Another Military Misadventure Coming Up

How to Put Stars on the Banner of ISIS

There are few things more dangerous than when politicians get smitten with nationalistic hubris, replete with lumps in throats and tears on cheeks, whilst they are deciding or voting on military affairs.

In the US House of Representatives a recent vote was taken as to whether the Congress would approve the arming of “moderate” Syrian rebels.  Despite all the evidence and experience of disastrous outcomes of decisions to arm such groups in the past, the House duly voted to approve the action.  Can politicians really be this dumb?  Yes they can.

But not all.  Some of those who voted “no” explained their reasons.  Their justification for voting against the resolution to arm the “moderate” Syrian rebels shows up their yea-saying colleagues to be dumb, dumber and dumbest.  Here are the words of Justin Amash, a so-called Tea-partying congressman:

What have we learned from the last decade of war?

Those years should have taught us that when going to war, our government must:

(1) be careful when defining a military mission,
(2) speak forthrightly with the American people about the sacrifices they will be called to make,
(3) plan more than one satisfactory end to the conflict, and
(4) be humble about what we think we know.

These lessons should be at the front of our minds when Congress votes today on whether to arm groups in Syria.

Today’s amendment ostensibly is aimed at destroying ISIS—yet you’d hardly know it from reading the amendment’s text. The world has witnessed with horror the evil of ISIS: the public beheading of innocents, the killing of Christians, Muslims, and others.  The amendment’s focus—arming groups fighting the Assad government in Syria—has little to do with defeating ISIS. The mission that the amendment advances plainly isn’t the defeat of ISIS; it’s the defeat of Assad.

Americans stood overwhelmingly against entangling our Armed Forces in the Syrian civil war a year ago. If Congress chooses to arm groups in Syria, it must explain to the American people not only why that mission is necessary but also the sacrifices that that mission entails.

The Obama administration has tried to rally support for U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war by implying that our help would be at arm’s length. The amendment Congress will vote on broadly authorizes “assistance” to groups in Syria. It does not specify what types of weapons our government will give the groups. It does not prohibit boots on the ground. (The amendment is silent on the president’s power to order our troops to fight in the civil war; it states only that Congress doesn’t provide “specific statutory authorization” for such escalation.) It does not state the financial cost of the war.

As we should have learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we must plan for multiple satisfactory ends to military conflicts before we commence them.

If the Syrian groups that are “appropriately vetted” (the amendment’s language) succeed and oust Assad, what would result? Would the groups assemble a coalition government of anti-Assad fighters, and would that coalition include ISIS? What would happen to the Alawites and Christians who stood with Assad? To what extent would the U.S. government be obligated to occupy Syria to rebuild the government? If each of the groups went its own way, would Syria’s territory be broken apart, and if so, would ISIS control one of the resulting countries?

If the Syrian groups that we support begin to lose, would we let them be defeated? If not, is there any limit to American involvement in the war?

Perhaps some in the administration or Congress have answers to these questions. But the amendment we’ll vote on today contains none of them. [Emphasis, ours.]

Above all, when Congress considers serious actions—especially war—we must be humble about what we think we know. We don’t know very much about the groups we propose to support or even how we intend to vet those groups. Reports in the last week suggest that some of the “appropriately vetted” groups have struck deals with ISIS, although the groups dispute the claim. The amendment requires the administration to report on its efforts to prevent our arms and resources from ending up in the wrong hands, but we know little about those precautions or their effectiveness.

Today, I will vote against the amendment to arm groups in Syria. There is a wide misalignment between the rhetoric of defeating ISIS and the amendment’s actual mission of arming certain groups in the Syrian civil war. The amendment provides few limits on the type of assistance that our government may commit, and the exit out of the civil war is undefined. And given what’s happened in our country’s most recent wars, our leaders seem to have unjustified confidence in their own ability to execute a plan with so many unknowns.

Some of my colleagues no doubt will come to different judgments on these questions. But it’s essential that they consider the questions carefully. That the president wants the authority to intervene in the Syrian civil war is not a sufficient reason to give him that power. Under the Constitution, it is Congress’s independent responsibility to commence war.

We are the representatives of the American people. The government is proposing to take their resources and to put their children’s lives at risk. I encourage all my colleagues to give the decision the weight it is due.

The desperation to be doing something usually results in the worst unintended outcomes.  The bellicose United States goes to war at the drop of a hat.  It is “led” by a pacifist-orientated Commander-in-Chief whose liberal world-view sees all wars as unnecessary and preventable because all human beings are really creatures of enlightened good-will.  When this has not not worked out, he has lurched from one military misadventure to another with both his eyes firmly fixated on his own polling numbers.  He has no strategy, no doctrines, no guiding principles.  It’s all about him. 

Congress is no better.  It has not grown up and matured to the point where it understands that when it comes to sending the military to war, overwhelmingly, far more often than not, the best and right decision is to do nothing.  The phrase “clear and present danger” has been inflated to where it is a meaningless concept.  An ant walking upon a sidewalk in Outer Mongolia would constitute a “clear and present danger” to the United States in the minds of most of the current crop of Congressmen.

Evil exists.  People die at the hands of unimaginably evil predators.  But need does not constitute a duty–or a right–to intervene so that “good guys” get to kill “bad guys”.  The world is just not that simple.  It is not a narrative of cowboys and Indians. 

We make a prediction which doubtless many will consider so extreme and unlikely they will write us off as complete idiots: as a result of arming “moderate” groups in Syria, the civil war will intensify, more people will be killed than otherwise, and US armaments and military weapons will end up in the hands of the most brutal and ruthless of the fighting cliques.  Our critics will have conveniently forgotten  that it is the US which has indirectly armed ISIS, thereby enabling it to expand rapidly into Iraq and western Syria.  Will such things happen again?  Inevitably.  But the militaristic heart which beats throughout the land in the United States runs on the high octane fuel of patriotism, nationalism, and exceptionalist hubris.  This time . . . this time it will be different.  We swear.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? 

The star spangled banner of ISIS, that is.  Enabled and facilitated by the unintended consequences of foolish US military misadventure. 

http://theology.geek.nz/wp-content/plugins/wp-o-matic/cache/19545c28c4_Islamic-Caliphate-Flag.jpg

The world would be a very much safer and saner place, if the US Congress were populated throughout by more Congressmen like Justin Amash. 
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Douglas Wilson’s Letter From Moscow

Property and Love for the Poor

Douglas Wilson
September 23, 2014
I have written a great deal on how the framework provided by biblical ethics honors and preserves the institution of private property. The argument is not complex. Just as “thou shalt not commit adultery” presupposes and honors the institution of marriage, so also “thou shalt not steal” presupposes and honors the institution of private property.

The private property that is honored is that which comes to a man through the ordinary processes. “Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope” (1 Cor. 9:10). God is the one who gives us the power to get wealth (Dt. 8:18), and it comes up to us from the ground. It does not float down upon us from the state.

We learn the principle when learning to love the haves — but it applies even more to the have nots. When a people are being liberated from covetousness, envy, and the larceny resident in every socialist scheme, they need to learn to mortify this sin in the presence of a neighbor who has manicured lawns, a red convertible, and a beautiful wife (Ex. 20:17). Learning what love means in this instance means learning how to hate the covetousness that arises so easily under every human sternum. Love that is the fulfillment of the law (Rom. 13:10) is a love that does no harm to its neighbor. Listed among the things that are harmful and destructive to our neighbor is covetousness (Rom. 13:9). This is why it is so necessary to elect men who fear God and hate covetousness (Ex. 18:21). And it should go without saying that you can’t hate covetousness if you don’t even know what it is.

But we must insist on something else. Mortifying covetousness is not just a blessing to the fat cats. In his magnificent book The Mystery of Capital, Hernando de Soto demonstrates how a societal refusal to recognize property rights by means of honoring and protecting clear title is one of the central reasons why poor people are locked in grinding poverty. Where property is not respected, property (whenever it is acquired) hides. And when property hides, it cannot come out into the daylight and do useful work. The useful work it could do is that of lifting the people involved out of poverty. But in order for property to be able to do this most beneficent thing, it has to be able to come out into public view and not be assaulted or confiscated. In short, property must be safe, and it cannot be safe whenever the people are envious and covetous.

This is why we must love liberty and hate every form of coercive theft. Making that coercive theft “legal” by sanctioning it society-wide only serves to make everything far worse. Legalizing activities prohibited by the Ten Commandments does not successfully whitewash the sin. If something is perfectly appalling, we do not fix it by nodding sagely and saying, “You know, the ways their laws are structured . . .”
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Daily Devotional

Daily Devotional

Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very centre of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in Words to Live By

Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Sourced from BibleGateway.

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The End is Nigh

Fashionable Nutters

The Climate Change Doomsday Cult has tossed up more than its fair share of nutters.  If you stupidly, but genuinely, believe that “the end is nigh” for the human race, let alone the planet, then such desperate times call for desperate measures.  We can understand the logic, just as we grasp the logic of those who have believed that the world will end at midnight on the 13th of June, 2001 (or whenever) and who have traipsed out into the desert to set up survivalist compounds, thereby avoiding the worst of Armageddon.

In each case, the logic is sound; it’s the premises that are false.  The Climate Change Doomsday Cult has  this one distinction from apocalyptic forbears, however.  It has managed to capture the fears and febrile imagination of the chattering classes and the Commentariat, normally too urbane and sophisticated to get taken in by Doomsday cults.  Here are a couple of examples of the elites having been suckered.  First, the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, as reported in BreitbartNews

NEW YORK CITY — New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters on Sunday during the People’s Climate March that the city’s private sector buildings may be mandated to be retrofitted to adapt to the city’s green house gas emission reduction plan. “We are now the largest city on the earth to adopt the 80/50 standard. We are going to retrofit all of our public buildings. We are going to work with the public sector. We are going to work with the private sector to retrofit their buildings. I’ve said very clearly, I think the private sector is ready and willing. I think it’s in all of our interests,” he said. “It’s a matter of survival. We’ll work with them. We’ll incentivize. We’ll support. If that is not moving fast enough, we will move to mandates because we have to get there. This is a matter of survival.” 

Mayor de Blasio announced he was committed to an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, beginning with sweeping regulations among buildings in the city.

The cost impost upon New York City will be horrendous.  Unintended perverse effects will follow: businesses migrating out of the city, owners of buildings going bankrupt; buildings being abandoned, economic growth (also known as employment, wages, and the ability to provide for families) will lag.  The only growth industry will be the power, organs, officials, and rules and regulations of the city government.  De Blasio is going to command and control New York into becoming a giant survivalist compound.  Paradoxically this will bring upon the city the equivalent of a nuclear winter, albeit by other means.  His plan will cause the alleged disasters hectored abroad by the Climate Change Doomsday Cult to come into being. But it’s all OK, because New Yorkers’ very survival is at stake. 

And here are some examples of the Climate Change Doomsday Cult in action the UK:

Actress Emma Thompson, arguably best known for her Best Actress Oscar in Howards End and for her courage in naming her daughter Gaia, has declared that anyone who doesn’t believe in climate change is “bonkers”.  . . .

“Unless we’re carbon free by 2030 the world is buggered,” Ms Thompson claimed, apparently unaware that the trace gas carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of almost every industrial process and that if anyone took her prescription seriously then Western Civilisation would be brought grinding to a halt and the world would indeed be “buggered.”

Yup.  Doomsday is looming.  Here is another version of the Climate Change Doomsday Cult, this time from a fashion designer.

Emma Thompson and Gaia weren’t the only celebrities lending their expertise to the climate march. Also present was fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, who averred:

“A triad of [fossil fuel] monopolies, banks and politicians are ruining the planet. If runaway climate change kicks in then within a generation, there will be very little habitable on the planet and the suffering will be unimaginable.”

Could these icons of the Commentariat be wrong?   Yes.  Their passion may be compelling–but that’s always been true of Doomsday Cults.  Here is the “other side” of the argument, as summarised in the New York Post, soon to become the ex-New York Post (we confidently predict, if the madcap mayor has his way): 

Oregon-based physicist Gordon Fulks sums it up well: “CO2 is said to be responsible for global warming that is not occurring, for accelerated sea-level rise that is not occurring, for net glacial and sea ice melt that is not occurring . . . and for increasing extreme weather that is not occurring.”
Consider:
  •  According to NASA satellites and all ground-based temperature measurements, global warming ceased in the late 1990s. This when CO2 levels have risen almost 10 percent since 1997. The post-1997 CO2 emissions represent an astonishing 30 percent of all human-related emissions since the Industrial Revolution began. That we’ve seen no warming contradicts all CO2-based climate models upon which global-warming concerns are founded.
  • Rates of sea-level rise remain small and are even slowing, over recent decades averaging about 1 millimeter per year as measured by tide gauges and 2 to 3 mm/year as inferred from “adjusted” satellite data. Again, this is far less than what the alarmists suggested.
  •  Satellites also show that a greater area of Antarctic sea ice exists now than any time since space-based measurements began in 1979. In other words, the ice caps aren’t melting.
  •  A 2012 IPCC report concluded that there has been no significant increase in either the frequency or intensity of extreme weather events in the modern era. The NIPCC 2013 report concluded the same. Yes, Hurricane Sandy was devastating — but it’s not part of any new trend.

The climate scare, Fulks sighs, has “become a sort of societal pathogen that virulently spreads misinformation in tiny packages like a virus.” . . .The costs of feeding the climate-change “monster” are staggering. According to the Congressional Research Service, from 2001 to 2014 the US government spent $131 billion on projects meant to combat human-caused climate change, plus $176 billion for breaks for anti-CO2 energy initiatives.

Federal anti-climate-change spending is now running at $11 billion a year, plus tax breaks of $20 billion a year. That adds up to more than double the $14.4 billion worth of wheat produced in the United States in 2013.  Dr. Bjørn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, calculates that the European Union’s goal of a 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions below 1990 levels by 2020, currently the most severe target in the world, will cost almost $100 billion a year by 2020, or more than $7 trillion over the course of this century.

Lomborg, a supporter of the UN’s climate science, notes that this would buy imperceptible improvement: “After spending all that money, we would not even be able to tell the difference.”  Al Gore was right in one respect: Climate change is a moral issue — but that’s because there is nothing quite so immoral as well-fed, well-housed Westerners assuaging their consciences by wasting huge amounts of money on futile anti-global-warming policies, using money that could instead go to improve living standards in developing countries.

That is where the moral outrage should lie.

Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition. Bob Carter is former professor and head of the School of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in Australia.

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Monday quote

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

Upton Sinclair
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Moral Bankruptcy of Utilitarian Calculus

Thank you, Professor Dawkins!

Christian Medical Fellowship
August 26, 2014  
Written by

Who said nothing ever happens in August! Just as we were looking forward to a quiet bank holiday weekend, up pops Prof Dawkins with a disturbing tweet. Responding to another Twitter posting by a woman admitting she would face a ‘“real ethical dilemma”’ if she became pregnant and found she was carrying a baby with Down’s syndrome, he suggested she should simply abort and try again, and that it would be ‘“immoral”’ to bring into the world a child with Down’s syndrome if you had the choice. He attempted to justify himself further here.

So, there we have it. Knowingly giving life to a child with Down’s syndrome is immoral, terminating its life is commendable. On what grounds would an intelligent person say such a thing, you might ask?
To prevent the child’s suffering – the compassion argument?

Truth is, people with Down’s syndrome don’t ‘suffer’ from their condition, they live with it. And in general the lives they live are more joyous than most.

So might it be the struggles faced by the parents that the professor has in mind?

Well, let’s face it – parenting any child brings its challenges, and a child with additional needs and vulnerabilities will certainly present additional challenges. But personal accounts suggest that the particular contribution made to family life by children with Down’s syndrome, and in particular the love that they inspire in others, more than compensates for those added pressures.

No, Prof Dawkins opinion is based on a belief that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived. Sometimes dubbed ‘functionalism’, it is an aspect of utilitarian philosophy that measures the worth of a life in terms of its potential contribution to society as a whole. It leads to certain people, for whom no remedies exist, being regarded as so much ‘excess baggage’.

This is not a new idea. Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, argued strongly that for societies to protect and preserve their weak and sickly members was to contravene natural selection. If they survived into reproductive years then they would be likely to pass on their genetic flaws to another generation, thus inhibiting the evolutionary progress of the human species. Eugenics was born, and the idea was readily accepted in both scientific and political circles, paving the philosophical way for the atrocities that eventually would follow in Nazi Germany.

With increasing distance from those dreadful days, the wish to create ‘desirable’ persons is fuelling a new and so-called ‘respectable’ eugenics. The economic costs of care and modern society’s reluctance to accept personal sacrifice have led to open hunting season on the disabled unborn as evidenced, for example, by the fact that in the UK, 92% of women who receive a diagnosis of Down’s syndrome have an abortion. And even those who do come to birth are not safe – there are ethicists who propose it should be legal to kill newly born babies with Down’s syndrome (1) .

So, thank you Prof Dawkins and Twitter for drawing to our attention the return of eugenics in a new guise – ‘abort, and try again’. Thank you for illustrating again the moral bankruptcy of utilitarian calculus. As for me, the bank holiday included the 20th birthday celebration of one of the liveliest, joy-dispensing and fulfilled people I know, who just happens to have Down’s syndrome. How much poorer the world would be without her!

 Reference
1. http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/03/01/medethics-2011-100411.full
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The Fine Tuning of the Universe

Reasonable Faith have put out a new video explaining the fine tuning argument:

Scientists have come to the shocking realization that the fundamental constants and quantities of our universe have been carefully dialed to an astonishingly precise value – a value that falls within an exceedingly narrow, life-permitting range. If any one of these numbers were altered by even a hair’s breadth, no physical, interactive life of any kind could exist anywhere. There’d be no stars, no life, no planets, no chemistry.

What is the best explanation for this fine tuning? Does chance, the physical necessity of these constants, or design best explain this phenomenon?

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Daily Devotional

How to Fight Anxiety

Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7)

John Piper

Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee.”

Notice: it does not say, “I never struggle with fear.” Fear strikes, and the battle begins. So the Bible does not assume that true believers will have no anxieties. Instead the Bible tells us how to fight when they strike.
For example, 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.” It does not say, you will never feel any anxieties. It says, when you have them, cast them on God. When the mud splatters your windshield and you temporarily lose sight of the road and start to swerve in anxiety, turn on your wipers and squirt your windshield washer.

So my response to the person who has to deal with feelings of anxiety every day is to say: that’s more or less normal. At least it is for me, ever since my teenage years. The issue is: How do we fight them?

The answer to that question is: we fight anxieties by fighting against unbelief and fighting for faith in future grace. And the way you fight this “good fight” is by meditating on God’s assurances of future grace and by asking for the help of his Spirit.

The windshield wipers are the promises of God that clear away the mud of unbelief, and the windshield washer fluid is the help of the Holy Spirit. The battle to be freed from sin is fought “by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

The work of the Spirit and the Word of truth. These are the great faith-builders. Without the softening work of the Holy Spirit, the wipers of the Word just scrape over the blinding clumps of unbelief.

Both are necessary — the Spirit and the Word. We read the promises of God and we pray for the help of his Spirit. And as the windshield clears so that we can see the welfare that God plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), our faith grows stronger and the swerving of anxiety smooths out.

For more about John Piper’s ministry and writing, see DesiringGod.org.
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Pederasty’s Easy Facilitation

Evil is Never Static

The Sydney Morning Herald has carried a piece about pederasty facilitated by misuse of the Internet.  The core of the piece reveals not just the extent of the crime, but the sophistication of its perpetrators. 

A special police taskforce has discovered the number of sex offenders who target children in in Australia has been wildly underestimated and local paedophiles have set up secure online sites to share intelligence on how to trap victims.  Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton says police are shocked at the number of active offenders operating in Victoria. “There are hundreds and hundreds. We have found some terrible stuff that would keep you awake at night,” he told Fairfax Media.

He said Taskforce Astraea is conducting 120 separate investigations and has rescued 40 children in Australia and offshore who had been targeted by paedophiles.   The taskforce began by using computer software to identify encrypted child pornography images but soon discovered many offenders move quickly from “passive” observers to aggressive molesters.
Astraea has found:

  • Pay-for-view sites where children are abused and in some cases tortured.
  • Teenage girls in Melbourne are being blackmailed for sex by adult offenders.
  • Secure chat rooms where offenders discuss methods to groom children and tips to avoid detection.
  • Elaborate internet stings designed to trap vulnerable teenagers.

Astraea investigations reveal offenders trawl sites until they find someone they feel can be exploited and make contact pretending to be a person around the same age.  They then introduce a second fake character who bullies the victim on line. The offender then steps in to “protect” the target to win affection. “They then share some images and the hooks are in,” Mr Ashton said.  “He says he will tell friends and parents unless we meet. We have had kids climbing out the window at 2am to meet a paedophile.”

He said most adults are unaware of the internet threat to their children. “Parents can be downstairs watching Family Feud while their teenage daughter is chatting to a notorious paedophile online in the bedroom upstairs.  They are sharing intelligence online and educating each other by saying, ‘This works, this doesn’t, don’t do this or you will be caught’.”

Depravity, whilst common to all, is never static in the human soul.  It is either growing or diminishing, waxing or waning.  When lust takes over, its servants will be found working industrially to satiate their slaked thirst.  More and more extreme perversions will be required to satisfy their spiritual, mental, and bodily cravings.

Some takeouts:

1. The dominant materialistic world-view and its hand-maiden evolutionism has no firm ground upon which to fight such evils–which is to say that modern Western society does not really believe in the existence of evil.  Evil is nothing more than an irritant to the machine  All if requires is the application of fragrant grease–other people’s money–and the evil will wane. The machine will run smoothly again.  Whenever modern society arises to combat an extreme form of wickedness, such as pederasty, it is compromised and dilatory from the outset.  Materialism and evolutionism do not believe in the existence of absolute evil.  It does not believe in the existence of Satan.  Worse, it ridicules the idea as primitive and superstitious.

2. Parents who allow their children unsupervised and unregulated access to the Internet and mobile phones are beyond irresponsible.  They are themselves complicit in immorality.  Might as well be completely permissive and allow their children liberty and license to wander the streets of red-light districts unaccompanied into the early morning hours. 

3.  Modern technology-besotted Western culture has worshipped at the feet of the great IT idol.  Parents have been repeatedly told that their children will not succeed in the coming generation unless they are utterly conversant with IT devices of every kind and their deployment and application.  Never has a generation of parents been so enervated and enfeebled; never has a generation of parents agreed that they are inadequate to prepare their children for effective adult like; never has a generation of parents been so emasculated in their own minds.

4.  Complicit in this mass stupidity is the statist educational establishment, which, having failed to teach children how to read and write in its academies of “learning”, has sought to deflect criticism by category revision: education no longer is about reading, writing, and maths and their derivatives.  All that is passée.  IT is the new real.  Children go to school to learn how to text and develop Facebook capabilities.  Any parent who subjects children to antediluvian pre-occupations with the 3-R’s is coming close to child abuse.  No classroom, unless it is replete with laptops, tablets, i-phones, and intranets, is worthy of the name.

5.  If we, as a culture, do not swallow our craven pride, turn from our evil ways, and repent of our sins, seeking the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness, it will get worse.  If it had been argued in the 1960’s that within fifty years, children would be being groomed and manipulated by adults into sexual perversion on an industrial scale, they would have been dismissed as an idiot.  If we do not humble ourselves, the next fifty years will see far, far worse.  Evil is never static.  It is either being itself eviscerated, or it will be growing in strength to where it will disembowel a society.  “We have had kids climbing out the window at 2am to meet a paedophile,” while their “parents are downstairs watching Family Feud,”  just about says it all.

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Genesis: poetry or prose?

Some weeks back I mentioned a comment that Michael Gungor made in an interview,

But now that I am a songwriter, I see this whole thing as absolutely absurd. Genesis is a poem if I’ve ever seen one.

So because he is a songwriter and therefore writes poems to music, he claims this authority for recognising poems including in other languages and culture. The problem is that other poets as well as authorities on Hebrew literature disagree with him.

Hebrew poetry is predominantly marked by parallelism: both synonymous and antithetic parallelism. Phrases are repeated or contrasted for emphasis. A synonymous parallelism from Proverbs 9

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,/
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

An antithetical one from Proverbs 20

Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty;/
open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.

A more complex parallelism from Psalm 1 using both forms

Blessed is the man/
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,/
nor stands in the way of sinners,/
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;/
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,/
and on his law he meditates day and night.

A second feature is acrostics used in some poems such as Psalms 34, 111, 112, and Lamentations.

A third feature is the predominance of certain verb forms. Stephen Boyd notes that there are 4 finite verbs forms in Hebrew and that narrative uses the preterite verb form as its predominant finite verb form. Classifying narrative and poetry by other features in non-disputed texts shows that on average narrative uses the preterite form for ~50% (range ~20%–80%) of its finite verbs and poetry uses the preterite ~4% (range ~0%–20%).

It is worth mentioning that chiasm is a feature of Hebrew writing. It is an overarching structure somewhat resembling parallelism and is used frequently in narrative.

Genesis as a whole is hardly a poem though it contains poetry. Perhaps Gungor was implying the early chapters of Genesis were poetry (given the context of the interview)? No English translation lays out the whole of Genesis 1–3 as poetry. The New International Version does structure Genesis 1 in list format but it does not use its list format for poetry; rather for inventory in narrative. Other translations use a narrative layout.

Genesis 1–3 does not consist of parallelism thru-out, though it contains short parallelisms in the poetical passages included within, such as

So God created man in his own image,/
in the image of God he created him;/
male and female he created them.

Genesis 1–3 does not use acrostic.

And Genesis 1 uses the preterite form for 66% of its finite verbs.

Lastly, the unstated implication seems to be that poetical statements are not true, or at least that poetry is symbolic or metaphorical and not literal. Even though metaphor is frequently a feature of poetry, poetry can be literal and metaphor can be a feature of prose. The song of Miriam in Exodus 15 relates the delivery of the Israelites from the Egyptians and recounts the earlier narrative; it is supposed to be understood relatively literally. Jotham’s fable of the trees in Judges 9 is narrative yet it is supposed to be understood figuratively. The context of the passage and not just the style of writing is important for interpretation.

Genesis 1–3 is historical narrative and is not poetry.
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