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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How To 'Outreach' To Minorities

Bob Parks: How To 'Outreach' To Minorities: Treat Them Like Adults -- "Conservatives are always complaining about identity politics. Yet, we hear all this talk about how they need to reach out to blacks and Latinos, just like the liberals do - because, if they don't, they're doomed. Maybe, the reason conservatives don't have a viable outreach strategy is that they really shouldn't have one. ..."

Of course, there is a difference between 'conservatives' and 'Republicans', and the people who run the GOP tend not to be, and certainly those who are always trying to make Republicans into Mini-Me Democrats are not, conservatives.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

What’s in a Name? A Look at Educational Plate Tectonics

John D. Ferrer (The Best Schools): What’s in a Name? A Look at Educational Plate Tectonics

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Why 'libertarians' will always side with 'liberals'

Willian A Jacobson (Legal Insurrection): Coulter on Stossel shows foolishness of Fordham’s cancellation -- "The students in the audience were libertarian, sharing many of the social values of modern liberals without the statist oppressiveness."

This is why, when push comes to shove, the "libertarians" will always side with the "liberals". This is why "libertarianism" will always collapse into (what we in the US currently call) "liberalism" -- "libertarianism" *just is* "liberalism" (*), but "liberalism" cannot be successfully promulgated in a society absent statism (**). And statism is the enemy of liberty.

(*) and "liberalism" *just is* inconsistent leftism

(**) or, as I believe it is more accurately put, "but "liberalism" cannot be successfully promulgated against a society absent statism"

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Two-for-one Sale!

I'd read about this some time ago, but had decided at the time to not write about it.

Michael Egnor (quoting Wesley Smith): Belgium offers a two-for-one sale on lethal injection... -- "But, I must say, after fighting against this issue for twenty years, I am not surprised. This is the simple logic of euthanasia consciousness. Once killing is seen as an answer to human suffering, the meaning of the term becomes very elastic and the killable caste, like the universe, never stops expanding."

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Monday, February 18, 2013

'Gun control' justifies 'gay control'

The Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse: The Post in Which I Piss Off EVERYBODY. -- Below is the part Kathy Shaidle quoted, which piqued my interest in reading the whole post, and upon which I based the title of my own reference to it: "
"Given Sandy Hook, you have to make reasonable compromises."

"We just want licensing and safe storage requirements so the wrong people don't get guns."

"Publicizing the information lets people make informed choices about who they live near."

Accepted. In exchange, gay men should make reasonable compromises over Penn State. They will simply have to accept being registered and kept a safe distance from children. This isn't a violation of their rights. It's just common sense. The public has a right to know.
Do note: this guy is actually a "liberal" who just happens to be an evil, hateful, wicked "gun nut".

After reading Kathy Shaidle's excerpt of 'The Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse's' post, I clicked the link to read it all. Just at that moment, my "liberal" co-worker stood up to go to lunch. She saw what was on my screen and semi-freaked out: "What are you *reading*?!"

So, I read to her the excerpt and explained its logic. One could see the initial panic in her eyes when she realized that the "logic" she approves as the rationale for "gun control" can also be used to justify "gay control".

But, it didn't take her long to "refute" it -- "By that logic, since every adult is capable of sexually molesting children, then every adult shoould be registered as a sex-offender and as a potential danger to children. That's comparing apples to grapes!" She had used more verbiage, but that's the gist of it.

But, of course, that is the whole point of the excerpt -- the "logic" by which "liberals" and other statists are using Sandy Hook as an excuse to justify their ultimate goal of gun confiscation cannot stand up to real-life when one replaces the terms.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

A valiant attempt at the impossible

In a recent thread over at Victor Reppert's blog, 'Martin' (and to a lesser extent, 'ingx24') is making a valiant attempt at doing the impossible: reasoning with a typical internet atheist.

The (ahem) argument concerns the (false-and-foolish) insistence of 'im-skeptical' that the human brain *is* the human mind; that is, that 'mind' is fully explicable by matter --- or, to put it more abstractly, that philosophical materialism, or 'naturalism', accurately and fully explains, without remainder, all of reality.

'Martin' is arguing the position (which happens to be the truth of the matter) that 'mind' is not, and in principle cannot ever be, explained by 'naturalism'; that is, that the reality of minds is contrary to the logical entailments of philosophical materialism, and that ergo, 'naturalism' does not, and cannot ever, accurately and fully explain, without remainder, all of reality.

Eventually, 'Martin' presents an argument against naturalism/materialism with respect to minds very similar to my reductio ad absurdum *of* naturalism/materialism, my "you are the proof that God is" argument.

Here is an "executive summary" of the valiant attempt --
im-skeptical: How does consciousness fit into nature? More easily than dualism. The concept of a soul or some kind of external being adds absolutely nothing to explaining our subjective experience. The fact is, we have subjective experience, and we are products of nature. I think if you could see the conscious experience different animals, you would see a whole range of levels of consciousness from pure automaton to sentience to human consciousness. My question for you is, at what point in this continuum does it become necessary to introduce the external soul, and what is accomplished by it?

Martin: The arguments for dualism are deductive, so saying that they have no explanatory power does nothing, absolutely nothing, to refute them.

For example, the problem here is that consciousness is subjective, or private, whereas matter is public and observable by anyone (in principle). The gulf between the two is, perhaps, unbridgeable. It isn't something being "postulated" to explain any fact; rather, it is a datum itself in need of explanation.

I pretend to be skeptical: Still no answer to my question.

Martin: I already answered that implicitly: the "soul" is not a hypothesis, among others, to explain a set of facts. Rather, it is directly deduced from the impossibility of matter giving rise to it. OR... one of the premises fails in the dualist's arguments. But criticizing it for not being able to explain anything does not refute any of the premises, and so is a misplaced objection.

I pretend to be reasoning: In my statement, I did not claim to refute the existence of a soul. I did say that it really doesn't help to explain why we have consciousness. If you think it does, I would like to understand that. It's like saying I can't see something with my eyes unless I have someone standing behind me to do the seeing for me. Well, he might be able to see, but how does that make ME see? You might say the one standing behind me is really ME, but I can't see what it explains. I am myself. When my brain stops functioning, my conscious experience stops, too. There's no evidence of any sort that tells me otherwise. Having a ghost just complicates the picture unnecessarily.

I pretend to be reasoning: In my statement, I did not claim to refute the existence of a soul. I did say that it really doesn't help to explain why we have consciousness. If you think it does, I would like to understand that.

Martin: I think I've said, by my count three times now, that the soul is not an explanatory posit at all. So even if it fails to explain something, that is not a mark against it because that's not something it's trying to do. Rather, it's an existence claim that is itself a part of the world in need of explanation.

I pretend to be reasoning: When my brain stops functioning, my conscious experience stops, too. There's no evidence of any sort that tells me otherwise. Having a ghost just complicates the picture unnecessarily.

Martin: I've outlined several, and they are generally in this form:

1. All minds have feature X
2. No matter has feature X
3. Therefore, no minds are matter

If you wish to deny the conclusion, then that entails denying one of the premises. Either minds do not have feature X, or matter does have feature X or can produce feature X. If you cannot refute either premise, then you have no rational basis for denying the conclusion.

Halus interruptus: Martin,
im-skeptical already agrees with you that we are conscious beings. And he also said that he was not trying to refute the existence of a soul. He was pointing out that he sees no reason for accepting that claim of existence.

If you wish to persuade others that the soul actually exists, then you need to provide evidence for it. For example, if it could be shown that the soul explains how humans and animals are conscious that would be a good reason for accepting its existence.

I don't know what 'dictionary' means: I do refute the premise that no matter has feature X. My brain is a material thing. My mind is a product of the brain. You have no rational basis for claiming that premise is true, unless you can show that it is true. (Yes, I've heard the arguments. They all simply assume that a mind can't be produced by material causes, but they never demonstrate the truth of that claim.)
Lest my point in referring to 'im-skeptical' as "I don't know what 'dictionary' means" be misunderstood or missed, I will interrupt here to explain.

Notice that 'im-skeptical' says "I do refute the premise that no matter has feature X." But, he did noting of the sort: he refuted nothing. What he did is assert (for the umpteenth time) the very point under dispute -- and simultaneously hand-wave away any and all arguments that show his assertion to be false. As we shall see, he will do the same concerning the argument 'Martin' is presenting.

For whatever reason, 'Martin' let this instance of misuse of the term 'refute' go. He'll later take 'im-skeptical' to task for incorrectly labling a statement "an assumption".

You see, when 'im-skeptical' (or most any 'atheist') "reasons" as an atheist, his mere assertion of the denial of what you have said in dispue of his God-denial becomes the "refutation" of it; his rebranding of your conclusion to an "assumption" makes it so, and so makes you guilty of begging the question. That is, even should you get him (or most any other 'atheist') to agree to a set of premises, and then soundly and validly reason from those premises to a conclusion directly contrary to his God-denial or logical entailments of it, he will simply decree that your conclusion is actually an assumption of your argument and that you were begging the question all along, and that therefore his God-denial (or its entailments) stands unchallenged and undefeated.

This is an example of *how* atheists/materialists, nearly to a man, "reason". This is an illustration of *why* is it logically impossible to actually reason with most of them; for they are not engaged in reasoning in the first place. It is not the case that they are simply and honestly mistaken about the nature of reality. It is not the case that they had arrived at their 'atheism' via reason, with a simple mistake made along the way, such that one can reason them out of the mistake. It is not the case that if only one is patient enough and "kind" enough, one can lead them to see and correct the error(s) in their thinking about the fundamental nature of reality.

Rather, it is that they will not reason correctly when sound reason would lead them where they will not go.

Yet, at the same time, so as not to leave a false impression, it is not *only* 'atheists' who "reason" in this manner of setting aside sound reasoning, and retreating into un-reason and anti-logic, when reason disputes the beliefs and/or assertions a person desires to believe are beyond dispute -- most "liberals" will do it, all outright leftists do it, all 'post-modernists' do it, all DarwinDefenders do it. Hell! even some Christians do it: for instance, many (most?) Calvinists do it; many (most?) Catholics do it with regard to the Reformation, especially regarding the 'solas'; and among the regulars at Victor Reppert's blog, 'BenYachov' does it much of the time, and 'B.Prokop' does it most of the time (but then, he's actually a leftist, rather than a Christian).

Also, consider the post by 'Hal' (whom I referred to as "Halus Interruptus"):
"im-skeptical already agrees with you that we are conscious beings. And he also said that he was not trying to refute the existence of a soul. He was pointing out that he sees no reason for accepting that claim of existence."

Sure, at one point, 'im-skeptical' did indeed say, "In my statement, I did not claim to refute the existence of a soul. I did say that it really doesn't help to explain why we have consciousness." And, in point of fact, he never does even attempt to refute the reality of the human "soul". Nevertheless, and this is the point upon which 'Hal' intends to obfuscate, 'im-skeptical' asserts the denial of the reality of the human "soul" ... and asserts that he himself has burden of proof for that denial.

"If you wish to persuade others that the soul actually exists, then you need to provide evidence for it."

'Hal' likewise asserts the denial of the reality of the human "soul". And, as 'im-skeptical' does, he asserts that the burden of proof for a reality that we all directly experience lies upon the one who assents that this experience is real, rather than upon himself who denies it.

"For example, if it could be shown that the soul explains how humans and animals are conscious that would be a good reason for accepting its existence."

And then, 'Hal' demands that 'Martin' "prove" this reality that we all directly experience by means of a category-error ... which category-error 'Martin' has already repeatedly explained is beside the point.

This is *how* 'atheists' (and "liberals" and leftists and DarwinDefenders) "reason" and "argue". This is *why* a rational man cannot reason with them.

This is *why* I so frequently assert that a particular 'atheist' (or "liberal" or leftist or Darwinist) is intellectually dishonest: because most of them are. And once a particular one has shown himself to be intellectually dishonest, it is unwise, and frequently immoral, to go on pretending that he isn't.

Continuing with the (ahem) argument:
Martin: Which raises yet another argument for dualism:

1. No matter has any meaning unless that meaning is assigned by a mind (for example, the squiggles "dog" means "dog" only because we assign that meaning to those squiggles; without us minds around doing that, the squiggles don't mean anything at all)
2. All thoughts have meaning. Your thoughts right now are no doubt "how can I refute this argument?". That's the meaning your current thoughts probably have.
3. Therefore, either A) no thoughts are matter, or B) thoughts have meaning only because they are assigned that meaning by a mind.

If you choose A, you are a dualist. If you choose B, then you go to infinite regress because you are trying to explain a mind in relation to a mind, and thus not explaining it at all.

Martin: Do electrons have meaning apart from someone interpreting them to have meaning? Do the squiggles on this screen mean anything apart from the English language and its users? I don't know any materialist who would deny that words, arrows, stop signs, etc only have their meaning because us humans assign meaning to them.

I cannot allow myself to understand the point: You are correct, and that's not the issue at hand. It is: Can my material mind assign meaning, or is it only your immaterial soul that can do it?

Martin: You are jumping the gun. The only issue in premise one is that no matter has any meaning apart from humans interpreting it that way. A stop sign means stop only because us humans have decided it means that. In virtue of just its physical properties, independent of human interests and language, it doesn't mean stop or anything else. And you appear to agree. So that's premise one. Matter is meaningless.

And the second premise is that thoughts have meaning. From which [two premises] it follows that no thoughts are matter.

I am allowed to assert just anything at all: Not unless you assume that thoughts are not the product of a purely material brain, but of the soul. A bad assumption if you are at all interested in looking at the empirical evidence.

Martin: I don't think you understand how logic works. It isn't an assumption, its an argument. If you affirm that matter has no meaning, and that thoughts do have meaning, then it follows that thoughts are not matter. To deny this conclusion entails denying that either thoughts have meaning, or that matter is meaningless.

Martin: Almost everything we say you somehow manage to not understand. I don't whose fault this is.

What ingx24 is saying is that if, for example, someone believes they are Jesus Christ, while they can obviously be mistaken about that. But what they cannot be mistaken about is the fact they believe they are Jesus Christ.

If you see a ghost, you can be mistaken about seeing a ghost but you cannot be mistaken about the fact that you think you see a ghost.

OK, now I will back up and point the reader to a couple of posts by 'im-skeptical' that got the above (ahem) argument going:
I'm intellectually dishonest, but don't you dare say that I am: Perhaps it's a little late to comment on the OP, but seriously? Theists are shocked that an atheist would be less than completely deferential to them? My earlier comment about the pot calling the kettle black applies here as well.

people rage against God (note that the fury is directed at the Father and the Son) because they think He restricts them and interferes with what they want to do. Thus, God is viewed as oppressive and is rejected as an authority and ruler over their lives."

Right. Atheists who don't believe that God exists, feel oppressed by him. Schumacher understands us better than we understand ourselves. Maybe it's this kind of condescending attitude that atheists find frustrating.

I'm a liar, but don't you dare say that I am: After listening to the first round, I note that Craig's opening remarks included jewels like:
- Atheists think it's OK to walk into a school and start killing children.
- Atheists have a hihilistic worldview.

This is the kind of crap we hear every day.
As to the second post quoted here -- I and others pointed out in the thread the "misunderstanding" enshrined in 'im-skeptical's false assertion about what Craig said. The reader is free to peruse that thread and find those slap-downs of this set of lies -- which lies, by the way, are very commonly asserted by 'atheists' whenever a Jew or Christian makes the logical point that morality cannot even exist if atheism were the truth about the nature of reality. As Victor Reppert might say, this "misunderstanding" is a "common theme of atheists".

As to the first whining post quoted here -- reason alone demonstrates to us that atheism is false, that reality is not like that. This has been known in the Western Tradition for a good 2500 years, that is, for a full 1000 years before the Hebraic Special Revelation became the cornerstone and central organizing principle for all of Western Civilization. While reason alone cannot give us Christianity, it can give us something very like Judaism.

For a good 2500 years in the West, reason alone has demonstrated to us all that atheism is false: And *still* there are those among us who deny the reality of God and of morality -- and who wage literal, death-dealing war upon the rest of us whenever they get their hands upon the levers of State power.

These God-deniers in our midst are not simply mistaken in their denial. They do not deny the reality of God because they are too stupid to do otherwise. The only other logically available category of general explanation for why they continue to deny the clear deliverance of reason is that they are intellectually dishonest ... they deny what reason demands we acknowledge because they will not assent to it.

What? Do you think Saint Paul was just blowing smoke out his ass when he "diagnosed" God-deniers 2000 years ago?

There are no other options aside from these three ... *therefore* 1) having established that "God is" is true; 2) having established that 'atheists' are mentally capable of understanding the logic which established that "God is" is true; 3) having established that 'atheists' cannot prove it false (and make no rational effort to do so); 4) having established that 'atheists' continue to thumb their noses at the clear deliverance of reason, it becomes utterly fitting to conclude that they are intellectually dishonest, that their position never was something they reasoned themselves to (and thus that they cannot be reasoned out of it by rational argument), and then to try to grub around in their psyches so as to see if we can understand what is really going on with them.

Edit (2013/02/18):
Will you look at that! Right on cue, almost as though he were a mindless puppet, 'im-skeptical' explicitly accuses 'Martin' of begging the question:
grodrigues: ...I asked you what "religious dogma" were you referring to, and what empirical evidence do you have in mind, since ingx24's argument, if it works like he says he does, was primarily directed at naturalists like yourself. In other words, I am asking for once to actually be intellectually honest and substantiate your claims.

I will not reason, but don't you dare say that I won't: Feel free to go on ignoring what I said. You asked, I answered. It's like talking to a pile of bricks.

But I have been asking for substantiation to the claim that rational thought can't come from material things like the human brain, and all I get is circular arguments with no substantiation for the claim. So why don't you object to real intellectual dishonesty? Oh, I know...

Martin: I provided an argument above, and you not shown which premise is false. I however did provide justification for each premise.
Isn't it way too amusing and ironic that "I_assert_that_I_have_no_mind" is complaning about trying to talk to a pile of bricks?

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

'I'm not 'Mr X', that's my father!'

As best I recall, the first time I encountered some leftist (*) dip insist, upon being referred to as "Mr X", that "I'm not 'Mr X', that's my father!" was during my freshman year of college, back in the mid-1970s.

The particular dip I first recall saying it was a "motorcycle Marxist-atheist" professor of anthropology and sociology -- complete with the motorcycle on which he buzzed around campus, and the Dunlap’s Disease (**) that seems to go with being a middle-aged motorcyclist, and a grey ponytail down to his waist, if he’d had a waist, and an ex-wife whom he had ditched on the grounds that he “had stayed in Academy and had continued to grow, while she had just stayed home and raised the children”, and the new wife/former student, who was surely instrumental in his “growth” … and an all-too-apparent contempt for “religious nuts”, including yours truly.

What the dips who say that mean is, “I refuse to be an adult member of society – I will constantly demand the benefits of adulthood, but I will always shirk the responsibilities of adulthood.

This reminiscence was prompted by my visit to a grocery store this morning. I paid for my purchase with a credit card – meaning that my full name was made known to the store’s computer systems – and then the cashier said, “Thank you, Mr X”. What a delight that was!

You see, at most stores, in response to the institutional immaturity of the infamous Baby-Boomers, the cashiers are trained to address the public familiarly, by their Christian names (when known), as though addressing children, rather than by their surnames, as is proper when addressing an adult in such a context.

(*) the people who spout that foolishness, vainly imagining they've said something profound, are *always* "liberals", or even full-blown leftists.

(**) “Dunlap’s Disease” is an old joke, referring (generally) to a man whose belly has “done lapped over his belt”.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

If the next Pope should be

If the next Pope should be a sub-Saharan African, how long do you think it will be before some mindless "liberal" (*) will refer to him as "African-American"?

(*) is that redundant?

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

'Liberal' Moment of the Day

Bob Parks: Blonde Moment of the Day -- "CNN Anchor Asks If Incoming Asteroid Caused By ‘Global Warming'"

Mr Parks can call it a "blonde moment" if he wishes (*), but I think it's because she is a "liberal" -- which means that her "thinking" is controlled or generated by certain mindless templates or macros programmed by the leftists, one of which is a macro to automatically blame "scary events in the natural world" on "global warming".

(*) plus, I much doubt that she really is blonde.

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Does a bear crap in the woods?

The video at this link is so funny -- Brutally Honest: Does a bear crap in the woods?

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The injustice of ... Heaven

Douglas Wilson: The One Who Bled --
If a judge sentences a man to hang, this is of course unjust if we leave out of the picture the crime that the man was convicted of. But what is our basis for leaving this out? That crime is only "irrelevant" if our dedicated aim is to condemn the judge.
If there are ten innocent citizens rounded up, and five of them are shot by a despot, there is a gross injustice. But if there are ten inmates on death row, and the governor pardons three of them, there is no injustice done at all to the remaining seven. The only question of possible injustice arises with regard to the three who were pardoned. In other words, the question of justice does not arise when we are talking about Hell. It does arise when we are talking about Heaven.

The question is not "how can a just God send people to Hell?" The question concerns how a just God can allow sinners into Heaven. A God-centered concern about justice would worry far more about Heaven than Hell. A self-flattering, man-centered approach would worry aloud, and does worry aloud, about the purported justice of Hell. But we needn't worry. The Scriptures teach plainly that at the point of judgment, every mouth will be stopped. The Bible tells us that when it comes down to it, there will be nothing to say. The debates will be over.

The real problem, the problem of justice and Heaven, is resolved in the cross. Christ died as a blood atonement so that God could be both just and the one who justifies. God could be just and send us all to Hell. He could be the one who justifies and let us all into Heaven on a boy-will-be-boys basis. But in order to be both just and the one who justifies, Christ had to bleed.

And that is our final theodicy. Christ is the one who bled.
As I have pointed out before, there is a tension -- and an opposition -- between justice and mercy; for mercy is a special case of injustice.

And, there can be no mercy if there is not first justice: judgment and condemnation.  So, mercy is both in some sense in contrast or opposition to justice and yet wholly dependent upon justice. It is not that mercy refuses to judge and condemn, but rather that mercy chooses to set aside the full weight of the deserved condemnation.

It is not mercy if the mugger spares your life, though it may be pity; for the mugger had no right nor authority in the first place to condemn you.

On the other hand, if you are a condemned murderer, and the governor spares your life, but does not spare the life of your more vicious accomplice, it is not he who received the injustice, for he deserved to die. Rather, is you who received what you did not deserve, for you too deserved to die -- it is not your vicious accomplice, but you, who received the injustice. Well, you and your your victims.

Unless a person is morally perfect -- and we all know that none of us are -- than any talk of deserving "to go to Heaven" (as people put it), or being "good enough", is just so much wasted hot air. Not one of us deserves "to go to Heaven", nor ever can. The whole point of my parable of Noìli's Custom Ice Cream Shoppe is to mock any idea that anything other than absolute, total purity could ever be "good enough" to put God into one's moral obligation.

What you and I and everyone else deserves is not "to go to Heaven", but "to go to Hell".

And, if one doesn't love God in the first place, why in the hell would one want "to go to Heaven", anyway? Do you not realize how painful it would be for the man clutches his sin to his breast as being the most precious thing about himself to try to stand up in the presence of the wholly pure God? God in his purity is like a raging fire, and sin is utterly combustible.

Some 'atheists' like to pose the supposed stumper, "How can a loving God send anyone to Hell?" apparently imagining they have, at the very least, thereby shown Christianity to be self-contradictory concerning God's nature. Yet, put that same question in slightly different words -- "How can a loving God fail to force those who hate him and who suffer in his presence to be in his presence eternally?" The question is absurd; the 'atheist' hasn't uncovered any self-contradiction in Christianity, he has merely demonstrted his disinclination to think clearly.

Thus, the conundrum is not "How can a loving God send anyone to Hell?" Rather, it is "How can a just God allow anyone to enter Heaven?"

The resolution is that God is just and merciful. God does not want to "sent you to Hell", but we, who are impure and infected with capital-D death, cannot dwell in his presence, who is utter purity and Life itself, so long as we will not let go our sin, our impurity, our capital-D death.

If you want to Live, you must let go your Death.

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My favorite, so far

So, the White House has put out a photo of alleged-President Obama allegedly shooting skeet ... with a stern warning that it “may not be manipulated in any way.”

So far, this is my favorite non-manipulated response; with more here.

Also, I seem to recall, from the time I shot clay pigeons while a Boy Scout, that you're supposed to fire when the pigeon is up in the air. Surely, someone who skeet shoots "all the time" ought to be able to manage that? Surely, this image put out by the WH, of the alleged-President allegedly skeet shooting, isn't yet another WH Photoshop hoax ... you know, like a certain famous (snicker) "birth certificate"?

Alleged-President *finally* does something for the good of the country.

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

In which I point out that Kathy Shaidle is still

In which I point out that Kathy Shaidle is, apparently, still a woman (in the pejorative "feelings" sense of the word), and apparently still hasn't wholly freed her mind of the naïve "liberalism" and libertarianism of her youth, and appears still to have not wholly freed her mind of the feeling of superiority, undeserved and unevidenced, over Protestants that so many Catholics seem to ingest with mother's milk --

I believe that Kathy Shaidle is mature enough to take this post in the spirit it's meant, as (constructive) criticism; but I expect that by now Gentle Reader understands me well enough to realize that should I be wrong on that, and she were to decide, for instance, to hate me for the rest of her life, it won't bother me in the least.

Kathy Shaidle: Dear Protestants: This is why people hate you.

Kathy Shaidle: Another take on ‘Why People Hate Protestants’: Tipping at Chain Restaurants edition

I've explained before some of the things wrong with the whole culture of tipping, so I'm not going to rehearse that here again. Instead, I'll address what I see a Miss Shaidle's bitch:
1) Christianity (even if it's just "cultural christianity") in the public square;
2) the "unfairness" of not tipping waitstaff "what they're worth".

1) Christianity (even if it's just "cultural christianity") in the public square -- Surely anyone who has read Kathy Shaidle for any length of time, read with discernment, understands that she is impatient with, or embarrassed by, public expressions of Christianity, and by explicit appeal to Christian moral understanding. I see this as being, at least in part, a holdover from the "liberalism" and libertarianism of her youth, with possibly a bit of influence from her on-again off-again renunciation of Catholicism.

But, *every* question of how we should live, of how we should deal with and treat one another, in private and in public, is a moral question. Now, the Christian moral understanding just happens to be the best that has ever been available to any society; and it happens to be the one around which all Western societies, and none more so than the American, are oriented and organized -- you can't get, much less maintain, a recognizably Western society without a bedrock of Christian morality.

Thus, since:
1) all important questions of how we ought treat one another are moral questions,
and 2) all Western societies presuppose Christian morality,
in a Western society, such as America, it is all but impossible to find anyone -- even 'atheists' -- who does not make explicit appeal to the Christian moral understanding, even if his appeal depends upon intentional distortion of it, to justify his behavior, especially behavior that others are going to condemn. And black Americans are Westerners, just as much as you and I are.

So, here's the situation --
1) a chain-restaurant seated a party of black Americans;
2) the menu from which these Americans ordered listed various items at various prices;
3) these Americans consulted their appetites, and their finances, and decided to order this and that;
4) then, after these free-born sons and daughters of America had consumed the meal which they had been told would cost a certain amount, which amount they had agreed to pay before ordering, the restaurateur says to them: "By the way, I expect/demand that you pay me 18% more than I first told you I wanted. Plus the sales tax."
5) then, the customer scribbled out the "tip" and wrote on the bill presented her: "I give God 10% Why do you get 18";
6) then, the greedy-and-self-righteous waitress posted a copy of the bill on the internet, so as to embarrass the customer, and to show the whole world how put-upon, what a righteous martyr, she is;
7) then, the stupid-and grasping waitress was fired by the restaurant manager, for embarrassing the corporation;
7a) he should have been embarrassed by the fact that his corporation dares to "volunteer" the "tip" their customers "ought" to pay ... while also leaving a blank line for an additional tip.

I sorry -- by which I mean I'm not sorry at all -- but my sympathies are with the outraged customer, and I think it's fitting that the stupid bitch (the waitress) was fired for posting a copy of the bill on the internet. But, you know Kathy, if you're going to "blame" this woman's (the customer's) "outrageous" behavior on anything other than her shock and outrage at being ordered to pay 18% as a "tip", why not blame it on her being a woman, rather than on her being Protestant or being black? I mean, simply everyone knows that women "shaft" the staff at restaurants when paying the bill ... besides that women frequently treat the staff like dirt even before the bill arrives, which shitty treatment they "justify" in terms of the tip they may or may not add to the bill.

Now, even in the best of times, even when they're not upset and outraged, most people do not communicate all that well when speaking, and most people communicate even worse in writing than they do in speaking. Further, a restaurant receipt doesn't offer quite enough room to write a treatise on why you are declining to pay the "tip" the restaurateur so generously added to your bill. On the other hand, most people neither listen to what is said, nor even attempt to read-with-comprehension what is written, so I suppose it all evens out in the end.

Anyway, the point is, given that *everyone* in a Western society tries to appeal to the Christian moral understanding to justify himself, and given that America is the most Western of Western societies, and given that the customer was a pastor (*), and given that most people do not know how to express themselves well in writing, and given the smallness of her composition paper, I quite understand why she wrote: "I give God 10% Why do you get 18". I *also* understand why those persons who hate Christianity, or are merely embarrassed to be associated with it, are having themselves a real good hate-on over this.

(*) At the same time, women as priests/ministers/pastors is even more a recipe for social disater than woman as governors and legislators.

2) the "unfairness" of not tipping waitstaff "what they're worth" -- What is a waitress "worth", anyway? And how and why (and when) has it become the customer's job to determine what waiters "ought" to be paid?

Since it has apparently become the customer's job to determine what waiters and waitresses "ought" to be paid, why is the customer not being given an accounting of the server’s YTD earnings, so that he can make an informed decision? If the waiter or watress has already received more than he or she "deserves" for the year so far, is that particular customer off the hook? And, does this mean that a severely "underpaid" waitress's last customer of the year is obligated to make good on all the "tips" she "deserved", but didn't receive?

And, what about the busboy? What's he being paid? Where is the customer's proof that the waitress is giving him the "appropriate" cut of the "tip"?

Further, in any event, once the public has "determined" that the staff of this or that restaurant isn't being paid what they "deserve", why in the hell is the public still patronizing the place? why is the public enabling the "immorality" of that restaurateur, rather than taking its business down the street to a "moral" restaurateur who pays his staff "what they are worth"?

At the same time, if a waitress feels (*) that she isn't being paid "what she's worth", why is it the customer's job to somehow figure out what she "deserves" and then pay the restaurant whatever extra that is (**)? Why isn't it her job to get her unmotivated ass down the street to a place that will pay her "what she's worth"?

(*) Because, you know, women in general, much as children, are pretty much uninterested in appealing to abstract justice, preferring to (ahem) argue on the grounds of their feelings and an appeal to some amorphous semi-concept of "fairness" (which, generally, as with children, means "whatever I happen to want, right now")

(**) I must salute Appleby's -- apparently that chain is so solicitous of their customers’ moral well-being that they go to the trouble of printing that extra amount right there on the bill! And, it seems, they *also* add an extra line for an additional tip, should the customer be so inclined. Still, wouldn't it have been far simpler to set their prices high enough that they could pay their staff "what they're worth" out of the corporation's direct income, without expecting/demanding their customers to make good on the difference?

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'The Other Side of Eden'

David Yeagley (Bad Eagle): Evan Sayet on The Other Side of Eden --

... What’s uniquely captivating about Sayet’s description of modernity is his use of the Edenic metaphor. Eden is employed as a Freudian sort of prenatal paradise, and the irrationality of Modern Liberals is due to a kind of peremptory re-entry—into what they semi-consciously believe is the state of innocence and perfection. Of course, to the Modern Liberal, such a state is infantile. It is the paradise of the womb—total dependency, unconsciousness, and utter irresponsibility.

However, as one who is familiar with the classic aberrancies of modern theology (as I learned at Yale Divinity in the ‘70’s), I notice something very peculiar about Sayet’s approach. He takes the standard, established position that innocence is associated with absence of responsibility, choice, even work, and that such an artificial construct represents the condition of man in Eden, before the knowledge of good and evil. But then Sayet explicates how this same aberration functions in the process of the entire liberal mind conditioning—without once addressing the theological aberration. This is remarkable, really.

For example, in Chapter 1, p.3, Sayet writes that the Modern Liberal’s utopian vision
is predicated on the notion that if mankind lost paradise when Adam and Eve ate the apple and gained the knowledge of good and evil (and its little sisters – right and wrong, better and worse, and so on) then mankind can return to paradise if only everyone would just “regurgitate the apple” and give up all recognition of the existence of the better.
Sayet follows this thought by saying, “To the True Believer [the Modern Liberal], then, indiscriminateness –the total rejection of the intellectual process – is a moral imperative because it holds the key to returning to paradise.

Again, in Chapter 2, p.29, Sayet writes
Like Adam and Eve just prior to eating from the apple, the Modern Liberal has never had a mature thought in his life. That is, he has never once attempted to gather the facts, study the evidence and weigh these things in a rational formulation in order to seek out the rightful answers. This is because, like Adam and Eve in Eden, he’s never once had to.
The analogy works perfectly, despite the universal misunderstanding of Eden, I should say, the established distortion thereof. Sayet uses the aberration of liberal theology and turns it on itself. Indeed, Sayet has actually beaten the liberal at his own game, theologically. This is what is critically unique in Sayet’s Edenic allegory of the Modern Liberal. The liberal ideology simply cannot sustain itself logically.

Let’s take a careful look at this. In Genesis 1 and 2, there is abundant evidence of “good” (טיב towb) before there was ever the introduction of “evil” (רץ rah). And the “good” that is juxtaposed with “good and evil” is not a different kind of good. The Hebrew word is the same.

The liberal pretends that in present life, after the Fall, on this side of Eden, evil can be separated out of the equation altogether. The implied belief is that the “good” in “good and evil” is a different kind of “good” from Genesis 1 and 2, before the Fall, before man’s expulsion from Eden. The aberrant liberal notion is that paradise must therefore be a place really without good or evil. That is innocence for the liberal. Again, this is predicated on the idea that there are two kinds of good, and that the one before the Fall, in Eden, was inappreciable. Thus, what God pronounced “good” is, to the liberal, actually unaccountable and useless as a concept. ...

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What a rip-off!

I bought a container of Dannon's 'Oikos Greek Yogurt' (*), and I'm eating it right now. It's OK, and better than, say, Yoplait brand, but it's certainly not twice as good as the no-name yogurt I generally buy for 1/2 the price I paid for the 'Oikos'.

But get this: it also didn't turn me into John Stamos!! Isn't that the whole point of 'Oikos', that it will turn you into John Stamos?! Or, is it that if I can get a woman to eat the 'Oikos', then I will turn into him? Do I need to get her to eat the 'Oikos' directly from my lips, or can I just give her her own container of it, if she doesn't look inclined to get that friendly with me?

(*) I just noticed that the container I bought is "nonfat" -- perhaps that's why I'm not so impressed with its taste.

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'The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment'

This is C.S.Lewis' 'The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment'. I've linked to it before, but links die, so I thought I'd post the text in case the link I currently know of were to die --

The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment
C.S. Lewis

In England we have lately had a controversy about Capital Punishment. I do not know whether a murderer is more likely to repent and make good on the gallows a few weeks after his trial or in the prison infirmary thirty years later. I do not know whether the fear of death is an indispensable deterrent. I need not, for the purpose of this article, decide whether it is a morally permissible deterrent. Those are questions which I propose to leave untouched. My subject is not Capital Punishment in particular, but that theory of punishment in general which the controversy showed to be called the Humanitarian theory. Those who hold it think that it is mild and merciful. In this I believe that they are seriously mistaken. I believe that the “Humanity” which it claims is a dangerous illusion and disguises the possibility of cruelty and injustice without end. I urge a return to the traditional or Retributive theory not solely, not even primarily, in the interests of society, but in the interests of the criminal.

According to the Humanitarian theory, to punish a man because he deserves it, and as much as he deserves, is mere revenge, and, therefore, barbarous and immoral. It is maintained that the only legitimate motives for punishing are the desire to deter others by example or to mend the criminal. When this theory is combined, as frequently happens, with the belief that all crime is more or less pathological, the idea of mending tails off into that of healing or curing and punishment becomes therapeutic. Thus it appears at first sight that we have passed from the harsh and self-righteous notion of giving the wicked their deserts to the charitable and enlightened one of tending the psychologically sick. What could be more amiable? One little point which is taken for granted in this theory needs, however, to be made explicit. The things done to the criminal, even if they are called cures, will be just as compulsory as they were in the old days when we called them punishments. If a tendency to steal can be cured by psychotherapy, the thief will no doubt be forced to undergo the treatment. Otherwise, society cannot continue.

My contention is that this doctrine, merciful though it appears, really means that each one of us, from the moment he breaks the law, is deprived of the rights of a human being.

The reason is this. The Humanitarian theory removes from Punishment the concept of Desert. But the concept of Desert is the only connecting link between punishment and justice. It is only as deserved or undeserved that a sentence can be just or unjust. I do not here contend that the question ‘Is it deserved?’ is the only one we can reasonably ask about a punishment. We may very properly ask whether it is likely to deter others and to reform the criminal. But neither of these two last questions is a question about justice. There is no sense in talking about a ‘just deterrent’ or a ‘just cure’. We demand of a deterrent not whether it is just but whether it will deter. We demand of a cure not whether it is just but whether it succeeds. Thus when we cease to consider what the criminal deserves and consider only what will cure him or deter others, we have tacitly removed him from the sphere of justice altogether; instead of a person, a subject of rights, we now have a mere object, a patient, a ‘case’.

The distinction will become clearer if we ask who will be qualified to determine sentences when sentences are no longer held to derive their propriety from the criminal’s deservings. On the old view the problem of fixing the right sentence was a moral problem. Accordingly, the judge who did it was a person trained in jurisprudence; trained, that is, in a science which deals with rights and duties, and which, in origin at least, was consciously accepting guidance from the Law of Nature, and from Scripture. We must admit that in the actual penal code of most countries at most times these high originals were so much modified by local custom, class interests, and utilitarian concessions, as to be very imperfectly recognizable. But the code was never in principle, and not always in fact, beyond the control of the conscience of the society. And when (say, in eighteenth-century England) actual punishments conflicted too violently with the moral sense of the community, juries refused to convict and reform was finally brought about. This was possible because, so long as we are thinking in terms of Desert, the propriety of the penal code, being a moral question, is a question n which every man has the right to an opinion, not because he follows this or that profession, but because he is simply a man, a rational animal enjoying the Natural Light. But all this is changed when we drop the concept of Desert. The only two questions we may now ask about a punishment are whether it deters and whether it cures. But these are not questions on which anyone is entitled to have an opinion simply because he is a man. He is not entitled to an opinion even if, in addition to being a man, he should happen also to be a jurist, a Christian, and a moral theologian. For they are not question about principle but about matter of fact; and for such cuiquam in sua arte credendum. Only the expert ‘penologist’ (let barbarous things have barbarous names), in the light of previous experiment, can tell us what is likely to deter: only the psychotherapist can tell us what is likely to cure. It will be in vain for the rest of us, speaking simply as men, to say, ‘but this punishment is hideously unjust, hideously disproportionate to the criminal’s deserts’. The experts with perfect logic will reply, ‘but nobody was talking about deserts. No one was talking about punishment in your archaic vindictive sense of the word. Here are the statistics proving that this treatment deters. Here are the statistics proving that this other treatment cures. What is your trouble?

The Humanitarian theory, then, removes sentences from the hands of jurists whom the public conscience is entitled to criticize and places them in the hands of technical experts whose special sciences do not even employ such categories as rights or justice. It might be argued that since this transference results from an abandonment of the old idea of punishment, and, therefore, of all vindictive motives, it will be safe to leave our criminals in such hands. I will not pause to comment on the simple-minded view of fallen human nature which such a belief implies. Let us rather remember that the ‘cure’ of criminals is to be compulsory; and let us then watch how the theory actually works in the mind or the Humanitarian. The immediate starting point of this article was a letter I read in one of our Leftist weeklies. The author was pleading that a certain sin, now treated by our laws as a crime, should henceforward be treated as a disease. And he complained that under the present system the offender, after a term in gaol, was simply let out to return to his original environment where he would probably relapse. What he complained of was not the shutting up but the letting out. On his remedial view of punishment the offender should, of course, be detained until he was cured. And or course the official straighteners are the only people who can say when that is. The first result of the Humanitarian theory is, therefore, to substitute for a definite sentence (reflecting to some extent the community’s moral judgment on the degree of ill-desert involved) an indefinite sentence terminable only by the word of those experts—and they are not experts in moral theology nor even in the Law of Nature—who inflict it. Which of us, if he stood in the dock, would not prefer to be tried by the old system?

It may be said that by the continued use of the word punishment and the use of the verb ‘inflict’ I am misrepresenting Humanitarians. They are not punishing, not inflicting, only healing. But do not let us be deceived by a name. To be taken without consent from my home and friends; to lose my liberty; to undergo all those assaults on my personality which modern psychotherapy knows how to deliver; to be re-made after some pattern of ‘normality’ hatched in a Vienese laboratory to which I never professed allegiance; to know that this process will never end until either my captors hav succeeded or I grown wise enough to cheat them with apparent success—who cares whether this is called Punishment or not? That it includes most of the elements for which any punishment is feared—shame, exile, bondage, and years eaten by the locust—is obvious. Only enormous ill-desert could justify it; but ill-desert is the very conception which the Humanitarian theory has thrown overboard.

If we turn from the curative to the deterrent justification of punishment we shall find the new theory even more alarming. When you punish a man in terrorem, make of him an ‘example’ to others, you are admittedly using him as a means to an end; someone else’s end. This, in itself, would be a very wicked thing to do. On the classical theory of Punishment it was of course justified on the ground that the man deserved it. That was assumed to be established before any question of ‘making him an example arose’ arose. You then, as the saying is, killed two birds with one stone; in the process of giving him what he deserved you set an example to others. But take away desert and the whole morality of the punishment disappears. Why, in Heaven’s name, am I to be sacrificed to the good of society in this way?—unless, of course, I deserve it.

But that is not the worst. If the justification of exemplary punishment is not to be based on dessert but solely on its efficacy as a deterrent, it is not absolutely necessary that the man we punish should even have committed the crime. The deterrent effect demands that the public should draw the moral, ‘If we do such an act we shall suffer like that man.’ The punishment of a man actually guilty whom the public think innocent will not have the desired effect; the punishment of a man actually innocent will, provided the public think him guilty. But every modern State has powers which make it easy to fake a trial. When a victim is urgently needed for exemplary purposes and a guilty victim cannot be found, all the purposes of deterrence will be equally served by the punishment (call it ‘cure’ if you prefer0 of an innocent victim, provided that the public can be cheated into thinking him will be so wicked. The punishment of an innocent, that is , an undeserving, man is wicked only if we grant the traditional view that righteous punishment means deserved punishment. Once we have abandoned that criterion, all punishments have to be justified, if at all, on other grounds that have nothing to do with desert. Where the punishment of the innocent can be justified on those grounds (and it could in some cases be justified as a deterrent) it will be no less moral than any other punishment. Any distaste for it on the part of the Humanitarian will be merely a hang-over from the Retributive theory.

It is, indeed, important to notice that my argument so far supposes no evil intentions on the part of the Humanitarian and considers only what is involved in the logic of his position. My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position would act as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants. They might in some respects act even worse. Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. But to be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we ‘ought to have known better’, is to be treated as a human person made in God’s image.

In reality, however, we must face the possibility of bad rulers armed with a Humanitarian theory of punishment. A great many popular blue prints for a Christian society are merely what the Elizabethans called ‘eggs in moonshine’ because they assume that the whole society is Christian or that the Christians are in control. This is not so in most contemporary States. Even if it were, our rulers would still be fallen men, and, therefore neither ver wise nor very good. As it is, they will usually be unbelievers. And since wisdom and virtue are not the only or the commonest qualifications for a place in the government, they will not often be even the best unbelievers.

The practical problem of Christian politics is not that of drawing up schemes for a Christian society, but that of living as innocently as we can with unbelieving fellow-subjects under unbelieving rulers who will never be perfectly wise and good and who will sometimes be very wicked and very foolish. And when they are wicked the Humanitarian theory of punishment will put in their hands a finer instrument of tyranny than wickedness ever had before. For if crime and disease are to be regarded as the same thing, it follows that any state of mind which our masters choose to call ‘disease’ can be treated as a crime; and compulsorily cured. It will be vain to plead that states of mind which displease government need not always involve moral turpitude and do not therefore always deserve forfeiture of liberty. For our masters will not be using the concepts of Desert and Punishment but those of disease and cure. We know that one school of psychology already regards religion as a neurosis. When this particular neurosis becomes inconvenient to government, what is to hinder government from proceeding to ‘cure’ it? Such ‘cure’ will, of course, be compulsory; but under the Humanitarian theory it will not be called by the shocking name of Persecution. No one will blame us for being Christians, no one will hate us, no one will revile us. The new Nero will approach us with the silky manners of a doctor, and though all will be in fact as compulsory as the tunica molesta or Smithfield or Tyburn, all will go on within the unemotional therapeutic sphere where words like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ or ‘freedom’ and ‘slavery’ are never heard. And thus when the command is given, every prominent Christian in the land may vanish overnight into Institutions for the Treatment of the Ideologically Unsound, and it will rest with the expert gaolers to say when (if ever) they are to re-emerge. But it will not be persecution. Even if the treatment is painful, even if it is life-long, even if it is fatal, that will be only a regrettable accident; the intention was purely therapeutic. In ordinary medicine there were painful operations and fatal operations; so in this. But because they are ‘treatment’, not punishment, they can be criticized only by fellow-experts and on technical grounds, never by men as men and on grounds of justice.

This is why I think it essential to oppose the Humanitarian theory of punishment, root and branch, wherever we encounter it. It carries on its front a semblance of mercy which is wholly false. That is how it can deceive men of good will. The error began, with Shelley’s statement that the distinction between mercy and justice was invented in the courts of tyrants. It sounds noble, and was indeed the error of a noble mind. But the distinction is essential. The older view was that mercy ‘tempered’ justice, or (on the highest level of all) that mercy and justice had met and kissed. The essential act of mercy was to pardon; and pardon in its very essence involves the recognition of guilt and ill-desert in the recipient. If crime is only a disease which needs cure, not sin which deserves punishment, it cannot be pardoned. How can you pardon a man for having a gumboil or a club foot? But the Humanitarian theory wants simply to abolish Justice and substitute Mercy for it. This means that you start being ‘kind’ to people before you have considered their rights, and then force upon them supposed kindnesses which no on but you will recognize as kindnesses and which the recipient will feel as abominable cruelties. You have overshot the mark. Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful. That is the important paradox. As there are plants which will flourish only in mountain soil, so it appears that Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice; transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism, it becomes a man-eating weed, all the more dangerous because it is still called by the same name as the mountain variety. But we ought long ago to have learned our lesson. We should be too old now to be deceived by those humane pretensions which have served to usher in every cruelty of the revolutionary period in which we live. These are the ‘precious balms’ which will ‘break our heads’.

There is a fine sentence in Bunyan: ‘It came burning hot into my mind, whatever he said, and however he flattered, when he got me home to his House, he would sell me for a Slave.’ There is a fine couplet, too, in John Ball:

‘Be war or ye be wo; Knoweth your frend from your foo.’

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