I do not consider myself an expert on game at all, but I could not pass up this ridiculous beta male. Notice his skinny jeans or leggings or dark stockings or whatever he is wearing. Notice how he leans in, coyly in her direction. Look at the direction of his body, his feet. It’s practically begging for her affirmation. His hands, where? Around here? No. In his pockets, listlessly, passively. Then comes that hashtag. That vicious, feelings-murdering dagger.
The idea of the “American dream” didn’t even exist for most of America’s history. It’s a phrase used to emphasize “social mobility”, a concept that everyone should be moving into an “upper class” – where the elites reside, and by means of elitist institutions. As such, higher education takes the place of working-class aspirations of skill and vocation.
See, this is what happens when you’re pro-abortion. You suddenly lose the ability to coherently make a moral argument. Any moral argument. Because once you’ve argued that child murder is moral, you’ve forfeited morality completely. And you don’t get to pick it up again when the conversation turns to refugees or immigrants.
Nothing they say consists of moral substance.
Dear Uncle Screwtape,
You recently advised me to make sure my patient was permanently fixated on politics, but I have found that focusing his arguments, gossip, and obsessions on other people’s personal piety works just as well. Making sure to keep my patient in a permanent state of moral posturing and virtue-signaling alleviates him of having to consider and engage the ideas and views of others.This allows him to place people and opinions beneath him when, in truth, they are really beyond him.
The goal is to divide in his mind “politics” from “piety”, making him think the two are mutually exclusive (when we both know they are not.) This is the danger and the key: he can never be allowed to see that all things are connected; that it can be virtuous to discuss politics, that his engagement in civil society is a moral expression of his piety. By keeping these separate, I’ve been successful in convincing my patient that whoever talks politics is impious.
You’ll be happy to hear there are now entire wards of patients who have given up discussing politics for psychoanalyzing one other’s souls. It’s a disease that breeds like wildfire.
— Yours Affectionately, Wormwood
P.S. Did you really write that previous letter? I looked everywhere for its citation but could not find it.
As soon as the rains stopped on Sunday, I found that for about a square mile around my home in Denham Springs we were on an island amid the flood. I’ve lived through a few hurricane-floods and knew people would need rescue. So, I went out on the water Sunday through Tuesday, seeing whom I could find and assist to evacuate their home. At times I used kayaks, at other times boats, depending on where I was going and how high the water level rose or fell. I went through the waters just south of Bass Pro Shop off Hwy. 16 to check on my in-laws, who at the time we had not heard from for three days. I was also able to help lots of other people in need: men, women, old people, and children were stranded, wet, hungry, and had lost everything. It was so sad! I helped an old couple out of their attic where they were hiding from the flood. Another man was on his roof and apparently had lost his mind, because he was yelling obscenities at everyone who passed by on boats. I came across three stranded people who were near their barn sitting on their horses with another five horses standing around, in about 6 feet of water. They wanted to ride them to safety but didn’t know the way, so I tied the boat to the train and we rode horses through the flood to dry ground. I saw a stranded baby duck, the parish president in a Johnboat, and farmers herding cattle through the water via jet skis (pictured). Many whom we found we brought to the dry ground near our homes, and those refugees found shelter in a local middle school cafeteria and gymnasium. These people who lost everything, especially the young children separated from their parents, would walk around on the road with nothing to wear, nothing to eat, nowhere to go, and no one to hold their hand. The looks on their faces – even on the animals’ faces – was confusion and desperation. The National Guard and policemen began blocking civilians from accessing the water on Tuesday, on Brown Road in Denham Springs. I stopped going out after that, because I could no longer access the water. Since then, I’ve been demo’ing people’s homes with family, friends, and coworkers.
I believe that the Louisiana Senator should focus on inhibiting the law from stopping civilians instead of requiring certification of civilians to have a pass before the law. In other words, the law should target cops who stop civilians, not civilians stopped by cops. Is it a risk to allow civilians out during a flood? Might not they do something dangerous and end up needing rescue? Yes, but the greater risk is not having people saving others who already need rescuing. It is not whether people will need rescuing, but which people will be rescued. It might be the cases that civilians wreck their boats and need rescuing themselves, but it is certain that flood-stranded civilians already need rescuing. And the government usually shows up to rescue people about two to three days into the flooding, whereas the civilians are there from day one. Further, there is no proof that a certification program would improve Southern Louisianan’s boating skills – we are born on the bayou and grow up in the swamps. I have been fishing since I was two or three. No one owns a flat bottom aluminum boat with a pro-drive on accident. It is more likely that government “officials” will need rescuing from The Cajun Navy. It’d be best if they stayed home and let us handle our own. The support, love, and resources from local, free people are overwhelming.
Ode To Louisiana (This became a popular post on social media.)
Louisiana is most beautiful when it is a great disaster. The entire society spontaneously comes together as if joined by familial ties. No one watches his neighbor suffer but all selflessly and voluntarily go about seeking whom they can help. And they do so with their own personal means – trucks, boats, rafts, chainsaws, shovels, food, and often at risk of their lives. We work hard and we eat grand, we are filthy but laughing, we lose our homes yet are welcomed into others. I have seen finer lands but not people. Keep the world and give me Louisiana, even in disaster.
Christians operate on an assumed covenantal worldview, which, while they deny in creed, they prove in deed.
A few examples:
- Evangelicals have lots of kids, big families, and try really hard to raise them up in the fear and instruction of the Lord. Why? Why have big families and gobs of kids, if physical covenantal succession is no longer the method of propagating the gospel and building God’s kingdom – is the kids are born lost, if there are no promises from God for their destiny – why bring more little pagans into the world on a larger scale than the surrounding lot culture? What makes our numbers higher than atheist?
- There’s a tendency in evangelical political engagement to take what Jesus said to his disciples and apply it to social policy. Jesus said forgive, so we remove penalties. Jesus said welcome the stranger, so we rally for mass immigration.
- There’s another tendency to require as qualities in our presidents those which Paul requires of his church elders. If the president has not been the husband of one wife, he is disqualified. It’s as though the civil body politic is a covenant community under God.
- The desire to confess and repent of ancestral sins is a sort of hyper-covenantalism not only not aligned with baptist theology nor covenantal theology but not even commanded in the times of OT Israel itself. How can the sins of former peoples be laid on those who decades later voluntarily joined their ranks – and often without any knowledge of their past – unless the community is seen inside a covenanted structure where the blessings or curses incurred by the previous people flow down to future generations?
Once upon a time, a foolish young man (myself) decided to climb a mountain. It was in Italy, at the base of the Dolomite range. The summer was new and the young man feeling hoppy. He had heard that others climbed it, but he paid no attention to their rules and laws (which they called advice). He wanted to walk his own way. So he went straight up it. After a few days of tortuous climbing, teetering starvation, scrapes and cuts, and near death experiences, he came to the top – only to find a family of five having a picnic with a neat blanket, drinks, and a little dog in tow. Their car was parked in a nearby parking area and they were taking pictures of the gorgeous view. The young man didn’t know that people had come before him and built a path and then a two-way paved road to the top of this mountain.
The story is true. I was the fool who climbed a mountain the hard and long way, only to find others had gone before me. I recall this story as I see Christians taking a similar route when approaching cultural matters. On issue after issue, Christians go about things as though they are the first one’s ever to attempt the matter. And, after decades of struggle, they arrive merely where others have been having their family picnic for generations.
Enter: Violence and Manhood.
Recent events have shown how unfamiliar is the Christian community with its surrounding neighbors – the gun-owning community. If you were to ask some Christians, you’d think gun-owners are all reactionary, hateful, foaming-at-the-mouth barbarians. What they do not know is that it is a natural, informed, calm, methodical, self-policing, courageous, and prepared group. Sure, there are bad apples, just as in every family, culture, or group. But the difference here is that the bad apples give rise to the need for good ones.
The same is true of manhood. Throughout all known human history, in all locations and among all peoples, manhood has been defined as including bravery and courage, defense and protection, self-sacrifice and duty, honor and battle, and using one’s strength for good. This idea is suspect today. In fact, many reading this will naturally (perhaps reactionarily) disagree, with ready examples of men not being protective but destructive. Yet, the harmful barbarism of some men is precisely the need for the protective bravery of other men. Good men would not have to sacrifice themselves if bad men did not try to sacrifice others. None would mount a defense if others weren’t trying to attack. Men wouldn’t need selfless courage if not for those who desire to inflict harm. And such has been the paradoxical history of manhood – its need arises from its violation. Where it is avoided, there it is most desired. When violence attacks, defense is called upon. And when men put off defending, they create a situation for it.
As Chesterton said in Orthodoxy:
“Let us follow for a moment the clue of the martyr and the suicide; and take the case of courage. No quality has ever so much addled the brains and tangled the definitions of merely rational sages. Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. “He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,” is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice. He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine. No philosopher, I fancy, has ever expressed this romantic riddle with adequate lucidity, and I certainly have not done so. But Christianity has done more: it has marked the limits of it in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance between him who dies for the sake of living and him who dies for the sake of dying. And it has held up ever since above the European lances the banner of the mystery of chivalry: the Christian courage, which is a disdain of death; not the Chinese courage, which is a disdain of life.”
Such have been the long musings of men throughout the ages on the issues of manhood, defense, and violence. That some within the Christian community appear just now to enter into this conversation without much awareness of or reference to its long history, does not mean none have ever pondered these thoughts or ventured these actions or embodied this lifestyle. But the mountain paths are old and well worn. Find them and make your way up. Come have some food and drinks.
In the 1940’s, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a spy/assassin against the Nazi’s and was part of an attempt to murder Hitler. But in the early 1930’s, Bonhoeffer was an extreme Christian pacifist. What changed his views?
The early Bonhoeffer spoke metaphysically, spiritually, piously, and almost poetically on how unjust suffering displays the gospel and brings glory to God. In a 1933 speech, he said,
Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won where the way leads to the Cross. Which of us can say he knows what it might mean for the world if one nation should meet the aggressor, not with weapons in hand, but praying, defenseless, and for that very reason protected by “a bulwark never failing.” …
Once again, how will peace come? Who will call us to peace so that the world will hear, will have to hears, so that all peoples may rejoice? The individual Christian cannot do it. When all around are silent, he can indeed raise his voice and bear witness, but the powers of the world stride over him without a word. The individual too can witness and suffer – oh, if only he would – but he also is suffocated by the power of hate. …
Only the one great Ecumenical Council of the holy church of Christ over all the world can speak out so that the world, though it gnash its teeth, will have to hears, so that the peoples will rejoice because the church of Christ in the name of Christ has taken the weapons from the hands of their sons, forbidden war, proclaimed the peace of Christ against the raging world.
The early Bonhoeffer also spoke of suffering as a general posture of a disciple of Christ, The Sufferer par excellence,
God lets himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross…He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us. [The Bible] … makes quite clear that Christ helps us, not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering. … The Bible directs man to God’s powerlessness and suffering; only the suffering God can help.
To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to make something of oneself (a sinner, a penitent, or a saint) on the basis of some method or other, but to be a man—not a type of man, but the man that Christ creates in us. It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life.
In his “The Cost of Discipleship”, Bonheoffer translated this posture of suffering piety into absolute pacifism. Commenting on the following passage:
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matt 5)
The followers of Jesus for his sake renounce every personal right.
This saying of Christ removes the Church from the sphere of politics and the law. The Church is not to be a national community like the Old Israel, but a community of believers without political or national ties. The old Israel had been both – the chosen people of God and a national community, and it was therefore his will that they should meet force with force. But with the Church it is different. p. 141
The only way to overcome evil is to let it run itself to a standstill because it does not find the resistance it is looking for. Resistance merely creates further evil and adds fuel to the flames. p. 141
There is no deed on earth so outrageous as to justify a different attitude. p. 142
Jesus, however, tells us that because we live in the world, and because the world is evil, that the precept of non-resistance must be put into practice. p 144
The passion of Christ is the victory of divine love over the powers of evil, and therefore it is the only supportable basis for Christian obedience. Once again Jesus calls those who follow him to share his passion. How can we convince the world by our preaching of the passion when we shrink from the passion in our own lives? On the cross Jesus fulfilled the law he himself established and thus graciously keeps disciples in the fellowship of his suffering. The cross is the only power in the world which proves that suffering love can avenge and vanquish evil. But it was just this participation in the cross which the disciples were granted when Jesus called them to him. They are called blessed because of their visible participation in the cross. pp. 144-145
How did Bonhoeffer go from his pacifism to violent action? He himself does not document this shift, so it is largely speculation, within which we must be gracious. Some have suggested that he did not choose to abandon his pacifism, but that it was more like a process that he became swept up in. Circumstances forced him to act, etc.
A few clues in the later, 1940’s Bonhoeffer’s writings give some light:
The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts.
It is true that all historically important action is constantly overstepping the limits set by these these laws [i.e., either divine law or the permanent laws of human social life] . But it makes all the difference whether such overstepping of the appointed limits is regarded in principle as the superseding of them, and therefore given out to be a law of a special kind, or whether the overstepping is deliberately regarded as a fault which is perhaps unavoidable, justified only if the law and the limit are re-established and respected as soon as possible. It is not necessarily hypocrisy if the declared aim of the political action is the restoration of the law, and not mere self-preservation.
We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds: we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use?
Only the one for whom the final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all these, when in faith and sole allegiance to God he is called to obedient and responsible action: the responsible person, whose life will be nothing but an answer to God’s question and call. (from, After Ten Years)
Bonhoeffer seems to say, in so many words, that the realities of war, violence, death, and evil forced him to act outside the normal pale of the Christian pacifist life-ethic, which he found in the New Testament.
Bonhoeffer’s assassination attempt was unsuccessful. Was his turn from pacifism useless? Should he have remained a pacifist? Should he, and others, have abandoned it earlier and perhaps prevented Hitler altogether?
It is not my purpose to judge Bonhoeffer, but to revisit history so that we may learn from it. What is there to learn here? Just what Bonhoeffer himself experienced and said, which countless people throughout all human history have also experienced, and which I’ve already summarized: The realities of evils in this world challenge our picturesque ideals.
- Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Cost of Discipleship
- Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. “After Ten Years,” in Letters and Papers from Prison
John Piper’s Article
Guns and Martyrdom (an older article, same topic)
Responses to Piper:
John Piper, Guns, and Civic Responsibility Steven Wedgeworth
A Biblical Response to John Piper Joel McDurmon
Should Christian Arm Themselves? Pastor Louis, of Emmaus Church
Dividing Line James White, starts @ 49 min, covers partially Piper’s article
Dr. Piper, I Beg To Differ James White, old article
John Piper and Guns Doug Wilson
John Piper’s Saturday Night Special Doug Wilson
General Pro-Gun/Defense Articles
Firearms: Biblical Defense Ted R. Weiland
Should Christians Carry Guns? Chad Hall
What Does the Bible Say About Gun Control? Gun Owners of America
The Bible, Guns, and Self-Defense Gary DeMar
A Biblical View of Self-Defense BiblicalDefense
A Biblical and Christian Response to Gun Control Apologia Radio
Greg Bahnsen on Guns and Self-Defense Apologia Radio