Monday, December 28, 2009

Romans 8:12-14 --
"If by the Spirit"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

Read more!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

CHRISTmas as a Universal Impulse

A woman online who is a non-Christian Unitarian Universalist was peeved by a follower of Christ who:

  • had a history of complaining about non-Christians keeping "their hands off of CHRISTmas"
  • always spelled CHRISTmas like that (emphasizing Christ in Christmas)
She didn't have a problem with those two items at all until it got connected together with this on Christmas day:

Read more!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

And all through this house - we are having a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit (even the mouse). I have noticed a number of folks both in the blogosphere, and in real life, seem to be experiencing this.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christian Carnival CCCVII - "A Carnival of Praise"

Isaiah 9:6
For a child has been born to us,
a son has been given to us.
He shoulders responsibility
and is called:
Extraordinary Strategist,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.


* * * * *

Read more!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Vocation and Submission

One of those common misconceptions that I run into is expressed in this comment.

And here we differ because I cannot believe in a loving God who created me with a long size ten foot only so that he can break the arch and bind it into a child's size four.

That is no God of love. It is no deity I can fuel with worship any more than I would willingly feed someone who raped me.

At this moment, I am not sure what exactly what was being commented on. And, frankly, I am not sure its important - this post is about what it provoked in me and not about what it was meant to convey. So, lets look at a couple of things I have posted on in the past:

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Matthew 1:19-25:
Just Wow

Jared Wilson at The Gospel-Driven Church saw an amazing metaphor in this passage:

Matthew 1:19 Because Joseph, her husband to be, was a righteous man, and because he did not want to disgrace her, he intended to divorce her privately. 20 When he had contemplated this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 This all happened so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled: 23 “Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep he did what the angel of the Lord told him. He took his wife, 25 but did not have marital relations with her until she gave birth to a son, whom he named Jesus.

The post really isn't long enough to excerpt it - so I am going to post it whole:

Read more!

Culture wars:
For Our Names Sake

[Point ten of Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]

Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to hell because . . ."

10. The culture war is carried out for our name’s sake, not Jesus’. I am not a fan of gay marriage or Roe v. Wade, and even though I would vote to outlaw the former and repeal the latter, neither of those actions in themselves will make a single unbeliever say “How wonderful Christ is!”

The bitter truth is that the Christian culture war is not carried out for Jesus’ glory and renown, but for ours. It makes “Judeo-Christian values” the end-game, the treasure of our mission. And that is idolatry. Nobody was ever legally or argumentatively or even culturally convinced to believe in Jesus. But millions have been loved and served and submitted to into believing.

Dying for somebody says a whole lot more than debating them.

Read more!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

John Mark Reynold --
"An Odious Law: Uganda and Homosexuality"

John Mark Reynolds:

Uganda may pass a law that could lead to the death penalty for homosexual behavior.

The proposed law is odious.

Due to the legacy of colonialism, Western people should be sensitive about interfering in sub-Saharan African politics and modest in making moral pronouncements regarding Africa, but this law deserves universal condemnation. Uganda experienced many evils under colonialism, including the loss of basic liberties.

Experiencing evil does not give a free pass to do evil and this bill is wicked.

It is not a close call.

Read more!

Romans 8:9-11 --
"The Spirit of God Lives in You"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

Read more!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Culture wars:
Missionally Challenged

[Point nine of Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]

Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to hell because . . ."

9. It mangles mission. The culture war sets the Church above and against the world, rather than in but not of the world. It turns us into picketers and politicos. It makes us suspicious and speculative and sensationalist. It takes relationship completely out of the missional equation. It turns us from peaceful ambassadors for Christ into pontificating warriors for Christianity. It does not ask us to serve and sacrifice, which are non-negotiables for Christian mission, but to maneuver and argue.

Read more!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Culture wars:
Sign "The Manhattan Declaration"? Not Me.

At the moment I am writing this line 178,536 people have signed "The Manhattan Declaration" - A Call to Christian Conscience. It is probably clear from my series on the culture wars that I will not be a signer of the Declaration - but some comments are in order.

Their website front page reads:

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Culture wars:
What Jesus Did Not Do

[Point eight Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]

Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to hell because . . ."

8. It has no root in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus knew heart change didn’t come through political power, cultural pressure, or zealotry, so he was keenly disinterested in those things.

Read more!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Romans 8:5-8 --
"Opposite"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:
The text:

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Apologetics:
Epic Fail at the Pet Store

I was having a chat with someone who seemed to believe apology was only about Christian apologetics. It isn't, as the examples in this comment point out. The definition I would hang with in the set was from Wiki:

In modern times, apologists refers to authors, writers, editors of scientific logs or academic journals, and leaders known for defending the points in arguments, conflicts or positions that receive great popular scrutinies and/or are minority views.

Right after posting that, I ran across a skit from Monty Python that is one of my all-time favorites - along with the Lumberjack Song of course (and the Cheese Shop . . .). It is, IMO, an example of Epic Fail at apology by the shop owner.

Read more!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Culture wars:
Fear and Comfort

[Point seven Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]

Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to hell because . . ."

7. It makes idols of comfort and safety and propriety and power. The culture war is largely driven by fear. We’re afraid our public schools will ruin our children, we’re afraid gay people will ruin our families. We’re afraid a Democrat will ruin our country, we’re afraid liberals will ruin our neighborhoods. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to protect our family, and safety of course is not a bad thing. But neither is it a biblical virtue. Ditto comfort.

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Jesus is Magic?

I keep a lot of different folks on my Google Reader list from a lot of different perspectives - people that I think offer the most intelligent examples I have found for a particular niche I am interested in.

One of those sites is Common Sense Atheist. Occasionally, those places put things up that make me question why I keep them on my list. Luke just posted one of those: "Jesus is Magic".

Admittedly, up to now I haven't had a real sense of why belief in a Creator God and belief in magic are not the same; and Luke gave me the opportunity to get this defined for myself.

Read more!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Culture wars:
Storing Up the Wrong Stuff

[Point six Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]

Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to hell because . . ."

6. Its treasure is temporary. I am not overly concerned with the culture war because it is a battle for something that doesn’t last. Culture is temporary. I am far more interested in the transformation of peoples through the transformation of people than I am in the subduing of culture through the modification of behavior. Nobody ever got into heaven by acting better.

Read more!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Romans 8:3-4 --
"The Son and the Spirit"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

Read more!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Culture wars:
Fighting the Wrong Foe

[Point five of Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]

Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to hell because . . ."

5. It battles against flesh and blood. We’re not supposed to do that.

Read more!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Discussion Question:
On Science and Morality

It seems rare for two intelligent folks with diametrically opposed views actually have a civilized, engaging conversation. It seems to me it is even rarer when one is an atheist and one is a follower of Christ who wrote a pretty scathing indictment of Dawkins, Hitchens and company.

The atheist is Luke at Common Sense Atheist and he wrote a post called "The Irrational Atheist (notes in the margin, part 2)". Vox Day wrote The Irrational Atheist and has a blog called Vox Popoli.

I am following both of them in Google Reader. On the Vox Day side, The Irrational Atheist provided most, if not all, the basis for a couple of my posts. I also posted the beginnings of an exchange of letters between Luke and Vox.

However, what has gotten my attention this time is this set of comments by Luke. First, he quotes VD from the chapter "The Case Against Science":

Read more!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Culture wars:
How to Look Like a Hypocrite

[Point four of Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]

Jered Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to hell because . . ."

4. It is often hypocritical. It is the height of weirdness to expect people who don’t know Jesus to act like they do especially when we can’t get our own house in order. So long as large numbers of Christians continue contributing to the divorce statistics, the porn industry, and more acceptable sins like gluttony and gossip and greed, we have zero business telling the world how to act. Judgment begins at the house of God.
1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?

Read more!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Romans 7:21-8:2 --
"Rescued - And Free"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Evangelicalism, Politics, and the Gospel

[Crossposted from Street Prophets]

In the discussions that is going on about the Roman Catholic Church, and its change, I made a comment (I will get there in a minute). Starwoman responded with:

Thanks for this very clear and helpful comment about what the strategy is wrt Evangelicals, theology, and civil marriage laws.

I'd be interested in a diary from you on the theology behind Evangelical (and other Reformed, maybe) attitudes towards the relationship between church and state.

I can try to do that - but it may not work out.

Read more!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Culture wars:
Going Forth Naively

[Point three of Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]

Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' are going to hell because . . ."

3. It is theologically naive. It is the height of weirdness to expect people who don’t know Jesus to act like they do.

Read more!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

How We Discuss:
Probabilities and Bulverisms

Two things caught my eye this week related to the way discussions seem to go online:

The second one is first - Lewis's discovery of Bulverism:

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Culture wars:
Moralism is the Medium

[Point two of Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]
"
Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to Hell because . . ."

2. Its medium is moralism, not gospel. It makes kingdom militancy about religion, not gospel. It seeks a Christian coercion of others toward better behavior, not an incarnational sharing with others of the better Way.

Read more!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Romans 7:7-25 --
"The Real Problem With Me"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

Read more!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Church Life:
A Focus on Direction

It seems to go along with my other post today on "Foolish Expectations" -- how does a church define and set expectations based on the Headship of Christ rather than the world.


My church is starting that process over the next eight weeks - the introductory message is here. The core passage (there has to be one of those) was:

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Culture wars:
Foolish Expectations

[Point one of Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]

Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to Hell because . . ."

1. Its expectation is foolish. Whether you believe America was ever a Christian nation or not, it is theologically naive and demonstrably false to think laws or policies make anyone a Christian. You cannot create or recapture a people for Christ by illegalizing sin. (Which, by the way, is not to say that certain sins shouldn’t be illegal. It is only to say that, for instance, outlawing gay marriage or repealing Roe v. Wade won’t make anybody a Christian, much less make America “a Christian nation.”)

Read more!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Culture wars:
Jared Wilson Enhanced

I mentioned how much I liked Jared Wilson's "Funny, I don't Feel Neoconnish" posted at Evangel. His ten points about why the "culture wars" are going to hell --

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Romans 7:1-6 --
"Free From Law to Live By the Spirit"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

Read more!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Culture wars:
To Jared Wilson -- Amen

There is a new group Evangelical blog - called Evangel - at First Things. There are some interesting things about that sentence alone - First Things is primarily (although obviously not entirely) a Roman Catholic magazine of a politically conservative nature. None of the contributors to the Evangel blog are Roman Catholic.

Now for folks that do not see the difference between believing in fairies and believing in a Creator, personal God the distance between these two groups may not seem great. However, within the Body of Christ there is a marked tension between Evangelicalism as a movement within Protestantism and the Roman Catholic church. A very marked tension.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Christian Carnival CCC (300) - Silver Denarii Edition

As Jeremy said when he assigned me this Carnival - the 300th is a big edition. So, wanting some kind of theme - I put "three hundred" into a Bible search. Other than "mighty men" and shields in the Old Testament, I came up with this passage:

John 12:1-8 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom he had raised from the dead. So they prepared a dinner for Jesus there. Martha was serving, and Lazarus was among those present at the table with him. Then Mary took three quarters of a pound of expensive aromatic oil from pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus. She then wiped his feet dry with her hair. (Now the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfumed oil.) But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was going to betray him) said, “Why wasn’t this oil sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?” (Now Judas said this not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief. As keeper of the money box, he used to steal what was put into it.) So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She has kept it for the day of my burial. For you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me!”

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Romans 6:15-23 --
"Free - and a Slave"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Problem of Evil:
Free Will and the Quantity of Evil

Luke at Common Sense Atheism is continuing his series Arguing about Evil with the post "Plantinga’s Free Will Defense". Go read that.

This was started as a comment there, and then got to long-winded to keep as a comment.

Read more!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Romans 6:12-14
"Sin Shall Not Be Your Master"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

Read more!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Theistic Arguments:
Reasonable Expectations

The "straw that broke the camel's back" for this post was this comment over at Common Sense Atheism:

Hey don’t you know Bill Craig and Plantinga have proven Christian theism?
Now, I love those guys; and I fashion myself as a Christian apologist. However, do I think I can prove Christian theism?

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Romans 5:21-6:14
"A New Identity "

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"The Trilemma":
An Invitation to a Shredding

The headline quote on my blog is called "The Trilemma": fool, demon, or God. Now, personally, I think most folks fall into one of those or the fourth which Lewis says is not open: great moral teacher. I was over participating in a thread at Common Sense Atheism and someone said

“By and large, [C.S. Lewis's] theology, like his apologetics, is embarrassingly incoherent, unsound, incomplete, and generally bad” I agree. I created a thread on freeratio about and it generated some good discussion. It can be found here:
and pointed to this other thread and his opening quote there:
Theres the trilemma, which has been shredded to pieces, even though it was self evidently stupid to being with, . . .
Now, I have heard Christians say the same about the Trilemma, but since it is still my banner quote - obviously no one has convinced me yet it is "shredded" or "self-evidently stupid" (I think more of myself than that). So, I invited folks over to shred it for me and perhaps make me change my banner quote

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Vox Day vs Luke:
My Comments on the Exchange

I am not going to continue blogging on the exchange as it continues. I will continue to post the links to the new letters on the original post as I see them. I was fascinated by the discussion, which is why I condensed the first 6 letters into one post. I had originally peppered that post with my own editorial comments, but then deleted them all. There are some things I want to say about the discussion and the topics raised:

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Vox Day vs Luke:
Nosing into a Discussion

I have quoted The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day in three major posts:

I added Vox Popoli -- Vox Day's blog -- to my reading list and, lo and behold, ran into the 6th letter (3 from each side) in a dialogue between Day and Luke Muehlhauser at Common Sense Atheism. Apparently, Luke requested this dialogue and kicked it off with his first letter at his blog

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Romans 6:8-11
"Identity: What Paul and Clark Kent Have to Say"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Atheism, Utopianism, and Totalitarianism

[Attention: This posts is not about all atheists, or what all atheists believe, or even (necessarily) all utopianism - please read carefully]

I will begin with a comment I made in a discussion of Bill Maher's "enabling" of the "Religious Right" (all the scare quotes there are because I do not think any of that terminology is very good).

Suffice it to say, that the view of Marx on the philosophical side was the same as Dawkins: progress will only occur in solving the world's problems if the metaphysical, non-naturalist ideologies and theologies standing in the way of that progress (and they always stand in the way of that progress) are isolated from the culture so they can no longer stand in the way of that progress.

In either case, both Marxism and Dawkins stated, or seriously implied, that religion must be removed as an influence in society in order for humanity to solve its real problems and evolve to a higher order of human social relationship. In the case of Marxism in power, that led in every case to atrocities against the religious and holders of other "bourgeois philosophies" in order to move that evolution on.

There is no doubt that the modern history of totalitarianism is primarily anchored with expressly atheist ideology (Communism) or non-Christian ideology (Hitler). The slaughter has been enormous - far, far outweighing the closest of Christian kings or rulers since the beginning of Christendom around 400 AD. Religious, but non-Christian, kings have not been as bloodthirsty either by several orders of magnitude. Why is this?

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Romans 6:5-7
"No Longer Slaves to Sin"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Blog Tour: 10/4 - 10/10

Wherein I look around the web - hopefully once a week - and draw some attention to things I see there that interest me.

If you want to know where I go, look at the links on the left of my blog under "Places I Frequent". From there, I will go places those places may point me. Typically, I will also list up to three of my favorite posts from the current Christian Carnival - and may go somewhere those blogs take me.

Sometimes they will be topically organized, and sometimes just in order of the links I visited. Enjoy:

Read more!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Romans 6:1-4
"A New Life"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

Read more!

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Nobel Prize:
An Act of Grace

President Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.” [full text of announcement]
Obviously, lots of folks are talking about this; and I am sure someone will be able to explain why President Obama was deserving [here it is] - despite the nominations closing on February 1, just 11 days after President Obama took office.

Read more!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Romans 5:12-21
"The Reign of Grace"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

Read more!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Blog Tour: 9/27 - 10/3

Wherein I look around the web - hopefully once a week - and draw some attention to things I see there that interest me.

If you want to know where I go, look at the links on the left of my blog under "Places I Frequent". From there, I will go places those places may point me. Typically, I will also list up to three of my favorite posts from the current Christian Carnival - and may go somewhere those blogs take me.

Sometimes they will be topically organized, and sometimes just in order of the links I visited. Enjoy:

Read more!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Romans 5:6-11
"We Rejoice in God"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

Read more!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Abortion:
". . . and Our Work is not Done"

When chatting about abortion in the public arena - the pro-life and pro-choice folks have typical things they say. Now, I am not particularly "typical" on the pro-life side - I am not in favor of focusing on making abortion illegal - I am in favor of making it unchosen. To put that positively, I want folks to Choose Life.

While technically pro-choice, I am not typical either - I believe that abortion is (prima facie - not always) immoral: the fetus is a type of life whose life it is seriously wrong to end. There are reasons why it may be moral - but the assumption for me is that abortion must be justified. Suffice it to say here (you can see much longer argument from me starting here), that I believe that the unborn child is a rights bearer from (essentially) conception and therefore falls within this view from David Gushee:

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Romans 5:3-5
"Loving and Longsuffering "

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

Read more!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blog Tour: 9/20 - 9/26

Wherein I look around the web - hopefully once a week - and draw some attention to things I see there that interest me.

If you want to know where I go, look at the links on the left of my blog under "Places I Frequent". From there, I will go places those places may point me. Typically, I will also list up to three of my favorite posts from the current Christian Carnival - and may go somewhere those blogs take me.

Sometimes they will be topically organized, and sometimes just in order of the links I visited. Enjoy:

Read more!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Romans 5:1-2
"We Have Peace with God "

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

Read more!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Speaking Truth to Power?

"Speaking truth to power" is not a phrase that one hears very often either from political or theological conservatives. I always assumed that it just had to do with someone who was a theological or political liberal having used it; and that it was picked up in one of those cultures. It has always felt presumptuous to me.

However, I have never seen a critique of the phrase. Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed pointed me to a "an old blog that deserves a wide readership" - and if this post is any indication then I agree.

The name of the site, and the author, is Allan R. Bevere; and he speaks

"On Why The Church in America Cannot Speak Truth to Power"
". . . perhaps the most useless political phrase of all is the high-sounding but irrelevant phraseology of "speaking truth to power." -- Allan Bevere

Bevere gives two reasons:
  1. the vast majority of Christians in America have accepted the Constantinian notion that the primary political task of the church is to rule, to be in charge. What that means at the very least is that Christians are to play a prophetic role in the political court of Washington DC.


  2. it means that most Christians have accepted the modern dichotomies of left/right, liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican
"And therein is the heart of the problem. That most Christians in America believe that the church's primary role is to affect policy in Washington DC betrays the mistaken belief that the primary political action in this world is to be found in the White House and on Capitol Hill, when the New Testament clearly indicates that the primary agency of politics is located in nothing less than the community of faith known as the church. In order for the church to speak truth to power it must recover its unique polity apart from the earthly polity known as the nation state; for it is God and not the nations who rules the world.

My great concern is that when Christians in America want to play the role of prophet in Pharaoh's court, they end up looking, not like the wise sage, but the court jester that gets used by the king for his or her own comical and unsavory purposes.

The people of God have been co-opted; it is time for the church to recover the politics of witness." -- Allan Bevere
One of the examples Allan uses is feeding the poor:
For Christians to be concerned for the poor, the outcasts, and those on the fringes of society is a given. The problem is that it is not always clear how Christians should care for such persons.
Another writer who tried to lift Kingdom priorities over politcal priorities was J. Budziszewski in his two essays on political liberalism:
The second moral error of political liberalism is expropriationism. According to this notion I may take from others to help the needy, giving nothing of my own; according to Christianity I should give of my own to help the needy, taking from no one. We might call expropriationism the Robin Hood fallacy. Today, the expropriationist is usually a propitiationist too, confusing the needy with some subset of the merely wanty. So we are speaking of a style of politics in which the groups in power decide for us which of their causes our wealth is to support, taking that wealth by force
and political conservatism:
The eighth moral error of political conservatism is meritism. According to this notion I should do unto others as they deserve. With the addition of mammonism, matters become even simpler, for then those who need help are by definition undeserving, while those in a position to help are by definition deserving. That meritism is not a Christian doctrine comes as a surprise to many people. Large numbers think the meritist motto “God helps those who help themselves” is a quotation from the Bible. What the New Testament actually teaches is that in what we need most, we are helpless; the grace of God is an undeserved gift. According to Christianity I should do unto others not as they deserve, but as they need.
Read the rest of Allan Bevere's thought-provoking post; and I would suggest you put his blog on your reading schedule - I am going to.

I even like his quote of the week from G.K. Chesterson:
"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."

Read more!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

About Me

I recently discovered a blog called Fundamentally Changed which has fundamentally changed my view of the word "fundamentalist", and being called a "Fundamentalist". I am not sure the word (like "Evangelical") can be resurrected from what secular society has done to it, but at least I do not need to feel insulted anymore when someone calls me one.

Jason, one of the bloggers at Fundamentally Changed, noticed that I was beginning to link them in some of my stuff and put them on my reading list on my sideboard. He did something that really hasn't happened to me up to now (and is, in my opinion, really cool) - he sent me an email:

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Romans 4:18-25
"Abraham's Faith - and Ours"

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

(NET) Romans 4:18 Against hope Abraham31 believed32 in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations33 according to the pronouncement,34 “so will your descendants be.”35 19 Without being weak in faith, he considered36 his own body as dead37 (because he was about one hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He38 did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. 21 He was39 fully convinced that what God40 promised he was also able to do. 22 So indeed it was credited to Abraham41 as righteousness. 23 But the statement it was credited to him42 was not written only for Abraham’s43 sake, 24 but also for our sake, to whom it will be credited, those who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He44 was given over45 because of our transgressions and was raised for the sake of46 our justification.47
Notes:
31 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

32 tn Grk “who against hope believed,” referring to Abraham. The relative pronoun was converted to a personal pronoun and, because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

33 sn A quotation from
Gen 17:5.
34 tn Grk “according to that which had been spoken.”
35 sn A quotation from
Gen 15:5.

36 tc Most mss (D F G Ψ 33 1881 M it) read “he did not consider” by including the negative particle (οὐ, ou), but others (א A B C 6 81 365 1506 1739 pc co) lack οὐ. The reading which includes the negative particle probably represents a scribal attempt to exalt the faith of Abraham by making it appear that his faith was so strong that he did not even consider the physical facts. But “here Paul does not wish to imply that faith means closing one’s eyes to reality, but that Abraham was so strong in faith as to be undaunted by every consideration” (TCGNT 451). Both on external and internal grounds, the reading without the negative particle is preferred.

37 tc ‡ Most witnesses (א A C D Ψ 33 M bo) have ἤδη (ēdē, “already”) at this point in v. 19. But B F G 630 1739 1881 pc lat sa lack it. Since it appears to heighten the style of the narrative and since there is no easy accounting for an accidental omission, it is best to regard the shorter text as original. NA27 includes the word in brackets, indicating doubt as to its authenticity.

38 tn Grk “And he.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, δέ (de) has not been translated here.

39 tn Grk “and being.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

40 tn Grk “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
41 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
42 tn A quotation from
Gen 15:6.
43 tn Grk “his”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

44 tn Grk “who,” referring to Jesus. The relative pronoun was converted to a personal pronoun and, because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

45 tn Or “handed over.”
sn The verb translated given over (παραδίδωμι, paradidōmi) is also used in Rom 1:24, 26, 28 to describe God giving people over to sin. But it is also used frequently in the gospels to describe Jesus being handed over (or delivered up, betrayed) by sinful men for crucifixion (cf., e.g., Matt 26:21; 27:4; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33; 15:15; Luke 20:20; 22:24; 24:7). It is probable that Paul has both ideas in mind: Jesus was handed over by sinners, but even this betrayal was directed by the Father for our sake (because of our transgressions).
46 tn Grk “because of.” However, in light of the unsatisfactory sense that a causal nuance would here suggest, it has been argued that the second διά (dia) is prospective rather than retrospective (D. Moo, Romans [NICNT], 288–89). The difficulty of this interpretation is the structural balance that both διά phrases provide (“given over because of our transgressions…raised because of our justification”). However the poetic structure of this verse strengthens the likelihood that the clauses each have a different force.

47 sn Many scholars regard Rom 4:25 to be poetic or hymnic. These terms are used broadly to refer to the genre of writing, not to the content. There are two broad criteria for determining if a passage is poetic or hymnic: “(a) stylistic: a certain rhythmical lilt when the passages are read aloud, the presence of parallelismus membrorum (i.e., an arrangement into couplets), the semblance of some metre, and the presence of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, chiasmus, and antithesis; and (b) linguistic: an unusual vocabulary, particularly the presence of theological terms, which is different from the surrounding context” (P. T. O’Brien, Philippians [NIGTC], 188–89). Classifying a passage as hymnic or poetic is important because understanding this genre can provide keys to interpretation. However, not all scholars agree that the above criteria are present in this passage.

Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
From the Notesheet:
  • Sermon Notes: As Carl promised, this is a practical lesson in having and strengthening faith -- using the example of Abraham.

    • So, what did Abraham do?
      1. He faced the facts (without weakening in his faith).
      2. He did not waver through unbelief.
      3. He grew stronger in his faith.
      4. He gave glory to God.
      5. He was persuaded God could do what he promised to do.

    • Carl drew these practical lessons for us:
      • And we also must not allow circumstances and appearances to determine what we will believe… hope… trust… live out…
      • We must know what God has promised to us, and be confident in His power to do what He promised
      • We must choose to hope in God – when there is no hope in the world.
      • God calls each of us to a growing experience of life—of focusing on God, believing God, loving God, honoring God, worshiping God, relying on God, serving God, etc…

  • Going Deeper into the Word:
    1. How can we have “hope” -- when situations appear “hopeless”?
    2. How can we grow in not being controlled by circumstances?
    3. How are you “strengthened in faith”?
    4. Are we “fully persuaded” God will do what He promised to do?
    5. What is “justification”?

Next: 5:1-2 -- "We Have Peace With God"

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Blog Tour: 9/13 - 9/19

Wherein I look around the web - hopefully once a week - and draw some attention to things I see there that interest me.

If you want to know where I go, look at the links on the left of my blog under "Places I Frequent". From there, I will go places those places may point me. Typically, I will also list up to three of my favorite posts from the current Christian Carnival - and may go somewhere those blogs take me.

Sometimes they will be topically organized, and sometimes just in order of the links I visited. Enjoy:

Read more!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Romans 4:16-17
"The Promise Comes by Faith"

[Crossposted to Street Prophets. The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Must I Confront "Bad" Christians?

I spend a lot of time actually discussing religion and politics with folks who are neither political or theological conservatives. This is primarily at a "faith and politics" site called Street Prophets. I have been there long enough that I am a part of the community - at least in the sense that "crazy uncle Ernie" is part of your family; or the pit bull barking at you when you walk by is part of your neighborhood (Just kidding - mostly - I have good friends there as well). Maybe you would be happy if they both disappeared, but it would change your world.

One of the drawbacks of it is that I have to deal with a question like

Where were the shocked and outraged evangelical reactions when Falwell and Robertson both asserted that God made (or permitted--a fine distinction) 9/11 to happen, and that it was the fault of gays, liberals, feminists, pagans and so forth?
This question is not unique to me. Muslims who aren't terrorists have to answer it, atheists complain of having to answer for some of their ilk, (and liberals, and conservatives, and Republicans, and Democrats, and . . .) are all expected to have denounced any nutcases in their particular tribe.

The implication is if droves of Evangelicals do not stand up and bash "our leaders" everytime one of them stands on a stage and makes a fool of themselves - then we are responsible for their buffoonery.

In my opinion, I really am only responsible for:
  • The Bible - and only because I believe in sola scriptura; and its inspiration and inerrancy
  • What I personally draw from and hold as my theology from the Bible and other sources
  • My church and the words of my Pastor that I publish and agree to
Let's talk about this:

  1. Our leaders -- Amy Sullivan said it well:
    the evangelical community (and even the conservative evangelical community) is very diverse and doesn't have one acknowledged leader.
    She went to give a list - but it showed how impossible making a list is. The folks she mentioned are on as broad a theological and political spectrum as can be imagined.

    My leaders have been my pastors - the teachers that work through scripture with me.


  2. Handling those leaders mistakes -- Going to scripture, as I usually will, I can see that if I am going to correct a fellow follower of Christ that I have to:

    • Be humble and do not judge:
      Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive. 3 Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? 5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
      Romans 2:1 Therefore you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else. For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment is in accordance with truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think, whoever you are, when you judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?
    • Remember who their boss is:
      Exhortation to Mutual Forbearance
      Romans 14:1 Now receive the one who is weak in the faith, and do not have disputes over differing opinions. 2 One person believes in eating everything, but the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not despise the one who does not, and the one who abstains must not judge the one who eats everything, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
    • Do it in love:
      1 John 2:9 The one who says he is in the light but still hates his fellow Christian is still in the darkness. 10 The one who loves his fellow Christian resides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his fellow Christian is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
      1 Corinthians 13:2 And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
    • Do it to lift them up:
      Ephesians 4:29 You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.
    • and, do it in private, in person, and with as few people involved as possible:
      Restoring Christian Relationships
      Matthew 18: 15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector.
That should make it clear how difficult it is for followers of Christ to satisfy their non-Christian critics when it comes to public denunciations of folks within our ranks who sin.

One side issue: we are often accused of saying someone is "not a Christian" when they act badly. If I have given that impression, I wish to go on record (or point to C.S. Lewis's record) with how I view it:
It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not close to the spirit of Christ. We do not see into men's hearts. We' cannot judge, and are indeed forbidden to judge. It would be wicked arrogance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Christian in this refined sense. And obviously a word which we can never apply is not going to he a very useful word . . .

We must therefore stick to the original, obvious meaning. The name Christians was first given at Antioch (
Acts xi. 26) to 'the disciples', to those who accepted the teaching of the apostles. There is no question of its being restricted to those who profited by that teaching as much as they should have. There is no question of its being extended to those who in some refined, spiritual, inward fashion were 'far closer to the spirit of Christ' than the less satisfactory of the disciples. The point is not a theological or moral one. It is only a question of using words so that we can all understand what is being said. When a man who accepts the Christian doctrine lives unworthily of it, it is much clearer to say he is a bad Christian than to say he is not a Christian.
Now, this is a very Biblical examination of my responsibilities to my fellow follower of Christ when I think he has done wrong. However, from my experience, the general principles here are easily expanded outside of Christianity, and indeed outside of religion, to relations between folks in general.

Y'all can chat about that too if you wish

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Romans 4:9-15
"Only By Faith"

[Crossposted to Street Prophets. The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

The text:

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Blog Tour: 9/6 - 9/12

[Crossposted to Street Prophets]

Wherein I look around the web - hopefully once a week - and draw some attention to things I see there that interest me.

If you want to know where I go, look at the links on the left of my blog under "Places I Frequent". From there, I will go places those places may point me. Typically, I will also list up to three of my favorite posts from the current Christian Carnival - and may go somewhere those blogs take me.

Sometimes they will be topically organized, and sometimes just in order of the links I visited. Enjoy:

  • Christian Carnival posts:
    • Teresa at the New Mercy blog writes about a family breakup and also being in debt that made her feel embarrassed and unworthy.
      How do you go about cultivating a lifestyle of honesty when you are terribly embarrassed and even ashamed of yourself? I wasn't raised to tell people the truth about my problems or struggles. I wasn't familiar with letting people look into my personal growth or know about my issues. Also, I wasn't at all used to family breakup or creditors calling or choosing which bill to pay.
    • Is someone watching you? Actually, yes. To find out who and what to do about it, read the post entitled, "We're being watched" at the In Him We Live and Move and Have Our Being blog.
      So here we have two men from very different backgrounds – one practicing the Hindu faith throughout his life, the other a fallen-away Christian – both of whom object to Christianity on the basis of the behavior, actions, and appearance of Christians.
    • Tom of Thinking Christian reviews N.T. Wright's book, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is in his post, "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Part One)"
      Early Christianity was, he writes, a kingdom-of-God movement, a resurrection movement, and a Messianic movement. From our distance these seem commonplace assertions, and if we try we can easily imagine coming up with a set of religious fables to support such thinking. This is why Wright emphasizes the historical setting so strongly, though; for these ways of thinking, in the forms they appeared in early Christianity, were completely foreign to the culture in which Christianity arose.
  • At Sharper Iron, Dr. Kevin Bauder has started a series on Fundamentalism
    The last sustained history of fundamentalism to be published by a fundamentalist was David Beale's In Pursuit of Purity1. Nearly a generation has passed since Beale finished writing his book. During that time the landscape of fundamentalism has altered significantly.
    I read the first four posts, and it seems like a pretty insightful series on the philosophical, theological roots and current state of Fundamentalism [HT: Fundamentally Changed]


  • Last week, I mentioned that Iraq and Syria were at odds, with the President of Iraq calling for international investigation. This week Iraq's Presidency council criticizes Maliki over standoff with Syria
    The Iraqi presidency council called for "containing the situation with neighboring Syria and for cooperation between the two countries to resolve disputes through dialogue and diplomatic channels".A statement released after the council's meeting in Sulaymaniyah stressed the need to do what is in the best interest of both countries and to prevent "enemies" from using one country against the other.
  • Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse thinks, along with Ezra Klein, that "The Baucus Reform Plan has Some Merit"
    Senate Finance chairman Max Baucus has labored long, hard - and in secret - to produce an 18 page summary of what Ezra Klein refers to as a “Not that bad health care bill.” The fact that I agree with Klein shouldn’t worry you. The irony is that he sees fault where I see merit and vice versa.

    That should make both liberals and conservative heads explode.
  • So, "Did Paul Invent Jesus' Deity?" Stand to Reason looks at a new book due to come out:
    Philip Pullman, author of the childrens book series His Dark Materials that arguably portray an atheistic worldview, will release a new book next year recycling an old argument that is contradicted by the majority and most recent scholarship. In a book that appears will be a mix of fiction and non-fiction, Pullman will argue that "St. Paul came up with the 'story' that Jesus had a divine link." He claims that "by the time the gospels were being written, Paul had already begun to transform the story of Jesus into something altogether new and extraordinary, and some of his version influenced what the gospel writers put in theirs." Jesus' divinity is a product of Paul's "fervid imagination."
  • At Street Prophets there is a diary about "How to Build an Atheist in Two Hours". For followers of Christ who seek to evangelize, this (and some of the diaries it links) should be a "how NOT to evangelize" primer - starting with the ambush of a 14 year old boy at a science camp in North Carolina.
    when a guy who’s name is "Scat" puts up a sign up sheet called "Rock and Roll, Funk and Soul: The history of the music we listen to" and specifically invites me to attend, it sounds like it’s going to be a good time. The warning I missed was how precise my invitation was and that I was given a unique responsibility that night:

    "Hey Joe! I’m holding a session tonight about music, man. And I saw that great collection of Rock T-shirts you have. Boy, those are really great. I could use them in my presentation. Would you mind bringing them along?"

    Well, that sounds friendly enough, and at age 14 I had not yet learned to be so suspicious of anyone who’s always that happy and energetic. So, like the clueless fool I was, I showed up looking forward to a great time about music history, and having some part in the story. Little did I know what my part was . . .
    His best comment, to me, was:
    What you should take away from this story, in my opinion, is that if the labels of "faithful", "Christians" – whatever stereotypical name we use to grossly oversimplify and identify one group is offensive to you then I’ve done my job. For the same reason "atheist", "secularists" is injurious to me when it’s used to hold me accountable for individual acts of others that I personally had no part it, I understand your distress. So if you’re tired and indignant of being shouldered with the burden of what "those" Christians do, which of course no Christian as you understand it should ever do, then you need to be talking to those Christians and tell them to cut it out.
    I only partially agree with the last part - it is only my responsibility when I can do so in love in a situation where we are under the same discipline/leadership. However, in posting this I am making it clear that if the reader thinks what the camp counselor did is OK - I think you really need to rethink your concept of personal evangelism.


  • Jan at A View from Her looks at "cows, cars, shoes, relationships":
    So it’s been awhile since we’ve had a frank discussion about sex, and today I find myself “in the mood” (pun intended). To be more specific, rather a discussion about the fine art of not having sex, if you’re a single disciple of Jesus, or just a woman of higher than average intelligence.
  • Heard about this?:
    The furor over President Obama's trillion-dollar restructuring of American health care has left his other trillion-dollar plan starved for attention. That's how much the federal balance sheet will expand over the next decade if Mr. Obama can convince Congress to approve his pending takeover of the student-loan market.

    The Obama plan calls for the U.S. Department of Education to move from its current 20% share of the student-loan origination market to 80% on July 1, 2010, when private lenders will be barred from making government-guaranteed loans. The remaining 20% of the market that is now completely private will likely shrink further as lenders try to comply with regulations Congress created last year. Starting next summer, taxpayers will have to put up roughly $100 billion per year to lend to students.
  • Read more!

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Romans 4:1-8
    "God's Economy - Everyone on Well-fare"

    [Crossposted to Street Prophets. The index for the series is here.]

    I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:

    The text:

    Read more!

    Wednesday, September 09, 2009

    Subsidiarity and Violence

    I have talked alot about subsidiarity:

    "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." (Pope Pius XI, "On Reconstruction of the Social Order", 1931)
    On of the reasons for this is 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.
    So, as this article points out:
    [Subsidiarity] holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be. This principle is a bulwark of limited government and personal freedom. It conflicts with the passion for centralization and bureaucracy
    That is because the closer, and more organic, organization is the more natural organization and easiest for the folks affected to control.

    One thing I noticed (and haven't directly mentioned in connection with subsidiarity) when I wrote "The Era of Bloodshed" was (as mentioned by Conyers) that Hannah Arendt:
    suggested that where power, in the sense of effective action within a community is missing, violence takes its place. Moreover, once the institutions of government have outgrown the individual and the neighborhood, so that the very scale of governance no longer permits effective action for most people, then those people are more likely to take to the streets and address their grievances in destructive ways.
    If you are not just going to take things like the Tea Party movement and the outcry at the health care town halls as astroturfing, then you can see this feeling of ineffectiveness and lack of control beginning to explode into anger and violence.

    Even folks who supported President Obama are feeling the same: it seems to many that regardless of the promises made during the election, and the vote, and the control of Congress by the Democratics - that nothing has changed. Nothing. Arendt's critique still explains: we, the electorate, are simply to far from the "halls of power" to have any impact on policy - or at least not the same impact as the lobbyists sitting in their offices. Certainly not the same impact that organized citizens can have on city, county, and state governments.

    There was a reason the Federal Constitution left so many powers in the hands of the several states - and it has not been particularly good that the Federal government has moved more and more control, over more and more areas, into Washington D.C. One thing that political activists of all stripes need to realize - the Federal Government is too large, and too distant, for there to be effective citizen control.

    Read more!

    Monday, September 07, 2009

    Blog Tour: 8/30 - 9/5

    This re-initiates my old practice of looking around the web - hopefully once a week - and drawing some attention to things I see there that interest me.

    If you want to know where I go, look at the links on the left under "Places I Frequent". From there, I will go places those places may point me. Typically, I will also list three of my favorite posts from the current Christian Carnival - and may go somewhere those blogs take me.

    Sometimes they will be topically organized, and sometimes just in order of the links I visited. Enjoy:

  • Christian Carnival picks:
    • Shannon at The Minority Thinker examines why they are "Quitting Small Group". After having read it, I have to agree with these two statements:
      Over fifteen years, I have been part of almost a dozen small groups sponsored by three different churches; my husband has joined me in most of them. Never once have I developed a close friendship through one of these groups.
      and
      We are told to confess our sins to each other [I tore a group up doing this], to restore each other, to love each other, to encourage each other, and to serve together as the body of Christ. I have rarely – if ever – seen these things happen in a small group. And if that kind of fellowship isn’t taking place regularly, why do we keep trying the same methods and hoping for different results? It seems to me it’s time for a new approach.
    • Henry at Participatory Bible Study Blog responds to:
      … The problem is this: when one takes a close look at the Bible in its original context, there is no evidence that the Bible is such a historically-situated divine revelation, that it is somehow ontologically different than other texts from antiquity and should be privileged or treated in a special way. …
      with "Indentifying Define Revelation"
  • President Obama's address to school children: I created a category for this expecting to see a bit of stuff on it - but there really wasn't much:
    • Jim at Volokh Conspiracy took a look back at the news articles, etc. connected with President George H.W. Bush's 1991 Speech to Schools.
      On WESTLAW, I looked up other news stories about the speech. It was eported as 10 minutes in some reports and 12 minutes in others. It was carried live on CNN, PBS, and [the NBC] and Mutual radio [networks]. The Secretary of Education sent a letter urging schools to have their students watch, but I didn’t find any evidence of how many schools followed that recommendation. And most striking: Bush laid out goals — to increase the graduation rate, improve student competency and better prepare students for entering school — and said, "Let me know how you're doing. Write me a letter. I'm serious about this one. Write me a letter about ways you can help us achieve our goals." [Written text is here - and wasn't checked against the tapes]
    • John Piper weighed in with "I Hope My Daughter Hears the President’s Speech":
      I am stunned at the outcry against the President of the United States speaking to the youth of this nation about the importance of education.

      I am embarrassed by the governor of my home state saying, that the president’s plan to address them is “disruptive . . . uninvited . . . and number three . . . I don’t think he needs to force it upon the nation’s school children.”

      This speech seems, for me, to be an answer to a prayer that I have prayed for the president repeatedly . . .
  • Jason S at Fundamentally Changed looks at how extreme fundamentalism can be involved in "Transgressing By Traditions":
    Today I call upon all of my fundamentalist brethren to honestly take the time to examine their doctrines and practices and see how they measure up to God’s Word, the five sola’s, and the historic fundamentals. If they don’t fit that, they must be discarded, no matter how old, precious, and dear they are to us.
  • Iraq the Model this week is focusing on the crisis raised by Syria's apparent complicity in the August 19th bombing which killed 95 people and wounded 600. One of the stories began
    Iraq continues to insist on internationalizing the crisis with Syria, which began after Iraq demanded that Syria hands over senior Ba’ath Party members. Iraq now plans to persuade the international community to form an international criminal court, similar to the one investigating the assassination of the late Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stressed at a meeting with the Turkish FM that Iraq “will move forward to demand that the UN forms an international tribunal to prosecute those who committed ugly crimes that target Iraq’s stability and people and killed many innocent lives”.
  • Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed points to a book by
    David Bentley Hart, a historian of ideas, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies , has been our guide into some of the philosophical and historical issues at work among the new atheists like Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens. One of the implicit and sometimes explicit claims is that we are enlightened and that
    the secular state is safer than a religious-shaped state. To which Hart makes this statement, and he expresses the growing body of literature that both denies the myth of secularization (that all things are becoming more secular) and reveals the profound mischief of the secular state:
    "We live now in the wake of the most monstrously violent century in human history, during which the secular state (on both the political right and the political left), freed from the authority of religion, showed itself willing to kill on an unprecedented scale and with an ease of conscience worse than merely depraved. If ever an age deserved to be thought an age of darkness, it is surely ours. One might almost be tempted to conclude that secular government is the one form of government that has shown itself too violent, capricious, and unprincipled to be trusted" (106)
  • Jeremy at Parableman points to "Obama's Widely-Unpublicized Backtrack on Stem Cells" - belatedly for sure because it occurred a while back:
    2009 -- March 9th: President Obama rescinds Bush’s August 9, 2001 EO with his own EO entitled, “Removing Barriers To Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells.” The revocation of Bush’s EO is heralded as “lifting the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research (ESCR).” (this is the event found in the video offered above)

    This EO simultaneously revokes Bush EO # 13435 which has provided federal funding of successful IPSC research. This aspect of the order is not mentioned at the press conference.

    2009 -- March 11th: President Obama signs and renews the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which continues the ban on federal funding for ESCR that Obama claims to have lifted 2 days earlier. No announcement is made and no press conference is called.
    Notice that now not only is there no federal funding of ESCR - President Obama removed President Bush's mandate of federal funding for IPSC research as well. Incidentally, Jeremy did what anyone should really do when confronted by such a reported contradiction between stated positions of politicians and their actual actions:
    When I first read this, I immediately wanted to find something to verify it. It was incredibly difficult to find an actual news story on it, since the mainstream media either suppressed it or never got the information on it. The one news story I could find was from a partisan organization, but it does give chapter and verse for where to find the language in the bill that does indeed do exactly what the story says it does. It's in Title V, section 509 of the Omnibus spending bill (page 128 of this PDF; it appears in full here). It repeats verbatim exactly the section that since 1996 has appeared in every such spending bill under President Clinton and President Bush.
  • Rick at Rightwing Nuthouse as been writing a whole series of articles about conservative reform - three in the last week. All of them are, to me, important for both folks on the right and the left to read.


  • Orin at Volokh Conspiracy looks at "al-Kidd v. Ashcroft: Is Pretextual Use of the Material Witness Statute Unconstitutional?":
    The Ninth Circuit handed down a fascinating and important case on preventive detention on Friday, and one that I suspect added a new case to the Supreme Court's docket next year: al-Kidd v. Ashcroft. The basic holding of the opinion is that the post-9/11 practice of using the material witness statute to detain suspected terrorists is not only unconstitutional, but clearly unconstitutional, and that former AG Ashcroft can be personally sued for his role in it. The majority opinion was written by Judge Milan Smith and joined by Judge Thompson; Judge Bea wrote a partial concurrence and partial dissent.

    There's a lot of coverage of the case in newspapers and around the web, but nothing that really delves into the legal questions. That's understandable, as the opinions in the case fill about 100 pages. But in this post, I wanted to delve into the legal questions and see if the court's opinion holds up to scrutiny.
    . . .
    Fortunately, this case is perfect for Supreme Court review: If the en banc Ninth Circuit passes on it, this case will give the Supreme Court an ideal opportunity to evaluate the very important question of how the Fourth Amendment applies to preventive detention.
  • Read more!