Friday, October 29, 2010

The assault on the 13th Amendment continues.... evidently Congressman Charlie Rangel has introduced a national service act that would require young people to serve the government for a period of two years.

If you want to know why this is a bad idea--beyond the reality of the 13th Amendment being egregiously violated of course--just ask any soldier who served in Vietnam and continued through the Reagan years about the ability and motivation of drafted soldiers vs. volunteers.   There was a reason that the Persians had their best troops driving their second best troops into the all-volunteer killing machine of the Spartans at Thermopylae, to put it mildly, which is the same reason the Soviets needed to put their best machine guns BEHIND the first wave of infantry during World War Two. 

One would figure that Mr. Rangel would have some historical memories that would make him abhor this idea, but apparently not.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Final thought on cowboy pastors

It occurs to me that not only is it poor form and practice to be a cowboy pastor, it's also poor form and practice to "drive" one's colleagues at work.

Thankfully, I'm learning this by trying to "shepherd" colleagues I'm responsible for and watching the results as others "drive" them, and not vice versa.  It is as if people.....remember how they're treated, and whether or not they are of the flock, or even the fold, they are more like sheep than cattle. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Teetotaling revisited

I got to thinking last night about the last few churches I've attended, and one thing that I've noticed is that as I sit down with somebody, they very often will share their testimony of faith with me--dirty laundry and all.  I've noticed that not too many have actually had difficulties with alcohol.  I can (but won't) name a few, but all in all, it's not that prevalent.

In short, the old idea about "we are teetotalers to protect those disposed towards alcoholism" is not exactly true.  Of course, if we were serious about reaching out to those without Christ, that might change, but we are where we are.

On the other hand, I have noticed a lot of cases where....let's just say that while a case of beer or a bottle of wine were not involved, a case of Mountain Dew and a crate of Doritos were--beer guts sans beer, more or less.  Which leads to an interesting fact from history; mankind seems to have an interesting compulsion to get a lot of sugar and fat in the diet, followed by alcohol. 

Along the same lines, one theory of weight control is that the overweight person is generally not seeking sustenance from their food and drink, but rather a certain amount of taste.  Some have even encountered significant weight loss simply by adding spices to their food; having indulged their taste buds, they stop eating and watch the pounds slip off.

Not a bad idea, and it leads to a secondary thought.  Everyone who has been given a sip of beer or wine knows that they tend to have stronger flavors than pop (even mass produced American swill), right?

Would it follow, then, that it might be a good thing for American evangelicals and fundamentalists to imitate their Lord and enjoy a cup of wine from time to time?  That instead of 20 ounces of Coke with 250 calories, they'd get six ounces of wine with about 100 calories--and maybe enjoy it more as well?  Instead of that Coke with 250 calories, would it be better (especially come Thanksgiving time) to enjoy a glass of beer with about 150 calories?  Keep in mind as well that, unlike Coke, liquor does generally have some actual nutritional value--Christ got much of his Vitamin C, most likely, from wine.

An odd thought for a fundamentalist Baptist like myself, but sometimes we need to go where Scripture and science lead, no?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Time preferences

Vox Day reports on an interesting event overseas; evidently a gentleman (loosely speaking) who had received $120,000 from Exxon Mobil managed to get rid of it all in four months by giving most of it to his 10 wives and spending over $20,000 to buy another wife. This is, of course, a classic example of a short term time preference, along with giving a bum a buck for "a sandwich", or perhaps Michelle Obama's alleged shopping spree while in Spain.

He further notes, and is correct, that capital formation, and the accumulation of wealth and long term prosperity, relies on a longer term time preference, so any nation that (like, say, the United States) consistently takes from those who save and gives to those who don't is, economically speaking, doomed.  It will torpedo economic growth simply by diverting money from capital investment to spending.  The Chinese and Thais will profit as a result.

Note also that "demand side" economics is essentially this phenomenon, and it's a core to the Keynesian "orthodoxy" that characterizes our current leadership, so invest in precious metals (gold, silver, brass, copper clad lead, and ordinance steel) accordingly. 

Our economy will recover if, and only if, government stops rewarding spendthrifts.  Unfortunately, even if the GOP retakes both houses of Congress, I don't see this happening.  I hope I am wrong.

Sorry, Tylenol.....

....but being at risk for both heart disease and colon cancer, I'm thinking my painkilling needs will be nicely handled by aspirin.

Obama pulls ahead!

By apparently skipping the meal at a $7500/plate dinner, and (this is hilarious) excusing himself by (just before dinner mind you) noting that he's got to get out there and pick up dog droppings.

Jimmuh is going to have trouble matching this one!

Interesting note on the KJV

When looking at any Bible translation, it always helps to understand where the translators are coming from.  With most any English translation, for example, "baptizo" is transliterated (letter equivalents) instead of translated as "immerse."  The TNIV (New Gelded Version) tends to obscure the gender of important pronouns due to its "evangelical feminist" bent, a pattern duplicated in many translations commissioned by liberal, mainline denominations for the same reason.

Last weekend, I noted a very interesting translation in the KJV; look at Matthew 28:18-20, and note that it instructs the apostles to "teach all nations", a pattern repeated in parallel verses.  In contrast, all modern translations with which I'm familiar translate this as "make disciples of all nations".   I'm told that the Greek translates far better to "make disciples".

Now it's not a completely unforgiveable difference; the root word in Greek is the same for both "teach" and "disciple."  Moreover, it is possible that these societies would have understood "teach" in the mode of a master-apprentice relationship, which is in many ways close to Biblical discipleship.

On the other hand, it's also a fact that at this time, the clergy were of a distinct economic and political class from those in the pews--you had to be upper class, or sponsored by the same, to go to the universities, after all.  In this light, it is somewhat harder to imagine this being a master-apprentice relationship, but rather the translators (who were predominantly university trained Anglicans, after all) were understanding such a relationship in the light of their experience; professor-student, or clergy-laity.

Whichever is the case, we certainly understand the word "teach" today as professor-lecture hall, pastor--auditorium, and so on--not as the intimate interaction Christ had with the apostles.  This suggests a question; if indeed the KJV (purposefully or otherwise) obscures the real nature of discipleship by using a translation that doesn't communicate this to today's people, would we not assume that churches which exclusively use the KJV may have some difficulty making disciples?  Would we not assume that  they would tend towards an episcopal-style rule of the pastor, and spiritual immaturity of the congregants?

Whether or not this is the cause, it is certainly the effect I've seen where the pastor calls the shots, and congregants are more interested in whether their friends are using the KJV than in real understanding of Biblical doctrines.  In short, while reading and handing out Chick tracts about the (imagined and real) faults of the Catholic Church, they are.....duplicating, in many ways, the imagined and real faults they decry.

If one wonders why a literary education--the kind that will allow a pastor or congregant to investigate translation biases and meanings in the original languages--is important, this is an excellent example. 

Stiff competition....

....exists for "most clueless President in history" these days.  Former (thank God!) President Carter made his case earlier this week by claiming that his administration had "harmony" with virtually every nation on earth--ignoring little places like "Iran" and the "Soviet Union," and ignoring the little fact that half the world was under totalitarian slavery at the time.

Yesterday, however, President Obama raised the ante by suggesting that Republicans will need to "sit in the back" during an economic recovery.  One would figured that a black man, of all people, would make the obvious connection to Rosa Parks and "get to the back of the bus," but apparently not.  I figure that this comment should probably be good for the Democrats to lose about three to five more Congressional seats than they were bound to lose without this insanely stupid comment.

We'll keep you posted, and it looks like a humdinger of a contest here for "Most Clueless President in History."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Consequences of the "Trail of Blood" and Landmarkism

Building on my earlier post regarding Landmark Baptists, it occurred to me that it's not just what appears to be a factual error (three secondary/tertiary quotes does not a historical fact make), but also will tend to be a ruinous bit of dogma in the church.

How so?  Let's take the milder case first; the claim that there were always Baptists through history.  Why so?

Well, consider the claim; it doesn't have any precedent in Scripture, but it is stated as if it is vastly important.  It's not only a violation of the principles of logic (ancient is not equal to true, Molech worship is ancient as well), but also serves as a diversion from the more important issues of theology that--hey let's face it--the American church desperately needs. 

In short, emphasizing a "Trail of Blood" serves to make believers....immature, and as was noted before, it's an effective de-emphasis of the doctrine of sola scriptura.  Ironically, in trying to counter Catholic rhetoric about ancience, they're becoming more....Catholic, the very thing they want to avoid.

Full Landmarkism--the argument that the only true churches follow a "Trail of Blood," and even that one can only be saved if one is baptised in such a church--do things far worse.  Not only is it a more significant violation of sola scriptura, but the requirement of a "Landmark" to be a valid church or believer violates sola gratia, sola fide, and solus Christus (grace alone, faith alone, and Christ alone) as well.

In other words, the one, or church, which subscribes to Landmarkism more or less throws out significant parts of the Reformation, and those whose rhetoric most avidly rejects the Catholic church become, more or less.....


I bet my friend Gino enjoys this irony immensely!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Consequences of corporate/cowboy ministry; down to brass tacks

I had thought that perhaps I would go through a virtually litany of effects of corporate/cowboy pastoring,'s a little bit more simple than I originally thought, I've come to think.

That is, cowboy and corporate pastoring adversely impacts the doctrines of "sola scriptura," "perspicuity of the Scriptures," and congregational/presbyterian church polity.  How so?

Well, if the Scripture indeed tells us that it is sufficient (2 Tim 3:16-17) for teaching, reproof, and training in righteousness, what does it tell us when someone ignores the call to shepherd and instead uses corporate or cowboy methods to drive the sheep?

It tells us, to some degree, that this person does not fully believe in Sola Scriptura; that the Scripture alone has the answers he needs.  When a person says "my way or the highway," in addition, he's more or less saying he doesn't believe in the perspicuity of Scripture--that God's people, counseled by God's Spirit, will achieve the will of God through the application of the Word of God.   He rather trusts his own will and force of personality to is it a Biblical, or the pastor's, goal in mind here?  It is, sad to say, not always clear--unBiblical methods of making disciples make not only the flock immature, but also.....their shepherd.

When we get to this point, congregational or presbyterian church polity is also at risk, as these church polities require that the congregation be competent to decide important matters.  In short, allowing, or encouraging, cowboy or corporate methods will start to transform a church from congregational or elder rule to episcopal polity. 

Not that leaders intend to do this, but it is one of our blind spots, and one we ought to watch out for.  And as my friend Jim says, keep an eye on the church constitution.  This kind of thing is exactly what such documents are intended to prevent.

Another good example; when I was a deacon at a church in Boulder, our pastor often posted the deacons' meeting minutes for the entire congregation.  He trusted the Spirit of God to move the people of God according to the Word of God.  Not all deliberations can be public, but we had a sweet spirit there in part because everyone knew what was going on.

It's like we need to put away the lasso and powerpoint, and pick up our shepherd's staff, or something like that.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Consequence 2 of cowboy/corporate pastoring; ineffective members

First of all, I hope that the claims I am making here are not borne out in fact; if some of what I say is, or becomes, wrong, I rejoice.

That said, if "cowboy" or corporate pastoring leads to spiritual immaturity in the flock, we can also assume that the same will lead to ministry ineffectiveness.  To draw a picture from a corporate setting, my managers were surprised to learn that my knowledge of German was sufficient (mostly) to interact with one of our suppliers, even though this appears on my resume.  A huge failing on their part?  No; it's simply what Hayek and others would call the "problem of knowledge"; one man cannot possibly hold every bit of information for ready use.

In a church setting, the pastor and deacons will not--especially if they are driving the sheep--realize that the person they need for redecorating the Sunday school rooms is a quiet young lady with gifts like Martha Stewart's.  She's been "driven" into the corner.  The guy they need to rework the roof?  Sitting in another corner.  The guy whose initiative could canvass the entire city in a week with flyers for the Christmas program?  He's been goaded into stretching his voice to a mediocre tenor in the choir.

You see, if we're going to exercise gifts like those described in 1 Corinthians 12 and elsewhere, a corporate approach will be problematic, as it tends to put square pegs in round holes.  If gifts are to be used, they need to be discovered in a way consistent with that of the Scriptures, not John Wayne or Dale Carnegie.

An example; a couple of churches ago, I was the deacon (by inclination) for nurseries, and was surprised to see two women come forward to arrange the nursery schedule and cleaning.  Nobody ever asked them, but they did a far better job than I could have.  Another decided to make Sunday mornings easier by calling nursery workers a day ahead of time.

What had happened?  The pastor, to this day a dear friend, had simply mentioned to the congregation that when people served in the nursery, parents (especially moms) were free to relax and listen to the sermon.  Fully 2/3 of the adults signed up from a church that had previously had few children in attendance.  So when Pastor Devries preached on Ephesians 5:22-33 and a baby boom ensued, we were ready.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Side track; thoughts on the Landmark and KJV only movement

Two recurring themes in fundamental Baptist thought are the idea of Landmarkism/Trail of Blood and the idea that the church ought to prefer the KJV above other translations, or even to ban the use of other translations altogether.  Interestingly, they are linked by a most unlikely (at least to those in these movements) document; Jerome's Vulgate, the Bible in Latin.

First, here's a primer on the "Trail of Blood" from a source that fully endorses it.  If you read it carefully, you'll find that the claim that there were "always Baptists" really rests, as far as I can tell, on three (likely suspect) quotes of Newton, Mosheim, and Hosius on page 4--and none of them are primary sources, all of them being born after the Fall of Constantinople.  Were I a lawyer, I'd not like to rest my case on this evidence! 

More or less, it appears that the "Trail of Blood" is simply a way of trying to establish that Baptist theology is ancient--under the idea that if it's old, it's right, just like the theories of luminiferous aether, caloric, and Aristotelian physics are better than the work of Einstein, Rumford, and Newton because they are older, too.  (yet another reason why you should learn logic and teach it to your children)

Let us now consider the Vulgate.  The significance of this is that Europe was largely illiterate in the Dark and Middle Ages, and the only Bible the few literate people had would have been the Vulgate.  Love it or hate it, it is what they had, and here's how they translated the Greek word "baptizo."

"Baptizo"  with Latin conjugations.  In other words, a Greek word with a primary meaning of "immerse" (and numerous related meanings) was replaced--as in the KJV--with a transliterated word referring only to the ordinance of baptism. 

Now consider; how are you going to figure out that the Bible tells you to immerse if it doesn't use that word, and you neither know Greek nor have access to Greek manuscripts?  It is possible one might infer it from the Baptism of John, but doubtful--our paedobaptist friends have numerous explanations for that passage.

So we see that unless somehow the knowledge of Greek penetrated these churches, it is extremely doubtful that they would have become Baptists.  Interestingly, most Landmark Baptists will insist on the KJV, which of course....

...makes the same translation choice, or "error" if you will, as the Vulgate.

I treasure authentic fundamentalism, and I treasure authentic Baptist distinctives.  However, holding to theories in the face of a lack of evidence and a Bible translation most Protestants abhorred until the 18th century (it had the apocrypha until then) seems like an odd way to hold to what truly distinguishes Baptists.

Consequence #1 of cowboy pastoring; spiritual immaturity in the flock

As my wife and I contemplated the results of driving the sheep instead of leading them, using a corporate approach instead of the Biblical, it seems that the "scattering of the sheep" as they are driven instead of led will lead to lower spiritual maturity.

How so?  Aren't the cowboy pastors telling people to evangelize, pray, and read the Scriptures for themselves?

Well, absolutely, but consider the two guys we all knew in college; one was smart and did his homework because he had to, and the other lived for his major.  Which one did you want to hire when you got done?

OK, maybe the "geek" had some other issues, but if you really wanted to get somewhere with his subject, you'd be talking to him, wouldn't you?  The same thing goes for study of the Scriptures; if you want to know who is going to really know and apply them, you're going to look for the person with internal motivation.

And so we find that if we should desire to have congregants read and apply the Scripture for themselves, it would seem that the pastor who excites the desire of his flock to enjoy the Word by leading them to that green pasture would have a much better chance than the cowboy who tries to drive his flock through the desolate areas to that same pasture.

It's like the example I drew yesterday; those who knew the glories of the Gospel from interaction with the apostles evangelized almost without being told to do so.  They made disciples without that admonition, and their prayers ascended up to Heaven as a sweet smelling savor.  We've got something to learn from them.

An example of people learning from the first century; I once visited a church in Kiel, Germany, which had been bombed out and renovated in a singular way.  I talked with the pastor--who had lost some fingers in the Battle of the Bulge--about why the historic vaulted ceilings had not been restored, but rather steel columns now supported a light roof.

He mentioned that reading of ancient church history had suggested that the early church did not in general sit theater-style in parallel rows, but rather sat in a circle.  Hence the pews were arranged in that manner so the congregation could respond not only to the pastor, but also to each other.

Perhaps his understanding of history is correct, and perhaps not.  I haven't read the Church Fathers.  However, I know fully that he led me to an understanding of how church members ought to interact with one another.  He was in this way fully a pastor.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

OK, what IS a cowboy?

Having received a note from a dear brother asking "you're not talking about..., are you?", I figure that I might do well to clarify exactly what I'm talking about, and exactly whom.  The latter first; I am talking about everyone, but no one.  That is, in a society where we revere corporate and government leaders, it will be a rare church that is not impacted, but hopefully the Holy Spirit diverts many from this problem, at least to a degree.  I am trying not to accuse, but to edify--we will see how successful this is!

So how do we recognize the cowboy, or the pastor implementing corporate methods?  It's rarely as obvious as the pastor having a multimillion dollar birthday party for his wife (Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco Electronics), or even the $6000 air conditioned doghouse for which Jim Bakker is rightly infamous.  If your pastor is doing this sort of thing, take notice, but rarely will things be that plain to see.

More often, the pastor is described as "old school," or one can tell that everything is being managed from the pastor's office--or perhaps an influential member of the deacon or elder board.  One sees it when a small group is taken through a program where even the translation of Bible verses used is controlled, or discussion is not allowed (Growing Kids God's Way is a great example).  One sees it when personal preferences are used to define policies instead of Scripture.

Most importantly, though, one sees it as leadership in general uses external persuasion to achieve results instead of leading the congregation to have internal motivation through the Scriptures.

To draw a picture, count the number of times the New Testament commands believers to make disciples and evangelize.  My count so far is Paul's admonition to Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist", the Great Commission, and the sending out of the twelve and the seventy.

Now of course this doesn't mean that it's unimportant--it is a matter of eternal life and death, of course.  What's telling here is that with little admonition--and no tent revivals, crusades, tracts, and other methods we use today that would have gotten the ancient Christians killed in the Circus Maximus--our spiritual forebears turned the Roman world upside down by making disciples.

Worth noting, no?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The megachurch, cowboys, and shepherds

Due to events too close to home (no details, just pray), my attention has been drawn to the various ways a church can start to dishonor Christ--ways that really seem to be too numerous to count.  There is one Way that we can get it right--the faithful preaching and teaching of the Gospel and the whole counsel of God--and when one ignores that one way, there are infinite ways one can go wrong.

That said, one of the more pervasive ways a church can go wrong is if the pastor starts to see himself as a cowboy rather than as a shepherd.  That is, he sees the congregation as cattle to be driven from Texas to Kansas--Texas of course being an emblem for "Hell," as General Sheridan noted.  (If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas.....sometimes Mark Twain gets credit/blame, too). 

While leaving Hell (or Texas?) is commendable, the trouble is that the word "pastor" means not "cowboy," but rather "shepherd," and as a rule, you do not "drive" sheep anywhere.  Those who try quickly find that they scatter--just as sheep will scatter without a shepherd, as the Scripture notes. 

So how do pastors act the part of the cowboy?  Well, again, there are nearly infinite ways they can do this, but it all starts, in my mind, when we substitute the ways of our world (where managers and government leaders all too often are allowed to play the old Texas cowboy), assuming that since it seems to work for our favorite corporate or political leaders, it'll work in the church. 

It is appeal to authority and, by and large, micromanagement, and it has terrible spiritual results--as we would expect when we take a look at Luke 22, especially verse 25 and thereafter.  Those who claim the name of Christ are to be radically different than the world, and one great way to start is by remembering that the greatest among us is to be the servant of all.  I'll be going into the tragic results of "cowboy" or "my way or the highway" leadership over the next few days.  I hope you will be blessed and edified.

A great quip on higher education

Douglas Wilson, in a wonderful piece about the upcoming election, puts in a jibe that should be required reading by every professor in the country:

We are a highly educated university community, and therefore we tend to elect people who can't count.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Logic by advocates of the government schools

The HSLDA links a newspaper guest column with apparently this logic:

Problem: the government schools are shuffling likely dropouts over to the "homeschool" category to reduce their reported dropout rates.  (what did you think would happen with Ted Kennedy's "Most Children Left Behind" bill?  Honesty?  Please!)

Solution: regulate homeschoolers more.

I'm thinking that perhaps a better way of dealing with the situation would be mandatory ethics training for government school administrators, and perhaps also mandatory classes in at least informal logic.  Of course, the latter might not help classroom management, as kids would start to figure out what was really going on.  Or maybe.....they already have.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Something they should teach in "sex ed"

Phyllis Schlafly notes something that Walter Williams has noted as well; if you want to avoid poverty, wait until you get married before having children, and stay married.  If this advice were followed, and parents pursued responsible jobs, the poverty rate would drop by 80%--and along with that, a large portion of the need for welfare spending would disappear as well.  In a decade or so, millions of children that would otherwise have been raised in single parent homes might, due to judicious discipline by a father, NOT enter the justice system.

Now granted, not every "sperm donor" ought to be accepted as a husband, and not every "egg carton" is going to be a good wife, either.  However, if our government stopped doing things to discourage wedlock (SIECUS based sex ed, TANF telling girls they can have their own place if they simply have a baby, etc..) and taught this lesson of basic economics, it's a good bet that more men would be qualified to be more than a "sperm donor," and our nation would benefit immensely.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Your 401Ks and IRAs are safe, right?

Not if the plan referenced by Human Events is any indication, no.  Evidently public pensions are (shocker this) underfunded, and those "public servants" who are earning twice what the rest of us earn "need" to pillage our retirement funds so they can rest in luxury just before the Department of Justice would have caught up to what they did while at "work."

If you want yet another good reason to vote Republican, this would be it.  H/T Vox Day.

What's going on at ICE

Cal Thomas reports on what is really going on at Immigration; more or less, ICE is cracking down on illegal immigrants who have broken laws (besides coming here illegally), but ignoring their responsibility to police the border and remove immigrants who have not broken laws not related to immigration.  Pat Buchanan concurs.

Interestingly, it's said that Mexican mayors are complaining about the criminal deportation program, noting that it's unsurprisingly raising their crime rates as criminals come home.  In other words, the liberal idea that illegal immigration poses no difficulty for our crime rates is (like most liberal ideas) just plain wrong.    Who would have thought that when a person breaks the law by entering and residing in a nation, they might also be likely to break other laws?

I mean, besides sane people, of course.  We can welcome and love virtually any number of legal, law-abiding immigrants, but sensible people would like to know that ( a la the crime wave from many Marielitos when Castro emptied his jails to send criminals here) they indeed are law-abiding.  That is, after all, why we have, and should enforce, immigration laws.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Now I feel really old

The cashier at the grocery store accidentally gave me the senior citizen discount today.  On the bright side, I saved six bucks, and we all had a good laugh about it.

Thoughts on the "One Nation" rally

When I heard that the SEIU and like-minded people were holding a rally to "counter" the Glenn Beck rally in DC, it occurred to me that it would be really fun to go there with Soviet flags and red star caps, singing the Soviet national anthem--and see if anyone would notice they were being spoofed.

Well, either a lot of people had the same idea that I had, or I could have done it without anyone noticing.  Check out these photos.  Judging by the grammar and spelling used, I'm inclining towards the idea that, yes, the far left is still nostalgic for the man from Georgia, and I'm not talking about Jimmy Carter.

Interesting thought about those "unlearned men," the Apostles

In theological circles, especially those like those I inhabit, it is often very popular to note how God can use "unlearned men" as He did the apostles.  In fact, sometimes it seems as if many churches consider book learning larnin' to be a positive disadvantage for the ministry.

Let's consider that in light of the example of the apostles. Their everyday language as Galileans was Aramaic, but they had learned, and continued to learn, the Old Testament in its original Hebrew.  Paul, Peter, Matthew, and John obviously learned Greek--and given the location of their deaths, I'm guessing Paul and Peter probably picked up some Latin as well.  "Doubting Thomas" established a church in India, and is reputed to be buried in Korea--so I'm guessing he must have picked up Hindi (or other Indian languages), Chinese, and Korean along the way.  Other New Testament writer who were obviously multilingual were Luke, James, Jude, and the writer of Hebrews.

So were they unlearned men by the standards of their time, or ours?  I'd have to suggest that they were only unlearned men in the standards of our  their (oops!) day, illustrated by this joke:

What do you call a man who speaks three languages?


What do you call a man who speaks two languages?


What do you call a man who speaks only one language?

An American.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Let's examine the standard economic narrative

As we watch the economy continue in recession--perhaps even veering into a "double dip" recession or depression--perhaps it's about time we examine the standard economic narrative for the past 80 years or so; that somehow the government can generate economic results that will pull the nation out of recession.  Of course, anyone familiar with the real history of the Depression--unemployment never went below 15% until the Wehrmacht was marching into Poland, generating ammunition, food and fuel orders from France and England--would have to dispute this narrative simply out of evidence. 

For that matter, anyone watching the largest stimulus spendumore program in history completely failing to generate hiring would also have to start doubting the usual Keynesian theories--which are modified, but not eliminated, in the monetarist/supply side interpretations of the Reaganites.

So let's consider this; the magic I learned about in intro to macroeconomics is a quadrangle where somehow, a bump in spending would magically transform into four, or even ten, times the economic output as the spending.  I remember listening, almost in rapture, to the presentation.

Unfortunately, I violated a basic premise of logic; I failed to consider the question of "well, if it works so well, why haven't we figured out how to eliminate recessions?"  This is pretty egregious on my part, as I'd grown up with the kids of laid off steelworkers who knew quite well that nobody had done that for my part of the world.  I should have known better.

And so it's time to ask the question; is it really true that the economy is helped more when the Air Force buys a $600 hammer than it is when twenty carpenters buy a $30 Estwing?   Is the economy helped more by an additional. $1000 in welfare checks transfer payments, or when an employer has an extra grand to hire a new employee?

On one level, the results should be equal; the money spent on whatever purpose by whatever entity goes into consumer spending, savings, and so on equally.  On another, however, we should anticipate that government largesse ought to be harmful; when we choose to devote $1000 to transfer payments instead of to hiring in the private sector, we've simultaneously chosen that a certain amount of productivity will be lost.  In real (as opposed to government accounting) terms, the economy is smaller as a result.

Looks like it's time to walk away from John Maynard and towards Ludwig, listening to the lessons that our grandparents learned during the Depression.  Government "help" is, as Washington and Reagan both noted, an extremely dangerous, and often counterproductive, thing.

Here's some good economic news!

According to recent economic reports, 95000 government workers have lost their jobs.  If we accept the logic of von Mises and Bastiat, this is a good thing because it redirects economic resources from nonproductive uses to productive uses. 

And yes, this is probably an application of the new blog motto, as I would have to assume that a large portion of government workers would favor big government programs.  Hopefully this trend continues in November with Democratic members of Congress.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Elections, and judges, matter

It appears that a federal judge from Michigan has, by rejecting a lawsuit opposing the "Obamacare" requirement to purchase health insurance, come to the semantically "interesting" conclusion that the legitimate power to regulate interstate commerce allows Congress to require people to participate in particular kinds of interstate commerce under penalty of fines.

Lessee....does that mean if there is a "rational basis" (the judge's actual words) for the government to require you to buy a new Chevrolet to prevent the UAW GM from going Chapter 7, that will fly too?  According to this Clinton appointee, the answer may be yes.

Reality here is that Judge Steeh needs to consider the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson: "To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."  Yup, that's about it, even though I have always carried an insurance policy and quite frankly am thinking that I'll get a Traverse when my Venture wears out. 

New motto

....of "Save your job; fire a Democrat" is courtesy of one "Mickey Moussauoi", a commenter on SayAnythingBlog.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A little memorial to Joseph Sobran

When I was growing up, one of the greatest joys while reading the newspaper or magazine was to see something by Joseph Sobran.  In a world full of predictable crassness, his writing abounded with subtlety, literature, and more.  As I came to adulthood, I became acquainted with others--George Will, Walter Williams, and so on--and in the mid-1990s, I lost touch with his work. 

I found out somewhat later that there was a reason I'd lost touch with Sobran's work; after the first Iraq war, Sobran had started to make an animus against Israel's foreign policy a key part of his work, leading to his firing from National Review and the end of his newspaper columns.  Themes perfectly acceptable at the United Nations were, of course, not acceptable to William F. Buckley and others.  (this is of course a good thing--at least for National Review, but of course not for the UN)

Sobran chose to self publish, went on to add the theme that Jews were overrepresented in various movements he deemed subversive, and even appeared at Holocaust denial conferences.   So what do we make of the last 17 years of his life?  Was he simply a more erudite Mahmoud Ahmadinijab?

I'm not convinced he was; rather, I believe that he fell into the trap of failing to test his own hypotheses.  Ironically, this was one of the things I loved about him at the beginning; he forced you to think.  However, in the case of his writings about Israel and Jews, he largely lost this focus.

A great example is the "sinister" note he gave (linked in the link above) about Jews being overrepresented in various movements he considered subversive; the clear inference is that there is some kind of plot going on.  Now is that the case?

Well, let's introduce a more general hypothesis; literate people who know they may periodically be chased from their homes by Cossacks will tend to choose jobs where you don't need to have a lot of capital.  That is, of course, exactly what we see; this people has wisely chosen professions not requiring a lot of capital like law, education, medicine, and yes, politics--the last being also a nice way to see what can be done about reducing the funding for training Cossacks. 

So is it the threat that one might infer from Sobran's work, or is it about as surprising as finding a fishing rod in a Minnesota home?   We ought to infer that a wonderful way to honor Sobran's life remember what he initially brought to the table, and live for that.  Rest in peace, Joe.

Watch out meter maids!

Apparently Randy Moss may be coming back to play for the ViQueens.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Who should you fear....

....if you're going to be around an abortion clinic that has pro-life protesters outside it?

Nope, the abortionist, if this report from South Carolina is indicative.  In fact, since 1973, dozens of abortion doctors have been convicted of violent felonies--and the fact that it's not making page 1 of the mainstream media would, yes, be an argument that they're mostly seeing what they want to see.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Thoughts on megachurches

Of course, I should preface this by admitting that my current church has Sunday attendance of about 40, so if anyone wants to attribute everything I say to jealousy, have at it!  :^)

OK, to be serious, the recent travails of Atlanta pastor/Rock Star Eddie Long bring this to mind--along with the real life examples of Joel Osteen, John Piper, Charles Spurgeon, John MacArthur, Ted Haggard, and for better or worse, a host of others.  Those reading the list will likely find some names they love, and some they absolutely abhor, and perhaps some (praise God!) they don't even know about.  We can even add the fact that the church grew to several thousand members on Pentecost, so Peter and the other disciples were megachurch pastors in a sort of way, too.

Perhaps the example of Peter gives us all we need to know about the megachurch; Acts records that the disciples quickly found themselves serving tables for the widows and orphans of the church instead of preaching the Word--see Acts 6.  So what does the Word command the pastor whose ministry is growing to do?

Obviously, He commands the successful preacher to give his ministry to others, as Peter did in creating the office of the deacon (and Moses did by delegating judging much earlier), and this is the crucial difference between successful megachurch pastors (Peter, Piper, Spurgeon) and those who bring shame on the Church (Osteen, Haggard, Long, etc..).  For that matter, it is also the difference between successful small churches and unsuccessful; is the pastor giving his ministry to others?

Sounds a lot like Matthew 28; it really does come down to the Gospel.  While I would argue that large churches give special temptations to pastors to act selfishly and carnally, and it's far harder for a megachurch pastor to know his congregants well and minister to them, the real issue at hand here is whether the pastor is training his replacements and "making disciples."

This also illustrates why so many churches have difficulties after building; they are concentrating on bricks and mortar, not....

....making disciples. Again, it comes down to a mature understanding of the Gospel.  Is the pastor making copies of himself, or of Christ?  Your church's health and future depends in large part on the answer to that question.

Friday, October 01, 2010

More fun with Rahm Emanuel

Given that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel apparently has voted in Chicago despite having rented out his home there in 2009, I would suggest it's time to initiate a vote fraud investigation of him.

And, of course, this indicates that should he become mayor despite clearly not meeting Chicago's residency requirement (doncha have to live there?) and thus participating in vote fraud, he would have certain shades of Richard J. Daley in his tenure there.