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Volume 11, Issue 1: Anvil

Son of Snake Oil

Douglas Wilson

We got so much mail on that last editorial that one would have thought it was about the moribundity of the PCA.

This was not really planned; we did not know that alternative medicine was such a hot topic with our readers. But having read all the mail, I have to confess that I remain unrepentant—the quality of the mail being more than a little erratic, and a little less than compelling. But volume certainly compensated for every other failing.
Before I shut up on this thing, allow me just a few more observations. These observations will probably just whack the hornets' nest again, but at least I mean well.
Of course such disagreements should never be a "fellowship issue"-harmony between Christians must not be hindered because of differing medical practices. At the same time, the thing should remain an issue. Because we are committed to the task of bringing all things under the lordship of Jesus Christ, this must include our approach to health issues. On this subject, given the current disagreements, we should see that debate is necessary.
So in the same spirit shown by Paul when he wanted to go into that theater in Ephesus, allow me to add some concerns to those expressed in the previous and still unretracted editorial.
First, a suspicion is growing in my mind that too many people spend too much time and energy thinking and talking about their health. Why is it self-centered to spend a lot of time talking about my car, say, but acceptable to talk about my aches and pains, and what Vitamin B did for them? The mail we received, quite apart from their arguments, revealed an unhealthy level of interest in health. And this cannot be fixed through appeals to "holism."
Secondly, on issues like this imperialism is necessarily unwise. A lot of problems could be solved if we simply allowed people to make their own choices, and seek out their own counsel. Crusading offers of various remedies and practices that are thrust on folks are more unsettling than they are helpful. Debate in a public forum is good; taking a young, pregnant wife aside and giving her an unsolicited pitch is not.
And third, uneducated dogmatism is always unattractive. I am sure this will be misunderstood, but it must still be said. For example, enormous confusion swirls around words like "natural" and "chemical." But learning matters. Careful and logical distinctions matter.


 

Making Sense of the Public-Private Schism

By Douglas Jones

Apparently we all agree that one's private life has absolutely no connection to one's public office. The two don't touch or interact; what's private is purely private-a submarine's light completely closed off from the dark ocean outside.

Obviously this is too false to refute, despite how it currently serves as a holy axiom in the establishment media. Such thinking is so alien to biblical thought that it highlights the clash between belief and unbelief. Christianity assumes that the private molds the public, for out of the heart flow the "issues of life" (Prov. 4:23). If you can't keep simple marriage vows, you're public vows are automatically suspect.
How could one think otherwise? That's my question. What assumptions make such a dichotomy rational? How could feminists defend Bill Clinton?
The theatre suggests one answer. The private-public dichotomy becomes quite rational within the world of acting. An actor's private life has no moral connection to the life of the fictional character portrayed. An actor can be a wretch in real life and yet play a missionary. Private life and fiction have no necessary connection. The dichotomy makes perfect sense in the theatre. In fact, to suggest that an actor's own adultery makes King Lear one too is absurd.
Perceiving politicians as actors isn't old name calling. Advocates of the private-public dichotomy assume the politics-as-theatre model in positive light. The question then becomes, how can modern unbelievers so easily assume that public life is fictional life?
The answers lies in the bowels of modern pragmatism. Pragmatism eliminates the life of the inner person as unnecessary and hopeless. All that counts are results, and you can't change the inner man, so you just force the externals. Politicians recognize the depravity of man and the unchangeability of the heart. And then they give up.
If you can't change citizen hearts, all you can do is push and prod them like cattle. Career politicians are people who have long ago given up hope on human hearts. Think about it. They have dedicated their entire lives to changing the world without changing the inner life. The tools of State can do nothing else. Inner life means nothing in pragmatism. And in that fantasy world, politicians can't be anything but actors.

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