2cornucopias

Posts Tagged ‘Government’

Abstractions?

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/10/10 at 8:29 AM

General Semantics is the study of words and how they are used to manipulate us and affect us in positive and negative ways. For example, the manufacturer of Dove soap has been successful for years. Suppose they had used a synonym, “pigeon,” instead?   A term used in this field is “high level of abstraction”.  This means that a word can mean almost anything because it is so abstract  and exists only in the mind, e.g. religion, education, patriotism, economics, love and the like. Try asking 10 people to tell you the first word that comes to mind when they hear any of these words. There will be at least 7 different words  offered. This is why Socrates said that those who want to debate must first define what they are going to discuss. Suppose persons A and B were always arguing religion. It turned out that when A thought of religion, he thought of salvation, heaven, eternity and peace of mind. B saw religion as money-grubbing, fund-drives, money sermons, etc. No wonder they could not reach any agreement; they were not arguing about the same thing.

There are two words frequently tossed around  freely in political discourse, but actually mean nothing because they mean almost anything to anyone. These words are “liberal/progressive” and “conservative.”  I have heard them all my life, but I would be unable to give a definition to cover what is involved in these terms. In some circles, the words cause knee-jerk reaction. “Liberal is good/bad.”  “Conservative is good/bad.”

While it might be difficult define these terms, it would not be difficult to describe them from the viewpoint of history, how they actually operate in everyday life.

Liberals tend to act on emotion and appeal to emotion to make their points. Their proposals are meant to make themselves feel good about themselves, to feel noble, generous, caring, concerned only with others and wanting  the best for everyone.

Polls have shown they are not particularly religious and when affiliated with some religion, tend to look for the easiest doctrines, or to alter it to suit themselves.

They have a misplaced faith in the almighty Federal Government, and see it as the only source of all society’s needs. Some actually see the Feds as substitutes for religion and parents. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most overturned appellate court, actually ruled that parental rights stop at the schoolhouse door, which was later overturned.

They have no problem with huge national deficits because life is now. Later on can look out for itself.  Spend now to attain liberal Utopia.

Generally they reject the Judea-Christian element in the history of the U.S.

With this, they reject the traditional moral code of Christianity. All religions are sacred….except Christianity which is always fair game for mockery and cynicism.

The individual who runs afoul of the law is a victim, not a criminal. Society has let him down.

There is no objective truth. Truth is in one’s own mind. We decide for ourselves what is true and what is moral.  We are not to try to impose our beliefs on others. (The exception is liberal policies which are always to be considered above reproach; liberals have no problem trying to impose liberal ideas on others.)

There is a mania for equality at the expense of liberty. This is why they are so fond of whatever schemes promote income distribution. People have no right to be wealthy (except themselves) and to be poor is unfair– the fault of “the rich.”

The U.S. Constitution is “evolving.”  It is not set once and for all; it must be updated to fit new situations. Think of all the activities the Federal government is involved in now that are not in the Constitution. The Feds became dominant after the Civil War and have constantly and consistently added to their power with deafening applause from liberals, e.g  Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare  (the Supreme Court had to be contortionists to declare Obamacare constitutional, but they managed),  most of the cabinet departments, food stamps, etc.

Liberals  (which include most Democrats), for the most part can be described as favoring what in some circles is called sin…abortion (murder disguised as a women’s health issue), same-sex marriage (disguised as a civil rights issue), embryonic stem cell research (disguised as a means of conquering disease; although this has so far resulted in many human deaths and not a single benefit to disease eradication), and euthanasia (disguised as mercy, but is actually cost-cutting).

What have liberals given to the U.S. that we can be grateful for?

Secularism and the almost complete absence of God in the school and in public life.

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, invented by  Congressional staff members and unread by those who voted for it.

$17 TRILLION dollars of debt, much of which is held by enemies.

Political-correctness which is a denial of reality which makes its devotees live a fantasy world .

Affirmative action which is a positive name for reverse discrimination.

The Great Society and the War on Poverty which cost billions and accomplished nothing.

Global warming propagated by the non-intellectual Al Gore and which is a denial of Divine Providence, to say nothing of fraudulent “research” to assure the “correct” answer.

The media which is so intellectually corrupt that they don’t even pretend anymore not to be biased toward liberals.

Public universities and colleges indoctrinating students into the  ideas of liberalism. No contrary views wanted, thank you.

Feminism which has had a deleterious effect on both women and men, distorting the natural roles of both.

The   annual assault on Christmas via the ACLU.  “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

I assume that many of you will not like the list above. True liberals will complain that I am being judgmental….which I am, but I am judging by the long history of liberals in action. Don’t succumb to the usual liberal way to refute an argument against them…call their opponents names. In the recent government shutdown, Harry Reid could not refute or give any reasons why the Republicans were wrong; he merely called them “terrorists,” “anarchists” and “arsonists.”  (Interestingly enough, the Administration will not use “terrorist” to describe anyone…even terrorists.)

The Conservative approach to the political world is to appeal to reason and common sense.  (We can see immediately that it is much easier for liberals to appeal to feelings  than it is for conservatives to appeal to reason.)

He is more interested in the individual  and his freedom to develop his own life and abilities.

He is less interested in equality because he believes that social and economic equality are not realistic given the wide range of talents, opportunities and effort found in human nature.

He wants the smallest government at all levels consistent with maintaining the common good and basic rights.

He believes that individuals have duties, not just rights.

He approves of private property as a basis for personal freedom.

He has great respect for the history and traditions of this country.

There are extremists and diehards in both camps.  Is there a possible solution?  Let me suggest one.  An idea is neither good nor bad because it is liberal or conservative. We must begin to look at the ideas, proposals, etc. in and of themselves, forgetting which group proposed them.  Can the idea work? Is it worth the cost?  Are there any possible unforeseen consequences?  What will it logically lead to?  Is this an old idea in a new suit?  Does the idea really solve a problem or create more problems?  Can there be oversight, not by politicians who propose it, but by experts in the field?

Would this work? I think it might, but it will never be tried because politics is not about reason; it’s about politics.

Post-Comfortable Christianity and the Election of 2012

In 07 Observations on 2012/08/04 at 11:11 AM

CATHOLLIC SIGN

Shortly before he died in Oxford in 1988, the Jesuit retreat master and raconteur, Bernard Bassett, in good spirits after a double leg amputation, told me that the great lights of his theological formation had been Ignatius Loyola and John Henry Newman, but if he “had to do it all over,” he’d only read Paul. “Everything is there.” There is a temptation to think that God gave us the Apostle to the Gentiles in order to have second readings at Sunday Mass, usually unrelated to the first reading and the Gospel. But everything truly is there. Paul was one of the most important figures in human history, and a great character to boot. That is, a character in the happiest sense of the word. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Cor 15:10).
Tragedy and comedy intertwine, ultimately issuing in glory, whenever he is on trial. He longs to live and t0 die in the same breath: ”For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:210). Whenever he is on trial for his life, he invokes a forensic brilliance to save the very life he is willing to sacrifice. Just as Jesus who had come into the world to die, slipped through the mob in Nazareth because his hour had not yet come, so does Paul become his own defense when on trial, ready to die by God’s calendar and not man’s. In Caesarea, he confounds Antonius Felix, the Roman governor of Judaea and Samaria, and a little later he does the same to the successor of Felix, Procius Festus. The best court scene is Paul before Marcus Annaeus Novatus, who had taken the name of his adoptive father Junius Gallio, the rhetorician and friend of his father Seneca Sr. whose son Seneca, Jr. was the noble Stoic. Nero forced Seneca’s suicide, but before that, in Achaia where Gallio was proconsul, Paul was bit of a Rumpole of the Bailey, in how he played the jury like a piano to the frustration of the judge. The point is this: Paul, both innocent and shrewd, was willing to suffer and did so regularly, as he was not loathe to recount at length, and he was also ready to die, but as death comes but once, he wanted it to be at the right moment.
There is in Paul a model for Catholics at the start of the Third Millennium which began with fireworks and Ferris wheels but is now entering a sinister stage. Like Paul, it is not possible to be a Christian without living for Christ by suffering for him, nor is it possible to be a Christian without willing to die for him when he wants. The Christian veneer of American culture has cracked and underneath is the inverse of the blithe Christianity that took shape in the various enthusiasms of the nineteenth century and ended when voters were under the impression that they finally had a Catholic president.
This new period is not “Post-Christian” because nothing comes after Christ. We can, however, call it “Post-Comfortable Christian.” Niebuhr, looking out from New York’s Neo-Athens on Morningside Heights with its Modernist Christian seminaries and highly endowed preaching palaces and office towers of denominational bureaucracies, caricatured the Messiah of mainline religiosity: ”A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” The virtual collapse of those institutions on Morningside Heights, is mute testimony to the truth of his irony.
The bishops of the United States have asked the faithful to pray for religious liberty, now facing unprecedented assault. The national election in November, 2012 will either give Christians one last chance to rally, or it will be the last free election in our nation. This can only sound like hyperbole to those who are unaware of what happened to the Slavic lands after World War I and to Western Europe in the 1930’s. St. Paul was writing to us when he wrote to the Galatians and Corinthians and Washingtonians – or rather, Romans – in his lifetime.
Unless there is a dramatic reversal in the present course of our nation, those who measured their Catholicism by the Catholic schools they attended, will soon find most of those institutions officially pinching incense to the ephemeral genius of their secular leaders, and universities once called Catholic will be no more Catholic than Brown is Baptist or Princeton is Presbyterian. The surrender will not come by a sudden loss of faith in Transubstantiation or doubts about Papal Infallibility. It will happen smoothly and quietly, as the raptures of the Netherworld always hum victims into somnolence, by the cost factor of buying out of government health insurance. Catholic businessmen with more than fifty employees will be in the same bind. Catholic institutions and small businesses owned by those with religious and moral reservations about government-imposed policies, will wither within a very short time, unable to bear the burden of confiscatory tax penalties. As analysts have figured, an employer offering a health plan that does not comply with the preventive services package and other requirements under the federal health plan could be subject to a confiscatory penalty. The fine, imposed through a civil penalty or excise tax on a non-exempted religious employer could be as much as $100 a day for each employee insured under a plan at variance with federal law. The burden would amount then to $36,500 for each employee.
Add to that the approaching discrimination against Catholics seeking positions in commerce and public life. Catholics will not be suitable for public charities, medicine, education, journalism, or in the legal profession, especially judgeships and law enforcement. As the bishops, by the acknowledgement of many of their own number, failed to articulate the cogency of doctrines on contraception and other moral issues, so will they now, despite the best intentions, not be able to stem the radical attrition among native Catholics whose eyes are on mammon, and among recent immigrants whose privileges are guaranteed only if they vote for opponents of the Church. The general election of 2012 may rally the fraction of conscientious Catholics among the sixty million or so sympathetic Catholics. If their influence is not decisive, and the present course of federal legislation accelerates, encouraged by a self-destructive appetite for welfare statism on the part of ecclesiastical bureaucrats, the majority of Catholics with tenuous commitments to the Faith will evaporate, as did the lapsed baptized in North Africa during the oppression of the emperor Diocletian.
Should the present direction of the federal government be endorsed by a reiterative vote in the November elections, more blatant threats to the Church will begin, culminating in a punitive suspension of tax exemptions on church properties, once the Church’s moral precepts are coded as offenses against civil rights. The test case in this instance will be what is known in Orwellian diction as “same sex marriage.” In the Supreme Court case, McCulloch v. Maryland, argued in 1819, the same year that Daniel Webster reduced Chief Justice Marshall to tears in the Dartmouth College case which vouchsafed private charters, Webster said: “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy.” Chief Justice Marshall, an antecedent of Chief Justice Roberts, said “That the power of taxing (the bank) by the States may be exercised so as to destroy it, is too obvious to be denied, and that the power to tax involves the power to destroy (is) not to be denied.”
St. Paul would have understood this. After all, he lived through its precedents. His self-defense in the secular courts showed his disdain for bravado and theatrical martyrdom. He enjoyed common sense, reason, and native intelligence in outwitting evil, for he knew as did St. John Vianney, who was not as bright as the student of Gamaliel but whose heart was at least as large, that “the Devil is stupid.” Because of that, the Devil can only get his way with the help of stupid Catholics.
This year offers the best and possibly last chance to see how many actually obey Christ’s pastoral instruction in a conflicted world: “Behold, I am sending you out as a sheep among wolves, so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16).
Re-printed with permission from Crisis Magazine http://www.crisismagazine.com/author/rutler

REV. GEORGE W. RUTLER

Rev. George W. Rutler

The Rev. George W. Rutler is the pastor of the Church of Our Saviour in New York City. His latest book, Cloud of Witnesses, is available from Scepter Publishing.

Articles by Rev. George W. Rutler

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A Trilogy of the Unreal: Part 1 – Separation of Church and State

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/07/28 at 10:10 AM

Separation of Church and State – Anti-Christian groups such as the ACLU, activist judges and secularists in general have used this mantra to force Christians (rarely do they use it against any other religion) to act against their basic beliefs. No public prayers. No Nativity scenes. No religious symbols. No invocation of the Christian God.

This idea of separation of Church and State is found in no official document of the Founding Fathers of the United States. It is not in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence or any writings of the early builders of this country. What the Constitution does say is that this country will not have an official, government-approved religion such as the Anglican Church in England.

This idea of separation of Church and State was hijacked from a private letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a friend. It had no official force whatsoever, but the phrase has been treated by Christianity’s enemies as a quasi divine revelation.

The motivation is totally anti-Christian/Catholic because when Muslims celebrate Islamic holidays on public property, not a word is ever said by these advocates of separation. This gross hypocrisy demonstrates the bias in the whole effort.

The next time you hear or read about someone or some group “nobly” defending the people from the “onslaught of religion,” realize that the whole thing is totally fake. They care nothing about Church or State; they just want to “stick it” to the Christians.