Sunday, June 29, 2008

Celebrating the Second Amendment

This here is my first post to the blog and I am so proud James has allowed me to perticipate. I just wanted to let yall know that I won't be postin' none of that intyllectual stuff. Mostly I'll just be reportin' what goes on around here and tryin' to keep that big-headed James in his place case he gets too big for his britches which he does from time to time if you don't watch it. Anyway, James said we should do somethin' special to celebrate that there Supreme Court ruling about us individuals having the right to keep and bear guns for our own personal defense, pleasure, or to keep them IRS *^%$#@#'s from gettin' too frisky.

Note from James: As part of Eustace's on-going education and acclimation into civilized society I will be educating him as to when and where a citizen can lawfully use firearms and, as yet, he does not fully comprehend all of its nuances. Needless to say, we at The Manic Eclectic do not advocate the use of lethal force against any civil servant until and unless (a) said civil servant is acting in violation of our lawful and constitutional rights and (b) all civil and litigious means of protecting said rights have been exhausted. But this is Eustace's post so I will now allow him to carry on.

Anyway, James said we needed to celebrate and what better way to celebrate than by whoopin' it up real good with our guns! Woohoo! Of course, the bad part about shootin' with James is he won't let me bring a case of Keystone Light. Fact, James won't let me drink at all while we's a shootin' and let me tell you it ain't nearly as fun, but tends to be a bit more safer for the limbs and lives of them that's celebratin'.

So there we was just a shootin' up a storm--tin cans, whiskey bottles, newspaper pictures of Hillary, you-name-it. Then James says we need to take out one of them old trucks we got up on blocks in the back pasture. This is the truck before we started shootin' at it.

But before we started shootin' James get all patriotic and starts a quotin' some of them what he calls our founders. You should a seen him. He gets all glassy-eyed a lookin', takes his hat off, puts it over his heart and goes off like this:

"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense?"--Patrick Henry

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined."--Patrick Henry

"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"--Patrick Henry

"We are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of Nature has placed in our power... the battle, sir, is not to the strong alone it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave."--Patrick Henry

"The Bible is worth all the other books which have ever been printed."--Patrick Henry

"The great object is that every man be armed."--
Patrick Henry

At that, James put back on his hat and I commenced to shootin'. Check out what I did to that old truck in honor of ol' Pat Hinry.

Now who said rednecks ain't got skills? Huh?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Justice Scalia's Opinion

If you are interested, here is a link to Justice Scalia's opinion in yesterday's landmark Supreme Court ruling. It is a long opinion, some 63 pages if I'm not mistaken, but a perusal of the first ten or twelve pages is well worth it. Two quick thoughts:

1. Individual liberty was upheld yesterday against an encroaching, elitist government. Leftist do-gooders would love to take guns away from individuals because they do not trust individuals to be responsible for themselves, they want those individuals to be dependent upon government for, in this case, self-protection. In the leftist mindset only the government is responsible enough to own and use firearms and only the government should decide when and where and against whom they should be used. But this was definitely not the mindset of the founders and framers of our constitution. Check this quotation out, for example, taken from "Journal Notes of the Virginia Ratification Convention Proceedings (June 27, 1788)":

[In Amendments Proposed by the Virginia Convention]:That the people have a right to keep and bear arms: that a well regulated militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State. That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.

2. Isn't it frightening that this decision was a 5-4 verdict? Think about that. Four supreme court justices ruled in favor of overturning the second amendment to the Constitution and nearly succeeded. We almost lost one of the basic rights guaranteed us by the Constitution. Wow. Liberty is under attack.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ben Stein's Expelled--Rejoined

One of the last things I mentioned in the previous post was what I considered to be the weak link between Darwin and Hitler as presented in the movie. This argument, that Darwin leads to Hitler, is the basic substance of the entire second part of the film. To help make the case, Stein interviews Richard Weikart, author of From Darwin to Hitler.

To be fair, I haven't read the book. I note it has been widely criticized--but check this--by the academic community. Seems to me that the academic community might have a dog in this fight, so the fact that they criticized it does not necessarily carry any weight with me. On the other hand, as I already pointed out, in the film this tie-in seemed weak.

The weakness lies in the partial and parsed quotation from Darwin's The Descent of Man. See previous blogpost. Nevertheless the film slugs its way forward and demonstrates the atrocities that might develop from a Darwinist worldview.

Now this is a delicious little irony is it not?

Militant atheists are fond of pointing out all the atrocities committed by men down through history in the name of religion. They are quick to name religion as the source, the root of world evil. They gladly remonstrate against this plague of organized superstition and the zeal it produces in men's hearts for murder and mayhem. Their solution for solving the world's problems? Put an end to religion or, at the very least, neuter it by gutting it of substance (liberal theology anyone?)

Yes, they love to do that. And, yes, it is very weak argumentation, if one should deign to call it argumentation at all.

And along comes Ben Stein and points out that if one is to use the same logic--the logic that blames theism for wars, atrocities, murders, etc.--then one might similarly conclude that Darwinism and its ugly cousin atheism are similarly responsible for all the wars, atrocities, murders, etc. that took place under and because of the Nazi regime in Germany and throughout the 20th century under atheistic communists in the Soviet Union, its eastern bloc satellites, and in communist China, as well as in other communist countries.

One good turn deserves another.

Of course, as someone pointed out, the science of Darwinism is morally neutral and the theory cannot be held responsible for the way some men came along later and misused it.


Then, in response let me say that the Church has been, all things considered, a force for moral good in this world and that those who have misused its institutions, influence, and/or teachings are, in the same way, those who are to be held responsible, not the concept of Christianity itself.

What is the common denominator? Evil men. Individuals are responsible for their actions whatever ideological or theological or scientific excuse they may invent for themselves as a cover.

I will deal more with atheism in the coming weeks as I read my new books and think more along those lines. In the meantime, when Stein's movie comes out on video, do yourself a favor and rent it. It is highly entertaining from the perspective of a Christian and you are sure to derive some satisfaction from seeing Stein make atheistic academics squirm by asking them the tough questions.

Theology and Ideology

I was thinking today at work about some things I want to do with the blog and, as is my usual custom, I was also listening to talk radio. It occurred to me that I would like to blog on things political, but I'd like to find my own voice amidst the existing cacophony of political punditry. Most of what I listen to on the radio or see on television consists of people yelling past each other--shallow soundbytes. What I would like to see and hear is some depth, some reasoning. Maybe that could be my niche.

Our thinking about any given topic is driven by our presuppositions. Two people, for example, can look at the same evidence and draw two different conclusions, both of which seem logical to the individuals to whom they belong. Why is that? The difference is in the underlying presuppositions, the prisms through which we all view the world.

So what I would like to do is lay a groundwork, a foundation. I'd like to look at what is behind our political thinking. I'd like to advocate what I refer to as the American Ideal, a bedrock of ideological thinking which will help us to determine what is right or wrong in any given political situation. I think of it as American political orthodoxy and I find it in the founder's writings and in the great documents which underlie our republic.

I'm no expert. I come as a student--but also an idealist. I think the American ideal, the American form of government as envisioned by our founders, is the best possible scenario for fallen men in a fallen world. I did not say it was the solution, nor did I say it was perfect, but it is the best possible way for men to govern themselves within the gospel age. I'm no utopianist. Utopia cannot and will not exist as long as men have evil in their hearts.

And now you see how our theology and our ideology cannot be separated. The former must, and always does, inform the latter.

So look for posts along these lines in the coming days and weeks--along with a few other things. (After all, we couldn't possibly call ourselves eclectic, here, unless there was some variety.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ben Stein's Expelled Part 2

After putting in 13 hours yesterday at work--and then wasting some time with the good people at a certain forum--I regretfully have not had time to complete this one yet. But be sure it is in the works! Look for it Wednesday evening. God bless.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Late to the Party (as usual)

Lee Strobel wrote a bestseller in 1998 that was all the rave of the evangelical world for several years and I'm just now getting around to reading it. The Case for Christ. Yeah, I know. Thing is, I've always been the non-comformist and, as such, I just can't bring myself to jump on the fad-wagons of American evangelicalism at the time that they come rolling by. So, to my loss, I am only just now picking up this wonderful book.

I got the itch to read it after blogging on the Ben Stein movie (we will get back to that in a day or two) and after making my last book purchase. Christian apologetics as well as the arguments of theism vs. atheism have become my latest interest so naturally I should go ahead and read this Lee Strobel offering, especially since I already own it. (I think I picked it up very, very cheap a couple of years ago). Thus far I have found it a joy--very readable, informative, a page-turner. A lot of the information I knew already from my own studies--I own and have read material written by some of the scholars whom Strobel interviews--but Strobel puts it all together and always seems to be able to include a little more than I had known before.

I'm 134 pages in and I think I will be done with it (even on my busy schedule) within a week or so. Besides highly recommending it I wanted to pass along this little anecdote from Strobel's interview with Bruce Metzger, simply because I found it irresistibly funny.

In introducing us to Metzger, Strobel writes:

And he hasn't lost his sense of humor. He showed me a tin cannister he inherited as chairman of the Revised Standard Version Bible Committee. He opened the lid to reveal the ashes of an RSV Bible that had been torched in a 1952 bonfire during a protest by a fundamentalist preacher.

"It seems he didn't like it when the committee changed 'fellows' of the King James Version to 'comrades' in Hebrews 1:9," Metzger exclaimed with a chuckle. "He accused them of being communists!"

A gem.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Democrats or Socialists?

I ran across this article on the American Thinker web-site and just had to pass along the link along with a great quotation. This, friends, is worth the read and I hope you will not hesitate to go over there and absorb it all.

The article is written by Lance Fairchok and is entitled "Why Do We Call Them 'Democrats'?"

Here is the quotation that stood out for me:

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of 'liberalism,' they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened." - Norman Thomas, U.S. Socialist Party presidential candidate 1940, 1944 and 1948

That's what we have this year, by the way, as a choice in our presidential election. We have a Marxist/Socialist in Barak Obama representing the Democrat (sic) party and we have what in a perfect world would be the liberal democrat candidate in John McCain representing the Republican party.

Obama likes to call himself a progessive who is for change, but all he offers is the same, tired, old socialism of the 20th century about which there is nothing progressive at all.

McCain is a self-styled maverick which only serves to deflect the obvious that he varies from his conservative brethren toward the liberal side far too often. In truth, he is a democrat in the mould of Harry Truman or LBJ.

Enough of politics, it's Sunday! Go to church! But be sure to read that article I linked above.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Trip to the Candy Store!

I love the book store. I could spend all day every day in a book store just looking at all the beautiful, wonderful books. There are large books, thin books, classy books, classless books, expensive, hard-to-read tomes, and vapid, pointless, mind-numbing tabloidal fodder all mixed into one giant, splendid panoply of color, odor, and excitement. I sometimes can just stop and breathe in the atmosphere of a thousand worlds and know that the only place in which this strange heterogeneous vapor might be savored in exactly this way . . . is the book store (or maybe a library, but who's counting). That's why I call it a trip to the candy store.

For Father's day I got a gift certificate to Barnes & Nobles and this is what I bought: (drum roll, please)

Dragons: The Greatest Stories - edited by Martin H. Greenberg
I find dragon stories irresistible. In fact, I'm reading a rather famous one to my younger son right now. See side bar.

The God Delusion - by Richard Dawkins
Dawkins is a vociferous, fire-breathing atheist out to save the world from religion. This one should be fun.

Dawkins' God--Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life - by Alister E. McGrath
McGrath is a fellow Oxford University professor with Dawkins and this was the first major book written to refute Dawkins' rantings. It should be good.

The Dawkins Delusion?--Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine - by Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath
A collaboration between Professor McGrath and his wife, this volume picks apart The God Delusion (I think), demonstrating the irony of Dawkins' hatred for Christian 'fundamentalism' by showing how he acts almost exactly like what he condemns, only from the opposite viewpoint.

I have to admit I gained a fascination for Dawkins after seeing the previously-posted-about Ben Stein flick Expelled and I cannot wait to read his book. He seems to me a somewhat eccentric character and I am always attracted to those. I also want to learn more of the arguments used by elitists in the intellectual community who claim that reason proves there is no God. I have always found the opposite to be true. Reason points to an uncaused First Cause. The idea that matter is eternal is ludicrous to me. There was a time and place when it came into being. Plus, I love a good argument, so off we go.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ben Stein's Fiasco? Part 1

Ben Stein's recent documentary, released in theaters a month or so ago, has produced, predictably, a firestorm of controversy. Perhaps you have heard of it? It's called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed and it is a welcome, if not totally accurate mortar round fired back upon those soldiers of the elitist scientific community who scorn faith of any kind and deem it worthwhile to seek to eradicate it.

First let me say that when I saw the film in the theater I loved it. It was like a refreshing breeze on a sweltering day. I have since read many of its criticisms, some of which, I think, are predictably vapid, others which carry some validity. Let me give you my thoughts.


1. The film does not do a good enough job of making its case that proponents of intelligent design are being persecuted, censored, and denied funds for research. In my research I found there may have been more to the individual cases than was noted in the film--another side. However, the films' critics failed to convince me that the over-all premise of the early part of the film was incorrect. I think these things do happen, they do not occur openly, however, and many good people in the scientific community are probably in denial about what some of their more unscrupulous colleagues might be capable of doing in the advancement of an anti-faith agenda.

2. Has anyone else noted that the fervor and fanaticism displayed by some in the atheistic community is almost a replica of the religious fervor which they seek to squelch and condemn as having been the plague of the world? Seems to me the problem is a combination of zealotry and depravity whether religion is sprinkled in or not. Again, the problem is not religion. The problem is human depravity.

3. Many of the film's critics attack the style. That, to me, is pretty typical. While the film attacks their practices and beliefs, their response is, "Well, what a poorly made film." That's weak with an 'A', my friends.

4. Some of the scientists made to look pretty bad in the film have cried foul, saying that they were deceived about the nature of the film and the nature of the interviews. I think some of this is legitimate. See for example Richard Dawkins' rant.

5. The film does a good job of making it obvious that Darwinism and creationism are incompatible. If you believe in Darwinism you can't take Genesis 1-3 literally. It must be looked at as myth or allegory. There are some who try to have their cake and eat it too, but at issue are two fundamentally opposed world-views.

6. The film does a good job of exposing one of the weaknesses of Darwinism, that of its failure to answer the question of where and how life originated. The only answer the Darwinists in the film could come up with was, basically, "anything but God." It is unclear how they just dismiss theism so arbitrarily without a shred of reasoning. It is so . . . unscientific. Yet there it is.

7. The tie-in to Hitler and Nazism is weak. There is a scene in which Stein is sitting near a statue of Darwin and quoting from one of Darwin's works. The quotation is ominous in light of the imagery and the tour we have just been given of Nazi concentration camps. Here is the quotation as read in the movie:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. - Darwin, The Descent of Man.

However, as pointed out in the Wikipedia article on the film, the full quotation, in context, with parts left out by Stein in bold lettering, is this:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.

Ouch. Suddenly Darwin is not quite the beast we would all like to make him out to be, eh? I dislike this type of misquotation, but to be fair to Stein, there is the possibility that he came about it honestly, for he was not the first to parse Darwin's words in the way that he does. The first to do so, according to the aforementioned Wikipedia article, was none other than William Jennings Bryan in the 1925 Scopes Trial. Ouch again.

I have more to say on this film and the issues brought up by it and will be posting a follow-up to this. I still highly recommend the film, but as with anything, as the Apostle Paul would say, "Test all things, hold to that which is good."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ronald Reagan - American Hero

I was ten when Ronald Reagan ran for President against Jimmah Carter in 1979. The most vivid memory I have of those times is turning on the news every night to find that some thugs in some podunk, backwater, third-world country were holding American citizens for hostage and we would not do a thing about it. For 444 days Islamo-fascist terrorists held us for ransom in Iran and illustrated the ineptness and futility of a Carter-led America.

When Reagan took over we were back in business.

I always knew I was a Reagan fan, but never really knew exactly why, other than he was a patriot who believed in a strong America and didn't take guff from thugs. What more did I need to know as a teenager anyway?

Well, last fall I happened to pick up a copy of Peggy Noonan's short bio of Reagan entitled: When Character Was King

Reading it, I became more impressed with Reagan the man than I was with Reagan the President. I wanted my sons to be like him. Heck, I wanted to be like him. I wanted his photo on the wall. I wanted his image stamped on my coffee mug. Reagan was DA MAN.

Then I read Paul Kengor's The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism and I was in awe. Do you realize how many millions of people alive and breathing on this planet today owe their lives and liberty to Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the USA? I was astounded.

You will be too, when you read those books and realize the history that was going on right around us as we lived our empty little lives watching Indiana Jones, drinking Pepsi Free and moonwalking to Michael Jackson.

Ronald Reagan, Gipper, the Manic Eclectic salutes you and will confer upon you one of its highest honors this election season--an honor to be revealed at a future date.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Somebody Hit the Manic Button!

I am neither a psychologist nor the son of a psychologist. The only degrees in medicine I have are those triple-digit thermometer readings I've been having every day for the last couple of weeks because of the tonsilitis I've been suffering from. So if you want a real definition of what "manic" is, then see

But let me give you what I think it is and then explain how the inmates have taken over at this asylum. Manic is the opposite of depressed in a clinical sense. An individual suffering from depression finds something to be depressed about in everything. Often there are legitimate things for this individual to be depressed about. But in clinical depression, the individual is perhaps more depressed about these things than he should be, stays depressed about them longer than he should, and, perhaps most importantly, finds things to be depressed about which belie irrational thinking patterns. "You're depressed about what? Why would you think that?"

Mania is the opposite. The person diagnosed with mania is an individual who goes through long periods of upbeat, positive, can-do attitudes. He is happy and exciting to be around. His optimism seems to defy all logic and even the facts of his circumstances. To put them together, the psychiatric disorder now commonly known as bipolar used to be called manic/depressive. It is the condition of fluctuating between these two states, both of which are believed to be caused, at least in part, by chemical imbalance in the nervous system and treatable with medications.

Anyone out there more knowledgeable of these subjects feel free to correct any mistakes in my descriptions.

Now as far as I know I do not suffer from any psychiatric or psychological disabilities. I have friends who do and, trust me, they are some of the most interesting people you will ever meet. But if I could choose to have one disorder and there was nothing I could do to keep from having it, I would choose the "manic" disorder. Doesn't the word "mania" just sound cool?

And here at the asylum this is what has happened. The inmates have taken over. They have spray painted over the P on the Panic button and scratched in an M. Mania reigns!

What was I thinking?

I think a lot. It's not my fault, really. I think I was born this way. Seriously. I've spent hours in contemplation over this and have virtually convinced myself of the concept. I have a genetic predisposition toward delving deeply into any given subject. I want at the bottom of it. I want to know "why." I also like to know what makes others think as they do. What are their thought-processes? How did they get to where they are in their thinking and, more importantly, how can I help them further along in the spiral of learning and acquiring truth?

So that's what this blog is going to be about, basically. What am I thinking? You will find if you follow along for too awful long that my thinking covers a wide range of areas, all of which I will try to cover at one time or another. We may delve into theology a little. We may take a hack or two at pop culture with my machete. We may turn up some ideological nuggets as we hurry past the ugly mine-fields of politics. We may talk a bit about my favorite television programs, cultural and scientific trends, what-have-you. We will probably get silly from time to time, for silly is a big part of my personality.

I may even have some guest bloggers to help me out during slow days. These will be hand-picked, of course, and friends of mine, though they won't necessarily agree with me always. They will be, each of them, as good or better quality as me (which shouldn't be too hard.)

Look for my next post to explain the title to the blog and look for a few other improvements as the week goes along. Then, perhaps, serious blogging will begin poste haste.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Stay Tuned to this Blog!

James Spurgeon will be making his return to blogging in the next few weeks. For those of you who remember his old blogs--the Howling Coyote and Texas Baptist Underground--or his days with the Pyromaniacs, this blog will be . . . hmmmm. Hopefully the writing will be of the same quality and interest, but the subject matter will be a bit different (more eclectic?) And, yes, he is aware that "eclectic" is not a noun.