A Review on Dr. Martin Luther’s ” Bondage of the Will”

Dr. Martin Luther’s ” The Bondage of the Will,” or ” De Servo Arbitrio,” as it was originally entitled, was written as a rebuke. As a result of increasing pressure from the papacy to condemn Luther’s writing, Erasmus wrote a book called ” The Freedom of the Will,” or ” De Libero Arbitrio,” to affirm his obedience to papal authority and to attack the Reformation that Luther launched in 1517 with his posting of the Ninety- Five Thesis at the Castle Church and his affirmation of his writings at the 1521 Diet of Worms.  Erasmus, a man of the Northern Renaissance, was a humanist who actually championed the same sorts of ecclesiastical reforms that Luther, Zwingli, the Anabaptists and others all over Europe were then currently militating for. The difference was that Erasmus wanted to move at a more conservative pace and within the boundaries placed by the Roman Curia, while Luther and the others found themselves quickly outside the pale and threatened with death.   Erasmus managed to throw Luther into a perfect fury with his publications and ( as he was wont to do when he was angry) Luther wrote a perfectly brilliant piece of theological literature after his own friends pressed him into composing a reply. Luther wrote an article by article response to the humanist’s  piece which wound up informing Lutheran theology in general.   God and His Foreknowledge   Luther tells us that God reveals Himself to us in His Word, both as Jesus Christ and in the Holy Scriptures. What we are to know about the Almighty is made manifest in those two sources. There is also an inexpressible, unknown aspect to the Divine Will that we are not to investigate or to probe. Some things ( despite Erasmus’ furious words to the contrary) are forever blocked to the natural reason of Man. Reason itself is limited because without the grace of God, it is confined to human experience, tainted as that experience is by Original Sin.   God in His foreknowledge has determined the salvation of those Christians who are to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. The only predestination is that to salvation, while Man’s un- regenerated will, bound by sin, would have those not graced by the Holy Spirit to choose the agonies of Hell for themselves. Luther is quite adamant that all we can or need to know is contained in the Bible, which itself is quite clear in reading and interpretation, despite Erasmus’ obsessions with tropes, articles, metaphors, allegories and so on which tend to darken the plain meaning of Scripture for him. Erasmus, like many Renaissance folk of that era, tried to fuse Biblical theology with ancient Greek and Roman philosophy and so tended to go a bit beyond what the Apostles and early Church Fathers might have intended for the Christian Church. Luther debated Erasmus on the efficacy of accrued Tradition       Erasmus was very adamant about Scriptural interpretation being hallowed by time, the decrees of the Church and those saints and martyrs whos miracles were dutifully recited and whose relics were avidly sought after in Medieval Europe. Luther was just as dismissive of those things, saying that the only relic that can do Christians any good is the Bible and that the accretions of man- made traditions in the Christian Church had only served to distract people from faith and drove people to distraction trying to earn for themselves what Christ had already won for them on Calvary, namely, their justification. If Traditions and human works were effective for salvation, Luther wondered, then why did Jesus Christ have to come to earth at all? Why was the Holy Spirit given to the Apostles if tradition and doing good things were all one needed? Where is the Church?     Erasmus once said in what Luther terms his ” Diatribe” that if the See of Peter and all of his servants didn’t have the Gospel, then where had it ( and therefore the Church) been for the last 1,500 years? Luther responded that the Church was yet with the believers under the Papal See, the believers under the See of Constantinople and believers even among the Arians. It wasn’t the will of Man who made Christians, but the Will of God, Who makes that Will known to us in His Word. Man’s will is bound tightly by the unbreakable irons of sin, irons that had been forged in the fires of Hell. God’s grace is delivered to people in the proclamation of the Word and the reception of the sacraments ( Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution and the Holy Eucharist). Man can not ” reason” or ” work” his way to Heaven, otherwise the atonement offered by Christ would be void. It can only be received as a gift. Once received, the Old Adam in Man begins to die and the New Adam ( Jesus Christ) begins to arise. Luther had a few pointed things to say about Erasmus, his character, his quick wit in writing about reform and his sluggishness in seeing it carried out. Luther also complained of the many contradictions that this ” Catholic Reformer” presented in his ” The Freedom of the Will,” which made much of God’s grace working in Man and also much about man’s ability to choose that grace ( or to reject it. As if somebody’s going to approach God and ask Him to throw him into Hell). How can grace be grace if it’s somehow earned? Luther also went into Man’s penchant not only to be unable to please God by his own powers, but how the natural Man actively uses those powers in rebellion against God.   Conclusion This is the basic message of ” The Bondage of the Will.” Apart from God’s revealed Will given to us in the Bible and through that Will being declared and the sacraments of those Scriptures administered, Man’s will can only be a one- way ticket to Hell. Reason can do many things that pertain to this life, but our way to god has been revealed to us. I’d have to say that the Reformers, from John Wycliffe to John Huss to Martin Luther, did provide what I consider a miracle: a written translation of Holy Writ from Latin to the every day language of the common man and in doing that, also in promoting literacy and learning in the Protestant churches, the Reformation was a necessary step in the evolution first of Europe and then of the rest of the world. Afterward Today, we see cultural norms and Christian orthodoxy under attack everywhere in the secular world as well as in the lands of the heathen. Like Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin and other Reformers, we too must stand up in defense of our faith. Erasmus wanted to compromise, to live in comfort and to enjoy the fruits of his learned reputation, as did Thomas More and others who half- heartedly pressed for reform in the face of clerical abuses. They quickly found themselves on the wrong side of history and Thomas More was executed as a traitor for it. Today, the temptation to succumb to the creature comforts of the world is just as overpowering today as it has ever been, but Jesus did not call us to comfort. We must contend for the faith, not to prove anything or to win anything, but to hold on to what we have been given. God has given us His Spirit and He has in Holy Scripture revealed His will to us. We have churches in which Christians gather for fellowship and mutual affirmation. Jesus Christ really is the One Way to the Father and only when we are given the grace we need to submit our wills to His Will, can we truly live according to the Law and Gospel that we have been given. Faith indeed is a living, active and mighty thing, but it must needs be fed. It’s fed by Word and Sacrament and daily devotion helps it to grow. The Devil, the Fallen World and our own sinful Flesh all militate together against this God- given Faith, but this Faith grows in us as our old Adam and his priorities die within us and Jesus is resurrected in us. Where One member of the Holy Trinity is, so also there are all Three, so the indwelling Spirit is present in the believer’s heart together with God the Father and Jesus, God the Son. All because of what Jesus did for us nailed to a Roman Cross those centuries ago in Jerusalem.    

The United States of America, An Overview

The United States of America has got to be the world’s model for the most disparate social, economic and ethnic groups working together for the good of a common homeland. Indeed, we are a nation of immigrants and those who fail to appreciate the opportunities that presents may easily find another place to live without fear of pursuit, capture and repatriation. However, for those of us who do appreciate the many blessings that this country provides, the possibilities are endless. Americans are people who descend from the earliest colonists from Britain, France and Spain, who descend from those indigenous peoples who have dwelt in this land since the dawn of history, who descend from the Great Migrations of the mid- 1800s and who descend from enslaved Africans. Americans descend from people who came out from China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam for California’s Gold Rush and as refugees from war. Americans descend from Latino migrants and Americans are people who take and hold their citizenship close to their hearts, even if they are freshly minted Americans just back from their Naturalization ceremony, who were born overseas and yet wanted to partake in our society. We Americans come from all walks of life, adhere to many faiths and generally don’t have a problem with people who want to come and contribute to our progress as a society. When people try to divide us, we tend as a people to stick even more closely together. What is an American other than a man or woman who loves America? The United States of America is facing incredible challenges, but we have ever done so, since the Revolutionary War, we have confronted enemies foreign and domestic and we have prevailed. We will continue to prevail, whether we are facing Constitutional challenges, or the Conservative/ Liberal Divide, we will continue on the current of history and emerge ever stronger as we overcome the challenges we face today.

July 4

Ruminations on Independence Day

Our country turns 243 years old today. Today, I’ll celebrate Independence Day in the fashion that is most appropriate for me: I’ll consider our history and write about it’s influence on our country today. Preface In 1607, long before the American Revolution, King James I sponsored a settlement of Englishmen along the banks of a river that would later be called the James River. This settlement would become known as Jamestown, the historical starting point for all of the North American Anglosphere https://www.history.com/topics/colonial-america/jamestown. The territory claimed by ” Great Britain” ( the new name of the politically united Kingdoms of England, Wales and Scotland) north of Spanish- held Florida was named for King James’ predecessor, the ” Virgin Queen” Elizabeth I. That name was Virginia, a name still carried by a historically significant state in the American Union http://www.theus50.com/virginia/history.php. In 1620, as the English and Scottish planters and indentured servants were establishing themselves in the Chesapeake area, a ship known as the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England. These Puritan colonists that we call Pilgrims today arrived in Massachusetts with a specific religious mandate that favored Puritanism and what became the Massachusetts Bay Colony became a refuge for Puritans persecuted by the authorities of the Church of England https://historyofmassachusetts.org/history-of-the-massachusetts-bay-colony/.                                           Early Colonial Governance In Virginia In the very beginning, Virginia was governed by a president and a seven member council chosen by King James I. The first two administrations of this colony were distracted by sickness, hunger, Indian attacks and squabbles related to class conflicts. The third administration, led by Captain John Smith, proved to be the stabilizing force that the colony needed to survive. More settlers were sent in from Britain by the Virginia Company, thus incurring a debt that the Company was ill- prepared to repay. Investors were getting desperate, so they adopted desperate measures to induce patriotic Englishmen and Scotsmen to (a): invest in Company shares in the name of national pride and patriotism and (b): leave the comforts of home and try their hands in the wilderness of the New World. They met with some success in their public relations program, but infighting and increasing debt led King James I to rescind the Company’s charter and make Virginia a royal colony in 1624, to be led by a royally appointed governor. In 1627, royal approval was granted to the Virginia Assembly to work in concert with the governor to oversee the affairs of the colony https://www.nps.gov/jame/learn/historyculture/the-virginia-company-of-london.htm. In Massachusetts Bay  King Charles I in 1629 confirmed the Massachusetts Bay Charter, which granted the rights of native born Englishmen and limited self- government to the settlers of the Bay Colony http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/documents/1600-1650/charter-of-massachusetts-bay-1629.php. As the Colony grew, the Puritan culture was ( as intended) preeminent and little toleration was afforded to members of other faiths, be they Catholic, Quaker or Baptist https://historycollection.co/the-harsh-and-humiliating-religious-persecutions-in-colonial-new-england/2/. During the era of Oliver Cromwell and his Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was largely left to its own devices, favored as it was by the Puritan government of England. That changed in 1664, when King Charles II  sent a commission to New England to evaluate the condition of the Colony. The Massachusetts colony cherished the independence that it had been granted and chafed at the newly restored king’s efforts to bring the colony under more direct royal rule https://mises.org/library/english-crown-vs-massachusetts. Here It Comes New England was always rather set apart, beginning as it did as a refuge for Puritans with a specifically theocratic mandate. Anglican Virginia, on the other hand, was quite content to be English, at least at the beginning. Other colonies that were established were the colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The Dutch colony of New Netherland was taken by the British crown and renamed New York, while New Sweden became Delaware http://www.celebrateboston.com/history/carolinas.htm, http://www.celebrateboston.com/history/maryland.htm, https://www.americanheritage.com/new-amsterdam-becomes-new-york, https://www.thoughtco.com/key-facts-about-the-pennsylvania-colony-103879.   Scots- Irish and Germans Join the Party Around the turn of the eighteenth century, the Anglicans and Puritans were joined by Presbyterians from Scotland and Ireland, along with German Reformed, Amish, Mennonites and Lutherans from Southwestern Germany and the Germanic areas of Switzerland. The Stuart dynasty fell before the incoming Hanoverians who by the mid- part of the eighteenth century kept Britain and her colonies under a tighter leash than the Stuarts had formerly https://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/10/13/migration-to-america-in-the-1700s/. Salutary Neglect and its Consequences Salutary Neglect was the British policy of loose enforcement of its trade regulations and permissive attitude toward internal self- government by the American Colonists. It prevailed from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the end of the French and Indian War ( 1754- 1763), when the British Parliament thought to recoup its debts by taxing the American Colonies and asserting direct control over the region. The Townshend Acts of  1767 marked the end of the policy of Salutary Neglect and made British rule felt more directly by the American Colonists, who resented the erosion of their freedoms https://www.britannica.com/topic/salutary-neglect. With the enforcement of the Navigation Acts and the presence of a British occupying Army on American soil, things got tense and in Boston, things reached a head in 1773 with the Boston Tea Party. People disguised as Indians threw a few thousand pounds’ worth of tea into Boston harbor and inspired the British Parliament to enact further repressive measures meant to cow the American colonists into submission. Of course, all that did was rally the other Colonies on the Eastern Seaboard in support of their brethren in Massachusetts http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/amrev/rebelln/. 1775: It Begins The Revolutionary War started when a vastly outnumbered Patriot militia in Lexington confronted British troops charged with capturing Patriot leaders and appropriating a Patriot arsenal. It looked to be a bluff on the part of the Patriots because they did begin to disperse peacefully on the orders of Major Pitcairn, who commanded the British force. Some random shot rang out and the incident ended with eight Americans dead and a war begun that would encircle the globe https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-american-revolution-begins. It did not take long for other discontented Colonists outside of New England to rally around their Northern brethren. In Virginia, the gentry deeply resented what they saw as unwarranted British interference in their lives through taxation levied to finance an occupying army in their colony. As a result of this, they played a leading role, militarily, diplomatically and politically, in throwing off British rule. In point of fact, the Declaration of Independence was penned by a Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, while Patrick Henry ( another Virginian) was the ” Revolution’s Orator” and George Washington ( of Virginia) took to the field as the General of the Continental Army http://discerninghistory.com/2013/10/patrick-henry, http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/thomas-jefferson-declaration-of-independence.html, http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/washington/george2.html. Independence Day, July 4, 1776 After a lot of haggling and editing, the Continental Congress finally approved the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, on the fourth day of July, 1776, finally severing the Thirteen Colonies from the rule of King George III https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/july-04, http://www.ushistory.org/Declaration/document/. Ruminations It took another seven years to bring open war between the United Colonies and Great Britain to a formal conclusion with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. It took another war, the War of 1812, for Great Britain to finally acknowledge American sovereignty. Those who chose to remain British subjects either moved to Great Britain or went North to Canada, the tenor of the local populace having overwhelmingly turned to the Patriot cause. 243 years later, here we are, a free and sovereign people under a Republic that has never been conquered, despite the best efforts of disruptive influences at home and abroad to rob us of our freedom and shame our proud citizens into silence. Many of our fellow citizens have been inured to the erosion of our rights and identities by social conditioning conducted through a media narrative. This narrative affirms the rights and dignity of every cultural group that has entered the United States except for the founding ones. The founding groups ( the Anglo- Americans, Scots- Irish and German- Americans), subsumed under the appellations of hillbilly, redneck, white trash and white oppressor are recast into the role of the social villain against which cultural and racial prejudice is not only approved, but celebrated by current society. Many of our ancestors fought in the War of Independence to affirm our sovereignty and dignity as a people. We were at one point highly regarded and respected as a people. What happened? A movement was launched that demonized the majority while uplifting minority groups, encouraging multiculturalism on the one hand, while spewing contempt on the founding cultures on the other. When our nation declared independence, we were in the middle of a war. Divisions in today’s society and hostility between entire groups of people has led to a similarly violent reaction. Class divisions exist on a starker scale today than they have before, with the demise of the middle class and the unwavering course toward destitution our economy is leading us. The wealthy keep their wealth secure and the poor scramble desperately to make ends meet from week to week, dignity forgotten, pride a distant memory. When a group of Colonial farmers, merchants, ministers and politicians found their integrity being compromised by British intrusions, they rose and physically drove out the strongest army in the world at that time, with the help of French, Spanish, Dutch and German allies. How do we fight something that has so insidiously attached itself to our national consciousness? Do we fight or follow the course of the Continental Congress, by attempting to reason with our opponents first and using violence only as a last resort? Conclusion The Declaration of Independence continues to serve as an inspiration to patriotism, but I might think that the lesson behind this Declaration might be just as valuable. Wars are sometimes waged when all other options have been exhausted and something more important than life or wealth is on the line. The scruffy warriors of the eighteenth century felt increasingly violated as a nation until they finally rose up, strong in their convictions that they were actually right. They believed that their way of life and their hard work on the frontier were things that were worth protecting. They weren’t willing to compromise with people who refused to listen to their grievances or respect their views. They felt that they were born to the freedom that they were willing to defend to the last drop of their life’s blood. Their convictions and sacrifices were ( until recently) celebrated and honored by their descendants and by the nation as a whole. Today, we honor the birthday of our nation, set in writing by a man, formerly revered, named Thomas Jefferson. Today, he is vilified as a slave- owner and sex fiend, his ideals set to the side. Statues of British kings were torn down by Revolutionaries and yet we remember that once we consented to be governed by them.. until we withheld that consent. Americans can tolerate a lot, but we can only be pushed so far before we remember our heritage of individualism and self- reliance, before we fight back. Let’s remember today that like our people those many years ago, we are faced with a choice.. to continue down an increasingly dark path or to break out into the light and forge a new path. May we make the sensible choice.

America Started It! Devolution.

It all started in the 1760s, when Great Britain decided to end its policy of ” salutary neglect” in the American Colonies at the end of the Seven Years War https://historyofmassachusetts.org/what-was-the-british-policy-of-salutary-neglect/. Now, this policy was one where the Colonial Americans pretty much had leeway to govern themselves by their own laws, while being nominally under the control of the British Crown https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Salutary_Neglect#start_entry. This idea of popular sovereignty https://www.heritage.org/american-founders/report/why-does-sovereignty-matter-america not only pushed the American Colonists to open warfare for independence, but it also serves as an inspiration today in Europe itself for separatist parties in Scotland, Wales, Brittany, the Basque Country, Catalonia,  and ( interestingly) England itself https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-35559447, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/04/basque-secessionists-follow-catalans-in-push-for-independence, https://www.languagesoftheworld.info/geography/brittany-another-independence-seeking-european-region.html. The aftermath of the Battle of Culloden in 1746 sent several Highland Scots into exile and when the American Revolution broke out, some of them ( oddly, not all, or even most, but some) joined the Colonial cause with the ideals of self- determinism and defeating autocracy firmly in mind https://allthingsliberty.com/2013/10/scotland-american-revolution/. The Scots who hailed from northern Ireland, on the other hand, were generally very favorable indeed to the American cause and they managed to elicit great admiration from the other colonists for their unswerving devotion to the Patriot Cause     https://www.electricscotland.com/history/scottish_american.htm. With the success of the rebel colonists in 1783, is it any wonder that the good people of Scotland, Wales and even England question in their minds whether or not they would be better off being governed by their own people rather than foreigners?  Please see https://www.snp.org/scotlands-future-should-be-decided-by-us-not-for-us/, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-politics-48122227 and https://thecepreview.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/independence-for-england/. The Colonial Americans felt that they were their own people and history has borne them out. With independence, they found their own destiny independent of an imperial power breathing down their necks and taking much- needed resources from them. Europe is a conglomeration of countries with their own societies, histories and people who share a common heritage. They have survived quite well for centuries without some ” big brother” watching over them and determining their actions for them and they will certainly survive a EU collapse ( which might not be that far off). https://fee.org/articles/why-smaller-is-better-for-europe/ The European Union seems to be a more or less forced merger of different societies that benefit the wealthy while leaving the average citizen without a voice https://www.alternet.org/2016/06/eu-neoliberal-nightmare/ . This is exactly what the good peoples of Europe do not deserve. Europeans do deserve to put the interests of their own countries first. Europeans do deserve to have governments that they choose themselves, not ones that are chosen for them. Europeans do deserve to have their own unique cultural traditions of their own lands celebrated and not denigrated, either by their wealthy countrymen, or by those refugees that seek shelter on their sovereign soil. Europeans do deserve the right to use their own resources for themselves, rather than have Brussels dictate which resources are to go where. These rights are inalienable and universal. If the peoples of Ghana or Samoa have the right to self- determination, if Americans have the right to tend to their own gardens, then so do the Irish, the Scots, the English, the Bretons, the Germans and the other ancient nations of the European continent.

Death of a Pet

When an animal who has been a literal part of your family dies, a part of you dies with him or her. The grieving process is largely the same for an animal as it is for a human: denial, bargaining, anger and acceptance. These four stages accompany the most difficult fact of life that we mortals have to deal with: the fact of death. The body is finite and mortal. It breathes, digests food, sees, hears, engages in physical activity and after a certain period of time, one of those seeds of death we have embedded in our DNA will subtly sprout up. We won’t notice it. Even the organism in question won’t really notice it, until it’s sapped every ounce of his/ her energy and they begin to wait for death. My personal belief, which is not shared by the leadership of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod, is that animals have souls. Animals have souls and they even have the power to send their people in this world a new pet to love. I took a walk today and I saw a ghostly leash being tugged by that ghostly beagle. If God doesn’t forget about the sparrows, in no way will He forget about a good, loving and loyal dog such as the one my mother owned and that I helped to take care of. Buddy lives, just in a different way. His mortal body may be ashes, but he still has a little napping place in my heart.

Suicide

Suicide among White Men.

It’s not easy being history’s supervillain. In fact, in recent years, suicide rates have spiked among white men between the ages of 35 and 65 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201305/white-middle-age-suicide-in-america-skyrockets . This is going to be a composition that will include our people’s history in Europe, our lines of descent and how we got to the place where we are today. It all started 45, 000 years ago, as the last ice sheets were receding and hunter- gatherers spread throughout Europe. These indigenous hunters were of swarthy complexion and many were blue eyed, as well. Around  7,000 years ago, there was a movement of people from the Middle East, who introduced farming into Europe and were apparently of fair complexion.  At last, from the steppes of Siberia, came ( to borrow a phrase from Mr. George R.R. Martin) horselords who effectively conquered Europe and introduced a patrilineal society around 4,000 years ago, with the help of domesticated animals ( such as the horse) https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29213892 , https://www.thelocal.de/20140918/study-reveals-migrant-makeup-of-europeans , https://www.thoughtco.com/ancient-societies-central-asian-steppe-172847 , https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3569545/The-founding-fathers-Europe-DNA-reveals-Europeans-related-group-lived-Belgium-35-000-years-ago.html. Since that time, Europeans have shot up to become some of the most successful international players in history. European males have spread the ideals of Christianity, patriarchy, honor, community and individuality all over the globe, with the Age of Discovery followed by the Age of Reason, freedom of religion, thought, expression and creativity has gone to levels unmatched by any nation in the history of the world https://www.britannica.com/topic/European-exploration/The-Age-of-Discovery, http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Age_of_Enlightenment, https://www.gresham.ac.uk/series/the-rise-and-fall-of-european-empires-from-the-16th-to-the-20th-century/. What happened? Well, in relatively recent years, it has pleased contemporary society to cast the young to middle- aged white male into the role of history’s supervillain. I fact, I would posit that those who accuse white males of a history of suppression would themselves suppress the freedom of expression that white males have encouraged for so long. In recent years, white people in general and white men in particular have been targets of directed malice from pressure groups who demand that they change their very nature from a dominant group to one subservient to everybody else. We are the last group in the world that is actively encouraged by society to hate itself and that self- hatred runs deep https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/07/02/defense-white-male/Me9UoUrcPbcljxRkPFlXAP/story.html, https://thedailycoin.org/2019/02/20/self-hating-whites-2/, http://www.westernspring.co.uk/the-mental-disorder-of-white-self-hatred/. The role that the white male is used to playing, that of the explorer, the defender of Western Values, the provider and the protector, has been taken from him and he is told that ” it’s his own fault” https://www.louderwithcrowder.com/14315-2/. It’s that evil patriarchy again! Here is a video I want you to watch and I want you to see it without hating yourself for your reaction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90XLNQXN_74. It’s funny. The natural reaction is to laugh. Of course, once we do that, once we do that, then it is implied that we are culpable for every racist act that has been performed by every racist white on the planet since the first hunter- gatherer looked askance at the first Middle Eastern settler around seven millenia ago  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/wendi-aarons/theres-nothing-funny-about-your-racist-joke_b_7656212.html. Here are some more suicide statistics: https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/, https://www.bcmj.org/articles/silent-epidemic-male-suicide. It seems that the only demographic who should apologize for daring to exist is that of the young to middle aged white male. Why is that? In this world of multiculturalism, is there no longer any room for what used to be the largest and most productive demographic? Why can’t we laugh? Why are we singled out for daring to react in a way that would seem totally natural if anybody else were to do it?  One could, of course, answer that our unique history gives us all a collective culpability in our reactions. That is a coldly analytic view of a spontaneous laugh at something intended to be a joke. Maybe we can be allowed to chuckle without writing a thesis justifying our reaction to the rest of the world? If we are going to have any kind of productive dialogue with people who are conditioned from birth to hate us simply because we exist, then we need to face the fact that we’re struggling with a poison of self- hatred that has been insistently and consistently inflicted on us. If we so easily hate ourselves, how much more easily, do you think, it will be for us to hate others? If our own humanity is debased in our own eyes, how much easier would it be to project that debasement onto others? I think this might be a good opening point of a serious conversation. All is not lost, of course. We can educate ourselves and each other, not only about a past that we can be ashamed of, but also one that we can take pride in. We can also learn from the mistakes of the past and actively seek to avoid such mistakes in the future. We can also develop those lessons and improve ourselves as we learn more about who we are and how we relate to the general human family.

Principle 18: A Written Constitution vs. An Unwritten Common Law

This Principle, written by W. Cleon Skousen in his The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle that Changed the World ( pp. 217- 221) explores how the English people gradually came upon the realization that entrusting one’s rights to tradition was insufficient, especially in the wake of the Norman Conquest and in the rise of the notion of the Divine Right of Kings ( Skousen, W. Cleon. ” The 5000 Year Leap,” pp. 217-18). The Anglo- Norman nobility, of course, was the first group to directly demand certain protections and concessions from their King John, in 1215. Under some certain duress, King John signed into law the Magna Carta and ” in that same century, the ‘ Model Parliament’ came into being, which compelled the King to acknowledge the principle of no taxation withut representation” ( p.218). In truth, these were some very important concessions that the later Colonial Americans built on as they took it into their heads to make sure that their rights were detailed and guaranteed in writing, beginning with the Mayflower Compact, written and ratified in 1620 and continuing on through the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut in 1639 ( p.218). The Mayflower Compact was a conventional British document that acknowledged their reigning King James I as their proper Sovereign, but then went to declare that they would form their own political body, pass their own laws and work for the betterment of their colony and the ” advancement of the Christian faith” ( http://mayflowerhistory.com/mayflower-compact). It was an acknowledgement that these people were in a new place and they would fashion their own laws as their circumstances dictated. Their primary interest was centered around their own colony and not the government in Westminster. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, written in 1639 ” had none of the conventional references to a ‘ dread Sovereign,’ or a ‘ gracious King,’ nor the slightest allusion to the British or any other government outside of Connecticut itself… The government of the United States today is in lineal descent more nearly related to that of Connecticut than to that of any of the other thirteen colonies” ( p. 219). This was actually the first written constitution that established an independent government and from which the freedoms we enjoy as Americans today were derived ( p. 219). When we as Americans tried to follow the British example of reliance on tradition and some loosely- connected written legal codes to establish our own rights, the British not only dismissed us, but their parliament ( and King) regarded our protests as treason and they acted accordingly. Our Founders were doubtlessly advancing their own self- interests, but that finally translated into a code, a Bill of Rights that was amended to our Constitution in 1791 that applies to all citizens, regardless of social status ( https://billofrightsinstitute.org/founding-documents/bill-of-rights/). Time and experience teaches us that the rights we enjoy as American citizens today are best safeguarded by a written guarantee and are best expressed as a result of the labors of many cooperating people rather than the expression of a single author ( pp. 220- 21). Our written guarantee is our Constitution, which provides for checks and balances, separation of powers and outlines what the rights and duties are for our branches of government as well as what our rights and liberties are as individual Americans ( https://usconstitution.net/const.html). There are some people today who enjoy these liberties just as much as everybody else, but they believe that the Constitution should be a ” Living Constitution” that should be altered to suit their own agendas, which are usually to curtail individual rights and to expand the rights of the State. The weaknesses of this approach is more thoroughly explored here: https://www.law.uchicago.edu/news/living-constitution. We are at our best when we live by the laws that our forefathers set up in writing without trying to brush off 243 years of the collective wisdom and precedents that have resulted in the creation of the freest society on Planet Earth and by God’s grace, we will certainly remain so without unnecessary interference by those who want to undermine the American way of life.

Hopes and Dreams for 2019

As 2018 sputters to a halt and the dawn of 2019 appears on the horizon, I am minded of many hopes and dreams that I have invested in the coming year. This year has been one of awakening and as a result, it’s been a year of wild discontent. What do my hopes and dreams for 2019 include? #1: Financial Security- I need a job ( a career, really) that will allow me to pay my bills and make my own way in this world. My current job as a retail associate is not only unsatisfying, but after four years of hard work and zero opportunities for advancement, it’s been emotionally heartbreaking and psychologically deadening. I need to go out and live on my own again. #2: Social Life- I love my church and my coworkers are generally pleasant to work with, but every time the day ends, I go home to my green room full of books and walls that have icons on the wall. That is all very well, but it increases the loneliness factor. Few coworkers advance in grade to that of friends and that may be expected, but disappointing. I need to get into a situation where I’m with people who want to socialize with me and who are not forced to just so they can get a paycheck. #3: Romantic Involvement- See social life. I’ve been single for far too long and my eyes might alight on inappropriate situations for a man of my age and experience. Loneliness can greatly cloud and obscure one’s better judgment. I’m sick of being alone, but I won’t settle for another toxic relationship that will end in a period between three months and seven years. #4: Travel- I would like to travel to New York or Boston sometime this year. Most of my travels heretofore have been confined to the South and I am a little curious about what the food and culture of the North is like. #5: Weight Loss- I intend to embark on an exercise regimen that will allow me to lose weight and perhaps develop needed confidence to work for all those things I’ve mentioned earlier. #6: Inner Peace- The turmoil that has built up in me since 2014 has got to go. I’m going to continue in therapy and perhaps increase my meditation. I’ll start expecting more from myself and less from others. These are all realistic goals. I will have to work to achieve them, but I’m willing to do the work. When 2020 comes around, I hope to be a bit more evolved in my thinking and assertive in my attitude.

Principle # 17: Checks and Balances- Nobody likes a Busybody

KindleKindle E-Reader This essay will cover Mr. W. Cleon Skousen’s seventeenth principle as outlined in his book, The 5, 000 Year Leap: A Miracle that Changed the World ( pp. 205- 215). While James Madison and the other framers of the Constitution agreed that the powers of the government should be divided three ways ( Executive, Legislative and Judicial), they also intended that each division should have a system of checks and balances put in place to curb the powers of the other two divisions ( pp. 205- 07). These limitations that each branch of government would impose on the other two branches would function as a guarantee that no one branch would be able to interfere with the proper functions of the other two branches. When the system of checks and balances are actively enforced, this will mean that each branch will be able to perform its specified function while leaving the other two branches free to do toe same. When checks and balances are not actively enforced, then the chain of command is disrupted and the effectiveness of all three branches are weakened ( pp. 207- 08).   The failure of our government in recent years to respect the checks and balances provided by the Constitution has seen the steady erosion of not only the functions of government, but also the confidence of the people in that government ( which is actually meant to answer to them). We see the President pass ” Executive Orders” and the Judiciary bypassing Congress altogether in their eagerness to legislate their own laws, thus rendering Congress ( our supposed ” Legislative” Branch) to be little more than puppets of the Executive and Judicial branches, with little say of their own ( 210). Ultimately, all power is derived from the consent of the people, which is why we send elected officials to Washington, D. C. in the first place. The House of Representatives and the United States Senate serve as the representatives of the people who elected them to their offices and they check each other in the introduction and ratification of laws. The Executive and the Legislature supposedly check each other with built in checks that prevent undue interference of one branch into the other ( pp. 211- 12). The Supreme Court, our Judiciary Branch, has its own system of checks and balances put in place. I would call it the not inconsiderable ” power of review,” to method through which they determine whether or not the laws they are being asked to confirm are actually in accord with the Constitution or not. The Judiciary itself is checked by the Congressional right to remove from office those Justices suspected of abusing their powers and the right to limit the extent of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The President, on his part, may appoint certain qualified Justices to the Supreme Court ( 212- 13).   When the government realizes that its checks and balances have been neglected, there is a provision in the United States Constitution for a peaceful transfer of power to those who would be more diligent in protecting our constitutional government from violations that grow ever more flagrant the longer that damaging issues remain unaddressed. President Nixon was impeached and his cronies charged and in many instances imprisoned because they violated their mandates and sought power that was beyond their Constitutional scope ( 214- 15). To conclude, it’s rather obvious that the government we have now is in serious need of reexamination and overhaul. The decline began during the Clinton administration and has continued at an accelerating pace since. The Constitution of the United States of America is still the Supreme Law of the Land and in that rests our hope for federal reformation and renewal.