Thursday, October 23, 2008

10 Reasons to be Dismayed by Democrats: #7 Blaming the Stupidity of Republicans on the Free Market. Obama is doing this routinely. Too bad it's not true. The Republicans wouldn't know a free market if it walked up and shook their hands. Surely the Democrats know this. Unfortunately, their left flank prepares for the overthrow of economic freedom as we speak.
I'm a little lighter in the wallet today, (God love you, Seminary Bookstore) but it was a relatively painless trip. I always like to look around at the non-textbook shelves to see if there's anything from an intellectual standpoint or other vista that would make good reading. I always find something! Today, it was this book. I'm not sure if it will actually address the subjectivism issue that seems inherent in even the most nuanced versions of Sola Scriptura, but for hermeneutical process itself (if I may borrow a phrase--taking for granted that we mean the same thing--the "literal sense" of the text) theologically "conservative" Reformed people will find much agreement across the Christian world on the soundness of the process, even if the systematic theologies applied afterward widely differ. A rather boisterous, opinionated, gloriously anti-gnostic professor who teaches Covenant Theology here (let the reader understand) often unintentionally says "our tradition" a few too many times for my taste with respect to the fullness of Truth in Christ--as if I care what the Reformed tradition says, unless it's the whole Truth as best as we can know--doesn't seem to be at all bothered by hermeneutical subjectivity, as he said when pressed, "Hermeneutics is messy." Which was one of the things which started this whole inquiry. My pal Barrett Hamilton Turner said that statements like this and others provoked him as well, and now, chillingly, he has "swum the Tiber." I say "chillingly" because though I love Barrett and his young family and know that the Roman Church is ten times better (at least) with them in it, I don't see her claims as warranted yet. Comforting? Yes. Doctrine less confusing and contradictory than over here? It would appear. Christ's only real Church? Settle down, Sparky. She really is like a girl I'd lead on, but don't want to marry. (Not that I would do that in real life) What's with the crazy stuff she says?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

After the Days of War: The Making of A Conservative Obamican

I am aware, and do accept the fact that this essay represents a retraction--and a resounding one--of my previous endorsement of John McCain. Little did I know that the 2008 election here in the United States--contested by presidential candidates who routinely fail to answer the important theoretical questions posed by their stated philosophies--would become a watershed. Nor did I expect the heart of the question--American foreign policy--would become a strength for Obama, and a weakness for McCain. Especially in light of the views of the one who evaluates the case (that is, me). After 9/11 a self-professed neoconservative, I did not, and still in large measure do not, fear the projection of US military power. I believe this time of its ascendancy was altogether natural and understandable, given the rotted corpse of a certain realism which seems to prize an honored place at European cocktail parties above justice itself. I cannot overstate my contempt for it: half-hearted apologies for a blatantly corrupt UN bureaucracy which to the present day is not only ineffective (were it only this!) but actively aids, abets, and promotes injustice all over the world. I certainly sympathize even now with those American leaders, who, faced with the choice between this sad state and the troubles and trials of a Pax Americana imposed by force, would gladly choose the latter. Ask me this day who I think is a nobler example of humanity, Kofi Annan and his predecessors, or a battallion of US Marines, that's an easy call and not simply because I'm an American. And John McCain is the epitome of that heroic sort. Let me underline it: The military of the United States not occasionally but routinely attracts and produces the selfless and the other-centered. That should not be in doubt.

But war is war, and everyone pays a price. There's no discount for nobility. The monsters who attacked the United States on 9/11, all the adherents of that vicious ideology (whether before or since) thrive on death and chaos. The justifications for such violence rest, as they often do, on dubious moral equivalences. None will be made here. But shall we oblige them by creating the same destruction, varying intents notwithstanding? Perhaps we sow the seeds of the next grievance in so doing, and we reap it, even--and this is critical--when that grievance is wholly unjustified.

Yes, we should fight them, terrorists, rogue states, and other oppressors. But the means by which we do so are more numerous than we think. Commerce and technology can combine to produce an interconnected future surely more desirable than hostility. And if, after we have resolutely chosen the path of nonviolence, our enemies persist, surely it will be said that they molested a truly humble and agreeable people. In such a case, we would not be alone, and no equivalences would stand against us.