I couldn’t have been more than ten when my grandma passed away. I remember her, wasted away, lying on her bed in an aging manufactured home, with an IV in arm, dying of cancer. By that point she’d been so saturated with morphine that conversation was impossible, slurred speech uttering impossibilities and hallucinatory babble, a loving old woman’s mind worn with the onslaught of opiates and an ever-increasing, inescapable misery. I can think of many words to describe the scene, mostly tragic; but brave is certainly not one of them. And unlike so many organizations and people frequently do, I wouldn’t dare use the word brave to describe anyone dying of AIDS, or anyone else battling cancer, or any other person suffering from any other sort of disease, however warm I may appear by doing so. We may perhaps call them stoical, recognizing that certain smile in the face of adversity, and comparing them with the renowned Roman ascetics; but to call them brave is neither fair not true. (more…)
21. April 2013
17. March 2013
Editor’s note: a version of this article appeared on The American Thinker, but was so badly mangled and inferior to the original, I request that the reader — if he has any appreciation of my writing — please read this version either instead, or as well.
Look closely at those two words, heritage and destiny, dear reader, and see at once two concepts entirely different, and yet intimately connected: the former, what we have been, and the latter, what we will be — and yet, if we simply describe heritage as what we have been, the latter, what we will be, risks much loss. (more…)
3. January 2013
One of the best things about being a Christian is that when all the stupidity, all the evils, all the ignorance of the world become so overwhelming, that you don’t feel like you can take it, it’s then you feel something like a tap on a shoulder, and something like a voice behind you, asking “passing through?”
If I may answer briefly, Sir, I am. And thank you for that. Goodbye anger, goodbye sorrow; you were mine for a bit, a pair of ugly lovers. But I think I’ll be leaving you where you belong.
30. September 2012
To my right lies a book written by hymn writer and philosopher Isaac Watts, a textbook once used at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, and Yale for generations, to train men in the art of reason. It opens thusly:
The pursuit and acquisition of truth is of infinite concernment to mankind. Hereby we become acquainted with the name of things both in Heaven and earth, and their various relations to each other. It is by this means we discover our duty to God and our fellow-creatures; by this we arrive at the knowledge of natural religion, and learn to confirm our faith in divine revelation, as well as to understand what is revealed. Our wisdom, prudence, and piety, our present conduct and our future hope, are all influenced by the use of our rational powers in the search after truth. (more…)
22. September 2012
300 pages into Ludwig von Mises’ economic masterpiece, Human Action, and I’ve found myself stopping for air. I’m not fatigued, as I was 300 pages into John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion; I’m not confused, like I was in the last portion of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. Mises is a mastermind, too interesting and fresh to find tedious (though Calvin is mostly enjoyable), and far too clear and concise to be confusing. No, Human Action is one of the most profound books I’ve ever read. My momentary pause has far less to do with Mises’ difficulty, and far more to do with his spiritual emptiness: he must be read in segments because my soul buckles under the total burden of his meaninglessness. (more…)
31. August 2012
Plutarch once noted the great displeasure of Emperor Augustus, upon the latter’s witnessing some wealthy foreign women in Rome. Carrying puppies and baby monkeys, caressing the animals as they would have their own children, the women inspired Augustus to protest, and with snideness fit for an emperor, he spoke: what kind of people, he asked, would waste motherly affections upon animals? (more…)
19. August 2012
Can the state ever really make men good?
In recent months, this author has been accused of blasphemy by one of his intellectual friends, allegedly over the above political question. But though the question is simple, and the accusation upon first glance appears to be an isolated case, the charge upon further inspection assails far many more than myself, and comprises a collision between two very different, but often improperly defined, doctrines: those of the Christian libertarian and the Biblical conservative. It is this theological and political collision which I seek to explain, should the reader bear with me. (more…)
25. June 2012
In the present day and age, no political passion surpasses that exchanged between sexual liberals and sexual conservatives. Even within the buildings known as Christian churches, division permeates an already splintered people into smaller shards, the whispers growing into shouts, indignant people preaching sermons which do little to convince, and much more to infuriate. And when both sides reach that fevered pitch, what are we to decide? Aren’t we to call every sinner to Christ? What authority do Christian standards have beyond the church? And if God judges the nations, what kind of law does He call us to support? (more…)
26. April 2012
If one has spent any serious amount of time talking about politics with his neighbors, he’s sure to have heard someone say that “we all want the same things.”
At first the saying seems benign, a somewhat understanding and peaceful approach to political conversation, a suggestion that despite disagreement, neither party is evil, nor any countryman an enemy. But in reality, behind the mask of camaraderie and tolerance, and perhaps even deeper than the intentions of its professors, lies an ideology extremely harmful to society at large. For evils don’t often manifest themselves in total opposition to any universally positive quality. Instead, persuading with a charming tone and appealing oftentimes to the same qualities which noble men hold dear, they simply rearrange the manner in which those qualities take precedence over one another. (more…)
28. February 2012
In a world of political slander and misrepresentations both purposeful and accidental, there are few insults less ridiculous than those pertaining to “Christian Sharia,” or, rather, that the logical conclusion of a Biblical legal stance is Arabic despotism. One doesn’t have to look far back in history to see that many figures (if not most) crucial to the establishment of classical liberalism, as well as to the foundation of the United States of America, proclaimed without hesitation that law itself, if it was ever to be just, must agree with the legal principles contained in Scripture or be opposed. (more…)
28. December 2011
America, though often derided and hated — perhaps not explicitly, but silently — by the left, oftentimes experiences the opposite problem from its most ardent admirers, the conservatives. In its admiration, perhaps condensed most perfectly into what is known as the American Dream, men elevate a nation into idolization because the nation elevates men. One does not have to look far to see that in American literature, in the movies, in even the world of politics, Americans believe on a sincere level that in the United States, opportunity can be had by all who truly seek it, and that for this reason it is worthy of glorification. (more…)
3. December 2011
In the world of politics, there are perhaps fewer psychological weapons better disguised than a so-called charitable cause. For though at first some causes appear to be rooted in goodness, in empathy, and in mercy, they can oftentimes be vehicles not only to safely advance causes which many find morally offensive, but also tools to silence opponents without the perils of argument. And in this brand of political warfare, there perhaps exists no greater weapon than the fight against AIDS. (more…)
31. August 2011
One of the most important questions facing civilization, not only in light of the savagery of London’s riots, but in all of history, is how civilization defines barbarism. (more…)
14. August 2011
The other day, as I was on my way to work, I was driving through a relatively empty parking lot. Being in somewhat of a hurry, I was trying to save as much time as possible, taking the route in which I had expected the least amount of traffic and cruising over speed bumps. But as I moved quickly to my destination, and a young woman crossed in front of me, a wave of impatience smothered my sensitivity and urged me to continue at my same pace. Surely she can speed up, I thought. And she did: I did not slow down. (more…)
11. July 2011
In John Stuart Mill‘s most influential and widely read work, On Liberty, he defended what he considered to be one of the most important pillars of any successful society, liberty of thought, and consequently of speech. And it is plain from reading On Liberty that Americans have taken his suggestions quite seriously, not only supporting legislation to protect speech from governmental prohibition, but also instituting laws which protect against the so-called tyranny of private opinion. But has this endeavor actually promoted discussion and rationality, or has it actually suppressed both? (more…)
25. June 2011
It has been said, by persons such as Abraham Lincoln, that the cause of tyranny can oftentimes be mistaken for and promoted as the cause of liberty. If this is the case, then Americans must concern themselves most seriously with understanding what liberty is, and also what it is not.
John Stuart Mill, in what is perhaps his most famous and influential work, On Liberty, helped build the foundation for a modern understanding of freedom, one which an overwhelming number of Americans support. In doing so, he argued that for a society to be properly liberated, its citizens must be guaranteed freedom of thought and speech, liberty of tastes and pursuits, and freedom of association. Yet, expressly recognizing in the first chapter of On Liberty that these liberties were too radical without certain restrictions, he sought the boundaries within which they should exist. And by setting those particular boundaries, like so many of his followers on both the left and right do today he unwittingly destroyed the foundation for the liberty he sought in the first place. (more…)
27. March 2011
Of the many difficult questions a person can ask about the rights of man, one of the toughest is whether the people of a country are ever their own supreme authority. To err toward an absolute “yes” or “no” seems to lend credibility to a variety of atrocities, and trying to strike a balance between the two extremes can plunge the answer into useless subjectivity. But a good answer is readily available for those who concern themselves with sound principles. (more…)
15. March 2011
Most people in the West agree that a human should not be subject to cruel and unusual punishment, as maintained by our eighth amendment and supported by an overwhelming number of Americans. But is it possible that the process of defining “cruel and unusual” has done Americans more harm than good? To understand whether or not this is the case, it is imperative to consider the concept of war, the purpose of law, and then eventually examine the unalienable rights which all human beings possess.
John Locke once described man’s natural rights as being the right to work for his food, to enjoy the products of his labor, and to live within the positive laws of Scripture (Second Treatise, sects 135 and 136). But since man cannot survive without the right to property and to secure the benefits of his labor, an assault on these rights is an assault on survival, an act Locke recognized as a declaration of war. He wrote of the matter, (more…)
7. March 2011
The other day, I greatly offended an Arabic associate of mine. During a conversation about the social contract, I tried to use an example of a group forming themselves into a nation, and I had begun the example with the statement, “suppose that a group of people like you were to get together, and decide to build your own country, with your own laws.”
His objection to my statement was that Christians and conservatives oftentimes enjoy separating themselves from everyone else, that we believe that people like him are not part of our group, that we in essence discriminate. In this particular instance, I referred to him as people like you, leading toward an idea and an effect which I had not intended. Why, he asked, could we not just all be considered human, and on the same team? (more…)
4. January 2011
Must an increase in empathy signal a decrease in law?
Let us consider, for a moment, that someone has wronged you by stealing your car. When the person is caught by police, you have the option to press charges, but then discover that your neighbor–whose wife is dying from cancer, after they both lost their jobs–stole your car out of desperation to rush to meet her in the hospital, since he thought she was about to die. Begging your forgiveness with tears in his eyes, the man sinks to his knees in court, clasps his hands together, and looks at you directly. At this moment, moved with compassion, in an act of mercy you allow the man to walk free.
Compassion, then, is our friend. A placing of ourselves in the shoes of others, imagining their hardship and deciding–in some particular instance, to side with them, to recognize that had you been in their position, you would have been desperate as well. And this empathy, in many cases, is noble. (more…)
19. September 2010
It’s no secret that most of the secular public enjoys labeling Christians (serious Christians, anyway) as irrational, backward, and dangerous. Ever since the Enlightenment, humanity has increasingly become its own god, replacing the West’s foundational religion, Christianity, with reason. Supposedly, this transfer of sanctity is supposed to beget a golden age of unprecedented civility and creativity, unhindered by the archaic bondage of religion, progressing our species into a liberated utopia in which every man would be his own king. But secular rationalists–meaning, those who rely on mankind’s rationality as the sole source of morality and social advancement–are not being fair: under their own standards of humanist evolution, even the process of secular rationality fails to achieve its own goals. (more…)