The Biden administration has recently floated the idea of banning all gas stoves. Richard Trumka Jr., son of the powerful union boss of the same name and nepotistic selection for Commissioner of the CPSC, has made this proposal and cited potential long-term health issues (due to using them in homes without proper ventilation) as the reason. Very quickly, in the typical hive mind far-left fashion, various state governors have followed suit and very soon we can expect that Democrats will once again be limiting consumer choices.
This move is more driven by the current climate change ideological cult than actual concern for people. And the climate change hysteria is primarily driven by political propaganda rather than true science. All of which has an underlying goal of giving more power and control to a few billionaires (who meet in Davos annually) and own many of our elected (or selected) leaders.
However, as a thought experiment: If we were to assume this is honestly about public health and climate change, not some cynical move motivated by geopolitics and commodities markets, why start with gas stoves?
Why not start with pets instead?
In this progressive age of believe science and consumer protection, can we really continue to ignore the well-established risks associated with pet ownership and especially the health risks to children?
Cull the Biological Menace: Save the Children!
Anyone who has had to clean cat poo deposited on the living room carpet has learned a hard lesson. As cuddly and cute as these furballs seem to be, they are basically walking, sneezing, crapping, and puking biohazard containers.
The Chinese, during the Covid pandemic, knowing that pets were vectors of human disease, euthanized scores of dogs and cats as part of their pragmatic response to the pandemic. And it just makes sense. Pets are super-spreaders, next to impossible to mask properly, being exposed to their feces and urine can be dangerous, and that alone is a reason to ban these incubators of deadly disease.
A person who, as a result of exposure to cat excrement, has suffered from Toxoplasmosis, will think twice about having a pet in their home.
Then there’s the issue of animals attacking humans. It is terrifying to be out on a peaceful walk and suddenly be set upon by a snarling beast and knowing how many die from dog attacks. The President’s own dog has bitten several people, and this is okay? Dogs alone account for 4.5 million bites a year and many of the victims are our most vulnerable. Think of the children!
If we are to save grandma by wearing masks and getting mRNA injections, why allow these disease carrying clumps of cells (with claws and teeth) that serve no practical purpose and fit the definition of a parasite?
Add to all of that the unnecessary carbon footprint of Fido and Fifi. Feeding and watering millions upon millions of animals used for human entertainment comes at an enormous environmental cost. Many popular pets are fed with meats, which is especially burdensome, and will accelerate global cooling warming very scary climate change. We must do the right thing for the planet!
And, more importantly, why are we allowing this obvious menace to continue when there are alternatives?
Pet Reform: The Green Answer
In the spirit of progressive politics and Democrat party paternalism, l propose that we introduce common sense pet reform and ban all emissions producing pets and replace them with purring and barking electronic animals. There would be no need for kitty litter or toxic carpet cleaner after the transition. The green alternatives could be programmed to only knock over household items at a safe predetermined rate and will attack only those who our wise and tolerant revolutionary leaders call Nazis.
Think of how many lives may be changed or improved by removing this pet-stilence!
It would protect children from pet allergies, dangerous infections, cat-induced insanity (could this impact female voting patterns?), and prevent spread of other serious diseases. Just the elimination of bites leading to emergency room visits alone would justify this as a cost-saving measure. During the Covid pandemic we were told that saving only one life justified every new mandate. Has that ethical math changed?
Is there a reasonable argument against banning pets?
Who Determines Acceptable Risk and How?
The point, of course, is that we accept the health risks of pets. Why? Well, many have decided that the intangible benefits of a living companion outweigh the risk to their own health and also that of the general public. Sure, we do have leash laws and liabilities assessed when people who have pets do not take proper precautions.
And no doubt pet ownership will be the next stop for the climate change alarmists, like the very privileged Greta Thunberg, when their handlers tell them this is the scientific consensus. I mean, they’re already taking steps against farm animals and telling us to eat bugs as an alternative, do you think they’ll stop there? Not a chance, if they get their way on gas stoves, soon pets will be only for elites. These professional Karens, the petty administrative tyrants running this country, can’t be satisfied ever. There’s no reasonable compromise with them.
These bans in American politics stem from a Puritanical impulse. It is the very same thing that was behind the Prohibition, this desire to control, often sold with some kind of apocalypse tied to it as justification. Where it was once Johnathan Edwards preaching “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” the early American sermon delivered in a monotone, it is Albert Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” for this new secular version of the same old cult religion. We all must do our penance and pay the ministers of this new era—it is hard work to keep the population in line and in perpetual fear of destruction.
Banning gas stoves isn’t driven by science anymore than witch-hunts or eugenics. Sure, it is rationalized by their own beliefs about cherry-picked data and the purported implications. But water can be made to look awful if a person wants to make that case. It is the midwits, with rudimentary understanding of all things, that have this mistaken idea that life can be free of all risk, completely safe, and strive for perfect pure solutions. They accept the ‘experts’ opinion uncritically as if it is Gospel and become the “sources please” zealots which make truly intelligent conversation impossible.
Risk can’t be eliminated. Removing one risk only ever creates another. That is the real problem with complex systems. Poke in one place, to fix this problem, and the unintended consequences of a prescribed solution can vastly outweigh the benefits. The noxious invisible gas that is more a threat than nitrogen dioxide is the ceaseless and incurable arrogance of those who think it is their job to save the world or manage the lives of others. We cannot risk anymore of what remains of our freedom to please their whims, they will consume it all in the name of protection.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
C. S. Lewis
Politicians have long abused science as a means to gain power for themselves. It is what had, a century ago, inspired notions of superior race and now is what arms a new generation of young activists—indoctrinated by leftist parents, mass media and their government funded schools. It is no different from any other moral panic where critical thinking made someone an enemy of the sanctimonious mob.
I have complete sympathy for atheists and agnostics. I’ve wrestled with questions my entire life and whether or not there is a God is always one of them. But the one thing that I can’t understand is being angry about human suffering, from a rational basis, if God does not exist. If there is no ultimate good, no greater purpose or meaning to life, on what basis do we make a moral judgment about suffering?
Okay, let’s back up a second. I’m here at my local establishment drinking another Long Island, one of many since the death of Uriah, and it hasn’t given me an answer as to why he would die of cancer at twenty-four. The medical diagnosis is simple enough. He had cancer. The aggressive kind. It started with the lump on his ankle during boot camp. I still have the picture on my phone taken out of morbid curiosity and never dreaming it was a death sentence.
Uriah and I, despite our difference in age, got along in a way that only cousins do. He was like me. We didn’t simply accept those easy cliché answers. He was someone who was both determined and also full of doubts. He was also the six-foot tall and better version of everything I ever was. The best part was that I could claim some of his success for myself given that I had encouraged him to continue his college education, telling him that it was better to keep going than to live a life of regrets.
Watching Uriah sacrifice a leg only to have the cancer be found in his lungs a year later. It was a gut punch. I think I stopped praying, at some point, because I just knew what the prognosis was.
The hardest part, however, is that Uriah was not the first of his family that I had to carry out of the church on a cold winter day. His parents had already lost one of their children to a seizure disorder. His two other siblings are severely disabled and will need constant care. Judy, his mom, is an incredible woman and has extraordinary faith. Ed too has great strength of character. And neither of them wastes any time feeling sorry for themselves despite losing the one healthy child they had to this terrible disease.
Where was God?
When my little Saniyah died, unexpectedly, it was a really big struggle for me. It took me years to get my feet back under me again, spiritually and emotionally speaking, and I had both doubted my own faith along with the existence of a loving God. The death of Uriah, along with my disappointments with those whom I put my trust in, and my long wait for Charlotte, have really tested me the past few years. But, I have those who need me to be strong this time around and, for this reason, have had to push back against falling into despair again.
Nevertheless, I totally get why someone who has encountered suffering in a personal way is angry and denies the existence of God on this basis. I mean why would this kind of pain and loss be allowed if there is an all-powerful good in the universe, right? Why would God not intervene and stop this all rather than let us go through such terrible experiences? It doesn’t make much sense, does it, that we should be left so lonely and struggling if God is good.
However, if we eliminate totally God from the equation, then we dismiss religious morality and must acknowledge that there is nothing written in the fabric of the universe that says our existence entitles us to good feelings. I mean, as far as evolution goes, pain is more or less a survival tool, a feedback system to tell us what to avoid. Feeling sad about the death of a friend or family member is, by this logic, a malfunction.
In this harsh environment, where everything is out to kill us, why would we ever expect anything more than suffering?
The moral reasoning that makes this bad, if you are truly an atheist, is nothing other than a construct. In terms of pure biology, it is good that fire hurts or we might burn our arms off. That is pain for a very practical and utilitarian purpose. Undeniably good if there is such a thing. But what reasonable good is there in mourning those already dead? No point in crying over spilled milk, right? A totally rational being would simply move on to the next social resource and not be so attached or sentimental.
Being upset over suffering and death, if there is no God, is irrational. And, if there is a God, like that of Christianity, then suffering and death are exactly what we’re promised in this life. Sheesh. Did you read the story of Jesus and how he was betrayed, beaten, and then unjustly killed in the most brutal fashion all as part of a redemptive plan? If you actually believe in eternity then why be angry about a few years living out this rich narrative we call life?
At the very least, how can we judge anything, especially a fictional character, on the basis of a moral standard that doesn’t exist?
If there is no God, then there is no basis for morality either. That too, including the idea that suffering is bad or pleasure is good, is entirely a construct. Pain is good in some circumstances, it protects us from injury and causes us to change behavior in ways that are beneficial. In other words, without the discomfort of hunger or thirst, we would not correctly prioritize our life. Pleasure can be bad when it makes us eat too many donuts and become diabetic. So how does one truly know that their own interpretation of these signals is the correct one?
From what I’ve observed in myself and in others, unbelief stems from disappointment when things do not go as expected. It is about who is in control. We can cling, in our own arrogance, to this notion that the universe should bend to our will. Or realize that our own perceptions, based on senses which are not very reliable and a brain prone to making mistakes in judgment, are not infallible or ever actual truth.
The thing is we only ever know if suffering is good or bad if it is properly contextualized if we understand the end. For example, feeling the burn of exercise is good pain because it is what accompanies muscle development and so we embrace this. So what is the real context of our life? To what end, or for what reason, did we become conscious? What is behind this ‘accident’ if it is one?
How do we contextualize our existence enough to judge what is good or bad?
If there is such a thing as an eternal reward, that would change the calculus, right? It would mean that all pain can be gain, and all suffering can draw us closer as much as it drives us away because defining the moral character of any experience depends on the end. I am willing to subject myself to many hardships if the reward is big enough. No, this doesn’t take away the question of why we must go through here to get there. But seeing past our immediate feelings is pretty much the only way to make progress.
Angry is a feeling, not a guide for life…
I was at this time living, like so many Atheists or Antitheists, in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with Him for creating a world.
People don’t walk away from Christianity for rational or scientific reasons. Sure, they may guard their emotion-based unbelief behind a wall of post hoc justification. But the reality is that they’re upset about something. They had expectations and are now disappointed and acting as wounded people do. It’s just strange that anyone at all Biblically literate would suddenly lose faith over our suffering when that’s literally the only we’re promised in this life.
What really doesn’t make any sense is why anyone would rather suffer with no hope at all of eternity. If God is dead, then nihilism is the logical next stop and that life has no real meaning or purpose. But the suffering does not go away simply because we’re angry at the giver of life. No, it will only intensify and become a spiral of despair. Our salvation is in our understanding that, smart as we may think we are, we’re truly quite ignorant and even our most ‘concrete’ reality is not real:
The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.
For those who don’t know who that is, Mr. Heisenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, in 1932, for the creation of quantum mechanics. Materialism, despite the zombie corpse of this thing staggering on, died with the discovery of things in defiance of this entirely too simplistic conception. Sure, this kind of physics is well-beyond most, but it does support a notion of reality that requires a Universal Perceiver (as described in this article) and we could call that God.
So, if you’re actually serious about science, then the hard science of physics is the place to start and, with its mathematical origin and proofs, is much less likely to be clouded by emotion one way or another. We can’t run from God. But we may need to leave behind the baggage of our own misconceptions and learn the value of true repentance. Maybe Uriah died, and went to his reward, so some of us would have our flawed thinking broken and seek our salvation in Him?
Maybe some of us are just too stubborn, or too needing of control being in our own hands, to admit we can’t save ourselves?
I’ll tell you this. The universe, without God, is an infinitely dark and lonely place. It is that starring abyss of which Friedrich Nietzsche warned, the existential horror H.P. Lovecraft describes. Highly intelligent men, both of them, and understood the implications that come with true unbelief in God. You will not escape your suffering simply by denying that the Divine all-powerful good exists. No, rather you will just remain in that hell of your own creation.
Postscript: Questions Remain
I still grieve Uriah, as I do Saniyah, uncle Roland, and others that seem to have been taken before their time. I’ve long struggled against sources of trauma much more basic, the lack of unconditional love in the church that could make up for my shortcomings, and much of that is unresolved. At the time of my writing, the impossibility is something yet to be fulfilled. I do not have answers for any of this nor do I expect to. I’m not the arrogant kid who argued with his high school biology teacher, not a Bible-thumping fundamentalist at all, and yet must believe.
I’ve never been much of a fan of alternative medicine and those peddling their cure-all treatments. For one, their typical pitch being an attack an the profits of conventional medicine is actually a red flag about their own motives.
And, secondly, testimonials (or anecdotes) are fabulously awful evidence. A person can say anything they want or attribute their current positive feelings to whatever, but it doesn’t mean their A led to B assessment is actually correct.
Unless there is concrete evidence, I dismiss the alternative quacks. Sorry, I simply do not want to take or sell your mystery juice. It is disturbing that so many can’t see through this kind of nonsense.
But what is far more disturbing?
When the mainstream starts to resemble these frauds.
Yes, it is obvious that modern medicine works. My successful neck surgery as proof of this. There were measurable results nearly overnight, almost immediate relief to pain and the numbness. The whole process was very straightforward. However, that was a cut and dried form of treatment. In that they took the old broken stuff out, put some new hardware in, and gave my pinched nerves a chance to heal.
And yet, while it is amazing what can be done, not everything in our human biology is as simple as disks and vertebrae.
Indeed, there is a murkier side to modern medicine, things that aren’t 100% clear even after many years of study, having to do with the more complex parts of our physiology and how these systems interact, and this is something that must be explored. More than that, however, our own psychology, tendencies towards bias, could be leading the collective enterprise in the wrong direction.
Public health officials and regulatory bodies are, indeed, potentially compromised by this opportunity to cash in. Top US physician, Dr. Anthony Fauci had received undisclosed royalties, part of the $350 million paid by third-parties to NIH and scientists employed by this agency. No, this isn’t itself proof of corruption, people should get paid for their contributions and lobbyists may very well believe in what they’re promoting. But there is the reality that money can overrule ethics and potentially cause people to turn a blind eye to problems.
Still, this is not my go-to explanation and for the simple reason that this accusation could be made against any for-profit enterprise. I work for a truss manufacturing company and we do profit off of fire jobs and wind damage. Does that mean we intentionally set fires or build an inferior product so it fails every ten years? Absolutely not! To make such a claim is, again, more an indication of the heart of the person making it and not proof of anything unless there’s clear evidence.
#2) Testing 1, 2…Good Enough…
Testing and peer-review is also one of those areas of concern as well. And not because there is nefarious intent either. But more a matter of scope or methodologies.
My neck surgeon, for example, opted out of being a participant in a study involving a new line of disk replacement hardware because it was comparing it to a far inferior older product rather than newer better products already available. In other words, it was a stacked deck or research that is designed to lead to a particular conclusion.
That’s the big problem I have with these broad often unqualified “safe and effective” claims. It begs the question: Compared to what? Bungee jumping? A placebo?
Most people, including physicians and scientists, simply do not have the time to be experts at everything. The body is incredibly complex and nobody can actually do their own scientific research for every issue. For that reason those in the medical field must, as a matter of practicality, rely on diagnostic manuals for treatment and various journals to stay on top of things. Coloring outside the lines, challenging powerful government agencies, doing unproven or experimental treatments, is a risk of their license or a malpractice lawsuit and ill-advised. There is an inherent need for those employed in these fields to trust the system and accept what other professionals do.
If not this, if their training and education, what else are they going to rely on?
I don’t expect those employed in the medical industry to doubt the very foundation that they stand on.
Unfortunately, this reality is what makes their consensus useless. Sure, they might know much more than the average person about the science. Still, are they up all night, in the laboratory, carefully repeating the results of the latest studies themselves? No, when other experts in related fields endorse what another expert is saying it is merely a sign of statement of their faith—that being their faith in the overall system.
But it seems every other week a study comes out that seems to contradict prior findings. Most of this is due to how limited the focus of research actually is. They can’t possibly test every variable and especially not in a very short amount of time. This reality, of finite resources, is a legitimate cause for healthy skepticism and abundance of caution. The problem is that most people, including those well-educated, don’t have great critical thinking skills or even the ability to know the right questions to ask—it is far easier to “trust the experts” and go with the program.
#3) Confirmation Bias Is Always a Problem
The problem with research is that we often go in looking for a particular result. Sure, a double blind study is designed to reduce this as a factor. However, the underlying bias can show up as far as what gets tested and what does not. It can also be a factor in how we interpret the data available. Group think and echo chambers, things like functional fixedness, are as much (or more) a problem with those very knowledgeable as it is with anyone else.
One example of this is how “effective” kept getting redefined down. What once was supposed to prevent the disease and stop the spread would shift, overnight, to being a way to merely lessen the severity of the symptoms. Which is a foundation so subjective and shaky that it is basically in the same category of the testimonials used by snake oil salesmen. It is another area where the studies aren’t as conclusive as many would assume. And, at the very least, correlation does not equal causation. In other words, the vaccines could simply be acting as a placebo for those who believe that they are effective.
What is not taken into proper account is how these perceived benefits, that are shrinking day by day, weigh against both short and long-term risks.
For example, someone very dear to me, fully vaccinated, boosted, is currently suffering from a persistent respiratory illness, starting a month or so ago, and now is having flu-like symptoms again. Could this be this is a result of an immunosuppressant effect of the injection? It sure does appear that way and would be worthy of a study of the things presumed to be unrelated to the vaccines that very well may be related. There is only a trickle of information coming out, discussion of side-effects buried in the search results and censored on social media.
What is most unsettling is the reality that our mainstream medical establishment is as prone to confirmation bias as those pushing alternatives. They see what they want to see in the evidence and dismiss or downplay anything that contradicts what they were expecting to see. The biggest difference is that it is more convoluted than it is with the obvious quacks, whole institutions get on board with a solution and too often it just gets cycled through, reinforced in each cycle, without enough awareness of the potential failure due to the blinders we all wear.
#4) Political Bias Is Endemic
One of the most troubling revelations of the past few years was how awfully politicized the coverage of a pandemic was. Anyone who thought that partisan differences would disappear in times of a national crisis was dead wrong. If anything it is what likely drove much of the response. At first leading to charges of racism (for travel restrictions from the virus epicenter) and accusations of over-hyping the threat of Covid—before swinging wildly in the other direction with onerous state-level mandates that destroyed great economy on the eve of a national election.
But one of the most disturbing episodes (and disgusting) is how proven medications, like hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin, were treated as if they were especially dangerous and controversial simply because the ‘wrong’ person mentioned their potential as being a treatment option. It is truly a great way of explaining how propaganda works. The partisan media would pick the most extreme case of an overdose, ridicule a proven multi-use medicine as “horse dewormer” despite the many uses, and then misleadingly ‘fact-check’ the technicalities of language.
I mean, sure, these proven medications do not “cure” the disease. But they are most certainly treatments that are effective for preventing severe symptoms if taken prior to the infection taking hold. This is why several older doctors that I know (whom I will not mention by name for their protection) were quietly stockpiling these much maligned substances. They didn’t dare speak too loudly either or they would be risk their own medical licenses for promoting unproven cures or some other nonsense. Bullying and peer-pressure is as real for a professional as it is for anyone else.
One of the harder or more difficult problems to explain is how the common models of are often too dumbed down to be accurate.
Up until recently depression was explained as being “chemical imbalances in the brain” and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) the solution. This overly simplistic explanation has been called into question and this is a cause of alarm for those told to “trust the science” when it comes to the professionally prescribed answers.
I love metaphor and analogy to explain things less visible or intuitive. However, if these tools are misunderstood as being exactly the same as the thing being described this can lead to very wrong conclusions.
Just like a ball and stick model of atoms is useful yet doesn’t truly explain the reality (an electron is more cloud of probabilities), the various illusions used to sell parts of the pandemic response are as flawed.
Sure, the theory of “flattening the curve” is great on a graph, and swiss cheese makes a very compelling illustration of how a multi-faceted approach could work, in theory, but both give a false impression of being complete or unquestionable.
Of course, how diseases spread in the real world is different from the even the best models and it is quite possible that slowing the spread only makes things worse, as is the case with attempts to manage forest fires. In that effort to control can eventually lead to much more devastating fires. Slowing down the process could result in a scenario where the burn is thorough, everything gets consumed, rather than the alternative of a fire that moves quickly and skips over areas. The point being that analogies don’t account for the nuances and could lead to the wrong ideas taking hold in the public imagination.
No, this is not to claim that I have a better grasp of virology than those who have studied these things their entire lives. It is only to say that these illustrations give too many undue confidence. There are many factors that these crude analogies gloss over and factors that could vastly change the final outcomes. The problem is that many are unable to see the more complex picture as a result of these elementary level descriptions that are used to sell a particular approach.
It makes us unbalanced.
There is no individual that can provide an opinion that is completely infallible nor any agency that is able to offer a perspective free blindspots or bias.
Our “settled science” today make seem as bloodletting in a generation or two. And the same kind of thinking that leads crackpots to their ‘alternatives’ is also all too present in the mainstream. There is always the money motive, with the lack of adequate testing, the confirmation bias, the influence political agenda and faulty or misleading explanation, all tainting both the perception of the general public and professional opinion. The biggest difference between those who believe the quacks and those who insist that the vaccine is effective is the level of funding behind their perspectives.
This doesn’t put the outliers and mainstream on equal footing, there is such thing as strength in numbers, yet what is popular is sometimes only a product of propaganda and common ignorance.
Don’t be so sure that the things being ridiculed in the current paradigm are any different from what is being promoted. We know less than many think we know. There may be future studies or new discoveries that will completely upended the too hasty conclusions of our time.
No matter how confident we are in our own position or settled we believe a topic is, it is always best to stay humble.
If you read the Gospel narratives and get to the end of these books, you come across some very interesting passages. It is after the resurrection and right before Jesus ascends that we read this:
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
(John 20:21-23 NIV)
And according to St. Luke:
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
(Luke 24:45 NIV)
What strikes me, in both passages, is how this final transformative step took place after a long-drawn-out process of teaching and showing by example. Why go through this protracted effort if ultimately their minds needed to be opened by the Holy Spirit?
Furthermore, why even go through the centuries, from the time of Abraham on, leading these stubborn Israelite people, if the real plan is to send Jesus and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit? If all of this eighth day of creation could have been accomplished with God merely saying the word, why not skip steps A to Z or cut to the chase?
In the Beginning…
There are many who believe that anything other than a ‘literal’ interpretation of the word days in the first chapters of Genesis takes away from God’s power. In their mind it must be twenty-four-hour, the earth spinning a full rotation on its axis, days and nothing else.
Of course, knowing the little I do about language, and how words like “gay” can evolve from happy to men who prefer men, it makes very little sense to die on the hill of one particular translation from archaic language. It does not seem necessary to turn this into an either/or and especially considering that none of us were there to witness the events described. There is a sort of poetic metre to the opening chapter of Genesis, it could certainly suggest we could see this as a summary rather than something exhaustive.
All that the long way around to saying that this opening act of Scripture culminates at this moment:
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
(Genesis 2:7 NIV)
The interesting part is that this is the second account of the creation of man, whereas this is the first version of this significant event:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:26-27 NIV)
In the above account we have both male and female, or mankind, being created simultaneously on the “sixth day” and yet in the very next chapter we have Adam naming all of the animals, not finding a suitable match for himself amongst all of the creation, and this *before* Eve being formed. At best that was one heck of a long day, at worse the first two chapters of the Bible directly contradict each other.
Of course, then we get into what a “day” really is without a sun, as celestial bodies weren’t created until the fourth day according to the Genesis account. Time is not some immutable thing, it passes faster and slower depending on the reference frame, the Palmist tells us that a thousand years is as a day from God’s perspective. So I’m not sure what is gained by insisting on the one interpretation that most conflicts with the scientific evidence.
A Biblical Preference for Process
It does not take a deep dive into theology to realize the importance of ritual. Whether Namaan’s seven dips in the river Jordan before being healed, the march seven times around the walls of Jericho before they fell, or Jesus spitting in mud and rubbing it into a blind man’s eyes before the miraculous, there’s a distinct pattern of the creation doing and the God coming through to complete the work.
Maybe the repeating record of Scripture is trying to tell us something?
First, the elongated process does not eliminate or even diminish God. Sure, many of us want immediate results, we want everything to materialize, fully formed, rather than have to wait days, weeks, or years. And many do conclude after a prayer is not immediately answered or according to their own timeline, that this does rule out the possibility of God. But the clear Biblical pattern is that everything is always in the fullness of time:
So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
(Galatians 4:3-5 NIV)
St. Paul likens the spiritual transformation, made possible through Christ, to the two sons of Abraham—one of them the result of rushing the process and the other of truly Divine origin. The law is a foundation and yet not the fullness or complete fulfillment. Even now, even for the believer, we know we are not a completed work until that day we hear “well done, good and faithful servant!”
Cutting to the chase, the “formed a man from the dust” of Genesis doesn’t tell us much about the process behind that formation. But the “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” of Genesis does parallel with “he breathed on them” in the Gospel of John. The disciples, like Adam, had some kind of form prior to this transformation and enhanced spiritual life. The time they had spent with Jesus prior to their mind being opened was not purposeless.
God could have created without a process. Still, the overwhelming pattern appears to be that God catalyzes things that are already underway or set in motion. It would therefore not be all that surprising if forming out of dust alludes to an evolutionary process, which was finalized in Adam and this special spiritual life breathed into him.
What Makes Us More Than Animals?
Truly, in terms of biology, we aren’t different from animals, we have instincts that drive us, and can lose our humanity too. Indeed, we can be degraded to an animalistic existence through our actions and lose that element of being created in the image of God:
But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.
(2 Peter 2:12 NIV)
So the Bible tells us about evolution (and de-evolution) from the perishable fleshly form or physical body to those are quickened in spirit and being transformed:
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
(1 Corinthians 15:42-50 NIV)
It is this spiritual component—this ‘breath’ of God both in Genesis and the end of the Gospels—that sets us apart from the animal. We’re essentially on the same journey as Pinocchio, who wanted to be a real boy, in this pursuit of the Divine transformation. We have evolved, even if not in the Darwinian sense, from that first cell in our mother’s womb to the learning of our childhood, and this is a creative process guided by the Holy Spirit from start to finish.
The truth of a story is not proportional to our investment in it. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example, is a movie franchise worth nearly 23 billion dollars and has no basis reality other than locations. And still, despite being complete fiction, people are obsessed. We treat the characters as if they’re real, repeat their lines, cosplay to participate in the fantasy, and it does seem that many would rather be lost in this exciting world of make-believe than live their actual lives.
It is really interesting how outside observers of religions (other than their own) have no difficulty dismissing the beliefs and practices. The claims of L. Ron Hubbard, or Joseph Smith, or Muhammad ibn Abdullah aren’t all that compelling to non-adherents. I mean, come on, riding through the sky on a horse with a woman’s head and the tail of a peacock sounds more like a crazy acid trip than something to take seriously, right? But for this raised in an Islamic country, this makes more sense than Trinity or resurrection.
I’m quite certain that the Biblical narrative, whether Genesis or the Gospels, would have been far less believable had I not been indoctrinated as a child. I mean, it made sense to me then. My parents and every other respectable adult that I knew held to this belief system. It would actually be rather strange had I rejected this outright. It was only later that the vast differences between even various Mennonite sects, and facing challenges to my assumptions, that I even knew how to question.
Of course, this doesn’t make those raised outside of organized religion any more rational. Secular ideas, like Evolution and Global Warming, have taken on their own narrative framework, similar to religion, that far exceeds the actual evidence. Not all of the gaps can be explained by Natural Selection. And climate apocalypticism has strange similarities to the “end times” prophecies common with many caught up in Evangelicalism. Al Gore is basically Harold Camping with corporate sponsorship.
Most of these narratives can’t be entirely falsified. The decades and decades of dire predictions from climate alarmists haven’t come true, yet they keep moving the goal posts, even making claims in contradiction to those prior, and the next generation of conscientious young people are none the wiser. Likewise, the doctrines and practices of traditional religions evolve and get twisted every which way, to the point that you can’t get people raised in the same denomination to agree.
The strangest thing is how these various movements never die even when their claims are falsified. For example, the Seventh-day Adventists arose from the false Millerite prophecy that Jesus would return on October 22, 1844. The date came and went without event. But, despite this Great Disappointment, some who saw their central claim proven false still regrouped and continued on their way again. Perhaps the investment made was too much to simply give it up?
It takes a boatload of evidence to overturn these narratives we have built up in our minds. Bad ideas, like Marxism, even if they fail miserably in one place, are often recycled and reintroduced. At the same time, credit for plain luck is given to whatever a person wants to have credit. A boom economy, with the President you voted for, and it is obviously a product of wise leadership, right? The sun came up right after you prayed? Must be the grace of God.
All religion, all political ideologies, the trust we have in certain institutions or people, is part of our embracing narratives. Whether you believe vaccines cause autism or ended Polio depends more on who (or what) you accept as an authority than the actual evidence. Past narratives might seem irrational to you, like the idea that autism was caused by “refrigerator moms,” yet made complete sense to many influential and intelligent ‘scientific’ people at one time. Those who go against the currently popular ‘expert’ consensus can expect persecution.
All this to say that we aren’t as good at discerning truth as we imagine. In many cases what we believe is nearly as much fiction as Captain America fighting against Hydra. It isn’t just the conspiracy theorist kooks buying into narratives despite evidence to the contrary, we all do, we all believe a blend of religious propaganda, political indoctrination, and out-of-context or unqualified facts stitched together, and much of it as absurd as the narratives we reject.
I’ll have to concede, I was wrong about face masks. Early in the pandemic, in January of 2020 while the corporate media ‘experts’ were saying that we should be more concerned about the seasonal flu. I was worried about this mystery virus in Wuhan and decided to get a box of N95 masks in case my fears were confirmed. I was ridiculed, at the time, for my warnings and telling people to be prepared.
Months later, as the “no human-to-human transmission” claim of WHO became too obviously false to ignore and the glib urgings of politicians for their constituents to visit China were replaced with terror, that confirmed my warnings. But now, with mask mandates and recommendations rolling out, many friends began to resist the idea. They weren’t going to wear a “face diaper” and ridiculed the idea that a bit of cloth would be effective against a virus.
Of course, they were a little right, cloth masks aren’t at all effective against stopping the spread of the virus and now the corporate media is finally conceding this. But still, based on laboratory experiments and filtration level, I believed my N95 masks were effective. However, laboratory conditions are not the real world and, eventually, even that became a question mark for me. Many countries also require facemasks with the masks because the masks are not adequate.
A few weeks ago, I may have overstated, I said that masks were completely ineffective at stopping the spread. Technically correct since the virus spread as much (or even more) in states with strict requirements and yet I’ve also ran into some convincing data that suggests the good masks, the N95’s with a decent seal, may make an 10% difference overall. So on this basis I’ll admit there could be marginal benefit.
The Wishy-washy Way To Truth
Many people, once they’ve made up their minds, never reconsider their stance. If they believe masks are stupid then they will use every excuse in the book not to wear one. I’ve heard them all. The fear about being dehumanized. That breathing carbon dioxide is dangerous. But then they’ll contradict by calling people who disagree “sheeple” and claiming that something that can stop carbon dioxide from leaving can’t stop a virus from entering, hmm?
This is called confirmation bias. People are emotionally invested in their ideas. It is not easy to admit being wrong after making strong statements one way or another. So, rather than be on an unbending quest for the truth, most people (including your’s truly) will seek out the information that ‘confirms’ an established position and ignore what does not. It takes much more effort to take an honest (and critical) look at the evidence and go wherever it leads. Few actually do.
Confirmation (or my side) bias is powerful because it is hidden under layers of fact and explanation that sounds rational. The position being guarded seems completely reasonable to the holder of the opinion, in their eyes they own the moral high ground, and those who disagree are simply ignorant, selfish or otherwise deficiencient. It is often this moral stake in the ground that makes it so hard to back off from an established opinion, we would rather continue in the righteous delusion than deal with the possibility the other side was right.
As the saying goes, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Even a mountain of evidence cannot uproot an established position. It is the same as a fortification on a hill that can hold off waves of an assault with few defenders. That hill being our ego, the banner flying our identity, and we cling to this ground because to lose it would cause us to question ourselves, ask the hard questions of if we are truly virtuous and good, if we are actually intelligent or fooled by our own desire to be right?
It is far easier to remain in the comfort of our own righteous delusion than to consider that the very foundation of our citadel of reason could be sand. We fear changing our perspective will mean we’re wishy-washy or, worse, might require us to examine the underpinnings of other long held beliefs and leave us with no bedrock to build on. Most of all, we fear the ridicule and abuse of our ideological enemies, we can’t let them win!
Powerful Propaganda to Innoculate the Masses
The point of propaganda is to build confirmation bias. The propagandist tries to encourage an emotional bond to an idea, often through appeals to popular prejudice, and yet not overtly or in a way that the targets know they’re being used. Almost every war is fought for the financial benefit of a few and yet sold as some righteous common cause.
For example, both sides of the American Civil War felt they were fighting for civil rights. Both sides used labor that was either property outright or treated like a rented mule. The Northern elites, for all their moralizing abolitionist hubris, depended on an industrial machine that exploited poor European immigrants, taking them right off the boat to send into dark mines, dangerous factory conditions or conscript them into the meat grinder of Lincoln’s war. The South, obviously, was fighting for the privilege of the slaveholding elites and yet convinced they were depending themselves from Northern tyranny and aggression.
Propaganda is about framing an issue in terms favorable to a particular side without ever appearing to be biased to the target audience. It is subversive by design, aims to overwhelm the true complexity of debatable mathers with simple sloganeering, refrains meant to be picked up by the midwits in media and then spread by the unsuspecting masses. The point is to convince the enforcers of the order, the common folk, that they are doing God’s work, being patriots, on the side of irrefutable science or what have you, when in reality they’re serving some undisclosed agenda.
Hitler did not rise to power by being the caricature of evil that we see him as on the other side of the conflict. No, rather, he had convinced enough of the German people that he was on the side of progress, that he would remove the causes of disease and suffering, then build their country back better than ever. The Nazis dressed up in a magnificent authoritarian style, it might look bad in retrospect, knowing where it was leading, yet was hope for a nation emerging from years of crisis.
The Safe and Effective Deception
As part of the propaganda campaign, to convince people to inject the controversial new vaccines, news articles repeated the “safe and effective” mantra over and over again. Both of those words are, of course, subjective. However, they are assuring and have a sort of sophisticated ring. Surely this sort of confident declaration is the result of rigorous science and more or less an unquestionable truth, right?
But the thing most egregious propaganda is not the downplaying and dismissal of the documented deaths or reasonable concerns of those who have studied history enough to know how quickly narratives change. They are simultaneously attacking treatment options, like Ivermectin, that are truly effective, cheap and present less of a risk than Tylenol. It is actually this that makes me distrust them as far as the vaccines. Why are they so adamantly against things that are actually safer than the vaccines and with a proven record?
Even as the new vaccines have proven to be ineffective as far as stopping the spread and preventing infection, despite the natural immunity of those who had the disease being up to thirteen times stronger than the vaccines, the current propaganda narrative continues that it is the unvaccinated are the real cause of the suffering. Nevermind that Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson all have financial ties to big media and make a windfall off of this new product.
Supposedly they’re completely trustworthy this time around?
Anyhow, each day I hear stories, that man a friend knew who faithfully wore a mask, had two shots, and then died after becoming sick from the Covid virus. We have the trickle of stories about vaccine related health complications, contaminated injections resulting in deaths and recalls of millions of doses, warnings from the very inventors of the mRNA technology, and yet told that we’re a conspiracy theorist to question. Those blinded by confirmation bias will never see.
Part of my personal myth is that I was a “miracle baby,” spared from a very early demise by the medical intervention of nurses and physicians, including my uncle Elam, a pediatrician, who hand pumped air into my lungs while being transported to Geisinger Medical Center.
I had been born premature, suffered from a condition called Hyaline Membrane Disease due to my underdeveloped lungs, suffered a collapsed lung due to my hard breathing, and likely would have died without the advanced care that I received. I was a fighter, for sure, but my survival would depend on the skilled intervention of medical professionals.
My mother would tell me that story and also use it to remind me that God had a special purpose for my life. But what she didn’t tell me, until much later, is that my early trauma was actually caused by her doctor who induced labor.
My Medical Family
My mother had aspired to be a nurse. Even worked in a nursing home prior to marrying my dad. But life, including my sister and your’s truly, changed her plans.
However, as often is the case, these dreams of parents are sometimes fulfilled by the next generation and sometimes double. Both of my sisters are employed in the medical field and eventually even my mom found her way into a doctor’s office before eventually playing an instrumental role in the opening of Compassion Parochial Clinic.
My own role in all of this was to be my eldest sister Olivia’s first patient. Using her Fisher Price Medical Bag, she would check and treat my various imaginary ailments, and had her mind set on being a pediatrician like her well-respected uncle. And, after graduating high school, then acquiring a biology degree, she continued her education at Albert Einstein College of Medicine on Bronx, NY.
In fact, l feel that I may deserve a partial credit for having attended a lecture on the heart. Although, I may have missed the second half due to a terrible bout of drowsiness and was not the only one sleeping. Although, as a courtesy, I will not say whether or not my sister had succumbed.
Anyhow, my younger sister Lilian also picked a medical career, eventually became an RN, continued her education, and is now working on her licensing as a midwife. Her passion is welcoming babies into the world and is someone with a personality well suited for the job.
All of that to say that this exposure causes me to have deep respect those in this profession. One way to get on my bad list very quickly is to suggest that those in the medical field are only in it for the money and would deliberately keep people sick to cash in. Sure, there are bad eggs in every profession, some terrible doctors, but my sisters (like many of their colleagues) are there to help people get well.
That said, having family in medicine also removes some of the aura. My sisters are far more qualified to give opinions on medical issues than I am and yet they also are still human.
Doctors make mistakes, they’re fallible like the rest of us, with blindspots and bias. Plus they’re used to having totally ignorant people, who “did their own research,” challenge them on things they’ve spent years of their life studying, and can become tired of answering these inane statements—appear arrogant.
Physician: “Heal Thyself…”
People have very high expectations in regards to modern medicine. We’re supposed to go to the doctor and be completely healed.
But the reality is quite different from that. Once you get past the buzzing technology and laboratory developed chemical cures, the sterile well lit halls of institutions, our actual abilities are still quite primitive. Science may have given us better bandaid solutions than were available to our ancestors, yet there really aren’t that many miracles to be had.
My own expectations have lowered considerably after two injuries requiring expert examinations.
The first, diagnosed as Degenerative Disc Disease, brought me to the office of the renowned neurosurgeon, Dr. Rajjoub. I had terrible pain, loss of strength and feeling on my right side, my neck was really bad from what my family doctor saw on the MRI. My parents, after we waited what seemed hours, finally were escorted into the examination room and were full of anticipation.
Having done our own research, knowing the seriousness of my injury, it was quite certain that I would be under the knife soon. They would open things up, remove the bad, and fix me up better than new!
The physician strode into the room. He looked over the charts and images with intensity and then, without hesitation, “physical therapy” and started to turn towards the door. Stunned, my mom, speaking for the three of us, our mouths agape, “Wait, what?!?” It was as if he just told a blind man to rub mud in his eyes and was simply going to leave. He explained further, telling us about the risks of the procedures, how my neck movement would be limited after, and restated his recommendation.
Dr. Rajjoub was right. After weeks of therapy and further exercise at home, I was able to regain feeling and the use of my right arm. Sure, I occasionally have painful flare ups and may need the surgery some day, but the doctor had given me the right answer even if it was not the one that I wanted to hear at the time. Modern medicine has advanced, yet it is our body that still does most of the healing.
A Comical Contradiction
After tearing my ACL I met with an orthopedic surgeon to discuss the options available. Still active, I expressed my desire to get back in the game and he responded by recommending surgery. They grafted a part of my hamstring tendon in where the ACL had been and I spent the next few months becoming good friends with Rob and Bob at Keystone Care Physical Therapy and impressing the old folks there with my vertical leap.
Unfortunately, after a year of intense rehab, I was playing basketball and reinjured the repaired knee. So I went back to the orthopedic surgeon for a consultation and his advice? He suggested that maybe I slow down a bit, that I was no spring chicken anymore (a paraphrase) and should probably avoid strenuous activities. Excuse me?!? I had thought I went through the surgery and physical therapy so that I could actually use the limb, right???
But that’s typical of a doctor’s advice. He was trying to minimize the risk of my reinjuring my knee, to cover his own butt, and could I really expect him to say anything otherwise? To tell me to go full throttle again? I can understand why he would urge my caution. And still I can’t deny being disappointed. My thought had been that this surgery would allow me to pick up where I had left off and instead I got a cease and desist notice.
The Undiagnosed Nightmare
I’ve reconnected with an old school friend. I rode the bus with him for many years and we shared a first name.
It is quite astounding, actually, how we got reconnected. That being a story for another time. But one thing memorable about this old classmate is how he was always complaining about pain in his feet. At a younger age I had thought of him as being weak or a whiner. He had been diagnosed as being flat-footed.
However, it was a little clearer that there was something more seriously wrong when, in middle school, a fall, after a playful shove in the hall, resulted in a broken hip.
Anyhow, at our one-on-one reunion he would let me in on his the true source of his suffering and something that the medical professionals had missed. Something that doctors had initially told him was all in his head, that the genetic department of an area research hospital refused to even test, turned out to be Fabry’s Disease, a rare genetic disorder where the body is unable to produce a particular enzyme, which means the body is unable digest certain proteins, and is a death sentence if not properly treated.
He had gone through hell. A breeze on his skin felt like torture. They had treated him with addictive painkillers that basically turned him into a junkie. And his proper diagnosis came from an uncle who read a story about someone with similar symptoms, a revelation that prompted my friend to demand the diagnostic tests for the genetic disorder and only then did he finally receive the necessary treatment. The medical system had both failed and saved him.
The Miracle Hoped For…
Then there’s my cousin Uriah. Nothing, not the most advanced treatment in the world, could save him. The prognosis was never good, Synovial Sarcoma, but I held on to the hope that some new cure might come along, some miracle might happen, and he would survive.
It was hard to watch. First after one round of him taking poison, called chemotherapy and the only thing that will keep the corrupted human cells called cancer from growing, they decided that he would need to sacrifice his leg. This Uriah and his family did everything they could, he received top notch medical care at Walter Reed and elsewhere. But there was not much that could be done for him.
The limitations of modern medicine is a bitter pill. And those seeking ‘alternatives’ do not fare any better if diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. I know many strong-willed individuals, in partial denial of the graveness of their condition, who traveled to places like Mexico for some kind of breakthrough treatment and suffered the same fate. Better technology may come along soon and yet disease and death is as natural as health and life.
There is a myth, popular in some circles, that if a person eats right and exercises they will be rewarded with long life. Uriah was one of the most fit and disciplined people I know, there was nothing he could have done better, he was dealt a bad card.
“In 2002 James lost his 19-year-old son after he collapsed while running. He had been diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia by a cardiologist a few weeks prior and was released from the hospital with instructions not to drive for 24 hours.
“His death certificate said he died of a heart arrhythmia,” he said, but my son really died as a result of “uninformed, careless, and unethical care by cardiologists.” He explained: “If you have a patient with heart arrhythmias of a certain level and low potassium, you need to replace the potassium, and they did not. And they didn’t tell him he shouldn’t go back to running.” Communication errors, he said, are “unfortunately very common.”
What is left out of this story is that a century ago he would have simply died from the arrhythmia.
In fact, only half a century ago my great-grandfather died, a middle-aged man, of a heart attack because there were no surgeries widely available.
So, truly, modern medicine is a victim of it’s own success, things have improved so much from the time when many people died of many diseases, even at a young age, that we now expect perfection. Our ancestors, not too long ago, would have no treatment options, whereas we demand answers when the treatment fails.
Those who expect too much will be the most sorely disappointed. Those who expect to be saved from suffering by science will some day be faced with a harsh reality and, likewise, those who believe that there’s a cure for cancer being withheld are equally delusional. This idea that we have complete control, that there should somehow be a cure for everything, is a product of our success in medicine and also ignorance of what this success actually means.
Sure, some of us, like my grandpa, may have died on multiple occasions had it not been for medical advancements like Penicillin, prostrate surgery and pacemakers. But, even now, with the great progress we’ve made, we’re still all eventually going to wear out. Our bodies have a shelf life and all the intervention in the world isn’t going to do much to change that. Eat healthy, exercise enough, avoid getting hit by a truck, and you might see eighty years, maybe more if you have good genetics. But we won’t live forever.
So, before we become too critical, rather than only dwell on the failures, we should look at the advancement and appreciate the success. Results will always be a mixed bag, even those who have received the very best care, men like Steve Jobs, do not live forever nor will you. Even Lazarus, brought back to life by Jesus, eventually died. And my friend, the one with the missed diagnosis, would long ago have joined Lazarus had it not been for modern medicine.
Recently, through the Freedom of Information Act, by request of Washington Post and BuzzFeed News, a trove of Dr. Fauci’s emails have been released and the revelations therein causing a great uproar online. On one side there’s the “I told you so” crowd doing their victory lap. While, on the other side, is the supposedly unbiased ‘fact-checkers’ and corporate media denial professionals trying to argue that there’s nothing to see here.
So, is Dr. Fauci a national hero, a seasoned expert who helped the nation navigate a crisis, or should his head be on a pike?
Let’s start with who Dr. Fauci is and why he is the focus of national attention…
Doctor in the Spotlight
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., was born in Brooklyn, NY, on December 24, 1940, to parents who operated a pharmacy in the city, his grandparents were immigrants, he was raised Catholic and now considers himself to be a humanist. He was a standout basketball player in the private Jesuit high school he attended, went to Holy Cross University for pre-med, and then attended Cornell University’s Medical School. He married Christine Grady, in 1985, who is described as “an American nurse and bioethicist” in Wikipedia, and they have three daughters.
In early 2020 Fauci was selected to be part of the Trump administration’s White House Coronavirus Task Force (now serves as Biden’s chief medical advisor) and very quickly was singled out by the corporate media for his sometimes seemingly contrarian positions with the President. If anything, his elevated role and becoming the face of the pandemic response has more to do with partisan politics of those desirous use him as a foil against President Trump than it does with anything else. Even Fauci himself, in the emails, seemed confused about his new celebrity status.
There were many stories lauding Fauci. There is no indication that he wanted to become the public figure he has become. He did not have the power to tell states what to do. But now, because he was portrayed as this unquestionable expert, he has become symbolic of the shutdowns and mask mandates to many Americans. Fame, even if unasked for, is a two-edged sword. One can quickly transition from hero to heel once the spotlight begins to reveal their blemishes. By putting Fauci front and center of the Covid response, the partisans have given us ample reason to scrutinize just who he is.
I personally, as someone with a sister who is a medical doctor and another who is a nurse, I am also not comfortable with many of those trashing Fauci’s reputation. I’m equally opposed to demonizing him or trying him in the court of public opinion. That said, as one who has some life experience, I also understand the value of second opinions when it comes to medical interventions. Fauci’s opinion should have been considered one of many, as part of a task force, and should never have been positioned as a rival to the President. That was dirty politics, completely a media creation, and likely hurt the pandemic response.
The Politics of Pandemic
Ideally, in times of national crisis, where many lives are at risk, partisan politics would’ve been put aside and the nation would rally behind the leaders elected no matter their party affiliation. In that world, the President, informed by various economic and medical advisors, would make the executive decisions and government agencies would do their best to put these decisions to practice. However, in the current polarized hyper-partisan environment, and with a Presidential election looming in 2020, the pandemic was treated by many as simply another divisive political tool.
No world leader’s response to Covid-19 was perfect. For example, had European governments followed Trump’s lead and shut down travel from China early on in the pandemic we might have had more time to prepare. It is easy to forget, but before social distancing and shutdowns became vogue, many social elites were minimizing the threat and calling Trump a racist for warning the world about the virus. In Italy, for example, they were urging people to give hugs to Chinese people to prove their own virtue. Our Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, urged her constituents to visit the crowded streets of Chinatown in San Fransico.
Trump was criticized for urging calm and being a cheerleader once the danger of Covid was finally realized. And, before that, was criticized for shutting down travel from China and accused of fear-mongering for speaking out. He could not win. He was resisted at every turn while trying to take steps to prepare and then accused of literal murder for the deaths in this country as if the world was somehow doing better. Few here would know that the US death rate is actually lower than that of Europe, per capita, but the stories here would focus on death totals to build the image of Trump’s failure.
Fauci, on the other hand, was not allowed to be criticized. He was praised endlessly as a representative of science, as bold and unbiased, a source of all truth and wisdom. His word was to be treated as irrefutable, god-like, his perspectives treated as the only one that mattered, and Trump asked over and over again, “will you follow Dr. Fauci’s recommendations?” It was presented as this horrendous thing that Trump may not take this one man’s advice on how to respond, as if there weren’t teams of other advisors to be heard and other concerns to be considered.
Every smart patient knows to get a second opinion on serious matters. Even the best physicians, experts in their fields, can misdiagnose or prescribe the wrong treatment. And this idea that “following the science” means worshipping or never questioning, men like Fauci is pure ignorance. It is dangerous ignorance.
But, as ignorant, is holding Fauci to an impossible standard because others put him on a pedestal.
On one hand, I completely understand the resentment that some hold towards this man that has come to symbolize the economic destruction brought on by state governors following Federal guidelines. However, much of what is being said now, in wake of the released emails, is as unfair as the coverage of the previous administration. Those against mask mandates and economic shutdowns are doing the same thing to Fauci as the corporate media propagandists did to Trump. His comments, like Trump’s comments, are being ripped out of context by many commentators, without explanation, and that’s a problem.
Yes, some of the emails show that Fauci withheld certain ideas about the origin of the virus and was initially dismissive of masking, yet nothing I’ve seen so far is smoking-gun evidence of his wrongdoing. Of particular interest is his involvement in funding the Wuhan lab, during the Obama administration, and whether or not this may have been a conflict of interest. And then there is the ethical issue issue with “gain of function” research that must be explored. My goal is to give fair treatment to the man and offer my own perspective as far as the content of the emails.
To Mask or Not To Mask?
One of the most contentious issues of the pandemic was the mask mandates. These state level policies, following the recommendations of the Federal government, were viewed either as life saving and scientifically proven or as terrible infringements on liberty and pretty much totally ineffective.
My own leanings, as someone who purchased a box of N95 masks in January of 2020, is that masks offer a marginal protection, if the correct type and properly used, and yet the mandates were basically useless. First cloth masks don’t offer the level of filtration that is necessary to trap the water droplets carrying the virus. Second, some countries required both a face shield and mask because they determined that masks alone weren’t effective.
The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep[ing] out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you. I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a very low risk location.
And also saying this:
Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection…
Now, I believe he’s right in both cases. Masks only offer minimal protection. Covid spread through factories where everyone wore masks and states with mask mandates really didn’t fare better than those that did not. I understand that urge people have to “do something” and there are several flawed studies that back up the idea that masking is beneficial. However, I really do not see evidence that it makes a significant difference. Real life doesn’t match up with laboratory conditions. And thus that was likely behind Fauci’s pragmatic first take.
What is a bit unfair about the criticism about this apparent reversal in opinion on masks is that we all change our minds all the time. Sometimes I may disagree with some of my colleagues on something, state my own perspective, and then later amend as new evidence comes in. However, what is disturbing is where Dr Fauci explains this flipflop as being protection of mask supply for medical professionals. In other words, he is basically admitting to having lied to the American people about the effectiveness of masks. If that is the case then he should not be given a free pass.
The ‘Debunked’ Lab Leak Theory
One of those banned topics on social media was the theory that Covid-19 may have come from the lab in Wuhan, China. It made sense, a deadly virus emerges at a market within walking distance of Wuhan Institute of Virology, why not put that laboratory on the list of suspects? But for some reason discussion of this possibility was forbidden until very recently when it was revealed, through US intelligence, that researchers at this lab had become ill shortly before the virus turned the surrounding city into a warzone.
The Fauci emails also reveal that this possibility, even that Covid showed signs of being engineered for “gain of function” research, were discussed. Now, frankly, this is just good forensic science. It would be more shocking had this never been considered at all. And the batting this idea around alone is not proof that this is what had actually happened.
However, that so many literally conspired, with a foreign entity, to suppress this hypothesis (Big Tech censorship stifling the online conversation, corporate media fact-checkers claiming it had been debunked, etc) should be a cause for global outrage.
Of course, the most laughable claim of media propagandists, at the time, was that it was racist to link the virus to the Chinese Communist Party. Nevermind this was from the same people who had no problem with taking aim at wet markets and bat soup. But somehow that criticism of Chinese eating habits wasn’t a problem while taking a closer look at a laboratory that was studying coronavirus and bats was inappropriate.
Anyhow, given that Fauci had come out in full support of gain of function research and also been a force behind funding the Wuhan lab. Could it be this history explains the private discussion, in emails, and simultaneous public denial? Possibly, yes. It is very clear there’s a conflict of interest. Of course there’s a reason for him to keep a lid on what could be proof of his culpability for millions of deaths worldwide.
The result of Fauci’s silence, and corporate media stupidity and bias, is that something that should have been thoroughly explored months ago is only now being openly discussed. This has given a totalitarian regime, known for deception, more than enough time to cover up the truth and their role. Precious time has been wasted on what could be the biggest crime against humanity in the history of humankind. We have experienced a death toll and economic damages greater than twenty nuclear bombs, countless innocent lives destroyed, and the likely culprit was protected by a web of denial, collusion between Big Tech, the corporate media and high ranking government officials—like Dr. Fauci.
If the January 6th fracas is worthy of consideration for a Congressional Commission, then we really should dig deeper and investigate the true cause of a global pandemic that killed millions. No, there’s no smoking gun in the Fauci emails, or least none that I could see, and yet there is more than enough reason to suspect that one of our leading experts had tried to keep a lid on the Wuhan lab theory because of his own ties to the research. And still our corporate media speaks glowingly of him, as if he could do no wrong, the fact-checkers scurrying to tell us there is no bombshell revelation in the emails.
Dr. Fauci: Authority or Arrogant?
One thing that the pandemic has revealed and the emails only further confirmed, is the complete arrogance of our institutions. For whatever reason Fauci and others felt it was okay to mislead the American people, to tell the so-called “noble lie,” and then they wonder why trust is waning amongst the people they’ve deliberately deceived? Meanwhile, those who should be holding their feet to the fire, our ‘journalists’ (who now also see themselves worthy to pick winners for us rather than simply report), embarrass themselves with their fauning praise.
Is Fauci the sole source of all real science and truth?
No, absolutely not!
Is he a total fraud unworthy of his position?
Well, that is something worthy of investigation and yet to be determined. Innocent until proven guilty is still the law of the land. And I do not believe in trials in the court of public opinion. Again, while there are questions of ethics and culpability to be answered, that our corporate media should be asking rather than singing his praises, nothing in the emails implicates him of a crime.
My own thought, knowing what is known, is that making Fauci the fall guy would be letting too many others off the hook. Sure, he represents an accountability problem with the political establishment and elites who are protected by their own interests at the expense of the American people. No, they don’t simply “follow the science” nor are they invulnerable to group think or free from all bias. They’re human, like us, they make mistakes, they have political agendas and hidden motivations too. It isn’t about secret conspiracies so much as it is a matter of human fallibility, in general, and arrogance.
Over the course of the past year Fauci’s name has become synonymous with authority and science. But much of that is smoke and mirrors. He is truly only one qualified voice of many and was only made the face of the pandemic as a way to undermine Trump. This is pretty much the only reason why he is loved by one side and loathed by the other. Politics. The politics of the pandemic cloud good judgment. And those caught in this political fray deserve better than to be torn up by the mob or raised up like saints.
Fauci, given the voting patterns of NYC and government lifers, is probably as Democrat as one could be. That could explain some of the looks of tension, and tedious corrections, when Trump used his layman’s terms during press conferences. But, unlike the media narrative that constantly pitted him against the President, the emails showed this conflict between the men was massively overblown.
In the end, Dr. Fauci has the swagger of a Brooklynite, cocky or confident depending on who you ask, and amazing stamina for a man his age. But he should have never been made a celebrity, never turned into this unquestioned authority on matters of science or used as a tool of partisan politics.
Being raised in a fundamentalist sect meant taking the Genesis accounts as being a historical narrative. I had been taught, and had for many years accepted without question, the idea that the veracity of the Gospel message hinged on the most ‘literal’ interpretation of the first book of the Biblical canon.
This understanding of this book had worked fine to get me through my school years. I gave my high school biology teacher, Mr. Toohey, an atheist who had once considered the priesthood, a headache debating the textbook claims about mutations, millions of years, and Macro Evolution. At this age, I thought this style of apologetics, debating science using the words of Scripture, was a key to securing the faithful against doubts and winning unbelievers.
Unfortunately, while this understanding may serve well those who do not venture too far from the Young-Earth Creationism intellectual ghetto, against what amounts to strawman versions of secularist arguments, it doesn’t hold up as nicely against a serious challenge and has left many religiously indoctrinated high and dry in their years in a university-level science program. There is a reason why many in my former religious tradition are terrified of higher education.
Even seminary was a synonym for cemetery to one of my childhood Bible-thumping pastors. It should make one wonder. If the foundation of faith is so flimsy that it can’t be tested, that it can only be sustained by ignorance, then what’s the point?
Sadly, it was a false choice, this dichotomy between science and religion, education and faith.
Getting the Cart Ahead of the Horse
The Biblical fundamentalists got everything exactly backward. The truth of Christ does not depend on proving the Scripture, word for word, is completely 100% historically accurate and scientifically verifiable. It is nice when those things do align, sure. And yet, no matter how many mundane parts of the Biblical narrative are established this way, the fantastic claims are never proven.
If a politician lists off ten facts and nine of them turn up true according to the fact-checkers, does that make the final most grandiose claim true?
No, no it does not.
One of the most persuasive tricks of liars is to hide their one falsehood amongst a long list of facts and true statements. And likewise, someone could prove 99.9% of Biblical claims and still not have touched anything of the miracles. The Bible is true because it says it is true might work for idiots and the indoctrinated, but it is always circular reasoning and there being a town of Bethlehem doesn’t mean Jesus walked on water nor establish His divinity and conquering of death.
No rational person believes that a prophet flew from Jerusalem to Mecca, on a half woman half horse with a tail of a peacock, because they read it in a book. I’m certainly not going to wear magical underwear because some dude, a few hundred years ago, claims he received golden tablets from the angel Gabriel. So why would any reasonable person expect someone to believe a book written thousands of years ago? Sorry, Ken Ham, I don’t care how many replica Arks you build, you’re not winning skeptical minds or hearts with this effort.
Human efforts fail.
When Sarai reasoned with Abram to produce an heir through her maidservant, how did that go for them?
We know it didn’t go too well and have the commentary of St. Paul:
Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: “Be glad, barren woman, you who never bore a child; shout for joy and cry aloud, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.” Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
(Galatians 4:21-31 NIV)
Here we see the contrast of human efforts “according to the flesh” and those of a spiritual and Divine origin. St. Paul emphasizes the “son” which is “born by the power of the Spirit” as an alternative to the “son” human reasoning that produced conflict and heartache.
It is amazing how many times St. Paul, and Jesus before him, encountered those who believed Scripture word for word and rejected Jesus as Lord. They, in many ways, had a stricter interpretation of the text than many of us do and did not face the strong headwind of modern science and philosophy either. And yet, even meeting Jesus in the flesh, seeing him with their own eyes, taking Scripture as literally as anyone, they saw Jesus as the imposter and rejected Him. So, how then can we be saved?
Fortunately, that question is answered many times over and over again, by St. Paul, and has next to nothing to do with the book of Genesis. The truth of Scripture is established on Christ, and His church, which established the canon of Scripture and does those “greater things” that Jesus promised would come through the power of the Spirit. Yes, we preach and teach, but only God can bring the increase. So, the apologetics industry starts us out on the wrong foot and doesn’t produce true faith in Christ.
Our salvation does not depend on our own understanding of a book. St. Paul, in Romans 9:16, states clearly, that our sonship depends on God’s mercy, not human desire or effort. Scripture is the cart, not the horse. We accept that the Bible is true because we believe in Christ, and His Church, not because we can establish it through our human reasoning or effort. Faith is a work of the Spirit, a gift from God, not a product of our knowledge or works. Those trying to ‘prove’ the Bible are on a fool’s errand. trying to save themselves, slaves to human reasoning, lost and confused.
What Does That Have to Do with Babel?
Hopefully, the Noah rode on a T-Rex crowd is too triggered with that intro, because now we shift to something they may find more agreeable and that being the even greater monument to human reasoning and effort.
But, first, the tower of Babel narrative:
Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
(Genesis 11:1-9 NIV)
This story is likely the origin of the phrase, “men plan, God laughs.” Actual historical event, ancient myth or both, does not matter, the tower of Babel narrative is so much more. The account speaks to human limits and hubris, a true story told over and over again in history and a lesson repeated in different ways with each passing generation. The moment humans forget their place, begin to rely on their own cleverness and start to see themselves equal to their own Creator, the clock to destruction begins to tick.
These people, in the Biblical account, had somehow overcome the odds, they evidently were a resource-rich civilization, more powerful than external threats, and ready to cement their name in history. But just when heaven seemed within their grasp, the very thing that they had sought to avoid, being scattered, brought the entire endeavor grinding to a halt. Now Babel, the name a play on words that meant “to confuse,” is a synonym for colossal human failure. Sure, maybe it is an origin story for the diversity of language. But, undeniably, it is also a cautionary tale.
Other accounts tell us that this confusion of languages, by God, was to save humanity from the total destruction of another flood. In other words, it was an act of mercy to prevent an even greater calamity to end this project and scatter the people. But, more than that, it is a lesson about not leaving God out of the equation. What does that mean? Well, that means that we can’t see everything and, without humility to reign in our ambitions, we are an existential threat to ourselves. The proud fall because they cannot imagine the factors that they, in their overblown confidence, have missed.
Our Modern Towers of Human Arrogance
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
(Isaiah 29:14 NIV)
History is replete with examples of bold declarations followed by catastrophe. Neville Chamberlain’s quip of having secured “peace in our time,” through a treaty with Adolf Hitler, comes to mind. Hillary Clinton was, according to the experts, most definitely going to win over Donald Trump.
But now it is time to tie all these threads together. The same thing that brought about the Protestant schism, also led to the Enlightenment, spread of Democracy, and, ultimately, the rejection of God.
This “age of reason” got off to a relatively good start, scientific discovery, development of technology, and representive government has enabled us to be more free and prosperous that many prior generations. However, as the tower of our knowledge and independent spirit rose, as we have made leaps in medicine, even landed a man on the moon, when American exceptionalism (the ultimate expression of Protestantism) finally conquered all, and our hegemony was nearly unchallenged, suddenly a day of reckoning seems to be upon us and this colossus, this oversized imagine of human endeavor, seems in danger of collapse.
A couple of decades ago it felt as if we were on the cusp of a new epoch. Racism vanquished, our old enemies irrelevant, the world connected as never before, the internet ready to put all knowledge at our fingertips and the stars seemingly within our reach. Secularism and science had triumphed over superstition and myth, we imagined no religion, nothing to kill or die for, as Coca-cola taught the world to sing. Former seminaries, our universities, forgetting God, became temples of human reason. “We didn’t need church or religion to be good people,” the atheists cried, while standing on the shoulders of theologians whom they dismissed, “in fact, we’ll go further without it!”
However, my own optimism has unravelled over the past decade or two.
Star Trek and the Jetsons still remains, firmly, in the realm of science fiction. The internet is a cesspool, filled with crackpot opinions, censored by billionaires bullies who pretend to be gatekeepers of truth while they spread misinformation, and nothing like a child of the 90s would’ve imagined. As church attendance slips, depression and drug usage has steadily increased—along with suicides and mass shootings.
Our universities, rather than continue to value free thought and expression, now have strict speech codes and safe spaces. The minds that once sought to improve the human experience, now only deconstruct tradition and erode the very ground that their institutional ivory towers were constructed upon, too drunk with nihilism to care. Even Coke brand, that once celebrated human diversity, has joined the graceless cult of woke in attacking “whiteness” and civilization itself—as if they have forgotten what has made their own comfortable ‘privileged’ life possible.
The government, “for the people,” that at least gestured towards the needs of the citizenry, now only serves global corporations, the powerful elites and special interests. The US flag, once a symbol of hope, the American ideal, and our unity as diverse people, something black athletes proudly wrapped themselves in less than a generation ago, has now been reimagined as a representation of oppression and hate. Our faith in our institutions is failing, the left decrying systemic racism, the right suspecting election fraud, nearly everyone feeling unheard.
We’re a civilization consuming itself and maybe it is because we’ve forgotten this:
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
(Galatians 5:13-15 NIV)
We don’t go to church anymore, a trend that started before the pandemic and has only been accelerated, and “love your neighbor” is now used as a guilt trip rather than a reason to change our own toxic attitudes or be involved on behalf of others. John Kennedy’s call to service, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Those words, spoken today, would likely be derided as some kind of dangerous “ism” in today’s me-first, my tribe, my way or the highway, divisive identity driven, you’re literally a Nazi if you disagree, political environment.
Have we reached new heights only to implode?
What is really going on here?
Pride Cometh Before the Fall
Satan, we’re told, was the very best of the angels. His magnificent greatness eventually led him to believe that he was a rival to God. Jesus warned his disciples, having returned exuberant from working miracles, that he had seen Satan “fall like lightening from heaven” (Luke 10:18) and reminded them of their place before the Almighty.
Hubris is the downfall of many and the idea that we can find all of the answers for ourselves is that. With each success, with every innovation and breakthrough, there is a danger and risk of overconfidence.
In the past few centuries have seen our knowledge and abilities increase like no other time in recorded human history. The West threw off the authority of Rome, with the reasoning that every man was able to comprehend Scripture outside of the tradition of the church. Not long after, the authority of Scripture itself was called into question. Why do we need a book of myths written by those who lack our sophistication and understanding of the world? God was erased from our institutions, prayers only a ceremonial and many imagine themselves to be self-made or little gods. It is the height of ignorance:
You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me” Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?
(Isaiah 29:16 NIV)
But it isn’t only the cultural elites, the atheists, the politicians who only pay lip service or liberal theologians whittling away at morality until there’s nothing left. This spirit of self-reliance, and arrogance, permeates through the whole civilization. We are blinded by information, buried in jargon, tangled in complexity, yet think we’re englightened.
We should be pumping the brakes, as technology advances faster than our ability to comprehend the consequences, I see it even (or especially) in those emerging from sheltered religious cloisters. Sure, the are the reactionaries, afraid of all change or improvement, but then there are those who have a little education and embrace it all nof realizing the potential. Our brightest minds are working on things much more dangerous than nuclear weapons, creating biological agents, developing artificial intelligence, considering climate altering measures, all potentially having the possibility of irreversible side-effects, and truly playing with fire.
We believe we are in control but are most definitely not and, with our new power, are one or two mistakes from an unmitigated disaster.
Like the tower of Babel, which likely took years of planning and building layer upon layer, our modern civilization was built. Our confidence has grown and exponentially along with our accomplishments. We’re clever, we found cures for disease, invented means to travel to the ends of the earth and beyond. But the higher we ascend the easier it is to forget what we are and where we came from. We didn’t create ourselves nor do we know as much as we think we know and this should always keep us humble.
Thinking we are God or next thing to God will, inevitability, lead to chaos, confusion and ultimate collapse into disorder. The bigger our collective endeavor gets, the more we live on our own reasoning and strength rather than depend on faith, the less able we are to cooperate, we erode the very foundations of civilization and the destruction will be swift. God, in His mercy, will scatter us before we become too foolish, with our great knowledge, to be saved. Human reasoning is a dead end, we cannot transcend ourselves outside of God’s help. If we reject that help we will fall.
Recently I was asked, by a friend on Facebook, a Social Justice Anabaptist, to participate in a “focus group” discussion with Conservative Anabaptists who Support Trump (which they refer to as CAST) and for the stated purpose of finding common ground. I have no reason to doubt the intentions of such an effort, although there is a sort of wariness that comes from having observed these kinds of conversations, it reminds me a bit of the foot-in-the-door tactics of Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormon missionaries. This “having a conversation” can be code for a sort of Evangelical push of agenda.
But, my initial skepticism aside, I’m not truly part of the Anabaptist church anymore and I’m not sure how they would find common ground with me except they abandon their “former delusion,” stop dividing themselves into political categories, conservative and liberal, truly follow Christ and become Orthodox Christians. So, if they want my advice on how to heal their current schism, perhaps they should look to reconciling the much more significant division from the Apostle’s church first and leave their political disputes to a different venue?
Furthermore, I’m not sure that I “support Trump” so much as I oppose partnering with corporate elitist interests, in bed with a Chinese Communist dictatorship, against my neighbors. I did not vote for Trump in 2016 and even wrote several blogs (1,2,3) to persuade my conservative Mennonite and Amish peers to reconsider. It was only since then, since observing the viciousness of the assault against Trump and reconsidering my own perspective of the man, that I realized I had been duped by some very sophisticated propagandists.
No, that is not to say that my criticisms of the man were invalid, but understanding the other side, knowing their agenda and tactics, certainly can put him in a different light.
While I do not support those who confuse the American flag with the cross, I likewise have must warn those who are fooled into believing that the Gospel of Jesus is compatible with the divisive Social Justice narrative and grievance culture. As I’ve said in another recent blog, there is no rivalry between the kingdom of heaven and the ordained governments of this world. They are two parallel systems, one for our physical protection from evildoers and the other for our salvation from sin and death.
I don’t have a problem with voting for a leader who best fills the role of government described in Romans 13, providing some general protections for all people, but I do think it is problematic to use the government to enforce Christian morality and values. The point of Jesus saying “sell all and give to the poor” was not to express a Socialist ideal, or else he would’ve joined Judas in his rebuke of that woman’s worshipful display of pouring out expensive perfume, but rather it was to point people to the kingdom of heaven. In other words, Judas was trying to turn the words of Jesus into a political solution for social inequalities, while Jesus was primarily interested in the salvation of souls. So, unlike a leftist who looks to government as savior, I do not look to Trump (or any man) to fill the role of Christ. The President, in my view, is put in his position for a purpose different from my own. I do not look to civil authority to bring salvation to the world any more than I look to the fast-food employee flipping my burger to be my bread of life.
So, with all that in mind, here are my responses to the questions offered by the Social Justice Anabaptist:
1) What are the top three issues in ranked order you think best answer the first title question?
Rational, issues-based, voting is a myth. We make decisions based on our intuitions, our experiences, and what we know (or think we know) about the options available. Most elections come down to a choice between two candidates and are decided on the basis of their individual character or that of the ‘side’ which they represent. I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 because I had questions about his character that could not be resolved. But, that said, I certainly did prefer the risk-taking approach of Trump over that of the careful, yet seemingly dishonest and conniving words of the alternative, and was proven right when she suddenly changed her tune about accepting election results to push a relentless “resistance” campaign based upon a fictional Russian collusion narrative.
2) Would you say the Bible has much to say to guide us in our political choices?
Men look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. There are many chosen by Jesus, to lead his church, who did not measure up to the standards of the smug and sanctimonious religious leaders of that day. Trump is outwardly flawed, he wears his faults on his sleeves, he is called a narcissist and other nasty things, but the blue-collar guy (hurt by ‘progressive’ tax, trade, and border policies) saw his heart better than the truly privileged social elites who hate him. Ultimately, God is sovereign, parsing the Bible for a concrete answer or justification for every choice is foolishness, and my stating some eloquent theology in defense of my choices wouldn’t persuade a skeptic regardless.
3) If so, what Bible verse or spiritual concept guides your political thinking most?
Nothing specific. But generally, God gives us freedom and choice. God also, for our own common good, provides boundaries and divisions. Cities had walls, civilizations have laws. The kingdom of heaven, while open to all who repent, has clear entry requirements.
4) I have heard a lot of folks say that they support the platform though they don’t particularly support the man, Donald Trump, his personal behavior, rhetoric and swagger. Do you feel like that is the consensus of CAST you know?
This question reminds me of the Pharisee, whose house Jesus was visiting, and protests the blunt commentary, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.” (Luke 11:45). He gets bulldozed. Jesus doesn’t lose a beat. Jesus continues to hammer his point home. There are several times when Jesus gets questioned for offending the elites and he doubles down rather than soften his tone.
The political class often hides their corruption under pious speech and pretense of righteousness. Trump is hated by these people for his crudeness of speech and swagger. But the working class is more concerned with actual substance over style, they aren’t at all offended by a little shop talk, and there’s also a reason for Trump being extremely popular in hip-hop and rap culture. Or at least Trump was popular before his political enemies poisoned this connection.
Incidentally, those who have a problem with Trump’s flamboyant style are probably also, for strategic or cynical reasons, holding back on their judgment of others of similar behavior. By saying Trump is “not Presidential” or complaining about his neglect of decorum, they may actually be implying that he’s not elite (or white) enough for the office. In other words, it is sort of a racist or classist thing. Trump, in being like an uncultured average person, offends those who feel superior to all and entitled to rule.
Anyhow, those who said that Trump would choose conservative Supreme Court Justices were proven right thrice. That will be Trump’s legacy more than his personality, that and the fact that he didn’t lead us into another war, that he brokered several peace deals, and was extremely restrained in his response to the violence of leftists. Sure, maybe Trump is a Twitter troll, but at least he cared enough about random Iranian soldiers to call off a retaliatory missile strike in response to the downing of a drone. So maybe it is time for you, who judge him, to start considering his actions over his rhetoric? Maybe he is right to stand apart from the fawning praise of John “bomb-bomb-Iran” McCain and to defy the neocon establishment? He was elected to put America first, to end endless wars, and that’s exactly what he did, yet some ‘Anabaptists’ still hate him because he isn’t a smooth warmongering liar like his predecessors?
5) Is there anything about his rhetoric, swagger or personal behavior, that does resonate with you or CAST? If so, can you explain that a bit?
Trump’s lack of a facade is a breath of fresh air compared to the lawyer-speak and “focus group” silliness of most in the political class. Psalm 55:21 could easily describe many others: “His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.” I prefer Trump’s recklessness and hyperbole, that he attacks others in the privileged class, over those who call common folk “deplorables” and “chumps” behind closed doors or in front of a partisan audience. I’ll not soon forget how Obama allowed his surrogates to slander the loyal opposition as “racist” for opposing his massive expansion of government power. The pretty “mean girls” may get away with their exclusive cliques and bullying because they have such sweet smiles and know how to use their outward beauty work the system, but that doesn’t make them good people or actually superior to those less sophisticated.
6) I assume one of the reasons, you support Trump is his opposition to the “liberal agenda.” Can you identify one part of the liberal agenda that is the most problematic to you?
Depending on coercion and threat of violence to take the property of one group to give to another, so that you can manipulate these others into being a loyal voting bloc? Do I really need to explain to an Anabaptist how unChristian that is?
7) Urban – rural divide. A look at the electoral map shows a dramatic difference in voting patterns based on population density. It seems that one of the things that resonates with Trump supporters is his disdain for the “urban elite.” Can you explain who that is because I might actually fit that category? Can you then explain what it is specifically that makes the urban elite so distasteful?
An elitist Social Justice Anabaptist won’t be able to see it anymore than those who condemned Jesus could understand their own need of him. There is much to say about the pride of the religious and social elites. The left seems to believe that they have all of the answers to everything, they condescend to minorities and treat them like helpless children, keep them dependent, and yet are truly full of themselves. Living in an urban environment is to be removed from the earth, what is natural and good, and is to have the privileged of not having to see the hard work that goes into putting bread on the shelf of that corner store. The exposure to the cosmopolitan world gives one a delusion of being more well-rounded and knowledgeable, yet also comes with a lack of groundedness and the humility of good discernment as well. That is why many elites rejected Trump. I mean, how dare he misspells a word on Twitter or be honest about the threat presented by open borders?
8) Trump has made negative comments about “democratic cities?” Do these comments resonate with CAST? Can you explain one or two top things about democratic cities that are negative?
Maybe you should look up Kimberly Klacik?
She said it best…
9) Trump supporters talk a lot about his defense of religious freedom. Can you help me understand that? What freedoms are we talking about specifically? Are these the sort of things: Right to post Ten Commandments in the courthouse, right to not sell wedding cakes to gay couples, right to not pay for abortive contraception for your employees? Right to worship in groups in spite of COVID?
Why do your ‘scientifically motivated’ Democrats make exceptions for their own, for violent protests and premature celebrations of a Biden win? Why do they support ending the life of a fetus, a separate living human, while claiming to be compassionate and concerned with rights? Why do they choose a fictional identity over biological evidence when it comes to X and Y chromosomes? Why is it okay to demand that someone bakes a cake celebrating a homosexual union, but then perfectly fine for a business to turn someone away people for not wearing something that invades their personal space?
Most conservative Christians simply want the tolerance to go in both directions. However, the left is constantly (like a domineering mother) imposing their own values and preferences on everyone else. Again, God gave us the freedom to follow Him. God also ordained the government to provide some basic order, keep the evildoers restrained and good people should not fear this. But, that is not and never will be a license for tyrannical rule.
10) Health outcomes of African Americans and also low income individuals of any race are substantially worse than the general population resulting in higher mortality rate for nearly every disease and almost every age group. Which responses do you think best describe the CAST response to this information: You may select more than one.
That’s sad, but it is not a government issue.
The Democrats’ efforts such as Medicare for All wouldn’t help this number anyway.
That’s fake news.
That’s sad and healthcare is an issue I disagree with Trump on.
I never heard that before I would have to think about that. Other.
Maybe the questioner hasn’t been around enough poor white people?
Anyhow, this idea that black and white are homogeneous groups, where all white people are equally ‘privileged’ and all black people are all hapless victims in need of help from white ‘progressives’ (you) is absolutely racist. Various studies show that liberals talk down to minorities, there is this racism of low expectations, and I’ve seen this first hand.
I’m quite familiar with the condescending ‘helpful’ attitude, the patronizing, and pandering behavior.
I’ve been around conservative Mennonite inner-city efforts, I know some of the players involved quite well and can tell you that many of the minorities whose cause they claim to champion are quite aware of this superior spirit amongst these ‘progressive’ types. Sure, these ‘helped’ might not confront the ‘helpers’ for this, they try to appreciate the attempt at support or understand even if it is misguided, and yet they really do not need the white savior ‘progressive’ swooping in. I’ve had some confide in me about this, some of the special sensitivity and exaggerated concern is extremely off-putting to minorities and, frankly, in my opinion, it is racist.
Anyhow, I think Social Justice Anabaptists, like their secular atheistic Marxist teachers, ask the wrong questions. That list of suggested responses above, for example, presupposes that government intervention is the answer to racial disparities (rather than the cause) and neglects the fact that billions have been spent to alleviate these problems with very little to show for it. It seems ‘progressives’ assume that disagreement with them stems from ignorance about the problem. In other words, a perspective so incredibly arrogant that it makes Trump look humble by comparison.
All but one of the options offered by the questioner suggests the ignorance or lack of compassion of those who disagree with their presumption of government as a solution. Extremely loaded, more statements than questions, and pretty much designed to trip up the person trying to answer in succinct manner. Of course, the expectation is that their conservative opposition, not as educated or articulate, will sputter something incoherent in response to this deceptive “galloping Gish” rhetorical strategy and look bad.
But, this strategy doesn’t get past me.
The Social Justice Anabaptists have nothing on me as far as compassion and desire to help others. However, what they lack and I do not, is a basic comprehension of economics and the history of these occasionally well-meaning big government efforts. Furthermore, minorities dying due to inadequate care is very personal to me. Saniyah, my little hope who died unexpectedly, was African American. And, yes, she had access to medical care despite her mother being an illegal immigrant. But the doctor? Had I known how potentially deadly her respiratory ailments were and how incompetent inner-city physicians are, I would have made sure she had a qualified physician in conservative rural Pennsylvania.
Here are some of the right questions to help get our far-leftist friends pointed in the direction of solutions that actually work:
Why has the decades-long “War on Poverty” been a dismissal failure? Could it be that the government is not positioned well to address those problems? Didn’t Jesus tell you to personally intervene on behalf of the poor rather than use government as a means to force your neighbors to do something? And, if all poor people are our personal responsibility then what are you doing for Filipinos, in the Philippines, who have less access to quality care than those in our own inner-cities?
11) In a CAST world view, what is racism and what should be done about it?
Racism is to abandon the standard of Martin Luther King, where people should be judged by “content of character” and not their skin color. Racism is to collectively blame or exempt people according to their skin color and to assume that skin color, not the difference in behavior, is the lead determiner of outcomes. Racists treat everyone differently, raising or lowering expectations, based only on skin color. In other words, if one man rapes a woman this is explained away as something in his environment or mostly ignored. But if another does the same, he is roundly condemned and his evil treated as if it is somehow reflecting upon all men of his skin color or class. Racial tribalism is as racist and bad now as it was when white supremacists had the numbers advantage and the KKK roamed at night. The conservative stands against all racially motivated violence. But Social Justice Anabaptists refuse to condemn those behind the current violence. What should be done about racism? Well, stop being racist, stop excusing racial tribalism, start treating all people as unique individuals, that’s what should be done.
12) What core Anabaptist value most drives you or CAST?
The Golden Rule.
13) If you or CAST found out your pastor voted for Biden, would you have trouble listening to his sermons or receiving counsel from him on other issues?
One of my priests, Fr. James, I suspect would be a Biden voter. But, the Orthodox, unlike most Protestants, understand that “my kingdom is not of this world” means segregation of worldly politics from the church environment and worship. One of the reasons that I left the Anabaptists is because both conservatives and their ‘progressive’ activist counterparts do not know how to keep worldly concerns separate from their worship and Communion together. I suppose this is a tendency to confuse Christian and civil duties goes all the way back to the Münster Rebellion? Wherever the case, I’ve scolded Mennonite pastors who brought their conservative anxieties into the church sanctuary, preached their fears, and also confront those who bring far-leftist political agenda in as well. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about the establishment of a Socialist state and those preaching the Social Justice message are preaching a false Gospel and heretical.
14) What do you think a church that is politically divided should do about that?
Stop pushing politics down throats and start loving as Jesus loved. Or, rather, understand that ‘progressive’ politics are as unChristian as any other politics, humble yourselves, and lead by an example of love rather than continue in the politely condescending tones. If you really want to overcome the divisiveness of Protestantism, stop being a separatist, take a step of faith towards Orthodoxy, and being in Communion with the truly kingdom oriented church of the Apostles. Repent! Because the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
15) What does the phrase “Make America Great Again” mean to Conservative Anabaptists that support Trump (CAST)? Is it referencing the period in the 50’s, prior to the modern socially liberal agenda that included Civil Rights, Women’s Liberation, R v. W, Gay Rights, etc.?
Obviously, MAGA is not about any of those things listed. Sure, that is how the far-left controls minorities, through fear-mongering and lying about Trump’s intentions. It is also how smarmy Social Justice Anabaptists try to distinguish themselves as superior-minded and social elites. However, no Trump supporter that I know understands it to mean what the left-wing propagandists say and what it truly means is restoring the status of the United States as a world leader, building a strong middle-class (of all colors or creed) again and nothing to do with that leading question nonsense.
16) Do you think Trump’s strong economy (before COVID) is a key thing that contributes to CAST’s support of him?
Minorities did better under Trump, up until Democrat governors shut down their economies, and only a racist would not support the growing independence of minorities. Many do not realize that George Floyd had lost his job as a result of Democrat-imposed economic shutdowns. He had also been infected with Covid-19 despite these draconian measures. He may very well still be alive and well had it not been for ruinous ‘progressive’ policies. But the controlling left doesn’t seem to care about the consequences of their policies. They seem to believe that only their good intentions matter more than the actual results. Why aren’t you asking about the uptick in suicides and drug overdoses, depression, and quality of life concerns? The economy is life, conservatives intuitively understand this, they understand trade-offs, but ‘progressives’ routinely fail to recognize the folly of their utopian theories and disastrous outcomes of their solutions.
17) Is it a God-given right/responsibility for the secular government to maintain a strong military?
The common defense of a nation is the only legitimate reason why government exists, to physically defend people from evildoers within and without the borders, which is to provide for the general welfare of all citizens. One only needs to look at what happens when this God-ordained order breaks down to see how bad it can get. People need to be secure in their person and property to flourish. The weak and vulnerable suffer most from the neglect of these structures and institutions. That is why God ordained the structure of the family and church to care for our social needs, it is also why St Paul said we should not oppose this legitimate role of government to punish and protect us from evildoers.
18) All other things being equal, do you think it is more likely that a successful businessman would be Christian, or a government executive with a modest income?
Not my place to judge. Jesus had both a repentant tax collector and fishermen. As far as honest labor, certainly, the fishermen outranked a man who lived off what others produced. That’s not to say that those who truly work as public servants have no value, but they should also be appreciative that someone (often without a choice) is providing their income and needs. A business person, by contrast, cannot (outside of collusion with the corrupted government) cannot force you to buy their products and therefore must produce things of actual value or they would not be successful.
19) Is strong border security important?
Does your house have a roof, four walls, a door that can be locked?
Does your body have skin?
Of course, border security is important, President Obama articulated that on multiple occasions and echoed prior administrations about the need for secure borders. It is important for the same reasons why many people flee from other places to come here. They flee from places impoverished by corruption and unrestrained evildoers. Those who do evil would love to follow those fleeing them and many do get in as a direct result of lax enforcement of borders and immigration law. It is compassionate to let the good in and keep the bad out.
The real question is how can an intelligent and compassionate person not be in favor of vetting immigrants?
20) Do you see hunger as a moral issue?
The question is unclear. There is nothing immoral about hunger. Or maybe the question is whether or not it is moral to leave others hungry? If so, maybe we should establish some context first.
Are we talking about this:
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
(James 2:15-16 NIV)
Are talking about the rich man stepping over Lazarus on his doorstep or the Priest and Levite who didn’t offer aid in the good Samaritan story?
If so, if we are talking about needs in the church and needs in our immediate physical proximity, then absolutely it is a moral issue. If God puts a need in our path then we should take care of it by the means God has given us. We are clearly instructed to provide for the needs of those in our church and extend a hand of charity to those whom we come in contact with. This is local, it is our individual duty, and not a responsibility that should be shunted off or delegated to the secular government.
If feeding the world is a Christian priority and moral prerogative, then let’s turn this around: How much food have you produced? I know farmers, conservative Mennonite, and many of them Trump supporters, who farm acres of land at a far lower cost than prior generations. They, through their labor, have done far more to feed the multitudes than anyone sitting on some ivory tower somewhere, would you dare speak down to them with this kind of inane question?
21) What are the top solutions to crime issues?
Definitely not Joe Biden’s 1994 Crime bill in light of his son still being a free man nor the zealous drug prosecutions of Kamala Harris who joked about using illegal drugs. Scripture says that crime should be punished. However, I am concerned with some crimes, because of political connections or being of the right class, being totally ignored for some and applied strictly for others. Favoritism is a sin in the church and, likewise, a legal double standard is an injustice. Equal protection under the law is ideal.
So that pretty much wraps it up.
Still, I would love to hear a Social Justice Anabaptist answer my questions scattered throughout this post and also would ask why one would believe that a political party, known for historically treating some as chattel, is actually any different today?
The big difference is that Social Justice Anabaptists, like their forebearers in Münster, believe that the role of government and church should be combined into one kingdom. Their more conservative (or traditional) counterparts have learned the hard lessons of Münster. The ‘progressives’ merge the message of the cross with a political agenda and join those who look to the government for salvation. The conservatives, by contrast, want a President that allows them to live peaceably, a government that fulfills a basic role of military defense and necessary punishment of evildoers, and they do not seek to impose religious moral obligations on their neighbors.
In conclusion, my advice to the ‘progressives’ is that they not hold their traditional counterparts hostage to their political ideologies. If they must, that they find one of the many mainline Mennonite groups (beholden to the Social Justice Agenda) to hitch their wagons to and not drag the rest of their brethren down with them into that divisive and nasty place. And my advice to the conservatives is not to engage in the conversation at all. If you must vote, do it quietly, otherwise, live out the commandments of Jesus, and don’t get sucked into the black hole of politics. For all, seek after Orthodox Christianity rather than political solutions. There is one church and it is not divided between conservatives and liberals.