Declaration of Independence

… from the tyranny of Public Opinion.

At the Bar of Public Opinion

At the Bar of Public Opinion (Photo credit: Cornell University Library)

Let me not be brought low by the low opinions others have of me.  And let my heart not be set on medals of praise and affirmation, but may it be on a “Well done.”  My perception of the contents of man’s mind is faulty anyway.  But even if it’s true that I’m held in low esteem for this or that infraction, inaction, or my deviance from what’s presently fashion, then in God’s assurance and peace let me walk sedately on, unhindered, unburdened, and uninhibited.

Big Givernment

Capital Hill

It’s fashionable these days to accuse people of being socialist.  Not that I’m usually so in-style, but I did recently use it to describe someone I love.   He and I like to spar over political views, which differ as far as the East is from the West, or– more specifically– as far as the left is from the right.  I’m right.  He’s wrong, I mean, left.   In a recent exchange, he met my charge of socialism with:  “It’s not socialism.  It’s government recognizing its proper role to protect citizenry from those that would seek to gain at the expense of others.”

Sounds good.  Then I thought, like in the French Revolution?  If ever there was a time when the common man got his chance to run the show it was then.  And without a hint of religion involved, just man and his ideas on justice.  That’s why the French Revolution is such a great study.  Its example and predecessor, the American Revolution, has little in common with it but the surname.   The same intentions (to be rid of an unjust and unequal system and replace it with peace and prosperity for all) can have drastically different outcomes when just one ingredient is missing:  God.  It’s no secret the French got their idea from us.  But they were too enlightened to involve God in the process.  The French killed scores of evil rich people (please excuse the redundancy), confiscated their wealth, and redistributed it to the poor.  There was so much blood involved in that do-over that the streets literally flowed with it.

Aristocratic heads on pikes - a cartoon from t...

Aristocratic heads on pikes – a cartoon from the French Revolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The French Revolution was the Salem witch trials to the tenth power in senseless deaths.  But which classic do American high schools assign?  The Scarlet Pimpernel?  Hardly.  Maybe in Texas.   If ever there was an injustice in literature class, it’s The Crucible.   When those young minds are done assimilating Arthur Miller’s gem on the perils of religion and authority, and in case they missed the point the first time through, they get The Scarlet Letter.  And no education is complete without the recent classic on why religion, i.e. conformity, sucks: The Giver.   No wonder teens are staging their own personal revolutions.   We replace Robinson Crusoe with Lord of the Flies and then get all surprised when kids start killing each other.

So when, in all of recorded history, has the government, especially by and through increasing its size and scope like a runaway avalanche, acted as protectorate of the citizenry to the greater good of anyone?

Rome

Rome.   That was big government.  We really do love to emulate Rome.  They were the first to make devaluing their currency an art form.  They scraped a bit of gold or silver off coins that came through the treasury in the form of taxes before sending them back out into circulation.  With the scrapings they made lots of new money.   That’s why our quarters have little lines on the edges to this day; initially it was to prove they’d not been scraped.  Like many things which lost their original purpose, they linger and no one questions where those little lines came from or why they still exist.  That makes me think of unions.  If ever there was an idea deserving euthanasia…

I digress.

Can someone give me an example of when big government actually did somebody some good?  If you say the New Deal, we’re still paying for the Romanesque debt we incurred in that “deal.”  No.  The good has to be lasting.   Here’s an example of what I mean:

I can make my financial situation seem really super TODAY by maxing out my credit cards (you know, raising my debt ceiling).   Life can be sweet for as long as I can pay the interest on those cards, as long as I can put off the repo man.

Economy

So when you evaluate the state of the economy, don’t tell me things were great in times when we were just getting more credit cards.

My brother once rightly commented that if all of Americans were as fiscally unadventurous as my sister and me, that the market would instantly tube.  Talk about unsustainable.  We all have to spend more than we make so that our government can spend more than it makes so that our country can import more than it exports, so that our standard of living doesn’t change in the slightest.

Eventually the repo man will come gunning for America.   Taking money away from those evil rich folks won’t pay for everything we’ve been charging.   Plus, they’re leaving and taking their evil businesses with them.  Can we add Atlas Shrugged to the high school reading list?

I invite you to give me some perspective.   Until then, I’m believing big givernment (oops!  I spelled that wrong) means big problems for everyone, even we plebeians who make less than 250 K.   It costs big money to protect us from ourselves.

Uncle Sam BW

Uncle Sam BW (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A fresh perspective…

Eric Hyde's Blog

“I’m spiritual, not religious”

Spiritual no Religious 2I wish I had a back massage for every time I’ve heard this line. What gets me most is the presupposition it stems from, that “spiritual” is the assumed equivalent of “good” and “religious” is the assumed equivalent of “evil.” Who made up this language game?

Honestly, who decided that “spiritual” was a term that would be used to contradict religion and as evidence of personal enlightenment, without further ado. And does anyone using the phrase ever stop to think what they actually mean by it? I think what is usually meant is that religion is man-made tradition whereas spiritual is a phenomenon that happens on a personal level, free from all “man-madeness” and tradition, and thus… true?

My experience has been exactly opposite. I spent the first 20 years of my journey in Christianity believing that I was spiritual and not religious and have come…

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Giving Grief. A Guide

Hell Show

Hell Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t think my loyalties are incongruous with previous directives because I urged you to be generous in your giving.  Gifts have been a part of our modus operandi since our Father’s first victory.     Here’s how it’s done, my fiend.  Give him innumerable little “benign” gadgets with which to fiddle, so he’ll be too busy playing and tuning and typing that awareness of his own mind or body as an apparatus for experiencing life is turned “off.”  If you’re doing your job right, you’ll feel like bloody Santa in no time.    And the hook, the point of all this benevolence, is the removal of your man from the game.   Give him lots of controllers; just don’t ever give him control.  Just because the Enemy came up with gifts in the first place doesn’t mean they can’t be exploited for our purposes.  And I’m not flattering Him with imitation.  His gifts are intangible.  Our gifts are real, and they really cost.  Just think of the destruction we can wreak on a man and his family by furnishing him with a winning lottery ticket.  It gives me goose bumps to think of the scrabbling, the scheming, the treachery a little money can procure.   And that’s where we come in.   We give these “gifts,”  these “windfalls.”  The Enemy’s gifts are “not of this world, ” so He says.    He makes presents of oxymorons  like contentment in poverty or peace in tribulation.   Has anyone ever seen these gifts?

Love, Wrapped Up

Me with Grammy's afghanIt’s Christmas time.   And as Scroogie as it is to talk about this, most of what my thoughts gravitate toward is… money.  I wish it weren’t true.  I am constantly planning how I can get awesome, appropriate, and unique gifts at the best prices.  A fourth generation bargain Betty, I can’t resist a thrift store and can lose myself for hours in the behemoth Salvation Army nearby.    I liken it to hunting.   You have to get there early for the best pickings.  You must be patient and meticulous, diligent, and only rarely do you come away with a prize (like this sweater I’m wearing).  Mostly it’s just  waiting for something magical that never actually materializes.  And just like hunting, it can be a messy or dangerous endeavor.   I once had a large black spider fall out of a pair of jeans I was trying on.  Now I shake them before slipping my leg into those dark places, and I pray I don’t get lice, scabies,  or any other icky bonus as a direct result of trying on clothes.     Although I enjoy picking through junk, it’s not exactly the place to get awesome and appropriate, (although you can get unique) presents.  So once a year I’m forced to pay full price.  Am I throwing up while keying in my credit card numbers?  You bet.

My grandmother gave us kids used gifts every year.  “Thou shalt not buy anything new,” was her mantra.  Her gifts were always unique, sometimes appropriate, and once in a blue moon, awesome.    Is it because they didn’t cost her much that I didn’t feel the love?  Sometimes gifts have a time price tag, crafts whose extravagance is the many hours spent fashioning them.   The afghan my grandmother gave me was absolutely delightful for the thirty deluded seconds I thought she had crocheted it.    The problem was that I pictured my Grammy squirreling away gifts and then indiscriminately passing them out as the need arose.   I wanted a premeditated gift, one pondered upon and deemed perfect for me, not just perfect for any kid; I wanted it to cost her.

Am I mean?

Don’t answer that.  It’s a rhetorical question.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I love my Grammy and her gifts, although opening them felt somewhat like playing the lottery.  I think I wanted it to cost her because love is proportional to sacrifice.    Or maybe it would be better to say love equals sacrifice.  They are the same thing when they are true.  Take love as described in the Bible:  “Perfect love has no fear.”  How is that possible?   All human relationships are subject to betrayal and thus a possible source of fear.  Add to that the fact that people are messy and used, and sometimes full of spiders, and the odds are significantly against not feeling pain in love at one time or another.  Still, we are loved by God.  His love doesn’t depend on our worth or our response to Him.  That’s why it’s perfect… and fearless.   If I love like He loves, my love doesn’t depend upon the object; no reciprocity necessary.  That is incredibly freeing (and incidentally, incredibly useful when raising teens).

God loves us by giving the gift of Jesus to anyone who will accept him.  I can say it’s a lovely gift under the tree, but it doesn’t become mine until I act.  Act in faith this season if you haven’t already.