Category: Politics

Why America Will Never Work

Why America Will Never Work

The more I meditate on the spiritual landscape of the United States, the more I am convinced that its political framework is wired to fail repeatedly; a pendulum that will never stop swinging. It is set up to provoke continuous civil wars with no real lasting solutions, because everyone gets to have a say, no matter how stupid they might be. Sometimes there is silence in the American fields. The crime rate gets low, the economy pseudo-stabilizes with quantitative easing, certain laws are put in place to give the illusion of victory, a “good” president is elected, etc. However, when the country seems suddenly silent, it isn’t because there is peace, it is because the factions are reloading their weapons.

The United States was founded by Protestant theists and deists who wanted to rebel against all authority and apply their Enlightenment ideology (largely borrowed from the Protestant Reformation) to politics. Individualism became synonymous with freedom and liberty, and freedom and liberty became synonymous with Divine Providence. Practically speaking, ‘Freedom’ means I can do whatever I want; it means that which is interpreted to be in any way restrictive is to be destroyed. Thus, in the hearts of many, individualism was united with the idea of God, and secularism was conceived. This is how an individualistic ideal became the false gods popularly known as Freedom and Liberty.

The Roots of Conspiracy Mentality

Protestant eschatology and conspiracy mentality have always gone hand in hand as well. Starting with the post-Reformation eschatological opinions of what is known as the historicism perspective, the Pope was seen as The Antichrist, and therefore all things Catholic must have a hidden agenda. The papacy (or “Babylon”) was out to get you and lead you to hell, or so they believed. Many influential Protestant preachers bought into this old-school “fake news,” and passed it down to the next generations. From then on, many Protestants began to ascribe the Book of Revelation to just about every authority figure that remotely threatened any aspect of their opinions (or general comfort, for that matter). Fast forward to 1966, Ralph Woodrow’s “Babylon Mystery Religion” was published, and it spread like wildfire. Popular Evangelicals like Tim LaHaye begin to feel quite comfortable slandering the Catholic Church, and polemics became normative and encouraged, no matter how false or ignorant they might have been. One might say this was the spiritual origin of the modern political “attack ad.” The accusation itself was enough for it to be true, and instead of actually talking to Catholics and exercising discernment, they were content to think the belief itself was enough for confirmation. All of this is why the Evangelical-political Right is the way it is. This is why people like Alex Jones are successful. His audience (which seems to consist largely of Evangelical Republicans) has been programmed for decades to desire only to hear ignorant conspiratorial accusations (to validate their own ignorant conspiratorial accusations), regardless of whether or not they are true. It is the self-validating accusation itself that matters to these people, not truth.

There are many other reasons for conspiracy mentality and why the average American now completely distrusts authority, such as JFK, Clergy sex scandals, Vietnam, Presidential scandals, 9-11, police brutality, the list goes on. The music (especially Punk) and entertainment industry from 1970-2000 then reinforced these sentiments and justified rebellion for decades. I love Star Wars, but let’s be honest, those movies are all about a ragtag rebellion against the establishment.

One Country vs Fifty Countries

Aside from the religious eschatological overtones of the founding framework, another problematic aspect of the country is the fact that not everyone truly views the United States as one country. The more conservative Republicans and Libertarians idealize the United States as essentially fifty autonomous countries that ought to operate independently of one another, whereas the more progressive Democrats tend to idealize the country as fifty united sections of one big country. This is why, for example, there are differences of opinion regarding the ideal size of the government. If the country ought to be divided into autonomous states, then government ought to be small. If the country ought to be a union of all states, then the government must adapt to the size and grow. This fundamental difference of perspective is why no progress can ever be made.

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.
– G.K. Chesterton

If the entire country is filled with a bunch of people who want to assert their own opinion or religious-political ideology and die on every hill, how could the American experiment possibly succeed? The only thing I see in America’s future is the potential for another civil war. Revolution is all the revolutionary knows how to do. If people rise to power and get in the way of your beliefs, and if the established system is not working in your favor, you gun them down and enforce your ‘freedom’ upon everyone else until you get what you want.

The Bi-Partisan Imperial Cult

I should add, this is not merely a battle of ideology, this is a religious battle between major (political) groups of emperor worshipers who think they are fighting a holy war. Every political cult thinks God is on their side, precisely because everyone worships themselves. So in a sense, they’re right. I mentioned before about how the individualistic ideology of “freedom and liberty” became the American deities. This is how American flags made their way into religious sanctuaries, this is why we have forced conversions of other countries (known as “regime change”), and this is how Self became the god of modernity, reigning as the ‘Genius’ of the President. Patriotic anthems became the new liturgy, and every Presidential inauguration becomes an opportunity to worship our own proxy, that is, the one who is divinely (or rather, demonically) possessed by each individual voter. We should be provoked to laughter when we hear Republicans say they are afraid of an Islamic jihad, because violent Muslims could learn a few things from the bloody trail of American jihad. The USA spends more money on the military than the next multiple countries combined. As the Holy Scriptures say, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!” (Isa 31:1) Again the scriptures say, Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the LORD our God (Psa 20:7). May we repent of such idolatry.

A united individualism only leads to bi-partisan bickering. Both the red and blue people worship the Genius of the emperor just like the Romans. Because the Genius of the President is supposed to reflect the image of the individual worshipper (and not the other way around), America is designed in such a way where one is able to worship themselves through the standing President. When one imperial cult is able to worship themselves, and another cult is not, it develops into more war and division. Individualism never works, and it never will. So long as the refusal to submit to an authority is built into the framework of the American spirit, and so long as that violence and rebellion results from a President not reflecting one’s personal image, America will never work.

American Politics: The Death of the Moderate

American Politics: The Death of the Moderate

The United States is such a peculiar animal, if one could even call it an animal. Perhaps a chimera would be a more accurate: fusing the heartless insensitivity of a bald eagle with the deranged cannibalism of a turkey. The former mirrors our foreign policy, and the latter depicts our domestic relationship with one another. Perhaps this would have been a more appropriate national bird to truly reflect the people it represents.

It has become incredibly difficult to be a moderate in such a polarizing country. Any clarification or nuance on any issue is immediately interpreted to be propaganda from the other side. If one identifies as a Progressive, any argument against abortion is seen as having its origin from Fox News. If one identifies as Conservative, any argument against the violence toward “black lives” (or against rich bankers and businessmen) is immediately seen as Progressive/Liberal. Have compassion on other people? Perhaps you have control over your tongue? Uh oh, you must be a ‘snowflake,’ because you are simply not willing to treat others like trash for the sake of what you think is true.

If this was a gang war against the ‘Red gang’ and the ‘Blue gang,’ the people in the middle are not seen as wearing ‘purple’–They are seen as wearing both red and blue, so they are simply shot by both gangs. To make matters worse, there are other clans with different shades of red and blue who are the rejects of the Red and Blue gangs. There is the Alex Jones “Alien Life Extension Technology” cartoon squad, and the Libertarian “I don’t need nothin from nobody” squad.

Being moderate or independent essentially means you are politically homeless. Being moderate has become a death wish, as it is to be counted among the remnant still in control of their mental faculties, standing alone, weaponless, among hordes of wroth imbeciles violently shaking their pitchforks. Evil is then understood to be whatever is outside the mob.

“Out with the old, in with the new”

Information in the Progressive circle is no longer received on the basis of whether or not it is true, but whether or not it is consistent with the new. The academic journals that are pushed into the public spotlight are only the ones consistent with the Progressive agenda. If it is with regards to ‘gender studies,’ then all conclusions aligned with the status quo are pushed aside in favor of the ones that tickle the ear and tell us what we want to hear. The definition of ‘falsehood’ becomes synonymous with the ‘status quo.’ This “tea party of the left” (as Dave Rubin calls it) is known as the regressive left. Outwardly, many of them appear to be intellectuals, but inwardly they aggressively wave torches.

However, even saying this in public would no doubt cause people to assume I am a Conservative Republican, or at the very least, an Establishment Democrat, which is my point. I am neither of those things. I am also not a Libertarian, and most definitely not ‘Alt-right.’

Lest people jump to conclusions, I must say that I don’t merely have issues with Progressives. I might have even more issues with Conservatives, who are often hypocritical, associate their dumb politics with my transcendent God, and are increasingly being recruited into the ‘Alt-right militia’ to prepare for some revolution.

“The Devil is a Democrat”

This quote was an actual sign that was being held in public. “The Devil is a Democrat.” Why does someone hold a sign like this, you ask? Because once you (1) trip over the Republican support for murdering foreign leaders for the sake of regime change, and you (2) crawl over the Republican support for corporate corruption through ‘trickle-down’ economics (which is when a rich person urinates on his slaves from his lofty balcony), and with your remaining strength you (3) yet crawl over the racist Republican prison system and drug war, one eventually sees, off in the distance, some Democrats supporting abortion. Thus, the hypocritical Republican condemns the Democrat with one finger, and himself with three.

I don’t really know why I feel the need to write this. I guess I’m just tired of the mindlessness in political discourse. The empty-headed rioting between the political factions is beginning to bore me. The social assumptions that “everyone in the room agrees with my ignorant statement” is tiresome. No, I don’t think the devil is a democrat because of abortion, and no, I don’t think Michelle Obama is built like a monkey. No, I don’t think being against abortion is contrary to women’s rights, and no, I don’t think Libertarian anarchy is the answer.

A moderate independent thinker is a casualty in a senseless gang war over colors. I pray that the red seeds of such martyrdom will cause the yellow fields of American discourse to one day bloom with nuance.

On Feminism

On Feminism

Value

Firstly, it could be argued that there is a lot of good that came out of what is known as the first and second wave of feminism. Here are some things I perceive as good:

  • The right to vote was the good step when it comes to changing the public perception of women into something more honorable.
  • Departing the idea that women ought not play sports was also a good step.
  • The idea that women should have equal pay is also a good thing.
  • The idea that prostitutes are much more like slaves than willful sinners was another good step.
  • The idea that pornography is inherently harmful to women was another good step.
  • Even the deconstruction of many ‘gender roles’ were a good thing, because not just men like cars and football.

These things are common sense, and any rational person who respects women would believe them. However, I would argue that none of these things represent the modern notion of feminism in all its doctrine and connotations. This is precisely why I do not identify as a ‘feminist,’ despite the fact I am a supporter of women in the deepest and most spiritual sense.

That said, I’m going to lay out some of my more nuanced thoughts on the movement in attempt to analyze the happenings within it.

The Hijacking

It is commonly said that “feminism” has become a dirty word. It is common because it is true. Feminism seems to have been hijacked by leftist radicals during the second wave, and they have continued to become the megaphone of the third wave. In other words, the doctrines of feminism are preached loudest by the most radical demographic, and it has shaped the entire spirit and image of feminism at large.

These were the women who intentionally shaved their heads, burned their bras, and preached about patriarchy and heterosexuality being inherently oppressive. These were the women who thought they should be able to have as much sex as possible, with as many people as possible, with no repercussions. Thus, abortion was redefined as a “woman’s reproductive right” instead of seeing it as the blatant murder of unborn children by means of advanced technology.

Antagonistic groups like FEMEN can’t help but consistently expose themselves in public, and/or grab statues by the crotch, because somehow that is progress (had a man exposed himself and grabbed the crotch of a female statue, he would have been arrested and institutionalized). Inflammatory groups like Pussy Riot try their best to violate Russian Orthodox Churches for completely unrelated political reasons, because somehow tormenting innocent people is progress.

This inclination to act like a wild beast can only be described as demonic, and when you call yourself a feminist, you unfortunately associate yourself with these radicals also calling themselves feminists (who are normalizing radicalism and influencing young people at a rapid rate).

This type of thing is precisely why so many people left the Republican Party in 2016. They did not want to be associated with the normalization of the radically racist alt-right movement. Is it any wonder why so many people are dropping the feminist label?

The Priority Police

One thing that fascinates me is how the feminist leaders treat conservative women. You would think that because conservative women are women, they would get some respect among feminists. However, such is not the case. I listened to an NPR program recently, and they had a few feminists being interviewed. One of the central questions was, “Is there any room for Republican women?” The most vocal of the three said that she could not align herself with anyone who is against a woman’s “reproductive rights” (notice the rhetoric). A conservative woman voiced her opinion as a call-in comment, talking about the progress women have made in establishing a public political/legal identity. Her comment was met with, “She’s not a feminist.”

Notice with me what’s happening here. You have the most vocal demographic of feminism not only defining terms for the rest of the movement, but defining and enforcing “priority.” In other words, if you agree with 14/15 teachings of feminism, but disagree with abortion, that one issue is a deal breaker. The feminist community will reject you simply because you do not prioritize issues in their order. This phenomenon is what I find most interesting about the current happenings of feminism.

The Role of Men

Many feminists often say men ought not talk about feminism, though there are so many conflicting interpretations of feminism that I can not with confidence say if such a statement is representative of feminist thought. Regardless, more often than not, a white male talking about feminism is ignored (even if they support the movement), and is immediately met with lamentations such as, “Oh God, here goes another white man talking about feminism,” spoken with a dramatic Tina Fey eye-roll.

Hostility toward the male perspective is typically due to the fact that men do not have a firsthand experience of the female perspective. However, such a perspective is like saying women ought not talk about the effects of pornography on men, simply because they do not have a firsthand experience of the effects of pornography on men. Do women not have the ability to observe their own relationships? Do women not have the ability to observe the relationships of their peers? In the same way, men can certainly have valid opinions of feminism that are filtered through tangible secondhand experiences with the women in their lives. I have a wife, a mother, a daughter, and multiple sisters. One does not need a firsthand experience of womanhood to be educated or qualified to contribute to the conversation, because secondhand experiences are also valid.

The Nature of Liberation

Has any oppressed party ever successfully achieved self-liberation? Such a concept seems so bizarre to me. An oppressed people are never freed by themselves, they are freed when an outside agent of power is persuaded. Nobody is getting any rights without successfully convincing the people in power to establish those rights. This is why the groups which intentionally try to silence the male voice are actually running counter to their own agenda.

Laws against slavery were not passed by black men. Black men may march, but at the end of the day, it is all in attempt to persuade the white men in power to adopt the message and change the laws (this is what makes riots so destructive for any message). In the same way, if women want to be lifted from oppression, they will need to convince men to preach such a message to other men.

Women would also do well to make a more concise message. Protesting everything is not how you get things done. People generally latch on to singular issues, which is precisely how the LGBT community became so successful in attaining their goals. If women want success, they should limit the variety of content they talk about, and protest one issue at a time.

As someone with a wife, a mother, and a daughter, I want a world where they can flourish. I’m so thankful for Orthodoxy, because we declare every week that Mary, the mother of God is, “More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim.” If anyone wants to know how women should be treated, they need only come to church.

 

Truth, Conspiracy, and the Search for Authority

Truth, Conspiracy, and the Search for Authority

[Note: Forgive my scattered thoughts. I’m writing commentary about something grand, spiritual, and abstract, so if there are things that seem incoherent or open-ended, that’s why. This is going to be less like solving a math equation, and more like painting a picture to get you to experience something I sense within my heart, through shapes and colors.]

The west has been at war with a rebellious individualism and relativism for many years. Fake news, conspiracy mentality, the distrust of media, distrust of vaccines, distrust of science, distrust of experts, nostalgia-based films, TV, and videogames, time travel, Brexit, transgenderism, Anonymous, the rise of divorce, the simultaneous growth of both liturgical forms of Christianity and atheism, the election of Donald Trump… it’s all connected.

“What is truth?”

Western culture at large continues to ignore the spirit of Individualism and its offspring, known as Relativism. Pontius Pilate is famous for coining the phrase, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), and such a question was no doubt a result of being a product of a pluralistic, syncretistic, and relativistic culture. Pilate’s environment was so saturated in individualism that he could not even discern truth when it stared at his face. Such is the case with the western world today:

News organizations now care more about being first than being true.

Citizens now trust an ignorant self more than an educated other.

News that sounds good enough to be true is now the new standard of truth, because it reinforces what we want to believe.

For example, I could fabricate the most absurd and unfounded claim about Hillary Clinton, and there will be people who believe me. Not because it’s true, but because they want it to be true. If Hillary Clinton was ever late for work, a way-too-large portion of conservatives would think it was because she was just having sex with children inside a secret basement of a pizza shop, rather than the more logical reason being, ‘traffic.’

Alex Jones of Infowars literally makes a living by making X-Files statements like, “aliens gave us life-extension technology and the government is hiding it from us.”

People now argue with their doctors because what the doctor said didn’t line up with the quick Google search they fired off before the appointment.

People now think climate change is a conspiracy created by the Chinese.

People now think that gender has nothing to do with anatomical biology.

People now think that getting a vaccine means you automatically get autism.

People now think that to let a Muslim into the country will then cause Sharia Law.

People still think Barack Obama is a Muslim from Kenya.

Rolling down the Mountain

Perhaps the western world has been searching for a trustworthy authority ever since the Protestant Reformation. Perhaps it even goes all the way back to the Great Schism. Perhaps the deep-rooted individualism that spawned the Enlightenment is what got us here.

Humans are deeply spiritual creatures, and what occurs in the heart will effect everything else. Therefore, the happenings of the religious landscape will dictate the course of what happens politically, sociologically, economically, etc.

Over a thousand years ago, the western world began to really struggle with authority and individualism. It began with Rome choosing ‘self’ over the East. An isolated Rome then led to the Protestant Reformation, which was Protestants choosing ‘self’ over the papacy. Protestantism then led to the American Revolution, which was a group of Protestants choosing ‘self’ over an English authority. All throughout this process, the Enlightenment is in full swing. People begin to encourage one another to think for themselves and trust no one. People think individual wealth and the ability to live the American Dream is the definition of success. Is it any wonder why we are where we are today? The western world is built on this worldview. It is the very heart of everything we think we know to be truth.

Rebel Empire

This is why we love films like Star Wars, we love rebels. We love seeing a small group of defiant people take down a large evil empire. We don’t really even want to know any nuance about motive, we just need to be told the Empire is bad, make a snap-judgment of their funny outfits, and we immediately join the Rebels. We join the Rebels simply because of how they look and what others tell us about them. The problem is, ‘rebels’ are only righteous when they are righteously informed.

Our individualism has blinded us. We do not “judge righteous judgment,” (John 7:24) we judge according to appearance. We judge according to headlines, soundbites, and turbans. We invade other countries, kill their leaders, install our puppets, and we spin a story to make it seem like we were had to do it. We support countries like Saudi Arabia, who would publicly decapitate anyone they want in the streets. We are not the good guys, we are the Empire.

The Way Out

Even though we have been fighting against authority for so long, I don’t think it’s necessarily because we inherently hate authority. I think it’s partly because of feeling a sense of betrayal. There are wounds that still have not healed (such as Protestantism remembering how the Catholic Church failed them), and rebellion is the unfortunate consequence. We live in an age of nostalgia and time travel because all of us sense the need to go backwards to a time in the past. There is a great schism, and we all feel it.

We need to heal our souls with repentance, starting with rejecting our obsession with the ‘self.’ If we can’t submit to authority, we become our own truth, and truth is always useless if deemed subjective. Rejecting all authority is not the answer to abuse. If a shepherd abuses his sheep, the sheep should find a new shepherd…not become their own.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this, but I’ve seen some pretty terrible art that makes millions so I don’t feel too bad.

 

On the “Alt-Right” Movement

On the “Alt-Right” Movement

Alt-Wrong

The media has had a lot of coverage on what is being called the Alt-Right movement. As far as I can tell, Alt-Right means “an alternative to being right.” Of course, that’s not their definition. Guys like Richard Spencer (founder of AlternativeRight) would say the movement is about being an alternative to the mainstream conservative Republican establishment. While it is certainly a more extreme, racist, separatist alternative to the mainstream of conservatism, it is also wrong. This is why I believe it is more accurate to say they are an alternative to being right, and an additional way to be wrong.

The Atlantic reported on a recent conference in Washington D.C. which shows Richard Spencer rallying his Neo-Nazis, and reinforcing the hatred of what he calls the “Lügenpresse,” which means “lying press” in German. This is the growing voice in the Republican Party, and it isn’t going anywhere. How are Christians going to respond to this reality? Gone are the days of pretending like the Republican Party is the moral high ground because they oppose abortion. Republicans are now known for opposing non-whites and welcoming fascism, so long as they believe in the ideology of the fascist.

Alt-Gospel

The very heart of the #AlternativeToBeingRight movement is white nationalism. They believe America should stay white because white people from Europe are the ones who founded the country. They somehow believe that other ethnicities are incapable of sharing the same ideology. Perhaps it is because these people even believe that blacks are biologically less intelligent than whites. All of this is nonsense reminiscent of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, who believed that black skin was the curse of Cain (Gen 4:9-15). He also believed himself to be the third person of the tri-theistic Trinity, so such interpretations of the universe is typical of that kind of arrogance. Richard Spencer is the new Joseph Smith, proclaiming a false gospel he unknowingly received from some demon and thought it was angelic.

The true gospel is about a foreign kingdom that allows all people of all ethnicities to share citizenship. It’s about union with those who are not like us, precisely because that is what it means to truly be human. Ethnic exclusivity is less-than human; it is more comparable to fallen animals. Jesus Christ came to destroy walls and tear veils of separation and restore mankind to its human state. The Kingdom of God has no border, and Christians are supposed to show the world the essence of true reality by bringing this heavenly country to the earth by living it out now. The ethnic exclusivity of the Alt-Right movement must be unequivocally condemned, for it is a doctrine of demons that is only useful for an antichrist. Lord have mercy.

May the eyes of these blind men be opened. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen.

 

On Third Party Blame Shifting

On Third Party Blame Shifting

I have seen quite a few articles asking the age old question,

“Did the presence of third party candidates make Trump win?”

Third Party blame shifting is a classic rhetorical sleight-of-hand. It is a glorified “What If?” argument that hides behind the authority of mathematics. “Donald Trump won by (x) amount. If only Gary Johnson or Jill Stein weren’t in the race, then they wouldn’t have made Hillary Clinton lose!” However, not only does this erroneously assume all Johnson and Stein votes would result in Clinton votes, but one could just as easily say Hillary Clinton helped Gary Johnson and Jill Stein lose by being in the race. The argument sounds good on paper, but it doesn’t actually mean anything.

The Clinton campaign is explicitly responsible for helping the Trump campaign win. They completely misjudged the spirit and demographic of the Republican Party in thinking men like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson were outsiders to the majority of Republicans, and thus they intentionally tried to keep them in the spotlight in the hopes that the establishment Republican candidates don’t see the light of day. The Clinton campaign was completely oblivious to how much the average American now hates the establishment, because they live in a Washington bubble where everyone wants Hillary Clinton in the White House. On top of this, they actively worked against Bernie Sanders being their candidate, despite the fact that every poll had him beating Trump in the general election by wide margins. Establishment Democrats didn’t understand that you can’t fight an Anti-Establishment Republican Progressive (Trump) with an Establishment Conservative Democrat (Clinton) if the spirit of the country is one of perpetual revolution against the establishment. Washington is living in an alternate reality where people still like cookie-cutter politicians, and their own blindness became their undoing.

Voting for a Third Party candidate is a vote for democracy. It is a vote for something rather than a fear-vote against something. More and more people are realizing the flaws of the current two-party duopoly (which is really just one “Establishment party” that has two different colors), and it is increasingly more important to get more voices into the debates. Next time, we don’t need a few shades of blue and seventeen different shades of red. We need more colors. Getting a Third Party to 5% is a big deal for the political future of this country, and it’s about time we take it seriously.

 

The Republican Blindspot: Secularism

The Republican Blindspot: Secularism

The Christian Illusion

Many Republicans today are completely blindsided by the growing secularism in America. They don’t know from where it came, but they continue to believe it is completely contrary to the intentions of the founding fathers. “America was built as a Christian nation!” they’ll say, because they may read a couple of instances where some of the founding fathers reference God a few times. However, even if one were to grant the argument that all the founding fathers were Christians, one still could not make the claim that American politics were founded on Christianity. There is a reason why secular ideology continues to grow. It isn’t because people are rebelling against the so-called “Christian” paradigm of the founding, but rather they are the natural result of the original framework.

America was never a “Christian nation,” as many like to say. America was founded as a Post-Enlightenment Protestant-Deist nation. When it comes to the origin of American politics, many Republicans seem to perceive an indirect connection to Christianity as a direct intention to create a country for Christians. This just isn’t true. America was only (indirectly) founded on “Christian values” insofar as those values were held by the founders, not because the founders (intentionally) wanted a country with “Christian values.” This is an important distinction to make, because there is a difference between founding a country on Christianity, and founding a country on the ideals of individuals who happen to agree with portions of Christianity. This must be understood, because the truth is America was never directly founded on Christianity. It was founded on individualism.

Individualism is absolutely the most important concept to understand when it comes to this subject, because individualism is at the very heart of Protestantism. Individualism is what caused the Protestant Reformation. Individualism is what caused the American Revolution. Individualism is the only thing that truly united the founding fathers, not Christianity.

Secular by Design

Herein lies the problem: when one builds a country on individualism, one can’t expect it to be obedient to the status quo, regardless of what that status quo might be. One can’t expect individualism (which is inherently progressive in nature, because it is based upon the “self”) to suddenly start respecting conservatism. During the Protestant Reformation, the Reformers were the progressives, putting the self above the church. During the American Revolution, the Revolutionaries were the progressives, putting the self above monarchy. If this is the reality, how can we be surprised when contemporary progressivism decides that Christianity is no longer relevant to American culture? They are certainly not acting contrary to their “American nature,” because America was never conservative. Progressives become conservative when they get into power and become the majority. However, this is like rolling a snowball down a mountain and then trying to stop it once it gets to the preferred size. American conservatism is designed to get flattened by the people, because we are perpetually a country of progressive revolutionaries who refuse to obey authority.

Protestants may have been the majority population in the past, which caused a “Christian nation” illusion. For example, the Industrial Revolution was sparked by the “Protestant work ethic,” which is seen as “Christian” simply because it was true of the Protestant population. Yet, the Industrial Revolution treated human beings like rusty machines, and it made rich Protestants (like John D. Rockefeller) desire more and more wealth. Greedy capitalism and the Protestant work ethic truly has nothing to do with Christianity, but this is how American culture began to unconsciously mix “Christianity” with “The American Dream” to such an extent that it became difficult to distinguish the two. “Big business” essentially became the Protestant Church of America.

Fast forward a century: welcome to the modern Republican Party and trickle-down economics.

However, now the Protestant population is decreasing every year. The culture is shifting, because for the growing majority of the population, secular individualism is more attractive (and less hypocritical) than religious individualism. I often hear people lament, “Where has the culture gone?” Or Donald Trump’s popular (Reagan rip-off), “Make America Great Again!” However, American culture was, and is, always moving toward different manifestations of individualism, just like Protestantism itself (with more and more denominations based upon individualistic interpretations of the bible). The only people who say those things are the ones who try in vain to stop the snowball. If the blame goes to anyone, blame the founding fathers for rolling it down the mountain.

The Tax Experiment

The Tax Experiment

In the world of politics, there are issues that are always contentious. Taxes is one of them. When a politician starts talking about taxes, the response ranges from those who don’t really mind taxes all the way to those who believe taxes are from the devil and the government is robbing you. Does a middle ground exist? If so, where?

Paycheck and Potato Salad

In my observations of American culture, I find this financial issue interesting (and sometimes humorous) simply because the culture is so polarizing. On the one hand, people are upset about not having all of their paycheck and not knowing what’s being done with their money. On the other hand, people gave $55,492 to a Kickstarter campaign to help make a single bowl of potato salad. America has within it an ironic juxtaposition between spending money on useless things, and hoarding money so we can spend it on useless things. As C.S. Lewis once said (paraphrased),
“It annoys me when people say, ‘Why did you give that man money? He’ll probably just go and spend it on alcohol.’ My reply is, ‘If I kept it, I would have spent it on alcohol.’” -C.S. Lewis
As Judas Iscariot misjudged his own righteousness (John 12:5), we Americans do the same when it comes to taxes. I do not believe taxes are inherently wrong, and I will attempt to make a persuasive argument on how taxes could be used more effectively.

Taxes: The Donation Model

I believe the major problem people have with taxes is not the fact that the government is using their money, rather it is the fact that they have no say in how the government uses their money. Imagine with me a scenario where you get an envelope in the mail or an email from the government. Within the mail you find a multiple choice document where you have multiple check-boxes with listings such as:
  • Public Schools
  • Roads
  • Law Enforcement
  • Military Defense
  • Veterans
  • Charities
  • Contraception
You can check as many boxes as you want, and you list what percent of your taxes go to each checked item. With this much control over how the government uses your tax dollars, do you think there would be as many complaints? Most of the complaints seem to revolve around the government using your money for things with which you disagree. A model like this would not only alleviate that frustration, but it may even cause people to feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that they are making a difference in their country.
I don’t know about you, but if my tax dollars were spent on issues hand-picked by me, I know I wouldn’t care as much about taxes. After all, I would probably just spend the extra money on something stupid anyway.
Hyperbole and the Exception

Hyperbole and the Exception

Caution: May Contain Hyperbole

I’m a fan of hyperbole, but it continues to amaze me how much hyperbole is misinterpreted. Americans simply don’t understand it. We are so “anti-generalization” that we forget hyperbole is a form of rhetoric. I’ve seen people misunderstand hyperbole over the internet, but never on such a grand scale as with this presidential election.
I use Donald Trump because he is an easy example. Trump has a problem opposite the culture. Instead of not using hyperbole like the majority of the culture, he never not uses hyperbole. This is why he became so noticeable the more he opened his mouth: he swam against the cultural current. Aside from his blatant lying and inability to form a coherent policy, is it any wonder why everything he says gets “misunderstood?” The way he talks is set up to fail from the start because nobody wants to hear generalizations; people now need to hear about “the exception” above all else. If one does not frame every sentence as if they were attempting to quote a Pew Research statistic verbatim, then backlash will ensue.
I’m not defending Trump in writing this, because I think his gross misuse of hyperbole further perpetuates the stigma that hyperbole is the enemy, which is something I continually try to fight against. However, his presence in this election also brings this issue to the forefront, and it creates a question for our culture to ask itself:

“What place does hyperbole still have in public discourse?”

Fact Culture

However, exceptions are literally the only thing that separates hyperbole from fact. If a statement does not have exceptions, then it cannot (by definition) be hyperbole. Instead, it is simply fact.
If I were to say, “Italians are the best at making pizza,” that is hyperbole precisely because not all Italians are the best at making pizza. The statement is not meant to convey the idea that “no group of people can make pizza better than the Italians,” rather it is simply pointing to the greatness of Italian pizza, and the enjoyment one gets from it. That’s as far as you go with hyperbole. However, if I were to instead say, “Some Italians are great at making pizza,” then does it not stop being hyperbole?
We live in a culture of “facts and figures.” It’s a culture of Business, Science, Law and Math majors. It’s a culture that has less respect for majors like English, History, Art, Agriculture, Philosophy and Religious Studies. Our Christian culture is not exempt from this reality either, because we have a Christian culture that thinks knowing the exact number of times the word “love” is mentioned in the Bible is just as important as what “love” means. We live in a day where when one person says, “Love is mentioned a thousand times in the Bible to show how much God loves you,” another person will reply, “Actually, it’s three-hundred and eighty times.”
When hyperbole becomes “just the worst,” and we “literally can’t even,” we simply miss the point entirely.
The Conscience of the Voter

The Conscience of the Voter

“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Titus 1:15)

In this Presidential election cycle, I often hear people say things like, “I will act according to my conscience.” While that may sound good and noble, is that really all there is to it? Are we held accountable for nothing more than that? Are all moral decisions automatically justified simply because one didn’t violate their own conscience?
It seems to me, according to scripture and reason, that conscience is something that can be changed. For every man who says, “I can’t, in good conscience, kill this person,” there is another man who says, “I can’t, in good conscience, let this person live.” When one either hardens their heart or lacks all the information, it necessarily takes effect on their conscience.
The Ku Klux Klan lynched African Americans in good conscience. The Nazis killed Jews in good conscience. However, what we should remember most is how the people voting Hitler into power, did so in good conscience. None of these acts are justified simply because conscience was not violated. Why then, do we continue to hear people tell us to follow our conscience? Conscience is only as moral or informed as the person behind it. It seems to me that we need to do better than “act according to our conscience,” we ought to do right.
How does this apply to our immediate context? If you support Donald Trump simply because you “can’t vote for Hillary in good conscience,” ask yourself if you truly put any effort into genuinely hearing the other side of the argument, or if you only surround yourself with Republican echo chambers. If you support Hillary Clinton simply because you “can’t vote for Trump in good conscience,” ask yourself the same thing.
Nobody should be voting on conscience alone, because more often than not, it is just something people say to remain willfully ignorant.
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