Tuesday, August 15, 2017

When Things Get Weird Nostalgia May Be The Only Cure: Stranger In A Strange Land

When a sitting president of the United States says the following:
"George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? ...Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him? OK, good. Are we going to take down his statue, because he was a major slave owner. Now we're going to take down his statue. So you know what? It's fine. You're changing history, you're changing culture, and you had people — and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally — but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly."
I have no choice but to return to my youth and remember that I have always been a stranger in a strange land. When I was young, I just never anticipated the land would become so Kafkaesque.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Scripture And Song Of The Week: Numbers 13 and twenty one pilots edition

17 And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain: 
18 And see the land, what it is, and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; 
19 And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; 
20 And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes. 
21 So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath. 
22 And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 
23 And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. 
24 The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence. 
25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. 
26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. 
27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. 
28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. 
29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. 
30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. 
31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. 
32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. 
33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Tone Deaf, Stupid, Or Deliberately Vile?

There's nothing like releasing a 2020 campaign ad labeling folks as enemies one day after after a day of violence.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

On Robert Jeffress And God's Authority For War

I first heard about Reverend Robert Jeffress's assertion that God has given Donald Trump the go ahead to take out Kim Jong-Un on Twitter on the evening of August 8. Mindful of the injunctions about blogging angry and, more importantly, those of Matthew 5:22, I got two nights of good sleep before hitting the keyboard.

There is no orthodox reading of the Bible that places the United States as a special nation on Earth. There's no American testament that sets up a special covenant between the United States and God Further, there is no historical evidence that the God of Abraham appeared in Independence Hall in Philadelphia in either 1776 or 1787 and added a covenant of invisible ink on the back of either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.

More importantly God numbers the hairs of the heads of both Americans and North Koreans. More importantly the God who sent his Son to save a lost world and does not want anyone to perish does not seem like the God who is going to authorize the untimely and horrific deaths by "fire and fury" of thousand if not millions of North Koreans.

Reverend Jeffress likely calls himself a disciple of Christ. The best advice Christ ever gave his disciples while on this earthly plane was to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. War is never harmless and President Trump's and Reverend Jeffress's statements have more in common with the braying of a mule than any form of wisdom.

Finally, with the Matthew 5:22 injunction firmly in mind, I am reminded of the following verse from Proverbs 24, so I will just close with it because I have no desire to incur further risk of damnation or being like Reverend Jeffress.
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Scripture And Song For The Week: I Thessalonians 5 And Lucinda Williams Edition

I Thessalonians 5:
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
19 Quench not the Spirit.
20 Despise not prophesyings.
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
25 Brethren, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.
27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

What Does It Mean To Be A Conservative? Part II

From my Twitter feed this afternoon, conservatives apparently want to become liberals. I am not making these up.

What The Heck Is A Conservative?

Following links off my Twitter feed, I came across this article about a class on the history of American conservatism. The fact that the class discussed Russel Kirk, William F. Buckley, F. A. Hayek, and Milton Friedman. The fact that Ayn Rand is not mentioned in the article is cause for joy. Actually, the young conservatives reactions to conservative history that the article describes are cause for a bit of hope.

This paragraph, however, illustrated that the word conservative has become so elastic that it's meaningless:
We ended our time together by discussing current splits in the right. The differences between foreign-policy neoconservatives and paleoconservatives became acute after victory in the Cold War. In 2017 the spectrum of conservative thought in America runs from libertarians to neos to paleos to traditionalists to nation-state populists all the way to the alt-right fringe. You have Senator Jeff Flake and his Conscience of a Conservative on one hand, and Steve Bannon and Breitbart.com on the other. The various claimants to the conservative throne each have problems.[emphasis mine]
The only way this list could be more inclusive is if it contained "Appalachian snake handling glossolalians who are also members of Opus Dei."

More importantly, first the connotation of the word "fringe" implies that the author of the piece doesn't consider the "alt-right" conservative. Their populist rhetoric certainly indicates that the only thing that makes them conservative is that they consider the word "liberal" a pejorative. Given the current kerfuffle over National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, the alt-right seems more willing to break conservatives' bones than it does to break bread with them.

Further, the list left off social conservatives. Libertarians who want everything legal as long as no one is defrauded or physically harmed and the social conservatives who want legislation that clearly defines which toilet a person uses do not seem to share the same philosophical spaces.

In some ways, it's poetic justice. Elements of the conservative movement distorted the word liberal until it became an epithet. Now, conservatives can self-identify and the term can apply to those who want to extend the American empire and those who want to erect trade barriers can both be conservatives makes the word vacuous.