Wednesday, December 24, 2014

February 10 New Symposium: A Revolution to Decentralize?

          Over the past few years, state governments and local communities have pushed back against federal laws and regulations in numerous areas, including: marijuana production and consumption; health insurance coverage; assisted suicide, immigration; minimum wage; energy mandates (wind and ethanol); grazing rights; and a myriad of work-place/business regulations.  Is this unease a symptom of more abstract forces, a “cooling” of our loyalty to or affection for the nation as the political and economic powers become more internationalized/globalized?  If so, what are the psychological and sociological forces at work in that cooling?  And what does the future hold? Will “the people,” the am-ha-arez, take/be given more control over their personal lives and “sins,” as long as the globalists are making money?  Are the "Hunger Games”our future? Is ethnocentric retreat (many small, unofficial “nations” of people who receive our greater loyalties) increasing?  Though federal laws proscribe discrimination on many bases, are peoples’ prejudices and social-psychological separations growing?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

If evil is deeply rooted in the love of money, how is evil to be monitored, countered, even defeated -- in ourselves, our communities, our governments?

The love of money is primarily the love of the means to accumulate. I own 3 guitars and 2 amps, and could easily justify additions and would be sorely tempted to  purchase accordingly, if funds allowed. My thirst for things is not easily quenched.  However, I don’t like indebtedness in my accounts and disrespect my government for its  unwillingness to balance theirs.

 I would like to live long enough to see how Western labor, en masse,  handles the coming, relative austerity  dictated by global competition.  And how much longer democratic politicians will promise the American dream when American workers are just part of a global work force,  most of whom will find themselves eventually competing against the non-human work force.  Yes, capitalism incentivizes and fills the shelves, but discards “the help” so blithely – and depends on excessive accumulation to keep it somewhat  humming.


Whatever resolve we might have to fight off the love of what money will accumulate, we are overwhelmed by sales pitches recommending yet another purchase to meet an ever-expanding set of felt needs -- within a system that depends on unnecessary purchasing to keep so many of us employed.


Yet when machines and robots do most of the work, even fight our wars, by what cheap thrills will the rulers distract us?  How long before the NFL is on every night of the week, before no medications are illegal, and a casino is within walking distance of all?  Oh, what Huxley could see with a 1932 lens!


I pine for the days before free-agency in baseball, for the decades when corporations considered  taxation a part of community obligations, when blue-collar workers could count on a union to help secure a living wage – and yes, when America produced nearly half the world’s goods. ;-)


Though I’m a selfish person -- who nonetheless admires the communalist --  “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” sounds like the kingdom of God to me.  Marana tha.


What opportunity the Church will have to preach contentment -- in plenty or want.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

The love of money: our topic for Tuesday, December 2.


I have sent to your email adress a short section from Jacques Ellul's Money and Power (the 1984 English translation).  He is a favorite theologian,  whose books have stimulated me to think more deeply.  I hope you find this section a stimulant -- and feel spurred to start blog-banter at

Next meeting of New Symposium is Tuesday, December 2, 7:30 p.m., 1803 W. University.  The topic: "If evil is deeply rooted in the love of money, how is evil to be monitored, countered, even defeated -- in ourselves, our communities, our governments?"

In the bonds of civil discourse,

Mike Witherspoon

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Questions to ponder

Given the etymological help from Chaerephon, are we becoming more or less immune to community?

Why are community and equality so frequently linked?
What are psychological costs and benefits of community-mindedness?
What "takes a village"?

What are the communal properties or communitarian principles of the Kingdom of God?
In what ways might we resemble those properties or principles in kingdoms of man?

Because I had to look it up: Chaerephon was a beloved friend of Socrates. (It's good to have him still around.)

In the bonds of good discussion,


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Community and Immunity

"Community" is from the Latin words "cum munio" which means "fortify together". The main action involves not the coming together but rather the fortification [also translated defense or supply]. In other words, community is meaningful [only?] in the undertaking of tasks that an essential organism cannot perform adequately without outside assistance.

The opposite of community is "immunity" from the Latin "in munio" which means "fortify from within". Again the emphasis is on fortification; however, in this case the essential organism looks within [not outside] itself for strength and well-being. In fact, a healthy immune system resists outside interference as potentially detrimental. When the immune system fails, sickness or death soon follows.

It would appear that discrete and thoughtful participation in one's community is wise for those tasks whose result is a shared desire and whose accomplishment by a single individual is unlikely, impossible or duplication of effort. However, indiscriminate participation in communal activity due to an unwillingness to "look within" for answers and solutions to one's questions and problems is an almost certain guarantee of individual decline and communal failure.