Review of The Warlord by Malcolm Bosse

I just finished reading one of the best books I have ever read. I never heard of it before. It is called The Warlord by Malcolm Bosse. I picked it up from somewhere (my Father-In-Law I think, who passed away quite a few years ago). I have been holding onto it for all this time because I always had something else to read. I finally got tired of all my other books and decided to read The Warlord.

WarlordThe Warlord is a sweeping story that takes place in China in 1927, which was during what is known as the Warlord Period. The protagonist is a Chinese warlord named Tang, who is devoted to Chinese tradition, particularly Confucianism. His worldview is being challenged from all sides by Bolshevism, Nationalism, Democracy, and foreigners who are affecting his life in spite of himself.

The book is multi-dimensional. It is a history book that thoroughly teaches about both the Chinese Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, even including some historical characters in the story. The book also compares and contrasts Chinese religions and religious traditions, such as Buddhism and Confucianism with different forms of Christianity. It also successfully portrays differences in the cultures of different nationalities, from Chinese, to German, to Russian, to American. The character development is extraordinary. The main characters are diverse, yet all believable; those that are likeable are also seriously flawed. The book has adventure, romance, war, cutting edge social commentary, and philosophy to boot. There is a gritty realism that makes this a book for adults only, but the adult content is not gratuitous, it is essential to the story.

Malcolm Bosse, I believe, was trying to tell us something about China. We often think of China as a closed society historically, but this book shows us that foreigners were always present trying to influence events. The portrayal of daily life is vivid and frank. Life has always been hard for the majority of Chinese peasants and laborers, who seem to be always on the brink of starvation or worse. It’s as if without maximum effort, mere survival would not be possible. With that said, the sense of tradition is stronger in China than almost anywhere else in the world. I think the author is telling us that outside forces can’t change China, though change in China is inevitable. Of course, I just said it here much more plainly than it was ever said in the book. Subtlety is another distinct characteristic of Chinese culture that the book reflects throughout.

I mentioned before that the character development is superb. The only fictional author I have encountered that does character development this well is Stephen King. There is a Czarist Russian woman that experienced the war between the Reds and the Whites. These horrific experiences have forced her to make many immoral decisions out of necessity that she struggles with continuously. There is an American missionary whose strict Protestant upbringing is challenged and changed forever by China. Tang, the likable main character, is a conservative militarist whose calling was to be a scholar, but whose fate was changed by his family history. His struggle to hold on to his traditional beliefs in the midst of turbulent forces of change is one of the main themes throughout the book.

Another thing I found interesting was how the book treated Communism, which was a relatively new idea that was just being put into practice at the time the story takes place. Bosse was very astute in his portrayal of the reasons and circumstances that may have led to the adherence to Communism by much of Asia in the last century. He also makes arguments against it, but not by openly criticizing it. His portrayal of the Communist characters and their motivations and attitudes says more about what drives Communism than any description of the political philosophy ever could.

As I said at the top of the post, The Warlord is one of the best books I have ever read. I highly recommend it. I learned a lot about Chinese culture and its potential to dominate us. However, do not take this book lightly. It is a substantial undertaking and will challenge you intellectually, but it will satisfy in the end.

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The Brain

As human scientific knowledge continues to advance, we are gaining knowledge of the human body that we could not have imagined only a few years ago. Consider the advances in pharmaceuticals. Many conditions that had to be treated with invasive surgical procedures in years past can now be treated with drugs. While I do acknowledge that there is a certain aspect of our dependence on drugs that is disturbing, in the majority of cases, pharmaceuticals have improved the quality and duration of human life.

One area where our knowledge is still limited is the study of the human brain. Certainly our knowledge of this subject has improved over time, but the main body of our knowledge continues to be an understanding of what part of the brain controls what human activities. This knowledge is not known to us in very much detail and there is very little scientific evidence about HOW the brain actually does what it does. The most basic function of the brain, self-consciousness, remains a mystery to us.

brain

From a philosophical standpoint it can be asked whether the brain is complex enough to understand itself. Put another way, the brain must be simple enough to be understood, but complex enough to understand itself. This line of thinking can easily lead us into a paradox.

When consulting the Bible there is little about the human brain. In Job 38:36 God claims credit for putting wisdom and understanding in our mind. This is consistent with other passages, such as Exodus 36:2 and 1Kings 3:12, where God places understanding into the mind of a man. Other than these few examples, the Bible is more focused on the depravity and changeability of the human mind, along with a need to transform the mind to become a spiritual person.

People can’t seem to understand the human brain, but God does. In fact, he has intentionally placed limits on human knowledge in order to create mystery and doubt where human beings want certainty. The very existence of God is one such example. If God is all powerful, isn’t he able to show himself to exist without a shadow of a doubt? Yet in our world there are examples all around us of the existence of God without the presence of that undeniable proof that will stand up in a court of law. Rest assured that God has done this by design. He shows us the way to Himself through creation and through the lives and works of other people. However, He requires our faith to make the final connection to Him. Why? Because God does not primarily want our minds, which are unloving and easily changed with circumstances. He wants our hearts, which are capable of love for Him, fellowship with Him, and loyalty to Him.

God has withheld from us certain wisdom and understanding so we are required to live by faith in this world. Because of God’s goodness towards us and His desire for fellowship with us in eternity, I have to believe that upon our arrival in heaven we will be gifted with a more complete understanding of everything. God will fill in the gaps with knowledge that were spanned before with faith. Keep in mind that at this point I will not be interested in knowledge about quantum physics, (which I may get anyway), but knowledge about life and existence. My mind today can comprehend the idea of infinity, but my mind in heaven will be able to have a complete understanding.

This supposition is certainly an extrapolation outside the limits of scripture and could be disputed by any number of arguments. However, I take comfort in contemplating these possibilities as a way to take a break from the difficulties of this life.  The gift of knowledge could be one more of a plethora of comforts that my next life in heaven could provide, thanks to God.

 

 

 

My Testimony

I was recently given the opportunity to share my testimony to a group of men at our church. I am posting the outline of the discussion here.

I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to hear my testimony. My conversion is not a dramatic story with a tearful ending. I was not an addict. I did not beat my wife. I was just a dude trying to find satisfaction in something – anything.

I was saved during a creation seminar. I have always had an interest in how things work and how they came to be. I was also an engineer devoted to logic and science, and convinced that in order to be a Christian you had to give up on reason. This is not an uncommon view. The seminar fascinated me because of how it obliterated the conventional wisdom that separates science and Christianity. I watched some of Kent Hovind’s videos to delve more deeply into the subject, and became quite embittered at the public school education that seemed to intentionally mislead me when it came to the fallacy of evolutionary theory.

For those who have been to the Creation Museum in Cincinnati, they do a great job presenting possible scenarios that show that the Biblical account of the creation of the world can be believed. However, I would have to say that the exhibit that had the biggest impact on me was the first one that dealt with how our world view shapes how we process information. For those who have not been there, the exhibit explained how when a fact is discovered, how that fact is used depends almost exclusively upon one’s world view.

Consider the Grand Canyon as an example. Someone who believes in evolution will explain how the soil and rock was laid down over millions of years. The over the next few million years the Colorado River cut the canyon out of the rock. I recently watched a show by a new earth creationist that explained that the Grand Canyon had to be created over weeks or months and not over millions of years. These people came to completely different conclusions while evaluating the same evidence.

We Christians know that the Bible is true. We also can’t deny facts that have been scientifically proven. We have to be careful not to deny a fact because it contradicts the interpretation of Biblical events that we are familiar with. Instead we must try to understand how to interpret scripture in the context of known scientific facts.

Young earth creationists are looked down upon in the scientific community. If you don’t believe me search young earth creationist on Wikipedia and see the results for yourself. Certainly some of this may be due to a natural hostility towards Christianity, but some may be due to how young earth arguments are presented. I think it is important to acknowledge both science and the Bible are true, and sometimes we don’t understand how they work together because we were not present during the events described. Creation is a powerful argument for the existence and character of God, but as Christians we should point to the greatest examples of this, such as the complexity of the human eye or a single cell organism and let God do the talking from there.

Though it played a part in my salvation, my intention here is not to discuss creationism. That discussion can go on interminably. Creationism was not even the main reason I answered Jesus’ call.

While my story does not involve addiction, I was a slave to pleasures and was completely self-serving. I didn’t do anything if I did not perceive a personal gain or pleasure. I was a textbook example of someone that would do the right thing for the wrong reason. For instance, I gave to charities because I wanted to be seen giving to charities, not because I cared about any of the people who needed my help.

America offers a rich canvas for those who want to pursue personal gain. The elevation of career as a false god is something that Americans have turned into an art form and exported throughout the world. I was a willing participant in this religion for many years before I realized the emptiness of materialism. Ecclesiastes was my first favorite book of the Bible because it hit home for me when Solomon bemoaned the futility of finding happiness apart from God. What is great about the Bible is that it is not only true when it comes to history and prophecy, it is also true when it comes to basic truths of existence, like the vanity of materialism and living in the world.

God used this crossroad in my life to orchestrate my salvation. My wife was saved before me. I am very thankful for the pastor at the Baptist church in Plymouth, Wisconsin. He came to my home at my wife’s instigation. It was a hostile environment for him. But he persisted and shared the gospel. It took 3 months at war with God before I finally admitted defeat and accepted Christ.

If my testimony ended at salvation, this would be a very short story. Our conversion is only chapter one of our testimony. What we let God do with our life after that is the rest of the story.

After salvation the emptiness that I had felt subsided. Unfortunately, my pursuit of my career had become a habit. Intellectually I realized that God wasn’t all that interested in my wealth or my career goals. God requires us to give our lives to him. Some men more obedient than I am give their all to God by entering the ministry or the mission field. Men like me are forced by God to give their lives one piece at a time. First alcohol, then rock music, etc. Eventually, God asked for my career, or, more accurately, the love of my career. In 2012 I experienced room spins at work during a particularly stressful period and in 2014 I was downsized. God had his way. Again.

The thing with us men is we need to have a purpose to our lives. God put Adam to work in the garden for a reason. Genesis 2:15 says

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

Subsequently, verse 19-20 describes Adam naming the animals in the Garden.

We are made in the image of Adam. We have the need to occupy ourselves and have a purpose. In this period before the fall, Adam’s perfect relationship with God allowed him to dedicate his life to bringing glory to God. After the fall, God punished Adam with a curse (see Genesis 3:17-19):

cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread

This curse provides us the pretense to fulfill our need of purpose without glorifying God. We occupy ourselves with fighting against creation to support ourselves and our families. However, as believers we are called to trust Him for our sustenance, like the lilies of the field in Luke 12:27: “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.“

God wants us to trust Him for our basic needs because He is calling us to think bigger than just supporting our families. The apostles were men with severe flaws, but they took their faith in Christ and changed the world. In Acts 4 as an example, the disciples are brought before the Council and told to stop preaching Jesus Christ. In response, they preached the gospel to the council. When they were told to leave and stop telling people about Jesus, they left and continued preaching Jesus Christ. The disciples had a faith that allowed them to act with a boldness, even when their lives were in the balance.

Of course, the apostles had the advantage of walking with Jesus during his life on earth and witnessed his resurrection. Things were easier then because the world was much simpler. We can’t possibly be expected to do what they did in our day and age. Right?

This may sound harsh, but low expectations of this kind are commonplace in the American church today. How did this happen? In Numbers 13 the story is told of the spies sent to Canaan to bring a report back to the Hebrews. It is a story we know well that ends with the generation of the Exodus, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, being condemned by God to live out their days in the wilderness. We look at this story as a lesson about faith and living in God’s strength (not our own), which it is. I have to ask though, what made the following generation better or more inclined to be obedient to God when it came to taking the promised land? Maybe the older generation’s experience with a slavery ethic/lifestyle/culture did not allow them to be bold in taking the promised land. Even the great miracles of God they witnessed were “dependence” miracles – deliverance from bondage through the plagues, parting of the Red Sea, manna. What was needed to take the promised land was a boldness to trust God as a General instead of a provider. Being raised in the wilderness and not in bondage may have given the next generation the boldness required to grasp the promises of God.

Perhaps our generation has faced a similar dilemma to the Exodus generation. Perhaps our culture of leisure and prosperity has not prepared us to be active defenders against attacks on Christianity and morality which seem to intensify every week. Perhaps we are doomed to our fate and need to rely on the coming generation, which doesn’t remember the Reagan or Clinton years, to turn the tide and lead the next great revival.

I prefer not to embrace such a passive and defeatist attitude. In his book Kingdom Man, Tony Evans has a whole chapter devoted to Joshua 1. Verse 3 says: “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you…”

Whatever you are doing with your life, if God has called you to do it, he has already given you victory and success if you will only have the boldness to place the sole of your foot there.

I have lived my life differently since I lost my job. I try not to waste my time and treasure on enterprises that are not part of God’s plan for me. That has caused me to move my family half way across the country. It has caused me to continue working in a job I don’t enjoy. It has caused me to lead and participate in ministries I never would have considered doing on my own in the past. Like teaching Sunday School, visiting shut-ins, and sharing my testimony in front of a men’s group. I have even attempted to start a discussion group for Christian men through a blog.

Romans 8:31 says “if God is for us, who can be against us?” Another pithy saying I like says “The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God will not protect you.” When God keeps his promises to us because we are obedient to Him you can feel God sharing His glory with you. Did you ever have a bad day at work and then have an opportunity to share the gospel with someone? You forget about all the troubles because being willing to serve God faithfully is its own reward.

In summary My experience during the first 12 years of following Jesus has had high points, but much of it was spent fighting God over things from that old life that He knows I am better off without. Yet, there is still the possibility of a remarkable ending, because when we realize how far God can be trusted, and we are willing to do so, He will use us in ways we can’t imagine. That will be the rest of the story.

The Continued Denial of Human Nature

Recently we have been barraged by seemingly endless accusations of sexual misconduct among public personalities. These stories are usually accompanied by shock and outrage even though most of the accused persons had a reputation for the behavior they have proven to exhibit.

Personally, I am not surprised by any of this. The Bible is very clear about the fact that people are sinners. In fact, the Bible warns against sexual immorality more than 15 times, mostly in the New Testament. God repeats these warnings because he knows the nature of man and our predisposition towards this kind of activity. At the same time our culture has become more and more permissive when you consider how people dress and what is on television (even commercials!). There is so much temptation, human weakness can’t withstand this assault.

However, the world looks at things from a different point of view. Most people say that humans are generally good, not evil. Consequently, they are surprised when permissiveness results in bad acts.

The solution that leftists chose to solve this problemm was to socially engineer distinct maleness out of American culture.

We have seen the women’s rights movement, accompanied by the sexual revolution. Subsequently, supposedly scientific studies attempt to minimize the differences between men and women. Here is an example of one from the Americam Psychological Association (http://www.apa.org/research/action/difference.aspx):

Mars-Venus sex differences appear to be as mythical as the Man in the Moon. A 2005 analysis of 46 meta-analyses that were conducted during the last two decades of the 20th century underscores that men and women are basically alike in terms of personality, cognitive ability and leadership. Psychologist Janet Shibley Hyde, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, discovered that males and females from childhood to adulthood are more alike than different on most psychological variables, resulting in what she calls a gender similarities hypothesis. Using meta-analytical techniques that revolutionized the study of gender differences starting in the 1980s, she analyzed how prior research assessed the impact of gender on many psychological traits and abilities, including cognitive abilities, verbal and nonverbal communication, aggression, leadership, self-esteem, moral reasoning and motor behaviors.

At the same time, traditionally male characteristics in mainstream culture are mocked and ridiculed. Watch any commercial or TV show that portrays a dad, and you will witness adolescent, moronic, out of touch behavior. To test this, imagine the role of the father and mother, such as Homer and Marge Simpson, switched in these situations and ask yourself if it would be a sexist representation of a woman.

Certain behaviors that were once frowned upon in men, such as crying, oversensitivity, and talking about feelings are glorified in our culture. In the 90’s the politically correct culture took off, which forced men to bury some of their natural behaviors when interacting on a daily basis.

With all these social changes being implemented, the intention was that “bad” male behavior would be eradicated. Unfortunately, the heart of man did not change. At the same time, our culture has become more and more permissive. The negative behaviors being discouraged were in fact occurring with greater frequency, but being driven underground. Now we have a revelation that $50M of taxpayer money has been used to cover up sexual scandals among Congressmen.

These episodes of sexual deviancy expose once again the fatal flaw of leftist philosophy. Time and again they spend capital on engineering human behavior and every time it is proven that human nature can’t be denied or changed. If we examine history we find that people crave liberty and consistently act in their own economic best interest. Efforts by centralized economies and governments to control behavior have been futile. The last two centuries are littered with Socialist/Communist regimes that prove that “the human heart is desperately wicked.”

Hard Truths About the State of the American Church

1 Peter chapter 4 talks about a number of difficult topics. He talks about God chastising us as we would chastise our children. It talks about the church being persecuted by the world. This passage culminates with verse 17, which says “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.”

These are placed here together by Peter because they are very much connected. If we look at this passage in a modern American context, the Church has sinned by failing to resists attacks against the Bible, the Church, and many other institutions that were established to allow us to be governed in a way that acknowledged the Creator as the source of our liberty and sustenance. Our failure has resulted in the need for God to chastise us. He is choosing to do this by raising up worldly men, like the rainbow jihad, to persecute the church. In this way he is judging the Church, but those persecutors better beware – verse 17 ends with a warning to those who are Gods instruments of chastisement.

The end of the story is almost exactly parallel to the story of the Babylonians in the judgment of Judah. Babylon was the instrument that was used to chastise Judah, but ultimately Babylon was destroyed as a punishment for their role in sinning against God’s chosen people.

Is there anything the Church can do to avoid being judged by God for the spiritual decline of America? Or is it already too late? Perhaps it is time for the Church to recommit to its own purification. Jesus told a parable about the wheat and the tares. He spoke of how the tares (non-believers in the Church) were coexisting with the wheat (true believers). Ultimately, the Lord will complete the work of the Church by throwing the tares on the fire at the time of harvest. However, the Church has a role in addressing the tares here on earth.

Church discipline is a tool that Jesus gave us to address those who make a profession of faith and join the body of Christ, but whose works are not consistent with someone who has given their life to Jesus. The Bible is clear (see Matthew 18:15-20) about the process and the purpose of church discipline. However, it is rare to see it practiced in the Church today. Within its own ranks the Church seems to have unwittingly adopted the permissive and tolerant ways that it has been quick to criticize in the world. We are afraid to offend a fellow church member, even if our actions are for his eternal benefit. We do not offer any deterrent for a brother not to stray from the narrow path, other than the natural God given consequences of his actions.

This lack of discernment has severely compromised the purity of the Church and made it difficult for the Church to set itself apart from worldly institutions. This lack of purity causes the world to ignore the Church when it rightly speaks out on moral issues on the basis that the Church is hypocritical. If we are to win back American culture, moral lines need to be drawn quickly and the Church needs to regain its credibility by staying true to those lines and making itself pure.

George Washington: Our Best Role Model

I have recently completed a highly acclaimed biography of George Washington called The Real George Washington.  My expectation when I began this biography was that the admiration that I had for Washington would be tarnished by the inevitable human imperfections that plague us all. The worshipful admiration I had as a school boy would make way for a grownup up respect laced with cynicism.

I am glad to tell the world that a deeper study of Washington only makes his character seem more ascendent than before and my admiration of him even more profound. Here we truly do have one of the greatest men that ever lived, not because he achieved a list of accomplishments that the world expects of great men, but because he had principles.  Not only did he have principles, but he lived them out. Not only did he live out his principles, but he did so with a knowledge of his own imperfections.

To the highly educated man of the 18th century, Washington’s education was unimpressive. Thomas Jefferson wrote “…his education was merely reading, writing and common arithmetic, to which he added surveying at a later day.” Washington himself was embarrassed by his lack of education. Additionally, Jefferson commented on Washington’s shortage of “invention or imagination” as well as inability to speak effectively in public situations.

How did a man of such evidently little political talent achieve the pinnacle of achievement? The answer is a word commonly used in our contemporary cultural language – VISION. In the same eulogy quoted above, Jefferson describes Washington’s mind as “great and powerful, without being of the very first order..” and “sure in its conclusion.” Patrick Henry marveled as his “solid judgment” and, most telling, James Madison once wrote that his mind was “capable of grand views.”  When taking these descriptions together, we get a picture of a man who was very capable of leading, but always as an arbiter of the ideas of other men.

george

This leadership ability was reflected in the fact that George Washington was usually one of the first men to take a bold position. For instance, like most colonists, he entered the conflict with England in hopes of achieving an understanding with the British government that would allow the colonies to continue as subjects of the king. It did not take him long to determine that this outcome was not practical due to the remoteness of the colonies to London and the patronizing attitude of the British government. Therefore, Washington became one of the first men to champion a permanent break with England.

Throughout his career a theme repeated itself. He was never the most intelligent, most philosophical, or most educated man in a debate. However, he had an amazing ability to see the benefits that an independent republic would have on the rights of man. He may not have been a writer of great works that showed new ways of thinking, but he could envision the practical results of applying innovative concepts correctly better than any man who ever called himself an American.

The part of Washington that is perhaps the most unconventional is his character, which most men who encountered him called nearly perfect. Of course, he was not perfect. He was known to get angry at times. However, over the course of a lifetime he is described as having benevolence, dignity, generosity, honor, modesty, optimism, patience, perseverance, self-discipline, etc. In addition, he would always ask the advice of other men and after much deliberation would make his best decision. Once decided, he would tenaciously pursue excellence and overcome all obstacles as he executed his policy.

Washington was believed to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  It was well known that he spent much time in prayer and his impeccable character are the mark of a man who was striving to emulate his savior.  The Bible clearly teaches that we can identify Christians by the fruit that they produce.  Even if George Washington wasn’t a true believer, a man could not have a better example of Christian behavior in a secular setting than George Washington. I have certainly been inspired to emulate him.

Is The Constitution a Dead Letter?

I have an embarrassing confession to make.  I am tired of public discourse about the Constitution. Coming from a Christian conservative, this may be considered a shocking statement.  Because of that I want to clarify that I still consider the Constitution of the United States the greatest political document ever written by men.  The problem with our contemporary discussions is that they ignore reality and treat the Constitution as if it is still an effective document that is used to govern the United States.  It is time to have an honest discussion about the true state of this revered document.

The Constitution has been under attack since it was ratified.  In the first years of the republic the Republicans asserted that the Federalists were trying to establish a monarchical government in spite of the Constitution.  The 19th century arguments over slavery caused a constitutional crisis that nearly destroyed the union.  It was this crisis that many assert was the catalyst for the progressive movement in America because states’ rights were subjugated to the higher priority of ending slavery.  Eventually the 17th amendment was passed in 1913, which ended the election of senators by the state legislatures.

The passing of the 17th amendment could be the event that began the landslide that has resulted in the rights of men to be washed down the slippery slope.  Democrats for years have been referencing the Constitution when it is politically expedient for them, only to ignore it when it should be put to practical use. The fact is, most liberals believe what Obama believes about the Constitution. They believe that it limits the ability of the government to be active as a social justice warrior. They insist it must be used as an agent to promote and implement their world view, which is, of course, diametrically opposed to the world view of the men who created the document.

This can be seen in the countless legislative acts that are in direct conflict with the 10th amendment – Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. It can also be seen in Democrat opposition of 2nd amendment rights and attempts to limit political speech with policies like the Fairness Doctrine.

Dissatisfaction of  progressives with the Constitution can also be seen in the evolution of the judiciary over the last 80 years. The fact is that law students today are not taught the Constitution as the basis of American law, but are taught stare decisis, or legal precedent, instead. In other words, what some other lawyer or lawyers have ruled in a recent legal case is more important than what the Constitution states on the same topic. This explains how the unconstitutional legislation referenced above can pass the scrutiny of the courts. The progressives have been using this tactic since FDR’s administration and have accelerated the process in recent years.

They have also taken liberties with the verbiage in the Constitution to justify virtually unlimited expansion of government. For instance, the general welfare clause in Article 1 Section 8 has been used to uphold myriads of progressive legislation, when, in fact, James Madison himself made it clear in his writings that this is not what was intended.

The progressives would not have seen the success that they did if it had not been for an electorate that is illiterate when it comes to the Constitution.

Before Justice Gorsuch was nominated for the Supreme Court, many polls were taken to gauge the public feeling about the kind of person that should be nominated. For instance, a Marist poll published on Jan. 9, 2017 revealed that 80% of Americans want Supreme Court Justices to apply the Constitution as originally written.

However, when George W. Bush proposed partial privatization of Social Security in 2005, the electorate turned against him. Polling data from Gallup showed Americans disapproved of Bush’s handling of Social Security by a 64%-36% margin.

What most Americans obviously don’t understand is that the Social Security program violates the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, which states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This is merely one example of the reality that Americans say they want the Constitution, but they have grown dependent on government programs and oppose their elimination.

What about those who are truly serious about going back to the Constitution? We hear from these folks every election cycle, usually represented by someone like Ron Paul. I appreciate the principles that these people stand for, but I must question the practicality of their idealistic positions. One of the first things we must do is forget about the Constitution as the basic document of our country. Though we should always support the principles put forth in it, our country has departed too far from it to return without an extreme political event. To begin to restore liberty and freedom in a practical way we must embrace many of the tactics and strategies of opponents to human liberty and adapt to an environment that is forever changed from the Constitutional Republic that was established in 1787.  This means implementing tactics that themselves are not defensible via the Constitution, but are defensible when considering our obligation to defend the rights of men.

I must admit I have a hard time letting go of the Constitution. It has been an integral part of my intellectual life. I once had a crazy notion that our laws could be reviewed by an anointed group of originalist judges and the ones that do not adhere to the Constitution could be thrown out. Then I remember that the culture we live in has moved beyond our founding document and to move backwards toward a lost ideal is impossible.

Ben Franklin said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”  A people that can’t identify gender and can’t determine that life begins at conception is no longer a virtuous people.  We must lovingly but aggressively work within culture and politics to reveal the truths that will allow America’s virtue to be restored.  Only then can our Constitution, or another in the same spirit, be established once again.

An Homage to Gunsmoke

It may seem strange to read a new review of a TV series that ran for 20 years and wrapped its last episode over 40 years ago.  Nevertheless, I am offering a critique of the TV show Gunsmoke, which ran from 1956 to 1975.  Perhaps you shouldn’t consider this a review as much as an homage to one of the greatest TV shows ever.

Not only does Gunsmoke allow me to enjoy the long lost western genre, but it is also full of gritty realism (tempered by production limitations of the time), and a morality that was part of the mainstream culture in the 1950’s but that is a breath of fresh air in today’s debauched society.

For those unfamiliar with the show, Matt Dillon is a US Marshall based in Dodge City, Kansas where there are plenty of bad guys to put in jail.  He is supported by Chester, his often irresponsible deputy, and also enjoys the company of Doc Adams and Kitty Russell, who owns a popular local saloon.  Dillon is one of the best around with a gun and faces down bandits, gun smugglers, gunfighters, crooked ranchers, and hosts of others.  On the surface, the show can seem cliché as Dillon’s victims pile up after scenes that are sometimes cheesy.  However, many of the shows deal with real problems resulting from the harshness of life on the plain in a very practical way.  For instance, in one episode a rancher catches a man he thinks is a horse thief and along with another rancher decides to lynch him.  In another, Dillon has to decide how to deal with a buffalo hunter that beats his wife.  While these plots aren’t necessarily original, they certainly depict real problems that existed in the old west.

Not only do I find the show believable, I also find it refreshing to watch men and women in more traditional roles.  The men treat ladies with kindness and chivalry, although sometimes admitting a lack of understanding of their ways.  When action becomes necessary, even the male characters less prolific than Matt Dillon do not shy away from danger.  They face problems head on because first and foremost they are men in a difficult environment and haven’t yet been feminized in the way most modern TV men have.

I also mentioned earlier that I like the morality that is portrayed on the show.  There is no moral relativism here.  Promiscuity is frowned upon.  The Bible is referenced.  You don’t have to feel embarrassed about watching this show with your kids.  Of course, I don’t want to give the impression that this is a reflection of the morality in the old west.  Like any show it represents the values of the time it was made, not the time in which it is portrayed.  These are the values of the 1950’s, not the 1870’s.

The show is not perfect.  It was at its best as a 30 minute show with sometimes trite dialog.  The longer shows tend to be more cliché and campy than the shorter ones that tell a very simple story.  It is difficult to produce 600 episodes of any show and not be repetitive at times.  There are multiple storylines about corrupt ranchers chasing farmers off their land, gunman who want to make a name for themselves, and others.  Matt Dillon is a larger-than-life character.  Sometimes too large.  No other protagonist in television has been shot so many times and lived. In 20 years he never met anyone he couldn’t outdraw or outsmart.  The fact is no matter what the story, you knew before it started Matt Dillon would make the best of the situation.

That is part of the fun as well.  This long-running is just a fun bit of escapism that will at times make you think.  For best results, I recommend the early episodes.

 

Russia and Wiretapping

In America today we are now neck deep in a battle of scandals involving Russian subterfuge and domestic espionage that we will not be able to extricate ourselves from for quite some time. The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is a battle taking place in Washington and not so much elsewhere. To be honest very few of the great unwashed care about this story. Trump supporters are not disturbed by his chumminess with the Russians because it is all part of his dealmaking persona. Liberals don’t care about Obama spying on Trump because anyone who disagrees with or opposes liberals deserves to be spied upon.

As someone who measures morality by the Biblical standard I have something to say about the behavior of both factions in this fight.

First, Trump is demonstrating political incompetence. In this day and age you can be fired from a job for the slightest sortie into the politically incorrect. Therefore, we have all learned to be very guarded about what we say and to whom we say it. I don’t particularly care for this state of affairs, but this was a reality in politics long before it became a reality around the water cooler. For a presidential candidate to be so careless about his associations is simply stupid. Merely having interactions with people in the Russian government creates the appearance of impropriety and allows the Democrat accusations to appear plausible. Mark Cuban tweeted today that Trump made some money in Russia and was merely pressing flesh without realizing the Russians were using him for their own purposes. This scenario has the ring of truth to me, although there is no evidence one way or the other to substantiate it.

Very little needs to be said about the activities of the Obama administration in this sordid affair. If what appears to be true is true – that Susan Rice was searching for Donald Trump and his team in recordings of agents of the Russian regime – it makes Watergate look like a silly misdemeanor. In a republic that was functioning properly, this would likely lead to a series of indictments.

As we all know, you can say a lot about our republic today, but you can’t correctly say it is functioning properly. As a result, I will make a bold prediction right here and right now about what will happen as a result of all these scandals:

NOTHING

First, the Democrats themselves know they have no evidence against Donald Trump as it pertains to the Russians. As much as they would like to be rid of him (as would their Repulican establishment friends), they will have to be happy with staging a gigantic distraction that will prevent Trump from governing with any effectiveness. This strategy has been effective so far and Trump has even assisted to this end.

As far as the Republicans are concerned, I don’t think there is anything that could get them serious about investigating their Democrat buddies short of Mitch McConnell’s murder. In other words, the Republicans lack the political courage to take on their beloved political establishment even if they would be morally right and gain from it politically.

This is yet another way that a legitimate third party could enter the scene and be the voice of sanity among the irretrievably corrupt. Somebody please tell me where to sign up.

How I Wish I Was Wrong…

I have just reread an entry I wrote in my personal journal last November after Trump’s stunning electoral victory.  I regret not having posted it on this blog at the time because it has proven to be prophetic after less than 3 months of the Trump presidency. I can’t take too much credit though, since these circumstances weren’t all that difficult to predict.

Here is an excerpt from that journal entry from November 19, 2016:

I have been surprised at some of the initial reaction to Trump’s victory among conservatives. There seems to be a relief that a Republican won the office and that Republicans control Congress. I am confused by this, since the Republicans have shown a marked paralysis when it comes to leading on any issue except saving themselves from criticism from the left. I think even the cautious optimism many people are urging is unjustified. It requires me to forget everything I have witnessed in politics over the last 20 years.

Additionally I made this prediction about Obamacare:

Trump will not repeal Obamacare. It would be foolish from a practical point of view unless it is packaged with a replacement the next day. All evidence from his past points to the fact that Trump is a Progressive, so I am fairly certain he won’t choose a free market approach on Healthcare.

Where are we today?  There was hope among evangelicals that Trump, who does not appear to have many principles, would be malleable in the hands of good conservative advisors. Unfortunately, his choice of advisors was poor because it was made based on paying back support during the campaign. This is not unusual under normal circumstances, but we must remember this candidate ran as a populist who was going to “drain the swamp.”

To date Trump has been defeated on immigration and healthcare and has done nothing on religious freedom. The defeat on healthcare was a total humiliation. There are several things that went wrong. First, he let the Republican establishment lead him during the legislative process. This group has no incentive to make Trump look good. I also think Trump is a supporter of government run healthcare, so he was unable to see that this bill was disastrous for his base. In any case, he made it clear he didn’t care what passed as long as something passed and he could claim a political victory, as fleeting as it would be.

Everyone by now knows that no bill was passed. Trump and the establishment Republicans blame the Freedom Caucus.  The irony is that Trump is now attacking the very demographic that he relied on to win his election.  The Freedom Caucus is asserting that the Republicans including Trump are selling out the voters and they are right. Regardless of which side you are on, one thing has become obvious. The Republicans in charge of their party have very little in common with the conservatives in their base. They do not share the same value system. The Republican party has bought into the Progressive world view wholeheartedly, which is a large part of what the populist uprising in November was opposed to. Because the Progressive view is diametrically opposed to the views of conservatives, it is obvious there is not room in the party for everyone.

The statement above now seems so obvious to me that I am embarrassed that I didn’t include it in my November analysis.  Before the election, when we all knew Donald Trump was going to lose, the Republican party was tearing itself apart over the nomination of Trump.  For some reason, after he won we all held hands and sang folk songs for three months, deluding ourselves into thinking that the divisions within the Republican party did not exist any more.  We’ve all been rudely awakened from our dreams now.

So what happens next? Many were talking about a third party before the election. These latest events have galvanized some into believing it is a necessity. I only wonder if enough people who can make a difference have the courage to make a stand once they count the cost. Separating from the Republican party will likely be followed by many years in exile for conservatives, but perhaps afterwards they will have a new platform to convey their morally superior ideas to the people without being lost in the noise of intraparty squabbling.  For them it may be the best option, since they will not win a single battle with this president and this congress in power.