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Matters of Degree and Order

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The world is indeed ablaze.  Whether it be threats to Israel from Obama’s illusion of a deal with Iran to the slaughter of Christians in Kenya the world hangs under a Damocles sword.  We teeter on the brink.  Hugh has lamented on the show that Indiana dominating the headlines last week, while such things are happening shows a lack of judgement on the part of our news outlets.  That is true.  But that is about reporting and presenting the news.

All of these stories, and many more carry a central and common theme.  They all mark societal breakdown over matters of faith and freedom.  They differ significantly, of course, in degree of breakdown and methodology.  Certainly the open use of slaughter is more violent and repellant than economic bullying, but those incidents are on a spectrum and not necessarily distinct.

An analogy would be helpful at this juncture.  The nuclear reactor that melted down at Chernobyl had many levels of safeguards to prevent such a meltdown from happening.  The accident that happened occurred when engineers purposefully turned off all the upper safeguards to test the bottom one.  In America, Indiana represents problems at the upper levels of safeguards, the Iran “deal” is somewhere in the middle levels and Kenya represents what happens when the safeguards are gone altogether.  Clearly Kenya is an acute problem requiring immediate response.  Yet, the Iranian lackadeal could create problems far more acute than Kenya.  If we do not address the domestic situation, and our safeguards continue to fall away, we could soon find ourselves without the resources to respond to situations like Kenya and Iran.  A nation as large and resourceful as America should have the means to respond appropriately to all of these situations and more.  And we do, we just lack the leadership to properly prioritize the situations and subsequently deploy the resources.

Some would argue that the Iran illusion is diplomacy on display and Indiana is democracy at work and therefore are entirely unrelated to what is happening in Kenya.  Nonsense.  While neither Indiana or Iran are physically violent, both represent a kind of brute force.  In the case of the Iranian “deal,” The president, while toning down some of his prior rhetoric, virtually threatened Congress, “If Congress kills this deal not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. International unity will collapse, and the path to conflict will widen.”  Listen to the speech and you can tell how Obama struggles against the constraints of the constitution.   Indiana was very much a case of mob rule.  The RFRA was duly passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor.  Where was the debate during that process?  Rather they waited for due process to conclude and then acted by threatening public and economic order.  These are not matters of diplomacy and democracy – they are a violation of the normal order.  They remove some top level safeguards.

Kurt Schlichter sounds an ominous warning:

Today in America, we have a liberal president refuses to recognize the majority sent to Congress as a reaction to his progressive failures, and who uses extra-Constitutional means like executive orders to stifle the voice of his opponents. We have a liberal establishment on a secular jihad against people who dare place their conscience ahead of progressive dogma. And we have two different sets of laws, one for the little people and one for liberals like Lois Lerner, Al Sharpton and Hillary Clinton, who can blatantly commit federal crimes and walk away scot free and smirking.

Today in America, a despised minority that is really no minority is the target of an establishment that considers this minority unworthy of respect, unworthy of rights, and unworthy of having a say in the direction of this country. It’s an establishment that has one law for itself, and another for its enemies. It’s an establishment that inflicts an ever-increasing series of petty humiliations on its opponents and considers this all hilarious.

That’s a recipe for disaster. You cannot expect to change the status quo for yourself and then expect those you victimize not to play by the new rules you have created. You cannot expect to be able to discard the rule of law in favor of the rule of force and have those you target not respond in kind.

The normal order is how rights on all sides of a debate are protected.

Moving past politics into philosophy, Rod Dreher, in a chilling blog post, quotes an anonymous law professor:

“The sad thing,” he said, “is that the old ways of aspiring to truth, seeing all knowledge as part of learning about the nature of reality, they don’t hold. It’s all about power. They’ve got cultural power, and think they should use it for good, but their idea of good is not anchored in anything. They’ve got a lot of power in courts and in politics and in education. Their job is to challenge people to think critically, but thinking critically means thinking like them. They really do think that they know so much more than anybody did before, and there is no point in listening to anybody else, because they have all the answers, and believe that they are good.”

If this trend continues, the future is not bright.  When the normal order falls, bad things happen.  “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis” by Robert D. Putnam is a chronicle of the breakdown in normal order in families, schools and neighborhoods and the effects those breakdowns have had on our nations poor.  Some of the cities he discusses, while in the U.S., look far more like Kenya than Indianapolis.  Order is not an obstacle; it is not a restraint; it is a safeguard against the worst of our nature.

Setting aside matters of conscience, ethics and morality, the way you know same-sex marriage is a bad idea is how it has come to pass.  While it has come to be by normal order in 13 states (one by referendum and 12 by legislation), it has been forced on 25 states by court order (in some cases, like California, in a highly legally confusing manner.)   Like abortion before it, normal order has been short cut by the judicial system, robbing the nation of the opportunity to decide what it wants.  On that basis alone, it is bad law.  Violating the normal order, while not resulting in death or physical injury is indeed a form of violence.  I hope that as the Supreme Court considers its next case on the matter, they consider order as much as they do the individuals who think themselves aggrieved.

One of the deep ironies of this whole mess was Tim Cook’s odious invocation of the civil rights movement at the beginning of last week.  Martin Luther  King, most notable of those that “died fighting to protect our country’s founding principles of freedom and equality” was specifically and purposefully non-violent.  Demands for a lack of discrimination based on sexual orientation are largely the precise opposite.  And in being so, they give up all claim to being inheritors of the cause of civil rights.

Finger pointing about how we got into this mess can, and will, go on for a long time, but it is deeper than politics and governance.  While business leaders have always had a loud voice in government, they have rarely had such a voice in matters of culture.  It is deeply disturbing that someone like Tim Cook could have the kind of voice he had in this mess.  We have come to the point where we confuse a gadget with a culture.

Religion has as much responsibility for this mess as everyone else.  For the sake of being “attractive” we have chased culture instead of made it.  We have abdicated our traditional place in society and ceded it to iPhones.  Seeking to bring salvation to the individual we have allowed the nation to fall very much out of order.  From this perspective it is no wonder that there is no response to the slaughter in Kenya and that a lot of people think the psuedo-deal with Iran is a good thing.

David French sees hope in the Easter message:

The mob mocked, yet in three days Christ rose — triumphing not over contemporary politics but over death itself. And weeks later, many members of that same mocking mob worshipped the very Christ they crucified. Where there is Christ, there is hope — for the church that follows him and for the mob that opposes him.

I agree completely.

Which brings me back to Schlichter.  Later in his piece he goes out of his way to clear up the fact that he is not advocating violence.  No one should.  This is why the serious and resurrected church has to be deeply involved in getting us out of this mess.  Without the church, Schlichter is correct – we quite likely could descend into swamp of conflict, not unlike Kenya.  With it we can peacefully, albeit slowly and with sacrifice, restore order.

Is your church in order?  If not, I think it is time to work on that.


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