Oct 29

Minority Report

By Kenneth Feucht books 2 Comments »

Minority Report, by Carl R. Trueman ★★★★

This book is a minimally cohesive set of 16 essays written by Carl Trueman, and published as a single volume. Though the subtitle reads “Unpopular thoughts on everything from ancient Christianity to Zen-Calvinism”, I wouldn’t necessarily classify anything he says as distinctly unpopular to the conservative reformed movement. Trueman writes as a church historian, and his fundamental thesis is how our loss of a true historical perspective prevents us from having a correct present and future perspective. This is now the third book that I’ve read by Trueman, and  appreciate his writings as reflective of a slightly different than straight American conservative perspective. Unfortunately, his love for classic rock and roll and socialism in government clouds his thinking from being Biblical. He is a mix that provides both humor and seriousness to otherwise quite serious and vital topics.  Rather than summarize every one of the 16 essays, I’ll simply provide some highlights of the book that caught my attention.

Regarding his discussions with Rushdooney regarding denial of the holocaust, he states “the perplexingly popular (in some circles) Rousas J. Rushdoony, with some of his more distasteful followers” who perpetuate [such myths that the holocaust did not happen].

“American public morality is increasingly that of the marketplace, and moral truth is that which the cultural market forces permit, or, in some cases demand. Think for examples, of the recent emergence of phenomena such as gay gay tourism and gay television channels. Would these things happen if they did not provide opportunities for moneymakeing…” Then speaking of the new radicals in society “like pouting teenagers in pre-torn designer jeans and Che Guevara tee-shirts, they look angry and radical but are really as culturally conformist and conservative as ta tall latte from Starbucks”.

“I have a colleague who prayed for world peace at a recent service and was admonished for praying an “unAmerican” prayer. The fact that there is such a term as “unAmerican” is itself interesting. There is no real equivalent as far as I know in other countries with which I am familiar: what would “unDutch” or “unBritish” mean, I wonder? This is because “American” is not a term which speaks primarily of geographical location or a birthplace but rather of a set of values. Such values can be defined in various ways; but, however that may be done, “unAmerican” is regarded by all as a pejorative. That it can be used in a church context about a prayer for peace gives one worrying pause for thought…” Later, in talking about churches that also push a political agenda, “Bluntly put, if I have to buy your political manifesto in order to buy your gospel then your church is indulging in a dangerous confusion of categories and excluding individuals and groups from its congregation. They are excluded on grounds other than that of simply being outside of Christ. A gospel that is too American in this sense is no gospel at all”

At least three essays are spent on the issue of prominent Protestants converting back to Catholicism. To that he says “I find myself in smypathy [with the Catholic converts in] the problems described as part and parcel of some trajectories of evangelicalism (the reinvention of Christianity every Sunday, the consumer-oriented worship styles, the overall intellectual superficiality and banality of evangelical approaches to theology, to hisotry, to tradition, and to culture); yet I still disagree with those individuals who see conversion to Rome as the answer. I would want to argue that conversion to confessional Protestantism is at least worth a glance as oanother option before deciding to throw one’s whole lot in with Rome. Confessional Protestantism has a heistoric, creedal integrity, it takes history seriously; it refuses to assume that the latest pulp evangelical primer on postmodernism is an adequate basis for ditching the whoe of its tradition; and it wants to take seriously what wthe church has said about the Bible over the centuries..”.

I’ll cease quoting at this point. As a set of essays, the book lacks the cohesivity that I expect when somebody binds a smattering of writings together into one volume. Such an act in itself tends to trivialize the subject matter. Yet, Trueman is enjoyable to read, and provides a slightly different from mainstream through definitely Reformed position on life.

 

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Oct 27

America’s Secret Establishment; An Introduction to the Order of Skull and Bones, by Antony Sutton ★★

America’s Secret Establishment is an exposé of the secret society located at Yale University called the Order of the Skull and Bones.  Sutton managed to obtain a modest amount of documentation and information detailing the character and nature of this very obscure society, where even the most inane details of the society are considered top secret. The Order initiates only 15 people per year, all male, and thus maintains a tight seal on the membership and activities of the Order. For the most part, much of what Sutton had to say about the Order was entirely conjectural, since information was not available. What Sutton was able to determine was the membership of the Order, and thus to identify influences in America and throughout the world that these individuals played. Through extrapolation, Sutton was able to conclude that the Order had every intention on turning the world into one massive socialist state, the New World Order.

Though Sutton is quite informative about the Skull and Bones, his book left too much out to make it of value. First, he concludes that the Order controls every aspect of American society, not only from politics, but religion, economics, business, education, and law. This is hypothesized, since there happen to be members of the Order who are prominent lawyers, and high up in politics (presidency), and religion (control of Union Seminary). Yet, the Order tends to pick top of the Yale class students who are active in sports, highly sociable, i.e, the most-likely-to-succeed candidates. Thus, Sutton’s identification of members of the Order being involved in all aspects of society is slightly more profound that saying that there is an Ivy League or New England secret society conspiracy. That is not to say that I don’t find it bothersome that so many prominent leaders in society are members of a secret society. Unfortunately, our act of taking the Order seriously only increases the sense of significance that society members maintain.

The first chapter is a review of the evidence for the society, and the known structure of the society. Sutton makes it clear that this is not a right or left-wind political society, in that it has members from both stripes, including many liberals, as well and George Bush and William Buckley.  Chapter 2 tries to show how the Order has attempted to destroy education in America. He does this first by complaining against the new methods of teaching reading. He then outlines how educational theory came from Germany, and was brought into the US in an attempt to make every schoolchild a servile entity for the state. The basis for education, Sutton would say, is Hegelian. Perhaps it is also Kantian. Sutton has to blame all defects on Hegel, since it was Hegel that gave rise to both Karl Marx (socialism) and Adam Smith (capitalism). Plus, Hegel explains (according to Sutton) why the Order can make entirely opposite actions and be internally consistent—they merely are trying to create a Hegelian dialectic of two opposites, that will lead to a resolution, and the Order profits off of the entire process of resolution. The secret society of the Illuminati is occasionally thrown in, even though this society was eliminated in the late 1700’s. I guess Sutton figures it still lives on as a super-secret society, and the parent of the Order as well as the Fabian Society in England.

The third chapter delves into the Order creating war. Sutton leaves enormous gaps. He was able to identify various members of the Order acting as banking personnel that provided loans to both the Bolsheviks and to Hitler. With Hitler, it was a matter of shear corporate greed, and I doubt a conspiracy was involved, even members of the Order might have been involved in the secret trades with Hitler. With the Bolsheviks, it is another story, as Sutton presupposes that those Bankers that operated in Russia were able foretell the future of Soviet communism. It seems (correctly) that members of the Order perhaps saw an advantage of a strong Bolshevik influence in diminishing Western trade, such as with competition for the supply of oil.

The fourth chapter attempts to prove that the Order of Skull and Bones is deeply entwined with the occult, and is a Satanic society. He mentions certain rituals, and certain symbolism within the Order headquarters that offer unquestioned “proof” of such occultism occurring. Such may be the case, but Sutton’s evidence is flimsy, at best. The use of skull and bones, the note that initiates take a bath naked in mud, etc. seems more sophomoric than representative of a deep evil.

I read this book with the understanding from brother Dennis that Sutton was one of the more insightful investigators into the secret societies and conspiracies that are besetting America. Perhaps, but this book is so weak as to be laughable if it wishes to develop that thesis. Sutton so often has to provide conjectures. He suggests that there is a big circle of influence, through the Council of Foreign Relations, a tighter circle of the Order of Skull and Bones, but then, even in the Order, there is only a select few in the inner circle that truly control the Order, and thus control the world. This suggests that there is a substantial chain of command between circles, yet Sutton provides no evidence that this exists. Sutton must constantly bring back Hegel in order to explain why the Order seems to continually act in odds with itself. I find this reasoning entirely non-convincing. Even Christ noted that a house divided cannot stand, should the person be the devil himself.

After reading this book, I quickly reviewed another conspiracy book in my library, Bloodlines of the Illuminati by Fritz Springmeier.

This book does not seem to be intended to be read cover to cover. It covers a number of families, including the Rothschilds, Onassis’, Kennedy’s, DuPonts and Russells. Springmeier is a mostly self-acclaimed preacher with two years of bible school. He notes how these families have intimate ties with Judaism, Roman Catholicism, the Jehovah Witnesses, and Mormons, and thus indites them all as part of the conspiracy. He is able to trace various families, and thus hypothesize regarding secret influences that these families have held on society.

The ultimate bottomline is that as I read more and more about the secret societies that rule the world, and create their own wars, stock market collapses, educational failures, etc., etc., I am less convinced that there is anything organized and controlling. I am more convinced that there is much out there that we will never know about; secrets exchanged, deals engaged, money, weapons, and technology transferred, all against the law, but all supporting the notion that all of mankind is fundamentally and to the core, evil. So it is not surprising that evil desires darkness to work its dirty deeds.

Sutton even admits that the John Birch Society has disagreed with him regarding the absolute significance of highly organized conspiracy. I agree with the JBS that the Order feeds the system with individuals that hold their own interests to the disadvantage of the rest of society. But, I must return to my book review by Peter Leithart, and heavily criticised by brother Dennis. Dennis even had the audacity of calling Peter Leithart an idiot, and simply did not understand the fundamentals about how the world really works. My final conclusion is that Leithart is the wiser, and perhaps the idiot is one who simply cannot believe that others might possess the more Scriptural insight. Perhaps Dennis did not realize that Leithart had studied under Gary North, and sits in the Reformed camp. To reiterate, Leithart emphasized that the “us” and “them” are not the people vs. the conspirators, but it is the people of God vs. the people of the devil. Leithart has a correct (and Reformed as compared to Anabaptist) sense of how Christians should interact with society. While the Anabaptists (and Dennis) create a gnostic sense of body/soul dualism, the Reformers see mankind as a monism, and that interaction in society is not in itself wrong. Thus, Christians can be active in politics, in public debate, in working to offer a Christian influence to society. To hide will not avoid the tarnish of secularism as the heart, even of the Christian, will remain to corrupt and destroy.

For those texts that are loved and devoured by conspiracy theorists, I have yet Caroll Quigley’s Tragedy & Hope. It may be a while before I get to that text. I plan to read yet a book by a physician on the brotherhood of darkness, as well as a book by Gary North on conspiracy theories. This whole subject of conspiracy theories looks interesting, and I certainly wouldn’t disagree that there is a handful of bankers and politicians that operate in a clandestine fashion to pretend that they “control” the world. Those who seek world domination are the greatest fools, failing to see how God controls them, and laughs at them. It is worth memorizing the second Psalm, that couldn’t have summarized things better, …

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

 

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Oct 27

Mercury Living Presence Collector’s Edition ★★★★

This is a collection of 50 CD’s, representing a spectrum of albums produced by Mercury Living Presence (MLP). Many of the recordings in this set represented vinyl discs that were popular as a kid. MLP was an American recording company, that focused heavily on American classical and popular productions. Specifically were recordings of Antal Dorati with the Minnesota Symphony, Byron Janis, Frederick Fennell, Gena Bachauer, and Janos Starker, to name a few. Also included was distinctly American Music, including that of Copland, and Howard Hanson. The recordings were a mix in quality, some with a slightly distant sound to them. Many of the records would not have been my first choice, there is occasionally tracks that are speech and not music, and civil war music, Mexican music, and some of the other recordings were performed simply to record historical sounds rather than to provide musical enjoyment. When one looks at the cost of this set, it was very affordable at under $2 / disc, definitely a bargain by any perspective.

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Oct 25

Affirming the Apostles’ Creed, by J.I. Packer ★★★★★

Packer takes 18 short chapters to briefly summarize the meaning of the apostle’s creed. This book is written more in the form of a devotional book or introductory text to the Creed. It is not an advanced analysis of the origin and substance of the creed. Still, Packer never writes fluff, and this book is pure solid meat all the way through. Packer has a way of bringing home the truths of Scripture to help one understand why every bit of doctrine is of vital importance. This book is worth reading for anybody of all ages. Betsy and I read the book together each morning before going to work.

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Oct 22

Sir Lance-a-Lot Lost was stripped today of his seven Tour de France titles. Such is a black day for a great sport. Thankfully, the European Cycling Commission (UCI) decided against awarding anybody the title for those seven years, since most of the riders in second place had also been accused or highly suspected of doping. Sir LanceLot is not the first knight fallen from the Round Table, and probably is not the last. The black day is not for Lance, though I’m sure he will experience massive depression over this news. It is for a sport that has placed inhuman demands on people, not only in the Tour, but so many other bicycle races that have been contrived, including the RAAM (ride across America). Riders will continue to devise techniques of enhancing their performance in an artificial fashion. Cheating will then rise to new levels.

The evidence against Armstrong is overwhelming. I won’t belabor recalling the evidence since the USADA has done that quite well, well enough to convince the UCI that he was worthy of being stripped of his titles. There are good arguments against taking away the titles. After all, Lance was a formidible athlete. One can detail the brilliant strategies that Lance often used to win those titles. Yet, to not act decisively will forever color the sport as doping-permissive, and where it is so pervasive, such radical actions are necessary and should be lauded.

Lance appears to the public as their type of hero, winning in the face of the worst adversity (cancer), pushing on through honest determination to succeed and conquer. His friends feel otherwise, that is, what few friends he still has. When one looks at the entire life of Lance, there never was a time when Lance and his public persona were even close to matching. Lance was always a “win at all cost” person, somebody who would run over his own mother to win a race. His arrogance and ruthless striving had no morals and no bounds. Is this what we want to see in an American bicycle hero? I don’t think so. It is unfortunate that most of life in American culture is now with the Armstrong persona. There is no aspect of life that is not affected by the American-Armstrongian win-all mentality.

As far as we can tell, Einstein did not dope. Nor did he win the Tour-de-France. Such were the better years of cycling, when the sport could be enjoyed, and when exercise and entertainment could be mixed together into one grand activity. The bicycle is one of the more fascinating intentions of the 19th century, and it is not surprising that the airplane was invented in a bicycle shop. There is no other device that better promotes fitness, efficiently harnesses energy for movement, is mechanically simple and inexpensive, doesn’t pollute, is orthopedically gentle on the body, can be ridden at all ages, and has a plethora of uses outside of exercise and leisure activities. Like all good things, they can also be abused and used for evil intentions. That is the curse we live under, that we cannot be happy with the goodness of life, but must always pervert it or destroy its good intentions. There is one race worth running, and is spoken of by an anonymous preacher man, saying “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2. Drugs and performance enhancement medications are unnecessary in the race that we confront, and the prize far greater than a silly little Tour-de-France title.

 

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