Do It Right The First Time

salute

I want to share a little story with you.

My scoutmaster (we’ll call him Scott) once gave a Scoutmaster Minute that has stayed with me for almost 10 years.

The incident took place during his time in the Army. Scott was an officer, and had just gotten off a brutal shift that had lasted nearly 24 hours with no rest. He joked that at the time he thinks he was taking coffee intravenously just to stay awake. Anyway, as he walked to his barracks, a very nervous looking soldier wearing civilian slacks and a white t-shirt approached him. He said, “Sir, can I have a word with you?”

Scott was about to say yes, when it registered with him that the soldier who was addressing him was not in uniform. Sternly, he rebuked the soldier and said, “If you’re going to address a superior officer, you need to be in uniform. Go change and then come back and talk to me.” The soldier protested at first, but Scott was firm. The soldier left and returned in his uniform, but it was disheveled and unkept. Scott again rebuked the soldier for his unprofessional appearance, and sent him back a second time. This time, the soldier took care that his appearance was professional and worthy of standing before the superior officer.

This time, Scott was satisfied. He said, “Now that you’re dressed appropriately, let’s take a walk. What did you want to talk to me about?”

Nervously, the soldier said, “Sir, I’ve been very depressed for a long time. Tonight, I told myself I was going to go out, ask to talk to the first person I saw, and then kill myself in front of them.”

Scott was shocked! The soldier continued, “But after you sent me back to put on my uniform, it gave me time to think, and now I’m not sure what I want.”

Scott spent the rest of the evening counseling the soldier, who ultimately decided not to take his own life. The moral of the story? Standing on ceremony may be a hassle sometimes, but there are good reasons for it.

Never underestimate the impact of insisting that things be done the right way, the first time. Because Scott insisted that the soldier follow the proper protocols of respect, the man’s life was saved.

Are Blacks Being Eliminated in the US?

 

Whitney Curtis/The New York Times

Whitney Curtis/The New York Times

You’re probably already familiar with the events occurring in Ferguson, Missouri where an 18 year old unarmed black man named Mike Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer. The response from both social media and the ground has been that this is yet another instance of racist white cops killing unarmed black men in what is clearly an indication of systematic racism. The media has had a field day with the story, and it has clogged news sources for weeks.

I’m not here to argue that Mike Brown was or wasn’t at fault. Nor am I here to defend or deny my “white privilege”. I’m not even here to defend or condemn the white cop who did the shooting. You can find that material elsewhere.

I want to talk about a rap song that was trending on Facebook recently called “Don’t Shoot”. It’s a collaboration between rap artist The Game and about 13 other artists. Honestly, I rather enjoyed the song, which is a response to the events in Ferguson. While I don’t necessarily agree with their perspective, I liked it’s musical qualities and the fact that it was talking about something important (as opposed to sex, drugs, and alcohol). Check out the lyrics here.

One particular line stood out to me (from collab artist Problem): “The revolution has been televised/If I sit here and don’t do nothing/Homie that is genocide.” The message is that the African-American community needs to take notice of this event, and rise up and demand justice. This line really stood out to me because the rapper says that Mike Brown is the start of a black genocide and this is evidence that something needs to be done.

While I recognize that this is probably hyperbole to illustrate a point, Problem missed the mark. He decided it was worth his time to participate in a song and talk about black genocide from systematic racism. Yet, he won’t talk about the real black genocide that has been waged legally in this country for more than 40 years (and arguably much longer than that).

The Real Black Genocide

According to the CDC, since 1973 more than 16 million African-Americans have been aborted. If you think this is a solely a function of low-income demand for abortion, think again. The fact is that Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America, has a long and storied history of racism against minorities, particularly African-Americans. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a vocal advocate for eugenics (the philosophy, infamous for its adoption in Nazi Germany, that seeks to create a superior race by eliminating those “unfit to breed”), birth control, and sterilization.  Her legacy is steeped in racist ideology, and while it is true that eugenics was mainstream in America in the 1930’s, she had no scruples about pushing her elitist agenda. Many of her contemporaries openly praised Nazi eugenic methods as “humanitarian” and “scientific”, positions that Sanger herself fiercely defended. She was a member of the American Eugenics Society and was a speaker at Ku Klux Klan gatheringsYou can read all about the legacy of Sanger here.

(To be fair, it should be noted that Sanger did live in a time where the “science” of eugenics was wildly popular. Some have used this as an end-all justification for her actions, but the ends never justify the means. Leben Magazine has a great article about the American church and eugenics in their July 2014 issue, which I will post here when it is available online.)

Think this is just in the past? Think again. Planned Parenthood has never renounced any of its racist history and its highest national award is still called the Margaret Sanger Award. In 2008, the CDC data revealed that 42% of all abortions come from black women, yet African-Americans make up only 12.6% of the population. Abortion centers overwhelmingly target minority and traditionally African-American neighborhoods and Planned Parenthood has nearly 80% of their abortion centers in minority neighborhoods. Life Dynamics, a pro-life advocacy organization, did their own analysis of zip codes and found that abortion centers were most likely to be found in minority neighborhoods, and they published their survey and methodology for public scrutiny. The abortion rate among black women is five times higher than among white women and it has been reported that in some states, such as Mississippi, black women get 78% of the abortions. Planned Parenthood claims it does more than just abortions, but the fact is that they referred out a mere 5,000 women to adoption centers vs. the more than 350,000 abortions they performed in 2007. (And it only makes sense: abortion pays. According to Planned Parenthood’s own website, an abortion will run you anywhere from $300 to $1,700. That’s a nice chunk of profit which keeps the corporation motivated to keep bringing in abortion clients as opposed to referring to an adoption agency, which doesn’t pay. Some abortionists charge more than that, with late term abortions running between $2-3,000.)

In New York city, more black babies are aborted than are born alive, with 1,223 abortions for every 1,000 live births. Yet, suspiciously, the rate of white abortions is a mere 265 abortions per 1,000 live births.  Finally, in a full circle to the events in Ferguson, the current President of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, surmised that the events in Ferguson show us how important it is for people to have the choice to abort their children. (Interestingly enough, Richards’ echoes the sentiment expressed in a 1950 pamphlet distributed by the Human Betterment League of North Carolina, which advocated sterilization of “mental defectives”. They said, ” No child should be born to subnormal parents and denied a fair, healthy start in life.”) Ferguson is the kind of community that Planned Parenthood has historically worked to eliminate.

Injustice Demands A Response

Black genocide from racist cops in Missouri? No. The real holocaust has been going on for years, arguably since the end of slavery. The real black genocide has claimed more than 16 million victims at a rate of 363,000 a year, and is the number one killer in the black community. It masquerades as justice, flaunts itself as choice, and tears down the black community from the inside.

If rap artists are going to take a stand against injustice, against genocide, against evildoers, they need to start here. This is the real black genocide. Innocents are being slaughtered for profit, and the victims are disproportionately black. Worse yet, the worst offender of these crimes is a multi-million dollar pseudo-corporation that has hundreds of locations nationwide; the quintessential greedy conglomerate. When we ignore the decimation of the black population by abortion, we quietly fulfill the vision of the Margaret Sangers of the world; one where minorities are wiped out. This is the great civil rights debate of our day. The abortion industry in our country has its roots to an openly racist agenda and this is an agenda that has never been denied. Since 1973, over 25% of the black population has been eliminated through legal abortion.

I could go on and on about the racist practices of abortion practitioners, like how Planned Parenthood accepted donations that were specifically earmarked for black abortions. You can fool yourself into believing that it isn’t happening anymore, but the evidence points to the contrary. Want to help stop the black genocide? Start here. It’s much more important than what’s going on in Ferguson.

For more information about Planned Parenthood’s prolific racist history, watch the incredibly well-researched documentary Maafa 21.

 

Does Courtship Make Sense?

A "court ship"

A “court ship”

There’s an article that’s been floating around the Christian online community in the past week or so called “Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed” by Thomas Umstattdt. Like many who read it, I had some interesting thoughts and I would like to share them with you.

While I don’t agree with 100% of what the article says, I thought there were some valid points. It brought to mind certain facets of my relationship with my wife that I find are relevant to the discussion. Namely, we didn’t court. Or at least, we never said, “Hey guys! Guess what! We’re courting!” We never went on a “court” to dinner and a movie, and we certainly didn’t have 24 hour supervision that seems to characterize many courting relationships in many circles. I think it’s important to realistically look at how a relationship works.

Doug Wilson responded to the original article and rightly pointed out that no matter what model people use, the fact still remains that the relationship is comprised of sinful people who live in a sinful world, and you’re going to have to deal with sin. That’s true, but I find the original article more persuasive. Thomas Umstattd also posted a follow up where he answered some of the questions that his original post brought up.

Exclusive Relationships Invite Temptation

One of the most important things that Umstattd pointed out is that the way his grandmother dated was by having mandatory dates with different boys in order to maintain a balance without getting too attached to one or the other. He pointed out that this helped his grandmother (at least when she was young) develop skills to interact with the opposite sex as well as give her an idea of what she wanted in a man. Furthermore, it helped to calm emotional ties with boys by not making it an exclusive relationship.

Courtship, in many of its forms, emphasizes emotional and physical purity and seeks to guard that by adding layers of security on it (which in some cases, is properly interpreted as legalism). As Umstattd points out, this really just exacerbates the problem of trying to stay pure because the hurdles of simply getting into the relationship elevates it to a level of exclusivity that is far above what it needs to be. It is rightly noted that for many guys, just asking to court a girl is tantamount to asking for her hand in marriage. I remember bringing up this very point with my friends when I was in high school and we all agreed courtship was something to be avoided.

When I actually met my wife and we were dating/courting/”going steady”, purity was hard. Duh. Whenever you get a guy and girl together and they’re in love, purity will be hard. Sin makes it hard. The more exclusive the relationship is, the harder it is to fight back. It’s not a defect of relationships; it’s just a fact. My beef is that courtship often accelerates exclusivity prematurely, which makes temptation more intense because of the emotional commitment involved. I recognize that accountability is also a strong part of courting, but accountability does not kill temptation.

Opposite Sex Relationships Are What is Important

My wife and I both have always had strong opposite sex friendships which I believe was key in us meeting and getting married so quickly. We already knew what we wanted, and when we found it, what was the point in waiting? Furthermore, we were friends for a solid two years before we became “official”. We didn’t have a relationship that was closely supervised, which would have made it hard to get to really know each other. Insofar as courtship is about pursuing marriage, then yes, we courted because we always knew we wanted to get married. So in a sense, when we made our relationship official, it was kind of like the start of a very long engagement because we knew nothing would break it down.

I believe that we were unique because we had a good sense of what to look for in a partner. That sense came from having strong opposite-sex relationships prior to meeting. This is what I believe courtship harms. There is often a sense of apprehension among guys about approaching a girl and getting to know her if you believe that she or her father may interpret that as a signal towards courtship (read: engagement). This is what I believe Umstattd was getting at. Don’t kill the relationship before it’s had a chance to grow.

Maybe the system of exclusivity inadvertently invite more temptation and accountability only goes so far. We are what is flawed, and maybe having a system that discourages opposite sex friendships by invoking the specter of marriage prematurely ain’t the greatest.

I highly recommend reading both the original article and the Q&A response that clarifies some issues from the original article. It’s an issue worth thinking about.

What do you think?

 

More like this:

Why You Shouldn’t Wait For Marriage

3 Ultra-Stupid Pieces of Marriage Advice the World Gives You

Why “Marriage Isn’t for You” Is Wrong

Guys, Suits To Girls Are Like Lingerie to Us

suit

 

By now, many people have probably read the article published on the blog The Salt Collective wherein the author wrote about her “struggle” with men wearing suits and how hard it is to keep her thoughts pure around men wearing suits.

Now, the more you read the article the more it became apparent that it is somewhat satirical, meant to draw a parallel in the modesty debate about young women and how their choice of dress affects young men. Traditionally, the modesty debate has been a discussion of what girls should wear so her male counterparts steer clear of lusting.

Now, as I read this article (at the beginning, it’s much less like satire than the closing paragraph), I legitimately started questioning myself. “If this is a real problem, do I have a responsibility to do something about it? Like not wearing suits?” As I progressed along this line of thinking, I realized something. It’s kind of ridiculous. As soon as I considered that maybe I shouldn’t wear a suit to help my sisters in Christ, my immediate reaction to myself was, “Heck no! I love wearing suits; they look great. If a girl can’t handle it, that’s her problem!”

Suddenly, I felt like a girl picking out a swimsuit.

In that moment, I realized the point of that deliciously satirical article. We like to apply a massively one-sided standard to girls about this issue, and we justify it with the, “Men are visual, girls aren’t.” This is true, but as a married man, I can tell you I was a whole lot more sure of the truthfulness of that statement when I was single. When the standard is flipped on its head and applied to us, it seems a little silly.

Now, the point of all of this is not to just throw out our standards on everything modesty related. I myself have even written about “the two piece dilemma” and I (mostly) stand by what I wrote. Attractive women in bikinis can be a temptation. But so can attractive women in burqas. When my wife and I went to a Southern California beach recently, we both prayed that God would help us keep our thoughts pure because it’s a struggle for both of us.

I asked my wife about the suits article and she said, “A good-looking man in a suit is to a girl what an attractive girl in lingerie is to a guy.”

Let that sink in. The article wasn’t entirely satire! There was truthiness seeping from the insides!

I fear with this revelation, we may be forced to examine our own hearts instead of the various clothing choices of our peers. Do we need standards? Of course! But as the author of the above mentioned article said, “Remember:  upholding an impossible standard that will never remain static and is subject to the cultural, religious, or societal context within which it resides must ALWAYS trump your comfort, convenience, and ability to exist in a public space in whatever manner you choose.”

We need to be flexible and realistic with our standards, and put the Word of God first. Take responsibility for your own actions, and put God’s glory first. That, after all, is what really matters.

*Note, there’s a TON on this topic that could be said here but hasn’t. So please be reasonably discerning in not jumping to strange conclusions just because I didn’t mention it here. No, I’m not advocating for nude beaches. Relax.

 

 

The Worldview that Makes the Underclass

Image links to source

Image links to source

This is a really great article from Imprimis (publication of Hillsdale College) that discusses the mentality of poverty. It’s a really good read.

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ANTHONY DANIELS, who often writes under the penname Theodore Dalrymple, is the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Born in London in 1949, he qualified as a doctor in 1974 and has worked in various countries in Africa and elsewhere. From 1990 to 2005, he worked as a doctor and psychiatrist in a prison in Birmingham, England. He has written a column for the London Spectator for 14 years, and writes regularly forNational Review and the Wall Street Journal. He has published more than 20 books, including Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics & Culture of Decline, The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism, and Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on May 20, 2014, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Dearborn, Michigan.

I worked for 15 years as a doctor and psychiatrist in a general hospital in a poor area of a British city and in the prison next door, where I was on duty one night in three. The really dangerous people were in the hospital, perhaps because of the presence in the prison next door of very large uniformed men who exerted a strangely calming effect on the prisoners. In the hospital, I personally examined many thousands of patients who had attempted suicide or at least made a suicidal gesture (not quite the same thing of course). They were overwhelmingly from poor homes, and each patient told me of the lives of the three, four, or five people closest to them—and I spoke to many of those people as well. I could not, of course, have spoken to so many people, and heard about so many others, without some general impressions forming themselves in my mind. One abiding impression was of the violence of their lives, particularly that between the sexes—largely the consequence of the fluidity of relations between the sexes—and also of the devastating effect of prevalent criminality upon the quality of daily existence.

Before I did this work, I had spent a number of years working as a doctor in Africa and in other places in the Third World. I also crossed Africa by public transport, such as it was, and consequently saw much of that continent from the bottom up. These experiences also helped me in my understanding of what I was later to see in England. As Dr. Johnson put it, all judgment is comparative; or as Kipling said, “What should they know of England who only England know?” Indeed, what should anyone know of anywhere, who only that place knows?

On my return to England, I used to visit the homes of poor people as part of my medical duties. Bear in mind that I had returned from some of the poorest countries in the world, where—in one case—a single hen’s egg represented luxury and the people wore the cast-off clothes of Europe that had been donated by charity. When I returned to England, I was naturally inclined to think of poverty in absolute rather than in relative terms—as people not having enough to eat, having to fetch water from three miles away, and so forth. But I soon ceased to think of it in that fashion.

In the course of my duties, I would often go to patients’ homes. Everyone lived in households with a shifting cast of members, rather than in families. If there was an adult male resident, he was generally a bird of passage with a residence of his own somewhere else. He came and went as his fancy took him. To ask a child who his father was had become an almost indelicate question. Sometimes the child would reply, “Do you mean my father at the moment?” Others would simply shake their heads, being unwilling to talk about the monster who had begot them and whom they wished at all costs to forget.

I should mention a rather startling fact: By the time they are 15 or 16, twice as many children in Britain have a television as have a biological father living at home. The child may be father to the man, but the television is father to the child. Few homes were without televisions with screens as large as a cinema—sometimes more than one—and they were never turned off, so that I often felt I was examining someone in a cinema rather than in a house. But what was curious was that these homes often had no means of cooking a meal, or any evidence of a meal ever having been cooked beyond the use of a microwave, and no place at which a meal could have been eaten in a family fashion. The pattern of eating in such households was a kind of foraging in the refrigerator, as and when the mood took, with the food to be consumed sitting in front of one of the giant television screens. Not surprisingly, the members of such households were often enormously fat.

Surveys have shown that a fifth of British children do not eat a meal more than once a week with another member of their household, and many homes do not have a dining table. Needless to say, this pattern is concentrated in the lower reaches of society, where so elementary but fundamental a means of socialization is now unknown. Here I should mention in passing that in my hospital, the illegitimacy rate of the children born in it, except for those of Indian-subcontinental descent, was approaching 100 percent.

It was in the prison that I first realized I should listen carefully, not only to what people said, but to the way that they said it. I noticed, for example, that murderers who had stabbed someone always said of the fatal moment that “the knife went in.” This was an interesting locution, because it implied that it was the knife that guided the hand rather than the hand that guided the knife. It is clear that this locution serves to absolve the culprit, at least in his own mind, from his responsibility for his act. It also seeks to persuade the listener that the culprit is not really guilty, that something other than his decisions led to the death of the victim. This was so even if the victim was a man against whom the perpetrator was known to have a serious grudge, and whom he sought out at the other side of the city having carried a knife with him.

The human mind is a subtle instrument, and something more than straightforward lying was going on here. The culprit both believed what he was saying and knew perfectly well at the same time that it was nonsense. No doubt this kind of bad faith is not unique to the type of people I encountered in the hospital and the prison. In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Edmund, the evil son of the Earl of Gloucester, says:

This is the excellent foppery of the world: that when we are sick in fortune—often the surfeit of our own behaviour—we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars, as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!

In other words, it wasn’t me.

This passage points, I think, to an eternal and universal temptation of mankind to blame those of his misfortunes that are the natural and predictable consequence of his own choices on forces or circumstances that are external to him and outside his control. Is there any one of us who has never resorted to excuses about his circumstances when he has done wrong or made a bad decision? It is a universal human tendency. But in Britain, at any rate, an entire class of persons has been created that not only indulges in this tendency, but makes it their entire world outlook—and does so with official encouragement.

Let me take as an example the case of heroin addicts. In the 1950s, heroin addiction in Britain was confined to a very small number of people, principally in bohemian circles. It has since become a mass phenomenon, the numbers of addicts having increased perhaps two thousandfold, to something like 250,000 to 300,000. And with the statistically insignificant exception of members of the popular culture elite, heroin addiction is heavily concentrated in areas of the country such as the one in which I worked.

Heroin addiction has been presented by officialdom as a bona fide disease that strikes people like, shall we say, rheumatoid arthritis. In the United States, the National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction quite baldly as a chronic relapsing brain disease—and nothing else. I hesitate to say it, but this seems to me straightforwardly a lie, told to willing dupes in order to raise funds from the federal government.

Be that as it may, the impression has been assiduously created and peddled among the addicts that they are the helpless victims of something that is beyond their own control, which means that they need the technical assistance of what amounts to a substantial bureaucratic apparatus in order to overcome it. When heroin addicts just sentenced to imprisonment arrived, they said to me, “I would give up, doctor, if only I had the help.” What they meant by this was that they would give up heroin if some cure existed that could be administered to them that would by itself, without any resolution on their part, change their behavior. In this desire they appeared sincere—but at the same time they knew that such a cure did not exist, nor would most of them have agreed to take it if it did exist.

In fact, the whole basis of the supposed treatment for their supposed disease is rooted in lies and misconceptions. For example, research has shown that most addicts spend at least 18 months taking heroin intermittently before they become addicted. Nor are they ignorant while they take it intermittently of heroin’s addictive properties. In other words, they show considerable determination in becoming addicts: It is something, for whatever reason, that they want to become. It is something they do, rather than something that happens to them. Research has shown also that heroin addicts lead very busy lives one way or another—so busy, in fact, that there is no reason why they could not make an honest living if they so wished. Indeed, this has been known for a long time, for in the 1920s and 30s in America, morphine addicts for the most part made an honest living.

Withdrawal from opiates, the fearfulness of which, reiterated in film and book, is often given as one of the main reasons for not abandoning the habit, is in fact a pretty trivial condition, certainly by comparison with illnesses which most of us have experienced, or by comparison with withdrawal from other drugs. I have never heard an alcoholic say, for example, that he fears to give up alcohol because of delirium tremens—a genuinely dangerous medical condition, unlike withdrawal from heroin. Research has shown that medical treatment is not necessary for heroin addicts to abandon their habit and that many thousands do so without any medical intervention whatsoever.

In Britain at least, heroin addicts do not become criminals because they are addicted (and can raise funds to buy their drugs only by crime); those who take heroin and indulge in criminal behavior have almost always indulged in extensive criminal behavior before they were ever addicted. Criminality is a better predictor of addiction than is addiction of criminality.

In other words, all the bases upon which heroin addiction is treated as if it is something that happens to people rather than something that people do are false, and easily shown to be false. This is so whatever the latest neuro-scientific research may supposedly show.

I have taken the example of heroin addiction as emblematic of what, with some trepidation, I may call the dialectical relationship between the worldview of those at the bottom of society and the complementary worldview of what one might call the salvationist bureaucracy of the government. In the old Soviet Union there was a joke in which the workers would say to the party bosses, “We pretend to work and you pretend to pay us.” In the case of the heroin addicts, they might say, “We pretend to be ill, and you pretend to cure us.”

One of the possible dangers or consequences of such a charade is that it creates a state of dishonest dependency on the part of the addicts. They wait for salvation as Estragon and Vladimir wait for Godot in Samuel Beckett’s play; they wait for something that will never arrive, and that at least in some part of their mind they knowwill never arrive—but that officialdom persists in telling them will arrive someday.

Dishonest passivity and dependence combined with harmful activity becomes a pattern of life, and not just among drug addicts. I remember going into a single mother’s house one day. The house was owned by the local council; her rent was paid, and virtually everything that she owned, or that she and her children consumed, was paid for from public funds. I noticed that her back garden, which could have been pretty had she cared for it, was like a noxious rubbish heap. Why, I asked her, do you not clear it up for your children to play in? “I’ve asked the council many times to do it,” she replied. The council owned the property; it was therefore its duty to clear up the rubbish that she, the tenant, had allowed to accumulate there—and this despite what she knew to be the case, that the council would never do so! Better the rubbish should remain there than that she do what she considered to be the council’s duty. At the same time she knew perfectly well that she was capable of clearing the rubbish and had ample time to do so.

This is surely a very curious but destructive state of mind, and one that some politicians have unfortunately made it their interest to promote by promising secular salvation from relative poverty by means of redistribution. Whether by design or not, the state in England has smashed up all forms of social solidarity that are independent of it. This is not an English problem alone: In France the word solidarité, solidarity, has come to mean high taxation for redistribution by state officials to other parts of the population, which of course are neither grateful for the subventions nor find them sufficient to meet their dreams, and which are, in fact, partly responsible for their need for them in the first place. And not surprisingly, some of the money sticks to the hands of the redistributionist bureaucracy.

By a mixture of ideology and fiscal and social policies, the family has been systematically fractured and destroyed in England, at least in the lowest part of the society that, unfortunately, needs family solidarity the most. There are even, according to some researchers, fiscal and welfare incentives for parents at the lower economic reaches of society not to stay together.

Certainly the notions of dependence and independence have changed. I remember a population that was terrified of falling into dependence on the state, because such dependence, apart from being unpleasant in itself, signified personal failure and humiliation. But there has been an astonishing gestalt switch in my lifetime. Independence has now come to mean independence of the people to whom one is related and dependence on the state. Mothers would say to me that they were pleased to be independent, by which they meant independent of the fathers of their children—usually more than one—who in general were violent swine. Of course, the mothers knew them to be violent swine before they had children by them, but the question of whether a man would be a suitable father is no longer a question because there are no fathers: At best, though often also at worst, there are only stepfathers. The state would provide. In the new dispensation the state, as well as television, is father to the child.

A small change in locution illustrates a change in the character and conceptions of a people. When I started out as a doctor in the mid-1970s, those who received state benefits would say, “I receive my check on Friday.” Now people who receive such benefits say, “I getpaid on Friday.” This is an important change. To have said that they received their check on Friday was a neutral way of putting it; to say that they get paid on Friday is to imply that they are receiving money in return for something. But what can that something be, since they do not appear to do anything of economic value to anyone else? It can only be existence itself: They are being paid to continue to exist, existence itself being their work.

It has been said that the lamentable state of affairs I have described has been brought about by the decline, inevitable as we now see it, of the kind of industry that once employed millions of unskilled workers, whose wages, though low by today’s standards, were nevertheless sufficient to sustain a stable, though again by today’s standards not rich, society. And I do not think that this view can be altogether dismissed. But it is far from the whole story. One of the curious features of England in the recent past is that it has consistently maintained very high levels of state-subsidized idleness while importing almost equivalent numbers of foreigners to do unskilled work.

Let me here interject something about the intellectual and moral corruption wrought by the state in recent years—and I don’t know whether it applies to America. The governments of Britain, of both political parties, managed to lessen the official rate of unemployment by the simple expedient of shifting people from the ranks of the unemployed to the ranks of the sick. This happened on such a huge scale that, by 2006—a year of economic boom, remember—the British welfare state had achieved the remarkable feat of producing more invalids than the First World War. But it is known that the majority of those invalids had no real disease. This feat, then, could have been achieved only by the willing corruption of the unemployed themselves—relieved from the necessity to seek work and relieved to have a slightly higher subvention—but also of the doctors who provided them with official certificates that they knew to be bogus. And the government was only too happy, for propaganda purposes, to connive at such large-scale fraud. One begins to see what Confucius meant when he said, 2,500 years ago, that the first thing to do to restore a state to health was to rectify the names—in other words, to call things by their right names rather than by euphemisms.

There are three reasons that I can think of why we imported foreign labor to do unskilled work while maintaining large numbers of unemployed people. The first is that we had destroyed all economic incentive for the latter to work. The second is that the foreigners were better in any case, because their character had not been rotted; they were often better educated—it is difficult to plumb the shallows of the British state educational system for children of the poorest homes—and had a much better work ethic. And the third was the rigidity of the housing market that made it so difficult for people to move around once they had been granted the local privilege of subsidized housing.

I will leave you with an anecdote. As Mao Tse-tung might have put it, one anecdote is worth a thousand abstractions.

I had been asked by the courts to examine a young woman, aged 18, who was accused of having attacked and injured her 90-year-old great-grandmother, with whom she lived, while under the influence of alcohol and cannabis. She had broken her great-grandmother’s femur, but fortunately it did not prove fatal. (Incidentally, the homicide rate, it is said, would be five times higher than it is if we used the same medical techniques as were used in 1960.) I asked the young woman in the course of my examination whether her mother had ever been in trouble with the police.

“Yes,” she replied.

“What for?” I asked.

“Well, she was on the social,” she said—“on the social” in English argot means receiving welfare payments—“and she was working.”

“What happened?” I asked. “She had to stop working.”

She said this as if it was so obvious that my question must be that of a mental defective. Work is for pocket money, the public dole is the means by which one lives.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the view from the bottom, at least in Britain: but it is a view that has been inculcated and promoted from the top.

 

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And She Smiled As She Died

(c) eyes of odysseus. Click for source.

(c) eyes of odysseus. Click for source.

This is a poetic response to the viral video of Emily Letts, who filmed her abortion and posted it online. The video can be found here. It is non-graphic. My overall impression was just pure sadness and I tried to convey that here. I’m not attacking Ms. Letts, I’m just letting my emotions run their course over her decision. 

Raw, cold emotion

Nothing, I feel

An image of “progress”

On a cold silver reel.

 

Words are not with me

As violence starts smiling

I struggle for breath

And am not smiling.

 

A picture plays on the screen

Of a woman sweetly

She says her name is Emily

And this is her story.

 

She just wants to talk

She just wants to speak

To tell her story

Of a life she wants not to keep.

 

So she tells me what she’s going to do

Of how she plans this mistake to undo

Her mind is set, it can’t be changed

The child inside must not be named.

 

Her eyes, they smile

But her words cut deep

She lays on the table

And hums to a beat.

 

While the whirring machines

Stills another heart’s beat.

 

She admits it’s a baby

But what does that mean?

She says she’s not ready

To bring a child on the scene.

 

So she hums while the doctor

With his cold, gloved hands

Snuffs out the warm life

That she’d carried, unplanned.

 

She says, “I’m empowered”

Because it’s her choice,

To silence a child

Who has not a voice.

 

So she hums on the table

As she undoes her “mistake”

With a smile in her eyes,

At the life that she takes.

 

 

 

 

Why The Church Should Not Embrace Environmentalism

earthrise-wide This is a response to this article at Venn Magazine and this post has been submitted to the magazine for consideration. 

Words matter.

In our communications driven culture, it’s important to use the right language to convey our message. When we read certain words, we bring to the reading experience a host of associations, feelings, and memories. These are not easy things to ignore, and that makes the task of carefully choosing our words an important one.

Such is the case when we talk about the Church and environmentalism. The word “environmentalism” is fraught with political connotations, and is steeped in a long history of liberal progressivism. While the Church is given a charge to take care of our earthly home, the principles and language of this movement run contrary to God’s word.

In America, environmentalism began its political journey in the counter-culture of the 1960’s, which was a time of seeking spiritual fulfillment in anything but Christianity. In this atmosphere, environmentalism was infused with a spiritual quality of finding oneself through unity with nature, which has continued to this day. In this regard, environmentalism began as a movement that was about treating nature as deity, which flies in the face of a Christian ecology.

But in principle, shouldn’t at least some of the tenets of environmentalism appeal to Christians? After all, on the surface it’s about sustainability and making sure that the natural resources we have now are there for future generations. It’s about getting pollution out of our water and air so that we can breathe a little easier about the future of our world. Isn’t that something we should want? And on the surface, the answer is yes.

This is a world that we as Christians are absolutely called to preserve. There are hundreds of references throughout Scripture to Creation reflecting the glory of God (try Psalm 19 on for size). God created our world and took care to make it beautiful. He specifically told us to take care of the Earth, and to nurture it (Genesis 1:28). In fact, the first man Adam was primarily a gardener, whose task was to improve the Garden. Many of the patriarchs in the Old Testament were farmers and ranchers, who developed and cultivated the earth to bring forth abundance.

But the reason that Biblical Christianity stands in opposition to environmentalism is because a Biblical understanding of the world places the environment under the care and nurture of humankind, while still recognizing the inherent value of nature because God created it. Environmentalism in its widely understood form is practically a religion in of itself that places worship of nature above that of the Creator. In his book, Pollution and the Death of Man, Francis Schaeffer understood the modern environmentalist movement to be glorified pantheism (meaning it was an attempt to find salvation through a sense of oneness with nature). But Schaeffer also said that while man and nature are distinct, we have a responsibility to recognize that nature has value because God created it.

It is because of this spiritual ethos surrounding environmentalism that we should seek to stay away from aligning it with a Biblical view of ecology. Traditionally, Christians have used the terminology of “stewardship” to refer to our responsibility regarding nature. The terminology of “environmentalism” brings echoes of something very un-Christian with it and we should seek to avoid parading any “ism” around without investigating its roots. We want a Christ-centric view of the environment and because Christ has redeemed us in our entirety, including our speech, we should be careful to use words that reflect a Christ-centric ecology.

This is not just a matter of preference since the language of environmentalism is steeped in the counter-culture tradition of the 1960’s and a pantheistic view of the world. The associations, feelings, and historical meaning of “environmentalism” won’t go away simply because we start slapping a Christian label on it (just think of the debate among Christians about the pagan origins of our various holidays, a debate that has raged for many, many years). The language of stewardship rightly puts the emphasis on our God-given responsibility to care for what He has given us.

Let’s celebrate our Christian heritage and our charge from Jesus to take care of our home. Let’s recognize that nature has value because God created it. But let’s remember to use language that draws attention to the Creator over the creation.