Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Truth Shall Set You Free—But You’ll Have a Hard Time Finding It

It is increasingly difficult to determine the truth of what we hear, even on major news suppliers. Two examples came up this last week, both of which seem to be twisting facts to promote a progressivist agenda.

The first came out of the New York Times about marriage. We know that progressives have moved beyond the stifling limitations of one man-one woman marriage and the nuclear family to all kinds of innovative permutations. Their media supporters march in step with the Times.

The Times article is entitled, 51% of Women are Living Without Spouse. The Times’ own abstract of the article says,
“Analysis of census data shows that 51 percent of American women were living without spouse in 2005, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000; married couples became minority of American households for first time, trend that could reshape social and workplace policies; factors range from women marrying later or living unmarried with partners to those living longer as widows or delaying remarriage after divorce because they prefer their new freedom.”
Their agenda is clear in the passage I highlighted for you above. The problem is, their stats are deceptive. How would you define marriageable age? 21 to 40? As a pastor I can tell you that the average age of couples marrying has gone up from, say 23 to 27, but the number of marriages I do has not declined.

The Times’ statistics include women aged 16 years to death! For them, marriageable age starts at 16! I was married young at 18. I know of very few 16-year-olds that are not considering marriage because of the reasons the Times gives. Most marry between their 20s and 40s—very few before or after those ages.

Who else would you put in the category of married women? I’d add in widows because they were married and did not choose to lose a spouse. I’d include women whose husbands are off at war, even though they are home alone. Not the New York Times. According to them, these women have “chosen” not to live with a spouse.

Progressives are fighting to redefine marriage in non-specific terms. Some of them are vehemently opposed to the traditional family. Some want to redefine marriage to include gays, bi-sexuals (inherent polygamists) and almost any other novel concatenation.


The other issue twisting in the news is about personal savings. The Associated Press reports the following:
"WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans once again spent everything they made and then some last year, pushing the personal savings rate to the lowest level since the Great Depression.
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the savings rate for all of 2006 was a negative 1 percent, meaning that not only did people spend all the money they earned, but they also dipped into savings or increased borrowing to finance purchases. The 2006 figure was lower than a negative 0.4 percent in 2005, and was the poorest showing since a negative 1.5 percent savings rate in 1933 during the Depression."
I blithely accepted this until I found out that the statistics did not include 401k plans (403b, in pastors’ cases), or any other form of investment. With savings account interest rates so low, most people are not keeping their nest eggs with banks. Do you have any investment other than a bank savings account? No matter how much you have in it, this news bite lumps you in with those who are “spen[ding] everything they made and then some last year.”

There’s also a huge difference between today and the Great Depression. Then, the falling stock market destroyed banks. The average saver had little or no access to forms of investment other than bank savings accounts. Today, the entire investment spectrum is open to almost anyone who desires to put a few dollars away for retirement.

It is perhaps a more subtle progressive agenda here. Many on the left believe that any financial program not run by the government is, because it has no federal guarantee, not secure. I think that some of them will not rest unless the feds control all the money.

So, read carefully. Google news items to get greater detail than the reporters are supplying. Whatever you do, don’t go into a panic over what you read in the paper or see on TV.
Keep praying—keep the faith
Tom

38 comments:

Arthur said...

Tom,

You said:

"As a pastor I can tell you that the average age of couples marrying has gone up from, say 23 to 27, but the number of marriages I do has not declined."

I don’t really no what you were trying to prove with that statement, but to me it simply pointed out that statistics could be abused by anyone, including you.

Maybe it’s true that the number of marriages you do over a given period of time has not declined, but aren’t you also proud of the fact that your congregation has been growing at a significant rate? Would it not be logical to expect that the number of marriages you perform would likewise increase?

As far as your comment on the Associated Press report on savings is concerned; I agree that they probably shouldn’t have compared the current savings rate with what was happening during the depression. Your analysis does seem a bit naïve though since it doesn’t take into account the transition from pension plans to 401K plans and the fact that the 401K destined funds we now invest ourselves were once invested by our employers for us. Out of sight, out of mind I guess.

There’s plenty of blame to go around when it comes to incomplete reporting, agendas, and propagandizing. The Progressives certainly don’t have a monopoly on that, although I’m sure you would like us to believe that it is a Progressive trait only. I read and pay attention to the news and commentary from as many sources (left wing, right wing and moderate) as I can conveniently manage to find. I have found that there’s a grain of truth in all of them, but the whole truth resides in none. Just as the whole glory of Jesus will not be apparent until we mature in the unity (not the sameness) of our faith. (Reference to Eph 4)

Maybe you could remove the plank from your own eye before you are critical of the Times and the Associated Press for the specks in theirs. (Reference to Matt 7)

I agree with you, read carefully.

Arthur

Jason said...

Arthur,
I guess I can assume all planks have been removed from your eyes?

Arthur said...

Jason,

I wasn't playing fast and loose with statistics here. There were more criticisms I had of Tom's statistics, which I kept to myself so as not to be too terribly critical.

To directly answer your question: No, not all planks have been removed from my eyes, but at least I didn't substitute bogus statistics and analysis with bogus statistics and analysis.

Arthur

Pamela Cook said...

I MUST jump in here:)

I am an unmarried female (never married). I just celebrated my 47th birthday last December. I am not an AP statistic but a real unmarried woman that can speak about that AP article and attitudes women have.

I am a committed Christian that desires to marry one day. Many of my unmarried friends have similar desires but have not met that person yet. I am fulfilled and satisfied as an unmarried person but would love to hopefully meet someeone that I can share my life with the rest of my days on earth in a godly marriage.

I would like to address two issues:

(1) The subject of the AP article about more married women living alone and WHY.

(2) The rate of marriages performed at The Kirk to rebut the AP article.

There are MANY women I have known over the years, Christian and non-Christian (mostly Christian), that are accurately described in the AP article. I cannot speak for the percentages mentioned in the article. I know I was not thinking about marriage at 15 or 16:) The vast majority of my unmarried female friends and associates that were married before do not desire to marry again or at least hesitant. The reason usually expressed is that they never had a life of their own. The Christian women felt like they did not have their own walk with the Lord while married. In many cases I do not know the age when they married. I suspect they were young, maybe in their teens or early 20s. The vast majority of cases were when the marriage ended in divorce. However there were some women that were widowed and raised their children that decided that they wanted to be free to serve the Lord unattached the remainder of their lives.

Sad to say I have had on occasion spoken to married women that say that they do indeed love their husbands but if they had to do it again they would not marry. This is not just an attitude with unmarried women. The latest encounter I had was with one of my co-workers a few months back. Just because couples look happy and contented in church does not mean much to me. I hear the other side. More than likely pastors and other married will not hear these things unless the marriage is in a crisis.

The rate of marriage stats in a local congregation mean nothing in the bigger scheme of things. I would ask pastors what percentage of their membership is single. Some may not even know because they measure their membership by 'families' instead of 'persons'. Many churches may not have a large percentage of singles in their churches because those churches market to young families (married couples with minor children). They will probably never see singles like me in their churches. In fact most singles avoid those churches like the plague because there is generally nothing for them there unless there is a strong outreach emphasis. Sad to say most 'family' churches have no outreach interests at all. They are content with babysitting families. I'm glad that from knowing people at The Kirk that is not the case there. They seem to have a well rounded ministry.

The AP article dealt with women living alone and their supposed attitudes. I agree that there may have been some twisting because of the selected population. However there are many single people in the body of Christ out here that the church has no idea about and in most cases absolutely no interest in. I believe a lot of the attitudes about marriage is because the sacredness of marriage is not preached, much less lived by Christian leaders. There is a take it or leave it attitude. Unfortunately the high divorce rate amongst Christians show that Christians have the same attitudes as the world.

I purposely stated that pastors market their churches to young families. In times past I thought that maybe I was being a bit harsh. Unfortunately I was proven right. A single female friend of mine in VA is an ordained minister and has chances to speak with church leaders in different settings. On her job recently she had a chance to serve a pastor. The pastor boldly told her that it is the 'in' thing to market their churches to families. I shook my head. A pastor that does that has no authority to speak on the status of issues of marriage and singleness because his congregation will not be an accurate reflection of the body.

TomGray said...

Arthur,
Could you please indicate where you agree with me?
Tom

TomGray said...

Arthur,
Actually, we have added two more pastors to our staff who also do weddings.
Tom

Arthur said...

Tom,

I thought I already told you where I agree with you. I said that I agree that they should not have been comparing the current state of affairs with what was going on in the depression, and I agreed with your statement that we should read carefully.

As far as your statistics and analysis are concerned: Your statistics are only on a very small sample (relatively speaking) and only in a small region of the US, in a single church that is not representative of churches nationwide. This could hardly be considered Statistically Significant (in a mathematical sense). It all may seem very true to you from your limited vantage point, but that doesn't make it Truth.

It's interesting to me that you didn't post my reply to Jason (where I acknowledged that there are indeed planks in my eyes), or my immediate acknowledgment (my reply to DrMom) of my error concerning the "Anonymous" poster on the other thread. How does that manipulate the minds of your readers Tom? This is not the first time you have done this sort of thing.

It sometimes looks to me like you are trying to manipulate public opinion by only posting that "truth" which suits your agenda, but that's just my view from my limited vantage point.

In R. Milton Winter’s article “Presbyterians and Separatist Evangelicals: A Continuing Dilemma”, he writes: “Evangelicals adopt an “ends justify the means” type of action, which compels evangelical leaders to play “fast and loose” with facts. Jerry Falwell, in a recent CNN interview volunteered that “none of the outrageous things I’ve said has been an accident!” When asked why this was so, Falwell declared that controversy gained him a hearing and thus “an opportunity for the gospel.””

Although I disagree with large portions of Winter’s article, this portion does ring true from my vantage point.

The ends don’t justify the means.

Arthur

P.S.

I wonder if it’s time for me to start my own blog, which contains the sub-heading (among other things) “What Tom Doesn’t Tell You”. Maybe not, that might be construed to be too mean spirited.

Arthur

DrMom said...

Once again, Arthur, you're quick to lash out. You're responses to both Jason and me are posted. It isn't like anyone is monitoring the posts here 24/7, so maybe you should be gracious and let more time pass before you attack.

For someone who complains about Rev Gray being unfair and having an agenda (heck, who doesn't? we're all going to defend what we believe in.) you're awfully quick to do the same.


Also, in another thread you complained that there is no free speech in this blog. I find this laughable on a couple of points. 1) Free speech is a governmental issue. This is a private blog. 2) Rev. Gray consistently publishes posts that are very contrary to his own views. He has, by his own admission, not posted libelous or profane posts, but I can't see any agenda on his part to block opposing views.

Arthur said...

DrMom,

If you were really aware of the timing of the posts and some of the real behind the scenes history of this blog, you would understand where I’ve been coming from.

Also, what makes you think I had “complained” about the lack of free speech on this blog? It appears to me that you missed the point of the statement. Who's over reacting now? Your laughter sounds a bit too hysterical to be healthy.

Perhaps Tom should own up to the fact that several months ago he allowed a couple of blog posters to unfairly criticize me for not posting a link to an absolutely blasphemous statement he made on a Tulsa radio interview. Tom denied having made the statement at all, and as far as I know has never owned up to it or explained himself. I had actually posted a link to it twice, and Tom didn't acknowledge either of them. Instead he chose to post their criticisms of me knowing full well they weren’t based on the truth. I do get a little overly critical at times, and overly emotional too, but Tom and you both are certainly not angels either.

Arthur

Ted D Rossier said...

Arthur,

You talk about truth as if you believe there is such a thing. But from our past discussions, it's clear that you don't. I would simply like to point out that the positions you take are frequently internally inconsistent.

I think you should start your own blog. I think you'd be happier if you did.

Ted

phillip j. owings said...

arthur, you are so predictable. Anything that Tom supports or an idea that he espouses, you most often will oppose it.

I think your idea of creating your own blog is an excellent one. You seem to say that you won't do it because it would be perceived as being mean spirited. Let's face it you are already mean spirited in many ways and try to cleverly use your wit, intelligence and education to make yourself appear to be gracious. You have no intentention of being gracious and truly listening to what Tom and others say. You just love the argument for the sake of argument and revele in the pleasure that it brings you.

I think you need your own blog so you can attract many to argue with you, then your satisfaction will be even greater.

DrMom said...

Arthur, you must have a very short memory.

Feb 8 at 1:29 pm on this discussion you say "Also, what makes you think I had “complained” about the lack of free speech on this blog?"

Well, in the discussion of the "Are PCUSA Churches Leaving This Week?" post, you posted a reply on (yet again) Feb 8 at 9;16 am you posted "(there’s no freedom of speech here on this blog)"

I don't know how I could have possibly misunderstood you.

Stephen said...

Wow! Tough crowd! What ever happened to "love your enemy?" It sounds like y'all are more stuck on proving the enemy part than showing the love part.

I've followed this blog for months and even posted on it (big mistake, for reasons Arthur has made clear). Arthur strikes me as having some good points about the appearance of Tom's timing, and about the appearance of occasional favoritism when it comes to the rules. Granted, when it comes to deciding which gets done first, I imagine Tom's got to handle Kirk matters before he has time to dabble in his blog hobby.

As for the consistency of Arthur's logic (internal, external, or otherwise) and his desire for truth (or is that Truth, Ted?), he strikes me as genuine and capable. In fact, his best points appear to go ignored because no one can refute his logic.

It appears as if the home crowd is booing because it doesn't like visiting teams who are more skilled at the logic game. Me thinks thou dost protest too much, Ted, Dr. Mom, and crowd.

I keep writing "appearance" and "appears" because there's so little else to explain why y'all tend to demonize anyone who disagrees with you. Knee-jerk reaction is what my folks call it.

Props to you, Arthur. I don't know how you can tolerate the unwarranted character assassination.

Keeping the faith
and keeping my head down,
Stephen

Arthur said...

Ted,

My dear misguided brother; what makes you think I don’t believe in the existence of truth? Is it the fact that I don’t believe that you and those of your ilk discern a greater portion of it? Surely you’re not so arrogant as to actually believe that only you and your kind understand it. I have never said anything even remotely resembling the notion that there isn’t a fundamental truth. It has been clear to me for a long time that you only give what I write a cursory read, so I’m not surprised you miss the obvious.

I would really like to know what points I’ve made that you think are “internally inconsistent”. Put your money where your mouth is Ted. I keep telling you that you should ask more questions and make fewer comments. I say that because it appears you often miss the point and your inconsistency comment seems to bare that out.

Phillip,

You are partially right. I do tend to post comments to Tom when I disagree with him. He gets plenty of praise from others when I think he gets it right, so I don’t really see the point in adding my praise to the pile. Maybe I should, although I’ve rarely observed Tom praising us (any of us) when we make a good point or offer food for thought. Most of my posts aren’t even directed at Tom though.

Ted has said that he considers progressivism to be a cancer in the Church. This is why he so aggressively goes after it whenever he thinks he sees it (whether it is really there or not). He has every right (even a responsibility) to put forth what he believes is right and to witness his faith. I don’t naturally see his points of view (nor he mine), but I do respect his standing up for what he believes and his willingness to witness and on occasion to engage me in a debate. I believe what he and I do here is healthy and very Presbyterian (in a classical sense). Ted is as relentless as I am, so why don’t you criticize him for it too? Is it because you agree with him that you let him off the hook? I used to be offended and hurt by some of the things Ted has said about me personally, and I’ve even written to Tom (personal email) to express it (Tom never acknowledged receiving it). I decided that I just don’t identify with Ted’s accusations and therefore try to let them just bounce off (not as easy as it sounds) and then attempt to correct his misunderstanding. I also see a cancer in the Church, and I go after it whenever I think I see it.

You have made comments that sound as though you think you really know me and what motivates me. You most assuredly don’t. I don’t love argument for the sake of argument. In fact I don’t love argument at all let alone “revel” in it, as you put it. Talking about mean spiritedness, where do you think your criticisms are coming from? Perhaps it comes from the goodness of your heart? I don’t think so.

Arthur

Stephen said...

Tom,

Once again, I guess it depends upon what side of the bed you get up out of in the morning, or what pant leg you put on first, as to whether you see a liberal or a conservative conspiracy in the media, etc.

As for me, I see the media majority bending over backwards to accommodate the ultra conservative agenda. That counts for their treatment of religion, economics, politics, education, foreign policy...you name it. It's been going on since Reagan's administration, inflamed during the Republican "Contract On America", and went into the red zone during the current adminstration. To think what a mess the neo-cons (including their "religious right" supporters) have made of this country scares me, and all with the help of the media majority.

But what really scares me is the kind of stuff I read on blogs like this: the threat of conservative extremists in lockstep to "take back" the country "for Jesus". How can you take back what's already in your possession? Your best bud Bush claims his leadership insights go straight from God's mouth to his ear, and the world doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at the results. I sincerely pray, "God help us!" because if God doesn't, your kind will drive this country (and other countries) further into the ground.

Then WWJD? He'd weep, just like he's probably doing right now looking at all the hatred being slung around by so-called Christians (conservatives and liberals, it doesn't matter) who only listen to their own kind.

Go ahead. Haggle over your statistics. Fiddle all you want. Rome is burning and no one's putting it out.

Keeping the faith,
Stephen

TomGray said...

Stephen,
WOW! Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned. Although I don't remember setting out to scorn liberals.

Your take on the media is naive. Newsroom survey reveal 90%+ adherents to liberalism from among reporters, et. al. Lexis/Nexis searches on current topics reveal that media statements positive to conservative positions are rare.

Where on my blog have you seen me advocate "taking back" the country. I am a fervent believer in the separation of Church and State. Having said that, I find that I must constantly explain to liberal friends that that still entitles me to an opinion.

You said, "Your best bud Bush claims his leadership insights go straight from God's mouth to his ear, and the world doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at the results. I sincerely pray, "God help us!" because if God doesn't, your kind will drive this country (and other countries) further into the ground."

Bush is the president, not my friend. I reserve the right to agree or disagree with whatever he says or does.

I do defend his right to turn to God for guidance. God help us from leaders who don't! The President no more believes that God speaks directly into his ear than you think your intestines formulate complex sentences when you have a "gut feeling" about something.

Your words are inflammatory and unthoughtul.
Tom

Arthur said...

DrMom,

You still don't get it. It was a statement of fact in order to help make a point. It was NOT a complaint.

I totally agree with Tom's stated rules. I just don't always agree with the way they are applied. Tom and his crew are in control of what gets posted on the blog, and that's fine with me. If I really did have a problem with it, I would have started my own blog by now.

Arthur

Robert said...

Tom,

You don't remember setting out to scorn liberals?

LOL! Let us count the ways!

Robert

DrMom said...

Arthur,

Not to beat a dead horse, but I'm not the one missing the point.

Rev. Gray may not post certain defamatory or profane posts, but he most certainly has not stifled debate or contrary views here. I have a very hard time seeing what is going on here as anything resembling a lack of freedom of speech.

The newspaper doesn't post all of the letters to the editor, yet I haven't ever heard that refered to as a lack of freedom of speech.

I think you're making an awfully big deal out of this for someone who has such a large number of replies on this blog.

DrMom

Stephen said...

Tom,

As for my comment about your best bud Bush, I was speaking in general terms because it is well known that, until recently, Bush has been the darling of Christian evangelicals. Indeed, like his neo-con handlers, Bush has gone out of his way to court evangelicals.

Calling me naive doesn't make it so. I've watched for years while the media FAILED to investigate and report fully on the actions of the current and previous Republican administrations, while they gleefully criticized every detail of the Clinton administration. (Funny, but wasn't the majority of congress Republican during most of Clinton's administration? Hmmm. Perhaps that was only coincidence.)

Our country is now locked in intractable and immoral military action in Iraq. The fault for that lies squarely in the lap of the administration (for lying to us), the media (for failing to investigate the lie), and the average voter (for failing to call the administration and the media to account). It did not help that the president, his Cabinet and staff, and the majority of Republican legislators called anyone traitor who dared to raise their questions out loud. I know, because I asked questions publicly and nearly lost employment because of it.

It has only been within recent months that the media majority have begun openly to question and probe the administration's failed plans in Iraq. They did so ONLY when national sentiment turned against the war in Iraq, and they continued ONLY after the nation voted to place Democrats in control of congress. Until that time, the media majority took their cue from the Republicans and the ultra conservative Christian groups from whom the Republiicans drew so much of their political and financial power.

For three years leading up to 9/11, and for four years following it, I worked as a civilian in the general library on a US Army installation. My job included processing the periodicals (newspapers, magazines, newsletters, etc.). I worked with over 250 publications of all types: local, national, and international; civilian and military; professional and popular; liberal, moderate, and conservative. With the exception of a very few print sources (most notably The Christian Science Monitor) the US media were amazingly uniform in their reporting. Then I would come home from work to see the national and local nightly news, after having listened to NPR in the car during my commute.

Therefore, EVERY DAY I was bombarded with your so-called "liberal" media reporting. If liberal means it almost never questioned the president, almost always supported the neo-con agenda, suppressed stories that were critical of US foreign policy, and took pains to remain silent on the human cost of the war (US military and Iraqi civilian casualties alike), then liberal means something radically different than most thinking people understand it to mean. Even NPR was unusally restrained in their reporting.

Quote your statistics all you want. It's obvious you are the the naive one. I speak from firsthand experience that has taught me to be very critical of every news source.

If it's "inflammatory and unthoughtful" of me to speak the truth, I have no problem with that. Once again, it shows that you and those of your ilk on this blog demonize anyone with whom you disagree, particularly if we speak from a more logical or knowledgable position than you.

Keeping the faith
and not hiding from the Truth,
Stephen

TomGray said...

Stephen,
It was inflammatory of you to lump me (and others) with your personal view of evangelicals. Remember, you equated this blog with "take back America for Jesus."

Not all who voted for Bush were evangelicals. Not all evangelicals voted for Bush. I think it is fair to say that few if any liberals voted for him. I really think that there is much more diversity among conservatives today than liberals.

Another commentor did catch me in something I said. I admit, I have scorned liberals in this blog.
Tom
Tom

Arthur said...

DrMom,

You said:

"... he most certainly has not stifled debate ..."

I didn’t say that he did. If you'll go back and read what I wrote again, you'll hopefully see that I actually implied that he was somewhat manipulative and not completely benevolent. That's very different from stifling debate. I'm well aware that he doesn't stifle debate. For goodness sake, Ted and I have been debating here for months. Tom himself has even stated that he likes debate, although he tends not to do it here very often.

I should also point out that Tom is a leading member of a group that has been criticized for attempting manipulation through secrecy (the NWAC). I know that doesn’t prove anything, but it does raise my suspicions a little. Of course I forgive him/them for having done it in the past, but I’ve seen no reason to believe that they haven’t adopted that as a continuing modus operandi, and my recent conversation with the Rev. Dr. Randall Jenkins (also NWAC leadership) certainly didn’t abate my suspicions either.

You went on to say:

“I have a very hard time seeing what is going on here as anything resembling a lack of freedom of speech.”

It seems to me that your last comment implies that you (personally) might not necessarily be able to tell the difference between a totalitarian system controlled by a benevolent dictator and a free system. I don’t think it should be very difficult to see that this blog was intended to fall into the former category, and I don’t believe Tom would disagree with that. (Please don’t take that as a criticism of this blog, it’s not.)

You also said:

"I think you're making an awfully big deal out of this for someone who has such a large number of replies on this blog."

I'm making a big deal out of it? No, I'm just replying to you and your erroneous assumptions and interpretations. I've explained this with all honesty, and as fully as I believe it needs to be explained. You keep responding to me, so I keep sharing more.

Arthur

Stephen said...

Tom,

There has been, in my estimation, a clear "take back the country for Jesus" attitude presented by many of your posters, and frankly, by you. If you want me to quote "chapter and verse", I can't do that. It is simply my impression after following this blog since last summer.

And yes, you scorn liberals on this blog. Thanks for admitting it.

Keeping the faith
and gettin' the heck off this blog,
Stephen

Stephen said...

Oh, and Tom, before I leave again (for good), I find it interesting to note that you sidestepped what I had to say about my experience of conservative media bias after processing diverse periodicals for seven years.

So I'll add here a few of the other categories of publications I failed to mention the first time: academic and higher education; religious and secular; age, gender, and community specific. I read everything from Christianity Today to Christian Century, Roman Catholic publications to Islamic journals, conservative editorials to military newspapers, parenting magazines to literary reviews, and a host of different ethinic offerings.

As I stated, with the exception of The Christian Science Monitor, almost no publications were openly speaking out against or cricitizing the conservative agenda. Those that did kept their comments as tame as possible. With conservatives in control of the executive and legislative branches, and the Patriot Act in full swing, it was dangerous to speak your mind in this country. To question anything conservative was de facto traitorous.

However, after the invasion of Iraq was fully underway and Bush declared "Mission Accomplished", I began to hear soldiers whispering their discontent quietly among the stacks (bookshelves). After another year, debates about the wisdom of the war increased in volume, but only in the corners of the library and between the study carrels -- away from high traffic areas. Of course, it was easy for me to hear whenever I shelved books. I guarantee you, none of those conversations ever made the nightly news. Everyone wanted to stay employed, so a lot of people kept quiet and the media outlets silenced debate.

So, no, Tom, I think we have a long way to go before the media can be considered liberal, even with the Dems in control of congress. Besides, the Dems are too busy trying to pass non-binding resolutions and not offending the Republican base (Christian evangelicals) to upset the conservative stranglehold on this country.

It will take years -- decades -- to undo the cultural, political, journalistic, and religious damage inflicted by the conservative grab for power that started under the Reagan administration and reached its zenith under Bush. And all along the way of that power grab there was plenty of involvement by Christian evangelicals, as we found out when the Jack Abramoff/Ralph Reed scandal broke. Assuredly, evangelicals as a group cannot be blamed, but equally assuredly, a majority of evangelicals expressed their pleasure that their agenda appeared to be shaping national politics.

Talk about needing to remove specks and logs from our eyes.

Keeping the faith
and truly gone for good,
Stephen

Jim Loughlin said...

Arthur -

You stated that the NWAC has been "criticized for attempting manipulation by secrecy". Could you expound on that? I was not aware of any issues there. Perhaps I missed it in a prior comment somewhere along the way.

Arthur said...

Jim,

You said:

“You stated that the NWAC has been "criticized for attempting manipulation by secrecy". Could you expound on that?”

Certainly.

On June 20, 2005 in a PC(USA) News Release entitled:
“Loyal opposition? 80 unnamed PC(USA) congregations join in 'New Wineskins' confederation”

Jerry L. Van Marter wrote the following about the then New Wineskins Initiative:

“While the directors’ names are known, the participating congregations have not been identified publicly.

“Some have been strongly discouraged from being here, so making their names public would not be politic,” explained the group’s moderator, the Rev. Dave Henderson, pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in West Lafayette, IN.

The Rev. Dean Weaver, the group’s vice moderator and pastor of Knox United Presbyterian Church in Kenmore, NY, said some supporters of New Wineskins are to be commissioners to next year’s General Assembly, “and that could be jeopardized if their names were made public.””

Jim, I don’t know how you read that, but it surely looks like attempted manipulation by secrecy to me. It also looks to me like a lack of faith on their part too.

Arthur

TomGray said...

Arthur,
I hesitate to give you more "air time" than this deserves, but I did read what you wrote about Dean (in answer to Jim L.). This is not a manipulative secrecy but a necessary one, as I described in my Monday blog.

There are current actions by presbyteries threatening pastors and session who have the temerity to question the system. We at NWAC were not going to give the PCUSA ammunition.
Tom

Ted D Rossier said...

Arthur,

My statement about your internal inconsistencies was more a reference to the substance of many of our past discussions. Whenever I respond to you, I do point out areas where I see your position as inconsistent. That being said, let's examine my supposed "mean-spiritedness".

You felt the need to email Tom to complain about me. Perhaps the reason that you didn't get a response is that his definition of "mean spirited" and yours do not coincide. This occurs to me because in a lot of our debates back and forth, I believe that misunderstandings have arisen precisely because you and I use the same terms but define them differently. It is always my desire to be precise about words and what they mean.

So let's take a look at the term "mean-spirited".

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

From what I can tell, by your definition (and that of many others), the foregoing is very mean-spirited. How about this one:

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Similarly:

But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.

Devils, liars, murderers? That is the height of "mean-spiritedness", is it not?

Now we have this:

How does that manipulate the minds of your readers Tom? This is not the first time you have done this sort of thing.

It sometimes looks to me like you are trying to manipulate public opinion by only posting that "truth" which suits your agenda, but that's just my view from my limited vantage point.


Hopefully you will recognize all 4 quotations. The first three were spoken by Our Lord, in Matthew 23 and John 8, precisely. The last one, of course, is yours.

My point is this: "mean-spirited" does not mean telling someone that you are right and they are wrong (although that's how a lot of people define it these days). That much should be obvious. You think that you are right and I am wrong, correct? You don't engage in these debates just to practice typing, do you? I didn't think so. "Mean-spirited" also does not mean "using harsh language". As Jesus demonstrates on many occasions, harsh and blunt language is sometimes called for. It's instructive to note that, in most cases He directed such at the religious members of his society. The ones who called themselves believers. The synagogue, the assembly, the Old Testament "church". When I direct harsh language at those who call themselves Christians but espouse ideas and views which are inconsistent with their stated belief, it is to make a point and hopefully make the person uncomfortable. To perhaps jolt them back into reality. I also reserve harsh language for those who have apostasized. I endeavor to speak very differently to an unbeliever (sometimes more successfully than others).

The actual meaning of "mean-spirited" is "having the quality of malicious or petty intent." I can categorically state that I have neither. If I didn't love the brethren (including you), and if I didn't care about you individually and the Church as a whole, I wouldn't bother. And as for petty, nothing about this discussion is. The doctrine of the Scriptures is of paramount importance.

Ted

Ted D Rossier said...

On the subject of truth, Arthur, I will need a bit of clarification from you. You used the term "fundamental truth". I would like to know your definition of that term, and whether such fundamental truth is objective or subjective.

If objective, then what is the standard by which such truth is judged?

Ted

Cameron Mott said...

Tom,

Temerity to question the system or the temerity to break the vows they freely took to the system?

Could you name some of these congregations that have drawn presbytery action before the congregation has taken action to violate our polity? Even using the Layman's archive, I can not find such a congregation in the 10 years or so of the archive, what am I missing?

Ted D Rossier said...

Stephen,

It's going to take even longer to undo the damage that Liberalism has caused to the Church as a whole, and then yet longer for the Church to help our country recover from the effects of your brand of "progressivism".

Just for the record, this conservative evangelical is very dissatisfied with President Bush's administration. He has done a lot of things I disagree with. I didn't vote for him in the primary last time around. Even though I support our troops, I had a sinking feeling when the Iraq war started that it would not go well. Neither President Bush nor Colin Powell intentionally lied or misled people, but the intelligence failures were inexcusable, and to the extent that President Bush was responsible for hiring Donald Rumsfeld and keeping George Tenet, then he is partially to blame. He thought he was doing the right thing, but it was a string of bad decisions.

In the past the mass media has been dominated by the liberal point of view. That situation has corrected itself to a certain limited degree. But what I see as the current agenda of mass media is ratings. This is due primarily to the internet and cable news channels. It's a competition to sensationalize anything they can get their hands on, left, right, wherever.

I don't happen to be a theonomist/reconstructionist (though I do sympathize with many of their arguments) because I do not believe that the State should have ecclesiastical authority, nor do I believe that the Church should wield the power of the sword. This, by the way, is what is meant by "separation of church and state." I do wholeheartedly believe that our civil and criminal laws should be based on Biblical principles, though. The French philosopher Frederic Bastiat said that laws exist "to prevent injustice from prevailing." That is, to restrain evil. That is the government's primary function. The Bible tells us in specific objective terms what we already know in our consciences about morality, therefore it is a necessary and proper basis for our nation's laws, which are a working out of moral behavior, a system of ethics designed peculiarly for our country.

We don't need to take back anything for anybody. The Lord already owns everything. That may seem obvious, but it's too easily forgotten these days. The reason we need to return to a Biblical system of government is for our own good, not God's. We reap the earthly benefits of good government, and God gets the glory as the creator, sustainer, and law-giver. Likewise, when we as the Church allow things to degenerate as they have, we become useless and our society is eroded beyond the recognition of those who founded it.

Ted

TomGray said...

Cameron,
None of us took vows to accept the violation of clear Scripture. What I was writing about, though, was the gag that the denomination puts on dissident pastors, allowing them to use "the system" to one end, their own.
Tom

Cameron Mott said...

I think you and I disagree on whether PCUSA polity and Confessions actually violate clear Scripture but I have the impression we essentially agree on what is clear Scripture.

I am a layman so I'm not sure I understand about the gag, do you mean Administrative Commissions appointed for defiant churches warning teaching elders not to violate polity or their vows with their activities?

TomGray said...

Cameron,
It's not the BOO or confessions but the fact that the PCUSA has officially decided to look the other way when they are violated (for anything other that what the Kirk did).
The gag order is literal. The history of the PCUSA in the last 20 years is to remove pastors who speak out, sometimes even taking over the session of the churches. If pastors decide to work with the presbytery, the administrative commissions consistently demand that the pastor have no contact with members or other pastors; that they must not write or speak to anyone about the process or any controversy within it, on pain of losing their salary.
Tom

Cameron Mott said...

Tom,

These are strong accusations. In the spirit of finding out the truth, could you site some examples, with names, of when PCUSA has officially decided to look the other way when the BoO and BoC are violated or what pastors have been removed for just speaking out or what pastors have been gagged for cooperating with a presbytery?

Thanks.

phillip j. owings said...

arthur,

For someone that does not like argument you sure do participate in it a great deal.

You are right, I do not personally know you, but you reveal your heart through the words you write. Your statements expose your hurt feelings which probably leads to some bitterness.

The bitterness shows up in your desire to correct people's misunderstandings and mistakes as you did in correcting a spelling mistake in my comments to you and revealing that Tom does not answer your personal emails.

You also did not respond to the suggestion that you should start your own blog. Are you afraid to stand alone or is it that you need to have someone tee up things that you can criticise or with which you can argue?

By the way, I sometimes am mean spirited, epecially when I think something needs to be challenged.

Arthur said...

Phillip,

You said:

“For someone that does not like argument you sure do participate in it a great deal.”

I never said that I don’t like argument. I said that I don’t love argument. There’s a big difference. Argument is a tool, and I use it.

You also said:

“The bitterness shows up in your desire to correct people's misunderstandings and mistakes as you did in correcting a spelling mistake…”

I’ve been a teacher and tutor off and on for all of my adult life, and was a Secondary Education major for a few years while I was in college. Boy! I wasn’t aware that I liked teaching so much because I am bitter. Does that mean that the rest of the Teachers in my family are doing it because they are bitter to? Ted tries to correct errors he perceives too; do you think he is bitter? By the way, I didn’t realize that I had “corrected a spelling mistake” until you made the assertion. In fact, I’m a horrific speller/writer, and write all my responses in Microsoft Word so that I can use a spelling and grammar checker, so I think you need to chill out a bit on that count.

You also said:

“You also did not respond to the suggestion that you should start your own blog. Are you afraid to stand alone or is it that you need to have someone tee up things that you can criticize or with which you can argue?”

No Phillip, I’m not afraid to stand alone, otherwise I wouldn’t be here standing up to people like Tom, you and the rest. I don’t “need someone to tee up things”, as you put it, but I do respond to what I perceive as erroneous and inflammatory statements made by people I believe should be taking greater care (like a Pastor who leads a congregation of thousands, or a leader of a Religious Affinity group). I don’t have my own public blog because I don’t want to take the time I believe would be necessary to do it right. Also, like Tom, I would be tempted to trust my own judgment in determining whose comments were suitable or unsuitable for publication, and would probably fail just as miserably.

It might be nice for a change for someone here (besides Ted) to actually attempt to show where my arguments are wrong rather than question the validity of my motives.

Arthur

phillip j. owings said...

Arthur, you always rise to the bait and as you attempt to justify your words and motives, you set the hook deeper. Let's face it, I doubt that in and of ourselves, we can ever agree upon too many things concerning the PCUSA and its apostasy. So I am signing off on this exchange. I pray that God blesses you.