Friday, June 21, 2013

Justification and Sanctification

Justification is outside-in. We lose it if we make it inside-out. 
Sanctification is inside-out. We lose it if we make it outside-in.

-- Dane Ortlund

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Virtuous Reader

Be exceedingly careful what you read.—Do not take up a book, paper, or periodical, that happens to fall in your way, because you have nothing else to read By so doing, you will expose yourself to great evils. But, though a book be not decidedly objectionable, it may not be worth reading. There are so many good books, at the present day, that it is not worth while to spend time over what is of little value; and it is better to read the Bible alone, than to spend time over a poor book.

Reading for amusement furnishes a constant temptation for reading what is injurious. It promotes, also, an unprofitable manner of reading. Reading in a hasty and cursory manner, without exercising your own thoughts upon what you read, induces a bad habit of mind. To profit by reading depends, not so much on the quantity which is read, as upon the manner in which it is read. You may read a great deal, in a gormandizing way, as the glutton consumes food, and yet be none the better, but the worse for what you read… 

If anyone should propose to you to associate with men and women of the lowest and most abandoned character, you would shrink from the thought—you would be indignant at the proposition. But it is not the mere bodily presence of such characters that makes their society dangerous. It is the communion which you have with their minds and hearts, in their conduct and conversation… literature of the day is written by such characters. By reading their writings, you come into communion with their minds and hearts, as much as if you were personally in their company. In their writings, the fancies which fill their corrupt minds, and the false and dangerous principles which dwell in their depraved hearts, are transferred to paper, to corrupt the unwary reader. Here are, likewise, glowing descriptions of evil conduct, more fascinating to the youthful heart than the example itself would be, because the mischief is artfully concealed behind the drapery of fine literary taste, and beautiful language… 

Think as you read.—Do not drink in the thoughts of others as you drink water; but examine them, and see whether they carry conviction to your own mind; and if they do, think them over, till they become incorporated with your own thoughts, part and parcel of your own mind. Lay up facts and principles in your memory. Let the beautiful thoughts and striking ideas that you discover be treasured up as so many gems and precious stones, to enrich and beautify your own mind. And let your heart be impressed and benefited by the practical thoughts you find addressed to it.

- Qtd., from Harvey Newcomb, How to Be a Man; How to Be a Lady: A Book for Children, Containing Useful Hints On the Formation of Character (Kindle Locations 1863-1866). Lulu. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

When Given A Choice Between Two Evils...


When given a choice between two evils, choose neither.

If something is "evil," you should not choose it. If something else is less evil, you should not choose that either. If someone placed two poisons before me, and said, "The first poison is deadly. It will kill you immediately. The second poison is also deadly, way less deadly, but to be honest, it will also kill you. Now, you must choose one of the poisons..."

I'd excuse myself and say, "No thanks. I choose neither poison."

Why am I bringing this up? Because Dan Savage is on a savage mission to promote infidelity. He does so by arguing infidelity is the lesser of "two evils." The other evil being divorce. This is nothing new for Savage. His whole philosophy of life could be summarized with his approach to the ethical dilemma of EITHER divorce OR infidelity. He is a champion, not of righteousness, but small evil, or smaller evil.

Well, there is no such thing as small evil. There's gigantic destructive evil, and then there's other evil which is still more gigantic, and more destructive. Just like there's no such thing as drinking small poison. Small poison kills: it may take longer to kill you, or it may be less painful, but poison is poison. There's also no such thing as a "small" giant. Every giant is gigantic, or else he would not be a giant. Every evil is large and deadly, or else it would not be evil.

Here's Savage, in his own words:

"If one person is completely done with sex and the other person is not done with sex, what do you advise people to do in that circumstance? Divorce? Traumatize their children?" he said. "I look at that and I say 'You know, do what you need to do to stay married and stay sane. And maybe that involves cheating, but as the lesser of two evils. Divorce is an evil, cheating is an evil, there are circumstances in which cheating is the lesser evil."

Au contraire mon frere. Contraire.

Here's what's wrong with Savage's argument:

1) How does Savage know that cheating is less evil than divorce in any circumstance? Which scale of good v. evil is he referring to? Whose law? He is plucking moral truisms out of thin air with, as far as I can tell, no basis for his sliding scale of evil. Is this what God revealed to him? Or, some earthly moral authority? If so, which God? Which authority? And, what evidence does he have to show that infidelity saves marriages, and spares children trauma?

2) His argument is an example of the logical fallacy often referred to as a false dilemma or improper bifurcation. Or, in layman's terms:  dividing an issue into two, and only two, camps when, in fact, there are many more camps.

The couple Savage describes might solve their dilemma with a thousand other options beside EITHER divorce OR infidelity.

What about marriage counseling, or endeavoring to rekindle their romance, or taking a vacation together, or reading some books on intimacy, or -- and this would be revolutionary -- communicating with each other openly and honestly about their desires? All of these choices might lead to conflict, but they might also lead to greater intimacy. Whereas infidelity will never lead to greater intimacy. Never, ever, ever, ever. Why? Cause its evil and it involves deception and breaking the bond of intimacy two people share. Cause its evil. That's why.

3) Savage's whole argument about "choosing... evil" is madness. It's the kind of madness that ensnares a man who has lost his moral footing. In one sense, I can't argue with his position just like I can't argue with an insane person who insists he is Julius Caesar. He would have to forsake his whole position and come back to reality before we could make progress. The apostle Paul once engaged a similar argument, and he didn't give it the time of day:

"Hey,some people say, let's do evil so that good may result."
Paul answered, "Really? Well, whoever said that, their condemnation is deserved."

4) Savage willfully ignores righteous choices. This evil, or that evil. This is a false dichotomy, and therefore, a false choice. He is presenting couples with only two choices, both evil, and nary a righteous choice.

Which reminds me: evil is easy; it presents itself as a simple, an inevitable, way out. Evil likes to break the world up into sliding shades of black, with no light, and no bright. Taking the evil way is always taking the easy way. The couple he describes could actually choose to be loyal and loving to each other and grow as persons and as a couple. But this is hard. This requires sacrifice, and selflessness.

However, by recommending couples have only two choices (divorce OR infidelity) Savage is making it easier for the person who wants to pursue infidelity. How? He is giving them an out. Why not devote our time to teaching people the ways to rekindle their romance that would enable them to love each other better? We should not spend one second arguing in favor of infidelity. Cause it's evil. Savage could be straining his estimable communication skills in recommending ways couples can love/care for each other. But he doesn't; he takes time and pain to recommend infidelity.

5) Savage is also making it easier for the "cheater" by presenting infidelity as an option. Somethings should never be an option: no matter how desperate we become. He's casting the cheater as a person of sympathy who really has no choice but to defecate on their marriage vows.

Let's be clear, and come to the heart of Savage's savagery. He doesn't care about healthy marriage (or else he'd despise infidelity, the real killer of marriage). He doesn't care about sparing traumatized children (think of poor little Jimmy stumbling upon mommy kissing daddy's friend Mike. Now, that's trauma). He doesn't care much for sanity (or else, he avoid gaping logical fallacies). He doesn't care about the grand narrative of good v. evil (or else he'd talk about good v. evil, not evil v. lesser evil). These are all accessories on his main prize. What he cares about is a kind of sexuality that is free from moral restraint. What he cares about is doing whatever he wants to do sexually, with whoever he wants, and when he wants. He preaches infidelity, like any preacher, because he loves what he preaches; he wants to fool around with unlimited will, and so he's found an excuse, "saving marriages." But this is not about marriage; if it was, it would not be about infidelity. This is about a man who wants to practice, and wants other people to practice (so he feels better about himself), a selfish and egocentric sexuality.

For a very different view on the beauty of fidelity, and an example of a man who took the words, "for better, or for worse," seriously, see Robertson McQuilken's remarks on why he resigned the presidency of Columbia International University because he wanted to care for his wife as Alzheimer's devastated her health. He speaks of the "honor of caring (for his wife)." Whoever heard of the honor of cheating on your wife? Or, the honor of deserting your wife in pursuit of selfish selfish-as-can-be lust?

Savage's seemingly compassionate "cheat to beat divorce" prescription is dishonorable and repugnant, and frankly, disgusting. I'm gonna go ahead and say the kind of man I want to be is very far from the selfish fop Savage recommends.

Savage is just like the man who says he must cheat on his wife because she constantly nags him and he needs "emotional support." Such a man can find any excuse for his infidelity, and sooner or later, he will find infidelity because that's what he was really looking for anyway.

The truth is, if you want to do the right thing, you won't need excuses. Why? Cause its right. That's why. If your actions are righteous, you won't have to jump through illogical hoops to defend your actions; your actions will defend themselves.

No doubt, Savage seems ever so compassionate and reasonable: ever so understanding. Until you remember that some people are going to read his words today, and tomorrow destroy their true love, and maybe forever. And when they do, they'll say, "I had no choice." But they will be wrong. And when they do, they'll say, "But I have a good excuse." And, they will be wrong, again.

They did have a choice; they made it, and they made a terrible choice. An evil temptation always presents itself as the only option, as a fait accompli, the only road possible. Savage stands at the crossroads, and advises weary travelers to ignore all the roads that lead to green pastures and CHOOSE the road to perdition (cause it's the only choice anyway). But that road is not the only choice; it's obviously not the only choice because it is a choice. The very fact that we may choose it denotes that we may not choose it. There is no "to be" without a "not to be."

So, remember, when tempted to defile your love, or forsake bonds of fidelity, remember that if you do so, you are making a choice. You may choose to, but -- stop! and smell the sweet air of liberty -- you may also choose not to.

6) Savage's morality is simplistic. It's the false gods that offer up easy solutions; it's the false immorality that oversimplifies.

He is mistaken to paint the world in such a black/blacker -- either/or colors. Real couples have more complicated lives than the couple he dreams up: the-cheat-and-stay-sane or divorce-and-go-crazy-couple. Has anyone met a couple like this? I haven't. Which reminds me: he is also guilty of another fallacy:oversimplification. And, another: false analogy.

7) Savage fails to grasp that cheating is, in fact, the one and only one valid reason why anyone anywhere should/could seek divorce. He is like a doctor who endeavors to save a man's life who has a brain infection by cutting off the man's head. Sure, the brain infection will no longer impact the patient's body. The brain infection won't have a chance to kill him. On the other hand, cutting of his head will kill him. So, this is not much of a cure.

An individual has no warrant to seek a divorce because their beloved is not gratifying them sexually. What of the man who marries a woman who afterward becomes an invalid? Also, isn't the whole point of marriage that you will stick to your beloved during the hard times? What about that section in the marriage vows where people say, "... for better, or for worse." When you imagine yourself as "suffering" because your sexual longings go unfulfilled, that's what you were talking about when you said, "or worse."

But, if someone is confused enough to follow Savage's advice, and they actually engage in an affair to "save" their marriage, then their husband/wife does have every right to seek a divorce from them.

7) Divorce is not always, as he seems to think, "evil." In cases of adultery, divorce may be just and right. I say "may" because every situation is different. But, this much is sure: if one's husband/wife is unfaithful, the wronged party is the one who was cheated on (not the cheater), and the wronged party may seek divorce without guilt.

8) Savage asks, "If one person is completely done with sex and the other person is not done with sex, what do you advise people to do in that circumstance? Divorce? Traumatize their children?"

Here's what I would not advise them to do: betray their marriage vows and live a life of infidelity and dishonesty. Yeah, that is definitely not what I would advise them to do. I'd advise them along these lines: Grow up. Be adults. Serve each other in love. Also, for the one who is "done with sex" -- I'd advise this person to remember that, when they entered marriage, they gave themselves body and heart to another. Their body is not their own, just for their own gratification, but should be an instrument of love and care for their beloved.


Finally, and thankfully, we need not live in Savage's world of lesser evil. There's more colors than black/blacker; there's more colors than you can even take in during a life. We need not live in Savage's world of slavish despondency and resignation to evil. We might be free. We are not slaves to either this evil, or that evil, with no choice beside. We have a choice. In fact, we have a million choices beside evil. We can do anything, anything but evil. We can buy a tie. We can learn to fly. We can cry. We can find an egg to fry. We can multiply. We can decide to be satisfied, or satisfy.  We can find allies. We can scan the skies. We can try, and try. We can pry. We can eat pie. We can sigh. We can climb high. We can rely. We can our lusts deny. We can fight until we die.

Its not so much that we have limited choices in life, and only evil ones at that. We have unlimited choices, and scores of righteous ones. We can do anything we please, actually, because no one can force us to do evil. We can do anything under the Sun. Anything, that is, except the measly handful of evil options we stumble across.

It's not that life is full of evil, with no way out, except surrender -- true life contemplates a million good options, and stands staggered at how many good things there are to do.

When faced with a choice between two evils, choose neither. And lift up your eyes to the heavens to behold a land of good choices, a land of milk and honey, dripping sweet with righteous by-ways.


Inasmuch as certain men have set the truth aside, and bring in lying words... and by means of their craftily-constructed plausibilities draw away the minds of the inexperienced and take them captive... They also overthrow the faith of many, by drawing them away, under a pretense of (superior) knowledge... By means of specious and plausible words, they cunningly allure the simple-minded to inquire into their system; but they nevertheless clumsily destroy them.. and these simple ones are unable, even in such a matter, to distinguish falsehood from truth... Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself... Lest, therefore, through my neglect, some should be carried off, even as sheep are by wolves, while they perceive not the true character of these men... and because their language resembles ours, while their sentiments are very different... I have deemed it my unfold to thee, my friend, these portentous and profound mysteries... I intend, then, to the best of my ability, with brevity and clearness to set forth the opinions of those who are now promulgating heresy. ... I shall also endeavor, according to my moderate ability, to furnish the means of overthrowing them, by showing how absurd and inconsistent with the truth are their statements.
-- Irenaeus, Against Heresies

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Engaging Information

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind, at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald


We're in school every day. We are surround by informers, and we are engaging information. Everyday, we are in school.

Learning, reading, listening to podcasts, streaming an MP3, attending lectures, these are all endeavors which require us to engage another person who is, on some level, attempting to instruct us.

This implies that public information dispensers, those who are "information informers" (writers, film-makers, teachers, politicians, entertainers, musicians) are all about the task of teaching. And so they are, whether we realize it or not. The books we read, the shows we watch, the movies we consume, these are all teaching us something. The authors of these words have something to say (or else they'd remain silent), and the authors of these words are accountable for their words (whether they like it or not), and we ourselves are being changed by the words we engage (whether we know it or not). 

In a recent interview, The Avett Brothers spoke of the impact of their popularity: they realized they need to be careful with the message of their music because a large audience attended their every lyric; with greater influence, and a wider audience, they accepted greater responsibility. 

But, what about us, the "informed." How should we engage the "informers" all around us.

I want to mention two extremes of engaging information.

The first extreme: accepting everything.

The second extreme: rejecting everything.

In the first, we assign to our "teacher" absolute authority; we do not think it possible they could be mistaken about anything. If they say it, it must be right. Many college students take this posture before their professors. I once did, and I had an instinct toward "submitting my mind" to these great scholars. I assumed what I heard in class was true. I assumed these men/women knew everything they were supposed to know, and were right. How wrong I was.

I'll never forget when the reality of the fallibility of my college prof's struck me like lightning. I took a final exam for one of my sociology classes, and to my surprise, made a B on the exam. In my mind, to the best I knew, I had answered every single question according to the information in the text book: the very information the professor had pointed us to. So, when I got my test back, I compared every question on the exam with the section of the book it covered. Guess what? According to the book, I was right. Every single answer my Prof marked wrong was, at least according to the book, correct. The Prof had marked the correct answers on my test, and I started looking up his answers. Guess what? About 70 percent of the time, what he said was the right answer was simply wrong, or at least not as correct as the answers I had supplied. 

Then, I realized: this professor does not even know the answers to the questions on his final exam. This was a major even in my life because it was so odd, so contradictory to my perception of "omniscient professors."

Then again, we might swing to the other extreme: Approaching information and "informers" with a totally critical bent, and rejecting any and every idea from authority figures and teachers. This disposition is often the consequence of prideful know-it-all attitude, and it cuts us off from engaging in beneficial ways with others who may know much more than we do.

Right before I was to begin my PhD studies in the UK, I sat down with a Prof who'd mentored me throughout grad school and explained to him a particular anxiety. I was concerned about my upcoming PhD research because one of my supervisors was known to be unfriendly to many things in Christianity, and a purveyor of false teaching. I foresaw a never ending war with this supervisor, and dreaded having to sit under them, and try to avoid contention. I was also afraid that this experience my impact me negatively; what if I started adopting some of these views? What if my faith started failing me? What if I was intimidated into avowing positions I detested?

Then, my mentor advised me, "Try to learn what you can from this supervisor." I expected he'd say the opposite, something like, "Reject everything this madman says." But he didn't, and what he did say was worth the price of all the education I'd received before. He communicated me, in one sweet sentence, enough wisdom to fill a book: 
-Be Humble, but also Wise
-Approach the situation as a person who wants to learn
-You know you are going to disagree, so be confident in your positions. They are true...
-But don't let disagreements get in the way of profiting from someone who has something to teach you.

His counsel set me free, not only agree with this supervisor, but also to disagree. If I'd gone in with the "accept nothing," view I would've started making a straw man of his arguments: I would have had the sort of negativity that ensured I would misunderstand him. All this would have only made me more weak in my own positions, while also ensuring that I had no real knowledge of my supervisors positions. 

Instead, my mentor sent me into this situation with the best possible defense against false teaching: a desire to learn and know the truth.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Poet and The Man


A man sees a bridge – but the bridge is unseen.
A poet sees the heavenly connection between
two cleaved earthen plots,
A poet sees the bridge what God wrought
betwixt two seeming – I say seeming –
disjointed worldly tracts.

Man sees – but perceives not.
But the poet sees the connection between
two cleaved earthen plots.
A poet sees the bridge what God wrought
betwixt two seeming – I say seeming –
disjointed wordly tracts.

Poets eat bread; men will feast on leaven.
Where men see a train, on its tracks,
a poet sees two lines exact
stretching, like a child, toward heaven:
with the train, ever at his back.
Poets see the connection between men,
and counts every man a brother.
Poets the connection within men,
and draw one line to another.
A man sees the deed, but not the act –
the appearance, not the fact;
the show, but not the play –
and smiles with admiration.
A poet sees the deed to heart attached –
the shop, not the display –
and rips the playbill in frustration,
while men stand by in dim dismay.

Men conceive a world with chaos striven.
Poets see the peace where war is given.
Men lie, by oaths, forsooth,
but a poet feels the lie that bites like tooth.
and builds, and wields, a bridge by truth.
Men cover the bridges without within,
but poets uncover all the bridges hidden.

A man sees a bridge – but the bridge is unseen;
a man sees – but perceives not.
and conceives the reunion of all things,
and so while men are weeping,
the poet still finds songs to sing.

Poets see beyond seems to seams
to find a world intact.
Men see a world in disunion asunder
filled with disparate facts:
part from every part dissected.
Poets see a world connected;
poets see a world intact,
within a unity of wonder,
with myth and meaning intersected,
toward meaning directed.

A man sees what he came to see;
a poet sees what he sees:
what was, what is, and what may be.
Men pick flowers; poets consider the lilies.
Men count seeing as believing,
and ever doubt what poets believe,
but a poet knows believing is seeing –
and, by faith, his vision receives.

The Difference Between A Hero and A Villain


The villain sees injustice 
the mighty crushing the powerless 
but believing himself only acted on,
like a still tree, by the wind blown,
he decides what is is what is.
And so he mildly reacts,
and lies helpless as a fact,
apologizing for his weakness.

The hero sees the same,
and bears unto himself the blame.
And deeming himself an acto
not so much a fact, as factor 
he acts, like a wind, constant moving, never slack,
and turns justice into fact.

Injustice is what the villain views;
it is because it is  just because 
injustice is his justice: history, his law.
Justice is what the hero pursues
because – because  it is his cause.
The villain speaks of justice,
but his deeds are cold and rusty 
for just he never was.
The hero acts, and ever justly;
justice is what the dust man does.

Herein is the difference
between the hero and the villain:
one man is the tree;
the other man, the wind.
Both decide  but the hero has will.
The hero moves, the villain's still.
The villain is chained; the hero, free.
The villain is what he sees;
the hero is what he may be.
The villain becomes what he was;
the hero is what the hero does.

Herein is the difference
between the hero and the villain:
both take blows, but the hero gives.
Both live, and die, in strife;
but the villain lives  
while the hero leads  a life.

No Where There


Which came first –
the French, or the American, Revolution?
Don’t up look the answer.
Stop, and think
before you search
for absolution.

Every person I've ever asked
this question 
has been wrong
in assigning the appropriate order. 
Why is that? 
Why know we not what came after,
or even what
came before?

We are neither
last, nor first.
We have no history; 
we are nomads 
in the universe; 
nothing happened before us; 
nothing is going to happen after, either.

Our past causes us to hang our heads;
we have dim visions of atrocities
in distant dismal cities,
but we seem to have been created
ex nihilo, out of nothing, 
out of nowhere.
There's no where, there.

Do we not realize
there can be no fruit
if there never was a seed;
there can be no listening
without a voice to heed;
there can be no doubt
unless there stands a creed.

If we do think of the past, 
we think of it as a mass
of irrelevant data,
little connected to us except
that our ancestors did dire deeds.
We got an inheritance; 
it is moral debt
that sometime interest bleeds,
and sometime poems reads,
but ever to our set,
and never to our needs.

Meanwhile, still, to this day still,
our evils are not faced honestly,
nor uprightly.
Just as tragic: 
our former glory is unknown,
and taken rather lightly.

Our future causes
us to scratch our heads;
we have no goal,
and tomorrow is already past.
History is going nowhere, 
and fast.

Risk, Freedom, Law

It used to be said that a man could have liberty, so long as it did not interfere with the liberty of others. This did afford some rough justification for the ordinary legal view of the man with the pot of beer. For instance, it was logical to allow some degree of distinction between beer and tea, on the ground that a man may be moved by excess of beer to throw the pot at somebody's head. And it may be said that the spinster is seldom moved by excess of tea to throw the tea-pot at anybody's head. But the whole ground of argument is now changed. For people do not consider what the drunkard does to others by throwing the pot, but what he does to himself by drinking the beer. The argument is based on health; and it is said that the Government must safeguard the health of the community.
If a man's personal health is a public concern, his most private acts are more public than his most public acts. The official must deal more directly with his cleaning his teeth in the morning than with his using his tongue in the market-place. The inspector must interfere more with how he sleeps in the middle of the night than with how he works in the course of the day. The private citizen must have much less to say about his bath or his bedroom window than about his vote or his banking account. The policeman must be in a new sense a private detective; and shadow him in private affairs rather than in public affairs. A policeman must shut doors behind him for fear he should sneeze, or shove pillows under him for fear he should snore. All this and things far more fantastic follow from the simple formula that the State must make itself responsible for the health of the citizen.

-GK Chesterton


When tyrannical forces come to take liberty, they come not in ski masks, with machetes. They come smiling, and legislating laws that enhance public health. 

Risk is a necessary part of freedom. This means also risking getting chubby from drinking too much soda. Risk is possible for the person who has real moral choice and obligation and responsibility. This comes from a deep sense of dignity: from our root identity. The most responsible and free person in the universe is God. Also, the most dignified person in the universe is God. God has deep dignity: the self-knowledge that he can do whatever He pleases. Dignity and freedom are inseparable; freedom is a fruit on the tree of dignity. 

The danger of a law banning certain size sodas has to do with what it does to our dignity, not our waistline. Such a law is the government saying, "We are taking your freedom to choose because you are not big enough or dignified enough to make decisions. You must depend on us." Such a law is another way of saying, "The Government is in control of the person."

Whether you respect soda size or not, if you respect yourself, you are bound to buck a proposal that limits soda size. Such a proposal is also limiting your dignity: shrinking it down: saying, you count less in the universe than you thought you did, or hoped you did. 

Freedom is ultimately built on the concept of dignity; a person of dignity demands prerogative to choose for self. This necessarily involves risk because such a person knows decisions count and carry consequences. The free person assumes risk gladly because they cherish their dignity. 

At present, we consider Turkey a not-so-free society. However, when you compare Turkey's alcohol laws with NY's soda laws, you find a remarkable corollary; both claim to be in the interest of public health. Both claim to take risk away for the sake of taking care of people.

This is only comforting if you consider yourself the kind of person who needs to be taken care of.


Erdogan, a pious man who denies Islamist ambitions for Turkey, rejects any suggestion he wants to cajole anyone into religious observance. He says new alcohol laws, also denounced by the women, have been passed to protect health rather than on religious grounds.
- From, The Huggington Post.

Tingling made clear that the city's Board of Health was only meant to intervene "when the City is facing eminent danger due to disease," he wrote in the decision. "That has not been demonstrated herein."
But the mayor disagreed with this assessment, suggesting that actually obesity is an immanent danger. "The best science tells us that sugary drinks are a leading cause of obesity," Bloomberg said during a press conference in which he revealed that he would appeal the decision. "It would be irresponsible not to try everything we can to save lives, he went on. Adding later, "People are dying every day-- this is not a joke, this is about real lives."
What's more, the mayor explained, the disadvantaged were disproportionately affected: "Higher consumption of full sugar drinks leads to obesity and that happens much worse in poorer neighborhoods."- From, The Huggington Post.
Happy Meals have been outlawed in San Francisco. Very soon – unless a hero rises from the ashes – large soda will be literally illegal in New York. Two great American cities have taken it unto themselves to legislate public health. It is often bandied about that, “you can’t legislate morality.” That very sentence is self-contradictory. The speaker has a morality which amounts to not legislating some other type of morality. You can legislate morality; if not, then you can’t legislate anything. What is legislation, after all, but a set of laws pertaining to right and wrong? Morality is the only thing you can legislate. Legislation is the morality of a nation, codified.

A drama is unfolding in our nation's laws; this drama has been a morality play on the issues of equality and rights. Not once does a public figure stop to ask the simple questions: “What is equality?” “What are rights?”

For our governors, equality means “sameness." The speech on equality is unequal. And, we ought to seriously stop and ponder whether sameness is something we actually desire. Not all stars are the same; some are brighter than others. Not all people are the same: some are taller, some shorter; some brown eyed; some are men; some are women. Acknowledgement of this glorious diversity in the world is the embracing of true diversity. God makes men and women differ; he makes them differ among themselves, and among each other. Contrary to the claim that our national direction is for diversity, our national direction is careening toward sameness, toward non-diversity.

But our leaders and news sources have joined in this sameness; there is no resistance, no revolutionary.Those who claim to be revolutionary are beating the drum of the age, only slightly louder than their contemporaries. The secret of our time is that there are no dissidents. The two cycle news (Fox News v. MSNBC) system is really the one cycle news system; the two party system, really the one party system.

The cultural mavens have been very vocal about big things – actually, uni-vocal – but curiously silent on Happy Meals and sodas. To my knowledge, none of the intelligentsia has risen to condemn the inequality of a 16 oz. soda for a thirsty man requiring 32 oz. On the one hand, it seems the intelligentsia would like the government to grant more freedom; on the other hand, less. In both situations the government is domineering in that the government is viewed as the source of freedom, as the source of law. 

I am very serious when I say that soda is something worthy fighting for. If not now, when? If not us, who?


If you listen to Bill Maher, freedom means the ability to smoke pot publicly, and without criminality. Maher thinks Holland much freer than America because Hollanders can smoke pot to their hearts content. He errs in defining freedom as his unlimited individual will. He wants to smoke pot. Therefore, for him, freedom means everyone can smoke as much pot as they like. He doesn’t stop to ask whether anyone else would like to join him. No doubt, many would. But, it would be courteous to ask. The fact that he doesn’t ask is a fact which should cause us pause. The fact that he takes his view of freedom for granted – the fact that he doesn’t stop to consult other citizens – this is portentous. It looks like living in a free country amounts to Bill Maher doing whatever Bill Maher wants to do. But that’s not freedom. That is a dictatorship of Bill Maher. I might as well say freedom means I can drive as fast as I like, on any street,  I like for the simple fact that I like to drive fast.

Maher (and many others) err in defining freedom so specifically and individualistically. In another sense, they err in defining freedom amorphously, in vague generalities. That is, they don’t define freedom at all. They repeat “freedom” as a catch-phrase, as an ideal. But they never stop to ask, “What is freedom?” Freedom comes to them in a puff of marijuana smoke, nothing more; then, it lingers in the air as a cloud of smoke. Nothing more.
“The religion of the Servile State must have no dogmas or definitions. It cannot afford to have any definitions. For definitions are very dreadful things: they do the two things that most men, especially comfortable men, cannot endure. They fight; and they fight fair.”


"What is liberty?" It leaves the questioner free to disregard any liberty...
That is the problem, and that is why there is now no protection against Eugenic or any other experiments. If the men who took away beer as an unlawful pleasure had paused for a moment to define the lawful pleasures, there might be a different situation. If the men who had denied one liberty had taken the opportunity to affirm other liberties, there might be some defence for them. But it never occurs to them to admit any liberties at all.