Germany is fed-up

Germany has played nice since the end of World War II, trying to expiate its guilt by pushing for the European Union, sacrificing the solid Deutschmark for the ups and downs of the Euro, and using its strong economy to bail out other European countries.  But what is happening in Greece is causing Germans to say, “enough.”  So reports Anne Applebaum:

“Sell your islands, you bankrupt Greeks — and the Acropolis too!”

– headline, Bild newspaper, March 4

Sometimes they cut to the essence of the story, those tabloid-headline writers, even when they haven’t got the quotation exactly right. What the German politician quoted in the Bild article cited above actually said was: “A bankrupt party must use everything he has to make money and serve his creditors. . . . Greece owns buildings, companies and several uninhabited islands, which can now be used to repay debt.”

What the politician meant, though, was more accurately reflected in that Bild headline: The Germans are fed up with paying the bills of everybody in Europe, they don’t want to bail out the feckless Greeks with their flagrantly inaccurate official statistics, they resent being Europe’s banker of last resort, they object to the universal demand that they plug the vast holes in the Greek deficit in the name of “European unity” — and for the first time in a long time they are saying this out loud. Not only are tabloids demanding the sale of the Acropolis; Germany’s deeply serious paper of record, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has pointed out that while the Greeks are out protesting having to raise their pension eligibility age from 61 to 63, Germany recently raised its pension age from 65 to 67: “Does that mean that the Germans should in future extend the working age from 67 to 69, so that Greeks can enjoy their retirement?”

With an unerringly poor sense of timing, the Greeks have, in response, chosen this moment to flaunt their own resentments. One Greek minister complained to the BBC that the Nazis “took away the Greek gold that was in the Bank of Greece, they took away the Greek money and they never gave it back.” The mayor of Athens has demanded 70 billion euros (about $95 billion) for the damage the Nazis left behind after the war. The Greek consumer organization, not exactly thankful for the German bailout or Europe’s demands for Greek budget cuts, has called for a boycott of German products. Officially, the Germans have described these comments as “not helpful.” Unofficially, the German press is foaming at the mouth (see above), for once accurately reflecting the views of German politicians and German voters.

via Anne Applebaum – Germany’s tug-of-war with Greece – washingtonpost.com.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Mark Veenman

    I think also Napoleon and the French still have many unpaid reparations plus compound interest. Time heals many wounds. In true Marxist fashion, the Greeks are playing victim to cover up their own mismanagement in order to appropriate illegally the hard-earned tax dollars of others. One does not minimize the atrocities of WWII by saying that Germany has paid enough reparations.

  • Mark Veenman

    I think also Napoleon and the French still have many unpaid reparations plus compound interest. Time heals many wounds. In true Marxist fashion, the Greeks are playing victim to cover up their own mismanagement in order to appropriate illegally the hard-earned tax dollars of others. One does not minimize the atrocities of WWII by saying that Germany has paid enough reparations.

  • Mark Veenman

    Besides, the last “free” election in Germany before WWII was in 1933. There are barely any Germans alive today who could have voted in that election (which Hitler won with under 40% of the popular vote). What right do the Greeks have to hold accountable the grandchildren of 40% of voting Germans in 1933 for the Greeks’ present financial woes? They are truly grasping for straws.
    How ironic that Greek appeals courts have in recent years tacitly endorsed incitement of racial violence against Jews by overturning rulings against Greek holocaust deniers (see Costas Plevris’s “The Jews – The Whole Truth”)

  • Mark Veenman

    Besides, the last “free” election in Germany before WWII was in 1933. There are barely any Germans alive today who could have voted in that election (which Hitler won with under 40% of the popular vote). What right do the Greeks have to hold accountable the grandchildren of 40% of voting Germans in 1933 for the Greeks’ present financial woes? They are truly grasping for straws.
    How ironic that Greek appeals courts have in recent years tacitly endorsed incitement of racial violence against Jews by overturning rulings against Greek holocaust deniers (see Costas Plevris’s “The Jews – The Whole Truth”)

  • Pete

    Who’d buy the Acropolis anyway? What a headache of a fixer-upper.

  • Pete

    Who’d buy the Acropolis anyway? What a headache of a fixer-upper.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    It’s about time. The Germans have paid enough for the sins of their fathers.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    It’s about time. The Germans have paid enough for the sins of their fathers.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    o.K. Now I always thought that the Euro was part of Germany’s brilliant plan to take over the world without the world noticing. Yes when it comes to the Euro I am a conspiracy theorist. And given long enough to think about this, i will be able to see how this plays into the conspiracy. perhaps bankrupt the country you like for vacations, so you can buy it dirt cheap, and vacation there cheaper?
    But yes Greece’s complaints are quite laughable. Germany was broke, and had to rebuild much more after world war II than Greece. They managed. Some what 60 years have passed? That is plenty of time for Greece to have done something about their missing gold, and take responsibility for their own government. perhaps though they should learn a lesson from WWII and invest a little more in a Military that can defend a bank full of Gold.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    o.K. Now I always thought that the Euro was part of Germany’s brilliant plan to take over the world without the world noticing. Yes when it comes to the Euro I am a conspiracy theorist. And given long enough to think about this, i will be able to see how this plays into the conspiracy. perhaps bankrupt the country you like for vacations, so you can buy it dirt cheap, and vacation there cheaper?
    But yes Greece’s complaints are quite laughable. Germany was broke, and had to rebuild much more after world war II than Greece. They managed. Some what 60 years have passed? That is plenty of time for Greece to have done something about their missing gold, and take responsibility for their own government. perhaps though they should learn a lesson from WWII and invest a little more in a Military that can defend a bank full of Gold.

  • WebMonk

    My wife (fiance at the time) took a cruise through the Mediterranean, specifically the area around Greece, and has glowing reports. If Greece does sell off a couple islands, how can I get one?

  • WebMonk

    My wife (fiance at the time) took a cruise through the Mediterranean, specifically the area around Greece, and has glowing reports. If Greece does sell off a couple islands, how can I get one?

  • John

    The pro-German comments here are somewhat understandable, given the posters’ insular Lutheran backgrounds. But the anti-Greek comments are petty and. perhaps, are based a bit too uncomfortably in ethnicity. This is only an economic issue after all; Germany, recall, was rebuilt after WW2 by taxes from people who had just defeated it.
    But let’s drop the talk about Germany having paid for its sins. More generations of Germans (and their millions of victims) will have to come and go before such a conclusion can be made.

  • John

    The pro-German comments here are somewhat understandable, given the posters’ insular Lutheran backgrounds. But the anti-Greek comments are petty and. perhaps, are based a bit too uncomfortably in ethnicity. This is only an economic issue after all; Germany, recall, was rebuilt after WW2 by taxes from people who had just defeated it.
    But let’s drop the talk about Germany having paid for its sins. More generations of Germans (and their millions of victims) will have to come and go before such a conclusion can be made.

  • Joe

    “More generations of Germans (and their millions of victims) will have to come and go before such a conclusion can be made.”

    Really? How long will it take? I am not German (nstead, I am the grandson of a man who was a prisoner in the Nazi’s camps and a woman who was forced in to indentured servitude). Enough time has passed.

  • Joe

    “More generations of Germans (and their millions of victims) will have to come and go before such a conclusion can be made.”

    Really? How long will it take? I am not German (nstead, I am the grandson of a man who was a prisoner in the Nazi’s camps and a woman who was forced in to indentured servitude). Enough time has passed.

  • John

    How long? 100 years? Have the effects of American slavery gone away?
    Who’s presumptuous enough to say today, on behalf of all the victims of the Nazis, that “[e]nough time has passed”? These atrocrities [sins] play out for generations, negatively affecting those who were not even alive when the war ended.

  • John

    How long? 100 years? Have the effects of American slavery gone away?
    Who’s presumptuous enough to say today, on behalf of all the victims of the Nazis, that “[e]nough time has passed”? These atrocrities [sins] play out for generations, negatively affecting those who were not even alive when the war ended.

  • ptl

    John above….very good “these atrocities [sins] play out for generations” were you thinking of Adam and Eve?

  • ptl

    John above….very good “these atrocities [sins] play out for generations” were you thinking of Adam and Eve?

  • John

    ptl, yes, in part, though perhaps without the sense of imputation. Sin is personal, of course, but there’s also a social component (guilt) that lasts and lasts. The atrocities of the 20th century will be felt for who knows how long, just as those committed in ages past still have their effect. I frankly think its salutary for us to confess not just our personal sins, but those of the culture we’re in, and to repent of both. We contribute to the latter, just as we have personally done, or failed to do, the former.

  • John

    ptl, yes, in part, though perhaps without the sense of imputation. Sin is personal, of course, but there’s also a social component (guilt) that lasts and lasts. The atrocities of the 20th century will be felt for who knows how long, just as those committed in ages past still have their effect. I frankly think its salutary for us to confess not just our personal sins, but those of the culture we’re in, and to repent of both. We contribute to the latter, just as we have personally done, or failed to do, the former.

  • DonS

    Yes, it is about time that the Germans and other nations who handle their finances at least marginally more responsibly revolt against what amounts, essentially, to taxation without representation. They get no vote in the affairs of Greece, and yet, by virtue of common currency and linked financial fortunes, they are forced to subsidize the madness.

  • DonS

    Yes, it is about time that the Germans and other nations who handle their finances at least marginally more responsibly revolt against what amounts, essentially, to taxation without representation. They get no vote in the affairs of Greece, and yet, by virtue of common currency and linked financial fortunes, they are forced to subsidize the madness.

  • Peter Leavitt

    I’ve traveled a lot in Germany and know of the pain that most bright Germans still suffer due to the conduct of their nation during WW II. When listening to German friends flagellate themselves on this subject, I suggest that they read Steven Ozment’s A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People. Ozment is the leading Harvard scholar on the history of Germany. He argues that most Germans and modern historians are unduly influenced by Nazism, which he views as mostly an anomaly in the long history of a great people, however fallen like the rest of us.

    Germany needs to be diplomatic in its relations with Greece, as Angela Merkel is, while making clear that Greece is responsible for its own fiscal profligacy. Blaming Greece’s present problem on Germany’s policy seventy-years ago is absurd. Greece, like the U.S. at present, is a spendthrift nation that needs to mends its own fiscal policy.

  • Peter Leavitt

    I’ve traveled a lot in Germany and know of the pain that most bright Germans still suffer due to the conduct of their nation during WW II. When listening to German friends flagellate themselves on this subject, I suggest that they read Steven Ozment’s A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People. Ozment is the leading Harvard scholar on the history of Germany. He argues that most Germans and modern historians are unduly influenced by Nazism, which he views as mostly an anomaly in the long history of a great people, however fallen like the rest of us.

    Germany needs to be diplomatic in its relations with Greece, as Angela Merkel is, while making clear that Greece is responsible for its own fiscal profligacy. Blaming Greece’s present problem on Germany’s policy seventy-years ago is absurd. Greece, like the U.S. at present, is a spendthrift nation that needs to mends its own fiscal policy.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Excuse me, in the above when I say that most Germans are influenced by Nazism, the intended meaning is that they continue to unreasonably blame themselves in part for the savagery of Hitler and its Nazi regime.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Excuse me, in the above when I say that most Germans are influenced by Nazism, the intended meaning is that they continue to unreasonably blame themselves in part for the savagery of Hitler and its Nazi regime.

  • Harvey

    Some excerpts from the Sunday Times’ review of Oment’s book.
    http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article434990.ece

    “… [Ozment] concedes that there might indeed be something innately disciplined and darkly efficient in the German character. The vaunted perfectionism of today’s German workplace may have its grotesque mirror image in the Nazis’ Ordnungsliebe (passion for order).

    Since the end of the second world war, Germans have tried in various ways to come to terms with their past. Some have turned guilt into a national virtue and performed Trauerarbeit (the labour of mourning); others have sought to re-create themselves spiritually on pilgrimages to Israel. The German novelist Günter Grass declared that whoever thinks about Germany today must also consider Auschwitz, and many of his compatriots would agree. Indeed, the word “Auschwitz” was never heard so often in post-war Germany as during unification. Thugs with shaved heads were again on the streets chanting Nazi slogans. Grass himself used the existence of the death camp as an argument against a unified Fatherland. ”

    For all his erudition, Ozment does not really answer the central question: how a civilised nation was able to commit such a crime as the murder of all the Jews within its jurisdiction.”

  • Harvey

    Some excerpts from the Sunday Times’ review of Oment’s book.
    http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article434990.ece

    “… [Ozment] concedes that there might indeed be something innately disciplined and darkly efficient in the German character. The vaunted perfectionism of today’s German workplace may have its grotesque mirror image in the Nazis’ Ordnungsliebe (passion for order).

    Since the end of the second world war, Germans have tried in various ways to come to terms with their past. Some have turned guilt into a national virtue and performed Trauerarbeit (the labour of mourning); others have sought to re-create themselves spiritually on pilgrimages to Israel. The German novelist Günter Grass declared that whoever thinks about Germany today must also consider Auschwitz, and many of his compatriots would agree. Indeed, the word “Auschwitz” was never heard so often in post-war Germany as during unification. Thugs with shaved heads were again on the streets chanting Nazi slogans. Grass himself used the existence of the death camp as an argument against a unified Fatherland. ”

    For all his erudition, Ozment does not really answer the central question: how a civilised nation was able to commit such a crime as the murder of all the Jews within its jurisdiction.”

  • ptl

    John above….good points, but it must be so difficult to partition out the good from the bad consequences of the sins of our Fathers. Just consider the American Indians, should we give them all their land back? Am sure there are very sophisticated philosophical arguments for any possible answer. There is always the “to the victor goes the spoils” position too!

    As per the evils of the 20th century, it probably depends on your perspective as to whether it was good or bad, that is, am sure not everyone would agree with you. It’s too complicated for me to figure out, that’s for sure, and guess we’ll have to wait and see how it all ultimately plays out. But had heard that Nietzsche thought (something along these lines) that the 20th Century would be a very bloody and terrible time, but the horrors of the 21st Century would make it look like child’s play? Something like the 20th would be a struggle for the control of people’s minds (guess that’s what would you expect after killing their God and trying to replace it with the authority of the State?) but that the 21st would be about the struggle for control of the keys to life itself. Am not really sure what that means or how that would play out, except if life itself is devalued and loses it’s sanctity and tools and technologies are developed which manipulate and treat it as a commodity, it could mean tough times ahead, especially for those on the wrong side of the issue. We indeed live in interesting times!

  • ptl

    John above….good points, but it must be so difficult to partition out the good from the bad consequences of the sins of our Fathers. Just consider the American Indians, should we give them all their land back? Am sure there are very sophisticated philosophical arguments for any possible answer. There is always the “to the victor goes the spoils” position too!

    As per the evils of the 20th century, it probably depends on your perspective as to whether it was good or bad, that is, am sure not everyone would agree with you. It’s too complicated for me to figure out, that’s for sure, and guess we’ll have to wait and see how it all ultimately plays out. But had heard that Nietzsche thought (something along these lines) that the 20th Century would be a very bloody and terrible time, but the horrors of the 21st Century would make it look like child’s play? Something like the 20th would be a struggle for the control of people’s minds (guess that’s what would you expect after killing their God and trying to replace it with the authority of the State?) but that the 21st would be about the struggle for control of the keys to life itself. Am not really sure what that means or how that would play out, except if life itself is devalued and loses it’s sanctity and tools and technologies are developed which manipulate and treat it as a commodity, it could mean tough times ahead, especially for those on the wrong side of the issue. We indeed live in interesting times!

  • John

    ptl,
    You’re right to ask the questions. My problem is with those who reject the need for such questions all together.

  • John

    ptl,
    You’re right to ask the questions. My problem is with those who reject the need for such questions all together.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    If I may engage in a bit of ribald word play based on Veith’s headline …

    Germany is fed-up, Greece is f’ed-up.

    Just sayin’.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    If I may engage in a bit of ribald word play based on Veith’s headline …

    Germany is fed-up, Greece is f’ed-up.

    Just sayin’.

  • tonto2

    John @ 7
    Perhaps we should execute all of German decent. Would that then clear the record?
    What about the Soviets? They murdered more people under Stalin then the Germans did under Hitler. And then we have the Japanese during WWll. By the time all those that are associated with those nationalities are “gotten rid of”, who would be left. Oh, yes, and then we must get up to modern times. Perhaps we should get rid of all who sin, but then who would be left?
    tonto2

  • tonto2

    John @ 7
    Perhaps we should execute all of German decent. Would that then clear the record?
    What about the Soviets? They murdered more people under Stalin then the Germans did under Hitler. And then we have the Japanese during WWll. By the time all those that are associated with those nationalities are “gotten rid of”, who would be left. Oh, yes, and then we must get up to modern times. Perhaps we should get rid of all who sin, but then who would be left?
    tonto2

  • John

    @19. You have aptly named yourself, sir.

  • John

    @19. You have aptly named yourself, sir.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John, missing entirely from your analysis of whether Germany has “paid” for its wrongs of 65+ years ago is a discussion of what Greece has done wrong very, very recently — and, for all I know, still hasn’t fixed.

    Sure, the ripples of history move ever outward (to make up a phrase), but in the end, people need to take responsibility for their actions. Germany has. Greece hasn’t. You seem far more intent on condemning Germany than Greece. Why is that?

    But, if we are going to demand repayments from people living in former countries that had an impact on the former country where we happen to now live, I do expect a fat paycheck from Great Britain real soon now. King George III’s people owe me big time!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John, missing entirely from your analysis of whether Germany has “paid” for its wrongs of 65+ years ago is a discussion of what Greece has done wrong very, very recently — and, for all I know, still hasn’t fixed.

    Sure, the ripples of history move ever outward (to make up a phrase), but in the end, people need to take responsibility for their actions. Germany has. Greece hasn’t. You seem far more intent on condemning Germany than Greece. Why is that?

    But, if we are going to demand repayments from people living in former countries that had an impact on the former country where we happen to now live, I do expect a fat paycheck from Great Britain real soon now. King George III’s people owe me big time!

  • John

    tODD, I’m not talking reparations, nor am I trying to analyze the economic problem mentioned in the article. I reacted to those who were quick to absolve Germany from all of its past sins, not just the plundering the Greeks complained of. There are too many alive today who committed the atrocities and who suffered from them, to think seriously about absolution.
    I think that nations and cultures live with their sins for generations; as Christians, part of our confession of sin must include, not just our personal offenses, but those committed by the culture in which we live and from which we benefit.
    I realize hardly anyone here will agree with me, but I think white Americans should still confess the sin of slavery. That doesn’t mean ‘reparations’ per se, but it does mean we ought to realize that the white privilege that whites benefit from is a very real consequence of what whites did in the country to blacks and native Americans, whether those whites were our ancestors or not. The point is not self-flagellation; it’s keeping such sin in mind so that we can repent of it and combat racism.

  • John

    tODD, I’m not talking reparations, nor am I trying to analyze the economic problem mentioned in the article. I reacted to those who were quick to absolve Germany from all of its past sins, not just the plundering the Greeks complained of. There are too many alive today who committed the atrocities and who suffered from them, to think seriously about absolution.
    I think that nations and cultures live with their sins for generations; as Christians, part of our confession of sin must include, not just our personal offenses, but those committed by the culture in which we live and from which we benefit.
    I realize hardly anyone here will agree with me, but I think white Americans should still confess the sin of slavery. That doesn’t mean ‘reparations’ per se, but it does mean we ought to realize that the white privilege that whites benefit from is a very real consequence of what whites did in the country to blacks and native Americans, whether those whites were our ancestors or not. The point is not self-flagellation; it’s keeping such sin in mind so that we can repent of it and combat racism.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John (@22), part of the problem, to me, is your use of terms like “absolution” and “sin” with a complete disregard for what those terms actually mean in the Christian faith.

    You think that we (I, you, the lot of us) should “confess the sin of slavery” — which sin neither I nor you actually committed, I assume — by which you mean that we should note that the sins of past people influence people today in different ways, some of which benefit some of us. That is a complete reworking of the ideas of both “confession” and “sin”. You also play rather loosely with the notion of “absolution”, detaching it from its context of grace given freely by God to the repentant sinner, and transforming it into something that can only be merited (or at least waited out) once those affected or committing by a past deed are dead.

    Maybe if you stuck to saying what you mean, rather than working in terms of some hellacious-sounding works-righteous Christianity, you’d be more persuasive, at least in these circles.

    Meanwhile, I don’t think using sweeping terms like “white privilege”, or suggesting that all “white Americans should still confess the sin of slavery” is a very good way to combat racism, given that it necessarily dabbles in the same.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John (@22), part of the problem, to me, is your use of terms like “absolution” and “sin” with a complete disregard for what those terms actually mean in the Christian faith.

    You think that we (I, you, the lot of us) should “confess the sin of slavery” — which sin neither I nor you actually committed, I assume — by which you mean that we should note that the sins of past people influence people today in different ways, some of which benefit some of us. That is a complete reworking of the ideas of both “confession” and “sin”. You also play rather loosely with the notion of “absolution”, detaching it from its context of grace given freely by God to the repentant sinner, and transforming it into something that can only be merited (or at least waited out) once those affected or committing by a past deed are dead.

    Maybe if you stuck to saying what you mean, rather than working in terms of some hellacious-sounding works-righteous Christianity, you’d be more persuasive, at least in these circles.

    Meanwhile, I don’t think using sweeping terms like “white privilege”, or suggesting that all “white Americans should still confess the sin of slavery” is a very good way to combat racism, given that it necessarily dabbles in the same.

  • John

    tODD, I appreciate your comments.
    (1) I am using the terms ‘sin’, ‘confession,’ and ‘absolution’ in the way they are used in the Christian faith, however rare such usage may be in conservative Lutheran synods.
    (2) I stick to saying what I mean because that’s all I can do. I’m not using Christian terms as metaphor for some larger point. Rather, I’m using such terms literally. While my comments may lack clarity, they don’t lack sincerity.
    (3) The term “white privilege” is hardly a racist term. Ask any black man or native American woman if there’s such a thing as “white privilege.”

  • John

    tODD, I appreciate your comments.
    (1) I am using the terms ‘sin’, ‘confession,’ and ‘absolution’ in the way they are used in the Christian faith, however rare such usage may be in conservative Lutheran synods.
    (2) I stick to saying what I mean because that’s all I can do. I’m not using Christian terms as metaphor for some larger point. Rather, I’m using such terms literally. While my comments may lack clarity, they don’t lack sincerity.
    (3) The term “white privilege” is hardly a racist term. Ask any black man or native American woman if there’s such a thing as “white privilege.”

  • ptl

    to John above…..you make good points, although sometimes your theology and choice of words are maybe not as crisp as some folks would like. The idea that certain people did gain at the expense of others enslavement which was not returned or shared after the change in policy (reminds me of the tax collector who promised Jesus he would return 10 times the amount he had taken sinfully) is valid in my mind. In that sense, sin is not just personal (some is, of course) but impacts other as well (obviously sins like murder or theft or adultery) and society generally, since we are all diminished in one way or another, when others behavior isn’t 100% positive. In that sense, and for those folks, confession would do a lot of good, for them and everyone. It would also be nice if folks were more willing to reach out and help those who really are the victims of certain mistakes in past, just as if they had been victimized by an earthquake or hurricane, and realize that need is just as real and needed to repair damages as in other kinds of disasters. In that idealistic sense, we would do well to think of everyone (especially within the borders of our own country) as our brothers and sisters, and be open to listen and try our best to hear them, even though sometimes some of the words they use can hide the real message. Not everyone has the gift of being able to articulate complicated ideas in a clear and meaningful way, but we should try and put the best construction on their words and find the truths and ideas that we share and let those bring us together.

  • ptl

    to John above…..you make good points, although sometimes your theology and choice of words are maybe not as crisp as some folks would like. The idea that certain people did gain at the expense of others enslavement which was not returned or shared after the change in policy (reminds me of the tax collector who promised Jesus he would return 10 times the amount he had taken sinfully) is valid in my mind. In that sense, sin is not just personal (some is, of course) but impacts other as well (obviously sins like murder or theft or adultery) and society generally, since we are all diminished in one way or another, when others behavior isn’t 100% positive. In that sense, and for those folks, confession would do a lot of good, for them and everyone. It would also be nice if folks were more willing to reach out and help those who really are the victims of certain mistakes in past, just as if they had been victimized by an earthquake or hurricane, and realize that need is just as real and needed to repair damages as in other kinds of disasters. In that idealistic sense, we would do well to think of everyone (especially within the borders of our own country) as our brothers and sisters, and be open to listen and try our best to hear them, even though sometimes some of the words they use can hide the real message. Not everyone has the gift of being able to articulate complicated ideas in a clear and meaningful way, but we should try and put the best construction on their words and find the truths and ideas that we share and let those bring us together.

  • Mark Veenman

    John @ 7:
    “Insular Lutheran backgrounds”? Does Veenman strike you as a German surname or do you presume I have an insular Lutheran background?
    Victor Kugler is a man I deeply admire. A Lutheran of supposed “insular Lutheran background”; a German from Sudetenland; transplanted in the Netherlands; the man who hid Anne Frank.
    P.s. “Veenman” is Dutch and usually reformed.

  • Mark Veenman

    John @ 7:
    “Insular Lutheran backgrounds”? Does Veenman strike you as a German surname or do you presume I have an insular Lutheran background?
    Victor Kugler is a man I deeply admire. A Lutheran of supposed “insular Lutheran background”; a German from Sudetenland; transplanted in the Netherlands; the man who hid Anne Frank.
    P.s. “Veenman” is Dutch and usually reformed.

  • ptl

    tODD has great points too….if you have kids, just think about how often they blame YOU for their problems! You didn’t love me enough, or you didn’t let me do this or that, or you loved my little sister more, or whatever….it’s funny (or sad) how many as adults still blame their parents for many of their problems. But there has to come a time when you say, enough! You are a human being and you have the ability to change and regardless of your past, or in spite of your past, overcome your shortcomings and situation and improve yourselves. That usually happens about the same time they stop to blame others for all their problems!

    Now the analogy is not perfect, of course, and there can be abuse that does get in the way of getting over things, but even in extreme cases, most problems can eventually be overcome. It usually begins with taking personal responsibility, not for your past, but for your future, and using your God-given intelligence and know how to figure out how to cope with or minimize your situation. Of course, like all analogies, this isn’t perfect either and there are always situations that don’t fit the model. But it does address the point, how long can one continue to blame others? How long will it be ok (and healthy) to blame your parents for all your problems?

    Heck, why not take it to the next level, why not blame God for all our problems? He made us and/or made us this way, right and put us in these circumstances? And he could if He wanted to get us out of it, given He is all powerful, right? Just asking rhetorically of course, although this does seem like the extreme version of this theme?

  • ptl

    tODD has great points too….if you have kids, just think about how often they blame YOU for their problems! You didn’t love me enough, or you didn’t let me do this or that, or you loved my little sister more, or whatever….it’s funny (or sad) how many as adults still blame their parents for many of their problems. But there has to come a time when you say, enough! You are a human being and you have the ability to change and regardless of your past, or in spite of your past, overcome your shortcomings and situation and improve yourselves. That usually happens about the same time they stop to blame others for all their problems!

    Now the analogy is not perfect, of course, and there can be abuse that does get in the way of getting over things, but even in extreme cases, most problems can eventually be overcome. It usually begins with taking personal responsibility, not for your past, but for your future, and using your God-given intelligence and know how to figure out how to cope with or minimize your situation. Of course, like all analogies, this isn’t perfect either and there are always situations that don’t fit the model. But it does address the point, how long can one continue to blame others? How long will it be ok (and healthy) to blame your parents for all your problems?

    Heck, why not take it to the next level, why not blame God for all our problems? He made us and/or made us this way, right and put us in these circumstances? And he could if He wanted to get us out of it, given He is all powerful, right? Just asking rhetorically of course, although this does seem like the extreme version of this theme?

  • DonS

    John @ 22:

    “I realize hardly anyone here will agree with me, but I think white Americans should still confess the sin of slavery. That doesn’t mean ‘reparations’ per se, but it does mean we ought to realize that the white privilege that whites benefit from is a very real consequence of what whites did in the country to blacks and native Americans, whether those whites were our ancestors or not. The point is not self-flagellation; it’s keeping such sin in mind so that we can repent of it and combat racism.”

    John, I hope you don’t think this is piling on, but I did want to comment on your statement above, respectfully. Your point is well taken that the sins of our forefathers are visited on us. Original sin imputed to all descendants of Adam and Eve is the obvious example, and the O.T. is full of examples of generations being cursed because of the sins of their ancestors (eg King David & his sons). So I agree with you that we, as Americans, should always regret what was wrought by some of our forebears in the South with respect to slavery, and those from the North who allowed it to happen for generations.

    Where I disagree is with the notion that all white Americans must continue to repent of this sin. First of all, only a minority of white Americans are descended from slaveholders or those who enabled them. Moreover, few of us are purely white, black, or any other race. While a few whites still benefit from historical slavery, because of property and wealth derived from it handed down through the generations, most of us haven’t benefited at all. My son is currently an applicant to the Naval Academy. He has been told that he would have been admitted long ago if he weren’t white, but because he is white he might not get in. So, he is paying a serious price for his “whiteness”.

    We all come from circumstances that advantage or disadvantage us in some way. On this earth, we are not promised equality of circumstances. Some enjoy good health, some are prone to illness, some are born into wealth, some are poor, some are intelligent and talented, others not so much, good looking or not, etc. At this point, the chapter needs to be closed, and we all need to move on.

    Unfortunately, the “civil rights industry”, as I like to call it, has too much invested in this continual victimology culture to permit us to move on. The Jesse Jackson’s and Al Sharpton’s of this world have enriched themselves exploiting their black brethren. In contrast, affirmative action hurts the ordinary American of minority extraction, because it creates a presumption that the person didn’t make it on the merits but because of their race.

    I continue to pray that someday we will be a TRULY colorblind society, as Dr. Martin Luther King in his wisdom dreamt on that August day in 1963.

  • DonS

    John @ 22:

    “I realize hardly anyone here will agree with me, but I think white Americans should still confess the sin of slavery. That doesn’t mean ‘reparations’ per se, but it does mean we ought to realize that the white privilege that whites benefit from is a very real consequence of what whites did in the country to blacks and native Americans, whether those whites were our ancestors or not. The point is not self-flagellation; it’s keeping such sin in mind so that we can repent of it and combat racism.”

    John, I hope you don’t think this is piling on, but I did want to comment on your statement above, respectfully. Your point is well taken that the sins of our forefathers are visited on us. Original sin imputed to all descendants of Adam and Eve is the obvious example, and the O.T. is full of examples of generations being cursed because of the sins of their ancestors (eg King David & his sons). So I agree with you that we, as Americans, should always regret what was wrought by some of our forebears in the South with respect to slavery, and those from the North who allowed it to happen for generations.

    Where I disagree is with the notion that all white Americans must continue to repent of this sin. First of all, only a minority of white Americans are descended from slaveholders or those who enabled them. Moreover, few of us are purely white, black, or any other race. While a few whites still benefit from historical slavery, because of property and wealth derived from it handed down through the generations, most of us haven’t benefited at all. My son is currently an applicant to the Naval Academy. He has been told that he would have been admitted long ago if he weren’t white, but because he is white he might not get in. So, he is paying a serious price for his “whiteness”.

    We all come from circumstances that advantage or disadvantage us in some way. On this earth, we are not promised equality of circumstances. Some enjoy good health, some are prone to illness, some are born into wealth, some are poor, some are intelligent and talented, others not so much, good looking or not, etc. At this point, the chapter needs to be closed, and we all need to move on.

    Unfortunately, the “civil rights industry”, as I like to call it, has too much invested in this continual victimology culture to permit us to move on. The Jesse Jackson’s and Al Sharpton’s of this world have enriched themselves exploiting their black brethren. In contrast, affirmative action hurts the ordinary American of minority extraction, because it creates a presumption that the person didn’t make it on the merits but because of their race.

    I continue to pray that someday we will be a TRULY colorblind society, as Dr. Martin Luther King in his wisdom dreamt on that August day in 1963.

  • ptl

    to DonS above….nicely said and look forward to comments or reactions from John!

  • ptl

    to DonS above….nicely said and look forward to comments or reactions from John!

  • Partizan

    My one hope out of all of this is that if Greece accepts any financial help from the EU, they be forced on their part of the agreement to drop their official protests over Macedonia’s name.

  • Partizan

    My one hope out of all of this is that if Greece accepts any financial help from the EU, they be forced on their part of the agreement to drop their official protests over Macedonia’s name.

  • Boaz

    “As Christians, part of our confession of sin must include, not just our personal offenses, but those committed by the culture in which we live and from which we benefit.”

    How can a culture sin? A culture is a group of individuals making decisions. So you are saying we need to confess sins other individuals do. Does that need depend on benefitting from the culture? So the underclass doesn’t have to confess its culture’s sins, or does it have to confess the sins of its subculture?

    The Bible often talks about groups of people, and consequences of the sin of one being felt by many, but it does not put blame on a person for the sin of another, except in the case of original sin. If we were to blame for the sins of our culture, then Jesus could not have been blameless.

    Ultimately, we are held accountable only for ourselves, which is more than enough.

  • Boaz

    “As Christians, part of our confession of sin must include, not just our personal offenses, but those committed by the culture in which we live and from which we benefit.”

    How can a culture sin? A culture is a group of individuals making decisions. So you are saying we need to confess sins other individuals do. Does that need depend on benefitting from the culture? So the underclass doesn’t have to confess its culture’s sins, or does it have to confess the sins of its subculture?

    The Bible often talks about groups of people, and consequences of the sin of one being felt by many, but it does not put blame on a person for the sin of another, except in the case of original sin. If we were to blame for the sins of our culture, then Jesus could not have been blameless.

    Ultimately, we are held accountable only for ourselves, which is more than enough.

  • John

    DonS, you managed both to play the victim and condemn victims (but not yourself) at the same time. Your mention of a “civil rights industry” shows that you don’t get my points. My knowledge of cultural sin and the need to repent of it comes from the Bible, history, and Catholic social teaching. I’m sorry, by the way, that your son wants to go to Naval Academy, and I hope that he is not accepted. But I doubt his “whiteness” will do him much harm in life.
    Boaz, how can a culture sin? The sins of many can envelop and stain a culture. Why did the Lord speak of judging and overthrowing “nations,” e.g., Nineveh, Canaan, etc.? The nations stand before Him in Matthew 25. Your comment about Christ’s blamelessness was curious. Because He was blameless, His culture condemned Him, for which it was later overthrown.

  • John

    DonS, you managed both to play the victim and condemn victims (but not yourself) at the same time. Your mention of a “civil rights industry” shows that you don’t get my points. My knowledge of cultural sin and the need to repent of it comes from the Bible, history, and Catholic social teaching. I’m sorry, by the way, that your son wants to go to Naval Academy, and I hope that he is not accepted. But I doubt his “whiteness” will do him much harm in life.
    Boaz, how can a culture sin? The sins of many can envelop and stain a culture. Why did the Lord speak of judging and overthrowing “nations,” e.g., Nineveh, Canaan, etc.? The nations stand before Him in Matthew 25. Your comment about Christ’s blamelessness was curious. Because He was blameless, His culture condemned Him, for which it was later overthrown.

  • DonS

    John @ 32: Which victims did I condemn? Jesse Jackson? Al Sharpton? In what way are they victims rather than exploiters? Nor did I even condemn THEM. I merely registered my disgust with their decisions to enrich and promote themselves by furthering, rather than attempting to heal, racial division in our country.

    I claim no victim status. I am blessed, and my family is blessed. I was merely citing an example evidencing that we all face, merely through our birth circumstances, different advantages and disadvantages, and these we have to deal with and adjust to in a way that honors the Lord and acknowledges His sovereignty in our lives. Claiming victimhood or demanding special favors to compensate for those disadvantages is no way to do that.

    Regarding your wish that my son is not accepted to the Naval Academy, I will assume that you did not mean that personally, but rather than you do not support the institution of the Naval Academy. Which, I take it, means that you do not believe that the United States has the right to maintain a military force. That is a rather radical viewpoint, to say the least.

  • DonS

    John @ 32: Which victims did I condemn? Jesse Jackson? Al Sharpton? In what way are they victims rather than exploiters? Nor did I even condemn THEM. I merely registered my disgust with their decisions to enrich and promote themselves by furthering, rather than attempting to heal, racial division in our country.

    I claim no victim status. I am blessed, and my family is blessed. I was merely citing an example evidencing that we all face, merely through our birth circumstances, different advantages and disadvantages, and these we have to deal with and adjust to in a way that honors the Lord and acknowledges His sovereignty in our lives. Claiming victimhood or demanding special favors to compensate for those disadvantages is no way to do that.

    Regarding your wish that my son is not accepted to the Naval Academy, I will assume that you did not mean that personally, but rather than you do not support the institution of the Naval Academy. Which, I take it, means that you do not believe that the United States has the right to maintain a military force. That is a rather radical viewpoint, to say the least.


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