The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the category “Culture”

The Irony of Independence Day

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By Andrew Isker

Today as an American, if you were to log into social media, turn on the television, or even step outside your front door, you would hear the refrain, “I am thankful for our freedom, because we live in America.” While it is good to celebrate the few freedoms we do have left, to do so without any idea of where we came from and where we are going is utterly foolish.

That we have more freedom than, say, the subjects of the Soviet Union or Mao’s China, is not up for debate. We are not forced to starve on collectivist farms, nor herded into a gulag if we complain about it. And for all I know, today America might be the most free country in the entire world. But Americans in 2013 are far less free than Americans in 1776. For that matter, Americans in 2013 are far less free than Americans in 2012. This country would be unrecognizable to 18th century Americans. And it wouldn’t be (just) because of airplanes, iPhones, and automobiles. It would be because we think a people who are spied on, who are compelled to pay onerous taxes, and who are so enslaved to lust they would murder one million babies per year are free. If one were to look at the list of grievances against King George III in the Declaration of Independence, almost all of them could be levied against our government, and in fact, far more damning grievances could be added if the document was written with the U.S. Federal Government, rather than the British Monarch, in mind: 

 “He has intruded upon the privacy of a free people, and has protected the criminals who tread upon our rights.”

 “He has furnished the heathen with arms, allowing him to slaughter our good Christian brethren.”

 “He has perverted the institutions of our society; he has called evil ‘good’ and good ‘evil.’”

 “He has played the whore with houses of commerce, and willfully aided their despicable machinations.”

 It should be noted, that while 1776 is a good historical marker to show how much our freedom has diminished, to set that time up as a standard for freedom is idolatrous. Our ultimate standard for what freedom and a free people looks like must be the Word of God, not the ideals of 18th Century secessionists (who, lest we forget, were largely guided by a biblical idea of freedom). And the only way for freedom to be restored in this country is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ to sweep across the country. And when that comes, celebration of Independence Day will no longer be ironic.

What’s In a Name?

by Peter Jones

Naming is an essential part of the human experience. We all place names on things around us. That is a car. That is a Toyota Sienna minivan. That is a 2001 tan Toyota Sienna minivan with three dents in the hatch. And on and on it goes. We follow after our Creator who named the night, the day, the sun, the moon, and man. But he did not just name things as nouns, he also declared them to be good or very good. After the fall he named things good or bad, righteous or unrighteous. The Scriptures explicitly forbid us from calling good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20). The Christian life is one of naming things correctly.

In our postmodern era, it is hard to hold this line. Our world is a complicated one. Things were simple once, back in the day. But now we have become more aware of the overwhelming complexity of this world. Names used to be so obvious. But we were deceived then. There used to be truth that we could name, but now there are only truths, socially constructed ideas that help us name our various realities.  We used to know a woman from a man. Now is it a woman or man? Who knows? Read more…

The Abuse of Power and the Power of Abuse: Dealing with an Inconvenient Truth

By Uri Brito

Republicans are the party of small government. Democrats are the party of big government. These distinctions no longer hold true. Reagan’s first term, perhaps, in recent history, is the last to come close to the type of small government Republicans say they envision. But for too long the scenery of the political landscape is replete with big government towers. We, the people, stare hopelessly at those babel-like towers wondering if any of them have read Genesis 11. We are Tolkien’s hobbits wanting to be left alone smoking our tobacco and drinking the finest beer, but alone they will not let us be.

David Shipler’s The Rights of the People: How our Search for Safety Invades our Privacy (2011) detailed some of these abuses. Shipler wrote that the Bill of Rights were “embedded in the first ten amendments to the Constitution…to climb and counter the might state, to keep their speech free, their confessions true, their trial fair, their homes and files sealed from cavalier invasion by police.” We are losing that right as speedily as the government (NSA) is tracking your e-mail or Verizon phone call right now.

What we are seeing today is more than the undermining of the Constitution; we are seeing the undermining of morality. And this implies that we need the objectivity of Christendom. We can no longer amen the actions of any party, because both major parties do not care about the shire. They will make deals with anyone. We need the boldness to assert the foolish actions of our party and then condemn them each election.

Obama’s promise to secrecy and the respecting of civil liberties in 2007 has quickly derailed into a Mordor-like crystal ball. They have looked and accessed every conceivable file. They have found what they wanted and used that information for their own purposes. “We cannot have 100% safety without inconvenience,” the president argues. Inconvenience? An absurdly burdensome tax system,  the waste of our taxpayer money, TSA, a destructive economic policy, reckless wars led by reckless leaders, the murder of the unborn? This is more than inconvenience; this is abuse; and all in the name of an agenda.

What we are witnessing is not the era of inconvenience; those days were relatively comfortable. At least we knew when the inconveniences would come. We are entering the era of abuse. We are in an era where the words “abuse of power” have become redundant. In an abusive society, led by abusive leaders, we do not know what to expect. Power corrupts, but absolute power in the hands of fools leads to abuse.

We are not claiming that this is a distinctly Obama problem. Bush’s Patriot Act opened the doors to this type of infringement. The tyranny of technology began long ago. And we are now recipients of a president who is continuing those policies.

The Economist observed in 2007, that in the past, information was gathered by drawing conclusions about citizens from fragmented reports by party loyalists. They would tap phones, send informers to workplaces, and follow people around. Today, “data about people’s whereabouts, purchases, behavior, and personal lives are gathered, stored, and shared on a scale that no dictator of the old school ever thought possible.”

We are living in a new era. This is an era where privacy is becoming extinct. The security of e-mail exchanges, counselor to counselee phone calls, and a host of other matters are sacrificed at the altar of safety. But are we safe? The answer to that is an inconvenient truth to our president.

We are what we Worship: Idols and their Makers

by Uri Brito

John Calvin

Calvin c. 1554.

Human beings are a marketable people. Those who shop around for us see our lifestyles and develop an entire strategy aimed at purchasing our wants at an exceedingly rapid speed. But not only are we easily bought, we are also very creative. We are idol-makers, to quote Calvin’s famous line. We are industrious, and the consequences of our hard work are a boost to the Baal factories and stock.

Unfortunately, this type of productivity is not encouraging. St. John quietly, but forcefully exhorted us in the last verse of I John to keep ourselves from idols. We have not heeded the apostle’s words. We have approached the idols and bargained with them about producing an entire new line of idol fashion and idol currency. We take the idol money and invest it into our own companies. We are good at what we do. In fact, we produce the best idols in town. We make them in all colors and shapes. We sell them at a discount during the Christmas holidays. All we want is for everyone to share in our pleasures. We make idols and the idols make us. We are what we worship. The more we consume the more marketable we become for the more sophisticated idol seller. We become like the gods. We treasure their style. They roam around speechless and blind, and we perceive that to be the new fad.

Read more…

Putin, Manning, the NSA’s Verizon, Pop Tarts, Drones, and Me

Nathan and David

Nathan and King David

by Luke Welch

Yesterday, Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila announced on state television that they are divorcing. Sometimes politicians hold these things together. But Putin’s 30 year marriage is ending. And so some argument or division that has been private within them now for who knows the length of time, is bubbling to the surface. And now we all know it.

Speaking of the former USSR, do you remember the KGB? How they used to read people’s mail? That used to be scary, but now it’s the cost of living without fear of imminent doom.

Speaking of imminent doom, it sure seems like the cap-gun and Pop Tart pistol patrolling has gotten out of hand. These school administrations must know something we don’t about the deep dark motives of 8 year olds. It may not have been a simple gun. It might have been that the Pop Tart resembled Idaho where you can carry a rifle over your shoulder in town. A child like that needs help. Or maybe they know something we don’t.

Read more…

Should You and Your Kids Skip the Zoo?

by Sean Johnson
child zoo glass gorilla scare

Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo. I don’t believe it.

I know two young children between the ages of five and ten and, while it will seem that I’ve invented them for the purposes of this essay, I assure you they are real. Their names have been changed to protect the innocent (me, in this case). Let’s call them Sancho and Dulcinea, we being an optimistic people, after all. They are almost never allowed to play outside, but not for lack of opportunity—they have good-sized front and backyards, and live in a safe (read: gated) neighborhood patrolled by security guards. No, they are kept indoors by their mother for fear that they might come into direct contact with dirty, germy things; living things; unknown things.

Sancho and Dulcinea are allowed to visit the zoo, and therein lies the genius of modern parenting. Read more…

Day Six of Creation and Christian Ethics

by Uri Brito

When God made the world he made it in divine priority. He made all things with an agenda, and to use the oft-repeated line, “he saved the best for last.” He made man on day six, and at the end he breathed with the breath of perfection (Gen. 1:31): “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

Could God have created man on day one or day three? No. This was a divine priority. Man was created last purposefully. He made him on day six and then affirmed (Gen. 1:26-28) that he was to be over all things. Man receives a place of honor in creation because he is made in the image of God.

Read more…

Some American Typology: The Gadsden Flag

by Sean Johnson

I was cruising down the road recently when a hog passed me. Not one of the sweaty, hairy, toothy things that live in the brush; one of the rumbly, metallic, two-wheel things that live in the garage—all of its valves and cylinders and carburetors and handlebars being as rumbly and metallic as they could manage. There was, however, something sweaty, hairy, and toothy seated on top of the hog. As his ilk is wont to do, he had swaddled himself in many fine leathers. He was rumbling metallically along at too great a clip for me to know just how many and how fine were his leathers, but I did notice the colorful design on the back of his jacket: a fanged serpent ready to strike. Now, someone seeing such an image on such a fellow might very well assume that the Hell’s Angels had finally traded in their skulls and demon wings for a more traditional and historical Satanic sigil (after all, graphic depictions of the Devil don’t get more historical or traditional than the serpent). But, they would be wrong (and maybe a little right).

They would be wrong because, in actuality, what I saw on the back of the swaddled fellow was the Gadsden flag—a flag depicting a coiled snake and the words “Don’t Tread On Me” dating from the time of the American War for snake yellow field Dont Tread On Me rebelIndependence. Since its creation, when it was flown by the Colonial Navy’s flagship (there’s a pun there, somewhere, I’m sure), the flag has represented at least one aspect of the nation’s international demeanor: mess with the snake, get the fangs. More recently, though, it has sometimes been adopted to represent the demeanor of individual citizens or citizen groups over and against their own Federal Gov’t.

They may be a little right, or at least justified in their mistake, because the talking snake is an awfully evocative image and its adoption by an ostensibly Christian nation or ostensibly Christian citizens could be puzzling. Of course, I can understand why the serpent would say “Don’t tread on me;” he knows by heart the whole bit about having his head crushed and we shouldn’t be surprised if he tries to talk his way out of it, that’s part of his modus operandi after all. Read more…

Gosnell Verdict: Victory or Defeat?

by Adam McIntosh

On Monday, abortionist Kermit Gosnell was found guilty for the first-degree murders of three babies and for the involuntary manslaughter of one female patient. Those who actually knew about Gosnell’s trial are hailing his life sentence as a victory. Pro-abortionists and pro-lifers are united in this respect, though for different reasons. Pro-abortionists cite Gosnell’s monstrous practice as an example of the “back-alley abortions” they want to prevent; while pro-lifers are overjoyed that a serial killer is unable to harm newborn-babies ever again. Not everyone is celebrating, however.

The folks over at AbolishHumanAbortion.com (AHA) say the Gosnell verdict is a failure to the abolitionist movement. On their Facebook page Tuesday, an image was uploaded with the following text:

Kermit Gosnell should have been tried for 40,136 counts of murder and been found guilty for every last one of them. This trial was not a victory. It was an exoneration of mass murder.”

Read more…

A Man and an Art for All Seasons

by Sean Johnson

Christian kitsch

All great cultural produce (that is, art) is religiously motivated—the stylized mythologies of the Mediterranean, the architectural triumphs of Roman civic religion, the gothic style, the hagiographic painting and sculpture of the Renaissance, the scientific innovations motivated at various times by extreme love of God or extreme love of man, etc., etc., etc. In recent years, though, the Church has experienced what many would acknowledge as a crisis of art. The fruit of this historical circumstance has been, among other things, the hot mess of contemporary Christian music, Kinkadean depictions of crosses and cottages aglow with the radiation of sentimentality, and Kingsburyian baptized pulp fictions.

As a people we are still in a moment of uncertainty about how to regain the artistic potency of our forbears, and reinfuse our art with that intangible-but-unmistakable clarity and power—like lightning and cold steel—that truly biblical art cover art Malcolm Guite Englishhas always possessed. Read more…

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