The Ebola Crisis: A Case Study in Worldviews

Numerous articles have been sparked by Brian Palmer’s piece on the Christian medical “missionaries” and the Ebola crisis. They include the following at MereOrthodoxy, Ethic’s Daily, New York Times!, and BreakPoint.

These have mostly focused on the motivations of Christian healthcare workers and how scary this is for many. I want to write about the worldview aspect of the burgeoning crisis. That is, not the worldview of the westerners but of those who are most affected and suffering, the Africans.

A hint of their worldview comes from a communication I received from an acquaintance intimately connected to the westerners on the frontlines of the Ebola crisis. I was hoping to convince him to write an article for the Christian Journal for Global Health about his firsthand experience, but the situation is changing too rapidly for him to sit down and write.

Nevertheless, what he sent me is a fascinating, though sad, look inside the challenges rooted in worldview in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and so many other African countries.

Here is what was said:

Mike,

Sorry to be putting you off. One main reason is that the situation is so swiftly changing. The early response from the churches … was as follows:

When we came in, as fellow Christians, and fellow worshipers, our folks would explain all about hand washing, how the virus would be transmitted, etc. After all that, and demonstrations etc. then the pastor would end by sort of opening his hands, and saying something like, “We hear all that but we are just dependent on prayer, and we know that nothing we do can change God’s will for us. We know if we pray God will protect us.”

Ugh, our folks were so frustrated, while, after explaining, and demonstrating they were confronted with incredible fatalism. Now it is very different. There is very little hugging, hand holding, or touching of any kind, but the pastors all say the churches are packed and praying.

There is a much greater understanding of the disease, and, among the churches, a much greater acceptance of the situation as it is. That is, without any real understanding of germ theory, they are willing to accept that what the doctors say is true.

We have formulated a sort of question list for pastors to work with in teaching their congregations.

But, as I say, it is such a moving situation. We were just on the phone this morning with our guys in Liberia. We will speak again to them on Friday. The one thing, when we are on, one on one, with our staff, is the fear they have for the safety of their families. For themselves they know how to behave, but while they are at work, they will call their wives and tell them not to step off the porch, and don’t let the kids out etc. This fear is probably the greatest challenge, as it pervades night and day, and there is no break. When we begin to attempt to apply theology to this, we also need to have some practical actions to give them at the same time. It is one thing to know your theology, but it is another thing to think of putting your foot right on the footprint of an infected person, who will be dead tomorrow. What did they touch? Where have they been? It is very scary for all the people.

You have seen the reactions of some of the non-christians who feel trapped. In Guinea, killing 8 workers. In Sierra Leone the attack on the body disposal crew. This is only the beginning of it. I am thinking a person can begin writing, but it is way to early to say we have any sort of answer yet.

This thing has a long way to go, and will so deeply affect the people that it is difficult to comprehend how it will end up.

This is fatalism at its worst. It reminded me of a promo video I was shown during a recent medical missions summit. In it an African male voice prays fervently that God will, among many things, get rid of the violence, corruption, poverty, etc. in this man’s country. It seemed most in the room were deeply touched by the video while inside I was rather disturbed. This person was essentially praying as if God was going to do all this while the local believers just sit by idly (suffering) and wait for Him to act!

My long time mentor, Dr. Dan Fountain, always taught that if we seek to help people live lives of Shalom (our term for development work) but don’t help them overcome a fatalistic worldview, we will never make progress. This is the job of the Church. Yes, we are to be a praying people, and yes, we are to have faith, faith of a mustard seed. But after we pray and after we acknowledge our faith in Christ we then need to act. The two cannot be separated. If they are, we will see further episodes such as is occurring in Africa right now.

Mike Soderling on the Ebola crisis

– Mike Soderling

Michael Soderling MD, MBA (International Development) serves as Director of the Center for Health in Mission and is the Associate Editor for Health Missions for the Christian Journal for Global Health.

  
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How a Welfare Mentality Crushed the War on Poverty

In an earlier post I argued that America’s “War on Poverty” has been a dismal failure. Poverty has won the war!

As I suggested, lack of money is not the root of the problem. Thus more money (and more government bureaucracy) is not the solution.

To understand the solution we need to see the relationship between four parts of public life:

For Ps

Our poverty fighting programs are derived from government policies. Policies are grounded in principles. How often do citizens and policy makers examine the principles from which they are functioning? And the foundational level of all this are our paradigms, or worldviews. How many people concerned about poverty take time to consider how various paradigms (or sets of assumptions) affect our policies and programs?

For over 50 years we have created more programs and spent more money to end poverty, and yet poverty has increased. Perhaps it is time to curtail spending and ask some difficult questions regarding the root of poverty. Maybe we need to examine the principles and paradigms which, consciously or sub-consciously, are driving our policies and programs.

Often the problem is in the mind. There is such a thing as a poverty or entitlement mentality. “Someone else will take care of me.” “The government will take care of me!” “President Obama will take care of me.” The United States is becoming less a land of opportunity and more a land of government largess.

Chris Cabrera, a vice president in the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307 at McAllen, Texas, spends his time working along the Mexican-US border. He knows firsthand the human tragedy now taking place there. Speaking from an “on-the-ground perspective,” he states what he is hearing from illegal immigrants as to their motive for streaming across the border:

I find it odd that their whole thing is, “We are going to get amnesty when we get here. Where is my permiso [permission]? Where is my permission to go north so I can get my medical care and my schooling and all that? President Obama is going to take care of us and make sure we’re all OK.”

Whether it’s the adults or the young kids, one thing we consistently hear is, “Obama will take care of us.”

This is a prime example of how the mind of poverty works. In previous generations, people “yearning to breathe free” immigrated to America. Now would-be immigrants are yearning to be taken care of by the state.

A poverty mentality gives rise to poverty behaviors that contribute to the intransigence of poverty. In the old order, people made distinctions between virtue and vice. Virtuous people were wise. They applied the truth, choosing to live in the moral reality that God had made. Others chose to follow their baser instincts, to indulge in vices. They were foolish in their behavior and their bad choices led to bad consequences.

Some readers will take offense at my words. Some will be indignant at my audacity to make value judgments on other’s behaviors. But if we really have a heart to help people out of poverty rather than merely enabling them to live more comfortably in poverty, perhaps we need to go deeper in our analysis of the problem.

Welfare breaks down the habits and norms that lead to self-reliance

Robert Rector is senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. He wrote that President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty was intended to “attack not just the symptoms of poverty but, more important, remove the causes.” Rector continues,

By that standard, the war on poverty has been a catastrophe. The root “causes” of poverty have not shrunk but expanded as family structure disintegrated and labor-force participation among men dropped. A large segment of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than when the war on poverty began.

Closer to the root of the problem is family breakdown and loss of a work ethic, particularly among large segments of youth and men. Rector identifies that responsible behavior is a product of the virtues that lead to self-sufficiency:

Welfare breaks down the habits and norms that lead to self-reliance, especially those of marriage and work. It thereby generates a pattern of increasing inter-generational dependence. The welfare state is self-perpetuating: By undermining productive social norms, welfare creates a need for even greater assistance in the future.

What we are discovering is that we can buy as much poverty as we want to pay for. Author, engineer, and entrepreneur Louis Woodhill writes: “What turned the War on Poverty into a social and human catastrophe was that the enhanced welfare state created a perverse system of incentives, and people adapted to their new environment.”

– Darrow Miller

 

  
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Sex Selective Abortion: Femicide Emerges in the USA

Sex selective abortion reminds us that every vacuum of virtue is filled with evil. In the US, because we have failed to support the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, we are witnessing an increase of evil.

In the last few decades we have witnessed growth in abortions, including late-term and “fourth-trimester” abortion. We are seeing a growing acceptance of euthanasia, a celebration, even, of “death with dignity.”

Now we are witnessing gendercide gaining a foothold in the United States.

We began writing about gendercide over four years ago (see Gendercide: the War on Baby Girls and Getting Involved in the Fight Against Gendercide). If you regularly read Darrow Miller and Friends, you know that 200,000,000 women are missing in the world today. Two-hundred million females have been killed simply because they are female. Every year, India and China kill more baby girls than are born in the United States.

And not only India and China. Recently, the wide use of gendercide has been reported in England and Europe.

Now the evil may be branded Made in America.

Some Chinese, Indian, and Korean families immigrating to the United States have brought a retrograde, sexist cultural baggage of misogyny with them. Researchers have found that families with this sexist cultural baggage are impacted when their first child is a daughter. In these families the male-female ratio of a second child was 117 to 100 in favor of boys. In the same family, if the first and second children were girls, the male-female ratio for a third child was 151-100. Clearly they were using sex selective abortion to eliminate female babies.

American “fertility clinics” are marketing advertisements to these Asian communities for sex selective abortion. A Google search for sex selective abortion revealed this advertisement:

Gender Selection Center – ReproductiveFertility.com‎   Adwww.reproductivefertility.com/ ‎ (213) 784-3542 Gender Selection, Family Balancing, Stress Free Healthy Pregnancy.

Here is a newspaper’s classified ad.

sex selective abortion ad

For more on advertising for sex selective abortion see “U.S. fertility clinic targets baby gender-selection ads at Indo-Canadian community.”

Planned Parenthood offices typically refuse to counsel against sex selective abortion. Their mantra, “a woman’s right to choose,” would better be stated, “Planned Parenthood’s right to profit.” See this undercover video of a Planned Parenthood office in Texas as an example.

Nine out ten Americans oppose sex selective abortion. In 2012, there was an attempt to eliminate sex selective abortion. Known as the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), the legislation was defeated 246-178 on May 31, 2012. We feign outrage that 200 million women are missing in the world. But given the opportunity, Congress can’t muster enough support to stop gendercide in the USA.

You would think feminist groups would have supported legislation to stop sex selective abortion of female babies. One of the reasons the bill failed is that pro-abortionists like Planned Parenthood and NARAL opposed the legislation. Here is a NARAL twitter attack against PRENDA: Fight back against #PRENDA. Tell your Rep to say NO to this #antichoice bill: http://bit.ly/JyRBgT #HR3541.

For the modern feminist, preventing sex selective abortion limits “a woman’s right to choose.” And any law to such effect is unacceptable.

Do feminists really not value the life of baby girls? Do they really value “a woman’s right to choose” over the life of a female child? If this thinking proceeds to its logical conclusion, there will be no more women to make choices.

Perhaps that doesn’t matter. Perhaps what matters is their right to choose abortion even if it means there are no future generations of females.

For more on this subject see Rachael Lu’s piece “The United States Has A Femicide Problem”. What kind of insanity is this?

–          Darrow Miller

 

 

  
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EDUCATION for Freedom vs. TRAINING for Slavery

education leads to freedom

The human mind, bestowed by a Divine Creator, has developed remarkable technologies. How ironic that this rise of technical innovation could lead to the demise of the mind that invented the technologies in the first place!

We have written elsewhere about Technologia, an educational concept birthed by the Puritans and the Reformers. They envisioned the idea of a liberal education for everyone; it was liberal in that it was grounded in reason and revelation and it prepared people to live life as free men and women. A liberal education stands in contrast to the siloed, specialized and technical education of the modern era.

One of these was John Amos Comenius (1592 –1670). Comenius was a Czech teacher, educator, and writer. In his Didactica Magna – The Whole Art of Teaching, Comenius introduced the pansophic principle. Pansophic is an unfamiliar term more easily grasped if we break it up:

–          Pan = the union of parts into a (whole) group

–          Sophia = light, understanding, wisdom

–          Thus pansophia = an integration, or coming together, of all wisdom, no matter where it may be found, into a unifying framework

In short, the idea of pansophia is, in many ways, the opposite of the movement toward specialization education in the modern West. Comenius believed that everything must be taught to everyone! The reformers, and later their Puritan offspring, brought to the world the concepts of unified knowledge and universal education.

Early scientists understood that God revealed himself through his creation and his word. Truth is found at the intersection of Reason and Revelation. It was this Judeo-Christian frame of mind, and view of the world, that allowed for the development of science – thinking God’s thoughts after him, and technology – using science to solve the problems of natural evil in the world.

For more on this see Pearcey and Thaxton’s remarkable book, The Soul of Science.

John Milton, the Puritan poet, writes of the purpose of education:

The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love Him, to imitate Him, to be like Him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue …. I call therefore a complete and generous education that which fits a man to perform justly, skillfully, and magnanimously, all the offices, both private and public, of peace and war.

But the modern world has lost the concept of liberal education. We are less and less productive with our minds; we have less creative and analytical thinking than in the past. We are less interested also in the cultivation of the heart. We seldom ask moral questions, rarely seek the beneficial use of creation for the health of the larger community.

Today a technological transformation is sweeping the world. With that change, the demands for education are more pragmatic and less moral. We are less concerned with the underlying truth or ethics of an idea. Now we are concerned merely with technique. Now we only ask, Will it work?

In “Declaring Our Independence Through Education,” Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University, argues for a return to liberal education in order for students to be equipped with the minds and hearts necessary to live in the future.

Roth writes of the failure of modern education to prepare people for life after college:

 Traditionally, a college degree has been a marker of independence as graduates embrace the opportunity to stand upon their own two feet, but today those receiving degrees are often riddled with debt and with doubt. When these graduates wind up back in their parents’ basements, when they feel clueless about how to enter a challenging job market, when they have no idea how to convert their classroom experience into action in the world, they exemplify the failure of the American promise that education makes you free and self-reliant. We in higher education must renew that promise by demonstrating how pragmatic liberal education provides students with greater independence and capacity for productive work well beyond graduation day.

Roth goes on to reference the thoughts of two of America’s founding fathers, beginning with Thomas Jefferson.

It would be hard to find an American figure more devoted to a broad, liberal education than the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. He argued that the health of a republic depends on the education of its citizens because only an educated citizenry can push back against the tyranny of the powerful.

Roth then quotes from John Adams regarding the necessity of the larger community to take responsibility to see that all her people are educated: “The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people, and must be willing to bear the expenses of it.” But in our modern, technically oriented, specialists’ world, parents are demanding a different kind of education. Roth explains what parents are demanding in their children’s education. He also warns of the unintended-but-predictable consequences of meeting these demands.

In a quickly shifting economic landscape, it is understandable that some parents and pundits are calling for streamlined learning to train people quickly. But gearing education only to meeting current economic conditions is a ticket to conformity — and also to economic and cultural mediocrity. We need intellectual cross training of the whole person — not nano-degrees in commercial codes and tactics (no matter how digital) sure soon to become obsolete.

Unfortunately, demands for a more efficient, practical college education are likely to lead to the opposite: men and women who are trained for yesterday’s problems and yesterday’s jobs, men and women who have not reflected on their own lives in ways that allow them to tap into their capacities for innovation and for making meaning out of their experience. Under the guise of practicality we are really hearing calls for conformity, calls for conventional thinking that will impoverish our economic, cultural and personal lives.

Go here to read Roth’s thoughtful piece.

–          Darrow Miller

  
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Rape, Abortion, and the Miss USA Contest

abortion after a rape?What is the value of the life of a woman conceived in rape?

Does making a political statement justify a mother aborting her baby? A career opportunity? A pregnancy as a result of a rape?

In the last few months, national or global news has included stories about three pregnant women who made significant choices related to the life of another human being.

Josie Cunningham, 23, of Leeds, England is, according to her Facebook page, “an aspiring model looking to break into the world of glamour modeling.” Cunningham discovered she was pregnant, and at the same time had an opportunity to be part of the British reality TV show “Big Brother.” She announced to the public her plan to have an abortion. She did not want a baby to interfere with her career. “I’m finally on the verge of becoming famous and I’m not going to ruin it now … An abortion will further my career.” (See more here.) For Cunningham, her career was more important than the life of her baby.[1]

On July 1, Jenny Kutner, an assistant at Salon magazine made a unique announcement. It had two parts: “I’m pregnant. I just found out.” That was part 1. Part 2, “I’m having an abortion on Saturday at 10 a.m.”

Ms. Kutner said that most abortion stories are about the aftermath. She looked for stories about prologues to abortion, but couldn’t find one. So she wrote her own and published it the day before her abortion.

Mostly we only hear about a procedure in its aftermath. Right now, I do need to hear about the aftermath. I need to be reminded that on Saturday I will wake up pregnant and on Sunday I will not; I need to be reminded that my life will go on once I carry out this decision that is totally and completely right for me.

For Ms. Kutner, having a baby would be harder than having an abortion. “What I definitely, definitely don’t want, immeasurably more than I don’t want to have an abortion, is to be pregnant or have a child.” Making a political statement was more important than the life of her baby. Being unpregnant (in other words, most like a male) was certainly more important than the life of her baby. For Jenny’s story, go here.

The third woman, Theresa Gaugler, was a 19-year-old-college student on her way home from work in Pittsburgh. She was attacked, pulled behind a building and raped at knife point by a stranger. When the headlights of a passing car interrupted the attack, Ms. Gaugler fled from her attacker.

Theresa found out she was pregnant from the rape. She was faced with the same difficulties any woman with an unwanted pregnancy would face. Having a baby would interrupt their schooling, their career, their life. And for Ms. Gaugler, the child would be a reminder of the violence that would forever shape her life. Most people would have encouraged her to have an abortion. Even many pro-lifers, who make exception for rape and incest, would have supported Gaugler having an abortion.

Ms. Gaugler had a difficult choice: abort the baby or let the child of a violent rape live. She chose life. She carried her baby to term, planning to put it up for adoption. But after her baby was born, she made another difficult choice. With her parents and grandmother, she and her family chose to raise her daughter, Valerie Gatto.

As Valerie grew up, she was involved with her family in church and volunteer work helping people less fortunate than herself. After graduating from North Hills High School, she went on to the University of Pittsburgh and earned a degree in business administration, graduating with honors. Today she is working as a freelance marketing director while she pursues a career in acting.

Valerie is now 24 years old. She is a compassionate, talented, and beautiful young woman. The 5’5” blue-eyed brunette was recently crowned Miss Pennsylvania USA 2014.

Miss Gatto has not been afraid to tell the world about her mother’s horrendous ordeal, and the circumstances of her own conception. She says that her family understood that her life was more valuable than the event of her conception. She says of her family, “They never looked at it as something negative.” What kind of courage does this take?

Valerie says: “I believe God put me here for a reason: to inspire people, to encourage them, to give them hope that everything is possible and you can’t let your circumstances define your life.” Indeed the God who created the universe can turn things meant for evil into good.

Gatto’s website states: “With the title, she hopes to inspire people of all ages and to teach others how to defy the odds and achieve their dreams. She hopes to educate young women about protecting themselves and preventing sexual assault. As an advocate, she hopes to create a stronger society of women.”

Of the three mothers, two were self-absorbed, thinking more of their circumstances than they did of the life of their child. Another mother, whose circumstances were horrendous, chose the life of her child over the horror of her circumstances.

What would Josie and Jenny’s children have become? What might they have contributed to their communities and the world? We can weep for these mothers who have believed the lie of the culture of death. As a result, they have objectified their own lives. They have deprived their children of their lives. They have deprived the world of the contributions those children would have made.

– Darrow Miller

[1] Since her original announcement, perhaps because of the public outrage, decided to carry her pregnancy to term and sell tickets to the public to witness her delivery.

 

  
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The Necessary Constraints of True Liberty

Bob Osburn writes on libertyFreedom, like grace, doesn’t come cheaply. Nor is it maintained without appropriate limits.

Our friend, Bob Osburn, Executive Director at Wilberforce Academy, has written lucidly about this and we are happy to share his insights here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Liberty Asterisked

When asked what they like best about the USA, international students invariably answer: “Freedom!”   Over a delightful lunch recently, one of my international mentees volunteered that during his year here he felt free of his government’s prying eyes.

There is something delightfully open and inviting about the USA, especially when you are young and eager to explore, discover, and take risks.

But, what most international students don’t know is that the liberty they so love, till the past half century, came with constraints, limits, and conventions. It is emphatically not the wild, riotous, “Don’t tell me what to do!” version that emerged in the 60s.  In other words, when we talk about freedom and liberty, we need to add an asterisk (*).

Real freedom is not unbounded, but whether you believe that or not has everything to do with your anthropology, that is, your view of the human being.  Is liberty, as Supreme Court Justice Kennedy has announced in several of his court decisions, “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life?”   In one sense, the answer is “yes,” if we mean that the human conscience should not be coerced.  But, do we humans really have the power to define such monumental realities?  Kennedy seems to be suggesting that we have Promethean abilities to craft the Universe in our image, in our likeness.  Can we actually bend reality to fit our individual wills?  A lot of college students want to think so.

Go here to read the rest of Bob’s post.

 

  
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The Exorbitant Price of Our New Sexual Norms

The revival of pagan culture has restored pagan sexuality as the sexual norm. Damon Linker, Senior Correspondent at the Week magazine, recently wrote an article titled “What Religious Traditionalists Can Teach Us About Sex.” He lays the blame for the erosion in sexual norms on the sexual revolution of the 1960s and then the continuing revolution in the first decade of the 21st century.

For an ever-expanding number of people born since the mid-1960s, the sexual world is radically different. Sex before marriage is the norm. There is comparatively little stigma attached to promiscuity. Masturbation is almost universally a matter of moral indifference … birth control is available everywhere, and it can be used without stigma. Out-of-wedlock pregnancy is becoming increasingly common; and for women who become pregnant and don’t wish to carry the baby to term, the pregnancy can be terminated. Divorce, meanwhile, is common and considered perfectly acceptable to most people.

Most of this was true a generation ago. More recently, we’ve also witnessed the rapid-fire mainstreaming of homosexuality and the transformation of the institution of marriage to accommodate it. But that’s not all. Thanks to the internet, pornography has never been so freely available and easily accessible. Websites like Ashley Madison facilitate extramarital affairs. Others help people find various kinds of “arrangements,” from traditional prostitution to a more informal exchange of financial support for sexual services. Smart-phone apps put people (gay or straight) in touch with each other for no-strings-attached hook-ups. Then there’s the push to normalize polyamorous (“open”) relationships and marriages, a movement that seeks to remove the stigma from adultery and even positively affirm the goodness of infidelity.

The West has largely abandoned the notion of revelation from the Creator. With that jettison comes also the loss of a transcendent vision of human sexuality. We have redefined marriage and the family. All that is left is sensation.

“Do what feels good as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else” … except now we don’t care if it hurts someone as long as it feels good.

“Do what feels good as long as it is with consenting adults” … except it no longer needs to be consenting and it no longer needs to be adults.

“Do what feels good as long as it is with humans” … and now some are proposing we toss aside that constraint as well.

What Damon Linker is describing should not seem shocking. It’s merely the new norm in a universe with no objective metaphysical and moral reference points (read “Judeo-Christian worldview”).

And these behaviors have consequences. People are, after all, human beings. No matter what people say or how they act, they are not simply soulless, mechanical plumbing fixtures. As a friend of mine has noted, you can protect your body, but not your soul, with a condom.

University of St Thomas Philosophy Professor, Dr. Rachel Lu writes of some of the consequences coming from the sexual license described above:

Conservatives have issues with our sexually libertine culture. Abortion isn’t the only problem with it, just the worst one. The killing of hundreds of thousands of babies annually is a pretty massive “con” to sexual liberation. That’s hard to top (so to speak).

But there are plenty of other problems too. I could just rattle off a list: divorce, single motherhood, spreading HIV, pornography addiction, falling marriage rates, falling birth rates, campus “rape cultures,” teenaged girls who kill themselves after a porn star debut that they thought they could handle. Or, I could refer you here and here for more thoughtful reflections on how much we harm our young people by pretending sex never does. But the bottom line is that people nowadays are having a really hard time putting their love lives in order and, yes, our sexually libertine culture deserves some blame.

In the Modern and Post-Modern cultures it is the individual, and not the family, that is important. Little thought is given to family formation; there is an anti-natal and anti-maternal mind in these cultures. There is a “hostility to fertility.” Any more, the only sexual sin is to be pregnant!

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, a writer-entrepreneur living in Paris, concludes that for the modern, “the only way to lead a truly free and human life is to lead a contraceptive life … The uncritical way in which contraception is described as ‘health care” seems to imply that pregnancy is a disease [not a normal life’s process], to be avoided at all costs.”

But, in reality, what can be more unhealthy and unnatural than artificially manipulating a major organ system in order to reverse its normal function? It defies all reason to believe that we can just “turn off” the reproductive system without consequences. And, it seems that many of the same folks that are screaming against reproduction in humans are the ones who are the busiest at insisting (rightfully) for the protection of natural habitat and all natural functioning of lower animal life forms. For all of creation outside humanity they seem solicitous. Only for humans do they pursue their constant, relentless drive to manipulate. They would stifle a basic natural function of the body. They seem to think nothing of the consequences of drastically affecting the whole culture of family and propagation of our species.

Societies break down, de-civilize, when the sacredness of marriage and modesty is replaced with “good sex.” The family is the foundation of any society. Strong families contribute to both understanding our human identity and to strong societies. Broken families too often lead to a struggle over personal identity, a languishing of the soul and the breakdown of societies. This is a horrible price to pay for both individuals and societies.

– Darrow Miller

  
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The War on Poverty, Part 1: Poverty Won

The US War on Poverty turned 50 this year. What have we learned?

As a young man in college, I was confronted with poverty during a six-week stay at an orphanage in Mexico City. This experience set the course of my life. It comprised a call to work to alleviate poverty in the “developing” world. Almost 50 years later my passion has not abated. In those years, I have discovered that some things create the conditions for people to escape poverty. Other things perpetuate or even exacerbate poverty. The latter include the “War on Poverty” in the US. In fact, the War on Poverty hasn’t merely failed; it has actually increased poverty.

When a government creates 126 agencies and spends $15 trillion (1.5 thousand billion dollars … some say $21.5 trillion) over a 50-year period fighting poverty, what outcome might we expect? Surely such an unsparing effort should eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, poverty in a nation!

Poverty levels haven’t changed since the War on Poverty started in 1964

But poverty levels are about the same as they were when President Lyndon Johnson declared his famous War on Poverty in 1964. The facts are undeniable, yet whole segments of the establishment leadership witness today’s continued poverty and conclude we need to spend more money.

President Obama, for example, wants to add $56 billion to the current $1 trillion in federal spending to help the poor. Jamelle Bouie, a staff writer for Slate, wrote, “By and large, the easiest solution is to mail larger checks to more people.” Bouie was responding to a proposal from Congressman Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget committee, to help poor families develop life skills to earn their way out of poverty.

Obviously, many people assume that money solves the problem of poverty. It does not. $15 trillion has not solved poverty because the root of the problem is not the lack of money.

On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson used his State of the Union address to announce an audacious government undertaking: to end poverty in the USA. Johnson stated, “This administration today, here and now declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” His stated goal was, “…not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.”

Johnson’s goal was noble indeed. He did not want to simply “relieve the symptom of poverty.” He did not want to put a band-aid on the problem. He wanted to attack the root of the problem, to “cure” poverty, and beyond that to assure that the conditions that created poverty would be destroyed. He wanted “to prevent it” from coming back.

Has the war on poverty succeeded … or failed?

Has the war on poverty been a success or failure? What do we have to show for the trillions of dollars and dozens of federal programs? Setting aside the goal of solving the problem at its root, have we even dealt with the symptoms of poverty?

Robert Rector, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and one of the nation’s leading experts on poverty issues, has written:

Fifty years later, we’re losing that war. Fifteen percent of Americans still live in poverty, according to the official census poverty report for 2012, unchanged since the mid-1960s. Liberals argue that we aren’t spending enough money on poverty-fighting programs, but that’s not the problem. In reality, we’re losing the war on poverty because we have forgotten the original goal, as LBJ stated it half a century ago: “to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities.”

The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care and targeted social services to poor and low-income Americans. . . . If converted to cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S.

In terms of Johnson’s goal of moving people towards self-sufficiency, away from dependency on government largesse, the war on poverty has been a failure. As the graph below shows,1 self-sufficiency has declined as government funding has increased.

poverty rate in America

 

The graph pictures the unintended consequences in the war on poverty.

The intended outcomes are obvious: the more money spent to eliminate poverty the less poverty there would be. The actual result was the opposite: money spent and the growth of poverty track together. Those who have lost their dignity, become enslaved and dependent on the government are far more than those who have become free, independent producers of wealth.

The more money spent by the government on programs to help the poor, the more people have become dependent on government programs. The unintended consequences of the implementation of the war on poverty has left more families enslaved and fewer families self-sufficient and free.

Michael Tanner, a senior research fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, has written extensively on poverty. In the abstract for his 2012 research paper, The American Welfare State: How We Spend Nearly $1 Trillion a Year Fighting Poverty — and Fail, Tanner writes:

News that the poverty rate has risen to 15.1 percent of Americans, the highest level in nearly a decade, has set off a predictable round of calls for increased government spending on social welfare programs. Yet this year the federal government will spend more than $668 billion on at least 126 different programs to fight poverty. And that does not even begin to count welfare spending by state and local governments, which adds $284 billion to that figure. In total, the United States spends nearly $1 trillion every year to fight poverty. That amounts to $20,610 for every poor person in America, or $61,830 per poor family of three.

Welfare spending increased significantly under President George W. Bush and has exploded under President Barack Obama. In fact, since President Obama took office, federal welfare spending has increased by 41 percent, more than $193 billion per year. Despite this government largess, more than 46 million Americans continue to live in poverty. Despite nearly $15 trillion in total welfare spending since Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in 1964, the poverty rate is perilously close to where we began more than 40 years ago. 

This analysis is devastating.

  • Federal, state and local spending on welfare programs averages a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) a year.
  • For every poor person the government spends $20,610 a year.
  • The amount of money spent in government “means-tested” programs is five times the amount needed to eliminate poverty in the US.
  • The outcome: 15% of Americans live in poverty, roughly the same percentage as before all that money was spent.

What is wrong with this picture? Tanner continues:

Clearly we are doing something wrong. Throwing money at the problem has neither reduced poverty nor made the poor self-sufficient. It is time to reevaluate our approach to fighting poverty. We should focus less on making poverty more comfortable and more on creating the prosperity that will get people out of poverty.

How do we define success in this matter? Some measure success by the amount of money spent. By this reckoning, surely the United States has been wildly successful. Perhaps no country in history has spent more on helping its poor citizens.

But such a definition of success is unhelpful. As Tanner points out, “Shouldn’t we judge the success of our efforts to end poverty not by how much charity we provide to the poor but by how few people need such charity?”

Yes. Success means fewer people on welfare, more people thriving in their God-given potential. By this metric, the war on poverty has been a dismal failure. Poverty has won in America.

– Darrow Miller

1http://dailysignal.com/2014/07/28/index-culture-opportunity

 

 

 

  
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Women Rebelling Against the Masculinization of Women

women are pushing back against feminism

In the world of women, something is stirring. Women are pushing back against modern feminism. Young women are engaging through social media to declare that they have no interest in the feminist movement. Many are using Tumblr.com (“a microblogging platform and social networking website”) to post pictures of themselves with handwritten signs expressing their anti-feminism rationale.

Some messages are unsophisticated: “I do not need feminism because my boyfriend treats me right.” Others address national/global issues: “Modern feminism in Western states looks pathetic when compared to misogynistic states, especially the Arab world. Women should not be fighting for superiority in the Western world; they should be fighting for equality where it is absent.”

For photos and messages see Women Against Feminism and Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right.

Why might any woman be against feminism?

Before we attempt to answer, it is important to distinguish three waves of feminism. The postmodern feminism now making inroads in the 21st century is the third wave. The well-established modern feminism of the second half of the 20th century is the second. (I’ll get to the first wave shortly.)

Modern feminism was led by four women: Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique (1963); Germaine Greer, an academic and author of The Female Eunuch (1970); Patricia Ireland, President of the National Organization of Women; and Gloria Steinem, one of the founders of the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s.

This movement based its understanding of feminism on secular humanism (read atheism), a meta-narrative of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Modern feminists centered life on self rather than others. Ironically, they promoted—subconsciously, no doubt—a male value system. They actually stood against a value system that supported the feminine and the female. Males were valued in their roles; females were not. To be equal to a man a woman must become like a man. Such thinking was evidenced in many ways (remember the 1997 action film, G.I. Jane?), but the ultimate marker was abortion. Why? Because, more than anything else, sex without consequences made females like males. Thus modern feminists were, and are, avidly pro-abortion.

Increasingly, the term “feminism” evokes the postmodern iteration of the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. This is third-wave feminism. It was driven by Michel Foucault, the French philosopher and social critic who wrote extensively on sexuality (including “queer theory”). Foucault promoted the idea that one’s sexuality and gender identity is a personal construct. He could be called the father of androgyny and established the foundations for postmodern sexuality.

If third-wave feminism prevails, one shudders to contemplate the outcome

Postmodern feminists deny any transcendent sexuality, obliterating even the biological reality of human sexual distinctive – male and female. Sexuality is a personal construct. This plays out in practical ways as the redefining of marriage, the gender-neutral toilet and laws allowing children to determine their sexual identity when they enter school.

In some jurisdictions, birth certificates are dropping “mother” and “father” in favor of “parent A” and “parent B.” Loosed from divine revelation and biological reality—both of which insist we are male and female—postmoderns construct their own identity out of fantasy. To elude the limitations of biology, Facebook has identified 51 separate gender options.

If third-wave feminism prevails, one shudders to contemplate the outcome. But, as mentioned at the beginning, something is stirring.

The truth is, many women are neither modern nor postmodern in their thinking. Perhaps a majority value female and feminine over the culture’s abandonment of the wonder and beauty of womanhood. Many women long to be valued in both their unique transcendence and sexuality.

Christian apologist, novelist, academic, and medievalist C. S. Lewis has written of the relationship between transcendent nature and human sexuality:

Gender is a reality and a more fundamental reality than sex. Sex is, in fact, merely the adoption to organic life of a fundamental polarity which divides all created beings … . The male and female of organic creatures are rather faint and blurred reflections of masculine and feminine ….

Psychologist Larry Crabb concurs with Lewis: “… a biblical view of masculinity and femininity reveals that gender isn’t moldable and plastic, but something hard-wired into each of us—something that goes beyond our bodies to our very souls.”

The sexual confusion of modern and postmodern culture is evidence that we have forgotten what the Bible teaches, and science recognizes: the form and function of living things reveal the purpose for which they were made.

They have revived first-wave feminism

Sexual confusion comes from separating creation from Creator, design from Designer. Thankfully, many women have not succumbed to sexual confusion. They have understood their design for the beautiful, vital, and fulfilling purpose of bearing and nurturing children. They want to shape the next generation of leaders in the society. These women celebrate feminine and female, marriage and motherhood.

Perhaps many of the “women against feminism” mentioned above are writing from this understanding. They consciously or intuitively understand their design, long to fulfill it, and have chosen to push back against a feminist culture that seeks to deny them a place in society.

In that sense, they are the true feminists. They have revived first-wave feminism, the domain of maternal feminists.

Yes, before postmodern feminists, before modern feminists, there were  first-wave feminists – maternal feminists. These pioneers were led by women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the Grimke sisters: Sarah and Angelina.

Maternal feminists lived in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They functioned from a biblical worldview. Rather than fixating on their own narrow self-interests, they attended to the needs of others, especially their children and families, but also the larger community. First-wave feminists valued women (and men) in both their humanity and glorious function. They fought against the male value system and power structure rather than capitulating to it and joining it as second-wave feminists did.

One of the champions of maternal feminism was the American poet, hymn writer, and women’s activist Lydia Sigourney. In her popular book, Letters to Young Ladies, she writes of the sheer importance of the reign of women and mothers over their households:

For as surely as the safety and prosperity of a nation depend on the virtue of its people, they, who reign in the retreats where man turns for his comfort, who have power over the machinery which stamps on the infant mind its character of good or evil, are responsible, to a fearful extent, for that safety and prosperity.[1]

As the first champions of feminism, maternal feminists recognized that the maternal reign over a healthy home was fundamental to a healthy and flourishing society. Women were made for a purpose: to nurture, to protect, to show compassion. These virtues, and the particular feminine leadership traits they create in the women who practice them, are absolute necessities for flourishing families, communities, and nations. Where these virtues are lacking or not appreciated in a society, women suffer. Men suffer. Families and nations suffer. (For  more on this subject see my book Nurturing Nations. Go here for reviews.)

Perhaps this explains the movement of women against feminism.

–          Darrow Miller

 

[1] Sigourney pg. 77

 

 

 

  
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Is the Culture War All About Sex?

culture war all about sex

“The culture war isn’t really about culture, and it never has been. It’s about sex.”

That’s Damon Linker’s provocative claim in his article, “What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex.”

Linker’s statement caught my attention. My initial reaction was Yes! But on thinking further I thought No! And finally I decided, Yes and No!

No, the culture war is not about sex. It is about conflicting belief systems that lead to what Samuel P. Huntington called the “clash of civilizations.” And, of course, belief systems define all of life, including our sexuality. In the West today the clash is between Judeo-Christianity and post-Christian culture.

On the other hand, yes, the culture war is about sex. The heat in the culture war is generated by issues of sex. This war is not merely a clash of civilizations; it is a clash of behaviors that, at their most basic level, are about sex. Differing belief systems will see the nature and role of sexuality in radically different and mostly incompatible ways. This distinction could be simply described as a “hook-up” culture vs. a culture of glorious intimacy.

I have repeatedly said that no one embraces atheism for metaphysical reasons: they don’t decide in some impassive, philosophical fashion to deny God’s existence. God has clearly revealed himself in what he has made. The universe is so precise that the slightest variance in any number of areas would mean that life could not exist. The cosmology of the universe is evidence enough of the existence of the Creator. There are no grounds for people to reject God from lack of evidence. People are atheists because of sex! They want to be able to engage in sex as if they were merely animals, without moral constraint.

The culture war is ultimately driven by sacred belief systems—worldviews. Today, three major worldviews compete for adherents: Judeo-Christian Theism, Pagan Humanism and Pagan Animism. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:18-24,

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made [Judeo-Christian Theism], so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being [Pagan Humanism] and birds and animals and reptiles [Pagan Animism].

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

Note the significant behavioral consequence for suppressing the truth. The worship of man (Modernism) and the worship of nature (Neo-Paganism) are reflected in our sexuality. Judeo-Christian theism leads to a culture of life the other two lead to a culture of death. One presents a transcendent beauty of sexuality. The other leads to dehumanized and debased sexuality—a hook-up culture and date rape—and millions of aborted children.

Professor Harvey Mansfield of Harvard University published a cogent and well-written piece, “Feminism and Its Discontents: ‘Rape Culture’ at Harvard.” Mansfield describes the competing concepts of sexuality in terms of “modesty” vs. “good sex.”

Modesty is related to one’s character and is derived from the Judeo-Christian framework where human beings are imago Dei and our sexual identity of male and female is derived from the transcendent masculine and feminine. Our understanding of sexuality in the physical realm flows from the larger and splendid vision of love, family formation, and cultural creation.

Believe or not, the virtue of modesty, not much in vogue these days, was at one time the hallmark of feminists! Because feminism, in its first iteration, meant something very different from what it means today.

A first-wave feminist, Lydia Sigourney wrote much on modesty. She saw, as we seldom see today, the transcendent nature of feminine, and the need to cultivate that nature. She understood the importance of inward adornment and not merely outward adornment. She writes:

She who contemplates her own image too constantly, will be less disposed for higher subjects of thought. Neatness, comfort, and a becoming costume, are objects worthy of attention. But a profusion of ornament, is neither necessary nor graceful to the young. There is a beauty in their own fair season of life, and in the sweet and happy temperament which ought to accompany it, that strikes more strongly on the heart, than “gold or pearls, or costly array.” A showy style of dress, is peculiarly inappropriate to those who are pursuing their education. It indicates that something besides study, has taken possession of the heart.[1]

Note that modesty is an internal character, a virtue based on transcendent nature. Modesty lived out manifests itself in external fashion and behavior. Sigourney contrasts the virtue of modesty with mere external adornment. The former has gravitas, and reveals character and nature. The latter is insubstantial, revealing a very different nature.

In previous generations women were expected to be modest. They were to protect themselves and their lovely sex by their modest behavior. Men were to respect women and look out for their interests. Men were expected to be gentlemen. Do not the words modesty and gentlemanliness sound strange to the ears of our generation?

Today, too many males are bereft of these values and disciplines. They function as brutes, more like animals than like gentlemen. Some women are known as “bad girls” because they are available and easy. Women are too often seen as objects to be conquered and men as the conquerors.

Mansfield’s term “good sex” is derived from one of the pagan cultures in which there is no transcendence; human beings are merely animals who do what feels good. “Good sex” has nothing to do with character and everything to do with techniques. It has nothing to do with transcendent vision and everything to do with what C.S. Lewis called “four legs in a bed.” It has nothing to do with a whole life, family, and community; it has everything to do with narcissism and instant gratification. It has little to do with living for others and everything to do with living for self. It has nothing to do with monogamous fidelity and everything to do with pleasure by all means and at all cost.

It was the Western adaptation of the secular worldview that birthed radical feminism and changed sexuality from modesty to “good sex.” In the secular worldview, there is no transcendence and thus no transcendent nature. Men and women are equal and therefore the same. Sex is 24/7 without consequences. Instead of men being called to a higher standard of virtue, restraint, and gentlemanliness, women were enticed to the lower, brutish standard of unprincipled men.

We have entered the world of the hook-up culture. Men and women often “dress to kill,” get raging drunk, hook-up and walk away. The chorus from The Bloodhound Gang’s song, the “Bad Touch,” says it all:

You and me baby we ain’t nothin’ but mammals

So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel

Do it again now

You and me baby we ain’t nothin’ but mammals

So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel

Gettin’ horny now[2]

The modern world sees the loss of sexual restraint as progress; it is, in fact, regression.

It was Judeo-Christianity that broke the pack of pagan culture and the debased sexuality derived from that culture.

The Jews were, to use Dennis Prager’s term, sexual deviants: they deviated from the anarchy of pagan sexuality and began to restore the Creation Order. God’s view of human sexuality is high and beautiful. The Song of Songs in the Hebrew Old Testament is one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry about sexuality ever written, and has a  civilizing effect on society.

After the death and resurrection of Christ, the triumph of Christianity over the pagan Roman culture brought a higher vision and standard of sexuality. The sacredness of marriage and sexuality led to a growing respect for women, civilizing of the human, and ultimately of whole societies. Think of the uncivilized treatment throughout the world today: sex trafficking, female infanticide, gendercide, female genital mutilation, honor killing, etc.

Now we have the return of pagan culture. First, modernism brought us a pagan humanism (the worship of man) and now more recently we see post-modernism’s pagan animism (the worship of nature). The effect of this two-phase pagan revival has been the erosion of sexuality to its current low point: date rape and casual hook-ups.

As I have argued elsewhere, the goal of the second-wave feminists of the latter half of the 20th century was to be like men. The way to be most like a man is to be un-pregnant. The ideal: to be available for sex 24/7 and simply walk away. This has led to the contraception culture we know today. Third-wave feminism, derived from post-modern culture, sees male and female as social constructs. There is no fixed identity, even in our biological sexuality. Thus as we enter the 21st century, all bets are off as to the survivability of the family and civilization as we have known it since the beginning of human history.

– Darrow Miller

 

[1] Sigourney pg. 104

[2] http://artists.letssingit.com/bloodhound-gang-lyrics-the-bad-touch-d88dkkm#ixzz3AaNl7pCv

 

 

  
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