Progressivism and Anti-bullying Campaigns

English: A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Be...

English: A Bully Free Zone sign – School in Berea, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bullying is seen as an epidemic in today’s society. There is hardly a day that goes by that a media outlet of some sort does not cover an instance of bullying. Social scientists, psychologists, politicians, and educators place a lot of emphasis on creating programs to eliminate the problem of bullying. How much of a problem is bullying though? I don’t deny the merits that bullying is some kind of problem, but does it deserve the kind of attention we’re now giving it? Is it also possible that the intervention of institutions have only made things worse?

I think it has actually made things much worse. The emphasis we place on school administration, campaigns, and other institutions to stop bullying has only made children more dependent on other entities to solve their problems with other people. Once upon a time, a time too traditional for our taste nowadays, a young boy was taught to stick up for himself. His father and mother assured him that if the school officials got upset with him for defending himself that they would support him in whatever way necessary. This sort of scenario is a shadow of the past though. Schools have a zero-tolerance policy for fighting. What this means is that if you defend your self you can be suspended or even expelled. Parents hardly have any power amongst school officials anymore, but they get what they deserve for turning their children’s education over to government. If you hit somebody for verbally or physically attacking you, you’re told that you’re “no better than the person picking on you.” You’re told that only “neanderthals” act in such ways and you’re certainly not acting like the “bigger man” (whatever that exactly means). These terms suggest that you’re not acting like a good person if you stick up for yourself. What choice do young kids have but to try and walk away from every confrontation they met with other people? They could tattle, er, um, I mean seek help from a qualified official who can deal with their problems for them. Of course you’re only asking for more trouble and continue to lose respect in the eyes of those who are allegedly attacking you. The head researcher of a study at the University of Texas at Arlington, criminologist Seokjin Jeong, is now suggesting that anti-bullying campaigns only increase bullying. Jeong says  “A very disappointing and a very surprising thing. Our anti-bullying programs, either intervention or prevention does not work.” Dr.Stuart Twemlow, a professor of health sciences at University College, London, also agreed with the findings of the study. So, it looks like we may have taught our children not to defend themselves – because that just makes you a meat head – and on top of that our programs actually don’t help them but only make things worse. That seems like a great position for young kids to be in doesn’t it?

Part of the Progressive agenda is to find newer and fresh ways to enhance and perfect society. Of course this isn’t a bad thing in itself. The purpose behind this is to hopefully reach a perfect society. The emphasis on science and mathematics only serves to show that we live in a society guided by a progressive agenda, not that science and math are bad in themselves. These two subjects attempt to solve the problems of all disease and economic woes. Why I wonder? Traditions will be challenged because, while good to some degree, they are not enough; things could always be better. Nobody would seriously disagree with this though. The question is not whether things can conceivably be better but whether things can actually be made better and how much better can we truly make things? The government in a Progressive society becomes an entity which creates programs and campaigns that polices thoughts, words, and deeds that would stymie continual growth. For this reason, we have anti-bullying programs in schools instead of allowing children to deal with their problems with each other in reasonable ways. In so doing, kids grow up passive-aggressive and “non-confrontational”. Those kids that grow up dealing with their problems, vocal about their concerns or issues with others, seem intimidating and aggressive to a majority of young adults who are always looking for someone to deal with their problems for them. It’s no coicidence that we call much of the government and their institutions by the name “Big brother”. My younger sister’s high school, predominantly made up of white kids, just underwent a survey that asked all non-white males (yes, all non-white males were excluded) if they were being treated fairly while they were in school. White males could never be treated unfairly of course.Decades removed from the civil rights era and even further removed from slavery we’re still targeting white males as a serious threat to racial and gender equality. Apparently people who participate in this agenda are still unaware of the racist implications behind these motives.  Again, programs and campaigns are funded in order to defend the “progress” of society from anything of the past that might stymie this progress. Conservatives, not against change in itself, but find that change needs to take account of human nature, have often looked upon principals of the past and their cultural traditions to be conducive to human flourishing. Since on the Conservative view human nature is applicable to all human beings in all instances of time, they usually see no need in reforming things that are true and have worked for societies in the past. The Progressive might admit that things have been good and expedient in the past, but since these things have not brought us to a more perfect civilization, reform is a thing that is constantly needed so we can have better communities and better people in the future, even if that means disregarding what is “true” and what has been expedient for societies in the past.

“Liberals used to have a strong belief in linear progress: in the idea that the world was steadily advancing towards a higher level of civilisation. This idea was clearly expressed, for instance, by the English writer Matthew Arnold in the mid-nineteenth century, when he proclaimed his “faith in the progress of humanity toward perfection.” Liberals today are usually not so optimistic. Nonetheless, the idea of linear progress still exists more subtly in liberal beliefs about the “progressive” nature of social reforms and change, and fears of “stagnation” or “going back”. – Mark Richardson, from his blog Oz Conservative

The point of the above quote is to demonstrate a crucial view of liberals: there is no human nature that is applicable to every person under all instances of time. A human being is a self-determining creature; the purpose of the human is to be as free as possible to follow it’s “creative spirit” and determine what they wish to be. For this reason, gender is seen as a social construct, traditional marriage is seen as oppressive since it implies clear roles for each member of that family that are not determined by the individuals of that family, and culture and race, formed by inherited, chosen qualities are seen as imagined ties rather than “natural” ones (natural being a term that progressives deplore). People must be free to determine and create a self they deem worthy. A Progressive government will create campaigns and programs that will help defend and promote this idea.

Is it consistent with the liberal campaign, which is to promote and protect the “creative spirit” that engenders pure self-determination and self-creation, to tell others they cannot be a specific way, like bullies? No, it isn’t at all consistent. The presupposition for particular programs that protect weaker kids from those who are more powerful, in whatever way that may be, only suggests that there are ways human beings should be treated and this is grounded in what the human person is, not what he wants to be or what he wishes to be. Unfortunately, bullying as defined by our all-knowing government suggests a “power imbalance” and this power balance is seen as the cause of bullying. What if there were no power imbalance? As far as the liberals and their definition of bullying is concerned, there would be no bullying to worry about. This fits neatly with their attempts to equalize everybody. Instead of seeing that their campaign efforts are grounded in an understanding of unchanging human nature, that human beings are a particular way and should be treated in accordance with that understanding, they wrongly see the problems of bullying as a result of inequality, like much of everything else they fight against. As long as someone feels inferior, they are victimized by a “power imbalance”. They’re already predetermined by these conditions to be a particular way. So, we must make all feel equal in every respect, as much as possible, so people are more free to be whatever the wish to be. Our anti-bullying campaigns are not only programs that prevent “teasing”, “picking”, “hurtful words”, etc. , they are programs that help iron out the “power imbalances” of inequality. If you’re a Conservative you should not be pleased that tax dollars are going to fund what now seems like an industry to fight of the “epidemic” that is bullying.

How does this have anything to do with bullying per se? Our Anti-bullying
efforts have done very little, if anything, to stop bullying. As some researchers are suggesting, it actually makes matters worse. Kids grow into flabby adults who are too scared to deal with other people and seem to be in constant need of figures to deal with their problems for them. If someone hurts you, there’s always a person you can run and tell who will make things better for you. No doubt some will be unjustly seen as bullies. How is this progress though? Is it good to be so dependent on the government, it’s institutions, and it’s campaigns? The irony of Progressivism should be obvious here: sometimes the progressives are the very cause of what they try and fight against.

When I was in middle school, a young girl was not permitted by her parents to shave her legs. She was too young to do this, according to her parents. She received the nickname “hairy teddy bear” or something similar to that. It probably wasn’t an easy few weeks having to endure the unkindness of her peers. One night at a football game a young guy picked on her for her unshaven legs. She punched him in the nose and walked away vindicated. He walked away embarrassed with a bloody nose if I remember correctly. Nobody called her by that name again.

I’ll let you decide what the moral of the story is.

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Lawrence Auster and Separationism

Flag of the Nation of Islam. The design of the...

Flag of the Nation of Islam. The design of the flag is influenced by the Turkish flag. Letters on the flag means Justice, Freedom, Equality, Islam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I myself am a separationist. I have been unable to put into words just what this is and means until coming across Lawrence Auster’s remarks about it. Auster says this:

“I subscribe to the now tiny but, I believe, some-day-to-be prevalent Separationist School of Western-Islamic Relations. We separationists affirm the following:

  • Islam is a mortal threat to our civilization
  • But we cannot destroy Islam
  • Nor can we democratize Islam
  • Nor can we assimilate Islam

Therefore the only way to make ourselves safe from Islam is to separate ourselves from Islam.” Auster will go on to make certain suggestions about how this might be done. More interesting is Auster’s unwillingness to use the term “radical Islam”. He never says “Radical Islam is a mortal threat to our civilization”; he  simply says “Islam” is that threat – pure and simple.

I agree wholeheartedly with these remarks. I do not affirm a distinction between “radical Islam” and Islam. There simply isn’t a distinction, unless you consider Isalm as it is increasingly Westernized and diluted the “true form” of Islam (as Liberals are eager to do). It would be strange to consider liberalized, diluted Catholicism as the “true form” of Catholicism, which no serious Catholic would ever do. Catholics are quite aware that there are “nominal” believers that inhabit the Church and you better believe that serious Muslims have the same thoughts about nominal Muslims who aren’t living out their faith with complete sincerity and seriousness. Islam is exactly what history and the Qur’an tells us it is, but we are currently being taught there is a distinction – a distinction like the one already established by  liberalism regarding Christianity – and that distinction is between a “radical” Muslim and a non-radical Muslim. The “radical” Muslim, devoted to Islamic tradition and teachings, is a catalyst for Sharia law and Jihad where ever he may go; he is serious about Islam and sees the world through the teaching and religious traditions of Islam. He is not like Western Muslims who are quick to inherit traditions, philosophies, and cultural norms that do not belong to the history of the Islamic faith. Dabbling and toying with a Western mentality, participating in secular activities, slack to attend Mosque, if ever attending at all, and inheriting a more liberal interpretation of the Qur’an so as to fit in with the spirit of the age are not the features of a good Muslim.

We should notice the similarity in our own culture and country as it pertains to Christianity. Is it not the case that vast amounts of people identify as Christians? Is it not also the case that both Christian and non-Christian are quite capable of identifying those who are Christians and those who are not? Imagine a person (and this is not hard in our day and time) who rarely attends Church, if ever at all, that lives a life contrary to the principles of Christian teachings, adopts a very liberal interpretation of Scripture that fits with the spirit of the age and what you come up with is a nominal Christian – a Christian by name and heritage only, but not in practice (So, not a real Christian). What you get is a person who identifies as a Christian because it’s a part of his heritage to do so, but not because he actually IS a Christian. There certainly is a difference between the religious practitioner and one that only identifies with it culturally and nominally.

Liberals have done an excellent job employing language which sets up a dichotomy between the two. For example, “fundamentalist” Christians – or those who take seriously the words of Christ desperately trying to live in accordance with them – and nominal Christians who show up to church around Christmas and Easter and every once and while post something on Facebook about how wonderful Jesus has been to them lately. As a culture, we tend to like the latter and think of such as “normal Christians” that happen to be more balanced and healthy. We’re not bothered by them, they don’t want to talk about the Gospel, they don’t want to talk about “the truth”, they don’t want to argue about abortion, euthanasia, contraception, etc. The “fundamentalist” or “radical” Christians do those sorts of things and that is precisely why they’re considered radical. Their approach implies that other views than their own can be wrong. Their preaching implies that people are ignorant of certain truths. This cannot be tolerated in a predominately liberal society, because a central feature in liberalism is that everyone is equal, even in thought and belief. Nothing can be more sacred, more valuable, or more true than any other belief. Thus, a religion that suggests others can be wrong in their thoughts and behavior must be “radical” under a liberally dominated society.

Can you guess what the “radical” Muslims are doing for their faith? They’re taking whatever measures they must to implement Sharia Law and convert the world to Islam. Perhaps you can guess why they’re called “radical” by media outlets in our nation? Maybe you can see why our liberal brothers and sisters are quick to identify nominal Muslims with the “true form” of Islam, as they are quick to identify nominal Christians with the essence of a true Christian believer. They do this because these nominal believers, both Christian and Muslim, do not challenge liberal ways of thinking; in fact, they often embrace them.

The problem with this outlook is that it is not consistent with the history, tradition, or teaching of Islam. We must not identify a religion with a group of people who do not even practice it but merely identify with it on a cultural level. Until we can get beyond the false dichotomy of “radical” Islam and a supposed normal, peaceful Islam – the collection of nominal Muslims – that has been established by the left, Separationism will seem absurd. If and when we get beyond the bad dichotomy erected by the Left, it will be more simple to see the danger Islam poses to the rest of the world. Perhaps we will also revisit the true value of Christianity once we stop identifying the nominal Christians with the essence of a true believer.

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“Diversity Training”

Awareness

Awareness (Photo credit: Emilie Ogez)

A couple of months ago I was involved in “diversity training” for a position at my college campus. What is “diversity training”? It’s hard to say exactly. My first impression of this “training” is that it is remarkably similar to a re-education program, not so much a training program. Buzz words like “awareness” are constantly being used to draw the participants mind to the conclusion that we are unaware – or not aware enough – about something. Nobody is ever explicitly told what that is exactly. “We need to be aware” or “Awareness is key” were phrases used frequently. Aware of what though? We’re simply told, over and over, that we need a deeper awareness, presumably of other cultures. Why? Why do I need a deeper awareness of another persons culture?

awareness

awareness (Photo credit: tobias feltus)

Well, it quickly became clear that what I’ve learned through the traditions of my own heritage and culture were simply not enough for me to function as a worthy employee. That’s the point of diversity training, if there was a point at all. If ever I am to reach my full potential, I would need to become aware of other peoples cultures, see the differences in the world, understand the various ways in which people think and what those people believe, and hopefully realize that there is no authentic, absolute truth about anything in reality. A more complete way of living is embracing, not just my own, but also as many other cultures as possible. Only then would I be equipped to perform my duty as an employee in an excellent fashion. I would then be able to see things “from a different perspective”, since my current one is clearly inadequate. “You cannot say another persons culture is wrong.” I was told. Basically, this means that the characteristics of another person (ways of behaving, their beliefs, and social interaction), grounded in a different culture than our own, cannot be subjected to scrutiny and criticism. Subjecting the cultural norms of other people to criticism is the mark of the “unaware”; it is the characteristic of the “untrained”. A community that sees diversity as a pillar or cardinal virtue will disallow the criticism of those things which makes the members of that community diverse (things like beliefs, opinions, religions, ways of socially interacting, ethical views, etc.). A happy, diverse community is full of  diversity trainees, because certainly the training never really ends; they’re a group of people who have no unity but only differences, no tradition but a yearning for newer and fresh ways of seeing the world, no culture of their own but a soup of many different cultures. This is now seen as the best form of community under the guidance of Progressivism. I’ll let you imagine what is typically thought of those people who subject the opinions, thoughts and beliefs others to logical scrutiny.

How is this established? In places like Pakistan or Japan, people have a culture, a language, a common belief, blends of food, ways of treating guests, etc. In America, this is no longer the case. There is not a unity so much any more, like we find in other countries. We have no central language as we once did. English? A central language amongst a people whose primary language is not English is not very diverse of us. Thus, we declare we have no central language. This just means “all language” is our language, whatever that exactly means. In order for there to be a melting pot of culture, the predominant culture of an area must be unearthed and cast aside. This is what we’re currently experiencing in America. Western culture – or white, European culture – has been under attack as imperialistic and oppressive for some time now. It looks out at other cultures and says ‘Things can be better than that; there are better ways to do those sorts of things.” It’s this sort of thinking that flusters diversity trainers (and Liberals), because it suggests that some cultural norms can be wrong, can be subject to criticism, and not all ways of approaching reality are equally valid or valuable. A diversity trainer might say “Listen, if we’re ever going to have a more peaceable workplace (and what she means is really a utopian society) we have to eradicate the causes of discord. It’s this idea that we’re right and they’re wrong that causes problems. We all have to stop thinking this way, and we’re going to make you stop thinking that way! That’s what training is all about!” Drawing the participants attention to how wrong it is to judge other people, their options and beliefs, and their particular way of living life, which is a completely human thing to do(and no, I’m not using the term “judge” synonymously with “prejudice” as most college kids do), is how a predominant culture is disestablished. We tell them “That’s wrong” until they feel bad for thinking that way.  At this point, we’re assured this is all done in the name of tolerance and equality….

“The verbal terrorist, by smearing everything great and ordinary about a people and their institutions, makes them feel that nothing about themselves is legitimate. Once demoralized in this manner, they are ready (much like Louis XVI of France, who was subjected to a similar propaganda barrage) to yield to the Revolution.” – Lawrence Auster

That revolution, in our day and time, is grounded in Liberalism and Progressivim. Those who advocate and support traditional marriage are called bigots, whites who find pride in their culture and question the need for multicultural education are called racists, those who find the traditional structure of a family satisfying are called sexists, and the list goes on…

Liberals are experts with language. They’re are also rhetorical experts, especially our President.They easily persuade people by words alone, because they know the power words have on human emotion and thought, especially when most of them have been poorly educated by the American education system. This is why in diversity training the structure of the presentation is subtle and sublime. Nobody comes flying through the door saying “White people are the greatest cause of racial inequality and have stymied diversity.” No, no! The presentation builds up to this and the participants are invited to identify with the feelings the diversity trainer elicits within them, which is usually guilt.

Here’s a quote from a person who did studies on diversity training programs:

“According to the program’s creator, the statements are designed to provoke a “gut” response that will give the facilitator insight into each employee’s mindset. If any responses “indicate confusion or bias” or seem incompatible with the ideology being presented by the workshop, the facilitators are urged to “waste no time in seeking help from a diversity consultant, corporate attorney or other human resource facilitators.” (Ryan O’ Donnell, The Corporate Diversity Scam)

In some cases, white men have been subjected to racial slurs by their black co-workers. They’ve also been made to run a gauntlet while being groped by females. You know, they need to learn what it feels like to live as a non-white male. I wasn’t subjected to such extreme methods, but I was aware of what was going on during my session. A battery of questions was asked and each of us who answered the question in the positive were asked to stand while those who didn’t were asked to remain sitting. Eventually questions like “Have you ever been discriminated against?” and similar questions were asked. All the minorities stood up. Maybe one white guy stood up but I don’t think he was catching the point of these questions. Eventually, after asking enough questions that showcased how tough minorities have it, the question “Are you proud of your culture?” was then asked. No white person stood up, except the white guy who stood up earlier (still not understanding he wasn’t suppose to). In his defense, he identifies as  Polish and not American. So, it’s easier for him to stand up because this is really more about white Americans than white people in general. By now, feelings of guilt about minorities and their struggles with discrimination was supposed to be elicited in all the whites that were participating. I was just angry that this was actually happening and mandatory to attend. We were then broken up into groups where we asked each other questions about why some of us answered questions in the positive and others in the negative. What was the most striking question? Gasp! Could it be “Why didn’t the white people stand up when they were asked if they were proud of their culture?” One white girl said she was sad about slavery and another white girl said “White people are just boring and there really isn’t anything to be proud of.” The girl who spoke the latter would later go on to identify as a Hispanic, because she “thought there was some Hispanic in her family”.  Being white was just too hard for her, so she pretends to be Hispanic instead. In a perfect world, she could be proud of her heritage and color but we’re not in a perfect world. Well, at least diversity training was successful regarding these two.

Diversity training is not just about enforcing the notion that no culture is wrong – that every culture is equally valid in their beliefs and opinions about reality – but it is also about ensuring that everyone understands that white American culture has been the driving force for oppression, slavery, and suffering of minority groups. White people have thought of their culture as generally the best, they have thought of their beliefs as genuine knowledge, they have claimed to know the truth, and they have thought of their religion as a driving force for goodness. In history, whites have brought their ideas to the doorstep of other nations. Now, it is time for them to be punished for doing so. It is time they feel guilty for doing these things, for thinking they have the “truth”, that they know what is “good”, that they see their culture as adequate and complete. They will be “trained”, along with any other ethnicity who thinks along the same “Western lines”, and they will assimilate into the multiculture. Only then will things be better for us as a society…

Additional articles:

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Is Insanity Really ‘Doing the Same Thing, Over and Over, but Expecting Different Results?”

Insane (2013 video game)

Insane (2013 video game) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hear this quote a lot from various friends. I see it even more on Facebook. I’ve also wanted to briefly comment on this quote for some time but haven’t found the time until today. It is said that insanity is the act of doing something, over and over, but expecting different results. Oddly enough, this really strikes people as profound. I don’t take the definition seriously, and I seriously doubt that everybody who uses this quote does so with complete sincerity (at least I hope not).

The definition is far too narrow to be a good one obviously. Besides that, the definition would qualify a very common act as an insane one: practice. Practice is the act of doing something repeatedly while expecting different results. We obviously desire to acquire a certain skill set don’t we? This is something we didn’t have at the very beginning but with hard work presumably have in the end.

But do any of us really believe that practice is a form of insanity? I’m more inclined to think that “Practice makes perfect.” Imagine how insane it would have been for Dr. King to quit his civil rights campaign simply because the same thing he was doing repeatedly wasn’t ushering in different results. More simply, imagine the person in the gym quitting because the same thing she was doing repeatedly wasn’t ushering in different results? Time and work can pay off though, can’t it? I’m guessing that those who think doing something repeatedly while expecting different results is insane are also those who give up entirely too easily.

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Juror B29: “Zimmerman Got Away With Murder”

George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman (Photo credit: ChrisWaldeck)

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/7/26/juror_b29_says_zimmerman_got_away

One of the Jurors involved in the Zimmerman case has recently said the defendant got away with murder. If this is true, then this juror is pretty crappy. Her responsibility was to take the evidence given to her and make the most accurate deliberation about this case. Instead she voted to acquit the man of the charges, even when she felt like he had committed a terrible crime. Now she is on national news confessing that “he got away with murder”. No, if what you say is true, you let him go. He didn’t “get away”.

I want everyone to carefully read a quote from Juror B29, or “Maddy”:

“I stand by the decision because of the law. If I stand by the decision because of my heart, he would have been guilty.”

How scary! The link above contains the conversation Maddy has with Robin Roberts about her decision to acquit. She states that there was no evidence to convict Zimmerman on the charges of murder, but that she felt he was guilty and wanted him to be convicted for second degree murder. She says Zimmerman was guilty of killing Martin. Of course the case wasn’t about the killing of Trayvon Martin but whether or not Zimmerman murdered Martin. Murder is always a killing, but a killing is not always a murder. Juror B29 would do well to understand this. The fact that Maddy wanted this man convicted of second-degree murder based solely on how she felt is probably the scariest thing I’ve seen revolving around this case. What’s more, it’s very indicative of where we currently stand as a nation. Feelings are the crux and foundations for our decisions. If you feel like a man is guilty of something, then by God he is guilty of it. Thank God we have a system where a person is “innocent until proved guilty”. People like Maddy are why we have such a system in place, because they would convict a person based solely on how they feel. I mean, my God the lady even says the law prevents people from convicting a person if there is no evidence to do so. DUH! Yet, she goes on to say that she felt he was guilty and “got away with murder” (even when there was really no evidence to say he did murder Martin). That’s pretty scary…

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Why are people leaving the (evangelical) Church? Answer: Protestantism is Dying.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/27/why-millennials-are-leaving-the-church/

The above article, like so many others right now, attempts to provide an answer to why many young adults are leaving the church. I venture to guess it isn’t only young adults leaving the church, but a lot of people from different generations. When I was growing up almost everyone I knew, young adults or middle-aged, had some involvement in their local church. Nowadays hardly anyone I personally know attends church regularly (myself included).

I left the Protestant church over two years ago for various reasons, and I’ve been existing in this church-limbo ever since then. I don’t recommend this, because it seriously stymies growth in being Christ like (I know this very personally). One of the main reason I left is that Protestantism practices an anti-intellectualism that Christianity can no longer afford. Unlike Catholicism, Protestantism has generally been perfectly content in avoiding answers that so many people – whether believers or not – have desired an answer to. Catholicism has had much more respect for science and philosophy than Protestants have ever had. Many Catholics have tried assimilating the findings of the scientific community with its theology. For example, Pope Pius XII had this to say about Evolution:

The Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experiences in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.

What we’re told in Genesis is that God created everything. We’re not given a scientific account In Genesis of how God achieved this. Thus, the Pope tells us that as long as we adhere to the dogma that souls are immediately created by God, we’re free to speculate how God created in regards to the material aspect of the human person. What does coming from the earth, or the dust, really mean? The Catholic Church has been quite open to various possibilities so long as it is consistent with the established theology of the Church. This is a far cry from what Protestants are willing to do. Conflict between science and faith aren’t the only issues that signify an anti-intellectualism. Christian apologetics, or a rational defense of the Christian faith, has often been frowned upon by the Protestant community. This is too “man centered” and compels a person to trust in himself rather than God we’re told (even though God created us as rational, intelligent beings). Apologetics can often incorporate a good deal of philosophy, but Protestants have been suspicious of philosophy. Martin Luther, the father of Protestantism, grew exhausted with the Scholastic philosophy of the Medieval era and Church. He thought it relied too heavily on Aristotle and that theologians were too concerned with logic. This sort of thinking has germinated within Protestantism and limped on in various ways ever since Protestantism began. An often misquated passage of Scripture, by Protestant pastors or laymen, is Colossians ch. 2:

Beware lest there be anyone who robs you by means of his philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the elementary principles of the world, and not after Christ

Countless times I’ve been admonished by my fellow Protestant brothers and sisters with this verse. Notice that Paul doesn’t condemn philosophy though. He asks his readers to “Beware”. Now, when you tell someone to beware of something it isn’t necessarily the case that you’re telling them to avoid it completely. Quite the contrary, you might be telling them to pay especial attention to it, because it could very well hurt the. Paying special attention to these philosophies would surely entail understanding them. Also notice how Paul says philosophy that depends upon men and “not after Christ”. So, it is possible that philosophy, grounded and consistent with Christ’s teaching, is completely find for believers to engage in. Thus, not all philosophy would in fact be bad.

I could go on and on about this issue, but I won’t; I’ll simply end by saying that Protestantism, with all its anti-intellectual tendencies, has fostered in this notion of “faith” as being this power someone possess that helps them believe in otherworldly things that can’t be grounded in reason or even supported by reason. So, trying to provide reasons for faith is absurd for a lot of Protestants (but not all believe this). The truly faithful, then, are those who don’t question, don’t get muddled in the things “of the world”, and strive towards a more intense subjective experience with the Lord. Churches have brought in newer forms of worship, like coffee house ambiance, electric bands, hip environments, to engender and promote this experience. Instead of the gospel we get an inspirational story from the pastor with long hair, ray ban sunglasses, and flip-flops. Keeping the feeling that believers often say they have during worship alive is the goal of a lot of Protestant pastors today and they’ve taken great strides to keep people on this “high”. Anything else is simply a distraction from this. Politics, philosophy, science, etc. We’ve all met believers who are like this haven’t we? None of these things is necessarily bad, but the more “faithful” we become (and I think this view of “faith” is wrong), the more detached from others we become. So, we begin to seem real unrealistic and out of touch with others. Messages like “Who is Jesus to you?”, “What is faith for you?”, and even “What is salvation to you?” become in vogue. The implication here is that your relationship with God is radically subjective; therefore, yours. So, these pastors who tell you that you shouldn’t be living this way, or doing this, or doing that are over-stepping their boundaries. They’ve kind of created their own monster, because if these things are reinforced people naturally begin to ask themselves: “Why do I need to even go to this building to worship? What does the preaching of this man matter to me and my faith? These are personal experiences of other people and their relationship with God. These aren’t my experiences or feelings.” So, people begin to develop their own ways of worshiping, without the guidance of pastors, without the order of a tradition, without looking to those before them, and developing a negligence for dogmas of those before them (because those were based on other peoples experiences with God, not their own). Fostering this radically subjective experience in the church has thwarted the need for a communal worship centered around observing established traditions and dogmas, because these things aren’t our experiences and feelings we have with God. Protestant pastors have done this to themselves and they have nobody else to blame.

It’s no surprise why we’re now seeing articles like the one at the top of this page, and so many other articles for that matter, push for things that this or that person wants. “I want to see the LGBT lifestyle accepted in the church”, “I want to hear less talk about hell and sin”, “I want the church to get with the times”, “I want to see other avenues of worship accepted in the church”. You see, when a persons feelings and experiences becomes the locus of worship their wants that flow out of this become paramount. They demand that these be recognized by the faith communities around them. So, Protestantism either compromises, which is something it has been doing for some time now, or it repents and turns back to tradition and established theology (in effect, telling everyone they’re subjective experiences amount to pretty much nothing, if they’re not in line with the teaching of the Church). Kind of a sticky dilemma Protestants are in, because I don’t see a lot of the Protestant churches telling their communities this anytime soon. So, people like me, people who believe in objective truths, the authenticity of Scripture, the history of theology, and want to know more and more about this religion, begin to walk away because the pastors are basically inviting us to create our own personal faith instead of teaching us about these aforementioned things. I walked away from it because I know if that’s all there is to faith, my own subjective design, I might as well be doing whatever the hell I want to be doing. Whatever finds its origins in my feelings and tastes is not a reality outside of myself. How real can it be, then? The entire presupposition of Christianity is that I need to conform to a standard that I did not design. Why, then, are we teaching the exact opposite from the pulpit of so many Protestant churches?

Beyond this, the Protestants have mishandled the nature of the church. Church is not a hospital for sinners. I’m so tired of hearing that. The church is the home of the righteous – those being made righteous in Christ. The church is for the edification, education, and discipline of believers. It is a community of believers that should hold one another accountable. It is a place where we reconcile with the Lord. It is a place where we give thanks and praise to the only Being in the Universe that deserves it.

We’ve made a place where we “get people saved”, but bringing the gospel to people belongs to the office of Evangelism. Evangelism brings the Gospel to others. Educated and disciplined believers – mature believers – can go out and make disciples. The Church should be a place where believers are perfected and as believers are perfected people outside the Church will be loved and spoken to about Christianity. The problem with viewing the church as a place to “get people saved” is that believers suffer because they’re not becoming more of a disciple. They’re not getting the education and training they need to be more Christ – like. Further, when people “get saved” they become like the rest of the church. Ignored! They suffer the same re-hashed messages every Sunday and witness the same invitation to come to the alter. So, you get a bunch of people saved, but none of them are discipled or educated in their beliefs. I mean, in my experience of all the religious people in the world the Christians are the most ignorant of their own beliefs. A lot of Protestant churches can afford to do this though, because they focus on subjective faith. They just leave people to their own devices while they continue to focus on “getting people saved” and keeping that “conversion high” going (but again, nobody is growing in their faith). If the church and its leaders are viewed as a “hospital” and “doctors”, then members that attend aren’t going to do very much to help outside the church except extend invitations to people to join in one Sunday morning so they can “get saved”. They clearly see the leaders of the church as responsible for showing the love of Christ and preaching the Gospel, but not themselves.

Still, because a lot of Protestants believe in a “once saved, always saved” doctrine today, they view their salvation as a one time event. “I was saved last Tuesday” or “I was saved in the winter of ’73”. When salvation becomes a one time event that forever belongs to the person who has it, it’s easier to ignore the saved in favor of the lost. What you get is a community of stagnant, uneducated believers.

These are two of the major issues, in my opinion, as to why people are walking away from the Protestant church. People are looking for something outside of themselves and they want to grow in this. People want to understand their faith, and they want to be confident in it. Generally, the leaders of the Protestant church are not providing this for it’s members. As people leave, or as the church continues to comprise for the wants originating out of a radically subjective faith, it begins to disappear into something else.

But some compromises can be lethal.

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Vatican Offers Indulgences Through Twitter: Can’t Seem to Let Go of Embarrassing Past

Pope Francis met with media

Pope Francis met with media (Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales))

Pope Francis, who is thought to be the “simple” or “humble” Pope, is now offering indulges through his Tweets. Yes, now we can purchase some good ole’ indulgences by simply following the “humble” Pope’s Tweets. This really makes one wonder what “humble” means, because to suggest your Tweets have the power to erase time in Purgatory isn’t very humble in my opinion. They are Tweets for goodness sake! Are we seriously thinking of taking 500 years worth of steps backwards? Then again, maybe I don’t know what humility really means.

I’ve always thought of this tradition – the tradition of indulgences – as a way to arouse fear in people rather than providing a good reason to do anything. It’s like telling people “If you don’t believe in Jesus, you’re going to Hell.” That’s really not a good, logical reason to believe in Christ. People who start off believing in Christ for that very reason usually end up walking away, because their fear exhausts them over time. They never experience the love or mercy of Christ, because they were converted through fear and this fear is the very source of their belief. Their relationship with the Divine is more like an insurance policy to stay out of hell. People are rational, so they deserve a chance to make a rational decision based on whatever reasons a person gives them. Scaring the hell out of them- or, scaring the hell into them perhaps – isn’t respecting what the human person really is (although, there is a place for emotion in persuasion…it just can’t take the place of reason). The idea of indulgences is very similar in my opinion. This was also the source of the Protestant Reformation initiated by the Catholic monk, Martin Luther. Let us not forget that fact…ever. The Catholic Church abused it’s adherents with indulgences and it is an embarrassing past now rearing its ugly head again apparently.

Catholicreference.net says this about superstition:

The term “superstition” more commonly means unbecoming worship to God. When superstition arises from false devotion, it is really superfluous worship of God, which may take on a variety of forms. Their common denominator is an excessive concern that unless certain external practices, such as multiplication of prayers, are performed God will be displeased. When superstition stems from a tendency toward magic, it reflects a false mentality that may or may not be the root of false devotion. Behind the false mentality is the notion that certain ritual practices, such as chain prayers or veneration of unapproved objects, carry with
them an efficacy that is contrary to sound reason or the teaching of the Church.

Might I add that “unless certain Tweets be read” God will be displeased and you may end up spending more time in Purgatory sounds a bit superstitious as well? Look, I’m not suggesting all indulgences are superstitious by nature; however, when the Church tell it’s believers that climbing the Sacred Steps erases seven years off a persons time in Purgatory, or reading “Holy Tweets” issued by the Pope can knock of some time in Purgatory, or touching and wearing certain trinkets can do the same, I’m inclined to think this is a bit superstitious.

But how can I be sure that I even have seven years in Purgatory to knock off? Better safe than sorry, huh?  How does the Church determine which objects of veneration are approved and which objects are unapproved? I would really like to know how the Sacred Steps are something that can knock of some time in Purgatory. Who decides something like that and how is it done? I don’t suppose that the Sacred Steps were very Sacred until Christ walked up them, so one can assume that the fact Christ walked up them is what makes them Sacred. I suppose, then, the Sacred nature to the steps is what erases time off in Purgatory if we walk them as well? Christ dwelt in the world, though. He was of the species “human being”. My guess is that these things haven’t been deemed “Sacred” in the same way a pair of arbitrary steps have been. This is what confuses me though: Why Steps, or Tweets, or John the Baptists severed head (or maybe some Saints toenail), or perhaps wearing silly trinkets? Why not the species “human being”, or the fact the we dwell in the world, or that we wear sandals. These are things attributed to Christ. Why aren’t these things “Sacred”? Why don’t these things get me time off in Purgatory?

Further, why should I want time off in Purgatory? Catholics have made strides to show that Purgatory isn’t primarily about suffering, but that is it about being made complete and whole before a Holy God. My going to Purgatory in the first place means that there is a certain degree of incompleteness that needs to be made up before entering into the presence of a Holy God. My being in Purgatory, then, is directly tied to a time frame that is needed to make me complete. How, then, can I erase any of that time? Time that is needed to be made complete and whole before a Holy God? More precisely, if at the point of death there is a certain degree of incompleteness to me as an existing thing, or a lack of perfection to my nature, isn’t there a time frame needed to complete what is lacking in me? How, then, shall I erase it and still think I can be made complete without the time that is needed to be made complete?

I like what St. Thomas has said about superstition:

St. Thomas Aquinas: “Accordingly superstition is a vice contrary to religion by excess, not that it offers more to the divine worship than true religion, but because it offers divine worship either to whom it ought not, or in a manner it ought not.”

The phrase “in a manner it ought not” should be paid attention to here, because indulgences seems to do just that. “Sacred Steps”, “Holy Tweets” from the Pope, and other trinkets Catholics feel obligated to wear for less time in Purgatory seems more like a hindrance than genuine worship.

Love the Lord with all your heat, soul and mind. Feed the poor. Love and know truth. Help others. These are the goals of Christian living. Indulgences are a selfish pursuit. Our good deeds become tied to “getting time off in Purgatory” rather than being genuine deeds for the good of another. If Purgatory is a real place, and a place we all go because none of us are so perfect and complete at the point of death, then a certain frame of time is tied into however incomplete we are at the point of death. Doing things to alleviate this time seems impossible, but more importantly it takes time away from living a more Christ like life (which is something we all need to be doing more of each day). We can’t die to self if the reason for our good deeds originates out of the worry of our self. Indulgences seems to reinforce this. But isn’t this what Christ asked us not to do?

Maybe I’m wrong about these things, because I’ve just recently began a serious inquiry into Catholicism (which I’m quite fond of by the way), but when I read that following the Pope’s Tweets erases time in Purgatory I’m immediately suspicious.

http://m.guardiannews.com/world/2013/jul/16/vatican-indulgences-pope-francis-tweets

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