Category Archives: I Pandora

He's Alive

He’s Alive!

The night lay dark and dreary, their hearts with sorrow met it, echoing its emptiness and hopelessness. Creation groaned that night, waiting in helpless tears, cradling its Creator and Savior in its stony grasp.

But, just as His mercies are new every morning, so that morning the stones leaped to see they were empty. The shelf, the hole, the hollow were bare once more, bare but for the now pointless clothes resting, shapeless.

Creation felt the birth of redemption, and the women saw first that emptiness and felt their own flow away and into it, hoping against hope. Hope sprang eternal that morning and faith met sight as their eyes told them, over and over again what their minds refused to believe:

He’s Alive!

The Invisible Hand

Listening To Fools Is A Sure Path To Foolishness

 

Benjamin Riggs, Fighter of Fancy
Benjamin Riggs, Fighter of Fancy

“Life-Coach” Benjamin Riggs, whose self-made spiritual path has taken him from embittered atheism into a mixture of Buddhism and “Christianity”, makes light work of the straw men he constructs in his mind around economics and Christian orthodoxy.

It’s a good thing he’s only batting against hay, because the windmills he envisions appear far beyond his jousting abilities.

In Stop That Camel! The Gospels & Capitalism, Mr Riggs rails against the collusion of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand and the Gospel, a book he thinks most people believe “fell from the heavens” “some 2,000 years ago…, in it’s complete form—edited with annotations”, in the modern United States.Mr Riggs is so preoccupied fencing with his own fancy that he fails to grasp reality.

Scribe
Scribe

In the article, no evidence is given supporting the claim that “it is a commonly held belief that, some 2,000 years ago, a book, in it’s (sp) complete form – edited with annotations – fell from the heavens”. Some humorous hyperbole is obvious here, but then Mr Riggs goes directly into a brief explanation of the construction of the Bible, indicating he gives more weight than simple humor and hyperbole to the first statements.

The same Paul who states “Do nothing out of selfish ambition” also says “if any many will not work, neither let him eat” (a statement conveniently forgotten or overlooked by those preoccupied for “justice”) and “the worker is worthy of his wages” (also spoken by Our Lord).

Adam Smith
Adam Smith

Adam Smith is not some monster, either, despite what Mr Riggs appears to desire to be true. Adam Smith argued that capitalism and charity go hand in hand, and history bears this connection out. Capitalism has raised more people out of economic slavery and literal slavery than any other social, economic, or political system. Ever. Smith’s The Wealth of Nations goes hand in hand with his A Theory Of Moral Sentiments. One is not complete without the other.

The problem isn’t in working hard and scrimping and saving and living within ones means and investing wisely and making you and your work profitable, the problem only ever arises when the pursuit of wealth, and wealth itself, become the end goal of your life. This was the error of the rich young ruler. Not that he was rich, which is a shallow and skin-deep interpretation of that passage, but that he valued that wealth above his own life, in a way, and above Christ’s better plan. Christ didn’t tell the young man not to stop his work, if that was how he became wealthy, or not to cease being a ruler, if that was where he’d got it all, but to give away that which was standing between him and God.

If you interpret that passage mechanistically, you limit its application only to the wealthy and to those who struggle with putting money before God. If you don’t, you recognize we each tend to put things before God, and we must be willing to do away completely with those things which are god to us in order to worship and serve the God who desires that we desire Him.

The “Invisible Hand” reference is just hogwash, too. Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” was a reference to market forces which, even to this day, remain unsearchable. It refers to the market being so insanely complex that there is no method or system to inspect it in a meaningful way. This is also one way of saying that a truly capitalistic society would be extremely difficult to manipulate for the benefit of one exclusive to others. The “Invisible Hand” steers resources around the system in such a way as to prevent its corralling and control for an individual or small group’s specific benefit.

Mr Riggs’ root problem is that he does not have Christ in his life. He may claim to, but his self-made religion is a construct of the parts of Buddhism and Christianity that he prefers, not an orthodoxy of either. He is mislead and confused and to look to him for wisdom and advice is a sure way to find neither.

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."

Scientific Orthodoxy: The Modern Inquisition

Note: This article is not necessarily about what is actual truth is in any given comparisons. Instead, it is comparing the methods and attitudes of those holding power and in control both inside and outside the scientific community.

Try drawing a comparison between social and cultural entities today and those that existed in the past, and you may find some are more uncomfortable than others. Not “uncomfortable” that they don’t fit, but “uncomfortable” because we are used to looking at the world certain ways, and the way we look at the world and the way it really is are not necessarily the same thing, and sometimes that difference, though still apparent, is not a good thing.

Take, for instance, modern scientific orthodoxy.

Orthodoxy (n): Authorized or generally accepted theory, doctrine, or practice.

What everyone believes and what is really true aren’t necessarily the same time. They might be, but one is no guarantor of the other.

Egg colors

It wasn’t too many years ago that eggs were bad. Eggs had cholesterol and cholesterol, we were told, was bad. There were signs on billboards “Give eggs a break!” and we were encouraged to eat no more than 2 eggs per week. This represented the scientific orthodoxy. Then we discovered that dietary cholesterol had less affect on levels in the body than we had previously though. Now eggs were good. “Give eggs a break” disappeared.

But what do we really know about eggs, about dietary and internal levels of cholesterol? Are we really at the end of this path? Have we really discovered everything there is to know about these little shell-wrapped packages of undeveloped avians, reptiles, and invertebrates?

Cholesterol (n): a compound of the sterol type found in most body tissues, including the blood and the nerves. Cholesterol and its derivatives are important constituents of cell membranes and precursors of other steroid compounds, but high concentrations in the blood (mainly derived from animal fats in the diet) are thought to promote atherosclerosis.

The point isn’t whether we were right then or right now, the point is that there was a point at which people in positions of control and power knew one thing, and these attempted to foist their will and knowledge on us. Then they were shown wrong and some others (or possibly the same people) told us it was OK to eat as many eggs as we liked pretty much, just so long as we didn’t use bacon grease, butter, or any other saturated fat to cook them.

“Use Margarine”, they said. Yea, it’s a trans-fat (meaning it was an unsaturated fat converted to a saturated fat by the process of hydrogenation), but it used to be unsaturated and that’s what counts. Saturated fats, like butter, bacon grease, and other things were never “good” and so can’t be healthy ever, while something that used to be “good” before it was made a little worse to gain stability and flavor should still retain some goodness.

Hydrogenation: to combine or treat with hydrogen, especially to add hydrogen to the molecule of an unsaturated organic compound.

Once again, people who knew, who had power, or the ears (or pockets, it really doesn’t matter which) of people in power, told us what was what. The orthodoxy was now that we ought to use shortening instead of lard, margarine instead of butter. There were signs, stories, articles, campaigns and programs, all geared around convincing mamacitas in their cucinas toss the lard and use the Crisco (which name has always reminded me of San Francisco, for some odd and unexplained reason).

Bacon and Butter
Sacramento restaurant Bacon and Butter

Then we learned that saturated fats are healthier than trans because the naturally occurring saturated fats don’t lower what we think are the healthier lipoproteins in the body the way trans-fats do. Now there’s a new scientific orthodoxy, but this is a good one, because it’s now OK to use butter and lard and bacon grease and all those good things. So it’s OK.

Scientific orthodoxy isn’t limited to dietary concerns. Another big issue for most of the last 20 years has been “global warming”. Al Gore, former vice president of the United States, inventor of the Internet, and love novel inspiration, has spewed countless greenhouse gases jetting countless miles from one party to another sharing the inconvenient truth that polar bears can’t swim as far as they used to, but that they’re still really cute and their pictures are good for charities’ and political movements’ bottom lines.

Global Warming (n): a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants.

Bigwigs have documents signed by lots of smart people saying cow farts are bad, car farts are worse, and beach front property will be opening shortly in Arizona because of all those farts, and, most importantly, the only way to stop all those nice Arizonans’ property values from going up so much is for us all to give lots more money and power to government so they can give money and power to people who do cool things with electricity and batteries and who kill birds with giant pinwheels. Other smart people say this ain’t so, but these don’t appear to have as many greased-pocket-connected ears as the others, and so they are called “deniers” and laughed at.

This brings up the darker side of the scientific orthodoxy and the part that compares most discomfortingly with some of the darker histories of power throughout human history. Any group in power necessarily seeks its own continuation. Within the democratic republic of the United States, this generally takes a more subtle approach than it has elsewhere around the world and throughout history. Because a President is forbidden from staying in direct power beyond a certain amount of time, each President works to secure their “legacy” while they can, which will guarantee their future invitations to important parties and engagements. This will also explains why previous Presidents are rarely, if ever, investigated and prosecuted for their involvement in any scandals rising to criminal status, as subsequent Presidents want also to be free of such investigation when the climate has changed and they’re no longer being feted at every turn. (I learned that bit from the Hunger Games). But it is the same goal: retention of whatever power can be retained.

Inquisition: an ecclesiastical tribunal established by Pope Gregory IX c. 1232 for the suppression of heresy. It was active chiefly in northern Italy and southern France, becoming notorious for the use of torture. In 1542 the papal Inquisition was re-established to combat Protestantism, eventually becoming an organ of papal government.

At times throughout history, different parties representing different aspects of knowledge, society, and culture, have held differing levels of power. At one time it was “the Church” that held most power in the world. While they did, there were good things accomplished and bad things done, all in the name of The Church, and things done in the name of God which brought shame to His Name instead of the glory those human actors thought they were bringing.

We moderns like to look back and shudder at the horrors and laugh at the idiots of those benighted times. We think we know everything today and don’t pause to consider just how benighted we still might be and how harshly future generations will judge us for our own foibles and what they’ll doubtless see as gropings just as blind as those we laugh at in our own distant past.

We don’t take the time to consider what we don’t know. We trust blindly, just as the populace of dark years past did, in the platitudes and excuses of those in power. We sit idly by as the powerful persecute and prosecute those attempting to speak truth to power.

You and I consider ourselves mini-Galileos, watching Cosmos and reading Cosmo, when we have much more in common with the ignorant illiterates filling the pews of the Church Corrupt of the 14th century, hitting “like” on real people’s real needs and moving passively on.

Meanwhile the Church Corrupt of our age, those who control what are the authorized and generally accepted truths, exercise great and increasing levels of power and control. Say what you will about the success or failure of a nationally standardized education system: it makes teaching orthodoxy easy. Controlling what people are taught is important to raising up people who will continue to support The Powers That Be, accepting their words and actions without criticism or investigation.

Standardize (v): cause something to conform to a standard.

ManipulatedThe Church Corrupt of our age does not use their power and control to further knowledge, possibly in tacit acknowledgment that theirs is not the actual truth, probably in fear that it is not, but instead uses it to extend its control and further its power both by mind control as mentioned previously, and also by persecution of those who question it. Certainly, people are not put to death by the scientific orthodoxy as we have been led to believe they were by the Inquisition, but the pain of death lasts but for a minute, while unjust discrediting, blackballing and blackmailing, last for a lifetime, and when other powerful entities such as government and media join in the persecution, the result can be life worse than death for those who pursue the true goals of science and the real paths of honest investigation.

One clear difference we have today is that information simply cannot be held down as it could be 400 years ago. Monolithic authorities and entities of power are at much greater danger than they were then, yet at the same time the same systems that convey information so freely and democratically today enslave those they reach with mind-numbing gluts and stultifying entertainments. Instead of searching for true bits of knowledge in the information stream, we’re dead men watching.

We’re dead men watching.

Toledo-Police-Memorial-Al-Cavanaugh

The Officer’s Duty

Law enforcement has a hard job, made doubly so because those they are sworn to protect the law-abiding against are not constrained by the laws officers must uphold.

Officers of the law must track and apprehend the lawless while themselves remaining within the bounds of the law at all times. While police officers breaking the law while chasing the bad guys makes for good TV, movies and dramas alike, it negates the law they are sworn to uphold.

Police Officers

In this country, and all the freer countries around the world, it is the fact that the law is an absolute authority, that there is no one, no matter how high or powerful, who is not constrained by its dictates, that makes those countries free. When all people are equal before the law, there can be equality.

But when officers, who are sworn to uphold the law, break the law, even for purposes we may rationalize and agree with, they must be doubly punished, for they are leaders and are held both to slavish obedience to the law, and to enforcement for the protection of all those who abide by it.

In other words: mind the Constitution, policemen and women. We citizens have our rights. It may be frustrating when we fail to obey you, but you are not the law, and we are not compelled to obey any command given by you if the power to make that command is not explicitly granted in the laws drawn up by our representatives. You serve and exist at our behest, for our protection, and the protection of our rights and property. Power trips and petty scrabblings which end up with our going to jail without legal justification can and should end up with you paying a strict penalty.

sd-police-officer-t-shirtspng-e2eb18844515cf0f

I support law enforcement. They have a hard and dangerous job as guarantors and protectors of my freedom. They are often unappreciated by those they serve. I will do my best to make sure the officers of the law have the resources they need to carry out their necessary work effectively and as safely as possible. But when they overstep their bounds and become not a protector of the law, but a law to themselves, with their own pride and power as their ultimate goal, then shall earn nothing except a quick trip to jail or whatever other punishment is commensurate to their crime.

With Friends Like These

With Friends Like You

A few days ago I received an issue tracking survey email from Chuck DeFeo at the Republican National Committee that began with the sentence:

At the RNC, we’re always working on ways to grow and strengthen our party.

Well Chuck, I looked at your survey and found it pointless and repetitive, so let me share with you a few ideas.

First, it’s about the Country, not the Party. Want people to like the Republican party? Make the Republican party about the United States. Friend of my friend, and all that.

Next, we’ve seen what “principled conservatives” like John Boehner and his ilk have done, and frankly I’m over that term, especially when it’s coming from the elephants mouth.

I do not think it means what you think it meansYou had a grassroots movement thrust into your lap. A vibrant and effective movement that was looking for partners, not controllers, and the GOP went and mucked that up to the point there’s an effective third part that is only nominally Republican, and getting more and more fed up with even that tenuous connection.

The reason? The GOP is not about about Constitutionally limited government. It’s not about conservatism. It’s not about freedom or liberty. Oh, it pays great lip service to them, but they aren’t really guiding principles. It seems they’re being used more to placate and control a voting bloc which are then manipulated to your own preferred ends.

Think this means I’m jumping ship to the (D) side? Not a chance. Everything bad about the Republican party is magnified 10 times worse for Democrats. That’s the party of the nakedly powerful manipulating and controlling and enslaving the weakest to increase their own power. Republicans are the party of those desirous of power or content in mediocre levels of power trying to control the middle class to keep them in power. Also, the Republican party at least pays lip service to freedom and liberty, while the Democrats stopped doing that years ago.

What it does mean is that I’m not enthused, not excited, not interested, and not particularly hopeful of our chances. With bumbling idiots like you and your pals in the driver’s seat, who needs Democrats.

You don’t get technology. You don’t understand branding and the marketing of ideas. You can’t conceive of any idea that began outside the paneled rooms of the upper echelons of party power. Democrats won the last TWO Presidential elections because they were able to manipulate those at the bottom into supporting yet another upper cruster by thinking it was their own ideas embodied in Mr Obama. I like Romney and think he would have made a fine executive, but once again, since he had friends like y’all, he had no need of enemies.

The only purpose to engaging minority communities is to welcome them into the melting pot. We love their food, most aspects of their cultures, their character, their skills, their passion for liberty that far exceeds our own. We don’t need them to remain outside, separate, different.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
~Emma Lazarus

The United States was and is a nation of immigrants. Sure there are some who want the border locked down tight, and they have good arguments, but they’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, there are some who want to benefit from the very cheap labor these new and frightened people are willing to give up for the appearance of success. The first rule of immigration has to be: It has to be easy and safe and fast. This means removing bureaucratic bloat and testing and retesting each aspect of the process for efficiency and efficacy. There should be no reason for people to come here illegally because we should welcome any and all legally and openly. The penalties for illegal immigration should be just and fast. These people are not our citizens and are not owed any Constitutional privileges. Make the process just, make it fair, and make it safe, but make it about the rule of law. When the door is wide open, punishing those who still refuse to use it regains it’s moral legitimacy.

Armed Liberty

The GOP can be the party of a strong defense (offense has become offensive, good or bad) by being vocally and effectively protective of any and all US citizens endangered overseas.

The Constitution doesn’t need to be protected, it needs to be applied. Applied with judicial and legislative force. Applied brutally. The government has become brutal in its overreach and it hurts everyone it touches. It must be beaten back with equal force and vigor.

You can’t reform entitlement spending because the very idea that people are entitled to something is bunk, false, and results in theft. You can only end it. Cut it, by significant margins. By real margins instead of the fake margins we’ve been lead along with for the last two decades.

You’ve let yourself get bogged down in squabbling and in-fighting while we out in the trenches, in the real world, who have to live according to the dictates of your political operatives and political failures, face the brunt of each and every assault on our freedoms, our pocket books, our lives and families and property. And it’s not like the Democrats haven’t given you golden opportunity after golden opportunity. They’re the party of the gaffe, the flub, the out-of-touch snobbish elite who thinks his jet-set lifestyle is normal and acceptable.

Victor Davis Hanson has some good advice that I’ll leave you with:

To survive, Republicans must go on the offensive and point out that their accusers never live the lives they advocate for others. Liberal feminists seem to be John Edwards and Bill Clinton. Liberal men of the people are Al Gore, John Kerry, and Jon Corzine. Their populists who deplore outsourcing, offshore accounts, and non-unions are Apple and Facebook grandees who embrace all three. White privilege is not the fate of the West Virginian or West Texan working at Target, but the tiny, inbred old-boy and old-girl world of prep-school to Ivy League to the insider pull of Dad and Mom to land up with a phoned-in job in journalism, politics, finance, entertainment, the arts, and academia on the East and West coasts, followed by pro forma praise of diversity — for others. Open-borders zealots have their children behind the walls of private academies.

Surely there is a populist case to be made — or is the Republican establishment to manage a permanent, sober, and judicious out-party, as it is demagogued to death by the privileged?

Victor Davis Hanson, A Beat-up, Exhausted, and Terrified Republican Establishment