The Ways of the World and God

Yesterday I recalled being bullied as a kid on several occasions. One instance stood out: some older kids tormenting me during a trip to another country. I asked one of them: "Why are you doing this?" A stunning reply came: "Because I am stronger than you. If our positions were reversed, if you were stronger than me, than you would bully me instead."

Interestingly, it never once occurred to me to resist with violence or even to fantasize about doing so. Now of course, I'd never permit this sort of abuse. I might call the cops. Even if I were not prepared to defend myself with deadly force, at the very least I might be able to bluff. I'd get a knife, and say to the bully: "If you touch me again, I'll kill you. I'll cut your throat. You will die and turn into a corpse. The only way to avoid this is for you to leave me alone. This will be your last and only warning."

Now consider Christ. St. Thomas writes about Him that

He did endure every human suffering. ... First of all, on the part of men: for He endured something from Gentiles and from Jews; from men and from women, as is clear from the women servants who accused Peter. He suffered from the rulers, from their servants and from the mob... He suffered from friends and acquaintances, as is manifest from Judas betraying and Peter denying Him.

Secondly, the same is evident on the part of the sufferings which a man can endure. For Christ suffered from friends abandoning Him; in His reputation, from the blasphemies hurled at Him; in His honor and glory, from the mockeries and the insults heaped upon Him; in things, for He was despoiled of His garments; in His soul, from sadness, weariness, and fear; in His body, from wounds and scourgings.

Thirdly, it may be considered with regard to His bodily members. In His head He suffered from the crown of piercing thorns; in His hands and feet, from the fastening of the nails; on His face from the blows and spittle; and from the lashes over His entire body. Moreover, He suffered in all His bodily senses: in touch, by being scourged and nailed; in taste, by being given vinegar and gall to drink; in smell, by being fastened to the gibbet in a place reeking with the stench of corpses, "which is called Calvary"; in hearing, by being tormented with the cries of blasphemers and scorners; in sight, by beholding the tears of His Mother and of the disciple whom He loved. (ST, III, 46, 5)

St. Thomas then goes on to argue that "the pain of Christ's Passion was greater than all other pains."

At that point, Jesus had a choice on whether to condemn us or to redeem us. And since He was perfect as both man and God, as two natures in one person, He would have been fully justified as a response to our murdering Him to blow up the Earth Star Wars-style, send every human being to hell, and spend eternity despising us and laughing at us.

And because this choice was -- had to be -- genuine, Jesus must have felt some attraction to this very course of action, namely to taking full-bodied revenge against us. But we know now that also in Him there was a drive that was stronger than this desire to take vengeance against the sinners, and that was His love and mercy for us.

God had not only a right to condemn us but every reason to do so. No impartial observer would have failed to understand and sympathize with Christ's decision to destroy the world.

The choice that Christ made, to redeem rather than condemn us -- the choice that He did not at all have to make -- and moreover keep forgiving us as we live indicates the glory of God the Son that is almost inconceivable. It suggests the goodness of God that cannot be surpassed. The decision was so difficult, and Christ was so conflicted that it took Him three days to sort things out. Only then did He "rise again in fulfillment of the Scriptures."

During this Christmas, meditate on the merit and glory of God who refused to condemn humanity in one swift stroke for our ultimate crime.

Why Am I Bothering to Save These People…

... who would hurt and destroy their fellow men, who feel a thrill when their boot stamps on a human face?

Vengeance and Justice

It is proper to bring vengeance upon those who refuse to submit to justice.

Torture, 2

We must always distinguish between good torturers and bad torturers. We, Americans, are the good torturers; they, whoever they may be, are bad.

Another Glass Ceiling Broken

Women are having nearly as many extramarital affairs as men.

Torture Can Be Justified…

... in abstract philosophical moral dilemmas, maybe, not in the real world by the real C-I-freaking-A.

Justice in War

There is no such thing, whether ad bellum or ad bello.

Torturing “Terrorists”

The people the CIA tortures are not "terrorists," as far as I am concerned, because their guilt was not proven in any court of law.

To say that being captured and tortured by the CIA is in itself a tell-tale sign that one is a terrorist is to beg the question.

Torture, 2

Whether a particular method of torture is effective at gathering useful intelligence is a technical question, to be resolved by the professional expert torturers in the employ of the CIA.

I have never tortured anybody and would have no opinion on how to do it most efficiently.

If you are picking a government agency to trust on the torture issues, why not the CIA?

War and Torture

If the premise that the government should start wars at its pleasure is admitted, the conclusion that interrogation of enemies of the state through torture is permissible follows naturally.

In a war, the military kills lots of people for no good reason. Being murdered by the military seems about as bad as being tortured by the CIA.

If people love the military and do things like constantly thank and praise the "veterans" for securing "their freedoms," then why wouldn't they be thanking and praising the CIA agents for supplying the intelligence that helps the war effort?

Garner

Yes, isn't it inconsistent for the left-liberals not to celebrate the death of a representative of the "evil" tobacco industry?

Militarized Cops

They are not only bad cops but bad soldiers, too.

John Goodman on Interventionism

In this important blog post, Goodman argues that government interventions that are direct, such as those that would prohibit individuals from drinking alcohol, are considered by the people to be intolerable invasions of liberty.

But indirect interventions, such as prohibiting sale and transportation of alcohol by business firms, though having identical effects, are treated as anodyne and even salutary.

Perhaps, people think the government is sticking it to the rich or "big corporations." They are deluded, of course: by ruining the ability of entrepreneurs to produce, the people still predictably harm themselves in their capacity as consumers.

It is the most general conclusion of the libertarian ideology that business, when left free, faithfully serves the consuming public in a way that cannot be improved upon. Regulation redirects the conduct of entrepreneurs away from satisfying the consumers toward satisfying government bureaucrats. This is anti-social.

But tell it to the leftists who (sometimes) decry the loss of individual "civil liberties," yet jump with joy at every decree intended to hamper private business.

Why the Scandinavians Are “Happy”

They are happy not because their desires have been satisfied, but because their desires have been extinguished by their egalitarian governments that have destroyed opportunities for these people to seek their happiness and improve their well-being.

They are happy as a stone is also content, without wills of their own.

In other words, theirs is the happiness of slaves.

Progress Report

I'm on Chapter 40 of what will be the 3rd edition of Summa Against the Keynesians, revising and improving a lot of good stuff.

I think a book of, as I now realize, such amazing ambition as this one needed a few more years to germinate in my mind.

Re: Dawkins

Science drops nuclear bombs on your city; religion makes you into a decent person and saves your soul.

Calling All Diabolical Elites Who Rule in Darkness

Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know that if you loosen your interventionist controls over the economy, then in a short enough long run, you, too, will benefit from the economy's forces of creative destruction unleashed.

For example, Mises argues:

In the countries that have not yet entirely abandoned the capitalistic system the common man enjoys today a standard of living for which the princes and nabobs of ages gone by would have envied him.

Compared with the standard of living of your own children 40 years from now under laissez-faire, you are precisely those very princes and nabobs. Let our people go, and you will not believe how much your own family's standard of living will increase soon enough as compared with perpetuating our semi-feudal status quo.

Concludes Mises:

The peace-loving humanitarian approaches the mighty potentate and addresses him thus: "Do not make war, even though you have the prospect of furthering your own welfare by a victory. Be noble and magnanimous and renounce the tempting victory even if it means a sacrifice for you and the loss of an advantage." The liberal thinks otherwise. He is convinced that victorious war is an evil even for the victor, that peace is always better than war. He demands no sacrifice from the stronger, but only that he should come to realize where his true interests lie and should learn to understand that peace is for him, the stronger, just as advantageous as it is for the weaker.

Come on, you evil friends. Our interests are in harmony! Let's build capitalism together:

What makes the existence and the evolution of society possible is precisely the fact that peaceful cooperation under the social division of labor in the long run best serves the selfish concerns of all individuals. The eminence of the market society is that its whole functioning and operation is the consummation of this principle.

The State and the Soldier

Remember Rothbard wrote that it's not the state that protects the citizens; it's the citizens who enlist as soldiers who protect the ruling elite:

Especially has the State been successful in recent centuries in instilling fear of other State rulers.

Since the land area of the globe has been parceled out among particular States, one of the basic doctrines of the State was to identify itself with the territory it governed. Since most men tend to love their homeland, the identification of that land and its people with the State was a means of making natural patriotism work to the State's advantage.

If "Ruritania" was being attacked by "Walldavia," the first task of the State and its intellectuals was to convince the people of Ruritania that the attack was really upon them and not simply upon the ruling caste. In this way, a war between rulers was converted into a war between peoples, with each people coming to the defense of its rulers in the erroneous belief that the rulers were defending them.

This device of "nationalism" has only been successful, in Western civilization, in recent centuries; it was not too long ago that the mass of subjects regarded wars as irrelevant battles between various sets of nobles.

Let me suggest that the government is laughing its ass off watching soldiers willingly and eagerly sacrifice their lives just to protect Obama, his chief lieutenants, and his connected crony capitalists.

The Caligula in Me

Sometimes I wish the federal government had one head, so I might cut it off at a single stroke.

Truth vs. Beauty

I could have sworn I made a note of it already, but truth conforms us to the reality that beauty transcends.

Truth is to beauty as science is to art. And art is technique and technology by another name.

Science shows us the natural world (which may incidentally be God's art), while technology improves upon it.

Hence, beauty is first among equals.