A Disturbing Event at Wheaton College

The Rev. Timothy Blackmon

The Rev. Timothy Blackmon

Yesterday I was shocked and saddened to read this story in the Daily Herald newspaper.

Wheaton College President Philip Ryken said in an email to students and faculty Friday that chaplain Timothy Blackmon has been fired for “inappropriate comments and actions of a racial and sexual nature” toward staff members.   …

Ryken wrote in his email that the college hired “external professionals” to investigate allegations against Blackmon.

“The investigation revealed conduct inconsistent with Wheaton’s policies and commitments. Following this investigation and adjudication, as well as a trustee review process, Tim Blackmon is no longer employed at Wheaton College,” the email read. “Because of the unique role of the Chaplain as one of Wheaton’s primary spiritual leaders, we believe it is important to share this information with the campus community. In deference to the confidentiality of multiple parties in a personnel process, though, we do not plan to provide additional information beyond this message and encourage our community to respect the privacy of the individuals involved.”

The Rev. Blackmon has been a guest preacher at my local church on numerous occasions, so there is a personal connection here that magnifies the impact of this particular incident.  Obviously I don’t know any of the details behind this event.  However, I do know what Wheaton College has chosen to communicate publicly, and find it disturbing.

Yes, I can conceive of circumstances in which the level of privacy chosen by Wheaton College may be appropriate.  However, there is no avoiding the consequence that, by shielding the details from public disclosure, the college has left the Rev. Blackmon’s reputation to the imaginations of anyone who happens to hear about this incident.  This seems grossly unfair to me.

I see three likely reasons why this level of privacy is demanded by Wheaton College, those being:

  1. The verbal conduct in question is indeed so damaging and painful that any further public disclosure would be destructive to all involved;
  2. The verbal conduct in question would be highly controversial, with some strongly supporting the decision and others strongly opposing;
  3. The college is ashamed of its conduct, knowing that were the details made public the institution would suffer grave damage to its reputation.

At the very least Wheaton College should be more specific regarding the reasons for this level of privacy.

Were this event to have occurred a decade or more ago I would have been predisposed to take the College at its word.  However, given the “cancel culture” experience of the past few years it has become difficult to give any institution the benefit of the doubt in these matters.

We are all well aware that a statement as obviously true as “all lives matter” or that “sex is real” can be cause for firing in today’s environment.  Thus, the college’s statement that “inappropriate comments and actions of a racial and sexual nature” covers a scope that may or may not be defensible.  For example, were these statements gross, vicious sexual and/or racial attacks then the vast majority of people would agree with the firing.

Perhaps the Rev. Blackmon is free to eventually comment publicly on this event.  Perhaps the college has induced him to sign a non-disclosure agreement that will forever prevent him from public comment.  Perhaps someone who knows the details will someday make them public.  Perhaps we will never know what happened.

My current predisposition is towards the assumption of craven cowardice and bad faith by our major institutions.  So, while I will withhold judgement, I will also fear for the worst by Wheaton College in this shocking event.

Cain and Abel (4)

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Closing Thoughts

One striking and sometimes dominant theme of modern Biblical scholarship, particularly on the Old Testament, is the similarity of the key stories to this or that other ancient Near Eastern religious myth. It is most assuredly true that there are similar, sometimes strikingly so, stories in the myths of other cultures and scholarship must take this information into account. However, would it not be of greater value to seek out that which has made this LORD God so stunningly distinct?

Why is it, for example, that this LORD God continues to be worshiped by two great and related religions while the other gods of the ancient Near East have disappeared into the mists of time? Does the fact that this LORD God deals with humanity within the context of a relationship that combines moral responsibility and mercy affirm the value of human life in a unique and unmistakable way? And finally, we note that this LORD God has already demonstrated the capacity to suffer for the sins of His creatures, even to the point of overlooking direct insult in order to show mercy. Is this not a stunning departure of character for a God who would demand loyalty and worship? Clearly He does not intend to base this demand on a foundation of fear. On what foundation then does He base it?

To seek answers to these questions is to begin the journey in earnest into “the chief end of man.” For this end is tied up in a valued relationship with the Almighty. Thus the answers will be found within the context of these relationships as captured in Holy Scripture. As we move through the Biblical record will we find a disjointed jumble of unrelated encounters or a sustained, purposeful pattern? We will only be able to answer by taking the journey in prayerful hope, open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and seeking Christ as our only goal.

Cain and Abel (2)

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Exposition (continued)

Genesis 4:6, 7

6Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Is this not a crucial statement by the LORD? This is the first time in the NIV translation that the word “sin” occurs; and the LORD utters it. Note the tenderness with which He addresses Cain, but also note the uncompromising standard that is being set. Even though sin has entered the world through the disobedience of Cain’s parents, Cain is under the obligation to “master it.”

What goes for Cain also goes for us. How much better off would we be if, rather than imagining “sin” to be a far off concept of primitive peoples, we realized that it is crouching at our doors, desiring to have us, but we are called on by the LORD God to master it?

To ask such a question brings up imaginings of dour, drab Puritan lives and Salem which trials. But are our lives truly the better for having banished sin to the periphery of our concerns? We certainly are made available to a massively increased set of options for distraction and entertainment. Have we asked ourselves, though, distraction from what, entertainment to what end? To seriously explore these questions is to discover not truth and hope, but rather emptiness and despair.

The small victories that I have allowed Christ to win in me against sin have been freeing experiences. They confirm by actual experience that sin is bondage and to throw it off through Christ’s power is to taste true freedom. What astounds is that my flesh still desperately fights to hold onto its pathetic, hopeless autonomy in spite of my spirit’s delight upon being freed from sin’s hold. How are we to account for such a conflict except by the doctrine of original sin?

Q. 25. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

The language of the Larger Catechism may be out of date, but I submit that the content is timeless to the extent that it is in harmony with Scripture. On this point I cannot find fault.

But, you may well ask, what of Christ’s power in the redeemed lives? Why is it not immediately victorious? That is a question that must be answered over the span of the entire Bible as we seek to understand the chief end of man.

We Are in a State of Hysteria Over COVID-19 (2)

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Free Speech Censorship is Here

For those of us who have assumed a critical posture towards the COVID-19 hysteria and consequent lockdowns the establishment response has been along the lines of “so you want people to die!.”  When pressed for details on the credibility and accuracy of their claims to “science” the response has been along the lines of “to demand transparency and debate is unscientific!”  In fewer words, the establishment response has been “shut up and obey!”

Given this terror induced state in our public, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the elite Progressives have moved boldly to overtly suppress free speech in the United States using Communist China as their model.  I assume that to most readers this seems a ridiculous claim.  I assure you that it is not, so keep reading if you dare.

The mask first (to my knowledge) dropped in an Atlantic article, as reported in this article (emphasis added).

Atlantic magazine – fast becoming the favored media outlet for self-styled intellectual elites of the Aspen Institute type – ran an in-depth article of the problems free speech pose to American society in the coronavirus era. The headline:

Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal

In the debate over freedom versus control of the global network, China was largely correct, and the U.S. was wrong.

Authored by a pair of law professors from Harvard and the University of Arizona, Jack Goldsmith and Andrew Keane Woods, the piece argued that the American and Chinese approaches to monitoring the Internet were already not that dissimilar:

Constitutional and cultural differences mean that the private sector, rather than the federal and state governments, currently takes the lead in these practices… But the trend toward greater surveillance and speech control here, and toward the growing involvement of government, is undeniable and likely inexorable.

They went on to list all the reasons that, given that we’re already on an “inexorable” path to censorship, a Chinese-style system of speech control may not be such a bad thing. In fact, they argued, a benefit of the coronavirus was that it was waking us up to “how technical wizardry, data centralization, and private-public collaboration can do enormous public good.”

So, you say to yourself, “Self, this little article by pointy-headed academics has no relevance to the real world.”  But you would be so very wrong.  Continuing to excerpt the above cited article we find this:

As the Atlantic lawyers were making their case, YouTube took down a widely-circulated video about coronavirus, citing a violation of “community guidelines.”

The offenders were Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massahi, co-owners of an “Urgent Care” clinic in Bakersfield, California. They’d held a presentation in which they argued that widespread lockdowns were perhaps not necessary, according to data they were collecting and analyzing.

“Millions of cases, small amounts of deaths,” said Erickson, a vigorous, cheery-looking Norwegian-American who argued the numbers showed Covid-19 was similar to flu in mortality rate.  “Does [that] necessitate shutdown, loss of jobs, destruction of oil companies, furloughing doctors…? I think the answer is going to be increasingly clear.”

Note: I linked to these YouTube videos in my previous post on this topic.  

You might expect that the perspective of these two practicing doctors would be considered to be a legitimate part of our national deliberations.  After all, it is part of the American DNA to debate important policies from many points of view.  And, many Americans have grave doubt about the efficacy and/or legality of our politicians policies. But not in this and so many other cases, as discussed in this article (note that “the video” refers to the above discussed video).

Despite the fact that the video shows both sides of the debate, YouTube still believed it was necessary to take it down. Social media companies like YouTube – which is owned by search engine giant Google – are led and staffed predominantly by leftists. These entities are already known for squelching voices that don’t fall in line with the progressive agenda, and this is just another example of how the far left is trying to ensure that the American public heeds their arguments.

Of course, they’re not admitting to pursuing a specific agenda. Instead, companies like YouTube and Facebook claim they are engaging in this censorious behavior because they want to make sure that the public isn’t misinformed.

This censorship is part of an attempt to scare Americans enough to comply with ongoing restrictions on their freedoms.

And that’s the point.  By isolating and suppressing alternative viewpoints to the Progressive line, these private companies are imposing censorship on their “customers.” One necessary response is to remove the legal cover that allows companies like YouTube and Facebook to censor with impunity.

Another necessary and more immediate response is mockery.  The Progressive Left is playing for keeps in its quest to dissolve our Constitutional liberties.  They need to feel push back that exposes and shames their actions.  Perhaps something along the lines of this from the Babylon Bee.

Screen Shot 2020-05-01 at 6.23.56 AM

 

Biblical Interpretation Considered (2)

Man-Light

Souls Entangled in Mortality and God’s Providential Grace

There is great value in examining ourselves as we seek to understand the nature of our souls and the ends to which God has directed them. There is also great value in sharing our experiences with trusted Christians to gain broader understanding and deeper insights. We are certainly doing well by so doing. However, if this is our primary focus then we have bypassed the testimony that is of ultimate authority in these matters.

There are a few mere mortals in the Bible whose story God has chosen to share in a depth and intimacy that illuminates these issues in blazing light, if only we will pay attention. Some of these people are Abraham and Sarah, David, and the Apostles John, Paul and Peter. Their stories show us how actual human lives have been lived that are inexorably tangled by mortal cares and yet simultaneously redeemed and sustained by God’s eternal acts of providence.

Carefully, prayerfully reading these stories will not answer every question or make clear all the complexities and confusions of our lives. But they will show us great truths about ourselves, our God and the world that light our paths and strengthen our faith.

You can find my commentary on some of these mere mortals in the following resources:

The Purpose of Relentless Hysteria (2)

A herd of Guardian readers reacts to the latest news. The BFD.

The state into which our Elites would like to reduce us Commoners

Understanding the Purpose

Occasionally after a period of frustration on how to address a particular issue an article fortuitously appears that opens the doors of enlightenment.  Just such an article, titled “The luxury of apocalypticism” recently bubbled to the top of my reading.  The following excerpt beautifully captures one key dimension of this behavior by our elite “betters.”

Here, we cut to the heart of the apocalyptic mindset of the modern elites. Their dread over natural calamities or novel new illnesses is not driven by the actual facts about these things, far less by the desire to overcome them through the deployment of human expertise and scientific discovery. Rather, it speaks to their pre-existing moral disorientation, their deep loss of faith in the human project itself. It is their downbeat cultural convictions that draws them to apocalypticism as surely as a light draws in moths. In her essay on the AIDS panic of the late 1980s, when that sexually transmitted disease was likewise imagined as a portent of civiliational doom, Susan Sontag talked about the West’s widespread ‘sense of cultural distress or failure’ that leads it to search incessantly for an ‘apocalyptic scenario’ and for ‘fantasies of doom’. There is a ‘striking readiness of so many to envisage the most far-reaching of catastrophes’, she wrote. It wasn’t so much ‘Apocalypse Now’, said Sontag, as ‘Apocalypse From Now On’.

How perspicacious that was. From AIDS to climate change, from swine flu to Covid-19, it has been one apocalyptic scenario after another. The irony is that the elites who readily envisage catastrophe think they are showing how seriously they take genuine social and medical challenges, such as Covid-19. In truth, they demonstrate the opposite. They confirm that they have absolved themselves of the reason and focus required for confronting threats to our society. It isn’t their apocalypticism that captures the human urge to solve genuine problems – it is our anti-apocalypticism, our calmness, our insistence that resources and attention be devoted to genuine challenges without disrupting people’s lives or the economic health of our societies.

‘I want you to panic’, they say. But we don’t. And we shouldn’t. Apocalypticism is a luxury of the new elites for whom crises are often little more than opportunities for the expression of their decadent disdain for modern society. To the rest of us, apocalypticism is a profound problem. It threatens to spread fear in our communities, it causes us to lose our jobs, it mitigates against economic growth, and it harms democracy itself. Resisting the apocalypticism of the comfortable doom-mongers who rule over us is unquestionably the first step to challenging Covid-19 and preserving society for the decades after this illness has wreaked its disgraceful impact.

But even this excellent passage doesn’t expose the full story.  For while it explains the psychological underpinnings of this behavior it doesn’t address the purpose.  This purpose is hinted at by the first sentence in this same excellent article.

People’s refusal to panic has been a great source of frustration for the establishment in recent years.

Panicked humans are far more susceptible to suggestion and manipulation then are calm humans.  However, if humans can be panicked as a mob the effect is multiplied by orders of magnitude.  Thus, if you are attempting to market ideologies that have been demonstrated by any rational analysis to be utter failures or even genocidal, then your best hope for success is by inducing the irrationality associated with a panicked mob.

That they have thus far failed to achieve this end (but the COVID-19 hysteria may break this string of failures) has left our “elites” in a state of psychological degradation that undermines all claim to their supposed status.  Returning one last time to the article.

According to the new elites, their apocalypticism is normal, while our calm democratic commitment to a political project, such as … our desire to treat pollution as a practical problem rather than as a swirling, cloudy hint of nature’s coming fury with man’s hubris and destructiveness, is mad, deranged, in need of treatment.

Yes, our levelheadedness and calm prevents them from rushing us over the cliff into the abyss of their proto-totalitarian rule.  The punishment will continue until we comply, or perhaps until we throw them out from their positions of undeserved power.

Lemmings at the cliff

Defeating Progressivism (3)

Progressive-Prestige-Pillar

The Three Pillars (2)

Prestige

It’s natural for the general public to credit prestige to those among them who have acquired power, particularly in the United States, where success of almost any type is viewed as a sign of merit.  Therefore, since Progressives have risen to dominate so much of our cultural and educational institutions, government and religious organizations, they have for decades accumulated the associated prestige.

harvard

We are so prestigious!

Having acquired this good, Progressives have used it to drive and dominate our national conversation.  The general public is daily besieged by written and oral pronouncements by the Progressive elite on every conceivable point of policy or matters.  Opposing points of view struggle to even be heard, let alone be heeded.

But prestige is not an infinitely available resource.  For, over time, if the general public begins to perceive a divergence between the elite’s claim to prestige and the actual results obtained this resource can dissipate.  Thus, when parents after having paid exorbitant amounts to send a child to a university experience the results as emotional, ideology driven drivel, they begin to wonder about the “prestige” of the institution and its staff.  Or, when the Progressive elites browbeat the public into accepting policies (e.g., immigration, trade, foreign policy, public safety, etc.) that result in negative consequences, they begin to doubt the “expertise” and competence of those elites.

If, in addition, the elites appear to have utter contempt for the general public and behave in self-serving, even corrupt ways, then any accumulated prestige can suddenly evaporate.  This loss to a cohort who consider themselves to be the unassailable elite is an existential threat.  They become filled with anger and hatred.  How dare the unwashed masses refuse to acknowledge their superiority!  Look at our degrees from elite educational institutions, look at out impressive job titles, look at how we control powerful organizations!

Unfortunately, the more they caterwaul, the more they spew contempt, the greater is their temptation to become even more incompetent at their actual jobs, as they focus instead on destroying the object of their hatred.  Oh, and by the way, hatred tends to make you stupid.  Thus is the prestige built up by our Progressive betters collapsing into a black hole of general public disgust.

Rotherham Update

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Way back in February 2017 I discussed the Rotherham Child Sex Scandal.  Here’s an update.

Investigations have been ongoing since then, and one just-completed inquiry has made headlines in Great Britain. This is from the London Times: “Rotherham police chief: we ignored sex abuse of children.”

A senior police officer admitted that his force ignored the sexual abuse of girls by Pakistani grooming gangs for decades because it was afraid of increasing “racial tensions”, a watchdog has ruled.

If Progressive Multiculturalism is so moral, then why has it led to the most long-lived example of open pedophilia in the Western (enlightened!) world?

The Impeachment Coup

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What we are witnessing in the nation’s capital is nothing less than a continuing coup disguised as a Presidential impeachment.  I have previously discussed the actions taken by our Justice Department, Intelligence Community, Democrat  politicians and presidential candidates, and now our State Department to undermine and ultimately remove a duly elected President of the United States.  By so doing they have in effect claimed that the power of unelected bureaucrats and a losing political party trumps that of the citizens of the United States in determining who occupies the office of President.

This fraudulent, evil farce is being foisted upon the American people less that one year from a presidential election in which the citizens can decide if President Trump should serve a second term.  This current attempted fraud comes on the heels of previous pathetically failed frauds all intended to bring down the President by undemocratic means, some of these being:

  • flipping Elector votes from Trump to Clinton
  • the Steel dossier
  • the Mueller investigation
  • the voting-machines-hoax
  • the Logan Act
  • the Emoluments Clause
  • the 25th Amendment
  • the McCabe-Rosenstein-Comey collusion
  • various Michael Avenatti-Stormy Daniels-Michael Cohen accusations
  • and now, the Ukraine accusations by disgruntled intelligence and State Department officials.

All of these assaults were based on purposeful deception and outright lies.  And yet we are expected to presume that the Democrat Party, the deep state and the mainstream media have the moral and intellectual credibility necessary to take seriously their latest charges.

I have previously suggested that a credible model for this cabal’s thought process is “Leninthink.”  Given the show trial mentality exhibited by the Congressional Democrats and bureaucratic witnesses this designation is now confirmed.  However, if we search history to find the slogan that most accurately conveys their primary operating principle one is inexorably drawn to the Fascist motto of Benito Mussolini:

Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state

It shouldn’t be surprising that the proto-totalitarians operating in the United States should have blended previous ideologies into a unique American version that best serves their needs and is most easily sold to a large cohort of our public.

The election of Donald Trump brought to the Presidency a man who rejected the power and position of our national elite establishment.  The citizens of the United States had every right to vote in a Chief Executive intent on changing the nation’s direction.  They also have every right to decide in 2020 that President Trump has failed and/or the Democrats offer a better option.

But that’s not how our Leninist/Fascist elites see things.  No, they are attempting to demonstrate to the electorate that they own a veto over any President who they deem to be unfit.  And by “unfit” understand “not beholden to their power and position.”

Can there be any doubt that, if they are successful in destroying the Trump presidency they will act to prevent such a challenge by the nation’s citizens from ever again occurring?  They have told us outright that our First and Second Amendment rights will be curtailed if not erased.  The Electoral College and the Senate will go into history’s trash heap (while simultaneously claiming that their impeachment mania is a defense of the Constitution!).  The nation’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies may begin to operate as a defacto secret police.  Any citizen who dares voice non-approved political ideas will be subject to loss of their good name and livelihood at the whim of a Progressive social media mob.

It’s time to take our heads out of the sand and look straight into the abyss of evil that is being offered to us as the alternative to our messy but liberty-protecting Constitutional Republic.  If we don’t stand up to and peacefully defeat this outrageous, monstrous wicked cabal in 2020 then we may have lost the opportunity to do so thereafter.

If you believe that I’m right (or near-to-right), please think, speak, organize and vote accordingly.  If you think that I’m wrong, please consider the possibility that someday those who consider you to be guilty of “wrong-think” inherit the governmental powers that you now seek for yourselves.

A Bit of Encouragement (1)

intimidation-doesnt-last-very-long-quote-1We Need Not Be Intimidated

There’s no doubt that the Progressives now dominate virtually all of our nation’s centers of power (e.g., mass media / entertainment, federal and state bureaucracies, education, religious denominations, large corporations, etc.).  Thus the threat of retaliation that affects the reputation and/or livelihood of individuals in open opposition is real and present.  Due to this position of economic and cultural power their policies are advanced under the implicit threat of retaliation that we all know can become painfully real in some seemingly randomly occurring cases.  We only need to hear about a very small number of actual cases to be inhibited from visible opposition.

The good news is that there have been situations in which the punishment mob has been thwarted due to courageous groups of opposers who unify behind their beliefs.  It’s far easier to isolate one member and attack than to take on a unified, unyielding group.

Thus here’s the sorry secret: intimidation through intolerance is all they’ve got.