Taking Stock at Three Years (3)

Visitors and Views

The blog’s views and visitor data has varied significantly from year to year as the following figure shows.  Since it excludes December 2017, comparison between this and previous years is not completely fair.  However, since December (along with January) is generally a low-traffic month, errors will be reasonably small.

TRS-Years-Data

Note that:

In the next post I will discuss the geographic distribution of this blog’s readership.

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Taking-Stock at Three Years (2)

CR_Plat_16The “Next-Sixteen” Posts

This “next-sixteen” post follows the “top-ten” post.  Note that I have included the “top-ten” in the following list due to numbering limitations in the WordPress editing application (i.e., you cannot start a list at an arbitrary number).

Recall that this list is based on those visits that used the address of a specific post (50% of total views) rather than general site access.  See the previous post for commentary on the “top-ten.”

  1. 8.4%   The PCUSA’s Continuous Decline
  2. 7.2%   HONORING CHRIST IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS
  3. 5.3%   Jesus Christ Avatar
  4. 4.1%   The Language of Suffering (LoS): Introduction
  5. 3.3%   The PCUSA and Israel (Part 4)
  6. 2.7%   LoS: Exposition – Genesis 1:1, 27-31
  7. 2.4%   The PCUSA and Israel (Part 2)
  8. 2.3%   “The Strange Persistence of Guilt
  9. 2.2%   Gnosticism Reimagined? (Part 6b)
  10. 2.0%   Confession of Belhar Questions Already Answered! (Part 1)
  11. 1.9%   LoS: SUFFERING IN GOD’S WORD
    • March 4, 2015
    • This post focused on the concept of human suffering as addressed throughout the Bible.  It also introduced the idea that the Bible’s teaching on suffering connects the words of Scripture to our own deepest experiences, thus illuminating “unexplored possibilities for the experience of suffering.”
  12. 1.9%   Postmodern Christianity: A Primer
    • December 3, 2014
    • This post introduced readers to the concept of “Postmodern Christianity.”  It drew from HONORING CHRIST IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS (see #2 most popular post above).  My goal was to provide a concise, accessible summary that would create context for the discussion in following posts.
  13. 1.9%   Taking Stock at the 100th Post
    • June 22, 2015
    • The 100th post seemed to be an appropriate milestone at which to review and discuss what I had learned in the previous 99.  This is a long post that attempts to summarize many issues/trends and then draw conclusions.  One key focus area is on the “PCUSA elite’s presumption of having a ‘prophetic voice’ by mimicking whatever is trending in radical secular Progressivism, with a thin veneer of faux Christian theologizing as their only contribution.”  Thus, this post is a precursor to the more recent series on Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics.
  14. 1.6%   LoS: Exposition – Genesis 2:1-17
    • March 10, 2015
    • This post is dominated by the Scripture passage covering God’s act of creation. My added commentary is brief.  Once again, I’m uncertain as to why it is so popular, but thankful that readers have found significant value.
  15. 1.6%   Presbytery of Chicago: Amending Marriage (1 of 2)
    • January 9, 2015
    • Here I take to task the appalling Rationale supporting same-gender marriage by the Presbytery of Chicago.  I stated my primary criticism in the first sentence: “My initial response to this Rationale was a mix of shock and disbelief. Here we had a document arguing for the fundamental redefinition of a millennia long institution of Judeo-Christian civilization that hadn’t even scratched the surface of the related Biblical and theological issues.”  In this and the following post I provide detailed support for this position.  My guess is that most of the views originated in the Chicagoland region.
  16. 1.6%   The PCUSA and Israel (Part 3)
    • May 6, 2015
    • This post sets up the informational context for the conclusion drawn in the fourth post on this topic (see the above #5 most popular post).  In particular, I showed that the 80%+ of General Assembly Commissioners supported the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)” movement.
  17. 1.5%   Confession of Belhar Questions Already Answered! (Part 2)
    • April 22, 2015
    • This post followed the #10 most popular Part 1 in this series.  Here I pointed out the direct and specific ways that officers of our Presbytery and Synod participated in the cruel assault on those who sought to uphold religious freedom.  My conclusion was: “I now have good reason to believe that the Confession of Belhar will be used to oppose the exercise of religious conscience within the context of same-gender marriage, at a bare minimum.”
  18. 1.5%   The PCUSA and Israel (Part 1)
    • May 2, 2015
    • Note that all four posts on the PCUSA and Israel made the top-twenty, with two in the top-ten.  This result suggests that there is intense interest in this topic.  My goal was to explain why the PCUSA’s anti-Israel policies border on wickedness.  The post concluded: “You thus might think that a Christian denomination would not do anything to undermine a nation under this threat.  For, to reduce the morale, economic vitality or defenses of such a nation is unavoidably to advance the goals of those who actively wish to exterminate it.”
  19. 1.2%   Comments on the 222nd General Assembly (2 of 3)
  20. 1.1%   Presbytery of the Cascades: Amending Marriage (1 of 2)
    • January 19, 2015
    • This post examined the Presbytery’s claim that “the teachings of Jesus call for radical inclusion of all people and that the actions of Jesus, passed down in Scripture, showed unconditional love and equality for all people.”   My position was that Jesus’ actions were “sometimes dominated by ‘unconditional love and equality for all people.’ At other times they were dominated by a fierce judgment and anger against the stubborn sinfulness of people or situations.”  I also pointed out that “baldly assert conclusions about Jesus and the Scriptures without the slightest supporting references or passages” are hallmarks of these Rationales.
  21. 1.0%   The Progressive Pyramid of “Moral Authority” (1)
    • January 2, 2017
    • This post introduced the concept of a “Progressive Pyramid of Moral Authority” within context of current events and Progressive actions.
  22. 1.0%   What’s Going On in the PCUSA (Part 4)
    • May 19, 2015
    • This post commented on debate in the Presbytery of Chicago on the Confession of Belhar.  My closing point was: “the PCUSA elite refuse to accept a negative outcome.  Rather than showing respect for the views of the majority, they have made it clear that there will be no peace until the denomination has submitted to their demands.  Once they have won, we are all supposed to respect the decision of a majority that has been created by driving out of those in opposition.  Should those of us in opposition who remain accede to this demand, or, should we continue to fight?”
  23. 0.8%   A Brief Excursion into PCUSA Heresy
    • May 16, 2016
    • I here discuss the presence of one Rev. John Shuck, a PCUSA pastor in good standing who is an aggressive atheist.
  24. 0.8%   A Continued Excursion into PCUSA Heresy
    • June 6, 2016
    • In this post I point out and discuss that the 222nd (2016) General Assembly was hosted by the Presbytery (Presbytery of the Cascades) that is home to the above discussed Rev. John Shuck, a PCUSA pastor in good standing who is an aggressive atheist.  My comment was: “Certainly the fact that they accepted an aggressive atheist as a pastor for one of their churches didn’t count against them.  It was probably a plus, given the PCUSA’s love of inclusiveness for heretics.”
  25. 0.8%   God’s Acts of Providence (56)
    • December 10, 2016
    • This post discussed “the hard road from revulsion to embrace” for the doctrine of predestination.
  26. 0.8%   LoS: Blessed are the Persecuted – Closing Thoughts
    • September 14, 2015
    • This is the concluding post on “Blessed are the Persecuted” section of the Language of Suffering.  “Christ is here announcing a radical reinterpretation of suffering – if it is experienced because of allegiance to Him. Rather than being endured, it should be received with rejoicing as a seal of authenticity upon our faith. Even more, suffering on earth for the sake of Christ builds up eternal treasure in heaven.”

Additional data and analysis of this blog’s three year milestone will follow.

 

Taking Stock at Three Years (1)

top 10The “Top-Ten” Posts

This blog started in November 2014, so it is now three years old.  At this milestone it is appropriate to take stock of what has occurred and been accomplished.  To date I have published 344 posts, with is an average of one per 3.2 days.

Visitors to this site went to the “homepage” 41.9% of the time.  It is thus difficult to determine their intent (e.g., general access or specific content intent).  In 8.1% of visits general information about the site (e.g., about the blog or me, document repository) was accessed.  For the remaining 50% of visits specific blog entries were accessed.  I used these 50% of visits to generate the following top-ten list since the visitors indicated specific interest in a particular blog entry (percentages are based on the total number of specific visits, not on the total number of visits).  Note that this list is preferential to older blogs because more time has occurred to accumulate visits.

  1. 8.4%   The PCUSA’s Continuous Decline
    • December 4, 2014
    • This post was the first of many that focused on the decline of the PC(USA) through data analysis and commentary.  It apparently struck a nerve, as it is the most popular post by a solid margin.  I updated this information using 2015 data here and 2016 data here.  The bottom line is that decline is continuing at a precipitous rate.
  2. 7.2%   HONORING CHRIST IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS
    • Date unknown because this is a “page” rather than a “post.”  However, the page was created very near the beginning of this blog’s existence (so, late 2014).
    • This piece was written prior to this blog’s beginning.  It is my first attempt to understand what I was experiencing as a Commissioner to the Presbytery of Chicago.  The analysis and conclusions have held up over time, though I did miss the true scope and depth of the moral and theological corruption at work.
  3. 5.3%   Jesus Christ Avatar
    • February 2, 2015
    • This is one of the “summing up” posts after having extensively analyzed the PC(USA) Rationale record on same-gender marriage.  The conclusion that Progressive Christians have”turned him [Jesus Christ] into an avatar whose purpose is to act as an embodiment of their philosophy” is crucial to understanding just how deep and terrible is the corruption at the heart of the PC(USA)’s actions.
  4. 4.1%   The Language of Suffering (LoS): Introduction
    • March 2, 2015
    • This is the introductory post for the “Language of Suffering” series.  I had completed this work in July of 2007, and decided to offer it in a series of posts.
  5. 3.3%   The PCUSA and Israel (Part 4)
    • May 7, 2015
    • This is the conclusion of a series on the PC(USA)’s participation in the assault on Israel.  What makes this post stand out is it exposes that the PC(USA)’s leadership is 80%+ anti-Israel as opposed to the carefully constructed deception that they are only barely (51%) anti-Israel.
  6. 2.7%   LoS: Exposition – Genesis 1:1, 27-31
    • March 6, 2015
    • The popularity of this post is a surprise to me.  While it is a perfectly good post, I can’t identify a particular reason that it is in the “top ten.”  However, I am thankful that it has provided value to so many readers.
  7. 2.4%   The PCUSA and Israel (Part 2)
    • May 4, 2015
    • This post covered the run-up to the General Assembly’s anti-israel vote, showing that they were specifically warned about the implications and consequences of this despicable act.  My conclusion stands that “This result is a moral catastrophe for the PCUSA.  It represents the victory of willful ignorance and inhumane ideology over the Christian virtues of prudence, temperance and justice.”  Note that two of the top-ten posts cover the issue of the PC(USA)’s policy toward Israel.
  8. 2.3%   “The Strange Persistence of Guilt
    • April 2, 2017
    • This relatively recent post clearly hit a nerve.  In it, I discuss a “profound meditation by Wilfred M. McClay on The Strange Persistence of Guilt.”  Dr. McClay has delved far more deeply than could have I on the causes of our current state of moral and theological corruption.  I attempted to add a few comments relating to the intersection of Dr. McClay’s ideas and those being explored in this blog.
  9. 2.2%   Gnosticism Reimagined? (Part 6b)
    • October 16, 2015
    • In this post I connected the thought of two influential PC(USA) pastors to the heresy of Gnosticism.  This series traced the reemergence of this heresy in the denomination.  These were by no means the most clear and direct examples.  However, they do show that Gnostic ideas are far more prevalent than might have been expected.
  10. 2.0%   Confession of Belhar Questions Already Answered! (Part 1)
    • April 20, 2015
    • This post connects the Confession of Belhar (now a part of the Book of Confessions) with the radical assault on traditional Christian values.  The specific incident is the PC(USA)’s encouragement of and participation in the Progressive mob action associated with opposition to the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The following post will disclose the “next sixteen” most popular posts.

 

 

Occasional Confirmations (2)

green

Political Islam Replacing Gays at the Progressive Pyramid’s Topcurrent-top2

In a February 21, 2017 post on The Progressive Pyramid of “Moral Authority,” I stated that:

There can be legitimate debate on when Political Islam was raised to the Progressive pyramid’s top position.  However, in 2016 the reality of this elevation became crystal clear.

After having given the issue great thought and carefully considered the evidence, this conclusion did appear to be “crystal clear” to me.  However, I had some apprehension as to if my readers would agree that the evidentiary bar had indeed been exceeded. After all, as I admitted:

In fact, even the holders of the 2000+ pyramid’s peak were gobsmacked when events revealed that this demotion/promotion had certainly occurred.

Thus, if actual members in top standing of the Progressive Pyramid had not seen this event coming, then there was enough ambiguity to make an objective observer wonder.

2010-11-22-iran_gayexecutionI no longer have these doubts.  For, a bisexual man (and thus a man who identifies as gay), has come into direct conflict with Political Islam’s murderous treatment of homosexuals, and was put in his place by a Progressive “Pyramid positioning officer“.

A bisexual male student at the University of Texas–San Antonio said during an informal conversation outside class that he was uncomfortable with Islam because people still receive the death penalty for being gay in 10 Muslim-majority countries.

For expressing this thought, the student—Alfred MacDonald, who no longer attends the school—was instructed to meet with the chair of the philosophy department, Eve Browning. Prof. Browning told MacDonald in no uncertain terms that he had committed the crime of “offending” someone, and she warned him that his habit of saying what he thinks could bring down the entire program. She threatened to call the Behavior Intervention Team and refer MacDonald to counseling. She did everything but send him to Room 101.

Unfortunately for Browning, MacDonald secretly recorded their conversation. The transcript, first publicized by Gay Star News, is incredible.

Note that it is not some conservative organization that has reported on this incident, but rather the Gay Star News.  I also pointed out this appalling situation early in the series of posts leading up to my conclusion regarding Political Islam’s top pyramid position.

Professor Browning, as a Progressive elite in good standing, made it absolutely clear to this bisexual student that he had no right to state a fact that might offend adherents of the Muslim faith.  Although there is a complicating factor concerning the context for the student’s statement, there is no doubt about the outcome.  Here’s a key point in the transcript:

ALFRED MACDONALD: Nothing. I wasn’t talking about the engagement to the Muslim. I was talking about Islam in that particular moment.

EVE BROWNING: Well, let me just say that kind of thing is not going to be tolerated in our department. We’re not going to tolerate graduate students trying to make other graduate students feel terrible for our emotional attachments.

The issue isn’t the truth of falsehood that Political Islam commits practicing homosexuals to death in at least ten countries, but rather the impact of stating that fact on the feelings of a Muslim person.  In fact, as the conversation continues, it becomes clear that the student will submit to this Progressive idol without question or need to understand (emphasis added).

EVE BROWNING: Those are things that would get you fired if you were working in my office. The Islam comment would get you fired.

ALFRED MACDONALD: …Would it really get me fired to say that I could be killed somewhere?

EVE BROWNING: In that situation as you’ve described it, absolutely yes.

ALFRED MACDONALD: How?

EVE BROWNING: Don’t even ask. It’s clear you’re not taking my word for it. I don’t care to convince you. If I can’t persuade you that it’s in your interest to behave in ways that other people don’t find offensive and objectionable, then at least I’ve done my job.

ALFRED MACDONALD: Well I know that it’s in my interest. I’m just trying to understand the reasoning.

EVE BROWNING: You don’t have to.

ALFRED MACDONALD: Well, this is a truth-seeking discipline!

greenNote that this transcript also confirms (that’s two!) my belief that Progressives’ primary strategy for getting their way is by intimidation as opposed to persuasion.  Thus, this incident is now a “dual-confirmation” event.

greenNo, Mr. MacDonald, you are terribly mistaken to believe that Professor Browning is part of a “truth-seeking discipline.”  She is a member in good standing of the Progressive hyena pack, a heartless enforcer (wow, that’s three confirmations!) of whatever is currently the Progressive party-line.  However, I salute your foresight in recording this discussion and your courage by daring to share it in spite of the certain Progressive mob blowback.  Perhaps you will eventually draw conclusions as to who actually supports humane policies and who only pretends to in order to achieve their true ends.

And finally, I’d like to acknowledge Professor Browning’s incredible achievement of confirming not one, not two, but three of my conclusions regarding Progressive ideology and practice in a single amazing incident.  It’s hard to imagine someone ever managing four such significant confirmations.  Your achievement casts an impressively dark shadow over human decency and wisdom.

Happy Thanksgiving

christian-thanksgivingGive Thanks to the Lord!

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
     Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

 Know that the Lord is God!
    It is he that made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him, bless his name!

 For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures for ever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100 (RSV)

Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics (9)

moral-hazard-ethicsThe Moral Hazard of Intentions Based Policy

Some readers may have been wondering how a series of posts titled “Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics” could have focused almost exclusively on general Progressives for so long.  The answer is that Mainline Christian politics (from the leadership and organizational perspective) is often virtually indistinguishable from secular Progressive politics.  The only difference is that a sentence here or there in Mainline political statements might mention Jesus or the Bible or something else vaguely religious in origin.

For the last four posts I have been indirectly describing the “moral hazard” associated with the intentions based policy philosophy used (though certainly not exclusively) by Progressives (Christian or otherwise).  A useful definition for this term is:

Moral hazard is a situation where somebody has the opportunity to take advantage of somebody else by taking risks that the other will pay for. The idea is that people might ignore the moral implications of their choices: instead of doing what is right, they do what benefits them the most.

end-poverty-now

Intention: Demonstrate superior virtue.  Result: Assume unbearable moral hazard.

It’s now time to directly call out the key dimensions of moral hazard into which Progressivism has fallen headfirst.

Votes and Political Power

In the recent presidential election candidate Donald Trump asked black voters: “What do you have to lose by trying something new?”  Candidate  Hillary Clinton wasted no time in answering that question: “What do black people stand to lose under Trump? Everything!”  Her response adds additional evidence to the conclusion that Progressives literally believe that Republican’s “bad intentions” will inexorably lead to “bad results.”

However, this incident also illuminates a massive moral hazard for Democrats.  For, given that they depend on 90%+ of black votes for continuance of their political power, isn’t it far more certain that the Democrat Party would lose “everything” were the black community to lessen their level of support?

So, given that current welfare, education and crime policies (among others) have created this massive block voting by the black community, the downside to any reforms that might lead to improvements in their lot could be political death.  Given the stakes, is it really credible that Democratic politicians, bureaucrats and supporters are so morally superior that they are immune to such a temptation?  I say absolutely not.

Codependent Relationships

If your self-image is that of a Progressive “hero” who delivers the best possible results to the designated “beneficiaries” because of your “good” intentions, then it could become acceptable for those beneficiaries to remain in need.  If you have been a “beneficiary” and become dependent, then you also could come to desire that the Progressive “heroes” remain in power.  This codependence can tempt both sides into supporting a failing status quo.

Hate-Based Self Esteem

If your self-image is that of a morally superior “hero,” then besides the need for “beneficiaries” there is the need for “villains.”  However, beyond providing “proof” of your own moral superiority, “villains” also can become objects of hate.  That’s because the “heroes” can begin to believe that “villains” exist not because they make honest errors or hold mistaken beliefs, but because they harbor “bad intentions.”  So, the Progressive moral model demands that the world be split into “heroes,” “villains” and “beneficiaries.”  Thus, our shared humanity can be denied, creating a world with greater strife and violence.  And so, Progressives obtain their fraudulent fantasies of moral superiority at the expense of other human beings and create a debased culture in the process.

Works-Based Salvation

If you are a Christian who erroneously seeks a works-based mark of salvation, you might well be drawn to the easy moral superiority promised by adherence to Progressive politics.  “Evidence” for a works-based salvation can be most easily found by comparing oneself to others.  Is there currently a more potent, visible ideology that allows the manufacture of accredited “heroes” and “villains” than Progressivism?  And, if you are a Mainline Progressive Christian leader, might the temptation to encourage such false belief in order to advance your preferred political policies be strong?

There is another dimension to this theological error, that being the narrowing of Christian virtue and vocation to only those acts directly associated with Progressive sources.  Thus, for example, were a person in their private-sector job to enable creation of many well-paying jobs (through honest, hard work) throughout the world, it may not count as “good works” in the Progressive Christian worldview.  That’s because, by their blinkered definition, these works were not motivated by approved “good intentions.”

Therefore, those of us who define our Christian vocation as encompassing all of our lives are yet regularly harangued by believers who only allow their pet Progressive Christian projects to be included in “good works.”  They literally don’t appear to care that we are generating good results outside of their narrowly defined domain.

Of course, I am not here thinking of good works as having anything to do with our salvation in Christ.  Rather they are thank-offerings for that undeserved grace by which we have been saved through Christ Jesus.

Finally, trusting souls are told that slavish adherence to secular Progressive positions makes them into “super Christians.”  That is, because of their superior Progressive-derived “good intentions” they hold a special place of authority in the church.  From that fraudulent perch they decide what works are actually Christian.  They also sometimes imagine that they are free to misinterpret the Bible as necessary to bring its teachings into line with the positions determined by the secular Progressive elite.



This analysis may explain why Progressives have such a powerful compulsion to claim moral superiority.  For, by virtue of the scope and aggressiveness of their ideology they unavoidably place themselves in positions of great moral hazard.  Only by presuming that they have moral purity and perfection far beyond that of normal humanity can they convince themselves that their power will not result in bad, even evil results.  Of course, this presumption is built from pure fantasy, as they are made of the same fallen moral material as is everyone else.  However, the fact that they so convince themselves of falsehood makes them far more dangerous when in power, and far more fragile and unstable when they are on the outs.



 

Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics (8)

Amy-Wax-and-Larry-Alexander-e1503967429284-620x435

Amy Wax and Larry Alexander

Intentions vs. Results 2017 Case Study: Professors Amy Wax and Larry Alexander

The Sin

In August of this year two tenured professors, each holding an endowed chair, published an article titled “Paying the price for the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture” in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  They are Amy Wax from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Larry Alexander from the University of San Diego Law School.

These two authors described the social norms and personal behaviors that were generally supported prior to the 1960s and that continue to enable productive, fulfilled lives to this day, those being:

Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

While they might have gotten away with praise of these once obvious virtues, they committed unpardonable sin against the Progressive idol by recommending that these virtues be uplifted once again in today’s culture.  They didn’t mince words.

… restore the hegemony of the bourgeois culture. …  will require the arbiters of culture — the academics, media, and Hollywood — to relinquish multicultural grievance polemics and the preening pretense of defending the downtrodden. Instead of bashing the bourgeois culture, they should return to the 1950s posture of celebrating it.

The Progressive Response

The Progressive response was eerily more like the Cultural Revolution in 1966 China than the operating of academic freedom in a liberal democratic republic, with these brave authors being denounced as racist (and worse!).  Here’s a quote from a statement by 54 Penn graduate students and alums.  By the way, if you still have any doubts about the intention-based model’s assumed simple-mindedness in this earlier post, I now rest may case.

We call for the University of Pennsylvania administration — Penn President Gutmann and the deans of each school — as well as faculty to directly confront Wax and Alexander’s op-ed as racist and white supremacist discourse and to push for an investigation into Wax’s advocacy for white supremacy. We believe that such statements should point directly to the historical and sociopolitical antecedents of Wax’s hate speech, and to disallow hate speech whether shrouded in respectability or not.

Refusal to Bend the Knee

For their part, neither author backed down.  Amy Wax’s response was both lucid and unflinching.

What the objections boil down to is that the bourgeois virtues are somehow racist, or somehow cause racism—contentions that I and my co-author expressly contest, of course … But if, indeed, bourgeois values are so racist, the progressive critics should be out there in the street demonstrating against them, stripping them from their own lives, and forbidding their children to practice them. They should be chanting, ‘No more work, more crime, more out of wedlock babies, forget thrift, let’s get high!’ … Of course, there’s little chance we’re going to see anything like that, which shows the hollowness, indeed the silliness, of the critiques.”

Larry Alexander’s response was no less powerful and persuasive.

The charges of racism, white supremacy, etc. are, sadly, the predictable responses of those who can’t refute the claims we made … And those charges are laughable, given that I was a civil rights marcher and have a multi-racial family. But, of course, when you don’t have the facts on your side, you resort to calling names. Pathetic!

Perhaps this wisdom backed by courage and conviction will be a turning point where the vicious Progressive campus mob is finally repulsed and discredited.  I certainly hope so, but regardless there are significant lessons here for our discussion of intentions vs. results.

The Implications

Professors Alexander and Wax have transgressed against Progressive theology by daring to point out that intentions the Progressives have defined to be “bad” can lead to good results.  That is, their position violates “facts” 4, 5 and 9 that underpin the intentions based philosophy.

For, to assign higher value to norms that are derived from pre-1960s America is seen by Progressives as an act of racist judgmentalism.  It also violates the “good intentions” associated with multiculturalism, “kindness” and “open-mindedness.”

So, were their argument allowed to stand, the simple-minded Progressive model of only “good intentions” creating “good results” would be disastrously undermined.  Clearly, norms that honor marriage, fidelity, family, work and honesty would be enforced by discouraging the opposites of these virtues.  But, this would be “bad” by Progressive ideology, so to the barricades comrades!

Professor Wax’s response, in which she throws the hypocrisy of the upper middle class Progressives back in their faces is particularly powerful.  For, as is demonstrated by a recent article in the Federalist titled “The Research Proves The No. 1 Social Justice Imperative Is Marriage,” the primary differentiating factor between well off and less well off social groups is an intact, committed family structure.  Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 6.19.28 AMThe key figure from this source is shown here.  Note that for the Poor a baby arrived prior to marriage at almost five-times the percentage of the Middle / Upper Class.  Also,  the Middle / Upper Class is currently married at more than twice the percentage of the Poor.  Thus, it is very likely that the Middle / Upper Class critics of Professors Wax and Alexander are living their own lives in accordance with bourgeois culture while recommending that the Working Class and Poor not do the same.

Were we to start playing by the Progressive Left’s rules, and, assume the worst about their motives (as opposed to commenting on their public actions and statements) we might say: “That’s certainly a way to limit the pool of competitors for Middle / Upper Class jobs!”  I doubt they would like this treatment even though it’s far gentler than what they are saying.  What they fail to realize is that by virtue of their policy preferences and behavior, they have assumed a level of moral hazard that makes them highly vulnerable to legitimate, powerful criticism.  I’ll have quite a bit more to say about this in the next post.



rsz_conservative_solutions_to_poverty_infographic_teaser

Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics (7)

Moynihan

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Intentions vs. Results 1965 Case Study: The Moynihan Report

The chasm between intention-motivated vs. results-motivated anti-poverty policies was revealed over 50 years ago.  The instigating event was a 1965 report titled The Negro Family: The Case For National Action, which has become  known as the Moynihan Report.  The author was Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a sociologist serving as Assistant Secretary of Labor under President Lyndon B. Johnson.

This seminal but controversial report was revisited in a 2005 City Journal article titled “The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies.” The tag-line is “Rejecting the Moynihan report caused untold, needless misery.”  A key excerpt follows (emphasis added).

Read through the megazillion words on class, income mobility, and poverty in the recent New York Times series “Class Matters” and you still won’t grasp two of the most basic truths on the subject: 1. entrenched, multigenerational poverty is largely black; and 2. it is intricately intertwined with the collapse of the nuclear family in the inner city.
By now, these facts shouldn’t be hard to grasp. Almost 70 percent of black children are born to single mothers. Those mothers are far more likely than married mothers to be poor, even after a post-welfare-reform decline in child poverty. They are also more likely to pass that poverty on to their children. Sophisticates often try to dodge the implications of this bleak reality by shrugging that single motherhood is an inescapable fact of modern life, affecting everyone from the bobo Murphy Browns to the ghetto “baby mamas.” Not so; it is a largely low-income—and disproportionately black—phenomenon. The vast majority of higher-income women wait to have their children until they are married. The truth is that we are now a two-family nation, separate and unequal—one thriving and intact, and the other struggling, broken, and far too often African-American.
So why does the Times, like so many who rail against inequality, fall silent on the relation between poverty and single-parent families? To answer that question—and to continue the confrontation with facts that Americans still prefer not to mention in polite company—you have to go back exactly 40 years. That was when a resounding cry of outrage echoed throughout Washington and the civil rights movement in reaction to Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s Department of Labor report warning that the ghetto family was in disarray. Entitled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” the prophetic report prompted civil rights leaders, academics, politicians, and pundits to make a momentous—and, as time has shown, tragically wrong—decision about how to frame the national discussion about poverty.

That “resounding cry of outrage” occurred because Mr. Moynihan dared to challenge the then Progressive party line that it was only “the system” that stood between the black community and full equality in American society.  Let’s return to the City Journal article for a clear explanation.

For white liberals and the black establishment, poverty became a zero-sum game: either you believed, as they did, that there was a defect in the system, or you believed that there was a defect in the individual. It was as if critiquing the family meant that you supported inferior schools, even that you were a racist. Though “The Negro Family” had been a masterpiece of complex analysis that implied that individuals were intricately entwined in a variety of systems—familial, cultural, and economic—it gave birth to a hardened, either/or politics from which the country has barely recovered.

Note that, in 1965, the Progressive party line focused on “the system” as opposed to the current “good intentions.”  However, the utility of these two ideas is similar, that being something over which Progressives imagined they have direct control, and, that can be changed by government power to gain the desired results.  Note also that already the epithet “racist” is being applied to anyone who deviates from the Progressive party line on how best to improve the lot of the minority community.

However, correspondence between the report’s alternate viewpoint and the previous post’s description of the results based philosophy is striking.  For, Moynihan’s perspective of “complex analysis that implied that individuals were intricately entwined in a variety of systems—familial, cultural, and economic” correlates exceeding well with the reality model description of “a large number of inputs with highly variable controllability.”  Also note that culture, family and economy, along with others in a variety of inputs, correlates well with the above description of Moynihan’s philosophy.

Thus, at the very beginning of the “war on poverty,” the Progressive powers that be explicitly rejected the results based philosophy of public policy in favor of one that simplistically and erroneously allowed them to pretend hero-ship for themselves.  This self-serving decision has indeed “caused untold, needless misery.”  However, we shouldn’t expect an acknowledgement of this cruel failure by the intention based Progressive community.

 

Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics (6)

Defining the Contending Philosophies

In the previous post I introduced the idea of intentions vs. results based philosophies with regard to public policy.  However, in order to make real progress, a far more detailed description of each is required.  The following sections are intended to meet this requirement.

Intentions-Based Philosophy

Given that I’m obviously not a member of this group (e.g., Progressives) , the challenge is to identify a model that adequately covers the known facts.  I do have the advantage of significant Progressive engagement due to my life experiences.  Following is my enumeration of these known facts (priority order is not indicated by the numbering).

  1. The having of “good intentions” is absolutely determinative to the obtaining of “good results.”
  2. An increase in the application of “good intentions” will create a corresponding increase in “good results.”
  3. “Good intentions” must translate into “good actions,” for example:
    • Non-judgment means that there will be no criticism of behavior or attitudes by the intended recipients of public policy
    • Generosity means that there is no limit to the amount of money that will be poured into given social programs, regardless of their results
    • Open-mindedness means that all ideas that are supportive of a leftward policy trajectory are valid, while any idea that questions a leftward policy trajectory can only be motivated by “bad intentions.”
  4. There are no “good intentions” other than those defined and approved by the Progressive political movement, and, they can be changed at any time, for any reason.
  5. The having of “bad intentions” (as defined by the Progressive movement, see above) guarantees the outcome of “bad results.”
  6. There is no such thing as tradeoffs between competing goods.
  7. Any other factors beyond “good intentions” and their associated “good actions” are at best of secondary importance to the obtaining of “good results.”
  8. There are no such things as unintended consequences, good or bad.  That is, all societal consequences are determined by intentional acts.
  9. There is no such thing as “good intentions” leading to “bad results” or vice versa.
  10. The application of government power is by far the most effective means by which to implement policies that are motivated by “good intentions” and thus must lead to “good results.”

Given these facts (obviously they will be disputed by some), I have generated the following model.

Intentions-BasedI won’t belabor the correspondence between the facts and resulting model, which should be obvious to most readers.  However, a few additional comments are in order.

Firstly, note the direct relationship between intentions (with associated actions) and results.  This feature is significant because it explains what, to me at least, has been a mysterious aspect of Progressive behavior.  That being, no matter how catastrophic the failure of their policies, they respond with absolute certitude that the results are the best possible.  Conversely, when confronted with non-Progressive alternatives they respond with the same certitude that these would make the situation worse.

This response makes sense if their model is that only their intentions are “good” and that this leads directly to results that are the best possible.  And, since the alternatives come from people with “bad” intentions, then they can only lead to “bad” results.

Secondly, note that the “good” results for this model are only made possible by the Progressive’s intentions and actions.  Thus, they are the heroes and the recipients are the beneficiaries.

This feature helps me understand their visceral hated of capitalism and love of socialism.  For, in a capitalist system people with “bad” intentions apparently create “good” results.  This possibility is anathema to Progressives.  However, with socialism, only those with “good” intentions (in their utopian fantasy) are allowed to create “good” results (in the same utopian fantasy).  This narcissistic need to be the clearly identified heroes who deliver peace and plenty to the beneficiaries explains how they can continue to demand socialism no matter how many flesh and blood humans die and suffer under its pathetic failures.

Finally, note that, because the government is believed to be the most effective transformer of intentions into results, Progressives live in an absolute need to control the government and use it to deliver their “good” results.

I’m sure that some will criticize this model because it makes Progressives appear to be simple-minded.  My initial response is, have you recently attempted to engage in substantive debate with a Progressive?  Yes, I’m certain that buried within the Progressive movement there are those with a far more sophisticated mental model.  However, they are likely maintaining a very low profile give the current climate.

Results-Based Philosophy

People who focus on results as opposed to intentions tend to develop a radically different view of how the world works.  For, virtually anyone who has had the responsibility to deliver defined results finds themselves is a humbling situation.  That is, although they are held accountable for the defined results, they find that there are a myriad of inputs that are outside of their control but that have powerful impact on the results.  This experience creates two important facts:

  1. The scope and depth of pursued results are carefully limited to those that could credibly be obtained in the world as it actually exists
  2. Efforts to achieve these results incorporate mechanisms intended to address the uncertainties created by the larger set of input variables, many of which are outside of direct control.  Some of these include:
    • Alternatives should the original plan falter (e.g., “Plan B”)
    • Feedback mechanisms that allow information created during the plan’s execution to be captured, analyzed and used to modify the original plan
    • Risk assessment for the plan, in which those uncontrolled input factors are identified and assessed with respect to the plan’s likelihood of success.

Given these considerations, I have generated the following model.

Results-Based-Model
This model differs from the previous in two critical respects.  First, it presumes a large number of inputs with highly variable controllability (from virtually zero to relatively high).  Second, it doesn’t claim to define how these inputs are combined to create the result.  In this it follows the concept of “dispersed knowledge” in economic theory, that being:

the notion that no single agent has information as to all of the factors which influence prices and production throughout the system.

The modification of this definition for purpose of this model might be: “the notion that no single agent has information as to all of the factors which influence the results of a given policy being applied throughout the system.”

It’s not that adherents to this model consider themselves to be incapable of generating results.  Rather, they are far more respectful of the complexity / uncertainty associated with their pursuit and mindful of limitations in the choice of goals.  This fact generally creates an evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary mindset regarding the nature of societal change.  It also creates a conservative bias, that seeks to limit the speed of change so as to allow for information feedback and mid-course correction.

Finally, a fundamental difference is that there are no certain “heroes” in this model.  Yes, people and organizations can create more and less influence on the results, but there is no way to directly trace “good” results back to anyone’s “good” intentions.  But, that’s fine for this model’s adherents if the results are actually good.

Mainline Christianity and Progressive Politics (5)

good-intentionsThe Question of Good Inventions vs. Good Results

Background

What is the proper relationship between intentions and results from the perspective of political policy choices?  I touched on this issue in a previous post, in which the strange behavior of Progressives in response to our failed Welfare State was discussed.

This discussion hasn’t yet included the human and social wreckage wrought by the Welfare State, where entire communities descended into generations of broken families, hopelessness, violence, addiction, and yes, poverty.

One would have thought that our moral betters would have been so appalled by this situation that a massive effort at reformation and renewal would have been pursued.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Rather, the poverty industrial complex has been on a unending campaign to prevent any reform and to expand failed policies to new areas of our society.

If there is doubt about this conclusion, I simply ask when was the last time that Progressives, Christians or otherwise, admitted failure for the current welfare policies and then proposed fundamental reforms?  Yes, they have proposed doubling and tripling down on those same failed policies, but doing more of the same certainly is not fundamental reform.  Moreover, when anyone dares to question the effectiveness of current welfare policies, let alone propose actual reform, they are shouted down as racist, selfish, uncaring and unChristian.

The Chicago Experience

I have lived for the past 34 years in the Chicago suburbs.  Over that time the City of Chicago has been governed exclusively by the Democrat Party, which is home for the Progressive political movement.  As a member of the PC(USA) I have seen how Progressive politics dominates the Presbytery of Chicago and a significant part of the local churches.  And, over that significant time period, I have consistently witnessed the obstructionist Progressive party-line that demands continuance of failed policies.

The results have been catastrophic for the city’s poor.

Murder

Here’s how John Kass has described the city’s murder situation in the Chicago Tribune.

How bad is the bloody violence in Chicago, where more than 700 people have been murdered so far this year and thousands have been shot in the street gang wars?

The gangs keep shooting, the survivors mourn, police morale is down, anti-police sentiment is up and the mayor says some cops have gone fetal.

And the politicians do nothing in the bloody city. Street gang violence in Chicago is as bad, if not worse, than the record-setting death years of the 1990s.

But there is no penalty for Democratic politicians who sit back in the Democratic city and do nothing to compel tougher sentences for gun crimes to keep the most aggressive shooters off the streets.

Some say this a gun issue. But that’s a con job. There are many guns in the suburbs, yet suburbanites aren’t slaughtering each other.

This is a street-gangs-with-guns problem, on the South and West sides of Chicago. And calling it anything else is a distraction to give cover to the politicians.

If there is a downside, it is only for the dead and the maimed and their families.

And there is a downside for police, too. Because if something goes wrong, the cop is the headline.

Yet what of the politicians who do nothing? They really have nothing to lose. And they’re doing just fine.

Another reason for Chicago’s tragic murder situation is utter failure by the authorities to solve these crimes in the first place.  Don’t look away, Chicago Progressive do-gooders, the city that has been under your control for generations has a murder case clearance rate of less than one-third the national average.  Yet, I hear virtually nothing from our Progressive betters about this appalling failure of Chicago’s governing authorities.

Chicago-Clearance-Rates-FINAL

But, as terrible as Chicago is from a total number of murders perspective, it is far from the worst in terms of murder rate.  The following figure shows the worst 2010-2015 murder rate (i.e., murders per capita) numbers for cities with populations greater than 250,000.

murder-rate-cities

And, who has been governing these cities for generations, well, Progressive Democrats!  To begin, note that the City of New Orleans has been governed by Democrats since 1872.  The following image from National Review allows us to see that the other four of the top five murder rate cities have also been continuously run by Progressive Democrats for generations.

NR-Urban-Dem-Dominance

When I hear Progressives address this issue at all, it’s at least 90% about gun control.  Apparently they believe that in minority communities inanimate objects called guns hold a magical power over the inhabitants, causing them to commit murder.  The fact (as explained by John Kass above) that guns lack this magical power in suburban and rural communities gives them not the slightest pause.  For people who tend to shout “racist!” at the slightest deviation from their party line, this looks like a pretty shaky glass house.

Education

Over this same time period Chicago’s public school system has performed disgracefully.  With regard to educational performance, the Illinois Opportunity Project states that:

… of CPS high school students who graduate in four years, less than 20 percent of them will be considered “college ready.”

With regard to financial responsibility the story is just as horrible, as documented by The American Interest.

Chicago’s public school system is on the verge of facing financial insolvency, and it’s not because selfish taxpayers have been starving it of revenue—both the Windy City and the state of Illinois have significantly higher than average tax rates. Much of the school district’s acute fiscal distress can be chalked up to mismanagement, plain and simple—short-sighted decisions by blinkered public officials who chose to mortgage the school system’s future against pension benefits for current retirees. Crain’s Chicago Business reports that CPS is finally drowning under the weight of interest on debt it has accumulated over the last decade …

Once again, Chicago’s utter failure to educate its children is only one specific case of a general situation, as is shown by the following figure.  As reported by the federal government, only 33 percent of public-school eighth graders scored proficient or better in reading in 2015 and only 32 percent scored proficient or better in mathematics.

urban-public-ed-failure-reading-chart

Does this abject failure of public education in our cities, which primarily affects the poor, bother our Progressive betters?  It’s hard to conclude yes after decades of watching them support the status quo with a ferocity that leaves no doubt as to their purpose.

What Really Matters?

These catastrophic failures, despite the incessant insistence on their benevolence by Progressives, Christian or otherwise, forces us to wonder about the relationship between intentions and results.  That is, if someone does things or supports policies because of “good intentions,” is that sufficient in and of itself as an act of charity?  Or, does their moral responsibility extend to the realm of demonstrable results?  These two philosophies lead to very different attitudes towards how best to help the poor, with corresponding differences in practical policies.