Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Of Technocrats and Independent Thought

Big problems require big solutions. Big solutions require a high-level of buy in from the people involved. All this to say that the big problems facing the world today will only be solved by a high level of international solidarity. Given the fragmented nature of our world it will take a world crisis to get everyone in line.
Some of the problems we face are terrorism, economic inequality, environmental issues, and finding renewable/sustainable energy sources. On terrorism, Wahhabist Islam must be put in check, first by the wider Islamic faith, and secondarily by the international community. On economic inequality, we must find a new market structure that addresses the failings of capitalism while avoiding the pitfalls of communism. On environmental issues we must limit pollution without handicapping industry and business and avoiding alarmism. On energy we must move on from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources that will last us long into the future.
A crisis is brewing, and will come, and each of these problems will be addressed- and not entirely satisfactorily. The solution will come to be as result of post-crisis politics as much as necessity.
The intractable human condition of intolerance never changes. Unity and intolerance are not mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact, the highest degrees of intolerance are often found in a state of unity. If you think the level of intolerance in the world today is problematic, just wait until the post-crisis period. Mankind's intolerance will gel into a international consensus commensurate with the ignorant passivity of the majority of the world's population.
Today you compete in a world of ideas. Tomorrow, there will be no competing, only the commission of the crime of independent thought.
On the one hand, many erstwhile "free-thinkers" and "progressives" will be shown for the agenda-driven ideologues they are. They will settle in nicely with the group think.

In response to an anti-global-warming article at American Thinker, "madeline11" writes:
"I find it sad that there are people who still think that we can blow off mountain tops and dry up aquifers and put holes in the ozone layer and yet somehow NOT affect the earth in a negative way. There is absolutely no question among the educated scientific community around the world, and your credentials aren't even mentioned. The earth is warming, has been warming rapidly since the beginning of the 20th century, before which it was on its way to cooling."

My position on global warming is that while human activity can contribute and must be controlled, I reject the multiple-alarm fire panic of many advocates. But note what madeline11 says: "There is absolutely no question among the educated scientific community around the world, and your credentials aren't even mentioned."
This statement tears the mask off of the modern concept of science, and speaks strongly to the issue of authority. I accept the scientific method, per se. But then when confronted, they hide behind credentials and the consensus of other credentialed individuals.
Today's understanding of the term "credentialed" is "authoritative by means of achievement or position." What a contrast to the scientific ideal of "authoritative by virtue of being provable, reproducible, falsifiable, etc." It is this latter commendable principle that threw down the pronouncements of religion and monarchy, ignited the modernist-fundamentalist wars, and resulted in today's apologetic-heavy evangelicalism and creation science.
I do not say that evangelical apologetics and creation science have proven anything- they well may have- but my point here is that they began to engage the secular scientific/free-thinking community on its own principles. In response, we have seen a surge in post-modernism, and a general retreat by the secular scientific community behind their "credentials," "associations," and "journals."
Having come from a very right-wing fundamentalist background, I detest the anti-intellectualism and naivete that so often characterize American conservative Christianity. I have no problem with credentials, associations, and journals. What I have a problem with is when you put an asterisk by the scientific method leading to a footnote requiring these things to play the game.
And so we see the end-game of modernism- the credentialed authority that was vested in God and the church for a millennium has now come to be vested in the scientific community.
If the scientific method has given way to the authoritative pronouncements of credentialed men, I'd rather go back to the old fundamentalism, thank you. You can't step out of your ivory tower just long enough to make your case and then retreat back into it when challenged.

Rarely are things so black and white, however, and I am NOT going back to the "old fundamentalism." I am an individual with my own mind. I choose to take everyone seriously, and give no one undue benefit. People like me will not fare well in the world to come; the concentration of authority will only accelerate as the adaptation of technocracy by proxy increases.

Perhaps full-on technocracy will be the post-crisis solution.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grandpa Ruins Christmas

This was taken last year (2008). He goes on about Santa, wallets, Obama, the Salvation Army...

Grandpa Ruins Christmas - Watch more Funny Videos

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An Adulterous Church

I have lost count of the number of times this year I have been taken aback at the thought of the number of people in my circles who send right-wing chain emails to me. I grow increasingly weary of the loony circus that is hard right-wing conservative Christianity. I grow increasingly afraid as they make matters of state into matters of faith and bring them into the churches.
Conservative Christians should be flatly and completely ashamed at the lies they have perpetrated concerning health care, Obama, Bush, Iraq, abortion, homosexuality, etc. They are continually Machiavellian, justifying the means by the ends, never ceasing to carry water for the "God Ordained Party," and never willing to pass up a falsehood that smears any movement, man, or effort heading in a direction they see as contrary to- AND THIS IS IMPORTANT- their understanding of the Bible.
Conservative Christians should be completely ashamed at the utter FOOLS they have made themselves in regard to science. Instead of humility, reason, and thoughtfulness, they have yet again interwoven themselves with the political right and the rich of this country in an arrogant stance against any meaningful response to global warming, and against any meaningful theological refinement as regards the origin of earth.
That their focus is upon their perception of the issues rather than the issues themselves is made manifest by the smears, lies, and ad hominem that they employ. These fallacious, salacious, and sometimes malicious chain emails epitomize such an approach to the issues. That conservative Christian laymen forward them on is a black mark on the church.
So much could be said but two major issues present themselves in this matter. The first is level to which conservative American Christians have become distrustful of government. Government is God-ordained, and we are to submit ourselves to the power, as well as paying taxes. Biblical government is entrusted with the general welfare of their respective societies, in matters violent, fraudulent, and social. Our willingness to transgress civil laws and regulations should only extend to the clear commands of God's word, and not the philosophy of any denomination, church, or party. Even in such a necessary transgression, we give government the respect it is due. And this extends to the support of its general mission, and a willingness to be regulated and pay taxes and redress grievances in the manner lawfully provided. On the other side, there must also be a willingness to hold government accountable if it transgresses its own law, for the sake of civil order.
The second major issue is the approach to authority that conservative American Christians have today. Independent churches and assemblies rail against denominations, Protestants protest against the magisterium, the country preacher complains about theologians in ivory towers. Each of these have their merits. but what is the real issue? The cult of the individual has infected the church to the point where it has gutted our Christian communities of deference, humility, and ultimately and consequently, love. Instead of recognizing the head for its function in the body, and our own organ for it's function in the body, we have all become soundly assured of our need to be complete bodies in and of ourselves. In this we trend towards a Spiritual state of staleness, pride, insensitivity, and generally the reverse of each and every fruit of the Spirit. Moreover, we defraud ourselves of the rich resources of the body, and of the occasion for thanksgiving to God for entrusting our Christian communities with uniquely gifted individuals. What we often fail to realize, is that a Spiritual gifting carries with it a level of authority in the exercise of that gift. So then we have teachers, administrators, givers, etc., with teachers by virtue of their Spiritual gifting and calling possessing an authority in the church to teach and set sound doctrine that not all have. Nonetheless even in this the pastors of conservative churches refuse to give place to another, defending their own final authority against all comers, often refusing to recognize others with same gifting if they will not fall in line.
If conservative Christians think they are leading lights back to the orderly authority structures of government, home, and church that supposedly existed prior to the counterculture, they are sorely mistaken. For in their whole approach to the issue they have shown themselves to be hypocrites in the very area on which they claim the high ground- authority. For authority and humility are two sides of a coin. That is why he who is servant is greatest of all. It is why Christ banished from His church the Gentile form of authority which admitted no humility.
The lies, smears, and everything else flow out of an authority structure that has given up humility for power- the conservative American church. In time and even now, the corruption of power has given us church after church devoid of the fruits of the Spirit, and consequently devoid of any true witness. Evangelicalism (and its rebellious son, Fundamentalism) as a whole, are being seen by the world for what it is, another regressive power structure standing in the way of human progress.
And with every shout of "liberal" and every less-than-truthful chain email and every ad hominem attack and every hook-up with the GOP/Limbaugh/Tea Party crowd (I see little difference any more) we dig our graves.
And on a civil level the evangelical church is participating the formation of a fascist right-wing which will engulf America one day and then eventually be defeated, fully discredited. And conservative Christianity will no longer be allowed to have a say, at all.

Monday, December 14, 2009

SCSite for Shelly-Cashman Cengage Texbooks

The companion website for the Shelly-Cashman (Cengage) series of textbooks is

It does not come up on a Google search, but this blog post will. Happy studying!