30 December 2008

There's No Pain-Free Cure for Recession

"Dr. Doom" used to be the laughingstock of the financial networks. His accurate recession predictions have now made him a desired "talking head" on the financial networks. Even the Wall Street Journal is now on board. You can read the article by clicking the link in the posting title above.

29 December 2008

Take a Little Quiz

Click the link above to take a neat little quiz that contrasts Austrian economic theory (the Militant Pacifist's position) with other schools of economic thought (e.g., Keynesian, Chicago-school, Marxian, Classical, etc.).

It'll make you think!

16 December 2008

Juvenile Humor...

Why is this funny?
I'm not sure, maybe it reminds me of playing dodgeball in elementary school. One thing I'm sure of. You should never laugh really hard with food in your mouth.

13 December 2008

The Subversion of Christianity (Jacques Ellul)

The Subversion of Christianity; by Jacques Ellul

Ever since reading his Anarchy and Christianity a couple of years ago, I’ve been wanting to read The Subversion of Christianity. I finally did. Ellul is an interesting, persuasive and depthful thinker.

Ellul believes that true Christianity (the Christianity of Jesus) is necessarily subversive of power (I agree with him), but that Christianity has become so subverted that it is no longer subversive. He reviews many of the trends, ideas and movements that have subverted Christianity in his book.

Links to a couple of online reviews are here, and here. Read together, the reviews are very informative, so I’ll not write a complete review, but I will post some quotations that I found interesting. My hope is that by sampling the quotes, you’ll get a feel for Ellul’s writing - and that you may decide to read this (or similar works) yourself. There are things to disagree with in the book (and many things to upset conservatives and fundamentalists) but for the thinker with an interest in Christian Anarchy and the ethics of Jesus, The Subversion of Christianity is definitely a worthwhile read.

On the effects of the fall - “From the beginning of Genesis we learn a stupefying fact whose implications have seldom been grasped. What Adam and Eve acquire when they take the fruit is the knowledge of good and evil, that is, knowledge in the sense of the ability to state, as God does, that this is good and that is bad. There is no good and evil above God that even God is bound to apply. There is no transcendent good and evil as we constantly think when we judge that the Old Testament God is wrong when, for example, he orders Abraham to sacrifice his son. To be like God is to be able to declare that this is good and that is bad. This is what Adam and Eve acquired, and this was the cause of the break, for there is absolutely nothing to guarantee that our declaration will correspond to God’s. Thus to establish morality is necessarily to do wrong (15).”

On Christian freedom – “Perfect freedom, spiritual as well as political or social, freedom because liberation by God from new bondage is the supreme mutation that was not just proclaimed or ideologized but achieved, is accomplished in us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; in him fate ceases to exist and we are radically free. All this is contained already in the first act of liberation from Egypt. It is the constant promise of the God of Abraham. It is effected in the incarnation. But it is strictly intolerable in the fullness of its implications. It is psychologically unbearable. It carries frightening social risks and is politically insulting to every form of power. It was not possible. On every social level and in every culture, people have found it impossible to take up this freedom and accept its implications. This is the basic impossibility, the unanimous refusal of all people, which has resulted in the rejection of Christian freedom.
A risk with no cover, a joyful and perilous acrobatic feat with no net! It was not what we wanted. This is the pure and simple reason for the rejection of freedom. But since it is at the same time acquired, a tragic conflict develops between effective freedom (transformed into an ideal or formula or so-called need) and the refusal to accept the risk of it. This is the conflict that gives rise to the incoherences of the Western world with its oscillation between dictatorship and revolution. And it was found in the very reality of God’s revelation itself (43).”

On the origin of “just war” – “The famous story of Charlemagne forcing the Saxons to be converted on pain of death simply presents us with an imitation of what Islam had been doing for two centuries. But if war now has conversions to Christianity as its goal, we can see that very quickly it takes on the aspect of a holy war. It is a war waged against unbelievers and heretics (we know how pitiless was the was the war that Islam waged against heretics in its midst). But the idea of a holy war is a direct product of the Muslim jihad. If the latter is a holy war, then obviously the fight against Muslims to defend or save Christianity has also to be a holy war. The ideal of a holy war is not of Christian origin. Emperors never advanced the idea prior to the appearance of Islam.
For half a century historians have been studying the Crusades to find explanations other than the silly theory that was previously held and conforms to addresses and sermons, that claims their intention was to secure the holy places. It has been shown that the Crusades had economic objectives, or that they were stirred up by the popes for various political motives such as that of securing papal preeminence by exhausting the kingdoms, or reforging the weakening unity of the church, or again that they were a means whereby the kings ruined the barons who were challenging their power, or again that the bankers of Genoa, Florence, and Barcelona instigated them so as to be able to lend money to the Crusaders and make fabulous profits, etc. One fact, however, is a radical one, namely, that the Crusade is an imitation of the jihad. Thus the Crusade includes a guarantee of salvation. The one who dies in a holy war goes straight to Paradise, and the same applies to one who takes part in a Crusade. This is no coincidence; it is an exact equivalent.
The Crusades, which were once admired as an expression of absolute faith, and which are now the subject of accusations against the church and Christianity, are of Muslim, not Christian, origin. We find here a terrible consequence and confirmation of a vice that was eating into Christianity already, namely, that of violence and the desire for power and domination. To fight against a wicked foe with the same means and arms is unavoidably to be identified with this foe. Evil means inevitably corrupt a just cause. The nonviolence of Jesus Christ changes into a war in conflict with that waged by the foe. Like that war, this is now a holy war. Here we have one of the chief perversions of faith in Jesus Christ and of the Christian life.
But we must take this a step further. Once the king is the representative of God on earth and a war is holy, another question necessarily arises. If a war is not holy, what is it? It seems that the Christian emperors of Rome did not ask this question. They had to defend the empire. That was all. Naturally it did not arise in the period of the invasions and the Germanic kingdoms either. War was then a fact, a permanent state. No one tried to justify it. But with the Muslim idea of a holy war the idea is born that a war may be good even if it is not motivated by religious intentions so long as it is waged by a legitimate king. Gradually the view is accepted that political power has to engage in war, and if this power is Christian, then a ruler has to obey certain precepts, orientations, and criteria if he is to act as a Christian ruler and to wage a just war. We thus embark on an endless debate as to the conditions of a just war, from Gratian’s decree to St. Thomas. All this derives from the first impulse toward a holy war, and it was the Muslim example that finally inspired this dreadful denial of which all Christendom becomes guilty (102-104).”

On the Islamic origin of infant baptism - “We have still to examine a very different subversion. It concerns piety, the relation to God. We see in it an influence that we have already mentioned in passing. Every infant is supposedly born a Muslim, for Islam is perfect conformity to nature. Scholars, then, argue that it is through a bad influence of the “cultural” setting that this baby, who is by nature a Muslim, deviates from the truth and becomes a Jew or a Christian or a pagan. Evangelical thinking takes exactly the opposite view. One becomes a Christian only by conversion. Our old being, which is by nature corrupt, is changed by the action of the Holy Spirit, who makes of us new beings. Conversion alone, conscious and recognized, so that there is confession with the lips as well as faith in the heart, produces the Christian. This new birth, the opposite of natural birth, is confirmed by the outward sign of baptism, which seems to imply an express acknowledgement of faith. But progressively this strict view weakens. The church fathers analyze the sacraments, and the tendency toward an opus operatum understanding develops. The sacrament is intrinsically efficacious. Baptism ceases to be a sign of converting grace and becomes in itself an instrument of salvation. Hence, if we desire that infants, who are naturally damned due to the transmission of original sin, should be saved, we must baptize them immediately at birth so as to avoid the risk of their dying first. Salvation, then, comes almost at the moment of birth. At the same time that we reevaluate nature, which is now not radically bad, the conviction gains ground that the soul is “naturally” good and saved, that there is only a hindrance, a flaw, and that original sin is merely an obstacle that baptism overcomes.
Very quickly the formula spreads that the soul is by nature Christian, which is the counterpart of the Muslim view. Now the idea that faith is natural, that one is put in a Christian state by heredity, that being a Christian is indeed a kind of status in society, that it involves at the same time membership in both the church and society (just as excommunication is exclusion from both church and society), is the very opposite of the work of Jesus Christ. We have to insist that Christendom in this sense is superimposed upon the church and that it duplicates exactly what is taught by Islam. Once the theory of “the soul by nature Christian” is accepted, society has to be made up of Christians. There is no alternative. Already with the Christian emperors there was a thrust in this direction. But it was the Muslim example that proved decisive. Each time we find the same refrain. There is a need to outdo Islam, and that means imitating it (104-105).”

On the Christian embrace of “weakness” - “And what about another concept that seems to be essential in the life of Jesus Christ, that of weakness, which is linked with antipolitics? What can be more the opposite of what we are? Is not the spirit of power at the heart of all our actions? I concede that it nay not exist among some so-called primitive peoples in tribes that know no violence and seek no domination, But these are such an exception that we certainly cannot take them as a natural example of what humanity is in general – if there is such a thing as “humanity in general.”
If we look only at historical peoples, what do we see? Wars, conquests, aggrandizement, the crushing of the vanquished, the magnifying of power, the quest for greatness. Let us not say that this applies only to the West! That is all comes from Rome! For what did Egypt do for two thousand years but conquer and dominate and assert its power? And the Assyrians and the Chaldeans? Is the flower of Greek civilization held up against us (apart from Lacedaemon)? But at Athens what were games in the arena but glorifications of competitive force? And who but the Greeks founded colonies, and gradually invaded the eastern Mediterranean, often by devious paths? And what about Alexander?
It might be objected that I am speaking about the spirit of violence and power only with reference to the Mediterranean basin. Let us look further afield. The Aztecs? Were they not inspired by fear? The Eastern world? Where did those terrible successive waves come from, the Huns, Hungarians, Genghis Khan, Tamburlaine, the Turks who periodically overwhelmed Europe? Did they not come from the very same Asia that many people want to depict today as wise and devoid of any spirit of violence? And within this continent frightful wars ravaged India periodically for two thousand years, not to speak of the Manchurian and Mongolian invasions that spilled across China. China itself until the thirteenth century was a colonizing and imperialistic power. I have already spoken already about the Arab and the Moslem world. Let no one say that Europe alone was characterized by the spirit of power.
Within all societies without exception has there not been equally a split between a small number of rich people and a large number of poor people? Does this not include Buddhist society, which is said to be pacifistic and nonviolent? The domination of the rich is everywhere the same. It expresses everywhere the same spirit of violence and repression. Capitalism did not engender it. Everywhere it has been institutionalized, and particularly in Indian society, where the hierarchical caste system consecrates and solidifies this supremacy of the powerful. In the same way, we find slavery almost everywhere. I admit again that in a small “primitive” group there has not been any slavery, although sometimes this was only because they ate prisoners. In any case, a group of this kind is not of great significance for “humanity” at large, seeing that we find various forms of slavery, of the absolute exploitation of some people by others, in all historical societies. One might truly say that the desire to dominate, to crush, to use others, is a general on and admits of hardly any exceptions. One might refer to the Greek glorification of conquering Eros which enslaves and possesses for its own satisfaction. One might quote also the way in which conquerors called themselves the “scourge of God.” Truly the spirit of power lies deep in the human heart.
How truly intolerable, then, is a message, and even more so a life, that centers on weakness. Not sacrifice on behalf of a cause that one wants to bring to success, but in all truth love for nothing, faith for nothing, giving for nothing, service for nothing. Putting others above oneself. In all things seeking the interests of others. When dragged before the courts, not attempting any defense but leaving it to the Holy Spirit. The renunciation of power is infinitely broader and harder than nonviolence (which it includes). For nonviolence allows of a social theory, and in general it has an objective. The same is not true of nonpower (164-166).”

On Christian action - “Revealed truth spiritualizes all conditions and situations. By this fact it makes everything more radical, bringing it before a final court. Everything, and hence all political, social, economic, and philosophical questions, and all the means that we use – everything becomes more radical. At the same time, however, this radicalness demands that we leave what we claim to have, including political instruments and collective means. (Go, sell all that you have…not just real estate and jewels!) We can then begin to be and to act in a new way, to recognize another form of efficacy….Renounce everything in order to be everything. Trust in no human means, for God will provide (we cannot say where, when, or how). Have confidence in his Word and not in a rational program. Enter on a way on which you will gradually find answers but with no guaranteed substance. All this is difficult, much more so than recruiting guerillas, instigating terrorism, or stirring up the masses. And this is why the gospel is so intolerable, intolerable for myself as I speak, as I say all this to myself and others, intolerable for readers, who can only shrug their shoulders.
Grace is intolerable, the Father is unbearable, weakness is discouraging, freedom is unlivable, spiritualization is deceptive. This is our judgment, and humanly speaking it is well founded and inevitable. This is one of the first reasons for the rejection of the proclamation of God in Jesus Christ. And because we do not want to seem to reject it, perversion and subversion take place. All these judgments and actions are based on good sense, reason, experience, and science, that is, on our ordinary means of judgment, on what all people think and believe. But it is precisely here that we fall down. Jesus tells us plainly that if we simply do as the world does, we can expect no thanks, for we are doing nothing out of the ordinary. What we are summoned to do is something out of the ordinary. We are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. No less. All else is perversion (172-173).”

05 December 2008

04 December 2008

Great Steaks!

A few nights ago (while the progeny were all away for the evening) I acquired a couple of USDA Prime beef tenderloins (I had to go to a special store to find these) to enjoy with my bride.

It was misty and windy, and I didn’t want to cook outside. I decided to try Alton Brown’s technique (which I had seen on the Food Network).

We both enjoy a good flame-grilled steak, but these turned out as close to perfect as any I’ve ever cooked. Alton’s technique facilitates total control of temperature and doneness. Check out the video clip below…

Of course with great steaks, you really need a really big Zin!

03 December 2008

More on the Christian's Relationship with the State

I've been a regular "commenter" over at Spurgeon's Cigar for a while now, but I just made my first posting over there. You can check it out by clicking the link in the posting title above.

The Persecution of Plaxico Burress

What he says...

24 November 2008

The Zero Aggression Principle Part II - Put Down the Gun!

If you followed the link in my earlier posting on the Zero Aggression Principle, then you are now ready for part II. Click on the link in the posting title above...go ahead, click it...

Socialism 101

One of Dr. Williams' laudatory skills is his ability to take complex ideas and make them understandable - as the Militant Pacifist's progenitor would say, he can "put the cookies on the lower shelf."

To get a basic and incisive understanding of the perniciousness of socialism, read Dr. Williams' brief essay (linked in the posting title above).

20 November 2008

The Zero Aggression Principle

Click the link in the posting title above to enjoy an easy-to-read explanation of the Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP). The ZAP is the heart of Christian Anarchism and/or Christian Libertarianism.

10 November 2008

Safety is of the LORD

I had the privilege yesterday of hearing a sermon from an Iraqi Christian minister.

In response to a question about security in Iraq, the Christian opined (this is not a verbatim quote, just the best that I can recall), “you may think you are safe in the United States, but you may not be. I’ll be safe in Iraq because that’s where God wants me. When you are where God wants you, that’s where you are safe.”

What a timely reminder. “ …safety is of the LORD (Proverbs 21:31).”

04 November 2008

Take the pill...


What's all the hype about? Click on the chill pill...

01 October 2008

Another Letter (e-mail) Sent to My Senators

Dear Senator,

My wife and I both called to urge you to vote against the so called "bailout" bill. According to news media reports, you voted for it.

Since you are a republican, and a professed conservative, this has shocked and dismayed me since it seems to imply that you do not believe in maintaining a "free market" but rather are in favor of government intervention and meddling in the free market - which destroys the freedom of the market. I never expected such from you.

If you or some of your staff have the time, I would appreciate an explanation of what you were thinking when you voted for what conservatives perceive as rank "socialism," and the 5th plank in Karl Marx's steps towards communism.

Regards,

29 September 2008

Grand Theft Taxpayer

Mr. Peters gets a great analogy going in his little article. You can read it by clicking the link in the posting title above.

27 September 2008

Symphony of Destruction




The slow motion train wreck that has been going on in Washington D.C. this past week has made my stomach sick.  What are the powers doing to "our" country?  The soundtrack is – Symphony of Destruction (Megadeth).

26 September 2008

A Manmade Disaster

When discussing the problem of evil, philosophers of religion bifurcate evil into two types: natural evil and moral evil.

Natural evil, as the descriptor signifies, is that type of evil that seems to be, as a part of the natural (fallen) world, amoral. Horrible examples of natural evil abound, things like hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, cancer, and so on.

Moral evil, as the descriptor signifies, is that type of evil which (as opposed to natural evil) has a distinctively moral (or immoral) tinge. Horrendous examples of moral evil are things like, theft, rape, murder and torture.

The current “credit crisis” is not a natural evil. The current credit crisis is a moral evil perpetrated against all users of the US dollar.

The proposed solution – the so called “bailout” is another moral evil which will further injure the many while benefiting only a few.

Contrary to the pitiful assertions by Comrade Bush that the free market is “not working,” the Militant Pacifist asserts that the exact opposite is true. The free market is working perfectly. I hesitate to brand “ignorance” as a “lie” (I must remain charitable). The invisible hand of the free market is working just fine!

The free market has made a statement. It has said, I have evaluated the mortgage backed securities and derivative products offered for sale by several major investment banks and I have determined their value to be approximately $0. Hence, I, the free market, offer the princely sum of $0 in exchange for this worthless commercial crap paper.

The proposed “bailout” would come and “re-value” these worthless securities at $700B, or whatever the current number happens to be.

Comrades Paulson and Bernanke would purchase these securities, which the free market has said are worthless ($0) for $700B. The purpose of the purchase would be to “remove this toxic paper from the market.”

But look at what would really happen. Something that the free market values at $0 will be purchased (by force – NOT by an arms-length, free market transaction) for $700B.

In other words $0 worth of value will be removed from the economy, and $700B will be “injected” into the economy.

In a few short months, the money supply will be dramatically increased. The resulting inflation should be obvious. The dramatic increase in the number of dollars circulating in the economy makes each dollar worth less than it was before.

The shirt that used to cost $50, now costs $75. The shirt didn’t actually rise in value – the dollar that’s being used to purchase the shirt actually fell in value – the price of the shirt became “inflated.”

For anyone who has read my ramblings, it should be obvious that I’m a strong proponent of the Austrian School (of economic theory) – but the analysis above doesn’t require that you subscribe to Austrian Economics – it just requires some very basic economic reasoning.

Raising taxes to pay for the “bailout” is not feasible. What will happen is that Comrade Paulson will ask Comrade Bernanke to “authorize” the currency to fund the transaction. The resulting “fiat money” will be “legal tender” for all debts, public or private (i.e., the government will require it to be accepted as payment).

The resulting inflation will effectively tax anyone and everyone who uses the US dollar.

The debasement of a people’s currency is a moral evil which harms people indiscriminately.

Those who commit and support such moral evil are worthy of judgment, and unless they repent, they will certainly be judged.

Alaska paratrooper to get conscientious objector status, discharge

Thank you Holy Father. Thank you!

23 September 2008

The virtue of doing nothing

The recent whining from Comrades Paulson and Bernanke about the necessity of “acting urgently” to bail out irresponsible banks has reminded me of a position that I have come to embrace. I will explain it, and it is controversial, but I don’t think I can be talked out of it.

The position is that there can sometimes be great virtue in doing nothing.

Just because Paulson and Bernanke say something doesn’t really mean that anybody has to do anything.

You see, we could just stand by and “let it crater.” Just because a bunch of folks are screaming, “do something, do something, it’s gonna crater,” doesn’t mean that we have to do anything.

And, “it” might crater, or “it” might not.

But away with Paulson and Bernanke, they merely present a contemporary example of the person who says – “you must act.”

One of the things that I’ve come to realize is that often when someone tells me I have to “do something,” they’re wrong. When they tell me, “you have to decide,” or “you’ve got to choose,” it may not be so. It may be the informal fallacy called “false dilemma.” The fallacy taps into our natural bias for action, but it seems that our natural bias for action is often rooted in emotion rather than wisdom, or rational deliberation.

Now, not all options are good options. When I was a boy and my papa told me to do some certain thing – I had options. I could do what he told me, or I could suffer (my hind-end could suffer).

Christians (as did Christ), learn obedience by the things that they suffer (Hebrews 5:8). So, the idea of obeying God’s commands, or the idea of a child obeying his/her parents is really not what I’m talking about here.

What I’m talking about is most other cases.

In the rock band Rush’s philosophical anthem “Freewill,” Geddy Lee screams, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Though I understand his point, another perspective warrants consideration.

Not choosing is “not choosing.” It is refusing to make a choice. Not choosing is choosing to be passive rather than active. Not choosing is deciding to relinquish the prerogative of choice – with the understanding that something not chosen (something unchosen) may happen.

While such a prospect may be a cause of fear for some, I have come to believe that “not choosing” is often a viable and righteous posture for a Christian.

Imagine that a Christian comes under a violent attack. Many would say that s/he must decide immediately how to respond. This is usually taken to mean that s/he must decide whether to offer resistance (to fight), or to be non-resistant (and maybe to die).

But really…does such a choice have to be made. There seems to be no rational requirement that would force a choice in the moment.

The objector might quote Geddy Lee and say, “well, in such a case, not deciding is the same as deciding.” But such a response is certainly not informed by the Christian worldview. Christianity offers a third way.

In such a situation, might not indecision be the occasion to “stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD (2 Chronicles 20:17)?” In such a situation, might it not be virtuous to “do nothing?”

Contrast this with a naturalistic perspective which would suggest that declining to choose one course of action over another is relinquishing of the human will to power, and when one does such s/he deserves whatever happens to him/her.

Naturalism would suggest that due to the perpetual passage of time, not deciding on a certain course of action may result in something coming about which was not actively chosen – something “random.”

But if one rejects the idea of randomness, is this necessarily a bad thing?

Folks say things like, “you have to do this,” or “you have to do that,” but after many years I have come to realize that I really don’t. Just because someone says that I have to “take action” doesn’t mean that I really do (have to take action).

If the truth be told, all that I have to decide in this moment is - do I take my next breath – or do I pass out.

Realizing this – that I don’t really have to do what it is that someone else says (assuming I’m willing to accept the consequences of inaction) - can be extremely “freeing.”

As I mentioned above, when Comrades Paulson and Bernanke whine about the necessity for quick action to bail out irresponsible banks – that doesn’t really mean that anybody has to do anything. This is not to say that there might be consequences from inaction.

I think I can almost hear the rugged American objection from the “man of action.” “We MUST do something,” he says. But, just because there is an objection, just because you are rugged, or just because you are an individualist, or just because you are an American doesn’t mean you have to do anything

Λόγος can rule Πάθος.

The American business magnate Martha Stewart spent five months in an American gulag because she thought she had to “take action.” Mrs. Stewart was found guilty of “making false statements to federal investigators.” In other words, because she acted (and surely she must have felt that she “had” to act), she ended up being persecuted (i.e., prosecuted).

I’ll bet if she had it to do over again, she wouldn’t say a word to a “federal investigator.” Much better to have a “federal investigator” think you a dumb (speechless) idiot, than to give him the very ammunition he will use against you. Martha’s best course of action would have been to “do nothing.”

Surely, it requires wisdom to know when it is best to “do nothing,” but we often don’t even entertain the idea of “doing nothing.” Maybe we’ve forgotten that it’s an option.

The Militant Pacifist advocates “doing nothing” (i.e., not taking action) only when “doing nothing” has been chosen. This may not require active “choice,” but certainly it requires thought.

Theologians bifurcate sins into, “sins of omission,” and “sins of commission.” To really see “doing nothing” as a live option, a Christian must have thought through the possibility that sometimes – to do nothing would be sinful.

Realizing this highlights the truth that it requires wisdom and discernment to decide to act, or to do nothing.

Next time the pressure is on you to take action, realize that you may just be suffering from your own bias to action, and consider that there is at least a possibility that “doing nothing” might be virtuous.

Take a chill pill, and consider.



22 September 2008

Text of Draft Proposal for Bailout Plan

You can check this out by clicking the link in the posting title above. Of special interest is section 8 regarding review. Section 8 states:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Wow! That sure sounds imperial. No review of your actions. What would that make you? A god?

Your highness(es) Bernanke and Paulson...

Letter to my Congressman and Senators

Following is the letter (e-mail) I sent to my senators and congressman.
_______________________________________________________________________

Dear __________,

I'm writing to encourage you to oppose the federal "bail out" of several irresponsible investment houses, banks and insurance companies.

It is shocking to me that I'm writing you because the proposed intervention sounds more like something that would happen in the former Soviet Union than in the American republic.

Please oppose this governmental power grab which would interfere with our precious free enterprise system.

Americans have seen the failure of authoritarian centralized decision-making and control in the former Soviet Union, and we want none of that over here.

Thank you,

19 September 2008

King George Demonstrates his Dementia

Strange days indeed...most peculiar mama!

What strange days, what very, very strange days.

King George has lost it, and he's burning the city - pretty music though - Bernanke's on fiddle.

You can read about it by clicking the link in the posting title above.

The king says, "Our system of free enterprise rests on the conviction that the federal government should interfere in the marketplace only when necessary. Given the precarious state of today's financial markets and their vital importance to the daily lives of the American people, government intervention is not only warranted, it is essential."

Well, there you have it. The king says it's necessary. Oh well. The illusion was nice while it lasted. It's not quite the way they told me it was supposed to work back in high school, but I'm sure the king knows what's best.

I sure am glad I serve a real King. If I didn't, it might be distressing to see these barbarians torching the city.

People Lead (Ben Harper)

15 September 2008

B.A.T. (Base Attitude Theory)

The Militant Pacifist thinks that he might have coined a new phrase (maybe not).

The phrase is “base attitude theory,” and the idea came to me [The Militant Pacifist] as I pondered the variety of basic attitudes that people hold towards their governments.

Yesterday, I heard a Chinese Christian describe the current situation for Christians in the People’s Republic of China. He presented a modern history of Christianity in China – a history including rampant suppression and persecution by the Communist government.

During a follow-on discussion, an American Christian interviewer asked the Chinese Christian “do you trust your government?” The Chinese Christian immediately responded, “No!”

The American interviewer followed-up this question with, “well, do you think I should trust my government?” The Chinese Christian seemed perplexed by the question, but after a moment of thought he responded affirmatively, citing the many liberties that American citizens enjoy as ample reason why the American interviewer should trust his government.

I cite the incident above as an example of B.A.T. (base attitude theory). My theory is that the Chinese Christian’s base attitude towards his country’s government was one of distrust (even fear) because of the life experiences that he or others have had with his government. These experiences have shaped his attitude so that his base response to his government is fear and distrust. If you have read anything about Chinese communism’s treatment of Christians – you will appreciate that his base attitude is justified.

Most Americans I encounter have a much more favorable attitude towards their government than does the Chinese Christian. Maybe their more favorable attitude is justified, or maybe they have been more “slickly propagandized” and less intimidated than the Chinese Christian. In any case, it seems that most Americans feel more threatened by Iraqis and Iranians than they do by their own government.

I have never had an “unpleasant” experience with either an Iraqi or an Iranian – but most experiences I have had with my government have been unpleasant [granted, I have never discharged a firearm in the direction of an Iraqi or an Iranian].

I’m trying to live a righteous life, but every time I see a letter in my mailbox with “IRS” on the envelope – my mouth gets dry and my pulse increases. When I see my local militarized police, with their Marine Corps haircuts, “terminator” sunglasses, and combat boots, my stomach jumps and I think, “am I doing anything wrong?”

My base attitude towards my government is distrust, fear and ambivalence. It is the Militant Pacifist’s opinion that this attitude would have been advised, encouraged and commended by the great scientists who started the American political experiment (men like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin).

Christians are not to be rebellious (1 Samuel 15:23). They are even commanded to be subject to certain powers (Romans 13:1-7).

Lest this ramble seem uncharitable (or un-Christian) - the Militant Pacifist often has to remind himself that God commands prayer for government officials - specifically, prayer that they (government officials, principalities and powers) will leave us alone (1 Timothy 2:1-2); And he does ([I do] pray for them).

Sometimes, this seems difficult for me. I doubt it is difficult at all for a Chinese Christian.

But True!


09 September 2008

Thrownness and Faith

Ever since reading Martin Heidegger’s Poetry, Language, Thought in 2003 (required reading for a Critical Theory class), the intersection of psychology and philosophy has remained particularly fascinating to The Militant Pacifist.

One of the Heideggerian concepts that I return to over and over is the idea of thrown-ness (or thrownness). You can research the definition yourself (Heidegger is very difficult to read and understand, and I'm told that he is just as difficult to understand in Deutsch), but my recollection of Heideggerian thrownness comprehends the idea of being “thrown” into existence, or “thrown” into the world (more specifically being thrown into being in the world).

It’s like this. Wherever we are, at this very moment in our lives, with no exceptions, is where we have been thrown. For Heidegger, it is really not necessary to figure out who threw us, or why we have been thrown, or towards what or where we are being thrown. Most of us (if we think) spend an inordinate amount of intellectual energy on those distractions. The key to thrownness is not really about that; it is that we have been thrown, and that we can attend to (focus on) our thrownness. We can be conscious of it and contemplate it.

Think of it like this (this is the way I think of it). On a certain day in the 1960’s, I enter the realm of the born; I am “thrown” into existence. Because of a series of historico-political events, with which I had nothing to do, I enter the realm of the born in a certain socio-political entity (a nation-state) that calls itself the United States of America.

Stop here for a minute.

Does any of this seem right so far? It does to me. Does it seem to make the idea of “free will” in any ultimate sense – an archaic idea? I mean, if you are “thrown” into existence in a place that you certainly did not choose – and your parents send you to a school that you certainly did not choose – and things happen to you frequently over which you (seemingly) exercise no control – does this not make the idea of free will loose its desirability as a topic for extended discussion.

It certainly does to me. Currently, I consider myself a compatibilist (but then, maybe I haven’t understood all the arguments).

With the idea of thrownness in mind, one of the great things about being a Christian, and stopping to think now and then, is understanding (by the understanding of faith, Hebrews 11:3) that I know my “thrower” and He is good.

Though I’m thrown, I’m not randomly falling (though it may feel like it). My trajectory has been planned and is currently being executed with extreme precision – in fact, at this very moment – I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

And so, as funny as it sounds, to some degree – I become comfortable with the feeling of falling.

What sheer terror it must be, not to know the thrower.

07 September 2008

Pirates and Emperors

I've added this to the "Links" sidebar, but if you haven't seen it, click on the link in the posting title above.

Satire, and "reductio ad absurdum" argumentation are some of the best ways to "attack" statists (those who subscribe to the idea of the "necessity of a state").

Bad ideas are never ending - but what is amazing is that so many refuse to reject bad ideas.

05 September 2008

Patience - the Key to Obedience

"The key to the obedience of God’s people is not their effectiveness but their patience. The triumph of the right is assured not by the might that comes to the aid of the right, which is of course the justification of the use of violence and the other kinds of power in every human conflict; the triumph of the right, although it is assured, is sure because of the power of the resurrection and not because of any calculation of causes and effects, nor because of the inherently greater strength of the good guys. The relationship between the obedience of God’s people and the triumph of God’s cause is not a relationship of cause and effect but one of cross and resurrection." The Politics of Jesus, John Howard Yoder

03 September 2008

What Belongs to Caesar?

You can read a very interesting book review/critique by clicking the link in the posting title above.

01 September 2008

Labor of Love

Labor day (in the USA) is a national holiday which is "a day off for the worker," and symbolically, the end of summer. It is also a great time to share some love (barbeque) with friends.

You definitely need some:


As you can see, the Militant Pacifist makes his own!

After "dry basting" the pork spareribs over night, in they go:

Yep, those are some jalapenos. Since I'm making smoke, I might as well make chipotle! Then, 4 or 5 hours of this...
Finally...

It's best to be a "spiritual" Israelite, cause pig is GOOD!

14 August 2008

John W. Robbins - RIP

John William Robbins (1948-2008) died at his home in Unicoi County, Tennessee on Thursday, August, 14. He was 59.

I didn't know Dr. Robbins, but I listened to all of his lectures that I could download for free from the Trinity Foundation and I benefitted greatly.

I read most of the works of Gordon H. Clark (many published, or re-published by the Trinity Foundation - Dr. Robbins was the director) and profited greatly.

I e-mailed Dr. Robbins with my questions, and he graciously responded - encouraging my studies with recommended readings, etc.

The Christian's hope is in his Lord (Jesus Christ), and I believe that Christ was Dr. Robbins' hope. May God comfort his family in their hour of loss.

Grace & Peace.

The Militant Pacifist

Nonviolence in the Ancient Church and Christian Obedience

There's an interesting article by Kirk MacGregor in the first digital edition of Themelios entitled "Nonviolence in the Ancient Church and Christian obedience." 

You can access the PDF by clicking on the link in the posting title above.  The article is on pages 16-28.

In the article he reviews some of the ante-Nicene Fathers and their positions - which are taken as representative of the early Christian (pre-Constantine) view.

Some interesting observations are:  until 174 AD, no Christians served in the military or assumed government office; from 174 to the Edict of Milan (313), the church treated Christians in such roles, or who had left such roles, with "great suspicion"; and the position of the church in this period was derived from a theory of nonviolence based on the preaching of Jesus (imagine that)!

Interesting reading...

08 August 2008

So you think this man is a Christian?



Thanks to the folks "EverVigilant.net" for this link.

You can visit "EverVigilant.net" by clicking the link in the posting title above.

06 August 2008

The Military Lies

You can see (one of the ways) how by clicking on the link in the posting title above.

04 August 2008

Slip-Sliding Away

What I like about Charley is - he tells it like it is! To see what I'm talking about, click the link in the posting title above.

01 August 2008

Some Facts of Power – and a Question

If you haven't yet appreciated the enormous evil of the principalities and powers that hold sway over the institution known as "the state" - you may be troubled by the information in the article linked in the posting title above.

Sometimes...it's good to be troubled!

18 July 2008

Christians and Guns

The Militant Pacifist is a strong proponent of individual persons possessing as much "defensive technology" (you can read that however you want to) as they desire. The Militant Pacifist is also definitively Christian. Therefore, it was not without (a little) grief that I read John Piper's deficient explanation of why he (personally) doesn't own "defensive technology," and why he advises others not to.

You can read his reasoning here:




The Militant Pacifist contemplated drafting a response to the faulty reasoning, but refrained because it has been adequately addressed here:




17 July 2008

The War the Government Cannot Win

Wow! Yeah, that's right.

Click on the link in the posting title above...go ahead...click it...click it...and read...Tolle Lege!

04 July 2008

July 4th In Bizarro World

Enjoy the barbeque, enjoy the fireworks, then read about July 4th in bizarro world by clicking on the link in the posting title above...

02 July 2008

Irony of ironies

Irony of ironies...Americans using techniques learned from commies!

"Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?" Romans 2:1-3

"O LORD...in wrath, remember mercy" Habakkuk 3:2

30 June 2008

Pro Libertate: The Heller Misdirection

Yes, yes, yes! To see what all the affirmatives are about, click on the link in the posting title above.

26 June 2008

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ET AL. v. HELLER

Well, some of the principalities and powers (at least 5 of them) decided to "allow" us to keep our firearms a little longer. You can read the ruling by clicking on the link in the posting title above. To the other 4,...ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ!

23 June 2008

Reflections on the Origin and the Stability of the State

Your participation is NOT voluntary!

Dr. Hoppe is always an enjoyable read. If you enjoy the article linked above, check out the lecture "A World Without Theft" at:

http://www.mises.org/MultiMedia/mp3/misescircle2006b/Hoppe.mp3

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Aldous Huxley

19 June 2008

Haditha Marine prepares to sue Murtha over smear

Click on the link in the posting title above to read the article. According to the news report, Lt. Col. Chessani is “a devout Christian and the father of six homeschooled children.”

The Militant Pacifist wishes him the best, but this characterization begs the question – what was he doing in Haditha?

There was a prophet (John, the baptizer) of whom God (Jesus Christ) said “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11).” Apparently, the Lord Jesus Christ had a very high regard for John.

One day some soldiers came to John and asked him, “what shall we do? (Luke 13:14).”

John’s answer is instructive. He answers them, “do violence to no man.”

Violence is the soldier’s business, so what he (John) is really saying to them is “find another job.”

Major Premise: Christians should not be violent
Minor Premise: The ultimate job of a soldier is to do violence
Conclusion: A Christian should not be a soldier

This was the consensus of the Church fathers, and the practice of Christians until the Constantinian creation of “Christendom” (for more on this, read The Reformers and their Stepchildren, by Leonard Verduin).

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7

16 June 2008

Politics Is a Game

Bravo Charley!

You can read Charley Reese's latest musing by clicking the link in the posting title above.

11 June 2008

Tolstoy's Majority

The Militant Pacifist enjoys "encouraging words." You can read some by clicking on the link in the posting title above.

RESIST TYRANNY!

26 May 2008

Christian “Mind Games”

The 24-hour news cycle generates stress and distress for the Militant Pacifist.

Maybe one way to reduce the stress and distress would be to avoid the news – but the Militant Pacifist thinks there is an even better way:

Mind-games; Thought control. 
If you’re interested, read on!

When David returned to Ziklag after being forbidden to go on a raid with Achish, he found his wives and children missing, and his house on fire. His companions became so irate that they spoke of stoning him. In the midst of this distress – the scriptures teach that David “encouraged himself in the LORD his God (1 Samuel 30:6).

Though David was so downcast that he couldn’t encourage others – he had enough presence of mind (or divine grace) that he was able to encourage himself in the LORD.

Though some might consider the advocacy of self-talk and divine contemplation as measures to combat distress or depression as advocating “mind-games,” the practice has a venerable history in Christian piety.

As noted above, David practices the technique in 1st Samuel 30, (other great examples are in Psalms 42, 43 and 73) and it was David who wrote in Psalm 37:4 “Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

In the New Testament, we find the great Apostle Paul advocating Christian thought control - “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8),” and even encouraging active manipulation/direction of the human affections. Writing to the Colossians, he says – “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2).”

Let’s play mind games!

15 May 2008

Sermons We See

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear;
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.

I soon can learn to do it if you’ll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do;
For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.

When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind.
When a weaker brother stumbles and a strong man stays behind
Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me
To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be.
And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today
Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.

One good man teaches many, men believe what they behold;
One deed of kindness noticed is worth forty that are told.
Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear,
For right living speaks a language which to every one is clear.
Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say,
I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one, any day.

- Edgar Albert Guest (1881 – 1959)

12 May 2008

Even the sins of the saints...

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Romans 8:28

From Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662

All the afflictions, and
all the temptations, and
all the desertions, and
all the oppressions, and
all the oppositions, and
all the persecutions—
which befall a godly man,
shall work for his good.

Every cross, and
every loss, and
every disease—
which befall the holy man,
shall work for his good.

Every device,
every snare,
every deceit,
every depth,
every stratagem,
and every enterprise of Satan against
the holy man, shall work for his good.

They shall all help to make him . . .
more humble,
more holy,
more heavenly,
more spiritual,
more faithful,
more fruitful,
more watchful.

Every prosperity and every adversity;
every storm and every calm;
every bitter and every sweet;
every cross and every comfort—
shall work for the holy man's good.

When God gives a mercy—
that shall work for his good.
When God takes away a mercy—
that shall work for his good.

Yes, even all the falls and all the sins of
the saints shall work for their good. Oh . . .
the care,
the fear,
the watchfulness,
the tenderness,
the zeal—
which God raises in the souls of His saints by their
very falls! Oh the hatred, the indignation, and the
detestation—which God raises in the hearts of His
children against sin—by their very falling into sin!

Oh what love to Christ,
what thankfulness for Christ,
what admiration of Christ,
what cleaving to Christ,
what exalting of Christ,
what drawings from Christ's grace—
are saints led to, by their very falls!

It is the glory of God's holiness, that . . .
He can turn spiritual diseases—into holy remedies!
He can turn soul poisons—into heavenly cordials!
He can prevent sin by sin, and cure falling by falling!

O Christian! What though friends and relations frown upon you,
what though enemies are plotting and conspiring against you,
what though needs, like armed men, are breaking in upon you,
what though men rage, and devils roar against you,
what though sickness is devastating your family,
what though death stands every day at your elbow—
yet there is no reason for you to fear nor faint, because
all these things shall work for your good! Yes, there is
wonderful cause of joy and rejoicing in all the afflictions
and tribulations which come upon you—considering that
they shall all work for your good.

O Christians! I am afraid, I am afraid—that you do not
run so often as you should—to the breasts of this promise,
nor draw that sweetness and comfort from it, that it would
yield, and that your several cases may require. "We know
that all things work together for good, to those who love
God, to those who are called according to His purpose." I
have been the longer upon this verse, because the condition
of God's people calls for the strongest cordials, and the
choicest and the sweetest comforts.

08 May 2008

This Is A Man

Oh Lord, "Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man." Psalm 108:12

04 May 2008

From the mouths of babes...

Click on the link in the posting title above to get your heart warmed...

18 April 2008

A Handout for Statists

Rationality is underrated! You can read the handout by clicking the link in the posting title above.

17 April 2008

Why Limited Representative Government Fails

Yeah...! You can view the essay by clicking the link in the posting title above.

24 March 2008

Reflections on Resurrection Sunday: We're Commanded To Be Free

Interesting analysis...

you can read it by clicking on the link in the posting title above.

27 January 2008

"Real World" Christianity

The Militant Pacifist is currently reading The Divine Conspiracy:  Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God by Dallas Willard (Christian, Baptist, Scholar and currently Professor of Philosophy at USC).  At present, the Militant Pacifist is only about 100 pages into this 400-page book and is finding it slow going due to his having to underline almost everything.  To get a feel for the incisive nature of this work, enjoy the convicting quotation below:

     “In any context in which people are supposed to be smart and informed, even the most thoughtful and devout Christian will find it hard to make a convincing presentation of the relevance of God and his spiritual world to “real life.” 

     The “real” world has little room for a God of sparrows and children.  To it, Jesus can only seem “otherworldly” – a good-hearted person out of touch with reality.  Yes, it must be admitted that he is influential, but only because he affirms what weak-minded and fainthearted individuals fantasize in the face of a brutal world.  He is like a cheerleader who continues to shout, “We are going to win,” though the score is 98 to 3 against us in the last minute of the game.

     When this cheerleading approach to the “real world” triumphs among those who profess Christ, they may then have faith in faith but will have little faith in God.  For God and his world are just not “real” to them.  They may believe in believing but not be able to rely on God – like many in our current culture who love love but in practice are unable to love real people.  They may believe in prayer, think it is quite a good thing, but be unable to pray believing and so will rarely, if ever, pray at all.”

Willard, Dallas.  The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God.  San Francisco.  Harper Collins, 1997.  p 91.

25 January 2008

Amerika the Beautiful...what happened to you?

This is old news, but every time the Militant Pacifist thinks about it, he has a hard time believing it...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-taU9d26wT4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgPR9I4KMNI

23 January 2008

Modern Political Science Is a Farce

The inability (or unwillingness) of the modern discipline of "political science" to answer even the most basic moral questions has propelled many thinkers towards "philosophical anarchism*" (the reasoned position that it is not the excesses of "the state" which is the fundamental problem, rather it is the state's very existence).

To those infected with the sickening disease of "nationalism," the very idea that their beloved "state" is illegitimate may be disturbing - but may we agree that truth is always better than lies?

To read a concise analysis of (just) one question which modern political thinkers reliably refuse to engage, click on the link in the posting title above.

THINK…the Militant Pacifist recommends it!


*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_anarchism

22 January 2008

I / Me / Myself

All of us have "pet peeves," and one that really bugs the Militant Pacifist is the misuse of the reflexive pronoun "myself."

Probably the reason it bugs me so much is that by and large when I hear someone use "myself" in a non-reflexive way, they are using it ("myself") because they think it is correct. Probably they had a writing instructor at some time warn them against overusing the personal pronoun "me," and probably they think that "myself" sounds intelligent.

Here's a hint. It doesn't sound intelligent. If you want to use the word (and it is a good word) you should learn how to use it so you won't sound unintelligent.

You can read a brief explanation of the proper use of "myself" by the author of Common Errors in English Usage by clicking the link in the posting title above. If you are interested in the book, you can buy it at:

http://www.amazon.com/Common-Errors-English-Usage-Brians/dp/1887902899/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201052561&sr=8-1

15 January 2008

On Dissolving the United States of America

I don't know how anyone would get this done...but in light of the current situation...maybe there's a way...

You can read the essay by clicking on the link in the posting title above.