This essay by Andrea Schwartz would have been just as applicable in 2005 B.C. as it was in 2005, when Chalcedon published it.
How do we answer children’s questions, which can sometimes lead us well out of our comfort zones? Andrea’s advice is to “tell them things as they really are, rather than sugarcoat or mislead them.” Sometimes you have to tell the child about wrong or foolish things you did when you were his or her age. That’s not easy, but it is important.
My Aunt Florence almost drowned when she was a little girl because my mother, who was supposed to be watching over her little sister, got sidetracked playing with her friend and never saw Florence toddle into a nearby pond that the older kids used as a swimming hole. Good thing someone else saw it! It was a revelation to me, as a little boy, to learn that my mother once fell down on the job every bit as badly as I did… when I was supposed to be watching out for Alice but got distracted making mud pies with my cousin Jeffrey and never noticed her toddle out of sight–all the way out to Main Street!
And yes, I got what my mother got for not watching out for her sister.
I honor her today for her honesty.
Just another day in the lecture hall
I wonder how much has changed in our colleges since I wrote this article for Chalcedon in 2005. I’m sure some of you can tell me. That’ll be interesting.
I miss my brother-in-law, Dr. Miller, and my friend, Professor McGregor, more than I can say, and I often wonder what they would say about some of the most recent developments on the looniversity landscape.
They weren’t around long enough to be told they had to give their students extra credit for “social justice” activities. They didn’t believe the students were entirely sold on all this Far Left poobah, but were interested mostly in just getting through college with a minimum of turmoil. I wonder about that, too.
(This essay by Martin Selbrede first appeared in this month’s Chalcedon newsletter, Arise & Build.)
We never seem to get anywhere with our politics, do we? Could it be that that’s because “Our problems aren’t political, they’re moral”?
And trying to apply immoral solutions to moral problems is like trying to treat opioid addiction by giving the patient more opioids. Oops. That’s what we’re doing, isn’t it? How’s that working out for us?
What could be simpler than God’s law? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. But this is the law we disobey.
As citizens of a constitutional republic, we enjoy great privileges that are not known to people living under, say, a socialist dictatorship. We do have a calling to preserve our heritage. But please note how we’ve let the most important part of that heritage slip away!
John Adams wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” By allowing ourselves to slip into a state of moral imbecility, we render our government inadequate! And we keep on playing whack-a-mole with the ensuing political problems–which are really moral problems, but we don’t want to hear that.
Polybius–too much of a gentleman to say “I told you so”
I wrote this essay for Chalcedon in 2006, and 13 years later, it seems more on target than it was when it was new. Maybe Chalcedon is rubbing off on me.
Polybius was a Greek who lived in Rome when Rome’s Republic was at the height of its power and prosperity. He studied it shrewdly and intently, praised Rome for its system of checks and balances [which inspired our own country’s system of checks and balances, and divided government]–and accurately predicted its collapse.
As a pagan, for Polybius there was no escape for humanity from the impersonal, unchanging, hopeless “cycle of political revolution.” Rome, he predicted, would be brought down by the intense “craving for office” among her elites, who would do literally anything to obtain it, and the masses “roused to fury” by class warfare rhetoric. He could imagine no way out of it: for him there was no Kingdom of Christ, no sanctification, no redemption.
But if we’re going to behave and think like pagans instead of joint-heirs with Christ, well–take another look at today’s headlines. If Polybius could see them, he’d swear he’d seen it all before.
Hell on earth–courtesy of Mao Tse-tung & Co.
We have no shortage of “Christian thinkers” and seminary wallahs who are uncomfortable with the idea of Hell and have excluded it from their teaching. R.J. Rushdoony looked into this in 1983.
“When hell disappears from religion,” he wrote, “it re-appears in politics and social morality. It becomes necessary then for ultimate moral judgments and dispositions to be made on earth, because there is no other court for a final reckoning.” [From Salvation and Godly Rule: quoted by Martin Selbrede in “Politics and the Madness in Men’s Hearts, Arise & Build, Nov. 2019]
Could he have been any more in the exact center of the bullseye than that?
The thing is, we can’t provide ultimate moral judgments. How could any earthly power punish Mao Tse-tung for his mass murder of tens of millions of people? And why would we even trust a power which with one hand offers us salvation and with the other, barbed wire and mass graves?
The fear of God is not only the beginning of wisdom. It is the very substance of wisdom. To know that God will judge us for our acts, to know it and not doubt, is knowledge to preserve the human race from being devoured by its earthly rulers.
Without the fear of God’s judgment… watch out!
Mark Rushdoony wrote “Man and the Earth: Environmentalism vs. Kingdom Responsibility,” as a Chalcedon editorial in 2009. It seems to be more on target today than it was ten years ago.
Environmentalism “is based on evolutionary assumptions about the most fundamental aspects of man’s being,” Mark wrote. As a result, “nature” gradually replaces God in the minds and hearts of the worldly.
Is it necessary to observe that the very same people who are always yammering about “green this” and “green that” are also the very first to pave the green over, if they think it’ll net them another 25 cents or another vote? Anyone who thinks Democrats “protect the environment” needs to tour New Jersey.
In the long run, Mark writes, “the sin is not against the earth, but God.” And God will use the earth to punish the sinners.
Hershel Shanks at work
When I interviewed him in 2005, Hershel Shanks was president of the Biblical Archaeological Society, which he helped to found, and editor-in-chief of its print magazine, “Biblical Archaeology Review.”
I’ve been a BAR subscriber for many years, and it was a kick for me to interview the man who launched it and served as editor until his retirement last year. BAR has been notable for its coverage of all the liveliest controversies in the field of Biblical archaeology–most of which spilled over into the “Letters” column.
Two of the controversies covered in this interview were “Biblical minimalism” (he didn’t support it) and the purportedly ancient ossuary (bone box) that bore the inscription “James, brother of Jesus”–which the Israeli authorities had branded a modern forgery, but which Mr. Shanks felt ought to be studied further, and more deeply, by an international team of experts.
There is, unfortunately, a great deal of material in BAR by “reputable Bible scholars” who don’t believe a single word of Scripture. Readers have to learn to ignore them.
One thing Mr. Shanks did as editor, though–he kept things lively. I haven’t seen that, so far, from his successor.
Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus
Today’s Chalcedon editorial gives us an answer to the world’s craziness.
The answer is “Faith,” which takes us out of ourselves and makes God the center of our lives. Examples are listed in Hebrews 11, one of my favorite chapters in the Bible: “the faith Hall of Fame.”
All power comes from the Lord, not man, not man’s institutions. Faith must shape our lives and works; and God is always looking for faithful men and women to accomplish His work in the world. As His servants, that’s why we’re here.
I have to go vegetate in the veterinarian’s waiting room, but first let me post this Chalcedon editorial by Mark Rushdoony, from 2004:
Christ’s command to “Occupy until I come” (Luke 19:13) should have been the church’s watchword–and ours, too, individually.
Because we didn’t occupy, the ungodly came out of the woodwork and occupied our culture; and we’re having a very hard time holding on to the little bit they’ve left us.
Work harder. Pray harder. Sing louder. And proclaim the truth.
Christian school–way more dangerous to the bad guys than it looks
In this Chalcedon editorial, Mark Rushdoony reminds us to keep our eye on the ball, as it were–the ball being the need to re-Christianize our society from the ground up, starting with ourselves and our families.
We need to win battles in the culture war, but we have to get out of having to fight all the battles on ground chosen by the enemy. Christian families, Christian schools, Christian neighborhoods and fellowships, and even Christianized workplaces–these are the kind of developments that are well within our scope to create.
And their creation will give the bad guys fits.