Monday, May 29, 2017

OUR IDEAS WILL GROW US OR SHRINK US





I was surprised to learn that an animal will not outgrow its cage or fish-tank. This is because its growth is limited by its space.

I was also surprised to learn that we not grow beyond our ideas. As space imposes its limitation on physical growth, our beliefs impose their limits on our personal and spiritual growth.

The Psalms are in harmony with this idea:

·       Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them. (Psalm 115:4-8)

We become what we believe and are either exalted or degraded by them. The way we think about ourselves (and our deity) will be the way we feel about ourselves. Psychologist James Hillman observed that we can deaden our lives through the way we interpret them:

·       We dull our lives by the way we conceive then… By accepting the idea that I am the effect of…hereditary and social forces, I reduce myself to a result. The more my life is accounted for by what already occurred in my chromosomes, by what my parents did or didn’t do, and by my early years now long past, the more my biography is the story of a victim. I am living a plot written by my genetic code, ancestral heredity, traumatic occasions, parental unconsciousness, societal accidents. (The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling, Random House, 6)

To think of oneself as a result or a victim will affect the way we feel about ourselves. It will also affect the way we regard and treat others. If we believe that they are no more than a wet machine, we will treat them as such and throw them on the dump heap when we feel that they have outlived their usefulness.

In “Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto for Ailing Nations,” Vishal Mangalwadi applies this same principle to nations. He observed that the beliefs of his Hindu India and the Christian West were radically different:

·       Acharya-turned-Bhagwan-turned-Osho Rajneesh, who gave widespread publicity to the tantric idea of salvation through sex, summarized the Indian as well as the postmodern Western worldview in similar terms: “We have divided the world into the good and the evil. The world is not so divided. The good and the evil are our valuations [not God’s commandments]. There is no good, there is no bad. These are two aspects of one reality… The data collected by Transparency International shows that the least corrupt countries are overwhelmingly those whose soul was nurtured by the Bible.

It should be no surprise that if we do not believe in an objective right and wrong, we will begin to act in concert with this belief. Immediate gratification will inevitably triumph over moral truth and hard honest work. Mangalwadi reasoned that Hindu philosophy is directly related to the impoverishment of India:

·       India’s religious philosophy taught that since the human soul was divine, it could not sin. In fact, our most rigorous religious philosophy teaches that everything is God. God is the only reality that exists, and therefore there is no ultimate distinction between good and evil, right and wrong.

Who would want to enter into a business deal with someone who doesn’t believe in right or wrong! Wouldn’t we rather affiliate with someone who has such a high commitment to moral truth that honesty would govern his life? Therefore, Mangalwadi reasoned that economy is inseparable from our beliefs, the fish-tank within which we dwell:

·       Their chronic poverty proves what Adam Smith, a father of capitalism, knew: real- world economics are the result of the kind of morality you have, which in turn is a fruit of the kind of philosophy you have. For example, why have health care costs become so obscene in America that they are destroying the very culture of compassion? Insurance and pharmaceutical companies that sustain health care are blamed only because the intellectual elite can no longer calculate the economic costs of academic godlessness that separates economics from moral truth.

If we do not truly believe in an objective right and wrong, business will inevitably focus on short-term gains – profit – and not on quality and promoting the go

The growth of nations will only be as big as the fish-bowl of its beliefs. If its beliefs extend towards heaven, so too will its growth.

Mangalwadi asked some American tourists how to get tickets for the Amsterdam tram. They responded”

·       “Why do you want to get tickets? We’ve been riding around for a week. No one has ever come to check any tickets.”

Mangalwadi was startled more by their hardness of conscience than by their theft of service:

·       Their shamelessness shocked me more than their immorality. They represented the new generation, liberated from “arbitrary” and “oppressive” religious ideas of right and wrong. University education had freed them from commandments such as “You shall not steal.”

Someone has to pay the price for sin. Eventually, the Dutch will have to hire additional personnel to collect the fares. Who pays for them? Everyone! I too have met many such travelers. They are intelligent, likeable, knowledgeable, highly educated, and even sensitive to victimization in its various forms, but they were unable to connect the dots to their own behaviors. Not a twinge of shame!

The West has built for itself a narrow cage. Although it hasn’t embraced physical idols of wood and stone, it has embraced other idols in place of God – immediate gratification and the denial of freewill and objective morality. There, it hopes to find refuge from their demanding conscience.

Mangalwadi marvels West’s intellectual myopia:

·       This good news [of the Christian faith] became the intellectual foundation of the modern West, the force that produced moral integrity, economic prosperity, and political freedom. If moral integrity is foundational to prosperity, why don’t secular experts talk about it? The reason is that the universities no longer know whether moral laws are true universal principles or mere social conventions made up to restrict our freedoms. And why don’t they know? Economists have lost the secret of the West’s success because philosophers have lost the very idea of truth. Why? The truth was lost because of an intellectual arrogance that rejected divine revelation.

Their quest for absolute freedom and autonomy has made them slaves to ideas that have deprived them of their dignity as human beings. They live in cages but believe that they are hiking on the mountain tops.

HEARTBROKEN OVER THE CHURCH





My friend has been going to seeker-sensitive churches (SSC) for a good 20 years. I therefore listened carefully as he explained what he has observed. In the more biblically-faithful SSCs, Scripture is not distorted or denigrated. However, many doctrines are left out – those which might cause offense – resulting in a distorted and unbalanced Gospel presentation.

Just about all of these churches place a great deal of emphasis on home fellowship groups. The need for community is regularly emphasized, but not doctrine. Consequently, group leaders are not chosen because of their accurate and faithful understanding of Scripture, but as facilitators – those who are able to make the participants feel comfortable and valued. Therefore, all comments are valued and accepted, except those that might disrupt the community spirit.

Consequently, doctrine has little to do with the building of community and the unity in Christ. SSCs ignore the fact that when Christ sent out His Apostles, He instructed them to:

·       “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20; ESV)

Are SSCs faithful to Christ’s commission? Are they faithful to the many teachings of Scripture that measure our love of God according to following His commands?

·       Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14:23-24)

Instead, the SSCs seem to ignore many Scriptural teachings, as if they think that they have a better formula. Instead, Paul had taught about what preaching should look like in the last days when people would no longer hear the Gospel (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:3-4):

·       I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: PREACH THE WORD; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, WITH COMPLETE PATIENCE AND TEACHING. (2 Timothy 4:1-2)

SSCs have left out the admonition for “complete…teaching,” lest it might cause offense, without thinking that such omissions might be an offense to God. Paul understood that they these omissions would constitute an offense. Therefore, he stated:

 
·       Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:26-27)

In contrast SSCs shrink back from much. Not only is this an offense to God, but it is also depriving the congregation of spiritual growth:

·       Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2-3)

I could not have survived without the Word. I had suffered from decades of severe depression followed by panic attacks, which left me devastated. I didn’t know if I could endure much longer. I loathed myself, and projected this onto everyone else, thinking that they too loathed me.

However, the Spirit began to apply the Scriptures to my heart and mind. Through them, He taught me that it wasn’t about me but about Him (Galatians 2:20), that God didn’t hate me, as my emotions were informing me. Instead, He loved me with a love that went far beyond anything that I could conceive (Ephesians 2:16-19).

Once the Spirit and convinced me that He loved me, I could begin to accept myself and then to feel accepted by others. Jesus’ teachings became very real to me:

·       So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

As Jesus had indicated, it was a process. However, now I feel freed and empowered. My greatest joy is now serving Him according to His Word.

The SSCs are depriving their sheep of this. Some of these churches even scorn Scripture. I grieve deeply, but this should lead us to prayer.

THOMAS SOWELL, THE LEFT, AND THEIR DESTRUCTIVE POLICIES






Economist Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, Stanford University, believes that the Left hurts those it claims to want to help by depriving them of choice and self-determination:

·       For example, under current California law, Hispanic school children cannot be taught in Spanish if their parents want them taught in English. Like parents in other immigrant groups before them, Hispanic parents tend to want their children to learn English, so that those children will have more opportunities when they become adults in an English-speaking country. But the Left in general, and Hispanic activists in particular, have fought against leaving Hispanic parents with that choice.

In essence, the Left is convinced that it is they who know better:

·       At the heart of the Left’s vision of the world — and of themselves — is that they know better what is good for other people. This means that the Left sees itself as having both a right and a duty to take away other people’s options.

Even after the people of California voted against this initiative, the Left reintroduced it under Proposition 58.

Sowell has experienced this “I know what’s better for you” attitude in many ways:

·       Many years ago, in a debate on William F. Buckley’s program Firing Line, I was told by a left-wing lawyer that black parents without a good education themselves could not make wise choices for their children’s education. But hard evidence says otherwise. There are whole chains of charter schools, such as the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools and the Success Academy schools, where ghetto kids have academic achievements equal to those of children in affluent suburbs — and sometimes higher achievements…Black parents who enroll their children in charter schools have apparently made better choices than the know-it-alls on the left.

Sowell claims that the “I know best” Left has also hurt in marginalized by denigrating law-enforcement:

·       When it comes to crime and violence, the political Left, including much of the media, are having a great time demonizing the police. Blacks are the biggest victims of the sharp upturn in murders that has followed. But, yet again, hard evidence carries very little weight when the Left is feeling good about themselves, while leaving havoc in their wake. The absurdity to which this kind of media frenzy about the police can lead is shown by the fact that a black policeman in Charlotte, North Carolina, shooting a black suspect who had a gun, has been blown up into a racial issue across the nation. Have we become so gullible that we are so easily manipulated and stampeded? http://www.nationalreview.com/article/441176/california-ballot-proposition-58-shows-left-taking-school-choices-away-parents

The West has honed manipulation into a fine art among by promoting the victimization theme. Instead of helping the marginalized, the Left has inflamed them, making it harder for the marginalized to stand together along with their neighbors.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

WERE THE FASCISTS LEFTISTS OR RIGHTISTS?


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Drawing from Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, economist Thomas Sowell asks “Who is a ‘Fascist’?” Using Benito Mussolini as his example, Sowell writes:

·       The Fascists were completely against individualism in general and especially against individualism in a free-market economy. Their agenda included minimum-wage laws, government restrictions on profit-making, progressive taxation of capital, and “rigidly secular” schools. Unlike the Communists, the Fascists did not seek government ownership of the means of production. They just wanted the government to call the shots as to how businesses would be run.

According to Sowell Fascists were Leftists in contrast to the right wing dictators, as Western intellectuals describe them:

·       Indeed, the whole Fascist economic agenda bears a remarkable resemblance to what liberals would later advocate. Moreover, during the 1920s “progressives” in the United States and Britain recognized the kinship of their ideas with those of Mussolini, who was widely lionized by the Left. Famed British novelist and prominent Fabian socialist H. G. Wells called for “Liberal Fascism,” saying “the world is sick of parliamentary politics.” Another literary giant and Fabian socialist, George Bernard Shaw, also expressed his admiration for Mussolini — as well as for Hitler and Stalin, because they “did things,” instead of just talk.

Ironically, the National Socialists (Nazis) were also deceptively termed “Fascists.”

·       In Germany, the Nazis followed in the wake of the Italian Fascists, adding racism in general and anti-Semitism in particular, neither of which was part of Fascism in Italy or in Franco’s Spain. Even the Nazi variant of Fascism found favor on the Left when it was only a movement seeking power in the 1920s.

In contrast, Sowell and Goldberg describe conservatism as embodying “limited government” and “traditional morality.” Sowell explains:

·       Fascism was not only looked on favorably by the Left but recognized as having kindred ideas, agendas, and assumptions. Only after Hitler and Mussolini disgraced themselves, mainly by their brutal military aggressions in the 1930s, did the Left distance itself from these international pariahs. Fascism, initially recognized as a kindred ideology of the Left, has since come down to us defined as being on “the Right” — indeed, as representing the farthest Right, supposedly further extensions of conservatism. If by conservatism you mean belief in free markets, limited government, and traditional morality, including religious influences, then these are all things that the Fascists opposed just as much as the Left does today. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/223648/who-fascist-thomas-sowell

When we understand Fascism as just another Left Wing manifestation, we need to take a complete look at the collective horrors of the Left and also reevaluate the much maligned conservatism, along with its fruitage.