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In Piper’s latest blog post at Desiring God, he says that his goal is toreduce the instinctive, white, evangelical reaction against the idea of structural racism or systemic racism.” His strategy is to show that “Bible-shaped people should expect to see structural racism almost everywhere in a fallen world.” The argument, in brief, is that racism is a natural result of sin working its way through all of life, and so we should expect to see it in a fallen world.

The Good

In responding to Piper, a man whom I deeply respect, I first want to point out a few very helpful things he does in his article:

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photo-1443110189928-4448af4a2bc5If you've been paying attention at all to the increasingly radical rhetoric of the Left––whether on college campuses, in the BLM "protests", or the SJW crowd––you know that they are convinced that there is something deeply and psychologically wrong with "The West" in general, and with American Capitalism, in particular. This isn't the old-school quazi-liberal rhetoric that the system is broken and needs to be fixed. The new guard will not be satiated with tinkering around the edges. To them, the system, itself, is fundamentally immoral. Of course there are all sorts of ways to analyze and answer these allegations of immorality––the best of which is to question their fundamental moral premises––but beyond the fact that, at the end of the day, their self-righteous moral high-ground is grounded in nothing but their own emotions, I've noticed something interesting about the very way they posture in presenting these supposed moral crises of our time: they seem to be projecting their own (pathological) assumptions on the culture. You could likely make this case with many of the modern topics of the "outrage culture", but here I want to focus in on one particular topic: Materialism. ...continue reading

 

Piper's recent article on armed Christian self-defense has stirred up a lot of controversy, primarily because, in it, he sheds a lot of doubt on whether and when it is ever appropriate for Christians to physically defend themselves––particularly with a weapon. While the points in his article offer a much needed Biblical emphasis on trusting and glorifying God in the midst of tribulation, the article doesn't seem to leave much room (if any) for glorifying God through self-defense. However, I would like to submit the bold idea that Piper's position might be altered if he were to think a little bit more like a Christian Hedonist about this issue.

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Why I've Been AWOL

For those of you who don't know, and have been wondering where I've been, I have recently moved across the country to attend Bethlehem College & Seminary in order to finish my Bachelors Degree through their Degree Completion Program. I haven't completely set the blog aside, but I have had to take some time off over the past 1/2 year or so to focus on all of the intricate logistics of moving across country, applying to school, switching jobs, and coming up with the funds to support all of this!  ...continue reading

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love pic

Have you noticed how mystical our culture's talk of love is today? Whether it's the girl whimsically longing to "find true love" (as if it is some magical creature evading her grasp), the boy in reluctant surprise who admits that he "might be in love" (as if it were a disease which has crept up on him), or the couple which speaks of "falling in love" (as if it were a pit into which both stumbled during a blind, dumb stupor), there appears to be very little conscious understanding of what love actually is among most people.

Is vs. Does

Of course there are many who would claim to speak of what love is (typically the adult speaking to the adolescent, who "doesn't know what love is yet" -- as though love were some mystical knowledge imparted to you at a certain age). But these don't speak about what love is so much as they speak about what love does.

"Love waits", "Love puts the other person first", "Love makes you do crazy things", "Love doesn't give up". These are all great and true (in particular respects) descriptions of what love does, but they do very little to explain what love is. If you want proof, simply consider that one could do all of the things listed above (and all the things which could be listed about what love does), and still not have love (see 1 Cor. 13:3). If it is possible to fake love by performing supposedly 'loving' actions (and it is), then the actions, themselves, cannot be love.

Love is Value

If love is not actions, but the fuel for 'loving' actions, then love must be that which fuels action: value. ...continue reading

invictus
INVICTUS
Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
  For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.
-William Ernest Henley
Romans 8:37
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Dabid Bentley Hart

Idiotic, Barbaric, Oafish, Ridiculous, Shrill, Hideous, and Trashy: These are just a few of the condemnations lauded upon Ayn Rand in David Bentley Hart’s column, The Trouble with Ayn Rand, published in First Things Magazine.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that Hart found so “hideous” about Rand.

The film’s defining moment for me is probably the first meeting between Dominique Francon (Neal) and Howard Roark (Cooper) at the gala opening of a house the latter has designed. “I admire your work, more than anything I’ve ever seen,” Dominique announces without wasting any words on small talk about the weather or the hors d’oeuvres. “You may realize that this is not a tie, but a gulf, between us. . . . I wish I had never seen your building. It’s the things we admire or want that enslave us, and I’m not easy to bring into submission.” (The flirtatious little gamine.) Really, one has to see the scene to appreciate quite how awful it is.

Awful? What exactly is it that Mr. Hart finds so awful about this exchange? The only indication we have is the fact that Dominique doesn't “waste any words on small talk about the weather or the hors d’oeuvres”. Is it awful that Dominique chooses to forego the pretense of feigned conversation? Is it awful that she prefers to bravely say exactly what is on her mind rather than the mindless drivel which people (like Hart) would expect of her? Is it awful that she is honest? Apparently so. But that isn't all that Hart considers awful - he continues:

But, then again, there’s also the conversation between the same two characters later that night: “They hate you for the greatness of your achievement,” Dominique tells Roark ...“They hate you for your integrity. They hate you because they know they can neither corrupt nor ruin you.” (Bloody they—I never could stand those swine.) ...Who can say what the most ridiculous moment really is, though?

Here, in the midst of a profoundly honest and deep moment between the main characters, Hart displays his disdain by cracking, what I’m sure he believed to be, a ‘clever’ joke - but why? In this passage (and through the character of Roark), Rand is portraying the impeccable integrity of the ideal man; an incorruptible man. Such a portrayal is meant to be a glimpse at the greatness which man can achieve; a breath of inspiration, reminding the ‘average joe’ of the glory to be had in opposing corruption and staying true to one’s values. The only type of man who could crack a joke in such a moment is the type of man who regards such virtuous excellence to be nothing more than a joke; a man who equates true and formidable integrity with crass humor - in other words, a man who despises integrity. But who can say whether integrity is the “most ridiculous” of Rand’s ideas? “Perhaps”, he goes on:

Perhaps it’s Roark’s demented address to the jury at his trial: “The creator stands on his own judgment. The parasite follows the opinions of others. The creator thinks. The parasite copies. The creator produces. The parasite loots. The creator’s concern is the conquest of nature. The parasite’s concern is the conquest of men.” And so on.

Demented? What, exactly, is demented here? Is it not a mark of creativity that a man stands on his own judgment, and a mark of parasitism if he blindly follows the opinions of others? Is it not creative to think, to produce, and to conquer nature -- and parasitic to copy, loot, and attempt to conquer men? One get’s the idea that Hart doesn't like things being so clearly stated; that he’d prefer some vague generalities which avoided any exact descriptions of what is good and what is evil, so that no one would need to ever face the exact nature and extent of their own personal evil. Which is more demented: the clear enunciation of moral principles -- or the attempt, via generalities, to wipe moral principles out of existence? What other end could one have in mind as he squirms away from exact distinctions? But it is not just a few moral principles which Hart wishes to wipe out of existence with his vagueries:

“I came here to say I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life,” Roark continues, “nor to any part of my energy, nor to any achievement of mine.”

What could Hart have against this, you ask? Keep reading - and as you do, ask yourself what it is he is attempting to wipe out of existence here:

Rand really imagined that there could ever be a man whose best achievements were simply and solely the products of his own unfettered and unaided will. She had no concept of grace, even of the ordinary kind: the grace of an existence we do not give ourselves, of natural powers with which we could never have endowed ourselves, and of all those other persons on whom even the strongest among us are dependent. She lacked any ennobling sense that what lies most deeply within us also comes from impossibly far beyond us, as an unmerited gift.

Even if all of what Hart says about ‘ordinary grace’ here were true (and it isn’t), what is the disagreement with Roark’s statement which Hart wishes to imply? I didn’t bring myself into existence, and therefore my life is up for grabs? I was born with some natural talent, and therefore I owe that talent to everyone and anyone who asks for it? I used the previous achievements of some particular individuals in the process of accomplishing my achievements, and therefore my achievements belong to any number of hoards who wish to take them -- whether they attributed to my achievements or not? What does natural grace have to do with what I (or anyone!) owes to other people?

Do you see Hart’s argument - and the essence of his loathing of Rand? Because there are some things which Roark can’t take credit for, he therefore cannot rightfully take credit for anything. Because Roark profits from some particular men (whom he likely repays through voluntary trade), he therefore owes his profit to all men. In other words, because he has talent and skill, he is the only one in the world who does not have a right to that talent and skill. Because a man is alive, and he can’t claim full credit for it, therefore everyone in the world is allowed to lay a claim on his life -- except for him.

What would drive a man to such loathing of achievement that he feels the need to deny the very fruit of that achievement to the ones who wrought it? What would cause a man to detest moral distinctions; to mock integrity, and to despise honesty? What would cause a man to hate so many good things so much that he would spew forth such a scathing critique of a woman who loved those good things? One word: Envy. Not petty jealousy, but the type of envy Ayn Rand described as ‘hatred of the good because it is good’. She elaborates:

The primary factor and distinguishing characteristic [of this sort of envy] is an emotional mechanism set in reverse: a response of hatred, not toward human vices, but toward human virtues. To be exact, the emotional mechanism is not set in reverse, but is set one way: its exponents do not experience love for evil men; their emotional range is limited to hatred or indifference. It is impossible to experience love, which is a response to values, when one’s automatized response to values is hatred.

And that seems to be exactly what we see here with Mr. Hart; a seething hatred for those very attributes (honesty, integrity, moral absolutes, and productivity) which he, himself, would regard as virtuous.

And now we have come to see that it is not Ayn Rand whom Mr. Hart has the "trouble with" -- it is himself; specifically his own values. He only pretends to hates Ayn Rand in order to evade the contempt that he has for the image which she portrays of what he knows he could be and should be.