Story Craft, John R. Erickson Book Review by Debbie Thompson, ACM Volunteer If you have 8-10 year old children you may already know John Erickson. He is the author of the popular Hank, the Cowdog stories. Hank is such a delightful doggy character that almost any child or animal loving adult will shake their head …
The problem is that once one goes down the road to taking action in the cause of the ‘public good,’ or as the US Constitution puts it, the ‘general welfare,’ there seems to be no objective place to stop and desist taking action. Moreover, the actions taken tend to accrue over time so that today government at every level- local, state, and federal- has reached into every area of American life. I say ‘every’ on purpose and deliberately, for I am hard pressed to think of any part of my life that isn’t regulated somehow by some government somewhere in some measure.
However, even if we should stop and discover one or two that have been overlooked at present, my general point is that if history is any guide, even these will fall to the regulators at some point. Since it never happens that these impositions- for our own good- are rarely, if ever revoked, we can say with nearly perfect certainty that a day is coming when every little endeavor we engage in, no matter how trifling or miniscule, falls under the legislating eye of the Omni-Benevolent Government.
Thus, a little girl’s lemonade stand necessarily falls under the purview of inspectors.
The platitude is dangerous. On the one hand, when we transmit it, we transmit something we know is not actually true. That’s bad policy right there. On the other hand, it shuts down an important area of human experience that requires extensive critical thinking. In a world filled with evil and malignant men, every good person must be prepared in their mind for what they should do given certain eventualities… because we know from the newspaper and history book that these things do happen. Another danger to the platitude is that it sets people up for guilt after they perform a violent- but righteous- act. Finally, if someone has never actually thought about the matter before and all they’ve been fed is the platitude, they might freeze up and do nothing, or flee when they should fight.
I can think of no better example then the story that emerged out of the Virginia Tech massacre of Liviu Librescu. Here is a survivor of the holocaust, gunned down through the door that he refused to open for the gunman.
I was reading CS Lewis’s The Four Loves and came across the quote below. Obviously, Lewis is not specifically addressing universal health care or liberalism or the question of using the government to administer love. Even Christians can be found thinking that it is a noble expression of a loving society to have the government do the loving… and this with no apparent thought to the actual effect that this ‘loving’ will have on the people ‘loved’ and the attitude it fuels in the people-government doing the ‘loving.’ The most important thing seems to be that, well, people’s intentions are good, and it’s better to do something rather than nothing. Here is the quote:
This [is] Gift-love, but one that needs to give; therefore needs to be needed. But the proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift. We feed children in order that they may soon be able to feed themselves; we teach them in order that they may soon not need our teaching. Thus a heavy task is laid upon this Gift-love. It must work towards its own abdication. We must aim at making ourselves superfluous. The hour when we can say “They need me no longer” shall be our reward. But the instinct, simply in its own nature, has no power to fulfil this law. The instinct desires the good of its object, but not simply; only the good it can itself give. A much higher love- a love which desires the good of the object as such, from whatever source that good comes- must step in and help or tame the instinct before it can make the abdication. And of course it often does. But where it does not, the ravenous need to be needed will gratify itself either by keeping its objects needy or by inventing for them imaginary needs. It will do this all the more ruthlessly because it thinks (in one sense truly) that it is a Gift-love and therefore regards itself as “unselfish.” (pgs 50-51)
Readers of this blog know that I have an interest in Antony Flew, having even had the honor of corresponded with him. Click here for a list of posts I’ve written regarding Dr. Flew. The short story below may be understood better by some if you read this particular post of mine where I discuss …
# In order for something to be considered robust science, it needs to be falsifiable.
# Modern evolutionary theory is usually presented so that it entails unintelligent operations.
# To falsify the claim that something is driven by unintelligent forces one would have to show how intelligent forces were at work.
# Evolutionary apologists insist (with heapings of derision) that such a showing is outside the bounds of science.
# But if showing design is outside the bounds of science than there is no reliable and objective way to conclude scientifically that something is not designed.
# Therefore, macroevolutionary theory cannot be scientifically falsified at the point that it is the result of unguided natural processes since they reject as unscientific the very things that could falsify it.
We are all aware of the placebo effect. This is often described as being the result of ‘sham’ or ‘fake’ treatments or pills with the fact being that the body would have ‘healed itself on its own’ or has its effect because the illness was ‘only in their mind.’
All of these attitudes represent a materialistic outlook, if not outright reductionism. This hard core atheistic outlook has been at the bottom of scientific development in all fields since the early 1900s, and this has certainly spilled over into medicine. This has sometimes been to the detriment, and even the embarrassment, of scientific progress as described in a book that is still one of my favorites, Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz’s The Mind and the Brain. The book charts the history of brain science up to the point where it was finally admitted that thought itself appeared to be able to shape the matter of the brain.
So ABC’s “V” was on again tonight. I enjoyed it. It lacked the same punch as the first episode but I still liked it. It seems a little hurried to me. Maybe there are too many commercials? I’ve seen other hour long shows that seemed to really carry a narrative so I know its possible. I can’t put my finger on it with “V” but it isn’t enough (yet) to push me away from future viewings.
In my previous post, I hoped that I would see some metaphysical conversation. Perhaps its too early in the series, but there wasn’t much in that regards. Ie, unlike the first episode, this one seemed to lack substance. It still got me thinking anyway. I will now outline some of those thoughts.
The visual effects are far superior to the previous incarnation of the series. Indeed, far superior to any show from the 80’s and earlier. The miracle of CGI!
But isn’t it interesting that we are able to recognize that just because the space ships we see hovering over American cities in this show, despite their incredible life like detail, are fictional? This uncanny ability (most) people have is interesting given our “Seeing is believing” society. There is a great deal on television, movie, and computer screens that appears to be absolutely real. Yet, we know it isn’t.
As of this writing, I am facilitating a course/discussion regarding the decline of Christianity in America. Someone made a point in the discussion that is similar to one I’ve made previously… but I can’t find where I made it so I’m making it anew. 🙂
The question begins with a look at the measured increase in self-identified ‘religious nones’ in America since around 1990. (This data can be found linked to here.) In 1990, some 8% of Americans identified themselves as having no religion. Today, that figure has doubled. In the meantime, there has been a drop in those identifying themselves as Christians, from about 86% to 76% of the nation’s population. Some back of the napkin calculation suggests that some 30,000,000 fewer people call themselves Christian than did in 1990 with a significant portion of these falling into the ‘religious none’ category.
However, of note, the number of outright atheists has seen only a moderate increase. Even many of the ‘religious nones’ say they believe something.
For example, consider a family with children that would prefer to have the mother stay home to care for those children. Unfortunately, the income isn’t there to support it, and so the mother has to get a full or part time job. Thus, this family becomes enslaved to a societal structure that makes it difficult to act on the principles and priorities they believe. Ah- but upon further examination, the income is there to support it. When we look at the pay stub, thousands of dollars, every month, are being automatically withdrawn by the state and federal government for taxes and social security.
Put this money back into the hands of this family and suddenly it is possible, even easy, to have one of the spouses stay home.
This example is meant to illustrate the principle that taxation has a direct impact on freedom. As Christians, we should not be indifferent to the effect that governmental policies have on individual groups.