Friday, December 31, 2010

Feminism Explained

This is as good an explanation of contemporary, second wave feminism as I've heard. Enjoy!

How Accurate Have Global Warming Predictions Been So Far?

This is a reasonable question, is it not? After all, the heart of what differentiates experimental science (the kind that makes technology work) from other forms of human wisdom is that its theories make predictions that come true and are observed to do so.

So when the AGW alarmist crowd sternly proclaims that the "science is settled," I want to know first if it even is "science" and if it is not based on theories about the empirical world that make predictions that can be observed to come true then it is not science.

Fox News has a nice compilation of previous predictions made by environmental alarmists (alarmist = one who claims that we are in a crisis and must act immediately to avoid catastrophe). The same folks who today are predicting a 20 foot rise in the ocean levels as the polar ice caps melt have been in the prediction business for several decades now and since many of their predictions have short time frames (otherwise they would not be scary enough to motivate panicked action on the part of governments), we can now look back and evaluate objectively how good their track record is.

As George W. Bush said: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

Here are the first few predictions in the article out of the eight it highlights. (Many many more can be discovered using Google.)

1. Within a few years "children just aren't going to know what snow is." Snowfall will be "a very rare and exciting event." Dr. David Viner, senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, interviewed by the UK Independent, March 20, 2000.

Ten years later, in December 2009, London was hit by the heaviest snowfall seen in 20 years. And just last week, a snowstorm

forced Heathrow airport to shut down, stranding thousands of Christmas travelers.

2. "[By] 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots…[By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers." Michael Oppenheimer, published in "Dead Heat," St. Martin's Press, 1990.

Oppenheimer told that he was trying to illustrate one possible outcome of failing to curb emissions, not making a specific prediction. He added that the gist of his story had in fact come true, even if the events had not occurred in the U.S.

"On the whole I would stand by these predictions -- not predictions, sorry, scenarios -- as having at least in a general way actually come true," he said. "There's been extensive drought, devastating drought, in significant parts of the world. The fraction of the world that's in drought has increased over that period."

3. "Arctic specialist Bernt Balchen says a general warming trend over the North Pole is melting the polar ice cap and may produce an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2000." Christian Science Monitor, June 8, 1972.

Ice coverage has fallen, though as of last month, the Arctic Ocean had 3.82 million square miles of ice cover -- an area larger than the continental United States -- according to The National Snow and Ice Data Center.

4. "Using computer models, researchers concluded that global warming would raise average annual temperatures nationwide two degrees by 2010." Associated Press, May 15, 1989.

Status of prediction: According to NASA, global temperature has increased by about 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1989. And U.S. temperature has increased even less over the same period.

5. "By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half." Life magazine, January 1970.

Life Magazine also noted that some people disagree, "but scientists have solid experimental and historical evidence to support each of the following predictions."

Air quality has actually improved since 1970. Studies find that sunlight reaching the Earth fell by somewhere between 3 and 5 percent over the period in question.

6. "If present trends continue, the world will be ... eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age." Kenneth E.F. Watt, in "Earth Day," 1970.

According to NASA, global temperature has increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1970.

How could scientists have made such off-base claims? Dr. Paul Ehrlich, author of "The Population Bomb" and president of Stanford University's Center for Conservation Biology, told that ideas about climate science changed a great deal in the the '70s and '80s.

"Present trends didn't continue," Ehrlich said of Watt's prediction. "There was considerable debate in the climatological community in the '60s about whether there would be cooling or warming … Discoveries in the '70s and '80s showed that the warming was going to be the overwhelming force."

Ehrlich told that the consequences of future warming could be dire.

Read the rest here.

Well, it could be dire, Prof. Ehrlich. Then again, it could be benign or a net benefit. Or trends could reverse again like they did in the 70s and 80s and global cooling could be the "crisis de jour." We really don't know and neither do the alarmists.

If AGW were based on science and if it were reasonable to act on the predictions of the IPCC alarmist crowd, then their past predictions would not be so utterly and completely off base.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

J. I. Packer on Francis Schaeffer

Thanks to Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds I came across this excellent piece by J. I. Packer on the life and influence of Francis Schaeffer called "No Little Person." Here is how it begins:

He was physically small, with a bulging forehead, furrowed brow, and goatee beard. Alpine knee-breeches housed his American legs, his head sank into his shoulders, and his face bore a look of bright abstraction. Nothing special there, you would think; a serious, resolute man, no doubt, maybe a bit eccentric, but hardly unique on that account. When he spoke, his English though clear was not elegant, and his voice had no special charm; British ears found it harsh, and if stirred he would screech from the podium in a way that was hard to enjoy. Nevertheless, what he said was arresting, however he might look or sound while saying it. It had firmness, arguing vision; gentleness, arguing strength; simple clarity, arguing mental mastery; and compassion, arguing an honest and good heart. There was no guile in it, no party narrowness, no manipulation, only the passionate persuasiveness of the prophet who hurries in to share with others what he himself sees.

I knew him slightly, and admired him tremendously. I remember him as a great man, and wish I could have spent more time in his company. Yet anyone who reads his books ends up knowing him pretty well, and that at least I have done.

Francis Schaeffer was an important evangelical: that is, an evangelical of importance to evangelicals, as well as to others. He saw himself, so he tells us, as an evangelist. He has been accused (I think, unjustly) of trying to be a pioneer theoretician in philosophy and apologetics. He has been applauded (again, I think, unjustly) for trying to foster a Christian renewal of the fine arts, as if a program in aesthetics was the heart of his work. But his concern under God, it seems to me, was for people as people rather than for procedures or products. Therefore I think it is truest to call him a prophet-pastor, a well-informed Bible-based visionary who by the light of his vision sought out and shepherded the Lord's sheep.

In that role he had influence. Under God, he changed people. Among evangelicals he became an opinion-maker, a consciousness-raiser, and a conscience-stirrer, particularly regarding abortion on demand, for which the Roe v. Wade decision laid the foundation in 1973. More than three million books have been sold, and his complete works in five volumes, first published in 1982, have gone through five printings in three years. L'Abri (French for "the shelter"), the international study center that he founded in Switzerland, has replicated itself in England, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United States, and L'Abri seminars and conferences, plus the showing of L'Abri films made by his son Franky, have become a regular part of today's Christian scene. Schaeffer himself spoke frequently to prestigious gatherings in prestigious places, and was noticed outside evangelical circles as an evangelical leader.

Packer notes seven things Schaeffer did that Evangelicals in the 1960s were not doing:

First, with his flair for didactic communication he coined some new and pointed ways of expressing old thoughts (the "true truth" or revelation, the "mannishness" of human beings, the "upper story" and "lower story" of the divided Western mind, etc.).

Second, with his gift of empathy he listened to and dialogued with the modern secular world as it expressed itself in literature and art, which most evangelicals were too cocooned in their own subculture to do.

Third, he threw light on the things that today's secularists take for granted by tracing them, however sketchily, to their source in the history of thought, a task for which few evangelicals outside the seminaries had the skill.

Fourth, he cherished a vivid sense of the ongoing historical process of which we are all part, and offered shrewd analysis of the Megatrends-Future Shock type concerning the likely effect of current Christian and secular developments.

Fifth, he felt, focused, and dwelt on the dignity and tragedy of sinful human beings rather than their grossness and nastiness.

Sixth, he linked the passion for orthodoxy with a life of love to others as the necessary expression of gospel truth, and censured the all-too-common unlovingness of front-line fighters for that truth, including the Presbyterian separatists with whom in the thirties he had thrown in his lot.

Seventh, he celebrated the wholeness of created reality under God, and stressed that the Christian life must be a corresponding whole—that is, a life in which truth, goodness, and beauty are valued together and sought with equal zeal. Having these emphases institutionally incarnated at L'Abri, his ministry understandably attracted attention. For it was intrinsically masterful, and it was also badly needed.

Read the rest here.

Schaeffer was one of the first authors whose books I devoured during high school and college. He, along with John R. W. Stott and C. S. Lewis, probably had more influence on me than any others during that period of my life.

Regrettably, somewhere along the way I fell into the habit of looking down on Schaeffer as if "Evangelist" were an inferior calling to that of "Professor" or as if Schaeffer could be dismissed as a "fundamentalist" and not an "up to date" Evangelical like us. Thankfully, I have outgrown such snobbishness and am prepared to recognize the greatness of the man who had late modernity (or postmodernity) pegged so accurately long before the rest of us had twigged to the level of degradation Western culture had reached.

I think that one of my New Year's resolutions will be to purchase the The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview and re-read them all in 2011.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Little "White" Lies May Be Bad, But Little "Green" Ones are Just Fine

In the movie An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore predicts that the ocean levels will rise by a catastrophic 20 feet "in the near future." The IPCC itself, the "Bible" of the AGW alarmist movement predicts that the ocean levels will rise by 3 feet over the next century. Gore and the IPCC report shared a Nobel Prize in 2007 and Gore was runner-up for Time's Person of the Year for 2007.

The question is why the gigantic discrepancy? After all, it is a huge discrepancy, not a little one. And, it should be noted, the IPCC prediction itself is catastrophic in its effect. If ocean levels rose 3 feet it would be a catastrophe for most of the world's coastal areas and therefore most of the world's population. But, on the other hand, if they rose that much over a 100 year period, many people would think (quite reasonably) that such a rise could be coped with by the use of technology like the Dutch have used to reclaim so much land from the sea.

If people believed that mankind could cope with global warming, they might very well be indisposed to spend trillions of Western taxpayer's dollars on schemes to enrich environmental entrepreneurs, environmental organizations and corrupt third world governments.

Also, the push toward world government by way of a global banking transactions tax overseen by the United Nations and other such drastic and Utopian plans cherished by the governing elites would be less attractive. Basically, people have to be panicked into socialist revolutions. This is why progressive, big government movements thrive on crises and manufacture them when they do not occur in sufficient level of urgency naturally. When Rahm Emmanuel made his famous comment "Never let a crisis go to waste" he was simply mouthing the conventional wisdom of the Left.

In light of this analysis, I found some comments made by Al Gore in an interview with Grist just before the movie An Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006 to be very enlightening.

There's a lot of debate right now over the best way to communicate about global warming and get people motivated. Do you scare people or give them hope? What's the right mix?

I think the answer to that depends on where your audience's head is. In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.

Over time that mix will change. As the country comes to more accept the reality of the crisis, there's going to be much more receptivity to a full-blown discussion of the solutions.

It is very interesting to note that, acccording to a study by the University of Colorado:
The actual sea level rise over the last eighteen years is 1.85 inches, which works out to 10.4 inches per century. This is similar to the 20th century's rise of 8 inches, but much less than the average rise of 4 feet per century for the last 10,000 years as glaciers left by the last ice age continue to melt.
Gore has basically admitted that he has lied by exaggerating the truth about the effects of global warming. Even the IPCC report, which he exaggerated by over 666% is itself projecting that the next 82 years or so will see the oceans rise by more than 3.6 times as much as they have been rising on average for the past 18 years. So the exaggeration is stupendously large, not just a slight overstatement.

But what is really disturbing is the apparent self-righteousness about lying to deceive the public into panicking as long as it is in a good cause. The problem is not simply that a politician is lying. That is bad enough. But Gore is not presenting himself as a politician but as a popularizer of "Science." So we are supposed to believe that "Science" is telling us what we ought to do about Global Warming. What we have here is the corruption of science for the purpose of creating a sense of crisis so that a left-wing agenda can be imposed from above without opposition.

This is just another way in which the Left is anti-science.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Devil's Delusion

David Berlinski's The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions (NY: Basic Books, 2009) is a delightful piece of polemical writing: witty, concise, clear, funny and devastating. It is a relatively easy book to read, considering the amount of highly technical and abstract theoretical physics and advanced mathematics it treats.

Berlinski takes no prisoners and pulls no punches; he dares to call the bluff of leading scientists as to why, given that science seems more and more to point to a Creator, they insist that this must not be allowed to be admitted. As a secular Jew, Berlinski himself is not actually arguing for theism. Instead he is arguing that it is abuse of science to claim that science either disproves God's existence or renders God's existence irrelevant to cosmology. It is the pretentiousness of turning science into a faith system - which is really little more than old-fashioned village atheism - that offends Berlinski's sensibilities. Why should such a grand and glorious human achievement as modern experimental science be degraded in this way? His answer is that it ought not to be so.

Berlinski's explanation of the Big Bang theory of the beginning of the universe is perspicuous and suggestive (pp. 69-78). But what is utterly fascinating is the discussion of the reaction of physicists to the obvious fact that what science has discovered about the beginning of the universe looks exactly like what the Book of Genesis says about the beginning of the universe, or, as Berlinski carefully phrases it: "The hypothesis of God's existence and the facts of contemporary cosmology are consistent."

The response of scientists was to assume that there had to be a way to explain the beginning of the universe without resorting to that hypothesis. The Church of Atheism needed to do apologetics against the believers' inferences from the facts of science. Berlinski stresses something that anyone who believes in original sin would never think to deny: that personal motivations function in the directions of theoretical thought chosen by individuals. Yes, there are facts; but there are many ways to explain those facts.

Berlinski discusses the Anthropic Principle and the theory of multiple universes (the Landscape) in order to show the degree to which some scientists are willing to go to avoid "You Know Who." One of the most interesting questions discussed in the book is the one posed to Neil Turok by Joel Primack: "What is it that makes the electrons continue to follow the laws?" (p. 132) Obviously, something seems to compel physical objects to obey the laws of nature. But, as Berlinski notes, "neither compulsion nor obedience are physical ideas."

Anyone familiar with St. Augustine's Christianized Neoplatonism would not only know the answer, but also would recognize that a science which purports to be hot on the trail of the unified "theory of everything" should not omit a search for the answer to this question. It is time for Christian theology to move from the defensive to the offensive in the war between naturalism and theism. Science is on our side; scientism is not science. And if scientific fact is best explained with reference both to physical and theological ideas, well, what else would a Christian expect?

The Devil's Delusion is a terrific book and I highly recommend it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Edu-babble" and the Culture of Death

Our Canadian public education has been politicized and taken over by cultural Marxists and so-called progressive educators who are out to destroy traditional metaphysics, traditional epistemology and traditional morality. Since they do not believe in truth or good and evil, they are necessarily more concerned about social engineering and in conditioning children than in empowering them by teaching knowledge. This is not merely a problem in that it gives children an inferior education; it is far worse than that. This kind of education leads to the culture of death.

Here is a story from the National Post by Kenyon Wallace entitled "The Problem with Edu-babble" about a teacher who gets it.

The inklings that much of the educational dogma being taught at teachers' college might not actually work in schools began to form even before Michael Zwaagstra set foot in a classroom of his own.

It wasn't that the young student-teacher felt he knew better than his University of Manitoba faculty of education professors, or that the overconfidence of youth had taken hold. It was more of a feeling that the in vogue, so-called "progressive" ideologies and unwavering but nebulous theories about how best to teach our kids simply wouldn't prove practical when staring at a class full of uninterested teenagers.

"When I took subjects outside the education faculty, it was great because I was actually learning about the subjects in question," he says. "But I remember thinking in my education classes that what we were learning — the de-emphasis on conveying knowledge in favour of becoming more of a 'guide on the side' — just didn't jibe with what I thought would make sense."

Ten years on, Mr. Zwaagstra is now a high school social studies teacher at Green Valley School in Grunthal, Man., a small town about an hour southeast of Winnipeg. He's had plenty of time to test the education philosophies he was force-fed while at university. His conclusion? They don't work, and we will continue to fail our kids if we don't change the way we teach and the way public education systems are administered.

Mr. Zwaagstra has collected his grievances in What's Wrong With Our Schools and How We Can Fix Them, a new book he co-authored with two of his former professors at the University of Manitoba's education faculty, Rod Clifton and John Long.

As its title suggests, the book attempts to provide what the authors call "common-sense solutions" in short chapters designed to provide parents with a crash-course in the contemporary Canadian classroom. The book touches on a number of controversial practices that have made headlines recently, including no-fail and no-test policies, the spread of "edu-babble" in curricula and a diminishing of teachers' authority in the classroom.

The most significant hurdle facing students, Mr. Zwaagstra argues, is a pervasive anti-knowledge bias that resists the teaching of specific, common content. The "child-centred learning" philosophy expects teachers to tailor instruction to the individual needs of each student while making the experience "fun," instead of teaching facts--the building blocks he believes should be in place before higher-level concepts can be taught.

Read the rest here.

The Nature of the Problem
The most interesting part of his critique is his accusation that teacher's colleges are dominated by an "anti-knowledge bias." The irony is just too much to bear: educators biased against knowledge.

I can accept a society in which the media is image-oriented and entertainment-oriented. I can accept that children will have many distractions and hindrances to education in a high tech, wired and image-driven environment like our contemporary society. I can even accept that teaching techniques will need to change in such an environment and that there can be new and non-traditional ways of reaching the goals of education. What I can never accept is educators themselves renouncing the goal of teaching our children knowledge - both the actual content of various subjects and the skills needed to continue learning independently like literacy, numeracy, research ability and logic.

"Edu-babble" arises out of a relativistic, late-modern, constructivist epistemology that is based on a nominalist metaphysics that is demonstrably false and which, if accepted by a society leads inexorably to the culture of death. Modern Western culture is a culture of death because it has lost its grasp on absolute Truth and succumbed to the "dictatorship of relativism." And relativism quickly melts before the tyranny of the will of the strong and the result is that killing comes to be seen as the solution to social problems. Only a rational metaphysics in which the human reason participates in the Divine Logos is sufficient to undergird an epistemology in which we can know truth from error, right from wrong and good from evil.

The Practical Solution
The teacher's unions have been taken over by leftist activists; there can be no solution to this problem until their power is broken. The top-down approach to educational philosophy must be replaced by a bottom-up approach in which the grassroots are empowered to make decisions at the local level. We should settle for nothing less that a voucher system that allows parents to choose the schools that they believe to be best for their children.

Schools should be governed by parents councils which hire principals who are empowered to hire, evaluate and, where necessary, fire teachers. This way various philosophies can compete on a level playing field as far as funding is concerned and the reality-based educational philosophies will quickly become popular and crowd out the "progressive" ones.

This may sound radical but it is very practical and realistic. It could be implemented tomorrow if it were not for the tremendous political power wielded by teachers unions who act in the self-interest of union leaders while pretending to be acting in the best interests of teachers and students. This is why the teachers unions must be smashed to bits. One can only pray that what is going on in New Jersey with Gov. Chris Christie's crusade against the teachers unions on behalf of taxpayers, parents and children will not only succeed but be emulated all over North America.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Carter Family!

I can only hope that everyone has had as blessed and joyous Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as I have had. I sit here typing this post while munching on lemon pie!

Our whole family is here including the two new granddaughters God has blessed us with this year. Aliza will be 6 months old on Jan. 12 and Ariana was 4 months old on Christmas Eve. Their mothers (my two daughters) and their husbands are here with us for the holidays.

Beth, Chris and Aliza, along with our third grandchild, Isaac who was 2 years old in September, are here from Alberta where they serve as missionaries with Africa Inland Mission. While living in Alberta they serve a Provincial Mobilizers and Chris is a student at Prairie School of Missionary Aviation as he prepares for service in Kenya with AIM as a pilot.

Becky, Dennis and Ariana live in Toronto but are traveling frequently to Germany this year as Becky does research for her Ph.D. in German history. Dennis is on paternity leave to look after Ariana as they travel and Becky does archival research.

Stephen is home from his church work up north with a Fellowship Baptist Church plant in Iroquois Falls, Ontario.

Our house is full of laughter, baby noises and conversation. How beautiful these three children and how they fill our lives with joy and blessing. Thank God for digital cameras!

After the kids are in bed, we are trying to watch the Lord of the Rings movies because Isaac is too young to watch them. We plan to go the The Voyage of the Dawn Treader at the theater in shifts tomorrow with half of the adults acting as babysitters so the other half can go! We will all be together until the end of the first week of January, when Becky, Dennis and Ariana leave for Germany and Beth, Chris, Aliza and Isaac leave for Alberta.

At our Christmas Eve service we had people from our congregation from all over the world reading the Scripture in their own native languages with the English translation on the Powerpoint slides. We had people from India, Brazil, Peru, Greece, China, Malaysia and Korea reading in Hindi, Tamil, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, Cantonese, Malay and Korean. We even sang Silent Night in Korean using a phonetic version of the Korean version on Powerpoint.

Two of the speakers spoke of the persecution of Christians in their home countries. One couple just returned home from two years of work in Mainland China. Since they spoke the language, they were able to get to know ordinary people, some of whom were members of the underground church. It was extremely moving to hear of the concern for these dear, persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ for us in North America. They pray for us that we would be faithful. It was humbling.

Another moving part was the person who read in the Malayan language from a Bible that has just been translated for the first time into that language. She just got it this week and it is the first time she has ever read the Bible in her native language. The Malaysian government, which is Islamic, has banned this Bible because it used the Arabic word "Allah" for God. They have recently confiscated and burned thousands of copies of it; there is no religious freedom there as in much of the Muslim world. I fear we take what we have far too much for granted.

The feast today was wonderful - mostly thanks to my wonderful wife, Bonnie. The huge turkey was a gift from friends in our Church. What a great local church we have at Westney Heights Baptist.

We have so much to be thankful for: wealth, family, health, friends, a ministry - and most of all our dear Lord Jesus Christ who has given his life to save us from sin and give us eternal life. We wish these blessings for one and all this Christmas season. May God help us all to be like Scrooge after his conversion so that others say of us that no celebrates Christmas more enthusiastically than we do.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The War Against Christianity Continues in Quebec

The culture of death marches onward in Quebec and since religion is in the way it must be eliminated. Tasha Kheiridden has this article in today's National Post.

Christmas? Hannukah? Eid al-Adha? Bah humbug. In the spirit of the holiday season, the Quebec government has announced its intention to secularize daycares:

Starting in June, publicly funded daycares that teach a particular faith to their young charges risk losing their government funding.

“All questions touching the transmission of faith – that is, teaching religion itself – do not belong within the publicly funded daycare system,” Quebec Family Minister Yolande James said in an interview on Tuesday.

In other words, he who holds the purse strings calls the shots – and the government has decided that religion will get the heave-ho-ho for the toddler set. This brings home the point that if parents expect to get state subsidies, they will have to submit to state rules. Of course, if those rules are unreasonable, they should be modified. But the point is, you never know when they will become unreasonable: governments change, and a bureaucrat’s whim can become your three-year-old’s reality. . . .

If the Quebec government cut its daycare subsidy, which hit $2 billion in 2010-2011(along with many other parts of its bloated bureaucracy), it could give all citizens a tax break, thereby making other child care options – like staying home with your child – more affordable. Alternatively, it could means-test daycare subsidies to low-income parents, as opposed to making them a universal benefit, and thereby cut down on the cost of the program to taxpayers. It could also offer income splitting to families, by which parents would save money and apply it to the child care model of their choice. But then the state might see a large swath of its toddlers singing religious Christmas carols, or painting pictures of Menorahs. Heaven forbid!

It might also see a more successful, well-adjusted generation of children. In a study published in October 2010 by the Montreal-based think tank CIRANO, researchers concluded that Quebec’s emphasis on daycare has led to worse learning outcomes:

“… More preschool children are in non-parental childcare at a younger age and the intensity of childcare has increased over the years….. the evidence presented shows that the policy has not enhanced school readiness or child early literacy skills in general, with negative significant effects on the (picture and vocabulary test)scores of children aged 5 and possibly negative for children of age 4.’’

For families, choosing care free of government subsidies, or working fewer hours so one or both parents can care for their children themselves, both mean less money for other things. Of course, it also means that their children will be raised in accordance with their parents’ values, in a setting over which they have more control, and where, apparently, they learn better. The Quebec government’s latest expression of the nanny-state is a reminder that, just like with health care, there is no “free ride”. When we relinquish choice, we all pay – and unfortunately, so do our kids.

Classical Liberalism and individual choice are dead in Quebec. The province increasingly follows the European model of utter secularism as a totalitarian ideology that seeks to eradicate religion, inculcate relativism and make the State an overbearing, interfering entity with Divine pretensions.

So much for freedom of religion - at least for Christians and Jews. There is only room for one god and one religion in a secularist society and that is the religion of State-worship. Thus the idea of the West ends in the daycares of Quebec not with a bang but with the whimper of toddlers of the state bereft of their heritage, their religion and their freedom.

The Implications of the Repeal of DADT for the Church

The US military, like all Western institutions, used to regard homosexuality as a mental disorder and indulgence in homosexual acts as morally evil. Then came the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s and the affirmation of non-procreative sex with the sole object of pleasure for the participants became a widely-accepted cultural norm.

This blurring of the distinction between marital and non-marital sex quickly resulted in the social legitimization of many deviant behaviors such as pre-marital sex, cohabitation, prostitution, polyamory, the hook-up culture, no-fault divorce, serial monogamy, polyamory, polygamy and, eventually, homosexuality.

American society remains deeply divided, however, over the issue of marriage with many Jewish, Evangelical and Catholic Christians, as well as many others, seeking to uphold the ideal of marriage as the only proper place for human sexual expression. This position is becoming more and more difficult to maintain because the widespread acceptance of artificial contraception since the 1960s has blurred the clear distinction between marital (procreative) and non-marital (pleasure for its own sake) sexual activity.

Nevertheless, the attempt has been made to draw the line at marriage. In order to affirm traditional marriage, however, it is necessary to continue to reject all forms of non-marital sex including homosexuality.

Up to this point, the US military has remained neutral on the question of whether homosexuality is a good lifestyle and commendable. While other institutions such as the universities and the trade unions have embraced the logic of the sexual revolution and degraded traditional marriage to the level of merely one option among many others for how humans might choose to express themselves sexually, the military has taken no position and left it up to individuals. This is a classically liberal position.

But now, the US military officially approves of homosexuality as a good way of life and views traditional marriage as merely one option among many equally good ways of expressing human sexuality. So non-marital sex - sex with no goal other than pleasure for pleasure's sake - is officially endorsed as good.

What are the implications of this sea-change in a major American institution?

1. Official government approval of same-sex "marriage" as the same thing as traditional marriage is now inevitable and imminent. Make no mistake, the pro-sexual revolution activists have won a major victory and will not be slow to follow up on it. At yesterday's press conference Obama was already signaling his imminent capitulation to same-sex "marriage."

2. The traditional morality of Jews and Christians may still be held by individuals in private, but as far as the US military is concerned it cannot be the basis of military policy. This means that homosexuals must henceforth be treated equally to heterosexuals and this has millions of practical implications. For starters, homosexuals will be preferred in promotion so that there can be "equality" in leadership. Homosexuals will also have all the rights heterosexuals have and this will impact everything from pensions to housing to marriages performed by chaplains. Will dissenting chaplains be permitted to follow conscience and refuse to perform same-sex "marriages" or (in the intermim) civil unions? Of course not and if so only for a short interim period. Eventually, the chaplain corps will have to be all pro-homosexual. Southern Baptists can forget about the military.

3. We have already seen calls for dissenters who still believe in traditional marriage to be removed from command and this is just the beginning. In fact, this is why activists sought the repeal of DADT: so they could conduct witch hunts against dissenters and impose their (im)morality on everyone. They are not liberal; they are totalitarian. They will not tolerate any questioning of their "Truth."

4. Evangelical and Catholic chaplains gradually will be pressured to conform (burn the pinch of incense to Caesar) or else be disciplined and eventually forced out. You won't see this happen too quickly lest the frog jump out of the kettle but a gradual, steady, increasing pressure will be applied. If the pressure is too quick, the military might see mass resignations of many of its brightest and best in solidarity with its chaplains and even the resignations of 5-10% of key personal could cripple its war-fighting ability.

Don't think that has been thought about and prepared for. Tremendous pressure will be applied to persuade soldiers to remain in place to defend their country even at the cost of their own personal religious convictions. This will place hundreds of thousands of soldiers in a horrible, moral dilemma and will seem like a no-win situation for them.

5. The imposition of the (im)morality of the sexual revolution upon the military is a direct and powerful attack on the middle class, Evangelical church in America designed to split it down the middle and weaken it. The same is true of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholics and Evangelicals stand in the way of the sexual revolution bulldozer and they must be weakened and eventually marginalized. The strategy is to separate Catholic laity from their bishops - as we saw in the health care debate over abortion - and to split the Evangelicals into pro-homosexuality and anti-homosexuality groups. What you cannot destroy, at least weaken to the point where it will self-destruct.

The implosion of Evangelicalism over homosexuality is a very real possibility and the unity of the Roman Catholic Church in America is is real peril. Christian unity will be tested in the day ahead to a degree not seen since the rise of the German Christians in the 1930s.

Islamofascists Attack Christmas in Britain

The Daily Mail reports that a campaign of hateful, disgusting, blasphemous anti-Christmas posters have been put up in London by an Islamofascist group that wants to stamp out Christianity and take over Britain by imposing sharia law.

Fanatics from a banned Islamic hate group have launched a nationwide poster campaign denouncing Christmas as evil.

Organisers plan to put up thousands of placards around the UK claiming the season of goodwill is responsible for rape, teenage pregnancies, abortion, promiscuity, crime and paedophilia.

They hope the campaign will help 'destroy Christmas' in this country and lead to Britons converting to Islam instead.

Labour MP and anti racist campaigner Jim Fitzpatrick branded the posters 'extremely offensive' and demanded they were immediately ripped down.

The placards, which have already appeared in parts of London, feature an apparently festive scene with an image of the Star of Bethlehem over a Christmas tree.

But under a banner announcing 'the evils of Christmas' it features a message mocking the song the 12 Days of Christmas. It reads: 'On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me an STD (sexually transmitted disease). On the second day debt, on the third rape, the fourth teenage pregnancies and then there was abortion.'

According to the posters, Christmas is also to responsible for paganism, domestic violence, homelessness, vandalism, alcohol and drugs.

Another offence of Christmas, it proclaims, is 'claiming God has a son'.

The bottom of the poster declares: 'In Islam we are protected from all of these evils. We have marriage, family, honour, dignity, security, rights for man, woman and child.'

The campaign's organiser is 27-year-old Abu Rumaysah, who once called for Sharia Law in Britain at a press conference held by hate preacher leader Anjem Choudary, the leader of militant group Islam4UK.

Former Home Secretary Alan Johnson banned Islam4UK group earlier this year, making it a criminal offence to be a member, after it threatened to protest at Wootton Bassett, the town where Britain honours its war dead.

Mr Rumaysah told the Mail that he was unconcerned about offending Christians. He said: 'Christmas is a lie and as Muslims it is our duty to attack it.

In Muslim-dominated countries Christians are not even allowed to celebrate Christmas or practice their faith openly and freely. The Associated Press reports:

KIRKUK, Iraq -- Iraqi Christians on Wednesday called off Christmas festivities across the country as al-Qaida insurgents threatened more attacks on a beleaguered community still terrified from a bloody siege at a Baghdad church two months earlier.

A council representing Christian denominations across Iraq advised its followers to cancel public Christmas celebrations out of concern over new terror attacks and as a show of mourning for the victims of the church siege and other violence.

There is something desperately wrong with a multiculturalism that cannot distinguish between immigrants who want to come into Western countries and adopt a Western lifestyle and those who only want to come as invaders determined to overthrow our freedoms and impose the same kind of religious theocracy as exists in the poor, backward, totalitarian societies they are coming from. There should be zero tolerance for anyone who wishes to come to the West in order to work as a subversive fifth column seeking to overthrow the West.

Moreover, the West should demand reciprocity for every freedom offered to Muslims in the West by way of increased tolerance for Christians in Muslim countries such as the Middle Eastern states. Even atheists and agnostics should support this idea because they should realize that the kind of liberal, democratic society that we have in the West today is the result of 2000 years of Christian heritage. Islam does not produce free societies and neither do the Eastern religions. Only the Judeo-Christian culture produces the kind of societies in which there is freedom of the individual to believe or not believe according to one's conscience. This is an integral principle of Christianity and Christianity's gift to the world.

But, I suppose, the Left will welcome Muslim attacks on Christmas as yet another way of undermining the Christian heritage of the West in preparation for the revolution and the imposition of a dreary, Eastern totalitarianism.

I guess I wouldn't be worried about a few Muslim fanatics if only I had confidence in the ruling elites of Western societies not to cave in to pressure and give the fanatics what they want. They will feed the beast until it devours them and by that point it will be too late to say "I told you so."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Here are some snippets from Ezra Levant's latest terrific Sun column:

Michael Ignatieff’s Christmas card isn’t a Christmas card.

It’s a “holiday” card. It has a Jewish menorah on it, which is great. Fully 1% of Canadians are Jewish and though Hanukkah was three weeks ago, it’s a nice thought.

The card has some snowflakes on it, too, and mittens and a gingerbread man (or a ghost, it’s not clear). Those are symbols of winter. Which is great, because it is winter time.

But there’s not a single Christian symbol on the card, the religion of the majority of Canadians. It’s the faith our Queen Elizabeth is officially the “defender” of, the religion that inspired the names of so many places in this country, from the St. Lawrence Seaway to St. John’s.

It is the religion whose cross adorns the coats of arms of almost every province, the religion from whose Bible comes Canada’s motto, “From sea to sea.” Our anthem asks God to keep our land, and the French version says we will “carry the cross.”

Even the Charter of Rights begins with the reminder that neither judges nor politicians are at the apex of Canadian society, but rather both are under the “supremacy of God.

Then, after discussing how Jack Layton expressed such heartfelt and respectful feelings toward Islam including saying that "we" want to renew the spirit and faith of Islam, Levant ends by saying:
Could you imagine him or Ignatieff or frankly most Conservative MPs saying they want to extend Christ’s blessings throughout Canada? The mainstream media would have an embolism — remember when Stephen Harper dared to say “God Bless Canada” after his speeches — and the Canadian Human Rights Commission would launch a hate-speech investigation.

Canada is a Christian country. Thank God that it is. Because it is precisely that Christian spirit of tolerance and charity that has accepted millions of refugees from countries that are less enlightened — and that don’t value freedom of religion for anyone.

Queen Elizabeth isn’t the only head of state who is also the head of a religious institution. So is King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who enforces the Koran as that country’s constitution. Iran is called the Islamic Republic of Iran, etc.

Which is precisely why the flow of refugees is from enslaved Arabia to the Christian West, and not the other way around.

Levant has it exactly right. The politically correct posture of pretending that Canada is as much an Islamic country as it is a Christian country is just that: cheap posturing. It is an insult to the majority of people in this country as well as a slight to its heritage.

It is precisely the Judeo-Christian heritage of Canada that has made it a beacon of light and a destination for those fleeing poverty and oppression. Tolerance was invented by the Christian culture of the West, not by Islamic culture, which remains totalitarian in most Islamic countries to this day. Immigrants get that. Ezra Levant, a Jew, gets that. We need some political leaders who are not so utterly hostile to Christianity that they get it too.

"Climate Change" is Not Falsifiable and Thus Not Science

When both warmer winters and colder winters prove the same thing and when the theory is regarded as "settled science" just as much when its predictions are refuted as when they are confirmed, then you know we are not dealing with real science.

The difference between real, hard science and non-science is that real science consists of theories and laws that can be empirically verified. Here is how: a truly scientific assertion generates predictions which can be compared to actual data collected after the prediction and which can be used to confirm or falsify the prediction.

The Global Warming Alarmists claim that AGW (anthopogenic global warming) is scientifically "proven." But the predictions made on the basis of the theory have not come true, so in an a version of the old shell game the shift is being made from "Global Warming" to "Climate Change," which is, when you think carefully about it, not falsifiable. As long as the climate changes, "Climate Change" is proven. How can that not happen? Global Warming has been dropped like a hot potato because it is too precise and can be refuted by facts, so "Climate Change" suits the purpose much better.

Richard North at EU Referendum provides the relevant data which shows why "Global Warming" has proven so embarrassing that the global governance, neo-Marxists have largely abandoned it overnight. He writes:
The foolish Moonbat, along with his colleagues is plumbing new depths of stupidity, insisting in the loathsome Guardian that the "unusually cold winters" are caused by global warming.

It is not that he does not have a case (even if it is not very good). What makes him so deservedly look the fool it that he, alongside the climate establishment, has spent the last decade or more trying to convince us that milder winters are a sure sign of global warming. Now, in the manner of Winston Smith, Moonbat seems to believe that he can rewrite history and we will not notice.

The problem for him is that the global warming industry has been so unequivocal in its certainty that milder winters were a sign of climate change. On 4 June 1999, for instance, Science Daily was reporting on a Nature paper, stating that a team of scientists from Columbia University had shown that warm winters in the northern hemisphere "likely can be explained by the action of upper-atmosphere winds that are closely linked to global warming".
North goes on to document in painstaking detail how adamant the AGW Alarmists were in insisting on the "fact" that warmer winters prove AGW and how we were in for much warmer winters in the future.

For example, check out this article from The Independent with the headline: "Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past." It was written in March of 2000.

Donna Laframboise explains why people like Richard North and James Delingpole are so mean to George Monbiot, the environmental writer for The Guardian. It isn't because poor old George was wrong; it is because he won't admit he was wrong and tries to brazen though all the dis-confirming evidence to assert that, no matter what the temperature is we have to have global governance and wealth redistribution in the name of fighting AGW. As long as he does this, he is going to face the following type of aggravation from Laframboise:

Similarly, George Monbiot’s 2006 book was titled Heat. Its subtitle was not: How to Stop the Planet from Freezing. Rather, it insisted the planet was in danger of burning. A year earlier, in a Guardian newspaper column, Monbiot told readers that “The freezes this country suffered in 1982 and 1963 are…unlikely to recur.”

As the final two weeks of 2010 count down, reality is not being kind to these prognosticators. Instead of sugar dustings of snow and mild temperatures, many parts of the world are in the grip of another unusually harsh winter:

The question we are left with is this: if AGW is not science, what is it? I suppose the kindest answer is a weird combination of urban legend, modern cult and neo-Marxist front organization. In any case, it is over as far as reasonable people are concerned.

Why Did They Change It from "Global Warming" to "Climate Change?"

Well, maybe this post from "Watts Up with That" entitled "Red Faces at the Met Office" can help explain the answer to that question. Here is an excerpt:
Let’s hope Santa isn’t relying on weather forecasts from the U.K. Met Office. The British deep freeze of recent weeks (which has also immobilized much of continental Europe) is profoundly embarrassing for the official forecaster. Just two months ago it projected a milder than usual winter. This debacle is more than merely embarrassing. The Met Office is front and centre in rationalizing the British government’s commitment to fight catastrophic man-made global warming with more and bigger bureaucracy, so its conspicuous errors raise yet more questions about that “settled” science. –-Peter Foster, Financial Post, 22 December 2010
This post contains a response from the Met Office and a number of links to other sites. Read it all here.

As Britain struggles to shovel out (yet again) people are wryly suggesting that a little global warming would feel jolly good right about now. Could we please release a bit more CO2 and warm things up a little?

The Screw Turns: Maybe the "American Empire" Wasn't So Bad After All

Niles Gardner, writing in his Daily Telegraph blog this morning expresses the second thoughts many Europeans are having over the fact that their wish has come true and the White House is now occupied by someone who does not believe in American Exceptionalism or an active role for American power worldwide. All those anti-American, European Leftists, cowering in safety under the US nuclear shield, who decried "Globalization," "American hegemony" and "the American Empire" have had their wish come true.

As 2010 draws to a close, the United States faces a world that is ever more dangerous, with the looming spectre of a nuclear-armed Iran in the Middle East, a resurgent and increasingly aggressive Russia in Europe, a rising totalitarian power in the East in the form of China, a malevolent rogue state in North Korea, and the global threat of Islamist terrorism. Yet Washington seems almost passive in the face of these huge challenges, with an administration whose focus is overwhelmingly upon domestic politics, and lacking any coherent long-term vision in maintaining America’s place as the world’s superpower.

Last week The Times of London summed up the fears of many US allies in an editorial on the passing of veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, when it lamented America’s lack of leadership in the face of its competitors:

America today is arguably less convinced in its moral mission than at any time in the past century. This unease spreads to its natural allies worldwide. As global power shifts, and other growing economic powers learn to flex their might, the West appears increasingly uncertain in its occasional role as the world’s policeman.

The Times makes a strong point. With Ronald Reagan you knew clearly where America stood, and it what it stood for, with the key goal of building up America’s military might, and defeating the Soviet Empire. More recently under George W. Bush, the presidency had a twin strategy in foreign policy of advancing liberty across the world, while waging war against al-Qaeda and its backers.

With Barack Obama there appears to be no great moral cause which drives his foreign policy, no overarching strategy for enhancing American global power, no concept of a global war against Islamist militants, and no desire to strengthen America’s defences. In fact Obama’s approach to international affairs is the exact opposite of Reagan’s. It is based upon a naïve belief that America’s enemies can be won over through “engagement” rather than confronted with maximum strength . . .

Unlike Reagan, Obama does not even believe in American exceptionalism, and is not driven by a sense of American greatness and destiny as the leader of the free world. Nor does he appreciate the importance of preserving and building America’s alliances. For President Obama, the Anglo-American Special Relationship is an irritation rather than a centerpiece of Western leadership in the world. The Obama administration’s betrayal of America’s closest friend over the Falklands is something Reagan would have greatly deplored.

All that remains is for Obama to withdraw all US troops from Europe and dissolve NATO. Then the Europeans can see if it is possible to borrow enough on the bond market to fund the creation of a military strong enough to defend it from invaders from the East and Middle East. A nuclear Russia will want to assert itself in Eastern Europe again and a nuclear Iran will want to impose Islam on Europe at an even faster rate and we will see if Europe has the ability to maintain its cushy welfare state and defend its sovereignty at that same time.

Meanwhile, the US can retreat into isolationism as if it were the 19th century again and create "Fortress North America." Left-wingers can rejoice that now there is no one to prevent North Korea from conquering South Korea or prevent Israel from being destroyed by Muslims. China can assert its power over Africa, Indonesia can be radicalized and persecute Christians. Chavez can make Bolivia into a Stalinist hell-hole. Every tin-pot dictator in the world can become a nuclear power. And the list goes on.

What a great Utopian vision! What wonderful freedom and peace and justice will undoubtedly ensue once the Great Satan retreats into its fortress like Saruman holed up in a flooded Isengard. What great foolishness paraded as wisdom!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stanford Nutting Asks G. K. Chesterton a Question

Here is the latest from Stanford Nutting. He asks G. K. Chesterton what he thinks of the "new theology" with predictable results.

Global Warming Activism Does Not Lead to Greater Social Justice: Here is Why

Please watch this video. It presents the other side of the global warming issue in a humorous, yet serious, manner. The other side I am referring to is not the other side of the scientific debate about how much human activity is actually affecting climate change. I refer instead to the moral debate over how to respond to climate change.

The environmental movement claims the moral high ground and poses as a humanistic and altruistic movement for social justice. Actually, as Crowder argues, is it posturing, insincere and anti-human. It is a front for Marxism, which always promises the moon but delivers only misery.

If you care about the poor and social justice, please watch this video and get the other side of the story.

Religious Persecution of Christians Continues in Canadian Higher Education

Americans should be required to study what is going on in Canada in terms of religious persecution of Christians so that they won't be complacent enough to let happen there what has already happened here.

Many Canadian institutions have been taken over by narrow-minded, poorly-educated, left-wing activists and the trail of destruction they are leaving behind is sad and all the more so for being so unnecessary. The public school system, teacher's colleges, the CBC, the legal profession, the judiciary, the major political parties, the universities, the public sector unions and the mass media - all are becoming increasingly intolerant and leftist.

The result is that articles like this one by Peter Stockland now appear as a matter of course in major newspapers, in this case the Vancouver Sun. It discusses the sad spectacle of a left-wing labor union taking it upon itself to go on a search and destroy mission to eliminate the few remaining Christian universities from having even the opportunity to exist as dissenters to the left-wing consensus. The true mentality of the Left is exposed here as totalitarian in the name of a false tolerance. Tolerance as defined by the Left means essentially iconoclasm. Anything traditional, old, conservative, Western, religious or male must be questioned, undermined and finally overthrown. Anything socialist, new, left-wing, feminist or non-Western must be praised, supported with public money and used to replace the old. This is what tolerance means to the Left.

Peter Stockland describes the crusade of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) against residual Christian convictions within Canadian higher education:

When Canada's university leaders meet privately in Vancouver on Thursday to talk academic freedom, headline-grabbing incidents at schools such as Carleton, York and Waterloo will doubtless drive much discussion.

Abortion, Israel and aboriginal rights, not to mention arrests of yahoos locking themselves by their necks to fences, have a way of monopolizing the highest-minded conversation.

In reality, however, such events are town and gown conflicts -- university spaces hijacked by external partisans. They have little to do with true academic freedom.

As the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada engages in its Dialogue on Academic Freedom next week, it would do well to deal with a more egregious threat to scholarly liberty.

The AUCC should take sharp note of the assault being waged from with academe itself on the independence, and even existence, of Canada's faith-based universities.

Since 2006, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has been targeting small, private, accredited, and invariably Christian, universities. Its method is to emit vague accusations that codes of conduct of such institutions somehow violate CAUT's definition of academic freedom. It then appoints its own "commissioners" to "investigate" whether the schools are guilty as charged.

Last year, it used these tactics against Trinity Western University in the Fraser Valley. More recently, it has turned it sights on a Mennonite school in Manitoba, a Baptist academy in the Maritimes and similar Christian schools across Canada.

What's risible about CAUT's singling out of these Christian schools is that, by its own admission, it has absolutely no legislative or administrative authority to conduct such investigations.

So the academic freedom of Christian universities to have their own ethos and believe what they want must be taken away in the name of what? Of academic freedom, of course. When it comes to academic freedom, for the CAUT some (left-wing) animals have to be more free than the others, naturally. Orwell explained it to us a long time ago.

So why is CAUT doing this? Well, there is no reasonable answer to that question. Academic freedom is not under assault (well, at least it wasn't before the CAUT got involved). This issue is outside the mandate of the union. But the faculty members of private universities do not belong to CAUT: could that have anything to do with it?

It it the existence of something independent, different, outside the mainstream, not under the thumb of the powers that be that so rankles the CAUT collectivists? Is it that they resent anyone unenlightened enough to have the nerve to be different? Why don't they try tolerance as a policy?

Conservatives Accused of Wanting to Take Society Back to the 19th Century: Oh the Horror!

In a window into the weird and wonderful workings of the progressive mind, Chuck Schumer hurls a thunderbolt at the conservatives. They actually (gasp!) want to take us back to the 19th century. Actually, most conservatives would happily settle for the 1950s, but 19th century morality with 21st century prosperity works too.

He says in an interview on Good Morning America as reported in the Daily Caller:

On “Good Morning America” Monday, host George Stephanopoulos asked Sen. Charles Schumer how well he thought Barack Obama is working with Congress and what advice he’d give the president.

Schumer advised Obama against dealing with the “hard right,” arguing conservative Republicans aim to set the nation back centuries.

“My advice to the president is compromise when you can, but when people are being unreasonable, and we have hard right people who seem to be wanting to move us back to the 19th century, draw some lines in the sand and fight,”

Note: only members of the "hard left" call conservatives the "hard right." But hey, Chuck, we'll take the 19th century. To you that just means reversing the sexual revolution and getting rid of Marxism and that works for us.

Anything to get free of the mind-numbing, debauchery (both physical and intellectual) that scarred the 1960s and 70s. The cultural Marxism of the New Left and the ever-expanding welfare state would be gone. No more political correctness, second wave Feminism, mainstream porn, no-fault divorce, normalized homosexuality, leftist sex education in schools or crumbling inner cities devastated by welfare. No Holocaust, no Hiroshima, no Soviet Union, no Mao, no eugenics, no abortion on demand, no euthanasia - I'll take it any day.

You will have come up with a better doomsday scenario than that if you want to scare me, Chuck old boy.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Wikileak is Now on the Other Foot

From Lorne Gunter's piece in The National Post comes this "shooting fish in a barrel" slam on Julian Assange, who is upset about details of the Swedish rape allegations being "wikileaked." (Can you believe it?)

Hmm, let’s torture all the clichés up front: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones; those who live by the sword, die by the sword; the shoe is on the other foot; hoist on his own petard.

Friday, Britain’s Guardian newspaper released details from confidential Swedish police files that detail the evidence behind rape charges two Swedish women have levelled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and get this: Assange and his lawyers are outraged.

As the New York Daily News said of the master leaker and his legal team, “Irony is not their strong suit.”

That’s putting it mildly.

Bjorn Hurtig, Assange’s Swedish lawyer, reacted “It is with great concern that I hear about this because it puts Julian and his defence in a bad position.” He added “I do not like the idea that Julian may be forced into a trial in the media … I do not know who has given these documents to the media, but the purpose can only be one thing – trying to make Julian look bad.”

Seriously!? How can anyone connected with a man who has become famous from leaking confidential government documents intended to fry people in the media and make whole governments look bad actually have the audacity to say it’s unfair that documents about him be leaked?

And then to compound the hypocrisy, Assange’s lawyers and supporters are said to be shocked because the Guardian was one of the three media sources Assange made most of his leaks to. Look, if you marry a woman who was divorced by her first husband because she cheated on him with you, you can’t claim to be genuinely surprised if she later cheats on you with someone else. It’s the nature of the beast. Indeed, the Guardian is merely being professional in reporting what it was given in confidence by all sources in this case. Undoubtedly, the editors discussed the possibility that Assange would stop using them for his leaks if they reported the details of his confidential police file, but they were right not to play favourites.

As for the allegation that someone leaked these files to make Assange look bad: Duh.

Cliche alert! - What is good for the goose is good for the gander. All is fair in love as well as war.

All I can say is "Good for The Guardian." (Now there is a sentence I never thought I'd ever write!). If there were any justice in the world, not one word or action of Julian Assange's past life would remain private or hidden from public view now. Nothing.

Bill Kristol Goes Wobbly on "Don't Ask Don't Tell" or Why Social Conservatives are Not Giving Up on Opposing Homsexuality

I like The Weekly Standard very much and I agree with Bill Kristol on most issues. But this response to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is the lamest, most servile, most craven, least morally courageous and most strategically inept thing I have ever read from either Kristol or TWS.
Now that the lame duck Democratic Congress has repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), the new Congress will have to see to it that the Obama administration manages the implementation of repeal responsibly, and that the concerns of military leaders and troops are taken seriously. But over the next two years Congress can do something else. It can take an interest in ensuring that discrimination against ROTC on college campuses ends.

Though ROTC was kicked off campuses like Harvard, Yale and Columbia before gays in the military was ever an issue, DADT became the excuse offered by those universities in recent years for continuing to discriminate against ROTC. The excuse is gone.
This is the biggest punch in the gut to fusionism since Mitch Daniels ill-considered remarks about how we need a "truce" on social issues in order to focus on the economy. Kristol makes it sound like an opportunity rather than a resounding defeat for conservatism.

What both Daniels and Kristol well know, but appear to have forgotten, is that the conservative movement consists of an alliance of libertarians, foreign policy hawks, fiscal conservatives and social conservatives.

If Kristol, Daniels or anyone else in the conservative movement thinks that embracing homosexuality as normal, instead of resisting it tooth and nail, is the way for the conservative movement to prosper they are badly mistaken. That way lies splintering, loss of influence and progressivist triumph.

Giving up the military to the control of cultural Marxism is to surrender one of the last conservative institutions in America to the Left and it merely solidifies the hegemony of the Left on American culture. When Evangelical and Catholic chaplains start being hounded out of the military for repeating what the Bible teaches, social conservatives will not forget that eight Republicans voted for this fiasco and this disgraceful fact will have consequences as the Tea Party movement considers how to approach the 2012 primaries.

Pope Benedict on the Roots of the Sexual Abuse Scandal

Catholic liberals and secularist alike delight in bashing the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope and traditional theology using the child sexual abuse scandal as a club. They seek to imply that, somehow, conservative moral theology is the problem and that if only the Church adopted liberal theology then all would be well.

There is absolutely no evidence in favor of this tendentious claim and much against it. In his annual Christmas address to the Curia, Pope Benedict XVI explains why it is not conservative moral theology and its commitment to absolute principles of morality, but the abandonment of these things things which is at the root of the problem.

In the vision of Saint Hildegard, the face of the Church is stained with dust, and this is how we have seen it. Her garment is torn – by the sins of priests. The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year. We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again. This is also the moment to offer heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help victims and to restore their trust in the Church, their capacity to believe her message. In my meetings with victims of this sin, I have also always found people who, with great dedication, stand alongside those who suffer and have been damaged. This is also the occasion to thank the many good priests who act as channels of the Lord’s goodness in humility and fidelity and, amid the devastations, bear witness to the unforfeited beauty of the priesthood.

We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society. The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times. From Bishops of developing countries I hear again and again how sexual tourism threatens an entire generation and damages its freedom and its human dignity. The Book of Revelation includes among the great sins of Babylon – the symbol of the world’s great irreligious cities – the fact that it trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities (cf. Rev 18:13). In this context, the problem of drugs also rears its head, and with increasing force extends its octopus tentacles around the entire world – an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it.

In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a "better than" and a "worse than". Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today. Against them, Pope John Paul II, in his 1993 Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, indicated with prophetic force in the great rational tradition of Christian ethos the essential and permanent foundations of moral action. Today, attention must be focussed anew on this text as a path in the formation of conscience. It is our responsibility to make these criteria audible and intelligible once more for people today as paths of true humanity, in the context of our paramount concern for mankind.

Here are a few observations:

First, is it not startling that in discussing this issue the Pope should be driven to quoting the Book of Revelation? Clearly, he sees the threat to the Church's witness as extremely serious and indicative of a great setback in spiritual warfare.

Second, Pope Benedict XVI goes back to the roots of the child sexual abuse scandal by referring to the rise of consequentialist thinking and the denial of the existence of objective right and wrong in the post-Vatican II rush to embrace secular and progressive thinking in the Roman Catholic Church.

Third, it is instructive to note that he highlights Pope John Paul II's great encyclical Veritatis Splendor and calls it "prophetic." In this encyclical, John Paul II forcefully and beautifully proclaims the permanent and objective character of moral truth in contradistinction to the subjective and shifting standards of morality found in contemporary left-wing theology.

Fourth, Benedict XVI notes that Veritatis Splendor must be utilized in the formation of conscience. Later in the address, Benedict XVI speaks of John Henry Newman and stresses that for Newman, as for the tradition in general, conscience does not denote the subjective feelings of an individual based on the current situation, but rather, the voice of the Spirit as it comes through Scripture, sound doctrine and a knowledge and love of the law of God.

Fifth, the clergy abuse scandal cannot be separated from other evils of the 70s and 80s including the rising acceptance of homosexuality, the breakdown of marriage, abortion and sexual licentiousness in general. In all cases the idea of a well-formed conscience was transformed into a fancy word for fleshly desires and the idea that some actions are always and in themselves evil was abandoned as "old-fashioned."

The Roman Catholic Church needs reform in doctrine, it is true, but one must admire her constancy in speaking the truth of moral theology in courageous opposition to the spirit of the age. In an age characterized by "the dictatorship of relativism" the Papacy is a liberation movement fighting for truth, goodness and joyful obedience to the law of Christ.

Any Protestant denomination or theological movement which purports to be "reformed" and "biblical" must demonstrate a similarly clear-headed approach to moral theology if it wishes to be taken seriously. Sadly, many Protestants and even many Evangelicals fall short of this standard, to our great shame and the world's great loss.

Evangelicals and Progressivism

This post is part 3 in a four-part series on Peter Berkowitz's extremely helpful and informative article, "Obama and the Rhetoric of Progressivism," which you can read here. In this post I look at how this article can help us understand the nature, defects and future of the Evangelical Left.

In the 2008 election, Obama's team learned from the mistakes made by John Kerry's campaign in 2004 when "values voters" (aka Catholic and Evangelical Christians) flocked to George W. Bush. When I say "flocked" I mean something like "ran screaming from the horror that was Kerry's blatant secularism." Obama's team determined that they would not cede the white evangelical vote to McCain and that they would reach out to religious voters. They got Obama to talk about religion, which he proved relatively effective in doing. They used Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis to reach out to younger Evangelicals and to those interested in the peace and justice agenda.

Tiffany Stanley in an article in The New Republic, entitled "Things Fall Apart: How Democrats Gave Up on Religious Voters," writes:
Between 2004 and 2007, when Obama announced his candidacy for president, he became possibly the most prominent Democratic politician who was comfortable speaking about religion—a liberal who gave the impression that his religiosity was heartfelt, genuine, and important to his politics. He spoke with ease about his conversion; of the influence of Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Luther King, Jr.; and, in a key speech before the Call to Renewal conference in 2006, of the importance of “religion in the public square.” In the 2008 presidential election, Obama’s message seemed to resonate with religious people who had not, in recent years, gravitated toward the Democratic Party. He won more churchgoers than any Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton.
But, she notes, the wheels have come off the Democratic outreach to "values voters."
But, in just two short years, the left has become sluggish in its courtship of religious voters, significantly scaling back its faith-outreach programs. . . . In the recent midterm elections, House Democrats lost white evangelical voters in greater numbers than they did in 2004, when “values voters” flocked to George W. Bush. Reversing their Democratic allegiance from the past two elections, Catholics—nearly a quarter of all voters—favored the GOP 54 to 44 percent. Compared to 2008, the drop-offs were steep: a 20-point decline with Catholics, a 14-point decline with white evangelicals, and a 10-point decline with white Protestants. How and why did this happen?
Jennifer Rubin in her blog at the Washington Post, "Right Turn," comments on Stanley's article and says that, while the article explains that the Democrats have scaled back their political programs designed to win over religious voters, Stanley never explains why they have done so. Rubin offers her own explanation:

You have to imagine that value voters lack core convictions -- an obvious bit of cognative dissonance -- to miss why it is that religious voters disapprove of the Democrats these days. It's the agenda. Religious conservatives are staunchly pro-Israel. They don't like Obama's approach to Israel. They are pro-life; Obama has reversed the Mexico City accord, appointed two pro-choice Supreme Court justices and reversed Bush administration policies on stem cell research. Value voters have a commitment to "traditional family values;" the Democrats successfully championed the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Value voters bristle at efforts to restrict religious expression in the public square and at government interference with the free exercise of religion (e.g. they favor a conscience clause for health-care providers with regard to abortion and birth control). The administration has generally ignored such concerns. And finally, religious voters generally care deeply about religious freedom around the world; Obama's record is woefully deficient in this regard.

Moreover, religious voters have traditionally been suspicious of the power of the state. It comes as a shock to many on the left, but it is entirely understandable, that while the agenda is focused on fiscal matters, many in the Tea Party identify themselves as religious conservatives. Once again, the Obama administration and religious voters are at odds on fundamental policy issues.

So the real question is not why value voters have fallen away from Democrats, but why a significant number were lured into the Obama camp in the first place.
In Rubin's estimation, the Democrats were never serious about serving the religious voters as a constituency; they just wanted to hoodwink enough of them to vote Democrat in a close election but had no intention of budging on policy.

Mark Tooley at The Weekly Standard asks: "Is the Religious Left Fizzling?"
Over the last several years the old religious right reputedly has been melting down, with younger, more liberal evangelicals in the ascendency. But exit polling from the 2010 midterm election indicate no major political shift among evangelical or Protestant voters.

According to CNN's exit poll, 77 percent of self-described white evangelicals or born again Christians voted Republican. This number is actually higher than the 74 percent who supported George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004, which was considered a high water mark for conservative evangelical activism. Seventy percent of white evangelicals and born-agains voted Republican in 2008 and 2006.
But I want to call attention to Tooley's conclusion (and we are getting to Berkowitz soon!):
Exit polls of actual voting by evangelicals indicate that the evangelical left remains primarily a phenomenon among evangelical elites on seminary and college campuses and among some parachurch and activist groups. The prolonged wars, culture clashes, and ultimate financial collapse during the George W. Bush years undoubtedly moved some evangelical elites and young people to the left. But the ongoing recession, explosion of government spending, and liberal stances on abortion and homosexuality by the Obama administration (the NAE quietly opposes revoking “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”), along with the president's discomfort with American exceptionalism, have likely solidified grassroots evangelicals overall within their traditional conservative politics. Like left-leaning mainline Protestant elites starting decades ago, evangelical elites increasingly will probably denounce their own constituency for its lack of political enlightenment.
The Evangelical Left is following a predictable path just as the progressive Protestants of the mid to late 19th century in embracing progressivism right down to the idea that the ordinary people are too stupid to understand how progressive, enlightened and good the left-leaning progressive elites are. The Evangelical Left is attempting to gain control of all Evangelical institutions and has already made serious inroads into seminaries and publishers and has taken almost complete control of most Evangelical liberal arts colleges. It suffered a real setback in the 1980s when it was expelled from the leadership of America's largest Evangelical denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. But the battle continues and those ignorant of history will be impotent to prevent its repetition.

Peter Berkowitz, in discussing the "Old Progressivism" notes in passing that the Protestant churches and the Social Gospel were integral elements of the original progressivist movement.

The original progressivism arose in the 1880s and 1890s and flourished during the first two decades of the 20th century. It is associated with, among others, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, scholars Fredrick Jackson Turner and Charles Beard, reformer Jane Addams, theologian Walter Rauschenbusch, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, philosopher and educator John Dewey, and journalist and New Republic founder Herbert Croly.

At their best, the original progressives responded to dramatic social and economic upheavals generated by the industrial revolution, opposed real Gilded Age abuses, and promoted salutary social and political reforms. They took the side of the exploited, the weak, and the wronged. They fought political corruption and sought to make political institutions more responsive to the will of the people. And they advanced programs and policies that, in a changing world, brought liberal democracy in America more in line with the Declaration of Independence's and the Constitution's original promise of freedom and equality for all.

But progressivism went astray owing to a defect in its basic orientation. It rejected the sound principles of government embodied in the Constitution, because of a critical difference of opinion about human nature. Progressives believed that great improvements in the moral character of humanity and in the scientific understanding of society had rendered the Constitution's scheme of checks and balances - or better its separation, balancing, and blending of power - unnecessary to prevent majority tyranny and the abuse of power by officeholders. Whereas the makers of the American Constitution believed that the imperfections of human nature and the tendency of people to develop competing interests and aims were permanent features of moral and political life, progressives insisted that progress allowed human beings, or at least the most talented and best educated human beings, to rise above these limitations and converge in their understanding of what was true and right. Indeed, according to the progressives the Constitution's obsolete and cumbersome institutional design was a primary hindrance to democratic reforms to which all reasonable people could agree and which upright and impartial administrators would implement. It is a short step from the original progressives' belief that developments in morals and science had obviated reasonable disagreements about law and public policy and dissolved concerns about the impartiality of administrators to the new progressives' belief that in domestic affairs disagreement is indefensible and intolerable.

Liberal Protestantism went wrong by embracing the heretical progressivist view of man as perfectible by education and by rejecting a biblical Augustinian view of human nature. This was the key doctrinal mistake and it led to a rejection of the penal substitutionary atonement as the heart of the Gospel and to the exaltation of social service to the center of the Church's mission and message instead. All this followed logically from the embrace of Rousseauian perfectionism. And it is happening all over again, which explains why progressives like Brian McLaren are so adamantly opposed to Reformed theology and its atonement-centered Gospel. The problem with the Evangelical Left is its embrace of progressivism.