Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I believe.

As of this morning, I have now been called both a “die hard liberal” and a reactionary in the same week. I confess that, on a certain level where my inner Mencken dwells, this rather pleases me.

But I also recognize that it is a signifier of a core weakness in the current public discourse – the widely held notion that by knowing any single belief a person holds, you can accurately predict his position on every other possible issue of human consideration. I call it “The Theory of Ubiquitous Polarity,” a system under which an observer believes that all beliefs must necessarily be aligned in whatever manner the observer himself aligns them.

Now, Ubiquitous Polarity is about as valid and useful a construct as phlogiston, but its proponents are equally as committed to it as any alchemist was to his own world view. So an intellectual conflict -- sort of a second hand cognitive dissonance -- arises in the breast of an adherent of Ubiquitous Polarity when he encounters someone who holds a belief with which the observer concurs and, simultaneously, a belief with which the observer disagrees. What follows is usually a resort to ad hominem attacks in which the person with "inconsistent" views is denounced as “a politician,” or one who seeks "to please everyone” or “to be all things to all people.” This exercise not only relieves the observer's cognitive dissonance, it spares him the exertion of actually considering another's opinions, or of even examining his own beliefs one at a time.

So, with a mischievous eye toward increasing such dissonance, without offering here the underpinnings of any of these contentions, and in the spirit of Walt Whitman,* let me set forth the following non-exhaustive list:

I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate; God born fully a man to live a perfect life and die an atoning death, that sinful man might be reconciled to righteous God, and that this reconciliation occurs in each person by Grace alone through Faith alone in Christ alone.

I believe this faith is no accomplishment of mine, nothing for which I deserve credit, but rather a gift of a gracious God.

I believe there is nothing wrong with an occasional drink of whiskey, or an occasional cigar.

I believe there is no essential or meaningful difference between Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann.

I believe that human life begins at conception.

I believe the Earth is several billion years old and that the evolutionary process was pleasing to God, the creator of the universe.

I believe that enterprise, innovation, useful risk and hard work should be rewarded – for their own sake and because they are good for society as a whole – and that a free market economy is the best system for ensuring such rewards.

I believe that no one has the right – in pursuing such rewards – to jeopardize the health or well being of another, or to spoil the environment shared by all.

I believe that a civilized society can afford and ought to provide health care, education through high school, food security, and basic housing to every one of its members, as a human right.

I believe, with Thomas Paine, that that government is best which governs least.

I believe that, while taxes are not theft, the imposition of a dollar more than is necessary, or the waste or misdirection of a penny, is a crime against the people.

I believe that if you like your steak well-done and your coffee decaffeinated, you don't really like steak or coffee.

I believe the rights to life, to liberty and to pursue happiness and dignity come from God and belong to each individual who,  accordingly, has the right to defend those rights – even by force of arms – against anyone – any criminal, any institution, and even any government – that proposes to take them.

I believe the curve where a woman’s bottom meets her thigh is the most beautiful structure in nature.

I believe, with Robert Heinlein, that kids should be kept long on hugs and short on pocket money.

I believe our adversarial system of justice – while it can be brutal, flawed, indifferent and dangerous – works awfully well when the men and women engaged in it operate in good faith.

I believe in condign punishment for the guilty and that some crimes deserve death.

I believe it is better for a guilty man to go free than for the state to take the liberty of an innocent man.

I believe that “Casablanca” is a nearly perfect movie.

I believe in marriage, and that the fifth chapter of the Book of Ephesians offers a good manual for a successful one.

I believe God is perfectly sovereign, but that I am responsible for all my actions, and thus in desperate need of Grace.

I believe, with the ad writers, that life is too short to drink cheap beer.

I believe the best immigration policy is “high fences and wide gates,” wherein we vigorously protect our borders and sovereignty, but in which legal immigration – that brought everyone in my family here – is easy and attainable.

I believe that sometimes war is the answer, as it certainly was when my Dad went, and the question on the table was: “World slavery, yes or no?”

I believe we were right to go to war in Afghanistan and that we were wrong to go to war in Iraq.

I believe that has nothing whatsoever to do with the honor of the Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen who have fought there.

I believe, with Samuel Johnson, that every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.

I believe the designated hitter is bad for baseball, and that what’s bad for baseball is bad for America.

*     Do I contradict myself?
       Very well then I contradict myself,
       (I am large, I contain multitudes.)
                           Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"


  1. How about Lee Harvey Oswald? Did he act alone? Should there be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter?