Friday, July 3, 2015

God's "Invisible Hand" at The Battle of Long Island (an excerpt from my upcoming book)

In his inaugural address to Congress President Washington said,

“It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplication to that Almighty Being, who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States…No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency…We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.”

Led by General Washington, time and again the rag-tag American forces went up against the world’s most elite army and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. From Trenton to Princeton, Saratoga, Valley Forge, and on and on until Yorktown, American forces defied the odds, and the “invisible hand” to which Washington referred was always there.

There were far too many “coincidences” that benefited the Colonial Army—at least for those who experienced or witnessed such events—for things to be written off simply as good fortune. Of course, that is exactly what many modern historians do. Thus, for example, most Americans have never heard "the rest of the story” when it comes to the largest battle of the entire Revolutionary War.

The Battle of Long Island, the first major battle after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, was a victory for the British. However, the escape by the Americans was one of the most significant military achievements by the Colonial Army. It is also one of the greatest examples of divine intervention in American history.

Just prior to the American Declaration of Independence, in early June of 1776, the British began sending troop ships down from Canada with intention of taking New York. The British ships dropped anchor just off Staten Island. Over the period of the next several weeks and months the British had amassed a force of nearly 32,000 troops on Staten Island.

With a force of about 19,000, Washington was unsure whether the British would invade at Long Island or Manhattan. Thus, he chose to divide his forces.

Beginning early in the morning on August 22, 1776, thousands of British troops launched from Staten Island and in the matter of a few hours landed on Long Island. Though Colonials were stationed on the shore, the British landing went unopposed. The Colonial forces, consisting of Colonel Edward Hand’s Pennsylvanian Riflemen, retreated and by noon there were about 15,000 Red Coats on the shores of Long Island.

Three days later the Red Coats were reinforced by nearly 5,000 Hessians. Being misinformed of the British numbers, and thinking that perhaps the Long Island landing by the British was a ruse, Washington left his forces divided between Manhattan and Long Island. When the fighting on Long Island commenced on August 27, the Colonial forces numbered only about half the British and Hessian force that totaled nearly 20,000.

The fighting raged throughout the day, and soon the American forces were surrounded or overwhelmed. Two American regiments led by General William Alexander—known as Lord Stirling because of his Scottish ancestry—consisting of the 1st Delaware and the 1st Maryland Infantry, became cut off and trapped. Stirling ordered his forces to retreat behind the fortified American position on Brooklyn Heights.

A contingent of several hundred Maryland troops, known today as the Maryland 400 (which may have been only about 250), remained behind to protect the retreat. They battled British forces that were 10 times their number. Led by Stirling and a young major named Mordecai Gist, they fought ferociously and heroically. Several times (maybe as many as six), the Maryland 400 charged the British lines. They held the British off long enough for their comrades to reach safety. All but a handful would be killed or captured. Washington, observing the battle, remarked, “Good God, what brave fellows I must this day lose!” If not for such bravery, Washington would have lost his army that day.

Surrounded, hopelessly outnumbered, and with the East River behind them, Washington and his army waited for what was surely to be the final British assault that would finish off the trapped Americans. All afternoon of the 27th they waited. Dusk turned to dark and inexplicably the British forces, led by General William Howe, a distinguished and capable commander, defied all military logic and held their ground.

By the morning of the 28th, overcast skies moved in. By the late afternoon, rain began to fall. The British were settling in, digging trenches, and hoping for an American surrender. In addition to severely outnumbering the Americans, a significant contingent of the Royal Navy, led by General Howe’s brother, Admiral Richard Howe, waited at the mouth of the East river ready to sail in and rain cannon fire upon the trapped colonials.

However, the winds accompanying the storm that moved in kept the British ships safely away. As the night of the 28th came, General Howe continued to wait. All the waiting gave Washington time to develop a plan. It was desperate, and it was not popular among his senior officers. Washington had decided to evacuate his entire force of nearly 9,000 using small boats that he obtained from General William Heath who was stationed between Manhattan and what is now the Bronx.

The task was enormous and fraught with peril. At their current position, the East River was a mile wide. To be successful, the Americans needed stealth, time, deception, and wind to keep the Royal Navy away. By “chance” the last troops to reinforce Washington’s position were Colonel John Glover’s “Marvelous Men from Marblehead.” This company of 1,200 men was disciplined and well trained. They were also mostly seamen and fishermen. This meant that they were expert oarsmen and well capable of quietly rowing the necessary distance across the East River.

During the night, the storm moved out and there was no rain to help drown out the noise of the withdrawal. Silence was ordered. Additionally, some forces had to remain in place to keep the British deceived. One unit of such men, led by Colonel Edward Hand, mistakenly received orders to head for the shore. This left a gap in the American line that the British could have easily exploited. However, it went unnoticed by the Red Coats and, catching the error, Washington sent Hand’s men back into place.

As dawn was breaking, the evacuation was far from over. Major Ben Tallmadge, who would later become Washington’s chief intelligence officer (and who is a significantly portrayed in AMC’s Turn, the TV series detailing what is hailed as “America’s first spy ring”), and who was part of the rear guard protecting the retreat, noted

“As the dawn of the next day approached, those of us who remained in the trenches became very anxious for our own safety, and when the dawn appeared there were several regiments still on duty. At this time a very dense fog began to rise [out of the ground and off the river], and it seemed to settle in a peculiar manner over both encampments. I recollect this peculiar providential occurrence perfectly well, and so very dense was the atmosphere that I could scarcely discern a man at six yards distance…we tarried until the sun had risen, but the fog remained as dense as ever.”

The fog remained until the last Colonial left Long Island. It then lifted and the stunned British rushed to the river and began firing at the fleeing Americans, but it was too late. They were out of range and safely away. Virtually all Colonials who kept a diary of those events noted the fog and, like Tallmadge, gave credit where it was due. Nearly 9,000 Americans were evacuated with no loss of life or limb. According to witnesses, Washington was the last man to leave Brooklyn.

Had Washington and the large American contingent on Long Island been captured, it likely would have ended the war. However, "providential aid" prevailed.

The miraculous fog, the dawdling and seemingly blind British, the timely arrival of skilled oarsmen, and a helpful northeast wind that kept British ships out of the East River—these were too many “coincidences” to give credit to mere chance. Though technically the British were the victors in the Battle of Long Island—when the news reached London there was tremendous celebration—the Americans could not deny that the “invisible hand” of the “Almighty Being” was clearly present on Long Island and had delivered them from what looked like certain defeat.

Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Monday, June 29, 2015

Marriage: Where Do We Go From Here?

With a liberal court, we get the rulings we deserve. Or, in other words, elections have consequences. It's safe to say that without the election of Barack Obama, we would not have had to endure liberal Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor sitting in judgement of marriage. (Both appointed by Obama in his first term, and both voting to legally redefine marriage.) Of course, the election of a republican, especially the likes of John McCain, gives no guarantee of conservative appointments to the Supreme Court. However, justices Roberts and Alito, appointed by George W. Bush, both voted against this sweeping perverse ruling on marriage. All of those who voted for Obama have their fingerprints on the tyrannical judicial travesty that resulted in the legal redefinition of marriage.

As many, including the President of the United States, taunt the truth and celebrate sin, there is still much to be done for those who are determined to stand for marriage as our Creator gave it to us. After the ruling, as Rush Limbaugh discussed on his program on the day of the ruling, many conservative minded Americans were discouraged and upset. Many Americans are now wondering what to do.

First of all, in a time where, as even Rush noted, “there is a spiritual war going on where truth is no longer truth,” we are to be bold and faithful witnesses to the truth on marriage and sexuality. For Christians, as we live our lives as followers of Jesus, and as we examine the world around us and the areas where we have influence, we should always be on the lookout for our opportunities to shine light into darkness. Thus, as a witness for the truth, one thing we should always be asking ourselves is, “What are the sins with which we are most struggling?”

Likewise, pastors, as they prepare their sermons, should always be asking, “Where is the enemy at work in attempting to deceive my congregation?” Or, as another pastor has put it, “What are your people’s idols?” Of course, this should lead us to ask where the enemy is at work in the culture at large. As has been clear for decades now, within the moral realm in our culture, the conflict is almost exclusively about sex.

As I noted on the day of the infamous ruling, we cannot blame this entirely on liberals and liberalism. Sadly, the U.S. Supreme Court giving legal status to same sex “marriage” also reflects a tragic failing of the church. We have ignored the fundamental truths on marriage, sexuality, and the family for too long. Homosexuality has a long way to go before it can inflict the damage done by promiscuity, pornography, adultery, abortion, fornication, and divorce.

And we can’t simply point out the sexual immorality of others. We must also be quick to discuss our own struggles with sin, especially those in the sexual realm, as situations call for it. Additionally, filled with peace, love, joy, and the like, we must live out what is right and true.

As Rick Warren put it late last year, celebrate healthy marriages (especially in churches). Don’t simply be an opponent of what’s wrong, be a proponent of what’s right. Our lives, whether single or married, should be an example of what a walk with Christ looks like so others are drawn to Him whether they hear us say anything about Him or not.

Specifically, on marriage and sexuality, if you are married, commit as husband and wife to remain faithful in all that the Bible reveals on the holy covenant of marriage. Namely, commit to remain faithful to one another and keep the marriage bed pure. Commit to remain married until your earthly union is dissolved by death. Furthermore, as a union of one man and one woman, commit to allow God to use your union as He sees fit to build His Kingdom.

Also, commit to model and to teach others the truth on marriage and sexuality. Namely, that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life and that the only rightful place for sex is within marriage.

Likewise, if you are single, commit to remain faithful to all that the Bible reveals on the holy covenant of marriage. Namely, while unmarried, commit to keep yourself sexually pure and model and teach this behavior to those in your circle of influence. Furthermore, commit to allow God to use you as a single person as He sees fit to build His Kingdom, and commit to model and to teach others the truth on marriage and sexuality. Namely, that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life and that the only rightful place for sex is within marriage. (All of this is in the “Marriage Commitment Challenge.”)

Second, those with a higher profile in the culture, those in leadership or who have a wide circle of influence, have a greater responsibility in this matter and all such matters. To whom much is given, much is required. Of course this means pastors, but also politicians, pundits, business leaders, famous athletes, musicians, producers, actors, authors, bloggers, educators, and so on. In other words, we need Christians in the culture at large to tell and model amazing stories on marriage and sexuality. As Rick Warren said, “Whichever side tells the best stories wins.”

There can be little doubt that to a great extent, the deception on homosexuality, marriage, and gender has occurred because of the efforts of liberals in politics, the media, and so on. Not only that, but as most of us well know, the traditional family has been mercilessly attacked in the media. As American Thinker noted recently, this is especially the case with fathers. As Rick Moran put it, “Hollywood has made a deliberate effort to undermine the patriarchy by savaging fatherhood.” This has been the case for decades now.

Christian conservatives, and our like-minded friends, have not done enough to counter this. For example, recently my wife and I, along with our four kids, attended a Christian concert. Several popular contemporary Christian artists performed. There was a lot of great (but too loud!) music that focused our hearts and minds on God. However, there was nothing said or sung that focused on marriage and family.

Similarly, there is more than one Christian radio station in our area (northeast Georgia) to which we frequently listen. I hear almost nothing from the hosts, guests, artists, and so on, when it comes to marriage and the family. Surely they are not shying away from the truth out of fear of “offending” their sponsors or audience. Similarly, famous athletes and other entertainers who believe what the Bible teaches on marriage and sexuality need to exercise their First Amendment rights (while they remain!) on these matters. (Like the NFL’s Ben Watson.)

Third, if you are a Christian parent, when it comes to your witness to the truth, you have no greater responsibility on this earth than your children. In other words, every parent is in youth ministry. There’s a reason millennials are the group most likely to support a perverse redefinition of marriage. Decades of divorce and out-of-wedlock births have led to tens-of-millions of U.S. children growing up in homes without both parents. Thus we now have millions of young Americans whose notion of marriage and family has been tragically distorted. This trend must be reversed.

Fourth, we need to be ready to minister to those who suffer from the sin of homosexuality. As the decades have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court foolishly attempted to redefine life in Roe v. Wade, science, technology, and human experience have revealed what sound morality has always taught: life in the womb is just that. Just a few weeks after conception, we can now literally witness, through sight and sound, the miracle of life in the womb.

The horrible images (warning: graphic) of post-abortive children have been seared into the consciences of tens-of millions. The testimony of regret of millions of women who were deceived by the abortion industry has helped shine light into a deep and ugly darkness. Yes, abortion remains legal and as brutal as ever, but restrictions abound and are growing. Crisis pregnancy centers have ministered to tens-of-millions and saved the lives of millions.

There is no getting around it: the wages of sin is death. If we linger in sin, we are going to reap suffering. This is certainly true with sexual immorality. Disease and death literally await those enslaved in the homosexual lifestyle. And how can we measure the broken hearts of those who have departed from their Creator’s plan on marriage and sexuality? As has happened in the pro-life movement, the Christian community must equip ourselves like never before to minister to those who are broken by the sin of homosexuality.

Last, conservative politicians need to act. We need a constitutional amendment that properly defines, or allows states to properly define, marriage. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has been at, or very near, the top of my list of 2016 presidential candidates. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to redefine marriage, again justifying my high opinion of him, Walker issued a statement declaring, “Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges ‘has been with us for millennia.’”

He added that, “the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.” As Rush noted, whether it’s Obamacare, marriage, spending, and so on, far too often conservative politicians make no efforts “whatsoever to deal with the assaults and the attacks that are relentless and daily from the left.”

If your congressional representatives at the state and federal level can’t stand up for marriage, they do not deserve your vote. However, a constitutional amendment isn’t the “only alternative left” when it comes to marriage. As implied at the beginning of this piece, Americans need to elect a conservative to the office of U.S. President. If liberal justices can be replaced by conservative ones, the Supreme Court can reverse itself.

Again, marriage is the oldest institution in the history of humanity--older than God's covenant with the nation of Israel, older than The Law, older than the church. Marriage is one of the earliest truths revealed by God. If ANYTHING is true, marriage as the union of one man and one woman is true. On this, there can NEVER be compromise.

Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Friday, June 26, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court Abandons the Eternal Truth of Marriage

Of course, I will have more to say on this later, but as I have often done before, and as I will do until I die, let me once again defend the biblical view of marriage and sexuality. (More here, here, here, here, here, and here.) (Yes, that’s 27 links. I dare you to read them all.)
In case you need a reminder, this is what a family is supposed to look like.
Whatever the Supreme Court of the United States is, it is NOT (PRAISE GOD!!!) the final arbiter of eternal truth. However, make no mistake about it, the SCOTUS's ruling today that makes same-sex "marriage" the law of the land across the U.S. is a powerfully historic and tragic moment in American history. With the vote of five foolish Justices deceived by a foul wickedness, we have now officially gone the way of Sodom and Gomorrah. 

Of course, as many have noted in recent days, all is not lost. This just means that we--the church, the hands and feet of Jesus--have even more work to do. Sadly, today's ruling also reflects a tragic failing of the church. We have ignored the fundamental truths on marriage, sexuality, and the family for too long. However, this doesn't mean that we are to tuck our tails and accept defeat. Our witness to these eternal truths is more important now than ever. (See: The Marriage Commitment Challenge.) Again, on marriage, we can NEVER give in!

Sadly, obedience to the eternal truths of God may mean that we now run afoul of the civil laws of our land. Many Americans are going to have to make hard choices about whom they are going to obey. It will cost some of us our jobs, and for others, the loss of a job may be only the beginning of the suffering that results from standing for the truth on marriage. As a public school teacher in the state of Georgia, let me say right now: I will NEVER affirm homosexual relationships as normal and healthy, and I will continue to take all opportunities to live and tell the truth on marriage and sexuality.

I'll again close with this: Marriage is the oldest institution in the history of humanity--older than God's covenant with the nation of Israel, older than The Law, older than the church. Marriage is one of the earliest truths revealed by God. If ANYTHING is true, marriage as the union of one man and one woman is true. On this, there can NEVER be compromise.

P.S. With a liberal court, we get the rulings we deserve. Or, in other words, elections have consequences. It's safe to say that, without the election of Barack Obama, we would not have to endure liberal Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor sitting in judgement of marriage. (Both appointed by Obama in his first term, and both voting to legally redefine marriage.) Of course, the election of a republican, especially the likes of John McCain, gives no guarantee of conservative appointments to the Supreme Court. However, justices Roberts and Alito, appointed by George W. Bush, both voted against this sweeping perverse ruling on marriage. All of those who voted for Obama have their fingerprints on today's judicial travesty.

Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Confederate Flag and the Liberal Mob

I’ve lived in northeast Georgia all of my life. My congressional district is the Georgia ninth. According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, my district is the third most conservative in the nation. I’m nearly 46 years-old, and the northeast part of Georgia has been very conservative for a long time. Of course, I would have it no other way.

That being said, I’ve never been much of a fan of the Confederate battle flag. I’ve never purchased an item—t-shirt, bumper sticker, car tag, and so on—emblazoned with the Confederate battle flag. And as far as I can remember, I’ve never displayed it at any time or at any place on my personal property.

I recall once during my later teenage years, or perhaps my early twenties, while an undergraduate student, and while working on the landscaping crew at an upscale area golf course, I vocally expressed my disdain for the Confederate battle flag. It was not unusual to see pickup trucks around my small town cruising around with the Confederate battle flag proudly—and oftentimes largely—displayed. I saw such actions as rather foolishly “redneckish” and said so. From that day on, my fellow landscapers affectionately dubbed me as “Reb.”

Though I’ve grown to embrace much of my “redneck” heritage, the Confederate battle flag is a symbol that I still largely reject. It doesn’t offend me when I see it, and I don’t immediately label those who choose to display it as “racists.” However, I know enough history, and I’ve seen enough real racism to understand what the Confederate battle flag means to those who see it as a symbol of such.

Make no mistake about it, as author and Christian apologist Jim Denison recently pointed out, “It is a fact of Civil War history that the flag was originally associated with the institution of chattel slavery. And it is a fact of recent history that the flag continues to signify racism for many.” Denison cites James M. Coski, the historian at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia and an author of a “definitive work on the Confederate flag.”

As Denison’s piece notes, “According to Coski, ‘African-American slavery was inextricably intertwined with white southerners’ defense of their own constitutional liberties and with nearly every other facet of southern life.’ He concludes: ‘Descendants of the Confederates are not wrong to believe that the flag symbolized defense of constitutional liberties and resistance to invasion by military forces determined to crush an experiment in nationhood. But they are wrong to believe that this interpretation of the flag's meaning can be separated from the defense of slavery.’”

And as historian David Barton notes, it is revisionist history to conclude that the South did not go to war over slavery. He concludes that, “the South’s desire to preserve slavery was indisputably the driving reason for the formation of the Confederacy.” (The link is well worth the read.)

Nevertheless, as Selwyn Duke has already deftly informed us, Dylann Roof’s wicked acts should have nothing to do with whether or not an individual, a business, or a municipality decides to display, peddle, or hoist the Confederate battle flag. The reasons for making such a decision have been around for decades. To suddenly decide now to cast the Confederate battle flag upon the trash heap of history is to submit to the liberal mob. And submitting to a liberal mob only creates more incentive for the next mob action.

As Ann Coulter has gone into great detail about, whether Myth-making (“this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries”), contradictory thinking (“Muslims don’t need to apologize for the Tsarnaevs.” – “White America must answer for the Charleston church massacre.”) creating messiahs, turning those who disagree with you into opponents, simple-mindedness, inability to grasp logic, or speaking in slogans (“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!”), the liberal mob is always on the look-out for the next opportunity to further its agenda.

Because liberalism generally rejects the notion of absolute truth, and because with liberalism it’s always about “the narrative,” the next opportunity could be almost anything: the ten-dollar bill, the Jefferson memorial, the use of “boys and girls”, the use of “wife”, and so on. Who knows where it will stop? Will we get another redefinition of marriage? Another redefinition of gender (along with another letter in the absurd LGBTQQIAP lexicon)? Will the American flag soon be a target?

As I’ve noted before, because their moral bar is so low and easily adjusted to whatever is politically popular, liberals today generally have an easier time “playing politics” than conservatives—especially Christian conservatives. In the not so distant past, many liberals had little problem embracing the Confederacy, along with its symbols, as long as it was a useful means to a political end. As has been well documented now, the Confederate battle flag is the legacy of democrats, not republicans.

This is not about democrats and republicans. This is about what is right and wrong. And relativists who operate by mob rule simply cannot be trusted with such.

(See this piece on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Another Mass Murderer From a Broken Home

Here we go again. It's not guns. It's not racism. It's not psychotic drugs. Easily the most common elements among American mass murderers are broken homes and sexual deviancy. Although there is not yet evidence that Dylann Roof was sexually troubled, his parents divorced several years prior to his birth.

Additionally, from the time he was about four, Roof and his sister were raised by Roof's father, Bennett Roof, and their stepmother, Paige Hastings. In 2008, when Roof was 14, Bennett and Paige went through a bitter divorce. According to the Washington Post, "Hastings, accused her husband of being controlling and physically abusing her, according to court records." Around the same time, young Dylann dropped out of school.

According to the UK Daily Mail, "Dylann, who was then 15, began to skip classes, did not finish high school and became unemployed - living ‘on and off’ with his father while he spent his days taking drugs and playing video games." Of course, as usual, in spite of this, the left insists that Roof killing nine Christian worshipers inside their church is the fault of conservatives.

The former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Democrat James Clyburn, told NBC's Chuck Todd, "I have been saying for some time now that my friends in the Congressional Black Caucus will tell you, I've been saying to them that there's this rightward drift in the country that I think is going too far. And people get emboldened by all of this."

As I've said recently and more than once,

How ironic and backwards is it that the politics of those who tell us that children in the womb aren't really human, humans with a penis and the Y-chromosome aren't really men, white is black, the criminals are the good guys and the police the bad guys, marriage is not the union of one man and one woman, student loans don't have to be repaid, blizzards are evidence for global warming, and who has given us funding for blasphemous art, the removal of school prayer, the removal of the Ten Commandments, and constitutional rights for pornography, now tells us it's the right’s fault when a deranged young man goes on a killing spree? I submit to you that the evil deeds of Mr. Roof are much more a product of progressive values and influences than conservative ones.
And instead of guns, the most common elements of the worst among us are broken homes and sexual deviancy. One reason liberals can’t stand to hear such information is that it defies a government solution. The left would much rather rant against firearms and seek legislation to restrict them. 
Additionally, liberals in the United States have been complicit in the breakdown of the family and the spread of sexual immorality. Whether divorce, fornication, marriage, prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, and so on, for decades now, in the name of “sexual freedom,” liberals have called what is evil good, and what is good evil. They have preached, promoted, and even passed legislation in defense of these "values."
What's more, as noted by a few in the conservative media, the ten most violent cities in the U.S. are all led by democrats. As most would deduce by the use of common sense, (but I’ll provide you with the data anyway) large U.S. cities in general are significantly more violent that rural areas. According to CDC data, nearly 60% of gun homicides in the U.S. occur in the 62 cities of the country’s 50 largest metro areas. 
Of course, the political machine in most every large U.S. city is dominated by democrats and each of the 12 largest U.S. cities are led by democrats.
It is really uncanny. Never allowing a crisis to go to waste, virtually every time one of these sin-sick killers goes on a spree, liberals just can't seem to help themselves when it comes to blaming conservatives and holding themselves up as having the political answers that the country needs. Yet almost always the murderers are the product of liberal "values."

Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Saturday, June 20, 2015

If You're a Social Liberal, You're a Liberal

As liberalism continues to promote bondage of one form or another—financial, sexual, and so on—and as liberals continue to wage war on the truth to the point that a seemingly never-ending number of Americans are living in a world where children in the womb aren't really human, where humans with a penis and the Y-chromosome aren't really men, where white is black, where the criminals are the good guys and the police the bad guys, where marriage is not the union of one man and one woman, where student loans don't have to be repaid, and where blizzards are evidence for global warming, it is becoming more important than ever that conservatives be able to distinguish themselves clearly from such nonsense.

Sadly, the lure of liberalism has proven too much for some otherwise well-meaning Americans, and what it means to be a conservative has become far too ambiguous. This is especially the case when it comes to the “social issues.” In spite of much evidence to the contrary, for many years now the GOP has been told that it’s time to capitulate on, or abandon, the social issues.

This is especially the case with libertarians. A few months ago, libertarian Neal Boortz went on another rant against the time and attention GOP candidates give the social issues. Abandoning the social issues has long been a favorite idea of libertarians. Unable to win elections on their own, they continuously attempt to pull republican candidates leftward on abortion, homosexuality, marriage, and the like.

Recently, though less combatively, libertarian Greg Gutfeld from Fox’s The Five, also lamely attempted to push republicans into dropping their opposition (those republicans who still bravely maintain such opposition) to same-sex “marriage.” He went so far as to use the “born that way” myth, and even suggested that same-sex “marriage” was a conservative idea. It seems that Mr. Gutfeld and those like him need to hear a good definition of what it means to be a conservative.

Of course, some of the best definitions for “conservative” or “conservatism” have been around for decades, or even centuries, and are still in much use today. In Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union Address, a 7,000-word speech where he argued against expanding slavery into the western territories, and the speech that some believe won him the presidency, Lincoln asked, “What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?”

In a 1977 speech to CPAC, Ronald Reagan said, “Conservative wisdom and principles are derived from willingness to learn, not just from what is going on now, but from what has happened before. The principles of conservatism are sound because they are based on what men and women have discovered through experience in not just one generation or a dozen, but in all the combined experience of mankind…the principles we hold dear are those that have been found, through experience, to be ultimately beneficial for individuals, for families, for communities and for nations—found through the often bitter testing of pain or sacrifice and sorrow.”

A recent Townhall column asked, “Who is Really a Conservative?” The columnist looked to Calvin Coolidge—“perhaps the most conservative president of the last century.” Coolidge noted that in America’s founding documents, “there resulted the recognition that freedom was a birthright. It was the natural and inalienable condition of beings who were created ‘a little lower than the angels.’ With it went the principle of equality, not an equality of possessions, not an equality of degree, but an equality in the attributes of humanity, an equality of kind. Each is possessed of the divine power to know the truth.”

The columnist also quotes conservative commentator Dennis Prager, who defines conservatism “by what he calls ‘The American Trinity,’ which preserves three fundamental truths. First, ‘In God We Trust’ is the foundation for the rule of law. Manmade laws are designed to protect God-given human rights. From that, ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ a unified and diverse people are encouraged to live peaceably, with ‘liberty’ in their pursuit of happiness.”

If you’re looking to define conservatism—and for that matter, what conservatism is not—you had better take into account what Rush Limbaugh has to say on the matter. After a week off from his top-rated talk show, Rush returned this week, and one of the first things he addressed was an email that he received while on vacation. Evidently the email linked to a Business Insider piece entitled, “Wall Street is getting tired of funding socially conservative Republicans running for president.”

The piece begins, “For years, when it came to presidential candidates, Wall Street made huge compromises in order to support the Republican Party. The money men in New York City set aside their socially liberal views in order to support fiscally conservative candidates because that was the only way to get on the same page as the GOP base. The result has been a series of candidates Wall Street's big donors didn't really want. It seems those donors are getting tired of that outcome.”

Responding to the piece, Rush said, “This irritates me to no end. I've had—as I've reported to you on several occasions here—many of my Republican friends over the course of the years have also said the same thing to me as though somehow I'm the leader of the social movement aspect of the Republican Party. They come up to me and they practically wag their fingers at me. ‘We just can't win. We got get rid of the social issues.’”

Of course, “socially liberal” almost always implies issues that reside within the sexual realm. Thus, as I’ve noted before, “social issues” is a bit of a misnomer. We’re really talking about “moral issues.” Those who want to focus on government spending, job creation, or other conservative fiscal policies often fail to realize that the morality that tells us that “It is no act of charity to be generous with someone else’s money,” is the same morality that tells us that it is wrong to kill a child in the womb, and that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

Thus, in spite of all the science and the sound morality that reveal otherwise, if you’ll cave when it comes to the life of the most helpless among us—a child in the womb—and if you’ll cave on the oldest institution in the history of humanity, the institution at the foundation of every culture that has ever existed, the real question is, how can you be trusted on ANY issue? In other words, if you are a liberal on the most important moral issues of our time, then you are not a conservative.

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

“Drive-By” Default: Lee Siegel’s Financial Advice Should Come as No Surprise

Chalk this one up to yet another New York Times liberal who wants others to pay his bills. (Paul Krugman must be proud.) On the 71st anniversary of what some considered the most important day of the twentieth century, a day where thousands of men, for the sake of others, paid with all that they had, the opinion pages of The New York Times ran the “brave” piece, “Why I Defaulted on My Student Loans.” (I suppose the author will receive the Bruce Jenner award for courage.)

The piece is by Lee Siegel. On what I’m sure is his well-guarded Wikipedia page, Mr. Siegel is described as writer and “cultural critic.” He is lauded as “one of the most eloquent and acid-tongued critics in the country” and hailed by The New York Times Book Review for his “drive-by brilliance.”

In describing his financial delinquency, Siegel begins by not remembering the institution which four-decades prior, seemingly lured him and his mother into signing away his life. Siegel began his college career at a “small private liberal arts college,” which, by the end of his sophomore year, required him to take out a second loan. After his father’s bankruptcy and his parents’ divorce, Siegel had to transfer to a state college in New Jersey. Ashamed that his academic career had taken such a turn and because he thought he “deserved better,” Siegel dropped out of the state school and went to work selling shoes.

To pursue his dream of being a writer, Siegel later entered Columbia University. Though not mentioned specifically in the piece, Wikipedia notes that in addition to his undergraduate degree from the Columbia University School of General Studies, Siegel obtained his master’s degree and Master of Philosophy from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. That’s three different colleges or universities and three degrees from a very expensive private university.

Also noticeably absent from The Times piece is any mention of income-producing work in the midst of his academic studies. In the significant fallout that was the result of what even the liberals at Vox called a “terrible idea,” Siegel said that though his debt was from the time he spent at all three schools he attended, his tuition at Columbia was paid for. Presumably then, the debt he incurred while at Columbia was to pay for living expenses.

One thing that Siegel does make clear in his op-ed is that after finding himself in the career that he wanted (a writer), which “opened a new life to me beyond my modest origins,” he is confronted with the fact that such a life was not going to allow him easily to get out from under the “crippling debt” he had amassed. Siegel bemoans the fact that “the education system was now going to call in its chits and prevent me from pursuing that new life, simply because I had the misfortune of coming from modest origins.”

Of course, as the title of Siegel’s piece makes clear, his solution to his “crippling debt” is simply not to repay it. He justifies his default by concluding that, though the “social arrangement” that is the current student loan industry might be legal, it is “not moral.”

I love it when liberals make an appeal to morality to justify their desires or behaviors. Not because I derive some perverse pleasure from their misguided arguments, but as we live our lives—going to school, going to work, attending church, entering into relationships, marrying, raising children, starting businesses, voting, making law, (participating in all of this, none of it, or somewhere in-between), and so on—the morality that directs such a life is profoundly important. And thus, I wonder, and get to ask: Upon what moral code is Siegel relying as he makes his arguments against the current student loan industry?

Is it the same moral code that tells him it’s okay to kill children in the womb, and that homosexual behavior is normal and healthy? Is it the same moral code that reveals that same-sex “marriage” is a right that any two (or three or more) consenting adults should have? Is it the same moral code that says that mankind is warming the planet and that governments across the world must decisively act to save us from climate devastation? Of course it is, and thus no one should be surprised at Siegel’s inane monetary moralizing.

This is especially the case for his liberal cohorts, as Siegel’s financial advice is right in line with the rest of liberal ideology. In fact, through one means or another, for decades across America, liberals have essentially preached the same financial message as Siegel: pay little attention to how much you borrow; pursue your “dreams” at all costs; look to the government to provide you with as much sustenance for life as possible; when that isn’t enough, demand that someone else be taxed so that you can have more. (Siegel, of course, advocates for a “universal education tax that would make higher education affordable” and longs for the government to “guarantee a college education.”)

My wife and I are both over 10 years younger than Mr. Siegel, and between us we have five college degrees. We both worked as we attended college and graduated with very little debt. In fact, as I’ve noted before, through applying the Christian principles of money management (as taught by the late-great Larry Burkett), Michelle and I have lived the last 16 years of our lives completely debt free.

This includes owning our home (never having a mortgage), always paying cash for vehicles (though always buying used), educating our four children in a private homeschool academy (in addition to piano lessons, karate, and the like), and so on. For the most part, all of this is done on a teacher’s salary. We budget, we save, we invest, we give, we coupon, and so on. Most of all, we realize that all we have is the result of what was given to us by our Creator, and we are simply trying to be good stewards.

Like Mr. Siegel (shockingly, he’s writing a memoir about money), we’ve (mostly Michelle) written a book detailing our financial story, which includes a great deal about debt (though we recommend you always repay what you borrow), and the three-and-a-half-year process of building of our home debt free. (See a couple of videos on our financial story here.) Our book is on my site, Amazon, and other online retailers.

As we discuss debt in our book, we make special note of student loan debt, and how so many Americans have become far too comfortable with large amounts of debt early in their lives. No doubt that there needs to be reform, financial and otherwise, in America’s system of higher education. In many cases, college in the U.S. is far too expensive, and far too much deception exists about what a college education can do for an individual. However, most of this corruption is due to the efforts of big government liberals.

Thanks in large part to liberal policies in financing education, in recent decades we’ve seen massive increases in the cost of higher education. As Mona Charen noted last year, “For decades, politicians have bought votes with promises to make college ‘more affordable.’ They passed legislation with names such as ‘The College Cost Reduction and Access Act’ (link is mine) and the ‘Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act’ (link is mine). There are Pell Grants and Stafford Loans, and much more besides.”

Unsurprisingly, as Charen also notes, such subsidizing has led to an enormous rise in the tuition and fees charged by colleges and universities. According to Anya Kamenetz in $1 Trillion and Rising, “Since 1978, the cost of college tuition has increased faster than the consumer price index in every single year. That’s not true for any other item in the basket of consumer goods.”

And as I noted in 2012, “The cost of tuition and fees has increased faster than healthcare costs. According to the Department of Education, if these trends continue, by 2016 the cost of a public college will have more than doubled in just 15 years. University of Tennessee law professor, Glenn Harlan Reynolds, in his book The Higher Education Bubble, reports that, with the easy availability of federal funds, tuition and fees have gone up over 440% in the last 30 years.”

We hear almost nothing from liberals today, whether politicians, or pundits like Siegel, that would stem the tide of such increases. In other words, just as is the case with campus sexual assault, when it comes to the cost of college, Siegel is bemoaning what his politics have helped to create.

(See this column at American Thinker.)

Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Saturday, June 13, 2015

I'm Now Married to an African-American

Summertime in Georgia--even the mountainous northeast part of the state where we reside--is typically an exercise in ways to avoid or endure the humidity. Thus, with a six year-old, nine year-old, 11 year-old, and 13 year-old, we make as many trips as possible to the pool or lake. We usually also make one trip to Six Flags over Georgia and one trip to the Georgia coast.

In spite of what the title here implies, each of our four children--along with my wife and I--are as pale as paper plates. Thus, as we spend June, July, and part of August baking in the Georgia sun, a healthy layer of sunscreen is vital to our survival. Otherwise, we look like a six-pack of defectively striped peppermint candy-canes. Yet, in spite of our deep whiteness, my wife Michelle has decided to embrace her mother's birth heritage and now identify as an African-American.

My mother-in-law was born and raised in Nigeria, thus by any reasonable measure, my wife is half African-American. And of course, our children are one-quarter such. As would any reasonable parents who have embraced our type of thinking, we will allow our children to decide how to identify themselves.

Michelle (on the right) with her sister Suzanne.
Shamefully, it seems that the parents of Rachel Dolezal have not embraced such thinking. In case you missed it, Dolezal is the Nordic-Aryan, born in Montana, who for years now has identified as an African-American. Ms. Dolezal's African-American identity runs so deep that she has developed a stellar record as head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP. She also teaches "Africana Studies" at Eastern Washington University.


(The photo on the left shows Ms. Dolezal as a girl. The photo on the right is a more recent picture of the 37 year-old.)

In spite of being born to parents about as white as Michelle and me, it seems that Dolezal has lived as an African-American for nearly a decade. According to the Daily Mail, "As time went on, their daughter began sounding African American on the phone and then she started to 'disguise herself' from around 2007, her parents said." Dolezal's father told the Washinton Post, "When Rachel applied to Howard University to study art with a portfolio of 'exclusively African American portraiture,' the university 'took her for a black woman' and gave her a full scholarship." Her identity change has been so convincing that CNN described her as "one of the most prominent faces in Spokane, Washington's black community."

Of course, in the world where the children in the womb aren't really human, where humans with a penis and the y-chromosome aren't really men, where marriage is not the union of one man and one woman, where student loans don't have to be repaid, and where blizzards are evidence for global warming, it seems that Rachel Dolezal would fit right in.

However, many on the left are not happy with her. Sean Davis of The Federalist asks, "If Rachel Dolezal Isn't Black, How Is Caitlyn Jenner A Woman?" When Davis got into a Twitter debate with the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart, Capehart condescendingly declared, "FTLOG ('For the love of God'), Caitlyn Jenner is not 'pretending' to be a woman. Move along..." Given who looks more the role of who they're "pretending" to be, I hope Mr. Capehart has no aspirations of becoming a TV or movie critic.

Capehart went so far as to call Dolezal "mentally disturbed." The headline at Salon read, "Stop making excuses for Rachel Dolezal: The Spokane NAACP official’s fraud is unforgivable." Doug Mataconis of Outside the Beltway said that those equating Jenner and Dolezal are not making "serious arguments." He adds, "[It's just] another attempt by social conservatives to demean transgender people, a phenomenon that has been quite prevalent on that side of the political spectrum over the past two weeks."

Expect such rhetoric to continue. However, also expect continued nonsense like ours and Ms. Dolezal's to reveal the lunacy of liberal thinking. As Winston Churchill put it, "The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but there it is."

Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tim Keller Reviews Matthew Vines' & Ken Wilson's Pro-Homosexual/Same-Sex Marriage Books

If I knew of Tim Keller before the last couple of weeks, my knowledge of him and his excellent ministry was brief and had escaped me. Since the death of my father-in-law, who was also our pastor, Michelle and I and our four children are looking for a new church to call home. The first church we've visited, Westminster Presbyterian, houses the home-school academy that our children attend.

We've never been a part of a Presbyterian congregation before. (I don't think either of us has ever even attended a Presbyterian church before two weeks ago.) The first Sunday we attended Westminster, the Sunday school class we visited was doing a study (on dvd) by Keller. I was impressed. Today, the study continued and the topic was suffering--very apropos given our recent tragic life experience. It seems that God wanted us to hear what Mr. Keller had to say.

After arriving home from church, as I was updating my headlines, on the Christian Post, I saw a headline referencing Keller's review of Matthew Vines' book, God and the Gay Christian, and Ken Wilson's book, A Letter to My Congregation. Again, for some reason it seems that God was wanting me to experience Mr. Keller's wisdom. (I figured that I had better link to this piece in my "Latest News/Commentary" section of my site!)

Both of these books make yet another attempt at explaining away biblical revelations, and centuries of church teaching, on homosexual behavior. Mr. Keller does another nice job of debunking Vines' and Wilson's heretical arguments. (Hear last year's debate between Vines and Dr. Michael Brown here. See a bit of my take on Ken Wilson here.) Here is Mr. Keller's full article (which the Christian Post does not provide).

Mr. Keller notes that there are six basic arguments that books like those by Vines and Wilson make. The first argument addressed by Mr. Keller is that many people have changed their mind on homosexuality due to getting to know people who are in homosexual relationships. This is also an issue that I've dealt with before myself.

Mr. Keller lovingly notes, "It is certainly important for Christians who are not gay to hear the hearts and stories of people who are attracted to the same sex." He also wisely notes, that, though some people whose minds were changed on homosexuality may have had bigoted views (i.e. giving more weight to homosexual sin than other sin) towards homosexuals, this does not change the Bible's clear message on homosexuality.

As I noted last year, Christians, and others who know better, should no more accept homosexuality based on getting to know a homosexual who seems a rather likable chap, than we are to accept abortion because we know a friendly Planned Parenthood worker. “Hate the sin and love the sinner” is much more than a well-worn platitude of Christianity. It is exactly how Christ taught us to win those who have turned from the truth.

Mr. Keller's complete review (self-described as "too brief") is well worth the read.

**As an additional note, my father-in-law David was a Vineyard pastor for the past 18 years. He made me aware of Ken Wilson's anti-biblical thinking around 2010. I engaged Ken online several times (including what was his personal blog at the time) on various topics and in various forums. Interestingly, Mr. Wilson's heresy seems to have begun, as has been the case for so many in the last 150 years, by compromising with Darwinian evolution. (See here.)

Despite his years-long slide into compromising biblical truths with secular lies, Ken remained a Vineyard pastor. This troubled me for years. It seems Ken's compromise with marriage and homosexuality was too much for the national Vineyard leadership. (There was an official response to his book last year.) As of January of this year, Ken is longer a part of the Vineyard church he founded in Ann Arbor Michigan. He is now co-pastor of Blue Ocean Faith in Ann Arbor. As the Blue Ocean website notes, "The church was founded by Emily Swan and Ken Wilson, who served as pastors at the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor (Ken was the founding pastor of that congregation) until the Vineyard denomination adopted policies that forbade full welcome and inclusion of same-sex couples."**

Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Liberalism's Struggle Against Reality

The Monty Python clip below captures perfectly the liberal mindset on the gender issue, and virtually every other moral and political issue of our time:


Stan the man with his mind filled with sand. Poster-child for today's liberalism.