The Long Version

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

Archive for the ‘Good News’ Category

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.

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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