Thursday, May 1, 2014

In Review: The Foundations of Social Order & Green This!

I'm very glad to have read R.J. Rushdoony's "The Foundations of Social Order Studies in the Creeds and Councils of the Early Church" so soon after the recommendations made by Peter Hammond (of Frontline Fellowship) and Bojidar Marinov at the Providential History Festival in September of 2013.  It took less than one year to complete the first go round of reading it. (;  The other book, Dierdre Imus' Green This! I cannot say the same for, ha.  It was given to me over a year ago and I just now picked it up after constantly seeing it next to my cook books every day.  Don't ask me why I put it there, I just did.  I find it a little amusing that I read these books back to back.  In the ideal world for Imus she builds her foundations upon a totally wrong premise and worldview, which Rushdoony conveniently just explained the importance of the foundation of your social order.  For Imus, she wants the world to be greener, a better place where all of man works together to make it better, considering other's/the environment better than your own convenience... while looking to the government to save us from ourselves/the horrible toxins/the manufacturers of said toxins.  Her worldview is entirely humanistic looking to the state to save man.  Rushdoony's book delves into the history of the early church to show how fundamental God's word and His law order are to a free social order.  State is not the ultimate and neither is the church.  Both have their functions, but God is the ultimate sovereign!  For man to have a well ordered society he must submit to God's word, and in that there is freedom for man.  More on that to come.  The point is, I really enjoyed employing the practical thought process and analyzing from one book to the next.

As I read through Rushdoony's The Foundations of Social Order I realized more how things just "clicked" and that some of the abstract ideas and doctrines I have been learning about suddenly were making sense and were less abstract in my mind.  It's hard to explain, because I was confused myself!  Here is the passage that just really connected things for me:

"On the foundation of Chalcedon, the formulation of Biblical Christology, Western liberty has been built.  Ignorance and neglect of Chalcedon has been basic to the decline of the church.  Strange voices in Christendom assert the necessity for Christian relevance, but the relevance they have in mind is not to Christ and His kingdom but to the reviving pagan statist theology and the attempts by pagan humanistic state to lead man into a paradise without God.  But the reduction of man to the dimensions of the state, to the dimensions of time and history, is the enslavement of man, not his liberation.  Christendom needs to echo the decision of the fathers at Chalcedon, who, after declaring the Definition, stated, 'this is the faith of the Apostles: by this we all stand: thus we all believe.'  The alternative is Christ or Caeser, liberty of slavery,  God or man.  Is salvation man's upward reach, or God's downward reach?  Is it man's word or God's grace?  Is God or the state man's savior? The answer of Chalcedon is emphatically for God and liberty.

Western liberty began when the claim of the state to be man's savior was denied.  The state then, according to Scripture, was made the ministry of justice.  But, wherever Christ ceases to be man's savior, there liberty perishes as the state again asserts its messianic claims.  Man is in trouble, and history is the record of his attempt to find salvation. Man needs a savior, and the question is simply one of choice: Christ or the state?  No man can choose the one without denying the other, and all attempts at compromise are a delusion." Pgs. 66-67

Why yes, yes of course.  Because God's order restrains the state's power and jurisdiction, there is much freedom in biblical social order.  It helped connect the idea of the foundation to Western liberty more in my mind.  As to the book as a whole, what an excellent, edifying, challenging, (sometimes over my head), throught-provoking publication.  This has helped me understand the importance of the creeds and councils in a deeper way.  The more I read, the more grateful I am for the early church father's who saw the need to defend the doctrines of the church.  As Rushdoony points out, some may think at times they are splitting theological hairs, but his book does them justice high-lighting just how crucial each defense and clarification was.  Our modern ears want to shut out such strong language and anathema's, but God's word is not to be trifled with.  There cannot be compromise and truth, otherwise there is no truth at all.

Rushdoony shows his readers how the early creeds/councils helped establish the godly foundations for social order.  This book is full of history and interesting details.  He also clearly communicates the importance of simple doctrine, and yet how the bible is not simple, and that not all of the bible is simple to understand.  It is both simple enough for anyone to understand the basics, yet the framework of the bible is a complex and beautiful thing.  This is a must read and I will definitely be using this in my older home education "curriculum". I may even try to read it again in a few years (because let's be honest, I have too many books I want to read before re-reading anything soon!).

And not so surprising, this book receives 5 Stars from me.

Diedre Imus' Green This! was both a headache and an invaluable resource for cleaning.  I'm surprised I didn't just skip many of the pages, because many times I wanted to.  The problem is, her liberal environmental statist agenda is interwoven between the helpful facts about the dangers of toxins.  Yes, this is exactly the type of annoying "greenie" book you would expect by the title.  That is the biggest problem with the movement, most of these people concerned with the toxic exposure to our health and environment are normally the ones that care more about the government saving everyone; there are very few Joel Salatin's (aka green liberterians, yes they do exist!) in this movement, which is a huge shame.  Christians truly ought to be ashamed of themselves for not being the leaders on this front!  We who are called to take dominion and be good stewards should be the ones advocating wiser, cleaner, greener ways to live and clean, not God-hating unbelievers.

That being said *jumps off Christian Libertarian soapbox*, once you read past the first few chapters, both helpful and irritating, she gets to the practical hands on way to green your cleaning.  This is not just a book of lofty ideas, but Mrs. Imus truly wants to help the average person green their cleaning and prove it is affordable.  Which it is.  Common cleaning solutions she advises are: vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, lemon juice, and essential oils.  Of course, there are many grades of essential oils, she recommends Young Living.  She goes through each room of the house and what common cleaning solutions you can use.  She gives helpful time tables on disinfecting your tools (i.e. soaking your toilet brush in vinegar), how often to vacuum those pesky drapes, etc.  She also gives warnings on things to avoid mixing, or which surfaces need special attention. Some of the things she advised, I already do, but this book was quite inspirational to go the next step in greening our home and keeping the toxins out.  One thing that really struck a chord with me for my home was ditching the bleach.  Yes!  And it is mind boggling how many things use bleach!  I have ordered bleach free toilet paper, and when our current paper towels run out, will be ordering bleach free as well. Buying in bulk helps the budget.  But because of that, I am trying to switch over to using some reusable cleaning cloths (microfiber, for example) to save on cost.

She does not advocate throwing everything away in your cleaning closet and starting over, but a gradual change so it is not overwhelming.  The important thing is sticking to it, not overwhelming yourself.  She also highlights the importance of reading labels.  I already do this with my food, why not for my cleaning products?  It's scary all the things she presented about the weird chemicals used for cleaning, which is a relatively new way of cleaning.  Most cleaning companies will not disclose their ingredients, or only partial lists or secretive names.  This is where she calls on the government to force companies to disclose all the information.  No, people need to become responsible for their own health and care enough without the government strong arming everyone into doing what they say... baby sitting the sheeple.  Aka a nanny state.

Overall this book was very helpful and I appreciated the information. She does come across as a bit pretentious at times, and her nanny state dependence on the government is irritating, but once you get past those things, you will be very glad you read this book.  I will definitely be referencing this a LOT from now on, until my green cleaning regimen is an established routine.

This books gets 3 stars from me.

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