Thursday, February 24, 2011

American Steward - Thoughts Regarding A Nation In Crisis - 2007

This was originally written and posted September 13, 2007.  I have modified my views about our nation's founding to incorporate, for example, an understanding of the political means, land speculation and the merchant class. The view is less glowing, recognizing the fatal flaw in our Constitution and the motivations which drove decisions and actions of the founders. 

As a nation, we have a tremendous organizing document and a rich heritage, but we lack specific required knowledge.

September 13, 2007

It is no secret that the United States is a nation in crisis. We have been warned about the fruits of our choices as a nation in many ways, for many years. Anticipating the challenges that lay before us, Benjamin Franklin responded to an inquirer that the Constitutional Convention had produced “a republic if you can keep it.” 

We could be verbose, filling pages with anecdotes, cases and proofs, but we must not. The role of American Steward is to identify the goal, teach people how to see the goal and then to teach people how to keep their focus on the goal. To be clear, the only people who are less misguided are those who hold as a specific purpose the willingness to wisely decipher the information they consume. This deciphering is a required pursuit of thinking people who value freedom and this pursuit must be intentional.

Framing and communicating "the goal" will be left for another time.   This text serves a different purpose.

Before we go further, please understand that American Steward is wholly focused on profitable, labor oriented, productive, earn-our-own-way stewardship. We firmly believe that it is possible and indeed the actual fact of our early history that productive labor in a capitalist economy mixed with right teaching and training and defended by our particular constitutional form of government can produce and maintain a strong social fabric. Defining and communicating the how and why requires analysis that goes deeper than the applied training in order to provide a proper foundation for this training. Such an analysis follows now and leads to specific action.

The difficulties with a Republic are ever present. With the exception of the natural obstacles associated with our precise current condition as a Republic, our turn at the helm presents no other unique challenges because people are people.  People are subject to the same passions today as yesterday and tomorrow.

However, each turn at the helm has the following distinction.  Each generation will find that the captain’s station has been fitted with controls and gages that are different. Different how, you ask. It doesn’t matter. If we focus on how each panel differs from each other panel, we are not focused on the goal. The point of understanding how to fly a plane does not consist in knowing the differences between control panels in different planes, but rather in understanding how the one control panel you are using guides the plane you are flying right now in a world of fixed laws.

Fixed laws exist; both physical and spiritual. Human passions dictate responses based on training. Training occurs every day. Training tends in one of two directions. Training of one sort, when widely adopted, tends toward a world in which men are governed from without by force. Training of another sort, when widely adopted, tends toward a world in which men are governed from within by virtue.

It can be said that life consists of a series of choices, based on belief. Each day we rise and act. Our actions are based on our belief system; our worldview. In the life of a Christian, for example, faith is proven by action. Anyone can say they “believe” a thing, but it is quite another matter for a person to be asked to take an action on the basis of a lightly held “belief.”

How do people go about formulating beliefs? What drives belief? It is clear that some people have outwardly and clearly “destructive behaviors.” How do these beliefs, choices and destructive outcomes fit together? These questions must be left unanswered in this text, but these are critical questions which do indeed have answers.

In the Western, Post-Modern era, we have educated people to believe that Merit is non-existent. We have trained people to believe that everything is good or bad in the eyes of the individual, based on their belief and choice. This is moral relativism and is false. The mechanism was noted and the outcome was predicted by C.S. Lewis in his Abolition of Man essays. In our education systems and social consciousness, we have hidden the concepts of Merit and Transcendent Truth away in a dark cellar; with armed guards at the entrance.

Transcendent Truth and Merit were central to the ideas and drive that brought men out of the dark ages. 

In 1215 the Magna Carta recognized that both the Ruled and the Ruler were subject to the same Transcendent Truth. Therefore laws must not be arbitrary or show favoritism. 

In contrast, it is not possible for people to enjoy unity based on philosophy, because philosophy, by its very nature, originates from within the individual. Only by the common medium of revealed truth is there any hope of unity among men.

We have vanquished these ideas of Merit and Transcendent Truth in Western Civilization and our children are being rewarded by being carried steadily toward a new era of oppression.

The Bible is unique in its ability to stand under the scrutiny of our best honest academic minds and at the same time stand in the context of the life experience of millions of believers. The Bible, having diverse authors over hundreds of years, maintains a clear, single and uniform message throughout. With regard to truth, every writer in scripture writes what he received, not what heconceived

The debate over the role of the Bible, the Christian faith, the Ten Commandments, etc. has gone on from the birth of our nation. Thomas Paine is a famous antagonist in this regard. However, to suppose that dissenting voices would ever be completely absent is illogical. Likewise, to suppose that dissenting voices indicate that the decisions made were wrong is also illogical. To disagree with a contract that one signed in the past does not invalidate the contract.

With a proper understanding of authority, contracts and legal process we are able to see that this nation was clearly formed with a firm reliance on God by men who were committed Christian servants. 

Seldom is an individual one hundred percent committed to a given decision. We decide something firmly and commit our heart and our course of action, but we sometimes have lingering questions about the choice we made. So it is with our nation. The heart and course of our nation was committed with a firm reliance on the God of Christianity. This is easily and readily evident in our historical documents and our historical monuments.

There are people who pervert facts and collaborate with likeminded “historians” to provide circular references to validate their positions. However, even these people could, if they were honest, see that our nation began and operated for 150 years as a nation having a firm reliance on God. Maybe our founders were deluded and mistaken to have taken this tack. That, after all, is the central argument of many of the contrarians to our view. However, notwithstanding our national sins and mistakes, our overall success as a nation in these first 150 years is undeniable. This success cannot be separated from the decision by those in authority to commit our nation to a firm reliance on the God of Christianity.

If we believe that revealed truth is our only hope for a civil government comprised of a self-restrained citizenry and if we recognize that our nation began and operated with a reliance on Christianity... Could we then be well advised to end our historical analysis right there? Is it possible that we should take note of our beginnings, use our best interpretation of transcendent truth as our guide and think about how we, you and I, want to “keep our Republic?” What future do we see for our nation and our people? After developing an understanding of the foundation, does the endless debate about what people thought or meant really serve our best interest today?

We have before us two choices. We may choose philosophy or revealed truth as our foundation and guide. Philosophy is fatally flawed because it originates from within and is therefore subject to continual evolution and reinterpretation, as well as being subject to the individual passions of the philosopher. Or we may choose revealed truth which has served us well as a nation and which is unchanging.

If we use revealed truth as our foundation and guide, we will interpret the Constitution in the same way our founders did. Just as two Christians have the potential for unity today based on a shared reverence for revealed truth, that same shared reverence will align our thinking with the thinking of the founders from over two hundred years ago. It is not the text of the Constitution that secures our freedoms; rather it is the degree to which the Constitution is congruent with, and reflective of,revealed truth that has the potential to secure our freedoms. That potential security is only accessible if we rightly interpret the Constitution in the context of revealed (or transcendent) truth.

Too many of our judges and leaders have chosen the platform of philosophy to satisfy their intellectual arrogance and rebellious hearts. As children these people were failed by their teachers. They were not trained in the disciplines of truth.  Today they are our judges and leaders.

We have an inherently unstable republic which is at the mercy of the passions of each new generation.  These passions can only be restrained by the functional quality of revealed truth. This truth is useless unless understood and applied. In order for truth to be applied there must be a cycle of training which leads to understanding and application.

American Steward is dedicated to answering the question “So what actions should be taken by leadership oriented citizens?”

We believe that teaching and training must be developed that will enable us to model successful market based strategies that take into account the need to address the tasks of teaching and leadership in the workplace. If we do not maintain a principled, well educated citizenry, we will have no future as a nation of free people.

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