by Larry Perrault on April 26, 2011 at 3:26 PM
I am long overdue in pointing out this web site http://prageru.com/. I still hope this week, to post what would be called a radical proposal for repairing the deep trouble that America finds itself in, today. I don’t really think it’s outrageous to restore the kind of value and structure on which our constitutional republic was founded. But it certainly is radical in the sense that standard thinking today is so far removed from that that no one in or potentially in office even muses on such an idea beyond vague citations of the need to respect the 10th Amendment. And only a very tiny minority of Americans even entertain such an idea. Since we live in a democratic republic, we should understand and work to uphold its highest and clearest values. But, those values are to promote the liberty to produce and enjoy the finer things in life and frankly, through its travails and failures, America has managed to do that better than any nation in history. But, I think what I will propose can provide a way out of our moral and fiscal dilemma (these are really not distinct; the roots of our fiscal problems are moral) and also to a large extent free us from the political combat that occupies so much of the energy of those who engage the democratic system. We are dealing with different worldviews: the argument is pointless and we should be rid of it and carry on with bettering our lives.
But, Dennis Prager has for some time now been compiling Prager University. As a conservative, he poses these ideas to counteract and correct the standard secular liberal dogma that largely pervades American universities. Each presentation is in the range of 5 minutes, and Prager’s regular appeal is, “Give us 5 minutes and we’ll give you a semester.” Now obviously in a semester of college, you are going to take in a lot more data than you can in 5 minutes. But in engaging life, 5 minutes of worthy reflection is worth more than volumes of falsehood. It’s good to know the falsehood present in both the history of thought and contemporary academia and culture. But it is not good as a substitute for truth that should be the context in which ideas are evaluated. And Prager’s presentations are indeed worthy of consideration. His is my favorite conservative talk-radio program. Not to diminish what others do to bring ideas and news to bear on liberal falsehoods, but I can’t imagine others doing something like this.
Prager is Jewish and in the few places I differ with him, it is usually rooted in my perspective as a Christian. But his perspective is an important element of mine, similar to how Judaism is an essential element of Christianity. These ideas are not all what many would call “political.” But, the perspective that they represent certainly suggests an approach to political questions. Prager often describes his program as being “about everything in life.” Here is a list of the topics of his 5-minute videos, which can be found by clicking “Courses” at the web site above. But, I found them to be less interrupted by buffering on YouTube, where they also are. If there are delays, just click on the YouTube insignia at the bottom right of the video. I’ll add my own comments to the title of each video.
The American Trinity – Here Prager has aptly summarized the few basic values at the root of the American ideal.
Men and the Power of the Visual – Prager has an hour every week on the relative nature of males and females and their relationship to each other. This discussion is about the unique capacity of visual stimulation in men.
God, Part 1: What would make you believe? – Prager discusses a point I have long been certain of: As with so many great human questions, the presumption that the observable facts determine our beliefs is a pretense. He explains that in fact there is no possible eventuality that would force a change in the minds of people who disbelieve in God who have established a disposition otherwise.
Happiness is a Moral Obligation – Another of 3 Weekly hours on his radio Program is The Happiness Hour. He says that happy people make the world better and unhappy people make it worse.This video discusses his axiom that happiness is a moral obligation.
The Most important verse in the Bible – For Prager, this is Genesis 1:1: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He is correct that one’s position on this frames every other question and that other verses are meaningless or ridiculous without this assumption. But as a Christian, the most important verse is John 1:1: In the beginning was The Word. There were two ultimate implications of this phrase. One, at the time and in the world in which John wrote, Greek ideas were the developmental backdrop of formal thinking; and in fact he wrote in dialect of the Greek language. “The Word” referred to the ultimate in truth and beauty, which was the objective the Greek philosophers had pursued. John, whose gospel is more explicative than the narrative/historical synoptics, is saying that “The Word” was the context that preceded creation. And at the same time as he says shortly thereafter, Jesus is the human expression of that truth and beauty. John 1:14: 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Human Nature - Are We Basically Good? – Prager explains how it is obvious that we aren’t born good. He says we aren’t born bad, either but instinctively Narcissistic. Christianity of course, sees Narcissism (selfishness and pride) as the foundation of being bad.
Key to Happiness and Goodness – He explains that you can’t be happy and good if you are not grateful, which promotes them both.
Actions Matter (Not Thoughts) – Another of his themes is that especially in terms of social health, he is interested in a person’s actions, not their possibly passing feelings, and jdges them accordingly.
The Bigger the Government, The Smaller The Citizen – This is another maxim of his program and speeches. People are personally diminished as they offload their responsibilities to the state.
The Missing Tile Syndrome – We naturally direct our attention to the characteristic or quality that we see as missing in things or people.
The Case for Marriage – Prager believes, rightly obviously, that an objectively established commitment improves both people individually and society as a whole.
Everyday Ethics: Consumer Rights... and Wrongs – Conducting commerce in a civil society involves accepting and applying some ethical assumptions.
Are You a Liberal? – Prager thinks that people who have been convinced that liberalism is magnanimous while conservatism is selfish and narrow-minded, often claim to be liberal when in fact they don’t accept many liberal policy positions.
The Middle East Problem – We may tend to believe false ideas about the cause and complexity of Middle East problems. But, Prager says the matter is relatively simple.