Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Protestant Reformation At 500: So Much Recovered, So Much More To Reform

Happy Reformation Day!

So many others have written far more comprehensively and eloquently about the significance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation that I don't feel the need to embarrass myself by rewriting more poorly what others have already written. What I mostly am today is thankful.

Thankful that I have the Bible translated and readily available in my own language (which coincidentally is not 17th century Olde English). Thankful that because of that I can know that I don't need to impress God with my own self-serving and feeble attempts to be righteous. Thankful that I know the church is the community of the redeemed being equipped for the work of ministry, not a dispenser and controller of "grace". Thankful that no human being has the right or authority to stand between me and my Lord. Thankful that salvation is freely offered to all and is not something to be purchased by the rich. Thankful that the Lord Himself is allowed to be the head of His own church.

It was an imperfect, incomplete Reformation led by imperfect and often deeply flawed men but then again the apostles were flawed men as well. There was so much accomplished and recovered and renewed by the Reformers, Magisterial and Radical alike, but there remains much work to be done before the Lord returns and nowhere is that more true than in the church. It is the task of every believer, and especially the brethren, to continue to reform the church to restore her to a family of God that is ready for the harsh days which are to come.

We must never lose sight of what was once almost lost and what was recovered at such great cost during the Reformation and never trade that for a false ecumenical unity or abandon it at the demand of the world. Far from being irrelevant today, the principles of the Reformation are every bit as desperately needed today as they were in Wittenberg 500 years ago.

Sola Gratia 

Sola Fide 

Solus Christus

Sola Scriptura  

Soli Deo Gloria

Let that be our battle cry. By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone under the authority of the Scriptures alone for the glory of God alone.

Thank you Lord for that obscure monk Martin Luther who five hundred years ago took a bold if unwitting step and in doing so changed the world forever. May we who are in our own ways his successors live lives worthy of the sacrifice of Luther and so many others to hold fast to the truth of the Gospel over this half millennium.

Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda

"the reformed church must always be reformed"

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Peace With God

One of the best parts of Romans is that it is chock full of powerful verses that by themselves are deeper than ten theology books. Romans 5:1 is one of those.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
Peace with God. What is that? It is the change of status between a sinner and God, man once being lost and an enemy of God, now being at peace with Him.

How? Through faith alone. Not by works of human righteousness. Not by religious ritual. Through faith alone.

Faith in what? In Christ alone. The righteousness of the man made right with God, a man who has gone from being an enemy of God to having peace with God and not just peace but being made part of God's family through adoption, comes not from anything we have done to please God but by our faith in Christ who did all that was required to propitiate our sins.

By faith alone in Christ alone. That glorious truth is what had been shrouded in darkness for over 1000 years by the man-made religion of Rome.

Exactly 500 years ago today, on October 29th, 1517 which was apparently a Monday, a monk named Martin Luther was probably already writing out his 95 theses or at least was giving serious thought to what they would be. Two days later he would walk to the church in Wittenberg, Germany to nail those theses to a door. I cannot imagine he had any idea what this would cause, that this spark of unintentional rebellion would strike the tinder of a people sick to death of Rome and her empty religion and eager for the Gospel.

By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. That is the only path to justification and peace with God. Peace is found in Christ alone, not in religion, not in a church, not dispensed by a man.

In Christ alone.

Solus Christus!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Liberal Male Misogyny And Harvey Weinstein

One of the recurring topics I have on this blog is the trait I have noticed among male liberals where they hold pretty ugly views of women that they hide under feminist rhetoric until they get the chance to unload on a "safe" target, usually a conservative woman. They also usually get a pass from other liberals because of the target of their ugliness being conservatives.

Which brings us to Harvey Weinstein, and once the initial accusations of sexual mischief started the floodgates opened. The "casting couch" idea has been a running "joke" for decades and Weinstein himself was the butt of several jokes specifically poking fun at his reputation of being a lecherous creep but he was a good liberal guy and made lots of successful films so people looked the other way. I am not going to recount the accusations but needless to say that in spite of the dozens of women that have come forward to accuse him of harassment, groping and outright sexual assault I am confident there are plenty of other women that traded their youth and sexuality for parts in Weinstein films.

It also sounds like this has been known for a long time and nobody did anything until they were forced to by the viral news story. In spite of his apparently well-known sexual proclivities as it pertains to very young starlets, Weinstein was a favorite among liberals. Along with the grotesque, stomach churning pictures of Weinstein pawing and grabbing actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson, there are lots of these making the rounds.

Why would self-proclaimed liberal champions of women be willing to pal around with this corpulent serial abuser? At least with Bill Clinton it is perhaps because they were kindred souls but for the others I am sure it has nothing to do with the huge amounts of money Weinstein raised for Democrats via direct donations and lavish fund-raisers. Keep in mind that these are the same sort of people who say that Donald Trump is unfit for office because of a sexist comment he made years ago but who mug for the cameras with an actual sexual abuser because he writes them checks.

But I think the bigger issue is that there simply is a different standard when it comes to liberal men versus conservative men. "You have to have sex with me in order to get this part" is OK when it is a liberal saying it but a rather dubious report of a comment by Clarence Thomas, "There's a pubic hair on my Coke can", is a disqualifier when said by a conservative. It isn't like Weinstein is alone in his misbehavior that is overlooked when you are the right kind of celebrity.

Look at some other Hollywood darlings.

Woody Allen married Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his one time girlfriend Mia Farrow, beginning with an affair with the girl while still romantically attached to her mother and has been accused of molestation by other children. Yet Woody is still a favorite among the jet-setter crowd. Personally I never found him amusing or interesting, just mostly a self-important dork that was equally creepy.

Roman Polanski actually drugged and raped a 13 year old girl at the home of another weird cat, Jack Nicholson, and fled the U.S. in 1977. Prior to that he was in a "romantic" relationship with actress Nastassja Kinski who was under 18 at the time. Polanski would have been around 43 at the time, or almost my age. Since then he has gotten a little less creepy by marrying Emmanuelle Seigner who is a mere 33 years younger than he is. All of this time he has been living in Europe as he cannot come back to the U.S. without being arrested. That hasn't stopped him from making films fawned over by his Hollywood pals, including the overrated The Pianist which was nominated for 7 and won 3 Academy Awards, including a Best Director for Polanski. A man uses his position of power to rape one 13 year old girl and carry on a sexual relationship with another young teenage girl, and those are only the ones we know of and there are almost certainly more as his current marriage reinforces his hankering for very young women. Regardless Hollywood doesn't care, and many celebrities including female stars, pine for his return to America.

In the same way that the Left hypocritically yammers about "Black Lives" mattering when it is a politically useful black life and looks the other way when the black lives are the far more numerous lives lost to black-on-black violence and the abortion industry, so to does the Left talk a big show about caring about women and being "feminists" when they can advance their broader political agenda but not caring too much about women, sexual assault, sexual harassment, use of power by men to coerce sex out of women or outright rape them or any other form of misogyny when carried out by one of their allies. The left did all it could to keep Clarence Thomas off the Supreme Court because of the spurious accusations of Anita Hill but lionized serial adulterer and woman killer (literally) Ted Kennedy and still lauds accused rapist Bill Clinton because he is one of their own.

Don't be fooled by the rhetoric. The Left only cares about people when they are politically useful. When a woman is just a wannabe starlet desperate for her big break and offered that break by a grotesque pervert in exchange for sex, nobody cares about her. It is just the ways things are done. The same girl caught in a compromising position with a conservative though becomes a cause in and of herself.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

A Response To Lecrae, Jemar Tisby, Thabiti Anyabwile And Anyone Else Who Cares To Listen

As pretty much everyone knows, evangelicalism and especially conservative evangelicalism is a mostly White thing. Apparently that is a negative.

According to this fairly baffling post from John Piper, 116 Been Real, Lecare Moore, who simply goes by Lecrae, kind of like Cher and Madonna, is distancing himself from "white evangelicalism". I don't know much about Lecrae and I don't listen to his stuff but he has a fairly large following among white evangelicals, especially of the Reformed type.

Based what Piper is saying, he listened to the interview and I just don't have the time, Lecrae is distancing himself in part based on three "experiences", as listed below from Piper's article.
- First, Lecrae’s friend, Tyree Boyd-Pates, the Curator of History for the California African American Museum, told him, “You have said some things that were poignant and provocative for black people, but the phenotype of your music was not black . . . sonically it wasn’t resonating with our soul. . . . It’s like [the] ‘I have a dream’ speech over a rock record.”
- Second, the Washington Post called him an “evangelical mascot.”
- Third, he went public with his dismay over the Michael Brown shooting, and woke up to the reality that this “white evangelical” world did not feel what he felt. “The visceral attacks that came my way were like a shock to my system. That did some identity work.”
Based on this, Mr. Moore is going to "turn (his) back on white evangelicalism"
If I turn my back on white evangelicalism, who am I? If we disagree on . . . Black Lives and social justice, and I’m not getting pats on the back from John Piper, then who am I now? . . . For years that had been what was shaping my identity. . . . If I’m not the evangelical darling, who is Lecrae? . . . 
Getting  a pat on the back from John Piper? How patronizing and insulting. Maybe Piper helped expand Mr. Moore's audience because he appreciated his music and what he had to say but to then reduce it to Piper humoring Lecrae and giving him a "pat on the back" is nothing less than spitting in Piper's face. Then Piper goes on to say this:
Do you see yet why I respond to Lecrae’s “identity development work” with thankfulness? I know young men whose disillusionment with “white evangelicalism” was not as painful as Lecrae’s, and yet they threw the brown baby of Bethlehem out with the white bathwater. They’re done with Christianity. Done with the Bible. Done with Jesus — except the one they create to fit their present political mood. That could have been Lecrae. It could be you. 
Um, so I guess we are supposed to be glad Lecrae has embraced his black identity, something Piper would no doubt condemn in a white person publicly embracing their white identity, because at least he didn't leave the faith totally. Would Piper say the same about a white singer who espoused kinism after the shooting up of a church by a black man in Tennessee a few weeks ago? Piper doesn't seem excited about a lot of what Lecrae says in his interview but he also seems overly focused on "White evangelicalism" being synonymous with support of Trump and opposition to the neo-Marxist Black Lives Matter movement. I sort of don't think Piper understands the subject he is talking about here, either Lecrae and his dismissal and distancing himself from white evangelicalism or what exactly it is that white evangelicals care about or why we do what we do. I might go further and say that Piper seems a lot more concerned with "creating space" and "extending grace" to Lecrae than he is to his fellow white evangelicals and that to me is problematic.

The main problem I have though are with Lecrae's three "experiences" and why those are leading him to distance himself and create barriers between himself and white evangelicals.

Like a fine Beretta double gun I am going to let loose with both barrels.

Disclaimer: I don't listen to rap of any sort and haven't since a brief flirtation with Ice-T and N.W.A. back in high school in the 80's and I generally don't listen to "Christian" music at all so you might think I don't have a dog in this fight, with apologies to Michael Vick. However I do like John Piper and I also happen to be one of those lame, awful White evangelicals (although not one that voted for Trump) and it turns out I am sorta tired of being hectored, harangued, scolded, finger-wagged. I am endlessly told I need to feel guilty, that I need to apologize for my phantom "White privilege" and that I am a part of the group that somehow is collectively to blame for every ill, even the obviously self-inflicted ills, of an entire race of people that I have had very little interaction with of any kind in my life. So yeah, this article was like a matador waving a cape in front of me and I freely admit it made me pretty grumpy.

On the first "experience"... 

Lecrae being told his music isn't "black": "You have said some things that were poignant and provocative for black people, but the phenotype of your music was not black". So I guess his rap was too white? And that makes it therefore illegitimate?

Lecrae seems to have fallen victim to the cult of “authentic blackness” where some blacks get to determine for all other blacks what they are allowed to think, say, sing, wear and believe in order to qualify as authentic. I am not black so I don't understand it but it seems unaccountably powerful. Step outside of orthodoxy and the cult leaders rain down on you like the wrath of God, you become an Uncle Tom, are accused of trying to be white, etc. Like I said, I don't get this. No one says to me that if I don't like Polka music that I am not authentically Polish and I have never heard anyone say that the phenotype of any Polish musician, whatever that means, was not white. It is a very strange cultural phenomenon and if I may be so bold it seems to be a control mechanism for those who want to keep blacks from straying from black racial orthodoxy.

On the second "experience"....

The far left Amazon.com/Washington Post which hates all things Christian called him an "evangelical mascot".

That is a pretty cheap and clumsy and obvious shot and Lecrae seems to have swallowed it hook, line and sinker. If I may be super un-PC, if you are a prominent black man and you are going to leave the PC plantation, you better expect to get some backlash. Nothing is less permitted by our culture overlords than a black man who doesn't parrot leftist orthodoxy (see: Thomas, Clarence).

Pardon my French but how much of a fool do you have to be to get so easily sucked in by such an obvious and blatant cheap shot? I don't know much about Lecrae but I would think he would have more wisdom and discernment than to be led around by the nose by the WaPo. Standing for the truth means some slings and arrows and if you aren't wise enough and man enough to stand up to that, well that says a great deal about your character I am afraid.

On the third "experience"....

Lecrae expressed his opinion on the Michael Brown shooting, an unfortunate event but a justifiable shooting, but was apparently shocked when not everyone and especially not his white audience agreed with him. Wow, I hate it when I say something and not everyone agrees with me. According to the interview this caused "some identity work". So let me get this straight. A fairly complex case that got a lot of attention but it was a pretty clear case of justifiable use of force, caused Lecrae to do some "identity work", a phrase that smacks of some pretty heavy racial identitarianism. Even Jonathan Capehart, a member of the leftist Washington Post editorial board and a contributor for similarly left-wing MSNBC wrote: "(The Justice Department report) also forced me to deal with two uncomfortable truths: Brown never surrendered with his hands up, and Wilson was justified in shooting Brown." (emphasis mine).

I don't get why the Michael Brown case has become the bellwether for alleged police brutality. What exactly is it about a huge, probably very strong guy attacking a cop and getting shot for it that is a racially dividing issue? As I recall, Michael Brown was 6' 4" tall and weighed around 292 pounds. That is about the size of a college or even pro football offensive or defensive lineman. During my year of college at Ohio State, my roommate had a class with a center for the football team and one day his classmate stopped by our dorm room. He was enormous but he was probably not quite as big as Michael Brown. Sure Brown was not "armed" but believe me a 6'4", almost 300 pound adult (he was 18) is plenty dangerous especially when he apparently is attacking a cop and going for his gun.

As a relative nobody that has made a career out of going against the grain, you kind of have to have a little spine and thick skin. If people don't agree with you, taking your ball and going home is not going to do a darn thing to change anything and done on a large scale in this context it simply increases racial polarization. If that is the goal, and while I don't think it is for Lecrae it certainly is for many in BLM and similar groups, then at least be open about it.

That raises a question and comment for me. Why is it OK for Lecrae to self-identify within the church based on his race and openly choose to identify himself with that racial subset and reject or at least “distance” himself from people of other races but if I do the same thing I would be labeled a bigot and racist? Or do we operate under two sets of rules in the church when it comes to race, whites have to reach out and seek to be more "diverse" but blacks can self-segregate and that is OK?

If you think this is OK from Lecrae but the Alt-Right and White nationalism is a problem you are either naive or ignorant or both.

That is why the post from Piper seems so confused and schizophrenic and I don't understand it so I am chalking it up to the general disconnect when we talk about race. I don't think Piper would tolerate this coming from a white evangelical but he seems to sort of tolerate it coming from a black evangelical. Piper seems sincere and he has a track record to back up what he is saying. I just hope he doesn't stumble down the Russell Moore path where virtue signaling engulfs his public ministry because Piper has an important voice and I would hate to see it lost in political correctness like Moore.

We are seemingly as far away from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream of a nation where men are judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin as we were in August of 1963 when he gave his speech but ironically many people who claim the contemporary mantle of King are the ones who judge others on their skin color. This is only exacerbated by the Trump Presidency. Jemar Tisby, Thabiti Anyabwile and others seem bent on flogging white evangelicals for the sins of Trump in a way that I don't recall anyone doing the reverse of during the Obama presidency. Thabiti openly expressed that he supported Hillary Clinton over Trump and no one is more a fan of seeing dead black babies than Hillary. Many black evangelicals seem to be doing what so many accuse white evangelicals of, putting their racial self-interest, misplaced though I think it is, over their Kingdom allegiance.

There has never been a time when black Christians are more in need of the words of Paul in his second letter to the church in Corinth where he wrote:
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
Black Lives Matter is a pagan, ungodly, anti-Christian organization that thrives on causing racial discord. Those who choose to associate with and show affinity toward it rather than "white evangelicalism" are absolutely no different from those who espouse kinism and white separatism in the church. If white evangelicals making common cause with the GOP and Trump is unequal yoking, how much more so is it when black evangelicals make common cause with BLM?

If you want to associate with me in the church because of our shared redemption in Christ, then cool. I welcome that. If you don't want to associate with me in spite of our shared redemption in Christ because of my skin color and my affiliation with "White evangelicalism" and you prefer to elevate your racial identity above your Kingdom identity, then I can't help that and if I am being totally honest I really don't care or have any interest in working up much concern. Just don't act like your racial separatism is somehow noble and principled while that of Richard Spencer or Jared Taylor is evil.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Dissolving The Union: Our Incommensurable Americas

Peter Murphy, writing for Quadrant Online, has penned one of the most piercing analysis of the division in America I have read in his essay Two Incommensurable Americas, I had to look that word up but now I like it and plan on using it a lot. It's primary definition is:

1. not commensurable; having no common basis, measure, or standard of comparison.

That is a good way of describing America today, two (or perhaps more) Americas that have no common basis. I like the first half of his essay a lot, I think he has a great deal that is wise and accurate to say about the state of America and our sharp division. Here was my favorite part:
This is what the American “middle” now looks like. It is filled with graceless, cumbersome, knotty and embarrassing jerry-built pieces of legislation that claim to bridge what is in fact an unbridgeable chasm. The truth is that the two truths of American life cannot be reconciled. There is no meaningful in-between. There is no fuzzy logic that can square program spending and deficit reduction, balanced budgets and massive expenditure on infrastructure. Americans can see this. Tired of the political charade, they have been quietly separating themselves along geographical lines. In the last twenty-five years the number living in red and blue “electoral landslide” counties has risen from 40 to 60 per cent of the voting population. In step, the American political middle has shrunk. In 1994 49 per cent of American voters held “mixed” ideological views. In 2014 it was 39 per cent.
I think his solution is less workable, because it is based on everyone moving to places they like while maintaining the union. The problem there is obvious to me, I can live in a low tax state but I still am part of a big tax, big Federal government. They are not going to "leave me alone" in Indiana and as long as people in D.C. can cater to voters in California and New York by taxing and regulating me, my autonomy to move around within that system is not going to really help me. He also seems to be down on living near kinfolk as a support mechanism because he seems to think it traps people in opiod hellholes.

The "pick up and move" instead of relying on kin model is understandable but I think it also contributes to the fragmentation of family life where young families rely on daycare to raise their children because they are nowhere near their family and old people get stuck in homes because their kids moved away. It also, and I say this from personal experience, leads to kids that are not rooted and have trouble making connections outside of their own immediate family because "neighborhoods" are so fleeting and transitory.

Like I said, the essay is well worth your time to read for the first half because he just nails it on a lot of points. I also like something else he mentioned, the role of the Calvinist ethic in America. As he wrote, the secret Calvinists worked out a long time ago is this: "If you want a successful life then work hard and learn to read big books for yourself." Amen to that!

Give it a read and consider what he says and how it applies to our rapidly dissolving union.

Las Vegas: Some Perspective

The mass shooting in Las Vegas last weekend was a horror show however you slice it. I am not in any way diminishing the horrific nature of what this man did, presuming that the story we have so far is accurate. But in light of the weird American relationship with firearms across the political spectrum, I think it is important to look at a little history and perhaps gain a little perspective.

Las Vegas wasn't the worst mass killing in American history. Not even close. The biggest mass killing in U.S. history happened on September 11th, 2001. Around 3,000 people died that day and our country and the world itself were changed irreversibly, and not for the better. The weapons they used were airplanes. They were not discouraged by "gun control" laws, which are really citizen control laws, they simply used a different method to carry out their mass killing.

In 1995, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols set off an explosive outside of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I was in college at the time and remember watching the footage in the Student Union on the TV but at that time I had no idea how bad it was. The death toll was awful and would be the benchmark for six years. Around 168 people were killed and over 680 wounded. 19 of the murdered were children. 

The bomb was primarily a type of AN/FO device, ammonium nitrate/fuel oil, that was in barrels in a rented truck. The primary ingredients is ammonium nitrate which is very, very common and has been used in a number of bombings. It is common because it is used to fertilize corn fields, I am sure there is enough on farms in spring in a small circle around my house to make a very powerful bomb indeed.

McVeigh had a handgun with him but he didn't use it. He didn't need to in order to kill 168 people.

In Europe where most nations have very restrictive gun control for civilians, the inability to obtain guns hasn't stopped terrorists. In July of last year in Nice, France 87 people were killed and over 400 wounded by a Muslim man driving a truck into a crowd. There have been multiple truck attacks that have killed a bunch of people in places like London and Berlin. On multiple occasions hundreds of people have died in airline bombings like the Lockerbie bombing (270 killed). In 2004 in Madrid train bombings killed 192 people and injured 2000 more. Almost on a weekly basis there are non-firearm related terrorist attacks around the world, in Edmonton and France and England. With backpack bombs or trucks or knives and machetes, evil men commit acts of evil.

It should be pretty obvious that people bent of committing mass acts of violence, as opposed to those committing more localized acts, can pretty easily find ways to do so with or without guns.

So what is it about guns? It has a lot to do with the stark differences in opinion on gun ownership in America. Many people never grew up around guns for hunting and sport shooting and to them guns are terrifying. In many urban neighborhoods, a gun shot is cause to hit the floor. Where I live in the country, the sound of gun fire from my neighbor across the street barely warrants notice. A lot of it is also political. The idea of private citizens possessing firearms is both repulsive and frightening to many people and events like Las Vegas are ripe for political exploitation.

Some people point to the widespread epidemic of gun violence on a smaller scale and say that is a reason to ban or more heavily regulate guns but the hard reality is that the smaller scale gun violence is pretty limited in scope and in geography. In 2016 alone Chicago experienced 762 murders which works out to 63.5 per month. In other words, Chicago had a death toll higher than Las Vegas every single month for an entire year. So far this year there have been over 500 murders in Chicago with 3 months left in the year, including most recently 4 day old Jenae Lemon who was delivered early after her mother was shot and killed but ended up passing away 4 days later. The uncomfortable truth is that apart from a handful of high profile mass shootings, the vast majority of firearms violence in this country involved guns used by criminals and that criminal behavior is heavily skewed by geography and race. An estimated 7% of Americans, black men, commit in excess of 50% of all murders. A few counties in urban areas like Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore account for a majority of gun violence and an awful lot of counties have essentially zero gun violence despite the fact that those counties, like mine, have extraordinary rates of firearm ownership. I would be surprised if more than a couple of homes in a five mile radius of me are without at least one firearm and many are multi-gun homes like mine.

Depending on what number you use there are in excess of 300,000,000 privately owned firearms in America already and more are manufactured and sold everyday. Any efforts to limit gun ownership are bound to fail and any attempt to mass confiscate firearms would lead to incredible violence. America has always had a lot of guns but has not always had anywhere close to this level of gun violence which begs the question: what has changed?

If we are not willing to ask the harder questions we will continue to see the same response to gun violence, gun control advocates reflexively calling for more laws and restrictions after every high profile shooting and gun ownership advocates digging in their heels and refusing to budge in inch. That makes for good political theater but does nothing to solve the problem.

Las Vegas has the sad distinction of being the biggest single mass shooting in American history but it is an example of a fairly rare event. Gun violence in general in America is the more serious problem but an unwillingness to face the facts ensures that nothing will ever be done.

We don't have a gun violence crisis, we have a moral crisis and only a moral solution will make a dent in the slaughter.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Dissolving The Union: Cowlandia

As part of a series, in a prior post on my other blog (I am moving this series to my main blog), I took a stab at my first new nation to be formed from the dissolution of the United States, a combination of the northeastern states into an independent nation I called The Yankee States of America.

As I said in that post, that one was probably the easiest because the Northeast is so homogeneous in terms of it's political and cultural attitudes and it would even allow them to keep their bitter sportsball rivalries intact. The Y.S.A. is the cleanest and neatest of the new nations to create.

As you move away from the Northeast, things get more complicated because of the stark difference between the urban and suburban/rural areas in the rest of the country. Even seemingly monolithic California has 53 Congressmen and of those 39 are Democrats and 14 are Republicans, so over a quarter of California's delegation is Republican. But there are other considerations beyond strictly political considerations, specifically cultural connections between regions. Thus I present for your consideration..

The first thing you might notice about Cowlandia is that it is HUGE in terms of land size. These 11 states, not counting the parts of states like Nevada, Washington and New Mexico, combine for over 1.1 million square miles. Since the entire U.S., counting Alaska,  is about 3.5 million square miles, Cowlandia would be almost a third of the entire U.S. landmass and at that size would be the sixth largest nation in the world in area, slightly ahead of India and well behind Russia, China, Canada, Brazil, and Australia (as the U.S. would no longer exist at number 3).

What it is not is super densely populated, unlike the YSA. The great state of Texas stands out among the rest of Cowlandia. Texas currently has two of the top ten most populous U.S. Metropolitan Areas (Dallas-Fort Worth #8 with 7 million people and Houston at #10 with 6.3 million people.). Overall the state is number two in the country in terms of population with over 27 million people, well below California's 39 million but well ahead of number 3 Florida's 20 million. However the rest of Cowlandia as a whole includes some of the least populous states in the present United States, states like Wyoming with the smallest population in the U.S. at barely half a million and both Dakotas with less than a million people each.

State Size in sq miles Population
Idaho 83,570 1,654,930
Montana 147,040 1,032,949
North Dakota 70,700 756,927
South Dakota 77,116 858,469
Wyoming 97,814 586,107
Nebraska 77,354 1,896,190
Utah 84,899 2,995,919
Colorado 104,094 5,456,574
Kansas 82,277 2,911,641
Oklahoma 69,898 2,911,338
Texas 268,581 27,862,596

1,163,343 48,923,640

With almost 49 million people scattered over 1.2 million square miles, Cowlandia has a population density of around 42 people per square mile, similar to nations like Finland and Paraguay. The current United States has a population density of around 86 people per square mile and ranks 182nd in the world on that basis, while Cowlandia would register around 201st out of 240 some odd nations

Cowlandia is also rich in  natural resources, from the agricultural breadbasket that extends from north to south to the oil and natural gas in Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming, Cowlandia's strength is not in high tech but in raw materials. Texas has the second largest gross state product in the U.S. with a staggering $1,648,077,000,000 GSP. With a GSP of well over $1.6 trillion, Texas by herself would be in the top ten nations in the world in terms of GDP, just ahead of Canada, so Cowlandia as a whole would have plenty of economic strength to go it alone.

With a northern border of Canada and a souther border with Mexico plus a large Gulf of Mexico coastline, Cowlandia has lots of access to international trade. Obviously with Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, etc. Cowlandia has a great deal of oil, natural gas and other mineral resources plus the vast grain acreage in Kansas, Nebraska and others. A sizable amount of the beef you consume is finished out in the giant feedlots in Colorado and elsewhere in Cowlandia. Of course Cowlandia also includes a number of important parks like Glacier, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Zion, and many others. But it is not all wheat and cows and parks. Cowlandia has a number of urban centers in Houston and Dallas, Salt Lake City and Denver plus a bunch of colleges and universities in Boulder, Provo, Lincoln and all across Texas, so Cowlandia would have ample access to the creative class.

What it does not have is an overabundance of fresh water and that could be a problem. Perhaps Cowlandia could trade with the yet to be revealed new home of the upper Midwest, oil for water?

Cowlandia broadly speaking is the American West. Having lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming I can tell you there is a huge difference between the West and the Midwest. People in the YSA probably assume anyone west of Pittsburgh is a redneck or cowboy or both but the Western culture is very different from other areas in the country. While South Dakota is not Texas, they are both in my opinion far more similar to one another than they are to people in Boston. While there are exceptions in urban areas and Colorado is a lot more "blue" than the rest, much of Cowlandia is deep, deep red.

Many people who live in Cowlandia are resentful of people "back east" telling them how to manage their own lands. The fight over the reintroduction of the gray wolf a number of years ago was a perfect example. A rancher in Montana is going to have a very different understanding of the utility of bringing back an alpha predator than a wealthy urban housewife in Manhattan that contributes to the Natural Resources Defense Fund. Even Texan suburbanites are very different from people in the suburbs of Boston or Philadelphia or even places like Atlanta and Nashville.

Some other questions. Where would the capitol be? Probably in Texas, and probably somewhere like Dallas. Denver is another option as it is fairly centrally located in Cowlandia and might keep some of the power from being overly concentrated in Texas. Westerners would probably prefer a Dallas capitol to a capitol in D.C. but would like decentralization even more. What about the sizable Hispanic population? I would assume many would stay and be welcome in the new nation, many others might move to Arizona or California as I would assume that the government and culture of Cowlandia would change quite a bit. Part of dissolving the Union would be to allow enough time for people who wanted to move to do so freely before the new nations are formed.

What about the nukes? Between Strategic Air Command in Nebraska to NORAD in Colorado to the nuclear missile "farms" in the prairie states to air bases like Minot (N.D.), Malmstrom (MT) and F.E. Warren near where we lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming that house both nuclear capable B-52's and our land based nuclear strike force, Cowlandia holds a major percentage of the present U.S. nuclear deterrent. As an aside, it was kind of weird to drive around Cheyenne and see nuclear missile facilities seemingly randomly scattered around the otherwise empty prairie. Like most of the military, the nuclear forces would need to be split up. Although places like California and the YSA might not want nukes, they probably wouldn't want to give them all to new neighboring nations. A mutual defense treaty between the newly independent countries is a topic for another post.

Cowlandia for me was the second easiest new nation to carve out. From here on out it starts to get more difficult.


Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

President John F. Kennedy, 1962