Correcting Some Errors in Lippincott’s Culture War Essay

[JM Smith beat me to the punch, but my punch is different.]

At American Greatness, Josiah Lippincott opines that conservatives need to back off from culture war and focus on saving the country via immigration control, tariffs, no foreign wars, and law and order. These are all needed, but they’re not enough.

At a first reading, Lippincott’s thesis seems to be that conservatives must stop fighting the culture war because doing so will cause them to lose elections and therefore be unable to save the nation. A closer reading reveals that he counsels backing away from culture war at the national level, but acknowledges that cultural victories are still possible at the state and local levels.

Problem is, this nuance will be lost on many readers. The impression one gets from the article is that all conservative politicians and the voters who support them need to back off from culture war because they’ll only get crushed. That’s not right.

Also, Lippincott’s main thrust – – judging by how many words he devotes to it – – is that Christianity is too weak to win political fights over cultural issues. If that’s correct, his distinction between what’s possible at the national versus the state and local levels becomes irrelevant.  If Christendom is too weak to win then it’s too weak to win at all levels of government, in which case Lippincott should be counseling us to avoid cultural combat at all levels. And if it’s strong enough sometimes to win then his counsel needs to be more nuanced.

I have copied Lippincott’s text in full below the asterisk, with my comments in italics, preceded by AR. Continue reading

What One Sentence Conveys the Most Information About the Modern World?

In his celebrated Lectures on Physics, Richard Feynman posed a thought experiment. If the record of all scientific knowledge save one sentence were destroyed in a great cataclysm, what single sentence would pass on to our successors the greatest amount of useful scientific information in the fewest words?

Feynman’s answer:  “All things are made of atoms—little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another.”

In a similar spirit I ask, what one sentence conveys the most information in the fewest words about the current situation in America and the West?

This is not an academic exercise. There are millions of ordinary people who do not know what is going on. They need to wake up.


My proposed maximally-informative sentence:

American society has become revolution in the name of leftism, atheism, and egalitarianism but with the apparent actual goal of destruction, and the revolutionaries are punishing Christians, white people, and men. Continue reading

ChatGPT and Intellectual Heat Death

It is speculated that ChatGPT may replace many professions: teacher, journalist, legal assistant, anyone who writes for a living.

ChatGPT scours the Web and internalizes the majority beliefs about everything it encounters. Thus the recent buzz about how ChatGPT declared it would be better to allow a nuke to slay millions than to disarm it by saying out loud the Dreaded N-Word.

It’s possible that ChatGPT is being controlled so that it does not simply internalize the majority view but has a baked-in woke bias. For this article I’m assuming it is as presented.

Since it only “knows” the majority beliefs (or rather, the textual expressions of these beliefs) which exist on the Web, if ChatGPT takes over the bulk of mankind’s production of text then heterodoxy and heresy will be averaged out. Outlying concepts and beliefs will be averaged away from the contents of the Web as ChatGPT ignores outliers and swamps them with its own output. Outlying beliefs will become more and more rare, and regime-compliant beliefs will become increasingly common. Continue reading

Conservatism is (Slowly) Changing: From Protecting the Existing Order to Honoring God and Protecting and Benefiting Our People. Faster, Please!

Protecting the existing order is usually good. But the current Western orders are toxic.

By “order” we mean the orders religious, social, economic, intellectual and political. The comprehensive Order that defines a nation.

In the past, when America’s order was godly and practical, conservatism meant defending godliness and practical wisdom. Godliness was both the proper response to the greatness of God and, in the words of Proverbs 14:34, an exaltation of our nation. Therefore there were two definitions of conservatism: Conserving the existing order, and promoting godliness and practical wisdom

Today many conservatives are confused. Preserving the order we see around us is easy to understand and to support. It is also the natural instinct of mankind. When that order is bad and fundamental change is needed to prevent catastrophe, people become confused. And when the traditional order is overthrown, many philosophies compete, compounding the confusion. And the danger. Continue reading

Analogy Between Presuppositional Apologetics and Mathematical Proof

Christian apologetics is the discipline of giving reasons to believe the Christian message and reasons to reject intellectual attacks on Christianity. Its purpose is to help individuals by defeating intellectual objections so they can hear and accept the Christian message.

Apologetics is a thriving business among Protestants; not as much among the Catholics and Orthodox. Presuppositional apologetics, which is controversial even among Protestants and is largely associated with Calvinism, is based on two insights.

The first is that false presuppositions about the basic nature of reality will block an individual’s ability to accept the Christian message. All the correct evidence and reasoning in the world will do him no good until he corrects his false presuppositions.

This is ultimately not a rational process. Calvinism places a special emphasis on the Bible passages teaching that mankind in its natural state cannot help but reject God until God gives the individual spiritual life which is the ability to accept the Christian message. See, e.g., John 6:44 and Ephesians 2:1—10. But God also works through means, and one means of coming to faith is to hear and accept true evidence.

Many Christians reject presuppositionalism because in their experience it looks like circular reasoning: “You cannot prove God, you can only presuppose Him.” Some Christians may talk this way, but you can prove God. You just have to know the correct way. Ultimate truths are not known using ordinary ways of reasoning. See here for more details.

In any case, it’s clear that everyone has presuppositions, that most people are only dimly aware of exactly what they are, and that false presuppositions cause false beliefs, especially false beliefs about the most fundamental facts of reality. Continue reading

Hypothesis: We are Ruled by Meta-Doctrine

Michael Anton recently hypothesized that we are not ruled by people, but by doctrine. He discusses the claim approximately between timestamps 7:30 and 10:00. Anton: “The real sovereign is the doctrine.”

The claim is plausible. We cannot identify any individual or group as having real authority/power, with the possible and highly limited exception of the Supreme Court. Every other source of power can be blocked by other powers. It has always been the case that people act because of a combination of beliefs and constraints, authority being the ultimate constraint. With almost every extant authority capable of being countermanded (especially on behalf of members of Official Victim Groups) it seems that, by a process of elimination, belief is the ultimate ruler. And doctrine establishes the beliefs of the people, so doctrine seems to rule.

But the claim also seems incorrect. The word “doctrine” implies specificity, but our leftist rulers have doctrine which constantly changes. They are not like, for example, Marxists, who preserve a set of beliefs that have a clear connection to their founder. Also, the left claims not to have doctrine, but only self-evident beliefs that are said to be “our values,” such as Democracy and DIE.


We can resolve the paradox by postulating that the ruler is not doctrine, but meta-doctrine: Not a specific set of beliefs, but a set of impulses/attitudes/hunches that manifest differently from place to place and from time to time.

* Continue reading

Personal Discernment

Bruce Charlton has a post observing the following about traditionalistic Catholics: On the one hand, they exercise “personal discernment” to decide which of the competing Roman Catholic authorities they will follow but on the other hand, they defer to said authority because that’s what Catholics are supposed to do rather than discern personally. Personal discernment seeming to be the opposite of deferal to authority, Bruce thinks he detects a contradiction and a weak point here.

I’m not Catholic, but this phenomenon is not a contradiction if understood correctly. It’s non-contradictory because there is a third element which Bruce failed (explicitly) to acknowledge: reality.  Charlton:

But at some point, in some respect; each individual – here-and-now – is compelled to make a choice that has no ultimate basis but his own personal judgment.

That “…no ultimate basis but his own personal judgment” sounds an awful lot like a purely subjective act.

But if the seat of authority (which I select as my authority by using personal discernment) really has authority, then I am not being contradictory. I am instead using my discernment to discern between rival claims about reality. Once I am satisfied that I understand reality well enough to select the true authority, I make that choice and then submit. Continue reading


Some general thoughts about authority. Not intended to be comprehensive.


Human society cannot function without authority. There must be authorities, and the people must, for the most part, respect the authority that the authorities possess.

As an attribute, “authority” means the right to be believed or obeyed. There are authorities who are rulers, and there are authorities who are experts. Real experts, that is.

The right to be believed comes from demonstrated mastery of some field of knowledge. It is defined by the truth, not the person. The right to be obeyed is less easily defined. It is defined by the society in which the authority and his subordinates is embedded. It is partly subjective, because the people will not respect a ruler who appears deficient. It is partly objective, as the rules of the society generally determine who has the right to rule.

There is currently an obvious crisis of authority. In part because the existing higher-level authorities are proving themselves to be unworthy (the higher the level, the less worthy), and in part because of the spread of philosophies which condemn or undermine authority. These are mutually reinforcing trends

But the existing authorities are not completely unworthy, and the people are not completely mistrustful. Without any authority, human society collapses and humans live like animals. Since society has not collapsed, and humans mostly do not live like animals, some authority remains.

But there is a crisis. The main cause of the crisis is the spread of a “democratic” way of thinking. Because of democracy, rulers cannot simply rule. They have to secure the explicit approval of the voters / customers / clients. To do this, they must devote themselves full-time to manipulating and intimidating the people. The people see this and respond with increased distrust, which amplifies the cycle. Continue reading

Further Study of Bruce Charlton’s Theory of Christian Epistemology

Bruce has more to say about Christian epistemology in his latest post, titled Should Christians hand-over their eternal salvation to… historians? Romantic Christianity at the cutting-edge.

He is wrestling with one of the two foundational issues of the Protestant Reformation: How do we know Christian truth? Who or what is the ultimate authority and source of our knowledge of Christian truth?

This is not just a historic, Reformation-era issue. Because contemporary times are characterized by the catastrophic failure of so many of society’s authorities, many, many people are wrestling with this vital question. Bruce is like the canary in the coal mine.

As in my pervious post on this topic, my comments are left-justified, and Bruce’s words and Scriptural quotations are block-quoted.



At the cutting-edge of experienced-life –

The Church = What (some) Historians Say.

All claims of knowledge reduce to intuition/s; but for traditionalist Christians, the baseline intuition is that The Truth is a matter of history; and history is known through the work of ‘historians’ – broadly conceived.


No, truth is a matter of What Really Happened. But What Really Happened is not available for us to inspect directly. We must rely on secondary sources.

But we do not believe these secondary sources just because they say so. They must make a persuasive case, based on generally accepted modes of reasoning and the common experience of their likely readers.

For example. Christian teachers should point to the written Word of God, the Bible. They must point to the actual words used, along with their conventionally accepted meanings. Sometimes the full meaning cannot be known without additional, specialized knowledge, such as the unique nuances of meaning possessed by the original Greek or Hebrew words, or by the unique cultural customs of ancient times to which the text of Scripture refers or alludes.

But in all cases, the meaning is a matter of publicly-available knowledge (even if highly specialized knowledge.) Continue reading

Examining Bruce Charlton’s Theory of Knowing Christian Truth

I do not know how many people lean toward the Romantic Christianity espoused by Bruce.

[I use his first name because of our long association and my personal concern for him.]

I suspect many people are sympathetic to his approach, which downplays history and formal church and theological organization in favor of a direct / personal apprehension of Christianity. If many are sympathetic to his doctrine, it must be analyzed.

I think that his approach identifies some real problems but provides a mistaken solution. And since I once had something similar to the religious confusion that he says he once had but has transcended, I continue to interact publicly with his doctrine.

Some, of course, will say I am beating a dead horse. Not so. The horse is very much alive to many people. If it is dead to you, read no further.

I have copied below the entirety of Bruce’s post entitled Me-Here-Now versus History – what kind of Christian are you? My comments are left-justified; his post and Scriptural quotes are indented and highlighted as quotes in the WordPress way.



Christians will find themselves – sometimes again and again – at a point where there is a stark awareness and apprehension of Me-Here-Now – a situation of direct and ‘intuitive’ knowing; rooted in a personal and first-hand experience, and a person to person relationship – typically in relationship to Jesus Christ.

This contrasts with traditional church-based knowing; which is rooted in historical discourse and ‘scholarship’ of various types; and is therefore second-hand (or third-/ fourth-/ fifth-hand…).

Church-knowing is indirect knowledge-about… rather than experience-of. It is something we learn and strive to remember… rather than apprehend with instantaneous clarity and conviction.


According to the Bible, a non-Christian starts becoming a Christian when he reads and believes what the Bible – -especially the Gospels – – says about Jesus. The Gospels are a true and accurate written account of what really happened in specific places at specific times.

According to the Bible, when some people learn more and more about Jesus by reading the true accounts about Him, the Holy Spirit begins to work in them, giving them spiritual life. Others do not so respond, evidently because the Holy Spirit chose not to work in them. This gives the new Christian, inter alia, the ability to have true faith (knowledge, agreement, trust) in Jesus. Continue reading