Thursday, December 5, 2013

Conveniently Christian

Say, remember this episode from the 2008 Presidential campaign?

That got a lot of people exercised...though, given the unprecedented weakness of the McCain campaign, not quite exercised enough to make a difference. Democrats, the party of the irreligious Left, have been hostile to religious faith, specifically Christian faith, for decades now. Casting aspersions on "religion," which the base will always interpret to mean Christianity, is an effective way for a Democrat to "rally the troops."

But soft! What light through yonder skull doth break:

(KATV) Sen. Mark Pryor is out with a new TV ad offering a Biblical solution to the already heated 2014 Senate race in Arkansas.

Pryor's campaign said the ad will begin airing on Wednesday. In the 30 second ad, Pryor speaks directly to the camera about his faith in the Bible. The ad is a substantial purchase for the campaign and will run statewide.

"I'm not ashamed to say that I believe in God, and I believe in His word. The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers. Only God does. And neither political party is always right," Pryor says in the ad. "This is my compass. My North Star. It gives me comfort and guidance to do what's best for Arkansas."

Pryor ends the ad saying he supports the message because "This is who I am, and what I believe."

Pryor is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country, partly because of his party line support of the Affordable Care Act and as his campaign is forced to deal with low approval numbers of Pres. Obama in Arkansas....

Pryor is facing Republican Congressman Tom Cotton, who is vacating his seat in the 4th congressional district. Though Cotton's campaign will continue to press upon Obamacare, Pryor's campaign has recently changed the narrative in the state to reach the more than half a million seniors receiving Medicare. Pryor's campaign ran an ad hitting Cotton over his support to turn Medicare into a voucher system and raise the eligibility age to 70, spurring Cotton to respond....

Pryor's ad saying "neither political party is always right" plays closely with his recent stance in the Senate, voting against his party and with Republicans against the nuclear option in the Senate. Pryor was one of three Democrats who parted with his party on that issue.

Mind you, on the big issue of the day, ObamaCare, Pryor stood with his party against the American people:

Whether Pryor maintains today that his vote, which was essential to the passage of the "Affordable Care Act," was "what's best for Arkansas," is unclear and will probably remain so. But the fascinating aspect of Pryor's ad is his emphasis of his supposed faith.

Democrats, as hostile as their decades-long behavior has been toward Americans' traditional religions, will nevertheless scream about their "faith" and how it informs their politics whenever they're challenged on the subject. More, they'll counterattack the challenger: "How dare you question my faith!" John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and the Cuomos are recent, prominent examples of this syndrome.

It gets worse. Is there a Christian remaining in these United States who truly believes that Barack Hussein Obama is a Christian too?

Obama's supposed Christianity is molecule-deep: just enough of a veneer to allow his boosters to snarl "How dare you question his faith!" at anyone who dares to do so. He doesn't attend services. He doesn't respect Christian traditions, nor presidential traditions that touch on Christianity. He pays more attention and more lip service to Islamic law and traditions than to anything from the Judeo-Christian line of development. He certainly doesn't love his enemies, to judge by his conduct.

(For the record, I don't think Obama is a Muslim. Indeed, I don't think he holds to any recognized religious creed. Any such attachment would interfere with his worship of himself.)

The moral should be obvious. These...persons recognize how important Christianity in our high officials is and has always been to the American electorate. They don't need to be sincerely Christian; indeed, that would impede them once they reach the offices they seek. They just have to "fake it" well enough to get elected. Had Obama not been "brought into the fold" by Reverend Jeremiah "God Damn America!" Wright, he would have had no shot at the presidency. He might not have reached the Senate.

Cosmetic Christianity, it seems, is better than avowed irreligion. At least, it's that way for political purposes. Ask Mark Pryor.

The various Christian denominations differ on a number of things, most notably abortion, divorce, and sexual conduct. However, they are united around the Noachite Commandments:

Then someone came up to him and said, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" And He said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." He said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and your mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." [Matthew 19:16-19]

Government's penchants for theft and false witness should make any sincere Christian extremely uneasy about contact with it, approaching absolutely unwilling to be involved with it at any level. Make no mistake: to confiscate from unwilling Peter is theft no matter whether or not any of the proceeds reach Paul. The insertion of government, the supposedly disinterested servant of the "general welfare," as the confiscator makes no difference whatsoever.

But worse in our time is government's habit of lying to its subjects. When the State pursues a new imposition on the people, the "general welfare" bit is trotted out more often than any other rationale.

But what if the new law, tax, regulation or what-have-you doesn't serve the "general welfare?" Quite often, the "service" is demonstrably negative: things get generally worse instead of better. At that point, wouldn't it be the Christian thing for our political masters to say "Oops! Sorry, we got it wrong. We'll undo it at once" -- ?

Among other things, that would make our rulers' repentance a bit easier to believe -- and repentance is the precondition for forgiveness. But this past century it's almost never happened. The one exception I can name is the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment.

"General welfare" rationales are rooted in the scheme of political thought called utilitarianism: "the greatest good for the greatest number." As I wrote long ago at The Palace of Reason:

Utilitarianism attempts to supplant the concept of rights, which [Jeremy] Bentham and his followers deemed too abstract, with the concept of collective utility: "the greatest good for the greatest number." In this formulation, the actions of the State could and should be justified entirely on the basis of the results they achieve, or, alternately, how well they "work." Utilitarianism was prominent in the thinking of early American socialists such as Edward Bellamy, Herbert Croly, and Charles Sanders Peirce.

But collective utility presupposes many things:

  1. Defensible concepts of "good" and "better" that can be applied to collectives;
  2. Accuracy in the formulation of policy to achieve what's deemed as "good" or "better,"
  3. Continuity of policy, once formulated, until the sought for "good" or "better" has been achieved,
  4. The moral defensibility of policies formulated "in good faith" even after they've failed.

All four of these suppositions are provably unsound, usually by their own internal logic.

If "good" and "better" are applicable to a collective, then by implication individual choice by any member of the collective must be irrelevant, perhaps even invalid. Yet decisions about "good" and "better" must be made somehow, whether by majority vote or by some designated planner or planners. In the first case, collective utility comes up hard against the ephemeral nature of the collective: it has no enduring identity. Its component individuals will change over time, by death, procreation, association or disassociation, which can easily lead to changes in the majority's verdicts about "good" and "better." But if the collective's decisions can change in such a fashion, with no "upper limit" on how fast they can change, under what circumstances, or in response to what developments, then how seriously can we take the concept of collective "good"?

In the second case, where designated planners decide on "good" and "better" for the collective, the utilitarians have reintroduced individual choice. The sole difference here is that some individuals are deciding on "good" and "better" for many others, rather than each man deciding for himself.

It is obvious that many a State policy formulated to bring about some well-conceived end has failed to do so. Sometimes the failure was inherent in the policy conception; sometimes it was the result of discontinuity in administration or application. What matters is that the result upon which the policy was founded was not achieved. How, then, shall we defend, morally or practically, the imposition of collective decision-making that overrode individuals' claims to rightful autonomy, when the very good they were promised in exchange for their rights has failed to materialize? Shall we make restitution to those who were deprived of their lives, liberties, or properties in service to the unachieved goal? If so, what becomes of collective utility's conceptual superiority to individual rights? If not, why should individuals agree to submit to the usurpation of their rights, however conceived, in the first place?

It becomes clear from such simple analyses that utilitarianism in theory reduces to absolutism in practice.

What's seldom mentioned in discussions of utilitarianism is how anti-Christian it is. It explicitly rationalizes doing harm to some innocents if that harm would result in an increase in "the greatest good for the greatest number." Given that it almost always fails to produce the practical results claimed for it, shrugging aside the moral objections to it will not save it. Nor will it save those who impose it on their subjects.

Some politicians, such as Mark Pryor, ask for our forgiveness. Yet they do not repent and mend their ways. That's not Christian conduct, nor would any degree of attendance at Sunday services make a difference to it.

We will make no progress toward regaining the freedom we have lost until we resolve as a people to call things by their right names -- and to deny names and labels to those whose conduct contradicts them, no matter how vituperatively they and their boosters might respond.

It is not enough to claim to be a Christian. He who routinely violates the Commandments must not be permitted the appellation. It is not enough to claim to be a patriot. He who on several occasions has deliberately worked against his nation's interests, especially in war and international dealings, must be challenged on his "patriotism" regardless of his response.

Confucius regarded such corrections as fundamental to the health of a polity:

Zi-lu said, "The ruler of Wei has been waiting for you, in order with you to administer the government. What will you consider the first thing to be done?"

The Master replied, "What is necessary to rectify names."

"So! indeed!" said Zi-lu. "You are wide off the mark! Why must there be such rectification?"

The Master said, "How uncultivated you are, Yu! A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve.

If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things.

If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.

When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish.

When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded.

When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.

Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately.

What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect."

[The Analects of Confucius, XIII, 3]

I'm sure Christ would have agreed.

1 comment:

agraves said...

If Obama lived in Confucius' time he probably would have had both hands, feet and head removed early on. My feeling about Christ is that he was speaking to Spirit in man, that's why he was not understood and is hard to follow today. I believe the Sermon on the Mount was about achieving the life in Heaven and not a guide book for everyday life which is one reason the Jews of the day rejected him. The New Testament is a spiritual book concerning the after life and its reward. It is the first of its kind and I think is still virtually ignored. Alex