Thursday, November 13, 2008

Christian Carnival CCL (250)

It is an honor to once more be hosting the Christian Carnival - especially such an important number like 250. This is very close to the 5th anniversary post, and it is such a nice round number.

Certainly, as many who have watched my blog know, I am pretty inactive as a blogger right now. Indeed, this carnival may (or may not) be the last I host - and my time constraints are apparent in its lateness (for which I apologize). Also, I have had to withdraw from the team that manages the Carnival because of those time constraints.

Which is the point of the introduction here. The Christian Carnival always needs help:

  • It needs posts
  • It needs hosts
  • It needs folks to do the work behind the scenes
  • It needs to be promoted
As with any ministry (and this is both a ministry and a mission), there are never enough folks to actually do the work. If you appreciate the Carnival on a weekly level, then there are many small things that you can help in. Contact Jeremy Pierce if you want to know what they are.

The posts are in the order in which they were received; and it is another great batch of submissions:

  • Tiffany Partin presents "God Is Still On The Throne!" posted at Fathom Deep: Sounding the Depths of God.
    Am I bummed about the results of the election yesterday? You betcha! Am I sad that our country elected someone who supports the murder of our unborn children? No doubt about it! Am I crying in my coffee and chewing my fingernails to the quick over it this morning? Never!

    You may say, "WHAT?"
  • Erica presents "A Call to Prayer" posted at Erica's Bible Study and Journal.
    Many of us who call on the name of God spent time praying about this election. I would like to encourage you to continue to pray for this nation and its government and let it become a part of your regular life.
  • FMF presents "How You Handle a Little is How You'll Handle a Lot" posted at Free Money Finance.
    Whoever can be trusted with little can also be trusted with much.
  • Martin presents "Theism implies Open theism" posted at Enigmania.
    . . . this post may seem a bit philosophical, but its a simple enough thought-experiment about how the God of the philosophers ought actually to be closer to the God of Abraham et al. On the other hand, Open theism is regarded by many as heretical (either way, the post could probably use some criticism :)
  • Jeff presents "Word of Faith Healing Promises" posted at
    Another entire category of defective doctrines stemming from the Word of Faith movement are those doctrines concerning the guarantee of physical health.
  • Good Thing presents "A Million Good Things" posted at A Million Good Things.
    Editor: There is no particular indication that this is a Christian site, or author - but it seems like a worthy project; and a great future resource for Christians who are taught to focus on God's blessings - but, like all humans, may lose track of those "good things" in the midst of real life
  • ChristianPF presents "5 Bible verses about money every Christian should know" posted at Money in the Bible Christian Personal Finance Blog.

  • Drew Tatusko presents "Hell is Not Populated, but its Existence is Among Us" posted at Notes From Off Center.
    Hell exists and has its effects felt on earth now just as with the Kingdom of God (also a vivid image of Jesus - a future fulfillment of the Kingdom of God with present effects). However, it will not be “populated” until the general resurrection which again Jesus describes vividly.
  • Trent Cotton presents "Leading through Turbulence- Moses" posted at Christian Business Consulting.
    With all of the news about the layoffs, the market crashing, international woes, or even just the fact that your car didn’t start today, it’s good to know that God gave us leaders to look to.
  • Annette presents "prayer that makes sense to a little boy" posted at Fish and Cans.
    Prayers are answered for a toddler. :)
  • Weekend Fisher presents "The Triumph of God over Chaos" posted at Heart, Mind, Soul, and Strength.
    Have you ever gotten your days and nights switched so that you were sleeping and waking out of your habit and pattern? At times like that I often feel tired, and even when fully awake and energetic, I tend to be unhappy that I am fully awake at such an odd hour, knowing that it will only perpetuate another day out of rhythm.
  • The Bible Archive's Rey takes a break from heresy by having Guest Blogger Scott from Prodigal Thought post some very orthodox thoughts on the local church in "Church 102: A Further Step Forward".
    Now that we have somewhat established a foundation from which we can work with, it would probably be best to move on to more practical matters. If church is truly about the people of Christ, obviously committed to God’s heart and kingdom purposes, then we have to ask what that means for our everyday lives, right?
  • ChrisB presents "Mercy vs Sacrifice" posted at Homeward Bound.
    Hosea told us God desires "mercy not sacrifice." Does that mean God didn't require a sacrifice to forgive us of our sins?
  • Henry Neufeld presents "On Being Christian and Killing People" posted at Threads from Henry's Web.
    Some rambling reflections on being a Christian veteran on veteran's day.
  • Jody Neufeld presents "Why Do Some Marriages Survive and Others Perish?" posted at Jody Along the Path.
    There seems to be one key factor in keeping a marriage together.
  • Diane R presents "The Progressives" posted at Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet.
    The term Progressives is being used today both in politics and in Christianity. What exactly does it mean?
  • Wickle presents The annual war on the "War on Christmas" posted at A True Believer's Blog.
    Wickle hopes that this year we might spare the country The annual war on the "War on Christmas" and instead act with peace and charity.
  • Jeremy Pierce presents Divine Supererogation posted at Parableman.
    Are there things God does that he has no obligation to do? Does God always do the best possible thing to do? Surprisingly, commonsense answers to those questions might lead you to opposite views.

  • One nice thing - other than these great posts - about the Christian Carnival is that there is always one forming: send your submissions to blog carnival for the next Carnival.


    Read more!

    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    What Kind of Conservative Are I?

    Rick Moran at Right Wing Nut House has listed some points that he believes do, and do not, define being a political conservative. It seems like a worthy task:

    • the Bush Administration has been anything except my version of conservative

    • the Obama presidency is going to be anything but conservative

    • a lot of folks who say they are conservative are anything but conservative.
    All of that is, of course, purely subjective on my part -- so I, like Rick, need to be clear on my definition of conservative. Rick is a political conservative, and an atheist; and I am a political conservative and a theologically conservative Christian. So, let us start with a division there: while my religious beliefs do inform my political beliefs, these are entirely separate categories. I know political conservatives who are either unreligious, or very liberal in a theological sense. I know theologically conservative folk who are liberal politically. I like a lot of what I see of Rick's political ideology - and of course think his theology is absolutely wrong. So, we really have to be careful about drawing too many conclusions about someone's political ideology from their theology; and vice versa.

    Another problem with being a political conservative is the company I keep. Moran nails it:
    For it appears to me from my vantage point that we are entering a period where someone’s conservative bona fides will not depend on what he believes as an intellectual frame of reference that informs his stand on issues as much as how much he agrees with Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, or Ann Coulter . . .

    . . . there lies a whole slew of litmus tests where many of these conservabots will brook no opposition, no nuance, no independent thinking whatsoever.

    A partial listing:

  • If you are pro-choice to one degree or another, you are not a conservative.

  • If you are pro-choice to one degree or another, you are not a conservative.

  • If you criticize the war or the military, you are not a conservative and unpatriotic to boot.

  • If you say anything nice about a liberal anytime, anywhere – if you agree with a liberal on anything or praise a liberal past, present, or future – you are not a conservative.

  • If you don’t agree that torturing the enemy is necessary and/or good, you are not a conservative.

  • If you say anything nice about any media besides conservative mags, talk radio and Fox News, you are not a conservative.

  • If you believe in evolution, you are not a conservative and are probably going to hell.

  • If you believe that there is a possibility of man made global warming based on scientific evidence collected so far, you are not a conservative and should probably be committed.

  • If you believe that Barack Obama is just a stupid liberal and not a clone of Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler, and Osama Bin Laden all rolled into one, you are not a conservative.

  • If you believe that Democrats don’t have horns, a tail, and a pitchfork, you are not a conservative.

  • And most of all, unless you believe Sarah Palin is the second coming of Ronald Reagan, the bees knees, the cat’s meow, the apple of our eye, and the greatest thing to hit the conservative movement and the Republican party since Robert Taft first uttered the immortal words “US out of the UN” – you are not a conservative.
  • The problem with all those issues (and most of the things that "progressives" use to define being "progressive") is that none of them have anything to do with a theory of government or governance - nor any other historic definition of conservatism. They are all superficial and non-ideological guages. To put it into theological terms, they are all about behaving and appearing righteous, without any discussion of the reasons for the behavior or who the behavior serves: there is nothing about the heart or really even about the head. All of that was about partisanship and not political theory.

    Yet another problem with being a conservative (or a progressive really) is that there is little source of good discussion about political theory as opposed to issue-oriented partisanship. If the coming election of Barack Obama - and a whole slew of liberals to Congress - is really going to mean that political conservatives really start to discuss what it means to call yourself a conservative then that is great. That may happen after all the blame gets tossed around. More likely we will have at least 4 years of folks opposing everything their opponent supports, even if that opposition has no coherant political or philosophical framework informing it. That is pretty much what we have seen from the left for the last period of time. They are fortunate that the Bush administration was fairly incompetant - they are not winning this election because they have put forward a coherant vision. They are winning because they oppose President Bush and he is not loved.

    How do I relate to Rick Moran's principles for his conservatism?

  • I believe first and foremost in American exceptionalism - the idea that we are a different country and people from any other nation on earth.

  • Of course the United States is exceptional on an historical level; and in the world today. Does this mean better - especially in some form invoking superiority or the right to expect other nations to attempt to duplicate what we are? No. It does mean, to me, that "to whom much is given much is expected". Also, this is where my theological conservativeness raises up. J. Budziszewski:
    The mistake in all these stages is confusing America with Zion. She is not the inheritor of the covenant, not the receiver of the promises, not the witness to the nations. It may well be that all nations have callings of sorts — specific purposes which God in His providence assigns them. But no nation can presume to take God under its wing. However we may love her, dote upon her, and regret her, the Lord our God can do without the United States.
    I am first, and foremost, a member of the Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God - and, frankly, this is where the famed split on the right between the social conservatives (read "fundamentalist" Christians) and the political conservatives may be based. Political ideology, and especially partisanship, do not trump theology.

  • I believe the free market economic system is the fairest, the most productive, and the greatest engine for human liberty ever conceived.

  • I believe that American defenses must be second to none – conventional and strategic.

  • I believe in a robust, forward thinking, “America first” foreign policy.
  • What does this last mean? The use of "America First" as the cover slogan for the pro-Nazi Americans who wished to keep the US out of WWII makes this an unfortunate phrase at best. That aside, what does a foreign policy that puts the United States first mean? What kind of foreign policy has the US ever had that didn't put us first? Is the key phrase here "forward thinking"? Now, foreign policy that is forward thinking would be new.

  • I believe in a strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution and that a president should appoint judges to the federal courts who reflect that view.

  • This would be the first (maybe second) real ideological point I see Rick Moran making. I agree, and I like how one of the commentor's explained this:
    The term “strict constructionist” is probably liberal term invented in academia as a dysphemism to make proper interpretation of the Constitution seem like a bad thing.

    The Constitution says what it means and means what it says. It has an amendment process so we can add other things that we think it should say. Instead of just making up what we think it says, we should rule that it says what it says. The legislative branches all over the country have the right (and duty) to correct and amend it as needed.
    Exactly. It is the impatience -- and laziness -- of folks to do the political work necessary to "win the hearts and minds" of enough people to change the constitutions of the federal and state governments that make them go to the courts in order to get judges to legislate from the bench. This, as Jefferson warned, creates a judicial oligarchy and makes the constitution blank by construction.

  • I believe in the inviolable rights of private property as the guarantor of American liberty.

  • I believe in equality of opportunity for all Americans regardless of color, ethnic heritage, or national origin.

  • I believe America should strive to create the smallest government realistically possible, possessing the lightest touch imaginable on the individual citizen.

  • This is one of those things I agree with absolutely, and see very few folks giving an ideological depth to. Without a concept like subsidiarity informing this view, it is largely rhetoric:
    Since Aristotle two principles have been seen:
    1. connaturality: culture should develop in partnership with our design filling the outline our first nature provides; and

    2. diminishing spontaneity: as a hierarchy of associations and relationships rise from the individuals and families at the base of the social structure (up to and including government), the higher the rung the less spontaneous it is and the more contrived; or, the higher you go the less help the structure gets from nature and the more help it needs from culture.
    These two features imply the risk that though the higher rungs ought to protect and co-operate with the more spontaneous lower rungs - the higher rung's lesser spontaneity means they may not.

    This implies a rule, subsidiarity, which was a natural assumption but not put into words until 1931 by Pope Pius XI:
    "As history abundantly proves, it is true that on account of changed conditions many things which were done by small associations in former times cannot be done now save by large associations. Still, that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them." ("On Reconstruction of the Social Order")
    As Pius said, what brought this to the forefront was the industrial revolution, and the danger that between the collectivists on one side, and the individualists on the other, all the "little platoons" between the state and the individual would be destroyed and/or absorbed.
    Back to Moran's list:

  • I believe in a just and moral society with a as clear a sense of right and wrong as is consistent with reality.

  • I believe that all of these things should be taught in American schools and that an appreciation of these values and qualities should be encouraged.

  • Someone in the comments asked where exactly this list is published - which is, of course, a great question. I believe in natural moral law so I have some ideas on the matter; but Rick and I do not agree on the existence of God (and a natural set of moral principles arising from that) - which conservatives like Burke and Russell Kirk took as granted. From Kirk (the first of his six canons of conservative thought):
    Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems. A narrow rationality . . . cannot of itself satisfy human needs. . . . True politics is the art of apprehending and applying the Justice which ought to prevail in a community of souls.
    [Kirk later expanded these six canons into ten principles which are listed below]

  • And I believe we should have the freedom to say what we think, write what we want, worship however the hell we please, do anything, go anywhere, and enjoy life according to our own lights – as long as we do no harm to anyone’s person or property

  • Most liberals would agree with this - until we got to the definition of what constituted harm.

    Now, I criticized Moran for lack of ideology - as he has criticized current conservatives for a lack of a intellectual foundation for their views. Kirk, however, dismissed ideology for the conservative:
    Being neither a religion nor an ideology, the body of opinion termed conservatism possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata. So far as it is possible to determine what conservatives believe, the first principles of the conservative persuasion are derived from what leading conservative writers and public men have professed during the past two centuries. After some introductory remarks on this general theme, I will proceed to list ten such conservative principles.

    Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word “conservative” as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.

    The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata. It is almost true that a conservative may be defined as a person who thinks himself such. The conservative movement or body of opinion can accommodate a considerable diversity of views on a good many subjects, there being no Test Act or Thirty-Nine Articles of the conservative creed.

    In essence, the conservative person is simply one who finds the permanent things more pleasing than Chaos and Old Night. (Yet conservatives know, with Burke, that healthy “change is the means of our preservation.”) A people’s historic continuity of experience, says the conservative, offers a guide to policy far better than the abstract designs of coffee-house philosophers. But of course there is more to the conservative persuasion than this general attitude.
    To cap this piece, I will list Kirk's ten principles as well.
    1. believe that there exists an enduring moral order

    2. adhere to custom, convention, and continuity.

    3. believe in what may be called the principle of prescription.

    4. are guided by their principle of prudence.

    5. pay attention to the principle of variety.

    6. are chastened by their principle of imperfectability.

    7. are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.

    8. uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.

    9. perceive the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.

    10. understand that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.

    Read more!