Culture, Economics, Eschatology, politics

Can You Help CCL by 11:59 P. M. Saturday, December 31?

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politics

David Bahnsen on the 2022 Election

  1. The Republicans have lost the Senate, and will either lose or narrowly regain the House. How did this history-defying disappointment come about?

Well, first of all, the Republicans will not lose the House. They are likely to end up with a majority of about 220-225 seats, meaning a net pick-up of roughly 7-10 seats. But yes, when realistic projections were for a net pickup of +25 seats, and many were calling for a net pickup of +30-40 seats, the end results are all at once disappointing and informative.

With the Senate, there is simply no question that it came down to candidate quality, and President Trump. Those two elements are not quite as separate as one may at first suspect. Gov. Doug Ducey would have won as a Senate candidate in Arizona but President Trump threatened him if he ran. Gov. Brian Kemp easily won re-election in Georgia and David McCormack would certainly have won in Pennsylvania had he prevailed in the primary over Dr. Mehmet Oz. From Arizona to Georgia to Pennsylvania, candidates cost us Senate seats – period.

But President Trump’s singular theme on [unproven] election fraud in 2020 had no resonation with voters, and where candidates made that their campaign’s purpose, they lost (House and Senate). When candidates were (a) Good, and (b) Message-focused outside of Trump, they won. It’s really that simple.

  1. Donald Trump is the elephant in the room, and he has been for the last few years. How should the Republican Party view him now?

Even a Trump critic like me would not suggest running as if all he did as President was bad. He was mistreated by the media, the Russia-gate moment remains an outrageous atrocity, and he did nominate excellent judges and sign into law the Paul Ryan/Kevin Brady tax cut. Those positive elements of his Presidency can be maintained in party messaging without this sycophantic, electorally-destructive fealty to Trump the man, who has proven himself to be a disaster at the ballot box (we have lost the House, the Senate, and the Presidency under his watch), and simply incapable of expanding a coalition needed to win. Even where one likes various policies, they have to view President Trump as someone who undermines the potential for more policy success, period.

  1. What are the economic implications of this election?

Very little. With gridlock not much will get done, at all, and a GOP majority House assures gridlock. Ironically, the Democrats likely “Manchin-proofed” their Senate lead (assuming they win the run-off in Georgia), but now lost the majority in the House. So fundamentally I don’t think much these midterms are that pertinent to that which our economy faces. The Fed, the direction of inflation, and the labor participation force are the primary factors in our short-term economic prognosis.

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Culture, politics

Pro-Family Abortion?

Carle Zimmerman has observed that the ancient Roman Empire supported abortion and infanticide precisely because it was so aggressively pro-family, just the opposite of the rationale for their support today. What he terms the trustee family placed life-and-death authority in the hands of the father or clan or kin, which could kill their preborn and children at will.

In radical contrast, today‘s abortion and infanticide is undergirded by radical individual autonomy, not radical familial autonomy as in the ancient world.

The church countered the trustee family with the domestic family, and subordinated the family to the church.

Biblical faith opposes both individual autonomy and familial autonomy (as well as ecclesial autonomy, for that matter), and forbids all abortion and infanticide.

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Culture, politics

Against “Post-Liberalism,” Left and Right

Memo to U. S. conservatives:

1. We should be standing boldly for Jesus Christ, the Bible, marriage, the family, preborn children, the elderly, two sexes and two sexes only, patriotic conservatism, and respect everywhere for God’s moral law.

2. We should be standing boldly for liberty — classical liberalism: religious liberty, political liberty, economic liberty; free markets at home and abroad, a multi-party system, negotiated politics, severely limited government, checks and balances, and the God-given right of every God-imaged human to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We should grasp that culture, not politics, is the great vehicle for social change.

3. We should be standing boldly, for both 1 and 2, simultaneously.

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Culture, politics, Theology

Cultural Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is an alleged mental malady in which one’s behavior is stamped by alternations of a period of euphoria, energy, and ecstasy, with a period of moroseness, withdrawal, and languidness. It is often treated by medications. Whether an actual clinical condition or not, all of us have known individuals suffering from what is termed bipolar disorder.

A. J. Conyers’ The Long Truce: How Toleration Made the World Safe for Power and Profit[1] makes the intriguing suggestion that John Locke’s view of political and religious toleration that made such an impact on the modern West (not least on the United States) created a bipolar society that has led, despite his best intentions, to our present social disorder: a cultural bipolar disorder.

Two Poles: The State and the Individual

The two poles of society  are the individual and the state. This bipolar society was unprecedented before modernity. In most of the ancient and medieval worlds, society was comprised of individuals all committed to several interlocking and interdependent institutions, what we today term “civil society.” The most important were the family and church. Others included the guild and the local community. Individuals were also political citizens, of course, but the state was merely one institution among several, and in some ways the least important (though most coercive), since it was the only one that was artificially constructed.

The family, for example, was a given, a natural institution without which life was impossible. The church was a supernatural institution, created by the triune God as the indispensable public assembly of his blood-washed people. This means that individuals participated in numerous institutions concurrently, each of which fulfilled its own distinctive role and demanded its own loyalty of its members. Society was multi-polar, not bipolar.

Locke and others (including especially the French Romantic thinker Rousseau) believed that these pre-political institutions constituted a threat to social tolerance and stability since they demanded a devotion that conflicted with the devotion to other people’s families and churches. After all, the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), fought largely between Roman Catholics and Protestants and in Great Britain also between High Churchmen and Puritans, had left its bloody carnage all over Europe.

Locke and other thinkers wanted to propose a society in which intensity of religious belief in particular was mitigated and the state was empowered to forbid religious persecution by remaining neutral in religion (an impossibility, since some religion, even if it be secularism, will prevail). This could happen only if the chief loyalty of individuals was reserved to the state. Individualism and politics would thereafter govern life. The state didn’t mind individual freedom as long it was expressed individualistically and did not vest too much devotion to the family and church.

Our Disordered Bipolar Culture

With hindsight we know  how socially pernicious this proposal has turned out to be. Almost every social factor of modern life conspires to dilute civil society and embolden the state, always under the guise of liberating the individual from the oppression of the family and church and other “private”[2] institutions.

Children are encouraged to circumvent parental love and authority and create a separate relation with the state, allowing girls to get abortion and both sexes to get vicious, violent “gender reassignment surgery” without parental approval.

Spouses can get a quick and easy “no-fault” divorce. Radical autonomy negates the marital covenant — what’s important is not “signatures on an old piece of paper” but my current desires and aspirations, which might not include my spouse. The state intervenes to collude in the elimination of the marital covenant. The state and the individual alone are the poles.

The church, in addition, is considered “non-essential” during draconian Covid lockdowns because the state insists on an unmediated relation to the health (or supposed health) of individuals. The church as an institution of safety and healing (including in some cases physical healing) simply doesn’t enter the bipolar cultural calculation.

At the heart of the bipolar society is “expressive individualism,” the widespread idea that The Good Life is about “following your heart,” getting plenty of “me time,” and “being authentic.” Before modernity, the good life was defined as knowing your place in God’s order and living there for his glory. Only those who did this could expect to be fulfilled, since the Creator alone knows how best to fulfill his image-bearing creatures.

We have lived to see, in Conyers’ words, “the long-term consequences of a society in which individuals come to think of themselves as free of every bond and every obligation except that of the state.”[3] A society plagued by divorce’s broken families, porn’s objectification of women, abortion’s slaughter of preborn children, homosexuality’s and transgenderism’s inversion of the sexual order, feminism’s purging the woman’s and man’s dignity, and Critical Race Theory’s inciting racism and racial strife exhibit the socially chaotic consequences of bipolar cultural disorder.

Conclusion

Rebuilding Christian culture demands restoring the multi-polar society. We must overturn statism, the notion that there is no social problem for which increased political control isn’t the best solution, that every social problem (poverty, drug addiction, uneducated youth, wealth disparities — or a viral epidemic) is really a political problem that just doesn’t know it yet. Christians in particular must implement and restore the pre-political society. The family and church must again meet most of the needs presently met (inadequately and oppressively) by the state.

For example, healthcare should be de-nationalized. Education should be returned to the family and church and “private” schools. There should be plenty of “social safety nets” — the net of the family and church and friends and neighbors, not the state. The reason those “private”-sector nets are so hole-filled today is that the bipolar cultural disorder resists all competitors; the state must marginalize any institution that competes for its loyalty. This hatred for civil society that so stamped Marxist regimes like the old Soviet Union is equally fierce in the benevolent social dictatorships like the United States.

But just as God exists in community (Trinity) so he created man to exist in community.

And that community dare not be limited to two poles: the state, and the individual.


[1] (Dallas: Spence Publishing, 2001), 137–141. I’m grateful to my friend Dr. Roger Wagner for recommending this book several years ago.

[2] I place “private” in apologetic quotes to highlight the widespread semantic strategy of referring to politics as a “public” good and free markets as a “private” good, as though politics benefits everybody while the free market benefits only a few greedy people caring only for themselves. The opposite is more nearly true: free markets benefit everybody, while politics these days benefits the politically connected.

[3] A. J. Conyers, The Long Truce, 146.

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Culture, Economics, Law, politics

“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” Isn’t

Today the CalPers board considered the widely implemented Diversity & Inclusion Report and Framework. CalPers is a massive agency for California employees, retirees and their families and manages the largest pension fund in the United States. I was asked by one of the CalPers members to address the board on this pressing issue.

Here are my prepared remarks:


My name is P. Andrew Sandlin, and I am founder and president of the Center for Cultural Leadership in Coulterville, California. I hold degrees in English, history, political science, and systematic and historical theology. 

I hope you won’t mind a contrarian viewpoint. 

I’ve written about 25 books, and have specialized in an investigation of both Classical and Cultural MarxismCritical TheoryCritical Race Theory, and systemic racism.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and the Diversity & Inclusion Report and Framework (statement linked above) incorporate widely attested Critical Race Theory whose root is Cultural (Western) Marxism. All of us deplore racism, for example, but Critical Race Theory instigates hostility between races at a time when we should be working toward racial harmony and understanding. The same is true of sexual preferentialism and its affirmative action.

Moreover, this program will alienate many hard-working Americans among your constituents, Christians, and others who believe in equality under the law, fair play, free speech, and equal rights. The attempt to create special preferences for special groups is a revitalization of the old classically Marxist idea of class consciousness, today known as identity politics.

CalPERS should recognize the equality of all members and not attempt to privilege some and (unintentionally) deprivilege others.

DEI will undermine the ideals of fairness, objectivity, and fair play and could alienate a sizable portion of your constituency. 

We live in a time when new and dangerous ideologies are overtaking the elite reaches of our society and as they filter down, they are bringing great harm to our common, hard-working citizens and their families. DEI is a prime example of this ideological poison.

Bias is always a danger, but coercive preferentialism is perhaps the worst bias of all. 

I urge you to bypass this proposal and, instead, work toward a truly fair approach toward all. 

We need fresh, innovative thinking, not a rehash of old, discredited Marxism. 

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Eschatology, politics, Theology

Realized Religion : Victory Already, Before the “Not Yet”

“One of the most prominent errors in the history of the church is postponing massive blessings of creation and the gospel to the eternal state. If the liberal churches wish to re-situate all the blessings in the ‘already’ (since they have no actual eternal hope, and often turn to revolutionary politics for salvation), conservative churches tend to push most of the blessings off into the ‘not yet.’

“They are both wrong.”

Get the e-book here.

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