Tag Archives: liberty

There are Answers: If We have Courage

This is the beginning of a series entitled, “There are Answers: If We Have Courage.” We will examine what many regard as intractable and unsolvable issues. We will fearlessly look at economic justice and the future of work, tax reform, immigration, Middle East policy, human identity, including gender, sexuality and transhumanism, racial tensions, religious freedom, academic and intellectual liberty, political polarization and principled compromise and global/local culture and life.

As always, we will distill insights from as many perspectives as possible – within the bounds of axiomatic principles and critical thinking. Conservatives may balk as the complexities of institutional transformation are evaluated. Liberals will worry that emphases on personal responsibility and certain enduring values will reverse gains in liberty. Good! We need deliverance from narrow ideological agitation propaganda.

In this essay, two issues foundational to all the rest will be examined: 1) the crisis of human identity/nature (anthropology); and 2) the crisis of objective knowledge and truth (epistemology). Without clarity on who we are and what we can know, all dialogue devolves into subjective opinion, with any critical comments deemed intolerant or a microaggression. Without such clarity, human freedom is confined to certain private experiences and life is increasingly controlled by a totalitarian state, since people “need help and cannot care for themselves.”

What does being human mean? Diverse philosophical and religious traditions answer this question in a variety of ways, from accidental evolutionary materialism to bearing the image of God. Are we merely highly evolved animals or divinely-crafted beings called to steward the rest of creation? Is human nature defined by physical processes alone or in there a unique interaction of body and spirit, brain and mind? In addition to our basic identity, are humans (like most of nature) either male or female or is there an almost infinite spectrum of identities?

Regardless of worldview, most people through most of history have not questioned the unique nature of human beings and the basic binary realities of male and female identity, albeit with a variety of opinions of erotic affections and actions.

Going forward, our American and global experiments in ordered liberty rooted in truth and virtue rest on humankind being uniquely endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights and responsibilities. Anything less than this and we devolve into arguments over blood and soil, raw scientism or fantastical speculations on human/machine singularity.

What about our foundations for knowledge? Until a half-century ago in the West, a basic correspondence theory of truth allowed for both cohesiveness and spirited debate, unity of essential facts and diversity of interpretations. No one argued whether certain events actually happened, though their impact and interpretation made for lively discussion. Today, we are told that there is no objective “there” – all we can do is interpret stories and hopefully find some convergence with shared narratives and opinions. Former President Obama’s two (!) pre-presidential autobiographies are perfect examples of ideological fabrication. Why do we need his “composite” portraits of friends and mentors? Why can we not have access to his records and writings? Why? Because history no longer stands on its own – it must serve the purposes of political advocacy. Beyond historical narrative, our epistemic crisis has fueled the same subjectivism for private and public morality, gender confusion and even allowed some to question full freedom of conscience and speech!

The uniqueness of being human and the knowability of the world are essential for grounding all arguments over justice and truth, love and human flourishing. Instead of marginalizing philosophical traditions, we should rediscover the wisdom of ancient texts and the goodness of contemporary research and synthesize these insights, so we can have a basis for social cohesion.

Our future as a nation – indeed as a human race – rests on this.

Living In-Between: Observations from 2017

We see so many “resistance” movements. How about a “surrender” movement?
Today I surrender…NOT to fatalism, but to:
The holy love of the Trinity. The reconciling and restoring mission of Jesus.
Compelling love that serves others in all I do. Listening deeply to the hurts and hopes of others.
The moral absolutes in the teachings of Jesus, ending my excuses for compromise.
Helping make the world a better place.
It is easy to resist with anger…harder to surrender with love.

How we feel matters…how we think matters more…and what we ultimately do matters most.
Agape love is both affection and action for the good of others.
A critical mind is not a judgmental heart.  May we (re)learn the art of evaluating arguments and evidence, without castigation or hypocrisy.
Disagreeing with another’s perspective – even on moral and political issues – does not mean hatred or intolerance. Living peaceably with our deepest differences while we find common principles of ordered liberty requires humility and courage.

(From September 2017) Dear Republican and Democratic leaders,
While the public is distracted by kneeling, standing and tweeting, you are failing in your public service. Only courage will stop the polarizing forces tearing us apart.
Republicans, you were elected so we can have better stewardship of policy and public funds…and you cannot seem to pass any bills of note.
Democrats, you keep drifting to radical extremes while most of America wants a principled middle…can’t some of you propose bills for negotiation and eventual passage? Lock-step voting is a tired excuse for serious labor.
To both parties: Please stop the grandstanding and self-righteousness and start doing your job.
The president is not a king or a savior…and the courts are not legislatures (in spite of some of both branches antics over the past half-century).
Instead of hand-wringing and blame-shifting, start working. I want to believe you have the best interests of our citizens in mind.
Prove it.

Celebrating Our American History and Hope

The Declaration of Independence was approved on July 2, 1776 and signed by John Hancock on July 4, with most of the other signatories penning their names on August 2. In celebration and for reflection, I offer the following insights that flow from this Declaration and the later Constitution and Bill of Rights. These are our founding documents.

We are still catching up to the promises of the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence and Constitution declare that human rights are God-given natural rights. Governments exist to protect our rights, NOT bestow them!

“Let’s freedom ring…”
Today, I am appreciating the words and works of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. When asked about freeing the Blacks, he said that his cause was about freeing ALL people…and saving the soul of White America from the scourge of racism.

As we rightly celebrate our nation’s birth, let’s ask the Almighty for full liberation from hatred, injustice and prejudice. People of every class, gender or race or religion are made in God’s image and endowed with inalienable rights.

“Proclaim liberty throughout the land…”
May God help us relearn civil conversation, principled debate and good-faith progress toward justice in all our political circles.