What Have We Lost? (2)

BenFranklin-Republic

Living in a Republic that We May Not Keep

In the previous post I pointed out that there have been (and will continue to be) social and political issues for which compromise by finding the “middle ground” isn’t a realistic option.  Thus, when people pine for those lost times when compromise ruled the day they are imagining a past that never existed.  However, they are correct in believing that something from our past has been lost.

That “something lost” is a shared commitment to our Republic as founded through our Constitution and Bill of Rights.  That shared commitment broke down entirely during the Civil War.  However, aside from that tragic failure it has managed to hold even when issues upon which compromise was difficult or impossible to find roiled the nation.  Using the two examples from the previous post, the nation was able to hold together even when faced with terrible win/lose situations.  Yes, there was great acrimony and sometimes even violence.  But the parties on both sides of these issues didn’t break from republican values (as defined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights).

What we are experiencing now is a powerful desire by one political group, the Progressives, to “fundamentally transform” the foundations of our nation’s political life.  And this group has come to dominate the Democrat Party.  Thus, the Progressives have achieved fundamental transformation of the Democrat Party and are using this institution to seek fundamental transformation of the United States.

Many people would like to ignore this seismic shift.  However to not take note is to be purposefully blind, as its proponents are screaming their views from the roof tops.

electoral-college-abolishAbolish the Electoral College

Many Presidential candidates in the Democrat Party are openly pledging to abolish the Electoral College because it, in 2016, prevented them from winning the Presidency.  This is a popular position with the party’s base, as explained in this article.

Elizabeth Warren kicked things off at a CNN town hall Monday night when the Massachusetts senator drew enthusiastic applause by saying: “Every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College.”

The next day, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said there was “a lot of wisdom” in abolishing the Electoral College. California Sen. Kamala Harris told late night host Jimmy Kimmel on Tuesday night that she’s “open to the discussion.” Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, tweeted a clip of him saying the Electoral College “has got to go.”

Were they to somehow achieve this end our Republic would indeed be transformed from a federation of states into a direct democracy completely dominated by our major urban centers.  Of course this transformation would benefit the Progressives.  But it would also nationalize the urban political dominance that has led to great anger in states like New York and Illinois.  I very much doubt that citizens in states like Nebraska or Alaska would accept such an outcome.

In normal times I’d be confident that the rules for Constitutional change would prevent this from occurring.  However, given the demonstrated will to power by the Progressive movement it’s not beyond belief that extra-Constitutional means could be brought to bear.  The consequences of such a move are unpredictable, but could well be dire for the nation’s life.

DefProg-GNDThe Union of American Socialist States

I have previously discussed how even partial implementation of the Green New Deal (GND) would necessitate transformation of the United States from a democratic republic to a socialist police state.  But this end doesn’t in the slightest prevent our Democrat presidential candidates from giving it rhetorical support.  I take small comfort in their refusal to vote for it on the record.  However, were they elected they would likely take that result as a mandate to implement the GND even if they dissembled and outright lied to the voting public about their intentions in the campaign.

So Much More

The Progressives have also clearly communicated their intention to repeal our Constitutional protections contained in the FirstSecond and Sixth Amendments.  There is also pressure to abolish the Senate.  In these and other areas the Progressives who now control the Democrat Party have made it crystal clear that there is nothing in our founding documents that they will not destroy if it diminishes their ability to seize and keep power.

In the next post I’ll discuss what this means with regard to what has been really lost.

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The Romance of 1970s Hi-Fi

Please forgive my bout of nostalgia. I’ll be back to “normal” soon.

HiFi1

Marantz 1070 Integrated Amplifier (top), Pioneer AM/FM Tuner (middle), Pioneer Turntable (bottom)

My son recently sent me a link to a video about “record changer” systems that existed in large numbers up to the 1970s.  These devices allowed multiple records to be stacked and played one after the other.  Given that I was born in the late 1950s this was a familiar review of something I hadn’t thought about for decades.  I think my son sent it because he thought I’d be interested, but also because of the novelty and strangeness of such a device too a Millennial.

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Bose 301 speaker system.  Note the plastic vane to control the “direct/reflected” listening experience.

This video reminded me of my years in the 1970s as a moderate budget Hi-Fi audiophile.  I saved money obsessively from my first real job as a grocery bagger to buy a Hi-Fi stereo system.  I can well recall walking into the local Hi-Fi shop with five one-hundred dollar bills in my pocket and leaving with a Marantz receiver, a turntable and Bose speakers.

This first system lasted only a couple weeks because I started reading Hi-Fi magazines and became convinced that my stereo receiver needed to be replaced with separate components (i.e., and integrated amplifier and an AM/FM tuner).  I still remember the disgust with which the shop owner eventually lived up to his “no questions” return policy when I brought back the receiver.  But I also bought the new equipment and became a regular as more Hi-Fi components became “necessary” for my listening experience.

Listening to a record went far beyond the content.  I used elaborate disk cleaning kits prior to each play.   I hung my speakers from the ceiling with chains so that the “direct/reflecting” feature could be optimized.  When the music was playing it wasn’t just the instrumentation and vocals that I heard but also my mighty Hi-Fi components creating this sonic wonder. In sum, playing a record was a complex ritual of human senses intersecting with analog custom purpose “computers” programmed to deliver a “realistic” listening experience.

HiFi2

Pioneer 707 reel-to-reel tape deck (top) and TEAC 400 cassette tape deck (bottom)

I very quickly became a recording enthusiast.  When I bought a new album I would record it on the first play onto tape.  From that point on I played the tape, thus (in my fevered youthful mind) recreating the virgin play of the record indefinitely.

From there I built up a mobile recording system of microphones, mixer and a reel-to-reel tape deck.  I hooked up with some folk music people and ran around my town recording folk and jazz performances.  I loved the electro-magnetic/mechanical technical “magic” by which audio information was transferred from the actual experience onto tape.  It was a wonderful experience.

I’m certain that it was the Hi-Fi magazines’ equipment reviews that got me interested in my eventual vocation, electrical engineering.  The reviews often included photos from the test lab, showing the complex equipment used for the tests.  I loved the idea of technical measurements being connected to the human experience.

The entire adventure was a blast.  It knocked me off my default plan of becoming a history or english professor.  My electrical engineering career in wireless technology has been extremely rewarding, so Hi-Fi was a portal into another world that I didn’t know existed.

Now I just touch a couple soft buttons on my iPad which communicates via Bluetooth with my integrated speaker and music plays.  Ho hum.

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My 2010s hi-fi system.  Convenient, good sound, zero romance (playing the classic 1970s rock ballad, Thunder Road).

Making Sense of Progressive Nonsense (7)

San-Fran-general-poop-map-FINAL

Map of reported incidents of human feces on the streets of San Francisco

I Can’t Handle the Truth Edition

It turns out that Progressive policies don’t just create hell-holes in far away countries like Venezuela. Here in the good ole United States there are cities and whole states that have been so dominated by radical Progressivism that they too are becoming at least Purgatory-ish for their inhabitants.  For example, in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle the homeless population has both skyrocketed and metastasized to the point of unbearability  for the general population.  In Chicago the city’s failure to control gang violence and deliver minimal education in their public schools is an unending scandal.

toxp6dsivgu21

But this has nothing to do with our Progressive policies!

It’s gotten so bad that even some Progressive activists have noticed.  However, this realization creates dangerous cognitive dissonance.  For a Progressive activist doesn’t just believe that their policy prescriptions are undeniably the best, but also that they possess ultimate intellectual and moral superiority.  Therefore to even approach the possibility that their policies, let alone themselves, might be faulty is unthinkable.

So how to square this circle?  One noteworthy recent attempt was made by Farhad Manjooopinion pieceAmerica’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals.”  Mr. Manjoo gets off to a good start in his first three paragraphs.

To live in California at this time is to experience every day the cryptic phrase that George W. Bush once used to describe the invasion of Iraq: “Catastrophic success.” The economy here is booming, but no one feels especially good about it. When the cost of living is taken into account, billionaire-brimming California ranks as the most poverty-stricken state, with a fifth of the population struggling to get by. Since 2010, migration out of California has surged.

The basic problem is the steady collapse of livability. Across my home state, traffic and transportation is a developing-world nightmare. Child care and education seem impossible for all but the wealthiest. The problems of affordable housing and homelessness have surpassed all superlatives — what was a crisis is now an emergency that feels like a dystopian showcase of American inequality.

Just look at San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi’s city. One of every 11,600 residents is a billionaire, and the annual household income necessary to buy a median-priced home now tops $320,000. Yet the streets there are a plague of garbage and needles and feces, and every morning brings fresh horror stories from a “Black Mirror” hellscape …

However, from these initial sweeping (and damning) observations the article’s scope suddenly narrows to a commentary on affordable housing.  The issues of public defecation and drug use, crime and disease simply evaporate.  Yes, Mr. Manjoo continues to stick it to the wealthy Progressive left, but the focus has shifted to complaining that they aren’t sufficiently living up to their stated beliefs on urban planning.

It was another chapter in a dismal saga of Nimbyist urban mismanagement that is crushing American cities. Not-in-my-backyardism is a bipartisan sentiment, but because the largest American cities are populated and run by Democrats — many in states under complete Democratic control — this sort of nakedly exclusionary urban restrictionism is a particular shame of the left.

By the article’s end a reader is left with the impression that if these unlivable cities would just modify their zoning laws the problems would be mostly solved.

Reading opposition to SB 50 and other efforts at increasing density, I’m struck by an unsettling thought: What Republicans want to do with I.C.E. and border walls, wealthy progressive Democrats are doing with zoning and Nimbyism. Preserving “local character,” maintaining “local control,” keeping housing scarce and inaccessible — the goals of both sides are really the same: to keep people out.

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Progressive logic: (1) the homeless are victims; (2) victims are all blameless; (3) white middle-class women are oppressors; (4) a victim raped an oppressor; (5) it’s therefore oppression to complain about being raped! Q.E.D.

By this sleight of mind Mr. Manjoo is able to acknowledge that which he sees without ever considering the implications for his Progressive ideology and his presumed personal superiority.  This purposeful myopia is a necessary consequence of Progressivism’s intentions-based reasoning and self-righteousness.  For, to even acknowledge the possibility of failure in policy or reasoning is to place in doubt their self-image of unquestionable superiority.  For Mr. Manjoo and many other Progressive activists this is the black hole whose event horizon cannot be ever crossed.  To do so would cause their entire identity to be obliterated.  Better to let the people in our cities suffer than for a Progressive activist to experience that worst of all fates — admitting that they aren’t perfect.

Narcissist-Self-love

My self-image of superiority is far more valuable than the health, well-being or very lives of those who live under my Progressive policies!

The Problem of Righteousness (6)

Narcissist-Self-love

The concept of an objectively real sovereign God has been replaced by that of a subjectively imagined sovereign-self in Western Civilization and much of Western Christianity.

The Self-Righteousness Compulsion (2)

The-Death-of-Truth1. Postmodernism

I have written at length about postmodernism’s impact on Christianity in general and the PCUSA in particular.

The Encyclopedia Britannica top-level definition of postmodernism is:

Postmodernism … in Western philosophy, a late 20th-century movement characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism; a general suspicion of reason; and an acute sensitivity to the role of ideology in asserting and maintaining political and economic power.

The same article goes on to explain the postmodern view of “truth.”

2. The descriptive and explanatory statements of scientists and historians can, in principle, be objectively true or false. The postmodern denial of this viewpoint—which follows from the rejection of an objective natural reality—is sometimes expressed by saying that there is no such thing as Truth.

The destructive consequences of this philosophy are obvious and can hardly be overstated.  Given that “political and economic power” is the only remaining value and that there “is no such thing as Truth,” then there is nothing wrong with the use of deceit or the talking of contradictory positions in the pursuit of raw power.

So, postmodernism has created the conditions by which identity politics can prosper.

The postmodernists built on the Marxist ideology, Peterson said. “They started to play a sleight of hand, and instead of pitting the proletariat, the working class, against the bourgeois, they started to pit the oppressed against the oppressor. That opened up the avenue to identifying any number of groups as oppressed and oppressor and to continue the same narrative under a different name.”

“It was no longer specifically about economics,” he said. “It was about power. And everything to the postmodernists is about power. And that’s actually why they’re so dangerous, because if you’re engaged in a discussion with someone who believes in nothing but power, all they are motivated to do is to accrue all the power to them, because what else is there?” he said. “There’s no logic, there’s no investigation, there’s no negotiation, there’s no dialogue, there’s no discussion, there’s no meeting of minds and consensus. There’s power.”

Berkeley-Protesters

“By Any Means Necessary” (BAMN) protest in Berkeley California

What we see here is the emergence of a dominant organizing ideology built of the rejection of truth and the embrace of power at all costs.  This elite cohort doesn’t consider itself to be “righteous” because they conform to any objective standard of morality.  Rather, they are “righteous” because they have, by any and all means necessary, occupied positions of power in our civilization.  They have made it absolutely clear that they will utilize any and all means possible to safeguard and extend that power.  Thus, they are “righteous” because they have achieved the power to crush anyone who dares to challenge them.

Can there be any less fit a foundation upon which to base the moral life of a civilization?

Template-5col2. Social Media Enabled Mobs

I have also previously discussed this phenomenon within context of the gay-marriage debate.  However what is observed for this specific case is clearly applicable to our general political discourse.

The tragic fact is that almost every person with exposure to the public square lives in fear of being targeted by the social justice mob.  One group that is particularly terrorized by this mob are the public “intellectuals” (Jonathan Kay on the tyranny of Twitter: How mob censure is changing the intellectual landscape).

… you will find intellectuals who have made extraordinary financial sacrifices to pursue their artistic or activist passions, and whose entire livelihood hinges on a thin patchwork of government grants, modest book advances, sessional teaching contracts, and honoraria from small journals, websites and magazines. Just one wrong Tweet or misplaced open-letter signature can send these people back to a life working for Uber or foodora.

The following excerpt provides an accurate summary of the environment that has been created social media’s mobs.

rights-feelingsTheir behavior is so insane, their on-command ability to jump on anyone or anything who deviates from the now-current party line so absolute, their arguments so ridiculous, it took me a while to realize what they’re doing is the equivalent of Mao’s brigades of aggressive young people fanning out to rural areas to teach the peasants how to think and what to do.

Our colleges and universities are purposefully creating hordes of these cultural revolution goons … tragic credentialed, entitled lives with no actual useful skills but masters of personal and civilizational destruction.  These hordes of social justice warriors have conquered much of our mass media and social networks (including the private companies that deliver them).

Even people living generally non-public lives fear that they could be, for mysterious reasons, singled out and viciously attacked by this mob.  Small business owners who offer services to the general public are particularly vulnerable.

And so, we come to the crux of our current predicament, that being the increasing inhumanity in our supposed pursuit of social good (as profoundly explained by Dr. McClay).

The presence of vast amounts of unacknowledged sin in a culture, a culture full to the brim with its own hubristic sense of world-conquering power and agency but lacking any effectual means of achieving redemption for all the unacknowledged sin that accompanies such power: This is surely a moral crisis in the making …. The rituals of scapegoating, of public humiliation and shaming, of multiplying morally impermissible utterances and sentiments and punishing them with disproportionate severity, are visibly on the increase in our public life. They are not merely signs of intolerance or incivility, but of a deeper moral disorder, an Unbehagen that cannot be willed away by the psychoanalytic trick of pretending that it does not exist.

While these social justice mobs are comprised by a small percentage of the population their weaponization of social media multiplies their power many times over.  Given this threat people have become increasingly protective of their public “self-righteousness” persona, either by aggressively identifying with the mob’s current talking points or by retreating into sullen, fearful silence.  Both of these responses are detrimental to an understanding of human righteousness that leads to a proper mix of humility and responsibility.

The Travail of the United Methodist Church (2)

UMC-Tunnel

The travail of the UMC has deepened due to the recent decision of the Judicial Council.

The UMC’s nine-member Judicial Council convenes a four-day meeting in Evanston, Illinois, … to consider legal challenges to the Traditional Plan. If the plan is upheld, it would take effect for U.S. churches on Jan. 1. If parts of it are struck down, that would likely trigger new debate at the UMC’s next general conference in May 2020.

The Council ruled last Friday to:

uphold major components of its recent plan bolstering bans on same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBT pastors.

The impending solution to inner turmoil seems to be a parting of ways.

As reported by ABC News:

The Rev. Tom Lambrecht, general manager of the conservative Methodist magazine Good News, hailed the council’s ruling as a “strong affirmation” of the Traditional Plan’s core elements.

He suggested that Methodists opposed to the plan should start negotiating to leave the UMC and form a new denomination that would allow them to adopt LGBT-inclusive policies.

And there’s also this:

Opponents of the Traditional Plan will have a chance to overturn it at the UMC’s next general conference in May 2020. But Lambrecht said he agreed with other analysts who predict the UMC’s conservative bloc will be even stronger then.

So, one way or another the largest Mainline denomination in the United States is likely heading fo a split.  It’s too early to determine how that split will occur, but 2020 may be a decisive, traumatic year for the UMC.

Erasing the Old Testament (4)

Peter’s Pentecost Sermon

Pentecost is a central day in the Christian calendar, which the Encyclopaedia Britannica describes as follows.

Pentecost, also called Whitsunday, (Pentecost from Greek pentecostē, “50th day”), major festival in the Christian church, celebrated on the Sunday that falls on the 50th day of Easter. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and other disciples following the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2), and it marks the beginning of the Christian church’s mission to the world.

After the descent of the Holy Spirit a large crowd of Jews from many nations gathered “because each one heard their own language being spoken” (Acts 2:6, NIV).  The Apostle Peter stood up to address them.  This was the first Christian sermon preached after Christ’s resurrection.  It is saturated with direct and indirect allusions to the Old Testament, which Peter demonstrates predicted and prepared the way for Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

The focus of comments on this sermon will be the Old Testament sources from which Peter proclaimed Jesus Christ to be “both Lord and Messiah.” Excerpts from The International Bible Commentary (F.F. Bruce General Editor, (c) 1986) will be indicated by purple text.  My comments are in regular unbolded black text.



14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!

The gathered crowd initially attributed the Apostle’s ecstatic behavior to drunkenness. 

16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

The conditions for quotation from the OT are fulfilled if we understand that elements of Joel’s prophecy were seen in the happening of Pentecost, and that the cross and resurrection had opened a new age which would culminate in universal spiritual blessing.

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Peter appealed to the personal knowledge of the Palestinian Jews when he spoke of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, whose mighty works showed that he was attested by God as His messenger to Israel.  The terrible responsibility for rejection of such a Man fell squarely on the shoulders of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  … But their unreasoning hatred became the instrument for the fulfillment of the divine plan established in the fore knowledge of God.

25 David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay.  32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.

Both Peter and Paul (13:35) appeal to Ps. 16 as a prophecy of the Resurrection.  Much of the Psalm expressed David’s own experiences, but certain elements — as in all the messianic Psalms — could only be fulfilled in his greater Son. Note especially the phrase: Nor will you let your Holy One see decay.  As a prophet David saw that the resurrection life of his descendent would be the means of fulfilling the covenant (2 Sam. 7:12-17; Ps. 89:3,4, 26-37; 132:11-18).

33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’

The verb raised of 2:32 refers to the resurrection to which the apostles bore witness, but it leads directly to the exaltation of the Messiah as prophesied by Ps. 110:1.

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Prophecy and contemporary fact had been welded into a strong argument which was the basis of a direct appeal to all Israel.  God had constituted Jesus, the crucified one, both Lord and Messiah for His people, despite their tragic rebellion.



Thus, with this sermon the eternal, unbreakable bond between the Old Testament and the Gospel of Jesus Christ was confirmed.

The Apostle Paul’s Epistles and sermons are no less saturated in what we now call the Old Testament. But then they were the only existing Scriptures by which the Gospel of Jesus Christ could be proclaimed.  By them and the Holy Spirit’s power tens, then hundreds, then thousands then tens-of thousands were converted to Christ.  The fact that we now also have the New Testament makes the Old Testament no less potent a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Travail of the United Methodist Church (1)

UM-LOGO

The United Methodist Church (UMC) is by far the largest Mainline Protestant denomination in the United States.  However, the UMC is not a national, but rather a worldwide Christian denomination.  The following table from the official UMC web site bears out this statement.

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Note that of the over 12.6 million worldwide members 45% live in Africa, Asia and Europe.  However, these non-U.S. Christians must on average form larger congregations since they comprise only 28% of the total 44,122 local churches.

Now, as a Reformed Christian I have some theological differences with the UMC.  However, those differences in no way affect my acceptance of Methodists as my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Yes, there are theological debates that can affect our Christian fellowship, but certainly not our love for one another as followers of Christ.

Over the past week the UMC delegates at a special denomination conference voted to strengthen its teachings “against homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and LGBT clergy.”  This result was a repudiation of the denomination’s bishops and top clergy, and thus was met with surprise and acrimony.

Given the experience of the PCUSA on this issue my expectation is that the minority of Progressive members led by the denominational leadership will continue pounding away on the majority until they either capitulate or leave.  Yes, in the above cited article there is talk of “more than 700 churches who are thinking about making an exit” due to the UMC’s action.  However, given that they have on their side the UMC leadership and the secular Progressive dominated institutions, I’m very doubtful that they will exit.  Note that the likely inflated 700 churches is only 1.6% of the total.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the UMC delegates took into consideration the PCUSA’s experience after allowing gay ordination and marriage. The most visible aspect of the ensuing debacle is the unprecedented loss of membership and churches that occurred between 2011 and 2017. Over that time span the PCUSA experienced a net loss of 601,000 members and 1146 churches. Thus, over this period the denomination lost a net of almost 30% of its membership and almost 12% of its churches.   Thus, had the UMC conference voted to allow gay ordination and marriage the flight for the exits by orthodox members and churches would have likely dwarfed the inflated 700 churches who threaten exit for the opposite reason.

mere-christianityThus, I predict that this victory for orthodox Christian teaching will lead not to peace but rather to an extended period of denominational travail.  Given that the 45% of membership outside of the U.S. appears to be more strongly orthodox the UMC may be able to “hold the line.”  The stakes for orthodox Christianity (of the “Mere Christianity” understanding) in the United States could not be higher.  Therefore I will pay attention to and report on future developments.  We should also pray that the UMC will not succumb to the post-Christian onslaught, as has the PCUSA.

Environmentalism Becomes a Death Cult (8)

culture+shock+deathwishClosing Thoughts

How did we go from a movement that sought to create a cleaner, safer environment for human beings to one that fantasizes about their extinction?  A starting point for understanding is the observation that the trajectory of environmentalism fits a pattern.  That is, many of the the people (perhaps a plurality) who inhabit Western Civilization have been convinced in general that their civilization’s sins are so heinous that it deserves to die.  And, that they, as beneficiaries of that civilization bear those sins in their persons as unearned, even stolen privilege.  Therefore their very lives and those of their fellows are not worth valuing or defending.

Look, for example, at the Open Borders movement.  What these people are literally saying is that the seven-billion people who live outside of the United States and European Union have the innate, absolute right to not only immigrate here, but also to be socially and financially supported by those already here.  This position is nothing other than a civilizational death wish made practical by immigration policies.

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The Progressive Left’s attitude about the lives of their fellow citizens on display.

Of course this idea doesn’t envision our actual deaths, but rather our nation’s and culture’s death.  However, there is plenty of the murderous that will occur as our nation collapses into chaos.  This certainty causes not the slightest concern in our moral betters who demand this path be taken, as they imagine that they will sit atop this new world, thus living as well or better than they do now.  For those who suffer the consequences, well, they’re just finally getting what they richly deserve.

The underlying psychological cause of this guilt in the general population was brilliantly summarized in an essay titled “The Strange Persistence of Guilt,” by Dr. Wilfred M. McClay in The Hedgehog Review.

art-sd_guiltWhat makes the situation dangerous for us, as Fredriksen observes, is not only the fact that we have lost the ability to make conscious use of the concept of sin but that we have also lost any semblance of a “coherent idea of redemption,” the idea that has always been required to accompany the concept of sin in the past and tame its harsh and punitive potential. The presence of vast amounts of unacknowledged sin in a culture, a culture full to the brim with its own hubristic sense of world-conquering power and agency but lacking any effectual means of achieving redemption for all the unacknowledged sin that accompanies such power: This is surely a moral crisis in the making—a kind of moral-transactional analogue to the debt crisis that threatens the world’s fiscal and monetary health. The rituals of scapegoating, of public humiliation and shaming, of multiplying morally impermissible utterances and sentiments and punishing them with disproportionate severity, are visibly on the increase in our public life. They are not merely signs of intolerance or incivility, but of a deeper moral disorder, an Unbehagen that cannot be willed away by the psychoanalytic trick of pretending that it does not exist.

This is the description of a culture in which the affected members feel guilt-ridden about every possible ill that exists in this fallen world because they have been convinced that it all can somehow be traced back to them as the prime cause.  Therefore, they have no right to defend their right to exist.

But we can’t leave uncommented upon the misanthropy of the elite Progressive class that uses these ideologies of self-destruction to obtain and hold power.  Victor Davis Hanson, in an article titled “A License to Hate,” provided a dozen specific examples of elite hatred of and invective against a plurality of their fellow citizens.  He concluded with these thoughts.

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Rick Wilson characterized Donald Trump’s supporters as his “credulous rube ten-toothed base” on CNN

What does all this hate speech signify?

One, there is terrible frustration among both the progressive Left (and the Never Trump Right whose luminaries have mused about replacing a supposed spent white working class with purportedly more energetic immigrants). So far Trump has not been stopped. His foreign and domestic agendas often find success and resonate with about 40-45 percent of the American people. Much of the uncouthness, then, reflects their own frustrations and sense of alienation that millions of Americans have tuned them out.

Second, most of the slurs are voiced by elites, especially politicos, journalists, and celebrities. Perhaps their angst is driven by class—as in how can their own superior logic and reasoning fail to resonate with 63 million voters? Answer: Trump voters are hopelessly obtuse to the point that they cannot even take care of their own personal hygiene or are now descending into simian status.

jim-carrey-ape-tweet

Jim Carey tweeted a picture of Trump supporters as apes who have devolved from MAGA hat wearing humans

Third, cowardice plays a role. Those who slander the deplorables and irredeemables assume that they can say almost anything and expect no pushback, given the white working classes lack the romance of the poor and the supposed panache of the elite. A race to the bottom develops in which the more the hatred, the more the clicks and the media exposure. Minority critics expect their own identity politics affiliations to shield them from criticism. Wealthy white elites virtue-signal their disgust for those without privilege as a way of ensuring that those like themselves, who most certainly enjoy privilege, are rewarded with ideological exemptions for it.

Finally, we are learning that the entire idea of political correctness was never much about universal ideas of tolerance of the other, or insistence that language and protocols must not stigmatize individuals by lumping them into stereotyped and dehumanized collective groups.  What we are witnessing, instead, is that it is fine to demonize millions, from their appearance to their purported hygiene and smell to affinities with feces and apes—if it serves political or cultural agendas.

In sum, cultural progressivism is about raw power, not principle.

How large of a step is it between visceral, dehumanizing hatred of fellow Americans and concluding that the world would be a much better place without their evil influence?  Let’s hope that we are not on our way to finding out.

Environmentalism Becomes a Death Cult (5)

1029326-evo-morales-quote-sooner-or-later-we-will-have-to-recognise-that
Setting the Stage

How does a cult transition into a death cult?  While I don’t claim to have a general answer, for the case of environmentalism it appears to have been converted by a combination of frustration and extreme misanthropy.  The frustration occurred because a solid and persistent majority of the human race has resisted embrace of radical environmental ideology and its proposed policies.  For brainwashed cult members this resistance in the face of “indisputable” facts can only be caused by a combination of stupidity and evil.  This leads directly to misanthropy, since the human race has demonstrated its unworthiness by resisting.

But there is a third factor, that being the earth conceived as a living entity that has been victimized by the human race.  So, the pathetically insane logic of radical environmentalism concludes that this “victim” can only be saved if its incorrigible victimizers are removed.  That genocidal idea has recently transitioned from the radical fringes of environmentalism to its mainstream.  In this post I will trace what appear to be the two primary steps by which this outcome has occurred.  In the following post I will explain why I believe it has entered the mainstream of environmental thought.

Humans are a Virus on Mother Earth

Have you noticed this theme regularly occurring in Hollywood movies?

The Matrix (1999)

While likely not the original, my first experience occurred while watching The Matrix.  Here we encounter a world:

In the near future, a computer hacker nicknamed Neo discovers that all life on Earth may be nothing more than an elaborate facade created by a malevolent cyber-intelligence, for the purpose of placating us while our life essence is “farmed” to fuel the Matrix’s campaign of domination in the “real” world.

humans-are-a-disease-a-virusNear the movie’s climax, Agent Smith, a

super-powerful computer programs devoted to snuffing out Neo and the entire human rebellion

shares his insights with a key character:

Because humans spread to an area, consume the natural resources and, to survive, must spread to another area, Smith says we are not mammals but viruses, the only other creature that acts that way.

So, yes, it is a villain who says this, but one who represents a force so beyond humanity that it has been able to enslave us without our even realizing.  Surely this creates credibility for the idea.

Although there are numerous examples along the way, let’s jump ahead 19 years to document the flowering of this idea into its current misanthropy.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

the-day-the-earth-stood-stillIn this remake of the original:

At a McDonald’s, Klaatu meets with a Mr. Wu. We learn that he is another alien who had been assigned by the same group of alien civilizations to live with the humans for 70 years. Upon learning from him of humanity’s destructive tendencies, Klaatu decides that humans shall be exterminated to ensure that the planet with its rare ability to sustain complex life can survive. Mr. Wu decides to stay on Earth, having seen another side to humanity that he loves. Klaatu can’t see this love so he orders smaller spheres previously hidden on Earth to begin taking animal species off the planet. This is compared to Noah and his ark and the flood that destroys the world.

While humanity is ultimately spared, it is not without a consequence that will warm the heart of radical environmentalists.  The visiting space ship emits:

a massive EMP which destroys GORT, saving humanity, but at the price of Earths technology becoming useless and immobile.

The Happening (2008)

thehappeningposter3_partIn this movie it is not aliens who threaten humanity’s destruction, but rather:

The man suggests to Elliot and Alma that the toxin is produced by plants. He explains the way plants can communicate with other plants, and the way they can release chemicals to get rid of specific pests.

That’s right, Mother Earth has decided that we humans are pests that need to be eradicated.  The ending of this movie does not bode well for the future of we human “pests.”

Humans are No Better (and likely worse) than Animals

love-animals-moreAlthough this idea appears to have germinated in the animal rights movement, it’s easy to see how a denigrated humanity supports our demotion to just another animal.  This idea is undeniably in our cultural mainstream.  For example, the BBC has published an article titled: “Humans are nowhere as special as we like to think.”  The Huffingtonpost has published an article titled: “Top Scientific Minds Declare That We Are Just One Among Many Animals.” And the Boston Globe has published an article that asks: “Why is history always about humans?

be-kind-to-animals-they-are-better-than-humans-32340529Who among us hasn’t talked to people who proudly proclaim our equality (or even inferiority) to animals?  How confident would you be to proclaim humanity’s superiority to animals in a social setting with many people around?  That this idea has penetrated deeply into many people’s consciences can hardly be doubted.

Commentary

What we are observing here is the mass marketing of human self-hatred.  I have previously discussed the faux-moral superiority sought through hatred of your nation or civilization.  Thus this phenomenon is simply a generalization of this growing psychological aberrancy.  Once the human race has been dethroned from being created “in God’s image” to just another animal or worse, the barrier to imaginging the blessings of our eradication is lowered to the point that it can be crossed without fear of social opprobrium.  In fact, as we shall see in the next post, it now leads to a platform at the top of our social hierarchy.