Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Hard Times in Andrew Jackson County - III

A prior post included the transcript of an 1830 speech to Congress by President Andrew Jackson promoting the Indian Removal Act.  Although Congress eventually passed the bill, it was not without opposition.  In particular, the Honorable David (“King of the Wild Frontier”) Crockett spoke against the legislation.

Congressman Crockett had served as a scout for Andrew Jackson during the Creek War of 1813-1814.  Crockett’s own grandparents were murdered on the East Tennessee frontier in 1977.  While the elder Davy Crockett’s sons were away with the Revolutionary army at King's Mountain in 1777, he and his wife, were two of a dozen or so settlers living near present-day Rogersville who were massacred by Creek and Cherokee Indians.

The younger Crockett’s stand against the Indian Removal Act likely contributed to his loss in the next election.  He was the only member of the Tennessee delegation to vote against the Act. 


Mr. CROCKETT said, that, considering his very humble abilities, it might be expected that he should content himself with a silent vote; but, situated as he was, in relation to his colleagues, he felt it to be a duty to himself to explain the motives which governed him in the vote he should give on this bill.

Gentlemen had already discussed the treaty-making power; and had done it much more ably than he could pretend to do. He should not therefore enter on that subject, but would merely make an explanation as to the reasons of his vote. He did not know whether a [congress]man within 500 miles of his residence would give a similar vote; but he knew, at the same time, that he should give that yote with a clear conscience. He had his constituents to settle with, he was aware; and should like to please them as well as other gentlemen; but he had also a settlement to make at the bar of his God; and what his conscience dictated to be just and right he would do, be the consequences what they might.

He believed that the people who had been kind enough to give him their suffrages, supposed him to be an honest man, or they would not have chosen him. If so, they could not but expect that he should act in the way he thought honest and right. He had always viewed the native Indian tribes of this country as a sovereign people. He believed they had been recognised as such from the very foundation of this government, and the United States were bound by treaty to protect them; it was their duty to do so.

And as to giving the money of the American people for the purpose of removing them in the manner proposed, he would not do it. He would do that only for which he could answer to his God. Whether he could answer it before the people was comparatively nothing, though it was a great satisfaction to him to have the approbation of his constituents.

Mr. C. said he had served for seven years in a legislative body. But from the first hour he had entered a legislative hall, he had never known what party was in legislation; and God forbid he ever should. He went for the good of the country, and for that only. What he did as a legislator, he did conscientiously. He should love to go with his colleagues, and with the West and the South generally, if he could; but he never would let party govern him in a question of this great consequence.

He had many objections to the bill some of them of a very serious character. One was, that he did not like to put half a million of money into the hands of the Executive, to be used in a manner which nobody could foresee, and which Congress was not to control. Another objection was, he did not wish to depart from the rule which had been observed towards the Indian nations from the foundation of the government. He considered the present application as the last alternative for these poor remnants of a once powerful people. Their only chance of aid was at the hands of Congress. Should its members turn a deaf ear to their cries, misery must be their fate. That was his candid opinion.

Mr. C. said he was often forcibly reminded of the remark made by the famous Red Jacket, in the rotundo of this building, when he was shown the pannel which represented in sculpture the first landing of the Pilgrims, with an Indian chief presenting to them an ear of corn, in token of friendly welcome.  The aged Indian said “that was good.” The Indian said, he knew that they came from the Great Spirit, and he was willing to share the soil with his brothers from over the great water. But when he turned round to another pannel representing Penn's treaty, he said “Ah! all's gone now.” There was a great deal of truth in this short saying; and the present bill was a strong commentary upon it.

Mr. C. said that four counties of his district bordered on the Chickasaw country. He knew many of their tribe; and nothing should ever induce him to vote to drive them west of the Mississippi. He did not know what sort of a country it was in which they were to be settled. He would willingly appropriate money in order to send proper persons to examine the country. And when this had been done, and a fair and free treaty had been made with the tribes, if they were desirous of removing, he would yote an appropriation of any sum necessary; but till this had been done, he would not vote one cent.

He could not clearly understand the extent of this bill. It seemed to go to the removal of all the Indians, in any State east of the Mississippi river, in which the United States owned any land. Now, there was a considerable number of them still neglected; there was a considerable number of them in Tennessee, and the United States' government owned no land in that State, north and east of the congressional reservation line. No man could be more willing to see them remove than he was, if it could be done in a manner agreeable to themselves; but not otherwise. He knew personally that a part of the tribe of the Cherokees were unwilling to go. When the proposal was made to them, they said, “No: we will take death here at our homes. Let them come and tomahawk us here at home: we are willing to die, but never to remove.” He had heard them use this language.

Many different constructions might be put upon this bill. One of the first things which had set him against the bill, was the letter from the secretary of war to colonel Montgomery-from which it appeared that the Indians had been intruded upon. Orders had been issued to turn them all off except the heads of the Indian families, or such as possessed improvements. Government had taken measures to purchase land from the Indians who had gone to Arkansas. If this bill should pass, the same plan would be carried further; they would send and buy them out, and put white men upon their land. It had never been known that white men and Indians could live together; and in this case, the Indians were to have no privileges allowed them, while the white men were to have all. Now, if this was not oppression with a vengeance, he did not know what was.

It was the language of the bill, and of its friends, that the Indians were not to be driven off against their will. He knew the Indians were unwilling to go: and therefore he could not consent to place them in a situation where they would be obliged to go. He could not stand that. He knew that he stood alone, having, perhaps, none of his colleagues from his state agreeing in sentiment. He could not help that. He knew that he should return to his home glad and light in heart, if he voted against the bill. He felt that it was his wish and purpose to serve his constituents honestly, according to the light of his conscience. The moment he should exchange his conscience for mere party views, he hoped his Maker would no longer suffer him to exist. He spoke the truth in saying so. If he should be the only member of that House who voted against the bill, and the only man in the United States who disapproved it, he would still vote against it; and it would be matter of rejoicing to him till the day he died, that he had given the vote.

He had been told that he should be prostrated; but if so, he would have the consolation of conscience. He would obey that power, and gloried in the deed. He cared not for popularity, unless it could be obtained by upright means. He had seen much to disgust him here; and he did not wish to represent his fellow citizens, unless he could be permitted to act conscientiously.

He had been told that he did not understand English grammar. That was very true. He had never been six months at school in his life: he had raised himself by the labor of his hands. But he did not, on that account, yield up his privilege as the representative of freemen on this floor.  Humble as he was, he meant to exercise his privilege. He had been charged with not representing his constituents. If the fact was so, the error (said Mr. C.) is here, (touching his head) not here (laying his hand upon his heart). He never had possessed wealth or education, but he had ever been animated by an independent spirit; and he trusted to prove it on the present occasion.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Hard Times in Andrew Jackson County - II

 A couple of years ago, one wordsmith took out her frustrations on the seventh president of the United States:

Andrew Jackson is the father of Native American genocide in the Southeast…. He murdered thousands of people whose crime was that they were living in their homes and occupying space….The Trail of Tears is this monster’s legacy. Many innocent people died as a result of the Removal Act. Today’s media is not pointing this out nearly enough. This should not be ignored: There was a Native American holocaust and Jackson was the architect of it. His killed more than 30 percent of the Native population in the Southeast and forcibly removed the majority of the tribes that occupied territory there….

Blah, blah, blah….

Why let historical facts stand in the way of impassioned hyperbole?  Especially when it is so much fun to use “Andrew Jackson” and “genocidal” in the same sentence ad nauseum.

Guenter Lewy has published perhaps more works on the subject of genocide than any other scholar ever has, and in a nuanced commentary he explores the application (or misapplication) of the term “genocide” to America’s dealing with native people.  Sadly, though, nuance is in short supply these days.  Lewy writes:

The story of the encounter between European settlers and America’s native population does not make for pleasant reading. Among early accounts, perhaps the most famous is Helen Hunt Jackson’s A Century of Dishonor (1888), a doleful recitation of forced removals, killings, and callous disregard. Jackson’s book, which clearly captured some essential elements of what happened, also set a pattern of exaggeration and one-sided indictment that has persisted to this day.

The political elements of Indian policy in the 1830s were complicated, not nearly as simplistic as today’s activists would have you believe.  President Jackson did sign into law the Indian Removal Act which had been passed by Congress.  It did set the stage for eventual removal of Cherokees to the West, after Jackson was succeeded by Martin Van Buren.  On April 24, 1830, the Senate passed the Indian Removal Act by a vote of 28 to 19. On May 26, 1830, the House of Representatives passed the Act by a vote of 101 to 97.  On May 28, 1830, the Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson.  The vast majority of votes cast against the Indian Removal Act were by legislators from the New England states.

Think about it.  If Jackson’s primary objective was “genocide” then why would he have condoned the complications of the Indian Removal Act?  Certainly he could have found some provocation for the swift and thorough extermination of native people and avoided prolonged bickering over treaty provisions.  

And had the mechanisms for relocation of native people NOT been set into motion, would they have met an even worse fate?  Possibly?  Probably? We really can’t say. 

Government exercises the power of “removal” in many circumstances.  It is often tragic. And even when compensation is made, it is not enough for some people.  Consider the people displaced for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or for the construction of Fontana Dam.  Consider the people whose businesses are being destroyed to allow for bicycle lanes along Highway 107 in Sylva.

Before passage of the Act, Jackson addressed Congress on Indian removal.  Casting the speech in the worst possible light, one can summon up various words to describe the text.  But which one of these words does NOT belong: “patronizing,” “disingenuous,” “self-serving,” “genocidal”?

It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government‚ steadily pursued for nearly thirty years‚ in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress‚ and it is believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes also to seek the same obvious advantages.

The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States‚ to individual States‚ and to the Indians themselves. The pecuniary advantages which it promises to the Government are the least of its recommendations. It puts an end to all possible danger of collision between the authorities of the General and State Governments on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it will incalculably strengthen the southwestern frontier and render the adjacent States strong enough to repel future invasions without remote aid. It will relieve the whole State of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama of Indian occupancy‚ and enable those States to advance rapidly in population‚ wealth‚ and power. It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay‚ which is lessening their numbers‚ and perhaps cause them gradually‚ under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels‚ to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting‚ civilized‚ and Christian community.

What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic‚ studded with cities‚ towns‚ and prosperous farms embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute‚ occupied by more than 12‚000‚000 happy people‚ and filled with all the blessings of liberty‚ civilization and religion?

The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civilization are rolling to the westward‚ and we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair exchange‚ and‚ at the expense of the United States‚ to send them to land where their existence may be prolonged and perhaps made perpetual.

Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but what do they more than our ancestors did or than our children are now doing? To better their condition in an unknown land our forefathers left all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children by thousands yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes in distant regions. Does Humanity weep at these painful separations from everything‚ animate and inanimate‚ with which the young heart has become entwined? Far from it. It is rather a source of joy that our country affords scope where our young population may range unconstrained in body or in mind‚ developing the power and facilities of man in their highest perfection.

These remove hundreds and almost thousands of miles at their own expense‚ purchase the lands they occupy‚ and support themselves at their new homes from the moment of their arrival. Can it be cruel in this Government when‚ by events which it cannot control‚ the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home to purchase his lands‚ to give him a new and extensive territory‚ to pay the expense of his removal‚ and support him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians were extended to them‚ they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.

And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment to his home than the settled‚ civilized Christian? Is it more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to our brothers and children? Rightly considered‚ the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal‚ but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States and mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative‚ or perhaps utter annihilation‚ the General Government kindly offers him a new home‚ and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Hard Times in Andrew Jackson County - I

These are troubled times, or so we are told.  But if that is true, then how can politicians devote so much energy to the “threats” posed by statues and the “harms” caused by the names applied to places and things?  Is it that all the actual problems of the world have been resolved?  Or is it that the politicians have given up on addressing anything that really matters?

Recent events here in Andrew Jackson County, North Carolina bear this out.  Concerning a statue in front of the old courthouse, county commissioners arrived at a “compromise” that was not a compromise.  And to "fix" the errant statue, they are on the verge of spending tens of thousands of dollars on actions that won’t make anybody happy.

Social justice warriors recognized that the health crisis of 2020 was an opportunity to be seized.  And so they generated ever more divisiveness among people already stressed by governmental edicts.  

Now, the politically correct mob is intent on changing the name of Jackson County to…Jackson County.  Well, that is a burning issue, isn’t it?

Jackson County was named in honor of an old white man, and we can’t have that anymore.  So, the enlightened ones insist that the county should be named after a former Cherokee chief, Walter Jackson. 

What better way to follow-up a compromise that wasn't a compromise than a renaming that isn't a renaming?

I began to wonder what qualified Chief Jackson for such an honor, other than a convenient surname.  So, I googled him and discovered that he achieved notoriety in the pages of the New York Times on January 27, 1970:

CHEROKEE N. C. Jan. 26 —The tribal council of the Eastern band of Cherokee Indians has asked the Cherokee chief to resign as leader of the 6,500‐member tribe and he has steadfastly refused.

Johnson Catolster, chairman of the Cherokee Council. said 10 of the 12 members of the council had signed a resolution requesting the chief, 47‐year‐ old Walter Jackson, to relinquish his position immediately.

The Right Stuff?  Or Just the Right Name?

Mr. Catolster said Chief Jackson had neglected his official duties and made unauthorized, out‐of‐state trips at the expense of the tribe. He said Mr. Jackson also had not accounted satisfactorily for funds spent in connection with Cherokee business.

Mr. Catolster said in an interview, “The chief has neglected his duties as an officer of the tribe. We could never catch him in the office to answer for the few things we wanted answered. There were irregularities within the administration — how he conducts the tribe's business.”

Mr. Jackson declared in a subsequent interview that he had “no idea at all” why the tribal council had asked him to resign. He said the charges against him were false and he had no intention of resigning.

Mr. Jackson was elected two years ago to serve a four‐year term as chief. His duties correspond generally to those of a mayor and business manager in a municipal form of government. Mr. Jackson was a member of the tribal council for 12 years prior to his election as chief.

Mr. Jackson also holds responsibility for the operations of the Cherokee Indian reservation, which sprawls across 56,500 acres in Swain, Jackson, Cherokee and Graham Counties in the Great Smoky Mountains. An estimated 4,500 of the 6,500 Cherokees listed on the tribe's official rolls live on the reservation here. Most of the remaining Cherokee Indians in the United States reside in Oklahoma.

Each of the six townships of the reservation elects two members to serve two ‐ year terms on the tribal council, but the chief is elected by voters in all townships. Mr. Catolster said newly elected members of the tribal council who recently took office might be partially responsible for the attempt to oust Chief Jackson.

Mr. Catolster said the council would investigate Mr. Jackson's activities as chief of the Cherokees and determine at council meeting next month whether to press for his resignation. If Mr. Jackson subsequently refuses to relinquish his post, Mr. Catolster said, the council may vote to cut off his $6,600 annual salary.

Mr. Catolster said, “The chief has made some statements contrary to the best judgment of the tribe. There were some questions about un authorized travel. Chief Jackson flew to Atlanta for the funeral of a tribesman and a lot of people felt like a telephone call would have been enough.”

Chief Jackson has also made a trip to Jacksonville, Fla., Mr. Catolster said. “I wouldn't know why. We're just interested in how he carries out his business,” he said.

Mr. Catolster said, “We're going to study this further. It's up to the voting members of the council. As of now, everything is at a standstill. The chief is still in office.”

OK, so there you have it from the newspaper of record. Be honest with me. Would we be naming our county in his honor if his name had been “Walter SMITH”?  

But if we're stuck on (the blatant exploitation of somebody named) Jackson, isn’t it premature to rename the county without considering a host of other worthy candidates, including, but not limited to:

Michael Jackson

Shoeless Joe Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson

Stonewall Jackson (the country singer)

Janet Jackson

Bo Jackson 

Jackson Pollock

Mahalia Jackson 

Maynard Jackson 

Jackson Browne 

Jermaine Jackson 

Kate Jackson

Jesse Jackson

Reggie Jackson

Stonewall Jackson (the general)

Peter Jackson

Scoop Jackson

La Toya Jackson

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

A Monumental Botanist

The French botanist Andre Michaux spent more time in the Carolinas his better known contemporary, William Bartram.  Had Michaux been as scintillating and prolific a writer as Bartram, maybe he would be better known today. Michaux's life, from beginning to end, was a colorful adventure and it is a shame that nobody has turned it into a movie.  

-Carolina Lily, Lilium Michauxii, Walter Hood Fitch (1817 - 1892) 

Whereas, North Carolina is blessed with an abundance of wildflowers from the mountains to the coast; and 

Whereas, the Carolina Lily is a scarce and beautiful flower that is found throughout North Carolina in upland pine-oak woods and pocosins; and 

Whereas, the Carolina Lily (Lilium michauxii) is one of many plants named for the distinguished French botanist Andre Michaux who traveled widely in the southeastern United States; and 

Whereas, Andre Michaux (1747-1802), a genuine hero of science and exploration, referred to the North Carolina mountains as "the great botanical laboratory and paradise of North America"; and 

Whereas, the Carolina Lily, sometimes referred to as Michaux's Lily, bears up to six reddish-yellow, spotted flowers with petals that bend backwards; and 

Whereas, each nodding flower grows to about three inches in diameter; and 

Whereas, this magnificent flower bears the name of our great State; and 

Whereas, the State of North Carolina does not have an official wildflower; Now, therefore, 

The Carolina Lily (Lilium michauxii) is adopted as the official wildflower of the State of North Carolina. 

 And so it was that the General Assembly made Michaux’s Lily the state wildflower in 2003. 


Upon a quick look, you might confuse it with the Turk’s Cap Lily (Lilium superbum). As easy as it is to mistake one for the other, though, it is just as easy to tell them apart. The Carolina Lily tends to be smaller, while the Turk’s Cap is distinguished by a green star in the middle of the flower.  And while politically correct botanists will call you a "racist" for referring to L. superbum as a "Turk's Cap" Lily (as I found out the hard way), I suppose you are safe (for now) if you apply "Michaux's" Lily to L. michauxii.

To commemorate his life and travels, the state also maintains six highway historical markers devoted to Andre Michaux.  

N20 NC 226 in Bakersville, Mitchell Co.


N21 NC 181 (Green Street) at NC 126 in Morganton, Burke Co.


N22 US 221 northeast of Linville at Grandfather Mountain, Avery Co.


O28 West Main Street in Lincolnton, Lincoln Co.


P21 US 70 (State Street) in Black Mountain, Buncombe Co.

Q17 Main Street, Highlands, Macon Co.

Enjoy them while you can.  It won't be long before vigilant Social Justice Warriors will determine that Monsieur Michaux said or did something objectionable, and any tributes to the man will be terminated.
For all stories on Andre Michaux

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Counterculture - Then and Now

 When the late Walker Percy was asked what concerned him most about America’s future, he answered: “Probably the fear of seeing America, with all its great strength and beauty and freedom…gradually subside into decay through default and be defeated, not by the Communist movement, demonstrably a bankrupt system, but from within by weariness, boredom, cynicism, greed and in the end helplessness before its great problems.”

“The West…has been undergoing an erosion and obscuring of high moral and ethical ideals. The spiritual axis of life has grown dim.” - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“The fact that, compared to the inhabitants of Africa and Russia, we still live well cannot ease the pain of feeling we no longer live nobly.” – John Updike


I grew up in a small Carolina town that I’ll call “Mayberry.”  (And, no, it wasn’t Mount Airy.)  Even as a young kid, I was not oblivious to the flaws of that town: the snobbishness and hypocrisies were hard to avoid.  That I now recall the town and its people so fondly is not entirely the result of a nostalgia that blinds me to Mayberry’s deficits.  No, the town shines brightly by comparison with the dark decay of American culture ca. 2020.

Coming from an unhappy home and possessing a restless sense of curiosity, I was an easy target for the “Counterculture Movement” that metastasized throughout the country starting in the late 1960s.  Growing out my hair until it was down past my shoulders was sure to trigger disapproval and insults from Mayberry’s residents, and only accelerated my tendency toward alienation.  Like all the other emotional gestures that were the hallmarks of Leftism, it was utterly meaningless and accomplished nothing of value…notwithstanding all the rock songs celebrating long hair.   And unless people grow tired of utterly meaningless emotional gestures, it seems they remain on the Leftist bandwagon.  It took me way too long, but I finally red-pilled after I could no longer sustain the willing suspension of common sense.

Having overcome my prolonged youthful rebellion, I’m thankful that I was around when American culture was, arguably, at its peak.   And I am grieved to see how far it has fallen.  Back in 1970, Christianity was integral to the community.  To picture our town without its churches would have been unimaginable.  How different it is in 2020, when politicians and petty bureaucrats gleefully seize the opportunity to shut down as many churches as they can.

Nevertheless, a strong case can be made that the best place for the Church is somewhere other than the mainstream.  Back in Mayberry, it was easy to take our faith for granted, to practice a lukewarm and superficial form of Christianity.  As the quip goes, "He was charged with being a Christian, but at the trial there was not enough evidence to convict."

Way back when, the early church survived centuries of persecution by the civil authorities.  It was in 313 A.D. that the emperor Constantine I issued the Edict of Milan to establish religious toleration for Christianity within the Roman Empire.  But did this set the stage for the Church to be co-opted by the State?  After 1700 years, those two institutions have seldom, if ever, achieved a healthy equilibrium. 

Today, in many parts of the world, to be a Christian is to risk martyrdom.  And even though America’s Christians face relatively minor threats in 2020, things could change, and change rapidly.  With good cause, contemporary believers could think of themselves as “countercultural.”  It is time for believers to be conscious of their response to hostilities against Christianity.  If we cannot bear the offhand insults appropriately, then what is the hope for our bearing the harsher persecutions that might be in our future?

Stephen Mattson has given much thought to the place of Christianity in an increasingly secular culture.  The title of his 2018 book is “The Great Reckoning: Surviving a Christianity That Looks Nothing Like Christ.”  Back in 2016, Mattson discussed “five Christian virtues that continue to be radically countercultural.”


“If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25 ).

In a world obsessed with real-time data, fast-developing news stories, viral momentum and constant movement, it’s become increasingly hard to wait—simply to be still.  Being patient is a countercultural act of trusting in God and accepting the fact that some things are beyond our control…


“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 ).

We live in a noisy culture that rewards those who are the loudest, most flamboyant and noticeable. Rants, arguments, yelling and splashy disruptiveness are the new norm.  Even the Christian message has been co-opted by arguing factions fighting to become the most powerful, influential and visible, but through this process they prove themselves to be an ordinary and mediocre variation of the world around them….

Being gentle and quiet within a frenzied civilization that’s quick to judge, accuse, worry and destroy allows us to center ourselves upon God. Meekness proves itself by working and serving without seeking personal recognition while simultaneously glorifying God—a profoundly extraordinary act of worship.


“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11 ).

Technology and social media have enabled us to present a gilded mirage of ourselves, consisting of edited photos, perfect quotes, fun experiences and opinionated posts….

Humility remains a remarkable trait within a celebrity culture that reveres fame and continually stresses the value of exalting our own ego.


“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13 ).

After relationships have failed us, communities have hurt us, institutions have betrayed us, organizations have manipulated us, governments have disappointed us and religions have damaged us, it’s hard not to be cynical and pessimistic about pretty much everything.

But for those who have an attitude of hope inspired by Jesus, there’s a sense of meaning, purpose and optimism toward life. This hope, despite the chaos of an ever-changing world around us, anchors us to Christ—allowing us to navigate through life even though it’s filled with uncertainty.


“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith doesn’t mean there’s an absence of doubt, mystery, or complexity, but it allows you to have confidence in something—a relationship with someone. To invest your trust and hope in any one thing is notable enough, but to have faith in an unseen, unquantifiable, supernatural God is one of the most countercultural acts imaginable.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Walter E. Williams - March 31, 1936 – December 2, 2020

The wise words of Walter E. Williams have appeared on this blog before.  

The American economist passed away yesterday.  Back in 2016, the Acton Institute celebrated Williams’ 80th birthday by featuring these quotes:

At the beginning of each semester, I tell students that my economic theory course will deal with positive, non-normative economic theory. I also tell them that if they hear me making a normative statement without first saying, “In my opinion,” they are to raise their hands and say, “Professor Williams, we didn’t take this class to be indoctrinated with your personal opinions passed off as economic theory; that’s academic dishonesty.” I also tell them that as soon as they hear me say, “In my opinion,” they can stop taking notes because my opinion is irrelevant to the subject of the class — economic theory. Another part of this particular lecture to my students is that by no means do I suggest that they purge their vocabulary of normative or subjective statements. Such statements are useful tools for tricking people into doing what you want them to do. You tell your father that you need a cell phone and he should buy you one. There’s no evidence whatsoever that you need a cell phone. After all, George Washington managed to lead our nation to defeat Great Britain, the mightiest nation on Earth at the time, without owning a cell phone.

Democracy and liberty are not the same. Democracy is little more than mob rule, while liberty refers to the sovereignty of the individual.

How does something immoral, when done privately, become moral when it is done collectively? Furthermore, does legality establish morality? Slavery was legal; apartheid is legal; Stalinist, Nazi, and Maoist purges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality does not justify these crimes. Legality, alone, cannot be the talisman of moral people.

Market capitalism is the best thing that ever happened to the common man. The rich have always had access to entertainment, often in the comfort of their palaces and mansions. The rich have never had to experience the drudgery of having to beat out carpets, iron their clothing or slave over a hot stove all day in order to have a decent dinner. They could afford to hire people. Capitalism’s mass production and marketing have made radios and televisions, vacuum cleaners, wash-and-wear clothing and microwave ovens available and well within the means of the common man; thus, sparing him of the boredom and drudgery of the past. Today, the common man has the power to enjoy much (and more) of what only the rich could afford yesteryear.

Prior to capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving your fellow man.

The rise of capitalism brought greater morality into our relationships. There is the biblical passage, “It is as difficult for a rich man to get into Heaven as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” That biblical phrase was quite appropriate for the time because wealth was most often acquired through capturing, plundering and looting your fellow man. But, with the rise of capitalism, people like Bill Gates are rich because they have served their fellow man. Gates has made his fellow man very happy by building Microsoft computers and software. Fred Smith with Federal Express serves his fellow man, too. The morality of the free market should be stressed because it is far superior to any other method of allocating resources.

We are becoming a nation of thieves by trying to live at everyone else’s expense. We have lost our moral mooring and the Church is partially responsible by failing to uphold its beliefs. One of the 10 Commandments says, “Thou shall not steal.” Now I am fairly confident that God did not mean, “Thou shall not steal–unless you get a majority vote.”

We’re all grossly ignorant about most things that we use and encounter in our daily lives, but each of us is knowledgeable about tiny, relatively inconsequential things. For example, a baker might be the best baker in town, but he’s grossly ignorant about virtually all the inputs that allow him to be the best baker. What is he likely to know about what goes into the processing of the natural gas that fuels his oven? For that matter, what does he know about oven manufacture? Then, there are all the ingredients he uses — flour, sugar, yeast, vanilla and milk. Is he likely to know how to grow wheat and sugar and how to protect the crop from diseases and pests? What is he likely to know about vanilla extraction and yeast production? Just as important is the question of how all the people who produce and deliver all these items know what he needs and when he needs them. There are literally millions of people cooperating with one another to ensure that the baker has all the necessary inputs. It’s the miracle of the market and prices that gets the job done so efficiently. What’s called the market is simply a collection of millions upon millions of independent decision makers not only in America but around the world. Who or what coordinates the activities all of these people? Rest assuredly it’s not a bakery czar.

What human motivation is responsible for getting the most wonderful things done? I would say greed. When I use the term greed, I do not mean cheating, stealing, fraud and other acts of dishonesty, I mean people seeking to get the most for themselves. One might be tempted to use “enlightened self interest” but I like greed better. Unfortunately, many people are naive enough to believe that it is compassion, concern, and “feeling another’s pain” that’s the superior human motivation. As such we fall easy prey to charlatans, quacks and hustlers.

What our nation needs is a separation of “business and state” as it has a separation of “church and state.” That would mean crony capitalism and crony socialism could not survive.