The Problem of Righteousness (1)

Righteousness

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Psalm 11:3

Introduction

One key driver of the contemporary crisis in the United States is the problem of righteousness.  Righteousness is a core driver because, having cast off much that Christianity has taught, we now are consumed with the monumental task of rebuilding this concept from the foundations up.  And, the tools by which this rebuilding project is being conducted are the least capable implements that one  could imagine — those being the mob-inducing, narcissist-encouraging, mind-numbing, spirit-destroying Social Network Platforms.

This thought crystallized across exposure to numerous sources.  Initially I was struck by this paragraph in an article from The Federalist (emphasis added):

When I look at this generation, I see young people fiercely, desperately trying to be good. A righteous fervor is sweeping America, shaming and punishing all who do evil. Yet the standards for “good” and “evil” seem unfamiliar and arbitrary. This is a strong indicator that the post-Christian agnosticism is over, and a new religion—one I’ll call progressivism—is rising from the ashes.

So yes, I can easily agree that our “young people” are “desperately trying” to be righteous.  But the reason that they are starting from scratch is because their elders (i.e., parents, teachers, pastors, coaches, politicians, bosses, etc.) have somehow failed to pass on the Christian-derived civilizational wisdom that should be their inheritance.  I must include myself within this failure as all three of my beloved children are currently not looking to Christianity for the answers to their most fundamental questions.

Screen Shot 2019-04-07 at 2.26.22 PMA second source brought into sharp focus the nature of that Christian-derived civilizational wisdom along with the most influential challenging ideology to it.  The source is Jordan Peterson’s preface to the The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (emphasis added).

And it is exactly the necessity for interminable sacrifice that constitutes the terrible counterpart of the utopian vision. “Heaven is worth any price”—but who pays? Christianity solved that problem by insisting on the sacrifice of the self; insisting that the suffering and malevolence of the world is the responsibility of each individual; insisting that each of us sacrifice what is unworthy and unnecessary and resentful and deadly in our characters (despite the pain of such sacrifice) so that we could stumble properly uphill under our respective and voluntarily-shouldered existential burdens. But it was and is the opinion of the materialist utopians that someone else be sacrificed, so that Heaven itself might be attained; some perpetrator, or victimizer, or oppressor, or member of a privileged group. A cynic might be forgiven, in consequence, for asking: “Is it the City of God that is in fact the aim? Or is the true aim the desire to make a burning sacrificial pyre of everyone and everything, and the hypothesis of the coming brotherhood of man merely the cover story, the camouflage?”

The implication of this dichotomy between our Christian heritage and the newly resurrected materialist utopians is profound.  For, whereas in a Christian society members are encouraged to look into themselves to find the source of evil and suffering; the people seeking a materialist utopia try to divide the world into the evil oppressors and the spotless victims.  But, as Mr. Peterson goes on to explain, there is no way to draw such a line in a just and stable manner.

Thus the doctrine of group identity inevitably ends with everyone identified as a class enemy, an oppressor; with everyone uncleansibly contaminated by bourgeois privilege, unfairly enjoying the benefits bequeathed by the vagaries of history; with everyone prosecuted, without respite, for that corruption and injustice. “No mercy for the oppressor!” And no punishment too severe for the crime of exploitation! Expiation becomes impossible because there is no individual guilt, no individual responsibility, and therefore no manner in which the crime of arbitrary birth can be individually accounted for. And all the misery that can be generated as a consequence of such an accusation is the true reason for the accusation.

Finally, just why is it that the attempt to create a human-made righteousness that excludes God has proved to be not just difficult, but rather a genocidal failure?  Here I found the following statement by David P. Goldman in his review of Chumash Mesoras Harav – Complete Chumash with Commentary Based on the Teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (Claremont Review of Books, Vol. XIX, No. 1) to be of great help (emphasis added).

Man has free will, but never knows to what extent his will is free. The penitent cannot know the full extent of his guilt. He cannot escape “the unknown and irrational” because his powers are limited. He is declared not guilty when he accepts that ultimate knowledge and power reside in God. God not only summons man to partnership, he consoles him in his lowliness.

Yes, we cannot ever escape the unknown and irrational nature of our existence by our own human resources.  For we are ultimately a mystery even to ourselves, let alone to others.  We can never fully understand and therefore prove our own righteousness.  We can only go on erasing and drawing lines that attempt to define who is righteous and who is not.  But the lines always eventually fail to accurately and definitively separate the righteous from the unrighteous.

girl-blaming-guyAnd so a war of all against all ensues.  For to be declared unrighteous is to suffer humiliation, social isolation and physical want.  To be found within the bounds of the righteous means automatic moral superiority, social preeminence and wealth.  But those who seem safely inside the bounds of righteousness today can be thrown out into utter darkness tomorrow.  Thus is explained the paranoia and destabilization that we see throughout our society.

What is happening now are the skirmishes that precede the total war that always accompanies a utopian totalitarian project.  We need not go to war.  But to avoid such a conflagration those of us who know better need to take a stand.

 

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The Silence of the Lambs (5)

sri-lanka-terror

The ghastly aftermath of a radical Islamic suicide bomb attack against Christians worshiping at an Easter service in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan Christian Massacre

The Easter mass massacre of Christians at their houses of worship by Islamic terrorists in Sri Lanka is a barbarous atrocity.  The Federalist published an article that well summarizes this savage attack and places it in worldwide perspective (emphasis added).

… the coordinated bomb blasts aimed at Christian worshippers on Easter Sunday, which killed at least 290 people and injured hundreds more, demonstrates the kind of meticulous planning, funding, resources, and support that is still exclusively the domain of radical Islamic terrorism. It’s not merely that the act was planned to maximize the death toll, but that it is a continuation of long-standing efforts by Islamists to destroy the Christian communities left in Asia.

Those who kill in the name of Islam are part of a worldwide, historic, ideological, and political movement that includes, to various degrees and various reasons, radicalized men and women from both great factions of the faith. Then again, terrorist groups—as well as their recruitment and propaganda outfits—are often functioning in Islamic regimes, which either actively sustain terror, tolerate these groups, or pay them off to engage in terrorism elsewhere.

I predict that even in the face of this enormity the Western Church will at most make a few vague statements of sorrow and then move on.  The sad fact is that many Christians suffer from a sense of self-hatred, seeing Christianity itself as an oppressive force in the world.  Even Christians in Sri Lanka who are completely separate from Western Civilization apparently bear guilt for the sins of Christianity.  Therefore, while it is regrettable that they were attacked, it’s difficult for many Progressive Christians to be outraged at their fate.

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How many people in the West are willing to risk accusations of being “far-right” when that label is tightly associated with “white supremacist” by the dominant Progressive media?  But doesn’t this Progressive position imply that it is only the “far-right” that cares about Christians of other races and nationalities?  If your ideology leads to moronic contradictions then maybe its time to question your ideology.

There’s also the fact that the perpetrators of this atrocity happen to be members of an officially designated victim group.  Therefore, they bear little responsibility for their evil acts because they are just reacting to our acts of oppression.  It doesn’t matter that the attacked Christians are a minority community who live under actual oppression by the majority.

Even those Christians who are outraged find it difficult to break through the general disinterest of their fellows.  They are also often intimidated by the Progressive party line (secular and Christian) that to speak up about this issue is an incitement to hate and violence.  And thus if you speak up it must be because you are a white supremacist, even though you are seeking to protect people of races different than caucasian!  The same Federalist article also addresses this issue.

The idea that a similar threat exists in the West is risible. There’s not a single Western country that doesn’t afford Muslim citizens the same rights it does as all other citizens. No government on Earth supports white supremacy.

There is no funding infrastructure for those who support white power. There is no Christian or Jewish denomination, or any notable political factions, in those nations that imbue white supremacy with any theological or ideological legitimacy. There is no white supremacist government trying to obtain nuclear weapons, and none sending their terrorists to other countries. In the world’s free nations, where any political party can participate in the process, the power of racist groups is minimal.

Yet the American left continues to downplay the danger, first by arguing that Islam has nothing to do with Islamic terrorism, then by lumping every white-skinned person who commits a terrorist act into one imaginary coherent political movement to contrast against it.

Let’s be clear, regardless of the reasons why our abandonment of Christians throughout the world to persecution is a scandal of epic proportions.

 

Collusion 2.0!

Squirrel-Power

CNN’s Brian Stelter confirmed the mainstream media’s new philosophy for covering the Trump Presidency by stating that “speculation actually has value, too.”

The Elites Strike Back

A professor rumored to be an acquaintance of former FBI Director James Comey has leaked documents to the Washington Post claiming that President Donald Trump’s administration has actually colluded with the Russians.  The documents contain information suggesting that the administration collaborated with the Russians to smuggle highly trained squirrels into the United States as a means of sabotage.  The squirrels in question are trained in secret Russian laboratories to chew through power lines, thus destroying the U.S. power grid that is used, among other things, to enable mainstream media operations.

krugman-squirrel2

Paul Krugman, hero of press freedom!

Paul Krugman, in a hard-hitting New York Times editorial thundered that “This is almost certainly another Trump Administration attack on freedom of the press.”  He went on to suggest that a gulag archipelago is likely being constructed in northern Alaska under Sarah Palin’s leadership to imprison “every American that doesn’t own a Bible and at least one gun.”

Anonymous sources with knowledge of this matter have informed the Post that these squirrels may be smuggled into the U.S. by Tea Party members.  The Washington Post’s investigation has uncovered that exactly 244,137 power outages were caused by these Russian trained saboteur squirrels in 2018 alone.  Sources also darkly suggest that in 2016 the squirrels were specifically targeted on the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

maddow-squirrel2

This time we’ll get him for sure!

CNN and MSNBC have picked up and run with this new accusation.  John Brennan, former Director of the CIA, appeared on the Rachel Maddow show, saying that, if true, these accusations prove that the President is “nothing short of treasonous.”  When asked to explain this statement Brennan responded by saying “I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your notice that Trump didn’t confront Putin about the squirrel issue at their joint press conference.”

James Clapper, the former-DNI said on CNN’s Reliable Sources that these new accusations are “pretty devastating.”  James Comey himself was quoted by the Post, “This accusation is just another example of how President Trump falls so completely short of the higher loyalty that has made me the unique arbiter of political morality and legitimacy.”

schiff-squirrel2

Adam Schiff says “Trust me!”

When reached for comment, Congressman Adam Schiff said, “Now that we have created an enlightened philosophy of justice based on the Brett Kavanaugh and Mueller Report presidents, it will be exceedingly difficult for President Trump to prove his innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.”  He also said, “I’m certain that information proving President Trump’s guilt will really come into my possession this time, trust me.”

hillary-ring

Give me “my precious!”

Nancy Pelosi released a statement saying that she’s “reconsidering her opposition to impeachment” given the “seriousness of these new charges.”  Hillary Clinton released a press statement withdrawing her concession in the 2016 Presidential election and demanding that President Trump “hand over my precious immediately.”

President Trump Tweeted that this new accusation is “just a continuation of the political witch hunt by the fake-news media.”  Jake Tapper of CNN responded by saying this is “proof positive that the President is already obstructing what could become an official Special Prosecutor investigation.”

acosta-squirrel

Acosta: “This time we have actual proof of a crime!”

When Sarah Sanders, the President’s Press Secretary, challenged the mainstream media’s unofficial spokesperson, Jim Acosta, by claiming that this was just another unfounded accusation he placed a box of 27 dead squirrels, some of which were still smoking, on the table.  Acosta delivered the coup de grace by saying in a voice that deplorables consider sanctimonious but elite media personnel recognize as conveying total moral authority: “This time we have actual proof of a crime!”

Easter Sunday 2019

holy-saturdayChrist the Lord is Risen Today!

1 Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

2 Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

3 Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

4 Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

5 Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

6 King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!

Holy Saturday 2019

Jesus in TombGreat is Thy Faithfulness

 

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Good Friday 2019

Akin-9THINGSGOODFRIDAY

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, “Christ Crucified”, c. 1677

Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy

Joseph Hart, pub.1759
ref. by Anonymous/Unknown

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

Refrain:
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

Fire is Destroying Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame-on-Fire

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris France is burning.

One of the most ancient and important monuments to our Christian heritage appears to be burning to the ground.  The thought of this loss is stunning, and brings this Reformed Protestant to near tears.  My prayers go out to the firefighters, the citizens of Paris and France and to all my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ.

Update on 16 April

Apparently the destruction was less than feared yesterday, but tragic all the same.  Perhaps the cathedral can be rebuilt without total loss of that which had stood for over 800 years.

notre-dame-754

The New York Post: “Photos show center of Notre Dame cathedral miraculously intact.”

Palm Sunday 2019

PalmSunday-58e280f35f9b58ef7e94e120All Glory, Laud, and Honor

1 All glory, laud, and honor
to you, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
You are the King of Israel
and David’s royal Son,
now in the Lord’s name coming,
the King and Blessed One.

2 The company of angels
is praising you on high;
and we with all creation
in chorus make reply.
The people of the Hebrews
with palms before you went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before you we present.

3 To you before your passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to you, now high exalted,
our melody we raise.
As you received their praises,
accept the prayers we bring,
for you delight in goodness,
O good and gracious King!

The Silence of the Lambs (4)

Religious Hatred Here and There

How can we place the following statistics on worldwide Christian persecution into perspective?

  • 3,066 killed;
  • 1,252 abducted;
  • 1,020 raped or sexually harassed;
  • 793 churches attacked or destroyed.

After all, aren’t we in the United States bombarded with media reports claiming that, particularly in the “Age of Trump,” our society is saturated with religious hatred that manifests itself in hate crimes?  Were that claim found to be true then we would have no moral right to point our finger at others.

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2017 FBI Hate Crime Data

It turns out that, so concerned is our federal government about the occurrence of hate crimes that the FBI has been directed to collect and publish data in this area.  The FBI publishes this data on an annual basis, the most recent year being 2017.  Thus it is easy to find and assess the level of hate crimes across many years and for many groups including religious, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, etc.

The following figure shows the total number of murders, rapes and arsons identified as motivated by hate against Muslims in the United Stated between 2008 and 2017. Note that so unheard of is abduction motivated by hate that there is no category for this crime.

FBI-Hate-Muslims

The results are likely surprising to some readers.  Please keep in mind that these are results across our entire nation of 320 million inhabitants.  Some of my observations are:

  • The hate crime statistics against Muslims are identical between the year of Obama’s 2008 “hope and change” Presidential campaign and Trump’s 2016 “make America great again” campaign (i.e. 0 murders, 0 rapes and 5 arsons);
  • In the ten years covered not a single rape occurred against a Muslim due to hate in the entire United States;
  • In the ten years covered six murders occurred against a Muslim due to hate in the entire United States, which is well less than one per year on average;
  • In the first year of Trump’s Presidency there were zero murders, rapes and arsons against Muslims due to hate, a result that never occurred during Obama’s Presidency.

What can we conclude but that, in spite of massive Progressive propaganda to the contrary, the United States is an exceedingly tolerant country?  Yes, we are deluged with accusations of Islamophobia, but the actual hate crime data shows the opposite.  The reason for this falsehood’s persistence is that any criticism of the Muslim faith or of some Muslim individuals and organizations is attributed to Islamophobia.  In other words, the Progressives have placed Muslims outside the realm of criticism by designating any concern about their religion or behavior as a kind of mental illness.

And yet Progressives criticize, mock, condemn and yes, hate Christians on a massive scale without being accused of “Christaphobia.”  I must ask, from the Progressive multicultural perspective are only Western Civilization, Christianity and Judaism capable of sin?  Were we to examine the history of Islam, Hinduism, etc. would we find only sweetness and light in their past and present?  Are the past and present for all countries and ethnic groups outside of Western Civilization beyond reproach, beyond criticism?  The apparent Progressive multiculturalist answer is YES!

So, when we note that thousands of Christians are murdered, abducted and raped throughout the world because of their faith we in the United Stated do have moral standing to care and criticize.  For, if the religious tolerance that exists in the United States were replicated throughout the world the number of hate crimes against all people for all reasons would be massively reduced.

Yes, we are far from perfect.  Yes, we sin in a many ways.  Yes there are many and deep reasons to criticize our nation.  But for goodness sake, why can’t we acknowledge and celebrate that a level of tolerance has been achieved here that enables human flourishing at a remarkable level?

We can and must.  For to do otherwise is to become complicit in the Progressive multiculturalist lie that only the West, Christianity and Judaism are capable of sin.  All other religious, ethnic and country peoples are presumed to be either incapable of or justified in their sinful acts.  We Christians have doubly no excuse for supporting this lie.

as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”

Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)

Am I saying that because Western Civilization is more tolerant then it must be more righteous than all others?  Not at all.  For the righteousness of which the Apostle Paul speaks is the perfect righteousness demanded by God.  As is well said by R.C. Sproul:

Good is a relative term. It is defined against some standard. If we establish what that standard is, we can congratulate ourselves and take comfort in our attainment of it. But if God establishes the standard, and His standard includes outward behavior (that our actions conform perfectly to His law) and internal motivation (that all our acts proceed from a heart that loves Him perfectly), then we quickly see that our pretended “goodness” is no goodness at all. We then understand what Augustine was getting at when he said that man’s best works are nothing more than “splendid vices.”

There are aspects of Western Civilization in which we are far worse than others, with abortion being a particularly shameful and stark example.  But there are other areas, such as religious tolerance, where we have achieved far better results.  We must not denigrate our successes because in other areas we have failed.

Thus we should in clear conscience and loud voice speak up for out brothers and sisters in Christ who are experiencing brutal persecution.  While so doing we must also look at ourselves and recognize that there is great sin at work in the West as well.  But it is inherently unjust and unsustainable to apply one standard to ourselves and another to anyone else.