Tag Archives: politics

JRF

JRF’s # 45 – A Free People’s Suicide by Os Guinness

I read most of this for November’s Apologia, but then took my time finishing it up.  It has already been reviewed by Mark and Ron so I won’t reiterate the premise of the book.

My favorite part of the book were where Guinness showed the historical progression of democratic theory throughout the classical world and then compared and contrasted the American and French Revolutions.  The emphasis on the imporatance of history was refreshing and helped my thinking as I read through 1984 simultaneously.

The biggest weakness in my opinion was that while he did a good job of showing that a strong democracy demands a strong faith, I felt he barely even discussed why or why not a strong Christian faith demands a democracy.  The passion of my heart and goal of my life is not to secure democracy but serve the Kingdom of Christ.  My concerns for the sustainability of democracy are subserviant to my concern of the spread of the Gospel.  I felt like that aspect was missing from this book.  Perhaps that is a book for a different audience.

 

JRF

JRF’s #31 – 1984 by George Orwell

Mark and Drew have already amply reviewed this book, so I won’t rehash the plot.  Suffice it to say that this is one of the most thought provoking books I have read in a long time.

Here are a few of the many thoughts that have lingered since reading 1984 months ago:

History matters:  Much of the world of 1984 and the oppressive regime that is symbolized by “Big Brother” revolves around the governments’ control of history.  One of the key doctrines that is repeated over and over again is “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”  The “Ministry of Truth” for which the main character Winston works for, is constantly revising, erasing, and rewriting history.  This perverting of history keeps the masses in subjection to Big Brother as it robs them of their identity and keeps them in an ongoing present – never affording them the opportunity to reflect and learn on the success and failures of past generations.

It is no coincidence that God continually told and tells his people to REMEMBER.  In virtually ever book of the Bible there is a command to remember.  Here is just a small sample:

“This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” Ex 3:15

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today”. Deut 15:15

Remember the days of old;

consider the years of many generations;

ask your father, and he will show you,

your elders, and they will tell you.” Deut 32:7

“Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done,

His marvels and the judgments from His mouth,”  I Chron 16:12

So these days were to be remembered and celebrated throughout every generation, every family, every province and every city; and these days of Purim were not to fail from among the Jews, or their memory fade from their descendants.  Esther 9:28

I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;

Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.

 Psalm 77:11

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”  Eph 2:11

“‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.”  Rev 3:3

“Do this in remembrance of Me…”

The salvation of sinners is inextricably rooted in the historical event of the incarnation of God, His perfect righteous life, his substitutionally death, and glorious resurrection.  Our present experience cannot alter those events, and our only hope for the future is in remembering and trusting the reality of that past historical accomplishment.  To be a Christian is to remember.

Truth matters:  Orwell shows (in a way congruent to Os Guiness in A Free People’s Suicide) that the loss of freedom comes ultimately not through military conquests but through epistimological revolutions.   In 1984,not only does the government rewrite history to serve their current needs but even more sinisterly, they rewrite history to train the population (including themselves) to accept that there is no such thing as absolute truth and therefore entire histories, cultural and personal identities, and facts (such as gravity and math) are subject to “Big Brothers’” interpretation.  When truth is placed under the subjection of anyone or anything other than Omniscient God, it ceases to be truth and therefore ceases to offer any hope or freedom.

 

The Human Heart is Inherently Selfish:  Orwell seemed to understand that when pushed far enough our true selfish nature comes out.  Left to ourselves without any supernatural heart transformation, no matter how nobel, in love, heroic, civilized, or strong willed we believe ourselves to be, self preservation and interest reigns supreme.  It was excruciating to see the protagonist systematically stripped of all dignity and illusions of free will, ultimately not by an outside force, but from the enemy within – his sinful, weak heart.

1984 is a powerful parable.

 

 

 

ron

Ron’s #32: A Free People’s Suicide by Os Guinness

The premise of this book is this paradox: “the greatest enemy of freedom is freedom” (19). Guinness continues saying that “Americans today are heedlessly pursuing a vision of freedom that is short-lived and suicidal. Once again, freedom without virtue, leadership without character, business without trust, law without customs, education without meaning and medicine, science and technology without human considerations can only end in disaster” (29).

A Free People’s Suicide is an outsider’s view of the strength of America (Guinness is an Irishman); the book is the same vein of Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, which is heavily quoted in the book. While praising American freedom, he cautions that we will lose freedom when the freedoms we enjoy are not tethered to something larger than the idea of freedom itself.

I probably should have enjoyed this book more than I did. Even though I like Guinness’s perspective on issues, his writing feels unclear to me. Perhaps it is my lack of knowledge on the issues that Guinness raises. Or, maybe it was because I read this in the final days of the 2012 election, and we met in our Apologia book group after the results were announced. It’s an understatement to say that I wasn’t in the best mood that day.

Here’s a brief excerpt of the author discussing the “golden triangle of freedom”: freedom requires virtue; virtue requires faith; faith requires freedom.

ron

Ron’s #26: Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

I wanted to read this to see if it was a book I could teach to my sophomores. I thought that it may have themes relating to the current politic season. While it was good to read it, I thought that it was perhaps too dull for teenagers.

The book focused on the struggle that Brutus has (does he help kill Caesar for the good of the Empire?), as well as how he is manipulated by the first “special interests” group, twisting the truth for their own nefarious ends.

Even though he kills his leader and friend, Brutus is the hero of the story. As Marc Antony says of him:

This was the noblest Roman of them all:
All the conspirators, save only he,
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He, only in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.

mark

Mark’s #8 – America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It by Mark Steyn

There are some alarming trends in western culture that led author and journalist Mark Steyn to issue a wakeup call to America.  Whether you agree or disagree, Steyn’s points should not be ignored.

Put briefly, Steyn believes that the western world in particular, and the world as a whole is at risk of being dominated by islamic culture, religion, and politics within just a few generations.  His reasoning springs from an analysis of the demographic data, naive multiculturalism, and political correctness trends within western liberal democratic nations – particularly Europe.

  • Demographics –  The birth rates of Western European countries have fallen well below the sustainable society rate of 2.1 births per woman.  Some of these countries like France, Italy, Germany, and Spain range from a rate of 1.1 -1.3 births.  So what does this mean?  It means that these big government socialist countries will not be able to sustain their welfare state in the near future, since no one will be around to pay for these luxuries.  Enter into this equation their need for immigrants, mostly from muslim background, their very high birth rates, and their hatred for all infidels, Europe will soon be known as Eurabia.
  • Naive Multiculturalism – It’s ironic that those most committed to multiculturalism will be some of the first infidels to have their religious and individual liberties stripped away from them once Islamic Sharia law takes hold in a democratic majority.  Those quickest to speak of Islam as “a beautiful religion of peace” will be perplexed by the brutality of such a government.  Once there is an Islamic majority, how do you think feminists, gays and lesbians, and others of an alternative lifestyle will be treated? Islam will play the victim card whenever possible in the West, while at the same time spouting a blatantly racist and exclusivist agenda against infidels.
  • Political Correctness – The spirit of our age is one of unprecedented political correctness – and it will be the death of us if we don’t respond with a logical force of thought and public engagement.

The only hope for Western civilization, as Steyn sees it (a Canadian by the way), is for America to respond and return to the ideology and fortitude that first made America a super power.   But even here, the trending signs are not encouraging… take for example Barrack Obama’s ‘Apology to the World’ tour.  This does not make Islamist view the infidels of America in a more favorable light.  Rather, in the Islamic mind, actions like these shout weakness and opportunities for more victories by terrorists.

Wake up America.

“Far from being tortured, the prisoners [at Guantanamo] are being handled literally with kid gloves (or simulated kid-effect gloves). The U.S. military hands each jihadist his complimentary copy of the Koran as delicately as white-gloved butlers bringing His Lordship the Times of London. It’s not just unbecoming to buy in to Muslim psychoses; in the end, it’s self-defeating. And our self-defeat is their surest shot at victory…Even a loser can win when he’s up against a defeatist. A big chunk of Western Civilization, consciously or otherwise, has given the impression that it’s dying to surrender to somebody, anybody. Reasonably enough, the jihadists figure: hey, why not us?”

 

“A big chunk of Western civilization, consciously or otherwise, has given the impression that it’s dying to surrender to somebody, anybody. Reasonably enough, Islam figures: Hey, why not us?”

 

“The state has gradually annexed all the responsibilities of adulthood – health care, child care, care of the elderly – to the point where it’s effectively severed its citizens from humanity’s primal instincts, not the least the survival instinct…They corrode the citizen’s sense of self-reliance to a potentially fatal degree.”

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