September 21, 2018

Randy Thompson: Cisterns that Hold No Water — An OT Meditation on Political Power

Fall River Fireworks (2017)

Note from CM: I will be retreating this week to work on my book. You will be treated to a feast of thoughts from our IM writers, who have graciously submitted some poignant, thought-provoking, and discussion-inducing pieces. Throughout each day, I will be checking for comments that get held by the moderation system, but it may take a bit longer than usual. Thanks for your patience with that.

• • •

Cisterns that Hold No Water
An Old Testament Meditation on Political Power
by Randy Thompson

When you hear the words “Bible Prophecy” you almost instantly think of some loon claiming, on the basis of an obscure text in Daniel, that the Anti-Christ is now living in Grand Rapids and is preparing to reveal himself next November, just before the elections. (Something like this is especially likely if the polls suggest a Democratic landslide.)

Or not.

However, the Bible’s prophets can be weirdly relevant to current events without Dallas Seminary’s help.

Every year, I read through Isaiah and Jeremiah, as well as some of the lesser prophets, especially Habakkuk. Truly, these folks were lights shining in dark times. Sadly though, the people of God had little interest in these God-given lights, preferring the darkness of a sensible religion and a sensible God who could be placated by ritual and sacrifice and otherwise ignored. These prophetic “lights” represented a God who was too intrusive and demanding, calling into question the conventional political wisdom of the day, which was to seek peace and safety in political alliances with more powerful neighbors who they hoped would defend them from their enemies.

The people of God found it easier to play power politics than to take God seriously.

Isaiah, for example, tells Ahaz that making an alliance with the Assyrians will end badly. He counsels Ahaz to let the Lord of hosts be his fear and dread, and not the enemies he fears (Isaiah 8:13). Unfortunately, Ahaz trusts flesh and blood power politics–the Assyians–more than Israel’s God (Isaiah 7-8, cf. 2 Kings 16:1-20). Later, Jeremiah will also condemn Judah for playing power politics, seeking alliances with Egypt and Assyria instead of seeking their faithful, Covenant-keeping God. He tells them:

But my people have changed their glory for something that does not profit. . . for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water. [Jeremiah 2:11b, 13]

The light of God was bad news indeed for a people enamored with political self-help, especially the self-help of realpolitik, whereby God is ignored for the sake of other, more practical options, such as alliances with Egypt or Assyria. Unfortunately, such alliances don’t end well in the Old Testament and the prophets condemn them. It is their condemnation of these alliances that, in my view, that is weirdly relevant to our own times.

One of these weirdly relevant prophecies can be found in Isaiah 30, where God, speaking through Isaiah, addresses Israel’s attempt to enter into an alliance with Egypt over against the Assyrians. It begins, “Oh, rebellious children. . . who carry out a plan, but not mine; who make an alliance, but against my will, adding sin to sin.” The purpose of this alliance, according to God, is “to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh, and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt” (Isaiah 30:1,2).

God makes it clear that this ungodly alliance won’t end well:

Therefore the protection of Pharaoh shall become your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt your humiliation. . . everyone comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace. [Isaiah 30:3, 5]

Now, here’s where this passage becomes weirdly relevant, as a little bit of updating and re-contextualizing will demonstrate. Instead of Israel, imagine that the recipients of this prophetic word are white, American evangelical Christians:

Oh rebellious children. . . who make an alliance, but against my will. . . who set out to go down to the Republican Party to take refuge in the protection of Trump, and to seek shelter in the shadow of the Republican Party. Therefore, the protection of Trump shall become your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of the Republican Party your humiliation. . . everyone comes to shame through a political party that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit but shame and disgrace.

Another of Isaiah’s oracles could be understood similarly, although I will leave that to your imagination, as by now you get the point:

Alas for those who go down to Egypt [the Republican Party] for help
    and who rely on horses,
who trust in chariots because they are many
    and in horsemen because they are very strong 
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel
    or consult the Lord!

The Egyptians [Republicans] are human, and not God;
    their horses are flesh, and not spirit.
When the Lord stretches out his hand,
    the helper will stumble, and the one helped will fall,
    and they will all perish together. [Isaiah 31:1,3. NRSV]

In short, just as ancient Israel relied on Egypt’s supposed military power, so now too many evangelical Christians are relying on political power. The Republicans, like the Egyptians, are merely human beings and not God.

Too many American Christians are first Americans and only then Christians. There’s nothing wrong with being an American, of course. I’m proud to be one. However, for Christians, our first and foremost allegiance is to the Kingdom of God and to the Lord (!) Jesus who ushered it in. It’s a matter of priorities.

Furthermore, there’s a huge problem when Christian people trust human techniques and political strategies rather than the Gospel of the Powerless One who chose a cross rather than political power. Sadly, just as the “word of faith” Pentecostals have wholeheartedly bought into the satanic strategy of throwing themselves from the Temple walls (Luke 4:9-12), so have too many evangelicals bowed the knee to political power (Luke 4:5-6), seeking to do the right thing for the wrong reason, in T.S. Eliot’s words.

The tragedy is, right and good things ultimately are subverted by wrong reasons. To impose the “right” things on people is a blinded, short-term perspective that fails to see that short-term political pragmatism leads to long-term moral and spiritual failure. Cromwell and his Puritan army ruled Britain for a dozen years, but by the end of it, the British were sick to death of the Puritans, and their historical moment passed. I fear that much the same thing can happen to evangelical Christianity in this country. Short-term, realpolitik thinking has a very short shelf-life; it is transitory. Only a grand, big picture and long-term perspective rooted in the eternal Gospel abides.

Focused on short-term political successes, white evangelicals seem oblivious to the likelihood that the alliances they’ve made to attain these successes will erode the credibility of their witness. Evangelicals will increasingly be perceived in relation to their political allies, so that Christ increasingly starts looking like President Trump to those who take time to notice. To go back to Old Testament times, the people of God took on the characteristics–and the religions–of the powers with which they became allied. When Ahaz allies himself with the Assyrians, for example, he also allies himself with their religious practices, as 2 Kings 16 describes. The altar of Israel is remodeled to be like the altar of the Assyrians.

A sociologist of religion I knew years ago used to ask, “Who’s influencing whom?” This is exactly the question white evangelicals need to be asking themselves: “Are we influencing the United States, or is the sick moral, political and spiritual climate of the country influencing us?” (For that matter, mainline Christians need to be asking themselves the same question, especially the denominational bureaucrats.)

I find it wonderfully curious that the early church slowly grew and thrived in a hostile environment without attempting to “impact the culture” or “get out the vote” (or the Roman equivalent) or concoct “strategies” of church growth. Regarding the glorious irrelevance of the early church to Roman culture and politics, Alan Kreider’s “The Patient Ferment of the Early Church: The Improbable Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire” should be required reading especially in the evangelical world (and in the mainline world, too.) . According to him, “patience” not only was rooted in God’s character and revealed in Christ, it was the “church growth” strategy of the early Christians. (For those of you who appreciate footnotes, check pages 35-36 in his book on this.) Patience? Think about it. For many of us, the closest point of daily, personal contact with the love of God is the sense of God’s patience. At least that’s so for me. Patience was the early church’s “no” to “wretched urgency.”

Historian Philip Jenkins speaks of the concept of “transience” in his fascinating (and disturbing) book about the vanished churches of the East, “The Lost History of Christianity”: “Looking at the sweep of Christian history, we are often reminded of this message of the transience of human affairs, and, based on that, of the foolishness of associating faith with any particular state or social order.”

Too many white evangelicals have not come to grips with the “transience of human affairs.” Who is in power today isn’t necessarily going to be in power tomorrow. Today’s winners usually end up tomorrow’s losers.

Jesus’ way is different. Good Friday’s crucified loser is Easter’s winner. And guess what? It’s always Easter now! We can afford to be patient. The powerless, discredited Crucified One is God’s power and God’s glory made visible to those with eyes to see.

Jenkins leave us with an encouraging word: “Yet while Christian states have come and gone, not all the apparent disasters that afflicted particular communities have prevented the growth of what is today the world’s most numerous religion, and which will remain so for the foreseeable future.”

By God’s grace, God’s power-in-weakness and “foolishness” is greater than human political power grabbing and political shrewdness. The disgrace of the cross is still the locus of God’s glory on earth, and what is foolishness to flesh and blood reality is still God’s eternally undefeated wisdom–God’s patient wisdom.

So, what will it be? An impatient, power-grabbing attempt to re-build the Tower of Babel here in America, lest we “be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4)? Or, a rock solid, patient, confidence that the meek really do inherit the earth, and that the Kingdom of God is in better hands than ours?

Comments

  1. John barry says:

    Certainly a thought provoking article and my thoughts need to be provoked or I won’t have any.

    So what will it be? What is the realistic game plan for Christians to have a voice and influence in this world and maintain their influence , interest and remain true to their beliefs?

    Since race was brought into the description of evangelicals here is a break down of how white evangelicals political id 14% Democrat 33% independent 49% Republican

    Black evangelicals 69% Democrat 22% independent 5% Republican
    2012 95% of Black evangelicals voted for President Obama 20% of white evangelicals voted for Obama. Did the black evangelicals vote the issues or their faith, I think they voted the issues while keeping their faith. I do not agree with them on many issues but I do not question their faith

    If we are to participate in a democracy we have to make a rational choice using all of our resources to vote for the people who will represent our interest and beliefs.

    Here is a observation that I think is germane to the article . Romney , a Mormon, got 78% of the votes of the white evangelicals whereas Trump got 81%. So the evangelicals voted for Romney on issues, not his religion, as many had a problem with the religion of Romney.
    They voted for Republicans because the Republicans represent their interest and support their viewpoint?

    Obama won the election because he had a coalition of voters who thought he represented their interest and viewpoint I do not think evangelicals who voted for Obama voted for him for religious reasons nor do I think Trump voters voted for him for religious issues but many issues and their belief he was more open to some of their issues..

    Should we vote on people because of their proclaimed faith views. It seems many are upset with the evangelicals
    for voted for Trump as they do not think Trump is “fit” to be President according to what they believe in many areas. That is why we have elections. Trump is not Christian enough but ? is? anybody but Trump. If you voted for Trump you might have lost your Christian values, heard that before.

    I hope this is not too disjointed , I will stop as I know this article will lead to many a good comment. It is certainly an issue that needs to be aired out. Looking forward to the comments.

    • Robert F says:

      The cultural and political values of Romney were identical with white evangelicals, and his religion was different in name only: Family and country, clean-cut, flag-saluting, anti-gay rights, anti-abortion, anti-feminist, white-centric. That’s the point: those are the real religious values, that is the real religion, of evangelicals and their politics. Now, if you say the same can be said about liberal Christians, there is a possible discussion in that; but to say that isn’t so is to fly in the face of the facts.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I remember Romney’s first bid in the 2008 primaries. Though he was the most solid, consistent, and realistic “Family Values” candidate on the GOP slate, all the Christians would talk about is Mormon CULT CULT CULT CULT CULT (with Chapters-and-Verses theological analysis).

        Then came 2012, AKA “God’s Anointed Choice for POTUS of the Week” crashing and burning one right after another while Romney steadily gained in the primaries to a Christianese chorus of “NOT THE MORMON! NOT THE MORMON! NOT THE MORMON!” Until Romney cinched the nomination and all the Usual Christian Leaders suddenly pronounced the Mormons as Real True Christians All Along. (Yes, THAT OBVIOUS.)

        No word whether the Mormons resumed being a CULT after Romney lost and the Usual Christian Leaders started casting around for another Great White Hope for POTUS.

        2016 was just 2012 ramped up an order of magnitude.

    • “It seems many are upset with the evangelicals for voted for Trump as they do not think Trump is “fit” to be President according to what they believe in many areas. That is why we have elections. Trump is not Christian enough but ? is? anybody but Trump”

      Firstly, evangelicals were first in line to throw stones at Bill Clinton for doing sexual things that weren’t 1/3 as bad as what Trump has done. (This is NOT to excuse what Clinton did, just to point out the hypocrisy.) Secondly, even IF Trump were (in some crazy alternative universe) pro-immigrant and pro-choice, I would STILL not have voted for him, because his personal history and personality are TOTALLY incomprehensible with being trusted with any sort of serious responsibility.

      • john barry says:

        Eeyore, A.T. Williams covered whataboutismon Saturday Brunch here and gave a good point of view on the subject. I agree with you that at time it is relevant. I find it selective many times but history is history and you bring up a good point about President Cllinton. Like I said Saturday whataboutism is also called historical context or even history itself.

        President Clinton was President when he seduced a young , junior employee. The majority of American people did not want him impeached and it was mostly a Republican Fund raiser. Trump actions happened before he was President and like Clinton’ actions before his election were well known.

        The dreaded white evangelicals have “matured” and now realize they must be issue voters and be politically savvy enough to vote for some one who may l not personally follow their moral code but who will represent their faith based issues in the political arena. So they were worried about stopping federal funding of abortion, Johnson Amendment got an executive order and have their views considered and valued. Would Hillary Clinton give their concerns the same attention as Trump?

        So you disagree with Trump policy, idea and agenda. You think he is unqualified etc. Again that is why we elections. Trump won on 3 main issues, illegal and legal immigration changes, economy including trade agreements and national security . I think 81% of the dreaded white evangelicals agree with him on these issues , what were they to do?

        • Yeah, yeah, I get it, “abortion is all that matters”. Well, NO it isn’t. As someone in a Slacktivist comment thread put it, “If Democrats had nominated someone this bad I would have voted for a Republican. Just keeping the lights on and nuclear weapons in their silos is important enough to set aside some legislative priorities.”

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Don’t you know Global Thermouclear War is PROPHESIED?
            Arming and launching everything in those silos immediately after The Rapture?
            “IT’S IN REVELATIONS, PEOPLE!”

        • Rick Ro. says:

          –> “Trump won on 3 main issues, illegal and legal immigration changes, economy including trade agreements and national security…”

          I think another main factor for his win was that his opponent was Hilary. Let’s not forget that. The fact that Trump won is as much a sign of how weak she was as a candidate as anything else.

          –> “…what were they to do?”

          If you’re into the two-party game, not much. But I’m not, and there were alternatives. My conscience wouldn’t let me vote for Trump. (Nor Clinton.)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Problem is, 81% is right on the 80/20 boundary where the 80% Groupthink takes over to become Dogma and the 20% of thought-criminals are Purged.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Everything else aside… “If we are to participate in a democracy we have to make a rational choice using all of our resources to vote for the people who will represent our interest and beliefs.” this represents much of the issue. We, as a society, have forgotten or abandoned, the structures of a democratic society – – – as of now, for the vast majority of people, democracy, or living in a republic, has been diminished to picking-a-team and voting. The vast networks of institutions of voluntary association have withered away beginning in the 1960s; leaving our republic a body of flaccid and emaciated tissues, crudely staggering about like some zombie, unable to focus on [let alone address] the issues all around it.

      That the Evangelicals have made a thoroughly corrupting deal in exchange for power is obvious. On the other hand that does exist against a backdrop of a deeply troubled system. It is too often overlooked how radically different America is than ~50 years ago – – – and we’ve never had anything like a coming to terms with that. Personally, I believe barreling out from the end WWII propelled by the enormous economic echo of the industrial war effort, mixed up with America’s racial issues and Red-Fear, we shot right over the point where that might have had a chance of happening. It is nearly impossible to imagine it happening now. Today’s Evangelicalism seems to fit easily onto this stage of the unwinding.

      > “It seems many are upset with the evangelicals for voted for Trump”

      No, it is deeper than that. I am upset with them for not taking him seriously – they wrote off his vilest language and attacks as theatrics, that he wasn’t serious. Maybe they believed that. But now they still defend it, which is moral bankruptcy.

      • Burro (Mule) says:

        The vast networks of institutions of voluntary association have withered away beginning in the 1960s; leaving our republic a body of flaccid and emaciated tissues, crudely staggering about like some zombie, unable to focus on [let alone address] the issues all around it.

        I hate to say it, but Finn gets it right far more often than he should. The problems wouldn’t go away if every clean-cut, flag-waving, pro-white, pro-business, pro-patriarchy YEC-believing (the horror! the horror!) Evangelical dropped dead in the streets from a designer virus. The time frame for this collapse of community participation is surprisingly close to the dominance of television. I know I would much rather stay at home and binge-watch Game of Thrones than join a bowling league or participate in a union.

        We have met the enemy and he is us.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > We have met the enemy and he is us.

          Yep.

          > The time frame for this collapse of community participation is surprisingly close to the
          > dominance of television

          There has been enormous amounts of cognitive horsepower burned on this topic.

          As an aside it is a illumination, IMO, what different groups choose to blame [aka television, etc..].

          In the data it looks like an overwhelming confluence: entertainment (television), economic stratification [the White Collar and the Blue Collar began to experience significantly different levels of prosperity], the enormous subsidy provided for white suburbanization, idealization of The Nuclear Family, and the profound disinvestment in existing infrastructure. Any one of these things might have been a societal stress factor – but all overlapping these changes were titanic, they shattered the America-That-Was.

          The White Evangelicals appears to me much less a Religious category than those now teetering on the edges of that economic stratification [which has only become more profound] as the subsidies which were their economic cornerstone evaporate.

          This is the trouble with Prophets, by the time they appear can people even hear them anymore?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          The time frame for this collapse of community participation is surprisingly close to the dominance of television.

          And just think — that was before smartphones and Social Media.
          Now everyone carries around their own mini-TV so they can always be staring at their own screen 24/7/365…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            CALVIN (to Hobbes): “What does ‘Religion is the Opiate of the Masses’ mean?”
            TV SET (thought balloon): “It means Karl Marx hadn’t seen anything yet.”
            — Classic Calvin & Hobbes strip

    • Iain Lovejoy says:

      If it were just about the voting, that would be one thing. The problem is that white evangelical leaders actively campaign for the Republican party and for Trump in their pulpits and on the airwaves, pronouncing him “anointed by God” and priding themselves on their closeness to them and to him. The Southern Baptist Convention had Mike Spence as its speaker and became a Republican campaign rally. To say it is just evangelicals acting as ordinary voters on the “issues” is completely disconnected from reality. Evangelical Christianity has become an unashamed campaign group for Republicanism, in return for access to power. That is how they have sold their soul.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        I do believe when Civics = Voting then Politics = Party.

        The answer is a lot more Politics; book clubs, speakers at supper clubs [how many of these still exist?], churches finding people to send to commission meetings TO LISTEN, etc… That is a huge part of Politics that we have largely lost. Without that, how is discussion or dialogue supposed to be possible? It becomes one ignoramus yelling at another; which is very unlikely to be appealing to many people.

      • Christiane says:

        “anointed by God”

        Trump?

        I see him as more like in the role of a “Herod” sending his troops to take the babies from their mothers’ arms;

        as a matter of fact, the more this tragedy unfolds, the more it seems to take on biblical proportions . . .

        the mothers left weeping for their children

        Trump as ‘annointed’ is evangelical teaching? I don’t think so. At least not the evangelicals who have read St. Luke’s Gospel, no way.

        • Trump as ‘annointed’ is evangelical teaching? I don’t think so. At least not the evangelicals who have read St. Luke’s Gospel, no way.

          James Dobson.
          Franklin Graham.
          Jerry Falwell, Jr.

          These men go above and beyond Romans 13 in promoting Trump. Maybe they should read Luke.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            From the regular troll on Eagle’s blog (after throwing around a lot of Chapter-and-Verses):

            “I give Donald Trump Praise and Adoration.”

            “Thank You Donald Trump.” (after a sentence on how great he’s doing in the economy).

          • Christiane says:

            AND those men might want to read a meditation by Malcolm Guite, this

            “REFUGEE”

            “We think of Him as safe beneath the steeple,
            Or cosy in a crib beside the font,
            But He is with a million displaced people
            On the long road of weariness and want.

            For even as we sing our final carol
            His family is up and on that road,
            Fleeing the wrath of someone else’s quarrel,
            Glancing behind and shouldering their load.

            Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower
            Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,
            The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,
            And death squads spread their curse across the world.

            But every Herod dies, and comes alone

            To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.”

            • A friend recommended Malcom Guite and I have the website bookmarked. I should click onto it more often.

              That poem reminds me of Woody Guthrie’s song “Deportee.”

              The crops are all in and the peaches are rott’ning,
              The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
              They’re flying ’em back to the Mexican border
              To pay all their money to wade back again

              Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
              Adiós mis amigos, Jesús y María;
              You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
              All they will call you will be “deportees”

              • Christiane says:

                Thanks, Ted

                the last two lines speak to me:
                ‘You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
                All they will call you will be “deportees””

                yeah, I think T and company have worked overtime to ‘de-humanize’ these refugee families, and in the process the Trump folks have exposed their OWN inhumanity, and it doesn’t seem to bother them at all

                • The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
                  A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
                  Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
                  The radio says, “They are just deportees.”

                  • Christiane says:

                    Ted,
                    this is like something out of Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
                    where there is a steamboat accident and someone asked ‘was anyone killed?’
                    and the answer comes back: ‘No one died. Just an n _ _ _ _ _ .” (the “N” word, Ted)

                    Dehumanizing . . . . after a while, the perpetrators of it are no longer are human themselves.
                    And the daily grind of an administration that puts shock after shock on the public in order to break down our sense of what are acceptable ‘norms’;
                    the not-so-slow descent, gradual, punctuated by the sounds of weeping children and mothers who will not be comforted,
                    but a descent into WHAT?

      • John barry says:

        Iain , could you not say that about the Black Evangelicals who have sold soul to the Democrats?

        Are you saying the dreaded white evangelicals did not vote for Trump on the issues but think he is their or anyone’s religious leader? That will be the new mantra coming up, Trump voters are a cult . Melania will be Eva singing “Don’t Cry for Me, Slovenia” . It is coming, Trump is the Juan Peron of America, a cult like following.

        Surely the evangelicals would not vote for a person who got employment rate down to historic 20 year level with lowest black and Hispanic unemployment in history.

        Provide tax cuts and revitalized the American economy.

        Limited federal money for abortion.

        Stopped TPP and redoing NAFTA and other unfair trade deals even with Communist China .

        Executive Order on the Johnson Amendment

        Opposes military intervention of the terrible Bush administration and hope he sticks to it.

        Stopped the stupid Iran Deal.

        Talking and results with North Korea.

        Put a conservative leaning judge to work with Diane Ross and Flo Ballard.

        Moved the embassy to Jerusalem

        Eliminated ISIS as an immediate threat.

        Enforcement of Congress mandated immigration laws and trying to stop sanctuary

        Got out of Paris Accords

        Kicked started American energy sector

        Overhauled the VA Hospital mess

        Replaced Obamacare incrementally beginning with a repeal of the individual mandate

        I will stop there but there are more , You may not agree or support any of what I call accomplishments but they are there.

        Who should have the dreaded white evangelicals who want most if all the items above achieved voted for?

        • Iain Lovejoy says:

          So you are not disputing any more that evangelicals have indeed sold their souls to Trump but it’s fine because he’s such a great President and anyway everyone else does it?

  2. Robert F says:

    Re: the growth of Christianity in ancient Rome: In the first centuries, the church grew by becoming the preference of the powerful educated and aristocratic class in the Roman cities, in contradiction to the traditional myth that it grew most quickly among slaves. If you think power politics weren’t involved in that, I think you’re wrong; we are just not privy to all the details of the politics.

    • After the Christianization of the imperial court, certainly. But what is your source for saying that was the case before then?

    • Christiane says:

      Hi Robert F.
      I would like to see your references to your information about the growth of Christianity in ancient Rome, also. If you have time, can you share some links? And thanks.

    • Rodney Stark’s ‘The Rise of Christianity’ (HarperSanFransisco, 1997) is one of the best treatments out there. He notes a number of factors, including leadership opportunities for women, ministry to the poor (especially during plagues), its appeal to educated Romans (especially as the empire was collapsing around them), and simple demographics – the Christians ‘outproduced’ pagans (much higher birthrates). He estimates that by the Edict of Constantine Christians made up about 10% of the empire. He estimates that by 350 Christians would have made up 56% of the population (with Constantine’s edict). As a sociologist, his work includes a lot of research on modern groups that have ancient analogues (including research on religious conversion, network theory, etc). Highly recommended (by me, at least). NB: And the early Christians seem to have had little interest in (or need for) supporting any particular political party.

      • He estimates that by 350 Christians would have made up 56% of the population (WITHOUT Constantine’s edict).

      • Robert F says:

        Yes, I read Stark’s book a few years ago. Christians made up 10% of the population Empire-wide by the Edict, but they would’ve accounted for a far larger proportion in the urban areas, since Christianity spread in Roman cities long before it spread to the countryside. The majority of the Roman population lived in rural areas and remained pagan until after the Edict, but the cities were hotbeds for the spread of Christianity, and some cities may have even been majority Christian by the Edict. Rome itself had many Christians. The cultural trends of Roman society developed in the cities, and Christianity was certainly one of them. When I say that the early Christians were very politically active, I don’t mean that they supported parties of any kind, but that they used personal influence on friends and family to network throughout Roman society, and to change it. Remember, the personal is political, and nothing is more powerful than people of like mind coming together and agreeing to act together toward certain social goals.

        • Robert, another work that emphasizes how even the apostolic church sought to influence Roman society through benevolence (and networking) is Bruce W. Winter’s book ‘Seek the Welfare of the City’. He is a leading authority on Roman culture and its interaction with early Christianity (taught at Cambridge for years). He argues that many terms that moderns see in pietistic terms (e.g. ‘good works’ [Eph. 2:10], ‘the good’ [Rom 13:3]) are actually terms relating to the patron-client relationship. He argues that Paul encourages believers to act as benevolent ‘patrons’, though not obligating their ‘clients’ as did secular patrons. (He is also against Christians becoming clients to secular patrons – e.g. 1 Tim 5:8, 1 Thes 4:10-12.) He points out that Paul mentions Erastus at Corinth as an example of this benevolence.

      • tophergraceless says:

        “Rodney Stark’s ‘The Rise of Christianity’ (HarperSanFransisco, 1997) is one of the best treatments out there. He notes a number of factors, including leadership opportunities for women, ministry to the poor (especially during plagues), its appeal to educated Romans (especially as the empire was collapsing around them)”

        So basically the early church appealed to everything that the current evangelical church is against. And they wonder why they are dying off….

  3. Christiane says:

    Not even the American Red Cross can get information about the babies and toddlers and little children taken from their mothers. Yes, WE Christians can afford to be patient. But who can explain that to a little child who is sobbing for its mother in the land of the free and the home of the ‘brave’?????

    Mr. Trump, give the children back to their parents’ arms. The children are hurting and they are NOT terrorists, they are just babies who are hurting, and YOU can give the order to have them returned NOW, instead of ordering them to be shipped all over the country via airplanes and buses, which is still happening.

    IF the Senators and Representatives and the American Red Cross are forbidden to even see the children, something is wrong in our land. Very wrong.

    • Stbndct says:

      American Red Cross
      American Red Cross
      @RedCross
      Replying to @christinawilkie
      Please note we’ve had discussions with federal officials to see if there is a way we can help, but no one is “banning” us from anything, and if there is a role for the Red Cross to play, we will.

      • Christiane says:

        ”WITHOUT PERMISSION, WE CAN’T ACCESS FACILITIES’

        “@RedCross
        Follow Follow @RedCross
        More
        We share everyone’s concern about the border situation and stand ready to help. We have offered assistance to federal gov’t authorities, but without permission, we can’t access facilities.”

        • They are not forbidden to see the children. You are being totally wrong. They said they would assist if asked and they have not been asked. It’s totally dishonest to claim that we’re being denied. If Catholic charities had said they were willing to help if asked you would say they were being denied access. Your statement of being forbidden is only in your anger and not what was said. At least do your honest homework.

          • Christiane says:

            I let the phrase speak for itself: ‘without permission, we can’t access facilities’

            I think YOU KNOW WHY the Trump is sending the babies and children all over the country and why he is not permitting trusted people to SEE and interview the children . . . . the Trump has hired ‘private contractors’ that he can control to accomplish this cruelty

            ‘what was said’ I let speak for itself ‘WITHOUT PERMISSION, WE CAN’T ACCESS FACILITIES
            . . . . . and your words ‘not what was said’ are a lie,
            so when you speak about honesty, look upon your own mess and clean it up, and from what I’ve seen of your comments, you have your hands full

            • Stbndct says:

              The Obama Administration remains tight-lipped about the location of illegal immigrant children it has moved around the country.

              Last week, the Department of Defense released information about three locations being used to house the children coming across the border. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has begun using Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to house the “unaccompanied alien children,” according to the Department of Defense. But the Obama administration appears to be setting up other locations to house the illegal immigrant children as well.

    • Christiane says:

      One wonders WHY ‘contractors’ are taking children thousands of miles from their parents, while the RED CROSS has offered its assistance to fed. gov’t authorities. The Red Cross has trained social workers who are professionals, not ‘contractors’, but they can’t help unless they have PERMISSION TO DO SO.

      Who ARE these ‘contractors’???

      “@RedCross
      Follow Follow @RedCross
      More
      We share everyone’s concern about the border situation and stand ready to help. We have offered assistance to federal gov’t authorities, but without permission, we can’t access facilities. “

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      IF the Senators and Representatives and the American Red Cross are forbidden to even see the children, something is wrong in our land. Very wrong.

      While all the Christians chorus “AAAAAAAA-MENNNNNNNN!”

      • Christiane says:

        I can’t HEAR them! 🙂

        the ‘silence’ has been deafening

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          That’s because the “AAAAAAAAA-MENNNNNNN!”s are for God’s Anointed in Trump Tower alone.

          Born-Again Bible-Believing Evangelicals — the most Fanatical of Trump Fanatics.
          Eagle & I have been scratching our heads over that one; it’s like they took The Mark in a bad Christian Apocalyptic (End Times) novel or movie, where the instant the 666 tat goes on, the tatted becomes a Beast fanatic unto death and beyond.

          Kicker is, during my time in-country in the Heyday of Hal Lindsay and Christians For Nuclear War, the absurdities of End Times Apocalyptic fiction were always tsk-tsked away with a Verse: “For God Shall Send Them Strong Delusion, That They Shall Believe A Lie.” Now these BABBECS are acting just like the Beast Followers in their End Times Checklists.

  4. Can we really limit those who “have not come to grips with the transience of human affairs” to WHITE evangelicals? What about liberation theologians such as Jeremiah Wright? It seems to me that it is not only white people who are guilty of this.

    • Christiane says:

      Hello Tom Ferguson,
      how do you define ‘liberation theology’? I’ve heard it used by conservative Christian fundamentalist/evangelical people who have problems with it, but I’ve not heard them define what they mean by ‘liberation theology’.

      Thanks, if you can help.

      • Christiane,

        Liberation theology in general is just a focus on the rights of the poor and oppressed and aiming to change this situation. While we should, of course, be doing this there are certain strands that attempt to make deliverance from oppression and/or social injustice in THIS life a core part of the Gospel. These strands that try to equate the Gospel with deliverance from oppression or social injustice in THIS life are what gives me, and I presume other evangelicals/conservative Christians/etc, problems because these things really aren’t part of the Gospel; they’re an outworking of the Gospel, but they are not the Gospel.

        • The problem is, that relegation of the social aspects of the Gospel to just an “outworking” actually undercuts that outworking. The making of individual “salvation” primary has left a huge blind spot in evangelical theology. There was an excellent post on this very subject at Patheos yesterday…

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2018/06/24/12362/

          • I disagree that it undercuts it. I think if someone really has believed the Gospel and come to faith then works will come as a result, things like aiding social justice causes for example.

            This naturally then raises the question that the article you linked addresses: why are things like racism and other social justice issues absent from so much of evangelical theology? I think the author is correct in his basic assertion that it is due to a sin of omission, but I think he is incorrect to say that there is no place for these issues in evangelical theology. True, for some, there is no place because some “evangelicals” are just flat out blatantly racist. But for others I think there is a place for these issues in their theology because what happened was that these social justice issues were indeed just neglected instead of replaced with some sort of racism. And I think some evangelicals are discovering that place having now become conscious of this gap in their theology. It doesn’t make headlines, but I personally know of several churches that are doing the hard and dirty work of racial reconciliation.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              This naturally then raises the question that the article you linked addresses: why are things like racism and other social justice issues absent from so much of evangelical theology?

              Because of their Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.
              Everything else?
              “It’s All Gonna Burn (any minute now… any minute now…)”

        • Christiane says:

          gosh, TOM

          maybe I should have asked what is ‘the Gospel’?

          I think I don’t separate helping those who are disabled and sick and impoverished and hungry from the acts of love that are self-giving . . . the kind of love that wants good for ‘the other’ for the sake of the other; the kind of love that is unconditional

          so I’m probably wanting to be more like one of those ‘social gospel’ people like Lottie Moon who loved her Chinese people so much that she fed them her food during a famine and she died of the effects of starvation.

          Some in the very early Church drew a line between the material world and the spiritual world, as I recall. Their ideas were not accepted by the great councils of the Church, no.

          I have heard that some people of faith reject Darwinian theories but still accept a materialistic embrace of the ‘survival of the fittest’ in how they view the less fortunate among us. They feel there is no ‘need’ to aid the less fortunate materially, while they themselves have been blessed by God. Some say that those who are ‘poor’ are ‘that way’ because they are not ‘good people’ in favor with God. I admit to hearing about these different ideas but no understanding them much.

          • Christiane says:

            Thank you for responding, Tom.

            The kind of ‘liberation’ theology or ‘social gospel’ I understand and accept is found in the Bible in Mary’s Canticle that we call ‘the Magnificat’ (‘my soul ‘magnifies’ the Lord’)

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXyGh1MW2OM

            I realize that this is far from the understanding of many in the Church, so we must accept that diversity and hope at least to understand one another if we can. Thanks again. 🙂

        • Clay Crouch says:

          Tom, Jesus and the OT prophets seemed to be very concerned about the poor and the oppressed “in this life”. Maybe I’m missing something. Do suggest that I should pick up a copy of ESV Bible?

      • Christiane, Tom’s definition of Liberation Theology is pretty good. Originally, it was a Roman Catholic effort in the 1960s as a “preferential option for the poor.”

        Problem is, in Tom’s earlier comment, he equated liberation theology with Jeremiah Wright, who followed theologian James Cone, author of A Black Theology of Liberation. I found Cone’s approach somewhat racist, and therefore opposed to the gospel. I think the Catholic approach is very much in line with the gospel, although too often in Latin America it got hijacked by Marxist influence, or at least was accused of it. Remember the murder of Archbishop Romero.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Based on my experience at Newman Center in the early Eighties, it got hijacked by Marxist influence up here, too. With a New Social Justice Trinity of Marx, Lenin, and Castro. Most fanatical adherents “yuppie puppy” rich kids from exclusive gated communities like Irvine (a pattern that has held since the “British Jacobins” cheered on the French Revolution from the safety of Across the Channel).

          All in all, Liberation Theolgy/Social Justice got so cross-contaminated with Marxism that Pope John Paul shut it down HARD and the Church had to rebuid its position from scratch.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      I thought the focus on just WHITE evangelicals was a bit unnecessary and limiting, too, and I believe that Trump even gained support from non-evangelicals who normally vote Democrat, whereas I’m pretty sure Romney didn’t. Let’s face it, Trump struck a chord with a lot of people who were done with the Obama passive/aggressive approach, and there was a lot of anti-Hilary sentiment out there as well.

      But seeing as the s is a website for post-Evangelicals, and most of us Caucasian, I guess I see the reason for calling us out specifically.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        WHITE Evangelicals (and their Celebrity Christian Leaders) quickly acquired the reputation as the most Fanatical of Trump Fanatics.

  5. Randy, you’ve made some good points, but you’re on thin ice with a lot of evangelicals. Here is one of the good points you’ve made:

    Focused on short-term political successes, white evangelicals seem oblivious to the likelihood that the alliances they’ve made to attain these successes will erode the credibility of their witness. Evangelicals will increasingly be perceived in relation to their political allies, so that Christ increasingly starts looking like President Trump to those who take time to notice. To go back to Old Testament times, the people of God took on the characteristics–and the religions–of the powers with which they became allied.

    Other good points, which any evangelical should acknowledge, include the question “Who’s influencing whom?” and the claim that we’re involved in “An impatient, power-grabbing attempt to re-build the Tower of Babel here in America.” This is the very stuff that sermons are made of.

    Your thin ice is where you’ve identified the ungodly alliances as with Trump and the Republican party. You may be correct, and we need to hear it in any case to consider the possibility. But this may be too specific, and I think a lot of white evangelicals are going to side with Trump and believe that the ungodly alliances are with the “failed” European countries, socialist and irreligious as they be. And dumping cheap Mercedes-Benzes on us, ruining Detroit…

    Did the Pharisees recognize themselves when Jesus spoke in parables? Did the prophets make any headway with the political sell-out of their day?

    You’re on thin ice, bucko, but you’re in good company.

    Now get ready for the tar and feathers. I’ll make popcorn.

    • I am old enough to remember what American cars were like prior to competition from imports. Detroit’s fall was as much suicide as it was murder.

      As for Europe being “ungodly” – well, if what you’re concerned about is public acknowledgment of Christianity and enforcement of Christian sexual ethics, yeah that might be the case. But in many other ways, socially and economically, Europe is much more “Christian” than we are.

      • johnbarry says:

        Eeyore, One thing we are in complete agreement with is the “suicide” of the poorly designed, poorly built and over priced cars of the 70’s and 80’s. Why would states have to legislate Lemon Laws to protect consumers up to a now laughable 36,333 mile warranty.

        A good example of what was then a true market place response , Toyota and the other sold quality and price and eventually American car owner responded.

      • I’m not the one calling Europe ungodly. But apparently dumping their cheap Mercedes over here is the reason for our loss of jobs.

        OK, guys, note the IRONY of “cheap” in relation to Mercedes. I don’t really think that’s the reason nobody’s buying Buicks anymore. I was just kidding.

        I just read in the Wall St Journal that Harley-Davidson is going to start producing motorcycles in Brazil and in Thailand “to avoid European Union tariffs” and also “to hold down prices, as sales falter in the U.S.”

        Take THAT, Mr. President!

        (Does that mean we can start calling the Harley a “rice-burner?”)

        O, the ironies. O, the Law of Unintended Consequences.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          I live near Seattle, WA, where the dim-witted City Council (some of them FAR left of left) passed a “Head Tax” that would have taxed businesses grossing over $20M a rate of $275 per employee. Guess what happened? Every town and municipality within 50 miles of Seattle said, “Bring your business to our city!”

          Needless to say, the City Council quickly retracted the law they HAD JUST PASSED!!!

  6. While not forgetting that Putin played a role in the Trump campaign, Trump’s presence in the Oval Office is a symptom of the current American state. Somehow or another he is the product of our culture. That is the really disturbing thing. It’s Jerry Springer, Apprentice, “Reality” TV come to fruition and now we must contend with it. That Christians of any ilk could give a pass to this man needs no comment. I live in the Dallas area where Jeffress has First Baptist billboards and newspaper ads promoting America as a Christian nation and advertising live fireworks in the upcoming services. It seems much more like Christianity is an American religion and if you’re not all America (right wing) then you’re not fully Christian. I’m a republican and I’m ashamed and appalled. I will have no part.

  7. John barry says:

    ChrisS Exsctly what role did Putin playing Trump campaign?

    I think Christianity historically influenced culture, society and government more than vice versa. That is changing and if is good we will find out in the next 2 or 3 generations.

    • Swayed the gullible, the not so sure and the completely dim-witted with scare tactics that made the Indigestible Con Man Criminal appear shiny by comparison to the She Monster who was promoting child abuse in Washington D.C. store fronts , etc. etc.

      • john barry says:

        So the people who voted for Trump are gullible, completely dim witted and scared because the Russians did what to make them vote for Trump. Were the Russians promoting Trump’s immigration policy, his economic policy and his national security policy?

        I do not buy it . Hillary Clinton lost because she is a terrible campaigner , she lost on the issues and had to stack the deck to beat Socialist Bernie Sanders, not related to the vile , not fit to eat in public, Sarah H. Sanders.

        Perhaps they thought Sarah H. Sanders was Sarah Harland Sanders , daughter of the famous chicken hawk Colonel Sanders who certainly serves non organic chicken. They could have told her they would not serve her as she is a little overweight but the left would not tolerate that.

        • Terrible campaigner? Yeah, that’s an understatement.

          Stacked the deck against Sanders? I’m actually not that much into Democratic politics, so I can’t judge that. Personally I think Sanders just didn’t have the support in the party and the electorate he needed.

          Lost on the issues? It should be remembered that despite all of the above, she still won a majority of the votes. And polls consistently show that amongst the general population, Trump’s policies are not approved of.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > I’m actually not that much into Democratic politics,

            I probably am.

            > Personally I think Sanders just didn’t have the support in the party

            Yep, I think you nailed it.

            There is also the problem of when you have a wave of new, particularly younger, participants – and nothing is unique about this to the Democratic Party: those new young participants HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Many will, inevitably, be enthusiastic but not all that interested in details; like how primaries work in each state, how delegates are assigned, etc… Process! Which means that those new young participants have issues relating to effectiveness. There are some pretty funny stories about trying to explain process to a Berniebro . . . while he listens to you AND checks his Twitter.

            There is something to be said for salty old war dogs.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Terrible campaigner? Yeah, that’s an understatement.

            Bill kept trying to warn her about her campaign strategy, about how it was going to lose the traditional Dem blue-collar white base, but She Wouldn’t Listen.

            (Even I’d listen to Bill Clinton if he were advising me on campaign strategy and operations. It’s one thing the man is really good at.)

        • I only said that Putin played his part and it was of help with a certain demographic ( the unsure, the gullible and the dim-witted) but that by and large he is not a product of Putin, he is a product of us, a culture made mushy by watching Jerry Springer and eating bon bons. We are a culture vulnerable to a strong man who will tell us what to do and tell us how bad the other guy is and how right we are. Why the politically knowledgeable opted for him has mostly to do with his opponent. They were not necessarily swayed by Putin’s assist. He is a product of current US culture, with an assist from Putin that should never be forgotten or ignored. Now as to why anyone would defend him now, still, even those who voted for him is completely a matter of sticking to political guns. SO much of his behavior is indefensible but critical analyses of him causes cognitive dissonance so it’s easier to ignore his shocking boorishness and absurdity as a politician, a human, and a Christian(?).

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Now as to why anyone would defend him now, still, even those who voted for him is completely a matter of sticking to political guns.

            AKA “Double Down AND SCREAM LOUDER!!!!!”

            Remember “The Coming Evangelical Collapse”?
            This is It.

          • ‘Analysis’ not analyses. Talking into the phone

      • Burro (Mule) says:

        In other words, sh*t-posting on 4chan lost the election for the She-Beast from Davos. This will become at least career suicide, possibly criminal activity, when the Right People get back in power and we get back on track to the Globalist Regulatory Utopia.

        • I don’t know what 4 Chan is and don’t much care about Davos or the Right people. I’m not invested in politics. I’m only invested in playing my part to see that the millionaire liar in the White House is resisted. You know way more about this stuff than me Muley. I do have enough smarts to see a self serving con man who needs constant ego boost to be sure he’s the most macho man in the room. So if you you want Republicans forever, fine. Just not this man. He is bad in the long run and knowing that does not require a degree in political science. It only requires waking up every day and listening. He has done a few positive things but they will not outweigh the negative.

  8. It is ironic, though not surprising, that people who talk about ‘grace’ all the time are the most legalistic people, both in their religious practice (I was a Southern Baptist for 30+ years and know of what i speak) and in their approach to society. Given that, it is not at all surprising that 81% of white evangelicals support Donald Trump. Here are a couple of good articles that explain the phenomenon well, though not naming evangelicals directly.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201702/childrearing-beliefs-were-best-predictor-trump-support

    https://www.vox.com/2016/2/23/11099644/trump-support-authoritarianism

    Authoritarianism does describe (IMHO) the outlook of most evangelicals. It fits their view of God, and their view of what society ought to be (God help us if the theocrats ever get to create their ‘Christian Nation’). Laws are to be obeyed (never challenged) and when they are eroded (like gay marriage or abortion) stronger laws are needed. Law always takes precedence over mercy – it is the law after all. Even if the ‘authority’ they support doesn’t embrace the values of their religion at all (even openly disregards them), they will still support the ‘law and order’ candidate. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, our pastor recently noted that most evangelicals don’t want a Christian nation (or they would elect a president who acts like Jesus) – they want an OT nation, where God fights their battles (or his anointed leader does) and enforces his commands without mercy.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Hmmm, personally I find more of a correlation between Authoritarianism and Populism [Trump is certainly a populist] than I do between Left-vs-Right, etc… Left Populism certainly has a historical connection to Authoritarianism – the anti-Elitist trope [do not try too hard to figure out who the Elite are ….]

      George Lakoff’s “Moral Polotics” (1996) was probably the text that brought this believe in Authoritarianism = Strong Father, Liberal = Kind Mother idea to the main stage.

      As an idea it holds together only so long as you don’t try to think about constellations of particular policies that tend to exist; actual policy preferences, when asked in a useful level of detail, reveal the great majority of people are a complete mish-mash of “conservative” and “liberal” preferences. But they feel compelled to choose a side, and defend that choice absolutely, which is unfortunate.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      –> “It is ironic, though not surprising, that people who talk about ‘grace’ all the time are the most legalistic people, both in their religious practice (I was a Southern Baptist for 30+ years and know of what i speak) and in their approach to society.”

      I’ve noticed that irony, too. Heck, John MacArthur even has a show called “Grace to You” which really should be called “Legalism to You.” (I’ve seen this in other friends as well: “If it wasn’t for the grace of God through Jesus, I don’t know where I’d be,” then turn around and club someone with the Bible.)

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > “If it wasn’t for the grace of God through Jesus, I don’t know where I’d be,”

        Often times this type of phrase feels like a passive way of saying: “I know where you are, as clearly you don’t have it”.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          –> “Often times this type of phrase feels like a passive way of saying: ‘I know where you are, as clearly you don’t have it’.”

          Oh, indeed. Even as a Christian Ive had a couple of these friends try to convert me to their theology, so imagine the poor non-believer!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Heck, John MacArthur even has a show called “Grace to You” which really should be called “Legalism to You.”

        Remember the TV Trope “People’s Republic of Tyranny”?

        Its RL application: “The more adjectives about Democracy there are in a country’s official name, the nastier a dictatorship it is.”

    • I read the first article. Israel desiring a King. It couldn’t be more apparent. Great article. Just tell me what to do .

  9. Poor ancient Israel. One look at the map and you could see they were in for a ride on the whirlwind. They were Belgium. The little guy situated on the natural invasion route. You can even justify the attempts at ‘realpolitik’ but in the end it didn’t matter.

    I’m old enough to remember the “pre-Republican” church. I remember when the job of the church was saving souls rather than getting entangled in the affairs of state. Perhaps it will go back to that. But not without much kicking and screaming.

    • “Poor ancient Israel. One look at the map and you could see they were in for a ride on the whirlwind. They were Belgium. The little guy situated on the natural invasion route.”

      I’m enough of a curmudgeon to think that that was a deliberate choice on God’s part – Israel’s survival was to be entirely His work, not theirs.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      I’m doing an Isaiah study right now, which really highlights your point. Lots of big, nasty countries, pretty much in every direction. Is it any wonder why they had moments of doubting God? I mean, imagine the kid who gets bullied at school every day. I certainly wouldn’t hold it against him if he decided to seek assistance from Bully #2 in confronting Bully #1, especially when there’s no sign the bullying will stop on its own, yet Isaiah keeps saying, “Don’t do it; that’s not trusting in the Lord.”

      Well…

      (And yes, I’m struggling a bit with it…lol…)

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        There is a conundrum: Jewish literature, especially the OT, praises the cunning upstart: Esther, Ruth, Rahab, David. And then there is Abraham, that guy is a often enough an out-right coward [no, she’s not my wife!].

        On the other hand: Trust in God!

        It often does read like – yeah, clever, good job – – – unless it goes badly, then: you should have trusted more!

        > I certainly wouldn’t hold it against him if he decided to seek assistance…

        Ditto.

    • Iain Lovejoy says:

      Realpolitik didn’t serve them terribly well, in the end. Another way of looking at it might be that it was their own silly fault for getting involved in power politics in the first place: they ended up being Belgium when God warned them to be Switzerland.

  10. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    This really reminds of Christianity in apartheid SA.

    Now that situation was a bit more complicated, but basically, if you were a white Reformed (Calvinist) person, you voted for the National Party. By and large, Dutch Reformed = National Party. After the early 1980’s it got more complicated, as a few parties (mostly insignificantly small, except the Conservative Party).

    (White) evangelicals outside of the Reformed churches also tended to be strongly supportive of the government, but less political.

    Then you had the “mainlines”, who almost to a man were opposed to apartheid. The Anglican church had Archbishop Tutu, of course, one of the few honourable men in the world. But there were also Methodist, Lutheran etc opposition to the government. The RCC was against apartheid, but was much more quiet in its opposition. Mayne because many Afrikaners had an inbred distrust of the ” Roomse Gevaar” (Romish Threat). So they were on thin ice already.

    Interestingly, not a lot of political opposition from other faiths, with the exception of some Rabbis.

    Now the Dutch Reformed Churches would have gone the way of the National Party, which has ceased to exist, accept that in 1997 it appeared in fron of tye Truth and Reconciliation Comission and confessed to its complicity in the evil of apartheid. And by 2011 it voted to adopt the Belhar Confession as one of its official Confessions.

    For years the Church had supported apartheid, and ministers had preached segregation from the pulpit. In SA though, evangelicalism and Calvinism survived this because 1) They confessed, and 2) there existed a strong and vibrant religion outside of the state supporting churches- black Reformed churches, and a steong religiousity among the previously oppressed, which, and this is important, formed the majority of the population (over 80% non-white). This is NOT the situation in the US. Can you see evangelical denominations going on their knees and begging for forgiveness for their earlier political stances? I can’t. And if they did, will it be enough? Either way, I think this is the beginning of the end of evangelical America.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      PS: As said in the post, maybe the cause of the allignment with Trumpism is Real Politik. I think this is worse – it is one thing to admit ypur core beliefs were wrong in one area. It is quite another to admit ypu set ypur core beliefs aside for gain. The first has integrity, the second has none.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > Can you see evangelical denominations going on their knees and begging for
      > forgiveness for their earlier political stances?

      No. And partly this is institutional – these denominations are so numerous, so feebly institutionalized, and so very parasitic upon each other. Who would have the authority to lead such a movement? And even if multiple Evangelical PTBs wanted to – who would go first? Because their sect would be devoured by the others.

      There are many respectable Evangelical “leaders”…. but is anyone following them?

  11. senecagriggs says:

    Most currently influential “white Evangelicals” would include:
    Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Alistair Begg, Lig Duncan, J.D. Greaar, Russel Moore, John MacArthur , John Piper, Andy Stanley, Tim Keller, Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley and other pastors/theologians. These actually are the Most Influential voices in Evangelicalism today.
    __________

    I hate to disappoint you I-monkers, but the above named men DO NOT BELIEVE IN NOR TEACH the power of political influence. They agree with the O.T. prophets, salvation is not found in politics.

    I would actually think it’s safe to say that None of these men are fans of Donald Trump. NONE, Nada, Nyet & Nein.

    So REIGN in your imaginations that the most influential Evangelicals of our time are beating the drum for Donald Trump because they are NOT.
    _______

    There are some Evangelicals who are more political including Robert Jeffress, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell but they simply are not classed with the first list of gentlemen nor do they have the influence though their names are notable.
    You will not find in Al Mohler’s front yard a “Vote Trump for President” sign.

    • “You will not find in Al Mohler’s front yard a “Vote Trump for President” sign.”

      But you *will* find all of these men either fully advocating or at least condoning the “culture war” mentality and positions that naturally drive people to seek political solutions to these “problems”. They may not have robbed the bank, true, but they paid for the gas of the getaway used in it.

      • ‘But you *will* find all of these men either fully advocating or at least condoning the “culture war” mentality and positions that naturally drive people to seek political solutions to these “problems”. They may not have robbed the bank, true, but they paid for the gas of the getaway used in it.’

        Agree 100%! They may not be outspoken Trump advocates (Russel Moore even had his job threatened because he called out his compatriots for supporting Trump) but they are culture warriors on the right. Al Mohler has written much about the secular threat to Christianity and the need to fight it, and even went so far as to tell a Mormon audience that while they may not share the same faith they may someday share the same prison cell.

      • Burro (Mule) says:

        No bank has been robbed. The “getaway car” is ambling down the road at or just under the speed limit against a terrific headwind.

        I wish you all would pay attention to Mr. Barry – Whatever victory Mr. Trump achieved last September is NOT because White American Evangelicals suddenly lost their moral compass but because they agreed with him on 1) Immigration 2) Trade Policy 3) National Security. What I find hard to understand is why Trump euchered this into an EC victory when Pat Buchanan and Tom Tancredo had been saying pretty much the same sorts of things for 20 years in the face of same sort of liberal dudgeon as Mr. Trump faces. Maybe the celebrity factor does account for this.

        What baffles me is WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR YOU ALL TO UNDERSTAND WHY NOT EVERYBODY IS S THRILLED TO HAVE A BUNCH OF INSCRUTABLE, UNPREDICTABLE NEIGHBORS living in close proximity to them. It’s all well and good to exhort people to obey the Gospel commandments to love their neighbors. It’s another thing to be told, ‘Oh, and you first, Bucko’.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          “What baffles me is WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR YOU ALL TO UNDERSTAND WHY NOT EVERYBODY IS S THRILLED TO HAVE A BUNCH OF INSCRUTABLE, UNPREDICTABLE NEIGHBORS living in close proximity to them.”

          As a Canadian, I certainly understand that..

        • Rick Ro. says:

          –> “Whatever victory Mr. Trump achieved last September is NOT because White American Evangelicals suddenly lost their moral compass but because they agreed with him on 1) Immigration 2) Trade Policy 3) National Security.”

          and 4) “Hell No!” to Hilary!

        • “WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR YOU ALL TO UNDERSTAND WHY NOT EVERYBODY IS S THRILLED TO HAVE A BUNCH OF INSCRUTABLE, UNPREDICTABLE NEIGHBORS”

          Because, for the greater part, they are not.

        • Robert F says:

          But they’re okay with having an inscrutable, unpredictable POTUS?

      • senecagriggs says:

        That’s not true Eeyore. You miss characterize them – sadly

        • I followed them for decades. I got their newsletters. I listened to their tapes. I know whereof I speak.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Robert Jeffress, Jerry Fallwell Jr, Paula White (unless you don’t count Pentecostals), James Dobson. As counter examples.

      • senecagriggs says:

        I don’t count Prosperity Gospel types – like Paula White. Dobson is basically retired; almost never hear from him. Jeffress and Falwell I already mentioned.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      –> “I hate to disappoint you I-monkers, but the above named men DO NOT BELIEVE IN NOR TEACH the power of political influence. They agree with the O.T. prophets, salvation is not found in politics.
      I would actually think it’s safe to say that None of these men are fans of Donald Trump. NONE, Nada, Nyet & Nein.
      So REIGN in your imaginations that the most influential Evangelicals of our time are beating the drum for Donald Trump because they are NOT.”

      But their silence in responding to their fan-base’s love of Trump speaks LOUDLY.

      • Iain Lovejoy says:

        On what basis are they “the most influential Evangelicals of our time” if they are neither the public face of evangelicalism to they rest of the world, which is Trump, Trump, Trump all the way, nor the people that actual evangelicals in fact listen to, since they break 80:20 for Trump?
        They might be the most learned, or most respected in a “give grandad the best seat” kind of a way, but I can’t see how they can be influential if they are being ignored.

      • senecagriggs says:

        Their’s is not the arena of politics Rick Ro and Iain.
        ______

        Again, I-monkers have built this strawman of evil Evangelicals but it doesn’t actually fit the facts.

        Iain, I live in the world of Evangelicals; I assure you these men are the leading Evangelical theologians of our time. None that I have mentioned bow at the feet of D.T. Why? because they agree with the author of this post until he wanders off into the straw man fantasy.

        If you are a staunch advocate of the sovereignty of God that you realize that both good kings and bad kings ALL serve God’s purposes. Bill Clinton served God’s purposes, GWB served God’s purposes, Mr. Obama served God’s purpose and Donald Trump does to.
        ________

        Personal thoughts about Mr. Trump.
        I don’t think he’s a believer.
        I think he is less than a moral man
        He absolutely doesn’t know how to do marriage, probably not the best of Dads.
        He’s a loud mouth, a braggart and a fighter.
        I thought that his election would coarsen politics [ and it surely has ]
        I don’t think he’s particularly socially conservative.
        He certainly is NOT a globalist.

        Knowing what I now know, I still wouldn’t have voted for Hillary who is as immoral as Mr. Trump but in different arenas.

        P,S, Klaisie, conservative Evangelicals will always be present though the name may change. They are not dying because God always has His remnant – the one who live and breath Scripture.

        • Robert F says:

          You don’t think he’s a flagrant, proud bully and pants-on-fire liar? The bully part alone was enough to prevent me from voting for him.

          • senecagriggs says:

            That’s fine Robert F. But let’s not blame all Evangelicals for Trump.

            And DO admit that he was the only candidate that even gave a thought to the problems of unlimited abortion.

            • Christiane says:

              “he was the only candidate that even gave a thought to the problems of unlimited abortion”

              Seneca, he’s an opportunist who panders to the ‘base’, this we all know . . .

              as to reading his mind, I wouldn’t even begin to attempt to sort out that narcissistic tangle. . . . .

            • Robert F says:

              I don’t blame all evangelicals for Trump, only the ones that voted for him.

              • Rick Ro. says:

                –> “I don’t blame all evangelicals for Trump, only the ones that voted for him.”

                The problem being that articles like this throw pretty much all evangelicals under the bus. Oh, sorry…WHITE evangelicals.

                • Robert F says:

                  Yes, such articles and sentiments are a bias of this site. It can’t be helped, since there are so many post-evangelicals here who are recovering from bad religion at the hands of evangelical churches, but it’s not my particular bias, though I admit to getting caught up in it at times. I got my dose of bad religion in the Roman Catholic Church.

                • Christiane says:

                  speaking of ‘throwing under the bus’,
                  I do believe that any ‘evangelical’ or other ‘Christian’ who supports the Trump is throwing our nation under the bus in order to get WHAT?

                  my guess is they want a ‘political solution’ to the abortion issue (SCOTUS judges) . . . but people of faith KNOW that is not going to solve ‘the problem’ . . . they believe in some gospel that has Caesar saving unborn babies, but that is not the faith of Christ, and supporting the Trump nightmare is not the action of a Christ followers . . . . the path diverges, you can follow Christ the Lord or you can go the way of a demogogue who torments little children and babies

                  I think it is a ‘forced choice’ that a Christian has to make because you can’t bend the knee to Our Lord and support evil at the same time;
                  and the Bible warns us NOT to do evil that good may come of it

                  Are we used to the sobbing children yet? Have we become ‘like unto Trump’s ‘I don’t really care, do u’ ?

                  With his brutal treatment of the refuge babies, the ‘rough beast’ of Yeats poem is on the move:

                  ” . . . . a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
                  Troubles my sight . . .
                  A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
                  A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
                  Is moving . . . “

        • Knowing what I now know, I still wouldn’t have voted for Hillary who is as immoral as Mr. Trump but in different arenas.

          Seneca, I get that. I really do. I kept telling my wife long before the election that “a lot of people really don’t like Hillary.”

          But, knowing what you know now, would you still have voted for Trump (I don’t know that you did)? That would be the part I don’t understand. I hear a lot of people say, “I wish there were a box to check for “None of the above.”

          There IS such a box, simply by checking neither of them. If voters can’t stand Hillary, and can’t stand Trump, fine. Vote for the Senate and House candidates, and the local issues. It’s not a failure to leave a box blank.

  12. senecagriggs says:

    A little “inside baseball” about Mike Pence speaking at the recent Southern Baptist Convention.
    Apparently the White House requested that he be allowed to address the convention.

    There were a whole, whole lot of white pastors that ABSOLUTELY did not approve of this. My best guess, the majority of the leadership was not onboard, he would not have spoken if the White House had not requested it. But as much out of politeness as anything else, he was allowed to speak.

    His addressing the convention was never a slam dunk. A lot of pastors were very unhappy over this. They did not believe it was appropriate.

    • Christiane says:

      yes, this was my understanding also from reading Wade Burleson’s blog and SBCvoices . . . . the comments on Voices were very revealing of the discernment of many that Pence’s speaking was not appropriate to the purposes of the convention.

      the SBC was ‘polite’, but is left looking like a stooge for the White House

  13. John barry says:

    So the majority of people on this site want a litmus test of religious and faith beliefs to judge whether a person of faith can vote for that candidate? You can not be a believer with Christian values if you vote for someone who does not share your faiths code of conduct and actions. So someone, like me, who believes in
    1. enforcing immigration law and securing the borders from illegal aliens. Reform both legal immigration and illegal alien laws to protect the interest of our nation.

    2. Fix economy , redo unfair trade agreements and stop TPP and other unfair multi national trade agreements and confront Communist China on their unfair and hostile trade policies, we tolerate.

    3.Rebuild our military and focus on national security.

    should do what? . Vote for someone who disagrees with what I want as national secular policy. or cast a symbolic vote with no impact?

    Also the “influential” leaders cited by Senecagriggs are influential in matters of faith and religious teachings not who to vote for. Rick Ro. brings up a good point , they may be silent but you are either in politics or not. Either way it seems the dreaded evangelical leaders cannot win unless they come out Never Trump then they are righteous and wise.

    Thank you Mule for addressing the issues, issue . Trump won on the issues. What issues do the political foes of Trump promoting that have merit.

    Keep with the simple narrative that the racist, dim witted , easily fooled by the Russians, I love Merica more than Jesus narrative instead of addressing the core reason of Trump victory, he is battling the establishment and the left side of politics. However, the new message is out and it is Trump voters are a cult and they deserve to be harassed and shut down in public because they do not know what they are doing.

    If you see a you tube video of John Barry and I blink my eyes 2 time and wink 3 times , please come rescue me from the cult. All I can think about is making America Great Again and wearing my red hat. Please no facts, just action

    • You mentioned TPP. TPP was designed to do exactly what Trump says he wants from the EU – remove tariffs on both sides. The TPP countries already have very low tariffs on goods coming into the US (and China was not part of TPP). TPP would have reduced tariffs on US goods going into those countries to the same level. For example, Vietnam (90 million people, 6% GDP growth) has a 100% tariff on cars imported to their country. So if GM wants to sell US-made cars there they can’t be competitive since the price doubles. TPP would have reduced that to zero tariff – so GM can make cars in the US and ship them to Vietnam. But with no TPP what is GM likely to do? They will probably build car plants in Vietnam. What helps the American worker more, building cars in the US and shipping them to Vietnam or GM building a car plant in Vietnam? Again, doesn’t DT understand this? I think he does, but he’s counting on the fact that many of his supporters don’t. He’s selling their jobs and they’re thanking him for it.

    • Trump did not win on the issues. He won on the Electoral college. He lost the popular vote. His specific positions do poorly on polls. Prove me wrong.

  14. Stephen says:

    All I ask of Trump supporters is that when it all comes crashing down they have the courage to admit that they knew what he was and helped make it happen. Don’t come whining, “But that’s not what I meant!”

    • Robert F says:

      The failed businessman’s economic policy is driving that most iconic of American companies, Harley Davidson, to move some jobs and manufacturing to Europe in order to avoid punitive tariffs. That’s just the beginning. Watch. He will bankrupt this country as surely as he bankrupted his own businesses six times, but he and his family will be sure to make a great profit out it, don’t worry. He will deflect blame for his failures all along the way, and his devotees will hang onto his every deflection as gospel, until it is way way too late…

      • John barry says:

        Stephen and all I ask of Never Trumpers is they acknowledge the many real not promised achievements of Trump. Again a few and just a few highlights

        1. Lowest unemployment rate of blacks , Hispanics and women in history. Lowest unemployment rate in 20 years.

        2. ISIS threat contained and becoming eliminated Out of stupid Iraq deal and no new GW Bush stupid war interventions .

        3.Rebuilding national security

        4. Addressing unfair trade agreements and no TPP.

        5. Tax cuts and a better economy than any liberal ever dreamed of this quick.

        6.Trying to change our stupid immigration laws and enforce immigration laws put on the law books by Congress, who will not act to protect our borders. Trying to build a wall that is the first step of immigration reform.

        7. North Korea progress and results, more than expected.

        I could list many more but we have beat that horse to death and it does not matter to some. None of this would have happened if HRC were President . However we would never know about the silent coup attempted by the FBI and the deep state, that should get a few comments.

        Robert F. Harley Davidson has been moving assembly plants and production to overseas locations for a long time. They are not selling Harleys like they use to in USA but overseas is their market now but they do not want to alienate their made in USA base so perfect excuse. Wall Street article dated 6/22/2018 gives a quick over view. Thailand has a 60% import on Harleys that now they will avoid , this factory was planned long ago.

        Harley opened up an Indian assembly plant in 2010 but again did not want a pr backlash . India had 60% import duties on Harleys and a large tax on them also. Harley shut down a KC Mo. plant and consolidated to a Pa. plant.

        Long story short, there will be some pain and discomfort as Americans are hooked on cheap goods from Communist China and other abusers of the one way free trade system that the establishment wants at the expense of the American middle and working class.

        The trade issue and illegal alien issue will show you the powerful coalition that will come together to oppose Trump who sees globalism as the threat it is to a thriving USA economy.

        Oh, that’s okay we will bring in illegal aliens to do the jobs that don’t exist that Americans will not do but we could go to the dollar store if we had dollar.

        • Robert F says:

          All these so-called accomplishment are of a piece with one you mention: North Korea, which involved Trump and Kim walking us to the edge of nuclear war with their heated and irresponsible rhetoric and saber rattling, then deciding to hold hands and back off from the brink, and calling that an historic accomplishment. The only thing that was achieved was an empty PR victory for both men. A shell game, which is what Trump is expert at. You are believing in a facade like the one of a town near the end of Blazing Saddles, behind which there is nothing of substance, or at least, nothing good.

        • Robert F says:

          Btw, JB, Trump said that North Korea is “no longer a nuclear threat”, not just that there has been “progress and results, more than expected”; better get your facts straight, or he will accuse you of peddling fake news.

          • John barry says:

            Robert F. Trump is only infallible when he is sitting in the chair of infallible in Trump Tower When he is speak “off the cuff” he might make errors of omission or not recall correctly but a directive is soon put out to explain “what Trump” really meant but we inside the cult know what he meant after all we can even hear dog whistles

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          I will address some of this

          – The economy started growing under Obama. Economies take a long term to turn around from a bad cycle to a good one. It would have grown under Hillary too. This would also account for growth in employment
          – Lowering taxes has short term influence. Meanwhile he is exploding the deficit which in the long term will haunt you. It implies future interest payments.
          – Immigration isn’t a problem. Illegal immigration has been falling for years. A wall is a bone for the ignorati.
          – “Cheap goods from China”. The poor can afford things becauseof China. In future – no.
          – Free trade. Free trade is a wonderful thing. Trade is not a zero-sum game, as Trump has preached for decades. Protectionism has never worked in history.
          – Free trade – btw, Sanders was also against free trade. He is an idiot when it comes to economic matters, just like Trump.
          – Globalisation has brought more people out of poverty than anything, ever. Protectionism is indelibly linked to nationalism, racism and the like.
          – Globalisation: When nations do well, they are less likely to go to war, persecute minorities etc. Example – Argentina attacked the Falklands because they wanted to distract from hardship and corruption.
          – Rebuilding national security: Where did Obama break down national security?? What are you securing yourselves against?
          – Silent coup and deep state. Oh please. Grow up.
          – Silent coup etc? How can you rebuild security if you attack the security apparatus as a dog whistle exercise???.

          #

          • Robert F says:

            When the security apparatus act as the personal property of the POTUS, and at his whim, JB and his friends consider them to be performing their proper function.

            The conspiracy theorists used to say The Jews, now they say The Deep State.

        • 1) history. Lowest unemployment rate in 20 years – we’ve talked about this before; presidential influence on the jobs market is limited and time delayed.

          2) ISIS threat contained and becoming eliminated – by his continuing the EXACT SAME POLICIES that W and Obama had.

          3.Rebuilding national security – and what do you mean by this?

          4. Addressing unfair trade agreements and no TPP – random tariffs aren’t the solution, as they don’t address the economic trends underlying the drive to globalization.

          5. Tax cuts and a better economy than any liberal ever dreamed of this quick. – we’ve covered the economy. And trickle down tax cuts are proven not to work long term.

          6) Trying to build a wall that is the first step of immigration reform – ask the Chinese and Roman’s how well walls worked for them.

          7. North Korea progress and results, more than expected – and they’re already back to squabbling.

          I mentioned this on Saturday, but it’s worth repeating – don’t rely only on American media for your news. Especially, ESPECIALLY don’t rely only on hyperpartisan news outlets (Fox, MSNBC). You’re being sold a bill of goods.

        • Clay Crouch says:

          I’d wager you were right there with Trump when he decried the “fake low employment rates” under the Obama administration. He claimed the real unemployment rate was closer to 20%+. Now he crows about the rate given by the same Bureau of Labor. It’s a Festivus Miracle! You keep believing Rush, Sean, and Fox News. The evangelical holy trinity.

      • And the US Chamber of Commerce (hardly a leftist organization – they fought Obama on just about everything) recently said the aluminum and steel tariffs could cost 2.6 million US jobs. Doesn’t DT understand this? Certainly he does. But he’s counting on the fact that many of his supporters don’t. He’s throwing them red meat while sending their jobs overseas.

  15. John barry says:

    Well guys, that is why we discuss issues. We will have to wait the course of history to see what opinions of events are. I will stand by my statements and analysis of the current situation as I can see I have not been successful in getting you guys into the cult. Why do people run from Kool Aid ?

    So all the good things that happened are the result o Obama economic policy and not the massive deregulation, tax cuts and all the economic programs that Trump started.

    Seriously, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, surely Trump has done something right? G.W. Bush was so terrible he gave the USA Obama, Romney so bad he could not beat Obama and Obama was so bad he gave us Hillary who could not beat Trump.

    So the dialogue continues , in the background I hear the faint echo of a Trump cult rally in S.C. It is soothing and refreshing to hear the wisdom and concise thoughts of President Trump what a gifted speech giver. Guess what his goal is ———–to make America Great Again or I have to get a new hat, a hat made in the USA if enough illegal aliens come over to work in the hat factory off the books at below minimum wage aka the Democrat Economic Plan . Americans will not make hats or anything, they are too lazy and stupid so we must import cheap labor.

    What will happen when the blue wave of 2018 does not happen? Will Russia be the reason given or maybe the FBI did not have enough time to get more pee dossiers made and purchased to get an investigation going. I wish I was at the Trump rally, I could wear my hat and exchange blank stares with my fellow deplorables, in the meantime we are still welcome at Waffle House if we can meet the dress code. The new policy of no shoes, no shirt no service is fine but we must be allowed to wear our hats, it is not just a hat it is a policy on a cap.

    • “So all the good things that happened are the result o Obama economic policy and not the massive deregulation, tax cuts and all the economic programs that Trump started.” – Correct. A huge economy can’t just change course overnight. That’s just how complex systems work.

      “surely Trump has done something right?” – if, IF, some kind of long-term settlement comes from the North Korea summit, I’ll grant that. Otherwise? I’m drawing a blank.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        Ditto. And Mussolini made the trains run on time. Being ocassionaly right DOES NOT MAKE YOU A GOOD PERSON.

        • John barry says:

          Klasie, Italy only had 2 trains. To show how the world changes, Italy once the most feared and efficient military in the world could barely defeat Ethiopia in 1935 but almost 2 thousand years make a difference. Mussolini was just a duce whereas Trump is an ace. . At the Trump rally we do not discuss if Trump is a good man but an effective President. President Trump does not want America to be good , he wants it to be great.

          I still think it is so weird that Benito Mussolini son married Sophia Loren’s sister in the 60’s. I guess old Benito hid some money some where but not at the gas station. Sister was beautiful too. Italian WW2 rifles are very much in demand, most in excellent condition , they were never fired and only dropped once. I am sure the 13th Legion would be proud.

          I do like the Mussolini references more than Hitler references as Mussolini was a better dresser and had a personality. If only the restaurants in Italy would have not served the brown shirts dinner , World War 2 might have been avoided. :People who serve food must take a stand , no matter if the person is a good tipper.

          • Christiane says:

            Hello J.B.

            you wrote:
            “President Trump does not want America to be good , he wants it to be great.”

            You do realize that ‘great’ nations do not bully little children, don’t you?
            Do you think Trump will stop with hurting little children? I don’t.
            I think he’s just getting started . . . .

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Mussolini was also famous for obvious strutting arrogance, bombast, and a general aura of being in way over his head and never realizing it.

  16. senecagriggs says:

    Randy Thompson was right of course – political power is “cisterns that hold no water.” Reading the O.T. is fascinating.

  17. Robert F says:

    Jesus’ way is different. Good Friday’s crucified loser is Easter’s winner. And guess what? It’s always Easter now! We can afford to be patient.

    Those thousands of kids and their parents who have been separated after coming over the U.S. border probably don’t feel like they can afford to be patient. They probably want someone to do something, exert enough political influence on their behalf to resolve their situation so that they can be together again. And they probably don’t want us to be patient, just waiting for the situation to providentially resolve itself. They want us to do something, and that something has to be political.

    • Christiane says:

      ” They want us to do something, and that something has to be political.|

      It must be political: we voted the monster in and we must vote him out. We are STILL a nation of laws and we are STILL a nation that is protected by the Constitution.

      yelling ‘shame, shame, shame’ at the guilty won’t end the nightmare for the sobbing children, no . . . this will have to be a political solution
      OR we are just seeing the beginning of hell on earth at the hands of this demagogue . . . . and yes, I would give him the benefit of legal protection of the laws and the Constitution even though he has done so much to denigrate the legal structure of our country himself

      • Robert F says:

        I didn’t suggest intimidation or violence, but I certainly believe there comes a time when public disassociation from those who govern with evil policies and those who support them becomes incumbent. The failure to do this at some point was what led to private industries building the more and more efficient killing technology for the Nazi government’s Holocaust project, and using slave labor toward those purposes. You man say that we haven’t reached that point yet, but I don’t believe you can legitimately say that we can’t reach that point, or that it can’t happen here, anymore. With racists like Stephen Miller in the White House, it definitely can.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          The failure to do this at some point was what led to private industries building the more and more efficient killing technology for the Nazi government’s Holocaust project, and using slave labor toward those purposes.

          “Zyklon B — Much more cost-effective than carbon monoxide.”
          — I.G.Farben corporate representative, Seventies miniseries Holocaust

          Regarding “It Can’t Happen Here”, back in 1935 Sinclair Lewis wrote a political-cartoon novel of that title about the rise of a Fascist regime in America (with strong parallels to German Fascism).
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Can%27t_Happen_Here

          A quote attributed to the novel (though according to Snopes, NOT actually from Sinclair Lewis or the novel):
          “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”

          • Robert F says:

            Damn few I.G. Farben executives did any time in prison, and those who did only spent a few years there, and received early release. Many of them went on to become senior executives in other large businesses. I.G. Farben was broken up into a number of smaller businesses (Bayer, Agfa, BASF, and Hoechst among them), but continued to exist as a legal entity into the 21st century for purposes of settling liquidation affairs; it has paid almost nothing in reparations to the former slave laborers it utilized under the Nazi regime or to their families, and the little it has was only paid in the last few years.

  18. Lloyd Thompson says:

    Many apologies for not interacting with you all here, but my wife and I were away in Canada for a couple (of wonderful) weeks and didn’t get back until yesterday evening.