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Basically: the argument for causality answers the infinite regress atheists are stuck with. You pointing to what "causes God" perfectly demonstrates this infinite regress of the atheistic world-view. Thomas Aquinas stated: everything which HAS a cause, must have a cause who caused it. Everything in the universe has a cause. Most scientists concur the universe itself has a cause I say most because Hawking argues the universe could be eternal due to imaginary time So he is a outlier. If the universe had a cause: it requires something to have caused it. Atheists then ask why another universe could have caused this one to exist.

But eventually we reach an infinite series of causation in the past every universe that existed before this one would need a universe before it to cause it's existence, and thats why the Big Bounce theory is flawed. Aquinas asserted there must be an Uncaused Cause, this is by logical necessity. To be the First Cause which again is a logical necessity for there to be one by defintion it must not require an explaination for its Being.

The question of "who caused God" is far off the mark to ever disputing or refuting God. Hawking realized the logical necessity of an Uncaused Cause: he is a step ahead of Dawkings and the other Village Atheists. But Hawking's M-Theory has the Universe as the "Uncaused Cause" while philosophers hold that contingent physical reality cannot possibly be the answer to causality.

One supposes but there really is no evidence to support that formula except in the narrowest band of reasoning. Well the God that Christian's claim to follow essentially falls in that same category after the Death of Jesus. Anything outside of that a god who leaves the Universe to itself is considered a miracle by Christians which their dogma believes incredibly rare. Most Catholics are rather agnostic-to-theist on a personal God, because belief in a personal God is more subjective than morality. I can only say this; that the best way I know of to duplicate it is to stop denying that such experiences exist.

That is as close as I or anybody else can get you. What seems clear to me is that some humans have an experience with a personal God. Many never have such an experience. If anything, this leads me to the conclusion that if there is a personal God, he is concerned about some and indifferent to others. Which is what you would expect from a personal God, wouldn't you? After all, you are certainly concerned about some and indifferent to others in your own life.

As I see it, the amount of difference in my life between "no God" and "a personal God who is indifferent to Ruiz" is of no consequence. The only consequence is being wrong about the existence of God, to being right- and thus open to more data later on. Thank you, Epicus. But I can't lead an atheist to the Catholic God- that depends on a personal opening to listening that atheists just don't have. I can lead them to the Deistic God, and then to the next step of a Calvinist God, which doesn't require them to listen.

I'm sorry for jumping on you. Awesome gods don't ignore people. You can't explain to an atheist why God is awesome. They will reject anything you say without listening at the mention of the word "God". Not all. You just can't spout platitudes at them and leave it at it. Also, talking about them as if they were small children doesn't get them to listen either haha. In my history, they would rather have, as one put it to me, "Separation of Church and Leo"- they don't want to even hear it at all. Theodore proceeds on the assumption that anyone who doesn't agree with him must be biased.

That saves him having to make a case of any sort or consider the possibility of bias in his own assumptions. Which lasts only as long as the time it takes for the next issue to occur. If all the users used the program exactly as it was set up to be used originally patches would not be necessary. But users never do that, they always push for more, push for things outside the original intent of the program because they are individual and free to do so and needs and circumstances have an inifinte number of variables, many often defying all the laws of programming or in the case of the universe science.

SO it may be with the universe. Miracles could be patches for users who try to go beyond or are forced to go beyond the original intent. Infinte regress is also a theory based on assuption and presumptions and doesn't work in all applications. Let's be honest neither side has proven they are right or that the opposition is wrong except in their own minds. I think multitudinous experiences which have similar 'tones' or 'feels' to them while varying wildly in details such as cause, location, participants, deities, garb, ethnicity and gender point to an underlying similarity in those undergoing the experiences, not some outside force impinging on those 'touched.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying "notorious athiest," or "the annoyance of some atheists. Yes sorry it was an attempt at a joke. Sam Harris seems to be the atheist who most annoys other atheists -- hence the notorious atheist. I've seen him take a lot of flack over the years for his interest in Buddhism and most recently his support of gun ownership. At least over at Richard Dawkins site.

I can understand the exasperation of atheists reacting to religious people grasping at anything that smells of the supernatural and running with it until they are either caught or hit a wall, but that doesn't mean we should ignore the things themselves, nor attack those who don't as apriori nutjobs. I admire Harris a great deal, and his gun stance is totally to the side, and I think, totally reasonable.

A God who is concerned about some and indifferent to others is not worthy of being followed or admired. This God would be a monster, an unstable being, an unjust being. That is why I can trust the God of the bible. He says seek me and you shall find. He says come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. I don't know anyone who has not been weary. This is a God who is approachable! Not only approachable but loving.

He cares enough to forgive our wrongs. But He allows all to choose or deny Him. He forces no one to serve Him. This is a God I can serve. I could never serve an indifferent god. To verify belief merely through an experience of the supernatural is not evidence of truth. Thanks, I will read it. I find my s Catholic education as a child to be extremely lacking on such issues. Ahh ok. Where I live that is a very prevalent doctrine It flies in the face of Scripture, too.

If St. Paul wasn't completely assured of his salvation how in the world can we be? Seems kind of arrogant to assume one altar call at a young age would seal their soul to heaven. Where I live, with a Baptist Church with delusions of megachurch grandeur just down the street, it doesn't even take an altar call.

It takes praying the sinners prayer at a church-sponsored neighborhood picnic. Yep same thing here. Not so much a big-city-sized megachurch but pretty big for our predominately Baptist mid-sized city. There ya go. Top it off with a Hail Mary. Sam Harris doesn't deny that life altering experiences take place.

He is most certainly right. That these experiences can be had in no way justifies the enormous edifices of theology that surround them, or imply any thing supernatural at all. Depends on your definition of supernatural. By my definition, since we don't know everything yet, there are things still outside of natural explanation. The fact that we don't know everything yet, does not justify any belief in the supernatural. Supernatural events have simply not been demonstrated. Consider the following analogy.

We don't know everything about biology, we haven't got an accurate inventory of all the species in the world. This in no way justifies any belief that bigfoot exists, nor does it justify the mountains of ink that his been spilled describing, authoritatively, bigfoot biology by those who think bigfoot is a real creature. We are in the exact same situation when we consider the supernatural.

New evidence may come in that causes us to change our minds about that, but until then, the supernatural, like bigfoot, can be discarded as an explanation. Believers believe in the supernatural precisely because they are NOT asserting that they know everything- they are asserting that there is still mystery and wonder in the world. People once thought that way about the giant panda. Or a trillion other species. Just because you don't know about something does not mean it does not exist. However before we can sign on off something as existing in science, like say an Okapi, or a Giant Panda, and justify the expenditure of lots of effort and money, we actually have to have positive evidence that there is something to study.

Its why you don't get grant money to study bigfoot, and "nessie. Its why Venkman, et al were fired from their university. Saying there is mystery in the world is not the same thing as justifying a positive claim that there are supernatural things in the world.

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Catholic doctrine is not couched in many mysteries, it has very concrete specifics about alleged supernatural phenomena. This is true of most believers. Consider all the rules and specifics Christian sects have about fighting demons. You get money to study by a rich person being interested in the same field, and sometimes the rich person gives you the conclusion to search for data for. There is plenty of money being poured into the search for Bigfoot- loads of Cable TV channels have a market for that research, so I don't see why you think there is a shortage of funds in that area.

And I hate to inform you that Ghostbusters was fiction. A real university would have just insisted on publication twice a year. The reason Catholic doctrine has very specific allegations of certain phenomena is, gasp, those phenomena have been observed and documented, quite extensively. It isn't even decent amateur research. There is no bigfoot research, because the people who think there are bigfoots, tend to not be biologists, don't do research, There may be a market for bigfoot shows, but there isn't any real research being done on them.

As for the extensive documentation- there are whole libraries dedicated to theology. Go and educate yourself, as I don't have time to be your daddy. A good piece of evidence on this subject is the lack of dissent on anthropogenic global warming. It appears that editors of peer reviewed journals are not accepting articles from dissenters. There is no other way I can respond to this but to say it is the purest and most unadulterated BS.

Anyone that would say this is ignorant which is correctable by simply going to your local college or university library and thumbing through a few months worth of any scientific journal or being mendacious or blinded by the blinkers of ideology, or some combination of all three. Of what precisely? There is also extensive documentation to be found in the New Age section of the library. Copious reams of the stuff. There are also numerous tomes detailing the very specific biology of bigfoot.

Seriously just offer a couple of examples of some of these phenomena that have been extensively -gasp- documented. Talk about being "blinded by the blinkers of ideology"! At least the Catholic Church, when it finds a brilliant teenage girl, asks her to write down the "Story of Her Soul", and then after she dies at the age of 20, calls her a "doctor of the church". Or have you even bothered to look into the extensive history of the snookum that you call bigfoot?

No, of course you haven't. If it wasn't written by somebody with a degree, it isn't elite enough for you to bother with. How many people without college degrees submit papers? The answer? Not many. But when a paper is methodologically sound, degreed or not, it can be published. Several smaller Ornithology journals will publish amateur ornithologists quite often.

And it is amateur astronomers who discover most of the near earth objects astroids, comets. There are many non-degreed folk in that group. So there I have exploded one of your canards. Theology is the study of claims of supernatural events. There is no sound documentation of supernatural events. There is no documentation, no accurate reporting say of any of the events of the last day of the life of Jesus. There are stories, that are endlessly parsed. There isn't even what we would call sound history even by the standards of antiquity surrounding the "events" upon which Christian theology is based.

Actually my presumptuous friend, I have. In my post Catholic days I flirted for a few years with the New Age. I quite liked the ideas of Wiccans, and their tendency to like being outdoors. New Age ideas just aren't very convincing, and it was just a flirtation. And I have actually read quite a lot about bigfoot. All that has been written doesn't really impress me as a biologist. I was also quite skeptical of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker sighting a few years ago. It wasn't that I wasn't hopeful, but I just thought it unlikely. The initial reports were quite meticulous, but, I was waiting for replication.

It never happened. There is plenty of sound documentation of supernatural events, you just want to ignore them because you are prejudiced against supernatural events, just as the larger more elite journals are prejudiced against non-peers. Ornithology is a science, like much of macro biology, where diligent and conscientious observers degreed or not, can make useful contributions. Birders tend to be highly trained observers and are consistently integral to the gathering of large scale population data yearly, and advance the science of Ornithology and ecology yearly.

Astronomy can be done by anyone wiling to learn a bit about and who is willing to build or buy a decent telescope. Luckily for us, thousands of amateur astronomers from around the world turn their telescopes upward at the night sky and discover fresh new things for us all the time. There are sciences like molecular bio, medicine and advanced physics whose publications are dominated by degreed professionals, but so what.

To advance the boundary of knowledge in those fields requires not only detailed knowledge of the subjects, but also the use of multimillion dollar equipment. To get at that equipment requires years of training. No there isn't plenty of sound documentation of supernatural events. There just isn't. There are plenty of credulous reports of allegedly supernatural events though. There is a difference. I am not ignoring these reports I've read a large number in my time they are just the opposite of convincing.

But let me get a baseline here. Do you consider the resurrection of Jesus to be a well reported event? Theodore provided no answer. He just insists that there are answers and that you should go look for them. Also, that you are not open-minded because you don't agree with him AND that you are too stupid to understand.

He would be of the seed of Abraham, the son of Isaac, the son of Jacob, of the tribe of Judah, the family line of Jesse, the House of David, born in Bethlehem, born of a virgin, Kings of the east would bear him gifts, and the slaughtering of the children of Rachel by Herod who is not mentioned in the prophesy. The only one of these prophecies that the Jewish establishment who had him crucified disputed was his virgin birth. If the genealogy had not been fulfilled, the Jews would have known because genealogies were important and well kept and pointed it out.

He would be accused by false witnesses, silent before his accusers, smitten and spit upon and mocked, hands and feet pieced, crucified with thieves, suffer thirst, that he would make intercession for his persecutors, rejected by the Jews, hated without cause, his friends would stand at a distance watching his torment, and they would cast lots for his garments. Is deism really impossible to refute? It seems to me that all one need do is ask the question, "Why would self-sufficient, omnipotent, omniscient Being ever create anything at all? There is only one reason why complete self-sufficiency would create anything outside of Itself; It is also omni-benevolent, and created solely in order to share Itself with others.

Why would a hypothetical super-natural being do something? Is this an argument fully worth having? I mean this sincerely, and don't get me wrong, your question is echoed in my head too, but it doesn't seem to move from the category of 'interesting musings' to 'logical refutation. This is an interesting read in the vein of that question. I think it's an argument worth having if one is a Deist. I admit that if one is an atheist, then it wouldn't be worth much; there's not much point in talking about what God is like when one doesn't admit that there is a God.

Working from the premises of Deism, though, assuming that there does exist a First Cause of all that exists, who is omnipotent and omniscient, it logically follows that that Being is also omnibenevolent. Thanks for the article, which is indeed interesting. The character of "god" there appears to be a product of the universe, one being among many, who has evolved. I think Mormons believe something similar to that. For a Christian, such a being would be in the category "creature".

A being that is perfect cannot, by definition, have desires. A perfect being must also be changeless as any change would be to either increase or decrease perfection, thus be contradictory. There is no conceivable reason why a perfect changeless being would create anything. If such a being is perfectly rational which they must be, to be perfect , they must always act rationally. They are changeless so cannot act, they are perfect so they lack the desire to act.

There is no way such a being can create anything. A perfect being can act. Like dancers act and react to each other yet they can be perfect. If God was not a trinity but a unity and He did not contain within Himself an ability to act and react and love then this would be a problem. But once you have love then you will have the fruit of love. That fruit does not indicate that the love was deficient in any way. My argument is that any change would indicate a lack of perfection. We're not talking about acts like dancing, but the very nature of the being, hence your analogy is not applicable.

Your trinity is a unity, the trinity aspect being a semantic trick rather than an actual three Gods. It is possible that one who is perfect may desire on behalf of an other that is imperfect. Unchanging, perfect Being has no need of anything outside of Itself, yes; but what of the possibility of caring for another without any prospect of return? If God is perfect and self-contained, there can be no desire to go beyond that. So not only does your God have no desire to create, he cannot change to create.

We have already shown a perfect being can have no such desires. Perhaps you could clarify what you mean by saying God is "self-contained"? No, we haven't. We have only shown that perfect Being can have no such desires for Itself; it has not been shown that perfect Being can have no such desires for another. And I admit that I do believe in the mystery that God is Love. Is it that you think altruism is impossible? If so, then your assertion that a perfect being would never create anything is consistent. May I ask, whether or not you believe in God, do you believe in the existence of love?

Love is an emotion, not a being, love is something a being feels, it is not what a being is. Altruism needs a subject, and without a subject your objection is irrelevant. Thank you. I think I see where the disconnect is between us. As perfect Being, God is outside of any category, including the category of being. God is not one being among many, not even a super-duper being who exists along with us in the theater of the universe. God is, rather, the source and ground of all existence; anything that exists, exists because of and through God.

This also means that God is not limited by time. He is outside of it, and every moment of it is "the present" to Him. If time is a number line and moments are points on that line, then God is the infinite plane in which the number line lies; he touches every point on the number line at once, as well as all points outside of it. So, it is meaningless to talk about "a point in time where there is no other" as time only began when God created. I ask again that you demonstrate that perfect Being cannot desire something for another.

Briefly, love is not just a feeling, love is an action. To love is to will the good of the other as other, and to do so requires a subject and an object, a lover and a beloved. In Himself, God is subject, and object, and the love between them, and he created others solely so that they could be beloveds and lovers themselves. Altruism actually requires both a subject and an object. For the purposes of our discussion so far, God is the subject, His creation is the object.

You stated that God, being perfect, would have no reason to create anything outside of Himself. I suggested a reason, namely love. Changelessness cannot do anything because all acts are a change in the actor. How has God changed? There are only two explanations as to why anything exists at all. Either there is God, the First Cause, the Unmoved Mover, who set all things in motion; or there is an infinite regress of cause and effect, stretching in both directions, without meaning or purpose. And does it even make sense? I respond with my same response as before. I think you're setting up a false dichotomy.

Who gave God his meaning or purpose? If you reply that his meaning or purpose can be self-contained, then we can say exactly the same thing to a godless universe. Try this. First, think of any thing that exists: a tree, a human being, a carbon atom. Then ask yourself, did that thing create itself, or is it contingent, dependent, upon something else for its existence? Obviously, it is contingent; it did not choose to begin existing. It is contingent, moreover, on a great many things. In the case of a human being like you or I, our existence is contingent not just on our parents, but on a planet that can support life, the existence of matter to be made out of in the first place, the laws that govern the interactions of atoms, etc.

So now look at any of those things: did they create themselves? No, they are contingent as well. Keep following this chain of contingency back, and there are only two logical possibilities. From this entity comes anything that exists. This, at the most simple level, is what is meant by "God". The two possibilities I have stated are infinite regress or single source. Provide a viable third explanation of existence.

Understanding God as the uncreated source of existence, some simple logical deductions follow. Such a source comprehends all and contains all that flows from it, but is not all that flows from it. Such a source is unlimited and perfect. Now, to put something in a category is to limit it to say, "this is x" is at the same time to say, "this is not y or z". Therefore, God is not in any category, not even the category of being; God is not "a being" but rather Being; God just is. As for love, do you not see that it is the same as altruism? To love is to will the good of another without regard for self.

And your response remains answered, as I provided you with both subject and object. Again, He is by definition uncreated, perfect, unlimited, sufficient. If He were dependent upon anything else, then He would not be God, whatever He was dependent on would be. Meaning or purpose implies an end or goal. A Godless universe that is, a universe without one, uncreated source can only be an endless chain of causation, without beginning or end, and therefore without meaning.

This just completely fails to understand modern physics. If you run time backwards the universe gets very small and dense. At some point, called the Plank epoch, quantum effects have to come into play and tear space-time apart. Before that we don't know what happened. We don't even know if before makes sense. I would be obliged if you would restate the argument that you think I'm making, as I'm uncertain how you could arrive at the conclusion that it doesn't match our knowledge of the universe. To the best of our scientific knowledge, the universe space and time and everything began at a point This is in line with what I have suggested, that there is one source of all that exists it does cast the idea of an endless chain of causation in a doubtful light, however.

We may not know where quantum forces or matter came from, but surely you can see they must have come from somewhere, no? Suppose they came from some situation Z, which is hidden from our knowledge, and suppose situation Z came from situation Y, and so on; what I am saying is that either you arrive at a situation A which simply exists and did not come from anywhere itself, or there is no beginning at all.

Those are the two options. An endless chain of causation would be meaningless because "meaning" or "purpose" implies a goal or end, towards which things are or should be progressing. An eternal chain of causation, an endless series of reactions, has no possible end or goal, and is thus without any possible meaning. Please identify the logical flaw that you perceive.

If I use word games, then it should be simple for you to point out the particular semantics or logical fallacies in my statements. Please do so. We don't know what happened before the Planck Epoch. You assumption that "surely they must have come from These extrapolations usually don't work. Any claim about quantum theory staring "surely It doesn't need a beginning or an end.

Outside of time is meaningless because time is part of space. What is your theory of space-time which allows an outside? How well does it fit experimental data? We don't even know if there was time in any sensible way before then. Whether or not there was time before that, do you think it probable that time had a beginning? Not being an expert in particle physics for which I crave your indulgence if you happen to be one , I ask you to bear with me; does quantum theory show that something can come from nothing?

Otherwise, the principle that imperfect things or things in motion must have a cause is perfectly applicable. This is simple mathematics. Totally ordered sets don't have to have maxima or minima. What is "meaning", for example? Does it exist in space and time? What about "logic", which we are both supposedly using? More to the point, you appear to believe in something called "Truth", and you are trying to convince me that in regard to the subject at hand, you have it or are aligned with it, and that I in some measure don't or am not.

Of what material is Truth composed? How much does it weigh? What are its dimensions? Where is it? When is it?

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How does it react to alterations in space-time? What we are talking about is accessible to anyone, with or without attaining some high level of mathematics or physics. We are discussing "why", not "how". It raises serious questions about what "cause" means. There is no "cause" for particle decay that lets you predict when a given particle will decay. Causes only appear sensible at the particular scale of distance and energy we live at. Not at the fundamental level of reality. This is a question in cosmology not a "why". If there is no time during the Planck Epoch what does beginning mean?

Who cares what probability I assign to it? I'm not a cosmologist and I don't pretend to be one. My opinion on a question like that is worthless. As is yours unless you are qualified. How do you define the "fundamental level of reality"? Do you mean, very very very small particles, the smallest that we are aware of? Are the laws of nature suspended when things get small enough? However small you go, there's always the question of where they came from in the first place or the laws, for that matter.

Heads, last time I looked, are inside space and time. What keeps them from spilling out? How big are ideas, anyway? How many ideas can fit in a head? The best of our knowledge suggests that the universe began I'm asking why it began, rather than just not beginning. My understanding is that the Planck Epoch is the first instant of time, the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang. However, what I'm asking is: why is there something rather than nothing? This is a question that you or I or a cosmologist, or a street sweeper, or a lawyer, or a greengrocer can grasp and entertain without any special training.

I'm going to need you to explain this some more. Oh yeah It is no longer possible to count the number of public establishments that are open to Negroes. Ten years ago, Negroes seemed almost invisible to the larger society, and the facts of their harsh lives were unknown to the majority of the nation. But today, civil rights is a dominating issue in every state, crowding the pages of the press and the daily conversation of white Americans.

In this decade of change, the Negro stood up and confronted his oppressor. He faced the bullies and the guns, and the dogs and the tear gas. He put himself squarely before the vicious mobs and moved with strength and dignity toward them and decisively defeated them. Yes And the courage with which he confronted enraged mobs dissolved the stereotype of the grinning, submissive Uncle Tom. Yes He came out of his struggle integrated only slightly in the external society, but powerfully integrated within.

This was a victory that had to precede all other gains. In short, over the last ten years the Negro decided to straighten his back up Yes , realizing that a man cannot ride your back unless it is bent. We made an indifferent and unconcerned nation rise from lethargy and subpoenaed its conscience to appear before the judgment seat of morality on the whole question of civil rights.

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We gained manhood in the nation that had always called us "boy. For this, we can feel a legitimate pride. But in spite of a decade of significant progress, the problem is far from solved. The deep rumbling of discontent in our cities is indicative of the fact that the plant of freedom has grown only a bud and not yet a flower. And before discussing the awesome responsibilities that we face in the days ahead, let us take an inventory of our programmatic action and activities over the past year.

Last year as we met in Jackson, Mississippi, we were painfully aware of the struggle of our brothers in Grenada, Mississippi. After living for a hundred or more years under the yoke of total segregation, the Negro citizens of this northern Delta hamlet banded together in nonviolent warfare against racial discrimination under the leadership of our affiliate chapter and organization there. The fact of this non-destructive rebellion was as spectacular as were its results. Stores which denied employment were boycotted; voter registration increased by thousands. We can never forget the courageous action of the people of Grenada who moved our nation and its federal courts to powerful action in behalf of school integration, giving Grenada one of the most integrated school systems in America.

The battle is far from over, but the black people of Grenada have achieved forty of fifty-three demands through their persistent nonviolent efforts. Slowly but surely, our southern affiliates continued their building and organizing. Seventy-nine counties conducted voter registration drives, while double that number carried on political education and get-out-the-vote efforts. In spite of press opinions, our staff is still overwhelmingly a southern-based staff.

One hundred and five persons have worked across the South under the direction of Hosea Williams. What used to be primarily a voter registration staff is actually a multifaceted program dealing with the total life of the community, from farm cooperatives, business development, tutorials, credit unions, etcetera.

Especially to be commended are those ninety-nine communities and their staffs which maintain regular mass meetings throughout the year. Our Citizenship Education Program continues to lay the solid foundation of adult education and community organization upon which all social change must ultimately rest. This year, five hundred local leaders received training at Dorchester and ten community centers through our Citizenship Education Program.

They were trained in literacy, consumer education, planned parenthood, and many other things. And this program, so ably directed by Mrs. Dorothy Cotton, Mrs. Septima Clark, and their staff of eight persons, continues to cover ten southern states. Our auxiliary feature of C. With the competent professional guidance of our marvelous staff member, Miss Mew Soong-Li, Lowndes and Wilcox counties in Alabama have pioneered in developing outstanding poverty programs totally controlled and operated by residents of the area.

Perhaps the area of greatest concentration of my efforts has been in the cities of Chicago and Cleveland. Chicago has been a wonderful proving ground for our work in the North. There have been no earth-shaking victories, but neither has there been failure. Our open housing marches, which finally brought about an agreement which actually calls the power structure of Chicago to capitulate to the civil rights movement, these marches and the agreement have finally begun to pay off.


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After the season of delay around election periods, the Leadership Conference, organized to meet our demands for an open city, has finally begun to implement the programs agreed to last summer. But this is not the most important aspect of our work. As a result of our tenant union organizing, we have begun a four million dollar rehabilitation project, which will renovate deteriorating buildings and allow their tenants the opportunity to own their own homes. This pilot project was the inspiration for the new home ownership bill, which Senator Percy introduced in Congress only recently.

The most dramatic success in Chicago has been Operation Breadbasket. Through Operation Breadbasket we have now achieved for the Negro community of Chicago more than twenty-two hundred new jobs with an income of approximately eighteen million dollars a year, new income to the Negro community. The two banks in Chicago that were interested in helping Negro businessmen were largely unable to loan much because of limited assets. Hi-Lo, one of the chain stores in Chicago, agreed to maintain substantial accounts in the two banks, thus increasing their ability to serve the needs of the Negro community.

And I can say to you today that as a result of Operation Breadbasket in Chicago, both of these Negro-operated banks have now more than double their assets, and this has been done in less than a year by the work of Operation Breadbasket. In addition, the ministers learned that Negro scavengers had been deprived of significant accounts in the ghetto. Whites controlled even the garbage of Negroes. Consequently, the chain stores agreed to contract with Negro scavengers to service at least the stores in Negro areas.

Negro insect and rodent exterminators, as well as janitorial services, were likewise excluded from major contracts with chain stores. The chain stores also agreed to utilize these services. It also became apparent that chain stores advertised only rarely in Negro-owned community newspapers. This area of neglect was also negotiated, giving community newspapers regular, substantial accounts. And finally, the ministers found that Negro contractors, from painters to masons, from electricians to excavators, had also been forced to remain small by the monopolies of white contractors.

Breadbasket negotiated agreements on new construction and rehabilitation work for the chain stores. These several interrelated aspects of economic development, all based on the power of organized consumers, hold great possibilities for dealing with the problems of Negroes in other northern cities. The kinds of requests made by Breadbasket in Chicago can be made not only of chain stores, but of almost any major industry in any city in the country. And so Operation Breadbasket has a very simple program, but a powerful one. It simply says, "If you respect my dollar, you must respect my person.

In Cleveland, Ohio, a group of ministers have formed an Operation Breadbasket through our program there and have moved against a major dairy company. Their requests include jobs, advertising in Negro newspapers, and depositing funds in Negro financial institutions. This effort resulted in something marvelous. I went to Cleveland just last week to sign the agreement with Sealtest.

We went to get the facts about their employment; we discovered that they had employees and only forty-three were Negroes, yet the Negro population of Cleveland is thirty-five percent of the total population. They refused to give us all of the information that we requested, and we said in substance, "Mr. Sealtest, we're sorry. We aren't going to burn your store down. We aren't going to throw any bricks in the window. But we are going to put picket signs around and we are going to put leaflets out and we are going to our pulpits and tell them not to sell Sealtest products, and not to purchase Sealtest products.

We did that. We went through the churches. Reverend Dr. Hoover, who pastors the largest church in Cleveland, who's here today, and all of the ministers got together and got behind this program.

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We went to every store in the ghetto and said, "You must take Sealtest products off of your counters. If not, we're going to boycott your whole store. Brown, what would you advise us to do. The next day [ applause ], the next day the Sealtest people were talking nice [ laughter ], they were very humble. And I am proud to say that I went to Cleveland just last Tuesday, and I sat down with the Sealtest people and some seventy ministers from Cleveland, and we signed the agreement.

This effort resulted in a number of jobs, which will bring almost five hundred thousand dollars of new income to the Negro community a year. And you are always telling us to lift ourselves by our own bootstraps, and yet we are being robbed every day. Put something back in the ghetto. This is the power of Operation Breadbasket. In Atlanta, Georgia, Breadbasket has been equally successful in the South.

Here the emphasis has been divided between governmental employment and private industry. And while I do not have time to go into the details, I want to commend the men who have been working with it here: the Reverend Bennett, the Reverend Joe Boone, the Reverend J. Ward, Reverend Dorsey, Reverend Greer, and I could go on down the line, and they have stood up along with all of the other ministers. But here is the story that's not printed in the newspapers in Atlanta: as a result of Operation Breadbasket, over the last three years, we have added about twenty-five million dollars of new income to the Negro community every year.

Now as you know, Operation Breadbasket has now gone national in the sense that we had a national conference in Chicago and agreed to launch a nationwide program, which you will hear more about. Finally, SCLC has entered the field of housing. Under the leadership of attorney James Robinson, we have already contracted to build units of low-income housing with apartments for the elderly on a choice downtown Atlanta site under the sponsorship of Ebenezer Baptist Church.

This is the first project [ applause ], this is the first project of a proposed southwide Housing Development Corporation which we hope to develop in conjunction with SCLC, and through this corporation we hope to build housing from Mississippi to North Carolina using Negro workmen, Negro architects, Negro attorneys, and Negro financial institutions throughout.

And it is our feeling that in the next two or three years, we can build right here in the South forty million dollars worth of new housing for Negroes, and with millions and millions of dollars in income coming to the Negro community. Now there are many other things that I could tell you, but time is passing. This, in short, is an account of SCLC's work over the last year. It is a record of which we can all be proud. With all the struggle and all the achievements, we must face the fact, however, that the Negro still lives in the basement of the Great Society.

He is still at the bottom, despite the few who have penetrated to slightly higher levels. Even where the door has been forced partially open, mobility for the Negro is still sharply restricted. There is often no bottom at which to start, and when there is there's almost no room at the top. In consequence, Negroes are still impoverished aliens in an affluent society.

They are too poor even to rise with the society, too impoverished by the ages to be able to ascend by using their own resources. And the Negro did not do this himself; it was done to him. For more than half of his American history, he was enslaved. Yet, he built the spanning bridges and the grand mansions, the sturdy docks and stout factories of the South. His unpaid labor made cotton "King" and established America as a significant nation in international commerce. Even after his release from chattel slavery, the nation grew over him, submerging him.

It became the richest, most powerful society in the history of man, but it left the Negro far behind. And so we still have a long, long way to go before we reach the promised land of freedom. Yes, we have left the dusty soils of Egypt, and we have crossed a Red Sea that had for years been hardened by a long and piercing winter of massive resistance, but before we reach the majestic shores of the promised land, there will still be gigantic mountains of opposition ahead and prodigious hilltops of injustice.

Yes, we need a chart; we need a compass; indeed, we need some North Star to guide us into a future shrouded with impenetrable uncertainties. Now, in order to answer the question, "Where do we go from here? When the Constitution was written, a strange formula to determine taxes and representation declared that the Negro was sixty percent of a person. Today another curious formula seems to declare he is fifty percent of a person.

Of the good things in life, the Negro has approximately one half those of whites. Of the bad things of life, he has twice those of whites. The preconditions are present in the U. The 45th president has visibly aged over the past four years. Fortunately for him, he did not need to campaign hard for reelection. His has been a popular presidency: Big tax cuts, big spending, and big deficits have worked their familiar expansive magic.

Wages have grown strongly in the Trump years, especially for men without a college degree, even if rising inflation is beginning to bite into the gains. Listen to the audio version of this article: Download the Audm app for your iPhone to listen to more titles. A Senate investigation of Russian hacking during the presidential campaign sputtered into inconclusive partisan wrangling.

Allegations of fraud and self-dealing in the TrumpWorks program, and elsewhere, have likewise been shrugged off. Voters seem to have believed him—and are grateful. Most Americans intuit that their president and his relatives have become vastly wealthier over the past four years. But rumors of graft are easy to dismiss.

Because Trump has never released his tax returns, no one really knows. On the eve of the congressional elections, WikiLeaks released years of investment statements by prominent congressional Democrats indicating that they had long earned above-market returns. As the air filled with allegations of insider trading and crony capitalism, the public subsided into weary cynicism. The Republicans held both houses of Congress that November, and Trump loyalists shouldered aside the pre-Trump leadership. The business community learned its lesson early.

The media have grown noticeably more friendly to Trump as well. Meanwhile, social media circulate ever-wilder rumors. Rather than deal with digital thugs, young people increasingly drift to less political media like Snapchat and Instagram. Trump-critical media do continue to find elite audiences. Their investigations still win Pulitzer Prizes; their reporters accept invitations to anxious conferences about corruption, digital-journalism standards, the end of nato , and the rise of populist authoritarianism. Yet somehow all of this earnest effort feels less and less relevant to American politics.

President Trump communicates with the people directly via his Twitter account, ushering his supporters toward favorable information at Fox News or Breitbart. Despite the hand-wringing, the country has in many ways changed much less than some feared or hoped four years ago. The predicted wave of mass deportations of illegal immigrants never materialized. A large illegal workforce remains in the country, with the tacit understanding that so long as these immigrants avoid politics, keeping their heads down and their mouths shut, nobody will look very hard for them.

African Americans, young people, and the recently naturalized encounter increasing difficulties casting a vote in most states. But for all the talk of the rollback of rights, corporate America still seeks diversity in employment. Same-sex marriage remains the law of the land. When has politics not been a dirty business? When have the rich and powerful not mostly gotten their way? The smart thing to do is tune out the political yammer, mind your own business, enjoy a relatively prosperous time, and leave the questions to the troublemakers.

Checks and balances is a metaphor, not a mechanism. Everything imagined above—and everything described below—is possible only if many people other than Donald Trump agree to permit it. It can all be stopped, if individual citizens and public officials make the right choices. Other paths remain open. It is up to Americans to decide which one the country will follow. No society, not even one as rich and fortunate as the United States has been, is guaranteed a successful future. They lived in a world in which authoritarian rule was the norm, in which rulers habitually claimed the powers and assets of the state as their own personal property.

The exercise of political power is different today than it was then—but perhaps not so different as we might imagine. Within many of the remaining democracies, the quality of governance has deteriorated. What has happened in Hungary since offers an example—and a blueprint for would-be strongmen.

It has elections and uncensored internet. Yet Hungary is ceasing to be a free country. The transition has been nonviolent, often not even very dramatic. Opponents of the regime are not murdered or imprisoned, although many are harassed with building inspections and tax audits. If they work for the government, or for a company susceptible to government pressure, they risk their jobs by speaking out.

Nonetheless, they are free to emigrate anytime they like. Those with money can even take it with them. Day in and day out, the regime works more through inducements than through intimidation. Friends of the government win state contracts at high prices and borrow on easy terms from the central bank. Those on the inside grow rich by favoritism; those on the outside suffer from the general deterioration of the economy. These remain open and more or less free—at least in the sense that ballots are counted accurately. Yet they are not quite fair. Electoral rules favor incumbent power-holders in ways both obvious and subtle.

Independent media lose advertising under government pressure; government allies own more and more media outlets each year. The government sustains support even in the face of bad news by artfully generating an endless sequence of controversies that leave culturally conservative Hungarians feeling misunderstood and victimized by liberals, foreigners, and Jews.

Outside the Islamic world, the 21st century is not an era of ideology. The grand utopian visions of the 19th century have passed out of fashion. The nightmare totalitarian projects of the 20th have been overthrown or have disintegrated, leaving behind only outdated remnants: North Korea, Cuba. What is spreading today is repressive kleptocracy, led by rulers motivated by greed rather than by the deranged idealism of Hitler or Stalin or Mao. Such rulers rely less on terror and more on rule-twisting, the manipulation of information, and the co-optation of elites.

The United States is of course a very robust democracy. Yet no human contrivance is tamper-proof, a constitutional democracy least of all. Some features of the American system hugely inhibit the abuse of office: the separation of powers within the federal government; the division of responsibilities between the federal government and the states. Federal agencies pride themselves on their independence; the court system is huge, complex, and resistant to improper influence.

Yet the American system is also perforated by vulnerabilities no less dangerous for being so familiar. Supreme among those vulnerabilities is reliance on the personal qualities of the man or woman who wields the awesome powers of the presidency. A British prime minister can lose power in minutes if he or she forfeits the confidence of the majority in Parliament. The president of the United States, on the other hand, is restrained first and foremost by his own ethics and public spirit. What happens if somebody comes to the high office lacking those qualities?

Donald Trump, however, represents something much more radical. A president who plausibly owes his office at least in part to a clandestine intervention by a hostile foreign intelligence service? Who uses the bully pulpit to target individual critics? Who creates blind trusts that are not blind, invites his children to commingle private and public business, and somehow gets the unhappy members of his own political party either to endorse his choices or shrug them off?

Congress can subpoena records, question officials, and even impeach them. Congress can protect the American system from an overbearing president. As politics has become polarized, Congress has increasingly become a check only on presidents of the opposite party. Recent presidents enjoying a same-party majority in Congress—Barack Obama in and , George W. Bush from through —usually got their way.

And congressional oversight might well be performed even less diligently during the Trump administration. The first reason to fear weak diligence is the oddly inverse relationship between President Trump and the congressional Republicans. This time, it will be Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, doing the advancing—and consequently the overlooking. He can—and would—break faith with them in an instant to further his own interests.

Yet here they are, on the verge of achieving everything they have hoped to achieve for years, if not decades. The greatest risk to all their projects and plans is the very same X factor that gave them their opportunity: Donald Trump, and his famously erratic personality. What excites Trump is his approval rating, his wealth, his power. Who doubts Trump would do it? Not Paul Ryan. Not Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. For the first time since the administration of John Tyler in the s, a majority in Congress must worry about their president defecting from them rather than the other way around.

A scandal involving the president could likewise wreck everything that Republican congressional leaders have waited years to accomplish. However deftly they manage everything else, they cannot prevent such a scandal. But there is one thing they can do: their utmost not to find out about it. Ryan has learned his prudence the hard way. Once unassailable in the party, he suddenly found himself disliked by 45 percent of Republicans.

The Senate historically has offered more scope to dissenters than the House. Yet even that institution will find itself under pressure. Ambition will counteract ambition only until ambition discovers that conformity serves its goals better. Discipline within the congressional ranks will be strictly enforced not only by the party leadership and party donors, but also by the overwhelming influence of Fox News.

In both cases, the early indicators seemed to favor the women.

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Yet in the end it was the men who won, Hannity even more decisively than Trump. Kelly landed on her feet, of course, but Fox learned its lesson: Trump sells; critical coverage does not. From the point of view of the typical Republican member of Congress, Fox remains all-powerful: the single most important source of visibility and affirmation with the voters whom a Republican politician cares about. He was drowned out by booing, and the following year, he lost his primary with only 29 percent of the vote, a crushing repudiation for an incumbent untouched by any scandal.