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Posts Tagged ‘Dinesh D’Souza’

The Roots of Obama's Rage

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I must say I was skeptical of this book before reading it since I am biased against the author. My reading of Dinesh D’Souza in the past has been rather disappointing. But this is probably his better work and he did a good job enough that I’m thinking about reading his follow up work on Obama. D’Souza is a better author on politics than he is on Christianity (the subject of the first two books I read by him). Here in this book D’Souza presents the biography of president Obama and argues that Obama’s public policy is best understood in light of the narrative of Obama’s upbringing. D’Souza argues that it’s not so much the narrative of Obama as the African American that is the predominate theme explaining Obama’s presidency but Obama the child who grew up in the third world and lived in the imagination of his father’s home country of Kenya. Typically I’m cautious with psycho-assertions of why people do what they do but I think this book does make the case powerfully that Obama’s radical upbringing by his mom to be like his dad and his experiences in Indonesia living with his mom that shaped him to become the man who’s ideology is to bring equality between the US and other third world nations. The strength of D’Souza’s argument to me is his analysis of Obama’s book on his father written before he publicly campaigned for president. It’s amazing to think of how Obama barely knew his father growing up but sees him almost as a god. It was quite sad reading this book to imagine the young Obama who looks up and idealized the father he never really knew. It’s no secret to those who follow Obama today that Obama’s father was far from a saint, a radical ideologue who was a dead beat husband, a drunkard who fathered many children with multiple women through affairs. Obama’s infatuation of seeking his father’s approval at times from Obama’s own word seems almost religious, with even the motif of crisis of faith and renewal. D’Souza book is captivating and made me want to learn more about Obama—not just policy but who this man who keeps much to himself is and his worldview.

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what's so great about christianity

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The author of “What’s so Great About America” has written a book on the subject of Christianity. The book is largely a response to the “Brights,” or the New Atheists, such as Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris. In terms of a work coming from a broadly Classical school of apologetics, I would say this work fits the bill in terms of what you expect from this particular approach. My favorite chapter has to be the one on Galileo, in which D’Souza gives the historical account of what historically happened in order to paint the picture that the narrative of science versus faith is way too simplistic. While acknowledging that what has happened to Galileo was rather unfortunate, the author did refute the common myth today that Galileo was tried as a heretic. Instead the trial was for lying to keep a promise to the Catholic Church (not that I endorse this). D’Souza correctly note that this controversy was not over the Bible teaching the Earth is the middle of the solar system as it was a Greek philosophy that thought that the Earth was the center of the universe. I did enjoy D’Souza’s trace of where the various Galileo myths came from going back to certain works in the nineteenth century. In other areas, the book also made a good point about how some have tried so hard to avoid the premise that that there is a beginning for the universe and therefore avoiding the conclusion of a creator. This they do by positing multi-verses (as opposed to a singular universe) that we can’t confirm in our own universe. The author argues that such advocates might as well believe in the existence of heaven and hell as another universe instead. The irony! With that said, I do have some concern with this book. I don’t know if there can really be a strong distinction between Darwinism and Evolution as stated in chapter 13 though I understand that by Darwinists he means ideological evolutionists. One might say a Dawinists is a consistent evolutionists then. I also think D’Souza had a poor argument that evolution must be true because every scientist believes it. I have reservation of D’Souza’s attempt at a solution of making faith and reason compatible. First is his definition of faith and knowledge as related to the believer’s faith. He stated on page 195 that agnostics and Christians have something in common: “The religious believer also does not know,” and then quotes Hebrews 11:1 before saying “If the believer knew, there would be no question of faith.” However, Hebrews 11:1 states that faith “is the [a]assurance of things [b]hoped for, the [c]conviction of things not seen.” Certainly D’Souza is not extrapolating Hebrews 11:1 properly here to make his point: Something not “seen” is not the same thing as not “knowing,” unless D’Souza was an empiricist in his epistemology which obviously he is not given his stance against it throughout the book. Readers must also note that Hebrews 11:1 uses terminology that imply “knowledge” such as “assurance” and “conviction.” Outside of Hebrews 11:1, other passage in the Bible such as 1 John 5:13 talks about the believer’s knowledge as it pertains to his or her Christian faith. D’Souza’s definition of faith is not only unbiblical it seems to be also self-defeating for his apologetics project. This however is not the only thing problematic with his solution at reconciling faith and reason. Secondly, D’Souza defense of faith and reason makes an appeal to Kant’s phenomena and noumena. While rightly noting atheist Daniel Dennett’s response to the author’s use of Kant’s paradigm is less than adequate since Dennett just said it has been refuted without refuting Kant nor shoring up references to scholarly refutation which Dennett asserts exists, it is unfortunate that D’Souza charge against Dennett’s lack of familiarity with the scholarly sources can also be applied to him. D’Souza’s discussion of Kant’s noumena world (which aim is to give room for faith) shows no awareness of concerns that Christian apologist Cornelius Van Til and philosopher Gordon Clark has for Kant’s philosophical paradigm. The concern could be boiled down to a sentence: Kant, in saving “religion” by moving it into the Noumena world has also moved it to realm of the nonrational and makes it inaccessible for reasoning creatures such as man. Perhaps this reveals my bias for Presuppositional apologetics, but there were times reading the book I thought D’Souza’s apologetics could have been stronger if he realized that the goal is to demonstrate Christianity is the solution to our problems more consistently. D’Souza raised a question on page 258 that touches on how one knows the right and wrong standard of morality within themselves in light of our imperfection: “What principle do you have that distinguishes the good inner self from the bad inner self?” D’Souza’s answer: “The Christian solution to this problem is oddly enough not a religious one. It is not to embrace Christ and become a born again believer. Rather, it is to follow the examine path of the impartial spectator which is to take conscience as your guide” (258-59). While conscience is important I would say conscience of sinners can be seared according to 1 Timothy 4:2, and the most important principle for morality is God’s objective Word as revealed in the Bible. Again this is not to downplay inner conscience and our conscience needs to be made to follow God’s standard. Here is where the actual solution contradicts D’Souza’s “solution” since embracing Christ and being Born again lays the foundation for a believer’s renewal of the mind according to Romans 12:2. Otherwise, a unbeliever’s conscience will not be a reliable guide in of itself until that individual has been regenerated. There are little that’s new that I did learned from the book concerning answers to atheist—but I would say for the believer conscious of Reformed Theology and apologetics methodology must read this work as an exercise in discernment as well.

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I know it’s election season but on October 17th, 2012 I was going to write an article here on Veritas Domain addressing popular political conservative and Christian apologist Dinesh D’Souza’s views and argument against the Biblical doctrine of election (not the political one, but the doctrine concerning man’s salvation).  I decided to google the author’s name to see if there’s anything new in the news about him and found that through God’s providence, Fox News posted D’Souza’s response to a World Magazine article that brought up the fact that he was having an affair and engaged to a woman that’s 29 year old while he was still legally married.  His response can be accessed by clicking here.  While not agreeing with his theology, I was nevertheless very sad especially when it comes to seeing another Evangelical leader (these days the term is becoming too broad) having their moral failure exposed.  It reminds me  the importance of sanctification and holiness in the life of the apologist.  It is also a lesson of how sanctification and apologetics are inseparable–with sin even making the brightest apologists irrational when they are not right with Him.

For the rest of this post I will interact only with D’Souza’s own response, from his own words.  I think it’s more sad to read what he has to say more than what others say.  I think it reveals some concern I have of his spiritual and moral life.

In the first sentence he writes,

A recent article in World magazine gives the false impression that I, a married man, had an affair with a woman Denise Joseph at a Christian conference in Spartanburg, S.C.

And a little further later,

I met Denise three months ago.  We are not and have not been having an affair.

Its strange that D’Souza would state that World Magazine gave “the false impression” that he was having “an affair with a woman Denise Joseph,” and even goes on to deny that he was having an affair when he also admitted the following:

I sought out advice about whether it is legal to be engaged prior to being divorced and I was informed that it is. Denise and I were trying to do the right thing. I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings.  Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancé at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong. But as a result of all this, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, Denise and I have decided to suspend our engagement.

How can one be still be married to another woman the whole time while some time during this period D’Souza was in a relationship with another woman even to the point of being “engaged” and publicly calling her a fiance and D’Souza could still say he was not having an affair?  Though he might have been separated from his estranged wife for two years, he is still married in the sight of God and the state, and to pursue another woman while being married is an affair.

I don’t know how a public spokesman for Christianity would be able to say something like, “I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings.”  How he does not know when he has been an advocate for traditional marriage is beyond my comprehension.

All that has been said here is enough to show my concern for why Christians must be careful in setting up those who might be into apologetics as public spokesman and leaders of the Christian faith if it turns out that they are not one who is an Elder material (see 1 Timothy 3).  It is important for those engaging in the public defense of the faith to be called to a holy life; how real would it be to the world if someone representing the Christian faith was a hypocrite?  Or didn’t know what to believe and live Biblically?

The fact that he has been appointed the president of the Kings College (which I have made monetary contribution in the past years ago through Campus Crusade) and speaking at Christian apologetics conference shows even more problem not with D’Souza but Evangelical Christian circles today despite the man being separated from his wife the last two years!  What is the state and standards of Evangelical American landscape today?

His response took the saddest turn owhen he went after the messenger that exposed him: he accused both the writer and the editor of World of acting out a vendetta against him.  I won’t be disputing this (since I would not know their hearts), but even if it was true their intent, there is still the serious problem D’Souza has to come to terms with: his affair.  To suddenly point out the possible sinful motive of the editor and the writer seems to me to be like pointing out that someone has pink eye while one has the more serious problem of nearly being blind: That is, one has a more serious problem to deal with than the one pointing it out, even if their motive was paved with bad intentions.

His last paragraph continued with his focus on the writer and editor of World, raising the issue of how Christians are supposed to behave towards one another while the secular world is watching.  Ironically I thought the first half of the last paragraph could have been easily turned on him concerning his affair and his behavior towards his wife:

Ultimately this is not just about Olasky or even World magazine.  It is also about how we Christians are supposed to behave with one another. And the secular world is watching. Is this how we love and treat fellow believers? If my conduct was improper, wouldn’t it be the decent and charitable thing to approach me about it?  Instead, here is a clear attempt to destroy my career and my ministry.  This is viciousness masquerading as righteousness.  And this is the behavior that is truly worthy of Christian condemnation.

D’Souza asked, “If my conduct was improper, wouldn’t it be the decent and charitable thing to approach me about it?” and yet earlier he also acknowledge that he was approached by the news reporter, as this statement presupposes:

While World notes that my divorce filing was registered with the court on October 4—giving the impression that I moved quickly on the day their reporter spoke to me—in reality I had been working with a San Diego law firm on this for the previous two weeks.

Now I anticipate that some people who found this article will no doubt at this point think that I am unloving in pointing out all these problems with D’Souza’s response.  I don’t want this to just be a personal hit piece.  As I said before, I originally had no intention of writing this–but felt I must after noting the problems I raised above from his own writing.

So I’m praying for him, not because it’s a presidential election year but because I’m worry about his spiritual life and that God will orchestrate all things to move D’Souza to make his election and calling sure in his life (2 Peter 2:10).  Lord God, be merciful to us all, and sanctify us!

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