24 Dec 2009
Those who really matter
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. -Luke 2:8
“How They See It: People Who Matter on What Matters Most.” So says the cover of the current issue of Newsweek. Pictured are Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Tim Geithner, Eric Holder, etc. In other words, the people who matter are politicians and bureaucrats, the white-collar parasites who work with politically-connected elites to feed lavishly off wealth created by productive people in all countries. Yes, it’s the rich and powerful who matter.
The wealthy didn’t see the glory of the Lord the night described in Luke 2, however. Shepherds did. How many untold saints have wished to see what those blessed shepherds saw?
That’s how the Lord works. Local events change the world. They don’t usually occur in Herod’s palace, but instead among those who don’t “matter.” Years and years of tedium, and then boom, a surprise. The church was built and maintained by people who don’t matter to those who worship at the altar of this perishing world.
Malcolm Muggeridge was in Russia during perhaps its most vicious era in the early 1930s. Encompassed by Stalinist oppression and starvation, which has few parallels in human history, this was his impression:
It just suddenly seemed to me that Russia was a beautiful place– these pine trees, dark against the snow which had now begun to fall, the sparkling stars so far, far away, the faces of the Russians I met and greeted, these also so beautiful, so clumsy and kind… In the woods there was a little church, of course disused now. The fronts of such churches, like the Greek ones, are painted with bright colours; blues bluer than the bluest sky, whites whiter than the whitest snow. Someone — heaven knows who — had painted up the one in the Kliasma woods. Standing in front of this unknown painter’s handiwork, I blessed his name, feeling that I belonged to the little disused church he had embellished, and that the Kremlin with its scarlet flag and dark towers and golden spires was an alien kingdom. A kingdom of power such as the Devil had in his gift, and offered to Christ, to be declined by him in favour of the kingdom of love. I, too, must decline it, and live in the kingdom of love. This was another moment of perfect clarification, when everything fitted together in sublime symmetry; when I saw clearly the light and the darkness, freedom and servitude, the bright vistas of eternity and the prison bars of time. I went racing back over the snow to K[itty, his wife], breathing in the dry icy air in great gulps of thankfulness.
This is what our Lord offers. Not the compromised wishes and power trips of thieving politicians, but the “brights vistas of eternity” in His glorious presence.
20 Dec 2009
A right vs. a good
Is anyone else tired of hearing that we have a “right” to health care? Judge Andrew Napolitano explains the difference between a right and a good.
Health care is a good. This is a key concept to understand, because if you concede the premise of a “right” to health care or education or anything else that others have to pay for, then you have lost the argument.
12 Dec 2009
Warring against limited government
Conservatives would love to scrap the income tax. Question: How do you do this and still support all the wars and defense?
Look at the math. The government is slated to take in about $2 trillion in tax revenue this year. Around $866 billion of that is from the income tax, while another $842 billion comes from FICA (which is supposed to be earmarked for various entitlements like social security). Meanwhile, the U.S. government is spending over $1 trillion a year on wars, overseas bases, and missiles (note: the US debt clock shows less, but that figure does not include supplemental appropriations).
Let us reason together, conservatives: How do we scrap the income tax and yet spend $1 trillion a year on defense? The government isn’t bringing in enough from the income tax to even fund current defense/war spending. Surely you don’t want to raise taxes. Surely you don’t want to continue the ruinous borrowing. Surely you don’t want the Fed to further debase the money supply.
Limited government and foreign interventionism are simply incompatible. The current level of defense spending is unsustainable.
Here is the argument I always hear: “Yes, but defense is a constitutional function. If the government didn’t spend so much on unconstitutional things like social entitlements, it could afford to fund Iraq and Afghanistan and our overseas bases!” While it is imperative that all social entitlement spending be phased out, the argument is simply wrong. Again, look at the figures. The current budget for wars and defense ALONE is enough to ensure “big government.”
Financially, these wars are a real danger to freedom, especially if a dollar collapse results in social chaos. I’m with Ron Paul that our presence in foreign countries does more harm than good anyway, but we’ve hit a point where the U.S. either brings the troops home and closes its bases now in orderly fashion, or it scoots home later with its tail between its legs.
09 Dec 2009
Thinking about Tiger
It’s pretty clear that Tiger Woods, like Bill Clinton, has a frightful habit. This man with a carefully cultivated image has been embarrassed nationally. Assuming he possesses more self-awareness and less shamelessness than Clinton (which describes 99% of the population), what is Tiger Woods going to do now? He knows that any more messing around is risky. He can’t trust his conquests any longer, and sponsorships will suffer. However, old habits are hard to break. Hopefully he comes clean and doesn’t try to mine new layers of secrecy and darkness, like a worm who reacts to his rock being uncovered by burrowing deeper.
Some women have this notion that men prefer to be alley-cats. This may describe younger men here and there, but look around you: most men get married sooner or later. There is a deep instinct at work. Men are tempted to be more like the mythological Zeus. They want their Hera, their wife who provides a public face, love, stability, support, and children. She’s the main course. Then they want their nymphs, but the nymphs are decidedly a side dish. Deep down, these mistresses probably realize that they are nothing more than fleeting pleasures.
Maybe a “cheap dessert” is a better way to put it. Tiger’s women are all from the service sector. The job of these hostesses, porn stars, and cocktail waitresses is to please men for money. It isn’t surprising to see them magnetically drawn to an iconic name who radiates money, power, and fame. There was probably much competition to bed him, particularly once it was known that he was all too willing.
Stable people are rarely attracted to fame, in the sense that they don’t become groupies or throw themselves at famous people. An autograph or picture is enough. Most people have desired fame at one point or another, but it is mostly unstable people who do what it takes to achieve celebrity. We can make exceptions for the rare man who achieved fame accidentally by excelling at his craft, but think Hollywood. Drugs, bed-hopping, failed marriages, vulgarity, attention-seeking.
This is nothing new. I watched an old movie from the early 1930s recently and looked up info on the main players. Every one of them had at least four spouses. If you read the biographies of the great old actors and actresses, you’ll learn that this is the rule, not the exception. Long before that, the theater was known as a domain of immorality. We don’t need to discuss the music business.
Tolkien once said that not one man in a million is fit to have power, much less those who seek it. I wonder if the same is not true about fame.
Tiger Woods was on the road a lot. An unrooted life on the road goes hand in hand with immorality, and things that wouldn’t come to mind at home come to mind on the road… especially when you have beautiful women actively enticing you. It cannot be easy to live with this day after day, even if you (unlike Tiger Woods) realize the greater joys of trust and fidelity, and even if you’re a Christian who trembles at the threatenings (Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch 14).
It seems to me a curse to have the kind of fame that gains the world, especially at a young age. I would not seek it. One’s soul may be the price (Matt. 16:26).