Here we stand—in 2021—already facing turmoil. That is not a joyous remark by any means, it is only as I feared. I took time away from Truth In Focus and my other writing responsibilities to reflect and regroup. I watched in horror as the Capital was quickly ransacked my QAnon radicals devoted to President Trump all the while radicals of the left scheme their socialist ways forward as they subjugate the House, the Senate, and soon the White House. And I witnessed “Big Tech” eroding free speech under the guise of privatized policies. Failing to see, or accept, that the present public spaces are digital with Twitter, Facebook, Youtube as platforms of speech, economic activity, religious worship, and more. Everything we forewarned in our November Issue (2020) that tyranny is coming in multiple forms all at the service of globalism and the global economy has come. History has witnessed a paradigm shift soon to be completed as the new neoliberal order turns into a monstrous corporatized quasi-socialist beast.
Now that the four horseman 1) Wokism 2) Socialism 3) Corporatism and 4) Globalism have arrived it is only appropriate to speak against them.
TIF has never been political, but rooted in principles. And this year will be no different. Now is the time to begin the process of renewal for generations to come. Imagination will play a fundamental role as we uncover the requirements for rebuilding society after its collapse in values, family, law, faith, and morality. Together we will embark on a journey just as the pre-socratic philosopher Anaximander who mapped the black sea and lead a colony to Apollonia (modern-day Albania). Transverse the lands as the Apostle Paul establishing the truth of the Gospel throughout the eastern and western worlds. And write as Plato in his Seventh Epistle concerning Italy and the political deluge he witnessed that left him with a revelation, “Wherefore the classes of mankind (I said) will have no cessation from evils until either the class of those who are right and true philosophers attains political supremacy, or else the class of those who hold power in the States becomes, by some dispensation of Heaven, really philosophic.”
A true Christians and Conservatives it is clear that nothing perfect exists in the physical world, and even if it should, it will eventually collapse under its own weight. Mankind is left with a constant preparation for a New Eden while upholding the past including the dead who sacrificed to make the future possible. Indeed, no real eden will come from whence it first arose, but to imagine new beginnings is as American as it is human. Whether they are called colonies or city-states their purposes are designed to bring forth light and hope; justice and peace; law and order to a people.
Presently the United States of America no longer represents that land of hope. It is therefore paramount to process present discourses in order to learn from failures and successes. This is not a call to rebellion. Rather the opposite. It is a call to dream again a better homeland for our children and grandchildren. Rarely in human history are the opportunity to recreate such a situation. A paradigm such as we have been witnessing, however, allows us to move beyond circumstances as a necessity to preserving sacred liberties and divine freedoms.
Articles written by me will be focused on specific issues not just people and never on gossip. While there will be political coverage from writers like Kimberly Hagen concerning the Biden Presidency; my focus as the editor in chief is to bring theology and philosophy to the practical world concerning global concerns.
Digital liberty, Corporate Tyranny, Food Politics, Climate Change, Sustainability, Abortion, Religious Freedom, Free Speech are all matters requiring redress. This year, I will personally be bringing forth concerns from around the world in order to build a coalition in the name of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.
Virtue is required. Faith in God is a necessity. Truth and justice must be directives for us to obtain liberty. Rediscovering the meaning of education beyond the laptop are as important as defining a true Republic away from broken democracies. Our goal is to accomplish peace, goodness, and morality as means of transcendence for a society desperate for life and purpose; hope and meaning.
Truth In Focus (TIF), All Things Veritas (ATV), MereBeautyInTruth (MBIT), EKR Report, and the newest to the network, Philosophers Rex, will all be receiving much needed care. In doing so I must split up my time wisely and productively. TIF specifically will become a weekly report minus specials that I shall continue such as my monthly Visual Philosophy series. ATV will turn to monthly posting as well with a TIF podcast and Christ the Coffee series returning. Apologies but I am a one man show still. It takes time. Yet, there is much to be done and added. Lastly, the Substack EKR Report will return to some normalcy as continue to share more of my personal life and thoughts with the world outside of TIF and ATV networks. As Philosophsarus Rex (also Substack), I am proudly beginning this journey with Thomas Doane as we enter a philosophy program together. There are still kinks for us to work out, but expect at least weekly posting to begin tonight.
There is no ship too large for this journey. Join us in helping make a better world for the future.
As the days pass the world waits on the ballots to be counted with fraud investigations beginning, U.S. court handling disputes, and protestors marching in the streets for their cause or candidate (or both); the very legitimacy of the United States government along with the Media and Corporate America now all teeter in the balance. Whoever is elected now enters a more susceptible environment, one that may no longer be able to sustain favor of a wary public. Radicals now seek revenge regardless of who is in office. If Trump is reelected there stands a good chance that radical leftist elements will bring fire to the streets. Should Biden obtain the Presidency, it is uncertain if Trump supporters or even if President Trump himself will stand down; or if Biden himself is mentally up to the task, begging the question, under the assumption that Biden is elected, did half of America actually just elect America’s first black female president? All of these concerns are being asked. Emotions have peaked. Late Modernity’s perpetual state is here. It may be time to consider a different way forward by first stepping back.
On September 29, 2018 the following thesis statement was presented before professors at a university:
“Arising from identity-based ideologies, secular modern American colleges and universities have increasingly adopted identity politics into their institutional practices. This adoption has resulted in limited discourses and substantive debates between opposing ideological, philosophical, scientific, and theological systems and their claims. Such practices dilute knowledge which in turn reduces innovation, ideas, and the search for truth. Furthermore, identity-politics is beyond the walls of academia, influencing other public and private spheres. In the wake of these changes, a growing wave of opposition has formed, offering new ideas and possible solutions concerning identity politics. But are these solutions viable?”1
That was my thesis.
In October of 2018 I presented my theory (a model built for higher education in mind) called: “Collision at the Intersection of Ideas:The Crisis of Identity in Higher Education“2
My argument was that identity-based politics or the ideological belief that a person’s identity whether based on race, gender, sex, age, or even areas of religion were becoming a point of irreconcilable contention within higher education to such a degree that it narrowed actual learning concerning facts, knowledge growth, and differing perspectives all at the determent of the core purpose that is higher learning. I defined Identity Politics from Francis Fukuyama’s book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment and a study by Marilynn B. Brewer titled, The Many Faces of Social Identity: Implications for Political Psychology (2001):
Individuals who, through their sense of identity, feel they are being alienated and demand recognition.3
To argue my thesis I had to present the structure of Identity Politics i.e. how it manifests in higher education, prove it existed within higher education, and present studies that demonstrated a conflict with the identity-based culture in colleges and universities (little did I grasp it was also in Christian colleges, seminaries, and churches at that point).
Using my definition of Identity Politics (IP) I proved actual mechanisms or tools within colleges that are utilized administratively by institutions of higher education including:
Social Justice & Equity
Phobias (e.g. Transphobia)
Along with studies that conflicted with the established narrative that universities hold as their position in opposition to other varying opinions (here are some examples I presented at the time):
Microaggressions and Victimhood Culture
Campbell, B., & Manning, J. (2014). Microaggression and moral cultures. Comparative sociology, 13, 692–726.
Campbell, B., & Manning, J. (2018). The rise of victimhood culture: Microaggressions, safe spaces, and the new culture wars. [No city]: Palgrave Macmillan.
Lewis, H. R. (2007). Excellence without a soul: Does liberal education have a future? New York, NY: PublicAffairs. Lilienfeld, S. O. (2017). Microaggressions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(1), 138–169.
Group Polorization & Identity
Cikara, M., & Van Bavel, J. J. (2014). The neuroscience of intergroup relations: An integrative review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9(245).
Even in 2018 I could see the intersection between higher education and the workplace or in politics, but I naively believed that Christian Institutions could safe guard themselves from IP.
Within my thesis I wanted to show two important factors at play within and outside of higher education:
1) A “Conflict of Visions” as explained by Thomas Sowell; a vision being “our sense of how the world works” as Sowell elaborates “Visions are the foundations on which theories are built… Visions are very subjective, but well-constructed theories have clear implications, and facts can test and measure their objective validity” (p. 4).4 From Sowell’s perspective, the place of conflict comes at the degree in which a vision is constrained or unconstrained; the more constrained a vision the less willing the society or group or person is to act on an issue of importance precisely because that action may result in a reverberation of consequences larger than the original issue. For example, ending a ban on gay marriage. An action of this kind, right or wrong, has consequences in relation to those who oppose gay marriage and are at conflict with other LGBTQ issues beyond just marriage. We see this contention between people of faith and a secular view in terms of rights. Without going into that debate, the unconstrained vision says that this is an act of justice; everyone should have the right to marry whomever they want in the name of love or some ethereal concept. A very real point of contention therefore exists between the two visions and neither vision is always right or wrong, rather Sowell demonstrates the need for logic and facts regardless of a constrained or unconstrained vision. Sowell recognizes the imperfection of reason itself as well along with the real emotional and psychological factors that come with these debates or visions of conflict. Nothing is perfect and that is the point by Sowell. There are no utopias, only gulags when a sect moves toward their utopian ideal which will eventually fail.
2) A collision concerning a conflict of visions had occurred; a collision at the intersection of ideas. Fundamental positions are now incapable of coexisting in a liberal democratic society because identity based politics that liberalism and capitalism, neoliberalism, successfully forged. The beginning decay of Liberalism started at the wake of postmodernism in the late 1940s after a disillusioned populace survived WW2 going into the 1950s with a lost sense of trust in human institutions and a desire for more in life. Old bonds, already decaying, were rupturing by the 1960s and onward. By the year 2000 society had reached a kind of peak as cultures became too convoluted and ideologies had heightened to such a degree that society, or my original focus higher education, was no longer capable of maintaining a real viability: the ability to live, grow, and develop outside an increasingly narrowing scope of indoctrination. Now I did not go as far as calling it indoctrination then, however, I maintained colleges have increasingly deduced arguments to a place of irreconcilable differences or a place of “Us vs Them” mentality.5 Conflict had become a wreckage; the ivory tower was now a rubble (a paper I wrote in the beginning of my program).6
By indoctrination I mean to suggest that institutions of higher learning, in order to preserve a status of legitimacy, had to follow and finally instill a progressive moral relativity that slowly influenced colleges which then exported those ideas back into general society. What I learned was that what happened in higher education was happening in the United States and throughout the west.
Today nearly every branch of government and workplace environment is subjected to a form of diversity, equity, and inclusion that goes beyond the boundaries of equality and merit and civil rights. Now a conflict exists to such a level that it slowly forced new convergences and divergences of groups; late modernity (1950 to the Present) was and remains a paradigm shift that now has liberal minded people either “moving” more toward the politically left or politically right; relgious beliefs are in the midst of a defragmentation as Christians and Atheists can more easily find themselves sharing similar social, political, and economic beliefs even though what roots them into their belief about abortion, gender, sex, or economics is not the same. Late modern society is rapidly diffusing but it won’t last forever because it is a paradigm shift, we are merely living in a point at which structures of authority, meaning, purpose, and legitimacy are all changing.
There are two layers concerning a principle of legitimacy as defined by the political scientist Francis Fukuyama: 1) “Legitimacy is not justice or right in an absolute sense; it is a relative concept that exists in people’s subjective perceptions” (p. 15)7 and 2) “A lack of legitimacy among the population as a whole does not spell a crisis of legitimacy for the regime unless it begins to infect the elites tied to the regime itself…” (p. 16).8 Fukuyama is directly speaking to strong-states, authoritarian states, in the latter point but the principle applies to a democratic society such as the United States.
All societies perform some kind of indoctrination in a general sense. But this was my first inklings of a radical leftist drive toward something entirely different than a “perspective” simply worth learning. No it was something much more. Prior to graduating it became clear that these beliefs aimed to throw Westernized, Christian believing, and anything considered “white” or “privileged” or “hateful” to the lions den. These were racist ideologs; Sowell’s worrisome quest-seeking Social Justice Warriors; Marxist at their core. That is not a political statement. These are real facts. Real people. Real radicals. However, after graduation it became readily apparent that QAnon conspiracies, the Alt-Right, Flat Earthers, and other far-right groups had left reality for an America that could be made great again if only they disperse “the enemy” at large.
Totalitarian movements are possible wherever there are masses who for one reason or another have acquired the appetite for political organization. Masses are not held together by a consciousness of common interest and they lack that specific class articulateness which is expressed in determined, limited, and obtainable goals. The term masses applies only where we deal with people who either because of sheer numbers, or indifference, or a combination of both, cannot be integrated into any organization based on common interest, into political parties or municipal governments or professional organizations or trade unions. Potentially, they exist in every country and form the majority of those large numbers of neutral, politically indifferent people who never join a party and hardly ever go to the polls. — Hannah Arendt, The Origins Of Totalitarianisms (1951), p. 311
As it stands a vote for Biden or Trump, however unwilling the populace may have been in their desire to vote, represents a repudiation and judgment over the other. A Biden victory is a win against hate, racism, and evil Americanism; a Trump victory is a vanguard against Woke liberalism and Socialism. Neither the ardent supporter nor the wary voter can see past the conflicting viewpoints. They see only a necessary conflict; a good versus evil. Currently Trump voters fear voter fraud in Arizona, Michigan, and other battle ground states. Biden supporters see it has a necessary reckoning after Hillary and Gore. Speculation runs rampant as major news networks and social media censors information including providing their own fact-checking creating a narrative that spins further the chaos. All the while Covid-19 continually magnifies uncertainty. Life at the moment is an upward battle; a fog of present distrust hangs low. No one knows what to believe or why except they having an appetite for politics in the midst of difficult times. Arendt further states:
The chief characteristic of the mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relationships. — Hannah Arendt, The Origins Of Totalitarianisms (1951), p. 317
Trends of loneliness, narcissism, nihilism, and fear have been rising for decades according to sociologist like Robert D. Putnam8 along with a great moral and economic bifurcation of White America as demonstrated by Charles Murray.9 America is divided and divided absolutely10 to the point it is frustrating institutions within the paradigm shift of power and authority. Rod Dreher sees the writing on the wall from his publication of Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents to last night’s (November 5, 2020) blog article, A Divided Country:
Law and order is so fundamental to the conservative stance towards the world. Had the BLM protests not been violent, they would not have stoked the Right so much. This is something that progressives deeply need to understand. On the Right, it’s not reaction against racial justice protests; it’s reaction against violence, and the justification of the violence we heard from many on the Left in the media. Joe Biden’s criticism of the protesters did not ring true…
We are going to remain a divided country. The election solved nothing. The idea, though, that if only we could have gotten rid of Donald Trump, then things would heal, was always an absurd fantasy. We are a divided country because we have lost the core narratives that bound us: a shared Christian faith (however attenuated), and a shared commitment to the historical narrative of America as an imperfect country that always strives to make life better for the next generation than the one that came before it.
We can’t even agree on what America is for anymore.
A Viable Solution
The United States of America has a real solution to resolving the pressures at present, but it comes at the cost of surrendering (a virtue few have) at at time when surrender appears as defeat. It is a mechanism designed within the very fabric of American Constitutionalism. We risk balkanization or greater tyranny if we fail to make this decision. American’s who wish to protect liberty and freedom no matter their political or religious beliefs must re-embrace a Strong Federalism.
Returning power back to the States so much power in fact that the Federal government is paralyzed from enforcing further legal decisions on the states as it has been in the last one hundred years. Believe in high taxes, enormous regulations, and progressive laws? Move to California, Oregon, New York, or Washington state. Let states decide nearly every aspect of life, make their Constitutions have meaning and purpose again. Take elections away from the national pull that desires a single leader, a hero of hope and change. America must loosen its grip by giving power and authority back to the states at the cost of ripping out the cords of a broken federal government and it’s deep state.
Next Time: A Return to Strong Federalism: A Historical and Philosophical Argument for the States
1 Richey, Edward K. 23 September 2018. Collision At the Intersection of Ideas: The Crisis of Identity in Higher Education. Thesis. University of Texas San Antonio.
2 Ibid. Presentation.
3 Brewer, M. (2001). The Many Faces of Social Identity: Implications for Political Psychology. Political Psychology,22(1), 115-125. Retrieved November 6, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3791908
4 Sowell, Thomas. 2007. A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles. NY: Basic Books.
5 Lukianoff, Greg., Haidt, Jonathan. (2018). The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up A Generation For Failure. New York, NY: Penguin Press.
6 Richey, Edward K. 6 December 2017. An Ivory Rubble: Postmodernism & The Collapse of the Modern University and its Impact on Society. University of Texas San Antonio.
7 Fukuyama, Francis. 1992. The End of History and The Last Man. NY: The Free Press
8 Putnam, Robert. 2000. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. NY: Simon & Schuster
9 Murray, Charles. 2013. Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. NY: Crown Publishing
10 French, David. 2020. Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation. NY: St. Martin’s Press
Here now is our special November Issue for 2020. These are articles written across the country concerning The Four Horsemen of western apocalypse who are trotting forth in the apparitions of: 1) Social Justice, 2) Identity Politics, 3) Socialism, and 4) Corporatism. Ladies and gentlemen what awaits us is totalitarianism from a behemoth of government, corporate, and institutional structures both private and public whose reach goes from west to the east, north to south that have adopted a leftist ideological framework. No one is truly safe from these rabble-rousers. This is dark money, big business and big banks; it is Wall-Street and government agencies. The Real Deep State.
What I am presenting here is my oversimplified Theory of Postmodernism and Modernity.
Postmodernism, a terminology that requires no introduction for my present discourse, is a philosophical movement that has rooted itself deeply into every spectrum of academic discipline from which it has transformed the actions and beliefs within institutions of power from governments to corporations around the globe. Postmodernity—is the argued period in which we live within a postmodern society versus that of Modernity (1500-?). I join Jacques Barzun’s timeframe found within his book, From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present (500 Years of Western Cultural Life). The Protestant Reformation changed the nature of power forever. Humanism and Protestantism shared a three-legged pedestal as Catholicism ruptured underneath the cataclysmic abrasion that has been festering decades prior to the Reformation. Modernity gains its preeminence from the idea that mankind with the use of science, reason, and technology can be improved at a nearly limitless potential. A product of thought that the Enlightenment took forth as their lamp for the future. While Luther, Calvin, Knox, and Zwingli believed that human nature was corrupt under the weight of sin that only Jesus Christ can redeem, it was their revolution that transferred the role of interpretation and potential over to the common. For good and for bad this set into motion our present state of late modernity—a perpetual state.
Simply put, I am arguing that postmodernism is a reflection of reality, not the actual source but a still water or a mirror that is reflecting the present state of the human mind. Modernity has not ceased to exist. Modernity has successfully entered into a warp state, a state of the hyper-real; hyper-individual; and hyper-sensitive. Postmodernism is the warp state of modernity. Modernity is a product of its own success which solidified four core essential elements of existence into the modern psyche: 1) Secularism; 2) Liberalism; 3) Socialism; and 4) Capitalism.
Out of this cycle, modernity was able to produce an unreal state of human existence outside the last five-thousand plus years of human civilization in only a short span of time. Capitalism slowly removed the old walls of government control and sustenance into a market state. Liberalism prides itself on the might of the individual. Socialism was and remains a reaction to both as it calls for community and regulation outside of a total free-market state. Lastly, secularism alone is not new, however, it gained popularity as cultures shifted from industry to post-industry and decadence. Science and technology play central roles in all four elements of modernity. Lastly, religion remains, almost as an antagonist, yet also a tool in the modern utilisation of puissance. Social justice, Critical Race Theories, Feminist movements, Gender studies are all examples of this layering of the Self as the quintessence of time and fortune.
Anti-liberty entities whether under the names of Fascism, Communism, Socialism, Maoism, or Totalitarianism; it changes nothing in that the present reality stands between two polars, a state of liberty or tyranny, liberalism or illiberalism. Social attitudes are now forced to conform under a perpetual state of flux. Late modernity has birthed neoliberalism, a merger between capitalism and liberalism, that can also include another ism—Corporatism.
Corporations are the High Churches of Modernity; the Cathedrals of yea or nay. Under a neoliberal market state the general public has great difficulty in explaining differences between private or public, real or fake, good or evil. Everything runs together into a stream of confusion at a speed that no single person can maintain without a collision, a collision of ideas and values and beliefs. This is now constantly happening as society is confronted with insurmountable conflicting differences; a wrecking of contradictions.
In a Secular Hyper-state, the only apparent resolution is a totalitarian reaction. Modernity cannot principally escape itself. There is nothing beyond Modernity except Pre-modernity. If liberalism and capitalism represent freedom then all other opposition is bound to represent oppression. Now that is not an absolute statement. There are “third-way” examples of communitarianism or another alternative of Theonomy that argue a way out of the cycle but truthfully they all fall prey to the dilemma of rights of the individual, liberty for all, and freedom without restraints (again not an absolute statement).
So what we are left with, I am arguing, is a discourse of conflicts: nature versus mankind; eat vegan or you are a horrible person; give up your religion; don’t tell me what to do; join the movement; hate speech… it all blends into an in-cohesive state, the perpetual state.
Truth In Focus started as a blog to share ideas, peer into American culture, and establish principles by which to follow in life that look beyond the mere political lines of left versus right but established on Christianity first and Conservatism secondly; a place for faith and principles; theology and philosophy. That commitment not only remains, it is emboldened at a time when the world “does what is right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6, ESV). Faith has always been important, however, our faith could never be more important at time when political leaders, multinational corporations, billionaire globalists, and radicals of either leftist or right political persuasion who seek to topple goodness and faithfulness and righteousness for their own sake. History does repeat itself and it does so through a single source, human-nature.
Man may proclaim they are above and beyond pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth; however human nature and human history demonstrate an entirely different story. Today injustice and irrationality thrusts the United States of America and the Western World into a spiral, yet based on whose justice and which rationality, as Alasdair MacIntyre titled his 1988 book.
Our Christian Faith
Here at Truth In Focus that answer begins and ends with Scripture by support of the Universal Christian Church and Philosophy as her handmaiden. While there may be no perfect answers to every cause or issue, there are a plethora of sources that Christians and Conservatives can obtain in working towards a better and brighter future with people of all races and backgrounds. A sacred place of common ground. For Christians, such a common ground begins and ends with Jesus Christ alone at the center.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen
Indeed there are a great many creeds, confessions, and statements that make Christianity and Christian History rich in study and practice. Learning the The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (1571), The Westminster Confession (1646), or the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) demonstrate our similarities and differences. This is not a weak advocating that all Christian churches are the same because they are not. Simplistically, accounting for great doctrinal differences without deep detail, the Christian faith can be described in one essence as Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, Arminian, or Anglican. While these historical differences exist and cannot go ignored, there is a real sense that Christianity must be a faith as Christ intended His Church to always be: a Sacred Body with Christ as the Head, that stands on dogmas and doctrines, working through our differences, proclaiming Christ Alone through His Grace Alone by means of faith and repentance, upholding eternal biblical truths, and critiquing the culture by ultimately pointing to Jesus Christ.
As they relate to each other in coequal First Principles of the Christian Faith: Affirming the death, resurrection, ascension, and return of Jesus Christ; that Christ died for the sins of the world and only through Him can a person be saved through faith/repentance to enter the Kingdom of Heaven; and affirming the truth of the Triunity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Without these affirmations there is no Christianity. Christ is Lord or there is no faith, church, or a foundation to build upon as Christians (1 Corinthians 15: 12-34).
Our Conservative Philosophy
Either there is a philosophy established on truth, reality, and virtue or there is nothing. Anchors therefore are discovered and maintained to build such a structure. Conservatism is that philosophy under the context of what I call Primitive Conservatism:
A form of conservative thought detached from a particular time or place, but rather seeking to incarnate eternal principles discovered throughout all human history. It values the rights of individuals through the understanding that liberty and freedom are not detached from principles that uphold their stability. In order to maintain individual rights there are required responsibilities and encouraged responsibilities laid upon citizens, institutions, and governments alike. No society on earth lacks responsibilities rather fewer societies openly acknowledge the necessity of holding society toward standards choosing instead a lesser form of liberty. Primitive Conservatism seeks to frame and structure responsibilities into laws, norms, and mores. Virtue is its primal source. Liberty is a living structure that requires constant care. Specifically, primitive conservatism is concerned with three areas pertaining to the survival of liberty at large: Morality, Justice, and Dignity.
Under no circumstances does philosophy triumph faith rather it assists to construct where Scripture and Theology are silent, unclear, or in need of further structuring . The Christian faith pronounces the underlying determinations of morality, justice, and dignity; it structures virtue versus vices. Nothing can come without God.
More progressive, liberal, and libertarian minded individuals may find themselves conservative under these circumstances once they grasp the value of its philosophical though surely imperfect discourse. Humility is the first of many virtues, nothing good is gained from pride for “[o]nly by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom” (Proverbs 13:10, KJV). Even Warren Buffett quotes the Book of Proverbs in his Buffet reports (annuals and letters). Why? Because Lady Wisdom has a source. Another acknowledgement, there are no “races” but the human race (Acts 17:26), an ideal Darwin himself sought to confirm through Evolution in respect of persons, yet neither Darwin nor Christianity ignore the trials and tribulations of different cultures or ethnicities or races. A Primitive Conservative holds to that same standard of belief. We can reject differences without rejecting the human-being, for example, a person may freely reject all religious beliefs (an Atheist) without necessarily rejecting the entirety of personhood. No one will always believe equally but they can be held to an equal respect as a human life created by God. Granted nothing comes easy from such discourse as it requires hard thinking and real restitution. Hence the value and principles of Justice, Morality, and Dignity. Liberty must be watered by virtue. True philosophy demands thinking hard and faith in Christ requires holiness from imperfect beings. A mystery worthy of embrace.
Tradition, Faith, Imagination, and Reason are pillars of conservative minds yet hardly the only institutions of established belief. Since the time of Plato (and prior but one has to start somewhere) questions concerning justice and morality have been considered essential to a societies livelihood. Over the centuries the question of justice has been centralized or trivialized; Thomas Sowell wrote, The Quest for Cosmic Justice (1996), argues that attempts to achieve justice too often results in injustice. Perplexing and a reminder that no perfect justice can be achieved on this side of heaven. At best humanity can consider the deep complexity of matters at hand while holding firm to proven methods of easing concerns.
Dignity has entered the modern lexicon as a central theme by legal thinkers and political activism at the turn of the 20th century out of reaction to horrific events. Modernity forewarned internal dilemmas of freedom and totalitarianism as Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Communist Russia arose to power threatening the entire globe, clear distinctions now but saviors at their insurrection points. Yet today totalitarian desire remains as Hannah Arendt (Philosopher) analyzed:
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist (The Origins of Totalitarianism 1976, p. 172).
Modern American culture suffers these preset delusions as the lines of reality blur further and further into nonexistence. Distinctions turn extinct at the risk of unraveling all that is human, nature, and God. Technology and science are purported in late modernity as saviors for a Secular Age. Mammon is worshiped at the altar of the global economy served ferociously with hopes of maintaining a decaying decadence while people suffer, reality distorts, and the environment both the natural world and cultures decline. Meaning and purpose are in shambles.
Our Promise, Our Purpose
In light of human events the only right recourse is to build a set of institutions that seek truth over lies, reality instead of irreality, and virtue rather than the unvirtuous life. That is where Truth In Focus (TIR) comes in. A statement of principle that purposes itself on a foundation of truth; a voice for the voiceless and a defense of the defenseless based on the Christian Faith and Conservative philosophical principles. Nothing could be more important at this time.
TIR Stands On Five Pillars:
We are obligated to the truth regardless of the individual or institution in question. Truth stationed in the Christian Faith and Conservative Principles.
We support principles over politics; people over profits; and the practical over the utopian.
Society is at the mercy of Multinational Corporations, Powerful Institutions, Big Pharma, and Big Government who serve at the seat of Crony Capitalism and Woke Socialism; TIR serves neither and seeks to bring the powerful into the light regardless of their political leanings.
Rebuilding the Community is essential but under the understanding of a Republic; a nation and a people who respects a virtueous individualism rooted in God, Family, and Country. TIR supports Federalism (the Rights of States), the Rule of Law, the Constitution, and a Living Liberty ingrained in virtue.
Knowledge, Meaning, Purpose, and Reality are at risk; TIR serves to be a place that inquires facts over emotions to establish real meaning and purpose in the lives of our readers. Presently the globalized world is captured by a hyperreality of biased journalism, deep fakes, unsubstantiated science, and technological sedation. Therefore, we seek to break these trends for the sake of rebuilding the Good Life.
Future articles will be using these principles as guides for our readers; Food Politics, Black America, Rights to Privacy, Constitutional Issues, Corporatism, Christ & Culture; Theology; Women & Society, Men & Society; Indigenous Groups; and The Family are only a few topics that will be Our Focus at Truth In Focus.
So the question is now on you, the reader, will you join us? If so, sign-up to our email list, share TIR, like our articles, and join our groups.
As readers know each Monday there is at least one author, blogger, researcher, or artist who is highlighted for their work. This is a combination of August and September because the month has had fewer highlights due to unexpected travel. That said there will no longer be Monday Announcements but rather Monday Reviews from past weeks works along with highlights of the week and any additional announcements. So please take a look at the highlighted thinkers and artists whose work is changing the world for the better.
Excerpt: “The horrific murder of George Floyd on May 25 sent America reeling. Opinions on racism, prejudice and justice have flooded our social media feeds and news outlets. Many see this tragedy as yet another instance of racism and oppression, but others insist that the statistics on police brutality and crime debunk that this event is connected to a larger problem.”
About: Kari Kurz is a freelance writer, thinker, and Christian speaker including the 2020 conference, GirlDefined. Kari works with young women and girls in finding truth in a world of confusion. She is a skilled communicator, planner, and researcher.
Excerpt: “Increasing political polarization, rioting, and socialist ideals are becoming the norm for American society, but is this really what we want? While the ideals of socialism can sound appealing to younger generations, it is important to understand socialism in practice and its real-life blowback by studying examples of socialism in other countries.”
About: Adjunct at Concordia University School of Business and Communication; Specialist in International and Comparative Politics; Ph.D student at USF School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies
Excerpt: “Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental illness? Have you ever met anyone diagnosed with a mental illness? In America, it would be quite difficult to not know someone diagnosed with a mental illness.”
About: (MOT/ OTR/L) (Licensed Specialist in Occupational Therapy)
Note: Grant and I will be doing a future cross dialogue on the questions concerning Health, Purpose, and the Meaning of Life.
Special Note: Her work is brilliant as it is transcendent. Holmes art is an aesthetic expression of MereBeautyInTruth. Using largely Christian imagery including an entire series on her interpretation of the Lectio Divina, an ancient traditional christian practice of prayerful scriptural study, Katherine transforms scripture into beautiful translations of artistic expression. Please consider supporting this artist by commissioning her work. – Edward Kyle Richey
About:Katherine Holmes grew up in Ft Worth, Texas and graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Art degree.
A passionate painter, she interned in Cardiff, Wales using art workshops as a way to connect with the homeless and socially isolated. After two years of working alongside this people group, she returned to Corpus Christi, Texas and became an artist with K Space Studios. She worked as a fine artist and mural assistant with the gallery before returning to Cardiff to begin a Masters in Art Psychotherapy in 2017.
Alongside her masters, she is currently an artist with the Share a Life project, spending the last two years leading art workshops in homeless hostels, interviewing clients, and painting their portraits. These paintings have become a travelling exhibition that is constantly evolving as new portraits are produced. This project is set to finalize in spring 2021.
Katherine is currently a member of The Sustainable Studios in Cardiff, and uses the studios to develop her own art as well as creating custom portraits for a variety of clients.
Rod Dreher (Editor/Writer). Dreher wrote what I think to be the most important article of this decade. It will be the only article showcased here today.
Senior editor for The American Conservative Magazine, Dreher looks at Prof. Ibram X. Kendi, a radical public intellectual whose books include How to Be an Antiracist (2019) and Stamped from the Beginning (2016) are best sellers over the rise of Black Lives Matter. Kendi has been covered at New Discourses specifically in the article, Defining Racism Up: Ibram X. Kendi’s Weird Definition of Anti-racism. As writer and economist Thomas Sowell explains, “[i]intellectual’s work begins and ends with ideas… Adam Smith never ran a business and Karl Marx never administered a Gulag… They were intellectuals” (Intellectuals and Society, p.3). Kendi is cut from the same cloth. As Dreher cites from Kendi’s own twitter account, a person is either racist or anti-racist but never not racist. Kendi’s intellectualism distorts reality for his radical ideals which are to make us all broke or woke. He cannot nor does not acknowledge the absurdity of his argument that we must always be “Doing the work” of fighting racism which sounds like a good cause until one realizes that his form of racism is everything White, Eurocentric, Westernized, Classically Liberal, Conservative or Judeo-Christian in nature. His ideals are as I have noted:
Far from the spectrum of coexistence, woke ideals hold a Socialist-Marxist predisposition in uprooting systems by devaluing people who oppose them and belittling constructive debate that could possibly cultivate ideas across ideological lines. Almost a hundred years ago (98 to be exact) the economist and social theorist Ludwig von Mises published, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis (1922), warning against socialism:
According to the Marxist conception, one’s social condition determines one’s way of thought. His membership of a social class decides what views a writer will express. He is not able to grow out of his class or to free his thoughts from the prescriptions of his class interests. Thus the possibility of a general science which is valid for all men, whatever their class, is contested… Thus Marxism protects itself against all unwelcome criticism… Marx and Engels never tried to refute their opponents with argument. They insulted, ridiculed, derided, slandered, and traduced them, and in the use of these methods their followers are not less expert. Their polemic is directed never against the argument of the opponent, but always against his person. Few have been able to withstand such tactics (pp. 18-19) (Source: Get Woke or Get Broke: When Reason Fails to Stand).
In their mind, not only are negotiations over but they were never going to begin. They are here to destroy. Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such a radicalism in America as these Intellectuals whose ideas are quickly infecting corporations, governments, and the like. And it all arose from Colleges and Universities.
Ricochet (Podcast) an audio network of leading conservative podcasts has several excellent conversations going this week. From The Radio Free Hillsdale Hour (One of two Hillsdale College’s podcasts that I am aware of) had an interview this week with Adam Carrington, Roger Kimball, and Kathleen O’Toole. Adam Carrington is assistant professor of politics at Hillsdale College and discusses the history of political conventions. Roger Kimball, editor and publisher of The New Criterion and president and publisher of Encounter Books, discusses his recent essays on the rule of law amid protests and riots in America. And Kathleen O’Toole, assistant provost for K-12 education at Hillsdale, talks on Covid-19 and the coming school year. First Things from First Things Magazine (which I subscribe to and suggest everyone should) produced an interview with Dr. Lawrence M. Mead III a professor at New York University and a leading thinker on welfare and poverty who now faces the wrath of cancel culture for producing a paper titled, Poverty and Culture, where Mead suggests that racism alone does not explain poverty in black and hispanic communities but rather an adopted non-western, un-individualistic norm may be their root cause for poverty. Mead’s views are accused as racist and unscholarly in nature as his paper faces retraction, for additional insight see a report by Retraction Watch. While I do not necessarily agree with Mead’s assessment I do support his right as a scholar to produce work that can be either proven or disproven in the open without retraction or threats. Finally, The Roth Effect with Carol Roth interviews model Danisha Carter on “Connecting with Gen Z on Capitalism” over the rise of Socialism taking place.
First Things (Web/Magazine) has a web exclusive section that includes an article by Iranian columnist Sohrab Ahmari, The Books Behind The Rage. Ahmari argues that leftist academia whose works include On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder has produced a false, antifascist narrative as he describes, “If someone sincerely believes that Trumpism, and analogue movements across the developed world, aren’t just conservative-nationalist or populist but fascist or Nazi-ish, then he has a right and even the duty to oppose the elected government of the United States militantly, to help strangle in the cradle the 21st century’s equivalent of the most odious tendencies of the last century. While I understand the sentiment the issue goes both ways concerning extremism and the rise of threats. Radicals of the left are being accused of being Neo-Marxist for example. President Trump is not a fascist yet several cabinet members were connected to the alt-right movement. Ultimately people must be able to make decisions freely or they face being wrought by propaganda and control though anti-conspiracy, fact checkers, and bans that claim to “know better.” Granted conspiracies arise regardless of restriction. I believe it is a deeper problem than Admari suggests but a short read worthy of consideration.
Virtue may not seem an obvious topic to discuss in our post-American, post-Christian, post-Liberal, and post-Western state; virtue might even appear meaningless or useless to a people preparing for whatever wave of turmoil comes next or welcoming the awaited changes. But it is my hope to convince readers that virtue is of societal value (legally, politically, and economically) for those who desire goodness and faithfulness; honor and truth; respect and justice; law and peace. Virtue does not provide eternal salvation, only through Christ is that achieved (John 14:4; Romans 10:9; Matthew 28:16-20), but virtue is a valuable means and end for Christians and non-Christians, Conservatives and non-Conservatives alike.
We are entering a new era in which there is not only no social benefit to being Christian, but an actual social cost. In many places, culture is becoming increasingly hostile toward faith, and beliefs in God, truth, sin, and the afterlife are disappearing in more and more people. Now, culture is producing people for whom Christianity is not only offensive, but incomprehensible.
– Keller (2020), How to Reach the West (Again)
As the world turns from material hopes and dreams toward material promises to escape the harshness of the world, the material world increasingly becomes the only means of escape for even the so-called spiritual. Unless pre-modern traditions and institutions of faith from the Monotheistic to the Polytheistic are central to a society, the DNA of its people, overtime societies forgo their “old ways” or their “old gods” for a new set of ways and a new set of gods. The gods never disappear as Christians understand that we are what we worship:
No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Luke 16:13).
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things (Rom. 1: 21-23).
It is here where Christian’s receive the term, “Virtuous Pagan,” the claim of moral similarities found between cultures. Aquinas for example understood the distinction between charity for the sake of charity and the Christian distinction to be charitable as Christ was giving and kind and gracious. This is why even Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox can work with entirely different faiths on causes that are set on a common good. Our actions speak of our character, just as our words speak of our heart’s truest desires (Luke 6:45). What then does Modernity (1500-Present) have to say? How has late modernity (1945-Present) particularly spoken of human culture and society?
Judaeo-Christianity “never did defeat paganism,” said feminist scholar Camille Paglia to The Harvard Crimson. Strong words that are completely true. Paganism has never left and is likely the strongest and oldest human root of belief that pervades to this day after the departure from Eden. From God to gods whether pagan or secular, Islam or Hinduism; the faith and beliefs of humanity intertwine between myth and reality in the story of human life including in the moral quest of right and wrong; good and evil; virtuous and unvirtuous.
As I had written once before:
Christians nor Conservatives are strangers to cultural critique including of liberal society (e.g. Capitalism or Free Speech) and upholding standards beyond the relative values of the day. As the conservative thinker Russell Kirk explained, “The pure democrat is the practical atheist; ignoring the divine nature of law and the divine establishment of spiritual hierarchy” (The Conservative Mind, p. 137). A synergy exists between the two over their respect for God and a moral law.
That “synergy” comes together in the form of an understanding that God created the heavens and the earth; establishing a universal natural law, a set of moral laws that all mankind are to follow regardless of belief.
Virtue by Decree means a set of obligations weighted upon and against all institutions that hold power and authority over a people. And it represents a set of values expected from those institutions. Whether a society upholds any values is dependent upon the willing responsibility of that people. Christians and Conservatives understand that humanity is wholly incapable of always doing good and remaining good. Human nature is corrupt and fallible. Even enforced “common good” principles can quickly turn to evil. Nothing lasts forever. Nevertheless we are called to be a people of virtue and must strive for it.
Why then Virtue? Why this topic now?
As the dividing lines between private and public increasingly ceases due to immense political shifts caused by economic, technological and ecological influences, the Christian faith and Conservative institutions are forced again to reconsider what is true, beautiful, and just beyond the present times. This is a good things for us, though it poses serious consequences and sincere fears.
Neo-liberalism, beyond classical liberal theory of private property and free-markets, is a merging of Corporate and Government, Private and Public powers that have blurred the lines of authority and extinguished the human capacity to live beyond what I call, theEconomic Gaze. Now the world worships the god of the Global Economy, a system entirely Too Big To Fail. Make no mistake, companies and governments are turning toward illiberal policies for their own survival. Those beliefs are antithetical to not only Christianity but nearly every conservative thinking or premodern believing faith, ideology, or philosophy; while classical liberalism has morphed beyond its original intent into the present neoliberal order making classical liberal ideology obsolete.
All of the known world is presently in a paradigm shift. From the jungles of the Amazon to the mountains of Nepal. Late Modernity is transforming the world and imprisoning it under an authoritarian mindset. Conflicts rise between countries striving for hegemony as citizens across the seven continents are under the weight of upholding a global economy and the unending, vastly scaling advancement of technology. Planet earth faces ecological consequences of water and food shortages, climate change, disease, and an alarming number of endangered species. Cultures are disappearing at a rapid pace losing whatever identity left. Nation-states are turning into relics as super-national unions continue forward despite setbacks such as Brexit. Although not over, 2020 marks the clear decay on the walls of crony capitalism, broken systems of government, fear politics, fake news, mass conspiracies, dangerous ideologies, and identity politics.
Therefore, I propose that Christendom and Conservative Thinkers must now begin to prepare for a better and brighter future should that future come. To begin a process of structuring what mankind has learned over the centuries, successes and failures, so as to reform or rebuild the crumbling globe before us.
Rod Dreher (Writer & Author) wrote an excellent piece at The American Conservative concerning the dreadful revelation of Becki and Jerry Falwell Jr sex-capades with their former pool boy. Liberty University has not been in my opinion a shining light for the Christian faith but the University still represents a large portion of American Christianity that dims the light even more. See:Falwell Family Values
Rob Henderson (Ph.D. Student at the University of Cambridge) published an article over atQuillette. Henderson argues that the rise of a luxury mindset has a corrupting nature going from high class society to the bottom. An interesting piece for our decadent times, but I would suggest that this corrupted nature exists in all of humanity and simply manifests in different ways depending on power, influence, etc. Still a valuable read for us all. See: Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class—A Status Update
Faith Angle (Podcast) A podcast that seeks to bring together scholars and journalists to discuss relevant issues through cultivating deeper religious consideration. Last week, I know not this weeks news but we all benefit from learning, was an interview with Rod Dreher and Andrew Sullivan concerning the rise of illiberal groups particularly in relation to Woke ideology and what Dreher calls “soft totalitarianism.” Dreher has a new and upcoming book, Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents (2020), coming out in late September. I imagine Dreher is borrowing the term from Tocqueville’s “Soft Despotism” found in Democracy in America (1835). Both are proper terms for describing the Western move towards Socialism and Marxist ideologies. See: Rod Dreher and Andrew Sullivan: Live Not by Lies