Archive for May, 2008

Don’t miss this excellent article about the abortion fight in Kansas from National Review Online.

This fight has everything… a lawless, baby killing doctor , a heroic District Attorney, an attractive Roman Catholic Governor often suggested as a Vice Presidential possibility, a Bishop who has rebuked said pretty little governor, and “a team of monks squirreled away” in Planned Parenthood’s basement making copies of their records. Best of all, the story includes the DRC’s own superstar lawyer Caleb Stegall.

Please do pray for Caleb and his family as well as the ultimate outcome of this case.


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Paul begins the substantial part of his book by taking up the issue which has probably gained him the most notoriety. Among leading Republicans, Paul has been virtually a solitary voice against the interventionist wars of recent years, encompassing both the Bush and Clinton administrations. Paul reminds us in this chapter of the noninterventionist foreign policy of the founding fathers, which also happened to be the foreign policy espoused by our current president during his campaign in the year 2000. Of course, 9/11 changed everything. But is there still wisdom for today in the U.S. foreign policies of the 18th century?

Paul, obviously, thinks so. And he does a superb job of making his case, by presenting the historical facts and allowing the authorities to speak for themselves. There is compelling evidence to support the notion that US interventionism in the Middle East provoked the attacks of 9/11, and there is equally compelling evidence to support the notion that we were wrong to take out our frustrations and anger upon Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Of special interest to DRC readers might be Paul’s invocation of “just war” theory to expose the moral dimension of the conflict in Iraq. Citing Ambrose, Augustine, and Aquinas, the congressman argues that the Iraq war fails the moral litmus test. There was no initial act of aggression; diplomatic solutions had not been exhausted; the war was not undertaken by the proper authorities (“…Congress unconstitutionally delegated its decision-making power over war to the president”). Not only does Paul appeal to the Church Fathers in this chapter, he also cites the fathers of modern conservatism—Kirk, Weaver, and Nisbet—to make his case against militarism. Whether you are a Christian or a secularist, you need not be a pacifist in order to be opposed to militarism, as Paul proves convincingly.

The chapter concludes with a note about the high cost—one trillion dollars per year—of maintaining troops in 700 bases around the globe. Yet, no one ever seems to consider the possibility of scaling back our worldwide military presence. In America, the political discourse focuses on which kind of interventionist policy we’ll follow. Paul, though, would have us question our assumptions about interventionism.

One political question perhaps worth pondering is why many who are strongly opposed to the killing performed by abortion doctors seem far less concerned with killing performed by soldiers. But, if Paul is right, much of the killing in Iraq (and other places) has been unjust. I realize that war is a more complex matter than abortion, but I would still like to see more Christians reconsider their support for interventionist wars.

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It is hard to permanently cut off the past. Ghosts have a way of appearing when you least expect it. During the 1950’s American conservatism was struggling. Two world wars, the Great Depression, and the massive centralization that followed defeated the Old Right foot, pike, and dragoons. Mr. Republican, Senator Robert Taft was the last of a noble breed. He was a libertarian traditionalist who believed held firm to the ancient foreign policy prescriptions of the old Republic- stay out of foreign wars and entangling alliances.

Against the centralizers, New Dealers, Communists, ect. arose a new breed of conservative. Russell Kirk, father of modern conservatism, was one of the first to try to rally conservatism by providing a sense of historical continuity, mission, and non-ideological vision rooted in a uniquely American conservatism. Although Kirk was called a “new conservative” his vision stood in continuity with the old. He co-authored a book about the political principles of Robert Taft. He wrote a biography of John Randolph of Roanoke as well. When it came to practical politics the quixotic Randolph and the steady Taft represented the practical outworking if Kirk’s conservatism.

But Kirk was not alone in defining 20th Century conservatism. In fact, more influence was wielded by William F. Buckley and the editors of his fledgling magazine National Review. This is where the revolution on the right really occurred. Buckley was an ecumenical man of the Right who held together an interesting mix of pragmatic elitists (James Burnham), ex-communist, anti-communists (Whittaker Chambers, Frank Meyer), traditionalists (Kirk, Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn), and anti-liberals (Willmoore Kendall). The most distinguishable common denominator among this interesting crew seems to have been difficult personalities and antagonism to communism. Buckley held them together and forged the identity of the modern conservative movement.

There were casualties. The John Birchers, descendants of the Old Right grown inbreed and loopy were excommunicated. Paleo-libertarians like Murray Rothbard were also shown the door. Another common denominator? Antagonism to war and entangling alliances became anathema for the ferociously anti-communist, Cold Warriors of the New Right. Resistance to war was for left wing hippies not middle America conservatives- so clean shaved, right leaning Americans were told.

But today, the cold war is over and the New Right is as dead as the Old Right had been in 1950. As hippy Troubadour and reactionary radical Bob Dylan sang, “the times they are a-changing.” Ron Paul has appeared like a ghost from days gone bye. He has given us hope that better days are ahead. That a new Old Right can rise from the ashes of the new conservatives. Free from the constrains of this life, the ghost of Russell Kirk speaks to us from the grave words tongued with fire- often unspoken during his stay among the living- conservatives must be suspicious of sending their sons to fight foreign wars. The revolution has begun.

21st Century American Conservatism remains undefined. Our principles are the principles of Randolph, Taft, Kirk, and Paul. May the rising generation redeem the time.

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I was a Presbytery a couple weeks ago and noticed that Ron Paul had much more support among St. Lawrence Presbytery teaching and ruling elders than I would have imagined. Shocking since Paul is the least likely of candidate to want to impose morality on the masses.

I would have guessed a good deal of Huckabee-ism but Ron Paul? I am happy for it, but what gives? What do Reformed Christians find so attractive about Paul?

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I was quite befuddled after I discovered a few weeks ago that Ron Paul had a new book out on the market. Isn’t it a little late for a book from this guy? He’s a loser, a has-been. Who would want to read this book now? Why wasn’t this book published six months ago? What a waste! I had no interest in reading it.

Then I learned that the book was a #1 bestseller, and I thought that maybe it might contain something worth reading. But, of course, Paul’s supporters are so crazy; they certainly inflated his sales numbers. (I’m sure that many of his fans still have not come to grips with the fact that he has zero chance of becoming our next president.) I kept wondering, though, about the contents of this “manifesto”. My curiosity finally got the best of me, and I picked up a copy for myself.

In part, I purchased the book as a political statement. Yes, I voted for Paul in the Illinois primary. And I wanted to stand with the legions of “revolutionaries” who were reading the Paul manifesto. I even felt a little proud when the cashier at my local Barnes and Noble sneered slightly as I checked out with the book—I was bearing the reproach of Ron Paul.

There’s something about the Ron Paul movement which has given people hope for the future of our nation and optimism concerning the American political scene—and, given all of our nation’s present ills, we desperately need reasons for hope and optimism right now. The book is certainly evidence of the unusual character of this politician and his campaign. What kind of a presidential candidate releases a best-selling book after he has been eliminated from contention? And when you remember that this candidate is 72 years old, you know that he’s not preparing for another campaign four years from now. Ron Paul is an unusual politician, because he gives you every impression that he’s genuinely concerned about America’s future. Here’s a man who runs for president, not to make a name for himself, but out of a sense of duty. He’s frank and honest, and he doesn’t care how unpopular that makes him.

All of these characteristics are conveyed in the book. Paul recognizes that a substantial number of Americans, particularly younger Americans, have enthusiastically latched on to his political platform. Paul doesn’t want the spirit of ’76 to fade away with his passing. Paul may not be alive to see the real fruit of his peaceful revolution, but that doesn’t deter him. As he writes in the preface, he’s but a small cog in a “long-term project that will persist far into the future”. The issues raised in Paul’s campaign “cannot be allowed to die”. Thus, he concludes, “That is why I wrote this book.”

Chapter One introduces us to “The False Choices of American Politics”. Here, Paul argues that our two major political parties differ very little in substance. Essentially, both parties favor big government, and both want to impinge upon our freedom. Neither party is willing to engage in the basic questions about liberty and individual rights. Yes, Paul sides with the Republican party, but he represents the old Republican tradition of Robert A. Taft, whose words he cites at length:

When I say liberty I do not simply mean what is referred to as “free enterprise.” I mean liberty of the individual to think his own thoughts and live his own life as he desires to think and to live; the liberty of the family to decide how they wish to live, what they want to eat for breakfast and for dinner, and how they wish to spend their time; liberty of a man to develop his ideas and get other people to teach those ideas, if he can convince them that they have some value to the world; liberty of every local community to decide how its children shall be educated, how its local services shall be run, and who its local leaders shall be; liberty of a man to choose his own occupation; and liberty of a man to run his own business as he thinks it ought to be run, as long as he does not interfere with the right of other people to do the same.

Paul writes to return us to the values of the Founding Fathers: liberty, self-government, constitutionalism, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. It’s hard to argue with his premise that most of our political leaders today espouse views which are at odds with the policies that shaped this nation and made this nation great. We’ve fallen a long way. Can we get back on our feet? As Paul suggests, it will likely take another revolution—albeit one without cannons and muskets.

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I appreciate where the W2K guys are coming from but I am sure that the two table division of the Decalogue really holds water, at least as they have frame it. I certainly understand what you are wanting to do. Certainly the first table must work differently within the context of a society than it does within an individual context. Still, I am afraid more thought will be necessary to develop exactly how.

Consider, the oath is at the heart of our legal system but part of the Decalogue (a summary of the moral law) that deals with swearing is in the first table. Likewise the regulation of the Sabbath which until recently was a central part of Western jurisprudence, in fact the Sabbath laws were one of the first things that Constantine did when the Empire took official notice of the Christian religion (in a positive way). Blaspheme was a crime punished by the common law- again the first table. I am presently reading through the four volumes of Blackstone’s Commentaries and am reminded that the common law is a “cradle Christian” in every way.

On the other hand, I recently reread your biography of Machen and I understand your point. Mixing the redemptive realities of Christianity with cultural realities tends to allow the world to distort the and undermine the gospel. Modernity demands that we take sides- the modern world or the gospel. Who wouldn’t choose the gospel?

To read the history of Christendom is to face Augustinian tragedy. It is a tragic situation for friends of the West who are committed to a robust, insular, “militant” Calvinism. We cannot keep pure all that we love. The two cities are locked in eternal combat each trying to destroy the other. We live in both. We deeply love both. Andrew is trying defend Western Christendom but loves the gospel. Darryl is trying to preserve the gospel but loves the West. I wonder if both are trying to avoid the tension.

Or, maybe I am just trying to have my cake and eat it as well. Even so, I will preserve what cake I am able all the while lamenting the tragedy of it all.

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

The elves are fading. We ride forth to battle but not victory? Who can say. God’s hand in history is inscrutable.

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To help celebrate your Ron Paul Memorial Day weekend. Here.

Charles is on to something here. What better way to remember those who have sacrificed all for their country than by joining the Ron Paul revolution. Let’s make sure that our sons and daughters in uniform are called to lay down their lives for our nation and not for some far flung empire.

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