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Volume 8, Issue 2: Anvil

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right . . .

Douglas Wilson

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right . . . The preacher wrote that the wise man's heart inclines to the right, but the fool's heart to the left. Well, mebbe .

Biblical Christians, who think in terms of right and wrong, up and down, are increasingly called upon to be involved in a culture which is divided between right and left, and which defines virtue accordingly. This creates an interesting problem. The duty of politically-involved Christians is to communicate God's truth in the civil realm, and this cannot be done effectively if we spend any portion of our time making excuses for, or hanging out with, loons.
A recent example of the need to think preventively on this issue is seen in the case of Larry Pratt, the former co-chair of Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign. As you no doubt already know, he had attended meetings also attended by various kinds of white supremacists, who were scattered thickly about. For those who do not know how to identify a white supremacist event, this is best done by seeing if "Nice tooth!" can be used as an effective pick-up line.
Now since the accusations were made, Pratt has convincingly demonstrated that he is in no way a racist. He is a member of the Congress of Racial Equality, as well as Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. He is a PCA elder in a church which has a black pastor. Twenty percent of his employees are black or Jewish. So the issue is not whether Pratt is racist or anti-Semitic. Of course he is not. We do not question his motives or intentions. But the issue is whether he set himself up for the slander by attending goofball events.
Not everyone who attended Louis Farrakan's rally in Washington was a certified head case. But everyone who attended without attacking it deserves to be called one. In the same way, when decent Christian men (like Pratt) attend events populated by the flotsam and jetsam of the white race it should be for no other reason than to confront them with their sin, and present the gospel.
We call upon every Christian who risks being called a racist bigot (and what good Christian today doesn't run such a risk?) to behave in such a way that makes all such accusations ludicrous as soon as they are made.
time has come for politically-involved Christians to stop "yeah, butting" with regard to the fringe which may be closest to them. Our reaction to sin on the right should be the same as our reaction to all sin. We must assault it with the zeal of Josiah.
The great need is for the church to maintain our fire on the secular left, and open fire on the secular right.


 

Dissent on Literacy

By Douglas Jones

The president recently proposed a two billion dollar program to improve literacy by training students in the use of the telephone . Well, something like that. A recent poll found that seventy percent of government school teachers favor teaching children about telephones rather than bothering them with the classics. Well, not exactly.

Both of these are true, if you just replace the word telephone with computer . But that is no gaping chasm of difference. All the hype and sweat about the necessity of computer literacy neglects the fact that computer technologies are always rushing toward cabbage simplicity, like the telephone. If someone proposed spending billions on telephone literacy, they would be hospitalized. Unless your apprenticing to become a programmer, computer "literacy" at present may take a day or two tops, but that time period will shrink quickly. Within a decade, even keyboards will be obsolete and side skills like typing will become as quaint as Model-T cranking skills.
The president of the NEA defended the poll above, explaining that "I think teachers believe they have a lot more students in their classrooms who will have jobs that require dealing with computers than with reading the classics. We have to prepare these kids to get jobs." This is the valiant cry of cultural defeat. It not only prepares students to fail; it assumes that computer mastery is the same kind of discipline as real world thinking.
Mastering computer know-how is much like mastering chess. Both are basically structured, gaming skills. The skill has its place, but it's a very different discipline from that used in a more rigorous development of knowledge and discernment.
I've seen people who are frightening masters of chess and other games, but who couldn't carefully draw a crucial distinction or defend a simple argument, if they were being threatened with a red-hot poker. And I've seen brilliant minds—men in the tops of their fields -- who are hopeless at chess and other game skills. The two aren't automatically connected, and we are being cruel taskmasters to our young if we assume that computer mastery will slide them through the back door of rigorous thinking.
A twisted commitment to computer literacy is like the quest for cheap grace. It is easy to get and helpful to have for a while, but it will not weather the important battles.


 

The Progressive's Fundamentalism

By Douglas Jones

Sometimes I wonder whether non-Christians get out very much. For all our stupidity as evangelicals, we at least are forced via the majority around us to have to think about non-Christian takes on life. But non-Christians rarely surface in orthodox Christian waters, and when they do, they react like they have discovered living dinosaurs -- "a Christian political theory!?!"—as if Christians haven't been doing this sort of thing for nearly two millennia.

The most pervasive proof that non-Christians don't get out much is their very narrow inability to step outside of their own worldview. Their criticisms almost always assume that their view is true and that Christianity is false i.e.,—they constantly beg-the-question.
When Christians reject some non-Christian view because it runs contrary to Christian standards, all sorts of bells and whistles explode. If Christians argue that some non-Christian view is false because Christianity teaches otherwise, no opponent finds that appeal very persuasive. So what? is the reply. But that sort of uninteresting, question-begging criticism is the main course of non-Christian criticism of Christianity, and non-Christians rarely ever see why their criticisms don't even hit their target.
An interesting example of this appears in a recent issue of The Progressive, a long-time statist political monthly. In it, Andrea Wood of Princeton responds to critics who opposed her posting the comment "F--- Leviticus 20:13" on her message board. She argues, among other things, for the unashamed beauty of homosexuality and the need to openly and angrily disrespect certain evil views (incest, genocide, Christianity) for the sake of humanity.
She argues at one point, "Too often, when a deep religious faith is taken to absolutes, this faith becomes one of the most destructive social forces: dogmatism. . . . We must not be willing to take spoon-fed, abstract tenets for granted before we use our own minds to adjust them to our everyday experiences."
She not only fails to recognize her own deep dogmatism regarding homosexuality and her bold absolutism in actively disrespecting opposing viewpoints, she also just assumes that Christianity is false: if it is true, then it is the most constructive and realistic approach.
Her whole essay betrays an ignorance of how worldviews work, especially her own. Like an autism which judges everything on its own terms, non-Christians can rarely recognize how their criticisms can work only if their worldview is true. But that is the core of the debate. Which view is true?

So, as a start toward less narrow discussions, please, Andrea, at least raise objections that matter. Try to raise objections which show that an opposing view fails on its own terms, not your terms. We'll do the same. I think you will be shocked to find out how much better Christianity can account for value and rationality. But your non-Christian fundamentalism only stifles debate.


 

A Dime's Worth of Difference, Factored for Inflation

By Douglas Wilson

This is where we stand. When a thief destroys what he has stolen, and he has stolen far more than he can pay back in restitution, the situation is grim, to put it mildly. We want a political solution to this because we want a political solution for everything. But we are far past that point, and the plethora of photo-op maneuvers are only to enable the various participants to blame the other guys plausibly when it all comes down. And it will come down.

The Republicans have made a great deal of noise and thunder about their balanced budget, but when the countercharges start to fly, they hasten to assure us that in their balanced budget, expenditures on such things as Medicare will actually go up . This is exactly right, and it does demonstrate that the Democrats are accuracy-impaired, but it also demonstrates that the Republicans are no more interested in a constitutional budget than the Democrats are.
The central issue is not whether or not the books balance, although the folly of refusing to balance them will certainly catch up with us. But the idiocy of running the country with money that isn't there is an idiocy which did not arrive in our midst ex nihilo . It has a daddy and mommy.
We must come to understand where it comes from. The problem is found in the fact that our solons do not understand the budgetary constraints assigned them in the Constitution.
Suppose the feds created a program wherein uniformed personnel were charging around the country giving everybody backrubs. And suppose further, that our federal budget was balancedthe backrubs were all paid for with real money! Balanced or not, it would still be lawless.
Such a budget would be objectionable because it would be an unconstitutional budget. We do not care if it is paid for; we care whether we should have paid for it. If your wife came home with a new macrame' swag lamp, it wouldn't matter if there had been money in the checkbook.
You would still have something to say about it.

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