Saturday, January 28, 2006

Myths of All Kinds

In his January 26th entry, Dave Black has an interesting discussion about polygamy. It is a succinct and thoughtful analysis of an issue that is rarely considered.

Speaking of Dr. Black, I read his book "The Myth of Adolescence" last night. If I can gin up the energy, I might discuss the book in greater detail. Dave argues that the category of "adolescence" (that period of time when a person is not quite an adult nor really a child) is a recent construct driven by cultural and legal changes such as compulsory education laws, child labor laws, the juvenile justice system, etc. Moreover, adolescence is never mentioned in Scripture and Dave argues persuasively that the social theory of adolescence systematically undermines a Christian understanding of human nature. He argues instead from Scripture for an understanding of the "life cycle" that includes the following phases:

1. Childhood (ages 1-12)
2. Emerging Adulthood (12-30)
3. Senior Adulthood (age 30-death)

The book is divided into three sections. Part One presents an overview of the human life cycle and describes development from childhood to adulthood. In Part Two, Dave gleans parenting principles from the life of Jesus. Part Three deals with meat and potatoes issues like courtship and creating expectations in teenagers.

The book also includes a CD-ROM and a closing essay by Dave's wife, Becky, which may very well be the best part of the book. Overall a very enjoyable and quick read.

Justin Raimondo and Robert Dreyfuss remind readers that Israel played a significant role in the creation of Hamas. Talk about blowback! Isn't it interesting that this part of the story is conveniently ignored by the WAPO-NY TIMES-Fox News-CNN crowd? (Here is how the story was reported several years back by UPI). The rise of militant Islam has frequently been aided by the West and demonstrates that careless interventionism is fraught with unintended consequences.

Einstein once said, "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." I was reminded of this quote when I saw that while 53% of Americans think the administration deliberately misled the American public about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, 57% of the public supports military action against Iran.

It has always seemed odd to me that anyone buys into the idea that democracy will produce stability in the Middle East. The Christian Science Monitor, which has provided some decent coverage from Iraq, wonders if democracy empowers "Islamists." Well, of course it does. The only question is why anyone is surprised. Juan Cole has some good thoughts on this, too:

The stunning victory of the militant Muslim fundamentalist Hamas Party in the Palestinian elections underlines the central contradictions in the Bush administration's policies toward the Middle East. Bush pushes for elections, confusing them with democracy, but seems blind to the dangers of right-wing populism. At the same time, he continually undermines the moderate and secular forces in the region by acting high-handedly or allowing his clients to do so. As a result, Sunni fundamentalist parties, some with ties to violent cells, have emerged as key players in Iraq, Egypt and Palestine.

Democracy depends not just on elections but on a rule of law, on stable institutions, on basic economic security for the population, and on checks and balances that forestall a tyranny of the majority. Elections in the absence of this key societal context can produce authoritarian regimes and abuses as easily as they can produce genuine people power. Bush is on the whole unwilling to invest sufficiently in these key institutions and practices abroad. And by either creating or failing to deal with hated foreign occupations, he has sown the seeds for militant Islamist movements that gain popularity because of their nationalist credentials.

In Iraq, which is among the least secure and most economically fraught countries in the world, the Dec. 15 elections brought into Parliament a set of powerful Shiite fundamentalist parties and a new force, the Muslim fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front, which gained most of the votes of formerly secular-minded Iraqi Sunni Arabs. Some IAF politicians are suspected of strong ties to Iraq's Sunni insurgency. In Egypt, last fall's election increased representation for the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood from 17 to more than 70 seats in Parliament, making that group a key political player for the first time in Egyptian history. Decades ago, the party once assassinated a prime minister and attempted to assassinate President Gamal Abdul Nasser, but now maintains it has turned to moderation. It aims at the imposition of a rigid interpretation of Islamic law on Egyptians, including Egyptian women.

Gary North doesn't write like this when he is answering investment queries, telling readers to open daycare centers, or writing other Rockwellian fluff:

Leader by leader, issue by issue, the Christian Right turns to political alliances with humanists in the Republican Party. They are now facing the situation that Blacks face in the Democratic Party: “When you are in a political Party’s hip pocket, you will be sat on.”

The Christian Right wants a halfway house between democracy and theocracy. It also wants a halfway house between theonomy and autonomy, revelation and rationalism, creationism and evolutionism. It wants equal time for Jesus, which means equal time for Satan.

Their allies, the humanists, want no time for Jesus. They want the votes and donations of the faithful, but nothing more. They generally get what they want.

I haven't seen this elsewhere, but Paul Craig Roberts has uncovered some fairly scary provisions in the reauthorization of The Patriot Act. One section creates a permanent police force under the supervision of the Secretary of Homeland Security which can "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony." This police force will be assigned to various jurisdictions, including "an event designated under section 3056(e) of title 18 as a special event of national significance" Unfortunately, "a special event of national significance" is not defined, leaving vast discretion to the executive branch. The likely goal is keeping protestors away from political leaders. Nothing like being able to seek redress for grievances! Christians have bought into this nonsense because they no longer seem to believe in total depravity and seek their security from the state rather than God.


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