Big Gulps and Freedom

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Recently I’ve decided to expand my podcast listening tastes and began listening to the daily NPR podcast Talk of the Nation. Last Friday, they had a segment that was discussing the New York City cap on sodas over 16 oz. As a libertarian, I lost track of how many times I rolled my eyes or vocally expressed my disbelief at what I was hearing. The host of the show had two ‘experts’ on: One was Marion Nestle of New York University and the other was Brian Wansink of Cornell University. Both were people involved in the debate over the public health issues surrounding the debate. What troubled me was the fact that everyone on the show just tacitly assumed that some sort of government intervention in the name of public health was perfectly justified. In fact, Ms. Nestle would frequently suggest the government do more.

When all of this talk was going around concerning the NYC soda ban, I shrugged my shoulders and thought how typical of big government supporters. I didn’t want to think too much about, much less write about it, because I thought it was all absurd. But now that it has become official in NYC and given that many, at least in the NPR crowd, think it’s perfectly OK for government to make our health choices for us, I feel compelled to say something. Are we out of our minds?!?!?

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Friday Miscellanies


Well, I’m too occupied to compose a full blog post, but I don’t want to not post anything, so I’m going to start a new trend here on THE AGORA called Miscellanies. It will be a random collection of short thoughts on various subjects that are circulating around in the recesses of my mind. So here goes…

The Chicago Bears play this coming Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. Not sure which Bears’ team will show up — the one that clobbered the Indianapolis Colts or the one that got spanked by the Green Bay Packers. It makes you wonder if it’s going to be one of those Bears’ seasons; one in which they clobber the lousy teams, but get spanked by the good teams. Oh well, as they say…one game at a time. GO BEARS!!!

While we’re on the topic of sports, let’s talk a little baseball. I was a huge baseball fan growing up, and I loved, absolutely loved, the Chicago Cubs. However, after having my heart broken one too many times by the Cubs, I’ve switched my sports allegiance to the Bears. That being said, it appears that the White Sox are making a serious run for some post-season baseball. Whereas the Cubs are flirting with a franchise record for losses in a season. If they manage to lose 100 games, it will be for first time they’ve done that in over 50 years. GO CUBBIES!!!

The Avengers movie is being released on blu-ray and digital download next Tuesday. I can’t wait! I’ll probably watch it a good dozen times or so before I get sick of it. And let’s not forget the having to watch all of the Marvel movies leading up to it in a long Marvel film festival. Great time to be a comic book geek!

While we’re on the topic of comic books and movies, The Walking Dead season 3 begins in October. This should be an exciting season as the group moves from the countryside to the ‘safe’ confines of the prison. And who was that bad-ass chick with the sword??? Between season 2 and season 3, I read all 102 issues of The Walking Dead comic book series. I spent a small fortune on the digital comics and read them in about a week. Of course knowing how the comics go doesn’t mean one will know how the TV series will go as there have already been significant derivations so far. Anyway, season 3 should be good!

Switching topics completely…I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the bible and biblical inerrancy. The doctrine of the bible being the verbally inspired, inerrant and infallible word of God is a bedrock to fundamental, conservative Christianity. However, after reading two books by New Testament scholar, Bart D. Ehrman (I know…to even mention his name is to court the anti-Christ), I’ve begun to modify my views on biblical inerrancy. Those books were, Misquoting Jesus and Jesus Interrupted. While I don’t buy every single argument Ehrman puts forth, he does make a strong case for being skeptical regarding the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. There are just too many cases of variant textual readings in the early history of the NT text to contend for biblical inerrancy. Furthermore, while there is some coherence in the NT text, there are also some discrepancies as well. Here’s the thing. If one is already committed to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, then one will be able to harmonize the discrepancies and apparent contradictions. But if one is skeptical on the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, then not only do these attempts to harmonize the discrepancies and contradictions appear unwarranted (why harmonize literary works that weren’t meant to be harmonized), but they also strain credulity at times. It really all boils down to a presuppositional stance on the nature of the bible because, bottom line, there is no definitive way to prove one way or the other that the bible is indeed the inspired word of God.

Last thought on the miscellanies bandwagon. Over the past year or so, I’ve gone through an ideological revolution of sorts. For the past ten years, I was thoroughly conservative — both politically and theologically. However, beginning last year, I evolved from a political conservative to a political libertarian. That evolution has now begun in my theological thinking as well. I find myself drifting away from my conservative Christianity toward a more philosophical Deism — a belief in a Creator God, but not in all of the dogmatic trappings of Christianity. This is, of course, related to the previous point regarding the bible. That being said, I seem to be having a hard time finding a good theological home. Most of the traditions of Christianity that are theological liberal also tend to be politically liberal. Whereas, the traditions that are theologically conservative tend to also be politically conservative. These are, of course, not hard and fast rules, but nonetheless, what is a libertarian to do? There don’t see to be any theologically ‘libertarian’ traditions to my knowledge. Maybe that has something to do with the nature of libertarians being more individualistic? Of course it could also be that it doesn’t seem to matter which side of the theological spectrum one lands on, the church in America always tends to seek political solutions to social issues. Too bad…

Anyway, in the words of the late Irish comedian, Dave Allen…

“Goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you.”

Have a great weekend!

Libertas Aut Mors!

 

 

 

“The Sanction of the Victim”

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The title of this post comes from Ayn Rand’s classic dystopian novel, Atlas Shrugged. I’ve been working my way through that novel and I got to the point where steel tycoon, Hank Rearden, is on trial for violating a government regulation limiting the sale of his wonder alloy “Rearden Metal.” When Rearden comes before the tribunal, the three judge panel hearing his case asks for his plea. Rearden replies that he has no defense to offer. The court, stunned, asks him if he is throwing himself on the court’s mercy. Rearden replies that he does not recognize the court’s right to try him. From that point on, Readern offers a classic defense of the Randian ethics of rational self-interest. It also highlights a very important truth: Evil requires the sanction of the victim in order to succeed.

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Why Do We Believe What We Believe?

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Recently I have been keenly interested in faith and beliefs. More to the point, I have been thinking deeply about the question why we believe what we believe. I am pretty certain that I’m not the only person who has gone through some  philosophical paradigm shifts in his life. As someone who has gone through his fair share of shifting beliefs, it interests me to consider the question of why we believe what we believe, and its corollary question what prompts us to change our beliefs.

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Green Bay Packers 23, Chicago Bears 10

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Okay…it pains me to have to write this post, but I must be fair and honest. I would have wrote this on Friday, the day after the game, but I was in mourning; so I write it today. Make no mistake, the pain is still near and deep, but I will soldier on…

This game exposed a lot of weaknesses on the Bears’, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Bears entered the season with high hopes and a guarded optimism that they would be able to compete with the big boys offensively. The reason for the hope were the new faces on offense; most notably WR Brandon Marshall. Sure the OL was still suspect, but the thinking is that with Mike Tice as the new offensive coordinator the Bears would scheme around the OL’s weaknesses — no more seven step drops and five man protection schemes. All of that guarded optimism went down the drain last Thursday night in Green Bay.

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Music in Focus: Rush

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One of my favorite bands growing up in the 70’s was the Canadian power-rock trio, Rush. I even remember asking my parents to buy me the 2112 album for Christmas (afraid they were going to turn me down because of the pentagram logo on the album cover). I think Rush is one of those bands that one either loves or hates. In my experience, I haven’t found too many people who were lukewarm about them. Rush is a great tribute to band stability and cohesiveness as the band lineup — consisting of Geddy Lee (vocals and bass), Alex Lifeson (guitar), and Neal Peart (drums) — has remained the same since their second album (Fly By Night) back in 1975. Each member of the band is a virtuoso at their respective instrument: Lee is a master bassist, Lifeson is one of the most versatile guitarists around and Peart is arguably the best drummer in rock.

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Rethinking Hell

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Since my mother passed away a little more than a month ago, I have been doing a lot of soul searching regarding life, death and everything. This has been a time of putting everything on the table and taking nothing for granted, but questioning all of my previously held dogmatic beliefs. The biblical concept of hell was the first to come under the microscope.

(WARNING: WHAT I’M ABOUT TO SAY MAY SHOCK SOME OF MY CHRISTIAN FRIENDS. PLEASE RESERVE JUDGMENT UNTIL YOU GET TO THE END)

Some may think I’m questioning hell because my mother died as an unbeliever. Such is not the case. My mother had confessed Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, so according to Christian dogma, she is with the Lord as we speak. No it’s not my mother’s death in particular that got me thinking, but death in general. Come with me as I do a little thought experiment.

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How Minimum Wage Laws Hurt Those They’re Supposed to Help

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I was in a Facebook discussion the other day about the minimum wage and as usual it’s next to impossible to talk to someone who supports the minimum wage because they’ve bought into all the propaganda regarding it. I heard all the cliche arguments in support of it: How without the minimum wage people would be forced to work for slave’s wages, how big greedy companies would exploit workers, how the minimum wage is just an effort to provide low-skilled workers with a ‘living wage.’ It’s that last one I like. The federal minimum wage is currently sitting at $7.25 per hour. Assuming 40 hours per week, that will earn you slightly over $15,000 per year. That’s about $8,000 under the federal poverty line for 2012. What’s that about a living wage?

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Thoughts on the Chicago Teacher’s Strike

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I remember as a kid growing up in Chicago during the 1970’s that it seemed that the Chicago public school teachers would go on strike every other year. As a kid, we enjoyed these little extended holidays, but we always paid for them with our school year going well into June to make up for lost time. Well, as of yesterday, the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) has called another general strike for all its members over their contract with the Chicago Public School (CPS) system. As much as the kids are probably enjoying their extended holiday as much as I did 40 years ago, their parents are fretting over what to do with their children while the teachers and the school system hash out their differences.

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Chicago Bears 41, Indianapolis Colts 21

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Well people, the 2012 NFL season is upon us, and what a glorious start it was for the Chicago Bears. As a Bears’ fan for pretty much my entire conscious life, I have seen many great Bear defenses take the field. The history of the Bears’ franchise has been blessed with some of the best defensive players in the history of the NFL. As great as the tradition of Bears’ defense has been, the same cannot be said of Bears’ offenses throughout their history. Sure, the Bears have had their share of great running backs, but the situation at QB tells a different story. To this day, the Bears’ franchise leader in passing yards and passing TD’s is still Sid Luckman. Luckman played 12 seasons for the Bears (1939 – 1950) and only twice eclipsed 2,000 yards passing for a season. The fact that Luckman is still the franchise leader in those two passing categories isn’t a knock on Luckman, but a knock on the franchise that it hasn’t been able to find a franchise QB in over 60 years.

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