November 24, 2014

June 28, 2012


The ObamaCare Ruling’s Natural Application to The Episcopal Church

Just some quick thoughts:

1) For more than fifty years now, the liberal activists in the US have been the more strategic, the more tactical, the more engaged, and the more hard-working. They know what they want, they strategize, they are networked together in pursuit of those goals, and then they work hard to achieve it.

The same thing is true for TEC liberal activists.

2) The Supreme Court ruling is but one of a thousand steps with a thousand “prior causes” on the liberal activist quest.

The same thing is true for whatever next the General Convention approves.

3) The facts in the most recent five years are as follows.

—Republicans elected a man as President who in many ways caved on his *asserted* principles in the last years of his presidency and enacted all sorts of further bloat, central planning, collectivism, and big government expansions.

—Republicans nominated somebody even less conservative as their Presidential candidate and put him up against a very likable man [and yes, he’s likable even to me—I also have far more respect for him as a person committed to his principles then I did for Clinton, too].

—The vast majority of Americans are neither conservatives or liberals. They just want to go to work and think that the government should “do something” about whatever problems they perceive or are called to their attention. This will not change.

—The majority of Americans elected the nominee of the Democrats in 2008—they chose him either *with* knowledge or *without* knowledge, and I don’t think it’s all that important as to which one that is. He is a very committed, principled collectivist.

—Americans have not been happy with the consequences of this double-downed collectivism; the economy has not responded [shocking I know]. Americans also have not rejected collectivism, since they don’t see it and since the Republicans also practice it in spades.

—Unlike what prognosticators say, it’s not the 20% in the middle who make the decisions in any organization, country, or family. It’s the 20% who are the leaders amongst the principled. In America’s case, the 20% are, as I pointed out initially, the liberal activist leaders in the party of the Democrats.

—We have no countering 20% conservative activist leaders in the party of the Republicans. We’re not even close to that number. DeMint was the lone conservative Republican in the Senate until five more were elected in 2010. So there’s six now, out of a hundred Senators, and out of 47 Republicans. Maybe we’ll get a few more in 2012—that would certainly be nice. So maybe we’ll have 10 or so conservative Senators who don’t support collectivism and central planning.

—Time after time after time after time, Republicans demonstrate by their actions that they are *for* central planning, *for* collectivism, *for* big government, and *against* individual liberty, private property, the free market, and the Constitution. They’re just “less so” than the Democrats.

4) The thing that is killing us—killing us as a country and killing us within Anglicanism—is the purported “leadership” on our side. If we got rid of Obama—and all the principled collectivists that the Democrats have stacked up behind Obama in their party—and if we got rid of Katherine Jefferts Schori—and all the principled revisionist activists that the libs have stacked up behind Schori—we would be very little better off. Boehner, and Bishop Parsley, or Boehner and McConnell and Bishop Ed Little, or Boehner, McConnell, Hatch, Bishop Ed Little and the COE’s Fulcrum aren’t going to make the country or the church “all better now;” the decline might come a little slower, but then the lethargy will double down as well, so it’s a wash.

When you look back over the past 50 years, the “leaders” simply dropped the ball over and over and over and over, wherever you found them. They dropped the ball in the ABA, and the AMA, and the APA, and in practically any establishment, recognized organization of note. They dropped the ball in academia. They dropped the ball in the arts and culture. They dropped the ball in business. They dropped the ball in politics, and in the media. They just dropped the ball. They dropped the ball at vestry elections, and delegate elections, and deputy elections, and diocesan conventions, and general conventions, in parishes, in bishop searches, in organizing and networking, in Bible studies and Sunday schools—pretty much everywhere you look where leaders have been in the past 50 years, there is smoldering rubble, a wasted landscape, and a small cabal of weak, directionless, incompetent, complacent, naive, clueless, in-denial, spinning-wildly, as-wise-as-doves “leaders” saying things like “we will outgrow the liberals in our parishes [or insert any other secular institution here] and pay no attention to politics.” One of the reasons why StandFirm bloggers are as hard on conservative “leaders” as on liberal activists is because we recognize why we’re in the mess we’re in.

Nothing’s going to change without excellent, strategic, hard-working, engaged, informed, thoughtful, courageous, principled, wise conservative leadership—and we have far too little of that to make a holistic difference within the Anglican Communion and within the US. Further, without such leadership, the needed education and informing of the 40% “in the middle” won’t take place, in large part because there’s “nothing to see there” for them to learn.

5) Whenever the conservative strategy consists of “and then, a deus ex machina Supreme Court will come down from the clouds and save us from ourselves”—save us from the Republican’s actions, save us from the Republican nomination, save us from the country’s Presidential choice, save us from the Democrats, save us from the dreadful public schools churning out vacuous, irrational emoticons for students—that’s a bad sign of desperation and No Real Strategy. When you find yourself giddy with hope [false] and expectation [completely unwarranted no matter the conservative prognosticators] in the supposed future actions of the deus ex machina, you’re almost always bound for a disappointment.

6) The fact that the degree of hope in a particular outcome is Very Very High does not make the probability that that outcome will occur higher; it merely reveals the extent of your desperation and Lack Of A Real Plan.

Thusly, when conservatives within the Anglican Communion spend a lot of time plotting and scheming and hoping for… [drum roll] “and then, a deus ex machina liberal Archbishop of Canterbury will come down from the clouds and save us from ourselves” that’s a bad sign of desperation and No Real Strategy. The amount of hope by conservatives does not make such an outcome more likely.

Likewise, when conservatives in TEC say “and then, a deus ex machina ‘moderate’ Presiding Bishop will be elected by the next General Convention and save us from ourselves” that’s a bad sign of desperation and No Real Strategy.

In fact, whenever a conservative anywhere in any organization spends a lot of time thinking about and talking about “Our Deus Ex Machina Plan” it means they have no real plan and aren’t really a leader at all.

7) What can a conservative follower do in these times?

Well… how much do you want it? That’s what coaches ask runners out on the track running intervals in the 95 degree summer heat ask. The truth is most people ultimately respond with… “not very much at all, coach.” That’s just the way most people are, and not just “in these terrible times” but throughout the long march of history—and that’s not always a bad thing either. Most people don’t want much—they’re generally content and placid and lethargic and fairly satisfied, unless they find themselves too uncomfortable, in which case somebody [else] needs to do something.

The few bits of advice I have for those who answer back I want it real bad, coach are simply the ones I’m following.

Work hard. Get up from inevitable defeats and losses—get up again… Get up again.

Take counsel and network with strategic fellow conservatives wherever you are—whatever little podunk county or town or state or parish or diocese—and strive to think strategically and take the long view.

Try to become a good leader someday. If you see any leaders out there who are “excellent, strategic, hard-working, engaged, informed, thoughtful, courageous, principled, wise” give them your money and time and stand behind them. But most likely there won’t be many of those to stand behind.

Maybe you and I will be one of those leaders we desperately needed today, someday. If we put in the time.


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15 comments

@Sarah,

You write, in part:

The vast majority of Americans are neither conservatives or liberals. They just want to go to work and think that the government should “do something” about whatever problems they perceive or are called to their attention. This will not change.

Your observation about “the vast majority of Americans is, I think, quite accurate. Given the longevity of thought on forms of government and their history, going at least as far back to Aristotle and Plato, I think you are also correct about the likelihood for change. What you have identified is, I believe, a principal contributor to the further observation that democratically structured nations typically last less than three centuries before falling into ochlocracy, if not something worse.

Our ancestors a century or so past would have done well to have erect a sign over the entrance to the receiving hall at Ellis Island that read: Relinque spes, O omnes que hic intrant.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[1] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 6-28-2012 at 11:38 AM · [top]

5) Whenever the conservative strategy consists of “and then, a deus ex machina Supreme Court will come down from the clouds and save us from ourselves”—save us from the Republican’s actions, save us from the Republican nomination, save us from the country’s Presidential choice, save us from the Democrats, save us from the dreadful public schools churning out vacuous, irrational emoticons for students—that’s a bad sign of desperation and No Real Strategy.

6) The fact that the degree of hope in a particular outcome is Very Very High does not make the probability that that outcome will occur higher; it merely reveals the extent of your desperation and Lack Of A Real Plan.

Of course you are right. But right now, at this particular moment I feel like going on a bender, learning German and joining the Amish.

[2] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 6-28-2012 at 12:16 PM · [top]

Whatever happenned to statesmanship?

[3] Posted by aacswfl1 on 6-28-2012 at 12:24 PM · [top]

In addition to pointing out that we cannot take freedom for granted, that we have been slothful and naive in defending it, this also has another upside: it is a painful demonstration of the fact that we cannot put our hope in the belief that fallen humans can devise a system of government so perfect that it will never fail. When the people who run it are all fallible and evil, they will inevitably fail.

Maybe someone should start an “epic fail” youtube channel just for the federal courts.

[4] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 6-28-2012 at 12:49 PM · [top]

Re [1] Not ochlocracy, but rule by those who manipulate the mob. Obama is, afterall, a community organizer from Chicago. That just adds emphasis and urgency to the need for leadership and continual attention to issues. Persistence pays off for liberals who seem never to quit. It is not enough to rely on the superiority of orthodoxy or any other set of ideas. They need to be taught, nurtured, lived, and explained, and shown to have a demonstrated superiority. Sarah makes a wonderful and scary case.

[5] Posted by Don+ on 6-28-2012 at 01:25 PM · [top]

Don+,

Not ochlocracy, but rule by those who manipulate the mob.

You are assuming that the mob must be manipulated. I will readily grant you that such can be, and in recent U.S. history has been, the case. But mobs, once formed and invigorated, have a way of perpetuating themselves, even if it becomes a case of the former manipulators (e.g., establishment career politicians and their minions), no longer exercise effective control of the mob. I would humbly argue that the distinction may be largely irrelevant at a stage such as that currently occupied by our nation. As evidence I would remind you that it is not unknown for a mob to devour its former leadership when it arrives at the “promised land” only to find that the “milk and honey” has turned out to be “bread and water.”

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[6] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 6-28-2012 at 04:19 PM · [top]

Excellent analysis; quick or otherwise.  Liberals do have one advantage, plenty of money.  I don’t mean the money for Obama but foundation money.  Ford, Bill and MeLinda, Reynolds, Kaiser…........over the years they went liberal and now they fund liberalism/progressivism by over 10 to 1 to conservatism [highlighted on the Glenn Beck Show the other night].

Leadership is everything and that you nailed iron shut.  There are very very few fire-breathing, fire-in-the-belly conservatives willing to stand up and make a case for conservatism that Americans can viscerally rally around. 

How many people reading this can remember back to about 1986 and how GOOD it felt to be an American?  I don’t mean that we all had jobs, and all the other stuff, it just felt Damn Good! 

Do you think anyone, even the hi-fiving liberals, really feel like that?

Nah, not even close.  Would you like to feel like that again?  How bad do you want it?

[7] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 6-28-2012 at 05:44 PM · [top]

Hmm, I remember feeling pretty happy being an American when Reagan was first elected. That coincided with the first time I was able to vote! I remember feeling very proud to be able to vote for Reagan. For the first time in years, I did not vote in an election. Just don’t care anymore.

[8] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 6-28-2012 at 06:34 PM · [top]

Tightening my bootlaces getting ready for the long march despite having spent the last two hours in the woods looking for a lost dog.

[9] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 6-28-2012 at 06:47 PM · [top]

Good thoughts, as usual, Sarah. 

I just had an eye-opening conversation with an old acquaintance who is a health research professional on the subject of sex education, of all things.  We agreed that lack of information is deadly, but disagreed on which information was to be emphasized as well as the role of authority (yeah, think about that one for a minute) in sex education. 

On of the realizations of this conversation is that we are not a pluralistic society in the manner we usually think of that concept.  There is an overwhelming pressure by our government and academia to turn our society into a mass of “well behaved”  miscreants.  This is done on a platform of apparent Christian values - e.g., compassion and regard for life.  But the platform is anything but Christian and the intent is not either. 

It is a top-down answer to the Great Commision on behalf of the enemy.  They’re after hearts.  They’re after the next generation of hearts.  They’re after our own children.  They want everyone, and I mean everyone, to think and act like them and they will not let up. 

I think we are going to have to be even more thoughtful and proactive than the genius who started this thread.  We really do need to comprehensively circle the wagons a bit tighter around our kids, from the moment they are concieved to when they walk the stage at the college graduation.  At the same time, we have to influence our culture by living incarnationally;  showing these guys what abundant living really is. 

Yeah.  The political arena is important, but it is such a tiny slice when compared to the comprehensiveness of our societies depravity.  That sounds pessimistic and hopeless, but it is actually written with a great deal of optimism, hopefulness, and resolve that can be carried in a coffee can.

[10] Posted by J Eppinga on 6-28-2012 at 07:01 PM · [top]

Strategy challenge:  George Friedman who strikes me as a pretty intense cold warrior and pretty tough foreign policy realist (and occasional lune) argues in _The New 100 Years_ that the left in the culture war is driven less by leadership than irresistible demographic and technological forces.  Because of falling birthrates, longer time in school, and increased life spans in the last 200 years, women have gone from spending the majority of their lifespan having and raising children to the modern low of only 10%.  Viola feminism.  Likewise the computer has lead to a ruthlessly instrumental and pragmatic view of reason.

What do you think are the major social forces that present the greatest threats and opportunities for conservatives over the next 30 years?

I submit that modern neuroscience is on track to radically restructure our understanding of (the soul?) mind and personhood.  How should conservatism work in a world where machines can read thoughts and thoughts can control machines?  What happens to personal responsibility in a world where the neural correlates of motivation and empathy have been modeled at a high level?  What happens to liberal emphasis on individual personhood and choice when consciousness is just another networked physical information cloud?  I know it sounds like science fiction, but the Olympic Committees’s already arguing about the ethics of robotic enhancements to injured athletes, and fMRI brain scans are getting close to reliable lie detection.  Already, I’m hearing that revisionist TEC priests are deferring and referring troubled souls to therapy for anti-depressants.

My point is simply this: if conservatives want to take the offensive, they have a real chance to become though leaders in a very disruptive neuro-environment.  They can use technology to create things like StandFirm or be the first people to interpret tech to promote an appealing vision of human dignity in a potentially scary environment, or they can get stuck fighting a rearguard defense against not only fluid sexual identities but also fluid human-machine identities.  Think about how much better off we’d all be if conservatives had developed an appealing moral vision for reproductive technology before WWII rather than letting Margaret Sanger frame the pill in connexion with Planned Parenthood or waiting for Roe vs. Wade.

[11] Posted by The Plantagenets on 6-29-2012 at 04:36 AM · [top]

Sarah,right on the money.  However, there are some things that need to be said.  First, this is just the outworking out of our sovereign Lord’s plan.  Everything is on schedule.  Ps. 77 tells us that when everything collapses and there is no hope, then we are merely to begin thinking on all the previous mighty acts of God and how he brings triumph.  He doesn’t waite on a majority to see the light, but usuall suddenly intervenees usually by raising up a leader who is talented, knowlegable, and an exellent communicator.  1776 Washington only had thirty percent of the citizens with him and lost all his battles up to the battle of Trent where he crossed the Deleware River.  Winston Churchill was such a leader as was Ronald Regan.  We need to pray for good leaders, proclaime the truth, and waite for the Lord to act.  We cannot put our trust in Kings or man.  So lest just waite and see.

[12] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 7-1-2012 at 09:06 PM · [top]

The real battle is not in the political arena, but in the Spiritual Realm.  We need to be praying and trying to change hearts for Jesus via the Holy Spirit.  This is the real battlefield.

Having said this, I agree that we need some Conservative Leaders with fire in their belly to step forward and LEAD.  Pray that these leaders are raised up, and that they are transparent believers in Christ.

[13] Posted by B. Hunter on 7-2-2012 at 12:52 PM · [top]

Consider the tryouts for Republican candidacy.  Who had the courage to say, “We are
in a hell of a mess, and it’s going to hurt like hell to get out of it.  I can’t do it alone,
but maybe we can do it together, if you’re willing.”  That was a an admitted, born again sinner who could tell it like it is.  And he got crushed.  What’s left?  A prince
who says, “I was a successful businessman, therefore I can solve all the problems
without hurting anyone!”

Sarah, I attend a little dying Episcopal church with my wife who is happy with the social network therein.  No one talks about theology.  I’m leading a discussion of
Romans in fall.  A few old timers like us will show up, mostly for the camaraderie.
No one talks about TEC, either.  We just hope that we can keep the doors open
long enough to have a nice funeral.

[14] Posted by profpk on 7-7-2012 at 08:55 AM · [top]

Just to add a little personal experience to this remarkable Jeremiad that Sarah has written.  I offered my services as a strategic planner to our rector and wardens,
in order to get them on a path to growth.  No dice.  They are committed to following
the old Episcopal model of just keeping the doors open for anyone who might wander in.  A few do, who are looking for community and congeniality.  We are truly very nice people.  But there are not many of us left.

[15] Posted by profpk on 7-7-2012 at 01:21 PM · [top]

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