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Mark Zuckerberg is slated to appear before Congress this week, and most observers anticipate that he will be filleted, skewered, and roasted before it’s all over. Facebook is at once a great success story and a scary success story. And at the top of the Facebook mountain is just the one man yet, riding herd on an ocean of personal data and user profiles that have already proven to be woefully vulnerable to theft, abuse, and other nefarious political ends. From what I have been hearing from both sides of the political aisle, it is almost certain that Congress will see the need for regulating Facebook and other social media giants the same way we have long managed and regulated phone companies and utilities like gas and electric providers as well as transportation providers like airlines and train services like Amtrak. When something is this big, this pervasive and inevitably involves so many people, it’s unwise to leave it in the unregulated, largely unaccountable hands of only a few (or of one).
The irony of all this is that it coincides with some significant political woes for EPA chief Scott Pruitt. But Pruitt seems safe for the moment–as does Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke–because both are heroes to many people because they are the great deregulators. The President loves Pruitt because he continues to roll back environmental regulation after regulation. True, as a New York Times story reported, it’s mostly being done so sloppily and haphazardly that it cannot stand up to the scrutiny of most judges. But the point is to get rid of all those business-stifling regulations on mercury being dumped into waterways, emissions from vehicles, health-threatening pesticides or the amount of lead in paints. It’s a well-known fact that Mr. Pruitt has traditionally hated the very agency he now heads. Small wonder it seems now less the Environmental Protection Agency and more the Business Protection Agency.
The thought seems to be that regulations are almost always bad for business. And anyway, in a free market economy we need to trust corporations and CEOs and the like to do the right thing when it comes to protecting the environment. Who is the government to suggest prudent use of pesticides, safe levels of lead in drinking water or lead in paint products, or safe emissions from factories and their smokestacks? Just let business proceed unregulated and people will generally do the right thing.
I have had this argument with fellow Christians for years. What amazes me is that some of the same people who will insist the loudest that Total Depravity is a reality among fallen creatures are some of the same folks who also somehow believe that such depravity goes off duty and gets replaced with some inexplicable level of virtue and selflessness on the part of business folks who need to figure out what to do with leftover mercury or other toxic, sludgy byproducts of their manufacturing processes. Somehow we pivot from saying “We are woeful sinners prone to all manner of evil” to saying “Except for businesses that will pretty much always do the right thing when it comes to protecting the environment, children’s health, our drinking water, the air we breathe, and so on.”
As they say on Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the others.”
But look: I have no doubt that governments sometimes overreach and impose regulatory statutes that are unnecessary and genuinely prevent some businesses from thriving. I guess you’d have to argue them on a case by case basis when you come right down to it so I do not intend to paint with too wide a brush here. But I am mystified by the attitude among fellow Christians that especially when it comes to God’s creation, most all environmental regulations are bad and thus anyone who, like Scott Pruitt, spends his days peeling them back are somehow heroic figures.
When you read the Pentateuch and especially Leviticus, it is interesting to note how often God’s laws for Israel included regulations on the use of the land. The land and the animals and the birds are included in Sabbath laws and the land is also to be given a rest on sabbath years and in the once-every-fifty-years Jubilee as well. Of course, Israel mostly did not follow those laws and so by the time you get to the Minor Prophets, the land itself is depicted as rebelling against Israel for its carelessness and recklessness even as the leaders of Israel are upbraided for being so in love with commerce and business that they cannot wait for the Sabbath to be over every week so they can get back to making money. “‘When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?’–skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales” (Amos 8:5).
If it may be worth regulating Facebook to protect my user profile and personal data, it is surely worth it on a regular basis to protect God’s good creation. That’s what being stewards means, tending and keeping the earth for the sake of the God who loved it so much, he sent the Son of God who had spoken that creation into being in the beginning to die in order to redeem it all into what will one day be a wonderful New Creation. Seems to me that one of the myriad things that points to is the idea that in a fallen world where the creation groans, our attitude toward environmental regulations should be a lot warmer than it sometimes seems to be.
I don’t know why anyone trusts business very much after the long string of scandals that began with the S&L problems of the 1980s, goes on through the Enron decade, and culminates with the Wall Street collapse of 2008. Bob Eames wondered about this in the Banner a year of so ago, but business people have short memories about this stuff, and underestimate the impact it has on the public. If there were real competition in markets that would be one thing. but most of the time competition does not effectively restrain behavior.
“Inexplicable level of virtue and selflessness on the part of business folks…”
Who says this? Is this perhaps a straw man argument? Please try to have some empathy and understanding for other’s points of view.
Here is my response: Free-market capitalism with appropriate government oversight is the best system known to promote both human flourishing and Creation stewardship. If properly instituted, it rewards good behavior, punishes bad behavior, and, most importantly, let’s the Church be the Church. Currently, I think our society relies too much on government and not on free-market competition, and certainly not on the Church. In many of the most prominent scandals we have seen (S&L, Mortgage Backed Securities, Flint Water Crisis), government was a central cause of the problem.
We should view the government with the same level of skepticism as private businesses. Maybe more so, because only they have the legal right to take our stuff and throw us in jail , or worse.
I don’t think you have any idea just how mistaken you are. If you would like to dialogue a bit to learn how the hyperbole of this piece is factually wrong, unloving, and prone to radical entrenchment, please note as much in the comments. Thanks.
An unhelpful comment Eric- basically just condescending name calling. Marty at least makes a reasonable argument. i.e. government is as sinful as private business in making decisions. Also, he acknowledges some degree of government oversight is required. I disagree with him in the sense that the interests of the decision making party are less directly tied to individual success when government makes decisions. My 10 yr old son often thinks it’s just what he wants vs. what I want when I make a decision he doesn’t like. The difference is, my decisions are incorporating the good of the whole family where as his preference takes only his interests into account. Government undoubtedly makes mistakes (as Scott points out), and is undoubtedly influenced inappropriately by companies and private interests. But all else being equal, I would rather have some regulation by an at least theoretically neutral party for processes and structures that transcend individual interest. It doesn’t require much study of history to realize that the environment needs protection and that a self-interested system is either insufficient or too slow to prevent or respond to over-exploitation and pollution. It is the tragedy of the commons. That is not to say that there aren’t conscientious businesses out there. There are many. However, you are then asking them to be aware of all the potential environmental problems tied to their business, and also to make good and loving decisions that their competitors are not obligated to make. Having rules provides accountability by a “disinterested” party that actually has the resources to look at the big picture. I would have to say that what is happening to the EPA is a disaster in the long run. Not only is it’s regulatory function being undermined, but the knowledge base as well. This seems like government sanctioned censorship at best.
Ultimately, there is no economy without an environment. Even if you completely overlook the “Heart direction” aspect of this post, you should recognize that having an agency dedicated to understanding the capacity of local and global environments to handle exploitation and pollution seems like a really smart idea regardless of how you decide to make policy and enforce it. How can you make a budget if you have no idea what your income is or what your expenses are?
Name calling? Can you read?
I think referring to someone’s writing as hyperbolic, unloving, etc. while at the same time offering to educate them is basically condescending name calling. Your comment about whether I can read follows in the same vein. If you had said “I….. I believe Scott is mistaken”… and ” offered to talk that over with Scott if he cared to.” Or simply offered a critique or alternative idea I would agree that is not name calling. If you really wanted to directly reach out to Scott, posting a comment like yours is completely unnecessary as he is easily available by email.
Your comments below are much more helpful and actually make several interesting points.
If you read my comment under your post, you will see that I am actually addressing Marty’s comment and not making assumptions about what you think. I should have posted most of what I wrote under Marty’s comment but felt that people could figure it out pretty easily.
No, Jeff, saying that you believe someone is mistaken is not name calling. Name calling involves, you know, calling names. I did not in any way attack Scott as a person (which is what name calling is), but I rather disagreed with his ideas and arguments. If we can’t express disagreement with each other without being falsely accused of name calling, then we will have a hard time having any sort of discourse.
There was no need to offer to take a further discussion up in email, as you suggest. The comment section is made specifically for that purpose, which I why I offered to discuss specifics with Scott.
The fact that you reply to my comment and then act confused as to why I would think you are replying my comment is itself confusing.
This has degenerated significantly so this will be my last comment.
I think the difference between disparaging someone’s work and the person directly fall within the “basically” that I included.
You honestly don’t think that your comment was at all condescending or offensive? That is a real question not a rhetorical device intended to upset you.
If you don’t, I would ask that you consider: If someone critiqued your comment, wouldn’t you feel personally insulted?
I was actually critiquing your comment after all, not you. You seem incredibly offended given the tone that you have adopted.
I am sorry for the discord this created.
I’m not incredibly offended, I merely prefer not to be falsely accused. You seem unwilling to accept that you accused me of something I patently did not do. You don’t get to create a whole new definition of things to fit your feelings. I simply did not do what you accuse me of. It is curious to me that you double down on your falsehood.
“If someone critiqued your comment, wouldn’t you feel personally insulted?”
Absolutely not! I welcome critique of any comment I make, on the merits. I have responded extensively to your questions below, and am glad to hear any critique you have of my responses.
There is no need to read a “tone” into my responses to you. I’m merely engaging with what you have said. If I accused you of name calling when you did not such thing, would you find that entirely acceptable?
I don’t have any idea why you would choose to accuse me of name-calling, since I did no such thing. I merely plainly stated that I believe Scott is mistaken, and I offered to talk that over with Scott if he cared to. Evidently the longing to understand his brothers and sisters in Christ that he expresses in the piece did not lead him to want to explore that with me. That’s his prerogative.
You make an argument to me as if you know what I disagree with, which you do not. You could have asked instead of falsely accusing me of calling people names. That would have been helpful. You won’t get a lick of disagreement from me that agencies such as the EPA are good and necessary or that environmental regulation is good, along with a host of other regulation. As a matter of fact, I am an environmental regulator, administering and enforcing at various times Minnesota Rules Chapters 4410, 6120, 7080, 7081, 7082, & 7083, which are promulgated by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. I also serve on an advisory committee and task force of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Scott clearly knows very little about environmental regulation, and he makes himself look silly with his hysteria and hyperbole in this piece, which is more worthy of the pages of the Huffington Post or Daily Kos than it is of a reformed Christian publication. If Scott knows better, then shame on him for his dishonesty. If Scott doesn’t know better, he should educate himself before making an argument based on such flawed knowledge.
The idea that the EPA or environmental regulation in general are somehow under broad attack or in great danger of continuing is hysterical nonsense. Simply no one is arguing to “just let business proceed unregulated”. The EPA has a budget of 8.1 billion dollars and has nearly 15,000 employees. Environmental regulations at the federal level (to say nothing of state and local regulation) begin with the 37 acts of Congress that are untouchable by any bureaucrat. The Code of Federal Regulations (of which Chapter 40 pertains to EPA) is nearly 190,000 pages long. Figuring a standard sheet of copy paper at .004 inches thick, the resultant book holding the entire CFR would be greater than 30 feet thick if you printed on both sides. We are hardly entering an era of deregulation. It is doubtlessly inarguable that the U.S. is the most regulated country in the world, environmentally and otherwise. No, the EPA bears no resemblance to a “Business Protection Agency”, notwithstanding Scott’s fanciful rhetoric.
Conservatives and libertarians are not anarchists, as Scott suggests with rhetoric such as these over-the-top attributions to others: “regulations are almost always bad for business”, “just let business proceed unregulated”, “most all environmental regulations are bad”, “the point is to get rid of all those business-stifling regulations on mercury being dumped into waterways, emissions from vehicles, health-threatening pesticides or the amount of lead in paints”, “businesses that will pretty much always do the right thing when it comes to protecting the environment, children’s health, our drinking water, the air we breathe”.
It is also worth noting that EPA is far from the only federal agency to regulate environmental matters (again, to say nothing of state and local regulators). Agencies abound: OSHA, FEMA, USDA, USFWS, FDA, Army Corps of Engineers, CPSC, CDC, DOE. All of these agencies regulate environmental matters in one way or another, plus there are myriad other federal agencies that regulate other areas of life.
Also unacknowledged by Scott is that Scott Pruitt is operating under an Executive Order to reduce regulation by trimming out regulations that are duplicative, outdated, or unduly burdensome. For every rule Pruitt’s EPA proposes (who knew his EPA is proposing rules!?!), they must get rid of 2. That is the mandate. And if you think that there are no federal environmental or other regulations that are duplicative, outdated, or unduly burdensome, then you are fooling yourself.
Scott also makes a statement about Pruitt that is unloving and slanderous, and clearly is not intended to guard and advance his neighbor’s good name as we confess in the Heidelberg Catechism. Scott states that it is “a well-known fact that Mr. Pruitt has traditionally hated the very agency he now heads.” This is just silly. Just because Pruitt has in the past legally challenged actions of the EPA does not mean he does not believe in the broad mission of the agency or give Scott license to make such an unfounded statement.
Regarding environmental regulations, Scott says “I guess you’d have to argue them on a case by case basis when you come right down to it”, yet he does not extend Pruitt the decency of doing so. Rather, he paints a ridiculous picture of a man who “spends his days peeling [environmental regulations] back”, as if Scott has the foggiest notion what occupies the time of the director of the EPA. I challenge Scott to go ahead and weight the merits of the current EPA deregulation effort regarding “Asbestos Cement Pipe Replacement Alternative Work Practices” or perhaps “Relaxation of the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) Gasoline Standard in Five Counties of Middle Tennessee”. It’s all out there in the public record. The idea that tweeking or removing a few of the countless layers of environmental regulation amounts to some grand conspiracy to rape the earth is laughable. I could go on, but I already have.
I think the thrust of Scott’s argument is about the direction, deregulation vs increased regulation. Do you feel that there are currently sufficient protections in place for air and water quality? In my area of the country, air, soil, and water quality have declined drastically in the last 150 years and while there have been some improvements recently, there is a long way to go in my opinion. I might also argue that because technological development is increasingly rapid, there is increasing consolidation of businesses and land ownership, as well as population growth, we should expect more regulation overall.
As someone who has a more direct view of Pruitt than I do (I am no policy analyst) I would be curious to hear your thoughts on these questions.: How would you say Pruitt’s actions have compared to other individuals who have held his role? What effect will his decisions have on environmental quality down the road? Do you think he views the creation as something “called Very Good by God?” Something that has value beyond it’s direct utility for us? What values are driving changes initiated by Pruitt? What sources and kinds of information is Pruitt drawing on to make changes? How will Pruitt’s history influence his view of his role and current policy?
I’ll try respond to your questions/comments in turn:
“I think the thrust of Scott’s argument is about the direction, deregulation vs increased regulation.” That’s all well and fine, but in making his argument Scott is untruthful. You seem to gloss over that quite easily. I would think for a Christian and a Minister of the Word, we would have a higher standard than good intentions or lies in service to the truth. Additionally, neither deregulation nor regulation are inherently meritorious, so saying that we are headed in a direction of deregulation does not tell us a lot. Perhaps we are due for a deregulatory effort in some areas. Scott does not demonstrate that he has enough knowledge to parse those questions.
“Do you feel that there are currently sufficient protections in place for air and water quality?” That’s really too broad of a question to answer definitively. In many cases, yes. In some cases, no. It depends entirely of what situation (time/place/practice) you are talking about. Regulations must be assessed according to their merit based on what they can reasonably accomplish versus what toll they take. In other words, each should be considered on their merits. Scott admitted as much at one point in his article, but failed to carry through on that practice. Instead, Scott summarily criticized Pruitt for any effort to deregulate (with no willingness to engage in considering deregulations on their merits) and actually was absolutely incorrect in what is the anticipated goal of various deregulatory efforts. Again, truth matters.
“In my area of the country, air, soil, and water quality have declined drastically in the last 150 years and while there have been some improvements recently, there is a long way to go in my opinion.” Assuming you are the Jeff Ploegstra who teaches biology at Dordt College (one of my favorite classes at Dordt was Plant Physiology, which I see you teach!), can you provide any data to back your assertion that air quality has drastically declined in NW Iowa over the last 150 years? According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, over the last 25 years GDP has risen 210% in Iowa while air emissions have dropped by 42%. That sounds like a success story due likely to combination of regulation, technology, and private enterprise ingenuity and effort. The EPA shows air quality across Iowa to be “good”. I’m not sure how that represents a drastic decline. To the extent that there are environmental concerns, regulations should be proposed, weighed, adopted, and enforced as necessary and reasonable to accomplish improvements.
“I might also argue that because technological development is increasingly rapid, there is increasing consolidation of businesses and land ownership, as well as population growth, we should expect more regulation overall.” I see no reason to conclude that increasing technological development necessitates environmental regulation. In fact, many times technological development solves environmental concerns much more effectively than regulations do. Regulations are not a magic wand, and they are only as good as the enforcement behind them. Typically improvements in environmental quality can be attributed to a combination of carrot and stick. Profit motive and the need for competitive efficiency can lead to careless environmental practices, but they can also lead to dramatic improvements in environmental quality.
“How would you say Pruitt’s actions have compared to other individuals who have held his role?” I would say that Pruitt’s general pattern has been to swim somewhat against the current of bureaucratic flow, which can be an important check. I have been around regulatory agencies and bureaucrats for quite some time now, and I can tell you that to find a person in high rank in these areas that is willing to challenge the broad mantra that more regulation is inherently better is rare. So, in some ways Pruitt is a breath of fresh air. It would take more space than I have here to document the inner workings of the regulatory shenanigans that I have observed and been intimately involved in. Scott paid lip service to the failings of shortcoming of government, but I suspect he does not know the half of it.
“What effect will his decisions have on environmental quality down the road?” Again, this is too broad a question to address coherently. One would have to pick out a specific action/decision in order to offer some level of analysis. Suffice it to say, there is no reasonable scientific reason to believe the sort of fear-mongering that you see occurring in popular media and echoed in Scott’s post.
“Do you think he views the creation as something “called Very Good by God?” Something that has value beyond it’s direct utility for us?” I would have no direct way of knowing this, nor do I think you or Scott can know this. For what it’s worth, I do not have a religious litmus test for public service. It would seem odd to me if Pruitt would have no fundamental respect and appreciation for the created world inasmuch as he voluntarily runs the world’s largest environmental regulatory agency. Any insinuation that Pruitt is fundamentally changing that agency into an agency that does not protect the environment (which Scott does in his article) is absurd and not factually based.
“What values are driving changes initiated by Pruitt?” Answering this question would require conjecture into his motivation that I don’t think is respectful. Would you allow Pruitt to speak for himself in this matter? Have you looked into what Pruitt says about why he takes certain actions? Is it possible that he values individual freedoms? Is it possible that he values limited government? Is it possible that he values efficient government? Is it possible that he values effective regulation? Is it possible that he values private enterprise and free market solutions? Is it possible that he values jobs created by small businesses when they are freed from unnecessary and overly burdensome regulation (no, not all regulation)? Would these values be beyond the pale?
“What sources and kinds of information is Pruitt drawing on to make changes?” I suspect that he is drawing on a broad swath of sources and kinds of information. Do you have any knowledge that he is not? I hope you are not falling prey to the silly trope that he is simply a “big oil” lackey because he has entertained and forwarded industry input in various ways. In the regulatory field I work in, we consider industry folks to be our partners. We don’t smear them, and we certainly don’t discount their input. Unless we have intimate knowledge of how Pruitt gathers and weighs information, we have no business accusing him falsely, in violation of the ninth commandment.
“How will Pruitt’s history influence his view of his role and current policy?” That’s a complicated question that needs more specificity in order to solicit a coherent answer. What portion of his history and historical influences are you talking about? His childhood? His father’s influence on him? His professional history as an attorney? What specific policy initiative are you referring to? Here is something I suspect you will agree with: People are much more complicated than the caricature we see displayed publically and that is exaggerated for public figures. Does Pruitt deserve our respect and honor as a public servant, a la Romans 13, or is he fair game for dishonest attack in the same vein as national media? I would hope we could as Christians model a higher level of discourse on these topics. Scott has failed to do so, which is disappointing. When Scott is in his bailiwick, I have observed that he writes some great stuff. His most recent offering in The Banner is wonderful, I think. When Scott wanders into other areas, he tends to quickly baptize his view of public events with the Bible much too quickly and to take criticism of his writing much too personally. Does he really want to learn where his brothers and sisters are coming from? Oftentimes he does not demonstrate that we wants to understand others at all, but simply preach, which of course fits well with his occupational choice but makes for poor discourse.
I guess this will be my last comment since I think this is a productive conversation. All of my questions were legitimate and I appreciate your engagement with them. Thanks for replying.
Yes, I am Jeff from Dordt College and I would rank Plant Phys with Vander Zee as one of the highlights of my Dordt education. I also now love teaching it!
To clarify, when talking about Iowa air water and soil quality, I would definitely grant that air quality- particularly emissions, has improved recently and I would put the last 25 years in my “recently” category. Overall pesticide use has declined as well and I have hope for improvement on that end as well with precision ag. Particulate matter is definitely still an issue in Sioux County. I lived in Minnesota for 8 years and would gladly exchange both the air and water quality in Sioux county for what I experienced in Kandiyohi county. 🙂 Cover crops, no-till, and many other initiatives on the part of both individuals and government agencies have helped quite a bit in this area but there is still a long way to go. Water quality continues to be a major issue. My reference to the last 150 years, was the overall removal of stable plant matter from the soil as land has been converted to annual crops-which has the overall effect of increasing particulate matter in the air, and soil erosion into water ways.
Taken at face value, I completely agree that the value of regulation is dependent on the case and the regulation in question. Two issues which I think are on the minds of many when they talk about Pruitt and deregulation– the nixing of the clean power plan and his challenge of California’s waiver to the CAA act which allows them to have stricter air quality standards on the state level than the federal. I also ran across this a while ago and think this represents a reasonable concern for many. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/05/climate/trump-environment-rules-reversed.html The article lists 60+ environmental rules that are in some state of being overturned. While I have not done an analysis of the actual regulations (some is provided in the article), the list, as presented looks pretty damning of Pruitt (although not all are probably directly under his control) and/or Trump.
I would say that technology in general gives us more power and options, and does nothing per-se for our sense of responsibility. Generally new technology will present new opportunities for things to improve or get worse. I think strong values and regulation are both necessary to head in a good direction. As new technologies and methods supplant old, I can imagine regulations regarding the old may become obsolete and as you point out, could be revised or possibly even removed.
“People are much more complicated than the caricature we see displayed publically and that is exaggerated for public figures.” I couldn’t agree more.
I think part of the problem here is that you have a stronger belief in individual freedoms and the capacity of free enterprise to result in good outcomes. I think everyone realizes that the extreme of no regulation of free markets would be disaster, while complete regulation and no market would also be disaster. Some definitions like “unduly burdensome” seems incredibly ambiguous and their interpretation may be strongly disagreed upon.
Is it overstating the case to suggest that if you want more nuanced regulation, that you need more of it? It seems to me that as you have more people, doing more different things, in closer proximity to more people with diverse interests and values, the likelihood increases that one individual exercising their personal liberty will violate someone else’s. I would suggest that this applies at an individual level and a corporate level.
Do we have too little regulation, or maybe more appropriately dysfunctional regulation, on say, abortion and reproductive rights? I would say absolutely. Other US citizens would say things are relatively good where they are at. Others might even say we have too much regulation and current regulation is “unduly burdensome.” One person’s personal liberty is another’s disaster. Certain aspects of environmental policy are more morally ambiguous, but I don’t think we would ever support the application of free market values or private enterprise to the question prostitution or abortion. There are moral boundaries that we don’t think should be subject to personal choice.
What are the moral and ethical boundaries of environmental care? Not a question to be answered in a blog post but I think Scott’s post is justifiably trying to provoke thought on the question.
Thanks again for engaging my questions.
I will post my comments here as well if the moderator thinks it is ok. I want to be clear about which thread I am responding too. I don’t want to confuse the conversation. I think referring to someone’s writing as hyperbolic, unloving, etc. while at the same time offering to educate them is basically condescending name calling. Your comment about whether I can read follows in the same vein. If you had said “I….. I believe Scott is mistaken”… and ” offered to talk that over with Scott if he cared to.” Or simply offered a critique or alternative idea I would agree that is not name calling. If you really wanted to directly reach out to Scott, posting a comment like yours is completely unnecessary as he is easily available by email.
Your comments in your second post are much more helpful and actually make several interesting points.
If you read my comment under your original post, you will see that I am actually addressing Marty’s comment and not making assumptions about what you think. I should have posted most of what I wrote under Marty’s comment but felt that people could figure it out pretty easily
Scott Hoezee, I hope you take to heart Marty’s and Eric’s insightful comments. You have been an angry man, politically, since November 8, 2016, and your blogs often reflect it. My heart goes out to you in your bitterness.
I think anyone who knows me will tell you I am neither angry nor bitter–not just politically but just generally. You and I could disagree politically or even theologically without having to conclude the other person is unhinged, angry, nasty, bitter. In this post I freely acknowledged government makes mistakes, over-reaches sometimes. I freely acknowledged that even the regulatory standards I was speaking in favor of probably need to be considered case by case. And I think my reflections from the Old Testament and God’s laws involving regulations for the land are biblically accurate and that reflecting on those good words of God need not stem from some base anger or bitterness. Like many people, I am concerned about many things and many of my concerns have indeed magnified since the election of Donald Trump. I have tried to speak up for what I think the Bible and the historical witness of the church have to say. I am concerned about much, saddened about much even as critics of our nation, our laws, our leaders were during the Civil Rights movement. I should be able to be concerned and even sad without being accused of being angry or bitter. If you want your heart to go out to someone, don’t send it my way. Let your heart go out to the children of this nation in which porn stars and vile words like “shit hole” are now mainstream elements of everyday speech. Actually, I could wish that many of our more prominent evangelical leaders in this country could generate a little anger over that instead of giving it a pass again and again.
I wanted to jump into this conversation but I think it better to simply beg for forgiveness of my thoughts and attitudes, kneel in prayer and beseech God that he would continue the work of redemption in me and His creation.