Friday, November 27, 2020

The chilling effect of censorship

Social media in and from America has begun to flex its muscle that some always feared it could, but always trusted to restrain itself from excessive use of power.

It seems the era of President Donald Trump has pushed them over the edge. The dam broke, and now it's an all-out battle over information and the truth.

If Twitter can slap a label on your Tweet, or make you disappear altogether, then that will make people think twice before invoking the wrath of the supposedly unbiased algorithm.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The gratitude that followed the plague

I would be glad if I could close the account of this melancholy year with some particular examples historically; I mean of the thankfulness to God, our preserver, for our being delivered from this dreadful calamity.

Certainly the circumstance of the deliverance, as well as the terrible enemy we were delivered from, called upon the whole nation for it. The circumstances of the deliverance were indeed very remarkable, as I have in part mentioned already, and particularly the dreadful condition which we were all in when we were to the surprise of the whole town made joyful with the hope of a stop of the infection.

Nothing but the immediate finger of God, nothing but omnipotent power, could have done it. The contagion despised all medicine; death raged in every corner; and had it gone on as it did then, a few weeks more would have cleared the town of all, and everything that had a soul.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Plague drove away astrology

In his account of the Plague in London, Daniel Defoe wrote, “One thing I cannot omit here, and indeed I thought it was extraordinary, at least it seemed a remarkable hand of Divine justice: viz., that all the predictors, astrologers, fortune-tellers, and what they called cunning-men, conjurers, and the like: calculators of nativities and dreamers of dream, and such people, were gone and vanished; not one of them was to be found.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

5 marks of false religion

“There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9), and false religions are no exception. Many have come and gone over the years.

The broadcasting era increased awareness and emotional response to false teachers and some of the more extreme examples came to be known as cults. Jim Jones was one of the more prominent examples of the 1970s, but he was not unique. New religious teachings were proliferated at the grassroots level to the point where one might be handed a tract while heading to a wedding.

That's exactly what happened to my great-uncle, Dave Breese. He was a well-known Bible teacher, and in reading a pamphlet someone gave him at a wedding got him thinking. What is it were possible to identify some of the common characteristics of these cults, of these false religions, false teachings?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Forever dying without release

I once heard a story from a young English evangelist. He told me about the day Charlie Peace, a well-known criminal in London, was hanged—February 25, 1879. The Anglican Church, which had a ceremony for nearly everything, even had a ceremony for hangings.

So, when Charlie Peace was marched to the gallows, a priest walked behind him and read these words from a prayer book: “Those who die without Christ experience Hell, which is the pain of forever dying without the release which death itself can bring.”

When these chilling words were read, Charlie Peace stopped in his tracks, turned to the priest, and shouted in his face, “Do you believe that? Do you believe that?”

Friday, November 20, 2020

Pray for Africa


A week to prepare

One week from today is when retailers in the American economy have traditionally made their annual transition from red to black in their bookkeeping. That is, they finally turn a profit for the year.

They do this by luring customers into their stores and into buying now and paying now or later.

It's that later part that can be especially tempting and damaging to one's personal finances. Debt is based on lies and is to be avoided.

Take a good hard look at your finances and outlook for the next year now before the spending temptation hits in earnest next week. Make sure you're leaving room for existing commitments before spending money that may be needed later.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Titanic Church

Full day today and evening, so this will be short.


I read the book sample, and it was better than expected. It starts with spiritual things happening a couple decades before the RMS Titanic sunk in 1912.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

It's not really soul-searching if there's no searching

It's always fascinating to watch the soul-searching of the other side.

The Hill has a report today on the venting of Senate Democrats over this year's election results.

Three things stand out.

1. Democrats rarely think their policies are the problem, only bad messaging explaining those policies. They think they're there in office to do good, and think people must not understand that or they would support them. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Access vs. Ownership

In his book on long-term tech trends, Kevin Kelly claims that “Access is so superior to ownership in many ways that it is driving the frontiers of the economy.”

What he reads as a benefit to commerce, some of us read the same way we do a warning about government power.

Conservatives warn against voting for benefits from the government because any government powerful enough to give you those benefits is also powerful enough to take them away. (And in more partisan terms, it's a power-building technique in that one political party can—exceeding the purposes of government—give things and then threaten that another political party will take them away.)

The same warning could apply to commerce. Anyone who does not own their own property and is dependent on access to the property of others is also susceptible to the other party withdrawing that access.

Right now we're seeing this play out on a large scale with the Section 230 debate.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Where are we?

It's easy to say the coronavirus changed everything, but what if it hasn't?

What about all the things it hasn't changed?

What if that very visible change we've seen this year was part of a process of seeing differently so many things that have actually stayed the same?

We're all still people.

We all have desires.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Pence Speaks

Vice President Pence spoke at the Young America's Foundation Fall Retreat today:
I know you get a little tired — even all these bright young people get a little tired after election season, and I know you all worked very hard. The truth is, I’m headed down to Georgia next week, and I’ll be going down again and again, and we have got to roll our sleeves up. And just as earnestly as we are working to reelect President Trump for four more years, we got to make sure that we reelect a Republican majority in the United States Senate and the majority path goes straight through Georgia. (Applause.)

So get ready. I mean, it’s great to be here at this Young America’s Foundation Retreat, but I hope you get a little retreat, you get a little refreshed, and then, if you can, hit the road. (Laughs.) All roads point south, okay? Go find a place to get involved and knock on the door because it — their — you know, our agenda is about American greatness, and I really do believe their agenda will lead to American decline. I believe it with all my heart.

I mean, where we’re opening up again, they got people on their team that are already talking about locking down America again. Where we cut taxes, rolled back regulation, we advanced more freedom — they’re talking about literally raising taxes right out of the gate, growing government, and returning to an activist court, defense cuts that — the likes of which we inherited when we came into office.

We know what their agenda is, and if they — if they find a way to gain control of the White House and the United States Senate, as they hold the House of Representatives even by a narrow majority, their agenda is higher taxes, open borders, socialized medicine, a Green New Deal, abortion on demand, defunding the police, and packing the courts. But we’re not going to let it happen, right? (Applause.)

Healing for America

In his speech on Saturday, Vice President Biden quoted Ecclesiastes 3 saying, “The Bible tells us, ‘to everything there is a season: a time to build, a time to reap, and a time to sow and a time to heal’ This is the time to heal in America.” It's easy to assume he meant healing from the Presidency of Donald Trump.

What needs healing in America?

What if our healing needs precede President Donald Trump by decades?

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Will we ever see freedom a cause of the left?

Some Democrats with whom I've spoken think liberals already are champions of personal liberty. Speaker Pelosi thinks mandating health insurance sets people free. Senator Bernie Sanders sees bread lines as a form of freedom.

Answering the question requires first understanding the meaning of two terms: freedom, and the left.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A world without ACA is nothing to fear

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in California v. Texas. This is the second major case over the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The first case was in 2012, NFIB v. Sebelius. (Repeated words in the oral argument transcript are removed in quotes here for readability.)

Chief Justice Roberts began his second questioning of counsel, “Mr. Verrilli, eight years ago, those defending the mandate emphasized that it was the key to the whole Act. Everything turned on getting money from people forced to buy insurance to cover all the other shortfalls in the expansion of healthcare. And the briefs here on the other side go over all that. But now the representation is that, oh, no, everything's fine without it. Why the bait and switch? Was Congress wrong when it said that the mandate was the key to the whole thing, that we spent all that time talking about broccoli for nothing?”

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Does inclusion include the living?

For the last several years, students have been taught inclusion is one of the highest values to hold.

Medical schools are reaping these seeds sown, and this fall the results have been on display at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Incoming students wrote and took an updated version of the Hippocratic Oath.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Selfie Nation

A POLITICO report included an anecdote about a voter who reported beginning Election Day intending to vote for President Trump, and changed his mind in the voting booth.

His reason: “I just want my Instagram to be about me again, and how good I look.”

Friday, November 6, 2020

The fundamental challenge for pollsters

Of the House election results this week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman said, “Something went wrong here across the entire political world. Our polls, Senate polls, gov polls, presidential polls, Republican polls, public polls, turnout modeling, and prognosticators all pointed to one political environment—that environment never materialized.”

At first glance, this comment could sound like the problem was a matter of a projection bias or a feedback loop that got everyone thinking the same thing (“all pointed to one political environment”). While that may have been an issue, if that is the only conclusion reached, I think that will have missed a much deeper transformation that fundamentally undermines the very possibility of accurate polling.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Noteworthy moments from the oral argument in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

I listened to the oral argument from the Fulton case this week, and two moments stand out.

The second was when an attorney arguing against religious freedom said, “I don't think there's any way to draw a line between what the government can and can't take over” (pp. 98-99 of the oral argument transcript). This reflects a lack of understanding of the purposes of government.

The first was when Justice Sotomayor asked, “Counsel, I've always thought that a compelling state interest that motivated our holdings in racial discrimination cases was not merely that race was important but that the burden on the people who are rejected because of race is an interest that the state could seek to protect, that a rejection on the basis of race or any protected category creates a stigma on that person and that it's a compelling state interest for the state to have an anti-discrimination law on the basis of protected classes” (p. 42).

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

What money didn't buy

Remember when Hillary outraised Trump on funds and still lost? This year had a similar result in Congressional races. Democrats raised $125 million more than Republicans, and the results were barely any different than 6 years ago.

Some are more blunt saying Democrats might as well have lit $73 million on fire in Kentucky. Both Arizona and Kentucky have strong libertarian streaks, but Kentucky has a stronger bent toward rooting its political philosophies in the Scriptures, and that foundation held firm. Free speech is more powerful than money.

One wonders if continued defeat in the battle of ideas would drive Democrats to turn to idea suppression instead. If outspending and speaking louder doesn't guarantee results, would they attempt to cut off the ability of the other side to speak? Yes, and they already have been for a while.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Unsafe people

Today, the book, Safe People, is on sale at Amazon. I read the free sample. One sentence sums it up rather well: “While there are many different kinds of unsafe people, many of them fall under three categories: the abandoners, the critics, and the irresponsibles.”

This morning my Bible reading was Matthew 25. This made for some interesting parallels.

Chapter 25 opens with the story of the 10 virgins awaiting the bridesmaid. Five of them were prepared with extra oil, and the other five were not. Perhaps one could say the latter five would fit into the “irresponsibles” category.

People who set standards for others to meet in relationships have some inherent challenges. I've heard someone recommend judging people by how much they talk about themselves vs. how much they talk about others.

While these man-made principles may sound like good advice, I still have a question: Would the people we read about in the Bible pass these tests?

Monday, November 2, 2020

Living with the trends

There comes a time when a person must take action and incur expense, not just to save money, but to not live in denial of cultural trends or at the hands of those who deny them.

Reports abound about how rent prices are dropping in major cities all over the country.

Within a 3-mile radius of Amazon's new HQ2 in “National Landing,” rent prices are apparently doing no such thing. My building was in denial about this a couple months ago and demanded either another lease or a rent increase.

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