Stuff From the Week

Articles
NFL to make players stand for the anthem. The owners know their fans are mostly conservative, holding libertarian and small government values, with focus on individual rights, so they are making people stand up during a song about the government. It is almost as if the fans are actually more upset about something else.

Speaking of something else going on, White Evangelicals lead the way!…in rejecting refugees. We were the least likely group survey to support taking in more refugees. For the group that says we take most seriously Biblical Literatlism, we don’t appear to be very good at the whole caring for the widow/orphan/poor/foreigner thing or loving our neighbor. Seemingly unrelated to the article as a whole, they point our towards the end that when asked in 2011 about personal indescritions by the president, we, more than anyone else, said it mattered, but in 2016, we said it mattered the least. The author is clearly pointing it out to kick whatever little shred of moral authority we have left right in the balls. It is pretty embarrassing, and yet another reason we continue to lose the upcoming generation.

Speaking of lost generations, according to the federal reserve, about 40% of Americans couldn’t cover a $400 emergency. On the whole, we remain terrible with money.

Quickly – of course Amazon is recording out conversations, apparently if the president blocks you on twitter it is a violation of your first amendment rights, hopefully the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre will win their case against this nut job, and finally, apparently even the American Military has studied the ‘strategic implications of American Millennialism.’

Podcast
I was going to recommend this Intelligence Squared Debate podcast about denculearization of North Korea, but now the summit has been called off. I didn’t really have a strong stance one way or the other, and after listening to the debate, I’m not sure that has changed. However, there is a lot of good information if you are interested in current foreign affairs. The problem is, our new cycle and events in the world happen too fast. I listened to this, then heard this genius say we should use the ‘Libya Model’ and assumed Kim would call it off. If you don’t know, Moammar Gadhafi was Libya’s leader before he was sodomized by a bayonet and dragged into the street and killed. I’m not foreign policy expert, but that seems like something Kim wouldn’t like to participate in.

Mortification of Spin was an episode up about church polity (governing/administrative structure of the church). It isn’t so much about types of church polity as it is about having an Elder board. Overall, it is an interesting topic to me, and one I’ve gone back and forth on over the years.

In the News 11/17/17

Antarctica was once covered in forest, so that’s pretty cool.

Another ‘responsible gun owner’ accidentally shoots himself and wife, at church, will explaining how he would protect himself and others should someone attack the church. It is ironic, but it isn’t funny, almost like guns aren’t toys and this wanna-be hero complex might be dangerous. Hopefully, he and his wife will cover quickly.

FCC again trying to ban net neutrality. As a reminder, this means that companies like AT&T and Comcast could slow your internet down if you use things like Google or Netflix.

House passes a tax bill that along with ballooning the deficit that they supposedly care about will also repeal state and local tax deductions and limit the mortgage interest deductions.

As the article points out, “Repeals many other deductions: These include those for medical expenses, tax preparation fees, alimony payments, student loan interest and moving expenses.”

Not mentioned in the article, and just in time for National Adoption Month, the bill would also repeal tax credits that help offset adoption cost. Natalie has a good run down of why adoption is so expensive.

Hannity calls for a boycott of the sponsors that pulled their adds from his show after he should support for Roy Moore, who apparently likes underage girls.

Related, this article. The Evangelical response to Moore is going to be a huge point in our political history, I think. Then again, we screwed it up with Trump, so who knows? It has been well documented what Evangelicals thought about Bill Clinton in the 90’s and why he wasn’t fit for office. As the article points out, we’ve already given up ground on morality so that we could claim it was alright for ‘our guy’

 Between 2011 and last year, the percentage of Americans who say politicians who commit immoral acts in their private lives can still behave ethically in public office jumped to 61 percent from 44 percent, according to a Public Religion Research Institute/Brookings poll. During the same period, the shift among evangelicals was even more dramatic, moving from to 72 percent from 30 percent, the survey found.

Think about that, the number of people that basically said, ‘never mind, morality doesn’t matter’ went up almost 150%. Trump is the only reason. If we take the correct stance with Moore, maybe we can regain whatever little credibly is left of Christians to have in society.

Quickly, on Moore, he has done nothing illegal, it appears. I want to make that clear to start with, because there are people accusing him of being a molester or pedophile, and that is incorrect. The age of consent in most states, including Alabama, is 16, so the girls that he did interact with were of age. It just make him creepy and weird as man in his early 30’s dating high school girls. As a man in his early 30’s, this is really unimaginable, when I see high schoolers or even college students at church, I can’t believe how young they look. We just hired a guy in his early 20’s at work and another 30 year old and I swear we didn’t look that young. So, that is a bit repugnant and anyone violating the half plus seven rule is creepy to me.

Now, if he did have sexual contact with the 14 year old, then he is, in fact, either a child molester or statutory rapist, depending on how the law is in Alabama. Either way, if convicted (hypothetically, as the statue of limitations has run out), he would be a registered sex offender. Since he cannot be tried, you have to seriously ask yourself, do you believe that his plan was to hold this girls hand for a few years until she was old enough? To me, the answer is clearly no. So, is a potential sex offender who we want representing ‘evangelical morality’? Again, we have Trump, so what is the difference?

Two more thoughts, then I’ll wrap it up. I appreciate that a few people are at least willing to admit, that it is all still just about abortion. I disagree we should be single issue voters, especially when it means supporting a possible sex offender. I’d appreciate if some more people were even more honest and just say they only care about low taxes, drop the whole morality charade completely. That would at least be consistent.

My other, and final, thought is really more of a fisk of this quote by a Moore supporter (and Bill Clinton detractor) from the article:
“All of us have sinned and need a savior,” Floyd said.
Sadly, pastors discussing sin in public now only seem to happen when they are dismissing a sin.
“Of course, moral character is still important.
Obliviously moral character doesn’t matter, we have Trump (81% of Evangelical voters) and you are literally being interviewed about your support for someone who attempted statutory rape. 
But with Bill Clinton or Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby, we’re talking about something completely different.
In what way? 
You have to look at the totality of the man.
Exactly, he has a long history of dating teenage girls as a man in his 30’s. He attempted to date a girl that, had he been successful, would make him a sex offender. This is why people are saying he is unfit for office, the totality of the man. Speaking of which, he is also a man who said Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to hold public office. 
That’s why I support Judge Moore.
Why again? I missed any actual reason.
I’ve prayed with him.
Oh, sure, that’s a legit reason.
I know his heart.”
No, no you don’t. No one knows anyone’s heart. You don’t even know your own. Jeremiah 17:9
“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?

In the News 10/26/17

More anti-intellectualism, not surprising about Climate Change. If you don’t like something, just ignore it, what could go wrong.

I guess someone at WHO finally realized who Mugabe is.

American’s health continues to decline, but at least we are working longer in life. Not sure what to do with this sentence – “Declining health and life expectancy are good news for one constituency: Pension plans, which must send a monthly check to retirees for as long as they live.”

We’ll have a warmer, dryer than usual winter in the South. Most of the rest of the country for that matter. Wetter in the north, cool in Pacific northwest.

James Comey officially outed as Reinhold Niebuhr on Twitter. Lots of interesting speculation as to what that means, if anything.

Interesting thoughts on Trump’s political impact on the view of presidents for future generations.

I hope someone appreciates the irony of paying $1.5 million for a note about a ‘modest life’.

I hope this trend continues, not enough people know whether something is actually an add or not.

Flake is out, likely on fear he can’t win a primary. I guess this is good if you don’t like Republicans, but that also makes it easier for people like Roy Moore (quoted below) to get into the Senate.

His long record of political extremism includes suggesting that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress, advocating making homosexuality illegal and refusing to rule out the idea that LGBT people who transgress against his idea of God’s law should face the death penalty.

Gun laws the Founders actually supported.

Good job Georgia, not at all suspicious or confirming of our shady reputation.

In other state news, Massachusetts may leave the Eastern Time zone.

By this all people will know…

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:35

Jesus said that the second greatest command was to love your neighbor as yourself. Between this and the command to love God, all other commandments would be accomplished. He goes on to tell us who our neighbor is, through the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’. For those whom are unaware, it’s everyone.

With that in mind, I’m not sure what these guys thought they were going to accomplish, or rather, how they thought this could glorify God. Look, even if you think Muslims are the worst thing ever, some great evil, and the greatest threat in the world, this doesn’t accomplish anything. Paul, in Romans, tells us that we do not overcome evil with evil, but with good.

Two guys playing army (or marines) like we did when we were kids, pretending to be tough from far away, while calling for violence and death, does not accomplish good, and most certainly does not overcome evil.

As American’s they have the right to hold the ‘protest’ and to say what they said. We have a legal guarantee to assemble and speak freely. However, one of these guys is a pastor, so presumably, he does this in the name of a ‘Christian.’ That’s what bothers me as a Christian, that they would hold this rally in the name of God, without following his commands.

Luckily, no one showed up. The news yesterday morning in Atlanta was one of concern. You have a few guys urging other people to show up armed and angry. This was disconcerting to police and citizens who worked in the area. In the end, it was just two guys interested in hearing themselves talk, standing alone in front of numerous media.

 

Failing to love

Hey, look at this, I’m actually posting again like I said I would. Of course, it’s not Monday, but oh well. I hope to get something out once a week (or so (ish)). I was originally thinking about writing up something about the Supreme Court ruling from yesterday, but instead I will just a link an article (here is another, about different group’s view on abortion).

I will say a few quick things about it. One, I’m not really sure what to do with it. Hobby Lobby seems sincere in their belief that certain types of birth control are paramount to abortion, as they are willing to provide other types of BC. Part of the argument gets down to when is something abortion, when is it not. I don’t really know enough about it to fairly comment, though that does seem to be the point of Plan B. I think balancing religious beliefs and implement universal public policy is incredibly difficult. As a supporter of ACA, I don’t like seeing aspects stripped away, but on the other hand, I don’t want people to be forced to provide what they see as abortions. The whole ‘slippery slope’ argument in either direction or question of when life begins is a discussion for another post (or never).

What I want to try and write about now is something pertaining to the abortion discussion and the broader implication for Christian and their reactions in the public realm. Every few weeks or so, a few other theology nerds and I get together to discuss, argue and debate. Our topic last night was abortion (coincidently with the SCOTUS ruling). I don’t want to get into the specifics of the abortion debate, at least not yet, but I do want to bring up something that came about tangentially to it and something I see as a big problem with American Evangelicals/Fundamentalist.

That problem is the complete lack of love and mercy. We were discussing what we should do, as Christians, realizing that Roe v Wade will not be overturned. One thing I support is more birth control access or even providing them in schools. This is controversial in some circles, because people think it means we are condoning the action. My view is that the action is happening, regardless, and that even the seemingly act of condoning sex outside of marriage is better than someone having an abortion. Now, this is something I could go on and go into a lot of other detail about, but I’m trying to stay on point. I kind of moved the conversation from there to other morality issues like giving clean needles to heroin addicts as a form of ministry.

Again, one of the guys in the group (probably the only true fundamentalist of us) was just adamantly opposed to this. His reason being, for the most part, that not only are we condoning and accepting these bad actions, but we removing the consequences of those actions. I’m trying to be fair and not misrepresent him, but I believe his point was they deserve punishment and we shouldn’t do anything to ameliorate that.

Y’all, that’s not love. That’s not mercy. That is not justice. Who are we to judge? Are these people not ‘the least’? It is incumbent on us as Christians to take care of the widows, the orphans and those imprison. Honestly, this is why we are viewed so lowly in society. We don’t serve people, we condemn them. We stand on the street corners, yelling and pointing, letting others know whom is and whom is not going to Hell. We see a strung out junkie and say this is what you get for your life choices. Just like Christ did right? No, he said whoever has not sinned, cast the first stone and he offered another sinner Living Water.

I’m not suggesting some sort of moral relativism here, but we can accept people without affirming their actions. We  should do good, even for those who do evil. At the very least, that shows Love. Either way, that is a much better option that ostracizing those who need Him most.