Thursday, December 08, 2016

Modern Liberalism

Shadi Hamid wrote,

The decline of Christianity in the United States has left an ideological vacuum, and for many, perhaps most, modern liberalism is just a bit too boring to fill the gap.
Modern liberalism is also to weak to deal invading cultures. It assumes that all cultures are good. Therefore it has to accommodate every culture that enters regardless of whether it is good or bad.

Consequently, liberalism will eventually be overcome by a stronger dominant culture. That will not be decided by political war, but by what American people believe and serve.


Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Immigration

The Bible teaches God’s people to welcome stranger and sojourners in their land and bless them (Deut 10:17-19). The decisions were made locally within strong communities.

What is happening in America is a bit different. The politicians in Washington have decided that various communities should host refugees from overseas. The politicians do not receive them into their communities. They have very little to do with the refugees, unless they employ them as cheap gardeners and house cleaners.

The migrants do not change the culture in the community where the politicians live, because they cannot afford to live there. They live in separate more affordable communities.

The people living in the communities that the refugees are sent to have very little say in what happens. The migrants live among them, so they influence their culture.

Enforced hospitality to strangers is not what the scriptures have in mind.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Thanksgiving and Immigration

Ruth Ryder at the Torch has an intersting article called Thanksgiving, Christian Hospitality, and “Illegal” Immigrants.

Remember Where You Came From
Scripture is full of instructions on how the people of God are to treat foreigners. The Hebrew Bible contains several reminders that the Israelites were once foreigners in Egypt and would be still, were it not for God’s grace. Now, God tells them, true justice requires extending hospitality toward immigrants.
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19, NRSV)
This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’ (Zechariah 7:9-10, NIV)
There are many more examples from the Hebrew Bible besides the two I have provided. In the New Testament, Christians are similarly reminded that they were once strangers to God, utterly sinful (lawbreakers!) and undeserving of his hospitality. We didn’t first get a green card and take the Heavenly Kingdom citizenship test before God extended his hospitality toward us.

Gentiles especially must remember that they were also once “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. (Ephesians 2:11-22, NRSV)
Although we are now no longer strangers to God, we have become strangers to the world. We are pilgrims in this world in search of our heavenly homeland, which has become ours through God’s generous gift of hospitality (Hebrews 11:13-16). And so we are instructed that we, too, must extend hospitality to strangers (Matthew 25: 34-46; Hebrews 13:2; Romans 12:13).

Just as it is important for us as Christians to remember our past as foreigners to God and his kingdom when considering how we ought to treat foreigners among us, it is also important to remember our ethnic heritage and past in this country. Every caucasian in this country is the descendant of people who chose to leave their homeland in search of a better life. And when you consider the ruthless acquisition of land and all 500+ broken treaties with the Native Americans, America itself is a nation of “illegal immigrants.” Simply because the lawbreaking, unjust agent happens to be the government doesn’t magically make those acts legal and just, even if it absolves itself of any wrongdoing. If you’re a Christian, you should be able to recognize that there is a higher law to which even the United States government ought to submit.

Add to that irony the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which led to the deportation of the Indians living in the southeast to west of the Mississippi River. And so the original inhabitants were “legally” forced to leave their own homes and travel hundreds of miles in what became known as the “Trail of Tears,” killing many thousands along the way. Claiming the moral highground in order to expel people deemed to be inferior is nothing new. Your government might legalize its own actions, and yet they remain fully “illegal” in the eyes of God.

Follow the link above and read the entire article.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Casey on Nationalism (3)

Doug Casey on Nationalism and the State.

I think, however, that the nation-state is approaching its end game.

And almost all states in the world are on the point of failure because almost all of them are bankrupt. They’ve issued far more debt than they can ever repay. They all compel their subjects to use fiat currencies, but all of those currencies are in the process of being destroyed, since governments, through their central banks, are issuing them by the trillions now.

Governments the world over provide less and less in the way of services that people actually want and need—and most of those they’ve usurped, as they always have, from the market. Since they’re mostly bankrupt they’ll be increasingly unable to provide useful services. So I expect we’ll see more internal turmoil around the world in the years to come. And more wars, as governments blame each other for various problems. You’ll find more states going rogue for that reason.

This is all bad news. But the good news is that—possibly—we’re at the cusp of seeing the concept of the state itself debunked. And the state replaced by a more rational form of social organization.

Unfortunately, it’s likely to be a bumpy road getting from here to there. Most people have no idea how bad things can get when a government goes out of control, let alone how to prepare… The coming economic and political collapse is going to be much worse, much longer, and very different than what we’ve seen in the past.



Thursday, December 01, 2016

Casey on Nationalism (2)

Doug Casey on Nationalism and the State.

In the Kingdom phase, from around 3,000 B.C. to roughly the mid-1600s, the world’s cultures were organized under strong men, ranging from petty lords to kings and emperors. With kingdoms, loyalties weren’t so much to the “country”—a nebulous and arbitrary concept—but to the ruler. You were the subject of a king, first and foremost. Your linguistic, ethnic, religious, and other affiliations were secondary. Tribal leaders who were good warriors conquered neighboring tribes and set themselves up as kings.

Then came the nation-state, one of the mankind’s worst inventions.

It seems that most people naturally want, and maybe even need, a leader. It must be some kind of innate atavism, probably dating back to before humans branched out from the chimpanzees about three million years ago. Most people, it seems, like being led, and giving their loyalty to something bigger than themselves. Maybe that helps give their lives meaning… In any event, over the last few hundred years, it’s become fashionable to pledge allegiance not to a ruler or a king, but to something called the “State.”

Today’s prevailing norm is the nation-state, a group of people who tend to share a language, religion, and ethnicity. Like a gigantic tribe. The idea of the nation-state is especially effective when it’s organized as a “democracy,” where the average person is given the illusion he has some measure of control over where the leviathan is headed.

I think, however, that the nation-state is approaching its end game.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Casey on Nationalism (1)

Doug Casey on Nationalism and the State.

Nationalism is, most importantly, a psychological attitude. It amounts to making your nation-state a major element in your life, where you view yourself not so much as a human being or an individual, but as an Italian or an American or a Congolese or Chinese or what have you. Nationalism makes you see yourself, and others, as part of a collective.

Of course, there are different flavors and degrees of nationalism. “Patriotism,” for instance is automatically considered a good thing, wherein you reflexively support what your nation-state does. But it’s really just a euphemism for nationalism. It’s nationalism made righteous, with overtones of hearth and home, as opposed to politics. Then you get “jingoism” when patriots get overenthusiastic.

I think it’s a mistake to automatically give your loyalty to any large group that you belong to just through an accident of birth. For instance, should you have been a Soviet patriot just because you were born in the USSR? Should you have been a German patriot while the Nazis were in power?

Nationalism amounts to saying “my nation-state is the best in the world because I happen to have been born there.” It’s really a very stupid psychological aberration because it places an accident of birth above much more important things like your ethics, desires, and attitudes.

Nationalism, no matter what flavor, can be a very dangerous thing. It brings people down to the lowest common denominator. It encourages groupthink.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cannington School

Last weekend, I  attended the 125th celebrations of Cannington School in South Canterbury.

When I started in 1954, it was a single-teacher primary school. By the time I left at the end of Form 2, the baby boom had turned it into a tw- teacher school. The temporary classroom in the left of the photo was trucked in for the junior classes.

I had the same teacher all the way through my primary schooling. The photo shows the senior school in 1960. The lad on the right in the back row looks blessed, but he does not look like he wanted to become an economist.

My father and grandfather attended the same school. My mother taught there for two terms as a relieving teacher, a couple of years after finishing at Training College, while they found a permanent replacement for a teacher who had been called up for military service.

A widow with a grown-up family offered her board. Her farm was only 2 miles from the school, which was close enough for my mother to bike to school. A couple of years later she married one of the young men in this family, and the rest is history.

The old school room has been replaced, but meeting with people that I had not seen for many years was interesting and enjoyable.

Farming has changed. When I was growing up this district concentrated on sheep farming. With declining prices of wool and frozen lamb, the emphasis has shifted to cattle, some dairy farming, and dairy grazing.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Eschatology of Politics

Scot McKnight of Jesus Creed made the best comment I have seen on the US presidential election on a Kingdom Roots podcast. He made it before the results were known.

There is a massive distortion. Increasingly, American Christians get all riled up, just as the rest of the United States does during the election season and they develop an eschatology of politics. That is the belief that if we vote in the right person, the world will change, or our government will change, or our nation will change in the direction that we think that it needs to go.

For eighteen months, the church has been massively distracted from the mission of God in this world, which is not the betterment of the United States, but the evangelization of the world and the edification of Christians in the local church and the church universal.

The churches have been massively distracted from their mission, because they have becomes, along with the world, obsessed with political process and a belief that if we get the right leader, our nation will be a better place. This is almost belief in a theory of redemption through political process. I find this to be disgusting theologically, and unrooted in the Bible.

More important it focuses us on the wrong thing, in political process as a means of redemption, and it prevents us from seeing that the true means of redemption is the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, and the locus of that redemption is the church…

We are de-confessing that world will only become a better place when it is redeemed through Jesus Christ.

Scot’s concern also applies to those who believe that electing the wrong person can send the nation to wrack and ruin. That is also an eschatology of politics.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Unity in Diversity

People like to be with people like themselves. So a strong society needs agreement on a core set of beliefs to remain united. A great deal of diversity can be tolerated, provided people accept these unifying beliefs. Not everyone has to accept the unifying beliefs, but if they are widely accepted, those who don’t like them will have to go along to function within the society. (Allowing people freedom to disagree with the dominant beliefs, provided they do not disrupt society was once called tolerance).

For many centuries, Christianity provided the unifying beliefs that held society together in the Western world. The principle of loving one another as Jesus loved us allows people of diverse cultures to live in unity. A tax collector and a zealot could work together, because they were committed to following Jesus.

At its best, the church tolerated a variety of cultures, provided people accepted some core beliefs. (At its worst, the church persecuted minority beliefs).

With the advance of secularism, belief in democracy has been the unifying belief that holds nations together. Now faith in democracy is on the wane, under pressure from identity politics.

In modern society, tolerance is becoming the dominant belief. Differences are to be celebrated. This has produced great freedom, but it cannot unify a society, because it builds diversity at the expense of unity. If this trend continues, society will be torn apart by class conflict and identity politics.

If there are no unifying beliefs, the only thing that can hold a society together is dictatorial state power, often justified by fear of external enemies.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Culture

Modern people have a shallow and naïve view of culture. They assume that diversity of culture is always a good thing. After all, a variety of cuisines at a food fair cannot be a bad thing.

Cultural diversity can enrich a society, especially if culture is confined to different foods, clothing, music, art, dance, worship and religious festivals. Unfortunately, culture often goes much deeper and produces different attitudes to political authority, military force, violence, which make diversity a problem.

If religion is limited to cultural activities, then diversity of religion can enrich society. The problem is that religion at its best should go deeper. If religion produces different attitudes to family relationships, government authority, violence, war and property, religious diversity creates problems for a society.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Local

Politics cannot do it, because politics power creates winners and losers, majorities and minorities. Majorities get privileges and minority are shut out.

Racial reconciliation must be local,
because that is where love and forgiveness dwell.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Kings and Priests

We are called to be priests and kings.

He washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father (Rev 1:5-6).
Since the reformation, Christians have been serious about the priesthood of all believers, even though we do not always practice it.

We have not taken the kingship of all believers nearly so seriously. We are kings.

A king does not need another king to rule him. If he surrendered to another king, he would stop being a king.

If Christians are kings, they don’t need a king or some other political system to rule them. We need to work out what that means.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Supreme Court

Trump will be able appoint some conservative judges to the Supreme Court. The impact will not be as great as people think. The Supreme Court has always followed the people. I suspect that it will continue to support social change, as it always has.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Not a Revolution

Trump is not a revolution. The demographic that voted for Trump is aging and declining. Rather, the presidential election was a temporary setback for the slow-burning social revolution that has been underway for the last 20 years. It still controls most of the influencing institutions in the US. It will surge forward again, unless there something significant happens.

Likewise, the evangelical church will continue to decline in numbers and influence, unless something dramatic happens.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Political Power

People who believe in transformation of society by political power lurch between disappointment and hope.

If their politician loses, they are disappointed. From then on, they see every problem as the consequence of the wrong political leaders being in power. They did not trust these leaders, before they were elected, so they are not surprised when thing wrong. Everything that happens confirms their disappointment.

If their politician wins, they are filled with hope. They expect the situation to improve. When economic and social problems arise, they are caused by the mistakes of previous set of politicians, or their refusal to give up power. When their politician disappoints, they are not disappointed.

Political power is a false saviour, because it provides human salvation. At best, political power will fail. At worst it becomes a vehicle for nationalism that becomes an idol. Sometimes it is the idol of nationalism that creates the need for political salvation.

The only true hope is the good news of the Kingdom of God announced and established by Jesus.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Another Big Quake

Just after midnight, a 7.5 earthquake struck the top of the South Island of New Zealand. We felt the shake in Christchurch, but it was not as bad as the 2010 quake that wrecked the city. The shaking went on for more than two minutes, and seemed like it would never stop. But there was not serious damage in Christchurch.

The quake was centred further north in an area that is less intensely populated and has no high-rise buildings. I imagine that is why there have only been two fatalities. The worst affected towns were Hamner Springs and Kaikoura. Both are tourist towns. Hamner is famous for hot pools, mountains and skiing.

Kaikoura is popular for whale watching. The picturesque highway that travels down the coast through Kaikoura has been closed by dozens of slips. Many tourists spending the night there in their campervans are stranded, while they wait for the road to be opened again. The area is still being rocked by serious aftershocks.

There is serious damage in the small rural villages like Waiau and Culverden. I am sure there is serious damage on many of the farms too.

Some buildings in the capital city Wellington have been damaged, but this seems to be more superficial.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Great Again?

Donald Trump wants to make America great again. This is problematic, because America has never really been great. It has alwasy had a dark underbelly that belies greatness.

Anyway, only the church and the kingdom can be truely great. And the kingdom of God is not a nation state.

Of course, America is not a nation state. It has always been a multi-national state. Unfortunately, a multi-national state has a tendency to fly apart. This is partly what the presidential election was about.

A multi-national state needs a common enemy to keep it united: Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Iran, ISIS. Some are trying to recycle Russia for this unifying role, but it is too weak to be a serious enemy.

When its enemies are defeated, the only thing that can hold a multi-national state together is a political dictator. That is why most multi-national states eventually become an empire.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Spiritual Power

The United States presidential election has not changed the spiritual powers that control the nation. It has just changed the personnel they will control. That is why very little will change, regardless of the election.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Establishment Foreign Policy

Robert Parry writes.

American voters felt they needed a blunt instrument to smash the Establishment that has ruled and mis-ruled America for at least the past several decades. It is an Establishment that not only has grabbed for itself almost all the new wealth that the country has produced but has casually sent the U.S. military into wars of choice, as if the lives of working-class soldiers are of little value.

On foreign policy, the Establishment had turned decision-making over to the neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks, a collection of haughty elitists who often subordinated American interests to those of Israel and Saudi Arabia, for political or financial advantage.

The war choices of the neocon/liberal-hawk coalition have been disastrous – from Iraq to Afghanistan to Libya to Syria to Ukraine – yet this collection of know-it-alls never experiences accountability. The same people, including the media’s armchair warriors and the think-tank “scholars,” bounce from one catastrophe to the next with no consequences for their fallacious “group thinks.”

Educated Elite

Daniel McCarthy has a interesting comment.

America’s educated elite—in the academy, the media, government, and the para-governmental world of think tanks and pressure groups—has been systematically and collectively wrong about some of the biggest questions in foreign policy, economics, psychology, sociology, and culture. The best and brightest have assumed for twenty years that what every man and woman on earth most deeply desires is to become a liberal democrat. Steel workers in Pittsburgh and goat-herders in Afghanistan really in their heart of hearts yearn to be more like Washington Post op-ed columnists.