FMeekins's blog

Pseudoephedrine Restrictions Nothing To Sneeze At

Each winter without fail, the flu sends millions to the local pharmacy in search of some kind of relief. However, it won’t be this pesky virus that will give you a headache and make your stomach churn.

In order to purchase pseudoephedrine, consumers must now produce a photo ID (something that is apparently an outrage to require illegal aliens to do when accused of a crime) with these details added into a computer database tracking how much and often you purchase this perfectly legal substance.  It is claimed that this procedure is necessary as a result of the meth epidemic sweeping across the country since pseudoephedrine is an ingredient used to make this drug.

While methamphetamine might be illegal, pseudoephedrine is not and is available over the counter in smaller doses.  If the nanny state wants to restrict access to this substance, why not make it unavailable in its entirety without a prescription or enact an outright prohibition all together.

It could be argued that there are already restrictions on other products deleterious to bodily health such as cigarettes and booze.   However, the regulations stipulating how these products are to be dispersed are not part of the Patriot Act nor are (as far as I know since I have never purchased either) the details of the photo ID necessary to purchase them entered into a computer database. 

Does Prison Fellowship Give Christmas Gifts To Crime Victims' Children?

The annual Prison Fellowship Angel Tree direct fundraising letter has arrived in the mailboxes of Christians across the nation.

On a positive note, the ministry didn't role out the organization's usual sob story letter supposedly written by a convict, incarcerated for a sentence of about nine years, asking for a handout for his daughter.

I guess if they had continued repeatedly sending the same plea as they have done year after year since at least 2005, the discerning would have realized it was nearly time for this deadbeat to be released.

Thing is, this year's appeal still left much to be desired.

One woman is quoted as saying, "It was hard to see...him [her father] in prison...Angel Tree just showed us that he was thinking about us while he was there."

Perhaps all well and good. But what is Angel Tree doing for the children of victims no longer able to let their children know that they are thinking about them thanks to a number of the very same convicts Prison Fellowship no doubt depicts as being put behind bars by an inequitable criminal justice system rather than by felonious misdeeds?

by Frederick Meekins

Innkeeper's Bad Press Not Necessarily Deserved

As the opening act of the Greatest Story Ever Told, each character mentioned in the Christmas narrative has had a number of literary traditions and homiletical assumptions added that may or may not be directly traceable to the text of the Holy Bible. One of these is none other than the Innkeeper.

When we are confronted with the dichotomy of the Second Person of the divine Godhead, enthroned in Heaven throughout all previous eternity, being born into a filthy barn with the stench of feces and urine all around, knowing this account not from the standpoint of the characters within but rather as the beneficiaries of the complete Good News of the Gospel message, we are horrified on an instinctive level and look for someone to blame for this apparent breech of cosmic protocol. Often, the Innkeeper is thrust into the role.

But is such an outrage warranted? Though literature and tradition can be useful tools of instruction, enlightenment, and illumination if they are kept in check by the foundation provided by the Word of God, it is to the Word of God that the investigation must turn if we are to distinguish undisputed fact from what may turn out to be nothing but well-intended imagination.

At Least Marie Antoinette Would Let Us Have Cake

During his campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama lamented the tendency of Americans to eat what we want, drive SUV's, and keep our homes climate controlled at 70 degrees.  Some will observe that I have already published a number of columns regarding the aforementioned sentiment.  And I will continue to do so for as long as the Obama's hypocritically admonish to the minutest detail how we are to live lives of sacrificial austerity for the sake of the COMMUNITY while they themselves wallow in opulent luxury.

According to NBCBayArea.com, the President attended a fundraiser in California primarily for the benefit of Senator Barbara Boxer.  Despite likely expending more in fossil fuels to reach his destination than the average suburbanite does puttering around town in a Ford Explorer or Jeep Cherokee, the opulence did not stop there.

When most regular Americans have a get together, they usually have cheese whiz and maybe Dominoes Pizza if they really feel like splurging.  Such provisions, however, aren't quite good enough for those that not only think they are better than the rest of us but that it is their place to run our own lives as well.

Red China Turns U.S. Human Rights Molehills Into Mountains

The United States and China discussed human rights at a round of high-level talks.  One might be surprised that the meeting did not so much focus on the egregious atrocities that have gone on under this Communist tyranny from the time of its founding to this very day.  Rather, Obama administration officials allowed America to be berated on issues such as homelessness and the new Arizona immigration law.

Before America as a nation takes this criticism seriously, perhaps we should consider what the law entails and how this compares with what goes on in Red China.

The Arizona law will permit police to ascertain an individual's identity and thus legality after initial contact.  Essentially, this isn’t anything that isn’t already authorized by law and is perhaps an even better guarantor of individual liberty and dignity than what is already permitted.

In a number of decisions, the Supreme Court ruled that police could compel an individual to identify themselves even when it had not been established that the law had even been violated or that there was probable cause indicating such.  Interestingly, there were no riotous mobs in the streets when it was thought these kinds of identity checks were only going to be aimed at actual Americans.

Lessons In Apologetics #4: Pragmaticism & Combinationalism

The next theory of truth and religious knowledge is pragmatism.  Developed initially by Charles Sander Pierce and expanded by William James, pragmatism is the theory that truth is not determined by what one thinks, feels, or discovers but rather by what works.
   
Christians may instinctively recoil from this initially. However, the proper response to this epistemological methodology needs to be more nuanced than the believer might originally suspect.
   
Providing in part an alternative to the early 20th century viewpoint promoted in large part by Sigmund Freud that belief in God was psychologically harmful, in works such as  The  Varieties Of Religious Experience, James believed religion should be judged by its results in the life of the individual.  Overall, James concluded that, "In a general way...on the whole...our testing of religion by practical common sense and the empirical method leaves it in possession of its towering place in history.  For economically, the saintly group of qualities is indispensable to the world’s welfare (109).”
   
However, any alliance the Christian apologist may make with William James is tenuous at best.  For example, James categorized the pantheistic outlook of Mediterranean paganism as healthy and those emphasizing the need to be “twice born” as epitomizing a Germanic dourness characterized by an obsession regarding man’s fallen nature and need to be saved by God (105).
   

Lessons In Apologetics #3: Experientialism & Evidentialism

The next methodology is experientialism.  Though fideism strives to make faith alone the justification for religious knowledge or belief, Geisler observes that this faith is ultimately justified in terms of an experience had by the individual (65).
    
To the experientialist, God or the Ultimate is not so much something to be understood or comprehended but rather felt.  Stretching all the way back to the Neoplatonist Plotinus, experientialism views what the believer refers to as God as "the one beyond all knowing and being (66)."
    
In fact, God is so far beyond what the finite mind is capable of comprehending that to really say anything about God is highly inaccurate as to do so would be limiting God.  As such, the best the individual can aspire to is an intuitive mystical union with the universal by turning inward through an ascetic detachment from the physical world around us in pursuit of a metaphysical unity.
    
Friedrich Schleiermacher provided for a more accessible apprehension of the cosmic or divine by equating religious experience not so much with monastic solitude but rather with the feeling of absolute dependence we all feel from time to time.  According to Schleiermacher, this feeling is actually the World Spirit reaching out to us and actualizing within each of us.
    

Boycott The Boycotters

Most Americans are no doubt aware of the tragedy of the oil slick coating the Gulf Coast from the damaged petroleum rig.  What they might not be aware of is the attitude among elites of how we as citizens and consumers are simply to go along with whatever position they craft as a response regarding the matter.

A headline from the 5/25/10 online edition of the Washington Post bemoans "For Some Washington Drivers, Convenience Outweighs Calls For BP Gas Boycott”.  The story laments the tendency of certain consumers who “...prioritize convenience over taking a moral or political stand.”

For starters, in this day where it is constantly pounded into our heads that no one is to impose their views on any one else or to even dare to suggest that certain values might be superior to others, on what grounds are we expected to do something because someone with no real binding authority over us tells us to?

Many of the rabblerousers behind the BP boycott are some of the same nags behind the boycott of the state of Arizona regarding the immigration law.  Yet these crusaders would turn around and become moral libertines if some pro-family coalition organized a boycott of states such as Vermont authorizing sodomite matrimony.

In all fairness, busybody progressives are not the only ones to use boycotts not so much in pursuit of a policy objective but rather to exert power and control over their respective constituencies. 

Into The Heart Of Darkness, Part 2

In "Into The Heart Of Darkness, Part 1", I examined the Black liberation theology of Jeremiah Wright and how the leftist radicalism at the heart of this worldview serves as the foundation of the belief system of President Barack Obama and forms the basis of many of his policies.  And even though Obama claims to have renounced his connections to his former pastor Jeremiah Wright, since Obama sat under this pastor for nearly 20 years and continues to advocate these kinds of policies, it is obvious Obama has not distanced himself from sociopolitical radicalism to the extent he claims he has.

Even if Obama is successful in tossing under the rug the insinuations of having embraced Afrosupremacist theology, he has gone out of his way repeatedly to let the world know he spent the early years of his career as a community organizer.  Obama supporters would have average Americans believe that this position involved little more than getting the plumbing fixed in rundown apartments or organizing senior citizens outings to the local supermarket for the elderly without their own transportation.

While these are laudable undertakings, these tasks do not encapsulate the true purposes and intents of community organizing.  These are just the bait to lure the needy yet unsuspecting into deeper levels of manipulation.

Lessons In Apologetics, Part 1: Introduction & Agnosticism

For anyone pursuing a degree in Apologetics that was given a dollar for every time they were asked "What is that, learning how to say you are sorry" upon answering the question of what it is that they study so many times, many would have financed a considerable portion of their academic pursuits.  Unfortunately, such ignorance as to what exactly this theological discipline entails symbolizes the neglect the defense of the faith has fallen into in the contemporary church and is one of the reasons that everywhere the believer and student of religion turns today they find Christianity losing considerable ground both within and without its boundaries to a wide variety of opponents and adversaries.  To the serious student of this field of study, one of the best tools around which to build a fundamental understanding of the discipline's ins and outs is "Christian Apologetics" by Norman Geisler, one of the field's foremost living practitioners.
   
Basic to any academic discipline is the approach or methodology which scholars and researchers apply to the subject matter.  The field of Apologetics is no different.  Geisler lists the methodologies to knowledge in general and about God in particular as agnosticism, rationalism, fideism, experientialism, evidentialism, pragmatism, and combinationalism.  In the course of his analysis, Geisler evaluates each in terms of their epistemology regarding religious matters and how these approaches stack up under the weight of being scrutinized by their own criteria.

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