Monday, April 30, 2012
[See Anderson's two blog posts: The Church and Contraception for its Single Members and A Hill to Die On: Evangelicals, Contraception and the Integrity of Our Witness.]
As Western Evangelicalism continues to become bigger, more worldly and more accommodated to the late modern secular society around it, its resources to resist the depraved immorality of late, modern, Western decadence continue to deteriorate.
Pope John Paul II and a growing host of intelligent Catholic writers such as Mary Eberstadt, Christopher West and Janet Smith have put forward the thesis that contraception and abortion stand or fall together and that the problem we face is not merely an issue of the sanctity of innocent life (though it certainly is that), but also a false understanding of the purpose of sexuality rooted in a false understanding of human nature itself that underlies both the recent rush to embrace both contraception and abortion. In other words, they argue that we must understand what human beings are and what role our sexuality plays in humans fulfilling their ultimate telos as creatures made in God's image, if we are to be able properly to evaluate the morality of contraception and abortion.
The sea-change in the 1970s that saw formerly apathetic Evangelicals quite suddenly become rightfully concerned about the rise of abortion-on-demand (i.e. abortion as birth control) led to an Evangelical-Catholic coalition in support of the sanctity of human life that is most welcome. The work of Francis Schaeffer and Harold Brown is especially notable here. Opposition to abortion, euthanasia and infanticide by this coalition has been key to slowing down the advance of the culture of death legally, socially, theologically and politically. It has also brought Evangelicals and John Paul II Catholics into an alliance in which each sees in the other side more congenial dialogue partners than either sees in the liberals of their own traditions. We can be thankful for these developments.
But Evangelical opposition to abortion has been predicated almost completely on the basis of the sixth commandment, whereas their Catholic counterparts have those reasons and also other, deeper, reasons rooted in the seventh commandment, Genesis 1-2 and Jesus' teaching on sexuality for opposing the whole mentality that lies behind the drive toward social approval of contraception, promiscuity and abortion. A few Evangelicals, notably Al Mohler, have understood that what the Catholics call "the contraceptive mentality" is a serious problem, but most have not probed into what this might mean.
Contemporary, conservative Evangelicals such as Daniel Heimbach, John Piper and Andreas Kostenberger have written good books on sexuality in which they try to hold the line against promiscuity - including both fornication and adultery - but they have seldom probed into the view of sexuality and human nature presupposed by the contraceptive mentality. They have done good service upholding the rule against extra-marital and pre-marital sex, but seem at a loss to explain the deep theological reasons for the rule, which, of course, inevitably leads some to suppose that the rule is entirely arbitrary and possibly unimportant.
Is it possible that the reason why the left wing of Evangelicalism is weakening in its opposition to homosexuality is that it is very difficult (and perhaps impossible) to specify the moral difference between homosexual behaviour and heterosexual acts in which artificial, contraception is used? Are not the two kinds of sexual behaviour similar in important ways?
For one thing, both are "unnatural" in that both employ the sexual organs for purposes for which they were not designed. Our sexual organs are part of the reproductive system and on a strictly biological level they are designed for reproduction. Marriage is also designed for reproduction; Genesis 1:27 makes it clear that there is a close connection between man being created in the image of God and as male and female. And Genesis 1:28 makes it clear that the Divine intention in creating man as male and female is procreation. Just as God is Triune and not unitary, so man is created in two sexes and just as God is in his nature creative with the mutual love of Father and Son issuing forth in the inevitable result of creative love in the Holy Spirit, so man as male and female is able to issue forth in fruit created through love. So to say that the telos of sexual intercourse is procreation is not to reduce man to his biological substratum; rather it is to raise him to his highest dignity. Although the animals reproduce sexually, they do not do so through personal love and this marks out mankind alone as being in the image of God. Non-procreative sex is therefore unnatural for humans and a denial of the dignity of man as the one creature made in God's image.
Secondly, sexual intercourse between married persons is not recreation or entertainment, but a deep personal knowing of the other person at a level of intimacy and trust that allows the two to become one flesh. When a man has intercourse with a woman he is saying: "I love you and desire to stay with you forever. If a child results from this act, I will devote my life to helping you raise the child." When a woman has intercourse with a man she is saying: "I love you and desire to stay with you. I trust that you will devote your life to helping me raise the child that may result from this act." That is what the act of intercourse intrinsically means, whether any individual couple know it or admit it or not. So any frivolous or casual sexual act is essentially a lie and is detached from the relational context that makes it different from animal sex and brings it into line with God's purpose in creating us male and female.
So, in these two ways, which can be summarized as mutual, personal, loving commitment, married sex is morally right and in harmony with the will of God for the human creature and the human creature's highest good. The rule serves the higher good for the man, the woman and the child - all of whom are involved in the act of sexual intercourse. When the Divine plan for human sexuality is abrogated, the following things happen:
1. Sex becomes a matter of self-focused pleasure and the satisfaction of lust rather than a drive to deep, personal, committed intimacy and oneness.
2. Sex becomes detached from its procreative intent. Fornication and adultery are recognized as creating inappropriate contexts for bringing new human life into the world.
3. Potential children are fenced out of the act of sexual intercourse through artificial contraception.
4. Women are increasingly regarded as "sex objects" and they even internalize this degraded status.
5. A great temptation arises to resort to abortion as a "back-up" to failed contraception or sexual behaviour so driven by lust that contraception was not used.
6. Divorce can be contemplated as an option much more easily when sex is understood as the satisfaction of physical desires, rather than as a drive to total oneness because if marriage is understood as a contract for mutually satisfying sexual relations (as for Kant), rather than as a vehicle for total unity of husband and wife into one flesh, then breaking the marriage contract does not necessarily seriously wound and even potentially destroy one's personhood.
On this analysis, abortion does not appear suddenly out of nowhere as a sudden temptation to break the sixth commandment; rather, it has its context in the desire for non-procreative sex and the severing of the link between between the biological sex drive and the emotional and spiritual drive toward intimacy, commitment and oneness at the psychological and spiritual level with physical oneness as the sign of that greater oneness.
All this calls contraception into question on a moral level. Is the use of artificial contraception ever compatible with the Biblical understanding of human beings and the role of sex in the make up of our human nature as created in the image of God?
Why, apart from specific Biblical passages condemning it, is the theological basis for viewing homosexuality as morally deficient? I suggest that even pagans operating only with general revelation can see that there is a deep and important connection between sexual intercourse and reproduction, which is to say the family, and it is the fact that homosexual behaviour violates this connection that makes it suspect even to pagans. Of course, in an extreme state of idolatry and rebellion against the Creator, some pagans actually begin to believe that homosexuality is a good, as Paul argues in Romans 1:18-30. But this, to Paul, is iron-clad evidence of their extreme depravity rather than a respectable argument for the goodness of homosexual acts.
The important question is not: "Can one find a Bible verse specifically condemning artificial contraception?" but rather, "can the Biblical link between sexual intercourse and oneness of the husband and wife on the deepest level of their personality be preserved when sex becomes non-procreative and merely recreational?"
If decadent, late modern Western culture is committed unconditionally to anything, it is to the proposition that sex is just a recreational activity with no significance or meaning beyond the satisfaction of the lusts of the participants. This view of sexuality makes promiscuity seem good, marriage seem trivial, and contraception and abortion seem "necessary." What is "the contraceptive mentality" but this attitude toward human sexuality?
It seems to me that Evangelicals do not know what sex is for and so cannot give satisfactory reasons to our single adults why contracepted sex for pleasure before marriage is contrary to human nature as created in the image of God. The only way forward is serious theological reflection on human sexuality and contraception that goes way beyond the limits of a blog post.
Cross-posted at The Bayview Review.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
You think I'm crazy? Well, I think you are naive. Check out this example from Focus on the Family of bullying students with traditional morals.
A group of high school journalism students attending a conference called “Journalism on the Edge” in Seattle over the weekend felt they were pushed over the edge by syndicated sex advice columnist Dan Savage.
Savage, the creator of the two-year-old It Gets Better Project, which encourages teens struggling with same-sex attractions to embrace homosexuality, was invited to give a keynote address last Friday at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention.
Students were expecting him to talk about bullying. But they also got an earful about birth control, sex, and Savage’s opinions on the Bible.
A 17-year-old from California who was attending with half a dozen other students from her high school yearbook staff, was one of several students to walk out in the middle of Savage’s speech.
“The first thing he told the audience was, ‘I hope you’re all using birth control!’ ” she recalled. Then “he said there are people using the Bible as an excuse for gay bullying, because it says in Leviticus and Romans that being gay is wrong. Right after that, he said we can ignore all the ‘B.S.’ in the Bible.
“I was thinking, ‘This is not going a good direction at all,’ Then he started going off about the Bible. He said somehow the Bible was pro-slavery. I’m really shy. I’m not really someone to, like, stir up anything. But all of a sudden I just blurted out, ‘That’s bull!’ ”
As she and several other students walked out of the auditorium, Savage noticed them leaving and called them “pansies.”
Though recordings of the keynote speech are unavailable, Savage has made similar comments in the past, which can be found on YouTube. Among them:
“Most people that you wind up arguing with about religion and homosexuality have not ever read the Bible without their, you know, moron glasses on.”
“If you believe it is the divinely inspired word of God, if you believe in the literal truth of the Bible, I challenge you to read the first five (expletive) pages. There are two creation myths in Genesis.”
“We ignore the (expletive) in the Bible about race, about slavery, and we’re going to have to get there for homosexuality.”
The student’s father is a public school teacher. Though he said Savage’s comments were inappropriate, he thinks the organizers of the conference are ultimately responsible.
“I’m well-versed in the rules of the game, the captive-audience ethic,” he said. “You have a bunch of kids. They’re required to go to school. They don’t have the option of walking out on you as a teacher, so you guard your speech.
“If Dan Savage was a teacher, they’d suspend him without pay for this behavior,” he added. “He didn’t take account of who his audience was. If he was doing this with a bunch of college journalism kids, that would be a different story — that’s more rough and tumble. How many of the kids who didn’t walk out felt backed into a corner? To me, that’s bullying behavior. It has all the symptoms, as far as I’m concerned.”You can't sing a Christmas carol in a public school, but you can launch vicious attacks like this on Christians. Do you think this kind of 180 degree shift in a culture happens by accident or without a planned and coordinated attack by fanatical activists? Note that the goal being promoted by Savage's organization is not about tolerance; it is to get teens to embrace homosexuality. That means they are after your children and they want to convert them; that is the cold, hard fact of the matter.
Yes there is a bullying problem in public schools today and Christians who stand up for their faith are the victims.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Murray's new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010 (Random House, 2012), is a fascinating look at the social revolution of the past half-century. The disastrous effects of the attempts to impose a European-style welfare state on America beginning with the Great Society programs of the 1960s on the black family have been well-documented. But what has been going on in white America during this period? Were the effects of welfare statism on black families different from their effects on white families or were those effects merely delayed slightly?
Murray also argues that what he calls "the American project" has involved the attempt to build a nation without a class structure and that this effort was in many ways largely successful up until the 1960s, that is, for a period of almost two centuries. His diagnoses is that, since the 1960s, however, a growing economic chasm has been hardening into a genuine class divide in America. The deepest divides in America today are not racial but economic and for the first time the nation is divided into what may become permanent classes.
Murray documents the emergence of a new upper class which lives in a geographic and cultural bubble isolated from the rest of society and, in particular, from a new lower class. Up until recently, most Americans, regardless of income levels, thought of themselves as middle class. Men holding menial jobs who supported their families were accorded high social status; their lives and efforts were regarded as making a genuine difference both by themselves and by others. These men have become irrelevant and unnecessary in the welfare state and their social status has plummeted.
Murray documents the rise of a new lower class of people in which marriage has almost disappeared as a way of life. In his white, urban neighbourhood (called Fishtown) the percentage of the population who married declined from 85 to 50% between 1960 and 2010. The percentage who never married rose from 8-25% and the percentage of divorced people rose from 5-35%. The percentage in self-reported "very happy" marriages dropped from 68-55%. The percentage of children living with a single, divorced or separated parent rose from 2-22%. One particularly startling statistic was that the percentage of children in Fishtown living with both biological parents dropped in this period from 95-35%.
When it comes to young men (aged 30-49) and employment the trend is clearly away from full-time employment and toward fewer hours worked per week. Marriage and work habits are closely correlated. In effect, the government is taking over the economic role of the father, which results in arrested development of young males, who simply do not grow up.
Prior to the 1960s, a young woman in Fishtown got a boyfriend, got pregnant and got married. Now, marriage is optional and less and less frequent. One telling comment from a resident of Fishtown was by an elderly woman who observed that many of the women trying to raise children had a live-in boyfriend who was more like an extra son to care for than anything else. A new class is emerging that is not middle class and never will be; it is something not adequately described by the phrase "working poor." It is dysfunctional.
At the other end of the scale, however, the last half-century has witnessed the growth of a tiny, powerful, wealthy, influential upper portion of the upper class, which is increasingly isolated in their daily lives from the rest of America. Beginning in the 1950s universities like Harvard began to admit mostly the brightest students from an ever-growing pool of eager applicants. Today, elite colleges admit students whose test scores place them in the top quadrant of the population for intelligence. Since marriage partners are usually found in such settings, the children of this class will inherit an IQ on average in between that of their parents. And, since these children will grow up amid privilege, they will gain admission to elite colleges and repeat the process. A third generation is now going through this cycle.
One of the most fascinating parts of the book is Murray's description of the insular nature of the lives of this group. They have, for the most part, never held a job that made a body part hurt at the end of a work day. They live in enclaves of privilege among people of their own class. They often attend private schools and share a number of prejudices and incontrovertible beliefs. They are thin, fit and do not smoke. They have never owned a pick up truck and they often work in the high-paying jobs created by the computer revolution and are all are some sort of "symbolic interaction," meaning media, law, journalism, university teaching, management, consulting, finance, etc.
The top tier of this new upper class is concentrated in four cities: Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Interestingly, this group has very low divorce rates, very low illegitimacy rates and appear to be immune from many of the trends afflicting the emerging welfare class. Although, this is good news in some ways, it also highlights the insularity of their lives. But why is insularity a problem? As Murray points out, if the delivery truck driver in Omaha fails to understand the daily lives of Wall St. stockbrokers, it doesn't matter. But if the presidents of major movie studios, those who make laws regarding media standards, those who make educational policy etc. do not understand the daily lives of those who are affected by their decisions, it is significant.
Murray wonders whether the members of the new upper class have any moral core or if they are essentially "hollow." The question arises because the members of this class oddly refuse to "preach what they practice." Even though getting married and staying married, working hard and obeying the law are lifestyle habits which have made them successful, they are unaccountably reticent to "impose their values" on anyone else. Why? Murray has no answer.
Also, the recent rise in unseemly behaviour from this group is disconcerting. For example, grossly inflated bonuses paid to CEO's of major corporations and unethical behaviour leading up to the 2008 crash on Wall St. and the whole subprime mortgage scandal raise the question of whether this group can be trusted with power. Yet, who is available to restrain them when they move effortlessly back and forth between government and corporations and seem to float above both.
Murray is neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but realistic. He admits the necessity of religious belief in order for a free people to survive in the long run but is not sure if a religious revival will come. He speculates that as Europe goes bankrupt the unnaturalness and impossibility of the welfare state will eventually come to be appreciated. He is stern in his insistence that social capital has been severely diminished over the past half-century and the effects are already visible. Like all libertarians and conservatives his greatest fear is that the decline of religion, morality and the family will erode social capital to the point that government will have to become totalitarian just to maintain some semblance of order and structure in daily life.
There is a lot in this book that I have not been able to mention and certainly much to ponder. As I look over Murray's shoulder as he analyzes his data and formulates his hypotheses, my conclusion is that the evidence is incontrovertible that nothing but another Great Awakening can save America from a long, slow decline into anarchy and state control of more and more of the daily lives of her people. Religious revival is the future or there is no happy future. This is not the conclusion of a fundamentalist preacher, but of a sober and conflicted social scientist. This ought to give those on all sides of the debate food for thought.
Cross-posted at the Bayview Review.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Strengthening Traditional Marriage is the Highest Priority for Anyone Concerned about Improving Society
1. Marriage rates are falling. Fewer people are married for less and less of a percentage of their lives.
2. This is bad for women and children. Those who live outside of marriage (as single or cohabiting) are poorer generally and women and children are at much higher risk of physical violence including sexual abuse. By almost every social measure, children not living with their married, biological parents are at risk of lower academic achievement, emotional and mental illness, poverty, involvement in crime as either perpetrator or victim, etc.
New government data (PDF) reveals a continuing trend of declining marriage rates. More women have never been married, and cohabitation rates have increased steadily. And more children are born outside of marriage than ever before.
The consequences of these trends include lower economic prosperity for families and an array of poorer outcomes for children.
Tragically, as marriage declines, even the very physical safety for women and children is compromised. Research reveals that both unmarried women (PDF) and children (PDF) living in family settings other than with their biological, married parents are at far greater risk of experiencing domestic abuse.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that never-married women are over four times as likely to be a victim of domestic violence compared to married women. (Never-married women are also much more likely (PDF) to be victims of violent crimes besides domestic abuse, including rape.)
Additionally, children living outside of married, biological-parent homes have a far greater probability of experiencing physical and sexual abuse. Most notably, children living with a single parent and the parent’s romantic partner are approximately 10 times as likely to be physically abused and 20 times as likely to be sexually abused. Even children living with both biological parents are at heightened risk of physical abuse (over four times as likely) and sexual abuse (nearly five times as likely) if their parents are not married.The great irony of the sexual revolution over the past half-century is that it was launched and defended in the name of "women's rights" and "personal freedom." Personal freedom was supposed by the secular humanists of the time to be a necessary prerequisite for individual growth, development and flourishing. Traditional morality and the traditional family were viewed as impediments to personal freedom and flourishing.
As marriage rates decline, more women and children are exposed to living situations that jeopardize their safety. As policymakers look to ways to address violence against women, rather than expanding top-down approaches of questionable effectiveness, efforts to promote and strengthen marriage are critical.
For a small number of white, upper-middle class women, who spear-headed the second-wave Feminist movement of the 1960s, these convictions, buttressed by neo-Marxist theory, could be made to seem plausible. But, starting with Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" (which, in hindsight looks more like a "War on the urban, black family"), the whole sexual revolution including Feminism and the rise of the divorce culture has been a social plague.
It has destroyed the black family (70% of black children in America are born out of wedlock) and it is now moving up the social scale into white middle-class families, as we see documented in the recent work of Charles Murray in his book Coming Apart: The Story of White America 1960-2010. The fact is that only movie stars and upper-class rich people can afford divorce, just as in primitive societies only rich males can afford plural wives. Would-be social reformers have seemed oblivious to the fact that the intact family is the single biggest bulwark against poverty for the vast majority of the population, as well as the basis of independence and dignity.
Or have they? Marxist thought views the family as an impediment to complete state control and domination of individuals. Social engineering is more difficult for state bureaucrats when individuals are not completely dependent on the government for their daily sustenance. The destruction of the family appears to be a matter of good intentions gone wrong, but is that analysis sufficiently critical?
The final sentence of Sheffield's post is low-key but it contains a revolution and a counter-revolution within its calm suggestion of a policy reversal. Right now, government is doing everything possible to break apart the family in the name of individual freedom and substitute government for fathers in order to create what is called "social justice." She suggests that government reverse itself in a hundred policy areas from tax penalties for married couples to eliminating no-fault divorce, to tax penalties for cohabiting couples to increased social disapproval of sex before marriage to fighting pornography and prostitution to requiring divorcing couples to seek counseling to stigmatizing promiscuity to encouraging adoption to banning abortion to defunding Planned Parenthood and so on and on.
But can we really accuse self-described liberals of really being neo-Marxists? Is that fair? Well, as Forrest Gump might say "Marxist is as Marxist does." So let's be generous and not call them neo-Marxists. But to pretend that actual, hard-core neo-Marxists are not actively trying to forment revolution by destroying the family is just willful blindness; they have been working at this agenda for over a century now. Yet, the liberals and progressives running the Democratic Party are not all neo-Marxists. So let's be generous and call them "fellow-travelers" and "dupes." But whatever label one attaches to the policy-makers, the important thing is the policy. And the policy must change.
The liberal idea that loosening the bonds of the traditional family is the path to individual self-realization is an unmitigated failure and a cruel joke for vulnerable women and children. The policies are a failure in achieving what they claimed they wanted to achieve. That fact is no longer in dispute. So the policies must change: liberals and conservatives should be able to agree on that much. Only a neo-Marxist has an ideological reason to dig in and defend the broken status quo.
Cross-posted at The Bayview Review.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
There are three categories: things which should never be tolerated (eg. child molesting), things which should always be tolerated (eg. free speech about values) and things that should be tolerated up to a point but not necessarily indefinitely (eg. sexual deviance). This last example is non-controversial in principle; almost every rational person agrees that some sexual deviance should be tolerated though not socially approved. An example would be fornication. We don't think it is morally right and expressing social disapproval to the point of driving it underground is necessary for a healthy society, yet we would not want to infringe on civil liberties to the extent necessary in order to have fornication police investigating, probing, arresting and jailing every single fornicator. On the other hand, another sexual deviance, rape, falls into a different category. It should be illegal and penalties should be harsh. If we have to give up some privacy to prevent or punish rape, so be it. It is that serious.
So tolerating rape or child pornography is morally reprehensible and also ought to be illegal and laws against them should be enforced stringently. But simple fornication between adults is morally reprehensible but should not be illegal. Tolerance of deviant lifestyles is good up to a point. When people begin to be hurt too much and too often, society has to revise its tendency to tolerance and begin to act against evil. Statecraft is not reducible to ethics; it is more complicated.
Tolerance is not like a major virtue like hope or faith or love in that there can be too much tolerance, whereas there can never be too much love there can easily, and often is, too much tolerance. Our society is very confused about tolerance. There is a ferocious attempt to control so-called "hate speech" but an extremely lenient approach to punishing physical attacks on people. If we cannot even punish those who physically attack innocent people, what good do we think is being done to punish individuals who say things categorized as "hate speech?"
The unspoken but operative "rationale," if one can even call it that, for punishing Christians who express the traditional and normal view of homosexuality while letting violent criminals walk free, seems to come down to one over-riding factor: how likely is the person being punished to react violently? Those who show signs of aggressive fight-back are treated with a hands-off approach, but those who submit meekly to a totalitarian approach to speech regulation are increasingly oppressed. Christians are punished severely for expressing religious ideas in public but Muslims are ignored. Criminal mobs are treat leniently but Christians who witness to their faith are clamped down on. There is a clear pattern here.
Julian Mann, writing in Virtue Online gives us a good example of the contemporary approach to "tolerance."
Orthodox bishops in the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, meeting this week in London, are gathering in a capital city where the Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson has just banned this statement from London buses: "Not gay. Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it."At least Boris Johnston is explicit and open about his cowardice, for cowardice is the reason for tolerating the aggressive and angry pro-homosexual lobby while shutting down the free speech of Christians. "Tolerance" here is just a content-less slogan that is ritually invoked by intolerant people as their excuse for eliminating Christianity from the public debate. Christians are easy marks, peaceful and tolerant themselves, and so unwilling to strike back against this kind of persecution.
Such censorship of these advertisements, responding to the earlier "Some people are gay. Get over it." campaign by the highly politically influential homosexualist lobby group Stonewall, is disturbing enough. But the reasons Mr Johnson has given for the ban in the UK capital city are even more alarming.
His latest rationale frighteningly exposes the dry-rot in the edifice of democratic freedom.
At a mayoral hustings last week at St James's Piccadilly, Mr Johnson declared that he banned the ads on London buses by Christian groups, Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust, because "the backlash would be so intense it would not have been in the interest of Christian people in this city".
His initial stated reason for banning the posters was his desire to protect Londoners from being exposed to the suggestion of gay therapy: "London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance. It is clearly offensive to suggest being gay is an illness someone recovers from and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses."
Whilst his latest reason at the hustings does not contradict his earlier one, it is a significant development. It emits an even stronger whiff of democratic putrefaction.
The take-away from all of this is two-fold. First, Christians must stop being afraid to appear "intolerant" because there are worse things than intolerance. Christians must not allow a debate over good and evil to be stifled by their opponents playing the tolerance card as an undisputed trump. We don't just want tolerance for our opinions; we want good to be recognized as good and evil to be recognized as evil. Playing for a tie is a losing strategy because even persecution of Christians and the suppression of religious freedom are being justified in the name of "tolerance." We don't want mere tolerance; we want an acknowledgment that right is right and evil is evil.
Second, Christians must either accept persecution meekly and go underground or else they have to fight for the democratic and human rights that gradually evolved in Western civilization and made the West the highest, best civilization in history of the world. If we choose not to fight for our culture, then we must accept that we are complicit in its destruction and for the coming of a new dark age. If you really think this is the right thing to do, fine. But take responsibility for your choice and acknowledge that you believe that Christians should not be in the culture-building business. So keep quiet and don't ingratiate yourself with the secular persecutors. If you wish to live an underground, privatized existence and let the culture go to hell (literally), then that is your choice.
For my part, I believe we ought to fight. We ought to fight in a moral way and refuse to use certain despicable tactics, but I believe we ought to pray for revival, vote for politicians we think can slow down the rot and generally be the adults in the room. This is messy and precarious in a fallen world, but that is our calling as long as our Lord tarries.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
The welfare state has created not just a host of entitlement programs, but more importantly, an entitlement mentality in which poorly-educated people with low levels of numeracy expect the government to fund their individualistic, hedonistic lifestyle indefinitely and without limit. This mentality is about to crash into the harsh reality of a declining population, a stagnant economy and lower government revenues.
In this European-style situation, the government will tack first one way then the other. Sometimes it will try to impose a dose of fiscal sanity here or there and the result will be riots in the streets. See the story from yesterday's Toronto Star below:
MONTREAL—A spring of discontent in Quebec characterized by scenes of red-clad student protesters erupted into something darker Friday.This is about the government imposing a $325 per year increase on university and college tuition over five years, which will still leave Quebec with by far the lowest tuition rates in the country. So fiscal austerity is going to be tough.
Demonstrators hurled projectiles from rocks to flower pots in downtown Montreal, disrupting political events indoors and committing vandalism outdoors. Riot police fought back by swinging batons and firing rubber bullets and tear-gas canisters into the crowd.
Police said some vandals even tossed rocks from an overpass onto a busy downtown expressway. There were no reports of any injuries in those incidents.
But several people were injured — reportedly including police officers — during protests of a broader nature than the weeks-long anti-tuition demonstrations that have occasionally snared traffic in cities across Quebec.
Provincial police were called in as local officers struggled to handle crowds that disrupted two separate events, including one featuring Premier Jean Charest and, to a lesser extent, one involving federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
A few participants stressed one message: This isn't just about university fees anymore.
“It's not just the tuition increase,” said Alexis Remartini, 18, who who took a 60-kilometre bus trip from St-Hyacinthe to attend the protest.
“The movement has grown to include other things we don't agree with.”
So, other times the government will attempt to borrow more and increase the debt. But contrary to settled economic doctrine among left-leaning "economists" the situation in Europe is demonstrating that countries cannot continue running up the national debt indefinitely. So the Quebec government will likely try blackmailing the rest of Canada into transferring more and more of the national wealth into Quebec in order to pay for free daycare all the way through university.
But demographic changes in Canada show a move of population, economic growth and political power away from central Canada to the West (and to a limited extent to east to Newfoundland). The federal Conservative government is firmly controlled by Western Canadian interests and will be harder to blackmail than the Liberals were. At some point, the rest of Canada is likely to say to Quebec, "Good riddance."
Then the Quebec government will be back to austerity and budget cuts, which will lead to further unrest. Immigration will be ratcheted up in a vain attempt to maintain the population but it will make assimilating new immigrants more and more difficult, which will lead to a different kind of social unrest. Japan may experience a quiet, dignified slide into "that good night" because of its social homogeneity and national character. But the streets of Montreal are not likely to be quiet or dignified.
The future is not rosy for Quebec. It is living beyond its means on the basis of a secularist, socialist worldview that is out of touch with reality and its economy is unsustainable. The giant feminist-socialist social experiment launched in those heady days of the 1960s is slowly falling apart but those who launched it will be dead before things really get ugly. So I guess they might, for that reason, count is a success from their perspective. Those who are still around may beg to differ.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Lydia McGrew has an article on the growing state totalitarianism in Sweden in the area of education. In some ways, total government control of the educational system of a country is even worse than total government control of the economy since thought-control is worse than external control. Even prisoners in Soviet concentration camps were intellectually free so long as every aspect of their lives were controlled but they were left free to educate each other at night in secret: their minds were not taken prisoner.
Some of us have already heard about Sweden's totalitarian and utterly committed attack on home schooling. Home education is illegal, and that's that. See here for more links and information.As this article points out, the policies and attitude of the Swedish government are in violation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights signed in 1947.
But mandatory daycare, too, is on the horizon if not already here. In this article, along with more details on the persecution of home schoolers, we learn this:
Parents are pressured to put their children in daycare at age one.HSLDA translates from this link (which is in Swedish) the following argument for compulsory three-year-old daycare: “We cannot allow parents to deny their children the right to go to pre-school.”
"One mother told me when she went with her 18 month son to his medical checkup, and he was not in daycare. They said, 'Oh, your son is not in daycare? But he has to go to daycare. He needs that and you need to work,'" Himmselstrand told CBN News.
"The argument they give about this is that every child has a 'right' to daycare. This is not a right that parents are allowed to interfere with."
The idea of children as free-standing actors in relation to the state, which enforces its own ideas of their "rights" against their parents, is not a new one. HSLDA has been warning about it for a long time. Sweden seems to have few qualms about a fairly extreme interpretation of the concept of the "rights of the child." A child has a right, in essence, to be separated from his mother.
Swedish human rights lawyer Ruby Harrold-Claesson calls what's happening in Sweden a "parental inquisition.""Sweden's treatment of parents in the area of education is totalitarian, essentially. They want to take children from birth to graduation and control them," said Michael Donnelly, director of international relations at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.Donnelly claims Sweden's treatment of parents violates established standards of human rights."In fact, the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights signed in 1947 actually says ... that parents have a 'prior right' to decide the kind of education their children should have," he explained.
But Sweden's ambassador to the United States said, "The [Swedish] government does not find that home schooling is necessary for religious or philosophical reasons."
But there likely is not enough time to play out the full economic experiment because economic collapse is just a matter of time anyway due to the population decline in progress. Like most European nations, Sweden only has a few more generations of existence anyway. The total fertility rate today stands at 1.67, which is well below replacement level. This explains why Swedes have no choice but to bring in increasing numbers of immigrants with a totally different culture, religion, politics and priorities.
The connections between post-World War II feminism and socialism in Sweden and the looming demographic nightmare are discussed in Allen Carlson's book: The Swedish Experiment in Family Politics: The Myrdals and the Interwar Population Crisis. The experiment is ongoing and the long-term results are not in yet.
Pointing to Sweden as "the great Socialist success story" is like the man who fell off a 50 story building saying "So far so good" to people as he passed the 40th, 30th and 20th story windows. That is the best you can say for Sweden's social democratic, post-traditional family experiment: "So far so good." But the ground (reality) is coming up quickly.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Canada’s GSA is the Gay-Straight Alliance. The GSA is all over the GTA (the Gayer Toronto Area), but in a few remote upcountry redoubts north of Timmins intolerant knuckle-dragging fundamentalist school boards declined to get with the beat. So the Ontario Government has determined to afflict them with the “Accepting Schools Act.”
“Accepting?” One would regard the very name of this bill as an exquisite parody of the way statist strong-arming masquerades as limp-wristed passivity were it not for the fact that the province’s Catholic schools, reluctant to accept government-mandated GSAs, are proposing instead that they should be called “Respecting Differences” groups. Good grief, this is the best a bigoted theocrat can come up with?
Bullying is as old as the schoolhouse. Dr Thomas Arnold, one of the great reforming headmasters of 19th century England, is captured in the most famous novel ever written about bullying, Tom Brown’s Schooldays in what, by all accounts, is an accurate summation of his approach to the matter: “‘You see, I do not know anything of the case officially, and if I take any notice of it at all, I must publicly expel the boy. I don’t wish to do that, for I think there is some good in him. There’s nothing for it but a good sound thrashing.’ He paused to shake hands with the master … ‘Remember,’ added the Doctor, emphasizing the words, ‘a good sound thrashing before the whole house.’ ”
These days, a Thrashing Schools Act mandating Thrashing Out Differences groups across the province would be the biggest windfall for Chief Commissar Barbara Hall and her Ontario “Human Rights” Commission since the transsexual labiaplasty case went belly up. Teachers are not permitted, in any meaningful sense, to deal with the problem of bullying. And, when you can’t deal with a problem, the easiest option is to institutionalize it. Thus, today is the Day of Pink, “the international day against bullying, discrimination, homophobia and transphobia.” Don’t know how big it is in Yemen or Waziristan, but the Minister of Education for the Northwest Territories is on board, and the Ontario MPP Peggy Nash has issued her own video greeting for the day, just like the Queen’s Christmas message: “Today’s the day we can unite in celebrating diversity and in raising awareness …”
So it’s just like every other bloody boring day in the Ontario school system then?
Meanwhile, Cable 14 in Hamilton, Ont., has been Tweeting up a storm: “National Day of Pink/Anti-Bullying Day is tomorrow. What will you be wearing?” Er, I don’t think I have a lot of choice on that front, do I? “For schools holding Anti-Bullying events in April, you still have time to order shirts at a discount.”
That’s great news! Nothing says “celebrate diversity” like forcing everyone to dress exactly the same, like a bunch of Maoists who threw their workers’ garb in the washer but forgot to take the red flag out. If you’re thinking, “Hang on. Day of Pink? Didn’t we just have that?” No, that was Pink Shirt Day, the last Wednesday in February. This is Day of Pink, second Wednesday in April. Like the King streetcar, there’ll be another one along in a minute, enthusiastically sponsored by Scotiabank, Royal Bank, ViaRail and all the other corporate bigwigs.
If anyone is naive enough actually to think that this bureaucratically-imposed exercise in groupthink actually is about what it claims to be about (i.e. bullied homosexual kids), then you also probably believe that Obama is highly committed to reducing the number of abortions by raising taxes and expanding the welfare state.
Bullying is a problem, but it is one largely created by the left-wing refusal to discipline bullies and it has little to do with homosexuality.
According to the Toronto District School Board’s own survey, the most common type of bullying is for “body image” — the reason given by 27% of high school students, 38% of Grades 7 and 8, and yea, back through the generations. Yet there are no proposals for mandatory Fat-Svelte Alliances, or Homely-Smokin’ Alliances. The second biggest reason in Toronto schools is “cultural or racial background.” “Cultural,” eh? Yet there seems no urge to install Infidel-Believer Alliances in Valley Park Middle School’s celebrated mosqueteria, although they could probably fit it in the back behind the menstruating girls. So the pressure for GSAs in every school would seem to be a solution entirely unrelated to the problem. Indeed, it would seem to be a gay hijacking of the issue. Queer Eye For The Fat Chick: “But enough about you, let’s talk about me.”
What about if you’re the last non-sexualized tween schoolgirl in Ontario? You’re still into ponies and unicorns and have no great interest in the opposite sex except when nice Prince William visits to cut the ribbon at the new Transgendered Studies Department. What if the other girls are beginning to mock you for wanting to see Anne Of Green Gables instead of Anne Does Avonlea? Is there any room for the sexual-developmentally challenged in the GSAs?
Why, of course! GSAs are officially welcoming of gays, straights, and even those freaky weirdy types who aren’t yet into sexual identity but could use a helpful nudge in the right direction. “Advisors Say GSA Also For Straight Students,” as the headline to a poignant story in yesterday’s edition of the Pembroke Academy newspaper in New Hampshire puts it. The school-approved GSA began five years ago with an ambitious platform of exciting gay activities. “They had plans for group events, like bake sales and car washes, but they never came to pass,” explained Ms Yackanin, the social studies teacher who served as the GSA’s first advisor.From a lack of gay bake sales and gay car washes, the GSA has now advanced to a lack of gays. “The students just stopped coming,” said Mrs McCrum, the new Spanish teacher who took over the GSA at the start of this school year. This is the homophobic reality of our education system: a school gay group that has everything it needs except gays.
Homosexuality is not the point. Bullied homosexual kids is not the point. The point is to change your attitude and mine to sexual promiscuity and the sexual revolution as part of the Ne0-Marxist attempt to undermine the family and leave the State as the only entity capable of solving social problems, which thus gives it unlimited power.
Did you really think it was about bullied kids? There is only one group that is being bullied here and that is conservatives who resist the attempt to corrupt kids by promoting sexual license.
It is the worst of both worlds: private selfishness and public totalitarianism, or as Bill Gairdner puts it "libertarian socialism."
Heather Mallick, in today's Toronto Star, demonstrates the moral hollowness and hypocrisy (not to say inner contradictions) of contemporary third-wave (Marxist) feminism. She shamelessly calls for society to take a hands off attitude to female feticide.
Complicated? Now, of course we understand that feminists can comprehend the political and logical implications of accepting even one restriction on the abortion license. Once it is admitted in principle that society at large has a compelling interest in protecting human life at the pre-birth stage, then who knows where the logic will lead from there. So, yes, we should read her article as a desperate bid to prop up an illogical position using a bad faith argument.
"Many GTA hospitals, particularly those in “ethnic” areas, the Star reported Tuesday, won’t let their ultrasound staff tell pregnant women the sex of the fetus. One admitted it worries that women and their spouses (if any) might have the female fetus aborted in order to try again for a male.
A recent study done by St. Michael’s Hospital researchers has shown that though the male/female ratio for the first child of immigrants born in India is normal Canadian stuff — 105 boys to 100 girls — the ratio for third children born to such women was 136 boys to 100 girls. This may mean something. This may mean something wildly other than what it seems.It’s complicated."
But the sheer hypocrisy is breath-taking. And it is evident that she feels the pressure because she tries to deny the reality that is staring her right in the face by denying that it is what it is:
I don’t leap to judgment of any woman seeking an abortion. No one should. By deploring sex-selection — if that’s what this is and we don’t yet know that — we’re saying “this is a bad reason to have an abortion.”We don't know what it is? What planet is she living on? We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are dealing with families desiring boys rather than girls and we should be able to count on the so-called Feminists, of all people, to protest that attitude. But no, it is left to Evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics to defend women when the Feminists act like apologists for the oppressors and the woman-haters.
Feminism has lost all the moral credibility it once had. A century ago, courageous women campaigned for the vote and admission to the professions and I bet they never in their wildest imaginations foresaw a time when, having attained the vote, women would use it to defend the killing of unborn children merely because they were women.
Feminists are anti-women and anti-children. They are apologists for socialist tyranny and they don't deserve sympathy, support or respect. They are primary agents of the culture of death and they must be fought with all the strength that decent people can muster.
And why, exactly, other than clever marketing techniques, are they called "Feminists"?
Saturday, April 7, 2012
"Jimmy Carter supports same-sex ‘marriage’ as he launches his new Bible"
No thanks, I'll keep my old one by God that does not support mockery of marriage.
So, who exactly is God again?
We admire Timothy Cardinal Dolan's honesty, but isn't it about 50 years late?
Wait, isn't it the job of the Left to persecute Christians?
"Betrayal of the Crucifix: As PM urges support of Christianity, his own Minister tells Europe Britons do not have right to wear cross at work"
David Cameron's "Conservative" Party is going to get in trouble with the Labour Party, which specializes in persecuting Christians. Now the Left and the "Right" is competing to see who can be most intolerant of Christianity. Only in Britain you say? Well, so far anyway.
Does This Encapsulate Obama's Foreign Policy or What?
One of Vanderbilt University’s largest Christian student organizations has announced it will formally break ties with the Tennessee school, becoming the latest victim of the college’s intolerant policy on student club leadership.
Vanderbilt Catholic announced last week that is it unable to comply with the school’s new nondiscrimination policy that prohibits student groups from maintaining belief or faith-based qualifications for leadership positions.
“The Administration is forcing religious groups to open leadership positions to all students, regardless of whether or not they practice the religion or even know anything about it,” Father John Sims Baker, chaplain of the 500-member Catholic group, explained.
Vanderbilt updated the school’s nondiscrimination policy at the beginning of March, applying what administrators call an “all-comers” policy to student groups. The policy states: “Registered student organizations must be open to all students as members and must permit all members in good standing to seek leadership posts.”
Vanderbilt Catholic’s leadership has explained that the organization allows any student to become a member but requires those in leadership to share the group’s beliefs.
Any student group wishing to remain affiliated with Vanderbilt during the next school year is required to sign an agreement to abide by the new nondiscrimination policy and submit group bylaws that ensure inclusion of any student wishing to become a member or leader.
In a letter to its members announcing that the group will move off campus for the next school year, Vanderbilt Catholic’s student board wrote:
After much reflection, discussion, and prayer, we have decided that Vanderbilt Catholic cannot in good conscience affirm that we comply with this policy.… We are a faith-based organization. A Catholic student organization led by someone who neither professes the Catholic faith nor strives to live it out would not be able to serve its members as an authentically Catholic organization. We cannot sign the affirmation form and remain [a registered student organization] because to do so would be to lie to the university and to ourselves about who we are as an organization.
Vanderbilt Catholic joins four other evangelical student groups who are unable to abide by the new policy in good conscience, relinquishing their official status with the school and losing the use of school facilities for meetings. The Christian Legal Society, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Beta Upsilon Chi, and Graduate Student Fellowship will also make plans to leave campus.
Here is the clip where he interprets weather as climate change, something you are never supposed to do when the weather is nice.
So there were some tornadoes in "Tornado Alley" this week. And so a microphone-seeking politician is trying to hijack weather for his doomsday predictions. That is two things that have been going on for a long time.
Does he really think tax payers are going to listen to his threats? Isn't London supposed to be under six feet of water by now? What happened to global warming during the last 15 years? Or is it supposed to be global cooling now? No, that was the 1970s. It is hard to keep up with which disaster the doomsday cult is prophesying at the moment.
This is What Totalitarianism Looks Like: Politicians Presuming to Determine What True Christianity Is
No unbiased observer can pretend any longer that all the sexual revolutionaries want is tolerance. They want to take over that part of the Christian Church that they can intimidate and destroy the rest. These politicians are claiming the right to determine what true Christianity is.Glen Murray: "I have to say to the bishops: 'You're not allowed to do that anymore.'"AndCheri di Novo: "We need to do so much more. It's just not enough anymore to condone any of the actions of those who pretend to be Christian-because they're not. That's what I'll say: They're not Christian."
We have seen this script played out over and over again in the twentieth century. Every totalitarian government is threatened by the Church teaching Christian truth and by families that are not controlled by government bureaucrats. Nazis, Communists, Progressives: they all do the same thing. They come into conflict with the Church and the Family because they are trying to intrude into every aspect of life and impose their Utopian ideologies on every facet of human existence.
But it is highly doubtful if they would be so bold if it were not for the Judas-like betrayal of Christ and his body by the liberal Protestants. They provide cover for these neo-pagan revisionists and allow them to pretend to be a form of Christianity. The United Church and the Anglican Church today function like the German Christians under Hitler and the Orthodox Church under Stalin. They trade the freedom to criticize the regime for the privilege of operating without persecution. They are the "court prophets" who bless the State in exchange for money, prestige and protection from persecution. They already have their reward.
The sexual revolutionaries shout "Theocracy" the minute anybody dares to disagree with their radical anti-life, anti-family, anti-marriage agenda. Social conservatives are criticized for wanting to "impose their values" on everybody else. What blatant hypocrisy! All this talk of "hidden agenda" and "theocrats" is nothing but pure projection.
What they want is an "atheocracy" and they mean to impose it by force. Their weapons are not dogma and scripture, but political correctness, "diversity" (by which they mean uniformity) and "inclusion" (by which they mean exclusion of the truth). They want to impose their values on us by force, so to divert attention from their true agenda, they project their own will-to-power on Christians and accuse us of what they themselves actually are guilty. Since the mainstream media agrees with them ideologically, the meme is picked up and spread. They have learned their lesson well from Goebbel: they know the lie must be big and repeated endlessly. This is their strategy.
Will it work? Time will tell. But Christians should not be intimidated or silent. We should speak out against sodomy, against promiscuity, against the hyper-sexualizing of our children in public schools through so-called "sex education," against attacks on marriage as the foundation of society and against bullying of parents and teachers by "gay activists" bent on imposing their warped values on us. It is time for conservatives to stand up and be counted. Of course we will be called names; Jesus told us to expect that. But if being called names intimidates you, just wait until the persecution ramps up; you will wish that all that was happening was that you were being called bad names.
For those who don't know, this post might make more sense if you were aware of the fact that Cheri de Novo is an ordained United Church of Canada minister.