Reality for Dummies

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Much in this world is a mystery – the evidence abounds. We know about gravity, for instance, but we have no real idea what it is – we all have moments of clumsiness that leave us cursing that force that yanks us to the ground, but we haven’t a clue how it works. No one has an inkling what goes on inside a chrysalis. We don’t know how the fly that was just annoying us is different from the fly lying dead at our feet; it still appears to be 100% fly.

But some things we do know and we need to stop pretending that we don’t.

Most importantly we need to acknowledge that God and the laws He created control almost every facet of existence, yet still allow for man to enjoy free will. The breathtakingly elegance of this universe, rich with mind-boggling, intricate detail underscores that fact. Everything operates on a pattern, a pretty tight pattern. If something gets even a little out of whack all hell breaks loose.

We all recognize natural law (with the possible exception of the Darwin Award winners). We know better than to jump off a cliff sans parachute, we know that when we pull a trigger that there will be a speeding bullet and an “equal and opposite reaction.” It even registers with some of us that the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies quite neatly to human organizations as well as to heavenly bodies – what begins as organized and energetic eventually runs down. We can count on entropy.

But other areas of life on this planet are also subject to laws that appear to be just as dependable as the laws of physics. Economic law is one such area. In reality there aren’t differing theories about economic activity; there is law and if we play against that law, we’ll get hurt – evidently a tough concept to grasp.

For instance, the minimum wage flap – most people have at least heard of the law of supply and demand: whatever is both rare and desired will bring a higher price. Those who boast the talent, education, temperament, and experience to run a giant enterprise are rare; those whose sole talent and training is in flipping hamburgers are not rare, are, in fact, a dime a dozen. Therefore, the CEO (whose talents are necessary in order for there to be burgers to flip) is going to be able to demand a huge compensation. He’s in demand and rare, hence a multi-million dollar contract. This is one of those indelible laws; no legislation forcing a price/wage/worth higher or lower than the actual value will fail, has always failed. No tightly controlled economy has ever been prosperous. That’s as sure as the fact that no building has ever floated away. Natural law.

This is not to say that human beings don’t have an intrinsic value; they do. But what each person can bring to the market varies. We can pass all the laws in the world raising the minimum wage, but one of two things will happen, must happen, has always happened: 1. Prices for everything produced using minimum wage workers will go up and fewer people will buy the product, so fewer people will have jobs frying those burgers. 2. Companies will automate; if your skills are so limited that a machine can manage them, the machines will be in demand, but you won’t.

Nor is this about fairness and equality; it’s about an absolute rule. Gold is expensive and valuable because it is beautiful, useful and rare. I’ve always wondered how a medieval philosopher thought he was going to get rich turning lead into gold – once that had been accomplished, then gold would lose its value and no one will care about it.

Another natural law, even more demonstrable than supply and demand, is the law of family. No society on earth exists without family structure.

Look at what has happened to our black urban communities since the father was made irrelevant by Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society policies. Here we are now, nearly a half century later and the ghettos are worse than ever, over 70% of black mothers are single moms, in New York City 69% of black pregnancies end in abortion. High school graduation for blacks is only 69%. Unemployment especially amongst young black males peaked in 2009 at 49%, drug use and incarceration rates are off the charts. Obviously, a society cannot function without strong families headed by strong fathers; it takes no leap of faith to reach that conclusion.

Yet people still contend that family is merely a human construct and can be redefined willy-nilly. I often hear the mantra that “anyone you love is family.” No. I have friends who feel like family, but they aren’t. We graft on new stock when we marry, and new children with slightly different DNA arrive and shake things up, but the continuity, the responsibility, the basic governance of society happens at that molecular level – not in some government office or court room. If human behavior is not kept under control at the personal, familial level, it cannot be controlled, no matter what the laws.

Which brings me to the final law I want to discuss: the law of freedom. Freedom is no more a human construct than family is. Freedom to “become what [we] can become” – to quote Vonnegut’s famous line – is the essential point of our existence. The free will to choose to love God (or not) is our greatest privilege, our most long-lasting decision and we must be free for it to function. It is our piece of the sovereignty of God.

We are here for a purpose; we come to this world equipped to contribute, to earn a living, to think and learn and choose. Anyone who gets in the way of our doing so, especially anyone in government, is standing in the way of the will of God. If political correctness stands in the way of children getting to at least hear God mentioned from time to time, then those children are being robbed of a chance to include Him in their thinking. If we do not allow mental health treatments for homosexuals, we leave them no choice but to remain in a dangerous, unhealthy lifestyle. If we are more concerned about the prosperity of a small fish than we are of the freedom of families to maintain the family farms, we are taking from them the freedom to choose to honor the work of their ancestors and robbing them of the option of earning a living in an honest and productive way.

Freedom is not a commodity that can be bartered for a mess of pottage. It is not a figment of man’s imagination; it is real and it is as necessary as air. The less free a people, the less prosperous are those people, and the more misery they must endure. People cannot live well outside of the divine mandate for freedom.

And it will out, even though it is most unpopular in far away, cosmic circles – unpopular because God designed and instituted it. And it is unpopular with those who want more than their share of the power; if I have the power of my own freedom then that’s power the tyrant doesn’t have – intolerable for him. So we’ll fight on because the need for liberty is paramount, the family is indispensable, and the economy is autonomous and will function according to its laws. These things we can count on, despite the clouded mysteries that murk up the rest of our existence.

 

 

Back to School -- Must We?

                       

It’s that time again -- back-to-school ads fill the TV screen. Football teams sweat through summer practice. Teachers return to their classrooms, hoping against hope to get totally prepared for the year to come. And yet we all know that something is rotten in America’s schools.

America was once a well-educated country – de Tocqueville mentioned that on his tour of the fledgling nation in the early 19th century. He was astounded at how well informed the average man-on-the-street was. He would be horrified today.

The man-on-the-street videos are not only embarrassing and scary, but test scores and graduation rates back up the videos with dismal scores, and many of those who do graduate can’t read or write, can’t compute, can’t speak without using the F-word. Competent, inspiring teachers are vacating the profession at an alarming rate – one can only take the frustration and disrespect for so long.

And it’s not going to get any better if we keep doing what we’ve been doing: dusting off the same old band-aide programs, dressing them up with new names, and hoping against all rationality that this time it will work. It won’t. There are some fundamental reasons for this dead end.

Mainly, education is caught up in a landslide caused by the weakness of its very foundations and hastened by the frantic efforts of a movement so off base, so deeply, fundamentally flawed that it must implode.

Education, from time immemorial has been rooted in religious belief. The most knowledgeable people in any tribe were the priests, the shamans. From the scribes of Israel, the Wise Men of the Gospels, the monks of the Middle Ages, the scientists of the Renaissance, the Ivy League schools at their inception, education and religion were joined at the hip. Up until John Dewey and his “progressive” anti-religion attitudes, educators recognized that connection and nurtured it.

Why does this learning-believing pairing work? Why is it so hard to teach without it? The short answer is that learning is hard work and requires a substantive motivation to accomplish. When human beings acknowledge their Creator, curiosity ensues – Who is this God who made me? Why did He make me? What is my purpose? What is the purpose of the universe? What are the properties of this universe? What is the nature of man and how can we connect with God? What will happen in the future? The important questions, the wondering questions all start with God.

Secular humanism, the main philosophy behind public education since Dewey, teaches that we are each the master of our own fate and that everything is about us, for us, through us. It teaches moral neutrality, so nothing is shocking, nothing is reprehensible, nothing is important, and nothing is interesting. Our school librarian – a lovely lady – used to say that most things weren’t worth learning since everything was going to change anyway. The librarian! It teaches that science knows everything, and only those with the power of science can know anything. And yet, science is always changing its collective mind, and often at the whim of a grant bribe. God, on the other hand, doesn’t change. What we learn about Him will never be useless.

Progressivism, however, promotes the idea that the state is the supreme being; its priests are the bureaucrats and politicians, its disciples the men in white coats.  None of this promotes curiosity; none of it provides purpose or direction. And it relegates education to nothing but job training.

For decades after Dewey the schools limped along still able to pull their students into at least a semblance of learning. The family still stood behind the schools and the family taught its children about God. Those kids could find purpose and interest in that divine knowledge.

But much has changed. The family is crumbling like a stepped-on potato chip. And much of that can be laid at the feet of the leftist, progressive ideology and the government policies that resulted. Prior to Johnson’s Great Society only 7% of black families were missing their fathers; now, 73% of African American families are fatherless. A single mother is hard-pressed to feed her children let alone take them to church and watch over their schooling. The family, as a bulwark against ignorance, feels, especially to teachers, like a lost cause.

So we have a gigantic, expensive, paradoxical institution hanging around the necks of our children. It teaches them that nothing is true, that we mustn’t make any moral judgments, that respecting authority is an antique idea, and that their own self-esteem should be their greatest concern and then we expect the kids to learn. When they don’t, the government, which is now synonymous with the schools, gives them harder tests, which undermine self-esteem and do nothing at all to ramp up curiosity.

The secularist attitude has ruined our schools. But, but, but, sputters the progressive, but we have to have separation of church and state! We have to keep our schools neutral! Really? If you send a kid through 16 years of schooling in which God is never mentioned, except in a derogatory way, you end up with a person who doesn’t see any evidence for, or information about, or guidance from the Creator of us all. That’s not neutral.

But, but, but, says the humanist, we’re a secular society. Really? And how’s that working for you? Any teacher will tell you that the best students, the successful students are, more often than not, from religious families. The troublesome students, either the arrogant pseudo-intellectual kids, or the dropout wannabes, usually are not.

By forcing our schools into this anti-God stance we have destroyed them. If the government (and the bigger the government the worse this is) runs the schools, God (according to 21st century attitudes) must be excluded. If we exclude God from education, we also exclude the impetus for that education, and we remove
much of the philosophical, moral, virtuous, character-building material goes with Him – literature, music, art, history, science – all these disciplines must be heavily censored, rewritten, dumbed down. If we do this, then we are training robots, not enlightening human beings.

If God is excluded from schools then so is any authority to demand good behavior. If several generations receive their education from Godless schools, then fewer and fewer of the population know anything at all about Him or about absolute values, like truth. If couples who don’t know God raise children, they won’t know God, and the family will be unlikely to develop consistent values, let alone values that lead to confident, well-behaved, motivated students.

So, how do we break this chain when the separation-of-church-and-state meme seems carved in stone? We educate our children in the way they should be educated; at home. We set up vouchers to be use at the school of the parents’ choice. We support specialized charter schools and open up school registration so that parents can choose where their kids go to school. If parents can send their kids to a school that teaches what they believe, then the church/state hammer no longer has any weight and some schools will go back to allowing for the reality of God.

Many options are sitting there in the classroom, enthusiastically waving their hands, just waiting to be called on. Enough data already exists to prove that these options work. So, as the kids and their new backpacks march off to school this fall, let’s keep our eyes open, do some research and make a move. It’s up to each of us to fix this.


 

 

Our National Scorecard

Nations rise and fall. The fall is inevitable because people build nations, and, broken human nature always breaks out of whatever society has built to contain it.

Here in America we tried something new. We tried letting each individual build his own cage for his own sin. We assumed he would accomplish this with the assistance of Almighty God, so it seemed doable. We also built a cage for government, knowing that it, also being built of humans with tragic flaws, would need containing.

Only one other nation ever came close to a governmental arrangement that worked – ancient Israel. Instead of the Constitution, Israel had the Mosaic Law in which is contained the Ten Commandments – a list of behaviors that will make or break a nation. These were not, as many think, rules to follow in order to get into heaven, but rules each citizen needed to live by to make the new nation function. When the Hebrews followed those laws, they prospered and they had no need of a king.

In spite of what our president, and leftist college professors claim, America was founded with those same laws in mind, those laws and the clear understanding that a nation of people who followed them willingly would need very little government. This was true of ancient Israel; for nearly 400 years they were kingless.

We in America have been at this for only 239 years and it seems many Americans already want a king. This is frightening at many levels. In less than a hundred years after the 3rd Israeli king – Solomon – there was a civil war that split the country. Only 200 years after that the Northern Kingdom was destroyed by Assyria and after another 200 years the Babylonians decimated Judah.

The Law, it seems, was an experiment of sorts – a way God could demonstrate humanity’s need for salvation. A perfect law given to a brand new perfect nation should have lasted forever, right? Wrong.

Then, roughly 1800 years later another new nation comes on the scene, a new nation with a fresh way to apply those commandments – a way to allow men to follow their biblically informed consciences, their divine gifts. This new nation attempted to head off at the pass the mistakes Israel made; there would be no king, but only if the nation can continue with the Law God had provided over 3,000 years before and chief amongst those laws was the first, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

How are we doing on that one? A quick perusal of the other nine commandments is not real reassuring – we worship another god – our government, and we rely on it;  a third of us depend on it for our very existence. We swear on the name of God without even giving it a thought, without even believing that He exists. We no longer honor our parents. We kill – even our babies and then part them out like they’re stolen cars. We commit adultery and fornication and even honor it in our drama, our “literature,” our music. We steal, cheat and lie, thinking that the end justifies these spurious means. We covet --  hate the successful, and envy the rich. We’re not doing well. It feels, in human terms, like we’re about to lose the game. Let’s take score:

Iran is out to kill us and we just arranged a treaty that allows them to do that. ISIS is also after us. Ditto the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the Palestinians..  Just this week another jihadi stormed through Chattanooga killing 5 military men and no official will say that act is connected to militant Islam. We can’t even name our enemies, let alone confront them. Add to that the Genesis 12 promise to Abraham “I will bless those that bless you and curse those that curse you” and the fact that it has been carried out over and over for the last 4500 years. And we have a president that has kicked Israel in the shins for the last 5 and half years. This whole mess earns us a -500 points.

We are trying to operate a democratic nation filled with two generations that have been badly educated by parents, schools and churches. Relatively few people in this country are biblically literate. Very few know anything accurate about the past, rendering them incapable of thinking intelligently about the future. And way too many of us had to raise ourselves, and neither know nor care how a decent person should behave. Another -500 points.

Connected to the latter is the condition we’re in morally. Even the Supreme Court plays fast and loose with age-old moral prohibitions, mandating gay marriage (a 1st class oxymoron). The acceptance of the inherently promiscuous homosexuality removes all other sexual mores and without those there is no family and without family, no society. The willingness of mothers to sacrifice their children to the god of sex is not much different from the ancient phallic cult practices. We’ve lost nearly 60 million babies this way since we okayed abortion in 1973.  That alone has to be worth another -500 points.

How are we doing financially? Our national debt equals our gross national product. Over a third of the population is out of work, 49 million on food stamps, even more people underemployed, and the Fed has been manipulating the stock market by filling it full of phony dollars. No one in Congress seems particularly interested in stopping the bleeding and the executive branch keeps poking new holes. Another -500.

This is to say nothing about the Constitution being in tatters, the military and police being under constant attack, and Christians becoming targets of lawsuits and general vilification, not to mention the other divisions in this country – poor vs. rich, black vs. white, left vs. right. Our president never stops stirring up divisive crises, nor will he even consider closing our borders. We have borders?  Who knew?  Another -500 on the chart.

So, are we dead? No. Not yet. We have a lot going for us. The Constitution still exists; it just needs dusting off. The Israelites at one point had annual public readings of the Law; maybe we should do that with the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. +500. We still have Bibles and most of us can read them, if we will. +500.

We could disband many of the federal agencies and the millions of regulations those agencies have used to tangle business and stifle the economy, and all sorts of amazing things would happen. Business would thrive, people would have jobs, get off welfare, pay taxes with which we would pay off the debt. +500

This would inspire the astounding ability of Americans to produce more and more innovations, which would bring in even more profit and therefore taxes. And, thanks to fracking, we have enough energy to accomplish anything we want to do. +500

How do we solve the education problem? We get government out of the school business and we get rid of the unions. If we open up school choice, educational problems will solve themselves through innovation and competition. Science is helping now, too. More and more, science is discovering the validity of the biblical worldview. Science no longer playing for the other side. +500

We finally have methods of spreading truth – now, when truth is being badly maligned, we can fight back. Radio and television have proved their ability to disseminate valid information. We can all take part via the Internet. Christians are even making inroads on Hollywood turf.  We wouldn’t be under attack if we weren’t making a difference. +500.

But what about our moral morass and our divisiveness? What about our families? What about our lame churches? That goes to the heart of it all. “Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.” Jeremiah (26:13) said this to the Israelites 39 years before the Babylonians descended upon Jerusalem and hauled the Jews back to Babylon. During part of this time Judah was under the reign of Josiah, who instituted many reforms and attempted to bring Israel back to God and His Law, but it didn’t last, didn’t “take.”

The question is, is America another one of God’s national demonstrations? Are we going to prove again that man cannot choose the right way even when he’s been given everything needed to succeed? Or, are we going to heed His warning, revive our faith and climb out of this hole?

America has been through several very effective revivals – the Great Awakening in the mid-1700’s, the Second Awakening in the early 1800’s, and another right before the Civil War. Each time the nation took a huge surge forward. It can happen again. We are neck-and-neck down this stretch of history. God has provided the people, the energy, the ideas, the Bibles, -- everything we need to make America greater than it has ever been. But our attitude toward Almighty God is the key factor; either we change our national mind about God, and about Christ, or we go the way of every nation that has ever fallen – we won’t be a cut above; we’ll be exactly where Assyria is today, where Babylon is, where Rome has been and soon will be again.

We listen to the news and despair, but we need not. “Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:26) And the writer of Chronicles records God saying, “If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)