It Ain’t All Politics… Oh Heck, Yes It Is

Hillbuzz is back in action after a bit of a hiatus, and they’ve been looking into dirty dealings of the Chicago suburb the Village of Orland Park after hearing about the Village’s local library’s attempts to hide child porn use on their public computers.

Orland Park is an interesting case study for government watchdogs because of how aggressively the Village and public employees lash out and push back against efforts at transparency. In many ways, dealing with Orland Park is like going up against the mob. They fight by “Chicago Rules” to defend their racket in this Village You’ve Never Heard Of.

Public employees should be held to a high standard, and Hillbuzz is doing good work shining the light on the fetid cesspools collecting below Lake Michigan.

Next up, studies in Italy reporting on the outcome of feeding genetically modified organism crops to animals turned out to be probably falsified.

“The case is very important also because these papers have been used politically in the debate on GM crops,” says Italian senator Elena Cattaneo, a neuroscientist at the University of Milan whose concerns about the work triggered the investigation.

Following the Senate hearing, Cattaneo took a closer look at three papers 1–3, which all emerged from a research lab at the University of Naples, headed by veterinary scientist Federico Infascelli. They describe experiments on goat kids born to mothers fed on GM soya-bean meal and conclude that fragments of the foreign gene in the soya bean can be transported across the gut and secreted in the milk, influencing the biology of the suckling kids.

The down low is that these are some of the only tests indicating any negative outcomes related to GMO vegetables, and of course, because they confirm what a lot of people believe, they are popular to report.

I’m inclined to believe GMO is less of an issue than some say, and not entirely without concern as others claim. Middle of the road, me. But no one is served by messing with numbers.

Finally, and I’ll preface this bit by noting it is not illegal or even immoral to order ones finances in a way that, within the law, minimizes ones tax liability.

But, if you go about arguing that doing so is unethical and immoral, then turn about is fair play, with the added charge of blatant hypocrisy, and you’ll get what you’ve got coming, just because we’re nice like that.

With Bernie Sanders surging, (Hillary Clinton) took new aim at the rich — including their use of tax dodges.

She told MSNBC: “We can go after some of these schemes … the kind of misclassifying of income, trying to make it look like it’s a capital gain, when it’s really ordinary income, going ahead and routing income through the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands or wherever.”

Huh. Bloomberg News reported in 2014 on the Clintons’ use of a prime tax dodge: They put their Chappaqua home into a “residence trust” in 2010. Such trusts can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes.

Meanwhile, the Clintons’ family wealth has grown big-time thanks to firms with significant holdings in places like . . . the Caymans.

As The Daily Caller notes, Bill Clinton spent years as a partner in his (now-ex-) buddy Ron Burkle’s investment fund Yucaipa Global — registered in the Cayman Islands. In five years, Bill pocketed at least $10 million.

Oh, and the closer?

And don’t get us started on the whole clan’s use of the Clinton Foundation.

Yea, glass houses and all that.

And let’s end with some good advice: You’re better off ignoring Uncle Sam’s ever-changing diet advice.

I’d make some quip about diet advice being valued in inverse proportion to the weight of the person giving it, but that would be unkind. Suffice to say, Uncle Sam is the heaviest person on the block, and he’s also the one with the strongest opinion  on diets, the most force of law to “advise” and the most money to “encourage”.

And he’s wrong, dead wrong.

Well, he’s not dead, yet, but it is arguable that his advice has caused damage, real damage, and lives have been shortened and health worsened by it.

The troubling part isn’t the banality of the guidance, it’s the mistakes the committee has made in its decades of existence, which for years have misled people into eating precisely the wrong things or missing out on things they love — like eggs, meat, certain fats and coffee (all of which were on Saint Nutritionist’s bad list for many years).

It gets worse:

…these guidelines aren’t ignored by other federal agencies.

In fact, the Dietary Guidelines determine how billions of dollars of food stamps are allocated to millions of American citizens who live at or under the poverty line. (Of note: These are the very people who have the highest rates of obesity and might actually benefit from good and reliable health information.)

The guidelines also regulate how school feeding programs (don’t forget, that’s breakfast, lunch and dinner now!) are managed and how our military men and women eat at home and abroad.

Let’s ask that body we elect (Congress, that is) to defund any and all nutritional advice by the federal government, and stick to taking said suggestions from our trusted medical professionals, doctors, and others who can’t sway industry with the stroke of a pen, or destroy lives with the press of a button.

And I’ll leave you with an example of Ted Cruz dealing with a tense situation, a distraught mother, and still having the balls to get to the heart of the matter:

Some Trust In Chariots: A Reminder

Regardless of whether your election night ended in celebration or shellacking, as a Christian, you must keep this in mind:

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Psalm 20:7

Just like any other human, Christians face the temptation to look to humans as saviors of one sort or another, but for a Christian, this is idolatry.

Anytime we look to a human or a human system or human invention to solve a problem inherent to humanity, we are elevating that human, that system, or that invention to the Throne rightfully occupied only by God the Father, Christ the King, and the ever-present Holy Spirit.

Politics is full of promises to solve problems inherent to humanity. We as Christians are privileged to know the problem truly: our own sin. We have also been shown the answer: Christ’s forgiveness through God’s grace.

That is not to say that we ought not seek to raise up those who seek diligently and honestly to improve the human condition and secure the rights of mankind, but we must be frank with ourselves and others about what can and cannot be solved here and now.

We can seek to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and care for the feeble and the fatherless, but we must recognize the poor will always be with us because of human sin.

We can seek to secure the rights of men and women because in that liberty there is accountability before God, not man, for all choices, but we must recognize that God works as well in political bondage as He does in freedom and liberty.

We can seek to steer government through our democratic republic towards what we determine is the best target, but we must remember that the heart of the President, just as surely as the heart of the King, is in the hand of the Lord, and He will steer it howsoever He wills with His glory as his ultimate goal.

Some trust in governments, and some trust in laws,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

The Failure Of The Progressive Dream

Intelligent people going back thousands of years have returned again and again to desiring a particular type of leader: The Philosopher King.

Some leaders have actually tried to embody Plato’s Kallipolisian ideal, including Marcus Aurelius of Rome and Matthias Corvinus of Hungary and Croatia, not just by being super-intelligent, but by studying and applying the craft of leadership, the ideas and ideals of kingship and stewardship.

The problem with the idea of a Philosopher King though is each of us, from the brightest to the dullest, are as human as every other, and a Philosopher King would be as prone to human failings as you and I.

This humanity-chained Hercules of the mind came to full and ugly fruition in the Progressive dreams of the 20th century, and bloodbaths resulted.

Like most of us, Progressives and Leftists want to fix things. The problem with their root ideology though is that they believe mankind can be perfected. They believe that when social problems are done away with, a new and perfect humanity will take over. They believe the heart of the problem is in the System, and that fixing the System will free our basic goodness.

This was the dream of Marxists, Communists, and Socialists.

The problem with this dream is how to apply it, how to bring it about.

Seeing the squabbling ineffectiveness of the democratic republic in the US and various constitutional monarchies such as the United Kingdom, governments going nowhere fast, Progressives knew they needed efficiency and efficacy in their perfect transition government, and that means one person at the top, and knowing the impenetrable corruption of the true monarchies of Europe, they needed a true believer who would use the perfect power of being the one person in charge to bring about the transition to progressive perfection.

They needed a Philosopher King, with the intelligence and will to rule mankind into utopia. They needed someone who was already on the other side to pull the rest of us over.

This combination of the Philosopher King and the progressive view of a perfected mankind is toxic 100% of the time.

The belief that mankind can be perfected makes the idea of a single person holding ultimate acceptable, given that person appears already perfected. The wrongness of the idea that mankind can be perfected means this will fail every time.

This is what happened in Russia, in China, and even in Germany. Progressives around the world, including in the US were enamored of all these regimes when they began, because they agreed with the root goal of each of them, the perfection of mankind.

Whether the progressives were useful idiots, manipulated by  lofty words and high goals, or whether the leaders began as true believers is immaterial: The siren call of a perfected mankind is hard to resist for someone who holds this false view.

Conservatives have generally held a view quite contrary to progressives, that man is not perfect and cannot be made perfect under their effort or the effort of any other person. This is the root disagreement between progressives and conservatives.

When you recognize that humans are incapable of perfection, you create and support systems that decentralize power, that create tension internally so that competing groups each with different sorts of power will keep each other in check.

Systems like a republican government or a government governed by a Constitution all hold the people comprising them to an external standard which is to be applied equally to all, regardless of power or money.

While we’re in no such dream state today, the squabbling ineptitude of Washington DC does serve its purpose, and the Constitution still holds us to an achievable dream, not of human-kind’s perfection, but of the ability to live free of those who would seek to perfect us but would destroy us in the process.

Featured Image Credit: WildCulture: Francis Fukuyama: Political Order & Political Decay

All The Wrong Interpretations: Bill Gothard And Scripture

It is said by we who hold scripture to be the infallible Word of God that in any given passage there is one interpretation and many applications.

Old bibleThis implies that we must be very wary of anyone who teaches an interpretation that is unique or differs substantially from an orthodox interpretation of scripture. These should not be necessarily rejected outright, but they should be accepted only after careful and thorough investigation.

Bill Gothard has a problem: traditional orthodox interpretations of scripture do not agree with his own views and the feelings that he routinely confuses with conviction and truth, and so he must find his own meanings in scripture to support his many teachings. His personal charm and charisma as well as the attractiveness of his teachings to many who listen to him mean his ideas have not faced the scrutiny they ought to have. However, now with the increased awareness of his personal failings, his teachings are also finally being inspected, and those who have been blowing the whistle for so many years are at last being listened to.

Bill Gothard does not teach a slight variant that is still basically acceptable.  Instead his teachings are contrary to scripture. Rather than starting with a good understanding of scripture, Gothard takes his own ideas and forces and tortures scripture to appear to support them.

Here are a few articles published recently on the Recovering Grace site that highlight just a few of the errors found throughout Gothard’s teachings, and note the repeating factor is that Gothard has preconceptions that he goes to great lengths to protect:

Christian Karma

In America, it is popular to leave out the afterlife and focus on the present life. The idea, “Do good things and good things will happen,” has become a philosophy deeply penetrating our society. If the face of tragedy, you will often hear something like this, “It’s such a shame. They were such good people,” or “He had it coming.” Americans believe in karma more than they know.

… On the first night of the Basic Seminar, Bill makes a series of statements: “Life is hooked up in a very delicate cause and effect sequence”…“Wisdom is tracing problems to violations of God’s principles”…“You’re having a problem here, because you’re violating a principle here.” Gothard then gives a testimony of how one man’s business troubles were the consequences of his immoral lifestyle. (He didn’t prove one caused the other, he just implied.) Bill then gave another illustration of a man who was having problems with his children because he had disrespected his own parents. Once again the message rings: Bad things are happening because you must have sinned.

Read Christian Karma.

Character Sketches or Sketchy Characters?

In his Character Sketches series, Mr. Gothard retells many of the stories found in Scripture to illustrate some aspect of character, either good or bad.

Often, however, these sketches are better at illustrating how Mr. Gothard will twist Scriptgirlwithveil.jpg ure with points that are many times theologically poisonous and logically absurd. In light of the theme on Recovering Grace this month, it should be enlightening to examine how Mr. Gothard deals with the issue of sexual abuse as found in Scripture, particularly rape. Obligingly, Mr. Gothard provides us with sketches of the two instances of rape we find in Scripture where the victim is named. Let’s see what these sketches can reveal about Mr. Gothard’s view of Scripture and women.

First of all, it’s worth noting that these sketches reveal a lack of respect for Scripture. In order to make his point, Mr. Gothard has to continually insert ideas, motivations, and thoughts into the story to make it fit his attempt to illustrate a particular character trait. Notice how this works in his retelling of the story of Dinah (found in Character Sketches, volume 1, pp 287-289, and Genesis 34).

Read Character Sketches or Sketchy Characters.

A Tale of Two Abigails

The first Abigail is a wise and beautiful hero, an inspiration to women and men everywhere. Her quick thinking, deliberate action, and diplomatic speech saved many lives. We meet this Abigail in a delightful story told in 1 Samuel 15. Sadly, many of us raised under the Institute in Basic Life Principles and ATI’s teachings grew up hearing a misleading version of this courageous person’s story.

The other version of Abigail is an illustration of the consequences of rebellion. Unhappy with the man whom God had placed in authority over her, she took initiative and stepped out from under his authority, thereby stepping away from God’s will and her “umbrella of protection.” This unwise response to her situation seemingly achieved short-term relief but caused long-term pain, illustrating once again that God hates rebellion. This second version of Abigail’s story is an unfortunate invention appearing in IBLP’s Character Sketches.

Read A Tale of Two Abigails: Part one, and part two.