Friday, December 31, 2004

How Much Aid? Well ... Wrong Question

I've been reading, here and there and in other places too, discussions of whether the monetary aid that Mr. Bush proposes to send to the tsunami-devastated southwest Pacific is adequate or not. From my viewpoint, it's an unnecessary sort of question.

If we actually lived in the constitutional republic in which we pretend to live, we would know that the appropriate amount of aid for Washington to send is zero. Not simply because Washington is broke, hopelessly in debt, adding to it every day, and in fact has no aid to send. That reason would be sufficient, but is not the fundamental reason. The real reason is that the Constitution does not empower the federal government to aid disaster victims, either within the U.S. or outside of it.

If we lived in a constitutional republic, it might well be that each and every one of the fifty states would undertake aid (or not, as their various state constitutions provided). It might also be that Americans would respond generously as individuals, as congregations, as service clubs and organizations, or in other voluntary ways. Certainly, they would have much more money with which to respond, since a constitutional government would not consume more than a percent or so of what the giant malignancy that rules us from D.C. now does.

But we don't live in a constitutional republic; the constitution is a dead letter. So, on with the argument. I'll fall back to: zero, because we're broke and have nothing to share.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

We're Persecuted! Let's Go Shopping.

Another Christmas has come and gone. This year, more than in past ones that I remember, lots of Christians seemed to be styling themselves as persecuted victims. I don't doubt that there have been outrages; plenty have been documented by VDare, in their annual War Against Christmas series. Most of us sound more than a little silly, though, as we seem to be trying to sound like martyrs in the face of such persecution of having salespeople wish us "happy holidays" instead of a merry Christmas.

I don't want to be unclear about this; I, too, find "happy holidays" mildly annoying. But where's the sense of proportion? Just read through Hebrews chapter 11. If that doesn't sound like your recent life experience, it's probably time to smile more and whine less. You say that Christianity's disrespected in your child's government school? How surprising can that be? Maybe your kids shouldn't be there in the first place. Why this perpetual surprise that unbelievers persist in acting like unbelievers? The real scandal, it seems to me, is that we putative believers don't act more like believers. We say we're convinced that there is a real damnation from which we've been rescued, and that we stand on the brink of an eternity in which we'll be enjoying the pleasures and rewards carried in our Lord's hand ... and then we walk through this life wearing sour grimaces on our faces and chips on our shoulders, just daring the wicked world to treat us as well as we so clearly deserve to be treated. Amazingly enough, we're not very convincing to the world. Hmmm ... how can that be? How can those foolish worldly folk fail to want to share the joy that so obviously fills our lives?

Maybe we could spend more of our time loving and serving the people who are perishing all around us, and less time demanding their respect. I'd venture to guess that if we did, we might end up with a little credibility and respect anyway, even though (or maybe because) we weren't seeking it ... and a full measure of the joy of the Lord thrown in too. Worth a try, I think. Gotta work better than what we're doing now.