September 19, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 8.18.12

Welcome to the very tired edition of Saturday Ramblings, the time of week when we sweep up after ourselves here at the iMonastery. Why am I so tired? Well, I’ve been working a new job, one that doesn’t see me to my humble abode until after ten each night. But more than that, this has been a trying and disconcerting week for your Rambler to gather relevant stories. First was the David Barton story, one that was difficult in ways to write because I have friends who work with Barton or have worked with Barton, friends I really respect. And then there is a story that could prove to be very harmful for some well-respected leaders of the church in the United States. Yes, I know I didn’t cause these people to do such things, but still, at times it ain’t all that fun to even report their craziness. So, with that said, shall we ramble?

According to Technorati, a service that ranks web sites and blogs, iMonk was ranked number 691 out of more than 1.3 million blogs this week. You’d think someone with a background in broadcasting, publishing, and marketing would be able to find a way to fund this site so that I could pay Chaplain Mike and the other great writers who keep us smiling each day, wouldn’t you? But I am very, very reluctant to add just any ads to the site, and I will never allow paid blogging to appear here. So for now, our one source of income is from you, our generous fellow iMonks. Should you want to make a one time contribution, or support us on a more regular basis, you can use the donate button to the right. And thanks to each of you who have already done so!

The big story of the week, and it will only get bigger, comes from Christianity Today. Ted Olsen and Ken Smith take an in-depth look at David Jang, a South Korean entrepreneur who has headed a university, a discipleship program in Asia, and numerous online companies. Oh, and there are reports that Jang’s followers see him at the “Second Coming Jesus.” This one, iMonks, is a very dangerous and scary story. Jang’s fingerprints are one Olivet University, which is trying to buy Glorietta Conference Center near Santa Fe, New Mexico, a facility owned by the Southern Baptist Convention. The president of Olivet (not to be confused with Olivet Nazareth University in Illinois) is William Wagner, who pastored four different SBC churches and served as the second vice president for the SBC. Wagner also serves as the chairman of the board for the Christian Post web site. If you look over the electronic masthead on CP’s site, you’ll see the executive editor is none other than another Baptist, Richard Land. Oh, and scroll down a bit further and you’ll see one of the contributing authors is Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. The CP ran a long rebuttal of CT’s story yesterday, which, as far as I can read, is a non-denial denial. This story has just begun, folks. It is going to get nastier and more complicated as it unfolds. Jang seems to have his hand in so much of American Christianity, from the World Evangelical Alliance to the Evangelical Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in America. I’m not going to go into a lot detail here—you can readily find this information in a cursory web search—but I will say this concerns me greatly. How can erstwhile solid Christians such as Mohler, et al, be so susceptible to deception, if indeed they are? Your thoughts on this story?

In related (?) news, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon was hospitalized in critical condition with pneumonia. Who is his successor as the “Second Coming Jesus”? See why I say the story above is scary?

Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate has brought Ayn Rand back into the news once again. Ryan supposedly gets some of his inspiration for his economic ideas from Rand. And Rand was anything but a Christian. But as long as Ryan is a Republican, will this matter to the evangelical voting block?

Take this great article by actress Jodie Foster, change “actor” to “pastor,” and it really still works. What do you think?

Margaret Mitchell’s nephew is leaving his estate to the Atlanta Archdiocese, including a 50 percent stake in Mitchell’s bestselling Gone With The Wind. The bishop was no doubt thrilled with this. I wonder what my pastor would say if I left my 50 percent rights for Taming A Liger: Unexpected Spiritual Surprises in Napoleon Dynamite to my church?

Roving Rambler and celebrity birthday calendar fact-checker Richard McNeeley wanted all to be sure they know what kind of people are serving as the leaders here at the iMonastery. As most all of our writers live in either Oklahoma or Indiana, I guess this really does have relevance. It hurts, but it’s true. Thanks so much, Richard!

And eagle-eyed rambling reporter Chris Shepherd filed this report on a church that meets in a bar on the Florida-Alabama border. Yes, drinks are served. What grabbed me the most in this story was the phrase “mullet-tossing contest.” Then I was disappointed that it involved fish. I had a different picture in mind. Then I thought, “Hey, what could be more fun than tossing fish across a state line?”

Finally, the Synonymous Rambler checked in with the story you’ve all waited so long to hear: Big Butter Jesus is being rebuilt. Only this time around it has earned the nickname “Hug Me Jesus.” (If you replace the H and U with a G and an A, I think you may be on to something.) Certainly Heywood Banks will come up with a song to go with this one. And will lightning strike twice? The SR didn’t have an opinion on that …

Happy birthdays this last week went out to Mike Douglas; Jerry Falwell; Steve Wozniak; Hulk Hogan; Porter Wagoner; Buck Owens; Skip Caray; Mark Knopfler; Alfred Hitchcock; Fidel Castro; Don Ho; Dan Fogelberg; David Crosby; Maureen O’Hara; and Sean Penn.

Tulsa has hit the big time. We have a Krispy Kreme. And a minor league baseball team. We have more Indian-run casinos than you can count. And ater this year we will have this birthday partier joining Bob Dylan in concert, Think I want to be there for that? Does a cow eat grass? Who wouldn’t want to be there? (Perhaps the bored looking people in this video?) I present, for your Saturday enjoyment, Mr. Mark Knopfler. Enjoy.

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  1. Thus spake Wikipedia:

    “Observers of the Unification Church, as well as some church members, have speculated about the issue of Unification Church leadership after Moon’s death. Among those sometimes mentioned are his wife Hak Ja Han Moon, and their sons Hyun Jin Moon, Kook Jin Moon, and Hyung Jin Moon.”

    But only the elder Rev. Moon is Lord of the Second Advent. The reason is that he completed Christ’s mission by doing what Jesus had failed to do–namely having a family. Through their blessing, we may overcome the genetic stain incurred by Eve, when she had sex with Satan.

  2. Big Butter Jesus, Mullet tossing, entrepreneurial Christianity. In other words, Christianity in America is becoming a joke. Or maybe already is one.

  3. Is the Christian Post site managed by Olivet? If not, Mohler’s involvement there does not make him directly connected to Jang, does it?

    I share your concern about Jang. In the American Experience documentary on Jim Jones, big names in fundagelicalism and conservative politics were courting him because of the amount of power and influence he had. Power means more than character. Blame that on the Randian-ization of evangelicalism.

    • After reading both the CT and CP articles, I am not convinced either way that Jang is a cult leader. But one statement that Jang is a significant eschatalogical figure points out the dangers of dispensationalism. When eschatology is defined by current events and not scripture, then the door is left open to elevate individuals as key drivers in the return of Christ. It means other factors and individuals control and influence the return of the Son, not the Father alone. This type of heresy occurs all the time in American evangelicalism. It opens the door for nefarious individuals to exploit sloppy dispensational theology to in fact elevate themselves to positions of power. I would rather see effort put into addressing these theological risks than to chase individuals potentially exploiting those risks. If we think there is nothing wrong with dispensationalism, then we need to live with people claiming to be fulfillments of various characters in the apocalyptic narrative. As discussed here before, there are evangelicals eager for a nuclear mid-east war involving Israel, because it, too, would hasten the return of Christ. After a while, it is difficult to be shocked by anything on display under the big tent of the evangelical circus. There simply are not the doctrinal controls or courage to enforce them by evangelical leadership to reign in anything that is currently going on. Calling anyone a “heretic” is considered offensive, intolerant, and impolite. Is Jang the “second coming of Christ” or a key figure in ushering the return of Christ? By current evangelical standards, (I say with a bit of sarcasm and despair): what difference does it make?

    • Bill Wagner, president of Olivet University, is chairman of the board of the Christian Post. Many of those who work for the CP are Olivet grads. There is a strong connection there.

  4. Matt Purdum says

    Time for the Ayn Rand followers to publicly announce their opposition to Christ. Amazing that this November, most Christians will vote for a Mormom and a Randian running against a Protestant and a Catholic. God help us.

    • Paul Ryan is obviously influenced by Rand, but he is also Catholic.

      • petrushka1611 says

        A really famous band might say they’re influenced by the Beatles, but if their lyrics are charmless, their arrangements third-rate, and they lack any sense of experimentation, I’d tend to doubt their claims. I have only taken a cursory look at Ryan’s voting record, but Rand would be ripping him to shreds for it.

        • Agreed. “Influence” is an amusing word to throw around when spreading FUD.

          Still, the influence of Rand in modern politics has been called out by more than a few Christian conservatives. The late Chuck Colson was quite concerned that she was being accepted wholesale without thinking things through.

          Besides, if we’re playing that game, lets find out how many left-leaning Christians have been influenced by decidedly non-Christian philosophies and leaders. I’ll bring popcorn.

          • Matt Purdum says

            It’s a small point, but a big distinction, I think, between non-Christian philosophies and anti-Christian philosophies, and anyone endorsing Rand has to explain her aggressive anti-Christianism.

      • Alan Greenspan was a bonafide Randian. Went to meetings at her place.

    • I’d vote for a Muslim, a Jew, an atheist…if I thought they could help get us out of this mess.

      • +1. Obama a Protestant? Biden a Catholic? Coulda fooled me!!!! :p

        • Dan Crawford says

          Romney a Christian? Ryan a Catholic? Coulda fooled me.

          • I do not think Romney is a Christian. Why on earth does it matter? I am not voting for a pastor in chief.

            I know Obama is very sympathetic to Islam and that scares me. I am wondering when liberals stopped caring about women’s rights? Of course, Jeremiah Wright taught him Marxist Liberation theology for 20 years but then it became embarassing to Obama during the campaign. I listened to quite a few Wright sermons during that time and if they did not scare people, then we would have a huge problem on hands and we now do.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I am wondering when liberals stopped caring about women’s rights?

            WIth Billary Clinton.

    • Dan Crawford says

      How, one wonders, given a fairly substantial body of Catholic social teaching, can one be both a Randian and a Catholic? If we examine Mr. Ryan’s legislative record, we discover he is more Randian than Catholic. No surprise – but most right-wing Christians are, like Rand, social darwinists at heart.

      Truth in politics bumper sticker for the fall campaign: Mitt and Ayn or Romeny and Rand.

      • I agree, you can’t really be Randian and Catholic at the same time. But I think the same is also true of certain left-wing social views. Both parties have major issues as far as Catholic teaching is concerned.

      • So to be a good Christian, you have to believe in Ham’s young earth creationism and vote for social Darwinist’s?

      • “Truth in politics bumper sticker for the fall campaign: Mitt and Ayn or Romeny and Rand.”

        Simple. We simply point out that Alan Greenspan was a Randian. It shaped his thinking. :Let’s compare Greenspan to Bernanke and the economy. Bumper sticker? I will have to think of one if that is how you want to play it.

        How about this: Were you better off with the Randian Greenspan or the Socialist Bernanke?

        Guys, my friend at the DNC tell me that they plan to really play up the Rand connection. The talking points have gone out.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        It’s like there are two wanna-be State Religions in this country calling Jihad against each other.

        Founded by Ayn Rand and Karl Marx.

  5. I saw the Jodie Foster article this week. What struck me were her words on acting, which could have been about love as taken from 1 John. “Acting is all about communicating vulnerability, allowing the truth inside yourself to shine through regardless of whether it looks foolish or shameful. To open and give yourself completely. It is an act of freedom, love, connection.”

    Appropriate for the boozy church to be in Perdido (Perdition; Spanish=lost). Oh, there are so many creative things one could do with this song:
    I’m gonna’ hire a wino to decorate our home,
    So you’ll feel more at ease here, and you won’t have to roam.
    We’ll take out the dining room table, and put a bar along that wall.
    And a neon sign, to point the way, to our bathroom down the hall

  6. My husband’s huge problem with the hard-core evangelical Christian voters supporting the Republican candidates this years is that for his (and my) entire childhood, he was taught that Catholics and Mormons were hell bound in the eternal, and in America, they are trying to upset the Protestant world view of the founding fathers and would be “Catholic” or “Mormon” before they were Americans.

    We both attended a school whose founder toured around the South demonizing Al Smith when he ran for president simply because he was Catholic and then raised Cain when Kennedy ran. Regularly we heard praises for Ian Paisley’s face-to-face denouncement of the Pope as the Anti-Christ. The verbal treatment of Mormons was much worse. We were taught this by our parents, teachers, and pastors as part of our religious formation.

    Now these same people are voting for these a Mormon and a Catholic.

    Our personal thoughts on positions and politics aside, our families and the folks in the churches in which we grew up are abandoning their religious beliefs. Why? That is where the disconnect is for my husband.

    • Yeah, I find it almost humorous that evangelicals who, not that long ago, would have considered the Repub ticket a sure ticket to Hell is now embracing them. Do they not see the hypocrisy?

      The emperor truly has no clothes. Unfortunately, many will surmise from this the the Lord has no clothes either. It’s not Satan taking people away from the church; it’s the church driving them away with this kind of silliness.

    • EV said,

      We were taught this by our parents, teachers, and pastors as part of our religious formation.

      Now these same people are voting for these a Mormon and a Catholic.

      I’ll beat HUG to the punch with this 1984 quote: “Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.”

      (Until it’s at war with Eurasia; then it will always have been at war with Eurasia and always allied with Eastasia…)

      And, to bounce off Suzanne’s comment about the emperor, his lack of clothes, and the church: all of this may yet bring to pass Michael Spencer’s prediction of THE COMING EVANGELICAL COLLAPSE.

      God help us.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I made about a dozen comments (some of them long & involved) on this posting over the weekend, but the spam filters ate them. (Only one was recoverable.) Wasn’t able to get through until today.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Our personal thoughts on positions and politics aside, our families and the folks in the churches in which we grew up are abandoning their religious beliefs. Why?

      “For the hearts of Men are easily corrupted, and the Ring of POWER has a Will of its own.”

  7. Richard McNeeley says

    I was shocked that my state, Arizona, didn’t make the list, maybe we are just the home of the nuttiest people. Happy Birthday Steve Martin. Thanks for the Dire Straits share, they are one of my favorite groups.

  8. As some younger friends of mine sent their kids to Christian schools, or just home schooled them, I would hear from parents about “Christian” Founding Fathers and how they were all committed, born again believers. Somehow it just didn’t wash with me. The parents were pretty adamant about this subject so I just let it go, but it DID spur me on to read about the Founders again.

    What I discovered was that their Christianity looked nothing like today’s version, except for the basics of the Nicene Creed, and then only in a few instances. But I’m OK with it, I don’t feel the need to make our past conform to our present, as apparently Barton needed to do.

    “Wall Builders”…aptly named, in an ironic way.

  9. The problem with Rand is there is a coating of truth over the poison inside her philosophy. Yes, collectivism, if allowed to control and dictate how we think and live our lives, is wrong. The album “2112” by the Canadian band “Rush” according to drummer Neil Peart was influenced by Rand, particularly her novel “Anthem”. In 2112 are lyrics about a science fiction future world where the people’s thoughts and actions are controlled by a ruling class of priests. The story within the lyrics is one man’s search for freedom and individual expression through music, which is crushed by the priests. Much of these lyrics tend to be targeted against organized religion, not politics. At the time, music critics ripped them apart for crediting the extreme-right views of Rand. Their music for generations have been a siren call of youth raging against oppressive social and parental controls to live free. But as the band matured, more and more lyrics addressed the dangers of unbridled freedom, such as “The Enemy Within” and the need for concern for ones fellow man, such as in “Second Nature”.

    The problem for Christians is that our life is lived in community, which Rand made no distinction from collectivism. We live in neighborhoods, where the condition of the poor and hurting should matter to us. Admitting our social inter-dependency to Rand is weakness and makes us enemies of the individual.

    If evangelicals truly want to be Randian, perhaps they could start by stop using religion as a way to enforce group-think, thought and behavior control, and political unity and get down to the business of setting captives free and proclaiming the gospel of freedom. Perhaps it’s time to stop rallying people to eat chicken and instead to feed the hungry. That alone will probably get evangelical leaders to oppose Randianism. It’s wrong when our enemies use collective thought control, but it is perfectly safe and justified in our hands.

    • Yeah, I don’t think conservatives like Rand for her philosophy – I think it’s her depiction of an economy in ruin that’s gained her a cult following in recent years. But that fact that she was an avowed atheist does cause quite a bit of cognitive dissonance for conservative Christians who want to go the whole nine yards.

      I think you’re spot-on with the difference between community and collectivism. Community comes from within; collectivism is imposed from outside. There’s an interesting parallel with Jesus’ teaching about righteous works done from a sinful heart vs. righteous works flowing naturally from one transformed by grace.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Yeah, I don’t think conservatives like Rand for her philosophy – I think it’s her depiction of an economy in ruin that’s gained her a cult following in recent years.

        Would “Apocalyptic” describe her depiction? If so, Hal Lindsay primed the pump for her like an unknowing John the Baptist.

        Some months ago, I had either an epiphany or a brain-fart: Atlas Shrugged and Left Behind are the same story — an Apocalyptic Escape/Revenge Fantasy — slanted towards different audiences. And the more I thought about it, the more similarities I found. And both masturbate their target audience like bad fanfic, which accounts for their followings. (I can go into more detail if anyone is interested.)

        If so, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to go from Late Great Planet Earth and/or Left Behind to Atlas Shrugged. Or go syncretic with the two. The dynamic and appeal would be the same.

    • Dan Crawford says

      Social darwinists make no distinction between community and collectives. In Rand’s view, community (even Christian community) destroys individual freedom and the idea of the god-like individual free to work his whims on whoever stands in the way of his self-esteem.

      • David Cornwell says

        “god-like individual free to work his whims”

        Back to the Garden again… “Sighing for Eden”…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Which is a hoot, since both Randism and Communism (and Naziism, for that matter) are all variants of Social Darwinism. Especially taking the idea defining Natural Selection as Organisms compete and the less competitive/inferior go extinct. (Whereas Darwin was speaking biologically about reproductive success through generations, not killing off the less-evolved inferiors in “Nature Red in Tooth and Claw”.)

        1) Original Social Darwinism (Victorian England) and its descendants Objectivism and Yuppieism define the organisms competing to the death as Rugged Individuals. (With the Social Darwinist/Objectivist/Yuppie seeing themselves as the Most Fit, of course — “Extinction to the Unfit!”

        2) Communism defines the competing organisms as economic systems and social classes, engaged in eternal Class Warfare. (And in Marx’s Linear Evolutionary Dialectic, Communism is the Most Evolved and Capitalism the less fit — “Extinction fo the Unfit!”

        3) Naziim (a pulp-villain offshoot of Fascism) defined the competing organisms by Race — of which the Aryan Master Race (i.e. idealized themselves) was the most fit — and followed through on Race-based Social Darwinism with a vengeance.

    • Well said, D. Ox. I used to lean strictly right but now can’t get past their embrace of Rand and her “every man for himself” philosophy.

  10. “I hope you don’t have friends who recommend Ayn Rand to you. The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.”

    -Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being

    • David Cornwell says

      ” makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.”

      Well, he is right up there! I’d hate to read Rand before going to bed.

    • I love Flannery O’Connor all the more now. Thanks, Ryan, for posting that.

    • “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

      — John Rogers

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Some months ago, I had a epiphany: Atlas Shrugged and Left Behind are basically the same story, pitched as wish-fulfillment to two different audiences. (I can go into this in more detail if anyone is interested.) They’re both Apocalyptic Escape/Revenge fantasies with similarities in situation, plot, and fanservice, and more overlap than you think. No wonder Rand became the Fourth Person of the Trinity to Christian Political Activists.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      According to my writing partner, after the November 2008 elections (when all the John Galt Celebrity Impersonators came out of the woodwork), there were two books flying off the shelves all around the country, one for men and one for women.

      For women, the hot book was Twilight Volume Whatever (sparkle sparkle).

      For men, the hot book was Atlas Shrugged.

      This leads to the disturbing image of Ayn Rand being Edward Cullen, and I cannot see how this could possibly end well.

  11. “How can erstwhile solid Christians such as Mohler, et al, be so susceptible to deception, if indeed they are?”
    What else would one expect when most of american evangelicalism has unintentionally or intentionally abandoned following Jesus Christ…and chosen other things like cultural power, prestige, institution building, entertainment, cheap grace (“get your get-out-of-hell card”) etc. The american church is corrupt to the core…like the catholic church before the Reformation- nothing surprises me anymore.

    • Jeff Maguire says

      “Strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the Lord’s house.” (Jer. 51:51)

      “In this account the faces of the Lord’s people were covered with shame, for it was a terrible thing that men should intrude into the Holy Place reserved for the priests alone. Everywhere about us we see like cause for sorrow. How many ungodly men are now educating with the view of entering into the ministry! What a crying sin is that solemn lie by which our whole population is nominally comprehended in a National Church! How fearful it is that ordinances should be pressed upon the unconverted, and that among the more enlightened churches of our land there should be such laxity of discipline. If the thousands who will read this portion shall all take this matter before the Lord Jesus this day, he will interfere and avert the evil which else will come upon his Church. To adulterate the Church is to pollute a well, to pour water upon fire, to sow a fertile field with stones. May we all have grace to maintain in our own proper way the purity of the Church, as being an assembly of believers, and not a nation, an unsaved community of unconverted men.”

      You might ask, “Who said this?” Well, it was late, great preacher Charles Spurgeon. Prophetic, isn’t it!!!

  12. What is Mohler doing hanging out with Jang? What is the Gospel Coalition doing hanging out with Wilson? I think discernment has become a casualty of the recent emphasis on activism within fundagelicalism. Git ‘er dun; we don’t care how, what you actually accomplish, or what are the lasting side-effects.

  13. There are certainly problems with Rand’s philosophy. However, she was a clear eyed prophet concerning the economic destruction we now face. What appeals to many about her ideas is not her atheism, or god-like enshrinement of the individual, but the idea that your labor and intellect and the fruits thereof belong to you. After all, what is slavery but the claim of another(against your will) to the fruits of your labor? Those of us that pay taxes work from January first to sometime in May just to pay our taxes. Forty percent of my efforts at employment or business belong to a government that has proven it’s unwillingness to responsibly use them, and have taken us down a path that will bring us to the same point as Greece and Spain. They will end up reneging on the promises made to us about Social Security and Medicare.( If you are capable of seventh grade math, you can plainly see this is inevitable.) Also beware if you have a pension from any local municipality or state government, they are going bankrupt at an ever increasing rate. Rand saw where ever increasing taxation and regulation would take us and tried to lay a philosophical foundation that would defend the individual against such slavery. Much of her philosophy is a radical reaction to the Soviet Communism she lived under, however it contains some very important truths.

    • What about God’s claim on the fruits of our labor? You said, “[…] the idea that your labor and intellect and the fruits thereof belong to you.” Is that what Jesus teaches? I would argue that none of that really belongs to us… and whatever we are given is a gift that we hold with open hands, ready to surrender it whenever the Lord decides we no longer need it. Not even the seemingly “nice” Randism would stand for that – the only reason any of her over-reaction is appealing is because it appeals to the “old man” lurking in our hearts.

      • “…ready to surrender it whenever the Lord decides we no longer need it.”

        Sounds great. But if you can’t tell the difference between the government and the Lord, you have bigger problems than your fiscal policy. It’s not the government’s job to compel spiritually minded stewardship of personal property. Once it’s compelled, the property is no longer personal. Don’t forget that the God who commanded generosity is the same God who said “Thou shalt not steal.” This command assumes the right to own something. If nothing belongs to you, nobody taking it from you can be called a thief.

      • Very insightful, Andy Zook. Your thoughts take us back to CM’s earlier question about paying taxes from the fish’s mouth.

    • What appeals to many about her ideas is not her atheism, or god-like enshrinement of the individual, but the idea that your labor and intellect and the fruits thereof belong to you. After all, what is slavery but the claim of another(against your will) to the fruits of your labor?

      But for the Christian, our labor and the fruits thereof do not belong to us; they belong to God, who indeed does have a claim to them and more. I don’t think it is the message of call of the Christian faith to simply to declare that everyone is on their own because you think the social safety net systems are bound to fail. I see a rather different message and dynamic than that in the New Testament and throughout the history of the Church.

      As for taxes and government, there are stable economies in Europe where the tax burden is close to 50% and people are happy because they all enjoy real benefits from that arrangement. The American government’s problems are many, but the fact that there are places where this model does work suggests that it may not be the model at fault but our application of it.

      • Actually, there is no place in the Bible where it says that the fruit of our labor belongs to God. To the contrary, the Bible commends hard work and wise management for the abundance that comes as its blessing. Without the sacrifice of labor and self denial, generosity is superfluous. If you think that the message of Christianity is one of a socialist commune, then you are not listening to a word that Jesus said. It’s not about being “on your own,” but it should include being able to actually own something. Giving away what belongs to someone else is not generosity. God gives us the ability to earn wages that belong to us in order that we might use it to provide for ourselves and be a blessing to our neighbor. He did not give us governments to make this as difficult as possible.

        • I don’t doubt generosity is muted by nanny-statism — look at how much more Americans give to charitable causes per capita than do Europeans — but I think it’s worth considering the following.

          Suppose that taxation rates were to be cut here in the US. Q: Would charitable giving go up considerably?
          A: Look around. Taxation rations have been cut. And cut. And cut. And cut. I’m 40, and the last time tax rates went up was when I was in college, and they’d mostly been cut the ten or so years before that going back to 1980. Thirty years of data. Yet, I don’t recall charitable giving changing all that much (one way or the other.)

          So, as much as I’d not like to, I have to endorse at least some role for governmental “interference.” I just don’t call it generosity in the first place, just as I don’t call building a road or a new public school generosity.

          • People tend to donate percentages. so would you rather donate 10% of 30,000 or 10% of 100,000? That is where the economy comes into play.

        • The Bible does say the Earth is the Lord’s and all that is within it, and in the NT we are told to do everything we do as unto God. But I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. My guess though is that some of our brothers and sisters from other nations might see this issue a little differently.

        • Miguel, the bible does say (OT) that 10% of the fruit of our labor belongs to God, and perhaps we as Christians are exempt as to the letter of the law. But at any rate the bible makes clear throughout that ALL of the fruit of our labor comes FROM God.

          My pastor unwittingly unleashed these verses from Deuteronomy 8 this morning in his sermon on gluttony (he’s been going through the 7 deadly sins…). Ayn Rand, and some of those running for office at present, have said publicly that they do not agree with this, but here it is, in the family values book, pro-life and all:

          17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.

          • Those verses from Deuteronomy sound a lot like “You didn’t build that.”

            Of course, I can accept that determination much more readily from the Lord than from a political figure.

      • Indeed, having just been to one of those 50% taxation countries (and let’s not forget the 20% VAT on top of that, FairTaxers) — Finland — it’s pretty clear the model works, where it works, anyway. Yet it’s not complete socialism at all: the country is consistently among the most competitive countries in the world. Why? Mostly because alongside the generous social safety net they’ve also managed to promote education in the sectors that matter today and have liberalized their labor laws, so that businesses have significantly more flexibility than they once had. Nokia, Linux, and Angry Birds result.

        So Finland rocks, buuuuut….. I don’t know how well their model would work in a country like the US that is founded upon the ideal of governmental incompentence, aka limited government. When the government is presumed to be incapable of doing anything effectively apart from trivial matters like the death penalty or waging war, it’s hard to get people to buy in to things like national health care, etc.

        • “I don’t know how well their model would work in a country like the US that is founded upon the ideal of governmental incompentence, aka limited government. When the government is presumed to be incapable of doing anything effectively apart from trivial matters like the death penalty or waging war, it’s hard to get people to buy in to things like national health care, etc.”

          So our problem is that we don’t have enough faith in big government?

          • I would say our problem is us, the citizenry… from our founding to now: A self-defeating streak of rebellious, mammon-worshipping (and inefficient) individualism resides in the depths of our psyche. Does this mean we should swing way over to the other side, ie full-blown communalism? NO – a number of the successful European countries like Finland/Germany etc have found the balance. The US has not found that balance (although the much-higher-tax post-war and post-Depression boom times showed that we could get close) Unfortunately many seem to be resurrecting and enshrining our less helpful instincts (the don’t tread on me, I don’t owe anything to anybody sentiment) and we’re reaping the fruits of that.

      • Jesus speaking in Matthew 20:15 says ” Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? ”

        Acts 5:3-4 says “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? ”

        So, apparently the Lord considers somethings to belong to you…. Also there is a big difference between the Lord’s claim on our time and talent, and anyone else’s attempted claim. How do you argue against slavery if a person doesn’t have claim to the fruits of their labors, but another person does?

    • “However, she was a clear eyed prophet concerning the economic destruction we now face. What appeals to many about her ideas is not her atheism, or god-like enshrinement of the individual, but the idea that your labor and intellect and the fruits thereof belong to you. After all, what is slavery but the claim of another(against your will) to the fruits of your labor?”

      Bingo. This is exactly what people are attracted to in Randian thought. Who owns their labor and ideas?

      Remember, we were the first to declare that the “individual” has civil rights equal to a kings. This went against the prevailing culture in the entire world where rights of Kings or nation/state rulers was the prevailing thinking. I am seeing some of that here with the idea our labor belongs to a ruling government. We now call that socialism but it is older than that. Rights of kings is where it originated. Never forget give to Caesar what is Caesar’s is because there WAS a Caesar. We are to be the government of the people by the people. If we vote ourselves into socialism, we give up individual rights and are quickly becoming a “collective”. People can be very lazy in a collective but you must support them. Christians help those who cannot help themselves UNLESS the government does it for them.

      • “People can be very lazy in a collective but you must support them. ”

        No, that is not true. The Apostle Paul says:

        10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.” 2 Thess 3:10-12

        • I agree, friend. but in a collective you have NO choice or face imprisonment. That is socialism. And that is what we are now: Socialistic. Many actually think it is more compassionate to have the government redistribute your earnings for you.

  14. On the brighter side, not only are you ranking #691 overall at Technorati, you’re also #13 in religion. Unfortunately, Driscoll is #10, which qualifies that statistic.

    And of all the people in that video, nobody looks more bored than Knopfler himself. His playing is good, but he makes it sound (and look) like its the last song he wants to be singing.

  15. “Only this time around it has earned the nickname ‘Hug Me Jesus.’ (If you replace the H and U with a G and an A, I think you may be on to something.) ”

    I’m trying to imagine this. I hope the designers are, too. If the statue’s arm will be depicted with arms reaching straight forward, this could be mistaken for a number of unmentionable gestures. Ugh. Maybe it will be like the Cristo Redentor in Rio. Here’s hoping.

  16. 1 – “Ryan supposedly gets some of his inspiration for his economic ideas from Rand. And Rand was anything but a Christian. But as long as Ryan is a Republican, will this matter to the evangelical voting block?”

    2 – Obama supposedly gets some of his inspiration for his economic ideas from Marx. And Marx was anything but a Christian. But as long as Obama is a Democrat, will this matter to the tens of millions of liberal Christians?

    What is the difference between these two statements?

    • TPD, You are asking great questions.

      The DNC has to alienate Ryan real quick. They already know that many Evangelicals won’t vote for Romney because he is a Mormon. (The figures about about 10%) They do not want them thinking twice about it since he chose Ryan. That is why the big deal over Rand. And as you see, folk are falling for it.

    • Anyone who studies politics, economics, or philosophy will read Marx, and probably be forced to concede that much of what he said was true. Of course his blind spots change everything, but his writings are still classics, and deserve to be classics, quite apart from the question of their political influence. Nothing like this can be said of Ayn Rand–her books have little literary or philosophical merit, and are only noteworthy for their political influence, which is far narrower than that of Marx.

    • One of them is true.

  17. “Randism is a state of arrested adolescence, making its disciples feel like heroic teenagers atop a lofty mountain peak.” – Maureen Dowd, from her NYT article, “When Cruelty is Cute”.

    I have heard this stated about Randism before, that it is an extension of adolescent self-centeredness.

    • Arrested development? Seriously? How about more like taking total responsibility for yourself and working hard to succeed. That is the Randian philosophy.We are teaching teens the opposite….the socialistic paradigm is the true arrested development. But Dowd’s view does not surprise me.

  18. Rand is the priestess of the one percent, not the disenfranchised, unemployed middle class. Those middle class tea partiers who think Ryan and other Randians speak for them are in for the shock of their lives. To the one percent, everyone is a parasite on their wealth, and all wealth should belong to them. Jobs? Come on. I predict the one of the first acts of Romney as president will be to repeal taxes on foreign corporate offices, which will result in huge corporate bonuses annd usher in a whole new round of outsourcing. Listening to Juliani last week gave me chills; he thought Romney’s record at Bane qualifies him for president, because he made money for his investors; no concern was expressed for those who lost their jobs. Randianism is an elitist, privileged class idealism, claiming the wealthy have no moral responsibility except their own self-actualization. Trickle-down economics to a Randian simply means there is a leak to fix.

    • dumb ox,

      See my comment above. Especially my question, “How do you argue against slavery if a person doesn’t have claim to the fruits of their labors, but another person does?”

      Rand argued for the rights of the individual and against subjugation and exploitation. The subtext of many of the less thought out arguments against her is that the taking of the fruits of our labor and intellect, by force (usually by the force of ‘Law’) is needed, and the idea that without ‘help’ (from government, law, or some dictator) people are unable to determine what is in their own best interest. This is the very heart of slavery and exploitation. Go back and read some of the arguments for slavery during the period of the American Civil war. They are rife with these kinds sentiments.

    • Yeah and a community organizer really understands better and knows what it takes. We get it, The horror that a businessman made money for his investors. How evil,

  19. You seem to want to cry crocodile tears over Ryan liking Rand and evangelicals being okay with that. So? Oh wait, I know, you’re upset that many conservative evangelicals are able to connect some dots of Biblicism to Rand’s Atlas Shrugged form of capitalism, seeing she was not a Christian (crazily you conveniently left out any of the arguments that there are, indeed, some principles in the Bible compatible with capitalism-even some elements of AS’ed capitalism, but then to admit these and state what the arguments are would burn down your straw man so I don’t blame you for neglecting that duty) and that her form of capitalism is absent of any direct or demonstrative Christian values. So does that make her all wrong in everything she said? Right, it doesn’t and where she is right, those principles are just as deserving as any right principles of being forwarded. You treat Ryan’s appreciation of Rand with the most uncharitable view imaginable as if he doesn’t have the sense to filter it in the least. Good grief, you read like a member of an MSNBC panel.

    But I will give you credit on Al Mohler, you caught him with his hand in the cookie jar.

  20. So… this would be retribution from the Christian Post, correct?

    You’re not wrong: This got pretty ugly, pretty quick.