Friday, March 23, 2018

REVIEW OF 'BRAVE NEW WORLD REVISITED'



“The survival of democracy depends on the ability of large numbers of people to make realistic choices in the light of adequate information. A dictatorship, on the other hand, maintains itself by censoring or distorting the facts, and by appealing, not to reason, not to enlightened self-interest, but to passion and prejudice, to the powerful ‘hidden forces’, as Hitler called them, present in the unconscious depths of the human mind” (p. 311.) This dictatorship is the society of Brave New World. This society is what Huxley comments on and warns about in Brave New World Revisited. Both books are disclosures of socialism; the non-fiction sequel is more sobering than its harbinger, and unaffected by immature characteristics. 

Roughly speaking, the totalitarian worlds of Huxley and Orwell are distinguished by the following marks. Brave New World is gaudy; 1984 is barren. Characters in Brave New World are sated and bored; characters in 1984 are deprived and stressed. Brave New World is regulated by peer pressure; 1984 is regulated by an iron fist. Brave New World is laboratorial; 1984 is inquisitorial. The gaudy world full of ennui and satiety, controlled by peer pressure and pills—this is Western democracy on a runaway downgrade. The austere world wherein people suffer privation and stress—the world controlled by iron rule and the fear of inquisition—this is North Korea. A failed exercise to achieve utopia is dystopia. Roughly speaking, though, Brave New World is a monstrous form of utopia; while 1984 is a functional dystopia. Both are joyless worlds occupied by persons who have had their liberties outlawed and their individualities effaced. 

Huxley makes his own comparisons. He says, perhaps not surprisingly but not necessarily prejudicially, that in light of ‘recent developments’ (just prior to 1958), Brave New World is more plausible an outcome than 1984 (pp. 252, 253.) He observed the prophecies that he made in 1931 swiftly coming to pass in his lifetime, like ‘man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions,’ for example (pp. 252, 295, 318.) It is no doubt truer in our day than in his, that even religion is a distraction (p. 296.) Go to virtually any church, and you will be struck, not by a sense of sin as doctrine convicts you from the pulpit, but a theatrical atmosphere and storytelling. In Huxley’s opinion, a 1984 scenario would give way to a Brave New World (p. 291.) The reverse is happening. Either way, socialist absolutism has leavened much of the world; its influence is hardening. 

What must we take note of as including the Socialist Left in the world in 2018? This ideology dominates in North Korea, Russia, China, and Cuba, to name the most obvious countries. North Korea is more like the world of 1984 than any other country on earth; it is a country made up of people who are the nearest to fully believing the indoctrinated lie that tyranny is liberty and that poverty is prosperity. The other three countries named are allowed some degree of Brave New World pleasure as they cautiously negotiate their 1984 walk between the narrow boundaries that they dare not cross. Those who live in the Socialist Left of the Brave New World include the citizens of North America and Europe. This is so whether they are governed by democrats or republicans in the USA, any of the three major parties in Canada, and even the parties that are presently opposing open borders in Europe. Nearly the whole globe, then, even before including South America and Australia, is Leftist-Socialist. North America and Europe are in a Brave New World marching toward some version of the more ominous world of 1984. President Trump is a capitalist standing in the way of the fetters that seem will inevitably bind his country. The Muslim invasion, for its part, if it succeeds, will bring its captured nations into the forced obeisance that the people of Iran and Saudi Arabia endure. Tentatively, I would label that world the extreme right, though even there bloated socialist programs may be counted on both hands. The true center would be capitalism on the basis of a Christian ethic, the closest approximation thereto being 19th century Britain and America. To imagine the industrial and digital progress that has been made since the 19th century—along with certain reforms like more sensible limitations on capital punishment—sitting on top of Victorian rectitude, is to imagine a widespread happiness and wholesome influence that the world has yet to experience and probably never will. 
                    
Sixty years after Brave New World Revisited was published, and eighty years after Hitler annexed Austria, conservatives are being called Nazis as if it’s not the Left, and only the Left, that imitates Hitler’s socialist program. Most people don’t realize that Hitler’s party was a socialist one. He who doubts that can look up the name of his party and survey his political acts. What are high taxes, gun confiscation, and national health care but socialist policies? One of the reasons the Nazis failed, Huxley contends, is because their brainwashing was not broad enough to include ‘their lower leadership’ (p. 300.) Hitler had not the time to do that; at least he had not the time to do it effectually. Even in his day—back in 1958—Huxley could say that children were not taught how to distinguish between meaningful and meaningless statements or how to sort truth from falsehood (p. 385.) If multitudes of university students in 2018 cannot decide what gender they are or even how many genders exist, shall we not insist that education has worsened in some basic respects since sixty years ago? Huxley had lived in California twenty years by the time he published Brave New World Revisited. Therefore it would be wrong to assume that his criticism of education was limited to the state of pedagogy in the UK where he was born and grew up.

Unlike the situation in Hitler’s Germany, our ‘lower leadership’—our teachers, are brainwashed, and thoroughly. We may include most pastors too, along with media personnel from coast to coast, celebrities, and regional politicians of every stripe, with comparatively few exceptions. Needless to say, our students are brainwashed by their brainwashed teachers and the entertainment industries. Children are easily emotionalized, and driven to conclude what reason and experience would guard them from deducing (p. 319.) They spontaneously react to ‘trigger words’ (p. 320.) Who is using and abusing children today to advance political objectives in the USA through emotion and trigger words? As I write this, the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida is a couple of weeks old. Socialist media giants have been rallying the children to the cause of ‘gun control’ on the heels of this bloody event. Gun control is a euphemism; it is the antithesis of the right to bear arms. Laws that were already in place, if they had been enforced, could have and would have prevented the young murderer from gunning down the schoolmates and teachers of the students that are now being used to agitate for more stringent gun control. Even though there had been between twenty and forty instances of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office being notified of the danger the young shooter posed—even though he was known to have bought a rifle—even though he had made threats and shot animals—even though he had openly declared his purpose to become a ‘professional school shooter,’ which fact was reported to the FBI—even though the shooter’s educators and the police knew all of this and more—he was not picked up, not interrogated, not confined, and neither was his firearm confiscated. And yet the cry for more gun control—which means more laws to curtail the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns, is what is being called for. More laws are called for that will limit the freedom of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their loved ones from people like the murderer who should have been locked up but wasn’t. So brainwashed are the students (not all but enough to make the desired impact) that in spite of these facts, their response is to cry out the trigger words that have been planted in their adolescent minds by their leftist users and abusers. “Such is the proneness of the human mind to go astray,” says Calvin in the chapter on free will in his Institutes, “that it will more quickly draw error from one little word, than truth from a lengthened discourse.” How much more is this proneness the case in impressionable teenage minds? Manipulative adults know this. And so they goad the kids into crying ‘gun control! gun control!’; consequently, embarrassed by the optics of arguing with, and opposing, traumatized kids, many politicians who know better are coerced into submission, and the leftists achieve another victory toward the abolition of the American right to bear arms. The reasons why the educators and the police did not intervene to prevent the massacre should matter. But to most it matters not at all, leaving the way open for more slaughters. As pointed out by Bill Cunningham, the Obama administration wanted to make the education system look less derelict than it was by obstructing the pipeline through which students went from school to prison. Therefore problem students, along with their threats and crimes, have been lightly treated for years, which is what cleared the way for the shooter to commit mass murder at the school in Parkland. More gun control, though, is closing in on those who would never execute anybody and who would save someone if they could and had the right to do so. This is the kind of Nazi-like madness that a book like Huxley’s was written to circumvent. It is a cold cruel fact that politicians—like those that make up what Ted Cruz labeled the ‘Washington Cartel’—like those labeled ‘the Swamp’ by President Trump—take advantage of crises in order to exercise control over a populace (p. 263.) It is in their selfish interest to ignore steps that could be taken to save lives. They would rather use an excuse to diminish a right—like the right to bear arms—than remedy the wrongs that permitted a mass shooting to take place. To this end, susceptible students are duped into rallying to the cause of increased gun restriction, as if restricting the rights of good citizens to bear arms is the way to stop psychos who decide to shoot up schools. A gun in the hand of a good man is the only way to stop a bad man wielding a gun. More gun restriction is the avenue to more bloodshed because while obedient citizens are subjected to restrictions, fiends will always find means to procure guns. Not only are these kids susceptible to ‘easy fix’ lies to complex problems, they are especially receptive to media attention, for what kid does not want his moment of fame? It is tempting to use kids to achieve a goal. Who does this more than those who lean democrat? Democrat politicians are notorious for putting kids in front of them when introducing socialist bills that restrict freedom. Who does that but unscrupulous, unethical persons? Palestinian Muslims put kids between themselves and incoming bombs; socialist democrats put kids between themselves and the bills they want to pass.            

Leaders with despotic tendencies use ‘non-rational’ propaganda that appeals to ‘passions, blind impulses, unconscious cravings and fears’ (p. 291.) They suppress facts while they put out ‘catchwords’ to be repeated (p. 296.) Who does this but the democrats? What are the catchwords they use to dodge facts and debate? Racist, homophobe, Islamophobe, sexist, misogynist, Nazi, fascist—these are some of them. ‘Male chauvinist pig’ got worn out decades ago. Here are two examples of how catchwords are used to evade facts and disallow debate. If you’re not okay with open borders, through which illegal migrants come in to sponge resources, and in some instances to harass, rape, steal, or murder, then you must be ‘xenophobic.’ If you want to stop importing immigrants from countries that are infamous for exporting terrorism, then you must be ‘racist.’ Who adopts these catchwords for use but citizens who are ‘incapable of abstract thinking’? (p. 302.) Who uses them but democrat supporters? Ignorant citizens who will not, or cannot, think past catchwords to reason things out, they are the same kind of people that Hitler used (Ibid.) The democrats and the unprincipled wing of the republican party depend on uninformed simpletons to make their agenda unacceptable to oppose. 

Sister (how sexist to say ‘sister’ and not ‘brother’) to the catchword is the slogan, or ‘stereotyped formula’; this too is often used for evil purposes; it is a tool that the Fuhrer used (p. 305.) Who has used slogans lately that have since proven to be lies? Remember ‘hope and change’ and ‘fair share.’ It would be hard to find one single thing that was fair and hopeful in any of the changes that Obama brought about. “Simple-minded people tend to equate the symbol with what it stands for” (p. 314.) Remember “you can keep your doctor; you can keep your plan.” Those who had a little wisdom knew this to be a lie even before the promise was broken; the simple-minded swallowed the lie in a single gulp. Is ‘Make America Great Again’ of the same character as these slogans? ‘Make America Great Again’ is a promise that is happening; it would happen to a much greater extent and degree if not for the fact that Donald Trump faces more opposition than any American president before him has faced. Companies and industries that Obama said would never return, they are returning; America isn’t funding Iran’s nuclear program anymore; and Isis is almost entirely wiped out. Indeed, Isis has lost ninety percent of the territory that was supposed to be the beginning of its worldwide caliphate. Isis is dispossessed and nearly destroyed. Many more terrorist attacks would have happened if Clinton had won the election instead of Trump. But we seldom think of benefits like that, do we? US citizens are living right now who would be dead if not for a capitalist having won the White House instead of a socialist. Democrats are purist socialists now; the brave new world that they started is suffering a setback.  

Hitler, or the ‘demagogic propagandist,’ is so inflexible as to not admit that his opponent is even partially right. No matter what, he shouts the opponent down (p. 306.) Is that not the stance of democrats vis-a-vis Donald Trump? They haven’t thanked him for crushing Isis; they do not praise him for all the jobs coming back; they opposed his travel ban regarding terror-prone states; they may not accept his generous concessions on immigration reform and gun control. Their only aim is to impeach and depose by whatever trumped up charge that can be used for the purpose. If a coup of sorts will not work, the opponent must be ‘liquidated’ (p. Ibid.) How many death threats did Obama face while he was in office? It may be that a threat or two against him were not hoaxes; but he is a liar who denies that Trump has received tenfold more threats than Obama did. How many times has the life of President Trump been threatened? His life has been threatened by celebrities, activists, rioters, bloggers, and trolls, with mainstream reporters and pundits winking at each threat, hoping that someone—anyone—would be motivated to act on the basis of all this hatred. When a man rushed upon Trump while he was speaking on stage, the mainstream media showed no concern at all because their wish was for Trump to be ‘liquidated,’ which temper, as Huxley warningly reminds us, is a Nazi turn of mind. No one ever rushed Obama. No American would have dared because black dignitaries—indeed, blacks in general—have privilege in America. If Obama had ever been rushed, we would still be hearing about the infamy on a daily basis years after. Because America is not racist against blacks, and because conservatives, when beaten, do not lash out, Obama—that wicked demagogue—was probably the safest man to occupy the White House in American history. Who is Nazi-like? Is it President Trump and his supporters who turn the other cheek? Or is it the party or side that wants to kill because their socialist cause was interrupted by the election of a capitalist? Is it the middle class from Mid-America who are willing to work in mines and on factory floors? Or is it the big city snobs of New York City and LA with their domestic terror groups? The non-rational propagandist associates his product with persons that the masses look up to (p. 353.) Remember Hillary Clinton trying to sell the failed ideas of Obama by posing with celebrities. I can think of no celebrity of note posing with Donald Trump to help him get elected. Trump is a straight-talking businessman, not a politically correct empty suit. Celebrities can’t identify with that. Their life is an act; his life is what movies are made of. Trump stood with the common man of no repute—the hard-working folks that shoulder the taxes. This is why we call him the blue-collar billionaire.                      

Hitler also relied on what Huxley calls ‘herd-poison’—‘crowd intoxicated’ mania produced by exploitative oratory (p. 304.) Who is a master at exploiting ‘hidden forces’ to produce angry crowds more than Obama? Much of the vandalism, looting, and violence that Black Lives Matter and Antifa committed were generated by Obama’s oratory. It could be convincingly argued that these terrorist forces would not exist except for Obama. Is it not interesting that Barack Hussein Obama comes to mind more often in the chapter called Propaganda Under a Dictatorship than in the chapter called Propaganda in a Democratic Society?                   

A social arrangement between laissez-faire and total control is closest to the ideal (p. 278.) The over-organization that ‘suffocates the creative spirit’—what is that but a micromanaging government that regulates everything that it can get its hands on? President Trump’s rule is to roll back two regulations for each one that is introduced. He has cut regulations on gun control, the coal industry, and internet use, to name a few. By rescinding one regulation in particular, he gave states the choice to opt out of funding Planned Parenthood, with moneys received from the federal government. An option to not give money to an organization that kills babies is antithetical to a Brave New World and 1984 if anything is. An attempt to create a ‘social organism’ results in ‘totalitarian despotism’ (p. 280.) Such an attempt is like trying to make man conform to the marching orders of an ant colony (p. 279.) Do we not see this happening in our universities and on social media? Speakers who refuse to blindly accept what professors tell them to believe, are shouted down, shamed, and sometimes assaulted. This is going on at Berkeley and at other universities. This is 1984-style enforcement.  Speakers who refuse to repeat talking points on issues like globalism, global warming, open borders, and Islam have their YouTube channels demonetized, sometimes blocked, and maybe wiped out. This is going on right now. This is 1984-style enforcement. In such a world—a synthetic social organism—one has to ‘de-individualize’ (Ibid) or else. But ‘regimentation’ is ‘a great misfortune’ (p. 376.) One reason for a soft-on-crime approach, jumped out at me on that page. Criminals (with their guilt) have been absorbed by the sham social organism—the collective. This social chimera is also why the plays of Shakespeare are no longer attributed to Shakespeare by certain philosophers. In the social organism sense, he never existed. Who’s to say which ant, for example, is responsible for the anthill? Remember Obama’s statement about small business owners: “You didn’t build that; somebody else—made that happen.” This social evil is also why heroes and patriotism are discountenanced. Individual initiative goes against the current of conformity; patriotism is at odds with an en masse acceptance of globalism. The truth however, is, “Everything that is done within a society is done by individuals” (p. 379.) This is perhaps the most important page of the book, by the way; it is a worthy speech in defense of that obvious fact. It is ironic that in their quest to create a social organism, our leaders never tire of emphasizing diversity as our strength. Of course, they don’t believe their talking point. Then, overlooking the diversity in each individual, like ‘temperamental diversity’ (p. 380), the imported individuals that they hope will be digested to swell the collective, clash with it instead. If you think about it, a ‘truly social species’ has no need of individual liberty (p. 381.) That explains the socialist zeal for unqualified conformity. The socialist is himself a victim of ‘mind-manipulation’ (p. 392.) He is a ‘psychological captive’ who ‘believes himself to be free’ (Ibid.) I will add here, though, that in both Brave New World and 1984, those at the top, if I rightly recall, are allowed freedoms that the rest of the populace is disallowed. It is the same with those who jet to summits on global warming. They use all the fuel they want at taxpayers’ expense to go play it up at the most posh places on the planet, and while there they lecture those who pay the tab about how they must reduce their carbon footprint and take measures to use less power in their homes. 

Since education is now under almost complete control of federal governments that do not permit the teaching of history and logic except in diluted and twisted forms, the solution proffered by Huxley to educate against the danger of tyranny (p. 383), can only be accomplished at home or online. But the majority of children do not belong to households that are able or willing to enforce this; indeed, most parents or guardians have become willing slaves to the state. It is plainly more the case in our day than in the 1930s that even pastors do not want men to think critically (pp. 385, 386) since most of them are selling temporal hope in health and wealth instead of preaching hell for sin and heaven through faith. Francis Schaeffer observed that most people will not put up a fuss as long as they enjoy ‘personal peace and affluence.’ This is comparable to Huxley’s ‘bread and circuses’ (p. 400.) The situation must become so dire that ‘grounded dodos will clamour again for their wings’ (pp. 400, 401.) 

If wings of freedom are regained, it will be by that which ‘science and technology’ supply and that ‘powerful rulers’ have little control over (p. 401.) This comment is astonishingly prescient in light of the present information war going on between celebrities, academics, politicians, media giants, and internet platform controllers on the one side; and earnest, self-taught individualists on the other side who do not want their souls to be smothered and their selves to be stamped with the image of an impersonal state. Welfare moms and public broadcasters are satisfied with a state stamp for an identity; independent thinkers prefer the stamp of their own personhood.    

Christians like me must bring up the fact that the liberty that tyranny is taking away was established by Christian influence and that the only sure way back to liberty unbound is through this means. Until Christian influence rolls through our societies in unstoppable waves, the deadening air of socialism will hang over our heads to threaten our mobility. If we win the information war, but obtain no life-giving infusion, our stems will not rise very high and our garden will never be pretty, broad, and lasting. The first little storm will blow the petals off our flowers, and we will be back to raking, cultivating, and planting from scratch our tiny seeds. In short, history and logic are not enough; while philosophy—even Christian philosophy, is much less than we need. It is regeneration en masse by the Holy Ghost—revival—that is needed. This is the basis of the influence that Western societies are built on; Christianity is why so much good has been done through them; Christian-based societies are durable. If the reader assumes that I am talking about revivals of less than over a century ago, he has yet to learn that a revival is not what he thought it was. Billy Graham has just died; where is the influence of this overrated man? Roman Catholicism did provide a measure of stability in the Middle-Ages; but it was the Protestant Reformation that caused the moral progress that we have taken for granted so much as to squander and misuse. If Graham had really felt the truth of that, he would never have rendered himself inert by his collusion with Rome. This might not be saying enough, for inertia is not a negative, and Graham might have done more harm than good by making multitudes of hypocrites by tricky techniques and coerced confessions of faith. But I cannot afford the space to digress any further on that.  

When Huxley touches on religion, I do not expect a lot of insight. John Wesley may have had to contend with fanaticism in the midst of the revival that he was part of, but it is ignorant to say that his success was on account of being a fanatic himself. He did not succeed in converting multitudes by emotional manipulation—what Huxley terms ‘an intuitive understanding of the central nervous system’ (p. 329.) He did not bring people under tyranny through brainwashing; he, through preaching the gospel, caused sinners to be mentally renewed and loosed from the bonds of sin. Huxley admits that through Wesley’s preaching, thousands of converts had “new and generally better behaviour patterns ineradicably implanted in their minds and nervous systems” (p. 330.) This is the expansive Christian influence that I referred to and that we need for our societies. It is the peaceful force that can sweep away our species of totalitarianism. Persons from any class or station may be affected in a revival; that cannot but usher in ‘hope and change’ that is dynamic instead of deviously politic. 

In spite of being spare on solutions, Brave New World Revisited was written decades before its predictions came to pass, which fact makes Huxley a man to look back on thankfully and admiringly. The object of predicting a social disease is to help societies abide. But the Western world did not heed the doctor’s warning; now it is undergoing a social pandemic. Huxley predicted the ‘social engineering’ that our degenerated democracies are forcing on us (p. 283.) He did not specify all the forms that social engineering is now taking. But it is a marvel that he hit upon some of them and that he even hit upon the general principle. By social engineering we may include hiring quotas, gender redefinition, racial favoritism, feminist supremacy, and other issues that are politically incorrect to speak ill of. Political correctness is the engineering of speech; the engineering of thoughts and feelings are its natural concomitants. If you are shouted down for stating ordinary, obvious, innocent things, like the wage gap that feminists complain about being largely due to the fewer hours that women work than men—it is certain that some women are so weak in thought and feeling that you might be targeted by one of them just for not making her happy. For example, if a date did not go the way a woman wanted it to go, she can now get a man fired by alleging (to the whole world on social media) that she was sexually harassed or raped by the man that she dated. The unproven allegation can end the man’s career and reputation before he has time to defend himself. You cannot outrun the voice of a condemning mob when digital media exist. A segment of society has been brainwashed to persecute non-conforming individualists. Whoever is favored in our brave new world can falsely accuse whoever is not favored, social media will then act as the jury, and the mainstream media will team up with the politicians to execute the sentence. If this process fails, an actual courtroom is nearby to ruin the accused (usually a white man) financially. 

Huxley predicted that social conditioning from the time of infancy would be accomplished by the state (pp. 285, 334.) Some students at Portland State University stormed out of a lecture room recently because a person on a panel stated that women and men are physiologically different. Conditioning from cradle to adulthood is likely the cause of such hysteria. Huxley predicted the surge in prescription drug use by which people are made sedate and controllable (pp. 285, 339, 340, 343, 346.) In a Brave New World, Soma is the people’s religion (p. 338.) This is a pity, for “there are certain occasions when we ought to be tense” (p. 344.) Yes, we ought to be tense when our leaders are populating our nations with uneducated, dangerous immigrants from failed states in order to retain power by their votes. We ought to be doubly tense when we are forced to subsidize these clans to secure the tyranny.

Huxley in 1958: “For what is now merely science fiction will have become everyday political fact” (p. 357.) For the most part and for now in 2018, we are living in what Huxley termed the ‘non-violent totalitarianism’ that manipulators run as they wish (p. 394.)

We must take note of what parties and which people are exercising Brave New World tyranny; then we need to join those who are hard at work trying to take society back to an equable state wherein liberty and peace of mind are more non-fiction than fantasy. We must learn to apply the books that we read.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

TRUMP THE STATESMAN (A SONNET FOR THE MAN OF 2017)




Once in awhile—no, more rarely than that,
A time or two, or ‘once upon a time,’
A man steps forward, endorses a pact,
Then starts to enforce it, line upon line.
Who dares to rail when finally a statesman
Discharges duty with all of his might?
What kind of pest, that kind of citizen?
‘Crapweasel,’ says Malkin, or parasite.
Who are they, really, who in Washington?
McCain, McConnell…so many are red, 
Every democrat, House Speaker Ryan,
‘The Cartel in DC,’ thanks good ole Ted!
Man’s worst enemies are those of his house,
Even a daughter! if not his dear spouse. 



For those who are not up on the political facts, some of the words and phrases in my simple sonnet need to be explained. ‘Crapweasel’ is an epithet that appears in the subtitle of Michelle Malkin’s latest book. Those who are ‘red’ are republican. Trump’s daughter Ivanka is a deluded leftist. His wife I do not know about; therefore, ‘if not his dear spouse.’ And Ted Cruz labeled politicians in Washington who collude in the interest of themselves at the expense of the American people, ‘the Washington Cartel.’ 

Arguably against more opposition than any president has ever faced, President Trump has done wonders to resolve domestic problems and foreign predicaments. To name only two of his significant feats: the American economy has picked up substantially, and North and South Korea are engaging each other in conversation. The friendly talk going on in Korea may be nothing but the accidental result of Trump’s foreign policy. Even the fallout from how he acts is often salutary; such is the wisdom of this man’s mature approach. I would not be shocked if North Korea began to noticeably westernize during Trump’s administration on account of his powerful sway. Would it not be wonderful if it ceased to be a dictatorship, or at least one as strict and insular as it presently is? President Trump has already accomplished more than I expected he would, though it may be that, under pressure, he will bend on immigration, and thus, fatally diminish his basic support system. The man deserves, nevertheless, to be honored for all the good that he has done in 2017. Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize even before he began to manifestly tear down and destroy; Trump faces a possible coup for building his country up and for standing up for it while abroad. Obama was celebrated in spite of exposing his citizens to mortal danger; Trump is derided for doing his utmost to protect all Americans, even the ones who call for his assassination.    

This sonnet appears on my modest blog before it appears anywhere else because I am the one who wrote it. Though my sonnet is less remarkable than those composed by Shakespeare, it is nonetheless Shakespearean in form.

Monday, November 20, 2017

CONSERVATIVE RADIO PRIDE


I keep up with politics through radio broadcasts. The radio host who best informs me along that line—one of my best discoveries for figuring politics out, is Mark Levin. I listen to his broadcast regularly, at least some of it, and I have gained much understanding through him. No one speaks the truth about Washington DC with as much passion as he does while maintaining as much hatred of corruption as he does. One cannot love one’s country without hating what destroys its goodness and greatness. Mark Levin is a man that the founding fathers would not be ashamed of, which is about the best definition of a patriot that one could come up with. 

There is no sensationalism on the Mark Levin program. Nor does he promise coverage on a story that he saves until the last minute, like certain hosts on Fox do in order to hold listeners hostage. He does participate in commercials, which I hate. He has developed a manner of slipping seamlessly into his pitch in order to trick listeners into hearing these commercials. But I can put up with this because he seems to actually use the products that he endorses, and because I’m usually speedy enough to mute the radio before the pitch has a chance to take off. 

I have been listening to Mark Levin for several years now. During this time, I have noticed something creep into his disposition—something that is beginning to dull the luster of his passion. Mark Levin is not a theologian; I do not expect him to know the Bible very well. But he does remark on religion sometimes. I gather from some of his statements that his view is that any religion is fine as long as it includes a level of morality that does not undermine the certificates that the republic was founded on. That he seems to hold this view of religion does not surprise me; most conservative radio hosts believe exactly that. This view of religion will prove, in the end, to have been less than adequate. It is a religion of works, not grace. It is a religion of mere morality. We should not expect Christian virtue in persons who are not Christian; that said, the words ‘conservative’ and ‘pride’ should not be found together. 

Like other radio hosts that have become popular, Mark has enveloped himself in a protective bubble that only his favorites know how to penetrate. It is triste when persons become remote on account of their celebrity status. To some extent, their inaccessibility is unavoidable because of the volume of mail that comes their way. They can’t pay attention to, much less consider, every concern. Any warnings that they might have listened to for their own good are never heard; and therefore they continue hazarding themselves. Proverbs 16.18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” This verse is one of the most frequently quoted, surely, in the whole history of Bible dissemination. Rightly so, for pride is one of the sins that men are most often guilty of, and in peril because of. I agree with Mark that we should not be cheerleaders; we should criticize as well as praise, whenever we perceive that someone on our side deserves it. We both disagree with Reagan on that point. A person who does not want his listeners to be mere cheerleaders should welcome, then, reproof from a friend. Proverbs 27.6: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” 

Mark Levin is not my personal friend. I have never seen him. I am not even on the outer edge of his inner circle. Nevertheless, we are on the same side politically. So, in that sense, the man is my friend. His political views are essentially the same as mine: Judeo-Christian/Capitalist. If we are wise to pay attention when political foes accuse us of pride, it must be foolish to dismiss a warning that comes from a friend. That pride goes before a fall, only a fool will deny; that it bodes well to heed the warning of a friend is obvious. 

Mark Levin has become proud—sort of puffed up about himself. He yells a lot; but that’s righteous indignation. He calls people names; but that’s because he’s furious. He does impressions; but those are funny, if not called for. He can be rude; but that’s because he’s impatient. His intro waves him in as ‘the great one’; but this preamble is part of his old pride, not the growing pride that I am referring to. So what is it? What do I mean when I say that he has become, or is becoming, proud? Here are a few examples. (1) The man frequently refers to his ratings, even while he prefaces the reference with something like, “Now I could sit here and talk about my ratings….” It is pride that makes him talk about his ratings in spite of his promise not to do so. (2) He is proud of other radio hosts repeating what he has to say, even while he denounces them for sharing the information. He is in the vanguard, you see; they are just ‘backbenchers,’ which is precisely what he calls them. I agree that they are, in fact, backbenchers, but it is far from humble of Levin to state the fact. He should leave it to others to do so. Proverbs 27.2: “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” Mark is Jewish; he should know the Old Testament just a bit. (3) He gets upset when others use the word ‘Statist’ to identify the political strain that Obama wielded in Washington, as if no one else has ever used the term. That’s pride again. (4) When he is mentioned in the news, he reaches for a pretext to bring that into discussion. This is prideful behavior. (5) Sometimes he asks his call screener to clear the board to make way for a new question that he has, which means that the callers who have been waiting for an hour or more to speak to ‘the great one’ are dismissed. It all comes down to this: he thinks he is greater than he is. This is especially noticeable when he slips into his affected lisp. Let’s make the lisp point number six. (6) “People ask me,” he says, “how can you write such scholarship?” Has anyone ever asked him that? Is he that much of a scholar? It is far from difficult to find fault with his ‘scholarship.’ He points out, reading from one of his books, that tyrants have ‘infinite ideas.’ Is that great writing? To say that tyrants have an infinite number of ideas would still be incorrect, but at least it would be closer to the truth than to say they have ‘infinite ideas,’ for ideas are not infinite, are they? After reading from the stock of his ‘intellectual property,’ as he terms it, he says, with an affected lisp, “I should send them my books.” This affectation is revolting to listen to. When speakers become proud, they try to sound important. But in trying to sound important, they expose their pride. They get so big in their own eyes that they must add something extra to the sound they make. The lisp is the weight that so many of them think will convey their importance. The fake lisp is a common fault, frequently found among prominent ministers. The tone he uses when he says the word ‘substantive’ is not as irritating as the lisp, but it’s full of pomposity as well. I could have made that into point number seven. But I’m trying to go easy on him.   

In 2015, Levin had an amateur author on his program. He was trying to help promote her book. After calling her book something like ‘substantive’ and ‘fulsome’ (which words he uses to characterize practically every book he likes), he nevertheless stated that her book was not a book of ‘political philosophy’ or anything like that—just before he added, “leave that to me.” Yes, yes, pat pat on the head, little startup author, nice going, but leave the hard stuff for me to write. That kind of communication oozes with the slick oil of perilous pride.      
    
It is all the more prideful when we consider that he does not write political philosophy. He thinks he does; he says he does; but, in fact, he doesn’t. He has not written volumes of political philosophy, as he regularly boasts, unless his Liberty Amendments qualify, which I doubt. Let’s consider the two books of his that I have read and that he thinks are volumes of political philosophy: Liberty and Tyranny and Ameritopia. Can these books be called volumes of political philosophy? No, they are summaries of political philosophy, which difference is as huge as the disparity that exists between a limerick and a poem or between a book and the CliffsNotes on said book. It is one thing to summarize the thoughts of a political theory; it is altogether another world to hatch the theory itself. It is the difference between taking notes from a sermon, and constructing the sermon that the notes derive from. And yet Mr. Levin has the bad habit of tiring his audience with the story of how he writes books more ‘substantively’ than other authors do! He labors at his research, you see, while they just thoughtlessly scribble! Mr. Levin ought to take note of this: writing political philosophy is labor; taking notes on political philosophy is light duty. I have given both his books high ratings on Amazon, but not on the false notion that they are books of political philosophy! Take a peek at the chapter titles for each book; the proof of what I say will jump right out at you. In Liberty and Tyranny we have chapter titles like this: ‘On Faith and Founding’; ‘On the Constitution’; ‘On Federalism’: summary, summary, summary, and (I’m being generous because I’m going easy on him) commentary, commentary, commentary. If he had written a book that federalism could be founded on, that would have been political philosophy. In Ameritopia we have chapter headings like the following: ‘Plato’s Republic and the Perfect Society’; ‘Thomas More’s Utopia’; ‘Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan and the All-Powerful State.’ Again, summary, summary, summary, with (I’m being generous again) commentary, commentary, commentary. The author of the Republic wrote political philosophy; the author of Utopia wrote political philosophy; the author of Leviathan wrote political philosophy; Mark Levin did not write anything but summaries of, with commentaries on, political philosophy. That is all he did in Liberty and Tyranny and Ameritopia. They are New York Times bestsellers; but they are summaries of, and commentaries on, political philosophy, not actual exhibits of the science. His books becoming bestsellers has a lot to do, I think, with the increase of his pride.  

This demeanor, people, is worrisome to the point of deserving a warning. This prideful manner is what it is like to have a head that is just about fat enough to offset one’s balance. Then comes the fall, and there are many ways that that can happen. So my advice to Mr. Levin is that he set some time aside for reading and meditating on the Proverbs of God. Proverbs is a great headshrinker; it is the place where even the fattest head can be shrunk back to its normal size. Many kernels of the gospel may be consumed there, moreover, which content is nothing less than the Bread of Heaven in Old Testament form, and which is, without a doubt, the way  of salvation from sin and hell that each person needs, no matter how pure and decent his politics may be. I would not recommend that book of his dad’s on Proverbs, either, but the actual Proverbs. “Pride goeth before a fall.”



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

THE BIBLE AND THE DSM



What I have to say about prescription drugs is a non-medical opinion. Do your own research and make your own decision. I am not a medical doctor. 

The DSM stands for ‘diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.’ Beware of taking your child to the doctor on account of your child being disobedient, restless, anxious, or disturbed for any reason that does not involve an obvious physiological problem. Even if your child is acting up or depressed because of a physiological problem, beware, for the doctors are trained to use brain-damaging, mind-altering drugs to cure your child of whatever he or she might be experiencing or displaying. Beware of antidepressants of any kind, especially those that are called SSRIs. Such drugs make energetic, vivacious persons into content unthinking zombies, and they lead many others to suicide. The fact that one cannot go off this kind of antidepressant without an increased risk of suicide is proof that the SSRI is not cure. It is better not to begin taking a substance that is extremely risky to quit. In my opinion (though I am not a doctor) a person who is on antidepressants of any sort might as well risk quitting them if he might have a chance, then, at living rather than merely existing. It is not very useful to be a walking-dead zombie.           

If you take your child to a doctor because you don’t like something about your child’s behavior, the odds are that the doctor will give you a questionnaire to fill out. Before you fill this questionnaire out, know this: if you give honest answers, your child will fail the test on some level or other, for the questions are calculated to achieve that result. Every child expresses a wide range of moods for a variety of reasons. Every doctor does too, for that matter. This does not mean that a drug should be prescribed. The questionnaire that your doctor gives you to fill out comes from the ‘experts’ who are in charge of deciding what disorders will be part of the DSM, the ‘diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.’

The latest DSM is the DSM 5. The DSM keeps changing because some disorders are periodically renamed or revised; as well, new disorders are regularly added to the list. 

Let’s look at some of the things that these ‘experts’ have decided to name ‘disorders’ that psychotropic drugs will be used to ‘treat.’ 

There is the ‘Hoarding Disorder,’ which means the inability to give up possessions. So a person tends to be a ‘pack-rat.’ Never mind why he is a pack-rat or how he became a pack-rat. He is a pack-rat, and the ‘experts’ have a drug for him. Jesus would tell the pack-rat to give to the poor and to be mindful of storing up treasures in heaven instead. But the ‘experts’ must think they are wiser than Jesus. Just think about it. You’re a pack-rat, and the cure, supposedly, is a drug. 

There is the ‘Binge Eating Disorder.’ The Bible calls it gluttony. A person could be a glutton for many reasons. What does the Bible say to a glutton? Does it counsel him to go to a witch-doctor who will whip up an herb for him to eat at a specified time every day? No, the Bible reproves him for his gluttony and warns him that such behavior is not in line with a proper association with God. 

Let’s look at some of the revised diagnoses; that is, diagnoses that are still in force, just revised a little. First, we have the ‘Pedophilic Disorder.’ A pervert likes to molest children, and the best thing the ‘experts’ can come up with is a drug. Jesus warns the pedophile of hell and judgment, which is a pretty good hint that we should deal with perverts by the force of a just law commended to our use in Romans 13. But the ‘experts’ would drug the pervert instead.

Next, we have the ‘Substance Use Disorder.’ A person becomes a drug addict of some sort, and the ‘experts’ decide that the solution to this is a drug to replace what the drug addict is addicted to. The Bible warns the drinker of the negative results of alcohol excess, and it does so in order to make him reconsider and to make him reflect on the God who has ordained these consequences. But today’s ‘experts’ have a better idea, apparently: prescribe a drug. The moral problem of alcohol addiction is being called a disease now. And it is because of the ‘experts’ and their DSM. Drinking to excess is not called a disease in the Bible. The Bible overrules everything and everyone. 

Next, we have the ‘Specific Learning Disorder.’ A ‘specifier’ will determine what area of learning the subject is disordered in: whether reading, writing, or arithmetic. That is almost word for word from the DSM’s own page. So your kid is slow to learn his ABCs and his 123s, and the only thing the ‘experts’ can come up with is drug use for an answer. The Bible says to train and to correct. The ‘experts’ say to give your kid a drug. 

What are some of the disorders currently being considered? There is the ‘Internet Use Gaming Disorder.’ The truth about this one is that the parents either can’t or won’t control their kids’ use of media devices, and the solution is to blame the kids, go to the doctor, and put the kids on drugs.

What are some of the disorders that have been rejected? Well, they’ve been rejected for now. How benevolent the ‘experts’ are. They will probably be rehashed into more acceptable nomenclature for the DSM 6. By that time, the public will be even more na├»ve and passive than it is now. Then the proposed disorders that are currently rejected will be accepted. So what do we have? We have the ‘Hypersexual Disorder.’ The Bible calls it sin, wickedness, or abomination, each of which requires repentance unto God and faith in Christ. But the ‘experts’ have a drug that will make everything right. Next, we have ‘Parental Alienation Syndrome.’ The background to this one? Parents who got divorced or decided to separate, or maybe a child was made through an adulterous fling. What is the cure for the child who becomes alienated because of the sin of divorce, separation, adultery, or fornication? What is the cure for the sin that the child had nothing to do with? Surprise! Or is it? Give that kid a drug because he or she can’t handle the consequences of the sins of its parents! Why not drug the parents? They deserve to be drugged against their wills more than the child does, don’t they? Well, at least we can be encouraged that often the parents do get the drugs that they deserve because the guilty parents often acquiesce to taking the drugs too. Synthetic drugs are becoming the number one solution to sins as old as Genesis—for the whole family. The chief concern is that these drugs that produce side effects, including suicide, are frequently administered to kids in order to solve ethical issues that immoral parents are the root cause of.   

Most doctors are just following protocol. They are not as guilty as the ‘experts’ who are being manipulated and bought (usually by plane tickets to exotic places) by the drug companies. But even the local GP or the local specialist is sometimes being bought by these drug companies. A relative of mine has a concubine who works for a doctor. She gets free plane tickets from her doctor/employer sometimes. My suspicion is that the tickets come from the overflow of gifts that the drug companies hand out to doctors who prescribe promiscuously. 

Parents need to pay attention to their child’s social, behavioral, or moral failures. More importantly, parents or guardians need to focus on themselves and then sort themselves out. Issues in the child are best resolved by treating the root cause, which, these days, is usually degenerate parenting. Are parents and/or guardians not the underlying cause, usually, of what the child alone gets blamed for? Observe what’s going on, and that is the conclusion you will come to. Children are no longer disciplined, guided, and given stable homes, which neglect leads to their acting out, which, in turn, leads to prescriptions, dependencies, and then side-effects and often fatalities.   

Instead of filling out questionnaires that are contrived to derive answers that will convince you to put your child on drugs, why not read your Bibles and then question yourselves about your permissive, worldly lifestyles that cause ‘alienation’ or ‘specified learning’ deficiencies in your children? Why not deal with the root of the issue (the parents and guardians) before considering a knee-jerk reaction to treat (with brain-altering synthetic substances) the rotten fruit (the behavior of children) that springs from the root? Now that would be hard work. That would be mortifying. That would astonish your friends and family. That would be biblical. That would be the best thing for your child. 

Why not bring the parents and principal guardians together in order to hammer out some agreement in order to give the child a more settled, serene, structured environment? For example, if the child lives in two homes because of irresponsible, immoral parents, how about making those two homes harmonious in what is allowed and disallowed? How about shuffling parents from home to home instead? That is what one wise judge ordered. How about canceling some programs that the child is involved in, in order for that child to gain a sense of stability and routine? Children need to feel lovingly hedged in so they can concentrate and acquire interests. Hustling them off to programs and trips will make their lives more harried than they already are. The chief point, though, is, they have no need of drugs to cure their response to the moral failures of their parents. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

A WORLDLY MINISTRY



[If Hank Hanegraaff is still on the air, I don’t care to know. His ministry was thoroughly worldly by 2007 when I sent this letter to his head office. Now that he has converted to unorthodox Eastern Orthodoxy, we know that his ministry, no matter how rich it has become financially, is made of wood, hay, and stubble spiritually. When I wrote this letter a decade ago, he was undergoing a financial crisis. That was his complaint, anyway. In the letter, I addressed his malicious accusations, his ongoing greed, his money-making schemes, his fads, his boasts, his guests, his products, and his general worldliness. I did it because I was concerned about where his ministry was headed. I received no answer.] 

December 2007

CRI
PO BOX 8500
Charlotte, North Carolina
28271
USA

Dear CRI:

Things continue to go backward for you, it seems, financially. But until Hank owns up to the mistakes he has made, and until he reverses the worldly trend he is on, it is likely that the program will continue to slide. Oh sure, Hank will be able to get money in by cleverness, finally; but who wants to succeed by arm-of-man tactics? Will there be any reward ‘for time and for eternity’ for those who achieve their goals in this way? What does Hank need to do? 

(1) He needs to apologize for his anti-Semitic accusations toward those who believe differently than him about end-times prophecy. (I am not a Pre-triber.) 

(2) He needs to quit his money-soliciting inventions, like Listener Appreciation Week. Why? Because the thing is a lie. Listener Appreciation Week is not about you. It is about CRI begging for your money. Is it reasonable to expect the Lord to bless a lie? If Hank’s listeners were the critical thinkers that Hank claims to have made them, they’d see his self-praising, money-grabbing charade for what it is. “Our goal is to express our gratitude,” says the narrator about Listener Appreciation Week. Why, then, for Listener Appreciation Week, does The Bible Answer Man ask people to call in to express their gratitude? Because Listener Appreciation Week is a lying scheme by which to secure money from people who are easy to deceive.

(3) Hank needs to wake up to his worldliness, and then put it away. How does he placate listeners who might be concerned about him promoting the reading of the Bible by Hollywood actors? He states that these actors should lend their God-given talents to this work. Does God really want his holy word spoken to his children by an impenitent, godless class of people who remind us more of citizens of Sodom than of his kingdom? Shall we listen to God’s inspired word through voices owned by men and women whose inflections and tones must forever remind us of the base characters that these actors have portrayed, the sins these actors are associated with, and the immoral lives they have flaunted before the public? Do I want to be reminded, every time I hear the words of Moses, of some lewd fellow, the worldly characters he has played, and the actor’s crude lifestyle? If I listen to this sordid reading of the Scriptures often enough, will I not be in danger of hearing the ring of this despicable Hollywood actor’s voice every time I read the Sacred Text? Hank is so willfully blind to these dangers, or so desperate to get proceeds in, that he hastily sells the production by pitching it in anger and frustration. “We are making this accessible to you!” he growls. Such is his anxiety to generate interest in the abominable thing, that he betrays his own poor judgment by pitching it in the spirit of which the thing itself is possessed! The Holy Word being mouthed by hypocrites and fornicators is an abomination, if anything is. Here is proof: “Excellent speech becometh not a fool” (Proverbs 17.7.) And what does God have to say to the man who puts hypocrites in honor? “As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool” (Proverbs 26.8.) 

(4) Hank needs to stop following after fads, which, ironically, is what he accuses those who read stuff like the Left Behind series of doing (not that I would read something like that.) What is Max McClean’s theatrics but a fad? What is Illumina but a fad? What does the title of Hank’s latest book of fiction suggest but a fad? Hank doesn’t believe in Armageddon. But to sell his book, he doesn’t mind using the word Armageddon in his title. Why? Because he knows that a title with that word in it is just the thing that will appeal to those who follow after fads. 

(5) Hank needs to give no more superlative praises to commonplace items. “This is a must,” or “This is not an option,” he says. As if there isn’t better stuff out there than what he advertises. As if we absolutely need what Hank Hanegraaff says we need. So many of Hank’s own sins are as clear to me as the sun at noonday, yet I have not read one single book that I remember him saying I need! One does not need the material that he sells in order to be enlightened.  

(6) Hank needs to obey Paul’s pastoral letters, and no more set women in places of authority. Here is an example why. He had Gretchen Pasantino on the program. She was on the show promoting some Christian-like participation in Halloween. A witch called in to commend Gretchen for giving people a proper representation of what witchcraft is instead of a caricature. Then Pasantino went on to explain that not only did she practice the golden rule, but the platinum also, the one about esteeming others better than yourself. The Wiccan then took this at face value, exclaiming happily that they could learn from each other, and that each had his or her own way to achieve the same good results, &c. In other words, the witch was saying how glad she was that we were all on the same team, and Gretchen was stuck for a reply. Gretchen sprung her own trap by misinterpreting Scripture. What she calls the platinum rule is a reference to how believers ought to esteem each other, not how believers ought to esteem witches. Hank then had to bail Gretchen out by drawing the witch out to admit her worship of many gods besides Jesus. Then he passed the conversation over to Gretchen so she could redeem her mistake. As articulate as the weaker vessel can sometimes be, she is unfit for spiritual leadership. 

(7) Hank needs to quit looking through the grid of the material he is so frantic to hawk. One man phoned in to ask about when one should quit praying for a thing. But he got no answer because Hank used the question as a ‘springboard’ to advertise his wares. 

(8) He needs to mortify his appeals for money, period. I went on his website the other day to see what it’s like. I saw this segment called, A Letter from Hank. This letter was just another, yes another, as if we needed to hear it—appeal for money! Indeed, there were at least three appeals in there!

This ministry is on a downtrend. Hank’s recent intolerance and accusatory attitude toward Christians of a certain prophetic stripe has caused much of his financial embarrassment. But if Hank’s new pugilism were not more than what the Bible warrants, would we not expect the Lord to uphold him and even increase his finances during the fight? When we stand on an issue worth dividing over (do secondary prophetic details qualify?) then—only then, do we have cause to hope that the good Lord will create new resources to replace the ones that our righteous stand caused to dry up. Here is an example from the life of Spurgeon, a man who knew what hills to be prepared to die on:   

“During another year the Lord has been exceedingly gracious to the various
institutions of which this magazine is the representative and right hand. Our practical protest against error has lost us many a friend; or, rather, has
winnowed away much of the chaff from the heap of our acquaintances.
Naturally, it might have been expected that this would tell upon the funds
of the Orphanage, College, Colportage, Evangelists’ Society, or some
other of our agencies; but our resources are beyond the reach of human
power, seeing we have all along drawn our supplies direct from the
Fountain-head. We have received, not less, but more of pecuniary supplies,
since certain great ones threatened to dry up the springs. They cannot stay
so much as a drop of heaven’s rain from the plant of the Lord’s right hand
planting. For this, with a deep, adoring reverence, we say emphatically,
‘The Lord be magnified.’”

The reason why Hank cannot say the same is because of the sins that I have been careful and gracious to inform his ministry about, not the least of which is his sin of shunning, and railing at, brothers who do not agree with him on secondary points.

Letters just like this one need to be put right on Hank Hanegraaff’s desk. Is it honest to read only letters of praise over the air? Are there no critical letters to choose from?

MINISTERIAL AVARICE



[Ten years ago I predicted that Hank Hanegraaff would suffer a great fall because of his pursuit of money. Now Mr. Hanegraaff is an Eastern Orthodox man. What greater fall can a professing Christian have than to adopt a works based salvation, which is no salvation at all? I wrote the letter to his staff at the branch in Canada.]  

June 2007

CRI Canada
56051 Airways P.O.
Calgary, Alberta
T2E 8K5

Dear CRI:

Have you noticed any negative changes in Mr. Hanegraaff’s ministry since about ten years ago? I used to enjoy the program. Now I listen mostly just to keep an eye on him. Inquirers are still being directed away from the cults. Many questions about the Bible are well answered. Sometimes Christians are edified. Sinners are told how to be saved. That’s all good. That’s all so good that Hank Hanegraaff should be admonished to repent of his faults in order that God will continue to bless. I have a long list of concerns. Just a few of these ought to be enough to convince you to voice your own disapproval to the main branch for the ministry’s own good. 

Concern number one: Hank’s blunt appeals for money. I understand that Hank is often distraught over the looming possibility that he might have to diminish his station coverage. But he should get no sympathy for being disrespectful and mean on account of the stress he is under. “I know that must be tough.” Is that a Christian way to ask listeners to dial the phone to give Hank more money? Is that kind of rude petition for funds even tolerated in the infommercial world? Can it even be found among the prosperity televangelists? Should anyone give when asked like that, even if their contribution is ‘for time and for eternity’? Should anyone working for this man be pleased to live off proceeds gained that way? Are you okay with hungry, angry appeals for money? Be careful to make your work follow you into eternity by way of reward. Refusing to reprove your leader works against that. 


Concern number two: Hank’s tricky appeals for money. For instance, consider his ‘listener appreciation week.’ First, he extended it to two weeks instead of one, which made ‘listener appreciation week’ a lie. But it was a lie in another way too. He said that “listener appreciation week is about you.” But it seems that it is more about something else. Listeners are urged to phone in and record their thank yous to CRI. Then these recordings are used as persuading preludes to appeals for money! Self-praise is one of the haughtiest sins among those that are prohibited in Proverbs. But Hank, a man who has memorized all the proverbs, went even further: he asked for praises. Proverbs 27.2: “Let another man praise thee”—that’s okay. Ask your listeners to praise thee—that’s wrong.  And what if one should not only ask for praises, but then go on to trickily use these praises for financial gain? Money gained by tricks, crass tactics, and tacky epithets like ‘listener appreciation week’ is what the Bible calls filthy lucre. And what does filthy lucre suggest but greed? Hank Hanegraaff is becoming haughty and greedy; he is becoming angry and mean. Hank is becoming angry and mean because of haughtiness and greed.

Concern number three: Hank’s rhetorical appeals for money. Conveniently, and quite often, instead of answering the question put to him, Hank goes on about hermeneutics and about ‘debating vigorously without dividing over an issue,’ and by this rhetorical skill leads into another extemporaneous commercial for his hermeneutical Apocalypse Code, as if the contrived commercials were not enough. And what is that but just another appeal for money?

What are the consequences of an unchecked zeal for money and book sales? Here’s one that I remember. A newly converted woman called in about her husband not being converted yet and not being awakened yet to the inadequacies of that eschatological system taught by Mr. Jack van Impe, whose program the husband was following with great interest. Hank immediately jumped all over that call as a springboard to advertise his Apocalypse Code, but said not one word about how this woman ought to be careful not to discourage her husband from watching his beloved program in case the Lord might be using the show to convert the man by. I am not a disciple of Jack van Impe, but once I sort of was—because I was converted through watching repeats of his program. Let’s suppose that Hank advertised his book in this instance, not for money, but only to teach his position. Fine, but his position on a secondary matter like eschatological details should not override and should never exclude the primary matter of someone’s potential salvation!

What are some other consequences of Hank’s behavior? A guest told Hank that he was like the apostle Paul. Men of God of old would have interjected at that point. We should be too humble to accept such overblown compliments, in particular when we are hosting a Bible program. By his own admission, Hank is ‘addicted to golf.’ We have a biblical right to expect Christian radio hosts to have long ‘put away childish things’ (1 Cor. 13.11.) Once we become addicted to a childish thing, we are soon on our way to promoting other childish things, even to advancing a childish thing that is irreverent. Hank is now promoting Max McLain’s theatrical reading of certain Christian classics. Jonathan Edwards read his sermon called, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, in a monotone, and many were saved through it, says Hank. But Max reads it theatrically. Will that do any good? Probably not. Max is an actor. That’s what the word ‘hypocrite’ means. You can look it up in your Strong’s. And so Hank is promoting a hypocritical reading of a text that God used to convict and save sinners by. But here is something far worse. Hank promotes the hypocritical reading of Sacred Scripture by this same man!

In light of all this, which is just a portion of the concerns that might be brought up, is it possible that it is not God’s will to increase the scale of Hank Hanegraaff’s broadcast? I didn’t even mention how he promotes commonplace books by calling them ‘blockbusters’ and ‘must-haves,’ &c.; nor how he champions women who are in male ministerial roles; nor even how his new eschatological position (an issue we should be able to ‘debate vigorously without dividing over’) is causing great and unnecessary division among God’s people and in God’s churches. It is plain by Hank’s hotheaded speeches directed at certain Dispensationalists and his accusations against them of heretical and anti-Semitic intent that he has decided to stand or fall on this secondary non-essential doctrine of End Times particulars. What irony!—because if Hank Hanegraaff were to phone in to ‘the Bible answer man’ for advice, he would be told—: “That is not a hill I’d be willing to die on.” 

It should be plain to any discerning Christian that Hank Hanegraaff should be put on the trimming lathe and left there until a good deal of his worldliness gets shaved off, even if that means his program gets trimmed in the process. The alternative, without reform, is that he will suffer a mighty fall through pride. Will you confront him over his faults? Will your reward ‘for time and for eternity’ be negatively affected if you refuse to confront him?   


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

MINISTERIAL KNAVERY



Is ‘The Bible Answer Man’ beyond reproach?

[This is an article that I wrote years ago, maybe around 2007 or so, about a well-known evangelical radio host who has just turned, ten years later, to Eastern Orthodoxy, the idolatrous, iconic religion that is, essentially, just Roman Catholicism without the pope heading it up. I never got around to posting the article. I will do it now just to have it out there.] 

There is a man called ‘The Bible Answer Man.’ I listened to his radio broadcast, almost daily, for years. In the main, I agree with his doctrine. But this Christian man is far from faultless. My letters of exhortation to him have been ignored. Probably they were screened, discovered to be negative, and then swept aside. I doubt that they ever got to his desk. The staff can’t sweep any letters from my blog though. Hank is a big fish—too big to be caught reading any reproofs of how he runs his ministry. But some folks will come across this letter, hopefully even some of the ones who were duped into sending him money.  

‘The Bible Answer Man’ is fond of using acronyms to teach by. I have put my exhortation into this form in order for him to learn something about himself. The acronym is also his name—H-A-N-K—for ease of remembering what he should repent of. 

The letter H is for ‘Haughty.’ This is a good old word that suits Hank’s proud attitude about the unremarkable books and products that he promotes on his program. These things are presented as ‘incredible’ or ‘amazing’ or ‘must have’ resources. This exaggerated, over-the-top opinion is especially offensive in the promotion of one’s own work, and is about as far from the spirit of humility as the shadowed dung heap compares to the brightness of the sun. Even modern novelists express more reserve about the worth of their books than Hank does. The Bible does not allow for self-praise, no matter how brilliant one’s work may be. And Hank’s works are frequently less than brilliant. Take his Flip Chart, for example, which is supposed to contain, under the acronym D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E, the essentials of the faith. He says this kind of thing has never been done before and that it is the most significant thing of its kind to date. That is an embarrassingly haughty thing to say. Here are the doctrines he presents: Deity, Original Sin, Canon, Trinity, Resurrection, Incarnation, New Creation, Eschatology. First, there are more essentials than just eight. For instance, do we not need a J for Justification, an F for Faith, et cetera? Second, this quaint acronym is incongruous. For instance, the D stands for Deity; the E stands for Eschatology. Deity is a specific doctrine. Eschatology is a general term that contains doctrines. Eschatology is not a doctrine any more than a shell is the nut it contains. The acronym may be a useful tool for remembering some essential teachings. But to promote it as the tool for defending the faith is absurd. Hank is haughty about many other items of similar, dubious merit. He should humble himself, and exercise restraint when advertising his stuff. 

The letter A is for ‘Avaricious.’ Here is another good old word to suit our purpose. Christians, more than everyone else, ought to be careful with money, especially if their money comes from donors. Take just one fact for proof that Hank lives lavishly off the proceeds of his donors, not modestly. He has confessed many times (though not with a view to repenting) to being addicted to golf. He admits to being addicted to it for about forty years. It is no secret that he plays golf often, that he has played it so much that he now can play it well, and that he plays in places prestigious enough to put him in company with some of the best known golfers in the world. But at what cost? It is not unreasonable to suppose that a golfer of his rank must spend more on the game than the whole salary of some his supporters. Moderation, not avarice (greed), should be the lifestyle of those who live off the charity of others. Hank urges his listeners to be responsible stewards by contributing to his ministry. But is that wise stewardship to trust your money to a man who throws so much of it around to feed his outrageously expensive habits? Should a man of God use the contributions he begs for to support golf, travel, and hobnobbing? What must the salary be that he allows for himself out of these charitable proceeds? (Just do a search on the internet to find out.) To say the least, the Bible does not commend prodigal behavior like this. 

The letter N stands for Nasty. Since he recently discovered what he believes is the gospel truth about eschatology, Hank has expressed an unchristian-like manner toward brothers in the ministry who hold end-time views that differ from his own but that are not heresies per se. In fact, when asked about end-times, he used to present the various views that fell within the pale of orthodoxy, and then leave it at that. Now he is combative. Here is what I mean. There are these Christians he calls ‘Christian Zionists.’ They are those whose aim and effort it is to reestablish the Jews in Palestine. (I am not one of them, incidentally.) Because they also believe in a future war in which multitudes of Jews will be killed there, Hank accuses them of evil intention, if not anti-Semitism. This is an unfair, ignorant accusation to make. These Zionists do not intend any harm. Hank should know better. He should imitate the great Jonathan Edwards, one of the scholars he promotes who really is deserving of high praise. Here is some of what Edwards said about Solomon Williams during a controversy on the doctrine of Communion. “My aim is not to beget in you an ill opinion of Mr. W….Men often do not see or allow the plain consequences of their own doctrines.” This is exactly the case with the Christian Zionists. Instead of accusing them of hatred, Hank should be gracious toward them.  

The letter K stands for Knavish. Here, I have had to resort, again, to a word not commonly used anymore in order to make my acronym work. Maybe my acronym is not as perfect as I would like, what with the use of three old-fashioned words beside one still currently in use. But at least my acronym is congruous where it matters most—each letter being specific to what I aim to show. Now, for the sake of brevity, just one example of knavish behavior. There is a command in the Bible against tooting your own horn. “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth” (Proverbs 27.2.) But Hank does worse even than the self-praise reprehended here, when he asks his listeners to phone in to say how the program has helped them! The Bible says to let others praise you. Hank nudges, asks, and even pleads for praise. And why does he do it? Here is where the knavery comes in. He uses these recordings of praise during ‘Listener Appreciation Week’—a sort of telethon he’s invented to drum up more financial support. And so he asks for praises, then plays these praises over the radio to set the listeners up just before he makes his appeal for money. This is what knavish behavior is. This is deceit with a capital D. That this scheme actually works is a pitiful testimony to how undiscerning the people who listen to his program really are. How ironic! The transmission of discernment skills to his listeners is one of the main objects of his ministry; and it is by his listeners’ lack of discernment that he draws money from them! But this is not all. ‘Listener Appreciation Week’ is then replayed just a few months after its first broadcast in order for the gimmick to pick up the stragglers who have not yet given. But herein the sin is compounded, for this is two weeks of knavery instead of one. A man who criticizes the ‘prosperity preachers’ must be faultless in how he prospers his own ministry. Hank Hanegraaff may not be a prosperity preacher, but by knavery he is a prosperity reaper. 

This is what the other portion of Hank's mail looks like—the critical portion that sheds an uncomfortable light on the darker elements of his ministry. To quote Hank, ‘Much more could be said.’ Regular listeners to his program will recognize the truth of this ‘Hankronym.’ And if these listeners read their Bibles attentively, they certainly will agree that Hank should repent without delay. Thankfully, this acronym is not very broad. But the sins represented by it are deep enough. He’s lucky I did not use his last name to frame my concerns.  

In case Hank reads this: this exposure could have been avoided if only you had been willing to receive more than just praises. Your ministry does much good. Please be humble and ask God to make you willing to reform. I have done this for your own good, and for the good of everyone listening. You know that what I have said is true. You cannot honestly deny it. Haughty, avaricious, nasty, and knavish—the words roll well together off the tongue. But they do not roll so well off the back. They will stick to you until you repent. May God bless you with repentance and ‘abiding, abundant fruit.’

[The heresies of the Eastern Orthodox Church are the same as those that are believed and practiced by the Roman Catholic Church: faith plus works for salvation, the worship of icons, prayers to saints, et cetera. So I must conclude my article, especially since Hank is a teacher, with what the apostle Paul says about gospels that do not conform to the perfect standard, gospels that 'pervert the gospel of Christ': "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1.8, 9.)]



Saturday, November 26, 2016

THE ALLEGED RISE OF FAKE NEWS


The CBC’s Cross-Country Check-Up for November 20th, 2016. The subject: the rise of fake news. Here is the CBC’s conclusion to why Donald Trump won the US election: Facebook is to blame because it did not censor ‘fake news’ enough. The CBC wants ‘fake news’ to be ‘stamped out.’ What the CBC calls fake news, of course, is just news that it doesn’t like—news that is more reliable than CBC spin, news that is more conservative than CBC Marxism, news that is more decent than CBC obscenity. The hidden reason for this episode was to gauge how much trust the CBC lost by its whitewash of Hillary Clinton and its slanderous treatment of Donald Trump. So, contrary to the usual protocol, some callers who disagreed with leftist talking points were allowed to get past the call screener. Here is how one such caller was treated. As he was informing the host that the CBC has refused to cover the Wikileaks revelations about Hillary Clinton’s corruption, the host hung up on him in mid-sentence. Then, when a caller compared Trump to Hitler, the host asked him to elaborate. The only hope that the CBC has of winning an argument is to disallow dissenting opinions. The CBC did not have a lot of credibility to lose. But it continues down its in-credible path, anyway, progressively plodding toward utter irresponsibility and irrelevancy. The CBC is not a proper Canadian Broadcasting Corporation because it does not tolerate the Canadian values of tolerance and free speech. Instead of our Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, we should call the CBC the Canadian Brainwashing Conduit or the Communist Broadcasting Channel. I don’t want to give the impression that the CBC is not sometimes entertaining. It occasionally is. The best part of this Cross-Country Check-Up episode was when the eleven year old boy called in to tell Canadians why global warming is a hoax. It’s pretty hard, even for a surly CBC host, to hang up on an eleven year old kid, though the host chided him for his ‘unorthodox’ belief. The boy obviously got his wise opinion from an alternative news source. Personnel at the CBC would like to stamp that news source out, whatever it is. They would rather keep kids in the dark than allow them the freedom to gain a little light. That’s how totalitarian Canadian Communism is. It’s just like every other form of Communism. Its goal is to control every aspect of an individual’s life. Its techniques are brainwashing, censorship, and coercion. To work at the CBC, you have to be willing to employ these techniques and to cultivate your skills at employing them.