Ah, But It Is a Story

So last night thirty-three couples, of all makes and models, were married at the Grammys. This solemnified high indignity was performed by Queen Latifah, while being serenaded with “Same Love” by Macklemore and Madonna. Talk about a class event! It was almost as good as getting married by Dr. Phil on Oprah because “all the couples are entitled to the same exact thing,” which is to say, schlock in excelsis. They all have a constitutional right to be treated in exactly the same way, i.e. as dupes and buffoons who agreed to be stage props in Tarantino’s production of Faust.

And in the meantime, those Christians still besotted by our contemporary sintertainment standards are not going to reflect on how compromised they all are until next year, when the Grammys will have John the Baptist’s head brought out on a platter. And even then, there will be no little debate about it, because some of our more illustrious cultural thinkers will no doubt point out that John’s somewhat direct method of approaching Herod left something to be desired. It was not — let us be frank — an invitation to mutually constructive dialog. It ended badly, to be sure, and John did have such promising gifts and so it grieves us to say that, at least in part, he brought it upon himself. What’s next on the program? Why, it is the callipygian Beyoncé, which means no little booty shakin’, and perhaps we might be able to stay for a little more cultural engagement. Some people’s idea of cultural engagement is praying for a wardrobe malfunction.

Speaking of cultural engagement, it is worthwhile to remind everybody that the serpent was the craftiest of all the critters. And because this is just the cultural moment when we all should be reading the story, the prince of the power of the airwaves has arranged for a bunch of epistemological ne’er-do-wells to go big in for story. They are crazy about story. And so we have English professors from third-rate Christian colleges, aficionados of the hard-R, stroking their chins over the brutal honesty they routinely see on the screen. It is only later that they stroke something else. And so we have Miley-haired downstream-floaters, talking about the narratival arc of the latest carnival freak show on HBO. And so we have deeply concerned students of sexual ethics learning everything they know about it from Macklemore. If I were a rapper, I would write a song about him with the phrases spackle more and tackle more in it. And if I won an ironic Grammy for my efforts, I would cackle more.

This too is part of the strategy, which is to create disincentives for anyone who actually is capable of reading the story we are in. If we start talking about “reading the story,” somebody is going to think we are like them, which would be intolerable. Right, but read that part of the story too.

If this were a movie, if this actually were a story, it would be the moment when Odysseus was limbering up his bow. If this were a story, we would be in the banqueting hall of NICE in That Hideous Strength, and Jules has just gotten up to speak. If this were a story, the Levites have all just strapped on their swords so that Moses could send them in to chaperone the rave. If this were a story, it is the night of the great pirate orgy, the night before Port Royal fell into the sea. If this were a story, we would see Lot’s front porch just crammed full of community activists, some of them standing on the rail, looking for some new community action. If this were a movie, the music just turned ominous, and I am staring at the screen wondering what window the divine retribution is going to come through. If this were a story.

Ah, but it is a story.

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71 thoughts on “Ah, But It Is a Story

  1. There’s way too much to keep track of out there. About the only TV I see is public and old westerns. Anybody see American Masters–JD Salinger last week? Pop TV has long been mostly garbage anyway.

  2. You forgot about the earthquake. Last time this story played out in the world, the only elements missing were the semi legitimized pedophilia and the Austrian with the Charlie Chaplin moustache.

  3. This is why we use nothing but an antenna for TV.  As far as this story, I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more, and actually understood it better, if I didn’t have get my dictionary and read it three times.  What does “schlock in excelsis” mean anyway?  And “callipygian”?  C’mon.  A good writer becomes a great writer when his reader can understand an article after reading it just once.

  4. Yeah, the Grammys were terrible in many respects. This in interesting. Doug, said, “They are crazy about story. And so we have English professors from third-rate Christian colleges, aficionados of the hard-R, stroking their chins over the brutal honesty they routinely see on the screen. It is only later that they stroke something else.”

    Is this in response to Alissa Wilkinson’s piece at Christianity Today regarding why they review R-rated movies? If so, that would mean you’re saying The King’s College is a “third-rate Christian college.” Right? If not, could you clarify exactly who these English professors are and what colleges you mean. I’d like to read what you mean for context.

  5. Amen, Rob.  Couldn’t agree more… Breaking Bad is one of the few “modern” shows that this morally-confused world needs to see AND, more importantly, understand.  

  6. SL said “What does “schlock in excelsis” mean anyway?  And “callipygian”?”

    Schlock – noun: Something cheap, shoddy or inferior. <i>in excelsis</i> – Latin prepositional phrase: Enligsh meaning “in the highest”, cf. the refrain of the Christian hymn “Angels we have heard on high”. Callipygian – adjective: having well-shaped buttocks.

    …..

    There. I have now saved you the whole <i>minute and a half</i> it would have taken you to pull up a dictionary and/or run a Google search. You may now cease complaining that you do not understand the things that you have put forth no effort to understand.

  7. Herod had babies openly slaughtered.  We have to contend today with phony marriages and underdressed pop stars.  The reason no one is fighting your war is because the potatoes have never been smaller.  It can be frustrating to not control the culture, but it’s something everyone has to live with.

  8. Matt,
    Herod didn’t have over 55 million babies openly slaughtered, which is one of the “boasts” of our culture today.  This “war” of which you speak is far more encompassing than a few “phony marriages” as you say. The public glorification of the phony marriages and underdressed skanky stars are just more manifest symptoms of the rot in a culture that DOES kill over 55 million babies.

  9. I can easily picture Pastor Wilson in a Bulls cap with a gold medallion engraved with the words “Lil Rev Wilz,” “LL P. Dubs,” “D-Wilz” or something of that ilk. 

  10. I consider myself to be at least average intelligence and fairly well read but I had absolutely no idea what your were attempting to communicate with this post.  I’m willing to concede that maybe it’s just me. 

  11. If this were a story, we would be in the banqueting hall of NICE in That Hideous Strength, and Jules has just gotten up to speak.
     


     
     

    The State of the Union speech is tomorrow night; one can hope. 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  12. I usually don’t comment but I have to after Matt’s comment. Herod had babies slaughtered to try and stave off the coming Christ. We in our day and age slaughter babies so that people can stave off responsibility. These potatoes, as you call them,  are baked into the same rotten pie. I don’t believe Doug is  saying that these are the great evils of our time. He’s pointing out that these are signs of the times we’re in.  And the times are evil. 

  13. There was one small ‘John the Baptist’ attempt at the State of Confusion speech a couple of years ago. Was it Joe Wilson who called out, “You lie!” He was promptly handed his head on a platter.
    And I don’t mind a few phrases or a word or two with which I am unfamiliar. I find it stretches and expands me. Gosh, I read the sermons of the Puritans and feel like I have a third grade education.
    An

  14. Abortion would be a good comparison, if abortion entailed the government forcing women to have them.  As it is, the only thing that is required for abortion to completely disappear from America is for women to stop having abortions.  And if that happened, no godless liberal would shed a tear.  Of course, abortion existed in Herod’s day as well, but merited no protests from anyone in the Bible.  This is not to say they liked abortion, but rather that the enormity of Herod’s crime was evidently a good deal greater.

    If Grammy shenanigans are a sign of our times, then all I can say is that our times appear to be no worse, and in many cases a good deal better, than any other times that ever occurred on this planet.  I can’t help but think John the Baptist would be incredulous.  “You mean you protested openly against the powers that be and faced absolutely no retaliation??”  Oh, but I guess we have nonchristians on TV being nonchristian–how shall we persevere?    You’ll have to pardon my snarkiness, but this culture war outrage stuff is such a waste of time if you’re not part of the right wing media machine raking in the cash from the poor sops who take it seriously.

  15. Actually, the world has never been less morally confused. When anyone can exercise their Constitutional and moral right to marry a consenting adult of their choice without the intervention of backwater-thinking state governments, it won’t need to be on the Grammys or anywhere else. May that day come quickly, and obviate nonsense blog posts such as these.

  16. It’s not quite so bad as you think. Just because a bunch of entertainment geeks celebrated their unmolested (oops, ironic pun) control of TV content in this manner does not mean that the culture is ready to follow. A decent-sized Move of God ™ could not only make such displays irrelevant virtually overnight, but render their entire monopoly irrelevant, too.

    And I’m expecting just that sort of move. After all, God is not one to end a nation when it would be simple to redeem it…

  17. I think, Matt, that you might find a few tears shed when the 542 million dollars received from taxpayers was cut off.  When the posters that line the halls of high schools encouraging minors to get abortions without parental knowledge had to be taken down, when the employees of this huge business lost their jobs   etc, etc etc, yes, actually, I think you in fact might find some God hating liberals shedding  a few tears about their financial losses.

  18. But wait! I remember many folks just 10 – 15 short years ago confidently stating (about homosexual marriage) “Oh, they will never do that!…” As today it is said about legalizing pediphoilia, “Oh, they will never do that!…”

  19. It is a story and its pretty foul. And mixed with all our churning for judgment, it should also be the part of the story where christians remember that this freak show used to be us, and we would be worse without the grace of God.  And that the same grace which saved us is powerful to save them.  And that Jesus came into the world not for the righteous but to call sinners to repentance.   That is a great point in the story to have confidence in the good news.

  20. I’m grateful our king bee postmillenial Doug doesn’t soften these prophetic explosions against how things go at the moment.  I mean, I know he expects an eventual turn around — and that “we’ll” get vindication at a later day here and now; but you gotta respect how he calls a spade a spade even when it shows our particular set in the match seems lost.

  21. Back when the men of Sodom came to Lot, they didn’t get into his house to do evil. The Grammys got into a lot of homes to do their evil. That was the whole purpose of the exercise. 

  22. It was only a story for those who watched. How many chose not to watch? There is a story in the choice as well. Callipygian is an interesting comment .

  23. In two weeks Scott, there will be a corporate, international statement about America’s sexuality at the Olympics when our delegation is lead by a homosexual. Whether an idivdual refuses to watch is irrelevant to the public, corporate statement that will be made.

  24. I agree with you pointing out our impending judgment based on the state endorsed sexual perversion. However, I recently finished reading through all the prophets and noticed the majority of what God cites for his reasons for pouring judgement on Israel was their treatment of the poor. A phrase that stood out to me while reading through  this portion of scripture was, ‘you traded the poor for sandals”. It got me thinking are we in America trading the poor so we can enjoy cheap goods? Who makes our shoes and are we guilty as the Israelites were in this area? I am not a socialist or a liberal but I do see that the consumerism of our culture has created a system where we exploit the poor in other countries for our luxuries. Because we have to have the latest technology poor factory workers in china are induced to work in such conditions where there are nets around the factories to keep them from jumping to their deaths. I think we conservative Christians would have more credibility if we spoke out as much against the kind of consumerism where the poor are exploited  as we do against our culture’s sexual perversion. Maybe our warning bells would carry a bit more weight if they more accurately reflected the way scripture calls people to repentance? Where are the conservative reformed pastors calling for repentance in this area? Where were the reformed pastors calling for repentance when their brothers in South Africa were setting up systematic racial injustice? I am not saying we should stop calling for repentance of sexual perversion. I am asking that we apply equal weights and measures.

  25. I appreciate Mr. McNeely’s heart, but we really need to rid the church of such ignorance of basic economics and the unwillingness to look at all the facts on the ground. Every time a western corporation opens a factory in a poor area of the world, many thousands more of the area’s people line up to apply for a job than there are jobs available. But those are jobs that weren’t there before. Moreover, the reason they line up is because both the pay and work conditions are so much better than the alternatives available. Western liberals compare wages there to American wages and cry foul. But that’s apple to oranges. The context of these poor folks’s existence is what counts.  The well-intentioned liberal or ignorant Christian would have them starve. Outside of Utopia, there is no better way to help lift the world up economically than free trade. Well intentioned and well informed Christians understand that and are willing to stand up for that truth.

  26. John M., our nation’s sexual ethic directly affects the poor. Promiscuity, divorce, and illegitimacy are leading factors in crime. There is a clear connection between father involvement and child success. Fatherless sons are much likelier to become criminals or layabouts than boys with fathers present. Single moms largely depend on the state as a surrogate husband. This squanders America’s generationally-accumulated wealth.
    I understand your concern for the world’s working poor, but the issue is not simply that rich Westerners benefit at the expense of third-worlders, rather that labor is a lot cheaper in developing parts of the world and regulations less onerous. Frankly it is profitable for employers to export factories and import workers. Indians program a lot cheaper than entitled Westerners. Mexicans work hard for less than Oakies, and don’t mind being treated like campesinos.
    The market wage is a third-world wage. As lousy as that is, it is a lot harder to topple than our welfare-and-government-jobs model. Cut off public funds for a few months and America’s growing poverty would become painfully evident.
    As for South Africa there is something we can do: Pray that the ruling commies don’t succeed in exterminating the whites and dooming that great nation to the fate of Zimbabwe and Haiti.

  27. Work  in and of itself is not a blessing if the employer is tyrannical.  Does the employer require the people to work on Sabbath for example. Does the employer care if the managers are sexually abusing the women or children? (happens in some of these factories). Economics is not a savior.

  28. It is sad that heterosexuals have such a capacity to disrespect marriage, and the marriages of others, in such a public, degrading way.
    My intuition tells me that if heterosexuals are able to put their finger on the pulse of that character flaw, they might find greater happiness and success in their own marriages and family life.
    But to degrade the marriages of others is a low to which only the immoral could sink.

  29. The standard of living is high enough in China that many multinationals have switched their labor to other countries. I bet half of your clothing is made in Bangladesh.  Oh, to many corporations, all safety regulations are considered onerous. Buying fire extinguishers is an expense.

  30. “Economics is not a savior.”

    Never said it was, but that is a separate issue. (There is only one Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation comes from the proclamation of the Gospel.  Though I would argue that where commerce opens up, avenues for more missionary work open more, as well.)
    Free trade is better than the alternative. And caring for the material well-being of our fellow man, made in the image of our incarnate God, is certainly one of our callings as Christians. Bad economics undermines and defeats that calling. 
    IOW, these aren’t mutually opposed callings. One doesn’t invalidate or make unnecessary the other.

  31. “to many corporations, all safety regulations are considered onerous. Buying fire extinguishers is an expense.”

    Everything requires cost-benefit analysis, sure. But having factories burn down and having to replace trained workers is bad business. Why do Western liberals think they know so much better what is best for people then the people who line up for these jobs? That’s arrogance. If a job isn’t better  in terms of wages, benefits, etc. than the alternative, they would take the alternative. As free trade and commerce take hold, so will wages and benefit increase, as workers become more productive and competition takes hold.

  32. Robert, I would submit that a public corporate statement made in a vacuum is irrelevant. A message with no audience fades with the wind it is carried on.

  33. Thanks to everyone for the responses,
    To Eric,
    I am not ignorant of the reality of third world economics, nor am I advocating a particular economic model. Your argument that the alternative is worst does not really address the issue and is similar to the blood thirsty liberal’s argument supporting abortion. They argue that women using coat hangers and children being born in an unwanted environment is a worst alternative than “safe abortion”. They are wrong.  When America had its industrial revolution millions of people came here with the hope of opportunity only to be caught in a system of industrial slavery. Consider the possibility that many of these factory workers in third world countries are given a brighter picture of working for these factories that what is the reality. This is evidenced by the fact that after these workers supposedly get a better life than they had they attempt suicide. Even if I grant that their lives are improved working in these conditions does it matter? Shouldn’t ministers of the Word denounce mistreatment of the poor in any form? Do you really think when asked to give an account for how western companies have treated the poor in other countries God will accept the answer, “their plight was slightly improved”? Do you really think God will not hold ministers accountable for being silent on this issue? Perhaps those who came from Europe during the industrial revolution were better off. Does that mean the treatment they received from their employers was just? Shouldn’t we as Christian be leading the charge in exhorting the whole counsel of God? When God indicted the Israelites for trading the poor for sandals would they have been guiltless if the poor had willing accepted that plight? You said, “If a job isn’t better  in terms of wages, benefits, etc. than the alternative, they would take the alternative.” Not necessarily. There are assumptions in this statement that all those lining up for the work know what they are getting into. The point I was making is God is just as likely to judge us for our willingness to trade the poor for sandals as He is for sexual perversion. I have one more question regarding your point that free trade is the best way to elevate these people out of their condition. Was it free trade that elevated the immigrants that came over from Europe out of industrial slavery?
    To Job,
        I never denied any points you made in your comment. I agree whole heartedly. I am not saying we should focus on one issue to the exclusion of another. I am saying we would be more consistent if we spent equal time drawing attention to the other sins God judged Israel for. If one reads the prophets while being aware of the impact our foreign policy, consumerism, and greed has on the poor worldwide it can be quite sobering. You mentioned, “As for South Africa there is something we can do: Pray that the ruling commies don’t succeed in exterminating the whites and dooming that great nation to the fate of Zimbabwe and Haiti. ” Obviously we should pray to that end. However that statement really does not address my honest question, Where were the reformed pastors in the west publically calling their Dutch Reformed South African brothers to repentance for Apartheid? If someone could point me in the direction where men of God were doing this that would be helpful.
    Thanks
     
     

  34. I was just perusing a book last night on the Triangle Shirtwaiste Fire. This was the event in which socialism got its first foot in the door due to a fire in Manhattan a little over a hundred years ago, where over a hundred immigrant women and girls died in a factory fire that had all of the exits blocked.  I noticed that no one has addressed the sabbath issue.

  35. Once again, like your post on millenials, an exercise in hand-wringing without any wisdom on how to proceed/live/interact with our neighbors in a Christlike manner as a result.  Stop complaining, Doug, and actually provide some constructive solutions/guidance

  36. John,
    I deny your premise. I deny that it is our job to insist on standard in operation here much be imposed elsewhere.  We are much more productive here. Better educated. For the most part, better work ethic. More consistent rule of law.  You want to force through stages of development as if that could be done. That alternative is nothing. The business leaves. The people are left without the work they flocked in huge numbers to get.  I think it is inhumane to deny them that opportunity because of an arbitrary standard.  I would rather they have the opportunity and, just as we did in the west, they will develop the wherewithal to make further higher value judgements as they become prosperous enough to do so. But if you artificially raise the cost of doing business in these poor places, business will leave. It will not be worth it to stay.  Rather, let competition develop and the standards will rise as the people prosper and become more skilled, more educated and create more choices for themselves. Good economics recognizes that their are always unintended consequences to any government action.  It isn’t just getting what we want. It is being able to see what isn’t immediate evident beyond the goal of a given policy. Action have consequences that often undercut their objectives.

  37. John M.,     I couldn’t give you an answer about the Reformed pastors and Apartheid. What is the point of fixating on the past when there are enough present sins and existential threats to keep one occupied?     “I am not saying we should focus on one issue to the exclusion of another. I am saying we would be more consistent if we spent equal time drawing attention to the other sins God judged Israel for. If one reads the prophets while being aware of the impact our foreign policy, consumerism, and greed has on the poor worldwide it can be quite sobering.”      Are you saying you would like to see less condemnation of America’s cultural exports and more of its financial-economic ones? On a related note, what of the poor in America, who are subsisting on porno, dope, and government cheese? Shouldn’t the lion’s share of American Christians’ time be spent on these immediate and less romantic poor, rather than being split on those suffering in other countries?

  38. Sabbath is the Big E on the eye chart. It is one of the Big Ten. It is a God given command that is a to be a blessing. Except for certain lines of work, employers are telling their employees to do what God told them not to do. Is it no wonder that most security departments in retail spend most of their time watching the employees. Instinctively, they suspect if an employee will sin for them by working Sunday, then they will sin against them by stealing. What to do? For starters, your pastor should say that Sabbath keeping is expected. Don’t go to a store on Sunday unless you absolutely have to. Remember Sabbath is dusk to dusk. This is getting the speck out of your own eye. That is a good start.

  39. Ah yes…  And we could look at a bigger issue here.  Christians who choose to fill their brains with smut such as can be found on the Grammys.  My family doesn’t even have a means to watch such crap, truth be told.  Even if we had cable or local t.v., we would not choose to watch such.  I figure if I want to know who won album of the year, I can look it up on-line later.  It disturbs that a holier than thou Christian (read: pharisee) such as Doug Wilson is busy filling his brain with such scum just so he can bitch to his cult following about it later.

  40. Ouch!  I must say your writing is able to bring more shock than what the degenerate come up with (which is getting predictable).  And I don’t think what you have to say is a bad thing, just hope the Lord will use it to jolt the conscience of Christians who can sit through such filth and not think twice what they are watching.

  41. Eric said, “I deny your premise. I deny that it is our job to insist on standard in operation here much be imposed elsewhere.”
    That is not my premise. My premise is that scripture commands us to treat the poor a certain way. That way is not socialism nor is it pragmatism. If how people are being treated on behalf of our way of life is coercive, harmful, or unjust the church should call it out. I have noticed a few things. You seem to think because I criticize the evils of our consumer driven market I am against free market. I am not against free market. I have noticed you fail to use scripture as your standard on how people should be treated and refuse to interact with the biblical evidence I have presented. You also refuse to answer my question about whether it was the free market that made working conditions safer in our country.  

  42. Job asked, “What is the point of fixating on the past when there are enough present sins and existential threats to keep one occupied? “. The question about apartheid was not a fixation on the past. The point was to shed some light on a blind spot we reformed christians have had in the past and continue to have. Also I am genuinely interested in whether or not any reformed pastors actually stood against that evil. You also asked, ”  Are you saying you would like to see less condemnation of America’s cultural exports and more of its financial-economic ones? On a related note, what of the poor in America, who are subsisting on porno, dope, and government cheese? Shouldn’t the lion’s share of American Christians’ time be spent on these immediate and less romantic poor, rather than being split on those suffering in other countries?”. I am not saying I want to see less condemnation of our cultural exports. By all means condemn away. What I am saying is I would like for us reformed christians to do a better job at preaching the whole counsel of scripture. Btw I was raised by the kind of poor that subsisted on porno, dope, and government cheese. I lived among the so called poor in our country. When I was five my mother and I were in and out of homeless shelters. I remember having to wait for my parents in the waiting room of a plasma center so they can get enough money to buy a bag of dope. Living in the back seat of an old pontiac ventura. Through those experiences I gained a very real understanding of what standard the so called poor in this country live under. I am also aware of the standards those in other countries live under and the injustices they are subjected to because of both their government’s corruption and our consumerism. We should not turn a blind eye to any injustice especially when it is being perpetrated on behalf of us. Since I have answered your questions perhaps you can answer one of your own. Why such resistance to entertaining the possibility that our consumerism is an avenue wicked men use to unjustly exploit the poor? Why such resistance to examining whether our leader were conspicuously silent on the injustices our brothers were committing in South Africa? Isn’t this whole thread about calling out the sins of our culture that will contribute to God’s judgment on us? Shouldn’t we seek to be informed by all of scripture to properly call our society to repentance? Or did I strike a nerve and some here do not wish to have scripture brought to bear on sins they are comfortable with?   

  43. “My premise is that scripture commands us to treat the poor a certain way.”

    There’s a big and unwarranted leap between what God commands of individuals and the church, and what should be forced on others via the State. I deny the State that prerogative. The government is a minister of God’s wrath. As long as folks aren’t harming others, it should stay out of business.  Beyond that, not all sins are crimes. Doug has written eloquently on this fact at many places on this blog.

    “If how people are being treated on behalf of our way of life is coercive, harmful, or unjust the church should call it out.”

    John, how can a contract mutually agreed to – in this case, employment — be unjust, if it isn’t harming another? Again, don’t import western workplace standards into another context. A company agrees to hire people to work under X circumstances for Y hours at Z wage. Thousands line up for job, some are hired, they work under agreed terms and are paid. End of story. That’s just and good.

    “you fail to use scripture as your standard on how people should be treated and refuse to interact with the biblical evidence I have presented.”

    On the contrary, I am implicitly applying all sorts of Scriptures, starting with the 7th and 10th Commandments, many Proverbs, and even Romans 13. No proof texts are necessary.  I can and do happily join you in criticizing many individual choices folks make in the marketplace — including purchasing the trash mentioned in this blog post through their viewership. I just decline to elevate such criticism to a call for government action where it isn’t warranted and is, in fact, harmful to those it is intended to help.

    “[Is it] the free market that made working conditions safer in our country. ” 

    Absolutely!  Lots of books written to this end. First, becoming more prosperous is a huge boon to human safety, and as Adam Smith and David Ricardo and his theories of free trade became national policy in Britain and then over here — and the United States essentially became the world’s largest free trade block under the Constitution, allowing commerce to flow freely across state borders — we became fabulously wealthy. You might point to innovations and those helped greatly. Most of those wouldn’t have ever seen the light of day without the free market, though. And then, more to the immediate question, not only did people demand safer work conditions as a term of their employment as we grew wealthy beyond subsistence, but it was very much in businesses interest to do so, as a matter of winning the best workers amidst heavy competition.  I have not the time or interest to recount all the ways how (esp. not in the comments section of a blog post now running 60 or so comments long. I lose interest quick at this point). But here is one such book that dives into this subject: http://www.amazon.com/Its-Getting-Better-All-Time/dp/1882577965/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391029308&sr=1-5&keywords=julian+simon. And here is an article for a briefer treatment, if you wish: http://mises.org/freemarket_detail.aspx?control=193

  44. Eric,
           Perhaps you should reread my comments. You keep importing premises  I never made. For example: ” There’s a big and unwarranted leap between what God commands of individuals and the church, and what should be forced on others via the State” I never said the state should do anything. During the industrial revolution corporations were  purposely being dishonest to workers, setting up harmful work conditions, and purposely creating situations where it was near impossibly to get ahead through honest labor. Since you keep bring the state into this I will briefly address the issue of the state. If the state had been a just minister of God’s wrath during the industrial revolution it would have executed factory owners who locked the doors keeping people from being able to escape fire. All I have called for is a free market solution. I am saying we who are the market stop turning a blind eye to the plight of the poor and calling out sin where we see it. I suppose since you are incapable of reading my comments without importing foreign premises I should not expect you to understand my argument. I will certainly read your recommendations about how the free market made working conditions better in the US. It is my understanding that while the free market did play a role through labor unions it was also the government that mandated safe working conditions. I have not called on our government to mandate safe working conditions abroad. I have called on our preachers to start calling out the ALL the sins of our society. Including the ones you seem comfortable with turning a blind eye to.

  45. John,  Well, I apologize then. I had no interest in speaking to all the broader dons this conversation went. My first comment was to extol the virtues of free trade esp. for those working in so-called sweatshops and the like. Every comment since was to that end alone.

  46. Having trouble with this iPad. But you are assuming a whole lot of stuff about the industrial revolution that just wasn’t so. At least not in a general sense. 

  47. Eric, I did not assume anything about the industrial revolution. everything I stated I learned from studying first hand accounts in college history classes.

  48. Sorry, but anecdotes don’t make a rule. You can find bad apples in every bunch; this does not surprise. Btw, another great book to read: “The Myth of the Robber Barons” by Burton Folsom.

  49. Eric, that is pretty comical that you accuse me of relying on anecdotes to make a rule while you point to a single book as evidence to support your understanding of the industrial revolution. Sorry but the fact is, and the overwhelming evidence supports it, that the vast majority of factory owners purposely set up unsafe working conditions, purposely paid workers low wages, and purposely controlled the cost of goods in those communities to keep people from getting ahead. It took the desperation of starvation, and fear for life to unite workers to demand higher pay and safer conditions. Certainly all the owners were not doing this but a few anecdotes does not make a rule.

  50. Absolutely!  Lots of books written to this end.
    77777
    Remember that I commented about the Triangle Shirtwaiste Fire? It generally took people dying at work in a high profile manner to get anyone’s interest. Let’s make this a more specific case.  I did my high school in a mining town. Are mining safety rules in place because of free market or government intervention?  If you need a book to read, may I suggest, The Deep Dark by Greg Olson. My uncle barely survuved the Sunshine Mine Fire.

  51. I don’t understand the people who say they do not understand this post. It is pretty clear and well written in my mind. The vocab was not too tough either but here is a tip for those times when you do not know a word: if you type it into google (or if you use chrome the address bar at the top) the results will immediately give you the definition. It doesn’t take more than 10 seconds. So don’t let vocab slow you down anymore! 

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