Sunday, June 27, 2021

Excerpt From 'Real Christianity' by William Wilberforce, c. 1797

WE SEE IN SUCH CASES that manners have been corrupted, morality has sunk into depravity, indulgence is out of control and, above all, faith has been discredited and unbelief has become fashionable.  When a culture reaches this point, it becomes so out of touch with truth that masses of people deny outright the existence of God.  God's will for the nation has been abandoned and man has been made God..

My hunch is that some who acknowledge the decline in religious belief in our nation will claim that I carry my logic to extremes. they will argue it could never happen here.  They will also undoubtedly argue that I am a fanatic and that my view of how culture should be influenced by faith is impractical.  They might argue that people who act as I have advocated would be too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.  They would say that too many were so occupied, the entire machine of civilized society would come to a screeching halt.

In response, I would suggest that such arguments are without merit. At worst, what I have argued that the Bible teaches would call for us to sacrifice a bit of worldly comfort and material affluence for the saske of eternal reward. It is not as if Jesus didn't teach the same thing....and do it with an attitude of cheerfulness.  To respond like this to the call of Christ requires us to hold all temporal possessions loosely.....

In light of the current discussions, it is interesting to note Paul encouraged believers to respond in this way while he also called them to the priority of the love of Christ, an eternal point of view, a healthy indifference to the things of the world and a zeal for growing in spiritual maturity that would lead to the performance of the essential qualities of authentic Christian  faith we have been discussing....

Friday, June 25, 2021

Picking Early Huckleberries and Riding The Mule

WE SHOULDA DONE IT YEARS AGO, BUT I hate to spend big money, so I put it off and put it off until I couldn't any longer.  This week,  our logger/business partners came to the Kawasaki dealership outside Nashville and took our new Mule to its mountain home in Warren County.  Yesterday, daughter Anne traveled with me to test drive this cool little beast and see what it can do.   We have wild and rough timberlands which my grandfather and father bought after the American Revolution (Ha! just kidding, but you get the picture).Then they did almost nothing with it for decades except a little walnut harvesting.  The mountain property we own is the main view from the town square of McMinnville, Tennessee and my father wouldn't do anything to jeopardize that gorgeous view or risk the public outcry that would ensue if he did.  So he told me before he died,  'Jane, you figure it out and do what you think best.  But watch out for all the rattlesnakes!'

Gee thanks dad! 

So I inherited it with my sister, had it surveyed over several years time, then divided it to avoid too much joint ownership. My sister eventually sold her land to the highest bidder before blowing the scene with her most recent husband with whom she is presumably enjoying the good life in more civilized North Carolina.

Meanwhile, back at our wild timber lands: Quite by accident I met a wise master logger who said I needed to face the challenges and start dealing with proper management of this land.  I told him I didn't know where to begin and I would need supervision.  His reply,  'I'm your man as soon as I can finish another job. There's no tract of timber anywhere that I'd rather work.'  He was a man who spoke with authority and had two very able-bodied, smart sons who could do anything and fix anything. So after mulling it over for several months, I said, 'OK, let's give it a try.'

That was almost eight years ago and today this managed hardwood forest is transforming into a beautiful uneven age stand for the next generation to take care of and enjoy.  

With God's help,  we are making progress with an eye on the downtown view of the mountain.

I finally decided to spend a little savings to buy The Mule. Thursday my daughter (driving above with logger and renaissance man Paul)  dropped everything and went to the mountain with me  for a spin.  There is a 1,400' elevation gain from the base, so we need ample horsepower. We got it and a cool breeze that kept temperatures fairly moderate. And for dessert we had some just ripen huckleberries,  being careful to avoid  snakes.

My son will bring his family up next and see how it goes! Can't wait to get back there with my grandchildren soon and let them drive our new Mule!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Tamny: Death of A Retail Visionary Reminds Us of Genius of Private Equity

(Above, one of my Orvis rod cases ready to go to Wyoming with me very soon.)

I WROTE MY LAST WEEK after the death of LEIGH PERKINS, for years head of Orvis.  Today John Tamny writes about Leigh from a private equity perspective. 

Leigh Perkins died last month. Most reading this likely weren’t aware of his passing, or who he was for that matter. But his story has broad relevance in consideration of the times in which we live.  

About Perkins, his New York Times obituary noted that he “built Orvis from a modest mail-order fishing tackle shop in Manchester, Vt., into one of America’s largest and most distinctive sporting lifestyle brands.” Not a bad legacy.  

What’s important about it for the purposes of this piece is that Perkins wasn’t the founder of Orvis. In reality, the company’s origins date back to the 19th century; 1856 to be exact. That was the year that Charles F. Orvis founded his eponymous business; one that was “sending out catalogs before the Civil War and predated Sears, Roebuck by more than 20 years.”  

In reality, Perkins didn’t come into the Orvis picture until 1965. At the time, the company had 20 employees and $500,000 in annual sales. Perkins bought the owners out for $400,000, only to start building what wasn’t very well known. When he retired in 1992, he oversaw 700 employees and $90 million in annual sales. Again, not a bad legacy.  

And it’s a legacy that says something much greater about the genius of private equity in particular. Class warriors like Oren Cass claim that private equity investors add little value to their own financial backers or the companies they invest in, which on its own is a ludicrous presumption.  

Back to reason, if private equity funds weren’t generating returns, they quite simply wouldn’t have investors. Market forces have a tendency to put out to pasture that which doesn’t produce in the marketplace. Put another way, private equity giant Blackstone has become a financial behemoth not because it doesn’t generate desirable returns for the money behind its funds, but because it does.  

As for the companies invested in, Cass is implicitly saying people don't matter. That management doesn't matter. That vision and execution don't matter. By Cass's logic, Alabama should never have hired Nick Saban. Cass’s reasoning implies that economic growth isn’t enhanced when wealth migrates to more skillful hands. If he's correct, stasis is the best economic outcome of all whereby what we call “money” sits still precisely because wealth isn’t moving. It’s actually a perfect scenario for Cass when we stop and remember his intense nostalgia for the past, and the jobs that individuals used to do in the past.

But for those of us yearning for what’s ahead, thank goodness for private equity investors, and for people like the late Perkins more broadly. Not of the view that the present is the frontier of progress, or that the past is something to aspire to, they set about relentlessly creating a much better future.  

Perkins sensed that what had lineage, but that was also stodgy, had grand potential. And he proved it. The Orvis that was once unknown very much became a known brand and a staple of brick & mortar retail on his watch.  

What Perkins achieved with Orvis is what private equity firms set out to do each day. Sometimes they see potential in businesses that are at death’s proverbial door, or sometimes they see possibilities in companies that, while operating in profitable fashion, are stagnating. Sometimes private equity firms sense that the various assets of a certain company would be better, more profitably managed if in the hands of numerous owners, and sometimes they see the chance to expand on the already massive achievements of existing owners.  

Regardless of what these investors foresee, what they’re doing is no easy feat. If the future is opaque, the commercial future most certainly is. Not terribly long ago we hailed cabs in which we tapped away on Blackberry phones. How things change. How rapidly they change. When private equity investors put wealth to work, they’re making incredibly risky assumptions about what commerce will look like in the months, years and decades ahead. This is certainly no easy feat. Consider once again the semi-smartphones we used to communicate on, not to mention the cost of medallions in the taxis that used to very unreliably move us from point A to point B.  

It’s all a reminder that when politicians and media pundits rant about the “preferential” tax treatment for “carried interest” earned by investors in the private equity space, that they know not of what they speak. Their disdain for lighter tax treatment on this “income” implies that it’s just that: income. Except that it isn’t.  

Income is salary. It’s what we agree on with an employer ahead of time. In a limited sense, it’s guaranteed.  

On the other hand, “carried interest” is the opposite of guaranteed. It’s a return on investment that private equity investors earn after their capital commitments have proven wise in aggregate, and after they’ve cleared a return “hurdle” agreed to with their investors ahead of time. In short, carried interest is a reward for successful investing, a reward for the movement of precious wealth to higher uses, when the movement of same is anything but a sure thing.  

If we’re being at all reasonable, the only logical tax on carried interest is zero. Why on earth would we design the tax code to penalize successful investing, and for that matter why would the tax code penalize investing at all? Investing is what produces essential information without which there’s no progress.  

Back to Perkins, his courageous investment in a little-known retailer over fifty years ago was in many ways the model for a happy explosion in private-equity investing that’s taken place since. Instead of sitting on their hands, these investors are energetically reshaping commerce for the much better with their bold capital commitments. Rather than demonize private equity, we should cheer the progress that it personifies with an eye on reworking the tax code in order to encourage more of what’s mindlessly penalized.  

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, Vice President at FreedomWorks, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors ( His new book is titled When Politicians Panicked: The New Coronavirus, Expert Opinion, and a Tragic Lapse of Reason. Other books by Tamny include They're Both Wrong: A Policy Guide for America's Frustrated Independent Thinkers, The End of Work, about the exciting growth of jobs more and more of us love, Who Needs the Fed? and Popular Economics. He can be reached at


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Sunday---Are Our Enemies Spiritual? Human? Or Both? And What About Women Teaching In the Reformed Church?


 BELOW, Tim Keller and Don Carson whom I agree with over, say N T Wright, answer. 


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Simple Things In Life Thrill Me: Yellow Summer Crooked-Neck Squash

I Can hardly wait to cook these young, not-too-large summer squash later today. The simpler prepared,  the better. Sliced or grated, sautéed in coconut oil, or good butter, with a bit of sea salt and dill makes them fit for royalty in my opinion. 

Add to that a few regional sliced tomatoes and perhaps some French green beans with or without fish, beef or chicken and you have it made to nourish and enjoy!  

Monday, June 7, 2021

Saying Goodbye to the Late Leigh Perkins of Orvis


LEIGH PERKINS--- who in 1966 took a little roadside fishing store in Manchester, Vermont and turned it into an international fly fishing, sport bird hunting and outfitting sensation called The Orvis Company---died last month at 93 in Florida.

He was a friend of mine and a big influence in my  becoming a fly fishing guide in Wyoming.

If there was a place in any part of the world that Leigh hadn't fished or hunted in grand style, I wouldn't believe it. His passion for fly fishing first, then game bird shooting and hunting dogs carried his business into the stratosphere of success. He became an avid conservationist and preserver of natural wildlife habitats. He and his sons David and Perk, now grandson Simon, donated a portion of their business proceeds to these outdoor causes. 

I met Leigh while serving with him on the national board Nature Conservancy-before it got woke and went off the cliff over man made global warmimg--- in Arlington, Virginia. He was a bit of a rascal, but nonetheless a greatly likeable fellow. Later when I moved part-time to Jackson, Wyoming, and became an avid fisher woman myself, Leigh was there to encourage me to get into the fishing business. I helped him open the Orvis Store in Jackson with the late Vern Bressler and Vern's son guide Joe Bressler. It didn't pay much but sure was a lot of fun and I learned a tremendous amount about all things fly fishing.

Soon I left Orvis and started my own little guide business in the Buffalo Valley of Northern Jackson Hole, wading on the smaller tributaries of the Snake River. I would occasionally fish with Leigh at his gorgeous spread in Star Valley, south of town where the fishing for  large native cutthroat was plentiful and the lavish hospitality included the finest wines, freshly picked and cooked morrels in season and fillet with roasted vegetables. He would tell me that contrary to what people thought about the biggest money maker at Orvis being fly fishing equipment, it was really women's clothing in stores and the catalogue---bought and worn by women like me--- which kept the business afloat. Matter of fact,  I am sitting at my computer writing this in my favorite Orvis quick dry knee length pants, like the other five pairs I own.

As time went on I began to lose touch with Leigh but I would occasionally run into him on some stretch of  river we both loved to fish. It's been years now since I've seen him but I still remember him fondly and appreciate all the encouragement he gave me in the fabulous, adventurous world of fly fishing.  I have many fish and grizzly tales yet to tell. 

I have no idea of Leigh's spiritual condition, but I pray we shall meet again one day in a better place....perhaps a great native trout stream in the new earth.

Till then,  tight lines, sir! Tight lines! And a river runs through it.....

Sunday, June 6, 2021

King Hezekiah Disobeys Then Begs God For Deliverance from Sennacherib of Assyria, God Hears, Saves His People


COMMENTARY  Isaiah 37The Gospel Coalition Daily Devotional

Hezekiah is beside himself (Isa. 37). He has disobeyed the Lord and defied Assyria. Mercifully, at this juncture he does the right thing: in desperation he turns to the Lord in importunate and passionate prayer, and to the Lord’s prophet Isaiah for intercession and guidance (Isa. 37:1–4). Isaiah promptly reports a visionary word from the Lord (Isa. 37:5–7). God sees the stance of Sennacherib as profoundly blasphemous: he has treated the living God as if he were some local pagan deity. God promises that Sennacherib will hear a report that will make him withdraw, and in due course he will be cut down in his own country.

The sequence of events is at this point unclear: we do not have enough information. The next verses suggest that Lachish has proved more difficult to conquer than Sennacherib had anticipated (though he ultimately seizes it), and that he has moved to Libnah. While he is there he hears a report that Egypt (the Cushites, Isa. 37:9) is moving against him, and he warns Hezekiah not to think that this will be more than a temporary reprieve. Since Sennacherib shortly resumes his siege of Jerusalem (Isa. 37:33ff.), perhaps Egypt sent no more than harrying contingents.

In any case, the bleak prospects for Jerusalem drive Hezekiah to prayer (Isa. 37:14–20), the high water mark of this king’s life. Hezekiah does not address God as if he were just a tribal deity. God is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sovereign Creator who alone is “God over all the kingdoms of the earth,” and the Almighty God of Israel who is “enthroned between the cherubim” in the Most Holy Place, the God of the covenant (Isa. 37:16). At the end of his resources, Hezekiah casts himself upon God’s mercy, not only so that the tiny nation might be spared, but “so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God” (Isa. 37:20).

God answers Hezekiah’s prayer. Through the prophet Isaiah, God pronounces an oracle of judgment against Sennacherib (Isa. 37:22–29), provides a reassuring sign for Hezekiah (Isa. 37:30–32), and stipulates that Sennacherib will not be permitted to take Jerusalem (Isa. 37:33–35). God will defend Jerusalem, not for Hezekiah’s sake, but for his own sake and for the sake of his servant David. Hezekiah prays, and God answers, but he is saved, not for his own sake, but for the sake of another.

The result is briefly told (Isa. 37:36–38). The slaughter of the soldiers may have been the result of God-ordained bubonic plague; other similar catastrophes are known from ancient sources. And twenty years later, Sennacherib’s sons did cut him down in his own temple, while the temple of the Lord remained inviolate.Isaiah 


COMMENTARY from TGC on Isaiah 36 


Isaiah 36–39 is less a historical excursus than the hinge on which the book turns. To change the metaphor, these chapters constitute the bond that holds together the two large parts on either side. Not only do they provide the historical setting of much of the book (especially of many of the first thirty-five chapters), they put in historical form the fundamental question the book addresses: whom shall we trust? Or, in the pagan outlook of Sennacherib’s field commander, “On whom are you depending?” (Isa. 36:5). Isaiah 36 begins the drama.

King Hezekiah had led the nation in anti-Assyrian rebellion and then looked to Egypt for help. Sennacherib of Assyria was not in a forgiving mood. Proud of his unbroken string of successes (Isa. 36:18–20), Sennacherib determined to crush Jerusalem and teach an unforgettable lesson. He captured town after town in Judah, until only two were left, Lachish and Jerusalem. Here we find Sennacherib’s field commander trying to undermine the remaining forces, speaking in the Hebrew the people of Jerusalem would understand instead of in his own Aramaic (Isa. 36:11–12).

Perhaps what we should observe most closely from this chapter is the example of Satanic half-truths, the methods of sowing doubt, the arguments calculated to diminish faith in the living God. Know your enemy, not least his lies, and he is diminished and less credible. So here are his weapons:

Much of the speech is raw taunt. By this point, Judah was so desperately short of warriors that even if Sennacherib had provided the horses, Hezekiah could not have provided the men (Isa. 36:8). The field commander insists he is here at the Lord’s command (Isa. 36:10)—which was of course partially true and even resonated with Isaiah’s own teaching (Isa. 10:5). Yet it was totally false in any sense that presupposed Assyria was the Lord’s obedient servant as opposed to an instrument used in the mystery of providence. A conscious attempt to undermine the confidence of the people in Hezekiah (Isa. 36:13–15) is finally met only by silence (Isa. 36:21), but the psychological damage must have been considerable. Even the threat of deportation to a strange land is made to sound like a jolly good move to a better location (Isa. 36:16–17)—a bit like making sin delightful and hiding the shame, loneliness, and death. Of course, if Yahweh can be reduced to the status of pagan deities, it will be easier to dismiss him (Isa. 36:18–19). And if the field commander misunderstands the significance of Hezekiah’s destruction of pagan shrines (Isa. 36:7), nevertheless he is probably right in sensing the disaffection of many of the people.

What similar lies and half-truths do powerful voices in our society endlessly repeat so as to demoralize the people of God?

Saturday, June 5, 2021

America's Accelerating Descent Into Darkness And Depravity


AFTER THE NOVEMBER 2020 ELECTION I felt like I was thrown back into political culture shock similar to what I had gone through in the mid-80s after spending a month in Communist China.  It was a  'study' tour, and, man O man, did I get an education. After returning to the US before Thanksgiving,  I kept eerily silent to family and friends about much of what I had experienced.  Too much stimulation on every level had brought me sensory overload and I needed time to get back to quietly thinking about it.  A friend told me after she returned from several weeks in India the year before, all she wanted to do was eat mashed potatoes and sweep the kitchen floor.  I could relate totally.

So after the last presidential election, the events and stimulation leading up to it, the unfathomable results which I absolutely question even now,  I grew silent and morose.  Not only did I not want to talk, watch or read much of anything or write about it on Webutante,  I didn't want to hear any of my  well-meaning Christian friends tell me, 'Don't worry, God is in control and everything will be OK.' Yes, all that was true, but for better or worse, I needed to give myself full permission to be seriously worried about our country and the slippery slope it is on.  Seriously worried. What are we leaving our children and grandchildren?

Today as the days grow longer and nature unfolds everywhere,  I am a small bit more sanguine, enough to read and be open to various opinions and how those of us who are classic conservatives might go forward:  Younger voices like J.D. Vance,  Clay Travis, Tal Bachman and Greg Gutfeld  are welcome now. Looking at the part I've played in this national disaster of censorship,  wokeism and critical race theory---the cancerous new state religion---is painful even in small doses.

Still, after all is said and done,  I have to somewhat agree with Rod Dreher's take on things though he strikes me as more pessimistic than I normally am..  He writes this week in 'What's Happening to America?

I went to a garden party tonight over in the Buda hills. I met there a journalist who writes about national security and defense for a Hungarian magazine. He said to me, “It really upsets us to see what’s happening to America. It’s not the America we knew. I was at Georgetown not long ago, and met this student from the Midwest who wanted to go into the foreign service. I asked him what he wanted to do with his career. He said, ‘Destroy white supremacy.’ He is as white as I am! These are the people who will be running America one of these days. Your country is tearing itself apart, and this is hard for us to see. We loved America. We looked up to it.”

The man seemed genuinely sad, and uncomprehending. What could I say?

I fell into a conversation with two men, one a journalist, the other a retired diplomat. They spoke with awe about the speed of the collapse of our civilization. They agreed that what’s happening to America is going to happen to Hungary sooner or later. Neither of them could account for the rapidity of the collapse through rational explanation. They agreed that there is something supernatural going on here. Hungary is a very secular country, so I assumed they were speaking metaphorically. They weren’t.

Someone said to me that American culture is still immensely powerful. “Nobody cares about Germany. They make great cars, okay. But what else? Nothing. America is still cool.” We may be decadent as hell, but our culture still matters to these people.

I shared a taxi back to the Pest side with an American graduate student studying here. He’s a Christian who reads this blog. He said he saw the Blue’s Clues segment with the drag queen singing about the Pride parade including the beaver family with the trans member sporting mastectomy scars. “That show meant a lot to me as a kid,” he said. “It started the year I was born. It was a big part of my childhood. Now … .” His voice faded off.

“It’s like Sohrab Ahmari says: ‘Look around you,'” said the student. “Look around you, and you can’t believe the depravity. You want to ask God, ‘How long?

”Something dark and depraved is coming. It’s already here, and it’s going to get much worse. Prepare, prepare, prepare. These people who have lived through totalitarianism know what they’re seeing.

I would say push back, push back, pushback and pray, pray, pray for God's mercy on our country.  This for now.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

How in the World Did My Sidebar Vanish On My Homepage?


SEEMS LIKE I was minding my own business last weekend when my homepage sidebar disappeared.  It's still visible if you click on individual posts and on my dashboard.  But have tried to get it back on my homepage but so far been unsuccessful.  Several of my computer gurus/geniuses can't get to the bottom of it either.

If you have any simple ideas, please email rather than comment since comments are basically closed.  Thanks!