Archive for the ‘unintended consequences’ Tag

Christianity Wanes   2 comments

Everywhere you turn these days, Christianity is on the wane. Islam is experiencing aggressive resurgence and people just aren’t going to church so much anymore. Islam is the second-fastest growing religion worldwide and will become the biggest religion during this century. We hear it from boosters of the Muslim community, from alarmists seeing the formation of the next caliphate, from anti-religionists who want to ban (or at least silence) all monotheistic, exclusivist religions (there are three, by the way). God is dying and His followers are not so much deserting the sinking ship, but sleeping in.

Sigh…

The reports of the death of Christianity are somewhat exaggerated! It is true that Islam (and atheism and universalism) is growing in the West. Most of the growth in Islam in America and Europe is do to the high birth rates among Muslims and immigration.

But …

Someone should inform the media that the United States and Europe are not the entire world. I think they call that ethnocentrism. Contrary to popular belief (driven by media misreporting), evangelical Christianity is exploding around the world.

There are about four dozen Chinese Christians attending my church. These are China’s best and brightest, professors, researchers  and graduate students from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, practioners of the hard sciences like geophysics. All but two of them (who are children) accepted Christ in China.

Yes, in China!

Offically, China remains an atheist country and official numbers of Christian conversions are suppressed by government authorities. China’s Protestant community had only 1 million members in 1949 when the communists took over, but some estimates put the current Christian population in China around 111 million. The underground evangelical movement is thought to be larger than the 75-million-member Chinese Community Party.

“By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon,” said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule. “It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change.” Prof. Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, believes that number will swell to around 160 million by 2025. By 2030, at current trends, China’s total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, making it the largest Christian nation in the world by mid-21st century.

The members at my church estimate 10,000 Chinese converts to Christianity every day. Most of the growth, they say, is in illegal house churches.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this,” Prof Yang said. “It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely.”

In What’s So Great About Christianity Dinesh d’Souza wrote that 80% of Christians in 1900 lived in Europe and the United States. Today, two out of three evangelicals live in Asia, Africa, and South America. South Korea now holds the title as the second-place country for sending out missionaries. The number one country is the United States, but we have six times the population and Korea is closing on us fast. In fact, Korea sends missionaries to the United States.

The religious makeup of the world is changing, but the media focus on the West distorts the reality of that change. Christianity, particularly evangelical Christianity, is spreading more evenly throughout the world and those non-Western-based churches have begun to recognize the need to evangelize the post-Christian West. Someday, soon, expect someone with broken English and a Bible to knock on your door and announce he’s from the Seoul International Baptist Church and he’d like to talk to you about the most important question you can ever ask.

College Road changes will improve safety – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Community Perspectives   Leave a comment

College Road changes will improve safety – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Community Perspectives.

Sounds so reasonable, but College Road now sees both lanes of the two-lane configuration being used. The turn lane is not meant to be used for passing or for faster traffic, so now you’ve forced everyone on the road to be stuck behind the slowest moving vehicle.

It is likely to cause MORE accidents, especially head-ons. That’s just common sense, that if you slow traffic down on a road that is built to go faster, the faster moving traffic will use that turn lane to get around slower moving vehicles and that will risk a head-on. Yes, the drivers will be held responsible, but in reality, it will be FMATS who caused the conflict.

We Are Family   Leave a comment

The extended Markham clan is loosely based in Seattle. They’re a prolific lot. A bunch of us cousins were standing around on my aunt’s deck during a family reunion about 25 years ago. Two were brothers – David and Bailey, there was Rick, myself and a couple others who do not play roles in the rest of the story.

David was an atheist working toward becoming a paleontologist. Bai was a biochemist getting a second masters in theology. Rick was a research doctor whose team had recently made a huge discovery in neurobiology.

Bai and David had each had a couple of beers and were starting to get on each other’s nerves. Young men, brothers and beer – not surprising.

When the insults got deep enough, I appealed to Bai’s Christian ethics to cool him down. David appealed to Rick, as the “real” scientist didn’t he agree that faith hopelessly tainted science? The agnostic Rick did not want to take sides, so he proposed a research project. He told me later that he thought they’d be uninterested, but somehow we all threw questions into a bowl. I am not even sure how I ended up included in the group. I’m not a scientist. Rick said that if I could understand their arguments, then they would be making sense. I was their control.

The 25-year journey of this group has strengthened my faith immensely because what I’ve learned is that God uses the arguments against Him to reveal Himself.

I will explore this in future posts.

Ranch Might Have Been US “Tahrir” Square   Leave a comment

Cliven Bundy speaks

I wasn’t available for comment this weekend, but the Bundy Ranch “stand-off” got my attention. I hope it got a whole lot of people’s attention.

Remember, I’m from Alaska. I’ve lived through some of the arbitrary federal rule-making that Mr. Bundy has had to deal with, so my perspective is from experience, not just vague knowledge like some people.

Thirty years ago, Alaska faced a similar show-down and we lost. Miners and homesteaders were told to follow rules that couldn’t be reconciled with good sense. They jumped through hoops. They did the best they could and still it wasn’t enough. It still isn’t enough. Small family mines closed, trappers gave up, farms went fallow. The Yukon River villages went lonesome. Thirty years ago, the only people who cared were other Alaskans and we couldn’t grab a microphone big enough to be heard on the national stage. Mr. Bundy and his neighbors were going through a similar set of circumstances and they got enough attention to get a name — the Sagebrush Rebellion — but not enough to change anything. Here in Alaska Joe Vogler managed to get on the docket to speak before the United Nations … and then was murdered a week before he was to go there.

Liberal presidents, conservative presidents — the wheels of destruction continued rolling forward at varying paces until the Obama Administration ramped up administrative fights into police and military battles. The miners of Eagle faced a similar government brown-shirt raid last year.

This time, though, something happened. The Obama Administration didn’t want to be seen as the American equivalent of Mubarek in Egypt so it backed down. That doesn’t mean the fight is over. It does mean we may finally have reached a tipping point. Instead of Ruby Ridge and Waco, we now have the Bundy Ranch, where for a brief shining moment, the American people made the federal government back down.

What’s next?

Governance by Idiots   1 comment

What is wrong with the American system of government?

Nothing and everything!

On the surface, the idea of self-governance is a wonderful one. I own myself, I should be allowed to make decisions for my community and my state and my nation. I believe that … in theory.

The problem with self-governance in the United States is that we rely too much on democracy, which is exercised by idiots, who think they want government services or laws that reduce the liberty of others (never themselves!) and then put despots into collective power which they then use to take away the very self-governance we were exercising.

There is nothing wrong with self-governance. There is nothing wrong with a certain degree of democracy. There is emphatically nothing wrong with liberty.

There is everything wrong with the misuse of self-governance, the tyranny of democracy and the redefining of liberty. In seeking to come together as communities within states within a nation, we have somehow lost our way.

Democracy puts everyone in control over everyone else’s liberty. When exercised by intelligent people in a strictly limited way, democracy might work, but the United States of America of the 21st century does not embody strictly limited representation by thoughtful people who recognize the rights of others. Democracy in the 21st century USA is rule by idiots and when idiots are in control, you can’t really be surprised when everything goes haywire.

Posted April 7, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Government

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Do We Still Feel Safe in Gun-Free Zones?   Leave a comment

We’re all reeling from the latest Ft. Hood shooting. It’s a tragedy. Four people are dead, including the shooter, and it seems so senseless, given that this was a military base where the employees presumably have small-arms training and are allowed to carry guns … in war zones.

Pause and think before you scream that we need to outlaw guns across the United States.

What does Ft. Hood April 2, 2014 have in common with the following:

  • Columbia, Maryland – The Mall – January 25, 2014
  • Nairobi, Kenya – Westgate Mall – September 21, 2013
  • Newtown, Connecticut  – Sandy Hook Elementary School – December 14, 2012
  • Washington DC Navy Yard – September 16, 2013
  • Aurora Colorado – Century Movie Theater – July 20, 2012
  • Cumbria, Great Britian – June 2, 2010
  • Killeen Texas – Ft. Hood Army Base – November 5, 2009
  • Winneden Germany – Albertville School – March 11, 2009
  • Virginia Technical College – April 16, 2007

 

Yes, they were all gun-free zones … until they weren’t. In Kenya, you have an entire country were both open-carry and concealed-carry firearms are banned.  Germany and Great Britain have much tighter handgun laws than the United States. Did it do them any good?

Now consider these other places —

  • San Antonio, Texas – San Antonia Movie Theater – December 16, 2013
  • Clackamas, Oregon – Clackamas Town Center – December 11, 2012
  • New York Mills, New York – AT&T – May 27, 2010
  • Richmond, Virginia – Golden Market – July 11, 2009
  • Salt Lake City, Utah – Trolley Square Mall – February 12, 2007
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado – New Life Church – December 9, 2007
  • Grundy, Virginia – Appalachian School of Law – January 16, 2002
  • Edinbor, Pennsylvania – Parker Middle School – April 24, 1998
  • Jackson Mississippi – Pearl High School – October 1, 1997

 

In some of these cases, the responder using a personally-owned firearm were off-duty or retired police officers, but in several of these cases they were just American citizens carrying concealed as they went about their lives.

Why don’t you know about these incidents? Because the carnage was stopped by a citizen before the body count got high enough to interest the media and … well, frankly, it might make you not feel so safe in a gun free zone.

Repeal 17th Amendment   Leave a comment

The Founding Fathers knew that in order to ratify a Constitution and preserve the struggling fledgling that was the confederation of the United States of America, it was essential that both the people and the states have representation in the new federal government.

To assure both democracy and federation, they split the legislative branch. The people would be represented by the directly-elected members of the House of Representatives. The separate states would each be represented by two officials appointed by the state legislatures. Therefore, the House would represent the people and the Senate would represent the states. Without a federalist system of divided, enumerated, and checked powers between the federal and state governments, no union would be possible – the states, wary of potentially losing their sovereignty to an all-powerful national government, would back out of the Constitution, and the world’s most free and prosperous nation would never have become a reality.

According to the Founders’ vision the U.S. senators served at the pleasure of the state legislatures. Because they did not have to stand for popular election at the end of each six-year term, senators could focus on the business of the Senate as it related to the state legislatures, while their lower house counterparts could channel the will of the people. Legislatures would “instruct” senators in what federal legislation they thought would be best for the state and when a senator “went rogue” (like Mark Begich did over the Affordable Care Act), the legislature could recall the offending senator and replace him with someone who understood his job.

In the early 20th century, the progressives argued that the federalist arrangement in place fostered corruption and excessive special interests in the Senate, and was undemocratic to boot. That claim is questionable, although it is true that many state legislatures had difficulty actually appointing senators. There were other remedies that would have preserved republican-federalist ideals, but the progressives used the new media to whip up public concerns about the “lack of democracy” and the “rampant corruption” of the state legislatures. The original intent of the Constitution was that we should be a constitutional republic with some democratic features, but under the cover of “democracy”, the federal Congress quickly passed the 17th Amendment, and sent it to the states for ratification, establishing direct election of U.S. senators. States no longer had any representation in Washington, and the amendment paved the way for even more corruption and special interest influence.

Today, we have a Senate that regularly passes legislation contrary to the interests of the states, because senators have no reason to consider their state’s interest when they pass legislation. This is why the House wasn’t allowed an official vote on the Affordable Care Act. The people didn’t want it and it could never pass there, but senators are beholding to the special corporate interests that got them elected, so they will vote according to the whims of their handlers. How would that vote have fallen out if the senators had been answerable to their state legislatures?

Perhaps most residents in your state opposed nationalized healthcare coverage, but both of your senators voted in favor. Why not? They can’t be recalled at moment’s notice by the state legislative branch, like they could 100 years ago. All they have to do is get enough votes from their citizens – or perhaps enough voter fraud – and they are safe for six years. Missouri may not want Obamacare and Wyoming may not want tough new gun control laws, but thanks to the 17th Amendment, it doesn’t matter what those states or the people who live in them want. Their senators will decide for those states what is actually good for them and pass it on a national level as if Alaska has something in common with New Jersey.

What if the 17th Amendment was repealed?

I don’t know about  your state, but here in Alaska about 60% of voters don’t belong to either of the major political parties. Our state legislature is majority Republican, but many of its members are conservative/libertarian in philosophy. So why is a liberal Democrat representing us in Washington? Because of corruption. Ted Stevens’ corruption and Mark Begich’s corruption and corporate corruption aimed at both of those men. Mark “won” his senatorial seat in 2008 by less than 2% of the vote against a man who had been (wrongfully) convicted of a federal felony two weeks before. That makes thinking people wonder what’s up. Why is Lisa Murkowski still our senator? Because of the nepotism that put her in office in the first place (daddy Frank was the governor and he appointed her) and the corruption that has kept her in office. She resoundingly lost the 2010 Republican primary, came back as a write-in candidate, got the support of the Democrats and was reelected even though nobody I’ve ever talked to (except her dad) thinks she’s a good representative for the people of Alaska.

Does your state have similar stories?

Corruption must be checked and the Senate should do the bidding of the state they represent- not special interests in London or Hong Kong. A constitutional republic operates under the rule of laws, not a rule of men, as does a democracy. The Founding Fathers – who had a far greater sensitivity to tyranny than today’s politician – dedicated one half of the legislative branch to the states for good reason.

By repealing the 17th Amendment, we would restore the federalist system that kept Americans free and prosperous.

I’m not guaranteeing that its repeal would restore liberty and prosperity, but it might be a step in the right direction.

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