Friday, October 29, 2010

Heresy Against Democracy

There's a worship service in America's established religion coming up Tuesday. I'm a heathen -- I won't be voting. I've withdrawn my consent.

For those of you who are faithful believers, though, here's some advice. Thank you, James Bovard, for bringing it to my attention:

Emergency! We're at War!!!

Oh, no! I'm not safe! Yumpin' Yemeni, them Al Qaeda in Yemen guys is mailin' bombs over here!

Please, government, make me safe! I demand that you remove some more of my few remaining liberties! I insist that you porno-scan and grope my carcass before I can drive my car on the public streets. Shut down this blog, so I'll be perfectly safe. In fact, if you were to jail me, I'd be surrounded by security, would I not? Let's get to it, then! Remember, the only important thing is that I must be perfectly safe and secure.

I've got an idea -- cancel those elections next week. Elections are just a way of disrupting government. Don't you know there's a war on?

SAFER, I TELL YOU -- I MUST BE SAFER!!! I don't care what it costs. Safety first. And last. And always.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Some Voodoo Health-Care Economics

So, the O'Bomber shows up on Jon "Sucking Up to Power" Stewart's show to do a little campaigning, and the Peace Laureate has this to say:
"Jon, I love your show, but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you ..." Obama said, leaning forward and intently tapping his finger on the desk, "this notion that health care was timid."

"This is what most people would say is as significant a piece of legislation as we have seen in this country's history," the president continued, saying the Affordable Care Act will provide health coverage for 30 million people, introduces a Patient's Bill of Rights and will cut the deficit by over a trillion dollars.
You know, when the redshirts and the blueshirts have their little "let's pretend" fights, every couple of years, I absolutely have no little make-believe dog in those little make-believe fights. But the details do often amuse. Just let an Evil Rethuglican suggest that the solution to American economic ills is to lower anyone's tax rates, and the pwoggies explode in derision: voodoo economics! But the Historic First Sort-of-Kind-of Black President suggests that 30 million more people are going to get health coverage, and the national budget deficit is going to decrease by a trillion (that's a thousand billion, folks) bucks ... uh, yeah, okay. The only way I see that happening is if those Death Panels not only exist, but are tremendously busy. Them grannies is gonna be droppin' like flies. Either that, or Obummer's talking some serious crap.

Meanwhile, I'm sure that Licensed Iconoclast Stewart's going to call our glorious progressive leader on that nonsense right away. But maybe I won't hold my breath while I wait.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, October 27

Today, I'm looking at Galatians chapter 4, verses 1 - 11:
Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

However, at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.
Paradoxical, it is, but true: we naturally prefer slavery to the liberty that we have in Christ. We want a card of rules. We'd rather tithe by formula than come to grips with the idea that it's all His, every cent and every possession and every family member. Why?

Well, the rules and regulations provide boundary lines. Maybe 23 hours of the day are God's, but the twenty-fourth is ours, in which we can do as we please. Maybe 10% of my paycheck is God's, but that means 90% is none of His business. Maybe I have a set of rules to obey, but that saves me the labor of thinking about principles and their application, and what I can do in a positive sense to please Him. I might be living under the Law, but at least I have no worries as long as long as the Law's not barking at me. Growing up and entering into Christian liberty is hard, and scary. But He bought that liberty for me, at a very high price. Should I throw it away? Will that please Him? I don't have to wonder; Paul answers the questions succinctly.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Those Who Can, Do; and Those Who Can't ...

... or won't, try to change the subject.

With Julian Assange's WikiLeaks having again published "our" government's secrets, it's interesting to see how the big media respond. Here's an example. By all means, have a look at the whole article. What jumps out at me is that there's no claim that the revelations aren't authentic. Instead, the emphasis is on whether Assange himself is a nice, winsome guy or not:
Much has changed since 2006, when Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, used years of computer hacking and what friends call a near genius I.Q. to establish WikiLeaks, redefining whistle-blowing by gathering secrets in bulk, storing them beyond the reach of governments and others determined to retrieve them, then releasing them instantly, and globally.

Now it is not just governments that denounce him: some of his own comrades are abandoning him for what they see as erratic and imperious behavior, and a nearly delusional grandeur unmatched by an awareness that the digital secrets he reveals can have a price in flesh and blood.

Several WikiLeaks colleagues say he alone decided to release the Afghan documents without removing the names of Afghan intelligence sources for NATO troops. “We were very, very upset with that, and with the way he spoke about it afterwards,” said Birgitta Jonsdottir, a core WikiLeaks volunteer and a member of Iceland’s Parliament. “If he could just focus on the important things he does, it would be better.”
Yes, I suppose Mr. Assange's primary concern should have been to make our hired collaborators perfectly safe. Or maybe not. If collaborating with the invader (the "Coalition," that is) is known to be very dangerous, perhaps the Coalition won't be able to hire collaborators. And that would be very, very bad. Or maybe not.

In any case, there's no such thing as a legitimate government secret, and Mr. Assange should go on doing what he's doing. If he's not an agreeable fellow, perhaps he should also work on his people skills. But meanwhile, the false "journalists" (i.e., corporate/government whores) working for the respectable media should start doing their proper jobs, instead of hatcheting someone who's doing what they should be doing -- but won't.

The Last Days, October 25 Edition

One of the infallible signs of the arrival of the apocalypse, I think, is that it scares all the (literate) copy editors away from the big-time newspapers. Here's the Boston Herald:
Childress proceeded Favre into the same room and proceeded to vent about the officiating.
That Childress was doing a whole lot of proceeding, there. I wonder what it looks like when the coach proceeds his quarterback into a room? Somehow, I have a picture of him taking a firm twist-grip on the Favre ear and propelling him by pain compliance. Of course, I did watch that game on the teevee, and I believe I saw several of the Green Bay defenders proceeding the Brettmeister into the playing surface at Lambeau Field, with a certain amount of firmness and emphasis. Oh, well.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Word for Thursday, October 21

I'm on the road right now, doing some day-job travel. (Today, the day job is more like the night job, and I'll be going back there soon; meanwhile, I'm catching up a little with online matters.) In many ways, it's good to be sent away. When we're removed from the familiar "furniture" of our daily lives, our perceived security is decreased. The perception was always illusory; it has to do with being surrounded by what we know well, and is misleading. We have no real "security" at all, except for the faithfulness of God ... and what security more should we need? In any case, the fourteenth chapter of the gospel of John fell under my eye today:
"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going." Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

"If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip ? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father '? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world ?" Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me. These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here."
Well, what can I say, except: I love that Man. Can't wait to be with Him in the place that He has prepared. And I'm grateful that He gave the Spirit, and that He's reminding me all the time of what Jesus said and did. It's good -- really, really good -- to have all that you need. And I do.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Yes, It Must Truly Be the Last Days

Isn't one of the signs of imminent Armageddon supposed to be the absence of literate copy editors on big-time newspapers? Here is the famous Chicago Tribune in action:
And Patriots' safety Brandon Meriweather was fined $50,000 for a viscous hit on Ravens tight end Todd Heap.
I suppose a "viscous" hit must be one that takes a long time to pour. The Trib will probably demand that the National Football League specify the maximum allowable viscosity of hits in football games. 5W30 hits will be OK, but 10W40 will result in suspensions, maybe?

Why Ask, and Go Ahead and Tell: Swell!

Do you suppose this will be bad for Unit Cohesion?
The Pentagon said on Tuesday it had told U.S. military recruiters to allow gays and lesbians to apply for service, as gay veterans tested a court order striking down the military's ban on openly serving homosexuals.

California-based U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips ordered the military a week ago to stop enforcing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and on Monday tentatively refused a Pentagon request to re-instate the 17-year-old ban.

Phillips issued a final decision late on Tuesday affirming her order.

Although government concerns about military readiness and cohesion are important, "these interests are outweighed by the compelling public interest of safeguarding fundamental constitutional rights," she wrote in a six-page opinion.

A former Iraq war veteran who was discharged for revealing his sexual identity appeared on Tuesday at a recruiting station at New York's Times Square to re-enlist, and obtained an Army application.

"In the recruiting station," Daniel Choi wrote on his Twitter feed. "Apparently I'm too old for the Marines! Just filled out the Army application."
So ... will this "break" the US military? Or will it just make life even more, ah, interesting for swarthy detainees in places like Bagram, and Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib? Maybe it just means that the interrogator who threatens them with homosexual rape will be all done up in his studded leather off-duty kit. Anybody want a few months at Camp Bondsteel?

Any way the American military can be "broken" is a good thing, net. Between this and the general mega-bankruptcy of our glorious world-straddling former republic (sort of), the Empire just has to start rolling up like a defective window blind. Doesn't it?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Free-est Country in the World

This requires no comment, really. It speaks for itself:
Stepping up the Obama administration's opposition to Proposition 19, the nation's top law enforcement official promised to "vigorously enforce" federal drug laws against Californians who grow or sell marijuana for recreational use even if voters pass the legalization measure.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder's response to the initiative comes as the administration has been under pressure to campaign against it more forcefully. Last week, Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, chided the Obama administration for not doing enough to defeat it. And last month, nine former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration publicly urged Holder to speak out.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the former DEA administrators, Holder wrote, "Let me state clearly that the Department of Justice strongly opposes Proposition 19. If passed, this legislation will greatly complicate federal drug enforcement efforts to the detriment of our citizens."


In an Aug. 24 letter and a Sept. 13 news conference in Washington, the former DEA chiefs asked Holder to make it clear that the initiative would be preempted by federal law and would put the United States in violation of international drug treaties, warning about "the unfortunate message that this silence conveys." Holder, responding two months later, did not mention either issue.

Instead, he noted that prosecutions under the federal Controlled Substances Act remain a "core priority" and wrote, "We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture, or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law." He did not say how he intends to do that, but said the department "is considering all available legal and policy options."

Baca, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley and the other law enforcement officials insisted the initiative is unconstitutional because it conflicts with federal law. Baca also said he would not uphold the measure, if it passes, and would arrest anyone with a 25-square-foot plot.
Be sure to vote, now. Voting changes things. Besides, it's so safe; it's absolutely foolproof. If you mess up and vote wrong, don't worry ... it didn't mean anything. Peace Laureate O'Bomber and his minions will set everything straight. It's all good!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Great Expectations

If you've noticed the FedGov TARPing off the odd trillion freshly-created bucks every now and then, over the past couple of years, to take care of their fellows in the Corporatist Class, it might surprise you to learn that there's no inflation to speak of in the near-dead US economy. And if you've been buying anything besides slave-produced electronic gadgetry -- groceries, for instance -- you might again be astonished to learn that we're Officially Inflation-Free. And this freedom from inflation is troublesome to those who suck down the Social Security:
Social Security benefits will not automatically increase next year for 58 million Americans because of the low U.S. inflation rate, the Social Security Administration announced on Friday.

This is the second year in a row that retirees and millions of disabled workers and survivors of deceased workers will not receive an automatic cost of living adjustment.

It comes at a time when retirees' savings -- often their only other source of income -- are earning poor returns because of low interest rates.
Not to worry, though, my on-the-dole boomer masters. His Glorious Excellency O'Bomber I is going to fix that, through one of his key minions:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke on Friday laid out a case for the central bank to take further action to bolster growth, citing the risks of prolonged high unemployment and a U.S. economy slipping into a deflationary spiral.

In a much-anticipated speech in Boston, Bernanke did not spell out details of how and when the Fed would take action. But the first option that he mentioned was a program of buying additional assets, namely government bonds, in an effort to drive down long-term interest rates and stimulate economic growth.

The central bank is widely expected to announce such a program, known as quantitative easing, at the conclusion of its next policymakers' meeting on Nov. 2 and 3.

"There would appear to be a case for further action," he said at a conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

As Bernanke spoke, the government released statistics showing the so-called core inflation rate, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, was unchanged in September and is now running at an annual rate of 0.8% — well below the Fed's informal desired target of 1.5% to 2%. Separately, there was better-than-expected news on last month's retail sales activity as total sales rose 0.6% from the prior month, boosted by higher auto sales.
Now, maybe I'm underestimating the Emperor's Fed czar. His Sufficiency Bernanke may be able to calculate another amazingly microscopic inflation rate after a few more terabucks are firehosed outward. We can read about it, over a sparing cupful of ten-dollars-a-gallon skim milk.

I can't wait.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, October 13

On the 13th of the month, we consider 2 Corinthians 13. (At least it's not a Friday!)
This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone, since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you. Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete. For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.

Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
This chapter, it seems to me, centers on self-examination. "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!" Just as the people of the Corinthian church needed to do this, presumably we do, too. So, what are the criteria? What is true of me if I am "in the faith?" Well, if I am, then I have company; someone lives with "me," in my body and my soul, and that someone is the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. But that just moves the question: how do I know if I have the Holy Spirit? Is it a matter of how I feel? Couldn't I be entertaining some other spirit (generically, perhaps, the Unholy Spirit)? Time for the book of James, chapter 2, verses 14 - 19:
What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, "You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
Does this mean salvation is produced by good works? Certainly not. It's like a stove and a thermometer. You're trying to heat some water. The stove is what heats the water; the thermometer tells you whether the stove's getting the job done, or not. Faith is what saves; the faith is what we must be "in;" faith is the stove. Our works are the thermometer, telling us whether we're in the faith.

So, to be in the faith, we have to be doing every good work, and no wicked ones? Again, not so. We're unfinished, and our lives show that. But we should be looking for the trend. In absolute terms, I'm dirty; but am I cleaner than I was last month? Last year? If the Holy Spirit lives here, He's at work, and stuff's getting fixed. If nothing's getting fixed, I have to wonder if the Spirit really lives here or not.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

I Knew It!

But, since I failed to post at the time, I have no hard evidence of my prescience. If you looked online this past weekend, though, I'm sure you saw the news stories about how this poor British aid worker, who had been kidnapped by the Musselmen, had been slaughtered by them as the heroic American Troops™ were just about to rescue her. Hmmmm, I thought, this sure has a Pat Tillman kind of smell to it. I wonder if she actually got dusted by The Troops™? And then, this morning, sure enough, there it was:
As the family of the 36-year-old raised concerns over the failed rescue mission which led to her death, David Cameron confirmed that Miss Norgrove may have died as a result of so-called 'friendly fire'.

The Prime Minister announced that a full investigation is being launched into the circumstances of the tragedy.

It had initially been reported that Miss Norgrove died after her rebel captors detonated a suicide vest as American troops closed in on them.

The victim's parents have demanded a full explanation for the events surrounding her capture and failed rescue, amid claims that her release could have been negotiated.
Good luck in pressing your demands, victim's parents. Might as well just relax and Support the Troops.

Friday, October 08, 2010

They Are Blas-pheeeee-mers!!!

How can anyone blaspheme that which is already contemptible?
The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo was "blasphemy against the peace prize" that could harm relations between China and Norway, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Friday.

The spokesman said the award is supposed to be given to "promote national harmony, international friendship" and those who work to pursue peace.

"Liu Xiaobo is a convicted criminal sentenced to jail by Chinese justice. His acts are in complete contradiction to the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize," spokesman Mao Zhaoxu said.
The dictionary defines "blasphemy" as irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable. (Actually, that's the second definition; the first is exclusively theological, and wouldn't -- I hope! -- apply here.) Surely, after the Dynamite Peace Prize was awarded just a year ago to Drone Warrior and surge artist Obama, it's been thoroughly demonstrated that there's nothing sacred or inviolable about it.

Mr. Liu should be the one complaining about being awarded this "prize." And perhaps he is. Since his supervisors have him on ice, I don't suppose we'd hear him.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Stuck in the Middle With You

Obviously, I can't stop it, but maybe I can laugh at it:
Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Warlords named for characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie and rocks used to simulate guards at untended posts illustrate mismanagement of U.S. security contracting in Afghanistan, a Senate investigation found.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, in a report issued today after a yearlong probe, detailed cases of private security contractors funneling U.S. taxpayer dollars to warlords tied to murder, kidnapping and bribery. Some of the people paid with U.S. funds worked with the Taliban or took part in actions directed against the U.S.-led coalition fighting the war, the committee concluded.


ArmorGroup referred to two of the warlords as Mr. White and Mr. Pink, the names of characters in Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” film.

“Despite reports linking ‘Pink’ to the Taliban, ArmorGroup continued to employ his men for more than a month” after “Mr. White” was murdered, allegedly by “Mr. Pink,” according to the statement. ArmorGroup eventually fired the men in part because of “Pink’s” links to the Taliban.

The report concluded that the case demonstrated a failure of contractors such as ArmorGroup to vet and properly supervise their personnel and ensure compliance with regulations.

ArmorGroup engaged workers from two local villages “only upon the recommendation and encouragement of U.S. Special Forces,” said Susan Pitcher, a spokeswoman for G4S, in an e- mailed statement. The committee reported that an unnamed U.S. military “team leader” recommended “Mr. Pink” as a point of contact to steer villagers looking for work at the air base and didn’t recall suggesting “Mr. White.”
OK, I have just one question at this point:


You are, by the way, advised not to respond by asking "What?"

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, October 6

The end of 2 Corinthians approaches. Here's chapter 12:
Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago -- whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows -- such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows -- was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I shall be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

I have become foolish; you yourselves compelled me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though I am a nobody. The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles. For in what respect were you treated as inferior to the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not become a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!

Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? But be that as it may, I did not burden you myself; nevertheless, crafty fellow that I am, I took you in by deceit. Certainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom I have sent to you, have I? I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps?

All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved. For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.
As with the previous chapter, a good part of this one is concerned with Paul's relationship with the church at Corinth; and that has the quality of a conversation of which we hear only Paul's side. It is good to see the gentleness with which he answers what we can only assume were accusations of some kind of misconduct. The boasting that he does is arresting in a different way. I, he says, boast only of my weakness (again, the signature Christian way of turning expectations on their heads); but he will boast of "a man" (clearly, Paul himself) who was caught up to Heaven, in a vision of some kind, I think, although he explicitly disclaims specific knowledge ("whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows"). How would you like to see and hear what he did? Well, we're fortunate: even the longest human life is instantaneous in the context of eternity, and we're going to know God even as He knows us. And with that thought, the worries that seem significant to me now shrink to their true size -- infinitesimals, that is -- and there's no reason to do anything but smile.

I won't even write a carping political/cultural post until tomorrow. Guaranteed.

Click here for more Words for Wednesday.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Back to the Nonsense Word

A month or so ago, I read Blogger's boasting about their automated spam detection, and how spam comments just weren't going to be an issue any more. So I turned off the "word recognition" on the comments, thinking it wasn't going to be needed. Ha! In the last couple of hours, I've gotten nine obvious spam comments. I don't know how Blogger's miracle tool was supposed to detect spam, but I think it's not very good at it. So, I'm sorry to say, the nonsense word is back on the comments. Sorry about that.

Joseph Sobran, RIP

Today, the Lew Rockwell site reminds me that I haven't remarked on Joseph Sobran's death earlier this week -- something I had intended to do. Obviously, no remark from me is particularly called for; and, now that I think of it, I don't believe I'll make one; Mr. Sobran spoke very well for himself. Excerpted here is the concluding portion of an essay in which he explained his journey from Buckley-style "conservatism" to the realization that we live under a somewhat-organized evil:
My fellow Christians have argued that the state’s authority is divinely given. They cite Christ’s injunction “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” and St. Paul’s words “The powers that be are ordained of God.” But Christ didn’t say which things — if any — belong to Caesar; his ambiguous words are far from a command to give Caesar whatever he claims. And it’s notable that Christ never told his disciples either to establish a state or to engage in politics. They were to preach the Gospel and, if rejected, to move on. He seems never to have imagined the state as something they could or should enlist on their side.

At first sight, St. Paul seems to be more positive in affirming the authority of the state. But he himself, like the other martyrs, died for defying the state, and we honor him for it; to which we may add that he was on one occasion a jailbreaker as well. Evidently the passage in Romans has been misread. It was probably written during the reign of Nero, not the most edifying of rulers; but then Paul also counseled slaves to obey their masters, and nobody construes this as an endorsement of slavery. He may have meant that the state and slavery were here for the foreseeable future, and that Christians must abide them for the sake of peace. Never does he say that either is here forever.

St. Augustine took a dim view of the state, as a punishment for sin. He said that a state without justice is nothing but a gang of robbers writ large, while leaving doubt that any state could ever be otherwise. St. Thomas Aquinas took a more benign view, arguing that the state would be necessary even if man had never fallen from grace; but he agreed with Augustine that an unjust law is no law at all, a doctrine that would severely diminish any known state.

The essence of the state is its legal monopoly of force. But force is subhuman; in words I quote incessantly, Simone Weil defined it as “that which turns a person into a thing — either corpse or slave.” It may sometimes be a necessary evil, in self-defense or defense of the innocent, but nobody can have by right what the state claims: an exclusive privilege of using it.

It’s entirely possible that states — organized force — will always rule this world, and that we will have at best a choice among evils. And some states are worse than others in important ways: anyone in his right mind would prefer living in the United States to life under a Stalin. But to say a thing is inevitable, or less onerous than something else, is not to say it is good.

For most people, anarchy is a disturbing word, suggesting chaos, violence, antinomianism — things they hope the state can control or prevent. The term state, despite its bloody history, doesn’t disturb them. Yet it’s the state that is truly chaotic, because it means the rule of the strong and cunning. They imagine that anarchy would naturally terminate in the rule of thugs. But mere thugs can’t assert a plausible right to rule. Only the state, with its propaganda apparatus, can do that. This is what legitimacy means. Anarchists obviously need a more seductive label.

“But what would you replace the state with?” The question reveals an inability to imagine human society without the state. Yet it would seem that an institution that can take 200,000,000 lives within a century hardly needs to be “replaced.”

Christians, and especially Americans, have long been misled about all this by their good fortune. Since the conversion of Rome, most Western rulers have been more or less inhibited by Christian morality (though, often enough, not so’s you’d notice), and even warfare became somewhat civilized for centuries; and this has bred the assumption that the state isn’t necessarily an evil at all. But as that morality loses its cultural grip, as it is rapidly doing, this confusion will dissipate. More and more we can expect the state to show its nature nakedly.

For me this is anything but a happy conclusion. I miss the serenity of believing I lived under a good government, wisely designed and benevolent in its operation. But, as St. Paul says, there comes a time to put away childish things.
Please allow me to suggest that you read the whole piece.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Ah, Yes ... Everything We Stand For

A few days old, this is, but I don't think it's all that time-sensitive; it was already rotten when it happened:
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Campaigning for Democratic candidates in New Hampshire, Vice President Joe Biden said Monday the party's base should "stop whining."


He said Democrats can win both races if they draw clear distinctions between themselves and their Republican opponents, and he urged Democrats to "remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives. This president has done an incredible job. He's kept his promises."


When asked to comment further about his "stop whining" remark, Biden said: "Those who ... didn't get everything they wanted, it's time to just buck up here, understand that we can make things better ... but not yield the playing field to those folks who are against everything we stand for."
As I can remember from my increasingly-distant past, this sort of talk is not exactly unknown to the Republican "base," either; particularly to the cultural-issues folks. Political parties -- aren't they wonderful? The playgrounds of vote-gathering technicians, like our illustrious Veep, the former senator from the great state of MasterCard Delaware. These people -- the political realists from both corporate-whore parties -- never met an idea, or a principle, that they didn't hate. Who needs that stuff? It just gets in the way of the real business of state: winning, and cutting up the swag.