Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If Roman Polanski Wore a Roman Collar

The Roman Polanski story is all over the internet and the other media. What a sad and sordid mess. Margaret Cabiniss has what I think is the final, definitive word on the utter hypocrisy of the pedophile's defenders in Hollywood, France and other gutters. She writes an article entiled: "If Roman Polanski Wore a Roman Collar" and she nails it. She is indebted to a post by Father Thomas Reese over at the Newsweek blog "Father Polanski Would Go to Jail," which is well-worth reading.

The only good that might come out of this (other than a long sentence in a tough prison for this unrepentant, repulsive, excuse for a man) is that it flushes out the people who, by supporting Polanski reveal themselves to have absolutely no moral credibility on anything from now on. Let's keep a list.

You know you are in trouble when Woody Allen is in your corner.
You know you are in trouble when Hollywood rallies to your support.
You know you are in trouble when the French intellectual and artistic class is on your side.

The biggest joke is the reflexive anti-Americanism that becomes the excuse for everything that is wrong with the world. Did they forget that Obama is now president? Didn't his apologies for everything make is all right? Or is it really America that they hated all along and not just President George W. Bush?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Terrific Ministry in Our Church

This is not anything I take credit for in any way, but it is one of the things about my local church that make me feel privileged to belong. One of our men's Bible study groups has taken on the job of serving the single mothers in our congregation. They just finished painting the entire townhouse of one of the single mothers in our church and they did a whole list of odd jobs around the house while they were at it. The boys in that family know that their earthly father left them but they also know that God has provided men from our church who care about them and seek ot mentor them. One of the younger teen boys in that same family was trained to drive the ride-on tractor and do the lawns at our church by a man who is unable to have a family of his own. He and his wife are trying to adopt, but in the meantime he leads this ministry to single mothers.

We have been at our church for over six years now and I love the people there and the evidence of God's Spirit at work. We moved from the (US) equivalent of an American Baptist Church to the (Canadian) equivalent of a Southern Baptist Church and at first we were not quite sure how this was going to work out. We were a little dubious about being in such a conservative setting. But I have found that the church has surprised us in so many ways and I believe that I've been changed more through my ministry there (I'm the part-time Theologian in Residence now) than the church has been changed by my ministry.

Our Youth Pastor is a graduate of Liberty University. We have a number of home-schooling and Christian-schooling families, as well as a number of teachers in the public school system. We are located in a growing suburb of Toronto that is part of a dynamic metropolitan area of over 6 million people. We are become steadily more and more multi-cultural and reflective of our community. I noted that when the grade 3-4 kids were called forward to help lead a song with rhythm instruments a couple of weeks ago, the majority were brown and black in skin color. We have over 20 different first languages among our people and literally have people from every continent (except Australia). We have more and more East Indian and Asian lately, having had a large Caribbean contingent for a long time. We also have immigrants from Eastern Europe and Latin America. It is a dynamic place with an attendance of 450 on Sunday morning, over 150 adults in mid-week Bible study groups and the same number in adult SS. Our children's choir and Kidds With Purpose groups are extremely active and the youth group is growing quickly. We are only 18 years old and our building was finished in 2002.

The church has people in it and so it is not perfect. But the vision for missions, the authenticity of discipleship, the humility of the leadership and the guiding vision of our pastor make for a healthy and growing church.

Why do I say all this? Well, simply to encourage anyone reading this blog about the health and reality of the local church. Don't believe all the doom and gloom. Rumours of the death of the church are greatly exaggerated and have been for 2000 years. Sure there are dead patches; there always have been. But the Spirit is constantly causing signs of new life to sprout up all around us - if we have the eyes to see and, in my case, if we dare to try a new church that has a reputation for being conservative.

Is This a Good Idea? Politicians Telling Bankers How to Bank

From the Times of London comes a story on a recent interview with Prime Minister Gordon Brown. It raised a question for me, well actually several questions.
"Suggesting a major shift in his thinking, Mr Brown said that he would outline
tough new rules on the banking industry in his major speech to conference this

He said that he had a change of heart at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh last week, which had prompted in him a determination to toughen the rules on banks that want to return to "business as usual" and "the bad old days".

He said: "In the last few days I’ve become utterly convinced just how far we all have to go. The banks are anxious to return to the bad old days. A lot of people haven’t understood the damage that banks have done. I think the banking system forgot that. I’m determined we clean up once and for all."

He then added he would be introducing "the toughest action of any country in the world". He suggested that a fiscal responsibility Bill would be introduced in the Queen’s Speech, which would legally commit current and future ministers to bring down debt. This morning he suggested this legislation would "ban the new bonuses".

He added: "It will also say that where there is a bad behaviour the FSA [Financial Services Authority] will have the right to intervene and where a company doesn’t [behave] there will be penalties imposed."

The Government has already said that banks would have to pay bonuses from a bonus pool linked to profitability – plans the banks are relaxed about. It was not immediately clear whether the proposals signalled by Mr Brown this morning would go further than what has already been announced. Downing Street suggested more details would emerge later today.

"We will be saying to people we are not going to allow in any way a return to the terrible days where bonuses were based on speculation and short-term deals," Mr Brown said."
OK, I don't know much about banking and I'm no economist. But it strikes me as a bit of a stretch to think that the British people should feel comforted that politicians (who can't even manage their own expense accounts) are going to be telling business how to do their business.

Banks have been around for a long time and the profit motive drives their behaviour. If they operate inefficiently or take too many (or too few) risks, they lose money and people get fired. Seldom can employees trick their employers into keeping them on even though they are incompetent by hiring advertising firms and doing polling to figure out how to manipulate opinion in their favor - as politicians frequently do.

Now, it seems impossible for me to believe that government bureaucrats sitting in offices isolated from the rough and tumble of the marketplace can determine which rules should be applied to the banks at which times and in which ways? Doesn't that almost make the banks' own management a bit superfluous? Well, maybe that is an exaggeration: but doesn't it tolerate interference with a business enterprise that goes a tad too far? (I'm in favor of regulation that levels the playing field, staves off monopoly and protects consumers from being shafted. But there must be a limit somewhere.)

And is the motive of government here not driven by polls, elections and public opinion? I note that Brown claims to have had a "change of heart" at the G20 summit! Last week, he decided that this new regulation was needed! Are we supposed to think that public posturing for the next election has nothing to do with this "change of heart?" Wouldn't it be better to have a PM governing with his mind, rather than his "heart" on a matter of bank regulation?

Overall, the most troubling aspect of Brown's attitude to me is his apparent confidence (demonstrated over the past 12 years of New Labour) that the solution to the problems of the world are more government interference - in schools, in families, in churches, in businesses - in everything. He seems to think that tweaking the regulations can prevent the business cycle for having recessions as well as booms, despite the fact that the business cycle has been going on for hundreds of years and if it was so simple would not the government have done it just before the current recession? It reminds one of Obama's contention that he can save 500 million from waste in Medicare. Why not just save it and then discuss how to spend the money, if it is that easy?

The Enlightenment, I'm afraid, is not yet over. The hubris of the socialists persists through economic thick and thin. But I'm not convinced that more big government, more regulation, more merging of corporate and government culture into one huge bureaucracy no one can control is the way to save the world. But I think it might well be a way to ruin the world.

Pope Benedict XVI Continues to Evangelize Europe

Hilaire Belloc famously said "Europe is the faith" and he was right to the extent that no other culture (so far) has been as deeply imprinted with the spirit of Christianity as has Europe. Yet Europe is dying - spiritually atheistic, failing to reproduce itself, intellectually barren, morally relativistic, politically drifting into the soft totalitarianism of the nanny state. Nevertheless, Benedict does not give in to despair and lose hope of revival and reform.

He does not retreat into his apostolic palace and give directions for the pastoral care of the remaining Catholics until they and their parishes die out. Instead he preaches the Gospel in season and out of season and proclaims the Lordship of Jesus Christ. From his vantage point, he sees that the Church is growing rapidly and expanding in influence in Africa and Asia, even though stagnant in Europe. He thinks in terms of centuries, not "five-year plans" or even the scope of his own lifetime. What a gift to the Church (including those of us Christians who are beyond the borders of the Roman Catholic Church) he is in these days. Even though he is one of the greatest living intellectuals of Europe, he is able to speak simply and authentically to common people and he always has important things to say about truth, virtue, personhood, God and eternal life.

Victor Simpson of AP summarizes his trip to the Czech Republic as follows: [My comments in red]

BRNO, Czech Republic (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that all of Europe -- and not only this ex-communist country -- must acknowledge its Christian heritage as it copes with rising immigration from other cultures and religions. [Note the imperative "must." He is not afraid to call people to faith.]

The second day of Benedict's pilgrimage to this highly secular country was marked by a joyous open-air Mass that drew tens of thousands of pilgrims and a sober message for the entire continent. "History has demonstrated the absurdities to which man descends when he excludes God from the horizon of his choices and actions," Benedict said. [Always, his messages are framed by historical perspective. Speaking to the modern world, he appeals to history as Thomas might have appealed to nature.]

Church organizers estimated that 120,000 people packed a field beside an airport in this southern city for what was expected to be the biggest turnout of his trip. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said it was the largest turnout for a Mass in the history of the Czech Republic. [An important point for the children of this world.]

Cheering crowd members from the Czech Republic and neighboring countries including Austria, Germany, Poland and Slovakia sang and waved Czech and Vatican flags. Emergency services said 18 people collapsed and were treated for dehydration, and a police officer was hospitalized with injuries after falling from his horse. [Filler details required by newspaper editors.]

The 82-year-old pontiff was making the three-day visit as Czechs prepare to mark 20 years since their 1989 Velvet Revolution shook off an atheistic communist regime that ruthlessly persecuted the Roman Catholic Church. [At least the Catholic Church is aware enough of history to time things like this with aplomb.]

The pope warned that technical progress was not enough to "guarantee the moral welfare of society." "Man needs to be liberated from material oppressions, but more profoundly, he must be saved from the evils that afflict the spirit," Benedict told the crowd from under a white canopy beside a 40-foot-high stainless-steel cross. The German-born pope spoke in Italian, and his words were translated into Czech. [Here he zeros in on the weakness of modernity; we are technological giants and moral degenerates.]

Later Sunday, in talks with leaders of other faiths and branches of Christianity, Benedict broadened his message to all of Europe. "As Europe listens to the story of Christianity, she hears her own," the pope said during the meeting at Prague's medieval Hradcany Castle. "Her notions of justice, freedom and social responsibility, together with the cultural and legal institutions established to preserve these ideas and hand them on to future generations, are shaped by her Christian inheritance."

Europe's religious roots, he said, "supply the continent with the spiritual and moral sustenance that allows her to enter into meaningful dialogue with people from other cultures and religions."
Lombardi said the pope shook hands with Jewish leaders at that meeting, but did not mention atrocities against Jews during World War II. An estimated 80,000 Czech Jews perished in the Holocaust, which decimated the nation's Jewish community. [With all the doom and gloom about the loss of faith in Europe, it is good for the pope to remind us (especially me!) of the degree to which the influence of the Christian Faith is still being felt for good in Europe. The reference to the Jews is entirely gratituitous, inserted by the writer/editor for their own political reasons, which have to do with trying to paint the pope as being against the Jews. It only works for the ignorant; although unfortunately that is a quite a large group.]

Benedict is using the trip to recall communist-era religious repression and to urge Czechs to reconsider a faith many have abandoned. [Here is the heart of his evangelistic message. Like John Paul II, he tries to connect anti-communism with Christianity.]

In a meeting with other Christians, he also mentioned Jan Hus, a 15th-century religious reformer seen as a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation who was burned at the stake. He is considered a national hero here. The pope said discussion of the case was important not only in the quest for Christian unity but also "for the good of all European society." [This pope has always been concerned to overcome Catholic-Protestant divisions in order to support each other in the face of the true enemy: atheistic materialism.]

His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, visited the former Czechoslovakia three times, but this weekend's tour is Benedict's first here as pope. Although the nation of 10 million has given him a lukewarm reception, he received an enthusiastic welcome Sunday in the country's Roman Catholic heartland. "The pope's never been here. It's a unique experience to see him," said Daniel Rampacek, a 21-year-old student from the southeastern town of Breclav. "Above all, people need hope, especially now at a time of (economic) crisis." [Whoever is looking for hope has come the right place!]

The Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries in Europe. In 1991, 4.5 million of the country's 10 million people said they belonged to a church, but a 2001 census showed that number had plunged to 3.3 million. Recent surveys suggest the number of believers remains low; about one in two respondents to a poll conducted by the agency STEM said they don't believe in God.

Under communism, the church was brutally repressed. The regime, which seized power in 1948 in what was then Czechoslovakia, confiscated all church-owned property and persecuted many priests. Churches then were allowed to function only under the state's control and supervision.
In his traditional Sunday Angelus blessing, Benedict urged the crowd not to forget their "rich heritage of faith." [The facts in this paragraph are not unrelated to the ones in the previous paragraph. A people has been brutalized by atheistic materialism and has yet to recover. Yet, for Benedict, that does not mean there is no hope for the future. Perhaps it will take time for people to discover that Western liberal democracy is just as materialistic and nihilistic as Communism apart for a living Christian faith.]

"Maintain the spiritual patrimony inherited from your forebears . . . guard it and make it answer to the needs of the present day," he said.

The pope, who has been giving his speeches in either English or Italian, is making his first foreign trip since he broke his right wrist in a fall while on vacation in July. He told reporters aboard his plane that he is finally able to write again and hopes to complete a new book by next spring.

Final Comments:
1. The pope does not travel and give speeches merely to reinforce the status quo. He is an evangelist looking for conversion, change and spiritual growth.
2. He never comes accross as a slimey politician ready to cut a deal, but always as an evangelist, pastor and spiritual director.
3. Every time I read Pope Benedict's speeches and sermons, I find myself asking "Why can't the Archbishop of Canterbury speak like this?"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Is Obama Chanelling George Bush?

The Times of London today reports some sentences attributed to Barack Obama, which, if accurate, suggest that he is chanelling George W. Bush. (Note especially the red letter words.)

"Britain, France and the United States set the stage for a dramatic
confrontation with Iran when they revealed the existence of a secret nuclear
site inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom as evidence of Tehran’s efforts
to deceive the international community.

The coup de théâtre came at the opening of the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh after three days of intense diplomacy at the UN General Assembly. President Obama, President Sarkozy and Gordon Brown took turns to demand that Iran disclose its nuclear ambitions and threaten new sanctions.

Later, Mr. Obama raised the spectre of military conflict, saying that failure by Iran to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons would lead down “a path that is going to lead to confrontation”.

“Iran is on notice that when we meet with them on October 1 they are going to have to come clean and they are going to have to make a choice,” he said.

Mr. Obama added that he would prefer a diplomatic resolution but added: “We do not rule out any options when it comes to US security interests. It’s up to the Iranians to respond.”"

I said last year on this blog that those pacifists, who supported Obama over McCain because they were so over-the-top hysterically opposed to Bush and the invasion of Iraq, were being naive to think that voting Democrat was going to make any serious difference as far as the wars are concerned. I said that Bush was not running so the voters could not punish him. I said that Democratic presidents go to war more often than Republican ones (Woodrow Wilson - WW I, FDR - WW II, JFK and LBJ - Vietnam). I also said that Obama's peace-loving, naive, apologizing for America tone would only tempt America's enemies to try to roll him, like Kruschev thought he could roll Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On the other hand, if McCain had been elected we might well have a 5th anti-Roe vote on the Supreme Court by now and be on the verge of putting another one on if Ginsberg steps down for health reasons. Such a change in the make-up of the court would have a generational effect on the abortion debate and, at the very least, would have sent it back to the states. Many states would impose partial restrictions and some might even impose total restrictions. Millions of lives would be saved every single year from here on out! Remember, we are talking millions of human lives, each one as intrinscally valuable as an innocent civilian life lost in a war.

Sure the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would still be going on if McCain had won. Sure the Iranain crisis would still be here. Sure Guantanomo would still be open. And how exactly is that different under "the One?" Sure he promised to close Guantanamo Bay, bring home the toops and heal the planet etc. etc. But promises are cheap and action is difficult. It is no wonder he is starting to sound like George W. Bush, seeing as how his policies have been so similar for the past ten months.

Obama claimed to be moderate on abortion; he said he wanted to find "common ground." But no one can name even one single, limited, moderate restriction he has placed on abortion, whereas there is a whole list of ways in which his policies have expanded access to abortion. He and his Democratic colleagues refuse to insert language into the health care legislation that would ensure that public money did not pay for abortion, thus confirming the suspicions of those who saw the health care program as "stealth FOCA."

I said that the choice was between two war-mongers, both of whom would keep abortion legal, but one of whom would at least take steps to impose some restrictions on the slaughter and would likely keep abortion from morphing into assisted suicide and euthanasia. Neither option was the Kingdom of God because Jesus wasn't running last year. But one was morally superior to the other from a reasoned, Christian perspective.

I'm not happy to have been right about Obama. He has been a tremendous disappointment to those who, in good faith, took him at his word as a moderate on abortion. Anyone who voted for him thinking he was more than a front man for the most extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party has surely by now been disillusioned.

And lest anyone try to use his sudden hawkishness on Iran as evidence of his "moderate" stance, let me just say once again that only the most naive among us actually believe that when it comes to war the liberals are any less ready to use violence than the conservatives. It doesn't make him conservative; it just makes him a liberal like all the other liberals.

There is only one kind of person who is happy Obama won and that is the kind of person who really wanted him to win precisely so that he could impose liberal policies, ramp up the welfare state and expand the power and reach of the Federal government as the method for solving social problems. That kind of person, however, was being dishonest in pretending that the war in Iraq was the big issue in the election. It was just a stick with which to beat McCain and promote Obama. Sure, people may have honestly been against the Iraq war but in reality the Iraq war was not the point. Getting a big-government liberal in the White House to finish what FDR and LBJ started was the point.

What I'm upset about is the good-hearted pacifists who are not big-government liberals who took the bait and fell for the flim-flam. The sanctity of human life would have been better served by electing the often bellicose war hero, as counter-intuitive as that might have seemed at the time. It's a lesson we would all do well to remember next time round.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Going Undercover at Liberty University

Kevin Roose was a typical, secular student at Brown University from a liberal Quaker family when he decided to transfer to Liberty University for a year to experience first hand what a conservative Evangelical enclave like Liberty was really like. His family was pretty worried that he might get burned at the stake or converted into a mindless zombie, but he told them to think of it as a year abroad program. In truth, he did visit a different culture.

His intention all along was to write a book about his experience and the result is The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University (Grand Central Publishing, 2009). This book, begun when the author was only 19, is one of the most encouraging and hopeful contributions to the culture wars I have ever read. Roose does not get saved and he does not change his liberal convictions, but he finds that the people he meets are sincere, real and a long way from being the stereotypical conservative zealots of the liberal imagination. He takes classes in Old Testament, New Testament, Theology, Evangelism, and Creation Science and participates fully in campus life, even to the point of singing in the 300 voice choir at the Thomas Road Baptist Church and going on a mission trip to Florida on Spring Break to do personal evanglism.

He discovers that a university with rules isn't such a bad thing and has no problem fitting in - to the point that he worries if he being converted. He even dates a nice Christian girl and has to call if off lest it become too serious. He worries about deceiving everybody and wonders how they will react when they find out he was there to write a book. But when he tells his friends, he finds them understanding and forgiving, although they insist on praying for him when they discover he isn't saved.

In a strange twist of fate, he ends up conducting the last interview given to the print media by Jerry Falwell before Falwell's untimely death just days before the end of Roose's semester at Liberty. His story about Falwell for the student newspaper, ironically, is a puff piece that focuses on humanizing Falwell, rather than engaging him on theological and social issues. One of the most interesting quotes is what he said in answer to his father's question as to how he found Falwell. Knowing that his father is looking for him to say that Falwell is really just like his caricature, Roose answers that Falwell is "a complicated man."

That quote summarizes the book for me. For Roose, Evangelicals and conservatives are not one-dimensional, cartoon characters who play their assigned roles in a long-running liberal morality play in which they represent the forces of darkness, superstition and evil. Rather, they are complicated people with feelings, sincerely held beliefs and many good points, along with many flaws and wrong-headed opinions, as well as good ideals they sometimes live up to and sometimes don't. In short, they are human.

Roose, too, is a complicated man. I mean that as a sincere compliment because he sounds like the kind of person who really is open to communication and who wants to understand conservatives. One can only wish that all of us were as open to understanding the other side as he is. May his tribe increase.

Do Only Neo-cons Have Concerns About Iran?

I've been accused of being a neo-con hawk, just because I criticize the anti-semitic, dictatorial, totalitarian regime in Iran and highlight what a threat it is to world peace as a hater of Israel and sponsor of terrorism. In this light of this, I've decided to come clean and "confess." Yes, yes . . . you were right. Obama and I actually are covert neo-cons. And of course, so is Gordon Brown. . .

All that liberal, progressive sweetness and light shouldn't fool the defenders of Ahmadinejad and co.. No sir, we are all neo-cons now. Madmen have a way of driving the sane representatives of different ideologies into alliance with each other.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

US Joins Canadian Boycott of Ahmadinejad's Anti-Semitic Ravings

According the the Globe and Mail, the US delegation walked out on Iranian president Ahmadinejad today, joining the Canadian delegation, which announced it would walk out yesterday. A number of other delegations joined the boycott, although details are not available yet.

The juvenile rantings of Ahmadinejad are getting tiresome and he shows no sign of backing down from his contentions that Israel is responsible for most of the evil in the world. He deserves no credibility, no credit and no cooperation from the rest of the world. Iran's revolution is running itself into the ground and the sooner it falls the better, hopefully as a result of a democratic uprising from within the country by those who are embarassed to have a madman representing them on the world stage.

There can be no peace deal in the Middle East until Iran ceases its interference and stops stirring the pot.

Canada to Boycott Ahmadinejad Speech at UN

Once again, Canada shows leadership on the Iran issue. The Globe and Mail reports that Canada's representative will walk out of the Iranian president's speech at the UN today becasue of "Mr. Ahmadinejad's “shameful” comments attacking Israel and denying the Holocaust." Kudos to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for having the courage to stand up to a bully.

Now, I wonder if President Obama will be in his seat for the speech? His record of appeasing dictators is getting worse and worse. He claims that his "engagement" is a superior foreign policy to Bush's "confrontational" one, but tangible results demonstrating that superiority are pretty difficult to see.

Canada's action is only symbolic, of course, but at least it shows the thuggish regime in Tehran that other countries in the world recognize it for exactly what it is. Somewhere in a dingy cell in a basement in Iran there may well be another Solzhenitsyn wondering if anybody out there cares enough about the people of Iran and their freedom to speak up. As of today, Canada does. Maybe tomorrow the world will join us.

Denial of Free Speech Will Lead to a Backlash and It Won't Be the Fault of Conservatives

Lorne Gunter has a nice piece in today's The National Post on the story from the town near Liverpool, England about the couple who have lost their hotel business and are being charged by the police using "threatening, abusive or insulting words" which were "religiously aggravated." You thought free speech was the law in broken Britain? Ah, no, not unless you are Muslim, in which case you can march and chant death to "X" (i.e. whoever it is this time) whenever you like.

He ends his column as follows:
"Government has no right, none at all, to regulate what free people may say
to one another about faith, politics or other beliefs. There are personal
consequences for what we say and those should be the limits of what any of us
has to endure.

Yet agents of the modern state believe themselves empowered to regulate
free speech all the time, in Canada every bit as much as Britain.

In Saskatchewan, human rights apparatchiks have ruled parts of the Bible
are hate speech. In Alberta, a pastor has been ordered to apologize for expressing views against homosexuality and ordered by the Alberta Human Rights Commission never to utter those views in public again.

If ordinary citizens don't demand of their politicians that they disband
the political correctness inquisitions, there will soon be Canadian versions of
the Vogelenzangs -- people who are criminally charged for stating their beliefs."

Now, here is the thing I want to point out. As the politically correct police become bolder and as ordinary people have their rights systematically abused, a groundswell of grass roots anger is bound to build. The leftists who advocate curbs on free speech claim that they are doing so in order to maintain social peace and harmony. What is one supposed to make of this claim, when it is obvious that their policies are socially divisive and eventually going to lead to anger, hatred and polarization? Are they sincere? Are they just out of touch? Are they stupid?

It is hard to know, but we know one thing for sure. When people begin to get mad and when antipathy toward immigrants begins to build, the liberals will blame "right-wing expremists" for it. So one wonders if that is their game all along: create intolerable social chaos, wait for the explosion and then use it to demonize the right - while buttresing their own entrenched power positions.

I honestly don't know. As David Brooks recently said: "I don't have a machine for peering into the souls of Obama's critics." (He said this, I'm pretty sure, to make it clear that he didn't have access to the one his fellow New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd apparently owns - you know, the one that allowed her to know that Joe Wilson said "You lie!" but was actually thinking "You lie, boy!")

Anyway, whatever the explanation - evil scheming or just good intentions couples mixed with deplorable short-sightedness - the liberal attempt to link in the public mind these two issues - immigrants and taking away our right to free speech - is going to hurt democracy, hurt people, hurt immigrants and hurt the credibility of all liberal/progressive causes.

Anybody can screw up, but it takes real talent to make that much of a mess with one, single policy. But remember: intolerance, racism and a backlash against immigrants - all this is the result of liberal social policy, not conservative philosophy. If we conservatives had our way on this one, a lot of pain and evil could be avoided.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Let the Pandas Go Extinct!

"The television presenter said that the species was not strong enough to
survive on its own and that the millions spent preserving them could be better
spent elsewhere.

Mr Packham, who hosts BBC2’s Springwatch, also argued that breeding the
animals in captivity for later release was pointless because there is not enough
habitat left to sustain them.

He said: “Here’s a species that of its own accord has gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac. It’s not a strong species.

“Unfortunately, it’s big and cute and it’s a symbol of the World Wildlife Fund – and we pour millions of pounds into panda conservation. “I reckon we should pull the plug. Let them go with a degree of dignity.”"

Thus began a story in The Daily Telegraph today. What an unlikely place for an outbreak of common sense: the BBC! Telegraph bloggers have been jumping all over this story in an unusual display of agreement.

James Kirkup entitled his post: "Pandas: let's just eat the idiot-bears" and wrote:
"Thank you Chris Packham, thank you. Thank you for saying something I’ve
been trying to persuade people of for years. Pandas are pointless, wasteful and silly. They should die.

Let’s look at the facts here. A lot of conservationists argue that pandas
are the victims of man’s actions, that urbanisation and industrialisation is
killing the precious bamboo they need to live.

Eh? Bamboo? They are bears, but they eat leaves. Hello, excuse me? Panda
bear. Bear. You know, large, aggressive carnivore. Big teeth, claws. Grrrr.
You’re supposed to eat meat. What on earth is with the bamboo thing? A panda’s
digestive system is still set up to digest meat. The reason they can only eat
only one of the hundreds of different types of bamboo the world has to offer is
that their guts aren’t supposed to break down bamboo. It’s elevating fussiness
to the level of suicide. It’s like me eating only car tyres and gravel and then
asking for sympathy when I starve to death. Idiots."

You know, he has a bit of a point there, as the Brits like to say. But not only are they fussy eaters, they are fussy about sex too. Kirkup again:
"Then there’s sex. Pandas don’t like sex. All that weird, zoo-keeper stuff
about putting two of them in a cage and seeing if they’ll mate. Honestly, an
animal either wants to perpetuate its genes or it doesn’t. And the idiot-bears
clearly have some species-wide death-wish. Who are we to stand in their way? I
thought the whole conservationism thing was about allowing nature to follow its
own course without human interference? Pandas don’t work. Let them go."

Another good point. As a conservative Christian I get tired of the atheists shoving evolution in my face all the time. Evolution makes men promiscuous; you can't do a thing about it. Evolution is the explanation for this, that and the other thing and always traditional values are apparently evolutionary dead-ends. OK, so let's talk evolution and pandas.

Why should we knock outselves out trying to perpetuate a species that is such an evolutionary dead end? Why can't we just admit that black bears, brown bears, grizzly bears and the panda's close relatives, polar bears, are all successful instances of evolutionary adaptation, but the panda is the evolutionary equivalent of "a nice try?"

After all, black bears happily adapt to eating campers' garbage at the campground we frequent every July in Algonquin Park; they don't require choice, moist bamboo leaves and go on hunger strikes when they don't get them. And they don't seem to mind sharing their habitat with humans at all. In fact, if we don't lock every single food item in the trunk every single night they will even come to visit! Now those bears are entrepreneurial and are obviously bent on survival. And, if you know anything about their mating habits, you know that they are not exactly monogamous like loons; they seem to have no objections whatsoever to sex any time with any bear in town.

Personally, I think Evolution dictates the solution to the panda problem.

Now, health care rationing has been in the news lately and it strikes me as relevant to this whole panda thing too. Obama thinks that, rather than curing disease in the very elderly, (which, I think, is defined as anyone older than you), we should just pop Granny a few cheap, pain pills and let nature take its course. Very rational man, that Obama; a real disciple of Jeremy Bentham. Knows how to put that old utilitarian calculus into action; he is certainly not one of those bleeding heart Republicans! Anyway, it turns out that it costs 1.5 million pounds per year to keep each and every one of those 150 pandas that we have in captivity around the world. Now, I'm willing to bet that by the time Obama squeezes savings of 500 million out of Medicare, he is going to be looking for easier ways to get that last hundred million. You know, 1.5 million pounds here and 1.5 million there soon adds up to serious cost savings. After all, if Granny has to go, what justification is there for keeping a 300 pound carnivore who only eats bamboo leaves, and is too fussy to have sex other than once a decade, around? I'd keep Granny for an extra year and eat the pandas.

James Delingpole has an excellent suggestion. That man is just full of practical business sense. What a waste as a journalist. Anyway, his idea is as follows:
"This could be a major conservation opportunity. There are approximately 1000
Pandas left in the wild. If hunting licences were granted at, say, $200 million
a pop to sicko billionaires, this would raise enough money (probably) to stop
global warming, rescue Tuvalu, and bio-engineer a brand new bamboo-rich planet
on which the graceful panda could live in peace and harmony for all
Come on Al Gore, you would trade 1000 wild pandas (and 150 more in zoos) if you actually could save the planet? As opposed to just making documentaries about it? Wouldn't you? Sure you would. (And who knows, there could be enough left over to keep Granny for say, maybe, 18 months longer.)

Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking: "But what about the World Wildlife Federation? Wouldn't they need a new logo?" Delingpole lists this as a concern, but I just don't get it. What on earth would be wrong with the WWF having an extinct animal in its logo? Isn't it just perfect? I mean, a non-existent animal as the symbol for a non-existent problem. I think this is exquisite. It was simply meant to be.

So there you have it. It is either pandas or the whole planet and I think it's a no-brainer. (And if we get to keep Granny for an extra year to year and a half, it's a win for everybody.) The pandas would probably be agitating for assisted suicide laws to help them go gently into that good night themselves right now - if they had any bloody initiative whatsoever.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Way to Go Amy!

The photo at the left was taken at the ISI sponsored "The Culture of Enterprise" international student essay contest award ceremony held recently in Philadelphia. The only girl in the picture is none other than Tyndale's own Amy Gabriel (aka "conservative cowgirl"). She captured second place and a $5000 (USD) prize. Her essay, which you can read online here is entitled "Globalization: Two Alternative Visions" and was developed out of work she did for my course, INDS 4753 Christianity and Culture at Tyndale last Fall. The paper deals extensively with The Brothers Karazamov, which we studied in the course, and is a very well-crafted and interesting paper. In the picture are Dr. John Templeton of the Templeton Foundation on the left and Dr. Cribb, president of ISI, on the right. The other four students are the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th place winners. Amy is finishing up at Tyndale this year, so graduate schools who are on the look out for excellent students might want to take note. Congratulations Amy!

Macleans Magazine Calls for Reform of the "Human Rights Commissions"

This is a link to a terrific story about the need to repeal Section 13, the hate speech clause, of the Canadian Human Rights Act in Maclean's Magazine (Sept. 20, 2009). This article gives you an excellent introductory overview of the issue if you are not familiar with it. We have gotten ourselves into a real mess with this whacky experiment in adminstrative law that has gotten out of control and morphed into a vehicle for persecution of Christians and busy body bureaucrats poking their noses into the lives of subjects without justification.

The story actually chastises Prime Minister Stephen Harper for not taking the action he knows is necessary to clean up the mess that is the Canadian Human Rights Commission. But the article also takes a run at Michael Ignatief, the Liberal Opposition Leader, for not joining with Harper to make the reform a non-partisan effort.

The Liberals have successfully used the tactic of painting the Conservative Party as neo-cons and, in liberal Canada, that works as a scare tactic. (They see neo-cons under every bed at election time!) So the Conservatives know that the Liberal Party will come after them on the human rights commission issue in an election campaign and that the situation is a bit too complicated to explain in sound bites to the voting public. Apparently, the Conservatives think they have a real shot at a majority and, if they get it, they can move at that time without fear. (The irony is that if the Liberals got a majority, section 13 would likely be history too. Only in a minority Parliament does it linger on like a foul smelling ghost no one can get rid of. But that is Canadian politics for you.) As the article notes: "Even the perennially left-wing editorial board of the Toronto Star has endorsed an end to Section 13, saying it “isn’t salvageable.” And when the Toronto Star, which usually loves all things bureaucratic, jumps off the bus, you know the end is near.

No one understands how precious and fundamental freedom of speech is until you lose or come close to doing so. My own experience with state power outside the rule of law has been one of this factors that has greatly increased my respect for conservative principles like individual liberty, limited government, the division of powers, the rule of law and religious freedom.

HT to Ezra Levant, who keeps beavering away on this topic. He deserves a lot of credit for not letting this thing die.

Breaking News: New Anglican Primate of Nigeria Also Believes in Evangelism!

Archbishop Peter Akinola, primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria for the past 10 years, is retiring and his successor, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, was recently elected. The Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria is the head of the largest province in the Anglican Communion and thus a key figure in the on-going reform of the Communion. Akinola was reviled by Western liberals because he was a truely post-colonial figure, that is, a man who refused to be cowed by Westerners whose faith had faded into cultural accomodation. He saw the role of the largest province in the Communion as being a leadership role, rather than being content to take orders from New York and Canterbury.

So the world has been waiting to see what kind of leader would follow Akinola. Would he be one who would be more "reasonable," that is, one who would be less willing to challenge the entrenched and wealthy power structures of the Communion? Would he be more "politically correct" and less oriented to evangelism? Would he be more open to Westerners re-defining the Gospel for Africans?

The answer to all these questions is clearly "No." So the predictable attacks have begun. Ruth Gledhill leads off in the Times of London with a story on a sermon preached by Okah when he was in England for the launch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in July. [My comments in red in square brackets.]

Muslims mass-producing children to take over Africa, says Archbishop
Ruth Gledhill

One of the most powerful figures in the Anglican Church believes that Africa is under attack from Islam and that Muslims are “mass-producing” children to take over communities on the continent. [The fact that Gledhill sees this as the most controversial and newsworthy statement in the sermon already betrays her nervousness about potential infractions of political correctness.]

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, 56, was elected Primate of Nigeria last week and his elevation could exacerbate tensions at a time when Anglicans are working to build bridges with Muslims. Dr Michael Nazir-Ali resigned as Bishop of Rochester earlier this year to work in countries where Islam is the majority religion. [Nazir-Ali isn't going on an Obama-like world apology tour. He is going there to strengthen the persecuted church.]

Nigeria is split almost half and half between Christianity and Islam. There are about 17 million practising Anglicans in the country, but they face persecution in the north, while the two faiths vie with local religions for supremacy in the rest of the country.

Archbishop Okoh made his controversial comments [Just think about this: to say that Islam is pushing for dominance in Africa is a controversial statement. It seems to me to be as straightforward a fact as "Africa is hot." What Muslim would deny it or want to deny it? This could only be controversial to the decadent, politically correct, liberal, Western mind. For everyone else it is a fact of life.] about Islam in a sermon in Beckenham, Kent, in July. He said that there was a determined Islamic attack in African countries such as Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.

They spend a lot of money, even in places where they don’t have congregations, they build mosques, they build hospitals, they build anything.

“They come to Africans and say, ‘Christianity is asking you to marry only one wife. We will give you four!’ ” Archbishop Okoh described this as “evangelism by mass-production”. [This is the statement referred to in the headline. Archbishop Okah sounds like he is against polygamy. Muslims in Africa are for it. Why does Gledhill label this "controversial"? What is "controversial" anyway? Factually innacurate? Impolite? True, but we must not say it out loud lest we offend someone? It is a weasel word.]

He said: “That is the type of evangelism they are doing: mass-production, so if you have four wives, four children, sixteen children, very soon you will be a village.”

Africa was “surrounded by Islamic domination,” he said, and he urged Christians to speak out now or lose the authority to speak. “I am telling you, Islam is spending in Uganda and in other places, it is money from the Arab World,” he claimed, accusing Christians of abdicating their responsibilities. “Who is the leader in the Christian world? There is no leader.” [I'm not sure but is he here reprimanding the West, or at least the liberal Protestants, for letting the worldwide missionary movement of the 19th century slip into oblivion due to a growing lack of conviction in the truth of the Gospel? If so, he is right.]

One senior member of Britain’s Muslim community said: “The views presented by the Archbishop are extremist and overwhelmed by Islamophobia and his elevation will certainly foster misunderstanding and extremism. Knowing the communal geography of Nigeria, he will be a massive danger to community relations and cohesion in his country, besides places like London.” [Translation: This guy is a threat to our hegemony.]

Islamophobia: isn't it interesting how they have learned how to utilize the Western lingo of political correctness to beat on Christians with? Note too that Christians who believe in evangelism are "extremists." Now where do you suppose a Muslim would get that idea? Hmm. I wonder - couldn't be liberal Anglican theologians and bishops, could it? I can just hear the Nigerians saying "Thanks guys - big help." I wonder if he thinks that Muslims who proselytize in Africa are "extremists"?

No doubt Christians preaching the Gospel does lead to a lack of "cohesion" in Islamic dominated societies. There is no help for that. Religious freedom is inherent in the image of God: no human has the right to forbid another to worship the Triune God.

It must be pretty discouraging for Christians on the front lines of Islam-Christian rivalry to know that the liberal Christians in the West are more interested in appeasing Muslims than supporting their fellow Christians.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Some British Muslims Who Get It

In support of the thesis of my last post, in which I attacked while, middle-class, busy-bodies for persecuting Christians in the name of "multi-cultural sensitivity" here is a heartening story from Britain via The Daily Telegraph. Well, the beginning isn't heartening but it gets better. Let's give it a fisking. [My comments in red and square brackets.]

"A five-page advice booklet tells civil servants that eating lunch near a colleague who is fasting can make them feel hungry. [It is hard not to be sarcastic about this sort of thing. I just imagine civil servants slapping their foreheads and saying "I never thought of that." It is just a good thing we have higher ups to think of these things for us.]

The Home Office Islamic Network produced the advice which said: “In practical terms, please be sensitive when eating lunch near a Muslim colleague who is fasting. [Are they not going to come right out and recommend that everyone fast? Or are you just supposed to hide?]

“This can make an individual feel hungrier and make it more challenging to observe the fast.” [Apparently the Home Office has a vested interest in how perfectly Ramadan is kept. I wonder why that is; I thought Britain was supposed to be secular.] It also urged Home Office managers to be flexible over working hours because Muslims may be following a different routine during Ramadan, which finished this weekend.

“The most likely need Muslim staff may present to managers during this period is for flexibility around working hours and break times as those fasting will have a slightly different routine from usual. Managers and Muslim staff should discuss what their needs are and be responsive and sensitive,” the document said. [In other words, please tip toe around these dangerous people. You never know when they are going to blow up - figuratively or literally.]

Managers were also told: “Muslim staff who are fasting and whose environment allows it may wish to set out for work earlier than usual and finish their working day correspondingly early...in line with flexi-time arrangements.” During the holy month devout Muslims do not drink or eat from dawn until sunset and, according to the document, must avoid ‘all obscene and irreligious sights and sounds’.

The Islamic Network is one of a number of staff faith and equality groups within the Home Office and paid for by the taxpayer. The booklet was distributed to staff and posted on the department’s internal intranet system but the Home Office said it was not “formal departmental guidance.” [OK, so far, so depressing. But now it is about to get interesting.]

But the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, which claims to be fighting a ‘political jihad against Islamophobia’, attacked the document. [All right! An outbreak of common sense!] It said: “It is designed to create more hatred in the hearts of non-Muslims. [Bingo.] We don’t care how much non-Muslims eat in front of us. “It’s never been an issue and never will be and we have never asked for any special treatment or sensitivity from non-Muslims whilst fasting.” [In other words, we aren't children. Stop treating us that way.]

This is exactly how I would expect ordinary Muslims with any sense of how to get along in a multi-cultural society to react. We don't need special treatment, just leave us alone. And don't go around making the majority afraid of us. We are not china dolls; we don't shatter easily. And if we have a problem we can work it out; we are not likely to resort to violence at the drop of a hat. Frankly, the white, middle-class bureaucrats look like the only racists on site.

No Free Speech for Christians Please - We're British!

Via James Delingpole's blog at the Daily Telegraph comes another in a dreary string of persecution of Christian stories in New Labour's Britain. It seems that there was a religious debate - the sort of thing that happens daily in free societies - between a hotelier and his wife and their Muslim guests. Here is the account from the news story in the Telegraph:
"Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang are charged with breaching Section 5 of the
Public Order Act – causing harassment, alarm or distress. If convicted, they
face fines of £2,500 each and a criminal record.

The Muslim woman was staying at the Bounty House Hotel in Liverpool,
which is run by the Vogelenzangs, when a conversation arose between the
hoteliers and their guest about her faith.

is understood that among the topics debated was whether Jesus was a
minor prophet, as Islam teaches, or whether he was the Son of God, as
Christianity teaches.

Among the things Mr Vogelenzang, 53, is alleged to have said is that
Mohammad was a warlord. His wife, 54, is said to have stated that Muslim dress
is a form of bondage for women.

The conversation, on March 20, was reported by the woman to Merseyside
Police. Officers told the couple that they wanted to interview them over the

After being questioned on April 20, they were interrogated again three
months later before being charged on July 29 with a religiously-aggravated
public order offence. They appeared in court on August 14 and are now awaiting

Mr and Mrs Vogelenzang do not accept that they were threatening or abusive
in any way. David White, who is representing them, said that they believe they
have the right to defend their religious beliefs."

I worked for several years in a furniture refinishing and upholstery shop and debates over religion were a staple of the discussion. There was lot's of profanity, atheist sneering, mockery of religion and occasionally some heated exhanges. But nobody thought of calling the police! This is a free country, we used to say with conviction. Well, things are different now in Canada, but they are even worse in Britain and I'm afraid Canada is heading in the same direction if we do not get rid of the mis-named "Human Rights Commissions" (more accurately named "Thought Police).

What is wrong with Britain? Are Muslims like touchy children who will explode if not handled with kid gloves? (I don't think so, but obviously somebody does.) Is that the reputation Muslims want to have? Don't the police have better things to do than insert themselves into private religious debates between private citizens? Why was a complaint like this not ignored, if not laughed at? What kind of draconian laws prevent people from expressing sincerely held, widely-shared religious opinions about any and all religions? Can Christians get Richard Dawkins thrown in jail for mocking their beliefs? If not, why can Muslims get Christians thrown in jail for mocking their's? What has happened to equality before the law? (Or are some animals more equal than others in this Orwellian state?) If Muslims hate Christianity so much why would they immigrate to a Christian country?

But I don't blame the Muslims. Let us be clear; they are a small minority and they have no power of their own. They may well try to act like they are still in a Muslim theocracy, but they wouldn't be able to get away with it without help from the establishment. Who I blame are the white, middle-class, liberal, anti-Christian, mutli-culturalists who use the religious sensibilities of minority religions as a handy club with which to beat Christians. (To the extent that Muslims play along with them they are not being very smart, because when there are no Christians left to beat on the Muslims can be well-assured they will be the next target themselves of the anti-religious bigots.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Abortion and the Triumph of Ideology Over Science

Jill Stanek, has a note on her blog about a new study in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology on the risk that abortion has for future pregnancies in terms of premature delivery, low birth rate etc. It is entitled "Induced termination of pregnancy and low birthweight and preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analyses" and it is by a researcher from the University of Toronto, Dr. Prakesh Shah.

Stanek writes:

"This is certainly not new news, just corroboration. Meanwhile the preeminent organization devoted to preventing preterm births, the March of Dimes, still refuses to list "induced abortion" as a risk on its webpage."

If abortion is so good for women, one wonders why crucial medical information must be withheld from them in order that they might exercise "choice" in the "right" way. The fact is that abortion is a tragic choice that always has consequences of one type or another - beyond the killing of a new human being - and so promoting it as "liberation" or as a "blessing" is just plain wrong and should be recognized as such even by pro-choicers. The fact that it is not tells you that to be pro-choice is not to be pro-woman.

Andrew Sullivan in the Grip of the Culture of Death

Andrew Sullivan thinks he has a knock down argument against social conservatives. So what is this terrible and horrifying thing of which social conservatives are guilty? He argues that statistics show that more fundamentalist teens give birth. Horrors! Don't those mothers have the decency to take their daughters to the abortionist and then get them on the pill like upper middle class liberal mothers do?

Continuing his pathological Sarah Palin obsession (I think he is secretly in love with her!), he says "Sarah Palin's pattern is not anomalous." Never mind that Sarah Palin did not have a teen birth; her daughter did. Oh well, it must be her fault; everything else is.

Sullivan does not seem even to be capable of grasping the fact that there are worse things in the world than giving birth - many, many, worse things, in fact. I know, I know . . . giving birth as a teen mom is difficult. But all things considered, if only that were the worst evil our society was perpetrating.

Andrew Sullivan is so caught up in glorious raptures over the culture of death that he thinks that promiscuous, sterile sex and abortion are preferable to the struggle of parenting. And his charge against us social conservatives is that we presume to disagree with him. This is pathetic, to put it mildly. I'm afraid he will have to come up with something a lot worse than giving birth to a new, unique, human being made in the image of God to hurl as an accusation against social conservatives to prove how evil we are. If that is our worst fault, we are not doing too badly, all things considered, especially considering the alternatives.

Life is not the problem; sterility, shallowness, loneliness, individualism, hedonism, boredom and death are the real problems facing Western culture. The logical implication of Sullivan's outrage is that we should put every girl on the pill at puberty and then say to teens: "Go to it." The result of that could only be an exacerbation of these problems. Social conservatives are the last group of people in the West saying no to the full realization of the brave new world of the sexual revolution and, while we are imperfect, inconsistent and open to all sorts of swipes from our opponents, at least we still have the right idea: that sex and babies naturally go together, as inconvenient and messy as that might be.

HT - Dan at City of God

Never Again.

From The Times of London online comes this report of new resistance to the dictatorial regime in Iran that is behind so much of the unrest in the Middle East and which constitutes the single biggest obstacle to the peace process:
"In Tehran and other cities, tens of thousands of demonstrators hijacked
Iran’s annual al-Quds Day rallies in support of the Palestinian cause and turned
them into protests against the oppression of Iranians. The security forces hit
back with tear gas and baton charges. There were violent confrontations between
government and opposition supporters in the squares and avenues of central
Tehran and numerous reports of arrests and injuries.

In an address to the Friday prayers gathering in Tehran, Mr Ahmadinejad
caused international outrage by again dismissing the Holocaust as a myth and
claiming that the regime in Israel was collapsing. Yesterday’s turmoil, however,
suggested that his regime was the one in trouble."

We can only hope and pray that the regime falls and the sooner the better. Anything that replaced it would be an improvement, although the new regime would most likely be very far from perfect.

Ahmadinejad is no better than Hitler; and for once the parallel is literally accurate and justified. He is a vicious, unrepentant, open anti-semite with a publicly-announced, murderous agenda. He wants nuclear weapons to use on Israel or, at the very least, to threaten Israel and extract one concession after another until the State of Israel is destroyed. If Israel strikes at Iranian nuclear sites pre-emptively it will be justifiable self-defence just as much as striking the Egyptian air force was in 1967.

The muddle-headed, naive, liberal Westerners who always condemn Israel and who fail to condemn Iran for its attitudes and its actions are exactly the same as the appeasers who failed to stand up to Hitler prior to World War II. Unfortunately for the prospects of world peace, all appearances are that a new Neville Chamberlain now occupies the White House.

It is true that appeasement bought precious time for England to rearm, but why did she disarm in the first place? There is no evidence to suggest that the appeasers had that goal in mind anyway. One historical theory says that Hitler's generals would have staged a coup if the the Western allies had responded forcefully to the re-occupation of the Rhineland. Think of the agony the world would have been spared if that had happened.

Like Hitler, Ahmadinejad is playing a high stakes poker game and, like Hitler, he is not as invincible as he appears. This raises the question of why the West is not more forceful in support of the opponents of the Iranian dictatorship. Is it because it would make the job of those seeking to topple the regime harder if they were seen as puppets of the West? That had better be the real reason; not a craven willingness to appease a crude, violent, evil dictator bent on the destruction of the only state that is anywhere within hailing distance of being a just state in that part of the world.

Never again.

European Parliament Condemns Lithuania for Standing Up for the Family

It looks more and more like tolerance both for homosexuals and religious people who oppose the homosexual lifestyle is just not going to happen in the Western world. The aggressiveness of the pansexualist movement, its demonization of those of us who defend a traditional view of marriage and family, and the widespread tendency to conflate intolerance with disagreement means that either the traditional view will rally and maintain its legal and social dominance or else the pansexualist jaggernut will supress and outlaw the traditional view.

I personally, like the vast majority of reasonable people, would have preferred a compromise and mutual toleration. But the pansexualists are adamant and determined to trample religious freedom underfoot in order to realize their dream of a post-heterosexual society. They don't just want freedom for themselves as individuals; they want to re-shape society in their own image. Their committment to social engineering reminds one of the worst fanaticism associated with religion in past centuries. It is apparently just fine now that that boot is on the other foot.

Congratulations to Lithuania for standing up to the jaggernut.

"(NEW YORK – C-FAM) The European Parliament voted 349 to 218 today to
condemn Lithuania for its "law on the protection of minors" which prohibits
promotion of "homosexual, bisexual or polygamous relations" among children
under 18 in the Baltic nation. Conservative critics contend that the measure, crafted in reaction to the domestic legislation of a sovereign member state pertaining to the family, oversteps the Parliament's authority.

The resolution directs the Agency for Fundamental Rights to opine on
whether the law contravenes European anti-discrimination standards. Any such
opinion would be non-binding, though activists would likely use it to press
for greater recognition of rights based on "sexual orientation." An earlier proposal by the Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the "liberal" parliamentary faction, would have initiated proceedings to suspend Lithuania pursuant to article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, the 1992 pact that created the European Union
(EU). Parliamentarians principally affiliated with the Christian Democratic
grouping, the European People's Party (EPP), worked behind the scenes to soften
the resolution and remove the Article 7 reference.

While "progressive" parliamentarians lined up to charge Lithuania with
promoting "homophobia," several EPP and conservative members spoke in opposition to the measure and in support of the country's sovereign right to pass laws protecting families and children, including Lithuania's first post-Soviet head
of state Vytautas Landsbergis and Slovakian parliamentarian Anna

Read the rest here.

Let us remember that "progressive" here means those who hate tradition and Christianity, while confidently anticipating a brave new world built by the human will. It is heartening to me that the vote was so close, 349-218, because that means that the base must exist for a political movement that could challenge the "progressive" hegemony. Is European conservatism dead? Or is it lying dormant? Only time will tell.

Obama Disagrees with Jimmy Carter on Racism

When Barrack Obama says something right, he deserves credit. And in an interview this morning published by The Washington Times, he disagreed with recent high profile liberals that race is the motivating factor behind the opposition to his health care plan.
"President Obama said Friday that angry criticisms about his health care
agenda are driven by an intense debate over the proper role of government - and
not by racism.

"Are there people out there who don't like me because of race? I'm sure
there are," Mr. Obama told CNN. "That's not the overriding issue here.""

Later, Obama directly addressed the irresponsible remarks made by Jimmy Carter the other day:

"Time and again, Mr. Obama was asked about whether the tenor of the health
care turned nasty because of undercurrents of racism. Former President Jimmy
Carter raised the point prominently this week when he said the vitriol was
racially motivated.

Not so, Mr. Obama said.

"There's been a long-standing debate in this country that is usually
that much more fierce during times of transition, or when presidents are trying
to bring about big changes," Mr. Obama told CNN.

To NBC News, Mr. Obama put it this way: "It's an argument that's gone on
for the history of this republic, and that is, What's the right role of
government? How do we balance freedom with our need to look out for one another?
... This is not a new argument, and it always evokes passions.""

Obama was even right on the money in asserting that the media is largely to blame for stoking the race issue:
" Mr. Obama told CBS News that the media were partly to blame.

"The 24-hour news cycle and cable television and blogs and all this -
they focus on the most extreme elements on both sides," Mr. Obama said. "They
can't get enough of conflict. It's catnip to the media right now.""

However, he could have also admitted that the media would not have had nearly so much to report if the Democrats had not popped off about the issue and turned it into a partisan issue. Nevertheless, even if this is a good cop - bad cop routine designed to make the president look presidential while others play the race card to intimidate the critics, it is still good to see the president sounding like a man who is in touch with reality. It is good to see him speak truth.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Dangers of Socialism: Beyond Economics

Steven F. Hayward, writing in a feature in The New York Times "What is Socialism in 2009?" says:
"If we understand socialism in its strict definition — central economic
planning and public ownership of the means of production — then the president is
obviously not a socialist (with a mild caveat for the auto bailouts, the banks,

But if we step back a moment and consider “socialism” more broadly
as a step increase in political control of or intervention in the economy —
whether it be through a revival of Keynesian-style stimulus and things like
“cash for clunkers” subsidies, or through a government semi-takeover of the
health care sector — then the charge appears more salient.

The serious conservative critique of these socialist-like forms rests, in
one sentence, on the cognitive barriers to government commanding or allocating
resources effectively, which means we can expect very poor results, resembling
the sluggish, centrally directed economy of Britain in the 1970s."

Hayward's concern here is with economics and clearly he is right. But the deterimental effects of an enlarged welfare state on civil society, individual initiative and public morality must also be considered.

New Labour has transformed the UK by insitutionalizing the sexual revolution, reducing the influence of Christianity and promoting social justice without grounding it in any of the other major virtues. The result of so this, after so many decades of socialism since World War II, is the severe depletion of spiritual capital.

I used to think that the depletion of spiritual capital under socialism and welfare state liberalism was not necessary, but merely a contingent event that could be otherwise if only more moral people were in charge of liberal and social political parties. Now, however, I have come round to the view that the depletion of spiritual capital is inherent in socialism and welfare state liberalism because these economic systems are inherently immoral. The economics of envy and coercive re-distribution of wealth cannot produce the virtues. One wishes it were different, but this seems to be the way the world works and we cannot change human nature.

Populism and Big Government

David Brooks has some common sense things to say in The New York Times about the hysterical, over-the-top, playing of the race card in recent days by Jimmy Carter, Maureen Dowd and many others. Their willingness to stir up racist conflict just to score cheap political points on an entirely unrelated issue - health care - point simultaneously to the weakness of their position and the lack of civil debate today in the public square. Brooks writes:
"And yet we live in a nation in which some people see every conflict
through the prism of race. So over the past few days, many people, from Jimmy
Carter on down, have argued that the hostility to President Obama is driven by
racism. Some have argued that tea party slogans like “I Want My Country Back”
are code words for white supremacy. Others say incivility on Capitol Hill is
magnified by Obama’s dark skin.

Well, I don’t have a machine for peering into the souls of Obama’s critics,
so I can’t measure how much racism is in there. But my impression is that race
is largely beside the point. There are other, equally important strains in
American history that are far more germane to the current conflicts.

For example, for generations schoolchildren studied the long debate between
Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians. Hamiltonians stood for urbanism, industrialism
and federal power. Jeffersonians were suspicious of urban elites and financial
concentration and believed in small-town virtues and limited government.
Jefferson advocated “a wise and frugal government” that will keep people from
hurting each other, but will otherwise leave them free and “shall not take from
the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”

Jefferson’s philosophy inspired Andrew Jackson, who led a movement of plain
people against the cosmopolitan elites. Jackson dismantled the Second Bank of
the United States because he feared the fusion of federal and financial

This populist tendency continued through the centuries. Sometimes it took
right-wing forms, sometimes left-wing ones. Sometimes it was agrarian. Sometimes
it was more union-oriented. Often it was extreme, conspiratorial and
rude. The populist tendency has always used the same sort of rhetoric: for
the ordinary people and against the fat cats and the educated class; for the
small towns and against the financial centers.

And it has always had the same morality, which the historian Michael Kazin
has called producerism. The idea is that free labor is the essence of
Americanism. Hard-working ordinary people, who create wealth in material ways,
are the moral backbone of the country. In this free, capitalist nation, people
should be held responsible for their own output. Money should not be
redistributed to those who do not work, and it should not be sucked off by
condescending, manipulative elites.

Barack Obama leads a government of the highly educated. His movement
includes urban politicians, academics, Hollywood donors and information-age
professionals. In his first few months, he has fused federal power with Wall
Street, the auto industry, the health care industries and the energy

Given all of this, it was guaranteed that he would spark a populist
backlash, regardless of his skin color. And it was guaranteed that this backlash
would be ill mannered, conspiratorial and over the top — since these movements
always are, whether they were led by Huey Long, Father Coughlin or anybody
Maybe the left should pause from their rabid partisanship for just a moment and take a deep breath so that they can reflect on two facts: first, that the fact that the United States last Fall became only the second country in modern history to elect a member of a racial minority to its highest office and, second, that by tarring so many of their fellow citizens with the brush of racism they are in effect raising the question of whether or not there is truth to the conservative charge that they hate their own country with a blindness born of ideology fanaticism.

The Pansexualist Agenda in Public Schools

California is a trendsetter. So if you have a child or grandchild who has just been born, then this is what may very well await them when they hit high school (if not middle school) if you should choose to place them in public education.
"A homosexual activist group is claiming that groups at dozens of high
schools and middle schools in California, including at least one Catholic
school, have signed up to show and discuss its explicit films. The films include
one in which a boy “comes out” by wearing his mother’s bikini.
Another film uses Native American spirituality to depict lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) people as being “two-spirit” people.

Parts of the discussion materials encourage students to question
whether religious and cultural celebrations such as bar mitzvahs wrongly
discourage homosexual and transgender lifestyles, the Pacific Justice Institute
(PJI) reports.

PJI said it was not clear whether the films are being shown predominantly
during class time or in meetings of LGBT student clubs.

“They are clearly being marketed for showing in class and in school
assemblies,” PJI says in a press release."

The goal here is to de-legitimize heterosexualism, which is to say, normal and moral sexual behaviour and attitudes. Later in the article it notes that at least one elementary school is already on the list. Anyone who defends teaching this kind of thing to school children has moved far beyond asking for tolerance and has taken up the hammer of indoctrination.

Tolerance we can give; we can agree to disagree and you can teach your children how you see fit and we will teach our's. But if you want conversion to your point of view, that is impossible for Christians and many other religious people. And if the push for conversion to the pansexualist agenda continues, it will provoke an opposite reaction. And that is not going to be good for society as a whole. Will it be live and let live? Or is an ugly fight for religious freedom the only option other than capitulation?

All I can say is that if liberals are going to be this aggressive, they had better stop complaining about the Glen Becks of the world because all they are doing is providing him with plausibility. Be careful what spirits you conjure up. Please, for all our sakes.

ACORN and Kinneging

It is easy to make jokes about ACORN, but is it not a perfect example of what Andreas Kinneging is talking about in his book Good and Evil: Philosophical Investigations, chapter 9 "Spiritual Capital"? In my post, "The Inadequacy of the Communitarian Critique of Liberalism" I summarized Kinneging's argument that, while social solidarity is a necessary condition for a good society it is not a sufficient one.

Social solidarity - care for the weak and the poor - cannot stand alone as the one great virtue needed in society. Rather, it needs to be supported by and be embedded in a network of virtues as described by the Tradition. It is not enough to be concerned about helping the poor; it is just as important to be faithful to your wife, honest in your business dealings, prudent in your voting and in control of your appetites in general.

In ACORN we see an organization devoted to social justice but divorced from the other virtues. The result is evil festering under a thin veneer of righteousness. People - rich, poor and middle-class - all need to cultivate the virtues in general instead of forgetting about them all except one. Let's say it clearly: being in favor of social justice does not substute for having basic morality in all other areas. That is the temptation liberals face and it is very subtle, deceptive and dangerous.

The Acorn Scandal: How High Will It Go?

Have you been following the ACORN scandal unfolding in the US? If you want a quick primer here is a report on ABC. Note the absurdity of the head of the organization (near the end) as she plays the race card. Basically her argument is, "Well sure we are guilty of fraud and promoting under-age prostitution, but if we weren't black and poor nobody would have a problem with that." On her planet, apparently, "everybody" thinks underage prostitution and fraud are just hunky dory, a-ok with them. I wonder what planet that is; maybe it's planet Democrat.

Jay Leno is finding it good fodder for jokes; nice to see someone other than conservatives being mocked on TV for a change.

When Sarah Palin used the term "community organizer" in her speech at the Republican National Convention last year, you could just hear the sarcasm and disdain dripping from her words. Sojourners lept to the defence of Obama claiming that communit organizing was a noble profession. Why Jesus was a community organizer! (Everybody knows Jesus was a social justice liberal just like Jim, right?)

So here is my question: if Jesus were around today, would he work for ACORN? No doubt, he would hang out with sinners, but would he help them evade taxes?

Five More Politically Incorrect Opinions

1. Handing out huge amounts of condoms only speeds up the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa and is an attempt to impose the (recent and decadent) Western ideology of sexual liberation on a non-Western continent. It is a form of cultural imperialism of which the West should repent immediately.

2. Sex education is the responsibility of parents and should be removed entirely from all public schools until such time as new curricula can be developed by organizations acceptable to parents following guidelines approved by parents. Parents should have far more to say about schools in general and the power of teacher's unions and central government bureaucracies should be rolled back drastically. There is no need for uniformity accross the nation (or the whole of the Western world); local sensibilities should be respected.

3. Same-sex "marriage" should be repealed where it exists and not adopted where it does not.

4. There is no such thing as a fixed-at-birth, unchangeable, genetic-based, homosexual orientation. Homosexuality is a complex phenomenon with many influencing factors and no one cause. Behaviour is always changeable, depending on the desire of the person, although for some people changing their orientation to heterosexual at their stage of life may not be possible. For others it will be possible if they desire it and find sympathetic help.

5. Multiculturalism policies in Western countries should be abandoned as failures. They undertake to do the impossible in pursuit of the indefensible. Memo to liberals and atheists: immigrants come here because of the culture Christianity has created not because of you. We Christians and recent immigrants already get along just fine; it is white, middle-class liberals who annoy us.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ten Things I Believe That Will Shock You!

Here are a list of core convictions of mine, which are politically incorrect, and which may shock you. But who cares; I've got tenure! So . . . you were warned. Get your blood pressure medication ready, make sure you are sitting down and read on!

1. The world needs more people and not enough babies are being born; unless the birth rate goes up soon our grandchildren will face economic disaster.

2. Western culture is not all bad; there is much to celebrate and conserve in the Western heritage.

3. But, on the other hand, the West is regressing, not progressing, morally; the 20th century was the worst since the 14th.

4. Middle class morality, so-called, is more Christian and humane than any of the alternatives.

5. The existence of God can be proven to any person who is rational and not predisposed by sinful rebellion to deny the facts right in front of his face.

6. Second Wave Feminism (since the 60s) has proven to be a disaster for women (and children). On balance, the 50s were better for women than the current mess, even though the 50s were by no means perfect.

7. Canada, Australia, the United States, Russia and Western European countries should not be afraid to declare themselves to be Christian countries - not in the sense of having compulsory state churches - but in the sense of recognizing the Christian heritage that has shaped them in many positive ways. The world is getting less secular, not more secular.

8. Socialism has failed utterly and miserably and should no longer be considered a live option for the future. It has failed both practically (it does not work) and morally (it creates injustice).

9. The Great Commission to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every creature is just as binding on the Church today as it was on the apostles in the first century and this should be the church's highest priority. Not all religions lead to the one, true God; it is possible to be dead wrong in the matter of religion.

10. The Enlightenment and the rise of modern, technological science, not Christianity, is responsible for pollution and environmental degradation. The Enlightenment is not a legitimate outgrowth of Christianity but a Christian heresy.

I have blogged about many of these issues and I will blog on others in the days ahead. I don't expect everyone to disagree with me; in fact, I know many of these positions are unpopular. Still, popularity is not a crucial epistemological criterion. Truth is not infrequently unpopular. But I'm always up for a debate on any of these topics.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rev. Stephen Boissoin Has His Day in Court

The National Post today reports that the Rev. Stephen Boissoin's appeal is underway in the Court of Queen's Bench in Calgary. Fundraising efforts have allowed him to hire a lawyer and mount an appeal to the Alberta Human Rights Commission's attempt to punish and silence him for his politically incorrect views on homosexuality in a letter published in The Red Deer Advocate in 2002.

Ezra Levant, a Jewish, conservative advocate of free speech, who himself endured 900 days of investigation by the same Alberta Human Rights Commission for daring to publish the Danish Mohammed cartoons, has written a book Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights (McClelland and Stewart, 2009) has led a crusade to restore basic democratic rights in Canada. He has championed Boissoin's cause and has accused the Human Rights Commission of an anti-Christian bias. He notes that the Human Rights Commission has a track record of singling out Christian pastors with few financial resources and a low public profile for persecution. This time, however, it might be different as a growing consensus is developing across the country that the Orwellian, mis-named Human Rights Commissions are out of control.

In a related, recent and most heartening development, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal chairman Athanasios Hadjis has declared the use of Section 13 Hate Speech clause to be in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The National Post reports:

"Finally, a human rights commission decision that makes sense. Yesterday, a
senior member of Canada's human rights apparatus declared that the power the
Canadian Human Rights Commission has taken on itself to monitor hate speech on
the Internet is unconstitutional.

Ruling in a case against Marc Lemire, webmaster of the extremist freedomsite.org,Canadian Human Rights Tribunal chairman Athanasios Hadjis concluded Sec. 13(1) violates defendants' Charter right to freedom of expression because it gives the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) authority to impose penalties such as fines on those it finds guilty.

Mr. Hadjis, himself a human rights lawyer, argued that while the Supreme
Court had found the section legal in 1991-- when its strongest provisions merely
compelled the complainant and defendant to mediate their differences -- since
then the addition of monetary penalties and forced apologies has amended the act
to the point where it is no longer in harmony with the Charter.

The opinion does not "strike down" the hate-speech provisions of federal
human rights law, as has been widely reported. The offensive section of the
federal rights legislation is still on the books. But as Mr. Hadjis explained "a
formal declaration of invalidity was not a remedy available" to him. All he
could do under the existing law is "simply refuse to apply these provisions for
the purposes of the complaint against Mr. Lemire." Now it us up to Parliament to
do the right thing: Repeal Sec 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act and stop
witch-hunt prosecutions by human rights investigators."

As a recent National Post editorial says:
"This is the second time in under a year that the CHRC (and by extension,
Parliament) has been told that 13(1) is inconsistent with free democratic
debate. Last year, University of Windsor law professor Richard Moon, acting as a
paid constitutional consultant, told the CHRC there was no way it could
investigate and adjudicate hate-speech complaints consistently. Therefore, they
were unable to assure the equal protection of everyone's Charter rights, so they
should stop trying."
Many members of the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, many newspaper editorial boards accross Canada, PEN, and even the homosexual advocacy group Egale have joined the criticism of the attacks on free speech by the Human Rights Commission. The Provincial Conservative Party in Ontario is on record as wanting to reform the Ontario Human Rights Commission if they win the next election and it will undoubtedly be an issue in the next Federal election. No politician who does not promise to abolish the HRC, or at least repeal Section 13, will ever get my vote.

A group of over-paid, under-qualified, partisan, political appointees to these quasi-legal bodies is able to persecute anyone they wish based on any complaint they wish to accept (or generate themselves) at any time. This is a travesty and a disaster for a country that wishes to remain free. It is time that conservatives and liberals who believe in free speech stand up and demand change.

NOTE: Ezra Levant is speaking in Toronto on Sat. Sept. 26. See here for details.

The Inadequacy of the Communitarian Critique of Liberalism

I'm still finding Andreas Kinneging's book, The Geography of Good and Evil, to be a fascinating and wise book. I'm reading it slowley in between other duties; this is the first week of classes and I only have a few minutes here and there to read it. But I'm finding it expresses many of the thoughts I've been thinking much more clearly than I can do.

I've been very worried about the trend of left-wing Evangelicals like Campolo, McLaren and Wallis to lead young people, including many of my own students, away from a traditional expression of Evangelicalism toward an emphasis on social justice that is more liberal than orthodox. But Kinneging puts my vague unease into precisely logical languge. His chapter "Spiritual Capital" explains why the communitarian critique of liberalism, that we need more social solidarity - concern for the poor - is not as radical as it sounds and actually a capitulation to modernity. Let me retrace his argument.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the triumph of liberalism was proclaimed, by Fukuyama for example, but many people soon came to agree that: "it was necessary to critique liberalism as an ideology of individualism, and of the notions of markey, exchange, self-interest, and so on that naturally went along with it." The 90's saw the rise of communitarian thinkers such as Robert Bellah, Michael Walzer, Charles Taylor and Alister MacIntrye. Kinneging wites:
"In contrast to liberalism's emphasis on the individual as the antithesis
of the community, these authors emphasized the importance of the community to
the will-being and development of the individual." (117)

Kinneging notes that this communitarian message is part of a long tradition in Western thought that goes back to antiquity, but it distills only a single element from that tradition, namely, that man is a social animal who requires society for the full development of his potential. This, as we shall see, it true as far as it goes, but it does not go far enought in recovering ancient wisdom.

The triumph of liberalism leads to the erosion of what Kinneging terms "solidarity," which is his term for brotherhood, charity, community spirit, concern for the poor, etc. The communitarians can sound like Marxists sometimes in their critique of liberalism, but they do not prescribe the full Marxist solution (eg. public ownership of the means of production). They do, however, prescribe social solidarity.

Kinneging points out that the communitarian focus is on:
"reforming the state with the aim of transforming it from a professional
bureaucratic organization into an association bearing the principles of
participatory democracy. It is hoped that this will create a state of, for, and
by the people instead of the post office we now have, where we only
visit when we need something. It goes without saying that this view holds
particular appeal for socialist." (119-120)

Kinneging distinguishes between the republican communitarians, who want to reform the state, and the more strict communitarians who want to reinvigorate civil society, i.e. that third sector which is neither under the control of the state or the market. Obviously, this kind of communitarianism is the kind I would endorse; I find the republican kind to be little more than "socialism lite," just another form of statism.

But Kinneging is not convinced that either form of communitarianism actually can produce what it says is most badly needed: social solidarity. He says that solidarity is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a good society. (121) He says that
"Solidarity, care for the weak and the poor, is often elevated to
the alpha and omega of public morality. . . . without solidarity , we are in
trouble; if there is solidarity, all is well. The former assertion is
correct. But that latter - if there is solidarity, all is well - is wide
of the mark. It reveals a cramped view of the moral condiciones sine
non of a good society. Seen in this light, the popularity of
the communitarian criticism of liberalism acquires a disturbing significance; it
is a telling sign of the impoverishment of moral thinking that is so
characteristic of our time." (121-2)

Kinneging argues, in the rest of this chapter, that social solidarity and a good society characterized by social solidarity depends on large numbers of people having thoroughly internalized certain values - i.e. what used to be called virtues. Although republican communitarianism omits mention of, or concern for, individual virtues, Kinneging contends that a good society is impossible without individual virtues. Kinneging says this is true on two counts:
"First, social virtues presuppose individual virtues. Second, as
individual virtues increase, the need for social virtues decreases. . . . The
less individual virtues are practiced, the more we need social virtues.
But with a decline in individual virtues, social virtues are also bound to
disappear, since the first are the social capital that make the second
possible." (123)

For Kinneging, the real crisis of our day is moral and morality cannot be reduced or constricted to merely social solidarity alone.

When I heard Jim Wallis speak a couple of years ago, he spoke scornfully (and crudely) of the tendency of Christians to be preoccupied with "below the belt issues." He wanted his Evangelical audience to give up what he perceived as its undue preoccupation with sexual morality and focus on what he considered to be of far more importance, namely, social solidarity. Tony Campolo makes a similar point when he tallies up the number of verses in the Bible that speak of poverty versus the number that speak about sex. What is going on here is exactly what Kinneging describes: a thoroughly modern approach which has lost sight of the importance of the individual virtues and is trying to revive one aspect of the moral tradition of antiquity without grappling with the whole tradition. Kinneging describes the genesis of this trend:
"What are the historical roots of this crisis in our moral
consciousness? When did this forgetfulness set in? It has spread
primarily since the end of the 1960's, and today it has become the socially and
politically predominant approach to morality in the Western world. It is
often called liberalism. This outlook did not originate in the 1960s but
rather has its origins in the Enlightenment and Romanticism, which themselves
have roots going back a few centuries. Until the late 1960s, however, these
philosophies of life remained the view of a small elite. Since the end of
the '60s the thinking of the Enlightenment and Romanticism has been accepted by
the masses as their 'cultural patrimony.''

As Kinneging goes on to show, to believe that man is capable of social solidarity without being a personally virtuous person is to accept the Romantic notion that sin inheres not in man himself, but in society. He recommends the reading of Homer and Nietzsche as a cure for such a delusion! But he is convinced that only a widespread return to the virtues can possibly allow a fragmented society like ours, in the grip of individualism and the will to power, to find an adequate basis for social solidarity. In this he is surely right.