Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Retrospective

For this New Year, I decided to do a retrospective article that will reflect on the goodness of God to me and also pivotal events in my life that relate to me.

1. 2013 was the year I discovered libertarianism and found out that it was indeed compatible with Christianity. I discovered resources that showed the glories of libertarian theory and polity and how it was consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and with Christian doctrine.

2. 2013 was the year I started to read a little more on economic theory and decided to learn some economic material.

3. 2013 was the year I got to taste the Peter Luger steak.

4. 2013 was the year God gave me an opportunity, however brief, to write for The Reformed Libertarian.

5. 2013 was the year I made my first roast goose for Christmas.

6. 2013 was the year I discovered libertarian historical revisionism, which tells the truth about history from a libertarian perspective and shows things that are often distorted and/or conveniently ignored by the conventional scholars and the media.

7. 2013 was the year I read two Charles Dickens's novels: A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations (which I am in the process of reading).

8. 2013 was the year God blessed me with another year of my life and showed His grace to me and blessed me with many opportunities to sing, to meet new people, to share the Gospel at the Street Fair, to have conversations, and also to have this blog maintained. 

Letter of Liberty News Edition (New Year's Eve Edition)

Here is the New Year's Eve edition of my news round-up

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Why Christianity Is At Peace with Free Markets

At the website of the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada, Tomas Salamanca wrote a piece entitled "Why Christianity Will Never Be At Peace with Free Markets." It claims that there are certain things in Christianity that are clearly incompatible. I write this piece not only to refute some of these claims but also to clear up some things and show that Christianity is in harmony with the free and unfettered market (not the fascist order we live in today, which is falsely connected with the free market).

Let's look at his first claim:

1. Other-Worldly focus: Christianity holds that the world we currently inhabit is an imperfect place where our souls are sternly tested in the quest for paradise after death, where our complete fulfillment awaits. Other-worldly concerns, it is true, are now less emphasized than they were prior to the 17-18th century Enlightenment period.  Christians today talk more about the dignity of the person and social justice in the here and now than they do about preparing for eternal life. Still, a regard for the next world lies in the background with respect to the charge that free markets encourage people to falsely place their happiness in material goods rather than spiritual values.
I will address this strong concern that Salamanca seems to have; that since Christianity focuses more on spiritual concerns than the concerns of this world, this would be in contradiction to the free market, since it is "worldly." This is one of two extremes: the glorification of the free market because it is materialistic (as for me, my view is that the free market is neither purely spiritual nor purely materialistic; it is neutral in a sense). The world we inhabit is an imperfect place, and that is something that almost everyone agrees on, even libertarians. I don't see how this dissuades us from a support for free markets, for free markets can do a lot of good through their voluntarism, their supply-and-demand mechanisms, their price systems, their utter lack of coercion and top-down central planning, and other glories of free markets. And as to the lack of emphasis on other-worldly concerns in our society, I hold that it has done a great deal of harm. While we are rightly concerned with how to improve this world until Jesus comes back, the lack of spiritual clarity has led to much harm, sometimes even leading for people to create heaven on earth through offensive and interventionist warfare, laws criminalizing immoral actions (such as drug usage, prostitution, sexual immorality, etc.), minimum wage laws, central banking, militarism, welfare statism, and worse. In fact, a focus on spiritual matters should lead us to support a free market, for is not statism in all forms an attempt to create a utopia that is virtually impossible? The kingdom of God is not of this world (John 18:36), and thus we should not attempt to make out a kingdom of God (though this does not in any way discount evangelization or repeal of unjust laws).
2. Solicitude for the Poor: While not necessarily closed off to the rich, Christianity offers a belief system that is especially appealing to the poor. After all, its promise of bliss in the next life enables the poor to accept their plight in this life, which is why Marx called religion the opiate of the masses. It is no coincidence that Christianity originally grew mostly by gaining adherents among the urban proletariat in the Roman Empire. Inasmuch as the poor have been a key market segment, as it were, for Christianity, its theologians and priests have always had a strong motive to retain the loyalty of less advantaged groups by supporting political ideologies that seemingly favor the working classes. Add to this the cognitive bias that predisposes the mind to conclude that the way to make a poor person better off is by simply redirecting resources towards them from wealthier members of the community. The net result is the state of affairs that we’ve witnessed since the ascent of capitalism in the 19th century — that is, one in which any set of ideas that justifies restricting, or even abolishing, private property rights finds avid followers among Christianity’s most influential thinkers. 
This is also one issue that Christians, especially those of the libertarian and classical-liberal kind, had to struggle with. These Christians are ostracized by the likes of left-wing thinkers such as Jim Wallis for allegedly ignoring the poor people that are hurt by the evils of laissez-faire and greedy businessmen, while the evils of government's economic policies and interventionism is gleefully neglected. I will say this: poor people can be more receptive to the Gospel than rich people, for poor people seem not to focus as much on material goods as the middle-class and wealthy might. This is not an indictment of the free market, of capitalism, of the bourgeoise, of the middle class, of the upper class, or any thing of that sort. Rather, it is an honest acknowledgment as to why wealthy people often struggle with the Gospel. "After all, its promise of bliss in the next life enables the poor to accept their plight in this life, which is why Marx called religion the opiate of the masses." I will say that the promise of bliss in the next life is important, but not central in the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of Life. It is the promise of unfettered fellowship with God, with fellow believers, and the presence of perfection in heaven that motivates many Christians to endure their sufferings and tribulations. 

As the Apostle Paul says:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:7-12, NKJV)

The Christian does not neglect the fact that the world is in peril, but rather he acknowledges that these sufferings are but sharing in the suffering of Christ. And even when we may feel discouraged and alone, we know that God is ultimately with us, and we have victory in Jesus Christ, for faith "is the victory that overcomes the world." (1 John 5:4) 

As to how this translates to the Christian reaction to the free market and political freedom, I believe that the use of these biblical doctrines to attack laissez-faire is a misguided attempt by Christians as it misses the whole point of the doctrine of suffering: to help us grow strong in our faith. And statism in the economic sector does not help the poor but rather hurts it. For the State's restrictions on markets restrict those who do not and are not able to follow its rules; for example, let's say that a poor man wants to start a business selling hoodies. But the government of the region he lives in restricts starting a business until a license is received. The poor man cannot pay for the license, since he has no money. So when he just sells it without official permission, the government steps in and shuts it down. If the poor man resisted, he would either be in prison or lying dead. And the minimum wage laws, which we are all told help the poor, are in actually shutting jobs out of the marketplace. See here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. I could go on and on about the glories of free markets and the evils of statism, but others have went further into that, and they have showed that not only is capitalism compatible with the Gospel but also that laissez-faire is compatible too. I will delve into such topics in future articles and writings. But this is to show but a few examples in which interventionism is harmful for poor people. We also oppose the evil of refusing to give to the poor from one's own heart and pocket while lobbying for the government to support these old poor people. 

3. The Ethic of Self-Abnegation: The New Testament is pretty clear that we are obligated to overcome our selfish impulses and constantly help others with a self-denying love.  Free markets collide with this injunction by sanctioning the notion that people can legitimately interact with others via trade and exchange whenever it is in their self-interest to do so. Observing alongside the authority of Adam Smith that this pursuit of self-interest redounds to the public good does nothing to get around this fundamental opposition. For the Christian demand to love others involves a moral criterion that judges people on the purity of their intentions, rather than the over-all consequences of their actions.  Steve Jobs may have generated more prosperity than Mother Theresa, but a good Christian will insist upon the moral superiority of the latter because she consciously sacrificed herself to assist others.

This is one of the most complex arguments against the concept of the free market: that since it allegedly encourages selfishness through its promise of prosperity, it is in complete contradiction to the ethic of self-denying agape love that motivates one to give his life for Christ in the same way Christ gave His life for us (and for the whole world). This is false, as I will show, but it seems to resonate a lot with many Christians. The image of innovators, entrepreneurs, and capitalists advertising their goods and services through mass media and social media showing how good their goods and services are, and how terrible (or at the very least inferior) their competitors are is horrifying to many people. They see that the opposition to free markets is the opposition to immorality (in this case, competition). I argue that this is clearly not the case, for competition in the market not only improves people's lives through the improving of products for consumers but also it does so in a voluntary and moral way, not through coercion but through voluntary cooperation and individualism. While it is true that bad things would exist in the free market (things such as gambling, cigarettes, usury, trashy novels and movies, etc.), it is also true that the free market, when used for good purposes, outshines all methods (with the exception of voluntary charity) of attempts at doing good.

As to the issue with Steve Jobs and Mother Teresa, I will say this: while Mother Teresa did wonderful things for the poor and downcast, Steve Jobs (even if he was far from a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ) gave us innovative technologies such as the iPhone, the iPad, the Macintosh computer operating system, and other things. What is the point of this? Is not technology ruining us all? I would say that it is not the technology that is ruining us but rather the sinful nature of man. Other than that, it is a wonderful and glorious achievement on the part of Steve Jobs (as I, a former PC guy, have converted to owning an iMac). And Christians, while they are rightly concerned about proper motives and true love, are somewhat mistaken when they harp about how Steve Jobs is somehow inferior to Mother Teresa and to Christian missionaries simply because he was neither poor nor as sacrificial as she was. I say "Baloney!" to that. Steve Jobs, while he was not a Christian, wasn't a man who escaped risks, but rather he was an entrepreneur who took risks to bring us a wonderful technology that even with potential for abuse can be amazing and liberating.


The free market and Christianity are at peace with each other, in stark contrast to what Tomas Salamanca claims, and in contrast to the claims of both anti-Christian libertarians and anti-libertarian Christians. I have shown that the free market should not be shunned by the Church but rather accepted. I am not saying we should all become soulless materialists, but neither should we be socialistic and statist altruists who demonize successful people while celebrating (and sometimes idolizing) missionaries and ministers for being altruistic and giving up his wealth. 

The free market and the Gospel are complimentary and harmonious, despite what some will tell you to the contrary.

Some Resources on Christianity and the Free Market:

"The Myth of the Just Price" by Laurence M. Vance: This lecture refutes the "just price" theory that many Christians seem to hold and makes the biblical case for laissez-faire capitalism.
"Why Economics Should Be Important to Christians" by Shawn Ritenour: A Christian laissez-faire libertarian, Shawn Ritenour deals with the question of economics and Christianity, and he shows why they are both important.
"Profits and Morals: A Non-Catholic Assessment of Centesimus Annus" by Larry Reed: A non-Catholic Christian analyzes an important defense of free markets by Pope John Paul II.
"Christian Anti-Capitalism" by Laurence M. Vance: This review of a book entitled The Economy of Desire smashes some anti-capitalist myths told by Christians.
"Just Nonsense" by Laurence M. Vance: Laurence Vance reviews Ronald Sider's book Just Politics.
"The Source of All Blessings (And Curses)" by Gary North: Gary North refutes some Christian anti-capitalist nonsense.

Addendum: As a reminder to those who would point to the story of the rich young ruler as an example of biblical anti-capitalism, I would send them this excerpt from James Redford's long essay "Jesus Is An Anarchist" (which, while I am not an anarchist yet, I find interesting but have not read in the full):

Jesus on the Rich 
Jesus had this to say about the rich:Luke 18:18-30: Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: "Do not commit adultery,' "Do not murder,' "Do not steal,' "Do not bear false witness,' "Honor your father and your mother."' And he said, "All these things I have kept from my youth." So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. 
And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." And those who heard it said, "Who then can be saved?" But He said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." Then Peter said, "See, we have left all and followed You." So He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life." (See also Matt. 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31.)Some have given this as anti-libertarian commentary. But first of all, in analyzing this statement by Jesus it needs to be pointed out that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for any person whatsoever to enter the Kingdom of God. But Jesus also said that "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (verse 27). It is standard Christian doctrine that it is impossible for anyone to enter the Kingdom of God on their own--that the only way in which anyone enters the Kingdom of God is through the saving grace of Jesus Christ alone (see John 14:6). Thus, the rich are by no means unique in this particular aspect. And so also, from this alone it cannot be claimed that Jesus had it in for rich people per se more than any other group. 
Second, when Jesus counseled this particular rich person to sell all that he had and distribute the proceeds to the poor, this was in fact an exceedingly libertarian thing for Jesus to advise this person. For this was not just any kind of rich person--this was a rich person of a particular type: a ruler, i.e., one who has some variety of command over an Earthly, mortal government. And thus, the riches that this particular rich person was in possession of had been obtained through extortion and theft, i.e., by the threat and force of arms and might--this particular ruler's opinion to the contrary (verse 21) not withstanding scrutiny: almost no rulers throughout history have ever regarded their wealth as having been obtained through stealing:Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, "What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor." (St. Augustine, Book 4, Chapter 4 of The City of God.) 
Thus, when Jesus offered this counsel to this particular rich person, He was merely telling this person what any good libertarian would have said in the same situation--particularly a natural-rights libertarian such as a Rothbardian.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Drug Dealer and Gun Owner Turned Pastor Leads Church in Gun Buy-Back Campaign

Morgan Lee, reporter at The Christian Post, reports that a 51-year old pastor named John Kee, who happened to be a former drug dealer and gun owner, is hosting a gun buyback campaign in an attempt to "clean up" the streets.

Reports Lee:

A North Carolina church has completed its seventh annual gun credit card exchange program, though its numbers were down sharply from previous years.
John Kee, 51, who now pastors New Life Fellowship Center in Charlotte, started the program based out of his own experiences of carrying around guns as a young adult selling drugs.
Kee told The Charlotte Observer that the program emerged out of a sense of personal responsibility that he felt toward his own community and out of another ministry that offers young men an alternative to being on the street.
"I want to clean up what I poisoned," said Kee, who used to hit the streets with a .38-caliber pistol, a 9-millimeter handgun or a sawed-off shotgun or "chopper."
The church pays $25 to $50 in Walmart gift cards for handguns and up to $100 for assault rifles and shotguns. It collected 41 guns this year, down from the 120 that it had consistently collected annually in the six years prior.
The church works with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police to destroy turned in firearms and advertises the program throughout the city. There is a no questions asked policy for anyone who turns in weapons.
While I understand the desire for this pastor to fix up some of the bad things he did and help young people get off streets, I don't see this as the right way to do so. I feel that this gun buyback program is stupid, for it is an attempt to work with the government to take away the guns of law-abiding and non-criminal citizens who own guns both for recreational and defensive purposes. I am opposed to any church action to discourage this type of gun ownership. In fact, such things could actually be hurting lower class persons who need guns the most to defend themselves against violent thugs who want nothing more than to prey upon innocent people. Not only is self-defense a natural right, but also it is oftentimes a responsibility and a way of showing love, for if one defends another human being through the use of violence, it not only shows a respect for human life but also shows a disrespect for crime and aggressive violence. 
And another thing: let's legalize drugs. Wait, you might say. But won't that increase drug consumption and damage communities? I would answer that, apart from the fact that legalizing drugs is a freedom issue first and foremost, legalizing drugs has many practical benefits, as the libertarian theorist and economist Walter Block has shown here, here, here, here, here, and here. Much has been written as to how drug criminalization hurts people and fails in its purpose to get rid of drugs (though it does succeed in putting nonviolent people in jail who do no crime except to ingest poison into their bodies). Laurence Vance, a Christian author, has shown the evils of drug criminalization in many of his writings on this topic. Mark Thornton, an economist, also has written against drug prohibition (and prohibition in general) and shown the harms it causes. See here, here, here, and here for his writings. And another thing: the war on drugs and the war on guns are both responsible for the erosion of civil liberties and the burgeoning police state which is detrimental to civilization. 

Letter of Liberty News Edition (12-27-2013)

This Friday is going to be a post-Christmas news roundup.

Pat Buchanan on Churchill, Mandela, and the war for the future

Jack Cashill shows the relationship between the thought of Alexis de Tocqueville and The Walking Dead.

Robert Wenzel exposes yet another evil of the politically correct rich guy George Soros.

Edward Snowden gives his Christmas message.

It seems that there is a comeback of debtor's prisons in America.

Martin Kettle poses the interesting dilemma of what would happen if Germans won WWI.

The Washington Times gives an editorial on plug-in cars.

Amy Goodman on the new normal for Obama

Fergus Hodgson makes the case for open borders.

The Muskegon Libertarian asks whether we are still a free people.

Nebojsa Malic looks at some revolutionary moments in 2013.

Taki (founder of Taki's Magazine) attacks the neoconservative viewpoint.

Tyler Durden takes a trip through the Bitcoin mines.

John Fleming shows that America's police force exemplifies the meanest of mankind.

The Daily Mail reports on some strange stuff regarding Queen Victoria.

Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair explore the truth about the "Good War" and Pearl Harbor.

Antony Loewenstein gives his wishlist for 2014.

Scott Lazarowitz pits the destructive power of Keynesianism against the productive power of the free and libertarian order.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Worst Christmas Special Ever!

Doug Walker plays a guy named The Nostalgia Critic, a bitter, foulmouthed critic who looks at pop culture from his own youth and applies his criticism to them. He's very over-the-top and foul-mouthed in his humor (and he sometimes does jokes in bad taste), but I still love the guy because even if I wasn't as associated with American nostalgia as many are, I still enjoy his tearing apart of what is terrible about certain nostalgic memories that are typified in movies and television. His worldview can't exactly be called Christian, but his perspective is always interesting.

So why am I talking about him? I am going to embed the link to his review of what is considered the worst Christmas special ever: The Christmas Tree (1991). I haven't seen this special, and most probably haven't, but I will post this episode anyways.

So here it is. Enjoy. (Warning: Lots of foul language. Keep little kids away from this.)

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, dear readers of Letter of Liberty!

The happiest time of the year, when we celebrate Christ's birth to this earth, is time for celebration, but it is also time for reading.

So here are some articles to jive with the Christmas spirit, both reflecting on theology and politics.

"The Virtue of Freedom" by Jacob G. Hornberger, December 1, 2013, The Future of Freedom Foundation
"The Economic Lessons of Bethlehem" by Lew Rockwell, December 25, 2013, LewRockwell.com
"The Cult of the Uniform" by Laurence M. Vance, December 25, 2013, LewRockwell.com
"Yes, Virginia, There Is No Santa Claus" by Richard Ebeling, December 25, 1990, The Future of Freedom Foundation
"Cancel Christmas, the Government Owns Your School" by Scott McPherson, December 27, 2002, The Future of Freedom Foundation
"A Christmas Meditation: The Resurrection of the Son of God at Christmas" by Kevin Shrum, December 25, 2013, The Christian Post
"God's Gift For You Under The Tree" by Dan Delzell, December 25, 2013, The Christian Post
"Morals and the Welfare State" by F. A. Harper, September 1, 2000, The Future of Freedom Foundation
"Charity: Biblical and Political" by Russell J. Clinchy, December 1, 1990, The Future of Freedom Foundation
"Christian Charity versus Government Welfare" by Thomas L. Johnson, December 1, 1994, The Future of Freedom Foundation
"Wishing You A Free And Merry Christmas" by Doug Bandow, December 1, 2000, The Future of Freedom Foundation
"Religion and Freedom" by Rev. Robert A. Sirico, December 1, 1993, The Future of Freedom Foundation

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Letter of Liberty News Edition (Christmas Eve Edition)

This is the Christmas Eve News Edition, where I give a round-up of articles that I really like.

Walter Block shows why left-wing and right-wing thought is ultimately incompatible with libertarianism.

Kelly Vlahos gives a little spin on A Christmas Carol while recommending a few anti-war books.

Jacob Hornberger asks whether America's healthcare system is socialist or not.

Sheldon Richman gives his take on the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve.

An eyewitness to Hitler advises us to buy guns, guns, and more guns.

Conor Friedersdorf shows the incompatibility of self-government and secret operations.

Michael Barone on the wariness of America toward big government

David Howden explains that not every single health condition is insurable.

Karen DeCoster smashes the opponents of traditional Christmas music.

Have a Merry Christmas with Duck Dynasty.

Ron Paul shows the progress toward peace being made in 2013, even as there is still darkness.

Paul Craig Roberts shows why the Gospel is the greatest gift of all.

Peter Schiff on the non-change in the Fed

Patrick J. Buchanan warns of the blacklisting of Christianity in light of the Duck Dynasty controversy.

Paul Huebl laments the extreme political correctness that is dividing us all.

A cute rendition of the Christmas story

Julian Sanchez exposes the neocons' Jedi mind trick.

Chuck Baldwin shows the link between Christ's birth and America's birth.

Jonathan Turley makes the case for Obama pardoning Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden says his mission is accomplished.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Letter of Liberty News Edition (12-20-2013)

Here is the Friday News Edition of Letter of Liberty:

Alexander William Salter addresses the issue of whether government should stabilize the purchasing power of money.

Frank Shostak addresses the issue of psychology and bubbles.

John Odermatt addresses the abuse of Second Amendment rights to attack the Fourth Amendment.

Ilana Mercer gives an interesting perspective on the issue of apartheid South Africa and libertarianism.

Seismic Mike warns against statism mixed in the homeschooling business.

Kristin Tate shows how the recent Duck Dynasty controversy seems to be distracting people from the real issue.

Matt Welch on the death of Obama's noble lie

C. Jay Engel addresses the issue of foster care and statism.

Jacob Hornberger shows why federal spending is going up and up.

Catherine Frompovich reports on the tripling of kids on Rx drugs.

Brandon Turbeville shows that the case against the Big Pharma-corporate media complex is getting stronger and stronger.

Sheldon Richman gives his analysis of the pope's economics.

Laurence Vance deals with the controversial issue of porn and the First Amendment.

Logan Albright defends gift cards from an economic perspective.

Harriet Sherwood reports on Nelson Mandela's training from the Mossad.

Radley Balko on 2013 as safest year for cops

Joseph Sobran on the government of Jesus vs. the government of the world.

Pat Buchanan on the rise of anti-interventionism

Sam Staley writes on the libertarian subtext of The Hunger Games and its sequel Catching Fire.

Lee Shelton writes on Christmas.

Butler Shaffer explains why Scrooge might have been right and Dickens may have misguided.

Peter Schiff gives his take on the Federal Reserve policy statement.

Adrian Salbuchi reports on Arctic wars flaming up.

Eric Peters on Americans and driving

Conor Friedersdorf shows the dangers of reckless drone policy.

Mark Sisson gives his take on the holidays.

Harry Mount gives some tongue-twisters.

Mark Thornton reviews The Dao of Capital.

Brett and Kate McKay gives some tips on how to escape a sinking car.

Gaye Levy gives some holiday suggestions for backdoor survival.

C. Jay Engel on libertarianism and conservatism and what a Reformed Christian libertarian should think (Parts 1 and 2).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

C. Jay Engel on Gays as Faculty Members in Christian Colleges

C. Jay Engel at The Reformed Libertarian has written an article on gays serving as faculty members in Christian colleges and the left-wing reaction to this. I recommend that everyone share it through Google+, Facebook, Twitter, email, and through any means possible, for it shows the importance of this issue in Christian circles.

Says Engel:

Brian McClaren linked to an article this morning written by a homosexual faculty member at an (undisclosed) “Christian” college.  The homosexual issue is one that has been garnering more attention recently, especially in progressive Christian circles.  Now, I realize that the issue has been around for nearly the entire previous century and has increased rapidly since the turn of the twenty-first century, but it has certainly not died off.  In fact, I see it arise every single day on one blog or another.  Which of course means that it is another opportunity for Christians who recognize the sin of homosexuality to stay strong and be prepared to defend the Biblical understanding of sex.  Challenges are healthy.
The author, who writes anonymously for fear of losing his job, provides us with a small list of “ironies and bright spots for gays in the Christian College World.”  I do want to tread this fragile issue quite carefully.  For while we should never compromise the eternal truth of the Bible, neither should we use it in an unloving way.  For those of us who do not struggle with the sin of homosexuality, we recognize that this sin is not thought of as worse in the eyes of God than our own sins.  If God can have mercy on those of us who struggle with non-homosexual sins, surely he can have mercy on those who do.  We all have different sin struggles and we worship a God who is powerful to overcome anything.
That said, it is also interesting to note that so many Christians who consider themselves gay and who also do not see it as a sin, treat the issue as if they are crusaders on behalf of another civil rights revolution.  For instance, the opening to the post is this: “As a gay professor at a Christian college where it’s not safe to be out….”  This can be taken in to ways.  First, it can be seen as a situation where the Christian college recognizes the sin of homosexuality, realizes that it compromises God’s plan for sex, and therefore has taken up a policy of heterosexuals only.  The other way of understanding this is that the situation is one in which there is a tyranny of legalists at the top of a hierarchy ready to impose their will on the modern day witch: the homosexual.  The tone of many “gay Christians in hiding” is the latter.  They, by all appearances, are the victims in a theocratic scheme.
The source of this tone lies in the fact that there is a fundamental disagreement about whether homosexuality is a sin.  Those who do not see it as a sin, and indeed practice this lifestyle, are inclined to victimize themselves by assuming that traditional Christians are out to get them.  The “not safe to be out” gives off an air of a “hunted man” with a fake identity.  An interesting framework indeed.  However these closeted gays do feel though, is not the theme of this post.

Read the rest here.

Harold Camping Is Dead

The Christian Post reports that Harold Camping, a controversial Christian minister and predictor of end times, has died at the age of 92.

The report says:

Camping, co-founder of Family Radio and controversial doomsday radio Bible teacher, died on Sunday at around 5:30 p.m., according to the Family Radio Network email sent out Monday evening.
"On Saturday, November 30th, Mr. Camping sustained a fall in his home, and he was not able to recover from his injuries. He passed away peacefully in his home, with his family at his side," the email reads.
Camping made national as well as global headlines in 2011 when he proclaimed that Judgment Day would come on May 21. Thousands of listeners of Camping's radio show around the world believed him and many sold all their possessions, emptied their bank accounts and prepared for the rapture.
Harold Camping made numerous predictions and all of them ended up being false prophecies that fleeced many Christians. The failure of these "predictions" to come to pass has given non-Christians an opportunity to blaspheme, just like King David's sin with Bathsheba gave God's enemies an opportunity to blaspheme (2 Samuel 12:14).
As to what I hold regarding end-times prophecy, I am a premillennial dispensationalist who believes that there will be a rapture of the saints before the seven-year tribulation before Christ comes again and the Millennium is brought about. However, I reject the need to predict dates for end times, for Scripture shows us that "of that day and hour no man knoweth" (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). But that does not mean in any way that we should be neglectful of such matters. In fact, thinking about the last days should urge Christians to spread the Gospel even more.  And it ought to remind us from falling into the error Harold Camping and Family Radio fell into for so many years before they came back to their senses.

Letter of Liberty News Edition (12-17-2013)

Here is the Tuesday roundup of news from Letter of Liberty

Ryan McMaken shows that being an Austrian economist is easier than ever.

Fred Reed explores the psychology of drone operators for the USG (United States government).

Tom Mullen reports on a federal ruling on the NSA.

Kelly Vlahos shows how Snowden became the carol of 2013.

John Whitehead laments the decline of childhood in the police state of Amerika.

Jacob Hornberger shows why abolishing the NSA is the only solution to police statism.

Jean MacKenzie show the truth about America's Nelson Mandela policy.

Conor Friedersdorf gives new evidence that the NSA chief lied to us.

Eugene Robinson encourages Americans to demand their privacy.

Spencer Ackerman explores the flaws with the 60 Minutes report.

The New York Times gives an editorial on the recent rebuke of surveillance statism.

Dr. James D. Boys writes on Parkland and the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination.

Tony Newman rebukes cops for entrapping kids and getting them charged with drug offenses.

C. Jay Engel shows the truly greedy system in contrast to free markets.

Walter Williams reminds the pope that free markets are the best economic system ever.

Laurence Vance reviews Lizzie Collingham's new book The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food.

Robert Wenzel picks the top books of 2013.

Peter Schiff defends his father Irwin Schiff.

Paul Rosenberg talks about when he said something positive about a politician.

Daniel McAdams on John McCain

Michael Snyder writes on the impending doom that will come next year.

Julian Adorney shows the lessons that Nazi Germany holds for us, and they are warnings against statism.

Ann Jones exposes the militarization of children by the American government.

Joseph Mercola shows the problems of too much sitting.

Daisy Luther on real-life survival

Paul Huebl writes on the reality of police brutality and corruption.

William Norman Grigg writes on Commissioner Wendy Olson.

Brian McWilliams on the first judicial hit to the NSA

Mike Holly shows how government regulations make healthcare expensive.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Letter of Liberty News Edition (12-13-2013)

This is the Friday News Edition

Ilana Mercer on the truth about Nelson Mandela

Pat Buchanan asks whether the Senkakus is worth warring over.

Phillip Bagus shows the end of the paper money facade.

Hunter Lewis explains why Obamacare exchange policies are so bad.

Nebojsa Malic tells of the long retreat from Syria to Ukraine.

Sheldon Richman analyzes how 2016 will be for the corporate state.

Sheldon Richman analyzes the weakness of Mandela's radicalism.

Patrick Barron addresses the issue of quantitative easing (QE) and inflation.

Gary North on the grand illusion of Social Security

L. Neil Smith addresses the issue of same-sex marriage and involuntary servitude.

Sean Gangol addresses misconceptions about libertarianism.

Justin Raimondo looks at Max Blumenthal's new book Goliath.

Eric Peters looks at the bailout.

StoryLeak shows how the Kiev protests are influenced by the CIA.

It turns out that the American missing in Iran was on an unapproved mission.

Jonathan Goodwin gives his rejoinder to Phillip Bagus's piece.

Jacob Hornberger gives us a reminder to immediately lift the embargo on Cuba.

J. D. Tuccille gives some tips on turning a desk into a pharmaceuticals factory.

Conor Friedersdorf explains how Obama misled Chris Matthews on NSA surveillance.

Ryan Lizza exposes the state of deception within Obama's administration.

James Peron gives his obituary of Ayn Rand biographer Barbara Branden.

Samuel Eaton explores whether Robert Levison might have been a victim of a CIA faction fight.

Tom Mullen shows how statistics are irrelevant to the Second Amendment.

It turns out that the NSA is working with Canada's spy agency, the "Five Eyes."

America has now become a nation of "tent cities," according to a recent report.

Peter Brimelow talks on smoking.

Paul Rosenberg talks about how the enforcers planted the seeds for their own destruction.

Arturo Lopez-Levy shows how the U.S.'s cuba embargo makes diplomacy impossible.

Teo Ballve attacks the futile war on drugs.

Dan Gilmor comments on the patriotism of Edward Snowden.

Mark Sisson looks at the problems with the government's food pyramid.

Margaret Durst gives tips for natural calmness not brought to you through pills.

The Daily Mail reports on Nelson Mandela's memorial, with Obama in the picture.

Patrick L. Smith tells the truth: American exceptionalism is dead.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ellen Finnigan on THE HUNGER GAMES and Christians

Let me introduce this post by saying that while I have definitely heard of the phenomenon of The Hunger Games, both the books and the movies, I never got the chance to read either of them. But I do look forward to that chance if I get it. And it's not really because of any peer pressure, but rather because I am interested in this myself.

And the Catholic teacher and anti-militarist Ellen Finnigan has written an interesting and poignant piece on this phenomenon entitled "What We Missed In The Hunger Games." It is important for both Christians and Catholics, especially of the conservative persuasion, as it exposes the whole issue behind the story that either we neglected or deliberately chose to ignore.

What is that issue?

Let us turn to Finnigan to find out the answer:
Upon the release of the first Hunger Games in March of last year, reviewers and commentators in the Christian media weren’t much quicker on the uptake. Christian websites, magazines, blogs, and chat boards were abuzz with discussions about the film and the series of novels it was based on. Parents questioned whether they should allow their children to see the film, exchanged warnings about the content, and advised each other onhow to talk to your kids about [insert part of story deemed morally questionable]. Nearly every moral issue in the story was considered and discussed—the suicide pact, the scene where Katniss and Peeta sleep together but don’t “do anything”—every moral issue that is, except that one which lies at the heart of the story.  
The United States has been at war for over a decade, the war in Afghanistan now the longest in our history. Recent wars have been responsible for the deaths of almost half a million people in Iraq, tens of thousands in Afghanistan. Those numbers don’t include the wounded, the disfigured, the poisoned, the displaced. Those numbers don’t include the suicides. The United States has spent $10 trillion on defense and homeland security since September 11, 2001, on bombs, drones, guns, bullets, planes, artillery, tanks, rocket launchers, assault rifles, etc. As a teacher, I’m amazed at the frequency with which students mention 9-11 in classroom discussions and student papers. They were toddlers when it happened, yet they refer to it as if it were a real memory. That is how present it is in their consciousness.
Miller’s theory that world of The Hunger Games couldn’t possibly make any sense until you see it through the lens of a teenage wasteland only belies her faulty assumptions about, as she put it, “what’s happening, right this minute, in the stormy psyche of the adolescent reader.” The young readers who first discovered this series back in 2008, and the readers who have been eating it up ever since, have virtually no memory of pre-9-11 America. Their entire experience of living has been one of living in a country at war. They grew up steeped in that toxic brew of fear, propaganda, aggression, militarization and violence that is post 9-11 American culture, a culture that has created a “stormy psyche” for all us all and to which children are certainly not immune, and are probably especially susceptible. The respect Collins paid her young readers in writing this trilogy was to see them as not only conscious, but socially conscious, and potentially curious about or concerned with that central human problem called war. It was interesting to see that Christian adults saw very little about the central human problem of war in this wildly popular film that was, in the words of its Roman Catholic author, written about war, and after a decade of living under a government that is perpetually waging war.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Catholic Bishops Sued By The ACLU For Not Providing Abortion Services in Catholic Hospital

Napp Nazworth at The Christian Post reports that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for not allowing abortion in a Catholic hospital.

Says Nazworth:

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, responded Friday to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union alleging that Catholic health directives encourage poor treatment of pregnant women by not allowing abortion. 
The ACLU is suing the USCCB on behalf of Tamesha Means, who suffered a miscarriage at a Catholic hospital in Michigan. 
According to the ACLU, "Tamesha rushed to Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, Michigan, when her water broke after only 18 weeks of pregnancy. Based on the bishops' religious directives, the hospital sent her home twice even though Tamesha was in excruciating pain; there was virtually no chance that her pregnancy could survive, and continuing the pregnancy posed significant risks to her health." 
The USCCB is being sued because, according to the suit, its directives prevented Means from getting an abortion, and thus the bishops are responsible for "unnecessary trauma and harm." 
"The directives prohibit a pre-viability pregnancy termination, even when there is little or no chance that the fetus will survive, and the life or health of a pregnant woman is at risk. They also direct health care providers not to inform patients about alternatives inconsistent with those directives even when those alternatives are the best option for the patient's health," the ACLU says. 
Kurtz called the ACLU claim, "baseless."
I understand what Tamesha might be going through, to suffer through a miscarriage like that, and I also understand the Catholic bishops that don't want to perform an abortion on the baby despite this. As a libertarian, I support the pro-life position that holds that since the baby is a human being that did not aggress against any one's life, liberty, or property, I hold that abortion is a violation of the baby's rights. But as a libertarian, I also recognize that there are complexities involved, and even I need to learn more on this issue (for we all learn in some way or another). So I will say this; hospitals have no positive obligations to perform a duty for some one (meaning that they shouldn't be forced to do so, not that they shouldn't help those in need), just as individuals should not be forced to take positive action for someone. Doing so is totalitarian and antithetical to the principles of freedom. And whether or not one supports the right to abortion, no one should be sued since he refused to perform an abortion, and that applies to hospitals too.

Letter of Liberty News Edition (12-10-2013)

Here is the Tuesday News Edition

Patrick Barron explains why currency war means currency suicide.

James Ball exposes the NSA's scheme of spying through video game consoles.

Richard Ebeling calls for an end to America's century of central banking.

Walter Williams exposes another fraud.

Laurence M. Vance revisits the significance of Rosa Parks.

Seymour Hersh, an award-winning journalist, gives an in-depth report on sarin and the truth that is not being told.

Paul Huebl talks about how he is taking stock of his life.

John Whitehead exposes the fundamental incompatibility of the horrible police state and the wonderful institution of private property.

Joe Beam deals with the issue of bossy wives.

Vernoique De Rugy argues that we should get rid of the TSA.

James E. Miller on the real political divide and on Nelson Mandela

John Odermatt shows how Pope Francis endorses theft.

Mark Groubert asks what really happened with regards to the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Charles Burris looks at the useful idiots of 2013.

Scott Lazarowitz on the sickness of the USSA

Jim Quinn on the 4th turning

Dave Hodges explains the NFL's role in the coming regime of martial law.

Charles M. Blow gives his lesson for sticking to principles.

Maria Arana reviews Story of a Death Foretold, which talks about the coup against Salvador Allende.

Chris Hedges: Shooting the messenger

Grover Norquist argues that the requirement for search warrants also applies for emails.

Chase Madar explains the over-policing of America.

Joseph Mercola shows the importance of microbiota.

Martin Chilton shows how the comedy of Laurel and Hardy still holds up.

The Daily Mail reports on how happiness includes resisting the urge on how to answer every single call and text.