Thursday, December 17, 2009
Is Protestantism of New Testament or of German origin?
Time for some sociology! I taught sociology for 12 years at a major Australian university so maybe I can claim to have some idea what it is all about. Sociology is actually a lot like climatology. You have to try to find a common thread in a whole lot of crazy data and the thread you think you have found may in the end not be there at all. But some of us like to make the effort anyway. At least we don't try to hide our data in sociology.
Max Weber's essay The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism is considered a classic in sociology and is usually cited with much reverence. When I was teaching in a sociology school myself, it always rather surprised me that my mainly Marxist colleagues seemed to think highly of it. I never quite saw how believers in economic determinism could accept Weber's spiritual determinism. But accept it they did.
I myself was never convinced. Weber makes a good case but I always doubted that competition for signs of election was enough to explain a capitalist orientation. I think Weber was fooled by the rationalizations that Calvinists put up rather than getting to their real motives.
The broader case that Protestantism in general was the spark that created the modern world did however seem to have something going for it. Many of the innovations and inventions that ushered in the industrial age originated from two communities with large Protestant populations: England and the German lands -- from Gutenberg's printing press to Watt's steam engine.
So it was with some interest that I read a report of some recent research which appears to show with considerable rigour that Protesant cities and Catholic cities of the early modern era in fact did equally well and were equally capitalist. I like the article so much that I have reposted it on my Paralipomena blog. The article is certainly strong support for my doubts about the Weber thesis. But does it also throw into a cocked hat the idea that Protestantism in general was beneficial?
Yes and No. It must be noted that the research concerned GERMAN cities only. It is not a comparison of Northern and Southern Europe, for instance. So it is not too disturbing to the theory overall. But the fact that Germans did equally well regardless of religion does strongly reinforce a theory that I put forward some years ago: That it was the Germanness of Protestantism that gave it its power, not its New Testament loyalties.
I am going to get myself into all sorts of strife here but Protestantism is a long way from the New Testament. I have explored the evidence for that at great length on my Scripture blog so let me just summarize that Luther, Calvin and Co. did not throw off much of Catholic theology. Absurdities of pagan origin such as the Holy Trinity mumbo jumbo (which is mentioned NOWHERE in the Bible) and the pretence that Winter solstice celebrations were somehow related to the (unknown) birthday of Christ were retained tout court. The real innovation was political rather than theological: Rejection of the authority of the Pope.
Perhaps the most vivid proof of what Protestantism is NOT lies in the fact that they still set aside the pagan Day of the Sun as their holy day, which runs contrary to every word on the subject in the Bible. Reverence for the sun was virtually universal in pagan religions and the Children of Israel deliberately set themselves aside from all that by making their holy day the day BEFORE the Day of the Sun. Had Protestantism really been a "back to the Bible" movement, they would have reverted to the Jewish Sabbath practice. Sabbath observance is after all a major aspect of Bible teachings. Jesus and the early Christians observed it, though not in a legalistic way. My copy of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance records over 50 references to the Sabbath in the New Testament. But instead of listening to the Bible the Protestants just used it as a fiddle upon which to play their preferred tunes.
So if theology was not the motor for Protestant innovations, what was? I have argued that Protestantism was a set of attiudes that came naturally to people of German stock, which includes the English, of course. Protestantism is an expression of Germanness rather than of the New Testament. But since the Germanness is basic, it is no surprise that German cities performed equally well regardless of their theology. The theology was not the driving force. It was, if you like, an epiphenomenon. All of which fits in well with the new research findings that I have mentioned above. It does however get me into deep do-do with any Leftist -- because Leftists these days refuse to believe in group differences -- no matter how much evidence you rub their noses in. American blacks as a group are just the same as whites as a group, only browner, don't you know?
So any Leftist reading this (if any) should get ready with the shrieks of "racism" now because what I am saying in summary is that the modern world was largely created by people of German origin and that their Protestant beliefs were a product and not a cause of what they were and became. I might note in passing that direct German ancestry is generally reckoned to be more common in the U.S. population than is English ancestry -- though the English themselves came from Germany 1500 years ago (the Anglo-Saxons).
My brief comments above do of course leave out a lot -- for instance the "counter-reformation" which in German lands did to an extent "Protestantize" Catholicism. But I think I have written enough for now. My earlier observations about Germanness are extensive, however, and can be found here or here.
The contemptible mindset of intellectual elitists can be reduced to just two words: "privileged exemption."
* Al Gore and his soulmates want to "save the planet" from global warming—which completely justifies their flying to conferences in private jets, riding around in gas-guzzling limos, and living in homes that use twenty times the energy of ordinary houses.
* Congress can destroy the best health care system in the world—because they have their own Cadillac health care coverage, and will never have to endure whatever system they foist on us.
* College professors can rail against the injustice of our democratic republic and our capitalist system—because they live in college-supplied housing, have job-for-life tenure, and adjuncts relieving them from much of the "burden" of teaching.
* Politicians and celebrities are overwhelmingly in favor of "gun control"—because they have armed bodyguards and live in protected communities.
* The same bunch wants "social justice," even if it bankrupts America in the process—because they've already amassed so much personal wealth (from the very same capitalist system they ostensibly abhor) that no amount of "income re-distribution" will alter their lifestyles one iota.
* The miserable status quo of public education, due in large part to the intransigence of union contracts which nullify accountability, is acceptable—because the children of the elitists attend private schools, and because elite politicians need union contributions to get re-elected.
* Prosecuting wars without an all-out effort to achieve victory is acceptable—because "other peoples' kids" are doing the fighting and dying, and it's far more important to be "sensitive" to our enemy's concerns.
* Legalizing millions of lawbreaking border-busters is the "right thing to do"—because the privileged in business get cheap labor, and the privileged in politics get cheap votes.
* All attempts to foist world governance on America are perfectly acceptable—because elitists will be running things, and "messy impediments" like the Constitution will be unnecessary.
Privileged exemption, aka "do as I say, not as I do" has always been an integral part of the elitist mindset. It drives them to impose their agenda on the rest of us as a means of realizing a worldwide utopia, in which all the injustice of the world will have been eliminated, and everyone will be "equal."
Except for the elitists.
Why? Maintaining equality requires enforcement. Ask anyone who ever lived in a so-called "worker's paradise" who the most hated among them were, and you'll get the same answer: the "protectors of equality," from the ruling-party apparatchiks driving better cars and eating better food, to the secret police more than willing to crush dissent by any means necessary.
It is no accident that those who never face real world consequences for the bad decisions they make can be so casually indifferent to their irresponsibility. Such consequences are for "little people," and casual indifference can be reduced to one idea: if push comes to shove, I've got mine, the hell with everyone else.
The rest of us? Elitists insist that we don't eat meat or food with trans-fats, don't drive big cars, that we turn our thermostats up in summer and down in winter, mustn't smoke, and shouldn't have too many kids. We, not they, must learn to live with—and be happy with—less. Affluence isn't for everybody.
Only those with privileged exemption can handle it.
Obama was part of the movement to force banks to make high risk loans
This week we saw Obama on all the news shows blaming banks for the credit crisis saying that "you guys caused the problem" and calling them "fat cats."
This is the height of hypocrisy. Let me remind everyone that banks only operate within the regulatory environment that politicians create for them. All throughout the 80's and 90's, leftist groups led by ACORN harassed banks with protests, boycotts and lawsuits, falsely claiming banks were "discriminating" against minorities in terms of their lending practices.
The allegations were bogus. Banks do discriminate, however, against people with shaky finances regardless of race. And they should. Banks are not a welfare program. They're a business. They make lending decisions based on hard numbers such as a person's credit rating. That really don't care what race a person is; if someone's credit history gives a bank reason to believe its loan will be paid back, they'll make the loan. However, this was all before Congress started to meddle in banks' lending decisions.
Many of the 60's activists ended up getting involved with groups that harassed banks and filing lawsuits against them. Some of these suits were successful in that they often ended in settlements in which the banks agreed to make high risk loans to people who simply were not credit worthy. Eventually, this movement led to Congressional legislation called the Community Reinvestment Act, which applied even more pressure onto banks to make lending decisions based not on fiscal worthiness but on "diversity." And that was the beginning of the credit crisis.
So lets be clear here. Banks have been forced to make high risk loans as a result of years of protests, legislation, boycotts, and the CRA act. And who was involved with all of this? Why, our very own anointed one. Barack Obama. You can see his name here in the actual docket from one ACORN suit against Citibank. Or you can read more about this case here.
Yet Obama has the audacity to blame banks for acting under regulations that the movement created by ACORN successfully pushed for? Now that's chutzpah.
It time to face the truth folks: Obama was part of the "social justice" movement which created the incredibly stupid regulatory climate that caused banks to make loans they otherwise would never have made.
WA: Islamist convicted in shootings at Seattle Jewish center: "A King County jury on Tuesday found Naveed Haq guilty of aggravated first-degree murder in the 2006 shootings at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, a verdict that carries an automatic life sentence. … Haq opened fire in the center’s offices, killing Pamela Waechter, 58. Several of the shooting victims who were in the courtroom hugged tearfully when the verdicts were announced. … Prosecutors had introduced as evidence recordings from 10 phone calls Haq, 34, placed to his family after his arrest. In them, Haq told his mother he was ‘a soldier of Islam.’”
OH: Court notices Fourth Amendment: "Police officers must obtain a search warrant before scouring the contents of a suspect’s cell phone unless their safety is in danger, a divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled Tuesday on an issue that appears never to have reached another state high court or the U.S. Supreme Court. The Ohio high court ruled 5-4 in favor of Antwaun Smith, who was arrested on drug charges after he answered a cell phone call from a crack cocaine user acting as a police informant.”
Feds arrest 26 in $61 million Medicare fraud: "Federal agents arrested 26 suspects in three states Tuesday, including a doctor and nurses, in a major crackdown on Medicare fraud totaling $61 million in separate scams. Arrests in Miami, Brooklyn and Detroit included a Florida doctor accused of running a $40 million home health care scheme that falsely listed patients as blind diabetics so that he could bill for twice-daily nurse visits.”
UK: Newspapers victorious in battle to protect sources: "The Independent has helped win an important court ruling protecting members of the public who supply confidential information to the media. Judges at the European Court of Human Rights said that The Independent and four other media groups were right to defy a court order to disclose documents that would have identified the source of a story about a multimillion pound City takeover in 2001. By standing their ground the four newspapers and one news agency faced massive fines and seizure of their assets, while the journalists who wrote the stories could have been jailed.”
Turning children into Orwellian eco-spies: "There is a long and sordid tradition of trying to socialise children by scaring them. The aim of such socialisation-through-fear is twofold: firstly, to get children to conform to the scaremongers’ values; secondly, to use children to influence, or at least to contain, their parents’ behaviour. When I was a schoolchild in Stalinist Hungary, we were frequently warned about the numerous threats facing our glorious regime. I also recall that we were encouraged to lecture our errant parents about the new wonderful values being promoted by our brave, wise leaders. The Big Brothers of the 1940s saw children as tools of moral blackmail and social control. Today, in the twenty-first century, scaremongers see children in much the same way, exploiting their natural concern with the wonders of life to promote a message of shrill climate alarmism.”
Don’t blame the Federal Reserve: "Long ago I quit criticizing the Federal Reserve chairman for failing to avert the latest systemic financial disaster, though I still pity him for enduring the endless Socratic essays, polemics, and indignant soliloquies of his detractors. Criticizing the Fed chairman for a lack of prescience is like criticizing a dog for an inability to recite the alphabet. When something is physiologically impossible, why bother?”
Race-based government established at expense of troops?: "The House and Senate are wrapping up work on the last appropriations bill of the year and rumors are swirling that the controversial Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, also known as the ‘Akaka Bill,’ will be included in the Defense Appropriations bill. The defense measure is proving to be controversial, because House and Senate appropriators are using it to carry non related matters like a $1.9 trillion debt limit increase, an extension of unemployment benefits and the Native Hawaiian measure. The Native Hawaiian bill, a long time priority of Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), would set up a race based government of ‘indigenous, native people of Hawaii.’”
The A380 problems never stop: " A glitch on a A380 superjumbo forced Air France to ground the plane in New York, the airline said yesterday, the second technical fault reported since the Airbus started flying to the route last month. The Monday evening flight from New York to Paris, with 511 passengers on board, "was delayed due to a technical problem on the plane," a spokeswoman for Air France told AFP, citing a problem with the fuel tanks. Half of the plane's passengers were put on alternative commercial flights on Tuesday while for the other half, Air France laid on an A340 aircraft that was due to fly on Tuesday evening, the spokeswoman said. Maintenance teams were "determining the cause of the fault," she added. Air France started flying the giant double-decker jet, the world's largest passenger plane, on November 23. Days later an Air France A380 was forced to turn around and land in New York after a fault with its navigation system. A spokesman for the airline cited "a minor computer problem" in that incident. Another A380, flown by Singapore Airlines, had to return to Paris on September 27 after one of its four engines failed during a routine flight to Singapore."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 1:38 AM