Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer

CHAPTER 5

The Self-existence of God

Lord of all being! Thou alone canst affirm I AM THAT I AM; yet we who are made in Thine image may each one repeat ”I am,” so confessing that we derive from Thee and that our words are but an echo of Thine own. We acknowledge Thee to be the great Original of which we through Thy goodness are grateful if imperfect copies. We worship Thee, O Father Everlasting. Amen.

”God has no origin,” said Novatian and it is precisely this concept of no-origin which distinguishes That-which-is-God from whatever is not God.

Origin is a word that can apply only to things created. When we think of anything that has origin we are not thinking of God. God is self-existent, while all created things necessarily originated somewhere at some time. Aside from God, nothing is self-caused.

By our effort to discover the origin of things we confess our belief that everything was made by Someone who was made of none. By familiar experience we are taught that everything ”came from” something else. Whatever exists must have had a cause that antedates it and was at least equal to it, since the lesser cannot produce the greater. Any person or thing may be at once both caused and the cause of someone or something else; and so, back to the One who is the cause of all but is Himself caused by none.

The child by his question, ”Where did God come from?” is unwittingly acknowledging his creaturehood. Already the concept of cause and source and origin is firmly fixed in his mind. He knows that everything around him came from something other than itself, and he simply extends that concept upward to God. The little philosopher is thinking in true creature-idiom and, allowing for his lack of basic information, he is reasoning correctly. He must be told that God has no origin, and he will find this hard to grasp since it introduces a category with which he is wholly unfamiliar and contradicts the bent toward origin-seeking so deeply ingrained in all intelligent beings, a bent that impels them to probe ever back and back toward undiscovered beginnings.

To think steadily of that to which the idea of origin cannot apply is not easy, if indeed it is possible at all. Just as under certain conditions a tiny point of light can be seen, not by looking directly, at it but by focusing the eyes slightly to one side, so it is with the idea of the Uncreated. When we try to focus our thought upon One who is pure uncreated being we may, see nothing at all, for He dwelleth in light that no man can approach unto. Only by faith and love are we able to glimpse Him as he passes by our shelter in the cleft of the rock. ”And although this knowledge is very cloudy, vague and general,” says Michael de Molinos, being supernatural, it produces a far more clear and perfect cognition of God than any sensible or particular apprehension that can be formed in this life; since all corporeal and sensible images are immeasurably remote from God.”

The human mind, being created, has an understandable uneasiness about the Uncreated. We do not find it comfortable to allow for the presence of One who is wholly outside of the circle of our familiar knowledge. We tend to be disquieted by the thought of One who does not account to us for His being, who is responsible to no one, who is self-existent, self-dependent and self-sufficient.

Philosophy and science have not always been friendly toward the idea of God, the reason being that they are dedicated to the task of accounting for things and are impatient with anything that refuses to give an account of itself. The philosopher and the scientist will admit that there is much that they do not know; but that is quite another thing from admitting that there is something which they can never know, which indeed they have no technique for discovering.

To admit that there is One who lies beyond us, who exists outside of all our categories, who will not be dismissed with a name, who will not appear before the bar of our reason, nor submit to our curious inquiries: this requires a great deal of humility, more than most of us possess, so we save face by thinking God down to our level, or at least down to where we can manage Him. Yet how He eludes us! For He is everywhere while He is nowhere, for ”where” has to do with matter and space, and God is independent of both. He is unaffected by time or motion, is wholly self-dependent and owes nothing to the worlds His hands have made.

Timeless, spaceless, single, lonely,
Yet sublimely Three,
Thou art grandly, always, only
God is Unity!
Lone in grandeur, lone in glory,
Who shall tell Thy wondrous story?
Awful Trinity!
Frederick W. Faber

It is not a cheerful thought that millions of us who live in a land of Bibles, who belong to churches and labor to promote the Christian religion, may yet pass our whole life on this earth without once having thought or tried to think seriously about the being of God. Few of us have let our hearts gaze in wonder at the I AM, the self-existent Self back of which no creature can think. Such thoughts are too painful for us. We prefer to think where it will do more good - about how to build a better mousetrap, for instance, or how to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before. And for this we are now paying a too heavy price in the secularlzation of our religion and the decay of our inner lives.

Perhaps some sincere but puzzled Christian may at this juncture wish to inquire about the practicality of such concepts as I am trying to set forth here. ”What bearing does this have on my life?” he may ask. ”What possible meaning can the self-existence of God have for me and others like me in a world such as this and in times such as these?”

To this I reply that, because we are the handiwork of God, it follows that all our problems and their solutions are theological. Some knowledge of what kind of God it is that operates the universe is indispensable to a sound philosophy of life and a sane outlook on the world scene.

The much-quoted advice of Alexander Pope,
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan:
The proper study of mankind is man,
if followed literally would destroy any possibility of man’s ever knowing himself in any but the most superficial way. We can never know who or what we are till we know at least something of what God is. For this reason the self-existence of God is not a wisp of dry doctrine, academic and remote; it is in fact as near as our breath and as practical as the latest surgical technique.

For reasons known only to Himself, God honored man above all other beings by creating him in His own image. And let it be understood that the divine image in man is not a poetic fancy, not an idea born of religious longing. It is a solid theological fact, taught plainly throughout the Sacred Scriptures and recognized by the Church as a truth necessary to a right understanding of the Christian faith.

Man is a created being, a derived and contingent self, who of himself possesses nothing but is dependent each moment for his existence upon the One who created him after His own likeness. The fact of God is necessary to the fact of man. Think God away and man has no ground of existence.

That God is everything and man nothing is a basic tenet of Christian faith and devotion; and here the teachings of Christianity coincide with those of the more advanced and philosophical religions of the East. Man for all his genius is but an echo of the original Voice, a reflection of the uncreated Light. As a sunbeam perishes when cut off from the sun, so man apart from God would pass back into the void of nothingness from which he first leaped at the creative call.

Not man only, but everything that exists came out of and is dependent upon the continuing creative impulse. ”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... All things were made by him and without him was not any thing made that was made.” That is how John explains it, and with him agrees the apostle Paul: ”For by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” To this witness the writer to the Hebrews adds his voice, testifying of Christ that He is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His Person, and that He upholds all things by the word of His power.

In this utter dependence of all things upon the creative will of God lies the possibility for both holiness and sin. One of the marks of God’s image in man is his ability to exercise moral choice. The teaching of Christianity is that man chose to be independent of God and confirmed his choice by deliberately disobeying a divine command. This act violated the relationship that normally existed between God and His creature; it rejected God as the ground of existence and threw man back upon himself. Thereafter he became not a planet revolving around the central Sun, but a sun in his own right, around which everything else must revolve.

A more positive assertion of selfhood could not be imagined than those words of God to Moses: I AM THAT I AM. Everything God is, everything that is God, is set forth in that unqualified declaration of independent being. Yet in God, self is not sin but the quintessence of all possible goodness, holiness and truth.

The natural man is a sinner because and only because he challenges God’s selfhood in relation to his own. In all else he may willingly accept the sovereignty of God; in his own life he rejects it. For him, God’s dominion ends where his begins. For him, self becomes Self, and in this he unconsciously imitates Lucifer, that fallen son of the morning who said in his heart, ”I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. . . . I will be like the Most High.”

Yet so subtle is self that scarcely anyone is conscious of its presence. Because man is born a rebel, he is unaware that he is one. His constant assertion of self, as far as he thinks of it at all, appears to him a perfectly normal thing. He is willing to share himself, sometimes even to sacrifice himself for a desired end, but never to dethrone himself. No matter how far down the scale of social acceptance he may slide, he is still in his own eyes a king on a throne, and no one, not even God, can take that throne from him.

Sin has many manifestations but its essence is one. A moral being, created to worship before the throne of God, sits on the throne of his own selfhood and from that elevated position declares, ”I AM.” That is sin in its concentrated essence; yet because it is natural it appears to be good. It is only when in the gospel the soul is brought before the face of the Most Holy One without the protective shield of ignorance that the frightful moral incongruity is brought home to the conscience. In the language of evangelism the man who is thus confronted by the fiery presence of Almighty God is said to be under conviction. Christ referred to this when He said of the Spirit whom He would send to the world, ”And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”

The earliest fulfilment of these words of Christ was at Pentecost after Peter had preached the first great Christian sermon. ”Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” This ”What shall we do?” is the deep heart cry of every man who suddenly realizes that he is a usurper and sits on a stolen throne. However painful, it is precisely this acute moral consternation that produces true repentance and makes a robust Christian after the penitent has been dethroned and has found forgiveness and peace through the gospel.

”Purity of heart is to will one thing,” said Kierkegaard, and we may with equal truth turn this about and declare, ”The essence of sin is to will one thing,” for to set our will against the will of God is to dethrone God and make ourselves supreme in the little kingdom of Mansoul. This is sin at its evil root. Sins may multiply like the sands by the seashore, but they are yet one. Sins are because sin is. This is the rationale behind the much maligned doctrine of natural depravity which holds that the independent man can do nothing but sin and that his good deeds are really not good at all. His best religious works God rejects as He rejected the offering of Cain. Only when he has restored his stolen throne to God are his works acceptable.

The struggle of the Christian man to be good while the bent toward self-assertion still lives within him as a kind of unconscious moral reflex is vividly described by the apostle Paul in the seventh chapter of his Roman Epistle; and his testimony is in full accord with the teaching of the prophets. Eight hundred years before the advent of Christ the prophet Isaiah identified sin as rebellion against the will of God and the assertion of the right of each man to choose for himself the way he shall go. ”All we like sheep have gone astray,” he said, ”we have turned every one to his own way,” and I believe that no more accurate description of sin has ever been given.

The witness of the saints has been in full harmony with prophet and apostle, that an inward principle of self lies at the source of human conduct, turning everything men do into evil. To save us completely Christ must reverse the bent of our nature; He must plant a new principle within us so that our subsequent conduct will spring out of a desire to promote the honor of God and the good of our fellow men. The old self-sins must die, and the only instrument by which they can be slain is the Cross. ”If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,” said our Lord, and years later the victorious Paul could say, ”I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

My God, shall sin its power maintain
And in my soul defiant live!
‘Tis not enough that Thou forgive,
The cross must rise and self be slain.
O God of love, Thy power disclose:
‘Tis not enough that Christ should rise,
I, too, must seek the brightening skies,
And rise from death, as Christ arose.
Greek hymn

The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer

CHAPTER 4

The Holy Trinity

God of our fathers, enthroned in light, how rich, how musical is the tongue of England! Yet when we attempt to speak forth Thy wonders, our words how poor they seem and our speech how unmelodious. When we consider the fearful mystery of Thy Triune Godhead we lay our hand upon our mouth. Before that burning bush we ask not to understand, but only that we may fitly adore Thee, One God in Persons Three. Amen.

To meditate on the three Persons of the Godhead is to walk in thought through the garden eastward in Eden and to tread on holy ground. Our sincerest effort to grasp the incomprehensible mystery of the Trinity must remain forever futile, and only by deepest reverence can it be saved from actual presumption.

Some persons who reject all they cannot explain have denied that God is a Trinity. Subjecting the Most High to their cold, level-eyed scrutiny, they conclude that it is impossible that he could be both One and Three. These forget that their whole life is enshrouded in mystery. They fall to consider that any real explanation of even the simplest phenomenon in nature lies hidden in obscurity and can no more be explained than can the mystery of the Godhead.

Every man lives by faith, the nonbeliever as well as the saint; the one by faith in natural laws and the other by faith in God. Every man throughout his entire life constantly accepts without understanding. The most learned sage can be reduced to silence with one simple question, ”What?” The answer to that question lies forever in the abyss of unknowing beyond any man’s ability to discover. ”God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof” but mortal man never.

Thomas Carlyle, following Plato, pictures a man, a deep pagan thinker, who had grown to maturity in some hidden cave and is brought out suddenly to see the sun rise. ”What would his wonder be,” exclaims Carlyle, ”his rapt astonishment at the sight we daily witness with indifference! With the free, open sense of a child, yet with the ripe faculty of a man, his whole heart would be kindled by that sight.... This green flowery rock-built earth, the trees, the mountains, rivers, many-sounding seas; that great deep sea of azure that swims overhead; the winds sweeping through it; the black cloud fashioning itself together, now pouring out fire, now hail and rain; what is it? Ay, what? At bottom we do not yet know; we can never know at all.”

How different are we who have grown used to it, who have become jaded with a satiety of wonder. ”It is not by our superior insight that we escape the difficulty,” says Carlyle, ”it is by our superior levity, our inattention, our want of insight. It is by not thinking that we cease to wonder at it.... We call that fire of the black thundercloud electricity, and lecture learnedly about it, and grind the like of it out of glass and silk: but what is it? Whence comes it? Whither goes it? Science has done much for us; but it is a poor science that would hide from us the great deep sacred infinitude of Nescience, whither we can never penetrate, on which all science swims as a mere superficial film. This world, after all our science and sciences, is still a miracle; wonderful, inscrutable, magical and more, to whosoever will think of it.”

These penetrating, almost prophetic, words were written more than a century ago, but not all the breath-taking advances of science and technology since that time have invalidated one word or rendered obsolete as much as one period or comma. Still we do not know. We save face by repeating frivolously the popular jargon of science. We harness the mighty energy that rushes through our world; we subject it to fingertip control in our cars and our kitchens; we make it work for us like Aladdin’s jinn, but still we do not know what it is. Secularism, materialism, and the intrusive presence of things have put out the light in our souls and turned us into a generation of zombies. We cover our deep ignorance with words, but we are ashamed to wonder, we are afraid to whisper ”mystery.”
The Church has not hesitated to teach the doctrine of the Trinity. Without pretending to understand, she has given her witness, she has repeated what the Holy Scriptures teach. Some deny that the Scriptures teach the Trinity of the Godhead on the ground that the whole idea of trinity in unity is a contradiction in terms; but since we cannot understand the fall of a leaf by the roadside or the hatching of a robin’s egg in the nest yonder, why should the Trinity be a problem to us? ”We think more loftily of God,” says Michael de Molinos, ”by knowing that He is incomprehensible, and above our understanding, than by conceiving Him under any image, and creature beauty, according to our rude understanding.”

Not all who called themselves Christians through the centuries were Trinitarians, but as the presence of God in the fiery pillar glowed above the camp of Israel throughout the wilderness journey, saying to all the world, ”These are My people,” so belief in the Trinity has since the days of the apostles shone above the Church of the Firstborn as she journeyed down the years. Purity and power have followed this faith. Under this banner have gone forth apostles, fathers, martyrs, mystics, hymnists, reformers, revivalists, and the seal of divine approval has rested on their lives and their labors. However they may have differed on minor matters, the doctrine of the Trinity bound them together.

What God declares the believing heart confesses without the need of further proof. Indeed, to seek proof is to admit doubt, and to obtain proof is to render faith superfluous. Everyone who possesses the gift of faith will recognize the wisdom of those daring words of one of the early Church fathers: ”I believe that Christ died for me because it is incredible; I believe that he rose from the dead because it is impossible.”

That was the attitude of Abraham, who against all evidence waxed strong in faith, giving glory to God. It was the attitude of Anselm, ”the second Augustine,” one of the greatest thinkers of the Christian era, who held that faith must precede all effort to understand. Reflection upon revealed truth naturally follows the advent of faith, but faith comes first to the hearing ear, not to the cogitating mind. The believing man does not ponder the Word and arrive at faith by a process of reasoning, not does he seek confirmation of faith from philosophy or science. His cry is, ”O earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord. Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar. ”

Is this to dismiss scholarship as valueless in the sphere of revealed religion? By no means. The scholar has a vitally important task to perform within a carefully prescribed precinct. His task is to guarantee the purity of the text, to get as close as possible to the Word as originally given. He may compare Scripture with Scripture until he has discovered the true meaning of the text. But right there his authority ends. He must never sit in judgment upon what is written. He dare not bring the meaning of the Word before the bar of his reason. He dare not commend or condemn the Word as reasonable or unreasonable, scientific or unscientific. After the meaning is discovered, that meaning judges him; never does he judge it.

The doctrine of the Trinity is truth for the heart. The spirit of man alone can enter through the veil and penetrate into that Holy of Holies. ”Let me seek Thee in longing,” pleaded Anselm, ”let me long for Thee in seeking; let me find Thee in love, and love Thee in finding.” Love and faith are at home in the mystery of the Godhead. Let reason kneel in reverence outside.

Christ did not hesitate to use the plural form when speaking of Himself along with the Father and the Spirit. ”We will come unto him and make our abode with him.” Yet again He said, ”I and my Father are one.” It is most important that we think of God as Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance. Only so may we think rightly of God and in a manner worthy of Him and of our own souls.

It was our Lord’s claim to equality with the Father that outraged the religionists of His day and led at last to His crucifixion. The attack on the doctrine of the Trinity two centuries later by Arius and others was also aimed at Christ’s claim to deity. During the Arian controversy 318 Church fathers (many of them maimed and scarred by the physical violence suffered in earlier persecutions) met at Nicaea and adopted a statement of faith, one section of which runs:

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
The only-begotten Son of God,
Begotten of Him before all ages,
God of God, Light of Light,
Very God of Very God,
Begotten, not made,
Being of one substance with the Father,
By whom all things were made.

For more than sixteen hundred years this has stood as the final test of orthodoxy, as well it should, for it condenses in theological language the teaching of the New Testament concerning the position of the Son in the Godhead.

The Nicene Creed also pays tribute to the Holy Spirit as being Himself God and equal to the Father and the Son:

I believe in the Holy Spirit
The Lord and giver of life,
Which proceedeth from the Father and the Son,
Who with the Father and Son together
Is worshipped and glorified.

Apart from the question of whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone or from the Father and the Son, this tenet of the ancient creed has been held by the Eastern and Western branches of the Church and by all but a tiny minority of Christians.

The authors of the Athanasian Creed spelled out with great care the relation of the three Persons to each other, filling in the gaps in human thought as far as they were able while staying within the bounds of the inspired Word. ”In this Trinity,” runs the Creed, ”nothing is before or after, nothing is greater or less: but all three Persons coeternal, together and equal.”

How do these words harmonize with the saying of Jesus, ”My Father is greater than I”? Those old theologians knew, and wrote into the Creed, ”Equal to His Father, as touching His Godhead; less than the Father, as touching His manhood,” and this interpretation commends itself to every serious-minded seeker after truth in a region where the light is all but blinding.

To redeem mankind the Eternal Son did not leave the bosom of the Father; while walking among men He referred to Himself as ”the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father,” and spoke of Himself again as ”the Son of man which is in heaven.” We grant mystery here, but not confusion. In His incarnation the son veiled His deity, but He did not void it. The unity of the Godhead made it impossible that He should surrender anything of His deity. When He took upon Him the nature of man, He did not degrade Himself or become even for a time less than He had been before. God can never become less than Himself. For God to become anything that He has not been is unthinkable.

The Persons of the Godhead, being one, have one will. They work always together, and never one smallest act is done by one without the instant acquiescence of the other two. Every act of God is accomplished by the Trinity in Unity. Here, of course, we are being driven by necessity to conceive of God in human terms. We are thinking of God by analogy with man, and the result must fall short of ultimate truth; yet if we are to think of God at all, we must do it by adapting creature-thoughts and creature-words to the Creator. It is a real if understandable error to conceive of the Persons of the Godhead as conferring with one another and reaching agreement by interchange of thought as humans do. It has always seemed to me that Milton introduces an element of weakness into his celebrated Paradise Lost when he presents the Persons of the Godhead conversing with each other about the redemption of the human race.

When the Son of God walked the earth as the Son of Man, He spoke often to the Father and the Father answered Him again; as the Son of Man, He now intercedes with God for His people. The dialogue involving the Father and the Son recorded in the Scriptures is always to be understood as being between the Eternal Father and the Man Christ Jesus. That instant, immediate communion between the Persons of the Godhead which has been from all eternity knows not sound nor effort nor motion.

Amid the eternal silences
None heard but He who always spake,
And the silence was unbroken.

O marvellous! O worshipful!
No song or sound is heard,
But everywhere and every hour
In love, in wisdom, and in power,
The Father speaks His dear Eternal Word.
Frederick W. Faber

A popular belief among Christians divide the work of God between the three Persons, giving a specific part to each, as, for instance, creation to the Father, redemption to the Son, and regeneration to the Holy Spirit. This is partly true but not wholly so, for God cannot so divide Himself that one Person works while another is inactive. In the Scriptures the three Persons are shown to act in harmonious unity in all the mighty works that are wrought throughout the universe.

In the Holy Scriptures the work of creation is attributed to the Father (Gen. 1:1), to the Son (Col. 1;16), and to the Holy Spirit (Job. 26:13 and Ps. 104:30). The incarnation is shown to have been accomplished by the three Persons in full accord (Luke 1: 35), though only the Son became flesh to dwell among us. At Christ’s baptism the Son came up out of the water, the Spirit descended upon Him and the Father’s voice spoke from heaven (Matt. 3:16, 17). Probably the most beautiful description of the work of atonement is found in Hebrews 9:14, where it is stated that Christ, through the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God; and there we behold the three persons operating together.

The resurrection of Christ is likewise attributed variously to the Father (Acts 2:32), to the Son (John 10:17-18), and to the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1:4). The salvation of the individual man is shown by the apostle Peter to be the work of all three Persons of the Godhead (1 Pet. 1:2), and the indwelling of the Christian man’s soul is said to be by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-23).
The doctrine of the Trinity, as I have said before, is truth for the heart. The fact that it cannot be satisfactorily explained, instead of being against it, is in its favor. Such a truth had to be revealed; no one could have imagined it.

O Blessed Trinity!
O simplest Majesty! O Three in One!
Thou art for ever God alone.
Holy Trinity!
Blessed equal Three.
One God, we praise Thee.
Frederick W. Faber

The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer

CHAPTER 3

A Divine Attribute: Something True About God


Majesty unspeakable, my soul desires to behold Thee. I cry to Thee from the dust.
Yet when I inquire after Thy name it is secret. Thou art hidden in the light which no man can approach unto. What Thou art cannot be thought or uttered, for Thy glory is ineffable.

Still, prophet and psalmist, apostle and saint have encouraged me to believe that I may in some measure know Thee. Therefore, I pray, whatever of Thyself Thou hast been pleased to disclose, help me to search out as treasure more precious than rubies or the merchandise of fine gold: for with Thee shall I live when the stars of the twilight are no more and the heavens have vanished away and only Thou remainest. Amen.

The study of the attributes of God, far from being dull and heavy, may for the enlightened Christian be a sweet and absorbing spiritual exercise. To the soul that is athirst for God, nothing could be more delightful.

Only to sit and think of God,
Oh what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breath the Name
Earth has no higher bliss.
Frederick W. Faber

It would seem to be necessary before proceeding further to define the word attribute as it is used in this volume. It is not used in its philosophical sense nor confined to its strictest theological meaning. By it is meant simply whatever may be correctly ascribed to God. For the purpose of this book an attribute of God is whatever God has in any way revealed as being true of Himself.

And this brings us to the question of the number of the divine attributes. Religious thinkers have differed about this. Some have insisted that there are seven, but Faber sang of the ”God of a thousand attributes,” and Charles Wesley exclaimed,

Glory thine attributes confess,
Glorious all and numberless.

True, these men were worshiping, not counting; but we might be wise to follow the insight of the enraptured heart rather than the more cautious reasonings of the theological mind. If an attribute is something that is true of God, we may as well not try to enumerate them. Furthermore, to this meditation on the being of God the number of the attributes is not important, for only a limited few will be mentioned here.

If an attribute is something true of God, it is also something that we can conceive as being true of Him. God, being infinite, must possess attributes about which we can know. An attribute, as we can know it, is a mental concept, an intellectual response to God’s self-revelation. It is an answer to a question, the reply God makes to our interrogation concerning himself.

What is God like? What kind of God is He? How may we expect Him to act toward us and toward all created things? Such questions are not merely academic. They touch the far-in reaches of the human spirit, and their answers affect life and character and destiny.

When asked in reverence and their answers sought in humility, these are questions that cannot but be pleasing to our Father which art in heaven. ”For He willeth that we be occupied in knowing and loving,” wrote Julian of Norwich, ”till the time that we shall be fulfilled in heaven.... For of all things the beholding and the loving of the Maker maketh the soul to seem less in his own sight, and most filleth him with reverent dread and true meekness; with plenty of charity for his fellow Christians. ”To our questions God has provided answers; not all the answers, certainly, but enough to satisfy our intellects and ravish our hearts. These answers He has provided in nature, in the Scriptures, and in the person of His Son.

The idea that God reveals Himself in the creation is not held with much vigor by modern Christians; but it is, nevertheless, set forth in the inspired Word, especially in the writings of David and Isaiah in the Old Testament and in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans in the New. In the Holy Scriptures the revelation is clearer:

The heavens declare Thy glory, Lord,
In every star Thy wisdom shines;
But when our eyes behold Thy Word,
We read Thy name in fairer lines.
Isaac Watts

And it is a sacred and indispensable part of the Christian message that the full sun-blaze of revelation came at the incarnation when the Eternal Word became flesh to dwell among us.

Though God in this threefold revelation has provided answers to our questions concerning Him, the answers by no means lie on the surface. They must be sought by prayer, by long meditation on the written Word, and by earnest and well-disciplined labor. However brightly the light may shine, it can be seen only by those who are spiritually prepared to receive it.
”Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

If we would think accurately about the attributes of God, we must learn to reject certain words that are sure to come crowding into our minds - such words as trait, characteristic, quality, words which are proper and necessary when we are considering created beings but altogether inappropriate when we are thinking about God. We must break ourselves of the habit of thinking of the Creator as we think of His creatures. It is probably impossible to think without words, but if we permit ourselves to think with the wrong words, we shall soon be entertaining erroneous thoughts; for words, which are given us for the expression of thought, have a habit of going beyond their proper bounds and determining the content of thought. ”As nothing is more easy than to think,” says Thomas Traherne, ”so nothing is more difficult than to think well.” If we ever think well it should be when we think of God.

A man is the sum of his parts and his character the sum of the traits that compose it. These traits vary from man to man and may from time to time vary from themselves within the same man. Human character is not constant because the traits or qualities that constitute it are unstable. These come and go, burn low or glow with great intensity throughout our lives. Thus a man who is kind and considerate at thirty may be cruel and churlish at fifty. Such a change is possible because man is made; he is in a very real sense a composition; he is the sum of the traits that make up his character.

We naturally and correctly think of man as a work wrought by the divine Intelligence. He is both created and made. How he was created lies undisclosed among the secrets of God; how he was brought from no-being to being, from nothing to something is not known and may never be known to any but the One who brought him forth. How God made him, however, is less of a secret, and while we know only a small portion of the whole truth, we do know that man possesses a body, a soul, and a spirit; we know that he has memory, reason, will, intelligence, sensation, and we know that to give these meaning he has the wondrous gift of consciousness. We know, too, that these, together with various qualities of temperament, compose his total human self.

These are gifts from God arranged by infinite wisdom, notes that make up the score of creations loftiest symphony, threads that compose the master tapestry of the universe.

But in all this we are thinking creature-thoughts and using creature-words to express them. Neither such thoughts nor such words are appropriate to the Deity. ”The Father is made of none,” says the Athanasian Creed, ”neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and the Son: not made nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.” God exists in Himself and of Himself. His being He owes to no one. His substance is indivisible. He has no parts but is single in His unitary being.

The doctrine of the divine unity means not only that there is but one God; it means also that God is simple, uncomplex, one with Himself. The harmony of His being is the result not of a perfect balance of parts but of the absence of parts. Between His attributes no contradiction can exist. He need not suspend one to exercise another, for in Him all His attributes are one. All of God does all that God does; He does not divide himself to perform a work, but works in the total unity of His being.

An attribute, then, is a part of God. It is how God is, and as far as the reasoning mind can go, we may say that it is what God is, though, as I have tried to explain, exactly what He is He cannot tell us. Of what God is conscious when He is conscious of self, only He knows. ”The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” Only to an equal could God communicate the mystery of His Godhead; and to think of God as having an equal is to fall into an intellectual absurdity.

The divine attributes are what we know to be true of God. He does not possess them as qualities; they are how God is as He reveals Himself to His creatures. Love, for instance, is not something God has and which may grow or diminish or cease to be. His love is the way God is, and when He loves He is simply being Himself. And so with the other attributes.

One God! one Majesty!
There is no God but Thee!
Unbounded, unextended Unity!
Unfathomable Sea!
All life is out of Thee,
and Thy life is Thy blissful Unity.
Frederick W. Faber

Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer

CHAPTER 2

God Incomprehensible


Lord, how great is our dilemma! In Thy Presence silence best becomes us, but love inflames our hearts and constrains us to speak.


Were we to hold our peace the stones would cry out; yet if we speak, what shall we say? Teach us to know that we cannot know, for the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Let faith support us where reason fails, and we shall think because we believe, not in order that we may believe.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The child, the philosopher, and the religionist have all one question: ”What is God like?”

This book is an attempt to answer that question. Yet at the outset I must acknowledge that it cannot be answered except to say that God is not like anything; that is, He is not exactly like anything or anybody.

We learn by using what we already know as a bridge over which we pass to the unknown. It is not possible for the mind to crash suddenly past the familiar into the totally unfamiliar. Even the most vigorous and daring mind is unable to create something out of nothing by a spontaneous act of imagination. Those strange beings that populate the world of mythology and superstition are not pure creations of fancy. The imagination created them by taking the ordinary inhabitants of earth and air and sea and extending their familiar forms beyond their normal boundaries, or by mixing the forms of two or more so as to produce something new. However beautiful or grotesque these may be, their prototypes can always be identified. They are like something we already know.

The effort of inspired men to express the ineffable has placed a great strain upon both thought and language in the Holy Scriptures. These being often a revelation of a world above nature, and the minds for which they were written being a part of nature, the writers are compelled to use a great many ”like” words to make themselves understood.

When the Spirit would acquaint us with something that lies beyond the field of our knowledge, He tells us that this thing is like something we already know, but He is always careful to phrase His description so as to save us from slavish literalism. For example, when the prophet Ezekiel saw heaven opened and beheld visions of God, he found himself looking at that which he had no language to describe. What he was seeing was wholly different from anything he had ever known before, so he fell back upon the language of resemblance. ”As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire.”

The nearer he approaches to the burning throne the less sure his words become: ”And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it.... This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.”

Strange as this language is, it still does not create the impression of unreality. One gathers that the whole scene is very real but entirely alien to anything men know on earth. So, in order to convey an idea of what he sees, the prophet must employ such words as ”likeness,” ”appearance,” ”as it were,” and ”the likeness of the appearance.” Even the throne becomes ”the appearance of a throne” and He that sits upon it, though like a man, is so unlike one that He can be described only as ”the likeness of the appearance of a man.”

When the Scripture states that man was made in the image of God, we dare not add to that statement an idea from our own head and make it mean ”in the exact image.” To do so is to make man a replica of God, and that is to lose the unicity of God and end with no God at all. It is to break down the wall, infinitely high, that separates That-which-is-God from that-which-is-not-God. To think of creature and Creator as alike in essential being is to rob God of most of His attributes and reduce Him to the status of a creature. It is, for instance, to rob Him of His infinitude: there cannot be two unlimited substances in the universe. It is to take away His sovereignty: there cannot be two absolutely free beings in the universe, for sooner or later two completely free wills must collide. These attributes, to mention no more, require that there be but one to whom they belong.

When we try to imagine what God is like we must of necessity use that-which-is-not-God as the raw material for our minds to work on; hence whatever we visualize God to be, He is not, for we have constructed our image out of that which He has made and what He has made is not God. If we insist upon trying to imagine Him, we end with an idol, made not with hands but with thoughts; and an idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand.

”The intellect knoweth that it is ignorant of Thee,” said Nicholas of Cusa, ”because it knoweth Thou canst not be known, unless the unknowable could be known, and the invisible beheld, and the inaccessible attained.”

”If anyone should set forth any concept by which Thou canst be conceived,” says Nicholas again, ”I know that that concept is not a concept of Thee, for every concept is ended in the wall of Paradise.... So too, if any were to tell of the understanding of Thee, wishing to supply a means whereby Thou mightest be understood, this man is yet far from Thee.... forasmuch as Thou art absolute above all the concepts which any man can frame.”

Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms. We want to get Him where we can use Him, or at least know where He is when we need Him. We want a God we can in some measure control. We need the feeling of security that comes from knowing what God is like, and what He is like is of course a composite of all the religious pictures we have seen, all the best people we have known or heard about, and all the sublime ideas we have entertained.

If all this sounds strange to modern ears, it is only because we have for a full half century taken God for granted. The glory of God has not been revealed to this generation of men. The God of contemporary Christianity is only slightly superior to the gods of Greece and Rome, if indeed He is not actually inferior to them in that He is weak and helpless while they at least had power.

If what we conceive God to be He is not, how then shall we think of Him? If He is indeed incomprehensible, as the Creed declares Him to be, and unapproachable, as Paul says He is, how can we Christians satisfy our longing after Him? The hopeful words, ”Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace,” still stand after the passing of the centuries; but how shall we acquaint ourselves with One who eludes all the straining efforts of mind and heart? And how shall we be held accountable to know what cannot be known?

”Canst thou by searching find out God?” asks Zophar the Naamathite; ”canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?” ”Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son,” said our Lord, ”and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” The Gospel according to John reveals the helplessness of the human mind before the great Mystery which is God, and Paul in First Corinthians teaches that God can be known only as the Holy Spirit performs in the seeking heart an act of self-disclosure.

The yearning to know What cannot be known, to comprehend the Incomprehensible, to touch and taste the Unapproachable, arises from the image of God in the nature of man. Deep calleth unto deep, and though polluted and landlocked by the mighty disaster theologians call the Fall, the soul senses its origin and longs to return to its Source. How can this be realized?

The answer of the Bible is simply ”through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In Christ and by Christ, God effects complete self-disclosure, although He shows Himself not to reason but to faith and love. Faith is an organ of knowledge, and love an organ of experience. God came to us in the incarnation; in atonement He reconciled us to Himself, and by faith and love we enter and lay hold on Him.

”Verily God is of infinite greatness,” says Christ’s enraptured troubadour, Richard Rolle; ”more than we can think; ... unknowable by created things; and can never be comprehended by us as He is in Himself. But even here and now, whenever the heart begins to burn with a desire for God, she is made able to receive the uncreated light and, inspired and fulfilled by the gifts of the Holy Ghost, she tastes the joys of heaven. She transcends all visible things and is raised to the sweetness of eternal life....

Herein truly is perfect love; when all the intent of the mind, all the secret working of the heart, is lifted up into the love of God.”’

That God can be known by the soul in tender personal experience while remaining infinitely aloof from the curious eyes of reason constitutes a paradox best described as

Darkness to the intellect
But sunshine to the heart.
Frederick W. Faber

The author of the celebrated little work The Cloud of Unknowing develops this thesis throughout his book. In approaching God, he says, the seeker discovers that the divine Being dwells in obscurity, hidden behind a cloud of unknowing; nevertheless he should not be discouraged but set his will with a naked intent unto God. This cloud is between the seeker and God so that he may never see God clearly by the light of understanding nor feel Him in the emotions. But by the mercy of God faith can break through into His Presence if the seeker but believe the Word and press on.

Michael de Molinos, the Spanish saint, taught the same thing. In his Spiritual Guide he says that God will take the soul by the hand and lead her through the way of pure faith, ”and causing the understanding to leave behind all considerations and reasonings He draws her forward.... Thus He causes her by means of a simple and obscure knowledge of faith to aspire only to her Bridegroom upon the wings of love.”

For these and similar teachings Molinos was condemned as a heretic by the Inquisition and sentenced to life imprisonment. He soon died in prison, but the truth he taught can never die. Speaking of the Christian soul he says: ”Let her suppose that all the whole world and the most refined conceptions of the wisest intellects can tell her nothing, and that the goodness and beauty of her Beloved infinitely surpass all their knowledge, being persuaded that all creatures are too rude to inform her and to conduct her to the true knowledge of God.... She ought then to go forward with her love, leaving all her understanding behind. Let her love God as He is in Himself, and not as her imagination says He is, and pictures Him.”

”What is God like?” If by that question we mean ”What is God like in Himself?” there is no answer. If we mean ”What has God disclosed about Himself that the reverent reason can comprehend?” there is, I believe, an answer both full and satisfying. For while the name of God is secret and His essential nature incomprehensible, He in condescending love has by revelation declared certain things to be true of Himself. These we call His attributes.

Sovereign Father, heavenly King,
Thee we now presume to sing;
Glad thine attributes confess,
Glorious all, and numberless.
Charles Wesley

Friday, September 15, 2006

9/11: Press for Truth

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1016720641536424083

The above link will take you to a video that needs to be watched by every American who is really interested in the truth about the 9/11 attack.

I have been saying for years that CIA sponsored terrorism across the globe is a reality. Interestingly, in this video, the documentation re the CIA support of the Pakistani ISI is provided as well as the ISI's funding of at least one of the hijackers of the 9/11 attack.

Will we ever understand?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

There Is Fascism, Indeed

By Keith Olbermann
MSNBC

Wednesday 30 August 2006

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld's remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis-and the sober contemplation-of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence - indeed, the loyalty - of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants - our employees - with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration's track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life's blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as "his" troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld's speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril-with a growing evil-powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld's, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the "secret information." It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld's - questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England's, in the 1930's.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions - its own omniscience - needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all - it "knew" that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic's name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History - and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England - have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty - and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute - and exclusive - in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today's Omniscient ones.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count - not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience - about Osama Bin Laden's plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein's weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina's impact one year ago - we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their "omniscience" as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have - inadvertently or intentionally - profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer's New Clothes?

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The confusion we - as its citizens- must now address, is stark and forbidding.

But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note - with hope in your heart - that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld's other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism."

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that - though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed: "confused" or "immoral."

Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," he said, in 1954. "We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular."

And so good night, and good luck.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In Honor of the Memory of 9/11: This Hole in the Ground by Kieth Olberman

This is the transcript to Kieth Olberman's commentary aired last nite on MSNBC. Rarely have I heard a more poignant insightful public statement. The words say it all. (Editor)

"Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and -- as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul -- two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.

And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this.

Five years later this space is still empty.

Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.

Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.

Five years later this country's wound is still open.

Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.

Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.

It is beyond shameful.



At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial -- barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field -- Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.

Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.

Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.

And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President -- and those around him -- did that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."

Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.

Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.

Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.

Yet what is happening this very night?

A mini-series, created, influenced -- possibly financed by -- the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.

The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.

How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you -- or those around you -- ever "spin" 9/11?

Just as the terrorists have succeeded -- are still succeeding -- as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero.

So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.

This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."

In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car -- and only his car -- starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot -- but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."

And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children, and the children yet unborn."

When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?

We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

You have.

May this country forgive you."

Sept. 11, 2006 | 3:19 p.m. ET

Saturday, September 09, 2006

On the Big Government Nanny Mentality

HON. RON PAUL OF TEXAS
Before the U.S. House of Representatives

September 7, 2006

Big Government Solutions Don't Work/ The Law of Opposites

Politicians throughout history have tried to solve every problem conceivable to man, always failing to recognize that many of the problems we face result from previous so-called political solutions. Government cannot be the answer to every human ill. Continuing to view more government as the solution to problems will only make matters worse.

Not too long ago, I spoke on this floor about why I believe Americans are so angry in spite of rosy government economic reports. The majority of Americans are angry, disgusted, and frustrated that so little is being done in Congress to solve their problems. The fact is a majority of American citizens expect the federal government to provide for every need, without considering whether government causes many economic problems in the first place. This certainly is an incentive for politicians to embrace the role of omnipotent problem solvers, since nobody asks first whether they, the politicians themselves, are at fault.

At home I’m frequently asked about my frustration with Congress, since so many reform proposals go unheeded. I jokingly reply, “No, I’m never frustrated, because I have such low expectations.” But the American people have higher expectations, and without forthcoming solutions, are beyond frustrated with their government.

If solutions to America’s problems won’t be found in the frequent clamor for more government, it’s still up to Congress to explain how our problems develop-- and how solutions can be found in an atmosphere of liberty, private property, and a free market order. It’s up to us to demand radical change from our failed policy of foreign military interventionism. Robotic responses to the clich├ęs of big government intervention in our lives are unbecoming to members who were elected to offer ideas and solutions. We must challenge the status quo of our economic and political system.

Many things have contributed to the mess we’re in. Bureaucratic management can never compete with the free market in solving problems. Central economic planning doesn’t work. Just look at the failed systems of the 20th century. Welfarism is an example of central economic planning. Paper money, money created out of thin air to accommodate welfarism and government deficits, is not only silly, it’s unconstitutional. No matter how hard the big spenders try to convince us otherwise, deficits do matter. But lowering the deficit through higher taxes won’t solve anything.

Nothing will change in Washington until it’s recognized that the ultimate driving force behind most politicians is obtaining and holding power. And money from special interests drives the political process. Money and power are important only because the government wields power not granted by the Constitution. A limited, constitutional government would not tempt special interests to buy the politicians who wield power. The whole process feeds on itself. Everyone is rewarded by ignoring constitutional restraints, while expanding and complicating the entire bureaucratic state.

Even when it’s recognized that we’re traveling down the wrong path, the lack of political courage and the desire for reelection results in ongoing support for the pork-barrel system that serves special interests. A safe middle ground, a don’t-rock-the-boat attitude, too often is rewarded in Washington, while meaningful solutions tend to offend those who are in charge of the gigantic PAC/lobbyist empire that calls the shots in Washington. Most members are rewarded by reelection for accommodating and knowing how to work the system.

Though there’s little difference between the two parties, the partisan fights are real. Instead of debates about philosophy, the partisan battles are about who will wield the gavels. True policy debates are rare; power struggles are real and ruthless. And yet we all know that power corrupts.

Both parties agree on monetary, fiscal, foreign and entitlement policies. Unfortunately, neither party has much concern for civil liberties. Both parties are split over trade, with mixed debates between outright protectionists and those who endorse government-managed trade agreements that masquerade as “free trade.” It’s virtually impossible to find anyone who supports hands-off free trade, defended by the moral right of all citizens to spend their money as they see fit, without being subject any special interest.

The big government nanny-state is based on the assumption that free markets can’t provide the maximum good for the largest number of people. It assumes people are not smart or responsible enough to take care of themselves, and thus their needs must be filled through the government’s forcible redistribution of wealth. Our system of intervention assumes that politicians and bureaucrats have superior knowledge, and are endowed with certain talents that produce efficiency. These assumptions don’t seem to hold much water, of course, when we look at agencies like FEMA. Still, we expect the government to manage monetary and economic policy, the medical system, and the educational system, and then wonder why we have problems with the cost and efficiency of all these programs.

On top of this, the daily operation of Congress reflects the power of special interests, not the will of the people- regardless of which party is in power.

Critically important legislation comes up for votes late in the evening, leaving members little chance to read or study the bills. Key changes are buried in conference reports, often containing new legislation not even mentioned in either the House or Senate versions.

Conferences were meant to compromise two different positions in the House and Senate bills-- not to slip in new material that had not been mentioned in either bill.

Congress spends hundreds of billions of dollars in “emergency” supplemental bills to avoid the budgetary rules meant to hold down the deficit. Wartime spending money is appropriated and attached to emergency relief funds, making it difficult for politicians to resist.

The principle of the pork barrel is alive and well, and it shows how huge appropriations are passed easily with supporters of the system getting their share for their district.

Huge omnibus spending bills, introduced at the end of the legislative year, are passed without scrutiny. No one individual knows exactly what is in the bill.

In the process, legitimate needs and constitutional responsibilities are frequently ignored. Respect for private property rights is ignored. Confidence in the free market is lost or misunderstood. Our tradition of self-reliance is mocked as archaic.

Lack of real choice in economic and personal decisions is commonplace. It seems that too often the only choice we’re given is between prohibitions or subsidies. Never is it said, “Let the people decide on things like stem cell research or alternative medical treatments.”

Nearly everyone endorses exorbitant taxation; the only debate is about who should pay—either tax the producers and the rich or tax the workers and the poor through inflation and outsourcing jobs.

Both politicians and the media place blame on everything except bad policy authored by Congress. Scapegoats are needed, since there’s so much blame to go around and so little understanding as to why we’re in such a mess.

In 1920s and 1930s Europe, as the financial system collapsed and inflation raged, it was commonplace to blame the Jews. Today in America the blame is spread out: Illegal immigrants, Muslims, big business (whether they get special deals from the government or not), price gouging oil companies (regardless of the circumstances), and labor unions. Ignorance of economics and denial of the political power system that prevails in D.C. make it possible for Congress to shift blame.

Since we’re not on the verge of mending our ways, the problems will worsen and the blame games will get much more vicious. Shortchanging a large segment of our society surely will breed conflict that could get out of control. This is a good reason for us to cast aside politics as usual and start finding some reliable answers to our problems.

Politics as usual is aided by the complicity of the media. Economic ignorance, bleeding heart emotionalism, and populist passion pervade our major networks and cable channels. This is especially noticeable when the establishment seeks to unify the people behind an illegal, unwise war. The propaganda is well-coordinated by the media/government/military/industrial complex. This collusion is worse than when state- owned media do the same thing. In countries where everyone knows the media produces government propaganda, people remain wary of what they hear. In the United States the media are considered free and independent, thus the propaganda is accepted with less questioning.

One of the major reasons we’ve drifted from the Founders vision of liberty in the Constitution was the division of the concept of freedom into two parts. Instead of freedom being applied equally to social and economic transactions, it has come to be thought of as two different concepts. Some in Congress now protect economic liberty and market choices, but ignore personal liberty and private choices. Others defend personal liberty, but concede the realm of property and economic transactions to government control.

There should be no distinction between commercial speech and political speech. With no consistent moral defense of true liberty, the continued erosion of personal and property rights is inevitable. This careless disregard for liberty, our traditions, and the Constitution have brought us disaster, with a foreign policy of military interventionism supported by the leadership of both parties. Hopefully, some day this will be radically changed.

The Law of Opposites

Everyone is aware of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Most members of Congress understand that government actions can have unintended consequences, yet few quit voting for government “solutions” -- always hoping there won’t be any particular unintended consequences this time. They keep hoping there will be less harmful complications from the “solution” that they currently support. Free market economics teaches that for every government action to solve an economic problem, two new ones are created. The same unwanted results occur with foreign policy meddling.

The Law of Opposites is just a variation of the Law of Unintended Consequences. When we attempt to achieve a certain goal-- like, “make the world safe for democracy,” a grandiose scheme of World War I-- one can be sure the world will become less safe and less democratic regardless of the motivation.

The 1st World War was sold to the American people as the war to end all wars. Instead, history shows it was the war that caused the 20th century to be the most war-torn century in history. Our entry into World War I helped lead us into World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Even our current crisis in the Middle East can be traced to the great wars of the 20th century. Though tens of millions of deaths are associated with these wars, we haven’t learned a thing.

We went into Korea by direction of the United Nations, not a congressional declaration of war, to unify Korea. And yet that war ensured that Korea remains divided to this day; our troops are still there. South Korea today is much more willing to reconcile differences with North Korea, and yet we obstruct such efforts. It doesn’t make much sense.

We went into Vietnam and involved ourselves unnecessarily in a civil war to bring peace and harmony to that country. We lost 60,000 troops and spent hundreds of billions of dollars, yet failed to achieve victory. Ironically, since losing in Vietnam we now have a better relationship with them than ever. We now trade, invest, travel, and communicate with a unified, western-leaning country that is catching on rather quickly to capitalist ways. This policy, not military confrontation, is exactly what the Constitution permits and the Founders encouraged in our relationship with others.

This policy should apply to both friends and perceived enemies. Diplomacy and trade can accomplish goals that military intervention cannot-- and they certainly are less costly.

In both instances--Korea and Vietnam-- neither country attacked us, and neither country posed a threat to our security. In neither case did we declare war. All of the fighting and killing was based on lies, miscalculations, and the failure to abide by constitutional restraint with regards to war.

When goals are couched in terms of humanitarianism, sincere or not, the results are inevitably bad. Foreign interventionism requires the use of force. First, the funds needed to pursue a particular policy require that taxes be forcibly imposed on the American people, either directly or indirectly through inflation. Picking sides in foreign countries only increases the chances of antagonism toward us. Too often foreign economic and military support means impoverishing the poor in America and enhancing the rich ruling classes in poor countries. When sanctions are used against one undesirable regime, it squelches resistance to the very regimes we’re trying to undermine. Forty years of sanctions against Castro have left him in power, and fomented continued hatred and blame from the Cuban people directed at us. Trade with Cuba likely would have accomplished the opposite, as it has in Vietnam, China, and even in the Eastern Block nations of the old Soviet empire.

We spend billions of dollars in Afghanistan and Colombia to curtail drug production. No evidence exists that it helps. In fact, drug production and corruption have increased. We close our eyes to it because the reasons we’re in Colombia and Afghanistan are denied.

Obviously, we are not putting forth the full effort required to capture Osama bin Laden. Instead, our occupation of Afghanistan further inflames the Muslim radicals that came of age with their fierce resistance to the Soviet occupation of a Muslim country. Our occupation merely serves as a recruiting device for al Qaeda, which has promised retaliation for our presence in their country. We learned nothing after first allying ourselves with Osama bin Laden when he applied this same logic toward the Soviets. The net result of our invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been to miss capturing bin Laden, assist al Qaeda’s recruitment, stimulate more drug production, lose hundreds of American lives, and allow spending billions of American taxpayer dollars with no end in sight.

Bankruptcy seems to be the only way we will reconsider the foolishness of this type of occupation. It’s time for us to wake up.

Our policy toward Iran for the past 50 years is every bit as disconcerting. It makes no sense unless one concedes that our government is manipulated by those who seek physical control over the vast oil riches of the Middle East and egged on by Israel’s desires.

We have attacked the sovereignty of Iran on two occasions, and are in the process of threatening her for the third time. In 1953, the U.S. and British overthrew the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh and installed the Shah. His brutal regime lasted over 25 years, and ended with the Ayatollah taking power in 1979. Our support for the Shah incited the radicalization of the Shiite Clerics in Iran, resulting in the hostage takeover.

In the 1980s we provided weapons-- including poisonous gas-- to Saddam Hussein as we supported his invasion of Iran. These events are not forgotten by the Iranians, who see us once again looking for another confrontation with them. We insist that the UN ignore the guarantees under the NPT that grant countries like Iran the right to enrich uranium. The pressure on the UN and the threats we cast toward Iran are quite harmful to the cause of peace. They are entirely unnecessary and serve no useful purpose. Our policy toward Iran is much more likely to result in her getting a nuclear weapon than prevent it.

Our own effort at democratizing Iran has resulted instead in radicalizing a population whose instincts are to like Americans and our economic system. Our meddling these past 50 years has only served to alienate and unify the entire country against us.

Though our officials only see Iran as an enemy, as does Israel, our policies in the Middle East these past 5 years have done wonders to strengthen Iran’s political and military position in the region. We have totally ignored serious overtures by the Iranians to negotiate with us before hostilities broke out in Iraq in 2003. Both immediately after 9/11, and especially at the time of our invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran, partially out of fear and realism, honestly sought reconciliation and offered to help the U.S. in its battle against al Qaeda. They were rebuked outright. Now Iran is negotiating from a much stronger position, principally as a result of our overall Middle East policy.

We accommodated Iran by severely weakening the Taliban in Afghanistan on Iran’s eastern borders. On Iran’s western borders we helped the Iranians by eliminating their arch enemy, Saddam Hussein. Our invasion in Iraq and the resulting chaos have inadvertently delivered up a large portion of Iraq to the Iranians, as the majority Shiites in Iraq ally themselves with Iranians.

The U.S./Israeli plan to hit Hezbollah in Lebanon before taking on Iran militarily has totally backfired. Now Hezbollah, an ally of Iran, has been made stronger than ever with the military failure to rout Hezbollah from southern Lebanon. Before the U.S./Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Hezbollah was supported by 20% of the population, now it’s revered by 80%. A democratic election in Lebanon cannot now serve the interest of the U.S. or Israel. It would only support the cause of radical clerics in Iran.

Demanding an election in Palestinian Gaza resulted in enhancing the power of Hamas. The U.S. and Israel promptly rejected the results. So much for our support for democratically elected government.

Our support for dictatorial Arab leaders is a thorn in the side of the large Muslim population in the Middle East, and one of the main reasons Osama bin Laden declared war against us. We talk of democracy and self-determination, but the masses of people in the Middle East see through our hypocrisy when we support the Sunni secular dictators in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan and at one time, Saddam Hussein.

In the late 1970s and the 1980s the CIA spent over $4 billion on a program called “Operation Cyclone.” This was our contribution to setting up training schools in Pakistan and elsewhere, including the U.S. itself, to teach “sabotage skills.” The purpose was to use these individuals in fighting our enemies in the Middle East, including the Soviets. But as one could predict, this effort has come back to haunt us, as our radical ally Osama bin Laden turned his fury against us after routing the Soviets. It is estimated that over 12,000 fighters were trained in the camps we set up in Afghanistan. They were taught how to make bombs, carry out sabotage, and use guerilla war tactics. And now we’re on the receiving end of this U.S. financed program-- hardly a good investment.

It’s difficult to understand why our policy makers aren’t more cautious in their efforts to police the world, once it’s realized how unsuccessful we have been. It seems they always hope that next time our efforts won’t come flying back in our face.

Our failed efforts in Iraq continue to drain our resources, costing us dearly both in lives lost and dollars spent. And there’s no end in sight. No consideration is given for rejecting our obsession with a worldwide military presence, which rarely if ever directly enhances our security. A much stronger case can be made that our policy of protecting our worldwide interests actually does the opposite by making us weaker, alienating our allies, inciting more hatred, and provoking our enemies. The more we have interfered in the Middle East in the last 50 years, the greater the danger has become for an attack on us. The notion that Arab/Muslim radicals are motivated to attack us because of our freedoms and prosperity, and not our unwelcome presence in their countries, is dangerous and silly.

We were told we needed to go into Iraq because our old ally, Saddam Hussein, had weapons of mass destruction-- yet no weapons of mass destruction were found.

We were told we needed to occupy Iraq to remove al Qaeda, yet al Qaeda was nowhere to be found and now it’s admitted it had nothing to do with 9/11. Yet today, Iraq is infested with al Qaeda-- achieving exactly the opposite of what we sought to do.

We were told that we needed to secure “our oil” to protect our economy and to pay for our invasion and occupation. Instead, the opposite has resulted: Oil production is down, oil prices are up, and no oil profits have been used to pay the bills.

We were told that a regime change in Iraq would help us in our long-time fight with Iran, yet everything we have done in Iraq has served the interests of Iran.

We’re being told in a threatening and intimidating fashion that, “If America were to pull out before Iraq could defend itself, the consequences would be absolutely predictable and absolutely disastrous.” I’m convinced that the Law of Opposites could well apply here. Going into Iraq we know produced exactly the opposite results of what was predicted: Leaving also likely will have results opposite of those we’re being frightened with. Certainly leaving Vietnam at the height of the Cold War did not result in the disaster predicted by the advocates of the Domino Theory-- an inevitable Communist takeover of the entire Far East.

We’re constantly being told that we cannot abandon Iraq and we are obligated to stay forever if necessary. This admonition is similar to a rallying cry from a determined religious missionary bent on proselytizing to the world with a particular religious message. Conceding that leaving may not be a panacea for Iraqi tranquility, this assumption ignores two things. One, our preemptive war ignited the Iraqi civil war, and two, abandoning the Iraqi people is not the question. The real question is whether or not we should abandon the American people by forcing them to pay for an undeclared war with huge economic and human costs, while placing our national security in greater jeopardy by ignoring our borders and serious problems here at home.

In our attempt to make Iraq a better place, we did great harm to Iraqi Christians. Before our invasion in 2003 there were approximately 1.2 million living in Iraq. Since then over half have been forced to leave due to persecution and violence. Many escaped to Syria. With the neo-cons wanting to attack Syria, how long will they be safe there? The answer to the question, “Aren’t we better off without Saddam Hussein,” is not an automatic yes for Iraqi Christians.

We’ve been told for decades that our policy of militarism and preemption in the Middle East is designed to provide security for Israel. Yet a very strong case can be made that Israel is more vulnerable than ever, with moderate Muslims being challenged by a growing majority of Islamic radicals. As the invincibility of the American and Israeli military becomes common knowledge, Israel’s security is diminished and world opinion turns against her, especially after the failed efforts to remove the Hezbollah threat.

We were told that attacking and eliminating Hezbollah was required to diminish the Iranian threat against Israel. The results again were the opposite. This failed effort has only emboldened Iran.

The lack of success of conventional warfare-- the U.S. in Vietnam, the Soviets in Afghanistan, the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel in Lebanon-- should awaken our policy makers to our failure in war and diplomacy. Yet all we propose are bigger bombs and more military force for occupation, rather than working to understand an entirely new generation of modern warfare.

Many reasons are given for our preemptive wars and military approach for spreading the American message of freedom and prosperity, which is an obvious impossibility. Our vital interests are always cited for justification, and it’s inferred that those who do not support our militancy are unpatriotic. Yet the opposite is actually the case: Wise resistance to one’s own government doing bad things requires a love of country, devotion to idealism, and respect for the Rule of Law.

In attempting to build an artificial and unwelcome Iraqi military, the harder we try, the more money we spend, and the more lives we lose, the stronger the real armies of Iraq become: the Sunni insurgency, the Bardr Brigade, the Sardr Mahdi Army, and the Kurdish militia.

The Kurds have already taken a bold step in this direction by hoisting a Kurdish flag and removing the Iraqi flag-- a virtual declaration of independence. Natural local forces are winning out over outside political forces.

We’re looking in all the wrong places for an Iraqi army to bring stability to that country. The people have spoken and these troops that represent large segments of the population need no training. It’s not a lack of training, weapons, or money that hinders our efforts to create a new superior Iraqi military. It’s the lack of inspiration and support for such an endeavor that is missing. Developing borders and separating the various factions, which our policy explicitly prohibits, is the basic flaw in our plan for a forced, unified, western-style democracy for Iraq. Allowing self-determination for different regions is the only way to erase the artificial nature of Iraq-- an Iraq designed by western outsiders nearly 80 years ago. It’s our obsession with control of the oil in the region, and imposing our will on the Middle East, and accommodating the demands of Israel that is the problem. And the American people are finally getting sick and tired of their sacrifices. It’s time to stop the bleeding.

Instead we continue to hear the constant agitation for us to confront the Iranians with military action. Reasons to attack Iran make no more sense than our foolish preemptive war against Iraq. Fictitious charges and imaginary dangers are used to frighten the American people into accepting an attack on Iran. First it may only be sanctions, but later it will be bombs and possible ground troops if the neo-cons have their way. Many of the chicken-hawk neo-conservative advisors to the administration are highly critical of our current policy because it’s not aggressive enough. They want more troops in Iraq, they want to attack Syria and Iran, and escalate the conflict in Lebanon.

We have a troop shortage, morale is low, and our military equipment is in bad shape, yet the neo-cons would not hesitate to spend, borrow, inflate, and reinstate the draft to continue their grandiose schemes in remaking the entire Middle East. Obviously a victory of this sort is not available, no matter what effort is made or how much money is spent.

Logic would tell us there’s no way we will contemplate taking on Iran at this time. But logic did not prevail with our Iraq policy, and look at the mess we have there. Besides, both sides, the neo-con extremists and the radical Islamists, are driven by religious fervor. Both are convinced that God is on their side-- a strange assumption since theologically it’s the same God.

Both sides of the war in the Middle East are driven by religious beliefs of omnipotence. Both sides endorse an eschatological theory regarding the forthcoming end of time. Both anticipate the return of God personified and as promised to each. Both sides are driven by a conviction of perfect knowledge regarding the Creator, and though we supposedly worship the same God, each sees the other side as completely wrong and blasphemous. The religiously driven Middle East war condemns tolerance of the other’s view. Advocates of restraint and the use of diplomacy are ridiculed as appeasers, and equivalent to supporting Nazism and considered un-American and un-Christian.

I find it amazing that we in this country seem determined to completely separate religious expression and the state, even to the detriment of the 1st Amendment. Yet we can say little about how Christian and Jewish religious beliefs greatly influences our policies in the Middle East. It should be the other way around. Religious expression, according to the 1st Amendment, cannot be regulated anywhere by Congress or the federal courts. But deeply held theological beliefs should never dictate our foreign policy. Being falsely accused of anti-Semitism and being a supporter of radical fascism is not an enviable position for any politician. Most realize it’s best to be quiet and support our Middle East involvement.

Believing we have perfect knowledge of God’s will, and believing government can manage our lives and world affairs, have caused a great deal of problems for man over the ages. When these two elements are combined they become especially dangerous. Liberty, by contrast, removes power from government and allows total freedom of choice in pursuing one’s religious beliefs. The only solution to controlling political violence is to prohibit the use of force to pursue religious goals and reject government authority to mold the behavior of individuals.

Both are enamored with the so-called benefit that chaos offers to those promoting revolutionary changes. Both sides in situations like this always underestimate the determination of the opposition, and ignore the law of unintended consequences. They never consider that these policies might backfire.

Declaring war against Islamic fascism or terrorism is vague and meaningless. This enemy we’re fighting at the expense of our own liberties is purposely indefinable. Therefore the government will exercise wartime powers indefinitely. We’ve been fully warned to expect a long, long war.

The Islamic fascists are almost impossible to identify and cannot be targeted by our conventional weapons. Those who threaten us essentially are unarmed and stateless. Comparing them to Nazi Germany, a huge military power, is ridiculous. Labeling them as a unified force is a mistake. It’s critical that we figure out why a growing number of Muslims are radicalized to the point of committing suicide terrorism against us. Our presence in their countries represents a failed policy that makes us less safe, not more.

These guerilla warriors do not threaten us with tanks, gunboats, fighter planes, missiles, or nuclear weapons, nor do they have a history of aggression against the United States. Our enemy’s credibility depends instead on the popular goal of ending our occupation of their country.

We must not forget that the 9/11 terrorists came principally from Saudi Arabia, not Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, or Syria. Iran has never in modern times invaded her neighbors, yet we worry obsessively that she may develop a nuclear weapon someday. Never mind that a radicalized Pakistan has nuclear weapons; our friend Musharraf won’t lift a finger against Bin Laden, who most likely is hiding there. Our only defense against this emerging nuclear threat has been to use, and threaten to use, weapons that do not meet the needs of this new and different enemy.

Since resistance against the Iraq war is building here at home, hopefully it won’t be too long before we abandon our grandiose scheme to rule the entire Middle East through intimidation and military confrontation.

Economic law eventually will prevail. Runaway military and entitlement spending cannot be sustained. We can tax the private economy only so much, and borrowing from foreigners is limited by the total foreign debt and our current account deficit. It will be difficult to continue this spending spree without significantly higher interest rates and further devaluation of the dollar. This all spells more trouble for our economy and certainly higher inflation. Our industrial base is shattered and our borders remain open to those who exploit our reeling entitlement system.

Economic realities will prevail, regardless of the enthusiasm by most members of Congress for a continued expansion of the welfare state and support for our dangerously aggressive foreign policy. The welfare/warfare state will come to an end when the dollar fails and the money simply runs out.

The overriding goal should then be to rescue our constitutional liberties, which have been steadily eroded by those who claim that sacrificing civil liberties is required and legitimate in times of war-- even the undeclared and vague war we’re currently fighting.

A real solution to our problems will require a better understanding of, and greater dedication to, free markets and private property rights. It can’t be done without restoring a sound, asset-backed currency. If we hope to restore any measure of constitutional government, we must abandon the policy of policing the world and keeping troops in every corner of the earth. Our liberties and our prosperity depend on it.