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Two articles came to my attention today that are well worth reading. The first comes from Judge Andrew Napolitano as an Easter reflection called Hope for the Dead. He suggests an intimate connection between the ideal of freedom and rising from the dead:

“When the government takes away our free will, the government steals a gift from God; it violates the natural law; it prevents us from having and utilizing the means to the truth. The moral ability to exercise free will to seek the truth is a natural right that all humans possess, and the government may only morally interfere with the exercise of that right when one affirmatively has given it away by using fraud or force to interfere with the exercise of someone else’s natural rights.

We know from the events 2,000 years ago, which Christians commemorate and celebrate this week, that freedom is the essential means to discover and unite with the truth. And to Christians, the personification, the incarnation, the perfect manifestation of truth is Jesus.”

Read the full article by the Judge here.

The second is by John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute and is entitled Jesus Lived in a Police State. He finds many similarities between how the Roman state acted around the time of Christ and how the US government behaves today:

“Just as police states have arisen throughout history, there have also been individuals or groups of individuals who have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age. Nazi Germany had its Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The gulags of the Soviet Union were challenged by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. America had its color-coded system of racial segregation and warmongering called out for what it was, blatant discrimination and profiteering, by Martin Luther King Jr.

And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for civil disobedience that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him. Yet for all the accolades poured out upon Jesus, little is said about the harsh realities of the police state in which he lived and its similarities to modern-day America, and yet they are striking.”

Read the full article here. Have any great articles you want to share? Let us know in the comments.

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Enjoy this great video from the Foundation for Harmony and Prosperity on the basic social principles of human flourishing. While not explicitly Christian, it is easy to see how it all fits together.

This is a great video to share with friends about why the non-aggression principle is so fundamental to how the world should be.

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medieval_christmas

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV 1984):

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of the coming of Christ. He already had done so in chapter 7, speaking of the Christ-child as a sign, born of a virgin. Instead of a sign in chapter 9, however, we see the child coming as a gift of grace.

Some people seem to interpret the next phrase as a kind of theocratic proclamation. On the one hand, such a view is not altogether wrong. Christ is indeed Lord of all, and even now we ought to echo that classic mantra, “No King but King Jesus.” However, the “government [being] on his shoulders” is not some sort of “Jesus takes control of the state” like Atlas bearing the weight of the world upon his shoulders. Rather, the insignia of kingly office at the time of Isaiah was placed on the shoulders, and, thus, declares the kingly nature of the coming Christ-child.

Still, what kind of king is he? What we understand from Jesus saying that his kingdom is “not of this world” should cause us to reinterpret this passage as prophesying the coming of the Kingdom of God itself – God’s active work in the world that he calls us to join. The rest of verses 6 and 7 show the character of that kingdom-work.

The four names he shall be called ought to frame our thinking, since naming in the Bible is intended to be character-driven. All of the names describe Jesus, of course, but I would speculate that the first three could also be interpreted as allusions to the Trinity. “Counselor” names the Holy Spirit (John 14:16,26), “Everlasting Father” obviously names the Father, and “Mighty God” intends to reference Jesus. Perhaps “Mighty God” is significant for two reasons. First, it demands accession to Jesus being fully divine yet fully man. Second, it declares the entirety of his work as mighty. Why is it mighty? True power is not found in power over others, but power under. Jesus’ power is displayed through his unconditional love and service. This makes him powerful. “Prince of Peace” further describes his work of reconciliation of God and man, and of course reminds us that our joining his work brings us peace and requires us to be of peace as well.

In the coming of Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God is “at hand” (Mark 1:15), and Isaiah says that his work, bringing peace, shall see no end. The fulfillment of the throne of David is not in a worldwide empire but in a cross that serves the entire world.  The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the focal point of the Kingdom work and message. Justice is thusly satisfied, and righteousness is thusly displayed, from that time on and forever.

God the Father, the Lord Almighty, is zealous for his Son and works to accomplish everything. The excitement in the words of this proclamation is palpable, and for me always brings to mind the glorious Messiah oratorio of George Frederic Handel. These two verses foreshadow our Savior’s work, and how different it shall be than any of the earthly kings and kingdoms that Isaiah experienced in his day. While those who desire earthly power shall pass away, Jesus’ incredible Kingdom is established “on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.” (Hebrews 7:16) God has graciously called each one of us into this work, giving us dignity and making us mighty as well, when we live in submissive synergy to his call.

This post is written in honor of my grandmother, Frances Horn.

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Jul
09

The Freedom Nobody Wants

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This essay is by Reverend Edmund Opitz, author of The Libertarian Theology of Freedom and Religion and Capitalism: Allies, Not Enemies, and is adapted from a seminar lecture de­livered as a mem­ber of the staff of the Foundation for Economic Education. It was published in the November 1966 issue of The Freeman. Read more from the Edmund Opitz Archive.

Freedom today has what might be called a good press; everyone speaks well of freedom. It is in the same category as motherhood, Sandy Koufax, and pure water. Nobody will admit that he is "agin" freedom. In modern times there has been a booming market for the Four Freedoms, and for Freedom Now. There is a vocal Free Speech Movement on college campuses. We celebrate freedom of the press and condemn censor­ship; we cherish religious liberty and hail academic freedom. The mood of our time is favorably dis­posed toward every freedom ex­cept one, and that outcast freedom is Freedom of Economic Enter­prise.

Economic freedom suffers attri­tion from within and attacks from without. Individual businessmen often seek to evade market man­dates, and intellectuals do not want people to have complete lati­tude for their peaceful economic transactions. This is how Profes­sor Milton Friedman views the problem: "It has often seemed to me that the two greatest enemies of the free market are business­men and intellectuals, for opposite reasons. The businessman is al­ways in favor of free enterprise—for everybody else; he is always opposed to it for himself. The in­tellectual is quite different; he is always in favor of free enterprise for himself, always opposed to it for everybody else. The business­man wants his special tariff or his special governmental commission to interfere with free enterprise, in the name, of course, of free enterprise. The intellectual, too, wants such commissions to control the rapacious man. But he is against the idea of any interfer­ence with his academic freedom, or his freedom to teach what he wants and direct his research as he wants — which is simply free enterprise as applied to him."¹

I wish to focus first on economic freedom and demonstrate that maintaining the integrity of the free market is essential to the preservation of every other lib­erty. Later I shall deal with some of the things on which the free market depends.

Read More→

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Hillsdale College in Michigan hosts Mises Lectures in free-market economics and houses the library of Mises in the Ludwig von Mises Room in its Mossey Library. But being a neocon outfit, it also has on the campus statues of Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill.

This dichotomy is also evident in the college’s monthly newsletter, Imprimus. The newsletter regularly features articles on the Constitution, limited government, and the free market. However, it just as frequently features articles that uphold Ronald Reagan, foreign wars, and an interventionist foreign policy. Imprimus sure has come a long way since Lew Rockwell served as its inaugural editor.

The most recent issue (April 2013) contains an article by R. R. Reno – the editor of First Things magazine – titled "Religion and Public Life in America" – that was adapted from a speech he delivered on February 20, 2013, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Bonita Springs, Florida.

In his speech/article, Reno slanders libertarianism. Here is the complete context:

A recent book by University of Chicago professor of philosophy and law Brian Leiter outlines what I believe will become the theoretical consensus that does away with religious liberty in spirit if not in letter. "There is no principled reason," he writes, "for legal or constitutional regimes to single out religion for protection." Leiter describes religious belief as a uniquely bad combination of moral fervor and mental blindness, serving no public good that justifies special protection. More significantly – and this is Leiter’s main thesis – it is patently unfair to afford religion such protection. Why should a Catholic or a Baptist have a special right while Peter Singer, a committed utilitarian, does not? Evoking the principle of fairness, Leiter argues that everybody’s conscience should be accorded the same legal protections. Thus he proposes to replace religious liberty with a plenary "liberty of conscience."

Leiter’s argument is libertarian. He wants to get the government out of the business of deciding whose conscience is worth protecting. This mentality seems to expand freedom, but that’s an illusion. In practice it will lead to diminished freedom, as is always the case with any thoroughgoing libertarianism.

So, according to Reno, a thoroughgoing libertarianism will diminish freedom. This is the most preposterous falsehood about libertarianism I have ever heard out of the mouth of a conservative. And it is strange that Reno would slander libertarianism based on the argument of Leiter, a leftist who is sympathetic to Marxism.

legalize_freedom

In a libertarian society; that is, a free society, government (the antithesis of freedom) is strictly limited, a real free market exists, property rights are supreme, and individual liberty abounds.

Libertarianism embraces financial freedom. Instead of the government confiscating a portion of everyone’s income and redistributing it in the form of grants and welfare, paying the bloated salaries of government bureaucrats, maintaining an empire of troops and bases, and spending billions on numerous boondoggles and pork barrel projects, Americans keep the fruits of their labors and save, spend, or support charitable causes as they deem best.

Libertarianism embraces educational freedom. This means no Pell Grants, student loans, vouchers, research grants, teacher-education requirements, teacher-certification standards, Title IX mandates, free and reduced school-lunch programs, Head Start funding, bilingual-education mandates, forced busing to achieve racial desegregation, diversity mandates, standardized-testing requirements, special-education mandates, math and science initiatives, directives such as the No Child Left Behind Act, restrictions on homeschooling, regulation of private schools, and, of course, no federal Department of Education.

Libertarianism embraces medical freedom. This doesn’t means just repealing Obamacare, but also the elimination of Medicare, Medicaid, FDA, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, SCHIP, government vaccination programs and mandates, government grants for medical research, medical-licensing laws, government funding of clinical trials, government HIV/AIDS-prevention initiatives, government nutrition guidelines, restrictions on organ sales, restrictions on the sale of medical devices, government regulation of medical schools, government medical records mandates, regulation of alternative medicine, federal laboratories, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, special privileges for the AMA and Big Pharma, and all laws and regulations related to drugs, health insurance, hospitals, physicians, and medical care.

Libertarianism embraces economic freedom. Instead of abandoning free-market principles in order to save the free-market system, as George W. Bush once said, libertarianism espouses a real free market based on the principle of laissez faire. This means no price-gouging laws, ticket-scalping laws, minimum-wage laws, anti-trust laws, interest-rate caps, SEC, FCC, FTC, Commerce Department, price-discrimination laws, restrictions on advertising, predatory-pricing laws, anti-dumping laws, special privileges for unions, corporate welfare, or restrictions on any business conducted between willing buyers and sellers.

Libertarianism embraces gun freedom. This means no government background-check system, waiting periods, government required gun-free zones, licensing of gun dealers, gun-owner databases, gun licensing, concealed weapons laws, government limits on gun purchases, government mandated trigger locks, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, National Firearms Act, Gun Control Act, Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Gun Free School Zones Act, bans on certain types of weapons, magazines, or ammunition, or regulation of gun sales, gun purchases, gun shows, gun storage procedures, ammunition, magazine capacities, gun calibers, or gun barrel lengths.

Libertarianism embraces personal freedom. Want to travel to Cuba or any other country? Go right ahead. Want to grow, sell, or use marijuana? Go right ahead. Want to discriminate based on religion, race, age, height, weight, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ethnicity, or color? Go right ahead. Want to drive without a seat belt? Go right ahead. Want to ride a bike or motorcycle without a helmet? Go right ahead. Want to fill in a "wetland" on your property? Go right ahead. Want to drink raw milk? Go right ahead. Want to purchase a beer on a Sunday morning? Go right ahead. Want to permit smoking anywhere in your bar or restaurant? Go right ahead. Want to play blackjack with your friends for money in your own home? Go right ahead. Want to purchase Sudafed without restriction? Go right ahead. In the words of the great Leonard Read, anything that’s peaceful. In a free society, consenting adults have the fundamental right to do anything that’s peaceful as long as they don’t aggress against someone else’s person or property while they do it.

In short, libertarianism embraces real freedom, not the false freedom of conservatism. Most conservatives never met a federal program they didn’t like as long as it furthered their agenda. We know what the conservative idea of limited government is: a government limited to a government controlled by conservatives. We experienced it for over four years under George W. Bush and a congressional majority of conservative Republicans. And what did that get us? It got us two senseless foreign wars, the destruction of civil liberties, a doubled national debt, the TSA, and the monstrous Department of Homeland Security.

For the libertarian, freedom is not the absence of morality, the rule of law, or tradition; it is the absence of government paternalism. Libertarianism is the absence of the ability of puritanical busybodies, nanny-statists, and government bureaucrats to make it their business to mind everyone else’s business.

It is a conservatism like that espoused by Reno and the Republicans that has contributed to this country becoming more and more every day a fascist police state. It is a conservatism like that espoused by Reno and the Republicans that diminishes freedom.

Originally published on LewRockwell.com on May 23, 2013.

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