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Nothing New Under the Sun

28 Mar 2010 1 comment

The following excerpt was written, or at least published, in approximately 1885, yet it so captures the spirit of this present age (emphases added):

I feel it a duty to bear my solemn testimony against the spirit of the day we live in; to warn men against its infection.  It is not Atheism I fear so much, in the present times, as Pantheism.  It is not the system which says nothing is true, so much as the system which says everything is true.  It is not the system which says there is no Saviour, so much as the system which says there are many saviours, and many ways to peace!  It is the system which is so liberal, that it dares not say anything is false.  It is the system which is so charitable, that it will allow everything to be true.  It is the system which seems ready to honor others as well as our Lord Jesus Christ, to class them all together, and to think well of all….

It is the system which bids us smile complacently on all creeds and systems of religion.  The Bible and the Koran, the Hindu Vedas and the Persian Zendavesta, the old wives’ fables of Rabbinical writers and the rubbish of Patristic traditions, the Racovian Catechism and the Thirty-nine Articles, the revelations of Emanuel Swedenborg and the book of Mormon of Joseph Smith – all, all are to be listened to; none are to be denounced as lies.  It is the system which is so scrupulous about the feelings of others, that we are never to say they are wrong.  It is the system which is so liberal that it calls a man a bigot if he dares to say, “I know my views are right.”  This is the system, this is the tone of feeling which I fear in this day, and this is the system  which I desire emphatically to testify against and denounce.

What is it all but a bowing down before a great idol, speciously called liberality?  What is it all but a sacrificing of truth upon the altar of a caricature of charity?  What is it all but the worship of a shadow, a phantom, and an unreality?  What can be more absurd than to profess ourselves content with “earnestness,” when we do not know what we are earnest about?  Let us take heed lest we are carried away by the delusion.

Thus writes John Charles Ryle (more commonly cited as J. C. Ryle) in his volume entitle Knots Untied:  Being plain statements on disputed points in religion from the standpoint of an evangelical churchman.  The first two paragraphs above could have been written today, they so accurately reflect the mindset of 21st century  liberals.  The last paragraph above points to the fallacy of this mindset we would do well to heed, especially those of us who name the name of Christ.  The fact is, objective reality exists and no one, not even these liberals, truly operates on the assumption that there is no objective truth, or that all “truths” are valid, when it comes to the practical living of their daily lives.  Otherwise, they would be paralyzed, for how would they even know the door to their bedroom exists, let alone the outside world?  And I would certainly not want them behind the wheel of any vehicle!

~~~

Who is J. C. Ryle?

A remarkable preacher, an effective evangelist, and a bold leader of the church in Victorian England, John Charles Ryle (1816-1900) drew untold thousands to deeper Christian holiness. His writings – many still in print – have drawn untold millions more.  (From the Hendrickson edition of J.C. Ryle’s Holiness, which includes a 20-page biographical sketch of Ryle’s life as a preface; page vii)

HT:  Eric Smith

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One Picture That Says It All

Political Cartoon by Michael Ramirez

Historical Fact, Not Jewish Lie

Back in January, 2007, I posted the following:

Late last year, the CBS’ news magazine 60 Minutes gave viewers a never before seen look into the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany. Created by the Red Cross shortly after World War II, the International Tracing Service is the largest Holocaust archive in the world. On its 16 miles of shelves are 50 million documents holding the stories of 17 million victims of the Holocaust, (facts and data, Mr. Imawackjob, facts and data) including

  • The paper trail for "Frank, Annaliese Marie" as she was sent from Amsterdam to her eventual death at Bergen-Beslen. Annaliese is known today as "Anne Frank."
  • A list of 700 men and 300 women needed to work in a munitions factory in Brnenec-Brunnlitz in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The factory was owned by Oskar Schindler.
  • An April 20 "Totenbuch" [or "death book"] recording the execution of one prisoner every two minutes.

The most moving and fascinating part of 60 Minutes‘ piece is that the show invited Walter Feiden, Miki Schwartz, and Jack Rosenthal to visit Bad Arolsen. The three men are the first Holocaust survivors to enter the archive, and the Red Cross located documents for each.

One would think that the evidence would be sufficient to demonstrate the absolute falsehood of Holocaust-deniers world wide, yet man’s ability to dissociate himself from reality when he doesn’t want to believe continues unabated.  Alas, tis not a new flaw in humankind.  Sir Francis Bacon noted back in 1620:

“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises, or else by some distinction sets aside and rejects, in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate.”  (Novum Organum, Book One, Aphorism XLVI)

Even this month, a Jordanian newspaper published an article entitled “The Holocaust is a Jewish Myth, Legend, and Lie.”  The only reason anyone could believe such drivel is if their cerebral contents have been converted to pablum and poured back in between their ears.  Thus, it is with glorious irony that the same month this article appears, The Auschwitz Album became available on-line for the world to see.

image

The Introduction:

The Auschwitz Album is the only surviving visual evidence of the process of mass murder at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is a unique document and was donated to Yad Vashem by Lilly Jacob-Zelmanovic Meier.

The photos were taken at the end of May or beginning of June 1944, either by Ernst Hofmann or by Bernhard Walter, two SS men whose task was to take ID photos and fingerprints of the inmates (not of the Jews who were sent directly to the gas chambers). The photos show the arrival of Hungarian Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia. Many of them came from the Berehovo Ghetto, which itself was a collecting point for Jews from several other small towns.

Early summer 1944 was the apex of the deportation of Hungarian Jewry. For this purpose a special rail line was extended from the railway station outside the camp to a ramp inside Auschwitz. Many of the photos in the album were taken on the ramp. The Jews then went through a selection process, carried out by SS doctors and wardens. Those considered fit for work were sent into the camp, where they were registered, deloused and distributed to the barracks. The rest were sent to the gas chambers. They were gassed under the guise of a harmless shower, their bodies were cremated and the ashes were strewn in a nearby swamp. The Nazis not only ruthlessly exploited the labor of those they did not kill immediately, they also looted the belongings the Jews brought with them. Even gold fillings were extracted from the mouths of the dead by a special detachment of inmates. The personal effects the Jews brought with them were sorted by inmates and stored in an area referred to by the inmates as "Canada": the ultimate land of plenty.

The photos in the album show the entire process except for the killing itself.

The purpose of the album is unclear. It was not intended for propaganda purposes, nor does it have any obvious personal use. One assumes that it was prepared as an official reference for a higher authority, as were photo albums from other concentration camps.

Lilly never hid the album and news of its existence was published many times. She was even called to present it as testimony at the Auschwitz trials in Frankfurt during the 1960s. She kept it all the years until the famous Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld visited her in 1980, and convinced her to donate the album to Yad Vashem.

In 1994 the album was restored in Yad Vashem’s conservation laboratory and information on each one of the photos was typed into the computerized databank of the archive. The staff of the archive was able to compare and match the pictures with aerial photos taken by the US Army Air Force on several occasions in 1944-45. In 1999 the entire album was scanned with the highest quality digital equipment.

There are 56 pages and 193 photos in the album. Some of the original pictures, presumably those given by Lilly to survivors who had identified relatives in the photographs, are missing. One of these pictures was recently donated to Yad Vashem.

Some “moments” in history should never be forgotten.  This is one of them.  God warned the world,

For thus says the LORD of hosts: "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.

(Zechariah 2:8)

Thus the Thousand Year Reich didn’t last much more than a decade.

Categories: History, Middle East Tags: ,

Impossible things: Obama and Reality Denied

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

-Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

 

This particular quote from Lewis Carroll has been getting a lot of traction these days as America reels from the stunning and callous hubris of its alleged representatives.

Political Cartoon by Gary Varvel

The corrupt machinations displayed in their efforts to force their version of socialized healthcare down the collective American throat cannot be described as otherwise.

Political Cartoon by Dana Summers

Political Cartoon by Brian Farrington

The Constitutionality will surely be challenged (not that they haven’t been warned), but perhaps the most sickening aspect of this is the obvious disconnect from reality on the part of these induhviduals with so much power over the lives of all of us and our children for generations to come.  As Dr. Sowell observes in that last link:

In politics, however, you can say all sorts of things that have no relationship with reality.

All of which reminds me of another Lewis Carroll conversation also applicable to the “situation”:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master– that’s all.”

Political Cartoon by Michael Ramirez

We can only hope and pray the adults will have the backbone and intestinal fortitude to correct this atrocity.

Political Cartoon by Gary Varvel

A Sure Fire Deal!

20 Mar 2010 1 comment

Political Cartoon by Michael Ramirez

Dumbing Down Our Next Generation(s)

This sounds like fun and I think I’d like to try it sometime:

A woman with a petition went among the crowds attending a state fair, asking people to sign her petition demanding the banning of dihydroxymonoxide. She said it was in our lakes and streams, and now it was in our sweat and urine and tears.

She collected hundreds of signatures to ban dihydroxymonoxide.

The “fun” part comes when you know (as I do since I am a biochemist) just what this evil chemical is:  WATER!  Yet hundreds either didn’t know or didn’t bother to ask or get any further details and signed the petition anyway.  This opening story provides the impetus for Dr. Thomas Sowell’s recent observations and analysis of the lamentable condition of the cognitive prowess of our populace thanks to our wonderful public edjumacation system (um, yes, I know there are exceptions to this generalization…please don’t hyperventilate on me because you know of one).

The problem is a failure to teach critical thinking skills, a prime concern of this blog.  Dr. Sowell writes (emphases added):

People are all born ignorant but they are not born stupid. Much of the stupidity we see today is induced by our educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities. In a high-tech age that has seen the creation of artificial intelligence by computers, we are also seeing the creation of artificial stupidity by people who call themselves educators.

Educational institutions created to pass on to the next generation the knowledge, experience and culture of the generations that went before them have instead been turned into indoctrination centers to promote whatever notions, fashions or ideologies happen to be in vogue among today’s intelligentsia.

The experiences of life can help people outgrow whatever they were indoctrinated with. What may persist, however, is the lazy habit of hearing one side of an issue and being galvanized into action without hearing the other side– and, more fundamentally, not having developed any mental skills that would enable you to systematically test one set of beliefs against another.

All too many not only hear only one side, they purposely block their ears and refuse to hear the other.  This shuts down any possibility of thinking critically, indeed, of thinking at all.  It has long been known that

The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.  (Proverbs 18:17)

The common liberal strategy of demonizing your opponent, especially when you don’t have any valid argument against them, depends upon this unilateral knowledge base (a euphemism I just created for one sided ignorance).  Or as our hero, Ronald Reagan once said,

The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.

Dr. Sowell then continues to skewer the edjumacators thus (emphases added):

It was once the proud declaration of many educators that "We are here to teach you how to think, not what to think." But far too many of our teachers and professors today are teaching their students what to think, about everything from global warming to the new trinity of "race, class and gender."

Even if all the conclusions with which they indoctrinate their students were 100 percent correct, that would still not be equipping students with the mental skills to weigh opposing views for themselves, in order to be prepared for new and unforeseeable issues that will arise over their lifetimes, after they leave the schools and colleges.

Many of today’s "educators" not only supply students with conclusions, they promote the idea that students should spring into action because of these prepackaged conclusions– in other words, vent their feelings and go galloping off on crusades, without either a knowledge of what is said by those on the other side or the intellectual discipline to know how to analyze opposing arguments.

In other words, they are being training to believe it is more important how you “feel” and to act on that than to determine the truth of the matter and to respond using facts and data.  Given that most of these edjumacators are liberals, one wonders how much of this failure is deliberate because if the other side is presented fairly and known generally, their entire world view will come crashing down and they will fail in their attempts to indoctrinate their charges into their lopsided world view.  On the other hand, there might be another reason acting at the root cause level.  Dr. Sowell just misses the mark in his final conclusion, but not by much.

A philosopher once said that the most important knowledge is knowledge of one’s own ignorance. That is the knowledge that too many of our schools and colleges are failing to teach our young people.

The observation is most definitely true, but it misses the mark because it overlooks a primary reason for not having a knowledge of one’s ignorance and it is a character problem that has plagued mankind since the fall.  It is contained in a simple five-letter word, and our current administration seems to be overflowing with a superabundance of this failure of character.  The word in a word is:  PRIDE.  Pride causes its owner to deny the possibility that they are wrong, and to assume the posture of superiority.  Facts become irrelevant and this leads to the construction of bubbles of unreality in one’s thought and life as denial of the possibility of error leads to wrong conclusions and wrong actions based on those wrong conclusions.  Ultimately, reality will assert itself, often to the pain of the one denying it.  God tries to warn such, but those warnings usually go unheeded.

When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.  (Proverbs 11:2)

In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, But the lips of the wise will preserve them.  (Proverbs 14:3 )

Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.  (Proverbs 16:18)

A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor.  (Proverbs 29:23)

In a time when man is making good progress in creating artificial intelligence in his computers (with a rare subset of the population who can think), it can only be ideology creating this condition of artificial stupidity in people.

image

Ouch!

An American pastor was visiting the pastor of a Church in a country where Christians are under heavy persecution. The US pastor said, "It must be so very difficult to pastor the church here." The other pastor replied, "Not so, it must be difficult in America. Here we know who the true Christians are."

(HT:  Reformation Theology)