Not an Ideology, a Worldview
Do I have an ideology? Well, I have a world view, a Biblical world view as best I can follow it. As such, I believe in “love your neighbor as yourself” as well as loving God with my whole being, neither being an especially easy proposition. I believe in the value of God-given life and regard every person precious, worthy of my respect, someone I should value; but I also believe that humans are flawed, sinful, and apart from God prone to evil. God promises to rescue us from our condition through Jesus’ death and promises us eternal life proven in Jesus’ resurrection. By this means, God’s grace changes us, me, enabling me to love unconditionally and sacrificially. He frees me from bondage and teaches that truth produces freedom; such freedom is precious, the basis for my commitment to both individual and social responsibility. I mistrust the motives of men and women, especially those who seek greater and greater power and the schemes they devise to get it. I seek to be trustworthy and grant others trust until they prove unworthy. God entrusted his creation to human care and charged us to be fruitful. By perpetuating humanity and utilizing earth’s resources wisely and creatively, we do his will; by heeding his commandments to love, we make the world a better place. If we don’t, well, that too.
Do I have an ideology? Well, I don’t have a playbook other than a growing understanding of the Bible, but I do have a guiding system of beliefs, a world view, a Weltanschauung, so in that sense an ideology. Despite the popularity of despising ideology, we all have one whether acknowledged or admitted even to our own selves. I’ve been accused (I discuss this in Friendly Discussions) of being unthinkingly ideological, and that simply isn’t true. My wisdom, knowledge, and understanding have grown over the years, as I listened, read, and thought. I consider people’s ideas and justifications, but I don’t just swallow them. Some ideas I believe more strongly now than in the past, and others have changed, grown, and been adjusted. This independent thinking applies to be secular and spiritual realms, and it has caused me more than my share of difficulty among various Christian associations.
No one tells me what to think or believe. I value opinions and insights and even new information, but I find little positive value in easy labels, snide comments, and summary rejections, unsupported by logic or facts. I am unimpressed by pundits, professional or amateur, who presume to hold superior views but refuse to explain or defend them. I respect good thinking but don’t embrace ideas simply because the speaker or writer is “important,” “famous,” or “recognized.” Neither am I impressed with those who dismiss my opinions with the word “rhetoric,” which seems to be the secular version of “dogma.” Rhetoric is the third level of a classical education, beginning in grammar, the vocabulary or facts of a subject, then to logic, learning how to think and communicate rationally, and finally to rhetoric, where one learns the best ways to express himself and make an effective argument. Dismissing someone’s ideas, thoughts, opinions, or arguments as “rhetoric” merely dismisses the person as if to say, I do not respect you well enough to consider what you say—inappropriate for a friend or even a respected enemy. Only experts in whatever topic of discussion might have the right to be somewhat dismissive, and even they, I would hope, would respect the person enough to be a teacher rather than a snob.
My mind is not closed; neither is it undecided on most things of importance. From back in my teens, I have occasionally argued more forcefully than I believed and later reconsidered things I have vocally opposed (though less often as the years have passed). Of course, this doesn’t happen when people dismiss me or refuse to support their position. I’d say I am a hopeful skeptic; many things make me doubt and question, but I try to see the future with a measure of optimism, anchored more in God than in people. I’m less concerned about how we got here than how we get outta here. I am impatient with blaming and excuse-making, and I am eager to see strategies for fixing things that do not involve the government’s power to tax or regulate.
Am I pragmatic (another over-used word)? Well, as it happens, I believe what I do, partly, because I think it works best. It’s convenient and trendy to prefer to reject the past, but doing so also ignores the enormously positive influence the Christians have brought to the world. Because we value life, early Christians began to elevate the status of the women, infants, the injured and sick, slaves, and prisoners, creating hospitals and orphanages, and over time demanding the end of slavery, changing the status of women, saving lives previously thrown away, and establishing the dignity of humans. We are slowly letting these values slip away as “love your neighbor as yourself” yields to “love yourself first of all.”
As a “pragmatic” sinner, I recognize the potential for evil and believe that, apart from the life-changing influence of God, rejecting faith and values leads generally to evil. The alternative is “survival of the fittest,” though a few irrationally hang on to their values without a rational justification. Even some who claim faith either ignore God’s Great Commandment, get tangled in their own weakness, or use religion to justify their hatred, something the Bible rejects plainly. Good intentions easily can lead a person into error and tragic consequences, hurting another person in the process or even causing many to suffer. I surely have made and still make mistakes, but I have always prayed for two things: first, to be wise (based on Solomon’s example—link) and, second, never to harm others; sadly, even wise Solomon made hurtful mistakes and so have I.
I believe the first step of faith is to confess my own sin and rebellion against God and his will, so I believe in the importance of admitting error, whether it is willful or accidental. Many today forge ahead, adding error to error, rather than admit failure or failing, leading to worse and worse disasters. A few caught doing bad things pretend to be sorry; most of them are sorry they’ve been caught, though God knows those who were genuine (such as Chuck Colson, for example). I give people the benefit of the doubt, as I cannot read hearts or minds, until subsequent behavior proves an earlier lie. I have little respect for those who cannot admit their error or failing, even less for those who blame others for their own mistakes.
The Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution are both amazing documents that defined our heritage of freedom and faith or, better perhaps, our heritage of freedom resting on faith and meant to permit its free exercise. The notion of “private faith” is recent; public faith was common, expected, and intended to continue. The founders didn’t fear faith or or reject virtue; that too is recent. They feared tyranny—especially religious tyranny, leaders of poor character, and mob rule; they created a small government—after first trying nearly no government at all in the Articles of Confederation—led by citizen leaders and chosen by the people. Many of the founders recognized the need for leaders of faith and character along with the blessing of divine providence, in other words God. They created a republic, not a pure democracy! This is the kind of government I cherish, not the corrupt monstrosity, buying the votes of the legions of “victims” with their hands, using the dollars of the wealthy, powerful friends, whom they also pay with government favor and tax dollars. Big is not better, not government, not taxes, and certainly not debt!
If I need something because of tragedy, misfortune, or my own error, I want to be able to turn to my family, my friends, my church, my neighbors, and find they are able to help me directly, not through the presumed goodness of the government for, as anyone knows, a government agency or bureaucrat is the least likely to care or provide help effectively. Government “help” is also the most inefficient and most costly, unless it is very local; even local faces the challenge of serving by spending other people’s money, a guarantee of waste and abuse. For example, despite the enormous outlays of money since the earliest poverty programs in the twentieth century, the percentage of poor has changed very little. The most amazing claim, which I reject for substantial factual reasons, is the idea that any program can be carried out more cheaply by the government. If health care is too costly, government management will assuredly make it more expensive!
Our nation was once a nation of laws and not of men, basic laws necessary to guarantee freedom, protect private property, and allow people to enjoy their work and their lives, that is, to pursue happiness. Slowly we’ve grown a complex system with so many laws and regulations that we have less and less freedom and more a government of men. Rather than being allowed to rule ourselves through a government of “we the people,” we have slowly allowed rulers over us. God gave an interesting command to the Jews; every 7 of 7 years was to be a “year of jubilee.” Once about every 50 years, all debts were canceled, land passed back to its original family, and things of that sort. If I had the power, the United States would have a year of Jubilee and restart with just the Constitution. Congress could quickly pass a few necessary laws to prevent wholesale collapse, but then they would have to work through what was important enough to restore. You might think that a bit radical; but, honestly, the collapse that seems to be looming ahead of us due to burgeoning and unsustainable debt will be every bit as radical and damaging as starting over.
Elsewhere I have explained why I am not what the secular progressive Left wants us to be. I don’t trust their utopian dreams. I believe basic capitalism, unfettered from government corruption and kept honest by basic laws against theft and fraud, is preferable to government’s central planning. I don’t worship capitalism, but I regard it as far more compatible with Christianity that big government programs that don’t work but perpetuate the victim-hood of those it “helps.” I believe that a free people have the inherent right to live freely, seek their betterment, and enjoy their successes, all apart from government interference, just as I believe they have the right to worship openly with just as much freedom. Not only do I believe that people are entitled to keep most of the fruit of the labor, but I also believe they also have a right to the wealth gained by their imagination, creativity, and invention. Modest taxation to provide for public necessities and modest governing is a benefit to us all; excessive, progressive taxation to steal from the wealthy benefits no one other than the intermediaries who gain power by doing so. Redistributing wealth, whether as domestic welfare or foreign aid, fails to reduce poverty; only capitalism has been effective at raising economic standards.
I could add so many other topics to this discussion. Nearly every department of our bloated federal and state governments represent issues I find I oppose. I oppose schools that indoctrinate rather than teach thinking and basic skills effectively. I oppose the ideological manipulation of energy and transportation as well as interference in business and banking, beyond the reasonable enforcement of law. The mess we’ve made of legal immigration disgusts me, and the willingness to permit illegal aliens to come and stay, especially those who are dangerous, is appalling. The housing fiasco that helped devastate our economy was created first by the government requiring banks to give mortgages to unqualified buyers, in the name of providing low cost housing for everyone. Government interference in health insurance, in requiring so many uninsured to receive free care, and in refusing to initiate any kind of reasonable tort reform to stop the abuse of the court system thus raising malpractice premiums and the cost of care suggest that government is not the answer to our healthcare concerns.
In other words, asking those who messed things up to fix them is insane. Looking to those who know only how to spend more money, money we don’t actually have, and who’s answer to every legitimate criticism and program failure is to spend more money is irrational, to say the least. Notice, however, that I’ve said nothing about a political party or favored ideology. Too often, the Democrats take an extreme position, while the Republicans take the same position, just slightly less extreme. Politicos of both parties profit from their positions; representatives spend irresponsibly to get more votes whatever their party affiliation. Much of what I prefer sounds Libertarian, although I prefer Classic Liberal, but the Libertarian Party seems to make legalizing drugs the central platform while leaning heavily toward isolationism. My faith doesn’t allow me to favor withdrawing from the rest of the world and letting it go to hell, assuming that were even possible.
My worldview is Christian anchored in the Bible and personal faith, and I prefer our historical heritage of freedom and faith anchored in the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I have very few knee jerk positions; I have read and thought about the major issues and know why I think what I do. I enjoy a good jab at those “on the other side,” even though my side may not be clearly defined; that’s why I post graphics and articles that seem to make a valid point with logic, facts, or humor. Do I have an ideology? The answer isn’t important to me, as long as people who disagree with me don’t use that as a way of avoiding the arguments I make or use. I don’t think I can be any clearer than that. (Posted as a Facebook note, October 10, 2012, at http://www.Facebook.com/jrogerw)