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Text Box: Vol.5, Issue 27
Text Box: November 26, 2012

I. W. Parkins

Front Page

 Links to Articles and Items of Interest

· George Will on “For This We Give Thanks

· Ann Coulter on “Romney Was Not the Problem”

· Rich Tucker on “Reasons for Conservatives to be Thankful”

· Politics in the Mid-East; “Secretary Clinton-Brokers cease fire

    -L.A. Times on “Back and Forth on Gaza”

    -Paul Gallagher on “Embattled Morsi Calls Out Backers”

· Thomas Sowell on “The Fallacy of Redistribution”

· Breitbart.com– stories which are not seen in “the media”

· The Drudge Report— Current events website by Matt Drudge

· The Heritage Foundation Blog

Text Box:  IN THIS ISSUE– God, Prayer, Taxes and Freedom
As I See “God”
Prayer Issue-A Symbolic One – Reprise
Fearing the Future-Reprise 
Ahead of the Curve-Reprise
Dividing America Progressive Taxation
Who is Great? A reprise from 2008

American Political Commentary

 

Veritas Veneratio Virtus

  AS I SEE “GOD”

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

Several millennia ago, long before telescopes, and a bit longer than that since men walked on the moon and sent scientific probes beyond the solar system, our human ancestors began to notice that, while they retained some animal traits, they also differed from other animals.  They also began to recognize that they had intelligence superior to that of other animals.  Yet they were not responsible for much that occurred about them.  Some things must be due to a superior, but largely benevolent, power that they called “God”.  Actually, there were many different human groups, and only limited communication among some of them.  They attributed different characteristics to their “Gods”. At first it took several millennia, and then only centuries, for the variety of “God” concepts to, mostly, combine as great institutions, with some smaller and diverse satellites. 

 

Humanity was growing at a quickening pace, but what of ‘God”?  Especially, what of the several major churches?  Often they were, and some still are, very competitive with one another.  Furthermore, as men learned more about them selves, and about the vastness of the physical world in which our earth, and even our solar system, are tiny specks, and dwarfed by innumerable others, in a near vacuum that seems to be almost endless, and expanding, can “God” be meaningful?  Must the concept of “God” as creator and guide be less and less a guide for humans. Are we now lost?

 

I think not.  Not at least to the degree that we appreciate, historically, the role of some "God" concepts.  Often they have helped to civilize men. I.W.Parkins 112312

Who Is Great?

By Ivan W. Parkins

Reprise from Feb. 10, 2008    

    I am referring to Christopher Hitchens' book, God is Not Great; I haven't read it and do not expect to. I have read the Bible, all of it plus some Apocrypha and some sacred writings from other religions.  Most of that was in the 1930's, when I was a teenager.  I have not been a religious person by the usual standards.

    During my graduate work, philosophy and political science, plus thirty-four years of teaching, I did acquire some bits of what is usually considered to be culture.  And, the Hitchens book calls to mind one interesting experience that I had on three separate occasions.

    Three colleagues with whom I had more than average personal contact (a fishing companion, a fellow-member of several committees, and a residential neighbor) all in different institutions, and states, made nearly identical remarks to me.  Each volunteered that there is one intellectual discipline that is more profound than any other; it is literary criticism.  Need I add that they all taught modern literature?

    I may have encountered more obvious and aggressive proselytizing, but I can't recall it.  And, I married into a family of Methodist ministers, in rural Georgia - where I soon felt welcome.

    It is now clear that this planet, the species that inhabit it, and the universe surrounding are far more complex than our ancestors had means to envision.  Unfortunately, too many of the special class who study and earn livings by rationalizing the varieties and interrelationships of things, living and dead, are more interested in defining their own personal and class status than in shaping more catholic and mutually satisfying visions of the whole.

Note: Mr. Hitchens has since passed away in December of 2011

Ahead of the Curve,

My History in Institutional Bias

by Ivan W. Parkins

From 1948 to 1955, I was an instructor in the political science department of the University of Akron.  Our department head was also Director of a, two-semester required “Introduction to Social Science”.  It was not popular with students and Professor Sherman, who had done most of the work including the lecturing himself, was tired of it.  He allowed me to take over nearly everything, including selecting text material, lecturing and examining.  One element that I inserted was a week of study on American race relations, it’s history, trends and continuing problems.  That, and some other issues, produced criticism by the Dean.  I responded by citing my sources for the racial portions, but was interrupted.  He was not questioning the material, he said, but such a topic was “too mature’ for young college students.  The course and I were both replaced by the University.

    In the early 1960’s at Jacksonville University, where I had become a tenured professor. I engaged, with the President’s approval, in public discussions and debates of several controversial subjects.  Race was probably the most heated one.  My continuance and pay there, along with those of other faculty, were approved for 1962-3 by a mere majority of the board of trustees.  And, that was after my three administrative superiors bet their jobs on it; also, after I had twice been interviewed by lawyers representing members of the board.  When I learned that all three of the administrators were leaving, I left too.

    For me, being a little “ahead of the curve” on matters of race was not a key to success.

Dividing America, Progressive Taxation

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

    Another of the greatest sources of social division in America, both historically and now, is differences between rich and poor.  Actually, American society is unusual for the now well-documented evidence of large and rapid changes as individuals move from one economic level to another- mainly upward, but also some down.  And most opinion polls do not show massive dissatisfaction with that system.

    Meanwhile, recent national economic studies, both here and abroad, demonstrate that cuts in taxes, especially those on gains from investments made in the economy, usually produce additions to both the total economy and to government revenue.

     It is revealing therefore, that so many of our politicians, especially leading Democrats favor tax increases.  Senator Obama has even commented that, regardless of economic merit, higher taxation of wealth is needed for reasons of justice.  I was once a supporter of such taxation, but for reasons that I believed to be, mainly, economic.  In today’s America, I can only view such a policy as crudely judgmental and divisive.  Coming from a candidate for the Presidency, especially from one claiming to be a unifier,  I regard it as blatantly naļve and/or deceptive.  

The following “Letter to the Editor” appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, Jan. 1997, and is a part of an ongoing illustration of the “Dividing of America” series of articles over the last 40 years-Ed.

Fearing the Future

By Ivan Parkins

             To John Tierney’s  excellent discussion, “Futurephobia”, the Times, Dec. 29, I would add two points of interpretation and one possible conclusion.

             First, intellectuals, especially the more literary types, have experienced in the 20th Century a technological displacement similar to that which the advent of photography

visited upon painters a few decades earlier.  Until quite recently, most of humanity had little contact with the world beyond those communities in which they lived.  With few exceptions, literacy and a literate minority held the keys to knowledge of the larger world.  But, in this century, public education, easy travel and population mobility, plus television and other burgeoning communication technologies, are depriving the literary intelligentsia of much of their once exclusive status-even as they gain wider audiences for their ideas.

             Second, the revolution in communication has encouraged in many people what I call a sophomoric illusion.  When first made aware of a world in which there are numerous unfamiliar hazards, we are all prone to believe that the world is becoming more dangerous.  Further study will usually help us to recognize that it is our vision and not the larger world that has changed most precipitously.  But many of our literary and opinion leaders encourage more passionate reactions rather than more careful inquiries.

             Why is phobia regarding the future so widespread?  Does not a literary-intellectual minority have a selfish interest in promoting fear of the real world, a world in which knowledge is increasingly available, and from a widening variety of sources?

PRAYER ISSUE

A SYMBOLIC ONE

This is a slight abridgement of a column of mine, MORNING SUN, 3/28/84.

By Ivan W. Parkins

             Often in our recent politics liberals have assumed that the founding fathers meant to ban things such as school prayers by the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Not since the publication of Walter Bern’s THE FIRST AMENDMENT AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, 1976, have such assumptions been possible among persons who are both informed and candid.  The “wall of separation” between church and state and the ban upon prayers in public schools were little more than bits of liberal ideology until the Supreme Court of the United States adopted them, after World War II.

             The story of how a few people—mainly upper middle class intellectuals working through such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Jewish Congress—influenced our highest courts has been set forth by Frank Sorauf, in THE WALL OF SEPARATION, 1976.  Professor Sorauf applauded the changes, but his account left little room to doubt that they were recent alterations in the meaning of the Constitution or that they were achieved by an activist minority without approval by the broader public.

             Prior to 1947 the Supreme Court had very little to say regarding separation of church and state, and even in1947 what it did do was tolerate minor and indirect government involvement in religion.  The Supreme Court’s ban on prayers in public schools dates from 1962.

             The school prayer issue is a symbolic one.  It is part of the post-World War II division of this nation over basic values.  Under Chief Justice Earl Warren the Supreme Court adopted many of the revolutionary values of the 1960s.  The subsequent Burger Court softened the trend re Christmas scenes on public property, making some return to continuity with the past.

             The First Amendment begins, “Congress shall make no law…”  That wording was consciously chosen by the First Congress as a means of permitting variations of religious policy among the states, some of which still had state churches.  Only through very broad interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment, added in 1868, did it become possible for federal courts to intervene in such matters as school prayers.  Until after the courts were packed with the products of liberal university law schools and pressured by liberal action groups, i.e. the mid-twentieth century, they rarely did intervene in church matters.

             I am not an advocate of school prayer.  But, I regard as either ignorant or dishonest and anti-democratic the claims of those who assert that the Constitution, the founding fathers, or the American tradition require a banning of all such practices from the public schools.

             Intolerance of religion is incompatible with democracy, as are intolerant religions.  Unfortunately, since World War II, we have experienced some upsurge of both.  It is a part of what has led to our present complex election battle.