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Random Notes, 72

Random thoughts by R.J. Rushdoony as a result of his reading and cultural observations.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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1. Perhaps someone will write in the future on the great social revolution that was created by the Social Security Act in 1936. It was a time of economic depression. Countless Americans were doubled up, living with their parents; in some cases, more than one son or daughter returned with a family. This was an accepted response to crisis. The family represented social security. Then thinking changed, and the results were dramatic. First, the institution for safety and security shifted from the family to the state. Second, instead of a continual preparation by young and old for hard times, there was now a belief that the problem of future care and depressions would be solved by the state. Third, this made for a present-thinking, not a future-oriented people. By the 1970s, retired people were driving around with a bumper sticker reading, "We are spending our children's inheritance." Bragging about that was something new in history. Few people realize how dramatically Social Security changed the character of the United States. It was sad too how quickly the Christian resentment against it faded.

2. Driving by a high school the other day, seeing males and females alike with unkempt long hair, brought to mind the 1920s, the "flapper era," and bobbed hair for women. The media made much of it, but most people changed their ways very slightly. We knew one young woman who for business reasons, went with the new style. Little changed with most people because the farm depression of 1921 severely limited farm peoples, and a surface conformity marked urban peoples. A few publicity seeking preachers made much about this supposed threat to the life of faith. One large fundamentalist church specified a required length of hair for girls and women. Not surprisingly, in a fairly short time, this church went modernist. By majoring in minors, they had abandoned the Faith. Short hair was liberation then; now it is apparently long hair!

3. When I was a boy, almost everyone in our farm area spoke a foreign language at home, Swedish, Danish, Armenian, Portuguese, etc. No one assumed stupidity on anyone's part. Now our nanny state posits a stupid population. The generation before called cigarettes "coffin nails"; all the young people I knew recognized that tobacco was bad for you. Now, however, it is assumed that the tobacco companies are fooling the people about tobacco's harmful effects. I don't believe it. Those who sue the tobacco companies are playing the victimhood game. Is there no end to this? A few days ago, I bought a sack of hen scratch. At the bottom of the invoice was this sentence: "I understand this feed is to be fed to animals for food for human consumption. Signature: ." Is there any sanity out there in our statist wonderland? The purpose of this feed-sack statement is the avoidance of a sales tax. I think it was in the eighth grade that I was taught that the great Spanish Empire began its decline when it introduced the sales tax, which meant it had taxed everything else to the hilt and was now taxing sales. Soon thereafter, with the depression, various states instituted sales taxes, and nothing more was taught about its evils!

4. This is a true story, from about 25 years ago. It occurred in a small California coastal city. A young man, pretending to be a gas company employee, gained entry into a house, supposedly to check on gas leaks. He then robbed the housewife of her money and jewelry. She told the thief (and later the police), "If my husband had been home, he would have killed you!" This trusting wife was in her 80s, her husband over 90!

5. The life of John Rutter Carden of Barmane Castle, Tipperary, Ireland is an interesting one. Born in 1811, Garden gained the castle when he came of age. The estate had been neglected and the Irish tenants had long paid no rent and were not about to pay now. Landlord killing was then common, and his tenants tried repeatedly to kill him, without success. Garden's nickname became,  "Woodcock," because, like that bird, he was hard to hit. He even overpowered two would-be assassins, marched them to jail, and had them hanged. The castle was remade to withstand assaults, which followed, with the castle successfully defended in even floor-by-floor combat. The tenants admitted that "Woodcock" Garden was a reasonable landlord; they simply wanted to pay no rent. Garden had a swivel-mounted cannon among his attack-resisting weapons. Then, in his forties, "Woodcock" Garden became an Irish hero, to his tenants and others. He fell in love. The girl, Eleanor Arbuthnot, was only 18, and an heiress. "Woodcock" fell totally and hopelessly in love. He was also under the delusion that she loved him, and only the family, supposedly holding her prisoner, kept her from declaring her love. He pursued her in Ireland, England, and abroad; he tried to "rescue" her and was tried and convicted of kidnapping. Meanwhile, he impoverished himself; Ireland sang songs about him, and his tenants were proud of him! For many years one song, "Garden's Wild Domain," was very popular in Ireland. Garden died in 1866. As for Eleanor, she never married. Another interesting character from the same era but somewhat earlier, was the Peninsular war veteran, Colonel Charles de Laet Waldo Sibthorp of Lincoln, a member of an ancient family. He was the arch-conservative, a Tory to whom most Tories were liberals. He even dressed in the old Regency style. I n 1822, when his older of five brothers died, he became the heir to the family estates. He hated change, feared and hated all foreigners, hated Roman Catholicism, loved the "rotten borough" system, and, while loyal to the monarchy, felt that Queen Victoria had done wrong in marrying Prince Albert, a German and a foreigner. The Queen never forgave Sibthorp nor ever visited Lincoln. Sibthorp opposed the Great Exhibition of 1851 because it was the doing of that foreigner. Prince Albert, and he refused to attend it. He fought against the cutting down of good English trees to build the Crystal Palace. He also opposed the new system of transportation, railroads, and he refused to use them until all other means of transport disappeared. He was an early leader in conspiracy theories, and he saw Europeans, Jews, bankers, industrialists, and Jesuits behind events. In every area, he saw disaster ahead! In many ways an able man, he was a connoisseur of painting, a very able orator, and well-informed antiquarian; but he was fully unreasonable in his opposition to change. One person who followed Sibthorp's career in Parliament closely was the Russian novelist, Dostoyevsky. In The Idiot, he took Sibthorp as the model for Lebedev, who held that the railway system in Russia was the star Wormwood of the Book of Revelation!

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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