Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Casey on Nationalism (1)

Doug Casey on Nationalism and the State.

Nationalism is, most importantly, a psychological attitude. It amounts to making your nation-state a major element in your life, where you view yourself not so much as a human being or an individual, but as an Italian or an American or a Congolese or Chinese or what have you. Nationalism makes you see yourself, and others, as part of a collective.

Of course, there are different flavors and degrees of nationalism. “Patriotism,” for instance is automatically considered a good thing, wherein you reflexively support what your nation-state does. But it’s really just a euphemism for nationalism. It’s nationalism made righteous, with overtones of hearth and home, as opposed to politics. Then you get “jingoism” when patriots get overenthusiastic.

I think it’s a mistake to automatically give your loyalty to any large group that you belong to just through an accident of birth. For instance, should you have been a Soviet patriot just because you were born in the USSR? Should you have been a German patriot while the Nazis were in power?

Nationalism amounts to saying “my nation-state is the best in the world because I happen to have been born there.” It’s really a very stupid psychological aberration because it places an accident of birth above much more important things like your ethics, desires, and attitudes.

Nationalism, no matter what flavor, can be a very dangerous thing. It brings people down to the lowest common denominator. It encourages groupthink.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cannington School

Last weekend, I  attended the 125th celebrations of Cannington School in South Canterbury.

When I started in 1954, it was a single-teacher primary school. By the time I left at the end of Form 2, the baby boom had turned it into a tw- teacher school. The temporary classroom in the left of the photo was trucked in for the junior classes.

I had the same teacher all the way through my primary schooling. The photo shows the senior school in 1960. The lad on the right in the back row looks blessed, but he does not look like he wanted to become an economist.

My father and grandfather attended the same school. My mother taught there for two terms as a relieving teacher, a couple of years after finishing at Training College, while they found a permanent replacement for a teacher who had been called up for military service.

A widow with a grown-up family offered her board. Her farm was only 2 miles from the school, which was close enough for my mother to bike to school. A couple of years later she married one of the young men in this family, and the rest is history.

The old school room has been replaced, but meeting with people that I had not seen for many years was interesting and enjoyable.

Farming has changed. When I was growing up this district concentrated on sheep farming. With declining prices of wool and frozen lamb, the emphasis has shifted to cattle, some dairy farming, and dairy grazing.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Eschatology of Politics

Scot McKnight of Jesus Creed made the best comment I have seen on the US presidential election on a Kingdom Roots podcast. He made it before the results were known.

There is a massive distortion. Increasingly, American Christians get all riled up, just as the rest of the United States does during the election season and they develop an eschatology of politics. That is the belief that if we vote in the right person, the world will change, or our government will change, or our nation will change in the direction that we think that it needs to go.

For eighteen months, the church has been massively distracted from the mission of God in this world, which is not the betterment of the United States, but the evangelization of the world and the edification of Christians in the local church and the church universal.

The churches have been massively distracted from their mission, because they have becomes, along with the world, obsessed with political process and a belief that if we get the right leader, our nation will be a better place. This is almost belief in a theory of redemption through political process. I find this to be disgusting theologically, and unrooted in the Bible.

More important it focuses us on the wrong thing, in political process as a means of redemption, and it prevents us from seeing that the true means of redemption is the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, and the locus of that redemption is the church…

We are de-confessing that world will only become a better place when it is redeemed through Jesus Christ.

Scot’s concern also applies to those who believe that electing the wrong person can send the nation to wrack and ruin. That is also an eschatology of politics.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Unity in Diversity

People like to be with people like themselves. So a strong society needs agreement on a core set of beliefs to remain united. A great deal of diversity can be tolerated, provided people accept these unifying beliefs. Not everyone has to accept the unifying beliefs, but if they are widely accepted, those who don’t like them will have to go along to function within the society. (Allowing people freedom to disagree with the dominant beliefs, provided they do not disrupt society was once called tolerance).

For many centuries, Christianity provided the unifying beliefs that held society together in the Western world. The principle of loving one another as Jesus loved us allows people of diverse cultures to live in unity. A tax collector and a zealot could work together, because they were committed to following Jesus.

At its best, the church tolerated a variety of cultures, provided people accepted some core beliefs. (At its worst, the church persecuted minority beliefs).

With the advance of secularism, belief in democracy has been the unifying belief that holds nations together. Now faith in democracy is on the wane, under pressure from identity politics.

In modern society, tolerance is becoming the dominant belief. Differences are to be celebrated. This has produced great freedom, but it cannot unify a society, because it builds diversity at the expense of unity. If this trend continues, society will be torn apart by class conflict and identity politics.

If there are no unifying beliefs, the only thing that can hold a society together is dictatorial state power, often justified by fear of external enemies.

Friday, November 25, 2016


Modern people have a shallow and naïve view of culture. They assume that diversity of culture is always a good thing. After all, a variety of cuisines at a food fair cannot be a bad thing.

Cultural diversity can enrich a society, especially if culture is confined to different foods, clothing, music, art, dance, worship and religious festivals. Unfortunately, culture often goes much deeper and produces different attitudes to political authority, military force, violence, which make diversity a problem.

If religion is limited to cultural activities, then diversity of religion can enrich society. The problem is that religion at its best should go deeper. If religion produces different attitudes to family relationships, government authority, violence, war and property, religious diversity creates problems for a society.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Politics cannot do it, because politics power creates winners and losers, majorities and minorities. Majorities get privileges and minority are shut out.

Racial reconciliation must be local,
because that is where love and forgiveness dwell.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Kings and Priests

We are called to be priests and kings.

He washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father (Rev 1:5-6).
Since the reformation, Christians have been serious about the priesthood of all believers, even though we do not always practice it.

We have not taken the kingship of all believers nearly so seriously. We are kings.

A king does not need another king to rule him. If he surrendered to another king, he would stop being a king.

If Christians are kings, they don’t need a king or some other political system to rule them. We need to work out what that means.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Supreme Court

Trump will be able appoint some conservative judges to the Supreme Court. The impact will not be as great as people think. The Supreme Court has always followed the people. I suspect that it will continue to support social change, as it always has.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Not a Revolution

Trump is not a revolution. The demographic that voted for Trump is aging and declining. Rather, the presidential election was a temporary setback for the slow-burning social revolution that has been underway for the last 20 years. It still controls most of the influencing institutions in the US. It will surge forward again, unless there something significant happens.

Likewise, the evangelical church will continue to decline in numbers and influence, unless something dramatic happens.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Political Power

People who believe in transformation of society by political power lurch between disappointment and hope.

If their politician loses, they are disappointed. From then on, they see every problem as the consequence of the wrong political leaders being in power. They did not trust these leaders, before they were elected, so they are not surprised when thing wrong. Everything that happens confirms their disappointment.

If their politician wins, they are filled with hope. They expect the situation to improve. When economic and social problems arise, they are caused by the mistakes of previous set of politicians, or their refusal to give up power. When their politician disappoints, they are not disappointed.

Political power is a false saviour, because it provides human salvation. At best, political power will fail. At worst it becomes a vehicle for nationalism that becomes an idol. Sometimes it is the idol of nationalism that creates the need for political salvation.

The only true hope is the good news of the Kingdom of God announced and established by Jesus.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Another Big Quake

Just after midnight, a 7.5 earthquake struck the top of the South Island of New Zealand. We felt the shake in Christchurch, but it was not as bad as the 2010 quake that wrecked the city. The shaking went on for more than two minutes, and seemed like it would never stop. But there was not serious damage in Christchurch.

The quake was centred further north in an area that is less intensely populated and has no high-rise buildings. I imagine that is why there have only been two fatalities. The worst affected towns were Hamner Springs and Kaikoura. Both are tourist towns. Hamner is famous for hot pools, mountains and skiing.

Kaikoura is popular for whale watching. The picturesque highway that travels down the coast through Kaikoura has been closed by dozens of slips. Many tourists spending the night there in their campervans are stranded, while they wait for the road to be opened again. The area is still being rocked by serious aftershocks.

There is serious damage in the small rural villages like Waiau and Culverden. I am sure there is serious damage on many of the farms too.

Some buildings in the capital city Wellington have been damaged, but this seems to be more superficial.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Great Again?

Donald Trump wants to make America great again. This is problematic, because America has never really been great. It has alwasy had a dark underbelly that belies greatness.

Anyway, only the church and the kingdom can be truely great. And the kingdom of God is not a nation state.

Of course, America is not a nation state. It has always been a multi-national state. Unfortunately, a multi-national state has a tendency to fly apart. This is partly what the presidential election was about.

A multi-national state needs a common enemy to keep it united: Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Iran, ISIS. Some are trying to recycle Russia for this unifying role, but it is too weak to be a serious enemy.

When its enemies are defeated, the only thing that can hold a multi-national state together is a political dictator. That is why most multi-national states eventually become an empire.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Spiritual Power

The United States presidential election has not changed the spiritual powers that control the nation. It has just changed the personnel they will control. That is why very little will change, regardless of the election.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Establishment Foreign Policy

Robert Parry writes.

American voters felt they needed a blunt instrument to smash the Establishment that has ruled and mis-ruled America for at least the past several decades. It is an Establishment that not only has grabbed for itself almost all the new wealth that the country has produced but has casually sent the U.S. military into wars of choice, as if the lives of working-class soldiers are of little value.

On foreign policy, the Establishment had turned decision-making over to the neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks, a collection of haughty elitists who often subordinated American interests to those of Israel and Saudi Arabia, for political or financial advantage.

The war choices of the neocon/liberal-hawk coalition have been disastrous – from Iraq to Afghanistan to Libya to Syria to Ukraine – yet this collection of know-it-alls never experiences accountability. The same people, including the media’s armchair warriors and the think-tank “scholars,” bounce from one catastrophe to the next with no consequences for their fallacious “group thinks.”

Educated Elite

Daniel McCarthy has a interesting comment.

America’s educated elite—in the academy, the media, government, and the para-governmental world of think tanks and pressure groups—has been systematically and collectively wrong about some of the biggest questions in foreign policy, economics, psychology, sociology, and culture. The best and brightest have assumed for twenty years that what every man and woman on earth most deeply desires is to become a liberal democrat. Steel workers in Pittsburgh and goat-herders in Afghanistan really in their heart of hearts yearn to be more like Washington Post op-ed columnists.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Establishment Elites

The US Presidential election was a massive poke in the eye for the political/media/financial establishment. However, these bureaucratic elites love power and will only give it up reluctantly. They are skilled at manipulation of the news  and experts at controlling the political process, so it will be interesting to see how much really changes. I suspect that the establishment elite will retain most of their power.

Manufactured Fear

The Clinton campaign characterised Donald Trump as "scarry". That was a clever tactic, because it is emotions that persuade, not ideas or policies. Emotion is even more powerful than image for persuasion. The media joined in on the "scarry" theme and people believed.

Clinton did not win the election, but the emotion remains. Now people all over the world who absorbed this message are afraid.

Biggest Loser

The biggest losers in the US Presidential Election were the news media. They like to take the role of kingmakers. They were united in their support for Hillary Clinton and vociferous in their hostility to Donald Trump. Their pollsters and pundits predicted a Clinton victory.

Trump talked over the media to the people and won the primaries. He seems to have done the same in the general elections. Very amusing to see their shock, embarrassment and dismay.

They have now turned their failure into a story, but they have not acknowledged that they deceived themselves.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Pukekura Park

We really enjoyed the Fernery and Display houses at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016


Taranaki is dairy farming region with flat land growing good grass. I can see why the European settlers quickly kicked out the Maori and took over.

Wherever you go the Mount Taranaki is towering above, except when covered by cloud.

Monday, November 07, 2016


Patea has a great song called Poi E! And a movie about the making of the song.

But it's economy has not recovered from the closing of the Freezing Works in the 1980s. Many of the shops on the main street are empty.

Sunday, November 06, 2016


We have just returned from a holiday in the lower part of the North Island (New Zealand).

Whanganui is a beautiful city on the banks of a river.

But the economy is a bit run down, with many empty shops.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Civic Totalism

Michael Bird has some interesting thoughts on civic totalism. This struggle could get a nasty.

"Key to civic totalism is the view that public institutions are supreme and civil society is reduced to a legal fiction where liberties are granted, modified, and revoked by the will of the state. In addition, the distinctions between public and private increasingly shrink. As a result, private life is treated as an artificial construct and it is no longer regarded as an impenetrable frontier with special privileges. "

"Consequently religion too, within civic totalism, is regarded as dangerous since religion ascribes notions of ultimacy to something other than the state and the state’s vision of the public good. Religion creates a competing social vision and an alternative morality, which divides the loyalty of citizens away from the state’s objectives for human conduct, rendering certain forms of religion as hostile to the state’s ambitions. "