George Washington’s Vision at Valley Forge

Part 1 – Great Nations: History’s mistake – China’s implosion into socialism

Guangzhou Guide | Beijing Visitor - China Travel Guide
Guangzhou, China

[ See related posts on Great Nations: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3]

My father told me horror stories about communism.  He left China after it imploded on itself (e.g., the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward).  He will never forget, and perhaps never forgive what the Communists did to destroy China and the Chinese people.  From 1949 to 1978, China was trapped in poverty.  People starved to death.  The People’s Revolution was a disaster.

Here in the west, we must never forget the horrors of socialism.  We must never allow socialism to creep into our social consciousness as a viable alternative.  It cannot ever become an alternative.  If implemented, the ideas of Bernie Sanders, the Green New Deal, etc., would be horrifying for any free nation.  It would set the nation on a course going backwards.

History is a good teacher.  Back in 1949, the Chinese people had bought into the lie that socialism/communism was going to be good for them. China wasn’t doing so well due to economic colonialism.  The tea trade, opium, and slave trade happening around the world had sunk China into a deeper state of social confusion.  It needed a way out and the Chinese thought that perhaps Communism could offer a way out of their state.

Maoist Communists got into power.  Their authoritarian regime inflicted huge economic, social, political and structural damage upon China.  It got worse.  It had set itself back for many generations and is still far behind what it could have been if China had not taken the route of socialism.  It has taken decades and generations to fix the big mess it created for itself.  It is still in recovery mode today.

TIME Magazine Cover: Teng Hsiao-p'ing, Man of the year -- Jan. 1, 1979Since 1978, Deng Xiaoping’s reforms enabled a collosal reversal away from its old-style communism.  During the last four decades, China has undergone a huge economic reform due to Deng Xiaoping.  It’s market system has enabled 800 million people to climb out of poverty creating the largest middle class in the world.

It’s truly an economic miracle that is happening today. However, this ought to be received as a testament that socialism does not work. Do not misunderstand this as a credit due to socialism.   China’s economic miracle happened because of free-market enterprise within the special economic zones (though couched within a centralized governing structure).  Insiders have already rejected old style socialism while remaining loyal to The Party.

An extraordinary social reform has also taken place.  Though still imperfect today, society is much freer today than when under Mao’s Communist rule.  There are far fewer travel restrictions.  Millions of Chinese have received education from abroad, and there will be millions more in the future.   In 2018, 134 million Chinese tourists traveled overseas.

Today, there are also a technological and infrastructural reforms. China is becoming a technological giant.  It is becoming a leader in robotics, artificial intelligence, and a giant in green solar energy.  Today, there are already more billionaires in China than in the U.S.

China is reforming the country incrementally from the inside.  Gradual change is safer and more secure than a sudden change.  Another revolution into free-market capitalism might cause a break-up of the country into smaller regions.

Akin to its Confucius history, Chinese people are respectful of their own political history and father of reform, Deng Xiaoping.  They will not jeopardize their gains by making too much of a sudden shift. A gradual shift will eventually happen (but we just won’t tell them).

Again, the reason for this post?  The proposed Green New Deal.  I know we’re not looking at old-style communism. But we must reject this entire philosophy as a whole.  Socialism in any form does not work.  Capitalism is proven to work.

When we look at what is happening in today’s modern China, we must be factor in that China had huge setbacks due to socialism.  If it were not for communism, China could be where South Korea is today. East Asians are smart, industrious, and have a drive to succeed in every way.  They will succeed socially, economically, politically, and hopefully, spiritually.

As a Christian, I pray for spiritual prosperity to lead the nation into true success.  Without a deep and guiding spirituality, China will eventually lose steam and sink into apathy and indifference.  This has already happened in many western nations in Europe and sections of American culture.

China has recognized the mistake it made in 1949.  Today’s nation states ought to remember the mistakes made throughout history.  What Russia could have been is another story in itself.  And what are still today’s Cuba and North Korea are utter disasters.

China: Surviving the Camps | by Zha Jianying | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

As in the Soviet Union, under Chairman Mao, the educated Chinese were either forcibly removed from their homes and confined to labor camps, jailed or killed.  All property owners had their property confiscated.  Anyone with property and money had their property seized.  The fortunate ones fled early to other parts of Asia like Singapore.

Anyone with skills, talent and gifts were considered to be the elite bourgois, and therefore, seen as suspect.  If they refused to join and pledge loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party, they were either jailed, beaten or killed, or all three.

As a result, millions of people starved to death because of this stubborn socialistic ideology.  Millions of people were stuck indefinitely in poverty.  By the time they discovered Communion/Socialism was not the solution, it was too late.  They were now subjected under the new political ruling class.  The Communist Party used fear and intimidation to control the masses–even entire families and churches.  As a result, the church went underground.

Note, even today, the regime is still demolishing large evangelical churches that refuse to conform to Party ideologies because they believe in God as their supreme leader rather than the State (NY Times article and UK Express article).

80000000_Chinese_Communists_who_inhabit_thousands_of_square_miles_of_Northern_China_and_are_ruled_in_spite_of_the..._-_NARA_-_196234

There was no escape because no one was left with money to start businesses. There was no one left with education and capital to invent new things or be creative with their talents.

Marxist ideologies of making everyone the same and economically equal was wrong-headed.  Socialism failed the millions of people they wanted to help escape poverty.   Their own poverty became more entrenched.  Adults suffered.  Children suffered.  The poor became poorer.

The only rich people were the Communist officials who accepted bribes. The result was far worse.  China imploded into itself.  No one had the courage to complain against the Communist Party.  The Party became god.  The Party rewarded those who reported on family members, friends, and neighbors who were sympathetic to the bourgeois.  The Communist state encouraged Party members to betray their own family and friends.  Very sad.

In the early days of Communism, they controlled the government-run media to feed the people Party propaganda. North Korea is using a similar propaganda media machine today.  (Today, CNN and CNBC are also leftist propaganda media-machines in America, minus the centralized government-control).  They do not critique their own socialistic policies. They just play the game and report what they are told.  News agencies are authentically fake news.  There is nothing more fake than the authoritarian socialistic propaganda machines.

Maoist China and today’s North Korea know how to put on a charade.  Men, women and children are told to put on happy faces, clean up the streets and add a new coat of paint.  Make everything look new and happy, while deep inside, the pain of socialism continues to hurt.  It’s like a make-believe Disneyworld, but socialist-style.  The people of Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea know it’s all a lie.  They want to change but live in fear of the Communist state.

Liberals, leftists, and socialists have not helped anyone except themselves. Look at Venezuela and what they’ve done to their own country today. It has self-imploded, following in the footsteps of other socialist countries.  It hasn’t learned from history’s mistakes. The people propelled crooked leaders into power who benefit from their own corrupt system of government.

It amazes me that an entire nation can become stuck in its own endless cycle of corruption without an access of escape.  Thank God we have representative democracies, or a democratic republic in the U.S.   We can freely elect new representatives into government to replace undesirable representatives.  It’s a dynamic system of government.  Socialistic authoritarian countries do not hold free elections.  Fellow ideologues are appointed into power.  This has begun to happen in the once free city-state of Hong Kong, thus, the yellow umbrella movement in 2014.

Does anything good ever come out of pure Communism and socialism?  Name one country where it has.

I would not label today’s China as a pure Communist system (even though they are in name).  They do not have old-age pensions or socialized medicare.  Seniors and the poor actually have to fend for themselves, or they need to be taken care of by their children.

In actual practice, Maoist and Stalinist Communism had dug a deep pit for the people.  The rich become poor; and the poor have no chance of becoming rich.  There is no middle class.  There is only a large mass of impoverished people.  For those who wait for the dream, there will only be darkness at the end of the tunnel.  Once they use up people’s money and intellectual capital, there will be nothing left to share.  There is no incentive to create wealth merely to be taken away.  Everyone will remain poor.

This is the same fate awaiting for people fighting for the Green New Deal and other socialistic-type parties.  Industries will grow weaker and eventually collapse into themselves due to their lack of social and economic liberties.

Socialism’s goals and ideals may appear attractive on the outside.  It spouts false propaganda giving false hope to the poor, the less-educated, and the disadvantaged.  We must educate ourselves by learning about history.  Some of our contemporary politicians today, e.g., Barack Obama, Pierre Trudeau (father of Justin Trudeau), and Bernie Sanders were educated by leftist ideologues at leftist institutions.  They are idealogues with ideas that do not actually work.

They did not see the full scope of history along with their mistakes. They were also misguided by the charade of socialism, and by the omission of Communist errors.  Have you ever heard them talk about the tragic errors of historic Communism?  No!  It does not register on their level of consciousness.  You will only hear and learn about these historic mistakes by reading and learning from free-market sources.

With every generation, socialism will try to rear its ugly head.  They might tack on a fresh and hip label: “Democratic…” or “People’s…”  It’s really just mascara and lipstick to make it look attractive to the younger generations.  These labels are a facade for something sinister hidden within.   Each generation must be forewarned of the potential dangers lurking.  May our generation today not make the same mistakes that were made in history.  Reject any and all forms of socialism.

The majority of Americans have rejected the socialist ideas of Bernie Sanders.  I hope Americans will also reject this new Green New Deal and the leftist ideology of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey.

Socialism will never stop trying to reinvent itself.  It will don a new disguise, try out a new look, and call itself something fresh and exciting.  Believe me, there is nothing new under the sun.  Don’t be fooled.  The mascara, the blush, and lipstick will never cover up its hideousness on the inside.  On the exterior, it might sound and look appealing, but on the inside, it’s all the same.  It will utterly fail the people and set nations back for decades and generations.

America, please do not fall for socialism.  Doing so would be at America’s peril.  Same goes for Europe, Canada and other countries who might find these ideas appealing.  Their policies would set nations back, as socialism did to China.

America must stand, if even alone, to be that light in the darkness.  Free-market capitalism balanced with people’s love and compassion for their fellow human will always win.

Fragrance: a good gift not only for Christmas

Wisemen from the East gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

At Christmas, we think of gift-giving. As a baby, Jesus received fragrant gifts of frankincense and myrrh. These were aromatic resins used for personal, religious and medicinal purposes and for burial.

Near the end of Jesus’ life, he would receive one final and generous gift from a faithful woman.  She would be remembered as giving a generous legacy-gift. It would become a sweet-smelling fragrance that would accompany him to his burial.  In Mark 16, this woman came to Jesus with a jar of perfume to anoint Jesus from head to toe.  Some well-meaning folks around Jesus were concerned that this expensive perfume could have been sold and the money be given to the poor. Jesus’ response them was:

“She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her. (Mark 14:6-9, NIV)

a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

What a gutsy thing to say to those who are concerned about the poor!  A couple things here that Jesus knew early on: 1/ The good news would be preached around the world; and 2/  That her generosity would be recorded and be re-told as a legacy.

One, Jesus had already known that the religious leaders were after him and wanted to kill him. He had already made this known to them by clearly drawing an analogy about his perceived death warrant in his telling of the parable of the tenants (i.e., the murder of the vineyard owner’s son).  Jesus would have assumed his pending death would be like a seed being planted, and later, sprout into good news being spread around the world.

Two, Jesus would have expected his death be recorded on paper and/or spread via word-of-mouth. How else would this woman’s generous gift be re-told to future generations?  As the Son of God and the Human One, Jesus is omniscient (all-knowing) as God is all-knowing. He would have known his future would result in a grander legacy than merely a post-generational myth. His own futuristic vision lays a groundwork for a new faith that would reach far beyond a reformed-type ofJudaism.

Faith in Jesus would bring about a radical and worldwide transformation.  Today, Christianity has a worldwide following that is fairly evenly spread throughout all continents. It is not an ethno-centric religion like Buddhism in East Asia, Hinduism in India, or Islam in the Middle East.   Billions of dedicated adherents of every race, ethnicity, culture, and hemisphere, are following Jesus.  Many thousands more each day are coming to trust in the Lord.

Upon the Advent or Coming of Jesus Christ, we will be celebrating a grand birthday around the entire globe including Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe (now being the minority).  We have hope in the Expected and Anointed One.

Remembrance Day – We will not forget

November 11th is Remembrance Day in Canada (also Veterans Day in the USA), which is also like Memorial Day in the USA.  We honor the brave Canadian military personnel who died for our freedoms.  We should not and will not forget the sacrifices our soldiers, sailors and airmen and airwomen have made to protect our freedoms.

I love what the late Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker said about the freedoms our armed forces fought to defend.

“I am a Canadian.  Free to speak without fear.  Free to worship in my own way.  Free to stand for what I think is right.  Free to oppose what is wrong.  Free to choose those who govern my country.  This heritage of freedom  pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.”

This Remembrance Day in Canada, let us remember and recognize those who made this sacrifice for our freedoms and democracy that we share in common.  God bless.

 

The Emperors’ treasures

National Palace Museum (Taipei, Taiwan)

In Chinese culture, the finest art was present and used in emperors’ palaces. Some art were used to depict gods and deities for thousands of years, from dynasty to dynasty.  I never knew how much I would enjoy Chinese art until I went to several museums in Taiwan like the National Palace Museum (NPM) in Taipei City (and a smaller local museum here in Changhua City).  I saw some of the national treasures in the NPM that were moved by Chang Kai-Shek when he relocated the democratic national government and officials to Taiwan. There is so much art and culture here in this small island nation that my short experience here has increased my appreciation for my Chinese heritage.

Most fascinating to me was an ivory puzzle ball.  Inside are over 20 individual layers that revolve. The amazing fact is that it was carved from a single piece of ivory with j-shaped knife.

I had the benefit of having a few English-speaking tour guides at the museums.  They have been gracious in sharing their background knowledge of many pieces of artwork, and why they are appreciated by connaisseurs and collectors of art.  The information they shared was what made my trip to the museum interesting.  This has whet my appetite to see more Chinese art. Some can date back to even before Old Testament times (5000 BCE).

Religion in Taiwan

While visiting my spouse’s hometown in Changhua, Taiwan, I visited Bagua Mountain (actually a hill) where there is a huge statue of Buddha.  I climbed up its inner staircases within its inner sanctum where there are displays on each floor explaining the history of Buddhism in Taiwan. I found this to be a good learning experience as I was not raised in a Buddhist-Confucian culture.

Christianity had missed an early opportunity to evangelize China.  Buddhism was only introduced to China in the 3rd century BC but did not flourish until later even into the 3rd to 6th century AD.  There were a some early 5th c. evangelists in East Asia but they did not make any in-roads to evangelize China.

Taiwan’s major religion today is Buddhism.  Having 35% of its population as adherents, there are countless temples in Taiwan–as many as there are churches in the U.S. bible-belt. I’m not sure of the percentage of Christianity in Taiwan but my guess-timate according to various sources is anywhere between 5-10% of the population. Evangelism through the Presbyterian Church came in earlier and established many institutions like hospitals and schools. The local hospital in this city is Changhua Presbyterian (Christian) Hospital.  The local people greatly appreciate this major institution because it has benefited so many people.

Taiwan (R.O.C.) is a free nation and has freedom of religion, speech, assembly, elections, etc., but it is forced to play the political game of who has sovereign authority over the country.  Pray for political stability of Taiwan. The threat and intimidation tactics from mainland China (P.R.C.) is similar to that of North Korea vs South Korea.

 

Martin Luther’s Law and Gospel

Christianity Today’s, January/February 2017 edition, features Martin Luther, the 16th c. theologian/pastor who changed the church and the secular world 500 years ago by introducing a theological understanding that brought spiritual freedom through Law and Gospel. It’s a good article to read.  It’s one of my great life-altering theologies.

Poll: Authority of the Bible vs. the Church’s Teachings

Here’s a poll for you.  Have we gone too far in rejecting the authority in the church, or not far enough?  Find out where your church or congregation stands on authority–on the bible alone, or also on the teachings and traditions of the church?


It seems like the majority in the evangelical church today tend to understand the authority of the bible vs church tradition in this way:

Accepting the infallibility & inerrancy of the bible which is the only authority (to the exclusion of the authority of the church’s teachings)

while

Rejecting the authority of the church’s teachings/traditions based on the bible (but not to the exclusion of the bible as the only infallible authority)

Yes, seems like a small difference in wording but implications can be huge.  It comes down to this: Where upon which does the onus for infallibility lay?  1) Upon our individual congregation’s interpretation of the bible, or 2) Upon the Church’s historic, catholic, and apostolic interpretation of the bible?

What are the implications?  Many evangelicals are never taught anything about the historical meaning of the Church’s early traditions and confessions. As a result, have we evangelicals become individualistic and have a type of privatized inner spirituality where we see our faith as a kind of “me, God and my bible”?  I know it’s a tough question to answer because we need to dig really deep to examine our inner spirituality.

Historical background: The Reformation in the early 1500s carried a strong conviction lrose_stainedglass300that the Scriptures alone was the word of God.  Luther did not trust in the pope or councils alone because, in the past, they had spoken in error and contradicted themselves.  Therefore, reformers like Luther and Calvin rejected the pope’s official words as being the very words of God Himself, thus the phrase: “sola scriptura” and “word alone”.

America – the movie

I just watched a great eye-opening documentary called America: Imagine the World Without Her (2014).  It’s a story that questions the shaming of the United States through revisionist history, lies and omissions by educational institutions, political organizations, Alinsky, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other progressives that may be unwittingly undermining America.

For those who have been educated by the left-leaning educators in our public school systems and universities, this lesser-told story would add an interesting perspective and facts that would shed new light and add balance. If you feel like a liberal but don’t know why, watch this movie. If you’re a conservative, this doesn’t paint a perfect and glorious picture of America either.  Seems balanced. A good watch.  Thanks, Dinesh D’Souza.

First use of “wall of separation” between Church and State

Roger-Williams-Edward-Coke-2
Depiction of Roger Williams while he was still a member of the Puritan clergy (his pre-Baptist days).

The first Baptist in America, Roger Williams, was actually the first to use the phrase “wall of separation”.  In his quote below, Williams compared the true church as a sort of garden of Eden, and he referred to this world’s secular realm as the “wilderness”.  He stated:

“[W]hen they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wildernes of the world, God hathe ever broke down the wall it selfe, removed the Candlestick, and made his Garden a Wildernesse.”

Roger-Williams-illustration-631
Depiction of Roger Williams after he was banished from the colonies by the State.

Williams was later to be banished from the colonies for his seemingly liberal and heretical views of a division between Church and State. Previous, such a secular approach to government had never existed because the Crown’s Head of State was ordained and was to dutifully and responsibly act as “Defender of the Faith”.  Williams realized that a state-run religion would create a spiritually void culture of Christendom (in borrowing a term from Soren Kierkegaard), rather than, encourage true and genuine faith that would save one’s soul.  Therefore, a joint State and Church was seen as an enemy of true and genuine faith. He believed  to mix religion with politics would result in politics; and that to mix church and state would corrupt the church.

To this day, Baptists and Evangelicals believe that true religion must be voluntary and arise from a free conscience (thus, the Baptist doctrine of “Soul Liberty”).

Keeping a “wall of separation” between Church and State

President Thomas Jefferson
President Thomas Jefferson

Baptists had a very important role in the formation of the idea of a “wall of separation between church and state”. Thomas Jefferson made this phrase famous, and in part, it was due to the influence from the Baptists. Jefferson had written two letters. The first of the two letters was addressed to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut in 1802, in which he mentioned this concept of a “wall of separation between church and state”. This letter was written in response to alleviate concerns that Baptists may have had about any creation of an official State Church. Baptists were not anti-religion (as some secularists may prefer to portray). Baptist believers loved religion and their Christian faith. What they abhorred was one official state religion, for fear that the State’s politics would interfere with the church’s affairs and cause corruption.

President Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Baptist Association of Connecticut dated January 1, 1802.
President Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Baptist Association of Connecticut dated January 1, 1802. It was a letter in response to concerns raised about creating an official state church.

Today, some misinterpret the phrase “wall of separation” to mean that we are to keep all religious involvement outside of the public square for fear it might be perceived as it being sanctioned or approved by the state (example). However, this was not what Jefferson had intended; what he had intended was exactly the reverse. This revolutionary concept of having a “wall of separation” between church and state was made in response to the State’s intrusion upon the church’s right to determine its own affairs. It had over-stepped its bounds, as proven in the Crowns persecution of Baptist and Quaker believers. The one and only intent for this conceptual wall was to keep the government’s hands completely off how churches and what Christians believed and live out their faith.

After stating all of this, I would also opine that the State does have  place to maintain religious liberties and freedoms for its people. Today, our courts have done a disservice by deconstructing the precedent of an accommodationist approach historically established by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the framers.   The separationist approach will completely distance any concepts of religion from the public square; whereas, the accommodationist approach will not prohibit or inhibit religious ideas and speech from flowing freely in the public square (e.g., public prayer, reading of scripture, etc.). Personally, I prefer the accommodationist approach over the separationist approach.  Keeping religion actively flowing freely in the public square creates a healthy religious atmosphere in society, which I feel would still be a good thing for today’s seemingly over-secularized western society.

First Freedom–Fight for Religious Freedom on PBS

In my readings on religious liberty and freedom, I’ve come to appreciate that we are all endowed with certain inalienable rights by our Creator. In our pluralistic society where certain religious groups accuse people of blasphemy and seek to remove all religious expressions from the public square, I think there is still so much we can all learn about religious freedom.

FYI, I’ve found a documentary by PBS that gives a brief historical account of how America’s religious freedom came about. The 5-6 episodes are clips are only 4-5 minutes each but the DVD is 87 minutes long. The free preview and the link to purchase the DVD is here: http://video.pbs.org/program/first-freedom/ .

Timeline: End of the world predictions

It’s almost been one month since the world was predicted to end but we’re still here. Thanks to Allison Morris who created and forwarded me this illustration of an historical timeline on apocalyptic predictions made about the coming of the end of the world.  So for those of you who feared the end was coming on December 21, 2012, we can be sure that similar predictions will be made again in the future.

It’s funny how even we Christians will try to predict the end when Jesus already said that no one knows the end of days. Jesus warned about those who try to predict the end of time saying:

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”. (Matthew 24:36)

Please Include Attribution to OnlinePsychologyDegree.net With This Graphic Badgets in Bed Infographic

End of the world on December 21, 2012

If you’ve been listening to all the predictions about the end of the world on December 21, 2012, the people you have to really pay attention to are the ones who have some scientific credibility and evidence. If it doesn’t end on this day, then could it be just another start of a new beginning in our world?  That is, what will the world begin to look like in 2013?

Here’s some with their thoughts. A humorous opinion, and a few serious ones. What are yours?

Link to CBC’s David Suzuki’s documentary Nature of Things.

See you in 2013.

Was the world’s first Baptist church Arminian or Calvinist?

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of Calvinism within Baptist churches (e.g., John Piper, Albert Mohler, including hipper and younger Baptists like Mark Driscoll).  When I read and hear Baptists describing “true evangelical” doctrine as  Calvinist in doctrine, this makes me scratch my head and wonder.

When I was reading up on Baptist history, I found something very interesting.  Thomas Helwys (along with John Smyth), two fathers of the Baptist movement, fled to Holland together with other Puritan/Separatist followers to escape the persecution of King James.  Helwys later returned to England and started the first Baptist church at Spitalsfield in 1612.  This was the first Baptist church recorded in history.

What theology did this Baptist church hold to?  Historians describe this as a General Baptist type of church which held to an Arminian belief of free-will (as opposed to a Calvinist doctrine of predestination).  So should Calvinistic Baptists continue claiming what is “truly evangelical”?