The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

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A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.

And he said to the vinedresser, “Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?”

And he answered him, “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” (ESV)

Posted in Luke, Parables, Trees | Leave a comment

The Parable of the Giving Tree

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Once there was a tree … and she loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples.
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree … very much.
And the tree was happy.

But time went by.
And the boy grew older.
And the tree was often alone.
Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said, “Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy.”
“I am too big to climb and play” said the boy. “I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money.”
“I’m sorry,” said the tree, “but I have no money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy.”
And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away.
And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time … and the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy and she said, “Come, Boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy.”
“I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy. “I want a house to keep me warm,” he said. “I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?”
“I have no house,” said the tree. “The forest is my house, but you may cut off my branches and build a house. Then you will be happy.”
And so the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house.
And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time.
And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak.
“Come, Boy,” she whispered, “come and play.”
“I am too old and sad to play,” said the boy.
“I want a boat that will take me far away from here. Can you give me a boat?”
“Cut down my trunk and make a boat,” said the tree. “Then you can sail away … and be happy.”
And so the boy cut down her trunk and made a boat and sailed away.
And the tree was happy … but not really.

And after a long time the boy came back again.
“I am sorry, Boy,” said the tree,” but I have nothing left to give you – My apples are gone.”
“My teeth are too weak for apples,” said the boy.
“My branches are gone,” said the tree. ” You cannot swing on them – ”
“I am too old to swing on branches,” said the boy.
“My trunk is gone, ” said the tree. “You cannot climb – ”
“I am too tired to climb” said the boy.
“I am sorry,” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something … but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry …”
“I don’t need very much now,” said the boy, “just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.”
“Well,” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.”
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy.

stumped

by Shel Silverstein

Posted in Parables, Trees | Leave a comment

The Parable of the Diseased Tree

Latticed_Oak_Roots_-_geograph.org.uk_-_395650

A man lived in the Great Plains, many years ago. He had only one source of wood for all his needs: a beautiful large oak tree growing behind his cottage. Anyone passing by could see that this was truly a beautiful tree, and of course it was an oak tree so it must be strong. It would protect him from the prairie’s storms and provide shade from the sun.

This man was very happy about his tree. It was really all he had ever wanted to meet his many needs. It was large enough to provide firewood from its fallen branches, its many limbs could be cut as he needed them for building furniture. The man was very happy.

One day the man decided to make a chair, so he took his saw and went out to his tree. He climbed onto one of the lower limbs and began to saw it off. As his saw bit into the wood, the man got a funny feeling. Something just didn’t seem right. As he finished sawing the limb suddenly snapped as if it were brittle, shooting splinters into the man’s eyes. He was surprised and hurt, but he managed to clear his eyes and slid down to where the limb had dropped to the ground.

He looked at the end where he had made his cut and to his amazement he saw not the solid, gleaming bands of a healthy oak, but a pithy, brittle mass riddled with holes. The limb would not serve for furniture – no way. And the man realised that something was amiss. He began having suspicions about his beautiful tree.

The next day the man tried again, for life presses on, and he really needed a chair. So he climbed again to another limb, and began cutting. And again, just as he was about to complete his task, the limb shattered and sprayed him with sharp splinters. This time he was prepared, and managed to turn his head, but the splinters were sharp and they hurt him nonetheless. Again he climbed down, and discovered the same pithy, brittle mass.

With this the man realised that his precious tree was not well. It was diseased. It was infested with an insect, the prairie oak flea, which was known to cripple trees, but not to kill them.

As the disease progressed, the man realised that he was not getting from his tree the things he counted on for his safety and comfort. The leaves became thin and scattered, and the tree could not provide the shade that he needed from the hot sun. When storms came, instead of the sheltering buffer he had hoped for, the tree would yield its weakened limbs to the winds and they crashed down on his cottage roof. Once a limb broke right through in the midst of a storm and the man spent a cold wet night waiting for daylight so he could close the hole.

But still, the man loved his tree. It was a beautiful tree. And it was an oak. It was HIS oak. “I love my tree,” said the man. “I know it has a disease, but I love the tree nonetheless. I chose to build my home in its shelter and I am committed to staying with it.”

One day a passing wagon stopped, and the man in the wagon asked, “Why do you stay under this sick tree? It’s causing you so much pain, and there are things you need that it doesn’t give you?”

“Oh, no,” said the man. “ I love my tree. It’s the disease that I hate. The tree is still a beautiful tree, and it is my life.”

“But look,” said the man in the wagon. “Its wood is rotten. Its shade is useless. It harms you in storms when it should shelter you. And you have no furniture because its wood is brittle and pithy.”

“Oh, no,” said the man. “You must learn to separate the disease from the tree. Otherwise you’ll become embittered.”

“Well,” said the man in the wagon, “if the disease is separate, then where is the tree without the disease? I don’t see a healthy tree standing next to a disease. All I see is a pithy, bug-eaten tree that can barely stand on its own. If your tree is such a good provider, why is that you have so little, and what you have is patched and leaking?”

The man thought for a while, and then said, “You know, maybe you are right. No matter how much I say I love that tree, it will never give me the things I need from it. I guess you’re right. The TREE and the DISEASE are all the same thing. I don’t have a tree and a disease. I have a DISEASED TREE. And the longer I hang out under this tree, the longer I’m going to live without the shade and the wind shelter and the furniture that I need, and the more likely I’m going to be conked on the head by a falling limb. Maybe I need to start looking for another tree that can give me what I need…”

The man thought about it, and a little later he decided to look around for another place to have his home. And the man found a spot, even better than the one he had been living in, with a healthy maple growing nearby.

He hated to think of building his home all over again, but he was, at heart, a courageous man, and he decided to try. In a few months he had a new home, shaded in the summer, shielded from the wind, safe during storms, and he was able to build beautiful furniture for his study. He lived there, mostly happily, writing to his many friends who also had problem trees.

His old tree continued to grow in its same spot, and continued dropping limbs during every storm, just as before.

by Richard Skerritt

Posted in Parables, Sepultura, Trees | Leave a comment

The ALCP’s on television

^ 1 minute Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party opening address for TVNZ

^ 15 second Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party election advertisement for TV3

^ 15 second Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party election advertisement for Prime TV

ALCP_logo_600

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The Internet Party’s on a roll

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Posted in Kim Dotcom, Vote 2014 | Leave a comment

Hikois from hell

Hikoi-foreshore

It’s National Party policy to abolish the Maori seats but John Key says not on his watch.

Dropping Maori seats would mean ‘hikois from hell’

Abolishing the Maori seats would rip the country apart and attract “hikois from hell”, John Key said.

Speaking to the Herald last week before the release of Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics, the Prime Minister said that while it remained National Party policy to abolish the seats, even if he had enough numbers to do so, he would abolish them only with the agreement of Maori.

“It would divide the nation,” he told the Herald’s Hot Seat series . “Despite the fact that a lot of people say they don’t like it and they were there for a particular reason, actually it would be an incredibly divisive thing to do to New Zealand and New Zealanders.”

“Do you really want to rip a country apart? I’ll tell you what would happen – hikois from hell.”

Whether you were on the Maori roll or the general roll everyone got two votes.

While abolishing the seats has been long-standing policy for National, Act and United Future policy, the Maori Party’s confidence and supply agreement with National saw it parked as an active issue. But even if the Maori Party were not in the next Parliament, Mr Key has in effect protected them.

Political party 1law4all isn’t happy. On Facebook they posted

 
But I agree with John Key.

Having a Maori electoral roll as well as a general electoral roll is not, in itself, racist. It is merely arbitrary. Everyone gets two votes, regardless of which roll they’re on.

What’s racist about the Maori roll is that only Maori get to choose whether to be on it or to be on the general roll. If we opened up the Maori roll to non-Maori, there’d be no racism.

And no problem. Because we have to divide the country up into electorates somehow. (Or do we?!) Dividing the country up geographically is arbitrary. We might just as well divide the country up according to the age of the voters. It would be instructive to do so. Who would win the 20-year-old’s seat? Who would win the 60-year-old’s seat? Now we’re talking ageism, instead of racism!

But isn’t our current system geographicalist? I’d love to be enrolled in the Ohariu electorate so that I could vote for someone other than Peter Dunne. But I can’t. I’m stuck with Mana. (It’s like school zoning, I’m against it.)

Key’s more important point is that abolishing the Maori seats today would lead to “hikois from hell”. That’s a euphemism for blood on the streets. Do we really want to trade a harmless anachronism for violent civil unrest?

Retaining the Maori seats is the small price we pay for keeping a lid on the simmering resentment of some Maori towards the descendants of the colonials whom they believe inflicted a holocaust on their ancestors leaving them disadvantaged to this day.

Retaining the Maori seats is a good social insurance policy. Much like retaining the dole. The dole costs [from memory, I might come back and edit this figure] $18,000 per year per beneficiary. Incarceration costs [again, this figure is from memory] $90,000 per year per inmate. If we abolished the dole, there’d be a crime wave tsunami as an army of unemployed, suddenly bereft of income, found thieving (and worse) ways to make ends meet. Kiwis, beneficiary and non-beneficiary alike, would suffer. So let’s not abolish the dole, mmmkay?

Let’s be clear. The productive and colour blind are being held to ransom. In paying the dole and retaining the Maori seats, we are complicit in perpetuating unjust systems of social welfare and racist democracy. But what choices do we have?

Remember, too, that people’s welfare is a consideration that must temper considerations of justice. Okay, now I look forward to my co-bloggers dumping on me from a great height. See the comments section below.

Posted in Apartheid, Hell, National Party, Peter Dunne, Racism, Unicorns, Vote 2014 | 6 Comments

Elections come and go, yet the urgency for Libertarian reforms remain.

Blast from the past.

my election pamphlet

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my election pamphlet 002

my election pamphlet 003

my election pamphlet 004

my election pamphlet 005

Powderfinger – Sunsets – Music Video from Liquid Animation on Vimeo.

Posted in Bigotry and Hate, Charity, Christian Libertarianism, Compulsion, Freedom, Self defence, Uncategorized, Vote Wikiriwhi! | Leave a comment

Libertarianism’s last bastion against the unrule of the godless

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The terms ‘libertarian’ and ‘libertarianism’ mean different things to different people. In a broad sense, a libertarian is anyone who favours more freedom and less government. In a narrower sense, libertarianism is minarchism.

Minarchism (also known as minimal statism) is a political philosophy. It is variously defined by sources. In the strictest sense, it holds that states ought to exist (as opposed to anarchy), that their only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and that the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts.

The libertarianism on which I cut my teeth is libertarianism in the latter sense. It’s the libertarianism that was espoused by the now deregistered Libertarianz Party and is promoted by Objectivists such as Lindsay Perigo. In what follows, I’ll use the term ‘libertarianism’ in the minarchist sense.

Sadly, in today’s Western world we are very far from a minarchist libertopia. The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. Our government departments ever increase in both size and number. Our surfeit of statism won’t be gone any time soon, let alone gone by lunchtime.

In a libertarian state, all government departments—save for the military, police and courts—would be gone. There would be no public health system. There would be no state welfare. There would be no state schools. Even the roads would be privatised.

But persuading most people—who are thoroughly inculcated in statism by the very state education system that libertarians seek to dismantle—that we should roll back the state is difficult. How can libertarians possibly justify getting rid of government-run hospitals? How can libertarians possibly justify ending state education? And how can we even envisage life without state highways? Muh roads!

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How can we justify paring back the state to the barest minarchist minimum?

Actually, it’s the wrong question. The right question to ask is this. How can we justify even the barest minarchist minimum? How can we justify having any state at all?

There are plenty of problems with libertarianism. Underlying philosophical problems. I called attention to a couple of them here, here and here. And I’m about to present another problem. It’s a compelling argument for anarchism and against minarchism. (I’m not going to go into all the reasons why I think anarchism, rather than minarchism, looks set to win the day. For that, I suggest readers follow the arguments of anarchist thinkers such as Stephan Kinsella. See, e.g., his paper What It Means To Be an Anarcho-Capitalist.)

Here’s the problem. Libertarians think that taxation is theft, and that all giving, including the giving of money to the government, should be voluntary. Libertarians (of the minarchist/Randian variety) think that the (only) legitimate functions of government are providing defence and police forces and a judiciary, and that these functions should be funded voluntarily by the citizenry. But what if the citizenry don’t want to fund a minarchist state voluntarily? What then?

Here’s an excerpt from L.P.D.: Libertarian Police Department to illustrate the problem.

“Now, which one of you punks is going to pay me to investigate this crime?” No one spoke up.

“Come on,” I said. “Don’t you all understand that the protection of private property is the foundation of all personal liberty?”

It didn’t seem like they did.

“Seriously, guys. Without a strong economic motivator, I’m just going to stand here and not solve this case. Cash is fine, but I prefer being paid in gold bullion or autographed Penn Jillette posters.”

Nothing. These people were stonewalling me. It almost seemed like they didn’t care …

Elsewhere I presented the case for compulsory taxation. In the comments section to that post, a battle erupted between Damian Grant, a libertarian in the loose “More Freedom, Less Government” sense, and Mark Hubbard, a devout minarchist. Damian didn’t manage to better my case for compulsory taxation, but Mark didn’t score any points either. The whole thing was left hanging.

When Christian libertarians confront statists, statists just love to throw the Good Book at them! There are two Bible passages commonly mentioned.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been confronted with Jesus’s injunction to render unto Caesar. But this objection is easily demolished. To render is to give back. Jesus tells us to give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give back to God what is God’s. But what do we have that is Caesar’s? What have the Romans ever done for us?

Elsewhere, of course, the Bible tells us that all things belong to God. So the objection is easily dealt with.

Seemingly more difficult to deal with is the second objection, viz., Romans 13.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (NIV)

This objection is taken so seriously by Christian libertarians that the Facebook group of the same name deals with this passage (and only this passage) specifically in its “About” section.

A very common question new members have is, “What do you think about Romans 13?” One member has shared a Facebook doc with links to the various discussions we have had:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/290101931017604/doc/491608790866916/

Here are two additional essays on Romans 13:
http://libertarianchristians.com/2008/11/28/new-testament-theology-2/
http://libertarianchristians.com/2013/04/02/theology-doesnt-begin-and-end-with-romans-13/

But, far from dooming minarchist libertarianism, Romans 13 is its salvation! For, without this crucial passage, there is nothing in the Bible or anywhere else to stop the slide into anarchism.

I’ve been looking for a Biblical justification of libertarianism ever since I heard this speech. Now I think I’ve found it. In the last place I ever thought to look.

Romans 13 is libertarianism’s last bastion against the unrule of the godless.

Posted in Christian Libertarianism, Freedom, Libertarianz, Luke, Mark, Matthew, Nile, Romans, Thomas Jefferson | Leave a comment

Prohibition is violence

IMO this is what ALCP should be arguing:

Prohibition is violence
LA beating
Help end the violence
Vote ALCP

Posted in ALCP, Cannabis, Justice | Leave a comment

Eternal Vigilance electorate candidate endorsement #2. Alistair Gregory for Wellington Central.

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Alistair Gregory is a rising star in the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party. He’s our candidate for the high-profile Wellington Central electorate and #4 on the party list. He’s also the ALCP’s Wellington Regional Manager and President of the ALCP’s Wellington branch. (I’m the Vice President. Ali’s the main man!)

Vote Alistair Gregory in Wellington Central

Legalise Cannabis in WELLINGTON CENTRAL!

Hello, I’m Alistair Gregory, your ALCP candidate for the best little capital in the world.

I’m a 23 year old chef, born and bred Wellingtonian, and convinced that we have to stop making criminals of people having a joint.

Using natural cannabis for medical, recreational, industrial and spiritual purposes should be a standard human right.

Cannabis, also named marijuana, has been used for centuries around the world. It is not and never has been a ‘demon weed’.

Jamaica, Holland, Uruguay, Portugal, USA and many other countries are introducing relaxed cannabis controls. New Zealanders are repeatedly calling for the same choice.

Sensible reform is legalisation, with regulated supply and use, for adults. ALCP is the only party that will stop making our people criminals.

Alcohol prohibition was a failure. Cannabis prohibition is a failure.

Enrol to vote. Vote for civil rights. Vote ALCP.

I’ll also mention that Ali is a medicinal user, and a friend. He needs cannabis, I don’t. As a recreational cannabis user, I’m prepared to live like it’s legal and live through the occasional supply drought. But I’m not prepared to do nothing while my friends suffer because the law denies them the best medicine. That’s why I’m out supporting Ali on the campaign trail.

Voters in the Wellington Central electorate, I urge you to give your electorate vote to Alistair Gregory and your party vote to the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party!

Posted in ALCP, Cannabis, Live like it's Legal, Vote 2014 | Leave a comment