Monday, April 09, 2012

1 Chron 12:32 report (New Series) 102: Responding to Mr Obama -- a typical "progressive," ideological, charismatic, messianistic politician -- as well as Mr Romney and others of like ilk that are so often splashed across our TV screens, and calling us to reformation

Pardon some plain speaking on matters political, or more properly about political messianism (the tendency we have to look to politicians to save us from our troubles); which I regard as a dangerous spiritual challenge in our region and beyond.

Please forgive, too, inevitable ruffled feathers; I am trying to help us come to a sounder balance in our politics, and am citing Mr Obama and Mr Romney et al because such are a topical case in point of a far wider problem. With serious implications for the likely course of the next several years in both our region and the world beyond.

Now, I first heard of Mr Obama when I saw him on a black American magazine cover as a suggested possible president of the USA, about 2006/7; in our local public library.

However, ever since 2007/8, I have said very little in this blog about Mr Obama, the first black president of the USA. Partly, that is because he is evidently of a political type that ever since Jamaica's experience with Mr Michael Manley in the 1970's, I have been utterly repelled by. So, I felt that the safest thing would be to say but little about him. 

In even more important part, too, I felt and feel that our problems with pols of that sort -- or of the corrupt cronyism sort that is also all too familiar --are a lot closer to home. 

Their name is, sadly, Legion.

But now, I think the time has come to speak to the case that is dominating headlines and will be dominating them for months to come as the US Election cycle rises towards its quadrennial peak in November.

For, I think we need to stop, and think twice.

Now, I have long been on record that I consider that political messianism of any stripe is a species of idolatry, and that it leads where idolatry always leads: bondage, chaos, destruction. 

By such political messianism I mean the notion of the politician as anointed, charismatic saviour or media-glamourised superman, who is going to magically deliver us from our troubles and carry us on his broad shoulders to utopia or some close facsimile thereof. The sort of pol that people fall in love with, and often blindly follow. A sadly familiar type.

To see it at its extreme form, cf. this Nazi party poster picture of Hitler, complete with baptismal river, twisted, broken cross flag, descending bomber-bird [quite a portent], aura of light from above, and with a stream of followers behind:

(No, I am not specifically or generally comparing any given pol to Hitler, I am just pointing out where political messianism can go if it is left unchecked in an era of crises.)

In recent years, I have seen nothing to change my view on the destructive nature of political messianism. Indeed, what I have seen instead is that the ongoing breakdown of the Christian consensus in our civilisation and the onrushing tidal wave surges of de-christianisation from the North, including a dimension that is politically messianistic (though obviously nowhere near so outrageously blasphemously idolatrous as we just saw for Hitler):

The two tidal wave threats, which respond to the internal weaknesses in our region

What is worrying me is that being gulled into political messianism even in the weaker forms  can over time make us peculiarly vulnerable -- as the addiction progresses -- to pols who are full-blown manifestations of the Nietzschean superman, who imagine that they are above morality and have power to deliver utopia or a reasonable facsimile thereof. 

That sort of amoral nihilism tends to be reinforced by the rise of evolutionary materialist atheism as an assumed "educated person's rational worldview," which is actually ideological false advertising and illogical rubbish. 

And no, I am not saying that all atheists are amoral, just I am pointing out that evolutionary materialism since the days of Plato, has correctly been understood as having no grounding IS that can objectively warrant OUGHT. That resulting worldview level amorality, relativism and subjectivism have serious and sobering implications. A repeated, too often ignored, lesson of history, starting with Alcibiades. [Kindly read the just linked and the onward linked, if you doubt me.]

I can freely say that because I can show -- and for 25 years have publicly shown, cf here and here on in context -- that evolutionary materialism (which likes to dress up in the holy lab coat and demand that we genuflect in humble acknowledgement of the superiority of science as "the only begetter of knowledge") is demonstrably illogical and in fact absurd. 

This, as it invariably reduces mind to accumulated forces of chance and necessity acting through evolutionary genetics driven by differential reproductive success and psychosocial conditioning, fatally undermining its own vaunted rationality. It is patently self-refuting, thus absurd. 

As a simple sampler, let us notice Haldane's unanswered challenge from the turn of the 1930's:
"It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms." ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)] 
And, evolutionary materialism is also inherently, inescapably amoral, for -- cf. here on in context -- it has no worldview foundational IS that can objectively ground OUGHT. So, as Plato long since showed in his 360 BC The Laws, Bk X, it is forced to posit that might and manipulation make 'right.' 

Since I have seen hateful, irresponsible objectors dismiss this without paying it serious attention, let me cite and annotate with onward links:
[[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . . 

[[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here],  these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . .

In short, Paul's endarkenment- reprobation dynamic of Romans 1& Eph 4  is working out on the ground here, yet again.

That is:
1 -->  once men willfully turn their backs on the evident truth that God is, and 

2 --> dismiss the insight that he is a good and upright God whom we ought to love and love as well other men made equally in his image as we are, so that 

3 --> God is the ground of our being and the Moral Governor of the Universe, 

4 --> their rebellious minds and hearts fall into a vortex of false wisdom that endarkens and benumbs, 

5 --> leading to folly in the name of wisdom, moral chaos in lives and societies, and the inversion of right and wrong described in Isa 5:20 - 21
Sadly, resemblance to what we are seeing all around us is NOT coincidental. 

(BTW, it therefore escapes me why we are so neglectful of solid grounding of our young people in our churches, and why we are willing to hand our youngsters over to media voices, teachers and professors who are only too willing to indoctrinate them in such ideologies of rebellion against God under the false colours of science, education, critical thinking, career preparation, etc. It is high time that we created robust education alternatives, and the rise of the Internet allows us to do so cost effectively.)

I know that Mr Obama continues to be very popular in our region and elsewhere, because he is the first black president of the USA, and moreover because he scratches our anti-colonialist itch and sense of outrage at the West in light of its real and imagined sins. (Let us not forget that he Nobel Prize Committee hardly had him settled in office before they awarded him the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.  That should tell us something, something that we may not want to hear, but need to hear and ponder.)

He also continues to be the darling of the global progressive media, which in 2007/8 consistently failed to ask and thoroughly explore relevant, pointed questions about his background, ideology, vision of the world and of the future for our civilisation, capabilities, experience, qualifications and more. 

That means he got and gets a lot of favourable spin, and convenient silences where he stumbles or has failed. [I am particularly concerned about the way the Arab Spring of last year has rapidly -- and predictably -- turned into an IslamIST winter, with sobering portents for massive conflict with global consequences.]  

As fair comment, it should be quite evident that the dominant US Media, have long been more or less dominated by the so-called "progressive" or "liberal" -- make that, radical secularist, and/or fellow traveller --wing of Mr Obama's party.

Similarly, those who question or challenge him therefore get the media buzz-saw treatment. Typical of our highly ideological age; we therefore need to learn how to evaluate media, not just swallow its party-line and strawman-scapegoat tactics. (Cf. my Straight/Spin grading grid approach here.)

Of course, Mr Obama's four-year term in office is now approaching its end, and he faces re-election.

Almost inevitably, the likely Republican opponent is of lacklustre stripe. 

This probable opponent, seemingly, cannot even carry his own party beyond, "hold your nose and vote."  
(This requires some explanation, as there has been a lot of spin on this too. Please forgive further ruffled feathers. Many informed observers will explain why Mormonism is highly questionable as a worldview framework, and that its claims to be merely a Christian denomination are misleading. I know, this may be painful to read [cf. the just linked and onward linked]. But, there is a sobering reason why it has long been identified as one of the major cults of Christianity. Mormonism is simply not within the pale of the historic Christian Faith. And when a group presents itself as legitimately Christian, but is materially diverse from the historic Christian faith, that painful word, regrettably, is applicable; as we can read in say Walter Martin's classic, The Kingdom of the Cults. So, the "how dare you say that" media spin tactics of our day should not be allowed to drive our thinking about such serious matters. And, if someone -- no matter how successful as a business man or as a politician at state level -- has that sort of worldview foundation problem, his or her ability to soundly take on the most difficult executive job in the world is going to be questionable, even if many people who feel vaguely uncomfortable cannot put their thoughts and feelings into words acceptable to the power elites and their media spokesmen. President of the USA requires a clear-eyed, sound vision of the world and coherent, well-informed insightful balance that takes far more than the sort of technical competence, likeableness or personal and family background that can make one successful in a business or in the sort of executive office that runs a State government.)
Against that sobering backdrop on both sides of the US political aisle, I now invite readers to view with me the following Dinesh D'Souza video presentation, which argues from the "dreams from my father" theme in his biography, that Obama is in essence an anticolonialist (and by implication a radical socialist, however he may veil it . . . ) who envisions his anticipated second term as the period in which he can drastically advance his radical agenda:

We may not want to hear this, or may in the end decide that D'Souza is wrong, but we need to at least hear this out. Certainly, the recent open mike incident with outgoing Russian leader Dmitri Medvedev, gives one sobering pause in that context:

Of course, even a Google search will quickly show that there has been a lot of damage control, and the media by and large highlighted that "no problem there" response, making the matter seem inconsequential. (Cf here for a relatively balanced discussion.)

But it will be clear that Mr Obama has a second term agenda, and here is speaking to a geostrategic competitor of his nation while he thought the public was not listening, in terms that raise serious -- and unanswered -- questions about the nature of his intended policy direction; those were not in doubt about the likes of Reagan or Bush 43 when they had open mic moments or the like. Spin notwithstanding, there is, plainly, a deep rooted perception that there is an agenda here that Mr Obama feels that he cannot now frankly disclose to the people before whom he is accountable in a democratic polity, instead of putting it before them to gain a clear and specific mandate to act. 

That is certainly consistent with the vagueness of his last campaign as well and the degree to which his rather radical background was glided over in a convenient silence; e.g. he is plainly a disciple of Saul Alinsky, and that should give us pause. So should the fact that most of us have never heard of that key name. 

But plainly, "trust me" politics is long since past sell-by date. 

Moreover, that implied hidden agenda is not just going to be on things like nuclear weapons, it is going to be far broader, by the very nature of the case.

It is high time for us to wake up and take a far more critical look at Mr Obama and Mr Romney et al, then ask, why is it that we are not getting a clear, balanced, fearlessly objective picture of what is going on. 

Then, we need to connect the dots to the rise of the great apostasy of the past few centuries in our civilisation, including in our churches, leading to the present "Post-" [actually, more correctly "Ultra-"] modern era

After that, let us take the time to transfer our lessons to our own region. 

What are our own pols like, mikes off, behind closed doors?

What are their agendas?

Is our news and views coverage giving us a straight picture of what is going on, or are we being manipulated and kept in the dark about what is really going on?

Is there a carefully cultivated messianic image that projects some of our more popular pols as though they were specially anointed to deliver us to a new promised land?

Are we being invited to hand them a "trust me" political blank checque every five or so years?

How informed and capable are we as electorates?

Have we made the effort to understand pivotal policy issues and what it will take to carry our nations through the rough waters of these times? 

Have we determined to make the sacrifices that a sound and genuinely sustainable development path will take? (Kindly cf. 2002 JTS/CGST public lecture and paper here and here. Yes, that is now ten years ago, what have we done as a region and as a church?)

Have we become tolerant of corruption, misbehaviour, godlessness and the like on the part of our pols?

Do we demand high integrity in public office? And not just from those we don't like?

Do we demand high integrity of ourselves?

What, further, is the spiritual condition of our region?

Then, in light of our answers, we need to ponder on the spiritual tidal waves pounding on our shores from the North and from the East, and what we should do to ready ourselves to understand the signs of our times, and stand in a difficult and challenging day that points to even more difficult and challenging days ahead. 

Then, too, we must be ready, not just to stand; we need to be ready to equip ourselves to rise up as a wave of godly response as the Spirit calls us to go forth to the region and wider world with the good news of the Kingdom of God in our day. 

And yes, I am saying that the time-bound kingdoms of man too often are driven by a form of distractive idolatry that leads today's Caesars to -- like the notorious Nero of old -- demand from us which belongs only to God.

We do need government, we do need politicians, we do need policies, but in our time, such should again be informed by the counsel of David's son, Solomon, so long ago now:
Psalm 127
    A song of ascents. Of Solomon.
 1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
   its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
   the watchmen stand guard in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
   and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
   for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves . . . 

Oh, how often -- to our loss or even ruin -- we are tempted to forget that. 

Much less, to forget that this applies to us, our own homes, businesses, churches, schools, places of entertainment, newspapers, radio stations and TV channels, etc etc etc.

In short, I am calling for repentance and reformation.

It's not just candidates for President of the US, or for Prime Minister in our region, etc. It is about us.

Howbeit, some of us are so eaten out by a one-sided view of history and issues, that -- I know the sort of spiteful snide and vituperative comment this is liable to stir in hate sites that have no hesitation to wrench words out of context, to smear and slander -- they will see in the sort of issues I have reluctantly raised, a call for "right-wing Christo-fascist theocracy," which is of course, shudder, the worst most destructive form of tyranny known to man, responsible for all the worst wars and oppressions, etc, etc.


Secularist spin-driven strawman tactic scapegoating rubbish. 

(How quickly we learn to tune out the moans of 100 million ghosts from the secularist and neo-pagan tyrannies of the century just past, and the chaos these kingdoms of man have left in their wake, within living memory.)

Yes, there have been many times and places where men have twisted and corrupted godliness and religion through envy and selfish ambition to advance their own agendas, and so have cost thousands and even millions their lives; I think here especially of the horrible 30 years war in the Germany of C17.  

Here is the apostle James on that subject: 
James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 
 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. 

4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?[a] 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
   “God opposes the proud
   but gives grace to the humble.”[b]

 So also, if we pull back the curtain just a bit, we will see the key manipulators behind the scenes, as classically portrayed by Revelations 13; the first beast of idolatrous political messianism supported and even manipulated by the second beast of corrupt religious misleadership:

These beasts from the sea and from the earth led by the dragon, have long haunted history, and repeatedly have turned it into a bloody mess. 

They have even managed to turn secularism in various ideological forms into a new kind of secular political quasi-religion that fuses the forces of the two beasts into the idolatry of secularist and neo-pagan political messiahs.

Hence, the moans of 100 million ghosts from the century just past.

The moans that the latest waves of spin doctors would have us tune out and forget.

I will be direct.

There is nothing wrong with a genuine fear of God that leads to a national consciousness based on the reverential, loving fear of God, respect for the rule of law and legitimate leadership in the community seen as the servants of God to do us good by defending the civil peace of justice. With room for the prophets to blow the whistle and warn us when things go wrong, calling us back to repentance and reformation. 

Indeed, let us remember how John Locke, setting out to ground the principles of liberty in Ch 2 sect 5 of his famous 2nd Treatise on Civil Government, cited "the judicious [Anglican Canon Richard] Hooker," in his classic Ecclesiastical Polity, 1594+: 

. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man's hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.]

And of course this work is therefore a direct root of the foundation of modern liberty and democracy.

But, hardly will you ever hear that today.

Pardon, since it is Easter Monday, I feel a need to speak to a side of the gospel message that is usually not spoken out in our region.

For, indeed, that sort of prophetic whistleblowing mentioned above is exactly what happened on the first Palm Sunday, when Jesus -- seated on the prophesied donkey -- came across the brow of Mt Olives and descended to the city of Jerusalem with the joyous pilgrims who were clearly seeing him as the longed for Son of David; weeping for the city that killed its prophets ever so often. 

A fate he had warned his disciples, repeatedly, he was about to share.

He then -- face set like a flint -- proceeded to cleanse the Temple of corrupt business practices that made exploitative merchandise out of godliness [looks like, for the SECOND time in three years], and then stood up in the Temple day by day to teach the truth, repeatedly answering the poisonous, loaded questions that were meant to discredit him in front of the crowds. 

Or, even to trigger his death: is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar? Yes -- and you are lynched as a traitor to Israel. No -- and you are a rebel against Rome.

Dead meat either way.

No wonder they were astonished by the unanswerable wisdom in his reply: give to Caesar what is his, and to God what is his. 

Where of course the implication is that Caesar could not get to be Caesar unless God had allowed him, the God who holds rulers to account for doing good and defending the civil peace of justice. (And the very reason why Israel was under the Roman boot was that some of its own corrupt elites in the 60's BC -- 100 years after semi-independence had been won from the Greek rulers of Syria at bitter cost,  had asked the Romans to intervene in a civil conflict over who was to rule Israel. Once they came in, they never left. Lessons from history. History that would have been live in the minds of those who were listening in the Temple that day, but which we are prone to overlook today.)

The corrupt elites of 30 AD, of course, would have none of this nonsense of country-bumpkin prophets from out in the bush -- yes, Jesus was a bush-preacher -- coming to town, standing up and calling them to account in the name of God.

So, they cleverly schemed and bought his death for thirty pieces of silver [there is ALWAYS a Judas close to hand . . . ], then came to arrest Jesus by night through the infamous betraying kiss of death. 

Let us notice how he stood up and rebuked Peter -- who clearly was trying to launch the revolution by swinging the first sword stroke against corrupt officials. He then healed his oppressor. 

He peacefully submitted to the persecution and unlawful arrest. 

He told the truth -- that he was the End of Days Son of Man -- when it was extracted under a compelling oath that to remain silent under was to blaspheme. He plainly told Pilate that his Kingdom was not of this world. 

In love he then went to the cross as Lamb of God. 

Reviled and mocked cruelly, he sought to do what a true shepherd of souls does: he brought one last soul across the threshold into life with him, the penitent thief on the cross who repented at the very last. 

Then, buried in the prophesied borrowed rich man's tomb and placed under guard, he showed his true glory, by rising from the dead, with over 500 witnesses. And, he ascended to the Right hand of His Father, whence at the right Day he shall come to judge the quick and the dead, and to establish the eternal kingdom of God.

Oh, yes, every cross on every church spire is a rebuke to the first and the second beasts and their corrupt, unjust schemes and lies.

In every day and age.

Including our own.

Never mind silly rhetoric about houses of hate and coffers of blood money.

(If you want to call the Christian faith a deceitful fraud, I invite you to first examine here on and here on as a 101 level introduction, subjecting your own preferred worldview to serious scrutiny as well.)

In fact, if we study the relevant history of ideas and of the rise of modern liberty a bit closer, we will learn that modern liberty and democracy have in large part grown in the Bible-based soil of the liberation struggles against the two beasts, leading to the dual Biblical visions of nationhood and responsible and legitimate, accountable government under God. (If you doubt me, please work through the just linked. Then ask yourself why it is that what you see there is not a commonplace.)

Yes, we must indeed frankly face the sins of our civilisation, but we must not allow an unbalanced focus on the wrongs of Christendom to lead us to forget its blessings. Among these is the rise of modern liberty and democracy. (And BTW, so are the rise of modern science and the modern university, modern education, the hospital etc etc etc.)

In a poisonously polarised era, it is all too easy to forget that.

Or, maybe, we just plain never heard of this in school or on TV or on the Web.

No prizes for guessing why.

So, instead of allowing our minds to be polarised and poisoned by those with agandas that may well not have our best interests in heart, let us heed the wise, hard-bought counsel of Bernard Lewis in his classic -- indeed, epochal -- 1990 essay, The Roots of Muslim Rage:
. . . The accusations are familiar. We of the West are accused of sexism, racism, and imperialism, institutionalized in patriarchy and slavery, tyranny and exploitation. To these charges, and to others as heinous, we have no option but to plead guilty -- not as Americans, nor yet as Westerners, but simply as human beings, as members of the human race. In none of these sins are we the only sinners, and in some of them we are very far from being the worst. The treatment of women in the Western world, and more generally in Christendom, has always been unequal and often oppressive, but even at its worst it was rather better than the rule of polygamy and concubinage that has otherwise been the almost universal lot of womankind on this planet . . . .
In having practiced sexism, racism, and imperialism, the West was merely following the common practice of mankind through the millennia of recorded history. Where it is distinct from all other civilizations is in having recognized, named, and tried, not entirely without success, to remedy these historic diseases. And that is surely a matter for congratulation, not condemnation. We do not hold Western medical science in general, or Dr. Parkinson and Dr. Alzheimer in particular, responsible for the diseases they diagnosed and to which they gave their names.
Food for thought.

And, as we chew slowly on such meat to equip us to do better than we have done, let us realise that sobering, challenging, probably turbulent and chaotic times seem to be ahead, so let us prepare. END