Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Jerry Golden, Joseph Farah News Alert!

I read these articles that were sent to me by email from a Christian gal that looks at conspiracies from a Christian perspective. Golden and Farah are Christians that look out for the welfare of Judaism in Israel.

As a quick summary, they are saying that nukes have been acquired by Al Qaida and it is only a matter of time before the Islamofascists attempt multiple detonations in various parts of America. Further, Golden and Farah claim these Al Qaida Islamofascists have entered America via the Mexican/American border. I do not have a link to Farah's article, which would do you no good anyway unless subscribed to his G2 Report. I am publishing this not to incite panic, rather to know what to pray for. Christians (regardless of Mohammedan thought) have the ear of God via the Blood of Christ. Ask and it shall be given, knock and it shall be opened. Ask anything of the Father in Jesus' Name and if it lines up with the Will of God (i.e. the Bible) it will be answered. (Paraphrases to be located in the NT. Do some digging, it will be good for you.)

Nov 29, 2005
Noteworthy News LinksPossible prophecy and current event connections . . .

Do you have ears to hear?

November 29, 2005

- written by jerry golden

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that al-Quida and other Islamic Terrorist groups are planning a doomsday attack on the US and it is not far down the road. The below report written by Joseph Farah is right on, the question is what are you going to do to protect yourself and family? Of course if you don't believe it and you don't think there is going to be a major nuclear attack in the US by these Islamic Terrorist then you have no reason to provide for yourself, but what about your family if it does happen, and it will.

A few years back I wrote some survival articles and put them on my web site you can go there and read them, they may save your life.

Am I preaching fear, I don't think so, what I am preaching; is don't be stupid and irresponsible with the lives of your family. I am not suggesting that you dig a big hole in your back yard. Because the truth is if you're in the blast area your chances are almost "O" anyway. But nearly everyone reading this lives on the outskirts or in small towns in the US and their biggest problem for a few days or a week will be fallout, if you live downwind from ground zero you will have fallout, if you live upwind you biggest problem will be food and water for a while. You can't provide food and water to last for years, but you can for a month and after that you will find a way to feed the family. The main thing is safe drinking water and water for personal hygiene. If you have a safe roomthat is a great plus, but if you don't try getting ready to seal your house the best you can.

My major concern is being ready to save Jewish lives for one thing it's absolutely certain when this happens in the US all of Europe will decide over night that they must get rid of the Jews or they are next. For this reason I simply must raise the cash to purchase the larger boat soon. One other thing when this happens in the US you will not have a bank account any longer and the economy will go down to zero, everything as you know it in the US will change in the blink of an eye. There will be no commerce that means you will not be able to run to the grocery store for a while. So if preaching the truth is a fear tactic so be it, but you can be sure that al-Qaida and other Islamic terrorists are getting ready to kill more Americans than any one reading this will everybelieve. God help America. For those who have not come to the conclusion I will spell it out for everyone to read, it is all about Jerusalem and this is a spiritual war. The Devil has kidnapped Islam and it is his tool. God is sending out His messengers to warn you, the question is do you have ears to hear????

Read this report that I am forwarding to you it is important and you most certainly should take it very serious.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, for our son Joel and all the IDF soldiers pray for all those who have come to fight the Islamic enemy. Pray for this Ministry and your part in it.

Shalom, jerry golden


By Joseph Farah

As London recovers from the latest deadly al-Qaida attack that killed at least 50, top U.S. government officials are contemplating what they consider to be an inevitable and much bigger assault on America ­ one likely to kill millions, destroy the economy and fundamentally alter the course of history, reports Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin .According to captured al-Qaida leaders and documents, the plan is called the "American Hiroshima" and involves the multiple detonation of nuclear weapons already smuggled into the U.S. over the Mexican border with the help of the MS-13 street gang and other organized crime groups.

Al-Qaida has obtained at least 40 nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union ­ including suitcase nukes, nuclear mines, artillery shells and even some missile warheads. In addition, documents captured in Afghanistan show al-Qaida had plans to assemble its own nuclear weapons with fissile material it purchased on the black market.

In addition to detonating its own nuclear weapons already planted in the U.S., military sources also say there is evidence to suggest al-Qaida is paying former Russian special forces Spetznaz to assist the terrorist group in locating nuclear weapons formerly concealed inside the U.S. by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Osama bin Laden's group is also paying nuclear scientists from Russia and Pakistan to maintain its existing nuclear arsenal and assemble additional weapons with the materials it has invested hundreds of millions in procuring over a period of 10 years.

The plans for the devastating nuclear attack on the U.S. have been under development for more than a decade. It is designed as a final deadly blow of defeat to the U.S., which is seen by al-Qaida and its allies as "the Great Satan."At least half the nuclear weapons in the al-Qaida arsenal were obtained for cash from the Chechen terrorist allies.

But the most disturbing news is that high level U.S. officials now believe at least some of those weapons have been smuggled into the U.S. for use in the near future in major cities as part of this "American Hiroshima" plan, according to an upcoming book, "The al-Qaida Connection: International Terrorism, Organized Crime and the Coming Apocalypse," by Paul L. Williams, a former FBI consultant.According to Williams, former CIA Director George Tenet informed President Bush one month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that at least two suitcase nukes had reached al-Qaida operatives in the U.S."Each suitcase weighed between 50 and 80 kilograms (approximately 110 to 176 pounds) and contained enough fissionable plutonium and uranium to produce an explosive yield in excess of two kilotons," wrote Williams.

"One suitcase bore the serial number 9999 and the Russian manufacturing date of 1988. The design of the weapons, Tenet told the president, is simple. The plutonium and uranium are kept in separate compartments that are linked to a triggering mechanism that can be activated by a clock or a call from the cell phone."According to the author, the news sent Bush "through the roof," prompting him to order his national security team to give nuclear terrorism priority over every other threat to America.

However, it is worth noting that Bush failed to translate this policy into securing the U.S.-Mexico border through which the nuclear weapons and al-Qaida operatives are believed to have passed with the help of the MS-13 smugglers. He did, however, order the building of underground bunkers away from major metropolitan areas for use by federal government managers following an attack.Bin Laden, according to Williams, has nearly unlimited funds to spend on his nuclear terrorism plan because he has remained in control of the Afghanistan-produced heroin industry. Poppy production has greatly increased even while U.S. troops are occupying the country, he writes. Al-Qaida has developed close relations with the Albanian Mafia, which assists in the smuggling and sale of heroin throughout Europe and the U.S.Some of that money is used to pay off the notorious MS-13 street gang between $30,000 and $50,000 for each sleeper agent smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. The sleepers are also provided with phony identification, most often bogus matricula consular ID cards indistinguishable from Mexico's official ID, now accepted in the U.S. to open bank accounts and obtain driver's licenses.

The Bush administration's unwillingness to secure the U.S.-Mexico border has puzzled and dismayed a growing number of activists and ordinary citizens who see it as the No. 1 security threat to the nation. The Minuteman organization is planning a major mobilization of thousands of Americans this fall designed to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border as it did in April with a 23-mile stretch in Arizona.According to Williams' sources, thousands of al-Qaida sleeper agents have now been forward deployed into the U.S. to carry out their individual roles in the coming "American Hiroshima" plan.Bin Laden's goal, according to the book, is to kill at least 4 million Americans, 2 million of whom must be children. Only then, bin Laden has said, would the crimes committed by America on the Arab and Muslim world be avenged.

There is virtually no doubt among intelligence analysts al-Qaida has obtained fully assembled nuclear weapons, according to Williams. The only question is how many. Estimates range between a dozen and 70. The breathtaking news is that an undetermined number of these weapons, including suitcase bombs, mines and crude tactical nuclear weapons, have already been smuggled into the U.S. ­ at least some across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The future plan, according to captured al-Qaida agents and documents, suggests the attacks will take place simultaneously in major cities throughout the country ­ including New York, Boston, Washington, Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles.

In response to the G2 Bulletin revelations, Chris Simcox, founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a citizen action group demanding the U.S. government take control of its borders, said an immediate military presence on the borders is now imperative "to stop the overwhelming influx of unidentified, potentially hostile and seditious persons coming across at an alarming rate."

"Terrorists have carte blanche to carry practically anything they want across our national line at this time," he said. "As ordinary citizens have warned this government for years, the only surprising part about the new information reported here is that nothing apocalyptic from Mexican-border weapons trafficking has yet happened. Terrorism has reared its ugly head in London again these past few days, and as we know all too well we are not immune in this country. At this point, the next attempt to attack America at home is just a matter of 'when,' not 'if.' And our unsecured borders have surely contributed to this threat ­ yet our government officials continue to fiddle while our nation's margin of security and safety burns away. The president and Congress had better wake up beforethey have to answer for another devastating terrorist incursion on our own soil.

Editor's note: Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin is an online, subscription intelligence news service from the creator of ­ a journalist who has been developing sources around the world for almost 30 years.

© 2005

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Frank Rich's War

MSM are continuing to scream about the Bush Administration is lieing. Facts are coming out that it is just the influence of liberals apparently attempting to topple the credibility of President Bush to the voting public. The Liberal media are planting seeds in the publics mind to sway future elecitons of 2006 and 2008. However when testimony is examined in both the press and Congressional committee reports it is a different story.
Read this rebuttal from the NY Sun Editorial Staff:

New York Sun Staff Editorial
November 28, 2005

Those who charge President Bush and Vice President Cheney with lying to get America involved in the war in Iraq, as the New York Times columnist Frank Rich did yesterday, have a special obligation to get the truth correct themselves. It's one thing for Mr. Rich to disagree with the decision to go to war in Iraq and to blame Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney for the decision. It's another for Mr. Rich to accuse our elected leaders of misleading the country while the columnist himself goes about misleading readers of The New York Times.

The Niger Uranium

Mr. Rich's New York Times column yesterday refers to Mr. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address with the "bogus 16 words about Saddam's fictitious African uranium." Those words were, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." But those 16 words are neither bogus nor fictitious. They were and are true. A July 2004 report of the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported that an Iraqi delegation visited Niger in June of 1999 and met with Niger's then-prime minister, Ibrahim Mayaki. The committee relayed that Mr. Mayaki said the meeting was about "expanding commercial relations" between the two countries, which Mr. Mayaki interpreted to mean "that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales."

A July 2004 report by the British government's Butler Commission found that Mr. Bush's State of the Union comment was "well-founded." As the Commission put it, "It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999.The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger's exports, the intelligence was credible. ... The forged documents were not available to the British Government at the time its assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine it."

According to the Butler Commission, Saddam Hussein's government claimed that a 1999 mission to Niger by Iraq's ambassador to the Vatican was for the purpose of conveying an invitation to the Nigerian president to visit Iraq. Now, it's possible that, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, if Frank Rich were president, he would have concluded that the Iraqi ambassador to the Vatican probably just had jetted down to Niger for the purpose of hand-delivering an invitation. But the British concluded otherwise, and it's hardly "bogus" or "fictitious" for Mr. Bush to have said so. Given Saddam's known nuclear ambitions - remember Osirak? - and Niger's main export, would it have been prudent for Mr. Bush to take the word of Saddam's envoy over that of the British?

Two Commissions

Mr. Rich's New York Times column yesterday accuses Messrs. Bush and Cheney of "falsely claiming they've been exonerated by two commissions that looked into prewar intelligence - neither of which addressed possible White House misuse and mischaracterization of that intelligence." Yet two major reports that looked into the matter of the administration and intelligence did exonerate the president. Here is a quote from the report of the bipartisan Robb-Silberman commission: "The Commission found no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community's pre-war assessments of Iraq's weapons programs. As we discuss in detail in the body of our report, analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments."

Here is a quote from the report of the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: "The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence, or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities." Yet, in contravention of those conclusions - reached by groups that included Democrats such as Senators Edwards, Levin, Wyden, and Durbin and Clinton administration officials Lloyd Cutler, William Studeman, and Walter Slocombe - Mr. Rich speaks of "the administration's deliberate efforts to suppress or ignore intelligence that contradicted its Iraq crusade."

September 11 and Iraq

Mr. Rich accuses Mr. Cheney of dissembling by conflating the terrorists of September 11, 2001, with those we are fighting in Iraq. As evidence that Mr. Cheney is lying he cites an American general who says the Iraqi insurgency is 90% homegrown. But it's undisputed that the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq is a Jordanian, Zarqawi, who shares with the rest of Al Qaeda, including the September 11 terrorists, the goal of re-establishing the caliphate. Certainly in their violent targeting of civilians and their jihadist rhetoric, those who attacked New York office buildings on September 11 and those who are blowing up restaurants and hospitals in Iraq have a lot in common. One may choose to emphasize or de-emphasize the similarities, but emphasizing the similarities as Mr. Cheney has done hardly amounts to dissembling.

The DIA Report and Senator Levin

Mr. Rich references a report of the Defense Intelligence Agency released by Senator Levin, a Democrat of Michigan, which Mr. Rich said demolished the credibility of a source the administration used "for its false claims about Iraq-Al Qaeda collaboration." Here's how Mr. Levin hyped the report in a press release. "In February 2002, the DIA stated the following, which has remained classified until now: 'Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control.' That DIA finding is stunningly different from repeated Administration claims of a close relationship between Saddam and al-Qaeda. Just imagine the impact if that DIA conclusion had been disclosed at the time. It surely could have made a difference in the congressional vote authorizing the war."

The only stunning thing here is the disingenuousness of Messrs. Levin and Rich. First of all, the DIA report is not much different from what Bush administration officials were saying publicly at the time. On February 6, 2002, the director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, made a similar argument in public testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, saying, "Baghdad has a long history of supporting terrorism, altering its targets to reflect changing priorities and goals. It has also had contacts with al-Qa'ida. Their ties may be limited by divergent ideologies, but the two sides' mutual antipathy toward the United States and the Saudi royal family suggests that tactical cooperation between them is possible - even though Saddam is well aware that such activity would carry serious consequences."

Moreover, the notion that the secular Baathists and the Islamic jihadists are so ideologically divergent that they will not work together has been disproven by what is going on now in Iraq, where they are cooperating against Iraqi moderates and American troops.

James Bamford

Mr. Rich cites the reporting in Rolling Stone of James Bamford. Yet even Mr. Rich's own newspaper, the Times, in reviewing Mr. Bamford's 2001 book, remarked on Mr. Bamford's "palpable distaste for the Israeli state." Said the Times review, "Rather too credulously, Bamford sides with the conspiracy theorists."

The Truth

Mr. Rich writes that the White House's record on the road to Iraq recalls the saying, "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'" Here is what Mr. Bush said in his 2003 State of the Union address, the one whose 16 words about Uranium in Africa caused such a storm. "The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages - leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained - by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape. If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning."

That the president spoke the truth has been sadly confirmed in free Iraq. The Associated Press's Nadia Abou El-Magd interviewed Firas Adnan, whose tongue had been cut off with a box cutter by a Saddam loyalist. Mr. Adnan, "his slurred words barely comprehensible," said of Saddam, "He is a despot, the biggest despot, Iraq will be much better without him." Susan Sachs of Mr. Rich's own New York Times reported from the mass graves of Hilla: "On April 11, 1991, a few weeks into the Shiite rebellion, Iraqi helicopters dropped leaflets over Karbala ordering everyone to leave or be attacked with chemical weapons. Mr. Mohani piled his relatives into a pickup truck and a car and fled. About four miles south of the city, the escape route was blocked. There, he said, he saw Mr. Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, executing people randomly at a checkpoint. 'He was telling people to get out of their cars and then he would shoot them, shoot them until his arm was too tired to do it anymore.'"

Does Mr. Rich think his own colleague and the Associated Press are also part of what he derides as "propaganda" and "the disinformation assembly line"? And when it comes time for a new generation to ask their elders what they did during the war to end the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, what are the editors of the Times going to have to say for themselves?

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Death of Love

The bottom line: The murder of innocense is evil - sowing & reaping to follow. The execution of a murderer - the result of sowing and reaping. Christian Charity is always to be acted on. God's Grace is to all mankind the murderer and the wrongful murdered. Pro-choicers claim pro-lifers are hypocrites. Why? A pro-lifer will condemn murder as abortion and capital punishment as justice. This is a great misunderstanding. God operates in both Justice and Grace.

Grace expiates Justice through the Blood of Jesus and belief in the Lord's bodily Resurrection from the dead. That is simple. Nonetheless God is clear, whatever is sown is reaped in this life or the life to come. For the murderer, Justice happens on earth and Grace happens in the next life by shunning hell and gaining Heaven.

Then there is the principle of Mercy. Grace is guarranteed once faith occurs. Nothing can take that away. Yet sin separates from God. Mercy is when God steps in to wipe the slate clean. That is why a Christian must alway confess his sin to God - it enables Mercy. I believe in Mercy for truly repentant murderers. That's God's call though, He knows the heart and thoughts of humanity. God knows the past, present and future as one vision.

So again it comes back to the bottom line: sowing and reaping.

Here's another perspective from another blogger, Ken Brown:


by Ken Brown
November 28, 2005
Signs of the Times Blog

Charlie Lehardy of anotherthink has written an interesting piece on abortion and the death penalty. He notes that there's no comparing the deaths of a 1000 convicted criminals with those of 45 million innocent children (the US totals since each became legal in 1976 and 1973, respectively). But he argues that the common conservative Christian position strongly supporting the one while violently opposing the other (sometimes literally), is open to the charge of hypocrisy. He therefore proposes a deal with the left: we’ll give up the death penalty, if you give up all “elective” abortions.

My first response to this (admittedly unrealistic) suggestion was overwhelmingly positive. But the more I think about it, the less sure I become. In his amazing little book called Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton argues that a defining feature of historical Christianity is its refusal to take such middle roads, preferring to maintain both sides of any paradox. This applies as much to charity as to the doctrine of the divinity and humanity of Christ. Classic Christian charity is not some vague feeling that we ought to help those in need, nor is it the eminently sensible pagan willingness to forgive some sins but not others. Both of these are dilutions. One allows you to love all people, no matter how unlovely, while the other allows you to treat terrible sins with terrible justice. But each embraces one virtue only at the expense of the other. Christian orthodoxy accepted neither of these.

“It came in startlingly with a sword, and clove one thing from another. It divided the crime from the criminal. The criminal we must forgive unto seventy times seven. The crime we must not forgive at all. It was not enough that slaves who stole wine inspired partly anger and partly kindness. We must be much more angry with theft than before, and yet much kinder to thieves than before.... By defining its main doctrine, the Church not only kept seemingly inconsistent things side by side, but, what is more, allowed them to break out in a sort of artistic violence otherwise possible only to anarchists.”

The mainstream evangelical views on capital punishment and abortion (discounting the inevitable radicals) reflect something of this sentiment. Sin is sin and the worst crimes must hold at least the threat of the worst punishments. The death of an innocent must be treated with the utmost gravity – whether in an abortion clinic or an electric chair. But at the same time, people are people and even the worst sinners must be granted unmitigated love and forgiveness. No one should go to death row without a chaplain by their side, for no one is beyond redemption.

But it's questionable whether this great Christian paradox of charity plays any substantial role in our execution of the death penalty. I wonder if it ever has. Instead of a symbol of the enormity of sin, combined with an equally powerful symbol of the immense value of the one facing justice, capital punishment is more often viewed as well-deserved retribution on the sinner, or a justified means of offering closure to the victim’s family. Even Christians routinely argue for it on these grounds and therefore implicitly deny their claim to be “pro-life.” What might have been the ultimate affirmation of the irrevocable value of human life has been twisted into a distorted and arbitrary hypocrisy. Instead of allowing "wrath and love to run wild," they have become dangerously mixed, to great harm. Combine this with a "justice" system that is anything but, and Charlie’s proposal seems eminently reasonable. To end abortion I would gladly accept this compromise, but I cannot help feeling that some of the grandeur of the classic Christian position has been irrevocably lost.

I'm curious what the rest of you think.

Source: click Title.

Christians slam evangelist's pro-Beijing remarks

This is unimaginable! You know I don't know much about Luis Palau, however to praise the Communist government for how they treat Christians is a reprehensible delusion. He equated Church legitimacy registration in China to American Church registration to the IRS. How dumb can you get? There was an allusion that Palau was trying to get in good with Chinese authorities so he could do an open air evangelistic campaign at Tiananmen Square. Certainly that is not justification to praise a government system that supports atheism and torture of Christians to maintain atheism.

By Julia Duin
Published November 28, 2005

Chinese Christian leaders and activists are upset at Oregon evangelist Luis Palau, who recently said reports of religious persecution in China were exaggerated and compared Beijing's actions to U.S. tax regulations.
Bob Fu, president of the Texas-based China Aid Association, said remarks made Nov. 19 by Mr. Palau at a press conference in Beijing are "irresponsible and misleading" and deserve a "rebuke."
Mr. Palau told reporters that some reports of religious persecution are unjustified, according to a transcript on, and suggested that China's unofficial churches should register to "receive greater freedom and blessings from the government."
He then compared church registration in China to American tax law.
"Even in the United States, you can't get away with defying order," he said. "I feel that registering is a positive thing for the followers of Jesus. Believers should live in the open, especially when the Chinese government offers it.
"Jesus said that we are the light of the world and that we should not be kept hidden or in the dark. Therefore, believers should share their faith openly. If I were Chinese, I would definitely register. Not registering only lends to misinterpretations and misunderstandings."
In a Nov. 19 interview with China Daily, posted on the newspaper's Web site, the evangelist said, "Chinese people enjoy more religious freedom than people overseas imagine" and said he'd been allowed complete latitude in his weeklong visit. "Nobody told me what to say and what not to say," he said. Mr. Palau was in Beijing to speak at a government-hosted event for Chinese charity groups. He also appeared with President Bush on Nov. 20 during a visit to Gangwashi Church, one of only five approved Protestant churches in the Chinese capital of 15 million people.
Mr. Fu said Mr. Palau's words were deceptive.
"To equate the church-registration requirement by the IRS in the U.S.A. for tax purposes to forced registration under the Communist Party's Religious Affairs Bureau is totally misleading," he said.
"Reverend Palau's China religious-freedom remarks will be much more convincing if he is allowed to do an open evangelism in the Tiananmen Square, just like what he did at the Mall in Washington, D.C., recently." A spokesman for Mr. Palau did not return calls Friday.
Of China's estimated 80 million to 100 million Christians, three-quarters belong to underground churches not registered with the government. China requires registered churches to have a government-selected pastor from an approved seminary. Registered churches also must agree to approved service times and locations.
Children younger than 18 cannot be baptized or attend Sunday school even in approved churches, and congregants cannot evangelize outside church walls. Churches must adhere to preaching guidelines, and some topics -- such as the Second Coming and Jesus' miracles -- are forbidden.
Mr. Fu said he got the impression from a conversation last summer that the evangelist wanted to be the first Westerner to hold an open-air evangelistic rally.
"He wanted to please Chinese officials in order to get permission to do his thing," Mr. Fu said. "He wanted to be the first man to do a crusade in a park."
Mr. Fu also released a statement by Zhang Mingxuan, chairman of the China House Church Alliance, who was detained Nov. 18 to 21 by police and kept him out of Beijing until Mr. Bush had left.
"We demand Rev. Palau to retract his irresponsible remarks, which deeply hurt the feelings of hundreds of house church prisoners and their families," Mr. Zhang said.
Mr. Fu also quoted "Sarah" Liu Xianzhi, a Chinese immigrant in Midland, Texas, who says she was tortured and imprisoned for six years on behalf of a denomination known as the South China Church.
"I do want to let Reverend Palau know there are still 16 pastors and evangelists from our church serving in different prisons in China now," she said. "Reverend Palau is always welcome to visit our church and pastors in prison."
Copyright © 2005 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Relationship of God’s Providence to Market Economics and Economic Theory

Here is an article that discusses theology and capitalism in terms that can meld them together. The author uses terms as spontaneous markets and explores the possibility the spontaneity might be related to God’s Providence. Indeed in terms of Creation (I presume relating to property ownership) there is an explanation that defines its difference from Providence. It is a bit pedagogic and long, but a fascinating read. Most importantly it answers the socialist question, “How can capitalism – preeminently motivated by self-interest – and Christianity – preeminently motivated by altruism or selflessness – be mingled together for the benefit of humankind? Read the article. Read it slowly and absorb its thoughts. Tell me what your thoughts are.

Robin Klay and John Lunn
Hope College
Journal of Markets and Morality
Acton Institute

In this article, we examine the doctrine of providence to see if the market system used by the United States and many other industrial nations can be thought of as part of God’s providential care. The doctrine of providence concerns the preservation and direction of the universe. Theologians discussing providence sometimes refer to examples from the natural sciences but not from the social sciences. However, economists since Adam Smith have used the idea of “spontaneous order” to describe the orderly function of market systems even when no human agency is directly responsible for its operation. We suggest that this can be thought of as a part of God’s providential care of humanity.
We discuss the ideas of Smith and Friedrich Hayek relating to spontaneous order and then examine how the market system works. We focus on the impersonal and anonymous nature of many economic interactions today and how this differs from the more-personal relationships that characterized the economy of ancient Israel. The model of perfect competition can be thought of as a tool to analyze the workings of the economic system when no, one person has any conscious power over the plans of any other person. We conclude by examining whether Christians can argue for the market system when it is based on a notion of self-interest rather than on altruism.
Markets coordinate billions of individual decisions made daily by workers, businesses, and consumers. Some moral authorities vilify markets for the role that they are assumed to play in promoting greed, materialism, and inequality. Others extol the virtues of markets, such as their ability to create abundance while honoring the free choices of individual agents and groups.
Since the Jewish and Christian Scriptures were written before impersonal markets became a primary method for allocating resources, they provide relatively little guidance to believers about how such markets should be regarded. Of course, they do teach basic ethical norms and principles about acting justly in isolated transactions. For example, one is to pay a fair wage and charge a fair price, without coercion or fraud. However, much more is said about the sacred and secular roles of families, religious authorities, churches, nations, and governments than about markets. God intends the state, for example, to be his agent in maintaining order and justice (Rom. 13:1-5). And, the church is portrayed as the “body of Christ,” knit together to live effectively into the kingdom of God.
In his book, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism,1 Michael Novak provides a profoundly Christian view of democratic capitalism, which is a social system based on capitalism, democracy, and strong moral-cultural institutions. He argues that by making use of practical wisdom, this threefold system provides for the flourishing of body and spirit. In so doing, it seems to “imitate Providence.” In this article, we examine whether decentralized markets can be thought of as instruments of God’s providential care of humanity.
To examine these questions, we first look at what some theologians say about providence. We examine some patristic thought, which actually uses the Greek word oikonomia as a term for providence, as well as the views of some writers in the Reformed and Catholic traditions. This examination will have to be brief, since the theological literature that can be utilized is immense. In the second part, we will look at aspects of Adam Smith’s thinking that are relevant to providence, as well as some writings of other economists, including Friedrich Hayek. In the third part, we will offer some thoughts on the marketplace as a part of God’s providential care. Finally, we will address a concern that many likely have, namely, whether it is reasonable to describe a process as providential that relies upon “self-interest.”
The Doctrine of Providence
The Greek term oikonomia, from which we get the English word economy, did not have the same meaning as the English term. However, some of the concepts and associations are relevant to both economics and the idea of providence. In his study, God in Patristic Thought, G. L. Prestige examines the writings of the early Greek fathers on God and providence. He writes, “Since God is revealed in his works, it is a matter of some importance to consider the scope and manner of his providential ordering, or as the fathers called it, his ‘economy’ (oikonomia).”2 Aristotle used the term to describe the overseeing of a large farm and household.3 The meaning of oikonomia is to administer or oversee an office. It covered the administration of property. It also meant to “regulate or control” in a general sense, “… as the natural forces of the body ‘economize’ the function of animal life, or as spiritual beings ‘economize’ their life on selective and prudent principles.”4 Eventually the word came to be applied to penance and to the dispensing of alms.
Administration implies method; so, economy acquired the sense of plan as design. Design involves practical methods of execution; so, “economize” also meant “to arrange” or “to dispose.” Prestige quotes Clement, “The mother’s milk, ‘… is economized in connection with giving birth, and is supplied to the offspring.…’”5 Prestige continues, “A word with such a range of associations was extremely apt for adoption as an expression of the providential order. It covers either such gifts as God sends and supplies in a providential manner, or such events as he designs and disposes.”6 For the Greeks, the noun economy had a variety of meanings, including charge, ministration, good management, business, occupation or function, arrangement, system, administration of alms, and discretion.
Prestige also quotes Maximus the Confessor: “We must assume three wills in God—that of purpose (eudokia), that of economy, and that of acquiescence (or concession).”7 He illustrates the first with the call of Abraham, the second with the story of Joseph’s life, and the third by the trials of Job. Finally, Prestige notes, “But divine economy is just as clearly manifested in the form of natural or spiritual law as it is in personal lives.”8
We do not claim that these meanings of the Greek word must be identical to the meaning and connotation of the words economy and economize in modern usage. However, given this linguistic background, one might expect that theologians familiar with Greek would often discuss economic issues when they discuss providence, but we have not found this to be the case. The theological writings on providence are voluminous; so, we limit our discussion by ignoring many subtopics, such as the possibility of miracles and questions of theodicy.
Benjamin Wirt Farley offers a historical discussion of providence within the Reformed tradition in his book, The Providence of God. He writes:
The providence of God in the Reformed tradition, specifically, may be defined as the conviction that God, in his goodness and power, preserves, accompanies, and directs the entire universe. This divine preservation, accompaniment, and direction pertains to all of God’s creation: the physical universe, the biological world of organisms, plants, and sentient creatures, and, above all, the realm of history—human beings and nations.9
The threefold discussion of preservation, accompaniment, and direction comes from Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics.10
Barth claims that the term providence can be traced to Genesis 22:14, where Abraham is stopped from offering Isaac to God, and a ram is found to use for the sacrifice. The Hebrew is Yahweh jireh (Yahweh will provide), which was translated into Latin in the Vulgate as Deus providebit. The Latin verb provideo means “to provide for” or “to foresee,” but Barth adds, “In this passage, ‘to see’ really means ‘to see about.’ It is an active and selective predetermining, preparing, and procuring of a lamb to be offered instead of Isaac. God ‘sees to’ this burnt offering for Abraham.”11
According to Barth, the doctrine of providence is part of the doctrine of Creation, but providence is not identified as any continuous creation process. Creation refers to creation out of nothing, a process that stopped on the “seventh day.” Providence refers to the preservation of the creation. Barth argues that from Colossians 1:17 we learn that, “… all things not only have their existence (v. 16) but also their consistence, their order and continued existence … in the Son.…”12 Providence is a maintenance of the creation. The idea is that without God’s continuing providential activity, creation would revert back to chaos.
Within the concept of providence, it is common to talk about the preservation of the creation. “God continues to see that the creation is maintained, that order prevails, and that life is sustained through, over, and above the species’ divinely given power to propagate themselves.”13 Farley adds, “… God’s preserving work is to be seen in the constancy of the orders and forms of nature, which are expressions both of the divine will and of God’s faithfulness to his creation.”14 The laws of nature tend to be cited as examples of God’s providence, although many Christian thinkers also argue that the laws of nature operate at God’s will and pleasure.15 Thus, God is not the god of deism who created things with certain laws and then stepped back from his work and is currently uninvolved.
The preservation of humanity is also included in the discussion of providence. “Old and New Testament alike ascribe the preservation of human life to the personal activity of God.”16 God also preserves the people of God. Donald Bloesch states that the biblical view is that God is actively engaged in shaping the destiny of his people. “The world is not out of his control but wholly within his purview and guidance … God does not act arbitrarily or irrationally but always in accord with his innermost purposes … steadfast love and righteousness.”17 Bloesch focuses on God’s providence in leading his people toward a new order of existence. He writes, “Christian faith asserts against fatalism that all events are controlled by the providential hand of God, which does not override human freedom but establishes it. Providence is the divine direction of human destiny to new possibilities.…”18 Bloesch notes that classical theologians tended to blur the distinction between fate and providence.19
Two other themes include the cooperation of God with all things, and the governance of God, which tend to focus on issues relating to history and a goal of history. While interesting and important, these themes are less-related to our question, and so will not be discussed. Further, we focus on general providence, which deals with creation and humanity in general, rather than special providence, which deals with special actions by God for one or a few individuals.
Theologians have discussed providence with respect to the natural sciences much more often than the social sciences, although the discussion tends to be vague. An exception is John Polkinghorne, who left his university position as a theoretical physicist to study theology. Polkinghorne20 points to recent advances in physics that reject the mechanistic approach, which prevailed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He writes, “Once we consider complex dynamical systems, they exhibit a delicate sensitivity to circumstances that makes them intrinsically unpredictable. The future is no longer contained in the past; there is scope for real becoming.”21
A more open universe encourages the theologian to consider God to be in continuous interaction with it. Polkinghorne makes much of the Anthropic Principle, which constrains theories of the origin of the universe to allow individual human existence. “The scientific counterpart to the reiterated statement of the creation myth in Genesis, that God saw that it was good, is the Anthropic Principle’s recognition of the astonishing potentiality with which the laws of physics are endowed.”22 Very slight changes in the first few moments after the “big bang” would have made life, as we know it, impossible.
It is our impression that few theologians would put the “laws of economics” on the same level with the “laws of nature.” We have not found many examples of theologians who discuss economic issues within the context of providence. Jacob Viner23 examined the intellectual history of the role of providence in the social order and offered a couple of examples. In one example, Viner cites the idea that the necessities of life, such as water, are in abundance, while nonessentials, such as diamonds or pearls, are hidden in the land or the sea. According to Viner, the idea developed in ancient Greece and was picked up by some of the early Greek Christian theologians. The theme runs through the centuries, and Frances Hutcheson, a teacher of Adam Smith, wrote, “By the wisdom and goodness of Providence really important things are more abundant and cheaper than those that a wise man would regard of little use.”24 A second example given by Viner is the idea that exchange among nations is due to God’s providence and has the purpose of encouraging universal brotherhood. Again, Viner finds the idea among pagan Greek and Roman writers. There are fewer examples of Christian theologians articulating this sense of providence than there are examples pointing to the relative abundance of necessities.
Instead of including economic relationships as part of God’s providence, theologians tend to examine economic issues in sections of their works devoted to ethics. However, human beings are social beings and have developed highly complex social and economic arrangements. The preservation of the species involves more than propagation or the production of food. If food is produced but not transported and exchanged, people suffer. The ability of human beings to learn and understand economic relations, to create institutions that enable societies to produce, transport, and exchange goods and services, and to alter those institutions as the complexity and diversity of human society increases, would seem to be part of God’s providence as well.
Thomas Aquinas and the Catechism of the Catholic Church25 depict the work of providence as the ordering of all things toward God’s ultimate ends for them. Unlike governments, however, God achieves his will for humanity not by fiat but by means that include the free choices of persons. Aquinas says that this approach flows from God’s great goodness, thereby imparting the “dignity of causality … even to creatures.”26 We will argue that the social ordering of things through markets is simply one vehicle by which God achieves his ends while respecting free choice. Furthermore, any evil that remains in nature and markets does not negate God’s providence, since both natural and economic orders constrain and punish some evil and because God alone is able to extract good from all types of evil.
In the next section, we examine some of the ideas of two, prominent economists—Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek—to see how their ideas tie in with the doctrine of providence.
Reflections on the Work of Hayek and Smith in Relationship to Providence
In Law, Legislation, and Liberty,27 the Austrian economist, Friedrich Hayek, provides a deep analysis of spontaneous orders in human society. His aim is to show the virtues of such orders and to explain why those virtues ought to be preserved against the tendency to seek control over the outcomes of human interactions. For our purposes, his attention to the market order (he prefers to call it “catallaxy”) is most useful.
Hayek describes what all economists recognize: the marvelous way that markets coordinate independent decisions, involving millions of economic agents (both individuals and collective “persons,” such as corporations and associations), thereby enabling the creation of material abundance. Each person is presumed to be seeking his own good, especially by using his physical and human capital in ways that provide income needed to acquire the means to achieve his own ends. Those ends are not typically “selfish,” in the narrow sense but are ends most directly relevant to the welfare of those whom the individual knows best—self, family, village, association, co-workers (even co-religionists far away), et cetera.
Those writers who insist that some guide in society (e.g., government) be entrusted with ensuring that markets create specific outcomes for individuals and groups implicitly assume that it is possible for one mind or group to have all the necessary information. However, such a guide would have to be all-knowing in order to be able to predict the near and distant impacts of any decision made—to buy, to work, to produce, to save, and so forth. For example, what will be the impact on people living in a village in Cambodia if I choose to buy a shirt made in America in preference to one made there? That is a relatively simple connection, at least if many others join me in making a similar decision. What if, instead, the American company from which I will buy a shirt hires a worker of Mexican origin who regularly sends money home to his family in northern Mexico? Suppose the family, then, buys aluminum roofing made in Mexico, using bauxite imported from Chile. Or, perhaps, the family pools its resources with others in a local savings organization, another of whose members takes out a loan to buy a truck and uses it to bring produce into the city. He then spends some of his income on shirts made in Cambodia. Even this is a relatively simple case compared to billions of connections made daily via buying and selling of goods, services, and financial instruments throughout the world.
Hayek claims that market systems of exchange28 are the only mechanisms known to humankind that can peacefully, and without coercion, coordinate billions of decisions in such a way that each decision-maker is left free to choose among various means, goods, and services to suit his or her own personal ends. After all, how could Sally, the buyer of an umbrella, who is fifty steps removed from Salim, the maker of umbrella parts in an Indian village, be expected to know that Salim is Muslim, and perhaps that he normally would not want to deal with Christians? Markets allow Muslims and Hindus, believers and secularists, vegetarians and cattle ranchers, athletes and artists, Haitians and Parisians to all serve each others’ economic interests without the need to either convert the other or go to war.
Impersonal connections made through markets produce incentives for persons at remote distances from each other to investigate new opportunities to work, produce, and save. Ultimately, when most players of the market “game”29 attend to the changing incentives, all members of society are likely to be better-off than before, each in terms of her own ends. This is because every one of the billions of actors uniquely possesses information about his or her own talents, drives, opportunities, commitments, and constraints. No person or group much beyond the local village level could have more than a passing acquaintance with this information—especially since it is always changing. As a result, it is in the interest of all players to have access to a system of markets that guarantee them the freedom to explore unique opportunities and to use their own resources (or those fairly acquired from others) to create goods and services.
This is not to say that each transaction benefits all others. Such could not be achieved, except by divine fiat. Surely, no government could regulate markets to accomplish this, because it would forever be acting behind an impenetrable veil of ignorance about distant persons, conditions, and times. Nevertheless, in moral reflection about markets—from the Bible up to the present—critics have worried about whether market prices are fair to buyers and sellers. Hence, the medieval Church called for setting maximum and minimum prices. In our day, the tradition of controlling some prices continues in the form of rent, minimum wage rate, and maximum interest-rate laws.
Since Adam Smith, economists have routinely pointed out that price controls are unnecessary, because voluntary exchanges between persons automatically produce benefits for both parties (although the benefits may not be equally shared). Hayek extends this observation to show that because markets provide incentives for each player to make the most of information known only to him, markets vastly enhance the possibilities for increased production, consumption, and exchange over any other coordination device (e.g., decrees).
At no time does Hayek say that moral decisions are not important. He does, however, identify the locus of moral decision-making in the individual, not in spontaneous orders, such as markets. He vigorously criticizes notions of social justice, which come down to insisting that the outcomes of actions within a spontaneous social network must be good; and that if not, all those even remotely involved are guilty of injustice. Because only God could possibly know those outcomes (except the ones closest at hand), it is within one’s power to ensure that each and every choice will lead to some ultimate good. (It does not matter how that good is defined, e.g., in terms of a problematic summing up of marginal personal goods and bads across a group, or in terms of an end chosen by a supreme ruler).
Given the heavy veil that blocks from view distant repercussions of decisions made by every person, group, and government, it seems logical that the individual should be the primary locus of choice. Hayek asserts that many, if not most, of the moral and other rules that humans follow are so deeply embedded in our social history that often we are not even conscious of their existence.
Adam Smith, to whom Hayek pays frequent tribute, was the first to analyze thoroughly how human societies come to develop certain moral rules. In Theory of Moral Sentiments,30 he explains how each person learns the rules (although not necessarily at the conscious level). First, I observe how others respond when a person does X or Y. I also take note of whether others exhibit approval or disapproval of me when I do X or Y. If it is approval that X garners in both cases, I conclude that this act is “good”; and if disapproval is registered when Y is done, I conclude that this act is “bad.” In this description of how personal conscience is formed (what he calls the “impartial observer”), Smith does not set aside the importance of moral instruction (e.g., by the church) and laws, which help define what is good and bad. However, he holds that these social instruments primarily reinforce built-in inclinations to do good and to avoid evil. Thus, in the course of ordinary life, we eventually even desire to do what is praiseworthy, although no one will ever know. Furthermore, much of Smith’s work illustrates how competitive markets not only reinforce virtues such as hard work but also punish vices such as dishonesty—thereby enhancing the well-being of all participants.
Among the many virtues that humans naturally come to value, Smith pays special attention to prudence, justice, and benevolence. He writes: “Concern for our own happiness recommends to us the virtue of prudence; concern for that of other people, the virtues of justice and beneficence—of which the one restrains us from hurting, the other prompts us to promote that happiness.”31
According to Smith,32 the Author of the universe has built into us the capacity to recognize right and wrong. Religion, philosophy, and laws may make the natural moral sense more concrete and reinforce it with promises of reward and punishment, but they are not the origin of moral sensibilities and behavior.
Furthermore, Smith argues that there is no single, overarching virtue—such as prudence, according to certain philosophers, or benevolence, according to many Christian ethicists. Instead, each virtue has its proper place. It is the duty of individuals to balance different virtues in their daily lives. Thus, courage should not become rashness, or prudence a cold disposition to others, or promise-keeping an occasion for failing to take care of oneself. Smith gives the example of a thief who forces his hold-up victim to promise that he will hand over a certain sum of money at a later time. As Smith points out, most of us believe that such promises may be broken, for the sake of a greater good.
Smith writes, on the one hand, that
… by acting according to the dictates of our moral faculties, we necessarily pursue the most effectual means for promoting the happiness of mankind, and may therefore be said, in some sense, to cooperate with the Deity, and to advance, as far as in our power, the plan of Providence [emphasis added].33
On the other hand,
The administration of the great system of the universe … [and] the care of the universal happiness of all rational and sensible beings, is the business of God and not of man. To man is allotted a much humbler department but one much more suitable to the weakness of his powers, and to the narrowness of his comprehension—the care of his own happiness, of that of his family, his friends, his country; that he is occupied in contemplating the more sublime, can never be an excuse for his neglecting the more humble department … [emphasis added].34
Smith, like Hayek, urges that for lack of knowledge about the distant results of our actions, we should pay utmost attention to our responsibilities close at hand. Furthermore, humans must not presume to be able to act always according to the dictates of benevolence alone. The human task, as mentioned above, is to achieve a certain balance of virtues, in personal responses to diverse and changing circumstances.
Smith argued against his mentor in moral philosophy, Francis Hutcheson, who taught that each act undertaken should be held up to the standard that it must promote human happiness. Hutcheson also taught that when choices were made in view of the happiness of the largest human community, these were the most virtuous of all. Smith summarizes Hutcheson’s idea by saying:
The most virtuous of all affections, therefore, was that which embraces as its objects the happiness of all intelligent beings. The least virtuous, on the contrary, of those to which the character of virtue could in any respect belong, was that which aimed no further than at the happiness of an individual, such as a son, a brother, a friend.
[According to Hutcheson], self-love was a principle that could never be virtuous in any degree.… [And furthermore,] those benevolent actions that were performed, notwithstanding some strong motive from self-interest, were the more virtuous upon that account [emphasis added].35
Smith counters:
Benevolence may, perhaps, be the sole principle of action in the Deity, and there are several not improbable arguments that tend to persuade us that it is so. It is not easy to conceive what other motive an independent and all-perfect Being, who stands in need of nothing external and whose happiness is complete in himself, can act from. But whatever may be the case with the Deity, so imperfect a creature as man, the support of whose existence requires so many things external to him, must often act from many other motives. The condition of human nature [would be] peculiarly hard if those affections which, by the very nature of our being, ought frequently to influence our conduct, could, upon no occasion, appear virtuous, or deserve esteem and commendation from anybody [emphasis added].36
Smith, like Hayek, provides both rational (lack of information) and semi-theological (God’s prerogative) arguments against humans seeking, above all, to achieve the “happiness of all intelligent beings.”37 In addition, Smith develops the argument that every virtue has its own proper reward, as well as its own domain. Thus, kindness begets gratitude, and honesty begets a good reputation for truthfulness.
However, many times humans collectively bemoan the fact that those who exhibit what Smith calls the “soft virtues” (such as kindness) sometimes find themselves penniless. Likewise, it often seems unjust when persons who lack much virtue are financially successful. Smith says that we create for ourselves unnecessary anxiety by making such distinctions. Material rewards rightly go to those who save, work hard, and build up new enterprises based upon innovative ideas. Each of these habits is related to a virtue or personal gift, such as prudence, courage in risk-taking, creativity, and so forth. It is only fitting that such qualities—which are extremely useful in the production of material wealth—should be rewarded through markets.
In general, markets reward what are commonly underesteemed values, such as prudence, inquisitiveness, attentiveness to small changes, and so forth. Samuelson38 once quoted Sir Dennis Robertson, who said that economists “economize on love.” He meant that markets allow humans to create great material abundance without burdening each actor with the need to operate exclusively on the basis of love. Thus, humans are free to employ love where it is best informed.
In a recently published book, The Good of Affluence: Seeking God in a Culture of Wealth,39 John Schneider (a theologian), argues that the most relevant realm of moral choice is circumscribed by what he calls “moral proximity” to the person making the choice. By affirming “moral proximity” as a guide, Schneider does not rule out the possibility that I may be inclined (perhaps by God) to take into account the well-being of someone at a remote physical distance. I might, for instance, contribute to a ministry in Senegal that instructs farmers in new agricultural techniques, because I have heard about their work, and because three years spent in Cameroon make me feel connected to Africans. However, Schneider agrees with Hayek and Smith that distance makes the heart a less-reliable guide. What if a ministry is primarily dedicated to encouraging the development of local crafts in Honduras, of which I approve but am unaware that the potential market for those crafts is severely limited? Without more information about the ministry, its goals, methods, and so on, my contributions to that ministry could fail to help Honduran women who might otherwise have sought out training or longer-lasting employment.
According to Smith, those who deserve rewards and punishment often (though not always) do receive them in this life. One would expect nothing less of the Deity than that he would have arranged for virtues to be rewarded and vices punished by planting a capacity for moral discernment within human nature. Of course, some people die having enjoyed an apparently abundant life, although they have been morally corrupt on virtually all occasions. Others die in crushing poverty, though they have been extraordinarily kind. Smith argues that for this reason, most ordinary people cling to the hope that
… the great Author of our nature will himself execute hereafter, what all the principles that he has given us for the direction of our conduct prompt us to attempt even here; that he will complete the plan which he himself has thus taught us to begin; and will, in a life to come, render to every one according to the works that he has performed in this world.40
Smith is rightly called a deist, and Hayek acknowledged that he was an agnostic. Hayek41 rejected the existence of any form of God that, “… [is] anthropomorphic, personal, or animistic.… The conception of a man-like or mind-like acting being appears to me rather the product of an arrogant over-estimation of the capacities of a man-like mind.” However, Hayek hoped that by being open about his agnosticism, his work would “help religious people more unhesitatingly to pursue those conclusions that we do share [emphasis added].”42 Furthermore, he observed that the source of order in a spontaneous system (in which no part can oversee the whole) “may well concord with religious prohibitions against idolatry.”43
As Christian economists, we agree with Smith about much of his reflection on human nature, including the existence of a built-in moral capacity (also suggested by Paul in the letter to the Romans, chapter 1, especially verses 14-15, and chapter 2:14-15). We are in agreement with both Smith and Hayek about the great benefits to be derived from a system that accords as much freedom as possible to all actors participating in the spontaneous order of markets. Their insistence on the need for moral choices, and their description of the order that markets create out of many independent personal decisions, correspond well with long-standing, common notions of providence. These writers also pay tribute to the Christian understanding that God creates us free to make choices.
By faith, we affirm that the foundation of freedom is in God’s plan, so that each person made in his image, may be free to create, using the gifts and opportunities provided by God’s providence. We also go beyond both Smith and Hayek by affirming that a personal God is at the beginning, middle, and end of all that is good.44 Christian theological reflection on providence typically identifies several constituent parts. In the words of Braunius:45
— He [God in his providential activity] preserves all things in their being and duration;
— He moves all things to their action by concurrence, in fact by precurrence;
— He steers and guides all things to the desired end to which they were appointed from eternity.
We are struck by how resonant these principles are with the workings of markets, as described by both Hayek and Smith. Smith attributes to God the providential roles of building into each person a moral sense; creating strong motivations to exercise virtue (related to the second point above), and by guiding each one by an “invisible hand,” at work in markets. Thus, by pursuing their self-interest through markets, individuals can often contribute to the good of the whole society.
Although both Hayek and Smith assert a key role for the rule of law (regarding justice, property, freedom, et cetera), both also describe how much of our moral sense is built into us as we interact with others. Only subsequently do religion and the law further instruct us. Without the internal disposition to do good (though accompanied by temptations to do evil), and without reinforcement by various groups (including churches), decent societies would have to employ extremely detailed laws and invasive means to enforce them—to the detriment of both freedom and the creation of material abundance. Only recently have economists attempted to estimate empirically the value (including large cost-savings) to all members of society of voluntary organizations that build up moral and social capital.
These interlocking social organizations appear to serve as channels of God’s providence—moving “all things to their action.” Among them, the spontaneous market order is an example of one marvelous means by which God “steers and guides all things to the desired end.”46 For example, partially through the price system created by markets, God “preserves all things in their being and duration,” including natural resources.47 Furthermore, by conveying information about “needs” in diverse places around the world, market incentives help guide individuals toward their vocations—“to which they were appointed from eternity.” Beyond this, the providence of God works in part through changing market opportunities that enable individuals to discover new ways to exercise their gifts or even to embrace new vocations.
The Marketplace As a Part of God’s Providence
Clearly, the economic system of Israel in the time of the prophets or in the time of Jesus was not that of a modern market economy. The same is true for the economic life of Athens discussed by Aristotle.48 Society apart from economics is also quite different now. A key difference is the impersonalism of modern society in Western democracies, compared to the greater importance of personal relationships in earlier times. If one were a part of a village in ancient Israel or a village in medieval Europe, one knew everyone in the area.49 An individual knew the person from whom he purchased seed or from whom she bought a water jug. Economic relationships tended to overlap other types of relationships—family, tribe, friend, co-religionist, and so on.
When economic activity is limited to a small sphere, where everyone knows one another, and when the economy is relatively static, it is feasible to rely on tradition or command to allocate resources. A person can count on personal relationships, or on her role in the society, for some type of protection while making economic decisions. The ethical situation also differs between large and small societies. In a small society a person can be expected to know something about the situation of another with whom he is dealing. In a large market system, that is seldom the case.50 Then how does an economic system function in a large impersonal society?
Smith’s analysis of the emerging market system in his day is an early example of an attempt to answer this question. His is only one example of Scottish thinkers who looked at orderly systems that developed apart from the conscious direction of a few leaders. Hamowy51 discusses how Smith and other members of the “Scottish Enlightenment” developed their theory of spontaneous order:
The theory, simply put, holds that the social arrangements under which we live are of such a high order of complexity that they invariably take their form not from deliberate calculation, but as the unintended consequence of countless individual actions, many of which may be the result of instinct and habit. The theory thus provides an explanation of the origin of complex social structures, without the need to posit the existence of a directing intelligence.52
If we return to our earlier discussion of the meaning of the Greek term, oikonomia, it would be reasonable to expect discussion about economic systems to focus on administration. As noted, the noun could mean business, administration, good management, and so on. In Xenophon’s Oeconomicus,53 he focuses on management of a large, landed estate. This management involved conscious direction, command, and administration. Management and business classes today focus on similar types of things—administration, governance structures, monitoring agents, and so forth. Yet, when Smith examined the system as a whole, he did not look for an administrator or manager who kept the system functioning. Instead, he introduced notions of spontaneous order and the invisible hand. He saw order where one might expect to see chaos.54
Harold Demsetz55 has argued that Smith was concerned with explaining how a decentralized system, with no chief administrator of the economy, could function.56 Many thinkers in Smith’s day likely presumed that formal administration was necessary to maintain an orderly operation of the economy. George Stigler57 traces ideas about competition from Smith to development of the model of perfect competition, a model that has no competitive behavior in it. In this model, market participants are price-takers and have no individual influence on the market or on the price. There is no venue for competitive behavior—such as price competition or advertising. Demsetz argues that the model of perfect competition is better seen, “… as a tool for understanding the price system, and not for understanding competition … represent[ing] a natural evolution from, and vital capstone to, the central interests of the classical writers.”58 Smith and the other classical economists took competition for granted and assumed that competitive behavior provided, “… a pervasive restraint on the pursuit of self-interest.”59
According to Demsetz, the power of the model of perfect competition is the conceptualization of a particular case of the coordination problem: “… the complete absence of conscious control by anyone over the plans of others.”60 In the model of perfect competition, institutions such as the household, the firm, and the government are treated as black boxes, and bear little resemblance to real-world firms, households, or governments. Demsetz continues, “The formulation of perfect decentralization is the accomplishment of the perfect competition model.”61 In fact, Demsetz goes on to rechristen the model of perfect competition as the model of perfect decentralization. The model relies upon individual consumers’ and producers’ making decisions based only on prices and price changes yet shows how the myriad of decisions can be coordinated through the price system. As Demsetz says, “It is a grand intellectual achievement, the only theory yet devised that is capable of imparting an understanding of how the price system integrates decentralized economic decisions.”62
It is the reality captured by this model that we suggest can be thought of as part of God’s providential care of humanity. If a tornado destroys the barn of an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania, the farmer’s neighbors get together and help to rebuild it, but when a hurricane ravishes much of south Florida, people cannot count on the immediate help of neighbors. Those living in the area are all in need of rebuilding. People from other parts of the country may send help of some kind, but the coordinating and informational needs regarding what to send, to whom to send it, and so on are immense. Instead, an inevitable rise locally in the price of building materials encourages consumers of such supplies to economize on them and offers incentives to the producers of the materials to work harder to increase the amount available. The size, complexity, and impersonal nature of modern society make it impossible to rely primarily on the benevolence of others to meet one’s needs. Thanks to the marketplace, we do not have to.
Hayek’s discussion of the market system, as a method of providing an efficient way to economize on information, fits in with this discussion.63 The price system permits people in the local situation to make the decisions needed to maintain order. A lumber mill does not need to know about the hurricane in Florida in order to make decisions that will help the people in Florida. The owner of the mill only has to observe the real price of lumber increasing, to make the correct decision.
To us as Christian economists, the price system is “miraculous” in its simplicity and efficiency. As the size and complexity of populations and societies increase, the coordination problem becomes more acute, but a system has developed that enables millions of people to obtain both the necessities of life and many goods and services beyond that, without relying on militaristic types of institutions. Through his providential care, God preserves all creation, including humanity. It seems that one way by which God preserves humanity is through specific gifts of human disposition, creativity, and vocation, such that markets produce and distribute goods and services throughout societies where no, one person or any region could be self-sufficient.
Can Anything Good Come from Self-Interest?
Instead of seeing the price system as an example of God’s providence, many theologians decry the materialism and selfishness that, they say, are promoted in market economies, and claim that capitalism is unjust.64 Paul Tillich said socialism “… is the only possible economic system from the Christian point of view.”65 How can Christians applaud a system that appears to be based upon greed and self-centeredness?
One response to such views is that an economic system, to be practical, must be built upon human nature as it is found in the world. Not all people are Christians and not all Christians behave selflessly all of the time. Further, as economists we are familiar enough with the concept of “unintended consequences” to know that attempts to do what is best for others often make the people we try to help worse-off, not better. The reasons for the unintended consequences include information problems and the failure to recognize that people tend to respond to the incentive structures they face.
A second response is that self-interest does not imply selfishness. As we have argued elsewhere, Christians likely see their self-interest in terms of trying to live a Christ-like life rather than in terms of materialistic values.66 While many people may use the price system to enhance their acquisitions and wealth, others can use it to obtain an income that is then used to support mission activities or to provide resources to the poor. A market system permits much greater diversity of interests and activities than other types of economic systems allow.67
The impersonal nature of modern life is not due to the market system but to growing population, greater specialization of labor afforded by larger markets, and increasing complexity of modern societies. Engel’s argument, that we cannot rely upon morality that is appropriate for an individual in personal relationships to direct us in the impersonal relations of modern economic life, is reasonable. The particular morality that Engel is discussing is promoting the welfare of others. In personal situations one can know the needs of another and behave accordingly. In impersonal situations, that information generally is not available. Furthermore, a society that presumes that government has the information needed to extract moral outcomes from countless impersonal interactions often finds itself with reduced welfare and less freedom.
In this article, we have argued that Christian teaching about God’s providence should be expanded to embrace spontaneous social orders, as well as the physical laws of the universe. Specifically, we have emphasized that market systems have the capacity to elicit, coordinate, and reward millions of free economic acts. Together, these acts create rising material abundance that meets needs and wants, both near and far away.
We show that great economists, such as Smith and Hayek, have pointed to the market system as worthy of comparison with Christian notions of God’s providence, by which, God is said to bless humankind. Just as God-given productivity of the soil, combined with human labor and ingenuity, blesses societies with abundant crops, so also does the productivity of gifted human beings bless all humanity through markets. The somewhat mysterious way in which markets accomplish this without any, one person directing it, suggests to us the providential hand of God at work.
As God hovered over the waters at the time of Creation, perhaps God’s spirit also hovers over markets and their participants. His spirit provokes, inspires, and channels millions of free human acts of creation and self-giving, for our good and his glory. Such is the nature of spontaneous orders, like markets, that thrive under the care and preservation of God’s providence. If so, Christian participants in market orders can discover deep meaning in what they do, and reason for unending praise, while trusting God with humanly unknowable, remote repercussions of their choices.
1. Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982).
2. G. L. Prestige, God in Patristic Thought (London: S.P.C.K, 1959).
3. The translation of the term in a recent translation of Xenophon’s Oeconomicus is “estate management.”
4. Prestige, 58.
5. Ibid., 59.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid., 63.
8. Ibid.
9. Benjamin Wirt Farley, The Providence of God (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1988), 16. In his commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, Zacharias Ursinus defined providence as, “… the eternal, most free, immutable, wise, just and good counsel of God, according to which he effects all good things in his creatures, permits also evil things to be done, and directs all, both good and evil, to his glory and the salvation of his people.” Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, 2d ed., trans. G. E. Williard (Columbus: Scott & Bascom, 1852), 151.
10. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of Creation, IIl.3, trans. G. W. Bromily and R. J. Ehrlich (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark, 1960).
11. Ibid., 3.
12. Ibid., 34.
13. Farley, 32.
14. Ibid., 34.
15. “God is a God of order, not of disorder, even if order is not the supreme principle of the divine reality. Order is always neutral, not personal. Order is therefore the principle of the divine presence in the sphere of nature.…” Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, trans. Olive Wyon (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1952), 161.
16. Farley, 35.
17. Donald G. Bloesch, God the Almighty: Power, Wisdom, Holiness, Love (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 114.
18. Ibid., 212.
19. See also Wolfhart Pannenberg, Basic Questions in Theology (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983), 2:165.
20. John Polkinghorne, Science and Providence: God’s Interaction with the World (Boston: New Science Library, 1989).
21. Ibid., 2.
22. Ibid., 37.
23. Jacob Viner, The Role of Providence in the Social Order: An Essay in Intellectual History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972).
24. Quoted in Viner, 28. The book was an outgrowth of lectures that Viner gave at Princeton in 1966, and it was published after Viner’s death in 1970.
25. Catechism of the Catholic Church (Internet: kerygma/, par. 307, 321.
26. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica: A Concise Translation, ed. Timothy McDermott (Westminster, Md.: Christian Classics, 1989), I.2.22.4. Calvin concurs, writing in the Institutes, 4.3.1, that God delegates work to human beings. Althusius cites Calvin, saying “For this reason God willed to train and teach men not by angels but by men,” Politica, 23.
27. Friedrich A. Hayek, Law, Legislation, and Liberty, vol. 2, The Mirage of Social Justice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976).
28. The Greek word, katallattein, means “not only ‘to exchange’ but also ‘to admit into the community’ and ‘to change from enemy into friend,’” Hayek, 108.
29. The word game is used by Austrian philosophers, like Wittgenstein, to mean “ordered interaction of individuals, such as in the ‘language game.’”
30. Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1976), 203-7.
31. Ibid., 422.
32. In Mere Christianity (New York: Scribner, 1997), C. S. Lewis made a similar case but did so as part of his apologetic for the Christian faith, which was not on Smith’s more limited, deist agenda.
33. Smith, 275.
34. Ibid., 378.
35. Ibid., 479f.
36. Ibid., 482f.
37. Ibid., 479.
38. Paul Samuelson, Economics from the Heart: A Samuelson Sampler (New York: Thomas Horton and Daughters, 1983), 10.
39. John Schneider, The Good of Affluence: Seeking God in a Culture of Wealth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002).
40. Adam Smith, 279f.
41. Friedrich Hayek, The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 139.
42. Ibid., 39f.
43. Ibid., 140. It is interesting to note that Hayek severely criticized amoral luminaries, like Keynes, who trashed any common moral notion that, they thought, lacked complete rational justification. Instead, Hayek followed Wittgenstein’s example, by pointing out the presumptuousness of intellectuals who frequently overlook the partially hidden social dynamics of rule-making, by which certain actions come to be understood as right or wrong.
44. Nothing in Smith or Hayek can be construed as support for rampant individualism. As we noted earlier, they both affirm the useful teaching role of religion. They also approve of the many other ways that individuals yoke themselves together in pursuit of shared goals, such as improving the environment, providing better schools, enhancing access to the arts, et cetera. What they oppose is any attempt by such groups to capture the power of government in order to impose their goals on the whole society.
45. Cited in Benjamin Wirt Farley, The Providence of God, 31.
46. See A. M. C. Waterman, “‘Mind Your Own Business’: Unintended Consequences in the Body of Christ,” Faith and Economics 35 (Spring 2000): 5. Waterman makes a strong assertion that, “The Holy Spirit presides over the unintended consequences of our self-regarding acts to create all that is good in the ‘spontaneous order’ of human society.” He believes that Christians should save themselves from an impossible moral burden, namely, to make economic and other choices that will assuredly bring in the kingdom of God. Instead, individuals should look to those matters they each know best—himself or herself and those in moral proximity—to inform their choices. The most relevant commandment, he says, is still Christ’s call to “love your neighbor.”
47. Economists do not claim that markets by themselves always adequately protect natural resources. However, the nature of prices is that they rise with the increased scarcity of any resource, thereby encouraging some combination of more efficient use, increased exploration, and the development of substitutes. Thus, as use of coal and oil has increased, the known reserves have actually kept expanding. In the case of coal, despite a thirty-one-percent increase in world consumption of coal from 1975 to 1999, coal resources are estimated to be sufficient “well beyond the next fifteen hundred years.”

Precisely because of such economic forces, there has been no long-term increase in the price of oil since 1871. See Bjorn Lomborg, The Skeptical Econ-omist: Measuring the Real State of the World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 123-27. See also Peter J. Hill, “Environmental Theology: A Judeo-Christian Defense,” Journal of Markets and Morality 3 (Fall 2000): 158-73; and Terry L. Anderson and Donald R. Leal, Free-Market Environmentalism (San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1991).
48. An interesting comparison of Aristotle’s economics and that of the Jewish Mishnah can be found in Jacob Neusner, The Economics of the Mishnah (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990).
49. Until the last couple of centuries, almost everyone’s economic dealings involved people they knew. Most people worked in agriculture and lived in relatively small villages. See Peter Laslett, The World We Have Lost: England Before the Industrial Age, 2d ed. (New York: Charles Scribner’s & Sons, 1973), 55ff, where he discusses life in villages of three hundred to five hundred people. “Through most of human history, most human beings have lived in small social settings marked by a plentitude of ongoing face-to-face contacts and by intense solidarity and moral consensus,” writes Peter L. Berger, Facing Up to Modernity: Excursus on Society, Politics and Religion (New York: Basic Books, 1977), 60.
50. Günther Engel, “Wirtschaftsethik als ökonomische Theorie de Moral,” Unpublished manuscript (University of Göttingen, 2002), argues that it is inappropriate to transfer a system of morality founded on small-scale societies and transform them straightforwardly to large, impersonal societies and systems.
51. Ronald Hamowy, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Theory of Spontaneous Order (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987).
52. Ibid., 3.
53. Xenophon, Oeconomicus: A Social and Historical Commentary, trans. Sarah B. Pomeroy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994).
54. Certainly there have always been people who did not see order but saw chaos in modern market economies.
55. Harold Demsetz, Economic, Legal, and Political Dimensions of Competition (Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company, 1982).
56. The theme is developed further, especially in relation to the modern view of the firm that stems from Coase’s Market for Goods; in Harold Demsetz, “The Theory of the Firm Revisited,” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 4 (Spring 1988): 141-61; and in Demsetz, The Economics of the Business Firm: Seven Critical Commentaries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).
57. George J. Stigler, “Perfect Competition, Historically Contemplated,” Journal of Political Economy 65 (February 1957): 1-17.
58. Demsetz, Economic, Legal, 5.
59. Ibid., 4.
60. Ibid., 8.
61. Ibid.
62. Ibid., 10.
63. Thomas Sowell, Knowledge and Decisions (New York: Basic Books, 1980), further develops the theme of economizing on information.
64. See, for example, Emil Brunner, The Divine Imperative, trans. Olive Wyon (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1937), 421ff. Paul Tillich supported socialism and criticized capitalism. See Paul Tillich, The Socialist Decision, trans. Franklin Sherman (New York: Harper and Row, 1977). Also see Betsy Jane Clary, “Paul Tillich on the Institutions of Capitalism,” Review of Social Economy 52 (Fall 1994): 361-76.
65. As quoted in J. Philip Wogaman, The Great Economic Debate: An Ethical Analysis (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1977), 133.
66. See John Lunn and Robin Klay, “The Neoclassical Model in a Postmodern World,” Christian Scholar’s Review 24 (December 1994): 143-63.
67. See Aaron Director, “The Parity of the Economic Marketplace,” Journal of Law and Economics 7 (October 1964): 1-10; and R. H. Coase, “The Market for Goods and the Market for Ideas,” American Economic Review 64 (May 1974): 384-91.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Faith-Based Politics

If this Washington Post Opinion article is correct, it is apparent the MSM television media missed it. Christian faith should be re-incorporated in the government of the United States of America. No religion should receive state support or be established as the state religion. Yet the Founding Fathers intended Christianity as the moral base of law and culture in this nation.

By Jim Hoagland
Thursday, November 24, 2005; A35

President Bush made a quick transition from completing a revealing trip across Asia to welcoming the holiday season to the White House this week. Both actions help illuminate the enhanced role that religion plays in the nation's politics and policy under Bush.
The much-dismissed trip said little about Asia but everything about Bush. Religion and democracy were at the top of his agenda there. It was the highlight of what has become a relentless attempt to reverse the recent secularization of U.S. foreign policy as well as other aspects of national life.

The annual Thanksgiving Day proclamation Bush issued also captured the paradoxical American commitments to observing religious freedom for all while surviving as one nation under God. In his version of the ritual document originated by the Founding Fathers, Bush asked God "to watch over America."

He seems more comfortable than most of his predecessors in stressing and reconciling in public his own commitments to religion and democracy, the two grand themes -- and moving forces -- of his presidency. They are the irreducible elements of governance for Bush at home and abroad. American secularists, and others, may see danger in this juxtaposition, but Bush sees it as the solution.

The president did not build his unorthodox visit to China around economic cooperation with the world's fastest-rising manufacturing power. Nor did he seek to advance a strategic dialogue.

Instead, Bush's centerpiece was religious and political freedom. China's communist leaders did not like that approach -- they rounded up dissidents in retaliation -- but they had to welcome Bush politely in front of their people even as they fumed over his worshipping so publicly with Chinese Christians.

For Bush the whole trip, dismissed by policy realists as counterproductive, was probably worth those moments and the photographs of him among the Chinese faithful in a land that persecuted and expelled its once-powerful Catholic community after the 1949 revolution.

Beijing also had to swallow Bush's meeting with the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, on the eve of the president's Asian journey, and Bush's endorsement of Taiwan's vibrant democracy, delivered from the democratic stronghold of Japan.
The persecution of Catholics in China and Eastern Europe made support for Christianity an openly avowed weapon in Western strategy at the outset of the Cold War. John F. Kennedy's interest in South Vietnam was stirred in part by the flight of Catholics from the north and the needs of a besieged government headed by Catholics in the south.
The role of religion in U.S. and European foreign policy faded away with the end of the godless Soviet empire and the Cold War -- even as religion was rapidly becoming the engine of backlash against modernization in the Muslim world and elsewhere.

Bush's priorities are also reflected in his encouragement of and development funding for faith-based organizations working in poor countries. This sparks growing concern among American nongovernmental development organizations and European governments, which are working more closely together as a result.

Usually overlooked in analysis of the relative harmony and effectiveness that Condoleezza Rice's first 10 months as secretary of state have brought to U.S. foreign policymaking is the fact that she and the president share a deep evangelical religious bond. She reflects not only his politics but also his innermost beliefs. This may give her a major advantage over other Bush aides in carrying out policies based on faith.

Let me rephrase that: In contrast to its foreign policy, the Bush agenda at home is a collection of smoldering ruins. The administration has illogically dismissed deficits and balanced budgets as decisive economic factors, alienated Congress on every conceivable issue, left its tax cuts vulnerable to reversal, and enveloped Social Security reform in a poisonous political atmosphere.

Bush's most durable support comes from a coalition of social conservatives who usually define their politics in religious terms -- whom Bush has pleased or placated by nominating John Roberts and Sam Alito to the Supreme Court -- and the pro-democracy activists of the right who agree with him on pushing democracy in Iraq, Ukraine, China and elsewhere.

Bush's Asia trip suggests that the president's heart and mind remain with that core coalition. Republicans who are urging him to pivot to a broader constituency and agenda to rescue a failing presidency are swimming against the tide.

China deserved the frank admonitions about religious freedoms that Bush delivered in his well-conceived celebration of democracy's reach in Asia. Here at home, he needs to establish that he can make religion a force for change without making it a tool of governance, or vice versa.
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