“Dominus Illuminatio Mea”

Most of us go about our lives hearing the same comments uttered over and over again. They may be as vastly different as saying, “Good day?” or, “How are you?” but highlight the same idea. There are quite the mottoes of the world, however, without warning or calculation, like a bolt from a blue sky, we hear the crunch of the camel’s back. We throw up our hands and say the obvious, “That was too much.” As for me, there are two instances which, without them, I would have perhaps never written this post.

First, almost a year ago, I was sitting on the floor of my friend’s flat in Oxfordshire. We were talking about her dinner at Trinity College, Oxford, when she said, “Oh, yes. We had an interesting discussion with one of the students over dinner.” Being herself asked, “What college are you from,” she replied and confessed it was a christian college no one has really heard of.
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To her frustration the questioner replied, “I prefer colleges that separate religion and education because they are free to focus on academics and so provide a better education.”

I remember leaning back against my hands and asking, “Does she know where she is eating? Does she know the motto of Oxford University?”

The second instance happened today during Highschool Sunday service. I was there submitting some paperwork and observing the other youth workers. About halfway through a highschool girl was brought to the front to discuss her experiences in how we can be more than a fan of Christ by not participating in a relationship which demands no sacrifices. Straddling  what appeared to be the edge of grief, she told how her highschool requires her to take an English class which covers the Bible. The teacher is openly gay and continually, along with other students, mocks the Bible. She concluded with saying that her and her friend, the two Christians in the class, had to respond by telling their teacher and their classmates, “Mocking the Bible is offensive to our religion.”

I believe we’ve made two big mistakes. First, we have bought the idea that allowing people to mock the Bible is in some way a Christian Virtue. Chesterton made a wonderful remark about the lion laying with the lamb. We have often interpreted this verse to mean that either the lamb will become ferocious as the lion – as to create a peace between power – or that the lion will become as calm as the lamb; The lion will transcend his nature and embrace lamb-ness. The Bible is much wilder than that. The lion, in all its ferociousness, will lay down with the lamb, in all its peacefulness.  We are to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent and doves.

Second, those who mock the Bible have spun a narrative which says, more or less, that Christianity was a Cosmic accident adopted by idiots who couldn’t tell you the difference between their left and right hand. While most of us do not accept this view openly, many of us have become as silent as the grave. This narrative is so preposterous and feeble it’s almost difficult to know where to begin. But to keep this post short, I’ll simply list a few universities of almost universal respect, which I believe, if not prove my point, should at least be enough for us to reconsider the narrative that, “Christianity hinders academics and is a guide for the idiot.”

1) Oxford University’s motto is Dominus illuminatio mea and is Latin for “The lord is my light” – a quote from Psalm 27:1.

2) Harvard University’s motto, now Veritas, was formerly Veritas Christo et Ecclessiae, Latin for “Truth for Christ and Church“. Even though the motto has changed, their philosophy department still has etched over their doors the fundamental question that began humanism, “What is Man that thou art mindful of him?” A quote from Psalm 8:4

3) Yale University’s motto in Greek is Urim V’Thummin or in Latin, Lux et verita, translated as Light and Truth. A reference to the Old Testament Jewish Priesthood.

4) Columbia University’s motto is In lumine Tuo videbimus lumen, Latin for, “In thy light shall we see light,” a reference to Psalms 36:9.

5) Duke University, originally named Trinity College, has the motto Eruditio et Religio, which is Latin for “Knowledge and Faith“.

6) Dartmouth written in both Latin and English is Vox clamantis in deserto, or, The voice of one crying out in the wilderness – a reference to John the Baptist and Isaiah.

7) Brown University’s motto is In Deo Speramus, Latin for In God We Hope.

8) University of Pennsylvania’s motto is “Laws without morals are useless”. While this doesn’t appear to make a direct connection with religion, their seal points out their hierarchy of subjects – theology being both the pinnacle of studies and the foundations of law.

American Media and culture have been, ironically, hell-bent on eradicating Western Civilization’s association with their Christian Heritage. In one breath they thank the intellectuals for the creation of liberal democracy and the freedoms we have been endowed, but then fail to even notice ‘God’ written over the doors of our centers of education. They want to curse Christianity for all of the woes of society, and then conveniently forget to thank her for all the reasons why society has gone right.

We live in a time when most of us believe it is too easy to condemn Christianity and too difficult to defend her, when the contrary is true: It is too easy to defend Christianity and too difficult to condemn her. We have become so ignorant in our education, so delusional in our history, that we can sit in the great hall of Trinity College and ponder, “What good has Christianity ever done us?” And worse, Christianity, in her incessant silence and without flinching, has invited our culture to condemn her.

Birth and Brain Control

With the explosion in the number of debates surrounding Planned Parenthood seeming to be biting at the heels of the Gay Right’s Debates, I wanted to share an article by one of my most cherished authors – G.K. Chesterton. It is not what he is arguing for which has brought this article to my attention, but what he is arguing against.

I wish to invite my readers not only to read his argument concerning Nature and Birth Control but to allow yourself to understand his argument and how it applies to Gay Rights and Birth Control. For I say this to all of my friends who marched with Gay Rights Activists upon the platform, “It is natural, therefore it is legitimate”, you have lost all rational basis to support Planned Parenthood’s attack upon “what is natural”.

Birth and Brain Control
by G.K. Chesterton

A correspondent has written to u last week complaining of the article signed “Heretic”, which condemned Birth Control not from a religious but a purely rationalist standpoint. The correspondent, Mr. Victor Neuburg, appears to give himself considerable airs of superiority because he is unable to believe in anything (except in Mrs. Stopes) and this is interesting, as illustrating a not g-k-chesterton1uncommon combination of the incapacity for believing with the incapacity for thinking. It will be quite sufficient to quote about four lines of his letter, which contain more complicated contradictions and inconsequences than we have ever seen in such a space; and which end with one of those abrupt abysses of the entire absence of humour which is more laughable than the best humour in the world.

He says that a man does not practice Birth Control “in order to indulge his passions, as a Heretic slipshoddly affirms; but in order that his quite natural (and therefore legitimate) sexual passion may have no unforeseen and undesired results.”

Why he should repudiate the indulging of his passion if his passion is quite legitimate, and why he should want to make the indulgence safe except in order to indulge it, the Lord only knows. He will pardon this theological expression; which we apologize for not putting in quotation marks, as he so haughtily presents all theological expressions. But the muddle is much more amusing than that. The passion, let it be noted, is not natural and legitimate; he distinctly says it is natural and therefore legitimate. So far so good. It is natural for a man to wish to rush out of a burning theatre, even if he tramples on women and children; it is natural and therefore legitimate. It is natural for a man called upon to face death or tortures for the truth (of Mrs. Stopes, let us say) to run away and hide; it is natural and therefore it is legitimate. That is quite understood; and so far we are all getting along nicely. But if everything that is natural is right, why in the world is not the birth of a baby as natural as the growth of a passion? If it is unnatural to control appetite, why is it not unnatural to control birth? They are both obviously parts of the same natural process, which has a natural beginning and a natural end. And Mr. Neuburg, who thinks all natural things legitimate, has no possible reason for interrupting it at one stage more than at another. As Nature is infallible, we must not question what progeny she produces. If Nature is not infallible, we have a right to question the passions that she inspires.

And then comes the joyous culmination and collapse; of calling a baby an unforeseen consequence of getting married. It would be entertaining to wander through the world with Mr. Neuburg, sharing all the unforeseen consequences of the most ordinary actions. Life must be full of surprises for him; he strikes a match and is indignant that it burns the sulphur; he throws a stone into a puddle and is irritated that it makes a splash; he keeps bees and is furious because they fertilize flowers; he breeds dogs and stands astounded before the unforeseen consequence of puppies. Wonder is a wonderful thing and, with less irritation, might be a beautiful thing. But we rather doubt whether anyone who argues like this has any right to a tone of such extreme intellectual arrogance.

* Bold is added by me for clarification.

The “Why Not” Society

 “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgement to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.” ~ Saul Alinksy, Dedication to Rules for Radicals

 When our government went through its partial shutdown, why would our president close our open-air monuments (effectively hiring security who would otherwise not be there)? When we begin our debate concerning healthcare and if a company should be forced to buy a woman’s contraceptives, why does our president shout that it is our prevailing system which continues the war on women? When we begin the debate on whether or not the Federal Government should enforce its laws on immigration, why does our president threaten to fight the states who decide it is upon themselves to enforce the law of the land? When a black person is shot, why does our president sympathize with that young man by saying he could have been his son, but when a white girl is shot he doesn’t sympathize with that young woman by saying she could have been his daughter? Why is it that our president has felt it his burden to select what he believes we should sympathize with and what we should not?

When I read from Obama’s Campaign Administration and heard from Alinksy’s Son that our president had been influenced by Saul Alinsky, I could not help but ponder, “If he was influenced by Alinsky, in what way was he influenced? What was Saul Alinsky’s philosophy and should I be concerned?” Whatever has come about from my thoughts about our president, I have come to realize something painfully clear: There are only a few books which have ever changed the way I perceive a presidency than Alinsky’s book Rules For Radicals. In the past I’ve hesitated to discuss these sorts of books because they are books of quite a different sort. They are not the books on ethics and values, about what is right in the world and what is wrong. Books like Machiavelli’s The Prince, or Von Clausewitz War, Politics, and Power, or Sun Tzu’s Art of War, are about power. They are about how to take power from those who possess it and how to keep it from those who seek it. They do not fret over the means, but focus upon the end. They distinguish only between the have’s and the have-not’s, between the powerful and the powerless. But I’ve decided to describe the twelve rules of Alinsky’s book because I believe we have begun to forget the old saying: The wolf comes in sheep’s clothing. If you were to thumb through history for every dictator and despicable person who has ruled through violence and fear, you will find that rarely did they come to power preaching that message. They preached a message of a strong economy and jobs for the needy; They preached a message of political stability; They preached a message of a strong nation. And what we will find throughout history is that those same societies who hear those messages, respond, “Why not?” Is not a weak economy a terrible thing? Are not a lack of jobs for the needy a problem? Are we not tired of political strife at the expense of the people? But they never, for a moment, pondered the costs or the motives. We must stop being the society that hears these messages and responds, “Why not?” We cannot continue to be so shallow as to hear someone preach that such-and-such a sin exists (as very well it may), and then assume that his solution is the only one in the land. We must become the society that asks, “Is he a wolf in sheep’s clothing?” Alinsky’s rules, if they cannot be followed by the man of virtue, should at least serve as a warning for the shepherds.

“[You must help]  the people in the community…feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future. [An] organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of their lives–agitate, create disenchantment and discontent with the current values, to produce, if not a passion for change, at least a passive, affirmative, non-challenging climate. [You must] fan the embers of hopelessness into a flame of fight.” ~ Saul Alinksy

Alinsky’s 12 Rules for Radicals:

RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build alinsky-dedicated-rules-to-luciferpower from flesh and blood. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)

RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don’t address the “real” issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)

RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity’s very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)

RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as Masthead-Saul-Alinksy-copya key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)

RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid “un-fun” activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)

RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)

RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)

saul-alinsky1RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists’ minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)

RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management’s wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)

RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. (Old saw: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)

RULE 12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)