Monkeys with Microwaves: How the Presidential Campaign Reveals why the Renaissance was Superior to Moderninity

It is popular to think that we, as ‘modern’ people, are superior to the people of the past.  Sadly, this reveals one of the many lies we tell ourselves.  We look at our technology and we tell ourselves it represents ‘progress.’  But is it ‘progress’ when we give microwave ovens to monkeys?  No!  A monkey with a microwave is just an un-thinking beast with a piece of technology — nothing more.  Well, watching the debate last night and then reading the reactions to it in the media, I am forced to conclude that this is what we have become: monkeys with microwaves.  Why do I say that?  Because of stories like this one:

Frank Luntz Asks Focus Group Who Won the Debate — Members Overwhelmingly Select One Candidate

So, if I accept the ‘popular’ wisdom, Rubio won the debate.  But why?  Mostly because he won the insult war: he had a lot of great ‘zingers.’  But where is the substance in ‘zingers?’  Yes, they can be funny, and definitely gratifying when the object of the attack is some one with whom we disagree.  But where is the intellect in insult?  The truth is, Rubio engaged in something akin to an adult version of playground warfare.  He didn’t prove or demonstrate anything factual.  He just threw insult, and in the language of reason, it is a mistake.  It is called the fallacy of ad hominem, or against the man (i.e. a personal attack).  Now, don’t get me wrong: I understand this has and will always be part of human nature.  However, there was a time when it would not have held as much sway with people as it does today.  The Renaissance is one example of such a time, and I would argue that it was because the people of that time were more intellectually advanced than we are today.

The Renaissance was a time for thinking people.  Yes!  People were still swayed by emotional appeals, but there was also a general mood of reason guiding the people.  They worked at learning how to think and to use that rational ability to harness their emotions.  It is one of the primary reasons our founders were able to create a document as unique as the U.S. Constitution: because they allowed reason to temper and govern their emotional desires.  But where is the evidence that we still do this today?

If this nation still valued reason, then Cruz won the debate last night.  Where Rubio made the better un-supported attacks, Cruz used reason to maneuver Trump into demonstrating he, Trump, is a pathological liar.  Did anyone notice how skillfully Cruz trapped Trump into saying he never said he would have the government pay for all healthcare?  Cruz also nailed Trump on his lies about not being able to release his tax records because he is being audited.  These are just just two of several examples of Cruz getting Trump to say things during the debate that could be held up against video evidence later to show that Trump lies as a matter of habit.  Yet, for some reason, people saw Rubio the insulter as the winner over Cruz the demonstrator.  They chose emotion over reason, and that is not progress, it is a step or two backward.

Now, before you think I am defending Cruz, don’t.  Honestly, this is not a political discussion.  I just chose the debate as an illustration so I could get your attention.  What I really want to discuss is the role of the mind (reason) in training the heart (emotion).  Christians should pay especially close attention to this next point, because we tend to get Scripture very wrong on this issue.  The heart is a term we use to describe our inner, true self: the things we really feel and believe.  It is emotional.  It does not think.  It just feels…and wants.  So the heart must be trained, disciplined — and that requires the mind!

Those who actually read Scripture, especially those who study the original Hebrew and the Hebrew culture will know that the Scriptures speak of the need to use our minds to train our hearts.  Scripture teaches that discipline is a crucial part of our faith.  The heart does not naturally love our enemies, or give to others — especially people outside our families.  These things must be learned through discipline, and discipline requires sound reason so we can determine what things are best for us and what things will eventually harm us.  Our founders were children of the Renaissance, and if we read their personal writings, we will see this understanding in their words.  They knew and understood the role of the mind in teaching the heart what it should want and what it should not.  But this is because the Renaissance was just a period of re-claiming what had been lost in the Dark Ages.  If we look back in time, we will find that this understanding was taught first in Scripture:

Matthew 22:37

37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

Luke 10:27

27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

These passages are just from the New Testament, but they are directly from Christ.  Go back farther and you will find this principle where the mind is to train the soul all through the Old Testament, as well.  But we ‘modern’ people have not only rejected the wisdom of the Renaissance (as our founders understood the concept), but we have also turned our back on the Wisdom of God.  So, today, we think it is more ‘enlightened’ to chase after emotional appeal rather than reasoned consideration.  Well, Scripture speaks to this, as well:

Isaiah 5:20-21

20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who [a]substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who [b]substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight!

BTW: you might want to read Isaiah 5 in its entirety.  It speaks directly against a nation that is like we have become: where we hold up corruption and wickedness as the ideal and scorn those who seek to live morally according to God’s Laws.  It promises destruction to such nations.  But I guess we’re OK.  It doesn’t apply to people as ‘modern’ as us.  I mean, really, just look at the miracles we call technology.  See how powerful we are?  How wealthy we have made ourselves?  How could anything bad happen to us? (Christian, if you do not hear the Lord’s warning trumpeting in your head as you read those last words, you have strayed much too far from His Word and Grace).


21 thoughts on “Monkeys with Microwaves: How the Presidential Campaign Reveals why the Renaissance was Superior to Moderninity

  1. Great post as always Joe!

    Cruz isn’t what the establishment RINOS want. He is the opposite. Rubio now (appears) to be “their guy” since Jeb dropped out. It is very telling that you recognized that Rubio chose to fire back at Trump during last night’s debate with some of “Trump’s own (bad!) medicine” while Cruz “used reason to maneuver Trump into demonstrating he, Trump, is a pathological liar.”

    The question remains, how many people noticed this?

    My latest post shares two essays that reveal what snake oil Trump is selling and how commie Sanders or Killary would also be disasters if (God forbid!) either one of them get into the presidency.

    Unfortunately, perhaps the majority of people of our nation STILL haven’t learned the hard lessons of the horribleness of the past 7+ years with 0zero.

    1. christinewjc,

      Thanks, and now to appear to be an ungrateful sod. You should not suggest or give a nod to reason over insult then, in the next paragraph, say words such as these:

      “…snake oil Trump is selling and how commie Sanders or Killary would …”

      It sort of puts you in the same lot as the snake oil salesman 🙂

      1. Well…I could say that other Christians have made the statement that Trump resembles a “snake oil salesman.” I could share that Sanders doesn’t even try to hide the fact that he is a socialist (which is the step before communist) who wants to tax people at 90% of their income and other devastating policies that have hurt various nations around the world. I could share that Hillary, as Secretary of State when the Benghazi attacks happened, was responsible (at least partly) for the deaths of four Americans.

        But I guess I shouldn’t…;-)

  2. “The Renaissance was better than Modernity”.
    One of the re-eminent Historians of the Renaissance agreed with you ! Great minds and all that. Johan Huizinga…. The Autum of the Middle Ages :

    1. Thanks. I’ll add it to my studies, as I have been studying history in relation to the effect Jihad has had on the Western world. We have been taught a great deal that I now suspect is very, very wrong!

      1. Jihad since 630 AD you mean right ? The should read PREeminent in my comment.

        Yes….Very very wrong to say the least.

        1. Well, at least since it left Arabia sometime around 650 AD, yes. I have come to accept that it was the Jihad that caused the fall of Rome and the Dark Ages, and the Renaissance was only made possible AFTER the Crusades beat the Muslims back enough that they lost strength. But the Jihad has never stopped. Once you see the pattern, you see it has been continual since Muhammad died.

          So, yes, we have been taught lies — and much of it because we have lied to ourselves!

  3. Yes. muhammed waged Jihad against his own people ( Arabs) and Christians and Jews in his area. Then I guess that was “institutionalized” with islam and became its raison d’etre. as well as its major export… ;-).

    In a way I suppose we could also say that the counter Jihad that was the Crusades paved the way by stopping islam’s forward momentum which allowed the Renaissance to brew and flourish.

  4. “Region against region, sect against sect, political dysfunction all around, no possibility of unified action, western action to drive division. A war of all against all in the Moslem Middle East. As it was 1000 years ago, this is the reality of today’s Middle East, with events drastically escalating post 911.”

    An excerpt from an article by a post on Contra Corner. Leads into the age old efforts of the west to keep Islam from ever consolidating. Looks like a good area of study if you are looking for a reason for our actions in the ME.

    1. When you trace the lineage of the people who primarily make up Islam in the Middle East, you will also run smack into a few Bible verses about these modern day descendants:

      He will be a wild donkey of a man, always against his neighbor.

      They will raise their hand against their neighbor, brother against brother.

      They will trace their lineage by the seed of man and they will not cleave to each other.

      ALL speak of the same people: descendants of Ishmael.

        1. I deleted it. Not because I changed my mind, but because I decided it was not going to make anything of a meaningful contribution to the discussion. People are going to do what they are going to do and I sure ain’t no one to change that — and lately, I’ve come to the point where I don’t want to be. I have enough trouble with Joe…

          1. Joe’s Fine !

            This secret Meeting off the Coast of Georgia ( Sea Island)…..of the GOP and Business elite and Liberal Press should be compared to the Jeckel Island meeting after the turn of the Century which brought about the Progressive push that gave us The Fed, the Income Tax and the 17th Amendment would be an excellent topic for a post !!!

            1. ty :*)

              Yes, it would, but unfortunately, I have yet to read the Creature from Jeckel Island. If you would be interested in writing said post, I’d be proud to post it as a guest contributor.

              You know my direct email 😉

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