How to allow your opinions to rule your life.

There is truth, and then there opinions, and more often than not there is a significant gap between them. Only in hindsight have I come to realize that the central quest of my life has been seeking then testing what is true: who are we really as human beings, what power or entity truly runs this world, how then shall we live in order to make our world a better place for future generations and our fellow creatures? How do we distinguish between searching for truth and searching for certainty? Once we believe that a particular philosophy or theology is true, how do we remain open to testing it and possibly incorporating practices that are not incompatible with yet not explicitly enumerated in our true philosophy/theology?

The search for truth IS NOT a search for certainty. Our senses and our intelligence are wholly inadequate for fully understanding the world; at best we can apprehend a tiny fraction of what is true. The better we can handle ambiguity, the closer we can come to knowing what is true. If you were to know everything that the most intelligent person knew about life, there would still be a vastly greater territory called “what you don’t know that you don’t know.” The following principles will pretty much guarantee that you won’t find truth but will end up in the funhouse hall of mirrors of your opinions.

1. Search out knowledge for the wrong reasons, such as intimidating or impressing others with your knowledge.

2. Search for certainty so you can feel secure in believing you don’t need to ask further questions. Enjoy futility!

3. Believe only the sources that reinforce your own opinions and denigrate anyone who disagrees, rather than trying to understand the other viewpoints and test them.

4. Shout down, ridicule or suppress the expression of opinions contrary to your own. Invent “blankophobias” you can accuse your opponents of. Instead of debating the merits of your opinions with others, engage in name-calling and ad hominem attacks. Be smug and superior. Insist that those who disagree with you are ignorant, stupid, hateful, and absolutely wrong.

5. Don’t examine your own motives, don’t question yourself.

6. Get stuck on particulars and anecdotes, and ignore principles. This bears more explanation. Anecdotes are meant to appeal to emotions, mostly of the sympathetic variety, and particulars select a limited number of examples to try to create a general rule, whereas principles are what really matters. My favorite example is the U.S. code of Federal crimes. When our nation was founded there were 3 Federal crimes: treason, piracy and counterfeiting, because the operant principles of governance criminalized, at the Federal level, only activities which truly undermined principles which the U.S. (and most state) constitutions held to be vital: the integrity of private property, safety of the citizenry, and integrity of our currency. That was governance by principle.

Today there are as many as 300,000 Federal crimes, so many that every citizen is guilty of breaking a law unknowingly. Most of the crimes are regulatory–running afoul of regulations put in place to deal with particular situations or emotional issues, and meant to placate a particular constituency. That is what happens when principles are subordinated to particulars and anecdotes that rouse emotions. WE ARE ALL CRIMINALS.

7. Under the label of compassion, treat the downtrodden (in the U.S.) as victims of a system, rather than agents of change in their own lives who can be helped by uplifting their own attitudes and skills (the attitudes come first). Possible exceptions: persecuted people living under vicious, repressive regimes–ex. N. Korea, Venezuela; Christians and other religions in majority Islamic countries.

It takes mental discipline and discernment, developed through much practice, to be able to comprehend the principles behind the opinions and arguments. In a mentally lazy society that exalts emotions over mental discipline, most people will continue to be ruled by their opinions. Take a few moments to read this blog regie hamm and tell me you don’t have a tear or two for what we have lost. If you don’t, more’s the pity for you. Go wallow in your own opinions.

Godly Satire

These words are from Douglas Wilson, my favorite thinker. I have cut a few lines for the sake of brevity; my goal is to retain all the principles. I believe that satire, done well, is one of the most effective weapons for fighting evil. While his words are delivered to a Christian audience, I believe the principles are relevant to all effective satire.

1. A godly satirist should be a member of a worshipping community of orthodox and faithful Christians, and he should live in such a way as to be accountable to others for his words and actions. He should not be the sole judge and arbiter of the words that come from his mouth and keyboard. (Eph. 5:21).

2. A godly satirist should be steeped in the language and categories of Scripture. Spurgeon said of Bunyan that if you pricked him anywhere, his blood would run bibline. It should be the same here (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

3. A godly satirist should have a warm and affectionate relationship with his wife, sons, daughters, mother, and father. No close member of his family should flinch when he walks into the room (Col. 3:1921).

4. A godly satirist should be well-educated, well-read in the kind of literature that he is seeking to contribute to. A good ear comes not only from practice, but also from listening long and thoughtfully to those who are gifted and have practiced the same art.

5. A godly satirist should study to learn the quantitative boundary between satire and scurrility, knowing from the outset that there is such a boundary. (Dt. 25:1-3).

6. A godly satirist should study the qualitative difference between satire and scurrility. This is a matter of timbre and tone. No mechanical rules can be set down for it, but it is a very important distinction to make (Heb. 5:14). It is the shrillness or “screech” test.

7. A godly satirist should not be too young. In his Table Talk, Martin Luther once quoted an old instructor of his who had long wondered how St. Jerome, God’s grouch, had ever gotten saved. But old and crotchety men come from somewhere, and where they come from are young men who were promoted too soon and too rapidly (usually because of native intellectual ability) to positions that then go to their heads. Because satire assumes a stance of rhetorical superiority, there is a real snare in it for certain young men.

8. A godly satirist should target lack of proportion, not exhibit lack of proportion (Matt. 23:24).

9. A godly satirist should look carefully (and regularly) at the effect he is having on younger Christians who know him and desire to imitate him (2 Cor. 11:1). Does their imitation of him lead regularly to relational disasters in their lives? If the imitator is becoming more and more like the satirist, is this a matter that causes dismay in all godly observers? Or is it something that encourages them?

10. A godly satirist should have long experience in letting love cover a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8). He should not be the kind of man who consistently gets bad service in restaurants. One of his chief characteristics in his day-to-day living should be his patience (Gal. 5:22). Road rage should be an alien temptation for him.

11. A godly satirist should be courageous. Lawful satire is leveled at targets that know how to defend themselves, and that will defend themselves. As King Lune of Archenland put it, “Never taunt a man save when he is stronger than you: then, as you please.” Lawful satire is a challenge to engage; nothing is more unbecoming than to act surprised when the challenge is received and answered. Don’t start what you are not prepared to finish.

12. A godly satirist should be a man who knows how to humble himself in order to seek forgiveness from others for sins he has committed (Jas. 5:16). If he is too proud to humble himself when he has sinned, then he is too proud for this calling.

13. A godly satirist should not be an angry man. His demeanor should generally be jolly, not angry. Man’s anger does not advance God’s righteousness (Jas. 1:20). Anger, even when it is righteous (Eph. 4:26), is like manna and goes bad overnight (Eph. 4:27). Occasions of anger are appropriate (as Christ’s example shows in Mk. 3:5), but if it is an accurate description of a man’s general demeanor, he should not even think about satire.

14. A godly satirist should not have “little man syndrome,” meaning that he should not employ satire because he has something deep inside to prove, usually to his father. If he is trying to make the little voices in his head go away, he should be aware that the use of satire only enflames them.

15. A godly satirist must be free of all envy. James tells us that truly destructive battles occur within the church because of envy (Jas. 4:1-6). This means that a satirist must be sure in his heart that he is not in any envious way dazzled or bewildered by that which he is attacking.

16. A godly satirist should know the difference between weakness and arrogance, and, as far as possible, reserve his arrows for the latter. No doubt sometimes the former are caught in the crossfire—some simple widow in Israel probably thought that the gold sanctified the altar because her rabbi had told her that.

17. A godly satirist needs to read widely in church history, particularly in ancient disputes. This will dislodge the very provincial notion that the current rules of academic etiquette are somehow binding on all generations of the Church.

18. A godly satirist should not be stuck on one speed (Ecc. 3:1-8). All satire, all the time, would be tolerable for about forty-five minutes. We are to weep with those who weep, laugh with those who laugh, encourage the downcast, rebuke the arrogant and powerful, comfort the afflicted, and (here is where satire can come in) afflict the comfortable.

19. A godly satirist should hate what is evil. The fear of God is not only the beginning of knowledge, but it is also defined as the hatred of evil. “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate” (Prov. 8:14KJV).

20. A godly satirist should love what is good (Tit. 2:14). He should be motivated by a love that seeks to defend what is noble and right, or weak and defenseless, and not be motivated by a bitterness that seeks to bite and tear (Gal. 5:13-15).

If these are a father’s final words to his daughters, make them count.

On Tuesday June 27, 2017, I am having radical surgery. My wife and daughters are out of town that day, on their own business, and I am haunted by the idea that I may die before seeing them one more time. As is my habit, I am leaving “last words” just in case, but this time they are in a blog rather than a written letter. Why? This entire blog is a legacy to my daughters. Not because I am so wise, but because I am an explorer of “what lies behind”: the obvious, the slogans, the comfortable fictions human beings console themselves with and especially the god of our own opinions–the futile search for certainty in a world full of uncertainty, because this world is way too rich for our limited and finite minds and senses to comprehend.

Explorer has been my life role (and I charge my precious daughters to explore the world with open minds, not becoming smug with false certainties but searching for what IS true–then testing it). My life is much closer to it’s end than the beginning, so I hope my words will carry enough weight to merit really testing them. I stole this phrase from G.K. Chesterton: My gravestone will bear these words “This is the only stone he left unturned “. These are lessons I have lived, not just preached, these are my formative experiences, so here goes:

Summer, 1965. My sophomore summer vacation from college was spent in Quantico, Va. at the Marine Corps PLC (platoon leader corps). I liked the idea of being tough, so of course The Marines officer training it had to be. This was before the era of politically correct and “kinder gentler” (someone please gag me) US military. We were not only yelled at (they still do that) and called despicable names (not so much anymore) like “lower than whale shit”, and required to do very serious stuff, like push-ups over buried bayonets (blades sticking up as a warning to overcome tiredness).

The total course was to last two summers in college, then months after graduation. The summers were extra hard, designed to weed out the weak and uncommitted. Most of the abuse was encouragement to quit, and most of the college boys did quit while it was still hard–the first 2 months–even though we all knew that if we survived that first summer, the next one was designed to be much easier, because the Corps wanted to keep the survivors. I realized very soon that being a Marine officer would mean leading men in a war that no one understood. Vietnam was just beginning to bleed into the national conscience, but even then I realized I couldn’t lead men if I wasn’t sold on the goals.

So I decided to quit. But even back then, I knew that every decision would have future consequences. There was no way I wanted to look back at this decision and realize that I was too weak to persist. Yet I still realized I couldn’t ask my troops to follow me in a war I didn’t believe in. The solution was to quit only after the hardest part was over–the end of the summer. This is not what most people do. They quit things when they are hard, and then indulge in spurious excuses to convince themselves that they could have made it if it were really worth it, but often their regrets for what they failed to accomplish or even try in life become tinged with self-pity, and that disease leads to a theology of victimhood (it’s always someone else’s fault that they failed, pick your victmizer). I’m getting off track here, but Ben Carson’s words hit it. ben carson

But the subconscious knows the truth, and punishes self deception with self destructive habits–alcohol, drugs, casual sex–all leading to self hatred. Our whole modern society is structured to allow individuals to excuse their self destructive habits so they can still feel good about themselves. The real answer is do the hard things! Then you can feel like a success when you revisit your history in your mind! Here’s one of my favorite examples, which I can personally relate to since hearing is my big challenge. mandy harvey My girls, no matter what life throws at you, you can overcome. Trust the Lord and do not yield to the twin scourges of accomplishment: wishful thinking and self-pity.

Summer 1969: I was drafted in November 1968, midway through my first semester in grad school. In order to finish that semester, I opted for a delayed enlistment, which meant I would have to attend Army Officers Candidate School. I went in the army February 1969 and was in Ft. Benning, Ga. for OCS during July and Aug. This was going to be 8 weeks of hell, followed by a month of mostly classroom and then simulations of combat. By this time, Vietnam was–to me–a losing proposition.  The quandary about leading men in this war was even more intense than during PLC summer.

My decision was the same. Persist through the hardest part, then quit when it became relatively easy. That way I could realistically look back and say I didn’t quit because it was too hard; I quit because to persist would put me in the position of violating my conscience. Except the stakes were now much higher. Quitting PLC meant going back to college. Quitting OCS meant being sent to Vietnam as an infantry grunt. But at least I would not be responsible for leading others to death. So I prepared to go to Vietnam. I had a month of leave to get my affairs in order.

The main thing I was concerned with wasn’t death, it was what I might be required to do that would violate my conscience, and the future consequences of such. The My Lai massacre occurred only a year ago, but despite the outcry about it, the emotion that drove it was typical of soldiers in combat. Even on the eve of battle, soldiers, like most of us, make no decision about what to do until they are confronted with the expediency of the moment. Then it’s usually too late. Peer pressure is stronger than conscience, especially in war.

What I decided to do was to draw the lines I would not cross, no matter what. I hoped that when the time came to either stand firm or yield to expediency, that I would stand firm on the right side of my lines. My main line was, “I will not participate in the harm to any unarmed non combatants, and will oppose those who would do that harm.” My resolve was tested a few months into my Vietnam tour and I was able to stand firm and also convince my guys to make no decisions until they cooled off. At the time they wanted to shoot me; hours later they thanked me.

This principle of drawing your lines in advance of the pressure can also work to keep you relatively safe and to avoid unnecessary conflict.

Summer 1971: I was a park naturalist in Yellowstone for 6 seasons. That summer I was assigned to Grant Village and we lived in apartments with very thin common walls. One night my neighbors on the other side of my wall were getting drunk and partying with very loud music. As I lay in bed, I rehearsed what I was going to say to them when I went over, in a few minutes. Worst case was, they would refuse my request to turn down the music and ridicule me in the process. I would either have to slink away (you know that just isn’t me) or get aggressive. What I rehearsed was cutting the power cord to the stereo, which would solve my problem and give them something to think about.

With that resolve firmly in mind, I got up and went over to their door. Instead of politely knocking, I just opened their door and stood there, sweeping my gaze back and forth while trying to look benign, the scissors in my pocket. After a moment of total silence, the participants looked to each other for cues about what to do. I just silently projected resolve. Finally, the ringleader, a very tall and strong member of the road crew, said “I guess you want the music turned down.” I nodded. He turned it down so much you could barely even hear it. I went over to the stereo and turned it up slightly, thanking them politely.

This incident illustrates the power of resolve and planning ahead. BUT the resolve must be real. I was fully prepared to cut their cord. If there was any doubt or hesitation, they would have sensed it and probably challenged me instead.

Fall 1979: I have considerable doubt about including this incident, since it doesn’t present me in a positive light and might get in the way of the lesson, but it illustrates how resolve can save your life and perhaps that of others. I was living in Tucson and had just passed my test for first degree black belt in Aikido, and was feeling pretty feisty. (since I had only been an aikido student for 4 years I was awarded the next lower belt, first kyu, rather than black belt, because I hadn’t studied long enough to be allowed to wear the black). I drove to a park to enjoy the weather after the test, with my practice samurai sword behind the driver seat. The park was very popular with aggressive panhandlers so there were few other people there. As soon as I parked, two large and scruffy guys approached my car, and I knew I was about to have an opportunity to apply the resolve principle.

The larger one practically got up in my face and asked “do you have any money, brother?” while the other one maneuvered to get just beyond my peripheral vision to the left. I remember thinking, “if I kill these guys are there any witnesses around?” So when I started scanning around the park they probably thought I was looking for help. The next words I spoke is where resolve shows up. I looked him up and down and then leaning forward while gripping my sword hilt said, “I’m not your brother and I have money, but none for you.” This was not a time for mealy mouth excuses (“Uh, I don’t have any money..” Yeah, sure, that won’t discourage his kind).

His reaction was to blink a few times and back up. My left side was facing him while I gripped the sword with my right hand (a sword isn’t necessary, it could be Mace or any self defense aid you are confident about). I was visualizing how I would clear the seat, and the angle of the cut. Suddenly, he smiled and backed rapidly away and both of them moved out smartly, as we used to say in the Army.

Whew, this is a lot for you to process. You have only known me as dad, but my hard lessons have preserved me to live long enough to be your father. I can summarize these lessons very simply: 1. Really know what you stand for. 2. Assess your current situation for future compromises or violations, or actions now that you would not want to have to justify in hindsight. 3. Decide in advance what lines you won’t cross or what actions on your part are likely to preserve your stands. 4. Prepare your attitude to win future confrontations. 5. When the time comes, ACT on your beliefs confidently. You can either have results or reasons, but not both.

I will close with something that still retains its weirdness even though it occurred 32 years ago. I was living in Seattle and attending the EST 6 Day.  You can look it up on the internet. The highlight for me was the Samurai Game, invented by Aikido practitioner George Leonard. Up to that point in my life I knew I was a leader, because I was always willing to step out with action, even if I failed, but I had never experienced external validation. The first step of the game was dividing into two teams and choosing the Daimyo, or lord, who would order the troops into battle. The process of choosing the Daimyo was truly mystical. Each team was about 100 men and women strong. The team was forbidden to talk during this process and was not even allowed to discuss how to choose the Daimyo.

None of us knew each other. We were from all over the country and this was the second day of the six day, so all 100 of us just milled around, and somehow within minutes, we were all coalescing into a circle and walking in a circle, still not talking. Within minutes we started pointing fingers at certain individuals until all were pointed at one person–me! When everyone was pointing at me I walked into the center of the circle. Everyone shifted pointing into the center, at me. At that point only the Daimyo was permitted to speak. The other team was having trouble getting their appointed Daimyo to accept leadership and had to choose at least three before one reluctantly accepted leadership, by tentatively issuing instructions to the troops.

Once all the troops were pointing at me, something like a spirit entered into me and even my voice changed. I adopted the gruff intonation of a Samurai. I immediately commanded everyone to bow to me, as a demonstration of fealty.  While this is not something I would ever have commanded in the real world, here it seemed completely appropriate. If anyone showed even the slightest hesitation to bow, I ordered him or her to commit sepuku–ritual disembowelment by knife, sometimes called harakiri. It was done in pantomine, and the dead samurai had to leave the group and join the dead pile. By the time I was done, I had killed off a third of my army, but those remaining had shown immediate obedience.

The troops were angry at me. How can we win when we have lost a third of our army they whined. The battle consisted of a single warrior from each team playing rock, paper, scissors while standing on one leg, until one lost their balance. The person who remained standing the longest won, the loser died and had to join the pile of corpses. Despite the fact of being a third shorthanded we won by a wide margin.

The lesson for me was that commitment counts for more than numbers. How long did the 300 Spartans hold off the hordes of Persians at Thermopylae? Are you committed to whatever you are doing?

Well girls, this is all stuff that went into forming your father; I don’t regret any of it. Character is forged by adversity–you never know what you REALLY stand for until you are tested in the fire. When your time of testing comes–and it will–remember these lessons. When you pray, pray for endurance rather than deliverance. Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”

 

Is this satire or pathetic? Monty Python was obviously satire, but this guy….I’m not sure.

Tariq Nasheed spends his day on Twitter dot-com railing against white supremacy and hidden white supremacist symbols. He’s famous for such hot takes like “the Cleveland Facebook killer may be used as an excuse for white supremacists to go around shooting black people.” He even appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox show to chastise the police for shooting the OSU terrorist last year.

Nasheed calls himself an “anti-racism strategist.” But not too long ago, Nasheed wasn’t an anti-racism strategist at all—he was just plain racist. He built his fame and wealth through a series of self- help books, the most popular being The Art of Mackin,’ which became a New York Times bestseller. He also had an online radio show called Mack Lessons.

From Episode #7: Mackin’ on Asian Females

In one great part of the episode Nasheed describes how the SARS and bird flu epidemics made Asian women less valuable. “So Asian girls kind of dropped down a notch, and I’m saying this because I used to love me some Asian broads around 2001-2002. Those were my main team players, but I had to start cutting them off the team.

“Asian girls are still salvageable, you can salvage them. Asian females like I said were hot for a minute, but then all of a sudden the damn bird flu started coming into play and chicken fever, all types of shit, SARS, they started getting all types of shit coming from these Asian broads. So that kind of threw everybody off from Asian girls for a minute, all these little strange Asian diseases started popping up. Because right after that happened, everybody started focusing on the Latina girls.

“For awhile Asian girls were the shit, but a nigga didn’t want to get feathers on his d**k from the bird flu or whatever was popping off. I’m not saying that every Filipino girl is a drug user, but a lot of them are. A lot of girls from those poorer countries are major drug users. But damn near all of them, especially the attractive ones, are attention whores.”

From Episode #6: Mackin’ on Latina Females “Now with Puerto Rican females, you gotta step to them with confidence, and you gotta get them young. Not underage, don’t get your ass on MSNBC, Dateline as a pedophile, but you gotta get them at 18, 19. You gotta get them out of their community.” You gotta get them young, fresh off the boat.

“A lot of Puerto Rican bitches will hit the wall at 30. By the time they get to 30 years old, they look a hot mess. I don’t know what it is in the Puerto Rican water, or the Chupacabra monster got them, but they hit the wall.

“A lot of girls here from Brazil, Columbia, they be on some gangsta shit. Bitches be drug mules or high class call girls. You kind of have to have your foot in the game to deal with women like that, cause if a Brazilian broad has gotten out of her country, that bitch got some hustling under her belt. And she did something to get out of her country. She done sold some dope, she done sold some pus*y, she done sold something to get up out of that country.

“Brazilian girls and a lot of women from South America have bad breath. I know that sounds kinda weird, but whenever I meet a girl from South America, all them bitches breath smells funny.”

THIS IS NOW ME, NOT THAT IDIOT. I AM GUILTY OF LAUGHING AT HIS REMARKS, BECAUSE I TAKE THEM AS SATIRE, IN THE ABSURDIST VEIN OF MONTY PYTHON. BUT WHAT IF HE IS SERIOUS OR, EVEN IF THAT GARBAGE ISN’T WHAT HE BELIEVES, WHAT HIS AUDIENCE WANTS TO HEAR? I NEVER USE TWITTER, BUT THIS TIME IT WAS CONVENIENT TO SEND HIM THIS MESSAGE (yeah, I know it’s called “tweeting” but seriously, you know I am the next to last person on earth to call my insights “tweets”): “saw your Makin comments. satire, right? nothing that stupid could actually be serious, right?”

He hasn’t answered back. It apparently doesn’t require character to be anti-“white supremacist” these days.

 

Why a radical thinks he is offering realistic solutions.

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas. I intend to challenge some of his ideas, but mostly I want my readers to understand his underlying presuppositions. His reasoning can often sound compelling, BUT the validity of his positions is dependent on the validity of his presuppositions. What follows is the bulk of his editorial, with my comments in red).

“But strategies should be based on a clear understanding of shared values. And with a carnival-barker president leading a party so committed to a failed ideology that it’s willing to risk ecocide, radical left ideas have never been more compelling. In the face of conservative and liberal failures to deal with our most basic problems, leftists offer reality-based solutions.”

Let’s start with a general distinction: Liberals typically support existing systems and hope to make them more humane. Leftists focus on the unjust nature of the systems themselves. Two of these key systems are capitalism (an economic system that, to a leftist, celebrates inequality and degrades ecosystems) and imperialism (a global system in which First World countries have long captured a disproportionate share of the world’s wealth through violence and coercion).

“Liberals don’t oppose capitalism or U.S. imperialism, arguing instead for kinder-and-gentler versions. Leftists see the systems as incompatible with basic moral principles of social justice and ecological sustainability.

“Things get more complicated with white supremacy (historical and contemporary practices rooted in white or European claims of a right to rule) and patriarchy (men’s claim to a natural role over women in systems of institutionalized male dominance). Leftists disagree among themselves about how these systems interact with capitalism and imperialism. Some on the left focus on class inequality and decry “identity politics,” which they define as reducing all political questions to race, gender or sexual identity. Others reject putting economic inequality alone at the center of politics and argue for an equal focus on white supremacy or patriarchy.

“Complicating things more are leftists who disagree with radical feminist opposition to the sexual-exploitation industries of prostitution, pornography and stripping, arguing that women’s participation means the industries can’t be challenged and shifting the focus away from why men choose to use women.

“If this all this is getting a bit bewildering, welcome to left politics. Rather than generalizing about what “real” leftists should believe, I’ll summarize my views:

“Capitalism is an unjust wealth-concentrating system that is ecologically unsustainable. Either we transcend the pathology of capitalism or dystopian science fiction will become everyday life in the not-so-distant future. There is no credible defense of the obscene inequality or disregard for the larger living world that’s inherent in capitalism. Capitalism DOES result in wealth concentration, but for very different reasons than does Communism. Communist nations have even more of a gap between rich and poor than do “capitalist” (the nations I call “capitalist” are distinguished by: having and generally enforcing laws protecting private property; generally prosecuting bribery of government officials–both those bribing and those taking bribes; laws encouraging innovation and discouraging theft–including that of intellectual property; ruling primarily through laws based on a constitution rather than arbitrary dictates. Few nations actually meet these qualifications). 

Wealth concentration in the hands of a relative few people or families in capitalist nations is overwhelmingly due to 3 factors: innovations in the creation of and selling of products and services which bring in more revenue than expenses, i.e. profit (ex. Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos); the systematic investment of capital in those successful enterprises (ex. Warren Buffett); or the creation of financial instruments which improve the flow of capital into innovations (ex. Wall St. when done legally). What I call “nominally” or superficially capitalist nations, like Mexico, most of South America, Italy and Greece, don’t qualify under my definition, mostly because of widespread corruption and lax law enforcement. Such countries actually have more in common with communist nations.

Wealth concentration in communist countries (and others ruled by cartels or corruption) is overwhelmingly due to theft, coercion, murder and abuse of authority. The difference between rich and poor is far greater than in truly capitalist nations because the poor are REALLY DESTITUTE compared to the poor in capitalist nations (ex. the “poverty line” in the U.S. would qualify as relative wealth in the vast majority of countries in the world).

SO MUCH FOR HIS ASSERTION THAT “THERE IS NO CREDIBLE DEFENSE OBSCENE INEQUALITY.” THE INEQUALITY IN CAPITALISM IS FAR LESS THAN IN COMMUNISM AND IS MOSTLY DUE TO THE INHERENT INEQUALITY OF AMBITION AND VISION WHICH IS THE HUMAN CONDITION!! AS FOR CAPITALISM BEING “ECOLOGICALLY UNSUSTAINABLE”, THE TRUTH IS THAT ECOLOGICALLY UNSUSTAINABLE PRACTICES AND EXTREME POLLUTION ARE FAR GREATER IN VIRTUALLY EVERY COUNTRY THAT IS NOT CAPITALIST (look at China, Russia, most countries in Africa and South America).

“The assertion by the U.S. that it’s the world’s exemplar and natural leader is a dangerous delusion that must yield to meaningful diplomacy and trade policies based on moral principles. not raw power. There is no hope for global cooperation when the U.S. maintains hundreds of military bases and facilities in other countries, designed not for defense but to assert U.S. dominance. 

Our Constitution IS the exemplar of a government “by, of and for the people”, and we are the first nation in history to be established on an idea (of freedom), rather than by conquest or partition or the fiat of another country. Whether or not U.S. military bases are for defense or to assert dominance is irrelevant–they are for both, and so what? The U.S. is far from perfect, but what nation do more people in the world WANT TO GET INTO?  The idea of “global cooperation” is a non-existent fantasy. Without the power of the U.S., the U.N. would be dominated by Russia and China, those exemplars of human dignity and rights!

“What do leftists propose as an alternative to a global capitalist economy undergirded by military might? I’m not a revolutionary utopian, preferring innovative ways to work toward left values. Two examples:

The worker cooperative movement helps people establish worker-owned and worker-managed businesses within capitalism, creating spaces for real democracy in the economy. An example in my hometown of Austin is ATX Coop Taxi, owned and managed by the drivers. The most well-known cooperative enterprise is Mondragón, a Spanish federation of cooperatives with thousands of worker-owners. These businesses offer a model for a transition out of capitalism. I think the worker cooperative movement is a good idea, but notice that his examples are in capitalist countries. In fact, the countries with the most worker cooperatives are the U.S. (more than every other country in the world put together, by far), U.K and Canada–all capitalist countries! Look it up. worker coops Right in my home town there are a few of them, including a large multi-state employee-owned grocery chain (WINCO). 

Then there are the E.S.O.P.s, Employee stock Ownership Plans, created in 1956 in the U.S. (based on an earlier U.S. 1921 concept, Stock Bonus Plans), which allow the employees of a company to become a legal entity–the ESOP–which becomes the owner of the company. Other ways employees can own portions of the company they work for are stock options, restricted stock, stock appreciation rights, and direct stock purchase plans. These are ALL innovations of capitalism. They are all voluntary, unlike coops, where workers are required to join. 

“National health insurance, sometimes known as single-payer or Medicare-for-all, would lower health care costs while rejecting the cruel capitalist assertion that people without money are expendable. Most developed countries have adopted this, but U.S. politicians routinely reject it, even though polls show a majority or a plurality of U.S. voters like the idea. This kind of commitment to collective flourishing challenges obsessions with amoral individualism so common among U.S. capitalists. He calls his ideas innovative. Hello, Medicare and Medicaid are 52 years old! There is no capitalist assertion that “people without money are expendable!” You want to see THAT idea in action? Go to India, land of enlightenment, or any African, South American and Central American nation, and most Asian nations.

“What kind of leftist am I? I don’t call myself a Marxist, communist, socialist or anarchist, though all of those traditions offer insights along with lessons from their failures. I don’t belong to what are called “left sectarian” organizations, which typically remain committed to 19th- or 20th-century doctrines and political figures (such as Marxist-Leninist or Maoist groups). I call myself an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist leftist rooted in a critique of white supremacy and a radical feminist critique of patriarchy. Not the pithiest label, but accurate. His “identity” is mostly in what he critiques. Sorry pardner, you don’t have much of a program beyond the obligatory labeling and name-calling.

“My left politics also focus on the human species’ intensifying assault on the larger living world — multiple, cascading ecological crises that we can’t afford to ignore. Modern humans’ arrogance puts us all at risk. The naïve assumptions of the high-energy and high-technology industrial world — especially the idea that we can solve all problems with more energy-intensive technology — must be abandoned as we struggle to understand how many people can live sustainably on the planet. Not possible to know, but that won’t stop his kind from looking for ways to suppress both innovation and the upward mobility of those he claims to care about. And yeah, technology combined with reasonable and voluntary conservation IS the answer. That, or what? Whatever he has in mind, it WON’T be voluntary.

“Liberals and conservatives typically ignore ecological realities, but so does much of the left. The overwhelming nature of the challenge scares many into silence, but problems ignored are not problems solved. For example, research on renewable energy is important, but no combination of so-called clean energy sources (and let’s remember that wind turbines and solar panels are industrial products, which can’t be manufactured cleanly) can power the affluence of the First World. The solution is dramatically lower levels of consumption in the developed world. Who will determine how much is enough and how will it be enforced? Like I said, it won’t be voluntary!

“The U.S. is a dramatically right-wing society when compared with other industrialized countries, illustrated by Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign. What does that even mean? Lack of socialized medicine (except for Medicare/Medicaid)? Or that Trump is President? He offered no foundational critique of U.S. systems, opting instead for a traditional social democratic platform to make our institutions more humane. Yet in America, such policy proposals were seen by many as revolutionary and Sanders was often dismissed as a wild-eyed radical.

“Radical” is often used as a political insult, suggesting people who focus on violence and destruction. But the word simply means “going to the root,” and at the root of our contemporary crises of justice and sustainability are capitalism, imperialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and the human willingness to destroy the world in pursuit of affluence. What exactly are the “crises of justice and sustainability?” The root of ALL human problems, including all his “isms” (racism, sexism, imperialism) is pride and the rejection of God (who created this world and who is alone able to redeem it).

His presuppositions are flawed, and grounded in rhetoric rather than reality. He reminds me of the Communist East Germans: Before The Wall came down, they taught in their schools how much more moral and desirable their side was than West Germany. Did they ever consider, how many West Germans were shot trying to get to East Germany (none) compared to their people trying to get into West Germany (too many to count)? Who put up the Berlin Wall anyway (Commies) and for what reason (trying to force their people to stay on the “more moral and desirable” side; NOT to keep Westerners out). What an example of the blindness of presuppositions!!

 

 

“Compelled speech” comes to Canada.

Taken from various sources. My comments in italics. 

Canada passed a law Thursday making it illegal to use the wrong gender pronouns. Critics say that Canadians who do not subscribe to progressive gender theory could be accused of hate crimes, jailed, fined, and made to take anti-bias training. Canada’s Senate passed Bill C-16, which puts “gender identity” and “gender expression” into both the country’s Human Rights Code, as well as the hate crime category of its Criminal Code by a vote of 67-11, according to LifeSiteNews. The bill now only needs royal assent from the governor general.

“Great news,” announced Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister. “Bill C-16 has passed the Senate – making it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity or expression. (Trudeau is being deceptive–it isn’t about discrimination, it’s about penalizing the use of traditional and biologically-grounded truth.).#LoveisLove.”

“Proud that Bill C-16 has passed in the Senate,” said Jody Wilson-Raybould, the country’s attorney general and minister of justice. “All Canadians should feel #FreeToBeMe.”(Look at that idiotic hashtag. Canadians can only be “free to be me” when other Canadians can be compelled to subscribe to their agenda).

Jordan Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto, and one of the bill’s fiercest critics, spoke to the Senate before the vote, insisting that it infringed upon citizens’ freedom of speech and institutes what he views as dubious gender ideology into law. “Compelled speech has come to Canada,” stated Peterson. “We will seriously regret this.” [Ideologues are] using unsuspecting and sometimes complicit members of the so-called transgender community to push their ideological vanguard forward,” said the professor to the Senate in May. “The very idea that calling someone a term that they didn’t choose causes them such irreparable harm that legal remedies should be sought [is] an indication of just how deeply the culture of victimization has sunk into our society.” (Is it about victimization or is it about using the political system to legitimize aberrant choice and silence dissent?) Peterson has previously pledged not to use irregular gender pronouns and students have protested him for his opposition to political correctness. (Of course! No one is allowed to hold a contrary opinion).

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to the director of communications for the House of Commons, but received no comment in time for publication.

OTTAWA, June 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Canada’s Senate passed the Justin Trudeau Liberals’ transgender rights bill unamended this afternoon by a vote of 67 to 11, with three abstentions. The bill adds “gender expression” and “gender identity” to Canada’s Human Rights Code and to the Criminal Code’s hate crime section. With the Senate clearing the bill with no amendments, it requires only royal assent in the House of Commons to become law.

Critics warn that under Bill C-16, Canadians who deny gender theory could be charged with hate crimes, fined, jailed, and compelled to undergo anti-bias training. Foremost among these critics is University of Toronto psychology professor Dr. Jordan Peterson, who along with lawyer D. Jared Brown, told the Senate committee that Bill C-16 is an unprecedented threat to freedom of expression and codifies a spurious ideology of gender identity in law.

Peterson was invited to the committee by Manitoba Senator Don Plett, who voted against the bill. Plett unsuccessfully proposed amending Bill C-16 to add: “For greater certainty, nothing in this Act requires the use of a particular word or expression that corresponds to the gender identity or expression of any person.” Immediately after news of Bill C-16 passing, Twittersphere erupted with hateful attacks against Plett. (That “hate” is of course allowed by the freedom-loving left)

Jack Fonseca, Campaign Life’s senior political strategist, said the bill will be used to attack Christian belief.  “Mark my words, this law will not be used as some sort of ‘shield’ to defend vulnerable transsexuals, but rather as a weapon with which to bludgeon people of faith and free-thinking Canadians who refuse to deny truth,” he told LifeSiteNews.

Peterson became Canada’s preeminent critic of the Liberal bill after he produced three videos opposing the enforcement of gender ideology, one of which blasted Bill C-16, which he said “requires compelled speech.” He has also vowed that, come what may, he will not use “genderless pronouns” such as “zir” and “ze” for those who self-identify as gender non-conforming when requested.

Lawyer Brown told the Senate Committee the federal Liberals have made it clear they will follow Ontario’s lead when implementing Bill C-16. And Ontario Human Rights Code guidelines “mandate” the use of genderless pronouns on request, he said. “Mandating use of pronouns requires one to use words that are not their own that imply a belief in or agreement with a certain theory on gender,” he added. “If you try to disavow that theory, you can be brought before the Human Rights Commission for misgendering (“yet another new word for the postmodern lexicon of idiocy) or potentially find yourself guilty of a hate crime. To sum up, on the subject of gender, we’re going to have government-mandated speech.”

Those who refuse to go along could be “brought before the federal tribunal,” Brown said. If the tribunal assesses a penalty such as a fine or “non-monetary remedy, such as a cease and desist order or an order to compel them to do something,” and the person refuses, “they will find themselves in contempt of court and prison is the likely outcome of that process until they purge the contempt,” he added. I HAVE TOTAL CONTEMPT OF COURT ABOUT THIS. I’D BETTER NOT VISIT CANADA.

IN FACT, LET’S ALL TRUTH-LOVING AMERICAN BOYCOTT GOING TO CANADA!

 

 

How to glorify yourself without giving up your privilege.

Of the myriad protestors on campus these days, who seem to be the most vociferous, even violent (though given where they are from and how they were raised their concept of violence is more verbose than physical)? Is it the truly oppressed or underprivileged, those actually living out the indignities off campus that are being railed against on campus? Doesn’t seem like it to me. It seems to me that the most exercised protesters are those who were raised in relative privilege. Could it be that their delicate social consciences are more an expiation of guilt than a desire to level out privilege?

A recent article in National Review (Class Dismissed, by William Voegeli) suggests that these self-defined social justice warriors are as “fraudulent as they are insolent” and will remain so until they are demonstrating the giving up of some of their own privileges instead of denouncing privilege in general. As Thomas Sowell has observed, these kind of liberals love their theories far more than they love the actual people whom their theories purport to defend.

I say that, in the main, their protesting is a combination of guilt expiation, self-glorification and virtue-seeking, the violence of which is directly proportional to their need for those gratifications. To be clear, I am not including in this group those with real grievances, nor those willing to pay a steep personal price in seeking justice for others (like the white “freedom riders” did in joining protests against segregation and racial oppression down South where some even died for their pursuit of justice). Just as postmodern Christianity has come to mean cheap grace, so has much of postmodern protesting come to mean cheap virtue.

Another really obnoxious facet of postmodern campus protesting (PCP from here on) “I call graduation by grievance.” This year Harvard, that bastion of privilege, held it’s first ever “Black Commencement”, in addition to the regular inclusive commencement ceremony. While the BC was open to all students, Harvard defended it as “not segregation but a celebration of the “African Diaspora” at Harvard. Harvard also held it’s third annual LatinX ceremony for Latino grads, and farther down the privilege rung, University of Delaware is among those offering a “Lavender” commencement for LGBT (do I have that sequence right, or did I leave off the Q) students. I don’t know which other schools are offering that, but I presume they don’t have enough African and Latino students to celebrate a significant enough diaspora.

The editorial in National Review that featured these ceremonies suggested the following: “How about we go back to one commencement ceremony but each student who feels victimized in some way gets to wear a scarlet letter V for each class of victim to which he, she or it belongs? The more V’s you have the greater your sense of honor.”

Okay, sounds great, but what’s the prize? Shall I sponsor a contest to create a special plaque? How about a degree: B.S. in compassion and virtue?elgrito

 

The “Flight 93 Election”, an “alt-right” manifesto, and post election thoughts.

This is very incendiary. The “alt-right” as applied by liberals is a disparaging term for a wide range of conservative views, and even though the following “manifesto” is not racist per se, his comments about immigration could feed the racist accusation. My comments appear at the end.

From “The Flight 93 Election“, by Michael Anton (Publius Decimus Mus), December 5, 2016: “How have the last two decades worked out for you, personally? If you’re a member or fellow-traveler of the Davos class, chances are: pretty well. If you’re among the subspecies conservative intellectual or politician, you’ve accepted—perhaps not consciously, but unmistakably—your status on the roster of the Washington Generals (named for the team that used to travel with the Harlem Globetrotters for the purpose of losing) of American politics. Your job is to show up and lose, but you are a necessary part of the show and you do get paid. To the extent that you are ever on the winning side of anything, it’s as sophists who help the Davoisie oligarchy rationalize open borders, lower wages, outsourcing, de-industrialization, trade giveaways, and endless, pointless, winless war.

“All of Trump’s 16 Republican competitors would have ensured more of the same—as will the election of Hillary Clinton. That would be bad enough. But at least Republicans are merely reactive when it comes to wholesale cultural and political change. Their ‘opposition’ may be in all cases ineffectual and often indistinguishable from support. But they don’t dream up inanities like 32 ‘genders,’ elective bathrooms, single-payer, Iran sycophancy, ‘Islamophobia,’ and Black Lives Matter. They merely help ratify them.

He now talks about 3 ways the “deck is stacked against conservatives (underlining mine):First, the opinion-making elements—the universities and the media above all—are wholly corrupt and wholly opposed to everything we want, and increasingly even to our existence. (What else are the wars on ‘cis-genderism’—formerly known as ‘nature’—and on the supposed ‘white privilege’ of broke hillbillies really about?) If it hadn’t been abundantly clear for the last 50 years, the campaign of 2015-2016 must surely have made it evident to even the meanest capacities that the intelligentsia—including all the organs through which it broadcasts its propaganda—is overwhelmingly partisan and biased.

“Second, our Washington Generals self-handicap and self-censor to an absurd degree. Lenin is supposed to have said that ‘the best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.’ But with an opposition like ours, why bother? Our ‘leaders’ and ‘dissenters’ bend over backward to play by the self-sabotaging rules the Left sets for them.

Third and most important, the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle. As does, of course, the U.S. population, which only serves to reinforce the two other causes outlined above. This is the core reason why the Left, the Democrats, and the bipartisan junta (categories distinct but very much overlapping) think they are on the cusp of a permanent victory that will forever obviate the need to pretend to respect democratic and constitutional niceties. Because they are.

Oh, right—there’s that other issue. The sacredness of mass immigration is the mystic chord that unites America’s ruling and intellectual classes. Their reasons vary somewhat. The Left and the Democrats seek ringers to form a permanent electoral majority. They, or many of them, also believe the academic-intellectual lie that America’s inherently racist and evil nature can be expiated only through ever greater ‘diversity.’ The junta of course craves cheaper and more docile labor. It also seeks to legitimize, and deflect unwanted attention from its wealth and power by pretending that its open borders stance is a form of noblesse oblige. The Republicans and the ‘conservatives’? Both of course desperately want absolution from the charge of ‘racism.’ For the latter, this at least makes some sense. No Washington General can take the court—much less cash his check—with that epithet dancing over his head like some Satanic Spirit. But for the former, this priestly grace comes at the direct expense of their worldly interests. Do they honestly believe that the right enterprise zone or charter school policy will arouse 50.01% of our newer voters to finally reveal their ‘natural conservatism’ at the ballot box? It hasn’t happened anywhere yet and shows no signs that it ever will.”

I have cut a considerable amount of text from the letter, but not because I disagree with any of it. In fact, I recommend you read the whole letter, here. flight 93 election I have to comment on the previous paragraph. I do believe in the value of immigration, IF we are allowing or inviting immigrants that meet ALL of the following criteria:

  1. They want to come to the U.S. for the right reasons: greater economic opportunity, and/or safety from persecution because of their ethnicity or religion, and/or escape from the violence of wars (including drug wars);
  2. They believe in our values (as enumerated in the Declaration of Independence) and our political system (in the U.S. Constitution). If they haven’t read both documents, they should be required to before being eligible to emigrate here;
  3. They want to assimilate into our culture (the “melting pot” idea);
  4. They want to work and contribute to our nation AND they have the skills or knowledge or willingness to labor to make a positive contribution.

I also strongly believe that any of the following reasons should be sufficient to bar potential immigrants from the U.S.:

  1. They have committed violent crimes in their country (other than in self defense);
  2. They are a drain on their own country and want to come here for freeloading;
  3. They have been a member of or identified with any group on our terrorist watchlists;
  4. They are hostile to our values and freedom, and do not want to assimilate.

Naturally, the subjective stuff is difficult to ascertain and a lot of vetting will be required. Notice that I have not mentioned: race, origin, religion, sexual preference. I don’t believe those factors should play a role. As to whether or not an immigrant is in this country legally, before making that a necessary criteria, I would want to see our immigration mechanisms become more efficient first. I am not a policy wonk; all of the above are my beliefs, whether currently practical or not.

 

Justification of the violent.

Douglas Wilson’s blog, “Justification and the Violent Left” is printed here in it’s entirety.

“The recent shooting of Rep. Scalise has brought the old complaint about double standards to the surface again. Absolutely everyone knows that if the shooter had been a Tea Party guy, and if the baseball team in question had been the Democrats, the pieces would still be falling out of the sky. Something really is going on here, but it is not as simple as some want to make it.There are people who want to shoot conservatives and there are people who want to shoot abortionists. There are unhinged people out on all the edges.

“So if that is the case, then why the claim about double standards? Why do I say, as the saying goes, that if it weren’t for double standards, the left would have no standards at all?

“It goes like this. On the left, almost all the extremists are able to function as members of a justified class, and I am using this word in its theological sense. There are exceptions (and this baseball game shooter appears to be one), but there is an array of people given to violence who are justified by their central authorities. And people on the edges who are justified by people at the center are no longer at the edges.

“All the leaders of the conservatives provide no justification whatever to hard right extremists. They denounce them early and often. They denounce all of them, front to back, and side to side. Conservative leaders are even required to participate in ritual denunciations of things their tribe did 150 years ago. In the main this is actually a good thing (people fighting for fixed moral standards should live up to them), but it will become decreasingly a good thing as the definitions of extremism that are being cooked up and crammed down our throats by the left become increasingly bizarre. Outlaw normalcy!

“So the issue is not whether you can find a bad actor on the right and then another bad actor on the left. And the issue is not how bad they might get. We should rather compare the left and right on this issue by looking at how much violence is approved by its respective center. And this is where comparative thought experiments come in handy. We know that Kathy Griffin was surprised by the negative reaction she got, but if, say, Dennis Miller had done a photo shoot with a severed head of Obama, we all know that the rest of his life would be something that only Salman Rushdie could identify with. The left was quick to blame Sarah Palin for helping to create the “climate of hate” that contributed to Rep. Giffords getting shot. She had used a “targeting” metaphor with regard to congressional races, and without any evidence that the shooter knew anything about her metaphors, the conclusion was reached that Palin had something to do with the harm done to Giffords. And then here, we have someone who had stopped just short of having “I love Bernie” on his forehead, we are all officially mystified as to what made him snap. His actions were rightly condemned, but where did that climate of hate go? It was here a minute ago.

“The forefront of the justified classes on the left include, but are not limited to, activists, artists, college students, protesters, organizers, and youths. The issue is how much violent behavior gets a free pass, how much of it is not denounced by the leaders of the faction that benefits from the agitation. Smashing windows and burning cars is euphemistically called ‘protesting,’ just so long as the bricks are being thrown by a left hand. From Berkeley to Baltimore, from Ferguson to Oakland, from Evergreen to Middlebury, the left is largely free to resort to violence.

“The violence will be denounced if someone gets out too far out over their skis, as the baseball shooter did. But there is still a large amount of tolerated violence going on constantly in the background. That violence is not being denounced in the same way, and why? Because it is being used. It is one of their chess pieces on the board, one they use a lot.

“And the only other kind of violence that is sure to be denounced will be when middle America (fairly well armed, come to think of it) starts to fight back. I hesitate before leaving this point in my post here because people always think I am wishing for that kind of reaction, or somehow threatening it. Not at all. But whether I want it to or not, whether I am wishing for it or not, the reaction is already underway.”

Implementing the “Benedict/Boniface” option individually.

This is an excerpt from “The Boniface Option”, by Andrew Isker. Italics and underlining are mine.

“Today, the West (and the American Empire in particular) like Rome in Benedict’s day, is in a state of slow, seemingly inexorable decline. Soft times have created soft men. So God has given us hard times. These hard times, this great decline is what the big, important book of the moment, The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher, was written to address.

“To start with, if you don’t know, what is The Benedict Option? My summation of it is this: a movement to emphasize the formation of intentionally Christian communities centered around spiritual and intellectual development as opposed to massive religious right coalitions fighting the culture war on a national scale. I don’t find this to be objectionable. Anyone can see that the church has less influence in American culture than at any point in this nation’s history. The heyday of evangelicalism, where evangelicals were a voting bloc that the creatures in Washington had to appease, is no more.

“There is no way that this kind of Christianity that preaches a gospel of cheap and easy vending machine grace (not to mention apathy toward and neglect of the world which Christ reigns over) could build and sustain a culture that could last centuries. So, instead of fighting quixotic national political campaigns to oppose sodomy and abortion, shifting our emphasis to building local communities of Christians where we can grow strong in theology and liturgy (and be strengthened by good theology and faithful worship) is what we ought to be doing.

“Therefore, if we are going to embark on forming local Christian communities in the face of the chaos of imperial decline, which I think we should, it is of the utmost importance that we have an idea of the kind of men we should be forming. We need men who would trade the cloister for confrontation. Men who would trade the relative comfort of the monastery for missions and martyrdom. We need hard men for hard times.

“We have to learn not to care what unbelievers think. We ought not to care what their opinion of us is. These are people who desperately need to hear the truth. The truth about a God-man who was murdered for speaking the truth. We have to understand, every unbeliever would have killed Jesus if they had the chance. Yet the Lord loved them and gave His life for them. As He was going through the agony of the cross at any instant with a single word He could have eviscerated those responsible for His murder. Instead, He forgave them.

We need to be forming men like Christ. We need to be forming men like Boniface. Men who boldly spoke the truth, no matter the cost. And men who sacrificially laid down their lives for their enemies when the cost came due. Love for our enemies means: 1. recognizing we have enemies. 2. telling these enemies the truth. 3. laying down our lives for them. Most evangelical cultural engagement replaces steps 1 and 2 with: 1. make no distinctions about anything 2. be winsome and try to get everyone to like you. There is only one direction an approach like this can go. Those who adopt it do so out of a mix of apathy, pragmatism, and cowardice.

“Not so with the Boniface Option. This isn’t to say we have to go out of our way to be hated. Picketing the funerals of soldiers telling people ‘God hates fags’ is despicable and obviously not the Boniface Option. But if the culture is increasingly becoming anti-Christian (it is), you won’t have to go out of your way to find enemies. Faithfully worshipping Jesus and leading a godly life will draw them to you like flies to honey. And the Thor’s Oaks they worship won’t be chopped down with pathological niceness. They will be chopped down by men who are ready to lose their careers, reputations, 401ks, etc. for faithfulness to Jesus. Men who chose what is hard because they believe their God. Men who, like their Lord, won’t break a bruised reed, but who follow a God who executes kings in the day of His wrath. The soft times of Pax Americana created soft men. It appears our Lord has given us hard times. It is time to forge hard men.”

So how do we forge “hard men” in the sense that Isker means? I refer to how Jesus himself dealt with persecution. Jesus continued to preach, lead, heal and declare the truth all the while being admonished by the “authorities” to cease and desist–to shut up. Finally, these unjust and hypocritical authorities came for him with torches and swords. At first, after being arrested, when he was being badgered with questions, He “answered them not a word”, even when Pilate wanted to release him. He waited to speak truth directly to the main persecutors themselves, the Sanhedrin, knowing it would churn them up and seal his fate. How do we apply the principle of picking our own battlefield before we reveal our weapons?

1. I believe that every thinking Christian should begin a blog, or at the very least make their Facebook posts meaningful to the cultural conflict we face, and should refrain from wasting their words and intellects with frivolity. Forget Twitter, and all the other abbreviated social media. Your words and thoughts should have enough power that they require a more appropriate venue for expression. Imagine if millions of Christians were articulating what they believe, hopefully eloquently and coherently. If you’re not sure you can, LEARN!

2. If you own a business, it’s only a matter of time before the some unjust law or regulation persecutes you for what you believe–we’ve seen plenty of examples already. I am referring specifically to sexual preference “non-discrimination” laws, NOT racial or ethnic non-discrimination laws. You should have written out precisely and thoroughly, in your bylaws or a business statement of faith, what your stand is on what you will NOT do, before trouble comes, so it is not arbitrary or expedient. Then when a customer asks you to do something against your beliefs, you have something already written to stand on, that can hopefully lead to a fruitful discussion.

Now comes the hard part. If you are sued, continue in your business, refuse to spend one cent or one minute defending yourself, not wasting your words on the flunkies or subordinates who have no power to change anything. Like Jesus, and let the authorities do what they will. There will be subpoenas issued to appear in court, ignore them. There will be fines, don’t pay them. The police will haul you away, go with them, speaking not a word. When you are physically hauled before the magistrate, let your statement of faith speak for you, and demand to read it aloud–that is your main defense. Legal defense of an unjust lawsuit gives a veneer of validity to the lawsuit. If they put you in jail, go, and speak your statement of faith to the jailers, love them as Jesus would.

Before you do all this, make sure your witness has been righteous. Before persecution comes, make sure you have followed all legal and just regulations and codes, paid fees and taxes, and established a good reputation. My prescription above is for unjust persecution, not malfeasance. Now imagine that the majority of Christian business owners did what I am suggesting: It wouldn’t be long before the police were balking at enforcing any more court orders when the aggrieved customer could have just as easily gotten their product or service from a different vendor. Same for judges issuing subpoenas, courts having trials and jailing of innocent defendants. If the LGBTQ (or whatever acronym the tribe wants to be known as) prefer to destroy someone’s business rather than go to another vendor, my prescription would become quite a headache for the system rather than helping their cause.

3. Should each individual business owner fight injustice on their own, or would it be more effective to follow a format that could create a more unified front? Christian business owners and leaders should form groups to support each other, refining their bylaws and statements of faith, perhaps pooling funds to support families of owners willing to go to jail. They could also entreat loyal customers to do the same, after sharing their statements with them.