Tag Archives: liberty

“Science is Real” Separating Facts from Ideology

As Kathy and I walk our neighborhood, we occasionally see signs that include a variety of slogans, including, “Science is Real.” This phrase is part of a campaign by climate activists to demonize any “deniers” that question human-caused climate change and support radical proposals to “save the planet because we have only 9, 12, 20, or 50 years left.”

Science is a wonderful part of humankind’s creativity and curiosity. It yields amazing breakthroughs for human flourishing, from healthy foods to medical care, technology for the workplace, and so much more. The founder of the modern state of Singapore was asked about the most important invention of the 20th century. His response? “Air conditioning.” Without it, computers cannot function and billions living in tropical climates cannot be productive. Science is an ever-evolving series of experiments and findings, discussions and discoveries, and the source of much debate! For people of faith, science is a gift from God, part of common grace or natural revelation. Science is not a deity, but the amalgamation of human inquiry. It can be used for good or manipulated for evil.

Human-influenced climate change is tracked using a combination of historical temperature readings, computer modeling, and current observations. Leaving aside exaggerated terms like, “97% all agree that…” or “there is no problem” – how do we sort our facts from ideology? And, just as important, how should consensual science inform economic and social policies affecting billions of people?

Let’s assume that “the science is real” and humankind is having a deleterious impact on the climate. Current solutions emanating from the UN and the West are radical and have little actual impact on global temperatures. Adding to this reality is the fact that we have seen a shift in language from “global warming” to “climate change” because the trends are not conforming to early computer models. Science is being used as a cover to destroy the fossil fuel, natural gas, and nuclear power industries, with inadequate replacements.

The way forward is neither denial nor apocalyptic measures. Good ecological stewardship is good economics. Science is already reducing emissions enormously in the developed world. Alternative energy solutions are emerging, but are not yet cost-effective as complete replacements. And here is the key: Global elites and politicians love greater control over people’s lives and arranging massive transfers of wealth – none of which affect them (unless they benefit)! The losers are middle- and working-class folks around the world that need affordable energy. We can improve the environment and ensure all can flourish without impoverishing billions for the wallets and power grabbing of a few. We need a concomitant strategy of improving the emissions of current sources while developing low-cost alternatives. As the science catches up to our dreams, we can see a better world without chaos and the loss of liberty.

Remembering the Promise of Liberty: A Tribute to the WWII Generation

This week we remember the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the formal entry of the USA into World War II. While we were already defacto allies with Great Britain and the Soviet Union against Germany, the events of December 7-11 turned a European conflict into a World War and awakened the “sleeping giant” of our industrial and military capacities. Though we directly responded to the attack in the Pacific, Hitler and Mussolini’s declarations of war made the conflict global.

The events of 1941-1945 are well-known. In this essay I want to highlight the sacrifices of a generation and the consequences of the conflict for increasing the love for liberty in the USA and around the world. The soldiers in all theaters knew they were fighting for freedom against totalitarian regimes that regarded other races as inferior. Japanese treatment of conquered nations and prisoners of war was inhuman, for they regarded Chinese, Korean, and other Asian populations as created to serve them. POWs were starved and tortured, seen as cowards for surrendering rather than committing Hari Kari (suicide). The Nazi genocides and oppressions stagger the imagination as six million Jews and six million other non-combatants are destroyed in the demonic labor and extermination universe crafted by this evil regime. This is why millions of American men and women enlisted and gave their all.

A special note here: I am generalizing about the German and Japanese governments and people in power at the time, not declaring every Japanese or German person guilty.

One story coming out of World War II that deserves more attention is the millions of African American women and men that signed on for civilian and military service. In spite of the oppressions of Jim Crow and the segregation in the military, these brave folks fought and worked for their country, believing in the promises of liberty and justice in the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution. The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is one of courage against great odds. Black civilian workers and soldiers were paid less, given less prominent positions, and, in general, relegated to the lowest rungs in the institutions. Yet, they shined in their bravery and sacrifice.

Another triumph out of tragedy narrative is the story of Japanese Americans serving in the military in spite of the oppression of the internment camps. The story of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team soldiers in the Italian campaigns of 1944-45 is one of courage and sacrifice. Soldiers in the 442nd RCT and their partners in the 100th IB earned seven presidential unit citations, two meritorious service plaques, 36 Army Commendation medals and 87 division commendations between them. Individual soldiers from both units earned 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, 15 Soldier’s Medals and 9,500 Purple Hearts, among many other honors. In 2011, 450 Japanese American soldiers from the 442nd RCT and 100th were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the United States’ highest civilian award for service.

These are wonderful stories, and their impact was felt far beyond the battlefield. After the war, the Civil Rights Movement found new life, with a simple question, “If someone is willing to die for America, why are they kept from voting, education, housing and jobs?” President Truman integrated the military and by the mid-1950s, with the Brown vs. the Board of Education Supreme Court ruling making segregation in schools unconstitutional, momentum for justice increased. By 1965, Civil Rights and Voting Rights were the law of the land. By the 1970s and 1980s, the injustice of the internment camps came to light and reparations started.

America mobilized for liberty in a global war. As a result, she was able to mobilize for liberty for her own citizens, especially African Americans and immigrants. It is fitting that we honor this “greatest generation” by expanding its members to include the marginalized and oppressed, who, through sacrifice, paved the way for opportunities for their children. Though there is much work to be done, we have come a long way due to the work of these humble women and men

Thankful: The Complex Tapestry of American History

The United States of America is – like every person we meet and any nation we study – beautiful and broken. Her history is filled with saints and sinners, imperial oppression and unprecedented liberty. As we gather around tables and express our gratitude to God and each other, here are some paradoxical facts that are part of our historical tapestry:

  • The First Thanksgiving was celebrated in Plymouth with genuinely cordial relations with the local tribes. The Pilgrims owed their survival to Squanto and others that helped them gather, harvest, and hunt well.
  • Just before the Pilgrims came ashore (1620), the colony of Virginia began importing African slaves for work in the tobacco fields (1619), inaugurating a history that only a Civil War and later Civil Rights Movement would change.
  • Maryland and Pennsylvania were colonial havens for Roman Catholics and Quakers respectively, and both colonies promoted freedom of religion.
  • Meanwhile in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, religious dissenters such as Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams were exiled or punished severely into the 1690s.
  • The Methodists prohibited members from owning slaves as of 1757; alas, a century later this dynamic tradition was divided in to Northern and Southern branches…as were almost all denominations.
  • Ellis Island processed millions of immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Though many faced prejudices and obstacles assimilating into a very White and Protestant America, within a few generations, most of their descendants were celebrating the opportunities the New World had to offer.
  • At the same time immigrants were gazing happily at the Statue of Liberty upon their arrival in the USA, millions of Native Americans and African Americans faced continued oppression, prejudice, and legal barriers to full inclusion into American society.

The USA continues as an experiment in virtue-based liberty, with a history of hospitality and generosity as well as nativism and xenophobia. As we rightly give thanks, let’s rededicate ourselves to building a land of access, equity, and opportunity for all.

What America Are We Celebrating?

July 4th reminds us of the best and worst of American history. Many celebrate Independence Day and the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. And there is much to be proud of as we remember the sacrifices of so many that keep freedom’s flag flying. Others consider the failure of the Founders and Framers to offer a clear road of Emancipation for the slaves, thus delaying justice for millions, costing our nation a horrible Civil War, the tragedy of Jim Crow, and the unfulfilled promises of the Civil Rights Movement. Add to this the almost 100% record of broken covenants and treaties between the USA and the indigenous Native American tribes and being suspicious of American ideals is understandable.

The USA is an experiment in virtue-based liberty and representative governance rooted in reverence of the Almighty, the equality of all people, and limitations on the power of government. But our history is a tapestry of tremendous and tortured narratives. We celebrate the Ellis Island Hospitality enshrined in the Statue of Liberty and forget the prejudice, racism, and exploitation of both slaves and immigrants. We rightly celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation of our culture and forget the painful road toward prosperity for most workers.

What makes America truly great? First, we see that our first liberty, enshrined in the first 16 words of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights is complete freedom of conscience and religion for people of all faiths (or no faith) to live their lives and build their communities without government interference. Second, the promise of and potential for genuine access, equity, and opportunity for everyone. And third, our history of halting but continual progress toward justice.

Let’s celebrate heroes of the past and hopes for the future. Let’s feast in freedom and build a future so more can enjoy the fruits of freedom.

Rightly Ordered Loves, Part 3: Sexual Sanity

When historians look back at some of the moral currents of the early 21st century, they will call it an “era of anthropological confusion.” It is good that we are no longer imprisoning consenting adults for private activity and that there is robust dialogue of gender and sexual identity and practice.

I have forthright opinions of sexual identity and morality; however, these are not the focus of this essay. Persuading folks that disagree with my Christian convictions is better done in civil, personal dialogue or in lengthy communication. Here I want to argue that all sides of the current disputes on gender and sexual identity and practice are missing an important factor as they seek to persuade, or, in some cases, coerce conformity to their understanding of what is moral and tolerable.

The mistake our entire culture is making on sexuality is profound: we have made Eros the Almighty and sexual pleasure the defining characteristic of human identity. This is tragically deficient anthropology, reducing identity to one’s current sexual proclivities. There are great complexities involved in how people feel and think about gender and sex, and no one should feel marginalized. We do, however, need to dialogue on these issues, especially regarding the education of children, without labeling and libeling those who disagree with us.

If agape love is our starting point, then other loves will find their place. Agape compels thoughtfulness concerning our loyalties and pleasures, our motives and our practices. At this juncture I am only calling for thoughtfulness about sacrificial love. Agape sees people as made in God’s image, worthy of dignity and respect. Agape love helps people not objectify others or abuse people for pleasure. Friendships rooted in mutual interests are possible without the intrusion of unwelcome erotic demands. Comradery in a cause can include people of all orientations and persuasions as they sacrifice for the common good.

We are more than our erotic passions, wonderful as they are (in boundaries of morality and mutuality). Choosing self-restraint is not repression, but a loving decision. People of all persuasions can offer their best efforts toward the common good. There is still a place for debating gender and sexual issues in an environment of love and respect. Even where we radically disagree, a commitment to sacrificial love allows us to unite for noble causes.

Will we stop bowing before idols of immediate pleasure and choose noble pathways of love and service? Can we debate without rancor and stop labeling and libeling? Our preferred future depends upon a social compact of principled liberty for all.