Monday, June 29, 2020

Book Write-Up: The Betrayers, Who Killed the American Family (Phyllis Schlafly)

Phyllis Schlafly and Chester Ward. The Betrayers. Pere Marquette, 1968.

Phyllis Schlafly. Who Killed the American Family? WND, 2016.

Some items:

A. The Betrayers was written in 1968 and endorsed Richard Nixon for President. The best part of the book is the last chapter, where Schlafly and Ward survey the political scene. Should conservatives vote for George Wallace? Schlafly and Ward advise against that because third parties never do well. Should they vote for the Republican or the Democratic Party, or, as Wallace said, is there not a dime’s worth of difference between the two? Schlafly and Ward argue that the Republican Party is better. Republican Presidents from the 1920’s to 1968 had lower deficits, more balanced budgets, and more tax reductions than Democratic Presidents. Schlafly and Ward also take on Christians who would rather retreat from politics and focus on praying for the nation. That did not help Poland and Hungary, where people are devoutly religious yet fell to Communism.

B. The book is called The Betrayers. The implication seems to be that the Democrats pursuing the policies that Schlafly and Ward criticize—-weakness against the global and internal Communist threat and nuclear disarmament—-are not merely uninformed but are actively and consciously betraying the nation. If they were merely stupid, James Forrestral reportedly told Joe McCarthy, they would occasionally make decisions that would favor the U.S., but they do not, so something more sinister must be going on. Schlafly and Ward argue that there are still Alger Hiss types and security risks in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. At the same time, they fall short of actually calling Robert MacNamara, Paul Nitze, and LBJ Communists. As far as Schlafly and Ward are concerned, they have other motivations. They would prefer to be red rather than dead from nuclear war, they trust that the Communists can be appeased through negotiation, or they figure that the Soviets are mellowing. Schlafly and Ward waffle between depicting them as dupes and regarding them as conscious and deliberate betrayers.

C. Who Killed the American Family? laments the decline of the nuclear family in the United States. Most homes are raised by single parents or unmarried couples, and the government is treated as a replacement for the father as provider. The tax and welfare systems penalize marriage. UN treaties, which, fortunately, the U.S. Senate has refused to ratify, would threaten the American family if they were to be ratified: the UN Treaty on the Child, for example, undermines parental authority in the name of children’s “rights.” Legislation and family courts diminish and persecute the father. The Violence Against Women Act is nebulous enough that husbands can be imprisoned for belittling their wives. Family courts occur in secrecy and, using a vague standard of what is in the “best interests of the child,” they render the father absent from his children’s lives and impose on him merciless child support payments, under penalty of prison. The mother can use those payments for something other than the children, and the obligation on the fathers takes little account of the fathers’ current income or even bankruptcy. School curricula, with court backing, alienate children from their parents and the values they are taught in the home. Schlafly is also critical of therapy, seeing it as professional intrusion into the home, and she argues that there is no evidence that it works. Schlafly’s conclusions are controversial—-some of them would even be considered abhorrent—-but she supports her points with anecdotes, statistics, and arguments. Her point about therapy would have been stronger had she addressed what families with relational problems should do instead. Lean on religion? Her point about child support and custody is ironic because, in arguing against the ERA, she stated that ERA would eliminate the system’s preference for the mother in custody cases. In Who Killed the American Family?, however, she laments that the mother is preferred, to the detriment of the father. She has criticized feminism for seeking to eliminate gender distinctions from the law, yet she also sees feminism as an anti-man movement, which would coincide with an anti-husband, anti-father approach on its part.

D. If Schlafly believes that the nuclear family is a divinely-ordained institution, she does not say so, at least in this book. She acknowledges that there are historical and current cultures that have families that are more extended than nuclear. She thinks that a nuclear family is better for a democratic nation, however. At the same time, she does, in a sense, treat the nuclear family as natural. She disputes Margaret Mead’s conclusion that there were societies in which group sex was rampant and the community raised the child; she observes that Mead herself acknowledged that, in tribal societies, the man was the leader. While Africa indeed values extended families, it also has nuclear families, and African children raised in nuclear families do better emotionally than those relying more on extended families.

E. What is so great about the nuclear family, according to Schlafly? The nuclear family is a refuge of safety amidst a harsh world. Fathers, far from being superfluous, are important in that they challenge their children, while still extending their love. Children raised in single-parent homes, on average, do worse financially, academically, and socially than children raised in nuclear families. Nuclear families are where children, in an atmosphere of love, are trained to enter society as responsible adults. There is also a political motivation behind Schlafly’s preference for nuclear families: married couples tend to vote Republican rather than Democrat.

F. Schlafly includes an interesting quote by David Brooks, who observes that the current economy caters to feminine qualities rather than male. Women have empathy and an appreciation for context, something that men stink at. Whether Schlafly agrees with that is a good question. She does not explicitly dispute it. Yet, she laments society’s preference for feminine values such as empathy over male values like rationality.

G. Why do people want to kill the American family? Feminism, with its anti-male attitude, is one culprit, as far as Schlafly is concerned. Schlafly also talks about how Communism sought to undermine the nuclear family when it was attempting to take over a society. Alienating people from their attachments, and the traditions that the families passed on, would make them easier prey for domination by the state. Schlafly acknowledges that Communism ultimately found this path to be unsustainable, which is why the Soviet Union affirmed the traditional family when the Communists came into power. In seeking to destabilize a society, however, Communism attacks the family. Whether Schlafly believes that is still a problem, long after the end of the Cold War, is a good question. She may think that all we have now is the societal disaster that has accompanied the dissolution of the American family; the disaster is not leading to Communism, per se, but it is still detrimental to American society.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Church Write-Up: Psalm 150 and Christian Sanctification

At church, had our final class on the Book of Psalms, studying Psalm 150. Class will not meet next week because of the Fourth of July, but, the week after that (July 12), a class will start on Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.

Some items from church:

A. “Hallel” is frequent in Psalm 150. “Hallel” is shouting out praise to God, giving one’s whole self into doing so. Professional trumpeters, musicians, and dance leaders facilitated this collective praise.

B. Psalm 150:1 states: “Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power” (KJV). The worship occurs in a physical sanctuary, where God meets God’s people. But it also touches eternity, which is the firmament (raqia), what God spreads out. When people worship God, they also worship with the angels and the company of heaven, as well as the saints before and after (Revelation 5, 7).

C. There is a kingdom of power. God operates in this kingdom according to God’s law, natural, moral, and national (insofar as nations reflects God’s standard for societies). God upholds order. But there is also a kingdom of grace, which is the church, where the Gospel operates. The pastor did not say this today, but perhaps mercy is an aspect of the kingdom of power, not only the kingdom of grace, for God is loving and merciful towards God’s creation, even the parts that do not believe in him. God, in this day and age, does not operate according to strict justice.

D. The pastor said that rabbis applied the thirteen hallelujahs of Psalm 150 to the thirteen hallelujahs of Psalm 150. But he was also saying that Psalm 150 has ten hallelujahs. Ten symbolizes that God is complete and inexhaustible: we never run out of God, and God is always and continually there when we praise him.

E. All creation anticipates God’s voice (cp. Luke 19:40; Romans 8:24). The Psalmist foresees a restored world, and Christians have a foretaste of that and anticipate it when they gather for worship.

F. The imperfect occurs in the final verse. Worship is to be and will be ongoing, even after Psalm 150.

G. The Book of Psalms is divided into five books, corresponding to the five books of the Pentateuch. A student asked if each book of Psalms echoes the themes of the corresponding Book of the Pentateuch (Book 1 of Psalms corresponding with Genesis, etc.), or if the compiler simply divided the book into five because he liked the number. The pastor responded that he thinks the latter is the case, but that the compiler, on some level, may have thought the former. Psalm 90 introduces Book 4 and reflects themes in the Book of Numbers: human temporality and endurance of divine wrath, as Israelites in Numbers were condemned to die in the wilderness under God’s wrath. The pastor said that Deuteronomy is about the relationship of the Ten Commandments to Israel’s journey, but Book 5 of Psalms does not reflect that. I would say that parts of it do: Psalm 119 is emphatic about God’s law and commandments, and it is part of Book 5. One might also observe that prominent Psalms about creation—-Psalms 8, 19, and 29—-are part of Book 1, the “Genesis” part. But, ultimately, I agree with the pastor: these themes occur throughout the Psalms, so they cannot be confined to a particular book within the Psalms. Psalm 144 is about creation yet is in Book 5, the “Deuteronomy” part, rather than the “Genesis” part. The patriarchs occur throughout the Psalms, not only in the “Genesis” part. Maybe the compiler made his division, thinking that it corresponded, on some level, with each book of the Pentateuch, but the correspondence falls apart, after a while.

H. In the service, the youth pastor talked about how Christian sanctification occurs. He said that he thinks it occurs when Christians share their faith with one another, building one another up and encouraging one another in the faith. Matthew 10:42 presents giving a cup of cold water to a believer as a way to share the faith.

I. The pastor told a story about when his brother was trying out for the wrestling team. The brother dehydrated himself in an attempt to qualify for a lower weight class, since he figured he would win more matches against a lower weight class. The pastor, somehow, was comparing that with Christian attempts at sanctification. I think about my own life. If the bar is low—-if people are nice and appreciative of my help—-I can easily feel good about my Christian sanctification. If I am placed in a testy, challenging situation, then I perceive my sinfulness and shortcomings quite clearly. I feel humbler in the latter situations than in the former, which is good. At the same time, I fear that God is disappointed in me and that I regularly fail as a Christian in the latter.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Phyllis Schlafly Oral History Project; Equal Pay for UNequal Work

For today’s Phyllis Schlafly post, I will be engaging two sources. One is Mark DePue’s extensive 2011 interview of Phyllis Schlafly, which was part of the oral history program of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. The second is Equal Pay for UNequal Work, which was published in 1984 by the Eagle Forum Legal and Educational Fund. The book contains addresses at a conference about comparative worth, an attempt to insure that women are paid the same as men. Eagle Forum was Phyllis Schlafly’s organization.

Some items. This is not comprehensive.

A. In A Choice Not an Echo (1964), Schlafly laments that Richard Nixon in 1960 gave liberal Republican Nelson Rockefeller the power to shape the Republican platform for that year. In Choice, her claim was that Rockefeller sought to push the platform in an internationalist direction, one that supported military disarmament, American retreat from the Soviet threat, and empowering globalist organizations (i.e., the UN). The critique of that common conservative lament is that Rockefeller, far from supporting nuclear disarmament, actually wanted a military buildup on the part of the U.S. Conservatives’ criticism of Rockefeller’s influence in 1960, the critique continues, is rooted in Rockefeller’s support for civil rights. In the DePue interview, Schlafly states that she cannot think of anything objectionable in the 1960 platform, but she objected to the way that Nixon let Rockefeller come in and change it, after the delegates had spent a lot of time and effort constructing it. On civil rights, Schlafly simply states that she had no interest in that issue in the 1960’s. It did not affect people in her circle, and she was far more concerned about U.S. military inferiority in comparison to the Soviet Union: what use are civil rights, if the Soviets nuke you? She is more supportive of MLK in the interview, however, than she is in her 1968 book, Safe—-Not Sorry.

B. Schlafly states that conservatives were not actually called conservatives prior to 1964. Rather, there were eastern Republicans and middle-class and midwestern Republicans.

C. Schlafly discusses her run for Congress in the 1950’s and whether her moving to Washington, D.C. after winning would disrupt her family life. She replied that she did not expect to win, as that was a heavily Democratic district, so she did not anticipate moving. In terms of her run for Congress, she worked during the day and came home to her family at night. She presents herself as a stay-at-home mother when her children were growing up.

D. Donald Critchlow in Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism says that Schlafly was a long-time opponent of the military draft. In the DePue interview, however, she says that the draft would be necessary in wartime.

E. Schlafly in the updated version of Choice is rather critical of George W. Bush and the Iraq War. She portrays Bush as a cronyist and the Iraq War as a futile exercise in nation-building. In the DePue interview, she is more sympathetic towards George W. Bush. She believes that he had a good heart and that he was not deliberately lying when he said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. She states that she supports the U.S. attacking Iraq to stop the WMDs, but not the subsequent nation-building that the U.S. undertook.

F. Schlafly often said that it is unrealistic for the U.S. to try to make Islamic nations into democracies. In the DePue interview, she fleshes out what she means by that. There are Islamic countries that have cultures that run contrary to democracy. Support for clans can eclipse regard for the broader nation, and Saudi Arabia is run by a family.

G. Schlafly criticizes so-called “free trade” agreements. She talks about how foreign countries circumvent tariffs: “What the foreign countries do is: as they have lowered their tariffs to comply with the trade agreement, they have simply raised their VAT, their value added tax, about the same amount that the tariff used to be. Now the value added tax is a tax that Americans have to pay when they ship and try to sell goods in a foreign country. When the plants in the foreign country want to export to the U.S., their government reimburses them for the taxes they’ve paid.”

H. Schlafly talked about what it was like to be her. When she was in college, she worked at night to pay her way, and she did not have a social life. At graduate school, she had more of a social life because she had a scholarship; yet, she acknowledges that she is shy and is not much of a people-person. She attended Harvard for her graduate studies and says that the professors were largely liberal and supportive of FDR but that they were more balanced in their approach than later academia would be.

I. Schlafly’s political attitudes seem to be rooted, on some level, in her upbringing. Her parents got by during the Depression through hard work and were too proud to ask the government for help. Schlafly looks down on those who expect the government to take care of them, especially when their circumstances are far better than she experienced during the Depression. Schlafly was not a doctrinaire conservative in the 1940’s, however. She says that she supported the UN at the time because everyone saw it as the hope of humanity.

J. Schlafly talks about some of her personal issues with a degree of detachment. When discussing her son John’s homosexuality, she states that she never discusses it with him, that he remains a supporter of Eagle Forum, and that she doubts he is truly gay. She matter-of-factly discusses her husband’s dementia is the last few years of his life. She says that she took care of him and that his sickness was tragic, since he was an athletic man, but there is not much pathos there. She does leave the impression near the end of the interview that there is more to tell: that she had a rich and an interesting family life. Also noteworthy is that she polled her kids about what she could have done differently as a parent and actually appreciated their honest responses.

K. Moving on to Equal Pay for UNEqual Work. Comparative worth is an attempt to ensure that women in largely female-dominated professions—-nursing, secretarial work, etc.—-are paid more. It evaluates each job according to certain criteria (i.e., education, analytical difficulty) and ascribes to it a number, and people are to be paid according to that number. Most of the contributors to the book are opponents of comparative worth. Their argument, first of all, is that women gravitate towards lower-paying jobs, since those jobs give them the flexibility they want so they can raise their families; they are unwilling to put in the time and the effort in the workplace that would bring them higher pay. Second, because many women gravitate towards those sorts of jobs, the jobs end up paying less. When there is a limited supply of jobs and a lot of women who want them, the company is not willing to pay a lot of money to attract people to those jobs; the jobs can be easily filled, and at a low cost. Third, the male-dominated jobs pay more for a reason. They involve risk of life and limb and physical exertion, which is necessary for the company to make a profit. Companies pay according to what is valuable to them, not on the basis of sexual discrimination. Fourth, sex discrimination in the workplace is already illegal, without comparative worth. The EEOC will investigate on the basis of even anonymous tips. Were comparative worth to become law, the result would be economic disaster. The jobs that attract women would now cost more, so fewer women would be hired for them. Companies would have to endure yet another burdensome regulation that adds costs and that makes them less competitive in a global economy. A preferable solution is to open more “male dominated” jobs to women.

L. The book includes some voices that support comparative worth. One professor refers to a case in which tree-trimmers at a hospital were paid more than nurses. The reason, she argues, is that male tree-trimmers are considered to be providers of their families, so they are paid more. If women are recognized as providers, as they increasingly are that, then they would be paid more in their professions. The anti-comparative worth voices, in my opinion, did not adequately explain why tree-trimmers should be paid more than nurses. One simply said, after a lot of complex analysis that went over my head, that this is the way the market works. Why should an NBA player be paid millions?

M. Schlafly often criticizes the ERA because it would undermine protective labor laws for women, such as extra breaks and lesser lifting requirements. Interestingly, conservative economist Walter Williams in his contribution was somewhat critical of those laws: he says that they were used to keep women out of certain professions and that many states therefore nullified them.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Current Events Write-Up: Ann Coulter on Confederate Monuments, a Third Way on Religious and LGBT Rights, Waco Regrets

A brief current events write up:

Ann Coulter: “Yale Has to Go!”

Ann Coulter defends keeping up Confederate monuments: “America concluded its civil war by dominating and subjugating the losers, but also honoring their bravery…At Appomattox, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant allowed Gen. Robert E. Lee to keep his sword. As Lee mounted his horse to leave, Grant saluted him. After announcing the South’s surrender at the White House, President Lincoln ordered the band to play ‘Dixie.’ It was an amazing way to end a civil war.”

SCOTUS Blog: “Symposium: LGBT Rights and Religious Freedom—Finding a Better Way,” by Alexander Dushku and R. Shawn Gunnarson.

“Congress should clarify that federal law protects both LGBT equality and religious freedom. In contrast with the Equality Act, the Fairness for All Act, H. R. 5331, 116th Cong., 1st Sess. (2019), offers a balanced approach respectful of our pluralistic society. It would confirm Bostock’s holding that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is unlawful while also securing meaningful protections for churches, religious schools and other religious organizations. This legislation, the product of years of delicate negotiations between LGBT rights groups and major religious organizations, offers the promise of LGBT rights plus religious freedom—not a false choice between them.”

“Righting Waco: Confessions of a Hollywood Propagandist,” by Phil Penningroth.

I recently watched the Waco miniseries. It depicted Koresh as charismatic, approachable, and compassionate. I recalled a 1993 movie about Waco starring Tim Daly as Koresh. Koresh, there, was depicted as a deranged, harsh fanatic. This article is by the writer of the 1993 movie. He expresses regret and laments that he was swallowing what the government was saying at the time.

Church Write-Up: The Need for Salvation and Psalm 130

Some items from church this morning:

A. The pastor told a story about when he was little and his family was on vacation. He was sitting around, and his father said to him, “Don’t just sit there. Do something!” The pastor said that he would reverse what his father said in the area of Christian sanctification, the process of sinning less and becoming more like Christ. “Don’t do something! Just sit there!” We cannot overcome sin on our own and we need God’s salvation. The pastor seemed to be treating Paul’s statement about beating his body into submission (I Corinthians 9:27) as the thing NOT to do. That would need more explanation. Still, in my opinion, there is wisdom in what the pastor is saying. When one calms down and is at peace, one may find that one acts better than when one intensely tries to tame the wild bull called sin.

B. The pastor referred to a confession that calls us “miserable sinners.” “Miserable,” according to the pastor, means not being in misery but being pitiful: God pities us on account of our sin. We find the Gospel there.

C. The Bible study was about Psalm 130. It is a psalm of degree, perhaps sung as pilgrims went up to Jerusalem for a festival. Psalm 130:1 states: “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD” (KJV). The deep was a symbol for chaos. The Psalmist felt as if he were drowning. This could have been internally, in terms of his own despair, or externally, due to chaos on the outside. God tamed the deep at creation and rules over it, and God tames the deeps within through God’s forgiveness and grace. But God also uses chaos, as when God employs it in judgment.

D. Psalm 130:3 states: “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (KJV). Iniquity, according to the pastor, is the sinful nature behind the sin: how our nature is twisted. If God were to take account of how often that is the case, then who would be able to stand before him? The question that went through my mind, and has gone through my mind before, was, “Is the Christian’s nature still twisted?” Paul in Romans 6 talks about the death of the old human being and death to sin. Are Christians truly dead to sin? Or is that more of a process than a fait accompli?

E. Psalm 130:4: “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared” (KJV). The pastor referred to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s criticism of “cheap grace,” the idea that God loves to forgive, I love to sin, so sweet deal! God’s forgiveness should inspire a degree of fear, however, for, were God not to forgive, the results for us would be catastrophic. God’s law helps us to appreciate God’s mercy.

F. The pastor said that, for Lutherans, the primary motivator of God’s character is his desire to show mercy. Mercy permeates God’s providential care, salvation, and even judgment. God would love to forgive even were there not enough sins for God to forgive. Theoretically, that makes sense: that God would love people, as people, so much that God gives them numerous chances. We are all imperfect, so do we not need chances, and on a continuous basis? For some reason, though, I find that I fail to forgive. Some people are just toxic for me to be around. Or their hurt against me overwhelms any positive feelings that I can muster towards them. I am fine with God loving them, but I don’t love them. Maybe remembering God’s love for them will help me to love them a little bit better.

G. The pastor said that Luther called Psalm 130 a Pauline epistle because it clearly anticipates Paul’s articulation of the Gospel: that all humans are sinners and that forgiveness comes from God’s mercy, not from what we do to earn it. The pastor also called sin the great equalizer: there is no little or greater sin, as far as God is concerned, for sin places all of us in need of God’s salvation. I am going through the Book of Psalms for my daily quiet time and am thinking about the extent to which that reflects the Psalms. The Psalmist talks repeatedly about God favoring the righteous, which sounds like law. Those who pursue peace with others will inherit the land, whereas those who attempt to undermine others will perish in God’s wrath. Yet, although the Psalmist calls himself blameless, he acknowledges that he himself is a sinner and is in need of God’s forgiveness. The Psalmist seems to think that there are better and worse people, depending, perhaps, on whether people are at least willing to behave better. But he also acknowledges that he needs God’s forgiveness.

H. Psalm 130:6 states: “My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning” (KJV). A student remarked that, as surely as morning comes, so is the sureness of our salvation.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Book Write-Ups: Safe—-Not Sorry, A Choice Not an Echo Exp. (Phyllis Schlafly)

A. Phyllis Schlafly. Safe—-Not Sorry. Pere Marquette, 1967.

Safe—-Not Sorry discusses the following topics:

—-The riots of the 1960’s. Schlafly argues that they are not caused by poverty or rats in living facilities, for a large portion of the rioters work at middle-class jobs, and some of the cities in which riots occur have actually solved the rat problem. Rather, the riots are instigated by Great Society workers, Communists, and demagogic politicians and spokesmen such as Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. What happens is that agitators exaggerate legitimate concerns and amplify grievances. People without a car or color television take advantage of the unrest as an opportunity to loot. When the federal government responds to riots by giving the cities more federal largesse, that only rewards and encourages riots. Schlafly endorses a tough, law-and-order response to riots on the part of the police. Meanwhile, she criticizes gun control and bemoans that law-abiding citizens have been prosecuted merely for defending themselves.

—-LBJ’s Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara awarded a THX contract to a Texas area, even though the THX lacks the efficiency of other military planes. The reason is political: LBJ is appeasing a Texas political machine in order to gain votes. The Johnson Administration is rife with corruption, as some members have failed to divest themselves of their business interests before joining.

—-LBJ’s strategy in Vietnam has been to avoid bombing most military targets, while allowing the Soviets to send military supplies to the Communists there.

—-Schlafly was robbed of the Presidency of the League of Republican Women, as Republican leaders sought to purge Goldwaterites from party leadership. Prerogatives that other candidates possessed were denied to Schlafly and her supporters, as non-Republicans were brought in to vote against her. Schlafly encourages readers to become involved in the political process, and that entails more than just passing out literature. Conservatives need to become part of the party leadership.
The book also talks about LBJ’s lax attitude towards security risks in government as well as HUAC chairman Martin Dies’s brave refusal to capitulate to FDR on the issue of Communist infiltration in government, resulting in Dies’s persecution at the hands of FDR and political demise.

I decided to read this book right now due to the protests and riots that are taking place. I am not entirely convinced by Schlafly’s explanation for the riots of the 1960’s, for it makes sense to me, in terms of motivation, that rioters would riot due to horrid conditions. Still, Schlafly’s points deserve consideration.

B. Phyllis Schlafly. A Choice Not an Echo: Updated and Expanded 50th Anniversary Edition. Regnery, 2014.

Schlafly wrote A Choice Not an Echo in 1964 in support of conservative GOP candidate Barry Goldwater. The 2014 edition includes that and more, as Schlafly comments on every Presidential election from 1968 to 2012. In the final chapter, she yearns for a candidate in 2016 who will be a choice not an echo, who would defend American sovereignty against globalists and illegal immigrants. She did not anticipate who was coming (Trump)!

The 1964 edition, of course, is critical of the kingmakers: the political, business, and media elites that pick Republican candidates. They support the New Deal and American intervention in foreign wars because that helps them economically: deficit spending at home and the Marshall Plan abroad boost their profits, and American intervention in World War II protects their business interests abroad. The 2014 updates highlight related and additional issues. The kingmakers until the end of the Cold War still supported nuclear disarmament on the part of the U.S., as, in 1980, they sought to make Gerald Ford Reagan’s VP candidate, which would have ensured Kissinger’s continued influence. Business elites have supported “free trade” and illegal immigration because that increases their profits on the backs of American workers. Globalism—-undermining American sovereignty at the behest of international organizations (i.e., the WTO, the UN)—-is still prominent on the kingmakers’ agenda, as is American intervention in foreign wars. The kingmakers have the money and power to back and to promote candidates, while punishing or marginalizing GOP dissenters. When conservative candidates, such as Goldwater and Reagan, receive a lot of support from people whose livelihoods do not directly depend on the kingmakers, the kingmakers’ influence is lessened.

The updates also comment on social issues, such as abortion and marriage. This was absent from the 1964 edition, probably because Schlafly became more interested in them around the time of her anti-ERA crusade. For Schlafly, conservative stances on social/cultural issues are a winning strategy for the GOP. They brought Reagan Democrats onto the scene, as blue collar and heartland Americans tend to be socially conservative with respect to religion, culture, and family. Contrary to popular political wisdom, the GOP’s focus on social conservatism at its 1992 convention actually gave it a boost in the polls.

Some brief items:

—-Schlafly, for some reason, bends over backwards in her 1964 edition to avoid criticizing Eisenhower. Schlafly herself loved conservative Robert Taft and felt that the Eisenhower subordinates cheated Taft out of the nomination, but she alleges that Eisenhower knew nothing about that. Was she saying that because Eisenhower was still popular in 1964?

—-Schlafly’s foreign policy positions reflect how nebulous the Old Right was. She is generally critical of American intervention into foreign wars, but she also supports a tougher, more robust, even hawkish stance towards Communism abroad. In her oral history, she is even nebulous on that last point: she criticizes American intervention in Korea and later Vietnam, yet she also says that, now that the U.S. entered those wars, it should try to win.

—-What conservatives typically supported sometimes receives short shrift in the update. In 2000 and 2004, the big issue was the War on Terror. Conservatives tended to treat George W. Bush as Reagan redux, undertaking the same sort of tough stance against terror that Reagan had against the Communists; liberals, meanwhile, were dismissed as tepid weaklings. Schlafly does not parrot that. When she does comment on the Iraq War, it is usually negatively, treating it as an example of costly nation building that would never work. The issues on which she focuses are social/cultural conservatism, globalism, and illegal immigration. On these issues, she finds some things to praise, but much more to criticize, about the Republican presidential candidates from 1988 to 2012.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Book Write-Up: Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ, by Thomas R. Schreiner

Thomas R. Schreiner. Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology. Second Edition. IVP Academic, 2020. Go here to purchase the book.

Thomas R. Schreiner teaches New Testament interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This book, approximating 600 pages, discusses key elements of Paul’s theology. Schreiner draws both from the letters that scholars deem authentically Pauline as well as the letters that scholars consider Deutero-Pauline, which Schreiner regards as authentic. Schreiner engages a variety of topics, including, but not limited to, the nature of God’s righteousness in Romans, universalism, divorce and remarriage, predestination, the New Perspective, and whether pistis Christou is the subjective or objective genitive.

Five discussions in particular stand out to me:

—-Schreiner addresses the question of what Paul means when he says that believers are “in Christ.” Schreiner arrives at the solution, based on Romans 5, that Paul means that believers are “in Christ” rather than “in Adam,” subject to death and condemnation.

—-Schreiner addresses the question of how Paul can deny that any person is righteous when the Old Testament mentions people who were righteous. Schreiner’s answer is that Paul is speaking in a big-picture, general sense. That is not a very satisfying answer, but it does illustrate that Schreiner’s book entertains questions that I, and others, might have.

—-Schreiner talks about church discipline and asks if every sin should be subject to it. Schreiner answers in the negative and says that it concerns major sins, such as idolatry and fornication. At the same time, Schreiner states that Paul presumes that the church would be a community in which people continually challenge, encourage, and exhort one another, even about minor sins. Schreiner’s discussion here is helpful.

—-Schreiner disputes the idea that there can be “carnal Christians,” Christians who are saved simply by belief and can rest in the assurance that they will go to heaven after they die, even if their lives lack practical sanctification. For Schreiner, Paul’s belief is that eternal life is something that believers must continually pursue, not something that is a sure thing on the basis of a “decision for Christ” that they made years ago. When Paul exhorts believers to do good works, those works relate, in some sense, to gaining eternal life, not merely to rewards. Those who sow after the Spirit sow after life, whereas those who sow after the flesh reap death. This is not a very comforting message, but, as is often the case, it is difficult to refute Schreiner’s exegesis. If Schreiner is correct, the best I can do is to hope that God is still merciful, even if my life and attitudes fall vastly short of the fruit of the Spirit.

—-Schreiner talks about Paul’s view on divorce and remarriage. Schreiner makes a case that Paul denies to Christians the option to remarry after divorce, then he tags onto the end the statement that Paul would probably have permitted it, since humans need companionship. Ordinarily in the book, Schreiner is adept at summarizing different perspectives then lucidly and effectively evaluating and critiquing them. Here is a slight exception.

This book is meaty, yet lucid, scholarly, yet spiritually-edifying.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest.

Church Write-Up: God Moment, Psalm 100, Jesus as God’s Face, Long Happy Life

Some brief items from church.

A. The pastor told a story about when his daughter and son were in Norway and missed the bus to the airport. Someone came and gave them a ride to the airport and they considered that a God-moment. I could identify because times when one is vulnerable and delivered from that vulnerability are causes for celebration—-they seem to be God-moments, even though non-Christians may attribute them to mere luck.

B. The class was about Psalm 100. The pastor said that Psalms 91-100 may be by Isaiah because they overlap with themes in Isaiah 40-66, particularly in what it says about the new heavens and the new earth. Psalms 91-100 manifests a universalism, one that applies creation and redemption to the nations and invites them into covenant with God.

C. The pastor also said that in Jesus we see God face to face, unlike Old Testament folks. I struggle with this concept. Moses could not see God face to face because that would kill him. When people saw Jesus, they were not seeing God in his fullest form—-the form that is deep, incomprehensible, overpowering, and deadly. Rather, they were seeing God manifest as a human. Still, John 1 does say that Jesus was a revelation of God that surpassed what came before, the times when no one saw God at any time. That invites a question: what did Jesus informed people about God that they did not know before? Perhaps they saw God doing things in the human arena of which, before, they only had theoretical understanding. God suffering on the cross for humanity, of course, reveals a depth of love that surpasses the pictures of God in the Old Testament.

D. I would like to add an item from last week that I forgot to include. Someone commented that, when he read passages in the Old Testament promising a long life to those who obey God, he thought that promise lacked appeal. Why would we want to live a long life here? Wouldn't we want to go to heaven instead? But he read a commentator who said that the focus on such passages is on, not length, but happiness. God promises a happy life, and that is what Christians will experience in heaven. The student's point stood out to me because I have wondered if there is a Christian theology book that addresses the theological significance of the Old Testament promises of longevity and prosperity to those who obey God. We see those promises in the Old Testament, but we also see the Book of Job's acknowledgement that "Well, things don't often work that way!" There are evil people who live long, happy lives, and there are innocent people who suffer and die prematurely. Historians argue that, because this life is unjust, Judaism embraced the concept of the afterlife: this life is unjust, but the next life will reward the righteous and punish the wicked. How should a Christian approach that theologically? Were the Old Testament promises of a long, prosperous life for the righteous incorrect?

Monday, June 8, 2020

Book Write-Ups: Who Will Rock the Cradle?, The Flipside of Feminism (Phyllis Schlafly)

Phyllis Schlafly, ed. Who Will Rock the Cradle?: The Battle for Control of Child Care in America. Thomas Nelson, 1990.

Phyllis Schlafly and Suzanne Venker. The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know—-and Men Can’t Say. WND Books, 2011.

Who Will Rock the Cradle? (hereafter abbreviated as WWRC) is a transcript of presentations delivered at a 1990 conference on child care policy. The subject was whether the federal government should subsidize day care institutions, which would then offer day care to families at a sliding scale, or if it instead should offer families a $1000 tax credit that they could spend on whatever child care they chose. The conference was hosted by Eagle Forum, a conservative organization led by Phyllis Schlafly. Its presenters were academics, activists, child care professionals, and policymakers. Although one of the presenters endorsed paid family leave, the perspective of this book is largely conservative. The presenters support the $1000 tax credit rather than government-subsidized day care centers, primarily because they believe that young children should be raised by their families rather than the federal government.

The Flipside of Feminism (hereafter abbreviated as Flipside) was written by Schlafly and her niece, Suzanne Venker. The book, not surprisingly, is a critique of feminism. Its critique comes from a variety of angles, but its essential argument is that feminism contradicts how men and women are. Women naturally want children. If they postpone childbearing to pursue a career, the natural time for childbearing may pass them by. If they have young children and are spending hours at a paying job, that compromises their ability to be attentive and effective parents to their children, who especially need them at a young age. Consequently, they can benefit from a man who is the breadwinner of the family. Many women desire intimacy with a committed male rather than the “liberated” hook-up culture that feminism promotes. Marriage as an institution benefits not only women but also men, as it channels the male sex drive into a responsible direction, as men work long hours to be providers of their families. The book also criticizes the war on boys: boys like to be active, but schools treat that as a discipline problem. That is part of feminism’s overt and explicit denigration of males, as feminists lambaste men in ways that men would never be allowed to lambaste women. Moreover, Schlafly and Venker lament that Title IX has been used to undermine male sports, such as wrestling. Schlafly and Venker also critique the feminist notion that American society discriminates against women. Women went to college and were working outside the home long before the modern feminist movement came along, and increasing technology gave them the leisure to pursue such activities. Men and single women make roughly the same salary from the same work, and any “pay gap” between men and women is due to married women’s desires to raise their children rather than spend lots of time at the office. The content of this book will not be surprising to those who are familiar with Schlafly’s work. What Venker seems to add to the book is a down-to-earth, empathetic quality.

Here are some thoughts, observations, and impressions about these books:

A. Economically-speaking, is the U.S. able to return to the days when women stayed at home and men went to work? If one were to synthesize the different ideas in WWRC and Flipside into a coherent whole, it would look something like this: Women can stay at home with their children, but it would require financial sacrifice. Families would have to give up a lot of the luxuries to which they are accustomed. A tax cut or a tax credit can help them, for even lower-income families pay the payroll tax and can use relief from that. While a $1000 tax credit may not look like much, it can go a long way in a society in which day care costs $3000 a year; meanwhile, lower-income families can supplement that $1000 with other programs that the government offers. For the contributors to WWRC, the tax code should return to the days when it prioritized families with children rather than stigmatizing them, for families that raise children are performing an essential service to the nation in that they are raising up the next generation.

B. According to these books, should women stay at home with their children to the exclusion to working outside of the home? The contributors obviously prefer that women stay at home with their children up to a certain age, probably when they enter school. One of the contributors actually argues that children should first enter school in the third grade! Infants and young children need their mother’s nurture, attention, and love to gain a sense of self and security. WWRC is rather negative about day care centers, presenting them as places where children are alienated from their parents and where diseases are easily spread. At the same time, WWRC backs away from suggesting that mothers should be the only ones who watch their children. Grandparents and neighbors can do so, as can religious day care. A problem that the contributors have with the Democratic-proposed legislation at the time was that it undermined alternative forms of day care. It would impose regulations and lots of paperwork on informal child care facilities and even grandmothers, while stigmatizing religious day care, which would fail to meet the secularist licensing requirements. Regulations are also counterproductive in that they drive up the cost of day care.

C. Another tension in WWRC is over whether there is a great deal of demand for institutionalized day care centers. On the one hand, contributors argue “no.” It is primarily the upper-income who benefit from institutionalized day care, while about half of America’s women either stay at home with their children or make use of extended family or informal child care facilities for their child care needs. On the other hand, contributors answer “yes.” They fear that subsidizing day care centers could drive religious day care out of business, as families flock to the low-cost facilities that the government recognizes, and which thereby provide them with a sliding scale fee. A related tension is whether families, in this day and age, live close enough to relatives who can look after their children when the parents are busy. Some in WWRC say that this is a problem that primarily affects upper-class professionals, who move away from their families in pursuit of employment. Others note, however, that, yes, in this day and age, families and neighbors are not as close to each other as they were in the 1950’s.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Church Write-Up: Two Stories and Psalm 90

Some items from church this morning:

A. The pastor told a story about when he was 21. He was earning money to go to seminary and was working at an ice cream place. His position was management-track, but he started out merely as an employee. As an employee, he got to know the other employees who were younger than him, and they saw him as a big brother. When the ownership of the company changed and he became a manager, however, they stopped seeing him as a big brother, treating him instead as the boss. They learned that he would go to seminary, and that only amplified the problem, for they saw him as too holy for them to be themselves around. The pastor said that many of us are like that with God: we may see God as a friend and a confidant, but we may also feel that God is too distant, too holy, for us to have a relationship with him.

B. Another story the pastor told was about a Concordia basketball game. One of the Concordia basketball players, who was going to seminary, was blowing his top on the field. A mentor to students went up to him and gently whispered in his ear, “Remember who you are.” His point was that the student was a seminarian and should be an example to others. As the pastor said, there is a “law-edge” to this. But the pastor said that we should also remember “whose we are.” This story stands out to me on account of the week that I had. I am glad, on these sorts of weeks, that people do not know that I am a Christian, for I would be giving them a bad impression of what Christians are like.

C. The Sunday school class was about Psalm 90. The Psalm is about human ephemerality in the face of divine eternity. The human ephemerality—-the finitude and the suffering that accompanies it—-is due to divine judgment on the human race and on creation. In the midst of this, however, is God’s love and mercy, and we can take refuge in that. Something that stood out to me this morning was how, from what the pastor was saying, it seems that Christians are experiencing different dispensations at once. We still suffer God’s wrath because we suffer and die. We still have to deal with God’s law because it informs us when we are going something wrong, tries to restrain us, and tells us what we deserve. But God’s mercy, grace, and love also exist for Christians. The pastor talked about eternity and how it may be more of a realm than endless time: Jesus reigns in eternity, while earth still trudges along in sin and under wrath. Yet, in the service, the pastor was saying that Jesus’s ascension, in a sense, makes him even more present in creation.

D. I was curious about Psalm 90:10, which places the human lifespan at 70-80 years. How can that be, when life expectancy was low back then? You look at the lives of the kings of Israel and Judah, and many of them die at age 40. I looked at some commentaries. The Word Biblical Commentary states: “Traditionally understood as a statement of the typical life expectancy of human beings, which seems unrealistic by normal patterns of life in the ancient world. Conditional clauses in 10a and 10b seem more plausible. The subject of the verse is clearly the ephemerality of even a long human life, as 10c and 10d make clear.” That could be. I wonder, though, if the long ages that are attributed to the patriarchs, and even to Moses, may be relevant. Back in the nebulous old days, the thinking went, people lived for a long time; that may not have been true, but that is what they thought. The Psalm, in this context, may be a Mosaic pseudepigrapha. I looked at an old post that I wrote about Psalm 90 and found this about the 70-80 years: “Another approach is to apply Psalm 90 to God’s punishment of Israel in the wilderness—-God’s declaration that she will wander forty years in the wilderness, and that only her children will enter the Promised Land. In this scenario, the Psalmist’s declaration in v 10 that people live seventy or eighty years is Moses reflecting on how the wilderness generation will die without entering the Promised Land. According to this logic, much of the wilderness generation was around the age of 30 when it was cursed—-the time of adulthood—-and it died forty years later, at age 70. Moreover, according to Mowinckel, the scribe who attributed Psalm 90 to Moses thought that v 16’s prayer for the children related to the children inheriting the Promised Land.”

Steve Hays

Christian apologist Steve Hays passed on at the age of 61. Steve was a prolific blogger at Triablogue. Over the past five years or so, he was my favorite blogger.

If you would have told me ten years or so ago that I would become a devoted reader of Triablogue, I would have laughed at you. I knew about Triablogue from the progressive Christian and atheist blogs that I read, and they did not care for it. I doubted that Triablogue would say anything that other Christian apologists had not parroted before, and I rolled my eyes at what other Christian apologists had parroted before, dismissing it as “pat answers.”

I first met Steve when he commented on my blog in 2014. I was sharing my usual struggles with Christianity: Isaiah 7:14 being about Isaiah’s time and not Jesus, Jesus mis-predicting the timing of his return, etc. Steve recommended to me some mainstream scholarly articles about these topics and also Triablogue posts that he had written. In one of his posts, he argued on the basis of Revelation 12 that the Book of Revelation does not necessarily see Jesus coming “soon” as Jesus coming in John’s day. I was not entirely sure if I agreed with what Steve wrote, but it was something that I had never encountered before. It left me scratching my chin and thinking, “Hmm.”

That, in my opinion, was what made Steve brilliant, not just smart.

Steve definitely was smart. He was extremely well-read in fields of history, theology, biblical studies, philosophy, science, and politics, and he was able to sift through these fields and arrive at a coherent account of what he himself believed. Not only was he well-read, but he continued to read and to learn. He read my blog because he felt that, somewhere in my meanderings, it taught him something. He was continually becoming aware of scholarly articles, books, monographs, and commentaries.

But Steve was brilliant in that he came up with new ideas—-not heretical ideas, but new ideas that were outside of the box. He was also effective in coming up with quick answers to questioners and people with whom he debated, and these answers were substantive. They usually took the form of succinct lists rather than complex prose, but these responses cut to the heart of the matter, taught something new, and gave a constructive way of looking at an issue.

Something else that I liked about Steve was that he tried to empathize with where others were coming from. His critics would undoubtedly laugh at this, seeing him as a harsh closed-minded debater. But he often would feature a skeptical objection with which one could empathize and offer a Christian response that took seriously that skeptical objection. In my case, he knew that I had Asperger’s Syndrome, which poses social challenges to me, and he sent me recommendations on books and articles that I could read. I also recommended one of Steve’s Triablogue posts to a young man who was struggling with the usual sexual desires that face heterosexual men. Others in that online Reformed group were recommending cold showers and shaming the young man for even having sexual feelings, but Steve had a different take on Matthew 5:27-29.

Another reason that I liked Steve was his interest in the paranormal. I am the sort of person who likes stories about ghosts, UFOs, and psychics. Steve had an interest in those things, too, and his perspective was reasoned, empathetic towards people’s experiences, and yet distinctly Christian.

Steve also did not take himself too seriously. When people did not like him, or when progressive or skeptical scholars and academics dismissed him, that did not bother him. As he said more than once, he did not debate them to convince them, but rather to show onlookers that there were answers to the arguments that progressives and skeptics were raising. As more than one commenter noted in the tributes to Steve on Triablogue, people did not feel they even knew a lot about Steve. Was he married? Did he have children? What was his job? But he shared who he was, in his own way, by posting about his thoughts and his values.

I will miss Steve’s posts on Triablogue. As events transpire, and as propagandists reign, I was always curious about what Steve’s take was on the latest issue. I will miss that.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Book Write-Ups: Where's the Birth Certificate?, Killing the Deep State, America for Sale (Jerome R. Corsi)

A. Jerome R. Corsi. Where's the Birth Certificate?: The Case that Barack Obama Is Not Eligible to Be President. WND Books, 2011.

This is a "birther" book, one that questions that Barack Obama was a natural-born citizen of the United States and thus his constitutional eligibility to be President. According to common law, which forms the context of the U.S. Constitution, a natural-born citizen is not merely a person who was born on American soil; children of foreign diplomats and Native Americans were born on American soil, but that did not make them natural-born citizens. A natural-born citizen is one whose parents, both of them, are natural-born U.S. citizens. The purpose of this law is to ensure that the President's loyalty is to the United States, not another country. Even if Barack Obama had been born in Hawaii, Corsi contends, he fails to qualify as a natural-born citizen because his father was not a natural-born citizen. That said, there are reasons to question whether Obama even was born in Hawaii. Those birth announcements in the Hawaiian newspapers after he was born inaccurately list the home of his grandparents as the home of his parents, so his grandparents may have placed the announcements in the newspapers so Obama would be considered a U.S. citizen; they recognized the advantages that Obama would have as a U.S. citizen. One of his Kenyan relatives claims she saw Obama's birth in Kenya, notwithstanding attempts to distort what she said. Obama, prior to this book, spent large sums of money against attempts to get him to release his long-form birth certificate, and one election official in Hawaii, with access to records and who lacks anti-Obama animus, expressed doubt that Obama even had a long-form birth certificate. This book raises interesting questions and is well-documented, though it could have done a better job explaining the inconsistencies it cites about Obama's birth and Obama's own narrative. For instance, Corsi notes documentation about two different Hawaiian hospitals purported to be the places of Obama's birth, but he did not explain how and why this inconsistency came to be.

B. Jerome R. Corsi. Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump. Humanix, 2018.

Compared to Where's the Birth Certificate, this book was a disappointment. The national security apparatus's disdain for President Trump is well-known and documented. Corsi did not fully explain the reasons for its disdain: he mentions globalism and its commitment to a new world order but fails to flesh this out. However, he has another book, America for Sale, which is specifically about the new world order. People can still learn from this book. Corsi highlights shady things in which Robert Mueller was involved, but those sections are rather dense. Corsi also argues that the hacking of the Democrats during the 2016 election took place, not from Russia, but from within the U.S., and he contends that Seth Rich had something to do with that.

C. Jerome R. Corsi. America for Sale: Fighting the New World Order, Surviving a Global Depression, and Preserving USA Sovereignty. Threshold Editions, 2009.

I decided to read this book because I was curious about Corsi’s view on the new world order, since he argued in Killing the Deep State that the deep state was intent on preserving the new world order against President Trump’s attacks on it. What is this new world order, and how and why does the deep state support it? I thought this book would provide more context on that question.

America for Sale does not answer how and why the deep state supports the new world order, but it does discuss the topic of the new world order. Here are some thoughts, observations, and reactions.

---When I was in junior high school, I was reading Bircher-like material, which argued that there is an elite that is trying to create a one-world government, or “new world order.” When President George H.W. Bush proclaimed the virtues of a “new world order” during the first Gulf War, I, and others, thought that he meant a one-world government. In my English class, I was assigned to write an editorial, and I chose to write a critique of the new world order and the conspiracy to create it. My teacher, a liberal Democrat, thought that I was misunderstanding the term. She said that the new world order refers, not to a one-world government, but rather to municipal trade agreements. “Now, if you want to argue that those could lead to a one-world government, that is fine,” she continued, “but new world order itself does not mean a one-world government.”

I was thinking of that conversation when reading this book, for Corsi’s claims, on some level, are rather modest. Corsi talks about multinational corporations and free trade, and he thinks that could lead to a one-world government. There is a push for greater economic union within North America, and some prominent people have even expressed a desire that a North American Union could function like the European Union: countries exist, yet they are subject to certain transnational regulations from the Union of which they are a part. Corsi speculates that this could lead to a one-world government, as the European Union and the North American Union are integrated with each other. Meanwhile, the collapse of the American economy and dollar may encourage Americans to surrender their national sovereignty for economic survival.

---Corsi praises the Tea Party movement in this book, and his economic views overlap with economic libertarianism. At the same time, this book does stray from your typical right-wing Republican piece. First of all, Corsi spreads the blame for the 2008 financial crisis to both political parties. Both political parties supported deregulation of the banking industry, and both encouraged home loans to risky people. Second, like Bernie Sanders, Corsi criticizes income inequality, in which a tiny percentage owns most of the wealth in the U.S. Third, Corsi is critical of public-private partnerships and selling public assets, like toll roads, to private interests. According to Corsi, this often results in foreign companies owning a piece of America, which places American national security on shaky ground. Fourth, Corsi documents that one reason that some economic interests favor more globalism is that they do not care for the government regulation from particular states; they want less government regulation on themselves and thus a body above nation-states that has that. Corsi also discusses left-wing motivations behind globalism (i.e., humanitarianism), but there are also right-wing motivations. Fifth, in offering suggestions as to how to cope with the coming economic depression, Corsi recommends that different generations live together, young with old. This differs from the “move out of the house” rhetoric I hear from some conservatives. Finally, Corsi depicts Hugo Chavez, who is reviled by conservatives for being a socialist, as an opponent of the New World Order, since Chavez was against the North American Union.

---Corsi talks about loose currency and how that leads to inflation, yet he also tries to account for why it has not yet led to hyper-inflation. One reason is the influx of cheap goods as a result of free trade. Another reason relates to other countries holding our debt. (I remember during George W. Bush’s Presidency when Democrat Paul Begala was criticizing Bush for selling the national debt to China, saying that gives China control. I wonder what the latest on that is.) Were countries to lose confidence in the U.S. and the dollar, Corsi argues, they might drop our money like flies, and hyper-inflation would result.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Book Write-Up: Child Abuse in the Classroom, by Phyllis Schlafly (ed.)

Phyllis Schlafly, ed. Child Abuse in the Classroom. Pere Marquette Press, 1984.

Alongside military preparedness and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), education was an important issue to conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. Her Eagle Forum regularly published Education Reporter, and she herself home-schooled her children in the first grade. Her concern about the education of children overlapped with her other political stances, for she feared that public education was indoctrinating children in liberal political and social beliefs, which took time away from teaching the basics.

This book contains testimonies before official proceedings of the U.S. Department of Education in 1984. The testimonies are from parents, teachers, and academics from across the U.S. They concern an amendment proposed by Senator Orrin Hatch that prohibits schools from conducting psychological tests on children without the express permission of their parents. Those testifying are in favor of the Hatch Amendment.

What sorts of things in public schools do they oppose? Some examples:

—-Values clarification: assisting children in making moral decisions on the basis of their own value systems rather than the traditional or religious morality that they received from their parents;

—-Situational ethics that ask students to pick what they consider the lesser of two evils;

—-Having children talk in class about their discontent with their parents as well as sensitive subjects such as death and suicide;

—-Requiring children to pick who lives and who dies in fictional scenarios about a limited number of resources;

—-Grisly stories like “The Lottery,” in which a town stones a boy’s mother;

—-Drug education that encourages the responsible usage of drugs rather than “Just say no”;

—-Giving children activities in which they display knowledge of profane words;

—-Sex education that is overly graphic;

—-Having children identify something they dislike about a classmate as a class exercise;

—-Student journals that are more about creating psychological profiles of students rather than evaluating their spelling and grammar;

—-Classroom discussions that encourage a left-wing viewpoint on abortion, homosexuality, nuclear disarmament, and a one-world government;

—-Recommending Planned Parenthood to teens, without the knowledge of their parents;

—-Mastery learning, which requires students to master a subject completely before moving on to the next level, rather than treating learning as synthetic.

Part of these parents’ problem was due to the age of their children when they were receiving this instruction. As more than one parent, and even Senator Hatch and President Ronald Reagan, explained, third-graders lack the maturity and sophistication to make moral decisions on their own, for they are primarily trying to fit in with their peers and to please their teachers. Much of the material is also traumatic for children at such a tender age. Age is not the only factor in the parents’ opposition, for some of the parents oppose such instruction for any age. They either prefer that schools teach exclusively a pro-American, pro-Christian, pro-free enterprise position, or that, for older students, they at least present different perspectives rather than just a leftist one.

Other considerations: in many cases, the children do not want to be pressured to answer questions about their views on their parents or other personal matters. Often, because kids can be cruel, kids make fun of students who talk in class about, say, their parent’s suicide under pressure from the teacher or visiting counselor.

When parents expressed problems to school teachers and administrators about this, they received a variety of responses, largely negative. One response was denial that such curricula was being used, even though the parents knew from their children and other parents about the curricula. Another response was to allow the student to opt out of the exercises but to sit alone in the library or to write book report after book report. Another response was to recommend to the parents that they send their child to another school. Still another response was to retaliate against the parents by punishing their children.

Very occasionally in the book, we get a glimpse into the rationale behind such curricula, at least if we were to ask its creators what their precise aim was. Part of their goal is to encourage the children’s socialization within the school, their family, and society. Part of it is to foster critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving. Some of the testifiers quote humanists who see public schools as mission fields for humanism.

Other possible reasons for such curricula, based on my own reading, classes, and guesses:

—-Its designers sincerely believe that a left-wing society is beneficial to people and want to train children to live in such a society and to help create it. They may believe that the child is already indoctrinated by society, the family, and churches in harmful and oppressive ideologies, such as religion, selfish and exploitative capitalism, racism, and a warfare mentality. The public school is a place for the designers of the curriculum to get their message out.

—-They may feel that schools must provide a place for students to talk about difficult issues because the students are unable to do that at home. The parents may not discuss these issues or even might be absent due to work, or they might be judgmental towards their children if they make a poor decision.

—-According to Kolhberg, who is criticized in this book, it is maturer for people to act morally because they want to do so rather than in obedience to traditional authority.

—-Part of education is acknowledging the grim side of life and preparing people to cope with it.

—-Teaching children cuss words and acceptance of homosexuality helps them to understand and accept those around them, and, for the designers, that is good for society.

In terms of the rude responses by administrators, I can envision administrators advising parents to send their children to another school. If we are talking about a specific unit on, say, Values Clarification or sex education, then it would be easy for the teacher to excuse the student whose parents have objections. If liberalism pervades social studies, health, and literature classes, then that would be much more difficult, if not impossible.

More can be said, but I will stop here.

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