Before the NAP

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As I have stated before I grew up a conservative. This meant that I was pro-war, even when I was not entirely sure what the war was about. It didn’t seem to matter much, what mattered was “supporting the troops” and “being proud of my country.” Now, I’m not going to bash troops or be some kind of pinko commie, so cool your jets.

Some of my earliest memories of war was watching the CNN coverage of the first Gulf War. We watched endless coverage of green tinted night vision video of missiles being launched and things blowing up. We tied yellow ribbons around our trees and the antenna of the family minivan. We were proud of our soldiers and proud that our nation was at war.

As I got older, America always seemed at war, and with the exception of some of our involvement in Bosnia (that was a Clinton war) we always seemed to support it. When I watched the towers fall in 11th grade I felt the same desire to invade somewhere and take revenge as everyone else did that day. My college days were spent writing letters to the editor in support of invading this country or that and making bumper stickers that said “War for Oil? Who Doesn’t Want Cheap Gas?”

The only war I might have been opposed to was the Vietnam War, and that was only because my favorite singers were hippies. It’s hard not to sympathize with really good musicians. (Though shockingly I never became a pinko commie like them.)

Those are some embarrassing years for me.

I’m not entirely sure when I was introduced to the Non-Aggression Principle or NAP. It may have been a gradual change, it may have been after listening to one or two Tom Woods podcasts. I honestly don’t remember. All I know is that now I am totally on board with the NAP and because of that I don’t support offensive or pre-emptive wars anymore.

But it isn’t just aggressive war that I oppose, it’s all forms of aggression.

State aggression takes its form as taxation, the prosecution of victimless “crimes”, compulsory public education, business regulations, inflationary practices, et al.

Social aggression can be as subtle as racism, sexism, or other forms of bigotry. It can also be as obvious as rape or abortion.

The NAP even extends into my personal life and how I relate to all people, including my own children. I have learned to see people in a new light, much of the “Us v Them” attitude has gone out of my life. I no longer see people as one group or another, but as individuals deserving of at least my respect as humans. Even growing up I believed all human life had value, because every person is made in the image of God, but it seems I never had any problems with bombing them into oblivion. Now I see every person as a neighbor and potential economic ally.

Is the NAP biblical? Isn’t Anarchy just chaos? Doesn’t Romans 13 say we should have a government? Who would build muh roads? All of these questions and more I hope to answer over time.

There is a meme out there that says something along the lines of “I became a libertarian when I was introduced to the NAP, I became an anarchist when I realized there are no exceptions.” This is pretty much true for me.

In my next post I’ll explain the NAP and what it means to me.

My Brain

Before we go too much further, it may be helpful to describe my brain.

Most people think linearly, like so:

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These people are Power Point.

My brain however is like this:

my-brain

I am Prezi.

I made friend maps before Facebook invented them. Just to see how everyone was related.

Every bit of data that enters my mind has to be connected immediately to another bit of data, or it probably won’t stick.

And when I have a conclusion to get to I tend to stop and make a connection everywhere. Everything in my mind is somehow connected to everything else. That’s why it takes me so long to change my mind on something. That’s also why sometimes my posts may get rambly. I promise I am going somewhere!

Part of the reason I started this project is to learn to focus and stay on a single track. That doesn’t mean that when I start tagging my posts you won’t see a million different topics tagged, but it hopefully means you’ll only read about one topic at a time.

So bear with me. I’m learning to control this brain of mine. Someday maybe it will make sense to everyone…

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My Chief End

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Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

That is the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This, I believe, is the Bible’s answer to the commonly asked question “What is the meaning of life?” If I was asked about the meaning of life, that would be my answer. How that answer is applied is a bit more nuanced.

As seen on my definitions page I define truth as “that which corresponds to reality” and economy as “household management”. If I had to apply the first catechism question to my life I would say my chief way of glorifying God is to learn true truth and apply it the best I can to my personal economy.

“True” truth is objective. In our post-postmodern world, most would say there is no truth. To most in our world truth is as subjective as one’s feelings about a subject. As feelings change, so also does truth. This has led to a myriad of confusion on a number of topics, gender and sexuality being two of the more recent hot buttons. Confusion about reality used to be called “psychosis” where now it is often labeled as just another version of reality. Raised in a world where truth is subjective, we are quickly becoming a generation of psychotics.

My biggest earthly goal is to gain the proper perspective of the truth and not rely on my subjective viewpoint of it. This can be tricky of course, as my mind is finite, flawed, and my perceptions are skewed my own sinful nature. As a created being, I will never know the full extent of all truth in the universe, only God can know that. But it doesn’t mean I should stop trying.

Where does one find truth? This is a hotly debated question among Christians. Some insist that truth can only be found in the Bible while others feel truth can be observed in other places. I tend to be of the latter camp.

The Bible contains the only necessary truth for saving the human soul from damnation, but it does not contain every truth or the only truth that man can know. There are some in the Reformed camp who believe that man can know nothing outside of scripture, but I think a basic reading of Romans 18-22 makes this argument mute.

“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”

Man observes nature and self and understands the existence of God, as well as His attributes and nature. He knows God and understands Gods attributes just by virtue of being created in the image of God and in being able to observe creation itself. Man knows before he suppresses, he is perfectly able to discern, he just chooses out of his depravity to suppress the knowledge (this is normally where I point out to Presuppositional apologists that man is “without excuse”, but that’s another topic for another day).

It’s not just the nature and attributes of God that man can observe and understand in nature, it’s anything which God chooses in His sovereignty to allow man to know. For instance: we can know truths about nature, about economics, about physics, about math, and about our physical bodies, all without consulting the Bible. Sinful man may never get a full view of every subject, and our imperfect views may lead us to false beliefs about a topic, but with enough observation it is possible for us to get a workable grasp on reality.

Some would say that our finite minds and flawed thinking prevent us from having real knowledge, but I think it’s close enough that we shouldn’t squabble with semantics. We can know well enough to put our knowledge to good use.  We can understand our physical reality enough to manipulate it for our needs, otherwise we would have never survived life outside the Garden.

Should we rely solely on our observations to comprehend reality? No! Scripture contains enough truth about other matters (besides Salvation) that we can make comparative analysis. When we make an observation about the physical universe Christians can and should consult scripture to see if our observation matches with scripture. If it does not match scripture, either our interpretation of scripture is wrong or our interpretation of what we observe is wrong. In many matters it is impossible to discern which is which (thankfully those matters have little to nothing to do with our salvation, it is quite clear in scripture what man must do to be saved).

For example: the question of creation. Folks will argue endlessly about young earth vs old earth creationism, one side finding irrefutable evidence in the Bible, the other finding irrefutable evidence in nature. While the Bible states that God created everything, it is not specific on the actual process by which creation took its shape. This is a topic for another day, but let’s just leave it with this: either the young earth interpretation of Genesis is incorrect or the old earth observations of nature are incorrect.

My chief desire in life is to find the truth about as many things as I can and live my life as consistently with the truth as I can. This means all matters of my personal economy must be consistent with reality, even if that reality is not observed by the world at large. This has created some conflict in my life. This should create conflict in all Christian’s lives. All Christians are going to live a life that is in conflict with the fallen world.

But what if the conflict comes within the church? What if what I think is the “truth” about a topic is disliked or even condemned in the church? Obviously as a Reformed Christian I have only the Bible to turn to. On many topics it seems the church at large is hasty to adopt the larger cultural perspective. Whatever the prevailing attitude of the world is, so too is the prevailing attitude of the church. In other topics, the church often seeks to distance itself so far from the world that it misses whatever truth the world may actually be promoting.

The truth about any subject will only be found when the church bases its moral attitudes in scripture. I often stop Christians who are railing about a certain topic to cite me chapter and verse. It is truly depressing the number of believers who simply can’t come up with anything more than quotes from church patriarchs. No disrespect to the patriarchs, but they may have been wrong. And until one has at least a tentative grasp of what scripture actually says, he should probably avoid quoting flawed men. If there is a question about a matter, one should first consult scripture, then consult a multitude of sources to explain what he does not understand.

What is my point in all of this?

Seek truth, seek it in the Bible, seek it in nature, and seek it in the wisdom of church patriarchs. Then seek to live your life in accordance with your findings.

Some Definitions

So before I launch into a bunch of posts that may bore or confuse folks, maybe I should take the time to give some definitions of some of my more commonly used terms and my most common topics. These are my definitions, the dictionary or Google may disagree. I’ll add more as I find them of course.

Adiaphora: things which are amoral. Things neither specifically condemned or commanded in Scripture. See: CRAS.

Aggression: violence propagated without provocation. Offensive violence as opposed to defensive violence. Coercion.

Anarchist: One who believes that the world and society should operate without coercion.

Anarcho-capitalist: One who believes in the free (non-coerced) trade of goods and services for the benefit of mankind.

Art: The expression of man’s ability to creatively tap into reality or fantasy using various media (paintings, literature, sculpture, photography, music, etc.)

Capitalist: One who uses their talents or material goods to benefit others while also benefitting themselves.

CRAS: Commonly Regarded as Sin, those things which may or may not be sinful depending on who you ask. Usually these things are adiaphora.

Economics: From the Greek οίκος – “household” and νęμoμαι – “manage”. Literally household management.  Most people think of money when they think of economics, but economics encompasses all human actions and the externalities (negative and positive) that result from them.

Family: the basic unit of the economy, can consist of an individual or a group of closely related individuals.

Libertarianism: a political theory broadly defined as those who adhere to the NAP though this is a loose definition. The Libertarian political party consists of those who are in general social liberals and fiscal conservatives. Libertarians for the most part only agree on one thing: liberty and freedom are preferred over tyranny and government coercion.

Non-Aggression Principle: AKA the NAP. A principle which states that no individual may commit or threaten aggression against another individual. All such acts are immoral. No violence may be morally perpetrated against a non-aggressor.

Property: That which is lawful possession of an individual. By definition property is a tangible object able to be traded, bartered, given away or disposed of as an individual sees fit.

Reformed: A system of Christian theology having its roots in the Reformation of the 16th century church, though the ideals and beliefs of this system reach back into the 1st century during Christ’s life on this earth. Reformed Christians generally agree on the Five Points of Calvinism (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and the Perseverance of the Saints) and the Five Solas: Sola Fide: by faith alone, Sola Scriptura: by Scripture alone, Solus Christus: through Christ alone, Sola Gratia: by grace alone, and Soli Deo Gloria: glory to God alone. All of these will be defined in later posts as I have time.

The State: AKA the government, the State is a general term for any entity that has a monopoly on force in a given geographical region.

Truth: That which corresponds to reality. Real truth is objective, only our perspective of reality is subjective.

Voluntaryist: One who believes in free (non-coerced) interactions between individuals and groups of individuals. All agreements and contracts should be agreed to without aggression or threat of aggression.

Busy Week

It’s been a crazy week with the holiday and all, but I did manage to get my scanner up and scanned all of my summer paintings. You can find a few of my favorites here:

 

My Journey

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If that first post wasn’t enough of an introduction, here’s a better one! This is pretty much a repost from my previous blog “D” Naturel Farm (http://dnaturelfarm.blogspot.com/). After each paragraph I’ve done a bit of an update.

“After reading the blogs of several others who share our passions for an self-reliant, agrarian, Spirit-filled life we felt it was high time to put our journey into a blog.”

We’re still self-reliant, still Spirit-filled, but not so much agrarian at this point. We raised our fair number of chickens and rabbits and grew multiple gardens and have decided now to change lifestyles again (for the short term at least).

“I’m Jon, just shy of 26, and I’m married to my high school love, Nicole, who’s not too much younger. We’ve been blessed with three beautiful daughters, L 4, B 2, and K 6 weeks. While they take up most of our time we hope to occasionally find time to post on here.”

I’m now just shy of 32, still married, and we’ve added two sons to our horde.

“I developed a love for the outdoors in my days in Scouts. During those days I dreamed of being a chef and owning a restaurant. My love for the outdoors was not considered “profitable” so it was placed in the “hobbies” category of my life. I started college fully intent on a degree in business management.  Once I discovered the short-sightedness of my classmates and after taking dendrology as an elective (who does that?) Providence, and prodding from Nicole, led me to a new career path in forestry. Land management combined my love of the outdoors with my desire to control my surroundings. That and I was making an impact on the world that lasts far longer than the next quarter.”

I still love the outdoors, but I’ve veered off from my land management job and went in to full time wildland firefighting. I just completed my first season with the Forest Service on the North Kaibab National Forest. And with my prodding and her own gumption Nicole has also started looking for work as a wildland firefighter.

“Upon graduation, I, the young idealist, went to work for state government in a state 4 states to the south of my roots. The outdoors became my office, I was at the bottom of the totem pole, and all that mattered was pushing out next year’s timber sales. So much for long term thinking and being my own boss. Pine plantations were a foreign outdoors to me, so my love was replaced with a semi-apathy.”

After staring at these plantations for nine years I finally got enough fireline days under my belt to switch careers.

“Youthful ambition can lead to a dangerous disappointment when reality replaces its idealism. In my shock I settled down into the normal American lifestyle. I was already married, with one child, and a career, so I took the next plunge and bought a house. We took on a mortgage with gusto (and a little help from the government), a car payment, and a few credit card debts. We ate hamburger helper, store-baked bread, and far more fast-food than any small country could handle. I went to my job, 8-5, Monday to Friday. After work, there was four hours with the now two children and one very frazzled wife, some tv, a bit of internet, bed, and repeat. Thus was our modern American life.”

I’m still an idealist, I couldn’t escape that! However, I wrote that paragraph as a bit of a condemnation of that lifestyle, and in my agrarian days I was definitely a cage-stage snob. As an Ancap I cannot condemn people who choose that life, there is a place for them in the world. Personally, I can’t do it. It’s just not for me.

“Now, about 80% of that is still true. I still have my mortgage, my car payment, my credit card debt; I still spend the vast majority of my time away from my family, and we still eat far more fast-food than we should. But something changed in the last year or so. A desire to avoid the materialist debt trap of my fellow countrymen developed. The desire to be my own employer reared its head again. A new idealism took form in my mind.”

See? Still an idealist! Unfortunately, even idealism can’t save one from the inevitable debts that come with a low salary and a large family. While we escaped the materialism that led to deeper debt, we are still trapped in a mortgage and we still have the credit card debt, though it’s getting smaller and not larger. While in those days I was completely opposed to debt I now see times and places where debt can be necessary. Debt should be leveraged for productivity, not simply short term gratification.  Our modern use of credit cards and fractional reserve banking is NOT a good example of good debt.

“Back in college I invited my wife on a class tour that would have far more of an effect on me than I ever imagined. My Forest Operations class routinely visited logging sites to teach us about the various methods of logging. This time is was horse-logging. I figured she like horses, so why not invite her. The impact was not known then, but this tour would plant a seed that would only germinate after several seasons of scarification. I plotted in my head the path to a horse-logger career: I would graduate and while she finished up her last year of school I would take the apprenticeship and learn the trade, then we would face the great unknown, hand-in-hand. God had other ideas.

Two weeks after the tour she woke me up with the news that we were expecting our first child. ”

Now we have five and we are jumping into another unknown, this time the life of a seasonal firefighter and full time travel in an RV.

“My mind quickly changed gears, I would not go the unknown route, I would take the safe route. I would do the standard “get a degree, get a career, buy a house, settle for security” route. Only after two years of taking this route would I realize the liberty I had sacrificed. I was now tied to a house, tied to my debts, fully reliant on others for my subsistence, and at the whim of any financial disaster brought about by the embrace of Keynesian economics.”

Realizing that Keynesian economics were a lie led me on my path to anarcho-capitalism. I took an odd route to get there though. I started reading blogs like the North Country Farmer (https://northcountryfarmer.wordpress.com/) and the Deliberate Agrarian (http://thedeliberateagrarian.blogspot.com/). I began to think of agrarianism, self-sufficiency, and individualism as the highest ideals.

I read Locke, Smith, Hobbes, Mill, and John Talyor Gatto. All of these philosophers and thinkers got me thinking capitalist thoughts, and my neocon mind became more minarchist. At one point I began reading Gary North and Rushdoony and became a Reconstructionist Theonomist, this was very close to agrarianism and made a ton of sense to me.

In my late 20’s I was introduced to Tom Woods, Fredric Bastiat, and the Non-Aggression Principle. I learned about Mises and Austrian Economics and found that while all of my previous positions on economics were reasonable, none of them were completely consistent. I had to abandon pure agrarianism and pure individualism because they weren’t completely capitalist. Theonomy was a blatant violation of the NAP. Minarchism was completely inconsistent with the NAP. I became an Anarch0-capitalist in the mold of Tom Woods and others.

“The dream to be a horse-logger came back to life, and along with it a desire to do for ourselves all that we are able. We started cooking from scratch, planted a garden, bought chickens, read more about off-grid living than anyone should, and a variety of other things. There are still debts to be paid, skills to be learned, character to be developed, and tons of logistics to figure. Thus, we are somewhere in the middle of our transformation from suburbanite consumer to rural producer.”

And now we are in the transformation from rural producer to on-the-road producer. Some time around 2013 I decided that I wanted to fight fires full time instead of staring at pine trees full time. This would mean six months a year working away from home. Given our dedication to parenting and keeping a more family-centered economy we decided that the only way to have both a full time fire career and a family would be to take the family on the road. So our plan became “buy an old bus, make it an RV, and follow my career wherever it goes”.

This year were finally able to get the job, but the RV part wasn’t so easy. We ended up with a 27′ travel trailer instead. Five months later we have learned much and decided this is a good short term solution. Long-term we still want the Skoolie. If we ever go back to rural production it won’t be in FL. Our current desire is to find property in the Idaho Redoubt and build a self-sufficient homestead. But for now the call of the open road beckons.

“This is our story of the rest of that journey, if God wills it.”

This is a continuation of that journey, but this is a little different. Not only will this blog have biographical posts, it will have opinions and commentary. And Nicole is not much of a writer so this one will be all me.

As the good folks at Monty Python like to say “Get on with it!”

Welcome to the Press

Welcome to Drip Torch Press, a prescribed fire for the conventional world.

I am Jon, and I am far too complicated for my own good. I always seem to find myself on the contrarian side of all Facebook debates, with both sides hating me. This blog is my attempt to catalog my various unconventional views, and maybe some of my more conventional views. You’ll probably find you agree with me on more topics than either of us would believe.

Much of this blog will be about the two most taboo topics known to American culture: Politics and Religion. Most of it will be about parenting, marriage, minimalism, travel, painting, art, photography, and just about everything else. I will also use this platform to shamelessly promote my other Drip Torch project: Drip Torch Studio, http://www.artpal.com/driptorchstudio .

Politically, I grew up a strong neo-conservative. I come from a staunch Republican background. My childhood was spent stuffing mailboxes for various campaigns with my father and attending fundraiser picnics and the like.  I voted for Bush the first time I voted, then voted for him again four years later. Then I voted McCain and Romney before deciding that voting is violence. Throughout my 20’s I listened to Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz, and Sean Hannity every day. I was always sure that big government could solve all our social problems if we just had the right leaders in office. In my late 20’s I was introduced to authors like Ayn Rand and philosphers like John Stuart Mill and Fredric Bastiat. I have slowly become more and more of an Anarcho-Capitalist (AnCap) and have renounced my belief in coercive government. In some of my posts I hope to pick apart old letters I wrote in college to real and fictional newspaper editors.

Religiously I grew up a Presbyterian. I agree with pretty much the entire Westminster Confession of Faith (as much as I’ve read, I’m getting there!) and hold to the Doctrines of Grace and the Solas. This may mean nothing to some of you, don’t worry, I’ll explain it later. I’m also Amil and paedobaptist for anyone who cares. Given the number of FB debates I have had on these subjects, there will definitely be some posts on them. Reformed doctrine itself may not be overly controversial or unconventional, but many of my other thoughts on semi-religious topics might be.

My interests outside of politics and religion include painting and art in general, relationships, homesteading, gardening and farming, woodworking (though my skills are lacking), music, my children, firefighting, forestry, pipes, cigars, and vaping, cheap Scotch, beer, cheaper wine, and so many more things I wouldn’t know where to start. This blog will take a shotgun approach at these things, hitting everything at least once.

Enjoy!