Thursday, December 13, 2018

Why a great Protestant hymn breaks my heart

I don't know if I will be able to convey what is after all a feeling but I cannot listen to the original version of the great Lutheran hymn "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" (A mighty fortress is our God) without being upset.

The hymn is now best known in the marvellous setting by J.S. Bach -- a supreme work of musical art -- so we usually overlook the original hymn.  Both the original work and the Bach setting are works expressing Christian triumph over evil and adversity  but in the original version you get a feeling for what Christians of hundreds of years ago had to triumph over. 

The world they lived in was full of tragedy, hardship and disaster  and they attributed it all to demons and the Devil himself.  To them the Devil was real and powerful and present in their lives. They saw his cruel deeds all about them on a daily basis -- in sickness and death and disaster.  There are few things, if any, more upsetting than the death of a child but they had to endure such deaths often.

So what the hymn conveys to me is both how awful their lives were and how their Christian faith gave them the heart to power on.  Their faith was their only rock, their only comfort. They had no power to combat the evils around them. It cuts me up that they had so little power over their lives when we have so much.  Their survival truly is a wonder.

But I have said as much as I can.  Just listen to the starkly simple words of a very simple hymn and feel for those poor people.

As students of foreign languages always tell you, you cannot adequately translate a poem and that is certainly so here.  The song is even more powerful in the original German:  Simple punchy words

The words: "Gut, Ehr, Kind und Weib: lass fahren dahin" are not well translated above.  They say that your possessions, your honour, your child and your wife can all be lost but the Devil still has not triumphed. What tragedies they had to expect!

And now listen to the wonderful things Bach did with that ultra-simple hymn:

Bach had joy in the Christian triumph over the Devil

Footnote:  The opening image in the first video above depicts Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church.  In the background is the Wartburg castle where Luther hid from his imperial pursuers --- JR


The Psychological Composition of a Leftist

Delaware psychotherapist Dr Hurd gets it pretty right below

#1: Unearned guilt. Unearned guilt is a feeling of responsibility for something that’s not your fault. Healthy people see the unearned guilt for what it is, and correct it. Others become overly humble and self-effacing. Leftists do neither. They become angry and hostile. They rage against the unearned guilt of others rather than face their own. It absolves them of their own perceived guilt, by condemning others in a way they don’t have to condemn themselves.

# 2  A need for the approval of others. Leftism is socialism. Socialism is all about the group. The self-esteem of a leftist depends heavily not on achievement or knowledge, but of approval from the group. The group consists of other self-righteous, hostile people like themselves. Hence all the virtue-signaling. Being virtuous is not the real goal of a leftist, because “virtue” implies a definition of a concept. For leftists, it’s not about concepts or rational thought. It’s all about emotion and perception. Approval by the peer group is essential to a leftist.

# 3 A lack of meaning and purpose. Socialism and “social justice warriorism” are a faulty attempt to gain a sense of purpose. Leftists can be bright, intelligent and even accomplished people. Many are not, of course, but many are. Look at all the leftists in industry and the creative arts. But psychologically, they feel no meaning. If they did, they would never endorse socialism. If they really felt a connection to the sense of self and purposeful productivity that their work should bring them, they would never espouse a society based on the bland, mindless conformity and thoroughly unproductive, poverty-stricken routine of socialism. They mistakenly think they’re doing something meaningful by supporting nationalization of the means of production and things like turning it into a felony to use the wrong pronoun for a transgendered person. It started with recycling, another meaningless act disguised as purpose, and later it led to environmentalism and all the other pet issues leftists cherish today. Clearly, it’s irrational. But they have to feel like they’re doing something.

#4  A sick glorification of the use of force. Most leftists are not forceful people. Most of them probably don’t own guns or mean to physically harm someone. Some, like Antifa members, do; but many do not. Yet everything about leftism requires the use of force. Social Security and Medicare are mandatory, not voluntary. Ditto for Obamacare. Ditto for high taxes. Regulations are not suggestions. Gun control and the increasing calls among leftists for outright gun confiscation require the very use of force they condemn when it comes to an innocent person defending him- or herself against a violent criminal. Guns and violence are bad, leftists have always insisted. Yet everything they advocate — absolutely everything — depends on the use of coercion. Their ability and willingness to lie to themselves about this fact is stunning — and frankly sick.

# 5 A frightening lack of boundaries. Leftists think they’re sophisticated and civilized. But they’re actually less civilized than others. You saw how one of their favorite politicians, Maxine Waters, came out and openly told Democrats to shun, intimidate or even outright terrorize people who voted for Trump. Those of us who live in leftist communities know this isn’t an isolated or extreme case. You have to understand: The typical leftist sees disagreement with his or her views as a violation of personal space and rights. “If you disagree with me, you are threatening me.” That’s literally how they feel. And that’s actually how the younger generation of leftists — especially in Antifa and on college campuses — openly think. Their leftist and openly Marxist professors validate them daily. It’s the exact same mindset as a terrorist. What do you think any kind of terrorist (right-wing or left-wing) feels? A right to attack in retaliation against the fact that others disagree. Disagreement and dissension — to a leftist — are like acts of war. More and more of them are prepared to follow through on this premise, as we’ve seen in their response to President Donald Trump, who’s nothing more than a Republican who actually challenges them and fights back.

# 6 A malevolent universe premise. What’s a “malevolent universe premise”? It’s a term that originated with Ayn Rand, a philosopher and the author of Atlas Shrugged. Rand wrote,

If men hold values incompatible with life—such as self-sacrifice and altruism—obviously they can’t achieve such values; they will soon come to feel that evil is potent, whereas they are doomed to misery, suffering, failure. It is irrational codes of ethics above all else that feed the malevolent-universe attitude in people and lead to the syndrome eloquently expressed by the philosopher Schopenhauer: “Whatever one may say, the happiest moment of the happy man is the moment of his falling asleep, and the unhappiest moment of the unhappy that of his waking. Human life must be some kind of mistake.”
…The altruist ethics is based on a “malevolent universe” metaphysics, on the theory that man, by his very nature, is helpless and doomed—that success, happiness, achievement are impossible to him—that emergencies, disasters, catastrophes are the norm of his life and that his primary goal is to combat them.

I used to think some leftists were not like this. Some of them seem benevolent, on the surface. They seem to enjoy life and not believe that people should live their lives in misery and despair. But as you get to know leftists better, you discover an ugly truth: Yes, they are living lives of self-fulfillment and liberty, or are at least trying to. But instead of seeing this as a good thing, they see it as a bad thing. While you and I may cherish our lives and liberty, leftists despise themselves for wanting these things. They can’t endure the contradiction. The rage, anxiety and energy over living such a contradiction has to go somewhere. And that somewhere is into leftism: A self-righteous, violent and essentially puritanical way of thinking designed to bring upon us all the misery they subconsciously believe they deserve themselves.

It’s not pretty. And neither is leftism and all its manifestations — fascism, socialism, Communism, and so forth. That’s why we’ve got to fight it with absolutely everything we’ve got.

The intolerance of leftists serves a sad and sick psychological purpose: To shut down the inner contradictions these deeply conflicted people feel. We can’t let their increasing insanity be the reason we give up our individual rights and liberty.



San Francisco judge agrees with Trump!

Is the sky falling?

The Trump administration provided adequate justification for its decision to end a program that reunited hundreds of immigrants from Central America with family members in the U.S., a federal judge ruled Monday.

Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler threw out the bulk of a lawsuit that argued the termination of the Obama-era Central American Minors program was arbitrary and violated the U.S. Constitution.

The program allowed parents legally in the U.S. to apply to bring children or other family members living in Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador to the U.S.

One of the goals was to discourage children from making the dangerous journey from those countries to the U.S. to be with family.

More than 1,300 people came to the U.S. under the program between 2014 and the end of 2016, according to figures cited in Beeler's decision.

When it ended the program in August 2017, the Trump administration revoked approval for roughly 2,700 additional immigrants who were set to travel to the U.S.

In her ruling, Beeler said the decision to revoke those approvals was arbitrary and capricious and required more analysis and explanation.

Linda Evarts, an attorney with the International Refugee Assistance Project who is representing plaintiffs, said she welcomed that part of the ruling and called the decision "an important first step."

Beeler in a separate order suggested the plaintiffs might be able to revise their lawsuit to address some of her concerns.

The judge, however, found the administration had sufficient policy and legal arguments for its decision to end the Central American Minors program.

The Obama administration granted refugee or parole status to 99 percent of the people it interviewed for the program, giving them a greenlight to come to the U.S., according to State Department figures in Beeler's decision.

The Trump administration argued that immigration law called for a more sparing, case-by-case approach. It also said granting parole broadly created an incentive for illegal immigration and contributed to security problems along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Beeler said the administration rationally concluded that the program was not consistent with its immigration policy and its view of immigration law. She said she was not authorized to second-guess those conclusions.

She also rejected arguments that the decision to end the program violated due process and equal protection.



US steel industry booming after Trump's tariffs

U.S. steel mills have seen almost a 5 percent jump in shipments so far this year, a sign that it's benefiting from stiff 25 percent tariffs on imports the Trump administration imposed last year.

The American Iron and Steel Institute reported Monday that U.S. mills shipped 8.1 million tons in October, up 4.6 percent from the previous month and up 6 percent from the same period last year. So far this year, the industry has shipped 79.6 million net tons, 4.6 percent more than it had by this point last year.

AISI spokesman Jake Murphy told the Washington Examiner that domestic steel use has increased 1.4 percent so far in 2018, and that "Section 232 has played a crucial role as well," referring to section of trade law used by the Trump administration to justify the tariffs.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, U.S. imports of steel mill products declined 11 percent during the first 10 months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

But while U.S. steel manufacturers are expanding, some in the business community have said the steel tariff and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum were hurting the broader economy. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue on Monday called on the White House to restore tariff exemptions that Canada and Mexico had earlier this year.

"Every week that the tariffs remain in place, $500 million in U.S. imports and exports are affected, inflicting significant harm on American workers, farmers, and ranchers. They must be eliminated without delay," he said.



DC Council Bills Taxpayers Half A Million To Avoid Enrolling Themselves In Obamacare

On the first of the month, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser held an event at Freedom Plaza to celebrate the start of Obamacare’s annual open enrollment period. She appeared with Mila Kofman, head of the District’s health insurance exchange, D.C. Health Link. In conjunction with the event, the mayor issued a proclamation declaring the open enrollment period “Get Covered, Stay Covered” months, and noting that “residents should visit [D.C. Health Link’s website] to shop for and compare health insurance.”

But in encouraging others to “get covered,” and promoting the D.C. Health Link site, Bowser omitted one key detail: She does not buy the policies that D.C. Health Link sells. My recent Freedom of Information Act request confirmed that Bowser, like most of her D.C. Council colleagues, received taxpayer-funded insurance subsidies to purchase their coverage through the District government, rather than through D.C. Health Link. Thus, DC spent nearly half a million in taxpayer funds because the mayor and council won’t be bothered to enroll in Obamacare.

Armed with this information, I asked Bowser about her insurance choices at a recent event. She noted that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t ask individuals to give up their employer-based insurance — a true enough statement. Individuals such as Bowser and members of the council can purchase insurance through Obamacare exchanges like D.C. Health Link, but they must forego their employer subsidy to do so.

Forfeiting generous employer subsidies might seem like an unreasonable request to make of the mayor and council. But earlier this year, the council passed, and Bowser signed, legislation requiring all District residents to buy health coverage or pay a tax — including tens of thousands of residents who do not qualify for subsidies.

According to public records, Bowser receives an annual salary of $200,000; council members receive $140,600 annually. This year, I will receive less income than any of them, and as a small business owner my income is far from guaranteed, unlike public officials’ salaries. Yet the mayor and council have required me to buy health coverage without a subsidy, even as they refuse to do so themselves.

I asked Bowser about this obvious inequity. Under Obamacare, an individual with income of $50,000 — one-quarter of Bowser’s salary — does not qualify for an income-based subsidy. Bowser required this individual to buy coverage without assistance, while earning much more in salary and retaining her employer subsidy. Did she see a double standard in her conduct?

When it came to the issue of equity and fairness, she didn’t have a substantive answer, nor did her council colleagues. I asked staff for each council member about their health insurance coverage, and any subsidies received. Most staff never responded to my outreach. Staff for Councilman Robert White said they would ask him about his coverage, but never sent a reply. Staff for two councilmembers, Phil Mendelson and Brandon Todd, replied with explanations about the subsidies being provided as an employer benefit.

But neither Bowser nor the council members could justify requiring other District residents, including many with lower incomes than they, from buying coverage without a subsidy even as they will not do so themselves. And how could they? Quite often, it seems liberals who preach frequently about “fairness” regarding others’ actions fall eerily silent when doing so would cost them personally. “Obamacare for thee — but not for me” doesn’t provide a particularly compelling slogan, but the mayor and council have sent that very message by their actions.

Official Washington contains numerous examples of hypocrisy and double standards, but that doesn’t make either a “D.C. value.” If Bowser wishes to abide by the D.C. values she campaigned on, she and the council members should give up their subsidies and buy health insurance just like ordinary residents do. If they find that task too difficult or costly, then perhaps they should repeal the exact same requirement they put on everyone else.



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RedMoonJournal said...

Regarding the psychology of leftists, check out the work of Anonymous Conservative and his views on r/K selection theory.

John said...

Regarding Ein Feste Berg, in addition to the magnificent Bach setting, don't forget the wonderful use of it in Mendelssohn's Reformation symphony. Reger also wrote a lovely fantasia on it for organ and Joachim Raff wrote an overture based on it. And it has been quoted by numerous composers including Handel (in Solomon), Meyerbeer in his opera Les Hugenots, Debussy in a suite for piano duet, Glazunov in his Finnish Fantasy and others.