A Timely Challenge to Christianity: “Live Not By Lies” (7)


Living Truth in a Lying Culture

I continue commentary on excerpts from Rod Dreher’s book Live Not By Lies.  Here the author discusses the means and costs of standing up for truth in a culture built upon lies.

live-not-by-lies-coverIn time, a mere writer willing to suffer for truth took power from totalitarian zealots who marshaled an entire state in the service of lies. In the happy fate of Havel, we see the truth of an old Russian proverb, beloved by Solzhenitsyn: “One word of truth outweighs the whole world.” It is up to us today to take up this challenge, to live not by lies and to speak the truth that defeats evil. How do we do this in a society built on lies? By accepting a life outside the mainstream, courageously defending the truth, and being willing to endure the consequences. These challenges are daunting, but we are blessed with examples from saints who’ve gone before.

Havel is Václav Havel, who is (from the Britannica site is: 

Václav Havel, (born October 5, 1936, Prague, Czechoslovakia [now in Czech Republic]—died December 18, 2011, Hrádeček, Czech Republic), Czech playwright, poet, and political dissident, who, after the fall of communism, was president of Czechoslovakia (1989–92) and of the Czech Republic (1993–2003).

We have already met Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.  If you had suggested ten years ago that these two courageous freedom fighters against totalitarianism would become relevant, contemporary guides for the United States’ situation I would have laughed.  But the tragic truths that we need to now listen with the greatest focus and seriousness to their testimony.

As Christians, we also must not listen and learn from those heroes of the faith from Soviet Russia (emphasis added).

To be a Baptist in Soviet Russia was to know that you were a permanent outsider. They endured it because they knew that truth was embodied in Jesus Christ, and that to live apart from him would mean living a lie. For the Baptists, to compromise with lies for the sake of a peaceful life is to bend at the knee to death. “When I think about the past, and how our brothers were sent to prison and never returned, I’m sure that this is the kind of certainty they had,” says the old pastor. “They lost any kind of status. They were mocked and ridiculed in society. Sometimes they even lost their children. Just because they were Baptists, the state was willing to take away their kids and send them to orphanages.

These believers were unable to find jobs. Their children were not able to enter universities. And still, they believed.” The Baptists stood alone, but stand they did. If you have been discipled in a faith that takes seriously the Apostle Paul’s words that to suffer for Christ is gain and are prepared, as the Orthodox Kaleda family was, to live with reduced expectations of worldly success, it becomes easier to stand for the truth.

Our experience of living in a successful, bountiful, narcissistic society has robed many of us of any real courage, any ability to embrace suffering as a moral good in the face of evil.  Our continued peace, enjoyment and comfort trump all considerations of resistance to the evil lies that now surround us, even from the pulpits of our sanctuaries.  We feel helpless and alone in our workplaces, social organizations and our churches.

That is just what the Progressive totalitarians who have captured all the institutions and high places in our society want us to think.  But they currently are not even 1% as powerful as were their ideological ancestors in the Soviet Union or now in Communist China.  

He is concerned by polls showing that Americans’ support for the First Amendment—which guarantees the constitutional right to free expression—is waning, especially among younger Americans, who are increasingly intolerant of dissenting opinion. Grygorenko sees this as a sign that society prefers the false peace of conformity to the tensions of liberty. To grow indifferent, even hostile, to free speech is suicidal for a free people.

Not everyone is in a position in which they can speak and write freely without destructive consequence. Yes, the dangers are real and present.  Yes, each person must consider issues beyond immediate statements and actions.  But yes, be it only in the voting booth, only in silence rather than supporting lies, or in open, active resistance, we must stop this evil in its tracks.  The sooner this is accomplished the less will be the damage that must be repaired to recover a decent society.  

A Corruption Earthquake


There is simply no way to  ignore the institutional corruption exposed by the the Trump presidency and the 2020 elections.  Tens of millions of decent, play by the rules Americans have watched in utter shock, anger and dismay as:

  • Our Federal Intelligence and Law Enforcement organizations working hand in glove with the Mainstream Media (MSM) and the Democrat Party conducted, in effect, a coup against President Trump, his administration and his supporters;
  • The MSM and Big Tech locked arms to suppress the absolutely credible information on Biden family corruption as they shamelessly leveraged Joe Biden’s (the Democrat presidential candidate) positions of public service to enrich themselves through hidden, sketchy relationships with entities in Communist China, Russia, the Ukraine and many others;
  • For the second Presidential election cycle in a row, polling organizations massively overestimated the support for the Democrat candidate, thus setting up an expectation of an unstoppable Democrat victory;
  • Democrat run city administrations have allowed and even supported massive rioting, looting, arson and even murder by Antifa/BLM “protesters” in order to intimidate the general population;
  • Utterly shameless and transparent vote fraud conducted in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Nevada — all Democrat run states — with the MSM ignoring it all and reporting election “results” as if this is just another normal election.

I could go on, pointing out similar levels of corruption in our religious,  educational and other Progressive institutions.

The epicenter of this massive corruption earthquake — coordinating, empowering and justifying it all — is the Democrat Party.  If you are a supporter of the Democrat Party then you must have either embraced utter corruption or carefully avoided noticing it.  But regardless you are supporting a political party that is descending into proto-totalitarianism.  

The brutal, dishonest, insatiable lust for power has utterly corrupted many individual members and organizations in and around the Democrat Party.  Long ago any pretense of honor and decency has been dropped.  If you remain associated with this Party then you cannot credibly claim innocence from the destruction that it is doing to our nation and its citizens.

earthquake-aftermathIf I and you slink off into cowardly acceptance of this vile corruption then our future is dark indeed.  This is not something occurring at the margins of an otherwise healthy body politic.  No, it is a Stage 4 cancer that will consume the life, liberty and happiness of our people if left untreated.

Treatment means refusing to submit to the lies that undergird this evil project.  We must identify the lies behind their sweet sounding propaganda and then oppose them.  We must speak up, give and work to reestablish common decency, accountability and equality under the law in the United States.

They, just like the British Empire in the time of our Revolution, seem to have all the power, all the advantages.  But in spite of that we fought for eight long years, suffering humiliating defeats, living in uncertainty and fear, until the supposedly all powerful Empire surrendered and withdrew from our midst.  Nothing on this level of courage and perseverance is required now.  But make no mistake, courage and perseverance far beyond that which we have previously shown will be required to defeat this new seemingly all powerful empire of corruption.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020)

Daughter, Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Supreme Court Associate Justice

We should be able to pause and, regardless of our political differences, stand together in humility before the terrible mystery of mortality into which God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has placed all of us.  We should be able to mourn the passing of this life with her family, friends, supporters and opponents.  Perhaps to some extent we can yet do this.

But Justice Ginsburg’s death comes at a time when our nation is in the process of being ripped apart.  The already astronomical stakes for a Presidential and Senate election have gone up tremendously.  This at a time when all bonds of common love have been stretched to the breaking point and all hopes for national peace have been shattered.

Having no special insight into God’s Mind, I yet wonder if this event could be part of His terrible judgement on a nation that has for generations allowed fundamental issues to go undecided.  The result is a nation of two irreconcilable minds, one that opposes our Constitutional foundations and the other that supports them.  

We can no longer avoid the consequences of this terrible situation.  We can only enter into the storm in prayer, humbling ourselves before God’s eternal judgement seat, seeking hope in the forgiveness of grace for our failure and folly.  We must accept responsibility for the nation having come to this dark pass and yet still move forward towards a resolution that can only be partial and temporary.  

Yet, God’s providential purposes stretch out to eternity before us.  Like Abraham and Sarah, Moses, David, Mary, Peter, John and Paul, let us run this race set before us, confident in God’s power to deliver life from death and redemption from tragedy.


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1 ESV)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14, ESV)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, ESV)

Amen.

“Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” as a Tragic Time Capsule

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Two rich and happy people before the civilizational collapse of our cities.

During this interminable lockdown I watched most of Netflix’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” episodes.  The premise is simple and effective. Jerry Seinfeld choses a car seinfeld_blackappropriate for that show’s guest, picks them up, drives through a city to a shopping area, they get out and walk to a restaurant that sells coffee, sit down and talk while consuming delicious food and drink.  The conversation varies from revolting to sparkling entertainment.  It’s generally good fun.

But while I watch one thought dominates.  I see seinfeild-walkingthese successful, wealthy people driving  and walking around cities like New  York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Portland in complete safety as they enjoy the cornucopia of wonderful shops and restaurants.  The people they meet are generally friendly and respectful.  The scenery is both beautiful and civilized.

In sum, this show is a time capsule of our great cities before their civilizational collapse.

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New York City’s 5th Avenue after the riots

Were we to drive and walk through those same city areas today we would find rows of boarded up storefronts, debris in the streets, thugs, insane people and a very few frightened souls making their way across this wasteland.  There’s no joy, no enthusiasm, no safety and no civilization.

Thus, this show’s main value is as a time capsule of what our greatest cities were like before the great collapse.  For all of their problems they were places of bustling commerce, social opportunity, cultural richness and yes, beauty.

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Chicago’s Michigan Avenue after the riots.

It’s therefore impossible for me to watch without an overpowering sense of tragedy.  And the worst part is that these happy, oblivious people brought this all upon themselves through their democratic choice of leaders.  They took for granted that civilization would continue regardless of who they elected and what policies they supported.  What was actually a fragile, precious accomplishment they took to be an indestructible reality.  But they, and we, were so wrong.

There is currently no way to know if our major cities will come back in my lifetime.  We

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The streets of our cities today

have the fearful example of Detroit in our mind’s eye.  But regardless, the wanton, stupid destruction allowed and enabled by our Progressive Leftist city leadership is one of the greatest scandals in this nation’s history.

This is a catastrophe.  But it is a catastrophe of human frailty.  We all thought that our great cities were more permanent, more robust than they actually were.  They now teeter on the brink of collapse.  They will only come back if their residents return and demand new leadership and new policies that support human flourishing.  Only time will tell, but right now I’m not optimistic.

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The product of a confident, flourishing civilization … 

Christian Charity, Mission and Compassion Reconsidered (5)

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This figure shows the utter failure of public education in large U.S. cities.  Note that the displayed percentages are of students who are not proficient in reading.

What Should be Done?

I certainly don’t expect Progressive individuals and organizations to embrace conservative ideas for welfare reform.  However, even this position doesn’t preclude the finding of common ground.  For example, the Progressive community could say something like this:

“While we believe that conservative ideas on welfare reform are fundamentally flawed, we yet agree that the current set of welfare policies has not achieved their intended results.  In fact, on numerous key measures of well-being the beneficiaries of welfare have significantly digressed over the past decades.  Therefore, we will support an open discussion on what has gone wrong and why.  From there we will support an open debate on the reforms necessary to correct past mistakes and increase the likelihood of future success.”

The tragic truth is that virtually no one finds this imagined statement by our Progressive elites to be in the slightest credible.  This is because their power rests on the false assumption of their intellectual and moral superiority. Thus they cannot survive if they ever admit to have been wrong.  Not surprisingly then, what we have observed is retreat into reactionary positions from which any criticism of the Welfare State or proposal for welfare/education reform is viciously attacked.  When “welfare reform” was passed in the 1990s the Progressive community pulled out all the stops to retard and ultimately reverse this initiative.  The Progressive community continues to be opposed to “school choice” even though a majority of disadvantaged parents support it.

In the 1960s and 70s Mainline denominational leadership tied itself to the secular Progressive movement as the vehicle for positive social change.  We can legitimately debate the wisdom of this decision within context of what was known at that time.  However, from the 1980s on it has become progressively more clear that the Great Society and associated policies have had the opposite effect of those claimed to be intended by their supporters.

We Mainline Christians must seriously ask ourselves what we really are accomplishing by our continuing support of these destructive social policies.  If we want an endless supply of people in poor and oppressed communities as recipients of our charity then by all means continue on.  In that direction lies the continued affirmation of a godless elite class who value us only to the extent that we slavishly uphold their power and follow their political line.  In that case Jesus’ words should burn in our souls.

1“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

Matthew 6:1, 2 (NIV)

If we want to actually improve the lives of the people trapped in these communities then we must open our hearts and minds to the concept of reforms that challenge the current Progressive orthodoxy.  In that direction lies suffering, as we will be subjected to the full force of hatred that holds current policies in place.  We will be called terrible names.  Our motives will be attacked.  Our Christian faith will be denigrated.  Everything will be done that can be to make the world consider us pariahs.  But if we reject their power to destroy we may actually through God’s grace find new paths that lead towards renewal and hope.

18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 15:18-27 (ESV)

 

Questions for Socialists (4)

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It’s gotten so bad in the Socialist paradise of Venezuela that even the Socialist-friendly New York Times has to take notice in order to protect its last shred of journalistic credibility.

Q: Why do you constantly condemn the monetary greed of Capitalism but never condemn the brutal, murderous political greed of Socialism?

A: Because brutalizing and murdering a population under their control is the only way to lift them up to their Socialist moral perfection!

Corbyn-Sanders-Chavez

Two of my favorite sanctimonious Progressive scolds

I’ve had more than enough of these sanctimonious Progressive scolds who condemn the monetary greed associated with Capitalism but remain silent about the far worse political (and monetary) greed associated with Socialism.  Make no mistake, both are sinful, but the human consequences of the former pale in comparison with those of the latter.  If you doubt this statement I suggest that you review the previous posts from this series (see the first, second and third).

And yet those of us who know better have generally allowed this scandalous hypocrisy to go on unopposed.  The reasons why vary from lack of confidence in knowledge to conflict avoidance to fear of the social and personal consequences.  The fear exists because within this self-proclaimed morally superior movement is a cohort that will resort to almost any vile tactic to destroy visible opposition including: cowardly whispering campaigns that impugn our morals and motives, open vicious verbal abuse and in extreme but highly visible cases public destruction of our character and livelihood through social media mob action.

The existence of this power to demean and destroy human beings holding opposing opinions has led to a situation in which not only do most people remain silent, but many choose to parrot whatever Progressive talking points are currently in vogue in order to protect themselves.  This dynamic was brilliantly summed up by the French author Charles Péguy* (see the note at the end of this post):

“It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of not looking sufficiently progressive.”

The idea that these people — who purposefully ignore the impoverishment, murder and enslavement of whole populations in order to advance their own narcissistic, misanthropic desire for political power over their fellow citizens — should be above criticism has become untenable.

Yes, the sins of Capitalism must be identified and dealt with.  In fact many of them have been though a myriad of laws and regulations.  Do we pay anywhere near the attention to the sins of governmental bureaucrats who use their powers to silence and destroy citizens and businesses with whom they disagree (see the IRS, Justice Department, FBI, Intelligence Agencies, EPA, etc.)?  Do we call it “greed” when Progressive politicians grow incredibly wealthy while “serving” in public office while constantly preaching against greed in the private sector?

At least people and businesses in a liberal capitalist democracy who grow wealthy generally do so by providing goods and services that other free people choose to buy.  And, when these companies cease to provide useful products (or can no longer do so as efficiently as their competition) they generally go out of business.  Thus there is a powerful incentive to identify and provide what their customers want.  Yes, they want things with which others disagree.  But at least they tend to not want to be impoverished and brutalized.

But the “product” of Socialism is impoverishment and brutalization of a country’s population in pursuit of an elite’s self-serving vision of utopia.  In the process the Socialist leaders and bureaucrats prosper while the general population descends into a hellish state of hunger, fear, poverty and hopelessness.

Make no mistake, with release and support of the “Green New Deal” the Progressive movement has shown that they are contemplating a totalitarian path.  The fact that it is idiotic (e.g., a tiny sampling: ban air travel and cow farts) will not deter them any more than did the idiocy of the “Great Leap Forward” in Communist China, the collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union or the the creation of a “New Man” in Cambodia.  The point isn’t the wisdom (or lack thereof) of their policy proposals.  The real point is the pretext for narcissistic, ideology-blinded, highly-credentialed know-nothings to seize ever more power over our lives.

Yes, I understand that the chances of something like this happening in the United States is currently near zero.  However, it is also true that the younger generations have been so propagandized and miseducated that they are flirting with the desirability of a Socialist future.  There are armies of educators, journalists, governmental bureaucrats, professional organizations, church leaders, non-profits and NGOs who are selling this vile product.

Here’s how the  New York Times (!) article cited above concluded (emphasis added).

Baby portraits of the children, one of their few cherished belongings, hang prominently on the wall. The only food in the entire house is half a bag of salt, and one lime.

“This is a nightmare,” said Ms. Merchán’s sister, Andreína del Valle Merchán, 25, describing how the children start to vomit, sweat and become sluggish after days of not eating. Her own 5-year-old daughter had lost 11 pounds this year and now weighed only 17 pounds, she said.

The suffering of Venezuelan families is expected to worsen next year. Beyond the I.M.F.’s warning that inflation could surpass 2,300 percent, observers worry that the leftist government will continue to refuse international aid for political reasons.

“If they accept the help, they accept that there is a humanitarian crisis here, and officially recognize that their population is vulnerable, and just how much their policies failed them,” said Susana Raffalli, a specialist on food emergencies who consults for Caritas in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan government has used food to keep the Socialists in power, critics say. Before recent elections, people living in government housing projects said they were visited by representatives of their local Socialist community councils — the government-aligned groups that organize the delivery of boxes of cheap food — and threatened with being cut off if they did not vote for the government.

Kenyerber’s relatives do not expect the economic crisis to improve anytime soon. They fear that another child in the family may die as well.

“I worry about it day and night,” said his aunt, Andreína.

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Rep. Omar (D.) supports the Socialist Venezuelan government.

So, things are so obviously terrible in Socialist Venezuela that the New York Times feels compelled to publish this story.   And yet the New York Times remains generally supportive of the Socialist political project!

How dare you Progressive Socialists proclaim that your’s is a superior morality!  You should be ashamed of yourselves.  But you have demonstrated that “the children” only matter as props for your virtue signaling protests.  Actual children dying from the ravages of actual Socialism are apparently just the price to be paid in pursuit of your ideological holy war.

The least that we can do is to speak up against this evil, bloody ideology whenever and wherever it dares to claim its morality and utility as a means of social organization.

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Another heart-rending photograph from the Socialist-friendly New York Times article.  The  caption is: “Kenyerber’s mother, María Carolina Merchán, right, weighs just 66 pounds. Her daughter follows her for hours, begging for food.”



*Note:

Ironically, Charles Péguy was a Christian, Socialist and French patriot (1873-1914).  Thus he died well before the genocidal consequences of the first practical application of Socialism in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the U.S.S.R., formed after the 1917 Russian Revolution) occurred.  Had he lived to see this tragedy, other of his famous quotes would have been put to the test.

Tyranny is always better organised than freedom

He who does not bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers.

 

The New York Times’ 1619 Project (3)

Slavery-Capitalism-Not-Satire

American Capitalism and Slavery

There are times when an institution has been so hollowed out, so blinded by ideological hatred that it literally becomes idiotic.  This is one of those times.  There are so many layers of vile stupidity here that it’s difficult to know just where to start.

Slavery Predates Capitalism by at Least 3,300 Years

The Britannica web site’s article on Capitalism dates the start of this economic system to the 16th century A.D.  Therefore, once capitalism arrived on the scene in Europe the institution of slavery had already been in existence since at least the 18th century B.C. and surely far earlier than our historical record documents.  Therefore, it’s impossible for there to have been a complete separation of slavery and any economic system that started while slavery existed.

And yet, the NYT’s headline attempts to tie this evil institution uniquely to American capitalism.  For this attempted linkage to be deemed credible it would have to be shown that capitalism in America was based on slavery and that the more capitalist is a state / colony the more it supported slavery.

The exact opposite is true in both cases.

Slavery was Eradicated in the Capitalist Northern States Long Before the Civil War

Although the 13 British American Colonies (and eventually States) shared a common heritage their dominant economic systems differed between the Northern and Southern regions.  Here’s a good summary of the economic situation in the United States just prior to the Civil War.

While factories were built all over the North and South, the vast majority of industrial manufacturing was taking place in the North. The South had almost 25% of the country’s free population, but only 10% of the country’s capital in 1860. The North had five times the number of factories as the South, and over ten times the number of factory workers. In addition, 90% of the nation’s skilled workers were in the North.

Thus it is in the North that capitalism as enabled by the industrial revolution dominated.  While there certainly were outposts of industrial revolution capitalism in the South, it was dominated by a more primitive agrarian economy dependent on the plantation system which required slavery for its survival.

These economic differences led to entirely different outcomes with regard to the institution of slavery.  While the agrarian South was utterly committed to slavery’s continuance the industrial North progressively eradicated this evil system.  This excerpt from the Federalist summarizes this point.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 prohibited slavery in the territory that would become the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. In 1794, Congress barred American ships from engaging in the slave trade. Additional legislation in 1780 banned Americans from employment or investment in the international slave trade. Finally, the U.S. Congress officially banned the importation of slaves beginning on January 1, 1808, the earliest date allowed under the deal made to ratify the Constitution.

Far from the bastion of racism, hate and pro-slavery sentiment that the 1619 Project portrays, much of the United States was ahead of the world in ending the horror of slavery. Shortly after the signing of the Declaration, northern states took the lead. By 1804, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania had passed laws that immediately or gradually abolished slavery.

Clearly it was the far more capitalist dominated Northern states that aggressively opposed and abolished slavery.  This historic fact demolishes the NYT’s narrative about “American capitalism.”  But there’s so much more.

The Capitalist United States is a Anti-Slavery World Leader

Do you know that slavery is still an ongoing institution in the 21st century?  It is.  So, since the NYT thinks that capitalism is the most supportive economic system for slavery it stands to reason that it would be most prevalent in “capitalist” countries.  And, since the United States is the epicenter of world capitalism it must be the worst here.  But, of course, you would be pathetically wrong.

The Walk Free foundation published a Global Slavery Index that has been used by Progressive media organizations such as the Washington Post.  Here are two key figures from the 2018 report.

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Note that it is the “capitalist” countries that have the lowest prevalence of slavery in 2018.

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Note that the United States is the second highest in the world with regard to legal protection against slavery.

Given these results, the question must be asked: Why is the NYT holding the United States up as a cesspit of slavery when it clearly is a world leader in opposing slavery?  The answer is obvious to anyone not blinded by Progressive ideology.

The NYT Hides True Economic Brutality

Finally, it must be noted that the NYT has been an enthusiastic supporter of the most truly brutal ideology in world history, and one that has enslaved and murdered at a level unheard of before its existence — that being Socialism.

The NYT lied to the world about the Ukrainian Famine in the 1930s Soviet Union (and still accepts a Pulitzer Prize for their lies). Walter Duranty was then the NYT’s reporter in the Soviet Union.

In the years 1932 and 1933, a catastrophic famine swept across the Soviet Union. It began in the chaos of collectivization, when millions of peasants were forced off their land and made to join state farms. … At least 5 million people perished of hunger all across the Soviet Union. Among them were nearly 4 million Ukrainians who died not because of neglect or crop failure, but because they had been deliberately deprived of food.

Duranty continued, using an expression that later became notorious: “To put it brutally—you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” He went on to explain that he had made “exhaustive inquiries” and concluded that “conditions are bad, but there is no famine.”

Indignant, Jones wrote a letter to the editor of the Times, patiently listing his sources—a huge range of interviewees, including more than 20 consuls and diplomats—and attacking the Moscow press corps:

Censorship has turned them into masters of euphemism and understatement.  Hence they give “famine” the polite name of “food shortage” and “starving to death” is softened down to read as “widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition…

“Russians Hungry But not Starving” became the accepted wisdom.

The NYT has never ceased being a cheerleader of and apologist for Socialism.

The nostalgia for Communism is never far beneath the surface in the Progressive Left, as was recently reemphasized in a New York Times oped (emphasis added).  There could be no better confirmation of my recent condemnation of the Progressive Left’s whitewash of Communist genocide (see below figure from this post) than the statements from this oped.  Here’s how the lie looks today.

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New York Times Oped:

We can get to this Finland Station only with the support of a majority; that’s one reason that socialists are such energetic advocates of democracy and pluralism. But we can’t ignore socialism’s loss of innocence over the past century. We may reject the version of Lenin and the Bolsheviks as crazed demons and choose to see them as well-intentioned people trying to build a better world out of a crisis, but we must work out how to avoid their failures…

The New York Times is the last place one should look for accurate historic information or moral instruction.

Human Free Will Within God’s Providential Control

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Joseph’s brothers sell him into captivity (1855, Konstantin Flavitsky)

Note: The following post is an excerpt from my third eBook — God’s Acts of Providence.  If you have an iOS device (i.e. an Apple device) then you can use this link to access.  If you do not use an iOS device, a PDF version can be found using this link.

Background

If God allows our wills freedom to operate then what happens when our corrupt wills collide with God’s eternal decrees?  It appears that God weaves His eternal purposes into the fabric of our willful acts.  That is, though we do indeed make decisions and take actions that are based upon our free wills, God is able to ensure that the accumulated result accomplishes His purposes.

The most notable Biblical story that reveals this dynamic is Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37-50).  Recall that Issac became the child of the fulfilled promise to Abraham and Sarah.  In turn Issac had twin sons, Esau and Jacob.  Although the younger, it was through Jacob’s line that God chose for the keeping of His promise.  Jacob had twelve sons, the second youngest of whom was Joseph.

Joseph’s Story

To call Jacob’s family dysfunctional may be an understatement.  Jacob showed extreme favoritism towards Joseph, who responded by becoming conceited and boastful.  Not surprisingly this situation created great resentfulness in his ten older brothers.  They eventually became so furious that they decided to sell Joseph into slavery and tell their father that he had been killed by a beast.

Joseph ended up in the Egyptian empire.  There he experienced great danger and suffering.  However, due to God’s gift of prophecy, Joseph miraculously ended up being the second most powerful man in Egypt, with only the Pharaoh above him.

Although the story centers on Joseph in Egypt for a long period of time, we are told that his brothers’ scheme crushed their father’s spirit.  One need no special gift of imagination to infer that their father’s grief coupled with the keeping of a shameful lie must have created gaping wounds in the family’s life.

None of the people in this story were originally attempting to cooperate with God’s providential purposes.  Quite the contrary, they were driven by pride, envy, greed, hatred and selfishness, among many other moral failings.  One would be hard pressed to create a family situation less supportive of God’s purposes.  In fact, their wills appear to have been aligned directly against God by tending to destroy the very family through which God sought to fulfill His promise!

And yet, in the end, it is God’s will that is done.  Not only does Jacob’s family survive, but it does so because of the sequence of sinful events willed by the human participants.  That is, because Joseph becomes powerful in Egypt he can offer his family salvation from a devastating famine.

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Joseph recognized by his brothers (1863, Leon Pierre Bourgeois).  Joseph’s brothers didn’t recognize him until long after they had been introduced to the second most powerful man in Egypt.

Far beyond mere physical survival, the experiences of Joseph and his brothers create in them softened hearts, humility and mercy that enable the family to reconcile.  This process only reaches completion upon the death of Jacob.  For, in spite of Joseph’s apparent kindness, his brothers yet fear that he is only waiting until Jacob’s death to take revenge.

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.”  So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died:  ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him.  His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.”  But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?  As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Genesis 50:15-21

In Joseph’s astounding statement we find wondrous insight into God’s working of His providential purposes within context of human free will.  There is unambiguous clarity that Joseph’s brothers were willfully intending evil when they sold him into slavery.  However, there is also no doubt that God’s intentions were the exact opposite, and, were operating throughout.  How can these apparently contradictory statements be reconciled?

Meditation

Put another way, where in creation does God have the opportunity to inject His will so as to ensure a chosen outcome within context of human free will?  Here we enter the realm of conjecture.  However, it is conjecture illuminated by the entire Biblical story concerning God’s dealing with mankind.

One obvious place to look is the dimension of time.  We can easily recall numerous historical events when the difference of hours, or even minutes, had a controlling impact on the outcome.  For example, had the caravan to which Joseph was sold arrived hours later his brothers might have decided to kill him (Genesis 37:25-28).  Is it beyond God’s power to influence the sequence of events in time so as to cause a desired result?

Or consider the dimension of human character.  We all should be able to agree that each human being has a unique, multifaceted character that powerfully influences how they respond to ideas and events.  Is it beyond the power of God to imprint upon us character traits that will lead to our freely choosing one path over another?  Does not Scripture explicitly teach that this is indeed so?

For Scripture says of Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. Romans 9:17,18 (NIV)

Who are we to say just where and how this hardening of Pharaoh occurred?  Is it beyond God’s power to create particular character traits that will cause one person to freely respond in one way to a set of circumstances and another differently?  Can this not be an aspect of God’s action when we are being fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)?

These two possibilities are not intended to definitively explain how God’s acts of providence operate.  Rather, they are intended to expand the scope of our investigation to allow room for God’s acting within the simultaneous application of our free wills.

Perhaps a generalized statement of the above specific examples would be:

God, through various and sundry means that are independent of human will is able to ensure that the accumulated result of events will lead to the outcome that He has foreordained from eternity.

Of course, as we have seen in this work and throughout the Bible, none of this precludes God from directly intervening in creation as He deems fit.  However even on these occasions the dynamic is not that of a puppet master pulling strings, but rather of the infinite, eternal God engaging in relationship with frail flesh and blood.  That is, even within these direct invasions of the divine room is made for the operation of our wills.

Thus, the only issue excluded from influence of our wills is that of our salvation.  However, as we have seen, were God to here leave us to our own devices no one would be saved.  Thus our merciful God only overpowers our wills in the one place that they are utterly helpless.

The Silence of the Lambs (6)

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Image and caption of the BBC report quoted below.

A Timely and Tragic Confirmation

For anyone who suspected that I’ve been exaggerating or am being overly-dramatic about Christian persecution note that none other than the government of the United Kingdom has confirmed my position.  In fact, their commentary on this issue is significantly more extreme than has been mine thus far.  Here’t the BBC report titled: Christian persecution ‘at near genocide levels‘ (emphasis added):

The review, led by the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, estimated that one in three people suffer from religious persecution.
Christians were the most persecuted religious group, it found.  Mr Hunt said he felt that “political correctness” had played a part in the issue not being confronted.

The interim report said the main impact of “genocidal acts against Christians is exodus” and that Christianity faced being “wiped out” from parts of the Middle East.
It warned the religion “is at risk of disappearing” in some parts of the world, pointing to figures which claimed Christians in Palestine represent less than 1.5% of the population, while in Iraq they had fallen from 1.5 million before 2003 to less than 120,000.
“Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution, but also its increasing severity,” the Bishop wrote.

The report itself has this to say about Christian persecution in the Middle East.

Regional Focus: Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

The persecution of Christians is perhaps at its most virulent in the region of the birthplace of Christianity – the Middle East & North Africa (MENA for short). As mentioned earlier, forms of persecution ranging from routine discrimination in education, employment and social life up to genocidal attacks against Christian communities have led to a significant exodus of Christian believers from this region since the turn of the century.

Regional Focus: South Asia

To the east of the MENA region lie countries with a diversity of majority religions. In nearly all of these there is routine discrimination against Christians which has crossed over into outright persecution in recent years.

Numerous other regional areas are covered, each with its own unique set of religious, cultural and ideological issues that lead to varying levels of Christian persecution.

christian-persecution-1Note that this report also supports my contention that “political correctness” is a key reason that Christians in the West have abandoned their brothers and sisters in Christ to their fates.    Let’s be clear: if true this means that Christians in the West value their own social standing far higher than the actual lives of Christians throughout the world.  I believe that this is at least in part true, and that it is a shameful consequence of our purposeful ignorance and selfish need for social affirmation by a godless secular culture.

The Silence of the Lambs (5)

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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.