at least following the modus operandi of terrorists using vehicles, apparently to kill as well. And it’s that — those shared tactics that should be alarming.”
Blitzer added, “Yeah, and there will be questions about copycats. There will be questions if what happened in Barcelona, was at all, at all, a copycat version of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. Even though they may be different characters, different political ambitions, they used the same killing device, a vehicle going at high speed into a group, a large group of pedestrians.”
Wolfie isn't alone in trying to somehow, no matter how obviously nonsensical it is, to link Charlottesville with Barcelona. A guy named Ian Bremmer, a professors at NYU, tweeted out the list of vehicle attacks in Europe this year.

He apparently committed a Thought-Crime because CNN's Jim Sciutto, "CNN Chief National Security Correspondent", promptly tweeted in reply ONE WHOLE MINUTE LATER:
It is almost like Sciutto was searching Twitter for someone to point out the multiple vehicle terror attacks in 2017 so he could try to lump Charlottesville in with Islamic terrorism.

Thankfully people are calling him out about it but you might notice that the original post talked about vehicle terror attacks in Europe. That doesn't stop Sciutto from trying to find a link. As of now we don't know what happened or why in Charlottesville. Did he go there with the intent to drive into a crowd? Did he decide to do so after the antifa violence during the rally? Was his car being attacked and he panicked? We don't know and for two of the three possibilities above I support sending him to jail or the chair as allowed by law. But that didn't and isn't stopping the media from assuming his motives. Here is how this works:

- A half dozen terrorist attacks using vehicle in 2017, many stabbings and a few bombings killing hundreds combined. All of them conducted by Muslims, many accompanied by either claims of responsibility from ISIS and/or shouts of "Allahu Akbar" during the attack.

Media Response: #notallmuslims We must not make assumptions. Calls attacks anything but Islamic terror. Worriedly clutches pearls over possible backlash against Muslims. The true motivations of the attackers might never be known.

- One White guy acting alone with a known mental illness drives into a crowd and kills someone.

Same Media, Different Response: Immediately understands his motivations completely before a single fact is known. All Whites share culpability here, White nationalists are all violent, we must suppress their speech and de-platform them on social media. Trump is guilty of not denouncing White nationalism strongly enough. Tear down every monument.

I employed a lot of hyperbole there but that was intentional as there is no lack of over the top hyperbole all over the place. My point is that much of the media, and especially CNN, are spinning the news to an extent that would make Damon Killian from The Running Man stand up and applaud.

Even Wikipedia and social media platforms get in on the act, from the "Top News" and "Trending" on Facebook to how material is portrayed on their website. This is what appeared on the landing page of Wikipedia this morning:

Notice that the top story is of the Barcelona attacks but the picture is of the Charlottesville incident, a story that is almost a week old but is still featured prominently on their landing page even though far more people were killed last night in Barcelona and in the mudslides in Sierra Leone and the bombing in Pakistan. The story of Charlottesville is at the bottom of the list but apparently Wikipedia couldn't get a picture from Barcelona or one of the other featured news events by doing something complex like a Google search. Or perhaps the intent was to strengthen the perceived link between two completely unrelated events. I wonder....

It is so critical in this day and age to be as independently informed as you can be. The subtle manipulation of news by omission and emphasis has been replaced entirely by overt partisanship on both sides but on the mainstream Left there is still is false aura of neutrality and objectivity. The idea of impartiality and journalistic ethics is a myth. It probably always has been and it certainly has been for my entire life but it is especially true now. Don't let them manipulate you but also don't just tune-out. A disengaged citizen is just as useful as one that has been manipulated.

There is nothing more dangerous to would-be tyrants than an informed population. Don't let anyone disarm you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Church Didn't Have A Side In Charlottesville

Depending on where you get your news, you think that the events of Charlottesville were either a brawl between two extremist ideologies or, in the more "mainstream" interpretation, it was a gathering of violent racists being peacefully opposed by anti-racism counter-protesters that ended up with an innocent woman dead.

When spun in the second manner, an awful lot of people understandably jump on the "other side" and that is just that. Groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis, a small portion of the rally in Charlottesville, are the greatest bogeymen in our society. Neo-Nazis invoke the image of their genuine predecessors in the Third Reich and the KKK is the ultimate homegrown evil, burning crosses and lynching blacks while wearing silly outfits. The very cartoonishness of these two groups makes it easy to define them, mock them and dismiss them. I am not saying that is wrong necessarily but I am of the opinion that the Klan and neo-Nazis in general are actually a pretty small subset of the White nationalist/identitarian movement, itself a small fringe movement.

Compounding the issue, President Trump issued a very balanced, very reasonable statement that rightly pointed out that there was violence on both sides in Charlottesville. That got any number of knickers twisted and people freaked out, accusing Trump of siding with the "alt-right" when in fact what he said very specifically made the case that he didn't take either side.

But, some say, by not picking a side he was actually...picking a side. I know, I know, it doesn't make sense unless you accept the narrative being spun by the media and political Left. That narrative says that the "alt-right", White nationalists, KKK, neo-Nazis, are always violent and were in Charlottesville to engage in violence. I would point out that saying intentionally inflammatory stuff and being prepared in the event of violence is not the same as an intent to commit violence. The same narrative creates a polar opposite where the "antifa" and others groups were just there to peacefully counter-protest against racism. That sounds nice but it simply is not true.

First, it is demonstrably factual that many, many of the left-wing "counter-protesters" were headed to Charlottesville with the express intent of causing mayhem and violence. This is easily seen in social media posts, in their behavior at the Unite the Right rally and in similar prior venues (Berkeley, Middlebury College, the bike lock attack, the attempted blinding of a rally organizer, the assault by a college professor from By Any Means Necessary which led to her arrest, countless other smaller attacks involving dangerous objects and mace at all manner of gatherings, including entirely peaceful Trump campaign rallies).

Second, and this is critical to understand, these groups are not at their most basic "anti-racism" although their particular interpretation of what that means is a major part of their platform. The core ideology of the "counter-protesters" in Charlottesville and elsewhere is not "anti-racism". That is what you are being told but it simply isn't the case. The ideology of "Black Lives Matter", the "antifa", "By Any Means Necessary (BAMN)", etc. is simply old fashioned recycled Marxism. There are a number of good resources to document this, including a lot of source material from these groups themselves. For example, from The Federalist: How Black Lives Matter Is Bringing Back Traditional Marxism (language warning).
BLM has simply substituted Marx’s class conflict between the proletariat and bourgeoisie for class conflict between blackness and whiteness. But unlike income and wealth, blackness and whiteness are not temporary states: while 56 percent of American households occupy the top 10 percent of the income bracket at some point during their lives, such transience does not occur with an immutable characteristic like race.
The black vs. white dichotomy creates a permanent enemy class, to which defection is always incomplete. And unlike the proletariat class consciousness, race consciousness already exists, making mobilization easier. This can be seen in the comments of a Milwaukee protester from August: “We do not want justice or peace anymore. We done with that shit. We want blood. We want blood. We want the same shit ya’ll want. Eye for an eye. No more peace. F–k all that. Ain’t no more peace. Ain’t no more peace. We done. We cannot cohabitate with white people, one of us have to go, black or white. All ya’ll have to go!”
While there were almost certainly run of the mill people who just don't like to see racists march among the counter-protesters, just as there were certainly generic conservatives who love their Southern heritage among Unite the Right, this is the ideology of the major figures of the leftist coalition that was in Charlottesville, Berkeley and so many other flashpoints: cultural Marxism, identity politics, violent socialism, anti-liberty rhetoric and action.

In a lame attempt at being clever some are trying to frame this as if the Alt-Left is the reincarnation of the Allies in World War II fighting the reincarnation of the Nazis (the Alt-Right). The more accurate comparison is that if anything this is more akin to the Nazis and Communist Soviets fighting it out. In fact this is really just a continuation of the clash of world-views that preceded the second World War between communists and fascists, even if many of the participants on both sides are not truly ideologically pure examples of either. If the Nazis had prevailed over the Soviets, a National Socialist empire would have stretched from France to the Pacific Ocean. As it was after the Soviets fought and raped their way to Berlin they instead put up the Iron Curtain and imprisoned tens of millions of Europeans under the repression of Communism. In the fight between the Communists and National Socialists there could be no winner while either existed. In Charlottesville both sides "won". The antifa got to look like the good guys while attacking people and the alt-right got to reinforce their narrative of persecution that attracts so many disaffected people. The big loser was the vast majority of the American people that are not in either camp.

Again, what was on display in Charlottesville was not a simplistic good versus evil confrontation. Although that is what the media, a fair number of "Republicans" that want to see Trump replaced by a more traditional Republican (or even a Democrat) and a disturbing number of Christians that are so enraptured by being able to claim to be on the "anti-racism" side that they are ignoring the facts, want you to believe, what was really going on was a more basic evil versus evil fight. It should go without saying that in a clash between evils, the church does not have a horse to back. Our prophetic witness is apart from either group, calling them both to repent. That doesn't mean that there were not genuine believers on both sides of the fray. That is highly triggering to say but if I can accept that there are people who are dead wrong on specific Scriptural issues like baptism, soteriology, the end times, the Lord's Supper, church government, etc., it follows that there are genuine believers who have what most of us would consider misguided beliefs on issues of race, economics, liberty and government. That doesn't mean that these people are not wrong in their beliefs, just an admission that I think that 100% of people other than me are wrong about at least one thing.

Saying that I have to stand against racism by standing with neo-Marxists who want to quash the First Amendment (and Second and who knows what else) and destroy the traditional, nuclear Biblical family is a lose-lose scenario and I refuse to play. You should too. The Bible warns us to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers regardless of the cause but too many Christians are walking in lockstep with spiritual darkness because they want to be seen as standing against racism, just as many are walking with spiritual darkness to avoid losing their heritage.

Don't be guilted or mislead into taking sides with the ungodly. The media, political parties, violent extremist groups, none of them get to dictate to the church the terms of our engagement with the culture. Christ gives us our marching orders through His Word and the Spirit. I reject the means and message of the Alt-Left not because I stand with the Alt-Right but because what they are demanding is violent, illiberal, repressive, counter-productive and ungodly. I exhort you to likewise refuse to be yoked with the darkness to fight a different darkness.