Remedial Reading

In the previous post, I pointed out that two versions of a single book have contributed mightily to the mal-education of at least three generations of Americans. (See also this article about Zinn’s book in the Claremont Review of Books.)

In the spirit of lighting a candle rather than merely cursing the darkness, I’d like to suggest some books for any person looking for an antidote to the poison of Howard Zinn.

At the risk of being a little too “on the nose” you could do worse that this. It Graber’s book is well-written, meticulously researched, and more than a little infuriating to read. But it’s important. This is the clearest, quickest pathway to cleansing the system of the Zinn toxin.

Nevertheless, it’s impossible to understand the history of the United States apart from the history of Western Civilization, and how that civilazation was shaped by Christianity. That’s why I would suggest that anyone wanted a basic grid rooted in reality rather than ideological fantasy, to start with this newly published book:

The UK’s Tom Holland (no relation) is one of our most remarkable living historians. That’s the cover of the UK verions above. The subtitle of the version published in the United states is: “How the Christian Revolution Remade the World.”

Both subtitles are appropriate because Holland persuasively proves that much of what has driven the upward progress that we all take for granted was made possible because Christianity spread throughout Europe and rooted itself deeply.

It also reveals how our system of values—including the values that liberals generally hold most dear—all are a legacy of the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A shorter book that does similar work is Professor Rodney Stark’s book, The Victory of Reason.

As for a truly accurate, warts-and-all, history of the United States as an alternative to the Howard Zinn’s Maoist smear job, I’d suggest beginning with:

This history was actually crafted as a corrective response to Zinn’s anti-Western propaganda.

Finally, you can’t go wrong with Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People.

No teachers or university professors will be assigning the books above. No documentarians influenced by these books will be featured on Netflix. No celebrities or pop stars will be repackaging their truths for a broader, younger audience.

You’ll just have to read them for yourself. I hope you will.

I’m Offering to Write Your Life Story

I have a proposition for you. I am a (reasonably) successful professional writer. Among my specialties is biography. I’ve ghostwritten dozens of biographies and histories. And even published a few under my own name. For example . . .

In other words, I know how to compellingly tell the story of a life. So, here’s my amazing offer:

I’m going to write your biography. For free.

That’s right. I’m going to tell your life story at no charge. There are just a couple of little stipulations I need you to agree to before we get started. I’m sure you won’t mind.

I’m going to exhaustively research every aspect of your life, but only write about your worst moments. The only things that will appear in the narrative will be the times you were being the very worst version of yourself. The times you were selfish. The days you were unkind or uncaring or just downright mean and vindictive. And we all have plenty of those moments in our histories, am I right?

Yes, I know even the best of us are imperfect. We’re all “works in progress” whose lives consist of a complicated mix of good and evil. And you’ve clearly done a lot good. Nevertheless, the only things that will make the pages of the book called “Your Story” will be the times you didn’t live up to what you professed to believe. The times you looked like nothing but a big, fat hypocrite.

I’m sorry, but that stuff, and only that stuff, will be what strangers and future generations will come to know about you.

I’m not going to sugar-coat this. This project will require ignoring your virtues, and you have many. It will require pretending that you’ve never helped anyone, even though you’ve done that often through the years. It will require pretending that you’ve never sacrificed yourself for others, though you frequently have.

To be honest, in spite of your flaws, you’ve been one of the most noble and honorable people I know. You’ve been responsible for a lot of good in the world. And have inspired many others to good things as well. Unfortunately, that will not be the impression that strangers take away from reading your story.

Actually, it’s worse than that. In telling your story, I’m going to attribute evil motives and sinister intentions to even your most benign and mundane actions.

I’m so sorry, but I must misrepresent not only what you’ve done but also why.

I’m not going to lie to you. The finished book will be a grotesque, lop-sided caricature of who you really are. People who really know you well will recognize this. But casual acquaintances, strangers and future generations will believe this is who you really were. So . . .

How about it? Shall we get started? No?

Well, over the last few decades, something very similar, but in some ways even worse, has befallen the United States.

Forty years ago, someone wrote a biography of the United States that is precisely like the one I just propoosed writing for you. Except this one is even less factual. This is that history:

Zinn did not write a “warts and all” history of our nation. He wrote a “warts only” version. And a maliciously dishonest one at that. First published in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected, this book has become the primary source of information for several generations of Americans.

Once this became one of the most influential and succssful history books of all time, Zinn rolled out a version for high school students.

a.k.a., The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Godless Marxism

Wikipedia informs us that: “Zinn described himself as ‘something of an anarchist, something of a socialist. Maybe a democratic socialist.'” What his book reveals is that Zinn was, as most Marxists are, thoroughly and utterly hostile to the traditions of Western Civilization . . . particularly those rooted in Christianity.

Even before Zinn wrote his book, this fan of Mao’s nightmarish reign of terror in China (btw, Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” killed 45 million in just four years) was profoundly influential on the young, flag-burning campus radicals of the late ’60s and early ’70s who drank deeply from the well of the twin theologies of Marxism and anti-Christian eastern mysticism.

And those campus radicals grew up to become the tenured college professors, news editorial board members, and film makers of the ’90s and ’00s.

As a result, Zinn’s books became required reading in the public schools and the nation’s univeristies. In recent decades, if students read only one “biography” of America, this was it. And it is 776 pages of dishonest and relentlessly negative Marxist, anti-Western propaganda.

It’s difficult to overstate the book’s influence. Countless “activists,” teachers, social workers, journalists, filmmakers, and actors have built their entire worldview on it’s distortions, misrepresentations, and carefully filtered half-truths.

Millions of those who have never read it, have nevertheless been schooled by those who absorbed and believed every word.

Thus, Zinn and his book have influenced and/or formed the basis of scores of documentaries. Its deeply flawed assumptions have informed the plots of innumerable movies and preachy television episodes.

Zinn’s book even made a cameo appearance in Ben Affleck’s and Matt Damon’s academy-award-winning 1997 movie, Good Will Hunting.

As I said, all this has been going on for four decades. So, why do I mention it now?

Because I’ve heard many genuinely bewildered people wondering out loud over the last couple of weeks about where all these young Americans who despise America came from.

The answer is we produced them. We’ve been incubating them through our schools, media, and popular culture for decades. They’ve been assured all their lives by teachers, pop stars, and activist-posing-as-journalists that this flawed but extraordinary miracle of a place called America is well and truly monstrous.

For example, Howard Zinn’s ideological DNA permeates the New York Times’ twisted “1619 Project” that has animated and (mis)informed so much of the current social turbulence.

Yet for those of us who have been around a while, these current events have a very familiar look and feel.

That’s because we hatched a crop of Zinn disciples roughly 10 years ago that manifested as the “Occupy” movement. The agenda then was the same Marxist wish list as now. The downfall of capitalism; environmentalism as the official state religion; and the enshrinement of identity politics and “intersectionality” as the funhouse-mirror-lens through which all reality must be viewed.

Another twenty years prior to that earlier wave of unrest, a generation of Zinn’s children were marching with Jesse Jackson at Stanford University chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Culture’s got to go.”

1/15/1987 Jesse Jackson and students demonstrate on Martin Luther King Jr. Day against the western cultures core reading list requirement. Credit: Chuck Painter / Stanford News Service

There were prophetic voices trying to warn us back then.

Published in the very same year as that Stanford march, Professor Allan Bloom’s book, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students called all of this with chilling accuracy. None of us who read his book more than 30 years ago is remotely surprised that they’re tearing down the statues of abolitionists, emancipators, and Spanish novelists today.

Robert Bork called it, too. In 1996 he wrote Slouching Toward Gomorrah and it, too, diagnosed the disease that now ravages the culture. In it, he wrote: “Radical individualism, radical egalitarianism, omnipresent and omni-incompetent government, the politicization of the culture, and the battle for advantages through politics shatter a society into fragments of isolated individuals and angry groups.” 

Today, Western culture, rooted deeply in Christian tradition, is still the enemy of those mal-educated by Zinn and his evangelists. We have the defaced and dececrated and toppled statues of numerous “dead white men” to prove it.

George Washington, ladies and gentlemen.

The public monuments of Christianity and Judaism will be next. Indeed, it’s already underway. (Wokeness is a jealous god.) And because Zinn’s bogus biography of our nation has become an article of religious faith for millions, they will feel perfectly righteous in their attacks on the churches and synagogues.

As it turns out, it matters how someone writes your story.

[Update: Here’s the antidote for Zinn poisoning.]

Praying Grace Reviews

I was blessed and encouraged to see the following review of Praying Grace from “Gail,” a verified buyer, on it’s Amazon page:

I am at the 6th devotion and the knowledge and understanding I have gleaned from just these 6 readings and declarations have changed my life.
This book is erasing the years of misconception and wrong thinking that have been planted in my mind through misguided teachings and sermons I have heard over the years.
By devotion number 4, I had to purchase 2 of these books as gifts for my children. The simplicity with which David Holland unravels the mystery of the way we ought to pray, to decree, and to declare makes this book a ’must-read ’ for everyone.

So grateful to those who have been recommending and sharing Praying Grace on social media. It means the world.

One Additional Point About the Bill Gates Conspiracy Theories

Sorry. That last post ran on for more than 3,000 words and I ultimately needed to put it, and my poor readers, out of their misery. But there is one additional point I think it’s important to make about the many accusations and innuedoes being directed at Mr. Gates. But first . . .

Would you like to guess what country currently has the fastest growing population in the world?

Poor, civil-war-ravaged Syria.

In second place? Angola. Which, not coincidentally, also has the highest rate of infant mortality in the world year after year. Third, fourth and fifth fastest growing populations belong to Malawi, Burundi, and Chad.

In fact, every one of the top 35 countries with the highest rates of populaton growth are all poor, war-torn, drought-stricken, or all three, and have appallingly high rates of death of children under five.

That’s a little counter-intuitive isn’t it? That the places where children die the most are the places producing the most children?

On the other end of that spectrum are most of the developed countries of the world, where population growth rates have been flattening out for decades now. In fact quite a few rich, Western nations are now experiencing negative population growth. In other words, people aren’t having enough babies to replace the people who are dying.

There is a single dynamic driving the results on both ends of this continuum.

Over the last hundred years it has become evident that in places where mothers are unsure that their babies are going to survive into adulthood, they tend to have a lot more babies. It’s a form of insurance that at least a couple of them will live to take care of them when they are elderly.

Conversely, when mothers live in a culture that makes them confident their kids aren’t going to die from starvation, disease, war, or natural calamity, they have fewer children. A LOT fewer.

As standards of living have risen all over the world, birth rates have plummeted. Those two things are tightly linked. This is well understood.

The replacement rate in most modern, Western nations is an average of 2.3 children per family. Many countries in the Northern Hemisphere have already fallen below that replacement level. Thus, their populations are shrinking.

Here’s what all the above has to do with what people are carelessly sharing about Bill Gates.

Many of the terrible and terrifying conspiracy theories being circulated contain the implication (and often the explicit assertion) that Gates advocates reducing earth’s population by arranging for lots of people to die.

If you haven’t seen these, good on you. I won’t link to that garbage, but they’re out there.

These videos and articles invariably contain a short quote, clip, or exerpt in which Gates points to high birth rates in poor countries as a problem that needs to be addressed.

Well, the Internet has given me trust issues.

I’ve learned not to believe anyone’s characterization of what someone else says or thinks. I now make it a practice to go to the full, un-edited sources of what is being excerpted and characterized . . . especially if the excerpter or characterizer is being critical. And SUPER especially so if the characterizer is accusing someone of plotting mass murder or a world dictatorship takeover.

So I went to the originals of Gates’ comments in his speeches, and the source documents on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation web site. And guess what I discovered . . .

In every single case I researched, Gates was speaking about population in the context of that phenomenon I described above. The one about how women have fewer children when fewer of their babies routinely die of preventable diseases, starvation, or nasty water.

Specifically, Gates is saying we need to take measures to reduce infant and child mortality, and raise the standards of living of the poor in these countries, and that doing so will result in their population growth leveling off.

So just let the full reality of this sink in for a moment . . .

A person who is funding efforts to find ways to see fewer mothers bury their infants, is having his words about those efforts surgically edited to validate speculation that he wants lots of currently living people, to die.

Welcome to Internet 2020.

Look, I have no interest in defending Gates’ politics. We clearly disagree. Nor do I care to defend his plans. I can’t speak to whether they’re wise or a waste of his money. A lot of them are based on questionable left-of center presuppositions.

I know that some of the initiatives he funds promote birth control, which is a non-starter for all my Roman Catholic friends. And some orgs he’s funding almost certainly want to provide abortion, which is, of course, appalling to me. I’ve spent my entire adult life in the Pro-Life cause.

What I am interested in is justice, mercy, humility, and truth. And not just for “my side.” And that means it’s not okay to traffic in sensationalistic lies and distortions that are not only inaccurate, but in some cases the opposite of the truth. Distortions that are frequently embraced and spread willy-nilly by good people in my own tribe.

It hurts our credibility. It hurts our cause. It’s just . . . wrong.

And “The other side does it,” isn’t a valid plea. So, please, please, please keep two things in mind at all times when you’re online.

  1. The internet is filled with content cleverly designed to manipulate you. Most is designed to make money doing so. Clicks + Page Views + Shares = $$$$.
  2. The rest is designed to advance an agenda. To get you to hate what they hate. To fear what they fear. To oppose what they oppose. To make their enemy, your enemy too.

Countless “alternative news” web sites have emerged with that one goal in mind. Shun them. And when you can’t, don’t believe a word you’ve read without remembering the two points above.

It goes without saying that you can’t trust anything the mainstream “legitimate” news sources say either. It’s unfortunate. Both of the above warnings equally apply to CNN, Reuters, and The Washington Post, as well.

Most of the information on the “alternative news” sites is positioned as being provided with the noble goal of “opening our eyes” to what’s really going on. That should sound familiar to believers . . .

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:4

This is not fun to write. Believe me, I’d much rather encourage and entertain than reprove and rebuke, but we’ve got to stop allowing ourselves to be manuipulated. But I’m mindful that Paul told the believers in Corinth that they have thousands of “teachers” but not many fathers. (1 Cor. 4:15)

So, please just consider this some loving fatherly advice.

Thoughts on the Pandemic, Part 2

… or is that just what they WANT you to think?

In my previous post, I shared some thoughts about the psychology of this pandemic. Specifically how a person’s political philosphy profoundly influences the way he or she thinks the government should be handling this situation.

Toward the end, I promised you a take on the numerous conspiracy theories and rumors circulating about all this.

So here goes, fasten your seatbelt. This is going to be a long and winding journey. And I’m almost certainly going to offend two-thirds to three-quarters of everyone who reads this.

Feathers will be ruffled. Oxes will be gored! Sacred cows will be tipped over!!!

High-impact events like this pandemic invariably generate wave after wave of wild rumors and speculation.

You may recall that within hours of the 9/11 attacks—long before the advent of social media, mind you— the internet was lousy with bizarre rumors and malicious reports about groups of celebrating Jews; 4,000 “Israelis” who were warned not to show up for work that morning; and a missile rather than a jet hitting the Pentagon. 

After the dust (literally) settled, we got exotic, hyper-complex theories about some secretive U.S. agency or rogue quasi-governmental group lacing the twin towers with explosives and dynamiting the adjacent 7 World Trade Center. According to these “9/11 was an Inside Job” narratives, George W. Bush, or people within his administration, masterminded the attacks as an excuse to invade Iraq because . . . oil. Or revenge. Or Illuminati secret handshake, or something.

I Make People Crazy

A not-insignificant chunk of America convinced itself that Vice-President Cheney and the Halliburton corporation were part of some sort of vast powerful cabal bent on ushering in {fill in this blank with whatever you’re against.}

I also recall my amusement at discovering that President George W. Bush’s habit of exchanging “hook ’em horns” hand gestures with fellow Texans during his presidency was viewed as incontrovertible proof to some that he was leading an Illuminati conspiracy to take over the world and {fill in this blank with whatever you’re against.}

You think I’m joking?

Whole lakes of digital ink were spilled during the Bush 43 years assuring those who were already predisposed to dislike “W” that he was literally in league with the devil.

I could fill an entire book with reasons why each of these claims are bat-guano crazy. But it’s not necessary because time and history have already rendered them ridiculous. 

But at the time, many people bought in in a big, big way.

Of course, the Kennedy assassination produced its own crop of crackpot theorizing. Various elaborate theories made a case for laying the blame squarely at the feet of: The Mafia, the Soviets, Castro/Cuba, Lyndon Johnson, the Illuminati (hello again!), and whoever “Umbrella Man” was working with.

Who is “Umbrella Man” you ask? So glad you asked!!! Several years ago, on the 48th anniversary of the JFK assassination, I wrote a blog post debunking this particular conspiracy theory, and used it as a springboard to share some thoughts about conspiracy theories in general. You can read, “Kennedy, Umbrella Man, and my Crackpot Theory of Frozen Moment Anomolies” at your liesure.

This tendency to see big, sinister, mysterious forces driving random events isn’t a modern phenomenon, however. We see it throughout history. Why?

Because this is a product of fallen human nature. That “fall” happened because we couldn’t resist eating from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And we’re still suckers for the dangled promise of esoteric “knowledge” today.

As with the Kennedy killing and 9/11, there is something deep in our hardwiring that simply refuses to believe that history-making events can result from the actions of one deranged individual, a handful of fanatics, or incompetence.

Or that, because Creation itself was twisted in the fall, that nature sometimes throws us random curveballs like mutating bat viruses or long droughts.

Or that, because water vapor is a byproduct of the combustion of fossil fuels, that high flying jets in the stratosphere naturally leave trails of frozen water crystals rather than being the result of a global program of spraying mind control or infertility chemicals over whole populations. (If you haven’t encountered a “Chemtrails” true believer, you’ve missed a treat.)

Or that vaccine developers might actually be motivated by a genuine interest in ending preventable diseases. Which brings me to my actual topic.

In 2015, Microsoft founder Bill Gates gave a now-famous (infamous) Ted Talk in which he warned that we as a nation or a world are not anywhere near being prepared for the next pandemic. No one paid much attention at the time, but now that talk is being trotted out as “Exhibit A” in conspiracy theories that have been widely embraced and shared by good people who ought to know better.

Those theories would lead you to assume that Bill Gates was virtually the only one warning about a pandemic back then, and therefore his warning is highly suspicious. 

The fact is, hundreds of disparate voices have been delivering that same warning for a couple of decades now. Especially since the SARS epidemic of 2006.

I routinely read a lot of science magazines and blogs, and over the last 15 years I’ve personally read scores of pieces warning about a coming pandemic that would most likely emerge from a mutating animal virus or a mutation of an existing influenza strain.

Gates is only one of many voices that have been sounding the alarm. For example, President George W. Bush was deeply concerned about our nation’s lack of preparedness for a viral pandemic. Here’s a warning he issued back in 2005!

And here’s a Scientific American article from October of 2011: How an Interconnected Planet Is Fueling the Brewing Viral Storm

I could cite hundreds of other examples. Thousands actually. So, rather than being clear evidence of a plot by shadowy figures, the appearance of the pandemic was actually overdue. We had been fortunate with SARS and H1N1.

My point is that it is wildly irresponsible and deceptive to point to Bill Gates’ past concerns about a viral pandemic as if it was some sort of smoking gun linking him to a sinister plot to depopulate the planet.

But being wildly irresponsible and deceptive is the fastest track to attention in our current culture. And attention is the new gold. It pays.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Gates really has spent billions on various life-saving and life-enhancing initiatives over the last 20 years just to disguise the fact that he’s secretly some sort of real-life Bond villain who paid to have Covid-19 created in a Chinese lab to wreck the global economy and kill millions of poor people because . . . well because that’s what evil-genius-super-villains do.

Gates recently pledged $250 million to help fund research into finding a Covid-19 vaccine. This, too, is supposed to be viewed as highly suspicious behavior according to the conspiracy peddlers.

What they often neglect to mention is that the Gates Foundation passed out roughly two BILLION dollars in grants for fighting malaria over the last few years. And had just pledged another billion to malaria research shortly before the Covid-19 outbreak became news. And threw vast sums of money at a wide range of other health and education initiatives.

That’s a pretty strange thing to do if you’re about to hit the launch button on your world depopulation scheme from your secret underground volcano lair.

Look, I know that Gates is a liberal Democrat. A lot of elites are. But, unlike billionaire George Soros who sinks hundreds of millions each year into trying to sway U.S. elections and funds scores of online liberal propaganda outlets—Gates instead spends his billions on battling diseases and trying to improve the quality of life of the poor in developing countries–particularly women and girls.

The monster.

It feels a little strange to feel bad for a billionaire, but I really do feel for the guy. Gates decides to spend his remaining years and vast fortune trying to improve people’s lives in his own liberal, humanist-y way, and for his trouble, sees himself portrayed as a cartoon cross between Thanos and Emperor Palpatine.

By the way, if you’re a billionaire and really interested in seeing lots of people die in Third World countries, here’s what you do . . .

Nothing. You just sit back and count your money and sail around on a mega-yacht like most billionaires do.

What you don’t do is sink three billion buckazoids into halting the number one killer of humans in history . . . mosquito-borne diseases like malaria.

Still with me? God bless you. Then let’s move on to the other creative theory getting a lot of Facebook traction right now . . .

The “Plandemic”

I’ll be blunt and to the point.

This “presentation” is an opportunistic casserole of deception—a 26-minute bouillabaisse of distortions, errors, innuendos, and dots that can’t legitimately be connected.

One of the voices I’ve come to trust the most since all this virus-y stuff started is that of Chris Von Csefalvay (I have no idea how to prounounce that name. But I think it’s kr-ih-s.) Csefalvay is “an epidemiologist with a specialisation in the virology of bat-borne illnesses, including filoviruses and bat related coronaviruses.” He’s also spent time on the ground in West Africa a few years ago doing battle with Ebola.

He’s non-political, rational, reasonable, and knows what he’s talking about. If you’re interested in real, objective science about the Covid-19 outbreak, I recommend that you follow him on Twitter: @chrisvcsefalvay.

As a public service, he viewed the Plandemic documentary and closed a very long thread in which he refuted and rebutted each the program’s assertions one by one, with this:

It’s not a documentary, it’s a scientific trainwreck of a screed by a disgraced researcher who wanted another go at fifteen minutes of fame. Consume in small doses with whiskey and your blood pressure medication of choice.

You can read the whole thread here:

Back to the Garden

Look, the easiest lie to fall for is the one that confirms or validates what you already think. The easiest scam to be suckered into is the one you need to be real. The one that validates your preferred narrative. These are facts of human nature that have kept con men in business since the dawn of history.

In fact, the very first con man, a Serpent, exploited this very principle. He whispered, “The authorities are holding out on you, Eve. The elites are keeping secrets from you. Why? Because THEY know that if you eat of this tree, you’ll become like them!”

All these millennia later, we still keep falling for the line.

Get a Razor-Sharp Mind

So in the age of the internet—when anyone with a Macbook, an iphone, and an ax to grind against a perceived enemy can build a YouTube video and see it shared and viewed millions of times on Facebook and Twitter—how can you separate fact from fiction? How can you keep from being duped by the slick propagandists?

Well, I’ve found two logic tools quite useful on this front. They are known as Occam’s Razor and Hanlon’s Razor.

In philosophy, a “razor” is a logical tool that cuts away clutter and distractions so the thinker can identify the truth, or at least the most likely candidate for the truth.

Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor takes it’s name from a 13th century Franciscan monk and philosopher named William of Ockham. His razor can be paraphrased like this: “When presented with multiple, competing explanations for an event or phenomenon, the simplest explanation is likely to be the correct one.”

Let’s apply Occam’s Razor to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Confession: I’ve spent more hours than I’m comfortable admitting watching YouTube videos that breathlessly unwind exotic labyrinthine explanations of what really happened on 9/ll.)

There are dozens of crazy-hiney 9/11 conspiracy theories out there but let’s pick the one that got the most traction.

Option 1: “9/11 was an Inside Job.” George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had only been in the White House for eight months AND had gotten a very late start on building their governing team because the “Florida Hanging Chads” election outcome vs. Al Gore paralyzed the transition process for weeks following the election in November of 2000.

Nevertheless, Bush-Cheney Evil Inc. quickly set about secretly lacing the internal steel skeletal structure of the twin towers of the World Trade Center with the explosive Thermite, and did so without any of the thousands of people who worked in the buildings taking notice.

At the same time, they set about recruiting (or tricking) 19 Middle Easterners who had overstayed their visas during the Clinton administration and who were affiliated with an organization (Al Qaeda) –the same organization that had already tried once to blow up one of the towers back in 1993.

Then, instead, of just blowing up the twin towers and pointing the finger at Al Qaeda, they got the 19 Arabs to hijack four commercial airliners, fly them into the towers, the Pentagon (unless that one was a missile), and either the White House or the Capitol building, in order to create a pretense for invading Afghanistan (which has no oil) and later Iraq, which has oil but because there is a global market in oil, getting control of the Iraqi oil fields actually made no financial sense for anyone.

This “false flag” attack would humiliate the U.S., embolden and encourage terrorist organizations all over the world, and cripple the U.S. economy. But, we’re told, Bush, a seemingly decent human being, signed off on all of this for murky, New World Order reasons.

Option 2: Al Qaeda Did It. After trying and failing to bring down one of the towers in 1993, Al Qaeda—led by Osama Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—set about formulating a plan to hijack commercial airliners and fly them into highly symbolic targets. After several years of planning and preparation, the plan was executed and was 3/4 successful. Three of four hijacked aircraft reached their targets.

For reasons that are now well-understood by engineers, the unique structural architecture of the Twin Towers made them susceptible to a pancaking collapse in the presence of an intensely hot fire.

Occam’s Razor says pick the simplest explanation. (Tha’t’s Door #2!) And indeed, the more the facts of those events were uncovered and analyzed in the years that followed, the more Option 2 has been validated and confirmed. In fact, we learned a few years ago that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, after a little waterboarding, sang like a canary and exposed the entire plan in minute detail.

But you would have landed on the correct explanation years earlier simply by applying Occam’s Razor.

Hanlon’s Razor

There is another logic tool in your arsenal for separating crackpot theories from the truth. Hanlon’s Razor. My paraphrase of this axiom goes like this:

Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

Put another way, don’t infer some shadowy, nefarious plot if what you’re seeing can be reasonably explained by someone being a nincompoop.

My favorite example of a failure to apply Hanlon’s Razor is from the old Seinfeld series. Jerry’s “Uncle Leo” is served a hamburger that is slightly overcooked and he immediately perceives anti-Semitism.

“They don’t just OVERCOOK a hamburger, Jerry.”

A lot of us do the same thing today—individually and collectively. Some local agency or bureau overcharges me for something and I instantly conclude that I’m being targeted and persecuted by faceless liberal bureacrats for my political beliefs.

Ummm no. Someone probably made a mistake.

The same is true on a global scale. Humans are too frail, neurotic, prone to mistakes, gaffes, slip-ups, getting drunk and spilling their guts, and oversights—too forgetful, too susceptible to jealousy, envy, and spite—to pull off one one-thousandth of what we suspect is going on out there in the dark shadows.

Say, hypothetically, that you’re presented two theories about the origin of the Covid-19 virus.

The first one posits that an unusual bat virus was being studied in a Wuhan lab and, through carelessness or stupidity, some overworked and under-rested grad student allowed it to escape the laboratory.

The second one suggests that an international cabal of leftist elites, working in concert with the Chinese government, paid to have the virus custom built and then released (in the heart of China for some reason) all in order to spoil President Trump’s chances of being re-elected. Their determination to get Trump out of the White House was so fierce, they were willing to kill millions and risk a global recession, or even a depression, in order to damage his re-election chances. And this, seemed the best strategy for accomplishing this goal.

If you’re evaluating those two, or a half-dozen other hypotheses, Hanlon’s Razor will serve you well.

Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

(By the way, the newest, best analyses have almost completely ruled out the possibility of a lab origin for Covid-19. We’re back to the “wet markets” of Wuhan as the most likely suspect.)

Summing Up (Finally!)

I don’t often make dogmatic statements or issue money-back guarantees, but I’ll offer a few right here. After applying Occam’s Razor, Hanlon’s Razor, a decent knowledge of history, and a biblical understanding of human nature, I am prepared to make the following declarations with complete confidence:

1. The Covid-19 virus is not the product of a plot to take down Trump.

To be sure, opportunists are trying to use it to that end. But those who despise the President were going to use ANYTHING the universe presented to them to that end. An earthquake, a hurricane, an assassination, a sudden increase in the price of taco seasoning . . . anything and everything negative was going to be laid at the feet of Mr. Trump by his enemies. It just so happens what they got was the biggest world crisis since World War II.

Just because someone finds it useful, doesn’t mean that person caused it. What we’re seeing is the old left-wing axiom of, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.

2. The Covid-19 virus is not a plot by Bond Villain billionaire elites to use a vaccine to {fill in whatever you’re against here.}

Most of all. . . I PROMISE you, any vaccine that is developed to protect people from this disease is NOT a secret device to trick you into accepting the mark of the beast.

I could write another 10,000 words explaining why I know that . . . or you can just trust me on this one.

Back away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. You’ll find more nourishing fruit elsewhere.

Thoughts on the Pandemic; Part 1

In Africa, they’re dealing with locusts AND Covid-19

Well, since I can’t promote my new book because no one can buy it right now, because “virus,” I might as well weigh in on the biggest news story since 9/11.  (Update: Books are finally available, wherever amazingly awesome books are sold. Like here.)

My weight on this issue is about 1.25 micrograms, because I am completely uncredentialed, unqualified, and unequipped to know much about what’s going on. (Which puts me in the same boat as 99.99% of the other people expressing strong opinions online and on television right now.)

What follows are a few random thoughts and observations as of Sunday morning, April 19, 2020. By April 20, some of these thoughts will almost certainly have been modified. 

1. This virus caught us unprepared. But it shouldn’t have.

We’ve had smart, knowledgeable people warning us for years that we’d dodged bullets with outbreaks like H1N1, H5N1, and other mutations of the flu. I tend to read lots of science blogs and I’ve seen scores of warnings over the last 15 or 20 years—warnings that anticipated the very thing we’re facing right now.  

(Which makes it both hilarious and kind of sad that some people think Bill Gates’ TedTalk warning a few years ago consitutes some sort of smoking gun that he helped create the Covid-19 virus. More on conspiracy theories in my next post.)

Nevertheless, we weren’t remotely ready when this thing popped up in China and started spreading around the planet via airliners and cruise ships. So, we needed to buy some time to hurriedly do what we should have already done. Which leads me to my next point.

2. This quarantine business was always a Band-Aid, not a cure. 

It’s becoming increasingly clear that a lot of people think we have to keep sheltering in place with huge chunks the economy frozen until nearly all risk is gone. 

That was never the plan. It can’t be the plan. 

The whole rationale of “flatten the curve” was to buy time for our medical infrastructure to get equipped to handle a lot of sick, infected/infectious people. Ventilators and personal protective equipment needed to be stockpiled. Beds needed to be readied. Virus tests and antibodies tests needed to be developed, mass produced and distributed.

But gradually over the last few weeks, the media, half our politicians, and a whole lot of Americans obviously started thinking that the quarantine HAD to remain in place until it was perfectly safe for everyone to go back to the way things were three months ago. 

Again, no.

This untenable belief quickly emerged for a several reasons. 

First, people trained in planning for and dealing with large-scale events with lots of unknowns and variables (such as planning for wars and natural disasters) are taught to envision and plan for “worst case scenarios.” 

People charged with knowing how to win wars before they start and address earthquakes before they happen must create models and plans of action that anticipate the worst possible set of circumstances. It would be irresponsible not to do so.

Many of the models generated in the early days of the outbreak did just this. (See here for details.) And they did so using variables that weren’t very reliable because the data out of China was so untrustworthy. But the media—which is largely scientifically illiterate—tended to report those “worst-case-scenario models as actual predictions.

Second, in order to justify the lockdown and encourage maximum compliance by the general public, it became necessary to scare the living daylights out of people. (While at the same time falsely telling them that masks weren’t helpful, so people wouldn’t hoard them and make it even harder to equip medical personnel.)

Yes, in the opening days of this event, the President was trying to reassure people and calm panic. But that ended once the disaster planners and epidemiological experts started driving, and the media quickly jumped on board. It worked, sort of.

They’ve been so effective at convincing some significant percentage of the population that going to work or school is flirting with death (and for a small percentage of the population, it is), that many people have now logically concluded that it will not be safe to go into public places until the virus is, somehow, completely eradicated.

There is a third reason so many have quickly begun to think that way.

We have a huge number of citizens who now view the government as their de facto “messiah.” 

They look to their national government to supply everything a savior would provide—provision, protection, assurance, and healing. 

In biblical terms, the Messiah is the one who rolls back all the negative effects of “the curse” that resulted from the fall of mankind. In the deepest part of every person, there is an awareness that we need that messiah. This awareness lies at the root of all false religion and religious activity. 

Today, many have been taught and trained to view the central government in messianic terms. They have religious-style faith that government can and should act to roll back every aspect of the fall and usher us back into the Garden of Eden—just as the ancient prophet Joni Mitchell foretold, and psalmists Crosby, Stills & Nash decreed. 

Still trying to get themselves back to the Garden.

If you reject the biblical narrative of the fall and the curse, then you will view both humanity and creation as essentially good and perfectable. And you will quite logically believe it necessary to invest enightened governing elites with enormous power and control. Liberty and personal freedoms must be curtailed in the utopian quest for collective Eden.

This is why control of the White House, Congress, and the courts is an all-consuming obsession with them. And why they pretty much lose their ever-loving minds if their side isn’t in total political control. 

Now apply this mindset to the current crisis. You end up with: The government must exercise restrictive control over all things in life and business in order to reduce the risk to all people to something close to zero.

Here’s the thing: That’s impossible. And the costs of attempting this fool’s errand are devastatingly high. 

In the U.S. alone, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment claims in the last few weeks. (UPDATE 4/23: Claims are now up to 26 million, or 16% of the U.S. workforce). But they’re actually the fortunate ones. Millions and millions of self-employed people and entrepreneurs whose businesses have been shut down can’t file for those benefits.

Yes, it can seem cold-hearted to point it out, but living life on fallen planet earth is a risky enterprise. And there is only one true Messiah who can effectively mitigate those risks. 

They’re out there: Drunk drivers; lightning strikes; meteors; banana peels on floors; crazy people with knives and guns; and forces of nature. And trillions and trillions of germs. Hostile bacteria and viruses—airborne, water-borne, food-borne, tick-borne, and mosquito-borne. 

Anyone who thinks that government can make living life on planet earth a risk-free proposition is delusional.

So again, the quarantine was never about—and could never be about—eliminating the risk for individuals. That’s not the planet we’re on. It could only be about preparing the capacity of our health care system to treat and restore as many sickened people as possible. 

And yet the utopians are already trying to shame and shout down anyone who makes this case.

By the way, I have several “at risk” people in my life who I love desperately. One lives under my roof. I’ll do my best to protect them. But we cannot impoverish millions to simply maintain an illusion of safety for them. Nor do my loved ones want us to.

This is not to say that our leaders don’t have some brutally difficult choices to make over the weeks and months ahead. It will require the wisdom of Solomon at the peak of his powers to strike the right balance between minimizing health impacts and minimizing economic impacts.

And those decisions will have to be made in the middle of a toxic, hyper-politicized, election-year environment. Lord Jesus help us.

In Part II of this post, I’ll address the numerous, spectacular conspiracy theories and rumors this event has generated. 

Here’s Your Roadmap for Navigating the Current Crisis

Here’s an icebreaker question for you. If you could only have one chapter of the Bible to read and study for the rest of your life, which chapter would you choose, and why?

For me, it’s the eighth chapter of Romans. No doubt. Virtually everything you need to know about the good news of the New Covenant and living the Christian life is there. In 39 verses, Paul manages to pack an entire life’s worth of spiritual truth and practical instruction.

And I’ve never seen a more beautiful rendering of those verses than the recently released version called The Passion Translation.

I mention all this because Romans 8 provides believers a perfect roadmap for getting through this current global disruption in peace and victory. You can read it for yourself here. But allow me to summarize the waypoints on this journey:

1. Verses 1-4: The chapter opens with the familiar, treasured declaration that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Passion Translation renders it this way:

So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”

v. 1-2

These opening verses remind you that you have been gifted the very righteousness of Jesus Christ, and therefore fully qualify for everything He died to provide.

In the midst of this disruption and negative news storm, it’s vital to be mindful that every promise in God’s Word belongs to you because your qualification is not in yourself, but in Jesus.

2. Verses 5-9: Paul moves next to an exhortation about focus. He points out the temptation to be mindful primarily of earthy, natural things (the flesh) rather than spiritual things. This is always a hazard because natural things are readily perceived by our five senses, whereas spiritual things are invisible, yet very real. Paul warns:

For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set controlled by the Spirit finds life and peace.  In fact, the mind-set focused on the flesh fights God’s plan and refuses to submit to his direction,[f] because it cannot!

v.6-7

3. Verses 14-17: Paul then turns your identity in Jesus. Namely, that you are an adopted son or daughter of the Most High God. The implications of that adoption are . . .

And you will never feel orphaned, for as he rises up within us, our spirits join him in saying the words of tender affection, “Beloved Father!” For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as he whispers into our innermost being, “You are God’s beloved child!”

v.15-16

Just as the opening verse of the chapter suggests. This means “you quailify” for every good and perfect gift God has made available in His son:

And since we are his true children, we qualify to share all his treasures, for indeed, we are heirs of God himself.

v.17

Paul then reminds of why things around us often seem so messed up. And why virus plagues, droughts, and earthquakes still stalk the earth from time to time. The world is broken. Sin broke it. But the cure is already in the earth. That cure is us:

 For against its will the universe itself has had to endure the empty futility resulting from the consequences of human sin. But now, with eager expectation, all creation longs for freedom from its slavery to decay and to experience with us the wonderful freedom coming to God’s children.

v.20

The NASB puts it this way: “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”

For here, Paul pivots to pointing out, now that the Spirit of God is living within us, we too are inwardly longing and groaning for a fuller restoration of broken Creation and the broken order of things. He says that we don’t know how to pray to help bring this about. But that same Spirit that creates that longing within us, DOES know how to pray for these things.

We learn that Spirit is ready, willing, and available to pray through us, if only we’ll yield ourselves to Him in this way:

And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words.

v.26

Everything that has come before