Monday, November 23, 2009

Stories Concerning America

Why is America so great?  Why listen to me when you can read this excellent blogpost from Cameron Buettel, an Austrailian living in Denmark.  I originally read this post on Gene Veith's blog.  On the other hand, you might check out this previous blogpost.

Here are two articles concerning our capitalist system that should be read by everybody. Both have great imortance to economic conservatives such as myself.  In "Greed is not Good and it is not Capitalism" the author refers to the sterotype that capitalism makes a virtue of greed rather than a system that recognizes greed as part of the makeup of human nature and seeks to minimize its impact.  Unfortunately some conservatives have bought into the sterotype and equate capitalism and greed because they are ignorant of Capitalism's historic tenents.  The second article is a review of a biography of Ayn Rand.  Some Conservatives are looking to her philosophy as an antidote to Obama policies.  Unfortunately Rand's brand of economics resembles Libertarianism rather than Conservatism in that Libertarians favor unfettered economic and personal freedom (including sexual freedom, many libertarians fought California's Proposition 8)  while true conservatives favor free market activity and human freedom guided by our Constitutional system.  Rand's, and Libertarian philosophy rejects religious faith.

A "politically correct" controversy that has failed to ignite.

Here is an example of intellectual disdain for Evangelical political activity from INSIDE the Church.  I normally enjoy reading this blog and have linked to it for a long time.  This is not this blogger's best moment.  (Note: To avoid confusion, I think the last item should have read "American Conservative Evangelical political activity" instead of just "Evangelical political activity." I would have changed the original language, but if I did so the comments may not be understood in their original context.  Despite my original lack of clarity, the remarks are still valid.)  


John Stackhouse said...

Don't give up on me yet, Brother Guthrie! I'm not against evangelical political activity--not at all. I'm perplexed by this particular statement and, ironically enough, its LACK of a clear political implication! Thanks for reading my blog, and I hope you'll stay with me a while longer.

Mr. Guthrie said...

Dr. Stackhouse,thanks for your comment. I always look forward to reading what you have to say and glad to be able to link to your blog. I have no plans of removing that link.
The main problem I had with your post is not your view of pluralism in a democracy nor your view of whether or not the declaration will do any good. It is the attitude you express towards those of the Conservative Evangelical persuasion who are represented by the signers and whose views are articulated by that declaration. You appear to view their collective activity as those who are trying to dictate to the rest of the world how they should think, act and believe. Your reference to Colson's past is a case in point; you appear to link his past agressive illegal conduct as the norm for how all Conservative Political Evangelicals operate, as evidence as to how all Conservative political Evangelicals plan to distroy all political opposition. As for Colson, he himself has repudiated his past operating style and I don't think anyone can link his current political activity to his conduct before his conversion. I thought the reference to his past was inappropriate. The fact is that the Declaration is addressing those forces in society who are trying to dictate to individual Christians and Christian institutions how they will behave regardless of their religious belief. I will be more specific in my next comment. The computer I am using ast the public library is about to end my session it. I will continue my remarks as soon as I can.

Mr. Guthrie said...

I am now on my own computer and can now continue my remarks.
The pressure on Christians and Christian institutions to follow the dictates of a different world view despite their religious beliefs has increased greatly over the past decade. Recently, the Federal Government's Equal Employment Opportunity Agency has ruled that Catholic institutions must provide its employees with contraceptives despite the Catholic Church's opposition to the use of contraceptives. Failure to comply could result in lawsuits. ( ) One's opinion of Catholic teaching on this subject is not the point, but that the Federal Government is attempting to force Catholic institutions to violate their own religious beliefs. After the people of California voted overwhelmingly to approve Proposition 8 which forbids same sex marriage, opponents tried to force voting officials to make public who voted for the measure as well as force the release of those who gave money to those groups that supported the measure. These efforts had the backing of the Governor's Office. Efforts to do the same against opponents of same sex marriage in Maine are underway after Maine voted against same sex marriage. Evangelicals in the U.S. have been targeted as never before just for participating in the political process. It is for this reason why the Declaration was produced. Many of the signers are affiliated with institutions and ministies that would be subject to government pressure to violate their religious consciences and so they felt the need to publically declare that they will not obey rules which not only violate their mission but are a violation of our Constitution.
The fact is that there is no such thing as a value neutral society. The issue of such things as marriage affects all in a society. If it didn't, there would be no efforts to force Christian's to tow the line. By forbidding the enshrining of one view of marriage in law, a society automatically allows the opposite view to have the rule of law. Therefore it is legitimate for those who favor traditional marriage to seek government sanction for their view. There are no significant efforts in this country to prevent people from engaging in the lifestyle of their choice. I am not aware of any effort of any of the Declaration's signers to prevent others from living according to the dictates of their consciences. Those who reject traditional marriage have experienced freedom to exercise their choice; there is no need to enshrine their view of marriage into law, they cannot cite nationwide persecution that would necessitate their assault on those who disagree with them. There is no language in the Declaration that could lead any one to logically conclude that those who produced it seek to dictate to those who disagree.
I also take issue with your statements that few if any intellectual heavy weights signed the Declaration. So what? Does the lack of support from those you deem to be Intellectual leaders delegitimize the concerns of those for whom the Declaration speaks? Even if the signees lack certain quality brain matter, which I do not agree with, the group certainly contains enough spiritually qualified to speak to these issues. While I respect men such as Volf (whose "The End of Memory I reviewed on this blog), their lack of support in no way delegitimizes the Declaration.

Mr. Guthrie said...

My respose exceeded the allowed number of characters/comment, so I must create a new comment.
For nearly a century, the Evangelical Church buried its head in the sand, refusing to engage the culture. When the call from Church leaders to reengage came in the last few decades, it was the Conservative Evangelicals that responded. Being unengaged with the culture for so long naturally led to a lack of sophisticated theological response on the part of Consevative Evangelicals. This has led to some intellectual Christians to be embarrassed by their brothers and sisters, so much so that they would rather adopt the sterotypes promulgated by their opponents rather than be seen associating with them. It appears from your post that you listen to these critics too much in forming your opinions on the actions of your brothers and sisters in this matter.

John Stackhouse said...

Well, I'll have to conclude by saying just this: You've read my blog, so you know I'm not against public theology, not against public involvement, not against standing up for what's right, etc., etc. We're not arguing about that--or we shouldn't be.

My critique is much more focused than that: I'm saying that this Declaration is both politically and philosophically incoherent and that it does little more than "sound off." It is, in a word, useless. Disagree with those points, if you like, but please don't misconstrue what I'm saying. I respectfully suggest that you're really not disagreeing with what I said in the post.

Thanks for the engagement. Other duties call...

Mr. Guthrie said...

I did not intend to say you are against all theological involvement, but perhaps my wording of the post and comments appeared to be saying that. I may not always be clear in attempting to express myself. I look forward to reading your blog in the future.