Wednesday night, Washington, D.C. – American Enterprise Institute & Heritage Foundation scholars, media members, writers, donors, Congressmen gather along with 20 CCU Washington Week students & faculty. The occasion; Arthur Brooks, president of AEI, is speaking about his new book, “The Road to Freedom”. The lecture focused on the battle between conservatives & liberals in the public square. Brooks explained that as president of AEI it is clear that the truth and statistical backing rests within the conservative ideas and policies. Despite this, the left is winning the battle. Brooks believes this quandary is caused by the failure of conservatives to make a strong moral argument for our beliefs and our ignorance of the neuropsychological proof that moral arguments affect human brains in a way far more powerful than solely logical arguments.
To illustrate the failure of strictly logical arguments versus a moral case Brooks tells a joke – ‘Three friends go out golfing; a psychologist, a priest and a free market economist. They find themselves playing behind two incredibly slow golfers. These golfers are painfully slow and are ruining the friends’ day at the golf course. After several holes of impatiently waiting behind these two men who are shooting upwards of 12 strokes per hole, the three ask the caddy to allow them to play through. The caddy replies “you guys are free to play through, but I want you all to be aware of how rude you’ve been… Remember the fire at the schoolhouse last year, and the two firemen who lost their sight while rescuing 13 children from the blaze? Well that’s them and this weekly golf game is their most coveted source of fun since losing their vision, and you three have been heckling them this entire time.” The psychologist replies, “Wow, here I’ve devoted my life to trying to help people and I just learned a valuable lesson today.” The priest says “Oh my, I have a contrite heart and I have been humbled by these two great men.” The free-market economist pauses for a moment, and then says, “It would be more efficient if they were to play at night!”’(Paraphrase Quote)
Clearly the economist in this joke has made a factual and relevant argument, but he has completely failed to address the moral reality of this situation and thus ignored an integral element of human nature. This anecdote masterfully illustrates the climate of political discourse between the right & left today. Brooks went on to show that the right is not devoid of moral substance. Rather he showed that every claim has moral implications, and that we must reach towards those implications in our argumentation in order to reach others with the truth where it so often is overlooked.
What we generally take for granted as "the world around us," the great John Bunyan described figuratively as a colorful, raucous, irresistible riot of carnal commerce called Vanity Fair. The whole thing, he warned, is set up to turn us from the love and rewards of God - yet in Bunyan's telling, every pilgrim journeying toward God is obligated to go there. One must push through, resist capture, break out and with divine help at last leave Vanity Fair behind. This appears, of course, in The Pilgrim's Progress, a Christian classic of the 1600s. Culturally literate people will recognize two latter-day echoes from Vanity Fair. Already by the 1800s, when Thackeray titled a novel after it, the fair had lost any explicit spiritual connotation, though it retained a keen moral edge.
Today, another two centuries on, as the fair's name has been revived in one of the smartest of all smart media voices, the moral edge is gone as well, leaving only a self-satisfied air of the in-crowd that all do what is right in their own eyes and contrary opinion be damned.
So far down the long road - the wrong road, John Bunyan would say, and I agree with him - has the civilization once as Christendom traveled. But look now, with this context having been established, at John Bunyan's word-picture of Vanity Fair, and ask yourself if it doesn't well describe the tangle of economics and politics and aspirations and distractions and obsessions and indulgences and spectacles that occupy 99% of the attention of most of us, even we who think ourselves good, serious, pious, upright folk: At this fair are all such merchandise sold as houses, lands, trades, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures; and delights of all sorts, as harlots, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not. And moreover, at this fair there is at all times to be seen jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of every kind. Here are to be seen, too, and that for nothing, thefts, murders, adulteries, false-swearers, and that of a blood-red color.
Bunyan begins his account of Vanity Fair with a line from Ecclesiastes 11:8, "All that cometh is vanity." We say to ourselves: Really? All? The Preacher, we have to conclude, meant exactly that; and so did John Bunyan.
(Denver Post, Jan. 1) “Let us eat and drink,” said the beautiful people at last night’s glittering parties, “for tomorrow we shall die.” Maybe they thought their insouciance fitting as 2011 ticked away, but they could not have thought it original.
It was Obama’s favorite economist, John Maynard Keynes, the original Mr. Stimulus, who remarked coldly in the 1930s that in the long run we’re all dead. And Keynes was echoing the dissipated elites of ancient Israel 2700 years ago, says the prophet Isaiah. Fatalistic irresponsibility endures though nations rise and fall.
Our fall may now impend, as 69 percent of those polled believe America is in decline and 57 percent expect our kids will live less well than we do. Yet you saw little evidence of that somber outlook in the prosperous holiday bustle at suburban malls and downtown theaters. A psychologist might call it cognitive dissonance. I’d call it either rank denial or good old American gumption. But which?
On this first day of a fateful election year the choice is entirely ours – and I choose gumption. Notwithstanding our fiscal and economic woes, political polarization, slumping demographics, nukes in Iran and North Korea, global jihad and sharia, the USA has the potential to come roaring back in 2012 and onward to 2020. It starts with deciding we can.
True, historians warn that great nations seldom make it to age 250, and we’re now 235. “Pessimism, materialism, an influx of foreigners, the welfare state, the weakening of religion, the love of money, and the loss of a sense of duty,” Sir John Glubb’s checklist for a country in decadence (from his 1976 book “The Fate of Empires”), fits us all too well. Our advantage, though, is that there has never been an America before.
Are we exempt from the undertow of history and the underside of human nature? Absolutely not. We do possess, however, resilient free institutions and an indomitable fighting spirit. From this fortunate combination – representing for our generation a trust to keep, not a charm to boast on or coast on – a victory for the United States over decadence and decline, against the odds, remains possible.
I’m no Pollyanna. Our state and nation are ill-led by Democrats and Republicans alike. Judges flout the Constitution, producing tyrannous rulings like Colorado’s Lobato school case, and making it unlikely the Supreme Court will annul the disaster that is Obamacare. The spiritual poverty in today’s public square would appall the pioneers who put “Nil Sine Numine,” nothing without the Spirit, on our state seal. We face a stormy year.
But like many Christian and Jewish conservatives, I enter 2012 with a survival kit of ideas and ideals that keep me buoyant, storms or not. Here on the shelf by my desk are wisdom-books giving timeless encouragement in the toughest times. Enemy attack, economic crash, electoral defeat? I hope and pray not. Still in such volumes as these, there is sustenance to persist regardless.
Of course my list of ten titles, compiled years ago for a friend, won’t match yours. But I do recommend compiling your own. It will ground you on bedrock and make 2012 go better. And what are the books on my shelf?
First is the Bible, alongside Chesterton’s “Everlasting Man” and Lewis’s “Mere Christianity,” for an anchor in eternity. Next, “The Federalist” for politics and Bastiat’s “The Law” plus Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” for economics. Weaver’s “Ideas Have Consequences” and Goldwater’s “Conscience of a Conservative” diagnose America’s travails since 1945.
From literature, though a hundred come to mind, I complete my ten with Bolt’s “Man for All Seasons” and Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” epitomizing moral integrity. We’ll need a lot of that, and divine help besides, as beleaguered America turns the calendar page. Happy New Year.
As conservatives, unlike the left with its belief that material causation is all, we know that ideas have consequences. To gird for the battle of ideas, I recommend not only Richard Weaver's 1948 classic by that title, but also Benjamin Wiker's excellent companion volumes, Ten Books That Screwed Up the World (2008) and Ten Books Every Conservative Must Read (2010).
Centennial Institute brought Wiker to Denver for three lectures this week. He lit up the room every time - first with CCU students, then with donors and trustees, then with faculty and staff.
The titles on his bad list, actually 15 in all, include The Prince by Macchiavelli, Discourse on Method by Descartes, Leviathan by Hobbes, Inequality Among Men by Rousseau, Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels, Utilitarianism by Mill, Descent of Man by Darwin, Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche, State and Revolution by Lenin, Pivot of Civilization by Sanger, Mein Kampf by Hitler, Future of an Illusion by Freud, Coming of Age in Samoa by Mead, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Kinsey, and The Feminine Mystique by Friedan.
On Ben Wiker's good list are another 15, though he terms the last one an impostor. They include The Politics by Aristotle, Orthodoxy by Chesterton, New Science of Politics by Voegelin, Abolition of Man by Lewis, Reflections on the Revolution in France by Burke, Democracy in America by Tocqueville, the Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers, Servile State by Belloc, Road to Serfdom by Hayek, The Tempest by Shakespeare, Sense and Sensibility by Austen, Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, the Jerusalem Bible, and (coincidentally timed with the new movie just out) Atlas Shrugged by Rand.
Your turn now: Which books don't belong where Wiker put them, and why? Which books would you add to the all-time bad list and all-time good list? Or on a more personal level, what are some titles that you would nominate as particularly magificent - or awful - because of what they have meant in your own life?
Let the games begin.
Benjamin Wiker at Colorado Christian University on April 15 lauding Jane Austen or excoriating Jean Jacques Rousseau; I forget which.
(CCU Student) Yesterday I took part in a meeting with John Andrews, director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, and others for a planning and update session on the direction of the Centennial Institute and our effectiveness of spreading the principles of freedom and the values of 1776. In my time at CCU, I have had the privilege of watching the Centennial Institute act as a beacon of truth and a forum for healthy debate and political discourse that is gaining popularity in Colorado and is growing on the radar screen of the Conservative movement. In our session, we had a preview of things to come such as policy briefs, guest speakers, and our capstone event of the year: Western Conservative Summit. I cannot divulge much but I will say that it looks like we are in for a treat this July.
Sitting in on the meeting was a Fellow of the Centennial Institute, Kevin Miller. Formerly dean of the CCU Business School, he is the author of the recently published Freedom Nationally, Virtue Locally - or Socialism. In his book, Miller proposes that for too long the Conservative movement has focused entirely on instilling virtue on a federal level. What is really needed is virtue on a local level and freedom on a national level. Looking at Miller’s argument, I could not agree more with his thesis.
Even since the Great Society of LBJ, the conservative movement has attempted to instill virtue into the national government. Because the Progressives have done it for so long, we now believe we have to take the virtuous Conservative agenda to courts and to congress. However, they have failed to recognize a very critical truth, that without local virtue, we cannot hope to initiate a virtuous government. If the government is a reflection of the people and the society, then create a virtuous society at the local level. The federal government will follow. The American system as the founders intended is a two way street of freedom and virtue that begins with the individual.
It would seem that in recent history that the Socially Conservative movement has been on a crusade to such proposals as gay marriage. As long as these pillars of the Liberal agenda remain, nothing else matters. However, what these well-meaning individuals fail to recognize is that you cannot put a virtuous law into place without a virtuous society to hold it up. Any engineer will tell you that this method could never work in setting upon a structure, so why on earth will it ever work in the structure of the American legal system? We cannot make government the champion of a moral cause because government was never meant to be a judge of morality. Morality can only be left to God and his relationship with an individual.
When written into law, virtue is no longer virtuous. Compliance with a law and doing the right thing are totally different things. Do I follow the speed limit out of the goodness of my heart and concern for the safety of others? No. I don’t speed because I don’t want to pay a ticket. The same goes for trying to instill virtues into the government. Are we going to get rid of homosexuality in America by banning same-sex marriage? Are we going to eradicate abortion (which some call murder) and broken families by repealing Roe v Wade? To think so would be foolish. Where many in the Conservative movement are missing their mark is thinking that stopping symptoms cures the disease.
What is needed in the United States is true freedom on the national level. Only in this environment can true virtue exist. If Conservatives and Christians want their government to reflect their virtues, then they need to get society to reflect those virtues first. So rather than waste time at a protest of an abortion clinic, perhaps I should simply witness to others and attempt to win them into the kingdom of God. History has proven the effectiveness of God’s word on a society. But such occurrences as the Great Awakening or the Enlightenment occurred within societies and on an individual basis before they impacted nation-states in a political manner. It is when Christians try to make theology political and cultural that counter movements arise and take the government in a different direction.
If our desire is for America to be a great nation, we first need to make Americans great people. When our society is great, the government will be forced to follow. But unfortunately there is a massive moral deficit in this country that is far more dangerous than the economic deficit. By and large, Americans have allowed themselves to become materialistic and shallow. Our society operates in the realm of instant gratification and entitlement. We allow our role models to be upstanding individuals like Tiger Woods, Miley Cyrus, Justin Beiber, and the cast of Jersey Shore. Rather than study men like John Locke and Jesus Christ, we study the latest scandal coming out of the NFL or the latest news from the stock market. And yet Americans are surprised when individuals in government and power behave in a base and immoral manner. Why are we surprised when politicians are found to be living in infidelity when many American families are falling victim to unfaithful spouses? When many American citizens are guilty of frivolous spending and accruing debt, we should not be shocked to find our government in a similar state.
What is needed is a return to virtue on the part of the average American. Without such action, we can never hope to recover our government and restore our nation. Alexis de Tocqueville recognized this about America; that our government fostered the freedom to choose virtue and virtue allowed for a free people because virtue restrained the desires of the flesh. Without this unique relationship, neither virtue nor freedom can ultimately succeed. Without it, America cannot hope to succeed.
(CCU Student) Valentines weekend treated the economically inclined individuals very well this past weekend with the release of a movie trailer that has excited all the believers of supply side economics. On April 15, 2011, or "tax day", many individuals will be placing their full efforts towards mailing in the controversial 'income tax' mandated by the federal government. This year, director Paul Johansson introduces a film adaption to one of the most powerful novels of all time, Atlas Shrugged, which displays mere irony to the significance of its release date. The awareness of this novel is a gem in the advocacy of expanding your free market ideology; in addition, this movie will deeply challenge each and every individual in their understanding of history and political economy.
Written in 1957 by author Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged tells the story of Dagny Taggart, a railroad heiress that attempts to maintain the integrity and profitability of her family business in a politically corrupt era of government intervention. Dagny feels the forces of government and society pressuring her to abandon her free enterprise, and she faces the daunting task of making sense of the disappearance of fellow private industrialists one by one. As free choice and competition begin to slowly decay, Daphne seeks revelations that will ultimately challenge her views, and force her to decide between fighting in her world for economic freedom, or leaving behind everything she has ever valued.
Many economists notion the writing of this novel as a foreshadowing of modern United States economics in a world that is currently portraying similar attributes of those displayed of government in Atlas Shrugged. While this movie has been broken down into two parts (Most print versions consist of over 1,300 pages), Part 1 will without doubt leave its audience on the edge of their seat for the final Part; to be released undoubtedly in the near future. For any student that is looking for a movie that will challenge the very basis of your understanding paradoxical relationship between the government and the market, I could not recommend your viewership any higher. Through this on screen adaption of Rand's free market principles, you will see capitalism in a new light, and comprehend the immediate dangers of a socialistic society. This is an excellent opportunity to expose yourself to arguably the most influential economic wonder of all time coming to theaters on April 15, 2011.
George MacDonald, the 19th-century Scots preacher and writer whom C. S. Lewis hailed as "my master," left us not only a shelf of wonderful sermons and novels, but also a little book of devotional verses, one for each day of the year, which he called Diary of an Old Soul. I keep it with my Bible and usually read that morning's verse to start my devotions. His entry for yesterday, February 3, is one of my favorites:
Back still it comes to this: there was a manWho said, "I am the truth, the life, the way:" --Shall I pass on, or shall I stop and hear? --"Come to the Father but by me none can:"What then is this? am I not also oneOf those who live in fatherless dismay?I stand, I look, I listen, I draw near.
The Scripture quoted is, of course, John 14:6. But in MacDonald's hesitancy and self-questioning, I hear the echo of Pontius Pilate's anguished words in Matthew 27:22, "What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?"
What will each and every human being make of Jesus and do about him? That is the supreme, inescapable issue for everyone on earth, once he or she has heard of this person "who is called Christ," this man who said, "I am the truth." No one in the world, if honest with himself, can deny that existence is haunted with fatherless dismay unless he has come to the Father by the one and only way, Jesus.
In my work at the higher altitudes of worldly pride and power, the intense arena of politics, media, and business, I find it especially interesting that even such biblical potentates as Pilate in the gospels, Governor Felix in Acts 24, and King Agrippa in Acts 26, all felt their complacency shaken by this lowly carpenter with his quiet but relentless authority.
Here at Centennial Institute are some extra copies of Diary of an Old Soul that I am glad to share with friends. Email me if you'd like one as a gift. There is a Christliness in MacDonald's writing that gets under your skin.
Thursday, 16 December 2010 10:39 by Admin
Centennial Institute Fellow Kevin Miller has brought out a book-length treatment of his provocative essay on freedom and virtue in American politics, published last year in Centennial Review. Freedom Nationally, Virtue Locally - or Socialism was released Nov. 29 by Denali Press. Learn more and order the book here.
Bill Armstrong, the former US senator who now heads Colorado Christian University, says the book is "full of passion, wisdom, and horse sense... Kevin Miller is an important thinker." John Andrews, director of Centennial Institute, calls it a guidebook for helping "conservatives rediscover the 'render to Caesar principle," without which "America won't remain the land of the free."
Miller's argument in brief, adds James C. Bennett, author of The Anglosphere Challenge: Why the English-Speaking Peoples Will Lead the World in the 21st Century, is that "while freedom is an attribute of political system, virtue is an attribute of human beings -- and so the attempt to use the state to pursue visions of virtue is undermining the republic of the Founders."
(CCU Student) Since Barack Obama has entered office, the emotional state of the country has shifted from a polarized sense of hope to constant unease and skepticism. To understand how and why this has occurred, it’s first and foremost a necessity to learn about where Barack himself has obtained such principles and agendas that shadow his seemingly slick modus operandi. In particular, a closer look at the notable radical and social organizer named Saul Alinsky will reveal a much darker, yet detailed picture.
Alinsky’s creed was set out in his book ‘Rules for Radicals’ – a book he dedicated to Lucifer whom he so unreservedly called the ‘first radical’. As David Horowitz puts it in a pamphlet summarizing the Alinsky-Obama connection, Saul Alinsky was an avatar of the post-modern left. His weapon, deception; his goal, destroy the American system of government, by any and all means. Like Obama, Alinsky gathered his followers with the catchy “social change” adage, which more intimately reveals itself more as a blueprint for utter chaos rather than a progressive ideal. In a nutshell, his proposal was to make ‘revolution’ the ultimate and final mark on the history and end of American democracy as we know it, this being devised from his devil-worship schemes, power-hungry radicalism, and deceptive tongue to lure the naïve.
So what does this radical-frenzied organizer of the 1960s have to do with the current American standing and threat to the survival of democracy? Referring back to the beginning, Barack Obama is one of Alinsky’s most prominent followers and admirers, never knowing him personally, but becoming an adept practitioner of his methods. Knowing this, Americans have a due right to worry and question the leadership and direction of our country. With this in mind, it’s also a solid reminder that we should never cease to pray for our leaders. The Bible tells us both “to be vigilant, for the devils walks about like a roaring lion seeking to devour us,” (1 Peter 5:8) and to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). The disciples of Alinsky can and will be countered by speaking the truth, defending democracy, and relentless prayer and hope.
Editor's Note: For a free copy of the David Horowitz pamphlet mentioned above, "Barack Obama's Rules for Revolution," email us at Centennial@ccu.edu with your name and postal address.
('76 Contributor) Harry Reid is not racist and Republican calls for his resignation are misguided. There I said it.
The senate majority leader has recently come under fire for remarks attributed to him in the new book “Game Change.” Authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann say that in 2008 Reid described then candidate Obama as a " 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.'” The comments have been seen by some as being racially insensitive.
Reid’s defenders argue that he was merely making the point that Americans were ready to elect a black president (or at least a light- skinned black president. Baby steps.) DNC chair Tim Kaine insisted that Reid’s remarks were offered in the context of saying something positive about the Obama candidacy and why his candidacy would be strong.
What remains unclear is why we weren’t treated to an equal amount of gushing about Obama’s vast executive experience and his readiness to lead. Instead, these titans of liberalism were most impressed that Obama was Black but not too black and well spoken enough not to offend the racial sensibilities of voters. It was also a plus that he was able to turn on a “negro dialect” when speaking to Black audiences. (Actually the same could have been said of Hillary Clinton. She is also light skinned with a habit of turning on a “Black dialect” when speaking before black audiences. Recall her chicken necking as she quoted lyrics from an old “negro” spiritual: “I ain’t no ways tired.” Really Hillary? But I digress.)
I would be remiss if I failed to point out that the racial sensibilities Reid and company were concerned with offending were those of liberals. Reid was not mentally tallying the votes of Republicans, but Democrats!
Certainly Senator Reid is behind the times. Who uses the word “negro” anymore? The accepted term is “people of color,” which, for what it’s worth, sounds way to close too colored people for my tastes. But do Reid’s comments really rise to occasion GOP outrage, which, let’s be honest is a bit contrived?
Is there a double standard? Absolutely! There is also a growing sensitivity to public speech that has corrupted our sense of proportion. If one must resign for speaking the truth – Obama is light skinned, well spoken and does have a habit of turning on the “flava” when he speaks before Black audiences – what is the penalty for saying something truly outrageous? Calling for the head of Harry Reid only succeeds in making legitimate liberal outrage over the similarly innocuous uttering’s by others. If we continue down this path I fear we will end up a nation unable to govern itself because we will be unable to speak lest we offend someone…somewhere.
Moreover, these displays of outrage miss the real substance of Reid’s intimations.
What is now clear for all to see is the new left's political calculation vis a vis race. For the left there can be no post racial America because for the new left race is a chief weapon in their arsenal. Their use of race and racism is premeditated; it is a commodity to be traded in the political market. THAT should be the focus of GOP outrage; that should be what the media is talking about; that should be the cause of our national indignation.
There was another interesting bit of “dish” found in “Game Change.” In an effort to gain the endorsement of Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy for his wife, former President Bill Clinton reportedly said to the liberal icon about Obama, "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.” According to the book, Kennedy was offended by the remarks and ultimately gave his support to Obama. In a subsequent conversation Clinton griped, “The only reason you are endorsing him is because he is black. Let’s just be clear.”
According to Harry Reid and Tim Kaine Clinton was quite correct; were it not for his light skin and his ability to speak like a “negro” when he has to he would still be a junior senator from Illinois and not the President of the United States. 2+2=4.
Denver native Joseph C. Phillips is a veteran TV and film actor, national columnist, campus lecturer for Young America's Foundation, and the author of He Talk Like a White Boy.