Saturday, November 17, 2007

From the Pilgrim's Progress, an Encouragement to faithfulness in Vanity Fair.

The Following comes from John Bunyan's "Pilgrims Progress" when Faithful and Christian are put in the stocks at Vanity fair. This is before Faithful is put to death:

Then were they remanded to the cage again, until further order should be taken with them. So they put them in, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

Here, therefore, they called again to mind what they had heard from their faithful friend Evangelist, and were the more confirmed in their way and sufferings by what he told them would happen to them. They also now comforted each other, that whose lot it was to suffer, even he should have the best of it; therefore each man secretly wished that he might have that preferment: but committing themselves to the all-wise disposal of Him that ruleth all things, with much content, they abode in the condition in which they were, until they should be otherwise disposed of.

Then a convenient time being appointed, they brought them forth to their trial, in order to their condemnation. When the time was come, they were brought before their enemies and arraigned. The judge's name was Lord Hate-good. Their indictment was one and the same in substance, though somewhat varying in form, the contents whereof were this: --

"That they were enemies to and disturbers of their trade; that they had made commotions and divisions in the town, and had won a party to their own most dangerous opinions, in contempt of the law of their prince."

Now, FAITHFUL, play the man, speak for thy God: Fear not the wicked's malice; nor their rod: Speak boldly, man, the truth is on thy side: Die for it, and to life in triumph ride.

Faithful's answer for himself

Then Faithful began to answer, that he had only set himself against that which hath set itself against Him that is higher than the highest. And, said he, as for disturbance, I make none, being myself a man of peace; the parties that were won to us, were won by beholding our truth and innocence, and they are only turned from the worse to the better. And as to the king you talk of, since he is Beelzebub, the enemy of our Lord, I defy him and all his angels.

Then proclamation was made, that they that had aught to say for their lord the king against the prisoner at the bar, should forthwith appear and give in their evidence. So there came in three witnesses, to wit, Envy, Superstition, and Pickthank. They were then asked if they knew the prisoner at the bar; and what they had to say for their lord the king against him.

Then stood forth Envy, and said to this effect: My Lord, I have known this man a long time, and will attest upon my oath before this honourable bench, that he is --

JUDGE. Hold! Give him his oath. (So they sware him.) Then he said --

ENVY. My Lord, this man, notwithstanding his plausible name, is one of the vilest men in our country. He neither regardeth prince nor people, law nor custom; but doth all that he can to possess all men with certain of his disloyal notions, which he in the general calls principles of faith and holiness. And, in particular, I heard him once myself affirm that Christianity and the customs of our town of Vanity were diametrically opposite, and could not be reconciled. By which saying, my Lord, he doth at once not only condemn all our laudable doings, but us in the doing of them.

JUDGE. Then did the Judge say to him, Hast thou any more to say?

ENVY. My Lord, I could say much more, only I would not be tedious to the court. Yet, if need be, when the other gentlemen have given in their evidence, rather than anything shall be wanting that will despatch him, I will enlarge my testimony against him. So he was bid to stand by. Then they called Superstition, and bid him look upon the prisoner. They also asked, what he could say for their lord the king against him. Then they sware him; so he began.

SUPER. My Lord, I have no great acquaintance with this man, nor do I desire to have further knowledge of him; however, this I know, that he is a very pestilent fellow, from some discourse that, the other day, I had with him in this town; for then, talking with him, I heard him say, that our religion was naught, and such by which a man could by no means please God. Which sayings of his, my Lord, your Lordship very well knows, what necessarily thence will follow, to wit, that we do still worship in vain, are yet in our sins, and finally shall be damned; and this is that which I have to say.

Then was Pickthank sworn, and bid say what he knew, in behalf of their lord the king, against the prisoner at the bar.

Pickthank's testimony Pick.

My Lord, and you gentlemen all, This fellow I have known of a long time, and have heard him speak things that ought not to be spoke; for he hath railed on our noble prince Beelzebub, and hath spoken contemptibly of his honourable friends, whose names are the Lord Old Man, the Lord Carnal Delight, the Lord Luxurious, the Lord Desire of Vain Glory, my old Lord Lechery, Sir Having Greedy, with all the rest of our nobility; and he hath said, moreover, That if all men were of his mind, if possible, there is not one of these noblemen should have any longer a being in this town. Besides, he hath not been afraid to rail on you, my Lord, who are now appointed to be his judge, calling you an ungodly villain, with many other such like vilifying terms, with which he hath bespattered most of the gentry of our town.

When this Pickthank had told his tale, the Judge directed his speech to the prisoner at the bar, saying, Thou runagate, heretic, and traitor, hast thou heard what these honest gentlemen have witnessed against thee?

FAITH. May I speak a few words in my own defence?

JUDGE. Sirrah! sirrah! thou deservest to live no longer, but to be slain immediately upon the place; yet, that all men may see our gentleness towards thee, let us hear what thou, vile runagate, hast to say.

Faithful's defence of himself

FAITH. 1. I say, then, in answer to what Mr. Envy hath spoken, I never said aught but this, That what rule, or laws, or customs, or people, were flat against the Word of God, are diametrically opposite to Christianity. If I have said amiss in this, convince me of my error, and I am ready here before you to make my recantation.

2. As to the second, to wit, Mr. Superstition, and his charge against me, I said only this, That in the worship of God there is required a Divine faith; but there can be no Divine faith without a Divine revelation of the will of God. Therefore, whatever is thrust into the worship of God that is not agreeable to Divine revelation, cannot be done but by a human faith, which faith will not be profitable to eternal life.

3. As to what Mr. Pickthank hath said, I say (avoiding terms, as that I am said to rail, and the like) that the prince of this town, with all the rabblement, his attendants, by this gentleman named, are more fit for a being in hell, than in this town and country: and so, the Lord have mercy upon me!

Then the Judge called to the jury (who all this while stood by, to hear and observe): Gentlemen of the jury, you see this man about whom so great an uproar hath been made in this town. You have also heard what these worthy gentlemen have witnessed against him. Also you have heard his reply and confession. It lieth now in your breasts to hang him or save his life; but yet I think meet to instruct you into our law.

There was an Act made in the days of Pharaoh the Great, servant to our prince, that lest those of a contrary religion should multiply and grow too strong for him, their males should be thrown into the river. [Exo. 1:22] There was also an Act made in the days of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, another of his servants, that whosoever would not fall down and worship his golden image, should be thrown into a fiery furnace. [Dan. 3:6] There was also an Act made in the days of Darius, that whoso, for some time, called upon any god but him, should be cast into the lions' den. [Dan. 6] Now the substance of these laws this rebel has broken, not only in thought, (which is not to be borne), but also in word and deed; which must therefore needs be intolerable.

For that of Pharaoh, his law was made upon a supposition, to prevent mischief, no crime being yet apparent; but here is a crime apparent. For the second and third, you see he disputeth against our religion; and for the treason he hath confessed, he deserveth to die the death.

Then went the jury out, whose names were, Mr. Blind-man, Mr. No-good, Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady, Mr. High-mind, Mr. Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light, and Mr. Implacable; who every one gave in his private verdict against him among themselves, and afterwards unanimously concluded to bring him in guilty before the Judge. And first, among themselves, Mr. Blind-man, the foreman, said, I see clearly that this man is a heretic. Then said Mr. No-good, Away with such a fellow from the earth. Ay, said Mr. Malice, for I hate the very looks of him. Then said Mr. Love-lust, I could never endure him.

Nor I, said Mr. Live-loose, for he would always be condemning my way. Hang him, hang him, said Mr. Heady. A sorry scrub, said Mr. High-mind. My heart riseth against him, said Mr. Enmity. He is a rogue, said Mr. Liar. Hanging is too good for him, said Mr. Cruelty. Let us despatch him out of the way, said Mr. Hate-light. Then said Mr. Implacable, Might I have all the world given me, I could not be reconciled to him; therefore, let us forthwith bring him in guilty of death. And so they did; therefore he was presently condemned to be had from the place where he was, to the place from whence he came, and there to be put to the most cruel death that could be invented.

They therefore brought him out, to do with him according to their law; and, first, they scourged him, then they buffeted him, then they lanced his flesh with knives; after that, they stoned him with stones, then pricked him with their swords; and, last of all, they burned him to ashes at the stake. Thus came Faithful to his end.

Now I saw that there stood behind the multitude a chariot and a couple of horses, waiting for Faithful, who (so soon as his adversaries had despatched him) was taken up into it, and straightway was carried up through the clouds, with sound of trumpet, the nearest way to the Celestial Gate.

Brave FAITHFUL, bravely done in word and deed; Judge, witnesses, and jury have, instead Of overcoming thee, but shown their rage: When they are dead, thou'lt live from age to age*.

*In the New Heaven and New Earth. {footnote from one edition}

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How the Media is Destroying Democracy

Ron PaulTo put it mildly I am rather disgruntled over how the 2008 presidential election is shaping up, or rather falling apart to be more accurate. My annoyance is not the fact that the guy I think would be the best influence in the presidency (Ron Paul) probably won't win. It has to do with that, but the issues are more why this is the case, and how we know who will win at all. In large measure I blame the news media, I honestly think the way elections are covered by nearly all news networks and news outlets is destroying Democracy. I will why explain in this post.

1. The Horse Race Coverage, or "The Polls Show..."

How many times within the past 6 months when one listens to talk radio, reads news, or watches network news have the omniscient "Polls show Guilliani is leading by X points..." or "The latest polls are showing..." talk been used? I have one simple question in regard to this "polls" talk, HOW DOES THAT HELP DEMOCRACY IN ANY WAY?

I can't think of a single positive effect "polls show..." has on voters. Invoking the "polls" seems only to have negative effects by dictating to the public who is the winner before they vote, thus it is really encouraging turning a deaf ear to the "2nd Tier candidates" they don't have a chance so who cares.

This attitude not only is fostered in the public but in the media itself. On Sunday I saw that Tim Russert had a "Open invitation to all the presidential candidates of both parties to come on 'Meet the Press'" I saw that he had Guilliani and Romney coming in the future and wondered whether Ron Paul was coming up as well, or perhaps had already been on. Well unfortunately, The 'Meet The Press' invite isn't as open as one is led to believe. The invite is only for the serious candidates, apparently Paul doesn't qualify as such.

How is such a conclusion reached? Not a serious candidate? The guys out there campaigning every day and is at all the debates what do you mean he's not serious? Well here again comes the "given the polls..." Thus, given the polls the media is justified to intentionally neglect to talk about certain candidates, and thus the public doesn't even know about them.

2. Best Chance to Win

This ties into the previous point about the polls, but one of the major focuses I see in the media is upon which candidate has the "Best chance to win", never mind their policies, ethics, voting record or even competency, "Guilliani can beat Hillary" and that seems to be enough for us to rally around him, so says Sean Hannity. Hannity has been pleading with Christians to overlook the rather blatant moral backwardness of Guilliani and rally behind him or else the Republicans will lose the White House.

Well, I am sorry but as a Christian my political rationale shouldn't be vote for the guy who has the best shot to keep the Libs out of the White house, that is ridiculous. In thinking such way the media encourages us not to vote for a candidate but against the Democrats and their candidate. This hurts democracy.

3. The Focus On Inconsequentials

I can vividly recall a talk radio personality comparing Guilliani's wife to Fred Thompson's as who was hotter and how that effects voting. I have seen similar things on the networks as well. Not only the wives appearance but also the candidates themselves. "Romney just looks like a president" is a phrase I have heard several times.

In the case of this election we also have the gender and even race factors constantly coming up. "It is about time for a women president." Or "We still haven't had a black president perhaps Barack is the guy." While all these issues may seem novel they really are cancerous to a healthy democracy. If you are voting for someone because of how hot their wife is, what sex they are, because their last name is Clinton, or because they have brown skin I frankly don't think your vote should count. Perhaps as a 1/3 vote because you still are a citizen and no matter how empty your opinion may be it should be listened to election day.

My point, simply is that the media fosters these superficial evaluations of candidates. I have above mentioned the more positive superficial treatment of candidates, it goes both ways and most of the negatives are just as superficial. For example the Hillary laugh, while obviously fake and aimed at dismissing the question in itself should be rather moot compared to the actual answer she gives when she stops her boisterous outburst.

Again, when the media harps on the inconsequentials the public does as well. It creates superficial voters.

I can go on with other partiular issues but for the sake of brevity I will only highlight the above. The issue particularly nagging is the polls one. Constant horse race coverage on how Guilliani is up 2 points...Clinton is leading...Huckabee is surging...all of this makes politics a sort of sport and the candidates play the game.