HOW DID KING SOLOMON DEFINE SUCCESS?

I consider myself blessed when a post sparks comments more interesting and valuable than the post. Such was the case with BOYCOTT OR SUPPORT. The comments were related, but they definitely went off on a tangent. What were they about?

  • How do we define success?
  • How should we define success?

Four of us, iamcurmudgeon, Doug, tsalmon, and myself politely discussed the matter. We only wrangled a little bit. Doug just had to bring up President Donald Trump.   🤨   😀

So how should we answer that question? What is success? I began to understand I was on the wrong path in my fifties (no child prodigy was I).  As that picture at the beginning of this post suggests, I was making success all about me. It isn’t. As Jacob demonstrated for us long ago, (see Genesis 32:22-32) we have a better chance of achieving success if we grab hold of God and refuse to let go until He blesses us.

What changed my notion of success? I read the Bible. In particular, I read Ecclesiastes.

What is special about Ecclesiastes? King Solomon apparently wrote that book when he was old. So he had both wisdom and considerable experience. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon looks back on his life, and he reflects upon all the lessons he learned the hard way. Think about that. The wisest man who ever lived still had to learn the hard way.

Strangely, Ecclesiastes is not easily understood. Why? The problem is in the reader, not the book. We tend to see what we want to see, not what is actually there. So when I read Ecclesiastes, I saw a book beautifully affirming what I wanted to see, that life is meaningless, but that is not the point of the book. Life under the sun, a worldly life, is meaningless. Life under Heaven, lived for the glory of God, is not.

Several years ago I wrote A BOOK FOR DONALD TRUMP, OTHER GREAT AMERICANS, AND ANYONE ELSE MATERIALLY BLESSED BY THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD: Ecclesiastes (Doug will be pleased to note the mention of our president. Check out the comments after that post.🤣🙄😣 They have not changed much since then.). 

A BOOK FOR DONALD TRUMP, OTHER GREAT AMERICANS, AND ANYONE ELSE MATERIALLY BLESSED BY THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD: Ecclesiastes provides my own take on Ecclesiastes, and it references another person more qualified in Bible exposition. Nevertheless, what I have written is definitely not good enough. Each of us needs to read the Bible and study it personally. Why?

  • The Bible has a special message for each of us. When we read the Word of God, it helps us to understand our self, who we are and where we stand in relation to our Creator. We cannot gain such knowledge so well secondhand.
  • Reading the Bible personally provides confirmation that the Bible is the Word of God. When we read the Bible, we slowly begin to appreciate the fact that men would have never written such a work, not without the inspiration of God.
  • The Bible explains itself. When we have trouble understanding a passage, we need to continue reading. In time we usually come across another passage, often in a different book, that helps us to understand that passage we thought so puzzling. To understand the Word of God, we must read the whole Word of God.

So check out Ecclesiastes. Learn how to be successful and enjoy the beautifully written thoughts of another old man, the wisest who ever lived.

Also, please check out yesterday’s broadcast with R.C. Sproul, Vanity of Vanity (renewingyourmind.org). Vanity of Vanity is part of a series on Christian Apologetics. Here is the description of yesterday’s broadcast.

The only consistent alternative to belief in God is nihilism. Today, R.C. Sproul observes that atheism is not only built on unreasonable premises, but it ultimately results in inescapable despair.

To make his point, Sproul gives a good explanation of Ecclesiastes.

93 thoughts on “HOW DID KING SOLOMON DEFINE SUCCESS?

Add yours

  1. Tom
    tSalmon

    Tom’s comment needs further clarification, in my humble opinion. Tom stated

    “How do we become humble? Love. Love is a choice. God requires us to love Him more than we love our self. So long as we put our self before God, we will blind ourselves to His Truth.

    I agree love has the greatest power of motivation of virtue.

    However, without spiritual wisdom to understand and gain knowledge of God’s meaning of love, we mortals can and are influenced to believe to love is something different than what Jesus intended love to mean.

    For example, some people love money, sex, immoral pleasures.

    I believe my blog motto is a more precise claim.

    What the world needs now in addition to love is wisdom. We are the masters of our own disasters.

    If interested in another explanation of wisdom of sex advice, for example, check out the following link.

    https://rudymartinka.com/2017/11/15/king-solomon-sex-advice-wisdom/

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @scatterwisdom

      It does seem to be easy to confuse what God thinks love might be, especially with regard to sex.

      It requires wisdom to love. That is, before we can love as God wants us to love, we must become wise. Yet to become wise, we must love God (nothing sexual about that). Loving is not easy, but it helps if we have learned to love our parents and respect those in authority.

      There is something of a conundrum in this. We cannot learn to love without wisdom. We cannot become wise until we love God. What do we do? We must love and learn how to love (become wise) at the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tom,

        In my opinion, your comment on how to love (become wise) at the same time requires the emotion of fear which I plan to explain or expound in a future post on the Wisdom of Fear.

        Yes it is a conundrum or a riddle of life, which many people appear to need a clue to solve in life, again, in my opinion.,,

        Regards and goodwill blogging.,

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Seems like good advice to avoid temptation in the first place Rudy. Perhaps the problem with love is that we try to divide it into categories of good and evil love. It’s not that sexual love is somehow inherently evil and therefore not a category of love that is of God. It’s that, if we love each other as God wants us to love, then the practice of this more wholistic love is unselfish, or in other words, more responsible to our obligations to God and to each other.

      As to wisdom, have you considered the meaning behind our eating of our the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tsslmon

        Thanks for reply.

        I’m nor understanding your question on wisdom.

        There is both practical and spiritual aspects of wisdom.

        In my opinion, if someone becomes interested in the subject of practical wisdom, it may lead them to spiritual wisdom over time when they wise up to the realization of how little they really are capable of understanding in comparison to God.

        Regards and goodwill blogging

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “There is both practical and spiritual aspects of wisdom.
          In my opinion, if someone becomes interested in the subject of practical wisdom, it may lead them to spiritual wisdom over time when they wise up to the realization of how little they really are capable of understanding in comparison to God.”

          I think you’re on to something there my friend. Nice way to put it too.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom,

    Correct me if I’ve gotten this wrong, but you seem to be saying that for you true success has come from discovering a quest for wisdom, specifically the wisdom that you gleaned from Ecclesiastes and more generally from reading the Bible. I don’t think that you mean to say that wisdom is the goal in itself, but instead is the means to a goal that defines success. If so, I have a few questions:

    1. How do you define wisdom?

    2. Does this wisdom have an applied quality? As an airline pilot, the newest pilot has as much book knowledge as the experienced pilot, but the old pilot has the wisdom (judgement?) of years of experience.

    3. Once wisdom is achieved, what is it’s ultimate goal, the goal by which we measure whether one is successful or unsuccessful?

    4. Is there more than one way to achieve this success? In other words, couldn’t an illiterate saint who never read Ecclesiastes, but had heard about the good news of the Word, the life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus, and who had faith through grace, be more successful than the Biblical Scholar who lacked such grace and faith?

    5. How do you distinguish Rabbinical or legalistic knowledge from true wisdom? For example, we all are familiar with priests, preachers, theologians and biblical scholars who have great knowledge of scripture, but who have missed the spirit of truth in scripture.

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    1. @tsalmon

      I don’t claim to be a Bible scholar, much less a theologician. Nevertheless, I will answer your questions as best I can.

      1. How do I define wisdom? We need wisdom to obey God. We need wisdom to discern the difference between good and evil. You want to understand Biblical wisdom? The Book of Proverbs is a good place to start.

      2. Does this wisdom have an applied quality? I take you are talking about the relationship between experience and wisdom. Well, yes.

      Have you ever heard this phase? “There is no fool like an old fool.” Supposedly, older people should know better than to act the fool (see https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/there-is-no-fool-like-an-old-fool.html). I suspect the real problem is that as we get older we tend to become less humble, less willing to listen to counsel and repent of our stupidity. Hard knocks tend to cure us of such arrogance.

      3. Once wisdom is achieved, what is it’s ultimate goal, the goal by which we measure whether one is successful or unsuccessful? I don’t know. Whoever but Jesus has ever achieved wisdom?

      4. Is there more than one way to achieve this success? I would suppose so. Read Luke 12:35-48. Pay attention to the end.

      Abraham predated the Bible, but Hebrew 11 lists him as a hero. We are the progeny of his faith. The real issue is trusting God and obeying Him.

      Still, I don’t understand exactly God has in mind for us. I cannot understand God. Read Romans 8:28 and try to grasp the complexity of such a task. I can’t. All I know is that God expects us to make use of what He has revealed to us.

      5. How do you distinguish Rabbinical or legalistic knowledge from true wisdom? Good question, but I don’t have a simple answer. I just think the key is humility. If we make the Bible about “me”, we won’t believe what God wants us to believe. We will believe what we want to believe.

      How do we become humble? Love. Love is a choice. God requires us to love Him more than we love our self. So long as we put our self before God, we will blind ourselves to His Truth.

      I hope that make sense.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I enjoyed all your answers very much.

        I read a book every now and then by some noted atheist just to see what the latest argument against God is. I never find An argument that impresses me as much as God does, and most atheists seem to be guilty of the same kind of stagnant literalism that they criticize in who they see as their religious adversaries. Whether from believers or nonbelievers in this category, the thing that seems to be overabundant is too much pride of knowledge and what seems to be lacking is, as you say, a sense of mystery and humility about the infinite that we all don’t fathom.

        Something that should be clear from the young couple in my comment to your last post is that many people in this country and the world have bought into some hollow concepts of what “success” looks like – comfort, feelings, hatred, lust, fame and fortune. Perhaps a better question to ask might be “What will give life actual meaning?”

        I admire your answer to this question and the humility with which you put your answer forward. Your pursuit for meaning might not be exactly the same as mine. I could quibble, but I think we are both headed in the same directions do that is what matters.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Tom.

    Great post.

    As an added thought, one of the reasons I believe many people do not read Ecclesiastes is because some critics claim it is a dark outlook on life.

    Frankly, life can become dark for people who lack wisdom. King Solomon’s observations of his life experiences warn us how dark life can be without wisdom.

    Reading Ecclesiastes is a very time-consuming endeavor for people to comprehend his wisdom advice.

    It is a shame it is not taught in schools, in my opinion, to help acquaint youth to hopefully not repeat the mistakes he observed, which keeps being repeated in every generation as he predicted.

    “Nothing new under the sun, what will people do, what has been done before”…….unless they wise up.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

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  4. Tom.

    Great post.

    As an added thought, one of the reasons I believe many people do not read Ecclesiastes is because some critics claim it is a dark outlook on life.

    Frankly, life can become dark for people who lack wisdom. King Solomon’s observations of his life experiences warn us how dark life can be without wisdom.

    Reading Ecclesiastes is a very time-consuming endeavor for people to comprehend his wisdom advice.

    It is a shame it is not taught in schools, in my opinion, to help acquaint youth to hopefully not repeat the mistakes he observed, which keeps being repeated in every generation as he predicted.

    “Nothing new under the sun, what will people do, what has been done before”…….unless they wise up.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Scatterwisdom

      Ecclesiastes is an odd book. I understand there was some discussion as to whether it should be added to the canon. It does appear to offer a dark outlook. If we are not careful, we can even get the point of the book backwards. We can begin to believe that Ecclesiastes says life is meaningless. Wrong!

      Ecclesiastes tells the story of someone who struggled to understand just how much he needed — we need — God. Without that understanding life is dark.

      Chapter 12, the lasts chapter, ends the book with clarity. I suspect Ecclesiastes is one book where reading the end of the book first is a good idea.

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  5. The subtext of criticism of someone in authority (in this case Trump) based on their words rather than specific actions THAT PERSON has done is this: that an authority’s words are sufficient to cause people to act in ways they normally wouldn’t, to get evil ideas and perpetrate evil acts that don’t issue from their own heart, but from someone else’s words. My recent blog post about the Stanford Prison experiment and Milgram’s shock experiment included the Agency Theory, which purports to explain why people give up their own morals in following orders. Every single criticism of Trump I have read carries that subtext. As for me, nothing anyone says has ever nor will ever say can get me to adopt their morality when at odds with mine.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I reject certain things he has said and done (mainly in treatment of women) and I like others (especially his tweaking the media), but I don’t attempt to judge his or anyone else’s “morality” on the basis of tweets, headlines or narratives. I would have to interview him personally to determine his morality. Since that is not possible, I leave judging his morality to God. As for whether I will vote for him, I will consider the alternatives, and what he has actually DONE during this last 4 years. At this point, since Dan Crenshaw is unlikely to run against him, and since all the Dems’ positions are totally objectionable to me, I probably will vote for him.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @iamcurmudgeon

          The funny thing is I have made the same the same argument. I chose Trump as the better alternative. Oddly, Doug and tsalmon won’t defend H.Clinton. They just keep attacking Trump, but it is obvious H. Clinton would not have been better. At best, there only excuse for behaving this way is they just wanted their reprobate.

          Frankly, I suspect Trump is a better man than he is given credit for. Saint? No. Decent enough to live with. Well, people do live with him.

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          1. One measure of a person’s decency is loyalty to their friends. When Bob Kraft’s–owner of the Patriots–wife died, his friends tried to console him. He wrote later that their efforts, and visits lasted a few weeks, except for one. Donald Trump texted and called every few days for a year, inviting him out to do things together. Kraft said that Trump was the only friend who hung in there with him.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. This post is about wisdom. I think most of us would agree that wisdom is more than just character, but it seems to me that wisdom without integrity must be a a hollow sort of knowledge.

          Who am to judge another person’s morality? The usual disclaimers with regard to Trump apply:

          1. No one but God is perfect. Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.
          2. How can we really know what is in a stranger’s heart?
          3. We shouldn’t judge by words, but rather by actions. If I like what Trump is doing, who cares about the hateful things he’s saying, especially if he’s trolling my mortal enemies, the Libs?
          4. The ends justify the means. We are getting a more conservative Court that may overturn Rowe v. Wade, thus potentially saving the lives of millions of unborn children. Who cares if Trump lies and misleads several times a day to get us there?

          We are not judging souls. We are electing leaders. Character is the essence of good leadership. It’s not the only thing that matters, but it is perhaps the most important thing. Lying, lawlessness, abuse of power, disloyalty, the inability to attract and retain capable people, cheating on three wives, coordinating a campaign around Russian help, attacking the integrity of anyone who is a threat, a lifetime of misogyny, impulsive rather than strategic behavior…I could go on and on.

          Let’s face it. None of us would accept such a continuing demonstrated lack of character in a Democrat. However, the excuses I read for Trump seem to be endless. This just looks more like pure partisan tribalism than any consistent moral philosophy.

          What does social psychology tell us about our, often destructive, instinct to divide ourselves into tribes? What does Christian moral philosophy say about such tribalism? Is a part of real wisdom the ability, not just to discern good from evil, but also to recognize “good verses evil” doesn’t always come in stark terms of a good we verses an evil they. More often it comes in the endless pursuit of putting integrity first even when it means compromising other things we may hope a leader may do for us. It isn’t that Trump isn’t perfect – it’s that he doesn’t even try.

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          1. What do you think of Thomas Jefferson’s private life, TSalmon?
            There was a time when we didn’t parcel everyone’s private conversation and lives and open that stuff up to constant 24/7 public scrutiny.
            Results mattered. They still matter.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Steve Jobs was (by all accounts) a turd of a person. But he ran his company well.
            By contrast, Dick Brown was a turd and ran his company very poorly. I sold my EDS stock (which was a good move), but bought more Apple. I don’t usually bring up Steve Jobs as an example of a crappy leader…because he wasn’t a crappy leader, though he might not have been a great person in his private life in particular (he was also notoriously hard to work for). But I do think of Dick Brown as a horrible leader and the treatment of his employees would be an example I’d use. Because results matter.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. I should add….there are obvious exceptions. If Jobs were running a slavery ring, for example, I wouldn’t support him or his company. But we’re not speaking of espionage or slavery, we’re speaking of (in the Trump comparison) undiplomatic statements some people find offensive (or contort into offense). We’re not speaking of collusion with foreign governments either, no matter how many times this fallious hoax is repeated.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. Typo: Fallacious, up there.
            One more thing and then I’ll shut up.
            I’ve asked about Jefferson but there are so many examples.
            What do you think of Robin Olds? Pappy Boyington?
            Were they terrible leaders?
            They would fail your standard, along with Jefferson, and Martin Luther King for that matter.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. @tsalmon

            You write all that nonsense and ignore the obvious, and I say it is nonsense because you chose to ignore the obvious. Were the Clinton’s morals were better than Trump’s? I sure don’t think so. What the Democratic Party stands for is an abomination, they have chosen people with morals to match.

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          6. “What do you think of Thomas Jefferson’s private life, TSalmon?”

            Well, not much actually. Considering her age and inability to consent, Jefferson essentially raped his slave. That would have been considered fairly dishonorable private behavior even by the standards of his time. I just recently finished Ron Chernov’s Hamilton biography. It does not paint a pretty picture of Jefferson’s public behavior either. That said, Donald Trump is no Thomas Jefferson. Nor is Trump in any category of character with Steve Jobs or MLK?

            “There was a time when we didn’t parcel everyone’s private conversation and lives and open that stuff up to constant 24/7 public scrutiny.”

            What time was that?

            Anyway, I refer you to my “usual disclaimers” above.

            “Results mattered. They still matter.”

            What results are you talking about? Trump lowered taxes on the rich and essentially raised taxes on consumers (tariffs are essentially taxes, you know). The stock market is volatile and becoming increasingly bearish. He haslegitimized an unacceptable status quo with N. Korea.

            It’s all arguable, but the question I posed is not whether Trump is accomplishing great things – the question is whether we still think things like character and integrity matter? And it’s not just Trump’s private foibles that we are talking about. Trump has always publicly bragged about his greed, his selfishness, his misogyny, his faithlessness and his bone spur whining cowardice. Trump has often disclaimed the aspiration to common virtues as a sucker’s game. Is he right. If you think so, then who are the suckers?

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          7. “Were the Clinton’s morals were better than Trump’s?”

            The “obvious” answer is “yes”, by far, in any objective comparison of common virtues. But even if you think otherwise, how long do you think such a comparison is useful. One reason the German elite ended up backing Hitler is because they feared Bolshevism more. Was that choice of fascism then excusable? At what point did it cease to be?

            “What the Democratic Party stands for is an abomination, they have chosen people with morals to match.”

            There’s a bit of hyperbole, don’t you think? Our parents were Democrats. If they were still alive, I think they’d still be Democrats. They weren’t perfect people, but don’t you think you are overstating your opposition by saying that they would stand for an abomination? It’s our tribalism that makes us overinflate the evils of the other team and deflate the evil on our own side.

            I don’t think Trump is evil incarnate. I just think that he promotes vice as virtue. In this Trump fails the most important criteria we should expect of our leaders.

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          8. Like many of us, Trump is simply a prisoner of his faulty nature vs. nurture results. I honestly don’t think he is racist.. but.. I do think firmly that he is a “white racial-ist” (new term by me). Meaning, like most of us Boomers, he was raised with the civil rights movement and abhorrence to enslavement of humans throughout history… but in his case he still harbors some racial bias toward non-white races, not to a point of wanting to oppress them overtly or wish them physical harm, but still feels they are inferior to his own self in general.

            Other than that.. I fully agree with Tony’s reply here.

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          9. @tsalmon

            Hyperbole? You compare Trump with Hitler. After complaining about hyperbole?

            Then you drag our parents into this? Democrats supported slavery. Would they have voted for that?

            Perhaps you should justify your vote with your own beliefs and with what you know about the candidates you voted for. Our parents are dead. They have already done for us what they could.

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          10. Doug,

            I mention earlier that I’m currently reading a book called “The Coddling of the American Mind”. I think both you and Tom would enjoy this book. I’m pretty sure that Iamcurmudgeon and Liz would also like it. Because this post is about success and wisdom, the book is apropos to the topic at hand as is another book, The Happiness Hypotheses” which was also written by Jonathan Haidt, one of the two authors.of “The Coddling of the American Mind”.

            Haidt is a social psychologist who specializes in moral psychology. “The Coddling of the American Mind” looks at the recent phenomenon where university administrators, professors and students have felt the need to create an academic environment where students can feel safe from ideas that might “traumatize” their supposedly fragile feelings. As protectively well meaning as this effort may be, the critical thinking skills necessary to grow both the practical and the spiritual wisdom that Rudy referred to requires constant idea stress testing.

            Like our human immune systems, thinking skills are what Haidt calls “anti-fragile”, meaning that counterintuitive to the current thinking, our bodies and our minds actually become less fragile by exposer to stresses. Just as the best way to build up antibodies is to vaccinate with a harmless version of the disease, the best way to inoculate ourselves and our children from harmful ideas is to create a safe environment for exposure and criticism of all ideas. (I always appreciate how Tom tries to create such an open environment here).

            One of the problems with creating this safe, but critical and stressful environment for wisdom, comes from the fact that we naturally tend to do just the opposite by dividing ourselves into factions of what I’m calling “idea tribes”. We don’t listen to the other side or try to understand their perspective for a critical interchange – we just demonize them by overinflating the threat that they pose and then excluding them. This happens constantly even though we all hold far more important values in common, particularly values of pluralism and of the benefit of an idea marketplace where even bad ideas can be tested and challenged. Instead, our worst tribal instincts just tend to make us needlessly dismissive and divisive.

            I can be guilty of this as much as anyone else. If we really are going to be loyal to our best values, however, we have to be aware of these tribal instincts which have been very useful to our success as a species, but which also could also be the catalyst of our destruction.

            That said, I don’t think Trump is an evil white supremacist either. I don’t think Trump is ideological at all. But I do think that Trump, either consciously or unconsciously, is using our worst tribal tendencies to needlessly divide us in harmful ways. Is that really the lack of common wisdom that we want in a President? No one here as yet has been willing make an argument that grants Trump anything close to wisdom, but they also find Trump an acceptable leader of the free world despite this dangerous void.

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          11. @tsalmon

            Neither you or Doug can pin down what you dislike about Trump, nothing that comes close to justifying your rage against him.

            You run around accusing others of tribalism, but you never explain the alternative, globalism.

            Globalists would destroy America’s republic. I am not interested in seeing my country destroyed just so wealthy globalists can run everything. I don’t want us to be Europe. I would much rather help Make America Great Again. You want to condemn that as tribal? I think you are delusional.

            Stop watching mainstream news. Try broadening your reading material. The people outfits CNN and the New York Times call Conservatives are just frauds they use to propagandize you.

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          12. “Neither you or Doug can pin down what you dislike about Trump, nothing that comes close to justifying your rage against him.”

            It’s not a matter of dislike, not for me at least, and I wouldn’t characterize it as rage (although it strangely seems to upset you a great deal), but I thought Doug and I have been pretty explicit on this – Trump is not a person of even average moral character and integrity, and instead, as I have repeatedly pointed out, Trump actually constantly and proudly promotes his vices as virtues. He therefore lacks the basic character requirements to be anything but the most corrupt and corrupting leader. That pin it down clearly enough?

            “You run around accusing others of tribalism, but you never explain the alternative, globalism.
            Globalists would destroy America’s republic. I am not interested in seeing my country destroyed just so wealthy globalists can run everything. I don’t want us to be Europe. I would much rather help Make America Great Again. You want to condemn that as tribal? I think you are delusional.“

            Who says that we only have one opposite alternative to tribalism? What I said was that we should recognize that tribalism is a part of our nature, and that it has both good and destructive qualities to it. Do you disagree that tribalism in the form of xenophobia and racism are some of those destructive qualities? Do you disagree that basic equality before God and a welcoming pluralism are core American values? Don’t you think that a marketplace of ideas is superior to forced homogeneity of any one ideology? I think that we do require a common value system, and in a sense, that is a form of tribalism, but the most common value to being an American is inclusive pluralism, which means virtually anyone who accepts that can be part of our world wide tribe.

            Actually there is no “alternative” to tribalism because tribalism is an inherent part of our nature – it’s like saying there is an alternative to a human being not being human. However, Christianity as Jesus taught it and as Paul spread it offers us a practice of love and openness that promotes the better angels of our nature in that Christianity has us recognize our nature to act sinfully, or in other words, our fallen nature to act selfishly and without love for our neighbors, especially as the Good Samaritan Parable shows, the strange neighbor who belongs to another tribe.

            “Stop watching mainstream news. Try broadening your reading material. The people outfits CNN and the New York Times call Conservatives are just frauds they use to propagandize you.”

            Ha! Is this “shoot the messengers” theory what you consider passes for an actual argument for free thinking? So if I’m not steeped enough in the propaganda from what you consider your tribe, then I’m ignorant. I’ll compare the volume and diversity of opinions of our respective reading list anytime you want to brother to see who is best practicing critical thinking skills.😏

            In any event, I would be interested in a further discussion on both the detriments and benefits of Globalization if you are interested. There are, I agree, tremendous downsides to Globalism that we could get into. Of all the things Trump has done, challenging those downsides, particularly with regard to China, is perhaps the one I most agree with, although Trump’s methodology seems to be more on impulse than any definable strategy. Oddly, controlling the downsides of Globalization isn’t isolationism – we couldn’t turn back that clock and survive economically, militarily or democratically. Anachronistically, the cure to the problems of Globalism is greater globalization, particularly of fair trading practices and the Rule of Law.

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          13. If I may….. when discussing globalism I sometimes use the simple Chaos Theory, or more applicable, the Butterfly Effect, as an example of the evolution toward globalism.

            “The Butterfly Effect: This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened.”

            My point in using that illustration is that the world has reached this level of population and civilization to the point where individual nations are not really as individual as they once were. We’ve already proven a civil war in Syria has affected most of Europe and the politics of America, some half a world away. A nuclear power station melts down in Russia and that result passes halfway around the world. The list goes on and on. This also includes our global international trade.. and instant Internet communications that can cause civil unrest on the other side of the world. Globalism is inevitable unless some natural or man-made apocalypse wipes out a segment of the population. Now.. what we can do is try and control the level by which globalism is assimilated throughout the world. Our country’s own economy was going like never before yet a large portion of America… those red states… were suffering as if urban blight had spread to rural America. They were disenfranchised because of changing market conditions, automation, and a rapid change that they could not adapt to as economic globalism took hold. But we can still control aspects of it.. immigration for one… but by the numbers, NOT by emotional and racial bias. Globalism is inevitable. Better learn to deal with it now.

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          14. @Doug

            Just because butterflies flap their wings we must have one world government?

            Everything involves tradeoffs. Who do we put in charge of this one world government? It isn’t going to be anyone we can trust. Most of the world is run by authoritarian regimes. That’s why the United Nations is so useless. Instead of fixing problems, the folks at the UN are actually more busy trying to gain power over each other.

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          15. Who said anything about a one-world government?? The whole idea in addressing the limits of globalization now is to also limit it’s evolution if the population continues to grow. Even at that, you and me and your own kids nor mine will even be alive to experience even the slightest application of a one-world government. Geez.. quit thinking with your “trump” and drop the fear that’s not even there.

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          16. @Doug

            Go back and read what you wrote. One world government is the inevitable consequence of what you said.

            As a practical matter, the United States is better off forming military alliances with like-minded nations and making bilateral treaties to solve specific problems like trade. Nothing new about that.

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          17. Well, every country should do that as a rule-of-thumb. Perhaps we both see globalism in separate ways. I don’t see globalism as some alternative to sovereign national existence but an economic cooperation of such. You seem to see it as a means to an unfortunate end of American democracy.

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          18. ok.. and?
            The EU is an economic union that fits their particular application both geographically and politically. It’s an excellent model for such cooperative effort between nations. “Doing it around the world” is certainly not going to happen on any grand scale… but one can certainly pull from the EU the spirit and the good elements.
            By the way… these “globalists”.. they anything like the “deep state”? Is there some manual for “globalists”?

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          19. @Doug

            A couple of Democrats who expected Mueller to indict Trump of conspiracy with the Russians are trying suggest I am a conspiracy theorist? 😒

            Conspiracies do happen, but the globalist movement is more opportunistic than conspiratorial.

            The effort to frame Trump of collusion with the Russians, however, was a conspiracy. Whether anyone will go to jail I don’t know.

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          20. Collusion by itself is not illegal if nothing illegal arises from it. It can be a moral question… and a question of moral intent. Impeachment can include that given “high crimes and misdemeanors” are not defined. Mueller DID state Trump not being absolved of obstruction… which IS illegal.

            Conspiracy against Trump on the collusion “thing” has ever been proven and apparently Barr’s “objective” investigation and that of the Inspector General has thus far revealed any conspiracy. Much ado about nothing.

            Clock’s ticking, Tom.. your guy is making things worse and killing himself off each day.

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          21. Any one of them is ok with me. You see, none of them can have a command on the presidency for more than a term unless people want to keep them. They all seem reasonable to me and not one has any sort of “bonkers’ going on like Trump had as a candidate… which as you know, has been my entire reason for wanting him gone. Everything that has transpired over the last two years is more or less “I told you so”.
            Not one of those folks is going to turn the nation into some socialist mecca. That’s Conservative fear nonsense. Maybe they pass a few bills (if they have Congress) and make a couple decrees. Honestly, medical care will get worked out somehow…. and if there’s a snag then fix it down the line. That’s what Obama said about Obamacare.
            Trump.. to me.. has been and is a clear and present danger to the security of the nation.. plain and simple. He’s got to be removed.
            How about you? Getting down to the wire, buddy. Trump is really into his scorched earth policy now for sure.

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          22. @Doug

            When people say they are not for open borders, but their policies don’t enforce the borders and actually entice foreigners to immigrate illegally, those people are effectively for open borders.

            Similarly, when people say they are not for Socialism, but they think government exists to give us our “rights” those people are Socialists. Why? If government gives us our rights, government determines what “rights” it gives us. Effectively, we and everything we have belong to the government.

            We see the belief that we belong demonstrated when government redistributes the wealth. This is basic Communism. As Karl Marx put it: “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” Of course, both Communism and Socialism only work in theory.

            I have given up worrying about what you think about Trump. TDS is what it is.

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          23. Have you asked yourself why is there so much TDS (which is really nothing but a Right wing label for disgruntled anti-Trumpers)?
            And please don’t bring up the Clintons or Obama.

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          24. @tsalmon

            The Bible refers to Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ. The Church is the body of Christ. Because we believe in in Christ, we are joined together with Jesus as our Head.

            What people believe makes a difference. Based upon our beliefs and who we choose to lead us, we choose different objectives. In a republic, we try to limit the rivalries and conflicts between different factions by protecting individual rights. In fact, those famous words in the Declaration are what unified our nation.

            So you want to call me tribal? Well, I am not ashamed to be either a Christian or an American. If that makes me tribal, then so be it.

            Is tribalism really a problem? No. What matters is your tribe. What does your tribe stand for? If your tribe seeks to impose its desires upon others and justifies its conduct with ad hominem and babble that only sounds compassionate (How many babies can we save from poverty today by killing them?), you need to find a new tribe.

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          25. “Then you drag our parents into this? Democrats supported slavery. Would they have voted for that?”

            Exactly my point. Being Democrats didn’t make them evil then and it wouldn’t now. It’s spitting the world into childish good and evil camps that doesn’t make sense. I’ve voted for members of both parties over the years (btw my local Republican candidate who’s sign has recently decorated my yard won) and neither are perfectly good or evil. This sort of dualism is harmful.

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          26. @tsalmon

            “This sort of dualism is harmful?” But your sort of dualism is not. You spout a constant stream of outrageous ad hominem. Then you have the nerve to say: “This sort of dualism is harmful?” That’s the stuff of comedy and satire. At least that is what us deplorable, selfish, racist, nationalist, gun toting,
            Bible beating, sexist, white supremacist,…

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          27. @tsalmon

            A little clarification. I was going end that last sentence this way.

            At least that is what us deplorable, selfish, racist, nationalist, gun toting, Bible beating, sexist, white supremacist,… think

            But mindnumbed robots don’t think, do they? Really amazed you are trying to have a conversation with me. Eventually I guess you will drum into my head just how unworthy us deplorables are. Then we can just let the likes of H. Clinton run everything, satisfied they will equitably strip mine America of both it spiritual and material wealth.

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          28. “So you want to call me tribal? Well, I am not ashamed to be either a Christian or an American. If that makes me tribal, then so be it.
            Is tribalism really a problem? No. What matters is your tribe. What does your tribe stand for?”

            Yes. This is very close to an agreement. Is Christianity tribal? It spread like wildfire across races, ethnicities and continents, so Christianity is definitely not tribal in those common attributes of tribalism. What about ideology?

            Historically, Christianity has definitely shown traits of tribal exclusion based on a claims of our tribe’s superior ideological framework. Many theologians have argued, however, that such tribal exclusion runs counter to the basic Christian message. For example, as much as various religious denominations try, humans don’t control admission to the “Body if Christ” – God does. Membership is by divine invitation only and Jesus died for everyone, especially the least of these. We love to squabble over the exclusivity of our own denominational membership, but none of us actually paid the impossibly high price of the initiation fee. Therefore, when Christians demonstrate negative tribal qualities, it is probably our own tribal pride rather than God’s Will that is driving it, sort of the way that Cain when anachronistically killed Abel out of pride and jealousy was not following God’s Will either.

            “If your tribe seeks to impose its desires upon others and justifies its conduct with ad hominem and babble that only sounds compassionate (How many babies can we save from poverty today by killing them?), you need to find a new tribe.”

            There is some truth to this too. God controls the membership to this supposed tribe. Jesus already paid the initiation fee for everyone. All comers from every color and culture in the world are welcomed. However, there is absolutely a voluntary quality to it. One as merely to ask to join, but one has to ask. Where I think you are mistaken, however, is in your belief that God isn’t more powerful than any government or ideology that tries to block the human hand that reaches out to be saved by faith and grace. Christianity thrives under such tyranny. Thomas Jefferson didn’t create the right to choose, God did long before Jefferson thought if it. We don’t own salvation and neither does any government. God does, and He offers it to everyone. As Christian citizens in a democratic republic, the best we can do is create a government that gets out of the way of the covenant that Jesus made with His father for all of us. We can’t actually force salvation and neither can we stop it.

            As for as hominem attacks, you do realize that the Dear Leader of your partisan tribe is a walking talking ad hominem generator? Maybe you ought to pluck Donald Trump from your own eye before you work on removing basic truths about his lack of character from mine.😊

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          29. @tsalmon

            And you said exactly what? Kind of all over the place. Any excuse to hate on Trump.

            You do understand that putting a word with a sour conotation on something that is good does make what is good bad? Tribalism is what? Anything Liberal Democrats don’t like?

            As Christians we demonstrate our love for God by obeying Him. We don’t form alliances with apostates. We don’t help people do things opposed to what Jesus taught.

            As Americans, we protect each others rights. We don’t advance tyranny.

            As sane people, we don’t open the doors to our homes, membership in our organizations, and the borders of our country to just anyone. The terms family, member, and citizen actually do mean something. What those terms mean is evil only to people who want to destroy the family, organizations, and the nation state.

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          30. Doug,

            Before Tom gets too far along in venting his hurt and rage against the horrible grievances of an imaginary Hilary Clinton presidency, I would like to say that I agree with what you wrote about Globalization. 😊

            The issue isn’t whether we can stop greater Globalization. For all the reasons that you stated, that ship has sailed. The issue is whether, while we still have the super power leverage to do so, do we positively control Globalization so that it can continue along lines that actually do reflect the American values that we all agree on (even Tom, although he looks for partisan dualism anyway). Even Chuck Schumer is on Trump’s side on combating China’s trade inequities.

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          31. Yes, Tony.. totally in agreement. But there is no need to bully countries around and get into trade wars. Also.. we need to re-build the devastated State Department with the proper people.. get up to staff.. and get into becoming a world leader in this.

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          32. T Salmon: First, thanks for the book recommendation. I read the description of “The Coddling of the American Mind” and it does sound like a read I’d like. I added it to my kindle.
            On to my response to your response.
            That said, Donald Trump is no Thomas Jefferson. Nor is Trump in any category of character with Steve Jobs or MLK?
            I wouldn’t say he’s equivalent to MLK nor Jefferson…by a long shot. But those aren’t the competition are they?
            Furthermore, aren’t you essentially admitting here that judging a leader is a cost to gains equation? Lincoln said, “It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues”.

            Moi:“There was a time when we didn’t parcel everyone’s private conversation and lives and open that stuff up to constant 24/7 public scrutiny.”
            TS: What time was that?

            Truly? You are older than I am, and I remember very well the time before everyone had cell phones to provide live action footage of everything at any time. Video cameras weren’t on every corner. No 24 hour news cycles that weren’t news but click bait.
            Until quite recently there was about an hour of news a day and they made sure it wasn’t just rumor, entertainment, opinion, and conspiracy theory. The masses had to watch soap operas for that kind of thing. Then we had talk shows, then reality television, then the 24 hour news cycle…add social media…and there we go. This transition happened very very fast.

            What results are you talking about?
            I did list Trump’s accomplishments not long ago, after you asked. It wasn’t a comprehensive list, but did take some time. And was basically ignored. So…Think I’ll pass this time.
            Fool me once….

            Trump lowered taxes on the rich and essentially raised taxes on consumers (tariffs are essentially taxes, you know).
            We’ve been paying China to make the rope to hang us for years. This is a catastrophic policy we have been following longterm. Catastrophic for everyone, to include consumers.

            The stock market is volatile and becoming increasingly bearish.
            Yes. Time will tell won’t it? But I’m not sure why you bother to cite this. It sure didn’t matter to you when it was going up.

            He has legitimized an unacceptable status quo with N. Korea.
            The current situation with the DPRK…while (I’d agree) is not acceptable longterm, is the best it has been since the peninsula split into North and South.

            It’s all arguable, but the question I posed is not whether Trump is accomplishing great things – the question is whether we still think things like character and integrity matter?
            Of course integrity and character matter.
            See first answer above.
            side note: If all he did during his term was remove the ambition to put a no-fly zone over Syria, he is far better than the alternative.

            Trump has often disclaimed the aspiration to common virtues as a sucker’s game. Is he right. If you think so, then who are the suckers?
            Could you provide a quote for context, please? I have no idea what you’re referring to here.

            An excerpt from a Forbes article years back (still years too late…if only we’d been saved the poisoned dog food, shoddy bolts that were cast instead of forged (lots of aviation and carnival disasters worldwide there), contaminated heparin (the official number is so much lower than the real one…many died, and many of the victims were told it was a “heparin allergy”), copper pipes laden with impurities that made them rust faster than the cheapest metals, contaminated and shoddy everything…see “planned obsolescence”, it’s essentially a Chinese bylaw. we have not had a leader in decades who recognized this. Either that, or we have not had a leader who cared enough to do something rather than profiting directly and personally from it. The average person would find this a hard thing to resist. A billionaire maybe not as much. Especially a billionaire who is concerned about legacy.

            I fully acknowledge that my vote for Trump was initially the best choice of the crappy options offered. I have been very pleasantly surprised. 


            In proceeding full steam ahead towards national bankruptcy, the United States is world history’s ultimate example of the triumph of ideology over commonsense. Beginning in the Eisenhower era, succeeding Washington administrations have bet the farm on ever-freer trade. Supposedly this would strengthen American economic leadership. To say the least, the powers that be in Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei, as well as in Bonn, Frankfurt, and West Berlin, discreetly laughed at such epochal naïveté.
            No nation has understood the stupidity of America’s trade policy more clearly than post-Mao China. On the one hand, American leaders have thrown the U.S. market wide open to Chinese exports. On the other, they have ignored Beijing’s in-your-face blocking of virtually all advanced American exports to China. The United  States has been by far the most serious victim of  Chinese protectionism.

            https://www.forbes.com/sites/eamonnfingleton/2014/11/12/obama-in-china-taking-candy-from-a-baby/?partner=yahootix#3e56f436231e

            Liked by 1 person

          33. “You do understand that putting a word with a sour conotation on something that is good does make what is good bad? Tribalism is what? Anything Liberal Democrats don’t like?“

            Ha! Nice try Tom, but you’re putting me in charge of some imaginary opposing evil tribe just because you have this strange need to do so, not because it’s real. No one put me in charge of speaking for what liberal Democrats like or don’t like. 😁

            As for the rest of what you wrote in your comment, I agree with some of it. As Christians, we don’t have to assume hateful belief systems that run counter to the live that Jesus taught us, but we should view these people less as enemies to be hated and excluded than as the lost sheep that Jesus says God seeks after with more divine desire to bring into His flock than the sheep He already has safely embraced. To quote what MLK said about those who hatred him because of his color:

            “Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
            only light can do that.
            Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.“

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          34. @tsalmon

            Let’s see. This is how Christian love works? I love you so much! Give me your money, and I won’t throw you in jail. I love you so much whether you like it or not I want to give your money to someone else.

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          35. Liz,

            I’m grateful for the thoughtful reply.

            I’m afraid we will just have to agree to disagree that Trump’s lack of integrity and character isn’t something obscenely corrupt and unusual. We are all sinners and our leaders are no different. Trump is not unusual in that he sins (although Trump exceeds even in this regard). Trump is unusual in that he actually applauds and promotes his vices (greed, misogyny, pride, disloyalty, imprudence, impulsiveness, etc.) as virtues. This is inherently corrupting to the presidency and to the country and it is proving more so every day. Trump was this way long before 24 news and the internet. He’s unabashed about his vices. He ran casinos, vanity contests and a reality TV show. Trump feeds on these new mediums in order to spread just the sort of defamation of his opposition that you are criticizing here.

            Like I wrote earlier, I recently finished a biography of Hamilton. The spreading of brutal private defamatory information for political purposes is nothing new. Hamilton died in a dual fought over just that thing. Although the resurgence of this practice with a vengeance began before Trump ran for the Republican nomination, you have to admit that Trump has perfected it, not just to destroy the character of his adversaries, but to normalize his own egregious lack of character. It seems to work as the Republican Party’s own integrity about such things seems to have collapsed under his onslaught.

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          36. @tsalmon

            Let’s see:
            1. Trump had a classified server in his basement and colluded with the Obama administration to get off the hook when he got caught.
            2. The news media had a 10-year old tape recording of H. Clinton explaining how she used her notoriety to seduce groupy guys. The news media used this recording as an October surprise.
            3. When H. Clinton asked Russia to find the 30,000 emails on Yoga that Trump had deleted from his illegal email server, the Trump campaign hired an MI6 guy to collude with the Russians to get the goods on the H. Clinton campaign colluding with the Russians. Then the Obama administration used this evidence to justify spying on the H. Clinton campaign.

            That the sort of lack of integrity you are talking about? Hard to tell. You just make endless accusations without any specifics.

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          37. “Let’s see. This is how Christian love works? I love you so much! Give me your money, and I won’t throw you in jail. I love you so much whether you like it or not I want to give your money to someone else.”

            I did that to you? You poor baby to be impoverished and imprisoned by your all powerful and all loving little brother. Careful, or next I will use my benevolent powers to make you love poor Hillary too. 😉

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          38. @tsalmon

            You vote Republican? You voted for Trump? Could have fooled me.

            You probably just don’t understand you have a moral responsibility for how you vote. After all, according to you government gives us our rights. So when you voted for Obama, it was all our Dear Leader Barack Obama’s responsibility.

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          39. Yes Tom, and Hillary plotted with Obama to kill JFK, MLK and yes, Lincoln too. Oh, and the moon landing, they conspired to go back in time to fake that one also. 😏

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          40. You probably just don’t understand you have a moral responsibility for how you vote. After all, according to you government gives us our rights. So when you voted for Obama, it was all our Dear Leader Barack Obama’s responsibility.”

            Damn, sounds like my moral culpability for terrible drama of your endless suffering at the hands of our 200 year old miracle of a government is pretty attenuated. I’m Catholic though so I think can live with the guilt.
            😇

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          41. Doug: The EU is an economic union that fits their particular application both geographically and politically. It’s an excellent model for such cooperative effort between nations.

            Yeah, it’s spectacular. So successful and cooperative Great Britain, Denmark, the Czeck republic, Hungary, Italy and Greece all want to leave. If you think Trump isn’t popular, ask the average Italian what they think of the EU.
            Maybe you should watch something other than CNN?
            I recommend Foreign Affairs. Or even Al Jazeera.

            Liked by 1 person

          42. Here’s where actual facts matter, Tom. Those countries you cited… are considering following Brexit…. and even at that, some of those governments are not looking to leave but there are political parties inside that support leaving. So it’s not like all of a sudden countries are deciding to sign on to get outta Dodge. A fair amount of public opinion has been swayed by Britain leaving.. a major player and one time supporter. So what you say is not some overwhelming groundswell against globalism.
            Maybe not devote so much time to trustworthy sources like Al Jazeera.

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          43. That wasn’t Tom, it was me Doug.
            Al Jazeera was both a joke and serious suggestion.
            Because Al Jazeera is about 10 times more accurate and trustworthy than the rags you read. I almost forgot Slovinia. That’s another.
            No, those populations aren’t dumb occupants persuaded by Brexit to leave. Brexit has given them hope. If this were so wonderful cooperative you’ve claimed they wouldn’t want to leave en masse would they?
            Without sovereignty over one’s own country, there is no country. Security is the primary reason for governments. The EU provides insecurity and demands the relinquishment of sovereignty.
            Countries within the EU are forced to take immigrants that they don’t even want.

            Liked by 1 person

          44. It seems replies from you and Tom are starting to blur and look the same. 🙂

            And….? You pull the good portions of the EU and shed the rest. While we are going through a political phase of Conservatives around the world not wishing to compromise anymore, in the end you “surrender” (would be what YOU would call it) a measure of national control in order for the longer term economic prosperity and security… and peace.
            Consider this… as a nation we better as hell be damn well concerned about China’s economic and external and internal political affairs because if their economy goes south there will be NO chest thumping here in America because it will affect our economy.. and the world economy in a ripple effect. THAT’s the effect of the globalism we currently are in… yet no one’s sovereignty is being challenged.

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          45. @Doug

            When you make a mistake, how about thanking the lady for the correction and moving on. She may not agree with you, but she did think enough of you to reply thoughtfully.

            Let’s say you are right. We are economically dependent on China, a dangerous, authoritarian regime. That’s a good thing?

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          46. @Liz

            Security is the primary reason for governments.

            This is so fundamental and so true. When we use government to protect each others rights, we provide the security necessary for economic activity. When we use government to redistribute the wealth, we undermine that security. Thus, the very thing people say they want from Socialism is what they lose by implementing Socialism.

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          47. Liz,

            I think we should critique the EU historically with a cost benefit analysis rather than just from an ideological perspective. What do you think that looks like?

            Europe has been the battleground for the two most destructive wars in the history of human civilization. Prior to that Europe was the source of endless wars in competition for continental and world domination. Essentially, nationalist tribalism provided the cohesive force that held nations together to fight their enemies and the divisive force that continued the destructive rivalry.

            On the other hand, for almost 80 years Western Europe has united in what can only be considered an abnormally of peaceful cooperation militarily and economically. The obvious reason for this was the existential common threat posed by the Soviet Empire. (Another less important reason may be the threat of economic hegemony posed by the US). As a result for an unprecedented amount of time, Europe has repressed their natural nationalistic tribal rivalries and in many ways essentially worked together as one nation.

            Now with the existential threat from the East diminished, Europe is fragmenting to some extent and nationalist movements seem ascendant. Given the advantage that EU membership holds to many states, it remains to be seen whether this nationalism is just a glitch or a return to the old normal.

            Questions:

            1. Given that nationalistic rivalries have been so destructive, was this unprecedented period of European cooperation a good thing?

            2. Now that they perceive the existential threat removed is this natural tribal breakup inevitable or can the nations actually overcome this?

            3. No doubt, the EU has had problems, some of which were brought to the forefront by the Great Recession, but overall has this cooperation benefited Europe or hurt it on most criteria of human flourishing?

            4. Arguably, the economic, military and cultural dominance of Europe over the rest of the world was the result of their endless competition. A new factor, however, is that with nuclear weapons, war itself is apocalyptic. If Europe is doomed to naturally fragment into the old system of nationalistic rivalries, is that competition a good thing or a bad thing in the
            long run?

            5. In many ways the US also is almost as racially and culturally diverse as Europe, both regionally and between urban and country populations. Without the existential threat of first England and then Germany and then the Soviet Union to hold us together, are we also doomed to factionalize into warring camps as we did during the Civil War, or can we instead embrace our diversity and mediate and compromise our differences by embracing our common values?

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          48. TSalmon, I don’t have time right now for the rest of your questions, just wanted to answer this one for now and I’ll try to get to the rest later:
            3. No doubt, the EU has had problems, some of which were brought to the forefront by the Great Recession, but overall has this cooperation benefited Europe or hurt it on most criteria of human flourishing?

            The EU recession was brought on largely by the very creation of the EU and its currency. Costs went up and pensions/savings cut by 50 percent in some countries.
            I initially thought Germany was well off in the bargain, but Germans I know convinced me I was wrong. One friend said her family used to eat out every other night before, and had to change and eat out only once per week after. This might not seem like a great change but think about what this does to the restaurants (cooks, staff, and owners) in the area. Consider what happens to all the tangentially related businesses are impacted, and that is a single industry…obviously less to spend means many industries are impacted. My aunt went from making about 1200 (in US dollars) to 800 a month in pension once the lira converted to the euro. She relies on my mother’s tiny pension to make ends meet. Greece is so much worse off, but the reasons are similar. This is why they’ve gone to the barter
            system.
            So this isn’t just about “cooperation”….agreements and treaties are cooperative. Think about a ship with many compartments. or submarine for that matter. I think this is a reasonable metaphor. If there is a leak in one compartment, the other areas keep the whole ship from sinking. The EU has worked to knock holes into those compartments.

            Liked by 1 person

          49. Liz,

            Interesting answer. You have more direct experience with the events than I do.

            Not long after the meltdown, I read a book called “Boomerang” by Michael Lewis where the author went around Europe documenting what was going on in each of several countries. I also read several other books and articles on how the EU may have contributed to and exacerbated the economic fall out of the Great Recession. (Like you, Foreign Affairs magazine is a favorite source). It seemed like there were different contributing factors in each country. Regardless, the whole financial catastrophe didn’t seem to begin in the EU, but with the explosion of banking and real estate bubble in this country.

            I’m sure you heard the saying that economically, when the US gets a cold, the rest of the world gets pneumonia. We are a sovereign nation with our own national banking, monetary and financial systems and yet we also suffered from the Great Recession, with some states and regions fairing far worse than others (your leaky boat example?). (I personally took a 30 percent pay cut as a new First Officer and was glad not to be furloughed). On the other hand, just North of the border in Canada where they had stricter banking regulation, they never really suffered a banking crisis.

            I’m not disagreeing with your answer. Honestly, I’m just not smart enough to know how much the EU system actually contributed to the collapse and how much each country, perhaps incentivized by the EU system, were their own worst deficit spending/euro borrowing enemies. I’m also not sure how much the EU system’s stabilizing efforts helped contribute to a quicker recovery, especially in some of the hardest hit countries. Learning from their mistakes, the EU has also made some significant changes to banking and monetary policy.

            Maybe the question is unanswerable, but one wonders whether the most objective data shows that the EU made the situation better or worst overall.

            In any event I always learn something from your thoughts and, assuming Tom’s patience on this, look forward to your other answer when you have time.

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          50. Correction to my last – the ups and downs of the professional becomes a blur sometimes: as a result of the Great Recession, my airline furloughed pilots so that I took a 50 percent pay cut when I was downgraded from captain to first officer. Luckily they brought everyone back within two years and I returned to the left seat.

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  6. Well, I lay NO claim to be as proficient as you, et al, regarding Bible passages… and I surely am not qualified to discuss their meanings. I do find it a little worrisome that the Bible is mentioned in these parts in the same sentence as Trump. It’s one thing to suffer here on Earth with him as President much less thinking he’s getting close to divine status in some minds to warrant a mention with the Bible. Nonetheless, I leave the interpretation of the Bible to you folks.

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    1. @Doug

      The Bible is the story of our redemption. Trump is a sinner. We are all sinners. You too! All of us need redemption.

      Instead of condemning someone else, the Apostle Paul condemned himself as the chief sinner.

      1 Timothy 1:12-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
      Glory to God for His Grace
      12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

      You think yourself better than the Apostle Paul? Perhaps you are. I am not your judge. I just don’t think I am better than any of the apostles, and I would not be surprised if our Lord judges Donald Trump as more worthy than myself.

      What I do know is that none of us meets our Lord’s standards. None of us is without sin.

      Since we each live in a glass house and all need redemption, we should all wonder what led our Lord to have anything to do with any of us. Therefore, I am thankful I am permitted to read God’s Word and permitted to have my name mentioned in the same context as His Bible.

      Like

  7. I too really love Ecclesiastes! I think the nihilism, the “vanity, all vanity” spoke some very comforting truth to me. A bit funny to call it “comforting,” I suppose, but when you are questioning the very nature of success, failure, and purpose, to discover that God already knows what you are thinking, that He has addressed that very thing just for you, is really comforting.

    Also, I think Solomon is really important for us in the West to study. We perceive him as wise, which is true, but his wisdom was born the real way, from doing it all wrong, from chasing wealth, women, power. The West has adopted some of those negative characteristics, idolizing our worldly goods far more then our spiritual ones.

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  8. I too have loved Ecclesiastes. I read an op-Ed the other day which mentioned that the average amount of time death row prisoners spend in prison between being sentenced to death and being executed is 20 years and 3 months. Perhaps one factor in our recent high visibility gun murders is this: “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.”- Ecclesiastes 8:11. God is not mocked, what we reap is what we have sown.

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