Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Solstice in Neo-paganism and Irrational Re-mystification of The Physical Universe

I note with interest that 20,000 people, many of them neo-pagans, descended on Stonehenge to celebrate the Summer Solstice.    Young people in America usually can't make it to Stonehenge, but there are also a small number of people in this country who claim to be pagans, and attempt to re-mystify the Solstice into some kind of spiritual experience as a part of that.

This was all so predictable, and predicted by such men as C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer long ago.   The radical secularism imposed on the West by our elites via education, the media, and over-reaching courts, was never going to fulfill the highest needs of man.  Man is a spiritual being who longs for something to worship.   Radical secularism, aka modernism, does not answer the inner desire of man to worship something.  When a culture rejects God, something else will fill that void, it will not stay empty.

Modernism was always destined to be a short phase in the West, for it saws off the philosophical branch on which it rests, and results in the post-modernism we now see about us.    An age in which the very existence of truth is scoffed at and reason itself is suspect.

In this post modern age, some have filled the spiritual void of man with state-worship, some with self-worship.  For those among us who are skeptical of state power, and whose self-esteem falls short of the level of narcissism required for self-worship, there is neo-paganism.  Often this is connected to some sort of vague environmentalist religion.   In other words, the neo-pagans resort to the physical universe and nature to meet their spiritual needs.  

We only thought that the debate between Monotheism and polytheism was settled thousands of years ago.  Actually it was settled, intellectually speaking, but remember post-modernism is skeptical even of reason and the intellect.  Instead, it exalts desire and will as the highest knowable truth.    Once our culture took reason and intellect off of the throne, monotheism lost the foundation on which it won the cultural battle in previous generations.

So now we have people trying to re-mystify the Solstice as part of neo-pagan worship.  It makes no sense intellectually.   Today there is nothing mystical about the Solstice.   It is the result of well-understood gyrations in the earth's orbit around the sun.    It is a physical phenomenon completely predictable by astronomers.  We not only know when it will happen, but also completely understand why.  

But adherents of neo-paganism are trying to wind-back the state of mankind's knowledge in the mystical sense.  They desire to go back to a time when these things were not well-understood, and thus awe-inspiring on a mystical level.   It is a longing for the awe of the natural world humanity held in ages gone by, before the men in lab coats took all that from mankind with their antiseptic answers for everything.   One need not be a neo-pagan to have some sympathy with that position.

While I am sympathetic to the desire of man to worship, no matter my feelings on the matter I cannot indulge an intellectually unsupportable position in an effort to meet this deep emotional need.    Rather, I want my mysticism not only to be comforting, but also truly mystical.   I am just not cut out to shoe-horn it in where it does not belong just to draw emotional comfort from something that I know intellectually is false.  

I want my mystical faith to be real, in a way that is really beyond the men in the lab coats, even if it means believing in a God who has inconveniently specific rules for my personal behavior.  Rules which I frequently run afoul of, necessitating a continual reliance on the substitutionary atonement of Christ for my failings.    In Christ, this event can be placed in its proper perspective.  It is a testimony to the orderliness of the cosmos, and the regulation and order established by the Creator and Lawgiver.   I worship not the clock, but the clock maker.

As an end note, the God of the Bible explained all of this to His believers long ago.  At a time when the physical cosmos did indeed appear to be mystical, and was basically universally believed to be so by the children of men across the whole earth, there was in one small band of humans an exception.   Among the Hebrews was a Prophet named Jeremiah who related this message from God above...10 Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. This is what the Lord says:
“Do not learn the ways of the nations
    or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
    though the nations are terrified by them.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

White River National Blueway System Harbinger of Massive Federal Land Grab

Our Federal Government is overwhelmingly incompetent and corrupt, but even their incompetence and corruption is exceeded by their arrogance.   As if they did not have more on their plate than they can handle right now, the Obama Administration has launched a plan to turn effective control of over half a million acres of land in Missouri and Arkansas, most of it private, over to their environmentalist allies.   Most local officials in the affected areas are not even aware this is going on.

Where does the Administration get the authority to even attempt such a thing?  The answer to that question highlights how far gone the former Republic is, and how the Federal government of the United States has metastasized into a vast and threatening entity, far out of the control of the people of the nation which it now rules.

Under the two-party system the legislative branch no longer matters much.   Most legislators don't dare represent their constituents anymore, but rather the global interests which fund the two parties.    And of course, if the head of the executive is of one's own party, they are not a "team player" if they don't march in lock-step with the titular head of their party.   For all these reasons and more, no action from the all-but irrelevant Congress was needed to initiate this federal land-grab.  Instead, Obama signed a mere memorandum, which he called the "America Great Outdoors" memorandum.

But it gets worse.  That memorandum did not even directly specify that the Feds would attempt to assert control over the White River Watershed.   Instead, Secretary of the Interior Salazar issued Secretarial Order #3321 which "authorized" federal agents to attempt this effort.  Your tax dollars at work, devising limitations on how you might be permitted to use your property.  This is not even the President directly authorizing this with or without legislative approval.   This is a bureaucrat making the call.

Some of you might be wondering where in the Constitution any part of the federal government has the authority to do anything like this.  The short answer is "they don't", but the longer answer is important to understand.  The lesson of it is, we cannot trust a group of federal employees (federal judges) with the sole authority to determine the limits of their employer's authority.   In the long run, as a group, they will conclude that there are no practical limits.

It started with the Constitution's "Interstate Commerce" Clause, which gave Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce.   That is legitimate.  From there though, a doctrine of Federal Navigational Servitude arose from Supreme Court decisions.   This doctrine asserts that the Federal Government, as part of the Interstate Commerce Clause, has absolute authority over all navigable waterways.  This doctrine has been taken to ridiculous extremes.  The Feds can change the course of rivers within a state, block a river or creek, or cause a river to run dry by their actions, all without recourse by those adversely affected.   They even use this doctrine as a basis for regulating paddling up a creek because "paddling is not a right"!

Obviously they are expanding their powers, ostensibly under the "Interstate Commerce Clause" regarding activities which are not interstate commerce.   The relentless and unchecked expansion of federal power via federal court ruling has been allowed to continue generationally, to our hurt.  Yet this power-grab goes beyond even those outrages.   Here are the goals of the program in Missouri and Arkansas.....
• Acquiring at total of 548,500 acres throughout the watershed

• Placing 10% of farms into conservation programs and develop Conservation Programs for 75% of farms

• Reducing on farm water consumption by 20%

• Increase flooding of agricultural land for wildlife habitat by 10% in the first three years and then an additional 20% in 3-7 years

• Set back levees to restore historic floodplain habitat

• Control encroachment on existing floodplain

• Establish a minimum 180 foot wide vegetative buffer zone along all surface water

These goals cannot practicably be met on a volunteer basis.  They are going to have to push some property owners and property users around to accomplish them.   They are going to have to regulate the use of our private property.

To throw people off, they included this statement in their documents.  I would like for you to read it very closely, in order to discover a valuable lesson in double-speak....

“Nothing in this MOU is intended to authorize or affect the use of private property or is intended to be the basis for the exercise of any new regulatory authority.”

This statement appears to alleviate the concerns that property owners might have, but in fact it does nothing of the sort.  It is a mere declaration of intentions.  If it said "Nothing in this MOU SHALL authorize or affect the use of private property, NOR SHALL IT be the basis for the exercise of any new regulatory authority" then it would mean something.   As it is written, all they have to say is "well, that was not our intent, but we have discovered that more regulation is required in order to accomplish the goals of the program, and nothing in the MOU prohibits us from regulating, if that is what is needed to accomplish the program's goals."

When done correctly, some elements of what they are doing can be used in ways which benefit both landowners and the environment.  For example, a Conservation Easement program, when properly put together, can help protect a landowner from questionable use of Eminent Domain by connected corporations or ambitions local governments.   But the way they are doing it is from the top-down.  It's all wrong, on just about every level.

Several groups are working to oppose these grotesque intrusions, but the truth is there is very little we can do to stop just this program.  Sure we can ask our local officials to go on record as opposing it in their jurisdiction, but this only can set the stage for future pushback.  The fact is that we are going to need more comprehensive changes to our governance, back to the intent of the Founders and a strict adherence to the Constitution, in order to roll back not just this, but the many other excesses to which the American people have been subjected.  In the coming days, we will introduce an initiative in Arkansas which will be the essential first step in doing just that.

Mark Moore is an advocate of the philosophy of government known as "Localism" as described in the book "Localism, A Philosophy of Government." (and yes, you should look into it)
The E-Book for the Nook on Barnes and Noble
E-Book for the Kindle Reader on Amazon
E-Book for the KOBO/Blackberry

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why Polls Should Not Matter on PRISM and Government Spying on Citizens

"The government does not need to know more about what we are doing. We need to know more about what the government is doing. We need to turn the cameras on the police and on the government, not the other way around." - Ron Paul

Soon after the story broke that our government is scooping up meta-data on millions upon millions of U.S. Citizens the government-media complex released poll data suggesting that the majority of Americans were OK with it.  Were the questions asked using skewed language?  Of course.  Are the abuses much worse than is being generally reported in the media.  Of course.  But that's not the larger problem in this story.   The larger problem is that people are being conditioned to accept that polls even matter on issues such as these.  The should not.

The 4th amendment says that there will be no search and seizure of citizens without a warrant, and that the warrant will only be issued on probable cause, and that it will describe in the warrant exactly who or what the authorities are looking for in the warrant.  None of that was done here.  The government just scooped up the records.   None of the requirements of the fourth amendment were met.   The Feds just helped themselves to the information.  And if they ever wanted even more information, they need not bother going to a real court, but a secret FISA court, set up in the Executive Branch to churn out vague warrants without too many questions.

The fourth amendment is in the Bill of Rights friends.  A "right" by definition is a claim by an individual against the government.  It is an area of life that, by mutual agreement in the compact which established the nation, is not subject to majority vote.     The will of the majority is not supposed to matter when you are talking about a right, because it is an area of life that was agreed on from the start to be "off-limits" to government.   

It does not matter whether or not the majority of Americans think I should be allowed to own a firearm, because its my right.  It does not matter if the majority does not approve of my religion, or of my speech.   Those things are supposed to be protected from government interference for the benefit of all of us.  Therefore it does not matter whether 56% of the voters think that what the government did was OK, because the Constitution says that its not OK.   The whole point of a right is that the majority opinion does not matter.  We are free as individual persons, we are not bound by the will of the collective in matters of rights.

The question that should be asked when the government violates what our Constitution recognizes as a right is "Do you think the government should be bound by the Rule of Law?" because that is the real issue here. The Rule of Law means that government has to follow its own laws.   If the government can do X even though the Constitution says that X is forbidden, then what are the limits government?   Government is tasked with upholding the law, and looses all moral legitimacy when it becomes itself lawless.  Not only that, but citizens loose all protection of the law from their government.  Instead of protecting the rights of citizens from private threats, government itself becomes the oppressor, government becomes the violator.

Of course, a virtuous population is the best defense against big government.   If the majority lose their understanding of rights and individual liberty then they will soon loose the essence of them. There is some hopeful news from the poll in that younger voters were far less likely to approve than older voters.  Older voters were schooled to view America and its government as a force for good.  That they get checks from this government each month only increases their ease with it.   Younger voters are far more appropriately cynical, and they are the ones who are getting deductions from their pay in order to finance the checks which go to the older voters as well.

The most depressing thing in the poll was the numbers on Democratic voters.   They displayed the symptoms of carbon-units who have surrendered their intrinsic human individuality in favor of assuming a herd-animal mentality.  In 2006 when Bush was doing looking at phone records, 61% of Democrats found it unacceptable.   In 2013 when Obama is doing it much bigger, and the threat from terrorism is much smaller, only 34% of Democrats found in unacceptable.  That is not the sort of intellectual consistency and integrity that I am going to be inclined to surrender any of my rights for.   A huge segment of our population have gone tribal.  Principle matters not, only the way the wind blows for the Great Man of the day.   That is just one reason why I, and you, should consider their opinions on whether or not it is acceptable for government to violate our rights as irrelevant.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Modern Humans Not in India Before Toba

Yes, I am taking a break from political stuff.  At times like this the blog becomes more a placemarker for stories which interest me personally.   Human Origins is one of them.   I am decidedly in favor of a more recent origin for humanity and for the genetic bottleneck which DNA sampling as determined narrowed our genetic diversity in the past.     One possible explanation for the bottleneck was a massive volcanic event called Toba.  This happened in India, roughly 70 thousand years ago.   Those arguing for a more recent origin of humans claimed that this was NOT the bottleneck event which our genes tell of, and that modern humans were not dispersed into Asia at that time.  The other side argued that they were, and that the Toba event was what winnowed the field.  This study of Indian DNA indicates that our ancestors had not made it to India at that time, supporting a more recent arrival of mankind and the bottleneck event.

It would not take much of a change in human mutation rates and assumptions about population sizes to make the numbers point to a VERY recent date for the arrival of modern humans.  Not a Bishop Usher type date, but not one that is a good fit for human evolution either.