Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why the Jews?

Sunday I was listening to a classical piece that reminds me of the Jewish plight under the Nazis. Why has the West identified with the Jews?

The Jews have become symbolic to our identity. Our identity is rooted in freedom under law. We, in America, are a people because we believe in freedoms of all kinds. We are not a people identified with a religion, a monarch, or an ideology. This leaves the individual at liberty to choose his own way of life, as long as it does not interfere with the laws that provide for our security. Our solidarity is only based on these freedoms and Americans don't have a strong "cultural identity" unless freedom is challenged.

Myths have been useful for identification. Stories are told to children and children identify with the hero or herorine in the story. They dream of rescue, dreams and hopes coming true. These are basic to the human heart.

In America, we have benefited by these basic human desires of "becoming all we can". Hollywood is known worldwide to transmit these cultural values.

The "Jews" are symbolic for all human rights and many Jews today are humanists because of their story of struggle to attain what the human heart has always longed for, Freedom.

My Son's Challenge

These days leave me a little sentimental and on the verge of tears. Why? Oh, the physical changes that come with life hopefully will end, but, will my love and longing for the children of my past?

Our family has had some very hard bumps. And these as well as our yearly family vacations and vaious common experiences have made memories that will never leave us.

Our youngest son is soon leaving to join the Army. He delayed his entrance because of our other son's wedding. So, I have crammed many memories into a few short months (as usual). And I think I have responded by "shutting down". I tend to do this when I am emotionally overwhelmed.

The other day my son challenged my "shutting down". He said that I had "escaped" the family by the time spent on the computor. I think he is right.

So, his challenge has been "taken up" and I have not spent as much time on the computor. Fortunately, it has not been hard, because I care about him more than I do the computor. And that is most important in these last days that he is here with us.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Life and Liberty

Yesterday, I was engaged in a "conversation" on another blog about the political order and was "stuck" on the collapse of the sacred and secular for me. My "world" has collapsed into a natural and real world of existence. No more anesthesia for me.

Life is deadened through religion's "moral" thinking sometimes. The religious become so concerned about where their lines are drawn that they cease to Live as life was meant to be lived.

So, I am committed to "Life and Liberty". These are the ideals of our Founding Fathers and these are what make for the "good life". No one should be doomed to live their lives under dire constraints of oppressive regimes that limit expressions of human creativity. The huma condition needs these creative spirits to "give life" to the "deadened".

If God exists, it is no wonder that there are not many that want anything to do with that concept. Everything in a 'religious culture' from "Black stockings" to banning "Harry Potter" do not draw or appeal to the natural way man has been created to respond to "beauty", "mystery" and "concepts" that open up life, instead of drawing lines in the sand. This is diverse universe that is immensely complex. Simplicity doesn't work as it crushes, defines, defends, and marginalizes life.

Liberty is what life is about.

Supernaturalism's Last Breath

I have come to the conclusion that supernaturalism is "Dead" for me. I cannot believe in God intervening in the affairs of men. There is natrual order, social order and moral order. And this is where I am in regards to re-defining faith.

This morning's sermon was on Abraham, as this is a seris our pastor is presently preaching on. We are heirs according to grace and all are fellow heirs. The equality of the 'brethren" was preached, but I was unmoved. What used to bring me to tears, now has no significance. /The message has lost its meaning and purpose in my life.

Why? Realism. Life has ways of teaching you that what is "ideal" or spiritual is not so "ideal" or "spiritual". There is no distinction between the sacred and secular. But, there are better or worse people in the scope of things and better and worse ways to live and be in the world. And what sort of people should we be, if this is the case? And what is the significance of the natural, social and moral orders in life? And how are they understood? And what values are important and why? These are the quesitons I am and have been asking myself.

My faith is not in "Jesus Blood and Righteousness".
Nor is my faith built on a "solid rock".
I want my faith to be built on reason, not some historical/mythological figure from the past nor on a mystery cult.
And I don't want my faith to be built upon some "supernatural revelation" that is deemed to have "dropped from the sky" without grappling with the messiness of politics.

Right now, there is a song that is playing that brings to mind the stuggle of the Jews during the Holocost. I don't know why it always brings up that image for me, but it draws my heart and emotions to the "human condition". The human condition of struggle of existence.

Have you ever seen a painting that resonates with "life"? Or heard a poem that left you burning inside?

These are the things that make for "worship", because these are beautiful things in the world that speak of questions that are unanswerable.

Yes, there is much "dirt" in the world. There is much that needs cleaning up from political corruption, to natural disasters. But, there is Still beauty in the world, and if we cease to see that, then we have lost our true and real sense of "life" and beauty. Beauty is as much a part of the world as degradation.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rights, Liberty and Work

On my side bar, I have a blog called For Clavigora. The last post that Dr. Smith wrote was about work in an asylum. And how rights took 'the right to work' away from these inmates.

State intervention in regards to personal commitment to work is what I think is a wrongly focused "right". People in free societies can choose their vocations. And choice is what liberty is about.

These people in the asylum were "demoralized" because of their "lack of work", once "rights" were granted. Rights can be distorted when they are universalized without connection to a "moral base", or social order.

But, while the Protestant work ethic has guided our nation and underwritten much of our prosperity, it has also caused great harm to families, communities, and the culture itself. Driven people are addicted people, and yet, our culture deems them ambitious and hold these up as examples.

Work is neutral as to its "moral" base. Work is not unlike any other virtue or vice, it can be "good or bad". We all need self-reflection to know when work becomes an obstacle to other important aspects in our lives.

"Surrogates", the Movie

My husband and I went to see "Surrogates" this afternoon. It was a movie that historicizes "virtual reality".

"Surrogates" are robot type "models" of humanity that function for the individual in society. The living human being is "connected" to the surrogate via a "computorized system". "Surrogates" Live for the human, as the human only experiences their life within the confines of their "chair".

The meaning of the movie to me was how disconnected the "connected" were. Relationships were dissolved of intimacy and humans were denied their "humanity".

Is this where we are today, even though we don't "officially" function as a "surrogate" society?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Web Bot?

Forcasts of Web-Bot predict "a castastrophe" in December 2012. Web-Bot is a way to interpret the collective consciousness of mankind through the World Wide Web.

For those who think this is a hoax, 9/11 and Katrina was predicted. People are now believing that our "collective conscious" is how mankind should interpret and live his life.

Is this why the corporality and systems thinking has come into vogue?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


What is happening to our free society? Why are the American people left in the dark in regards to healthcare legislation?

Congress has to vote on this issue without knowing how much it will costs the American taxpayer!! And yet, these Comgressmen are to be OUR representatives!! American people WAKE UP!! We are being scammed....and why and what for and who is driving this legislation. I think there is more than meets the eye...

Healthcare is 1/6th of the American economy. And we believe AFTER A.C.O.R.N. that we can trust government to do things "right"??? Someone is asking for "blind faith" on our Congressmen's part and "blind trust" on the American people's part....Who is running the "ship" in America?

American doctors are already selling out their 'businesses" so that they do not have to be an assembly line of "healthcare service" under a government beauracracy. I don't blame them. The doctors who have a desire to really take care of their patients needs, do their jobs with utmost excellence, and not regard their patients as another number or quota to make their ends meet, are abandoning ship. They can't afford to make the money they need to and take care of the patients in the way they want to...I admire them.

What will be left of our healthcare providers once these are gone? What young person will seek to serve in this capacity when government will limit them? Will government then "mandate" who will be going to medical school and on what basis will these young people be determined? Will our professionals be governmental "pawns"?

A lot has to be seen. The American people are waiting. And we hope for the best.

Perfectability and Mutuality in Relationship

Some Christian denominations believe that man is "perfectable". These take "Jesus" as a moral example of faith, lifestyle and purpose. But is this necessarily a universal model for applicability in specifics?

I believe that it is the human aspect of relationship that is the highest moral virtue. And this relationship can be personal, communal, or governmental. But, personal virtue should never be sought apart from society's virtue of upholding human value and supporting human flourishing.

Quoted in Moo's James commentary: "I have often wondered that persons who make boast of professing the Christian religion -- namely love, joy, peace, temperance, and charity to all men (sic) -- should quarrel with such rancorous animosity and display daily towards one another such bitter hatred, that this, rather than the virtues which they profess, is the readiest criteria of their faith." Spinoza

This was a quote on Ken Schenck's blog, "Quadralateral Thoughts", this morning. I thought is was a good start for what I was thinking on for the past number of months.

The assumption of Spinoza is that something "more" than mere normal human relationships is required of the Christian community. Is this feasible? If so, is it healthy?

1). "charity to all men"....this is the "ideal" of Christian faith, but is it really possible to be charitable to ALL? As we live within contexts, we are limited by those contexts. We cannot be charitable to ALL. So location is a necessary qualification.

2.) "virtues, they profess".....virtue is personal and corporal....Is it virtuous for the corporal to "take a life" for good reason or purpose, without their personal knowledge and consent? (This is what happened to Jesus, but was what happened to Jesus, just? And should this be a "standard" for today's modern world?) Is it virtuous for a person in such circumstances, to "look the other way", "turn the other cheek" and "not speak out" against such injustice? What about those whose livlihoods are jeopordized because of someong breaking a law? ( Jesus responded by surrendering to the authorities and "not saying a word". But, what about speaking out against power that is unbalanced and "demented"?)Therefore, virtue is only illustrated within the context of community, but it does not act always in the ways that we suppose. Wisdom demands discernment about what is required in specific situations when it comes to abuse of power, issues of control, and disregard of another's person. Human rights demands that there be an "accounting".

3.)"should quarrel with such rancorous animosity and display daily towards one another such bitter hatred".....is "conflict" in itself, evil? Does peace mean by definition that there will be no differences to resolve because one party submits to the other party's desire without question? Isn't this stance allowing domination of another human being? And for what reason? Is there ever a justification to domination? I don't believe so. I don't believe this is what a free society allows, as we believe that each one of us has a "right" and a duty to use the gifts and ambitions that have been gifted. But, "selfish ambition" is not virtuous, nor considerate of another.

So, what does a "modern virtuous" Christian do?

1.) Obey the laws of their land. This is universally understood for those fortunate enough to live in free Constitutional governments.
2.) Fulfill his duty to his family. This is also universally understood in working for a living and supporting one's family, but the "duty" beyond that is interpreted in various ways according to individual conscience and human need.
3.)Loving one's neighbor. This also is understood, but is interpreted in various ways. Those that believe in a prescriptive view of the law, believe that Scripture has told us to take care of the orphans and the widow and the poor. Because these people view Scripture as absolute, they deem it mandantory for All Chrstians to do what Scripture specifically says. But, if one meets any other need of a neighbor, is this deemed "sub-par" to "what is written"?
4.) Being kind to one's enemy. Since love is so often considered a feeling in our society, then I use the word "kind", which conveys a respect and regard for one's enemy. But being kind does not mean that one agrees or submits to an enemy. Forbearance is needed.
5.) Many other virtues will be evident, but will vary according to the specific individual and giftings....and convictions.

We dare no make a list and check it twice in standardizing what we in behavior from specific individuals, unless it is the above mentioned universals of character.

Is Truth a Project?

In reading "Christian Scholars Review", I came across an article on Focus on the Family's "Truth Project", by Randal Rauser.

Is truth a "Project"? Evangelicals think so, as they believe that truth can be known as propositional in Scripture. These believe that God "has spoken" his Will through 'His Word" and the "only"(:)!) thing one has to do , is to dig out the meaning of the original text and find out what "He wants".

The problem with thinking that Scripture is so forthright, is that it does not always apply directly to the situations in today's modern world. So, do we "try to find our way back" to that world, or do we try to re-interpret what was meant? Has God then, lost his ability to communicate to/through/with man in today's language and with today's "propositions"? Propositions view life through "God's control" in history. He has a plan and we are the ones to respond to His plan. He is the King and we are His servants. This is the traditional view of the Church today.

But what of evolution? What happens to our view and understanding of "God" when such a revolution in understanding happens? No longer is there a personal God, who made man specially and gave him a command. But, now, there is impersonability, chaos, dynamism, parallel universes, etc. These all challenge the "old time religion's understanding to life, personhood, and humanity itself!

Rauser suggests in his article that the training done in these "leadership classes" is nothing more than indoctrination. It limits "worldview" to binary categories that do not take into account the "real world of complexities". This is not only damaging to those who attend, by limiting their critical thinking, but it set up a mentality that oppositional to anything "other" than what they have been taught. No critical thinking skills allowed.

An example I thought was very disturbing was when there was a suggestion that Maslow's hierarchy of needs was oppositional to "God's revealed Word" in Christ. Man is not to fulfill his potential, but to "find God". Potential is viewed as a 'worldly ambition". Think of the many people that are limiting themselves and those that follow these teachings.

Truth is a 'Project" only If one believes that people are projects and not unique creations that need to be known, encouraged, embraced and loved.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Multiculturalism and Postmodernity

Some in academia affirm multiculturalism. Multiculturalism limits one's ability to make distinctions and judgments. It is a hodge-podge of reason within context and culture defined equally.

All cultures are NOT equal. This is what concerns me about Obama's "submission to the U.N, I am committed to human rights as upheld by a democratic form of government. Obama said that he was going to uphold our values. Let's see how he does this in this multicultural melieu.

I do not believe that American interests will or can be upeheld IF China or those that undermine freedom in their own countries are allowed to lead or have an equal voice in international policy. If these countries don't believe in "free government", then why would they support policies that allow laws that undermine their values of "control" or domination?

Even if Obama doesn't support totaltalarian regimes, if he greets them similarly as those that are really our allies, what is the reward for their change? Are those behind the scenes so connected to criminal acitivity and corruption that organized crime really is holding the reigns of power internationally?

I would not be surprised if we found out that the powerful monied people are those that run drug rings, casinos, and brothels. I am saddened that our great nation has left her bearings in the Constitution for a dubious future.

Healthcare's Debate

Just tonight on the news, it was reported that an insurance company saw a letter that went out to their members on Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage is a program for the poor elderly. In the communication, it was reported that there would be 50% cuts to their healthcare benefits!

Congress discussed their obligation to review and inform their constinuiecies. I applaud those that want to be accountable to "the people" instead of doing what they want and giving us evasive answers to our questions. Or, giving us what we "want to hear" and then going ahead and doing what they want anyway.

We have hope that the judiciary and some in Congress will have enough integrity to uphold our Constitution, in spite of "visions of grandeur".

The U.N. Talk and Obama's Vision

I listened to Obama talk at the U.N. on radio and T.V. And I was impressed with his commitment to serve and represent American interests. But, he called for all nations to step forward in helping America fulfill the responsibility toward many social issues. I was glad that we were not going to be footing the whole bill.

Although he gave a great speech and many were positive in their reviews, I am a little wary of Lybian and Iranian interests. They did not seem to be interested in applauding our president during his speech, although Kadafi did acknowledge Obama's speech when he took the "stage".

I just wonder how much power can be distributed to the likes of these and still hold to democratic ideals? It doesn't seem that those who do not give their own countries a democratic type of government would lend an ear to ideals of "life and liberty".

China seemed from some accounts of their people to be open to taking a center stage place in the power re-distribution. America isn't to be the super-power anymore? Is this because we owe so many people and are really a "slave nation" today? But, the rhetoric was strongly focused toward a unified "one world".

On NPR there was a program taking calls to get feed-back worldwide on the speeches. One lady asked who would be making the ultimate decisions concerning a nation if a "one world governemt came into being. This is an important question, as it reveals that power will not be broad-based. The commentator answered that, of course, the decisions would be made by the
monied". Will the "monied" be a nation, like China, or will the "monied" be a group of people? These are pertinent questions in understanding what we can expect in the future in regards to our very "way of life".

I imagine there is little we can do globally, but we can do something nationally and I hope we will. The "Tea Parties" are a start and I think that if enough people raise their voices, then certainly someone will hear. We must try and not give up hope for our nation's recovery.

I will wait now and see if Obama does what he says for Amercian interests. And how much he upholds the values of human freedom and dignity to choose our own destinies. This is mandantory if we are to live in the future as free people.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Today's Talk on "Experience"

Today's talk at our honors forum was made by one of our religion professors. He admitted that his conviction had been based on reason, but recently had been "converted" to experience.

As he was talking, all I could think of was how anyone in this type of climate could survive such "supernaturalism". There would be no way to gauge how one "heard from God". I think this is the epitome of cultish mentality and could lead to abuse of power, as well as "self-delusion".

A interpretive "community of faith" was the answer given to my concerns. This suggests that faith trumps reason altogether. Quakers, Congregationalists, Pentecostals, Charismatics, as well as Holiness traditions hold to this type of "mentality".

The Holiness tradition, which is the tradition of this professor and the university, believes in a second work of grace, called "entire sanctification", where sin is eradicated out of the believer. When this experience happens, then there is "new insight" and understanding of Scripture that is not dependent on academic training. I started to shiver.

When I questioned how one could gauge self-deception and pride, the professor admitted that pride was indeed a problem! Pride is not a "little problem", it is a great problem, because pride is not open to another's opinion, and especially when they feel "spritiually superior" and have "heard from God". These are the things of which great cult leaders are made.

Another gauge was the rule of faith and the rule of love. But, actively loving someone takes personal knowledge, and even with personal knowledge, sometimes, even with my husband, I miss it. So, how is one to gauge if one is motivated with a right-directed "love"?

For instance, if these believe that Abraham's sacrifice was the epitome of faith and must be demanded of another as proof of entire sanctification, then they might bring immense pain and heart-ache in the "Name of God". This is nothing short of cruel, mis-guided and mis-informed fanaticism. Or what if these believed that one must "cut off his hand, or pluch out his eye" because of it possibly leading to "sin". I have been in these environments and have "submitted" to such superstition. I threw away a silver bracelet that my husband gave me for an anniversary because of an "authority" telling me it was an amulet".

I cannot agree or defend such "faith", as it is undefendable. It is based on personal/communal experience combined. This is nothing short of what soldiers experience in their bonding with others in their squad/platoon/brigade. There is nothing significantly "spiritual" happening here, as humans are social animals, that will experience persecuting situations as a bonding experience.

The Quadralateral allows for more than experience. It is based on reason, as well as experience, tradition and scripture. I find that tradition is culture and scripture is context specific, while experience can be unifying. Reason, on the other hand, can be unifying but most often can bring great division as we interpret within our own specific frames and express ourselves in unique ways.

Those that believe in such understandings and experiences, are seeking after a unifying experience and believe it is God. But it is really interpreted as God, because of the context. In another context, it would be called a "country club", or any other kind of social group.

What Is the Basis of a One World?

What is THE issue to unify the world? What should be of utmost importance? These questions have made the world complicated and complex. There seems to be no resolution or forthcoming "unity" for the "Globe".

The globalists insist that "one world" should be based on economics, as the material is the most important value to uphold. Whereas, the conservative Christian says that Christ is to "hold the world together" in unity. Some have attempted to combine these into a "social gospel" that sees the social problem of poverty as THE issue to be addressed.

Environmentalists insist that we must agree on pollution, as without the earth, none of us will have life, anyway. But the U.N. cannot come to agreement on the environmental requirements, so that the focus can be unified.

Those that believe that human rights are of most importance must agree on what basis is a human right a right. Is this individually determined? Or is it democratically determined? Does government matter when it comes to human rights? I believe it does.

So, government must be of utmost importance in addressing the complexities of today. Without good government, then we are doomed to live in abject slavery to the whims of authoritarianisms whatever they be based upon.

I think our form of government is best, as long as that form is being respected.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Transitions to New Realties

Change and transition are always a part of life. But, when transitions happen in one's life before the development to integrate them, it causes harm and great pain. I am speaking in personal terms of child development and the social realities of the family.

Since we are physical and historical beings, we are bound to develop within real historical realities of family, which is influenced by the culture it entertains.

In American society, where culture is diverse, there are many kinds or types of families. And these families are free to choice how they will raise their children, as long as it does not interfere with society's laws.

Society protects individual's, including children, from abuse. There are child protection agencies and social services that seek to intervene when family fails. And domestic violence groups protect women from abusive partners.

Psychologists and anthropologists have understood that we are social animals. We need social groups to meet human needs, as we develop personal identities. Experience in groups are what make for identification.

In fact, in studying Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, it was found that soldiers form a more formiable bonds to their fellow soldiers, than previous family bonds. This reality brings much heart-ache and re-adjustment to the military family, when the solier attempts to transition back into civilian life.

Adoptive and foster parents have discovered and sometime been forewarned that some children develop "attachment disorders" because of their chaotic or abusive families.

Teachers are aware of how much the parents involvment or uninvolvment affects the child's success in school. And problems at home distract student learning.

These realities are challenges to all of us, so that society will remain stable. And children can develop to fully functioning human beings.

Although family affects how the child develops in his "self-identity", i.e. who he is, what he stands for, and what he believes in and why, professors are bound by duty to expose their students to the wider world of knowledge, where children grapple with ideas and ideals that form and shape the world. These are no small or insignificant goals.

Our free society allows for free exchange of ideas and ideals. We should value more the "intellectual journey" of young adults. These are the future of America and the world. We should support those that attempt to form them in their thinking and not circumvent or suppress free information.

The Church has been challenged in this regard , in its understanding of faith, tradition and science. Today's reality of Darwinian evolution is no less daunting. And some deem this as an attack on faith altogether.

America was founded on the understanding that The Church is not the epitome, but man is. Man is created by his creator with certain inaleinable rights. These rights must be protected and sacralized by the Church. Otherwise, we disregard the person for Tradition. And Tradition is what needs changing, if it inhibits personal and societal development.

Our government forms policy that creates our political and social realities. Govenment must be protected from undue pressure from special interests groups. America or any free government needs to make policy on fact, not fiction, fantasy or fanaticism.

I think the family is a good start.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lawyers, Doctors and "Indian Chiefs"

Law defines our American society. Lawyers are powerful people. They create our society by legislation and vision. Lawyers hold the reigns in Congress and many other politically powerful positions.

Lawyers are those that hold others accountable. They bring to trial those that would take advantage or disadvantage another. Doctors find themselves under their power many times when they have acted irresponsibly.

"Indian Chiefs" are those who are promoted by their tribal power. These are identified by their localized "power". Their "power" is still upheld by laws that define their local governments.

The Pharisees in Jesus day had the power of the "Indian Chief". They were allowed the "freedom of religion", but were not as powerful as the leaders of the Rome or the Framers of our Constitution. The "free exercise" of religion was allowed in the Roman Empire, as the Empire found it useful to "use" the religious. The Framers also found religion to be useful, but not pivotal in forming a "more perfect union".

The "Indian Chiefs" formed their apologies for "God" based upon their tribal localities. These were the "communitarians" of our modern nation state.

The Christian "Gospel" was grounded in the "servile mentality" of "second class" citizens. These were the underclasses of society. In the developing tradition, "Paul" created a transcendental reality, where Christians were encouraged to view the material, political and social realms as "suspect". Christians were to "seek after a spiritual or transcentdental "home" or spiritual "salvation" to find their "peace". A separation of reality into the spiritual and the physical began to form.

This has created the basis of our terms, "Sacred and Secular". There is no "secular", unless there is a sacred (as the secular is only understood in the context of a/the sacred). And the sacred is how the "Indian Chiefs" or Pharisees judge "righteousness". Those in Rome, though, are satisfied to get the "Indian Chiefs" to be useful to society's functioning "smoothly".

Paul used his citzenship "rights". But, the "spiritualized" believe that appealing to "worldly" power is not "trusting God". This is absurd and leads to abuse of power.

I have been told "It is not what happens to you, but your response to it that matters". While I agree that obstacles should be challenges to the things we desire to accomplish, some view this as a "pass" on ethical behavior. Ethics should guide and guard the Lawyers amongst us, so that the Doctors and Indian Chiefs can live in Freedom. Freedom from the regulations, technicalities and obscenties of the "law" that seeks to circumvent the true intent of the law, in the first place.

The Real World of Hope

The real world is the poltical, as we are material and historical beings. 'We live and move in our social contexts, which the political reality creates. It is cruel to tell those who have no voice in their government that things will work out "for good". Or, worse, that God is doing something for character development!

American government is created by the voices that inspire "hope". These are political leaders that make life in free society an environment where the individual can create his own destiny. This is a hope for development, as it does not limit by caste system, or pre-determination. Our government allows for free choice.

Free choice is a value of American society because we believe that ethical complexities disallow "one size fits all", except for the laws that protect these values.

I have fear that our government's very foundations are being undermined by those that think they are the "shapers" (formers) of another. These do not value independent thinking, behavior or questions, because they do not really believe in liberty. They believe that their responsibility is to create the "proper environment" for another. They do not believe that an individual can determine, and choose for himself. They know best. These forms of governing are aristocratic and the attitude is controlling. Information is only given to create of control another's opinion and thinking.

Aristocrats believe that they have special priviledge and entitlement in thier positions of authority. The people are to be "useful" for their purposes of governing. Patronage was a servile mentality and stance toward another. Americans believe that "all men are created equal", therefore, we determined that slavery was immoral and our government was a limited one.

A limited government is necessary in upholding the values of human equality, as it does not impose itself upon individual liberties. Americans all have a voice in their government, if they care to. If we cease to care for and protect these liberties, then we are doomed to fall into hands that create our realities for us. And these realities are not free ones.

I think the Real World of Hope is a world that is a free one.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Religion's Anesthesia

Religion creates a false reality.

Religion touts answers when the questions are too deep.
If seek them, you are not "filled with faith",

Religion hinders development because of false security.
God controls all of life, so there is no need to learn, grow, or become. You are only to "believe" and, therefore, "do".

Religion thinks it knows the absolute, when relatives are "the human".
God is the absolute for religion, and human are relatively insignificant.

Religion is the "comfort zone" for the religious, who define for everyone else, what life means, how it is to be lived, and who it is to be lived for.
These are "one size fits all" definitions.

The Religious believe that their view is the only view and their reality is the only reality.
And Yet,

Religion believes in a reality that does not exist except in one's mind. Religion is anesthesia to life.
And some call this "Real" hope!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reasons Have to Be Enough

I have a mixture of thoughts "mixing around" in my head, that don't really "come together" coherently. So, this post may sound a little more rambling than the average. :)

Relationships are always difficult at some time and/or in some way. These are the "things life is made of", these fragile, fulfilling, exasperating, perplexing, confusing, exhilerating, fascinating, encouraging, faithful reliationships.

But, the most challenging are those in which you are between two people(s) whom you love (personal) or desire to see a resolution (justice). You understand both sides, and both people and can't take sides without denying something that is above rational. You can agree with one, but can't betray the other. So, you try to resolve the dilemma by defending the one to the other. Sometimes this works, sometimes you alienate both parties. What do you do?

Sometimes the differences are due to temperament and different values and focus in life. But, many times, it is also experience that determines how one views the things that are straining relationships. There is no way that you can help someone who has no experience to draw from to understand the other's perspective.

This is the world of diplomats where two cultures collide and there is no reason where one is "right and the other wrong". In one sense, this is true. But, in the absolute sense, what is "right" is what has been resolved long before the conflict in the laws that govern nations, and people. These laws seek to underwrite justice and protect lives from undue interference. And this is the nature of "human rights".

But, is there something more important than human rights? If one dissolves all difference to the 'common" does that dissolve something that is unspeakably significant? Does one loose A human being" in the midst of "mass humanity", or "The human being". I think this is so.

Each nation has interests that must be appropriately negotiated and represented in world politics. This is where our nation's interest, the military, and international law, foreign policy and the wider diplomatic community are invested.

Today, I heard that Obama had not agreed to what some human rights activists were advocating. These activists were wanting Gitmo's "discussion" on human rights abuses to apply to prisoners the military are holding in Afghanstan. Prisoners of war are those who are challenging our right as a nation to exist. Although these prisoners of war are human beings, there is somethig more important the unique "kind' of human being. One cannot make distinctions and judgment, evaluations of any kind, if there is no way to distinctify. And distinguishing is of major importance when it comes to national interests and the protection of the majority.

So, whatever the liberal, leftist propaganda may say; we are all prejuidiced, otherwise we can have no convictions /judgments to strategize and that applies to the human rights advocate.

Reasons Have to Be Enough.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cinderella, "Happily Ever Afters" and Prejuidice

"Blood runs deeper than water", or so the saying goes.

My grand-daughter is watching "Cinderella". It is a "moral story" that has a significant message about prejuidice, justice, and "hope".

The story, as most Americans know, is about a girl's hopes of "becoming" and the wicked step-mother's determination that Cinderella's future will be undermined by limitations of her determination.

I walked into our family room, just at the moment in the movie when the invitation is opened to attend the "Ball". When the step-mother reads it out loud to her two daughters in Cinderella's presence, Cinderella exclaims that she also should be included. (The invitation is addressed to "All")

The step-mother says that Cinderella can go IF she gets all her chores done. (Cinderella is a "slave") She hurries to get everything done and get dressed, only to get attacked by her step-sisters and her step-mother. She is left destitute and runs away crying because she has "no hope". Prejuidice never allows another any "hope" of accomplishing their own ends. Prejuidice determines beforehand where one "fits" and doesn't make for any allowances.

There is something that resonates within the human heart about "hope", possibilities and potential. Cinderella has potential but she is disadvantaged.

The story ends in a happily ever after of a "fairy god-mother" who uses "magic" that makes everything "all right". Cinderella gets to attend the Ball and gets the Prince's attention. Cinderella and the Prince end up living happily ever after. Such are the dreams of every little girl. But, it is also the hope of the human heart.

Our American society allows such "creations" of human happiness, potentialities and justice. We believe in the ability of obstacles to be overcome and the underdog's ability to not be "kept under". And our society values the rule of law and civil liberties.

Our sense of justice is valued by our understanding of "blind justice". We do not believe that prejuidice or priviledge is in any way allowed within our courts of law! We believe that irregardless of "blood ties", or other ways of defining ourselves within our contexts, the/a human being is more important. And the/a human being must be allowed the freedom to attend the Ball, if she chooses and not be designated to "housefhold chores" (cleaning up another's mess).

The Founders believed, "all people are created equal, with certain inalienable rights. These are the rights of life, liberty and the 'pursuit of happiness".

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy 9-11? The Challenge of Liberty and Justice.

Of course 9-11 was not "happy". And because we do not want to experience such a "happy" occassion again, we cannot forget what is symbolized.

9-11 symbolized such a radical faith that men and women are willing to die for it. This faith is a faith that is based not on reason, but revelation. It is not just a transcentdental view of life, but also, a political one. Islam is a politicized faith. And such a politicized faith as an absolutist, exclusivistic, and intolerant one, is dangerous indeed. It does not allow women and children basic human rights nor is it open to change. Those who impose laws that support such a faith are intolerant and authoritarian.

Our Founders found a nation based on freedoms. Freedoms from human authorities and based on the "rule of law". Men and women were willing to die for such liberties. Such radical commitment to the values that underwrote our Constitution are what gain human liberty and underwrite human rights movement. America's laws protect individual liberties and are not intolerant, unchanging and authoritarian.

Our nation is known for it opportunites and its innovation. We are a nation that absorbs all cultures and does not discriminate based upon personal convictions. Freedom of thought and speech guaruntees that the public's interest will be won at the ballot box. Our views have been so conditioned by such an environment, that it is hard for us to imagine such an oppressive religious regime. Our Founders protected our society from religious wars by the Establishment Clause.

Now, on the twilight of a decade of struggling against a religious view, our nation finds itself in a type of 'religious war' over legislation and how we should treat those who do not respect the 'rule of law'. This is a dangerous time in our country's history, but not because of "God's impending judgment" upon an ungodly nation, but because of the undermining of our country's valuing of liberty and law. We are unlike any other nation, because we are a government "for the people and by the people". Let us count our blessing todays and not forget the costs of liberty and furthering justice.

Aren't you glad that you live in America?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Men Use and Abuse

Men use God to further their own purposes. Men justify themselves by "God's will". Men use others "in the name of God" and say it is for "God's Kingdom". Slavery for God's purposes means God is a slave-holder.

God is therefore, not good, because he priviledges the few at the expense of others. God is not love, because he disregards other voices. He only hears the "right" voice.

Which "voice", you ask? Asking means there is hope that you will hear. Questions are the only "hope" for the world.

Don't cry because God doesn't hear. God has no ears.

Is God worthy? Or is he like the worst nightmare and one's worst enemy?

Oh, but you say that he has set himself against the arrogant and that it is only for discipline that one is suffering. And you are convinced that God will return to the arrogant, though they forsook him, once the arrogant repent. Isn't this giving the same advice as Job's comforters? They had all the answers, because they knew the mind of God. And they understood perfectly well, Job's "problem".

But the problem was really theirs.

Men Were and Men Are

Men were created to be free. This was man's natural state. But, man was not satisfied to be free. He must organize and structure his environment to best suit himself, to dominate others, nature and his social environment.

Men are now doomed to government's demands, and limitations upon choice. Men are doomed to serve instead of dominate. This and is the state of slaves under tyrants, dictators, Kings, "gods", systems, governments, laws, and nature, herself. Men are limited by such things.

So, man's need to dominate was his very enslavement. He organizes only to serve himself. He structures to form his understanding, so he can control others. And, so, all men are now enslaved.

Healthcare and "Local Politics"

Conservatives are known to be "localists". They believe that the local government knows best about what its people need, or want. Liberals on the other hand believe that government must be centralized for there to be a unification of purpose.

Isn't it interesting that Obama believes in universal healthcare and communitarian service? These seem at odds, but perhaps, it is only the localists that will be called to re-distribute our wealth.

This morning Newt Gingrich was on NPR. He said that he would propose several smaller bills to improve the system, as otherwise, a large monstrosity, such as this one, would lead to "buying votes". And "buying votes" always leads to "pork barrell spending".

It will be interesting to see what happens to healthcare.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Which Way?

I have been fascinated by American Creation's blog site. They have been discussing many issues concerning our Founding as a nation.

Which way is best to understand our present reality? Realism , Critical Realsim, or Instrucmentalism?

Realism makes absolute and universal claims about what humans know, understand and value (or should value). Realism says that we perceive everything the same way. It is a correspondence view of Truth. History happened in the real world. Scientific facts are facts.

Instrumentalism understands "what works", is more pragmatic in its assessment, as it is focused on "outcome". Instrumentalism is a kind of "social contruction" about reality. The real is what leaders say is real. History is interpreted by these to assure outcomes.

Critical realism says that although reality is "out there", we cannot know it absolutely. We only know "in part", as we are within certain contexts of history, societial, and personal. This being the case, the critical realists must evaluate what he chooses to value as "ultimate". These are the "ideals" that our Founding Fathers viewed as "most important".

The Quadralateral affirms different ways of "being in the world". Some understand through reason and make their evaluations about life based on reason's assessment. But, reason is still interpreted within contexts of one's experience or expertise. We cannot get away from various contexts.

Though tradition and scripture are the interpretive lens of understanding culture, these are not absolute, either. So, those in leadership must strategize, using their reason, about what outcome is to be valued and work to formulate how policy helps to form that outcome.

The outcome today is multicultural, and global. The multiculturalists values reason within contexts, while the critical realists understands that everyone's culture, cannot be the one and only outcome, as we must choose what is of ultimate importance.

We need critical realists that will defend Western civilization from its demise.

This morning it was reported that Germany is at odds with America over a NATO attack that killed Afghan citizens. Globalism creates division where it concerns the West's interest, because the West has bought into the multicultural "worldview where the West is dismissed on the basis of "imperialism", or "colonialism". The multiculturalists tries to rectify injustice through minority rights. And the unintended consequences is reverse discrimination.

Last night, on TV it was reported how the multiculturalists are re-writing our history, and labelling the heroes of our past with derogatory names, undermining thier work in building our culture of freedom and justice.

I think that we are headed for rough waters unless reason holds sway above multiculturalism. Multiculturalism will lead us toward communism, which undermines individual liberties. And individual liberties are only won under accountable and responsible leadership, who inform the public of the outcome, instead of "winning" through sleight of hand.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

When To Be Concerned?

This will be a more personal blog entry, so those uninterested, be forewarned.

Our grandson was born early and was hospitalized before his first year for respiratory problems. His difficulty breathing led to feeding difficulties that resulted in adnoid surgury before his second birthday. Even though he has had a "rough road" in his short lifetime, he is a very pleasant little guy and we are all blessed.

Our daughter is a nurse, so she is more aware of what his development "should" be. This has led to her concerns over his delayed development and her anxiety about his future learning ability. He will be two in November and doesn't really say much of anything. And my daughter pointed out yesterday that he doesn't stack blocks or run without falling down.

My husband and I have enjoyed both of our grandkids and have not been overly concerned for him although he is way behind his bigger sister. Is our lack of concern because we inadvertedly compared him to her and she is functioning way above the norm? Or was our lack of concern a lack of "connection", as sort of "denial"? I don't know how to gauge, but I am glad that he will be having his two year check-up in the next two months. Maybe we can get more answers from his pediatrician. I hope so for all of us.

I tell this little story to make a point. Every individual develops differently, and at their own pace. But, there is some sort of standard in which "normal" development is measured. Is this the case with moral, spiritual or emotional development? If so, when should we expect someone to behave at a post-conventional level? How do we know when someone is morally, spiritually or emotionally handicapped? Do we make the allowances for these people and how do we do so without intruding upon another's "space", patience, and 'peace"?

It seems to me that many conservative religious people are caught up in the "own world", which is separated from the 'real world'. And it leads to much "disgrace" to the religious community. Is this because of "emotional need", "moral immaturity", or "spiritual failure"? I think that there is much that would collaborate that some never develop beyond an "pre-conventional level". Should we be concerned or let these people function in their "little worlds"?

This morning our pastor preached a sermon on "Abraham"'s faith. I checked with my husband to make sure he heard the same and he confirmed what I had understood. Our pastor was calling for a "radicalized faith" that was disrespective of reason, a "jump in the dark". He wanted to encourage people to leave their comfort zones, whether homes, family, etc. to "follow God". He used Hebrews 11, as his text. He promised that those who did would find "greatness". Greatness was not celebrity or fame, but gravity in impacting the world. I cringed because it literalizes a specific understanding of "faith" and it also suggests that faith is most "faithful" when it disregards reason. This view dismisses "reason's" reasons.

None of us want to be "wrong" or be responsible for bringing heartache or damage upon another. This is what our daughter is dealing with in feeling responsble for her son's learning difficulties. When was she to be concerned enough to demand attention, when several attempts were re-buffed by professionals? Should she have demanded irregardless of these professional opinions? Would it have made a difference?

What about our pastor's suggestion about faith? Isn't it cultish to suggest especially to young people to "trust" God and to disregard reason altogether? Should a parent be concerned if a student decides that God has called him to quit school and "do something for God"? Isn't suggesting that this kind of "call" is something that is "more" or "above" another's "common job"? I think this is dangerous and I am concerned. Should I be? Our pastor made a point that Abraham had lied, cheated, and stolen, but he did follow God.

Responsible behavior should be what every young adult increasing demonstrates in his life. Irresponsibilty in the "name of God" has brought much reproach upon Christian faith, the Church, and religion, in general. And I have found that when I have expressed concerns about "radicalized faith" in the past, the "professionals" disregarded my quesitons, as well. Were they being as presumptuous as my grandson's doctors? Will my faith in "faith communities" forever be damaged because of this "oversight"?

All I know is that really listening and hearing others is always hard. But, it is impossible if we have other agendas, like who is next on my appointment book, or minimizing another's situation with platitudes of "better days" ahead. We just never know when our concern will make a powerful difference in another's life. A lack of concern certainly has impacted my daughter, my grandson, and myself.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Political Ideology, Theology, and " Black Power"

Men must exist with material goods to survive. Clothes, food and shelter are all a necessity to maintain an environment for human flourishing. But, is this all that provides for human flourishing? I don't think so.

I think that humans must have the freedom to pursue their dreams, which provides hope that their choices will not be undermined. This is what a free and open democratic system provides. But, there are those who want to use "morality to affirm the basic necessities, but limit or confine what or how an individual "should" live their lives in seeking their "hope for their futures". These are communists, as they believe that "moral government" is a government that functions to provide the basics, but limits personal choice and freedom to pursue one's destiny.

As a democratic representative Republic, we are prone to loose these freedoms we value. Alexander Tyler, a British historian warned:
"democracies cannot exist as a permanant form of government; they will only exist until the people find that they can vote money for themselves from the treasury and until the politicians find that they can distribute that money to buy votes and perpertuate themselves in power. Hence, democracies always collapse under weak fiscal policy to be followed by a dictatorship.".

I fear that we have come to this point, where our fiscal irresponsibility has "come calling". We are a nation in debt because we have over-indulged ourselves. Money or making money is not the problem, but greed and power are. And because we can't "go any further" in debt, America plays into the hands of another type of ideology, as the solution; communism.

Dimitri Mannilski said in the Lenin School for Political Warfare in the 1930's;
" War to the hilt between communism and capitalism is inevitable. Today, of course, we are not strong enought to attack. Our time will come in thirty or forty years. To win, we shall need the element of surprise. The bourgeoisie will have to be put to sleep. So we shall begin by launching the most spectacular peace moverment on record. There will be electrifying overtures and unheard of concessions. The capitalist countries, stupid and decadent, will rejoice to cooperate in their own destruction. They will leap at another chance to be friends. As soon as their guard is down, we will smash them with our clenched fist."

How will communists gain such power over America? Leonid Brezhnev said in 1973; "Our aim is to gain control of the two great treasure houses on which the West depends; The energy treasure house of the Persian Gulf and the minerals treasure house of central and southern Africa".

But, communism is not the only enemy we "fight", we also fight Islam. Where in the world are communist regimes, political/theological ideologies holding sway and Islam is the main religion? Africa.

Black power is understood to be in "Liberation theology", which is communistic at its foundation. A classless society is not possible without a ruling class that "oversees". And dictators and elitist classes was not the foundation of our form of government. Amercia believed in a "balance of power" and a representative democratic republic. We have become what the British historian warned against, a nation that can "buy votes". There should be no special priviledge based on anything other than a person's hard work, self-governance, responsibility and his own choice. But, we are fast becoming the dictatorship that is the result of a "failed democracy".

How about term limits for Congress?

Sex Education, Society and Parental Responsibility

Many conservatives picket against sex education in our public schools, as thy think that this ia a parental responsibility. I agree. Children should be taught at home what is appropriate behavior. But, this is not always done. What then?

Statistics show that sexual experimentation is happening at an increasingly younger age. And the experiementation is not just an "innocent kiss". STDs can be the "sorry" result. This is disturbing and should concern all of us. Where are the parents?

I, by no means, think that public education "should" be where children learn about sex, but sometimes it is the only place that some can become informed. Where are the parents?

Many involved parents are concerned over the information given in these classes. And I believe that it is the parent's right to protect their children from information that they deem unnecessary, damaging or against their convictions.

So, why are children becoming more curious at an earlier age? Is it becuase Hollywood presents sex in a certain "light"? Is it because parents are not present or "engaged" to know what their children are watching or doing? Is it both?

Our society needs to protect itself and its children. If parents do not do their duty, then it is necessary for some other organizational structure to do the work. The Church and the school are the avenues where sex education has happened outside of the home.

The Church our family went to in Maryland had a "class" for all parents and pre-teens presenting a Christian version of "sex education". I thought it was appropriate and breached what sometimes is an embarassing topic for some parents. It gave us material to work on and was a natrual place and format for the "sex talk" to happen.

But, what happens to those children whose parents are not in Church? Should we allow children to be untaught about their sexuality? And then, what should be taught? That is the real question that divides us.

Humans have sexual drives that are quite normal and should be treated so. Children should be informed to their body's functions and should be guided in how to direct these desires in the appropriate ways. But, at the same time, we cannot hide our heads in the sand and believe that all will follow through with these instructions, even when they desire to. Training children to delay gratification is a long process which builds character and our society is not the breeding ground for such development. We are a "fast food" society.

So, what of protecting the children from STDs? Or should we? Should STDs and teen pregnancy be the costs of an undisciplined life? What are the costs to society if this be the stance? I see both sides to the problem and am not sure what the solution is.

But, what I do know is that parents cannot remain uninformed about what their children are doing and what they are exposed to.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What Do You Do?

What do you do when someone 'knows best" or "better for you" than you do yourself? Although we all need support and 'another set of eyes" to see at times, others are not omniscient or omnipotent.Those who think this way are dangerous. These think that their understanding, the way they see things, is all there is, because they are "omnipresent". Time nor boundaries have no meaning to them, because they disregard history. These tout 'supernatural revelation", or knowledge, insight, or experience. Their experience is universal.

I do believe that history is a teacher of wisdom. It leads to understanding, but not "Truth", as we are individuals, so there is personal history. We are also citizens, so there is national history..

In coming to understand more about my own "national history", I think that it is a shame that our political leaders deem it necessary to make changes that the people have not favored. I had understood our representative republic to not only represent the people's interests in protecting national security, but also that these "leaders" were deemed worthy by the consent of the governed. Why will they not give up? Why don't they address what concerns the American people? Have we sold ourselves so far into debt that there is "no way back"? Are we headed to a new "ruling elite" that demands our service and sacrifice?

It was reported that Biden said that though the American people would "kick and scream' that there would be health reform of some kind passed. Why are we not given more information about why this is so imperative. Why are we setting aside other issues for this one? Why is this one of the greatest importance. We haven't even been given a straightforward answer about what the proposed plan would be.

On the radio, I heard that many parents were outraged over Obama's proposed "propaganda machine". They are concerned for their children, and rightly so. Why? Because Obama is calling for the children to think of ways they can serve their country. That is all well and good and many parents would oblige that "call" to service, but Obama does more than this. He calls for their allegience and service to him. This goes a little "beyond the pale", I think. And he uses celebrities to "do his service". Gullible children are given a message by those who they have seen on TV or in the movies about how they are to behave.

I am sure that the "goal" is to train children to be public servants. But, educators cannot train thier students to be public servants at the costs of "critical thinking" and academic freedom. We are a nation that believes in freedom of thought and the right to express that thought.

There has been some debate about how much freedom should be allowed on the internet. Some think that the internet is a fabulous way to distribute information and thus, empower, the people. This is a good thing, generally speaking. But, it is not so good, if it causes national security breaches or dismisses privacy laws.

What do we do? Continue to speak out against any form of propaganda or plays for public sentiment at the costs of reasoned discourse.

What should we do? I think I will leave that up to your conscience.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Life Forms

This morning while having breakfast with my husband, we talked about what made human life different from other forms of life, or could we make that distinction.

Scientists understand life's interdependence. It views life from a wholistic viewpoint. This is why there is so much concern over the environment. Without environment, then 'life' cannot function properly.

This is also the case in human contexts. Without the proper environment, life cannot function properly. Life is squashed, squelched, and squandered.

But, is there something greater than the equality of life forms? Is human life no different from biological systems?

The irreducible complexity of the world and the human being is beyond human ability to understand. I wonder if we will ever be able to understand everything about the world and life.

Life is truly a mystery. In this sense, life goes beyond the material realm. Life points beyond itself, as a design. But, what kind of design is the question. That is what philosophers these days are quandering over.

I just hope they don't reduce life, otherwise, we are headed for quanity over quality and that would be a disservice to mankind.

Troubling Questions and the CIA

The CIA protects American interests in bringing information to our governmant. These government employees do their work under risk of their lives. They do their work for the sake of our countrie's continued freedoms. Some have questions about which is of higher value; American security or human rights.

The CIA has used various means to obtain certain ends and have been sucessful in many cases. But, the question of how they have gone about their interrogation has caused some consternation over abuses of human rights. But, what of those who are not forthcoming with information that would undermine our freedom and cause great harm worldwide? What is the basis of discerning "justice", when certain individuals are dangerous for justice at large?

Suspected criminals have been given their 'miranda rights". We are a nation that believes that one is innocent until proven guilty. But, how are undercover operatives to be "found out", if not with another 'undercover operative"? The disadvantage to the CIA in getting information from those who do not value human life is troubling. Terrorists can go free, because the CIA is bound by "human rights". How is the CIA going to do their job? Will it require them to get more 'evidence' of criminal behavior? And how are they going to do this with the terrorists?

The Modern Age was an age of Reason. We based our determinations of "law and justice" on the Constitution, which was to protect our citizens. Today's post-modern and the multi-cultural "melieu" has muddied the waters and bred many questions regarding nation-states and their very existence.

Now, after determining that there was nothing further to "investigate", and that we would let "bygones be bygones", we are re-considering investigating these charges. I thought that once a determination was made "under law" then one could not be tried again. Can a person be re-tried for a trial already determined?

The Democrats are crying that we are a nation "defined by laws". I quake to think what lawyers will do to justice, if they want to...Lawyers have ways to manevuer around "common sense".

What will happen to those who would want to commit their lives to the CIA? Will they desire to commit to the government with no guarantee of governement protection? What will happen to those that are presently in the CIA? Will they look elsewhere for jobs and will those that stay be so cautious that they will become insignificant to our national security? Will the protection of American citizens and the values of liberty be dismissed because of the value of life over liberty?

These are the questions that face the 'think tanks", politicians, and the American people.