November 24, 2008

The Secret History of the Bush-Rove Years, Cont. -- Part 27: How Faith-Based Initiatives Helped Blow Up the Housing Bubble

What just happened?

How did eight years of a supposedly "conservative" Administration get us to this point where the country feels like a tapped out Vegas binge gambler ejected from the plush casino into the harsh mid-morning light without even cabfare in his pocket?

We have a general framework for explaining it: Invade the World / Invite the World / In Hock to the World.

But, with some digging, the small pieces of the puzzle are starting to come into better focus.

For example, remember the big emphasis that Bush and Rove put on "faith-based initiatives" as a pillar of their "compassionate conservatism"? I wrote a few articles about that topic in late 2000, but it was hard to pay attention because it seemed so boring: the ACLU made the expected complaints, you heard the usual responses, yawn ...

What almost nobody noticed was how faith-based initiatives tied into the Bush-Rove jihad against down payments in the service of their goal of boosting minority homeownership by 5.5 million households.

Beowulf comments:

You just reminded me of something a real estate developer told me a couple of years ago... He built subdivisions in an urban (i.e. black) part of town and his marketing campaign involved putting ministers on commission.

They'd stand in the pulpit and declare that buying a home is the first step of fulfilling the American dream and their Christian duty. Every church member who bought a house, the minister got a check.

It was all legal, apparently, if the payments were structured as part of a downpayment assistance program. Legal, that is, until the IRS took the punchbowl away in 2006.

So, one of the things that pricked the Housing Bubble in 2006 was the IRS cracking down on this form of "charity."

Here's a cogent description of the scam from a recent press release by the apartment building lobby. Obviously, the people who rent out apartments are biased, but, at least they didn't plunge the world into economic chaos, so they've got that going for them:

Congress Should Protect Taxpayers and Retain the Ban on 'Charity' Downpayment Schemes

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congress should pause and carefully consider the consequences before it acts to overturn its recent ban of so-called "charity" downpayment assistance schemes, according to the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) and the National Apartment Association (NAA).

Under these programs, a non-profit provides a downpayment to the buyer and is then reimbursed by the seller, often a home builder. In 2006, the IRS stripped several of these non-profits of their tax-exempt status, ruling that the programs benefit sellers more than buyers since sellers often raise their asking price to cover the amount they theoretically "donated."

"These circular funding programs come with good intentions but produce loans that are three times as likely to go into foreclosure and merely perpetuate the tragically failed policy of zero-downpayment lending that helped create the current foreclosure crisis," noted Jim Arbury, Senior Vice President for the NMHC/NAA Joint Legislative Program.

"Congress wisely banned these programs in the Housing Stimulus Bill that it passed in July," said Arbury. "Now it is considering stepping back and once again allowing them. This would be a mistake that would lure more individuals into unsustainable homeownership and put taxpayer dollars at risk."

"These loans skyrocketed from six percent of the Federal Housing Administration's mortgage originations in 2000 to approximately 30 percent as of 2004, and now threaten the financial viability of the FHA," said Arbury. "The FHA says it expects to lose $4.6 billion in 2008, an unanticipated loss it attributes largely to seller-financed downpayment mortgages."

"Today, the House Financial Services Committee will consider a bill (H.R. 6694) that would overturn the ban and purportedly protect the FHA by limiting the use of seller-financed downpayment assistance to households with credit scores above 620," explained Arbury. "Unfortunately, the wishful thinking that higher credit scores translate into lower default rates is not borne out by the facts. According to HUD data, even households with the highest credit scores required by the bill are twice as likely to default if they use downpayment assistance."

"This is why seller-funded downpayment assistance programs have come under fire from the IRS, the Government Accountability Office and HUD's Inspector General's Office," Arbury concluded. "For its own financial health, the FHA should not be forced to return to insuring loans that involve seller-funded downpayments."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

"How did eight years of a supposedly 'conservative' Administration..."

That's where you lost me. Bush was the "compromise" candidate, the "compassionate" (i.e., not) conservative, from the 2000 primaries on up.

testing99 said...

Agreed with anon.

But "invade the world" cost relatively peanuts. Heritage and other sites have a graph of spending. Even with the Wars the military spending is peanuts compared to social spending.

Which always curves upwards unlike military spending which is just above historic, Clinton-level lows.

Sorry to rain on that part of your parade Steve, but the data is the data.

Anyone can check for themselves.

VoodooMan said...

True (fiscal) conservatism is a world away from the "faith-based" slop practiced by Bush and Rove. The Bush-Rove formula is: give the teeming hordes candy and they will all convert to Christianity (or to a "truer" form, such as from Catholicism to Baptism.) Treating houses as million-dollar lollipops makes no fiscal sense at all.

Bush the "conservative" = starting unwinnable foreign wars, making stem-cell research verboten, being a housing-lobby puppet.

Clinton, the "iberal", has been more conservative and fiscally sound!

Anonymous said...

"How did eight years of a supposedly 'conservative' Administration..."

What's left for conservatives to conserve?

kijkfaas mcgee said...

A lot of affirmative action nonsense contributed to the recent mess, but there are a lot of factors here. Minorities are just one of them. SS needs to broaden his approach.

Matt Parrott said...

I remember, during my six month stint as a realtor, helping buyers through the process of setting up these seller-financed deals. One that I remember is "Neighborhood Gold". Naturally, as the Realtor(tm), my duty was to keep sifting through lenders until I got the buyers the loan they needed to close the sale.

I really thought at the time that I was just too dense to get it. It didn't seem to make sense to me. How was that financial voodoo supposed to substitute for the downpayment? It seemed like a subversion of the very purpose of collateral, but the efficient market devil on my shoulder told me that it was the lender walking us through the process, so they must know something that I don't.

They must get something that I don't get.

Yup, they got something that I didn't get...a frickin' bailout.

rightsaidfred said...

>>>>the House Financial Services Committee will consider a bill (H.R. 6694) that would overturn the ban [on seller financed down payments]

Our leaders are unable to learn. They want to smash the spaceship into another asteroid.

Anonymous said...

The faith based stuff was an attempt to pander to the GOP's new base: fundamentalist hicks. If the GOP nominates Palin in 2012, expect it to become a Southern part and stay out of power for a generation.

Remember that most of the people in America today who consider themselves conservatives are fundamentalist types who don't really understand what conservatism is.

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

But "invade the world" cost relatively peanuts. Heritage and other sites have a graph of spending. Even with the Wars the military spending is peanuts compared to social spending.

There was another huge cost other than the dollar amount. The Iraq War consumed every single oxygen molecule in the public debate space. If America hadn't embarked on Bush's Folly there might have been public recognition and debate about the credit bubble. There simply weren't enough hours in the day for Congress and the media to analyse the problem until it was too late.

I am Lugash

VoodooMan said...

Remember that most of the people in America today who consider themselves conservatives are fundamentalist types who don't really understand what conservatism is.

These fundamentalist types have more in common with communists than anyone else!

Conservatism implies a certain amount of restraint on the part of government, and a certain amount of trust of individual paople. Limited government - which means not only limited handouts but also no Saudi-style thugs rounding up and burning Harry Potter books and whatever else is "sinful".

David Davenport said...

Remember that most of the people in America today who consider themselves conservatives are fundamentalist types who don't really understand what conservatism is.

Tell us what conservatism is, then.

Anonymous said...

The great blog Right Wing Trash summarizes that Sopranos episode from 2002 that perfectly foreshadowed the mortgage crisis:
http://rightwingtrash.com/2008/11/24/wisebuys.aspx

miss marple said...

"Remember that most of the people in America today who consider themselves conservatives are fundamentalist types who don't really understand what conservatism is."

You'd best look at the bank accounts of some of these fundies before you sneer at their supposed stupidity. Any idea how much money it takes to build a mega church? Can't raise that much money without wealthy parishoners. I've even had two roommates who had ex-preacher fathers who got wealthy in real estate well before the bubble. There is nothing incompatible with free market economics and most forms of fundamentalist Christianity. In fact, I think you'd find the more mainstream Protestant religions to lean more towards socialism.

BTW, after over 60 years of more or less socialist leadership from US Presidents, who does know what conservatism really is? Take heart, anony-snob, despite their hick ways, many of these fundies are quite intelligent. Isn't Huckabee raking in the dough on Fox now? Pretty eloquent despite his creationist beliefs, isn't he? And it doesn't stop with him. I've known a whole slew of less metaphysical Baptists who've made good livings as lawyers or accountants.

They are ripe for conversion just not by one of Darwin's pot-smoking chihuahuas.

Michael T said...

Testing99, whatever it cost, it's money well and truly down the drain, along with being a monumental non-fainancial disaster. And of course, a trillion here, trillion there, soon adds up. (Not that I'd want to stop anyone defending Israel, though -- I'm sure the IDF would love to take you.)

Anonymous said...

1: Blaming the holy rollers first (LGF style) is kind of unfair, no? The secular part of the conservative movement were front and center in pushing the war.

2: SS focusing on the PC/Multiculti/etc. element of the whole financial disaster might be down to... (drumroll) noone else doing it! No?

VoodooMan said...

Yes, it is helpful if we can all define "conservatism", or at least what it means to us personally.

One definition is "the maintenance of existing institutions". Here in the West, these institutions would be Western civilization as defined by our Greek and Roman ancestors, and maintained through the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

Democracy, republicanism, limited government, fiscal restraint, epicureanism, enlightened self-interest, freedom combined with responsibility, meritocracy, intelligence (and respect for it).

At present, the political groups best fitting the "conservative" description are: libertarians and secular republicans.

Christianity, sad to say, is an alien Middle Eastern contamination (much like Islam) of Western values. It is not an improvement on traditional - pagan - Western morality, and has nothing to offer but hypocrisy and (often repressed) sado-masochism.

Fascism and communism are not conservative. So why is Christianity, especially in its more fundamentalist forms? Remember, fundamentalism is a modern invention, a hesperophobic reaction.

VoodooMan said...

miss marple said...

You'd best look at the bank accounts of some of these fundies before you sneer at their supposed stupidity.

Oh, they are smart, in the same way that Sun Myung Moon and the late unlamented L. Ron Hubbard are smart. That doesn't mean that they respect intelligence in others (especially young people), or are in any way morally superior.

The fundamentalist "stupidity" refers not to their personal talents for accumulating money and power, but to their anti-intellectualism. It is possible for someone to be intelligent yet hateful of other intelligent people, and to demand everyone to mentally toe a Stalinesque party line.

That is why all demagogues and cult leaders love dumb people so much. Dummies are more numerous, and easier to control, than smarties. Smarties have valuable organizational skills, but are tolerated only for personal and ideological loyalty. otherwise they are rivals to the Great Leader himself.

There is nothing incompatible with free market economics and most forms of fundamentalist Christianity.

Technically not, but free markets work best with free minds. Iran under Rafsanjani moved to the former but not the latter.

In fact, I think you'd find the more mainstream Protestant religions to lean more towards socialism.

The liberal denominations, yes.

And it doesn't stop with him. I've known a whole slew of less metaphysical Baptists who've made good livings as lawyers or accountants.

And how many Nobel Prize winners?

They are ripe for conversion just not by one of Darwin's pot-smoking chihuahuas.

Like George Washington?

In the words of Ayn Rand:
The conservatives see man as a body freely roaming the earth, building sand piles or factories—with an electronic computer inside his skull, controlled from Washington. The liberals see man as a soul freewheeling to the farthest reaches of the universe—but wearing chains from nose to toes when he crosses the street to buy a loaf of bread.

Anonymous said...

The fundamentalist "stupidity" refers not to their personal talents for accumulating money and power, but to their anti-intellectualism.

Is the greater threat to Western Civilization the fundamentalists who object to Harry Potter books or the elite intellectuals who stifle any discussion of racial differences?

DissidentMan said...

Is the greater threat to Western Civilization the fundamentalists who object to Harry Potter books or the elite intellectuals who stifle any discussion of racial differences?

They're bedmates. The fundies are big time Zionists. In return they get a seat at the table, even if it amounts to nothing in practice. It hasn't been mentioned anywhere recently but John McCain introduced a bill which would have made study of kennewick man impossible. From Wikipedia:
On April 7, 2005, during the 109th Congress, United States Senator John McCain introduced an amendment, to NAGPRA which, in section 108, would have changed the definition of "Native American" from being that which "is indigenous to the United States" to "is or was indigenous to the United States."
That tells us all we need to know about neocons and science. I don't know exactly what McCain's religious views are but he attended a fundy church and he is a neocon. He is thus a Frankenstein fusion of both, and we do know that Palin believes that the world will end in her lifetime with the second coming, and I heard she has an Israeli flag in her office.

That these two camps help each other shouldn't be a suprise. It doesn't matter that the chief neocons mostly despise the fundies. They found the fundies useful and put them to work in their service. It is possible that neocons are soon going to backstab their slavish fundy allies, scapegoating them for the failure of republican party, as some have already done. Whether this movement will gain traction remains to be seen.

Paul denounces the inquiry things of this world as well as the greek philosophers. I am not the first to say this but in response I would say, why should I trust someone's knowledge of supermundane things if he doesn't even want to know of of the mundane world under his nose? And heck, allow me to be a bit metaphysical myself here, when I say I don't believe happpiness (however it is had) can be sustained on ignorance.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Today, sitting in a sandwich/ice cream shop of the hoity-toities (the rich and favored), I overheard a three obviously staunch republican voters talking about Bush, how he is maligned and how good a president he really was.

I intervened and said, Do you know that Bush and Rove also helped the Diversity Recession by approving and pushing no-down payment mortgage loans?

They about bit my head off. They said it was Clinton. I added it was Bush's program too. They scoffed, called me a liberal, refused to talk to me and ran out of the sandwich shop. It is as if I hit them with a two-by-four. I never encountered this kind of blatant disrespect, lack of engagement, and inability to talk politics. I am the most conservative of conservatives and these people called me a liberal and refused to engage in any more conversation.

They had their Bush Dogma, and nothing, not even the facts would make them stop for a second of thought.

What is amazing is that these republicans engage in what the Left does. End discourse when it goes against their sacred cows.

This is unbelievable. I am shocked and thoroughly amazed at the treatment I received and this "Leftist behavior" of non-engagement amongst republicans. No wonder they are dead. They deserve to loose. If republicans are this self-deceived, they are in big trouble.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

There is nothing in America that is "conservative".

The only true Conservatives were and have been the Loyalists. America is a Nihilist revolution and you can not conserve Nihilism for it is ever morphing, ever changing. The FFofA purposely disregarded the Old Order, hence the "Novus Ordo" slogan on the back of our dollar bills. America is a Masonic country.

The Republican party at its inception, practice and history was never conservative.

A true conservative is a Loyalist.

The Pasadena Pundit said...

"Faith-based Initiatives may indeed have contributed to the mortgage mess but your selective use of sources is propagandistic, not balanced journalism. Here is a link to all the times Bush warned about Government-Supported Enterprises like Fannie Mae:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/09/20080919-15.html

Before pointing fingers and throwing stones I would suggest reading Anthony Down's book The Niagara of Capital: How Global Capital has transformed housing and real estat markets (2007). It describes how "financial engineers" devised stock issues and mortgage-backed securities sold in bond markets to finance real estate with foreign capital. This end-run around the conventional real estate financing sources of banks, insurance companies and S&L's resulted in too much money infused into real estate which resulted in low interest rates and lax lending standards. What resulted was a declining dollar and high gas prices. When the housing market collapsed the dollar stabilized and gas priced dropped in half which pulled the rug out from under the EURO, OPEC, Russia, etc. This might be called "economic warfare" in which we (the U.S.) won; or it may be interpreted as a Bush bungling job; or it all may be unintentional and accidental. Bush should not be used as a scapegoat without further investigation of the sources of the crisis.

The Pasadena Pundit said...

If you're a religious bigot who hates fundamentalist Christians you search out sources to prove that the financial crisis was caused or contributed to by "faith-based initiatives." Here are just a few of the multitude of "causes" for our current financial crisis, which "faith based initiatives" had hardly anything to do with:
1. Shift away from banks to private stock investment funds and collateralized mortgage bonds to finance real estate; 2. The importance of financial engineers in designing new financing instruments; 3. favorable capital gains tax rate; 4. Investors fleeing the stock market after 9/11 into "safe" real estate investments; 5. debt interest rates lower than equity (stock) interest rates; 6. a gargantuan influx of capital into real estate that could only be accommodated by lax loan underwriting and sub-prime loans. Sub-prime loans and lax underwriting were only symptoms of the cause.

But if you hate religious people, that explanation will work.

miss marple said...

To: Voodoo/Dissident man in no particular order

"Paul denounces the inquiry things of this world as well as the greek philosophers. I am not the first to say this but in response I would say, why should I trust someone's knowledge of supermundane things if he doesn't even want to know of of the mundane world under his nose? And heck, allow me to be a bit metaphysical myself here, when I say I don't believe happpiness (however it is had) can be sustained on ignorance."

This is a bit convoluted but I'll respond anyway. So called "fundies" come in a wide range of abilities. A church isn't MENSA after all. The point to an Evangelical institution is generally that all are welcome.

I'm surprised as well that someone like yourself is confident that you are among those who know all that can be known. It's not uncommon for geniuses to feel humbled that despite their erudition, their ability to know and understand the universe isn't much more than a thimbleful. Your not being aware that there's an ocean of knowledge out there as yet to be explored or that we even have the conceptual framework to understand, I seriously doubt you have a metaphysical bent.

The truth is you know very little about the individual denominations that are grouped under the rubric of "fundamentalist" or "Evangelical Protestant". Therefore, nothing you say about the amorphus category matters because all the term really means to you is all the negative traits and stereotypes of the stupid people (Christians are obviously stupid in your worldview with the exception of those Protestants who are evolving into peace loving, communal types who will soon abandon even their religious rituals) who cause all problems in the world.

You don't know who the various fundamentalists are nor do you care. Why shouldn't I accuse you of being incurious and ignorant? You are obviously more interested in the political than the metaphysical and know more about politics than religion. The opposite could be said of most Christians. You could make your point by starting here rather than vilifying Christians or certain Christian denominations thereby making it easier to communicate regarding shared interests in how the US is governed. Of course you won't make the effort due to your low frustration tolerance - not a sign of a high IQ btw.

"a hesperophobic reaction"

Now you're just making things up. For all the elements of goddess worship that have been assimilated by Catholic theology, I'd say the Catholic church is much more misogynistic than any of the Evangelical denominations. Perhaps their ignorance prevents them from being afraid that goddess worship will be reinstated at any moment. Consequently they are unaware that women have to be constantly reminded that they are the reason for all suffering in the world - harsh weather, famines, pain, disease, death - that they are pieces of vile rotting flesh that give birth to children (their only redeeming quality and purpose) conceived through the most depraved acts of reckless abandon. No, no. Evangelicals accept that it is part of their nature to enjoy these depraved acts, hence a theology that allows them to be reinstated in full with God after a private prayer of forgiveness.

Fundamentalism in its current form is a reaction to modern intellectual developments just as earlier fundamentalists reacted to ideas that they either found threatening or unsound or threatening because they were unsound. I'd call this conservatism.

"Christianity, sad to say, is an alien Middle Eastern contamination (much like Islam) of Western values. It is not an improvement on traditional - pagan - Western morality, and has nothing to offer but hypocrisy and (often repressed) sado-masochism."

This may well be true but I'm not certain you are any more prepared to live in a society based on pagan Western mores than the typical fundie. Then again, I could be wrong about you. Besides the fusion is complete. You'd have to get rid of Dante, Shakespeare, many of my favorite poets, Hawthorn and a few other members of the canon in order to create a pure Western culture. Are you willing to lay waste to a couple of millenia of Western civilization because of Christian influence?

Anyway, some of the Greeks and Romans were hacks who only had their works passed on because they could afford papyrus after all. I've read research indicating that many of the poorer pagan intellectuals and poets have either been lost or had their works appropriated badly by lesser men. It seems the pure among them operated more like those computer programers who are proponents of shareware. Sadly, the Bill Gates' of the pagan literary/philosophical world get all the credit because they sign their own names after copying someone elses work albeit with the inclusion of absurd turns of phrase, a few overlooked mistakes in fact and logic, etc.

DissidentMan said...

Miss Marple wrote:
Your not being aware that there's an ocean of knowledge out there as yet to be explored or that we even have the conceptual framework to understand, I seriously doubt you have a metaphysical bent.

I don't know which one of us you are addressing. I stated my belief that happiness is dependent on knowledge, and that may be a metaphysical belief, but maybe it isn't all the same. Anyway the upshot of this belief is that I will always prefer knowledge to ignorance. The extent of my knowledge (or ignorance) doesn't come into play here.

Christians are obviously stupid in your worldview with the exception of those Protestants who are evolving into peace loving, communal types who will soon abandon even their religious rituals.

I didn't make any exception for protestants. The fundies give the neocons support and the protestants are Marxists. Neither faction seems particularly palatable to me, and I am not particularly fond of hippies, contrary to what you imply.

BTW, I think that "hesperophobia" as used by Voodooman simply means hatred of all things western. Your rant about goddess worship may not be on point, but only voodooman can tell you.

Mr. Anon said...

"VoodooMan said...

In the words of Ayn Rand:
The conservatives see man as a body freely roaming the earth, building sand piles or factories—with an electronic computer inside his skull, controlled from Washington. The liberals see man as a soul freewheeling to the farthest reaches of the universe—but wearing chains from nose to toes when he crosses the street to buy a loaf of bread."

Well that's certainly a stupid thing to say, but then one expects that from Ayn Rand. Incidentally, given your animosity toward what you consider to be cultish fundamentalists, let me clue you in on something: Ayn Rand was the founder of a cult, and she was a fundmentalist adherant of its tenets.

miss marple said...

"BTW, I think that "hesperophobia" as used by Voodooman simply means hatred of all things western. Your rant about goddess worship may not be on point, but only voodooman can tell you."

He didn't say I'd have to look in a Latin dictionary.

English Dictionary versions of Hesper-:

Hesperia |heˈspi(ə)rēə| a city in southern California, north of San Bernardino; pop. 50,418.

I am a Californophobe.

Hesperus |ˈhespərəs| noun poetic/literary the planet Venus.

I took it in this sense. Thought you were a new ager criticising Protestants for removing almost all thinly disguised goddess worship. This isn't an atypical approach, btw.

hesperidium |ˌhespəˈridēəm| noun ( pl. hesperidia |-ˌhespəˈridēə|) Botany a fruit with sectioned pulp inside a separable rind, e.g., an orange or grapefruit.

Kinda feminine imagery.

Hesperides |heˈsperəˌdēz| Greek Mythology a group of nymphs who were guardians, with the aid of a watchful dragon, of a tree of golden apples in a garden located beyond the Atlas Mountains at the western border of Oceanus, the river encircling the world. One of the labors of Hercules was to fetch the golden apples.

Here's the beginning of your story, I suspect. Tantalizing, isn't it? Oh wait, that's another...

Ah, but in my Latin Dictionary:

Hesperia Italy; Spain

Christians are indifferent wrt these countries.

Hesperius western

Paydirt!

Hesperus evening star

This gets back to Venus & Western. What gives?

It was fun while it lasted. Do you or DissidentMan have an interest in mythology?

RE: the actual post

I detest faith-based initiatives. The concept is almost obscene and I have been cynical about it from the beginning believing that Bush had found a way to reduce the budget for social services by replacing social workers with religious volunteers. Combined with the refugee racket, this new twist on the faith-based initiatives is enough to make anyone respect the Marxists' drive to eradicate religion.

Further, there is absolutely no justification for this co-mingling of church and state. No church should expect to get money from the government while also maintaing tax exempt status and remaining exempt from having to comply with federal law. You don't have to get metaphysical at all in order to critique contemporary Christianity. Just as some denominations have wanted to stop paying taxes to a government that funds abortions, we the people should be clamoring to keep our taxes from being given to religious groups.

VoodooMan said...

The term hesperophobia indeed means "fear or hatred of the West". It was coined by Robert Conquest. A quick search of google (that readily-accessible fount of geek wisdom) would have told you that, Miss Marple - but thanks for exercising your "little grey cells", like a certain other A. Christie character, and perusing your Latin dictionary.

(A Greek dictionary, BTW, would have been more useful.)

Another word I will spring is arcanophobia - literally fear of magic. Arcanophobia is another guiding principle of Christianity. This is not to suggest that magic is good, or even that it exists. It is just that the arcanophobic cure can be worse than the disease. This blanket phobia makes a terrific moral excuse for small (and egalitarian "disneyland for dummies") minds to attack eveything that they do not understand - reason, art, science, technology, intellect, curiosity, creativity, neuroatypicality, geekiness - all things that a rational mind would not usually associate with "magic".

I personally do not claim to know everything about either the material or spiritual realms. I do know what is good for myself, and will fight to the death for it against the lifestyle fascists of both Right and Left. In my epicurean lifestyle or positive rational self-interest, I live and let live. I do not initiate the use of force. The lifestyle fascists do.

Put it another way: I do not force anyone to do drugs other than tobacco and alcohol, turn gay, have abortions, read pornography and/or Harry Potter, worship Satan, join secret societies, play Dungeons & Dragons, or listen to death/black metal.

VoodooMan said...

This may well be true but I'm not certain you are any more prepared to live in a society based on pagan Western mores than the typical fundie. Then again, I could be wrong about you. Besides the fusion is complete. You'd have to get rid of Dante, Shakespeare, many of my favorite poets, Hawthorn and a few other members of the canon in order to create a pure Western culture. Are you willing to lay waste to a couple of millenia of Western civilization because of Christian influence?

The pure Western culture is dead; all that exists now is a corrupted hybrid form. Think of a tree that was struck by lightning or some other trauma and as a result grew crooked. Cutting down the tree is not a solution. Accepting what had happened, and trying to mitigate and wherever possible reverse the damage, is a solution.

As for "pure pagan mores", remember they were from an ancient era, with ancient economics and technology. Slavery, for example, was not only ubiquitous, but necessary for any sort of true civilization. A Western epicurean conservative would extrapolate, or at least try to extrapolate, what pagan values would be like in the modern age.

Ronduck said...

VoodooMan said:

As for "pure pagan mores", remember they were from an ancient era, with ancient economics and technology. Slavery, for example, was not only ubiquitous, but necessary for any sort of true civilization.

No, slavery was unnecessary. At the time the Puritans landed they had few or no slaves. Free labor can be used to build a society, so there is no need to hold men in bondage to build a society.