A Model for Uplifting the Cities of the Poor

Uplifting the Cities of the Poorpoverty 2

Edward L. Glaeser

What Kinshasa, Port-au-Prince, and others can learn from Western urbanization

Over the last half-century, a once overwhelmingly rural world has become ever more urban. In 1960, the urbanization rate in the majority of poor countries was less than 10 percent. Just 3 percent of Botswana’s population lived in cities, for example, while Kenya was 7 percent urban and Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) was 5 percent urban. Even China had only 16 percent of its people then residing in cities. povertyNowadays, China is more than 50 percent urban and Botswana more than 60 percent. In those two countries, industrialization and increasing prosperity have accompanied the population shift to cities. China’s real per-capita incomes have risen 25-fold since the early 1960s, and Botswana is more than 17 times wealthier. This has been urbanization’s usual historical pattern. In 1961, a 1 percent increase in urbanization was associated with per-capita earnings growth of 3 percent. And the trend is even stronger today: in 2011, a 1 percent rise in urbanization was associated with a 5 percent boost in earnings.times square

Yet while urbanization continues to correlate with prosperity, recent years have seen the striking rise of a new phenomenon: urbanizing countries that remain poor. Urbanization has increased from 5 percent to 28 percent in Bangladesh and from 7 percent to 24 percent in Kenya, for example, but prosperity has stood still. The urbanization of these poor nations doesn’t take the form of midsize urban centers, like those that sprouted along most of America’s major nineteenth-century waterways, but typically of a single megacity. The Nairobi agglomeration has a population of 3 million; Dhaka has 15 million inhabitants. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the ultimate example of this new form of impoverished urbanization. Its capital, Kinshasa, has 8.4 million people, while per-capita income in the country is about $250. Haiti is also an extreme case, with an urbanization rate of over 50 percent and a per-capita income under $1,000. Karachi has 13.5 million inhabitants; the per-capita income in Pakistan is about $1,200.

These impoverished big cities are mostly located in poorly governed countries, lacking stable institutions and strong property rights, which helps explain why economic growth hasn’t taken off in them. But if these vast urban agglomerations aren’t providing much economic opportunity, why are rural people still moving to them? And how can such cities, with extremely limited resources, deal with the perpetual demons of density, including contagions, crime, and housing? Can a megacity of almost 9 million people in a country where incomes average $250 a year be anything but a hell on earth? Cholera rages in Port-au-Prince and Kinshasa; hundreds are killed each year by the commuter trains of Mumbai. The awful downsides of urban poverty might seem to support limits on urban growth or a more aggressive focus on rural development. But cities are the present and future of the developing world. The great challenge of our century will be to make them livable.

It might seem that the world’s wealthy metropolises are so different from places like Kinshasa that their experience has little relevance. But the history of New York itself is the story of a city struggling to make itself livable, despite world-class corruption. Developing-world megacities need to learn the lessons of the fight for better urban government, as much as they need technocratic advice and new technologies.

Why has poor-country urbanization become so common when it was once rare? In the broadest sense, it is because the longtime connection between agricultural productivity and urban growth has been broken. From medieval times and for centuries afterward, famine-causing disasters didn’t send peasants flocking to the nearest town or city—that path led only to starvation. Staying close to the land offered the best chance of survival. Cities grew only when they could tap vast agricultural surpluses and, crucially, had the means to get that food delivered reliably from their hinterlands.

New York is a good example. Back in 1875, as it crossed the threshold of 1 million inhabitants, the city could easily feed itself with the products of fertile western farmland. Thanks to technological improvements like Cyrus McCormick’s mechanical reaper, the farms had begun to produce a lot more food than farmers needed to feed themselves. New transportation infrastructure—the Erie Canal and the Intercontinental Railroad—made it possible to move all that food swiftly to the city. And Gotham’s entrepreneurial success in finding markets for its relatively sophisticated products, like printed books and refined sugar, gave it the wealth to buy and transport the food, which, in turn, enriched America’s breadbasket. In earlier cities with more than 1 million people, like ancient Rome, military might and bureaucratic competence played the role that entrepreneurship did in New York. Unlike the Iowa farmers shipping wheat to Manhattan for profit, Egypt wasn’t willingly emptying its granaries to feed Rome. But the empire’s sword made sure that the food arrived all the same, efficiently moved over great distances by the Roman legions.

The cities of the poor are expanding without food surpluses or increased agricultural productivity. The rural hinterlands of places like Port-au-Prince and Dakar are still grindingly poor and unproductive. What is feeding these cities is the global economy. Farms in Argentina or Australia or Kansas are providing abundant, inexpensive food to Port-au-Prince and Karachi and similarly poor cities. The Democratic Republic of the Congo doesn’t need to feed Kinshasa, and couldn’t if it had to rely on its own agricultural output; a caloric river flows into the city from the outside world. To pay for the city calories, the poor countries sell minerals or other commodities or rely on foreign aid. They tend not to export industrial manufactured goods because they don’t make any. Almost 50 percent of Liberia is urbanized, for example, but manufacturing of goods that might be exported accounts for only 3 percent of GDP.

For a subsistence farmer in Bangladesh or the Congo, a move to the city, poor as it might be, still makes sense. He often has a better chance of getting food coming off a boat in a city port—living off the scraps of globalization—than he did getting it out of the ground, left fallow by poor soil and worse organization. When cities can rely on external sources of food, including foreign aid, moreover, they also become refugee magnets—as Dhaka, Port-au-Prince, and Kinshasa have become. Sustained by the vast wealth of the wider world, these struggling megacities can expand without a surge in national prosperity.

Antiurban critics look at agglomerations of the poor like Port-au-Prince and despair at their filth, crime, and dismal living conditions—negative externalities of density. Over time, developing and developed cities have mitigated these effects with competent government and money, both of which poor cities lack. But sending people back to the even more impoverished countryside isn’t a viable option; there is no future in rural desperation.

The most fundamental—but also the most costly—job of city government is hygienic: securing safe water supplies. No crime wave can compare in horror with a cholera epidemic. Yes, urban density can help spread airborne epidemics, like the 1918 influenzas, or sexually transmitted plagues, like AIDS. But water is the great repository for bacteria, and waterborne killers are harder to check through quarantines and behavioral responses, like sexual abstinence. If human waste pollutes urban water supplies, the results can be deadly, as they were in London in 1854, when more than 125 people died of cholera near Broad Street over just three days, after drinking from a well contaminated by a sick baby’s diapers. A similar cholera epidemic ravaged Kinshasa, where sewers are basically nonexistent, just a few years ago, sickening hundreds and killing dozens over a short period of time. Port-au-Prince also has no sewers, which has undoubtedly worsened the cholera outbreak that has killed thousands of Haitians in recent years.

Clean water usually requires serious investment in infrastructure that brings water in from somewhere less dense and that ships out human waste so that it doesn’t infect water supplies. Large-scale infrastructure of this kind doesn’t just need good engineering; it needs capable government, which can eliminate corruption and incompetence and credibly borrow. During the 1990s, the city-state of Singapore solved its long-standing water-supply problem by creating a system that purified and reused water. Alarmists who are worried about supplies to American cities forget about the world’s salt water, which can be desalinated at a cost of $1 to $1.50 for 1,000 gallons—more than twice the typical daily use of an American family. At present, Kinshasa and poor cities like it couldn’t come close to affording such innovative ways of providing clean water. Looking to nineteenth-century New York City might provide a more practicable approach. Those New Yorkers, like the ancient Romans before them, built sewers to move waste away from the people and aqueducts to bring fresh water to them from a less dense area. Rome moved its waste into the Cloaca Maxima; New York dumped it into the East River. The waste areas were doubtless disgusting. No one had to drink from them, though, because pure water was readily available.

In old New York, the model that worked was a public entity—but one set up to be independent from the morass of corrupt city government. That may be the right model in much of the developing world today, too. New York originally tried to secure clean water by contracting with a private company, founded by Aaron Burr in 1799. The firm agreed to provide the water—if it could do a bit of banking on the side. Burr’s Bank of Manhattan Water Company evolved into Chase Manhattan Bank and then JPMorgan Chase, making huge profits in finance, but it never was any good at water provision. Somewhat later, the Water Works Company, another private New York firm with a charter to supply water to the city, failed miserably. It couldn’t raise enough funds for the infrastructure it needed to tap the Bronx River and some local ponds and was plagued by charges of financial mismanagement, which spooked its stockholders.

New York eventually solved its water problem with the construction of the 40-mile-plus Croton Aqueduct, completed in 1842, which delivered pure flows from the Croton River southward into the city. The aqueduct was built not by ordinary city government but by an independent group, set up by the state: the Water Commissioners. In a sense, the arrangement prefigured Robert Moses’s ambitious New York infrastructure operations in the next century.

This type of entity has some real advantages when city governments are corrupt. Public but independent, its separate, well-defined mission means that it can be held more accountable for its performance, especially if placed under strong individual leadership. Its accounting books, kept separate from those of other city entities, can be more easily audited. And if the entity is long-lived, it can think on a city-building time scale, not from election to election. Such entities have also established a good track record of attracting talented individuals to lead them. The model isn’t perfect, it’s important to add. Moses illustrates both the strengths and weaknesses of this approach, as he was capable and honest—but also prone to ignoring the concerns of many voters. Still, the independent-but-public model worked in providing New York City with clean water. After building the Croton Aqueduct, New York then turned to the expansion and improvement of its sewers.

If the aqueduct was New York’s signature water-infrastructure project, reversing the flow of the Chicago River was Chicago’s even more amazing nineteenth-century feat, ensuring that waste no longer polluted Lake Michigan, the source of the city’s drinking water. The work of economic historian Werner Troesken documents the tremendous health gains that came from municipal water provision in the U.S. a century or so ago.

Large-scale public works like these are expensive: America’s cities and towns were spending as much on clean water at the start of the twentieth century as the federal government spent on everything except the post office and the army. Research by David Cutler and Grant Miller suggests that these outlays were possible only because financial markets had come to trust cities enough to lend them millions of dollars—underscoring again the importance of competent government. But relying on private interests for clean water, which didn’t work in nineteenth-century New York, would be even less likely to succeed in the new cities of the poor. First, the truly destitute will rarely pay a premium for fancy water, so private providers are unlikely to make enough money to undertake such a project. And as Yale’s Eduardo Engel has shown, public-private infrastructure “partnerships” have worked well in relatively well-off Chile; but in poorer places, they often become an excuse for theft—either by the government of the private firm or by the company of the government.

Corruption undermined New York City’s street-cleaning efforts during its poorer nineteenth-century past. In the days of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall, the city government would hire private contractors to do the job, but the cleaners did little and kicked some of the money back to corrupt officials, who looked the other way. The streets became dramatically cleaner when the city hired public street cleaners, famously led by the meticulous George Waring.

When governments are more honest, turning to private contractors can make sense. The switch from public to private services in many wealthy, relatively well-functioning cities in recent decades has often produced significant savings, with little or no reduction in service quality (and sometimes service improvement). But if places like Port-au-Prince or Kinshasa are to make their water supplies safer, some kind of public entity will probably have to lead the way in building the required infrastructure—and should be encouraged to do so by external pressure. The business will be dirty and costly but not as dirty and costly as recurring waterborne plagues.

If clean water is the first job of city government, then reducing crime is job number two. As the New York Times recently reported, 2013 was Karachi’s deadliest year ever, with 2,700 people murdered and kidnappings, robberies, and other heinous crimes running equally rampant. Kinshasa is incredibly violent, with a murder rate estimated as high as 112 killed per 100,000 people (New York’s rate is four per 100,000). Caracas’s murder rate is also more than 100 per 100,000.

Policing in these cities is ineffective and notoriously corrupt. (Asia’s poor slums are often comparably safe because they haven’t lost the nongovernmental sources of safety that urbanist Jane Jacobs described. When you enter a slum in Mumbai—a megacity with a booming economy and high levels of poverty—you don’t feel threatened, despite the fact that there’s not a cop to be seen. You feel the eyes of the neighborhood watching, making sure that you don’t pose a threat.) Thankfully, fighting crime doesn’t require fancy technology or abundant resources. It can be done on the cheap, even from the highest levels of society, as Singapore’s history shows. Singapore is known today for its honest public officials and safe streets, but that wasn’t the case when a then-poor island became independent 50 years ago. Singapore had a strong leader, Lee Kwan Yew, as prime minister for its first three decades of independence, however, and he early on imposed tough penalties against crime and disorder (including caning, even for nonviolent offenses) and cracked down on corruption, without worrying much about proof—any cop with an inexplicably high level of wealth could go to jail. Lee’s methods would offend any civil libertarian, but they helped transform Singapore’s culture in ways that fueled the city-state’s remarkable rise, reminding us that a trade-off can exist between authoritarianism and disorder. I enjoy living in a country where charges against policemen, or anyone else, require solid evidence to convict, but that may be a luxury of an ordered society. If crime and corruption are raging out of control, as they are in some of the cities of the poor, tougher approaches may be necessary.

New York City’s history of crime prevention provides a second lesson for the poor cities. When Theodore Roosevelt was New York’s police commissioner, the fight was against laziness and corruption. Recent commissioners William Bratton’s and Ray Kelly’s terms teach many lessons, but most important may be the imperative of reclaiming public space. In 1993, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Bratton launched their proactive, data-driven, crime-fighting revolution, which achieved breathtaking gains and eventually made the city the safest big metropolis in America. One aspect of that revolution was shutting down open-air drug markets like the one that operated in Alphabet City in downtown Manhattan. Pushing drug sales off the streets and out of the parks didn’t eradicate drug use in New York; in a big American city, it’s always easy to find a dealer willing to make a private sale. But shifting from public market to private dealer turned out to have a positive effect on the level of violence in the city. Between 1993 and 2012 (with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Kelly continuing the Giuliani-Bratton policies), the number of murders in New York’s Ninth Precinct, which includes Alphabet City, fell by a stunning 94 percent. Not all this turnaround resulted from the ending of public drug sales, but the new policy clearly made a significant difference. In recent years, Rio de Janeiro—still a violent place, by New York standards—followed a similar strategy of pushing drug sales out of public places, and it, too, has become much safer.

To understand what happened in these cases, my sometime coauthor José Scheinkman’s metaphor about markets and crime is useful. With the “dentist” model of product distribution, in Scheinkman’s formulation, customers have a specialist whom they know and trust to some degree—in the case of illegal drug sales, a friend or an acquaintance who also deals. The “grocery store” model requires customers to come to a specific location, where they know they can buy the product—the old Alphabet City for drugs—and they usually don’t know or care who is selling to them. From a policing point of view, the two models are completely different. Open public markets where dealers meet anonymous clients are relatively easy to eliminate: the dealers can be arrested, and buyers scare easily when faced with the threat of jail. Eliminating the dentist model of illegal drug distribution is much tougher, requiring a lot more investment of time and resources, because the supply chains are hidden and locations aren’t fixed.

The grocery-store model also generates far more violence. A rival seizing a known drug market takes over both the turf and its regular business—which explains why the gangs of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas were constantly warring over real estate. By contrast, the killer of a drug “specialist,” doing his business behind doors, doesn’t automatically inherit his customers, so there’s not the same incentive to violence. When Rio’s police adopted the strategy of fighting the “grocery stores” but leaving the “dentists” alone, drug trafficking went underground. That may not have had a huge impact on illegal drug consumption in the city, but rival traffickers stopped attacking one another over turf.

For poor cities, the implication is clear: cheap policing can be effective as long as it is smart and doesn’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. It isn’t going to be cost-effective to try to eradicate the entire drug trade in Kinshasa anytime soon, but targeted interventions against public drug markets don’t demand time and resources in the same way.

New York’s third lesson for the developing world is that urban housing problems need pragmatic government that encourages private-sector solutions over idealistic gestures. Housing becomes affordable when private developers can earn a profit delivering greater density. Yet too many developing-world cities have failed to protect private property from expropriation by squatters and have aggressively regulated the development of new dwellings. Ideological opposition to the development of private property makes it difficult to deliver housing that would materially improve the lives of the world’s urban poor.

In the West, legal protection of land rights long preceded major restrictions on new development. While private contractors didn’t do a great job of delivering clean water to New York sewers, their extraordinary successes as developers and builders can be seen in Manhattan’s aboveground structures. The developers had two powerful legal assets lacking in many developing cities today: their land was well protected from private expropriation by squatters or other parties seeking possession; and their building activities were relatively unhindered.

Historian William Novak reminds us that nineteenth-century America was not a laissez-faire paradise but a place where localities imposed scores of rules on property owners. Typically, these restrictions were motivated by real concerns, such as the fires that can engulf wooden houses. But in New York, unlike in Boston, these early regulations didn’t prevent building up. New York’s landmark 1916 zoning ordinance was in place when the Empire State Building rose on the former Waldorf-Astoria site, but its constraints were minimal: it only required that the building narrow slightly as it rose, so that light could still hit the streets. Today, of course, the city is blanketed with far more intrusive zoning and historic-preservation rules, which would deter anyone seeking to add significantly more height to old Astor properties. (See “Preservation Follies,” Spring 2010.) These rules cost New York by limiting the supply of real estate and ensuring that prices are higher than they need be, but they were instituted too late to prevent the growth of a great, densely packed city, which had lots of low-cost buildings that could be rebuilt over the years, as people got wealthier and their needs changed. It is that density that makes New York a walking city, where it is easy to stroll to an eatery or meet someone for coffee. Just imagine if Fifth Avenue’s property owners had managed to get their way a century ago and blocked the redevelopment of Gilded Age mansions into skyscrapers.

Since the protection of property from private theft is so well accepted in the West, it’s easy to assume that only two choices exist: small-government places, like twenty-first-century Texas and nineteenth-century New York, where property is protected and lightly regulated; and big-government places, like California and New York today, where the government protects land against everyone except itself and imposes extensive limits on what private owners can do with their property. Regrettably, land policies in today’s cities of the poor offer a more destructive paradigm: they manage to combine lawlessness with stifling government regulation. In many of these cities, the government does not protect private property against private expropriation. If squatters come to occupy a private landowner’s property, the government is unlikely to expel them. The political fallout from using force to evict the poor—even those who have illegally occupied private property—is simply too high. Yet the government often tightly limits what can be built, at least in formal dwellings. For decades, central Mumbai labored under the requirement of a maximum floor-area ratio of 1.33, an extremely intrusive regulation that limits building upward and helps ensure that high-end Mumbai real estate is now among the most expensive in the world—a remarkable fact, given the high level of poverty in the city. The skyscrapers that do exist are surrounded by lots of green space, to satisfy land-use rules, but this means that no one can walk anywhere. All this regulatory intervention is incongruous in a city that can’t stop squatters from occupying airport runways.

This combination of overpowering regulation and weak property rights, common in the cities of the poor, ensures underdevelopment. The failure to safeguard private property makes building excessively risky, unless the owners are willing to use violence to clear their land. The risks are compounded by the hoops that the regulators make developers jump through. Development gets skewed toward permanent, defensible space—the kind that passes muster with every regulation, like expensive gated structures for the wealthy—and away from cheap, transitional housing. Populist attempts to regulate developers and protect squatters have the perverse effect of discouraging the construction of these simple dwellings—precisely the kind that poor cities need. If the poor cities ever begin to grow economically at reasonable rates, then any housing appropriate for their residents in 2014 will be wildly inappropriate for their successors in 2053—because incomes should have risen substantially in 40 years. Poor-world cities need low-cost, temporary buildings that can be rebuilt over time, just as the Astor properties were.

These reforms—infrastructure for clean water, effective policing, a sensible system of property rights—would bring huge improvement to the lives of the poor in burgeoning cities like Port-au-Prince or Kinshasa. Their costs would vary from a lot, by poor-city standards (water infrastructure), to a little (changing property rules). But all demand the kind of competent political leadership rare in the world’s new cities of the poor. The history of the West, however, reminds us that cities, as wellsprings of political change and reform movements that curb corruption, are often their own best saviors. We must hope that the political and economic changes that emerge from urban agglomerations will reduce the risks inherent in the world’s rapid urbanization.

*****

Edward L. Glaeser is a professor of economics at Harvard University, a City Journal contributing editor, and the author of Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.

 Article from city-journal.org

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The View from across the Mirrored Pond

occupy and the eliteOxford picA Guide to Selfism

By Peter Hitchens

 There is nothing more dispiriting than an English middle-class audience, especially one in the gentler, more prosperous parts of the country.  They calmly believe all kinds of ideas which menace, most profoundly, the lives they lead.

Oxford, I think, is worst of all – though I once faced a roomful of supposedly crusty Tories in Windsor, all of whom had been brainwashed (presumably by newspapers they erroneously thought to be conservative) into believing that cannabis should be decriminalized. That was when I realized how bad it has got. The word ‘demoralized’ now has a rather weak meaning, weaker than I intend to convey. But forget its modern connotations, and use it literally; and I can think of no other which so exactly describes what has happened to this class of person. Perhaps ‘corrupted’ conveys the strength of what I wish to say, but that too has a different meaning in current usage.

Oxford 2 The majority of the audience who came to a rather odd debate about drugs at Cheltenham on Saturday night, were, for instance, immovably committed to a policy on the subject which will inevitably destroy the efficient, clean, prosperous and ordered society whose benefits they currently enjoy.  At one point they actually applauded a nice middle-aged lady, not for her sensible remarks on trying to deter her own children from drug taking, but because of her confession that she had herself used illegal drugs in the past.

After the discussion, just one person bought my book.  It was Mone more than I expected, given the waves of scorn and dislike which had beaten upon me and on my doughty ally, Kathy Gyngell (who is much nicer than I am, but that didn’t make any difference. An enemy of drug liberalization is, to such people, an apostle of repressive reactionary wickedness). Students — I‘m pleased to say, have much more open minds on this issue than my fellow-members of the Sixties generation.

My own generation’s view on most subjects is, I think, usually a manifestation of what I have decided to call “Selfism.” This is nothing to do with Professor Will Self, whose name, after all, is not his own fault.

ASelfism is the real force behind the undoing of our society. I sought for years for some sort of coherent theoretical explanation for our multifaceted cultural, social and moral revolution. I found Fabians hiding in the rhododendrons, Gramscians lurking in the pantry, Euro-Communists behind the curtains.  I even chased the Frankfurt School though a long labyrinth of polysyllables, and discovered Wilhelm Reich, George Lukacs and Herbert Marcuse doing something naughty in the Orgone Box.woman of death

They’re all there, these people.  They had or have influence, even power. They exist or existed.  They all work (or worked), night and day, for the overthrow of bourgeois capitalist morality, etc, etc. And then there are the many female liberationists bashing away at the traditional family, and all the legions of equality merchants and open-borders enthusiasts, and of course the militant atheists, who hate God, claim he doesn’t exist, and want to stop us telling our children about Him, in case he does exist.

But I don’t think they have a High Command. There’s no eye-patched villain in combat gear, in a hollowed-out mountain, directing their operations in sinister whispers as she strokes a white cat. Some of them understand what’s going on better than others. Some are mere instruments, too dim to have any idea what they are doing. Most have little idea of the significance of what they and do, beyond their immediate surroundings. They’re in all the political-parties, including in dear old Dad’s Army. Only one invariable test exposes them for what they are.

It’s that the policy they support has a self-interested aspect, based upon the idea that each of us is autonomous in his or her own body, and that, as they always militantly rasp ‘Nobody has the right to tell me what to do with my own body.

It’s an interesting rule, and it appeals readily to the unimaginative, which in this age is an awful lot of people, most of us having had our imaginations removed or de-activated in infancy, by TV sets, unceasing background noise and computer games. And if any feeble shoots of imagination still remain, they’ve been shriveled-up by the conformism of a society in which remorseless fashion polices speech and thought. And, as most of us know, a thought that can’t be spoken is like a plant without sunlight. It will shrivel and die.

The best instance of this militant Selfism at work is the strange, ferocious campaign which calls for abortion to be more or less wholly unrestricted. It’s logically barmy. If you’re sovereign over your own body, then you can’t be sovereign over anyone else’s – but abortion is the violent destruction of someone else’s sovereign, autonomous body.  Rather than admit this obvious difficulty, they pretend that the other person’s body is somehow not really a person or a body, but they must know as they say it that this is a slippery dodge.  Actually, many of the supporters of this campaign hesitate about taking their position to its logical conclusions, which are, of course, post-birth infanticide and the euthanasia of the gravely ill, its limits defined by the needs of the ‘community’ as embodied by the state.

Hitlerian Germany’s flirtation with eugenics and the systematic killing of the mentally ill has, for the moment, discredited a view that was once common among enlightened left-wing folk. But I wonder how long this inhibition will last, especially as the problem of the aged gaga parent, sitting on (and consuming) a large inheritance, persists among us.

In any case, let us return to the real problem. It was the strange association of the free abortion campaign with feminism that alerted me to it. Now, it is clear that in China and India, and bit by bit in this country, babies are being aborted in increasing numbers purely because they are female. China, where I have observed it in action, give some indication of how things may develop here, as people realize it is wholly legal, and what is more, uncondemned by fashionable opinion.

This is blatant sex discrimination of the crudest and most indefensible type. Anyone who was genuinely concerned for female equality would denounce it in the strongest terms. Yet, from most of the extensive and uninhibited chorus of articulate female (and supposedly feminist) voices in the media, politics and the academy, there has been no such protest.

I think this is one of the most fascinating collective silences of modern times. It demands an explanation. Here is an absolute breach of all they purport to hold most dear. *And they will not attack it. I’ve given them weeks and weeks to do so. A tiny few have mumbled a bit. But most have remained quiet.

Therefore these people cannot in fact be feminists in principle. Their concerns have another explanation. They want, for their individual selves, cultural, moral and if possible legal assistance in climbing career ladders and entering professions. But it ends with them, individually. They have no unbreakable solidarity with other members of their sex, who will never sit as judges, get into Parliament, or into a boardroom, or even a newsroom, because they were dismembered in the womb for being girls.

I can see no way out of this. It is one of the most classic hypocrisies of our times.

In which case, what is the rest of their position about? Is their attitude to marriage to do with female equality, as such, or with the freedom to earn a big salary? The same surely goes for the state-funded childcare, the maternity leaves and the rest.

Note that in the current era of cheap servants from abroad, the salaried mother who works outside the home is uniquely able to get her domestic chores done by paid strangers. But it is not so long ago that such cheap servants were not available, and an inconveniently-timed baby was a career disaster. Step forward the abortion clinic. Maybe this will be so again, before long.

But if a baby can be got rid of on such a thin pretext (supposedly a threat to the mother’s mental health, when in fact it’s a menace to her income) then it is plain that the same law must allow the killing of a baby for being the wrong sex. No law could be devised which allowed what might crudely be called career-preserving abortions, and yet forbade abortions on the grounds of sex.

If you want to protect unborn girls from girl-hating parents, then you must make abortion very difficult, or well-nigh impossible, for everyone. And the alleged feminists, actually Selfists, can intuitively see that.

That is why they have been silent.

And then you must ask yourself how it was that abortion on demand ever became a feminist desire. What exactly does it have in common with campaigns for women to vote, to have full property rights, to stand for parliament, to be allowed into universities and the professions? The answer is that it has nothing in common with these demands at all, as it has now absolutely proved, which is why I can consistently support all these demands, and absolutely oppose abortion.

But Selfism cannot campaign under its own true colours, which are stained with blood and other horrible things. It has to dress up in nobler garments, and appropriate the clothes of truly moral campaigns, to advance its ends. So the abortionist campaigns as a feminist; the drug liberalizer campaigns as the friend of civil liberties;  the adulterer campaigns as the rescuer of the woman trapped in an unhappy marriage; and so on.

And above all there is the person who hates the idea of real, absolute morality, who fears that there may, after all, be a deep,  unalterable law which condemns his or her desires and which – mourning even over a fallen sparrow – cries out in terrible grief at an aborted baby. That person furiously asserts that there is no God, and no such law, and angrily denounces those who believe there is.

 *****

Does this sound strangely familiar?

Article from (across the pond) at MailOnline.com: http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/

 

 

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Eric Holder: Obstructionism, Cover-Ups, and Corruption?

Eric Holder Runs from a Ticking Time BombEric Holder 1

“IRS Deadline approaches fast — Federal Judges are Furious—and where is Andrew Selka?”

By Sidney Powell | 09/25/14

 The surprise resignation of Eric Holder, the first Attorney General ever to be held in contempt of Congress, exploded in the news today. Holder has been under unrelenting assault for the most egregious politicization and abuse of power in the Department of Justice in history—exceeding that of John Mitchell and Alberto Gonzalez. He has made the Department of (Obstructing) Justice notorious. Federal judges are stepping in to end his stone walling of Congressional and other investigations on several fronts, and now he’s on the run.

washington dcWhy now? What is about to blow up?

This week in Washington federal district judge John D. Bates denied the Department’s motion for further delay and ordered DOJ to produce an index identifying each of the documents it had withheld in the lawsuit by Judicial Watch to obtain the Fast and Furious documents; identifying the statutory exemption claimed; and explaining how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption. The deadline looms just four weeks away on October 22nd.

hope and changeReality being far different from the President’s remarkable praise of his dear friend at today’s photo-friendly press conference, Mr. Holder lost all credibility with Congress upon his abominable handling of the Fast and Furious gun-running scheme with Mexican drug dealers, which caused untold numbers of deaths. He refused to produce documents demanded by federal legislators—prompting historic contempt charges.

As Judicial Watch has noted: […in the wake of a scandal in which the DOJ collected the private email correspondence of reporters, seized their phone records and tracked their movements as part of an investigation of leaks, Eric Holder has lost his biggest defender – the press itself.]

[Making matters worse for Holder, news of the press revolt came at a time when House Republicans sent a letter to the attorney general “expressing ‘great concern’ about the possibility that Holder lied under oath during his testimony earlier this month on the DOJ’s seizing of journalists’ records.]

[On May 15, Holder told the committee he wasn’t involved in “the potential prosecution” of a member of the press under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified information. “This is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy,” he said]

[Shortly thereafter, reports began to surface that the Justice Department, in addition to seizing telephone and email records of Associated Press reporters, had seized the emails and phone records of Fox News correspondent James Rosen. While Holder had recused himself from the AP proceedings, the Washington Post reported that the attorney general had personally signed off on the search warrant for Rosen’s records.]

 At the same time, Mr. Holder is about to run out of stalling time on the cover-up in the IRS scandal. He has come under increasingly serious fire for refusing to appoint a real special prosecutor to investigate what the Inspector General of the Treasury has already determined to be improper targeting of conservative groups by IRS officials including Lois Lerner. That bomb could detonate any day now.

The IRS has stonewalled production of the relevant documents, suffered astonishing computer crashes, deliberately destroyed Lois Lerner’s Blackberry with no effort to retrieve the “missing” emails from it, and been deceitful and obstructionist in the lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch to obtain documents that would reveal the target selection process and how high up in the (Obama) White House the knowledge or direction of it can be traced.

Judicial Watch recently requested additional discovery. Judge Emmet Sullivan, the federal judge in the District of Columbia, has just given the IRS until October 17 to file its response to that motion. Judge Sullivan has the power to appoint—and has previously—appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the Department of Justice for its corrupt prosecution of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, discussed at length in my new book Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice. Mr. Holder pledged to clean up the Department of Justice in response to that debacle. Obviously, he has not. The Project on Government Oversight disclosed that he (Mr. Holder) has been protecting prosecutors who committed intentional and reckless legal and ethical violations. Unlike most of his predecessors, he refused even to release the names of the offenders in the Department.

Mr. Holder tasked Barbara Bosserman, a Civil Rights Division attorney, with the Department’s own purported investigation of the IRS abuses. Congress later learned that she had made substantial contributions to the President’s campaign and renewed its demand for Mr. Holder to name a special prosecutor.

As more of the IRS emails have come to light, they have revealed that Mr. Holder allowed a Justice Department lawyer, Andrew Strelka, to represent the IRS in opposing the lawsuit by Z Street—a group allegedly targeted for abusive treatment by the IRS because of its support for Israel. Mr. Strelka used to work with Lois Lerner, engaged in the political targeting himself, and maintained his close relationship with Ms. Lerner after he joined the Justice Department.

Congressmen Issa’s and Jordan’s letter of August 25 to the Attorney General revealed that Mr. Strelka was privy to internal communications of the Exempt Office of the IRS long after he left that office. He was even advised immediately of the crash of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive—unlike Congress or any federal judge.

The letter notes: “Curiously, before his withdrawal from the case [forced by a story reporting this conflict], Strelka also completed a detail to the White House Counsel’s Office from December 2013 to June 2014—during which time the White House learned of Lois Lerner’s destroyed emails.”

The Congressional Committee on Government Oversight and Reform has intensified its inquiry into the Department’s conduct. The Congressmen told the Attorney General that their Committee staff should be contacted to arrange transcribed interviews of Mr. Strelka and Ms. Siegel by September 8. Mr. Strelka quickly and quietly left the Department. By September 5, the Department was stonewalling and refusing to assist the Committee in locating Mr. Strelka—who seems to be as missing as the IRS emails. As the Hill has reported, Rep. Jordan complains that the Justice Department “has declined to give Strelka’s contact information to the Oversight Committee and has reprimanded the panel for trying to get in touch with him directly.” Is this an ‘out-take’ from House of Cards?

Congress also wants to talk to Nicole Siegel, a Department lawyer in the Office of Legislative Affairs. Turns out she also worked for Lois Lerner, shared Ms. Lerner’s views, and kept in touch. Hardly the disinterested person one should have in the Department office that responds to congressional inquiries on the IRS’s target selection.

Then there was the extraordinary accidental or mistaken call to Congressman Issa’s office by the Justice Department’s Office of Public Affairs. The call was intended for Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking minority member of the Oversight Committee, and sought to coordinate a leak of selected Committee documents to selected reporters so the Department could comment on them. The subject of the conversation and documents? None other than Andrew Strelka—regarding his representation of IRS Commissioner Koskinen in the Z-Street case. Meanwhile, other emails reveal extensive communications between Rep. Cummings’ staff and the IRS — referred to as an “executive branch agency” — in 2012 and 2013 regarding conservative group True the Vote.

As of September 12, the Department was still obstructing efforts to locate Mr. Strelka. Meanwhile, the Department’s own Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified before the House Judiciary Committee that the FBI and other components of the Department of Justice “have refused our requests for various types of documents.” As a result, a number of our reviews have been significantly impeded.” Mr. Horwitz had already joined an unprecedented letter signed by 47 Inspector Generals for various agencies expressing serious concern that their jobs were being undermined and obstructed by multiple agencies of this presidency, including the Department of Justice.

Mr. Strelka can’t hide forever. Judge Bates is fed up with Department’s delays and ordered the list of documents Mr. Holder and Mr. Obama have been hiding for years now on their Fast and Furious scheme. Soon, Judge Sullivan could appoint a special prosecutor or demand production of the back-up server’s emails, or give Judicial Watch additional discovery after October 17.

As Judicial Watch  stated in 2013: […after (more than) four years of some of the most egregious scandals in the history of the country – many of them originating from within the nation’s highest law enforcement agency – our words have proven prophetic. From Fast and Furious to the Black Panthers to encouraging voter fraud this has been the most corrupt Department of Justice (DOJ) in modern U.S. history.]

One thing is for certain. Mr. Holder didn’t just wake up today and decide he wanted to go fishing. There are truths underlying this resignation that will be shocking when they surface. Mr. Holder will no longer have the shield of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to protect him from congressional, grand jury, or other subpoenas. The next question is: Which criminal lawyer will he hire to defend him and how soon?

The hiding places are filling up faster than you can say “you’re running out of time.”

*****

Sidney Powell worked in the Department of Justice for 10 years and was lead counsel in more than 500 federal appeals. She served nine U.S. Attorneys from both political parties and is the author of Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.

Read more at http://observer.com/2014/09/eric-holder-runs-from-a-ticking-time-bomb/#ixzz3EWvserXi
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[Judicial Watch] italicized inserts by Gospelbbq.

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How Jesus is Conquering the World — not Satan

A Brief Overview of the Postmillennial Viewcross

“How Jesus is Conquering the World”wine candles

By Jay Rogers

When thinking about eschatology today, few Christians are even aware of the postmillennial view. When I have traveled to Russia, Ukraine, Latin America and other nations on short term missions trips, I am usually asked this question by new converts: “Are you olivet discoursepre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib?” as if these were the only three forms of eschatology. I often have to explain that I am not a dispensationalist (at all). It is difficult to show some Christians that there is another way of looking at the end-times and the millennium altogether.christmastime

Postmillennialism (literally, “after the thousand years”) is the belief that Christ will physically return to the earth only after a non-literal millennium is completed. Postmillennialism is optimistic (not pessimistic) about the “end times.” Christ’s reign over the earth from heaven increases 10 commandments...during the millennium, which is thought to be not a literal one thousand year period, but “a very long time.” (Yes, this is Biblically consistent). Postmillennialism places the Church in a role of transforming (through gospel application) whole social structures before the Second Coming and endeavoring to bring about a “Golden Age” of peace and prosperity with great advances in education, the arts, sciences and medicine.Pentecost

All Christians must believe in the literal, physical return of Jesus Christ. Christians may differ in their opinions as to the nature of the millennium and the exact sequence of “end times” events without departing from biblical orthodoxy.

earthHowever, I believe that major problems have been caused by the most popular system: dispensational premillennialism. Ironically, I did not know anything of the postmillennial view until I became aware of the limitations of the dispensational paradigm. In searching for a view to replace dispensationalism, I found postmillennialism to be most convincing.

Dispensationalism is the idea that God has worked in different ways throughout history through different economies or dispensations. A dispensationalist makes a major division between the Covenants, God acting with wrath and vengeance in the Old Testament, and with love and grace in the New Testament. Dispensationalism teaches pre-tribulational rapture, divides the end times into several dispensations and teaches a conspiratorial view of history. Dispensationalism is the system devised by two men who wrote in the 1800s.

John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), an Irish priest (Anglican), organized a group called the Plymouth Brethren. Darby taught that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent. He rejected the creeds of the early church and believed that social reform is useless. Darby’s followers concentrated on saving men and women out of the world. (Darby began preaching the soon, ‘imminent’ coming of Christ in the 1830’s).

C.I. Scofield (1843-1921), a Texas pastor, popularized the teachings of J.N. Darby in a systematic theology known as dispensational premillennialism. C.I. Scofield first compiled his reference Bible as a teaching aid for missionaries. It soon became one of the most widely used tools for Bible study among entire denominations such as Southern Baptists and Disciples of Christ.

Despite the fact that many of the dispensationalists stressed personal holiness, the paradigm shift toward dispensational theology has paved the way for a greater evil, antinomianism, which means literally “anti-law.”

Antinomianism is an anti-law position which states correctly that man is saved by faith alone; but states incorrectly that since faith frees the Christian from the law, he is no longer bound to obey the law. Antinomianism creates a system in which the laws of the Bible cannot apply to governing an individual or society. Dispensationalism promoted antinomian thinking by de-emphasizing the relationship of the Old Covenant law to the individual. In turn this led to a waned influence of Christians in society. (i.e., Christians began detaching themselves from the every-day concerns of social life and governmental influences).

In my study of church history, I found that the great revivalists and reformers of past centuries were not dispensationalists. When I read Athanasius, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Edwards, Whitefield and Wesley, I found to my surprise that none of them ever spoke of “the rapture.” This is because they were either postmillennialists, amillennialists or historical premillennialists. They put “the rapture” (a synonym for the resurrection) at the end of history. According to the prevailing view of most Christians in history, the resurrection (of the Church, Christ’s Bride) will occur at the same time as the Second Coming of Jesus and the final judgment. Darby and Scofield were the first Christians in history to place the resurrection (of the church) seven years prior to the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth. In doing so, they proposed two Second Comings.

In answering questions about eschatology from a postmillennial view, first I must stress that there is a difference between millennial viewpoints and hermeneutics. The manner in which one interprets the Bible (hermeneutics) will have something to do with one’s millennial viewpoint. However, one can often arrive at very different conclusions about the millennium or the end-times using either a futurist, preterist, historicist or idealist approach to the Bible. The definitions of these hermeneutical approaches are as follows.

Futurism: This is the “end-times view.” Most of the prophecies of the Mount Olivet Discourse (Mat. 24) and the book of Revelation are yet to be fulfilled. The locust plagues of Revelation 9 might be interpreted to be Cobra helicopters, and the northern invader of Israel described in Ezekiel 38 might be the Soviet Union’s army.

Preterism: This is the “before-times view.” Most of the prophecies of the Mount Olivet Discourse (Mat. 24) and the book of Revelation were literally fulfilled by 70 A.D. The book of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse (Mat. 24) are thought to deal with the coming persecution of the church by Caesar Nero and the destruction of the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Historicism: This view states that the prophecies of the book of Revelation was fulfilled sometime in history, but not in the first century or in the future. The black plague of the Middle Ages might be interpreted to be one of the plagues brought by the four horsemen of Revelation 6. The pope at the time of Martin Luther is often thought to be the Beast of Revelation 13.

Idealism: This is also called the spiritualist approach. This view states that the prophecies of Revelation are not to be taken literally, but have a general symbolic application in all history. The heavenly battle of Revelation 12 is thought to describe the ongoing battle between good and evil in the spiritual realm.

My view differs from premillennialism and amillennialism in approach as well as in application. I will be describing a postmillennial view that is partially preterist. However, not all postmillenialists of history were preterists. Most have been historical postmillennialists.

  • Most postmillennialists are either preterists or historicists.
  • Most amillennialists are either idealists or historicists.
  • Most classical premillennialists are either historicist or futurist in their approach to Revelation.
  • All dispensational premillennialists put virtually every biblical prophecy about judgment in a “seven year tribulation” thought to be coming in the near future.

Most Christians today know less about their eschatology from a careful study of the Bible than they do from books such as The Late Great Planet Earth, the Left Behind series, and the wild conjecture of films such as The OmenThe Seventh Sign, and even an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, The End of Days.

We have almost forgotten the postmillennial view of Bible prophecy which has had many adherents in church history. However, this historic view is being repopularized today by many well-known conservative Bible scholars, such as, Loraine Boettner, J. Marcellus Kik, R.J. Rushdoony, Ian Murray, Greg Bahnsen, Kenneth L. Gentry, R.C. Sproul, Dr. George Grant, Dr. Gary DeMar, Dr. Gary North, Dr. Joel McDurmon; to name just a few.

The Great Tribulation and the Antichrist

In my view, the answers to these questions are determined more by hermeneutical approach than by a particular millennial view. In fact, the terms “seven year tribulation” and the “antichrist” do not appear anywhere in the book of Revelation or in any passages about the “end-times.” In my view, the “seven year tribulation” and the “antichrist” are simply not end-times events!

What did Jesus mean by “great tribulation?”

“Great tribulation” is mentioned by Jesus in Mat. 24, “For then shall be great tribulation”(v. 21). Jesus is here referring to the tribulation that is about to come on the land of Judea just before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. The tribulation is defined as something soon to come, “this generation shall not pass away” (v. 34). Also, history will continue for some time after the great tribulation: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor shall ever be” (v. 21). He also tells us that the tribulation will be cut short for the sake of the elect (v. 22). So according to Jesus, history is going to continue for some time after this tribulation. The textual context points to a time one generation after Jesus, to the destruction of the nation of Judea and the Temple at Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Some today may doubt that the Roman siege of Jerusalem from Spring AD 67 to the fall of the Temple in September 70 was the greatest tribulation in history, but if you were a Jew living in Jerusalem in those days, you would have believed it was. Josephus’ History of the Wars of the Jews sheds some interesting light on this fact. In any case, we have to interpret the text faithfully as objective truth. Thus, we see that this “great tribulation” does not come at the end of the kingdom age, but shortly after the beginning (64-70 AD).

According to John, “Who is the antichrist?”

In the epistle of 1 John, the word “antichrist” is only used as a description of people who don’t believe in the teachings of Jesus. He is not described as one satanic entity as the Beast of Revelation but as a person, any person, who deviates from the Christian orthodoxy. But, through years of myth-making, futurists converted “many antichrists,” into a single Antichrist; an apocalyptic villain.

“Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22).

There are now many antichrists. Anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ is an antichrist.

Who then is the Beast of Revelation?

The Beast is believed by many Christians to be the same figure as the “Man of Sin” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and the “antichrist” mentioned in 1 John. However, this is a strained, unbiblical leap of logic. Many Christians who are supposed to be looking for Christ’s glorious appearing and busy with fulfilling the Great Commission are instead looking for an Antichrist.

According to the Apostle John in Revelation 13:18, the Beast is a reprobate villain of the most ultimate depravity. The Beast is the very incarnation of evil and the persecutor of God’s people.

Numerous candidates for the Beast of Revelation have been advanced throughout the years by noted Bible experts. These have included Caesar Nero, the Roman Emperor Justinian, Pope Leo, Napolean, Lenin, Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Henry Kissinger, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, and even now Bill Gates! The theories and predictions about the Beast go on and on…

The popularity of this theorizing on the identity of the Beast is seen in the many books on the market which have sold tens of millions of copies. The Beast of Revelation is the main character in many films which paint him as a diabolical world dictator who will bring about a New World Order, who will unite all world religions in order to worship him. According to some Bible prophecy experts, the Beast will control the destiny of every individual on the planet through hand-implanted computer chips with personal identification numbers. And finally, it is believed that the Beast will seal his own destruction by bringing the late great planet earth to the brink of Armageddon through a nuclear holocaust.

According to Newsweek magazine, 19 percent of all Americans and nearly half of all evangelical Christians in America “believe that the Antichrist is on the earth now.”

Why do so many believe this? According to 1 John 2:18, antichrist must come in the “last time.” So it is no wonder that some of the most noted Bible experts in our day are trying to identify him. However, the Bible does not say there will be one special “antichrist.” [The Apostle] John said, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” (1 John 2:18).

Note that John, writing in the first century, says that now is the last time. When Christians speak of the “last times” or “end times,” most often they are referring to any passage in the Bible which refers to the “last days.” But not all references to the “last days” speak of the end of history. There are at least two other senses of the term used in the New Testament.

  1. Sometimes the “last days” refers to the time after the appearance of Christ in public ministry (c. 30 A.D.) and before the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.) i.e., the last days of Israel as a nation-state.
  2. The “last days” may also refer to the entire time after Christ’s ministry and before the end of history. We were in the “last days” during the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:11) and we are still in the “last days” now.

In my view, John was writing about first century events. The Beast of Revelation and his number, six hundred sixty-six, is a cryptogram for Caesar Nero, while the antichrist is another figure, any man who denies Jesus is the Christ. But most Christians have never heard of this view. The problem is that many Christians, having not seriously studied the Bible, don’t know the difference between sensationalism and sound doctrine, between fiction and biblical theology. Many sincere Christians accept some wild theories about end-times prophecy as though this loose style of Bible interpretation has the same authority as the infallible Word of God itself.

The Second Coming, Final Judgment

The second coming and final judgment occur after the millennium is completed. My view is identical with almost all postmillennial and amillennial views. The order of end-times events would occur like this:

  1. The millennium (thought to be non-literal “one thousand years” or a very long period of time) is first completed.
  2. Jesus Christ then returns physically to the earth.
  3. Immediately after this is the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous.
  4. Immediately after this comes the final judgment.

I should interject here that there is always a first judgment that occurs at our death. But the final resurrection and judgment will occur at the end of history.

The order of events is exactly the same in postmillennialism as in amillennialism. Postmillennialists differ only with amillennialists in viewing the progress of the kingdom of God during the millennium with much more optimism.

There is a difference between this view and the view of the historical premillennialist. The premillennialist is inclined to think that the millennium is complete before the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment. The only difference is that Christ returns before the millennium. (Hence the term: premillennialism.) I don’t agree with this order of events, but it is not a departure from orthodoxy.

The major disagreement of the postmillennialist is with dispensational premillennialism and its elaborate conspiracy theories, time tables, charts and graphic scenarios of prevailing evil in the end-times. Dispensationalists seem to ascribe biblical significance to almost every new development in current world events. [Ascribing biblical prophecy to current events by dispensationalists has been going on for over 175 years; any day now!] Critics also point out that bizarre eschatological theories are the hallmarks of many cults.

Aside from concerns about faulty interpretation, I also worry that some Christians may be getting so wrapped up in deciphering prophecy and awaiting divine deliverance (secret rapture) that they ignore the Great Commission. [Gospelbbq adds this comment: “I agree and disagree with Mr. Rogers on this point, in that, it depends on how you view the gospel in fulfilling the Great Commission. The Great Commission to some is merely saving souls for the Kingdom of God. In this regard dispensationalists are doing a far superior job of winning souls because they believe the end of history is near. In this regard, many postmillennialists seem to lack initiative. But, if your view of the gospel in the Great Commission pertains to ‘all of life’ -- and teaching individuals and nations the ways of godliness as a more complete fulfilling of Christ’s command, then postmillennialists do a far superior job. So, there seems to be a bit of irony in the point about dispensationalists ignoring the Great Commission, at least as they would see it.]

The Nature of the Millennium

The millennium is occurring right now! To understand what I mean by this, you must first see that the main point of debate centers around the question of good versus evil (the gospel vs. humanism). Will Christ or the devil prevail in history in the time prior to the Lord’s return? The eschatological view of many Christians today puts much more emphasis on a coming Antichrist, than on the victory of Jesus Christ. But postmillennialists believe that Satan and the Beast of Revelation have already been defeated and that great victory lies ahead.

Postmillennialists in history were once known as “progressive millennialists.” These were Christians who rejected the “millenarian” view (the archaic term for premillennialism) that the kingdom would only come on earth when Christ came physically to set up His throne on earth as it is in heaven. They (Postmillennialists) opted instead for a view that the (Gospel) kingdom is advancing progressively in history.

Postmillennialists believe that the Kingdom of God came on earth during the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth. “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Mat. 12:28). The kingdom of God is already here, but it has not yet grown to its fullness. In history, the kingdom has been advancing little by little. The kingdom is likened to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field until it grew into a great tree (Mat. 13:31). It is also likened to leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened (Mat 13:33). The kingdom of God is always progressing and growing until it spreads into the whole world. The role of the Church during history is to bring all things into captivity to Christ.

If we are going to work for the kingdom with an eye toward winning, we must have a postmillennial faith. If we are to bring everything into captivity to Christ, we must have a theology that tells us it is impossible to lose. Ideas have consequences. We must believe that we are the people of victory and Christ is going to triumph in history. Only when all things are put under His feet will the last enemy, death, be destroyed.

“For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:25,26).

This is a remarkable idea. According to this passage, Christ is reigning now from heaven. He will do so until all enemies of the Gospel are put under His feet. The postmillennial view is that Christians are used of God to put His enemies into submission (Christ working through believers). Through the conversion of the nations of the world, God’s enemies will be destroyed. The last enemy, death, is destroyed only at the Second Coming. Until that time, we can look forward to great victories. We are told that “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15).

The idea that the Lord has entrusted the stewardship of the world to His people is found in the parable of the talents in Luke 19. Here the Lord says to His servants, “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13). The Lord is gone for a long time, while His most faithful servants work to increase the wealth of their Master’s kingdom. When the Master returns, He rewards those who have done the best job with the wealth entrusted to them in advancing the kingdom in their Lord’s absence. Those who work for the advance of the kingdom receive rulership over entire cities. But the enemies of God who would not allow Christ to reign over them are slain (Luke 19:27).

So ideas do have consequences. If we believe that Satan is already bound according to Revelation 20:2 and Christ is seated on the throne of heaven, then we ought to work for the increase of the kingdom of God in history. If we do not work for the kingdom, we will see no increase, and God will judge us accordingly.

The nature of the millennium is a time of great victory for God’s people. As we draw closer to the Second Coming, we will see the nations not only evangelized, but taught to obey all the things God has commanded us, according to Matthew 28:18-20.

Interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6

When we look at Revelation 20, we see the phrase “thousand years” mentioned by John six times. This is the only place in the Bible where the “millennium” is mentioned. There are, of course, other passages in the Bible which speak of a prolonged era of prosperity and peace. But there is only this passage which speaks of the “thousand years.” Therefore, most postmillennialists are not dogmatic about the literal length of time of the “thousand years.” It could be interpreted to mean a long time.

We may view the number “thousand” as a symbolic number. This is consistent with other passages in the Bible, such as when God says that He owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalms 50:10). Surely what is meant here is much more than exactly one thousand hills but all the cattle in the world. [Gospelbbq adds this note: If you are a dispensationalist and you are troubled by using words symbolically in eschatology, then you may want to look at dispensationalist’s use of “this generation,” “the time is at hand,” the time is near, etc., etc.]

Postmillennialists teach that Jesus will return after the millennium is completed in order to judge the world. Premillennialists teach that Jesus returns prior to a literal one thousand year reign of Christ on earth. Does Revelation 20 state that Jesus is to return prior to the thousand years? No, neither explicitly nor implicitly does Revelation 20 state that Christ has returned to the earth prior to the millennium. Premillennialists believe that Revelation does imply this because Jesus is on the throne and Satan is bound. However, we know that Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father shortly after His resurrection and ascension (Heb. 8:1; Rev. 4:2). Christ is already seated on a throne and is even now the ruler over the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5).

Is Satan bound now? Yes, Satan was bound in the first century during the first coming of Jesus. Scripture teaches this.

Jesus said: “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house” (Mat. 12:28-29).

The New Testament speaks of the binding of Satan in various places. Satan falls from heaven (Luke 10:18); he is cast out of heaven (John 12:31); he was crushed under our feet (Romans 16:20); he was disarmed (Col. 2:15); he was rendered powerless (Hebrews 2:14); his works were destroyed (1 John 3:8).

Note that John doesn’t say that Satan is bound in every respect. Christ binds Satan for a well-defined purpose: “to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore” (Rev. 20:3b). In the Old Testament only Israel knew the true God. But Christ’s coming changes this as the Gospel is preached to all nations (Isa. 2:2,3; 11:10; Mat. 28:19; Luke 2:32; 24:47; Acts 1:8; 13:47).

So if Jesus is on the throne of heaven and if Satan is bound from deceiving the nations, then we are now in the millennium. I interpret the millennium to be the period of time in which the Gospel is being preached and the nations of the world are being converted. We are in the midst of the “millennium” now and have been for about 2000 years.

Interpretation of Old Testament Prophecy Regarding the Kingdom

The Old Testament is rife with prophecies concerning the nations being under the Christ the Messiah. This is an important aspect of our faith. A whole book would be necessary to quote entirely the texts of the Old Testament that predict the triumph to come in Christ, how all the nations shall be His. Isaiah and Ezekiel especially, and most of the minor prophets, have foretellings of the kingdom age when the nations of the world will turn to Christ and obey God’s law.

The Bible is divided by two covenants, but it is really one Covenant, the original is renewed again under Christ’s reign. In the New Testament, the promises made to Abraham are given to the Church. Paul refers to the Church in as the “new Israel of God.” (Gal. 6:6). All of Israel’s promises apply to the Church today. “That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3:14).

Dispensationalists spiritualize this passage saying that the covenant with the church is for salvation only, but the covenant with Israel is for the land and material blessings. According to the futurist view, the material blessings for Israel will occur only during a future millennial reign after Jesus returns to the earth.

Postmillennialists agree that the promise of the Spirit is a greater dimension than material blessings, however, the church is to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. This means that we have a duty. Christians must occupy the whole world. The Great Commission is to make disciples of all nations with Christ as the ordained King of all creation. As we do this, great material prosperity and peace will be secured by the people of God that all nations will enjoy.

Amillennialists and premillennialists know that eventually Christ will win, but for now Christians are on the losing side. But I believe that the impulse for victory is a God-given instinct. Victory has a strong appeal to the people of God. The promise of God tells us we can’t be losers. I don’t believe God programmed us for defeat. We have a magnificent calling because we are a people called to victory not to defeat.

Of course, premillennialists also believe that the millennium will be a time of great victory, prosperity and peace in the world. But postmillennialists believe that these trends will increase gradually and will become the normal state of affairs for a very long period of time before Christ’s Second Coming. In studying the prophecies of the Old Testament, I became more and more convinced of the postmillennial view. Just a few examples will explain my conviction.

“There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isa. 65:20).

What is remarkable about this passage to me was not the prediction that there would be no infant mortality in the millennium, but that people would live to be an old age. That implies that the resurrected saints of God, who return to earth with Christ (according to the dispensationalist view) will live side by side with mortal men who will be born, live to a very old age and die during the millennial reign. I began to suspect that this passage and others like it refer not to a future millennial reign after Christ’s return, but to history before the Second Coming. It is not unlikely that in the next few generations, infant mortality will be all but wiped out and that most people will live past their one-hundredth year. There will be a literal fulfillment of this prophecy in history.

There will not be universal redemption of all men during the millennium, but in some nations the vast majority of people will at least outwardly profess to serve the one true God. Isaiah says that even in Egypt, being a type of the unregenerate world, five cities out of six will call upon the name of the Lord, an image of great victory. “In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear unto the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction” (Isaiah 19:18).

There will be a time when the holiest of all men will be advanced to greatest positions in civil politics. “And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers” (Isa. 49:23).

The richest men in the world, those who have great influence, shall devote all to Christ and His church. “The daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift, even the rich among the people shall entreat thy favour” (Psa. 45:12).

Wars will one day cease according to the Bible. There will be universal peace, love and understanding among the nations of the world, instead of confusion, wars, and bloodshed. “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:4).

There will be universal disarmament as weapons of warfare will be destroyed. “He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth: he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder: he burneth the chariot in the fire” (Psa. 46:9). All nations will live together in peace. “And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” (Isa. 32:18).

Strong families will be restored and there will be great love between children and their parents. “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:6).

There will be a time of great economic prosperity in the Christian nations of the world. “For the seed shall be prosperous, the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew, and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things” (Zec. 8:12). “And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it” (Jer. 33:90).

There will be a time of great light and knowledge. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark. But it shall be one day, which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light” (Zec. 14:6,7).

It will be as though God will give so much light to His church, that the sun and moon will be ashamed. “Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients, gloriously” (Isa. 24:23).

One of the greatest postmillennial theologians of history was Jonathan Edwards. In his book, History of Redemption, Edwards theorized that the advance of the Gospel would someday spread to Africa and Asia. Edwards wrote:

There is a kind of veil now cast over the greater part of the world, which keeps them in darkness. But then this veil shall be destroyed, “And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations” (Isa. 25:7). And then all countries and nations, even those which are now most ignorant, shall be full of light and knowledge. Great knowledge shall prevail everywhere. It may be hoped, that then many of the Negroes and Indians will be divines, and that excellent books will be published in Africa, in Ethiopia, in Tartary, and other now the most barbarous countries. And not only learned men, but others of more ordinary education, shall then be very knowing in religion, “The eyes of them that see, shall not be dim; and the ears of them that hear, shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge” (Isa. 32:3,4).

In the first half of the 1700s, when Edwards was writing, the Christian population of Africa and Asia was less than one percent. That Africa would be converted to the Gospel was unbelievably optimistic. Today, I am encouraged to know personally of successful Christian missions among Africans, Indians and Tatars just as Edwards predicted. Many from among these nations are converted. They are entering the ministry, writing books and dedicating their lives to the conversion of the lost. I am also encouraged to imagine what is to come in the future.

At the beginning of the 20th century, 80 percent of the world’s Christians were in North America, South America and Europe. Now the Christian population of these countries is only 40 percent of all Christians because more and more of the new Christians are in Africa and Asia. In the 1990s, the Republic of Zambia identified itself as a Christian nation. Here are Africans running a country trying to reorder everything according to the Word of God. There is still a great work of reformation to be accomplished, but when the president and vice president of a nation in Africa have affirmed that they believe that God’s Law should rule, that is major news!

It has been a slow start, but things are happening dramatically all over the world today. Great things have been happening since Christ came, but in the 20th century the pace stepped up dramatically. Now we are seeing more people saved in each year than were saved in all the time period of the New Testament. This influence of the Gospel is reaching all parts of society. In short, The Old Testament predicts a time of great victory for the Church before the Second Coming of Christ.

*****

This article was originally published April 2008.

Article by Jay Rogers from Forerunner.com

 

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The Bible and Alcohol

Does the Bible Truly Forbid Alcohol?bread and wine

BY JEFFERY SCOTT , CP CONTRIBUTOR

The Bible forbids Christians to partake in a myriad of things, but is alcohol one of them? What does the Bible really say about the consumption of alcohol?

wine candlesIn a recent article in Relevant Magazine, Eternity Bible College vice president Preston Sprinkle argued that the consumption of alcohol is not explicitly forbidden in the Bible. Sprinkle drew on examples of John Calvin, who allegedly had the stipend of 250 gallons of wine a year in his church contract; of Martin Luther,pouring wine whose wife was a famed brewer; and the Guinness family, who supposedly created their world-famous beer as an act of worship to Jesus. Sprinkle says that somewhere along the way, the “nectar of heaven” became “devil’s libation”.

communion cup“Even though some Christians advocate for the total abstinence of alcohol as a moral mandate for all believers, the Bible never requires all believers to abstain from alcohol,” Sprinkle argues. “In fact, the Bible never says that abstaining from alcohol is the wisest way to avoid getting drunk. Think about it. Alcoholism has been rampant through every age, but the Bible never says that all believers should therefore refrain from drinking.”cross

Sprinkle draws a comparison of alcohol to money, and claims that if Christians were mandated to stay away from alcohol to deter drunkeness, Christians would then have to avoid making a large amount of money to “guard against the crushing sin of materialism and the misuse of wealth.”

olivet discourseThe Bible college official feels that it’s not true when believers argue that if a Christian is seen drinking he/she would ruin his/her testimony. He believes that outside of one struggling with alcoholism or witnessing to a Muslim in their home country, the potential convert would be more likely to respect the Christian for enjoying a beer with them than feel that the Christian drinking would be off-putting. “I’m not convinced that if my unbelieving neighbor sees me slipping into a pub, I will lose much traction to my Gospel witness,” Sprinkles says. “In many cases, the Gospel will shine brighter when you break down wrong assumptions about Christianity by having a beer with your neighbor.”friends drinking

Sprinkle claims that most potential converts reject the gospel because they have rejected a “pharisaical” version of Jesus that is mostly man made. “If this is the good news we preach, then the true beauty of a crucified risen King will become covered in the fog of a man made, pharisaical ‘don’t drink’ gospel,” Sprinkle says.

Regarding the arguments that wine in biblical times were not fermented and were just “grape juice,” and neither Jesus nor the writers of the Bible condoned drinking, Sprinkle says that neither of the claims can be substantiated by scripture. “If wine was really just unfermented grape juice, then did Paul warn the Ephesians ‘Do not get drunk with grape juice, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit?’,” Sprinkle asks. “This doesn’t make sense…but whatever the alcoholic content, people were quite able to get smashed by drinking too much of it.” He used Proverbs 20:1 and Isaiah 5:11 to support his argument.

Something that Sprinkle didn’t argue, was the fact that the abuse of wine or beer was wrong. “Although a good beer and a rich wine are blessings from God, they should be consumed with caution,” Sprinkle emphasized. “There’s a growing tendency, however, among some younger evangelicals to celebrate their freedom without discipline.” He praises the younger generation for doing all the things Christ called them to do, but also admonishes them saying “Yes God cares about the poor. He also cares about your sobriety.”

Sprinkle believes that the abuse of alcohol “mocks the blood of Christ and scoffs at God’s holiness.” Yet he feels that a moderate, celebratory, or reflective glass of wine or beer is pleasing to the Lord.

*****

Article from Christianpost.com

 Gospelbbq recommends reading: God Gave Wine: What the Bible says about Alcohol by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Published by Oakdown, Lincoln, CA 95648; 2001.

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The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling!…The…

Al Gore DevilNo Consensus in Climate Change Science

“We are… far from the knowledge needed to make good climate policy, writes leading scientist”

By STEVEN E. KOONIN

September 2014

 The idea that “Climate science is settled” runs through today’s popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided. It has not only distorted our public and policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse-gas emissions and the environment. But it also has inhibited the scientific and policy discussions that we need to have about our climate future.

Al Gore Global WarmingMy training as a computational physicist—together with a 40-year career of scientific research, advising and management in academia, government and the private sector—has afforded me an extended, up-close perspective on climate science. Detailed technical discussions during the past year with leading climate scientists have given me an even better sense of what we know, and don’t know, about climate. I have come to appreciate the daunting scientific challenge of answering the questions that policy makers and the public are asking.APTOPIX Lightning Weather

The crucial scientific question for policy isn’t whether the climate is changing. That is a settled matter: The climate has always changed and always will. Geological and historical records show the occurrence of major climate shifts, sometimes over only a few decades. We know, for instance, that during the 20th century (100 years) the Earth’s global average surface temperature rose 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

light and darknessNor is the crucial question whether humans are influencing the climate. That is no hoax: There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. There is also little doubt that the carbon dioxide will persist in the atmosphere for several centuries. The impact today of human activity appears to be comparable to the intrinsic, natural variability of the climate system itself.homer_end

Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, “How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?” Answers to that question at the global and regional levels, as well as to equally complex questions of how ecosystems and human activities will be affected, should inform our choices about energy and infrastructure.

earthBut—here’s the catch—those questions are the hardest ones to answer. They challenge, in a fundamental way, what science can tell us about future climates.

Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole. For example, human additions to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the middle of the 21st century are expected to directly shift the atmosphere’s natural greenhouse effect by only 1% to 2%. Since the climate system is highly variable on its own, that smallness sets a very high bar for confidently projecting the consequences of human influences.

A second challenge to “knowing” future climate is today’s poor understanding of the oceans. The oceans, which change over decades and centuries, hold most of the climate’s heat and strongly influence the atmosphere. Unfortunately, precise, comprehensive observations of the oceans are available only for the past few decades; the reliable record is still far too short to adequately understand how the oceans will change and how that will affect climate.

A third fundamental challenge arises from feedbacks that can dramatically amplify or mute the climate’s response to human and natural influences. One important feedback, which is thought to approximately double the direct heating effect of carbon dioxide, involves water vapor, clouds and temperature.

But feedbacks are uncertain. They depend on the details of processes such as evaporation and the flow of radiation through clouds. They cannot be determined confidently from the basic laws of physics and chemistry, so they must be verified by precise, detailed observations that are, in many cases, not yet available.

Beyond these observational challenges are those posed by the complex computer models used to project future climate. These massive programs attempt to describe the dynamics and interactions of the various components of the Earth system—the atmosphere, the oceans, the land, the ice and the biosphere of living things. While some parts of the models rely on well-tested physical laws, other parts involve technically informed estimation. Computer modeling of complex systems is as much an art as a science.

For instance, global climate models describe the Earth on a grid that is currently limited by computer capabilities to a resolution of no finer than 60 miles. (The distance from New York City to Washington, D.C., is thus covered by only four grid cells.) But processes such as cloud formation, turbulence and rain all happen on much smaller scales. These critical processes then appear in the model only through adjustable assumptions that specify, for example, how the average cloud cover depends on a grid box’s average temperature and humidity. In a given model, dozens of such assumptions must be adjusted (“tuned,” in the jargon of modelers) to reproduce both current observations and imperfectly known historical records.

We often hear that there is a “scientific consensus” about climate change. But as far as the computer models go, there isn’t a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences. Since 1990, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, has periodically surveyed the state of climate science. Each successive report from that endeavor, with contributions from thousands of scientists around the world, has come to be seen as the definitive assessment of climate science at the time of its issue.

For the latest IPCC report (September 2013), its Working Group I, which focuses on physical science, uses an ensemble of some 55 different models. Although most of these models are tuned to reproduce the gross features of the Earth’s climate, the marked differences in their details and projections reflect all of the limitations that I have described. For example:

  • The models differ in their descriptions of the past century’s global average surface temperature by more than three times the entire warming recorded during that time. Such mismatches are also present in many other basic climate factors, including rainfall, which is fundamental to the atmosphere’s energy balance. As a result, the models give widely varying descriptions of the climate’s inner workings. Since they disagree so markedly, no more than one of them can be right.
  • Although the Earth’s average surface temperature rose sharply by 0.9 degree Fahrenheit during the last quarter of the 20th century, it has increased much more slowly for the past 16 years, even as the human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen by some 25%. This surprising fact demonstrates directly that natural influences and variability are powerful enough to counteract the present warming influence exerted by human activity.

Yet the models famously fail to capture this slowing in the temperature rise. Several dozen different explanations for this failure have been offered, with ocean variability most likely playing a major role. But the whole episode continues to highlight the limits of our modeling.

  • The models roughly describe the shrinking extent of Arctic sea ice observed over the past two decades, but they fail to describe the comparable growth of Antarctic sea ice, which is now at a record high.
  • The models predict that the lower atmosphere in the tropics will absorb much of the heat of the warming atmosphere. But that “hot spot” has not been confidently observed, casting doubt on our understanding of the crucial feedback of water vapor on temperature.
  • Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today—about one foot per century.
  • A crucial measure of our knowledge of feedbacks is climate sensitivity—that is, the warming induced by a hypothetical doubling of carbon-dioxide concentration. Today’s best estimate of the sensitivity (between 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) is no different, and no more certain, than it was 30 years ago. And this is despite an heroic research effort costing billions of dollars.

These and many other open questions are in fact described in the IPCC research reports, although a detailed and knowledgeable reading is sometimes required to discern them. They are not “minor” issues to be “cleaned up” by further research. Rather, they are deficiencies that erode confidence in the computer projections. Work to resolve these shortcomings in climate models should be among the top priorities for climate research.

Yet a public official reading only the IPCC’s “Summary for Policy Makers” would gain little sense of the extent or implications of these deficiencies. These are fundamental challenges to our understanding of human impacts on the climate, and they should not be dismissed with the mantra that “climate science is settled.”

While the past two decades have seen progress in climate science, the field is not yet mature enough to usefully answer the difficult and important questions being asked of it. This decidedly unsettled state highlights what should be obvious: Understanding climate, at the level of detail relevant to human influences, is a very, very difficult problem.

We can and should take steps to make climate projections more useful over time. An international commitment to a sustained global climate observation system would generate an ever-lengthening record of more precise observations. And increasingly powerful computers can allow a better understanding of the uncertainties in our models, finer model grids and more sophisticated descriptions of the processes that occur within them. The science is urgent, since we could be caught flat-footed if our understanding does not improve more rapidly than the climate itself changes.

A transparent rigor would also be a welcome development, especially given the momentous political and policy decisions at stake. That could be supported by regular, independent, “red team” reviews to stress-test and challenge the projections by focusing on their deficiencies and uncertainties; that would certainly be the best practice of the scientific method. But because the natural climate changes over decades, it will take many years to get the data needed to confidently isolate and quantify the effects of human influences.

Policy makers and the public may wish for the comfort of certainty in their climate science. But I fear that rigidly promulgating the idea that climate science is “settled” (or is a “hoax”) demeans and chills the scientific enterprise, retarding its progress in these important matters. Uncertainty is a prime mover and motivator of science and must be faced head-on. It should not be confined to hushed sidebar conversations at academic conferences.

Society’s choices in the years ahead will necessarily be based on uncertain knowledge of future climates. That uncertainty need not be an excuse for inaction. There is well-justified prudence in accelerating the development of low-emissions technologies and in cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.

But climate strategies beyond such “no regrets” efforts carry costs, risks and questions of effectiveness, so nonscientific factors inevitably enter the decision. These include our tolerance for risk and the priorities that we assign to economic development, poverty reduction, environmental quality, and intergenerational and geographical equity.

Individuals and countries can legitimately disagree about these matters, so the discussion should not be about “believing” or “denying” the science. Despite the statements of numerous scientific societies, the scientific community cannot claim any special expertise in addressing issues related to humanity’s deepest goals and values. The political and diplomatic spheres are best suited to debating and resolving such questions, and misrepresenting the current state of climate science does nothing to advance that effort.

Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do otherwise is a great disservice to climate science itself.

*****

Dr. Koonin was undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during President Barack Obama’s first term and is currently director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. His previous positions include professor of theoretical physics and provost at Caltech, as well as chief scientist of BP, where his work focused on renewable and low-carbon energy technologies.

***

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Article from Wall Street Journal.

 

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Multiculturalism’s Anti-Biblical Nature

1,400 English Girls Raped by Multiculturalismwoman of death

By Dennis Prager

 Sept.  2014

It was recently revealed that between 1997 and 2013, at least 1,400 girls — in just one relatively small English city (Rotherham, population 275,000) had been raped by gangs of men over the past decade.

womenAs summarized in a British government inquiry:

“It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered. They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated. There were examples of children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone. Girls, as young as 11, were raped by large numbers of male perpetrators.”

Why was nothing done for 16 years?picassos lover

Police incompetence was a factor, but not the primary reason.

The primary reason was political correctness. It turns out that the perpetrators were all, or nearly all, of “Pakistani heritage” and the girls were all, or nearly all, white.

This explanation is not that of conservatives alone. Virtually everyone, including media and politicians on the British left, acknowledge that this is the reason. What neither they nor the American left have acknowledged is that political correctness was created and is sustained by the left.

It is a testament to the lack of self-awareness on the left that it experiences no cognitive dissonance. The New York Times and other left-wing media have thoroughly reported this story and the fact that political correctness is to blame for the ongoing atrocities against these girls. Yet they are oblivious to the fact that they are the very ones who created the moral monsters known as political correctness, multiculturalism and diversity — the doctrines that forbid judging non-whites, Muslims and others by the same moral standards as whites and Christians.

These left-wing doctrines made 16 years of gang rapes of English girls possible.

In 2002, a Labor Party MP from nearby Keighley, Ann Cryer, complained to the police about “young Asian lads” raping girls in her constituency. In her words, she “was shunned by elements of her party.” And note, that as is demanded by the left in the U.K., she didn’t even mention that the rapists were Pakistani, lest Muslims be blamed for this evil. They were “Asian lads.”

And, for the record, her attempts to get local imams to intervene with the men failed; she was called a racist.

National Review editor Rich Lowry reports that, “In a BBC documentary, the author of a 2002 report to the Rotherham council on the scandal said her work was quashed. When she noted that the perpetrators were from the Pakistani community, a colleague told her ‘you must never refer to that again — you must never refer to Asian men.’ She was sent to diversity training and, by her account, nearly fired.”

British Home Secretary Theresa May told Parliament that “institutionalized political correctness” was responsible for the lack of attention given to the mass rape.

In 2001, Jack Straw, then-MP from Brighton, and formerly U.K. home secretary, announced that “there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men … who target vulnerable young white girls.” Straw was dismissed by the left. For example, Keith Vaz, a Labour MP, told the BBC: “I disagree with Jack Straw … I don’t think you can stereotype an entire community.”

The immediate case that prompted Straw’s statement was the conviction of two Brits of Pakistani heritage on charges of rape. Multiculturalism and political correctness clearly infected the judge in that case. He “said he did not believe the crimes were ‘racially aggravated,’ adding that the race of the victims and their abusers was ‘coincidental.’”

“Coincidental.”

Lies are to political correctness, multiculturalism and diversity what water is to fish.

From the Guardian in 2001: “Retired detective chief superintendent Max McLean, who led a previous police investigation into sexual exploitation involving the grooming and trafficking of young girls in Leeds, questioned whether it was a cultural problem” (italics added).

Perhaps the retired Detective Chief Superintendent is unaware of the following from his own country (as reported last week in the New York Times):

“The same [as in Rotherham] was true in recent prosecutions in Oxford, in southern England, and the northern towns of Oldham and Rochdale, where nine men of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Afghan origin were given long prison sentences in 2012 for abusing up to 47 girls. Investigators in Scotland have reportedly uncovered a similar pattern of abuse.”

So why did the judge “question whether it was a cultural problem”?

Because, morally judging cultures (except Christian, Israeli and American cultures), is forbidden by the left. Indeed not judging non-Western cultures is the very definition of “multiculturalism.”

And finally, from the same report: Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of Muslim organization the Ramadhan Foundation, “to suggest that this is somehow ingrained in the community is deeply offensive.”

“Offensive?” But what — Mr. Shafiq — if it’s true?

The answer is clear and important. For the multicultural left and the victim-status groups it defends — and for the millions of young people the Left has indoctrinated at schools and universities — whether something is true is not what matters. What matters is whether it can be deemed offensive by the left.

Some 1,400 girls were raped by gangs of men — “[While one girl was being raped] the rest of the men, all in their 20s, stood over her, cheering and jeering, and blinding her with the flash of their cameras” — thanks to leftism’s morality-denying doctrine of multiculturalism.

This is all but one more example of the most important moral rule since the beginning of the 20th century: Almost everything the left touches is either damaged or ruined.

In this case, it was the lives of 1,400 English girls.

 *****

 This column was originally posted on Townhall.com.

 

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