September 18, 2014

Prophet Jim Wallis and the Ecclesia of Economic Ignorance

Wallis poses as a centrist but his economic prescriptions are hard-left with lots of self-congratulatory “prophetic” moralizing thrown in.

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By John Couretas. Acton Institute

This class of the very poor – those who are just on the borders of pauperism or fairly over the borders – is rapidly growing. Wealth is increasing very fast; poverty, even pauperism, is increasing still more rapidly. – Washington Gladden, Applied Christianity (1886)

For three decades, we have experienced a social engineered inequality that is really a sin – of biblical proportions. We have indeed seen class warfare, but this war has been waged by the wealthy and their political allies against the poor and the middle class. – Jim Wallis, Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street (2010)

Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis

One of Jim Wallis’ long running aims at Sojourners is to cast himself as a moderate or centrist (God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat). This is howling nonsense to anyone who pays attention to his policy prescriptions or watches the progressive/liberal company he keeps. With his new book, Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street (Howard Books, 2010), Wallis drops all pretense to holding the center as he piles on with the horde of religious left activists and others now demonizing Wall Street. The book, a clip-file pastiche of easy eat-the-rich moralizing, relentlessly pushes for the sort of collectivist policies that even the Obama administration is reluctant to take on directly (to Wallis’ chagrin).

The Wallis publicity machine casts him in the tradition of the Hebrew prophets with their fiery visions and passion for the social application of faith. Alas, he can only scold: “It’s clear that Wall Street has learned nothing, wants to learn nothing, and instead just wants to go back to the same old behaviors.”

With this new book, Wallis has ventured into the nation’s economic life with his cheap outrage. There, he has exposed himself as utterly ignorant of even the most basic economic principles. Not even a disinterested undergraduate halfway through a compulsory Econ 101 would make these mistakes. Case in point:

The market’s fear of scarcity must be replaced with the abundance of the loving God. And the first commandment of the Market: “There is never enough,” must be replaced by the dictum of God’s economy: namely, there is enough, if we share it.

Well, no, wrong. You cannot wish scarcity away. It is one of the most fundamental realities of economic life, involving everything from raw materials to money to the very time we have on God’s green earth. Still less can you wish away scarcity with shallow sentiment and decree that all of humanity will have enough (what is enough?) if we follow the “dictum” of “God’s economy.” Scarcity is not a Republican or a Democrat issue, you might say.

Such is the essence of Wallis’ prophetism. It is his perception that the large, dark forces of society – Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Republicans — have overpowered and oppressed the Little Guy, the one who hasn’t enough money, power, free health care, or immigration rights (insert felicitous scriptural reference here). The dark powers are large and impersonal, for the most part, in this great captivity. With the exception of, say, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Glenn Beck.

Because Wallis’ classic progressivist fix for social ills is to shift greater power over the economy into the hands of Caesar, he must think that no one actually needs to understand anything about the economy or fiscal policy. Caesar has it under control, or will figure it out soon. But, again, reality is difficult for Wallis. Is your boss, who might be a Republican or someone who watches Glenn Beck, driving the cube farm a little too hard? Wallis has a solution in the form of the generous labor laws and vacation policies of the European Union. Amazingly, he seems to be unaware that the EU project, groaning under the weight of welfare policies that Wallis can only dream about, is teetering on the edge of the precipice.

As for wealth creation, that happens as magically as the medieval alchemist changes lead into gold. In Wallis’ economic phantasmagoria, it is merely a given that there is wealth. It will always be there — and it’s there for the taking. Wallis’ job is not to understand how wealth is created but to moralize, and condemn the money changers: the people behind Reaganomics, Enron, Gordon Gekko, Bernie Madoff, the evil bankers in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He even unearths an anecdote to show how the genetic malevolence of merchants was behind the Great Plague of Marseillein 1720.

In his new book, Wallis does commit two or three grudging paragraphs to acknowledge that there might be some upside to the market economy. But his heart’s not really in it. “Markets,” he says, “are the best ways that humans know how to create goods and services, although they often fall short in fairly distributing them.” Ah yes, where is the Grand Distributor when you really need him? In his mind, the economic problem rests with those who “preside over the market.” Again, back to Econ 101. You can participate in the market, with mutually beneficial exchanges. You might even cheat your neighbor in the market, if there’s darkness in your heart. But no one or no government can “preside” or manage the economy from the commanding heights. It’s been tried before.

Likewise, Wallis devotes two lines in the book to the notion that “rich and poor alike can be villains and heroes.” That would be, ahem, a simple orthodox Christian belief about sinful humanity. But what about all those rich people who don’t like to share in God’s economy? It doesn’t take long for Wallis to begin castigating the “wealthy” for villainously changing the meaning of redistribution in most people’s minds “into almost a swear word.” Vile sin!

Thus, Wallis takes it upon himself to redefine the redistribution of wealth, making it more palatable with quotations from Scripture and the American Founders that — he believes — support his view. There’s just one problem. Redistribution will, Wallis concedes, require “new regulation and responsibility by our government” to make it all right. “A new ethic of social responsibility will require a new framework of new social regulation in which critical entrepreneurial activity can best take place,” he announces. That’s it! We’ll have a new “framework” of government regulation to incentivize entrepreneurs just waiting around for permission from the regulators to get started.

What’s Wallis’ solution to the market’s ills? Well, voilà, “green energy” jobs, which have the double advantage of guilt-free economic activity supported by massive government intervention. Nevermind that it’s Utopian as well. Wallis has the audacity to call for the “rewiring” of the entire U.S. energy grid (give that about 30 seconds of serious thought). His cure for decaying urban cities like Detroit? Gardening and animal husbandry on the land that hundreds of thousands of people have vacated in search of better opportunities elsewhere. Presumably, they’ll be wooed back at the prospect of new careers in chicken farming and sheep herding. But returning Motown to the Midwest prairie will also, according to Wallis, be accompanied by converting those rusty old auto plants into windmill factories for the generation of clean energy. Prophet Wallis reminds us that the total conversion to clean energy will require not just “a change in the energy system” but\… you guessed it\… “a change of heart.”

The free market, in his mind, is also a grave threat to American democracy:

… the real battle now is not capitalism versus socialism, but the unrestrained market versus genuine democracy. We have seen the tyranny of the all-powerful market; and it is time to reassert our best and most basic traditions of democratic accountability.

Is this how Wallis plans to bring business people and entrepreneurs into his moralizing orbit? Does he really think that castigating business people will have them falling all over themselves to build the clean energy economy? It needs to be said, first of all, that the U.S. economy is not “all powerful” or “unrestrained” but a highly regulated mixed economy. There is a large and growing participation by the government at all levels in the private sector, most recently in health care, autos and mortgage banking. Big plans are afoot to regulate the energy business, under cap and trade schemes, to save us from global warming. Again, Wallis seems to have missed this.

While Wallis’ prescriptions for the “reform” of the U.S. economy are laughable, his influence on young people is not. Wallis himself brags that half of his audience is under 30. These are young people, he says, who “want to follow after the Jesus who proclaimed the good news to the poor, freedom for the oppressed, and the year of Jubilee!” This is the Jesus understood as Divine Community Organizer, the One described by Wallis as a “fascinating character” who is all about social justice and whose most emblematic act is the overturning of the money changers’ tables in the Temple. Don’t expect the 20-somethings who imbibe this stuff to champion economic liberty anytime soon.

In a January talk at the Brookings Institution to tout his new book, Wallis claimed that the “faith community” was perceiving economic issues more and more as moral questions. So far, so good. But this moral searching in his view calls for a more activist government to strike better “balance” on economic questions. Back to Caesar, again.

At Brookings, Wallis also made it clear that he wasn’t really all that wedded to the idea of morality rooted in faith – a strange sentiment for a Christian activist or a modern day Prophet. “Religion has no monopoly on morality,” he insisted. “We make that clear. Religion has no monopoly on morality. We need more than a religious movement.”

Well, at least Wallis is honest about that. But, and especially when grappling with economic issues, we need more than pious denunciations and cheap moralizing. We need some real understanding of economics.

John Couretas is director of communications for the Acton Institute

Comments

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    Andrew says:

    Bravo John, this is a great article that exposes Wallis on a number of levels. Its also very relevant here because I have heard for than a few Orthodox folks repeat what I consider to be ideas Jim Wallis holds fast to.

    Actually, having read all about those Wallis hijinks. I think AOI readers could use a break from a man who has lifted millions out of poverty. Time to hear from real champion for the poor.

    Its time for a Milton Friedman Video Break.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsx1X8PV_A

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    Great critique John! You have highlighted the superficial and biased manner in which Wallis approaches economics and value creation. Despite his attempts to position himself “outside” the political fray and co-opt the Christian faith to validate his communist ideals, he exposes his true beliefs and significant bias when he continually employs clearly Marxist arguments and reasoning in demanding that America embrace his subjective brand of “social justice.”

    Wallis would fail even the most basic Economics 101 course at most American universities (at least the ones that still employ honest and unbiased professors). His emotionally driven and superficial arguments disregard the reality of how a free-market economic system works and how real value and wealth are created and transferred in a society:

    All societies, in order to prosper, grow, and take care of its citizens must create new value to sustain its economy and support an expanding population. Common sense and experience dictate that there are only three (3) possible ways for anyone in life to have, create, or obtain value (monetary or economic) or acquire any assets (property) to be able to live or sustain oneself or one’s family:

    (1) You ethically earn it by working and providing value to your employer, investing in other people’s ventures, risking it in a new business to provide new value to others via a service or product, or by inventing, creating, or discovering something new and original, that is useful (device, process, cure) or pleasing (literature, music, art) to others. This is known as ethical capitalism [free-market economics].

    (2) You appropriate it from others, or someone else (person, institution, or government) appropriates it on your behalf. Communism, socialism, the US government (federal, state, and local), and criminals practice this approach. This choice is always coercive, but legal in some cases (taxes) and illegal in others (criminality).

    (3) Someone voluntarily gives it to you, through a gift, a will, a trust, or a charity donation. Note however, that in order for someone (individual, government, church, institution, etc.) to have any value (money or assets) to give, they must first attain it by choice #1 or #2 above. No other source for the donation exists.

    Inherent in option #1 is also the absolute right of individuals and organizations to have and own property (money, assets, etc.) that is exclusively theirs and the right to dispose of such property as they see fit without interference from anyone else.

    The only fair, ethical, and truly voluntary model of creating and obtaining value, based fully on freedom and the greatest respect for the individual, is option #1. Choice #3 is a close second, but it still depends on first having acquired value ethically via option #1.

    http://chrisbanescu.com/blog/2009/01/22/a-primer-on-capitalism/

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    Isa Almisry says:

    God may not be a Republican, but Satan is surely a Democrat.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Obviously, Wallis has been undergoing the ascetic struggle for some time, judging from his photograph.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Jim Wallis proves that unlike what some orthodox people, yes their are left wing Evangelicals. Jim is a modern William Jennings Byrant. But, Mr Wallis influence among young evangelicals of the left is not as much as emergating church leader Brian Mclaren, who wrote a book that was endorsed by moderate Evangelical Rick Warren. Mr. Mclaren recent book is full of the same policies. Jim Wallis wants us to adopt a policy based upon the 50 year debt free period of the old testement.

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    Chrys says:

    John – what a superb article!

    I’m still trying to get my head around the utter incoherence and fantasy of Wallis’ one comment, though:

    the real battle now is not capitalism versus socialism, but the unrestrained market versus genuine democracy. We have seen the tyranny of the all-powerful market; and it is time to reassert our best and most basic traditions of democratic accountability.

    First, we have nothing like an “unrestrained market.” Almost every market is heavily regulated in one fashion or another. Certainly regulation is needed in some form; likewise, there is a clear need for reform in many areas (not least: finance). Assuming that his description of our current markets as “unrestrained” is not a straw man, then what in the world would suffice? More important, how would a completely controlled (so it is “fair”) market in any way be remotely compatible with “genuine democracy”? If you are not at least somewhat free to choose – to buy or sell or give away – in what possible way is “genuine” democracy fostered? Indeed, our “basic traditions” had a MUCH, MUCH freer and more robust notion of markets than Rev. Jim would ever tolerate. Genuine democracy starts with a strong notion of private property – beginning with my own person. The notion that the coercion required to control markets could in any way foster individual freedom lies somewhere between a delusion and a lie (and there isn’t really any room between those two things).

    Chris’s comment (#2) is spot on – this really has nothing to do with economics. It looks a lot more like a two-year old’s tantrum about fairness that employs the language of economics. One could distill Wallis’ argument to the idea that people are not virtuous enough to participate productively in a free market and so much be controlled (with government playing the role of the omniscient parent). Why they should then be free to exercise their choice anywhere else has not been explained. And history shows that it eventually wouldn’t be tolerated either. (Because those free people would eventually start voting to own and trade freely. And you can’t have that.)

    Isa’s comment was also a gem. I would only refine it a bit. Satan is certainly a Progressive and Marxism is his heresy. (It essentially seeks to realize the eschaton without grace, without Christ. It’s Babel on steroids.) And the unimaginable evils it has wrought (killing more people in less time than the combined efforts of the preceding centuries) only underscore the point.

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    Harry Coin says:

    While ‘the left’ wants to use the law to govern and dispense the value created by ‘the right’ according to such social justice as they comprehend (or can be contributed at in order to better recognize) we have this from the Chinese who generally are united in oppression by a ‘far left’ leadership that has moved so far to ‘the left’ it has become what our ‘left’ complains our ‘right’ has become. Here’s a news item today that tells the story:

    …The booming Chinese [finished retail diamond] market, fueled by the world’s fastest growing middle class, is proving a strong antidote to slipping sales in more established markets like the US and Europe. … China will beceome the world’s largest diamond market next year….

    It still floors me, purely from an irony standpoint according to the dictionary meaning and history of names: that the party calling itself ‘democrat’ favors a ‘top down’ approach when it comes time to make decisions, while the ‘republican’ party favors individual ‘bottom up’ decision making.

    Plainly as education increases it only makes sense to allow more decision making latitude at the bottom. 30 years ago 20% completed college and 80% completed or almost completed high school. Now 80% complete college. Bottom up is the way to go. You don’t want to limit the sucess to the vision and decision making ability of the few at ‘the top’ when so much more is available now.

    In sad yesteryear manner we have our Orthodox Christian leadership visiting and upholding top-down despots like Fidel Castro, and generally associating with those who are seen to uphold the top-down approach no matter the degree to which their policy choices and mode of living run right against the faith the leadership is given to uphold. An irony.

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    Fr. John says:

    You know, Fr Hans, I look to your blog for important news regarding the Orthodox Church and its ramifications into the secular; I do not go to your blog to read the Op-ed for the Economist. I used to subscribe to that journal for access to a good spread of world news, but got sick and tired of the pro-business slant of it which amounted to an a priori dismissal of all points of view besides the laissez-faire capitalist big business (“Robber Baron XIXc.” for short) approach.

    Sadly, you too often veer into sheer politics and your bias against left-ish voices militates against a preferred catholic view. IF you continue in this way, you will soon have a readership which goes to you to confirm their own views rather than be challenged to consider new ones. This is the pity of the blogosphere, that communities of opinion are formed up which exist in denial of each other, where the left go to their sites and the right to theirs. I would really like to read a blog which is not so obviously biased about economics.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Fr. John. The piece is not a defense of laissez faire economics. It’s an attack on Jim Wallis who uses the moral vocabulary of Christianity to promote central planning as virtuous economic policy. Wallis is an old-line 60’s radical who senses new opportunity under Obama. You see a lot of the old lefties (mainliners still infatuated with Marxist social and economic categories) rearing their gray heads to enjoy this brief revisit with the unreconstructed idealism of their youth. (It makes them feel young and full of purpose again.)

      One other thing. I’d be glad to host an economic discussion but the baseline for responsible discussion would necessarily exclude references to people like Wallis. He’s just not a serious thinker.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Fr. John, I am confused by your criticism. It is a rare person who willingly and frequently ventures into a venue that promotes ideas and behavior with which they disagree. Few human beings have the capacity for such a struggle. Bias will always be active in any human discourse. It is impossible to remove it. The best we can do is be clear with others and ourselves what our bias is.

      Are you saying that there can be no discernment on what is most in acord with the reality of our human nature as revealed in Christ when in comes to economics and politics? OR

      Are you saying that the apparent bias of this blog does not suit your bias?

      If you have cogent arguments for a different approach to economics than those normative here, I’m sure Fr. Hans would welcome a main post from you so that it could be discussed openly and honestly. Of course, folks might not agree.

      Fortunately, such dialectic honestly engaged in is one way in which we frail, sinful humans are allowed to come to some semblence of truth by the grace of God.

      Personally, I’d welcome a well thought out, meticulously researched piece on economics that challenges both the collectivist nonesense and the less evident problems inherent in a what is generally called capitalism. That is not something I can provide unfortunately.

      Anyone up to the task. Maybe Fr. Hans can find one somewhere and post it?

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        Sure, I’ll consider it. But critics have to understand I have no patience with finger-wagging. I am not interested in moralistic appeals that hide sloppy thinking — like Jim Wallis’ thinking for example (empty-headed moralizing is more prevalent on the left than on the right in my experience).

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    Geo Michalopulos says:

    Fr John, if I may. Your concerns are deserving merit. We certainly need a robust give-and-take to take place. I for one hope that this blog ever remains such a place. I would hate for it to become an echo chamber, that’s what’s destroying the lamestream media. My own concerns regarding secular publications are guarded as well. Unfortunately, whenever truth make its appearance, we should not be wary of referencing it. My own take on this blog is that we can’t divorce culture from religion. (The word “cult” is the basis of the word “culture” after all. And by cult, I take it to mean civic piety or the religion of the polity, not the Manson Family or the Hare Krishnas.)

    As to the issue at hand, Wallis is a profoundly idiotic man and his insights into economics and politics has done much to wound the Body of Christ. He, like Barry Lynn, serve as kapos* or “house [insert the plural form of the N-word here]“, ever-ready to heap obloquy on traditional Christians who have the temerity to proclaim the Gospel. You know the type: Bishop X says we should outlaw partial-birth abortion, then Barry Lynn jumps in and says “well what about capital punishment?” Wallis will then say something about the Crusades. Both instances are non-germane but it’s their positions that get the play in the media.

    I see nothing wrong with calling them out. This can be done not only theologically but using rational, secular arguments as well. Conversely, if we say something irrational, we should be called out as well. This should include bishops of the Orthodox Church as well.

    *For those who don’t know, “kapos” were the Jews in the concentration camps who kept the other Jews in line, literally in line as they were marched off to the gas chambers.

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    Chris Purdef says:

    Outstanding piece. What I got of it is that the “prosperity gospel” preachers are both on the left and the right of the political spectrum.

    On a side note – if someone is interested in basic econonmics I recommend the book, “Economics in One Lesson” by H. Hazlett.

    Christ is risen!

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    Cyranorox says:

    It is taken for granted here that the Left may freely be insulted, its motives explained in terms both ridiculous and scurrilous; any appeal to virtue at variance with your position is labeled, without analysis, ‘moral posturing’.
    All this I have let pass.
    But the insults to Wallis, clearly an intelligent man of good will, are a new depth, only exceeded in ignominy, by the introduction of N-WORD, approved by Fr Jacobse, as a permissible club with which to strike.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Every time the superficial thinking of men like Wallis are exposed, the charge is that the critics are not sufficiently sensitive of their motives. But, as I explained above, (ostensible) good motives don’t make up for bad ideas. If you insist that they should, then we enter the land of moral posturing where one’s (ostensible) good will is the measure of the strength of the ideas one presents. In that landscape one merely needs to have the right motives to have the right ideas. It’s called political correctness.

      As for no “analysis,” did you read the piece?

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Cyranorox, it has been my experience that whenever a conservative and/or libertarian is winning an argument, he is invariably called a racist. This trump card is wearing rather thin. Notice I did not use the “N-word.” Notice also that the context in which I used it was as an oppressed class (in this case traditionalist Christians) who are castigated by the Establishment preachers who do the bidding of their masters. Which is to beat down by any means necessary the arguments of those who are trying to uphold Biblical truths. If I misspoke or misstated something, or if my argument was in any way illogical, I would ask you to call me out on it.

      To suppose that people such as Wallis are “men of good will” presupposes a lot. Their own constant use of invective and simplistic bromides makes it very hard for me to view them as men of good will. These are not the honest, patriotic liberals of yore, men such as Hubert Humphrey, Bobby Kennedy, or Harry Truman. Men who were willing to seek compromise with conservatives for the sake of the nation (and who viewed people as independent moral agents). I can say this because as a former liberal myself, I’ve seen how Calvinism in a secular form has completely overtaken progressivism. Like Calvin, progressives do not believe in free will.

      I do appreciate your criticism however, and hope that you continue to participate in the discussion.

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    Substantively analyzing and exposing the fallacy of Jim Wallis’ superficial views of economics and his communist idealism is now considered “insulting”? Wow, talk about a re-definition of reality and abuse of language. Just in this small universe of AOI we witness many of the responses to virtually all arguments critical of leftist dogmas. Conservative comments and critiques are labeled as “hate speech” and the collective (pun intended) counter-arguments can be summarized as: (a) How dare you? and (b) Shut up!

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    Cyranorox says:

    Chris, you aptly illustrate my point.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Well, I think the Orthodox right has as much right to discuss different matters as does the Roman Catholic right and Evangelical right does. As Wallis shows not everyone of the same religious views,Wallis is an evangelical thinks alike on politics. And Wallis is an anabapists that see Constantine as the great evil of the church that stop christians from being pacifists but then Wallis likes Constantine’s approach for getting christians involved with the welfare state, Constantine expanded the grain dole program that Rome had to Constantinople. Wallis is a contradiction.

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    cynthia curran says:

    By the way, this blog has also had posts by politcal liberals and moderates from time to time.

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    Cyranorox says:

    Geo: but you weren’t winning. You did use a periphrasis, transparently indicating the forbidden [for good reason] word. You may be a racist, for all I know, but you weren’t called one.
    I can’t show this site to my pagan, black, theomachist, or unchurched friends. They would think Orthodoxy required adherence to conservative political dogmas, which obviously it cannot, outside the “small universe of AOI”. They might see hatred of liberals, or the Confederate flag of slavery, or a proposal to anally violate an Orthodox bishop with a flagpole, etc. God forbid anyone reads this site and rejects Christianity because of what they see.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Last warning Cyranorox. You came here scolding critics of Wallis but failed to provide any substantive ideas justifying your disapproval. Then you scolded George M. for allegedly using the “N word” (never really understanding his context) and insist that your disapproval should be as self-evident to others as it is to you. Now you scold the entire blog, because, why? — your friends wouldn’t approve?

      Finger wagging doesn’t get much traction here. This isn’t a politically correct crowd.

      You get one more chance. If it’s just more of the same, it might be time to start your own blog. Nothing personal but when people emote instead of think, discussion gets sidetracked. Things move too fast for that here.

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        Eliot Ryan says:

        It is inevitable that we will not get on with everyone all the time. But this is not a reason for not remaining Orthodox. We are Orthodox and we remain in the Church in order to save our souls, and nothing else. In order to save our souls, we have to know ourselves, first by being ourselves, and later discovering our sins and failings. If we lose this perspective we start dwelling on the faults of others.

        I do not think Cyranorox deserve one more chance. I would suggest a mild sanitation of his latest post

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          Geo Michalopulos says:

          Eliot, I’ve long ago rejected the idea that the Left is on the side of the angels. They bring nothing to the intellectual table anymore. I for one will not concede any philosophical ground to “theomachists” and “pagans” in favor of any politically correct groupsing of Kum-ba-ya. Their arguments are nothing but moral poses.

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            George:
            Socialist systems inevitably move towards centralized control of economy, politics, culture, and every aspect of human life. History confirms a wise statement: “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. It happens always when Christian values are only being used to gain the needed initial popular support. The means to achieve the total control of a society and its politics range from moral poses, manipulation, an incredible amount of lies, physical or moral destruction of the opponents, etc.
            Usually It does not take too long until the ‘real truth’ is revealed: “The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted”.(Psalm 12,8)

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Cyranox, the Confederate flag was not a slave standard. Nor were the vast majority of Southerners fighting for slavery but to keep their lands free from invasion. * (U S Grant admitted as much to Robert E Lee after the war.) But leave that aside, what exactly about my critique of Wallis was I “losing”? Any chance perusal of Wallis’ writings show clear Marxian tendancies. I just think he should be honest about it that’s all. At least I could respect the Liberation theologians of South America because they were open about their anti-free-market philosophy.

      *It might amuse some to learn that the Army of the CSA had over 90,000 black men in it, of which some 15,000 actually bore arms. Also, 9% of slave owners in the South were black. I’m not saying that this was an army that upheld the equality of the races, but then again, neither did the Union. Nor would it until Harry Truman integrated the armed forces some eighty years later. And no, I’m not a racist, just somebody who believes that the historical record needs to be upheld, not political mythology. For those who want to castigate the South for slavery, they would be well-advised to take their umbrage out on the present-day slave trade that is going on in Africa, by practicioners of the “Religion of Peace.”

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    cynthia curran says:

    Jim Wallis stated in the early 1980’s that while the Vietnamise boat people had it harsh they wanted to settle in the United States because we made them addictive to consumer goods during the war. Think of Jerry Falwell had made the same statement. I don’t always agree with Jerry Falwell when he was alive but their apppears to be a double standard here.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Wow, I get to disagree with everybody.

    1> Jim Wallis does not advocate positions that are in line with traditional Chrisitan thought and practice. He never has. As someone who read Sourjourners in the 1970’s (before I was Christian), left politics not faith was always the point. Cryanorox should address that issue.

    2> That being said, rhetoric here does tend to get out of hand a bit. We should do better.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      Michael, one way to expose Wallis as the mountebank that he is is to ask him which world leader does he admire more: Fidel Castro or Ronald Reagan? Hugo Chavez or Margaret Thatcher? Only a moral reprobate would chose the dictators over democrats.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Ahh… mountebank. I had to look that up. A mountebank is both a deceiver in general and a seller of false remedies in public places. Both are appropriate in this case. Good word.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      thanks! I could have said “poltroon” but I reserve that for Al Sharpton.

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        Chrys says:

        I’m not sure he could be called cowardly (i.e., a poltroon). Since we are expressing this in somewhat obsolete terms, it might be more accurate to call him a pecksniffian rapscallion.

        With apologies for being overtly political, Isa’s comment (#3) called to mind an old line from Wm. F. Buckley:

        “Liberals, it has been said, are generous with other peoples’ money, except when it comes to questions of national survival when they prefer to be generous with other people’s freedom and security.”

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