TWO DIFFERENT ROADS

bibles_books_01Over a decade passed now, but it was then I made a surprising discovery. Much of what I had been taught in public schools is not true.

How did learn of the deception? I began reading what people call the classics and historic works. When we study history, many of these great works serve as primary source documents for historians. Therefore, I have listed a small number of historic documents in Citizen Library.

What led me to read so many seeming long and sometimes difficult works? My long commute to work was driving me batty; I needed a distraction. So I decided to listen to classic works I would otherwise never read. Because my wife and daughters are Christians, the Bible was at the top of my list.

I have since read the Bible several times by listening to it, and I have read many other far less significant historic works.  I have learned there is a crucial difference between reading about history and reading historic documents.

Consider the Bible. Will what someone else says about the Bible be true to that work? Is reading what someone else has said about the Bible the same as reading it for ourselves? No and no.

Pick your favorite dessert. How could you ever describe the taste? You cannot. That’s why we are always willing to share a small sample of our pleasure with someone we love. We have no other way to share our pleasure except to help them taste it for themselves.

The same that is true of the Bible is true of any other historic work. Unless we study the great historic work of history for ourselves, instead of being informed we risk being propagandized. Instead of learning what historic men and women had to say, politicians will tell us what they want us to believe.

Why is it important to learn the truth? What is wrong with being propagandized? In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith spoke of our desire both to be respectable and to be respected. He spoke of a choosing between two roads.

We desire both to be respectable and to be respected. We dread both to be contemptible and to be contemned. But, upon coming into the world, we soon find that wisdom and virtue are by no means the sole objects of respect; nor vice and folly, of contempt. We frequently see the respectful attentions of the world more strongly directed towards the rich and the great, than towards the wise and the virtuous. We see frequently the vices and follies of the powerful much less despised than the poverty and weakness of the innocent. To deserve, to acquire, and to enjoy the respect and admiration of mankind, are the great objects of ambition and emulation. Two different roads are presented to us, equally leading to the attainment of this so much desired object; the one, by the study of wisdom and the practice of virtue; the other, by the acquisition of wealth and greatness. Two different characters are presented to our emulation; the one, of proud ambition and ostentatious avidity. the other, of humble modesty and equitable justice. Two different models, two different pictures, are held out to us, according to which we may fashion our own character and behaviour; the one more gaudy and glittering in its colouring; the other more correct and more exquisitely beautiful in its outline: the one forcing itself upon the notice of every wandering eye; the other, attracting the attention of scarce any body but the most studious and careful observer. They are the wise and the virtuous chiefly, a select, though, I am afraid, but a small party, who are the real and steady admirers of wisdom and virtue. The great mob of mankind are the admirers and worshippers, and, what may seem more extraordinary, most frequently the disinterested admirers and worshippers, of wealth and greatness. (from here)

If we want our children to be both truly respectable and to truly respected, they must study wisdom and the practice of virtue. Yet the public school system is a secular institution. When proper wisdom is Godly wisdom, we have little reason to hope our children will be taught Godly wisdom in the public school system.

Because the study of wisdom and the practice of virtue must be based upon the Truth, the study of wisdom and the practice of virtue is therefore highly controversial. As Pontius Pilate  said: “What is Truth?” (John 18:38). Then he had the Truth crucified. Thus, to avoid controversy, the public school system focuses our children’s minds on the acquisition of wealth and greatness.

 

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN WHAT?

cross2Those Who Mourn is about one of the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

Blessed are those who mourn,
    For they shall be comforted.

When Jesus speaks of mourning, what are we blessed for mourning?

Most of the time, we don’t associate blessing with mourning; maybe we should rethink this… Matthew didn’t actually say what those blessed ones are mourning; it could be the loss of a loved one, it could be the loss of their home or possessions, or it could be the sinful and rebellious state of this world. Maybe it doesn’t matter… (continued here)

Here Don Merritt demonstrates a willingness to let the Bible speak for itself. Most commentators seem to think that given the context the word “mourn” here refers to mourning our sins. Perhaps, but the passage does not say. So a broader interpretation may more appropriate. Here is how The Jeremiah Study Bible explains the verse.

The hurting. The one who weeps over the pains of life can be confident of God’s healing and comfort. The Greek word translated as comforted is also used to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In our sadness, the Holy Spirit will move us to joy.

So what then is the meaning of that verse? The Message is not my favorite translation, but sometimes it gets at the meaning of a passage better than a straightforward translation. So perhaps its translation is better.

Matthew 5:4 The Message (MSG)

4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

I watched my children as they grew, and I learned much. When one of them lost a possession, I saw the grief. I recognized it because I had known such grief myself. But such grief is a small thing. If we live long enough, like Job we will lose everything.

  • We will lose our family. Our Lord may favor us with grandchildren, but even they will not replace our spouses and the people we grew up with.
  • We will lose our health. Suddenly, perhaps, but more likely we will lose it slowly. Dribbled away. Leaving us to wonder what happened. Why?
  • We will lose our fortune. How? If nothing else because we have become incapable, we will let our children or grandchildren take control.
  • Most important, perhaps, we will lose our innocence. Can you imagine King David’s grief after the prophet Nathan spoke these words from the Lord.

    2 Samuel 12:7-12 New King James Version (NKJV)

    Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’”

Each of us sins, even best of kings, and those who mourn most see their sins, understand the consequences, and grieve.

So how does the Holy Spirit comfort us? I once heard Chuck Swindoll describe a conversation with Corrie Ten Boom. Her words to him were something to this effect.

Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open. (from here)

Since that struck me as incomplete, I searched further. So I found this quote. I think it helps, perhaps, to explain the first.

You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have. (from here)

Why are those who mourn blessed? We understand we need a savior.

HOW WE GET THE GOVERNMENT TO DO OUR DIRTY WORK

"The protectors of our industries". Cartoon showing Cyrus Field, Jay Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Russell Sage, seated on bags of "millions", on large heavy raft being carried by workers. (from here)
“The protectors of our industries”. Cartoon showing Cyrus Field, Jay Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Russell Sage, seated on bags of “millions”, on large heavy raft being carried by workers. (from here)

Were the gentlemen pictured above robber barons? I am not in a position to say. I just think that if we changed the names and faces that cartoon would be even more relevant today.

Frédéric Bastiat was a first-rate satirist of Crony Capitalism. Here is an example from Essays on Political Economy.

M. Prohibant (it was not I who gave him this name, but M. Charles Dupin) devoted his time and capital to converting the ore found on his land into iron. As nature had been more lavish towards the Belgians, they furnished the French with iron cheaper than M. Prohibant; which means, that all the French, or France, could obtain a given quantity of iron with less labour by buying it of the honest Flemings. Therefore, guided by their own interest, they did not fail to do so; and every day there might be seen a multitude of nail-smiths, blacksmiths, cartwrights, machinists, farriers, and labourers, going themselves, or sending intermediates, to supply themselves in Belgium. This displeased M. Prohibant exceedingly.

At first, it occurred to him to put an end to this abuse by his own efforts: it was the least he could do, for he was the only sufferer. “I will take my carbine,” said he; “I will put four pistols into my belt; I will fill my cartridge box; I will gird on my sword, and go thus equipped to the frontier. There, the first blacksmith, nail-smith, farrier, machinist, or locksmith, who presents himself to do his own business and not mine, I will kill, to teach him how to live.” At the moment of starting, M. Prohibant made a few reflections which calmed down his warlike ardour a little. He said to himself, “In the first place, it is not absolutely impossible that the purchasers of iron, my countrymen and enemies, should take the thing ill, and, instead of letting me kill them, should kill me instead; and then, even were I to call out all my servants, we should not be able to defend the passages. In short, this proceeding would cost me very dear, much more so than the result would be worth.”

M. Prohibant was on the point of resigning himself to his sad fate, that of being only as free as the rest of the world, when a ray of light darted across his brain. He recollected that at Paris there is a great manufactory of laws. “What is a law?” said he to himself. “It is a measure to which, when once it is decreed, be it good or bad, everybody is bound to conform. For the execution of the same a public force is organised, and to constitute the said public force, men and money are drawn from the whole nation. If, then, I could only get the great Parisian manufactory to pass a little law, ‘Belgian iron is prohibited,’ I should obtain the following results:–The Government would replace the few valets that I was going to send to the frontier by 20,000 of the sons of those refractory blacksmiths, farriers, artizans, machinists, locksmiths, nail-smiths, and labourers. Then to keep these 20,000 custom-house officers in health and good humour, it would distribute among them 25,000,000 of francs taken from these blacksmiths, nail-smiths, artizans, and labourers. They would guard the frontier much better; would cost me nothing; I should not be exposed to the brutality of the brokers; should sell the iron at my own price, and have the sweet satisfaction of seeing our great people shamefully mystified. That would teach them to proclaim themselves perpetually the harbingers and promoters of progress in Europe. Oh! it would be a capital joke, and deserves to be tried.”

So M. Prohibant went to the law manufactory. Another time, perhaps, I shall relate the story of his underhand dealings, but now I shall merely mention his visible proceedings. He brought the following consideration before the view of the legislating gentlemen.

“Belgian iron is sold in France at ten francs, which obliges me to sell mine at the same price. I should like to sell at fifteen, but cannot do so on account of this Belgian iron, which I wish was at the bottom of the Red Sea. I beg you will make a law that no more Belgian iron shall enter France. Immediately I raise my price five francs, and these are the consequences:–

“For every hundred-weight of iron that I shall deliver to the public, I shall receive fifteen francs instead of ten; I shall grow rich more rapidly, extend my traffic, and employ more workmen. My workmen and I shall spend much more freely, to the great advantage of our tradesmen for miles around. These latter, having more custom, will furnish more employment to trade, and activity on both sides will increase in the country. This fortunate piece of money, which you will drop into my strong-box, will, like a stone thrown into a lake, give birth to an infinite number of concentric circles.”

Charmed with his discourse, delighted to learn that it is so easy to promote, by legislating, the prosperity of a people, the law-makers voted the restriction. “Talk of labour and economy,” they said, “what is the use of these painful means of increasing the national wealth, when all that is wanted for this object is a decree?” (from here)

Was the law that M. Prohibant had passed to protect the profitability of his mines a bad law? Bastiat goes on to explain that it was. So if M. Prohibant’s idea strikes you as fine and excellent, please click on the link and read about the consequences of M. Prohibant’s law.

What is the lesson here? We like to blame others, but we have a republic. By themselves robber barons cannot gain the passage of restrictive trade legislation. By themselves they don’t have enough votes.

Consider.  Was M. Prohibant the only gainer from the law he proposed? Like M. Prohibant we each tend to think the laws we benefit from are good. It is the law that other people use to restrict us that we dislike. It is that self-interest that our leaders use to pit us against each other. It is that self interest that allows robber barons to buy our leaders. Instead of electing honorable men and women who refuse to be bought, we elect people who give us what we want.

What we need to do is consider the laws we want from the point of view of others. If what we want is intended only to help “me”, then we are not being neighborly. We are just being selfish.

Jesus gave us a challenging assignment.

John 15:12-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.

How do we love one another as Jesus loved? We can debate that, but is it not safe to say we should not use the law to gain privileges from each other that we do not deserve?

WHERE DO THE CANDIDATES STAND WITH RESPECT TO OUR GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS? ELECTION 2016

United States Declaration of Independence (from here)
United States Declaration of Independence (from here)

What is Donald Trump’s signature issue? He wants to control our border. Hence it is no surprise PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL LAW: ‘Borderless’ or ‘Open Society’ = Lawless Or Tyranny

In response to your last to me Tom, Immigration policy IS federal government policy. Whether that policy is to open the flood gates and grant amnesty, or instead to build some hugely expensive giant wall down the (middle? our side? their side?) of the Reo Grande and over a thousand miles of rugged border and then set up a jackbooted deportation force to round up 11 or 12 million illegal families and send them on some sort of modern trail of tears south, either way, it has to be paid for by taxpayers and OUR federal government has to do it.

You expect the President to somehow solve the structural issues that are causing refugee problems in other countries, but wouldn’t that call for us to send taxpayer resources and/or the American people’s kids and grandkids to fight in these other countries? (continued here)

Tony, who wrote the comment above, demands that we must solve all the problems of the world before we send a “jackbooted deportation force” to control our border. Yes, Tony and other Democrats will tell you they are in favor of controlling the border; it is just that we must solve all the world’s problems of the first. Therefore, only Nazis and Indian-haters would demand that we control our borders.

Do we have to solve all the problems of the world first? Consider again The Parable of the Good Samaritan. What did that kind man do when he got home and went to bed?  Don’t you suppose he did what most of us do at night? He barred the door to his home. If he lived in a city or village, didn’t watchmen stay up at night to patrol the wall? Don’t policemen cruise through our neighborhoods all hours of the day? And what about those dreaded Roman legions? Did they not keep the barbarians at a distance? Didn’t those legions make a great effort to patrol the Mediterranean Sea and their vast network of roads to keep them safe for travel?

Should we try to solve all the problems in the world anyway? Seems like a nice thing to do, right? Not exactly. You and I have a responsibility to help our neighbor, but saving the world is not our government’s job. Why is giving all our problems — all the problems of the world — to one of our great leaders a fruitless endeavor? Who would we elect? No one is wise enough, good enough, or powerful enough to take on such a task. That is true even if he or she leads the government of the most powerful nation in the world.

Our government is not God. Our government is just composed of corruptible flesh and blood men and women. In fact, the more we expect from our government — the more we idolize it — the more we corrupt ourselves and our government, the more we deliver ourselves and our government into the hands of Satan.

Consider how Satan once tempted Jesus.

Matthew 4:8-10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”

Did Jesus say Satan could not do as he said? No, but He knew Satan lied, boasting he could give what only God has the power to give.

What does the Bible say about government? The Bible says government exists to punish evildoers (Romans 13:1-7). We, on the other hand, if we turn to Jesus, were made to glorify God by doing good works.

Ephesians 2:4-10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Like Satan himself, boastful politicians will promise great things, but look to the past. Which times do we remember as being best, when we had men and women boasting of the great things they could do or when we had leaders who just sought to maintain law and order? What was the difference?

  • The boaster thinks charity consists of forcing people to obey their “generous” supreme leader.
  • Wiser leaders understand that charity requires a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7), not a taxpayer.

Now compare the candidates. Which is most likely to respect and accept the limitations of government power?

ISSUE Donald Trump Hillary Clinton
Limited Government: Government grows at the expense of our rights. Advocates tax simplification, getting rid of Obama’s numerous executive orders. Would repeal Obamacare. Approves of what Obama has done. Duh!
Immigration Control: Democrats are using immigration policy to import voters, voters who will vote themselves government benefits. Ending illegal immigration is his signature issue. Favors voter ID. Hillary Clinton declares war on Voter ID
Freedom of Religion: Religious freedom involves both the freedom to worship and the right to exercise our religious beliefs. Would fight to revoke legislation that prevents churches from participating in the political process.
Gun Rights: the right of self-defense. Trump wins NRA endorsement, blasts Clinton on gun stance at forum NRA exec says it is ‘a lie’ Clinton won’t take your guns
Judicial Restraint: the intent to appoint judges who strive to abide by the original intent expressed in the Constitution. Donald J. Trump Releases List of Potential United States Supreme Court Justices. Trump’s Supreme Court list: all conservative, some provocative Clinton’s court shortlist emerges. Her first pick would be someone Obama picked.
School Choice: the right of parents to control who educates their children and what their children are taught. Donald Trump Jr. Hits Home Run On Education. End Common Core. Nation’s largest teachers union endorses Clinton for president. The NEA is dead set against school choice (see here).

Want a laugh?  Clinton vs. Trump: The Best Argument For Limited Government Yet.

Other Views

Continued from: What Are God-Given Rights?