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[197] Open Borders

Scarcely a week goes by before we hear of another terrorist event somewhere in the world. For many, it begs the question of why there is so much political energy in support of open borders. Almost none of Trump’s policies provoke more rage and resistance than his pronouncements involving keeping certain people (illegals, those from terrorist-compromised countries, etc.) out of the US.

Why?

Because such policies collide head-on with identity politics. The latter sees the nation, not through the lens of shared common values, but as a collection of interest groups—gender, nationality, income, legal/illegal, etc., all of whose worldviews are to be equally respected. To slam the door in the face of any of these interest groups is viewed as a form of disrespect for the rights and wellbeing of that group, and hence, all the other groups.

Identity politics is dangerous, as it has a postmodern streak to it, one that rejects uniformly accepted values and laws. It removes the adhesive that binds a nation together, particularly one as diverse as ours. In many instances the goals of one group openly conflict with that of another. Therefore there needs to be legal context in which interactions take place, and those laws have to be respected, not because they are divinely inspired or emanate from Moses, but because without them there is no nation at all. DC

[196] Narcissism

I was expecting more from Hillary Clinton than narcissism. But that is what we are getting. Whether in an interview, a commencement speech, or virtually any other venue, Hillary continues to talk about how the election was taken from her—by James Comey to the Trump-colluding Russians and everything in between.

Clinton regularly professes she entered politics for the public good. The key word in that sentence is public. Her sour grapes spitting rhetoric does not align with that profession of intent. It suggests a self-centered, I-can’t-believe-I-lost mindset. Worse, she seems constitutionally unable to see her defeat in the context of her own failings. I am not going to recite those. The right wingers never tire of doing that. But what is of concern is that she seems to be engaging in narcissistic self-protection rather than sober introspection. As Fox’s Greg Gutfeld stated, she and Bill have become the acid reflux of the Democratic Party. It is time for both to go away—at least for awhile. It may be healthy for them to do so. It will certainly be in the public good for now. DC

[196] Appraisal

When you buy a building you often need an appraisal as to the soundness and quality of the structure. I suggest Christian colleges do the same in determining the soundness and quality of their Christian foundation.

An assessment might include a number of items. Here are some possibilities.

How are we doing in hiring people who can communicate a Christian worldview that can be integrated in their classes?

How are we doing in evaluating our faculty on expressing a Christian worldview in their classes?

How are we doing in encouraging our faculty to write and do research from a faith and learning perspective?

How are we doing in developing a faith and learning reputation for our institution among students and the public at large?

How are we doing in creating avenues for our students to write and speak from a Christian worldview?

How are we doing in linking with other Christian institutions to find new and fresh ways to empower our faith and learning stance? DC

[195] 1st Amendment

Remember the good old days, the time when people marched against porn and porn theaters? Remember when the purveyors of porn wrapped themselves in the red, white, and blue First Amendment blanket?

Remember that? Now Christians seem headed to do the same. It is clear that the First Amendment is not very popular in many of our colleges and universities. The mere expression of conservative political views will imperil the speaker (or in the case of the student writing a paper, the writer).

But what of the faith? How welcome would any of us be, expressing a Christian worldview on non-religious radio or television? Try a talk show. How comfortable? If you say, “not very,” you are also saying the First Amendment is under siege.

We may soon be asking the porn peddlers if they have any extra blankets. DC

[195] DC Shooting

See if I have this straight. The now late James Hodgkinson decided to shoot Rep. Steve Scalise because he did not agree with the Republican agenda.

No. Because he found the Republican agenda evil. Immoral.

And therein lies the problem.

When people make a political agenda into what amounts to the equivalent of a catechism, a setting out of the basic truths and ethics of the universe, no one is safe. That is not to say that there are not religious worldviews that inform people’s assessment of a political party’s stance. There are profound, religiously-driven differences over matters like abortion, capital punishment, and similar issues. It is to say that making a political agenda—and labeling all those well-meaning people who support it–as essentially evil, turns a civil nation into a vigilante culture.

And that is what we in the nation now. Trump is not someone with whom many disagree. He is regarded by millions as an evil man, worthy of being beheaded. It is not much better on the other side. I suspect there are more than a few on the right who harbor homicidal thoughts about Sen. Schumer and Rep. Pelosi. Not because they do not agree with these people, but because they see them as essential immoral—evil.

We are in dangerous times, especially when so few respect a catechism with two Great Commandments, given by the Prince of Peace. DC

[194] Plantinga Challenge

Alvin Plantinga, winner of the renowned Templeton Prize for 2017, is a role model for every Christian scholar.

Plantinga made his mark by advocating for the presence of religious belief into what had become, by the 1950’s, the hostile field of philosophy. Over time he changed the view of the discipline with respect to its relationship with religion, showing how religious belief can contribute to the solution of philosophical problems.

Christian colleges need to hold Plantinga up as the ideal of Christian scholarship. Many would be happy to confer an honorary doctorate on the 84-year-old icon.

But that is not the point here. These institutions should empower the example of Plantinga by encouraging, supporting, and funding efforts by faculty to integrate Christian thinking into their disciplines.

How does Christianity fit into sociology? If nothing else, it advocates that humans are essentially self-interested, giving rise to Conflict Theory and other explanations as to the nature of society. And what of psychology? Faith is often found congruent with mental health.

From meager beginnings like these, able Christian thinkers—and there are many of them—could make a strong case for the intellectual integrity of Christian notions in otherwise secular disciplines. I am certain Professor Plantinga would prefer that to an honorary doctorate. DC

[194] Bill Cosby

Irrespective the impending judicial verdict, it seems Bill Cosby’s sin has found him out. A lot of others have found out about him as well.

I was first suspicious of Cosby about 50 years ago. It was when he was a comedic rage, not to mention a star on “I Spy,” a very popular TV show in which he co-starred with Robert Culp. I noticed that Cosby was making Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion his natural habitat. You do not need an IQ as high as the speed of a major league fastball to realize what was going on. People do not go to places like these to discuss the great books, or even comedy routines. They go to indulge their sensual natures to their outer limit in an environment that is as safe (meaning private) as any such environment can be.

For the married-with-children Cosby, this meant a rather obvious double life. A double life can take time to emerge and enter the public view. Often silence is bought, and some secrets never get revealed. But when people are reckless, the facts often do surface.

So it is with Cosby. We can hate him. We can condemn him. Or we can pray for him. He does not have much time left before he will be in a place where there are no silence-buying options, and all secrets will be revealed.  DC

[193] Plantinga Award

Retired Notre Dame Calvinist philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, won the 2017 Templeton Prize. It is a $1.4MM award for making “an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” Plantinga joins the esteemed ranks of previous recipients, including Mother Teresa, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama.

But this blog is not about Alvin Plantinga. It is about yet another thing Christian colleges can do to further Christian scholarship and Christian worldview endeavors. I would like to see awards presented annually to faculty members at these schools for singular contributions of any type that further faith and learning.

Awards like this do three things. They reward faculty members for living out the mission statement of the Christian institution. They also reaffirm the Christian identity of the college or university. Finally, they send a message to all faculty and administration as to what is most important to their vocation

It doesn’t have to be $1.4MM or $14. The value of the award lies in the richness of its meaning.

DC

[193] Would They Die?

With Memorial Day just passed, a few questions entered my mind.

I wonder how many of the legions of brave souls who—for over hundreds of years–not only interrupted their lives, but actually gave their lives for this country, would be willing to give their lives for our country as it is today.

Would they be willing to die for a nation that aggressively attempts to separate God from its national identity rather than just the church from the state?

Would they be willing to die for a country that does not wish to extend its First Amendment rights to those who take politically incorrect stances?

Would they be willing to die for a country that—in the spirit of Kathy Griffin–openly disrespects its major institutions and leaders simply because they do not agree with them?

Would they die for a nation like this?

DC

[192] Non-believer

The recently infamous Kathy Griffin has never struck me as particularly intelligent, clear thinking, or even funny. I always looked at her as a rather desperate soul, one without a compass. She describes herself as a “non-believer.” One can read that as simply one who does not have a religion. One can go further, however, and look at it as one who simply has nothing in which to believe—no real foundation or central life purpose.

The latter perspective is more meaningful to me. I have many non-believing friends, some of them are dear friends. One trait characterizes each of them: They do not articulate a purpose for their existence. For them, life is a trial-and-error venture in hopes of finding what they are going to do “when they grow up.” Given their chronological age they will probably not grow up.

For the Christian there is only one purpose: To glorify God. It is a purpose way beyond our capacity to attain, given our sinful condition, but that is what makes it a life-long endeavor. DC

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