Monday, September 27, 2004

On Church Growth

It turns out that if you really want to make your church grow, it is best not be too concerned about sermons, or the proper administration of the Lord’s Supper, etc. What you really need is a cool newspaper ad like those below.

Central Presbyterian Church
Celebrating God’s
Wildly Inclusive Love

Central is one of those "wildly inclusive" PCUSA churches. I’ll give you three guesses to figure out what "Wildly Inclusive Love" means. Do you give up? Here’s a hint: It is the love that dare not speak its name. I’m not kidding.

St. Matthews Baptist Church
3515 Grandview Avenue
9:30 A.M. Bible Study for all ages
10:45 A.M. Celebration Worship
"Raising Children in the 21st Century"
6:30 P.M. Praise Music & Conversational Preaching

Does anyone know what "conversational preaching" is? I suspect it is nothing we would have heard from Spurgeon or Edwards.

New Journey Church
Join us as we help you find your journey to
significance each Sunday this summer at 10:30 am

"Journey to significance?" Hmm, sounds like a Hallmark Card.

Eastern High School Auditorium
"Out By 12:00"

Glad I can be out by noon. I would hate to miss kickoff. No, really, those long thirty-minute sermons have to go.

Audubon Baptist Church
10:45 am Worship Time
What about…The Second Coming?
By Joe and Caroline French

The rapture and a mini concert? Talk about a twofer.

And more…

An article in the September 26th Louisville Courier Journal discussed a new phenomenon in American ecclesiastical life—satellite churches. Unlike congregations that start a new church and give it independence, satellite churches maintain their connection to the main church and will frequently share programs, resources, and pastors.

Not surprisingly, like every other fad in contemporary religious life, the goal is to reach the "unchurched." Funny thing about the "unchurched," the more we distort and pervert the Gospel to reach them, the more of them there are. Hmmm, odd, don’t you think?

A professor of religious studies, Philip Goff, said:

One has to stand back and look at religion as a product. If other people are offering a better product, you have to change with them. In this latte-Internet era, people like a different style of worship.

So what do these churches of "latte-Internet era" look like, anyway? The Courier Journal offers a glimpse a glimpse into one such church:

The Rev. Linda McCoy wears a pantsuit as she reads a sermon based on a Dr. Seuss book, congregants in swivel chairs munch on bagels and sip coffee, and a guitarist and drummer bang out Bob Dylan’s "Forever Young."We don’t do anything traditional if we can help it…we do Communion and we do baptisms. But we do it our way." (italics mine)

One "academic" compared these satellite churches to circuit-riding Methodist congregations of an earlier time that often shared clergyman. Apparently, there is a straight line from John Wesley to Dr. Seuss-style "purpose driven" sermons, bagels and lattes with the "praise and worship" choruses, and doing baptism and communion "our way." Sounds like a Burger King jingle, which isn’t terribly surprising if religion is just another product to be hawked in the marketplace.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

In the News

Amazing medical discovery!! Men and women are different! But what about Galatians 3:28?

Allawi and Bush say things are looking up in Iraq. Since the president has already told everyone that he doesn't read the newspapers, I guess he missed this. But we must "stay the course" because we are making great progress.

Bob Novak is reporting that the CIA and the administration are effectively at war:

Paul R. Pillar, the CIA's national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, sat down Tuesday night in a large West Coast city with a select group of private citizens. He was not talking off the cuff. Relying on a multi-paged, single-spaced memorandum, Pillar said he and his colleagues concluded early in the Bush administration that military intervention in Iraq would intensify anti-American hostility throughout Islam. This was not from a CIA retiree but an active senior official
And most importantly, my wife has updated the pictures over at our website. Stop by and check out my beautiful family. I don't even think there are any pictures of me. Whew!

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Reasons for Hope

Dow Blog was largely established to survey the collapsing cultural, ecclesiastical, and political scene from the vantage point of one meager, lowly Christian who is seemingly spitting into the wind. Though I jokingly refer to myself as "misanthropic," I believe that hopelessness is anti-Christian, and sinful. The God I serve is a sovereign, omnipotent God. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. History is the outworking of His divine will. Therefore, I should rest and take strength from His character and His promises.

A brief essay by Greek scholar, farmer, blogger, and Christian gentleman Dave Black, got me thinking about some signs that God is indeed at work:

1) Though, alas, Christianity is not surging in Europe or the U. S., it is growing globally by leaps and bounds. I recently attended a lecture by Phillip Jenkins, who argues that a tidal wave of Christianity is sweeping the globe. Jenkins says:

The scale of Christian growth is almost unimaginable. Back in 1900, there were about 10 million Christians in Africa, representing about 10 percent of the population. Today there are 360 million, representing just under half the population. That is one of the most important changes in religious history, and I think most of us didn't notice it.

The Bible is alive in Africa and Asia and Latin America. Overwhelmingly, the kind of Christianity is one which is very Bible-centered, which takes the Bible very seriously, takes authority very seriously, both the Old and the New Testament, in a way which I don't think western Christianity has done probably since the Enlightenment.

Jenkins posits that the growth in Christianity will dramatically change the face of Christendom. Though I am leery of some of those potential changes, it is nonetheless heartening to see God's Word being preached around the world and scattering the darkness of superstition and animism.

2) There are signs that, over time, the Christian church may become increasingly orthodox as liberal denominations begin to lose members and clergy. Earlier this year, the Louisville Courier Journal ran an interesting series of articles on the shortage of young pastors in various liberal Protestant denominations. Interestingly, the shortage of young men desiring to enter the ministry is largely a problem confined to "mainline" denominations:

The problem primarily affects "mainline" Protestant denominations — Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans and others — rather than their more conservative counterparts, such as Southern Baptists and Pentecostals.

The mainline churches, whose tall steeples have stood over town squares from the start of the republic, have other problems as well today — declining memberships and quarrels among liberals, conservatives and moderates.

While our "conservative" churches aren't exactly bursting out the doors, I see some anecdotal signs here in Louisville that conservative churches are gaining adherents and, at least at the church I attend, having a large number of babies. A study by the Glenmerry Research Center confirms my general observations. Look at these figures from the 1990's:

Among the denominations showing significant growth in the Glenmary study, and outpacing the 5 percent growth recorded among a reported 41,514 SBC churches, were:
* Presbyterian Church in America, with 1,441 churches, up 42.4 percent.
* Christian and Missionary Alliance, with 1,878 churches, up 21.8 percent.
* Evangelical Free Church, with 1,365 churches, up 57.2 percent.
* Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination with 11,880 churches, up 18.5 percent.
* Church of God, another Pentecostal denomination, based in Cleveland, Tenn., with 5,612 churches, up 40.2 percent.
* Conservative Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, numbering 5,471 churches, up 18.6 percent.

Among the denominations continuing in decline during the 1990s:
-- Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with 11,106 churches, down 11.6 percent.
-- United Methodist Church, with 35,721 churches, down 6.7 percent.
-- Episcopal Church, with 7,314 churches, down 5.3 percent.
-- United Churches of Christ, with 5,863 churches, down 14.8 percent.

American Baptist Churches USA, another prominent national body, also declined, by 5.7 percent.

3) If we are blessed by Spirit-led revival, modern means of communication are tools whereby that revival could spread very rapidly.

Gary North recently wrote an interesting essay discussing the blessings of capitalism. Whether or not I might agree with all of North's claims, it is true that the development of new technologies, communications, and cheap transportation has provided the church with new and inexpensive ways to spread the Gospel and disciple her sheep. In particular, we can now break the educational monopoly, which brings us to another source of hope.

4) The home schooling movement. Recent reports indicate that nearly 1.1 million students were home-schooled in 1999 last year, up 29% from 1999 (and this number is probably low).

5) Religiously conservative Americans are having more children then their secular counterparts. Phillip Longman in the Washington Post writes:

Over the past decade, fertility rates among all major American ethnic groups have either remained low or fallen dramatically. Between 1990 and 2002 fertility declined 14 percent among Mexican Americans and 24 percent among Puerto Ricans. African Americans, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, now have a lower average fertility rate than whites, and they are no longer producing enough children to replace their population. But one big difference in fertility rates remains: Conservative, religiously minded Americans are putting far more of their genes into the future than their liberal, secular counterparts.

Fertility correlates strongly with religious conviction. In the United States, fully 47 percent of people who attend church weekly say that their ideal family size is three or more children. By contrast, only 27 percent of those who seldom attend church want that many kids.

Christianity, properly preached, provides a source of hope. Secularism leads only to despair and civilizational suicide. In Proverbs we are told that without a vision the people die. The Body of Christ needs to get a glimpse of victory, and understand that the war we wage is multigenerational. Even if we don't see the Promised Land, we should purposefully and intentionally bring up our children with the hope that they will, if they maintain faithfulness and obedience to God and His holy Word.

Does it Matter What Bible Translation I Use?

Compare Matthew 26:69-70 in the King James Version and the "Good As New" version, promoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

King James Version: "Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, 'I know not what thou sayest.'"

"Good As New" Version: "Meanwhile Rocky was still sitting in the courtyard. A woman came up to him and said: 'Haven't I seen you with Jesus, the hero from Galilee?' Rocky shook his head and said: 'I don't know what the hell you're talking about.'"

For a discussion of heretical translations that propagate the egalitarian heresy, see this brief editorial from Touchstone.

Perhaps the jokers translating and publishing these "modern" translations should remember the Word of the Lord in Deuteronomy 12:32: "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Rather Inconsequential

Steve Sailer is mystified by the brouhaha over Dan Rather and forged documents:

If Dan Rather publicizing obviously forged documents is the worst thing in the history of the world (as blogdom is monomaniacally pronouncing), then what was it when the Bush Administration foisted an unnecessary war upon America based largely on convicted embezzler and known forger Ahmed Chalabi's countless lies?
Paul Craig Roberts, God bless him, is asking the same question.

Chalabi was on the Pentagon payroll and had this to say about his role dragging the US into an unjustified war with his bogus "intelligence":

As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important.

Meanwhile, UPI is reporting that not only was there dishonesty leading up to the war, but that the Pentagon is covering up the true number of American casualties:

Nearly 17,000 service members medically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan are absent from public Pentagon casualty reports commonly cited by newspapers, according to military data reviewed by United Press International.

There is some good news, however. Washington sage Bob Novak is predicting a U-Turn in policy toward Iraq early in 2005 if Bush wins the coming election. Novak writes:

Inside the Bush administration policymaking apparatus, there is strong feeling that U.S. troops must leave Iraq next year. This determination is not predicated on success in implanting Iraqi democracy and internal stability. Rather, the officials are saying: ready or not, here we go.

Novak is pointing toward an obvious fact that whomever is elected in November is facing a deteriorating situation in Iraq, and the options there are two-fold. We can either put "more boots on the ground," which seems to be the option of John McCain, Dick Lugar, Chuck Hagel, Joe Biden, and the blood-thirsty necons. Or we can declare victory and come home. The latter option is looking increasingly enticing.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Tom Fleming Bodyslams the Neocons...and More

Rich Lowry (send him mail) recently said that the paleconservatives described by David Frum as "unpatriotic conservatives," are "people who think the North should have lost the Civil War. They are people who think this country has been polluted by minorities and they are people who more or less want to fellow travel with our enemies in the war on terror." Lowry is speaking here of the likes of Pat Buchanan, Bob Novak, Tom Fleming, Sam Franics, Justin Raimondo, and probably me, too.

Tom Fleming, perhaps the smartest man in America, and one fantastic polemicist, responds in kind. Here is a tiny morsel--but read the rest!!

The ugly truth is that conservative politicos and political intellectuals are, in general, a disreputable lot. There is more than one bogus Ph.D., several plagiarists—including neoconservative Michael Ledeen, who was denied tenure at Washington University on a number of grounds including plagiarism—and at least one prominent perjurer: Elliot Abrams, who was forbidden to testify on Capitol Hill after lying to Congress. The loathing of Abrams, Norman Podhoretz’s son-in-law, is nonpartisan. Republican Sen. Dave Durenberger once summed up the general sentiment: "I wouldn’t trust Elliott any further than I could throw Ollie North." Abrams’ current position in the Bush administration, it should be noted, did not require Senate confirmation.

I have not even mentioned the innumerable “conservative” politicos and commentators who cheated on their wives and/or dumped them for younger women:
Phil Gramm, Dan Crane, Bob Dole, George Will, Newt Gingrich, Deal Hudson, Rush Limbaugh, and Bob Tyrell, though Tyrell’s swinging has not prevented him from commenting on the problems caused by divorce. The King of Swing may have been the former president of Hillsdale College, but the less said about him the better. What is repulsive about conservatives is not so much their peccadilloes—errare est humanum—as their smarmy pretense to be the vanguard of a moral revolution.

Here is another piece trying to explain what George Bush believes about Christianity. Pieter Friedrich, on the other hand, calls Bush a heretic. I've offered a few thoughts about this previously, but let me say for the record that I don't really doubt the sincerity of Mr. Bush's confession. However, he is not particularly thoughtful, nor are most Christians, about how their faith applies to life. Bush is no different in this respect from the millions of faithful who read Rick Warren and Bill Hybels and say, "it changed my life." Until the church stops simpliying the faith, peddling nothing but milk, skim milk to be precise, and teaches meaty systematic doctrine and theology to the hungry flock, our civilization will continue to decline.

Are Darwinists on the Run?

Dr. Albert Mohler published an interesting commentary earlier this week on the controversy surrounding Dr. Steven Meyer.

Meyer published a peer-reviewed paper that argued quite simply that "neo-Darwinism fails to provide a mechanism that can produce large-scale innovations in form and complexity." In other words, natural selection is an inadequate mechanism to explain the novelty of the multiple, varied, and complex life forms that arose during the Cambrian explosion. In short, Darwinism is a theory that has not and will not, because it cannot, explain the origin of life.

After dispensing with a number of different evolutionary models, Meyer posits that, "intelligent selection--purposive or goal-directed design," i.e., a purposeful Creator, may be the explanation. Needless to say, the evolutionists went bonkers, apologizing for publishing something so vile and issuing what amounted to shrill doctrinal statements in defense of their faith.

Darwinists are on the run and the Intelligent Design movement is one of the most promising intellectual movements on the contemporary scene. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary entered the fray over ID this week by establishing the Center for Science and Theology with William Dembski as its director. We wish him well.

Thomas Kuhn in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions argued that paradigm shifts in scientific thought generally occur very quickly. May Dembski and his cohorts kick the legs out from under the materialists.

The Iraq Quagmire Continued

The security situation in Iraq is spinning out of control. Journalist Stephen Farrell provides a glimpse of the situation:

On Tuesday, it was 73 people killed in a Baghdad car bombing and in an ambush on police in Baquba. The day before it was 16 Iraqis killed in a US warplane attack that was either a successful strike on a terrorist hideout or an attack on an ambulance, depending on which side you believe.

More than two months after Washington returned sovereignty to Iraq, the summer honeymoon of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has already flashed past, and a much harsher climate prevails.

Insurgents fight running battles with Iraqi and US forces in the heart of Baghdad. Whole cities or parts of cities have become no-go zones for US troops. Many highways are now too dangerous to use.

In the first two weeks of September alone, 291 Iraqi civilians have been killed. The number of foreigners taken hostage last month soared to 31. The average number of attacks on US soldiers reached 87 a day.

The standard line from the crowd that gets information solely from the Fox News Channel is that there is much good in Iraq that the liberal media isn’t reporting. Ferrell points out that a lot of bad news doesn’t see the light of day, either because, "Kidnapping, looting, criminal opportunism and xenophobia make it simply too dangerous for Western journalists to visit many areas."

Meanwhile, the US is nowhere near controlling major portions of Iraq. The AP reports that:

The interim Iraqi government has not gained control over key Sunni Muslim cities such as Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra, U.S. officials say, despite hopes that the formal end of the U.S. occupation June 28 would help stabilize the country.

Indeed, if the AP is correct, Fallujah residents are likely longing for a return of Saddam Hussein:

In Fallujah, where heavy fighting the past few days represented an escalation of tensions in the Sunni-dominated area, power is in the hands of the "Mujahedeen Shura Council," a six-member body led by Sheik Abdullah al-Janabi, the leading Sunni cleric and the undisputed ruler of the city since May.

The mujahedeen run their own courts that try people suspected of spying for the Americans or other offenses. Fallujah resident Abu Rihab said that since May, the mujahedeen have put to death about 30 people convicted of spying. It was impossible to confirm the figure.

Among those put to death by the mujahedeen was Lt. Col. Suleiman Hamad al-Marawi of the Iraqi National Guard. After al-Marawi was killed for allegedly spying for the Americans, the entire National Guard contingent, estimated to number several hundred, fled the city.

To combat the growing Iraqi insurgency, the Pentagon is increasingly turning to air power. On Monday, US forces conducted a strike that either successfully hit remnants of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s forces, or killed a bunch of innocent women and children, depending on who you believe.

The likely result of using air power in heavily populated civilian areas is the death of innocents and the further radicalization of the population.

Meanwhile, Christians in Iraq continue to be killed as the Isalmists we have empowered slowly begin to accumulate power and impose Sharia on the areas they dominate. Much as with American meddling in the Balkans, our intervention has strengthened the hand of extremist Muslims and endangered our Christian brethren in the process. I don’t know what to call it, but "just war" doesn’t slide off the tongue.

Even more depressing is that there is no exit strategy and seemingly no way out of the quagmire. The CIA assessment of the situation is that at best we can maintain the status quo, and if things go badly (??), Iraq’s various factions could slide into civil war.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Politics and Guilt

The Apostle Paul tells us that God has written a certain rudimentary knowledge of God’s law on every human heart (Rom. 2:14-15). Human experience confirms this truth. But Scripture also warns that the conscience can be misinformed, even conditioned to regard evil as sin. Paul also cautions that the human conscience can become dulled or seared through repeated sin (I Tim. 4:2).

A troubled conscience is not merely problematic for individuals, but can become a powerful force driving social, cultural, and political transformation. A people plagued by guilt can either bring their behavior into accord with their morality, or they can adjust their morality to suit their behavior.

The first option is repentance. Paul writes that as Adam’s heirs we are sinners (Rom. 5:12) dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). However, as the new Adam, Jesus stared down the great tempter in the wilderness and lived a perfect and sinless life. He became our representative in obedience. Moreover, in His atoning death, "many will be made righteous" by the imputation of His righteousness to those who accept His work in faith and turn from their disobedience.

The ideal is a conscience freed from guilt that is Biblically informed and able to lead us toward holiness. Christ said that if we abide in His Word and know Him that we will know the truth. For "if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). In Galatians, that great epistle of Christian Liberty, Paul says that we are to "stand fast," or cling tenaciously, to the liberty "by which Christ has made us free."

Paul goes on to say that Christ’s death frees His adopted children not only from the curse of the Law, but from the yolk of man’s guilt. Paul says in Romans 8:1 that, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."

As a culture becomes progressively de-Christianized, then, we should not be surprised if guilt becomes an important ingredient in the social milieu as more and more individuals are enslaved by it. As E. Michael Jones puts it:

This thing called guilt is an elusive but persistent commodity. If we repress it in one area of our lives, it pops up somewhere else. If we refuse to acknowledge the atoning power of Jesus Christ and the immutability of the moral law His Church propounds, we find ourselves, not free from guilt as the propagandists would lead us to believe, but enslaved to it, consumed by it, succumbing like the most ignorant and benighted savage to ritual acts of propitiation.

Guilt will thus become an engine driving the political train as the non-believer seeks redemption through the messianic state. Rousas Rushdoony foresaw this in a prophetic little book called The Politics of Guilt and Pity:

The reality of man apart from Christ is guilt and masochism. And guilt and masochism involve the unshakeable inner slavery which governs the total life of the non-Christian. The politics of the anti-Christian will thus inescapably be the politics of guilt. In the politics of guilt, man is perpetually drained of his social energy and cultural activity by his overriding sense of guilt and his masochistic activity. He will progressively demand of the state a redemptive role. What he cannot do personally, i.e., to save himself, he demands that the state do for him, so that the state, as man enlarged, becomes the human savior of man. The politics of guilt, therefore, is not directed, as the Christian politics of liberty, to the creation of godly justice and order, but to the creation of a redeeming order, a saving state. Guilt must be projected, therefore, on all those who oppose this new order and new age.

Thus we have so-called "liberal guilt," driven by the fury of secularism.

But Paleoconservative writer and historian Paul Gottfried has identified another source as the wellspring of social guilt--Protestantism. In Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, Gottfried argues that Protestant cultures "stress individual redemptive experience and giving witness thereto." Moreover, says Gottfried, while Catholics ritualize repentance, the Protestant practice is done in public. "It is a means of showing the righteousness of the redeemed sinner and underscores the power of divine grace in a fallen world," says Gottfried.

Gottfried largely identifies guilt-mongering with liberal Protestantism. And, indeed, one will find a great deal of hand-wringing about "racism," sexism," "homophobia," etc., among liberal Protestant theologians and in the public statements of various denominations. He argues, in effect, that Protestantism has inherent theological tendencies toward guilt and the rejection of social hierarchy and authority in favor of individualism. But what Gottfried identifies isn’t so much liberal Protestantism as liberalism itself.

Unfortunately, the overweening guilt Gottfried identifies is not merely confined to the PCUSA or the United Methodists. Indeed, plenty of emoting about slavery, racism, and anti-Semitism has come from conservative Protestant denominations, such as my own Southern Baptist Convention, and parachurch ministries such as Promise Keepers.

Not to be outdone, Pope John Paul II has done plenty of groveling in recent years, too. He has apologized to Protestants for the Inquisition, Jews for the Holocaust, Muslims for the Crusades, and even the Greek Orthodox Church.

In effect, liberalism as an ideology has infected all Christian sects in the last century, and blame for this should not be laid solely at the feet of Protestants. This liberalism has been employed by the managerial elite as an instrument to bludgeon any and all opposition to the ruling class. Indeed, virtually every anti-Christian political movement (statism, feminism, egalitarianism, homosexualism, internationalism, etc.) is driven by the politics of guilt.

Here as elsewhere, so much of the blame for our current plight must be laid at the feet of Christians and an impotent Church. As Christ’s ambassadors, we must preach a Gospel that liberates rather then enslaves and live in the freedom that Christ died to give us. We must not seek our salvation in the arms of an omnipotent, idolatrous state, but in the loving arms of the Lamb of God who died to reconcile us to the Father.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Anti-Semitism: Last Refuge of the Scoundrel

Is there a more disreputable member of the professional chattering class then Wall Street Journal scribbler James Taranto?

In his September 7th column, Taranto pulls out the old canard that Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite. In fact, according to Taranto, Pat is joined at the hip with Osama Bin Laden. Here is a morsel from the “Meet the Press” transcript that has Taranto in a flutter:

Russert: You have written something in your book that I think is going to be quite controversial and I want to put it on the screen and share it with you and our viewers and give a chance for our group to respond to it:

"U.S. dominance of the Middle East is not the corrective to terror. It is a cause of terror. Were we not over there, the 9/11 terrorists would not have been over here. And while their acts were murderous and despicable, behind their atrocities lay a political motive. We were attacked because of our imperial presence on the sacred soil of the land of Mecca and Medina, because of our enemies' perception that we were strangling the Iraqi people with sanctions and preparing to attack a second time, and because of our uncritical support of the Likud regime of Ariel Sharon" in Israel.

Are you suggesting that our alliance with Israel is one of the reasons that we were attacked on September 11?

Buchanan: Sure. That's one of the reasons given by Osama bin Laden. In his fatwa of 1998, he wrote that there are three causes of the problems and three causes for a declaration of war by all Arabs and good Muslims against the United States. One, America's imperial presence on the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia. Secondly, the sanctions policy against Iraq which was persecuting and basically starving, he said, the Iraqi people, and we were planning another invasion. Third is the United States' uncritical support of the Ariel Sharon regime in Israel, which he argued is persecuting the Palestinian people.

That unabashed American support for Israel is a source of irritation in the Arabic and Islamic world ought to be beyond dispute. Apparently, however, to bring up the obvious is taboo and beyond the pale of legitimate discussion.

In point of fact, to posit that there are any political or policy reasons for Islamic rage is to court the charge of anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism. That America is hated because she is “good” or practices “democracy” or believes in “freedom” has become part of our national mythology, taken as an article of faith.

If Taranto and his ilk are to be believed, Osama Bin Laden was stumbling across the Sudan or crawling out of an Afghani cave in the 1990’s and came upon a dog-eared copy of the Federalist Papers and the latest Britney Spears CD and decided that, lo and behold, he hated America, and would do everything in his power to drive the Great Satan out of historically Islamic lands.

Unfortunately, the cold truth is that we are hated not for who we are, but for what for we do. The US can continue one-sided support for Israel; she can continue propping up “moderate” regimes hated by the Islamic faithful; she can continue on a path of never-ending interventionism that is the source of terror; she can continue down the imperial path. But to do so will bring about the loss of American prestige, blood, and treasure.

Cicero said that, "To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.” We are living in an age governed by children who have forgotten or neglected the wisdom of generations past.

In his Farewell Address, Washington urged a policy that would, “steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” John Q. Adams said of America that she “does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

We continue to neglect the wisdom of our forefathers at our peril. Our beloved Republic has exchanged a birthright of liberty for the imperial pottage offered up by the neocons who, in the words of Russell Kirk, frequently confuse Washington with Tel Aviv.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Labor Day

Please also visit Dave Black’s site. This goes doubly for my Baptist friends out there. Dave has very kindly posted a number of my inconsequential ravings on his website, and I am still finding new and interesting links on his page devoted to “Unleashing the Church.” Dave also finds time in his busy schedule to pen numerous informative essays and a fantastic blog.

Eric Margolis has an interesting piece on the burgeoning Israeli spy scandal. Ultimately, all of this sound and fury will probably amount to very little. Hope to have more to say about this in coming days.

Here is Paul Craig Roberts on the “Third-Worldization” of the United States. Happy Labor Day!

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Goldwater's Heirs?

Few writers who claim the “conservative” label have acquired so prominent a position in the establishment as George Will. Hence, Will’s musings are of consequence and consideration.

In his latest column, Will says a couple of strange things. First, he wrote that political conventions are “intensely interesting.” That’s a knee-slapper, but not unexpected coming from a bow-tie wearing journalist. Seriously, is watching McCain, Miller, Edwards, and the rest rant, rave, and prevaricate really interesting?

Secondly, Will says that the Republican convention saw a rebirth of Goldwaterism. Since, I had better things to do then watch the convention (there were heaps of dog dung I had to scoop in the back yard), I was interested in this mysterious trend that Will had spotted.

What evidence was proffered by Will to prove his assertion that the spirit of Goldwater had been resurrected in New York? Why the rapturous reception given to Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

OK, so Will thinks Schwarzenegger and Giuliani are Goldwaterites? When they endorse repealing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, call for the repeal of Social Security, support selling the Tennessee Valley Authority, and condemn racial preferences, I might agree. Until such time, I will continue to consider them liberals.

In truth, what Will is doing is defining Goldwaterism to mean libertinism. What he seems to find disturbing about the Right is its opposition to the homosexualist and pro-abort attack on American life. Will writes that "the dominance of the cultural conservatives gave force to the Democrats' and the media's caricatures of the Republican Party as a brackish lagoon of intolerance, a caricature that, like all caricatures, contained a trace of truth. "

My, my. So it turns out the social Right is a "lagoon of intolerance" to be rescued by paragons of virtue like Ahhhnold and Rudy. What Will is couneling is that the Republicans, who have in no substantive way countered the radical homosexuals and done nothing to turn the tide against abortion, should do even less.

When will conservative Christians wake up to the fact that they have no political home?

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Republican Idolatry

Teddy Roosevelt once said of his countrymen that, “We are a people, not a polyglot boarding house.” Decades of mass immigration has changed the ethnic composition of the country. But the shift to a majority non-white population is only one revolution being foisted on the country by its ruling class.

According to a recent study at the University of Chicago, America’s Protestant majority will disappear in the next year. According to the survey, the Protestant population has shrunk from 63% in 1993 to just 52% in 2002.

The survey also found that the percentage of Americans claiming no religion has risen from 5.1% in 1972 to 13.8% in 2002. Over the same period, American’s claiming a non-Christian or non-Jewish religion rose from 1.9% to 6.9%.

The decline of Protestantism leads to the sort of blasphemy that took place at the Republican National Convention this week.

A Mulsim Imam opened the convention in prayer. This decision by Karl Rove, or whoever is responsible, is nothing less than the advancement of idolatry, pure and simple.

Like the emperors of ancient Rome, our leaders bless all religions as long as none claim to corner the market on truth.

Christians should ask themselves if it worse for pagans to advance idolatry or Christians to promote idolatry.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Abortion and the Judicial Imperium

The goal of any humanistic ruling class is to destroy all competing centers of legitimate authority. The social, political, and cultural elites that manipulate the political and cultural apparatus for their own enrichment and amusement have long seen fit to attack "renegade" sub-national political structures and whip them into line.

In the U.S., for well over a century, the judiciary has been the primary mechanism used to foster dynamic social revolution. Despite its alleged conservatism, an activist Supreme Court has been the primary instrument implementing and institutionalizing the Sexual Revolution in American life. This is particularly true with regard to contraception and abortion.

The genius of the original American Republic was the disbursement of power between branches of government and, more importantly, a system of dual sovereignty whereby the states were granted ultimate authority, ceding only certain clearly defined powers to the national government.

Naturally this system was under attack from the beginning. The Supreme Court established "judicial review" with the Marbury decision and wide-ranging questions as diverse as tariffs, internal improvements, and slavery ultimately led to the penultimate battle between nationalists (the Union) and supporters of states' rights, represented by the Confederate States of America.
As the Civil War is not the subject of this essay, I won't rehash the duplicity of Abraham Lincoln, suffice to say that the War Between the States represented the end of constitutional government envisioned by our Founders. Just as importantly, it represented the definitive victory of a New England commercial elite and put into place the machinery that would be used to further undermine the Constitution, and ultimately the family.

Aside from the 13th Amendment, which freed slaves from their bondage, the most significant constitutional change springing from the Civil War was the 14th Amendment, which has supplied the ammunition for a legal revolution. Originally designed to introduce procedural due process into state proceedings, the amendment says: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

On its face, the language of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment says that a state must use sufficiently fair and legal processes when taking the life, liberty, or property of a citizen. As such, it extends 5th Amendment due process provisions to the various states. This intervention of the federal government into the affairs of the various states was problematic, and to a certain extent revolutionary. But much more was to come.

Through a series of decisions over several decades, the Supreme Court used the 14th Amendment to introduce "substantive due process" into the mix. Substantive due process, essentially, is the theory that the due process clauses of the 5th and 14th Amendments insure not only proper procedural safeguards, but that a person's life, liberty and property may not be taken without sufficient justification as well.

This line of reasoning dramatically broadened the authority of the federal courts by exponentially expanding the power of federal judicial review of state laws. The Constitution was originally written to limit the powers of the central government and only a handful of restrictions were placed on states (Article 1, Section 10 and Article 6). However, through the creation of substantive rights, federal courts seized the power to overturn state laws in two ways. First, the Court invented the "Incorporation Doctrine," whereby selected provisions of the Bill of Rights were applied to states under due process provisions. Secondly, the Court created the "Fundamental Rights" theory, whereby the Court would adopt whatever substantive rights it believed must be protected without any reliance on written provisions of the Constitution. The Court typically roots fundamental rights in the word "liberty" in the first clause of the 14th Amendment.

In short, the Court simply expropriated the authority to create law on a whim, and in the process overturn duly elected state officials and public sentiment without even citing constitutional authority to do so.

In a series of cases, the Court used the substantive due process doctrine to create a right to privacy and ultimately manipulated the "liberty" provision of the 14th Amendment to justify virtually unfettered access to abortion at any point during pregnancy. In the process of establishing the abortion regime, the Court ignored the "will of the people" as expressed through their representatives.

For instance, in 1910 forty-five states had anti-abortion provisions on the books and in Kentucky, the judiciary had acted to make abortion illegal, yet by 1973 the Court had enshrined legalized abortion as the de facto law of the land. How did this happen?

The sexual revolutionaries, led by Planned Parenthood, first focused on laws limiting the distribution and use of contraceptive devices. In 1965, the Court struck down a Connecticut statute (in Griswold v. Connecticut) that criminalized the use of drugs or devices to prevent conception. The 7-2 decision, authored by William O. Douglas, introduced the "penumbra" concept, which says that certain fundamental rights exist and must be enforced against federal and state authorities in spite of not being written directly into the Constitution. These supposed rights are found in the "gaps" of the enumerated rights.

For example, in the Griswold decision, Douglas found a marital privacy right that allegedly stretches across the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 9th Amendments even though it is not explicitly mentioned in the text. Other concurring justices found the justification for privacy in the 14th Amendment (Harlan and White) and the 9th Amendment (Goldberg). Justices Black and Stewart dissented from the majority opinion, arguing that a right cannot be a "constitutional right" if it is not found in the Constitution. Such obvious logic escaped the seven justices in the majority. Black and Stewart argued, in effect, that just because a law is stupid or ill conceived does not mean it is necessarily unconstitutional.

The Court struck again in Eisenstadt v. Baird, invalidating a Massachusetts law making it a crime to distribute contraceptives, unless you were a doctor or pharmacist prescribing them for a married couple. In Eisenstadt the Court went beyond the marital privacy right established in Griswold by holding that privacy is inherently an individual right. In writing for the majority, Justice Brennan said, "If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted government intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision of whether to bear or beget a child." Therefore, the Massachusetts law was struck down on equal protection grounds because, in the opinion of the Court's majority, it discriminated against single people. The judicial attack on marriage as a covenant was underway.

The leap from Eisenstadt to Roe was a short one indeed. The 7-2 decision in Roe v Wade invalidated abortion laws across the country by voiding a Texas statute that prohibited abortion, except to save the life of the mother. The majority opinion, written by Harry Blackmun, held that abortion is a fundamental constitutional right and falls within the wide net of "privacy" cast over the side of the boat by Justices Douglas and Brennan in earlier decisions.

Blackmun did concede that the state has an interest in protecting fetal life after the second trimester, but he further undermined that holding with his opinion in the companion case of Doe v. Bolton. Writing there, the Blackmun majority held that a woman may procure an abortion after six months if a doctor determines that in light of "emotional, psychological, [and] familial" circumstances it is necessary for her "physical or mental health" to have an abortion. The "health of the mother" exception was written so broadly in Doe that a woman could literally receive a letter from her podiatrist pleading "medical necessity" and bypass state restrictions on abortion.

Furthermore, by insisting that abortion was a "fundamental" right, the Roe majority insured that state regulation must meet the legal standard of "strict scrutiny," meaning that there must be a "compelling state interest" in restricting access to abortion. In layman's terms, the legal standard established in Roe made it difficult for any legislation restricting abortion to pass constitutional muster. And with the decision in Doe, the Court created a gaping loophole making it virtually impossible to legislate against abortion.

Since Roe in 1973, abortion law has changed somewhat. A small number of limited restrictions have been placed on abortion, but the "right to choose" is as entrenched as ever in public policy despite public uneasiness with abortion on demand.

The Casey decision in 1992 upheld the central holding of Roe while using a different legal justification. The right to privacy was discarded while substantive due process and the "liberty" clause of the 14th Amendment were once again invoked to overturn state law, in this case several Pennsylvania restrictions on abortion. Two quotes from Sandra Day O’Connor’s majority opinion will sufficiently demonstrate the mindset of the Rehnquist Court:

The Roe rule's limitation of state power could not be repudiated without serious inequity to people who, for two decades of economic and social developments, have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail. The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives (italics mine).

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.
Once more, the Court used substantive due process undergirded by extreme individualist and egalitarian ideologies, completely at odds with the rule of law, to strip a sovereign state of its rightful privileges, all in the name of preserving the "fundamental right to choose."
The precedent establishment by the Rehnquist Court in Casey was also employed when the Supreme Court overturned Texas’ sodomy law in the Lawrence decision.

What do we learn from this short foray into Constitutional law?

First, the road to hell is paved with fundamental human rights. The perverted synthesis of two anti-Christian ideologies, individualism and egalitarianism, has led to the wholesale slaughter of America's unborn.

Second, the revolutionary legal doctrines discussed above are at odds with any original understanding of the Constitution. Political elites like the idea of centralized rather than diffuse power. Abortion and contraception are just two of the weapons wielded by secularized elites to emasculate the institutions that mediate between the individual and Leviathan.

Church, family, and sub-national political entities have all been victims of the legal revolution unleashed by spurious legal doctrines such as "incorporation," "substantive due process," and "equal protection." The Court has used misappropriated (i.e., stolen) power to strip states of their prerogatives and centralize power in its own bosom. In the process, it has accomplished the goals of the ruling class by consolidating and centralizing power and allowed the slaughter of a generation as a mere afterthought.