This was my first time attending ASC. Since I won’t be able to attend Mises U this year, I decided to try ASC instead. I really liked it. Why?
As appropriate for an Austrian Scholars Conference, it was more scholarly than Mises U. For instance, at almost every meal during the event, everyone at the table would end up talking about economics, philosophy, politics, etc…in some kind of serious way. I don’t remember this happening at Mises U, although maybe I just didn’t sit at the right tables. :)
I felt like I was getting the inside scoop on everything new happening in Austrian economics. On the first day, they had a specific panel for any Austrian scholars who have published a book or will be publishing a book in the next year to introduce their book and talk about it. This was really exciting. Seeing all the new work was so encouraging because it means the Austrian school isn’t only about the works of the older generations, but there are new contributions that relate to specific events going on now, or are elaborations on older works that needed to be expanded.
The attendees were of a more diverse background than at Mises U. Of course there were students but also a lot of adults from various professions and countries. I would say that around half the attendees were from the US and about half from other countries. That made it very interesting!
So what topics or speakers did I especially like?
Gerard Casey from Dublin talked about his forthcoming book, Libertarian Anarchy. It sounds very good and I am excited to get it later this year. Apparently he got tired of constantly answering all these objections to anarcho-capitalism and decided to compile all his answers into a book so he wouldn’t have to keep repeating his answers.
Hunter Lewis, author of Where Keynes Went Wrong, talked about crony-capitalism, why we should use the term, and how it relates to Keynesianism. He was a fantastic speaker and it was a fascinating lecture.
One panel discussed different literary works and how they relate to liberty: Walter Block on Atlas Shrugged, Paul Cantor on Wordsworth and his intense defense of copyright (to the point of even writing sonnets defending copyright), Jo Ann Cavallo on a couple somewhat obscure Renaissance Italian authors, and Roderick Long on three Prague authors (including Kafka). These were really interesting topics and I enjoyed them all.
I am not going to risk never posting this by waiting until I have added more to it, so although there were definitely other speakers and lectures I enjoyed, you will have to take my word for it right now :)
To recap, ASC was fantastic and I am really excited about going next year. It is more doable than taking an entire week off for Mises U. And I actually flew this time (for the first time!) which was quite fun (besides the TSA) and will probably make future trips easier. But…if you have not studied Austrian economics much yet, I would recommend either attending Mises U or taking some fundamental courses online. Even with two years of Mises U behind me, some of the lectures were completely confusing, and I know that more of them would have been over my head if I didn’t have the background and foundations down.
I will be attending the national Ligonier conference tomorrow through Saturday and flying home Sunday afternoon. I imagine my first week or two at home will be crazy, but hopefully after that I can add some more to this inadequate post about ASC 2012 :)
No, I’m not talking about mutual friends on Facebook. I’m talking about a book by Dickens that was recently made into a movie by the BBC. It is in 4 episodes and each episode is about an hour and a half…typical Dickens length. I was a little skeptical because there are some really bad movies out there based on Dickens. I’ve always maintained that Dickens is just not meant for movies. You simply can’t make a good movie out of Great Expectations. His characters are meant for the page, not for the screen. But Our Mutual Friend proved me wrong on this point.
So, very much like Bleak House, there are about a 100 plots (well…maybe more like 8 or 10) and it was much easier in the movie to keep track of the plots than reading the book; I can’t imagine reading Our Mutual Friend. Some of the plots were quite funny, in a very tragic way. Tragic because they revealed the utter misery and baseness of humanity; they showed how low men will stoop and how we will deceive ourselves into satisfaction, even in the most deplorable conditions. The seller of human and animal bones is proud of his “noble” business and his fine collection of skeletons. He woos a young lady into marriage with the promise that he will only sell the bones of “men, children, and lower animals” because she does not want to be regarded in a “bony” perspective. Yet there is a redeeming quality to these people. I can’t explain it…but I felt a sense of sympathy for them. Perhaps this is because there is this conflict within us all: Everything we do is touched by the noble because we were made in the image of God. Everything we do is tainted by the ugly because we are fallen images of God.
Overall, the plots were very good. I know a movie is good when I can’t predict the ending. I was trying to guess what Dickens would do. There’s a poor, beautiful, and good woman…and of course a rich man has fallen in love with her. There’s a violently jealous other man who ends up attacking this rich man after he visited the woman. The episode left off with the woman rowing the mangled and bloody body of her lover to the town (his body was deposited on the banks of a stream). And so for a few days I wondered. Would Dickens have this man live? Would he live for just a little while? Would he die at once? Perhaps he was already dead? And I couldn’t really decide what to predict, and I’m not going to spoil the plot, but this is why it was a good movie: I wanted him to live. I wanted him to live happily ever after with his beloved. In most movies when a crisis like this comes up, I want someone to die just to spite the boring, stereotyped lovers. I want them to suffer because they never do any other time and it seems so unrealistic and fake for everyone to live happily ever after. But in Our Mutual Friend, there had been so much real, deep, unending suffering on the part of this woman that I really did want her to be happy at last.
There were a couple themes I picked up throughout the movie: money vs. happiness and water. First, the movie portrayed different relationships and couples in different stages of this money vs. happiness thing. First the poor, but deeply contended Boffins. Then Bella (no, there aren’t any vampire lovers…) who declares she wants money above all things. John Harmon (the rich heir come back from some foreign land who was supposed to marry Bella, according to his father’s will) in disguise, trying to find out if Bella will love him and trust him without any money. The couple who get married on the assumption that the other party is wealthy…when in reality neither of them have any money and yet must maintain a pretense of splendor and money. The man who loves this poor girl and will rebel against the constraints of society to marry her. It is really quite interesting.
And the second theme, I confess I picked up only at the very end: water. The movie started with a view of the river. The movie ended with a view of the river. Some of the characters made their living by pulling dead bodies out of the river (my first thought: “were there that many dead bodies in the river that you could live off it?”). I already mentioned the scene with the mangled man’s body found in the river, and the girl rowing him to shore. Two very troubled characters found their demise in the river. I haven’t really figured out what all this means, but if you watch the movie, try to notice how Dickens uses water and what he might be trying to say.
While there were a few scenes that were very gory and disgusting, it was very good. It took a little while to get used to the very heavy accents and because of this I can’t say if there was much bad language because it was so hard to understand them anyways, lol.
In the first part of these posts I argued that Common Law isn’t contrary to Biblical Law but it is a natural extension of the Bible that allows us to live with and interact with those who have no respect for the Bible.
And while I do have respect for the Reconstructionists and what they’re trying to do, I must continue to disagree with them. I’m bothered by this movement to use the Bible as a guide to everything we do. The Bible isn’t primarily a guide to this life, it is a guide to life everlasting. There are all these books and pamphlets, “what does the Bible say about…Economics? Math? Astronomy? Education? Changing a Tire?” (Okay…that last one was totally made up, I confess). And in one sense, it is good for us to consult the Bible and use it as a measure for the rest of life. But on the other hand, I think that type of thinking trivializes the point of the Bible. Here’s an example. Last fall I did an 8 week class on economics for my sisters and a couple other children from our church. I occasionally took examples of economic principles from the Bible. Such as the principle of saving and not consuming everything…the story of Joseph in Egypt was a perfect story for that. And that was fine, but I used the Bible sparingly in our classes. Why? Because the story of Joseph isn’t about how we should save some money for a rainy day. The story of Joseph has a much bigger scope and is about so much more than a principle for allocating our money. The story of Joseph is a picture of salvation. It points us to Christ, and if we’re so caught up in reading all these little details into the Bible, we miss the glorious message. In other words, if we’re consulting the Bible about chemistry, math, economics, politics, etc…we’re missing the forest for the trees. The purpose of the Bible is tell us the Good News, to tell us of our sin, of our need for redemption, of the Savior who gave His life for us, and of the Way to eternal life.
I’ve intended to write this post for some weeks now, and obviously have not succeeded until now. Last month we attended a conference in Chicago and one of the topics was the title of this post. The speaker started by describing this fatal flaw in the founding and development of America. I agreed with him entirely on this point, for I believe there was a fatal flaw when our Founding Fathers said, “all theft is immoral but some forms of thievery is less immoral than others.” I am, of course, referring to the writing of the Constitution, making it legal for a band of criminals to steal from the rest of us. However, that wasn’t the fatal flaw this speaker was addressing. He took us back to the debate between Augustine and Aquinas. Augustinianism and Thomism, to be precise. I was familiar with this debate because I’ve read Francis Schaeffer and R.C. Sproul and their different opinions about Augustine and Aquinas. To put it briefly: Augustine said, “our minds are entirely depraved and full of sin. We can’t depend on our own reasoning to find truth. We can only rely on the word of God as revealed in the Bible to know what is right and true.” Aquinas came along, some centuries later, and said, “actually, our minds aren’t all the way depraved. We’re still ‘good enough’ to decipher what is right. We can use the writings and teachings of pagans (such as Aristotle) to obtain knowledge.” Back to the story…the speaker at this conference said our Founding Fathers were too enthralled by the ideas of Aquinas. They had this unhealthy synthesis of pagan ideas and Christian ideas. They relied too heavily on their own reasoning and rational thinking to determine what is true. This weak foundation has resulted in the breakdown of morality, culture, truth, and all the evil in the world around us.
The speaker then went on to say we must be careful of this “dangerous” teaching about Common Law. He said that too often we’re eager to turn to the Common Law as an answer to our problems. Instead we need to turn to the Bible as a guide to life.
As you probably guessed, I’m writing this post because I don’t agree entirely with the speaker. I thought it would make a good topic for my website. :)
And as you’ve probably noticed, I can be a little verbose at times, so let me give you the “bottom line” to ensure you don’t get entirely lost in my ramblings. Bottom line: I believe the speaker set up a false dichotomy between Biblical Law and Common Law…and then went on to argue his point on the basis of this false premise. Basically he said this, “because Biblical Law and Common Law have two different foundations, here are the problems with relying on Common Law.” And I was going (and am still going), “hey…wait a minute! You didn’t prove that Biblical Law and Common Law are based on two different systems of thinking!”
Since this was last month and since I can’t locate my notes, I’m not going to go into a whole lot of detail about what the speaker believes. Instead I’m going to argue my side instead.
Rather than seeing Biblical Law and Common Law as two different systems of thinking and instead of thinking that they contradict each other, we should see Common Law as a natural extension of Biblical Law. If you see Common Law as being a result of Biblical Law, all the problems the speaker described of Common Law suddenly disappear. You’ll have to trust me on this one because I can’t find my notes, but I did test this theory and it did work. I just can’t think of an example at the moment.
Then the next question is, “If Common Law is an extension of Biblical Law, what’s the difference?” I look at it this way: Common Law is the last 6 of the 10 Commandments. Biblical Law is all of the 10 Commandments. Common Law addresses how we interact with other humans. Biblical Law tells us that as well, but most importantly, Biblical Law tells us how we are expected to address our Lord and Maker. Biblical Law tells us what God expects us to do in reference to Himself.
This brings us to the next problem, “if Biblical Law is more complete, then why do we need Common Law at all?” I think this was the point of the speaker. He argued that there is no need for Common Law because we have Biblical Law. And this brings us to the point where I come right out and say I disagree with Reconstructionism. I think there are some very good things about this movement, but I also think there are some dangerous things about it as well. I don’t necessarily have a problem with what they are promoting right now, but I do have a problem with the implications of their teaching. The Reconstructionists will say that all we need is Biblical Law and we should convince everyone to live by it. Think that through. Firstly, we won’t be able to convince the atheist to attend church. And so I think the Reconstructionists will turn to force to achieve their goals. If we can’t persuade the atheist, we can convince him at gunpoint, so to speak. And secondly, you might be able to force an atheist to attend church, but that won’t make him a Christian. He won’t live like a Christian. If everyone must live like a Christian, we’ll end up with a nation full of hypocrites. We’ll have a nation and a church full of Christians in name only. Christians who aren’t Christian at all. We must admit that possibility. We can’t change the heart by changing some externalities anymore than trying to become less worldly by wearing outdated and prudish clothes.
Christ said that His kingdom is not of this world. We can’t grow the church by using the tactics of criminals and governments. The church is a voluntary institution; we can’t force anyone to come a Christian.
And that’s where Common Law fits in. The last 6 of the 10 Commandments are mighty handy when it comes to dealing with other people. We can’t expect the atheist to observe the 1st Commandment. But we can expect him to observe the commandment, “thou shalt not murder.” This is our common ground with unbelievers. It is the only way to bridge the chasm between Christians and non-Christians. Common Law is the only thing that makes it possible for us to live in a world largely inhabited by pagans. Common Law is the only thing keeping us from being murdered. This is the law that God has written on their hearts. He has written all His commandments on our hearts, but non-believers don’t observe all of them. However, that’s not our problem. We have no authority whatsoever to punish a non-Christian for breaking the 1st Commandment. That’s between the person and God. We can warn and admonish them, but ultimately God will deal with them. However, we can punish non-believers for committing murder because this is a place where we can all agree.
To be continued…
Last night I stayed up late watching Hitchcock’s The Birds. It was an interesting evening. I was pretty skeptical about it, thinking the film would be corny and not that scary. Haha….after the movie I had a moment of panic as I was pulling the blinds down on my windows, like “ahhhhhh….the birds are going to peck through the glass while I’m sleeping…help….!” but I did manage to calm down. I’m going to first describe the movie negatively, 1) the movie was not an old, corny film with bad effects and 2) the movie was not one of these modern, predictable action films.
Note: The reason I have so much to say is because I couldn’t stop thinking about the movie while I was trying to go to sleep, so instead of panicking and getting creeped out, I tried to analyze and dissect it….make it more like a movie than real life.
So, it was actually a very well-done movie. In one sense, it was quite old-fashioned. The women were ladies and the men were gentlemen. Although the lead woman was “spunky” and independent, it was the man friend of her’s who protected the family against the birds, he was the defender and the leader. I liked that. I hate those modern films with super-smart girls in super-short shorts and super-small shirts tagging along with the dimwit male through African jungles and and all that…come on, people don’t wear shorts out in the jungle (I keep waiting for her to get a snakebite, but it never happens). Anyways, while I wasn’t immensely fond of the clothing fashions in the movie, the women had class and self-respect, and this showed through what they wore. Actually, through the entire 2 hour movie, I think the lead woman (Melanie) wore the same outfit. She may had been wearing something different at the very beginning, but when she went to visit her man friend in a isolated village on the coast of California, she only took a nightgown and so wore the same outfit through the whole ordeal. I admired Melanie’s ability to walk through sand dunes, fight off blood-thirsty birds, and do a variety of things…all in high-heel shoes.
Warning: If you haven’t seen The Birds, but plan to, and you don’t want me to spoil the ending, don’t keep reading.
And I was quite surprised by the ending. At first I thought that “his” mother was behind it (him being Mitch, the friend that the Melanie came to visit) as she wasn’t exactly friendly to Melanie. Then I thought it might be Annie, Mitch’s former girlfriend who couldn’t stand his aloof mother. Then I thought maybe Hitchcock was some crazy environmentalist and was trying to make a statement about the cruelty of keeping birds caged up. You see, Melanie brought Mitch’s little sister 2 lovebirds from San Francisco, and after she came to town (with the birds) all the trouble started. I thought maybe they would inadvertently release the 2 birds and the millions of other angry birds would leave them alone.
However, nothing happened. There was no ending, in the proper sense. They emerged from their boarded-up house to a bleak scene of birds covering everything. The roof, the ground, the trees, everything was covered with them. Mitch managed to get his mother, sister, and Melanie (who had suffered a severe bird attack) into the car and they slowly drove away. That was it. “The End.” And then I realized that is the horror of horror. Hitchcock could have comforted us by giving some reason for the vicious attacks. But that would have taken away the horror.
In other words…in economics, there must be three conditions for action to occur.
1) You must have dissatisfaction with the current situation.
2) You must have an idea of how to change your situation.
3) You must have hope that your idea will actually work.
And you see, only the 1st condition was present in the movie. They had no idea how to placate the birds. They had no idea what was causing it, and so could do nothing. It is like someone who feels hunger pains but doesn’t know that hunger is causing it. They are in a terrible situation because they can’t do anything to stop the pain since the cause is unknown.
The Birds seemed to be a mutated form of what the existentialists called “angst.” You have this horrible, gnawing fear but it isn’t directed at anything or anything. You don’t know what is causing it, and so you can’t do anything. I think that Hitchcock was quite brilliant in this regard.
I also found his style quite interesting. He uses no background music at all. There are only a few sounds picked out of the background so you can identify the scene. For instance, when Melanie is getting out of the elevator, there’s no sound of her heels on the floor, no background noises from other people, just the sound of the elevator door closing. The same goes for much of the movie. One scene was quite interesting, where Melanie is driving her convertible to Mitch’s house (2 hours up the coast from San Francisco) with the 2 lovebirds in a cage beside her. From similar movie scenes, it is typical to have some sort of background music going because there’s no dialogue, and really not any other sounds. Or she start talking to the birds, just to have something going on. But Hitchcock doesn’t do anything. There are some distant shots of her car, some closer ones where you can see her face, and a few times he switches the view to the lovebirds sitting there so silently.
I really to get on with my life now, so I won’t say anymore. Just thought I would share my thoughts on this “charming” movie…it is perfect to watch right before you go to bed…not. :)
Oddly enough, this post was inspired by an Andy Griffith episode I watched last night. Let me quickly summarize the story so this will make sense.
Ellie (works at drugstore) discovers there’s a girl living out on a farm near town who longs to have make-up, lipstick, perfume, etc…but doesn’t have any. So Ellie and Andy go out to the farm and give her a sampling of these items as a gift. The girl’s father walks up to them, discovers the items, and makes his daughter give them back to Ellie, saying that she doesn’t have any need for them. This infuriates Ellie (who faintly resembles a “liberated” woman of the modern age) and she persuades Barney to go back and confront the farmer and force him to allow his daughter to come to town and get “prettied up.” Of course Barney doesn’t have the guts to confront the farmer so he sneaks around the farm and steals the girl away to town, without the farmer knowing about it. Ellie pretties her up and reveals a very beautiful young woman under all the grime and overalls. They take her back to the farm, convinced that her father will realize how much all of this means to his daughter now that he can see her beauty. He is impressed but adamant; he has no sons and is struggling to keep his farm going. He needs his daughter not to parade around in high heels but put the overalls back on and get to work. Andy is very diplomatic and shows the farmer that if his daughter is all prettied up and attractive it will draw strong farm boys from all around and he’ll probably end up with a very productive and helpful son-in-law. So of course it all turns out happily ever after. :)
My immediate thought as I watched it was, “that isn’t any of their business!” and this is what Andy originally says too, before being swayed by Ellie’s pleading expression. But that doesn’t change that fact that this daughter is really none of their business.
However, I wanted to think through what would happen in this type of situation without any government. Granted, Andy wasn’t really acting on behalf of the law, but he was seen as a representative of the state and could have possibly arrested the farmer on some trumped-up charges to “free” his daughter. So I wanted to think about what would happen if there had been no state. What I came up with was this:
If Ellie had such a problem with this “cruel” farmer depriving his daughter of all these feminine luxuries then she perhaps should have talk to the community and raised this issue with them. She could argue her case with them and ask that if they disagreed with the farmer’s decision then they should refuse to trade with him or allow him to buy at their stores. In that type of situation I could easily see the other farmers siding with this particular farmer, as they understood his plight. And perhaps the younger generation in the city proper would side with Ellie. So Ellie might or might be successful in persuading the farmer to “liberate” his daughter. A couple points about this:
1) It would not be force against the farmer. No one would be coercing him into anything. It would simply be a withdrawal of exchange. “You don’t let your daughter wear lipstick, we won’t let you buy our _________.” This is where you can see the clear line between a free society and a society ruled by a state. The state is force and violence. The free society can only withdraw privileges. I say privileges because the farmer really has no “right” to trade with anyone. Just wanted to clarify that point. Some (including family members…) have responded with, “now, that’s absurd! That’s horrible! Just because this farmer has some reason why he doesn’t want his daughter to wear makeup doesn’t mean that people can isolate him and make him entirely self-dependent. How will he make a living if he can’t sell or buy things? He’ll have to move somewhere else and start all over again–just because of this rabble-rouser, Ellie.” But here’s why I don’t think that would happen, especially over such a trivial matter.
2) Trade and exchange is mutually beneficial. It is easy for us to look at the farmer and think that the rest of the community is doing him a favor by trading with him. But let’s say he sells a certain amount of corn to someone for $10. We’ll say X lbs. corn for $10. Haha, can’t escape from my algebraic past…these X’s are still haunting me! Anyways…the farmer says to the miller, “hey, I’ve got this X lbs. of corn, would you like to buy it?” Miller replies, “sure, that sounds great. I was needing some corn.” So they exchange goods. And who benefits? BOTH!! The miller has benefitted from the exchange just as the farmer did. And so then the farmer takes this $10 to the butcher and says, “I need a side of beef, can you sell it to me?” Just because the farmer initiated this exchange doesn’t mean that he’s the only one who needs the good. The butcher probably needs the $10 to pay his bills too. So the butcher trades with him. Side of beef for $10. Who benefits? BOTH parties!!
Imagine a businessperson who refused to do business with people who had a different religion than him. Or who didn’t wear a certain type of clothing. Or who wore glasses. Or…you get the point. It doesn’t make business sense to keep restricting your market like that. There would have to be a really, really good reason to convince someone not to trade with a particular person.
Back to the story. If Ellie were going to be successful in working against this farmer she would have to persuade everyone to give up the benefits they would receive through trading with the farmer. I think most of them would be unwilling to forfeit the sales of goods to the farmer just because his daughter didn’t wear makeup. I don’t think the extreme situation mentioned above would actually occur over something this small. But then I wondered what would happen if the problem was bigger. Let’s say the farmer beat his daughter. Then what?
I think this would definitely be too much for the people of the community to accept. While not being allowed to wear makeup is a passive act, being beaten is an active encroachment on her rights. And I doubt if anyone would object if the community began to isolate him and refuse to do business with him until he stopped beating his daughter and made some kind of restitution. And the same for a situation like murder.
So then the problem seems to be that there’s a disconnect between beating a girl and not letting her wear makeup. And this is a very subjective and “gray” area; I’m just going to give my own thoughts on it and you can think whatever you’d like about it.
The girl lives with her father. She eats the food that he helps to produce. She lives under the roof he has provided her. And so I don’t think it is wrong for him to ask her to do or not do certain things. She is under his jurisdiction. I assume that the girl is over 18 and could have run away if she had wanted to be “free” so badly. But no, she stayed with her father despite the toil and difficulties, and likewise he shared of his stores and food with her. It appeared that he had never explained to her why she wasn’t allowed to have the same things as other girls. I think that it would have been nicer if he had shown her how much he needed her help and how she was the only help he had. Instead of feeling and acting like he was forcing her into this servile position they could have worked together as a team, she sacrificing her own desires so that their farm would prosper and he doing likewise. This would have made their relationship better, but I don’t think he was obligated to tell her.
Question is, did the girl have the right to wear makeup and such things? Yes, she had the right to do whatever she liked…but by living under the jurisdiction of her father she forfeited certain rights in order to receive the privileges he gave her, such as a roof over her head, food to eat, and a father’s protection. We all give up certain rights whenever we enter any type of relationship. A mother gives up her right to read books all day long when she has a child, for the privilege of being a mother. A wife gives up certain rights when she marries for the privileges of a husband’s protection, leadership, provision, etc…This is part of life. We freely choose to forfeit certain things to gain others. And we are constantly engaged in acts of valuation, “is this privilege more valuable to me than this right?” And every time we choose one end we are giving up another less-valued end. The girl valued the benefits that came from living under her father’s jurisdiction more than the freedoms she could have had by living somewhere else.
I know that the feminists would probably kill me for this blog post, but hey, it is just my humble opinion. :) I thought it was an interesting situation and wanted to think it through a bit. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts as on this too!
There has been a lot of uproar about police officers being targeted by criminals lately. Apparently 11 officers have been killed in the last day or two. And this is troubling. Saddening. And wrong. But I want to offer a “middle ground” between two extremes that I’ve encountered.
Extreme 1: Government is evil. Cops work for the government. Therefore all cops are evil people. There’s this mentality of “well, they deserved it because they are government officials out to get my, ahem, illegal vegetation, or because I didn’t wear a seatbelt.”
Extreme 2: Government is wonderful. Cops work for the government. Therefore all cops are wonderful, angelic people. People have this idea that since police officers wear a special uniform, they are somehow better than the rest of us “proles.” As if a special position and uniform gave a police officer’s life more value than if one of “us” had been killed.
I know that I’m exaggerating these extremes a bit (they are, after all, extremes). But I’ve done this so you can see where the logic of these positions will take you.
And I’m going to offer a short rebuttal to each of these positions.
Rebuttal to Extreme 1: Although the institution of the state is immoral, those within it are not immoral. I know from personal experience that there are very good, moral people within the police force who would never think to taser a disabled child, or an elderly woman, as has happened before. Not all cops are out to beat the rest of us. Some are trying to do a good job of protecting the people. They respect our rights and take us seriously.
Rebuttal to Extreme 2: The government gives police officers more power than the rest of us have. Power corrupts. And it corrupts these cops. It is just human nature. They aren’t any better or worse than the rest of us because they have a special uniform. If I put on prison clothes, it wouldn’t make me a criminal and wouldn’t make me worse than other people. The occupation of a person doesn’t define who they are. There are bad officers and good officers. There are bad electricians and good ones. Bad dentists and good ones. No job is intrinsically “better” than others or gives people a special position. Some will say that officers are special because they have a dangerous job. I think there are many jobs that are more dangerous than being a police officer. One site lists fishermen as having the most dangerous job in America. Loggers are next. Police officers are #12. On another list fishermen are #1 and police officers are #10. I’m not picking sites that match what I’m trying to prove. I googled “what are the most dangerous jobs in America?” and clicked on the first two sites that showed up. So where’s the grief and mourning when fishermen get killed?
The question now is, what should be our response when a police officer is killed?
1) It is wrong to kill people unless in self-defense. Let me make this absolutely crystal clear. There is no place whatsoever for killing people unless they are directly threatening your life. It is wrong to kill police officers unless they’ve broken into your house and are threatening to kill you. Why? Not because they are police officers but because they are people. They have a God-given right to life, liberty, and property just as the rest of us have. It is wrong to take away their life just as it is wrong to take your neighbor’s life. It is a tragedy when any person is killed. And this brings me to…
2) How many people per year are killed by our government? Even just in America? I bet the number would surprise you. Or just, how many people are murdered every year in America? The Disaster Center says that in 2009, 1500 people were killed in the United States. Wow. Why don’t we post these numbers to our Facebook statuses too? Why don’t people mourn the number of children killed every year? This is also a deeply saddening thought. The death of police officers must be put in perspective with the deaths of others as well.
The loss of any life is a tragedy, whether they were wearing a uniform or not
So far this is has been a good Monday. I’m only an hour into it, but it is quite promising. Usually by this time I would be only half an hour or less into the day (because I sleep in….) but today I got up early and that’s always comforting. Well, it is nice after you get up but not while you’re laying in bed wishing the alarm clock didn’t go off and you could just forget about it. Oh well.
Here’s my favorite quote from yesterday, “A big, sovereign God frees us to be little, humble people with bright eyes and laughing hearts.” (Tony Sumpter) The gist of the article was that there’s a type of pride which sets up super-high standards for ourselves and then we feel guilt and failure when we don’t live up to these perfectionist standards. But Christ has freed us from the pressure of trying to conform to a perfect standard, for He has done that for us. Because of Christ, His sacrifice and God’s love, we can accept ourselves and our foibles. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to be better people but I think the article was trying to correct the opposite problem, the problem of trying to hard instead of not trying hard enough.
You can read the article here. Note: I don’t agree with all the theology of this site, so just be careful while reading. I think this article is solid, but I can’t speak for the rest of the website.
(also posted at PathofGrass.com)
Yesterday I got the manuscript draft back from my editor. He did a great job on it, and now my task is to go through and decide if I want to keep all of his changes. Some of them I ignore after a long time of contemplation (shhh…don’t tell him!), others I apply exactly as he says and with a few I make alternative changes that fix the problem.
It is very exciting for me to see this book coming so close to publication. I have another book draft that never made it this far (and the world will be better off because of it, I must confess) but it is amazing to see the progress that has been made and how close I’m to seeing it published.
As is generally said, the beginning of my book was very easy to write. But in the middle I got a little discouraged and writing went much slower. But it is getting easier now as I’m so near the end.
Also, the opportunity to edit the manuscript is now over. If you had wanted to read the draft but didn’t let me know…well, I’m sorry but I’m moving into the next stage now. If you’d like to write a review of the finished manuscript before publishing, please let me know as that’s still possible.
It wasn’t until the morning of Thanksgiving that I realized, “oh, this is Thanksgiving. This is a holiday!” and then decided to take off a few hours from school and work. So for Christmas I wanted to do something more. It doesn’t make any sense to live at home, educate yourself and make your schedule if you can’t enjoy the holidays with your family without worrying about finishing a paper, reading a book, or writing blog posts.
Yes, blog posts. I’m afraid they’re going to be very scarce and perhaps non-existant this week. I hope you don’t mind. I’ve tried to blog dutifully for the last six months, even scheduling posts when I knew I’d be busy. So I think it is time for a break. I hope to be back next monday, the 27th of December. And you might hear from me this week. Or you might not.
Just satisfy yourself with the thought that I’m making fudge, pumpkin cookies, molasses cookies, Ohio Buckeyes, and more…and heartily enjoying every bit of it!
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season! :)