Saturday, December 10, 2016

More On Sarah Pulliam Bailey

I posted a pretty harsh response to Ms. Bailey and her essay on the dangerous lack of faith in the media last night. I stand by what I wrote but for a more nuanced and polite and thoughtful response check out Albert Mohler's The Briefing from yesterday.

(oops, forgot the link to Mohler initially, fixed now)

Friday, December 09, 2016

Sarah Pulliam Bailey Defends An Institution That No Longer Exists (And Probably Never Did)

Sarah Pulliam Bailey, a journalist who covers religion and who professes to be a Christian, seems angry that her fellow Christians are insufficiently obsequious toward "The Press". Her piece, Evangelicals, your attacks on ‘the media’ are getting dangerous, essentially places The Media on some sort of mystic higher level and borders on hysteria.

Why are these "attacks" by evangelicals getting "dangerous"? Because, as she starts her piece out, some deranged guy shot up a pizza place. He was (cue the ominous music) "......influenced by the book “Wild at Heart,” by John Eldredge about faith and masculinity, a popular one for some evangelicals." Um, so what? Well she never says why that was important to point out. I haven't read it but it is a hugely popular book that has sold, I assume, millions of copies. So why was it pertinent to mention it? No idea other than it is popular among some evangelicals and this guy claimed to be influenced by it. Wild at Heart has been out since 2001 and I don't recall it being linked to a guy firing his gun in a pizza place very often. So why bring it up right at the beginning of her article? The only possible reason it to impugn evangelicals who like a book by lumping them in with a deranged guy, in other words poisoning the conversation right at the outset with the people she is allegedly trying to reach. That is only the beginning of the irony.

Ms. Bailey's basic premise is that evangelicals are wrong to dismiss the "mainstream" media in favor of what she no doubt considers "fake news" sites like....cue the ominous music again....Breitbart. As an aside I literally never read Breitbart (or watch Fox News or listen for more than five minutes to Rush Limbaugh, etc.) prior to this election but now I click on every single story they post just out of spite. She then undermines her own argument by pointing out, even while trying to soften the blow, that the mainstream media has done plenty to undermine their own credibility.

To Sarah, a "professing Christian" let's remember, the newspaper is how we understand the world (emphasis mine).

I was raised in both a religious home and a newspaper home. My parents would pull out books for Bible study in the morning and plop them next to the local newspaper. The Bible and newspaper went together like cereal and milk. I grew up believing journalism was a noble profession because the best journalism is based on the relentless pursuit of truth.

Your quick dismissal of the entire “mainstream media” feels deeply inaccurate to me as a Christian and a journalistat least the kind of Christianity I was raised on, where the newspaper informed how we understood the world. The act of doing journalism is a way to live out my faith, a way to search for and then reveal truth in the world around me.

It wasn't "quick", as if we as a group are so easily swayed that we just started reading Breitbart this year and stopped reading the New York Times on a whim. This distrust of the media has been a long, long time coming. Of course it feels "inaccurate" to someone who places an apparent inordinate amount of trust in the media and is part of that group herself. The more important point is that from what she is saying, she grew up where the newspaper had equal or at least equivalent standing with the Bible to inform our worldview. Notice in the second paragraph she goes back to the newspaper as the source of how to understand the world but the Bible doesn't make a return mention. Here is where she goes wrong. The newspaper or other sources of news help to inform us of what is happening in the world but the why things happen is the province of the Bible. I can read about terrorism in the newspaper (maybe) but for all of the pontificating about why the terrorists do what they do, from American troops in the Middle East to oil to blow-back to global warming, the real why of what they do is found in the Bible. The big, "Capital W" WHY is sin and that is central to the entire Biblical narrative, Maybe she should have put the newspaper down and picked the Bible up more often. 

Many people involved in the press and especially those in the media friendly bastions of New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago hold the media in an almost mystical regard. Let me amend that, they (ironically) hold certain traditional media outlets in the highest regard, like the New York Times, NPR/PBS and the Washington Post, as well as a rather jarring combination of far left, openly agenda driven sources like the Huffington Pot and Jon Stewart that are as far as you can get from the genteel and proper format of largely white, upper crust people in expensive suits reading the Washington Post on the Metro in D.C. while on their way to Important Jobs™ that tell people in flyover country why what they think is wrong and irrelevant.

This sort of almost religious reverence for The Media is a large reason why so many of us reject the narratives they try to force down our throats. To people like Sarah with a deep and abiding faith in the media, the media is out for Truth and Justice, acting as a check and balance against the powerful. In reality the press is not that and hasn't been for a long time. It now is a largely agenda driven media enterprise that seeks to mold and change public opinion, not in favor of objective truth but rather in favor of a certain ideological viewpoint. What is especially ironic in her essay is that she thinks that you get a broad viewpoint from the mainstream media that you don't get from "Breitbart"!

The “mainstream media” is collectively valuable because it presents a range of information and viewpoints, while the Breitbarts of the world present a singular voice to a targeted group of people.

Come on. Does anyone actually think that is true? One of the mainstream media's most respected sources is NPR and this is a radio station that has E.J. Dionne and David Brooks on for their Friday political round-up as if they represent different sides of the political spectrum but as Brooks showed in his extremely nasty and partisan commentary on Election night, he is only slightly less liberal than E.J. People like David Brooks are captive, token "conservatives" who are allowed to cluck their tongues and shake their heads sadly at the ignorance of regular conservative yokels who lack their enlightenment. 

Sarah says some stuff like this:

I sympathize with some frustrations you have, including a lack of ideological diversity within some media outlets. Some reporters have unfortunately stepped into more advocacy-oriented journalism and we’ve seen a blurring of opinion with reporting. 

Could the media do a better job of covering various topics — including religion — with nuance? Absolutely. 

But immediately dismisses them as real concerns and anyway you should stay away from Breitbart! I don't expect the media to cover religion with more "nuance" because the media for the most part considers sincere religious faith to be primitive, scary and more than a little dangerous. What Sarah apparently considers "legitimate" media is almost exclusively centered in highly secular, deeply liberal urban centers that are every bit as much in an ideological bubble as us huckleberries in rural Indiana live in.

It also bears mention that sort of like a preacher who depends on the offering plate to make his living preaching about tithing, someone who writes for the mainstream media and probably gets paid lots of money and gets a lot of exposure and fame for doing so has something of a vested interest in having evangelicals who number in the tens of millions in America buying newspapers that pick up her columns.

The press still serves an adversarial role like it used to when they were muckrackers in the early days of America but not in the way expected. Their adversary now Not specifically me but people like me, people who live outside of certain urban enclaves, who have faith, Christian faith of course, and take it seriously and not only allow but insist that it inform our decisions on matters beyond what to take to the church potluck, people who think that laws matter, that borders are necessary, that government is too big and too intrusive. We are their enemy and they are the ones who made us into adversaries. You can only mock and denigrate what people hold dear and at the same time beat them over the head with the nobility of things that are abhorrent to them for so long before they will stop spending their hard earned money to subsidize the abuse. Ask ESPN and their collapsing viewer base about that.

Ms. Bailey makes an impassioned but hollow call for people who don't think like she does to think like she does anyway because, like too many people who control the media and entertainment world, she thinks she knows better for us than we do. We aren't having it anymore. I am not having it anymore and haven't for some time. Listening to news sources that don't meet the mythical  "journalistic standards" as declared by people living in Washington and New York and Chicago isn't something I feel the slightest obligation to do and trying to guilt by association me into it by some wild attempt to link a lone disturbed individual with anyone who doesn't dutifully buy the New York Times every day is cheap, clumsy and intellectually lazy. In fact it is precisely the sort of stuff that makes people like me no longer care what people from the WaPo or Chicago Tribune think.

If you want to read someone who actually seems to get what is going on, check out this essay from right after the election at by Will Rahn, The unbearable smugness of the press. His whole essay is on the money but check this part out:

The mood in the Washington press corps is bleak, and deservedly so.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that, with a few exceptions, we were all tacitly or explicitly #WithHer, which has led to a certain anguish in the face of Donald Trump’s victory. More than that and more importantly, we also missed the story, after having spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on.

This is all symptomatic of modern journalism’s great moral and intellectual failing: its unbearable smugness. Had Hillary Clinton won, there’d be a winking “we did it” feeling in the press, a sense that we were brave and called Trump a liar and saved the republic.

So much for that. The audience for our glib analysis and contempt for much of the electorate, it turned out, was rather limited. This was particularly true when it came to voters, the ones who turned out by the millions to deliver not only a rebuke to the political system but also the people who cover it. Trump knew what he was doing when he invited his crowds to jeer and hiss the reporters covering him. They hate us, and have for some time.

And can you blame them? Journalists love mocking Trump supporters. We insult their appearances. We dismiss them as racists and sexists. We emote on Twitter about how this or that comment or policy makes us feel one way or the other, and yet we reject their feelings as invalid.

It’s a profound failure of empathy in the service of endless posturing. There’s been some sympathy from the press, sure: the dispatches from “heroin country” that read like reports from colonial administrators checking in on the natives. But much of that starts from the assumption that Trump voters are backward, and that it’s our duty to catalogue and ultimately reverse that backwardness. What can we do to get these people to stop worshiping their false god and accept our gospel?

We diagnose them as racists in the way Dark Age clerics confused medical problems with demonic possession. Journalists, at our worst, see ourselves as a priestly caste. We believe we not only have access to the indisputable facts, but also a greater truth, a system of beliefs divined from an advanced understanding of justice.

Read the whole thing and compare someone who understands the actual problem with the media is the media themselves, not "dangerous" evangelicals who don't subscribe to the newspaper anymore to Ms. Bailey. If I didn't know better I might think that Ms. Bailey's essay is not directed at her "fellow evangelicals" at all but instead was designed to soothe her fellow media types and reassert her intellectual street cred. If I didn't know better that is but then how would I know better since I don't listen to my betters in the mainstream media?

Thursday, December 08, 2016

If You Like Your Money, You Can Keep Your Money And Other Lies

I mentioned in a previous post about the Wells Fargo debacle my past experience as a bank manager and I ran across an interesting article today that I think would be enlightening for a lot of people who are not experienced in how our financial systems work.

A lot of people think banks work in the same way they (also erroneously) think Social Security works. Here is the thought process. Arthur goes to the bank and makes a deposit of $200 in cash (for the record, Arthur never has $200 in cash at one time). The very nice teller takes the cash, gives Arthur a receipt and then puts Arthur's $200 in a box in the vault marked "Arthur's Money". When Arthur comes back to withdraw $100 of it, they go get his cash out of his box and give it to him with a smile and perhaps a lollipop if he behaved in line (Arthur has yet to receive a lollipop). That isn't how it works.

You would think that a bank would want to have lots and lots of cash on hand. Who doesn't love a lotta cash? That is actually not the case. A local branch of a bank, big or small, does have a lot of cash in the building between teller drawers, the ATM and the vault compared to what you have in your wallet. They do not have a lot of cash on hand relative to the amount of deposits they have on the books. When I was a bank manager it was a regular chore to ship out money so that we had enough for the tellers, the ATM (which usually stocks only $20 bills) and the vault so we could cash checks and process withdrawals as needed but not too much. It was an expense for the branch to have too much cash in the building and if it happened we would get a nasty phone call or email from the goblins at Gringotts Wizarding Bank the bean counters in corporate. In fact if someone wanted a large withdrawal of cash we would usually ask for a few days to get it in so we didn't get too low on cash and even then we were kind of leery in case we got in an extra hundred grand and they changed their mind. The Federal reserve sets guidelines for how much cash banks have to have relative to deposits, called Reserve Requirements.

Reserve requirements are the amount of funds that a depository institution must hold in reserve against specified deposit liabilities. Within limits specified by law, the Board of Governors has sole authority over changes in reserve requirements. Depository institutions must hold reserves in the form of vault cash or deposits with Federal Reserve Banks.

Notice the emphasized words above. They see your money not as cash on deposit at the bank but as a deposit liability, in other words money shown as owed to customers on a balance sheet but not actually present in the bank. More on that in a moment. If you look at the chart from the Federal Reserve, the most a bank has to have on hand in cash reserves is 10%. So let me break that down for you. If all of the depositors at a bank would show up and ask for all of their money in cash, 90% of that money is not there. You can't have it, at least not without a substantial delay. So in comes this article from Mark Nestmann, Carrying Cash? Be Ready To Lose It. Nestmann writes a lot about the way the government is able to simply steal your money if you have it laying around or on your person via civil asset forfeiture and that is absolutely a must-read on a ridiculous process but his opening paragraph has an important nugget (emphasis mine):

From a legal standpoint, the money you deposit in a bank no longer belongs to you. Instead, the bank owns it. You are merely just another one of their unsecured creditors. What’s more, in the event of future bank failures, the US government has now signed an international agreement confirming that it will not pay off depositors. Instead, it will force them to submit to a “bail-in” regime, like bank depositors in Cyprus experienced in 2013. 

Catch that? When you take your cash to your bank, ostensibly because it is "safer", you give up your right of ownership to that cash. Your deposited cash becomes part of a line item on the financial statement, a liability. They have borrowed your money but you have no security to guarantee their loan. Sure they say they will give it back on demand ("checking accounts" are actually known as demand deposit accounts or DDAs) and that is generally true but like our entire monetary system it is all based on trust and promises. You take deposits of your pay to the bank because businesses will accept payments in the form of drafts against the money the bank borrowed (writing a check) or via a promise to pay using a credit or debit card. You use cash to buy and sell and accept it as inherently valuable because everyone else also agrees that it has value even though a piece of paper backed by the increasingly risible "full faith and credit" of the U.S. government has no value in and of itself.

You might be thinking, so what? The system works, it has generally always worked for almost everyone. The point is just that we all need to be aware and to educate ourselves. There is far too much of our life that just happens and more often happens to us, When it comes to something as important as the money we earn for our labor, shouldn't we know the real way that things work in the background, the way things work that we absolutely depend on for paying for food, shelter, clothing, etc.? I think so. Take the time to learn something about the way things work, especially things we take for granted because those are the things that are most likely to bite us in our collective butts if things go sideways.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

One Of These Was A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

A quick lesson in history and perspective.

This is a scene from the attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago.

December 7, 1941 was the date of the Japanese sneak attack on U.S. naval forces at Pearl Harbor. It propelled the U.S. into World War II, leading to thousands of American and civilian deaths immediately countless followed by thousands more in the Pacific theater, culminating in the use of two atomic bombs on civilians in Japan leading to the deaths of yet tens of thousands more. That day was an attack on America and a national crisis, a rightful day of mourning.

This a scene from the Presidential election in 2016, just a month ago.

The election of Trump, even if you didn't vote for him like me or hate his guts like so many others, was not a tragedy or a day which will live in infamy. It was the result of our Republic working as intended, the will of the electorate being expressed. He might be a great President, he might be an awful President. Who knows? What is for certain is that his election should be seen for what it was, a lawful and proper working out of our electoral process.

Some people think that the election of Trump was the worst thing EVER. A lot of those same people no doubt haven't a clue what today is the anniversary of or if they do why it is important. We suffer from an overabundance of hyperbole in America and a scarcity of perspective.

As a refresher in case you haven't been paying attention. Pearl Harbor Day, an actual tragedy and a day we should remember in perpetuity. The election of Donald Trump, while it may turn out to be a huge mistake following 8 years of another huge mistake, is not a tragedy and shouldn't be treated like one.

History matters.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

I Think They Are Starting To See The Light

It ought to come as little surprise that I mostly despair for the more traditional manifestations of the church in the years to come. Most of what I call the institutional church is so incredibly inwardly and selfishly focused that it seems that they have no idea that the world has changed and is changing all around them while they blithely fiddle in tune to the sound of our culture burning down around them.

So in light of that I was pleasantly surprised to see some interesting thoughts in what I thought was an unlikely place, namely the BaylyBlog, a pretty hardcore Presbyterian kinda blog. The post in question, Is there a Christian ghetto in our future... , is actually a transcript of a talk given recently by Ken Patrick of Trinity Presbyterian in Ludlow, Kentucky at the Boniface Conference. While much of it was pretty boilerplate doom and gloom (I don't think he was wrong about it), I did want to look at a couple of his "What Now" points. The first one that jumped out at me was pretty startling:

3. Third, let’s abolish seminary degrees. No, really. However they may have begun, many of our seminaries have become co-opted by the heresies of feminism and egalitarianism. They turn out men who are culturally hip and, if our own session is to be believed, biblically ignorant. These graduates become our pastors and teaching elders, and it is these same pastors/teaching elders who crave the approbation of the world. After all, they’re the ones constantly pushing the envelope with regard to liberalizing tendencies. I think it’s fair to say many of our pastors have bought into the desire to be credentialed and respected within the broader academic community. Unfortunately, the broader academic community has become stridently anti-Christian, so what’s a pastor desperately seeking intellectual street cred to do? Well, in the PCA they winsomely (can we retire this word?) set up study committees to examine, once again, the role of women in the church with an eye towards the eventual ordination of women to at least one office, if not more. Why do we put up with this? Why do we allow our General Assembly to be dominated by the professional theologians? Why do we restrict the votes of ruling elders, those men who work in a secular profession all week and don’t often have the luxury of attending a GA hundreds of miles away? Why can’t we broaden the suffrage of ruling elders by allowing remote electronic voting on GA overtures? It’s hard to imagine the PCA would allow the shenanigans it currently permits if the more conservative class of ruling elders were enabled to vote en masse. But this is just one denominational example; if you think I exaggerate, go talk to the remnant of God-fearers in the PCUSA, the ELCA, the UCC, or the Episcopal Church. But back to my suggestion. How would abolishing the credential help us? It would thin the ranks of teaching elders to those who have a greater desire to shepherd than study. No credentials mean lack of academic standing. This means there’s no intellectual status to defend because such men won’t have any academic standing to begin with. We will be liberating our pastors from the temptation to pursue worldly recognition—at least to some extent. Now don’t mistake my zeal for abolishing seminary degrees with a desire to eliminate good, rigorous biblical training for church leaders. I’m all for it, but let the culmination of the training be ordination rather than some earthly credential or degree. Let the amount of training be split between the training institution and the church. Let us make our own shepherds, and perhaps we can train them to be warriors to boot.

You might not care for his talk about seminaries being infiltrated by feminism and egalitarianism, although that is true. What is really startling is the admission that the pursuit of what I would consider to be worldly acclaim via academic accolades is unhealthy. I have argued for a long time that elders should be trained in the local gathering (See my post Repost: Home Cookin' for more details). I mean this is something that I had a hard time believing I was reading from a hardcore Presbyterian. I am not kidding when I said I had to back up and read some of this twice to make sure I understood. The church of the near future is going to need men, regular men, to step up and lead without the "benefit" of shipping them off to spend tends of thousands of dollars and years of their lives pursuing the right to put a couple of letters after their names. There us definitely a place for the academy in the church, just not as a proving ground for professionalized clergy.

His second "What now?" is another subject near and dear to my heart although I am an utter failure at it and that is Christian education:

4. Fourth, the church should more actively promote Christian education. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on propounding the evils of the public schools. If you don’t already understand that they are the primary vehicle by which Satan has indoctrinated millions, then you haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on. You don’t understand that Christian education is a form of fulfilling the Great Commission, a form of discipleship. Any further rant by me won’t make much of a difference. As they are presently constituted, I firmly believe our covenant children should not be in public schools. I think earnest evangelicals agree with this assertion, but we have many families who are in circumstances where obtaining a Christian education is not possible. So let me ask a few questions. First, is our education of our children impossible because we don’t have the facilities in which to educate the children? That can’t be true because the number of edifices owned by the Evangelical church nationwide has to be in the hundreds of thousands. We have the buildings and they go largely unused five to six days a week. This is a scandal. We have the facilities to provide the space for education and discipleship. Second question: is our education of our children impossible because Christian parents can’t afford the tuition? Perhaps, and this too is a scandal. It’s a scandal that the Evangelical church expects young parents to foot the entire bill for the education of covenant children. Ironically, even the pagans understand that the entire community benefits from “educated” children, and thus they spread the cost around the community in the form of property taxes. Typically in this country, the Christian school movement is solely dependent on its customers (parents of school-age children) and has no recourse or connection to the greater Christian community for funding and resources. Our parsimoniousness in this area is a scandal. Is it expensive to pay teachers. Yes, it can be, especially if we expect to have male teachers who are heads of households responsible for raising a family. But what about all the resources of the Baby Boomers in our midst, whether it’s cash, expertise, time—or all three? How many evangelical Boomers are retired in their mid-60s with plenty of time on their hands and nothing really constructive to do, other than their leisure pursuits? If the evangelical church is in a fight for its very existence, why aren’t we using all of our resources? Why don’t we have too many volunteers to educate our children? And I haven’t even touched on homeschooling…

Pay particular attention to this part: "First, is our education of our children impossible because we don’t have the facilities in which to educate the children? That can’t be true because the number of edifices owned by the Evangelical church nationwide has to be in the hundreds of thousands. We have the buildings and they go largely unused five to six days a week. This is a scandal. We have the facilities to provide the space for education and discipleship.". 

Yep. We insist on investing in buildings and then leave them empty for most of the week while our kids go to public schools to be taught the precise opposite of what their parents believe. I tried to figure it up a few years again and estimated that the Southern Baptist Convention alone owns property valued at more than $40 billion (see Banging This Drum Again) and that is just the SBC! The problems he highlights get to the core of what I have been barking about for years, the way that the church is so event focused that we miss the people, the community, the family of God.

One of the areas he speaks about that really gets to where I am is his repeated concern about the use of our resources, both money and manpower, in ways that aid the body for more than just making Sunday morning more comfortable. We have so much money and so much untapped talent. Can't we use that to help mentor men and women who have not had godly parental role-models? Can't we, as he mentions, use our resources to help young Christian families with children provide Christian education to those children? What about those that have to choose between a job and standing for the truth: " If you have men who might be losing their jobs due to their faith, what can the Church do to care for these men? When these situations arise, do you know how you will counsel these men? Will you be ready with funds, food, clothing, and shelter? ". I don't have to agree with everything he is saying here to applaud where he is going on this train of thought. Thinking about our financial and human resources as more than just an inward, Sunday morning focused issue and starting to think about those resources strategically is such a great thing to read.

There is still a lot of work to be done but I am encouraged to start seeing men thinking about the ways the church can and indeed must function in the future. We have a long way top go but I think the churches that start thinking this way now are going to be far better positioned for  the uncertain but likely difficult future.

Tony And Shane's Adventures In Missing The Point

I am not sure how I missed this, The Evangelicalism of Old White Men Is Dead. Maybe because I generally don't have time to waste reading the New York Times, all the liberal news that's fit to print. Anyway, two noted non-partisans, Tony Campolo of Sojourners and Shane Claiborne, have declared that the evangelicalism of old, white men is dead. That might come as a surprise to many old, white male evangelicals who have and are and continue to serve Jesus Christ as their Lord and loving their neighbor as themselves.

Now there are some decent points being made in their editorial. It is absolutely true that evangelical Christianity is far too deeply embedded with Republican politics, even when those politics run counter to Biblical teaching (I would point to the love of all things militaristic in the GOP but not to declining to take from some by force to give to others). I have written a lot about that very issue. Unfortunately as is often the case with people like Tony and Shane, the diagnosis is one thing, the cure is another.

Here is one example:

As white male evangelists, we have no problem admitting that the future does not lie with us. It lies with groups like the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, led by Gabriel Salguero, or the Moral Monday movement, led by William Barber II, who has challenged the news media on its narrow portrayal of evangelicals. For decades, we have worked within evangelicalism to lift up the voices of these “other evangelicals.”

But we cannot continue to allow sisters and brothers who are leading God’s movement to be considered “other.” We are not confident that evangelicalism is a community in which younger, nonwhite voices can flourish. And we are not willing to let our faith be the collateral damage of evangelicalism.

Weird. I thought that the future lies with Jesus Christ and His people around the globe from every tribe, nation and tongue. I am not interested in being told that the future has no place for people like me by people who complain about people who don't look like me being described as "others". Which is it? Should we all seek to work together regardless of race or ethnicity to serve our Lord or should we replace one alleged system that divides the church based on race with another system that divides the church based on race? When Claiborne and Campolo laud an ethnicity identified group like the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, they get applauded by the readership of the New York Times or at least are given a bemused pat on the head. If I were to form a group and call it the National White Evangelical Coalition I would be branded a racist, a member of the "alt-right" and a likely reader of Breitbart. What is the difference? Many would say that evangelicalism has always been identified with whites and having a Latino branded group helps to give them a voice but I say that it is nothing less than ethnic identification that serves no purpose other than cementing the divide between the racial and ethnic communities in the church.

Here is another, emphasis mine.

We want to be clear: We are not suggesting a new kind of Christianity that simply backs the Democratic Party. Jesus is neither a Democrat nor a Republican — even if, as William Sloane Coffin Jr. once said, his heart leans left. Many faithful Christians did not vote for Hillary Clinton because of their commitment to a consistent pro-life agenda. True faith can never pledge allegiance to anything less than Jesus.

Did you catch that? Sure, we have to say that Jesus isn't conservative or liberal but we all know He is kind of liberal. If you can read the New Testament and come away with the impression that Jesus Christ was in favor of homosexual "marriage", the church subcontracting our calling to aid the poor to Caesar and his thugs, to abortion on demand, the replacement of worship of God as Creator with the creation as God, then one of us is reading the wrong way. There is nothing quite so sneaky as making a great show of being politically non-partisan while slipping in politically partisan statements. A lot of Christians didn't vote for Hillary Clinton because she was an unapologetic cheerleader for infanticide and on top of that every single policy proposal she put forward was bad for America. Notice also the dig at "a consistent pro-life agenda", which I assume is code for only accepting your reasons for voting against Hillary if your pro-life agenda includes more than abortion. I agree that it should but I also think that opposing someone for no other reason than her slavish devotion to the death cult called "Choice" is sufficient reason by itself. As I have said before, if your idea of social justice doesn't start with justice for the unborn, you have no idea what the word justice means.

Then there is this:

Next year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, one of the most significant moments in the history of Christianity. The reformers were navigating many of the same currents and contradictions that we face today. Perhaps we need a new reformation — one that invites Christians to return to the teachings of Jesus and offers our neighbors a truer vision of how he lived and moved in the world.

I suppose it would be in poor taste to point out that the Reformers were uniformly white men so I won't. Finally there is this:

The words of Jesus — which are printed in red in many Bibles — could not be more relevant today. Despite the terrible things done in the name of Jesus, a Christianity that stays true to his words has survived for 2,000 years. Maybe this is a moment in our history for evangelicals to repent and be “born again” again as Red Letter Christians.

There are few movements more arrogant than the "Red Letter Christian" movement, a movement which by their very name presumes that they and they alone are "truly" following the teachings of Christ, as if His teachings for the church are only found in the red letters and presuming further that only their decidedly leftist interpretation of very selective passages in red are correct. In fact with this final paragraph it becomes apparent that the entire op-ed is little more than a thinly veiled recruitment ad for their "progressive" "ministries". One of the sure signs of a cult is an assumption that they alone have a monopoly on truth and also a demonizing those who disagree with them. I am not saying that the Red Letter Christians are a cult but I am saying that if the shoe sort of fits.....

The calling of the church is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a Gospel that is not a "social gospel" of sexual libertinism, gender confusion and forcible income redistribution just as it is not a "gospel" of militarism, capital gains tax cuts and crony capitalism. Being born again is a theologically critical doctrine, one that ought not be clumsily hijacked to imply that the rest of the church needs to get on the social justice warrior bandwagon to save us from THE TRUMP. Being born again is not a shift of political allegiances or a change of racial identity politics, it is a completely unmaking of the old man (oops, that sounds patriarchal, the old person) into a new creation in Christ. The church will survive Donald Trump just as it has survived Barack Obama and would have survived Hillary Clinton. 

It is precisely the sort of identity politics being engaged in by Campolo and Claiborne that is decried by them in the editorial. Being old and white and male is bad, being a "person of color" and a woman is great. I am sure the irony is lost on them because they are every bit as intractably dogmatic as Jerry Falwell, Jr., a man who I have very little respect for. Telling people that identity politics are bad and then engaging in identity politics on the pages of the New York Times of all places is wantonly hypocritical and that is something else people catch on to pretty easily.

The real future of the church is found wherever Jesus Christ is declared to be Lord. Jesus is Lord in a church that is entirely white, led by old, white men. Jesus is Lord in a multi-ethnic church. Jesus is Lord in a predominantly black or Latino church. Jesus is Lord everywhere and for all time. Where His Holy Name is lifted up in love and in truth, there He is among them and there His church is found. Our Lord has His winnowing fork in His hand and the chaff is being separated from the wheat even now before our eyes. While some play identity politics and seek the bemused approval of man, the rest of the church has a mission to carry out.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

So...who is the direct threat to our democracy again?

It was almost worth the near crippling assault on my senses to watch Mrs. Clinton haranguing, as only she can harangue, Donald Trump about being a sore loser for potentially not accepting the election results just as the news reports that she is now jumping on-board with leftist loon Jill Stein to recount three states (Oddly enough, only states she lost. Weird, huh?). Calling someone to concede and congratulate someone on winning only to apparently try to take it back. When I was a kid, in a less politically correct world. we called that being an "Elizabeth Warren Giver"

Hypocrisy, thy name is Hillary.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Fake News For Thee But Not For Me

So Politico ran a story with the headline: The world according to Breitbart. Here is the headline but look at the sub-heading (you can click the photo to enlarge it)

Now, I might just be one of those under-edumicated racist, sexist, homophobic yokels living in one of those mostly empty red states but even someone as dumb as people on the coasts assume I am still can recognize that when someone says a news source is something it utterly fails to prove, apart from one out of context comment, that qualifies as misleading or as they like to call it "fake news".

If you peruse the article you will find one whole mention of the "alt-right" in the entire article, a single quote from Steve Bannon:

Bannon himself has described Breitbart as a platform for the "alt-right," a term that encompasses many white nationalists now rejoicing over Trump's win.

That is all. The webpage itself does not feature "alt-right" writers or pro-"alt-right" articles. The one article on the alt-right on their site is a very useful overview of the alt-right movement, no mean feat because alt-right is a huge catch-all for lots of disparate groups that the Leftist media doesn't understand, including some they label "white supremacists". So given the utter lack of "alt-right" material on Breitbart, why would Politico label it an "alt-right" publication? That is pretty much akin to describing The Economist as a NASCAR enthusiast publication (I am sure there are NASCAR enthusiasts who read The Economist but hopefully you understand my point). Here is another example:

The sharp rhetoric on Iran ("terrorist regime" is a typical modifier) is often combined with strong affinity for Israel. In what appears to be a July 2015 opinion piece about the nuclear deal President Barack Obama's administration reached with Iran and five other countries, the author asserts, "Obama wants Iran to be a regional power, because Obama fears Israel more than he fears Iran."

Breitbart has a Jerusalem bureau, which oversees much of its Middle East coverage. Its stories and opinion pieces in general brook little sympathy for the Palestinians, who are frequently described as terrorists. Meanwhile, people or institutions that try to hold Israel to account for some of its behavior, such as its construction of settlements on land claimed by Palestinians, are often called out. "A very incomplete list of anti-Israel biases at The New York Times," was one such piece in October 2015.

Such pro-Israel coverage stands at odds with the anti-Semitic views of many in the white nationalist community that holds Breitbart News so dear. At the same time, it could comfort supporters of Israel who fear Bannon may have been influenced by such anti-Semitism. (Bannon himself has been accused of anti-Semitic comments by his ex-wife, claims he denies. Trump on Tuesday insisted Bannon was not at all a racist.) Such pro-Israel coverage stands at odds with the anti-Semitic views of many in the white nationalist community that holds Breitbart News so dear. At the same time, it could comfort supporters of Israel who fear Bannon may have been influenced by such anti-Semitism. (Bannon himself has been accused of anti-Semitic comments by his ex-wife, claims he denies. Trump on Tuesday insisted Bannon was not at all a racist.)

Notice what they did there. On the one hand they admit that Breitbart has a "strong affinity for Israel" but then they write "Such pro-Israel coverage stands at odds with the anti-Semitic views of many in the white nationalist community that holds Breitbart News so dear." So which is it? Is Breitbart anti-Semitic or nor? Is Steve Bannon "influenced" by anti-Semitism? It seems unlikely that an anti-Semite would be so favorable toward Israel but if you throw it into a story, even without any evidence to support the idea, people who skim the story come away with "Breitbart is an anti-Semitic, alt-right publication and can be and should be ignored". 

Why would Politico publish an article that has a completely erroneous sub-heading and is full of misleading information? The answer is pretty simple. Politico is a highly partisan publication and like many "reputable" publications they are insanely jealous of their self-declared prerogative to determine what is or is not newsworthy. After being caught with their proverbial pants down on Election night, the media is bound and determined to not let that happen again. Thus the new narrative that "fake news" caused Hillary to lose (instead of her own personal repugnance) and that anyone who is outside of the cool kids club of journalism is of course a publication of the "alt-right", a term itself that almost no one understands or can define but which nevertheless is a useful way to imply someone is a racist without actually being so crass as to just call them a racist.  

I have been watching these developments with no small amount of alarm because they amount to a subtle form of censorship. While the political Left is still equal parts befuddled and enraged, the media Left is already moving to ensure that this never happens again ("this" defined as the peasants in the middle of the country not following orders from their coastal betters). Too many people are basking in the afterglow of the Trump win and not paying attention to how quickly a) he is abandoning his campaign promises, which I fully expected and b) the media is moving to squash and discredit contrary news and opinion sources. People who love liberty and the freedom to exchange ideas in the intellectual marketplace have a lot of be concerned about as Trump takes office. The media/bureaucratic elites and the Trumpian pseudo-populists are about to go to war and the truth is likely to be the first casualty. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Feeling Thankful? Why Not Help Others Feel Thankful Today!

Most Americans are feeling thankful today, even those taking a break from gnashing their teeth over the events of November 8th. As a sign of our gratitude we are going to eat enough food to feed a village in Bangladesh for a week and prepare to buy lots of stuff we don't need. Maybe we can take some of our disposable income and help people who are probably more thankful than we are and have a lot less than we do. Helping others today is something we can really be thankful for.

This morning I sent small donations to the Hope Community Project, dedicated to keeping Haitian families together, and International Faith Ministries, another Haiti focused on education and health care for Haitians. To learn more about either organization you can click on the links above or watch the video below.

Who We Are from Hope Community Project on Vimeo.

It doesn't really matter who you give to as long as it is actually helping people (if you want to help animals, have another serving of turkey to cut down on the rampant turkey overpopulation). What the two groups above have in common is that I know the people who run them. With the Hope Community Project I know Les Prouty the executive director and Julie Brouwer and her family who live in Haiti from a mission trip I was on with her. With IFM, we know Durwin Miller, the Executive Director, and his family from church. I am a big believer is giving locally and/or to people you know and trust. It is easy to fire off a donation to one of the Wal-Mart style, "big box" Christian aid groups but for me I want to know who is on the receiving end and what they are doing with the funds I am sending (preferably not spending it all on staff and fundraising).

Anyway, give if you feel led to wherever you want. You won't go wrong with either group above but there are lots of great mission groups out there.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The True Meaning Of Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Coming Of The Thought-Police

Last night I noted in a Facebook post that some social media platforms have decided to "police" their content more strictly to make themselves arbiters of what is "real" news or hate speech or whatever else is unacceptable on social media (heretofore a simultaneous combination a great means of side-stepping the mainstream media and a cesspool of misinformation and ignorance):

Then today we get the news that Twitter has fired the first shot in purging unacceptable thought from their platform by suspending the accounts of members of the "alt-right" .

Twitter has suspended the accounts of a number of people associated with the alt-right movement who advocate white nationalism and who supported President-elect Donald Trump.

Among those whose accounts have been suspended is Richard Spencer, president and director of the National Policy Institute, which identifies itself as an "organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world."

The Twitter account for the institute and its online magazine,, were also suspended.

This is not surprising and the timing is likewise very predictable. A major part of the narrative being spun by the Hillary Clinton camp is that her campaign was undone by a combination of the Comey letter and false news stories. Another take being spun is that racism. misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, the shadowy "alt-right", etc., in other words members of Mrs. Clinton's famous "basket of deplorables" were responsible. It is unimaginable that people didn't vote for her because she is so thoroughly and openly corrupt and dishonest that no one trusted her so a scapegoat must be found. In order to try to avoid a repeat performance in 2018 and beyond, it seems to me that the overwhelmingly leftist media platforms are seeking to suppress any voices that do not support what they falsely describe as "progress". For so many decades the Left controlled print media and the three major broadcast stations. With the advent of cable news and talk radio and then the internet, the Left largely lost exclusive control of the media and I am sure they blame their current inability to control the narrative (and the redneck ignoramus public in rural America) on the failure of America to anoint Hillary Queen for Life.

Note, I am not defending or advocating for the "alt-right", although I am pretty certain that 99% of people who use the term "alt-right" have no idea what the alt-right believes in and have never read a single thing they have written. What I am pointing out is that it is not that big a step to go from suspending unpopular voices from the alt-right to suspending regular conservatives, Christians, really anyone who dares have a counter-cultural voice. Fortunately there are already independent voices out there like GAB that retain a commitment to censorship-free expression but too many people are so dependent on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, etc. for their news and opinion that they will have no idea to what extent they are being carefully fed only a certain perspective and how that will impact their opinions and their votes.

Pay attention friends. Far too many of the people at the top of the media/culture food chain are hellbent on destroying anyone and anything that they disagree with. Inform yourself and keep your eyes open.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Bitter Self-Loathing Of A Liberal Man Holding A 'Rape Melania' Sign

So as you might recall, Donald Trump won the election last week. You might not have heard anything about it unless you really pay close attention to the obscure news items. Anyway, after the legally held elections Donald Trump was the victor, just like Barack Obama twice before him, and George W. Bush, and William Clinton get the picture. This has not set well with the entitlement class and many of them are freaking out in a variety of ways including a number of "protests". Last night a charming "progressive" fella was photographed holding up a charming sign:

Rape Melania. Hoo boy that is some clever political commentary right there.

Which begs the question, what sort of filth would go out in public with a sign calling for the rape of the soon to be First Lady or really of any woman for that matter? After all, aren't Republicans the party of woman hating? What noble progressive purpose could it hold?

Maybe none.

Ready for some amateur pop psychoanalysis?

It has been my position for a long time that many liberal men who profess their devotion to the cult of feminism in fact a) more or less openly hate themselves and b) secretly hate women. Their politics prevent them from saying the nasty things about women that they are thinking unless a prominent conservative woman comes along and then they are fair game. For example, witness the ugly stuff said to and about Sarah Palin for daring to be a prominent woman in politics for the "wrong" party. You can see some charming examples of this here and here. If you are feeling especially brave you can look here at The Daily Kos, a cesspool of leftist ignorance, reporting on female feminists taking "progressive" men like Bill Maher to ask. Be forewarned that the language in the report is grotesque and vulgar and the general content on The Daily Kos is breathtakingly stupid and misinformed. I am no fan of Sarah Palin but as a man I don't think wishing harm to her or her children is funny or clever.

I say these "men" who say such vicious stuff about women while parading their own self of superiority for being so enlightened hate themselves because they have, consciously or unconsciously, abdicated their masculinity in the service of a misguided political philosophy. In other words the have emasculated themselves and are enraged by it. I believe they secretly hate women because they blame women for their own self-emasculation and thus they jump at any chance to say the vicious things in their heart about women when they can target without fear of repercussion from feminists.

Men and women are created distinctly and in a complementary way. We are wired differently by design. When you try to deny and defile that created order it has deep consequences, just as defiling human sexuality via various sexually deviant behaviors like homosexuality, pedophilia, incest, etc. is a sign of and a contributing factor to deep psychological disorder. Men who willingly cede to women what they are created for cause some sort of dissonance that occasionally manifests itself in holding a "Rape Melania" sign. Someone who would do that hates women and hates himself.

There are plenty of ways to work in opposition to Donald Trump and people on both sides of the political spectrum will do so. Threatening or wishing his wife to be sexually assaulted isn't one of them. Hopefully this guy gets some therapy and at some point grows up and becomes an actual man who cares for, protects and provides for women instead of secretly loathing them.

See, this is why I am not a psychotherapist.