So what’s the best paradigm for understanding the Founders’ philosophical underpinnings?

31 Jul

Very helpful essay from Professor George Carey:

There is no dearth of studies on the political thought of the American founding era. Yet there is no consensus on what theories, values, or goals were uppermost in the minds of the founding generation. On the contrary, on a number of critical theoretical issues and concerns, there appears to be an inverse relationship between the scholarly attention devoted to this era and what we can affirm with certainty. What we have are competing “paradigms” and schools of thought, each with different approaches, perspectives, and assumptions. And while it is clear that the Framers believed in limited government as essential to prevent oppression and tyranny, these paradigms point to significant differences among them over what these limitations should be, how they should be enforced, and how they might be maintained.

We can begin our survey with a brief examination of the most prominent of the early and adversely critical accounts of the Founders and their motivations: that of the Progressives. It is best to start here, because limited government was one of their central themes: they were against it. In significant ways, as we will endeavor to show, the progressives also provide the background necessary for understanding the modern paradigms, as well as for the differences between them. Finally, by way of assessing where we are today, we turn to modern conservative thought to see in what ways, if any, our political and social evolution over the decades has “unleashed” government, posing threats to limited government that could not be anticipated by our forebears.

Read the whole thing here

Responding to the book “How Jesus Became God” by Bart Ehrman

29 Jul

Dr. Craig Evans responds to Bart Ehrman’s book “How Jesus Became God.”  Ehrman has argued that the early followers of Jesus originally thought of Jesus as divine but not as God in the sense of being equivalent with the Father or Yahweh of the Old Testament.  There is also an edited volume responding to each argument Ehrman makes called “How God Became Jesus” available here.  Craig Evans, NT scholar, responds in this podcast edition of an Issues Etc interview.

 

 

 

Understanding the legal and cultural context in which religious liberty has been trumped by homosexual rights

28 Jul

Very fair and helpful summary here, as well as suggestions going forward, from a religious liberty legal scholar (John Inazu):

Religious Freedom vs. LGBT Rights? It's More Complicated

A private Christian school holds what it considers a biblical view of marriage. It welcomes all students, but insists that they adhere to certain beliefs and abstain from conduct that violates those beliefs. Few doubt the sincerity of those beliefs. The school’s leaders are seen as strange and offensive to the world, but then again, they know that they will find themselves as aliens and strangers in the world.

This description fits a number of Christian schools confronted today with rapidly changing sexual norms. But the description also would have fit Bob Jones University, a school that barred interracial dating until 2000. And in 1983, that ban cost Bob Jones its tax exemption, in a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Even for a relatively small school of a few thousand students, that meant losing millions of dollars. And the government’s removal of tax-exempt status had a purpose: one Supreme Court justice described it as “elementary economics: when something becomes more expensive, less of it will be purchased.”

The comparison between Bob Jones in 1983 and Christian schools today will strike some as unwarranted. Indeed, there are historical reasons to reject it. The discriminatory practices in Bob Jones were linked to the slavery of African Americans and the Jim Crow South. The 1983 Court decision came within a generation of Brown v. Board of Education, and its legal principles extended to private secondary schools (including “segregationist academies”) that resisted racial integration.

There are also significant theological differences between Bob Jones’s race-based arguments and arguments that underlie today’s sexual conduct restrictions. Those differences are rooted in contested questions about identity, as well as longstanding Christian boundaries for sexual behavior. Gay and lesbian Christians committed to celibacy show that sexual identity and sexual conduct are not always one in the same. But these points are increasingly obscured outside of the church. We see this in the castigation of any opposition to same-sex liberties as bigoted. That kind of language has moved rapidly into mainstream culture. And it is difficult to envision how it would be undone or dialed back.

How should Christians respond to these circumstances? First, we must understand the history from which they emerge. Second, we must understand the legal, social, and political dimensions of the current landscape. Third, and finally, we must recognize that arguments that seem intuitive from within Christian communities will increasingly not make sense to the growing numbers of Americans who are outside the Christian tradition.

Read the rest

The Hookup Culture is the context for campus rape

28 Jul

I have argued in the past that part of the reason why boys show increasing violence towards women is not that boys are taught to be masculine (far from it), its that they are no longer taught to be chivalrous.  The solution to male violence is not to ignore their nature or try to change it (treat them like girls).  A boy is masculine and that masculinity unchanneled and unconstrained is more likely to be used to harm rather than protect women (and others).  In a culture of increasing fatherlessness and in a culture where fatherhood and chivalry are seen as either unimportant or backwards, violent males shouldn’t surprise us.

Related is the hookup culture celebrated in the culture and exhibited on college campuses.  Could this be a contributor to sexual violence towards women? Adelaide Mena and Caitlin La Ruffa makes their case for the affirmative here:

The problem of sexual assault is not new. In the modern college setting, however, the deconstruction of sexual norms, coupled with an “anything goes” mentality, has created a perfect storm for the proliferation of assault.

Tomorrow, we will propose some solutions that aim at the heart of the problem—a culture that reduces sexual activities to the level of recreation—but in order to arrive at a solution, we first need to understand the reality of the problem we face.

The Nightmarish Reality of Sexual Assault

It’s hard to get a grasp on what sort of world can produce such an abusive culture unless you or someone you care for has gone through it. That as many as one in four—or, at the very least, one in ten—young women have experienced sexual assault sounds so nightmarish. Sadly, rampant sexual assault on campus is a reality that thousands will return to this coming September and that many freshmen will encounter for the first time.

Broadly speaking, when we think of rape, one of two narratives comes to mind: the unsuspecting victim surprised in a dark alley, or the two drunk people who both get carried away at a college frat party, with one person waking up and regretting his or her actions.

Neither of these is a very helpful construction for a serious conversation about sexual assault. The first scenario represents a very small portion of sexual assaults on college campuses and is by no means unique to campus life. The latter—which is not actually an example of assault—gives cover to those who would explain away all assault as simply a matter of blurred lines and choices regretted in the light of day.

The truth is that sexual assault on campus is nuanced and complex. Usually, survivors know their assailants, and often alcohol is involved. But that doesn’t mean that assaults are merely regretted hook-ups. They are not. In fact, many victims purposely avoid casual sex. Sexual assault victims include a vast array of people: men and women who may be straight-laced or sexually adventurous, religious or secular, teetotalers or partiers.

Hook-Up Culture Leads to Rape Culture

This doesn’t mean that the hook-up culture is guiltless when it comes to campus sexual assault. Rather, if not for the hook-up culture, “rape culture” could never have acquired its current foothold at our universities.

First, it creates a setting in which it is very easy for people who want to do bad things to do them undetected. When somewhat drunkenly bringing someone back to your dorm is the norm, how are bystanders (in a dark, noisy, crowded space) supposed to distinguish good intentions from bad? How can an onlooker see the difference between a young man genuinely seeking to help his friend get back to her room safely and one pretending to be a good friend, only to take advantage of her once there? One of us had the horrible experience—twice—of being witness to a friend’s assault in the very next room and being powerless to do anything, not because of physical inability, but because by all external appearances what was happening looked just like any other weekend night.

Second, a sexual ethic that centers on the pursuit of pleasure and personal gratification and reduces the significance of a sexual act to that of a scrabble game—mere recreation—teaches that persons are means to an end. We are taught to use each other’s bodies for our mutual satisfaction and to assume that sexual activity does not carry any unintended consequences. But once we get used to heedlessly using one another’s bodies, it is dangerously easy to see using another’s body for our own gratification as unproblematic, even if the other person isn’t doing the same to us. A hook-up culture based on mutual use and lack of consequence can’t help but lead in the direction of unilateral use of another’s body.

Third, the language that we millennials use for discussing sexual boundaries, constraint, and consensual interaction has all but disintegrated. The domination of the hook-up as the preeminent romantic script has repercussions for all young adults—even those who don’t pursue hook-ups themselves. Over and over, we are told that physical encounters can be casual and fun, because they only have the meaning that we ascribe to them. Context is stripped from a range of sexual expression; even commonly used words lose their meaning. A hook-up, for example, can consist of anything from simple kissing, to petting, to penetration, to a range of other activities limited only by the adolescent imagination. What someone might expect in a hook-up or a romantic relationship can vary dramatically from person to person.

This series of vague and variable sexual expectations clashes dangerously with the carte blanche given to young American adults. After all, boys will be boys and girls will go wild. The selfish individualism expected among adolescents and young adults tells us not to take “no”for an answer. Respect for ideas of sexual integrity—the concept that sex might by its nature mean something more than a game—has gone out the window. With it went respect for the very concept of boundaries.

Those with a strict code of sexual ethics have all the more boundaries to be crossed. Their plight is worsened by our culture’s tendency to conflate sexual continence with repression. At its best, we are told that a chaste lifestyle might be possible for the superhuman or abnormally religious, but not for the average college kid. At its worst, this attitude leads to a disdain for sexual boundaries as backwards, misogynistic, and dangerous—or simply stupid and unworthy of respect.

We know two young women with nearly identical stories. These two young women held views on sexuality that were so laughable to their peers that in one case one of them forced himself upon her (and in the other forced her to touch him inappropriately) just to prove a point. In neither case was any regard shown for the repercussions the young women would face in the wake of such a personal violation. When confronted later about the incident, each young man would dismiss the violation and turmoil in the wake of the assault as a consequence of the woman’s “prudish”views about sex, rather than as a result of his knowingly having crossed a person’s most intimate boundaries. And when this was brought to light, in both instances the community rallied around him instead.

Read the rest here

Now, let’s all go celebrate the new 50 Shades of Grey movie!

Repentance that’s too late and the tale of the backslider

27 Jul

Originally posted on thereformedmind:

From JC Ryle:

Matthew 27:

Now when morning had come, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death–and they bound him, and led him away, and delivered him up to Pontius Pilate, the governor. Then Judas, who betrayed him, when he saw that Jesus was condemned, felt remorse, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned in that I betrayed innocent blood.”

But they said, “What is that to us? You see to it.”

He threw down the pieces of silver in the sanctuary, and departed. He went away and hanged himself.

We see, in the end of Judas, that there is such a thing as repentance which is too late. We are told plainly that “Judas was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver…

View original 566 more words

Feminism has left us a legacy; the good we are familiar with; what about the bad?

26 Jul

From Dennis Praeger (original link):

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s feminist magnum opus,The Feminine Mystique, we can have a perspective on feminism that was largely unavailable heretofore.

And that perspective doesn’t make feminism look good. Yes, women have more opportunities to achieve career success; they are now members of most Jewish and Christian clergy; women’s college sports teams are given huge amounts of money; and there are far more women in political positions of power. But the prices paid for these changes — four in particular — have been great, and outweigh the gains for women, let alone for men and for society.

The first was the feminist message to young women to have sex just as men do. There is no reason for them to lead a different sexual life than men, they were told. Just as men can have sex with any woman solely for the sake of physical pleasure, so, too, women ought to enjoy sex with any man just for the fun of it. The notion that the nature of women is to hope for at least the possibility of a long-term commitment from a man they sleep with has been dismissed as sexist nonsense.

As a result, vast numbers of young American women had, and continue to have, what are called “hookups”; and for some of them it is quite possible that no psychological or emotional price has been paid. But the majority of women who are promiscuous do pay prices. One is depression. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently summarized an academic study on the subject: “A young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.”

Long before this study, I had learned from women callers to my radio show (an hour each week — the “Male-Female Hour” — is devoted to very honest discussion of sexual and other man-woman issues) that not only did female promiscuity coincide with depression, it also often had lasting effects on women’s ability to enjoy sex. Many married women told me that in order to have a normal sexual relationship with their husband, they had to work through the negative aftereffects of early promiscuity — not trusting men, feeling used, seeing sex as unrelated to love, and disdaining their husband’s sexual overtures. And many said they still couldn’t have a normal sex life with their husband.

The second awful legacy of feminism has been the belief among women that they could and should postpone marriage until they developed their careers. Only then should they seriously consider looking for a husband. Thus, the decade or more during which women have the best chance to attract men is spent being preoccupied with developing a career. Again, I cite woman callers to my radio show over the past 20 years who have sadly looked back at what they now, at age 40, regard as 20 wasted years. Sure, these frequently bright and talented women have a fine career. But most women are not programmed to prefer a great career to a great man and a family. They feel they were sold a bill of goods at college and by the media. And they were. It turns out that most women without a man do worse in life than fish without bicycles.

The third sad feminist legacy is that so many women — and men — have bought the notion that women should work outside the home that for the first time in American history, and perhaps world history, vast numbers of children are not primarily raised by their mothers or even by an extended family member. Instead they are raised for a significant part of their childhood by nannies and by workers at daycare centers. Whatever feminists may say about their only advocating choices, everyone knows the truth: Feminism regards work outside the home as more elevating, honorable, and personally productive than full-time mothering and making a home.

And the fourth awful legacy of feminism has been the demasculinization of men. For all of higher civilization’s recorded history, becoming a man was defined overwhelmingly as taking responsibility for a family. That notion — indeed the notion of masculinity itself — is regarded by feminism as the worst of sins: patriarchy.

Men need a role, or they become, as the title of George Gilder’s classic book on single men describes them: Naked Nomads. In little more than a generation, feminism has obliterated roles. If you wonder why so many men choose not to get married, the answer lies in large part in the contemporary devaluation of the husband and of the father — of men as men, in other words. Most men want to be honored in some way — as a husband, a father, a provider, as an accomplished something; they don’t want merely to be “equal partners” with a wife.

In sum, thanks to feminism, very many women slept with too many men for their own happiness; postponed marriage too long to find the right man to marry; are having hired hands do much of the raising of their children; and find they are dating boy-men because manly men are so rare.

Feminism exemplifies the truth of the saying, “Be careful what you wish for — you may get it.”

— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio-talk-show host and columnist. He can be contacted through his website, http://www.dennisprager.com.

On the life and spiritual virtues of boredom

22 Jul

From Geoff Thomas:

We no longer expect children to endure boredom for a second. In our infancy we bounced balls, fed the rabbits, made a model with Mechano and watched the ascent and descent of a yo-yo. We also read books. Our meals were pretty predictable, and a visit to the local park was an event. Today visits to the zoo, bouncy castles, jumping on a trampoline are routine necessities. Daily playgroups and day-nurseries fill every vacant minute with watching videos, learning how to play with computers and bouncing on the soft-play. Everything is wound up to a pitch of noisy razzmatazz. The toys children play with are made of garish plastic of primary colours. The child who would cheerfully have eaten mashed potatoes and vegetables every day is now encouraged to stimulate its palate and develop a taste for chillies, aubergines, vindaloo curry or garlic.

A.N. Wilson has written, “Pascal said that all human trouble stemmed from our inability to sit quietly in one room. If he was right, then we have serious trouble ahead, with an extraordinarily restless, vacuous generation of human individuals waiting to take over the world.

Full article (good one here)

%d bloggers like this: