Carpe Diem Redeemed: Seizing the Day, Discerning the Times, by Os Guinness ★★★★★
Many people attempt to present themselves as the pundits of the times, a person with a deep insight into “what’s really going on” and how to assess the ebb and flow of our culture. Os is one of those few people that I look up to in this regard. I first read his Dust of Death in the mid-seventies while in college; this book served, along with the books of Francis Schaeffer and other L’Abri authors, as a bulwark against a militantly liberal university system. Now as I edge toward the end of life, Guinness still stays contemporary in his analysis of social philosophy.
Time. Mick Jagger noted that time was on his side. But, is it really? I fear that time is running out for Mick. What is time? How do you quantify it? How do you assure that time does not have giant gaps or pauses which go unnoticed by the time-constrained observer? Paul Helm provides probably the best insights into an Augustinian-Reformed perspective on the nature of time. How does one reconcile an infinite being that exists outside of time and yet interacts with creatures and creation in time? Paul Helm, in his magisterial text Eternal God suggests a philosophical conclusion and shows how his conclusions give answers to the great dilemmas about God, such as his omniscience (of the past, present, and future), omnipresence, and omnipotence. I have also delved into treatises on the philosophy of time from a physics perspective. Unfortunately, the physicist has a mind that is constrained to think in space & time terms, which is a construct of our minds. To ask a physicist, philosopher, or anybody to truly delve into a precise scientific definition of time is like asking a fish to describe water; he can’t, since that is his world.
Carpe Diem Redeemed is a little book, only 139 pages. It is a gem from start to finish. After giving a brief description as to how our culture thinks of time, Guinness delves into the three ways that time is considered, cyclical, linear, or covenantal-linear. The Judeo-Christian mindset does not view the world as a relentless, repeating flow of years, nor as a simple linear, non-objective, non-controlled, non-teleologic fate for mankind. Rather, in the covenantal view, God is the God of time. If one has watched the Dr. Who television series, Dr. Who is the Time Lord. Compared to Scripture, he is a pitiful time Lord, still subject to time’s vagarities. The true Time Lord, the triune Jehovah God, not only controls time and moves back and forth through time, but creates time, yet always lives outside of time (see again Paul Helm). From that philosophical perspective, the cyclical and linear perspectives leave the creature caught within time without a purpose, a telos, or hope. Yet, as Guinness explains, the Christian doesn’t often live as a covenantal-linear creature. We wash in the philosophy of contemporary thinking and then find trouble in the reconciliation with Scriptural claims.
I won’t labor through the remainder of this book since it is a book that should, perhaps must, be read. Guinness describes how western culture has become obsessed with time. We are slaves of the clock and have a hard time thinking outside of the constraints of the tiny device most people wear on their wrist. Our culture identifies with time values; “Old is mold; new is true” is essentially the implications of the progressive movement. Yet the implications that newer “things” are always more correct than older “things” is a dangerous presumption. Generationalism has been a highly destructive mode of thinking. Historically, a “generation” used to refer to all people living at a given point in time, such as the 1550s; now it refers to people born within a certain segment of time, such as the greatest generation, or the baby boomers, or generation X.
Guinness offers reflections as to how to start thinking again with time in a Biblical fashion. He offers a warm personal perspective, reflecting on growing up in China. In being personal, Os offers a challenge to the reader to seize the day in a Christian/Biblical fashion. This is a book that is very much worth reading by the Christian who wishes to see how the secular culture has influenced our perspective on time as well as offering a Biblical means of thinking as a Christian.
Adventures of Ken the Mountain Guide in the Snow… I did three short hikes recently…
10JAN2022: Antoine Peak, 3.72 miles, 2:09 minutes time, 840 ft elevation gain. This was my first adventure since childhood on snowshoes. It was a sunny day, and most of the time, I really didn’t need the snowshoes. If I got off the beaten path, then the snowshoes were very nice to have. There were only a few other people out that day.
21JAN2022: Mica Peak Trail, 4.63 miles, 2:05 minutes, 856 ft elevation gain. This day was partially sunny, and I used Kahtoola Exospikes on my hiking boots to survive the snow. I had tried to venture down a little-used trail near the summit of my hike, and was post-holing too much to continue for long and so turned back. On the lower elevations, it was nothing but mud or hard ice. The Kahtoolas worked great. Visibility was good. Next time, I’ll need to figure out a way to carry the snowshoes so that I might be more of an adventurer. I never encountered another soul on the trail.
24JAN2022; 5.08 miles, 2:15 minutes, 1270 ft elevation gain. Today was completely overcast, and I ended up in the clouds the further in I went. I also used the Kahtoola Exospikes, though on this adventure Microspikes would probably have been a better choice, as the trail was either hard ice or hardpack snow for the entire distance. It was also well below freezing temperature for the entire hike. With the clouds surrounding me and snow covering all the trees and ground, there was an ethereal sense of beauty. I wasn’t sure how far I would make and was surprised to have made it to the Rocks of Sharon. I would have done a loop but didn’t feel that the other trails were open. I encountered only one person and his dog on the trail.
With all of this snow, you’d wonder where global warming disappeared to. Greta doesn’t want you to think about this!!!!
Regardless of what Greta thinks, I will be doing a few more snow adventures, including heading up Mt. Spokane on snowshoes. I need to take advantage of the closeness to snow in this area, and play as much as possible.
(22JAN2022) Today I was able to locate (on the Internet) the text to my former Blog page. I will now be slowly moving everything over. It may take a month or two. The photos will need to be located elsewhere (if that is even possible), and then I will need to paste them into their proper place and correct the obvious grammar problems. Until then, older posts will be limited to text. I had two hidden posts which I doubt that I will ever be able to recover.
(24JAN2022) I have completed the transfer of whatever blog files were available. I am missing a) Blog entries between November 2019 and August 2021. These would have included trip reports and book reviews, and perhaps some Feuchtblog commentary b) For about 8 to 10 months there were at least 10 entries for the month. When the entries exceeded 10 for the month, the additional entries would have been lost. c) All of the photos were lost. I may be able to locate them on my computer, but that is going to take a bit of work, and then even more work if I find them to incorporate the photos into the blog entries.
I realized that the blog entries from the earliest years (2007-mid-2009) were created on the Apple website called iWeb. I really liked the site and was a bit upset when they informed us to export our data since they were closing down that service. I’m not sure that that was the brightest idea for Apple. The data was then transferred to Andrew’s web server (a proprietary service) where it stayed for many years. After that, I decided to do my own hosting (from approximately 2017) on my Synology server. When we moved last year, the Synology server data was mysteriously lost, even though I was certain that everything was well backed up. That is why I returned to a remote server hosted by SiteGround. Only last week did I find the majority of my content on the Wayback Machine server and was able to glean most of the text. I need to now decide whether I should go with a VPN service. Comments will be appreciated. My brother Dennis (who, like Mr. Peabody [Mr. Know-it-All] from Rocky and Bullwinkle) suggested that it would not be necessary. Dennis usually is right, but not always right.
I ran grammar checks on most of my entries from 2007 to 2017 and was quite interested in the repetitive mistakes that I would make. Most often were the excess commas between phrases. I tend to punctuate in the manner in which I would speak. There were a few words repeatedly misspelled (emporer should be emperor!) and (loose/lose) were the worst. My choice of prepositions was occasionally frowned on by the grammar checker. Often, the identification of the sentence subject was complex, leading to confusion as to the pleural nature of the verb.
I was amused by my blogging habits. Before the year 2013, I heavily blogged, and frequently had greater than 5 entries per month. Slowly, it died down. At about 2017, it began to pick up again. Few other people that I know maintain an active blog page. I dislike that. They post on Facebook or other social media sites, and I find that totally disgusting. With me nearly completely separating from Facebook, I will probably increase my blogging entries once again.
Darwin Day in America: How politics and culture have bee dehumanized in the name of science, by John G. West ★★★★★
Many books have been written regarding problems with the theory of evolution. Darwinism or neo-Darwinism, as the leading construct of evolutionary theory, has both its fierce supporters as well as opponents. Few topics have the capability of generating heated conversations and turning friends into fiends. Few people ever ask the “So what?” question. How does Darwinistic thinking affect the man on the street? Isn’t Darwinism an ambivalent or neutral belief? How does Darwinism affect the price of gold? Or what do I do once I wake up in the morning? It seems like whether or not you believe in evolution as a random impersonal process makes no difference in the grand scheme of things. Yet, the perceptive insights provided by Dr. West demolish the neutrality of this issue. In a nearly encyclopedic manner, John West proceeds to provide the numerous areas in the public square where Darwinism has had a distinctively destructive effect on our society. West provides a plethora of examples in each chapter of how Darwinism has affected the courts, the schools, the medical establishment, the conduct of the scientific community, and even the man-on-the-street. Darwinism is a Weltanschauung at war with the Judeo-Christian/theistic system that founded western civilization and the basis for scientific inquiry. Many of West’s examples were heretofore unheard of by me. This is news that doesn’t make the “news”. In a skillful and scholarly fashion, West unearths the contest between faith and “science”, while providing references for any claims that he has made. The book is divided into various sections, with each section oriented around a specific theme. I’ll be brief in the detailed review.
I took a psychology class while in college and wrote a 15-20 page book review and rebuttal of BF Skinner’s Beyond Freedom and Dignity. I got an “A” on that paper, and still have it in my files. This was back in the time when colleges (I attended the hyper-liberal Portland State University) still had free speech. On a recent review of this paper, I noted that I had used the nothing-buttery argument, and could not remember where I picked up that phrase since I did not reference my paper. It was thus with great surprise that I noted the title of the first chapter of Darwin Day contained the words “nothing-buttery”. Thankfully, Dr. West referenced the book which was by the same author where I gleaned this phrase and had read it first between high school and college, A Clockwork Image: A Christian Perspective on Science, by Donald MacKay. MacKay’s, as well as West’s argument, is when a “scientist” makes the preposterous (and impossible to prove) claim that the world is nothing but what we can detect and observe by science. Truly, it is science-of-the-gaps thinking which forces a pseudo-science explanation to the entirety of the world. So much of what we see and know is unprovable and so much more is simply unknowable, yet they are using science to fill in our vast ignorance of the gaps in our knowledge. Out of this nothing-buttery, scientific materialism emerged the Darwinistic Weltanschauung that is currently deconstructing our society. West, in a subsequent chapter, gives a brief summary of the rise of Darwinism in the world which is instructive, and not exactly matching what one would find in biology class at government schools.
In the next section, West addresses the issue of the courts and crime and punishment. When Dostoevsky wrote his masterpiece Crime and Punishment, there was still a Christian Weltanschauung, and he knew that his readership would comprehend the sense of guilt after committing a crime. This book probably would not pass the muster if written in today’s world, though Woody Allen’s film Crimes and Misdemeanors in the 1980s played on the residual Judeo-Christian worldview found in the society of 30 plus years ago. Through a number of examples, West shows how the Darwinian mindset removes responsibility for a crime, or turns it into nothing more than a mental illness. Rather than punishment or restitution, rehabilitation becomes the prevailing theme. Though “science” is claimed as the guiding beacon for the new management of criminal offenses, it strains the imagination to see how the absence of justice and recidivism supports a scientific approach. Yet, “science” prevails since it best fits the Darwinian paradigm for criminal management.
Wealth and poverty are next discussed on our journey through the dismal night of Darwinian conceptions; this section grasps at the work of big finance, eugenics (and though only indirectly mentioned, critical race theory) as resulting from utopianism, the world of advertising, architecture and the building of tomorrow’s world, all of the above are heavily affected by a materialistic world view born and bred from the Darwin mother. Multiple examples of precisely how Darwinism affects things as remotely as the design of a building or the focus of an advertisement are given by West. I believe that he succeeds in his argument.
The section on how Darwinism has affected education is fascinating. The establishment does NOT wish that you know how campus free speech has been stifled, and this is especially true of teaching students to grasp the controversy that still exists in Darwinian theory. Though it is a theory as leaky as a colander, educators feel that to suggest problems with the theory would be troubling to young minds, who would perhaps even dare consider an intelligent design alternative! How horrid that could be!!!!! Sex education and the new thinking on sex, including alternative sex forms, homosexuality, bestiality, transgenderism, pedophilia, and whatever sexual deviancy under the sun exists, is permissible, should we be in reality functional blobs generated by a few accidents in the primordial slime.
West then enters a section near and dear to my heart, having had to deal with it on a continuous basis, which entails matters of life and death. This issue involves not only abortion and pre-birth issues, but also euthanasia, various forms of assisted suicide, and every moment in between birth and death. As a surgical oncologist, I was surrounded by the possibility of death on a daily basis. Death will eventually happen to everyone, and the prolongation of the dying process can be as ethically evil as the acceleration of the dying process. As a physician, it was easy for me to identify those colleagues who had a low view of human life, with their callous disregard for the patient as a person. In the academic setting, the unnecessary prolongation of life in order to support the effectiveness of an experimental treatment plan, or perhaps in order to improve hospital statistics, or to increase federal reimbursements, was the norm and not an exception. But, this is a book review, so I will climb off of my soapbox. First, I’ll talk about abortion.
It seems bewildering that there would be perplexity as to when life begins. Such perplexity would not exist if it were the breeding of a racehorse or in the gestation of an endangered species embryo. So, what’s the trouble with the human embryo? There is trouble only when a superseding ideology fogs the cerebral function of the Darwinist. If humans really are the product of some incredulous events occurring in the primordial slime, then I guess it doesn’t matter how we treat each other. Odd that so many Darwinists demean humanity feeling that as humans represent the pinnacle of “evolution”, with the “evolving” of speech, superior intelligence, ingenuity, and creativity, these are all to be trashed in order to spare the lower forms of “evolution”. Stranger is the fact that only humans are sentient and able to appreciate the lower forms of beings that exist on planet earth. Beauty does not exist in the mind of an endangered yellow-legged frog as he glances at a flower-covered meadow, or foliose lichen growing on the side of a tree that overlooks a majestic mountain scene. Dr. West provides multiple examples of how the pundits of this age have excused the slaughter of the unborn, even the point of justifying the slaughter of younger children who have a Leben unlebenswertig secondary to some defect of the child, a defect in the parents, or a defect in the society that surrounds the child.
The chapter on death is a difficult one that I have troubled feelings about. The Shiavo and Cruzan cases are presented with discussion. These are two exceptional cases, both of which were mismanaged (in my estimation), and neither of which should set a precedent for medical ethics. The main point that West is trying to drive home is that the personal worth of the individuals Shiavo and Cruzan were devalued by those who saw that the termination of life was the most viable option for their care. Does this mean that virtually every effort must be extended in order to prolong life? Sadly, that sometimes also becomes the case; I mentioned above that the prolongation of death can be as immoral as the prolongation of life. In addition, the patient quality of life becomes a confounding issue that muddies any discussion. Respect for life remains of utmost consideration. In a world where the survival of the fittest selects out who shall live, the law of the jungle (West’s term) becomes the prevailing issue. Financial, social, personal, and other concerns rise to more value than the person in the medical “dock”.
West offers a succinct and well-written summary conclusion to his thesis, and it would have been the best chapter in his book had he not have added a later addendum. West lapses into a defense of intelligent design, an argument that hardly needs a defense owing to the weakness of all other explanations for our existence, save for perhaps the solipsistic argument.
The afterword, titled “Scientism in the Age of Obama—and Beyond” shows John West as a prophet of things to come. We now see “science” as defending any sort of nonsense and untruth imaginable. In my years as a doctoral student in the cell biology laboratory, I had many lectures on integrity in research. This was because the notable academies of science were finding evidence for a troubling huge instance of fraud in research. This was in the 1980s, and it is assuredly much worse in today’s world. Yet, fraud is a perfect example of Darwinianism in the performance of science. The publish or perish mentality of academics is simply another form of survival of the “fittest”. Before the onset of the Enlightenment, Theology was known as the Queen of the Sciences. Rather than being in competition with science, theology was the foundation for all science. Indeed, science did quite well as long as there was a theological basis for doing science. With theology stripped of its foundation place, we must not be surprised that the house of science is crumbling around us. West wrote this afterword before the advent of the Covid crisis, where “science” is being wistfully tossed about as the defense for any sort of government oppression, and the mega-media complex aggressively strips the population of free speech, all in the name of defending the edicts of those who call themselves scientists. West was able to see all of this coming a few years before it happened. But, prophets most often go without honor, and I don’t expect West to get the acclaim that he deserves. The best that can be done is for you to purchase this book and read it. It should be on the NY Times best-seller list.
My apologies to Dr. West for this book review being as much my personal commentary as being a straightforward review of the book. I’m sorry. Your text generated the vivid activity of my thoughts, and its thought-provoking nature forced for a very slow read. At the beginning of reading this text, my wife and I came down with Covid, which stalled any further reading for over a month. No, we were not hospitalized, but slept for 16-18 hours a day, and lost any resemblance of an appetite. After two weeks of that, we felt better, but I remained somewhat brain-numb for another month, keeping my reading activity at a very low priority. Now that my cognition and senses have returned, my favorite hobby (reading) is also returning slowly to pre-Covid levels. Thankfully, I did not succumb to “science” and still have a pulse and blood pressure with normal respirations and all body functions preserved, and can now boast natural immunity. And Fauci will be going somewhere very south of here; I pray for his soul as well as that of his hench-mate Francis Collins.
Welcome to the year 2022! I initially wished to summarize the year 2021, but then realized that my post “The Move” essentially accomplishes that. Today I encountered a very well-written critique of health care in the year 2021 by Paracelsus, which can be found here. My only criticism of this article is that it doesn’t go far enough. So, my blog site allows me to add all that I wish as I will now do. I strongly encourage you to first read the article by Paracelsus before reading this blog page. I noted a number of areas of concern that were not mentioned in the linked article, though I’m sure you all might add many more.
Loss of ethics I have written frequently about my concern that health care has totally lost its ethic, and I will not repeat what I have previously written. On the Feuchtblog.net site, one will find articles that I have written regarding physician assisted suicide and the abandonment of the Hippocratic Oath. Indeed, when I ask physicians as to what the Hippocratic Oath really means, I get nothing but jibberish. They don’t have a clue. Medical ethics has morphed into a creature from the Black Lagoon, something that destroys the meaning of medical ethics. If ethics means nothing more than a common consensus (and not transcendent law), then we are all doomed.
The purpose for hospitals The the 4th century, the Cappadocian fathers in central Turkey noted that the tradition in Roman culture was to put the sick and hopelessly infirm out into the woods to die, probably by being eaten by the wolves. They decided that a Christian solution was to reincoporate these people into society, and they provided the outcast what little healthcare there was, nurture, and community. Many of these folk died, but many survived. This was the start of hospital, springing out of monasteries, and providing to the sick perhaps nothing more than community and comfort in death’s hour. We’ve since removed hospitals from the monastery, and we’ve also removed the main objectives or purpose of the hospital from the hospital. Hospitals are now places where the sick go because they are a trouble to their family, where families are often forbidden to see their dying loved ones, where abandonment of the patient to a large impersonal system occurs.
Advertising in medicine-the commercialization of medicine Historically, it was considered unethical for a physician or a hospital to advertise. The American Medical Association stood strongly in opposition to physician advertising, that is, until the Supreme Court (sic!) in the 1970’s declared that the AMA was forbidden to forbid physician advertising. This opened up a can of worms. Physicians took to the airwaves and print. Hospitals everywhere, regardless of how incompetent they were, boasted of providing the best healthcare in the state, and drug companies promoted their latest elixers with elderly folk dancing across the boob tube, offering genuine lies regarding the miracles their latest, greatest, but unaffordable new potion. Medicine turned into a commercial industry, and agencies all the way up to the NIH lost their health care focus, and turned instead to profits as the highest good.
Research-blinded trust in science During my research years, Dr. DasGupta and Dr. Carl Cohen reminded me incessantly of the need for integrity in research. It indeed was a serious problem in the biological sciences world, the problem of fraud in research often being discussed by Nature or Science as critical issues, involving a large percentage of published papers. Since the 1980’s when I did my research, I can be reassurred that research fraud is more, and not less prominent. Publish or perish is a theme that has intensified in the academic and research world. Yet, we are asked to blindly “trust” science. Is fraudulence in research the reason why standard-of-care recommendations are so frequently changing? Is it why so often public experience doesn’t match the promises of treatment? Is it why prevailing paradigms are so hard to break, even when the paradigms don’t seem to fit reality, and that evidence contrary to the paradigms are soundly rejected simply because it offends the current paradigms?
The curse of statistics In the same vein as #4, statistics can be used even in valid research to support an illigitimate claim. I have seen it in cancer care, where a new, expensive but marginally better therapeutic drug (and often with significantly higher toxicity) becomes the standard of care norm. How do they do that? It’s all about how one does statistics, and (as the Paracelsus article above mentions), failure to present data focused on the individual survival benefit mislead the patient to the therapeutic benefits. If Big Pharma were forced to provide data which detailed the number of people required to treat in order to accomplish one favorable outcome, most drugs would go off the market as they would be rejected by patients as worthless. Big Pharma most often looks at surrogate outcomes, which are illegitimate in my book. As an example, statin drugs may lower cholesterol (surrogate effect) yet have minimal to no effect on actual deaths from hypercholesterolemia. True story. As an aside, in medical school, I had a community mentor (physician) who would be presented patients with unsolveable symptoms. His first action would be to stop all the medications that the patient was on. The physician noted that most patients would then proceed to get better. Statistics be damned; physicians are often making patients sicker.
The Flexner Report as a failure I am not promoting the Flexner report, as much evidence exists that it was an entire fraud. The Flexner report was produced early in the 20th century with the prolific rise of of medical schools in this country with widely divergent standards of training. The report was correct that many physicians lacked proper training and were devoid of any standard evidence of competence. The Flexner report attempted to provide some means of setting a standard of competence among physicians. I don’t have a complaint about that. My complaint is that our society has essentially trashed the impact of the Flexner report. We no longer require competence among many, and we have abandoned the used of the word “physician” and replaced it with “health care provider”. Nurse practitioners can now play doctor, and though they carry the word “doctor” after their name, it is from a mostly bogus “PhD” that they obtain by doing research substandard by any other standard, though legitimized by the nurse practitioner schools that now exist everywhere. Now, there are physician assistants which abound but who have very marginal training, yet serve the function of a physician in many settings. These extenders are offered standard of care flow charts that define their therapeutic agenda. Health care providers no longer think. Thinking, and personalized care has been thrown out the window.
Insurance debacle The insurance industry has a speckled history, starting as a means of providing for the most extreme emergencies in health care. After the insurance industry became self-focused, various physicians joined together to create the “Blues” system (Blue Cross and Blue Shield) to provide a more equitable system for the physician and the patient. Ultimately, what started as a protection against emergencies became the primary means of paying for health care. Costs meanwhile skyrocketed. In the 1950’s, the cost of a night in a hospital bed was commensurate with the cost of staying in a nice hotel room. Now, the cost of a night in the hospital would purchase an insanely luxurious and expensive hotel suite accompanied by servants and abundant frills. A week in the hospital without extraordinary care now will cost the price of an expensive Ferrari or a small home. Without the insurance industry operating as a giant Ponzi scheme, it is inconceivable that anybody could afford health care. I find it especially laughable when some argue about the importance of a free-market system. The free-market system was lost long ago to anybody but the most slickster physicians and a few of the independent family practice doctors. It is likely that independent (not-employed) physicians will soon become as plentiful roaming the earth as the Tyrannasaurus Rex. I realized when I first started a surgery practice that it was a joke establishing a fee for a service that I provided. I was told what I would be paid by the feds and by the insurance companies, who based their reimbursement in proportion to what Medicare paid. Private practice is nearly dead and in 10-20 years will be a historical novelty. The significance of this is that instead of receiving health care from a person, your health care is rendered by a corporation—a big, non-caring corporation whose corporate survival is more important than your survival.
Quacks Alternative health care has become a public reaction to the absence of trust in the health care community. During my tenure in a surgery practice, I have occasionally referred patients to chiropractors, and certainly feel that they are an important aspect of the health care community. These practitioners argue that they are scientifically based and are able to provide research papers justifying their practices, yet unbiased review by critical analysis shows weaknesses in the data that cannot be ignored. Because insurors will cover many alternative health costs, the pie of the health care dollar going to conventional medicine is greatly reduced. This might not be all bad, since conventional medicine has departed from its original objectives. Alternative care, regardless of the science, provides solutions that conventional medicine are unwilling or forbidden to explore, and is most fitting for certain types of diseases or as wonderful adjuncts for other diseases best treated in the conventional setting, such as cancer. Even still, alternative care has served as a confounding factor in rendering of health care, and mostly acts as a gadfly to conventional medicine in identifying how they have been deficient in providing true health care to their patients.
Legal issues The claim of the legal community is that lawyers are important in preserving the quality of health care. I would argue that the current malpractice environment massive drives up the cost of health care, while simultaneously driving down the quality of health care. This is a long discussion that I’ve discussed in detail in the past, though lost to the graveyard of digital ones and zeros. Suffice it to say that a true market system of health care would provide a much greater impetus for quality health care than the negative threat of a lawsuit.
I am most glad to be out of medicine, which now uses the euphemistic title “health care”. My arguments and those of Paracelsus indicate the loss of the system that once provided real (though sometimes ineffective) care of a patient. I would far rather die in the personal domain of a family, or on a mountain top, than to die in the sterility of a hospital with masked and gowned, over-worked and (often) under-caring physicians and nurses who provide for formulaic treatments of the signs and symptoms that my body happens to be expressing at the moment. Such repulsion of the health care system causes me to seek health care as minimally as possible, and to be as terse as possible when in the health care domain. As Paracelsus noted, the current COVID “crisis” serves to make clear how healthcare has degenerated into the impersonal beast, a henchman of the state, that does not serve the patient’s best interest. Though we can’t live without the healthcare community, it is becoming harder and harder to live with the health care community.
How to Exasperate Your Wife, and Other Short Essays for Men, by Douglas (Gashma) Wilson ★
This is the third or fourth book of Douglas (Gashma) Wilson that I’ve read. None of the previous books deserved more than a single star. This book fits into the single-star category. The reason might be explained in his YouTube persona. I have never met Pope Gashma in real life, but on the YouTube scene, he is presented as a wizened professor who is barraged by questions from a fawning and adulating mass of followers, and his words are spoken as Gospel truth, or, at least as legitimate as the Pope’s words when he speaks ex-cathedra. The questioner, who is usually a relative or close disciple of his, sits obediently in the worship of the sayings of Pope Gashma. I don’t disagree with many things that Gashma may say, but his thought processes and often non-sequetor conclusions drive me nuts. Gashma has been wonderful at standing up against the Woke movement in the church. Yet, he has a very restrictive theology of Reconstruction/Dominion which is inconsistent even among those who advocate strongly for that brand of theology.
This text is intended to be a marriage counsel text. The first half of the book relates to personal relational issues. The second half relates to issues of sexual concern. The first half contains inane, vacuous advice for inter-personal relations in marriage. It doesn’t seem to be helpful beyond that of advice any secular counselor might offer for getting along with another person. The second half mostly deals with men dealing with sexual lust, but doesn’t really give helpful advice, and never is it actually helpful sexual advice. Better to have read Ed Wheat or a number of other Christian sexual advisors than to have read Gashma.
This book was written by a “pastor” who has been in the trade for over 30 years. Thus, you’d expect mature reflections on a deeper conjugal relationship, but instead, you get trite advice and poor attempts to occasionally interject humor. There are no acknowledgments that Gashma has occasionally made serious counseling mistakes (Stitler and Wight are the top examples), yet Gashma never has the humility to admit that oftentimes wedded issues can be quite vexing without good answers and that mistakes will be made. I view the book as perhaps an attempt to gloss over his sometimes distorted paternalism while claiming that he is NOT a macho man, and certainly NOT a producer of toxic masculinity. He is.
There are much better books written from a Biblical perspective on marriage and the marriage relationship. Don’t waste your time on this book.
Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design, by Gundry, Stump, Ham Ross, Haarsma, and Meyer ★★★★
I interrupted the reading of another book to read this book, as it had just arrived from Amazon. The other book, Darwin Day in America by John West is a book most needed to be written and read by many, and describes the consequences on society of a Darwinian Weltanschauung. I will be reviewing West’s book later, but will suggest that I’d probably give it more than 5 stars if I could. This current book was read as a step back, since its been at least 10 years since I’ve read any texts discussing the controversies of creation and evolution. My interest in intelligent design came in the early 1990’s from the appearance of Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial, and has led me to have an Intelligent Design (ID) bias.
I’ve always appreciated the “4 views” texts, since they offer a discussion in a fair format for letting different views briefly present themselves. It’s weakness is that no view is able to develop itself fully, or defend itself fully. Yet, as this book demonstrates, it gives you a nice flavor of 4 different positions on Creation interacting with each other, and thus of value.
Ken Ham is a young earth creationist. He presents a mostly Biblical argument, supplemented here and there with scientific evidence, that supports a 7 day creation. I have deep sympathies for Ham’s thesis. My main disagreements include the fuzziness found in the Biblical creation language. As an example, Hebrew scholars are unsure as to whether Genesis 1:1-2 is a summary preface leading to the historical account of creation starting in Genesis 1:3, or whether the first two verses of Genesis are a part of that historical framework. I tend to side with the later view, though I won’t discuss the many reasons why I tend to lean that way. It is possible that the world was created with age, as Ham attests. Is that what God actually did? Only time will tell; hopefully, God fills us in on the details in the afterlife.
Hugh Ross has always been appreciated by me, as he writes well. He presents the old-earth view. He does not do an exegetical survey of Biblical creation passages in this argument, but mostly engages in the scientific rationale for his beliefs. The rebuttals were weak, though Stephen Meyer (ID defender) admitted that he had an old-earth leaning, and so had little to rebut.
Deborah Haarsma argued for a theistic evolution stance. Her arguments were quite flimsy when offering a scientific defense of her position. Her Biblical defense was even more flimsy. I believe that Meyer as well as Ross and Ham could have taken her to task much more than they did. Haarsma wishes to have her cake and eat it too. Evolution is unguided mutations leading to advanced biological life forms that God created by not guiding their evolution. Hmmmm. It’s a position that cannot be rebutted because it doesn’t make sense. What role DID God play in the formation of man? The position also leaves one very unsettled with the early Genesis narratives, especially with Adam and Eve.
Stephen Meyer offers the intelligent design arguments. Intelligent Design doesn’t fit the above categories, since it also assumes that you already have a position on young earth/old earth/theistic evolution, and indeed, members of all three of those camps live under the ID tent. ID doesn’t try to render a description for how creation happened, as God never gave us those details. Instead, it seems to be more of a negative argument, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt the impossibility of unguided mutations leading to structures. ID actually does more than that, showing that even step-wise mutations would (in the case of complex machines like the flagella) demand thousands of correct simultaneous mutations for that structure to happen. You never see “loose parts” laying around awaiting a future function in a future biological machine. The main counterarguments from the young and old earth camp was that Stephen Meyer didn’t quote enough Scripture. This argument is specious, in that the discussion was NOT to establish the Scriptural grounds for a particular position. In the context of Scripture, ID tends to be strong and without need for defense. This is probably why the young and old earthers rely so much on the literature coming out of the ID camp.
Imagine the complexity of mutations leading to development of new organisms. Based on science, there is no precedent. We just don’t see that happening. Imagine if an organism had a mutation which rendered it superior in survival. This mutation must have had happened in either the gametes that came together, or immediately after the one cell organism came into existence before its first division. After the gonads are developed (which is fairly early in the embryological scheme of things), any further mutations will perhaps benefit the host but not its progeny. So, possible mutations in a species can happen only for a short period of time with a few cells. All other mutations will NOT be passed on to progeny. This means that Carl Sagan’s billions and billions of years are actually seriously reduced. In addition, the mutation cannot run through a “trial” to see if it is beneficial before being transmitted to another organism. Yet, there are other issues. Most genes are not dominant but recessive. This multiplies the problem since then, the mutation will need to have happened twice in exactly the same spot in order for the trait to be manifested. True, the genome has “hot spots” where mutations are more likely to occur. This might seem as a favorable trait for evolutionists, but it is just the opposite, since mutations are not necessarily as free to happen anywhere and everywhere in the genome. I don’t believe that the theistic evolutionists have adequately accounted for all the hurdles that need to be overcome, as it’s not good enough JUST for mutations to happening, even if they are favorable mutations. What about the time argument? All it takes is sufficient time, and anything could happen. In a purely materialistic universe, anything could happen. The entire world could have just come into existence 30 seconds ago, and this chance pop into existence could have born collective memory that misleads us into thinking that we had a history. Hey, if time and chance can explain the current universe, then it could explain anything. The multi-verse diversion (and it is nothing but a diversion) is an admission that there just isn’t enough time. In essence, all the multi-verse theory does is to contribute more time (though happening simultaneous with the current moment) to the equation. I guess that with enough time, even a universe like us filled with Donald and Daisy Ducks could (and will!!!!) eventually occur. All it takes is time and chance and every possible imaginative universe will eventually occur. When an answer actually explains too much, then the answer has failed. That’s my two cents worth, but not covered in the book.
Is this book worth reading? Maybe… It depends on where you are in the Creation debate. If you are new to the debate, just get a book by Ham, Ross and Meyer. I leave out Haarsma because I am still waiting for a credible argument for her position. Read the books, then read the 4 views debate and form your own opinion. My personal opinion is that either a young or old earth position can be true, ID supplements my belief in a theistic creation position, while ID tends to distract me from the theistic evolution position as being weak both scientifically and theological. Hier stehe ich!
By now, most of our friends are aware that Betsy and I have moved to Spokane Valley from our home in Puyallup, WA. We are frequently asked as to why we moved, and as to why we chose to move to Spokane Valley. The easiest way to explain the situation is to run through the history of the move, beginning in early June.
June of 2021 brought some interesting challenges to Betsy and me. I had determined to take off for 4-6 more weeks to get in more miles of the PCT. I was going to resume the hike from two years ago at Walker Pass, and seek to get as many miles as possible for me. The challenges were mounting, as the temperature throughout the west coast was much higher than normal and water was going to be an ever-present concern, especially for the first 40 miles, before I reached the high Sierra. So, with great enthusiasm, I hopped on the Amtrak train and headed out to Bakersfield. When the train reached Klamath Falls, the conductor announced that a fire in northern California had engulfed the tracks and burned out a trestle, so we had to turn back. Talk about popping a balloon! Months of training and no way to reasonably get to the trailhead in the time that my permit allowed. So, I did a short backpack with Sam Flanagan, and sulked. I made a number of suggestions for adventures with Betsy (my best friend… also my wife) but received the same answer back every time. “If we leave now the flowers will die, the garden will die, the grass will die”. “We can’t leave our home!”. Mein Gott!!!!!! Betsy and I both realized that we were prisoners of our home. As our frustration fulminated, we slowly began to think of an idea that had been mulling for about a year now that we were retired. Why don’t we move?
Move? To where? And under what conditions? Clearly, we needed a set of criteria for deciding the conditions under which we would move. It was at this time that Betsy and I learned that our kid brother Gaylon was going to move to Ocala, Florida. Soon after that, my (nearly twin) brother Lew announced that he was flying with his wife Carol to Ocala to possibly lay money down on a new home in the 55+ community called On Top of the World (OTOW). That sounded exciting but Betsy and I weren’t really sure that it would be our style. We lived for two years in Biloxi, MS, and had been to Florida a few times, so weren’t quite as snared by the enchantments of Florida.
Meanwhile, we met with a realtor that we had known from church for 5-10 years, and she felt that we could get good value for our home, but that we needed to reduce the clutter before it would be most marketable. For me, this meant boxing up much of our stuff and getting rid of bad furniture and stuff that was really nothing but junk. Multiple trips to the junkyard were experienced. The stuff of ours that we knew we needed to liquidate but was of high value were distributed among our children in the Washington State area. In the meantime, our refrigerator died, and our microwave went on the blink. We had already ordered nice replacements before we anticipated selling our house. As the time came nearer to having the house on the market, there became a problem of fitting the new microwave into the existing space of the old microwave. We purchased the appliances from Wiers (an awesome company), but the installer, young and enthusiastic but inexperienced dude did a horrid job on the installation. In a last-ditch frantic move, Weirs sent out an experienced installer and with some makeshift solutions, ended up with an attractive installation. We needed our shower glass replaced, and the upstairs bedroom rugs replaced. The bedroom rugs ultimately ended up being replaced after the fact. Meanwhile, we spent the full month of July and half of August doing nothing but packing, working on the house, and preparing the house for a sale.
But, where were we going to move? Options abounded. Should we stay in Puyallup? Should we move to Ocala? Belize? We seriously considered many options. The first option that seemed reasonable was to move to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, close to Rachel. Rachel naturally wanted us to move across the street from her in a retirement facility. For various reasons, this did not click with us. We looked intensely at which states are good states to retire in, and the list was somewhat short, the ones for us being South Dakota, Florida, Nevada, Texas, and Idaho. Washington actually is NOT a bad state to retire in. They do not have inheritance and other death taxes. Iowa actually was quite low on the list of states that were favorable retirement states. We looked for 55+ communities in South Dakota, of which there were none. We looked for both houses and apartments, as well as what the Sioux Falls community would be like. We were ever so close to purchasing plane tickets to Sioux Falls when the words of my father became loud and clear to me. Our family moved from the midwest to California in 1962 because dad was totally sick of the winters. He had to get out of the midwest. Then, I looked at what old folk in Iowa and South Dakota do in winter. They sunbird to Texas or Florida. I had NO interest in sunbird-ing. So, the Sioux Falls, South Dakota option died quickly. Florida came up next. We examined both retirement communities as well as houses/apartments outside of the 55+ environment. I concluded that Lakeland, Florida would probably be my first choice. There were no choice retirement communities in that area, but there were nice apartments to accommodate us. It was at this point that I realized that the highest elevation in Florida was about 345 feet above sea level, but most of southern Florida barely achieves 50 feet elevation. There were no mountains in Florida. There were not even any hills. Florida was flat and I needed mountains. It just wasn’t the right fit for us.
Texas became a consideration. At this time, we were still thinking of 55+ communities. San Antonio and Austin had some nice options, but something wasn’t clicking with us. We looked hard at Arizona, both in the Prescott area as well as in the greater Phoenix/Maricopa County area. Slowly, the idea of living in a 55+ community with nothing but a bunch of old farts just didn’t appeal to me. We couldn’t do it. But, we realized that Las Vegas had many 55+ community options as well as apartments. Las Vegas seemed like a hyper-sleazy town, but we broke down and went to visit it. This was at the same time as our house was going on the market, so when we returned, we would learn as to whether the house sold or not. Betsy and I were both pleasantly pleased with Las Vegas. Outside of the strip and North Las Vegas, it had a nice feel similar to that of Phoenix or Scottsdale. There were mountains which were beautiful. Nevada was an inexpensive, low-tax state. It all seemed like the right choice, and we located several apartments that we thought would be perfect for us. But, the last day, after we had viewed several apartments, we took a drive out to Hoover dam. It was an impressive facility, but we noted that the level of water in Lake Mead was half of what it should be. The southwest was running out of water! We still had a level of unease about the whole prospect of moving to Las Vegas, though we both were thoroughly impressed with the area and the possible accommodations. Our two conclusions in Las Vegas were that we truly did NOT want to live in a 55+ community and that we really weren’t ready to immediately purchase another home. As the trauma of selling a home became more intense, it only strengthened our resolve to stay in an apartment for a while until we could see more clearly what we should do.
On the plane flight back from Las Vegas, we discussed the possibility of putting down the money for the apartment we liked most in Las Vegas, but I then suggested that perhaps we should check out Spokane. As an aside, two other areas were under consideration. The first was various places in Idaho, but those thoughts were squelched by several issues: 1. Betsy did not wish to live in a remote location, 2. Housing prices were insane, especially in Northern Idaho, which was being bought up by Cafilornians. 3. The Boise area had low appeal to both Betsy and me. The other area under consideration for me was the Reno, Nevada area. I would have loved this area, but Betsy did not agree with my assessment, so Reno was tabled.
Two other issues were of concern for Betsy and me. The first is that we were concerned about finding a good church where we moved. Hopefully, this church would be a church of the Reformed persuasion. There was a PCA church in Las Vegas that Betsy and I attended for the Sunday we were there, but we really didn’t care for it. There was something just not right about it. We knew that there was a CREC church in Spokane, though we weren’t sure whether the Doug Wilson influence would so heavily prevail over the church as to make it an uncomfortable situation for us. I love the fact that Doug Wilson has held his ground against liberalism. I detest that Doug Wilson has what seems to be an obnoxious, confronting personality. The other issue was that of being able to easily travel, especially with a mind toward seeing grandchildren. Both Las Vegas and Spokane seemed to fit that bill with good airports, as Spokane had regular flights to many of the major cities in the western US, and to get to Rachel in Iowa would be easy, as well as the 5-hour drive to western Washington would be to see Jon, Sarah, or Diane.
Arriving home from Las Vegas, we learned that we had an acceptable offer on our home. This put much greater pressure on us to find a place to move to. The inspection report was borderline insane. Often there was no correlation with reality, and often the defects were so poorly defined as to be meaningless. Otherwise, the report requested items like cleaning out the rain gutters which had almost nothing in them. Though I was borderline furious at the inspector and ready to report him to the state, it was explained that this was just the norm for the real estate market. It really should be named the fake estate market, because that’s what it is. Using the realtor’s husband (whom I knew well) we were able to accomplish the various repairs in order to get the house acceptable to the buyer. In the tense days between the offer and final closure on the sale, Betsy and I took an overnight trip to Spokane to see several apartments. The apartments all seemed quite nice but we located one that we especially liked and made an offer on it that day. Soon afterward, our house closed and we were moving.
We left our home a week before the formal closure. My brother Gaylon drove up from Vancouver, WA, and was able to help us load a 20′ UHaul and get everything moved in a single load. Amazingly, Gaylon was able to fill every square inch of space in that truck, we were filled to the brim, barely shutting the truck door with all of our stuff. Sarah and her dear family were able to meet us in Spokane and help unload the truck so that it could be returned to UHaul. A final trip by me back to Puyallup and a meeting with the realtor left us to say our last goodbyes. A large sum of money was soon identified in our banking account.
In Spokane Valley, we now had to create a home. The first chore was to discover the community that we were living in. There was a trail 10 minutes walking distance from our home which followed the Spokane River from Couer d’Alene to past Spokane. Betsy and I took off twice, first walking east toward Idaho, and then walking west toward Spokane. The trail was nicely kept up. Later, I was able to bicycle up to Coeur d’Alene and another day bicycle into Spokane to the Expo ’74 grounds. It was easy to see that cycling was a very acceptable activity in this community, and the potential for going much further afield was there. There are also an abundance of hiking trails in the vicinity. Closer to home, the apartment complex had a pool which we were able to use several times before settling in for the winter. There is a limited exercise facility in the complex which I’ve been able to use at least several times a week. Betsy also signed up for the YMCA, which is only several miles away. There is a shopping mall in the vicinity of our neighborhood, which we recently ventured into. It is big and beautiful, with more shops than appeared on the outside. Indeed, all the shopping, restaurants, and other amenities that we had in Puyallup are also close, but without the devilish traffic issues of Puyallup.
Getting all of our boxes unpacked has been a month-long plus ordeal. Thankfully, nothing was broken, and only several items remain unlocated. We discovered that we simply had way too much stuff. Did we need an extra set of dishes (which we never used anyway) for special occasions? Did we need 20+ wine glasses? Did we need 7-8 cookie pans? The list could go on and on, not only in the kitchen but for every room of the house. Truth be told, it has been a cathartic and wonderful feeling to get rid of all of your junk. We gave away much furniture that we knew would not be necessary after the move, but there was much furniture that we actually needed, mostly for efficient storage. We needed some bookshelves, pantry shelves, a tv stand, and various types of dressers and armoires. All of these arrived by Federal Express in very heavy boxes and demanded hours to assemble. Assembly was easy but took up much time. Once pictures were replaced on the wall and my cuckoo clock hung, it finally began to feel like home again.
Another issue was that of getting reconnected to the world. Betsy and I decided to drop our landline telephone and were able to maintain contact with the outside world with our trusty iPhones. Our only choice for internet connection was through Xfinity (Comcast) which I truly did not like. We did not sign up for extra sewage to come across our cable lines but were able to get our entertainment system rewired, which included a connection via an Apple computer to the broader internet. Lastly, I determined to start up my blog page. Hours and multiple evenings were spent trying to resolve the bugs. I decided to off-load my page to an internet service, which is relatively inexpensive, yet provided a little more protection against data loss. Sad to say, but I had to finally conclude that somehow I lost my entire webpage contents from the past 15 or more years. I’m sure the CIA has it stored somewhere in their vaults in Utah, but I’m not going to bother them to get it back.
The future now sits before us. This weekend will be our first trip back to Puyallup since leaving. We’ll be attending the funeral of a dear friend of ours, Delores Tulfo. We will also be seeing family at the Puyallup Oktoberfest where a friend of mine (Lyle Schaefer) will be performing with his polka band. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to see Dr. Peters as well as to make it to church. In the coming weeks, I will be helping Gaylon move to Ocala, Florida. We will combine that with a trip to Iowa to see Rachel, and will probably report that trip as a single blog entry.
On the home front, we still have many chores. We are still waiting for newly purchased furniture to be delivered, in order to complete the assembly of our home. We would like to get to know our neighbors better. We would like to develop a much stronger relationship with a church. We attended the Christ Church in Spokane and liked it, though there will be much that we will need to get used to. They take pride in their music, though I consider it to be strange, and could be of a much higher quality. The preaching is good. The church seems to attract those with a very specific mindset that is a bit foreign to our thinking, such as them wondering why we are doing what we are doing by moving to Spokane. I haven’t seen much with men’s activities, and the ladies’ activities center around crafts which doesn’t catch Betsy at all. Perhaps it is the church still emerging from the Wuhan virus era. Perhaps. The greatest draw of the church is that it has not given in to the liberalism that is destroying most churches in America. It would be easy for us to adapt to any church including a Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic, or generic church, though our heart merges most with those who hold a Reformed theological mindset and where God is truly honored and the Scriptures truly honored.
Winter is setting in, and we haven’t lived for over 30 years in an area where it assuredly snows every winter. Will I take up cross country skiing again? Snow-shoeing? Do I dare ride my mountain bike in the snow, like many do around here? What about the PCT? Can I possibly resume the hike next year? Can I resume at Walker Pass like I intended to do this year? Will I be able to get to know the trails in this area? Idaho has much beautiful backpacking opportunities, but how will I go about getting to know the trails? Will there be backpacking folk interested in joining me? Will Betsy adapt to the area? Will we be able to find activities that we enjoy doing together? Only time will tell. At this point, we are completely happy and content with the decision we made to move to Spokane. We have no clue as to whether we’ll stay here or move on. We are happy that we don’t have the restraining ties of a home to limit our options. Maybe we’ll end up in the flatlands of Florida with a purchased home? Maybe we’ll end up back in western Washington? Only God knows.
One of the last entries of my now deleted and forever vanished webpage was an essay on orthocogy. Since a few people have asked me about this word, it will be one of the blog entry sites that I will attempt to reconstruct.
Orthocogy is a word that I had made up, but is necessary for the English language. It is a composite construction with the first part “ortho” designating that which is true, right, or correct, and “cogy” is from the latin “cogitare” (to think). Thus, orthocogy is the art and practice of thinking correctly. It is intended to complement the words “orthodoxy” – to believe correctly (connoting the correct/true content of one’s believes) and “orthopraxy” – to behave and act properly. Thus is formed a triad of thinking, believing and acting well.
It was Scripture that first clued me to the need for another word in the English language. In Mark 4, Jesus tells the parable of the sower, and he was later queried by his disciples as to the meaning of the parable. His answer was quite interesting. “And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” This suggests that right thinking would have allowed the disciples to grasp the meaning of this and other parables. If Scripture did not record an interpretation, it is interesting to speculate as to how various factions of Christianity would have dealt with this parable. I doubt that none of them would have gotten it completely correct.
There are other Scripture passages that provide an equal challenge, and the reader is often left wondering as to how a consistent theology or ethic would be formed with the passage under consideration. Take for instance the parable of the unjust steward, where a steward in the process of being fired by his boss for dishonest dealings works some shady business with his bosses’ clientele. In the process, Jesus’ assessment is stated in Luke 16:8,9, “The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” Clearly Jesus is suggesting that the disciples develop the ability to think through situations and deal wisely with the circumstances at hand.
Orthocogy could simply be called wisdom. The word in Greek is sophia, but the Hebrew word hokmah (חוכמה) tends to have a broader meaning with implications as to general survival in life, including skills, artistic abilities and craftsmanship as well as shrewdness and craftiness in thinking.
So often, the wisdom literature seems to contradict the writings of other Scripture. How often has one questioned statements in the Proverbs or Ecclesiastes as to their ethical correctness? How often has one pondered how the wisdom of the book of James fits in with the doctrines of Romans? A clear-thinking, orthocog person should not have a problem with the wisdom literature, yet how often we need the wisdom literature to allow us training in orthocogy! It is often that the higher institutions of learning best remove us from being able to think with orthocogy.
Make no mistake, orthodoxy and orthocogy are not the same. How often have one seen people of strong faith sometimes make the stupidest decisions? How often do you see the academic scholars of the seminaries make the most foolish political or social judgments? How often has one seen personal heroes of the faith in their worst moments owing to a fogginess in their thinking and inability to act in an orthcog fashion? The most bitter fighting among the most academically respected Reformed scholars leaves me baffled but demonstrates how people could be so orthodox and yet lack orthocogy. For examples, think about Luther’s battles with the Calvinists over the substance of the eucharist, or VanTil’s treatment of Gordon Clark, or Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ treatment of JI Packer, or the general PCA witch trial of Peter Leithart. Politically, I think of Machen’s strange love for Woodrow Wilson, or Doug Wilson’s most obfuscated thinking about Donald Trump. The list could be far lengthier, but I think I’ve made my point.
Orthocogy is a difficult trait to specifically identify, but manifests itself with how well a person is able to conduct himself in the art of living. Orthocogy cannot be measured. It is like humility; the person that claims to have humility is precisely the person that is NOT humble. A person that boasts the ability to think well similarly must be viewed with deep suspicion.
Proverbs entreats us to seek wisdom. Orthocogy is a trait that is acquired with time and diligence. Like the rest of the triad, orthocogy must (of necessity) be in partnership with orthodoxy and orthopraxy. True, there are godless men who possess orthocogy, yet for the Christian man, right doctrine and ethical practice must be simultaneous with right thinking. May we all acquire wisdom, and may we all have a proper balance of good thinking, good beliefs, and good behavior.
Hellstorm: The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947, by Thomas Goodrich ★★★★★
This is one of the most challenging books that I’ve read in a long time. It was difficult to speed through the chapters of this book. Each page held the earnest reader in grief and thoughtful reflection of the events of Germany at the end of the war* and the years that follow. This is not a revisionary history of the war; it doesn’t deny the holocaust or wholesale murder of “innocent” Jews. It doesn’t attempt to make the Nazis look nice or ameliorate the evil that they performed. But, it does add another layer to the evils of the war. There is a popular meme that has gone around (attempting to make a joke of the Nazis) with a Nazi soldier asking the question, “Are we the baddies?”. This book helps one to understand that when history is examined critically, it might be hard to know who really was the worst “baddie”. Perhaps the allies were the most morally culpable, explaining why we are now seeing God’s judgment on western civilization. The beauty of this book is that it is compiled of eye-witness accounts of each of the particular situations that Goodrich describes in this book. Thus, the only agenda is the attempt to give an account of the end of the war which also includes the perspective of those of German descent scattered throughout Europe.
Goodrich begins his war accounts with the firebombing of Hamburg. On July 24, 1943, long before Germany had committed any indiscriminate bombing of England, the British engaged in a massive firebombing attack on Hamburg. Before then, targets were selected (especially by Germany) as having military concern, and sparing the general civilian population. Now, the situation had changed, and an attempt to demoralize the general population through attacks on the entirety of Germany, the German public received the most hellish conditions describable to man. The toll of human suffering, of women and children, the elderly and infirm, and even foreigners who were held prisoner or otherwise detained in Hamburg were victims. It is easy to talk about firebombings, but to experience such a thing defies words, where the heat of the attack rises above 1000’s of degrees melting all in the vicinity, where the oxygen is sucked out of air letting victims suffocate should they escape the heat, and where massive windstorms then are generated by the atmospheric conditions. Eye-witnesses describe the horrors of such an event, which sadly the blind eyes of the attackers remain ignorant of. The Allied motives for such attacks were clear, in that their hatred for “Germans” had no bounds (though ignoring the fact that the British King was German!). Churchill and Eisenhower both had an unrelenting hatred for anything German and were not shy in openly admitting this, as is documented well in this book. Thus, it wasn’t the German militia or the Nazis who were the enemy, but the very German people.
The bombing of Berlin was a prolonged matter, as each square inch of the capital of Germany was bombed not just once or twice, but repeatedly, week to month on end, and long after there were no longer any standing buildings or structures. How people survived the bombings and continue to occupy the capital is a mystery.
A greater fire-bombing tragedy was brought out later in the book and was popularized by Kurt Vonnegut, the bombing of Dresden. This time the fire-bombings occurred days on end, and at a time when there was absolutely no strategic advantage to be gained. Indeed, there were large populations of American prisoners of war in Dresden who were also participants in receiving the wrath of Churchill and Roosevelt. Countless artworks and historical works were destroyed in the process. Dresden was not a military city and the west knew that. It was purely an act of blind vengeance and vengeance that someday would be returned on the English-speaking peoples of the world.
While the west was delivering its typical version of hell on the German people, the eastern front saw the Russian hordes pushing back the retreating German front. For the last 700 years the German people have been migrating eastward, much from the invitation of the Russian czar. Now, these ethnic Germans were caught in a life-and-death struggle. The Russians saw these people as no different from the invading Nazis and treated them no differently, even though they were entirely innocent of the sins of the homeland. The millions of ethnic Germans were now being displaced from their traditional homelands. Much of this was entirely supported and financed by the west, through agreements between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt.
The treatment of the displaced German people were as immoral and ruthless as describable. Many were shot point-blank, though that was usually too kind, and prolonged torture was more fitting to the Russian mindset. Women of all ages, from 8 to 80 and beyond, were raped, oftentimes abusing a young woman 20-30 times in a night. Those left to live were stripped of all of their possessions and typically died of starvation. All of this happened under the knowing eyes of Churchill and Eisenhower, who offered no appeals for restraint. Refuges from the east came under attack, and oftentimes the attack was from the west, when the Brits and US Air Force bombed boats in the North Sea which were known to contain only refugees fleeing from Russian hands.
Many military deaths occurred not only from the enemy, but from comrades, and this was true for Germany and even more so for Russia. The Germans wished so slow down the retreat back to Germany, and positioned SS troops behind the front to arrest and often to execute those moving in retreat. Oftentimes, innocent people like messengers moving back and forth from the front became the victim of these SS police. What the Germans did, the Russians did with a far greater degree, numbering perhaps even into the millions, of soldiers who were stalled or moving backward, or soldiers who were suspected of having been captured by the enemy; all experienced the same fate of death at the hands of a firing squad.
The end of the war should have been the end of suffering, yet for many, matters only became worse. This was true both from the west and from the east. Though both the American army and German army had violations of the Geneva convention for treating prisoners of war, Germany did its best to hold to the treaty. Contrary, the facts of the matter and statements from Eisenhower demonstrate a complete indifference toward adhering to agreed-upon conventions. The Nazi interrogators are oftentimes made the brunt of war movies, yet the behavior of the Americans and British after the war, in well-documented instances, make the Germans appear as school children. Starving women were turned into sex slaves for the teenaged American soldiers. The only glimmer of good behavior came from the frequent protests of the Red Cross, and the tireless and selfless work of the Salvation Army. The western allies have not a shred of moral superiority over their German brothers.
It is also noted that the suffering in the east was also in the extreme. The flow of immigrants to the west was greeted by the extreme savagery of the Russian soldiers. Typically, the front-line soldiers would pass through quickly, then the second wave of Russian soldiers coming through would engage in looting, raping, and pillaging in extreme order. Few women were left virginal. Nobody was left unharmed. Following the war, the Polish population then began to take vengeance on the German population that had done them no harm. If there ever was a situation of extreme genocide, it was to the Germans in Russia, Poland, and the Slavic countries. It is said that more citizens perished after the war than during. As an American population, we are quick to divest ourselves of this moral responsibility, yet that is not the case. Goodrich emphasizes time and again how the agreements between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt were such that all the players were responsible for what Stalin did. It is like how we would treat a mob boss who commissioned an underling to perform a “hit” job. Both the underling and the boss would be equally morally charged. Such is true of Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt.
Goodrich details in the last chapter what has been considered the crime of the age, the treatment by the USA and Great Britain in their now vanquished foe. Revenge and vengeance were the themes. This was especially true of the Jews and their bitter spirit of revenge, which persists to this day. It is challenging to make a final assessment as to which nation held the moral superiority. Too often the Nazis behaved better than the Americans. When General Harris of the British Air Force was questioned as to the inhuman savagery of his bombing of Dresden, his reply was that he was only following orders. Seems like a few Nazis also offered that alibi.
Goodrich offers an epilogue that was quite moving. Germany began to rebuild, and in the absence of men, it became the duty of many women to clean up the streets and rebuild the cities. The Allies realized the Soviet threat that was now building and understood that the recovery of Germany would be in their own personal best interest. A German public that could have been justifiably revengeful chose instead the motto “Forget the past, only the future counts”. Meanwhile, their conquerors from the other side of the pond maintained the motto…
They got exactly what they deserved. We felt we were fighting an inhuman philosophy We became a force of retribution I always said that the only good German was a dead one and I still say that!
Goodrich completes the book by requesting the reader to engage in a sobering reflection as to who really held the moral high ground in World War 2. Certainly, one is left with no doubt that the USA or Great Britain cannot make that claim. This is not historical revisionism. This book calls for the act of truly grasping the moral depravity of all sides in the second world war. By not grasping this lesson, the USA is now falling prey to the eventual judgments that will result. I shudder to imagine that someday the US population might receive the same brutalities that we blithely administered to Germany. Pray that God be merciful.
*I use the word “war” in the singular as I consider World War I and World War II as the same (though second) 30 years war that haunted Germany. It was the very poor decisions and attitudes of the west toward Germany after WWI which made WWII inevitable. After both wars, the west’s inability to acknowledge equal responsibility for the war has made the west the more morally culpable for the carnage that resulted.