October 31, 2020

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: January 11, 2020

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: January 11, 2020

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. (Second Inaugural – March 4, 1865)

READ THIS PLEASE: I promise that this year — election year though it may be — will not find Internet Monk dominated by political themes and commentary. We won’t avoid it either, but when we deal with political matters, I will try to focus primarily on the intersection between religion and politics. American evangelicalism’s enmeshment in the culture wars of the past 50 years is a key factor that led many of us into the post-evangelical wilderness, and now that evangelicals have, in their own words, “gained unprecedented access” to the halls of power in the Trump administration, the stakes have become even more serious.

Just know that my main concerns are not and never have been wrapped up in the realm of politics. In fact, I can honestly say that I never paid truly serious attention to political matters until the ascension of President Trump. And only then because I found his election completely incomprehensible. My bewilderment has grown daily since the election. And there is no word strong enough to express my discombobulation at the support evangelical leaders have given this administration.

Let’s figure out how to talk about this in unique ways during 2020. I hope Internet Monk can carve out a distinctive place in the public conversation in this portentous election year.

• • •

THIS PAST WEEK WAS SO-OOO 1980…

Seriously, it was the first time in many years (even though we have been at war continuously since 2001), that America was confronted with the possibility of a new onslaught of video-game like videos showing the rockets’ red glare over the Middle East. And, it may still happen, though (thank God) it seems as though tensions have diminished for the time being.

Well, they’ve diminished somewhat between the U.S. and Iran it seems, but this whole situation seems to have only further exacerbated the bombs being lobbed back and forth between the Trump Administration (Whaddya mean, you don’t trust our word?) and the evil Democrats who, Herr Trump said, “expressed outrage over the termination of this horrible terrorist [Solemani]” — they did not — and of whom, Republican Doug Collins said, “they’re in love with terrorists. We see that. They mourn Soleimani more than they mourn our Gold Star families” — they do not — and of whom Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, ““The Obama-Biden administration essentially handed power to the Iranian leadership and acted as a quasi-ally of theirs … underwriting the very militias that killed Americans” — they did not — and who Trump boot-licker Sen. Lindsey Graham said were pursuing an “unconstitutional” measure that would lead to “empowering the enemy,” when the House of Representatives passed a War Powers Act — they were doing no such thing — and who Steve Scalise, the House minority whip accused of using “Iranian talking points” — they were not — and of whom Rep. Louie Gohmert said, they ““helped [Iran] fund the terrorism that has continued to kill Americans” — they did not — and who, according to Rep. Andy Biggs, are “trying to overthrow the country” — they are not.

Etc., etc., etc.

My point is NOT to be an apologist for Democrats. I simply want to point out how the current administration and its Republican sycophants have gone completely off the rhetorical rails and seem more concerned to identify the true enemies of America as (what used to be known as) their Democratic colleagues and fellow public servants.

Oh, what a 2020 we’re going to have in the good ol’ USA.

• • •

IRAN — THE PROPHETIC CONNECTION

In 2018, I wrote a post called, “It’s No Longer Just Fringe Theology.” In that piece, we discussed John Hagee and Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which bills itself as “the largest pro-Israel grassroots organization in the United States.” Hagee was one of the ministers chosen to offer prayers at the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. I found it alarming that crackpots like Hagee are having such access and influence to the halls of power in our country. The type of futuristic dispensationalist eschatology that he and others like him preach is not at all the historic teaching of Christianity, but now it is influencing the thinking and perhaps even the policies our leaders in Washington are pursuing in world affairs.

Read, for example, Sarah Posner’s article in the New Republic, “The Evangelicals Who Pray for Trump,” and learn how “Christian Zionists” such as Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence (who support CUFI) are pushing hardline policies against Iran. Now, you can agree or disagree with such policies, but I myself find it unacceptable that they may be driven by harebrained interpretations of Jewish and Christian scripture rather than the kind of statesmanship, experience, wisdom, and skill that comes from actually knowing how to govern and negotiate public and world affairs.

On matters of Iran, too, there has been a seamless relationship between CUFI and the Trump administration. In 2017, just a few months into Trump’s presidency, Pence addressed the CUFI Washington Summit, assuring attendees that “President Trump has put Iran on notice: America will no longer tolerate Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region and jeopardize Israel’s security,” and promising that under Trump, “the United States of America will not allow Iran to develop a useable nuclear weapon.” Trump’s subsequent actions have only elevated the specter of chaos in the region. In 2018, at Pompeo’s urging, he withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, a decision that looks even more reckless today than on the day he made it—and yet, his evangelical supporters consider this one of his top accomplishments.

For Pompeo and his evangelical allies, Trump’s bombast is superior to Obama’s diplomacy, and they have spun his feckless week after the Soleimani killing as a shrewd balancing act between war and peace. After Trump’s Wednesday announcement that the U.S. would not retaliate for Iranian strikes on American military targets in Iraq the previous day, CUFI wrote in a briefing to supporters that Trump had “made clear to the Iranians that the US is neither seeking nor afraid of conflict with Iran,” and that “for the first time in years, Iran faces an American leader who is ready, willing, and able to stand up to Iran or make peace with the Islamic Republic.”

See also: The God Doctrine: How Evangelical Christians Are Guiding Trump’s Foreign Policy at Slate.

• • •

DIVIDED METHODISTS…

From Religion News Service:

(RNS) — Bishops and leaders of a number of United Methodist groups have announced a proposed agreement to split the United Methodist Church.

The proposal, called the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation, would create a new conservative “traditionalist” Methodist denomination that would receive $25 million over the next four years.

“The undersigned, in recognition of the regional contexts and divergent points of view within the global United Methodist Church, propose separation as a faithful step with the possibility of continued cooperation around matters of shared interest, enabling each of us to authentically live out our faith,” the proposal reads.

Pressure to split one of the largest denominations in the United States has grown since last year’s special session of the United Methodist General Conference approved the so-called Traditional Plan strengthening the church’s bans on the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ United Methodists.

Approval of the plan has been met with resistance from progressive and moderate members of the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

And several groups have proposed legislation to split the denomination for consideration at the next regular meeting of the General Conference this May in Minneapolis.

But members of the unofficial group of leaders who wrote and signed the agreement that was announced Friday (Jan. 3) say their proposal is the only one that includes representatives of all different theological viewpoints within the church, as well as clergy from across the global denomination. It also is signed by both the outgoing and incoming presidents of the United Methodist Council of Bishops.

Rev. Keith Boyette says of this proposal: “Every other mainline denomination in the United States has faced this conflict. This agreement models how a conflict can be addressed in an amicable way.” Boyette went on to say that the separation was bittersweet for him, but that each faction can now move forward “unhindered by the other.”

• • •

ON MY WINTER PLAYLIST…

The crystal time the silence times
I’ll learn to love their quietness
While deep beneath the glistening snow
The black earth dreams of violets
I’ll learn to love the fallow way

Words and Music by Judy Collins
Universal Music Corp. (ASCAP)/ The Wildflowers Company (ASCAP)
(Administered by Universal Music Corp.)

Comments

  1. There is just so much to address in the article which is mostly an opinion piece that each side needs to research to confirm , validate or base their opinions on. However, when the President of the USA, legally elected is referred to as Herr Trump that belies the objectivity of the writer. It would take a lot of time and effort to do a rebuttal to many issues brought up in the article about Iran and all the issues but I think it is fair to say the Democrats from the very beginning have opposed Trump in a manner that has been harmful to the country and to our orderly transfer of power. If the present day Democrats were in power in 1948 instead of Harry Truman they would be no Israel , and I am sure the very objective Slate and New Republic editorial boards would be happy. 2020 the election will be clear cut. Just to be clear , the progressives/liberals/socialist Democrats who wish to fundamentally change America, you have won the war by demographic change coupled with the failure of our education system and the collapse of the nuclear family. So do not worry about Trump , his supporters are fighting a rear guard action and won a few battles but the war will be over in a couple of generations. President Trump is addressing issues that should have been handled by Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton , the terribly incompetent Bush 2 and Obama.
    My hope is Trump does what he wants to do and get all our troops out of the Middle East, we do not need them anyone. Israel will take care of itself and their final defense plan is called the Samson Plan, they have nukes and the ability to fire sub based missiles .

    • Yes, I hope Trump gets our troops out of the Middle East. He can start by acceding to the demand of the Iraqi government that we offer an immediate plan for their withdrawal, right now. Besides the fact that we shouldn’t be there, we have no right to be there against the will of the Iraqi government and people, anymore than Iraq would have a right to keep troops in the US against the will of the American government and people. Here’s your exit ramp –GET US OUT, President Trump.

      • thatotherjean says

        Didn’t he say when he was on the campaign trail that he would get US troops out of the Middle East? But he won’t, because doing so after the blunder of having Sueleimani assassinated on Iraqi soil would make us look “weak. We have no right to be there, if the government of Iraq doesn’t want us. The Middle East is unstable enough already.

        • He needs to keep feeding the End Times-obsessed Christian part of his base a diet of perpetual apocalyptic fever and frenzy to hold onto their votes. Only staying immersed in the Middle East can do that.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            He needs to keep his Base immersed in the prologue to Left Behind and finding it all Very Exciting.
            “I want to be in a skyscraper when The Rapture comes so I don’t have as far to Ascend!”
            — Overheard by Eagle on 9/11

    • If the present day Democrats were in power in 1948 instead of Harry Truman they would be no Israel…

      And if the non-interventionist wing of the Trump movement, the America First-ers, had been in power (their equivalent actually was in effect “in power”, until the attack on Pearl Harbor), the US would never have gotten involved in WWII, and again there would be no Israel because the Jewish community outside the US would’ve been completely wiped out. You hypothesize, I hypothesize.

      • Correction: I should have said that before the US got into WWII, the America First-er noninterventionist movement had a lot of influence and power, not that they were in power.

        • Robert F., Yes we make judgements on historical events based on historical facts or say you say hypothesize. My statement about the current Democrat Party of 2020 supporting the creation of the nation state of Israel is based on the comments , actions and voting of the current Democrat party. Your assertion that the isolationist viewpoint had a lot of influence and power leading up to Pearl Harbor is not historically accurate, they had no impact on voting for offices and Congress pretty well did what Roosevelt wanted. President Roosevelt was elected President for a second term as well as the Democrats were in charge of Congress. Lend lease and economic support of England was official USA policy. Yes , there was an isolationist wing with a strong following but the power was in the hands of the party of Roosevelt and the actions of Roosevelt were supported by the majority. Roosevelt put strong economic sanctions on imperial, war like Japan, moved the 7th fleet to Hawaii and aid helped England and Russia as much as possible. When the war started the isolationist all rallied around the nation. WW I was the war the American isolationist were right about. Again if the present Democrat Party today had to vote on the creation of the nation state of Israel the outcome would be different, based on the direction of the Democrat Party .

          • “Your assertion that the isolationist viewpoint had a lot of influence and power leading up to Pearl Harbor is not historically accurate, they had no impact on voting for offices and Congress pretty well did what Roosevelt wanted.”

            On the contrary, Roosevelt would have entered the war much sooner if not for the isolationism of much of the electorate at the time. He did get support in Congress for his actions, but not unequivocally, and it took Pearl Harbor to clear the way for full war actions. And even then, most people just wanted to focus on Japan. Fortunately for Roosevelt, Hilter solved that problem for him by very foolishly declaring war on US.

            • Yes, if Hitler had not declared war against the U.S, America would likely not have joined the struggle against him in Europe. Isolationism was extraordinarily popular among the American electorate in the years leading up to WWII. The Nazi sympathizers here in the U.S., like the German American Bund, played on that isolationism, publicly advocating that America stay out of a fight that they said had nothing to do with it.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                I believe Newt Gingrich wrote an alternate-history SF novel based around that exact premise. After the USA and Japan conclude the Pacific War (with the bloodiest invasion in history; there is no more Japan), the Reich (which is now ALL Europe and Russia) makes its move.

          • Yep. You really need to read some history. By real historians. Just look up poll numbers from the run up to the 1940 election to see just how much the MAJORITY of the US population wanted WWII to be something to be ignored.

            • And many opposed the War even after it started, at least in the first stages of it.

              • That is, the War against Germany, not Japan.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  Though Germany was three times the threat as Japan, a centally-located industrial and scientific/technological powerhouse.

                  • German-Americans comprised a huge portion of the American populace in much of the US, and not a small number of them were either Nazi sympathizers, or unconcerned about the Fascist goings-on in Europe.

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                      In his 1939: Lost World of the Fair, Professor David Gelertner mentions in passing that Fascism rivalled Communism in its appeal to Superior Intellects. The Intellectual and chattering classes of the time buried democracy as already dead; the only fight was which Intellectually Superior system would replace it — Fascism or Communism?

    • “I think it is fair to say the Democrats from the very beginning have opposed Trump in a manner that has been harmful to the country ”

      And I think Trump and his supporters are actually acting in ways that harm the country. The fact that he wasn’t impeached until last year shows remarkable restraint on the part of the congressional Democratic leadership. As for Grass Roots criticism… Well, after all the slanders put out about the Clintons and the Obamas, conservatives have no rights to complain themselves.

    • No one ever claimed objectivity, Dan. And if you’ve read IM over the past four years you know that. But once again, it is not about liberal v. conservative, Democrat v. Republican (I consider myself a moderate Republican). It’s not even, in the end, about policy (I don’t actually believe Trump has policies — just instincts, mostly about maintaining his own power). It’s about a man who is utterly unfit to hold the high office of POTUS. I’ve been a “never Trumper” since the 1980’s. The man himself is a lie and a cipher.

      • From the outside – here in England – the current Republican Party looks like it sold its soul & lost its mind.

        After the Republican Party opposing Obama, & preventing so much of his legislation that would have benefited ordinary Americans during his entire administration, suddenly the Democrats are supposed to act as they themselves never did? – it comes across as outrageous hypocrisy. There are good reasons that Democrats don’t, & shouldn’t dance to Trump’s tune – he is completely unfit for service, & wouldn’t know truth from falsehood if it jumped up & bit him. This ‘alternative facts/fake news’ shenanigans brought in by current Republicanism has turned political discourse into nonsense, lending itself easily to propaganda via populist social media. The world looks on & cannot believe this is still going on. Trump has no acquaintance with truth & falsehood, nor right & wrong, only win & lose. It’s like watching a cult.

        • –> “…the current Republican Party looks like it sold its soul & lost its mind.”

          Desperation tends to do that to people. Anxious about losing four more years to a Democrat president, especially Hillary, they lost their soul and mind.

        • thatotherjean says

          “– the current Republican Party looks like it sold its soul & lost its mind.”

          That’s because it has, and it did. Republicans have trashed Hillary Clinton since Bill was president, for no good reason that I have ever seen, and investigated her time as Secretary of State over and over and over and found absolutely nothing. The prospect of her being elected president in 2016 sent them over the edge, and they sold out to the very person they had rightfully, and intelligently (for the most part) opposed throughout the primaries, when he became the candidate. Now he’s theirs, and he has a cult-like following, so they’re afraid to let go, because his cult might turn on them.

      • I’ve been a “never Trumper” since the 1980’s. The man himself is a lie and a cipher.

        Totally. Or to use the phrase my father used about a cousin of mine once. “He’s a con man and a thief.”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          And to four out of five Evangelicals (and five out of five Christian Leaders), he is LOOORD. In the words of that billboard, “The Word Became Flesh…”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        And his own Glory, just like when he was starring in a Reality Show. (All about the ratings with his fan base.)

        Not so much different from John Piper’s God expressed in the Pious Piper’s Website and Twitter presence, whose only motivation and goal is maximizing His Own Glory (even if His Glory means our destruction). WHich might be a reason Christians became the most fanatical of his Base; when someone comes along who acts more Godly (according to what you’ve been catechized) than even God…

    • David Greene says

      To me, even though they ran as Democrats, Bill Clinton and Obama were more akin to moderate Republicans of the 60’s than the “flaming liberals” they are made out to be by today’s hyper-conservatives. I used lean Republican until they jumped onto the crazy train.

    • lol, legally.

      Legally lost, too.

  2. Adam Tauno Williams says

    Methodist protocol: “””Local churches would be able to choose whether they want to stay in the United Methodist Church or join a new denomination. “””

    Ugh… ugh. Queue some nasty intramural power plays. 🙁 This seems sure to ruin more than a few [American] churches, especially ones who are already financially unstable in places of declining/aging population.

    Sad.

    • I know of one UMC church in our area that has already imploded. It was the only church that did not sign a regional statement in support of welcoming LGBTQ people… and most of the congregation still left, because they didn’t think the opposition to the statement was strong enough. :-/

  3. I am encouraged to see that 41 states, including many with Republican governor’s, have opted out of the administration’s plan to let states refuse to resettle refugees. I’m told by the mainstream media that this option was taken in Republican run states partly because evangelical church leaders and communities that are in favor of refugee resettlement pushed back against implementation of the administration’s plan in their states, despite having voted for Trump heavily in their districts. I see this as a hopeful sign that evangelical communities have not totally repudiated the Christian responsibility to help refugees and asylum seekers, despite having voted for Trump in 2016. I can’t imagine that the Trump administration could see this as anything less than unwelcome surprise.

    • Correction: … many with Republican governors….

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > evangelical church leaders and communities that are in favor of refugee resettlement

      It is one of the few happy alignments between Evangelicals and the Chamber of Commerce (which is very pro-immigration). Both institutions which have a lot of pull in red states.

    • It is interesting to find out there are no Christians in Texas. I was led to believe otherwise. (insert sarcasm emoticon)i

      • There were some Christians there once, but they were deported.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          “MAGA!!!!!”

          • Although to be fair, there are many municipalities in Texas that would gladly resettle refugees, and I’m sure many Christians among them, but the Governor has elected to go along with the anti-refugee policy of Trump, and the new regulation prohibits local leaders from resettling refugees against the Governor’s decision.

      • As someone who visit there a LOT. These are in small churches under 40 on Sunday and talking about God making the US into a church led country RSN and ones with stadium seating and $100 theaters, sorry sanctuaries, that proclaim DT is God’s chosen one to lead the US forward.

        Then there’s the “if you’re not rich, God is not pleased with your life”.

        Strange land that Texas.

  4. “…I myself find it unacceptable that they may be driven by harebrained interpretations of Jewish and Christian scripture rather than the kind of statesmanship, experience, wisdom, and skill that comes from actually knowing how to govern and negotiate public and world affairs.”

    Are you more upset with the interpretation they have been taught, or the fact that they are not setting it aside and making policy decisions in a more non-faith way? If the latter, how much do you want Christians in positions of power to have their faith influence their policies (foreign policy, immigration, poverty, etc…)? Where should be that dividing line?

    Or is the bigger problem, perhaps, the former, and more about what is being taught in a certain segment(s) and the lack of better Christian instruction? Do such officials even know wider Christian views and how they should balance them?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > positions of power to have their faith influence their policies

      It cuts deeper IMO. What is one’s “faith”? Is eschatology part of one’s faith?

      For some – including these folks – the problem is that their “faith” is wide, encompassing everything they believe. That makes them, or anyone, dangerous and inflexible.

      I believe all kinds of things, but not everything is my “faith”. A healthy adult mind can categorize their beliefs. Once everything is “faith” there is no longer any place for conversation – only agreement or disagreement.

    • People will always act on their most closely held beliefs – or, if you prefer, their actions will reveal what they most closely believe. So if someone is acting in a manner that furthers chaos and war risk, with an eye towards provoking the apocalypse, then it follows that they see the suffering and deaths of possibly millions as secondary to the fulfillment of prophecy. And it’s in ALL our best interest to see such people kept as far from the levers of power as is legally possible.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > And it’s in ALL our best interest to see such people kept as
        > far from the levers of power as is legally possible.

        Yep. Some beliefs are essentially incompatible with civil society.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        Is not Shi’a Islam also an apocalyptic branch of that religion? Are not the Twelvers, who I believe are a majority in Iran, awaiting the return of both (the Islamic) Jesus and the Twelfth Imam? Would this count as a belief not compatible with civil society, or do theocracies get a pass, as their beliefs compose the civil society?

        Doesn’t sound like a good mix with Scofield Bible pre-millenial Evangelical Christianity, though, by any means.

        • There are apocalyptic elements in Shia Islam, yes. But the current leadership in Iran is, painful as this is to admit, actually acting with more restraint and rationality than ours. They are not deliberately trying to provoke an apocalypse, unlike say ISIS.

          • Burro (Mule) says

            In my many altercation with playground bullies, I found the best time to negotiate was after you had both landed a decent punch on the other. Mutual respect has been established, and both can retire from the conflict without losing face.

            If Trump did this, my respect for him would go through the roof. But I ain’t holding my breath.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        So if someone is acting in a manner that furthers chaos and war risk, with an eye towards provoking the apocalypse, then it follows that they see the suffering and deaths of possibly millions as secondary to the fulfillment of prophecy.

        “It’s All Gonna Burn anyway.”
        And they will be laughing as the world burns from their catered box seat in Heaven. Armageddon as the ultimate spectator sport.

        There are two related articles in the IMonk archives: “Hell House: An Evangelicalism Eager to Leave” and “A Marriage Made in Hell: How Christian Pessimism and Radical Islam are Blowing Up the World”:
        https://internetmonk.com/archive/thoughts-on-hell-house-an-evangelicalism-eager-to-leave
        https://internetmonk.com/archive/58534

    • We have bewailed the impact of dispensational false teaching in the church and its deleterious effects there. Now it appears it is actually influencing world affairs. This scares me out of my boots.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Four words from my time in-country, during the Age of Hal Lindsay:
        CHRISTIANS FOR NUCLEAR WAR.
        (“It’s Propeneied! It’s Prophesied!”)

      • thatotherjean says

        Yes.

      • Yes, CM. Premil dispen is a terrible eschatology, theology, and incorporates terrible anthropology. A bad footing for civil governance.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Yet in the Evangelical bubble, it IS The Plain Reading of SCRIPTURE, History Written Word-for-Word in Advance — “Do You Doubt THE! WORD! OF! GAWD!?”

          Until I got out of the bubble, I HEARD NOTHING ELSE. NOTHING. Rapture Any Minute Now, followed by the Tribulation/Chastisement of Global Thermonuclear War. (But if you were REALLY Saved and kept your nose squeeky-clean, you’d get beamed up to Heaven before anything bad could personally happen to you.)

          “It’s Too Late
          To change your mind —
          The Son has come
          And You’ve Been LEFT BEHIND!”
          — Larry Norman, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”

    • I, for one, would be thrilled if Republican leaders started allowing Christian morals to influence their words and actions. If they started to do that, maybe they would begin to stand up for “the alien, the fatherless and the widow.” Maybe they would stop making excuses for sex predators and adulterers. Maybe they’d stop separating children from their parents and locking them up in squalid conditions. Maybe they’d stop pandering to gun-worshipers. Maybe they’d start adopting the sort of policies that have actually been shown to reduce abortion rather than giving the pro-life movement lip service while accomplishing nothing. Maybe they’d stop saying that it’s okay for leaders to be immoral and unethical. Maybe they’d even decide that bowing the knee to Trump in exchange for “the kingdoms of the world and all their splendor” was a bad idea.

      The problem is not that Republican leaders are too influenced by their faith. The problem is that Republican leaders are not pursuing Christ, but the priorities of conservatism, and they’re cloaking it in Christian language to try to avoid facing the truth of how thoroughly they have abandoned Christian morality.

  5. senecagriggs says

    Well thank goodness Chaplain it’s not going to be all about politics this year ??-
    [ not sure there C.M., you pretty much started off with a political bang.]

    ______________

    Don’t forget Peggy Noonans take on this election cycle. It’s THE BARBARIAN vs THE CRAZIES

    • Steve Newell says

      I look it as Trumpian Fascism vs. Dem Socialism.

      There is no middle ground in either political party.

      • The two party system has a strangle-hold on this country, and is at the root of the increasingly binary and extreme choices that present to citizens when we vote, and the resultant destructive social and political polarization that has developed. But how are we going to pull out of it? I don’t see it happening.

        • We’re always going to have a two-party system, as long as we have a government where the executive branch has as much power (and in some ways, more) as the other two branches. Because of that, any party that has 40% popular support and can’t break through to 50% ends up disempowered. So, the parties have to constantly shift their priorities and constituents in order to try to appeal to 50% of the population.

          Both parties are, in essence, loose coalitions of many different sub-populations (e.g. libertarians + fiscal conservatives + social conservatives + rural white people = Republicans). The last big shift we saw in those coalitions was in the 60s, when white Southerners shifted from being Democrats to being Republicans. Before that, the South was “blue” and New England was “red.”

          • The last big shift we saw in those coalitions was in the 60s, when white Southerners shifted from being Democrats to being Republicans.

            It may have started in the 60s but took until the 80s to really get there.

            When I first voted in 72, the general election was only D’s running for 80% of the slots. If you weren’t a D and vote in the primary the election was mostly over when you got to the fall ballot.

      • I’m not sue what you mean by “Socialism,” but if it is anything like how the word is traditionally used, anything like Socialism is limited to the outlying wing of the Democratic Party. It is a vocal wing, at least in some circles, but has little to do with most Democrats in elected positions.

      • Steve, I don’t see that as true. The Democrats have several candidates who would, years ago, have been classified as moderate Republicans.

        • Policies that Eisenhower would have found unremarkable are routinely denounced as Socialism or worse. The word used this way at best means nothing more than “stuff I don’t like” and often means “stuff I know nothing about, but have been instructed to not like.”

          • Only in America could Hillary and Obama be considered “Leftists”.

            • Burro (Mule) says

              I think Obama was dragged right by Hillary and the corporate Dems.

              Besides only in America could Trump be considered a right-wing nationalist. Sheesh, the guy doesn’t even have a decent death squad.

              • He has plenty of wannabes, however. And the rhetoric is definitely trending in that direction. Death squads always have to start somewhere…

              • Besides only in America could Trump be considered a right-wing nationalist. Sheesh, the guy doesn’t even have a decent death squad.

                Stephen Miller is working on fixing that….

          • thatotherjean says

            Precisely. Most of today’s Republicans, it seems to me, have no idea what the dreaded “socialism” involves. They just know it’s bad, somehow, and they’re against it.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Policies that Eisenhower would have found unremarkable are routinely denounced as Socialism or worse.

            Here’s a quick search result from Professor Fea’s blog:
            https://thewayofimprovement.com/?s=socialism
            Vladimir Putin is not the only one still living in The Cold War.

        • David Greene says

          “The Democrats have several candidates who would, years ago, have been classified as moderate Republicans.”

          And to me that would include past presidents Clinton and Obama.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          +1

          There is wide middle-ground, if someone has enough interest in looking for it.

      • There is middle ground, which is, I believe, where most Americans stand, in spite of the polarizing elements. But the leadership of both parties is deaf.

        Dana

        • Burro (Mule) says

          I worked in the Florida prison system for 15 years. The majority of the inmates weren’t all that racist, but it was the Black Muslims, the Aryan Brotherhood, and La Raza Unida that set the agendas. In a way, it was our fault for not providing enough security for the inmates.

          The parallels to what I’m seeing today in the wider society are not encouraging. The Unicorn Rainbow-Fart Ice Cream Happy-Happy Joy-Joy Parade cannot be conducted when the citizens feel so insecure.

          • Feelings of insecurity are one thing. But if there’s anybody in America in danger if really getting harassed or hurt, it’s not white people.

            • Burro (Mule) says

              Here are my zip code’s demographics.

              Number Percentage
              Asian 332 0.69
              Black or African American 42032 87.41
              American Indian or Alaskan Native 430 0.89
              Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 35 0.07
              White 4711 9.8
              Other 545 1.13

              …but it isn’t physical assault I worry about. It’s layoffs, medical bills, and Selective Service for my son (and maybe daughter) that keep me up at night. You guys have something to say to us but you gotta stop polishing that racist turd and calling it “analysis”.

              • If it smells like a turd, and looks like a turd, I refuse to call it a diamond.

                • Burro (Mule) says

                  The turd isn’t my racism, it’s white Democrat condemnation of my racism. Black folk have a right, yea, a responsibility, to call me out on my racism.

                  Not y’all.

            • Is it harassment that a tenured academic cannot say what s/he truly thinks for fear of losing her/his position? This is happening in institutions that say they prize academic freedom. A lot of these folks are white, but not all. There’s harassment all over the place. Yes there is systemic racism out there, and black people are still harassed and hurt, and that is despicable. And there is also a Wokeness litmus test in many, many places. People with the wrong kind of religious faith cannot pass it – unless they are black (but the actual content of black people’s faith is still ignored for all that).

              The pendulum needed to swing, yes – but it has way overshot the median. Fragmentation and Ideology are calling the shots these days, as per Mule’s example; the point to all of it is obtaining power, because there’s not much else in our common culture that gives people meaning anymore. I believe people of faith do need to live – and tell – the truth, at the same time, we don’t have to agitate from an ideological base in order to do that. Jesus showed a different way than power grabs.

              Dana

              • Arguing for those who suffer *is* living and telling the truth. And I don’t think it’s too much to be more concerned about people who risk injury and death over those who just risk losing a job.

                • Eeyore, please read what Fr Stephen has written about suffering. Or Dostoyevsky.

                  Yes, we should relieve it whenever and however we can – arguing for those who suffer and, more importantly, actually doing things personally, not waiting for government *only* to act. And, put yourself in the place of those who face losing their jobs because they won’t violate their faith-informed consciences – there’s suffering that goes along with that, too. We can be concerned about all of it; we don’t have to choose one thing over the other. These kinds of situations are not a zero-sum game, but the polemicists and those more concerned with having power have turned them into such a game. Christ abjured those games – (“Whose image is it on that denarius?”) – and Christians ought to as well. We’re all of us way too caught up in the polemic politics.

                  (FYI, I lean leftward with regard to environment, economy, health care, and a few other issues. If the Democrats would even just agree to sit down and talk with consistent-life people like Democrats for Life, to find areas where they could work together on common goals, I’d re-register from No Party Preference in a shot. But the current Democratic leadership will not countenance that reasonable step.)

                  Those who wish to take charge of the outcome of history have already agreed to use violence. (paraphrase of S. Hauerwas)

                  The One Ring cannot be wielded in innocence and purity. (“Look at all the good we could do…”) Nope.

                  Dana

                  • I’m not talking about taking charge of the outcome of history. I’m just talking about seeing that people who have historically been disrespected get some respect, and those who have done the disrespecting get some incentives to actually respect others. But apparently for some, that can only lead to white people being treated like we’ve treated others for so long?

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                Fragmentation and Ideology are calling the shots these days, as per Mule’s example; the point to all of it is obtaining power, because there’s not much else in our common culture that gives people meaning anymore.

                “The only goal of Power is POWER. And POWER consists of inflicting maximum suffering upon the Powerless.”
                — Comrade O’Brian, Inner Party, Airstrip One, Oceania, 1984

                “There is no RIght, there is no Wrong, there is only POWER.”
                — Lord Voldemort

                “POWER IS POWER.”
                — Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvkuePL7oDY

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I look it as Trumpian Fascism vs. Dem Socialism.

        There is no middle ground in either political party.

        At which point, your best hope for survival is to go with the party that’ll be running the camps instead of the one that’ll be going up the chimneys. Either way, your best bet is to “Out-Pious Everyone Else” in your party.

    • It’s the times we live in. Things are coming to a head, and not discussing them is not an option. To be silent IS to choose a side.

  6. For historians and scientists, 2020 won’t be known for the Iranian general assassination, but for the Australian wildfires. The effects on climate due to release of carbon based fuels are real.

    That is the real problem of politicization of society and of religion, it distracts from reality.

    • On the contrary, I see these issues as joined at the hip. I suspect that many people sense that something is wrong. And some people, rather than face the problems, double down on the system they know and have a place in (aided and abetted by wealthy folks who profit mightily from both those peoples’ rage and from stoking that rage) at whatever cost to others and to the future. The polarization is rooted in the economic decline, which is rooted in the massive exploitation of the environment and wage-earners, which also increases the environmental damage… rinse, lather, repeat.

    • True that. Remember, in the IM Bulletin Board, we are posting updates about those fires about twice a week.

  7. Methodist split: My wife, in a moment of inattention, has found herself a Methodist. While I am hardly likely to follow her, I have started taking interest in modern Methodism.

    I am a little-c congregationalist. I understand the local congregation to be the important unit. This is, after all, where I go (or don’t go) to worship each week, and who I worship with. Higher-level bureaucracy exists, in my view, as a pragmatic matter of convenience. There are some functions which make no sense to perform on the local level. It makes sense for local congregations to come together for those functions. But if the situation changes and it no longer makes sense, then I don’t get sentimental about rejiggering how the congregations organize work together.

    In this light, the Methodist split is entirely rational. The two groups have irreconcilable differences, so it is time to separate. Money has been invested in the hierarchy, so that needs to be discussed. They seem to be handling this like adults.

    So far this is straightforward. What fascinates me is that the split is being set up as the conservatives leaving and the progressives staying. It could have been the other way around, or it could have been set up as the United Methodist Church dissolving and two new groups forming. Why are they doing it this way, and why are the conservatives agreeing to it?

    My initial reaction, which could well be entirely wrong, is that this is about the African Methodists. Most Protestant denominations are organized along national lines, often in the US with a more conservative and a more progressive version. So the progressive American Lutherans tend to be in the ELCA and the more conservative in the LCMS. There are African Lutheran churches as well, off doing their own thing. So when the LGBT issue finally came to a head, the ELCA held its vote without reference to the LCMS or anyone else.

    The United Methodists are different. There are no national churches. It is one big worldwide organization. In the ordinary course of events the American Methodists would have voted to accept gay marriage and ordination. There would have been the usual intramural arguments for a few years, with some congregations and some individual members leaving, then things would have settled down. The African voting bloc prevented this. The result turns out to be untenable, hence the upcoming split.

    Why couch this as the conservatives leaving? The Africans, while having the bodies to influence the voting outcome, don’t have money. They rely, and have always relied, on the American Methodists for funding. On the American side, I also interpret this as an acknowledgement that the conservatives are a minority in America. They don’t need the progressives’ money to run themselves, but they can’t continue to fund the Africans by themselves.

    So run the scenarios: If this was couched as the progressives leaving, or even as the UMC dissolving, the Africans would have to go with the new conservative group. This would presumably entail losing the progressive funding, as it is hardly likely that the new progressive group would find new avenues for their money. Doing it this way, with the conservatives splitting off, the Africans can simply do nothing, thereby retaining access to progressives’ funding. The UMC has, after all, been sending money that direction since forever. No reason to stop now. I’m sure the African hierarchy will piously bitch about the progressives among themselves and to their congregants, but doing nothing is always an easy path to walk, and gives them plausible deniability.

    • Another twist I heard from a Methodist who is familiar with the details that are not in the media. It appears votes are at “regional conference level” in the united states first, rather than congregational level. So, in southern and rural areas, entire regional conferences and perhaps entire states will “leave”. Then, those who want to stay would have to have a congregational vote to return. I only heard that from one person, but if true that is dramatically different than each congregation having a vote to ‘leave’.

  8. Trump has a terrorist taken out. One who was more dangerous and relevant than Bin Laden. One who was actively involved in an attack on a U.S. Embassy. And the Democrats acted like he has just done the craziest most irresponsible thing possible. Yet they said nary a peep when Obama was bombing Libya and taking out a dictator who was evil but posed no real threat to us. They said nothing about the mess he left behind and only made excuses when that embassy was allowed to be overrun and our people killed. One of the things that got Trump elected and will likely get him reelected is the rank hypocrisy of the left. A hypocrisy that the left is never able to see in themselves no matter how often it is pointed out.

    • Jon, you represent the knee-jerk response: But…Obama!

      That is NOT the issue. The issue is not the taking out of the terrorist either, IMO. The issue is a president who does foreign policy alone, by the seat of his pants, damn the consequences.

      • This is not a knee jerk reaction. I’m pointing to Obama and the reaction to what he did as an example of the hypocrisy I’m talking about. You act like the world is about to end, like what Trump did is unprecedented. It is not. Yes he didn’t tell the Democrats. Quite frankly if I was him I wouldn’t have told them either. That doesn’t mean there were people who actually know what is going on who were advising him. Now, do I know if what he did was the best thing? No I don’t, just like I never know if the government is actually telling me the truth about what is going on. I’m certain that past administrations have lied to us. I wouldn’t put it past this administration to lie us. But everyone pretty much agrees that this Iranian general was a bad actor and there is no doubt the U.S. Embassy had been under attack.

        So to wrap this up, what I said is EXACTLY the issue, the hypocrisy the left and quite frankly today’s brunch displays is one reason he was elected, and will only help get him reelected. For a group of people who are so dismayed that Donald Trump was elected president you seem hell bent on not correcting your mistakes and ensuring his reelection.

        • “You act like the world is about to end, like what Trump did is unprecedented”

          It actually was. We killed a functioning government official of a nation that we are not technically at war with.

          • Who was involved in an attack on our embassy, which is an act of war. Quite frankly I’m glad it was the official this time. Too often it is the soldiers and civilians, people who take orders and have no control over the situation who get killed. And again, were we technically at war with Libya? Perhaps we were, but I don’t remember congress taking a vote on that.

            • Just because they don’t play by the rules doesn’t give us the excuse to do the same. That IS the difference between them and us, right?

              • Burro (Mule) says

                Uh, we kind of made those rules. Ask Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam, Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, Achmed Sukarno of Indonesia, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, Salvador Allende of Chile.

                Of course, the traces of American involvement in those killings are extremely well hidden and plausibly deniable. This killing has been rather surprising in its openness, bravado and chutzpah, but then, you have to consider the source.

                • I would say those are examples of us not following the rules, but hey, depends on your side of the fence I guess…

        • It’s not just that he didn’t tell the Democrats — he didn’t tell our allies or others who have skin in the game. And even many Republicans have expressed strong doubts about the process. That’s what I’m talking about.

          I do agree with what you and many are saying — Congress has for a long time now ceded too much to the executive branch when it comes to war powers. And I’m also quite willing to say that many Dems are acting hypocritically. But I’m not a Democrat and I’m not making any apologies for President Obama.

          As I said in the post, this is strictly about our current president. I do not believe a single word he says, nor has he ever given me any reason to have confidence in his wisdom or skill in conducting foreign policy.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Problem is, “Believing EVERY single word he says” is becoming the latest Litmus Test of Salvation — “ARE YOU REALLY SAVED?????”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Once “What About OBAMA?” or ‘What About THE CLINTONS? THE CLINTONS? THE CLINTONS?” is in play, it will always end with “TRUMP CAN DO NO WRONG! HAIL TRUMP! HAIL TRUMP! HAIL TRUMP!”

        • Geez, this whole site has become unhinged with TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome). 🙁 I miss Michael Spencer and the moderated discussions of a decade and more ago.

          I don’t like the current president’s character, but I don’t understand why everyone is acting like the election of President should have been the formal selection of a pious uber-moral god-ruler for their imagined Utopia, instead of a human charged with the responsibility of leading our government’s (hopefully) combined efforts to look out for the best interests for its citizens, home and abroad (for example, dealing decisively with those who attack our embassies) for a 4-year term. And, seriously — the Democrats have *wasted* the last four years with their whining instead of persuading anyone that their particular policies are in the best interest of all American citizens.

          • Sarah —

            1. “TDS” is just another discussion-ending meme that means nothing. My reasons for distrusting and not respecting Donald Trump go back 40 years, and they are all reasonable and commonsensical. The man is simply unfit for the office.

            2. As for “utopian” visions of the presidency, I would settle for a mature adult who plays well with others in the White House.

            3. As for the Democrats, I have no illusions (nor do I for any politicians). However, please remember that the House has sent, at last count, over 400 pieces of legislation to the Senate in the past couple of years that Sen. McConnell has refused to let leave his desk for even the most cursory consideration. Who is silencing the debate?

            P.S. Michael Spencer was criticized thoroughly for speaking his mind, and not always in nice ways, about any number of topics. There was no “golden age” of Internet Monk where all was peace and light.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              Trump Derangement Syndrome exists, and is always found joined to the opposite polarity of Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

            • –” My reasons for distrusting and not respecting Donald Trump go back 40 years, and they are all reasonable and commonsensical. The man is simply unfit for the office.”

              +1. The guy used to be the topic of a lot of late night comedy monologues, laughed at by Republicans and Democrats alike because of what a rich, egotistical, arrogant, philandering a-hole he is. How such a “joke of a man” became our President still baffles me!

              • Precisely. There’s never been a time that Trump was anything other than a narcissistic playboy. The only thing he’s ever had is money.

                Sadly, that was probably why he won, unless…let’s face it, there is evidence to suggest that he’s in Russia’s pocket.

            • https://www.factcheck.org/2019/12/pelosis-bipartisanship-boast/

              CM, Nancy Pelosi know what she is doing, It is called politics, as many here have not been paying attention to national politics until Herr Trump won the election , it is not surprising that people are un aware of hard ball politics. Pelosi and the Dems send over bills they know the Reps in Senate will not pass, it is for talking points, Reps do the same thing and are doing it. However Pelosi and the gang will not even touch issues such as the budget, which starts in the House, USMC bill until politically she had to send it to the Senate. It is business as usual and in way why the founders did the 3 branches of government thing. So you have the absolute right to abhor Trump as a person and how he handles the office, put forth your objections on the issues and policy as it seems the main objective to Trump is not the results of his Presidency but his persona, thus like many conservatives had Obama Derangement issues, they pursued that avenue and let the issues be handled by the very smart/effective President Obama while they launched silly , personal, nonsense issue attacks. I opposed President Obama on the issues. However I am glad he defeated McCain and Romney who would have done more damage to the nation by their actions than President Obama. Bush 2 , terrible President gave us President Obama, President Obama a bad not terrible President gave us President Trump. President Trump will give us President Pence unless the rich guys wreck the economy to get rid of Trump, that is the only thing that will defeat Trump.

          • If calling incompetence, compulsive lying, and incitement of racism and intolerance is an indication of “derangement”, I’ll happily cop to it. And as CMike pointed out above, it wasn’t just Democrats who made these calls. A lot of Republicans did too, until it became clear that they might lose their jobs if they stuck to their guns.

          • another one who wants to shut people up, the red light signal of rabid trumpism

            • They really do want to shut people up, at all levels. According to Republican Senator Mike Lee, who was part of a briefing after the assassination of Soleimani, they were told by the White House that they should not debate the issue in Congress, that they should just shut up and go with the administration’s narrative, no questions asked.

            • Anonymous – Speak to me ; I am a person, not a demon or political enemy or inanimate target for passive-agressive insults. I’m not a “rabid Trump supporter”, in fact, I’m not a Trump supporter. I do, however, support the American system of presidential succession — if you don’t like the elected guy, spend the next 4 years working on getting your guy elected instead of having a tantrum. At least the US Constitution says you don’t have to wait until he dies to have a chance.
              I know I’m an extreme outlier here as someone who’s been reading this blog since at least 2003, and it’s been very helpful for me as I was booted hard into the evangelical wilderness and struggled greatly with my faith; I am particularly thankful at Mr. Spencer’s focus on “Jesus-shaped spirituality”. Over the years I’ve seen the changes in discussion and tone here. What is astounding to me now is the amount of naked contempt for others (political, particularly) allowed in the comments. Nothing here looks like Jesus. I can’t even think of this blog as a Christian blog (whatever that means) anymore, and that saddens me greatly.

              • Can “Jesus-shaped spirituality” ignore when other Christians sign on to an anti-Christian agenda and a party that is spiralling into total disengagement from reality? Can that be called out without some feeling insulted? Not all eras allow for a “middle way”. What was the “middle way” between the Confessing Church and the German Church? We’re heading to that point, if we’re not there already. And it does no one any favors to pretend to a unity that may no longer exist. “There must needs be divisions among you that it may be shown who has God’s approval.”

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  What was the “middle way” between the Confessing Church and the German Church? We’re heading to that point, if we’re not there already.

                  Almost word for word, according to these quotes referenced by Professor Fea:
                  https://thewayofimprovement.com/2020/01/10/an-open-letter-to-christians-who-love-bonhoeffer-but-still-support-trump/

                  P.S. During my time in-country, it was a common belief that as the End Times approached (by 1980 at the latest) any “middle way” would disappear until at the point of The Rapture there would be none remaining, leaving only “GOD OR SATAN — WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?????”

                  I remember reading similar speculation in a C.S.Lewis essay (“The World’s Last Night”?) but of course the pop culture derivative turned into a Certainty Cartoon of itself.

              • bull

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                Standard Christianese Over-Spiritual boilerplate.
                In the Seventies it would have included a reference to Prophetic Private Revelation re the “Grieving of the Holy Spirit”, but that apparently has passed out of use.

    • I am so old that I remember when Bin Laden was the greatest threat to America. That lasted until it was clear that Bush wasn’t going to get him after all, at which point he was relegated to the status of minor annoyance. This petty status was confirmed when Obama got him.

      For that matter, I am so old that I remember when Muammar Gaddafi was the greatest threat to America: So great that Reagan was bombing him. But Reagan missed, relegating Gaddafi to the status of minor annoyance. This petty status was confirmed when Obama got him.

      Now we have Soleimani, whom we are assured was the greatest threat to America. Sure, we had never heard of the guy until a few days ago, but Trump got him, thereby assuring his eternal status as the greatest threat to America. It’s inspirational, really.

      In related news, who is the most radically lefty crazy radical nut job Commie lefty whack job in America? We don’t know yet, but we don’t have long to wait. The Democrats will nominate someone, and that person will, mirabile dictu, turn out to fit the description. Indeed, this will be the case regardless of said candidate’s voting record or any the candidate says. It’s kind of amazing how this works.

    • Nobody who is aware of the situation there would dispute that Suleimani was an extremely bad actor whose death was deserved. The concerns that critics of the strike have is that there seemed to be zero thought put into the likely consequences and countermoves to the strike. Much as hawks and America Firsters might wish otherwise, we don’t have the power to just force everyone to do what we want, without consequences.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        If we weren’t there, he would have been no threat to us.

        Of course, if we weren’t damn near everywhere, Ukraine wouldn’t exist except as West Russia and East Poland, and Kosovo would still be part of Yugoslavia and Serbs would be trussing Kosovars like pigs.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        The concerns that critics of the strike have is that there seemed to be zero thought put into the likely consequences and countermoves to the strike.

        They did put thought into strirring up The Base.
        Like any Reality Show, it’s all about the Ratings.

      • Eeyore, How in the hell do you know that no thought went into the consequences or countermoves ? Because Trump never called you ? Obama invaded a foreign country without permission , killed all at the compound and dumped his body in the ocean. Where was the outrage of the Dems about congress not being notified ? Where were the resolutions about limiting the war powers act ? Like Burro said, we punched them in the face with no real retaliation and know perhaps we have a chance for talks. If that happens the Dems will become more unhinged Obama gave them a lot of money to limit the Iranians but it did nothing as evidenced by the Saudi strikes and continued actions in the area. I at least feel safer if you don’t. But Trump is doing nothing past presidents have done. Chaplin Mike, I agree you are not a prophet but if you can’t see that this blog is essentially a political one and not Jesus centered one look at the last time a trump wasn’t mentioned in the comments.

        • How do I know? Because no preparations were made. Because nobody was informed (allies or Congressional leaders). Because of reports that when presented with a range of options as to how to respond to the embassy attack, the presenters were shocked when POTUS chose the direct strike option (which they did not foresee, probably a big oversight on their part). And because it totally fits the established pattern of wild swings between over the top rhetoric, rash actions, and declaring victory afterwards that have characterized this administration’s foreign policy from day one.

          Now, all of that may not be enough to convince you, but it’s an utterly convincing case AFAIC.

          • Eeyore, The embassy attack ended with no loss of life unlike the well prepared Benghazi embassy attack which actually cost us lives.Because you are not privy to all information or deliberations does not mean they don’t happen. How much information should you be told ? It completely is not possible. However I will send Trump a letter asking him if he will tell you all ahead of time and after. You need to be real.

            • I follow these things quite closely, due to work considerations. How about you? What are your sources?

              • Eeyore, what did I say that needs your explaintion ?

                • Everything. Me thinks you have no reply

                  • I’ve gotten tired of arguing with a brick wall.

                    “Aye, but ye misunderstand me. The question is whether she is a grumbler, or only a grumble. If there is a real woman-even the least trace of one-still there inside the grumbling, it can be brought to life again. If there’s one wee spark under all those ashes, we’ll blow it till the whole pile is red and clear. But if there’s nothing but ashes we’ll not go on blowing them in our own eyes forever. They must be swept up.”

                    • Me thinks your swept away. If you have so many work considerations how are you on this blog 24/7 ? Me thinks you are full of cr-p.

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                      “But I HAVE to go online! SOMEBODY IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET!!!!!”
                      — xkcd cartoon

                      And this guy’s handle IS The Pessimist of the Forty-Acre Wood.

        • Unfortunately, Stbndct, today’s religious and political landscapes have become so enmeshed, that it is virtually impossible to avoid political discussions.

          I’m becoming more and more aware as I continue to educate myself, that in this land it has ever been so. Those of us who were living in separatist religious groups in the past were sorely unaware of American history.

        • Christiane says

          st. b.
          you feel ‘safer’ ?

          while the abandoned Kurds fight for their lives and the border babies struggle in their hell hole trumpist camps,
          YOU feel ‘safer’

          I’d be happy for you, but the price has been a bit too high for most of us

          • This. Too many people are so far removed from the process and the consequences that they can latch onto even reprehensible actions as acceptable, as long as their perceptions of safety tick up.

            • +10

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              “I DON’T WANT A THING TO CHANGE
              NOW THAT I GOT MINE!”
              — Glenn Frey, “I Got Mine”

              A song about the indifference of the rich towards the plight of the poor. Once I counter-trolled Eagle’s regular troll (“I give Donald Trump Praise and Adoration”) with that line, in response to a Pious comment about how said troll’s job and income have never been better, “Thank You Donald Trump”.

              Troll exploded like Lars Ulrich doing “demented monkey on Meth” in the “Beer Good; Napster Bad” videos, sputtering Christianese about how “GLENN FRYE IS DEAD AND BURNING IN ETERNAL HELL!!!!!!”

      • The concerns that critics of the strike have is that there seemed to be zero thought put into the likely consequences and countermoves to the strike

        Since when has DT ever considered the secondary effects of his actions?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Other than Building Ratings with The Base like a continuing new season of The Apprentice?

          “THEY ADORE ME!”

    • Jon assuming you will read this amongst all the flurry of responses to your post, let me try to explain my concerns with the assassination of General Soleimani.

      We had a carefully negotiated treaty with the Iranians that while not perfect gave us an international forum for attempts to reign in their nuclear program. It removed the perception that the conflict was simply a unilateral effort on the part of the US. Like it or not we needed the cooperation of the Europeans in this matter.

      Judging from the reports Trump more or less arbitrarily decided to junk the whole thing. Now it is a unilateral matter. Alienating the Europeans means we’re on our own. Not good in a situation as inherently unstable as this one. Also it’s a very bad idea to go after their leadership. It freaks them out and practically guarantees an unstable response from them in a situation that already has the potential to turn into a region wide conflagration.

      Ask your self why Bush and Obama and the Israelis (who are much more threatened than we are by the Iranians) didn’t go after Soleimani. Then you’ll understand why Trump’s action was a bad idea.

      • Stephen, just now saw this, and thank you for a reasoned response. The great problem with foreign policy is that nearly all of us truly have no clue what is going on. So if you already don’t trust an administration you are not likely to trust what they have to say about threats from other countries or groups. I didn’t trust the Obama administration. I thought the Iran deal was a terrible deal that wouldn’t prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and it certainly didn’t make them behave better. I don’t really trust the Trump administration either, but I can’t find a lot of fault in taking out this general who has been condemned by both sides. I don’t want to get sucked into another war, but so far Iran doesn’t seem to really want that either. But I find the reaction of many on the left totally hypocritical considering their lack of reaction during Obama’s many bombings.

        • “I thought the Iran deal was a terrible deal that wouldn’t prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and it certainly didn’t make them behave better.”

          Well this is the narrative from those who opposed the treaty. But I don’t think the facts bear this out. We weren’t trying to achieve perfection simply workability. We had an international framework to call out the Iranians and hold their feet to the fire. Now we have none of that. I don’t think we can say America is safer because of Trump’s actions.

          • We have no agreement of any kind, and Trump’s recent backing off from the brink of war signals that he’s reluctant to enter into a conflict wherein, short of taking the nuclear option, many US troops will likely be killed — at least he’s reluctant with the election upcoming, but after the election, it’s a whole different ballgame.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              And (during my time in-country) Nuclear Was was THE Fulfillment of End Time Prophecy.
              “IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”

              “If you question what I say to you
              YOU REBEL AGAINST THE FATHER, TOO!”
              — Steve Taylor, “I Manipulate”

  9. So far I’ve read only the first two articles in this week’s Brunch (Read This Please and The Prophetic Connection), but I must say that I really, really, really prefer Daniel Jepsen on Saturdays to Chaplain Mike. You may say and actually think, Mike, that you are “fair and balanced” in ways that Fox News could never be, but your words reveal differently. Words like “bootlicker”, :”crackpot”, and “harebrained” reveal an ugly underside not worthy of you. You do not even attempt to be civil; your bias is out there for all to see. Be a little more even-handed, would you? Remember what your mama probably told you, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I know that’s hard to do when you’re running an at-times controversial website, but try, Mike, try.

    I will now try to read the remainder of the post.

    You may decide not to publish this. I will understand. Boy, will I understand.

    • Of course I’ll publish it, Bob. You are right about many things you say, and I take absolutely no pleasure in writing this way. But this is how the prophets spoke — rough, impolite, no nonsense. I don’t claim to be one, but it sure feels like a time when someone needs to tell the truth. The Republicans themselves used to talk this way — and worse — about Donald Trump. What has changed?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        The Republicans themselves used to talk this way — and worse — about Donald Trump. What has changed?

        Trump is in POWER.
        And can break any Republican’s career with one Twitter Tweet to His Base.

        • Oh Hug, why not talk about Hal Lindsey and the other ones you so often talk about. really, grow up and live in the now not forty years ago.

          • There’s not a thing in HUG’s comment that isn’t accurate regarding what’s happening NOW. It has nothing to do with forty years ago. It’s more than a little funny that you usually deride HUG for referencing “Hal Lindsey and the other ones”, and now you’re telling him to talk about them rather than current events. Disparage, deride, and deflect — the Trump method.

    • flatrocker says

      O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
      To see oursels as ithers see us!
      It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
      An’ foolish notion:
      What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
      An’ ev’n devotion!

      If only both sides of the aisle would heed these words a wee bit more.

  10. senecagriggs says

    Tom Brokaw

    “I think the most extraordinarily powerful tool and the most destructive development in modern life is the current media,” said the author and TV Hall of Famer.

    In an interview with Artful Living shared with Secrets, he criticized the dividing nature of media and questioned if it can change.

    “Everybody has a voice — and I think it’s great for people to have a voice — but there’s no way to verify what’s true and what’s not. It has no context; it’s just a 24/7 rage about what’s pissing people off across the board from the left to the right,”

    __________

    True dat

  11. Klasie Kraalogies says

    As to not letting politics get out of hand, here are 2 modest suggestions:

    1. We use terminology as defined by say the Oxford Dictionary and/or experts on the field, and not as insults that mean whatever we need then to mean in the moment. Examples: Socialist, Fascist.

    2. Instead of name calling “Johnny is a fascist!”, rather call out words and actions “Johnny said this and Inconsider that a fascist statement because…”.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Oh, and journalists, politicians and activists of any political stripe are not experts. Experts have knowledge and experience. Like resumes and degree certificates. Sure one of them might become an activist, but expertise first.

      • Experts have knowledge and experience.
        Yes. Agreed.

        Like resumes and degree certificates.
        Not always. At all. Experience can be a great substitute for degrees and certificates.

        But if someone says they don’t need to know the background but do best just going to work in the morning and doing what feels right at the moment without outside input, they are not qualified to lead.

        DT believes that last statement. He has said so many times and even put it into his book(s).

        • Klasie Kraalogies says

          Depends. If someone calls themselves a historian, I want to know that they have been taught how to appraise history, read primary sources, spot bias etc. If someone gives me health advice, I want to see accreditation. If someone talks about the climate as an expert, I want to know they understand paleoclimate and climatic processes and statistics. Actually that last one is very important. Not understanding statistics, correlation etc etc is a massive weakness in anyone claiming to be an expert

    • Part of why political discussions get so rancorous is that our culture has made us believe that there are only two “teams” we can side with – liberal or conservative. But the truth is that Christianity has some elements that our culture considers very conservative, and others that it considers very liberal. And both liberalism and conservatism also have unChristian characteristics. So, anyone who sides strongly with either side of the secular cultural divide is going to be drawn away from Christ and away from Christian morality.

      What we need is for Christians to start placing Christ first and foremost, and following Christ even when it means going against whatever segment of the secular culture we identify with. If we could do that, we’d be drawn closer together by our common values instead of being driven farther apart by the secular culture’s polarization.

      • The problem is, at the moment one side has totally bought into the conservative end of the spectrum and locked any consideration of the other side out if discussion. It’s hard to find common values when one side is intent on denying any commonality.

      • Something else to consider: The top few percent of people continue to get smarter and smarter (e.g. scientists), but the intelligence and ability to think critically for the average person has been decreasing in an age of technology and social media. The issue of education is similar to wealth: the wealth of the have’s is increasing while not so much for the have not’s. As a society we have become increasingly intellectually lazy. When issues come up, we tend to see them as binary and one-dimensional, immediately taking sides (that is, taking the quick and easy way out) instead of deeper reflection and realizing just how multi-dimensional and complex they truly are. As a former professor, it’s like when a student is trying to solve a problem and after like 10 seconds they immediately give up and want to try and google the answer (since that’s the easy way out). This problem got considerably worse over the years. We have so much available to us at our fingertips, that we’re losing the ability and attention to fully work through issues since it may involve some struggle. Anyways, that’s just something I’ve come across over time.

        • Agreed. I went through a decent high school, a decent college, and a decent seminary – but it was on my job (analysis) that I was actually given real training on *how to think and analyze issues*. It’s rather scary how far one can get without finding anything close to that.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “ANYONE WHO TELLS ME I CAN’T DO WHATEVER I WANNA IS A FASCIST!!!!!
      — a long ago Mad Magazine (or the Beavis & Butthead Definition)

    • Klasie if you’re going to be reasonable how can we take you seriously?

  12. senecagriggs says

    Funny Meme
    _______

    If I were President, General Soleimani would have committed suicide.

    Hillary Clinton

    • Funny Meme

      ————–
      If I were Attorney General of the United States, and in charge of the prison he was being held in, Jeffrey Epstein would have committed suicide.

      William Barr

  13. Aauugh – really? The irony of this post and the comments is considerable. The condescension is palpable.

    While I will admit that the tone is somewhat different from the past, and discussion is healthy, I kinda want to just remind all of us… me included:

    1 Timothy 2:1-2, 8

    Not going to type it out, but will ask – are we, as Christ followers, praying for those in authority? Or just hunkering down on a side? And slinging mud.

    I agree with whoever said it above… I prefer DJs Saturday Brunch.

    • Praying for authority, and holding it accountable for it’s errors, are not incompatible.

      • Hmmm.
        Never read about holding those in authority accountable. Where is that?

        • It’s called “living in a representative republic”. We, the voters, vote for candidates, and can see if those candidates follow established procedures and the laws applicable to them. We can call and write letters, attend protests, voice criticisms. All these things are built into our system, and indeed are guaranteed by the most basic laws of the land, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Nowhere, not in those documents, nor in the deliberations leading up to them, is there any hint of a clue of our owing blind obedience to a leader or government once they are installed. And that’s not even getting into the biblical model of principled non-violent disobedience (“we must obey God rather than men”). So… What say you to all of this?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            So… What say you to all of this?

            “SHOW ME SCRIPTURE!”
            — PastorRaulReesCalvaryChapelWestCovina (all one word)

        • The Constitution is the authority. All elected officials are sworn to uphold the Constitution. Officials themselves are not strictly the authority; they are required to submit to the Constitution.

          And according to Romans 13, all governing authority—whether constitution or absolute monarch—has been established by God, and we are to be subject to such authority.

          I keep seeing an irony in Romans 13, or perhaps a loophole. Paul says at least six (6) times that the authorities are established by God. Six times. And he says that they are put there for the public good, not harm. And that they are God’s servants.

          And yet, Paul was aware of Herod the Great. And Nero, and others.

          So is Romans 13 also a warning to those placed in authority? Paul is saying that God placed them there, and they are accountable to him.

        • Clay Crouch says

          Charlie, hope the civics lesson helped.

    • David Greene says

      “…are we, as Christ followers, praying for those in authority? ”

      Guess we better pray for Nancy Pelosi, eh?

      • Yes, let’s pray for her every day, remembering that she for her part prays for the president, though scoffers claim she is not a “real Christian” and so her prayers are ineffectual, or that she is lying.

  14. The evangelical support for Trump is largely the result of a syncretistic belief system that is mostly unique to white America.
    I grew up as a missionary kid overseas with families from around the world, and I can tell you that from what I know, worldwide, most believers are aghast at what is happening in the U.S.
    I am one of them.
    I’ve never been super patriotic, but I’ve never been as worried as I am now about the direction a country I live in is taking and how closely and eagerly a lot of the church has aligned itself with, involved itself with, and sought to influence and gain worldly power from that direction. Historically, the church has never done well spiritually when it takes this kind of approach.

    • The ironic thing is, “syncretism” is something that evangelicalism sees as what *other people* do – Catholics recast old local gods as saints, mainliners mix secular ideology and religion, but we evangelicals Don’t Do That. You know, despite having the American flag up next to the altar, and letting Ayn Rand set our economic and charitable agenda…

      • senecagriggs says

        “You know, despite having the American flag up next to the altar, and letting Ayn Rand set our economic and charitable agenda… “-

        Bull shovelings my friend.

        Flags? Ayn Rand? Are you kidding me?

        • RE flags – the altar is the representation of Christ and His sacrifice, for us and the whole world. What does it say about our priorities when we place our national symbol prominently next to *that*?

          And as for Ayn Rand… If you are unaware of how read and admired she is by prominent conservatives and evangelicals, well, you haven’t paid close enough attention.

          https://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/why-ayn-rand-fan-favorite-among-christian-theocrats

          • Burro (Mule) says

            That is nasty. I’ve always thought of Ayn Rand as somewhere between Satan and Hitler on the scale of Absolute Evil.

            …but I would have been more scared if I had read it from the pen of Rod Dreher or the Orthosphere. Alternet has no destination for any Christian to the right of Daniel Berrigan other than a reeducation camp, and no great love for those to the left of him.

            • As we both know, John Greer idly speculated that the Republican Party and Christian right were actually closet Satanists – and Ayn Rand was their “secret handshake”.

        • I’ll let others speak to the Ayn Rand issue.

          As for the flag, the problems with having it at the front of the church should be obvious. At a minimum it opens the door to detracting from the true king we ought to serve. At its worst it is followed and adored and becomes the symbol of the syncretism of which I spoke. Idolatry.

          The real question should be why would anyone think it is a good idea.

          Your dismissal of the idea that it’s a problem actually illustrates my point.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Ayn Rand’s Objectivism is a philosophy/ideology of Total Selfishness. So why is anyone surprised that it linked up with the Evangelical Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation? That Gospel is also at its core a Gospel of Selfishness — MY Salvation, MY reserved place in Heaven, MY Personal Relationship with MY Personal LORD and Savior, You can all go to Hell, I’M SAVED!

        P.S. At least when I go into St Boniface tomorrow, there’s no chance I’m going to see Donald Trump’s face on a giant telescreen in place of the crucifix above the altar.

        P.P.S. If your Spiritual Gift of Discernment cannot “discern” the difference between Donald Trump and Jesus Christ, why should I believe anything you tell me?

        • Christiane says

          I remember that year when the Ryan Budget was pending and we found out that the good Catholic Ryan was from his college days an ardent supporter of Ayn Rand’s philosophy.

          That year, the ONLY thing that kept me encouraged and inspired was to see the work of the Nuns On The Bus who opposed the Ryan budget, thank God.

          Otherwise, I’d have lost it.

          It’s not that you always ‘WIN’, no; it’s that it made sense to oppose the crazy in the first place . . .
          it has something to do with ‘hope’:

          ““Hope is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart;
          it transcends the world that is immediately experienced,
          and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons
          . . . It is not the conviction that something will turn out well,
          but the certainty that something makes sense,
          regardless of how it turns out.”
          (Vaclav Havel)

        • HUG, I say this as someone politically to the right of most here, if I ever go into a church and see a picture of Donald Trump on a big screen, I’m turning around and leaving right away.

        • Hug, and Satan said Hal Limsey was the devil and Satan

          • Once again, you are not replying to the content of HUG’s comment, only ridiculing previous comments he’s made. Is that all you’ve got?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I think this blog has another regular troll…

            Assuming it’s not just a bot.

    • https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/how-the-faithful-voted-a-preliminary-2016-analysis/
      John and other

      Part of the messaging and misdirection by the press allies of progressive politics aimed at the election of President Trump started when he won. The message that Trump won because of the evangelicals is nonsense, 62 million voters voted for Trump. Trump got 81 % if the self id evangelicals Romney got 78 %, Trump 3 percent came from new first time voters who called themselves evangelicals. Clinton lost the white Catholic vote to Trump by 5 percent drop over the 2012 election. Look at the survey, Trump won with an increase in usually non Republican voting groups. However , the narrative , part of the campaign to discredit the lawful election and hurt Trump politically portrayed the evangelicals as dupes dumb enough to vote their religion , the same group that voted for the secular McCain, the Mormon Romney now only voted for Trump on religion not issues.

  15. –> “I can honestly say that I never paid truly serious attention to political matters until the ascension of President Trump. And only then because I found his election completely incomprehensible. My bewilderment has grown daily since the election. And there is no word strong enough to express my discombobulation at the support evangelical leaders have given this administration.”

    +1,000

    –> “My point is NOT to be an apologist for Democrats. I simply want to point out how the current administration and its Republican sycophants have gone completely off the rhetorical rails and seem more concerned to identify the true enemies of America as (what used to be known as) their Democratic colleagues and fellow public servants.”

    +another 1,000

    Like you, I still consider myself a Republican. The current Republican party is making it impossible for me to stay aligned with them. I don’t consider myself a Democrat, either, leaving me without a political home.

    Thank God for Jesus!

    • I’ve begun calling myself Independent. It’s hard to call yourself Republican or Christian these days without a lengthy explanation. I also never gave a rats patootie about politics until Trump.

    • Rick Ro. We (I am taking it upon myself to speak for all Trump voters) believe you are truly a Republican and we are the RINO’s. Paul Ryan, Peggy Noonan, David Frum, David Brooks, the Bushies etc. all are the traditional real Republicans, Trump created a third party within a party. as did AOC and her allies within the Democrat. Like the UMC if we are lucky either Trump will take over the entire Republican Party or become a powerful third party as the establishment controls the game with both parties. Again, 16 million evangelicals elected Trump based on religion only. One more time progressives, liberals , socialist or whatever name tag you have. Be patient , you have won the war and your side with 2 generations will have the control of the country. That is unless the country finally gets the genius of Trump (only comment if you agree) .

      • –> “…you have won the war and your side with 2 generations will have the control of the country.”

        I’m not fighting a war, haven’t picked a side, and have absolutely no say in who will control the country in two generations.

        The genius of Trump is pandering to evangelical knee-jerk fanboys.

    • Like Chaplain Mike, most of my life I haven’t paid much attention to politics. I’ve voted Republican, I’ve voted Democratic, at times I’ve failed to vote. But I’ve known Trump to be a grifter and swindler since the 1980s, and nothing he’s done as candidate or as president has provided any evidence that he’s changed in the least. In the next election, I consider it my job to be nothing but a Trump Speed Bump; if there are enough of us, we may be able to stop him from reaching reelection.

      • Robert F. , You are at the right place, From the comments here I would say most of the commenters are still not paying attention to politics or events!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I’ve heard reports of sightings of a “TRUMP JR IN 2024!” bumper sticker.

        No clue whether it’s for real or a joke.

        • Oh, it’s no joke. If Trump wins 2020, you can bet his son, or daughter, will run in 2024.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Like the one about “Hillary in 2016” followed by “Chelsea in 2024”?

            “House Targeryn, House Baratheon, House Lannister — every Great House tries to stop the Wheel with themselves on top. Forever.”

            Add House Trump and House Clinton to your list, Tyrion.

            (Though 2016 appears to have broken House Clinton’s machine for good.)

  16. senecagriggs says

    “The Swedish public has voted that climate change spending has been the biggest waste of taxpayer money in 2019, according to a poll by the Swedish Taxpayers’ Association.”

    FYI

    • No link, no context, no dice. But even so, it goes to prove my point above that there are people who will shut their eyes and stopper their ears to any news of how badly we’re wrecking the planet, and what it would cost to rectify that.

    • Then there’s this item in the news: Swedish air travel is down significantly due to a phenomenon called “flight shaming,” largely from the climate debate. And probably Greta.
      https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51067440

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Reminds me of why I’ll be moving out of California in three years.

        The only ways Our Woke Betters in Sacramento can think of to motivate us Unwashed Lowborn is Scold, Shame, and PUNISH! PUNISH! PUNISH! with new Punishment Taxes kicking in almost every month In the Name of The PLAAAAAANET.

        Outside of Christians, Trump got swept in on a backlash of “STICK IT TO ‘EM! STICK IT TO ‘EM!” and crap like this is one reason why.

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      I notice you are getting your “news” from Breitbart, which is not a good look.
      Follow the Breitbart link to the actual article and translate it from the Swedish with Google translate, and what you discover is the complaint of waste is that the money spent has been ineffective in reducing carbon emissions, not that money is being spent endeavouring to do so.
      I don’t accuse you of dishonesty, just willful blindness, and in spreading lying propaganda by people who are indeed very much dishonest.
      https://skattebetalarna.se/har-ar-arets-varsta-sloseri-2019/

  17. Judy Collins. Angelic.

    • Agreed. My wife and I saw Judy in concert July 2018 and she’s better than ever, if that’s possible. If she comes near you, order tickets, book a room, you will not regret it.

      • Christiane says

        goodness, it’s been almost fifty years since I first saw her sing live at Wolf Trap, VA

        I remember she sang ‘Martin’s Song’ with an unearthly beauty

        . . . I understand she is of Welsh stock, so her gift for music may be connected to that

        but in my college days, all I needed to hear was her recording of ‘Suzanne’ in order to become an ardent fan of hers for life

      • I will on your recommendation.

      • Ted, I am going to book a room and hope Ms. Collins shows up looking like the picture in the article. How do I arrange that and what will I tell my wife? I might even go to the concert.

        • She didn’t have to get neckid to market her voice but I don’t suppose it will hurt her cause.

        • Dan, she’s matured a bit since that album cover. Unfortunately, I think there’s now a lot of makeup to achieve the Judy Collins look. But her voice, her control of it, her professionalism, just outstanding.

          Her opening act was by a younger man, Ari Hest, and he’s no slouch. I think a solid hour by himself before she came out. Then she performed awhile with herself on guitar and Russell Walden on piano, then Ari came out for a few final duets, and they make a great team.

          Somewhere in the middle of the show she sang “Dreamers,” a capella, which is about hispanic refugees, and I was thinking before it was over, “this will be a standing ovation.” My wife was the first one up, and she’s not even the liberal in the family.

          • Dan, I am old enough to remember the young Judy Collins , her beauty is not so much is her looks that are attractive but her sincere sweet manner and of course wonderful voice makes her truly beautiful. I was being silly of course and will glad do as you suggest if she ever appears in Atlanta or anywhere me. She does a wonderful Amazing Grace. Yes it seems even liberals have great talent, who would have thought ?

            • thatotherjean says

              Some years ago, I played Judy Collins’ “Amazing Grace” for my daughter. She, who was young enough not to know who Judy Collins was, and had never to have heard Judy Collins sing, was blown away. She became an instant fan.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      The Emmylou Harris affect. Some women stay gorgeous forever.

      • Jane Seymour immediately leaps to mind.

        • I think I’m in love with Jane Seymour. The older version. I recently discovered she was a Bond girl, and so I watched Live and Let Die. She was OK in that, but from Dr. Quinn on she’s better.

          My wife’s a huge fan of Dancing With The Stars. I tell her I lost interest when Jane Seymour was voted off. “But that was the first season.”

          • This could be a long night. I just discovered that Jane Seymour starred in a 1983 production of Jamaica Inn, adapted from a Daphne du Maurier novel that I read last year.

            Patiently waiting for the latest version of Du Maurier’s Rebecca to be released, and for My Cousin Rachel to be free on Netflix. Du Maurier is cool. Hitchcock had fun with her stuff. And I haven’t even see The Birds, my mother wouldn’t let us kids watch it.

            • thatotherjean says

              Ted, you will never regard a murder of crows, or a flock of any other birds, in quite the same way, ever again.

      • Christiane says

        oh, Emmylou !
        wonderful singer . . . timeless talent

    • Norma Cenva says

      AMEN!
      She was indeed Stephen Stills’ chestnut-brown canary and ruby-throated sparrow…

  18. A quick note to ‘dan’.
    For many years, I was a daily reader (seldom commentator) of IM. I even recommended it to several friends. I seldom look at it these days. The site is mostly mob rule with non ‘choir’ thought blasted and quite often in non-Christian ways. If you last more than a few weeks, consider yourself and iron man. Good luck

    • If that’s the case, why are people who disagree allowed to comment? 😉 But if you want an evangelical cheerleading site, there are plenty of those on Patheos.

    • olbaldy, I enjoy the give and take. Soon our speech will be limited, moderated and censored unless you are totally PC so we need to enjoy it while we can. I do think the moderators here are fair and open to opposing views even the minority opines. My pronouns are me, me and me with an occasional myself. In this world is all about me. I am buy sexual as I usually pay for sex but I do deal in cash. Thanks for the info. Feel free to join in, it seems open to all

      • Ok that’s pretty funny. Haven’t purchased sex in decades. Then again I haven’t had it in decades. Nyuk, nyuk. You heard about the guy who came home to find his wife packing her bags? He asked her what was going on. She said she was moving to Vegas. She heard they would give her $200 for what she did for him for free. Next thing he’s packing his bags. She said what are you doing? He said I’m going with you. I want to see how you get along on $400 a year.

  19. senecagriggs says

    New Zealand gun news.

    My House Was Raided Over A .22LR Lever Action Rifle
    On Thursday evening, I was just finishing up dinner with my two oldest kids. My wife was feeling unwell and feeding our four-week old baby in bed. I had just gotten the icecream out for the kids when the doorbell rang.

    I opened the door to see a number of police officers outside. They served me with a search warrant under Section 6 of the Search and Surveillance Act 2012. Half a dozen armed police officers swarmed in the front door (holstered sidearms only) as several more ran around the sides of the house. They later called for more backup as the house was larger than your average state-house drug lab. I got the impression that they’d never had to raid a middle-class suburban house like mine before. Everyone on the property was detained, read their rights, and questioned separately. I opted to call a lawyer who advised me to refuse to answer any questions.

    The warrant claimed they had reason to believe I was in possession of a prohibited magazine fitted to a “.22RL lever action rifle. Blued metal, brown wooden stock.” The officer told me I had posted about it online, which I had—in my public written submission against the Firearms Amendment Act passed last year. That submission was shared on several blogs and social media. I had used the firearm as an example to prove the legislation was not targeting “military style assault weapons” as the media, prime minister, and her cabinet repeated ad nauseum. The vast majority of firearms affected by the legislation were just like mine.

    • Oh no!! I’d better go buy some more guns!

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      “I posted on line that I was in possession of an illegal firearm, and the police came and took it away.”
      – And your point is?

      • senecagriggs says

        A 22 is not-was not illegal. Maybe you could jury-rig a large magazine but since it is a single shot .22, seems highly unlikely. Apparently the individual wanted to make the larger point that the politicians were saying one things [ we only want certain guns ] when the reality is they want ALL the guns.

        I’m not a “gun nut” but I fully understand political leaders desire to have control. When your constituents, however, have guns of their own, you can never be assured of having complete control.

        Is it safe to assume, Iain, you want stricter gun control in the USA?

        I semi-regularly remind friends and political opponents that there are estimated to be 400 million guns in private hands in the USA. The REALITY, we’re stuck. Guns are here to stay. People will be killed. It will be impossible, however, for the USA to go into servitude without much blood shed as people will seek to retain their freedom.

        Gun control in the USA is a myth. Can’t be done. There’s just too many out there.

        • Iain Lovejoy says

          OK, so I misunderstood. He said he had an illegal firearm and the police came and went away when he didn’t. Even sillier.

          • This is a total non-story. He brought it totally on himself, & then whined about the consequences.

            • The story is a nothingburger.

              • senecagriggs says

                Except if you paid attention to Beto O’Rourke
                _____________

                The progressive DO want your guns; they’ll start with the Armalite but will ultimately want the .22s also.

                Hunting knives are next.
                _____________

                But here’s the deal; in the USA, they’re not going to be able to grab 400 millions guns. This isn’t Britain.

              • Makes me laugh.
                A) is about New Zealand. Man with illegal gun brags police come get gun.
                B) Therefore Americans armed with military grade weaponry because that’s their human right somehow will end up armed with just the sticks they can whittle with their teeth.

                Makes perfect sense to me. But then I live in a country where there are background checks if you want guns, they are generally owned by Gamekeepers, farmers & the like, & we gave up most of our handguns after 16 kids & a teacher were killed at Dunblane, because we value our children’s safety.

                The very idea that the man in the street can have an armoury of weapons seems insane to us.

  20. CM, here is a request; could you define an evangelical? I often take offense at things said about evangelicals here because I think I would be labeled an evangelical and many of the things said and people mentioned do not represent me or most of the people I go to church with. But perhaps the meaning of the term has changed so much over the last 10 years that when we talk about evangelicals we aren’t even talking about the same thing. So what is an evangelical? Is it even a useful term anymore if both Paul White and say Russel Moore are both considered evangelicals?

    • senecagriggs says

      Jon, “Evangelical” is a perjorative term in the vocabulary of progressive religious people. A synonym in progressive hands is “deplorable.”

      The critics rarely grasp the true picture.

      It’s people they don’t like who generally hold to historic/Biblical Christianity which progressive have abandoned.

      • Clay Crouch says

        I’m afraid it’s our Evangelical brothers and sisters themselves who bear the responsibility for turning the appellation into a pejorative.

        There doesn’t seem to be much good news these days in American evangelicalism.

        • senecagriggs says

          Well not if you’re a liberal progressive.

        • Do you think news would report anything good from American evangelicalism? That is part of the problem. They find the worst crack pots they can and say “Here is American evangelicals.”

          • Clay Crouch says

            Yes I do and it has. The press doesn’t have to go looking for the “worst crackpots”. Everyday they thrust themselves into our lives. Look at the group of evangelical leaders that surround the president: Jerry Falwell, Jr., Paula White, Franklin Graham, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Robert Jeffress, to name a few. Blaming the messenger is a lazy, cheap shot.

            Since you mentioned it, I would like to hear what you think are some problems with American evangelicalism.

            • Are Paula White and the Copeland’s Evangelicals? They’re prosperity gospel preachers and I never would have considered them part of evangelicalism. And this is why I’m asking for a definition. If Kenneth Copeland is an evangelical, then I’m not. And if we are both considered evangelicals, then it is a useless term anymore.
              As far as problems I see in evangelicalism; a lack of knowledge or concern for church history, a little too proud of being American (I’m very grateful to be a citizen of this country, but it gets taken overboard), a consumerist mentality about church, and too often claiming to believe the Bible is God’s word but not actually knowing what it says.
              And if I’m a little too harsh on the media, you are a little too kind. Evangelical churches are doing good things everyday, but they don’t make for sensational news that gets clicks. The crackpots do.

              • I grew up in the south where evangelicalism and fundamentalism are kissing cousins. There are times when the lines do blur, but I do consider all of the folks I mentioned to be evangelicals. After all, they are members of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Committee. I wonder why he felt it necessary to have such a committee? What do you think?

                I have no disagreement with your short list of concerns and I agree that there are many evangelicals doing great work for the poor and needy, same for mainline protestants.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                Are Paula White and the Copeland’s Evangelicals?

                Are they True Scotsmen?
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              Jerry Falwell Jr who bragged that his shlong was so big his wife couldn’t handle it?

              (Sounds like a pickup line to me…)

    • I think the term ‘fundamentalist’ is a pejorative term in ALL religions . . . . ‘evangelical’ is NOT the same as ‘fundamentalist’

      Fundamentalism in Islam is ISIS with heads being cut off and people being burned alive.
      Fundamentalism in Christianity is some of the worst hate-mongering we have in this country: racism, white supremacy, misogyny, Islamophobia, homophobia, and just plain mean-spirited name-calling thrown in for special emphasis . . .

      Evangelism was never intended to be something hateful, but when it combines with fundamentalism, there are some really sad results.

      I hope evangelicals get away from trumpism soon. It’s hurting their witness.

      • thatotherjean says

        It’s not only hurting their witness, Christiane, Trumpism is hurting themselves, with the fear and hatred of the “other” that they buy into in order to sustain it. What they promote is certainly not Christianity.

    • Jon, below is a link to a search at Patheos. It contains a mix of writers. I recommend focusing on Scott McKnight and Roger Olson. I remember that sometime in the past 10 years McKnight did a series at Jesus Creed on the various ways of defining “Evangelical”. My phone doesn’t show enough detail at the website for me to provide a link, but I recall a link under something like “resources.”

      https://www.patheos.com/search?q=Definition+of+Evangelicalism+

  21. senecagriggs says

    Obama Told Aides, ‘Turns Out I’m Really Good At Killing People'” Huffington Post:

  22. May the souls of the passengers aboard Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, shot down by an Iranian missile over Iran as a result of human error brought about by acts of war and the ratcheting up of war fears and tensions between nations in that region of the world, rest in peace. They are yet more victims of the seemingly never-ending wars in the Middle East.

    • senecagriggs says

      May the ruling Mullahs of Iran suffer because of their ongoing support of General Suleimani who made it his business to inflict death and suffering on his own people and on other people for decades.

      • You are praying for people to suffer? That, my friend, is a mistake. Maybe you should rethink it. You know the teaching of Christ regarding this kind of thing.

        • senecagriggs says

          “Smite them hip and thigh.”
          _____

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imprecatory_Psalms

          • You are using a Scriptural excuse to walk around the direct teaching of Christ — “Love your enemy — Pray for those who persecute you — Return good for ill –“, etc. What you’re doing is Scripture abuse. And you know it.

          • You want Jesus, the Crucified One, to be your idealized and perfect Alpha Male. But he wasn’t; he was alpha and omega, teaching us to forgive and suffer for the sake of love. He’ll never be your Ubermensch. And he clearly doesn’t want you to pray that your enemies suffer. You are not the Psalmist; the Psalmist was processing a partial revelation — the full revelation is in Jesus’ life and words, and in his resurrection.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              You want Jesus, the Crucified One, to be your idealized and perfect Alpha Male.

              Which narrows Him down into a one-dimensional cartoon character.

              Like Deep Throat Driscoll’s Jesus — a Cosmic “I CAN BEAT YOU UP!” and nothing else.

          • Typical for Fundamentalist. Gawd’s Werd is everything between the front and back kivers as long as it’s KJV, that is.

  23. senecagriggs says

    Scripture is a wonderful things Robert. It tends to break through your preconceived notions.
    _______

    The Mullahs hate the Christ. Their destruction is imminent.

    • You have no knowledge of the fate of the Mullahs, or anyone else. You are not God, though perhaps you want to be.

    • They were also created in the image of God. They are maybe more tainted than some, but still… He desires that they be image bearers of His.

      I think Christ has nothing but love for them, even if some Christians don’t think so.

  24. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Something I just ran across on YouTube:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDE5X5Sf8I4
    “Cult Expert Explains how Trump is a Cult Leader”