The Long Version

Retired broadcast journalist. Blogging helps scratch the itch. Recovering exRepublican – Sober and still Conservative.

Archive for the ‘Good News’ Category

Liberty is NOT a Man Made Concept

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Editors Note:

Mike Jensen is a freelance writer and journalist who, according to his bio lives in Colorado. Back in 2013 he wrote an article for the Canadian Free Press where he talks about a teaching in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (The Mormons) that explains why Mormons are so adamant about free agency and liberty. I found it to be a very interesting perspective coming from a non-Mormon who isn’t familiar with the teachings of the church and wanted to share it here on my blog.

Title of Liberty

 

“SMART MORMONS?”
By Mike Jensen Tuesday, January 22, 2013

During the 2012 presidential campaign, that awesomely deep well of perpetual wisdom, Alec Baldwin, proclaimed that if Barack Obama were not black, his vote total would have been 20 percent higher.

People of real intelligence realize that the opposite was probably true: if he had been white, his vote total would have been 20 percent lower. The African-American voting bloc combined with enough whites suffering from liberal guilt guaranteed a higher vote total for Obama.

The truth of the matter is, if Mitt Romney had not been a Mormon, his vote total might very well have been significantly higher.

In fact, according to a Galup poll released in June of last year, while 4 percent of people said they would not vote for a black president, a full 22 percent said they would not vote for a Mormon. In fact, only atheists and gays ranked higher.

So Baldwin probably had it backwards, which he usually does, so that comes as no surprise.

What did come as a surprise to me is why people would have such negative views of Mormons. I have known lots of them in my life, and in most cases they have been hard-working, kind, generous, family-oriented people—just the kind of people this country used to value (and maybe that’s the problem right there.)

Mormons have intrigued me ever since Mike Huckabee back in 2007 claimed that Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers. With the recent election over, I decided to check out Mormons a bit more.

My hope in doing this was to explain to readers who Mormons are and whether or not 22 percent of the people were justified in opposing having a Mormon president.
But instead I’m going to share an intriguing bit of Mormon theology I learned that I think makes them perhaps the most politically wise human beings on the planet. Ironically, this story stems from that Huckabee quote about the relationship between Jesus and the devil, but the lesson to be learned is one that, regardless of our political or religious views, we would all be wise to consider.

So here’s what I learned: Mormons, unlike most other Christian sects, believe that all humans lived a life before mortality. They call this the pre-existence or pre-earth life. At birth a veil is placed over our minds so that we don’t remember it (you’ll see why in a minute).

In this pre-earth life, we were all in the presence of God as His spirit children. Jesus was there—the first-born of God’s spirit children, and a leader in the councils in Heaven. Lucifer was also there, and was another leader among the children of God. He was called a “son of the morning.”

At some point in this existence, the Father called all of His children together to explain how things worked. All of His children would have to leave His presence and come to earth for a period of testing. The goal was to see if we would live a righteous life even when we had to live by faith, as we would no longer be able to remember God or heaven (that’s the reason for the veil).

If we would live a righteous life, we would be given the opportunity to return and live with God forever. Otherwise we would forfeit that chance, because no unclean thing can live in God’s presence. However, God knew that we would all make mistakes, so he would provide a Savior for the world. This Savior would live a sinless life, and because of that, he would qualify to pay for the sins of the world through what would be called the “Atonement.” If people would sincerely repent of their sins, then the Atonement would essentially erase their sins, and they could still return and live with God. The Father called for volunteers to be this savior, and two stepped forward: Jesus and Lucifer.

Lucifer said that he would be the savior and he would force everybody to live righteously, thus guaranteeing that all of God’s spirit children would return to Him in heaven. Jesus said that He would follow the Father’s plan and allow God’s children their free agency. They could choose for themselves whether to live righteously and take advantage of the Atonement or whether to live in sin and forfeit the opportunity to return and live with God.

God rejected Lucifer’s plan, causing Lucifer to rebel and declare war on God. One-third of God’s spirit children joined Lucifer in this rebellion. In the end, the rebellion failed and Lucifer and his followers were cast out of heaven. They came to earth without bodies and now, continuing the war they started in heaven, they tempt men to do evil to one another and lose out on the chance to return to God.

PAY ATTENTION HERE; THIS IS THE GOOD PART

Now, any traditional Christians reading this will see similarities to their own belief system. Most traditional Christians believe that Lucifer lived in heaven as an angel, but then declared war on God and was cast out.. However, the causes for that war are not necessarily clear in traditional Christian theology.

That is where Mormon theology is so intriguing. For Mormons, the greatest of all battles, the war in heaven, was fought over LIBERTY—or as they call it, “free agency.” Lucifer wanted to take it away, while God demanded that humans have it.

Although a Mormon might balk at my making comparisons between their religious beliefs and modern politics (and as I said earlier, every Mormon I’ve ever known was a very good person, so I apologize to any I offend), I see a direct correlation here. For a Mormon, the battle for liberty is not unique to this life; it is the core battle of the ages. Lucifer lost the war in heaven (he really thought he could beat God?), but the war continues on earth. So seeing the government become more and more tyrannical is not just a political concern; it’s a fundamental, eternal concern.

I’m inspired by this Mormon theological idea: God intended for humans to be free to make our own choices and live with the consequences of those choices. The Founding Fathers of this country said essentially the same thing in the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evidence, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

My study of Mormonism has not only given me newfound respect for this people and their religion; it has also made me evaluate my own attitude towards the liberty that seems to be slipping through all of our fingers. Is this just something that is nice to have, and for which I thank the Founding Fathers? Or is it really something that is endowed by God, and that He expects me to fight for. According to Mormon theology, I already fought for this once. The fact that I’m here says that I was on God’s side in the war in heaven, and fought for liberty.

A Mormon might ask, why should any of us be less willing to fight for it here than we were there?”

Written by DCL

June 28, 2021 at 7:35 pm

That Time I Quit Meth and Found My Savior, Jesus Christ

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Guest Blog by J. A. Ebberts – @JAEbberts on Twitter

Love of Christ

Editors Note: This was taken from a thread in J. A. Ebbert’s’ Twitter feed by permission.

So there I was, minding my own business on day 3 or 4 of a meth induced “walking coma”, checking from behind the mini-blinds at every car that passed by my house to make sure it wasn’t the “Po-lice” or some sort of body snatching skin-walker…

Paranoia had riddled my mind. I lay in bed and could feel my body shutting down from exhaustion, but my mind refused to shut up long enough for me to get some sleep.

Every shadow in my room concealed some terrible entity bent on my destruction. I was tired, I was sick and I was rapidly losing my mind.

A few weeks earlier I had met some dudes in Dallas heavily involved in the trafficking of a certain party drug, and has some friends who were moving down there to set up a “business.” I was invited to participate with them and was seriously considering the offer. All of my friends had moved down there and the parties were a non-stop love fest of good vibes and PLUR nonsense, but in an inexplicable moment of clarity, like a focused beam of sunlight piercing a storm cloud, I had the awareness to ask myself “is it worth it?”

Was the paranoia, the physical emotional and mental toll on my body, the self-inflicted annihilation worth it?
after finally finding maybe an hour or two of sleep, I decided that I needed to know, once and for all, what this life was all about.

For about 6 months prior to this moment, I had a nagging feeling like there was something “more” I needed to be doing. I was agnostic. I didn’t care to really know if God was real, because if he was, and he was who they say he was, then he totally understood why I did what I did and wouldn’t judge me harshly for it. “He gets it”, I reasoned. And that worked for me.

But still, there was something more to be had and I somehow knew it. I felt like there were good and malevolent forces around me all the time. I remember a girlfriend kind of making fun of me for saying so, but still I felt it, even without context.

I’ll spare you the details of a very specific mescaline trip that in retrospect served as a tipping point for the lifestyle I had been leading (maybe a story for another time?), but here I now found myself on the brink of making a decision.
A decision that could very realistically land me in prison, land me dead, or who knows what.

While mulling it over, I remembered something my dad had said to me a year or two prior to this moment. In his efforts to get me to consider a larger spiritual existence (and clean up my act) he approached me one day and said “Adam, you’re a logical guy. Why don’t you apply the scientific method to this question?” He said “These are the things that we are told to do, if we want to receive an answer to whether or not God exists. This is the experiment and these are the conditions for replication. Why don’t you try it and see?”

At the time, I didn’t really give it another thought, but in this moment, that idea became very attractive to me. Why couldn’t I find out, once and for all, what was real and what was not? Replicate the experiment and see what happens. So, as I sat in my room contemplating my future, I decided to first find out if God was real or not. Once and for all. If nothing happens, then I have nothing to lose and can move to Dallas with my club-kid friends and move massive quantities of MDMA. But if he was real… if he did show up for me… then suddenly I have another option. Maybe even more than one option. Maybe an entire universe of possibilities opens up to me. All it takes to find out for sure is a little commitment to find out and some honesty with myself.

So, taking my cues from what I had heard and read about how to conduct this experiment, I decided to fast with the purpose of having God reveal himself to me.

I began my fast with a prayer, probably the first real prayer I have ever offered in my life. I told him that I wasn’t sure if he was there, but was going to fast anyway and if he was there to show me in a way unmistakable to me and that I would accept whatever that answer ended up being. I would ACT on whatever response I got. If I got nothing, then call me Dopey McSlangsalot and I’ll see ya in Dallas.

But if I got something, I was willing in that moment to do whatever that something required with no preconditions. No bargains. If God was real, then I was willing to accept that and let it transform my life. It’s not like I was doing anything productive with it at that point anyway.

So, I prayed, and I fasted. I went without food and water and had determined to do so for the next 24 hours at least, while I sought to overcome the self-imposed damages to my mind and body, and “recenter” myself.

It wasn’t long before I started to notice some things. Thoughts came to my mind, sometimes faster than I could grab them and really understand them. I started having some sensations in my body that I had no words for. At one point I thought I was having an acid flashback or something, as everything became quite vivid and clear. An overwhelming feeling of purpose and importance filled me.

I want to be careful here about what I share, because some of this experience I consider sacred and not for general consumption. I was told, in my mind in a voice not my own, in no uncertain terms, that I was receiving my answer. That what was taking place in and around me was the beginning of what would last for the next several hours as I sit alone in my room, upstairs in my parents’ house.

Not only was God real, but I was given some understanding about man’s complete insignificance in the universe. That at any moment the four walls that I thought protected me could explode in infinite directions, leaving me alone in space. I was powerless to stop it from happening and imagined myself left to ruin in the vacuum and the void and then almost simultaneously I was given the understanding of the complete care and love and intentional nature of this entire existence. That all of this was held together and in place for ME. For MY benefit and progression.

It immediately challenged everything I thought I had believed about so many things at that point that I don’t have time to list them. But I knew God was there, I knew he had real, tangible power and I knew, for the first time, that he answered sincere prayers.

I also knew that yes, there was something else for me to be doing. There was a better use of my time and talents than selling ecstasy to frat boys and that the time had come for me to be about whatever that was.

In an instant, I was transformed. The knowledge I had gained that night changed EVERYTHING about who I was. It changed every appetite that I had, and it took every paranoid thought and craving I had been wrestling with.

Through Christ, through the grace of God, I found real healing in the moment I had been willing to do, without precondition, whatever God wanted me to do, if he would reveal himself to me. I quit smoking, I quit meth and acid and X all immediately. That very night. Threw it all away and never had another craving or desire to ever touch the stuff again.

When we say “born again”, I was truly, born again. I was a new man much to the displeasure of many of my friends I may add. The very next day my best friend at the time came over with about 40 X-tabs and “a hot tub full of girls waiting for us.” I immediately recognized it for the temptation it was and turned him down. Not only did I turn him down, I started to tell him about what had happened to me the night before! He was confused and then angry and then maybe a little sad as he left.

It went that way with nearly all of my friends. None of them stuck around. None of them could abide me and my newly found Christianity, though many of them acknowledged that they could see the difference in my face and in my eyes.

The next 9 months of this story contain a lot of ups and downs. A lot of spiritual lessons and incredible truths and experiences prepared me to eventually serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Perhaps I’ll share some of those stories with you sometime. Stories about all of this and to those who consistently claim that I am not a Christian because of my Church membership.

There is absolutely NOTHING but the REAL Christ who could have saved me at that time and in that way.

Nothing but the REAL Christ would have had the power to transform a 130 pound drug addled punk rocker into what I am today and into what I am yet to become.

No other power exists in this universe to transform men in this way.

None.

There is no argument anyone can make about history, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or God himself that will have enough power to take this from me.

Written by DCL

March 26, 2021 at 1:41 pm

The Divine Strength of Womanhood

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This is a repost of a blog by Dustin Phelps at happiness-seekers.com

Dustin’s blog is currently on leave while he writes a book. 

I was deeply moved by this article and whether you’re a believer or not, I think you too will appreciate this perspective and example of how we should all view the women in this world.

It deeply pains me that over the course of history, some people have insisted not only that women are inferior to men, but that God agrees. ~ Doug Long – TheLongVersion.com

 

I have been disheartened to learn how many women feel conflicted about their place in God’s plan and whether He really sees His daughters as being equal to His sons.

So today I want to share the most powerful evidence I have ever come across that God—despite the cultural views of some of His children—has always held a grander view of womanhood than any of us could conceive on our own.

This article deals with one of the most widely known scriptures about Mother Eve. The verse in question has been used by some as an excuse to marginalize women, but, as you will see, it actually contains an extraordinary tribute to Eve and all women.

This discovery has fundamentally deepened my respect for womanhood and led me to believe that we are only beginning to understand the breathtaking vision God has for the role of women in the Church and in Society.

However, before I dive in, I have to explain something.

This discovery will be much more fascinating with some essential context. So, I’m asking you to trust me. People who read my articles know that I occasionally ask readers to 1) read more carefully than normal and 2) read until the end. 

This is such an article. 

Let’s get started.

When Brittney was pregnant with our first child—per the norm—everyone would always ask what we were going to name him. When they learned that our son’s middle name was going to be Ebenezer, we’d get all sorts of surprised looks.

“You mean like Ebenezer Scrooge?!” They couldn’t believe it. Some friends and family members would joke about how they were going to call him “Scrooge” when he got older. 

But the truth is that we didn’t choose the name Ebenezer on a whim nor out of a fascination with the literary accomplishments of Charles Dickens.

As it turns out, Eben-Ezer, a Hebrew term from the Bible, has special spiritual significance.

There was a time recorded in the Old Testament when an enormous Philistine army was invading Israel. The force that stood against Israel was completely overwhelming. Things got so bad that the people realized that they were doomed to destruction if the Lord did not intervene. 

Realizing this, the people went to the Prophet Samuel and begged him to plead with the Lord to spare their lives. Samuel did so and the Lord intervened. 

With the Lord’s help, the outnumbered Israelite soldiers were miraculously able to defeat the Philistine armies. 

On the battlefield, while the victory was still fresh in the minds of the people, Samuel erected a monument and called it “Eben-Ezer” (which means “Stone of Help”). And then he declared the significance of the monument:

“Hitherto has the Lord helped us.”

You see, Samuel was concerned that the people would forget how they had won. He was worried that they might take credit for the victory. The Prophet wanted the people to never forget that they had only defeated their enemies because of the Lord’s help. And if they were to hope for His blessings and protection in the future, they needed to continue relying on Him.

Incidentally, if you’ve ever heard the beloved hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, you may have wondered what the author meant when he wrote: ”Here I raise my Ebenezer. Hither by Thy help I’m come.”

Well, now you know.

Anyway, with all that in mind, we can now approach the discovery. 

About a year ago I was asked to speak at a relief society function. The topic was “The Divine Role of Womanhood.” As a man, I felt pretty unqualified and uncomfortable speaking on such a grand topic…especially to a group of women.

I was humbled and a little mortified at the task that lay before me.

As I prepared my remarks, I reflected on Mother Eve, the progenitor of all women.

A couple of years previous, I had written an article about ways in which centuries of cultural misunderstanding have distorted the message of Genesis 2:18 which reads:

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; [so] I will make him an help meet for him.”

As I reflected on the article I had previously written and then pondered further the words of Genesis 2:18, I decided to see if the Hebrew from which the words were translated could provide any additional insight.

I was specifically interested in the Hebrew word that had been translated into “meet” because it has complex meaning and is pivotal to the verse.

But as I turned to the original Hebrew rendition, something else in the verse caught my eye:

“Ezer”

I noticed that when God says that Eve will be a “help” to Adam, the original Hebrew usage translated into “help” is…”Ezer”.

Wait? Ezer…as in Eben-Ezer? It was the same word.

If it weren’t for the significance of Eben-Ezer, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. But I was suddenly intrigued.

I looked up the definition and etymology of the word and learned that some scholars trace the Hebrew word “Ezer” to a combination of two source words, one which means strength and another which refers to rescuing, saving, and defending (source).

I searched “Ezer” in the Hebrew text and found that it is used two dozen times in the Old Testament.

Remarkably, “Ezer” is always used in a military context (except when referring to Eve) and almost every time it is used to describe God as the Divine Helper and Protector of Israel.

It is this same word that is used to describe Eve.

Many women have written to me and expressed how they have always felt marginalized by this verse; it makes them feel as if God’s vision of woman was that of some second-class “helper”.

But here was the ultimate evidence that society had projected their own ignorance onto the verse.

Eve is described with a word that everywhere else in the Old Testament is only used for virtually two purposes 1) to describe God when he is coming to stand with Israel against its enemies or 2) when other nations come to march with the soldiers of Israel as they face their foes (list of “ezer” usages found here).

So, “Ezer”, the word used to describe Mother Eve as a “help” to Adam, has nothing to do with the role of an inferior or domestic servant. 

The word that is used to describe the Creator of the Universe as a savior, source of strength, and “the Helper of Israel” cannot have a demeaning implication. God blesses His people, He loves and cares for His people, and He stands with His people…but He is not subservient to them. 

In the Old Testament, the Lord is described as an “Ezer” when Israel is too weak to face its enemies alone. Other nations are described as an “Ezer” to Israel, when Israel’s strength is insufficient to defeat its enemies.

And so it is with Eve. Eve is referred to as an “Ezer” when God sees that Adam cannot do it alone.  Eve is referred to as an “ezer” because she was Adam’s first ally and friend, his partner in doing battle with evil and bringing about the purposes of God upon the Earth.

So, the very verse that has been used to marginalize women, was really God’s own tribute to His daughters.

It is high time that we reclaimed and embraced God’s vision of women.

Exciting things are on the horizon. Women in every quarter of the world are rising up and the women of the Church must rise to lead and influence them.

So, the next time you read Genesis 2:18 and you are tempted to imagine a submissive housekeeper, instead think of a warrior with a drawn sword. Think of a change maker. Think of a leader. Think of an aunt, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a mother, a wife, a young women’s leader, or Sunday school teacher.

Your influence has changed me; it has changed the people around you. Thank you for being an “ezer”. Thank you for your service, for your voice, for your leadership, for your courage, and for your sacrifices.

We cannot do this without you.

Written by DCL

March 9, 2020 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Faith, Family, Good News

Tagged with , , , ,

Is a Second Reformation Unfolding in Front of Our Eyes?

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[Image Credit: Ferdinand Pauwels, Public Domain]

Republished by permission

November 1st is traditionally known as “All Saints’ Day” in the Western Christian calendar–a day to remember all of the faithful departed. The day (eve) before All Saints’ Day was “All Hallows’ (an older word for “saint) Eve.” Later, in a series of twists and turns (more reminiscent of the latest TV sitcom, rather than “normal” history) this Christian holiday devolved into our contemporary Halloween.

What is less known about this day is that it marks the moment an obscure German monk and college professor presented a list of religious concerns for a formal debate, unwittingly sparking one of the most momentous events in Western history–the Reformation.

Many in the conservative Protestant tradition resonate with Martin Luther’s bold stand to proclaim the truths of the Bible, and to resist the authoritarian forces of control. But what they forget are the true aims of Luther and the first generation of reformers.

Martin Luther did not mean to start the Reformation. As a “doctor” of theology, he was trying to start an academic discussion about common church practices, such as “indulgence preachers,” who were basically selling get-out-of-Purgatory-free cards. He initially had no intention of breaking ties with the Roman Catholic church.

Many factors led to what we now call the “Reformation.” The first was the rediscovery of Biblical Greek and Hebrew. Most of the Reformers were serious students of these languages, and the insights they gained from this Scriptural engagement fueled the momentous changes that many celebrate on Oct. 31.

The second factor was the cultural movement we call the “Renaissance.” At its most basic level, the Renaissance looked back to the artistic and literary achievements of ancient Greece and Rome. Cultural life blossomed, spawning artists such as da Vinci and Michelangelo, composers such as Palestrina, and authors such as Dante Alighieri. In northern Europe, the Renaissance took a more “bookish” turn. Sparked by Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the movable-type printing press, northern Europeans could suddenly produce and exchange ideas quickly through the printed word. Towns like Basel in Switzerland became centers of scholarship and book-production. Erasmus of Rotterdam led this movement through his scholarship and his wit. With biting satire and vast learning, Erasmus criticized the many moral and spiritual failings of the Catholic Church.

However, in the ensuing conflict, Erasmus remained loyal to the Roman church, unlike many of his protégés. Johannes Oecolampadius worked closely with Erasmus in Basel, putting together the first printed edition of the Greek New Testament, as well as new editions of classic Christian thinkers and pastors like Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, and Basil of Caesarea. As Oecolampadius dove deeper into the original Greek and Hebrew of the Bible, he joined the ranks of the Reformers. Eventually, their devotion to God’s Word led them into sustained conflict with Roman church officials, and finally into a full-fledged “Reformation.”

These Reformers shared the goal of returning the church to a purity and fervency that they read about in the New Testament (in the original Greek) and in the church fathers (many of whom wrote in Greek). They did not want to reject all of previous church history—they saw themselves as truly “catholic,” in one sense of the original Latin word. Catholicus means “universal,” and the early Reformers tried to reform Christian worship and church practices according to what Christians had “universally” believed and practiced.

The Reformation began roughly 500 years ago. What many don’t realize, however, is that a similar reformation is occurring today, only not in the churches, but in the schools. Classical Christian schools, to be more specific.

Like the original Reformers, educators in the classical Christian school movement seek to train and equip the next generation of leaders who will boldly stand for the truth in their culture, churches, and homes. They seek to inspire students who will bravely challenge the status quo, motivated by what they see in Scripture. And they hope that students’ brief exposure to the Great Books, the Great Thinkers, and the classical languages like Latin and Greek will enable them to gain the wisdom and eloquence to lead a new Reformation.

Is it possible that by teaching students to stand on the shoulders of these intellectual giants, they, like the Reformers before them, will be able to steer the world down a completely different path than the one it is currently on?

For Further Reading

Getting the Reformation Wrong: Correcting Some Misunderstandings – James R. Payton, Jr.

Church History (vol. 2): From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day – John D. Woodbridge & Frank A. James III

An Introduction to Classical Education: A Guide for Parents – Dr. Christopher Perrin

Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning – Robert Littlejohn & Charles T. Evans

The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education – Ravi Jain & Kevin Clark

This post: Is a Second Reformation Unfolding in Front of Our Eyes? was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Gregory Soderberg.

Slamming Capitalism: The New Youthful Fad

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I see it a lot these days.

Social media posts and memes deriding Capitalism and romanticizing Socialism.

I honestly don’t know where it comes from outside of historical ignorance. It’s puzzling.

A link to such a post appeared in my email the other day. I’ll link to it below if you care to read it. It will provide context to what I’m about to write next.

Authored by a gentleman named Umair Haque. But don’t let the name lead you to assume anything. He’s an American citizen, young, idealistic, and dead wrong when it comes to capitalism.

The title of his article?

Does America Have Capitalist Stockholm Syndrome? – Why Are the Fiercest Defenders of Capitalism Those Who’ll Never Be Capitalists?

Ah yes, evil capitalism and those stupid white men dying to defend it!

Unfortunately, I believe Mr. Haque completely missed the point of their defense. It has nothing to do with their personal capitalistic ventures as he noted with his friend’s father. It has everything to do with the ventures of others which have made their lives, and the lives of their families for generations now, better. Infinitely better.

Period.

Perhaps the best defense for capitalism I’ve ever read comes from Economist Deirdre McCloskey. McCloskey doesn’t like the word “capitalism.” She likes to call our economic system a “technological and institutional betterment at a frenetic pace, tested by unforced exchange among all the parties involved” but that’s too long. Instead, we can use another term she coined, “trade-tested progress.”

Below I post her argument in quotes. If you disagree, provide a better model with an equally compelling mix of evidence, but please don’t go into a tired and fruitless rant about Socialism or any similar construct that has failed miserably over and over throughout history.

“Perhaps you yourself still believe in nationalism or socialism or proliferating regulation. And perhaps you are in the grip of pessimism about growth or consumerism or the environment or inequality.

Please, for the good of the wretched of the earth, reconsider.

Many humans, in short, are now stunningly better off than their ancestors were in 1800. … Hear again that last, crucial, astonishing fact, discovered by economic historians over the past few decades. It is: in the two centuries after 1800 the trade-tested goods and services available to the average person in Sweden or Taiwan rose by a factor of 30 or 100. Not 100 percent, understand — a mere doubling — but in its highest estimate a factor of 100, nearly 10,000 percent, and at least a factor of 30, or 2,900 percent. The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has dwarfed any of the previous and temporary enrichments. Explaining it is the central scientific task of economics and economic history, and it matters for any other sort of social science or recent history.

What explains it? The causes were not (to pick from the apparently inexhaustible list of materialist factors promoted by this or that economist or economic historian) coal, thrift, transport, high male wages, low female and child wages, surplus value, human capital, geography, railways, institutions, infrastructure, nationalism, the quickening of commerce, the late medieval run-up, Renaissance individualism, the First Divergence, the Black Death, American silver, the original accumulation of capital, piracy, empire, eugenic improvement, the mathematization of celestial mechanics, technical education, or a perfection of property rights. Such conditions had been routine in a dozen of the leading organized societies of Eurasia, from ancient Egypt and China down to Tokugawa Japan and the Ottoman Empire, and not unknown in Meso-America and the Andes. Routines cannot account for the strangest secular event in human history, which began with bourgeois dignity in Holland after 1600, gathered up its tools for betterment in England after 1700, and burst on northwestern Europe and then the world after 1800.

The modern world was made by a slow-motion revolution in ethical convictions about virtues and vices, in particular by a much higher level than in earlier times of toleration for trade-tested progress — letting people make mutually advantageous deals, and even admiring them for doing so, and especially admiring them when SteveJobs-like, they imagine betterments. The change, the Bourgeois Revaluation, was the coming of a business-respecting civilization, an acceptance of the Bourgeois Deal: “Let me make money in the first act, and by the third act I will make you all rich.”

Much of the elite, and then also much of the non-elite of northwestern Europe and its offshoots, came to accept or even admire the values of trade and betterment. Or at the least the polity did not attempt to block such values, as it had done energetically in earlier times. Especially it did not do so in the new United States. Then likewise, the elites and then the common people in more of the world followed, including now, startlingly, China and India. They undertook to respect — or at least not to utterly despise and overtax and stupidly regulate — the bourgeoisie.

Why, then, the Bourgeois Revaluation that after made for trade-tested betterment, the Great Enrichment? The answer is the surprising, black-swan luck of northwestern Europe’s reaction to the turmoil of the early modern — the coincidence in northwestern Europe of successful Reading, Reformation, Revolt, and Revolution: “the Four Rs,” if you please. The dice were rolled by Gutenberg, Luther, Willem van Oranje, and Oliver Cromwell. By a lucky chance for England their payoffs were deposited in that formerly inconsequential nation in a pile late in the seventeenth century. None of the Four Rs had deep English or European causes. All could have rolled the other way. They were bizarre and unpredictable. In 1400 or even in 1600 a canny observer would have bet on an industrial revolution and a great enrichment — if she could have imagined such freakish events — in technologically advanced China, or in the vigorous Ottoman Empire. Not in backward, quarrelsome Europe.

A result of Reading, Reformation, Revolt, and Revolution was a fifth R, a crucial Revaluation of the bourgeoisie, first in Holland and then in Britain. The Revaluation was part of an R-caused, egalitarian reappraisal of ordinary people. … The cause of the bourgeois betterments, that is, was an economic liberation and a sociological dignifying of, say, a barber and wig-maker of Bolton, son of a tailor, messing about with spinning machines, who died in 1792 as Sir Richard Arkwright, possessed of one of the largest bourgeois fortunes in England. The Industrial Revolution and especially the Great Enrichment came from liberating commoners from compelled service to a hereditary elite, such as the noble lord in the castle, or compelled obedience to a state functionary, such as the economic planner in the city hall. And it came from according honor to the formerly despised of Bolton — or of Ōsaka, or of Lake Wobegon — commoners exercising their liberty to relocate a factory or invent airbrakes.”

Don’t let the current version of capitalism where business and industry leaders have become common bed-partners with politicians and government bureaucrats creating a crony-infested mutation, sour you on the concept. Seek to understand it in its purest form and work to move it back to what made it the most productive and beneficial economic system the world has ever seen.

Freedom, liberty, trade, and betterment for all.

Hence the fruits of capitalism are sweet indeed.

 

Written by DCL

September 5, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Good News, News, Politics

Tagged with ,

Our System Works Even In Its Current Fragile State

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us constitution

All my life I have had a fascination with the founders of this nation and the Constitution of the United States of America they penned.

It is my beacon. It is my guide to formulate and articulate my political positions. Everything begins there for me.

The US Constitution is a blueprint for what I believe is the best form of government ever created in known history. It is based on the eternal principle of agency. Freedom to choose for ourselves our destiny without force or coercion. It’s strength comes from the principles entwined in its language. As with any blueprint its up to the builders to make sure the plans are followed correctly so the end result can be realized.

If followed, the principles enshrined within will lead the nation to prosperity, security, and liberty for for all citizens. What we do with that liberty and freedom is up to us. We are free to choose. Few nations on earth lay claim to anything close.

The United States Constitution is not perfect. No work of human hands is, or ever can be. But as a charter of government, and as a tool for protecting the natural rights of its citizens, no other charter of government is in the same league.

I believe with all my heart and soul it was divinely inspired. I know, not everyone does. But I believe God never forces His will on His children. He will however, inspire them to do things that will facilitate His will to be known. We then, through our agency, choose whether to accept and follow or not.

This election, in my mind, proves the wisdom of the founders and the stability of that 228 year-old document. It still works, and even though the outcome of each election may not be what we want, it gives every citizen a voice and every state an opportunity to select the next president.

I wasn’t happy with the choices the two major parties gave us. That’s no secret to anyone who knows me or follows me on social media, but just like every other prior election I acknowledge the victor and give Mr. Trump the same opportunity I gave Mr. Obama. The opportunity to show me you really want to heal the nation and bring people together. Don’t shower me with platitudes and promises. Your actions will mean so much more than your words. Show me you’re sincere and I will support you in every way I can where we agree.

Ignore your promises from day one like Mr. Obama has done and I will oppose you and work to bring about your defeat should you run again in 2020.

I want you to succeed, but you can’t succeed if you don’t have a majority of the people on your side. It’s your job to win them over. Your supporters smell blood in the water. Are you going to turn them loose or is reconciliation and healing going to be your mantra?

A majority of Americans are watching and hoping.

Written by DCL

November 10, 2016 at 10:59 am

Posted in Faith, Good News, Politics

A Mother’s Prayer

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A Mother’s Day story dedicated to my amazing wife and mother of our four children and to my mom, a woman my feeble words cannot adequately describe.  I love them both more than words can express.

A Mother's Prayer

You came into this world in a rush amid a chaotic scramble to usher in your first breath.  The heart monitor was strapped around your mother’s stomach.  We watched blips on a screen and listened to the rhythm of the beats, but that was the cause of our concern.  There wasn’t any rhythm to it. “No heart beat… there’s no heartbeat,” the words sent doctors and nurses scrambling, taking your mother with them they quickly disappeared from view.  Unlike your other siblings, your father wouldn’t witness this delivery nor would your mother for this time she would be sedated to allow the scalpel to do its necessarily swift job.  Minutes passed but felt like days. Finally, a smiling nurse and doctor appeared.  All is well.  You are here, healthy, and in the arms of a groggy, but smiling, mom.

This Sunday started out like any other. A mother works to get her six little ducklings ready for church.  The weekly process consists of a combination of skirmishes and diplomacy but eventually all eight are in route to the meeting-house.  You are still little, the youngest of the brood, and today you are very fussy.  Not like you.  As the worship service progresses you become ever more agitated and increasingly warm. Your mother feels impressed to take you home leaving the rest of the family at church. By the time you get home you are burning with fever. 100, 101, 102 and climbing.  A telephone call to the doctor results in another trip, this time to the local children’s hospital.  When you arrive your temperature is over 104 and pushing 105.  The nurses immediately take you and wrap you in cool wet towels to try to bring the fever down.  The doctor can find no other symptoms of illness, only the high fever. He requests a procedure known as a spinal tap and your mom is asked to leave the room. In anguish, she tearfully obeys. — Spinal meningitis. The words fall heavy from the doctors lips onto the ears of a distraught and panicking mother.  A deadly disease in 1971.  If death did not occur in the first few days the patient was sure to have severe complications, from blindness and deafness to mental disabilities. The doctor’s prognosis left hope dangling by a thread, seemingly out of reach, but not all hope.  You spent a number of days in a hospital room under the watchful eye of your mother, each day showing signs of improvement.  You made it past those initial, crucial stages with your life.  Your continued improvement encouraged doctors to allow your parents to take you home, but it would be weeks, even months, before anyone would know the toll the prolonged fever would take.  Six months later, you were pronounced healthy with no ill effects.

Another night at football practice. The nightly scrimmage was like any other. Repetitions. Lots of repetitions. You run each play over and over until assignments and execution become second nature. The play was a pass play. You took the snap from center and dropped back, eyes darting about the field for an open receiver.  You never saw it coming.  The blitzing linebacker from your blind-side. He lunged at your legs, the crown of his helmet striking just above the ankle.  Your mom was there in an instant hearing your screams of pain, rushing to your side trying to calm you and provide comfort, when someone said, “ankles aren’t supposed to bend that way.”  She never left your side. There was no separating you. She was there assuring you that everything would be alright.

And for the most part, things have been alright.

Oh you’ve made some poor choices, dealing with the consequences, suffering more pain along the way, physical, emotional, and spiritual.  And every hurt, every heartache, every painful experience has been shared by your mother and will continue to be for as long as her life is connected with yours.  Because the bond between mother and child is unlike any other relationship human beings are blessed to experience in this life — for a mother’s arms encircle a child both literally and figuratively throughout his or her life with tender restraint, security, and love. There to protect against fear, harm, and evil.

Motherhood is the highest, holiest service assumed by humankind. It’s the definition of selfless service. It’s both a daunting responsibility and a glorious opportunity.  The divine role of motherhood is a gift from God, and key to His plan of happiness for all His children.

When she heard the words, “there is no heartbeat”, a mother prayed.

When she heard the diagnosis of spinal meningitis, a mother prayed.

When she heard the agonizing cries of her son in pain, a mother prayed.

A man of great knowledge and wisdom once said, “There are few things more powerful than the prayers of a righteous mother.”  I believe motherhood is a divine and appointed calling enabling them to receive help from above in times of need.  Through sleepless nights, dark days, and seemingly impossible and difficult circumstances, the prayers of mothers have been a source of unparalleled divine power in homes, communities, and nations.

That power has been exercised in your behalf countless times through your life.  Do you know what the truly amazing thing is?  She asks nothing in return.  She just wants you to be happy.

On this Mother’s Day and any day you get the chance, tell your mom how happy you are because she is your mom.

It will be an answer to a mother’s prayer.

 

Written by DCL

May 9, 2015 at 9:42 pm

There is a Spirit of Christmas

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Nothing expresses the Spirit of Christmas like music.  Music can deliver a message with deep emotion, feeling, and power.

For believer and non-believer, this time of year is truly one of “Good Will Toward Men” if we but choose to make it so.

Enjoy this wonderful rendition of Angels We Have Heard on High, by the Piano Guys, Peter Hollins, and David Archuleta.

Let the Spirit of Christmas wash over you and touch your heart.

The Tea Party: Correcting the Narrative

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The Tea Party narrative in America has been drafted, perfected, and advanced by the Political Left and its cronies through the mainstream media.

It is a false narrative.

It’s time for all people who believe in limited government as determined by the constitution of the United States of America, the separation of powers, and individual liberty and self-determination, to correct the narrative and help all of America’s citizens understand the truth about this movement. It’s time to tell the president, the congress, Wall Street, and Corporate America their gig is up. We will not tolerate the game being played to the detriment of all working Americans who just want to provide the best life they can for their families and those they love.

The Tea Party is not a movement full extremists doing damage to this country. Any objective person, using common sense, can quickly see where the power lies and who is truly damaging every American’s ability to determine his or her own future and how they live their lives.

It’s time to stop listening to a so-called free press that is no longer an objective observer or watch dog. The major media voices are bought and sold. Time to stop being told what to believe. Time to stop assuming the media is acting as another check and balance on our government or has your best interests at heart. Start doing your own homework. Take down the shields and barriers and give the other side a fair hearing.

Study the founding documents of this nation and weigh your findings against the standards set in those time-tested principles.

Then decide where you stand.

The Wisdom of the Aged

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James K. Flanagan passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack on September 3, 2012. But he left behind the wisdom he gleaned from the 72 years of his life in a letter to his five grandchildren.

It is wisdom that will benefit us all if we will but take heed.

 

James K FlanaganDear Ryan, Conor, Brendan, Charlie, and Mary Catherine,

My wise and thoughtful daughter Rachel urged me to write down some advice for you, the important things that I have learned about life. I am beginning this on 8 April 2012, the eve of my 72nd birthday.

1. Each one of you is a wonderful gift of God both to your family and to all the world. Remember it always, especially when the cold winds of doubt and discouragement fall upon your life.

2. Be not afraid . . . of anyone or of anything when it comes to living your life most fully. Pursue your hopes and your dreams no matter how difficult or “different” they may seem to others. Far too many people don’t do what they want or should do because of what they imagine others may think or say. Remember, if they don’t bring you chicken soup when you’re sick or stand by you when you’re in trouble, they don’t matter. Avoid those sour-souled pessimists who listen to your dreams then say, “Yeah, but what if . . .” The heck with “what if. . .” Do it! The worst thing in life is to look back and say: “I would have; I could have; I should have.” Take risks, make mistakes.

3. Everyone in the world is just an ordinary person. Some people may wear fancy hats or have big titles or (temporarily) have power and want you to think they are above the rest. Don’t believe them. They have the same doubts, fears, and hopes; they eat, drink, sleep, and fart like everyone else. Question authority always but be wise and careful about the way you do it.

4. Make a Life List of all those things you want to do: travel to places; learn a skill; master a language; meet someone special. Make it long and do some things from it every year. Don’t say “I’ll do it tomorrow” (or next month or next year). That is the surest way to fail to do something. There is no tomorrow, and there is no “right” time to begin something except now.

5. Practice the Irish proverb: Moi an olge agus tiocfaidh si “Praise the child and she will flourish.”

6. Be kind and go out of your way to help people — especially the weak, the fearful, and children. Everyone is carrying a special sorrow, and they need our compassion.

7. Don’t join the military or any organization that trains you to kill. War is evil. All wars are started by old men who force or fool young men to hate and to kill each other. The old men survive, and, just as they started the war with pen and paper, they end it the same way. So many good and innocent people die. If wars are so good and noble, why aren’t those leaders who start wars right up there fighting?

8. Read books, as many as you can. They are a wonderful source of delight, wisdom, and inspiration. They need no batteries or connections, and they can go anywhere.

9. Be truthful.

10. Travel: always but especially when you are young. Don’t wait until you have “enough” money or until everything is “just right.” That never happens. Get your passport today.

11. Pick your job or profession because you love to do it. Sure, there will be some things hard about it, but a job must be a joy. Beware of taking a job for money alone — it will cripple your soul.

12. Don’t yell. It never works, and it hurts both yourself and others. Every time I have yelled, I have failed.

13. Always keep promises to children. Don’t say “we’ll see” when you mean “no.” Children expect the truth; give it to them with love and kindness.

14. Never tell anyone you love them when you don’t.

15. Live in harmony with Nature: go into the outdoors, woods, mountains, sea, desert. It’s important for your soul.

16. Visit Ireland. It’s where the soul of our family was born — especially the West: Roscommon, Clare, and Kerry.

17. Hug people you love. Tell them how much they mean to you now; don’t wait until it’s too late.

18. Be grateful. There is an Irish saying: “This is a day in our lives, and it will not come again.” Live every day with this in mind.

As was written in his obituary, James K. Flanagan “was proudly liberal and fought unyieldingly for the underdog. He was an accomplished author, poet, and seanchai — Irish storyteller; he reveled in recounting the joy of growing up Catholic in Jersey City and his adventures in the Adirondack Mountains and on the Western coast of Ireland. His greatest love was spending time with his family, most of all his five grandchildren” Ryan (11); Conor (10); Brendan (9); Charles (8); and Mary Catherine (5).”

*Previously published in the San Francisco Globe.

Written by DCL

March 29, 2014 at 11:40 am