When God is Absent

What does a nation look like when God is not there? Or at least when its people live like God is absent.

Events in the world and in America have taken a dark turn at many levels in 2021. The COVID epidemic rages on, though natural and vaccine-related herd immunity is increasing. Political divisions, riots, and even hatred, continue at levels unseen since the American Civil War. False accusations fly without regard for the truth and without considering different perspectives. People and organizations lock down to protect themselves at all costs, and sacrifice individuals regardless of prior contributions or future potential.

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The Purpose of Government

Governments, all governments, are established under God by the will of the people, although not necessarily all the people. They have specific and limited purposes. Governments cannot and should not try to do everything for everyone.

Democracies, in which each eligible voter selects their favored candidate for each office in a fair process, most visibly follow the will of the people. Dictatorships, however, also require popular support. Saddam Hussein used Sunni Baathists to place him in power and keep him there. As a result, he provided choice government positions to his loyal followers, favored friendly companies with government contracts, and then leaned on the recipients to keep their people in line. Simultaneously, Hussein ensured that Sunni Muslims, though a minority in Iraq, received more consistent electrical power, better services, and more opportunities than the majority Shia Muslims received. Had Hussein not cultivated powerful supporters, he would have fallen. A careful or even cursory study of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Napoleon, and other dictators throughout time and space shows the same thing. No man is powerful enough to rule a nation alone; he must have help from the people to gain power and keep it.

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Smashing Statues

Statues are coming down all over America, some in a raging mob amidst political pandering, and others with government-directed construction crews. Few memorials are coming down after calm debates and reasoned decisions. Why do we have such statues in the first place? Which ones is it appropriate to remove? Which not?

The mass killing of Jews and other “undesirables” by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust (1939-1945) was one of the worst crimes in modern history.[1] The Holocaust spilled oceans of blood, and its cruelty was beyond imagination. Concentration camps like Auschwitz in Poland and memorials and museums in places like Berlin and Washington DC educate current and future generations on what happened in the hopes that such an atrocity will never occur again.

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National Suicide – Comments on Lyceum

In our ongoing study of Lincoln’s words to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield, IL on 27 January 1838, we have briefly examined some of the amazing blessings of America. These include her geography, her resources, her development, and her political institutions. Most people throughout history have been crushed by the boot of tyranny, from Argentina to Japan to Zimbabwe. Even today in China, Russia, Turkey, and many other nations, the light of liberty is flickering, or has gone out. The American people, working through brilliantly conceived and enduring political institutions, have lived in freedom, limited primarily by their own industry and imagination.

We have also discussed the men and women who made the United States the amazing country that it is. As heirs to their wisdom and to their labors, we must be grateful. As heirs to their folly and mistakes, we must be humble, because it is not clear that we are any wiser, or any more industrious, than they were. Looking at the United States today, one wonders if we are not greater fools and greater sluggards. Those who cast aside the Greek democracy and the Roman Republic thought they were building better societies.

Today we must explore Lincoln’s next passage, asking where the danger to America would come.

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Grateful to our Fathers – Comments on Lyceum

Showing gratitude to our fathers for American government is a good idea for us today

“We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them–they are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Their’s was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ’tis ours only, to transmit these, the former, unprofaned by the foot of an invader; the latter, undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation, to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.”

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American Blessings – Lincoln at Lyceum

The first in a multi-part series of commentaries on Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Lyceum.

“We find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us.”

How many of us consider the blessings of being American?

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Government Officials and Flights – Abuse of Money and Power?

The dangers of making decisions too quickly, with too little information, or with too much emotion.

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Tom Price, was forced to resign after revelations that he took charted civilian and military aircraft on trips that were of debatable value to the US taxpayer. The price tag was over $400,000 for the civilian flights and about $500,000 for the military airlift. Since his tenure in office was about eight months (10 February to 29 September 2017), Price spent over $100,000 per month for these flights alone; seemingly an impressive rate of burning taxpayer money. This appears to be prima facie evidence of corruption, or at least rank insensitivity to the needs and resources of the American people.

Price is not the only one. According to the New York Times[1], Secretary Ryan Zinke (Interior), Administrator Scott Pruitt (EPA), Secretary David Shulkin (VA), Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Treasury), and others also garnered criticism for flights from Las Vegas to Europe. These accusations are serious, as public service is a public trust and leaders must act with discretion. Several of these Cabinet members protested that they followed proper procedures, and they may have, but the damage remains. In this time of enormous Federal deficits, and national debts, leaders must not only be squeaky clean; they must appear squeaky clean.

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