Catholics, Protestants, Church of England, the Kirk, Presbyterians, Puritans, Divine Right of Kings and Parliament

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 1st, 2014

Politics 101

(Originally published January 26th, 2012)

English Catholics and Protestants were Fiercely Religious and willing to Kill or be Killed for their Faith

To understand the founding political structure of the United States you need to understand 17th century Britain.  The run up to the 17th century.  And the Protestant Reformation.  When Christianity split into Protestants and Catholics.  And their beliefs and practices.

Catholics are born with original sin.  Protestants aren’t.  All Catholics have a chance to go to Heaven.  God sorts out the Protestant’s going to Heaven before birth.  Doing good deeds can help Catholics make it to Heaven.  They won’t make any difference for Protestants.  Catholics burn away their sins in Purgatory.  Then comes Judgment Day.  Clean souls go to Heaven.  Unclean souls go to Hell.  Protestants go straight to Heaven or Hell when they die with no layover in Purgatory or judgment.  Catholics believe priests have special powers and the Pope is infallible.  Protestants don’t.  Catholics have saints, altar rails, candles, pictures, statues and stained glass windows.  Protestants don’t.  Catholics believe priests change the wine and bread at Communion into the actual body and blood of Christ.  Protestants think they just represent the body and blood of Christ.

These are some significant differences.  Especially in a time when everyone was fiercely religious.  And did everything in this life to prepare for the afterlife.  Even buy an indulgence from the Catholic Church to buy their way through Purgatory and into Heaven.  One of the pet peeves of Martin Luther that he included in his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517 Germany (which was then a collection of German princedoms).  This was serious stuff for the laypeople.  Who were willing to kill or be killed for their faith.  Which they did a lot of in Britain.

When Queen Elizabeth died King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England

King Henry the VIII hated Martin Luther.  Was a staunch defender of the faith.  But he wanted a divorce.  So he could marry a woman who would give him a son instead of more daughters.  But he needed the Pope to grant him this.  And the Pope refused.  Henry VIII also wanted to get the Catholic Church out of his affairs.  So he created an English church.  The Church of England.  With him as the guy in charge.  At first his church was going to be protestant.  Fully anti-Pope.  But he had Parliament pass the Act of Six Articles that made his Protestant Church very Catholic.  After Henry VIII died succeeding rulers pulled the Church back and forth between Protestantism and Catholicism.

Edward VI pulled it back to Protestantism.  Then that bread and wine issue came up again.  So they wrote a new prayer book that was deliberately vague.  Which caused the Catholics to riot.  When he died his sister, Queen Mary, took the throne.  An ardent Catholic.  Out went that new prayer book.  In came Catholicism.  And she arrested and burned Protestants at the stake.  Then she died.  And in came Queen Elizabeth.  A Protestant.  So the Church of England became Protestant again.  With a little Catholicism mixed in.  But it wasn’t Catholic enough.  So the Pope excommunicated her in 1570.  Angry, she oppressed the Catholics.  Yet the Protestants weren’t happy, either.  That little bit of Catholicism was just way too much for their liking.  Especially those hardcore Calvinist Protestants (the people we call Puritans even though at the time it was more a derogatory term).  Who Elizabeth then arrested and executed.

There was a Protestant uprising in Scotland and they, too, broke from the Catholic Church.  Without consulting their very important friend and ally.  Catholic France.  Which was home for an exiled Mary Queen of Scots.  A Catholic.  But she didn’t have the power to fight against the Protestants.  So she joined the fight against the Catholics.  But she had some Catholic baggage the Scottish couldn’t forgive and they forced her to abdicate anyway.  Her son, James VI, became king.  The Church of Scotland was Presbyterian (Calvinist Protestantism).  But Scotland had a lot of Catholics as well.  The Scottish Parliament made James the head of the Scottish Church.  The Kirk.  Which was a problem for the Presbyterians.  Because they said a king couldn’t be the head of their church.  When Elizabeth died James became King James I of England.  Changed the spelling of his name from ‘Stewart’ to ‘Stuart’.  And became the head of the Church of England.  Who the Presbyterians said was way too Catholic.

King James I believed in the Divine Right of Kings and Hated Parliament

When Mary Queen of Scots abdicated James VI was only a baby and raised by a Presbyterian handler.  His Regent.  Who ruled for James until he came of age.  Who must have been strict for James did not like the Scottish Presbyterians.  Who were very similar to English Puritans.  Elizabeth had oppressed Catholics and Puritans.  Who were now both looking for a little relief from King James I.  James met with some Puritans and Catholic bishops.  The bishops resented having to meet with Puritans.  And the Puritans wanted to do away with the bishops.  But James preferred Catholics over Puritans.  So he persecuted the Puritans.  Some of who embarked on a ship called the Mayflower and sailed to religious freedom in America.  Where they would allow anyone to practice any religion they chose.  As long as they chose Puritanism.

Now even though James preferred the Catholics there were a lot of Protestants in England.  And a strong anti-Catholic sentiment.  After all England’s two great enemies, Spain and France, were Catholic.  So he continued some Catholic oppression.  One Catholic took great offense to this and decided to do something about it.  Blow up Parliament.  And the king.  Robert Catesby planned the Gunpowder Plot.  But someone warned the government.  And they caught Guy Fawkes in the cellar surrounded by gun powder just before he could light the fuse.  They sentenced Fawkes and the other conspirators to death.

James was not a fan of Parliament, either.  It was different in Scotland.  There they did pretty much what he wanted.  But the English Parliament didn’t.  And this really bugged him.  For he believed in the Divine Right of Kings.  Parliament didn’t.  And they told him so.  Also, Parliament controlled the purse strings.  If he wanted money, and he did, he would have to work with Parliament.  Or find another means to pay for what he wanted.  He chose to find another means.  He forced people to loan him money.  And even sold a new hereditary title.  The baronet.  But it was never enough.  When he died the kingdom wasn’t as rich as Elizabeth left it for him.  Worse, he left a political mess for his successor.  King Charles I.  Who became the first king whose subjects put on trial.  And executed.  Following the English Civil War.  Which he, of course, lost.

The Radical New Ideas Sown in the 17th Century would have a Profound Impact on the American Founding Fathers

King Charles I ruled in 17th century Britain.  A momentous time of change.  In Britain.  The Old World.  And the New World.  A king would be tried for the first time by the people.  Religious scores would be settled far and wide.  Attempted, at least.  And new states would rise in the New World where they would live under the religion they chose.  Governed by representatives of the people.  Who governed at the consent of the people.  Radical new ideas.  That were sown in 17th century Britain.  And would have a profound impact on the American Founding Fathers.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jesus, Joseph, Mary, Nazareth, Galilee, Bethlehem, Roman Occupation, King Herod and the Massacre of the Innocents

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 24th, 2013

History 101

(Originally published December 25th, 2012)

If Jesus were to pick up His Mortal Life where He left it He would go to the Nearest Synagogue

Some on the Left have tried to advance their agenda by appealing to the religion they hate.  Christianity.  Or, rather, the many religions based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, the New Testament and the Old Testament.  They hate the religions of Christianity because they frown on a more fun and libertine lifestyle.  And judge those who participate in a more fun and libertine lifestyle.  In particular those who use birth control and abortion to engage in sex outside of marriage.

So they are no fans of these Christian religions.  But they do try to use Jesus to advance some of their causes.  Such as their campaign to get rid of the gas-guzzling and air-polluting SUV.  Where they ask, “What car would Jesus drive?”  With the implication that Jesus would choose to drive a car that would not pollute the planet that He created.  Or, if you don’t believe in the Trinity (where Jesus is Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the planet His Father created.  Which is a silly question to ask Christians as they believe that Jesus is everywhere as well as within them and would not need to drive anywhere.  Still, they ask the question to try and make Christians feel that they are doing something that would make Jesus sad.  Driving an SUV.

Here’s a question for the Left.  If Jesus was walking the planet today as the man He was before His crucifixion which Christian church would He attend?  An Orthodox church?  A Catholic church?  Or a Protestant church?  The answer?  None of the above.  For this is a trick question.  If Jesus were to pick up His mortal life where He left it He would go to the nearest synagogue as Jesus Christ was a practicing Jew.  And a rabbi.

The Roman Province of Judea was a Complicated Place between the Roman Occupation and King Herod

It was being Jewish that got Jesus into so much trouble.  From the moment of his birth.  Joseph, Jesus’ father, came from Bethlehem.  While engaged to Mary she became pregnant.  Before their wedding.  And not by him.  Turns out God blessed her to bring Jesus into the world.  Joseph had some trouble believing that but after a visit by an angel Joseph was convinced that she did not cheat on him.  That the Immaculate Conception story was legitimate.  At least according to the Gospels.  Written many years later and may not be a literal historical narrative.  But they do include historical fact.  Where history becomes more a matter of faith is difficult at times to determine for the historical record is rather sparse at times.

Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth.  In Galilee near the border with Samaria.  During the time of the Roman occupation.  Who were pagans.  Herod was an Edomite.  Born in the Kingdom of Edom just south of the Kingdom of Judah.  Though he practiced Judaism he was not considered Jewish by the powers-that-be in Judea, the Jewish lands that became a Roman province.  Herod was governor of Galilee.  With Rome’s approval.  He lost his throne.  Rome helped him get it back.  The Roman Senate then voted him King of the Jews.  Three years later he and the Romans conquered Jerusalem.  And elevated him to king of all of Judea.

So the Roman province of Judea was a complicated place.  The Romans tolerated the Jews as long as they did not cause too much trouble.  The Jews did not like living under Roman occupation.  And they were none too keen with King Herod who wasn’t religiously pure, lived a decadent lifestyle and was a brutal tyrant.  It was this world Mary was about to bring Jesus into.

The Last Thing you want to tell the Current King of the Jews was the Location of the New King of the Jews

According to the Gospels Roman emperor Augustus ordered a census.  The Census of Quirinius.  Requiring all residents of Judea to return to their ancestral lands for counting in a census.  Though this may not have been Roman custom they may have called for this in Judea.  That complicated place where the Jews kept their religion and customs.  So Joseph had to return to Bethlehem.  Worried about leaving Mary behind in a land where others may not be so open minded about her Immaculate Conception he took her along.  Which is why she made that great trek so close to her delivery time.

With everyone else returning to Bethlehem the only shelter they could find was in a stable.  Mary gave birth and they placed Jesus in a manger.  A food trough for the animals.  As the word got out about the son of God being born it attracted a lot of attention.  Some were overjoyed that the prophecy in the Old Testament was being fulfilled.  Some were not quite that happy.  Some in the Jewish hierarchy.  Who didn’t foresee this event.  And King Herod.  Who when he heard that a new king had been born to rule over mankind felt nothing but a challenge to his power.  So when the three wise men from the East, the Magi, came to Herod to ask where this new king was King Herod couldn’t tell them.  But when they found Him they were to send word back so he could come and worship Jesus himself.

Of course the last thing you want to tell the current King of the Jews was the location of this new King of the Jews, this son of God.  Jesus Christ.  Because he would want to kill Him.  Well, the Magi got the message in a dream and went back East without telling Herod after delivering their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  (The frankincense and myrrh were aromatic gum resins used as incense.)  King Herod took this betrayal as another challenge to his power.  So to protect his power he ordered that all male children in the Greater Bethlehem area 2 years old and younger were to be slaughtered.  The Massacre of the Innocents.  There is no record of this outside the Gospels.  Though it would be something King Herod would have done.  For he killed his own children when they were a threat to his power.  Based on the size of Bethlehem the number of children falling in Herod’s criteria may have been about 20.  The slaughter of which would be a tragedy.  But the number may not have been large enough to enter the historical record.

An angel warned Joseph of Herod’s plan in a dream.  Telling him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt until the dust settled.  Returning to Galilee after Herod’s death.  Where he grew up.  Jesus of Nazareth.   But his problems with the politically connected Jewish hierarchy and the Romans weren’t over.  He would have about 30 years on earth, though, before that trouble would catch up with Him.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Christmas and Keynesian Stimulus

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 23rd, 2013

Economics 101

(Originally published December 24th, 2012)

Christians may not like the Crass Commercialization of Christmas but the Left Loves It

The Left does not have a war on Christmas per se.  For they love the consumer spending part of Christmas.  Which is pure Keynesian.  People go into debt to spend more money at retailers.  They love that part of Christmas.  What they don’t like is the religious stuff.  Especially Jesus.

They don’t like Jesus because He is the God the Christians worship.  Their Lord and Savior.  It’s these Christians that bother the Left.  Because of their opposition to birth control (mostly Catholics), abortion and having fun in general.  The kind of fun adults enjoy.  The kind of things Christians frown on.  Premarital sex.  Gay love.  Drinking and using drugs.  Coarse language and sexual situations on television shows and in the movies.  Things they champion on the Left.  Which makes the Left hate Christianity.  Which they see as nothing but a great killjoy.

It’s the moralizing the Left does not like.  But the one thing Christians don’t like about Christmas, its crass commercialization, they do like.  So the Left will try to band images of Christ from Christmas displays wherever they can.  Despite Christmas being the celebration of Christ’s birth.  But they will gather in Rockefeller Center to party when they light the Christmas tree.  Though they would prefer that we call it the holiday tree.

Retailers often become Profitable for the Year only because of this Temporary Spending Surge at Christmas

So there are two Christmases.  The one where Christians celebrate the birth of Christ.  Wish for peace on earth.  And good will towards man.  And the other Christmas.  The one marked by the orgy of consumer spending.  Much of it funded by one-time Christmas bonuses.  A celebration of demand-side Keynesian economics.  Where people spend their hard earned money instead of saving it.  And when their money runs out they spend even more using their credit cards.

Keynesians have a bunch of charts and graphs showing how great a stimulus this Christmas spending is to the economy.  And mathematical formulas.  They can tell you about the velocity of money. How fast money travels through the economy when it goes from consumer to seller.  The seller then becomes consumer.  And spends the money they just received.  Then the person who receives this money in a sales transaction goes out and spends it as a consumer.  And on and on it goes.  Flying through though the economy at breakneck speed.  Generating a whole lot of economic activity.

Retailers often become profitable for the year only because of this spending surge at Christmas.  In fact, to handle this surge in business they hire a lot of people at Christmas time.  Part-time people.  Proving again that pumping money into the economy creates jobs.  The main tenet of Keynesian monetary policy.  Pump cash into the economy and people will spend it.  Something the Keynesians have been doing since Richard Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold in 1971.  Ending any semblance of responsible monetary policy.  And recessions forever.  At least, that was the plan.

Keynesian Stimulus is nothing more than an Orgy of Temporary Consumer Spending just like at Christmas Time

When the economy slows down and people stop buying stuff businesses have to lay off workers.  So they won’t build stuff that no one will buy.  Laid off workers no longer have money to buy things.  Which causes other business to lay off workers.  So THEY won’t build stuff that no one will buy.  It’s a vicious cycle.  In fact, we call it the business cycle.  The boom-bust cycle.  From expansion to contraction.  From an economy hiring people to an economy laying off people.

Keynesian economics was supposed to remove the contraction side of the business cycle.  By picking up the spending slack.  When consumers stopped spending money the government would step in and replace their spending.  We call it stimulus spending.  Often spending money the government doesn’t have.  So they run a deficit (i.e., borrow money).  Or simply print money.  Which they did a lot of in the Seventies.  Unfortunately, as it turns out, you just can’t do that.  For when you print money you devalue it.  Which raises prices.  As it takes more of these devalued dollars to buy what they once did.

And this is why Keynesian economics doesn’t work.  Because a Keynesian stimulus is nothing more than an orgy of consumer spending.  Just like at Christmas time.  Which happens only for a limited time.  Businesses hire temporary part-time workers at Christmas because this spending does not last.  As it does not last during a Keynesian stimulus.  It doesn’t create any full-time jobs.  Because employers know it is only temporary.  And they know that higher prices will soon follow.  As they do after Christmas when the discounting ends.  Which will reduce future economic activity.  As it does after Christmas.  Once the deals end so too ends the orgy of consumer spending.  Leaving people to deal with the aftermath.  Depleted bank accounts.  A lot of credit card debt.  And a little buyer’s remorse.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Greatest Threat to an Oppressive Dictatorship is Free Market Capitalism

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 22nd, 2013

Week in Review

When people enter economic exchanges voluntarily everybody wins.  For example, let’s say one person has a hundred dollars of spare cash.  And another person owns a mountain bicycle that sells for $350 new.  The one with the money wants to buy a mountain bicycle.  The one with the mountain bicycle needs cash and wants to sell the bike. These two people meet.  And exchange the $100 for the bicycle.  And both walk away with something they valued more.  The person originally with the $100 valued the bicycle more than the $100.  And the person originally with the bicycle valued the $100 more than the bicycle.  Each person wins in this voluntary economic exchange.

Now contrast that to a managed economy.  Where a few decide for everyone else.  Such as in socialism.  Or communism.  Say, in the former Soviet Union.  Where the economic planners decide to make more tractor parts and less toilet paper and laundry detergent.  Resulting in shelves full of tractor parts no one wanted to buy.  And empty shelves where there was once toilet paper and laundry detergent.  As you can see, when you have forced economic exchanges no one wins.

Countries with economic systems based on free market capitalism where people enter economic exchanges voluntarily have historically had the highest standards of living.  Whereas countries with managed economic systems have had the lowest standards of living.  Liberty and prosperity are synonymous with the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong.  Which were once all part of the British Empire.  Which ruled the world and kept the peace for a hundred years or so.  The Pax Britannica.  She was able to do this because of her wealth.  Generated from free market capitalism.  The rule of law.  Representative government.  Sound money.  And free trade.  Things that today give these nations immigration problems.  Because everyone wants to go to these nations for a better life.

In capitalist nations people live better because there is a profit incentive.  Whereas the countries these immigrants left typically put people before profits.  Where instead of letting market forces set prices and allocate limited resources that have alternative uses the government decides.  Like they did in the former Soviet Union.  And the more government interferes with these market forces the more these economic decisions become political.  Where friends of the ruling power get those limited resources first and at favorable prices.  Allowing them and the ruling powers to profit handsomely from this political favoritism.  At the expense of the people who have to do with less.

The profit incentive puts people first.  Because in free market capitalism market forces are the people.  Hundreds of millions of people coming together to make voluntary economic exchanges.  Where each individual person looks out for his or her best interests.  But when a ‘caring’ government manages the economy to put the people first that government interferes with those market forces.  And goes against the will of the people.  Making the people worse off.  Which is why immigration is always from a country where there is less free market capitalism to a country where there is more free market capitalism.  Because the quality of life increases with increasing amounts of capitalism.  So we should be careful what we ask for when we ask to put people first.  Even when the Pope joins the ‘put the people first’ choir (see Pope condemns idolatry of cash in capitalism by Lizzy Davies posted 9/22/2013 on theguardian).

Pope Francis has called for a global economic system that puts people and not “an idol called money” at its heart, drawing on the hardship of his immigrant family as he sympathised with unemployed workers in a part of Italy that has suffered greatly from the recession…

“Where there is no work, there is no dignity,” he said, in ad-libbed remarks after listening to three locals, including an unemployed worker who spoke of how joblessness “weakens the spirit”. But the problem went far beyond the Italian island, said Francis, who has called for wholesale reform of the financial system…

Sardinia, one of Italy’s autonomous regions with a population of 1.6 million, has suffered particularly badly during the economic crisis, with an unemployment rate of 20%, eight points higher than the national average, and youth unemployment of 51%.

Last summer the island’s hardship became national news when Stefano Meletti, a 49-year-old miner, slashed his wrists on television during a protest aimed at keeping the Carbosulcis coal mine open.

There was one other thing these nations born of the British Empire shared.  Judeo-Christian values.  They lived by the Ten Commandments.  And the Golden Rule.  The good Christians of the British Empire followed the teachings of Christ.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  These Judeo-Christian values went hand-in-hand with free market capitalism.  It’s what made us choose to live by the rule of law.  To honor the contracts we made with one another.  To voluntarily enter economic exchanges instead of just stealing and pillaging our neighbors.

Money doesn’t have value.  It’s a temporary storage of value.  It is our human capital that has value.  Our ability to create things that have value.  Things that other people will voluntarily enter into economic exchanges to trade for with things of value they created.  Whether it be a physical good.  Or money from a paycheck they earned creating value for an employer who uses it to produce a service or good.

Capitalists don’t worship money.  For money only makes those economic exchanges more efficient.  By eliminating the search costs of the barter system.  It’s human capital that capitalists are interested in.  This is what they worship.  People.  Unlocking the latent talent in all of us.  To bring incredible things into existence.  Sanitation.  Waste water treatment plants.  New farming advancements.  Coal-fired power plants.  Things that allowed greater groups of people to live together in growing cities.  Where we have food, clean water and shelter.  Things we take for granted in capitalists nations.  Things that are luxuries in North Korea.  An anti-capitalist country that puts people before profits.  Where people worship the ruling dictator (primarily to avoid imprisonment, torture and death).  And the only people that do well are those close to the ruling power.

We don’t need a new financial system.  We just need to return to what it was before governments intervened into the free market economy to put people first.  Before we completely forget the Ten Commandments.  And the Golden Rule.  For once we use the power of government to nullify contracts to help their crony friends we no longer have a nation of laws.  But one of political favors.  Where the friends of power do well.  While those with no power live at the mercy of those in power.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FT181: “Slavery in America is the best thing that ever happened for today’s black Americans.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 2nd, 2013

Fundamental Truth

To become the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit the Man Jesus had to Die

There are some Christians who still have bad feelings towards Jews.  Who they blame for killing their Lord and Savior.  Jesus Christ.  Even though Christ died for man’s sins.  He knew the state was going to execute Him.  But He did not try to save Himself.  He accepted His fate.  Because His death was preordained.  It was all part of God’s plan.  For Jesus’ ascension into heaven.  To become the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit He had to die.  And He had to be crucified.  As horrible as that was.  To give the religion that would follow their most sacred icon.  The crucifix.  Or cross for the non-Catholics.

God’s will was done.  And because of it the Christians got a new religion.  Based on the life and death of a Jew.  The Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth.  Which is why the Christian Bible includes the Old Testament.  To include the Mosaic teachings that Christ Himself taught.  So for Christians to hold a grudge against Judaism is illogical.  Especially when the ultimate instrument of Jesus’ death was politics.  Not religion.

The Jews lived under a Roman occupation.  An uneasy Roman occupation.  The Jews were a thorn in Rome’s side.  As they were quite burdensome.  With their not knuckling under as willingly as others.  So to keep the peace they allowed the Jews to keep their religion.  Or rather, they tolerated it.  Something the high priests and Pharisees were very conscious of.  And they didn’t want any trouble that would cause them to lose their privileges.  Like this young whippersnapper coming around and riling up the masses.  For they knew it wouldn’t take much for the Romans to lose their tolerance of them.  And they especially didn’t like His way of not revering them.  That especially cheesed them off.  So the high priests and Pharisees went to the Romans and said this guy, Jesus, is calling Himself king of the Jews.  Something they were sure would not please Caesar.  Emperor of them all.  Well, one thing led to another and they crucified Christ.  Because of politics.  Not Judaism.

Some of the Countries today enjoying the Greatest Liberties and Highest Standards of Living have a Christian Past

Jesus has done more to bring peace to the world than anyone else.  The golden rule?  It has done more to let people live peacefully together than any government law.  It made people kind to each other.  Instead of the brutes we once were.  Religion civilized us.  And Jesus did more than most to make that happen.  Would that have happened if the Romans hadn’t crucified Him?  Of course this is a moot question.  For it was God’s will.  What happened had to happen.  And we are better off because it happened.  (When people use religion to justify violence it’s a different story.  The horrific wars between Catholics and Protestants had nothing to do with the golden rule.  But people who in their zealotry forget the golden rule.)

Death by crucifixion was a long, painful death.  People hung by their arms until they could hang no longer.  Then they transferred their weight to their legs.  Standing up.  And this went on until death mercifully came.  So Jesus hung by His arms with His weight pulling His tissue and tendons against the nails through His hands.  And when He stood the weight of his body forced His tissues and tendons against the nail through his feet.  And up and down he went.  Forcing those nails through His flesh.  A horrible death.  But a death He did not try to avoid.  People make Him out as some hippy peacenik.  But He had guts.  Though it’s easy for a God to have that kind of guts.  Jesus was just a man when He died.

So something good came from something horrible.  The world became a better place.  Yes, there were a lot of religious wars when some bastardized Jesus’ teachings.  But some of the countries today enjoying the greatest liberties and highest standards of living have a Christian past (and are still predominantly Christian).  Like those that were once part of the Christian British Empire.  Where the rule of law and the respect for the individual—not the ruling powers—rule supreme.  And that would not have happened without Christ.  For even the atheist among the Founding Fathers—Thomas Jefferson—thought that Jesus’ teachings were the greatest in the world.  So good things can come from bad things.  Like another good thing that came from one of the worst things there ever was.  Slavery.

There’s a Prosperous Black Middle Class and Black Millionaires in America thanks to Slavery

Africa is a horrible place.  Sadly.  In any metric you use Africa measures horribly.  More people live in poverty in Africa than they do anywhere else in the world.  Africa has the world’s highest infant mortality rates.  Africa has the lowest life expectancy rates in the world.  Africa has the highest homicide rates in the world.  Africa has the lowest per capita GDP in the world.  And Africa has the lowest Human Development Index in the world.  Which basically says that Africa is the worst place in the world to live.  Whereas Europe and the countries that were once part of the Christian British Empire consistently have the best numbers in all of these metrics.  Making them some of the best places to live.  Unlike Africa.

Of course, the slaves who traveled in the hellish conditions of the slave ships to the New World would have preferred to have remained in Africa.  In the world they knew.  With the family they knew.  Without suffering the horrors of that Atlantic crossing.  The slave markets.  And their brutal overseers.  But something good came from all that suffering.  Unfortunately it was not for them.  But their distant ancestors.  Who today can live in a prosperous black middle class.  Where they don’t have to live in poverty.  Where their children are likely to survive their childhood.  And grow up to live a full life.  Where they have a lesser chance of being murdered.  Where they can have a much higher standard of living.  And a higher Human Development Index.  Unlike in Africa.

Slavery in America is the best thing that ever happened for today’s black Americans.  Ironically, the ancestors of those who were lucky enough to escape the slave traders don’t live as good a life as those who did not.  Today blacks in America are CEOs.  Athletes.  Movie stars.  Hip hop-stars.  Doctors.  Lawyers.  Even president of the United States.  So in addition to a prosperous black middle class there are black millionaires in America.  Blacks who started with nothing.  And earned a champagne and caviar life.  Something that just isn’t happening in Africa.  Sadly.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jesus, Joseph, Mary, Nazareth, Galilee, Bethlehem, Roman Occupation, King Herod and the Massacre of the Innocents

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 25th, 2012

History 101

If Jesus were to pick up His Mortal Life where He left it He would go to the Nearest Synagogue

Some on the Left have tried to advance their agenda by appealing to the religion they hate.  Christianity.  Or, rather, the many religions based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, the New Testament and the Old Testament.  They hate the religions of Christianity because they frown on a more fun and libertine lifestyle.  And judge those who participate in a more fun and libertine lifestyle.  In particular those who use birth control and abortion to engage in sex outside of marriage.

So they are no fans of these Christian religions.  But they do try to use Jesus to advance some of their causes.  Such as their campaign to get rid of the gas-guzzling and air-polluting SUV.  Where they ask, “What car would Jesus drive?”  With the implication that Jesus would choose to drive a car that would not pollute the planet that He created.  Or, if you don’t believe in the Trinity (where Jesus is Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the planet His Father created.  Which is a silly question to ask Christians as they believe that Jesus is everywhere as well as within them and would not need to drive anywhere.  Still, they ask the question to try and make Christians feel that they are doing something that would make Jesus sad.  Driving an SUV.

Here’s a question for the Left.  If Jesus was walking the planet today as the man He was before His crucifixion which Christian church would He attend?  An Orthodox church?  A Catholic church?  Or a Protestant church?  The answer?  None of the above.  For this is a trick question.  If Jesus were to pick up His mortal life where He left it He would go to the nearest synagogue as Jesus Christ was a practicing Jew.  And a rabbi.

The Roman Province of Judea was a Complicated Place between the Roman Occupation and King Herod

It was being Jewish that got Jesus into so much trouble.  From the moment of his birth.  Joseph, Jesus’ father, came from Bethlehem.  While engaged to Mary she became pregnant.  Before their wedding.  And not by him.  Turns out God blessed her to bring Jesus into the world.  Joseph had some trouble believing that but after a visit by an angel Joseph was convinced that she did not cheat on him.  That the Immaculate Conception story was legitimate.  At least according to the Gospels.  Written many years later and may not be a literal historical narrative.  But they do include historical fact.  Where history becomes more a matter of faith is difficult at times to determine for the historical record is rather sparse at times.

Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth.  In Galilee near the border with Samaria.  During the time of the Roman occupation.  Who were pagans.  Herod was an Edomite.  Born in the Kingdom of Edom just south of the Kingdom of Judah.  Though he practiced Judaism he was not considered Jewish by the powers-that-be in Judea, the Jewish lands that became a Roman province.  Herod was governor of Galilee.  With Rome’s approval.  He lost his throne.  Rome helped him get it back.  The Roman Senate then voted him King of the Jews.  Three years later he and the Romans conquered Jerusalem.  And elevated him to king of all of Judea.

So the Roman province of Judea was a complicated place.  The Romans tolerated the Jews as long as they did not cause too much trouble.  The Jews did not like living under Roman occupation.  And they were none too keen with King Herod who wasn’t religiously pure, lived a decadent lifestyle and was a brutal tyrant.  It was this world Mary was about to bring Jesus into.

The Last Thing you want to tell the Current King of the Jews was the Location of the New King of the Jews

According to the Gospels Roman emperor Augustus ordered a census.  The Census of Quirinius.  Requiring all residents of Judea to return to their ancestral lands for counting in a census.  Though this may not have been Roman custom they may have called for this in Judea.  That complicated place where the Jews kept their religion and customs.  So Joseph had to return to Bethlehem.  Worried about leaving Mary behind in a land where others may not be so open minded about her Immaculate Conception he took her along.  Which is why she made that great trek so close to her delivery time.

With everyone else returning to Bethlehem the only shelter they could find was in a stable.  Mary gave birth and they placed Jesus in a manger.  A food trough for the animals.  As the word got out about the son of God being born it attracted a lot of attention.  Some were overjoyed that the prophecy in the Old Testament was being fulfilled.  Some were not quite that happy.  Some in the Jewish hierarchy.  Who didn’t foresee this event.  And King Herod.  Who when he heard that a new king had been born to rule over mankind felt nothing but a challenge to his power.  So when the three wise men from the East, the Magi, came to Herod to ask where this new king was King Herod couldn’t tell them.  But when they found Him they were to send word back so he could come and worship Jesus himself.

Of course the last thing you want to tell the current King of the Jews was the location of this new King of the Jews, this son of God.  Jesus Christ.  Because he would want to kill Him.  Well, the Magi got the message in a dream and went back East without telling Herod after delivering their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  (The frankincense and myrrh were aromatic gum resins used as incense.)  King Herod took this betrayal as another challenge to his power.  So to protect his power he ordered that all male children in the Greater Bethlehem area 2 years old and younger were to be slaughtered.  The Massacre of the Innocents.  There is no record of this outside the Gospels.  Though it would be something King Herod would have done.  For he killed his own children when they were a threat to his power.  Based on the size of Bethlehem the number of children falling in Herod’s criteria may have been about 20.  The slaughter of which would be a tragedy.  But the number may not have been large enough to enter the historical record.

An angel warned Joseph of Herod’s plan in a dream.  Telling him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt until the dust settled.  Returning to Galilee after Herod’s death.  Where he grew up.  Jesus of Nazareth.   But his problems with the politically connected Jewish hierarchy and the Romans weren’t over.  He would have about 30 years on earth, though, before that trouble would catch up with Him.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Christmas and Keynesian Stimulus

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 24th, 2012

Economics 101

Christians may not like the Crass Commercialization of Christmas but the Left Loves It

The Left does not have a war on Christmas per se.  For they love the consumer spending part of Christmas.  Which is pure Keynesian.  People go into debt to spend more money at retailers.  They love that part of Christmas.  What they don’t like is the religious stuff.  Especially Jesus.

They don’t like Jesus because He is the God the Christians worship.  Their Lord and Savior.  It’s these Christians that bother the Left.  Because of their opposition to birth control (mostly Catholics), abortion and having fun in general.  The kind of fun adults enjoy.  The kind of things Christians frown on.  Premarital sex.  Gay love.  Drinking and using drugs.  Coarse language and sexual situations on television shows and in the movies.  Things they champion on the Left.  Which makes the Left hate Christianity.  Which they see as nothing but a great killjoy.

It’s the moralizing the Left does not like.  But the one thing Christians don’t like about Christmas, its crass commercialization, they do like.  So the Left will try to band images of Christ from Christmas displays wherever they can.  Despite Christmas being the celebration of Christ’s birth.  But they will gather in Rockefeller Center to party when they light the Christmas tree.  Though they would prefer that we call it the holiday tree.

Retailers often become Profitable for the Year only because of this Temporary Spending Surge at Christmas

So there are two Christmases.  The one where Christians celebrate the birth of Christ.  Wish for peace on earth.  And good will towards man.  And the other Christmas.  The one marked by the orgy of consumer spending.  Much of it funded by one-time Christmas bonuses.  A celebration of demand-side Keynesian economics.  Where people spend their hard earned money instead of saving it.  And when their money runs out they spend even more using their credit cards.

Keynesians have a bunch of charts and graphs showing how great a stimulus this Christmas spending is to the economy.  And mathematical formulas.  They can tell you about the velocity of money. How fast money travels through the economy when it goes from consumer to seller.  The seller then becomes consumer.  And spends the money they just received.  Then the person who receives this money in a sales transaction goes out and spends it as a consumer.  And on and on it goes.  Flying through though the economy at breakneck speed.  Generating a whole lot of economic activity.

Retailers often become profitable for the year only because of this spending surge at Christmas.  In fact, to handle this surge in business they hire a lot of people at Christmas time.  Part-time people.  Proving again that pumping money into the economy creates jobs.  The main tenet of Keynesian monetary policy.  Pump cash into the economy and people will spend it.  Something the Keynesians have been doing since Richard Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold in 1971.  Ending any semblance of responsible monetary policy.  And recessions forever.  At least, that was the plan.

Keynesian Stimulus is nothing more than an Orgy of Temporary Consumer Spending just like at Christmas Time

When the economy slows down and people stop buying stuff businesses have to lay off workers.  So they won’t build stuff that no one will buy.  Laid off workers no longer have money to buy things.  Which causes other business to lay off workers.  So THEY won’t build stuff that no one will buy.  It’s a vicious cycle.  In fact, we call it the business cycle.  The boom-bust cycle.  From expansion to contraction.  From an economy hiring people to an economy laying off people.

Keynesian economics was supposed to remove the contraction side of the business cycle.  By picking up the spending slack.  When consumers stopped spending money the government would step in and replace their spending.  We call it stimulus spending.  Often spending money the government doesn’t have.  So they run a deficit (i.e., borrow money).  Or simply print money.  Which they did a lot of in the Seventies.  Unfortunately, as it turns out, you just can’t do that.  For when you print money you devalue it.  Which raises prices.  As it takes more of these devalued dollars to buy what they once did.

And this is why Keynesian economics doesn’t work.  Because a Keynesian stimulus is nothing more than an orgy of consumer spending.  Just like at Christmas time.  Which happens only for a limited time.  Businesses hire temporary part-time workers at Christmas because this spending does not last.  As it does not last during a Keynesian stimulus.  It doesn’t create any full-time jobs.  Because employers know it is only temporary.  And they know that higher prices will soon follow.  As they do after Christmas when the discounting ends.  Which will reduce future economic activity.  As it does after Christmas.  Once the deals end so too ends the orgy of consumer spending.  Leaving people to deal with the aftermath.  Depleted bank accounts.  A lot of credit card debt.  And a little buyer’s remorse.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Catholics, Protestants, Church of England, the Kirk, Presbyterians, Puritans, Divine Right of Kings and Parliament

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 26th, 2012

Politics 101

English Catholics and Protestants were Fiercely Religious and willing to Kill or be Killed for their Faith

To understand the founding political structure of the United States you need to understand 17th century Britain.  The run up to the 17th century.  And the Protestant Reformation.  When Christianity split into Protestants and Catholics.  And their beliefs and practices.

Catholics are born with original sin.  Protestants aren’t.  All Catholics have a chance to go to Heaven.  God sorts out the Protestant’s going to Heaven before birth.  Doing good deeds can help Catholics make it to Heaven.  They won’t make any difference for Protestants.  Catholics burn away their sins in Purgatory.  Then comes Judgment Day.  Clean souls go to Heaven.  Unclean souls go to Hell.  Protestants go straight to Heaven or Hell when they die with no layover in Purgatory or judgment.  Catholics believe priests have special powers and the Pope is infallible.  Protestants don’t.  Catholics have saints, altar rails, candles, pictures, statues and stained glass windows.  Protestants don’t.  Catholics believe priests change the wine and bread at Communion into the actual body and blood of Christ.  Protestants think they just represent the body and blood of Christ.

These are some significant differences.  Especially in a time when everyone was fiercely religious.  And did everything in this life to prepare for the afterlife.  Even buy an indulgence from the Catholic Church to buy their way through Purgatory and into Heaven.  One of the pet peeves of Martin Luther that he included in his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517 Germany (which was then a collection of German princedoms).  This was serious stuff for the laypeople.  Who were willing to kill or be killed for their faith.  Which they did a lot of in Britain.

When Queen Elizabeth died King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England

King Henry the VIII hated Martin Luther.  Was a staunch defender of the faith.  But he wanted a divorce.  So he could marry a woman who would give him a son instead of more daughters.  But he needed the Pope to grant him this.  And the Pope refused.  Henry VIII also wanted to get the Catholic Church out of his affairs.  So he created an English church.  The Church of England.  With him as the guy in charge.  At first his church was going to be protestant.  Fully anti-Pope.  But he had Parliament pass the Act of Six Articles that made his Protestant Church very Catholic.  After Henry VIII died succeeding rulers pulled the Church back and forth between Protestantism and Catholicism.

Edward VI pulled it back to Protestantism.  Then that bread and wine issue came up again.  So they wrote a new prayer book that was deliberately vague.  Which caused the Catholics to riot.  When he died his sister, Queen Mary, took the throne.  An ardent Catholic.  Out went that new prayer book.  In came Catholicism.  And she arrested and burned Protestants at the stake.  Then she died.  And in came Queen Elizabeth.  A Protestant.  So the Church of England became Protestant again.  With a little Catholicism mixed in.  But it wasn’t Catholic enough.  So the Pope excommunicated her in 1570.  Angry, she oppressed the Catholics.  Yet the Protestants weren’t happy, either.  That little bit of Catholicism was just way too much for their liking.  Especially those hardcore Calvinist Protestants (the people we call Puritans even though at the time it was more a derogatory term).  Who Elizabeth then arrested and executed.

There was a Protestant uprising in Scotland and they, too, broke from the Catholic Church.  Without consulting their very important friend and ally.  Catholic France.  Which was home for an exiled Mary Queen of Scots.  A Catholic.  But she didn’t have the power to fight against the Protestants.  So she joined the fight against the Catholics.  But she had some Catholic baggage the Scottish couldn’t forgive and they forced her to abdicate anyway.  Her son, James VI, became king.  The Church of Scotland was Presbyterian (Calvinist Protestantism).  But Scotland had a lot of Catholics as well.  The Scottish Parliament made James the head of the Scottish Church.  The Kirk.  Which was a problem for the Presbyterians.  Because they said a king couldn’t be the head of their church.  When Elizabeth died James became King James I of England.  Changed the spelling of his name from ‘Stewart’ to ‘Stuart’.  And became the head of the Church of England.  Who the Presbyterians said was way too Catholic.

King James I believed in the Divine Right of Kings and Hated Parliament

When Mary Queen of Scots abdicated James VI was only a baby and raised by a Presbyterian handler.  His Regent.  Who ruled for James until he came of age.  Who must have been strict for James did not like the Scottish Presbyterians.  Who were very similar to English Puritans.  Elizabeth had oppressed Catholics and Puritans.  Who were now both looking for a little relief from King James I.  James met with some Puritans and Catholic bishops.  The bishops resented having to meet with Puritans.  And the Puritans wanted to do away with the bishops.  But James preferred Catholics over Puritans.  So he persecuted the Puritans.  Some of who embarked on a ship called the Mayflower and sailed to religious freedom in America.  Where they would allow anyone to practice any religion they chose.  As long as they chose Puritanism.

Now even though James preferred the Catholics there were a lot of Protestants in England.  And a strong anti-Catholic sentiment.  After all England’s two great enemies, Spain and France, were Catholic.  So he continued some Catholic oppression.  One Catholic took great offense to this and decided to do something about it.  Blow up Parliament.  And the king.  Robert Catesby planned the Gunpowder Plot.  But someone warned the government.  And they caught Guy Fawkes in the cellar surrounded by gun powder just before he could light the fuse.  They sentenced Fawkes and the other conspirators to death.

James was not a fan of Parliament, either.  It was different in Scotland.  There they did pretty much what he wanted.  But the English Parliament didn’t.  And this really bugged him.  For he believed in the Divine Right of Kings.  Parliament didn’t.  And they told him so.  Also, Parliament controlled the purse strings.  If he wanted money, and he did, he would have to work with Parliament.  Or find another means to pay for what he wanted.  He chose to find another means.  He forced people to loan him money.  And even sold a new hereditary title.  The baronet.  But it was never enough.  When he died the kingdom wasn’t as rich as Elizabeth left it for him.  Worse, he left a political mess for his successor.  King Charles I.  Who became the first king whose subjects put on trial.  And executed.  Following the English Civil War.  Which he, of course, lost.

The Radical New Ideas Sown in the 17th Century would have a Profound Impact on the American Founding Fathers

King Charles I ruled in 17th century Britain.  A momentous time of change.  In Britain.  The Old World.  And the New World.  A king would be tried for the first time by the people.  Religious scores would be settled far and wide.  Attempted, at least.  And new states would rise in the New World where they would live under the religion they chose.  Governed by representatives of the people.  Who governed at the consent of the people.  Radical new ideas.  That were sown in 17th century Britain.  And would have a profound impact on the American Founding Fathers.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What would Jesus think about the Assault on Christianity?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 24th, 2011

Who would Jesus Vote For?

One thing I learned about demons and vampires from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that they lay low on Halloween.  Except for the few that like to bother the Scooby Gang, that is.  But for the most part, the evil beings don’t like Halloween.  It’s just a bit silly for them.  So the evil and undead stand down on this day.  When the non-evil dress up and pretend to be evil.  A bit of professional demon/vampire courtesy.  They let the people play their scary games.  Then resume their bloodlust the following day.

You’d think those on the Left would extend the same courtesy to Christians on Easter Sunday, the most holy day on the Christian calendar.  Let up on their Christian disdain for this one day.  So Christians can worship this special day in peace.  But no.  Someone has to invoke Jesus Christ in the budget debate (see The Democrats’ secret budget weapon: Jesus by Brad Martin posted 4/24/2011 on Salon).

There are signs that the 2010s could be a fertile ground for using Christian ideals to pursue goals of social justice…

If the moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable, the emergence of What Would Jesus Cut? may be the flashlight leading us out of the dark cave of budgetary wrangling. But it should also provide progressives with a model for marrying religion to politics in a way that reinvigorates their agenda, rather than simply leaving the field wide open to often intolerant evangelicals and social conservatives.

Why, this is a fascinating concept.  And practical.  Especially at Easter.  The day of the Resurrection.  When Christ rose from the grave He was sent to after dying for our sins.  Yes, what a fine day it is to politicize Jesus Christ.  But I’m game.  Hmmm.  Let me think. 

What would Jesus cut?  The defense budget?  Well, if we did that we couldn’t stop the genocide Muammar Gaddafi is perpetrating against the Libyan people.  That’s bad.  So bad that liberals who champion social justice sent our military to Libya to stop that genocide.  Cutting defense spending will leave us little more than an observer of these crimes against humanity.  Much like the rest of the world that isn’t a superpower.  So I don’t know if Jesus would cut defense spending.  Not when we’re using it for humanitarian reasons.  So, could there be something else to cut?

Would He cut programs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?  These programs are very kind to those who can’t afford to buy a house.  By putting them into a house that they can’t afford.  Hmm.  That didn’t end too well in 2008, what with the subprime mortgage crisis and all.  No, putting people into houses they can’t afford turned out to be a bad thing.  It gave us the worst recession since the Great Depression.  And this hit art and charitable foundations especially hard.  With record unemployment, no one has any money to donate to the needy.  So, yes, I think Jesus would cut programs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Anything else?

Oh, here’s a no brainer.  Planned Parenthood.  Because I’m pretty sure Jesus Christ would oppose anything remotely connected to abortion.

How could no one on the Left see this coming?  What would Jesus cut?  Number one on the hit parade would be abortion.  And any public spending that could provide ‘aid and comfort’ to the abortion providers.  This is Jesus we’re talking about.  And I just don’t see Him being pro-choice.  Sure, Planned Parenthood’s abortion unit is only a small part of their business (3%).  But government funding pays the overhead where they provide their real services.  Breast exams.  Pap smears.  Pelvic exams.  AIDS screening.  Birth control.  Etc.  That’s why they don’t have stand alone abortion clinics.  Doing so few abortions makes the unit cost per abortion too high to recover the overhead.  But if the overhead is already being paid by Uncle Sam, why, then that’s a different story.

The Left should stop talking about Jesus.  For they’re going to hurt themselves with the political contortions necessary to make their case.  Besides, if you asked who would Jesus vote for, I’m guessing he or she would have an ‘r’ after their name.  The bitter God-clingers they are.  So why even bother?  They should just take a lesson from the evil/undead and show a little magnanimity on this day.  If they had it in them.  Like the evil/undead do at Halloween.

Syria and Egypt, Similar yet Different

Egypt and Syria are very similar countries.  Both are in the Middle East.  Both are secular nations with Christian minorities.  And both outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood.  The main difference between the two is that one is an ally of the United States.  The other is an enemy.  Another difference is U.S. foreign policy.  They abandoned the ally.  And showed patience with the enemy.

Some are urging caution in Syria.  Worried about what may replace the current regime should it fall.  The Israelis for one.  And possibly the Obama administration.  For now, at least.  Interesting, because they had no such reservations with our ally.  And how are things in Egypt?  Suffice it to say there is cause for concern (see Crowds protest Christian governor in south Egypt by Maggie Michael, Associated Press, posted 4/22/2011 on MSNBC).

Since President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in February after an 18-day popular uprising, ultraconservative Islamist groups have been flexing their muscles and vowing to take a more active political role as Egypt charts its transition to democracy…

Coptic Christians make up an estimated 10 percent of Egypt’s population of nearly 80 million and complain of discrimination. Relations between the two faiths plunged to new lows after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Coptic church in Alexandria on Jan. 1, killing 21 people and injuring 100 others.

Salafis, who seek to emulate the lifestyle of Islam’s early days in the seventh century, have for the past year played a key role in fueling sectarian tensions, spearheading protests against the Orthodox Christian church.

Salafis?  One of their Islamic theologians was Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.  As in Wahhabi.  As in Saudi Arabia.  As in al Qaeda.  As in Osama bin Laden.  Yes, bin Laden is a Wahhabi.  This is old school Islam.  The way it was mean to be.  In Salafi eyes.  As the Taliban thought, too, the world should be.

The only upside to this is that the Salafis are Sunnis.  Who don’t much care for the Shiites.  Which is what the Iranians are.  So, to recap, the Salafis are not Shiites.  Which may place them out of the Iranian orbit.  Which is good.  The bad news is this.  It was the Wahhabi that attacked us on 9/11.

So maybe we should have encouraged more reform in Egypt and less ‘Mubarak has to go’.  Perhaps we learned our lesson.  Perhaps that’s why we’re not pushing our enemy in Syria (see For Syrian Christians, protests are cause for fear by The Washington Post posted 4/23/2011 on The Washington Post).

For decades, the government of President Bashar al-Assad has protected Christian interests by enforcing its strictly secular program and by curbing the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. In recent years, Assad has visited the town of Maaloula and other Christian communities to pray and pass on messages of goodwill. At Christmas, he addresses Syria’s Christians, carrying similar tidings. Assad is himself from the minority Alawite sect, a branch of Shia Islam, and many Christians feel they can relate to him…

Many Christians interviewed said their biggest fear was the growth of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Syria. About half as many worshipers as usual attended Good Friday church services this year because people are afraid to leave their homes.

Maybe these ruthless despots know something we don’t.  Maybe their tyrannical and oppressive rule is the only way to keep things secular in the Middle East.  And peaceful.  At least, under them, the few Christians in their countries could live in relative peace.  Whereas it’s looking a bit harder these days.

Happy Easter

So on this Easter Day, we can reflect on Jesus Christ and His message.  Such as judge not lest ye be judged.  Pity we rushed to pass judgment on Hosni Mubarak.  Perhaps that wasn’t the Christian thing to do.  But we did.  And now Christians in Egypt are getting worried.  And Christians are nervously sitting out the protests in Syria.  Afraid of what their future may hold.  But instead of showing genuine concern for the oppressed (and possibly the soon to be oppressed), some instead think of politicizing Jesus Christ to advance a political agenda.

I wonder what Jesus would think about that.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LESSONS LEARNED #18: “Man-given rights are only privileges allowed by the privileged elite.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 17th, 2010

GOD WAS HERE before the Marine Corps. So you can give your heart to Jesus, but your ass belongs to The Corps.

(From the movie Full Metal Jacket, 1987.)

In Roman Catholicism, this is the doctrine of the two swords.  The spiritual sword is the Church.  The temporal sword is the state.  Martin Luther had the doctrine of two kingdoms.  The religious and civil.  Going back to the source, Jesus Christ put it this way:

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s 

The original separation of church and state.  Of course, back then, this was all intended to limit the state’s interference into spiritual matters.  Today it’s reversed.  It’s the state that is trying to hold the spiritual sword at bay.

THE FOUNDING FATHERS were gentlemen of the Enlightenment.  This makes them complex.  The Enlightenment was the Age of Reason.  And guess what we did during the Age of Reason?  We thought.  Rationally.  There was a philosophical revolution going on in Europe.  Simply put, things weren’t what they were because the Church said so.  There were other explanations.  Other laws.  And the Church could be wrong.

So, if the Founding Fathers had lived in the 20th century, they would have probably been fans of the rock group Rush.  And Ayn Rand.  Who influenced Rush.  Thomas Jefferson probably would have an iPod filled with their songs, including Tom Sawyer:

No his mind is not for rent
To any god or government

They questioned ALL authority.  And some may have been Deists.  But they were not atheists.  Even Jefferson.  He may not have believed in the Trinity or Christ’s divinity, but he still believed in God.  And he worshipped Jesus in his own way.  As the world’s greatest philosopher, with his Sermon on the Mount being the best philosophy man could ask for.

THE FOUNDING FATHERS were gentlemen of the Enlightenment.  Now the other part.  The thing that makes them complex.  The gentlemen part.  What did this mean in the 18th century?  Here are some adjectives that describe a gentleman.  Honorable.  Virtuous.  Reputable.  A gentleman strived to achieve moral excellence and righteousness.  He was ethical.  His life was a steadfast adherence to a strict moral code.  And when he served in public office, it was with selfless disinterest.  He would go out of his way to NOT gain personally from his time in public office.  Some did it better than others.  But all tried.  And when they fell short, they at least put on an appearance of disinterest.  It was that important.  And expected.

In a word, restraint.  This is what a gentleman practiced.  George Washington exercised this restraint to such a degree that many found him cold and aloof.  Few saw him smile.  Few saw public displays of emotion.  What they did see was an exemplary life of virtue, honor and moral excellence.  And they would forever look at him with awe and reverence.  We do to this day.

These students of the Enlightenment, then, espoused Judeo-Christian ethics.  They questioned all authority oppressing man, whether it be Church or state.  But they did not throw out the baby with the bath water.  They remained religious.  They just wouldn’t yield to it unconditionally.  Not to the Pope.  To a bishop.  Or any other tyranny of a minority, privileged elite.  Even after their Revolution.

And they would extend this restraint to the new nation they would found.  It would be a government that would govern with the consent of the people.  But it would not be mob-rule.  Not a true democracy.  It would be representative government.  The idea was to restrain the extreme passions of the people.  They would not exchange one tyranny for another.  There would be no tyranny of the majority.

FRANCE HAD PROBLEMS in the late 18th century.  The toll of war was bankrupting the country.  Their financing of the American Revolution didn’t help either.  Food was scarce and expensive.  Famine and malnutrition were commonplace.  Among the Third Estate (the poor).  The First Estate (the Church) was doing well.  The Second Estate (the nobility), too.  Unemployed and hungry, the poor looked at the clergy and the nobility who were not. 

The Church was largely exempt from paying taxes. And the Church was the largest landholder in France.  The Church levied a 10% tax (i.e., a tithe) on the general population.  A lot of that was collected in-kind (food crops).  So the Church had more land, money and food than the starving, suffering masses.  Who became an angry mob.  That demanded democracy.

The people stormed the Bastille.  Confiscated Church property.  Overthrew the monarchy.  And sent the king and queen, and many others, to the guillotine.  Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins unleashed the Reign of Terror.  They executed political enemies, including priests, and displayed their severed heads to the angry mob.  They de-Christianized France, destroying churches and religious symbols.  They tried to do away with the Church altogether and replace it with civic and community events and organizations.  It was a revolution against Church and state.  Against law and order.  Against restraint.  They would send Robespierre himself to the guillotine at the end of his terror.  Then another terror followed to avenge the previous terror. 

There’s more to the French Revolution.  But that should suffice for now. 

FRANCE WAS IN the epicenter of the Enlightenment.  Some of the great minds of the Enlightenment were French.  But France was older than America.  And more populated.  With centuries of wrongs to right.  It was anything but a blank canvas.  Egalitarianism soon devolved into angry mob rule.  Democracy.  They went from the tyranny of a minority to the tyranny of the majority without stopping in that fertile middle ground.  As was the case in America.  Why?

It’s that blank canvas thing.  We weren’t overthrowing our history to start anew.  We had little history.  Maybe a century or two of English colonists who literally started with raw earth.  There wasn’t a rich and privileged Church.  So there wasn’t a festering resentment against the Church.  No, the early colonists escaped religious oppression and came here for religious freedom.  Which they found.  And enjoyed.

The American Revolution was more restrained.  There were no bloody reprisals after the War.  There were isolated instances of mob violence during the War, but the ‘mob’ was never in control.  The ‘gentlemen’ were always in control.  Gentlemen steeped in Judeo-Christian ethics.  From the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution, the Founding Fathers built a new nation upon the Rule of Law.  And at its heart were the God-given rights enumerated in those documents.  That no man, or minority, or majority, or mob, could take away.

GOD WAS HERE before the United States.  So we can give our heart to Jesus.  But our ass belongs to the Rule of Law.

Or something like that.  We are a secular nation with a de-emphasis on the religious part.  Yes, legal punishment may dissuade you from doing wrong.  If you think the cops can catch you.  But it’s our morality that will keep us from doing wrong in the first place.  And the people at our founding were moral.  And Christian.  Or deists with Judeo-Christian ethics.

And to those who fear antidisestablishmentarianism, don’t.  I doubt the Catholics and the Protestants could agree on what an established church would be, let alone the myriad other religions peacefully coexisting with each other.  No, more religion would not result in an established church.  It may, though, result in government leaders who fear God and, maybe, they would be better leaders for it.  It sure beats us living in fear of them.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,