Saturday, May 30, 2009

Poor Cleveland

Speaking of blighted civilization and the end of the world...

If you know anyone from Cleveland OH, you should pass this along. (There is a hidden "email this post" button below, but you have to look for it.)

Wasn't Dennis Kucinich the mayor of Cleveland?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Just Wondering

I stated in my usual flippant way about a year ago that if Obama were elected I would consider it a sign of God’s judgment getting seriously underway. Yet I was more than half serious. The Bible is emphatic in saying He will not always strive with man—there is an end to the pathetic metaphysical rebellion of creatures who would overthrow their creator, and all the forms that rebellion takes. I don’t consider the United States or any political entity the new Israel, nor do I think we are his “chosen people” in any covenantal sense, though we certainly are blessed in many ways. Yet I’ve wondered at the timeframe of this Christian and now post-Christian era, as it stretches into two millennia since His ascension and promise to return. Every generation, beginning with the evangelists and apostles who themselves walked the earth with Christ, were looking for the end of days in their lifetimes, since the signs of the end of the age He gave have been plausibly ascribed to every previous generation. Certain it is that some generation will be the one which sees His coming—but all believers at all times were given to understand that it could be any day. The world has seen horrendous moral evil, social and cultural upheavals, economic and political catastrophes, disease and natural disasters that in many ways exceed anything we who are now living have seen. Frightening events have characterized every era, and believers have lived their lives fearing on the one hand the awful judgment preceding His return, and on the other looking forward to their vindication and His, when the Author and finisher of their faith puts paid to the works of evil in this world.

There are reasons to think we are declining into the days foretold of old, reasons no previous generation had—though we can see the whole of history, Anno Domine, as pitching toward the inevitable end.

The first is the nuclear technology slowly seeping out into the barbarian world for a decade or two —the second time will not be flood but fire, recall; the agents of proliferation have been busy putting it by the august and wise councils of the transnationalists in charge of ruling the world, and it is very near the time when an insane dictator or group of apocalyptic mullahs pulls the trigger and unwittingly fulfills the will of God in bringing to a fiery end wide swaths of humanity. It cannot escape notice that Israel is ground zero in most of these apocalyptic nightmare scenarios.

The second is the abandonment of Israel by the only nation who ever really acted as an ally—America. The Obama administration appears to be setting the predicate for a European approach to relations with Israel-i.e., throwing them to the wolves. Across Europe, throughout the U.N., and increasingly in the upper echelons of elite American institutions, anti-Semitism is once again in vogue, a sickening undercurrent becoming more brazen and open by the day. Another run at a “final solution” seems on tap for the very near future, if the Iranian mullahs have their way. I suspect many Europeans of the WWII era remained unrepentant of their feelings against Jews, even after the atrocities of the Nazis came to light. The hard hearts of today's hard Left would shed few tears over a nuked Israel—they brought it on themselves, after all, and aren’t we all better off without the Zionist entity?.

The third is the great turning away—“the hearts of most will grow cold”. The “post Christian” era finds the rise of a militant and evangelical atheism, along with an official and determined persecution of Christians unprecedented under a constitution that expressly prohibits it. The widespread and general rejection of God by those people who knew the Gospel is one of the signs of the end, and even though there have been many such periods before, this seems a much more knowing and final rejection, given the presumption of knowledge modernity and science have thrown down, and given the self referential and narcissistic self absorption of postmodern types .

A great flourishing epoch of vast wealth is crashing into a worldwide depression, providing the antecedent crisis conditions for that ultimate demagogue foreseen in John’s Revelation, the anti-Christ himself. Is this the turn of the wheel that sees the Man of Perdition walk onstage? Only time will tell; many another era has had the look and smell of the final judgment. But did you ever notice how the sand at the end of an hour glass seems to run so much faster? The sand seems like it’s running faster to me…so many exigencies at once, so many abrupt cultural and constitutional changes forced on us by the One…

Some changes come so very slowly—over decades and centuries of years—but some come rushing past so fast people are left with their hands in their pockets as everything is swept before them. Did you ever really think you would live in a socialist America, with a ruined economy, moral anarchy in the form of gay “marriage”, abortion and even infanticide officially supported, our sovereignty handed over to transnational organizations? The deliberate crushing of individual freedom, and the fomenting of crisis conditions to augment the taking? Maybe the twenty-first century A.D. is the last. Twenty one is enough I think.

Innes adds:
Take heart, brother. Try to see the whole thing in a broader covenantal perspective. Think of the Solomon's reign. It seemed to be the Kingdom of God itself. And in an anticipatory way, it way. Then it all came crashing down. The kingdom divided. Idolatry was everywhere. Eventually, Jerusalem was overrun by the ungodly and the Temple was desecrated and even toppled. he world had come to an end. But God's plans were bigger and more gloriosu than anything they could imagine.

In 476 AD, Rome was sacked. We often think of Rome as having an adversarial relationship with Christianity, but not only was the world shocked by this fall, Christians saw the end of all things in it. Jerome wept in his cave at Bethlehem where he was writing his commentary on Ezekiel when he received the news. He did not rejoice over the fall of what could surely be called a city of great sin. Rather he wrote, “Who could have believed that Rome, founded on triumphs over the world, could fall to ruin; and that she, the mother of nations, should also be their grave?” And again, “The world is rushing to ruin. The glorious city, the capital of the Roman Empire, has been swallowed up in one conflagration.” And indeed centuries of civilizational darkness followed, but then a great flourishing of the gospel and of civilization. The Puritans took the opposite view of their age. They thought that things were going so well that the millenial rule of Christ prior to his return must be at hand. (Many were post-mil). It seems they were wrong. The end of liberty as we have known it in America is not necessarily the end of the world, much as it breaks my heart to see great chunks of it fall off into the advancing sea of the nanny state.

Eschatology is a tricky subject to square with current events, though I respect your long paragraph of qualification. Even when our exegesis and theology are spot on, we're just too caught up emotionally with out times to judge them soberly one way or another.

A book on the eschatology of the early church that came recommended to me today is Dale C. Allison, Jr., The End of the Ages Has Come: An Early Interpretation of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus (Fortress Presss, 1985).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Civilizational Suicide Part II

It is not only the Russians and the Chinese who have a demographic problem (follow the link to "The Withering Away of Russia," "President of a Disappearing Russia," and "Cradle Robbing in China"). It is very much a European and, yes, even a North American problem. Seven million people have viewed this "Muslim Demographics" video. See what you think.

The problem with video arguments is that they generally do not support what they say with footnotes. How true are these claims? The 8.1 fertility rate among Dutch Muslims seems overstated. No country in the world has a rate anywhere near that high. Also it does not account for immigrant rates dropping once their community settles into prosperity. This video questions some of the figures.

Nonetheless, we most certainly have a problem. When I was in high school, we were warned of an overpopulation problem. The planet, we were told, could not support the world population growing as it was. They gave us the figures, made their scientific projections, and assured us that having babies was a form of planetary suicide. Here we are just one generation later, and we're vanishing from the face of the earth.

The CIA World Factbook estimates that for 2009, 104 of the 225 countries (including the EU) have a fertility rate of less than the 2.11 needed for replacing a previous generation. For example:

USA 2.05 (not the 1.6 that the video claims)
France 1.98
Sweden 1.67
Netherlands 1.66
Britain 1.66
Canada 1.58 (notice they lag far behind their liberty-oriented American neighbor)
European Union 1.51
Germany 1.41
Italy and Spain 1.31

That's Europe.

But many other countries have extremely low fertility rates. Our major geo-political competitors are also doing poorly. China has a fertility rate of 1.79 and Russia a devastating 1.41. The industrialized East is rapidly depopulating. Japan and South Korea are at 1.21. Taiwan is 1.14 and Singapore has a rate of only 1.09. Poor Eastern Europe is doing even more poorly than their cousins to the west. The entire region is reproducing itself at a rate between only 1.2 and 1.5 per couple, except for Albania, a country close to my heart, which is close to thriving at 2.01. It is not just the rich materialist nations that are declining. Poor materialist countries are also languishing. Cuba's rate stands at 1.83, and Vietnam at 1.61.

Iran is not atheist and materialist, but their fertility rate is 1.71. Perhaps oil funded social security programs are the cause.

I would not presume to speak with confidence on the situation in places like Vietnam or Chile (1.92), but what is bringing the West to this civilizational suicide is fairly obvious. It is first of all self-indulgent secular materialism. If this world is all there is and if the fundamental good is my own comfortable self-preservation, then the only reason for having children at all is to provide for one's old age when one is no longer able to work. The wealthy of course don't have that concern, and so have no need of children beyond carrying on the family name, if that is even an issue.

The welfare state removes this concern for everyone. The state provides for your old age, as does a growing economy together in conjunction with wise investments. Medicare and Social Security give you all the benefits of children without the expense and the headaches.

Lastly, there is feminism, the all purpose poison. When we break down all sorts of barriers--cultural, legal, logistical, etc.-- so that women may enter the workforce and pursue any career they choose, it is soon culturally expected that they will take this course. It also becomes economically necessary. Salaries adjust so that one income is no longer sufficient for a middle class way of life. Children become both too expensive and too inconvenient to have more than one or two of them.

The United States has by far the highest fertility rate (2.05) of all western industrialized nations (though followed closely by France at 1.98, oddly enough). My suspicion is that this has something to do with the unusually great strength of religious faith among Americans.

Catholics used to be known for their large families, but they have conformed to the culture and are pursuing their enlightened self-interest like everyone else. You still see large families with four to eight children in some Evangelical churches, but they are exceptional. If people who know the Lord and trust him to provide for their families and bless both them and the world through their families do not have but one or two children*, what hope is there that anyone else will populate our future, and thus that America and the West will have a future?

What I find most interesting about this video is the call to action for Christians at the end of it. The call to action is to evangelize Muslims (a good thing, in my view), not to have large families. Having a large family and taking the necessary steps to raise your children in godliness is a profoundly important way of loving your neighbor. With that in mind, examine yourself for what your attitudes are with regard to (1) self-indulgent secular materialism, (2) the welfare state, and (3) feminism, or the interchangeability of men and women in society. Are you part of our civilizational suicide or part of the remedy?

With a view to that, here is the first of several parts of Mark Steyn's Heritage Foundation speech, "America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It" (Jan. 10, 2007). You can navigate your way to the rest of it on YouTube. He describes how Europe is depopulating itself irreversibly and allowing itself to be replaced demographically by Muslims through immigration and much larger families.

On the demographic problem and the general civilizational collapse, you may explore this bibliography.

Bat Ye'or, Eurabia: The Euro Arab Axis.

Melanie Phillips, Londonistan.

Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying The West From Within.

Mark Steyn, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It.

Walter Laqueur, The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent.

George Weigel, The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God.

Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror.

Joseph Ratzinger, The Dialectics of Secularization.

Claire Berlinski, Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Too.

*Keep in mind that some people are biologically unable to have children or have not been able to have more than one or two. Furthermore, some people have had to limit the size of their family for medical reasons. So we can make these broad observations and judgments, but no one should jump to conclusions regarding particular couples.

Friday, May 22, 2009

This Is Your Brain on Science

Because we can invent something, does that mean we ought to? Regardless of the answer to that moral question, it does mean that we will invent it.

Consider this gadget. It scans and analyzes whatever is in front of you--whether it is a book, a can beans, or even a person--then it searches the internet for relevant information, and projects the information wherever you want to read it: a wall, your hand, or the product you are holding. It is at the same time both amazing and (not surprisingly) frightening. At the very end, the speaker suggests that embedding the technology into our brains might be the ultimate goal. The speaker, associate professor Pattie Maes of MIT's Program in Media Arts and Sciences, suggests that this could become our "sixth sense."

On the TED website, some readers were predictably uncritical in their joyful anticipation of the brave new world that awaits us all just over the beautiful horizon of enlightened progress.

One fearless young man writes:

The quantity of people now on this planet and the way we twist our environment to suit us will significantly slow down the process of natural selection and biological evolution. The next step in our evolution lies in augmenting ourselves. Hence the development of genetics, bio-engineering, robotics, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. It's up to us to make ourselves better. Implants, and indeed all technology, should never remain in the domain of fixing what is broken, but used to make what exists better.

We have it in our power to make ourselves "better." Of course, he means simply "more powerful," and by that he means "having greater power over, or control of, our world." Machiavelli called it the conquest of fortune. But for Machiavelli, power is always personal. The state that a prince governs is "his state." A century later when Francis Bacon spoke of "the conquest of nature," he had the same idea in mind, and he was fully aware of C. S. Lewis's insight that the dominion of "man" over nature is always the dominion of some men over other men. There is no basis for believing that these "enhancements" will bring unambiguous improvement to people's quality of life.

Bobbie Carlyle's "Self-Made Man"

This happy optimist sees movement here toward,
...integrating the 'unused' capacity in our brains into the rapidly evolving data cloud that is growing throughout this planet. For many years heavy use projects all over the world have solicited unused computing capacity on millions of connected computers to process huge data streams and allow projects on a scale not possible with local hardware capacity. Is this technology a first glimpse into the possibility of using the vast power of human brains as a common resource?

Why should I get to keep the unused portions of my brain when there are others who can put it to work for the good of humanity? Imagine all our brains connected into a worldwide mental internet. A common resource. The ultimate private space would be turned over to public use. But people can't even share a dorm room or a desk without conflict. Consider also the public authority that would govern the public use. Do you want to invite that authority into your brain?

A gadfly in the ointment of hope pictures a policeman approaching you with this device, scanning you, and saying: "Hello, I'm Officer Smith. I see you're Catholic, own two guns, traveled to Israel last year, and frequently post on blogs. Are you attending your AA meetings? Did your wife's infection clear up? I see you don't live in this area. Why are you here? You can't be shopping because your credit cards are maxed out."

In our rush to restore science to its "rightful place" in government, we should pause to ask what the government's source of moral guidance is. More importantly, what is the source of moral guidance for those who are electing the government? Professor Maes teaches media arts and sciences. We use our media arts to debunk the very idea of moral guidance, and then with just as much social energy we use the sciences to acquire power that cries out for the moral guidance we have silenced.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Piper's Respectful Rebuke on Abortion

In the wake of President Obama's commencement address at University of Notre Dame, controversial because of the university's Roman Catholicism and the President's passionate commitment to killing any unborn baby that anyone suggests killing (and sometimes even born ones), this video-text of John Piper's response to the President's statements on "reproductive freedom" back in January are well worth the three minutes it takes to view it.

(The text graphics are artsy, perhaps post-modern, and I suspect they corrupt us as we watch them appear and move and explode and such.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

After the Recovery, the Hyperinflation

Former hedge fund manager Andy Kessler does a fine job explaining the basics of money supply and inflation in relation to the recent trillions that have been flowing out of Washington DC. (And, yes, I expect you to be interested.)

Here is how he starts "Putting the Toothpaste Back Into the Tube" (The Weekly Standard, April 27, 2009).

So how is Fed chairman Ben Bernanke going to get all that toothpaste back into the tube? The Fed has been cranking money out like water over Niagara Falls. The monetary base has increased by a trillion dollars in just the last six months. And he's not done, furiously printing dollars (bank credits, really) and buying Treasuries in an attempt to flood the economy with dollars. When will it end? $3 trillion? $4 trillion? And then what? A functioning economy doesn't need all that cash sloshing around. Is runaway inflation our next crisis?

Let's go back to fundamentals for a second. Money is a placeholder of value--the price of a cold Heineken or the value of work already done, a hole dug, a piece of software written, whatever. When things work just right, prices seek the right level and we get a match between that cold beer and the sweat from working for it.

Money supply is how much money is floating around the economy to handle all the transactions. No one quite knows how much money is needed. The classic formula is the output of the economy equals the amount of money times the velocity of money, or how many times the same dollar is spent during the year. You buy the beer, the bartender buys beer nuts, the nut farmer buys a Ford pickup truck, the auto worker buys a cell phone, which you the programmer just finished writing the location-based service code for, so you are out celebrating buying a beer and on and on. Of course, no one really knows what the velocity of money is. If times are tough, you may hold off buying that Heineken for a few months, and when times are good you may party every night.

I like to think of the economy as a giant bucket filled with money (money supply) sloshing around the bucket (velocity). We all hope the bucket is filled to the rim. But, in normal times, the economy grows every year. Population increases, too, so the size of the bucket has to grow to handle the transactions of more people who like to eat and drink. So more money needs to be created to fill the bigger bucket. That's pretty straightforward.

But now the hard part. ...

Read on, then hold onto your seats. Given the way we have chosen to ride out this recession, we could be in for a bumpy landing.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Civilizational Suicide Part I

This is an interesting and encouraging development. Explorers is a branch of the Boy Scouts that trains young people in the techniques and discipline of law enforcement, including counter-terrorism and border patrol. ("Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More," New York Times, May 13, 2009.) No doubt the left, upon reading this, will raise the roof, even though law enforcement is not only a necessary function, but also a noble ambition.

In 2005, Anthony Esolen published a marvelous article on the effect of the sexual revolution and its inevitable consequence, homosexual liberation, on friendship between men, and the devastating consequences of that for the sustainability of our civilization. Yes, it's that serious. ("A Requiem For Friendship: Why Boys Will Not Be Boys and Other Consequences of the Sexual Revolution," Touchstone, Sept. 2005.)

The prominence of male homosexuality changes the language for teenage boys. It is absurd and cruel to say that the boy can ignore it. Even if he would, his classmates will not let him....

For good reason boys used to build tree houses and hang signs barring girls. They know, if only instinctively, that the fire of the friendship cannot subsist otherwise. If the company of girls is made possible, then the company of girls becomes a necessity, if only to avoid having to explain to others and to oneself why one would ever prefer the company of one’s own sex. Thus what is perfectly natural and healthy, indeed very much needed, is cast as irrational and bigoted, or dubious and weak; and thus some boys will cobble together their own brotherhoods that eschew tenderness altogether—criminal brotherhoods that land them in prison. This is all right by us, it seems....

In the name of protecting homosexuals, we ignore the feelings of boys and snatch from them their dwindling opportunities to forge just such friendships whereof homosexual relations are a delusive mimicry....

Reader, the next time you feel moved to pity the delicate man in the workstation near you, give a thought also to an adolescent somewhere, one among uncounted millions, a kid with acne maybe, a kid with an idea or a love, who needs a friend. Know then that your tolerance for the flambeau, which is little more than a self-congratulating cowardice, or your easy and poorly considered approval of the shy workmate’s request that he be allowed to “marry” his partner, means that the unseen boy will not find that friend, and that the idea and the love will die....

No civilization has been built without that foundation of male camaraderie directed toward civic ends: not Athens, not Rome, not Japan, not India. It remains to be seen whether any civilization can long endure without it. Looking at what used to be our cities, I’d say not.
Of course, these are just samples of the deep wells of insight that Esolen offers on this matter in the article. You must read the whole thing if you read anything.

Some of this insight can be found in popular culture, but only traces of it. Here is "Guy Love" from Scubs.

Anthony Esolen is Professor of English at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

Friday, May 15, 2009

He's Everywhere He Wants to Be

Finally, a bit of parody from the Republicans that actually bites:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Faceless Generation

"The more time people spend before the computer screen or any screen, the less time and desire they have for two human activities critical to a fruitful and demanding intellectual life: reading and conversation. The media invade, and in many instances destroy altogether, the silence that promotes reading and the free time required for both solitary thinking and social conversation." -- Susan Jacoby, The Age of American Unreason (New York: Pantheon, 2008), p.247.

I was explaining to a prospective student for the fall at The King's College why I do not permit the use of laptop computers in my classroom. She was surprisingly agreeable to this policy, and I found her reason illuminating.

She told me that relationships among her peers are mediated by screens, whether computers and cell phones. Their social life centers on Facebook and MySpace. They communicate via text messaging and cell phone. Consider all the 14 year olds walking around constantly on the phone. One way or another, they're distant when they do not have to be. Face to face relationship is one of the most precious goods in life--when it is done right. A kiss between two people is a particularly intimate face to face relationship. God's promise to his redeemed people is that they will see him one day "face to face" (I Cor. 12). But it is disappearing among those of the emerging generation.

This self-imposed distance between close friends is changing the nature and quality of human relationships. In electronically mediated relationships, people are more careless in what they say, and in particular they are bolder in what they say to the opposite sex. They say things they would never say "to your face." People of the rising generation are socially more awkward and have a more difficult time sustaining a friendship. Marriage will be even more difficult than it has been for previous generations.

You might find Maggie Jackson's recent book, Distracted, on the effect of email on one's attention span, interesting.

An older and more philosophical writing (and more difficult to find) is George Grant's essay with the intentionally ironic title, "The computer does not impose on us the ways it should be used" (in Beyond Industrial Growth, Abraham Rotstein ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976. 117-31).

Friday, May 8, 2009

Quality Time With The Venerable Dead

Samuel Davies (1723-1761) was one of America's greatest preachers. He was a Virginian and the fourth president of the College of New Jersey, known today as Princeton University, succeeding Jonathan Edwards. As a pastor in Virginia, he had the privilege of discipling young Patrick Henry from the pulpit each Lord's Day.

On a friend's Facebook page today, I found these words from Pastor Davies which everyone who is serious about the truth, wisdom, and the life of the mind will take to heart.

I have a peaceful study as a refuge from the hurries and noise of the world around me, the venerable dead are waiting in my library to entertain me and relieve me from the nonsense of surviving mortals.*

C. S. Lewis had the same sentiment when, in his introduction to Athanasius On The Incarnation, he recommended the reading of old books, or at least balancing our diet of new books with healthy servings of the old.

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.

Machiavelli shares the pleasure he takes in communing with geniuses across the centuries through the books they have left us:

On the coming of evening, I return to my house and enter my study; and at the door I take off the day's clothing, covered with mud and dust, and put on garments regal and courtly; and reclothed appropriately, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them with affection, I feed on that food which only is mine and which I was born for, where I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reason for their actions; and they in their kindness answer me; and for four hours of time I do not feel boredom, I forget every trouble, I do not dread poverty, I am not frightened by death; entirely I give myself over to them. ("Letter to Francesco Vettori")

Further down on the right you can find a list of spiritual classics whose authors you will surely find justly venerable.

*Of course, he is using the word "entertain" in an older sense. It appears to be the ninth definition offered by Oxford English Dictionary: "To engage, keep occupied the attention, thoughts, or time of (a person): also with attention, etc. as obj. Hence to discourse to (a person) of something. ... 1692 Br. Ely Answ. Touchstone A v, I hope I shall neither tire the Reader, nor entertain him unprofitably. 1748 Chesterf. Lett. II clxxiii. I have so often entertained you upon these important subjects." The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1971), vol. I, p. 876.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Rightful Place of Science

I'm swamped with grading for the next week, as I have been for the past week or so, and Harold must be similarly occupied with honest work, so posts have been less frequent these days.

Let me follow up again on the question the President raised concerning the place of science in government. We view science as the sovereign way of thinking. If you are not thinking scientifically, you are not really thinking. You are feeling, or imagining. (I am not saying that this is Mr. Obama's view.) But nobody lives that way. Indeed, nobody can live that way.

The conquest of nature through natural science that is oriented exclusively toward useful inventions--Francis Bacon's project which is modernity itself--requires viewing nature (i.e, the world and all that is in it) in a restricted way. It requires nature's "demystification," abstracting from all notions of moral value and aesthetic quality. As Lewis critically observes in The Abolition of Man, this view denies that the waterfall is sublime; it can only accept that it is so many metric tonnes of water passing over a precipice with predictable frothing and mist on and around the rocks below.

While this view of the world is terribly stunted and inadequate from the standpoint of understanding it fully as it is and of living life in the fullness of its image-bearing humanity, it is necessary from the standpoint of drawing out of the world the practical benefits that the world's Creator intended us to discover and enjoy.

"The Poo Song" from Scrubs nicely illustrates these two views of the world and how we can hold them both with appropriate attention to their separate settings. The song treats "poo" with utilitarian indifference to questions of dignity and disgust. At the same time, the humor presupposes our just recognition of those qualities in pooer and poo, respectively.

This view is good. It helpful to know whether what we're suffering is hemorrhoids or rectal cancer, and God in his creation has generously provided the means to discover this. It is nonetheless true, however, that poo is vile and pooing is undignified. Both views have their place in life for different purposes of life. What we call the scientific view on its own is insufficient for living a fully human life and for understanding the world in general. In fact, to live a consistently "rational" life by the standard of scientific reasoning would entail radical dehumanization, not only of oneself but also of others. Indeed, dehumanization is a two way street on which what goes one way inevitably goes the other as well.

Scientific observation is a limited way of observing the world for a specific end. The means are well suited to the end, but there's more to life than the conquest of nature.

Friday, May 1, 2009

One Hundred Days of Steady Erosion

Do you see your liberty eroding before your very eyes? Do sense the foundations of this noble republic crumbling and giving way under your feet?

Is this 3 minute 40 second video of a road going from wet to washed away a metaphor for President Obama's first 100 days?

Scarify a Road Surface - More free videos are here

We have been shortsighted as a people. We should heed what a great political theorist once wrote:

I compare her (fortune) to one of those raging rivers, which when in flood overflows the plains, sweeping away trees and buildings, bearing away the soil from place to place; everything flies before it, all yield to its violence, without being able in any way to withstand it; and yet, though its nature be such, it does not follow therefore that men, when the weather becomes fair, shall not make provision, both with defenses and barriers, in such a manner that, rising again, the waters may pass away by canal, and their force be neither so unrestrained nor so dangerous. So it happens with fortune, who shows her power where valor (virtue) has not prepared to resist her, and thither she turns her forces where she knows that barriers and defenses have not been raised to constrain her.

The weather is not fair. But can we save the house? Where are the men of understanding and eloquence in this great nation of 300 million?

"When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Psalm 11:3

"They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations." Ezra 4:12

"By faith Abraham...went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God." Hebrews 11:8-10